Love Is The Darkest Art
A Dramione fanfic serial
Hermione was irritated and everyone knew it. Though no one was aware she’d had restless sleep the night before, they just assumed she was ticked off at Professor Umbridge’s new teaching technique. That was no surprise, as everyone thought the new curriculum was taking steps backward instead of forwards. In fact not long ago Hermione had suggested that Harry teach the students defense against the dark arts. After all, he survived last year’s attack from Voldemort that had taken Cedric Diggory’s life. Harry hadn’t given an answer but still Hermione was hopeful. Things couldn’t go on like this. Umbridge was destroying the school from within. And she was possibly destroying Hermione in a more personal way as well.
The Gryffindor girl sat in her seat, half listening to Umbridge, who often glanced her way with a smug look on her face. Hermione tried to ignore her haughty glares, but it was as if she knew something that Hermione didn’t. And why wasn’t Draco in class? He’d never told her what their meeting was about. Never said what the woman wanted. Just that there was nothing to worry about or some such. But what if it were something? Was that why Draco was absent? Where was her love?
Hermione stopped herself. Her love? Did I just think of Draco as my love, she asked herself. Did a couple kisses, or even making out, mean I am in love now? Just what constituted love anyway? Before she had time to consider this question, Umbridge called upon her. She’d only been half listening, but Hermione knew the answer anyway. Still, instead of her usual excitement of knowing it, she gave the answer in a quiet, almost beaten voice. To this, Dolores Umbridge looked very pleased.
Hermione looked down at her textbook. The open page was sparse in its text and she found herself wanting to write Draco’s name there. Perhaps it would have made her feel better to see it on paper, to trace her fingers over the letters the way she had traced his cheek in the tent the day before. For a moment she thought she caught a whiff of his earthy scent and she looked to the classroom door, hopeful that he had finally arrived to class. But it wasn’t him. It was Neville Longbottom, who apparently was also tardy for class. He looked a bit disheveled, which was nothing out of the ordinary. His hair wasn’t always the neatest, but this time it was more than that. He looked like he’d been in a scuffle of sorts.
“Mr. Longbottom,” Dolores said. “Do I need to give you detention, too?” She cast a glance toward Harry and smiled cruelly. It was well known he was still having to spend afternoons under her pubishment rather than on the Quidditch field.
“No..no mam,” Neville stuttered, worried he would be joining Potter after hours.
“Then perhaps you would like to present me with your tardy excuse?”
She held out her hand as if waiting for him to slip a doctor’s excuse or something into her open palm. When he didn’t she smiled, but it wasn’t friendly.
“I will not tolerate tardiness in my class. If you are late again…oh wait, I see there’s another student missing.” She looked around the room. “It seems Mr Malfoy is not here.”
She looked at Hermione and smirked. “Oh my, what a shame. And until recently he was a good student too.” She looked back at Neville. “Find your seat and sit in it,” she snarled. “And do not be late again…ever.”
Longbottom quickly found his seat. The classroom was silent. Umbridge took in this fearful reverence and ate it up. Taking another sharp glance at Hermione, she finally said with a sneer, “Well, I do hope Draco is alright…”
After class, Hermione went looking for Draco, but she couldn’t find him. However, she heard the rumors. One said he’d been at school earlier but his father dragged him out by his collar. Another said he’d gotten into a fight with Neville over the practicality of allowing muggles in Hogwarts. And there were other rumors too. Professor Trelawney had been put on Probation. Potions master Snape had been admonished in front of his class by Umbridge earlier that morning. And that an educational decree had been posted forbidding boys and girls from being closer than 8 inches from each other.
All this is Umbridge , Hermione thought. And where’s Draco. What has she done to him? She wasn’t sure about the rumors. Maybe he did fight with Neville. Longbottom had been late and appeared a bit more rattled than usual. And why was she so rattled about not seeing Draco since yesterday? What was happening to her? Already she was having trouble concentrating on… Wait, there it went again. That earthy Sandalwood scent that reminded her of Draco. She looked around in the hallway in which she stood. Students were hurrying to classes. Prefects, of which she was one, moved among everyone making sure no one was doing anything against school rules. She thought maybe it was Neville again carrying that scent but she didn’t see him anywhere either. Where was it coming from?
She saw Harry and Ron talking to a Gryffindor first year, apparently giving him directions to his class. Luna Lovegood was talking to herself as usual, while Crabbe and Goyle, minus Draco, picked on a Hufflepuff boy who looked nearly in tears. If anyone knew where Draco was it would be them. She started towards them, half of her ready to grill them about Malfoy, the other half upset they were picking on someone twice as small as them.
She was halfway towards them and they were yet to notice. She opened her mouth to shout in their direction when something whipped over her head. A dark cloth covered her entire frame and spun her around to disorient her. She fell into a tight grip as she struggled beneath the confines of the pitch darkness. She opened her mouth to scream but a hand quickly covered her lips.
“Shhhh,” a low voice commanded. “Don’t scream or they’ll know we’re here.”
She looked towards the voice and saw a boy. Pale skin. White blonde hair. Mischievous smile.
“Draco,” she nearly shouted. She could have leapt into his arms and she almost did.
“Shhh, stand still or they’ll see us.”
She looked around them. Students were still moving through the halls, socializing between classes. But despite all the activity no one seemed to notice them. Not even Crabbe and Goyle who were mere feet away. And it was then she remembered the cloth that had been thrown over her head and wrapped around her.
“An invisibility cloak!” she whispered.
He smiled. “With a repelling charm. Once in use it compels anyone outside of it to avoid walking into it.”
She laughed a little under her breath. “Wow, where did you. ..:
Before she could finish the question he covered her mouth with his and pulled her so close she could feel his beating heart against her chest. The kiss was short, just enough to silence her in a wondrous way.
“I always wanted to kiss you in front of everyone,” he whispered.
Hermione smiled sadly as if about to cry. A tear formed in the corner of her eye.
“Don’t you dare,” Draco admonished quietly. He kissed the tear and as it touched his bottom lip, he put his hand against her breast. It wasn’t a sexual gesture but one of completeness. “Your heartbeat sings to me,” he said. “It calls to my soul. I cannot bear the thought of…” He hesitated. “Of…not having this.” He hugged her and she lay her head on his shoulder letting the tears come.
“My parents want me to stay away from you. But I can’t. I must see you. Even if it’s in an invisibility cloak. You have been my secret love for a long time. You can be that longer still.”
“Can I?” she sobbed, realizing the implications of their new relationship. To forever hide how she feels. To keep her innermost thoughts and longings secret. To only see Draco under the cover of darkness and invisibilty. “How long can we last like this?” she asked.
“For as long as it takes,” he breathed.