I don't own HP and I'm not making money from this fic.
Hermione managed to corner Draco again. She was triumphant, certain she would get answers this time.
She had asked Harry if she could take Draco the invisibility cloak that night, and now they walked together in silence underneath it, Draco's arm almost around her as he held it over their heads.
When they reached the Room of Requirement, Draco turned to look at her, then turned back to open the door when he saw the steely look in her eyes.
There wasn't any question that she was coming in.
"Do you like me, yes or no?"
He had barely shut the door.
"Granger," he said patiently, "I-"
"Don't 'Granger' me!" she said furiously, approaching him "Answer the question, Draco. I want to know, do we have a future or - or -what is this, this thing we have?"
"I don't know." he said hopelessly
Hermione searched his face, but it was impossible to judge what he felt; he looked as depressed and harried as she had been feeling all this time.
She stepped up on her tip toes and kissed him. He kissed her back, but only briefly before opening his eyes and saying again "I don't know."
"How can you not know?" she said frustratedly "Do you feel something or not?"
"Just because I feel something doesn't make this an easy decision." he muttered, his eyes cast to the floor.
"So you feel something." Hermione confirmed. "Now look at me."
"Draco," she couldn't help feeling elated at the way his face lit up slightly when she said his name "will you think about giving it a go? You and me?"
He looked away, but she grabbed his hands and tugged at them to make him pay attention. "It's happened twice, but neither of us wanted it to - or it seemed that way. I don't feel like this will go away. Don't you think, we should at least try?"
He didn't answer her.
"Draco!" she wanted to cry, but he wouldn't look at her.
Finally he met her eyes. "I'll think about it 'Mione, but I'm not making any promises."
Draco had noticed a change in his once-innocent friend, one that was not altogether unexpected given that Harry was now openly going out with Pansy. More than once he had to stop himself from remarking that Harry no longer blushed whenever Pansy spoke to him, not even when she made a suggestive remark. In fact, Draco had stared in shock for a full ten seconds before managing to catch himself when, after bending to retrieve his quill from the floor, he looked up and saw Harry's hand stroking Pansy's leg under the table. In the library no less!
If it were anyone else, Draco would not have given the phenomena a second thought, but despite what he told Harry, the sad, disappointed looks that he noticed the headmaster giving him made him queasy. Harry had changed, it was true. He was still a good friend, and a good person, but it looked like Dumbledore only saw that Harry was getting up to things that the 'Chosen One' oughtn't; hanging around with a Death Eater's son, getting up to no good with a girl with a bad reputation, isolating himself from Dumbledore and his cause. But at least Harry was happy, that was the main thing.
And indeed Harry was happy. He and Pansy were down by the lake where he and Draco used to meet, and hidden by the trees, they were enjoying the sun, despite the cool breeze.
"Another one," Harry begged, holding out another piece of his last cauldron cake.
Pansy laughed, reaching out a hand for it, and then, after popping it in her mouth, undid another button on her school shirt. Harry wordlessly held out the last piece, but Pansy shook her head laughing.
"You can't keep bribing me with cake!" she giggled "You've hardly had any, I feel bad."
"Oh come one!" Harry said desperately, waving the cake at her "This one's got the most chocolate on it!"
Pansy laughed again "Is cake really all you have to offer me?" However she took the cake and popped it in her mouth.
"Well, I know you'll kill for chocolate." he leant forward "Three down, two to go." he made as if to kiss her, then ducked down to kiss her breast instead. Pansy gasped, sending shivers down Harry's spine. He opened his mouth and began to suck her nipple through the cotton.
"Oh…" she pressed against him, running her fingers through his hair and groaning as he pulled back.
"Now you know how I feel." Harry said sternly as she opened her mouth to complain. She shut her mouth abruptly, looking grumpy, and then a devilish look came onto her face.
"But Harry, I'm all wet!" she exclaimed and Harry almost felt a red haze of lust descending, but then she laughed, pointing to her nipple "See! You've made my top all damp!"
"Every time I think I'm making progress you have to go one better!" he said frustrated.
Pansy shrugged apologetically "Well I can't let you win Harry, that's just be weird. But really," she added "You've made me a little damp in other places too." she winked, and Harry scrambled over and forcibly pinned her down, pulling the last two buttons open.
He sighed wordlessly, running a hand over her flat stomach and then over her exposed breasts. Her pink nipples were hard and erect.
"I love it when you just do what you want," Pansy sighed, and he was about to lower his head and kiss her nipples, but properly this time, when they heard rapidly approaching footsteps. Harry leapt to his feet as Draco came into view.
"Hi - oh fuck!" Draco's grin faded as he saw Pansy lying on the ground, covering her breasts only by folding her arms.
"Go away!" she said sulkily
Harry shrugged apologetically, but couldn't hide the smirk, and Draco saw it.
"I suppose I should congratulate you." Draco sniggered "But I'm too pissed off that you're using our lunch spot as a sex grotto."
"You can leave now." Harry said pointedly, gesturing back towards the castle.
"But I brought sandwiches!" Draco whined playfully, and indeed he was holding a wrapped package that smelled strongly of egg.
"Go away Draco!" Pansy repeated
"You've been having cauldron cakes without me!" Draco complained, his eyes resting on the discarded wrappers at the foot of the tree "Alright alright!" he exclaimed, backing off as Harry raised his hand. "Just will you at least have lunch with me tomorrow?" he pleaded, backing away. "I'm getting bored of hanging about in the Room by myself!"
"I suppose I have been forgetting to spend time with him," Harry admitted as Draco left, feeling guilty. He stared out at the lake. He had to remember that he was Draco's only friend, besides Theo and Pansy, and he'd been stealing Pansy away for himself so often recently.
Harry turned to see what Pansy was up to and his mouth went dry. Completely topless now, she was sitting up, her hand under her skirt, touching herself.
"Wait for me!" he said desperately, rushing over and falling to his knees, but Pansy stopped, now sitting cross-legged, shaking her head.
"Too late!" she sang "You should have paid attention to me when - oh!"
Harry had ignored her, sliding his hand up her leg and under her skirt into thus far unexplored territories.
"You're not wearing any underwear?" he said weakly, but Pansy ignored him now.
"Like this," she showed him what she wanted "Oh! Now keep doing it like - !"
Barely knowing what he was doing, Harry was immensely pleased with himself with the way Pansy was now clinging to him, her cheeks scarlet, and her mouth making that perfect 'o', but this time for real, and for him. He had to hide a sudden grin when he realised what he could do with his new found knowledge to get Pansy back for distracting him in class.
Hermione approached Harry on a rare moment when he wasn't with his girlfriend. He was perched on a window sill in the library, orange rays from the setting sun in his hair. She smiled at the way he stared out at the lake with a half-smile on his face, and knew he was thinking of Pansy.
"Harry?" she settled down beside him "Can I talk to you?"
She couldn't keep the truth to herself. It was killing her, the fear ruling her life and eating away at her. Ron would go mad, and Draco wouldn't give her a straight answer.
"Yeah, what is it?" he moved his feet from beside her to budge closer.
Harry would understand better than most. He had a Slytherin girlfriend.
She hoped he would understand anyway.
Harry found Draco easily enough, even though he wasn't where he had expected him to be. He left the great hall after dinner with a mission in mind, leaving an upset Hermione behind him.
No, he wouldn't hurt Draco, he assured her, he only wanted to talk.
What the hell had Draco been playing at? All this time, he had not even hinted to Harry that he fancied Hermione, never mind that he had seduced her in a broom cupboard. Whatever she said, he just could not believe that his best friend would take leave of her senses to willingly have sex with the boy she hated.
He found him on the way to the dungeons. He didn't explain, only shoved him into the nearest classroom.
"What's wrong?" Draco said in alarm, rubbing his arm where Harry had grabbed him.
"Draco, she told me everything."
"She- she told you what?" Draco's voice faltered, and though he was facing the other way Harry saw his shoulders stiffen.
"I just wanted to warn you," Harry's voice was cool "that you'd better not hurt her. Do you really care about Hermione, or has it all just been a bit of fun for you?"
Draco turned around slowly and then looked at Harry for a long time.
"She told you everything?"
"That's what I said."
"I can't believe she'd -"
"You had sex in a broom cupboard. Care to explain?"
Draco looked stunned. Then he closed his eyes.
"Do you care about her or not Draco?"
"I never meant for anything to happen between us." he answered finally "But it has. And I - I think I do care about her, yes."
"Listen," Draco's eyes flashed "I'm not exactly keen to get hurt, myself! Once was bad enough. I don't know how I feel exactly, but I have no intention of hurting her."
"To be honest," Harry said slowly "I can't exactly say I'm happy about how you've treated
her so far-"
"Neither am I." Draco said quickly "And I swear I won't do anything like that again."
"Well…" Harry sighed, staring out the window. After a moment, he turned and looked Draco in the eye again, and reached out to grasp his shoulder.
"I trust you. I know you're a decent guy. I'm still not happy with the way things have gone between you and Hermione, but if you say it won't happen again, I'll believe you. And it better not, because it's obvious to me at least that whether you care about her or not, you're not going to see her officially. That isn't good enough."
As Draco stared back into Harry's emerald green gaze and saw there disappointment, but along with acceptance and trust, his insides burned and own face seemed to crumple of its own accord.
Traitor! Traitor! Traitor! he screamed at himself as he realised that there was no way of hiding this any longer.
"What's wrong" Harry asked, worried. "Draco?" He couldn't connect the look of devastation with the edgy manner Draco had been answering his questions about Hermione.
"Draco? Draco! Are you alright?" Harry's panicked voice seemed to come from a long distance away as he covered his face with his arms.
Draco pressed his palms into his eyes, and stared into the blackness, unthinking. He had to tell them. But he couldn't lose Harry, not now.
"I need to talk to you." he forced himself to speak and was shocked at the anguish in own voice "And Hermione. Is there somewhere we can go?"
"What? But -" Harry sounded bewildered, but seemed to pull himself together "Um - how about the Room? Do you want me to go and get her?"
Draco nodded, already getting up.
"Ten minutes." He called back as he fled, unable to look Harry in the eyes again.
The Room was silent, Harry and Hermione sat bewildered, on Draco's four-poster, watching in worried confusion as Draco paced back and forth as he had been since they had entered. He was yet to acknowledge their presence.
"Draco?" Harry tried finally, his voice sounding odd after such a long period of silence.
Draco came to an abrupt halt and turned on the spot. His face was pale and strained looking and he clearly had to force himself to drag his eyes to meet Harry's and then Hermione's. When he finally spoke, his voice was cracked and anguished.
"There's some things I haven't told you." he forced out, then squeezed his eyes shut and turned away, pinching the bridge of his nose. There was a brief silence.
"What haven't you told us?" Hermione prompted nervously.
"I've been keeping things from all of you. And I -" Draco's voice faltered "I can't think of how to - I'm scared -" he met Harry's eyes and Harry felt a jolt of fear. Tears were swimming in Draco's flint-grey eyes "I've been scared to tell you the whole truth in case you never speak to me again and abandon me to - to Him"
There was another silence, but this one remained unbroken until Draco began to speak again.
"There's some things I want to say before I tell you. So that you don't run off before I have a chance to say them."
He took another steadying breath.
"Right now, I'm completely with you Harry." He looked Harry in the eye as he said this, and for the first time there was no shadow in his eye. "I'll do anything to help you kill him Harry, anything. I want you to know that even though I haven't been straight with you in the past, this is real, and from now on I'll never keep things from you again."
"Hermione," he hesitated, then ploughed on "I'm sorry for what happened before. And I'm sorry that this morning I told you I'd think about giving us a go. Because after this, you won't want to know."
The silence was now oppressive.
"I've been a coward." Draco stated baldly, then grasped his sleeve, and before any coherent thought could form, Harry's heart fell through his shoes. Then, Draco ripped his left sleeve up to expose an ugly mark on his pale white arm.
Hermione made a choking noise and grasped Harry's arm as he leapt to his feet, wand raised.
"You betrayed us!" he shouted, pulling Hermione behind him.
But Draco was shaking his head furiously, his hands held in the air.
"No! No - I couldn't - I just couldn't bring myself to tell you that there was more to the story than what I had originally told you! I thought you would abandon me if you found out I had already been made a Death Eater! You said that the only reason you wanted to give our - our deal a go was to stop me from becoming one!"
"When I first told you what I wanted to do, I was lying. I was willing to say anything to make you trust me. You see, the Dark Lord didn't only want me to kill Dumbledore, he wanted me to kill you too!"
Harry could feel Hermione shaking against his back.
"You didn't have a Dark Mark in September."
"I knew you would ask to see my arm, so I used a concealment charm. I also hoped there was a chance I could get to Dumbledore through you." Draco continued desperately "But I soon realised there was no chance of that. I made other arrangements for him. I hoped to let Death Eaters into the school, to distract Dumbledore and give me a chance to curse him."
Harry laughed scathingly "And you thought that would work? That you could kill Dumbledore, just like that?"
"At that point, it was only vague ideas. I'd also thought about making sure you got in the way, or that you got hurt, so that he would be concentrating more on protecting you."
"All these months, and you never came up with a better plan?"
"I worked on the only plan I had. I was too scared to pick a side. I got close to you, Harry. Our friendship, it's been real, but I was frighten of the consequences."
"You've been lying to us." Harry said through gritted teeth
"I couldn't bring myself to think up plans after spending a little more time with you. And after a while I realised I didn't want to do it anymore. The excuses I'd given you at the beginning came true." he looked up at them desperately, willing them to believe him.
"I realised I couldn't kill Dumbledore, and I could never betray you, let alone kill you. It took me a while to admit it to myself, but once I had I realised that, my only way to stay alive was through you, now that I knew I could never be a proper Death Eater. And to be honest I valued our friendship too much to risk losing it by telling you the truth. I've been telling myself for weeks though, that I needed to tell you, but this morning-" his voice shook and he turned to Hermione "This morning I really wanted to finally give things a go with you, 'Mione. But I knew I couldn't keep living a lie. I didn't want to see you or Harry hurt. I just wish I was brave enough to have told you sooner."
Ron was uncontrollable when they told him. Hermione had had to leave the room in tears, but he'd been too caught up in his own rage to notice.
Harry followed shortly after, his mouth a grim line.
"I need to talk to Pansy." was all he said
Perhaps it was for the best that it was nearly the end of term, Hermione thought dully as she moved to the window where she could watch Harry and Pansy scream and gesticulate wildly at each other down by the lake. This way, perhaps they could all heal over the summer holidays after some time apart.
She didn't know why she had expected more of Draco Malfoy really. He had never once made any sort of commitment to her; for that she could be thankful, along with the comforting thought that Ron had no idea of the intimate details of her situation with Malfoy.
Harry on the other hand…Draco had been his best friend for months, and now his girlfriend had been helping hide things from him.
Harry retired from his shouting match with Pansy feeling run down and depressed. He wanted to feign illness just so he could shut himself away in his dormitory, but it was no good hiding from the facts.
He couldn't fault Pansy for putting Draco first. She had been protecting him, as Harry would Hermione or Ron. She had rubbed that much in his face.
"I never lied outright to you Harry," she'd said "if you'd asked me, I would have told you. If we'd been together longer, or if we'd been more serious, then I'd have told you too. But I didn't know if we would last. Draco's trusted me, relied on me since we were children. You've never trusted me like that with your secrets."
"And a good thing I didn't!" He'd spat back at her before storming off.
He knew their relationship was more physical than loving. Maybe it was his own fault, for wasting time canoodling in hidden alcoves rather than taking the time to tell her how much he cared. It didn't mean he couldn't be angry at her for hiding the truth from him though.
Pansy didn't know exactly what was going to happen to Draco. She'd come back from Dumbledore's office crying and fell straight into his arms as if they were still children. She spent the evening going with him, trying to pretend for a while that nothing had changed.
Draco pecked her on the cheek before he went to pack his trunk. He wouldn't tell her where he was going tomorrow, once term ended; he couldn't. He was under a powerful secrecy charm of some kind, and it pained Pansy that she could only know he would be safe, and no more. At least Harry was still going to protect him, she thought as she cried herself to sleep, even if he didn't want anything to do with either her or Draco.
She'd been offered the same protection, but ultimately she'd been unable to decide. Draco told her to go with her heart, but her heart told her it wasn't ready to say goodbye to her parents forever, despite the fact that Draco wouldn't be coming over to visit this summer.
She'd never been so upset about an argument with a boy before, but this was Harry Potter and he could never do things by halves. She'd wrangled an agreement to write over the summer though, and that was something. She just wished they could pretend that they were happy together, like she and Draco pretended, had pretended all these years, just so she could have a last kiss goodbye.