Prologue

He gazed at her intently. She felt as though her heart would melt under his silver gaze. He reached out a hand and tucked a stray chestnut curl behind her ear, his fingers lingering on her cheek. After he pulled back his hand, her skin tingled where his skin had brushed hers.

"I love you, Hermione," he whispered, his eyes burning into hers, "I won't let anything happen to you tomorrow, I swear. I'll protect you. You'll see."

She shook her head slightly, awed at the passion in his words.

"I know you will, Draco. I trust you. Besides, I can take care of myself – I'll be fine."

He took her into his arms, and she curled up in his lap.

He looked into her eyes, and saw in them her trust in him, and her love. She really loves me he thought. He knew he didn't deserve to be loved by someone as good as Hermione. Someone as beautiful, kind, trusting as she was, she shouldn't be with someone like him. He had done so many bad things in his life, and he simply couldn't bear the thought of her getting hurt.

He knew that she understood his past, and did not hold it against him. However, Draco could not help but be ashamed by it. He thought of how many people he had seen suffer in his lifetime, and he held Hermione tighter, silently vowing to protect her from every harm in the world.

Hermione sighed in contentment and reached over to hold Draco's hand. He gave it a gentle squeeze. Hermione smiled to herself. This moment was so perfect. She was finally alone with her Draco, and she felt so safe. So miraculously amazingly safe. She managed to forget about all that had past and all that was sure to come.

A knock on the door made her jump, and a stunner flew from the tip of her wand. All of her tension came rushing back, as if a dam had crumbled and her stress came flowing back in full force. She blushed at her reaction.

Draco felt her stiffen in his arms. He sighed to himself. He could never make her forget for long. He watched as the sparks flickered out from where the spell had landed on the far wall; proof that she never let her guard down, that she had her walls up so high that even when he tried to knock them down, they wouldn't budge. He couldn't blame her. He thought that it was amazing she trusted anyone, at all, anymore.

"Come in," she sighed. She let her head fall back against his chest, wishing their moments could last forever and depressing in the fact that they couldn't. He took her hand gently in his and began to rub soothing circles on the back of it.

They would make it through what was to come, and they would do it together.