Category: Harry Potter
Warning(s): Mild Violence, Mild Language, Spoilers
Summary: He thought perhaps he'd always loved her. At first, it'd been a hateful love. He'd loved torturing her, knocking her down to pick himself up. He'd loved how it'd woken him to a world of colors when everything else was grey.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me and I am making no profit in the creation of this story.
AN: Thank you to Ellie who looked this story over for me!
Everything About You
Draco hated everything about her before he'd ever heard her name or saw her face. His fury at her existence was ingrained so deeply in his blood that it became natural. The grass was green, the sky was blue, and Hermione Granger was worth no more than the dirt beneath his feet. By the time she'd actually crossed his path asking about a toad, it was already too easy to be cruel to her; too easy to be heartless.
It was only once their hatred had developed into a mutual disgust that his spite started to feel strangely forced and obsessive. It could hardly be denied that her intelligence and magical ability were unparalleled in their year, leading him to quickly see her as a direct violation to every lesson he'd ever been taught while growing up. She was an opposing force to the perfect pureblooded castle he'd built around himself, a lynchpin that had the power to send everything he knew crashing down around him if left alone too long. So he never did.
If she was passing him in a corridor of the old castle, he'd block her way and make a crude remark. If she was sitting in the library, he'd casually stroll by and knock her inkwell over onto the scroll of parchment she'd been so diligently working on. If she was out by the lake with Weasel-Bee and Pothead, he'd grab his cronies and ignite a chorus of various derogatory names until the Golden Trio snapped long enough to be caught by a professor or Filch. Draco spent a little bit of every day thinking about how to ruin her. He wanted to knock her down into the mud where she belonged. So he pushed and pushed, tearing her down until the explosion inevitably occurred.
He cherished the moments when Hermione Granger broke. It was like watching a firework show: explosive and colorful. It became a drug to him, as much a necessity as his next breath. There was something terrifyingly beautiful in the way her anger emanated through her body, electrifying the air around her. Her hair would whirl around her delicate features like a lion's mane. The freckles on the bridge of her nose would disappear as her face scrunched in rage. Her fists would clench, knuckles digging harshly against the curve of her hips as she fought to keep her hands at her sides instead of throttling him. Somehow she'd only given in to that temptation once, but he'd loved it through the pain. Her fury was twisted perfection and he felt a cruel sense of satisfaction knowing he could cause it.
Many times, he told himself that she was no more than a source of amusement to interrupt the rather dull routine of his life. Hogwarts was nothing if not monotonous for the first half of his schooling; therefore, his spats with Granger and her lackeys were a necessary evil. Mocking them was much more fun than watching Crabbe and Goyle scarf down treats and scratch their heads at a Potions essay that Draco could write in his sleep. At least, that's the lie he created to protect himself until his existence became far from repetitive the summer before his fifth year.
Everything was different after Cedric Diggory was murdered. The Dark Lord was back and the Malfoys were called forward to do his bidding. At first it'd been exciting. It'd been a cause that Draco had grown up with, and his blood had heated at the thrill of finally being able to do something important with his life. He'd been blinded by his upbringing, herded like a mindless sheep into a war that had almost killed him. Draco had felt like he was in a nightmare for the three years leading to what he considered his Awakening. He likened it to sleepwalking; going through the motions thinking he was doing one thing, when he was really just digging his own grave one sin at a time.
Ironically, it'd been Hermione Granger who'd woken him. His first thought when she'd been dragged into the drawing room of the Manor that day had been that he'd somehow missed her. She'd looked dirty and tired from where she stood wedged tightly between Potter and Weasley. He'd been sure she hadn't seen a shower or full meal in the year she'd been on the run. And yet, somehow he'd still been thrilled by her presence. Everything about her had screamed for him to take notice: her knotted hair, her teary eyes, her trembling lips. She was a symphony when the rest of the world was muted. He'd felt like he'd fallen off his broom or been struck with a Bludger to his chest.
Not ten minutes later, he'd been forced to watch her twist and bend at odd angles under the Cruciatus Curse. She'd been beautiful even in her anguish. There was something so lovely about how she'd screamed and cried, refusing to say what his unhinged aunt needed to hear in order to end the excruciating pain. Despite his horror at her suffering, he'd been unable to take his eyes off of her. He'd been proud of her bravery, though he had no claim to it.
That moment would come to mind often after the war ended. He'd look back on it and realize it was when he'd finally admitted to himself that he was in awe of her. She wasn't like other women, and it wasn't because her blood was impure; it was because she was so much better. The insight triggered a shift in Draco as the lynchpin holding his perfect pureblooded castle up collapsed around him. This new perspective made him feel helpless, as if he was hanging off the edge of a cliff by a thread which she held in her hand. All he knew for certain was that he never wanted to be the one to tear her down again. She'd been in the mud, but it was not where she belonged.
After the war, he hadn't seen much of Granger for a year. His father and he had been thrown into Azkaban for three months because of the marks they each bore on their left forearms. Draco'd nearly lost himself in that short period time, the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind iron bars while Dementors ripped any optimism from his soul was enough to drive anyone insane. He'd found himself thinking of Granger often. He'd remember their fights when they were younger, the terrible words they'd exchanged. It all seemed silly after watching her grow into the woman who'd been so fearless in the face of possible death.
Draco would also picture happier times, times when he'd observed instead of hassled. He'd remember her confident smile as she mastered a charm that he was struggling with or her chuckle as Weasley whispered something funny in her ear during Potions. He'd watched her more often than he'd realized during school, and the memories of it warmed him. Those moments from the past were the beacons of hope he used to fight the self-pity and despair that were at war in his mind. The memory of her many intricacies mentally saved him from the memory of his sins.
She wasn't the one who wound up physically saving him from Azkaban though; that honor had fallen to Potter. He'd shown up with two Aurors standing on either side of him, looking every bit as confident as a war hero should. His eyes had sparkled behind the round frames of his glasses, seeming entertained by his purpose in front of Draco's cell that day. It was humorous, after all. Even Draco had given in to a small smirk as Potter had beckoned for the men beside him to open the cell.
The Malfoys' trial was over quickly after that. Potter had testified in their favor himself, showing the Wizengamot a memory of Draco's mother lying about his death. Potter had went on to rightfully state that Draco and Lucius had abandoned Voldemort's cause before the end of the war in favor of saving their family. The pair was welcomed into freedom the following day, each walking tiredly to Narcissa and collapsing against her in relief.
It'd been the first true moment of happiness Draco had felt in years and his eyes had welled despite his best efforts to rein in the emotion. As he'd picked his head off of his mother's shoulder to wipe at the traitorous tears, he'd seen three figures watching from the other side of the Atrium. Potter and Weasley stood tall as they'd flanked Granger, each man with a contented smile on their face. Draco had automatically felt defensive of his private moment until his icy grey eyes had clashed with those of warm caramel. She hadn't been smiling like the others. Instead, her head was cocked to the side as she observed him carefully. The gaze pierced him, leaving him wondering what she'd been looking for.
Just short of a year later, Draco was entering the Great Hall of Hogwarts again. The doors had been opened to those who'd been unable to complete their last year of school. Granger had returned, as well. She'd been the only member of the Golden Trio to do so. Potter and Weasley had been invited to enter into the Auror training program early, so had passed on the opportunity. Granger, however, claimed to have no idea which of her many job offers she wanted to take, leading her to the decision to stall for an extra year. It also helped that McGonagall had offered her the elusive Head Girl badge, which Draco suspected had greatly sweetened the deal.
It didn't take long before their paths began to cross. They were two of only ten students returning from their year. Each of the "eighth years" had every class together, so Draco couldn't have avoided Granger if he'd wanted to. Of course, he'd made the obligatory attempt the first night after classes had started. He'd gone off to the library to study alone, but had been unexpectedly joined by Dean Thomas, Terry Boot, Susan Bones, and Michael Corner. Not a single one of the sods had even asked for permission before pulling up seats and inquiring about the progress he'd made on his Charms assignment. He'd been just about to tell them to piss off when the rest of the returners had shown up, including Granger. Seeing her had made any argument he'd been about to make slip his mind.
The eighth years quickly formed a close-knit camaraderie around the reluctant Slytherin. He'd felt like he'd been adopted without his permission. It seemed no matter how quiet or aloof he acted, they'd made the decision to include him in their circle and weren't changing their minds. He'd found himself unnerved by the ease of the group's acceptance. They'd all coincidentally been members of Dumbledore's Army and it seemed baffling that they'd chosen to spend practically every moment of their day with an ex-Death Eater. Yet, outside of a few quips about his "cold Slytherin glare of superiority," as Terry had so eloquently put it once, the others seemed content to start completely anew without rehashing the past.
Draco took great care to resist his natural instinct to make a snarky comment or two about them being so pleasant towards him. He wasn't the friendliest of blokes, but he knew a gift when he saw it and was smart enough to feel grateful. As the only Slytherin from his year to return after the war, he knew his life could have been made a living hell if not for their compassion. So, he'd grudgingly admitted to himself that it was nice to be surrounded by equals instead of followers, and he made sure to be respectful of all of them despite how uncomfortable it'd made him in the beginning.
Like with anything though, he'd eventually gotten used to it. While he never was overly kind to them or quick to compliment, he found himself opening up more as the year progressed. He wasn't one to gossip or make small talk, so most of the time he just sat in companionable silence with whoever was in the library with him or walking down the hall at his side. He did eventually find it easy to help Michael with an essay, or to talk Quidditch with Dean, or even to ask to borrow Hermione's notes. The last of which he did frequently, just to interact with her.
While he'd found himself shying away from most chats with his classmates, he also found himself fighting for possible topics of conversation with the Head Girl. He'd never before lacked charisma; however, between his uneasiness among his new "friends" and her more reserved nature since the events of the war, it'd proven to be unbelievably difficult to talk to her at first. Most of the time, he'd mutter a comment quietly in her direction that had no hope of blossoming into a conversation, like "The Transfiguration assignment was on page 255, right?" She would then smile it off quickly before continuing with whatever she'd been doing.
Finally, he'd grown desperate and resorted to an old classic: he'd picked a fight with her. Not a fight in the sense that he wanted to make her cry, merely a fight that she wouldn't have been able to resist. "You're wrong," he had said, leaning towards her on his elbows. "It's daisy roots, shrivelfig, and then wormwood."
Hermione had jerked her gaze up to his then. He'd interrupted her as she'd been writing her essay on Shrinking Solution, which was due in two weeks for Potions. She hadn't seen him come up and sit next to her, and she therefore had no idea that he'd been reading over her shoulder for the last few minutes. He loved that about her. She was so diligent in her schoolwork that the entire world seemed to fade away whenever she was focused on something.
"No, it's not," she'd responded tersely, her nose scrunching up in that way that meant if he pushed he'd eventually see those fireworks that he'd so loved when he was a kid.
But he didn't want that now. He just wanted her to look at him. "I know," he'd shrugged, unable to help the small smile that'd tilted up the corners of his lips.
She'd seemed so surprised by his flippant response that she'd laughed. And the sound was so wonderful that he'd laughed too. Pretty soon they were both in fits, wiping tears from their eyes at how bizarre it was that they were sharing such a silly moment together. It'd been exactly what they'd needed to break the tension that'd hovered between them throughout the course of their knowing each other.
After that, he spoke to her more often than any of the others. They never seemed to stop. They talked about so much that eventually they were talking about nothing. Slowly, he learned snippets of every intricacy that made her tick. He spent the rest of the year getting to know everything about her. Not as the Hermione Granger he'd built in his mind as a child, but as the Hermione Granger who he suspected only a fair few got to see. Every conversation they had was in whispers, as if they were scared the others would realize the sinful Draco Malfoy was interacting with the heavenly Head Girl. It was as though they both realized how fragile the balance of this truce was. Anything could send it tumbling down. Which is why Draco never told Hermione what he'd come to realize: he was completely in love with her.
He thought perhaps he'd always loved her. At first, it'd been a hateful love. He'd loved torturing her, knocking her down to pick himself up. He'd loved how it'd woken him to a world of colors when everything else was grey. Her cleverness and quick wit had kept him on his toes, exciting him in a way that'd had him scanning the mass of students for her so they could have another go. Then, in war, he'd loved her for her courage; for being the person he wanted to be when his soul had seemed so eternally damned. She'd given him something that had irrevocably changed his life: hope.
Now, he loved everything about her; her courage, her kindness, her intelligence, her wit, and for being so forgiving of all that he'd done over the years to cause her pain. She was perfect, and just being able to spend time with her was a blessing. The year went by faster than ever before. Draco suspected it had a lot to do with the other eighth years, especially the woman he'd grown to consider his best friend.
They'd walked out of the castle side by side during the graduation ceremony the following June, surrounded on all sides by their friends. Draco'd nudged her shoulder softly when she'd looked to be on the verge of tears, tapping the underside of his jaw in a "chin up" gesture that had her clutching onto his bicep with a grateful smile for making her laugh. He'd given her an uncharacteristically wide grin as they'd then ridden back across the lake together in the boats that had brought them there before their first year. It'd felt like a new beginning for the two of them, despite the months of companionship they'd already shared. It was as though he was going back to the start and being given a second chance. He'd laughed as she'd reached into the water to splash him a bit as they soared across the lake, claiming that his smile made her think he was up to something.
They'd spent the entire ride back to King's Cross squeezed with all the others in one compartment, sharing laughs and trading stories that had somehow accumulated over the school year. Draco had been flushed with happiness, so surprised that he had managed to create a life for himself with these people against all odds. He'd felt like a different person than he'd been a year ago as his hand brushed unconsciously against where Hermione's thigh rested snuggly against his. He'd felt like he was finally the man he'd always wanted to be, someone worth knowing.
It'd taken them pulling up to the platform in London for him to finally realize that was it, the end of the most wonderful year of his life. It'd been about nine months since he'd realized he was in love with Hermione, and yet he'd never scrounged up the courage to tell her. When they stepped off the train together, she'd immediately thrown her arms around his neck and murmured a soft goodbye. He'd clung to her, scared of telling her and scared of not. Before he could summon the nerve, she was waving him off and disappearing into the crowd.
The moment she was no longer in his sight, he'd felt a jolt of panic rush over him. For once in his life, the regret he'd feel later seemed more terrifying than the possibility of her rejection. He'd chased after her then, pushing through throngs of younger students as he fought to keep her wave of thick curls in his line of sight. If she made it off the platform before he plucked up the courage to say what he wanted, that'd be it. He'd been out of breath when he finally reached her, his hand running quickly through his now messy fringe before he cleared his throat and reached for her hand.
"Granger, wait," he urged, his voice hoarse as he fought back his anxiety. Now he didn't know if the nerves were his fear of asking her or his fear of potentially letting her walk out of his life forever.
Hermione spun to him, her eyes widening expectantly.
"Have dinner with me?" he choked out gruffly.
She smiled then, a happy uplifting of her lips that immediately stilled his heart. "It's about time."
AN: Thank you so much for taking the time to read this over! This was written for a challenge at HPFF. I was given Draco/Hermione and the song "I Never Told You" by Colbie Caillat! See if you can see the influences! :) I tried to stick with a lot of my own inspiration, while slightly touching upon the basic premise of the song, especially at the end. Please review and let me know what you think!