Post-series movieverse Draco/Hermione one-shot, 1300 words. Deals with the marks each of them have on their arms - Draco's dark mark and Hermione's mudblood scar.
Draco sat on the edge of the couch in the comfortable yet unfamiliar home, immersed in his book. He was pressed up against the cushioned arm, unconsciously taking up as little space as possible. He was still slightly uncomfortable in the warm home Hermione had bought after the war, still a little bit on edge, trying to be as unobtrusive as he could. He supposed that time would ease his discomfort; it had only been a week since he’d moved in, and he was currently too pleased that she’d accepted his tentative suggestion that they live together to mind that he felt so out of place in her soft home. With time, he was sure, he would grow used to it just as he had her quiet ways, her fierce intensity, her fiery goodness. Perhaps he could come to love the house, just as he had Hermione herself. For now, he had a book and a comfortable chair; he was unaware of the house around him.
It was not until he heard the silence that he realized something was wrong.
Hermione’s house was often filled with silence, something that had unnerved him the first few times she had invited him over, when he had been shy and scared and something as unfamiliar as a lack of noise had set him on edge. It had brought to his mind the never-ending noise of the war, still haunting his dreams two years later, and the months of torturous emptiness he had endured following the battle, alone in his father’s abandoned mansion until Hermione had rescued him, the only person who had thought to worry about him. Weeks after those first introductions to the house, he had lain in her bed, gently stroking her tangled hair, and he had realized he didn’t mind the silence. It was a different sort of silence than that which had followed the war. It was a silence brimming with memories and thoughts, ideas and emotions. The silence was another thing he had grown to love.
The silence now was odd, unlike the warm quiet that he had grown accustomed to. It was cold and empty, a hand clenching at his stomach. It made him sit straighter than usual.
After a few moments of straining his ears, Draco rose to investigate, his movements tentative and careful in the disturbingly still air. He threw a look around the kitchen’s open door, sneaked open the door to the television room (a room which he utilized considerably more than Hermione, even before he had moved in), glanced into the laundry room. When he saw that all were empty, he moved toward the stairs, his apprehension growing with each step. Memories flashed through his mind of the day he had come over when Hermione had missed their dinner plans and found her tearing apart old Daily Prophets and a children’s book, crying that it was all futile, and he had just sat beside her as she destroyed her mementos, a hand on her shoulder. The shiver the memory sent up his spine was joined by another as he recalled the day he had walked to Hermione’s small house, walked hours to find her, and when he’d arrived, had curled up beside her and begged her to forgive him, begged her not to hurt him too, begged her to let him forget, and just begged. He shook himself mentally and took the first step up the stairs, trying to ignore the rushing in his ear that told him something was horribly amiss.
When he reached the third step, he heard the water. The sink was running and running, a waterfall above him pouring out of the tap. Hermione never liked to waste water. Brow furrowed, Draco took the remaining stairs three at a time, but when he reached the top step he paused, trying to calm his breathing. He knocked softly on the bathroom door, but heard nothing.
“Hermione?” he prompted, putting every ounce of effort into steadying his voice, keeping it gentle, erasing any trace of panic. When she didn’t respond, he took a careful breath and turned the handle of the door.
Before him stood Hermione, her hair frizzed out around the edges and glowing with the soft light of the bathroom, her face shining with tears and determination as she scrubbed and scrubbed at her arm under the running water. She was rubbing her arm vigorously, her sleeves pulled up around her elbows. From what Draco could see, it appeared that she had been scrubbing for quite some time; the inside of her left arm was bright red, rubbed raw. The only part of her arm that was not shining scarlet was a series of perfect white lines standing out beneath the crimson, spelling out a single word: MUDBLOOD.
Draco stood for a moment, words shocked from his mind and his mouth.
“Hermione,” he finally croaked, forcing the word out from somewhere deep inside his numb mind. “Hermione, you can’t – it’s not going to come off.” He tried not to stutter, tried to keep the edge from his voice, tried to sound soothing and safe, the way she always was for him. His voice came out terribly sad.
She turned to face him, eyes shining, pleading with him, her mouth forming an unhappy twist. The entire picture sent a pang through his heart; the glint in her eyes was edging on hysterical. Suddenly, Draco found himself calm, at ease, and quite certain in what he had to do; there was something in him that wouldn’t allow that desolate expression to remain on Hermione’s beloved face.
He strode forward, no longer hesitant, and pulled back his own left sleeve in one swift movement, displaying before Hermione the horrific skull, jet black against his pale skin. He gestured to the mark, drawing her eyes away from the shining white lines on her own arm.
“It’s just as much a scar,” Draco told her, cupping her chin in his hand. “And it’s so much more something to be ashamed of.” His voice echoed in the small tiled room, soft and calm and so terribly sad in his ears. He straightened slightly, fighting to keep the desperately tragic tone from his voice, to replace it with comfort and soothing.
“I just want it gone,” Hermione muttered, her own voice hollow and cracking and a million times sadder than Draco’s. He felt his heart breaking in his chest.
Draco shook his head, a small, tired smile playing on his lips. He felt inexplicably sad; he knew that it wasn’t her fault. None of it was. But she was paying just as much as he was.
He took a breath, willing his voice to hold the effects of his straightened back. He was glad to hear that he sounded steady and certain, his voice forceful as he said, “It’s a part of who you are. People like you and me, we don’t hide our scars. We wear them proudly, showing the world where we’ve been, what happened to us, or in my case, what we did to ourselves. We display the mistakes we’ve made, or in your case, the battles we’ve fought.”
Hermione turned her face up toward him, her furrowed brow and small frown looking confused and horribly pained, but the desperation that had filled every line of her face was gone, and Draco was glad of that even if he couldn’t be glad of anything else. The hand cupping her chin moved to her cheek and his other hand rose to mirror it, brushing against her face ever so carefully.
“You are so brave,” he said quietly, his tone softer, almost a whisper, his warm voice reaching out like his hand, wrapping itself around her, caressing her. Despite his attempts, the words were laced with sorrow; he couldn’t help it. “You are so brave,” he repeated. His hands angled her face toward him, their foreheads pressed together, and Draco’s tears mingled with Hermione’s as she closed her eyes against the world, safe before him. “You are so very brave.”
Their words melted away, and the room was filled with the sound of the still running water, the emptiness gone from the silence.