Twisted

By Hannah Davenport (slytherin_punk@hotmail.com)

Rating: PG

Summary: Sequel to "Bent". When Harry, Hermione, and Ron find out about the friendship between Draco and Ginny, things don't go very well. Although she tries to put up a front of anger, Ginny can't help but wonder why Draco wants to be her friend. He is the gorgeous, lovely young man at the top of his class, hanging out with the lowest specimen of the Weasley family, people he has hated for years. What does he want from her?

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J. K. Rowling. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. It's just fan fiction!

~

Alternative Chapter 2:

< >When Ginny woke up, she was in the hospital wing. She felt rather tipsy, as though she had been deprived of a decent amount of sleep. She didnít keep her eyes open for very long, however, because people were talking, obviously thinking she was still out cold.

< >"Iím going to fix her up." woman was saying. "But the spell has some - er - odd side effects."

< >"And what would those be?" Came another voice. Ginny knew immediately who it was, and tried to stop herself from screaming.

< >"Well," came the voice of the woman that was surely Madam Pomfrey. "Giddiness, and childlike behavior. It should be quite interesting to watch, I assure you..."

< >"All right," Snape said shortly. "I suppose Iíll stay here until she wakes up, then." He sounded very disgusted with himself for saying that. "I donít want her parents to think she died in my presence,"

< >"It could happen," Madam Pomfrey muttered under her breath. Ginny had to stifle a giggle with that remark.

< >She heard the two of them coming closer, and then heard a slight whistle through the air as Madam Pomfrey pulled out her wand. "Elizadate!" she cried, and Ginny felt a sudden rush, as though her head were stuck out the window of a train. She opened her eyes, and stared up at the very blurry Snape and Madam Pomfrey. She giggled madly.

< >"Can you please hand me my glasses?" she asked, giggling once more. "You two look very silly when I donít have them on..." Someone (who she assumed was Snape) handed her the rectangular wire-frames, and she put them on. Madam Pomfrey looked ready for a real treat, and Snape looked paler than usual.

< >"Are you alright, Miss Weasley?" he asked tentatively. "Not that I care, but --"

< >"Why hello, Sevvie." she said happily. "What are we all doing here?"

< >"You passed out," Snape said curtly. "And donít call me Sevvie."

< >"Well, I do feel a bit odd," she added. "And why canít I call you Sevvie? Itís much easier to say than Severus, and I assume you wouldnít want me to call you Sever?" She giggled again.

< >"You can call me Professor Snape," he said through gritted teeth, shooting the laughing Madam Pomfrey a very venomous glare. "Because I am your Professor, not your playmate."

< >"But Professor Snape sounds boring," Ginny argued, giving Madam Pomfrey (now in a fit of hysterics) a look that clearly said Help me.

< >"Sheís right you know, Sevvie." Madam Pomfrey said with a grin.

< >"My name is NOT ĎSevvieí!" Snape bellowed, his face flushing slightly. "My name is Severus, but I want you to call me Professor. Is that clear?"

< >"No," Ginny frowned. "And Sevvie is so much cuter than Professor Snape."

< >"I am not cute," he snapped, glaring down at her in a malevolent way.

< >"Actually," she began with a giggle. "You are, rather. In a dark sort of way."

< >"Dark?" he asked, looking extremely shocked that anyone thought him cute.

< >"You know," she sighed, looking up at him with something like admiration. "Evil-esque. Unpredictable. Menacing. Dark. Thatís you, and it rather suits you."

< >Madam Pomfrey burst into a fit of crying hysteria, and had to excuse herself with hand gestures at that moment. "I really must be going," he said quickly. "Goodbye, Miss Weasley."

~

< >Ginny had recovered from that extremely awkward situation on Christmas Eve. She had told Ron, Harry, and Hermione all she could remember, and laughed along with Harry and Hermione when Ron said, "Sevvie? And whatís all this business about Snape being cute? That is so wrong, Ginny, I canít even begin to explain itís actual wrongness..."

< >That night she was headed up to bed, when someone grabbed her by the shoulder. She turned around, to see Ron, looking a tad anxious.

< >"Er, Ginny?" he said quietly, pulling her back over to a chair in front of the dying fire. "I need to ask you something."

< >"Okay Ron," she said, sitting down opposite him. "What do you want to know?"

< >"Er," he began awkwardly. "Are you and Malfoy not friends anymore?"

< >She bit her lip, and then replied, "No, Ron. I really donít think we are. There was an incident, and he hasnít really wanted to talk to me. But maybe he will when he gets back from his trip home..."

< >"Letís hope not," Ron muttered. "I mean - dreadfully sorry for you, Ginny. Must be awful, losing a friend like that. Even if it is that foul --"

< >"Ron," Ginny interrupted. "You can shut up now."

< >"Right," he said, running his hand through his hair with a smile. "Sorry. Gínight Ginny. Have a good sleep..."

< >Ginny stood, gave Ron a hug, and then went to bed. Only to be plagued by Tom when she had finally gone to sleep.

< >"Happy Christmas," he said, with a touch of the know-it-all attitude he had acquired after being right about Draco. "Heís been trying to talk to you for hours, you know. Telepathically. Heís in quite a bit of pain..."

< >She woke up just as suddenly as she had fallen asleep. And sure enough, there was someone elseís voice in the back of her head. Whether or not it was speaking to her, though, she had no idea. Please help me... Oh no. Not again.... PLEASE! SOMEONE HELP ME!

< >Ginny concentrated very hard on that pleading voice, and tried to talk to him. Draco? Draco, whatís the matter?

< >Oh no, came the other voice, very worried now. Iím dying. I still have my whole life ahead of me and Iím bloody DYING! What in the world do they think theyíre doing up there, eh?

< >Ginny stopped trying to converse immediately. She had absolutely no idea what was going on, and Draco thought she was some sort of angel of death. So, she tried to sink into sleep once again, but found it fitful and full of Dracoís anguished screaming.

~

< >The day Draco had come home, he had done everything in his power to avoid everyone and anyone. He didnít want to be seen in his present condition. He had managed to disguise it long enough to sneak into his dormitory unnoticed and had drawn the curtains around his four-poster, pretending to be asleep until everyone else was. He then crept out of his dormitory, and into the icy common room, where he sat, staring morosely into the heat-free fire.

< >He was soon overwhelmed with the confusing and bewildering urge to take a walk. At one in the morning? he asked himself, feeling rather dazed by his inward stupidity. But the only answer he got back was a very firm YES. And so, he pulled on his oxfords over his dark green socks, and a long black cloak over his dark green turtleneck. Then, with a new spirit of determination coursing itís way through him, he exited the frigid dungeons, walked through the entrance hall (which was just as cold), and slipped out of the oak front doors without so much as a weary creak.

< >The snow made a comforting crunch noise as he took each step. He found this strange, because that noise had never mean anything good before this moment. He stopped walking when he was at least twenty feet away from the lake. He looked at the black outline of the Forbidden Forest silhouetted against the pale winter sky. He took in the steely glint of the frozen lake, which was almost identical to the color of his eyes; especially where it reflected the half-hidden moon. He picked up a handful of snow, and watched it melt in his palm, vaguely wondering if his skin was really that warm. He then threw his head back, and stared up at the seemingly innocent heavens. What happened then did before he could stop himself from letting it out.

< >"You know," he hollered to the sky. "I understand. I know itís not your fault." He paused, searching for the right words. "But at the same time, it isnít mine, either. Itís hers, and his... and then itís not." He paused again, and blinked. "You have a very confusing way of making things happen," he said with a small chuckle. "Confusing, but very admirable all the same." Draco rocked backwards and forwards on his heels, never losing eye contact with the man-in-the-moon. "All I want to know is," he continued, a little more serious now. "Is what you want me to do? Because, well, look at me."

< >He flung his arms outwards, as though trying to make the twinkling stars observe his bruised, battered, and broken body. "And look what happens when you leave me to my own devices!" He pulled his left sleeve up to his elbow, and showed the sky the most horrendous thing it had ever seen. As red as blood seeping from a freshly sliced wound, the Dark Mark was branded into his forearm. It was just as hideous as itís creator and inserter.

< >"Do you see my point?" he shouted, staring determinedly upwards. He pulled his sleeve back down, just as three very stern voices rang across the grounds and cut through the nightís fog as if it were butter.

< >"Mr. Malfoy!" that was, most definitely, McGonagall.

< >"Draco?" Rhiannon.

< >"What on earth do you think youíre doing?" and Snape.

< >Draco turned around, and walked towards the furious Professors, and gave them all a weak smile. There was a very long pause, before Draco broke the silence. "Well," he said lightly, looking at each of their confused faces. "Am I going to be questioned, or simply given a detention? Because you look like you want an explanation, but I donít know where you want me to begin."

< >"First of all," McGonagall said sharply. "What happened to you?"

< >"Oh," Draco said quietly. He watched Rhiannonís face pale even more than usual, and decided a lie was safest. Because he would be killed if Dumbledore questioned Lucius about abuse... "Oh. I fell down the stairs at the Manor," he said firmly. "It was quite a ride..."

< >"Well," Snape said darkly. "I will take him up to the infirmary. You two can go and get Professor Dumbledore."

< >Rhiannon and McGonagall nodded solemnly, and set off for Dumbledoreís office. Shortly after, he and Snape strode off to the infirmary, every step Draco took causing him an enormous effort because of pain.

< >"You didnít fall down the stairs," Snape said so abruptly that Draco was taken aback. "You have quite a bit of grace. And youíre too vain to admit that you fell down a flight of stairs. It isnít in your character. What really happened?"

< >"Iím - Iím afraid I canít tell you that, Professor." Draco replied, twisting the ring on his finger nervously. "I donít want to get into more trouble with Lucius than necessary. And I think Iíve used up his patience for the rest of my life..."

< >When they reached the infirmary, McGonagall, Rhiannon, and Dumbledore were already there, waiting for him. Madam Pomfrey handed Draco a pair of (to his absolute horror) paisley pajamas, and put a screen around his bed, so that he could change in peace. Every movement he made felt as though he were being stabbed with particularly sharp knives, and every time he took a step his head pounded so intensely that he felt as though he were being whacked in the head with a size 6 pewter cauldron. (A very thick bottomed cauldron, thanks to that stupid prat Percy Weasley)

< >He winced as he climbed into bed, and the Professors seated themselves around him.

< >Dumbledore looked strained, almost as though he were confused. Iíll bet thatís a first, Draco thought with a smirk.

< >"Draco," Dumbledore said quietly. "Professors McGonagall and Malfoy told me that you were shouting to someone while you were out in the snow. May I ask who that was?"

< >Oh, Draco thought, a bit of defensiveness overtaking him. He thinks Iím nutty.

< >"Well," Draco said slowly. "You know who I was talking to, donít you?" They all shook their heads. "You need to pay a bit more attention, then." he continued evasively. "Observe instead of see. I was talking,"- he pointed his index finger upwards, watching their heads tilt back in wonderment - "To him."

< >All of them looked back down at him in amazement, and he simply smirked. "May I ask this characterís name?" Rhiannon asked, her voice wavering slightly.

< >"Oh, well no one really knows his name, now do they?" Draco replied. "But, he is everywhere. Iím sure Professor Dumbledore knows who Iím talking about, donít you?"

< >"Yes," Dumbledore said quietly. "I believe I do now, Draco." He turned to the three bewildered Professors, and smiled wearily. "I will explain to you later." he said. Then, he turned back to Draco. "Madam Pomfrey will have to examine your injuries," he said awkwardly. "I hope you do not mind. I have fallen down the stairs many times in my life, and I know what an extremely unpleasant experience it is."

< >They all stood up, gave Draco sympathetic looks, and left him to be examined by Madam Pomfrey. To tell the truth, he would rather have had another go with Lucius and that metal pole.

~

< >"He didnít fall down the stairs?"

< >"Not as far as I can tell, Albus. It looks more like he had been beaten, because there were bruises in places the stairs couldnít have touched, even as he fell..."

< >"Youíre sure, Poppy?"

< >"Quite."

< >"Iíll have a talk with him when he wakes up. Iím sending someone up with his breakfast in a moment. Iíll come by later . . ."

< >"Good bye, Albus."

< >Draco groggily opened his eyes, and felt more pain than he ever had in his life. Every piece of him seemed to have been twisted into an interesting shape, and it wasnít extremely comfortable. He tried to shift, but found that he couldnít. He couldnít move. The most he could do was speak, and that wasnít very comforting, as he didnít want to talk to anyone at the moment.

< >He suddenly felt rather cold, and realized that he was only in the pajama bottoms, and that he was drenched in sweat from the waist-up. Blinking around in his frustration of temporary immobility, Draco cleared his throat loudly, and saw someone stir in the next bed.

< >He looked over (as best he could), and groaned. Potter was in the infirmary, too. It looked as though he were in almost as much pain as Draco was, though. And this comforted him slightly.

< >Madam Pomfrey came bustling into the room, and looked at him. It was a strangely suspicious look, and Draco did his best not to throw a sharp comment at her. He didnít want any more injuries from mad adults.

< >"Er - good morning." he said quietly, trying to move his hand enough to scratch his nose. "Will breakfast be here anytime soon? Iím starving..."

< >"Oh," Madam Pomfrey looked quite amazed that he was observing niceties, but still as though she thought he was up to something. "Yes. Dumbledore has asked someone to bring the both of you breakfast." She looked over at Potter in a motherly fashion, and Draco struggled not to gag. "Poor dear," she said fondly. "He was playing a game of Quidditch with someone early this morning, and was knocked off of his broom by a Bludger. Poor dear..." she repeated.

< >"Are you sure he didnít just, you know, dive off?" Draco asked, sounding hopeful. "Because it seems the kind of thing he would do... For attention, you know..."

< >But before Madam Pomfrey could reply, two people came walking through the door, and Draco groaned, inwardly this time. The two people, were Ginny and Granger. They stopped near the door, looked at each other for a moment, and then set off. Ginny went to Potterís bed, and Granger came over and sat by him.

< >"You look terrible," she said breathlessly. "What on earth happened?"

< >"The last thing I remember," he said tersely. "Is a very long metal pole. Thatís all." Of course that was a lie. He remembered every second since he had gotten inside the Manor, and would have paid dearly to have changed that fact.

< >"Sounds - awful." Granger said quietly. "Er, can you move at all?"

< >The bitter reality of what was going to happen hit Draco hard in the face. No, he couldnít move. She could, and she had his breakfast. He was going to be fed by HERMIONE GRANGER!

< >"No," he whispered, feeling extremely angry. "I canít."

< >"Iíll feed you, then." she said, in a friendly manner that startled Draco even more than when she put some eggs on his fork, and held them in front of his mouth. "No, really," she added. "Iím serious."

< >And she was. She fed him in complete silence, which meant they were forced to listen to Ginny and Potter conversing. Granger seemed to be taking it just as hard as Draco was. He hadnít found this surprising, though. He had known about her crush on him for six years.

< >"They make me sick," Granger said suddenly. She seemed to notice that he was staring in the opposite direction, and asked, "What are you thinking?"

< >"I was wondering which was more original," Draco said wryly. "Killing Potter over there, or someone else, who cannot be named. What do you think?"

< >"Oh, donít kill Harry," she replied, looking absolutely pitiful. "Because, You-Know-Who has tried that a number of times. Kill the other person, if it has to be anyone at all..."

< >"I think both," he said with a satisfied smile. "After all, then I can have revenge on the both of them before I go to Azkaban,"

< >"You want revenge on Harry?" she asked curiously. "Why, whatever for? He hasnít done anything to you, now has he? At least, not recently - I hope."

< >"Hah." Draco said firmly. "I suppose you could think that, if you wanted to," He chanced a look over at Ginny and Potter, only to see the both of them flirting intensely with each other. He looked as though the sight had burned his eyes.

< >"Oh, donít bother looking at them," Granger said insistently.

< >But the moment she had said that, Draco locked eyes with Ginny, and had a very sarcastic thought. Oh yes, Ginny. I can see exactly what you mean. ĎDraco! Itís not that either!í Youíre doing a wonderful job of being convincing me of that.

< >And then, quick as a bullet, came a response. Draco, leave me alone. Iím talking to Harry because heís my friend, not because I want him to ask me out!

< >Oh, Draco replied in a tone of mock thoughtfulness. And thatís why you two are flirting with each other as though the room were completely empty. I get it now...

< >And before Ginnyís argument could come, Potter cleared his throat, and said, "Ginny, do you want to go out with me?"

< >Draco gave her one last sneer, and turned to look at Granger. She looked like she were going to faint any moment now... "Excuse me," she said quietly. "I need to - to go and get some - air. And perhaps a rifle," She stood up, and left the infirmary without so much as a backwards glance at the three who remained.

< >Draco then plugged his ears, not wanting to hear a word of the upcoming conversation. And then, after what seemed to be twenty minutes, Ginny left, and Draco cleared his ears. Quite to his misfortune, Dumbledore walked into the room, stared at Potter, and then at Draco. He smiled slightly, and called for Madam Pomfrey. She came out of her office very quickly, handed Potter his clothes, and told him he could go. Dumbledore sat down next to Dracoís bed, and suddenly took on a very serious expression.

< >"Poppy," he said to Madam Pomfrey. "I must ask you to leave us for a moment. I expect Mr. Malfoy will want his privacy while talking to me."

< >Pomfrey looked rather reluctant, but left with Potter, slamming the door behind her. Dumbledore looked into Dracoís face, and then said, "Draco, you didnít fall down the stairs."

< >"I - I - I didnít?" Draco stammered, his voice cracking slightly.

< >"No," Dumbledore replied. "Madam Pomfrey said that there were bruises and cuts places that the stairs couldnít have hit... Like behind your ears. And," he continued, looking more stern than he ever had. "She says it looks like youíve been whipped. Red, long, bleeding lines and cuts on your back... She said that you were screaming in your sleep last night..."

< >He was in trouble now.

< >"Oh - was I?" Draco asked, trying desperately to sound casual. "I canít imagine why I would be --"

< >"Draco," Dumbledore said quietly. "I will be here if ever you decide to tell me what is going on. Now, Rhiannon is waiting outside. She needs to talk to you . . . Should I ask Madam Pomfrey to stay out there while you talk to your cousin?"

< >"Yes," Draco said stiffly. "Thank you, Professor."

< >Dumbledore stood, and exited the hospital wing. At least three seconds after he left, Rhiannon came running in, and she sat where Dumbledore had been sitting. "Draco, what happened?" she asked in an urgent air.

< >"What do you think happened, Annie?" he asked. "When I got home for Christmas, Lucius was holding a metal pole. I was lucky enough to make friends with it."

< >There was an unpleasant pause, where Rhiannon choked back dry sobs. Then, she broke the silence. "And - you - you didnít join, Draco?" she asked tentatively.

< >"I was beaten into submission, Annie. Do you really think I had a choice? Besides, you joined, and youíre at least half-decent. Sometimes."

~

< >"I canít believe you just said yes to that stupid prat Potter right under Malfoyís nose!" Tom screamed. He had become immensely interested in Ginnyís romantic life. "I mean, Malfoy didnít forget your birthday, now did he?"

< >With this, Tom had hit gold. Draco had given her his life, his death, and his mind. And Harry had given her... an apology. But, Draco had this dangerous edge, where Harry had this intense sweetness. And sweetness was important to Ginny...

< >"Shut up, Tom." Ginny said for what seemed like the thousandth time. "I donít want your opinion. After all, I really like Harry."

< >"And Malfoy really likes you." Tom said firmly. "Remember his face when you told him that you didnít want to be his girlfriend? It really isnít fair that youíre just leaving him alone..."

< >"Tom," Ginny said shortly. "You are just trying to put me on a guilt trip, which I do not appreciate. So leave me alone."

~

< >Saturday, January 21. Madam Pomfrey had finally released Draco from the infirmary, and he was now sitting in the Great Hall, trying very hard to enjoy his dinner. He had become quite the object of speculation, and was having a hard time ignoring the stares from the Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor tables. His fellow Slytherins didnít care a ratís behind about him, and so he was left in peace, unless you count Pansy Parkinson, who batted her eyelashes furiously, and kept trying to hold his hand.

< >And every so often, his eyes darted convulsively to the Gryffindor table, where Ginny sat. Every time he looked up, she was looking back at him as well, and a few times Potter, her brother, and Granger would have to snap her back into reality, just as Pansy would try to do with him. It wasnít working, however. Because even though Madam Pomfrey had made his injuries invisible, it didnít stop them from hurting in a very extreme fashion. And quite a few times, he lost himself in his pain as he pretended Pansy wasnít there, and toyed emptily with his mashed-potatoes, vegetables, and pork chops.

< >"Iím glad youíve stopped hanging around her, Draco." Pansy was saying in a simpering manner. "Sheís not one you want to be with, and Iím glad youíve seen the error of your ways..."

< >"You know what Pansy?" Draco replied, looking right at her, which made her eyes light up. "Youíre absolutely right."

< >"I - I am?" she asked curiously.

< >"Yes," he said firmly. "And you arenít the kind of person I want to be with, either. Good bye."

< >And with that, he stood up from the Slytherin table, and walked out of the Great Hall, leaving Pansy sobbing behind him.

< >He knew that wasnít very nice, but he had lost all reason for niceness. He didnít have anyone to be on his best behavior for, and wasnít even sure that he had best behavior at all. It seems it had all flown out the window, along with all his hopes for his life. He was a Death Eater, like Lucius. He was twisted and cruel, like Lucius. He was probably going to marry someone like (to his disgust) Pansy so that he could keep his family pureblooded, like Lucius. He was probably going to be miserable, become a drunkard, and beat his children, like Lucius. And he was very sure that he didnít want that.

< >He didnít go to the Slytherin common room that night. Instead, he wandered throughout the castle, looking for places he had never been, or places he had been, but hadnít had enough time to explore. After he had visited the West Tower, and a broom cupboard that had a secret passage that led to the Ravenclaw common room (he couldnít get farther because he didnít have the password), he found the most beautiful place he had ever seen.

< >It appeared to be a fencing room, to his delight. Because fencing was the only thing he had really every been good at, or had a natural talent for. It was a square-shaped room, with walls made of silvery marble. The windows (which were rather large) were draped in periwinkle silk, and there were racks upon racks of exquisite fencing swords. He walked over to them, and pulled one out of itís holder.

< >It was silver, and had a fine blade, and the handle was wrapped in black dragon hide. The handle also had a number of jewels inside it, they were purple. Draco took off his cloak, and robes, leaving him in his uniform. He then took off his tie, and began some fencing exercises that he had been taught when he was just seven years old.

< >"No, no. Master Draco, you hold it like this." his fencing instructor said calmly. "So that you are ready to attack at any moment. Do you get that?"

< >"Yes," Draco said, rolling his eyes in frustration. "But my father taught me how to hold the thing already, he wants you to teach me how to fight."

< >After about three hours, a sweating Draco stopped shadow-fencing, and leaned against the wall, panting. He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, and smiled to himself. He had to keep going, because when he stopped, the world would start spinning again, and he would be in more pain than before, because of his fencing with his stiff body. He didnít want that to happen, so he started once again.

~

< >"Whatís all the racket about?" Ginny asked a slightly satisfied looking Harry and Ron. Hermione, however, looked ready to faint.

< >"Oh, someoneís gone missing." Ron replied absently as he stuffed bacon into his mouth. "Itís nothing, really. He should be back soon."

< >"Ron," Hermione snapped. "Heís been missing since after dinner last night! I think he might be in trouble,"

< >"And would that be a bad thing?" Harry asked, looking surprised at Hermioneís concern. "I mean, that stu -"

< >"Harry!" Hermione hissed, nodding towards Ginny, who raised her eyebrows.

< >"No, seriously you guys," Ginny said, feeling rather panicky. "Who is it? If you donít tell me, Iíll go ask someone else. Donít you think itíll be better if I hear it from one of you?"

< >"Malfoy went missing after dinner last night," Ron said before Hermione could shut him up. "Remember when he left last night, really early? Well, he hasnít been seen by anyone since then. Not even the ghosts."

< >Ginny felt her stomach drop, and looked down at the Keepers Charm around her neck. The other three looked at it as well, though they had no idea what it was. Or so it appeared.

< >"Whatís that?" said Harry through a mouthful of kippers. "It looks really pretty, but where did you get it?"

< >"It looks like itís made of crystal," Ron said, awe in his voice. "Where did you get it, Gin?"

< >"Iíve read about those," Hermione said keenly, peering at the silvery hair inside it. "Oh," She looked up at Ginny, and her eyes widened. "Oh," she said again. "Oh, wow. Ginny, is that what I think it is?"

< >Ginny nodded, feeling herself blush. "Is someone going to let us in on this little charm thingy?" Ron asked as Harry picked it up, and stared at it.

< >"Ginny, I need to talk to you, alone." Hermione said quickly. "Come with me, will you?"

< >"Okay," Ginny said quietly, standing up. And as she and Hermione walked away, they distinctly heard Harry say. "It must be one of those girl things. Like lip gloss."

< >They hurried down a long corridor just outside the Great Hall, and turned sharply to go down some stairs, which let them out at a cheery hall, with paintings of food all around. Hermione stopped next to a painting of a gigantic fruit dish, and looked at Ginny expectantly.

< >"Are you going to find him, then?" she asked shortly. "Because we have no idea where he could be. You know that, right?"

< >Ginny felt tears coming on, and buried her face in her hands, not wanting Hermione to see her crying over the notorious Draco Malfoy. "I - I - I donít know!" she sobbed, trying desperately to make those wretched tears go away. "Hermione, what if heís dead by now? What if heís not even here anymore?! Besides, he doesnít want to talk to me. Heís really upset with me, because..."

< >"Because of what, Ginny?" Hermione asked softly. "You can tell me anything, I wonít tell anyone anything you tell me here. The only things down here are the house-elves, anyway."

< >Ginny looked up from her hands, and a few solitary tears slid down her cheeks. She then related the whole scenario to Hermione, who said all the right things. "And he hates me now," Ginny said quietly. "Because he thinks Iím in love with Harry instead of him. But thatís not it at all! And then he heard Harry ask me out, and me saying yes, and Tom is being awful to me..."

< >"You need to tell Dumbledore," Hermione commanded. "Or at least find him for yourself. Then no one would know where he had been, if he has a place where he goes to be alone..."

< >Ginny nodded. "Hermione, Iím going to find him. Would you come with me? I donít want him shouting at me if he has the chance."

< >Hermione agreed, and Ginny took the Keepers Charm from her neck. She then took out her wand, tapped the Charm, and said "Detecto!" The Charm then turned a funny green color, and left Ginnyís hands, floating slowly along the corridor. They followed, making sure that the halls were empty, and making up lies when people found this sight odd.

< >The Charm stopped about a half-hour later, in front of a large ebony door on the 10th and final floor. Hands trembling slightly, Hermione and Ginny slowly opened the door, to see an enormous, square shaped room. And Draco fencing with his shadow, only in his pants and boots.

< >He turned to face the both of them, and looked like he were groaning inwardly. Then, without any sign of a Ďhelloí, he went back to his fencing. Ginny and Hermione exchanged nervous looks, and slowly drew nearer. And then he said something as he lunged at himself. "I expect the school is looking for me? Or, Professor Snape in the least. I doubt the whole school really cares if Iím gone. Iím sure quite a few of them are party-ing in secret..."

< >And then Ginny saw it, and from the look on Hermioneís face, she had seen it as well. On his left forearm, which was the arm he was fencing with (Heís left-handed? Ginny thought curiously), was the Dark Mark, blood red and gleaming dangerously in the bright morning sunlight that streamed through the windows. Hermione let out an audible gasp, and Draco chuckled softly.

< >"Are you going to tell everyone, now?" he asked, putting his sword-arm down, and giving them a questioning look. "If you are, I will go to Azkaban, Ginny. And Iíd like to finish my magical education first," He looked as though he would rather be shouting at them.

< >"Malfoy, I - er- I wonít tell anyone." Hermione said solemnly. "At least, not yet. But, the teachers are frantic. Theyíre searching everywhere - they seem to think that your missing will threaten to close the school..."

< >"Oh, is that their only interest?" Draco asked, looking furtively around at them. "Well, it doesnít surprise me, but I canít leave here, you know. I have too much more practicing to do just now. If I stop moving, Iíll go rigid, and thatís not an experience I want right now. And besides, I think Iím beating myself." With that, he started again, and Ginny and Hermione were left in awe at his superb fencing abilities.

< >"Draco, you have to at least make an appearance!" Ginny said abruptly. "If you donít, theyíll youíve died, and I wonít tell them we found you."

< >"I expect Potter and the other Weasley would like that quite a bit," he said thoughtfully. "So, go on ahead. I might as well make someone happy before I strangle myself with my stupid decisions."

< >"Malfoy, if you donít come with us this instant, weíll beat you into it." Hermione said hotly.

< >Draco chuckled again. "Iíve heard enough of that for my entire lifetime," he sneered, he then jumped atop a table that was sitting in the middle of the room, and basically shredded his shadow. "I donít want to go with either of you. You both drive me out of my sanity. So, if you donít mind, Iíd like you to leave now, while I begin another round with myself." he jumped off the table, and landed right in front of the both of them, just three feet away.

< >Ginny resisted the urge to stumble backwards. She looked into his eyes, and, for the first time, actually took in his appearance. His sleek hair was tousled, and his chest was rising and falling heavily with every shallow breath he took. He looked painfully thin, and as though he had just been 72 hours without sleep. His silvery eyes had bruise-blue shadows beneath them, and his muscular arms seemed to be worn out completely. His face was alight with frustration, and his eyes looked as cold as a block of ice.

< >"Draco," she said quietly. "Please come back with us. Everyone is really worried. I promise,"

< >"I donít have a reason to come back there," he said coldly. "I have no one who will miss me. I have no one who is truly concerned about my well-being whom I will se when I get back to that common room which I live in. I donít have a single book that I havenít read at least thirteen times, and all my others were - destroyed. I have nothing at all, so leave me here in peace, and the school will finally have a real reason to be happy."

< >"Iím not leaving you here," Ginny said stubbornly. She pulled out her wand, and said "Stupefy!" and then, "Hermione, grab his clothes. We donít want people thinking he went skinny dipping in the lake. Mobilicorpus!" And she and Hermione brought him back downstairs, where the school was completely dumbfounded by their story. And a few girls burst into tears when they woke him up, and he started cursing at them all. One of these girls, was Ginny.

~

< >Depression was now the word that best described how Draco felt. His body ached and was stiff from his all-night fencing match with himself, and he now had no where to go. He was lying on his four-poster, the curtains drawn around him. He didnít feel remotely peaceful. More angry with Ginny for subduing him, and at the whole ruddy school for looking for him. They just werenít gong to make this easy for him, were they? It was obvious the answer of that question. He pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes, and little sparkles began to appear. Then interesting designs, and then, all-out blackness. Black. Black was a very interesting color.

< >"Oh, who am I kidding?" he asked himself sourly. "This isnít remotely what I am supposed to be doing." He grabbed a piece of parchment from his bedside table, and a bottle of emerald ink.

< >Father, he wrote slowly.

< >Hello. This is your son, Draco. I have a very interesting question to ask you. When I come home, where am I going to work? Do you already have a place secured for me in the Ministry? Or am I to forever serve Him? Please let me know before my graduation, seeing as Iíd like to be able to know what Iím going to do when I leave the comforts of this school.

< >Oh yes, Dumbledore probably sent you an owl saying I had gone missing. Well, I found a fencing room, and I was practicing. Please donít yell at me.

-- Draco

< >He then folded it up, and whistled, waiting for his eagle-owl, Mercury, to come to take his letter. He arrived just moments later, and was soon off again. Draco sighed as he watched Mercury fly off. He was free - In a sense. He had the choice of leaving if he wanted. Of course, Draco had that choice, too. But the result was death.

~

< >"Oh blast, they found him?" Draco heard Potter say loudly as he passed. "Well, at least they wonít try and make me Head Boy now, eh Ron?"

< >Draco turned around, to see Potter, Weasley, and Granger, standing with Ginny in the middle of the corridor, walking slowly.

< >"Twenty points from Gryffindor, Potter," he said with a sneer. "For insulting a superior. And if you donít stop bothering me, I can assure you all a detention, and it will be ninety points per person." He glanced edgily at Ginny, who was holding Potterís hand. Quite a few curse words flashed through his mind, and she gave him a piercing look.

< >"Oh, shove off, Malfoy." Weasley said coolly. "We donít need you to ruin this wonderful day,"

< >"Ninety points from Gryffindor, each." Draco replied. "And a detention for all of you. Except Granger. Sheís Head Girl, so I canít give her detention."

< >"What did I do?" Ginny asked indignantly, glaring at him through her glasses.

< >"You were in company of the rule-breakers," he smirked. "Now, if you donít mind, I have to get to Potions." He strode off, leaving the four people in his dust.

< >Potions was about as fun as it can get. Luckily, Professor Snape deducted twenty points rom Neville Longbottom, because he had, once again, managed to burn a hole through his cauldron, make a very nasty looking wart-removing potion to spill across the floor, and give people warts instead of the reverse. He had laughed as loud as Snape when Potter had some spill across his face, and was sent up to the hospital wing after class. And, also after class, Granger caught up with him.

< >"Look, Malfoy, you really shouldnít pay any attention to what Harry says," she said earnestly "Heís just trying to get on your nerves, and it wonít help if you take points from him."

< >He looked at her impatiently, and tutted. "You just donít want Gryffindor to lose the house-cup," he said knowingly. "But the points I take from Potter are for his own stupid mistakes. Itís his fault." He started to walk away, but paused, and looked at Granger once more. "And tell that Weasley girl Iíll see her Saturday in the Quidditch final. Gryffindor against Slytherin."

< >He finally headed to Defense Against the Dark Arts, with Granger staring after him, disbelief etched all over her face.

< >Later that night, at a Quidditch practice, Draco looked imploringly at his Beaters, Crabbe and Goyle. "Boys," he said heavily. "There are two people I want you to aim for on Saturday. Potter, and that Weasley girl."

< >"But, Draco -" Crabbe began in confusion. "Sheís not even a valuable player!"

< >"Sheís only a Beater," Goyle added in his bewildered voice.

< >"Exactly," Draco said with a smirk. "But if you get her, that only leaves that McDonald girl to go after our team. Do. You. Get. The. Point?"


Real Chapter Two


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