Standard disclaimer applies, only the plot is mine.
Thanks to Mynuet for the insight into how Molly and Arthur Weasley might think about Muggles.
Draco sits quietly in the deserted classroom, waiting for Ginny Weasley to show up. He’s early but as is the case lately, he couldn’t stand being in the Slytherin common room a moment longer, listening to his housemates discuss the rise of the Dark Lord and the return of the Purebloods to power. If only they knew the hypocrisy of the Death Eaters, he thinks, if only they knew that their so-called savior is half Muggle himself; he can’t help snickering to himself at the chaos that would result at that knowledge.
At times he’s tempted to blurt it out, to tell them what he knows – but he can’t, not now at least. He’s discussed it with Ginny and she’s convinced him that since Dumbledore knows, as do others, and they’ve not revealed it as yet, they must not want it to be public knowledge. They’ve both wondered why; Death Eater attacks have been escalating and one would think that the revelation that Voldemort is not a Pureblood would cause dissention amongst them. Ginny has told him that she thinks Dumbledore may be waiting for a critical moment, so although it’s difficult, he keeps silent.
He won’t have to put up with his housemates for much longer; it’s only a week until he leaves Hogwarts forever, a fully trained adult wizard. His NEWTS are over and he knows that he’s done well on them – he certainly spent enough time studying, usually in this very room with Ginny Weasley next to him, quizzing him constantly, challenging him continually. He shakes his head; he’s changed so much since the day he walked into Hogwarts to begin his final year.
At times he wonders what would have happened had he not sought her out, not forced her to help him, not faced his demons. Would he be like Crabbe and Goyle, parroting their fathers, mindlessly awaiting their initiation into the Death Eaters when they returned home? Would he be like Zabini, straddling the line between the light and the dark, uncomfortable in either? He doesn’t really want to know the answer because he’s afraid of what it would be. Although she doesn’t know it, Ginny Weasley is the person who gave him the strength to make his own choice, and it’s not the one everyone expected him to make.
He sits there, thinking of Ginny Weasley and the past months, thinking of the relationship they’ve forged. It took him a week after that first time of sharing their thoughts to contact her again, a week of trying on his own to understand his actions, a week of growing more and more frustrated as his thoughts skittered around his brain. He knew she really didn’t want to continue but that she would not go back on her word, so finally he sent her a message to meet him once again in the classroom. He still remembers the feeling that washed over him when she walked in, not just relief but something he couldn’t put a name to, at least not then.
”You came,” he said, “I didn’t think you would.”
“I said I’d help,” she answered, walking to the desk next to him and placing a basin with runes engraved on it on his desk before sitting down. “I’ve brought you your own Pensieve. I went to Dumbledore and asked him for one. Oh, don’t worry … I didn’t tell him who it was for, I just said that another student needed help and I was giving it.”
He looked at the Pensieve and then at her. “You went to Dumbledore? For me? You didn’t have to do that, you know.”
“I know,” she replied, looking at him carefully, “But without it, it’s going to be harder for you. And I couldn’t give you mine; I still need it.” She sighed and then said, “Sometimes I wonder if I’ll always need it, if I’ll always need to keep those thoughts separate.”
“Is that so bad? To keep them separate, I mean,” he asked. “Will I have to?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “That depends on you. But if you do, now you have your own Pensieve.” She gave him a small smile and teased, “I mean, a Malfoy having to share. Can’t have that, can we?”
She could have made it so much harder for him, but to his surprise she didn’t … even through the many sessions after that one. At first they met once a week, and then it became twice a week and sometimes more. For the most part she listened, periodically interjecting with her own experiences and challenges. At times she had a light, teasing manner, refusing to be drawn in by his dark, bitter moods, while at other times she was implacable, making it clear she thought he was trying to avoid dealing with something. While he knew she had a temper, she never lost hers when he became frustrated and kicked the desks in anger, furious at his inability to move past certain issues.
He remembers that it had been one of those times when he was frustrated that they started talking about other things.
”I can’t bloody do this,” he shouted, throwing himself into a chair and glaring at her, furious with himself and because of that, with her. “I don’t know why I didn’t just walk away from Potter when he caught the Snitch. I was pissed off, you know. I never ever catch it when I’m playing against Potter. So I said things … big fucking deal. You’ve never said things when you’ve been angry?”
“Yes, I have,” she answered quietly, “But they’re usually directed at the person I’m angry with, not about the people they love and care about. Those taunts cut deeper and you know that, that’s why you say them, because you want to hurt them more than you’re hurting yourself.”
“Such insight,” he sneered, “You know so much about me then? So, tell me, why didn’t I walk away from Potter and your brothers then? Hmm? Can’t answer?”
She shook her head. “No, I can’t. Only you can. You know that as well as I do.” She gave him a small smile and then asked, “So who’s your favorite Quidditch team? My brother’s followed the Chudley Cannons for years but I think they’re a bunch of losers. I’m a Falmouth Falcons fan myself.”
He stared at her, not understanding the sudden shift in conversation. “What are you on about? Why the bloody questions about Quidditch? Who the fuck cares about Quidditch?”
“You obviously do. You play, and if you play, you likely follow the professional teams. You must have a favorite team, everyone does.” She shrugged her shoulders and added, “We might as well talk about Quidditch. It’s obviously time to give the other a rest. You can’t force it, Draco, you just can’t. It’ll come to you eventually and then you can move on to other issues. So let’s talk about Quidditch for a while.”
It became a routine after that; when he couldn’t deal any more with his thoughts about his actions, they’d talk about Quidditch, and then later, they moved on to talk about school and their classes. That’s when they started bringing their schoolwork with them, finding the deserted classroom a welcome respite from the crowded library or the noise of their respective common rooms. Their conversations about classes and assignments led to other discussions and he found that Ginny Weasley possessed a keen intelligence and a lively wit. She had a quirky sense of humor and her wry observations had him often snickering, if not downright laughing.
He soon learned that she had no compunction in challenging many of his long-held beliefs. In fact, her favorite activity seemed to be forcing him to think for himself.
”Blast it all, that Granger’s a bloody know-it-all who can’t ever shut up!” he raged, slamming his schoolbooks on the desk, “I cannot believe that they made her Head Girl, it’s an outrage, considering who she is.”
Ginny gave him a cold look and with definite ice in her voice, asked, “What do you mean, who she is? I certainly hope you don’t mean what I think you do.”
He gave her just as cold a look back and replied, “Well, she is a Mud … I mean Muggle-born. They should keep the Head Girl and Boy positions for Purebloods. It’s bad enough that the others even have to be here but they shouldn’t be given prestige positions; it just encourages them.”
“Honestly, Draco Malfoy, why do you believe that? Look at some of the Purebloods in this school – could you honestly see Gregory Goyle or Vincent Crabbe as Head Boy? They can barely write their own names and their idea of magic is to crack someone’s head open. Oh, they’re shining examples of Pureblood superiority,” Ginny said exasperatedly. “Some of the best students in this school are Muggle-born. Grow up and deal with it, for pity’s sake!”
“Well, I would have expected no less from someone from a Muggle-loving family like yours!’ Draco spat, “Don’t you have any pride in your heritage, Weasley?”
Ginny sighed heavily. “Oh, find another song to sing, Malfoy,” she drawled in an uncanny imitation of his own bored voice, “I don’t know why you insist on calling my family Muggle lovers. The only Muggles my parents even half know are Hermione’s parents and that’s only because Hermione is my brother’s friend. My dad is fascinated with Muggles and how they cope without magic; he thinks they’re cute – that’s a far cry from loving them to pieces. Quite frankly, my parents are only comfortable with Muggle-born wizards and witches who have become a part of our world … they’re not comfortable with any other type of Muggle and they certainly don’t love them blindly.”
“But they’d let their son marry a Muggle-born, wouldn’t they? I mean, everyone knows your brother and Granger are mad for each other and when they finally stop mistaking arguing for foreplay, they’ll get together,” Draco bit out, “So purity of blood doesn’t mean all that much to them.”
“You’re confusing a Muggle-born witch or wizard with a Muggle, Malfoy,” Ginny pointed out, “There’s a world of difference. And my parents happen to believe that they can’t dictate who their children will love and want to marry.” She gave him a rather pityingly look and added, “And I do know that my parents believe that people shouldn’t be looked down on for something they had no control over. That’s not Muggle-loving, Draco, that’s respect for others, something your family has never seemed to learn. And as for you, your beliefs should be your own, and not just what you’ve learned to parrot from others.”
It was shortly after that conversation that she gave him the name of a book and suggested he read it, telling him that it theorized why Muggle children were born with magic and why some of the purest blood families produced squibs. He was fascinated as he read about the Muggle science of genetics and how recessive magic genes in Muggles could produce a child with dominant magic, and generations of interbreeding amongst Pureblood families could weaken the magic so that a child was born with recessive magic – a squib. He's never looked at Crabbe or Goyle the same way after that, and he's thankful that he told his mother in sixth year that he would never agree to an arranged marriage with Pansy … the thought that his children might have had Parkinson family traits still makes him shudder.
Draco has known for some time that he cares very deeply for Ginny Weasley; she’s become as essential to his well being as air. He finds himself daydreaming at times, thinking of a future in which they’re together, married with children and living the normal family life he’s always secretly wanted. These daydreams never last though; he’s a realist and there’s too much standing between them, too many barriers that are too great to overcome, no matter how much he’d like to try. He’ll knows he’ll never reveal how he feels to her… it’s the one thing he can’t confide; he’s too fearful of how she’ll react, and he doesn’t want to risk what little he has of her.
He’s startled when he hears Ginny laugh softly; she’s standing in front of him with a smile on her face. “Where were you?” she asks, “You looked as though you were a million miles away and it wasn’t a pleasant place.”
He forces himself to smile back and answer, “Nowhere really, I was just thinking about leaving Hogwarts. It seems odd, you know, to think that soon I’ll be expected to be a fully functioning adult, working away at whatever, instead of just a lowly student.”
Ginny laughs and waves her hand airily, “You? Really, Draco, when could you ever be considered a lowly student? Isn’t that against the Malfoy rules?” She sits down opposite Draco and looks at him appraisingly. “Now why don’t you tell me exactly what you were thinking? I know that it wasn’t about the job you’re likely to get in your family’s firm.”
Draco hesitates and then, before he can think better of it, asks her, “Why did you agree to help me? I know you didn’t want to, and you’ve certainly given up a lot of your time to do so. Why? I mean, you could have told me to go to blazes … no one would have ever believed me over you.”
He’s thought about asking her many times, usually fantasizing that she flings herself into his arms, telling him through her tears that it’s because she loves him. He holds his breath, knowing deep within him that his fantasy is just that and her answer will likely be no more or no less than what he expects.
Ginny’s obviously surprised by the question and she looks down at her hands clasped loosely in her lap to avoid looking at him directly. Finally she replies, “Because you asked. I couldn’t help thinking what would have happened had Dumbledore said no to helping me. I felt somehow that I should return the help he gave me.” She looks up at him, her face shielded by the hair that falls across it and then asks, “Why did you ask for help in the first place?”
It’s a logical question considering the one he asked her. Draco can’t answer her at first; his reasons for doing so, so clear at first, are all jumbled up now because of his feelings for her. It started as an attempt to control his emotions and then became a journey of discovery, of finding himself and of finding Ginny Weasley. Not knowing quite how to put it into words, he simply says,” I was tired of hating, of having that hate make my choices for me. I wanted to make my own choices but I couldn’t, not with those emotions controlling me.”
Ginny nods; she understands … she knows the feeling of needing to quell the emotions roiling underneath the surface before they consume you.
Draco clears his throat and almost hesitantly asks, “Have – have you told your parents about your using the Pensieve?”
This question surprises her more than the first one. “No, I haven’t,” she answers, “They think I’ve gotten over it. I’d rather not have them know – they’ll coddle me otherwise and I hate being coddled. Bit of a reaction to being the youngest and a girl, I reckon.” She looks up at him and asks, “Have you told yours? Your mother, I mean.”
Draco shakes his head, “No, I haven’t and I won’t. But I did tell my mother that I had no intention of taking the Mark and that I wouldn’t make the mistake that my father did. She told me that she was immensely relieved that she wouldn’t lose her son as she had her husband.” He closes his eyes, thinking of his mother’s words on the parchment, her relief almost tangibly seeping through the ink.
Ginny gives him a bright open smile and then to his shock, hugs him tightly. It’s the first time she has ever touched him and he feels warmth rush over him. “I’m so glad, Draco. I couldn’t bear the thought of you following the dark.”
“Well, just because I’m not fool enough to follow a raving lunatic, don’t think I’ve completely gone off the deep end and plan to devote my life to good works, Weasley,” Draco says gruffly, trying not to show how much her touch has affected him, “I’m still a Slytherin; I have to be somewhat dark and sinister … it’s in the Slytherin handbook, you know.”
Ginny laughs and moves away; he feels an emptiness where she was and he turns away to hide it. For a moment he wonders if he’s brave enough to speak of what she means to him, but he hesitates too long and then knows that the opportunity to do so is gone. She’s writing something down on a piece of parchment and after blowing on it lightly to dry it, hands him the parchment.
“This is my address, Draco. If you ever need to vent to someone, once you’re home, just write me,” she says, smiling gently.
“Only if I need to vent?” he queries, “Not for anything else?”
“That’s up to you,” she replies, “I consider myself your friend, Draco, whether you feel the same or not, and friends listen, no matter what.” Her voice is sincere and Draco feels a pang; he knows he’ll never write her … he can’t tantalize himself with thoughts of her once he’s left Hogwarts. Better to end it now completely than to torment himself with dreams of what can never be.
“Thank you, Ginny,” he says with only a faint tremor in his voice, and then, daringly, he clasps her gently to him and drops a kiss on her forehead, “Thank you for being my friend.” Before he can do anything he’ll regret later, he pulls away and leaves, closing the door firmly behind him, closing the door on the one thing he really wants to take with him from Hogwarts.
The next morning, Ginny comes down to breakfast, hoping to see Draco and perhaps arrange a final meeting before they both leave the school. She’s later than usual, and as she slides into her seat next to Hermione and across from Ron and Harry, she catches the tail end of a conversation between the three.
“Well, who told you, Harry? Did they say why?” Hermione asks, “Do they think that he’s, you know, gone to join ... Vol-Voldemort?”
Harry scowls and snaps, “Who knows? All I know is that he apparently got an owl early this morning, packed, and left immediately. If anyone does know why, they’re not saying.”
Ginny snags a piece of toast and bites into it, grimacing a bit at it being cold, and then asks, “Who’s left? Who’re you talking about?”
Hermione leans over and whispers, “Draco Malfoy. Apparently he took off this morning and no one seems to know why or where.”
Ginny’s now knows what people mean when they say their hearts stopped. She feels as if the bit of toast she’s eaten will choke her and she closes her eyes, trying to keep herself composed. She gets up and without a word, leaves the Great Hall, Hermione calling after her and Ron starting to get up to follow her before Harry pulls him back. She almost runs back to her dormitory and throws herself on her bed, fighting back the tears that threaten to overwhelm her. As she clenches her hands into her pillow, she notices a scroll lying next to it. She grabs it and reads its contents, her tears blurring the words.
My father has escaped from Azkaban. My mother’s frightened that he will try to force me to join the Dark Lord so we are leaving the country. A Secret Keeper has been arranged so I’ll be unable to contact you.
I didn’t have the courage to tell you before and now I don’t know when or if I’ll ever have the chance.
I love you … and I would give anything if we could be together someday. I know that it’s not possible outside of my dreams, but know that if I could make it possible, I would.
Take care of yourself, please.
I love you.
Ginny crushes the scroll in her hands, holding onto it tightly as if by doing so she can keep Draco with her. Tears trickling down her cheeks, she stares blankly at the wall … she doesn’t move for a very long time.
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