Chapter 3: Prelude to a Storm

September 17, 1997

It was well past curfew and, though the silence was deafening to some, Ginny Weasley welcomed it with open arms. She hated to admit it, but as much as she loved her brother and her friends, it was times like these that she craved most. A time when she could just sit and think.

As a little girl, she had never had such an overwhelming desire to be alone for any given amount of time. Instead she had relished living in a house that was always humming with excitement, always crowded. As a little girl, she never needed to have time to just sit by herself and reflect on, well, anything.

That all changed in her first year at Hogwarts. It had taken her a long time to get over what had happened to her that year. It was months before she could learn to forgive herself for all she had done, despite the fact that a young Voldemort had been controlling her actions. She had been used, and it was a feeling she never wanted to have again. But she would be kidding herself if she said that the events in the Chamber of Secrets hadn’t left a mark on her in some way. It had changed her, made her more aware and vigilant. (Though, she supposed that at least Moody would be happy about that.) The experience had made her less trusting and she had ultimately closed herself off from the company of others for a year before she allowed herself to open up, ever so slowly, to Hermione and Harry.

A frown formed on Ginny’s face as she shook her head. She didn’t want to think about her past right now. She had been forgiven for that long ago; she had moved on. Hell, she had even managed to put Lucius Malfoy in Azkaban; something she had longed to do since he had given her that diary all those years ago.

Her eyes drifted to the wall clock that hung above the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room. She sighed; it was almost one in the morning. Yawning, she closed her eyes as she rested her head against the cold glass window. She wanted nothing more than to go to sleep right now, but something was gnawing at her and it was causing her to have a severe case of insomnia. It was the second night in a row she had been kept up with it and she was seriously considering dealing with a week’s worth of detentions and waking up Madam Pomfrey for a Sleeping Drought potion.

She let out a quiet groan as she remembered the annoying, not to mention strange, reason for her insomnia. For some reason, not clear to even her, she couldn’t stop thinking about Draco Malfoy. Ever since he approached her in the hall, he seemed to have gone back to his old ways. Though - and this was why she was convinced she was going insane - his insults seemed almost forced. Almost. And then there was the time that Harry had made a comment about Draco’s parents. It seemed that if you mentioned his father he would go quiet, but one word about his mother and you’d have a wand pressed against your throat.

And then, of course, there was the way he was acting in the Great Hall two days ago. It was something that Ginny’s mind was having a ridiculously hard time letting go of. There was just something not right about Draco Malfoy slumping, not to mention his near acknowledgement of some sort of pain. She was positive that no one else would have seen it but she was quite the perceptive one and had caught it without even really trying. He had been in physical pain that day. She had noticed both the slumping and the slightly hidden look of pain appear again later that same day as he took the time to insult her in the hall.

And it was all driving her absolutely batty because as much as she tried to get her mind off of these slightly strange events, she just couldn’t. It was driving her entirely mad to the point of exhaustion due to her lack of sleep. She ran a hand over her face and through her hair as she let out a sigh. She needed to get out of here.

She looked up to the clock once more. It was now 1:02 in the morning. She looked to her cloak that she had tossed haphazardly over a chair in front of the fire when she had come down here not but an hour ago. She had a horrible feeling that if she walked out of this room and into the rest of the castle she would get caught. She thought for a moment before grabbing he cloak, suddenly not caring what the consequences would be. She wasn’t a prisoner and insomnia was not a crime. Besides, if she had to stay locked up in the Gryffindor common room, unable to sleep, she would lose her mind – though with Malfoy consuming all her thoughts she wasn’t entirely convinced she hadn’t already lost it.

Shaking her head, she went to entrance and whispered the password before making her way out into the corridor.

* * *

Her footsteps were soft as she crept around the castle. She actually found it a bit of a rush to be wandering around the castle this late. There was a certain level of danger and threat that hung in the air, knowing full well that if she got caught the consequences could be disastrous. But yet, as Ginny Weasley walked down the halls she knew so well, she didn’t care about getting caught.

She smiled as she realized that for the first time since she was eleven, she felt free. She had no one watching her, waiting for her to become a frightened little girl. No one controlling her every move. No one around to question what she was doing and why. It was rather exhilarating and she had to wonder why she hadn’t done this before.

It wasn’t until she was nearing the Great Hall that something made her freeze. She heard something, though she didn’t know what. Years of secret training with Harry and the remaining members of Dumbledore’s Army had made her quite adept at making her way around without being heard or noticed. So, silently, she moved closer, startled to see the last thing that would have ever come to mind.

Ginny had been expecting to see a Professor, the Headmaster, or, possibly, even a couple that were being carelessly loud after a rendezvous. So as she peered from the shadows at an unidentified someone as they stumbled through the front doors before falling against a wall, she was filled with shock. The person, whomever they were, seemed to be injured badly as they could barely move and used the wall for support.

She watched in a bit of horror as the person seemed to slide down the wall, a gasp of pain coming out of their mouth. She couldn’t stay in the shadows anymore, she needed to know whom this person was, and then she needed to get help. Carefully attempting not to startle whomever it was who was lying almost crumpled on the ground, she moved a few feet closer before a gasp of shock came from her mouth as she stared in complete surprise.

As awful and cruel as it may have been to think it, she couldn’t help thinking to herself for even the shortest moment that it was just her luck she would stumble across him at one o’clock in the morning and in need of serious medical attention. Shaking her head to rid her mind of such a thought, she moved closer to confirm her recognition.

But she really didn’t need anything confirmed. She knew it in her gut. She knew it from the way the light hit the bit of hair that seemed to peek out of the shadows. No, she didn’t really need any sort of confirmation, she already knew it was Draco Malfoy lying there completely helpless.

He must have felt her presence because it was at that moment that he looked up, a deep look of sorrow and agony in his eyes for a minute before it was replaced by an attempt at his usual cold look of loathing. “Come to find me and spread to the whole school that you saw a Malfoy at their weakest?” He had tried to get it out in one breath, sounding no worse for the wear but he had failed miserably. Several small gasps had made their way into his sneering question, though he seemed to ignore them.

Ginny was entirely unsure of what to do. She couldn’t leave him here, she just couldn’t - it wouldn’t be right no matter whom it was. She shook her head before hesitantly responding, “No, actually I-”

He struggled to take another quick and pained breath before snapping at her once again, cutting her off mid-sentence. “Just save it and leave me the hell alone weasel.” He leaned his head against the wall as he tried hard not to wince. She couldn’t see him like this. No one could see him like this.

Her eyes grew wide once more before narrowing at him. “I came to help, but if you don’t want it then fine. Lie here and die, see if I care.” That said, she turned on her heal, knowing in the back of her mind she would be stopping by the Hospital Wing to let Madam Pomfrey know he was down here and needed help.

Draco Malfoy merely rolled his eyes in his typical fashion before starting to push himself up. Another gasp flew through him as tears of pain threatened to spill before he fell back to the cold ground, unable to move. He looked to the side as he could still see Ginny Weasley’s outlined form slowly walking away. Closing his eyes, he did the hardest thing in the world for him to do. He swallowed his pride as he called her back, his voice breaking in his words. “No, wait…”
To Be Continued.
CharmedLife19 is the author of 6 other stories.
PixieDust86 is the author of 0 other stories.

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