How do you tell your father
That you want him to notice you
Why does this seem like such a bother
When mom says you'd be better off dead
But I want to see you
I still want to see you
Oh would you call me
Oh it's not hard too
I'm the first one
Oh you gave birth to
And oh would you write me
On my birthday
Graduation was yesterday
-Angel by Blue October
It didn’t take Draco long to make his decision. The longer they waited, the longer the men who had raped Ginny were roaming free to hurt other women or to come after her again. It was almost winter break and she would be returning to her parents soon. It would be the opportune time to take Blaise Zabini, Gregory Goyle, and Vincent Crabbe to court. But without solid evidence, and not knowing whom the other rapist was, they would never have a solid case.
Draco knew what he had to do. He had to sneak back into Malfoy Manor, a place he had hoped never to see again in his lifetime. He had thought, when he’d run away that summer, that he had left Lucius’s home and his prison behind him, but it was inevitable that he must return. Draco knew Lucius, and he knew that he would keep records of every Death Eater somewhere in his office. If he could just find those records and show that Goyle, Crabbe, and Zabini were on them, he would have proof that they were Death Eaters. And if he was lucky, he might even discover who their leader was.
Ginny was adamant about him not going. She tried relentlessly to talk him out of it, fearing for his life if he were caught by Lucius. She begged and pleaded with him not to go there, but he merely shook his head and held her close.
“Ginny,” Draco whispered in her ear. “Don’t you want to see the men who hurt you punished?”
His girlfriend lifted her sad face up to look at him. Draco smoothed the creases in her forehead. “Of course I do, but I don’t want you to get hurt because of me. I couldn’t possibly live with myself if you did.”
“He won’t catch me. He won’t even know I was there,” Draco assured her for what must have been the hundredth time. He cupped her face in his hands and leaned down to plant a kiss on her lips.
She turned her face away from him and went to the window, her arms wrapped around her body from the winter’s chill. “No. I won’t kiss you if that’s what you need to leave me.”
Draco slumped against the wall with a sigh, running his hands through his hair. “Did anyone ever tell you how stubborn you are?”
Ginny turned to him with a confused look. “Why do you say that?”
“Because I always have to steal my kisses from you.”
She gave him a look that showed she obviously didn’t think he was funny. “This is no time to joke around, Draco. For all I know, you’re leaving me to go to your death.”
“How many times do I have to assure you I will come back?” Draco smiled, pushing away from the wall and wrapping his arms around her. He touched her lips lightly. “After all, you owe me a kiss now. I’m going to come back for it.”
“And if you don’t?” she asked.
Draco rolled his eyes. “If I’m not back by dawn, alert the Headmistress and have her send a whole fleet of Aurors in to get me. There, are you happy now?”
Ginny nodded, though she still pouted. Draco leaned his forehead on hers for a moment, then turned away, grabbing his cloak and disappearing out the door. He quickly made his way outside and to the edge of the Forbidden Forest where the wards on Hogwarts ended and he could apparate away. He arrived at the edge of Malfoy Manor, just outside the wrought iron gate, his nerves on end. The boy could see lights on inside some of the rooms, which meant either Lucius or Narcissa were home, or both. Fresh snow was falling, which was good because it would cover his tracks by morning.
Draco undid the wards on the gate and pushed it open slowly. He cautiously made his way up to the Manor at a crouch, pulling out his broom and unshrinking it. His father’s office was on the third floor in the East Wing. Draco flew up to it, again undoing the traps and alarms, and made his way into the large office. The embers were still red in the fireplace, so his father had been in there at least a few hours ago, but it didn’t appear he would return. Books of Dark Magic lined the walls, many of them more for decoration than for actual reading. His father’s desk sat against one of the walls, clear of any mess except for a candle, feather, and inkwell. Besides a few sofas scattered throughout the room, none of which had probably ever been sat on, it was fairly empty.
Draco made his way to the desk, unlocking the top drawer and rummaging through it. He lit the candle and groped through the papers, most of which were orders from Voldemort or financial records. Draco moved on to the second drawer, again finding nothing, though he did pocket a few hundred galleons his father had hidden in there. Draco was looking through the third of the six drawers when something heavy slammed into his head, sending him sprawling.
He was both blind and deaf for what felt like minutes as panic began to sink in. His hearing returned before his vision did, and he listened blindly to his father talking. “Draco, Draco, Draco,” Lucius drawled, “What a disappointment. I thought I’d taught you better. You slipped past the wards on the grounds and the house, but you forgot about the ones on my desk. Surely you knew I would lock up my most prized possessions.” Draco tried to blink, tried to see, but still he was in darkness. How hard had his father hit him? “I do wonder, though, what were you doing rummaging through my desk? What did you hope to find?” Draco felt himself lifted off of the ground by his shirt. “Well?” He pulled his lips up in what he hoped was a grin and spit out blood, hoping it landed on his father’s immaculate clothes. “No matter then,” he heard the calculated anger in Lucius’s voice. “I will beat it out of you.”
Without his vision, Draco’s other senses were heightened, and he could feel the painful blow of his father’s cane with even more intensity than he ever had before. He tried to raise up onto his hands and knees and another strike sent him back to the ground. Draco curled in a ball and braced himself as blow after blow wracked his body. The teenager had long ago lost track of time, it was probably only minutes that he lay there as his father beat him, but it felt as if hours had passed. Slowly his vision returned to him, and when he could finally see again his father was grabbing and lifting him off of the ground once more.
The man’s face was menacing in the flickering candle light. His grin looked like that of a skull’s, the shadows playing gruesome tricks in Draco’s eyes. Draco noticed the blood dripping off of his cane, and hoped nothing was broken. There was so much pain throbbing through his body he couldn’t mentally pick out what was injured and what wasn’t. Ironically, the only thing he could think was that Ginny was going to kill him now.
“Do not think I will let you leave now boy,” Lucius spat.
His voice came out strained. “Do not think you can make me stay.”
Lucius flung Draco to the ground with a twist of his wrist, and he barely managed to avoid hitting his head on the fireplace. Draco’s hand landed in the hot coals, but he did not scream. Biting his lip, he grabbed a fistful in his hand, trying to ignore the feel of his skin burning and blistering. As his father moved to bring the cane down once more, Draco rolled out of the way, throwing the coals blindly. He thanked Merlin when the embers landed in Lucius’s eyes, making him scream and fall backwards.
Draco had to move fast. The man was already getting up, and now he was livid. If he didn’t manage to escape now, Lucius would surely beat him to death. The boy grabbed the first thing he saw, the fireplace poker, and forced himself to his feet, ignoring the screaming protest from his muscles. He stabbed his father in the calf, then, in one swift movement, swung the metal rod across the man’s temples. His father fell to the ground unconscious, and though Draco wanted to beat him senseless, wanted to kill him then and there, he knew he couldn’t stay conscious for much longer. He was sure Lucius had given him a concussion, and he had to get back to Ginny. Forgetting all about his original intentions, Draco remembered only to grab his wand and broom before he collapsed out of the window. He nearly plummeted to the ground, barely managing to right his broom and swoop low over the grass, nearly falling off multiple times. He hardly remembered the trip back to Hogwarts, only that he kept picturing Ginny’s anxious face in his mind and hearing her voice calling out to him.
Ginny had been so worried she had exhausted herself, and a few minutes after Draco left she fell asleep in the window sill, staring out over the grounds where she had watched him apparate away. She nearly fell out of the window, startling herself awake, when she heard the door rattling. Ginny stood, staring over at the clock on the wall as she ran into the classroom. He had been gone nearly two hours, but she was just happy he was back safe and sound.
She opened the door and was shocked when a heavy mass fell on her, almost knocking her to the floor. Ginny lifted Draco’s dead weight in her arms and stared in horror at his face. It was black and blue and red, marred by cuts and bruises. The rest of his body was equally as broken, and she didn’t miss how matted and sticky his hair was on the side of his head. Draco blinked slowly, staring up at her face and lifting a hand to touch it. She flinched away from it when she saw that it was blistered and burned. His bloody lips pulled up in a smile. “I…told you I’d come back.”
She shook her head, heaving him to his feet. Together they made their way into their room, Ginny sitting him down gently on the sofa, noting how many times he winced and groaned in pain. “Draco…what the bloody hell happened to you?”
He sighed, laying his head back on the sofa and letting his eyes slip shut. She had to shake him to keep him awake. “My father. Caught me…Beat me. I’m sorry, Ginny. I failed you. I…”
“I don’t care about that. I care about you. You’re in a really bad shape, Draco. Let me go get the nurse.”
He grabbed her hand with surprising strength, stopping her. “No!” Draco’s voice was firmer and more conscious now. “No. She’ll ask questions.”
“Well, I have to get you some help.”
He shook his head. “I’ll be fine. I can heal most of the cuts. Just not tonight. I’m too tired.”
“Draco, you’re in a lot of pain. At least let me go get Snape.”
He laughed, though it ended in a fit of painful coughs. “Do you even know where Snape’s rooms are?”
The girl shook her head. “No, but—”
Her boyfriend put a finger on her lips. “Go over to the desk. The bottom left hand drawer. There are a bunch of potions. Get anything for pain that you can find. Also get the bruise balm and the healing salve.” Ginny did as she was told, handing Draco the pain potions. After he drank them he seemed more awake and alert, which was good. “Do you know any healing spells?” She shook her head. “Alright. Just help me get my shirt off.”
Ginny did, wincing when she saw the multitude of cuts and bruises on his chest. His ribs were blue and purple, and his back didn’t look much better. She placed a finger on a long, thin, but deep cut that ran across his chest, closing her eyes. For a moment Ginny swayed back and forth on her heels, caught in a memory, but Draco’s voice suddenly cut into her thoughts, startling her.
“I almost killed him,” he whispered. She opened her eyes, giving him a quizzical glance. He wasn’t looking at her, but rather through her. Seeing something she couldn’t. “I knocked him out with the fireplace poker. He was completely helpless. I stood over him, holding it like a sword, and I contemplated killing him, right then and there. Just ramming it straight through his heart and ending it all.”
“What do I do about the cuts?” she whispered, for lack of anything better to say. “I can’t heal these.”
Draco nodded to a tube of something in the pile of healing potions and balms. “If you don’t mind getting blood on your fingers. Put a little of that on your finger and run it across the cut and it’ll seal up.”
“It won’t clean it up though. What do I do about all the blood?”
He shrugged. “I usually just wash it off in the shower the next chance I get.” He noticed her grimace and chuckled, though it caused him to wince. “Not as vain as I used to be, huh? If you really care that much. Aguamenti.” He pointed his wand at an empty bowl she had eaten her dinner out of earlier that evening. A jet of water left his wand, filling it up. “There should be some washcloths over with my toiletries.”
Ginny occupied herself with washing all of the cuts and sealing them up. She tried to be as gentle as she could, but some of them were pretty nasty, and he hissed in pain and grabbed her hand to stop her on more than one occasion. Draco broke the silence again with his musings. “I didn’t always used to hate him so much. I actually used to love him once upon a time. I idolized, almost worshipped him.” He shook his head with a sigh. “I was so young and naive and my father…he was so strong and powerful and sophisticated. He was everything I wanted to be when I reached his age. Attractive, rich, arrogant, powerful, respected. I copied everything he did like a clone.” The blonde boy laid his head back, staring up at the ceiling. “That’s why I always acted so rude and conceited around you and your family. I looked down on you because my father did. Because, according to him, you were the opposite of everything I wanted to be. But I never realized how wrong I was.”
“Turn around,” Ginny murmured. Although she listened to everything Draco said, she felt as if she heard it through a thick blanket of wool. She was in a trance tracing the cuts on his skin with her finger, mesmerized by the way they magically mended themselves shut. The salve she put on his cuts left the faintest red line that would heal in a few weeks, not like her own deep white scars, which would never disappear. Draco gave her his back to begin healing.
“I never realized that our relationship was just as shallow as my father was. He never loved me. I was his firstborn son, his only child, but he saw me only as a tool. He used me just like he uses everything and everyone. I was to be his heir and the Dark Lord’s most prized asset. He began teaching me, before I could even walk, how to be a Death Eater. It was my destiny from birth.
“I always strived to please him in everything I did. I tried to fulfill the destiny given to me, tried to be his heir, tried to win his affection and love by doing everything that he asked of me without question, and even enjoying it. I reveled in the idea of being a Death Eater and Voldemort’s right hand man when my father passed. I wanted nothing more of my life. It was my highest goal. I’m not exactly sure when that all changed. I can’t place my finger on any one single moment. I just began to feel, as the years passed…uneasy. A sense of foreboding. And a rebellion in me. I didn’t want to be like my father any longer, though I wasn’t sure why. I certainly didn’t want to be a Harry Potter or anything, though I did wish for his fame and adoration. I just wanted…more. More than the life that had been served to me on a silver platter from birth.
“And that was when I realized, when I tried to defy my destiny, just how paper thin my relationship with my father was. How it could change in an instant. I went from his project, his clone in the making, to his enemy. He lashed out at me. He beat me relentlessly. I still found myself trying to please him, but now it was out of fear, not admiration. And any slightest mistake I made was a reason for him to attack. Soon, despite my fear, I grew to hate him and resent my birthright. And it finally all snapped when I discovered they had set a date for my induction without telling me. So I ran away. I don’t think I could have survived though if it hadn’t been for…”
Ginny finally pulled her eyes away from the smooth skin of his back long enough to look up at his face. She had long since finished healing him and for a while now had simply been staring at his skin, tracing patterns with her fingertips, and listening to his story. When she looked up, though, she realized he was staring at her.
“You,” he whispered, touching her face. “You helped me survive after I ran away.”
“Me?” Ginny whispered.
Draco stood, going to his desk and pulling open the drawer. He rummaged around in it for a few minutes before pulling out some parchment. As he brought it closer, she realized it was a newspaper clipping, or two rather. Draco placed it before her and Ginny stared in shock. One was a picture of her when she was fourteen years old. She couldn’t remember when or where the photo was taken, but she was happy and vibrant and healthy, grinning from ear to ear. Freckles were scattered across her nose, her eyes were bright and cheerful, her smile was innocent and naïve. The other picture she did remember taking. Rita Skeeter had insisted on having a picture for her interview and Ginny had let her take one, just a single one, in her tent that night. The contrast was so sharp between the two, if it hadn’t been her own self she would think they were two different people. Her eyes were dark and haunted and shadowed, her skin pallid, despite the fact that it was summer, her cheeks sunken, and she hid behind her hair like a shield. Ginny stared between the two pictures for a long time before Draco finally spoke.
“I had been planning on running away all summer. After my father tried to make me kill Dumbledore, and Snape and I escaped…I didn’t want to go back home, but it was my father’s money that saved me from a lifetime in Azkaban and got me back into Hogwarts, and I had no choice but to go back to the manor with him. He beat me relentlessly this summer for my failure and for running away from him. I planned and I planned, picturing every detail of my runaway. But I never acted. And then…then I found out about the induction. I had no choice but to flee.” He sat down beside Ginny on the couch, holding his hands in hers. “But I never really planned for the aftermath. For what I would do once I escaped. I had nowhere to go and no friends and no ties to the world, and for a while I just gave up hope. But then I found out about your rape, just days before I had run away, and I know I’d done the right thing in leaving. I didn’t want to be a rapist or a murderer.”
Draco touched the pictures lightly. “It was purely chance that I saw you in the hospital that night. Do you remember?” She nodded. Of course she did. “But from that instant that I laid eyes on you…I don’t want to scare you Ginny, but…I became obsessed with you. With what happened to you. I felt so guilty, even though I knew it wasn’t my fault. Guilty for even being associated with the Death Eaters. Guilty for ever having wanted to be one. And I felt such hatred for them, even though I knew there was nothing I could do about it. And I just…became infatuated. I searched every newspaper for more information about you. I read all the articles, even Rita Skeeter’s crap, and cut out these pictures of you. Stupid, huh? You must really think I’m a creep.”
Ginny touched his face lightly. While something like this might have scared her before, for some reason it didn’t anymore. Perhaps she had suspected it all along. Perhaps she had always known he’d had feelings for her. She just had to accept her own for him before she could ever be comfortable with such sincere but frightening honesty. “It wasn’t all chance, was it Draco?”
He shook his head, smiling. “No. Your detention wasn’t, that’s for sure. I had Snape set it up so I’d watch you. And neither was our meeting in the hallway when you discovered I wasn’t a Death Eater. I was following you when I saw you run out of the Great Hall. The meeting on the train was chance, though, truly. But, I admit, most of the other stuff…I wasn’t always doing the most honorable thing when I confronted you.”
“Like what?” she asked.
He licked his lips nervously, a blush forming on his cheeks. “When you tried to drown yourself in the bath. I’d…I’d been watching you. For a long time.”
Ginny found herself blushing as well. “Oh.” She’d wondered at that very possibility, but had put it out of her mind.
“And…” He suddenly became very interested in the sight of their hands intertwined. “I might have…invaded your thoughts once or twice.”
She gave him a skeptical look. “What?”
He swallowed hard. “I looked in on your dreams one night when you were having a nightmare. It was…frightening. And horrible. I nearly threw up. And I…I used Imperius on you and commanded you to stop having a nightmare. I didn’t have any dreamless sleeping draughts on hand.”
“You used an Unforgiveable on me?” she hissed.
“Well, when you say it like that it sounds a lot worse.” Draco tried to joke.
“Why are you telling me all of this now?” Ginny asked.
He sighed. “I’m not really sure. I suppose I was in the process of spilling all and it just…kind of came out. Wish I’d kept my bloody mouth shut now though.”
Ginny shook her head, rolling her eyes. “I should be mad at you. I should be pissed in fact.”
“No, you should be running screaming from the room if you were sane.”
Ginny laid her head on his shoulder, yawning tiredly. “For some reason, though, I’m really not surprised. Neither am I all that upset about it. I suppose everything about our relationship seemed a little bit too…”
She nodded. “And honestly, if you hadn’t put so much effort in, if you hadn’t kept relentlessly pursuing me—”
“More like stalking—”
“I would still be like her,” Ginny pointed to the recent picture of herself. “I’d like to think I’ve come a ways since then.”
He nodded. “A long way.”
“So, I suppose I should say thank you.” Ginny smiled to herself. “Oh yeah. I owe you a kiss.” She leaned forward, planting one on his lips. They kissed for a long time before they broke apart. “But one thing, Draco.”
“Yeah?” he asked.
“No more peeking into my head, please? And no more casting Unforgiveables on me either.”
He nodded. “Can do.”
Ginny took his marred hand in her own. “Now, let’s do something about those burns.”
He smiled and winced. “Oh, I forgot to mention, I might also have a concussion.”