And when the sun descended and the night arose
I heard my father cursing everyone he knows
He was dangerous and drunk and defeated
And corroded by failure and envy and hate
There were endless winters and the dreams would freeze
Nowhere to hide and no leaves on the trees
And my father's eyes were blank as he hit me again and again and again
I know I still believe he'd never let me leave
I had to run away alone
So many threats and fears - so many wasted years
Before my life became my own
And though the nightmares should be over
Now some of the terrors are still intact
I'll hear that ugly coarse and violent voice
And then he grabs me from behind and then he pulls me back
-Objects in the Rearview Mirror by Meat Loaf
Ginny stared at the dungeon wall, counting out the individual gray stones. Snape’s monotonous voice droned on in the background, doing nothing to prevent the inevitable sleep that would soon overcome her. She shivered once, twice, wishing she had thought to bring a heavier cloak to these dreary dungeons, but knowing she was already overdressed enough to begin with, at least compared to the other students at Hogwarts. She wondered why she felt so cold more often, even when she was sitting outside in the heat of the sun yesterday at Care of Magical creatures. It was as if the rays could not pierce through her skin to warm her, no matter how long she sat there.
Ginny jumped slightly. She had dozed off, just for a moment, and her eyes had closed. She blinked them and tried to shake her head without drawing too much attention to herself. At least she had gotten a seat in the back of class this time. Snape wrote something on the board and Ginny copied it down, her hand feeling sluggish and her eyes going in and out of focus.
She hadn’t slept again last night. It seemed the insomnia had not been temporary—now it prevented her sleeping every night. She felt she should go to the nurse and ask for a draught, but she didn’t want to have to answer any of her prying questions, nor did she want the woman to tell her parents. It had been difficult enough just to convince them to let her go back to Hogwarts, to have some semblance of normalcy in her life. So instead she spent most of the night lying in bed trying to fall asleep and jumping at every sound, and most of the day trying not to doze off. You would think all of those hours spent awake would give her plenty of time to do homework, but she was practically incapacitated with tiredness.
There was a loud snapping noise, the feeling of air whipping past her face, and the sound of Snape’s voice yelling, “Miss Weasley!” Ginny jumped up, confused and half-awake, and stared at her desk. A ruler had just slammed down onto it precariously near her face, barely missing her nose. She blinked wearily and glanced around her at the room full of her fellow Sixth Year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, all who were staring at her. Snape was leering, clearly enjoying catching her sleeping. “Twenty points from Gryffindor, Miss Weasley. Perhaps you can spare yourself a detention as well if you answer the question.”
She swallowed the bad taste in her mouth, whether it was from having just woken up or from being woken by Snape’s ugly face, and whispered, “What was the question, Professor?”
He glared and whipped his ruler around, pointing it at the chalkboard where there were directions for brewing some or other potion. “What is the main ingredient of the Polyjuice Potion?”
Why was it that everything he said always sounded like a yell? The board swam before her, the words going in and out of focus, but they were of no help. She knew she had heard of this before, Hermione had been talking about it, but for the life of her she couldn’t remember with her fuzzy, tired brain. “Well, Miss Weasley?” he demanded.
Why was he so inquisitorial? What did he want from her? She clearly didn’t know the answer, so did he have to put the spotlight on her and let everyone see her shame and humiliation? He was almost as bad as the Ministry officials they had sent to question her.
“Hello, Miss Weasley. I’m Alicia Barnes. I’m going to ask a few questions about your rapists so we can find them and put them in Azkaban.” She flinched at the word ‘rapist’ and didn’t turn her face to look at the woman from where she stared out her bedroom window. The woman sat on a chair by her bedside, quill and parchment in hand. “Can you tell me what happened that night?”
Ginny was silent for a long time. The woman waited patiently, as if she expected this to happen. “They…attacked me.”
“What were you doing at the moment?”
“Delivering a box of goods from my brother’s store.”
“And where were you?”
Wasn’t it obvious? “Knockturn Alley.”
“Mhmm. Now, did the men say anything to you? Try to get you to talk to them?” She nodded. “What did they say?”
“I don’t remember exactly. They were drunk and I just wanted to leave.”
“And did they attack you right then and there?”
“No…they followed me, then they started…chasing me…” Ginny found her throat closing up. She didn’t want to do this, didn’t want to talk anymore. She curled into a ball, hiding her face in her knees and rocking slightly. She closed her eyes, blocking out the sight of her bedroom, but that only made her memories clearer.
“Do you think anybody saw them chasing you?” She shrugged. “Was the alley you were found in where they raped you?” Obviously. Ginny gave a small nod. “Can you tell me what happened?”
What happened? They…they raped her. They forced themselves onto her, into her, sometimes taking turns and sometimes two of them sharing her at once. They beat her until she passed out, then woke her up and did it again. Did she want all of the sick details? Every second of every minute as it went on for hours and hours, feeling as if it would never end? She realized she was sobbing openly now because she couldn’t breath, the snot was getting in her hair and on her clothes, the tears were making her face all wet, and when she tried to breath in it came in short, shaky gasps.
There was a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Ginny. Take your time. I’m here to help-”
“Stop it! Don’t touch me!” She pushed the woman away, half-jumping, half-falling out of the bed onto the floor where she curled up in a corner, her back to the wall, her hands raised to defend herself like she was being attacked.
The woman approached slowly. “I’m not going to hurt you, I promise.” Ginny shook her head, curling into herself and refusing to speak for the rest of the day. The woman had to come back again the next day to get the descriptions of her attackers, and after that her mother refused to let anyone else speak to her, yelling at the reporters outside their house to leave.
Ginny realized she’d zoned out and that Snape and the rest of the class were staring at her expectantly. “I-I’m sorry, Professor, I don’t know the answer.” She thought she heard a Gryffindor groan in annoyance.
“No, I don’t suppose someone as dim-witted as you would. Another twenty points from Gryffindor and detention tonight.” Snape pointed his ruler at another student who promptly answered the question. It turned out it was written on the board. Oh, well.
The bell tolled, finally, its long, low gonging filling the school. Ginny gathered her things and followed the stream of teenagers out of the room, up the stairs, and down the corridors to the Great Hall for dinner. She found Ron and Hermione heading in her direction and followed behind them silently, thankful that Harry wasn’t there. It had been awkward around him ever since the incident where she went mental on him and started screaming her head off.
When they arrived at the Great Hall Harry had already saved seats for them, all four of them, something he had never done years previous. Before at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, and Hermione avoided sitting with her at all cost, usually scheming up some plot or other. They didn’t want her around because she was a year younger than them and too “immature.”
Ever since school had started a few weeks ago, though, they always made sure she sat next to them and that nobody bothered her. Ginny wasn’t sure if she should find it a nice gesture or just an annoying one: on the one hand it gave her a place to sit so she didn’t have to stand in the room searching for a seat by herself, on the other hand she was tired of them being so over-protective since the incident. Hermione was always watching her worriedly, asking her if there was anything she could get her. Ron practically bit anyone’s head off that so much as glanced at her. And Harry…Harry was either awkwardly tip-toeing around her or trying to play hero if someone tried to her hurt her.
Ginny didn’t eat much, despite Hermione always trying to feed her, a concerned look on the girl’s face. Usually she sat through dinner picking at her food or stirring it around so it looked like she had eaten while she listened to the conversations around her. Like Ron and Hermione’s conversations, which always ended up in arguing. What a strange way they flirted.
“Hermione, I have a big zit on my forehead!” Ron complained, pointing to it.
Hermione rolled her eyes to Ginny and fished in her purse, pulling out a small bottle. She tossed it to Ron.
“What’s this, ’Mione?” he asked, holding it up to the light.
“It’s a zit removing cream, Ron. See where it says on the bottle ‘Zit Removing Cream.’”
“Oh right…Well, why do you have it? You haven’t got any zits, ’Mione.”
“That’s because I use it, Ronald.”
Ginny stood suddenly, staring at the table where her hands were clenched. Ron, Hermione, and Harry all glanced up in unison. “Are you okay, Ginny?”
She glanced at them, suddenly sick of their bickering, of their tip-toeing, of their protectiveness. She felt sick and claustrophobic with all of these people around her; she had to get out, had to escape, had to get some fresh air. Ginny turned quickly and ran to the door, dashing out it. She knew one or all three of them would follow behind her worriedly so she didn’t stop running until she was out of breath and exhausted. She collapsed against a wall panting for breath and laying her head on the cool stone. Ginny suddenly wanted to end it all, all of the pain, all of the semblance of normality, all of the exhaustion and disgust she constantly felt. Ginny let her legs give out from under her body and slipped down the wall until she sat on the floor, her head between her knees, trying to block out the world around her.
The first two weeks were hell for Draco. He knew he couldn’t stay in his Common Room. His fellow Slytherins wouldn’t kill him, they didn’t have the nerve, but if they got a hold of him they would do everything but. He spent a few nights in the Room of Requirement until, one day, walking there after dinner he found the Golden Trio had set up camp, claiming the room as theirs. He waited until they were gone, wondering what they were doing in there until one in the morning, and then paced in front of the door three times, gathered his things, and left. He spent a few nights outside by the greenhouses where no one could find him, then one night in the old astronomy tower, all the while moving his clothes, books, and school supplies around with him.
Finally, he found it. The perfect spot. It was an old abandoned classroom that hadn’t been used in years. In the back of the room a door led to an old teacher’s lounge where the professor could relax between classes. There was a ratty, long-abandoned couch against one wall and a desk against the other. The couch was lumpy and too uncomfortable to sleep on but in the middle of the night he went back to the Room of Requirement looking for a bed. It turned out there was more than one extra bed stored there and while he couldn’t take the entire bed frame with him, he did shrink the mattress and take that back with him to his room. He found some extra bed sheets and blankets on it that he sent to the wash with his clothes the next day and was happy to discover the house elves had delivered to his new room without question.
Unfortunately, having a new place to sleep didn’t mean he escaped his House or any of his fellow students. He had every class with them and every corner he turned they were there, glaring at him threateningly and waiting until they could get him alone. He had to sit with them at dinner—it was that or not eat—no one was exactly planning on letting him sit at another table. He had to avoid them at night during their patrol, he had to hide his bedroom from their awareness by making plenty of confusing turns and taking random staircases until he lost them. He knew, once they got a hold of him, he was a gonner, and so he had been extra careful for the past two weeks not to be alone with the Slytherins at any one point, especially those he knew were Death Eaters.
But when he saw Ginny Weasley stand up and run out of the Great Hall alone, he didn’t think twice before he followed her, being careful to keep his pace even so her brother and friends didn’t think he was stalking her. He hadn’t considered that as soon as the doors closed behind him a gang of Slytherins would stand, stretching and claiming they were done eating, and go out right after him.
He followed the sound of her running footsteps until they stopped. Draco heard heavy breathing just around the corner, she must have gotten too tired to keep running, and he walked towards it, almost rounding the bend before he heard a voice behind him. “Well, well. Look who’s all alone in the halls by himself. This is the first time I’ve seen Draco Malfoy without a crowd of people around him. It would almost seem as if he were avoiding us. What do you guys think?”
Draco turned slowly, his heart in his throat, his mind on Ginny just around the corner. Please don’t come out. The Slytherins wouldn’t spare his beating just because she was there…more likely they would try to include her in the fun. He didn’t want her getting dragged into this. Thankfully, he didn’t hear any stirring behind him. Draco scanned the group. Blaise Zabini, Theodore Nott, Pansy Parkinson, and Daphne Greengrass. It seemed Crabbe and Goyle had both been too busy eating to bother.
His hand slowly moved towards his pocket as he asked, stalling for time, “What do you want?”
“Oh, you know what we want, Malfoy.” Zabini stepped forward, fingering his wand. “We haven’t seen you in months. We just wanted to get reacquainted.”
In a flash his wand was out, disarming Draco before he could grab his own. He glared at the boy. “Sorry if I haven’t exactly been social lately. You see, I’m trying this new thing where I don’t associate myself with rapists and murderers.”
Zabini grinned. “But why? You are, after all, one of us.” He stepped forward, his wand at Draco’s throat. “Even if you refuse the Mark now. Sooner or later daddy dearest will catch up to you.”
Draco growled low in his throat and swung a punch at the boy. Before it could hit him he felt himself being lifted off the ground by two large bodies. It would seem Crabbe and Goyle were here after all, but how they got behind him without his noticing. He didn’t bother to struggle against them, it was no use anyway, they were more than twice his size and besides, if he just took it like a man then they would lose their fun and leave him.
Zabini glared at him. “You’re really gonna regret that, Malfoy.” A fist came flying at Draco’s face, hitting him square in the nose and breaking it. He bit his teeth down to avoid screaming in pain. He had had much worse from his father. They would get nothing out of him.
A hand grabbed his hair and lifted his head. “Aww, poor baby. Did he break your little nosey?” It was Pansy Parkinson. She smiled at him cruelly as she brushed the hair out of his face. “You know, it’s really a shame he’s going to ruin that pretty face of yours. You’re so cute.”
“No need to worry, Parkinson, I’ll still be prettier than you. Your face makes me hurl.” He knew his words cut her like a whip, she had had a crush on him since First Year, even when he showed no interest. The girl glared and slapped him, the sound echoing throughout the hallway. He thought he heard a gasp in Ginny’s direction, but nobody seemed to notice. “You ass,” she retorted. He spit at her, blood landing on her cheek. Her eyes burned in anger and she kicked upwards, her foot landing in his groin and making him keel over in pain.
“Ouch, Pans. You’re making me flinch.” Blaise wrapped an arm around Pansy, his chin resting on her shoulder as he watched Draco try to straighten up.
“I was just giving him a little gift…from Lucius. He misses his little boy.” She laughed at Draco’s angry reaction. “I think I’ve found what makes him tick.”
Zabini grinned. “Ahh, I almost forgot. Voldemort wanted me to give you something as well. For leaving the night before your induction.” He pulled out his wand and glanced at the ceiling, as if in deep contemplation. “Which spell shall I use? A good old Cruciatus? Or something a little more creative?”
“We don’t want him to scream.” A female voice chipped in from somewhere outside Draco’s view. That must have been Daphne Greengrass. “The professors might catch us.”
Zabini grinned. “Don’t worry, he won’t scream. He’s too proud to.” He lifted his wand and Draco braced himself. “Crucio!”
Compared to his father’s Cruciatus Curse, Blaise Zabini’s was pathetically weak. Draco lifted his head, and, despite the ringing in his ears and the pain making his muscles tense, grinned at him. “Is that the…best you got?” He choked out between painful breaths.
Zabini lowered his wand, breaking off the spell. He glared angrily and Draco knew he shouldn’t have pushed the boy to do worse. But before he could do anything Nott’s voice was whispering loudly, “I heard a noise, guys! There’s a professor coming!”
“Shit.” Zabini cursed. He put his wand away as Crabbe and Goyle dropped Draco to the floor. He caught himself so his head didn’t hit the stone but didn’t bother to stand. “Let’s go. You’ll tell no one of this, Malfoy, unless you want the entire school to find out about daddy’s idea of discipline.”
Draco waited until their footsteps had disappeared down the hall before he forced himself to his feet. His wand lay on the floor and he leaned over, picking it up, when he heard a noise behind him. Draco whirled around in a flurry of robes, wand raised, ready to kill the next person he saw.
It was Ginny Weasley. She stared at him wide-eyed, fearful, her body pressed against the wall behind her like she could sink into it and disappear. He lowered his wand from her neck and put it in his pocket but she still didn’t relax. Finally Draco, fighting against every nerve in his body, took a step away from her, then another. “Sorry…you surprised me.”
After a few minutes of literally shaking she relaxed ever so slightly. “I…I didn’t mean to…to eavesdrop.” She was staring at him oddly, as if she had just noticed him for the first time, as if she were just now seeing him. “Is…is all that stuff they said true?”
He ran his hand through his hair with a sigh. There was no point in pretending she hadn’t heard everything that had happened. He tried to recall the conversation they had had. Him skipping his induction and his father’s beatings had both come up, the latter more than once. He leaned against the wall opposite her, one foot on the floor and one against the wall, hands in his pockets. “Yeah. It’s all true.” His voice came out nasally through his bleeding nose.
“Oh…” She didn’t press him to continue, nor did she leave. Just stood there awkwardly, watching him in that odd way of hers, where she never quite looked at him, but more over his shoulder, glancing at his face every now and then before looking away again shyly. An awkward silence filled the hallway.
“Listen, about what you heard. I’d prefer if you didn’t repeat it to anyone, okay? It’s not really something I want to get around the whole school.” She nodded and it dawned on him just how unfair that proposal was. The entire school, hell, all of wizarding London, knew about what had happened to her. It was completely unreasonable of him to ask her to keep his secret.
He expected her to leave after that, but she didn’t budge. He saw the question in her eyes but knew she wouldn’t ask if he pressed her. Draco waited patiently, trying not to shift too much for fear she, like a wild animal, would bolt at any sudden movement. “Malfoy?”
“Yeah?” He tried to make his unsteady voice come out even. He didn’t want her to realize how intently he had been staring at her face, trying to read her emotions, trying to imagine what it would feel like to kiss her lips. The latter was much easier than the former.
“Does that mean…you’re not…” She didn’t go on. It seemed she couldn’t.
At first he was confused, but then he understood what it was she was asking. “A Death Eater?” She nodded silently and stared at the floor. He knew just telling her wouldn’t convince her. Draco rolled up both his sleeves to his elbow and touched his finger to her chin, lifting it. She flinched at the contact but didn’t relapse back into her fearful, quiet shell as he was afraid she would. She was too engrossed in his arms.
Besides the faint white scars from his father’s beatings, both were covered in unbroken, smooth pale skin. There was no tattoo.