Heaven don't want me
Heaven don't fool me
No one will understand
And it's alright
I'm feelin' these changes
Everybody is strangers
No one will lend a hand
And I guess that's life...
You say, it don't matter
You're livin' life, and livin' long
And you hear the phony laughter
Echoing on and on
You’re hiding under water
I pray to God, wash me away
Can't hear the child's wonder
The innocence got hushed, along the way
-Hiding Under Water by Beth Hart
Ginny was in Herbology listening to the lecture when she was sent to the Headmistress’s office. She went obligingly, both happy to escape the classroom and dreading what McGonagall had to say to her. She followed the prefect to the Headmistress’s office, where the girl gave the password and left her to ascend the spiral staircase alone. Ginny’s hands were sweating by the time she reached the top and stepped into the office.
She had been here only once before, in her first year, after Harry rescued her from the Chamber of Secrets. Needless to say, she didn’t have happy memories of the place. She sat down in the chair before the Headmistress’s desk, her eyes gazing at the painting of Dumbledore on the wall behind McGonagall. His twinkling eyes and bright smile gazed back at her, and he nodded, asking “How are you Miss Weasley?”
The familiar voice of a dead man seemed to startle McGonagall just as much as it did Ginny. A pained expression crossed the Headmistress’s face but was quickly checked. Ginny returned the nod. “I’m fine, Head-…umm…Dumbledore.”
McGonagall cleared her throat, drawing Ginny’s eyes back down to the woman before her. “Miss Weasley, perhaps you are wondering why I called you here today.”
Ginny nodded. “I hope I am not in trouble.”
“No, not yet, anyway. Tea, Miss Weasley?” Ginny shook her head at the offering. McGonagall sighed before beginning. “I have been informed of your…special circumstances,” the woman began, “and asked by your parents to be lenient with your grades this year due to the event that occurred this summer.” Ginny stared at the desktop to avoid her eyes. “However, I can only go so far, Miss Weasley. You must meet me half way.”
Without looking up, Ginny asked, “What do you mean, Headmistress?” though she already knew what the woman meant.
“Miss Weasley, it is a month into the school year and you are failing all of your classes. I have been informed by your teachers on more than one occasion that you are not turning in your assignments, that you are failing the exams, and that you are sleeping in class. Is all of this true?” Ginny nodded. “Miss Weasley, you are in your sixth year. You cannot afford to fall behind with your NEWTS next year.” Another silent nod. McGonagall sighed. “I am not going to punish you Miss Weasley, but I am going to ask that you get a tutor and that you do your assignments. As well as get a dreamless sleeping draught, if it is indeed nightmares keeping you awake. Do you need me to assign you a tutor and write permission for the draught?”
“No, Headmistress, I can get them myself.”
“Very well. I expect to see your grades improve within the next month, and if they don’t, I will be asking you to come back up to my office to chat with me. You are dismissed, you may return to class.”
Ginny didn’t go back to class. Now she wanted to be alone, and besides, it was almost over. Instead, she walked in the opposite direction of the greenhouses, heading towards the lake and the edge of the Forbidden Forest. She strolled slowly along the edge, her arms wrapped around herself against the windy autumn air, and stared up at the cloudy, bruised sky. She thought of nothing, or tried to at least, as she walked, and she soon became lost in the nature around her, the sad peacefulness of it, the waves lapping against the sandy dirt, the water choppy from the wind. She was so out of it that she didn’t even see the creature until it was just two meters from her.
Ginny stopped dead in her tracks, staring in wonder. A white horse, its skin as pure as snow, had its neck bent over to drink from the lake water. It glanced up at her with its bright silver eyes, twitching its elegant tail, before bending to drink again. She stared in awe at the long, pointed horn set on its forehead centered between its eyes.
A unicorn. Ginny had read about them in books and learned about them in Care of Magical Creatures, but never had she actually seen one in person. It was very rare for a wizard to see a unicorn, much less get this close to one. This unicorn was a female, judging from its smaller, slenderer build than its male counterparts and from its overly long horn. She wondered if it would let her pet it. Ginny stepped closer, and the flighty creature eyed her warily as it drank. Her hand reached out to stroke the silky white hair of its mane. It did not move, so she reached closer, until he hand was just above its head.
The creature reared back with a whinny, its legs lifting up in the air and narrowly missing her head. She had to fall back onto the earth to avoid being smacked by the unicorn’s flailing front legs, which she knew to be incredibly powerful. It turned from her then, dashing off into the forest so quickly that all she saw was a blur of white.
Ginny sat up on the earth, panting for breath as her racing heart slowed. She had narrowly missed being flogged to death by the unicorn’s hooves, and she wondered why it had acted as such. It had seemed so comfortable with her near, and yet, when she had almost petted it the creature went insane. It was odd: unicorns were usually incredibly docile animals. But then she remembered something else she had read in a book. “The unicorn prefers to befriend innocents. It tends to shy away from any human that is not pure of body, mind, and soul.” Ginny’s mind froze on those words. Yes, she was not a virgin, not anymore, but she still thought she was pure of mind and soul. Was she corrupted on the inside as well, not just her physical body? Had she been raped of all of her innocence?
Ginny’s body trembled and her eyes threatened to spill over, but she stood up, brushing the dirt off of her clothes. The bell’s long, low tolling echoed throughout the school, and she watched the teens pile out of their classes. They laughed and talked and flirted, none of them noticing her over by herself by the lake. She gazed after them longingly, their naivety, their ignorance. They had no idea how their lives could change in an instant. Had Ginny been like that once? She tried to remember the time when she was carefree, happy, innocent. She couldn’t imagine what it was like anymore.
Classes for the rest of the day passed by achingly slowly as she fought sleep in each one. She didn’t see Hermione again until dinner, and didn’t have a chance to speak with her alone until they sat in the Common Room that night. Hermione was sprawled on the couch reading a book, no surprise there, Harry and Ron were playing Chess, and Ginny was staring out the window at the rain, driven by the strong wind, pelting the stain glass, which was occasionally lit up by lightning. Finally, she ventured to speak. “Mione?”
“Yeah, Ginny?” the girl seemed surprised by being addressed so directly, when Ginny rarely spoke unless spoken to. But she hid her surprise well and answered steadily, “What’s wrong?”
Ginny didn’t turn her eyes away from the window. “Nothing.” That was a lie, but when someone asked what was wrong, or how you were feeling, or any question of the sort, did they really want an honest answer? Of course they didn’t: they wanted to hear that nothing was wrong, that you were fine, that life was perfect, even though you both knew full well that it wasn’t. “McGonagall called me to her office today.”
“Oh? What did she want?” Ginny noticed Harry and Ron listening in on the conversation; they weren’t very good eavesdroppers: their conversation ended and bodies unconsciously bended towards them as they strained their ears to hear.
“She said my grades were dropping.”
“Oh Ginny,” Hermione’s lecture voice suddenly appeared. “Have you been doing your work? You know you have to do well this year. Next year is your NEWTS. You can’t afford to mess those up…” Hermione continued berating Ginny, so the redhead ignored her words, her voice becoming white noise, and didn’t speak again until it was silent.
“She said I shouldn’t sleep in class.” Ginny took a deep breath, trying to work up the nerve to ask her friend for tutoring, but before she could open her mouth she was interrupted.
“Have you been sleeping well?” Hermione didn’t wait for her answer. “Why don’t you get a sleeping draught?”
Ginny shrugged. “It doesn’t help much. Sometimes it makes me feel more tired when I take it.”
Hermione contemplated. “What does help you to fall asleep?”
“Hot showers. But I can’t take those in the middle of the night without waking the other girls.”
Again, Hermione was quiet for awhile. Then she stood, walking over to Ginny and standing behind her. She put a hand on Ginny’s shoulder, making the girl flinch, and stared out the window over her head. Her voice was quieter, so quiet no one could overhear them, when she said, “I shouldn’t be telling you this because I could get in trouble and it is breaking the rules, so don’t tell anyone else.” Ginny nodded, curious now. “The prefects’ bathroom has a large bathtub and a lot of smaller ones, also some individual showers if you prefer. It’s just around the corner from here on two floors below. There’s a statue of Boris the Bewildered there. The password is ‘House Unity’, thought up by the professors, obviously.” She rolled her eyes. “Usually there’s nobody there after ten pm and it locks from the inside. I would be willing to overlook it if you snuck out of the Common Room after lights out to take a bath.”
Ginny nodded, thanking her. Hermione went back to her book and Ginny to staring out the window, both girls pretending as if the conversation hadn’t occurred. It was nine now. Ginny waited until the Common Room cleared out; it ended up being midnight before she could quietly sneak down the stairs to the prefects’ bathroom.
Ginny shoved open the heavy door, thankful that it didn’t squeak, and glanced around the room. The candles were still lit, illuminating the empty room for her. In the center of the bathroom was a huge tub, twenty times the size of one she had ever bathed in, with a diving board leading out into the center of it. Surrounding all sides where there weren’t stairs to get in it were taps, all of them covered in different colored jewels. Branching off of the room were more doors, some of them opened to reveal individual showers and smaller tubs, some the size of Muggle Jacuzzis. Ginny only knew about Jacuzzis because on one occurrence her father had to remove a Jacuzzi from a Muggle home because it was cursed that so whenever someone got in it the temperature changed of its own accordance from scalding hot to freezing cold, depending on whether or not it liked the Muggle sitting in it.
Ginny glanced around, seeing nobody was there, and went to the bathtub. Ignoring the mirrors on the far wall, she stripped off her pajamas, piling them in a corner, and stepped into the still-empty tub. In the center its walls rose above her head. Shivering from the cold air, Ginny turned on the nearest tap, staring in surprise at the square pink bubbles that poured out of it with the water, which was a perfect temperature without adjustment. She turned to the other taps, picking a random one and turning it on. This time, purple heart shaped bubbles were emitted, along with a smell of lilacs. Ginny moved around the giant tub as it filled, turning taps, watching the colors and smelling the smells. She let the hot water wash over her, rising up to her ankles, knees, thighs, stomach, until she could submerge herself completely if she walked out into the middle. All the while, she did not see the pair of eyes that watched her from a hidden, dark corner.
Draco was pulling on his pants when he heard someone come into the room. They didn’t speak and he ignored them, though he was curious as to whom was breaking the rules to come take a bath this late at night. His first guess was a horny couple, but when he didn’t hear any girlish giggles, panting, or the sound of flesh on flesh, he realized it must have been just one person. One very quiet person who didn’t seem to mind interrupting his late-night, solitary shower by turning on the taps and filling the room with the smell of flowers. He didn’t bother to put on his shirt, but instead stepped out of the private shower, intending to chew them out for bothering him.
Until he saw the familiar red hair, slight form, and pale skin, that was. He gasped, but the girl didn’t hear him over the sound of the water flowing out of the taps. Draco backed into the shadows, staring at the object of his obsession in wonder. He watched her move from tap to tap, turning on faucets, all with a look of wonder on her face at the multi-colored, shaped, and smelling bubbles that were emitted. And he watched her in wonder, watched the elegant yet equally awkward movements of her body, stared at the exposed pale flesh, of which, from his angle, he could see everything, gazed at the short hair that brushed her slender shoulders.
When she turned towards him he backed further into the shadow where the candles didn’t shine, and she didn’t notice him. He did notice her, quite a lot, as the water rose slowly, covering her body; he stared at her full, perky breasts, shapely legs, flat stomach. The perfect, angelic face and kissable lips.
He didn’t miss the multitude of scars that marred her body or the ribs, he could count each one, that stuck out of her skin as if they would break through at any moment. And he knew, in the back of his mind, that this was wrong, this spying. He knew he was being a disgusting, perverted peeping tom, and yet…yet, he couldn’t pull his eyes away from the broken goddess before him. In fact, he found it hard just to resist the urge to step into the bath with her, grab her shoulders, pull her body tight against his, and crash his lips onto hers. Draco felt his pants pull tight at the thought and he almost groaned in annoyance, but stopped himself.
She was doing something different now. She had turned off all the taps, but she didn’t proceed in washing herself. Instead, she stood off to the side of the bath, where she could stand without the water going above her chest, and she stared, simply stared, at the water around her, as if she saw something in it he did not. He couldn’t read her expression, though he wished he could. Draco longed to know what it was that went on in that mind of hers, especially now, as she stared at nothing with a numb sadness on her face. He wanted to pick apart that mind, to see all of its deep, hidden, dark thoughts, but knew that he couldn’t. At least, not yet.
He was startled by her sudden, yet slow, movement. She stepped further into the deeper water, and he watched it rise, up over her breasts, enveloping her shoulders, covering her neck, and she kept going, even as her mouth went under. She paused for a second, her nose just above the surface of the water, before she closed her eyes and dropped her knees, plunging down into it.
And just like that she disappeared. He could see nothing with all of the bubbles hiding her. He waited, anxiously, for her red hair to resurface. Seconds ticked by. And suddenly, it dawned on him that she wasn’t coming back up for air. Draco’s eyes widened in shock as he searched the unbroken surface for her. Nothing. Was she drowning? Was she committing suicide? Should he dive in after her? If he did, he would have to explain what he’d been doing spying on her. Should he stay there and wait and see if she came up on her own? Maybe she just had a really good lung capacity. All of these thoughts and questions flitted through his head even as he ran, decision already made, his body moving without his mind’s consent, and dove head-first into the water.
Draco’s eyes opened, blinking against the sting of the soap, and he gazed around in the murky water for her. There, a few meters from him, she floated under the surface. Her hair spread up and all around, as if unobstructed by gravity, looking like a silky red halo around her perfect, content face. Her eyes were closed, and she could have been sleeping, but for the fact that her mouth was open, her breasts lifting. He almost screamed at her to stop but then remembered to keep his mouth closed. She was breathing in the water. On purpose. And she looked entirely at ease about it, her arms spread to let the water wrap around her body, naked like a mythological goddess, every inch of her body covered in flawless, beautiful skin. He swam over to her vigorously, grabbing her arm in his firm grip, swimming for the surface, and he himself was losing breath, would he ever break through in time?
They resurfaced, him with a gasp of air, her unconscious and limp in his arms. He supported her body with his own as he swam to the edge, climbing out and pulling her onto the solid ground. Draco didn’t have time to stare at her naked, wet form beneath him. She wasn’t breathing, and he had to fix that. How was it done? You pushed on the chest a few times, then breathed into their mouth? He couldn’t remember, his mind was blank, and he was afraid if he were to push down onto her chest he would crack her delicate ribs. Instead, Draco pinched her nose between his fingers and swooped down, pressing his lips firmly against hers. He breathed into her all the air he had in his lungs, his eyes watching her face intently.
Her brown eyes shot open and he pulled away as she began to cough, water spilling out of her lungs. There was so much he was surprised it had all fit into her tiny body. She coughed for a few minutes until there was nothing left to cough, then seemed to take in her surroundings. Her eyes swept from left to right, finally locking with his own.
The sharp scream that pierced the air should have been expected, but he still winced. Ginny scrambled away from him backward on all fours, trying to cover her nakedness with her hands, and he stood, turning politely away from her. He heard her feet slap across the floor in the direction of the stack of fluffy white towels. Even after he was sure she was covered, even with the long silence that stretched uncomfortably between them, he didn’t turn. He waited for her to speak. Finally, he heard her inhale sharply, then whisper, “What do you think you were doing?!” with a hiss.
“I’m sorry,” he said in his most apologetic, polite voice. “I thought you were…drowning.” He didn’t want to say suicide, for fear she would suddenly become defensive.
“How long have you been watching me?” Her voice was still livid, and he didn’t respond. That was enough of an answer for her. “This whole time?!”
“I am sorry, I did not mean to. I was in the shower when you came in.” Not entirely true, he was already done showering, but at least then she wouldn’t think he’d been watching her for the past half hour.
“I didn’t hear any water running,” Ginny accused. Draco cursed at how observing she was. Again, he gave no answer, no denial or submission. Finally, she asked, “Why did you do that? Why did you save me?”
He shrugged. “I couldn’t very well have let you die.”
“Yes, you could.” He winced at the conviction in her tone, at how much she believed that statement.
“Your brother and friends would have thought I had killed you. I was only looking out for my own best interest.” She seemed to buy it.
“Well, don’t. And don’t tell anyone what happened here tonight. Now leave, please.”
He shook his head, and this seemed to surprise her. “You just almost drowned. I couldn’t very well leave you alone when you’re a danger to yourself.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Ahh, so she would deny the attempted suicide.
“You don’t know how to swim,” he covered up easily, “I couldn’t leave you unaccompanied to repeat the same experience, only with no one here to save you.”
She didn’t correct him whether she knew how to swim or not. He was sure she did, but she wasn’t quick to admit to suicide either. That was fine with him. “I’m not asking.”
“I know,” he nodded. “And I’m not leaving without you. Besides, it’s after hours. It would be rude of me not to escort you back to your Common Room.”
“What?” Ginny hissed.
“It’s late. A female shouldn’t be out by herself at night.” He almost cringed at his words, realizing how they would sound to her. It wasn’t that he was trying to bring up bad memories, it was just that that was how he was raised. As much as he hated his father, the man had raised him to be polite, courteous, and old-fashioned, especially in the area of women, so long as those women were purebloods. He agreed with all but the last part. But he had failed in convincing his father that Muggle or mudblood witches were still women, and should be treated as such. Lucius saw them as nothing more than trash and a spoil of war. Draco’s resistance to that idea had resulted in a very cruel beating on more than one occasion.
“I don’t need…just…go away…” her voice sounded defeated, and though he was glad at his triumph, he felt horrible. Was this progress forward or back? He wasn’t sure, he couldn’t tell with Ginny.
“I will wait out here if you wish to change in one of the other rooms.” Ginny didn’t answer, but he heard the rustle of fabric, and saw a flash of skin out of the corner of his eye as she ducked into one of the smaller rooms. He sighed when the door closed after her, glaring down at the bulge in his pants. Despite the fact that she had nearly drowned, his body could be counted on to get randy at the thought of Ginny Weasley naked and just a few meters from himself. He willed his body to calm down, his heart to stop racing, the sweat to stop beading on his forehead (thought that might have been from how hot and steamy the room was) and the bulge to disappear in his pants, or, in the least, become less noticeable. It didn’t help that his pants were soaking wet and clinging to his hips and legs.
Finally, some time later, Ginny emerged from the side bathroom. Draco glanced up and almost wished he hadn’t, because he couldn’t pull his eyes away. She wore a pair of pale cotton pajamas that were too large on her, so the legs of her pants brushed the floor when she walked and the sleeves of her shirt came over her hands. It was loose on her, but still flattering to her breasts, especially considering her skin was still damp and she wore no bra. Over it she wore a matching silver cloak that too brushed the floor. It had sleeves of similar length and did not tie at the top, but instead buckled right across her breasts, making them all the more noticeable. It all looked hand sewn, and it fit her beautifully, but it was oddly out of place considering she usually wore black, baggy clothes. He voiced that thought out loud.
Ginny stared at him in confusion, then down at her clothing, unconsciously covering her breasts with her arms. “My mother made it for me. I…used to like it.”
He nodded. He had seen her in years previous, walking around the school in short uniform skirts, tight shirts, and jewelry. She had been just like every other girl, caring about how her hair looked and checking if her makeup was fresh throughout the day. She must have had some nice clothes that she had bought back then, when she used to care about her appearance. It seemed now, though, she threw clothes on without noticing them, and if she did take any extra care with her clothing, it was just to make sure she was as covered as possible.
Draco watched her silently, and his scrutiny seemed to make her uncomfortable, because she shifted from foot to foot. Finally, he spoke, “Are you ready for me to escort you back to your Commons?” He maintained his polite voice, which seemed to make her slightly more at ease. She merely shrugged and he turned, beginning to walk, listening to be sure she followed him.
“You’ll have to show me the way to your Common Room,” he commented as they walked down the hallway, which must have been as cold on her bare feet as it was on his. He had stripped off his wet socks, carrying them with his shoes and shirt. He slowed his pace to her own so that they walked side by side, giving him the opportunity to glance down at her whenever he could.
Mostly all he could see was the top of her head, she was so small, and down her shirt. Should he have felt bad for staring at her cleavage? Probably, but just as he continued to watch her in the shower, he kept glancing at her small body beside his, knowing it was perverted but not caring. She looked beautiful, like an angel, especially in the silvery white clothes she wore, contrasting with her flaming, short hair. He longed to reach his hand out and run it through that beautiful hair, to lace his hand through hers, to run his fingertips across the large white scars he had seen on her body earlier. He resisted all of these actions, though it was almost painful to do so.
They reached her Common Room, a portrait of a Rubenesque woman guarding the entrance. She stared down her nose at Draco, and he hoped she wasn’t the type of portrait that liked to gossip. He didn’t care about his own reputation, but he didn’t want to ruin Ginny’s, at least, what was left of it. Ginny turned to him, lifting her eyes to Draco’s face in that quirky way that she did where she looked over his shoulder past his ear, instead of meeting his gaze. “Umm….thank you….” she finally said.
He leaned against the wall nonchalantly, hands in his wet pockets. “For what?” he asked, sounding casual, though inside he was elated at the fact that she was actually talking to him.
“For saving me,” she answered.
He nodded. “Of course.”
“I would appreciate if you…didn’t tell anyone.”
“Of course not. No point in making a big deal out of an accident.” He watched her face intently as her gaze dropped to the floor, eyebrows scrunched up in an emotion that could have been confusion, sadness, or contemplation, and was perhaps all at once. He wished he could run his fingers across those eyebrows, smooth them out, relax her upset face.
“Yes, an accident,” Ginny whispered.
He acted as if he hadn’t noticed her change in mood. “An accident I hope won’t occur again.”
She looked up at him then, actually met his eyes, before tearing her own away. For awhile she didn’t say anything. Then she whispered, “I should hope not either.”
“Because, you know, if it did, I would have to jump in and save you again.” He pushed himself off of the wall, going to stand before her, lifting her chin up gently with his hand. “And again, and again. As many times as it takes.”
Her eyes widened in surprise and panic at the nearness of his body, his sudden, foreign touch, and his words. “I…”
“I should go to sleep now.”
Draco was disappointed, but he nodded and stepped back from her, dropping her face. “Well, then, I suppose this is goodbye, Ginny Weasley.” She glanced at him warily and he stepped away enough so that she could whisper the password without him overhearing. The portrait swung open and she was halfway through it before he said, “And be careful around this school. Not everyone is as…honorable…as I am.”
She froze, her hand on the wall, and he turned, walking away from her. He could feel her eyes on his back, penetrating him, or at least trying to. Draco waited around the corner, out of sight, until he heard the portrait close safely behind her, then made his way to his own room, which, although it was on the same floor, was quite a ways away. When he finally made it to his bedroom he collapsed onto his mattress, stripping off his wet clothes and throwing them in the hamper, pulling on some dry boxers. He lay down in bed, staring at the ceiling above him in the occasional lightning that illuminated it. Draco went through the confrontation again and again, going over every word, every syllable, looking for hidden meanings. He thought about Ginny, about her attempted suicide, about her battle scars, about her perfect, naked body. That thought brought back the aching in his groin and he groaned, hoping it would go away.
It didn’t. He spent a long hour trying to ignore his lust as he tossed and turned in bed. When he realized he would get no sleep that way, he finally relented. He didn’t try not to think of Ginny, not to imagine her naked in the bath, not to picture her lying under him on his bed. When he was finished, he fell immediately asleep, dreaming of her.