Red rain is pouring down
Pouring down all over me
I am standing up at the water’s edge in my dream
I cannot make a single sound as you scream
It can’t be that cold, the ground is still warm to touch
This place is so quiet, sensing that storm
Putting the pressure on much harder now
To return again and again
Just let the red rain splash you
Let the rain fall on your skin
I come to you defenses down
With the trust of a child
-Red Rain by Peter Gabriel
Ginny knocked on the door of the classroom as she opened it, peeking her head inside. Draco glanced up at her with a smile, his whole face lighting up. He had been tutoring her for weeks, but his face still lit up every time she opened the door and stepped into his room. How a person could be so excited to see someone every day, to see her every day, she could never understand.
Ginny waited as he moved his makeshift dining table to the side of the room, clearing out a large space in the center, and tried not to yawn. Her visits to him every night often left her exhausted, but the benefits far outweighed the consequences. After Ginny spent all night studying with Draco she was so tired she collapsed into bed and fell asleep immediately. She often slept through the night, and though she still had nightmares, even those had begun to be less often and severe. And although she usually felt tired the next day, his potion helped to keep her awake. He had caught her up in all of her classes in just a month. She had taken an exam in Transfiguration and actually managed to pass it with a decent grade. It would be awhile, of course, before her grades improved in all her classes, but it was helpful that she wasn’t completely in the dark. Now, when she came for tutoring, he helped her with her homework and when they finished that, taught her new spells that she hadn’t learned yet. Most of them were defensive spells, and though they both knew why she needed to practice them, they didn’t ever talk about it. What had happened over the summer was a topic that, although alluded to and predominant in all of their conversations, they never directly discussed. Which was fine with her.
Ginny had grown comfortable with Draco. She could even say they were friends now, though this friendship they kept secret from everyone else. But she wasn’t ready to open up and tell him everything that had happened that night. If he asked, she would most likely refuse. But Draco didn’t ask. He seemed to understand what made her uncomfortable, and was careful not to cross those boundaries, something she was thankful for. Spending time with Draco was her escape. When she was with him, she forgot about everything else in her life but him. All of her worries, her problems, her nightmares, just seemed to disappear. It was as if he emitted an aura that had a similar effect as a pepper-up potion. One just couldn’t be unhappy around him.
Draco had finished pushing the desks to the side and now he stood before her, wand in hand. He had taken off his shirt and tossed it on the floor nonchalantly, and she suddenly found the room to be stifling warm. Draco’s pale skin was covered in little beads of sweat from his exertion. She found herself blushing and staring at the far wall to avoid looking at his chest. “Your shirt…” she pointed out.
“Oh, yeah, it’s too hot in here,” he said with a shrug. “I worked up a sweat moving all those desks.”
“They have spells for that, y’know,” the redhead pointed out sarcastically.
“Yeah, but I needed the exercise. Ready to begin?”
“What, exactly, are we doing today?” she asked, still uncomfortable.
“I’m teaching you a new spell.” He had a mischievous sort of smile on his face. “It is definitely…not one you’ll learn in class.”
“What is it?”
Ginny lifted an eyebrow skeptically. “Is it illegal?”
“No…just not taught at Hogwarts.”
“So what are we doing?”
He grinned. “We’re exploding things.”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “Of course we are. Typical male. I already know how to make objects explode, Draco.”
“Ahh, but you know the spell Expulso, correct? I’m talking about the spell Confringo. It is much stronger and can be used much more affectively on…well, let’s just say it’s not in the curriculum because if it was used on a human it would kill them.”
Her eyes widened. “But I don’t want to kill anyone.”
“And I’m not saying you will. But for defensive purposes it is much better.”
“And why is that? What will it do to a human being?”
He grimaced. “It’s a bit…bloody. Expulso will, if cast on a human, blow off a ligament, usually something small like a hand. Confringo will…well, it will cover a much larger area. Usually the entire body. Hence why you’ll never learn it from any of our professors.”
“Then how did you learn it?”
“My father, of course.” He shrugged.
“But I don’t want to kill anyone.” she repeated. “I don’t see why I need to know it.”
He frowned and stepped closer to her, looking her in the eyes. She fidgeted nervously, trying to ignore the fact that his bare chest was just a few centimeters from her own. “It is better to know how to defend yourself and never have to, than to not know when the time comes that you do.”
“It’s a bit too late for that,” she whispered, staring at the floor.
Ginny felt Draco’s fingertips on her chin and he lifted her face up. “It’s never too late to learn. Now stand back.” Draco commanded, holding his wand out. She was all too glad to take a step away from him. Or five. “Now, I want you to throw that plate into the air when I say so. Throw it away from you, not straight up.” Ginny glanced to her right to find a stack of dinner plates on the floor that she hadn’t seen before. How he had snuck all of them out of the Great Hall she was unsure. The redhead nodded, picking the top one up off of the pile. Draco shifted his leg back into stance, lifted his arm, and gave the command. The plate soared through the air and, with a flourish, Draco yelled, “Confringo!”
There was a loud explosion, making Ginny squeek and duck behind Draco to avoid getting hit by any shards of dishware. He chuckled and reached behind him, pulling her away from his back. “It’s alright. The worse that can happen is you’d get some dust in your eyes.”
“What do you mean?” She glanced around them in surprise. There was no evidence of the dish left anywhere.
“Look at the floor.”
Ginny’s eyes lowered to the floor. There, on the wood, lay a pile of fine dust, the particles no larger than sand. She gulped. “And…you would do that to a human?”
His face was grave. “I never have, but when I was taught the spell, that was the goal I was told to keep in mind. Now, you’re going to try.”
“Me? I’m going to try that?” Her voice was meek. “I don’t think I want to…Besides, won’t someone hear that explosion?” She asked, trying to find an excuse to avoid the inevitable.
Draco smiled and shook his head. “I placed a silencing charm on the room, no one will hear. Come on, now, it’s easy. Here, put your left foot back like this.” He stood beside her, showing her how to position her arms and feet. “No, no, you’re doing it wrong. Here.” Draco put his wand in his pocket and leaned over, grabbing Ginny’s leg, shifting it back at a 45 degree angle. Then he stood behind her with a smile, his hand holding hers. “Like this.” He showed her how to move her wrist in the right movements.
Ginny couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying. His bare chest was pressed up against her back, which was very disconcerting, and his cool hand was wrapped around hers, which now felt feverish along with the rest of her body. When he began showing her the movements, their bodies shifting together, her heart rate sped up and she felt sick to her stomach. Her head began to pound. A bead of sweat trickled down her spine between her shoulder blades.
“Now, try it.” He stepped back. “I’ll warn you when I throw it.” He picked up a plate off of the floor, twisted his arm behind him, and in one fluid motion threw it into the air. She stared, mesmerized, at the muscles of his back and arms and chest flex and move under his skin. Draco’s command reminded her of what she was doing and she quickly said the spell, trying to aim her wand at the moving object.
The spell hit the ceiling, blasting a hole in the stone. Thankfully it was so thick it didn’t go straight through to the level above. The plate hit the wall, breaking, and large jagged chunks of it fell to the floor. She winced and gave him an apologetic look.
“That’s okay, we’ll try again.”
They did. Again and again and again. Eventually his ceiling was covered in burnt indentions in the stone and he had to repair the plates so they had enough for her to use. It was much harder than it looked to hit a moving object. Especially when she was as distracted as she was. Every time she tried Draco corrected her stance or gave her hints, things that would normally be helpful if he wasn’t always touching her in order to do so. It didn’t help any that he didn’t bother to put his shirt back on. As the hour ticked by, she felt worse and worse. More distracted, more lightheaded, more sick to her stomach. She found she had to stare at his lips just to concentrate on what he was saying. A buzzing in her head that had begun long ago grew increasingly louder and louder, and she couldn’t seem to get her eyes or brain to focus. To his credit, Draco was very patient, never once growing annoyed with her or complaining about his arm hurting, though she saw him rubbing it after a while. In fact, he seemed to draw energy from their practice, which only drained her.
“Alright, again!” He picked up a plate. “Go!”
Ginny was so exhausted and tired of it she didn’t even bother to aim this time. She shut her eyes when she said the spell, aiming in the general area where he’d been throwing. There was the same sound of an explosion and dust falling to the floor, but this time a different noise was added into the mixture. It was the sound of Draco yelling triumphantly. She opened her eyes in surprise to find him grinning at her and pulling her into a hug. “That was great! You did it!”
Ginny stared in shock at the pile of debris on the floor where there would have been a plate. She was so shocked she didn’t even push Draco off of her. She glanced up at his face, his lips pulled up in a smile, his eyes shining in pride, and began to feel dizzy. If he hadn’t been holding her, she would have fallen over. Ginny opened her mouth to speak, but couldn’t find her voice. Her eyes went out of focus, her muscles weakly gave way, and her vision went dark.
Draco caught Ginny as she collapsed into his arms, unconscious. He stared at her in surprise, shaking her a few times. “Ginny? Ginny? Are you okay?” She didn’t stir, though her eyelids fluttered. Had he hurt her? Had he worked her to exhaustion? Should he wake her up or let her sleep?
He went to touch her face and suddenly realized how hot and clammy she was. Her skin was feverish under his hand and moist with sweat. Her breathing was rapid and shallow and she let out a moan.
Was she sick? She hadn’t acted it. She looked as tired as usual, with shadows under her eyes, but she always looked that way. He hadn’t thought twice about it. He suddenly realized she must have been ill and not told him, that or not realized it herself. Should he take her to the hospital wing? No, that wouldn’t be a good idea. The nurse would ask questions. Rumors would spread. It would look bad if Ginny Weasley was seen being carried, unconscious, to the hospital wing in the middle of the night by him. He didn’t want any more rumors spreading about her.
Draco leaned down and grabbed the girl under her knees, lifting her up in his arms and carrying her to the other room. He lay her down in the bed carefully, suddenly realizing just how fragile she was. She was practically weightless in his arms, nothing but skin and bones, and everything about her just seemed so…breakable. He grimaced and pulled up a chair next to her bed, brushing her sweaty hair out of her face. He couldn’t take her to Madame Promfrey, but what could he do? He could go get Snape…but the professor’s quarters were down in the dungeons on the far side of the school. It would take Draco an hour to get there, wake him up, and bring him back to see Ginny. Draco didn’t want to leave her alone for that long. No, he would take care of her himself.
Draco went to his desk, looking through it at the potion’s he had. He had nothing for a fever or sickness, just a handful of different healing potions for broken bones and cuts. Draco sighed and glanced back at Ginny. His eyes widened in surprise. Her face was no longer peaceful and blank. It was squinted in agony, her breathing was rapid, her arms and legs twitched and occasionally she moaned. Draco sat back down by her side curiously, watching her. She must have been having a nightmare, and it seemed to escalate, because soon she was crying out and tossing from side to side. She said a manner of unintelligible things, but the word most often to leave her lips was “No.” He grimaced, wondering what she must be dreaming.
But of course, he could find out, couldn’t he? Would it be wrong, to peek into her mind while she dreamt? Was that considered an invasion of privacy? Most likely, but he was curious, and he wanted to know how best to soothe her from this nightmare. Draco pulled out his wand, murmuring “Legilimens” and putting his wand to her temple. He wasn’t the best at Legilimency. He had been taught both it and Occlumency, the defense against someone trying to see into his mind, by his father. He couldn’t cast the spell silently, like Lucius could do, and he often only saw what the person was immediately thinking, unlike Voldemort, who could search through someone’s mind like a library, finding the specific thoughts he wanted. But it would allow him to see what she was dreaming.
Draco closed her eyes to better see her thoughts. He almost wished he hadn’t.
Draco saw and experienced everything as Ginny did. He forgot himself, felt only what she felt, knew only what she knew. She was on the ground, it was wet, red. She lay on her stomach with her face pressed against the hard stone, but behind her knelt a man, his hands grabbing her, nails digging into her hips. She was crying, begging him to stop; she was beyond capable of fighting him off. He grabbed her hair roughly and snapped her head back, leaning over her back, his lips at her ears. The unknown man licked her face before whispering in her ear, his breath and cruel voice making her shudder, “Do you like how that feels, Ginny?”
She shook her head, her body wracked with sobs, and tried to turn her face away. He grabbed her chin, yanking it around, and shoved his tongue into her mouth. She felt sick, violated, disgusted. When he pulled away she stared up at his face, his malicious blue eyes, the mask that hid his features. It was not the true mask of a Death Eater, more demonic, more frightening, it’s features contorted in hate, mockery, cruelty.
“Say you like it!” he commanded, pulling her hair again. She screamed in pain as he thrust into her. All she could feel was pain, sharp, stinging, throbbing, like the lash of the whip the other one hit her with. Every time he entered her he cut her with something sharp, so that she was covered in open wounds inside and out. He seemed to revel in the pain he caused her and in the sound of her screams.
Ginny stared up at the sky as each moment, each new stinging pain, blended into the next. Rain was falling from the sky, washing over her, and when the light hit it it shone crimson red. Like blood. It drenched her to the bone, covering her body in red, staining it, staining her skin, her soul.
She was stained, tainted red, and she would never be able to wash it out.
Draco’s eyes shot open with a gasp and he lurched away from Ginny, his chair falling backwards. He stood, staring at her in horror as he breathed heavily, trying to process what he had seen. It had been just a moment, just a snapshot in time, of all that had happened to her that night, but still he found himself gagging, nearly throwing up, in disgust. The thought of what those men had done to her, of the agony they had put her through…even now, no longer trapped in her dreams, he could feel an aching phantom of that pain still in his body. He shuddered, bracing himself against the desk while he tried to calm his heaving stomach.
Ginny whimpered again and Draco forgot about himself. She was still stuck there, in that nightmare. He looked around, but didn’t have anything to help her with. He had no dreamless sleeping draughts, nothing for her fever, nothing for an imaginary, nightmarish hurt. He could run to the hospital wing, to Snape, but both were so far away. Draco shook his head. No, he couldn’t leave her and subject her to her torment for an hour or more while he tried to get her help. Draco picked his wand up off the floor where it had fallen. But he could…
“I’m sorry, Ginny. Please don’t hate me for this.” Draco sat down by her side again, laying a hand on her face. He closed his eyes before whispering, “Imperio.”
“Ginny,” Draco whispered, stroking her face. “I need you to stop having this dream now…” Would this work? Commanding her to do something that she essentially had no control over? He hoped so. “I need you to…to dream about something else. Something…peaceful.” Her face immediately relaxed, her body stopped twitching, and her breathing returned to normal. He smiled. Draco considered commanding her to dream about him, but he didn’t want to control her that much. What she deemed peaceful was her own business. He felt bad enough using an Unforgivable on her, even if it was for good. “And now I want you to sleep. Sleep and don’t wake until you are fully rested.”
He finished the spell and placed his wand on the desk, taking her hand as he watched her. Ginny’s lips turned up in a smile she slept, and Draco found his own doing the same, though it was half-hearted. He could tell her to think of something else, but he couldn’t stop himself from remembering what he had seen in her nightmare, what she had been through.
Finally, it dawned on him what he had to do. The only way he could help her, the only way he could heal her, was to find out who those men were that had hurt her and make sure justice was served. And only she would be able to give him enough hints for him to figure that out. He would have to get her to open up to him enough to tell him all that had happened that night, all they had said, everything she could remember about them.
He knew it would be awhile before they could get to that point. He also knew he wanted to see those men caught and put in Azkaban not just for her own good, but to satisfy his vengeance. He hated the Death Eaters that had hurt her, that had raped her and broken her and ruined her, and he wanted to make them pay. Draco’s face was grim and full of anger as he watched her sleep.
Finally, after sitting there for an hour worrying over her, Draco could keep himself awake no longer. Thankfully, the next day was Saturday and he could go to Snape first thing in the morning and have the man come look at her, maybe take her to the hospital himself so she wasn’t seen with Draco. They could make up some story to explain to Ginny’s friends and brother. She would have to get help from Madame Promfrey then, who would notice how thin and malnourished she was and who would insist on giving her a dreamless sleeping draught. Ginny would hate it, she might even be humiliated, but it would be better than her suffering every night like this.
Draco turned the couch around and pulled it closer, so it was right by the bed, laying down. It was lumpy and uncomfortable, but he didn’t want Ginny to wake up before him and find them sleeping in the same bed together. He didn’t think she would take that very well. Draco blew out the candle and continued to gaze at Ginny’s face in the moonlight, his hand holding hers. Just before he drifted off to sleep he heard her whisper his name, “Draco.”