It was after breakfast, and he was dawdling in leaving the Great Hall. His friends, or those whom he used to call friends before his father's disgrace, had left him, and he was as usual pretending not to notice or care. He did not feel like speaking to Crabbe or to Goyle, and he had told them to go on without him.
He turned, and to his shock and utter horror Ginny Weasley was hurrying towards him, a red braid bouncing. The last thing he wanted to do, ever, was speak to Ginny Weasley. It was also the only thing he'd wanted to do in months...years, maybe...
"Hey!" Ginny snapped her fingers in his face, and he started.
"You've been following me around," Ginny stated, tilting her head to look into his face. Up close she was even shorter than she looked. "I want it to stop."
Following. Her. Around. Think, Draco, think. Don't stand and stare. It doesn't work like that. He struggled to process her words, and a wave of horror washed over him. She'd noticed him watching her, then. It had grown serious, problematic. It was over, everything was over...
"What's wrong with you?" Ginny demanded, looking angry.
Draco did not answer her. He walked around her and headed for the great doors at the end of the hall.
He left her standing where she was, not looking back at her. His breath was coming hard; he rushed to the bathroom and shut himself in a stall.
If there was one thing that had kept his whole world from tilting when the Dark Lord infiltrated his home and the Dark Mark had been burned onto his arm and he had been instructed to kill the pillar of Hogwarts, Dumbledore, it had been the thought that at least there would still be Ginny. He could still watch her and feel frustratedly secure in the fact that she would never know how he felt about her.
Now that had all changed. He was shocked at how horribly unsettled he felt, like he was spinning to his untimely death. All because of a few words a girl had said...
No, not just a girl, Ginny Weasley.
When he felt normal, Draco left the bathroom and then left the building. He went to the deserted courtyard and sat, emptying his mind of thought and feeling and just staring at the bleak landscape. He did not go to any of his classes that day, nor did he go to lunch or supper. He wasn't hungry. He avoided everyone all day.
In the common room that night, no one asked him where he'd been.