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Summary:Things start falling into place, preparing themselves, and Ginevra is afraid. The nothingness gapes - the Light grows dim. Confusion and problems block their path, and only their love and strength can keep them sane.

He was released a day earlier than expected from the Hospital Wing, and so he set out to find her. After checking the Astronomy Tower, he went to the Room of Requirement and smiled when he saw the golden door.

He pushed it open and was at her side in moments. She was curled into a little ball, her breathing was ragged and she kept whispering “Oh God. Oh God.” Even when he put his arms around her she didn’t seem to know he was there.

“Shit Ginny,” he murmured. “What’s wrong?”

She turned wild eyes up to him. “I can’t do this anymore Draco,” she cried, shudders running through her body. “I can’t do it!”

“What?” he whispered desperately.

She shook her head, red locks bouncing wildly. She was shaking with some sort of fear and despair, and he pulled her close but still she was shaking. They sat like that for an hour, until finally Ginny looked up again.

“I can’t do this anymore,” she repeated. “I’m not meant to! We’re not meant to! Please, Draco, I’m only a kid…”

“Ginny, I’m here,” he told her. “I’m here. It’s okay… It’ll be okay… What’s wrong?”

“Oh God,” she cried. “I can’t fight in this war anymore, Draco. I can’t! I’m too scared of dying- and all these fights, what’s it doing? We can’t stop them. We’ll never stop them.”

“What do you mean?” he said hollowly. “We beat my father, you beat him. You can do this Gin, I know you can.”

She shoved a copy of the Daily Prophet at him and he scanned the front page, throat going dry.

JAIL BREAK FROM AZKABAN!

screamed the front page headline. Draco shivered and read the article.

Lucius Malfoy was found to be missing from Azkaban yesterday evening, RITA SKEETER reports. Aurors have been searching thoroughly but there has thus far been no sign of him. Harassed looking Cornelius Fudge appeared last night to give a statement.

“No, there has been no sign whatsoever of the conniving little- Mr Malfoy, I mean,” he told reporters. “The ministry is doing what it can, but with the D-dementors gone and Thingy (you-know-who) on the loose, it is harder than ever to find an escapee.”

An alert has been sent to the Muggle Prime Minister and citizens are advised to beware….

Draco stopped and threw aside the paper; reluctantly meeting Ginny’s terrified eyes. “What can we do, Draco?”

He didn’t know what to say. Finally, he cleared his throat. “We’ll keep learning the spells,” he told her hoarsely. “We’ll learn to Apparate. We’ll beat the bastards.”

Ginny gulped down sobs and nodded, resting her head on his chest. He put his arms around her and they sat, seeking comfort in each other and finding precious little.

***

“You are here to learn the art of Apparation,” Dumbledore said quietly. “At Hogwarts, there is a magical protection to stop you from Apparating within the castle grounds. I am going to teach you a more advanced form of Apparation- one that will allow you to Apparate anywhere you want. It is a much more dangerous form- and being splinched is not the worst thing that can happen to you.”

Ginny’s hand flew to Draco’s, gripping it tightly- he gave her a reassuring squeeze. Ron was looking very pale, Harry was biting his lip- only Hermione had a gleam of excitement in her eyes. Strange as it was, Draco and the trio were actually managing to be in the same room and not be at each others throats. Ginny, despite her somber mood, was trying hard to suppress a giggle.

Draco glanced down at her and she gave him a cheeky grin. He rolled his eyes, making his disgust at being in the same room with the Golden Trio obvious, and Ginny muffled her laugh under a hand. Ron glared at her- growing more and more furious with every intimate thing he saw about the pair. To his credit, he was trying very hard not to start yelling for Malfoy to take two very big steps away from his sister, but this effort was turning his face purple.

Dumbledore was worried. He was very amused by the hostility of both groups, but he also knew that he must have their full attention on the task at hand; namely, Apparation. He wondered briefly whether he should have taught them separately, and then abruptly dismissed the idea. They had to learn to get along somehow.

Hermione was very annoyed. Here they were, about to learn one of the most difficult arts, and the rest of the group were behaving like immature children. She glanced over at Ron, and despite her annoyance couldn’t help a rush of affection. He was so sweet when he got mad.

Harry was desperately trying to keep Ron in control. It hadn’t helped that they had walked in on the pair snogging- nor that Draco had looked up, seen who it was and immediately gone back to kissing Ginny- and he had a feeling that even with the presence of Dumbledore, any moment a fight would ensue. A boiling rage was in him as well- for Draco was smirking relentlessly at him- so he kept the peaceful image of Luna in his mind. He suddenly felt a slight tickling in his head- rather like a gentler version of Snape’s Legilimency and startled, forced all his abilities of Occlumency on whoever it was, and they retreated. He had a suspicion that they had seen his thoughts about Luna however, and this dismal idea was confirmed when both Draco and Ginny broke into silent sniggers.

It was Ginny who had, surprised at Harry’s control, broken into his mind and read the dreamy thoughts about Luna. She had immediately projected them into Draco’s thoughts and the pair was almost dying with withheld laughter, thus acquiring the glances from the rest of the room; severe from Dumbledore, embarrassed from Harry and utterly confused
from Hermione and Ron.

The lesson was a fiasco. Ginny and Draco’s vow to work more on defense and their shock over Lucius’s escape from jail had disappeared in the pleasantness and mirth of a Saturday morning. Finally, Dumbledore in an act of benign understanding allowed them to postpone the lesson until Monday. In fact, he told them that they could have all of Monday off from other lessons if they promised to work properly on that day. The students had hastily agreed, and Dumbledore had swept from the room.

“Well,” said Hermione in a very forced civil tone. “I suppose we’ll see you on Monday.”

“Yes,” Draco agreed before pulling Ginny onto the couch and beginning to whisper at a high speed in her ear. Of course, he could have simply spoken to her mind to mind but he guessed this would annoy the Wonder Twits more. Ginny quickly caught on and, giggling, whispered back in his ear. They both took an amused glance at a by now red-faced Ron and burst into quiet laughter again.

“Hermione said goodbye,” Ron finally said in muffled indignation.

“Yes, we know,” Ginny replied kindly, feeling a little compassion for her brother. “We said goodbye too.”

“But you haven’t left.”

“We weren’t planning to,” Draco said smoothly.

“What?” Ron exploded. “But we were going to hang out here!”

“Well,” Ginny said sweetly. “So were we. And we got here first.”

Ron opened and shut his mouth, glaring at them.

“Oh do be a dear, Ginny,” coaxed Hermione. “We want to do some… research on new spells here.”

Ginny laughed. “Really? Where are your books?”

Hermione had no answer to that, so Harry butted in. “Oh come on, sod off you two.”

“Actually,” Draco sneered. “I don’t see why we should have to leave. As Ginny said, we were here first.”

Unable to control his temper anymore, Ron blurted out “Don’t call her Ginny!”

Ginny burst into laughter. “What should he call me then, Ronnie?” she chortled. “Ickle Ginny-Winkins? Or maybe Weasley would be better to your taste? What about The-Evil-Weasley-Who-Opened-The-Chamber-Of-Secrets?”

Ron stared at her. “You told him about that? You told him about that?”

Ginny frowned, and nodded. “Yes, I did. He has every right to know.”

“But it was his father who did it!” Ron roared.

Both Ginny and Draco stood up, wands out. “Don’t you ever say another word about that, Ronald,” she hissed. “You don’t know a thing about us, so don’t you dare try to dictate my life! Listen to me very carefully brother, because I’m not going to say this again.

“I will go out with who I want. I will kiss whoever I want. I will tell anything I want to Draco about me. And I don’t want you to start comparing my love to a person he is not the simplest bit like! Now get the hell out of here!”

Ron was about to answer when Hermione and Harry grabbed an arm each and dragged him out of the room. The door slammed shut behind them, and Ginny glowered at it for a moment then turned. Draco was no longer beside her- he was sitting on a chair with his back to her.

She flew across the room and onto his lap, throwing her arms around him and kissing him fiercely. “It’s not true,” she whispered desperately in his ear. “I know it’s not true. You’re not like him at all!”

Draco turned pained eyes up to her, pulling her close to him. “I wouldn’t have wanted him to do it,” he muttered. “I didn’t tell him to do it!”

“I know,” she told him, looking earnestly into his eyes. “I know you didn’t Draco, I don’t care about him, I don’t care what they say…”

“I would have tried to stop him if I could!”

“I know you would have,” she cried. “I know!”

“Please Ginny,” he whispered, sending shivers through her. “Tell them it’s not true. Please!”

“Draco, I don’t care what they think. I love you. You’re not anything like him, I promise!”

He buried his face in her hair- she had a feeling he was having trouble keeping back tears. “We’ll be okay,” she murmured, again and again. “We’ll be okay.”

In the end, she didn’t know who she was telling it to.

***

Later that evening, Ginny and Draco slipped back into the Room of Requirement. Draco had gone down to lunch with her finally, and the pair had ignored the trio, taking seats at their respective tables. Hermione had tried to reason with Ginny, but Ginny had turned her head away, face
transformed with raw anger. Ron was shoveling down his food as fast as possible, sensing that as long as he kept his mouth shut he might avoid a Bat Bogey Hex. Harry was bewildered, not understanding the extremity of Ginny’s anger. Draco snuck into Ginny’s mind a few times, making sly comments about the trio, concealing the hurt in him. Ginny was not so easily deceived however, and she asked him gently how he was feeling. His reply sent a rush of dread and nervous excitement through her:

Room of Requirement, after lunch. I owe you an explanation.

It was under these circumstances that they were sitting on the floor, cross legged and facing each other. Their faces were serious, and they locked the door. Draco cocked his head to one side for a moment, surveying her and then straightened, face even paler than usual.

“What do you want to know?” he asked finally.

She swallowed. “Why were you fighting on our side, against your father, before we got involved?”

He considered for a moment. “I hated my father. I was against anything he stood for, really, just for the simple reason that I hated him- thus hating the things he did. But also…” Despite the situation, a smile made its way onto his lips. “Well, you know what an arrogant prat I was-”

“Am,” Ginny interrupted laughingly.

He frowned mockingly at her. “Ha! Look who’s talking. Anyway, I just didn’t fancy myself groveling at the hem of the robes of an old man. I wanted either to be the leader of the Dark side or not on it all. I mean, Voldemort was a half blood. My father was always going on about anyone who was not pureblood were worse than dirt- and yet he’s terrified of a half blood. So I never respected the Dark Lord enough to be part of his little farce.”

“Hardly a farce,” she reminded him gently.

He shrugged. “That’s all it was to me, Ginny. I never cared enough about it.”

She wondered what he had been like before she knew him- she had thought she could class him easily as a laughable, egotistical, prejudiced bastard; but now she wondered how much pain Draco Malfoy had gone through in the last six years.

He cleared his throat gently and she brought her attention back to the present sheepishly. She bit her lip, trying to decide how to tackle with the next question. “Okay… why do you hate your father?”

He stiffened. “What is there to say?” he whispered. “I hate him now because of my mother, and because I know he’s a coward but then…”

“Then?” she prompted, eyes searching his.

“If you… if you take a dog,” his voice was slightly hoarse. “And lock it up, and tell it off all the time, and hit it and kick it and throw spells at it, is it going to like you?”

Ginny’s eyes filled with tears. “Do you have any scars?” she whispered in a curious, choking voice that was not her own.

He shook his head. “Not many anyway. I had to be presentable. I had to be able to wear whatever I wanted without him coming under suspicion. I had to be able to go swimming in just shorts if I wanted. He was careful to heal me properly afterwards… the House Elves did a pretty good job, too. Just… a few…”

He rolled up his shirt sleeve on his right arm and she saw a thin, long white line going up from his wrist; the one she had seen that night in the hospital wing. “When I was four,” he told her quietly.

“Oh God,” she whispered, hugging him around the neck.

He was clearly uncomfortable, but he held her tight anyway. “Draco,” she whispered finally. He met her eyes, questioning her without saying anything. “Can I sleep with you again tonight?”

He let out a breath. “Of course.”

***

Monday came. Ginny’s lips were tight and pinched and Draco, standing beside her looked grim. They had made the choice last night- Ginny knew she could not back out on the promise she had made, to Draco and to herself. To Neville. She closed her eyes briefly, knowing she was about to accept what Harry, Hermione and Ron had refused, and which she had found abhorrent.

She studied the blue eyes of Dumbledore carefully, gripping Draco’s hand. He looked down at her and nodded. The trio stood behind them confused. Dumbledore was patiently waiting, gazing at her with clear eyes.

“Dumbledore,” she whispered, voice cracking slightly as she spoke. “Teach us the Unforgivables.”

She heard the gasp from Hermione, saw Dumbledore take the step backwards unwillingly in surprise, and jutted out her chin in determination.

Dumbledore did not bother with confirmation of her command; his eyes saddened and he paused. Tension hung in the air, seeming in connection with the young couple’s stance, the shock of the trio behind them and the old man standing in front of them. Finally, Dumbledore nodded. Something filled Ginny’s heart; though whether it was relief or dismay or a final, condemning doom she couldn’t tell.

She finally heard what she’d been waiting for; the muffled sob from Hermione, the cut-off cry of indignation from Ron and she could imagine the jade-green eyes of Harry, filled with despair and horror. She turned slowly to find the three students behind them ashy white. Draco turned also, and watched them steadily.

“It’s not true,” Hermione choked finally. “Tell me it’s not true!”

“It’s true,” Draco said wearily, the first time he had spoken. There was no menace in his voice.

“Ginny,” Harry whispered pleadingly. “That’s death! That’s how my parents died!”

“Well,” Ginny said mockingly, hating how sadistic her voice sounded. “How do you think you’re going to kill Voldemort?” She continued, ignoring Ron’s flinch. “Body bind him?” A soft chuckle escaped her, cold and calculating.

“Why are you doing this?” Harry asked.

Ginny paused, and then the reasons came tumbling out of her. “Because no matter how many times we fight and defeat them and put them in Azkaban, they’ll escape! Because they’re the reason Neville’s dead- because Lucius almost killed me and Draco, more than once! Because- because we can’t win otherwise. We can’t win the peaceful way, Harry! We have no choice!”

Harry shook his head, wordlessly. He opened his mouth, but words refused to come out. Ginny clutched tight to Draco’s hand, waiting. Dumbledore was still silent. Finally…

“I’ll do it too, then,” squeaked a tiny voice. All eyes darted to Hermione, and seemingly strengthened by that Ron stepped forward as well.

“Me too.”

“Well,” Harry murmured, the words sticking in his throat. “Well… I guess you can count me in too.”

Dumbledore cleared his throat, and Ginny and Draco turned back to him. “Then it is settled,” he said quietly. “Today, you will spend half of the day learning Apparation, and the rest learning the Unforgivable Curses.”

***

“I CAN’T DO IT!” Ginny yelled at Dumbledore for the umpteenth time that day- they had long stopped regarding any formality procedures with the headmaster. “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CAUSE PAIN DELIBERATLY- EVEN IF IT IS JUST A SPIDER? I CAN’T BLOODY DO IT!”

Her face was flushed and pink, hair escaping out of the ponytail and her eyes gleamed with anger and frustration. Draco looked up at her voice again from where he was intently trying to kill a cockroach and crossed swiftly to her, muttering softly in her ear. Harry, Hermione and Ron watched in amazement as yet again Draco calmed her in seconds.

“How does he do that?” Harry managed in a weak voice. “Even you can’t do that, ‘Mione.”

Ron shook his head in disbelief. “He’s put a spell on her. I know he has.”

“No, that was definitely our Ginny yelling before,” Hermione reminded him. “He just… has a way with her.”

“You talk as if she were a dog,” snorted Ron in reply.

Harry shook his head. “C’mon. Let’s get on with it.” He turned back to the spider that scuttled around in the jar, swallowed and then tipped it out. “Engorgio,” he murmured, ignoring Ron’s wince as the creature swelled to half its size. Then, swallowing hard and dully preparing himself for the wisp of green light that was the only part of the killing curse that worked, he cried “ADVADA KEDAVRA!”

There was a flash of green light that for a split second illuminated the room, and then a spider lying on its back on the table. It was clearly dead.

There was complete silence. Everyone stared at Harry and he looked down at the spider uncomfortably. “Well,” Harry whispered finally.

“Well done Harry,” Ginny said hoarsely, knowing how strange it sounded to congratulate someone on causing death.

The spell was broken and everyone turned back to their work; Harry turned his concentration to the Imperius charm which he still could not manage, and the rest of the group doubled their efforts on the curses.

***

Ginny sat with Draco that night in the Astronomy Tower considerably wiser. Her fingers hadn’t stopped trembling since she had finally successfully mastered the killing curse and her face was pale; her lip with dried blood on it. She was feeling a little airy; part of her seemed to still be part of the air, as that was what the sensation of Apparation had been; being part of the air for a split second.

She and Draco did not look at each other, instead leaning side by side, watching as the stars came out. Ginny shuddered a little and Draco placed a comforting kiss on her forehead.

“Can you sense it, Draco?” she whispered finally, voice cracking. “The battle’s coming closer; we don’t have much longer to wait.”

“We’ll be ready for it,” he told her.

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