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 Author's Note: I do not own anything HP. There are a couple of references to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, chapter 29, which are marked with an asterisk.





Draco didn’t get to say goodbye to the prisoners in the cellar before he returned to Hogwarts. He didn’t really know why that bothered him -- it wasn’t as if he considered them friends, but he wished he had at least had one more chance to add some extra bread to their small stash of food. Ollivander had been counting the days he was in there by scratching a tally on the stone wall with the rusty nail. The image of it haunted Draco as he sat in an empty compartment, choosing solitude over seeing the other Slytherins in his year.

As students filed out of the train and into the coaches, Draco had caught a glimpse of a subdued-looking Ginny, flanked by Longbottom and Finnegan. She didn’t look up as she walked, her only real movement being waving off Finnegan as the boy tried to help her into a carriage.

Draco ached to see her, to tell her that her friend was fine, if not a little worse for wear. He longed to find comfort in her as well, after the stressful holiday he’d had, and to see how she was doing.

Over a week passed with Draco stopping by their corner in the Library nightly. Each time the space was bare, with no indication that anyone else had been there. Losing hope, he began to wonder if Ginny had regretted everything between him, or even forgotten him altogether. Perhaps she felt awkward about kissing him, or even angry that he was associated with the people who had once again hurt someone she cared about.

Almost giving up, he stepped into the library one evening, his feet guiding him to the Restricted Section out of pure habit. He stopped short when he saw a small figure sitting on the ground. She looked very much how she did when he’d first discovered her back there, all those months ago, with her knees pulled up against her chest, and her face hidden by her long hair. This time, though, Draco had an altogether different reaction. He knew by now the signs of a sad Ginny. As much as she tried to be stubborn and strong, she was still human. Without thinking he sunk to the floor beside her, and pulled her against his chest. She clung to him, breathing shakily. Draco knew she wouldn’t cry, but the silence was just as heartbreaking.

“She’s gone,” Ginny finally said in a small voice. “They took her. People are saying she’s probably in Azkaban.” Her voice was muffled against his robes. “I was right there, I could have stopped him, I could’ve--”

“Stop, Ginny,” Draco soothed. “You couldn’t have stopped them, you’d have been killed without a second thought. And she’s okay, or at least, as okay as she can be right now.”

Ginny sat up quickly, hitting Draco in the chin with the top of her head.

“Oh! Sorry!” she fussed as Draco yelped. “What do you mean? Have you seen her? Where is she?” The questions kept coming as Ginny seized Draco’s hand painfully.

“Ouch,” Draco complained, loosening her grip on him as he massaged his jaw. “She’s at the Manor. She was brought there after they took her from the platform.”

“Is she okay?”

“She’s alive,” he responded, watching Ginny’s face fall. It wasn't the answer she wanted, but it'd have to do. “I was responsible of taking care of her and--” He stopped, not sure how much information he should divulge. “And I brought her meals, made sure she was fed, that sort of thing. She won’t last forever in there, though. The others…” He trailed off, not wanting to upset Ginny any more than she already was. Ginny nodded, seeming to understand.

“She’s a prisoner of war,” she said. It sounded so dramatic but it was true.

Draco looked at the floor bitterly. “I wish I could have brought her back with me somehow.”

Ginny shook her head. “No. You would have gotten in trouble, too. It’s easier to fight back if you’re not caught.” She paused. “You are, aren’t you? Fighting back?” She looked at him doubtfully.

He thought for a moment. He was at a turning point now, he had to decide. With a jolt, he realised he had already chosen. From the moment he’d forced to torture innocent people, to watch as people he knew were mercilessly killed. From the moment he helped Ginny all those months ago, he knew he was already on her side. On their side, the good guys or whoever. Every time he hid her from the Carrows, every time he practised Occlumency to keep the Dark Lord out, every time he helped the prisoners, he was pushing himself further and further away from the evil, and towards the good.

“Of course I am,” he said with confidence. The smile that lit up Ginny’s face made him feel lighter than he had in weeks. “I’ll always be on your side, Ginny.”

She squeezed his hand. “Not my side, Draco. Our side. The Order’s side.”

“Right. I’m on their side.” And he knew he was. He knew that whatever happened, he had to do what he could to stop this war. To finally bring peace to the Wizarding world. And he would do his part, whatever it was.

Ginny suddenly changed the subject, surprising Draco. “I have something for you. A small Christmas gift,” she said nervously. Hands shaking, she pulled a thick parcel from her bag. She handed it to Draco.

Besides the excitement he felt -- Ginny was giving him a gift! -- he frowned. “I didn’t get you anything,” he said quietly.

Ginny shrugged and smirked. “I didn’t expect you to. Go on, open it, before I change my mind. I’ve been lugging it around in my bag for a week, worrying about whether to give it to you, so it’s probably a bit wrinkled...”

Draco laughed, tearing back the paper and holding up something bluish green and lumpy. It unfolded as he held it higher. “A sweater?” he asked, looking over at Ginny. A lovely blush had risen on her cheeks, giving color to her pale face.

“I made it,” she admitted. “Mum insisted on teaching me how to knit last summer, said it would be good to know how to do it the Muggle way. She was so proud when I asked her to show me how to make a sweater, if not a little confused by my choice of color. It’s not exactly Slytherin green, but...”

Draco grinned. Nobody had ever made anything for him before. He understood why Ginny had been hesitant to give it to him, though. He’d always been the proud rich boy. But this was different somehow. He quickly shrugged out of his robes and yanked the sweater over his head, pushing his arms through the sleeves. It was warm and cosy, the color perfectly contrasting his fair skin.

“I love it,” he told her, watching happily as Ginny’s face split into a relieved smile. She gave a shaky laugh.

“I’m glad,” she said, threading her fingers through his.

------

It was getting more and more difficult to find time to spend with Ginny. The older students seemed to have come back from their holidays with renewed confidence, and the younger students soon caught on. Students were refusing to go to classes, or openingly mouthing off to teachers. Someone -- Draco was sure it was one of the DA group -- had vandalised the halls, and things like Dumbledore’s Army and Moldy Voldy covered the stone walls. Every upper-classman who wasn’t a Slytherin was punished. Some students who were obviously not involved were just given lines, but others, including Ginny, were disciplined much more harshly. There were many nights when Draco had to stand by as students -- some as young as fourth years -- were Crucio-ed or beaten. *Crabbe and Goyle were enthralled by this, volunteering themselves to help the Carrows in the abuse.

The uprising had provoked the staff (namely, Professor Snape and the Carrows) to place Dementors around the perimeter of Hogwarts. As if the students weren’t somber enough, a cold mist had settled over the grounds. Students were terrified to leave the castle, going so far as to refuse to even walk out to the Greenhouses for Herbology. Professor Sprout pushed for her classes to be able to be held in the Great Hall, and brought a few harmless plants indoors for them to study.

The moments Draco and Ginny were able to steal away from the madness were just as intense. Ginny had more injuries that needed attention, and refused to go to the Room of Requirement. She wouldn’t tell Draco why, though. He let it go, choosing instead to learn healing spells and how to make potions that would help with the bruising and scars. He wasn’t sure why they hadn’t learned those already -- surely healing spells would be more useful later in life than Divination.

Ginny had laughed when Draco mentioned this, her breath catching as he tended to another broken rib.

Through the limited time they spent together, they were only able to steal a kiss here and there. Draco didn’t mind -- he was more focused on keeping Ginny safe and happy, and working to keep the younger students out of harm’s way, than worrying about his physical attraction to her. But hidden in a concealed alcove, with Ginny’s shirt pulled up to just under her bra so Draco could check for more broken ribs, it was hard to ignore. His fingers lingered on her skin, feeling goosebumps creep up under his fingers. A small shiver went through her, and she caught his hand in hers.

“Draco,” she said unsteadily. “You’re making it very difficult for me to breathe right now.”

Draco grinned. “Sorry,” he said, pulling her shirt back down. “I think you’re good.”

“Thank you.” She didn’t let go of his hand, instead pulling him closer. He let her, leaning in until her lips were on his. It felt like fire was coursing through his body. He gingerly wrapped an arm around her waist, knowing she was still sore, and she shifted into his lap. They finally broke apart for air, each breathing heavily.

Draco grinned at her. Her hair was messy and her cheeks were flushed. “You’re welcome,” he said, softly kissing her again. He stood up, lifting her with him. “We should get back.”

Ginny fake-pouted, earning a deep laugh from Draco.

“Come on,” he laughed, pulling at her hand. Checking the corridor, Ginny trotted off. Draco followed after a few minutes. Their secret friendship was dangerous enough, but hiding their secret relationship or romance, or whatever it was, was eating away at him. If they were caught, the consequences could be fatal to them both.

Since the meeting before Christmas, Professor Snape had decided Draco was good enough at Occlumency to continue on his own, saying that he was far too busy to continue their lessons, and Draco was desperate to become better at it. Not only did he need to hide his feelings and memories of Ginny, he also had to find a way to conceal the fact that, no matter the cost, he had switched sides.

No one knew except him and Ginny, of course, although Draco had been doing what he could to prevent the younger students from being tortured at the hands of older students. He frequently interrupted Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, which was now just *Dark Arts, to tell the so-called professor that there was trouble in another classroom. Once Carrow was in the classroom, Draco shot a quick Confundus charm at him, causing the teacher to wander around the castle for a bit. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to keep many students from further abuse.

------

February came upon them without fanfare. Draco could tell Ginny was almost making herself sick with worry, not only for her friend, but everything going on inside and outside the castle, and he let himself be her distraction. Whether by tugging at her hair and cracking jokes (which was so very unlike him, and made Ginny laugh even harder), or by stealing a kiss when she least expected it, it seemed to be helping, if only a little. But many evenings, when they had managed to sneak away to the Library together, Ginny merely held Draco’s hand tightly, trying very hard not to show her fear.

Despite the grim atmosphere in the castle, students were buzzing with excitement about the upcoming Valentine’s holiday. The Death Eaters could stamp out hope and happiness, but as much as they tried, they couldn’t stop love. During Draco’s evening prefect rounds he noticed more and more young couples tucked away in secluded corners. He made sure to act perfectly vile as he pulled blushing couples out of broom cupboards, when in reality he was shocked by how the thought of people still finding love in these dark days made him smile. It must be because of Ginny, he thought. The old Draco would have been sickened by all the displays of affection that seemed to follow him everywhere. And yet, part of him was a little bitter, knowing that he and Ginny would never be able to be one of those couples. They’d never be able to walk hand-in-hand to classes, or risk being caught in a broom cupboard. It was dangerous enough to be meeting in the Library as often as they had, although lately they’d been missing each other, making Draco feel sulky and cross.

It seemed even Longbottom and Finnegan were spending more time with Ginny than Draco. They seemed to be attached to her hip, following wherever she went like human guard dogs. And although he knew Ginny hated it (“I mean, I’m pretty positive that I’m capable of getting to and from class on my own, it’s like Dean all over again...”), and he knew they were just friends  Draco couldn’t help the sensation of jealousy that bubbled up within him. They got to touch her, they got to spend time with her without being confined in a dusty, forgotten corner of the Library. Part of him wondered if Ginny wished she was dating one of them instead of Draco (not that they were dating, Draco reminded himself, he didn’t really know what exactly they were).

As Valentine’s Day grew closer, Draco grew more flustered, which was a new feeling for him. He didn’t know if Ginny expected him to give her chocolates or something, or if doing so would just make her feel uncomfortable. Giving him a Christmas present was one thing, but somehow a Valentine’s gift seemed much more significant. More intimate.

He tried not to worry about it as he walked to the Library a few days before Valentine’s Day. He’d slipped out of the dungeons easily, as everyone else was distracted with homework and studying for exams (why they thought exams were still important was beyond Draco), and met Ginny in their corner. He wondered vaguely why they’d been able to go so long without getting caught there, aside from the one time when Blaise had found them, but all thoughts of this vanished as Draco saw Ginny sitting happily on the floor, her homework spread in front of her. She looked up with a smile on her face.

“Hi,” she greeted as Draco relaxed beside her.

“Fancy meeting you here. What are you working on?” he asked, pulling the rolls of parchment towards him.

Ginny shrugged. “Some load of dung from Muggle Studies.” She rolled her eyes. “I can’t even believe the stuff they come up with -- going on about how Muggles are like animals, needing to be penned and fed at intervals, and not necessary for the continuation of human race. It’s sick.” She threw her quill at the ground angrily. “They’re still human, they’re still people. And half the kids in my class have some Muggle relation or another. It’s awful.”

Draco watched her. Although he agreed with her, he’d been taught that philosophy his whole life -- that Muggles were stupid, worthless creatures that were so far below wizards. And although he no longer supported the Dark Lord’s ideals, it was still difficult for Draco to wrap his head around how different the world was than he thought.

“Have--” he paused, wondering how to word this thoughts. “Have you spent much time with Muggles?”

Ginny fixed him with a curious stare. “Of course. Not too much, but yes. Hermione’s parents are Muggles, as I’m sure you remember, and they’re lovely. We’ve met them multiple times. And Dad is obsessed with Muggle objects and culture, so we’ve all sort of grown up learning about them in a different way than what’s been taught here. Especially now,” she said bitterly, still bothered about the coursework. “Haven’t you?” she asked.

Draco shook his head. “No. I’ve never been around them except at King’s Cross, and even then there was little to no interaction. Other than that, there was never any reason to be around them. When we went places, we always Flooed or Father would take me by Side-Along.”

Ginny gaped at him. It made Draco feel self conscious, like he was ignorant about something.

“Please don’t look at me like that,” he grumbled, pulling his own homework out of his bag.

“I-I’m sorry,” Ginny stuttered, rearranging her features. “It’s just, how did you live like that? Did you never go anywhere?”

Draco made a face reminiscent of his trademark sneer. “Of course we did,” he said, wishing he hadn’t even brought it up in the first place. “We just stayed with our own kind.”

With a glance at Ginny’s face, he realised he’d said the wrong thing.

“Our own kind?” she repeated  incredulously. “Bloody -- our own kind? Draco, they are our own kind! They’re people, they’re human beings, just like us. They feel, they bleed, they love, they fear. Just because they have different abilities than us, it doesn’t make them any less!” She stood up suddenly, furiously cramming her books back into her bag. “I can’t even be around you right now.”

Without another word, Ginny swept out of the Library, leaving Draco behind feeling utterly worthless.
 







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