dgfiaexchange (dgfiaexchange) wrote in dgficexchange,
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Red Sky at Morning, for Rinney: Part Two

PART TWO
Red Sky at Morning

Rating: Extremely Naughty
Possible Spoilers/Warnings: Takes place in an AU where Harry failed to defeat Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of Deathly Hallows (more or less canon-compliant up to that point).
Summary: Two years after the Battle of Hogwarts tore the wizarding world apart, Voldemort's Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix remain at a stalemate, with no victory in sight for either side. Draco Malfoy finds his world thrown suddenly into disarray when he once again crosses paths with a girl he never wanted to see again--the girl he has tried in vain to forget.
Author's Notes: Alright, this story sort of ran away with itself but I hope it still fits the prompt reasonably well--even if it's not quite as creative the original prompt asked for. >_< Also, it ended up being a lot longer than I had planned. (Turns out I'm incapable of writing short fics, and I'm also incapable of writing D/G without a lot of backstory...)




The meeting with his father had been even more boring and unbearable than Draco had expected. It felt like he'd had to endure several long, agonizing hours of lecturing before the man had finally Floo'd away to Yaxley's country house.

Draco wasted no time after Lucius left; entering the drawing room, he swiftly pulled open the hidden door and descended the steps into the gloom. Antonin Dolohov was slouched against the wall by the entryway to the dungeons, taking his turn as guard. The older man nodded a greeting as Draco strode past him and quickly made his way to the area where the newest captures were held. Several bloodied faces stared bleakly back at him, but he paid them no mind. He noticed that the Carrows were nowhere to be seen, and that was never a good sign. Heart hammering, Draco approached the end of the corridor.

He came to a dead stop in front of the empty holding cell. Ginny was not inside.

Draco clenched his fists under the sleeves of his robes and swore under his breath. He knew he shouldn't have left her here. A cold fury rose up inside him; if they had done something to her, he was going to kill them.

In five seconds flat he was back at the main entryway, staring down at Dolohov. "We're missing a prisoner," he said flatly. "I want answers."

Dolohov shrugged, looking bored. "The Carrows dragged a girl into the interrogation room earlier," he replied, rolling his wand between his fingers with an air of indifference.

Without another word, Draco turned down the corridor in the opposite direction, gritting his teeth. He was definitely going to kill them.

Dark, terrible rage flared up within him as he kicked the door open and surveyed the scene within. Ginny was bound tightly to the chair in the centre of the room, her head hanging limply to the side. A large gash ran down the side of her face across her cheek, her nose was bloodied, and there was a nasty-looking bruise forming at the corner of her mouth. His heart clenched painfully at the sight.

"What is this?" Draco demanded, narrowing his eyes dangerously at the Carrows.

Alecto cackled gleefully while Amycus leered down at the girl bound in the chair.

"Weasley here was being a mouthy little bint," he growled. "We're just reminding her who's in charge here."

Draco took a breath and dug his nails into his palms, in an effort to keep his temper under control.

"I specifically ordered you not to touch the prisoners without my approval," he said levelly.

"Don't worry Malfoy, we didn't fuck up her mind or anything. Just giving her a little taste of what she can expect here if she doesn't shut her little--"

"I'll take it from here," Draco interrupted shortly. "The two of you are dismissed."

"Not so fast," Alecto cut in with a smirk. "We're here to interrogate the bitch too. Don't think you're the only one who gets to have some fun here."

She strode forward and backhanded Ginny across the face hard, making her head snap to the other side. Draco took a step forward angrily, but restrained himself just barely from leaping forward and blasting Alecto into the wall.

Ginny groaned painfully and raised her chin. Surprise registered in her brown eyes as her gaze fell on Draco, who stood motionless just behind the Carrows. His heart thudded erratically in his chest; it was the first time in three years he had looked into her eyes. They had once held so much love and understanding towards him, but now they were filled only with uncertainty, fear, and suspicion.

Draco looked away from her, only to see the Carrows staring back at him with cruel, hungry grins on their faces, clearly expecting him to make an impression on their new prisoner. He knew that he needed Amycus and Alecto out of the way before he could do anything to help Ginny. Perhaps if he gave them a convincing little display, they would be more inclined to follow his orders.

Forcing himself not to feel anything at all, Draco raised his wand numbly and pointed it directly at Ginny.

"Crucio."

His heart twisted painfully when she let out a strangled scream and doubled over in her chair, her body wracked with agony. Draco forced himself to hold his wand steady for as long as he could, trying to block out her terrible screams as she convulsed against her bonds. He hated himself for doing this, but he had to convince the Carrows that he was serious.

When Draco finally lowered his wand, Ginny took several ragged breaths before lifting her chin and glaring up at him through the red locks that had fallen into her face. She didn't look fearful or uncertain anymore; instead, her bright brown eyes were fierce and defiant as she stared up at him.

"Surely you can do better than that, Malfoy," she taunted, laughing harshly. "Or are you still as weak and cowardly as you've always been?"

He knew her animosity was warranted--he had just Crucio'd her, after all--but Draco still felt his face flush in anger and embarrassment at her words. They hit too close to home.

"I told you, Malfoy--she's a mouthy bint," Amycus growled, cracking his knuckles and stepping forward eagerly. "Let me at her--she's not going to be so insolent after I'm done with her."

Draco turned to the hulking man with an unpleasant smile on his face. "As I have already made clear, I am perfectly capable of handling this myself," he said coolly. "You, on the other hand, obviously cannot control your emotions. In fact, it's quite evident that your methods have failed spectacularly thus far--Weasley doesn't appear to be in the mood to talk. If you insist on continuing to interfere with my interrogation, I will be forced to have you removed." His tone was civil, pleasant even, but he made sure Amycus could not mistake the hostility in his icy stare.

Alecto stepped forward angrily, opening her mouth as if to defend her brother, but Draco cut her off with a dismissive wave.

"The same applies to you," he said levelly, his smile turning deadly. "Now leave, before I make the two of you regret it."

The three of them stood in silence for a long moment, staring each other down. Draco did not allow his hard gaze to waver. Finally, Amycus turned away with an angry snarl, storming out of the room. Alecto followed a moment later, face twisted in resentment. The door slammed shut behind them, leaving Draco alone with Ginny.

He remained facing the door, unable to bring himself to face her. There were so many things he wanted to say to her, so many questions he wanted to ask, but he hardly knew how to begin after all this time.

Ginny was the one to finally break the tense silence. "Just get it over with, won't you," she said caustically.

Draco turned around slowly, his emotions completely jumbled up inside of him. She hated him, of course--he had expected that--but he found that it still hurt, when he saw the pure loathing in her dark eyes.

"We both know you're not getting any information out of me, Malfoy," she spat. "So let me tell you exactly how this is going to go. You're going to torture me, insult me, threaten me, whatever. Well, let's get on with it. And after that, then what? Are you going to kill me? Hand me over to Voldemort?"

"Don't say his name!" Draco hissed, fear rising up automatically within him at the forbidden word.

To his surprise, Ginny only laughed scathingly. "So what if there's a Taboo on it. I'm already here in Death Eater headquarters, aren't I? There isn't anything worse that can happen to me anymore. I'm not afraid."

She had a fair point. But it still made him uncomfortable, hearing the Dark Lord's name uttered out loud. It was ridiculous, of course, but he felt as though Voldemort could be spying on him whenever the name was spoken.

Draco shook his head, lowering his voice so that the others outside could not hear him. "Listen, Weasley. I know you don't trust me right now. I don't expect you to. But I'm here to help you."

"I'm not going to play any mind games with you, Malfoy," Ginny scoffed, rolling her eyes. "Torture me if you want, kill me, I don't care."

"Stop being so bloody stubborn," he hissed under his breath. "I'm trying to get you out of here alive, so it would be in your best interests to cooperate with me here."

"So torture me," she repeated bluntly.

"Are you even listening to me? I said--"

"Don't you think we've been talking for long enough?" Ginny interrupted, lowering her voice as well. "The others will get suspicious. They're probably expecting to hear some screams coming from me right now."

Draco shook his head. "I'm not going to torture you, Weasley," he said flatly.

"You already have," she pointed out. "So it shouldn't be that hard."

If only she knew just how difficult it was...But she was right, of course--the Carrows would indeed begin to get suspicious and impatient soon. Until he had a more definite plan in mind, the only thing he could do for now was stall for time and hope the Carrows would move onto the other prisoners.

"I said torture me, Malfoy."

There was nothing else he could do. He hated feeling so helpless and useless. Draco forced his eyes to go unfocused and he stared determinedly at a spot on the wall far above her flaming hair. "Crucio."

Ginny cried out in pain, but Draco knew his curse was weak and half-hearted; already, he felt the magic dwindling as his wand shook in his hand.

"Is that your idea of torture?" she mocked loudly, as much for his benefit as for the others that were surely listening outside. "I knew you didn't have it in you, Malfoy--you're still a joke, just like you were at Hogwarts--"

"CRUCIO."

He focused his mind on Voldemort instead. Utter loathing filled his body completely and pure hatred rushed through his veins as he concentrated on the Dark Lord, on everything the monster had done to ruin his life. This time, Ginny's screams were louder, more anguished. Draco wavered slightly as the terrible sounds cut through his eardrums, sharp and painful as knives. He forced himself to block it out, closing his eyes and counting slowly to ten as the powerful Dark magic coursed down his arm and through his wand. There was only a dull ringing sound in his ears now.

When he finally lowered his wand, Draco couldn't bring himself to look at her. Instead, he continued to stare at the blank grey wall behind her, his heart in his throat and his stomach heaving violently.

"You should probably hit me now, or something," Ginny whispered after a few moments, her voice cracked and hoarse.

"I'm not going to hit you," he said through gritted teeth, finally glaring down at her.

Her face was drawn and pale, her breathing ragged, but the look on her face was still hard and determined. "Fine. Use a spell if you have to. They'll probably want to see some blood."

Draco stared back at her, wondering how far he was willing to let this go, wondering how far he could go. Already, he felt completely gutted and empty inside--he was going to lose his sanity if this continued. His wand remained slack at his side.

"You should probably break a bone or two," Ginny suggested calmly. "Maybe my arm, I think that might be easiest. You'd hardly need to use much force, if you twisted it the right way--"

"Ginny, stop it," he snapped.

"Or perhaps, Malfoy, you'd like to torture me in a different way instead?" Her lips twisted into a mocking smile. "Isn't that what you Death Eaters do? I seem to remember you used to quite enjoy a bit of bondage, didn't you?" She struggled lightly, purposefully against the ropes that bound her to the chair. The movement of her right arm caused her outer robe to slip off the smooth curve of her shoulder. Her shirt underneath was ripped, revealing the creamy freckled skin beneath.

"Stop it," he hissed, sickened by her implications but feeling his body respond to her all the same. He forced himself to keep his breathing even, but he couldn't control the way his heart beat faster in his chest or the tightening of his trousers. He hated himself for reacting this way, under these horrible circumstances, but he had no way of stopping his physical responses. She had always had that effect on him, and even after all these years, nothing seemed to have changed.

"And after you've had your fun with me," Ginny continued. "I guess you'll hand me over to your other fellow Death Eaters, and they can have their turn with me too, won't they?"

Draco flinched back. The blazing heat that had coursed through his veins a moment ago vanished, replaced by a deep revulsion as he forcefully stopped his mind from supplying the horrifying images her words had created. She was wrong--he would never let any of them touch her. Never.

"Don't say that," he said darkly.

Ginny scoffed. "That's what they would do to me anyways, after you're done with me here. I've heard what goes on in here, and I'm not deluded enough to believe I'm going to be spared from it all."

Draco stared at her. She was colder now, harder. He desperately tried to reconcile the free-spirited, ever-optimistic girl he remembered from Hogwarts with the bitter, cynical young woman sneering back at him defiantly from the chair.

No, she was still Ginny Weasley--stubborn, fierce, brave--but there was a cruel edge to her now that had not been there before. He shook his head wearily. "Merlin Ginny, what happened to you."

"The war happened to me, Malfoy," she replied flatly. "The war happened to all of us. Didn't it?"

Draco had to look away from her dark, haunted eyes. Yes, the war had destroyed every single one of them so utterly and devastatingly, each in different ways, but ruined them all the same.

He knew he had to get her out of here. Out of Malfoy Manor. He wasn't sure how he was going to do that without bringing down Voldemort's wrath on his head, but he would have to worry about that part later. First, he had to at least get her out of these dungeons, away from the Carrows and the other vicious Death Eaters. Even that seemed impossible without raising suspicions.

But perhaps...He nodded to himself. It might work. Her terrible words and cruel taunts had given him an idea.

"Listen, I have a plan," Draco said quietly. "You'll have to trust me."

Solemn brown eyes stared back up at him, but she didn't say a word.

He swallowed and took a deep breath. Then he flicked his wand, conjuring a dark black cloth that twisted across her eyes and tied into a neat knot behind her head. Another flick and a similar band pulled tightly across her mouth, gagging her. Ginny whimpered, but was unable to make any other sounds.

"I have to do this, Ginny."

Quickly, he untied her from the chair and pulled her up to a standing position. She wavered on her feet and nearly fell; Draco wrapped an arm around her waist to steady her, closing his eyes briefly at the sensation of her warm body pressed against his. He shook his head--this was no time to be distracted. Once she seemed to have found her footing, he let go of her and used his wand to once again bind her body with thick ropes, holding her arms securely behind her back.

"I have to do this," he repeated, feeling that perhaps it was more for his benefit than hers.

***

When he opened the door, he noticed that Dolohov had joined the Carrows outside the room, no doubt eager to listen in on the torture.

Draco lifted his chin and shoved Ginny roughly in front of him as he strode forward, staring down his nose at them imperiously. "She's a hard one to break. I'm bringing her upstairs to have a bit of fun with her," he said, letting just the right amount of innuendo slip into his voice so that they wouldn't miss his insinuation.

Alecto and Amycus sniggered, but Dolohov narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Draco.

"You've never been interested in those activities before, Malfoy," he remarked casually.

"Perhaps that would be because unlike you, I would never dirty myself with a Mudblood," Draco sneered, his voice cold. "Some of us have to maintain standards around here."

The older wizard flushed with anger at the thinly veiled insult, but Draco cut him off before he could speak.

"And not only is Weasley here a pureblood, she has rather close connections with the inner circle of the resistance," he continued in a commanding voice. "Besides which, she's known to have been Potter's whore. I think that would give me enough incentive to make an exception." He had to force the foul words from his mouth, trying not to let his disgust show on his face.

"Excellent," Amycus leered, grinning down at Ginny lasciviously. "We're all gonna enjoy the show, that's for sure."

Draco felt his stomach turn; he was going to be sick, he was utterly repulsed with himself. He could taste the bitterness of bile rising in the back of his throat, and knew he couldn't keep up this charade for much longer. "Once again, I have certain standards," he said, pointedly looking around at the dingy dungeon surroundings with disdain. "I am taking the prisoner upstairs."

He gave Ginny a violent shove forward; she stumbled and almost fell before he jerked her upright again with a flick of his wand.

"Walk," Draco commanded.

***

She collapsed onto the floor of his bedroom as soon as he released the ropes that bound her. Instinctively, Draco took a step forward to help her, but stopped himself before he could. He felt suddenly at a loss, not sure of where they stood now. Perhaps she didn't even want him to touch her. He hadn't meant all the cruel words that he'd said earlier, but she might not understand that.

Instead, he watched awkwardly from the door as Ginny gasped and coughed. She winced as she gingerly touched her cheeks and jaw; there were harsh red marks where the gag had been cruelly digging into her flesh moments before, and a wave of guilt surged through him.

"Weasley..." Draco cleared his throat and tamped down the urge to gather her in his arms and apologize. "Are you alright?" he finally asked stiffly. "I didn't want to hurt you." But he knew the words sounded hollow and fake, after everything he had done to her.

Ginny struggled to lift herself into a sitting position and looked up at him with her large brown eyes, managing a wry smile. "I know. It's alright. I've had worse," she said bravely. "It wasn't all that bad."

Draco raised an eyebrow at her skeptically.

"Well, it...it wasn't as painful as I tried to make it sound, anyways," she amended. "I'm okay now. Just give me a few minutes."

He nodded curtly, still feeling terrible, as she took deep breaths to steady herself. Draco looked away; he had done that to her. And despite what she'd said, he knew she still must be in significant pain.

After several minutes, he couldn't hold himself back anymore. When he took a step towards her, he noticed that she flinched away from him slightly. The movement pained him more than he wanted to admit.

"I'm not going to hurt you," Draco said. He leaned down to gently run his thumb over the ugly gash that ran along her cheek, cringing when Ginny made a pained whimper and pulled away. He brought his wand up, intending to heal her, but could only stare at it helplessly for several moments, not knowing where to begin. As a Death Eater he was well-trained in Dark curses and hexes, but he was no good at Healing spells.

Ginny seemed to notice his dilemma. "I can do it," she said. "I just need to...borrow your wand for a few minutes."

He nodded and held his wand out to her, but pulled it back a moment later when a sudden thought came to him.

She misread the gesture as a refusal and drew back, looking away stoically. "Never mind. I shouldn't have asked."

Draco shook his head. "No--you don't understand. I do trust you with my wand. But I have something better for you." He walked quickly over to his closet where his black cloak hung, then reached into the pocket to retrieve the object he had stowed there earlier.

He made his way back to Ginny and offered it to her. A look of surprised joy crossed her face when she recognized it as her own wand.

"Draco..." she breathed, accepting it gratefully with shaky fingers.

His heart skipped a beat; he hadn't realized how much he had missed hearing her say his name. "I found it during the battle," he explained. Suddenly he felt a pang of guilt--perhaps if he hadn't found her wand, hadn't found her, maybe she would still be safe. She wouldn't be stuck here, against her will, if it weren't for him. Draco swallowed and pushed those thoughts away.

"Thank you," Ginny said sincerely, placing a hand against the wall to support herself as she slowly pushed herself to a standing position. She was breathing heavily and wavered slightly on her feet, but managed to keep herself upright as she stumbled over to his tall floor-length mirror. "Ugh, I look terrible," she said with a self-deprecating laugh, making a face as she surveyed the damage. Her grimy clothes were torn and tattered, her face was battered and bruised, and her red hair was caked with dried blood while fresh blood oozed from the gash on her cheek.

Draco winced and looked away as Ginny carefully closed up her wounds with her wand. He searched for something to say--maybe reassuring words to comfort her--but it all seemed so inadequate under the circumstances, and he had never been good at comforting people anyways.

She muttered a few more spells to clean and mend her clothing before clearing her throat awkwardly. "I think...I'd really like a shower right now, if you don't mind."

Draco nodded. "Of course." He pointed towards the door that led into his bathroom.

"Thanks," Ginny mumbled. A moment later, the door clicked shut and Draco was left alone with his thoughts.

His mind worked feverishly and desperately, trying to think of a way to let Ginny escape without implicating himself in the process. But somehow, every single scenario ended with an enraged Voldemort torturing him until he begged for death. And then the Dark Lord would take vengeance on Lucius and Narcissa, sparing no mercy for them as he punished them cruelly for their son's crimes...

Draco let out a frustrated breath, running a hand through his hair. He would worry about that later. For now, he would keep Ginny safe in his room, under the guise of interrogating and torturing her for information. It was fortunate that both Voldemort and Lucius were preoccupied in Scotland at the moment--it gave him the precious time he needed to consider all his options and devise the perfect plan to help Ginny without the blame falling on his own shoulders.

Pushing those troubling thoughts from his mind, Draco set to work fortifying the wards on his bedroom, ensuring that no one else could enter the room, nor listen in on conversations. Although the upper floors of Malfoy Manor were strictly off-limits to the other Death Eaters, Draco didn't trust any of them further than he could hex them. He wouldn't put it past one of them to sneak up here and try to spy on him, or attempt to get a hold of Ginny.

Draco had just finished with the wards when the bathroom door opened again and Ginny stepped out, wrapped in one of his dark green bathrobes. It was clearly too large for her--she had rolled up the sleeves several times over and the hem trailed along the ground. Her face still looked bruised, but she had cleaned away all the blood, and her freshly washed hair was tied back in a bun.

"I borrowed one of your bathrobes," Ginny said. "I hope you don't mind."

Draco shook his head, his mouth going dry. He couldn't stop staring at her--her brilliant red hair and delicate freckles, her bright brown eyes, the pink blush in her cheeks, the curve of her slim shoulders underneath the thick material of the robe, the way her pale fingers nervously played with the sleeves.

He didn't think she had ever looked more beautiful.

"Your bathroom is huge," she commented with a weak laugh. "Now I know why you always complained about the dorm bathrooms at Hogwarts."

Draco didn't answer; he could only stare back at her, drinking in her appearance. It had been so long since he really had a chance to look at her, and it almost seemed surreal that she was finally standing in front of him.

Ginny took a deep breath, looking slightly unnerved by his continued silence. "Draco, I need to ask you something. And I want you to be honest with me."

He nodded, waiting for her to continue.

"You told me before that you didn't want Voldemort to win. Is that still true? Or has it changed, in the past three years?"

So she wanted to have one of those conversations. His lips twisted into a wry, mocking smile. "Does it matter? The Dark Lord will either kill Potter or he will be killed by Potter. We all know that by now. What I want doesn't make a difference, unfortunately."

Ginny watched him steadily. "It matters to me," she said quietly. "I need to know. Are you...on Voldemort's side now? A Death Eater?"

This time he let out a harsh laugh. "I've been a Death Eater since I turned sixteen, Ginny. You know that. So of course I'm on the Dark Lord's side."

She shook her head, unperturbed. "Not in the true sense, Draco. You know what I mean." She stepped forward, gazing up at him solemnly, and he found that he could not look away from her serious brown eyes. "You told me before that you hated Voldemort, that you wanted to see him dead. And you also told me that you couldn't kill, that you hated torturing, that you hated being a Death Eater."

Draco swallowed; he didn't want to examine all of his treasonous thoughts that would bring the Dark Lord's wrath down on him and his parentsHe had tried so hard in the past few years to bury those thoughts deep down inside him, because there was nothing to be gained from them except pain and death. "I told you many things, Ginny, when I was still young and foolish," he replied. "People change."

"People do," she agreed. "But you still haven't answered my question."

"Why does it matter so much to you, Ginny?"

"I thought it wouldn't, after--" She broke off abruptly, biting her lip and looking away, but he knew what she was referring to.

After all, he himself had decided to put the past behind him after they had last confronted each other at the Battle of Hogwarts...Only to find out how impossible that really was.

"You broke my heart years ago, Draco," Ginny said finally.

You broke mine too, he thought silently. But he didn't say anything.

"And after that, I didn't want it to matter, I didn't want to care, anymore." She shook her head. "But somehow, I did. I've wondered about it--about you--constantly since the last time I saw you." She squared her shoulders, steadying herself, before glancing up at him fiercely. "You don't want Voldemort to win, do you," she repeated, but this time it was more of a statement than a question.

Draco slumped his shoulders forward wearily, finally giving in. "You know I don't," he replied hollowly. "I still hate serving the Dark Lord. I can't kill. I'm disgusted by the torture. I hate this whole war."

"Then I don't understand, Draco--why didn't you come with me, back then? I offered you a way out! I thought you wanted to leave Voldemort and the Death Eaters, I thought you hated them!" Her voice rose in volume as her temper flared, her cheeks flushing bright red.

"You knew that wasn't an option," he retorted angrily. "I couldn't leave my family."

"I told you the Order could protect them!"

Draco snorted. "You clearly overestimate the importance and the abilities of your Order," he sneered. "Not to mention, my father would never agree to beg for protection from a group of blood traitors and Mudbloods--"

"Don't you dare!" Ginny cut in furiously.

Draco broke off, immediately regretting his choice of words. He had forgotten how terrible they could be, the words that were thrown so carelessly around among the Death Eaters that they hardly even registered with him anymore. But with Ginny glaring back at him, hands clenched tightly at her sides and eyes flashing dangerously, he knew that he had crossed a line.

"I didn't mean that," he said in a low voice, looking away. "Those are my father's words. But I'm not my father...You told me that once." He wondered if she remembered that night--a dark winter evening when the two of them stood together and watched the snow fall silently down around Hogwarts. It had been many moons ago, during a simpler time; it felt like a lifetime ago.

"Yes, I did," Ginny replied quietly, although there was still a hard edge to her voice.

"Do you still believe that?" he asked, finally turning his head to look at her again.

She stepped forward and placed a hand on his arm, staring directly into his eyes. "Yes, I do."

His skin burned under her soft touch, his heart racing; silently, he cursed himself for still being so affected by her presence. "Even after I Crucio'd you?" he asked harshly. "After you've seen what atrocities I'm really capable of, in the Dark Lord's service these past few years?"

"Yes," she said firmly. "Because I know that you didn't want to. You don't really believe in Voldemort's 'cause'..." She made a face of disgust. "...And I know if you had a choice, you wouldn't be here." She shook her head. "Look, Draco, I know you don't think you had any choice in all of this, but the truth is, you do. You always did--in fact, you still do now--"

Draco pulled himself away forcefully. "You don't understand at all, Weasley--you never did." His voice was flat and devoid of emotion, but his heart clenched painfully in his chest as he replayed the bitter memory of their last meeting in his mind. "And don't forget, you refused me, too. I asked you go into hiding with me so you wouldn't have to risk your life in this stupid war, I told you I could protect you. I nearly begged you to come with me, but you just threw it all back in my face."

"You knew that wasn't really an option," Ginny said softly, repeating his own words from earlier.

"It was. You were just too much of an idiotic Gryffindor to take it," Draco mocked. He kept his face impassive, even though he wanted to rage at her for acting as though this was all his fault. He wanted to yell at her for putting herself in danger unnecessarily, accuse her of being so heartless towards him and throwing away everything he had offered her. The pain in his heart blazed white-hot. "If you had listened to me, you wouldn't have been at Hogwarts today. You wouldn't be trapped here."

Ginny shook her head, and he could almost feel the tangible ache in her words when she finally spoke again. "I couldn't leave behind my family, everyone I loved, and run like a coward. And I think I finally understand you now...You're right that I never really did before, and I'm sorry for that. But we're the same, Draco--we're both tied to our families more than anything. I shouldn't have blamed you for it just because your father is on the opposite side. So I guess it wasn't fair of me to ask you to do something that I could never do, either."

Her forlorn admission caused the anger to drain out of him completely, replaced by a weary sense of hopelessness and loss as he realized the truth of her words. A sharp pang cut through his heart at the broken look of sadness on her face. "I'm sorry too," Draco said quietly, and it was one of the rare times that he truly meant those words.

Ginny gave him a small smile. "You know, a small part of me is almost happy to be here...with you."

His heart leaped at her words. It was ridiculous, how the smallest things she said or did still meant so much to him.

"I don't want to dwell on the past anymore," she continued. "But sometimes I wonder what would have happened between us, if it weren't for the war. I wasn't refusing you, Draco--please believe that. I wanted, so badly, for you to stay with me. I just couldn't leave with you, because that meant abandoning my friends. I needed to stay and fight the war against Voldemort. Most of all...I couldn't leave my family."

Her voice broke on that last word, and Draco's thoughts turned unwillingly to her lost family members--her dead brothers.

He thought of Charlie Weasley. The terrible guilt once again began to spread darkly from the deepest recesses of his mind, threatening to overwhelm him.

"I'm sorry about your brother," he said, his throat tight. "I know you must have been hit hard by his death."

Ginny visibly faltered, but shook her head. "That was a long time ago," she said, trying to put on a brave face. "It hasn't been the same without Fred...but we've learned to cope."

"No--I meant the older one, the one named Charlie."

She sucked in a sharp breath, eyes widening. "Charlie? You've seen him? Is he being held here too?"

With a sinking heart, Draco realized that she didn't know. Her brother had been dead for four months, and she had been in the dark this entire time.

"No. He's not here," he said slowly. He didn't want to be the one to break the news to her, but once again, it seemed that he had no choice. "He's dead, Ginny. He's been dead since the December raid in Diagon Alley."

Ginny turned away. "No," she said, shaking her head. "No. He can't be. You're wrong. No one knows where he is..."

"I was there," Draco said, as gently as he could. "I saw him."

She whirled around. "You...you..." Her voice seemed to fail her. "You saw him?"

"Yes. But it was too late by then. There was nothing I could do."

She stood there as if paralyzed, a blank look in her eyes.

Draco looked down, running a hand through his hair angrily. "No. That's not true. I keep lying to myself. But I can't lie to you. No. It wasn't too late. I could have done something. I saw him duelling, in front of me. I saw the first spell that hit him, that sent him sprawling helpless to the ground. And then I saw the Death Eater standing above him, and pointing his wand right at his heart, and utter the Killing Curse, and then I saw the jet of green light hit him square in the chest. So I could have done something, after the first spell hit, I could have. I should have. But I didn't."

"Oh."

Draco glanced up at her, cautiously--her response seemed so inadequate. Ginny still stood there motionless, staring back at him numbly. He wondered if she were in a state of shock.

And then, abruptly, something inside her seemed to snap. Her eyes blazed hot and angry, and before Draco could react she had launched herself at him suddenly, grabbing fistfuls of his shirt and shaking him violently.

"You're lying!" she screamed.

He knew that she didn't mean it, that she was overcome by grief, but the accusation still stung, when he had never been anything but honest with her. "Your brother--Ron--he was there too. And Granger. I thought they would have told you by now--"

"They didn't! No one ever tells me anything--"

Now she was pounding her fists on his chest in anguish. Draco simply stood there, letting her beat at him repeatedly, barely registering the dull pain of the blows.

"I just don't understand why! Why everything's so messed up right now--why you have to be a Death Eater, why you were there, why they killed him, why...Charlie..." Her voice trailed off into a broken sob. Hot tears overflowed from her eyes and spilled down her cheeks, soaking through his thin shirt where she leaned her head against him.

"I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!"

"I know," he said, resigned sadness in his voice. He wanted to wrap his arms around her and tell her everything would be okay, but that would be a lie. So he simply stood there and listened silently to her strangled sobs.

It felt like a lifetime before her tears finally ran dry and the exhaustion of grief took over. Her fists slowed; she hit him in the chest once, twice, three more times, half-heartedly, and then she slumped limply against him. Her fingers clutched desperately at the ruined fabric of his dark shirt, now wrinkled and wet from her tears.

"I hate you," she whispered weakly, her voice muffled against his chest.

"I know. I know." Draco leaned down to brush away strands of fiery hair that had fallen across her tear-stained face, his heart twisting painfully. He wished that he could somehow wipe away her pain, make her forget the terrible losses that she had suffered because of the war.

And then she lifted her face and somehow her lips were on his, and she was kissing him fiercely. He heard her moan in the back of her throat as she parted her soft lips for him, and he couldn't think anymore as he tangled his tongue with hers, thoroughly exploring her hot mouth. Every inch of his skin burned, fire coursing through his veins; the world spun dizzily as he buried his fingers in her flaming hair. Her soft curves pressed hotly against the length of his body and her light fingers clutched desperately at his chest through his tear-soaked shirt. Then she ground her hips against his and Draco felt suddenly lightheaded as all the blood rushed straight to his groin.

The next thing he knew, her fingers had slipped underneath his trousers and she was stroking him through his boxers. Draco broke the kiss with a loud groan; it was almost too much to bear.

"Merlin, Ginny--" his voice was strangled as she gripped him firmly in her hand.

He hadn't meant for it to get this far, but the situation was rapidly spiralling out of his control. Ginny was working magic with her nimble fingers and he found himself unable to form a coherent thought.

Draco tried to pull himself away from her but his body did not seem to be listening. "Stop--Ginny, wait--"

Ginny ignored him; somehow, she managed to tear his shirt completely open and her lips were on his bare chest. "I need you, Draco."

Her breathless demand was his undoing. Unable to hold back any longer, he pulled on the tie of her bathrobe. It fell open loosely, revealing the smooth curve of her creamy breasts. With a groan, Draco ripped the robe open completely and pushed her backwards onto his bed.

Ginny gasped and shivered under his touch. He palmed her breasts with one hand while his other slid down her stomach underneath the band of her knickers, and then he slipped his fingers through her slick flesh. She was so wet for him, so ready; he barely managed to restrain himself from simply tearing her knickers off, shoving her knees apart and taking her right then and there.

He slid one finger inside her, hearing her breath hitch. She felt amazing. Ginny arched into his hand, biting down on her lip as if trying to stop herself from crying out. But when he pushed in further, rubbing against the sensitive spot inside her, she was unable to prevent the low moan that escaped from the back of her throat. The sound went straight to his groin.

"Scream as loud as you want, Gin," Draco breathed into her ear. "They won't be able to hear you." He added a second finger, using his other hand to hold her hips down, and was rewarded by a breathless whimper.

Smirking, he trailed a hot tongue down her body, licking and sucking his way down to her centre. Ginny was helpless under the double onslaught and it didn't take long before she was crying out in bliss, her body wracked by powerful spasms. Draco felt himself become even harder as she convulsed around his hand; the need to bury himself inside of her was overwhelming. It had been too long.

Fortunately, Ginny seemed to be thinking the same thing. "I need you inside me right now," she gasped.

Draco didn't need any more urging. Spreading her legs apart, he pushed into her, closing his eyes at the indescribable sensation of being surrounded by her heat. Merlin she was tight...just as hot and wet and good as he had remembered.

"Wait, Draco--" Ginny let out a small whimper as she clutched at his shoulders.

Her voice didn't quite register through the haze in his mind and it took several seconds before he opened his eyes, only to see her wincing slightly. With difficulty, he forced himself to stop moving.

"What?" he asked in confusion.

"It's just..." She blushed and looked away, not meeting his gaze. Draco had to hold back a groan when Ginny shifted slightly underneath him. She felt so incredibly good and it was torture to stay still for so long; he didn't understand why she had made him stop.

"Just go slow, okay?"

"What's wrong?" he asked. "Does it...hurt?" He was more confused than ever; he remembered that it had been painful for her their first time together, but there had never been any issues after that.

Ginny shook her head gently. "No, not really. You feel so good. But...it's been a long time for me. I just need a bit of time to adjust."

Draco stared down at her, a strange feeling bursting in his chest. "You haven't done this in a long time?"

She blushed even deeper. "Well, yeah."

"How long?"

"It's been three years," she mumbled.

He blinked. Three years. They had been apart for that long. Did that mean she hadn't been with Potter, all this time? Not that he had really let himself think about it...But part of him had always assumed that she'd happily reunited with the four-eyed git.

"What about Potter?" he asked stupidly, not quite sure what to think. It didn't help that his brain wasn't quite functioning completely at the moment.

"Not that it's any of your business, but no, I didn't," she snapped with annoyance.

"Why not?" He knew he was killing the mood, but the need to know was insistent.

"I never got back together with him," she replied shortly. "It didn't feel right."

"And--there wasn't anyone else either?"

Ginny huffed and glared up at him. "Obviously not. Now will you just bloody shut up and get on with it?"

Draco sucked in a breath when she clenched around him. "Fuck," he gasped, gritting his teeth and closing his eyes in an attempt to regain control.

"Yes, that is the general idea," she remarked dryly.

When he finally calmed down enough to open his eyes, he saw that Ginny was looking up at him with amusement in her brown eyes, the corner of her lip twitching as if she were trying to suppress a laugh. He narrowed his eyes and leaned down to give her a rough bite on the soft skin where her neck joined her shoulder, making her gasp.

"Witch," he muttered. He began thrusting into her again, taking care to be as gentle as possible. Somehow it felt different, knowing that she had never moved on with anyone else--that she had, in a way, waited for him all these years when he'd thought she hated him. He wondered if it meant that she had never been able to get over him, just like he had never been able to let go of her, even though he had desperately tried.

It felt like an agonizing eternity before he finally buried himself to the hilt inside of her. Draco let out a shaky breath; it was amazing to be completely sheathed by her. The sensation of her heat enveloping him was overwhelming, but he forced himself to remain still.

That turned out to be impossible when Ginny began arching her hips against him desperately, increasing the friction between their bodies. He began to move in and out, trying to be as gentle as possible for her sake, but the urge to increase the pace was too difficult to resist. When Ginny made a delicious little noise halfway between a gasp and a whimper, he couldn't help but plunge deep.

Ginny let out a low moan and wrapped her legs around him. "Harder," she demanded, biting his shoulder.

He was only too happy to comply. Her head fell to the side, eyes closed against the overwhelming sensations, and Draco took the opportunity to suck at the sensitive spot on her neck as he began slamming into her in earnest.

"Yes, Draco..."

His name sounded amazing from her lips and he wondered how he had ever managed to go three years without hearing it.

"God, I've missed this," she gasped, meeting his every thrust as he set a relentless rhythm.

Draco brought a hand up to her face, running his thumb gently across her nose and cheek. "I've missed you," he said honestly.

Ginny opened her eyes to stare deeply into his for a moment, before leaning up to capture his lips in a fierce kiss. He was absolutely lost within her; he could feel the pressure building and knew he wouldn't be able to last much longer.

"Draco..."

Hearing her call out his name with a look of pure ecstasy on her face made him lose control completely. He gripped her hips tightly as he pumped into her without rhythm, overcome by the explosion of pleasure and powerful emotions surging through his body.

***

They lay on his bed together, Ginny nestled against his shoulder, her hair tickling his chin. The sky was dark and cold outside, but a satisfied warmth suffused his entire body.

"I've missed you too," she said finally, in a quiet voice. "I've missed you so, so much." She turned to look up at him from under soft red lashes that fringed her beautiful dark eyes. "And I didn't mean that. What I said earlier."

Draco looked back at her, one eyebrow raised in slight confusion.

"When I said I hated you, I mean," she clarified. "I didn't mean that."

He nodded. "I know."

"I don't hate you. I've never hated you." Ginny shook her head. "Not at all. How could I. I've tried--Merlin knows I've tried, over the years. I told myself it would be easier if I hated you. But I could never manage it."

Draco nodded, at a loss for words. He remembered how he had tried to forget her, and how he'd even managed to convince himself that he had succeeded. But now it was clear that he never had, and never would.

"I don't hate you, Draco," she whispered. "I love you."

His heart thumped wildly in his chest. He hadn't realized how much he had missed hearing her say those three words--how much he had needed to hear them again.

"Do you?" He searched her eyes desperately. He had thought he would never hear her say those words again.

Ginny met his gaze steadily and nodded seriously. "Always."

He wanted to say it back. He always did, and yet he never could. He had tried, but every time, the words stuck in his throat and died on his lips.

Instead, Draco tilted his head and pressed a kiss to her lips. "I won't let them hurt you. I'm going to get you out of here," he promised.

Ginny smiled sadly at him with a slight shake of her head. "It's alright, Draco. You don't have to say that. I knew when I was brought here that I probably wouldn't get out alive."

Draco opened his mouth to protest, but was silenced by Ginny's finger against his lips.

"Don't. I just want to pretend, for tonight, that everything's okay. I want to forget about everything else." She closed her eyes and relaxed against his chest. Soon, her breathing became quiet and even.

But Draco lay awake for a long time afterwards, staring up at the dark canopy of his bed. He was going to prove her wrong.

"I will get you out of here, Ginny," he whispered into the dark. "No matter what it takes."


Part III

"It's been a week, Malfoy," Amycus growled impatiently. "You've taken long enough. Did you get anything out of her or not?"

Both the Carrows were glaring up at him with accusatory looks.

"I hardly think you're in any position to be questioning me," Draco said coolly.

The truth was, he had been somewhat neglecting his duties. He'd let the Carrows handle the other prisoners as they wished, telling them that he wanted to focus on Ginny. It was true enough, in a way.

"Perhaps you should be paying more attention to your own prisoners," Draco continued. "I heard that one of the wretched Mudbloods hung herself the other day in her cell, before you could even begin questioning her. Now we'll never be able to get any use out of her. What a pity."

"That wasn't our fault!" Alecto argued, flushing an angry red. "And so what if we lost that one. Good riddance to the Mudblood!"

"Yeah," Amycus chimed in. "Who cares about her, she probably didn't know a fucking thing anyways. We did have old Kirkwood there screaming for mercy and spilling his guts out in less than an hour. So what's the hold-up with Weasley? Losing your touch, eh, Malfoy?"

"Clearly Weasley's much stronger mentally than Kirkwood. It takes time and patience to break certain prisoners. A concept that has always eluded the two of you," Draco scoffed. "She will also no doubt provide us with far more valuable information in the end."

"You've had time enough. I think it's time we bring her down here and make an example of her in front of the other prisoners," Alecto sneered.

"I couldn't care less about what you think," Draco said icily. "And unfortunately for you, I'm the one in charge here."

Amycus narrowed his eyes angrily. "Maybe so, but you're gonna be in for a shitload of trouble all the same if you don't come up with anything soon. The Dark Lord isn't going to be very happy with you," he taunted.

"How nice to see you're so very concerned for my well-being," Draco replied, voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Well, how much longer will it take?" Alecto demanded. "We've gone long enough without something good to give the Lord."

"I complete my tasks on my own time," Draco said indifferently. He was done dealing with those two. Without a second glance back, he turned away and strode up the stairs.

***

"If they're starting to get suspicious, maybe you could tell them some things," Ginny said. "So they'll believe you're making progress, at least."

She lay on her stomach under the covers, her chin propped in one hand as she looked back at him worriedly.

Draco raised an eyebrow. "Are you suggesting you'll sell out the Order and your family?" he asked skeptically.

"Of course not!" she snapped. "You could just...feed them a bit of false information or something. Maybe some harmless stuff."

"No, that won't work. They're going to go running to the Dark Lord with the information, and the damn bastard is too smart to fall for that. It'll just make things worse, because he'll be furious that we bothered him with useless information." Draco shook his head, bringing up a hand to brush her crimson hair behind her shoulder. "Besides, it would just draw attention to you. That's the last thing I want. It'd be best to just get you of here as soon as possible."

Draco knew he had been putting that off--and he knew he was being selfish, because it was partly due to him wanting to keep her here with him for as long as possible. But it was also because it was such a daunting task. Quite honestly, he wasn't sure how he was going to pull it off without facing the wrath of Voldemort himself. How would he explain that he let a valuable prisoner escape under his watch? No matter how he played it, it would still be ultimately his fault, and the Dark Lord was not merciful.

"How are you going to help me escape without getting in trouble yourself?" Ginny asked, as if reading his thoughts.

Draco shrugged. "I'll think of something. Don't worry about it."

Ginny lifted herself further up and pinned him with a glare. "No, don't you pull that crap with me. I'm not going to let you put yourself in danger," she said fiercely.

With a weary sigh, Draco sank back against his pillows and stared up at the canopy of his bed with his hands behind his head. It all seemed so hopeless.

After a few moments of silence, Ginny spoke up again, sounding thoughtful. "You know what would be easiest? Just hand me over to them. They won't expect me to have my wand, so I can catch them by surprise, disarm them and escape. Then it'll look like it's all their fault instead of yours, so--"

"No," Draco said flatly. "Absolutely not."

Ginny made a frustrated noise. "I can handle myself!"

Draco gave her a wry smile. "I know you can, Gin. But there are just too many things that could go wrong. The stakes are too high, and it's far too risky. I can't let you do that. There's got to be a better way..."

And then, an idea suddenly occurred to him.

"Wait--I've got it. I could blame it all on the house-elf," Draco said slowly, wondering why he hadn't thought of it before. "I'll pretend to know nothing. And they're absolutely loyal to their masters, so there won't be any danger of betrayal."

He turned to Ginny with a smug smirk on his face, rather pleased with his plan. Unfortunately, she didn't seem quite as impressed.

"Are you serious?" she said indignantly. "That's despicable."

Draco rolled his eyes. "Is this about Granger's stupid spew thing? Because anyone with half a brain knows that project was just the height of idiocy," he sneered.

"It has nothing to do with S.P.E.W.!" Ginny snapped. "It's completely unfair to let an innocent creature take the blame for something they didn't do. Especially if the poor house-elf is going to end up at Voldemort's mercy. It'll be tortured horribly and then what? Beheaded?"

"Probably," Draco shrugged. "But it's a house-elf. That thing will probably be thrilled and honoured to serve its master in such a useful way."

Ginny stared at him with a look of disgust. "Absolutely not. I'm not going to let an innocent house-elf be tortured and killed because of me. I'd rather die here. And I can't believe you think it's a good idea--I thought, after seeing the atrocities Voldemort is capable of, you would realize how awful some of those prejudices are."

She shot him one last glare before turning her back to him, angrily throwing back the covers and pushing herself out of the bed. Draco frowned and sat up, watching her silently as she made her way to the window with her arms crossed in front of her. He had spent so much time with the other Death Eaters lately that he had forgotten how sensitive Ginny was about these things. About treating everyone fairly, whether they were Half-bloods, Mudbloods, Squibs, Muggles, or even these non-human creatures that most wizards deemed to be beneath them.

It was frustrating--she had always made him question these things, and he honestly wasn't sure how he should be feeling about that. It had always been easier to simply accept the values that Lucius had constantly instilled in him from an early age, ignoring any doubts about whether they were right or wrong. It was a necessity, really, to survive as a Death Eater. But now he found himself wondering again, and those thoughts were rather disconcerting.

"Alright," Draco said at last. "I won't get the house-elf involved. It was a stupid idea." And it probably wouldn't have worked anyways, when he thought about it more carefully. After all, Voldemort could probably torture the truth out of the thing, and would likely notice if any memories were altered. He could only trust himself with such a secret.

Ginny finally looked back at him, although the stiff set of her shoulders indicated that she was still rather miffed with him. "Good."

"There's one more thing," Draco said reluctantly. "I'm having dinner with my mother today, and I'll be...away, after that. Don't wait up tonight--I'm not sure how long it will take."

Ginny was quiet for several moments. "Are the Death Eaters planning another raid?" she finally asked.

Draco nodded, not quite able to meet her eyes.

"Is your father going too?"

"Well, Father has been staying in Scotland the past few days anyways. So he can better serve the Dark Lord and all that crap. But yes, he'll probably be there tonight. Most of us have to go, except for the Carrows--they'll be down keeping guard in the dungeons as usual."

"Oh."

She was staring resolutely outside now, watching the rain beat against the glass. Her fingers were clutching the windowsill so tightly her knuckles turned white; he could tell she was making a great effort to keep herself calm. It must be killing her, to be trapped in here while the war raged on outside. But there was really no other choice--he couldn't even risk letting her out of his room for fear that the other Death Eaters would find her. Ginny had asked the other day if she could spend some time in the library, but he'd had to refuse; it was simply too dangerous. The best he could do was to bring her some books so she at least had something to read while he was gone.

"Ginny..."

She didn't glance back at him this time. Her jaw was set in a rigid line.

Draco sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Look, I know you hate this. And I know it's not easy for you to be stuck here--I'm sure you'd rather be out there fighting and all that."

Ginny made a noncommittal noise in the back of her throat.

He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood, walking towards her. "It won't be for long, though. I'll find a way for you to get out of here, I promise. I just want to keep you safe."

She finally turned around to face him, her expression softening. "You're right," she sighed, wrapping her arms around herself. "I do want to be out there. I'm worried about my friends and family. And I just feel so useless here. But...I like being here with you, too." She shook her head and looked down at her feet. "Even though I know it's dangerous for you to keep me here. Sometimes I think I've almost managed to forget that there's still a war going on. Does that make me a horrible person?"

Draco stepped forward, placing a finger underneath her chin to tilt her face up. There was guilt, and worry, and confusion in her dark, sad eyes. "No. I try to forget too. I think that's the only way to cope with all of it, most of the time."

"Yeah. I guess so," Ginny said, though she still looked troubled. "And if you see anyone tonight that..." she trailed off and shook her head tightly. "Never mind."

"What?"

"No, it's not fair to you."

He had an inkling of what she wanted to ask. "I won't kill anyone on your side tonight. I can't. You know that."

Ginny nodded jerkily.

"And, I'll do what I can, if I...come across your brothers. Or your friends. Alright?"

She bit her lip, looking conflicted. "Draco...Look, I don't blame you for what happened to Charlie." Her voice cracked and she took a deep breath before continuing. Once more, Draco felt a deep pang of guilt.

"I wish it had been different, of course," she said. "I wish you had stopped them. But I don't want you to put yourself in any danger either. Damn it, I'm just so mixed up inside right now!" She made a frustrated noise and kicked the wall angrily. "I'm sorry, Draco. I just don't know what to do. Sometimes I hate myself here."

He didn't have an answer for her. So instead, Draco leaned down to brush a soft kiss across her lips. He couldn't help deepening it when she moaned softly in the back of her throat and reached forward to pull him closer. Her lips were soft and warm under his...and he knew where this would lead if he didn't stop now.

Unwillingly, he broke away and stepped back. "I have to go," he said reluctantly.

Ginny nodded worriedly. "Take care of yourself, Draco. I'll see you tomorrow?"

If I make it through tonight alive, he thought darkly.

But he simply nodded. "Tomorrow."

***
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