The whole of the Great Hall seemed to be quite noisier than usual as Ron Weasley crooked his neck to try to catch a good look at every male in the population. Why wouldn't these people sit down? He glanced to the Ravenclaw table. Terry Boot? Michael Corner? She'd dated him after all. Maybe Anthony Goldstein? None of the choices really caught him as a choice Ginny would make. Of course, getting pregnant didn't seem all that Ginny-ish either. Ron's eyes whipped around to the Hufflepuff table. Justin Finch-Fletchley looked quite content downing his meal. Of course, so did Wayne Hopkins and Ernie Macmillan. Ron wasn't sure a Hufflepuff would have it in him to be so calm, cool, and collected with the thought of the entire clan of Weasleys breathing down their necks. Calm. Cool. Collected. Ron immediately turned his head to the Slytherin table. That had to be it. It was a Slytherin! But...Ginny wouldn't do that. Would she? Then again, Ginny surprised him more often than he let on. The thought of Crabbe or Goyle anywhere near his sister almost made Ron laugh. Even if she was pregnant, she wasn't stupid. Malfoy sat between them, seemingly studying his dinner. That's right, you bloody prat! Look for the poison. Someone'll do it one of these days! Ron thought with a slow smile. Blaise Zabini sat across from Malfoy, looking somewhat anxious. Was it Zabini? Ron's fist curled into a tight ball until he saw a spoonful of pudding fly out of Goyle's spoon and barely miss Zabini's shoulder as it landed smoothly in the back of Megan Jones' hair. Nott seemed to be sitting off to the side, always the loner. Ron eyed him for a moment and decided Slytherin just wasn't Ginny's style. But what was Ginny's style? As if a Bludger had hit him in the head, Ron turned his paranoid eyes to his own table. Colin Creevey seemed to hang around Ginny quite a bit. Then there were Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas. She'd dated both of them, briefly. No, Seamus was out. She'd already almost lost Lavender as a friend once. Ginny wouldn't do that. Neville Longbottom? He wouldn't know how. "Ron? What are you looking at?" Ron's eyes opened as wide as the platters before him. Harry! Ginny had been chasing Harry for...well...since before she'd even met him! He turned accusatory eyes towards his friend – ex-friend – at which Harry threw up his arms. "It wasn't me, I swear it." "Then how did you know what I was thinking?" Ron asked. His eyes narrowed marginally. Hermione placed a hand on Ron's shoulder gently. "Everyone knows what you're thinking. At least, everyone that knows. You know if Ginny wanted you to know, she'd tell you. Getting yourself upset like this isn't helping anyone." "I'm going to kill him when I find out who it is," Ron announced after a moment's thought. "Maybe that's why she won't tell you," Harry said. "Maybe she really likes this person." Hermione nodded emphatically, realizing too late that it drew Ron's attention to her. "What do you know?" Hermione jumped at the low calmness of his voice. "I don't think this it's any of our business." She felt instantly guilty. Harry and Hermione were relieved when Ron's attention went back to studying the tables of the Great Hall. At least it kept him occupied. He'd been understandably temperamental since Ginny had hit him with the news of her pregnancy. Harry and Hermione weren't sure how much more they could take, and it had only been a few hours. ~*~ Ginny sat quietly against the wall of an empty corridor. She wasn't altogether sure where she was, but then again it didn't really matter. She was away from people. Away from Ron. The look on his face when she'd broken the news had instantly rivaled her mother's. The disappointment. The anger. The self-accusation. She couldn't bear to look at him through dinner. It didn't matter anyway; most of what she ate came right back up. Skipping the evening meal had seemed the most logical solution. She pulled her knees up to her chin and held her legs snuggly against her. She'd have to face him sometime; she knew that. Eventually all of this would get easier. But now? Now everything was going too fast. She'd only just found out and already hurt so many people. Her mother. Ron. Hermione. Draco. Draco. She pushed one hand over her stomach and rested it there gently, wanting more than anything to cry. It must have been the hormones. Closing her eyes, she could see everything she dreamed so clearly. If Draco were anyone but Draco, things would be so much easier. They could be married and maybe have a small cottage like the Burrow. They'd raise their baby to be good and kind with love and discipline, just as her mother had done. But Draco wasn't anyone else. He was Draco Malfoy. Ginny wouldn't let her baby pay for her mistakes. She'd seen the good in him, but all the while she'd known she would be the only person to see it. She'd always known what they had was nothing more than a fling. Regardless of the love she felt, and maybe he felt it too, she'd known it couldn't turn into anything more. So why had she done this? Why had she let things get so far? She sniffed, suddenly, and threw her head back. She wouldn't cry. She would never cry. It was her own fault! All she could do was be strong for herself and for the baby. And that's exactly what she would do. Opening her eyes, Ginny became aware of the green robes in front of her. Slowly she looked up, following the green material, until she met a pair of sympathetic silver eyes. A small, sad smile graced her lips before she could stop it. "So much for being alone," she whispered. "You don't look like you need to be alone," he whispered back, holding his hand out to help her up. Ginny looked at him in shock, before accepting the proffered hand and pulling herself to her feet. Was this really Draco? "I told Ron and my mother," she blurted out. "I know," Draco replied, though he wouldn't look at her. "I saw him glaring at everything that moved in the Great Hall. You didn't tell him it was me?" "No." "Why not?" He noticed her hands were cold, likely from sitting so long on the stone floor, and rubbed them with his own to warm them. "I didn't think it was any of his business." Draco nodded and quietly led her down the hall. Without another word, he led her up a few flights of stairs, confident that the remainder of the student body was still engrossed in eating, until he reached the seventh floor. A moving tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy came into full view. It was then Ginny knew where they were headed. The Room of Requirement. "We need to talk," he told her. "We already talked," she replied, attempting to pull her hand from his. He kept a strong hold, and as they entered the room, Ginny saw a fireplace glowing warm orange. A leather couch adorned one wall of the small space with a small mahogany table sitting in front of it. On the table sat a plate of food and two glasses of pumpkin juice. Ginny was quite glad to see it as she was starting to regret missing dinner. Draco only let go of her hand when he was sure she'd stay and eat. He leaned against the wall as he watched her practically shovel food to her mouth and laughed. "Slow down before you choke." Ginny looked up, pink tingeing her cheeks as she realized how obviously pathetic she must look. "What did you want to talk about?" She noticed the rigidity of his muscles as he sat next to her on the couch. A small smile graced her as she basked in the wonderment of him; only he could make such an obviously awkward situation seem so...simple. "Have you seen Pomfrey yet?" he asked. His voice was as trained as his face; it never showed emotion unless he wanted it to. It made him impossibly irritating when she was trying to figure out what he was up to. "Yeah." Ginny nodded. "Well?" Ginny rolled her eyes. "Would it hurt you to ask how I am? Or how the baby is?" "I just did."

"No, I believe you said 'well,' which does not constitute 'how are you.'" Draco's lip curled up in what they both knew was a general look of annoyance. "Fine then, how are you?" "Well, since you asked," Ginny smiled sweetly, "I'm sick to death about every day. I'm too tired to go to class and do homework, so my grades are dropping. My brother can barely look at me, my mother is disappointed, and I don't even want to think of the rest of them. And to top it all off, I have no idea what I'm going to do with a baby by myself. But, other than that, I'm great. What about you?" Annoyance once again flashed over Draco's face. "If that was meant to make me feel guilty, it won't work." "Of course it won't," she snapped. "You'd have to feel something to feel guilty." "Would that be a touch of sexual frustration, I hear?" Draco asked, his face donning the most irritating smirk. "Of course not!" Her lips twisted into a pretty little pout. "It's so easy for you, isn't it? You don't have to take any of this seriously. You don't have to do anything. It's all me now. Well, I didn't do this by myself, you know." "Yeah, I remember." Before Ginny knew it was happening, his long, aristocratic fingers were splayed across her belly. She'd done well in forgetting for a while how good his touch felt, but it all flooded back. It didn't feel like the familiar sexual sensation she felt sometimes, but just a warm, fuzzy coziness she'd been longing for without even knowing it. She sat rigidly for a while before finally dwelling in the comfort that he wasn't moving and relaxed with her head on his shoulder. Draco closed his eyes, his nose nestled into her fragrant locks as he memorized the scene, storing it for later recollection in his life. He knew, with his family, he'd need the good memories to reflect upon. He didn't want her to go through this alone; he wanted to be there for his child, no matter how much the thought of a little Draco Jr. scared him. But what could he do? Was it possible to deceive his father and get everything? He mentally shook his head at the thought. If his father knew, Ginny wouldn't be safe. As soon as the "heir" was out... He didn't want to think about it. No, that wouldn't work at all. He sat up suddenly, withdrawing his hand. Ginny immediately felt the coldness slam into her where his hand had once kept her warm. "I'll do my part and keep you safe; that's all I can offer." She nodded softly, expecting no more. "Watch for the sign and meet me here when it's safe. Then you can tell me about everything." Again, she was grateful for what he could give. It was, after all, better than nothing. At least she wouldn't feel like she was going through this completely alone. Sometimes. She gasped as he carelessly threw himself at her, kissing her abruptly and shoving his hand into hers before exiting the room. Only after he'd left did she open her palm and find her little dragon necklace lying there. She smiled to herself and clenched her hand around it. She could no longer wear it, but it would be something for the baby to have – from its father. ~*~ Draco knew without a doubt that meeting her once was risky; continued meetings could very well turn dangerous to an extreme he wasn't willing to go. But he couldn't help himself. He had to see her. He had to know. So he walked quietly back to the dungeons, not at all upset with his actions in the Room of Requirement. He wished he weren't so weak when it came to that girl, but he was. Lucius had always ingrained it into Draco's head that weakness was an unimaginable shame to one's pride, unless one could use that weakness to gain power. In his younger years, Draco had thought the saying rather stupid and contradictory. Now he understood. Draco muttered the password into the Slytherin dungeons, still deep in thought, and passed through the opened wall. He never noticed two pairs of malicious eyes glued to him as Neeley whispered excitedly in the ear of none other than Pansy Parkinson. Pansy turned her tongue to pass the newest wicked gossip to Daphne Greengrass, who in turn passed the news to Tracey Davis. By the time Draco reached the stairs leading to his dormitory, Tracey had told Millicent Bulstrode, and the rumor was beginning to circulate through the boys. Blaise Zabini was the first brave enough to confront Draco, and the confrontation was the first Draco noticed of the strange happenings in Slytherin. "Malfoy!" Draco stopped and turned, his impassive face showing nothing but boredom. "Rumor's going around you finally made a bloody mistake, mate." Neeley's eyes widened as she saw Draco's glance flicker quickly to her then back. Maybe she should have thought this through just a little more carefully. "I wonder where that could have come from?" His voice was harsh, threatening, steely. He didn't care. He watched the first year squirm, and it brought a smirk to his face. "Shall I guess?" He brought his fingers up to stroke his chin as he pretended to think. "I would think you've heard I am to father a child. Am I correct?" The group of green clad students stared back at him, a mixture of hatred, fear, and disbelief surrounding them. "Did she tell you she claims the little Weasel is to be the mother of the baby?" he drawled. "Who among you believes this?" Not one hand rose; not one person stepped forward. Instead, the group burst into laughter at the thought. Draco Malfoy and a Weasley? Absurd. Draco raised his wand. Stepping across the room with a fury much similar to his father's when in a fit of anger, he held the wand to Neeley's throat. "I suggest this rumor be squashed. Now." She looked up into his steely, cold eyes and swallowed hard. "I tell the truth, Malfoy." She jumped as she felt the pointed tip of the wand dig into the soft flesh at the base of her neck. "Yes, Draco," she whimpered. "My apologies. I must have heard wrong." He dropped the wand and sneered. "You must have." He continued his way to his room without another look to the group. He knew full well that when Ginny started to show, the rumor would be back in force. He had to head this off before it started. First, he had to figure out how. ~*~ Neeley did not appreciate the scene in the common room one bit. She'd make sure he paid. She'd make sure he never even thought about pointing a wand at her again. She might be young, but she was just as Slytherin as he was. With shaking hands, she pulled out the small, circular disk Mr. Malfoy had given her and pointed her wand at its middle. "Neeley," came the voice from the other end. She sucked in her breath to steady her voice before speaking. "I've found out the girl's name," she told the disk. "Well? Tell me, girl! Don't keep this secret from me!" The man's anxiousness was rare but justified as Neeley took another breath. "Sir, I'm afraid if I tell you, Draco will do something. He's already threatened me tonight." "I'll take care of Draco." "Yes, Mr. Malfoy." Neeley felt a dark smile overtake her as she told the disk everything she knew.