Chapter 10: Draco Malfoy Changes

He was not quite to the clearing when he heard her voice.

"Harry!"

"Ginny. There you are!"

"Harry, you've got to get out of here! Lucius Malfoy is coming!"

Draco arrived at the edge of the clearing. He was just a few feet from Ginny. Harry was sitting about twenty feet away, under a large oak tree. Now Ginny was walking again, towards Harry.

No, Ginny, thought Draco. Stay away from him. Get out of here.

There were three small pops as Lucius Malfoy and two hooded figures (Crabbe and Goyle, judging from their size) apparated into the clearing.

"Harry Potter. Howconvenient to find you here," said his father in the oily voice that he reserved for diplomatic occasions.

"Keep away from him!" Ginny Weasley was reaching for her wand. Draco couldn't see her face, but he was sure it was scarlet with fury.

"Ah, Miss Weasley," said Lucius, turning toward her and bowing slightly. "Thank you for, once again, being a suitable tool for the purposes of the Dark Lord."

Ginny dropped the hand holding her wand. Her whole body was shaking; her head was bowed. What in the world does she think of me now? thought Draco.

And then he looked up. His father was raising his wand, pointing it at her. And his father's words, that day in the study, came back to his mind. "Eliminating just one witness is not a difficulty." Oh, no. Not Ginny. She was the first of his recruits. She would be a hell of a Death Eater. She would save the Malfoys from extinction. Not his Ginny. Was Father blind?

But that smile was on his father's face–the smile he'd worn right before he'd put the Cruciatus curse on his own son. Draco knew what was going to happen.

"Noooooo!" he screamed. And he threw his body in front of hers as Lucius said the words.

"Avada Kedavra."

There was a blinding flash of green light. And there was a dreadful tearing feeling, as though someone were sucking him away from GinnyPlease,no, he thought, holding on to her for dear life. I must stay here to protect Ginny. And then, at last, the feeling abated.

He stood up and turned to face his father. Lucius was standing stock still, jaw dropped, staring at him and Ginny. Draco took one step toward his father, holding out his hand. "Give me your wand, father."

Lucius was trembling, but he held his wand firmly, as though dueling, and said, "Every Dark wizard worth his salt can find a path to power. This is my path, Draco, and you have interfered once too often."

Draco reached down to grab his own wand, but it wasn't there. He caught a glimpse of his hand. Bloody hell. It was transparent. He was a ghost, like that idiot Binns. Somehow he'd died. Well, of course, you fool, he told himself. That's what the killing curse does to people.

"Avada Kedavra!" Again, that familiar rush of green light. This time it passed right through his ghostly body. There was a cry from behind him and then–incredibly–the green light passed through him yet again, from the other direction, and hit his father.

Lucius Malfoy crumpled to the ground.

There was silence only for a moment; then Harry whipped out his wand. (Merlin, thought Draco, he has incredible reflexes; no wonder I never beat him at Quidditch.) A string of hexes flew through the air, stunning and binding the two Death Eaters who were still staring, in shock, at Lucius Malfoy's body.

Draco and Harry turned towards Ginny's body at the same time. Incredibly, she whimpered. She was alive.

Harry scooped her up in his arms (I should have been the one to do that, thought Draco, I want to be the one doing that) and held her tightly against him. She was only barely conscious.

"Ginny, Ginny, how in Merlin's name did you survive?" Harry was asking. Draco had been wondering the same thing. He walked closer, to stand over his own fallen body, and suddenly he understood.

"Potter, you idiot, look at her forehead. Don't you understand?"

Harry reached up and gently brushed the wavy hair away from her face. There was a scar there, in the form of a serpent. He looked at Draco as if seeing him for the first time.

"You did for her what my mother did for me, didn't you?"

Draco dropped his eyes. He wanted to cry, but he couldn't. "I guess so." He had lost Ginnyno, she had lost him

"I misjudged you, Malfoy. I'm sorry."

Draco lifted his eyes and looked squarely at Harry. "No, Potter, you didn't. I was the one who misjudgedyou, my father, life. I think I finally understand."

And he did. He, and his father, had been so caught up in their own ambition that they didn't appreciate what was truly worthwhile in life. Those things that really meant something–those were the things that Voldemort was fighting against.

Ginny was opening her eyes now. She looked up at Harry, and then at Draco–and the remains of Draco's body. "Draco–" she whimpered. And then she looked at Harry again and clung to him tightly.

"Goodbye, Ginny. I still love you," he whispered. And then, turning to Harry, he added: "Take good care of her, or I'll haunt you for the rest of your life."

He floated off in the direction of Hogwarts. He had to find Dumbledore. He had to help Dumbledore stop Voldemort. He would be an excellent spy in this form. He would help defeat the Dark Lord so that Ginny could live in peace. Even if she loved Harry.

Lucky Harry, he thought. Harry will be the one to kiss her, to spend hours talking to her, to hold her close at night. Harry will be the one whose manor house is filled with her children.

As he flew through the air toward the castle, he wept ghostly silver tears. Lucky, lucky Harry.