Title: Oubliette (1/2)

Author: Syn

E-Mail: veruca_werewolf@hotmail.com

Rating: PG-13

Fandom: Harry Potter

Content: Ginny/Draco

Spoilers: OotP

Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, Ms Rowling and a bunch of companies do...and they could crush me like a bug.

Summary: Ginny Weasley and Draco Malfoy, 1996, 7 hours

A/N: There's an age-old television ploy of trapping two (usually fighting) characters in a locked room and letting the fur fly. I did my own take on it (with a twist) and this is the result, though I meant it to be a lighter fic than it ended up being. Obsessive!Draco is oodles of creepy to write.

Feedback: I would greatly appreciate it.


The Great Hall buzzed with sound. Shouts, good-natured joking, hushed whispers, rumors, the rustle of a dozen Daily Prophets with headlines about the escalating war--all of it humming and throbbing in the ears of Ginny Weasley as she sat in a discontent hunch at the Gryffindor table, stirring her mashed potatoes with disinterest. The activity of the four House tables couldn't break through the funk she'd been thrown into since that morning.

She'd endured the most horrible double Potions of her life that morning and the day had only gotten worse from there. Not only had she melted her cauldron when she'd accidentally knocked a whole bottle of dead tse tse flies into her Speed Serum, but Snape also gave her a firm dressing down before the enter class--whose feet were all moving blurs from the spilled serum. She'd been so embarrassed that she wasn't able to concentrate in Charms and ended up completely failing the surprise quiz Flitwick had thrown on Ear-Splitting Shriek charms.

Now it was all that Ginny could do to sit still and hope that the day, which was almost over, wouldn't get worse. She dropped her mashed potato-covered spoon onto her plate with a clang and rested her chin in her hand. Next to her, Hermione, Ron and Harry were all talking in excited, anxious voices and it wouldn't have taken a genius to guess what they were talking about.

All the Death Eaters they'd helped catch last term in the Ministry had escaped from Azkaban last week. The Dementors had long since been removed from the island, but somehow, someway, they'd escaped and were now out there, rejoining their master. Ginny was glad she was too preoccupied to give it much thought because she knew if she did, she might well panic. Instead she focused on her horrible day and sank into a deep funk.

"Ginny? Ginny? Are you listening?" Ron's voice called, breaking through her misery. She looked up, throwing her bright red cascade of hair out of her freckled face. Her brother was staring at her with raised eyebrows.

"What?" she asked irritably, sitting up straight on the wooden bench. A concerned look crossed Hermione's face as she looked up from the wrinkled copy of the Daily Prophet in front of her.

"Nevermind, Gin. You look dead tired...something wrong?" Ron asked in concern. She sighed heavily and shrugged her shoulders.

"Its nothing. Just a typical horrid day. I had Double Potions with Snape and I had an accid--"

"Look! They're saying that Bellatrix LeStrange was spotted in Oxford!" Hermione suddenly exclaimed, cutting Ginny off. Harry and Ron turned their attention back on the newspaper, leaving Ginny forgotten at their side. She had the sudden urge to leave the table and get away from everyone.

She immediately pushed her plate away and got up from the House table. Harry, sitting on her right, glanced at her and frowned.

"Ginny? Where are you--?"

She ignored Harry's question and stalked out of the Great Hall, past the rest of her schoolmates, who were too busy talking about the recent breakout to pay her any attention. She didn't particularly care though. She just wanted to be left in peace for a few hours. Maybe forever, she thought, still deep in her funk.

Her attention was on her shoes as she wheeled out of the door of the Great Hall and into the corridor. She gasped in surprise when something collided with her bodily, nearly knocking her backward. Someone grabbed her elbows and pulled her back upright and flush with a wiry chest.

She blinked and focused in on the House badge in front of her nose and the prefect badge pinned above it. Dread filled her from head to toe.

"Weasley," a cold voice sneered as she wrenched her arms out of his grip. Draco Malfoy towered over her, staring down his pointed nose at her. Her bad mood deepened in an instant. If there were anything that could make this day worse, it would be an encounter with him. "Watch where you're going."

"I was!" she exclaimed, lying but not caring. She wouldn't give Malfoy the satisfaction of rightly telling her off. "As if you couldn't avoid me!"

"Someone's in a bad mood," Draco said lazily, crossing his long arms over his chest and looking her over. She fixed her coldest glare on her face and lifted her chin at him. She wasn't going to be intimidated by the pale little worm and she wasn't afraid to show it.

"You would be too if you had to deal with selfish little prigs running into you in the corridors," she said testily as the corner of Draco's lips curled upwards.

"Clever," he said dryly as she drew in a breath. "What are you doing out here?"

"None of your business," she retorted, going around him and heading for the stairs. He blocked the way again, putting a long elegant hand on her shoulder. She pushed it away and glared at him. "Move!"



"Make me."

"Let me pass, Malfoy! I'm not doing anything wrong," she said, darting to the left as he stepped in her way once again.

"How do I know that?" he drawled, walking backward a step as she advanced on him.

"Who's the untrustworthy snake here? You or me?" she countered, pushing his arm away and ducking beneath it. He turned to follow her, right on her heels.

"Point taken, Weasley," he called after her as she climbed the stairs as quickly as she could. "But you still didn't answer my question. I am a prefect after all...you're supposed to obey me."

"I don't obey my own brother, what makes you think I'd listen to you?" Ginny tossed over her shoulder, hitting the second floor landing and quickly choosing the right direction to go back to Gryffindor Tower. Once there, Malfoy couldn't bother her any more, as he didn't know their password.

She didn't really want to go to Gryffindor Tower, though. The thought suddenly sprang to her mind. No…what she really truly wanted more than anything was for everyone to just forget about her for a few hours. She wanted privacy, a place where she wouldn't be bothered, where she could be alone. The sounds of Malfoy's footsteps behind her told her that this wish was a distant dream. Right now, all she had to worry about was shaking him.

"Because I could do something very unpleasant to you." Draco's voice was soft but it carried easily to her ears.

Her insides went cold. There was no doubt in her mind that Malfoy could do something very, very unpleasant to her right here and now. She was alone. Everyone was eating dinner in the Great Hall and Malfoy hated her almost as much as he did Harry and her brother. And it was common knowledge that she'd been in on the raid at the Ministry last spring.

She swallowed hard and quickened her pace, intending to find a corridor she could dart down to find her way back to either the Tower or the Great Hall. As it was, she didn't quite know where she was, which was odd. She HAD been going down the familiar corridor that led to the Tower staircase but somehow she'd ended up in a corridor she hadn't ever gone down and it looked like it wasn't traveled much anyway. There were no classrooms down this way, she knew and it showed. The corridor was narrow, the stones dirty and black, the few paintings on the walls covered in black grime that showed years of neglect. They stared at her from beneath the dirty canvas with nervous, suspicious eyes.

"There's a young man following you." One of them wheezed out as she spun around another corner. She shot the portrait--a weedy looking wizard with large, droopy earlobes--a furious glance and kept walking, Draco keeping in step behind her.

"Ginny..." Draco called, touching her shoulder. She jumped, her heart pounding in her chest.

"Leave me alone, Malfoy!" she said rather shrilly, looking over her shoulder at him. He was smiling sharply at her. "You can't...you can't hurt me and you know it. Dumbledore would know it was you!"

He snorted derisively, "As if I'd jeopardize my future for a Weasley!"

"Then leave me alone!"

"Where are you going?"

"I don't know! Away! I want to be left alone!" she said with a disgruntled growl, the thought springing to her mind again. Yes, she wanted to be left alone… Confused, she shook her head and darted down another dark, narrow hallway. A cold draft threaded beneath her robes, chilling the bare skin of her legs. She shuddered and walked as fast as she could.

The narrow corridor let out into a curious, circular rotunda she vaguely recognized, having turned into it once in her second year on her way to Transfiguration. She hadn't taken the time to study the small room then, but something about it caught her eye now. She walked into the middle of the circular room and looked up at the ceiling, where there was a row of small; round windows all round the room. They were dark and stars showed through the blue glass. There was one painting on the wall of a young maiden chained to a pile of rocks. Ginny moved to study it further, but Draco caught her arm once more and hauled her into the middle of the room.

"You're out of bounds, you know," he said snidely, as she wrenched her arm out of his grip once more.

"So are you!"

"Prefects can go anywhere they want," he said forcefully, glaring down at her. "But you..."

"Malfoy, why don't you just leave me alone? I want you to leave me alone! I wish everyone would leave me alone! Is that so much to ask?"

"Oh, I wouldn't say that if I were you!" The maiden on the rocks exclaimed from nowhere.

Ginny wheeled on her in confusion. "What?"

"And don't stand there. You really shouldn't stand there."

"Shut up!" Malfoy suddenly demanded the painting. The maiden looked up, pointing as best she could toward the ceiling with her chained hands. Ginny's gaze followed and she felt wonder slip over her as the moon slid into view from one of the windows.

Blue light streamed into the round room from the window and then...

Ginny gasped as the blue light bounced around the room and streamed in from all the windows in the round ceiling. The blue light coalesced into one shimmering beam that struck the floor directly in the middle of the room. Right where Ginny and Draco were standing.

She barely had time to take it in when the solid stone beneath her feet melted and a black chasm swallowed her up. She screamed and scrambled for something to grab. Draco bashed into her side as they went and she shrieked as she fell into the darkness, tumbling end over end. Her ankle struck the stone wall and she felt it twist. On and on she fell until--

Her freefall abruptly ended as she landed on something soft and musty smelling. The breath was knocked out of her and she lay there for a moment, hardly believing she was still alive. She blinked and moved her head, attempting to peer into the darkness to see where exactly she was. Something dark suddenly landed next to her on the soft, musty smelling cushion with a groan.

"Malfoy?" she asked, incredulous as she sat up on her elbows, peering into the darkness at the person next to her.

"Who do you think it is, Filch?" Draco spat with another groan as he sat up, the cushion bouncing and jumping as he moved. "Where the bloody hell are we?"

"I-I don't know. Did the floor give way?" she demanded, attempting to roll off the cushion, feeling her way with her hands. Her ankle throbbed in protest, but she ignored it. She'd felt worse in the Department of Mysteries last year, after all.

"I think so…it, it felt like a set spell or something," Malfoy said somewhere to her left. "Hey, I found the wall."

"I found the floor. Swing your legs off this cushion...its solid stone." she said with relief as she stood for a moment, put pressure on her ankle and hissed in pain. Okay, maybe it did hurt.

"What's the matter?" Malfoy asked sharply in a tense voice.

"I twisted my ankle on the way down here," she explained as she sat down on the musty cushion once more.

"Lucky you. I'm scraped black and blue. And I'm bleeding!" Draco said indignantly, shifting on the cushion and making it bounce again.

"Poor you!" she snapped, her stomach in knots. She noticed for the first time how cold it was in the darkness. Goosebumps crawled up her arms and she crossed them over her chest. "At least we're safe."

"I don't know about that. The hole closed after us, I felt it," he said with no little resentment in his voice.

"I-it closed? After us?"

"Yeah," Malfoy spat impatiently. "Thanks to you now I'm stuck in a dirty, dank, cold hole in the ground, bleeding and the only company I have is a stupid little Weasley who just HAD to go running all over the school!"

"What? You followed me! I was just trying to get away from you!" Ginny hissed at him in the darkness. Her eyes were rapidly adjusting to the darkness, but she couldn't make out anything other than a darker blob amongst the shadows that must have been Draco. "If you hadn't followed me, I wouldn't have gone into that stupid room!"

"Whatever. The point is, we're stuck and no one knows where we are!"

"That painting--"

"Is tied to some rocks. Unless someone comes into her out of the way corridor, we're on our own."

There was silence for a moment and then Ginny cleared her throat. "Well...let's...explore, shall we?"

"You explore," Malfoy said resentfully. "I'm going to sit here and stop bleeding."

"You are such a baby," Ginny told him with a sigh, but he didn't deign to respond. "I wish we had light..."

"Oh for Merlin's sake!" Draco growled. "Lumos!" Ginny expected an eruption of light to come from the end of his wand, but nothing happened. "Lumos!"

"It's not working..."

"How keen of you to notice. Try yours," Malfoy demanded and she pulled her wand out of her pocket.

"Lumos!" Nothing. She did it again. Nothing. "M-maybe magic doesn't work down here?"

"Wonderful. Bleeding, stuck in a hole with you and magic-less. Yes Virginia, there is a Hell."

"Shut up, Malfoy. Let me think..."

"Don't hurt yourself," he muttered under his breath as she stood tenderly on her hurt ankle. It throbbed in the cold and she resolutely ignored it, hopping around, her hands on the walls for support. She expected the stone to be as smooth down here as it had been when she'd fallen, but it was rough and pitted beneath the pads of her fingers. She frowned and kept moving, measuring the room mentally as she went. Shortly, she reached a cobwebby corner and slid down the opposite wall.

A horrible smell greeted her nostrils as she neared another wall and she nearly stepped down into a hole in the stone floor. She felt around the edge of it with her feet curiously. It smelled awful.

"There's a hole in the floor over here!" she said, turning her attention to Malfoy.

"A hole? How big?"

"Not very...I can't tell if its deep...but it smells horrible!" she said as she wrinkled her nose and stepped away from it, her hand still on the pitted and scratched wall.

"Let me see..." There was a rustle of movement as Malfoy got off of the cushions across the room. There was the slight sound of him stumbling and he cursed under his breath. "Where are you, anyway?"

"Er...over here..."

"Oh well why didn't you say so?" he said sarcastically, making Ginny roll her eyes in the pitchy darkness. "Over where?"

"The wall you're standing against...slide forward along it..."

More movement and the sound of his footsteps falling heavily on the cold stone told her he was moving toward her in the darkness.

"What a minute..." Malfoy said, stopping in his tracks. "There's something on the wall..."

"I know, there are scratches or something--"

"No...its a--" His voice trailed off as he grunted. There was the sound of stone scraping stone and then light burst into the room, blinding them both. "Light!"

Ginny squinted through her eyelashes at the room, seeing Draco standing a few feet away, his hand on the wall, where a stone was depressed and above it a torch was blazing with bright yellow fire. He shaded his eyes with his hand and looked around at their surroundings.

The pile of cushions they'd landed on took up half the room, which was a small ten-by-ten foot room made entirely of stone. Ginny looked up, expecting to see a long, dark tunnel leading upward, but was shocked to see a stone ceiling instead.

"No door." Draco said wryly, looking around, blinking rapidly to clear the dazzle from his eyes. Ginny did the same and looked at the wall beneath her hands. There was writing scratched into it and she peered at it with interest. Before she could read it, however, Draco called her attention back to himself. "Oy! Look...there's something on the wall."

She stumbled over to where he was standing and looked where he was pointing. Something was engraved deeply into the wall in stately letters.

"'An oubliette, dark and deep, you tumble down and here you keep. Where things are put and are forgotten, where they molder and are rotten. Less you wish to turn to bone, find the secret hidden in the stone. Escape is but a thought away, find the answer or here you will stay'," Ginny read aloud, confused.

"An oubliette? I've heard of those!" Malfoy said as he nodded his head, glancing at her slyly. "It's a room with no way out but up where ancient Muggle king's would put people they wanted to forget about."

"I think wizards have improved upon the idea, as there isn't even an up to get out of!" Ginny said tersely, gesturing upwards. Draco squinted at the low stone ceiling and then shrugged.

"If there's a way down, there's a way up. See here, it says there's a way to get out...we just have figure it out."

"Right. Its a riddle...I can do riddles," Ginny said, trying to calm herself. She glanced at Draco again and saw blood running down his forehead from a gash in his hairline that turned his blonde hair pink. "Hold still."

"What?" Malfoy asked defensively, backing up a step as she advanced on him.

"Just do it..." she said, gathering the sleeve of her black robes in her hand and lifting it to dab at the cut across Draco's forehead. He winced as she applied pressure, but didn't move, though he did scowl heavily down at her. "There, feel better?"

"Yeah," he said quietly and then moved away from her hands. He sighed and looked up at the engraving again. "We should figure this out quickly. I don't want to be down here with you any longer than I have to."

"Should have thought of that before you harassed me."

"Let's not get into that again, shall we?" Draco said and then he sat down heavily on the musty, stained cushions once more. "Now, we have a riddle, we have light, we're alive and there's a way out...let's think of this quickly."

Ginny nodded and sat down on the cushion as far away from him as possible, her back against the cold stone wall, her legs drawn up. She noticed again how cold it was down here and it was getting colder by the minute. Her fingers ached and her toes were numb. She curled them in her shoes and tucked them under her as much as her throbbing, stiffening ankle would allow. Draco looked equally as cold, his nose red in the flickering torchlight. His pointed, pale features were cast in shadow as he brooded, glancing occasionally up at the engraving on the wall.

Ginny mulled the riddle over in her mind as she shivered, curled her hands into the sleeves of her robes and huddled on the musty cushions. There was a trick to riddles, she knew. They were so simple once you figured them out, but the trick was getting there. An oubliette was where things were forgotten, huh? If Draco weren't here, she might well enjoy the place! Merlin knew she wasn't left alone anywhere else. She thought hard, remembering all the riddles she'd ever heard, but the answer seemed just out of reach…like there was a fog on her mind.

Neither of them spoke for a long while, both lost in their thoughts. She didn't have a watch and but she didn't doubt that Draco did. She didn't ask him though. An hour passed. The cold grew until when she exhaled, she could see her breath. The torch on the wall didn't even radiate heat from where it burned, as was usually the way with magical fire. She contemplated trying a warming spell, but figured it was hopeless anyway after the disaster with the light spell. Besides, she didn't want Draco to give her an 'I-told-you-so' look.

Finally Draco sighed, "We're not getting anything done just sitting here, Weasley. The answer is in the stone, it says. We need to look for it. Maybe there's a loose stone like I found for the torch?"

Ginny shrugged. "Sounds good to me. I can't make heads or tails of this stupid thing anyway."

Stiffly she climbed to her feet, her sore ankle throbbing again. She grit her teeth and wished it to stop, but it went on hurting, as she knew it would until she could get to Madam Pomfrey. On the opposite side of the tiny room, Draco felt along the wall with his long, spidery pale fingers, pushing the stones as hard as he could. None of them budged.

Ginny turned to her wall and started doing the same. She stopped when her eyes focused on the scratched writing before her. She'd forgotten about it until now and she took the opportunity to read it unmolested.

"Draco...the stones!" she exclaimed excitedly, reading each scratched passage. "Other people have been trapped in here before! Listen, 'Argo Amaris, 1640, 10 hours'! 'Lady Pembridge, 1920, 4 hours'!" She turned to face Draco with a smile. "They've made a record, you see? It can be done!"

"Well bully for them, but that doesn't help us!" Draco said sourly, turning back to push at the stones.

"I'm just giving you hope..." she muttered, turning back to the wall to trace the pitted words with her cold fingers.

"My only hope is to get the hell out of here before I'm missed," he shot back, grunting as he pushed at the stones again. "And before your Muggle-loving filth rubs off on me."

"I doubt anyone will miss you, Malfoy. That would imply caring and no one cares for the wart on their knee," Ginny spat at him once more in annoyance. He wheeled on her and glared.

"Shut your mouth, you poor little country girl," he sneered, his gray eyes flashing.

"Make me, spoiled brat!" she echoed his statement earlier in the hallway.

"I could, you know. Trapped down here, no one would know." His voice was cold and soft again and cold threaded up her spine. She'd forgotten for a moment who she was trapped down here with and what he was capable of. He hated her, she hated him and there was a serious grudge between them. She swallowed hard and pressed her mouth to a thin line.

"Why don't you? Is...is that why you followed me? Were you going to get back at me?" Her eyes were huge and they bore into his as he crossed the room. She backed up against the wall, the cold stone a shock as she collided with it. Draco leaned in, one arm braced on the wall beside her head.

"Maybe. Say something else and we'll find out, won't we?" There was something dark and dead in his glare, something that made her stomach drop. He meant what he said, he would hurt her and she had no magic to save herself this time.

"You wouldn't..."

"Wouldn't I?" He arched his eyebrow at her and she shuddered between him and the wall. "You help me get out of here, though...and we'll call it a draw. Deal?"

"Deal," Ginny said in a quavering voice. He pushed away from her one-handed and turned his back on her with a cold laugh that hit her right between the shoulder blades like a knife. Shivering with fear, she turned back to the stone wall and started pushing at them, reading the names to herself. She found one that dated all the way back to the founding of Hogwarts and one wizard who had written that he'd been in there for three days.

She and Malfoy worked their way slowly across the room toward the opposite wall.

"Disgusting. What is this thing?" Malfoy's voice broke the tense silence between them. She glanced at him and saw he was looking down his nose at the smelly hole she'd found in the corner earlier. She'd forgotten about it too. Coming up beside him, she peered into the dark hole and wrinkled her nose in disgust. She was confused for a moment before she saw the drain in the middle of the basin.

Then she laughed. Malfoy glanced at her irritably. "What?"

"Its a privy pit..."

"A what?"

"For doing your...your business," she explained in a flustered voice.

"You mean, we're supposed to...use that thing? I'm not going to the loo in THAT thing! Its, its disgusting and, and dirty!" He looked completely shocked that such an indignity had been bestowed upon him. Ginny laughed again.

"If we get out of here soon, you won't have to," she said with a smile. "Of course I suppose its easier for boys...you don't have to sit down!"

Malfoy just blinked at her. "I'm not discussing this with you," he said in a flat voice, then a cruel smile crossed his face. "Though I daresay you're used to such primitive conditions, living in that Barren as you do..."

"It's the Burrow and we have indoor plumbing, thank you very much," she retorted, turning away from the privy pit and feeling along the wall again. She pressed every stone she could reach until she came back to the cobwebbed corner she'd finished in. She sighed and turned back to face Draco who growled and kicked the wall with the toes of his expensive black shoes.

"Nothing! There's nothing!"

"What about the floor? Or behind the cushions? We could move them and see what's beneath..."

"Good idea," he conceded and they proceeded to move the cushions out of the way, tossing them to the side in a huge, smelly heap. They were obviously ancient and dust rose as they landed atop one another with a soft flump. They tried the stones again, pressing as hard as they could. Not one of them moved an inch.

"This is ridiculous! There has to be a way out of here, the engraving said so! This isn't fair!" Ginny exclaimed, flopping down on the strewn cushions, her head in her hands. It was so cold that her shoulders shook. She wanted nothing more than to curl up someplace warm and she thought longingly of the fire in the Gryffindor common room.

"Of course its not fair, Weasley! It's a dirty hole!" Draco said grouchily, pacing back and forth like a caged shark, his sharp gray eyes flitting around the room, focusing here and there. "And a bloody cold one at that!"

He crossed his arms over his chest and pulled his collar up as high as it would go. He hunched his shoulders and sighed deeply.

"I'm so cold..." she said for no reason in particular, just feeling the need to voice her discomfort. Draco glanced at her and paced again.

"You know, this isn't how I wanted my night to go," he said in an accusatory tone, making her look up at him anger.

"Don't start this again! You followed me, Malfoy!" she shot back with as much venom as she could muster. He didn't respond as he sat down next to her on the strewn cushions. She uncrossed her arms and reached for the sleeve of robes. She pulled it back and glanced at the time on his elegant silver watch. "We've been in here two hours, you'd think we'd have this figured out by now."

"If its any consolation, your brothers didn't figure it out for ten hours," Draco said, bumping her shoulder with his. Ginny looked at him in puzzlement. He gestured to the wall beneath the engraving with his chin and she immediately got up to see what he was pointing at.

She blinked in amazement and read aloud, "'Fred and George Weasley, 1992, 10 hours'! Those...those...bastards! That was my first year at Hogwarts and they didn't even mention it! Not one word!"

"Pity. They could've told you how to get out too."

"I'm going to KILL those identical ponces!"

"Good for you. I'll help," Draco said gleefully. She shot him a dirty look.

"Don't start in on my family again, I'm really not in the mood to hear it."

"You know I couldn't resist, Weasley," he said with a shrug, lying back on the thick cushions, his head pillowed in his hands. "So there's got to be a way to get out of here if all these people plus the identical ponces could get out. We just need to think..."

"We've been thinking. I've thought my head off!" Ginny groused, flopping back down on the cushions beside him stiffly, her ankle groaning and stiff. The joint felt swollen and she brought it up on her knee to examine it closely. She peeled down her frayed, second-hand sock and her eyes widened when she saw the bruised, purple skin. She prodded it with her finger and flinched in pain as the swollen skin throbbed in response. "Ouch..."

"What now?" Draco demanded, turning his head to look at her. "Ouch...that looks painful."

"You have no idea. And its stiffening up," she said with a sigh, then pulled her sock back up, thankful that she wasn't wearing boots because by now it wouldn't be possible to wear them. "It must be snowing outside if it's this cold."

"Yeah, the Slytherin common room fire is probably huge by now," he responded wistfully, looking back up at the low ceiling.

"And Gryffindor Tower is probably crowded and warm and Ron and Hermione are probably arguing. And Harry's probably caught in the middle and Dean's probably wondering where I am..."

Malfoy looked sharply at her. "Thomas?"

"Yeah, he still likes me but I broke it off with him at the beginning of term..." Her voice trailed off and she glanced at Draco, who had a thoughtful expression on his face.


"I really don't want to talk about it with you, Malfoy," she said, holding up her hands and looking around the room once more. The torch burned steadily as she read the engraving over and over again, trying to make the gears in her mind work.

"Fine. Didn't want to hear it anyway..." Draco trailed off, nestling down on the cushions. Ginny shivered and curled up too, attempting to trap as much of her body heat as she could. Her teeth chattered despite her best efforts though.

An idea sprang to her mind and she immediately reeled in disgust. No way. Never! She didn't care how cold she got...

But even as she vehemently attempted to dismiss the idea, she shuddered again, her body tensing up as the cold seized her. Her breath curled in the air like a ghost and her fingers ached. Beside her, Draco shuddered too.

"Feel free to laugh at this suggestion, Malfoy...but my father says Muggles trapped in the cold huddle together for warmth. Because...because they don't have magic and they'll freeze to death if they don't...so..."

"Are you actually suggesting that we, I, huddle with you like a Muggle for warmth?" Malfoy scoffed at her, his eyebrows rising into peaks. Ginny shrugged.

"Or we could freeze to death."

Malfoy pursed his lips and thought for a moment, then eyed her wearily. "Are you sure this will work? Your father isn't too bright, you know. He may have gotten this wrong..."

"My father's an intelligent man!" she exclaimed and then threw up her hands. "Nevermind, it was a stupid thought anyw-"

Ginny was cut off as Draco sat up and grabbed her wrist. "Just shut and keep me warm, Weasley. I can't afford to get ill and end up in hospital. Slytherin and Gryffindor have a match in two weeks, if you recall."

"I couldn't forget that. Harry's been drilling us worse than Oliver or Angelina ever did."

"Power went to Potter's head, I see. No surprise there," said Draco as he took a fat cushion, dusted it off and then placed it between his back and the cold stone wall.

"And it hasn't gone to yours, either, hmm?" Ginny asked wryly as she scooted closer to him. He didn't flinch away when she nestled in beside him, shoulder to shoulder.

"I was meant for power, Weasley! Being Captain is my right," he said haughtily, slinging his arm around her shoulders with an economy of motion. Ginny tensed and then relaxed against him, her feet folded up beneath her, her hands tucked into her arm pits.

"As much as I hate to admit that, there's no denying it. You definitely were made for power. Too bad you're bound to abuse it," she declared before she could stop herself. He looked down at her, their faces mere inches apart. He smiled unexpectedly.

"You have no idea how I'd use my power, Weasley," he said mysteriously and then his smile got sharper. Ginny gasped and flinched away from his hand as he laid it on her cheeks. "Are my hands cold?"

"Malfoy! Eeesh!" Ginny laughed and slapped his cold fingers away from her reddened skin. "You're mean."

"Don't pout at me, Red," he said almost genially, leaning his head back on the dusty, musty cushion. "So the plan is, we get warm and then we start again. There's a way out of here and we just have to figure it out."

She nodded in agreement and then they both went quiet for a few minutes.

"This is warmer," she said awkwardly, her cheek pressed against his chest. She could feel his cold fingers in her hair, plucking at the red strands unconsciously. The feeling wasn't unpleasant, but she wished he'd stop. The familiarity of the movement made her stomach flip-flop. She moved her head away from his fingers and glanced sharply up at him.

"Nervous habit," Malfoy explained away and rested his hand on her shoulder. Ginny relaxed again and warmth spread between the shared links of their bodies. Ginny tried start the conversation again.

"If you hadn't been standing where the floor melted, would you have tried to catch me?"

"That's a stupid question," he said with a laugh.

She lifted an eyebrow. "But a valid one. Answer it."

He shrugged, lifting her head with the movement. His chin brushed her forehead. "I'm not sure."

"You would have let me fall. One less Gryffindor to get in your way. Plus, you hate me," she said with a sigh and a slight smile.

"Well there is that. Both excellent reasons, I might add." He jostled her a little and she felt his fingers scrape her scalp again, setting off alarm bells in her head. This time she just let him do it. It soothed her and she was too tired and cold to resist. Slowly, the long, weary, horrible day pressed on Ginny's mind. She fought to keep her eyes open, but the steady rise and fall of Draco's lungs lulled her softly into the darkness. He held her close, his fingers massaging her scalp some more. "Ginny?"

She was asleep before she could respond.

(end part one)