Standard fanfic disclaimer applies.  Recognize it, it probably isn't mine.

I wrote this out when I should have been working on the Visible Invisible, but the damn plot wouldn't just leave me alone.  I plan to continue working on it, though updating will be sporadic until my other story is done.  It's also going to be more character development than plot, so it may not be your thing if you don't like that kind of thing.  But please read anyway! Haha!


Chapter 1: The Night the Words Were Spoken

It was a night that would have an impact on the rest of his life.

            "If you don't get your bloody hands off of me right now, you're going to live to regret it!" the kicking figure wrapped up in a blanket was screaming.  He casually leaned against the cold stonewall of the dungeon, carefully glancing with cool gray eyes the two brainless minions that had carried in the struggling victim, who were now straining to hold onto the thrashing girl.

             "Now boys, is that any way to treat a lady?" his voice drawled out, casting a shroud of silence over the cold room.  The witless underlings glanced at each other, then back at him, both wearing identical dumbstruck looks.  "That means that you should 'get your bloody hands' off of her."

            "Are…are you sure about that, Malfoy?  She sure has been a hellion to capture.  If these orders didn't come directly from your father, we probably wouldn't have even bothered after the first try!" the taller one said, his eyes showing a slight glimmer of intelligence.  With a frustrated sigh, Draco Malfoy waved his hand impatiently, silencing the man and causing him to jump back, dropping his half of the thrashing bundle in the process.  The other one quickly followed suit.  Draco smirked, pleased at his display of power over the two mindless buffoons that served his family.  They respected his authority; they respected his power.

            A fleeting, wishful thought passed through his brain: he wished his father could see that.  Maybe then he'd be able to see – that Draco was no longer a "boy".  His command, his power and the respect that he got from all those below him proved that he was a man now, one worthy of more responsibility and power.  His thoughts were interrupted as the heavy door creaked open.

            "Excellent, Draco, I see that our…guest has arrived.  The Dark Lord will be pleased," his father voice, full of authority, echoed off the stonewalls.  The younger Malfoy turned to his father, and nodded.

            "I can't imagine what he wants with a Muggle-born witch, Father, but they brought her as ordered," Draco said, his mind swiftly running through the possible necessities that a Mudblood could fulfill.

            The girl, suddenly kicking out of the rolls of blankets that had been restricting her movement since her capture, was revealed.  A small thin redhead with blazing eyes that looked about ready to unleash hell on the group of men holding her captive jumped up.  She gasped loudly as her eyes met those of the two Malfoys staring back at her, and one icy glare from the elder one seemed to quell any movements of resistance she had been planning.  Seizing the rare moment of her docility, the two minions grabbed her arms; restraining her in anticipation of the physical attacks she'd dealt them earlier, not wanting to make the same mistake twice.

            "Ginny Weasley?" Draco asked his father, shocked.  His father smiled coolly, and nodded, a look of satisfaction on his face.

            Draco's eyes flickered momentarily to hers, and he felt a strange twinge deep inside him.  It was a sensation he'd never felt before – possibly guilt?  He held no real grudge against the little redheaded Gryffindor.  Her brothers, he hated about as much as was possible.  But it had only been a week before, after the last Quidditch match before the Christmas holidays, that she'd inadvertently bumped into him, and had complimented him on his flying.

            "But she's a pureblood!" Draco protested in a whisper.  This was supposed to have been a Muggle-born witch!  His father merely laughed at his protestation.

            "She's a Weasley, my boy.  They hardly count as purebloods, with all their Muggle-loving actions!" he father chortled gleefully, as he observed the girl's eyes narrowing at his words, and begin to struggle against the men holding her back.

            "At least my family isn't full of evil, murdering wizards!" she shouted back, which caused his father to laugh even harder.

            "This isn't right, Father," Draco whispered carefully.  His father's laughing stopped dead at those words, and the stone cold gray eyes glared at him.

            "Do you question the orders of the Dark Lord, Draco?" he asked, dangerously.

            "No, of course not," Draco answered quickly.  Lucius' eyes stared intently into those of his son's.  A loaded silence filled the room.

            "Excellent.  Draco, you shall stay with the girl while I summon the Dark Lord.  If she tries to escape, kill her," Lucius ordered, before sweeping out of the room.

* * * * *

            It was a new form of agony that he had never knew even existed.  Soon after his father's departure, she, in a last-ditch attempt at freeing herself, had tried to wrestle free of her captors.  In punishment, the two minions has forced her down to the ground, where she was now held, kneeling.  Every few moments, just as their grip on her shoulders would relax, she'd try to jump up, forcing them to pull her back down.

            She stared at him, with silently accusing eyes.  She hadn't spoken since that first desperate threat, but she didn't need to.  He could tell exactly what she wanted to say just by the look in her eyes.  He kept looking away, hoping that she would stop staring at him, but she never did.  She was waiting for him to break.

            "Why would they want you?" he asked suddenly, shattering the silence.  The two underlings started at the sudden noise, and she lifted her head, a slightly smug look on her face.  She had won – he had been the first to speak.

            "Are you as daft as you look, Malfoy?" she asked, her voice remarkably collected and calm, as if being held hostage was an every day occurrence.  "Harry Potter, of course.  Your bunch of buffoons seem to think that if you have me, you hold some sort of power over Harry.  I thought that I great big Slytherin like yourself would have been able to figure out that much."

            Her words, and her unforgiving but still smug tone, snapped his control and sparked his anger.  He had been feeling guilty that she had been brought here; guilty about what he knew was most likely going to be her fate.  And she had the nerve to look him in the eye, insult him and smile with that look of smug satisfaction on her face!

            He walked calmly up to where she was being held, her knees forcefully pressed down in the dirty stone flooring.  He stared down at her with his cold gray eyes for a moment, contemplating what it was that he wanted to say to her.  He knelt down, bringing himself eye to eye with the fiery little hellion who had recently complimented his flying abilities, and stared straight at her.  He wouldn't break this time.

            Her lips pursed and her eyes narrowed, seeing the challenge and more than welcoming it.  Her tawny brown eyes, slightly red-rimmed, stared unwaveringly back at him, with a mocking glint that infuriated him.  The tension grew with each minute that passed with neither of them blinking or looking away.  Until she spoke.

            "Anyone can tell right from wrong.  It takes a man to act on that knowledge," she said, so quietly that the two oblivious men holding her down didn't hear.  Draco blinked in surprised at her words, startled.  His eyes full of questions, he looked into those eyes again, and that flicker of guilt was re-ignited by the small glimpse of pride and courage he could see within them.

            The heavy door creaked as it opened, startling Draco, causing him to jump to his feet and back away from the girl.

            "Ahh, I see the Weasley is still alive.  You have better restraint than I give you credit for," Lucius Malfoy's cool, icy voice spoke.  Draco nodded stiffly; acknowledging the sort-of-compliment.  "Well Miss Weasley, it looks like your time to show your worth is finally at hand!"

            Her head snapped up at his words, and she writhed away from the heavy hands that pulled her to her feet.  With one last accusing look at Draco Malfoy, she was led from the room, holding her head high.  But before she could be forced over the threshold of the door, she turned those brown eyes back on Draco and spoke once more.

            "I guess I was wrong about you."

And with those simple words, his entire life changed.