Draco washed his face in his prefects' bathroom. He had stopped visiting Myrtle's lavatory since he was walked in on. Though this one didn't have a ghost who was only too happy to listen to him rant, it was much more private. As he stared at his reflection, Draco felt a stab of revulsion. His eyes were red and slightly puffy, his nose a bit runny, his clothes dishevelled. His hair was a mess. He looked weak. He looked childish.

"You are standing in a bathroom after crying your eyes out for the fourth time this week…" Malfoy grumbled to himself. Where was the proud, confident, filthy rich and loving it person he was accustomed to seeing? The ratty fearful looking ass wipe staring back at him sure as hell couldn't be him. He wasn't his father's son, that was for sure. But as soon as the thoughts flitted through his mind, he wondered if he actually wanted to be. His father was in prison and on the bad side of both an evil murdering psychotic wizard as well as the powerful and too-wise-for-his-own-good Headmaster. Neither good nor evil would protect him or call him ally any more. Not to mention the fact that he left his wife and son in serious danger. Yeah, Lucius was a great man all right. But despite all the mistakes he might have made, he was still Draco's father. He was still the man who bought him what he wanted, twisted arms to keep him happy. Hell, he'd gotten Dumbledore fired, nearly gotten a Hippogriff executed, bought his way onto the Quidditch team, and made sure every person who had ever insulted him got what was coming to them. He had taught Draco everything he knew, from the dark spells to the words of caution, it was all from Lucius. The fact that Draco was in danger right now and had never really been truly happy was not his father's fault. In his own misguided way, he did provide a good life for his son in the only way he knew how. He thought this was the safest way, to be a part of the winning side. Except Draco didn't think like that. No matter how he tried to please his dad, how he acted and spoke like the cunning young Malfoy was taught to, no matter how he made out, this was not him. No matter how hard Lucius tried to stamp it out of him, Draco had morals. They were squashed and largely ignored for most of his life but they were still there. Whispering to him.

He was not a killer. He wanted to help his father, but this wasn't right. It mattered to him that this wasn't right. This wasn't some stupid prank, he wasn't trying to get some oaf fired or get Potter in trouble… This was serious shit. And Draco didn't think he could do it. So he and the Headmaster were not on the best of terms. But he respected him, begrudgingly. He was a good man who had never hurt anyone who didn't deserve it. But then, neither had Lucius depending on your outlook of what deserving meant. And he was the most powerful wizard there was. Okay, so a part of him didn't want to do anything because after all, who was to say that Voldemort was the winning side? But he wasn't merely waiting to pick his allies; he did sort of want to do good.

What a joke. Do good? Most people were certain that he had no conscience. After all the remarks, all the bastardly things he'd done, no one in their right minds would expect him to do what was actually right. He knew that Potter and his golden pals thought he was already a Death Eater. Inside, he envied them a little. So pure, they did not have a choice. The choice was already made for them, as if by default. They were Gryffindors, they had saved the day so many times that they would never have to ask themselves what to do, which road to take. They didn't have families indebted to Voldemort. They didn't have the preconceptions of evil. They weren't related to Death Eaters. The lives of those they loved didn't reflect directly on what they did every moment of every day.

He walked out of the washroom, his composure partly regained. To his dismay he spotted Snape walking urgently towards him. He was his favourite professor once, and once Draco had been his pet. But those days, like so many others, were gone now.

"Draco!" he called.

"What do you want?" Draco barked.

"What were you thinking, attacking Weasly like that? Do you want to get into trouble and get expelled before you manage to do a damn thing the Lord has asked of you?" Snape demanded.

That option sounds nice to me, actually, Severus, he silently thought. Draco clenched his teeth. "I don't need you standing over me, checking up on me. I know what I'm doing."

"I want to help you, Draco. Tell me what to do, I'll aid you in every way conceivable." He said, pleading quietly.

"I'm no child. The Dark Lord asked of me what he obviously thought I was capable of achieving. He asked me. Not you." Oh his words sounded so cocky, so sure…

"Do not be a fool!" Snape hissed. "He's trying to get back at your father, let me help you! Don't be such a stubborn, stupid boy."

Tempted to hex him right there, Draco only shot the man a glare and walked away. He went back to the Room of Requirement, back to the dreary task he'd been set on so long ago. Crabbe and Goyle met him half way and once more stood on guard. Draco frittered away a few hours tinkering away at the broken, but not beyond repair, cabinet that lay in the room, taunting him.

He did not really want to fix it, but if he delayed it much longer it'd be his mother's neck on the line. And nothing was worth sacrificing his family. He'd already tried a few other half-hearted attempts. And they were lazy, not really thought out attempts that, not surprisingly, failed. But this time he wouldn't, couldn't, fail. The cabinet would be fixed within three months, maximum, now that he actually paid attention to actually getting it done.

After a few hours, his watch told him that it was nearing two AM. Draco sighed, put away his tools, tucked away his wand, and hid the book he had been poring over. He'd have to go back to his common room. As he left the room, he wasn't surprised to see Crabbe and Goyle hunched over on the floor. Crabbe looked vaguely awake but Goyle was obviously sound asleep.

"You can go to bed now." Malfoy said shortly, kicking Goyle as he walked by.

Once he was in the dungeon where the Slytherin common room lay, he plopped down on the couch and rubbed his face. The familiar soft voice of Pansy Parkinson sang out to him as soon as he sat down.

"Are you all right, tonight?" she cocked her head as she slid next to him. He knew she wasn't really asking, didn't really care. Her hands toyed with his collar a bit and the two pressed their lips together fiercely, his mouth closing over hers in the same fashion that occurred nearly every night.

The next morning, Draco groaned silently awake and rolled over in his bed. He felt much as he did every morning: emotionless. At the beginning of the year, he had convinced the Head Boy from Slytherin House to swap rooms with him, giving Draco the full privacy of the nicely sized private bedroom and left him free from the company of the other members of his year. The very first light of the day shone through the half-closed curtains onto the blonde's bare body. He sat up slowly and got the crick out of his neck before shifting out of the satin bed sheets. He strode across the room, unabashed to the fact that he was nude, and grabbed his school uniform. Slipping into his dark green robe, Draco left the room without sparing a glance at the brunette who was still sleeping on his bed.

He wound his way towards his private bathroom, his head still free from thought. The painting swung away and Draco turned on the shower, stepping in lightly. He had no feeling for Pansy, never really had. For a time he had tried to convince himself that he cared for her, loved her, but that was a lie. She had pursued him since first year and even now when he was sleeping with her, the act was simply physical. It satisfied one of his needs, he supposed. Though he didn't even get much pleasure out of it anymore. Every day here was the same, and every night was the same. He would always wake up feeling hollow. And Draco had no issues with treating the girl like an object, he held no illusions that that was what he was doing, but he didn't believe that Pansy loved him either. She was attracted to him because of his looks, because of his power, his reputation. They weren't in a relationship. In the actual sense of the word, Draco supposed he'd never been in a real relationship. He'd slept around with a fair few girls, and even a few whom he did date, but he had never gotten close to them. And now he never would. Now it was dangerous, it was too late. It would not be fair for anyone to be emotionally involved with him.

He finished with the shower and haphazardly ran a brush through his hair and put on his clothes. He didn't bother drying his hair before heading back to the blasted Room of Requirement.

He emerged again in an hour, when class was to start in twenty minutes. Draco doubled back to his common room before going to the Great Hall, in order to make it seem like he had come directly there. The table filled with food did little for him; he hadn't much appetite these days. He didn't join in conversation, and the only thing he ate was an apple before first class started.

He noticed Snape carefully watching over him, and he chose to ignore him. Of course, he had to say something or even those that didn't really care would notice something was up, so he did make the occasional off hand insult to the people near him, and that seemed to satisfy them. After going for months the way he was going, everything was seriously catching up with him. He barely got three hours of sleep a night, if that, combine that with the dwindling amount of food he was consuming and you would come up with a person who would be collapsing soon. Maybe if he fainted dead out they would cart him to St Mungo's and he'd be free.

"Malfoy!" an annoyingly bossy sounding voice called out to him, one he'd come to recognize through the years.

"What do you want?" Draco sighed without turning around.

"To tell you that you won't get away with what you did to Ron. Professor Dumbledore-"

Draco reluctantly turned around and gave the bushy haired brunette a mocking look. "I'm shaking in my robes, Granger." She took a threatening step towards him and whipped her hand out to punch him but he swiftly caught her hand before she made contact and easily and lightly moved her back a few steps.

"You don't get another free shot, I'm afraid." Draco sneered.

Hermione gave him a deathly glare and tried to grab her wand.

"Save it, won't you?" Draco rolled his eyes and let go of her. He could practically feel the smoke blowing out of her ears and he let a small-satisfied smirk slide onto his face. He once was wary of Granger; she was the cleverest witch in their year and knew too much for her own good. Not to mention she threw a heavy punch. But he'd long since lost all fear for anyone in the school. All the pettiness of the rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin, Mudblood and Pureblood, seemed so frivolous and ridiculous now. "You wouldn't want to be late for class now, would you? Run along."

She didn't answer, but with a huff she balled up her fists and haughtily walked away. Stupid little know-it-all…

The morning was a haze. He didn't pay much attention to classes anymore, he couldn't make himself focus. By the time lunch came around, Draco had gotten another one of his killer headaches. They hurt like a bitch and he couldn't help but clench his teeth together as he threw his books in his bag as the class dispersed out of the class and into the hallway. Suddenly, he could feel his vision go blurry and the blonde frowned. He tried to shake it off but stumbled a bit and had to quickly throw out an arm to prop himself on the desk. Everything was spinning…

"Draco?" an incredulous voice exclaimed from the doorway.

"Must you always walk in on my worst, most unsavoury moments?" he let out a rough laugh. Vanessa sprinted in and grabbed his arm.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

"No, I'm just leaning against this desk for the fun of it." He snapped. She slowly led him to a chair and helped him sit down, half supporting his weight. He blinked a few times but little black dots were dancing in his vision. Draco tried to shrug off the girl's help but she firmly kept her hand steady.

"Don't be too proud to refuse help when you need it." She reprimanded, giving him a look. "Now stop struggling! What happened?"

"I don't need your help," he mumbled, holding his head in his hand.

"Draco!" Vanessa said in exasperation.

"I dunno what happened, okay?" he growled. "Happy now? I was walking and then I…I dunno…"

"You look so exhausted… God, you're going to kill yourself if you keep doing whatever you've been doing." She sighed, taking in his pasty complexion.

"Don't touch me." He stiffly muttered and pushed off the girl's hand which was still securely around his forearm. He stood up, determined to leave with what was left of his pride.

"Let someone help you." Vanessa very quietly said.

"Stop trying to be my saviour." Draco answered without looking back.

"Stop trying to be some sort of tortured, lone, hero." She retorted, under her breath.

Draco had sharp ears and he instantly grit his teeth and whipped around. "You don't know anything about my situation so I suggest you stop talking as if you do."

"Well you won't tell me, now will you?" she said, trying to sound defiant but actually resulting in sounding quite small.

"Crabbe and Goyle don't even know. What makes you think I would confide in you?" he raised his eyebrow, a mocking scowl taking over his face, "Why would I tell my life's secrets to some annoying know-it-all Gryffindor who I've maybe said three sentences to in six years?"

"For starters, I'm not Crabbe nor Goyle." She stated matter-of-factly, "And no offence, but even if I were best friends with them all my life I wouldn't go to them for advice, or confide in them."

Draco snorted just a bit at that. "Yeah, well what makes you so special, Ryans? Out of all the people that I know and trust, why the hell would I go to you?"

"You want a straight answer?" she raised her eyebrows. He inclined his head, mildly amused. "The number of people you know and trust quite probably totals zero to three. I'd say going to me would be a nice choice."

Draco's nostrils flared. "Again, you don't know anything about me, who I am, who I know, and who I trust."

"So I'm wrong, then?" she questioned sceptically. He muttered something (no doubt something offensive) under his breath and angrily strode off without answering.


"God, what do I have to do to make you leave me alone?" he roared, his patience severely strained.

"Look, I'm sorry if I touched a nerve." She put an apologetic hand on his shoulder, which caused Draco to immediately recoil at.

"So what if you were right? Maybe I don't trust that many people. Hooray for getting another thing right." He rolled his eyes.

"Maybe you should trust more people." She shrugged. At the look on his face she sighed, "Don't start raving about all the people who've done you wrong, I'm not one of those people. I've never understood why people decide not to trust people in the future when it's asses in the past who've screwed up. You're cynical and all that, fine. I just don't want you to break down."

"Never talk about me breaking down any time there is a possibility of people hearing," he hissed lowly.

"Just think about it, next time you need to talk. I think I'm just as good of a listener as Myrtle, any way." She smirked. As she started to walk away, she turned back for a moment and stuck an apple in his mouth. "And seriously, you need to eat more, you're starting to look malnourished."

The blonde was too shocked to say anything around the apple before Vanessa chucked his arm in an easy going fashion, gave him a small smile, and left him alone as he had constantly demanded.