(ThisBurningHeart)

AN: Sup, guys? This here is something that I wondered about after I read HBP. There may be a few spoilers, so if you for some reason have not read HBP, beware. Additionally, I am aware of the fact that Draco is not necessarily in character. That is my point. This is MY interpretation of him, guys. More importantly, if you haven't read HBP, BY DAMNIT why are you wasting your time reading this!

I also request that you review upon reading. It simply is nice to know that people are taking the time to read, and how will I know this is being read unless you review?

Furthermore, I do not own Harry Potter, or any of the characters…despite how yummy that sounds.

WHAT THEY NEVER KNEW

Cool wind floated over the ominous castle on a sunny Saturday. Students were outside, enjoying the day and splendid weather to boot. Waves of laughter and thick energy floated over the grounds, causing the atmosphere to be one of almost complete bliss. Such bliss made Draco Malfoy sick.

Bliss. It was a lie. It was fake. It was plastered to the face of nearly every student on that glorious, exceptional, utterly horrid day. He shuddered as he walked down the long roaming hills in order to catch some fresh air. It wasn't fair. All of them with their uninhabited, uninterrupted lives. He wondered what that felt like. What was a life where you were free to grow up as your own self, rather than follow the rules and ordinances of a strict family line? What was it like to feel loved and nurtured by your parents, instead of simply clothed, fed, and given a few empty gifts? Was his even considered a family?

There was just so much that these people, his peers, didn't know about. He, Draco, was thought to be a pillar in the very heart of the school. He wasn't simply another snide, relentless Slytherin. He was the Slytherin. Every boy looked up to him as their leader and every girl fell to fell to their knees before his gaze. People feared him, idolized him, fancied him, and even liked him. If only it stopped there. If only he wasn't expected to be such. By assuming his role, Draco drew upon himself unwritten, unspoken, rules of conduct that were to be enforced without the slightest hesitation.

He was required to hate. To hate each and every person that might cross his path, or oppose his morals. There couldn't be friendships that were more than mere alliances. There couldn't be romance that would interfere with the plans. There couldn't be mercy. These were morals. His father's, Voldemort's, and every other Death Eater and family member he had ever known. But they weren't his.

Every muggle born witch and wizard, all of Dumbledore's had been supporters, every enemy that wasn't his, every Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff. He was required to hate them all, and showcase it with alarming and ferocious passion. Draco did hate them. He hated them because they controlled his life. He couldn't simply let them exist, but was forced to be the one who pointed out every flaw, every mistake, every damned imperfection and falsity that rested inside of them. Because of this, they set his destiny. By being forced to hate them, he was one of them. He was a Death Eater, and bloody hell, he didn't want to be.

Life itself had been arranged and destiny set for him since the moment he was born. He had been given respect, but only by creating it from the fear and sense of superiority that followed the Malfoy name. He had friends that answered to his every beck and call, simply because they idolized his position. Draco had money, but nothing that it could buy would ever satisfy his void. He was handsome and charming, something he would have normally prized had everyone simply thought he was that, instead of assuming that since he was attractive, he was most definitely, the "bad boy". If Draco was going to be said character, he wanted it to be his own choosing. But he could only wish.

His long toned legs carried him down towards the edge of the grounds. A path was carved through the beginnings of the thick wood, and his feet crunched down softly on the dirt as he walked on in silence.

The deserted pathway was where he needed to be. As he followed it into the brush, he wondered hopelessly if he would ever be able to live as an individual. Not as Draco Malfoy; Prince of Slytherin, son of a Death Eater, but solely as Draco Malfoy; Blonde haired and steel eyed.

The sound of running water greeted his ears as he passed over the wooden bridge leading to the boundaries of the grounds. Draco ran a hand through his silken hair, and leaned up against the aged wood of the railing. The water was crystalline over the smooth stones of rock beneath it. It rippled and swirled, the noise simplistic and nullifying, seemingly grasping his torment from the very depths of his mind and throwing it out into the rushing waves. He let out a heavy sigh, and rolled his knotted shoulders. This was the closest he was going to get to peace. This concept was neither a pleasing one nor infuriating, which made Draco growl under his breath. Damn it. Damn it all.

His state of somewhat contentment was short lived, as tinkling laughter floated from below him. Eyes narrowing, he peered over the stream to the plentifully green bank on the other side. Not many people would walk down this far from the castle on a day such as this. This was a strange place for a gathering, a strange place indeed.

A mass of disorderly dark hair, and the form of a young man appeared from the branches. Draco felt his pulse race. It was him. Drawing into the shadows and greenery at the end of the bridge so as not to draw attention to himself, he watched as Potter turned, smiling, to face whatever, or rather, whomever, was behind him. A small figure ducked under a low hanging tree, daintily allowing him to lead her through the woods. Fire red locks spilled around a sun kissed face. Draco felt himself tense.

"Honestly, Harry, where are we going? And why didn't we take the trail?" She laughed, stepping out onto the bank beside him. Draco couldn't help but wonder the same thing. Potter smirked down at her.

"I want to show you something, Gin," he said, taking a step towards the water. Weasley merely looked on, with something he assumed was wonder.

"What are you doing?" She questioned, her large cinnamon brown eyes following Harry's movements. Draco's jaw clenched. Leave it to Potter to be the star. Always was there something he knew that no one else did, or an ability that made people flock to him like he was their savior. He didn't have to play up anything to make people think highly of him. Harry Potter was respected for his courage, loyalty, and lucky skill. He was a hero, and had the respect Draco did not. He watched as he slipped out of his shoes and stepped into the water.

"Come on, it's down just a bit farther, and the woods are too heavy to cross on land," the girl shot him a skeptical glance, as he slowly waded out. He stretched a hand out to her, and she hesitated before placing hers in his, and stepping slowly in after him. She lifted her skirt with her free hand, and cast him a smile. Potter moved down the small stream backwards, grinning at her ridiculously. Draco inched slightly down the wooden planks, his stare following their movement. Some fifteen feet down Harry stopped, gesturing towards one of the trees on the bank. It was very big around, and was rather distressed and beat up looking.

"What is it?" she whispered, cautiously snaking her head around his shoulders to catch a glimpse. She gasped, and chuckled as whatever it was came into view, Draco craning his head to see what the fuss was about. "Oh Harry, can you imagine? All the names on here!" Names?

"I know…I wonder how long it's been here, really," he commented aloud as he muffled his hair. Now quite confused as to what the hell they were talking about, Draco strained his ears to hear more.

"This tree is obviously decades old, but who knows how long the tradition has been going on," she mused. She rested her fingertips on the worn bark.

"It gets better though," he heard Potter remark. Again with the ridiculous smile, he beckoned her to the side of the tree. "See there? Up by that branch in the big heart?" It suddenly dawned on him. The markings and wear marks on the bark of the tree weren't any of the sort, but names of couples and past loves. Draco's stomach would have twisted painfully at the thought that he had no name to carve on that tree, but he was so used to the feeling, it only feebly sank at the realization. Potter's girl swooned, a silly smile playing at her lips. She read aloud.

"Molly & Arthur-oh hell it's my parents! I just know it!" she beamed.

"Yeah, look below it."

"The Future Longbottoms? Neville, oh honestly! Sirius Black and….who?"

"Apparently more than one girl wanted to have their name next to his," Potter laughed. Draco squinted, barely able to make anything out before casting a magnification charm to enhance his vision. A large number of names had been scratched over and listed next to the name. Smirking to himself, he wouldn't doubt that many girls would do the same if his name was on the tree. Too bad he didn't care about any of those girls.

"Severus Snape and Ima Disgustingbloke!" She shrieked in laughter as she read off the slam. Potter continued smiling, his hands in his pockets.

"That was one of my favorites."

"No doubt Sirius and James-oh Harry, look," she murmured, her voice suddenly soft and empathetically gentle. Draco's eyes shifted to where she was staring. "Lily Evans and James Potter," Harry's head hung at her words, his fists forcing themselves even deeper into their pockets.

"It's nice seeing it you know? That they were in love like that, I mean. I can almost picture them here, just like this," Weasley wrapped her arms around his arm, comforting him silently. An uncomfortable lump formed in Draco's throat at the sincere gesture the impudent young man before him was receiving. Undoubtedly Potter took for granted the simple power of a touch, or empathetic gestures.

Draco knew all about those. He knew how most of the time when he received said empathy from anyone, let alone a girl, it was merely in attempt to get on his good side in order to reap the 'benefits'. To see someone not appreciate such a tender action made him sick. His lips curled into a snarl as he saw Potter's arms wrap around her likewise, eyes clenched tight as a shimmer of a tear escaped from under his framed eyelids.

He almost felt sorry for him. Draco knew what it was like to have to endure so much pain on account of ones parents. He knew that it was a colossal burden to carry, and had a powerful impact on your very life. But he was different than Potter. They did not share pain. Potter's was grief, sadness, perhaps emptiness and loneliness. Draco's was bitter, crude and hateful. Jealousy flowed through his veins at the image of the picture perfect families like the one the little princess before him came from. If they shared any of the same feelings, it was for two entirely different reasons. He wondered for a brief moment if the void in himself he had been contemplating earlier was present in Potter's being, but he realized quite suddenly, and not for the first time, that the boy before him had many things he did not. Surely there was an empty pit in his heart, a part of him that longed for something unattainable, but it was eased with the love of others, the love of this girl. A love that Draco had never experienced. Harsh whispers met his ears as they spoke again.

"Harry, they were great people. I want you to know that I really care about you, and…an-" her words disappeared as something happened that Draco had never quite imagined possible. Potter had kissed a girl. All coherent things vanished from his mind. He stood, a stone faced expressionless statue, as he watched them. Emotions that he worked hard to keep under the surface flickered through his chest. His breathing was surprisingly even.

"I love you, Harry," her voice was soft, but the words crashed in Draco's ears like thunder.

"Thanks for that," the stupid git muttered before burying his face in her luscious red tresses. Turning and retreating across the planks was all he could do from throwing himself over the railing of the bridge. His black leather boots snapped against the wood, and he didn't care if they saw him. Served them bloody right.

A different kind of hate was refueled as he stalked onto the dirt path, away from them. This hate wasn't forced upon him. It wasn't unsupported and expected, but was his own. Draco Malfoy hated Harry Potter. Not because he was Dumbledore reincarnated, not because he was Gryffindor, and not because he had nearly sent his father and Voldemort to their deaths. (Though, the thought that Potter caused his father to be further involved with Voldemort, therefore causing Draco to be involved was a bit infuriating). The real reason Draco hated Harry fucking Potter was because of the things he didn't appreciate. How could he not notice that he had things that other people would have killed to have? People cared about him, stuck up for him, respected him, and bloody well loved him. And despite all this, all Potter could do was say 'Thanks for that?' Malfoy shook his head in disgust. If Weasley would have wrapped her arms around his waist, rubbed his back while taking off some of his pain and making it her own, told him she loved him, he would have done a lot more than mutter a ruddy thank you. Despicable, really. The insolent bastard.

God, he would have done much more than that. Draco could only imagine the ways in which he would express his gratitude to the ruby haired Weasley. He sympathized for her. Her family went through tremendous turmoil just to live, and was scrutinized to the death by Draco's own words. His father's words, really. Had the circumstances been different, had he not been bound by the ropes placed upon him, perhaps she would have been lovely. Hell, she was lovely now, but Draco was not, and he knew this full well.

Sometimes, in his fantasies, he thought about her. Nothing dirty, really, but merely imagined what it would be like to expose her to things she didn't have. For you see, Draco had seen things very similar to what had just happened many times before. Instances where she had willingly given Potter her affection, only to get next to nothing in return. He wanted to change that. Something told him that Ginny Weasley wouldn't take things for granted. She would marvel at the wonders he could show her. He would have given anything to be treasured, loved, or cared for like one of those things.

Dust blew up from the swift movement of his boots on the ground, stinging his eyes. Well, it was either the dust or something else, and Draco wasn't one to consider indulging in what that something else was. Malfoys did not cry. Slytherins didn't cry. Draco certainly never cried. He veered off the path and onto the grounds. Many of the students were heading inside, and after glancing at his platinum custom wrist watch, deducted that they were most likely washing up before dinner in the Great Hall in 15 minutes.

Skipping dinner hadn't really been intentional. Truthfully, he had simply stood at the lake's edge for a few minutes, or so he had thought, until he once again consulted his watch. A few minutes had turned into 45, and dinner was well underway. Skipping it seemed logical, as eating seemed only a hindrance in his current state anyway. He had to do something. This wasn't living. He shakily clenched a fist as he realized he was on the brink. On one hand lay fame, fortune, and power. On the other lay … what did lay on the other side? Everything else? In a normal situation he supposed that would mean feelings, dreams, hope, maybe love, happiness, and self truth. That was the half of his life that was supposed to be devoted to his desires and passions. In short, it was the side that was devoted to himself. The only troubling thought was that he didn't know who he was. He had been molded, crafted, and raised to a standard. Somewhere along the way, he had simply been deprived of the opportunity to have such things as self truth.

Draco closed his eyes as a breeze blew against him, luminous white blonde locks brushing against his cheekbones. The day had long since grown dark, as the hour pressed towards evening. Dark skies and empty grounds made for a silent and tranquil moment. So when very soft, very slowly moving footsteps drifted from somewhere behind him, he quickly felt his senses tingle. No one should be out. Not when dinner was in session.

Fingers twitching achingly for his wand, he suppressed the instinct to turn around madly. They were obviously trying to approach undetected, and experience told him that meant they were most likely not pleasant company. The light steps carried closer, and he could practically feel the other person behind him. Just three more steps….two…one…

In a flash he whirled around, grasping a thin body and slamming it into a tree, wand erect and held to their throat. A splash of freckles, shining red locks, a lean and slender build, and snappy cinnamon eyes met his leer. Draco was sent reeling.

"Not eating tonight either, Malfoy?" her face was nearly unreadable, voice tense. Her effort to maintain her composure was commendable, but Draco's keen eyes knew when a person was intimidated. He could spot the reaction with his eyes closed (in fact, he had done so before on several occasions). Her heaving chest and straining neck muscles had given her away. The effect wasn't unnatural, though he wondered if her ragged breathing was instead due to the fact that his body was pinning hers to a rather rigid oak tree.

"I could be asking you the same, Weasley," he replied, voice low and intense, "but I'm more interested in as to why you were pathetically attempting to creep up behind me," She swallowed as the tip of his wand grazed her skin.

"I wasn't."

"Don't lie, Weasley, it doesn't suit you."

"How would you know what suits me, Malfoy?" Draco felt himself smile at her words. A dark side to a Weasel? That was indeed an intriguing thought.

"I have my ways," he slid his wand down the creamy skin of her neck to rest at her heart. Her breath hitched, and Draco felt the smile turn into a smirk.

"I'm not scared of you, you know," she said in defiance, though he could almost taste her body's reaction.

"I'm doing something to you right now."

"That's what scares me," Draco was taken aback, and thought he must have misunderstood.

"What was that?" he asked, silver eyes gleaming.

"Nothing…." She breathed. His eyes narrowed.

"Tell me what you were up to, or I may just have to continue doing whatever it is I'm doing," he demanded, pressing his body full up against her, his wand trailing down her side to trace her curves. His lips curled as he felt her legs wobble precariously beneath his own. Ginny's hands groped helplessly at the side of tree, the motions not enough to support her failing limbs. She took a quivering breath before speaking.

"I…you….earlier…oh hell! Malfoy, I know you saw Harry and I!" She belted out rather unexpectedly. He arched an attractive eyebrow.

"And? Not that unusual is it? You and Potter snogging all over the place, him every bit as unappreciative as always?" He sneered fiercely. He had meant the question to be rhetorical.

"Yes it is unusual, and I- wait, what?" The words just seemed to sink in, and she broke off mid sentence, face screwed up in a mixture of astonishment and confusion.

"You heard me."

"Yes, I know, and that is why I'm demanding an explanation."

"You honestly don't notice yourself? Oh, come on Weasley, I know you're not anywhere near that thick," he shot, eyebrow quirking this time out of disbelief. At least he hoped she wasn't.

"Unappreciative? Harry? Are you mad? He would never treat anything or anyone like that!" Draco felt his last bit of restraint vanish.

"Oh please! It's always all about him! Everything he does, everything he says, all of it!"

"That's not true! He cares about people!"

"Bloody hell, Ginny! How can you not see it! God, I was there too, I saw it! I see it every day…," he nearly screamed at her, slamming his fist into the tree only inches from her head. Turning his back on her out of frustration, he stared blankly out onto the lake once more, a crease forming in between his eyes. He didn't think he had ever called her by her actual name.

"What are you talking about?" she asked. Her words were less biting, and Draco could tell her defenses were crumbling. He would win this fight, and she would understand.

"Why did he take you to the tree?"

"To show me…I don't know, I guess he thought it was interesting, maybe in his mind a bit romantic," Draco scoffed.

"Romantic? You can't be serious!"

"Well I was! You know Malfoy, romance isn't all expensive jewelry, there's more to it than that! Though I say I'm hardly surprised you don't understand that, I've never seen that side of you before," she meant the words to sound cruel, but just couldn't bring herself to form the icy tone. Instead, they merely sounded soft, and almost regretful.

"That's not the point!"

"Well then bloody make your point, already!" He turned once again at her words, and stalked towards her in 3 giant strides. His eyes were hooded, and looked almost menacing in the dancing shadows on his pale skin. Draco saw her eyes widen, and she stumbled backwards, nearly tripping over a tree root. He grasped her shoulders, and flattened her body against the tree with his own once more. This was how he liked her, stuttering and breathless beneath him, leaving him in charge. He would let her know the truth.

"Do you remember what he said to you? About his parents?" She could only nod, transfixed by the peculiar look on his face. One she hadn't seen before.

"It's nice seeing it you know? That they were in love like that, I mean. I can almost picture them here, just like this. Isn't that what he said, Ginny?"

"Yes…"

"Just. Like. This." Ginny closed her eyes, cringing. He watched, in silence. When the tears started to form, he knew she understood.

"Just like them. It always is. Everything…" she croaked out, crystalline tears now sliding freely down her cheeks.

"How can you be with someone whose only concern is of that which he can't have? You exist simply as a pillar that supports Potter's idiotic mourning. Bloody hell, it's like he doesn't even realize that you'd give him your love without his grief. It's almost as if he's dating you simply to be like his parents!" Draco braced his hands on either side of her face as his eyes bore into hers.

"I didn't want to think that, but I…you…you're right," she shuddered, and then added as if an afterthought, "Draco."

He looked at her, feeling somewhat different then he had pictured he would after she admitted defeat. How hard was it for this gir- young lady, Draco noted inwardly- to admit that her gracious, heroic love wasn't that at all? The satisfaction wasn't there. No, he didn't take any particular joy in her pain.

"I'm sorry. I...know what it's like…to have someone use you like that. To not matter as a person, but to matter simply because you are. You're just like-"

"The person filling in the blank," she nearly whispered. Draco swallowed. Suddenly Weasley had a lot more than his attention. She was the only person that he could ever remember coming even possibly close to understanding how he felt. His pulse quickened quite uncomfortably.

"Exactly…." His voice was low, and he was staring at her with acute fascination. Draco took a step forward, pondering the other ways she could relate to him. Her tears had stopped, and her glassy eyes were latched onto his. Her eyes seemed to speak to him, pleading with him. Other emotions replaced the anger and resentment that had been lurking in the back of his mind as he stared her down, his eyes narrowing in concentration.

One of his hands slipped behind her shoulders, drawing her to him. She was quite a bit shorter than him, and he leaned down tentatively, past her sugary eyes, past her nose dusted with freckles, to catch her soft lips in a kiss. Her breath hitched at the contact, and he felt her body relax, melting into his. It was all Draco could do from moaning, and when she sighed contentedly, he did just that. His other arm wrapped its way around her back, capturing her in a firm hold against his chest.

The fact the she was returning the kiss was probably what threw him over the edge. He felt his insides swell with something he wasn't used to feeling. She was returning his kiss, she understood him. She was like the person holding his hand as he walked through the darkness that was his life. She was amazing, and quite suddenly the kiss wasn't enough for Draco. He needed something more from her, something that scared him.

At the realization he broke away abruptly, swallowing as her breath still toyed at his neck. What had he gotten himself into?

"Look I-" He started as he slowly let her slide down his body. He had expected her to respond, to react, to ask him what was going on, anything. But nothing came. She just looked up at him, her lips slightly parted, her breathing shallow. The fear that had been present at the realization froze, and vanished in turn. Another moment passed, until a cocky smirk crept onto his lips.

"Well I guess you can consider that a taste of what could be to come," he leaned forward so that their lips barely touched, "Ginny." She shuddered. Draco turned, heading back up towards the castle, the smirk still present. He had left her breathless.

That was undoubtedly a good sign. It was all in her hands now.

Maybe he had found the one person that knew.

END

Quite possibly the most abruptly ended story I have ever written. I'm thinking about a sequel. Review please!

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