DISCLAIMER: I own only the plot. Everything else is owned by JKRowling, especially the quote from "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" since she wrote it before me.

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Three months went by and, I have to say, they were the happiest three months of my life. Hermione and I went from strength to strength, Harry and Ron became two of my best friends, and Neville soon stopped hiding every time he saw me.

I suddenly realised it was a year since the Yule Ball. A year since my feelings for Hermione had altered so dramatically. When I said this to her she frowned and said, "I can't believe how horrible I was to you that night! I feel so bad about it!"

"Don't, Herm." I smiled, "Up until then I'd done absolutely nothing to deserve you. If I were you I would've done the same."

As it was the Christmas holidays, nearly everyone had gone home. Absolutely none of the Slytherins remained and the only Gryffindors left were Hermione, Harry, Ron, Ginny and myself. It was Boxing Day and I was playing a game of chess with Ginny. Hermione was reading the book I'd got her for Christmas while Ron and Harry played exploding snap. We were all pretty quiet. I think we'd over-dosed on turkey. I for one was feeling slightly ill. Suddenly the portrait hole opened and Professor McGonagall came through and called me over to her. She looked incredibly grim.

"We have a situation." She began quietly, "Malfoy, your father has found out about you becoming a Gryffindor and about your relationship with Miss Granger. He has also discovered that you spent your summer here under the protection of Dumbledore. Needless to say he is extremely angry about this."

"What's he trying to do?" I asked, going paler than usual.

"He sent Dumbledore an owl a few minutes ago demanding that you go back to Malfoy Manor and be dealt with accordingly. Naturally Dumbledore has refused."

"But..." I prompted.

"But he has reason to believe that your father will launch an offensive against Hogwarts. It is most likely that he will do this himself, without You Know Who's say-so. But we cannot risk him finding you at all. This means you should stay in this tower at all times. The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs will also be informed to stay where they are. It might be best if you explain to your fellow Gryffindors what is going on. If either me or Dumbledore wish to speak to you, we will come to you. Do not venture outside of this tower. Is that understood?"

"Yes Professor." I said.

Professor McGonagall left and I went back over to the others. Their reactions to what I had to say were all different. Hermione ran to get her copy of "Hogwarts: A History" to try to prove my father wouldn't be able to attack. Ginny blanched - she looked petrified. Harry looked unbelievably worried. I knew he was wondering if You Know Who would come with my father or not. Ron just said, "Look, you're being protected by Dumbledore. If You Know Who's scared of him then your father definitely will be. I don't think he'll be able to touch you."

I felt awful. The rest of the students staying here were now indanger. And it was because of me. Little, insignificant me.

I went to bed early that night but I couldn't sleep. When Harry and Ron came up they tried to talk to me but I pretended to be asleep. I couldn't cope with chit-chat and sympathy right then.

I was still awake at four o'clock while Ron and Harry's snores filled the room. I lay there, the moonlight streaming in through the window on to my face. I've had enough, I thought. I clambered out of bed and pulled on my robes. I went down the stairs and sat in the common room.

I don't know how long I was sat there for but it felt like hours, even though it couldn't have been. I was curled up in one of the big armchairs facing the fire when I heard the portrait hole open and close behind me. I looked over my shoulder but there was no one there. "Harry?" I thought he'd been out in his invisibility cloak.

I was wrong.

My father, Lucius Malfoy, appeared in front of me, an invisibility cloak in one hand, his wand in the other.

"Ah, Draco... My son." He spat bitterly.

"What are you doing here? You shouldn't... I can call for help. Any of the teachers could be here in moments."

"Even you know that is not true, boy." He hissed, "This tower is so out of the way, no one would hear." I didn't know what to say to this so I just glared at him. "So you fell in love with a Mudblood and became a Gryffindor. How touching..."

"Don't you dare call Hermione that!" I half-shouted at him, "She's worth a million of you!"

"You could have been Lord Voldemort's right hand. You could have been one of the greatest wizards of the age. But what do you choose? Mudbloods and Muggle-lovers!"

"Draco, what's going on?" Hermione's voice came from the girls' staircase.

I whirled around. "Herm, get back! Go back to the dormitory!"

"So this is the Mudblood you gave up all of your dignity for? Draco, Draco, Draco... She's not even attractive." Lucius (I no longer wished to call him my father) laughed coldly. Hermione was still standing at the foot of the staircase. Lucius turned to her. "So Mudblood, what spell did you put on my son? What arts did you use?" He sneered.

"I... I... I..." Hermione stuttered.

"She didn't do anything! I chased her! Leave her out of this, Lucius! It's between you and me!" I was really shouting now.

"It is everything to do with her!" Lucius snarled, "If it was not for her, you would have stayed on the side you were born on."

I felt my own wand in my hand. Right now I wanted to harm him. Kill him. But I wouldn't stoop to his level. I watched as he rounded on Hermione again. He pointed his wand at her.

"Goodbye, Mudblood." He spat, "AVADA KEDAVRA!"

A jet of green light shot out of his wand, straight at my Hermione. Without thinking I leaped in front of her, pointing my own wand at Lucius. Just as the spell hit me, I yelled, "PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!" At least, when I was gone, he wouldn't be able to harm my Hermione, I thought as I saw him tumble over.

I fell to the floor. All I could feel was intense pain. I could here my Hermione screaming my name over and over again. But then, the only sound I could here was in my own head, "You might belong in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart..."

Then I was at peace.

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A/N: This is the last chapter. I strayed from my original idea of having a happy ending where Draco proves himself to the Gryffindors because I thought it would be much more interesting for him to prove himself while still having a sad ending. If you are wondering why Draco put the full-body bind on Lucius and didn't kill him, it's because a true Gryffindor would never use one of the Unforgivable Curses. Instead, Draco left Lucius alive so he could pay for his crimes in Azkaban which, I assure you, he did.