Author's Notes (April, 2014): As I am planning to finally finish this story this year (yay!), I have made the decision to completely revamp all earlier chapters. What does that means for you as a reader? Well... if you recently or even once upon a time (as far back as 2008, under my previous FF account) read any portion of this story, it has changed significantly enough (in my mind at least) for it to be worthwhile to re-read. If you choose not to re-read, future chapters will still make sense but everything will flow much better now as a whole. I also like to think it has improved the story overall :) If you are reading this story for the first time, enjoy! Feel free to leave a review and let me know what you think.
Original AN: Hey :) This fic is based on a fic challenge by Rowan-Greenleaf. It is set in Ginny's 6th year, Draco's 7th. Pretending that the last two books didn't happen :)
Disclaimer: Don't own Harry Potter. or Draco. lesigh
Prologue: Draco Goes Completely Nutters
Surprisingly, Crabbe and Goyle were the first to notice Draco Malfoy's unusual behaviour.
In the beginning, they thought nothing of it; thinking for themselves did not come naturally after all. But when Malfoy was suddenly no longer there to order his cronies around, well... even a fish would notice if its owner stopped feeding it after a couple of days.
At a complete loss of what to do without their fearless leader, the pair began watching as Malfoy's behaviour went from noticeably peculiar to downright outrageous, and increasingly so with each passing day.
No one at Hogwarts, including his loyal henchmen, could quite recall the exact date when they first became consciously aware of a change in the blonde seventh year Slytherin. They weren't even quite sure what that change was exactly. They just knew that something had to have occurred to cause such an alteration in his usual aloof, superior-than-thou demeanor. At the time, those who noticed anything brushed the thought aside, assuming that Malfoy was simply having an off day.
As the days went on, however, it became increasingly evident to not just the students of Hogwarts but the professors as well that something was most definitely up with the young Mister Malfoy. For a start, he was quick to anger and would glare accusingly when approached by his fellow students. Even those within his circle of acquaintances – no one could quite bring themselves to call them Malfoy's 'friends' – were not spared from his wrath.
This pattern continued, and those individuals who had thought that Malfoy was simply having a bad day stubbornly insisted that he must just be having a bad week.
They began to doubt themselves, however, when he started to act blatantly suspicious of anyone who came into his immediate vicinity. Malfoy had always been considered 'unapproachable' by just about anyone other than his housemates and, of course, his legion of adoring fangirls that he had somehow managed to amass with his good looks and his nonchalant 'I don't give a rat's ass' bad boy attitude. After one particular episode, what was labeled by the entire school populous as 'the incident', no one was brave enough to try and approach the Slytherin – not even his most ardent stalker Rose Zeller, a third year Hufflepuff.
Odder still, Malfoy suddenly stopped paying attention in his classes. But that wasn't abnormal in and of itself, for students often daydreamed or slept though classes, much to most professor's chagrin. Sensing his inattentiveness, as professors always seem to possess the uncanny ability to detect, they began calling upon him to answer more often. When that happened, Malfoy would act startled for a moment as if he truly hadn't been paying attention. But then he would look whatever professor had spoken to him dead in the eyes and hold their gaze with his own while succinctly providing the correct answer. Every. Single. Time. He never gave an incorrect answer; no matter what the subject was, he would always answer the question posed to him perfectly. Eventually all of his professors, even his Head of House, became unnerved enough that they stopped calling on him entirely.
The next noticeable change in the blonde Slytherin was that he started muttering to himself aloud. Constantly. Even in public. It was rather unsettling to witness and, as a result, Malfoy had terrified many first and second years into needing to seek treatment from Madam Pomfrey in the Hospital Wing before the end of the first week.
By the beginning of the second week, he was avoiding people altogether with no explanation. Even Crabbe and Goyle, his loyal manservants, were left entirely to their own devices.
Malfoy abruptly could not be found anywhere outside of his classes or the Great Hall. No one could recall spotting him traveling in the corridors to and from classes or meals. He eventually avoided eating in the Great Hall altogether. It was unnatural enough when he stopped delivering his usual scathing comments towards the other 'lesser' students but Malfoy even – Merlin forbid! – stopped philandering with his usual array of female admirers.
At the start of the third week, Malfoy had for all intents and purposes become a ghost at Hogwarts. He would lurk, concealed in the shadows and then, when a student was caught out alone, he would unexpectedly emerge out of nowhere to scare him or her witless. Students were forced to travel in pairs or groups, in the hopes of avoiding the blonde Slytherin. The weirdest part was that he seemed to take no pleasure in their fear, something he had always done in the past. He merely watched their reactions and then slinked back into the shadows from whence he came.
Few people understood Malfoy's strange behaviour; even most of this fellow Slytherins seemed truly puzzled by his actions.
It was almost as if was he was attempting to perform some sort of test or experiment and expected to achieve a certain result. But whatever it was never seemed to come about, for his bizarre behaviour not only continued but worsened exponentially each passing day.
Odder still was that he excluded no one from whatever it was he was doing. It didn't matter what House you were from or what year you were in, at some point or another Draco Malfoy would suddenly appear out of thin air and frighten the unsuspecting bystander. Not even the professors were spared. Professor Sprout had to be admitted to the Infirmary and heavily sedated after a confrontation one morning with the blonde Slytherin. It turned that as the stout Professor had been on her merry way to the greenhouses at some dark ungodly hour, Malfoy had suddenly stepped out in front of her in the darken corridor, blocking her path and subsequently causing her to suffer a panic attack.
No one seemed to understand what was wrong with Malfoy, although most of his fellow housemates seemed to be of the same opinion that his behaviour was all part of some grandiose master plan, even if no one in Slytherin had any idea what it could possibly be. They refused to believe, like most of the other students had by this point, that perhaps Draco Malfoy had just simply lost his marbles.
After almost three weeks of observing their leader's odd behaviour, Crabbe and Goyle could not take it anymore.
"Do you think he's going to stop acting barmy soon?" Goyle asked.
"No," replied Crabbe. "But we need to do something about it. I can't stand Malfoy like this."
"So what do we do?" Goyle looked expectantly at Crabbe, as if he had all the answers in Malfoy's absence.
Crabbe looked down at the floor for several minutes, his face scrunched up as he thought hard. Suddenly he looked up at his companion in triumph, as if a light bulb had suddenly switched on above him. "I know!" he said as a wide and rather nightmarish smile slowly spread across his face. "Let's ask Malfoy. Maybe he'll tell us what's up, and then we'll fix it, and everything can all go back to normal!"
This seemed like an excellent plan to Goyle, for he began to practically bounce up and down where he stood before clapping quite gleefully. A twisted sort of giggle escaped from deep in his throat then, which was actually quite a hideous and sinister sound. So much so that it frightened a group of nearby third years half to death, most of whom were already frozen in utter disbelief from simply hearing Malfoy's sidekicks speak – let alone actually converse somewhat intelligently. The ghastly sound undeniably caused one girl in particular to faint from pure terror and the poor student had to be carried away by her friends to the Infirmary.
Nevertheless, Crabbe and Goyle paid them no attention whatsoever as they now had a mission of their own to focus on: to find Malfoy, discover what was wrong and fix it so that everything could go back to normal. Things would never be quite the same, however, as everyone at Hogwarts would find out by the time the week was over.
The initial confrontation between Malfoy and his two cronies did not go as well was they had expected. He had refused to speak to them about his strange behaviour, all the while mumbling under his breath and glaring around in a suspicious manner at anything that so much as moved.
It was only after they had refused, or were just too plain dumb to take no for an answer that Malfoy reluctantly agreed to let them help. He ultimately came to the conclusion that this sort of plan was way beyond their intellectual capacity anyway, and therefore they were probably the only ones at the school that he could trust; as much as any Malfoy could trust another human being.
Without any real sort of explanation, he sent his cronies on a mission. Their orders were simple: to observe the other students and even the professors. What they were looking for exactly was still a mystery, as Malfoy had deemed it unnecessary for them to know that type of information. All they knew was that they were given a short list of instructions and anyone that they thought might be acting suspiciously was to be reported straight away. He would take of the rest, Malfoy had said with an evil glint in his eyes, followed by loud manic laughter that had frightened even Crabbe and Goyle.
They had glanced at each other then and shared a silent thought that, perhaps, Malfoy might just be nutters after all. Oh well, they shrugged, dismissing the thought entirely. They had what they desired: orders to follow. Crabbe and Goyle swore that they would not let Malfoy down. They would find whoever was responsible for their leader's strange behaviour and turn him or her over to receive their just reward.
The pair of Slytherins found their first real victim later that very day: Colin Creevey. The poor boy had been sitting in a secluded corner of the library when Malfoy's two cronies appeared. Whatever he had been doing, they had deemed suspicious enough to warrant bringing him back to Malfoy.
They didn't even bother to say a word to the Gryffindor. As he glanced up and noticed their presence with wide startled eyes, Goyle simply silenced him by physically knocking him out with a thick book to the temple. As he slumped unceremoniously onto the floor, Crabbe picked him none too gently and threw the unconscious boy over his shoulder like he was nothing more than a sack of potatoes before carrying him out of the library, a quill still clutched in his dangling hand.
Thus Malfoy's cronies kidnapped the poor boy and no one who saw the odd abduction dared to stop them or question their motives. Everyone had been avoiding Malfoy since his strange behaviour had begun and they certainly would not intervene now. Not even the bravest Gryffindor wanted to get involved when Malfoy was this unpredictable and quite possibly crazy.
That left poor Colin Creevey in the hands of Draco Malfoy, whose sanity had been called into question of late.
It was a little over two days before anyone saw him again. Colin never knew how he had made it back to Gryffindor and he couldn't recall giving the password or even what it was that particular week. The portrait of the Fat Lady swung open, revealing the nearly empty Gryffindor Common Room. It was always quiet this early on a Saturday morning, most students preferring to sleep in as late as possible. Stumbling into the room, he collapsed onto the nearest couch and promptly passed out. The few students awake and alive at that indecent hour took pity on him and let him sleep in peace.
When he awoke several hours later, he was unable to answer any of his housemates' questions about his disappearance. In fact, for several hours, he simply could not utter even a single word and could only stare blankly ahead. The Gryffindors all agreed to leave him alone for the time being, as no one wanted to upset the poor boy any further.
He had certainly been through enough, they all assumed.
It was mid-afternoon before he came out of his daze. Colin refused to answer any questions or speak about where he had been or what had happened to him. The only person he wanted to talk to was his best friend, Ginny Weasley. Everyone just assumed that the whole ordeal had simply been too traumatizing to share with anyone else.
But Colin had another reason for wanting to speak to his best friend. He had to warn her... before it was too late.
But Ginny was not in the common room nor could she be found in her dormitory. No one had taken notice of her that day; even her brother was at a loss as to where she could be. Ron simply had no idea where she usually spent her free time, but that hardly surprised anyone. Ron never paid any particular attention to his sister unless it was to protect her from what he considered to be unwanted male attention. Ginny was the type of person that somehow managed to avoid notice, despite her fiery personality and her long mane of red hair to go along with it.
Colin, being unable to hide his anxiety for his friend, gathered together a small group of Gryffindors. He kept the group small, so as to not raise any alarms. The search party was made up of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville and Colin himself. He omitted the real reason for needing to find her, saying only that he desperately needed to talk to his friend. Luckily, no one was willing to deny him such a request after his recent ordeal.
He knew that it was only a matter of time before Malfoy got to her, if he had not done so already. It was going to dark in a few hours so Colin made sure that the small group began searching immediately. They roamed across the entire castle, checking each floor at a time trying to find the elusive redhead. Yet only Colin knew how dire the situation truly was, how important it was that they find Ginny. He had to warn her.
They would not be successful in their search, however. The Gryffindors would be unable to find the youngest Weasley before Malfoy got to her. And poor Ginny had no idea, no warning, of what was to come.