A/N: A very long time ago I promised the lovely Jack Tamara that I would write her a one-shot for her birthday. Alas, I failed miserably at getting it completed on time. That being said, I am a woman of my word, so here is your (very, very belated) birthday fic, my dear. I do apologise for the wait. Hopefully, the extra chapter will make up for my tardiness. ^_~
I should also state that this fic is loosely based on a challenge that JT made at The DG Forum, in which Ginny was asked to be a maid at Malfoy manor. Credit must also be given to the amazing Dark Sanctuary, whose powerful music helped set the mood for this fic. In particular, I would recommend listening to the songs Les Entrailles de Ce Purgatoire, Summoning of the Muse, Silence Macabre, The Garden of Jane Delawney, Les Larmes du Méprisé, and Je M'En Irai.
Finally, I would like to thank Aerileigh for all her help with going over this chapter and being the general amazing person she is. You're the best, Leigh. ^_^
There was blood everywhere. It choked her nostrils, her mouth, her eyes, smothering all her senses in a wave of crimson. She could hear the men coming closer and stumbled drunkenly over to where her brother was lying. He would have looked like he was sleeping were it not for the sticky patches of red coating his robes.
"Come on, Ron," she whispered, taking his hand. "We have to move."
She tried to pull him forward, but his skin was slick with blood and she lost her grip. He fell back to the ground in a broken heap, yet his eyes continued to stare fixedly at her. Ginny shoved her fist in her mouth so that she wouldn't scream.
"I heard something from over there," a man's voice called from the other side of the house.
Ginny started at the sound and looked frantically around for a place to hide. Her eyes fell on her father's old work shed. She took one last look at her brother's lifeless face, then turned and ran. An animal had made a burrow underneath the shed, and she quickly dropped to all floors and crawled through the mud, pushing herself through the small gap. There she lay, trembling with fear, still with a fist in her mouth to stop herself from crying too loudly.
The men came around the corner, dressed in their black robes and silver masks. Her heart started beating faster as she watched them approach. She wished she had a wand, but she'd had no chance to grab it from her room when the Death Eaters had attacked. She could only hope no one would find her.
One of the men paused before Ron's body and gave him a sharp kick. "Dead," he announced in a voice that barely concealed his contempt. "Reckon that's the last of them?"
The tallest of the group glanced about the clearing and Ginny held her breath as his gaze fell on the shed. He walked forward, and she scrambled back further into the darkness, brushing against cobwebs and spiders, and feeling things with many legs crawl along her skin. She had never liked bugs, but it didn't take much effort for her to remain still. She was so terrified she could not have moved even if she wanted to.
The man stopped directly before her hiding place so that his boots were just inches from her face. She bit harder on her fist, and her heart pounded so furiously against her chest that she was sure he must be able to hear it.
"Tell me, Verick," the man said in a smooth voice, "how many little weasels did you count eating their dinner before we attacked?"
"I thought so," he murmured, and Ginny shivered at the amusement lacing his voice.
"Thought what, sir?" Verick questioned.
"Nine little weasels sat down to dinner, yet there are only eight bodies accounted for." The man suddenly knelt down and Ginny found herself meeting a pair of cold grey eyes through the slits of his mask. "Hello, little weasel," he murmured, shining the light of his wand on her terrified face.
She let out a sharp breath and tried to crawl away from him, but he was too fast and grasped her by the hair with lightning speed, dragging her out from the shed. She struggled and screamed, desperately trying to break from his hold, but his grip tightened on her like a vice so that her body was crushed against his.
"Shh," the man cooed as Ginny sobbed against him, still half-heartedly trying to break free. "There now, there's no need to cry."
He stroked her hair with his free hand, and Ginny felt suddenly very ill. She did not like his sudden display of tenderness.
"Now then, let me have a look at you," he said gently.
He raised her chin so that she had no choice but to look into his piercing eyes. There was no softness in his gaze, not even a hint of amorousness. He simply stared at her with detached appraisal, as if determining whether she was worth it for him to kill or not.
"She's not bad looking," one of the men leered. "Think we could have a bit of fun with her before we kill her?"
Ginny recoiled and glared at the leering man, daring him to try it. He laughed, unimpressed by her silent threat.
"She's got spirit, too," he grinned. "That's good. I like the ones who put up a fight."
"None of you will be touching her," her captor said firmly, releasing Ginny's chin. "I'm going to take her back to the manor with me."
"But, sir—" the man named Verick exclaimed, taking a step forward.
"Do not presume to lecture me, Verick. The Dark Lord will not care if one insignificant girl is spared. Besides," he added, giving Ginny another appraising look, "I think she could be useful. We need a new servant at the manor, and house-elves have become so difficult to come by these days. This girl will do nicely."
Some of the men grumbled at this, not liking the fact that a blood traitor like her was going to be spared, but they were clearly too in awe of the tall Death Eater to question his authority. Ginny hugged her arms around her trembling body, uncertain if this was a good thing or not. She was too numb with fear and the distress of seeing her family murdered to fully comprehend the significance of what was happening. The only thing her mind could grasp was that, for whatever reason, this Death Eater wanted her alive.
The tall man removed his mask and Ginny's blood went cold as she found herself staring up into the handsome face of Lucius Malfoy. He smiled down at her, though there was no warmth in the expression.
"Well, girl, are you willing to serve me as your master?"
Ginny felt a wave of revulsion sweep through her at the thought of serving this smooth-tongued monster. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see her brother's bloodstained body lying abandoned for whatever animal might find it. This seemed to give her some resolve, and she swallowed back her fear and bitterness and simply nodded her head.
"Good," Lucius said, neither pleased nor disappointed. It was obvious he had been expecting no less from her.
Ginny wondered if she had made a mistake, but it was too late to turn back now. Lucius dismissed his men and then tightened his grip on her shoulder.
And then they were gone.
There was a bell ringing in the distance. Ginny took one last glance at the mirror and smoothed down her black dress. She looked modest and neat, as she always did. Her dress came right up to her throat and extended down below her knees, revealing nothing of her figure except her slimness. Black stockings covered her legs, and she wore serviceable black shoes on her feet. It was the kind of attire designed to make the wearer appear as plain as possible, for Narcissa Malfoy said that servants weren't supposed to draw attention to themselves. Ginny would have been perfectly happy to comply with this rule as well, except that her hair, which was a vibrant shade of red, naturally demanded attention even when worn in a tightly plaited bun. The very starkness of her clothes only served to emphasise the rich colour of her hair.
Ginny sighed as the bell began ringing more insistently. "I'm coming," she muttered, turning away from the mirror.
She exited her small bedroom and headed towards the parlour, entering the room just as Narcissa had taught her – which meant making as little noise as possible. A good servant, so Narcissa said, should not appear to exist in the house at all. Unfortunately, Bellatrix Lestrange was very fond of making Ginny's life miserable, and it was Bellatrix who noticed her first.
"Well, well," Bellatrix remarked with a dry cackle, "if it isn't Lucius's little pet."
Ginny flushed at the derogatory nickname, but kept her gaze lowered. The pain she would receive upon retaliating to the Death Eater's taunts simply was not worth it – especially when the one doing the taunting was Bellatrix Lestrange.
"Aww," Bellatrix cooed in an awful baby voice, "it seems the little pet has lost her tongue today. What's the matter, girl? Finally realised what a worthless slut you are?"
Narcissa gave a pained sigh – she considered it a social solecism to talk to servants unless necessary and could never understand why her sister delighted in doing so – and levelled her cold gaze on Ginny.
"Why are you just standing there?" Narcissa asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I—" Ginny swallowed, her blush deepening to a rich red. "The bell was ringing and—"
"Enough," Narcissa interposed wearily. "Just clear the glasses away."
"Yes, Mrs Malfoy," Ginny murmured.
Still keeping her face lowered, Ginny moved over to the table where the Malfoy's guests had discarded their wine glasses. Of course, most of the guests were Death Eaters, or corrupt officials willing to receive a bribe or two as payment for turning a blind eye to some of the Malfoys' more nefarious activities. Ginny had seen many parties like this during her six months at the manor. It made her sick to think of the way they gorged themselves, knowing that every toast they made was celebrating another innocent life down the drain.
The hair on the back of her neck prickled unpleasantly and she chanced a look up, meeting Bellatrix's hooded eyes. She quickly averted her face again and tried to ignore the dark gaze watching her as she worked.
Bellatrix took a sip of her wine, still watching Ginny with an unpleasant smile twisting her lips. "I don't know how you can stand being served by this trash, Narcissa," she remarked after a moment of silence. "Her filthy little hands contaminate everything with her treacherous blood."
"It was my husband who wanted her," Narcissa responded indifferently. "Besides, I don't care what she is as long as she gets the job done."
"Mm, yes. Lucius was quite adamant about keeping her, wasn't he?"
"Just what are you suggesting, Bellatrix?" Narcissa asked in a soft yet dangerous voice.
Bellatrix gave a dry laugh. "Oh, there's no need to look daggers at me, sister. I'm merely pointing out that from my perspective it does seem a little strange that he would take to such a young and inexperienced girl." Her eyes gleamed with malicious amusement. "Surely you must have wondered whether he's bedded her yet."
There was the sound of something splintering. Ginny let out a small gasp and looked down to see blood pooling out from where pieces of glass had pierced her skin. She had not realised she had been holding the cup so tightly – at least not enough to break it.
"Idiot child, can you do nothing right?" Narcissa exclaimed in a voice that could freeze bone marrow.
"I'm sorry, Mrs Malfoy. I didn't mean to break the glass."
"Well, don't just stand there getting blood all over the carpet. Go and clean yourself up."
"Yes, Mrs Malfoy," Ginny murmured, and quickly left the room, cradling her bleeding hand against her chest.
She could almost feel Bellatrix's smile following her.
Ginny gritted her teeth as she removed the shards of glass from her hand. She did not see the shadowy figure standing in the doorway, so was taken completely unawares when she felt a hand press down on her shoulder not a few seconds later. A strangled scream escaped her throat, and she immediately made to twist away from the person's grasp.
"Hush," a deep voice admonished.
Trembling slightly, Ginny raised her eyes to her companion's face, already knowing that it would be Lucius Malfoy. Her heart was still wildly hammering against her ribs, but even as the erratic pounding slowed, the discomfort she felt in Lucius's presence remained. She hated being alone with him.
"What have you done to your hand, Ginevra?" he asked, taking her bloody hand in his.
Ginny was aware of a sudden urge to wrench herself away from him, but all she managed was to shrink back from his touch.
He laughed softly. "Don't be frightened, my child. I'm not going to hurt you."
She licked her dry lips and reluctantly allowed him to examine her hand. He was very gentle, removing the glass with quiet adeptness, and his fingers brushing almost caressingly over her hand as he searched for more of the jagged splinters. His skin felt warm against hers yet, somehow, this made her feel even more uncomfortable. She licked her lips again and stared at his face: at the strong jaw and well-defined, masculine features. There was nothing delicate about his appearance. He was like ice: cold, hard, yet undeniably handsome. She could almost imagine cutting herself on his beauty. It was too sharp, too painful.
Their eyes met and she suddenly became very conscious of the sound of her own fragmented breathing. Lucius said nothing and healed the cuts on her hand with his wand, making the skin once again smooth and unharmed.
"You should be more careful, Ginevra," he murmured, releasing her hand. "You're of no use to me if you cannot use your hands."
Ginny held her healed hand protectively against her chest. "Thank you," she said in a tight voice.
An ironic smile touched his lips. "You're welcome."
She suddenly became fully aware of the fact that her master was standing in the servant's quarters with her, and a slight crease formed on her brow. Surely he could not have come here simply because she'd hurt her hand.
"Was there something you wanted from me, sir?" she asked, almost dreading the answer.
"Now that you put me in mind of it, yes. My son has returned home from Bulgaria. He will need his room prepared for him. When you're finished with that, I want you to come to my office. There are some things we need to discuss."
Ginny swallowed. "Yes, sir."
He left the room without a further word, leaving her standing alone, still cradling her hand to her chest. She stood in silence for a moment, then followed him out of the room. On the bench, the tiny shards of glass he had removed from her cuts continued to sparkle with a blood-tainted light.
Ginny finished plumping the last pillow and stepped back from the bed, letting out a small sigh as she turned towards the door. She started in surprise as she saw a young man leaning against the doorframe, watching her through granite-like eyes. He looked no older than eighteen, and she realised by his pale-blond hair that she must be looking at Lucius and Narcissa's son, Draco Malfoy. Of course, now that she knew who he was, she wondered how it was that she had not recognised him immediately. It had only been a year since they'd last seen each other. He'd spent his last year of school at Durmstrang for his own protection, but now, it seemed, he was back to take up the family mantle as a Death Eater.
"Finished?" he queried, raising an eyebrow.
Ginny wondered how he managed to infuse so much arrogance into one word and felt her anger prickle at the sound of it.
"It's your bed," she responded with deceptive placidness. "You tell me."
The corner of his mouth twitched. "Clever," he murmured, though even then he made the comment sound derogatory.
He strolled past her and removed his watch from his wrist, placing it on the dresser. Ginny stared at him warily, not knowing if she had been wise to taunt him. He glanced back at her and a slight crease formed on his brow that was somehow contemptuous in its own little way.
"You can leave," he said coolly. "I'll call you if I need anything."
Her cheeks warmed, for it was hard to miss the contempt in his gaze, but she quickly swallowed back her embarrassment and left the room with as much dignity as she could muster. She already knew in that moment that she was not going to enjoy serving Draco Malfoy. Out of all the Malfoys, so far he had managed to make her feel the most worthless. Something about the way he looked at her made her feel utterly pathetic – as if she had no identity at all.
Ginny made her way back to her room, but then she remembered that she had to report to Lucius. Her heart sank at the thought, but she knew better than to disobey him, and so reluctantly made her way to his office and knocked on the door.
"Enter," his voice commanded.
Ginny closed her eyes as she sucked in a breath, then pushed open the door and entered the room. The candles were low, casting an amber glow over the office and its contents, and seemed to focus her attention on the blond sitting at the handsome, mahogany desk. She felt a slight tremor of trepidation travel down her spine, as she always did when she found herself alone with Lucius, and suddenly became very interested in her hands.
"Come here," Lucius said calmly.
Ginny walked slowly towards him. She could see by the nearly empty bottle of wine on his desk that he had been drinking. Somehow, this made her feel all the more uncomfortable.
"You wanted to see me, sir?" she asked, daring a glance at his face.
He was watching her with a faintly amused expression, as if he knew exactly the effect he was having on her. She wished he would not look at her so. There was something decidedly unnerving about the amused glint in those normally emotionless eyes.
"How long have you been serving me now?" he asked, leaning back in his chair, looking utterly relaxed.
"Six months, sir."
"Six months," he repeated. "That's quite some time."
Ginny said nothing.
"You have come a long way since you first started working here, haven't you, Ginevra?" He smiled pleasantly, though the expression in his eyes was far from friendly. "But I worry that you are not fully loyal to me. I worry that, if given the chance, you would betray me to my enemies."
Her hand trembled at her side and she clenched it tight into a fist so that her knuckles burned white.
"Tell me, Ginevra, are you loyal to me?"
"I appreciate what you have done for me, sir," Ginny answered stiffly.
"That's not good enough." He stood away from his desk and walked towards her, taking her chin in his hand just as he had done so many months ago. "I need to know that I can trust you to serve me and only me. There will be many people coming and going at the manor over the next month, and not all of them are friendly towards my family. They would hurt me if they could, and they would use you to do it if you were so inclined to cooperate with them. But you would not do that, would you, my dear?"
Ginny averted her face.
"Would you?" he repeated, turning her face back to his, and the grip he had on her chin became quite painful.
"No, sir," she said quietly. "I would not betray you."
"Good." He relaxed his hold on her chin. Something shifted in his eyes and he considered her with an inscrutable expression on his face. "So young," he murmured, tracing her cheek with his thumb.
Ginny's breathing sharpened and she glanced up at him with a suddenly frightened look. He smiled at her nervousness.
"Don't be afraid," he said for what seemed the thousandth time. "I'm not going to hurt you."
She squirmed uncomfortably as he placed a hand on her waist, while his other tilted her face more towards his. Her throat became suddenly very dry, and she was intensely aware of her heart thudding uncomfortably against her ribs. Then the door opened and it was with a mixture of relief and – oddly – disappointment that Ginny turned to see Draco Malfoy stroll into the room. He checked at the sight of his father clasping the servant-girl by her waist, and his eyebrow lifted a fraction.
"Should I come back later?" Draco asked wryly.
Lucius released Ginny, though not out of embarrassment, as one might have expected; he appeared to have merely lost interest in her now that his son was in the room. She recoiled into herself, looking pathetically vulnerable as she stood there in her stark outfit with the faintest traces of tears glistening in her eyes. Draco stared at her blankly for a moment, then turned his attention back to his father.
"Leave us, Ginevra," Lucius ordered.
Ginny was more than happy to obey and shuffled out of the room as quickly as possible. She heard the two men start talking as soon as she had shut the door, but she did not bother to listen more closely in order to make out what they were actually saying. She did not want to be anywhere near Lucius right now. She just wanted to be alone. However, even once she had retreated to the quiet safety of her room and got ready for bed, nothing could rid her mind of what had almost happened in the office. She could not forget the image of Lucius's handsome face swimming before hers as he leaned in close, his lips a hairsbreadth from her own, nor the feeling of his large hand clasping her waist.
She touched her fingers to her stomach where she could still feel the imprint of his hand burning into her skin. A sigh escaped her lips, and she closed her eyes and leaned back against the pillows. It was a long time before she finally fell asleep.
Ginny tried to avoid Lucius as much as possible over the next few days, which really wasn't that difficult. He made no push to speak to her again, so that she began to wonder if she had any reason to worry in the first place. Perhaps he had simply had too much to drink that night, or maybe he hadn't been going to do anything to her at all. In any case, she had more important things to worry about. Already, some of the Death Eaters who had recently broken out of Azkaban had taken up residence at the manor. There was one, in particular, whom Ginny did not like: a thin, weedy looking man with a rat-like face and mean little eyes. She knew him only as Donovan, but somehow she knew this was the same man who had leered when Lucius had taken her.
Then there was Draco. He was not openly rude to her like his aunt Bellatrix, but Ginny knew by the way he looked at her through those granite-like eyes that he did not like her. If he had been cold to her in his room when they'd first seen each other again, he was even colder now after witnessing her with his father in such a compromising position. No doubt, he thought she was having an affair with Lucius. Ginny wondered why it should bother her so much that he thought this. It wasn't as if Bellatrix did not think the same.
She spotted the young blond leaning against the stair railing, watching some of the Death Eaters discussing something below. She paused in her steps, unable to help staring at him. He was so different from his father. Lucius was built on grand proportions, to the point where one could not help but notice him; Draco, on the other hand, was more slender, though he had inherited some of his father height, even if he was not as tall as the older blond. He kept his hair short, no longer slicking it back as he had done at Hogwarts, but allowing it to fall in a broodingly Byronic way around his eyes. The eyes themselves were much darker – and larger – than his father's, resembling more the colour of dampened stone rather than Lucius's silvery, almost icy irises. His features were also more delicate – no doubt an inheritance from his mother – so that there was a deceptively fragile look about his face. All in all, he was a very pretty boy, but a boy nonetheless. One could never call Draco Malfoy effeminate, whatever the ethereal quality of his looks.
His eyes flicked towards her, and Ginny found herself lifting her chin at the elegantly scornful expression that came to his face. Somehow, he always managed to get under her skin without even saying a word. They stared at each other for a moment, then he glanced back at the Death Eaters, dismissing her as if she were nothing more than a speck of dust. Ginny found that she had the oddest urge to scream at him, if only to snap him out of his cold aloofness and make him finally notice her, but she resisted the impulse. He'd probably just sneer at her anyway.
She made to walk past him, still with her head held high, when his voice stopped her in her tracks.
"I wouldn't go down there if I were you."
"Why not?" she asked.
He smiled. It was not a pleasant smile. "Not all of my father's guests are as accommodating as he is when it comes to blood-traitors."
Her cheeks warmed as she realised what he was insinuating, and she held her chin even higher. "Whatever you might think, I'm not your father's whore. He spared my life because he needed a servant, not because of—of what you're suggesting."
"Is that what you think?" he asked, almost pityingly.
She frowned, but he had already turned on his heel and walked away, leaving her standing alone at the top of the stairs. Down below, she could see the Death Eaters still talking, and then her eyes fell on the weedy Donovan. His gaze met hers and a nasty smile curled his lips. Ginny turned away in disgust and headed back in the direction of the servant's quarters. She decided that maybe Draco had a point in suggesting she not go downstairs today. If Lucius and Narcissa needed her, they could always ring the bell.
"There you are."
Ginny jumped in fright and turned to see Bellatrix watching her with a triumphant gleam in her obsidian eyes.
"Going somewhere, little pet?"
Ginny swallowed. "I was going back to my rooms. No one has called for me, and—"
"No one has called for me," Bellatrix mocked in a cruel imitation of Ginny's own voice. She gave another of her dry laughs. "Tell me, do you actually enjoy picking up after my sister and that good-for-nothing husband of hers?"
"Surely you haven't forgotten that it was my brother-in-law who led the team of Death Eaters against your family and exterminated them like the dirty rodents they were."
Ginny didn't know when her hands had clenched into fists, but she suddenly found herself glaring at Bellatrix as the blood in her veins grew toxic with hate. "I have not forgotten," she said stiffly.
"Then you must know that when he grows weary of you, he will no longer want you here." Bellatrix's smile widened so that the tired cracks in her face were thrown into sharp relief. "It's only a matter of time before it happens, and then – then, Ginevra, there will be no one to protect you, and I'll show you exactly what I think of little blood-traitor sluts like yourself."
Ginny saw the image of herself leaping on the other woman and scratching at her face until she couldn't smile even if she wanted to; she was sorely tempted to follow through with the image as well, but, instead, she drew in a small breath and forced her temper to sink back into its much-battered cage.
"Excuse me," Ginny said quietly, pushing past the dark-haired witch.
"Don't you walk away from me," Bellatrix snarled, latching her hand around Ginny's wrist and digging her nails into the soft flesh.
Ginny's eyes flashed dangerously, and for a moment, it seemed as if she would retaliate. But then a shadow passed over her, and she turned and saw Lucius Malfoy walking towards them. He took one glance at the hand Bellatrix had gripped around Ginny's wrist, then raised politely enquiring eyes to his sister-in-law's face.
"What are you doing, Bellatrix?" he asked.
Bellatrix slowly uncurled her fingers from Ginny's wrist. "I suggest you keep a tighter leash on your pet, Lucius," she sneered. "The little wench is getting quite bold these days."
Lucius's eyes darted to Ginny, who kept her face lowered, then glanced back at Bellatrix. "Do you take me for a fool?" he asked softly.
Bellatrix stiffened. "Excuse me?"
His eyes met hers unflinchingly. "If you lay a hand on my servant again, Bellatrix, you will find yourself needing a new place to stay. I don't care if you are my wife's sister; I will not have you interfering with my business."
"You wouldn't dare!" she spat, glaring at him.
He seemed to feel this was not worth responding to and stared at her coldly, as if asking her why she was even still standing there when he had clearly dismissed her. Bellatrix swallowed back the poisonous words she might have said and threw a malevolent glance at Ginny before she stalked off down the hallway, black cloak billowing behind her.
Lucius walked over to Ginny and took her wrist in his hands, examining the crescent shaped marks marring the pale skin. She hated the fact that her pulse quickened at his touch; it seemed that no matter how much she despised and feared this man, he would always be able to manipulate the unruly blood in her veins with the slightest contact.
He released her wrist, then considered her through his cool grey eyes. "I hope you're aware of what I just did for you."
"Yes, sir," she said in a subdued voice.
"Then I don't want to see anything like this happening again."
"Yes, sir," she repeated, still keeping her face lowered.
He tilted her chin towards him with one graceful motion. She swallowed, meeting his icy grey eyes for a moment before glancing away, a light flush staining her cheeks. He released her chin with a small 'hmph' that may have been amused or scornful, Ginny wasn't sure, then stepped back from her and continued down the hallway.
Ginny let out a small breath and leaned her head back against the wall. "What am I doing?" she asked the empty corridor. "What the hell am I doing?"
A week had passed. Ginny was aware of the thick tension growing in the manor. It had started with Bellatrix, who was still bitter at being reprimanded by Lucius, and now even Narcissa was beginning to stare at Ginny with hard, accusing eyes, as if she knew exactly what the redhead had been thinking of her husband. For think of Lucius, Ginny did. She couldn't help it; he was the only one in the house who was even remotely kind to her, and when he touched her—
She hugged her arms to her body, blocking the thoughts firmly from her mind. It would not do to dwell on the effect that those fleeting caresses had over her. He was a married man, a murderer, and he was nearly thirty years older than her. Everything about the situation was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Ginny screwed her eyes up tight and rocked slowly back and forth. She was sick in the head. It was obvious now. Why else would she allow herself to be persuaded into serving a man who had helped murder her family, let alone fantasise about having those same murderous hands explore every inch of her body.
A bell started ringing in the distance, snapping her out of her frantic thoughts. She quickly scrambled off the bed and checked the mirror to make sure her appearance was in order. Satisfied that she looked presentable, Ginny exited her room and made her way to the dining room, where she could feel the magic of the bell calling her. The power to sense where the Malfoy's were summoning her from was the only real magic she had now, for she could not do wandless magic like a house-elf. Still, Lucius had made sure she would be a useful servant to him, using many of the same bonding spells that linked a house-elf and its master on her so that she could sense when she was needed. Unlike the elves, however, she could not simply be freed by the simple offering of clothes.
She turned a corner and almost fell back in surprise as she collided with a man in a black robe. One glance at his face made her back away in fear: it was that same rat-like man who had wanted to 'have a bit of fun with her' before killing her all those months ago.
"I've been hoping that I'd run into you," Donovan said in a low voice that made the hairs on the back of Ginny's neck prickle.
"I have to go," she said firmly, trying to move past him.
"What's the rush?" he taunted, putting an arm out to block her path.
Ginny's eyes flashed with very real annoyance. "Please, I'm being called."
"Please, I'm being called," he mocked, and gave a harsh laugh. "I don't think they'll miss you for a few minutes longer."
He thrust her up against the wall and Ginny let out a frightened scream, which he quickly muffled with his hand.
"Now, darling, don't be so difficult," he grunted, holding her in place with his knee wedged between her thighs while he fumbled with her dress. "I'll just have to cast a silencing charm on you if try open that pretty little mouth of yours to scream again."
She bit hard on his finger, making him pull his hand away with a pained yelp, and took the opportunity to try and shove him off her. He merely pushed her back more forcefully against the wall, knocking her head in the process so that she saw stars. Satisfied that he had momentarily stunted her ability to fight against him, he kissed her full on the lips and clumsily pawed at her breasts with his free hand – the other was still trying to get up her dress. Ginny made an odd sort of whimper and tried more desperately to push him off her, and then, quite suddenly, he was no longer touching her.
Ginny let out a shaky breath and stared in surprise as Draco Malfoy released the back of Donovan's robe and raised one delicate eyebrow at the older man.
"I think you should leave now, don't you?" he suggested quietly.
Donovan looked like he was going to argue the matter, but Draco, without even needing to threaten the other man with his wand, simply raised his eyebrow higher, as if daring him to try it. Donovan did not dare. Even he was not stupid enough to attack the only son and heir of Voldemort's right-hand man.
Draco's eyes flicked to Ginny, who was still breathing heavily against the wall and looking rather shaken. It was perhaps lucky that her attire was so rigidly modest, for the most Donovan had managed to do was rumple her dress and create a few tears in her stockings where his fingernails had dug into her thighs. She refused to look at the man, though; even thinking about his rat-like face made her want to vomit.
A faint crease formed on Draco's brow. "Come here," he ordered, holding his hand out to her.
Ginny stared at the blond warily, but she gathered that he was not going to do anything to her, and so stepped cautiously away from the wall. She could feel Donovan watching her and quickly shuffled over to where Draco was standing, as if she were afraid that Donovan might reach out at any moment and try to snatch her back up in his arms again. Without even sparing a glance at the other Death Eater, Draco placed a hand on the small of her back and led her down the hallway – clearly he did not think Donovan was worth his breath.
She chanced a look back as they walked and saw Donovan glaring at her. She quickly averted her eyes, feeling her insides curl with fear and disgust. She never wanted to see that face again.
Draco continued to lead her silently down the corridors until they were well away from Donovan, then he stepped back from her and made to walk away without a further word.
"Wait," Ginny exclaimed before she could stop herself. "Are you really just going to walk away without saying anything?"
He glanced back at her, the faintest trace of a smile touching his lips. "What am I supposed to do?" he asked, sounding genuinely amused.
"I-I don't know," she stammered. "But after what just happened. I mean, that man, he—he was going to—"
"He won't try anything again, if that's what you're worried about," Draco said bluntly. "He's too afraid of my father to do that."
"But what? I told you he won't try anything again, so what's the point in discussing the matter further?"
"Well, at least let me thank you, then."
"Thank me?" he repeated. "For what?"
"For saving me, of course."
Draco gave a harsh laugh. "Is that what you think I did?"
Ginny bit her lip as she saw that same contemptuous gleam creep into his eyes. He laughed again and then, without even bothering to give her a word of goodbye, stalked off down the corridor. Ginny stared at his retreating figure in a mixture of hurt and anger, but it was hurt that won in the end. All she had done was try to thank him for helping her, and he had simply laughed at her face.
Her eyes filled with tears, and she hugged her arms to herself to stop her body from trembling. She didn't know if she was crying because of what Donovan had done to her, or because Draco Malfoy was the cruellest boy she had ever come across. Either way, it was a long time before she could stop, and then she just sat in the corridor with her head in her arms, feeling very helpless and alone, and wishing that she had never agreed to serve Lucius Malfoy.
"So this is where you have been hiding," a cool voice observed from somewhere above her.
Ginny raised her head from her arms and saw Narcissa Malfoy standing before her, looking very regal and unimpressed.
"Do you know how long you have kept us waiting for our dinner?" Narcissa demanded icily.
"I'm sorry, Mrs Malfoy, I just—"
"You just what?" Narcissa interposed, raising an eyebrow.
Ginny flushed. "Nothing. I'm sorry. It won't happen again."
"I certainly hope not. What's the point of keeping you as a servant if you can't even do your job properly?"
Ginny apologised again, though inside she was seething. None of them cared about her feelings; she had might as well be a tree for all the kindness she received from the Malfoys.
But Draco did help you, a small voice reminded her. Think what would have happened if he hadn't been there to stop Donovan.
She pushed the thought firmly aside. No matter what Draco Malfoy had done to help her, it could not change the fact that he was a cruel, heartless boy.
He did prove to be right about one thing though: Donovan never did come near her again. He broke his neck while coming down the stairs the next morning and died instantly.
No one believed it to be an accident.