The Dragon Rebels
Author: Lee Velviet
A/N: This chapter has been EXTENSIVELY revised and re-posted as of Dec.3, 2003. Standard disclaimer applies – I own NOTHING! More revisions, re-posts (and hopefully, updates!) to follow.
Thanks for reading!
One – The Great Rebellion
The Hogwarts Express passed through the rough countryside in a streak of gleaming scarlet paint, and clouds of hazy silver steam.
Inside one of the passenger cars, in a small compartment, sat Ginny Weasley. Recently turned sixteen, and although much changed from the scrawny eleven-year old who'd attended her first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry years earlier, was still somewhat shy.
Ginny had several friends, though none of them terribly close, and had been a Chaser on her house Quidditch team for two years. She'd grown a few feet, managed to charm her mass of unruly red curls into a semblance of stylish order, and had perfected a glamour charm that slightly faded her sprinkle of childish freckles.
Brandy brown eyes flickered over the compartment in which she sat. Aside from herself, and her small carry-on pack, the space was otherwise unoccupied. Harry, Hermione, and her brother, Ron, were in their Seventh and final year at Hogwarts, and in the excitement of boarding, Ginny had sort-of found herself forgotten. The trio's compartment had been so full of other Seventh year friends that there really hadn't been room to spare.
Sad – but perfectly understanding, she thought – she'd taken herself of to another room, and tried to comfort herself with the fact that it was at the very least, quiet, something it never really was at the Burrow.
Ginny sighed and contemplated the land passing by beyond the large window. Who was she fooling? She didn't care for the quiet, not one little bit. If it was too quiet, and she had nothing to distract herself, she tended to think back on bad things, humiliatin things, things better left not thought on at all.
She was staring at the floor, thinking of taking out this years new Care of Magical Creatures book and thumbing through it, when the compartment door slid open without benefit of a knock.
Almost grateful for the intrusion, Ginny looked up from the carpet. Her tongue fused itself to the roof of her mouth as she caught herself mid-greeting, and her breath caught. Her heart jumped into her throat in a mixture of fear and surprise as she realized just who it was standing there.
Draco Malfoy – at least, she thought it was Draco Malfoy – stood in the narrow doorway.
She had her doubts. He looked both frighteningly familiar, and totally…different.
Her gaze traveled over his shoulders and chest, both of which had broadened and deepened over the summer holiday. A faded, disreputable-looking black t-shirt stretched across his skin, and was tucked into a pair of snug-fitting blue denims. She had to tear her gaze away from where it settled on the plain silver buckle of his leather belt, and her eyes dropped to the shaggy-looking cuffs of his jeans here they fell over the tops of a pair of heavily scuffed black boots.
"This seat taken?" he asked belligerently, and Ginny felt a shiver run up her spine at the unfamiliar growl-y depth of his voice beneath the cultured tones.
Her eyes shot upwards as she shook her head. "N-no," she blurted truthfully, when she'd actually meant to say in a very scornful way, "Yes!" She watched in dismay as the bane of her existence, which ironically didn't, in all likelihood, even remember she existed, flung himself into the seat across from her, sighing roughly as if he were very tired.
He threw a short leather jacket over the seat next to him, and stretched out long legs, crossing them at the ankles, ignoring the way Ginny frowned at his blatant invasion of her personal space.
He threw one arm behind his head, and proceeded to close his eyes.
A glint at his throat drew Ginny's distracted, scowling attention. A hissing silver snake about the length of her thumb curled, entwined, around a black, braided leather cord that hung around his neck. It was a simple, but impressive ornament, and seemed to speak volumes about his character.
Her now-thoughtful gaze wandered on, taking in the pale, sharp features, noting that they'd filled in and hardened a bit with maturity. His thin, cruel lips that spat such unbelievable venom at times had grown slightly fuller, seemed awash with color, almost as if they were a little bruised, or swollen…blushing wildly, Ginny swallowed, not wanting to speculate on just how they'd gotten that way.
Continuing to look him over despite her embarrassment, her eyes lingered on the dark, sardonic arch of his brows, the heavily-lashed eyes that when open, would most-likely be narrowed and dispassionate and of some pale, non-descript shade of gray. She wouldn't know, really. She'd never gotten so close to him as to be able to discern, or truly even care, what color his eyes were. She probably wouldn't even be able to tell now, partially shadowed as they were by dark-ish circles that screamed of several long nights without sleep, and the now overly long, spiky fall of his white-blonde hair. It was so odd – he'd always worn it severely slicked back against his head, but now it fell soft and loose in his stunning, silvery opal-colored eyes…
Which were now open, and looking right back at her.
Her well-developed Weasley self-preservation instincts kicked into overdrive. Years of anger and repressed dislike presented itself in a dark, glittery glare and a resentful mutter she wasn't even aware of leaving her lips.
His sullen, tired expression didn't so much as twitch. "Five points to Gryffindor," he drawled, lifting a hand to brush his hair from his eyes.
Ginny saw a wide, silver embossed black leather bracelet encircling his wrist, and a heavy onyx and silver ring adorning – what else – his middle finger. She rolled her eyes, not liking the thrown feeling she kept having. Everything about him seemed so different! Even his snobby, upper-class voice was lacking it's usual sarcastic bite.
"I suggest you stop staring, little girl." Malfoy yawned rudely, and dropped his head back on his seat closing his eyes again. "Maybe I'll let you touch me after I've had a nap, though I can't say I'm terribly partial to redheads…"
Cheeks flushing angrily, Ginny gritted her teeth and dropped her eyes as, unbelievably, he seemed to drop right off to sleep. She dug into her pack as he began to snore softly, and made as much noise as possible, pulling out a heavy book. She didn't bother glancing at the title – she just needed the diversion, otherwise she'd like as not get into trouble for hexing him off school-grounds for being such an irritating git. There was no way that was going to happen. She wasn't going to humiliate herself over the beast of a boy the way that she had the year previous.
He'd tripped her leaving the field after a particularly spectacular Gryffindor win against Slytherin, and had almost succeeded in breaking her neck! Her temper had gotten the better of her, and she'd pulled out her wand and hexed him, only to have him deflect it right back onto her. She'd had open boils for three days, and he'd laughed at her every time he'd passed her in the corridors. Here he didn't even remember her!
She shouldn't have been surprised though, since the number of nasty things he did daily was probably mind-boggling.
Finding a page and resisting the urge to throw the book at Malfoy instead of reading it, Ginny glued her attention to the print, afraid of what she might do otherwise.
Draco carefully studied the girl across from him from beneath his lashes.
She was the littlest Weasley, he assumed. Her red hair didn't lie.
He'd noticed her staring at him dumbly when he'd first entered the compartment. He'd gotten a lot of that the past few months, come to think of it…but that didn't mean he was used to it, or even that he liked it. Perhaps it had stroked his ego at first to be the center of attention, but it had – surprisingly - faded quickly. He was, however used to people glaring at him hatefully, or at least with extreme dislike. This girl's awed countenance had succeeded in making him very truly uncomfortable for some reason, which was a near impossible thing to do.
After a while he fully closed his eyes, trying to go to sleep, something he knew he was in desperate need of, but to no avail – sleep wouldn't come. His curiosity about the little redhead had perked his interest, and he couldn't keep from stealing fascinated peeks at her through his lashes.
Outside in the corridor, he heard a female Prefect bitching self-importantly at some student or another, and then heard the unmistakable sounds of his 'friends' voices glumly answering back.
He was tempted to get up and go out to gloat at them – he'd recently had a massive falling out with Crabbe and Goyle, which had very unfortunately resulted in him having to sit with this Weasley, as it was the only half-empty compartment available - aside from the one Pansy Parkinson was holding court in with two other Slytherin girls, that was.
Draco hid a shudder, and growing bored with his thoughts, sat forward suddenly in his seat.
The redhead jumped, but recovered quickly, and seemed to be concentrating on ignoring him completely. He stared at her until she squirmed, and he caught her eyes flickering up at him for just an instant. He sneered faintly at her. It had the desired effect. She looked down again, focusing on her book, spots of bright pink high on her freckled cheeks.
Amused and satisfied with her discomfort, he sat back in his seat, slouching, and turned his head to look out the window. The inconstant sunlight streamed into his eyes and it felt like daggers entering his brain. Without asking permission, he reached over and closed the blinds with a distinct snap. He lifted a hand to his pounding head and looked back over challengingly to see if she'd object, but the girl was very quiet, thankfully. His lips twisted. She was probably too frightened of him to make any sound besides a squeak.
Draco tried briefly to recall her name, but his excessive partying of the evening before was making itself known again to an unusual extent. It continued to elude him, and he mentally shrugged. It didn't really matter, after all, did it? The Weasley's were pretty much all the same; red-haired, poor, annoying in their rabbit-like numbers…
Something bugged him about her, though. He had the odd feeling that he should remember her. He snuck a look at her from the corner of his eye, wondering at the strength of the curiosity he felt. She was nibbling at her thumbnail, brown eyes flying over the pages of her book as if she were nervous.
Draco smirked slightly and looked her over from a different perspective – that is, as if she was anything more than just another useless Weasley.
Her hair didn't seem quite so violent a shade of red-orange, nor so bushy. It seemed darker, more along a shade of deep scarlet, or the color of blood. She also seemed to have grown, he thought with a dawning awareness, in all the right places.
Feeling a cold, predatory smile curve his lips, his eyes traveled down the length of her legs, leaving him cursing the fact that she'd already changed into her black school robes. He directed his eyes back up, noting that her looks weren't entirely lamentable. Her lips were full, pink, and pouty, and her dusting of freckles was barely noticeable. Her peaches and cream complexion was clear and blemish-free, and her nose was small, but well-formed. She had a slender neck, a sweetly curved jaw line, and a pointy little chin. Her eyebrows were dark and neat, faintly arched, and her eyes were large, heavily lashed. They were the same color as the old, expensive brandy in the crystal decanters in his father's study.
The thought of his father had him sneering faintly again. Over the summer Lucius had been even more of a bastard than usual. His callousness toward himself and his clueless mother had gone a long way in making Draco realize that he could defeat his father by destroying himself, and his carefully cultivated image and reputation.
His mother had come to dub it The Great Rebellion, Draco's show of blatant disrespect, his refusal to wear his hand-tailored robes, his late nights out, his drinking, and revelry all over London with witches of 'questionable repute'.
He had to smirk at the memory of the look of murderous rage on his father's face early that morning when he'd finally succeeded in dragging himself into the foyer of the grand old Malfoy townhouse, smelling of alcohol and fairly drenched in cheap perfume, dressed from the throat down in rumpled black leather.
Lucius had been leaning on him ever since his fifteenth birthday about doing his 'duty', and serving his 'Master', and he'd gotten bloody tired of it. Draco had wanted to point out several times that thanks to the efforts of one Harry Potter, the Dark Lord was near death, and probably wouldn't be anyone's 'master' for very much longer. Death Eaters had become a swiftly dying breed, and Draco did not intend to ever serve anyone – especially not an emaciated has been dark wizard who, despite his purportedly great powers, had never even been able to get rid of a troublesome infant.
Setting his jaw, Draco unconsciously crossed his arms, and the sudden movement made the girl across from his jump again. He grinned inwardly.
So she hadn't been as enthralled by the book in her hands as she'd seemed.
She lost her grip on the heavy book, and it slid off her lap onto the floor with a loud thud. He gleefully watched hr ears and face go scarlet, and bit back a mean laugh. He found himself leaning forward, reaching down to retrieve the book, when she did just the same, and they knocked their heads together soundly just as the train began to slow.
Draco cursed under his breath and rubbed his forehead, intending to straighten up, but the redhead lost her balance as the train braked too sharply, and she tumbled into his lap with a sharp squeal. He instinctively caught her by the arms to steady her, thoughtlessly asking, "Are you alright?"
The compartment door slid open just then, and he looked up to see her brother and Potter step in, their animated discussion coming to a halt as they looked at the entwined couple on the floor in absolute horror.
"Wha - ? Bloody hell! Ginny!"
"Ginny? So that's your name."
Draco's eyebrows shot up at what he heard next – a tiny whimper from the girl in his lap, and an aggravated sigh, followed by an entirely un-feminine curse.
Ginny looked up at Malfoy in extreme embarrassment, and then at her brother's livid face.
"Er, sorry," she managed in a humiliated, husky whisper, dragging herself off Malfoy's lap. Her knees were trembling, so she collapsed back into her seat, shoving the cursed book into her pack again.
Malfoy stood up, and faced the other two boys.
Ginny wished she could melt into a puddle on the floor.
"What were you doing to my sister, Malfoy?" Ron asked, his face clouding like a threatening thunderstorm.
Malfoy crossed his arms – in a way that showed off the lean muscle of his biceps, Ginny noted grudgingly – and put on his trademark sneer. "Is it really any of your business, Weasley? I don't come around asking to know the particulars of yours and Potter's relationship, now do I?"
Groaning at the inference, Ginny put her face in her hands and waited for the blow-up, not noticing a pair of silvery-opal eyes flickering toward her from beneath hooded lids.
Ginny peeked up from between her fingers long enough to see Ron throw a vicious punch at the blonde Slytherin.
"Ron, no!" she shouted, jumping up, but Malfoy caught her brother's fist effortlessly in his own, and shoved it back at him violently. He never took his eyes off her face, and an icy shiver ran over her skin.
Ginny looked away, at Harry and Ron glaring at her and Malfoy.
Malfoy stared back at them for a long moment before grabbing his jacket and striding out of the compartment without a backward glance.
"And just what the hell was that all about?" Ron immediately demanded, scowling down at his reddened fist and rubbing it.
Harry was looking angry and confused. His green eyes glinted strangely behind his glasses.
"Yeah, what was Malfoy doing in here?"
Her temper climbing close to the surface, Ginny sighed impatiently. Instead of saying something nasty like she really wanted to, she took a deep breath and tried very quietly to explain everything.
In the end, Ron still looked skeptical, but Harry seemed relieved.
Out in the corridor they heard the commotion of other students clambering off the train.
"Alright, whatever," Ron muttered, going to the door. "We'll meet you outside."
Ginny watched them go and wanted to scream. She turned away to get her pack.
"Ron, you ass," she seethed aloud. He was always treating her like a helpless, toothless little puppy, as if she couldn't take care of herself, as if she didn't have a bloody brain in her head –
"My, the little weasel has claws," came a cool drawl from the doorway.
Her head snapped up so quickly that she almost damaged her neck.
Malfoy was back, leaning against the doorframe, arms and ankles crossed. "Don't worry," he said in a thoughtful murmur, "I don't bite. Well, at least not if you don't want me to."
Ginny busied herself retrieving her pack, fighting down her urge to flee.
Malfoy swaggered in silently, and she almost lost her death grip on the pack straps.
"You know, there's something about you I like…Ginny."
Her eyes flew wide as he stalked her, and she didn't even realize she was moving until she backed into the wall. He moved one hand up to rest against the wall above her head, and she felt her heart drop this time, somewhere towards her feet. He had her effectively trapped, and her nerves quavered.
He dropped his head forward until he could speak directly into her ear. "I don't know what it is, really. Maybe it's the light in you. The honesty." He laughed when she shivered, mocking her. He brought up his other hand and twined one of her curls around his finger. "The innocence."
"I've never met anyone who shows everything that they feel so clearly on their face, before. Everything you are, all the goodness in you, it's right there for everyone to see. I'm curious. I was standing outside, listening to you try to get out of trouble with your brother. You didn't even attempt to blame anything on me. Why? How could you defend me, of all people, to your brother and Potter?"
Ducking under his arm, Ginny walked to the door. "You did try to help me up, and you actually attempted to show some kind of concern when I lost my footing. You – showed me a kindness, " she ignored his snort of contempt, "so you can't be all bad." She darted a look at him.
He slanted his disconcerting eyes at her, and then walked toward her, catching her lips in a hard, very brief kiss that made her head spin before he moved past her.
"You came to that conclusion just from the fact that I helped you up? Right. I may be a Slytherin, but I was raised to have some manners. Sorry, Ginny, to disappoint, but I've always been bad. Nothing is ever going to change that."
Draco stepped out of the compartment berating himself. He should have left earlier, after the confrontation with Weasley and Potter, but some perversity had made him linger in the hall to listen to Ginny Weasley make nasty comments about him. She'd actually defended him, and it had completely thrown him. It seemed his nasty looks and bitter, cutting remarks had been lost on her.
If Draco had learned anything in his life, it was that to be bitter, one had to have hatred in their heart. To understand cynicism, a person had to have known it, been the constant recipient of it.
Although Ginny had doubtless seen the very face of evil more than once, she didn't yet know real hatred, couldn't yet grasp the very real fact that it even existed. Hatred was as alien to her as everything she was, was to him.
Draco left the train, frowning over a slight, aching warmth in his chest where he'd never felt any. It wouldn't last, he knew. He'd always been cold.
Nothing could ever make him truly warm.