*Chapter 1 - At Grimmauld Place*

Ron Weasley had been dreading his summer. Harry organising for the son of a Death Eater to stay with his family over the summer holidays had seemed like nothing less than betrayal. He couldn't believe Harry was still supporting Malfoy, even though he had been lying to them for almost the whole year.

Ron had been right all along, yet Harry and Hermione were yet to acknowledge this fact, and everyone else he pointed this out to didn't seem interested. He decided to keep both eyes on Malfoy from the moment he arrived; he wouldn't have his family hurt by that mangy ferret. As it was, Ginny had already suffered for her ridiculous infatuation.

Since Malfoy had first arrived at Grimmauld Place however, he had been incredibly subdued. He had brought nothing bar his school trunk (a gleaming, black leather contraption with gleaming silver locks in the shapes of the letters D and M), although he was wearing rather expensive robes with buttons that glittered suspiciously like diamonds. Trying to show off, as usual Ron had thought.

He had been tailing Draco Malfoy while he was being given the tour of the house, and he'd noted that the boy didn't meet anyone's eye. He didn't acknowledge anyone by name and avoided speaking to Mrs Weasley as she took him from room to room (lacking her usual warmth and motherliness, Ron observed smugly), eventually showing him his sleeping quarters up on the fourth floor (and as far away from me as possible without putting him in the attic, Ron thought). The only time Malfoy's face betrayed and expression other than blank disinterest was in the drawing room, where his eyes lit on the old piano, and he stared at it oddly for a moment before turning to follow Mrs Weasley into the next room.

Ron was triumphant. Far from being intrigued and forgiving towards Draco Malfoy (as everyone had been the previous year), the Slytherin was largely ignored by both the Weasley family and the Order members, and he didn't seem disagreeable to this reaction, in fact he rarely came out of his room. He had the distinct impression that Malfoy was avoiding him in particular, and this was confirmed one lunch time when Ron had come thundering down the stairs, heading to the kitchen, only to hear footsteps on the stairs above him suddenly halt. He had looked up and saw Malfoy's green velvet cloak floating out of sight, and could hear hurried, quiet footsteps taking him back up to the fourth floor. Malfoy had waited a full five minutes before finally appearing downstairs for lunch.

Mr Weasley treated Draco politely, although he didn't ask him any questions about himself like he did when Harry was visiting. Ginny, to Ron's relief, avoided Malfoy like the plague, although she soon began to avoid Ron too.

Ginny had also kept to herself as much as possible that summer. She couldn't stand being around Ron, because he constantly gloated about being right about Draco being 'evil'. She kept away from Malfoy, because she hated him for lying to them all, and was mortified by the idea that he might tell her family the details of why they had spilt up. All that said however, she was almost completely, although reluctantly, convinced that Malfoy was now telling the truth. She believed he had cut himself off completely from his family and Voldemort, both physically and emotionally; it was obvious by the haunted look to his face that he was cut adrift from the world he knew, and from the determined set to his face, she could see that he was trying to make his new path in life work. The way he had avoided Ron and his abrasive personality spoke volumes for his efforts so far.

Since the very start of summer, all Ron could talk about was how he had been right all along, and how no one ever listened to him, and that maybe they would now that he had been proved right. After that, Ron began bringing up Malfoy's movements, and how suspicious they were ("Saw him sneaking around by the drawing room upstairs - think he's looking for some of Sirius's parent's dark artefacts?"). When Ginny pointed out several innocent reasons for Malfoy to be walking around the house he lived in, including using the bathroom, Ron had immediately shrugged this off and begun warning her against Malfoy.

"Careful, Gin" he told her in a voice which somehow managed to sound caring and pompous at the same time "Malfoy can't be trusted - I can feel it, and we all know how things turned out last time no one listened to me."

And so Ginny, caring even less for Ron's 'feelings' and brotherly concern than for Malfoy himself, began to avoid her brother.

Mrs Weasley, at first inclined to distrust Draco, soon decided that he wasn't a threat unless he felt threatened. She treated Draco like a caged animal unused to confinement; he would slink away into a dark corner if he could, but if anyone got too close he would probably lash out in what he would most likely see as self defence - but to anyone else would probably appear to be an unacceptably strong reaction. She just hoped this reaction wouldn't include violence, and was thankful that Draco was still underage and so couldn't use magic outside school.

Nymphadora Tonks was introduced to Draco not long after he arrived. Mrs Weasley had shepherded Draco into the drawing room with her the moment she arrived, still in her purple auror robes and breathless from the floo.

Draco had been examining the piano whilst waiting for Mrs Weasley to return when the door slammed shut and Tonks strode over to him, her cheeks flushed to match her pink hair.

Draco's eyes slid from the closed door on the opposite side of the room to the window beside him, but Tonks ignored his cagey behaviour and scooped him into a rough hug before he could shrink away.

'Wotcher cousin!" she said warmly, stepping back, her eyes shining as she took in his appearance.

"Cousin?" he asked cautiously, his eyes widening as her hair dimmed to a dusky orange.

"I'm your cousin Nymphadora - but call me that and I'll hex you! I prefer to go by Tonks." she grinned "My mum's your aunt Andromeda."

"Pleased to meet you Tonks." he said stiffly, wishing her hand would remove itself from his shoulder.

"Look at you!" she enthused "The spitting image of Aunt Cissy! That's a Malfoy jaw line though, you Malfoys were always such pointy buggers."

Draco didn't really know what to say to that. Cousin Tonks looked nothing like his mother, but she did have a somewhat softened version of Bellatrix's features, particularly her heart shaped face. Somehow he didn't think anyone with the muggle name 'Tonks' would appreciate the comparison. He tried to smile politely but it felt more like a grimace.

"So what do you like then? What do young Malfoys do in their spare time these days? I remember mum saying that old Lucius was a keen chess player before he got caught up in sneakier activities, but I didn't really know him at all."

Draco's smile became a little less forced. He thought that anyone who could describe his father's 'activities' as sneaky deserved that at least.

"I'm a seeker on the Slytherin quidditch team." he offered, and was rewarded by a bright smile

"Oh good! Me too! - on the team, I mean. Except I was a chaser."

"You were a Slytherin?" Draco felt himself cheer up a little

"No, no - a Hufflepuff - oh now!" she whacked him playfully on the shoulder when she saw his expression "Hufflepuffs have the most fun - we're under the radar when it comes to mischief and pulling pranks- who would suspect a Hufflepuff!"

"No one," Draco agreed with a snigger "but there's a reason for that. Hufflepuffs don't have the imagination for decent pranks!"

Tonks puffed up with indignation "I'll have you know-"

But then the door flew open with a bang and a flushed Ronald Weasley burst into the room, wand aloft and his eyes narrowed suspiciously.

"Oh -" he stopped short, his face relaxing when he spotted Tonks "Hi - I thought -"

Then he caught sight of Draco, and the two exchanged scowls before Draco remembered to look at the floor.

Just ignore him.

"Put your wand away Ron before Molly sees you and throws a fit." Tonks said good naturedly, then turned to Draco and patted him on the back. "Listen you, drop me an owl whenever you want and we can discuss the qualities of Hufflepuff house in more detail." she winked "and don't let all these red-heads get you down." and as she turned away her hair, which had changed gradually back to pink during their conversation, suddenly morphed into a long, silken mane of fine blond hair which swished as she walked away.

Draco stared, and as she turned to wave before she walked out the door, he dazedly thought that perhaps that would be what his mother would have looked like, if she'd been less serene and more light-hearted.

He made to follow her, but Ron crashed into his shoulder as he made to move past him.

"Don't go lusting over Tonks now," Ron snarled, digging his fingers into his shoulder "now that she looks like your mother, you inbred ferret."

Draco wrenched his shoulder from his grasp. "Shut up Weasley. Or I'll shut you up."

They glared at each other for a long moment, before Draco swept out.

It was yet another dull morning at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, a light mist of drizzle was falling outside in the street, and Ron, after finishing his breakfast, turned around to see Malfoy speaking to Mrs Weasley in a low voice outside the kitchen door. Mrs Weasley nodded, patting Malfoy on the shoulder (he flinched away) and Malfoy disappeared in the direction of the stairs.

Scrambling to his feet, Ron hurried over to Mrs Weasley who was now heading towards the sink where a large pile of dishes were magically levitating one by one into the soapy water.

"Mum! What was Malfoy saying to you?" he demanded

Mrs Weasley sighed "Nothing that concerns you, Ron. I do wish you would stop badgering everyone about him. It's no wonder the poor boy never speaks."

"Poor boy! Mum this is Draco Malfoy we're talking about!"

"Ronald Weasley!" Mrs Weasley snapped, turning around to brandish a soapy spoon at him "That is enough. Dumbledore asked us to make him feel welcome, and that's what we'll do!"

"But mum - who knows what he could be planning! He's got us all under one roof with him - and he even has his wand! You do know he's probably been taught the Dark Arts since he was a baby-"

"I said that's enough!" Mrs Weasley looked angry now "It's not your place to question him Ronald. We have a house that's usually full of aurors, there's nothing to worry about, and for all our sanity's sakes, if you would just pipe down, we could all have some peace. The poor dear was only asking about the old piano in the drawing room, nothing more."

The piano? Ron was baffled but didn't dare provoke his mother further. Instead he scampered, taking the stairs at a run, ready to confront Malfoy in whatever his plans were.

However when he reached the drawing room, all was quiet. Malfoy had the top of the piano open and, standing on a chair, was rooting around inside the instrument, muttering to himself.

"Oy!" Ron said loudly "What do you think you're doing? That belongs to Harry now, you've no right touching it!"

Malfoy jumped as if shocked and looked up, withdrawing from the piano and Ron soon saw why.

"HEY!" he bellowed, storming towards Malfoy "You're using magic!"

"Bugger off Weasley!" Malfoy said, his face white with suppressed anger, but then the door swung open

"What's going on in here!" Ginny said looking from Ron to Malfoy

"He-" Ron gestured violently towards Malfoy "Is using magic to mess with Harry's property!"

"Your mother said I could fix it, if I wanted!" Malfoy snapped at Ginny

"She would never let you use magic, of all people! Never mind that you're still under age!" Ron shouted

"What? But Ron, you know Harry doesn't care about the house, let alone the furniture, and if mum said-"

At this point, Mrs Weasley entered the room at a run

"What's all this shouting - Ron! What are you doing in here! I told you to leave him alone!"

"Mum!" Ginny intervened "Draco was fixing the piano, but he was-"

"Using magic!" Ron finished, folding his arms in triumph

Mrs Weasley, still angry, turned to Draco

"Is this true?"

"Yes." Malfoy looked defiant "You said I could fix the piano. And so I was."

Ron could barely restrain a girlish giggle of glee - Malfoy had no idea what he was letting himself in for.

"I did not say you could use underage magic, which is illegal, may I point out."

"My pare-" Malfoy started, then hurriedly clamped his mouth shut, and stared fixedly at the floor.

Ha! Ron thought, but for some reason he could see him mother visibly deflating, as if this reaction somehow affected her capacity for giving a good telling off.

"Out - Ron, Ginny!" Mrs Weasley motioned towards the door.

Ron didn't bother protesting, but as soon as the door clicked shut they both huddled around the keyhole as Ginny pulled an extendible ear out of her pocket.

"-n't know how you parents ran things in their home Draco," Mrs Weasley was saying "but here we don't allow our children - or any underage guests - to use magic outside of school."

"I apologise." Malfoy said stiffly "I only wanted to fix the piano."

Mrs Weasley sighed "Be that as it may…" there was a silence, then she said "Perhaps you could give one of us adults instructions, and we could fix it for you?"

"It requires a musical ear." Malfoy sounded frustrated "and now I've had a look, I know exactly what needs to be done. I only needed a few minutes more with it."

"Tell you what," Mrs Weasley said, after a long pause "I feel that you need a hobby - it's not healthy, a young boy like you cooped up in a dreary house like this with nothing to do. It's partly Ron's fault that you're having such trouble adjusting, and I feel responsible….Perhaps I could overlook - just this once mind you - a little bit of magic, as long as I'm right here, keeping an eye on you."

Ron and Ginny exchanged wide-eyed looks, both shocked, but Ron's eyes were furious.

"I don't believe it! He's got her wrapped around his-" but Ginny motioned for quiet and squinted through the keyhole again.

"-ever, if I catch you using magic again," Mrs Weasley sounded stern "You will be helping to scrub down the attic rooms - they haven't been touched for years, and I'm afraid I've been putting them off!"

"Of course, of course." Ron could hear thumps as Malfoy climbed back on top of the chair and opened the piano lid again "Thank you very much, Mrs Weasley."

Ron didn't bother noting that this was the first time Malfoy had called anyone by their name (other than insulting Ron minutes before), but instead flung the extendible ear to the ground and stormed off.

Although he spent most of his time in his room on the top floor, Malfoy did make regular appearances at mealtimes, although initially only picked at his food. Ron had trouble keeping his temper under control; did Malfoy think his mum's meals weren't good enough for him? However this changed very soon when Malfoy discovered the fuss Mrs Weasley caused when he didn't finish his food ("You're so skinny, dear, here - have some more potato."). The boy clearly didn't want any attention on him, avoiding everyone's eye at the dinner table and staying out of conversations, so when Mrs Weasely fussed around him asking if he felt ill, or if he needed a pepper-up potion every time he left something on his plate, he would hurriedly gulp down whatever was left, and then leave promptly afterwards. Ron would smirk in a self-satisfied manner, and particularly enjoyed when other Order members visited the headquarters, especially the aurors. At times like this, Malfoy would remain near Mrs Weasley, as if for protection, and would sit, stiff and pale, visibly forcing himself to eat so that Mrs Weasley wouldn't bring more attention onto him. The order members, for their part would usually stare at him as he ate with both curiosity, and varying amounts of hostility. Tonks was the only one who didn't seem hostile at all, yet when she tried to engage him in conversation at the dinner table, she was usually met with a shrug and silence, though Ron suspected they talked more often in private.

Moody had the greatest effect on Malfoy, and Ron couldn't blame him, having witnessed their first meeting. After the first meal where Mad-Eye stopped by, Malfoy refused to eat at the table when he was around, and from then on edged silently into any room he entered when the Weasleys had company, in case Mad-Eye was there.

When Malfoy had joined the table that day, he had, as usual with other Order members, avoided Moody's eyes and ignored his greeting, except with a vague nod in his direction. He had lifted his spoon and unenthusiastically prodded at his soup.

"I'M TALKING TO YOU, BOY!" Moody had bellowed, causing Malfoy to jump a few feet in the air, flicking soup everywhere, and he shrank back into his chair in shock, his eyes now wide with fear fixed and on Moody.

Ron had chuckled, enjoying the show. This was the most interesting thing Malfoy had done so far.

"Alastor!" Mrs Weasley had exclaimed in shock, but Moody had ignored her

"That's right! At least have the decency to look me in the eye, scum!" Malfoy didn't move, frozen in shock still. "And just remember it was me who threw your disgusting father into Azkaban - too good for him, in my opinion!"

"Alastor - how dare - apologise at -" Mrs Weasley was clearly furious, so angry in fact she was spluttering with rage, but the gnarled old auror simply spoke over her

"Just you remember that before you try anything with the Weasleys here - over and above the call of duty as far as I'm concerned, taking you in! I'll have you reunited with dear old Lucius if you step out of line - and your mother will be following him in any case, if I have anything to do with it! Scum, all of you, Malfoys are!"

There was a ringing silence, and then Malfoy's spoon fell back into his bowl with a loud clatter, splashing more soup on the tablecloth, and the floor screeched as he pushed his chair out. There was complete quiet as he shakily stood and then he fled from the room, his face characteristically blank, Moody's triumphant.

Ron actually had felt a little sorry for Malfoy at that point, but not as sorry as he did for Moody, who got such a thorough rollicking from Mrs Weasley that he grudgingly agreed to apologise (after three hours of straight argument which no one else dared intervene into). However Malfoy wasn't to be seen. He refused to unlock his door, or answer Mrs Weasley's pleas and tearful apologies. He didn't eat for two days, leaving his trays of food outside his door to grow cold. When he finally began to eat again, he still refused to come downstairs for a further week.

Draco, shaking could feel every eye on him as he fled the room that day, his feet tripped over one another as he scrambled up the stairs, his mask cracking. Forcing it back into place, he began to sprint, using the hand rail to propel himself up the flights of stairs faster. His legs were shaking badly. When he finally reached the dingy bedroom door where he slept, his hands were shaking too much to twist the door knob. He squeezed his eyes shut hard, clutched his hair with his hands momentarily, then, uncaring for Mrs Weasley and her ridiculous rules, he took out his wand and flicked it at the door, which banged open so hard the door knob on the other side knocked a small chunk out of the wall. A strangled sob escaping him finally, he slammed the door shut as hard as he could, and the bang echoed in his ears for a few seconds. He threw himself onto the bed and he drew a rasping breath before his shoulders began to convulse with silent, racking sobs.

What had he done? Coming here? What had he though he would achieve? From one nest of snakes to another. He was going to be belittled, trapped, and controlled no matter where he went. He may as well have stayed with his family. At least they held some affection for him. Ron hated him - he didn't care about that, he was an arrogant berk. Ginny couldn't look at him after the stormy end to their relationship. And he had betrayed them all, he was a traitor. None of the adults wanted him there, he could feel it. He found Mrs Weasley's attention oppressive. He hadn't heard from Harry in months. They had made a truce, but he knew Harry would never forgive him. He had messed up that as well. And Hermione…well she was out of bounds in any case, never mind the fact that she hated him more than all of the rest in any case. He had no one.

He clawed at his pillow as he sobbed silently. How many times had he done this in his life? Many times, at least since he learnt what his parent's intended destiny for him was. His father couldn't stand weakness, which was why he remained silent as he cried. His mother ignored it, she had even put silencing charms on her son as a baby. No one cared. He missed Pansy, but he had practically given her away to Potter.

He felt a rush of anger. He wasn't even allowed to write to his friends, not even Blaise who had nothing to do with Voldemort. Pansy of course was out of the question, but he had no doubt Harry regularly exchanged letters with her. He accidentally let another sob out, and rolled over onto his back, clamping his hands over his mouth. Why had he given Pansy away? She was his. Had been. He had thought she would remain his friend, his sister, even though he had finally managed to break from their betrothal. He didn't want or need the romance, but he'd though she'd still be there for him if he needed her.

Was that his fault too? Caught up in his rebellious and interesting new friendships, had he abandoned Pansy? Was this his payback?

He didn't think he could stand another moment of life among Dumbledore's people, but there was no going back, unless he wanted to be killed by either side. If he did leave, his only option was to double cross Harry again, and really spy for the Dark Lord again - but neither side trusted him in any case. And he didn't want to go through that again, forging friendships and then losing them to a cause he didn't care for. He just wished he could be like Blaise, neutral, living in peace. But he had to choose a side, and he had done so. He couldn't go back, even if he wanted to. No

He still remembered what he had learnt about his father, what he had seen little over a year ago. He had had no idea…

Excited about the prospect of become an important man like his father, he had counted down the days until he would meet with the Dark Lord, 'He has an important task for you,'his father had told him, smiling indulgently as Draco had bombarded him with questions. 'Will I become a Death Eater? When can I wear the mask?' he had asked, seeing himself killing and torturing muggles to the admiring audience of his parents…even the Dark Lord would be impressed at Draco.

The reality of a Death Eater meeting was nothing like how he had imagined. He had pictured his father, tall and proud at the Dark Lord's right had, casting a disdainful eye (how Draco had hated that in private that look had been directed at himself - but no more!) over the other unworthy Death Eaters. He remembered how impressive his father had looked in his black robes and silver mask, had remembered the muggles spinning in the air in the distance at the world cup. They aren't people after all, he had thought at the time, little more than animals

Draco's first Death Eater meeting had been in a silent wood. His father had immediately fallen to the ground upon arrival, pulling Draco down with him. Confused, Draco knelt, watching his father crawl like an animal to the Dark Lord's feet, where he kissed his robes - actually kissed them - then withdrew, urgently motioning with his hand for Draco to do the same. Disgusted, scared and wondering why this was happening - his father had never mentioned this - he imitated him, feeling exposed as he was the only one without a mask. He had scrambled to his feet and stood beside his father, joining the circle of the Dark Lord's followers. At the Dark Lord's right hand stood the cackling, withered figure of his insane Aunt Bellatrix, her wild hair escaping her hood.

There he had seen that he was not the only unmasked one at this meeting, and his eyes flew from mask to mask, wondering who they concealed and whether they were staring at him, what they were thinking. In the middle of the circle, he noticed at last, magically bound and gagged, were frightened looking three females and a bruised, unconscious male. On closer inspection he saw that the youngest female was only about ten or eleven by the look of her, the next his own age or younger and the oldest one the same age as the man. They were a family.

Draco knew why the family of muggles was here. He knew what would happen to them - or he thought he did. He wondered why he wasn't excited. He felt an odd combination of fear and revulsion, but quickly quashed it. He wanted his father and the Dark Lord to be proud. He schooled an eager expression onto his face.

It was at this meeting where Draco grew up. He had looked to his father for support, not knowing that in many month's time his father would be in Azkaban, his fall and Draco's impossible mission engineered by Aunt Bellatrix. The muggles had been rapidly brought to his attention; Macnair had untied the youngest girl. He had not removed his mask, but Draco could imagine the greedy look on his face.

"We handpicked this one for your tastes Macnair!"someone had called.

Your tastesDraco had not known what this meant, but had disregarded the comment.

It had been December, only a week until Draco's birthday and he was still fourteen. He was still so naïve, not that anyone could have made him believe it. Until then.

The little girl had been Crucio'd within an inch of her life, her father roused out of consciousness by a physical beating and been forced to watch this happen to his daughter. Again and again. Draco had expected this, yet found himself horrified, eventually finding himself swallowing down vomit. He hadn't known a child could make noises like that. The mother and sister had watched, silent screams tearing their throats, silent tears coursing down their cheeks. The little girl was unconscious by the time Macnair dragged her body off behind a bush, and Draco watched the father begin to struggle even more violently as he suddenly realised what Macnair wanted with her.

If any of the Death Eaters had not been so preoccupied with they prey, Draco's face would have given him away, but they were moving onto the mother and sister.

Draco had been sick after all in the end. He had accompanied his father home shaking and crying. His own father had taken his turn with the sister - the one who was barely the same age as himself - if that. That could have been Pansy. But Pansy was a pureblood. That thought didn't comfort him. What would his mother think if she found out - did she already know?

His father had thrown him roughly into his room, looking disappointed and angry at his son's reaction to the sport.

And that was the first time Draco had cried like this. Like he was now, locked by himself inside his small room at Grimmauld Place. He had been plagued by nightmares of that night for two years now.

Ron had written a letter to Hermione. He had updated her on how badly Malfoy was doing at Grimmauld Place again, hoping to cheer her up. He knew she must be very angry at Malfoy after their break-up, but being a girl, of course she never spoke about it or mentioned him in her letters. However, he had a reason to butter her up now. I know the whole Malfoy thing must have been really hard for you. He was your first real boyfriend after all, and I know you must feel like an idiot

He crossed out his last words. He knew she must feel this way; he had after his relationship with the silly bimbo Lavender Brown, but he didn't think she would appreciate him mentioning it.

Do you think you'll go out with anyone else soon?

Ron took a deep breath before starting on the topic he had wanted to write about all summer.

I know you must have been cut up about you and Malfoy, and you were angry at me last time I asked this, but now you see I was right about him. Ron hoped she would include, in her reply, a sentence finally acknowledging that he had been right.

I've waited a while to ask you again, because I wanted to give you a chance to cool down - and it's easier to say in a letter! he added in this comment, hoping to make her laugh.

Will you be my girlfriend?

He decided to end the letter on a joking note, so that it wouldn't sound so serious - so that in case she refused they wouldn't feel awkward around each other.

Just think about how furious Malfoy will be when he sees I've got his girl! If you want to be, I mean. I sometimes think he still likes you by the way, so in any case, if you go out with me it'll put him off. And I'll batter him to an inch of his life if he touches you anyway, so don't worry about that!

Love from,


The reply he had received was a surprise.


You arrogant, self-obsessed bastard. I wouldn't date you if you were the last pathetic loser on earth.

Ron's heart snapped in two. His hands shook as he read.

Ha ha, I bet you thought that was what I was going to say.

Ron frowned and read on, confused.

Well actually, I want to agree with you.

About what? Ron's frown deepened

Yes, you were right. Malfoy was a liar.

He smiled to himself.

Well done. Now shut up and stop gloating or you'll be lucky if Harry and I ever speak to you again.

As for my answer to your question see above.

Oh, and by the way how could you think I'm stupid enough to date YOU, especially after you admitted in your letter (nice how you were too much of a coward to ask me in person, by the way) that you only wanted to do it to get back at Malfoy and gloat about me being 'your girl' now.

I said no before because you were an arrogant, prejudiced prick - and you still are.

Just so you know, Draco was better than you would ever be, and as a boyfriend I'd rather be with him again than with you.


Ron stared at the full stop after her signature. He felt tears pricking at his eyes, mind blank. Suddenly he was angry at Hermione, screwing up the parchment and flinging it into the fire. How dare she speak about him like that! All he ever wanted was to protect her! And to say she'd rather be with -

Ron leapt to his feet and sprinted out the door. He ran up the stairs to the library which was a new haunt of Malfoy's. He only had one thought on his mind: To make Malfoy pay for this. Malfoy had torn apart their friendship, he was dividing his family, and now Malfoy had taken any chance he had had with Hermione away from him.

He burst through the library door and slammed it shut behind him.

There was a thud of falling books and Malfoy's thin face looked around a tall book case.

"What the fuck are you doing in here, Ferret Boy?" Ron said, aiming for provoking a fight.

Malfoy initially looked furious, but then his eyes travelled over Ron's angry face.

"Just leaving." he said, looking away and bending to place the book in his hands on the floor.

"Oh no you don't!" Ron said, standing in his way as Malfoy sought a hasty exit. "I've had it with you, stinking up the fourth floor with your inbred stench, sneaking around trying to mess up my family! Moody had it right, you belong in Azkaban with your dear old dad!"

"What do you want, Weasley?" Malfoy said flatly, still avoiding meeting Ron's eyes. This only enraged Ron further.

"What do I want?" he said, barely avoiding shouting. He didn't want to alert anyone else to what was going on before he had a chance to seriously hurt Malfoy.

"What I want," he lowered his voice dangerously "Is for you to get your stinking filthy blood out of my family's lives."

Malfoy looked angry yet confused "And here I thought you'd be like your daddy, preaching that we're all the same."

"Shut it you-"

"- And besides, me, dirty blood? My pedigree goes back seven gen-"

"I know," said Ron "and you know what that means, don't you?" when Malfoy looked blank he said with relish "Inbreeding. Your family have been fucking each other for centuries. I bet you've had it off with your own mother! And to top it off, you're all bloody evil - so don't you dare ever call anyone else a mudblood, or a blood traitor you piece of filth."

Malfoy's face was purest white, teeth clenched. He looked as if he could barely move with anger.

"Get out of my way." he managed in a snarl "I'm leaving."

"How're you going to make me?" Ron said cheerfully "Is Bellatrix Lestrange fucking your father now, do you reckon? Maybe she visits him in Azka-"

Malfoy suddenly moved forward in a flash, grabbing Ron by the throat

"Don't you ever speak another-"


Ron's fist connected with Malfoy's skull and the other boy flew to the floor.

"Not very strong, are you?" Ron gloated "Not without Crabbe and Goyle to back you up. Bet you miss them now!"

Malfoy was scrambling to his feet, backing away. Ron really was much stronger, he had more muscle than in the past - probably as a result of his Keeper training - and had his height as an advantage.

"What the hell is this about Weasley?" Malfoy shouted

Ron followed his urges and said "Hermione. She fucking hates your stinking guts, you know, and she wanted me to do this to you."

He now wished he hadn't said that. The words sounded false and ridiculous even to his own ears, and Malfoy clicked on immediately.

"She turned you down again," he sneered "didn't she?"

"Shut up. I'm going to rip you apart Malfoy!" Ron shouted, then mentally cursed, hoping no one had heard him. What did Malfoy mean by 'again'? Surely Hermione hadn't told him? Surely she wouldn't humiliate him in that way?

"Why? What's it to do with me?" Malfoy smirked knowingly in a way that had Ron's blood boiling

"I'm gonna sink my fist in your teeth so you can't even suck your father's -" he advanced on him

"I said don't speak to me like - " Malfoy drew his wand, but Ron punched it out of his hand

"Oh no you don't ferret!"

Back against the wall, Malfoy had nowhere to run. "Did she tell you, Weasel?" he said suddenly, voice quieter again.

"Tell me what?" Ron snarled

Malfoy swallowed, looking as if he was making some kind of silent decision. Ron punched him in the stomach and he buckled

"Tell me what!" he said angrily

Malfoy doubled over, gasping, but when he righted himself his face was a mask of fury

"That you made her run right into my arms, Weasel, when you asked her out, that's what!" he hissed

"You're fucking lying, you stinking - that was ages before you and her even were talking!"

"No Weasel, trust me, I'd remember a night like that! I shagged her brains out to help her forget you'd ever spoken, and you had no idea!" Malfoy laughed maniacally, pressed up against the wall, and Ron's blood reached boiling point again.

"As if Hermione would - you little liar! She's not a fucking slut like your other girlfriends!"

"My other girlfriends?" Malfoy smirked "What, like your sister? No - " he said as Ron raised a fist "I never banged Ginny. But are you saying Harry's girlfriend is a slut now? Pansy? What kind of friend are you, Ron? - Oof" Ron punched him in the side, leaving him gasping. "Now Pansy used to be a bit of a slut when I was with her, I won't deny that." he wheezed, causing Ron to frown in confusion at this admission "Yeah," Malfoy continued "Pansy slept around. In the end it was Pansy, not me, who got into Ginny's knickers!"

"Anything else to declare?" Ron said, laughing "Because if there's anything else as funny as that…God do you think I don't know my own friends and family? You're full of shit, aren't you?"

"You don't believe me?" Draco said, a look of delight spreading over his face "Why don't you ask darling Ginny then, if you're so close? Ask her what she gets up to with Loony Lovegood in their spare time, hmm? Aargh!"

He had raised his hands to protect himself from another blow from Ron, but Ron's fist was like a rock and Draco actually felt his fingers snap under the impact. He nearly cried out in agony and he stumbled to the side, but kept talking as Ron advanced on him again.

Ron's head was spinning. Ginny wasn't - but then how would he know? She didn't talk to him about her relationships, not when he always told her off for dating people…

"I was telling the truth about Hermione too!" Malfoy continued "I stopped, you know, I told her if she didn't want to she could leave, but she practically begged me to shag her! You should have heard the noises she was making, Weasel, screaming my name, I'm surprised we didn't wake the whole school!"

Ron's blood ran cold. Surely….Was it possible….?

"I like the way she wears her socks, Weasel. You know, pulled up to her knees when she wears that little grey skirt? And the tight sweater? And if you take it off, Ronniekins, did you know she doesn't wear a bra- "

Suddenly Ron found his fist embedding itself in Malfoy's face again and again. He was seeing red, anger clouding his vision. He felt Malfoy's nose snap on the first hit, and Malfoy was yelling so he punched him in the jaw to shut him up. Malfoy's fingers were pressing on Ron's throat desperately, but he didn't care, but then they loosened and he fell back, momentarily stunned as Malfoy had punched him in the side of the head hard, making his ear ring.

Malfoy's face was red with blood, his hair rat-tailed and red at the tips.

"I don't suppose-" the Slytherin gasped, backing away "that you'll believe me if I said I fucked her in Filch's cleaning cupboard?"

Ron ran at him, but Malfoy, using the wall to propel himself, came flying towards him, and punched him on the chin, fending off Ron's blows. Ron grabbed a handful of Malfoy's hair and used it to pull Malfoy away from him and threw him hard against the wall.

"Nice night, that was." Malfoy said through a ghastly bloody grin as Ron advanced on him yet again.

Suddenly Ron slipped, skidding on Malfoy's blood on the wooden floor. Landing on his behind, suddenly Malfoy was on him, laying his fist into Ron's face repeatedly, and was rewarded by a gush of blood.

"I bet you never even copped a feel, did you Ron?" he cackled, then yelled in pain as Ron punched his cheek and there was a loud crack. "Nah - I think you knew she'd curse your hand off faster than you could stutter a counter curse!"

Ron leapt to his feet and kicked Malfoy in the stomach

"You little fucker-" he said thickly through a nose bleed.

The library door burst open, and Ron whirled around, but Malfoy leapt to his feet, taking advantage of the distraction and grabbed Ron by the neck, pulling him back on the floor.

"RON - Draco!"

Ron twisted around and punched Draco again, getting him in the stomach again and Draco kneed him hard in the ribs in return, and this time it was Ron howling in pain. The boys kept aiming flailing punches at each other as they were pulled apart by many hands, the room suddenly crowded, but they paid no attention.

"You fucking bastard, Weasley!" Malfoy roared as he was pulled off Ron "I'll fucking kill you! I will, I'll do it I swear!"

"No you won't you little arse!" Ron roared back, just as loud "You couldn't land a decent punch if your life depended on it! It's no wonder all you can do it talk - talk and talk and talk SHITE!" Ron ran at Malfoy again, but was caught by Kingsley who restrained him with an arm around his neck

"Still don't believ-?" Malfoy began

"It doesn't matter!" Ron bellowed from Kingsley's elbow "It's all you're good at, you nasty little ferret! No wonder you're gloating about it! Posing and shagging, apparently is all you can do!"

"At least I can get some!" Malfoy gasped and struggled as Lupin tried to cover his mouth so he couldn't provoke Ron further "You can't get a fucking DATE from her!"

At this Ron managed to break free, fists flailing. Malfoy received four more punches in rapid succession as Lupin held him down while Tonks tried to fend off Ron, while Kingsley and Mr Weasley tried to restrain Ron. Lupin had received a black eye before both boys had been secured and dragged off into separate rooms.