It hadn’t been broken as badly as Luna had feared. As things stood, her fractured ankle had been among the least of Madame Pomfrey’s concerns. Once Hermione and Ron had been stabilized, Ginny, along with Neville Longbottom, had received the nurse’s bone mending spell and sent on their way.
Neville had gone back to Gryffindor Tower and she’d told him she’d be along as soon as she’d checked on Harry. Seeing as everyone assumed she was still head over scuffed heels for the Boy-Who-Lived, and Neville was unaware that the surviving Potter was off somewhere with Dumbledore at that moment, he hadn’t questioned her words.
She found that useful every once in a while, the fact that few people questioned the absence of little Ginny Weasley. It certainly served her well tonight, or this morning, as it was actually somewhere around four now. Going back to the tower and pretending to sleep or facing any inquisitive Gryffindors that might have already gotten up was the last thing that she wanted to do right then. So she hadn’t done either of those things, instead she’d gone for a walk.
Well, in all honesty she’d gone for a walk about an hour before, now she was just wandering aimlessly, avoiding Filch and Mrs. Norris. With Umbridge having been released only hours before, her horrendous little sneaks weren’t out and about and the normal prefects hadn’t yet been reassigned to their rounds so it wasn’t all that difficult to avoid detection. In fact it was quite easy, especially in the dark, silent corridors of the… dungeons?
The small redhead paused, wondering when exactly she had ended up in the dungeons. Those contemplations were cut short a moment later when the silence she’d sought was suddenly shattered. Darting around the corner on instincts sharpened by the battle she’d so recently fought, Ginny drew her wand and waited.
She didn’t have to wait long. A few tense moments was all it took for the source of the pounding footsteps to become apparent. Draco Malfoy. For a moment, she was back in the Ministry, Lucius Malfoy standing before her, firing off hexes and curses in an effort to kill her and the others. He couldn’t see her, but she raised her wand, just in case, fear a persistent itch at the back if her thoughts. Then she noticed something interesting.
Draco Malfoy wore concealment charms, the simple cosmetic ones that is, or at least he must, since she hadn’t seen the small pimple on his chin earlier that day at lunch, nor had she seen the tears currently glistening on his cheeks. Wait a second, tears? Draco Malfoy had been crying?
She crept around the corner just a bit to get a better look at the irate boy pounding on what looked to be a portrait of some kind. Why would he be doing that? Her answer came almost before she’d finished thinking as his furious voice traveled to her ears.
“Professor, Professor! Open up damn you! Professor Snape, please…” The last word, spoken quite a bit quieter than the rest of his tirade, heralded the arrival of the potions master whose thunderous expression froze at the sight of the blonde student whose angry tone had concealed the tears slipping from his grey eyes.
“Mister Malfoy what brings you so rudely to my door, at this, of all hours?”
“I know what happened at the Ministry.”
“You know what-”
“Mum’s here, she told me what happened with my dad, and she- she said Pans…” Snape seemed shocked into immobility as he watched the normally cold and confident young man lose his composure completely and nearly burst into tears. The professor regained himself momentarily however, and ushered the Slytherin into the room and let the portrait swing shut behind them.
For her part, Ginny was rather stunned as well, though she took a bit longer to regain her senses than Snape had. Once she had managed it however, she looked down at her hand as it lowered her wand.
She’d seen first hand what Lucius Malfoy had done, she knew he was most likely heading to Azkaban at that very moment and she was glad of the fact. But at the same time, well, it wasn’t so much that she felt bad for Draco, she didn’t. She didn’t. Though she might admit to being thrown a bit off kilter by the drastic change in character that she had just witnessed.
His dad was in jail, in Azkaban, and, well, she wasn’t sure exactly what else had upset him, a pan, pans? Shaking her head to dispel the curiosity mounting within her, she started to leave her hiding spot, but that wasn’t to be, as yet again she heard footsteps.
Pressing herself back against the wall once more, she waited, only to receive yet another surprising display of Slytherin emotion as a figure ran past her, slowing gradually until it stopped a few feet down a side corridor. Once stopped, the figure slumped against the far wall, sliding rather limply to the ground as its shoulders shook beneath strands of black hair. It was a girl, Ginny decided, a girl from Slytherin with somewhat long black hair who was… crying?
Another crying Slytherin, what were the odds? Very slim, the redhead decided. Was it a trick? No, Snape wouldn’t have wasted his time with such a thing, and Ginny highly doubted that any Slytherin would show such emotion just to get a chance to hex her, if they somehow knew she was there which they had no way to know. So it wasn’t a trick. Which left what exactly?
Two distraught Slytherins, apparently.
The youngest Weasley flinched as the sound of muffled sobs met her ears. She didn’t know this girl, she had no reason to help in any way, aside from the fact that she was obviously hurting. Damn her Gryffindoric sensibilities. The girl probably didn’t want help, especially from a lion such as herself. But she needed help from someone, it seemed. And she was the only one around.
Damn and double damn. She was really far too nice for her own good, the fourth year thought as she made her way over to the trembling heap of black and green robes.
“Um, are you okay?”
It was a stupid question, she knew, but it was the best she could come up with. Anything better caught in her throat as the girl’s head shot-up at her question, the tear-stained face pulling forth a name from the catalogs of Ginny’s mind. Pansy Parkinson. Pansy, maybe Pans for short?
Draco’s words came back to her and she glanced back at what she assumed was the entrance to Professor Snape’s private rooms, where Draco Malfoy had disappeared only seconds before. What was going on? What could have happened that would leave both dungeon royals in such an emotional mess?
Icy blue eyes, wet with tears, regarded her silently, unnervingly.
The older girl nodded, obviously trying her best to act as if she hadn’t been caught sobbing in a dark hallway.
“Weasel, isn’t it?”
Ginny felt her gaze harden just a bit. “Weasley.”
Seconds passed in silence, then another tear managed to escape the dark-haired girl’s control and roll down pale, wet cheeks and the Gryffindor cursed her overly developed compassion as she felt herself soften once again.
“Do, um, do you want me to get someone for you? Malfoy, maybe?”
As soon as she’d said it, Pansy’s shoulders started shaking again and the sobs broke free, causing a tide of guilt to sweep over the redhead. “Sorry. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you. I won’t get him, I promise.”
The crying continued, the fifth year’s face pressed tightly into her upraised knees. Ginny stood there feeling rather helpless and guilty for several moments, then, unable to just stand by and watch, she tentatively knelt at the other girl’s side and placed a hesitant hand on her shoulder.
She waited for the girl to push her away, to say something caustic or spiteful, but Pansy merely stilled for a second at the touch, then, to both girls’ shock, she leaned over, and let the redhead place her other arm around her shaking shoulders. Ginny stayed where she was for quite some time, simply holding the older girl while she cried, her hold growing tighter as Pansy let herself relax and simply be held.
That was how Draco found them nearly an hour later.