The Disappearance, Chapter 4

Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven.
Tyron Edwards
Draco paced the room, stopping at intervals to stare out the window. His imagination tortured
him with various hideous scenarios involving Ginny, but they all amounted to the same thing.
She was gone, she would never return to him, and he would be alone in this terrifying new world
of mists and fog and disappearances.
“Oh gods, oh gods, why did I let her go,” he muttered.
“You’ll see her again,” said the antique porcelain clock on the mantelpiece above the fireplace.
”Really?” he asked eagerly. “I mean—uh—it’s not as if I care.”
The clock’s painted face smiled. “Draco, dear, you ought to know by now that you can’t lie to an
Inanim. You do care about what happens to that girl. Very much. And I can tell you that she’ll
come back.”
He sighed, slumping into a chair. “How do you know?”
“That I can’t tell you, dear boy.”
“Do you know what’s really going on? You do, don’t you?”
The clock nodded, its hands bouncing up and down slightly.
He rubbed his face. He thought that he could actually feel his lack of sleep, like scratchy nerves
poking through the skin. “Can’t you tell me?”
“There are things that no Inanim is permitted to do.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. You’ve been serving the Malfoys since the nineteenth century!
Who’s behind this? Why is it happening? Won’t it ever end?”
The clock remained silent. Draco cursed it rather creatively, realizing too late what a terrible
mistake that was.
The sniffles began.
“I’m sorry. Tempis—look, I’m really sorry, I’m just a bit on edge—oh, gods, please don’t start
striking thirteen again!” he groaned.
He did not hear the knock on the door over the clock. He did not see when it opened. But he
smelled a wave of flowers, violet and lavender and jasmine, and he turned to Ginny.
“Are you planning to let me in, Malfoy?” she asked. “Or are you going to make stand here
because you don’t want to get your carpet wet?”
Draco realized that he had been staring at her without moving. She rolled her eyes and came into
the room, bringing a wave of damp cold. But she moved closer, and he felt the warmth and
solidity of her only inches away from him.
With horror, he felt tears stinging the corners of his eyes.
“I’m so cold,” she said, starting to shiver.
He did not take her in his arms and hold her tightly, and nuzzle his face in that wealth of red-gold
hair, and warm her with himself. It felt like the greatest effort of his life.
“Hot tea,” he said instead, hurrying into the kitchen. “That’s it. I’ll make us both some tea.”
When she could no longer see him, he closed his eyes and leaned against the stove briefly.
“You’ve got it bad, you know,” whispered a burner.
“Shut it,” he hissed.
They sat at the table, a silent Ginny wrapped in a plaid wool blanket woven in green and silver.
The teapot kept winking at Draco and nudging its handle, elbowlike, towards her.
Ginny sipped at her steaming cup. “I couldn’t find Luna,” she finally said.
“Oh. I’m… ah… sorry,” Draco said awkwardly. He really had no idea what else to say. What
was Luna to Ginny? A flatmate, a friend, a lesbian lover? I sincerely hope not. Although it didn’t
make any difference to him, of course.
Now Ginny was saying something else, but his mind seemed to be working rather on its own. It
had swiftly presented him with a large picture of a naked Ginny kissing a naked Luna, the blonde
and red strands of their hair intertwined. But he didn’t like blondes, and Luna looked a bit like a
Malfoy, which pretty much ruled out any attraction to her, however frequently his cousins had
intermarried. So the other girl was erased rather quickly, leaving only Ginny. And since there
didn’t seem to be anyone else in his fantasy for her to kiss, perhaps he ought to…
“Malfoy? Are you listening?”
“Then what did I just say?”
“Ah… you couldn’t find her?”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “You had that rather stupid slack-jawed look on your face. Don’t think I
don’t know what it means. I grew up with six brothers, you know.”
He wondered if his face actually were burning scarlet. He’d always been able to control that sort
of physical reaction in the past, but the gods only knew if the skill was working anymore.
“You’re wasting your time,” she went on. “Luna’s too busy studying neuromagical therapy right
now to date anyone. That’s what she says, anyway.”
“Right.” He started to correct her, but it dawned on him that it was better if she believed he really
had a passing interest in Luna Lovegood. Well, not that he had any sort of interest at all, in
“You seem to be stuck on one-word answers, Malfoy,” she said. “What I said is that I couldn’t
find Luna, but all of her things were still there—clothes, books, odd feathery flappy bits on
hangers I didn’t really want to know the use of—everything. So I don’t think she’s disappeared
like the rest.”
“Where is she, then?”
“I don’t know. And…” Ginny traced her finger round the edge of her cup. “There’s more I
haven’t told you. I’m sure I came over a bit queer earlier when you said something about that
little shop. It was because it’s not there anymore. It’s not only people who are disappearing,
Malfoy. It’s places, too.” Her voice took on a jerky, restless quality. “I couldn’t find anyplace at
all. I tried to go back to our flat, and I couldn’t even find that. I was lost in the mist, and I kept
going round and round in circles. But then I found you.”
Draco’s knuckles went white as he clutched his cup. It gave a whimper, but he did not hear it.
She could have been lost; he might never have seen her again. It had been such a close call. I
never should have let her out. I knew it.
Ginny cleared her throat. “I never thought I’d say this, Malfoy, but—look, can you just let me
stay here for the night?”
“Ah—yes.” He was still stuck on one-word answers, apparently.
Draco turned over on the couch, flopped his pillow back and forth, and finally put his hands
behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. This round of activities had been continuing for hours
on end. He felt his eyes burn from lack of sleep. He only wanted to do one thing, really.
It would be utterly demented to go into his bedroom and watch Ginny sleep. She would
undoubtedly start screaming the building down if she woke to find him standing over her. So he
wouldn’t do any such thing, of course.
Having decided this, Draco got off the couch, walked quietly into his bedroom, and stared down
at Ginny, struggling to make some sense of the emotions swirling through his head.
It must be no more than desire, he thought, tracing the curvy shape of her body under the
coverlet. Simple lust. The freckle-face brat had matured into a very pretty girl. And his sexual
encounters since the war had numbered exactly two, neither very satisfying.
There had been once with Pansy, just after the last battle at Hogwarts. She approached him the
next night, when he and his mother were staying in a hotel in Hogsmeade like refugees, not
knowing where they would go or what would happen to them. Draco hadn’t known whether he
would ever see his father again, or if he wanted to. She knocked on the door when his mother
was sleeping in another room, and she took him to her own silent chamber. The experience had
been good, as it had always been with Pansy, because she was his friend. He was thinking about
rousing her for another go when she burst out crying, which had rather horrified him.
“It’s not you,” she kept choking. “It’s everything. You understand, don’t you?”
Yes, he understood.
Six months later, he had met Daphne’s annoying younger sister Astoria outside the Wizengamot
on the day the Malfoy money and lands were returned to him. Her family had lost nearly
everything, as his had not. He tried to remember that fact as she simpered and tried to flirt. She
wanted his money, which everyone now knew he still possessed, but she did not know why the
bargain had been struck. How could she, when he didn’t know? He did not want to be cruel
simply she was annoying and ignorant, and he was intensely grateful when Daphne Greengrass
came upon them.
She had known that something was very wrong. They’d been close enough for that, anyway. She
had taken him to her flat without a word and comforted him with her body. He often wondered if
it would have helped to cry in her arms, but he could not. He had enjoyed the physical pleasure
she offered; he had made sure that she enjoyed herself as well. And at the end, his heart still felt
like a stone.
One week later, Lucius Malfoy had killed himself with a Morto hex in his favorite study in
Malfoy Manor. He had left a note. This meant that nobody but Draco and Narcissa ever knew
that his father had done it for their sake, knowing that his death would appease the Wizengamot.
Draco never found out if someone in the Ministry had made a deal with his father to commit
suicide after the trial in order for the case to go as it did, or if Lucius simply knew that his death
was the only way that the other side would forever allow Draco and his mother to retain the
Malfoy fortune and lands. Whatever his father had been, he had made that choice, kind and cruel,
a double-edged sword that slit through the fabric of all their lives. It would haunt Draco forever.
It had not helped his mother, and he was often not so sure that it had helped him, either.
Daphne came to him again, but he knew that if he took her a second time, she would expect
much more of him. He did not have it to give. She had always been his friend, and she did not
deserve that fate. So he had let her go.
There had been no-one since then, only six months of celibacy for a nineteen-year-old boy who
knew exactly what he was missing. That explained these inexplicable feelings for Ginny
Weasley, of course-In the present, she turned and sighed restlessly, breaking his train of thought. His pyjama top fell
down from her shoulder; she had buttoned it unevenly, he saw. His eyes widened. It had just kept
slipping. He saw the swell of her breast down to the nipple. If he peered down the top, he could
see the shadow of a raspberry-pink nub.
He sat on the side of the bed, barely allowing his weight to make a dent in the mattress. From the
new angle, he could see even further down the open top. The swell of her other breast was
clearly visible now, too. Her hair was spread out over his pillows. He leaned closer and sniffed
her scent of lavender and violets. He had an utterly mad impulse to slide in next to her and take
her in his arms, savoring the heat of her lithe body, feeling her curves fit into his angles. He
could always say that it was just impossible to sleep on that damn couch…
He realized that his hand was reaching out for her, as if of its own accord. He snatched it back. If
she had any idea just how much of herself she’d exposed to him, the Bat-Bogey hex would be
the least of his problems.
But the same thought came to him again. Yes, he felt lust for her; he could feel how he had
snapped to instant attention, making the fit of even a pair of loose pyjama bottoms go
uncomfortably tight, but if lust was all that he felt… No. It was not.
He turned and left her, going back to the couch and punching at a pillow without any noticeable
result. I never had the least idea this thing was so bloody uncomfortable to sleep on!
Finally, he fell into a restless sleep and unwelcome dreams.
He was in the same scene again, the endless loop of flashback that he could not escape. The
Death Eaters were massed on one side, and all the students and teachers of Hogwarts on the
other. Well, everyone except the Slytherins. He later learned that they’d all been locked in the
basement during the entire battle.
“Will anyone join me?” asked Voldemort.
Nobody moved a muscle.
“Anyone? Anyone at all?” The Dark Lord had turned his terrifying, caressing eyes directly on
Draco. He shook his head. The students were all round him; he could feel their wary warmth,
their cautious approval. It was the first time that any of them had ever felt or thought anything
good about him. He would not ruin it, he would not rejoin Voldemort…
“How very disappointing…” The Dark Lord’s eyes narrowed. Draco could feel the air turn cold,
and he knew, with the sort of knowledge that could come only from his year of service to the
thing in front of him, that Voldemort’s mood was about to turn. When it did, anything could
happen. Anything at all.
He saw his mother’s eyes, on his. How frightened she was! Fear and strength and love, all
combined. She did not move a muscle, but those eyes pled with him.
He broke ranks suddenly and headed towards her. Voldemort seized him and embraced him, and
he went stiff and cold in the thing’s arms, thinking let go of me, for gods’ sake, let go!. The Dark
Lord spoke some nonsense or other about how glad he was that Draco had returned to the fold,
but all that mattered was that the deadly mood had been turned and his mother was now safe.
But she wasn’t, and he wasn’t, and none of them really were. He knew what was coming next. A
year ago, Voldemort had let him go. But in the dream, he did not. He held Draco even closer, and
he whispered in his ear.
“You were a faithless and disloyal servant, Draco. But you will receive another chance.”
“No!” he gasped, sitting bolt upright as he always did when breaking out of this dream.
Too late, he remembered that he was sleeping on the couch, and that it was much too small for
that sort of thing. He felt himself sliding onto the floor. Someone caught him and hauled him
back with small, strong hands. He tried to fight whoever it was for a frantic instant.
“Stop it or I’ll let your fall, Malfoy,” said a voice. “Lumos.”
Draco sat half on and half off the couch, blinking. Ginny was bending over him in the darkness,
holding up her wand. He realized that she must be much stronger than he had ever thought
“You didn’t need to come out here, you know,” he said, pulling a coverlet over himself in a
disoriented way.
“Yes, I did. You were screaming,” she said. “You’ve probably woken up everyone in the
“Sorry,” he muttered, intensely glad that the room was far too dark for her to see him blushing.