Warning: The Author's Notes at the end of the chapter contain information on Draco's psychological state of mind. Please ignore if this is of no interest to you or interferes with your enjoyment of the fic.

Chapter 3

The Furious Slytherin

Draco strode onto the Quidditch pitch stands, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle. He sat, surrounded by various Slytherins, in the upper, middle section with a perfect view of the pitch. They were all gathered for a good show, the Gryffindor Quidditch Team practice.

It had become something of a tradition, since the Weasley King's addition to the team, to come and watch the occasional Gryffindor practice session bringing as much jeering and taunting as possible with them. Draco thoroughly enjoyed pissing off the Weasel.

Potty was much too experienced and skilled in playing the game, as well as tolerating the enormous amount of attention that came with it, to be bothered by their antics, but the Weasel boy was another matter altogether. He would become positively unglued.

Draco scanned the pitch for that familiar splash of red silk and freckles. They had several of their backup players on the pitch as well. He methodically went through each team member and was surprised to find she was missing. He checked again. Potty was shouting orders and began running a series of drills.

Amid the random jeer or taunt thrown by the Slytherins at The Weasel King, Draco scanned the stadium. On the opposite side of the stands, halfway up, was that package of red silk and freckles, sitting alone, staring out at the pitch. Draco followed her line of vision. She was staring at Potty directing the team practice.

"Draco, look at The Weasel!" Pansy yelled, nudging him. Draco turned to see a red-faced Weasel dangling by one tense hand from his broom, several team members rushing to his rescue. This was met with many additional Slytherin taunts and booming laughter.

What Draco Malfoy did not see was Ginny Weasley turning to stare at him from her vantage point across the field. She saw Pansy with her arm on his shoulder, Draco leaning back toward her, and their combined laughter. By the time Draco turned back around to take another look at the little Weasel, she was gone.

----- ----- ----- ----- -----

Some weeks later, after a long, drawn out Slytherin Team practice and a much needed shower, Draco left the Slytherin locker room. He was headed back to the castle when something caught his eye. He glanced out at the field, then doubled back and to the side of the stands just to make sure he wasn't seeing things.

There, in the middle of the practice field, stood the Weaslette and Scarhead, just the two of them, alone. They were not wearing practice robes because there was no Gryffindor practice scheduled. He knew this because the Slytherin team had taken the last time slot and ran overtime with all the goddamn bickering. What the hell were those two doing out there at this time of night?

He stretched his long legs out and leaned against the base of the stands, well hidden from their view and watched with some fascination. No, he wasn't close enough to hear what was being said, but he was definitely close enough to see their body language. Potty had his hands on her upper arms, staring intensely into her eyes as he talked to the little Weasel. She was nodding her head and staring confidently back at him.

The next thing he knew, the little Weasel had mounted her broom and took off to the top of the pitch, Potty trailing her closely. Draco quickly ducked beneath the cover of the stands. Then he laughed. Was this some sort of Gryffindor idea of a date? He shook his head in disgust. Hoisting his Firebolt over his shoulder, he strode out from under the stands to head back to the castle. The last thing he wanted to see was two Gryffindors mating. Hell, that kind of disgusting inbreeding might lead something truly horrific, like more magically mutated Gryffindors.

Then he heard her scream, an ear-splitting, vampire-staking, Thestral-thrashing scream, which rang out over the pitch and through the still of the night air. He turned and saw her slipping off the side of her broom, her hand failing to make purchase with its slender handle. Then she began that familiar tumble, screaming as she fell. Draco drew his wand and focused its tip squarely on that package of red silk and freckles.

Potter flew nimbly under her falling figure, arms outstretched. When they collided, her attempts to grab Scarhead only prevented him from latching onto her securely. One gloriously ripped robe later, she was in a free fall toward the ground.

"Wingardium Leviosa!"

Draco was now running toward the pitch, wand outstretched. Her fall arrested less than a dozen feet before her body made impact with the ground. He was standing next her when her boots finally hit the ground, softly, safely. Potter was right beside him, shoulder to shoulder, watching the little Weasel, eyes wide with concern. As his spell lifted and her full weight fell upon her now quivering excuse for legs, she stumbled forward, reaching out for Draco, who caught her in his arms and hauled her up against him.

"Weasel? You all right?" he questioned, staring at her with those piercing grey eyes. She nodded, putting her hands on his shoulders as she slowly straightened and stepped back, still too stunned to speak.

"Nice charm work, Malfoy," Scarhead muttered. Draco, suddenly aware of Potty's shoulder next to his, spun around and glared down the Wonder Boy's throat.

"What the hell did you think you were doing out there? Or were you thinking at all?" Draco grabbed a fist full of Potty's robes and shook him. "Didn't even bother to cast a safety net? That was a goddamn stupid thing to do."

Then he was aware of the little Weasel's hand on his shoulder. He let go of Potty's robes with a good push and stormed off, grabbing his Firebolt as he went.

Ginny Weasley and Harry Potter stood, shoulder to shoulder, staring at the furious Slytherin as he strode off toward the castle.

Author's Notes: Okay, Draco's fine display of hypervigilence and anger around Ginny's second accident are more evidence of his PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). In particular, his fierce, unexpected protectiveness and murderous rage are especially fine examples of his PTSD in action. Implied, but not stated in the story, was his re-experiencing of the original trauma as he watched her fall a second time. Life at Hogwarts is hell sometimes, sorry. If someone could please explain that to Ginny and Harry, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks.

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