As Sofia returned to the castle that evening, there was a darkness in the air, an evil that was riding on the wind. It distracted her from thinking about everything she had just learned.
She reached the castle, but before she could enter she was subject to an unnecessarily hard search by Filch, including several pokes with his Dark Detector that she was sure it would leave bruises.
She hurried to the Great Hall, unnerved by the silence. Even the mass of people heading towards dinner seemed scared or haunted, though of what she had no idea.
She sat down next to Hermione, across from Natalie. The rest of Gryffindors had become accustomed to Sofia's silence and hardly noticed her anymore, but Natalie still gave her a pleading look every time they were near each other. Sofia could not face her friend though, and she ate in silence. She listened in on Harry, Ron, and Hermione's conversation in an attempt to find out the cause of the somber mood.
"I can't believe it happened to Katie," Ron was saying. "She had to have been cursed. She why else would she carry something dangerous to the castle. She would never hurt a fly!"
"It was Draco," Harry said. "It must've been."
"But Harry," Hermione argued. "You heard McGonagall. He was with her all day. It couldn't have been him."
"What happened?" Sofia asked suddenly, making everyone around her look up at her in shock.
"Katie Bell was coming back to Hogwarts carrying a package," Ron began. "There was a tear in it and she touched it and it cursed her, some dark magic."
"Sofia," Harry said in a low voice. "Was it Draco?"
Sofia looked across the hall at her blonde headed friend. Did she believe it was him? Yes, she believed he was a part of it. Did she know for sure? No, Draco had no reason to target Katie other than she was in the Gryffindor Quidditch team and she did not believe that would be enough of a reason for him to try and kill her.
"I don't know," she whispered. "I really don't know. If he was in detention, I don't see how it could have been him."
"But..." Harry said.
"But, I don't know. He wont talk to me."
She caught a glance of Draco standing up across the hall. He wasn't looking at anyone, his head held high as he strutted across the Great Hall and out of the doors.
Sofia stood up and followed him. She needed answers. She deserved the truth from him. She dashed through the halls, catching a glimpse of his black cloak as he turned a corner.
"Draco, wait!" She called, turning the corner after him.
"Go away, Sofia," he snapped.
"Please, Draco, just talk to me!"
He was heading towards the Grand Staircase now, running to try and get away from her.
"Stop, Sof. Just stop. Get away from me!"
He started running up the stairs, two at a time. Sofia felt herself struggling to keep up as he lengthened the distance between them.
"Please, let me help you," she cried. "I can help you, Draco just talk to me."
He was not stopping, and Sofia felt her heart shattering. What had she done to make him hate her so much? What had she done to push him away.
He reached the seventh floor and turned to run down the corridors. She followed him, running fast and calling out his name. He turned down one corridor and threw open a door. He slammed it shut just as Sofia reached it. She heard the clicking of locks inside.
"Draco, please, tell me what I did. Tel me why you hate me."
"I don't hate you," she heard his voice say quietly from the other side of the door.
She leaned her shoulder against it.
"Then just listen to me. You don't have to say anything just please, listen to me. I know you're scared. Trust me, I know how you feel. You feel alone, lost and hopeless. You feel like you are on a tight line, and one step in the wrong direction and you lose everything that you love. You are torn between the good that fills your heart and the duties to which you are bound to fulfill. You would prefer to be dead did you not already feel as though you were knocking on death's door. But Draco, you are not alone. I've been where you are, endured the same and I can help you survive it as you helped me. Trust me, as I have trusted you. Let me help you carry your burdens, as you have helped to carry mine. Let me protect you, just as you have protected me. I won't abandon you. I won't let you be alone."
She listened quietly, praying for his answer.
"But I am alone," he said through the door. "Go, Sof, before you get hurt."
She stepped back from the door for a moment, trying to fight away a tear that threatened to fall.
Then she stepped back up to the door. She leaned her back against it and slid down until she was sitting against it.
"I'm not going anywhere," she whispered to him.
Unknown to Sofia, Draco sat leaning against the other side of the door, head buried in his hands as he sobbed silently.
The beautiful girl whom he loved like a sister could not help him. No one could. Though he would do anything for life to return to how it had been a year ago, it never would. He was alone; alone in his mission and alone in his life. The empty classroom that he sat crying in was proof of that.