- Story Summary:
- In Ginny Weasley’s 6th year, Draco Malfoy saved her life and that’s a wizard’s debt. Now, five years later its payback time. Especially now that Draco’s in desperate need of a wife.
Serpent's Bride 12
- Chapter Summary:
- In Ginny Weasley's sixth year, Draco Malfoy saved her life and it's a wizard's debt. Now, five years later, it's payback time. Especially now that Draco's in desperate need of wife.
Author’s Notes:Again, thanks to all the people who gave me fabulous reviews! My special thanks to my beta-readers, you know who you are! And to Violetjersey for tirelessly calling me only to check up on how I was doing! Thanks so much!!!
Alli-chan! I really loved your e-mail last time!!! And your Riven fic! Ooohh…. Now you got me! Write! Write! ^_^ Thanks so much for all the help and encouragement!
My very special thanks to Fred for giving me a very useful URL regarding Harry Potter’s money conversion! I was really clueless about how much everything’s worth in here! ::lol:: Thank you so much for being so resourceful and for caring for this fic so much!
Thanks also to all the people who e-mailed me! Apart from the reviews, your personal e-mails also keep me going!
I hope everybody would be a little understanding about MY horrible Harry here. I admit I’m terrible when it comes to him. ::grins::
So far, that’s about everything! I hope everybody will like this chapter!!! Took me almost a week to get everything done! Please review!!! Thanks so much!!! ^_^
Serpent’s Bride XII – The Missing Necklace and The Evil Plots
"Mr. Zabini will see you in a moment, sir."
Draco looked up to see the Zabini’s butler standing before him, waiting for his reply. He took a deep breath and calmly nodded. "Fine," he answered.
"Very well, Mr. Malfoy. Please make yourself at home," the butler said before bowing and walking away from him, leaving him alone inside the vast Zabini sitting room. He sat down on one of the couches just before the cheerful fire. Crossing his long legs, he secretly wondered where Blaise could be. But then, he couldn’t care less. He didn’t even inform Blaise that he would be having a meeting with her father today in her house. He didn’t know why, but he was definitely sure that he was in no mood to see her, even her shadow, as of now.
His eyes roved from the fire to the crystal chandelier above his head, which was glistening and shining against the faint glow of the soft, orange blaze. His eyes then traveled to the antique glass cabinets lining the wall with miniature horses, dolls and carriages inside, all, no doubt, made of pure crystal. Then he noticed the comfortable looking couch just before the window. A soft humorless laugh escaped his lips as he remembered the many times they used to do ‘it’ there, unmindful of what the servants would think or say. As a matter of fact, now that he was thinking about it, they used to do ‘it’ anywhere in the house! That thought made him a little sick. How could he have been like that before?
"But why am I feeling this way?"he silently asked himself. Before, he wouldn’t have cared if they had done it somewhere less secluded. Not that he was a sex-crazed maniac or something, but he used to enjoy the thrill of the possibility of being caught. He couldn’t also say that he was reckless before. After all, he had been using protection and he didn’t sleep with just anybody, although he did manage to deflower most of the Slytherins and a little bit of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs during his Hogwarts days… Well, not a single one of the Gryffindors but still-- "What is happening to me?" he added as he felt himself starting those god-forsaken thoughts about Virginia once again. He took the rose pin out of his coat pocket and held it before him.
Lately he had been feeling this weird thing going on about inside him. He accepted the fact that that ‘weird’ thing started when he kissed Virginia the second time around. It actually shocked him to realize that it took him almost three months of bickering and bantering before she actually let him into her bed whereas it would only take him two or three dates, oftentimes just once, with any lady he chose. With Virginia, he realized that everything wasn’t just about sex or physical contact. Everything was beyond that. They actually— they actually talked. That was the thing that he seldom did with anybody! But then, why was Virginia an exception? He frowned slightly at the very idea, his right hand settling under his chin, his eyes not leaving the brooch.
He suddenly remembered that night when she suddenly held his hand for no reason. The very gesture brought a lot of unexplainable feelings inside him. New feelings. Yes, it was a physical contact but, unlike before, that physical contact had nothing to do with just having sex. It was very intimate. It was deeper. He admitted that before, he thought that any kind of physical touch meant just doing ‘it.’ That simple skin contact was just a not so polite way of initiating that ‘thing.’ Physical contact would eventually end in doing the ‘sins of the flesh,’ nothing more, nothing less. But— he momentarily shut his eyes. "God, I can’t believe how screwed up I was before to even think of such things!" he thought. It had never occurred to him that he was actually— well, shallow.
At that, realizations hit him full force. He suddenly found that during those three months that he spent with her, they were actually connecting emotionally, something that was hard to understand or to explain, something that he never did with anybody else. When they got married, made love for the first time, he felt himself connecting with her again, but this time, not only emotionally but also physically. It was like a joining of two bodies, two minds and two souls into one and he never felt anything like it before! It was an overwhelming feeling! Passion, desire, tenderness, lust, all put together! He never felt this with other women. It shocked him to finally realize that he wouldn’t want anybody but Virginia from now on. Without him being aware of it, Ginny had already managed to turn his life around.
"Funny seeing you here before me after five years, Draco Malfoy."
Draco looked up abruptly, the deep voice shattering his thoughts. He hastily put the rose pin back inside his coat pocket and focused his attention on the tall and regal-looking man before him. When Draco’s eyes met his, Draco stood up. Seeing the cold and unfriendly expression on the man’s face, Draco decided against offering his hand. Instead, he regarded the old man with the same icy politeness that the older man was showing him.
"Victor Zabini," said Draco instead, nodding once.
Blaise’s father took a deep but impatient breath. He strode across the room and sat on the single couch beside Draco. As if on cue, Draco sat back down and looked at him, his expression expectant, but foreboding. The old man cleared his throat noisily.
"Normally, I wouldn’t associate myself with someone who turned his back on the Dark Lord," Victor started, his cobalt blue eyes roaming from his head to foot rather rudely. Draco didn’t miss the subtle disgust in the man’s eyes upon noting him wearing Muggle clothes, his dark gray Armani suit. He stared at him coolly, his silver eyes looking at him straight as if immuned to such kind of look. "But as I see it--,"
"You don’t have much choice," Draco finished for him. He let out one of his Oscar-winning smirks. "It couldn’t be helped, Victor," he added. He knew how desperate Victor was to sell his property, leave the country and start all over again. After the Dark Sorcerer’s War, with Voldemort defeated, it didn’t surprise him to find out that nobody was interested to buy a former Death Eater’s property, even though the huge estate was indeed beautiful and highly lucrative. It actually made him wonder why his grandfather became suddenly interested with the Zabini’s estate. What’s more, why would he even send and trust him to do the transaction? He frowned thoughtfully. It was very, very peculiar.
Victor chose to remain silent, but his eyes narrowed evenly with subtle anger, acceptance dawning on him. After the fall of Voldemort, all of the Death Eaters suffered the same fate Lucius had. Some died but the ones who survived, including them, suffered the most. Like a snap, Victor Zabini suddenly found himself ripped off from his social standing in the wizarding world, hated by everybody and financially ruined. Death was better than this, he surmised. And now, looking at Lucius Malfoy’s son, sitting a little away from him with cold confidence, all grown-up, having the same ruthlessness his father once had, made him curse mentally. He couldn’t believe that the fourteen-year old boy he knew before was actually sitting here and buying him off!
When Draco was sure that the man would not answer, he raised his eyebrows casually. "Now, let’s get on to business, shall we?" he asked professionally.
Victor took a couple of breaths to calm his raging nerves. After a moment, he looked up and called for his butler. Draco tried to hide his amusement upon seeing the weary look on the man's face. At that moment, he felt powerful! Rich! More superior! He felt the same old feeling he used to feel way back when he was still a boy resurfacing once again and it never felt so wonderful! He knew it was cruel but he couldn’t help it.
"You called, sir?" his butler asked as he positioned himself beside the couch’s big armrest.
"Have the papers brought in here," ordered Victor.
The servant momentarily settled his yes on Draco before nodding in agreement. "Very well, sir." And with that, his butler walked away from them. Once alone, Victor settled his eyes back at the younger man sitting across from him. Seeing the smug look on Draco’s face, the old man’s his brows crinkled with fury.
"You were a terrible disappointment to your father, did you know that?" Victor asked, his voice calm but cruel. "The Dark Lord had high hopes for you."
"Voldemort was a damn twit for even trusting my father," said Draco simply, giving more emphasis on the name ‘Voldemort.’ Victor turned to him, aghast.
"How dare you insult the Dark Lord in front of me!" Victor cried out, fuming. He pointed an accusing finger at him. "You! Who do you think you are to say those things about your father? Such a shame to have as a son! You cold-blooded, ungrateful—"
Draco smiled at him without mirth. "I’m sure my father would be so proud," he replied unemotionally. "After all, isn’t that what he and the others like you taught me?" When Victor’s eyes widened before him with silent disbelief, Draco let out a soft chortle. "I’m sure he would be jumping for joy in his grave right now, hearing me say those words."
Victor shook his head. "You could’ve been great!" he exclaimed. "What a waste this boy was," he thought.
Draco Edward Malfoy, in his opinion, was the most promising young man in Voldemort’s inner circle. Gregory Goyle, Vincent Crabbe and the sons of the other Death Eaters were nothing compared to him. Draco had what it took to get to the top of Voldemort’s league. He was the most talented, one of the best in his class. He was charismatic, blessed with good, striking looks. He had this unexplainable something that drew people to him, that made people listen. His very presence commanded respect, a respect mixed with fear. That was the sole reason why the Dark Lord favored him over the others, much to the dismay and jealousy of the other members. "You could’ve been one of the most powerful wizards in our society! In your time! Did you already forget that those who served him loyally would be rewarded greatly?"
"Which, I’m sure, you could very well relate to," he answered sarcastically. He smiled egotistically at his direction. "That is why you’re sitting here across from me and are about to discuss the price of this," he stopped and let his eyes roam around the sitting room momentarily, "magnificent estate," he finally concluded.
Realizing the truthfulness of the young man’s reply shut Victor up. A tension-filled silence went about the room as he stared at Draco with undenied hatred. Then he smiled wickedly. "Don’t be too smug about this, boy," he started. "It was Vladimir who had money. He’s the one buying me off and not you!"
"That’s quite true," said Draco without losing his cool. "It’s also true that I will be inheriting all of his assets when the time comes." Then he gave him a winning smile. "Just think: why would my grandfather leave all his assets to me and not to his son?" he asked deliberately, pretending to be thoughtful about the matter.
Victor opened his mouth and was about to say something hateful when his butler suddenly came in, bearing the papers with him. Draco’s eyes followed the bunch of papers Victor took from his servant. It was, no doubt, his property’s important deeds. Laying the parchments on top of the small table before them, Victor carefully leafed through it.
"We have come to the agreement that a good 37 million Galleons would be enough to pay for this property," said Victor while handing Draco several yellowed parchments. "I’m sure you have your quill and ink ready, Mr. Malfoy?" he asked after a moment.
"We’ll see about that," said Draco as he took the papers Victor offered him. He let his back rest comfortably on the couch and started to read the documents, his face growing thoughtful by the minute while Victor sat there, waiting. After a moment, Draco smiled and placed the parchments down on the coffee table. "37 million Galleons is too much," he finally said, his face a mask of unknown emotions.
Victor frowned at this. "What do you mean?" he cried. When Draco regarded him silently, Victor Zabini swore. "You don’t have any idea how lucrative this property is, boy. I would be damned if I let you have this in less than 37 million!" he added.
"The property is highly lucrative, yes. But I did an extensive study of this grounds, which, by the way, you didn’t even bother stating here in your papers, and was actually shocked to find out that most of the lands have been untilled since God knows when. I can’t deny that you have vast, rich fields here and it is a real pity that they’ve been ignored," said Draco, raising his eyebrows knowingly. "Other than that, the servant’s quarters are terribly neglected, the stables near to ruin and your horses already dying. Now, I could go on and on about what needs to be done and believe me when I say that this could take us all day. Unless you give me your word that you fix everything first, I’d be willing to give you 37 million Galleons as payment, in full," he added shrewdly.
Victor shook his head. "This is unbelievable!" he exclaimed. "Do you have any idea on how much it would cost me to get everything fixed up? That’s the sole reason why I’m selling this place! I can’t afford maintenance anymore!"
"Well, I’m sorry to hear that but unless you do something about it, nobody would be bloody stupid as to pay 37 million Galleons for a wreck like this," answered Draco calmly. "However, I’m willing to pay you 17 million, no fixtures needed."
With that, Victor Zabini’s eyes narrowed angrily. "Who do you think you are?" he asked, his voice rasping dangerously. "This estate had been in my family for years and years. How dare you tell me, to my face, that this place is a wreck!" he said loudly. Then he stood up and paced the room back and forth furiously. "Vladimir and I have already reached an agreement! Just what are you trying to prove, boy?"
"I’m not trying to prove anything, Mr. Zabini," replied Draco with icy confidence. "I’m just trying to get what’s fair."
Victor snorted. "Fair? What do you know about fairness, Malfoy?" he asked bitterly.
"How about you?" Draco shot back at him cockily. "What do you and you’re so-called ‘friends’ know about fairness?" When Victor regarded him silently, Draco smirked. "You’d be surprised at what those five years of disappearance taught me, Mr. Zabini. Believe me when I say that you wouldn’t like hearing everything that I’ve learned." he quipped quietly.
"I’m not interested with your so-called enlightenment and your 17 million Galleons," the older man answered gruffly. "There are others who are willing to pay the price I’m asking for and—"
"Please save yourself from further embarrassment because I’m not falling for your bluff," Draco cut in coarsely. "Don’t think that I don’t know how desperate you are to sell this property, Mr. Zabini. Based from my observations, nobody’s interested to buy a Death Eater’s estate and frankly speaking, even I was baffled at my grandfather’s sudden interest in your property whereas he could buy other lands other than yours." He gave him a twisted smile. "Either you take my offer or you spend the rest of your life living in a place like this where everybody despises you and your family." He stopped and took a deep breath. "17 million Galleons," he said while settling his fingers under his chin. "What will it be?"
At that, Victor Zabini sulked heavily as he sat on the couch facing the younger man. He heaved a defeated sigh and rubbed the bridge of his nose tiredly. Then he shook his head and reached for the ink and quill beside the folder containing the important documents. "I may sign these papers, boy, but they are against my wishes," he said, while lightly dipping the sharp end of the quill into the bottle of the black ink. Then he let his eyes roam around the huge sitting room momentarily. Draco didn’t miss the light sadness his blue eyes betrayed.
"You could’ve thought about that before you joined Voldemort’s league,"he thought silently as he watched Victor sign the documents with a flourish. After a moment, Draco took the same quill and signed his name on the dotted line, opposite Zabini’s. "Done and done," he said while putting the quill down. He then brought the parchment to his face and lightly blew at the wet ink to dry.
When Draco started to place everything inside the folder, Victor turned to him with a rude smirk on his face. "You’ll get what’s yours, Malfoy," he said, his voice soft but menacing. "I swear you’ll get what’s yours someday."
Draco stood up. "No," he said while putting his heavy coat on, "YOU got what was yours, Victor." He shook his head while giving him a sorry sort of smile. "It is always a pleasure doing business with you."
With that, Draco turned around and made his way towards the estate’s huge doors, leaving the ruined older man sitting there, his hands covering his face in desolation and anger.
I really hope that you’re feeling all right. To tell you honestly, mother and I missed your presence in the dining hall terribly. Of course I can’t say what Draco’s say about this is but please be rest assured that he, once in a while, asks about you.
Ginny stopped her writing and momentarily took her fork and cut a tiny piece of the sweet chocolate cake resting on top of Draco’s writing desk just beside her scented parchment. She was currently writing a letter to Vladimir that afternoon while eating her second helping of the sweet pastry she had asked Draco to buy two days ago.
It has been three weeks since that fearful night and I suddenly found myself being cooped up in here with no one to talk to but my cat, mother and my books. Draco is always out on some business and I often just see him at night. As much as I hate being in here with nothing to do, I really can’t blame Draco for putting up a powerful spell all over the manor, preventing me and other people to apparate freely, unlike before. Other than that, he also had all the fireplaces temporarily disconnected from the Floo Network so as not to have everybody popping in and out of here from the fire. As a result, everybody who wished to visit (strictly close friends and family members only) have to use the old-fashioned way to enter. I’m forbidden to go out on my own. I was forced to stop teaching temporarily and have spent the most miserable New Year’s Eve of my life. I don’t know if I should feel flattered about this or not!
She let out a sigh upon remembering her bleakest New Year celebration. Because of the terrible thing that happened last Christmas, Draco and her family had decided to celebrate New Year’s Eve at the manor. She shook her head miserably. Even with the scrumptious feast Narcissa had prepared, still, everything was tense and stressful. Everybody was actually busy worrying about her. While Fred and George were keeping themselves occupied by blowing up the hefty supply of firecrackers they had brought with them, the rest of the men were busy talking about the on going investigation about the knives that had almost taken her life.
It was later learned, after Molly and Hermione talked to Sylvia and Nathan, that there was actually an open window inside her room that enabled the three knives to pass through. Apparently, Sylvia had opened the window because she had wanted to play with the Exploding Snaps Greg had given her, but Ginny had hauled her off and settled her on the floor together with her cousins to start the story telling session. She remembered standing up and reaching for a book when the knives went suddenly zooming towards her. It was actually Nathan who had called her attention beforehand, and then everything went blank. She suddenly couldn’t remember anything anymore. She shook her head and decided to continue writing.
But then again, I was really happy to see all my family get together that New Year’s. I just hope that the investigation will end soon and the perpetrator be caught so that I can have my life back. God knows I’m getting tired sitting here all day and waiting for my husband to show up. I’m starting to feel like a common and useless housewife. I really hate that. J
Do write back as soon as soon as you can!
All my love,
With that last statement, Ginny then put her quill down and let the ink dry first before stamping Draco’s seal at the lower right corner of the paper. Then rolling it neatly, she summoned Athena, her snow-white owl, who was patiently perched up on top of Draco’s bookshelf.
"Ready to go to grandfather’s house again, Athena?" she asked while tying a silver ribbon around the rolled parchment. The owl, in turn, let out a loud whoop of agreement as its reply. Ginny laughed softly and tied the note on Athena’s left leg. "Hurry back, all right? You still have something to give to Ron and Hermione," she said as she opened the window. Athena then gave her finger an affectionate nip before setting off.
With the owl already gone, Ginny then closed the windows and decided to finish the rest of her cake. "This is so boring," she thought as she looked at the sinking sun. How many days had it been? Three weeks, almost a month. She heaved a bored sigh and made her way for the bed, bringing her plate with her and munching all the way. She felt totally useless, as in literally useless. This present condition was making her look like an undomesticated woman and that was very, very insulting for her part. Even if she wanted to help out in the household chores or cook in the kitchen (after all, she had been living alone for the past four years, right?) there were already many servants to do all that. Helping out would make her look, well, it would be very strange for the servants. And besides, if Narcissa ever saw her, she would surely never hear the end of it.
She plopped herself on the bed and began propping two pillows against the headboard. Lying down, she took the last bite of her cake and began reaching for Draco’s book, which was resting on top of the night table. Obviously, he had already started reading his second Gaarder piece, Vita Brevis. She let out a tiny smile as her fingers carefully began leafing through crisp pages of the novel. It pleased her to know that Draco, indeed, appreciated her Christmas present. She reached for the box of chocolate inside the night table drawer and began reading the first page of the book while munching, yet again, on another set of sweets. She was already half-way through the second page when a soft knock echoed in the stillness of the room. Ginny looked up to see Narcissa entering with Hammilton floating close behind her carrying a tray.
"Hi, mother!" Ginny greeted, closing the book and settling it aside.
Narcissa smiled and sat on the bed. "Hi, dear," she said. "I hope we’re not disturbing you."
"Oh no," replied Ginny quickly. She fixed an inquiring gaze on Hammilton’s prim and proud form. "So—," she began, looking from the ghost servant to Draco’s mother, her eyes questioning.
"Oh yes," said Narcissa mildly, noting the curious glance Ginny cast their way. "I just thought that it would be a splendid idea to have dinner inside your chamber." She sighed. "I just don’t see the point of using the enormous dining hall since there’s only two of us right now." Then looking up at Hammilton, she then bid him to place the tray on the table just before the window. Ginny smiled and got out of bed while taking another chocolate from the box.
"Oh, I get what you mean, mother," said Ginny as the ghost busily set the silvers and porcelain before them. Narcissa took her wand out and summoned herself a chair. "I think Draco won’t be coming home till eleven," she added while taking her seat.
"Will there be anything else, Madam?" Hammilton asked after laying the bowl of fruit before them.
"Oh that will do, Hammilton," said Narcissa. "Thank you."
"Thanks, Hammilton," said Ginny before popping another chocolate into her mouth. At that, the ghost servant bowed once and silently floated out of the room, leaving the two ladies to enjoy their dinner.
Just then Narcissa frowned. "Ginny dear?" she asked.
Ginny looked up. "Yes?"
"Do you," she stopped and glanced at the box of chocolates resting on top of Ginny’s lap, "do you think that you’ll be able to eat after— eating a bunch of those chocolates?" she continued unsurely.
"Yes," replied Ginny while placing the white table napkin on her lap. "Actually, I am so hungry that I could eat a horse." Then she stopped and turned at her mother-in-law wonderingly. "As a matter of fact, these couple of weeks, I always feel hungry," she said thoughtfully upon remembering the meal she had earlier. Five french toasts, three glasses of milk for breakfast, three slices of cake Draco bought for her and two enormous helpings of pasta for lunch. And now, two slices of the same cake, almost all of the Swiss chocolates Vlad gave her for Christmas and she still had enough room for a huge dinner! It didn’t quite occur to her that she could eat like— well, like her brothers.
"Well, that’s good," assured Narcissa while putting a bite of her mashed potatoes inside her mouth. "At least you don’t miss the three most important meals of the day."
Ginny frowned at the answer. She stared quite oddly at Narcissa first before taking a piece of her own mashed potatoes. Then she shook her head. "It’s just that I don’t usually eat like this," she said after swallowing her food. "I don’t want to get too fat," she added morosely.
"Oh honey, you’re not getting fat at all," said Narcissa comfortingly. Her metal-gray eyes roamed from her face to her body. "Look at you! All thin and— and slim. If there’s one thing that you should be doing now then that is to eat more!"
"But I don’t usually eat like this," repeated Ginny while quickly shoving food inside her mouth. "The weird thing about this is I eat whenever I feel like it!" she exclaimed in between chewing
This time, it was Narcissa’s turn to frown. "What’s weird about that?"
"I eat even though I’m not feeling hungry," cried Ginny while busily finishing her meat. Not long after that, Ginny’s plate was cleanly wiped out. She bit her lips and reached for her second helping. "You think I’m sick?" she asked while placing another hefty amount of mashed potatoes on her plate.
"No," answered Narcissa quickly. Then the older woman laughed softly as Ginny began eating, well, more like wolfing down, her food. "Kind of reminds me of Draco, really. That boy was an eater! He can take three toasts in a snap and he doesn’t ever get fat!"
At that, Ginny looked at her miserably. "Now I eat like Draco!" she cried. "And he doesn’t get fat!" She sighed dolefully, silently thinking about Draco’s perfect body without any ounce of excess fat on it. "It won’t be long now till I weigh 200 pounds!"
"Dear, you know that’s not what I had meant," said Narcissa a little sternly.
Ginny smiled listlessly. "Yes, I know," she said while watching Narcissa’s long elegant fingers enclosing on the delicate stem of the wine glass before them. She was about to say something when the other woman suddenly cleared her throat.
"I hope you do understand that Draco’s doing this for your own good too, locking you in here temporarily and everything," she said softly.
Ginny took a tiny sip of her wine before answering. "Of course, mother," she replied. "I completely understand the situation, you don’t have anything to worry about," she added.
"Oh, I just don’t like you thinking that Draco’s all insane like his father," she said nonchalantly. "I know how terrible it is to be cooped up in here with nothing better to do. Especially for you. You’re used to working, right?"
Ginny frowned at this. "Lucius actually locked you in here?" she asked instead. Just then she stopped. She smiled apologetically at Narcissa while scolding herself for saying a stupid and insensitive thing like that.
Narcissa stared at her for a moment. "Most of the time, yes," she finally replied, her eyes having that faraway look on them as if searching a distant memory. "Though I couldn’t see the reason why he would do such a thing. He wouldn’t even tell me." Then she smiled softly at Ginny’s eager expression. "Then just last November, while I was going through his study, I found several of my letters. He— he didn’t give them to me when he was still alive."
"Who sent you the letters?" Ginny asked curiously. "Lucius was terribly insane."
At this, Narcissa’s face beamed as a bittersweet smile grazed her lovely face. "They’re from someone I used to— date when I was still going at Hogwarts," she replied. "He was younger than me, two years actually, but there was something about him that made me disregard the fact that he was two years my junior. Unlike his friends, he was quiet, intelligent, had a great sense of humor. A perfect gentleman. Well, although he would sometimes get into trouble together with his friends," she paused and took a sip of her wine. "But he would always disappear, oftentimes at night rumor has it. It was that time when I’ve heard that he had taught at Hogwarts that Lucius went ballistic and suddenly locked me in here. Oh, I heard that he became Draco’s professor, actually. I think it was Defense against the Dark Arts or something." The she shrugged. "I suppose Lucius became insanely jealous when he tried reaching me by sending me letters."
"So he didn’t give up on you," concluded Ginny. Seeing the hopeless longing in her eyes, Ginny didn’t have the heart to even ask for the man’s name. Instead, she just sat there and waited for Narcissa to go on with her story.
The other woman nodded slowly. "Yes, I could say that although most of his letters contained explanations about his disappearance and everything that happened to him," she replied softly. "After all, my engagement to Lucius was featured in every wizarding newspaper and magazine. He couldn’t have missed it." She let out a sad sigh. "It’s just that he suddenly disappeared after graduation and my family made me marry Lucius. When he came back to teach at Hogwarts, everything was just too late. I would’ve answered his letters if it weren’t for Lucius. I think that’s why my husband locked me in here. I would have even run away with him, taking little Draco with me, if he had asked me to."
"I couldn’t blame you,"Ginny thought sadly as she felt her heart melting for Narcissa. "I’m sorry about that," she said softly after hearing her sad tale.
Narcissa smiled. "It doesn’t matter anyway. It was a long time ago," she said as she brought her fork and knife against her meat and concentrated on her dinner, a signal to end the discussion.
Then they continued their meal in silence. It took Ginny another helping of mashed potatoes before Narcissa declared that she had already finished her one and only meal. They were having dessert, some fruits and a pleasant conversation about how wonderful the garden was going to be this coming spring when Hammilton suddenly breezed inside the room.
"I’m sorry to interrupt Madam," it began looking at Narcissa. "But you’ve got a message from your seamstress, Edwina, saying it is urgent."
Narcissa’s eyes widened. "Oh it must be about the new gown." She turned to Ginny. "We can’t decide whether to have it in blue or black or silver," she added while placing the table napkin on top of the tray.
"Then have it in silver or blue," said Ginny while popping a grape in her mouth. "You have dozens of gown in black already."
"You see, that’s the problem," replied Narcissa. "We’ve purchased the cloth in black already and I’m not sure if that’s a changeable color cloth, you know, where you can change the color even after it’s all made and everything."
"Oh," was all Ginny could think of saying. She popped another grape in her mouth while her hand was busy forking another piece of her blueberry pie.
"Hammilton, which fireplace?" Narcissa asked mildly.
"In your chambers madam," replied Hammilton unemotionally. Then it’s transparent head riveted towards Ginny whom was busy enjoying her dessert. "Is the young Mistress all finished with her dinner?"
Ginny looked up at Hammilton’s awaiting expression. "Oh, yes please," she said. "But please do leave the fruits behind."
"Very well young Mistress," said Hammilton while he carefully placed the plates and the left-over dinner on the tray, specifically leaving the basket of fruits for Ginny’s personal enjoyment.
"I’ll see you later," said Narcissa before turning around and walking away from her with Hammilton floating close behind her. Once alone, Ginny let out another sigh and gazed out the window. Then to her absolute surprise, she saw another snow-white owl tapping the glass with her beak. Frowning, she stood up and opened the window. Immediately, the owl came down swooping across the room, dropping a single letter on the table in front of her.
"So quick?" she asked herself wonderingly while taking the neatly rolled parchment. Usually it would take Vladimir three or four days to answer her letter. Her eyebrows wrinkling with curiosity, she carefully untied the ribbon holding the letter into place and slowly unrolled it to reveal a short message.
I understand everything now, Ginny. Can’t believe it took me till New Year's to find out everything. Meet me at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade at 8 in the evening. You'll be safe with me.
I'll be waiting.
Ginny's hand trembled after reading the short letter. Her heart hammered loudly against her chest, her hand dropping the note. It landed against the sturdy wooden desk without a sound, like a feather being slowly tossed about by a soft breeze. She bit her lip nervously while staring at the parchment before her. Did Harry suddenly learn her little secret? Did he find out their charade? Did he suddenly discover that this marriage was all- was all a money-making masquerade? Should she meet him? Just then, she felt the owl landing on her shoulder. It began nipping at her ear, no doubt, demanding for sweets. After handing it some of her chocolates, the owl gave a satisfied woo and sailed out of the window.
"What should I do?" she found herself asking while her hands busily closed the windows once again. "Should I tell Draco about this? And speaking of Draco, I wonder where he could be?" she found herself asking.
Wonderingly, she stood up and made for her vanity. She had finally come to the sudden decision to ignore Harry’s letter, not tell Draco about it and not to see him. After all, she was a full grown adult already. She must take care of something as trifling as this by herself and not add it to Draco’s amounting worries.
She sat down and opened one of her drawers to reveal the black velvet box of her necklace sitting quietly inside. She put Harry’s letter inside first before deftly flipping the top cover open to see the ruby red eyes of the serpent staring back at her. For some unknown reason, she carefully took the necklace out of its hiding place and draped it around her neck.
Just then, she felt a jolt inside her chest. She closed her eyes as another set of furious hammering thudded from within her. Then she saw vague images of Draco… walking away from— She quickly opened her eyes, yanked the necklace off her neck and gruffly threw it on the vanity table before her. She took quick, calming breaths while looking straight at the serpent’s eyes.
"What are you?" she whispered while looking at the aesthetic ornament before her. As its answer, the serpent stared at her silently. Swallowing hard, Ginny took the necklace and quickly placed it inside its own box. She shut the drawer noisily, her whole insides already numb with fright. First, she married a Malfoy, then someone wanted her dead and now a mysterious and creepy necklace that made her see her husband’s infidelity. What was next? She let out a soft snort. Probably it would — then she stopped abruptly and frowned. She just saw Draco leaving from the Zabini Estate! And at this time of night! Her eyes narrowed as unexplainable feelings of jealousy, anger, curiosity, confusion and pain crashed at her all at once. Thoughts about Blaise, Draco and soft fluffy pillows unwillingly whizzed inside her mind. Whether the serpent made her see him vaguely or not, whether it was on her side or not, he sure had a lot of explaining to do!
Then as if on cue, the door suddenly creaked open. Sensing his overpowering presence, Ginny immediately stood up and made her way towards the window. She stood before it, her back to the door, crossing her arms over her chest with silent animosity.
"Hello, my wife," Draco greeted heavily while his heavy booted feet came walking across their enormous chamber. He placed the folder containing the important deeds of the Zabini estate inside his desk drawer. When he heard the inaudible and cool ‘good evening’ of his wife instead of the warm ‘hi’ and the sweet kiss she used to give him, he frowned with confusion. Shutting the drawer noisily, he slowly made his way towards the dainty form of Ginny, who was currently standing before the window, gazing at nothing in particular.
"Did you have dinner yet?" he whispered while wrapping her waist in his arms and pulling her closer to him till her back was resting against his chest. Ginny didn’t move and resisted the urge to sigh when she felt his hand delicately brushing her hair aside and his lips deliciously settling against her neck. "You feel like eating with me?" continued Draco in between his kisses.
"What were you doing in Blaise’s house?" Ginny asked instead. Surprisingly, her voice was cold and dangerous.
Draco stopped abruptly upon hearing this. Ginny let out a smirk upon feeling his body turning rigid with surprise. "All right, Virginia," he began steadily. "What is this all about?"
As her reply, Ginny turned around to face him. Draco frowned upon seeing the cold, calculating look on his wife’s face. He raised his eyebrows in confusion. At this, Ginny’s eyes began to narrow sharply, her arms stubbornly across her chest.
"What were you doing in Blaise Zabini’s house?" Ginny repeated, her voice surprisingly soft but rich with fury. She tried her best to remain cool and passive even though her chest was already constricting with unexplained pain.
Draco let out a tired sigh. "I just closed the deal with Victor Zabini regarding grandfather’s purchase of their estate," he finally replied.
With the answer, Ginny nodded once as a sign of acceptance. "All right," she said while walking past him. "Good night," she added, making her way towards her ‘own’ chamber.
Seeing this, Draco immediately followed her departing form. Upon reaching her, he gently held her arm with his hand, stopping her. "What is the meaning of this, Virginia?" he asked calmly.
"Nothing," replied Ginny. Then giving him one of her twisted smiles, she turned around. "I must rest now."
But Draco didn’t let go. "Wait," he said. Ginny stopped and faced him once again. "You don’t believe me, do you?" he said.
"No, I believe you," lied Ginny. Then she smirked sarcastically. "I just don’t get, why, of all the lands that grandfather wanted you to—"
"You think I’m lying to you?" Draco asked, his voice already rasping. It surprisingly pained him to realize that Ginny still didn’t trust him. That Ginny still thought of him as the prat and insensitive Draco she had met eleven years ago. Did he just will himself to believe that she was actually seeing him at a different perspective? That she was actually seeing him deeper? Knowing him as ‘Draco’ and not as ‘Draco Malfoy,’ Lucius’ son? The tender nights, the lazy Sunday mornings, just about everything! Were they just a part of this make-believe game they were playing? But then, why did he even care in the first place? He could just shrug and walk away, right? Good riddance to her and to what she thought about him! But why couldn’t he make his legs move? "Good lord, this is so confusing," he thought. At that, anger and confusion filled him, fueling the pain even more.
"Think whatever you want to think. I’m going to bed," said Ginny while forcing herself to turn away. She didn’t miss the pain etched in his eyes and it brought another set of distress within her. She didn’t know what to think or believe anymore. All that she knew was he came from Blaise’s place. Knowing what kind of woman Blaise was and knowing what kind of man he was, there was just no saying about what could’ve happened between them and— she bit her lip to keep herself from crying.
"You crying over something as stupid and as shallow as this! And why are you even crying? It’s not like you’re in love with the guy, right? Or have feelings to even care what he did with other women!"she heard her brain scream. "Get a grip! Or better yet, get a life!"
"You’re right,"she said to herself. "It’s not like I have feelings for him. I must not cry. I must not give him the pleasure of seeing me cry. Lord knows just how many women cried over him and—," But why did she feel her chin trembling, her eyes suddenly moistening. She raised her chin defiantly and looked at him straight in the eye. "Good God, but why is this all confusing?" she thought. "I’m feeling tired. I want to rest," she forced herself to say.
"Then why don’t you rest here? In OUR chamber?" Draco asked with silent fury. Then he let out a soft snort. "You think you’re the only one who’s feeling all tired about this?" he rasped.
At that, Ginny yanked her arm forcefully from his grasp. "How dare you say that to me," she said fiercely. "You think I’m not getting tired myself, being cooped up in here? How would you feel if I lock you in here, all day, with nothing to do while I go out, frolicking with other men—"
"That’s right, Ginny!" Draco cried. "Go on and think of something that will make you more angry! Go on ahead and give yourself more problems!" Then he raked his fingers through his hair impatiently while turning away from her. He just couldn’t believe they were fighting over something as stupid as this! Did Ginny think that he would go and sneak around behind her back? If she only knew how badly he wanted her to even think of looking at other women or wanting someone other than her—"Then tell her what you feel, you moron!" his brain hissed.
"I, give myself more problems?" Ginny shouted incredelously. She took a couple of furious steps towards him. "Now I’m giving myself more problems!"
"Yes you are!" Draco answered back while furiously walking away from her, his endearing thoughts about her already forgotten because of her sudden outburst. "What do you want me to say then? That something happened between me and Blaise, huh? That we were sneaking behind your back while I’m keeping you locked in here for no apparent reason at all? That we had sex a while ago?" he yelled angrily. Then he shook his head tiredly. "I just can’t believe, after a very tiring day, I am coming home to a jealous and suspecting wife, who, for the love of god, could’ve chosen some other time to pick a fight about—"
"I know what kind of woman Blaise is!" Ginny yelled back. "Don’t you go and tell me that everything was nothing, that everything was pure business because I’m a woman too and I know exactly what she feels about you," she continued, her lips and hands furiously trembling with unknown rage.
"How did you even know that I came from the Zabini place?" Draco asked instead.
"That is not your concern," spat Ginny.
"Great! You don’t bloody hell trust me, that’s why you had me followed wherever—"
"Oh dream on!" Ginny cried with anger. "I wouldn’t even care if you suddenly decided to pay hell a visit!" The words slipped even before she could stop them.
"If you don’t care then why the hell are you so angry with me?" Draco found himself yelling again upon seeing the Ginny’s unrepentant smirk before him. Then he sneered while Ginny’s brain was busy thinking of something to say. "What if I tell you something did happen, huh? What are you going to do about it?" he said softly while making his way towards her.
Ginny pursed her lips, unable to say anything. She took deep calming breaths to suppress the tears fighting to get free. Draco suddenly gave her a leering smile. "Why don’t you ask me if I’m lying to you?" he snarled, his voice soft but dangerous. He walked towards her, getting closer. When Ginny still regarded him silently, he smiled bitterly. "No use, right? I mean, who would believe that I, Draco Malfoy, wouldn’t lie? What good asking would do? That’s what you and other people expect me to do, isn’t it? Lie?"
Ginny cast her eyes down as her reply. It was not only the confusion, it was also the fear that brought her so much pain. What if he was lying to her? What if he had done something with Blaise a while ago? What if he did have several women behind her back? If he was indeed lying, how on earth would she able to take it? She readily admitted that it would hurt like hell, though she didn’t know why, but for him to say everything to her face— "Why is he being so deliberately cruel?" she found herself asking. Was he enjoying seeing her like this? The thought brought another surge of fresh, burning grief inside her chest.
"Just say it. You want to hear my so-called infidelity to you, right? You want me to admit that I did something wrong to make you look good after our divorce," he stopped abruptly upon feeling something heavy dropping to his chest. He turned gruffly away from her. Then he took a deep breath and popped the question he had learned to hate. "Tell me, do you want to end this right now?"
Silence. Ginny shut her eyes momentarily. She should have known better than to hope that Draco already forgot about getting a divorce.
"Yes or no, Virginia?" Draco asked, his voice tight. He held his breath, expecting a dreadful answer. If Ginny should decide to end everything here, then how on earth would he cope up? He may be unsure of what he felt for her but he was so sure that he didn’t want her to leave, not now, not ever.
"Yes or no."
"I DON’T KNOW!" Ginny yelled, her arms already flailing wildly in the air. "I don’t know anymore! I don’t know what I feel anymore! I don’t know what to think anymore! I don’t know who to trust or who to believe anymore!" Then she turned away from him as the first drop of tears rolled down from her eyes. She swiped them angrily. "All I know is what kind of man you are and the almost insane things I think about whenever— whenever you’re not here with me! Whenever I see you with other women! I just don’t—" She quickly clamped her mouth shut, realizing the uncalled words that came tumbling out of her lips. She looked away, strongly wishing that she could eat those words back again.
At that, Draco walked towards her only to notice her eyes already brimming with unshed tears. And nothing pained him more than seeing her like this. "Then you don’t know anything about me, Virginia. You don’t know me at all," he said softly, his eyes not leaving hers in a tension-filled gaze.
"How can I, when you don’t even let me in?" Ginny said as another set of angry tears fell from her eyes, her voice almost a whisper. "Please don’t shut me out anymore, Draco."
Draco stared at her momentarily only to see the hopeful look engraved in her eyes. He wanted to take her in his arms and hold her, just hold her, till the anger and the pain went away. He wanted to kiss her tears away, so badly but— "How can I if I don’t even understand everything myself? I— I don’t know what I feel, Virginia," he blurted out, the words coming quickly out of his mouth before he could even stop them.
"Then you’re the one who’s been giving me and yourself a problem," replied Ginny, her voice heavy with grief. She looked at him and dared him to walk away from her. When she saw the slight smirk spreading across his lips, she looked away in order to hide the sad anguish in her eyes.
"But what about how you feel about me?"he thought, staring at her eyes. He wanted so badly to ask her about what she felt for him but was so afraid of what her answer might be. Instead, he found himself shrugging. "You’re probably right," said Draco while backing away from her slowly. Ginny looked at him longingly but she hardened her heart, her insides already filled with sadness upon feeling his strong and comforting warmth slowly departing from her. It took all her willpower not to run after him and stop him. "Thank you for pointing that out, Virginia. I’m probably the problem here, as always. There’s nothing surprising about it, really. After all, I AM Draco Malfoy, am I not?"
And with that, Draco hurriedly turned around and made his way out of their chamber. He slammed the door angrily and sailed down the stairs, his heavy boots making furious noises with his every step. He gruffly took his coat and carelessly slung it over his shoulders, too mad to even care if it looked all right or not. It didn’t matter anymore! He just had to get out of there!
"Don’t bother waiting up!" he yelled crossly while opening the door and stepping out. Instantly, the chilly winter breeze blew at him, making him shiver slightly. Tightening his coat about him, he was about to take a step towards the gate when he heard a shrill and angry but familiar voice not far away from where he was standing. He hurriedly walked towards the huge front lawn of the manor only to see Blaise Zabini busy arguing with their stable man.
"I need to see your Master right now!" Blaise shrieked while fighting her way past the huge build of their servant. "How many times do I have to tell you that I must speak to him at once!" She took out her wand and furiously aimed the tip at the servant. "Get out of my way before I hex you with something dreadful!"
"I’m sorry Madam but Master Draco specifically mentioned no guests, strictly family members only," the man answered still managing to sound all polite and formal amidst Blaise’s frenzied shouting.
"Since when? Don’t you know who I am?" she said shrilly, her hands landing on her hips, the wand forgotten. It became obvious to her that the stable guard wasn’t at all frightened. Well, she had no intention of casting anything anyway, afraid that the hex would backfire on her. After all, she was really terrible when it came to charms, enchantments and hexes. "I’m Blaise Zabini and I demand you to get out of my way at once!"
"That’s okay, William. I’ll take care of this."
The servant whirled around upon hearing his master’s voice. Upon seeing Draco slowly walking towards them, he heaved a grateful sigh that Draco would’ve found funny if not for his present and worsening predicament with Ginny. Blaise, on the other hand, ran straight to him. Draco let out a soft ‘oof’ as Blaise threw herself to him with abandon.
"Oh God, honey I miss you so!" she cried. Draco tried his best not to squirm away upon feeling her lips raining his face with kisses. Then she stopped abruptly and turned to William, eyeing him with much dislike, her arms not leaving Draco’s shoulders. At that moment, Draco really could say that Blaise has this extraordinary talent to ‘speak’ nasty with just a mere look of her eyes. "What have you to say for yourself, William?" she asked cruelly.
At that, Draco rolled his eyes. "What are you doing here?" he asked instead while waving a dismissing hand to his stable man. William, in turn, bowed gratefully and hurriedly left them alone.
"I need to talk to you," replied Blaise. "It’s very important."
Draco looked at her for a while. Then his gaze wandered momentarily at the window only to see a dainty silhouette peering at them, being illuminated by the faint orange light of the fire. His eyes went back to Blaise. "All right," he finally said. "Come on."
Blaise let out a tiny cry of surprise when Draco, without a word, pulled her quite gruffly with him, away from the manor grounds.
Ginny felt the torrent of tears falling from her eyes upon seeing Draco being eaten alive by a woman with dark black hair in a fitted blood red dress underneath the sexy cut of her black cloak. There was just no mistake that the woman was indeed Blaise Zabini. At that, another set of fat tears rolled down her cheeks when she saw Draco pulling the woman with him away from the manor. Then she stopped. Why was she even crying? At that, she angrily wiped her eyes dry.
"Where are they going?" she found herself asking while walking away from the window and settling herself before her vanity. The thought of Draco leaving with Blaise and the major fight they had made her mind numb as she opened her drawer without even knowing why. Then as if fate had really taken its toll, her eyes landed on the single piece of parchment sitting idly inside her vanity compartment. She picked it up, recognizing Harry’s near-to-readable handwriting. After a moment, she smiled.
"Fine, Draco," she said to herself as she stood up and made her way towards her closet. "We’ll have everything your way," she muttered while picking out a dress and a cloak. She hastily removed her nightgown and donned the dress and the pair of shoes she fished out from underneath her bed. Then taking her wand and her cloak with her, she hurriedly made her way outside of their chamber. "Who says you can’t fight fire with fire? If you’re going, I’m going!"
She silently crept her way towards the hall, then to the stairs, her hands busy fastening the cloak clasp against her throat. Then checking the front hall for servants, she quickly but silently ran towards the huge doors.
"God, I can’t believe I’m sneaking off like this in my own house!"she hissed to herself as she ran towards the chamber where the Malfoy’s kept all their broom collection. After several seconds of choosing and deciding, she finally resolved to have a good ol’ Firebolt for herself. Then quickly opening the enormous windows, Ginny mounted her broom and swiftly shot off into the cold dark sky, undoubtedly on her way to The Three Broomsticks.
"The Hog’s head?"
Blaise found herself frowning with obvious disgust upon clearly seeing the sign ‘Hog’s head’ hanging trivially just above their heads. She turned to Draco’s uninterested expression and immediately let go of his arm.
"The Hog’s head?" She turned to Draco as if he was nuts. She placed her hands on her hips haughtily. "What is this place?" she demanded, her sharp eyes going once again on the sign then landing on Draco’s face.
"Hog’s Head," said Draco while walking inside the less-friendly pub without even bothering to wait and open the door for her. Blaise let out an audible grumble of displeasure while following him inside. Once inside, her nose crinkled with disgust upon seeing wizard’s of all shapes and sizes, drinking noisily and obviously getting drunk. She looked past the other tables only to see the most rickety card table situated at the corner with four disgruntled and hopeless looking wizard’s playing, or better yet, arguing about a Muggle card game called Poker. She hastily followed Draco, zigzagging her way across the crowded tavern amidst the low and suggestive whistles of the men behind her.
"I know that this place is Hog’s Head," said Blaise with forced calmness as Draco nonchalantly took a seat just beside the backdoor, a little away from the bar. Blaise took the chair opposite from him. Then she smiled and decided to change her tactics. "But what are we doing here, Draco?" she continued, her voice becoming so syrupy that Draco, for the fist time in his life, felt sick. He looked away as Blaise crossed her arms over her chest while pouting sexily. She was fully aware that every man’s eyes were on her and she projected her chest outwards even more.
"Pick out some drinks first," answered Draco as he busily called the attention of the bartender. He knew that he was the envy of every man inside the pub. He could even get into a fight or worse, a wizard’s duel! But as of now, he didn’t care. He wouldn’t even give her the pleasure of seeing two men fighting over her. That’s what she wanted. And besides, he wasn’t that insane to even fight for her. When the old wizard nodded, Draco shouted out his preferred drink. He turned to Blaise and smiled leeringly. "Do you want one too?" he asked.
"Draco, if you wanted to have drink then why don’t we get out of here and go to a wonderful hotel somewhere in Diagon Alley?" she purred, her hand settling possessively on his arm. "This is not the place where you bring ladies of my standing, you know."
Draco’s eyes momentarily landed on her well-manicured fingers. Then he looked at her, his eyes narrowing dangerously. "I’m not really in the mood for a bunch of rich and stuck-up company for tonight," he said as the bartender settled a whole bottle of Old Ogden’s Firewhiskey and two glasses before them.
"Who told you that we’d be having some company?" Blaise drawled on softly. She let her fingers slither across his arm, caressing him. "After a drink maybe we could do something— ‘interesting’ together," she added suggestively. Then she shook her head while rolling her eyes exasperatedly. "Heaven knows what kind of ‘handling’ your so-called wife’s been giving your insatiable needs."
Draco tried his best not to grit his teeth as he pulled his arm away from her creeping fingers. "Thank you for the generous offer but I assure you my sex life is not your concern," he answered frankly while pouring the drink in his glass and finishing it with one gulp. After his second glass, he turned to Blaise who was already scowling at him angrily. "What was the important thing you want to tell me anyway?" he asked after gulping the potent stuff down, quite pleased to see how he was starting to piss Blaise off.
"All right, Draco, I will forget what you said earlier since you’re not yourself as of now," she started as one of her perfectly shaped brow raised up a notch. Draco just shrugged and took his fourth drink. Blaise took a deep, calming breath. "I’ve just learned that my father sold the estate and we’re moving away to Ireland."
"I know. My grandfather bought it. I was the one who closed the deal," Draco cut in gruffly.
"What!" shrieked Blaise. "Why didn’t you even inform me that you were in my house earlier?" she demanded. Draco gave her the sharp what-do-you-care look, shutting the tantrums building inside her. Instead, she took another deep breath. When Draco still chose to remain silent, she gave an outcry of aggravation "Hello! We’re going away! We’re leaving Britain!"
"So?" replied Draco bleakly. He took another shot of his whiskey and eyed her unemotionally.
"So?" cried Blaise angrily. "Is that all you have to say? So?" she said shrilly, earning them the curious glances of the drunken customers around them.
"I don’t see why your moving away has something to do with me," said Draco truthfully.
"You might want to ask me to stay with you!" she answered back. "Ask me to marry you maybe?" she added haughtily.
At that, Draco looked at her if she was insane. "Are you out of your mind?" he cried out. "And what good would that do to us, huh?"
"If we get married, then you can get the estate and all our properties without buying it since you, of course, will be the new head of the family," answered Blaise. "With 61 million Galleons to your name plus the whole Zabini assets, it won’t be that bad," she added shrewdly.
Upon hearing that, Draco shook his head disgusted amusement. "Is that all you care about, Blaise?" he asked, his voice with soft annoyance. "Money?"
"Don’t give me that, Draco?" she said as they eyed each other with mutual irritation. "You have to admit that this arrangement does not only take care of your interests but also mine as well," she added arrogantly.
"Oh, too bad I’m currently married to Ginny," he said with sarcasm. He held up his right hand to show him the ring glistening around his finger. When Blaise regarded him silently, he smirked and finished his fifth glass. "And besides, I don’t think your father won’t like me as his son-in-law. Not after the things I told him earlier," he supplied without even considering that he was actually talking to Blaise Zabini, the ‘daughter’.
"Not for long," she said, her eyes glistening with malice. " And besides, I couldn’t care less what my father wants. I just want you. Thank God for divorce," she said snootily.
"Oh Blaise, I’m sure you’d make me a fine wife indeed," he said with rancor. At that, a cold smile grazed the woman’s lips. Draco let out a nasty chuckle, his head already feeling light because of the alcohol. "Still the same ol’ bratty and spoiled woman I used to know. Surely I deserve someone like you. We’d be very happy," he continued without even thinking. He looked at her and was surprised to see her pretty face becoming all blurry.
"How dare you say that me!" Blaise suddenly exploded, unmindful of the stares the people around them gave her. "How dare you say that to me now that I’m giving you a chance to get yourself out of that— that mess!"
"And what if I don’t want you to bail me out of this mess!" Draco answered back. He was about to take another one of his booze when Blaise suddenly snatched the glass of whiskey from his hands. "Give that back, bitch!" he yelled at her.
At that, Blaise threw the contents of the glass at him. Fortunately the stinging liquid didn’t reach his eyes as it spilled mostly on his shirt. Draco swore out loud as he quickly wiped his face and shirt with his handkerchief. It took all his willpower not to wipe out the nasty smirk grazing the woman’s face with his hands. After all, no matter how bitchy these kind of women could get, it was actually not in his nature to hit girls.
"Hand it over now!" he repeated, this time fiercely. Blaise just smiled and eyed him spitefully. Seeing that the woman had no intention of returning him his glass, he hastily took the bottle and drank from it.
"You are drunk and oblivious of what you’re doing or—"
"Do you still have an ounce of brains left inside your pretty, little head Blaise?" he asked. Then he smiled tauntingly. "You want to get married then?" he asked while slamming the bottle of whiskey loudly on the table. "Fine, I’ll ask you then. I don’t care whatever happens anymore! You want me to kneel before you?"
"Draco Edward Malfoy, you will stop this immediately," she said with forced calmness, her eyes blazing with fury.
"Why should I? Isn’t this what you wanted?" he asked scornfully. Just then, much to his surprise, Blaise let out a soft but mirthless laugh. He looked at her with confusion and frowned. "What is so amusing?" he said gruffly, obviously not pleased at being laughed at.
"Don’t you see, Draco?" she began while smiling with a nasty sort of glee. "You’ve just shown me why we’re meant for each other. We’re two of a kind. That’s why I chose you from all the men I went out with. We’re practically the same, inside and out."
"That’s not entirely true, Blaise," replied Draco, smirking.
"Oh yeah?" she said. "What’s not true about it? Come on, Draco, tell me," she challenged. When Draco found no real answer to this, Blaise laughed at him with cruel gaiety. When he still didn’t say anything, she let out a gasp of mock surprise. "Oh my! Whatever’s happening to the world right now!" she began delicately. "Draco Malfoy lost for words! Draco Malfoy having nothing nasty or sarcastic to say!" Then she smiled at him, a snake-like smile that didn’t reach her feline eyes. "What’s the matter, Draco? The Weasley twit softening you up?"
At the mention of Ginny’s name, Draco’s eyes narrowed dangerously. "You leave her out of this, Blaise," he warned, his voice threatening.
"Why should I?" Then her face turned serious. "I hate her, Draco. You know why?" She stopped and waited for Draco to say something. When nothing came out his lips, she let out an affected smile. "Because she’s in the way of getting what I want," she added simply.
"Once again, you leave her out of this."
"And what if I don’t, Draco?"
At that, Draco stood up abruptly, his cold gray eyes shining with indescribable fury that made Blaise speechless. "This conversation is over, Blaise," he said, his voice loud and clear. "I am sick and tired of putting up with your silly antics! This—everything about us is all over!"
"Oh don’t fuck with me, Draco!" spat Blaise back. "Don’t tell me you’re in love with the little weasel?"
Silence. The sudden statement making him stop abruptly. Blaise said the L-word, he thought. Unwillingly, he found himself thinking of Ginny…
"…I may not understand the pain you’ve felt before, Draco. But I do know one thing. You’re not a bad or— or an evil person just because of that and-- and nobody hated you for that…"
Blaise smiled wickedly upon noting the affected look on Draco’s face, fully aware that she had hit a sensitive spot. "You don’t know how to love, Draco. Just like me. People like us don’t love. That’s why we’re made for each other, don’t you see?"
"…I’ve always thought I hated you but then I realized that I actually don’t. To be honest, it was only your voice I heard clearly amidst the frantic shouting and yelling a while ago. It was you, just you and at that moment I really felt like I had to see you, you know…"
"Why don’t you say something, Draco?" Blaise said provokingly. "What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?"
"…How can I when you don’t even let me in? Please don’t shut me out anymore, Draco…"
Just then, he felt his heart gave a sudden jolt. Then an indescribable warmness spread inside his chest. It was a warmness he never felt before! It felt wonderful and terrifying! He felt like he was falling fast but also flying at the same time. He shook his head slowly, a smile slowly grazing his lips as different and new kinds of emotion swept up inside him, not only in his heart but his body and mind as well. Now finally he understood everything! He had done the most amazing, the most extraordinary thing in his life! Why the hell did it take him so long to figure everything out? With that, Draco laughed hard. So hard that his stomach began aching.
"What is this all about?" Blaise asked upon hearing Draco’s laugh. It was a completely different laugh. It was a laugh that showed her genuine pleasure. A— happy laugh? Her face scrunched with repulsion. "I demand you stop laughing at once and tell me what this is all about!" she cried.
Draco finally forced himself to stop. He turned to Blaise, choking and chortling at the same time. "Damn! I can’t believe it took me you, of all people, to figure everything out!" he answered. "I finally know now what to do." Then without another word, he hurriedly made his way towards the tavern’s exit, leaving Blaise staring after him with confusion, disbelief and anger at the same time.
He had only one thing on his mind right now and that was to get to Ginny.
Harry looked up from his glass of butterbeer only to see the unsure look Ginny gave him. Immediately, a smile lit up his face. "Ginny!" he exclaimed while standing up. "You came."
Ginny let out a weak smile as she sauntered towards his table. She plopped herself on the seat across from him while Harry sat down once again. Finally feeling all settled, she turned to him and rested her chin against her hand, eyeing the wall behind him gloomily. It was really surprising for her not to feel the usual uplifting affection she used to feel every time her eyes would land on his face. For the first time in her life, she didn’t feel anything at all. She didn’t even know why she had come there.
"You’ve been crying," said Harry instead, noting her eyes all red and puffy. "Why?"
"No, I wasn’t crying," she said quickly. She turned away from his scrutinizing gaze. "I just don’t feel good," she added. Well, it was partly true, after all. After the major fight she had with Draco, seeing him leave the manor with another woman, feeling suddenly all dizzy and faint and leaving the safety of the manor, completely disregarding the fact that someone was out to kill her, she really didn’t feel good.
"You want something then?" Harry asked quickly, noticing how pale she was. He quickly took up the menu that was lying before him on the table. "You want something to eat or something warm to drink?"
"No, no," Ginny murmured, the sudden thought of eating making her a little sick. In fact, after all the food bingeing she did earlier, she now found herself having the sudden urge to throw up. "I’m fine, Harry. Just a little tired, I guess."
"You’re not feeling sick, are you?" he asked solicitously, his deep green eyes sparkling with obvious concern. Ginny, for the first time in her life, wished that Harry would just drop everything.
"A little, I guess," she answered while forcing out a smile. "Must be with the weather. I’m a not winter person, you know," she added. When Harry nodded, she then immediately cleared her throat and looked at him expectantly.
"I can’t believe you didn’t tell me everything, Gin," Harry began softly. There was slight anger in his voice mixed with disbelief. When she felt his eyes boring through her, she looked away and sighed.
"All right, since when?" she asked flatly.
"Just two days ago," replied Harry. "But I suspected everything was strange after the engagement party," he added.
"How strange?" Ginny asked without even asking, her thoughts too preoccupied thinking about Draco and Blaise having the time of their lives in some lush, luxurious and posh hotel somewhere in Diagon Alley. At that, a slight pang of pain sliced within her as she tried her best not to break down and cry in front of Harry.
Harry frowned at the question. "You surely won’t expect me to buy that I’m-in-love-with-Draco Malfoy thing, do you?" he asked.
At the mention of his name, Ginny looked up and focused her attention back to Harry. "Even I don’t buy that shit," she murmured sorrowfully. So did she just imagine the look of tenderness in his eyes whenever she would give him a light kiss on his cheek for no apparent reason at all? Did she just imagine the extraordinary gentleness that he would give her everytime they were making love? How about the little things that they would always talk about? Had everything been just a dream? A tiny dream amidst the horrible masquerade they were playing?
"You could’ve told me everything, Gin," said Harry while pushing his glasses into place. "That way we could’ve done something than have you marry that prat, Malfoy!" he cried out angrily. Then he looked away from her. "I just can’t believe that snake had—"
"What is it to you, Harry?" Ginny suddenly asked, her eyes blankly looking at him. "This is my own problem and I surely wouldn’t want you and the others to be involved in my own mess."
At this, Harry gave her a look of disbelief. "We already are involved, Ginny!" he cried out in exasperation. "I’m already involved! Anything that has something to do with you, I want to be involved in it!"
"I just had a problem and I dealt it in my own way," she answered back. "How hard is it to understand, Harry?"
"Well, you could’ve still said something about the problem to me," said Harry bitterly. "You know I’d always be willing to help you out!"
With that, a sudden laugh escaped Ginny’s lips. Harry’s eyes widened upon hearing the soft bubbling mirth coming out of her lips. "Yeah, right Harry! Go on and keep telling yourself that," she said amidst her chortling. "You’re just a human being, you know. A human being gifted with magic, that’s all. Even if You’re the Boy Who Lived, there are just some things you can’t do!"
"You’re wrong," said Harry, his voice already hardening. "I’m willing to do everything for you! I would help you out if you just gave me the chance."
"I already did give you the chance, Harry," said Ginny softly. "In fact, not just you. Ron and Hermione and almost everybody." Then she cast her eyes down. "You’re just too busy to pay me much attention."
"Now, don’t you go and say that everything’s my fault," said Harry caustically.
"You see now why I didn’t tell you everything?" she asked, looking straight at his eyes. "It’s because you wouldn’t understand."
"Well, you could’ve at least tried," said Harry with mild sarcasm.
"And what would "trying" do for me with this kind of situation?" she asked. "For goodness sake Harry, everything wasn’t at all about me. Everything was about all the people who were depending on me. The children, Selena—" Then she stopped as another whoosh of dizziness swept past her, she momentarily shut her eyes while taking deep, calming breaths.
"What is happening to you, Ginny? Are you feeling all right?" Harry asked, the embittered expression on his face completely replaced with that of concern. Without thinking, he took her hand with his, his face hardening. "Did Draco do something to you? Did he make you drink something?" he asked, his voice getting angrier by the second, the thought of Draco practicing his dark craft on Ginny sending his blood boiling with rage.
With that, Ginny frowned and forcefully took her hand away form his. "Just what was it about Draco that makes you and Ron and the rest of the guys think Dark Magic and everything horrible?" she spat angrily.
"Ginny, he’s Draco Malfoy," replied Harry. He shook his head with disbelief. "I can’t believe I’m having this trivial conversation about his evil ways with you. You, of all people, should know how cruel and nasty he is! Ginny, did you forget what he did to you and your brother? To Hermione?"
"You don’t know him, Harry," said Ginny heavily. Surprisingly, anger rose up within her upon hearing him saying something horrible about Draco. "You don’t have a single, bloody idea about him!"
"I DO know him, Ginny!" Harry cried out. "He was the one who would always spat your financial difficulties to you and your brother’s face. He was also the one who called your sister-in-law Mudblood! He— he was also the one who would always pull nasty pranks on you! Humiliating you in front of his friends and fellow Slytherins! His father was in league with the Dark Lord and—"
"Harry, stop it! This is getting ridiculously childish!"
"I don’t give a damn!" Harry burst out. "If that is what it takes for me to win you back then I won’t give a rat’s ass about being immature!"
"He was a miserable git to you and your family, Ginny!"
"Stop it, please!"
"You want to know how miserable I think he is?" Harry rasped on, ignoring her. "He was so miserable that even his fellow Slytherins hated him. Not just because of the last Quidditch game they lost because of him but because everything was bloody despicable and wretched about him!" Then he smirked at her knowingly. "Don’t you think I don’t know about what happened that last Quidditch match five years ago, Ginny. That particular match that started everything."
Ginny stared at him with surprise at the mention of the Quidditch game that got her into this mess in the first place. She looked at Harry, her expression unreadable. She swallowed hard. "Then go on and tell everybody what you’ve found out," she said challengingly.
"Wizard’s debt, Ginny?" he asked softly. Then he smiled without humor. "I just can’t believe it took me so long to figure everything out! I remember I saw you falling off your broom and Draco catching you and somehow--"
"Wizard’s debt,"she thought as the memories of the game came wheezing past her mind, Harry’s voice already fading into nothingness. She looked up and couldn’t see anything but the scene five years ago, the way his hands tightened about her, his gray eyes softening, the first time his lips touched hers…
"To marry him… Was that what he asked in return?"
Her heart gave a sudden loud jolt, realizations hitting her. Then an indescribable feeling spread inside her chest. It was a different feeling! Warmth, and pain, longing and yearning washing over her simultaneously! It was pleasant and scary at the same time and she never felt this with anybody before! It was simply overwhelming! At that, she turned to Harry, her face lighting up with a thankful smile. Now, she understood everything.
"You’re right, Harry," she said while standing up. "You’re absolutely right," she added while she hastily zigzagged her way across the tables and chairs inside the café. Harry immediately stood up and followed her till they were out the door, the snow falling around them. He called her name and Ginny stopped.
"What do you mean, Ginny?" he asked while she took hold of her broom.
"You went after the Snitch," replied Ginny as she mounted her broom, "while Draco went after ME." With that last statement, she gave Harry one last smile and sped into the night, determined to get to Draco.
Harry, upon seeing the radiant smile that grazed her face, knew at that moment that he had lost her forever.
"Draco?" Ginny called out the minute she set foot inside the front hall. She ran towards their chamber, her chest bursting out with so much love that it hurt. She wanted to tell him everything! Whether, he was feeling the same way or not, she didn’t care anymore! All that mattered was to see him, to feel him against her, to tell him how much she loved him.
She then hastily threw the doors of their chamber open. "Draco? Are you home yet?" she called out while going quickly inside. When nobody answered back, she frowned and sat sadly on their bed.
"Where could he be?" she found herself asking, completely disregarding the fact that he was actually out with his Blaise. With this newfound feeling, she couldn’t find herself thinking of something bad or dreadful about him. Then she remembered the visions a while ago. She smiled and sprang up from the bed.
"The necklace!" she exclaimed as she bounded over to her vanity. The necklace would tell her where Draco might be. She hastily opened her vanity drawer but what she saw made her gasp in surprise.
There was no velvet box!
At that, Ginny felt her nerves twisting. She could’ve sworn she put the necklace back in there! She immediately opened the rest of her drawers, fear coursing through her veins. "I couldn’t have lost it!" Ginny cried out while desperately opening and rummaging her drawers.
When no velvet box appeared, she then quickly went towards their closets, the thought of what Draco might say about the missing heirloom making her nervous even more. When no box still appeared, Ginny gave up on the closet and settled for Draco’s own desk. She frantically opened all of his drawers messily only to be rewarded with nothing but papers and parchments.
She was about to give up the search and mope about when she felt something peculiar tugging her attentions back towards Draco's desk. She looked down only to notice a tiny lock on the left side of the table. It was so small that you wouldn’t have noticed it was there unless you took a closer look. Frowning, she knelt down. Running her hands along the wooden panel of the tiny drawer, she pulled. It was locked. She tried again, but it still wouldn’t budge. Shaking her head, too curious to even think about Draco’s privacy, she pulled out her wand and tapped it once against the tiny lock.
Instantly, her wand lit up and tiny, white sparks shot up from its tip. Ginny bit her lip and slowly pulled the drawer. To her delight, it smoothly eased out. Peering inside, she saw the box of the necklace. She heaved a sigh as relief immediately washed over her. She was about to take the box out of the drawer when a tiny bottle suddenly caught her eyes. Frowning with curiosity, she took the tiny bottle out of the secret compartment and held it before her, against the light.
She recognized the bottle.
Instantly, tears filled her eyes. Disbelief and pain mixed with desperate denial flooded inside her.
"But what’s there to deny?"she asked herself.
Everything was very clear.
Staring back at her, its dark-stained glass casting a dim sheer of light across her face, was a whole bottle of Xiphias Potion.