Loose Ends by LadyRhiyana
Past Featured StorySummary: Masterless, loyal to nothing and no one, Draco still has one tie that he cannot abandon - his marriage in name only to Ginny Weasley.
Categories: Long and Completed Characters: Arthur Weasley, Blaise Zabini (boy), Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley
Compliant with: OotP and below
Era: Post-Hogwarts
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 9 Completed: Yes Word count: 12864 Read: 49219 Published: Feb 02, 2005 Updated: Jun 27, 2005
Trust by LadyRhiyana
Disclaimer - I don't own anything. Don't sue.




Chapter 3 – Trust




The first thing that he had ever noticed about Ginny Weasley – on that day, so many years ago, when she had first come to Hogwarts – was the depth and strength of her loyalties. From her love for her brothers, her lingering infatuation with Harry Potter, her fierce defence of her friends – her loyalty, once given, was absolute, and very often it had been given in a cause that had opposed or at least disapproved of his.


They had been natural opposites in almost every way – in birth, station, loyalty, personalities and beliefs – and yet…


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She slept like a child, with complete and utter assurance, the deep, unselfconscious slumber of a woman who has never had to wake quickly to face peril and death. To a man who had never possessed such basic innocence, it was fascinating – to the man who watched over her now, it was evidence of unconscious reliance and trust in his ability to protect her…


His wife.


He wondered if it should have hit him, in some way – whether it should have profoundly affected him, inspired a protective instinct or stirred a previously unknown possessiveness. Searching within himself, he found nothing but a distant sense of responsibility – the acknowledgement that, having rescued and married her, he still had to get her home safely and in one piece, before he could go his own way and let her go hers.


Still, he did wonder that she trusted him so readily in sleep, when her waking eyes were so wary and defensive.



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And now here they were, face to face once more, when he had never thought to see her again. She did not appear to be too discomposed – but he suspected that she had become adept at hiding her true thoughts in the years since Moscow. As with everything else in this world, the protection of the Malfoy name came with a price.


They had both known it, but there had been no viable alternative at the time…


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“Well, my friend,” Petrov said expansively, his burly form belying the sharp cunning in his small eyes. “Is it done?”


Draco, who had been hired for five hundred thousand American dollars – they had no such archaic notions as separate economies – to assassinate Petrov’s closest business rival, had inclined his head. That one murder would put the big, burly criminal at the head of the Russian Mafia – at least, if and until Russian Wizarding Intelligence used Draco’s painstakingly gathered evidence to bring him down.


The government being so disorganized even sixteen years after the Soviet Union collapsed, Draco was cynical enough to think it a mere possibility, not a certainty. Consequently, he was very careful not to give any hint of his true part in this matter – if this investigation came to nothing, it was best not to be discovered.


His reputation was shady enough to make Petrov extremely cautious as it was (in fact, he could not remember anyone ever trusting him completely) and so he did not want to give the man any more reason to suspect him.


“It is done,” he said simply, and then handed Petrov a yellow envelope. The Russian opened it, glanced over the photographs it contained – depicting the corpse of Katerina Tolstoya, a muggle bullet ruining her once-pretty forehead – and grunted approvingly.


“Good. Excellent, Mr. Malfoy; you are just as good as your reputation says.” He smiled, displaying strong white teeth and an unexpected charm. “Worth every penny of your fee. But there is something else, something extra – a genuine prize that fell unexpectedly into my lap. Come, and I will show you…”


And he led the way into the grim, depressing prison that he ruled as his personal fief, past dank, dim cells and ragged, wraithlike inmates with empty, hopeless eyes, towards a locked room that resonated with outraged shouts and screams, and curses in – of all things – English.


Draco suddenly had a terrible feeling of what awaited him on the other side of the door.


“Much as I am honoured, Petrov, I do not need you to play procurer for me…”


“Of course not,” the Russian protested, “I know your reputation with women. But this is something special. You will appreciate it immensely, I am sure.”


And he opened the door, revealing an outraged blur of red hair that Draco had no difficulty recognizing as the youngest Weasley – for all that he had not set foot in Britain in years, there was no mistaking that hair. And, disastrously, she had no difficulty in recognizing him.


“Malfoy!” she shouted as she tried once more to elude her chains. “Get me the hell out of here!”


Evidently, he was the lesser of two evils.



**********************************************


Blaise Zabini had been the closest thing Draco had ever had to a companion – an equal – as a boy. It eased something inside to know that such a piece of his past still remained in England even now – and not only remained, but thrived, and actively prospered. Even despite the reactionary anti-Slytherin bias in governmental circles, Blaise had turned focused his considerable talents on building a brilliant career in the Ministry –


Courtiers, diplomats, statesmen – once, they had been predominantly Slytherins, these brilliant, educated, articulate men who had once steered the course of England’s destiny. And now the modern face of the government was anonymous, bureaucratic, and tediously respectable, with no scope for flamboyance, extravagance, and individuality. Draco wondered how Blaise could have sufficiently submerged his personality to fit the mould – but he must have, to have been accepted by the Weasleys of this world and their ilk.


Whatever his new official persona may be, the Blaise who had greeted him on his return had been very close to the friend he had known in his youth – cool, sardonic, and extremely perceptive, with a wicked sense of humour.


So perhaps he shouldn’t have been surprised to see his estranged wife among the gathering in Blaise Zabini’s drawing room after all. But…


She had changed. Not just the superficial differences of clothing and appearance, but she had also grown in confidence and composure as well. She was a year or so younger than he, and on the night of their marriage she had been much younger in spirit – but now, it seemed, she had learned more of life than reckless Gryffindoric courage and determination. There were more wearing, less tangible pitfalls in this life than Death Eaters – and it seemed as if she knew it, now.


Somehow, he knew she no longer slept with such innocent trust.


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