When Ginny is compelled to do her duty for the Order she gets much more than she ever bargained for.
Categories: Works in Progress Characters:
Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Harry Potter, Other Characters, Ron Weasley
HBP and belowEra:
Future AU, Post-HogwartsGenres:
May 28, 2007 Updated:
Aug 26, 2007
Something very different than I normally write... *wibbles*
1. Valleys of Green and Grey 01 by Rainpuddle
2. Valleys of Green and Grey 02 by Rainpuddle
3. Valleys of Green and Grey 03 by Rainpuddle
4. Valleys of Green and Grey 04 by Rainpuddle
Valleys of Green and Grey 01 by Rainpuddle
Title: Valleys of Green and Grey
Name: rainpuddle13 (rainpuddle13 at gmail dot com)
Web: littleyellowduck @ yahoo groups & rainpuddle13 (dot) livejournal (dot) com
Characters/Ships: Draco/Ginny, Harry, Ron, Remus
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Notes: Set after the events of HBP, but in no way shape or form is it canon compliant. I'm just ignoring the fact that DH was ever published.
Summary: When Ginny is compelled to do her duty for the Order she gets much more than she ever bargained for.
Valleys of Green and Grey
“Ginny, wake up,” Ron said from somewhere above her.
“Goaway,” she mumbled, pulling the warm blanket up over her shoulder and burrowing down into the softness of her feather bed. “Too cold.”
“Wake up,” he insisted, resorting to pulling the covers off of her and turning on the witch light. “Hurry up.” He shoved her threadbare pink robe at her before leaving to wait for her in the narrow upstairs hallway.
She crawled out of bed, sitting on the side a few moments before attempting to find her slippers. Her body protesting each move she made in the predawn cold that had settled over the cottage she called home. The lazy black and white cat she shared her bed with most nights watched her sleepily before deciding not to bother getting up.
“So who did you bring me this time?” she asked as she joined her brother. It wasn’t all that unusual for him to arrive unannounced with a sick or injured Order member to leave in her care.
“You’ll see,” was all he said.
Ginny followed him down the stairs, trying desperately not to let her fears get the best of her. “It’s not Charlie, is it?”
“No,” he said wearily.
“Then who is it?”
“Ginny,” Remus said softly, standing up as she entered the low-lit kitchen. He didn’t stray far from the figure hunched over on the worn table.
“Gin,” Harry said in a low, husky voice. She stiffened automatically as he pulled her into a quick embrace. Things between them had never recovered from the ruins of their brief relationship, and it didn’t help that it seemed to her Harry was trying to win her back.
“Harry, Remus, is everything all right?” Her eyes strayed to the bundle of filthy, torn robes, trying to figure out who they’d brought to her this time to mend. Ron took up position behind Remus, wand at the ready.
“We flushed out a nest of Death Eaters in Bedfordshire,” Harry started to explain while she groaned inwardly, not really wanting to hear him rehash war stories at three in the morning. “A right nasty bunch.”
“Bellatrix Lestrange was there, that bitch,” Ron added bitterly. Ginny knew exactly how he felt because he wasn’t the only one who’d experienced the business end of that witch’s wand – she was still recovering from the lingering effects of her own encounter.
“What were they doing?” she asked although she had a fair idea already.
“They were getting their jollies with a spot of torture,” Remus supplied. She paled at the thought.
Harry came up behind her, sliding a protective arm around her waist, his fingers finding their way into the curls of her waist length hair. “It was bad.”
“How bad?” She slipped out from under Harry’s attempt at protection. She was no damsel-in-distress, and it annoyed her when he treated her as such.
“Two dead when we got there,” Ron said disgustedly, “and this one’s half dead.”
“Who is it?” Ginny asked; dread knotting in the pit of her stomach. If they weren’t telling her anything upfront, it had to be bad, very bad.
Her brother reached down and roughly snatched the tattered cloak from the nearly dead wizard. Filthy, unkempt white-blond hair spilled across the dark wood of the table.
“Malfoy,” she whispered in disbelief, taking a step back and running straight into Harry.
No one had seen Draco Malfoy since that horrible night on the tower when Dumbledore had been murdered and he had run off with Professor Snape. The exact details of what had occurred were a bit sketchy, and Harry wasn’t forthcoming with what he knew.
Remus prodded Malfoy to sit up a bit, and with a groan, he did, revealing a bruised and battered face. He never opened his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Ginny,” Harry said softly, using the opportunity to gather her in his arms. “I wouldn’t ask if this wasn’t so important.”
“Get him out of my house,” she cried.
“I can’t,” Harry said firmly.
“Get him out, now!”
“Ginny,” Remus said soothingly, “we can’t risk taking him to St. Mungo’s.”
“I don’t care where you take him, just get him out of my house!” she shouted. Harry tightened his grip around her waist.
“He’ll die if we take him anywhere else.”
“He deserves to die for what he did!”
“I don’t disagree, but he’s too valuable to let that happen just yet,” Harry stated firmly.
“Gin, I don’t like this any more than you, but hear Harry out,” Ron said wearily, pinning with a pleading look.
“I won’t take care of him. I won’t!”
“You have to. He’s no good to us in this state.”
“You should have left him to die,” she said bitterly.
“No one deserves to die that way, Ginny,” Remus interjected in an obvious attempt to be the voice of reason, “not even young Malfoy here.”
“And just what I am I supposed to do with him?” she asked tartly, extricating herself from her ex-boyfriend’s grip so she could put as much distance between Malfoy and herself as her small kitchen would allow.
“Get him healthy enough that he can be questioned by the Order.”
For the first time in a long time, Ginny pouted because it was obvious she was not going to get her way in this matter. Deep down she knew Malfoy was important – he knew details about Death Eaters that could prove useful to the Order, but she’d be damned if she’d be happy about it.
“Fine, I’ll do it,” she grumbled. “Take him up to the spare room, and be sure to burn that cloak. It’s disgusting.”
“That’s my girl. I knew I could count on you,” Harry said with a twinge of triumph in his voice.
Ginny returned his half-smile with a dark look. “Don’t think I’ve done this for you.”
He grabbed her arm to prevent her from ascending the stairs after Remus and Ron carried the unconscious Malfoy upstairs.
“I know, you’re just doing your duty to the Order,” he supplied for her.
“And I don’t like harboring the enemy either.”
“Believe me, I hate doing this to you, especially with Malfoy, but there is nowhere else we could stash him safely until he’s recovered enough to be of any help to us. I know how much you hate his family, especially after what his father did to you.”
“Don’t presume things you know nothing about,” she said tersely as she pulled her arm free.
“Gin,” he pleaded softly, “please don’t be this way.”
“Be what way, Harry?”
“This way! So bitter and angry towards me.”
“You just don’t get it, Harry. You never did, and you probably never will.” She hurried up the stairs before he could question her further about what she meant. Ginny had once thought that Harry Potter was cute and brave, but now she thought he was mostly just dense.
Malfoy was laid out haphazardly on one of the two narrow beds in the second bedroom when she arrived, sans his cloak per her request. His remaining clothing wasn’t in much better shape, unfortunately.
Ron was pacing like he always did when he was antsy and uncomfortable. “I don’t like this,” he was saying to Remus when she made her presence known.
“Neither do I,” she assured him, “but it seems I have little choice in the matter.”
Her brother turned to look at her, guilt written all over his face at getting caught. Good old, dependable Ron, one always knew exactly what he was thinking or feeling because he was completely incapable of keeping his emotions from showing on his face. She gave him a soft, reassuring smile. It was good to know that despite the all the craziness in the world, some things never changed.
“Ginny, I didn’t…” Ron started, turning beet red.
“I know. It’s all right.”
Remus was examining the small glass front cabinet where she stored all of her medicinal potion while her brother paced and fretted. “Do you think you have all you need?”
“I’ll manage.” She stepped aside before Harry could use the opportunity to brush against her when entering the room. “What I want to know is what I’m supposed to do when they come for him.”
“They won’t,” Harry said confidently.
Ginny had to refrain from rolling her eyes. “And just how can you be so sure?”
“Fidelius Charm, same as you, and you’ll be his Secret-Keeper.”
“That is asking an awful lot of me,” she said. “What if he tries to repay my kindness with killing me? Where’s his wand?”
“Snapped,” Ron supplied. “We watched his aunt taunt him with it before she smashed it.”
She shuddered involuntarily. A wizard or witch’s wand was an extension of that person, and to have that link broken in such a way was quite painful.
“What if I still don’t want to do this?” Ginny asked. Malfoy without his wand could be just as dangerous she knew well. After all, he’d had an intensive lesson in the Dark Arts with his Death Eater aunt the summer between fifth and sixth year. There was no telling what tricks he might have up his sleeve.
Harry came to stand in the doorway, effectively blocking any means of escape. “You will do it because it’s for the good of the greater cause.”
It was in moments like this, when Harry started speaking of the cause and honor and duty and the rest of that rot, that she honestly thought she could hate him if she tried. She was tired of the ‘cause’, tired of being hidden away, and most of all, tired of not being able to get on with her life as she saw fit. Just give her half a chance and she’d take care of Voldemort herself.
“Fine,” she sighed in defeat.
Remus performed the extremely complex spell that was the Fidelius Charm since he had had previous experience. Ginny accepted her duty as Secret-Keeper without complaint while Ron managed to keep his mouth shut. She knew how hard all of this must be for him, having to leave his worst enemy in the care of his baby sister went against every fiber of his being.
She saw them out afterwards, just as the sun peeked over the horizon, and Ron had eaten his fill of fruit pies. Harry kissed her cheek, quietly thanking her and giving her an even more quiet promise that he would make this all up to her after the war. It was all she could do not to pull from his awkward embrace. Remus kissed her hand in a gallant showing. Ginny lingered in Ron’s hug, while wishing things could be different. She didn’t get to see him nearly often enough these days, and she found she missed him desperately, even more so than when he left for his first year at Hogwarts.
“Well, Malfoy,” she said softly after returning to the second bedroom, “it looks like it’s just me and you. I promise not to kill you, but if you try anything stupid, I will hex your naughty bits off.”
She gathered the potions she thought she might need from the cabinet, along with bandages, and replenishing bowl of warm water and a soft cloth before setting to work. She removed his clothing, deeming them ruined beyond repair, before turning her attention to his tattered undergarments. They were going to have to go as well much to her disgust. The last thing she wanted to see was Malfoy’s bits.
It took her a little over an hour to examine and clean him, healing the small wounds and bruises with her wand, and applying potions and bandages to ones beyond her medicinal skills. Ginny couldn’t help but marvel at what once had to have been gorgeous porcelain skin marbled with a delicate matrix of blue veins. His chest was heavily bruised from spell after cruel spell the Death Eaters had delighted in hurling his way. Ginny didn’t have to imagine the look of sheer delight on the face of his aunt as she cast a Cruciatus because she saw it all too often in her nightmares.
“Oh, Malfoy,” she exclaimed softly as she finally caught sight of the mess that was the inside of his left forearm. The Dark Mark that had once marred his perfect skin was no longer visible; instead terrible gashes where it looked like someone had tried to cut it out and when that failed, tried burning it off. The whole area was swollen and angry red with infection. “What did they do to you?”
Draco groaned a little as she tenderly ran her fingers over the ruined flesh, muttering healing spell after healing spell to no avail. Ginny quietly shushed him as she cleaned the area thoroughly, and afterwards applied a thick yellow cream to the infected area and covered it with a good length of bandage. Once he was cleaned to her satisfaction, she put him in an old pair of Ron’s pyjama trousers and added an extra blanket to the bed. She sat with him until her eyelids grew too heavy ignore, and went to bed hoping that her charge would still be alive when she woke.
It was a long two days before Malfoy showed any signs improvement. His wounds were healing nicely, even his arm which looked far less infected than it had even though he was still running a bit of a fever. Ginny was quite pleased with her work, but she was still a bit worried that Harry and Ron had gotten to him too late. The wizard lying before her was painfully thin; his ribs were clearly predominate beneath his nearly translucent skin. He probably hadn’t had a decent meal in weeks, months most likely. He was terribly weak and fighting a nasty infection. She’d been giving a bit of clear broth along with a dose of fever reducing potion every four hours.
She was telling him her day so far, cooking a warm treacle tart and cleaning downstairs, late on the third day when his eyes finally popped open. He was disoriented and confused a moment before the instinct for self-preservation kicked in and he tried desperately to scramble away from her. The narrow bed and the wall didn’t allow for him to go very far.
“It’s all right,” she said as soothingly as she could under the circumstance. “I won’t hurt you. Now stop that before you reinjure yourself.”
“Who?” he croaked, his voice rusty with disuse. His eyes wildly searched the room. “Who? Where?”
“I’m Ginny Weasley,” she said, feeling a little thrill at the look of terror that clouded his features. “Don’t worry; I’m not going to hurt you. The Order has you under their protection.”
“That’s right. If you don’t remember me, you might remember my Bat-Bogey Hex?”
He closed his eyes and turned his face away from her, but body relaxed a bit.
“You’ve been quite ill,” she nattered on. “I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to wake up.”
“Hungry,” was his only response.
“Are you hungry?” He turned back to her, looking utterly defeated. “Of course you are. I’ll get you some broth and maybe some fresh bread.”
“Is that chicken I smell?”
“Yes, that is my supper. You’re not up to solid food quite yet.”
“I don’t care. I’m starving.”
“Your stomach will care and will revolt on you, and I don’t feel like cleaning that sort of mess up this evening.”
Ginny left him before he worked himself up to a snit. He didn’t need to expend energy on something as useless as an argument when he needed to put all his effort into recovery so he could get out of her house; and the sooner the better. It was too dangerous for him to be there.
“Why?” he asked her after he’d emptied his bowl of beef broth under her watchful gaze.
“Why what?” She handed a small slice of fresh bread with just a touch of honey butter as a reward.
“Why are you caring for me? I’d figure you’d rather see me dead,” he said without any pretense.
“I’d left you to die a horrible death if it’d been up to me,” Ginny said, suddenly feeling tired, “but I didn’t get a choice in the matter.”
“Why don’t you tell me how you really feel, Weasley,” Draco said dryly.
“You don’t want to know what I really think, believe me,” she grumbled. It was all she could do to not call him a murderer to his face for what he’d done to Dumbledore.
“Then why am I here?”
“You were just dropped on my doorstep. I was charged with getting you well enough to be questioned by the Order.”
“I don’t think I’ll be of much use to them.”
“That isn’t for me to decide.” She removed his tray, charming away any crumbs that might litter his bedding.
Ginny could feel his gaze following her as she went about checking his bandages and changing them as necessary, although he turned away as she tended his arm. Despite her best efforts, he was going to carry around a very nasty scar for the rest of his life, however long that might be. She finished her nightly routine by placing a pitcher of water charmed to remain cool on the nightstand along with a glass.
“There’s a loo is just across the hallway, but I don’t advise you to try to get out of bed on your own just yet,” she said from the doorway. “You’re as weak as a kitten so if you need to get up, you’ll have to call me.”
“Fabulous,” he muttered.
“Oh, and, Malfoy,” she said, turning back to face him, “don’t even think about doing anything stupid.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Good, because I don’t trust you as far as I can hex you,” she informed him tartly.
To be continued...
Valleys of Green and Grey 02 by Rainpuddle
The days melded into weeks as Draco continued his convalescence under her watchful care. He was slowly regaining his strength, and had taken to eating his meals at the small table set before the single window in his room. Ginny even occasionally allowed him to take short walks in the garden on days when the weather permitted. They traded sharp barbs whenever they were in each other’s presence, with Draco once making the mistake of calling her a shrew and she had retaliated in kind by casting her famous Bat-Bogey hex on him.
Secretly, Ginny looked forward to their sparring matches each day; it gave her a sense of normalcy, and more often than not, made her long for the company of her family again. If Malfoy was good for one thing, it was helping her keep her wits sharp for future battles with Fred and George, once she could return home. Her attitude towards Draco had softened a great deal since his arrival, but she’d be damned if she’d let him know that. He might try to get one up on her, and she’d be having none of that. If there was one thing she’d learned in her short lifetime, it was once you’d lost the upper hand, you were doomed.
The sound of Apparation startled her out of her thoughts early one cold and grey morning as she was absentmindedly washing the breakfast dishes while watching Draco play with Sammy the cat in the garden. She’d just been thinking that he cleaned up nicely after he’d finally acquiesced and allowed her to give him a haircut the previous evening. She was no hairstylist, but anything was better than the long, stringy mess he’d been sporting.
“Gin,” Harry said softly as entered the kitchen from the small hallway that led to the front room.
“Harry,” she replied, abandoning her dishes and wiping her hands on the dishtowel that hung on the nearby rack. She was disappointed to find only her ex-boyfriend standing there. “Where’s Ron?”
“He stayed behind to take care of some other business, but he’ll be along tomorrow morning,” he explained as he took a seat at her table. “Have any tea or coffee?”
“Oh.” She couldn't help the bitter stab of disappointment she felt at not being able to see her brother. He’d been her only true link to her family since she’d been holed up in the little cottage, and she looked forward to seeing him whenever she could.
“He sends his love and promises he’ll bring you chocolates tomorrow to make up for not coming this morning.”
Ginny set a steaming cup of tea in front Harry along with a plate of biscuits and fruit pies. “How are things?”
“Same as they ever were, unfortunately.”
“Found anymore Horcruxes?”
“No, but Hermione believes she’s identified the areas where they’ve been most likely hidden.”
“Yes, yes, always good to know where to look.”
They fell into an awkward silence as Harry drank his tea and gazed at her thoughtfully. Ginny hated moments like this, the disconnection she felt from everything that was going on. Then the waiting for the always awkward attempt to gather her in his arms or the chaste kisses very nearly drove her insane. It used to not be this way between them, but Harry had to go and be a dunderhead and ruin things with his feeble attempts at gallantry. Now she dreaded what words he would say following these silences.
“How things here, Gin?” he asked just before she bolted from the table, unable to take the quiet any longer. “Be honest, has Malfoy been a right pain in the arse?”
“Things are all right,” she replied honestly. “He’s quiet and stays in his room mostly.”
“He hasn’t been bothering you, now has he?” Harry gave her what she could only assume was meant to be a significant look, but in reality only made him look constipated.
“No, he’s hardly any trouble at all really.”
He looked surprised by her words, and a fair bit disappointed in her opinion. “That’s good, I suppose.”
“He leaves you alone?”
“For most part, yes. He’s only a true pain in the arse when he’s hungry; always wanting more than his stomach can handle at the moment.”
“You trust him enough to leave him alone outside?” he asked. “He could be out there plotting against you, or god forbid, fashioning a weapon to kill you with.”
“Yes, he’s still recovering and too weak to go far. Besides, he hasn’t any place else to go,” she answered, feeling as if she was on the witness stand before the Wizengamot. “His aunt was trying to kill him and the Order wants to throw him in Azkaban.”
“I suppose you’re right,” he said sourly.
That was another thing she could add to the list of things she disliked about Harry: he was complete rubbish at hiding his emotions.
“Besides, I think he likes it here,” she said, knowing that she was pushing Harry’s buttons and secretly enjoying it. “He doesn’t have to fear for his life, he has someplace warm to sleep at night, and three hot meals a day.”
“That may be all well and good, but it’s about to come to an end. I’m taking him in for questioning tomorrow morning, and then I will be personally escorting him to Azkaban where a nice, cold cell is awaiting him.”
“You can’t wait to do that can you, toss him in a cell in Azkaban and throw away the key?”
Harry laughed dryly. “No less than he deserves, and weren’t you the one who wanted to see him dead a few weeks ago? So what’s changed, Ginny?”
“Nothing,” she answered, looking away quickly so he couldn’t see the guilt in her eyes. The truth was things had changed since Malfoy had been under her care. Her anger had mellowed into pity for his situation. Draco was truly a wizard with no country. The Death Eaters would kill him on sight, and what the Order wanted to do to him was no better. His life was over.
Harry gave her a rare unreadable look before standing abruptly and putting a sack on the table. “I’ll be here to collect him at seven. Be sure he’s ready.”
He was gone before she could answer, Disapparating with a distinctive pop. Ginny was opening the sack to see what was in it when Draco came in through the garden door, stopping to remove his dirty shoes in the mudroom.
“Did you have a lovely reunion with Potter?” Draco groused as he took a seat at the table, the same one Harry had just recently occupied.
“Of course not,” she answered without thinking, distracted by the contents of the sack. It was men’s clothing, and from the look of it, the items were previously owned by one of the twins.
“What no chocolate and roses?”
She tried to give him a stern look, but found she couldn’t muster one. “No.”
“I guess what they say is true: romance is dead!”
“Awwah, the five second shag wasn’t satisfying enough was it? You look like the type that likes a real go at things.”
“I said shut up!”
“Struck a nerve there, did I?”
She glowered at him, sorely tempted to reach for her wand, but her better judgment tempered her ire. He was only doing it to get a rise out of her, and she wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction.
“Oi, was it that bad?” he asked mockingly.
“If you must know, Harry brought some clothing for you to wear tomorrow when he hauls you before the Order for questioning,” she informed him, tossing the sack at him, and immediately felt guilty for just springing it on him without any warning.
“Oh,” was all he said as he leaned back in his chair, staring at the clothing that had spilled out of the sack.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been so blunt.”
“It’s okay. I knew this day would come.” He pushed back from the table and stood up. “If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll retire to my room.”
“Why don’t you try on the clothes to see if anything needs to be taken in,” she suggested quickly before he could leave the room, her heart racing at the thought of being so tantalizingly close to him.
Draco gave her an unreadable look before taking the sack of clothing and leaving the room. He returned a few minutes later practically swimming in a deep red plaid collared shirt and hitching up a pair of khaki trousers.
Ginny stifled a snicker. “Oh dear.”
He merely sneered at her.
“Oh, don’t be like that,” she admonished him. “It’s not that bad!”
“So you say.” The trousers hung precariously low on his hips as his attention was being spent on the too long sleeves of the shirt.
“Let me what I can do,” she offered, pulling out her wand.
He signed heavily and stood with his arms out. “Well, you can’t make it any worse.”
After fifteen minutes of tailoring charms, Draco stood before her in clothing that did not suit his personality at all. It wasn’t the best job she’d ever done; however, under the circumstances it was the best she could manage. He was still painfully thin, but at least he was no longer in danger of losing his trousers every time he moved. Ginny stared thoughtfully at the deep red plaid cotton shirt he had on, wondering if she should attempt to change the color to something that would compliment his pale features a little better.
“You should work for Madam Malkin,” he said, breaking the silence that ensued once she’d begun her work.
“I said you should go to work for Madam Malkin. Your tailoring charms are better than the whole lot of witches she has working for her. Where did you learn to do them?”
“I learnt them from my mother,” she said, feeling a bit embarrassed over why she was so good with the charms. It never bothered her before, but then she never had to explain it to someone like Malfoy. Everyone simply understood without having to say. “When all you had were hand-me-downs and secondhand robes, you learned to make do.” Her life goals did not include being a seamstress witch for Madam Malkin no matter what he thought. “Besides I’m rubbish at color changing charms.”
“I’m sorry,” he said uncomfortably, his cheeks tinged pinked. “I didn’t realize…”
“It’s all right. That is just how life is. I plan on someone else fitting my robes for me in the future.”
Her charge fell silent again as she continued to fuss with a few small details. She figured he clammed up because he didn’t know what else to say without sticking his foot in his mouth. As she put the finishing touches on the cuffs of the trousers, she couldn’t help but notice his futile glances at the stove where her chicken and ham pie was baking and a pot of small new potatoes boiled on the stovetop.
“Why don’t you put your other clothes on, and I’ll make sure these are clean and pressed for in the morning,” she directed.
Draco wandered off to do as he told, draping the shirt and trousers over the back of a chair at the table when he was finished. He stood there for several minutes watching her, looking like he desperately wanted to say something. He started up the stairs when she pulled her pie out of the oven, only to stop halfway up.
“Weasley?” he asked.
“Yeah, Malfoy?” she answered, making her way to the bottom step.
“For the tailoring charms? No problem. You’re welcome.”
“No,” he said slowly, not turning around, “for everything.”
“Oh,” she whispered.
“Potter’ll throw me in Azkaban as soon as he’s done with me, so I won’t be seeing you again. I know it couldn’t have been easy for you, so that makes me appreciate you not letting me die even more. You didn’t have to do that. So thank you.”
She stared at his back, warring with her emotions. It was true. She had been tempted early on to just let the infection kill him. It would have been so easy too, and no one would have been none-the-wiser about it either since he was in such bad shape when he was brought to her. But she couldn’t, because she wasn’t that kind of witch. Instead, her anger and displeasure had somehow evolved into pity over the course of his stay.
“Draco,” she called out awkwardly as he reached the landing. “Why don’t you join me for dinner? I have a chicken and ham pie. It’s way more than I can eat, and I’m not keen on leftovers.”
He turned around and looked more hopeful than she’d seen him look the entire time he’d been at the cottage.
“Are you sure?”
“I wouldn’t have asked if I wasn’t,” she answered, retreating into the kitchen to set the table for two.
It could have been Voldemort himself with his feet under her table, and Ginny wouldn’t have cared as long as the dinner conversation was polite. It had been so long since she’d shared a meal with someone that she was beginning to wonder if her cooking was suspect. Ron and Harry had joined her occasionally, but those visits were becoming fewer and farther between.
Malfoy, however, seemed to have little trouble with her cooking, and she had to remind him to slow down and not eat so much, lest his stomach revolt on him. He protested, but heeded her warnings even though it was obvious he would have loved to have polished off the entire pie. She wondered if all boys had bottomless pits for stomachs.
After the dinner dishes were done, they retired to the small, but comfortable front sitting room for coffee and chocolate tarts. The conversation started to flow after a few awkward starts and continued well into the night, falling into the easy and safe rhythm of music, literature, and Quidditch.
Ginny was surprised at just how much they had in common, despite their vastly different backgrounds. They shared the same tastes in bands and reading, and they both rooted for the same Quidditch teams when their favorite wasn’t playing. She relished the look of surprise on his face when she informed him that her favorite team was not the Cannons, but was in fact the Falcons, and she just kept quiet about it to avoid trouble with her brothers while secretly enjoying the slaughter of the hapless Cannons every time the two teams played.
“You truly are wicked,” he informed her after her giddy confession. “I really admire that in a witch.”
“Thank you,” she giggled, surprised at how easily he made her laugh. “I do so try.”
He leaned back on the sofa, stretching a bit before giving her his best half-smile, and it made her stomach flutter. She shifted a little to move closer to him, and smiled back at him. Her pulse quickened as the moment lingered on, and the desire to kiss again him grew stronger with each passing second.
“Draco,” she said in barely a whisper. “I…”
“Shhhh,” he whispered back, slowly closing the distance between them.
She stared back into the mercurial depths of his dark grey eyes, mesmerized by what she saw. If she looked deep enough, she thought she could see into his soul. It caught her by surprise; having such an intimate connection with someone else. Harry was very on the surface, what you saw was what you got, and that was very boring. This was way better, in her humble opinion.
The clock on the mantle chiming the midnight hour caused them both to jump, breaking the spell that had come over them. Ginny turned away, her cheeks burning, embarrassed that she’d very nearly had gotten caught up in something that could only have dire consequences.
“I should probably head up,” he said tightly, standing and making a show of looking out the window into the dark.
“Early morning and all that.”
“Yeah, I’ll just put these dishes in the sink, and I think I’ll hit the sack myself,” she said, quickly extricating herself from the sofa and gathering up the dishes. “Goodnight.”
“Yeah, goodnight.” He darted up the steps without glancing back.
She stood at the sink, washing the dessert dishes and fighting the urge to cry while cursing the day Draco Malfoy had come into her life and then had to go and be so fucking perfect. He supposed to be nasty and mean and cruel and evil and everything he really wasn’t, not deep down anyway. It was all a front airs he put on to keep people away, a means to protect himself.
Draco was actually someone she could see herself spending more time with and actually enjoying it. Ginny was almost afraid to think it, but he was almost boyfriend material.
“Ginny,” he whispered huskily from behind her. A sharp thrill ran through her at his use of her proper name.
“Draco,” she gasped as he closed the space between them quickly.
He pressed a tender kiss to her cheek, hesitating a few seconds before pulling away. “Thank you for everything.”
Before she could respond he had disappeared into the darkness of the stairs once more. Ginny didn’t know how long she’d sat at the kitchen table with tears streaming down her cheeks as she struggled to come to terms with her feelings. It wasn’t until Juno jumped up on the table, purring and rubbing against her, breaking her reverie, that she finally shuffled off to bed.
More to come…
Valleys of Green and Grey 03 by Rainpuddle
She lay awake a long time, listening to the iron bed in the spare room squeak occasionally as Draco tossed and turned. It felt like she’d just drifted off to sleep when the enchanted alarm clock told her it was time to rise for the day. She donned her pink bathrobe before stopping at Draco’s door to tell him it was time and heading downstairs to fix breakfast. It had begun to rain sometime in the middle of the night.
She placed a plate of eggs, bacon and toast in front of him almost as soon as he sat down, and she joined him after pouring two cups of steaming hot tea. Her heart pounded at just the sight of him, while crazy thoughts of helping him escape his fate flitted through her mind.
Not that she would ever act on the impulse to help him escape. He was far better off in the custody of the Order; at least then he wouldn’t end up dead. No, he’d only be locked away forever in Azkaban, which she’d been assured by her brothers was a fate worse than death, especially for anyone as young as Draco. Ginny felt so bad for him and the situation he was in, and she had to keep reminding herself that all of it was of his own making.
“You should eat, you’ll need your strength,” she urged, watching him push the food around his plate as she stirred three lumps of sugar and a generous splash of milk into her tea.
“I’m not particularly hungry,” Draco finally said, looking up at her.
“At least try, please.”
“Why aren’t you eating?”
Ginny took a sip of her tea while wishing she’d brushed her hair and maybe gotten dressed. For some reason she was starting to feel a bit self-conscious sitting there in a pair of Ron’s castoff plaid flannel pyjama trousers, a t-shirt and her bathrobe. “I don’t like to eat so early in the morning.”
“Me either,” he said with a ghost of a smile.
“I prefer to wait until I’m fully awake so I can savor breakfast. It’s my favorite meal of the day.”
“I’m particularly fond of French toast after a nice lazy lie-in on a Sunday morning.”
“That sounds absolutely divine.”
“I like it with strawberries,” he continued, “and clotted cream.”
“I’m more of a traditionalist. I like eggs, bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes-”
“Oh, I like that too, normally.” He shoved a bit of egg around on his plate. “But… I’m finding it a bit difficult to eat this morning.”
“I can imagine,” she said softly.
“Which is sad considering this will be probably be my last decent meal ever,” he said, voice breaking ever so slightly.
“Don’t say that,” she said earnestly, reaching across the table to place her small hand over his much larger one, giving it a gentle squeeze of reassurance. “You don’t know what the Order will do.”
“Yes, I do,” he said tiredly, suddenly looking far older than his nineteen years. “After all the things I’ve done, I should be lucky they don’t give me the Dementor’s Kiss.”
Ginny didn’t know what to say to that. Despite her current circumstances, she did live in the real world. She knew how things worked. It worried her that Harry wouldn’t listen to reason when it came to Draco. No matter what he said, and he would insist upon the worst punishment the Order would allow simply because he couldn’t let go of a boyhood grudge. She got up to pour herself another cup of tea before she could burst into tears.
“Why are you here?” he asked suddenly, breaking the awkward silence. “I’ve wondered since I got here – why would they hide away a witch as talented with hexes are you are?”
“It was my mum,” she answered, turning around to lean back against the counter and smiling at the compliment. It was nice to be recognized for her talents. “She insisted after I was nearly killed in an ambush by a Death Eater.”
“Do you know who it was?”
“I do now.” She involuntarily shuddered at the memory.
“I was gathering plants for potions in Bracknell Forest-”
“They let you go by yourself?”
“I needed some knotgrass, and I knew where a patch was growing. It was supposed to be a quick trip.”
“And they let you go by yourself?” he asked again angrily.
“I only needed a handful. I was going to go grab it and be right back…”
“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” he muttered, shaking his head.
“Then what happened?”
“I stumbled across a group of Death Eaters.”
“What were they doing?”
“I don’t know. Performing a ritual or something,” she answered, feeling slightly irritated at the interrogation. She hated to talk about what had happened; she had just gotten to where she could sleep the entire night without a nightmare.
"Then what happened?”
“I hid myself in some thick underbrush and watched. I was so intent on trying to figure out what they were doing I didn’t hear someone come up behind me until it was too late.” She paused, taking a deep breath as a feeling of panic crept up her spine. Even after all these months and all the precautions her family had taken to assure her safety, she still felt decidedly vulnerable to another attack. “I was hit with a Cruciatus curse before I knew what was happening.”
“I’m so sorry,” he said softly. “It must have been awful to be caught unawares like that.”
A single tear slid down her cheek as the memory of excruciating pain she’d suffered that night came flooding back - her heart pounding so hard it very nearly burst; the crushing pain in her chest that rendered her unable to breathe; and the complete inability to focus on anything but the pain.
“Ron,” she croaked through the tears. “Ron, he-he…stepped…took the curses. Nev got me out.”
“It’s all right,” Draco said soothingly, taking her in his arms and nuzzling his face in her unruly hair.
So caught up in her fears, she didn’t notice that he’d abandoned his breakfast to comfort her until he was there in front of her. Without a moment’s hesitation, she wrapped her arms around his waist, burying her face in his chest and drawing on his quiet strength.
After several long minutes, he pulled away just far enough to look into her eyes. “It was Bellatrix Lestrange, wasn’t it?”
She swallowed hard at the mention of her worst nightmare by name, and suddenly found herself unable to breathe.
“That’s what I thought,” he said disgustedly, holding her tighter and tangling his fingers in her hair. “My aunt delights in other’s pain. She tortured me over and over again the summer after fifth year; said I needed to know how it felt before I could learn to cast the curse correctly. Some rot about needing to appreciate the pain before I could revel in the power.”
“She-she’s your aunt?” Ginny stuttered, her brain trying to wrap itself around what he’d just confessed. She’d known Bellatrix Lestrange was his aunt since she’d seen the Black Family tapestry while she was at Grimmauld Place, but knowing that bit of information intellectually was vastly different than hearing the reality that she willingly tortured her own nephew.
“I no longer claim her as family,” Draco spat. “Trying to kill me was the last straw.”
“Draco,” she started, then faltered for a few moments trying to find the right words. She was at a complete loss. “I just don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything. She’s a crazy bitch who’ll meet a nasty end very soon.”
“I hope so,” Ginny whispered, feeling a bit guilty for wishing such thoughts.
Draco’s arms tightened around her. “You don’t have to worry about her as long as you’re here. Your family has gone to great lengths to protect you and they’ve done a very good job. You’re safe.”
“And what about you?”
“I hardly think she’ll be breaking into Azkaban just to get at me.”
“You don’t know that for sure!”
He smirked at her. “I think someone might actually care about what happens to my sorry hide.”
“Whatever gave you that impression?” she asked haughtily, pushing him away a bit so she could escape the confines of his arms. If she’d stayed in his embrace much longer she might have done something she’d regret later.
“This,” was all he said before he grabbed her arm and twisting it behind her back, effectively pinning her to his chest.
“Let go of me this instant!” she demanded, while half-heartedly struggling to break free of his grip.
“No,” he whispered, using his free hand to tip her chin back so he could claim her lips in a tender kiss.
Ginny sighed, opening her mouth to his gentle assault and relaxed against him, snaking her arms around his neck as soon as he freed her from his grip. Her mind attempted to inform her that kissing Draco Malfoy was not a very good idea, but her heart was having none of it. There was just something about him that drove her to absolute distraction – it was neither love nor hate, but something somewhere in between.
By the time he pulled away, she was seated on the countertop, thighs spread wide to accommodate him and panting heavily in anticipation of what might come next. He pressed his forehead to hers until his breathing calmed.
“I’m sorry,” he said weakly, fingering a fold of pink flannel. “I shouldn’t have taken advantage of you.”
He grinned, and she thought for a second that he looked like the Draco of the old - wickedly handsome and too charming for his own good - and it make her stomach do flip-flops.
“You have the most amazing brown eyes, so dark and soulful. I can just lose myself in them.”
“Oh, Draco,” she snickered, “no need for the charm.”
“Yes, really. Now less talking, more snogging.”
“Maybe this isn’t such a good idea,” he said quietly.
Ginny threw caution to the wind and pulled him back into her arms. “Probably not, so just shut up and kiss me.”
He kissed her again, as if his very life depended on it. She threw herself into the moment, returning his kiss with equal fervor, all the while trying to forget that he was about to vanish from her life forever. It’d been so long since she last felt so alive, so desired. Since, well, before she’d come to live at the little cottage hidden away in the Forest of Bowland just outside of Slaidburn nearly eight months ago while recovering from the effects of repeated Cruciatus curses. Ginny hadn’t realized just how lonely she really was until Draco came into her life.
“Hey,” she cried when he suddenly broke away, pulling her off the counter to her feet in one fluid motion. He nodded towards the mudroom just as the door opened before taking his leave to sit at the table again. She’d been too caught up in the moment to listen out for the sound of Apparation.
“Ginny,” Remus said with a hint of warning in his voice. He was standing in the little archway between the kitchen and the mudroom. Ginny didn’t like the look he was giving her, like he knew exactly what she’d just been up to.
“G’morning,” she squeaked, turning quickly to put her hands in the sink while desperately trying not to look as guilty as she felt, but she was sure her burning cheeks would give her away. “I was just washing up the breakfast dishes. Would you like anything to eat?”
Ron pushed his way into the kitchen and dropped heavily in the seat opposite of Draco, never once looking at him. “I’ll take three eggs, ham, beans-”
“No,” Harry said harshly, clearly all business, staring hard at his captive, “we’ve a tight schedule to keep.”
“Maybe a bacon sandwich and a few fruit pies if you have any.”
Ginny smiled as she wiped her hands, and reached for an ancient cast iron frying pain. Good old Ron, a bottomless pit if there ever was one. It pleased her to know that it wasn’t her cooking that had kept him away.
Remus took the seat next to Draco. “I think a cup of tea and a hot breakfast would be nice on such a dreary morning. That is, if you don’t mind, Ginny.”
“It’s no trouble at all,” she said with a grin, and quickly busied herself with making a huge breakfast of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes, baked beans, hash browns and toast.
“Harry,” Ron groused just as Ginny started placing plates full of food on the table, “stop your pacing. It’s driving me nutters.”
“I want to get back to headquarters and get on with things.” Harry’s eyes never left the back of Draco’s head.
“It’s not like he’s going to expire while we enjoy a spot of breakfast,” Remus said, digging into his plate.
Ginny ignored Harry’s groan of frustration and set a plate in front of Draco, gently urging him to try to eat something. Only to find herself under her former boyfriend’s intense scrutiny as her charge reluctantly began to pick at his plate. She gave Harry a defiant look, daring him to say a word to her. A good knockdown, drag-out row would take the edge off of her nerves and do her a world of good, but he said nothing.
She also didn’t like the way Remus was keeping close tabs on her as she moved about the kitchen. Every time she tried to catch Draco’s eye, the older wizard would meet her glance with an unreadable look of his own. Most of the time she didn’t mind him being around, but this time out she found his presence annoying. Harry and Ron were easy to fool, but not Remus. He was far too observant for her comfort.
“Oh, I almost forgot!” Ron said, breaking the tension in the room. He dug a small parcel from the inside pocket of his robe and placed it on the table. “Mum sent you some things, and there are letters from Fred and George and Charlie and Nev.”
“How could you almost forget?” She practically pounced on the parcel, resizing it quickly and tearing through the contents. Ginny lived for parcels from her mum. They were her only connection to family and friends she had since she’d been secreted away.
“Sorry,” her brother said with a mouth full.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full. It’s disgusting.”
“You sound just like Mum.”
“I do not!”
She pulled out a fuzzy apple green jumper, smiling as she slipped it on over her nightclothes. “Well, someone has to try to keep you in line!”
Ron sneered at her between bites. “I don’t know why. I’m perfect just as I am!”
“That’s what you think,” she snorted.
“It’s true, I am!”
“According to who?”
“No one,” he stammered a bit and turned beet red.
“No one, eh?”
“That’s what I said! Are you hard of hearing?”
“No, not hard of hearing. I’m just finding it difficult to believe someone would find you perfect. I must know who this person is, so I can inform them of their mistake.”
“Well, I won’t be telling you-”
“Can we move this along?” Harry said, frustrated. “I want to get back sometime today!”
“Hold onto your knickers, mate! We’re just having breakfast,” Ron snapped.
“I want to go home,” Ginny said abruptly. The thought of being left alone at the cottage was more than she could bear. Malfoy might not have been the perfect houseguest, but he was better than no one for weeks on end.
“Ginny, you know why you’re here,” Harry said, his tone softening as he moved towards her so he could put his arms around her.
“Actually, I don’t.” She shrugged out from under his arm, moving to put the table between them.
“I would be of more use at home!”
Ginny knew full well why she was there since Molly Weasley was a force to be reckoned with when it came to her children. What she said became ironclad law, and her youngest child’s safety was of utmost importance. She just wanted to see if there were any chinks she could use to her advantage.
“Mum’s orders,” Ron said. “She wanted you some place safe so you could recover.”
“I rarely have headaches anymore, and I haven’t had a nosebleed in ages.”
“You were out cold for a week after Nev got you back and delirious for a long while after that. Mum nearly went out of her mind with worry.”
“I wouldn’t have to go out. I could stay home and do research. I could make medicinal potions! Anything! I just want to go home.” She hated the tears that sprung up in her eyes, but there was little she could do to prevent them. The very last thing she wanted was to be perceived as weak by Harry and to further the notion that he must protect her. She could take care of herself.
“We don’t want to risk you being attacked again,” Harry said. “You might not survive it if someone very skilled like Bellatrix Lestrange got a hold of you, and we can’t be having that.”
“But I wouldn’t go out,” she protested. “I wouldn’t even get near the door.”
“I have to side with Mum this time, Gin,” Ron said with a note of finality in his voice. “I’m sorry.”
“No buts. You’re staying, and that is final!”
She squeaked indignantly as she tried to gather her wits enough to mount another charge. There was no way she was going to allow her brother to tell her what to do. She was a full-grown witch.
“Weasley, listen to your brother,” Draco said calmly.
“You’re no match for the likes of my Aunt.” All the eyes in the room turned to stare at the sullen young wizard toying with the food on his plate. “Another Cruciatus attack like that and you’re as good as dead.”
“Is that a threat?” Harry asked menacingly, closing the distance between him and his mortal enemy in a blink of an eye. “Because if it was, I am going to kill you with my bare hands.”
“Stop your bleating. It is quite unbecoming, although I shouldn’t be surprised by it. And no, it was not a threat, merely an observation.”
“Don’t you dare to presume to know anything.”
“Harry,” Remus said firmly, “Mr. Malfoy is quite correct. Another attack like the one Ginny sustained would most likely kill her.”
“Don’t I get a say in all of this?” Ginny asked, thoroughly miffed that her life was being decided upon by a bunch of wizards without any regard for her feelings on the matter.
“No!” they all answered in unison.
Harry roughly snatched Draco up from the table by the arm. “I think it’s time to go.”
“Gin, I’m sorry,” Ron said, taking her in his arms and holding her close. “You know I’d bring with us if I could.”
Remus put his hand on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. “Things should be over soon, one way or the other.”
Harry cast a full body binding curse on Draco with a smirk, and allowed the prone boy to fall to the floor with a heavy thud, then prodded him with the toe his boot to make sure the spell worked. “What’re you going do now, eh, Malfoy? Can’t move, can you?”
“Harry, stop!” Ginny cried. “Don’t hurt him!”
“Since when do you care so much about what happens to this piece of shite?”
She didn’t notice the hard look Harry gave her because she was too concerned with making sure Draco was all right. He tried to mumble something to her, but his mouth would not cooperate with him, so he pleaded with her using his darkened grey eyes.
“Yeah, Gin, what gives?” her brother asked.
Ginny sat back her heels and brushed a bit of her red hair from her face. “I don’t,” she said sobering quickly, “I just want to make sure you didn’t ruin all my hard work.”
Thankfully, Ron looked convinced, but Harry didn’t look so sure and that concerned her. He could take his frustrations out on him during the interrogation, and Draco would have no way to defend himself without making things worse.
She got up from the floor, and tried to act nonchalant by clearing the table. “Get him out of my house.”
That caused Harry to smile. “Your wish is my command.” And with that, he Disapparated, taking the prisoner with him.
“Chin up, Gin,” Ron said, giving her a smothering hug.
“Malfoy is out of your hair, and things will soon be over and you can come home.”
“I hope so,” she mumbled into his chest, squeezing him tight.
He kissed the top of her head before stepping back. “I know so.”
“I love you,” she said quickly.
“Love you too,” he answered just before Disapparating.
She let out a heavy sigh, relieved that she could finally let her guard down. Knowing she had to let Draco go was hard enough, but actually letting him go was another. She berated herself over letting her feelings get the best of her when it came to Draco Malfoy. He was a Death Eater. There would be no future with him outside of the little world of the cottage, no matter how hard she might wish for it, and that was the end of it.
“Never give up hope,” Remus said, causing her to nearly jump out of her skin. She thought he’d left when Harry did.
“What?” she asked, startled.
“And remember, things might not always be as they seem,” he said cryptically before Disapparating.
To be continued...
Valleys of Green and Grey 04 by Rainpuddle
It had been nearly three weeks and counting since Harry had unceremoniously hauled Draco away from the little cottage in the woods, and Ginny hadn’t seen or heard from anyone. The not knowing was driving her around the bend. The world could have ended, and she would have been none the wiser.
During the intervening time she’d packed her meager belongings in a battered case she’d found in the upstairs cupboard, damned and determined to return to London and her family. She was tired of having her life decided for her by her mother. She was an adult and fully capable of making her own decisions. And if Harry thought she was going to sit around, waiting for him to have time for her after he’d saved the world then he had another thing coming.
She sat on the front stoop watching a thunderstorm brew off in the distance, pondering the direction her life had taken in the last year. She loved the earthy smell of the wind-whipped, rain-cooled air just before a storm blew in. She’d miss that once she was in London where the rain smelled of asphalt and petrol, and the world never smelled quite cleansed.
Quiet moments like these helped her clear her head. Ginny had spent a long time pondering over the events of Draco’s stay that culminated in the mind-blowing kiss in the kitchen the morning he’d been taken away for questioning.
It should have never happened, but she chalked it up to being lonely, and he was the only boy available who wasn’t too old, a relative or Harry Potter. Not that it mattered anyway; he was probably finding it difficult to get comfortable in a cold, dark cell in Azkaban, if Harry had had his way.
“You’re probably not going to like the Knight Bus,” she told Juno as he wound his way between her legs, nudging against her and purring loudly. She scratched his ears and beneath his chin as he would allow. “It’s noisy, rather bumpy-”
“And quite dangerous,” said a voice behind her.
Ginny jumped, grabbing for her wand as her hands shook and her heart pounded.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Remus said.
“What time is it?”
“It’s nearly four in the morning. What are you still doing up?”
“I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately,” she said, sheathing her wand and sitting down again on the step.
He settled down beside her. “Nightmares again?”
Ginny gave a slight nod. “Yes.”
“Want to talk about it?”
“Do you have enough Sleeping Draught?”
“Yes,” she said tiredly, “but I just hate waking up in a fog that I can’t seem to shake all day.”
“I understand that.”
And she knew he did. Having to be a slave to Wolfsbane potion for the rest of his life with all of its awful side effects must have been a fate that was only rivaled by death, but Remus sucked it up and did what he had to do to have some semblance of a normal life with Tonks. It made her feel a tinge of guilt for complaining about her woeful existence.
“So you’ve been thinking of running away,” Remus stated after a long silence.
Ginny turned away to hide her red cheeks, despite the darkness surrounding them. She was hoping that Remus would be too tactful to broach the subject of what he’d overheard. “I just want to go home. I miss my mum and dad.”
“I know,” he said soothingly, patting her hand a moment.
“They miss you too and would give anything to have you with them, but it’s just not possible right now.”
“I just want all of this to be over. I’m so tired of it.”
“We all are.”
“I could be doing something useful in London.”
“You’re doing something useful here,” he reminded her.
“What? Sitting around and twiddling my thumbs most days? I haven’t done anything useful since Malfoy was here,” she said bitterly.
“You would’ve been an easy target, and before you can argue with me, yes, you are good with your wand, but you’re no match for a seasoned Death Eater. There was an attack on the Knight Bus last week.”
“Yes,” the older wizards said grimly. “Several people were injured, two are still missing, and Ernie Prang was killed.”
“Oh no,” she gasped, her heart pounding in her chest so hard she wondered if Remus could hear it. Her mother had stated time and time again in her letters that things were getting very dangerous, and she was so very glad that Ginny was tucked away snug and safe far away from the fray. She’d never exactly believed her mother for she always had a tendency to exaggerate a little bit when it came to the safety of her children, but it was getting increasingly difficult to ignore the direness of the situation.
“So do you now see why you must remain here?” Remus asked in all seriousness.
“Yes, yes, I do,” she whispered, everything suddenly becoming crystal clear.
“Then you’ll stay put, for your mother? For Harry…”
“I’ll stay for my mum. As for Harry, well, he can jump-”
“What happened between you two, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“I do mind,” she said tetchily, hating the fact that the mere mention of her relationship with Harry turned her into a bitch. It was just her natural reaction after so many people (namely her mum) had tried to saddle her with the fault in their failed relationship. No one knew him like she did, except maybe her brother and Hermione, and they were always willing to overlook his faults, which was the one thing she refused to do. Ginny was sure she’d be driven to murder after a few years of living with him.
“Ah,” was all Remus said as he continued to stare off into the distance.
“Where’s Ron?” Ginny asked by way of changing the subject.
“Running down some leads with Harry,” Remus said, standing up and offering her hand. “We should probably go in before it rains.”
The dark night sky lit up with lightning following by a low rumble of thunder across the hills.
“I think you’re right,” she said, taking his hand and pulling herself up just as the first drops of rain began to splatter the porch. “So what are you doing here in the middle of the night?”
“Early morning, really, and I bought you some supplies and things.”
Ginny willed herself not to feel disappointed, but she failed miserably. She was secretly hoping that he’d brought someone for her take care of for a few days, so she could occupy her thoughts with something other than trying to figure out a way to get to London without being killed the process.
“Good, I hope you brought some things to replenish my potion supplies. I used up most of my stores on Malfoy,” she said, making her way to the kitchen. “Would you like a bite to eat before you leave? I have cherry tarts. The Muggles have a brilliant market every Thursday when the farmers bring their goods in…” Her voice trailed off as she noticed a person slumped over at her kitchen table, swallowing hard when she caught glimpse of a bit of deep red plaid.
“Oh yeah,” Remus said, bemused, “I forgot, I brought Malfoy back too.”
It took every ounce of her strength not to run to Draco’s aid. He’d obviously seen a rough time of it at the hands of Harry, which didn’t surprise her in the least. Harry had had it in for Draco ever since they met as eleven year olds in Madam Malkin’s all those years ago, and it had long since grown old, at least to Ginny.
“He’s a little worse for the wear, but mostly intact, in case you’re wondering,” the older wizard in the room said after a while.
“I thought he was bound for Azkaban when the Order was done with him,” She responded, hoping she sounded indifferent when she was feeling anything but. She wished Lupin would just leave.
“Azkaban is no longer safe for a Malfoy.”
“So what now?” The news that the wizarding prison was no longer safe was not a huge surprise.
“We floated the story that he was found dead, which was picked up in the Prophet two days ago, and kept him hidden away until we could move him safely. That is why I’m here under the cover of night. It was my suggestion we stash him in the one place we knew he’d be safe.”
Ginny snorted softly. “What makes you think he’s safe here?”
“I just have a feeling,” Remus said, his brown eyes twinkling mischievously in the bright kitchen light.
“I’m not responsible for my actions if he starts acting like a git.”
“You can hex him, but you can’t kill him, not yet at any rate. He’s still of use to the Order.”
She just rolled her eyes before moving to put out a plate of tarts and fill the teapot, nudging Draco a bit when she set a plate in front of him along with a steaming cup of tea. He didn’t move. “What did Harry do to him?”
Remus took a big bite of cherry tart, savoring it a bit before answering. “I don’t know; you’ll have to ask Malfoy for yourself.”
“It looks like he hasn’t eaten.”
“How can you tell? He looks the same to me.”
She didn’t know why she bothered, really, because she already knew the answer to any question she could ask. Remus was just another one of Harry’s defenders. Nothing her former boyfriend ever did was wrong as long as someone was around to make excuses for him.
“His clothes are filthy,” she complained. “Did you keep him locked in a room the entire time?”
“Grimmauld Place isn’t exactly a bed and breakfast now is it?” Remus shot back her.
“But you knew how sick he’s been!”
“He’s not dead is he?”
“No,” she said grudgingly.
“He was treated much better than if the Death Eaters had captured him.”
She frowned and said nothing, turning her attention back to the young wizard slumped over her kitchen table. It was almost like déjà vu, only Malfoy didn’t seem on Death’s doorstep, and he was covered in less grime.
“I should take my leave,” Remus said, a sly smile lighting up his otherwise tired face. “Tonks would probably like to see me at some point in her lifetime.”
“Give her my love,” she said, distracted. Her mind was cataloguing all the things that she would need to do to get her charge back into the shape he had been in before he was taken away.
“He should have enough Veritaserum in his system to last a few more hours.” And with that he Disapparated with a soft pop.
She stared at the empty space for a moment as her brain tried to process Remus’ parting bit of information. She could ask Malfoy anything her little heart desired, and he’d be unable to do anything but answer honestly. It was too tempting to not at least entertain the thought of learning the answers to all things she was dying to know.
“Draco,” she said softly, taking the seat next to him at the table. “Draco, wake up. C’mon.” She tenderly brushed his hair back, silently willing him to give her a sign of life. “That’s a good boy,” she urged as he groaned and lifted his head.
“Weasley?” he asked weakly, blinking in the harsh light. His unfocused, glassy eyes were side affects of being doped with Veritaserum.
“How is your arm?”
“It hurts, throbs.”
“Let me see,” she said, carefully rolling up the sleeve of the shirt he was wearing when he was taken away weeks ago. The ruined skin that had once been the Dark Mark was still red and warm to the touch. “Do you think you walk? We need to get you into bed so I can fix you up as good as new.”
“I think so.” Draco stood, swaying a little once he’d reached his full height. “I don’t know.”
Ginny took his arm and draped it around her shoulders, wrapping her free arm around his waist to help guide him to the steps. “We’ll go nice and slow, okay?”
He nodded his consent, and thirty minutes later he was clean, wearing soft pajamas, dosed with a mild pain potion, and resting comfortably in one of the two narrow beds in the second bedroom. She served him a breakfast of two soft-boiled eggs, toast and weak tea.
“Are you done with that?” she asked just to make conversation. She’d tidied the room, cleaned the clothes he’d been wearing and put them away, and adjusted the curtains to keep out the flashing lightning, so he could get some rest.
“Yes,” he answered flatly.
“You didn’t like it?”
“It was fine.”
The tray disappeared with a flick of her wand. “Do you need anything else?”
Draco closed his eyes. “Yes, stay with me a little while. Please.”
“All right,” Ginny said, pulling the only chair in the room over by the bed. “I’ll stay until you fall asleep.”
“Would you like a sleeping draught?” Ginny asked after what seemed hours of sitting in silence, but really was only twenty minutes.
“No, thank you,” he answered, staring blankly off into space.
“Was it bad?” she asked before she could stop herself. It was nosey at the very least, and knowingly taking advantage of him was a grievous sin. But then, when would she ever get the chance to have him answer anything honestly again? Despite everything, she still didn’t trust him as far as she could hex him.
“Was what bad?”
“The questioning – did Harry give you a difficult time?”
Draco hesitated, like he had wanted to make a snide comment, but instead he softly said, “Not really.”
“That’s good. I was worried-”
“You were worried about me?”
“I was worried you’d fall ill again and die before you could spend a good long time in Azkaban,” she informed him, and immediately felt guilty at the hurt look in his eyes. She hadn’t meant what she’d said, not really, but she couldn’t tell him how she nearly drove herself mad with worry. He wouldn’t believe her anyway.
Draco made a show of pulling up the blanket. “I think I will retire for evening now. Turn out the light on your way out please.”
“I’m sorry for what I said,” she said in a rush, and she meant it. “I don’t know what came over me. Will you forgive me?”
“Always.” His eyes were unreadable in the low light of the single witch light burning by his bed.
“Did it hurt?” Ginny asked after a few awkward minutes.
“Getting the Mark.”
“Unimaginable pain, worse than the Cruciatus.”
“That must have been horrible!”
“Why did you take it then?”
“I didn’t have a choice, really, but at the time I could only think about what I was going to do to Potter after I became a Death Eater,” he said bitterly.
“This was after your father’s arrest wasn’t it?”
“Yes,” he ground out. “Stupid fucking Potter. Ruining everything!”
Ginny swallowed hard. She’d been there that night in the Ministry. She’d broken her ankle in the fight that had ensued, and some of her recollections were a bit hazy, but if she wasn’t mistaken Lucius Malfoy had more than earned his one-way ticket to Azkaban.
“That’s why you killed Dumbledore isn’t it?” she asked in utter disbelief as the fragments of events from that horrible night on the tower fell into place in her mind.
“To get back at Harry for your father’s arrest.”
“Yes, partly,” he said in carefully measured words. “I was assigned to kill Dumbledore. Getting even with Saint Potter was just a bonus.”
“Oh my god,” she gasped. “Voldemort assigned you…”
Draco nodded grimly. “Yes, it was kill him or the Dark Lord would kill my parents.”
“That’s awful.” Ginny’s mind was reeling as she tried to make sense of what she’d just heard. The unimaginable impossibility of the situation had to have been almost more than he could bear. “What did you do?”
“What did I do?” he snorted. “What did I do? How can you even ask that! I did the only thing I could in that situation. I attempted to kill Dumbledore several times over the course of the year.”
All of the strange occurrences of her fifth year came flooding back – Harry’s dogged obsession with finding out what Draco was doing; her brother’s poisoning; Katie’s mishap with a cursed necklace. “You nearly killed Ron and Katie!” she gasped in horror.
“You’re not even sorry, are you?”
“I’m more sorry than you’ll ever know.” A low rumble of thunder punctuated his words.
“Then why did you do it?”
“Kill Dumbledore? I didn’t. Snape did.”
“Snape?” Ginny gasped. Harry hadn’t mentioned any of this. “How?”
“He did what I couldn’t do. I couldn’t kill a weak old man, damn him,” he said with no emotion. “Damn him to hell. There he was disarmed, and at my mercy, and all I had to do was say the curse, but I couldn’t bring myself to utter the words. Then Dumbledore had to go be all fucking compassionate and offer me sanctuary. Offer to protect my parents. There I was trying to kill him and he was offering me a way out! After everything I’d done, he was offering me a way to save myself. I couldn’t do it then, not even to save my parents. Snape stepped in and killed him after Dumbledore pleaded for him to do it.”
“So Snape let the Death Eaters into Hogwarts?” She couldn’t make sense of it all. Harry’s versions of events were vastly different.
“No, that was me. I’d spent most of the year in the Room of Requirement trying to fix a Vanishing Cabinet. I managed it right before the end of the spring term.”
“You let them in?”
“Yes, I’m not proud of it now, but at the time I had little choice. My mother had been subjected to the Cruciatus, and the next time it would be the killing curse if I continued to fail.”
“Oh, Draco, you really didn’t have much choice, did you?”
“No, and I still couldn’t kill Dumbledore.”
“Why did you runaway then?” She couldn’t help herself from asking.
“Dumbledore was dead, and a bunch of Death Eaters had just witnessed my failure.”
“The Order would have protected you just like Dumbledore said.”
“They weren’t there; they didn’t witness what happened,” he said acerbically. “It would have been my word against Potter’s and who would they’ve believed?”
“You don’t know that,” she said defensively. She knew there were cooler heads in the Order than the likes of her ex-boyfriend and her brother. Ginny was positive someone would have listened to his tale and known he spoke the truth.
Draco smiled then, a very sad smile. “Always the Gryffindor, believing that truth and justice will prevail. I hate to inform you, sweetheart, but things don’t work that way in the real world.”
“You’re under the protection of the Order now,” she informed him sweetly.
“Only because I might be useful to Potter, otherwise he’d have left me to die.”
“You really hate Harry, don’t you?” she whispered.
“Saint Potter?” he hissed darkly. “Yes, I hate him with every fiber of my being.”
“He’s not all that bad.”
“He gets away with murder, because no one wants to believe he can do any wrong!”
“That’s not true! He doesn’t get away with everything!” She knew Harry had served detention loads of time for doing all kinds of stupid things, granted it was mostly Snape and Umbridge who’d given it to him, but still. He didn’t get away with everything.
Draco quirked an eyebrow at her and gave her a dubious look. “He got away with trying to kill me.”
“What?” she spluttered.
“I see your precious Potter conveniently forgot to tell you how he tried to murder me.”
“He told me you were injured when you hexed each other.”
“He hit me some slashing curse that nearly ripped me to shreds. I almost bled to death. I would have too if Snape hadn’t arrived.”
That didn’t sound like Harry at all. She knew he hated Draco, and they’d had their share of dustups, but she knew deep in her heart that Harry would never have tried to kill him outright. “I don’t believe you.”
Draco pulled up the faded black t-shirt he was wearing to reveal his ghostly pale chest marred by numerous thin, raised slashing scars. They looked like they’d been painful. “Where do you think these came from?”
“I thought-” She didn’t know what she really did think; though she had wondered when she was cleaning him up where those scars had come from. They weren’t too old by the looks of them, but they were definitely not from recent injures.
“So when is the wedding?” Draco asked silkily, drawing her from her troubled ruminations.
“You, Potter, married and breeding mealy-mouth little brats – when?”
“I’m not going to marry Harry.”
“What, no grand wedding over the corpse of the Dark Lord?”
“Of course not! That’s just disgusting!”
“And true if Potter had his way.”
“It is not!
“I thought your greatest desire was to be Mrs. Potter.”
“Not anymore,” she informed him flatly. It still stung - Harry’s rejection of her - even after so much time. The initial hurt had finally turned into angry resolved that he was not going to win her back, no matter how hard he tried. Ginny had learned long ago that Ron and Hermione would always come first where Harry was concerned. “Why are you being so cruel?”
“I don’t know,” he said tightly, as if it pained him greatly to say it. “I’m jealous of Potter!”
Ginny could scarcely believe what she’d just heard.
“Jealous of Harry?”
“He has you; that’s why.” She could see his pale features were tinged pink in the dim witchlight, and she couldn’t stop herself from thinking he was the most beautiful boy she’d ever seen.
“He doesn’t have me,” she told him just to see his reaction. “Not anymore.”
“He broke up with me.”
“Potter’s a fool.”
“He’s changed his mind, or at least he acts like he has.”
“Do you want to get back with him?”
“It would make my mum happy.”
“Would it make you happy?”
“No, no, I don’t think it would.”
“What would make you happy?”
Ginny chewed her bottom lip to keep from answering his question honestly. It wouldn’t do for him to have that bit of information, because he’d just try to use it against her. She did have to live with him until the Order decided what to do with him.
“I asked you a question,” Draco said impatiently.
“Why did you kiss me that morning in the kitchen?” she asked, trying to distract him with a question of her own. Ginny needed to regain the upper hand, before she ended up telling him things she’d never dared to give voice to before. It was frightening how easy it was to tell him things she couldn’t even talk about with her best friend.
Draco turned his head away, breathing in and out slowly, for what seemed an eternity, before turning back to look her, silver eyes meeting brown ones. “Because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was about to be thrown in Azkaban, so I had nothing to lose.”
Ginny squeaked indignantly and muttered about all boys being the bloody same under her breath.
“And you’re really pretty, and I think I might be in love with you,” he finished softly, never taking his eyes off of her.
She was sure he was telling the truth. The Veritaserum was still at work in his system, because his eyes hadn’t yet lost their glassy look.
More to come...
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