Disclaimer: The last time I checked I wasn't disguctingly rich and famous, so no, this is not mine. Well, the plot is, but it's an odd plot and in court I will deny any connection. ^_^ Author's Notes: Muchos thankies to the wonderful Skye for her mad betaing skills =D

2 :: The Burrow And The Apple Peel

Ever since Ginny was a child, she was immensely afraid of darkness. But along the usual and the more understandable darkness one could discover in his bedroom with the absence of candles, also dwelled the kind that lurked in depths of the human soul, whispering viciously and tauntingly until you can't seem to open your eyes in fear of seeing them as well. She hated the little, almost inaudible, voices from the corners of her room, scratching, hissing, sputtering threats and jeers the moment her mother would leave the room, dimming the lights.

When Ginny learned about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for the first time, she imagined to herself that he was like that darkness, those noises; and that the only difference was the fact that the noises faded when one turned on the lights, but You-Know-Who did not. When Ginny first learned about Harry Potter, she was instantly drawn to the marvelous idea of him, for he was the only one who was able to chase away the darkness. Harry the light that rendered the voices speechless.

To her vast misfortune, Ginny encountered the Dark Lord face to face when she was all too young and highly unprepared to be dealing with her greatest fears head on. As time trickles by and no light was able to chase away the residual darkness, she realized he wasn't like the muffled noises that scratched and whispered and taunted. No, he was the singular vibrant voice that hissed, screamed, cursed and tormented. And mid those jeers and cries, he was also the lingering whisper that sliced it's way through her mind, clawing at her sanity ruthlessly and casting her quivering soul into utter turmoil. A whisper that wafted such cold and malicious concern, she would find herself breathless and trembling violently hours after it had subsided.


At the end of that horrible year, Ginny learned that, once again, it was Harry who ended her nightmare and rendered that voice speechless.


Eyes flinging open, Ginny sprung into a sitting position, clutching her chest in horror while her mind tried to soothe the desperate panting. Feeling uneasy, she swiped at her face with a shaky hand, wiping away beads of cold sweat. Her eyes sought the bedchamber for something familiar while slowly her mind replayed snatches of the previous events. She squeezed her eyes shut, then gulped for air one last time and exhaled already even breath.

It was just a bad dream… everything is alright now… calm down… she coaxed herself, her eyes scanning the room. Inhaling deeply, she held her breath for a moment, her mind still raw from the recurring visions and the images still fresh.

She would find herself back in the Chamber of Secrets again, watching with morbid fascination as the Final Battle repeated in front of her eyes. But everything was horribly different and altered and instead of glorious victory, Harry would undertake a disgraceful downfall, as the Dark Lord would win over and over again in her dreams.

This time however, the dream was different. The Battle finally transpired as it did in reality about a decade ago, and Harry had finally won. Only this time it was as horrible and as mortifying as ever when Harry, basked in cheers and roars of triumph, threw his head back and released a petrifying high-pitch laughter. Then he turned to stare right at her and the green eyes she loved so much were narrowed into hateful slits the color of blood. Her blood.


Ginny slowly climbed out of the bed, noticing her clothes had been washed and folded neatly on a chair near the bed. She grabbed them and headed to the bathroom, absently going through her usual morning routine, though finding it very unnerving to be doing so in the Malfoy Manor. She walked back to the bedchamber and was greeted by the sight of a small house elf making her bed. She cleared her throat softly, not wishing to seem rude by sneaking up on the small creature and stifled a frown of discontent when he was startled and hurried to bow deeply upon realizing the room wasn't empty.

"Forgive Mitzi, Miss. Mitzi thought Miss already went down for breakfast," squeaked the elf at the floor.

"No, no, that is not a problem… I was just leaving anyway. Could you thank your Master for--"

"Oh no, no, no! Master Draco requested Miss to be present at the table when Miss wakes up," the elf hurried to inform her with wide, fearful eyes.

Oh… crap.

Ginny breathed irritably, noticing her hands resumed their shaking once again and asked the house elf, as politely as her peaky nerves allowed her, to show her the dining room. The creature repeatedly apologized for not doing so earlier and even banged her head on the wall couple of times before Ginny was able to stop her. Following the elf hesitantly, Ginny was led through many meandering corridors of elegant and expensive décor. No wonder he was such a stuck-up git back in school…

Ginny walked into the dining room, noticing the elf disappear immediately out of sight and shifted her attention to the man sitting at the table. His posture was immaculate and he held himself perfectly, even in the premises of his own house, even when there was no one to judge him but house-elves, mirrors and the unexpected guest. His hair was neatly tied at the nape of his neck with what seems to be a black silky ribbon and his eyes were skipping along the lines of Daily Prophet's first page with concentrated fervor. He made no indication that he noticed her presence and Ginny was just about to slink out of the chamber and escape the dismal castle of this evil wizard, when his voice cut through her reverie.

"Don't hover over me, I hate it," he drawled coldly and gestured at the chair to his right for her to sit down, his eyes not leaving the paper.

Keeping her eyes on him, she gingerly took the seat, absently inching it just a bit away from him. Suddenly she noticed that the plate before her wasn't empty anymore and instead there were some scramble eggs and a few pieces of bacon. A freshly baked biscuit was buttering itself in front of her before carefully finding a perch on the rim of her plate. The glass beside her made strange gurgling noises and soon enough it was filling up with pumpkin juice out of nowhere, as if someone pulled the plug from its bottom and she was watching a reversed draining process. She eyed the food, than Draco, waiting for some kind of comment.

"Eat," was all he sufficed before he took a sip from his small coffee cup without tearing his eyes from the newspaper, an unnoticed pinky pointing out and away.

Ginny glanced at the food again, her stomach quietly agreeing with Draco's suggestion. No, she told herself firmly. I don't want any more favors from a Malfoy. I can't stay here…

"I'm not hungry. "

Draco smirked at the paper, placing the cup down. "You are a terrible liar, Weasley,” he said with a hint of amusement when he finally tore his gaze away from the Daily Prophet and looked over at her. “Eat. "

"Malfoy, I'm not in a mood for this. Could you please get on with what you wanted to say so I could leave as soon as possible?" she spoke briskly, her lips pressed in a thin line. Something told her she should at the very least try to sound civil, but a single Malfoy Smirk was all it took to take her back to their school years.

"And where would you go?" countered a quiet drawl.

Ginny opened her mouth to reply, but found no words. She hadn't thought this far yet, all she knew was that her presence in Malfoy Manor wasn't natural and she had to leave. But as far as her destination was considered, she miserably realized there were no plausible options. Her own house was out of the question for it was obvious Harry was still there. Burrow was not a haven anymore, as he would know to search for her there as well. Where to, then?

"Exactly," he spoke, as if hearing her thoughts.

"Exactly what?" she snapped irritably, peeved by the smug undertones of his cold voice. "Where I'll go is none of your business, Malfoy. "

He narrowed his eyes as a sneer graced his previous neutral expression.

"I'm sorry,” she said suddenly, looking away. It was not his fault she was so frustrated, so confused. It was not his fault she was paralyzed with fear, and no matter how uncomfortable the idea seemed to her, she owed him. “It's just… I…” she sighed heavily when no words came and rubbed her face tiredly. Where would she go now? What would she do?

Draco didn't say anything for a while, the sneer quickly fading off his face as he folded the newspaper neatly and left it on the table. Steepling his fingers, he glanced forward for a moment before turning to face her in a business-like manner. "You can stay in the Manor, " he said evenly, his voice detached of any signs of genuine sympathy.

Ginny eyed him suspiciously, trying to see through his facade. "Why--?"

"Do not ever ask that question and my proposition will stay valid,” he warned her through gritted teeth. “Think of it as an annual charity case,” he smirked at her expression of growing confusion and slowly stood up, heading out of the room. "I would recommend visiting your family and explaining the situation. I'm sure they're worried…"

Ginny returned to her breakfast, more unsettled about her presence at the Malfoy Manor than when she first woke up. Chancing glances at the door, she sheepishly scolded herself for expecting a child-sized Malfoy with the same pointy face and mouth too wide, to jump out of nowhere and finally retaliate for the infamous Bat Bogey incident. But seeing him act this way was quite unnerving, if to say the least. His actions boarded on 'Nice…', though his tone and expression still hollered 'Prat!', and if to be completely honest, Ginny wasn't at all comfortable with Malfoy being any shape or form of… nice. Though she greatly appreciated his offer, she doubted if she should accept it, if for the sake of her sanity alone.

She could go to the Burrow, and after a quick explanation, to hope they won't prod any further. But she couldn't place her family in between herself and Harry. He was like another son for her Mother and very close to every other member of the clan. It would be unfair of her to do this to her family and she couldn't ask them to choose sides. Just the mere thought of 'sides' was enough to sent her stomach into a churning fit and any thought of breakfast to flee her mind.

On the other hand - if she to stay in the Malfoy Manor, no questions will be asked and none answered. Harry would most probably not even know where she was and it would give her enough time to figure things out. No one will be asked to choose sides because Malfoy won't be dragged into this since he couldn't care less. It was almost perfect.

This is just for a while, she assured herself. Just enough for me to think…


Ginny borrowed a broomstick from Malfoy's personal collection and headed to The Burrow, all the way contemplating what exactly would she say to her family. Now, as she was standing on the front porch of the house, tightening the robes around her shaking body and gripping the broom tightly in one hand, she realized that she had absolutely no idea. How could she say to her mother, who always loved Harry and treated him like one of her own children, that he raised his hand at her? That he had struck her not once, but repeatedly and that she ran away from their home because she was genuinely afraid for her life? How could she even speak these words if she stuttered mentally whenever she tried to compose the speech in her mind? She couldn't envision their reaction and she was completely petrified that they might not believe her.

Ginny inhaled a deep breath and raised her hand to knock on the door of the crooked-looking Burrow.

She considered the possibility of just running away again and leaving before the door opened. But her thoughts were cut short with a mellow creak of the door and the sight of Hermione's eyes staring at her with surprise and undeniable confusion of unasked questions. “Ginny,” she breathed in relief, embracing the petite redhead in a hug as tight as the pregnant stomach allowed. “We were so worried!”

A wave of gratitude washed over Ginny and she hugged back just as tightly, wanting to hold on to the other witch and not let go. She wanted to crumble and cry right there on the threshold, to tell her closest friend how terribly, horribly, shamefully terrified she was and how she couldn't think about anything, that her mind was in total turmoil and utter jumble and that it was hopelessly difficult to structure sentences without developing a headache.

But she didn't, and instead of that she just held on even tighter.

Finally releasing her sister-in-law, Hermione stepped back into the house, tugging Ginny to follow her, but was greeted with resistance.

"Is… is Harry here?"

Hermione glanced at her strangely, shaking her head lightly as the extremely curly hair bounced about her face. "No. Ron convinced him to go to work…"

Ginny nodded, exhaling a breath, and stepped in, unclasping her cloak and leaving it on the hanger.

"Hermione dear, who is at the door?" carried the soft voice of Ginny's mother, Molly Weasley.

Inwardly cringing at the unusual flatness of her mother's voice, Ginny called out in reply, "It's me, Mum. "

At the sound of the familiar voice, Molly instantly abandoned her fussing in the kitchen and practically ran to the foyer. Seeing her daughter alive and well, she hurried to her side, embracing her tightly as a fresh wave of tears came rushing down, "Oh dear! Oh dear!" Reluctantly releasing her hold on the youngest of her brood, Molly's features shifted from great relief to anger and she swatted at Ginny's arm reproachfully. "Ginevra Molly Weasley, what on earth were you thinking?"

Through the heavy glazing tears, Ginny released a snort of laughter. Smiling her mother, Ginny thanked the higher beings for blessing her with a loving family.

"Okay, come on now… Everything is well now. Why don't we move to the living room?" offered Hermione, motioning them to move further.

"Oh yes, of course," exclaimed Molly, hurrying towards the kitchen. "I'll fix us some tea!"

Hermione led Ginny into the living room and sat down awkwardly, maneuvering her way upon the cushions, so as to not disturb her nine-months old stomach too much. She and Ron had moved back to the Burrow from their London apartment right after Ron got promoted at the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. The Healers discovered some complications with the pregnancy, and though they assured the riotous family that there was nothing critical to worry about, they still advised Hermione to avoid any stress and heavy lifting.

Sitting down beside her sister-in-law, Ginny suddenly doubted whether she should tell what she had to Hermione, since it was most definitely against the Healers' order. But she knew it was too late to think about this as Hermione began to speak in a hushed voice.

"Ginny, what happened? Why did you run away?"

"Harry was here yesterday?" Ginny asked silently, carefully steadying her voice not to crack.

"Yes. He appeared here last night, shouting and ranting, demanding to see you," Hermione began, her voice letting know that he actually scared her. "Ron tried to calm him down, but he was too riled up. After he searched the whole house and realized you weren't here, he broke down. Gin, he cried,” her voice was aghast, as if she still didn't believe what had happened. “I don't think I ever saw him cry. What happened?"

Ginny opened her mouth to speak when Molly returned with three mugs of steaming tea and a plate of freshly made chocolate truffles. She took a seat on a chair across the couch, gazing at her daughter with an unreadable expression. Suddenly, she glanced away and Ginny deemed to see something flash through her eyes, but it disappeared almost instantly and she looked back at her daughter with concern etching in her face.

An odd sensation washed over Ginny and for a moment she thought that perhaps her mother knew. She shook the unfeasible notion out and handed the yellow mug to Hermione. Once again searching for words, she gazed at the steaming liquid in her own mug before her and sighed, tears threatening to brim her hazel eyes.

"Ginny dear, did you and Harry had a fight?" Molly suggested gently.

Ginny nodded slowly, wondering whether it was the right definition of what had occurred. "I… umm,” she gulped hard. “I… I don't know where to begin…"

Hermione smiled at her reassuringly, holding onto her hand, and squeezes it lightly. "It's okay, Gin. Whatever it is…” she didn't finish that sentence when Ginny nodded.

Ginny closed her eyes, replaying everything in her head for the millionth time and fighting the tears. She opened her mouth and willed herself to speak, but no sounds escaped her lips. She tried harder, calling onto all of her will just to pronounce the words she did not believe yet herself. "He hit me," she whispered finally, burying her gaze into the linings of the ancient carpet. She felt a great burden rise from her heart, just now realizing that she'd been holding her breath since the previous evening, and now she was allowed to breathe again. She raised her eyes to counter the shock and traces of anger in her mother's eyes. "He hit me," she spoke again, this time confident in her strength to face whatever's coming, but not noticing the fresh wave of pained tears that rolled down her cheeks, framing her delicate features.

She spoke quietly, as if retelling everything only to herself, but she held herself close to Hermione, needing her support. Her voice was steady though weak, and it was visible she was struggling against the overwhelming emotions. She held her head high, gazing into her mother's and Hermione's eyes, seeing the sheer shock and disbelief on their faces. She told them everything from the beginning; from the first time he burst and trashed their house. She told them how he'd apologized and cried with her after he first struck her. She spoke of the wonderful period of peace and happiness they had when she went on vacation, all up until last night. Then she told them about the conversation with her boss and then finally another of Harry's outbursts. She hesitated for couple of moments after speaking of her escape, then slowly and cautiously explained about her encounter with Draco Malfoy and how he was kind enough to allow her to spend the night in his Manor. She didn't plunge into any details of their conversation and only said his house elves tended to her wounds and bruises. When she finished speaking, she heaved a heavy breath, once again feeling the weight leaving her. She needed so badly to speak to someone, to tell everything.

Silence veiled the living room and no sound was heard except for the crackling of the fire. Throughout her words, Molly and Hermione remained silent, paralyzed from shock, she guessed. The day drifted by quickly while Ginny spoke and suddenly she noticed that it was already dark outside. Dad and Ron should be home soon, she thought to herself. Ginny averted her gaze from the clock to the two witches, who still set quietly beside her. She could see they were both lost in their own thoughts, reflecting the impossibility of everything she just told them. She didn't want to force them to speak, neither was she sure she'd like it, but right now the silence was getting under her skin.

She opened her mouth to speak again, to ask them to speak in order to break the silence, but her words were interrupted by three distinctive popping sounds when three wizards Apparated onto the front porch of the Burrow, and three very familiar voices were carried into the house. Ginny suddenly tensed up, sensing the witches beside her reacting the same way, as the realization dawned on them. Harry…

She felt Hermione squeezing her hand tighter as the door creaked open and the wizards entered the house. There was a sound of robes being carefully discarded onto the rack and some absently laughter, and the three wizards entered the living room. Pausing at the threshold and taking in the present in the room, Arthur and Ron's faces brightened up, and they hurried to Ginny's side, bracing her quickly in bear hugs, thanking Gods she was all right.

Ginny smiled at them quietly, her eyes remaining fixated upon the silent figure at the door. Harry stood wordlessly, making no attempt of approaching her, looking grim and pained to no end. She saw his eyes revealing the shame and sorrow she saw already the first time he hit her. She stayed at the other side of the room, not saying a word, boring her eyes into him. Perhaps he took it as a good sign, because he took a step in her direction, immediately halting to a stop when Molly straightened up for the first time since the three wizards returned.

"I think it'll be better if you leave now, Harry dear," Molly said quietly, but her voice lacked its usual warmth.

"Mum?" Ron glanced at her with incredulity.

"Molly," intoned Arthur, shocked at the words.

Harry bit the inner part of his cheek to sustain his composure. He took a step aback, looking at her with torment in his eyes. "It's okay Ron, Mr. Weasley. I'll… I'll just go…" He turned around and headed to the door, but paused at the threshold and turned again, gazing at Ginny. "I love you, Ginevra… I'm sure we'll work this out. " With these words he disappeared out of the room and a quiet popping sound indicated that he had Disapparated out of the house.

After Harry left, Hermione and Molly relaxed, and while keeping their eyes on Ginny, told the two wizards everything in hushed voices. Arthur insisted that Ginny should stay, but she declined the forcing offers gently, smiling at him for reassurance.

"How bizarre and strange it might sound, but I think I'll feel better at the Malfoy Manor," Ginny promised, noticing her brother's visible disapproval. "Besides, I need some time away from him where he can't find me…"

"Oh Ginny, dear, I'm just so worried… I can't believe this is happening," Molly mumbled in a shaken voice, grasping onto Arthur's arm for support a bit too forcefully. "This is not right. Not right at all…"

"I don't care if he changed or if he's an Order member, I don't think you should stay in his house. Take the keys to our place, rent a room in the Leaky Cauldron, I'll pay for it, just don't…" Hermione stroking hands on his chest hushed Ron gently. He held them closer to his heart and then kissed them softly, smiling at her. He was on a brink of a breakdown. It was impossible for him to believe that his best friend for about two decades, The Boy Who Lived, the one who defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the Gryffindor's Quidditch team star Seeker, a Head Auror, was the same Harry that struck his little sister. It was unbelievable and unsettling and he couldn't quite comprehend the information.

After Ginny's final refusal to stay anywhere but the Malfoy Manor, Molly insisted that at least she should stay for dinner. Realizing then with horror, that she hadn't made any dinner, because of Ginny's visit, she ushered Ginny and Hermione into the kitchen, where they whipped up some sandwiches instead. The rest of the evening was spent in calm atmosphere in the living room, with Ron and Arthur speaking about their days at work and all wordlessly agreeing to ignore the uncomfortable stretches of silence and not to chance glances at Ginny at every given moment.

When Ginny left, Molly was crying. She gave her a box full of the chocolate truffles and forced her to promise that she would visit soon and owl if anything happens. Ginny smiled at her mother, and after bidding farewell to everybody and promising Ron again and again that she wouldn't let Malfoy torment her, she closed the door behind her. Taking a deep breath, she considered Apparating back to the Malfoy Manor instead of flying there, but figured an estate such as that would have magical barriers and wards for miles on end. She tightened the robes around herself, mounted her broom and kicked off, soon speeding in the direction of Malfoy Manor.


Ginny walked into the Manor, careful not to make any loud sounds for some unfathomable reason. To not awaken the ghosts, she reasoned with herself, for it was inescapable to have ghosts in an estate such as this Manor, and no doubt the Malfoy ghosts weren't at all friendly like the ancient Gryffindor ghosts.

She discarded her cloak and the broom to the greeting house-elf and asked him to keep for her the chocolate truffles until the breakfast the next morning. The elf chanced an anxious glance at the living room, and Ginny guessed he was wondering if perhaps it could've somehow displease the Master of the house. Finally deciding that there was no harm done, the elf bowed in front of Ginny and promised to do as asked. Ginny beamed at him thankfully and he, quirking his oddly shaped mouth in a poor imitation of a smile, hurried out of the foyer.

Watching the house elf disappear behind an alcove, she glanced at the living room entrance. She should stay away from Malfoy for the rest of her stay, she really should. There was absolutely nothing to discuss with that man and she wasn't in the right state of mind to listen to his silly scorns regarding her family previous misfortunes. But he was the only person alive in the Manor and if only out of sheer manners she'd have to share some time with him. Why delay the verdict any further?

Running her hands in front of her to smoothen the nonexistent creases on her brown skirt, Ginny headed toward the room she was led to the previous night in a fairly battered shape. Walking in quietly, her eyes instinctively darted to the overstuffed plush armchairs near the Victorian fireplace. Noticing the light silver mane illuminating the left backrest as the flames from the hearth danced on the impossibly beatific strings, she walked over there and wordlessly lowered herself into the chair beside him. A small round table of dark wood stood between them with an odd engraving on its top, and an empty brandy glass and a crafted jagged knife on it. Slowly inhaling, she looked over at the silent wizard, only to notice his eyes once again embedded on the coiling flames.

"I was at the Burrow the whole day," she informed him, immediately wondering why.

A small smirk graced his lips, barely visible in the dimly lit orange haze. "Good for you, Weasley," came the even reply and for a moment the smirk resembled a genuine smile.

Ginny frowned. Why was she here, again?

"How is that red-faced brother of yours? Still a copy boy at the Aurors' Headquarters?”

“No, he is not,” she smothered a scowl, though her voice reflected it perfectly. “He's doing great at work and, in fact, was promoted to a Head of his own division in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. ” Take that, you git!

He barked out in laughter. “Well, what do you know, Peterson was right when he said they're hiring monkeys in the Ministry nowadays, ha!”

Ginny rolled her eyes, decided not to react. The fact that Malfoy had grown into his features and somehow attained a body of a full-grown man apparently did not necessarily mean that he was not the unpleasant child she knew so many years ago. It amazed her actually how he hasn't changed for the most part in these ten years. The last time she saw him, he was a bruised and tattered shadow of his snobby self, lying on an uncomfortable cot in the Hogwarts Hospital Wing, a few days after the Final Battle. She remembered feeling an odd pang of guilt when she was finally able to leave after her own injuries healed and she looked at him, still looking as horrible as he did when Neville and Seamus dragged him out of the Chamber. She could also remember him fighting alongside Ron and Harry against the countless Death Eaters, against his own father, against his own beliefs. She remembered being confused by him and sometimes wondering what was it that made him stand against everything he was raised on. She remembered hoping that he would heal soon and despite his spiteful words, she remembered hoping he wasn't in too much pain.

Frowning, she wondered why she remembered it anyway.

An elf scampered into the living room, carrying a woven basket overflowing with fruits on top of his slightly flat head. He offered the basket to Draco and waited while the Master did his pick. Draco chose a big green apple, absently offering a red one to Ginny and dismissing the elf after she declined. He picked up the small jagged knife from the table between them and started peeling the fruit silently, guiding it expertly into a single green spiral.

"So did he finally get that know-it-all he'd been pining about? That mu--uggle-born, Granger, was it?”

Ginny watched Draco quietly as his slender fingers orbed around the large apple and carved it craftily with his knife. She watched as the apple peel descended slowly and couldn't help but to remember the almost forgotten evenings of her childhood, when her father carved an apple with the same excellence, always giving her the peel and telling her stories for hours in front of the blazing hearth.

She couldn't suppress a smile and a chuckle escaped her at the memory. “Yes, actually. But both of them were so horrible about admitting their feelings, it took fatal injury to finally force them together…”

“Lovely,” he murmured absently, obviously not paying an ounce of attention to her words.

She rolled her eyes again. “Why ask if you're in the least interested?”

“Because you have the tendency to screw your face unattractively when you think and I wanted to spare myself the sight,” she replied even, carefully drawing the apple peel to its end. “Don't stress your brain too much, Weasley, you'll damage yourself. ”

Finishing peeling the apple, he tossed the knife and the apple peel carelessly onto the table, returning to his newspaper that was forgotten a while ago and sinking his teeth deep into the flesh of the apple.

“I see you've been following your own advice for the better part of your life,” Ginny shot back, eyeing the apple peel warily, contemplating whether she should give in to the primal instinct and take it.

“Yes, of course, Weasley. That is why I live in a mansion, run a disgustingly successful corporation and have more money than a Goblin would care to count. Because I am inexcusably daft,” Draco rolled his eyes exaggeratedly and snorted, not even sparing her a glance.

“You can't possibly be thinking that you've achieved everything there is if you have loads of Galleons, Malfoy. Not even you are that… hopeless. ”

“Don't give me the 'Money can't buy happiness' bit, Weasley. That sentence was first spoken by someone who obviously didn't have the right amount of it,” Draco spoke softly into his newspaper, biting into the sour-sweet apple flesh with a loud crunch when he finished.

Why do I even try to reason with him? He's a Malfoy! Ginny sighed deeply, finally losing the battle against her logic and reaching out to pick the peel up. She glance at it for a moment, feeling the smooth green texture of its one side and the grainy texture of the other side, before silently beginning to munch on it while slipping her gaze onto the fire.

Draco cocked a surprised eyebrow, obviously watching the occurrence from his peripheral vision and turned to look at Ginny, the smooth pale forehead slightly distorted as he frowned. Ginny, however, seemed to be oblivious to this attention and lost somewhere in the depths of her mind, which required him to cough subtly into his fist in order to bring her back. "I offered you an apple, why didn't you take it if you wanted?"

She blinked slowly against the flames and turned to look back at him. "Because I didn't want one," she replied simply, grinding the peel with her teeth.

"But you are eating a peel," Draco stated, wondering if it was possible for her not to notice that bit.

"I like apple peels," she quipped, allowing herself a small smile at Draco's obvious confusion.

Draco frowned again at her, but dismissed it with a shrug and resettled back into his armchair, flipping the newspaper open again. He sat silently for a few moments, his eyes fixated on the same word as he tried to recollect the oddly scattered thoughts. Chancing a glance at the still visible green apple peel in between Ginny's lips, he snapped his head back at her, staring with narrowed eyes.

"But it's a peel," he insisted.

"It's a very tasty peel," replied Ginny. “You should try it someday…”

Draco straightened in his armchair, shifting his weight to the other armrest. "I don't think so. Though I can understand how you, as a Weasley, might enjoy the leftovers," he sneered, returning to the paper.

Ginny snapped out of her memory haze and scowled at him. "What is wrong with you?"

Draco arched a brow, his exterior chilling in an instant and his grey eyes losing the warmth from the fire. "Is that a rhetorical question?" That was a rhetorical question.

"No," Ginny replied nonetheless. "I really want to know. "

"There is nothing wrong with me, Weasley. Just because I do not enjoy feasting out of a garbage bins--”

“You are insufferable!” she almost shrieked through the rising annoyance. “Money does not determine anything about a person as a person and you have no right to judge others without having a decent clue about them!”

“Everything I need to know about a person I can deduct from the way they carry themselves. Don't take it personally, Weasley, but I am usually very selective when it comes to whom I prefer to spend my time with. ”

"I see… that is why you are twenty-seven years old, haven't been married and currently live alone in your ancestral Manor?"

Draco's face immediately undertook the most disgusted sneer he could muster. He glared at the youngest Weasley, clenching his jaws rigidly and fisting his hands against the newspaper edges, controlling the indignant urge to hex her into oblivion. "My personal life in none of your business," he hissed finally, his voice managing to sound even yet all the more unnerving. .

"So is mine," she bit back furiously despite the desperate knot unfurling at the bottom of her stomach. "So stop commenting about my family's former financial difficulties!"

He paused for a moment, jutting his jaw to a side with a quirk. Glancing at her, he blinked lazily against her rage, showing her that he was not in th least affected, and when he spoke finally his voice was as frigid and as biting as they came. "This is my house and I shall speak of whatever I please. And as long as you are my guest, you will tolerate this. "

Ginny expression changed to one of shock as she backed away slightly, glaring back at him. "No,” she assured him through gritted teeth, her eyes spitting fire. “I won't," she said finally and stood up, storming out of the living room and heading to her small bedchamber on the first floor in order to lock herself in and curse Draco Malfoy to hell and back on the spikiest, most malfunctioning broom there ever was.

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