Disclaimer: Okay, I always forget about these things. Listen up, this is NOT MINE! I'm just using the characters for my own twisted pleasure. Dance, puppets, dance!

Author's Notes: All the thanks go to Skye for her betaing assistance. Thanks, bebah! ^_^

4 :: Armaund Café

A timid knock echoed in Tomas Brooks' office a moment before Ginny opened the door and stepped in. She searched the office for Brooks' penetrating green gaze that she expected to be drilling into her mind, but found him hunched over some papers on his desk, not noticing, or most probably, ignoring her. Penny, the secretary, just announced Ginny's arrival mere minutes ago right in front of her. Why on earth was he playing as if he didn't know she was standing right there?

She remained silent, waiting for him to raise his eyes up at her or at least give some indication that he was aware of her presence. But he kept his posture studiously unflinching, though Ginny caught a sight of his glare darting at her from under the black lashes. Sick of being silent and realizing this daft game might take all day, she cleared her throat loudly and watched him finally avert his eyes from the - blank, she noticed - papers.

Tomas Brooks, former Slytherin and now the Daily Prophet's editor, allowed himself to remain silent for a long time, while his eyes slid up and down Ginny's dainty frame. His black hair was slickly combed back, his clothes as tidy and well suited as always and his fair features, sculpted so expertly to resemble an ancient Greek beauty, were twisted into that familiar Slytherin sneer, though it did not deprive from - and perhaps even added to - his sheer attractiveness.

Ginny knew him since she first came into the Daily Prophet's editorial, her mind still fresh and keen from the cross-Europe trip and heart blooming with countless possibilities of changing the world. He had never paid her much attention when she was hired as a junior copywriter and mostly regarded her with cold politeness a true British gentleman regards a stranger. It was only when she got utterly sick of being bossed around by idiots who didn't have an ounce of writing ability or style in their blood, that she slipped one of her own articles about the speculated machinations in the 'Department of Magical Games and Sports' into Brooks' editing stack and got his individual attention.

He was, of course, the typical Slytherin, never admitting to her that he was intrigued or pleased while offering her a junior reporter position. But he personally edited her articles and after only a short while as a trainee, was giving her bigger assignments than most novices got. As the time passed and she became a permanent member of the journalistic staff, she even noticed he seemed to be personally offended on the rare occasions when she did not live up to her usual standards.

This was why she knew persuading him into rehiring her would be so easy. Over the past six years he had become something she dared calling an acquaintance and she was sure that her departure had affected the editorial and perhaps even him. Yeah, maybe even the sales dropped… she halted suddenly at that thought and scolded herself for such uncharacteristic pompousness. Oh my god, I've got Malfoy-ish thoughts… help!

"Mrs. Potter… how strange to see you," Tomas proclaim in an exasperating casualty, leaning back on his leather chair, perching his feet on top of the writing desk made of dark polished wood and steepling his fingers together. "I was quite sure you forgot your way back to the offices. "

Ginny narrowed her eyes momentarily at the reference of that particular surname, but washed away the expression quickly, sitting down on the chair in front of him. "Mr. Brooks," she smiled curtly. "No, I haven't forgotten my way--”

"Well, you might as well have," he cut her off suddenly, his cold green eyes flashing with something eager and unfamiliar, though his whole exterior continued being cool and collected.

Ginny paused mid air, scanning the handsome editor, her eyes lingering on his tensed fingers that were now clutched together. Tomas was well trained, as many other Slytherins, to hide his emotions under the cool facade and he was somewhat perfect at that, except for the little twitch in his fingers that seemed to give it all away.

Ginny decided to let the comment slide and opened her mouth again to finish what she was saying. "I scheduled an appointment to see you so we could discuss my return to the Daily Prophet's staff."

Tomas raised an eyebrow in an almost amused manner. "You did? Well than, I'm afraid you have wasted your time, because the issue is not open for discussion. Now, if you don't mind to closing the door on your wa-- "

"Excuse me, but that is unacceptable," Ginny stated firmly.

Tomas' eyes flashed once again with some unrecognizable heat that could've easily make Ginny recoil in her seat. But she maintained her poise, evenly staring him straight in his honey-coated jade eyes.

"Unacceptable, it is?" In one fluid motion he withdrew his feet back onto the floor and placed his slender fingers on the top of his desk, slowly rising to his feet in an obvious attempt to loom over her. "Would you like me to share with you my version of 'unacceptable', Mrs. Potter?" he paused for a moment, but obviously wasn't waiting for her reply. "I deem 'unacceptable' the fact that an employee of mine had the sheer audacity to disappear completely for over a month. Forgetting about obligations, dead lines and an editorial article that was bestowed upon her as a gift from above. Forgetting about her responsibilities to this newspaper, this staff, to herself and most of all - to me!"

He paused for a moment, staring intently into her hazel eyes and Ginny deemed this as the opportunity to speak up, but was cut off abruptly when he spoke again. "This, Mrs. Potter, is what really is unacceptable. You were granted those responsibilities and were expected to take care of them, but instead you were revealed as a disappointment," he finished, lowering himself back into his chair, and grabbed some papers, keenly organizing them.

Ginny sighed, for a moment afraid the infamous Weasley temper would have the last word. But she clenched her hand into a tight fist and that seemed to calm her down a bit. "Mr. Brooks, I understand that what I've done was completely irresponsible and utterly unprofessional, but lately I was just preoccupied with a personal matter that required some time away from the editorial. But now that the matter is taken care of - " she lied lightly, " - I assure you my work will not suffer anymore. I oblige all of my time to the editorial and I promise you, you won't regret hiring me back," she finished, quite satisfied with her little speech. But the chill wafting from Tomas was enough to send her into uncertainly again.

Tomas narrowed his eyes, gazing at her for a long while. "A good journalist never allows her personal matters to reflect on her work, Mrs. Potter," he said quite calmly, but Ginny couldn't help but notice a tiny crack in his expression. Was that concern? "Let it be a lesson learned," he said finally and returned to the papers, waving his hand at her dismissively.

Ginny made a gesture to stand up, then stopped in her tracks, confused. "Does this mean you give me my job back?" she asked hopefully.

Tomas raised his bleak green eyes to bore into her, his nostrils flared and Ginny suddenly had the feeling he might shout. "No, Mrs. Potter,” his voice was calm, though. “I will not rehire you because you promise me you won't do it again. You are not five years old child, who can squirm his way out of a mess with big pleading eyes and a coy smile," he spat out, his eyes glistening venomously.

Ginny hardened her posture, glaring at her angered editor as he referred to her speech as an attempt to squirm her way out of a mess. "If you're implying that I elaborated my reasons for my latter absence--"

"I do not imply a thing, Mrs. Potter. Now would you do me a favour and leave my office? I have plenty of work to do and if I'm not mistaken…" he paused, glancing at her with a smirk. "The entrance is for members of the staff only, so you are trespassing…"

Ginny's eyes widened in rage as she felt her self-control crack completely. "You have absolutely no right to fire me! I was absent for 36 days that can be easily deducted as sick days or as a vacation since I haven't had one or taken the others in three years! I am the best damn journalist you have and I will not allow you to discard me like this! I demand the proper respect and immediate rehiration!"

Tomas raised an unnerved eyebrow, momentarily noticing the sudden silence from the usually buzzing editorial outside of his office. He leisurely pulled out his wand and muttering something under his breath, the room was covered with magical silencing field, guaranteeing that those beyond the editor's offices wouldn't hear a single word. He waited a moment longer until the editorial reclaimed its' usual buzz and averted his attention to the flushed redhead in front of him. He stared at her wordlessly, as if assessing her or trying to read beneath her furious rind, but was unable as Ginny's doe-like eyes became as cold and steely as Malfoy's.

"Rehiration is not a word," he said casually after an excruciatingly long pause.

Ginny felt her cheeks burn more fiercely when his calmness and amendment reverberated like a stinging slap to her face. She was about to open her mouth once again to let out another flow of shouting - most probably obscenities - but he stopped her before she began with a swift motion of his hand.

"I understand your agitation, Mrs. Potter," there was something strange in the way he pronounced the surname, hissing or spitting it out, Ginny wasn't sure. "But my mind is set. You will not receive your former position as a journalist on this staff. And," he added, seeing Ginny's eyes dart to his withdrawn wand, as if reading her thoughts, "I would solicit you to refrain from cursing or hexing, since that'll be quite hard to perform without your wand and mine will backfire, I can assure you."

Ginny glared at him indignantly, berating herself for being so transparent with her malicious wishes, and huffed indignantly before hurrying out of the office and slamming the door behind her so hard, it partly flew off its' hinges.

============================ ------------------------------------------- ============================

Ginny stormed down Diagon Alley's main streets, tightening the robes around herself hastily and glaring dangerously at all the pedestrians that dared to cross her in her foul mood. She had been mumbling to herself even since she left Tomas's office, cursing and sputtering spiteful words, wishing she could just wrap her long fingers around that git's neck and wring it!

He had never acted so hateful and malevolent with her and she was utterly taken aback by his sudden atrociousness. She was so sure she had this in the bag, she never even considered the possibility that he might decline her. And he was so mad at her, so angry, as if she disappeared intentionally just to spite him, so he was punishing her for something way serious and hideous than taking this unexpected "vacation".

How dare that Slytherin prat do this to me? she fumed to herself, slicing her way through the thickening crowds. Damn it, I'm his best reporter! What the hell was he thinking to himself? He cannot afford himself to lose me--oh hush, humbleness!

She stopped abruptly, her eyes still spitting fire, when she noticed the familiar sign just above her head - Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions. She scowled to herself, absently patting her pockets in search for the purse Malfoy left her this morning, and deepened the frown when she finally found it. Growling dangerously just because she felt like it, she stomped into the shop, her eyes darting around for the cheeky seamstress.

"Mrs. Potter!" the chipper voice carried to her from the back room of the shop as the small, plump older witch stepped out to greet her with the widest and the most pleasant smile Ginny had seen in a while. "How absolutely delightful to see you again!"

Ginny felt the anger slowly seep away as she smiled to Madam Malkin and inclined her head curtly, "Good afternoon, Madam Malkin."

Madam Malkin lead her deeper into the shop, ushering her to the expensive robes' section. "I know the perfect textile for your new robes, I just had it delivered this morning, I'll show you right now. Mr. Malfoy was here in the morning and informed me of your arrival, so I took the initiative and had already chosen the colours that would go absolutely stunning with your red locks. Oh, such a pretty mop of hair! You know, when I was younger I once bewitched my hair to be exactly the same shade, but, alas, it did not suit my complexion…"

Ginny wanted to shoot the cheerful seamstress a dry glare. Was she kidding? Her head was still flaming the same acid red caused by their brothers' stupid prank candy, and Ginny was quite sure she could easily glow in the dark. The hair already gained her few gawks, stares and whispered sniggering. But she was sure the shopkeeper meant nothing malicious by her words and let it slide. Suddenly, though, something suddenly caught on with her. "Excuse me, Mr. Malfoy informed you of my arrival?" Ginny began to feel the same anger that overtook her this morning boil it's way outwards. She stared at Madam Malkin intently, waiting for her reply, inwardly hoping she misheard.

"Well, yes!" the witch replied cheerfully, apparently oblivious to Ginny's inner rage. "He told me you were coming today, said that you might look reluctant, but that should disregard that and show you only the finest and the most expensive robes I have in my store. I, of course, wasn't that pleased about the 'disregard' part, but when a man like Draco Malfoy tells you to offer only the best, you tend to comply…" she trailed off, sharing a secretive wink with Ginny. Giggling jubilantly to herself, Madam Malkin hurried into the back room and carried back a heap of the most luxurious robes and fabrics Ginny had ever seen.

But she was too furious by now to actually notice any of it as Madam Malkin flashed them before her eyes, babbling to herself nonstop. Ginny's jaws were clenched as she stared onwards, her nails digging into the flesh of her palms and she wondered how the hell she happened upon two Slytherin gits, allowing them to ruin her day. And it started so nice in the twins' shop too, she thought to herself miserably.

Finally, taking a deep breath and averting her attention to the chirpy witch that continued flashing the fine fabrics in front of her, she glanced at the prices and her eyes widen. "Madam Malkin, am I buying robes or small islands?" She knew it was quite rude, but she couldn't stop herself from blurting it out.

Madam Malkin seemed confused, as she didn't understand this particular quip. "Er, robes, dear. Are you feeling well?"

As well as one can be in my situation, she thought to herself, shaking out of it and giving the seamstress a reassuring smile. "I guess I'm a little bit tired, I apologize. I missed breakfast today…"

"Oh you shouldn't do it, dear! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! And it's almost lunchtime now," the witch preached concernedly. "Anyway, about this robe… I was thinking we could tighten it a bit in the waist area, since you have such lovely curves…"

Ginny smiled at the compliment, but stopped Madam Malkin from further discussions. "I'm sorry, Madam Malkin, but I'm afraid Mr. Malfoy gave you the wrong impression when he came by earlier. I did not come here to buy expensive robes, nor custom made ones. I'm here to buy just few plain everyday robes and some clothes."

Madam Malkin looked as though Ginny had slapped her across her face with those words. She recovered quickly tough, taking away the costly robes and materials, and lead Ginny to the stack of everyday robes, continuing her casual chatter.

When Ginny finally left Madam Malkin's shop, she was carrying two bags filled with simple and satisfying clothes and robes. She smiled to herself, content at the fact that she managed to spend less than half of what Malfoy had left her, though she had no idea why she was so pleased about it. She shrugged sheepishly and glanced at her watch. She had spent a whole hour at the robe shop and now she could clearly hear her stomach rumbling sulkily. She turned to the direction of the Leaky Cauldron, wishing to get from there to Malfoy Manor as soon as she could. She was getting cold, hungry and tired and she decided she had enough excitement for one day.

============================ ------------------------------------------- ============================

Ginny passed down the overcrowded streets, smiling peacefully to herself and those that brushed past her. Her mood was now much better than when she had left Daily Prophet's editorial and she was cheered up by the thought of returning to the Manor and changing out of her clothes. Oh, how she longed for the day she could change out of these close…

Passed by a small cozy café, she didn't give it more than the casual glance of a pedestrian and was about to continue onwards, when she heard someone's rushing steps behind her. Heart leaping into irrational dread, she squared her shoulders and clutched her bags tighter, preparing herself to whack whoever it was senseless.

She whipped her head around and what she faced made her feel something even worse than the foolish fear. When she saw a waiter from the little café run over to her side, taking his time to catch his breath in the crisp autumn air, she felt hot flashes of embarrassment creep up her neck. She was beginning to develop a serious case of paranoia and she knew it couldn't be all that good.

She waited for the waiter to straighten up and face her with a flushed smile. "You got some legs on you, Miss," he said jokingly, but seeing Ginny's blush deepen, he hurried to correct himself. "I meant that you walk very quickly! I wasn't saying that you have beautiful legs," he paused, blushing himself. "Not that there is something wrong with your legs! I'm sure they're very nice--legs-- I haven't even seen your legs!" he blurted in panic, his voice hitching desperately. Feeling his cheeks burn furiously and the heat creeping up to his ears, he tried to again. "Not that I ask you to show me your legs, I wasn't-- I-- oh bugger!" he slumped his head dejectedly, feeling defeated.

Ginny's blush softened and she laughed at the young man's attempt to amend himself. "It's okay. Just stop talking for a minute, gather your thoughts and then try again," she coached him warmly. Her heart went out to the young man since she knew all too well the blushing and rambling as she had experienced all that on herself before. She watched him take a deep breath and give her a grateful smile when he spoke again.

"My name is Derek, I am a waiter in the 'Armaund Café'. And I was asked by Master Malfoy to invite you to join him for lunch," he said in the perfect manner, adding proudly to himself. "Yeah…"

Ginny's features stiffened immediately at the mention of Draco's name and she scowled unconsciously. That prat wants me to dine with him? He cannot be serious! I can't believe that git! Then, suddenly noticing the surprised look on Derek's face, she softened her eyes and smiled at him. "Please tell Malfoy that he is the most stupid, obnoxious and detestable being, and if he really thinks for even one moment that I wi-- you know what, I'll tell him myself!" she said, turning around completely and marching in the direction of the small café with Derek at her heels.

She walked into the warm establishment, scanning the room for the familiar white-blonde hair, finally spotting him in the outmost secluded part of the room. Derek curtly took her bags and cloak away, then escorted her to Malfoy's table. Ginny kept her gaze away from him while Derek offered her a chair and asked what would she order, since Draco apparently just ordered and was waiting for his meal. She was about to decline when Malfoy cut in non-too patiently, ordering for her the same as he was having and dismissing Derek with an irritated wave of his hand.

Ginny glared at the fair-haired man across the table, who was extremely interested with his own glass of water. "That," she hissed at him. "Was uncalled for. I am not staying, as I'm not hungry," she proclaimed.

“Merlin's beard, Weasley! What on earth happened to your hair?!” he sound incredulous, amused and shocked all at once, ignoring her attempt to decline the invitation, and Ginny couldn't help the crimson that crept across her face, eager to match her lurid hair.

“Nothing,” she grumbled, glaring daggers

"You're a terrible liar, Weasley," he stated, his steely eyes gleaming.

"You're repeating yourself, Malfoy," Ginny countered calmly, hoping she would be able to control her temper at least now. He didn't deserve her lashing out and she never could understand how exactly he always managed to cause her stoic to crack.

Draco paused for a moment, his smirk comfortably crowning his handsome features. "Well, wouldn't want that, would we?" he chuckled, obviously deciding to drop her hair.

Ginny couldn't help herself from rolling her eyes. Who do you think you are, you idiot?

"So," he drawled in a bored manner, his lips quirking into a shadow of a smirk. "By the bags you carried in, I take it that you took up the opportunity to spend my money…"

Ginny felt a small flush trace its' way up her neck and down her ears. Gods, please make it legal to wring people's necks if they're asking for it, she prayed silently, sensing her anger slowly simmering up. She grabbed the purse from her pocket and tossed it across the table. Luckily it didn't land on his plate, which would've probably broken it. She watched him scan the purse with one perfectly shaped brow raised up in surprise.

"So, the Weasley pride didn't allow you to succumb yourself to the mercy of your worst enemy," he said, his smirk turning into a sneer. "Fine, walk in your rags…"

Ginny raised both her eyebrows at his reply, tilting her head to the side. Are you kidding me? Is he offended?

"What?" he snapped irritably.

"Are you hurt I didn't use your money?" she asked him finally.

He glared at her with disbelief and snorted. "Please! I couldn't care less, Weasley. I just thought you'd like to get our of those clothes, but I guess you're used to wearing the same garments for weeks on end…"

Ginny clenched her fists again, feeling the anger slip up another notch, preparing to overflow her rational thinking again. "I cannot believe you are the same hateful childish brat you were in school," she hissed at him. "Why can't you grow up, Malfoy? Why can't you, for once in your miserable life, just shut your mouth if you haven't anything besides insults to say?"

"Because then I wouldn't be able to talk to most of the riffraff that surrounds me, Weasley," he intoned evenly.

Ginny glared at him and heaved an angry quivering sigh. "I don't understand you, Malfoy," she declared suddenly, her voice soft and inquiring. "You fought against the Dark Lord, you've helped out Harry in the Final Battle, you've risked your own life for my father's… why the hell are you still acting like the Death Eater's son?!” she was becoming frustrated, though she wasn't quite sure he was fully responsible for her peaky state. "I-- I just don't understand you…"

"It is not your place to understand me, little weasel," he countered, smirking at her in amusement.

"And whose place is it, then? One of your shrewish lady-friends?”

Draco snorted as a reply and leaned onto the table, tipping his head closer to hers. "Is that jealousy I detect in your voice? "

In an instant Ginny looked appalled and any desire her stomach might've expressed mere moments before was thwarted by the idea. "And you expect me to eat after such a question?"

Draco smirked at her reply, leaning back again. "Touché, Weasel…"

There was a silence for a moment and Draco scowled to himself. Ginny raised an eyebrow, but he ignored her silent inquiry.

"So what was in those bags you carried in?" he asked indifferently when was finally sick of the silence.

"Some robes and clothes," Ginny said casually, tilting her water glass from side to side, watching the water swirl around.

Draco narrowed his eyes a little, scanning her neutral expression. "I thought you didn't use my money…"

"I never said such a thing," she countered evenly, watching him clench his jaws in what seemed to Ginny as an attempt to hold himself back. "I just didn't buy the expensive robes you prodded Madam Malkin into offering me."

He did not reply, just watched her more closely as she sipped her water, glancing over her shoulder towards the kitchen and wondering what was taking so long with their meals. Just as if on cue, Derek returned, carefully carrying two plates with the best-looking pasta Ginny had ever seen. She gave Malfoy a surprised look and smiled at Derek, thanking him politely.

What was she expecting of a typical Malfoy lunch? Well, definitely not pasta, she was sure about that. She thought there might be more blood to it; perhaps even some virgin's vital organs or body parts. This? This almost put Malfoy in a human light. Almost.

"So what did you do today?" he inquired quite indifferently, his features expressionless as he picked up his fork. "Reread your books for the tenth time?"

Ginny eyed him over her plate. "How do you know what I do in my spare time?"

He smirked at his plate, busying himself with the food. "I know everything that's going on in my house, Weasel…"

Ginny shuddered at that. There was something in his intonation that inclined she had nowhere to hide, not even in her own mind. She decided not to reply to this comment and just returned to her meal for the time being. A silence spread between them, but Ginny couldn't call it awkward or stressful, since he wasn't someone she felt awkward or stressed about. She knew very clearly about what she had felt for the man in front of her. She also knew that most of it was hammered into her mind by her older brothers and later on proofed to be absolutely true, except one thing - he wasn't the evil incarnate. He was just a very pompous, spiteful and indignant five-year-old; quite like her own brothers at times, but she resounded that thought only to herself - she needn't have her brothers out for her blood.

"I went to the editorial today to ask Brooks for my job back… I work as a journalist for the Daily Prophet," she added to clarify, knowing Malfoy probably had no idea about her current occupation.

“Considering the fact that I scan that paper from cover to cover everyday, I have to say that I knew that already,” he droned, taking a sip of the offered wine.

Ginny blinked, then nodded. So he did know… "He refused though," she said around her spaghetti, resettling into silence with a frown as thoughts of Tomas' inevitable painful death flashed through her mind.

Draco was silent and Ginny didn't think he's react to her words, so it startled her a bit when he intoned offhandedly, "Tomas Brooks?"

"Uh, yes. He's my editor," she said almost evenly and glanced at Draco for a moment. His face was bleak and so were his eyes. It seemed he hadn't spoken at all and she just deemed to hear him. She shook her head and wordlessly finished her meal, disposing any further attempts at speaking with him.

When they'd both finished their meals, Draco beckoned their waiter to bring the check and when that returned, Draco reached out the leather bound notepad to Ginny and quirked up an eyebrow. "Would you mind?" he leered maliciously, watching her face shroud in deep crimson shade yet again and releasing a mean cackle to himself as he reached into his pockets for his purse. He paid the bill and eyed Ginny superiorly. Ginny couldn't miss the sudden uplift in his mood.

"I couldn't help myself," he commented almost sheepishly.

"I do not appreciate the remarks or actions such as this one, Malfoy," Ginny hissed at him, feeling her anger return full force.

"Yes, well, you seem to find the perfect way to avoid them," he pointed out, reaching out his long, pianist's fingers to wrap around the stem of his wine glass and bringing it closer to his lips. "By avoiding me," he added above the crystal rim.

Suddenly through an odd wave of horror, Ginny found herself unable to tear her eyes away from the man in front of her, namely his lips. Those finely shaped pale lips, curved tentatively to accommodate and please his numerous drunken giggling conquests. Her eyes slipped from his upper lip to the bottom, noticing the slight arch at the lower part of his upper lip and the soft camber of his lower one. Those lips seemed so gentle and tender, Ginny had a hard time admitting that they belonged to this cruel man.

Ginny, honey, you've been cooped up in that Manor for way too long… She closed her eyes and gingerly shook her head, tired for some reason.

"Well, what would you suggest me to do, then? Stick around you and listen passively while you insult my family? I know you know nothing about me, Malfoy, but even you know better than to expect me to act timidly when you trash my family," she spat at him, hoping to sound as venomous as he.

Malfoy was quiet for a long while, glaring intently at Ginny. "If you actually expect me to act differently just because you're staying in the Manor, you have another thing coming, little weasel," he said slowly, as stating nothing more, but a simple fact.

Ginny narrowed her eyes, her mind seething with sudden anger and rage. She spoke out, still trying to control herself as much as possible. "You are nothing, but a horrid child, Draco Malfoy! You are an insufferable git and I wish I'd never had the misfortune of meeting you!"

"Oh, you do, do you?" he hissed, leaning closer to her again, his face crowned with an unpleasant sneer. "And what would have happened to the little rodent, have I not happened on her way that fateful evening?”

Ginny blanched.

“I'll tell you what would've happened,” he pressed, finding delight in her reaction. “You would've returned to your home sweet home and allowed the not-so-saint Potter to grovel for forgiveness in an utterly and disgustingly sappy way, which you would've believed because you are so idiotically in love with the lowlife. What you don't know is that he would've struck again, I can assure you, and the next time you might've not survived his tantrum. And still,” his voice was losing its permanent nonchalant note, becoming pregnant with loathing and disdain one barely was able to harbor without exploding, which he did now.

Still! You wouldn't have left him, because you would've continued believing that he truly is sorry, that it really isn't him who strikes you, that he could never ever do something like that! And maybe, most probably, most definitely, you might've even started blaming yourself! Thinking that he couldn't have ever done something as horrible as hitting his lovely little wife if she had done everything right! And maybe you haven't done everything right? Maybe it really is your fault he decided to pummel you?!” the last words were barked out, finally drawing attention of the other patrons, while he continued to steadfastly glare at her.

Ginny gaped at the shouting wizard, watching his fair skin undertake the loveliest shades of scarlet and the chords in his throat straining under his tirade. Glaring, she tried to ignore the terrible tremble in her hands and lips and narrowed her eyes dangerously, nostrils flaring and fists clenching tightly.

"Why you little--“ she bit her tongue before saying anything else. Her hand subconsciously rampaged her pockets, but she once again realized her wand was not with her. Her throat tightened painfully and she felt her eyes begin to sting. Clamping her mouth shut, she sprung up so swiftly that her chair flew back and hurried away from that heartless man. Grabbing her robes and bags at the entrance she did not glance aback when she ran out of the café, cursing the fair-haired man with all her might.

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