A/N – Modified on 25th November, 2005.
Disclaimer – I don’t own HP. Don’t sue me.
Ginny watched in paralysed shock as Draco walked away.
He was…he was leaving! He was actually walking away from the house, from the gathering inside, and from everything he could have been and done…
He was walking away from her.
Suddenly the paralysis eased and she regained her voice. “Wait!” she shouted, leaping up off the bench and running after him. “Wait! Draco, stop!”
Twenty-five metres away, he turned to face her, his expression arrogant and indifferent, so devoid of its normal subtle humour that it actually hurt.
“What are you doing? Why are you leaving?”
With his hands shoved into the pockets of his black robes, his fair hair drifting in the evening breeze, he looked remote, forbidding and untouchable. “Don’t you know?”
“No,” she said, still advancing, beginning to find her own anger now. “No, I don’t. I thought you understood, that you thought the same way I did.”
He laughed again, that same harsh, bitter laugh that had so shocked her before. “Well, you thought wrong, didn’t you? Whatever gave you the idea that I agreed to come back, that I wanted to be forced back into Gryffindor’s mould in a society that despises me and all that I stand for?”
“Then help me to understand, Draco. If everyone is telling you what to do, what do you want to do? What will it take to make you stay?”
There was a moment of complete silence, long enough to become aware of the rapidly cooling temperature, of the almost vanished light and the first appearance of the evening star on the horizon. He looked at her – they were only five metres apart, now – and smiled wryly, crookedly, his eyes dark and defeated.
“Don’t ask me to stay, Ginny, unless you want more from me than duty. I won’t stay for a cause, or a country, or even a legacy,” he paused, and then drew close enough so that he could touch her hair, “but I’ll stay for you.”
She looked up into his eyes, her own eyes very wide and wary. “For…me?”
“Tell me that you want me to stay, not Blaise or your father. Tell me that you want me to stay for your own sake, because you want more out of our marriage than my name, my protection, and my money.”
“But…” she swallowed, trying to think, “I’ve already accepted I’ll never have…”
“I know what you said. You’ll settle for what you can get of me. But, Ginny, tell me that you want that simple, homely house and the family you dreamed of, and that you want them with me. And then I’ll stay…”
It took Zabini four hours to find him. Draco looked up from his Ogden’s, a quizzical half-smile on his face as he saw Blaise exchange words and a glint of gold with old Tom, who was only too willing to point out his table in the corner.
“You’re late,” was all he said, as Blaise settled into a chair across from him. “I thought you’d be much quicker.”
“You’re leaving,” Blaise countered. “I didn’t expect that.”
“No?” Draco took another sip. “Perhaps you should have. You tried hard enough to prevent it.”
“Where will you go? You’ve made too many enemies, turned too many coats – you’ll be torn apart.”
“There are too many memories here, Blaise. Too many echoes and shadows, and nothing to replace them with – duty isn’t enough. There’s nothing to fight for, no meaning to it…”
Blaise frowned. “I thought – Ginny…?”
“She, too, speaks of duty.” He laughed. “Perhaps I should not be too surprised – neither of us particularly wished to marry.”
“But you wish it was more.”
Draco looked at him. Once, long ago, he and Blaise had shared everything – he wondered just how much the other man had changed, whether anything of that old friendship remained, under the skin of a man of power.
“Powerful as we wizards are, Blaise, none of us can yet command the human heart.” He shrugged, deliberately draining the last of the tankard. “Not Voldemort, not you, and most definitely not I.”
Blaise sighed. He knew Draco, knew that he could not be pushed any further. “No, I suppose not. So that’s it? You’re leaving?”
Draco nodded. “There’s no reason to stay, nothing to hold me here, and nothing to draw me back.” He stood up, tossed a few knuts on the table. Blaise followed suit, and there was a moment of awkward silence before they shook hands, and Draco walked off.
Blaise watched him. He did not look back.
A week later, Ginny sat at the kitchen table in the Burrow, watching her mother bustle about making tea. Even now that her father was the Minister of Magic, earning more money than he ever had before, her parents still lived simply, their house a haven of welcoming warmth and kindness. Ginny had slunk back home the day after Draco had walked out, leaving her with an incomprehensible ultimatum – Molly had asked no questions but welcomed her back with a warm hug and a hearty Weasley dinner.
For what seemed the first time, Ginny truly looked at her mother through clear, objective eyes. Molly Weasley was stout and matronly, full of simple, homely wisdom. She was not beautiful, or powerful, or sophisticated, but she was content – she had her house, her husband, and her children and grandchildren, and she wanted nothing more out of life.
She was steady, in a way that Draco would never be, in a way – Ginny was beginning to realize – that she, herself, would never be either. She looked down at her exquisitely manicured nails, at her silk robes, and realized that she would never have the Burrow – she would never have the simple, homely house she’d dreamed of as a young girl.
Neither she nor Draco were meant to be content, as Molly was content, with raising children and bustling about in the kitchen, or pottering about filling time with hobbies and only reluctantly accepting power. Draco was a Malfoy, and so, perforce, was she – and the Malfoy had shaped and ruled this country for centuries, with their particular gifts and brilliance.
Draco could no more escape the legacy of his name than she could free herself of their marriage. She was bound to him, and he was bound to his heritage –
But cold, bloodless duty was not enough, for passionate Draco. It would never be enough, unless he also had a dream, something to give it meaning –
“… Tell me that you want that simple, homely house and the family you dreamed of, and that you want them with me…”
“I’ll stay for you.”
Something to give it meaning.
She stood up.
Molly looked at her, questioning –
“I’ve got to find him,” she said abruptly. “I’ve got to tell him…”
What was her dream of a simple, homely house without love? What would the Burrow be, without the love her parents shared? A grand, influential destiny was nothing, if he had no one to share it with…
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