The Broken Road, Chapter 13 :: Accord
“Neville, do you think that people don’t get married because they’re afraid of things staying the same?” Ginny asked, staring down into her drink. Neville blinked in surprise and took another swallow of fire whiskey before he answered her.
“That’s an odd question to be asking,” he said finally, giving her a thoughtful look. “I would think that people get married because they love their significant other, and it brings a sort of comfort to be able to have things stay the same.”
“But what about the people who need variety?” she insisted, glancing up at him.
“Those people don’t really need variety, Gin. They’ve somehow managed to convince themselves that something better than what they’ve got exists out there, and they want to find it. Once they’ve got it, though, it becomes routine just like the things they’ve left behind, and they move on to the next new thing.”
“So you’re saying that it’s the thrill of the hunt, and not the capture?”
“Exactly. Those people will become sort of serial creatures – they’ll leave their current lover and move on to the next and the next and the next, and only when they get that far away from what they originally had will they realize what they’ve given up.”
“You’re turning this around on me and making it personal,” she observed, giving him a wry smile.
“It’s your own fault,” he said, shrugging helplessly. “I take you out for drinks to cheer you up, and you get all serious and wax philosophical on me.”
“Who are you trying to fool?” She laughed. “You brought me out for drinks because Pansy was having dinner alone with a friend, and you didn’t want to be alone.”
“A male friend, no less.” He took another drink of his fire whiskey, and Ginny frowned.
“Are you insecure all of a sudden?”
“No, I’m not, really. I just – let’s just say that I’m not overly fond of this male friend.” Realization dawned on Ginny’s face and she arched an eyebrow.
“Oh, she’s with the ferret, then. Why couldn’t you go along?”
“I have no earthly idea. He just flooed her and said that he wanted to have dinner with her, alone so they could talk.”
“That sounds like a very un-Malfoyish thing to do,” she remarked, taking a sip of her drink.
“I know, and that’s what’s got me worried.”
“Well, there’s no point in worrying about it right now,” she said, shrugging. “So let’s talk about something more pleasant.”
“I noticed that you went out with someone last night,” he said, frowning at her.
“And? Am I not allowed to date anymore?”
“It’s just that you know that all men you see have to be approved by me.”
“You didn’t approve of Zabini or Bole,” she pointed out.
“All right, perhaps I should rephrase that. I at least have to meet the blokes you go out with. That way I know who to kill if you come home a crying mess.”
“Please,” she said, laughing. “As if any man could reduce me to a crying, slobbering mess. I like to think I’m a bit stronger than that.”
“What about Harry and the ferret?” he asked seriously. “You had a bit of a cry over both of them, didn’t you?”
“No. I did that to myself, they didn’t do that to me.” She shifted in her seat, uncomfortable. “Besides, it’s not like I’ll be seeing that guy again.”
“Why not? No good in bed?”
She threw her napkin at him. “I don’t shag every man I go out with, though they seem to think they’re entitled to it,” she said darkly. “No, we went to that new club The Grind, and after he stepped on my toes about twenty times, I realized that I’d better call it a night or I’d be crippled by the time the night was over.”
“Here’s to bad dancers!” Neville said, raising his fire whiskey glass into the air. She touched her glass to his, and they both downed their alcohol.
“You just brought me here to get me drunk and take advantage of me, didn’t you?” she asked, smiling. He grinned.
“I think that’s grounds for separation, Neville Longbottom.” Ginny and Neville looked up in surprise, and Pansy smirked at them. Neville scrambled clumsily to his feet to allow Pansy to slide into the booth beside him, and proceeded to plant a wet kiss on her cheek.
“Pans, what are you doing here? Finished with dinner already?”
“Not quite. He needed an apertif, so here we are,” she explained coolly, hazarding a quick glance at Ginny. The redhead scrambled to dig the money for her drinks out of her pocket, so she could make a hasty exit before Malfoy got to the table. Just as she had dropped some coins on the table, Malfoy slid into the booth beside her.
“This place is entirely too low brow for me to be seen in,” he drawled, completely ignoring Ginny’s presence. She didn’t know whether to be incensed or grateful that he hadn’t noticed who he was sitting next to, and finally decided to be grateful. Draco Malfoy and the amount of alcohol she’d consumed was definitely not a good combination.
“So why did you come?” Neville asked, unusually bold and loose-tongued, due to the alcohol.
“Pansy wanted to see you, though I can’t imagine why, in the sodding state you’re in.” Draco peered distastefully down his nose at Neville, and then glanced at Ginny, who appeared to be trying to blend in with the booth they were sitting in.
“I’m not totally pissed yet,” he protested, frowning at the blonde man. “Sit still, you. It’s hard to talk to you when you keep moving around like that.”
Ginny slapped her hand to her face while Draco arched an amused eyebrow, and Pansy just shook her head. “How much have you had to drink, love?”
“Half a bottle of fire whiskey,” he said, looking at the table top. He frowned. “A bottle and a half.”
“Oh, sweet, I’d better get you home,” Pansy said, sighing. “You’re going to have the worst headache when you wake up tomorrow.” Ginny watched with a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach as Neville and Pansy rose from the table, said their goodbyes, and disappeared. After they’d gone, she took a deep breath.
“I think I’d better be going, too,” she said, moving to get out of the booth. To her surprise, Malfoy stood and helped her up. “Thanks. Well – have a good night,” she said, feeling awkward. She never knew what to say to him when she left him; “I’ll see you around,” “Talk to you later,” and other phrases all made it sound as though she planned on seeing him again, and she didn’t want to lead him on when she really had no intentions of ever seeing him again.
When it became clear that he was intent on accompanying her back to her flat, however, she could feel the panic rising in her throat. She was weakened by alcohol, and if he decided that he wanted something from her, she would be in no state to deny him or fight him over it. “What are you doing?”
“Seeing that you make it home without splinching yourself,” he said calmly, stepping into the fireplace with her. He gripped her arm gently and called out her address. She was surprised that he remembered it – but then again, he should remember it, since he’d been there several times already.
When they were inside her living room, she turned on him. “Okay, I’m home now. Thanks for making sure I was okay. I can make it from here, I think.”
“So anxious to get rid of me,” he said, amused. “Afraid I came to take advantage of your drunken state?”
“Something like that,” she admitted, her eyes roaming over the angled planes of his face. He gave a light shrug of his shoulders.
“No need to fear. I was simply being chivalrous.”
She snorted. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you that chivalry is dead?”
“What are you implying, exactly? That I have some ulterior motive for seeing you home in one piece?”
“I’m not implying it, I’m saying it outright. What do you want from me?”
“You’re right, there is something I want from you.”
“I knew it! Well? What is it that you want?”
“A cup of coffee, or some similarly caffeinated beverage.”
She stared at him for a full minute before she remembered to close her mouth. “You want coffee? Are you serious?”
“Deadly. I have quite the headache at the moment, and caffeine is the only thing that helps.”
“If I give you a cup of coffee, will you leave?”
“Fine,” she said, sighing. She went into the kitchen. When she finally returned to the living room with two cups of coffee, she found him sitting on her sofa, just staring at the wall. “Hey,” she said gently, holding a mug out to him. He blinked, and then took the drink from her. She took a seat beside him on the sofa, careful not to sit too close to him.
“I didn’t know what to put in it, so I left it black.”
“That’s fine – that’s the way I drink it, anyway.” He took a sip.
“Not me. It has to be light and sweet for me to be able to drink it.”
“What’s the point of drinking coffee if you’re just going to pollute it?” he wondered aloud, giving her a sidelong glance.
“Funny.” She rolled her eyes. They sat in silence for several minutes, and then Ginny blurted out, “Why haven’t you ever married?”
He turned and gave her a sharp look. “Why?”
“Neville and I were discussing this earlier, and I just wondered if people sometimes don’t get married because they’re afraid of things staying the same.” He seemed to relax a bit, and frowned in thought.
“You mean they don’t get married because they’re afraid of things getting stale?”
“Exactly,” she said, nodding.
“If that were the case, why would anyone ever even date the same person for any length of time?”
“I would think they stay with the same person because they’re too lazy to go out and find someone else. Maybe they get married when they run out of things to talk about,” she suggested.
“So you’re telling me that you got married because you didn’t have the energy to find someone else?” he asked, his eyebrows shooting up.
“No, I said some people, not all. Some people actually marry for love,” she said defensively.
“How do you know it was love?”
“I – what? Why would you ask such a thing?”
“Do you still feel the same way about him now as you did when you started out?”
“Of course not,” she snapped, her eyes turning hard. “Back then he hadn’t cheated on me.”
“How do you know?” he persisted. “You doubt his faithfulness now because you’ve caught him being unfaithful. Who’s to say that he wasn’t unfaithful before, and you just didn’t catch him?”
“Is there something that you know that I don’t?” she asked suspiciously.
“I’m just trying to make a point. Had you truly been in love with him, you would have stayed with him, no matter if he had been unfaithful or not.”
“That is absolutely the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard you say, and that’s saying a lot. I did love him, but I’m not going to sit around and be made a fool of!”
“You could have turned a blind eye if you wanted to keep him that badly.”
“Well it’s obvious that I didn’t want to keep him that badly!” she snapped, sitting her empty mug on the coffee table in front of the sofa.
“Which only proves my point, that you didn’t really love him.”
“Love fades! It changes with time.”
“I agree, it does change with time. But it doesn’t fade.”
“How would you know? You’ve never been in love!”
“How can you make that assumption, when you don’t even really know me?”
“If you’d ever been in love with someone, you would have married her.”
“Things are so black and white to you, aren’t they? Never any grey areas. Not all people who are in love get married.”
“What are you talking about? Why not?”
“What I’m saying, kitten, is that things don’t always work out the way that you think they should.”
“Are you telling me that you’ve been in love?” she asked disbelievingly. “The coldest man to come out of Slytherin since his father, and you fell in love?”
“My father was not a cold man,” he said softly, gripping his coffee mug. Ginny bit her lower lip, sensing that she had somehow crossed some invisible line.
“Malfoy, I didn’t – I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you, or anything.”
He sat his mug down on the coffee table and started to stand. “What are you doing?” she asked.
“I’m leaving. I finished my coffee, and I’m leaving, as per our agreement.”
“Wait – don’t go like this,” she said, her shoulders slumping. He half-turned to look at her.
“Angry at me for some stupid slip of the tongue. We’ve been at each others’ throats for so long, it takes a concentrated effort to be civil towards each other, and I’ve had far too much alcohol tonight to control my tongue. I’m sorry.”
He eyed her thoughtfully. “So now you want me to stay?”
“I didn’t mean that, I just meant that I didn’t want you to leave angry with me. Sit down, and I’ll get you another cup of coffee, and then you can go, all right?” Slowly he sat back down, and she moved into the kitchen to refill his cup. When she returned, he was frowning.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, handing him the cup and reclaiming her seat.
“How am I different?”
“You’ve been out with several men since your divorce, and you’ve been open about dating them. How am I different, that you don’t want anyone to know that we’ve been together?”
“Why should it bother you that I don’t want anyone to know?”
“Don’t answer a question with a question. I don’t like the thought of being anyone’s dirty little secret.”
“And I don’t like the thought of you being open about us being together just to flaunt it in Harry’s face. Besides, we haven’t actually been dating, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“Have you shagged those other men?” Her cheeks turned red.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business.”
“Why can’t you just say no?”
“And why would I do that?”
“Because it would be the truth.” She glared at him.
“And how would you know what the truth is?”
“You’re forgetting that the men you’ve dated have all been close friends of mine – with loose tongues, might I add.” She squeezed her eyes shut.
“Fine,” she snapped, annoyed. “No, I haven’t slept with any of them.”
“So how am I different?”
“I don’t know,” she said stubbornly, refusing to meet his eyes.
“Obviously you have reached some degree of comfort around me,” he drawled coolly. She blinked.
“You never allowed any of them into your home, and yet here I am.”
“Yes, under the guise of not allowing me to splinch myself,” she returned crossly.
“Are you saying that if one of those other men had offered to see you inside your home for your own protection that you would have let them?”
“No,” she admitted grudgingly, still not meeting his eyes. “I didn’t know them well enough to trust them inside my flat alone with me.”
“Then how am I different, that you’ve allowed me up here on numerous occasions? Surely you don’t trust me?”
“No,” she said quickly. “I don’t trust you.”
“I don’t know,” she said, frustrated. “I guess there’s some sort of familiarity with you. I’ve had sex with you, for cripes’ sake, why would I not allow you into my flat?”
“Are you maybe hoping on some level that it will happen again?”
“What?” she gasped, finally looking at him. When she saw his highly amused smirk, she relaxed and rolled her eyes. “Oh, yes, Malfoy. Please, come into my flat so we can have a shag.” She was quiet for a moment, listening to him snicker, and then she tilted her head to the side as she looked at him.
“Why do you keep coming here?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You asked me how you were different, and I answered. So now tell me why you keep coming up here.”
“You needed someone to escort you home so you didn’t splinch yourself.”
“Since when do you care if I splinch myself or not?”
“Are you daft? I’d never hear the end of it from Parkinson, because she’d never hear the end of it from Longbottom. They would hold me responsible, since I was the only one there with you.”
“So why are you still here?”
“I have a headache and I needed caffeine. We’ve been through this already, remember?”
“You finished your second cup almost the moment I gave it to you,” she said shrewdly.
“You’re being awfully observant for a drunk woman.”
“Who said I was still drunk?” His eyebrows shot up as he glanced towards the kitchen. “Yes, I keep sobering potions in the kitchen cabinet,” she said, answering his unspoken question.
“So why sober up just for me?” Her cheeks turned crimson.
“I didn’t do it for you,” she denied. She couldn’t very well tell him that she’d taken the sobering potion because she didn’t trust herself around him with that much alcohol in her system; from the moment he’d asked for that first cup of coffee, her brain had kicked into overdrive and she’d begun remembering every last one of their encounters, down to the most minute details. “How’s your head feeling now?”
“Better.” He stood and smoothed imaginary wrinkles out of his shirt, and then headed towards the fireplace. Before he could step inside, however, he felt a hand on his arm, and he turned to face her.
“Thank you for escorting me home – even if you did it for selfish reasons,” she said, smiling. “I appreciate it.” She stood on her tiptoes and planted a soft kiss high on his left cheek. Immediately his fingers flew to the spot her lips had touched, and he stared at her in surprise.
“You’re welcome.” He dropped his hand and looked pointedly down at hers, which was still lightly gripping his arm. She followed his cue and looked down, pulling her hand away when she realized what she was doing. He turned his back to her again and had managed to get one foot inside the fireplace when she spoke again.
Two words, softer than the fluttering of butterfly wings, and he was frozen to the spot. He wasn’t even sure he’d heard her correctly until she spoke again.
“Please don’t go – Draco.”
Slowly, with his heart pounding wildly inside of his chest, he turned to look at her. Her cheeks were flushed, she was breathing rapidly, and her eyes were bright. He wondered briefly if the complete and utter shock he felt was evident on his face.
“You want me to stay?” he asked cautiously. She nodded.
“For how long?”
“As long as you want to.”
“How long do you want me to stay?”
“All night,” she answered without hesitation. Then, when his eyes widened and his eyebrows shot up in surprise, “Nothing has to happen – I’m just – I’m enjoying your company.”
“If I stayed, something would most definitely happen,” he drawled softly, letting his eyes drift down her body for emphasis. Heat flooded through her.
“I said nothing had to happen, I didn’t say it couldn’t,” she rejoined, sounding bolder than she felt.
“You told me you would never sleep with me again.”
“Right before it happened again,” she reminded him, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Look, if you don’t want to, it’s not a big deal. I just thought-“
“If I stay with you tonight,” he interrupted, turning to face her fully. He crossed his arms over his chest. “I will not keep it a secret.”
“I don’t care,” she whispered, her lower lip trembling slightly. Discussing this with Neville had been much easier than actually throwing the events into motion, she thought. It’d all been so much easier when it had only been words and not actions.
“You don’t care,” he echoed disbelievingly. “You realize that that means that Potter will know.”
“I understand that,” she said, her throat dry. If he was going to reject her, she wished he’d just do it and get it over with, instead of prolonging the agony. “It doesn’t bother me.”
“You said you didn’t want to be public about it because you didn’t want me to taunt him with it,” he said, arching a pale eyebrow. “So what’s changed?”
“I just realized that I don’t care what Harry thinks,” she replied, mildly surprised to realize that it was the truth. “Who I choose to take to my bed is none of his business.”
“So this is just sex, then?”
“Isn’t that all you want?”
“I’m just clarifying,” he said, avoiding the question. His eyes were cloudy. “So that I know whether you expect me to take you out in public with me or not.”
“I don’t expect anything,” she said honestly. “I’m not asking you to shower me with gifts or take me out all the time. I don’t even expect you to stop sleeping with other women.”
“Then what do you want from me?”
“Your attention and your company – even if you’re only pretending, and even if it’s only for tonight.”
“And after tonight?”
“That’s for you to decide.”
“You know that I won’t tolerate you dating other men,” he warned, watching her take a hesitant step forward.
“I know,” she breathed, taking another step and closing the distance between them.
“I won’t tolerate you sleeping with other men, either,” he said, his voice less forceful than before. She reached up and began to unbutton his white shirt, her eyes focused on the work her fingers were doing.
“I know,” she repeated. He watched her with bated breath, and when she had completely unbuttoned the shirt, he gasped softly. Her hands roamed over his chest, mapping out the ridges and feeling the fine blonde hairs. He bit back a groan when the pad of her thumb brushed a nipple. “Will you stay?”
He didn’t know what to say, so in answer he gripped the hem of her shirt and tugged upward. She raised her arms, allowing him to pull the shirt off, and he dropped it carelessly on the floor. One hand cupped her bum while the other hand moved up and down her back. She lifted her eyes to meet his, and when cinnamon met steel, he lowered his mouth to hers.
If Ginny had expected the kiss to be bruising and forceful, she was utterly surprised by the tenderness he was exhibiting. His tongue probed her mouth unhurriedly and with deliberate strokes. She reached up to bury her hands in his hair, reveling in the feel of the silky strands sifting between her fingers.
His fingertips danced lightly across her back, causing gooseflesh to arise on her skin. When the dance was finished, his fingers slid down, following the path of her spine, and slipped beneath the waistband of the jeans she’d worn out that evening. His mouth moved away from hers and trailed kisses down the line of her jaw, pausing for a moment to nuzzle the skin just below her ear.
She arched her back when the searing heat of his mouth found her neck. When his tongue darted out to taste the flesh of her collarbone, she sank her fingernails into his shoulders. He groaned and raised a hand to cup the flesh of a breast through her satiny bra, rubbing his finger over the already pebbled nipple.
He moved down and pressed several light kisses to the exposed top of her breast, reveling in the whimpering that escaped her lips. He dipped his tongue between the valley of her breasts, and the whimpering turned into a moan.
“Draco,” she whispered pleadingly. The sound of his name falling from her lips shot straight to his groin, and he pulled away from her.
“Bed. Now,” he commanded. She nodded and led him into her bedroom. Before she could turn to face him, however, he’d wrapped his arms around her and pressed his chest to her back. In this position, she could feel his arousal pressing against her bum. She ground herself into him, shivering when his throaty moan tickled her ear. His hands found her breasts and began to knead gently. She threw her head back, resting it on his shoulder, and lifted a hand to stroke the side of his face.
His fingers deftly unfastened the clasp of the bra, remembering that she liked the kind that hooked in the front, and the creamy globes of skin were exposed. He bent to kiss her neck as he caught her nipples between thumb and forefinger and rolled them gently. When he sucked gently on the sensitive spot at the base of her throat, wetness flooded her knickers.
After a moment he stopped sucking and put his hands on her hips, turning her to face him. Immediately her hands went to the fastening of his pants, and he watched as she unbuttoned and unzipped them, then pushed them down his legs. She helped him step out of them, and then knelt in front of him. When her mouth closed over his throbbing erection, he had to start reciting potions ingredients in his mind to keep from climaxing too quickly.
The motion of her tongue felt sinfully good as she ran it along his length. He watched her head moved back and forth as she took him in, and nearly fainted when she lifted her eyes to meet his. She kept her eyes focused on his face as she pleasured him, enjoying the half-crazed look on his face. He stiffened, feeling a familiar tingling begin at the base of his spine, and he put his hands on her shoulders to stop her.
When she pulled her mouth away from him, the cool air of the room assaulted him. Grateful that she didn’t ask any questions, he pulled her to her feet and divested her of her jeans and knickers as quickly as his trembling fingers could manage. When they were both completely naked, she stepped towards the bed, beckoning him to her with the slow motion of her index finger.
He followed, and when she laid down on the bed, he positioned himself over her. She parted her legs silently in invitation, and with their eyes locked, he slid into her. A single moment of stillness was quickly followed by the beginnings of rhythmic thrusting. Their breaths met and mingled somewhere between their bodies just before he captured her lips with his. What had been tender before now became consuming; she wrapped her legs around him, forcing him deeper. His tongue mimicked the movements of his member, sliding in and out of her mouth as his hips moved.
The sweat that beaded on his forehead and the moisture that covered her chest were ignored as he felt the tightening and then release of his orgasm. He spilled himself into her in hot jets, surprised by the force of his climax. His release seemed to trigger her own, and he groaned with pleasure as her slick walls convulsed around him. She moaned and thrashed her head about on the pillow, fanning her titian hair out on the pillow.
He rested his forehead against hers as they both struggled to catch their breath, and when he made as though to move away from her, she locked her legs around him.
“Stay – for just a minute, please,” she asked, her voice shaky. He closed his eyes and caught her lips between his repeatedly, until her head was reeling and her limbs were so shaky that she couldn’t hold him any longer. Gently he disengaged himself and rolled onto his back. She shivered at the loss of his warmth, and the motion caused him to glance at her.
He didn’t trust himself to speak. He didn’t know what to think about what had just happened, either. She had offered herself to him, practically begging him to stay the night with her, and had said that there were no strings attached. When she’d undone his shirt and touched his chest, the last shred of control he’d been using to reign in his desire all evening broke, and he’d started to touch her back.
Once he’d begun to touch her, he’d intended to be assertive and let her know just who she’d given herself to. Somehow, though, he’d wound up kissing her like his life depended on it; as though she held the very last bit of air that he needed to survive. In short, he’d been kissing her as though he cared about her.
She sat up and reached for the downy comforter that had gotten pushed to the end of the bed, and pulled it up, draping it over both of them. He was at once surprised and hurt when she turned her back to him and curled up with the coverlet tucked around her. He hadn’t expected… well, he didn’t know what he’d expected.
She was certainly more than he’d ever bargained for.
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