The Broken Road, Chapter 20 :: Lamentations
“Ginny! You look stunning,” Neville said, grinning as he wrapped his dearest friend in a tight hug. Draco’s lips thinned and his countenance darkened as he watched the display.
“All right, Longbottom, you can stop pawing my date.” Ginny turned and gave him a surprised look as Pansy rolled her eyes.
“As if Neville has any interest in her,” she said acidly, wrapping Draco in a quick hug as well. If their hug wasn’t as warm as the one Ginny and Neville had shared, no one said anything about it.
“How have you been?” Ginny asked, turning to Pansy with a genuine smile. “I haven’t heard from you two in a while – I was beginning to wonder if maybe you hadn’t run off and eloped.”
“Not yet,” Pansy said, returning the smile. Draco watched in mild amazement as the two women managed to carry on a somewhat decent conversation, and he wondered at it. Did Ginny just have the effect of putting anyone at ease like that? It seemed as though the two women were getting along like they were old friends instead of former enemies, and it made him wonder.
“So,” Neville said, clearing his throat. Draco arched an eyebrow as he turned to look at him. “How are the two of you getting along? Everything going well?”
“Everything is fine,” Draco replied coolly. Neville glanced at his friend, who was disappearing into the kitchen with his fiancé.
“She seems happy enough,” he muttered. Draco’s eyes narrowed.
“And what exactly is that supposed to mean?” Neville turned back to Draco.
“It means exactly that if you hurt her, I will kill you.” Draco’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. He’d never heard Longbottom sound so certain and – well, dangerous.
“Is that so.”
“Yes, that’s so. You may not consider me much of a threat, but I will be if you do anything to screw this up. She’s been hurt enough without having to factor you into the equation.”
“I’ve already been threatened by her brother,” Draco drawled calmly, pouring himself a snifter full of the brandy that had been set out for dinner. “I don’t need the overprotective act from you, too, Longbottom.”
“Oh yes you do,” Neville asserted, his expression deadly serious. “I don’t think you truly understand what you’ve gotten yourself into, here, Malfoy. There are a lot of people who love her and will do anything to keep her from getting hurt again.”
“I realize that.”
“Do you?” Neville tilted his head to study Draco for a moment. “If you realize that, then surely you also realize that should you do anything to screw up what you have with her, Harry will be right there, trying to get her back.”
Draco’s eyes snapped up and narrowed as he glared at the man across from him. “She’d never have him back. Besides, Potter isn’t going to have a chance to try and win her back.”
“You’d better make damn sure of that,” Neville said, plastering a smile on his face as the women re-entered the room. Draco had begun feeling strangely lightheaded. From the way that the other man had been talking, he would almost think that Longbottom wanted him and Ginny together. Was that even possible, considering that Longbottom had always hated him?
“Uh oh,” Pansy said, smiling cautiously at the two men. “It looks like we may have interrupted some serious conversation,” she said, turning to see if Ginny had seen what she had. The thin line of Ginny’s lips pressed together told her that she had. The men were standing several feet apart, their eyes hard and their backs stiff. Whatever they had been discussing in the women’s absence hadn’t been pleasant.
“Not really,” Neville said, shaking his head and giving Pansy a weak smile. She arched an eyebrow at him but said nothing – she would find out exactly what had been said as soon as their guests were gone. “What is that tantalizing smell?” he asked, changing the subject abruptly.
“Turkey,” she said simply, placing a dish of jacket potatoes on the table. Ginny deposited the dish of rolls she had been carrying, and smiled as Neville’s eyes lit up.
“You made a turkey?” Draco asked, cautious skepticism in his voice. “I’ve never known you to cook.”
“I didn’t say I made it,” she said, her voice taking on an icy edge. “He asked what the smell was, and I told him.”
Ginny cleared her throat as Draco opened his mouth to reply. “I think it smells lovely, too. I’m so hungry, the smell of it is making my mouth water.”
“Why don’t we go ahead and have a seat?” Neville suggested, gesturing to the dinner table.
“Absolutely,” Ginny replied, hurrying to sit down. Draco frowned as Neville helped Pansy into her seat, and then took one of his own. They all gave Draco expectant looks, waiting for him to be seated, too.
“Why are we sitting down when the food isn’t even ready yet?” he asked coolly.
“Sometimes it’s nice to have a little pre-dinner conversation,” Neville said calmly. Ginny nodded in agreement.
“That’s usually done in the parlor,” Draco returned dryly. “Or in your case, the living room.”
“Draco, for fuck’s sake, just sit down,” Pansy snapped irritably. Too startled for one of his immediate witty remarks, Draco did as he was told and sat down at the table beside Ginny. “I might as well get this over with,” Pansy said, pinching the bridge of her nose.
“I knew there was an ulterior motive for inviting us over tonight,” Draco snipped. The noise that came from Pansy could only be described as a growl, and Neville placed his hand gently on her arm to try and calm her down.
“Draco,” Ginny intoned gently, shaking her head when he looked at her. His frown deepened, but he kept his lips clamped together while Pansy made an effort to calm herself. After several deep breaths and some softly whispered words of encouragement from Neville, she lifted her eyes to meet Draco’s.
Draco’s jaw dropped, and Ginny bit her lip, waiting for his response. He glanced between Pansy and Neville, noting the extremely pleased look that the latter wore, and the half-worried, half-angry look that Pansy was donning.
“By your own consent?” he blurted. Neville’s eyes snapped over to his, full of fury.
“Are you trying to suggest that I’ve done something to my fiancée?” Neville demanded, his expression turning stony. Warning flags went up in Ginny’s mind at the tone of voice he was using to address Draco – it was rare for Neville to get so angry, but she’d seen his temper enough to know that Draco was edging into very dangerous territory.
“Draco,” she said, turning to him with a weak smile, “why don’t you and I go and get the turkey, so Pansy doesn’t have to carry it?”
“You expect me to come over here and work like a house elf when I’m a guest?” he asked incredulously.
“No,” she said impatiently. “I expect you to do it as a favor to your friend, Pansy.”
She didn’t wait for his answer before rising from her chair and practically dragging him behind her into the kitchen. Once they were safely inside and the door had closed, she turned on him.
“What in the bloody hell do you think you’re doing? Have you lost your mind?”
“I beg your pardon?” he asked, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
“They invited us over here just to tell us that she’s pregnant, and instead of congratulating them, you immediately insinuate that Neville’s done something wrong!”
“In case you hadn’t noticed, she didn’t look particularly pleased about the whole situation,” he pointed out coldly, watching her slip oven mitts on and remove the turkey from the oven. When she’d placed it on the stovetop, she yanked the mitts off and threw them at his chest.
“I did notice that, actually! But instead of accusing Neville of some sort of wrongdoing, I asked her what was wrong!”
“And she’s worried that she won’t make a good mother!” Ginny hissed, her eyes darting furtively towards the door. “That’s why she’s so upset, Draco. She’s worried out of her mind!”
“What?” He gave her a look of utter disbelief. “I’ve never known her to doubt success at anything she undertakes.”
“Well she’s doubting herself now!” she insisted, her hands flying to her hips. “Becoming a parent is a big step in her relationship with Neville, and it’s a big change in anyone’s life.”
“How would you know?” he sneered, his anger getting the best of him. “You’ve never been pregnant.” She clamped her lips together and turned her back to him, rummaging through a drawer for another set of oven mitts. Her silence bothered him. “I said, you’ve never been pregnant.”
“I heard what you said,” she replied, her voice deathly calm. A shudder shot through him as he took a step forward.
“You’re not agreeing with me,” he said coolly.
“That’s because you’re wrong,” she said, pulling a set of mitts out of the drawer. She’d just slipped them on when he grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her to turn and face him.
“You lied to me! You told me that Potter couldn’t get you pregnant!”
“No, if you’d been listening, you’d remember that I didn’t say anything,” she snapped, trying to wriggle away from him. It was no use; his grip on her shoulders was so tight, it was nigh to bruising.
“If he can’t have children, how could you get pregnant - unless you cheated on him with someone?”
She wasn’t so restrained that she couldn’t get her hand free, but he was still surprised when she slapped him.
“Let me go!” She gave him a good, hard shove and broke away from him. Her eyes were wild and full of unshed tears when she turned back to him. “I never said that just because Harry couldn’t have children that I couldn’t get pregnant – you assumed that!”
“Potter got you pregnant?” he asked skeptically, his chest throbbing painfully where she’d shoved him.
“Several times, not that it mattered!”
“Then how do you know that the problem didn’t lie with you?”
“How dare you,” she hissed, tears falling from her eyes, despite her efforts not to cry. She ignored them. “I went to Muggle doctors and Mediwitches, and they all said that I was fine, and that there was no reason for me to be miscarrying the way I was. And what the hell does it matter to you, anyway? It’s not like we’re ever going to have children together, so why are you even bringing it up? Just to hurt me?”
He opened his mouth, but before he could reply, she shook her head.
“Save it,” she said, turning her eyes away from him. “I don’t want to hear it. I don’t care. Just drop it.”
“You accused me, and I deserve a chance to defend myself.”
“Don’t bother,” she snorted, pushing past him and out of the kitchen. He heard some raised voices from the other room, and waited until they’d died down before exiting the kitchen himself. Neville and Pansy were seated at the table in the same spots they’d been in before he and Ginny had gone into the kitchen, and they shot him angry glares as he sat back down.
“I’ll go get the turkey,” Neville said finally, rising from the table. When he’d gone, Draco waited for Pansy to say something to him. He was utterly surprised when she remained silent and didn’t even make eye contact with him.
After several minutes of the silent treatment, though, he began to grow weary of it. Neville had brought the turkey in, sat it on the table, and was carving it. He put some on Pansy’s plate, along with some of each of the side dishes, and did the same for himself. When they started eating, Draco frowned.
“It’s rude to start eating without everyone present,” he snarked.
“Everyone is present,” Neville said sharply. Draco stiffened in his seat.
“No, they aren’t. Where is she, in the loo, or something? Having a good cry at my expense?”
“You’re an insensitive prat,” Pansy said calmly, taking a sip of her wine. “She went home.”
“She did not.”
“I assure you, she did - and with good reason, from what I understand.” Pansy shot him a look of utter disgust before picking up her fork.
Draco said nothing. Instead, he simply rose from his seat, strode to the floo, and disappeared.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
He couldn’t remember ever being so angry in his entire life, and for Draco Malfoy, that was saying something.
She’d blocked off his access to her floo. She was returning owls without reading the letters he’d sent. She was refusing to answer the door when he knocked.
He was at his wit’s end.
He’d never been denied access to anything he wanted, and to have it happen now was just unacceptable. How dare she refuse him like this? What had he done that was so terrible, that she should treat him like… oh.
Well, he thought, it wasn’t as though he’d actually done something terrible, was it? He’d simply asked if she’d gotten pregnant by someone other than her husband. It had seemed logical at the time – if Potter was sterile, then how in Merlin’s name would she have gotten impregnated by him? It wasn’t his fault that he’d forgotten how vehemently she reacted when accused of cheating.
And Salazar be damned, why was he dwelling on this so much? He shoved the plate of eggs away from him and rubbed his face with the palms of his hands. She was just a woman; another bloody useless woman just like all of the others he’d ever been with. She had jumped to conclusions and ruined a perfectly good arrangement between the two of them, the blithering idiot.
And still… he rose from the table so angrily that he knocked his chair over. He vaguely registered the sounds of the house elves scurrying to put things to rights as he strode down the corridor towards his room.
In a rare moment of honesty, he admitted to himself that Ginny hadn’t been like all of the rest of them. She’d had no interest in his money; had never asked him to pay for any of their outings or buy her anything. She’d spoken to him as though he were a confidante, and the looks she’d given him… his stomach wasn’t the only thing that burned as he recalled the heated looks she’d given him when they were in the midst of their physical activities.
She’d looked at him like he was a man – and not just a flesh-and-blood man, but one who could’ve hung the moon. No one had ever looked at him like that before. It had been intoxicating to know that she was enjoying him as much as he was enjoying her, and he’d reveled in that knowledge. He’d rather enjoyed the feeling of being wanted as a man, and not simply as financial stability.
And now it was gone.
He’d waited so long for it; had waited so long for her. Potter had never stood a chance, as far as he was concerned. Once she had discarded him, Draco had moved in and marked her as his own. Every male within a one-thousand mile radius knew better than to even look at her the wrong way, or Draco would be all over them, making them regret it.
She was his, damn it, and that was all there was to it.
“Should you do anything to screw up what you have with her, Harry will be right there, trying to get her back.”
Longbottom’s words came back to haunt him, and it was like a punch in the gut. The wind was knocked from him, and he had to stop walking and reach out a hand to brace himself on the wall. The thought of Potter touching her made him physically ill. There was only one thing to be done about it, and he’d better do it quickly, if he wanted to ensure that she remained his.
But how to go about it?
Oh, this would require mending some bridges. Thankfully he hadn’t completely burned them; they were only slightly charred. But could they be repaired in time?
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
“Are you apologizing to me, Draco Malfoy?” Pansy asked, dumbstruck.
“What do you think?” he snapped. Pansy arched an eyebrow, and Draco sighed. “Fine. You already know how difficult this is for me, and yet you insist on making it harder.”
“Get used to it,” she said blithely. “Especially since I think that very shortly, you’re going to need this experience to look back on.”
“You’re going to need this experience,” she repeated patiently, examining her nails. “When you apologize to Ginny, I mean.”
His cheeks flushed slightly, and he was suddenly grateful that the green flames of the fireplace concealed as much as they did. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” he ground out. She tilted her head at him and gave him a dubious smile.
“What was that? I’m afraid I didn’t hear you.”
His eyes narrowed. If looks could kill, then Pansy was sure that she would have been lying on the floor, stone cold. The thought pleased her immensely, and it was all she could do not to laugh.
“Don’t get used to this,” he snapped.
“Used to what?”
“Wielding this much power over me. It won’t happen again.”
“Not for me,” she agreed. “But for a certain redhead I know – well, perhaps you should get used to being dominated every once in a while.”
Heat flooded through him as he considered all of the ways in which he’d enjoy being dominated by Ginny, but he said nothing.
“Now, I believe you were in the middle of something…?” she prompted, her feline smile stretching wider.
“I’m sorry,” he forced out again.
“For what, exactly?”
“For ruining your announcement,” he said, barely keeping his temper in check. He needed Pansy’s help, or he’d never get through this. He hadn’t counted on her making things so difficult, though, or he might have second guessed himself before undertaking this task.
“And for making Ginny angry enough to run out.”
“And for…” he ground his teeth together for a moment. “For accusing your boyfriend-“
“Fiancé,” she corrected.
“Your fiancé of doing something wrong. Is that enough now?”
“Hmmm.” She tapped a finger to her chin, and Draco resisted the overwhelming urge to reach through the flames and strangle her. “I suppose that will do for now.”
“Sweet Salazar, finally,” he breathed, his jaw working back and forth from the strain of having to apologize.
“So what do you want?”
“You would never have lowered yourself to apologize to me unless you had some sort of use for me.”
“I need help with Ginny,” he said bluntly. She blinked.
“Sugar, you need more than help, and I’m not sure I’m the person who can give it to you.”
“You can help me with what I need,” he insisted.
“All right, I’ll bite. What do you need?”
“I don’t want to discuss it over the floo. We’ll meet somewhere and go over the details.” Her face lit up.
“Oh, this does sound intriguing!” she said, very nearly clapping her hands together in excitement. “When and where?”
“Eleven. We’ll meet for lunch at Renaldo’s.”
“That’s a bit early for lunch, isn’t it?”
“I want to get this taken care of. There is some urgency to the matter at hand, so no, I don’t think it’s too early.”
I just hope it isn’t too late.
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