Chapter Nine :: Dolor
When Ginny awoke, it was to the feel of warm hands exploring her; mapping out every inch of her flesh. She was groggy, but not so much so that his ministrations failed to elicit a response. Her entire body felt keyed up and tense, even just coming out of sleep, and her tired mind vaguely reminded her that she’d been left unsatisfied during their earlier encounter.
Thus it was with abandon that she moaned when the searing heat of his mouth closed over an already erect nipple, alternating between suction and gentle strokes of his tongue. One hand cupped the side of the breast that he was attending to, while the other hand slipped down across her abdomen and came to rest on the apex of her thighs.
She shivered when his fingers lightly brushed ginger curls, and then he was touching her, his fingers seeking out the most sensitive part of her anatomy. When he slid a finger inside and curled it slightly, her back arched off of the bed, and his mouth moved to accommodate her other breast.
His name fell like a mantra from her lips, over and over again, as he slid another finger into her and pumped gently. Her hips rose to meet every thrust of his fingers, and her head thrashed from side to side on the pillow as she rode the wave of pleasure that rushed up to meet her. She cried out his name as release claimed her, her walls clamping around him.
She felt him pull away then, like the tide receding from the shore. Would it build again – perhaps in a bigger wave next time? She wondered. He remained silent, and in the darkness of the room, she could almost imagine that he was smiling at her. She fumbled for a moment, her fingers seeking out the angled planes of his face. When she felt his parted lips, she leaned forward and pressed her mouth to his.
The kiss was gentle, appreciative of what he’d given her. She didn’t want to speak her thanks out loud, because words between them were never right, and the sanctity of this moment was not to be disturbed. Words were weapons to be used against each other, not a means of expressing anything honest.
She kissed him softly, catching his lips up in hers repeatedly. She never bothered to deepen the kiss – it was dizzying enough as it was, without the use of dueling tongues. He responded in kind, and when her hand gently cupped his cheek, he exhaled softly.
When the kissing stopped, the sleeping began. And it seemed as simple as that – in the darkness, with none of their differences brought into the light, they were simply two people; a man and a woman, sharing their grief.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
When daybreak approached bringing with it the blinding sunlight that always flooded her bedroom in the mornings, Ginny crawled out of bed and quickly closed the shades, plunging the room into darkness once more. She climbed back into the bed and snuggled closer to Draco, resting her cheek against the warmth that radiated from his bare back.
When he stiffened, she knew that he was awake.
Instantly she pulled away and turned so that her back was close to his, but they weren’t touching. She’d known, of course, that with the rising of the sun, the closeness she’d imagined between the two of them would disappear – but that didn’t make the sting of it any less real or painful.
Then several things that had niggled at the back of her mind the previous night flooded her consciousness.
First of all, why should he still have the fingernail marks that she’d made on him over a week ago? Shouldn’t they have been healed by now? Secondly, why had he come to her for comfort, rather than one of his regular harpies? And why had he showed such raw emotion in front of her? And why – she squeezed her eyes shut, willing her mind to turn itself off. If it didn’t, she would overthink the situation, and she was tired of thinking.
It was that thought that propelled her into action. She was tired of rehashing everything she’d done wrong, when it did no good. She rolled over and snuggled close to him, stretching out and bringing the front of her body flush with the back of his. She even dared to press several light kisses to the nape of his neck before she drifted into sleep once more.
For his part, Draco had never been more confused in his entire life. He remembered the events of the last few days in snatches – nothing was coming clearly to his memory, as though it was filled with holes. He remembered hearing of his Father’s death and that an Auror had caused it. His first thought had been that it must have been her way of retaliating against him, but once he’d calmed down and thought it over a bit, his next logical thought was Potter.
Potter had always hated his family, and especially his Father. Potter was an Auror and therefore had had ample opportunity. The next thing he remembered was making the funeral arrangements. Then he remembered somehow making it to Pansy’s flat, where he collapsed on the sofa, too drained to think about much of anything.
Pansy had been trying to comfort him when he’d looked up and seen her staring at him with those doe eyes of hers. He remembered seeing the sympathy and concern that she had no business directing at him, and he’d snapped at her.
The next thing to invade his mind was the funeral. He’d suffered through it all, trying his best to ignore the hateful looks and icy glares that more than half of the attendees were shooting in his direction. After all, he was not his father; why should they be angry with him? He could have done nothing to protect the man, even if he’d been there with him.
Then it began. That ache inside of his chest; the feeling of being hollowed out and becoming an empty vessel. As much as he’d loved his father, he’d known that the man’s death was imminent – it had simply been a question of when. He’d always surmised that Lucius’ passing would incite terrible rage in him – but here he was, numb. Devoid of any emotion.
He didn’t like it.
Even anger was something. He needed a shock to the system – something to jolt his nervous system back into action. It was then that a shock of red hair flashed in his mind, and he recalled the emotion in her eyes as she’d stared at him.
He wanted that.
Even if he had to steal it from her or garner it under false pretenses, he wanted someone to feel something towards him – something other than the loathing that these people so clearly felt and didn’t bother to hide. He’d disapparated from his Father’s funeral without a second thought.
She’d been ready and it seemed if he thought about it hard enough, he could almost imagine that she’d been waiting for him. She’d assuaged his tears, and she’d let him take what he wanted from her, without a qualm. She’d never once voiced to him that he’d failed to bring her to orgasm - though it hadn’t gone unnoticed for long – and she’d never asked him for anything more than what he’d offered.
In turn, it had made him want to give her something in return – the only thing he knew how to give, without turning the night into a sparring match. She had accepted his offering, and he’d received a shower of kisses that made him light-headed even now, just at the memory of them. It sounded like such a cliché, and he knew it was stupid, but he just couldn’t think of another phrase to describe it – she had literally stolen his breath away from him.
And then for her to just have fallen asleep next to him, limbs entangled, bodies melded together – well, it spoke volumes. Whether she knew it or not, she trusted him. Had any other woman ever really revealed so much to him as she had?
And then the morning had dawned, and with it had brought the startling realization that she was ashamed of him. She had to be – as soon as the light had begun to flood the room, she’d closed the blinds and drawn the curtains, and anger had flooded through him. So he’d been good enough to bed under cover of darkness, and it was all well and good for him to expose his raw emotional wounds to her, but it was only with the condition that she not be forced to look on his face?
No, he supposed, the reality of what she’d done would probably have killed her.
And then she’d gone and snuggled up to him again, even going so far as to pepper tiny tickling kisses across the back of his neck. His world had exploded into a billion different directions, giving birth to a whole new universe.
What in the holy hell had he gotten himself into?
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
When Ginny awoke the second time, she was unsurprised to find that Malfoy had vacated her bed. She stretched her arms above her head and sighed, her eyes slipping shut again. Moments later, she heard a sound from the other room, and she bolted up in bed, clutching the sheets to her breast. When his white-blonde head appeared around the door, she froze in surprise.
He didn’t say anything as he registered the emotion on her face for what it was – shock. She blinked once, then twice, and he stepped into the room to begin searching for his shoes. They hadn’t been in the kitchen where he’d initially confronted her, so he’d been searching her flat silently for them, so far to no avail.
She watched him glance around, looking for something. When her breath finally returned to her, she managed to climb out of the bed and frowned as she glanced at the floor where he was looking.
“What have you lost?”
He looked up, startled by the sound of her voice, and hit his head on her bed. Swearing to himself, he rubbed the top of his head gently with his right hand. It was then that he realized that she was still naked, and his jaw dropped. She continued to frown and glance around the floor, seemingly unaware of her own nakedness, so he cleared his throat.
“Aren’t they in the living room? Maybe the kitchen?” she suggested.
“If they were in there, I would have found them already,” he snapped, his thin patience about to give.
“Right – like you found your watch?” she quipped, finally reaching for a worn robe that had been tossed across the chair of her vanity table. He tried to ignore her as she tied the sash around her slender waist, succeeding for the most part.
She left the room and he continued to search, even dropping to all fours to peer under her bed. Through the open door, he heard “Accio Malfoy’s shoes.” Groaning silently, he stood and watched her walk back into the room, the leather shoes dangling from her fingers.
“Why didn’t you just use your wand?” she asked, handing them over. He frowned and ignored her as he sat on the side of the bed to put them on. “Well?” she repeated.
“Because I don’t have my wand,” he snapped viciously, his eyes flashing. “Satisfied?”
“Not really,” she muttered, sighing. “Look, I know you’re in a hurry and everything, but is there something I can get you? Coffee, or maybe a sobering potion?”
His fingers froze above his shoes, and he turned to give her a look of utter surprise. She thought he was drunk? Had he been slobbering and falling over himself last night, or something?
“I don’t need your courtesy,” he snorted, choosing to ignore her statement for the moment. He finished putting his shoes on and stood, smoothing out the wrinkles in his shirt.
“You needed it last night, though, didn’t you?” she replied, her voice cool but the room fairly crackling with her insinuation. He bristled.
“I don’t need anything from you,” he returned coldly.
“People need other people sometimes,” she sighed, her shoulders still appearing tense. “The sooner you accept that, the better off you’ll be.”
“People who need other people are weak,” he snarled, pushing past her and out into the living room.
“It’s weak to show a little bit of your humanity every now and then?” she demanded, following him. “How little you must think of your friends, then!”
“What friends?” he answered snidely, his lips curling up in a sneer. “Do you even think for one moment that they would still want to be around me if I weren’t richer than God himself?”
“Not everyone is going to be after your money!” she snapped, exasperated. “Pansy and Neville, for example!”
“Don’t presume to know so much,” he drawled, his rage cooling somewhat. “Precious Pansy hangs around me in the hopes of convincing me to attend her wedding, at which point she’ll expect some fantastically expensive gift from me.”
Ginny stared at him, stunned. “And Neville?”
“He comes because Pansy forces him to.”
She was almost afraid enough of his answer not to ask it.
“You…” his voice died as he stared at her – the woman who had accepted him last night, as the broken, sobbing, emotional mass that he had been. The woman who had asked nothing of him; had not, to his knowledge, used the picture of them together as any sort of blackmail. He looked her dead in the eye as he bit out the first thing that rushed unbidden to his lips.
“You do it to piss off your ex-husband.”
She took two steps forward, delivered a stinging slap to his left cheek, and went back into her bedroom, closing the door.
He stared after her for a moment, and then stepped into the newly scrubbed fireplace.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~
“What in the hell is going on with them?” Pansy raged, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. Neville stared at her, not knowing what she wanted him to say. “One minute, they hate each other, and the next minute, he’s spending the night at her flat?”
“You wouldn’t have even known that if you hadn’t done the tracking spell…” he started, gesturing helplessly. Her look shot daggers at him, and he held up his hands in supplication. “I just meant that-“
“I know what you meant,” she snapped, shaking her head. “You meant that I meddle too much. Well excuse me for wanting to know where my best friend was after he just disappeared from his own Father’s funeral without so much as a ‘kiss my arse’!”
“Did you ever stop to think that maybe he needed some time alone?” Neville posited softly, his eyes dropping to the lacquered surface of the coffee table in front of him. She paused and glanced at him, knowing that he was thinking of the day that his Grandmother had passed away. She remembered how he’d disappeared for two entire days, retreating to a place where he knew no one would find him. When he’d emerged, he’d made love to her like it would be his last time.
“If he needed time alone, why did he go to her?” She demanded finally. Neville shrugged and kept his eyes trained on the table.
“Maybe he needed someone to be alone with. Ginny has a sixth sense about things like that – she knows when it’s safe to push and she knows when she should drop it. Maybe he just needed to be with someone who wouldn’t push.”
“Neville Longbottom, so help me, if that was a shot at me-“ she started warningly. He grinned weakly.
“You can be rather pushy sometimes, love, but no – I wasn’t taking a cheap shot at you.”
Her shoulders relaxed, and she sighed. “You know, I want my friends to be as happy as I am. Is that asking so much?”
“No, it’s not,” he said reasonably. “But I think that sometimes you have to leave people to their own devices, and let them make their own mistakes. Otherwise how are they going to learn anything?”
“But the waiting and watching is so hard,” she whined, pouting. “Especially when I know how great they’d be together!”
“If it’s meant to be, then it will,” he replied calmly. “Fate does a fine job all her own when it comes to bringing people together – you and I of all people should know that.”
“Yes, but you know that sometimes fate needs a little push.”
“Pans,” he said, rising from his seat, and taking her in his arms. “You know that Malfoy is a stubborn sod who’s used to getting what he wants, but his Father just died. I know that Ginny is a stubborn cow who’s only gotten one thing that she wanted in her entire life – and it just fell apart. You’re going to have to give them time to break on their own.”
“What if they don’t break, Neville?” she breathed, her look pleading.
“They will,” he said with certainty. “Even steel can break.”
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