Ginny sat in her office thinking about Draco Malfoy, the man that she was a liaison for. It’s insane to fancy him, she thought, Insane. I can’t have feelings for him. I’m supposed to escort him. It’s absurd, and it has to end now. Whatever happens in the future, I must be a professional. I must.
Weeks passed, and although Ginny faithfully escorted Draco to Parkinson manor each week, he was making absolutely no headway with his fellow former Slytherin. Pansy was sometimes rude, always cranky, and never let Draco forget how he let her down during the war. To his credit, Draco kept trying with a tenacity that impressed Ginny. However, true to the vow she made to herself, she remained silent when Pansy railed at Draco and always let him determine their departure time.
She did allow herself to chat with him a bit on their way to the Apparition point each Tuesday. Their conversations had gone from forced and stilted to easy and comfortable. They covered old school friends, favourite foods, Quidditch strategies, and even how big they wanted their families to be someday. She learned that he liked playing Chaser more than Seeker; he had a soft spot for banana pudding, and wanted to alternately strangle the life from and buy a pint for her youngest brother, just as she did. They had a lot in common, in addition the fact that he was absolutely gorgeous and also seemed to like her. It’s so hard to be good, she thought, while she was watching him tell a story about Harry, Ron, and a pig outside of Hogsmeade. He’s perfect. The only trouble was that it was her responsibility to supervise his courtship of a convicted war criminal, who, incidentally, hated him. Oh, yeah, there’s that sure, but past that…
Twelve weeks. Twelve Tuesdays. Tuesdays were quickly becoming Ginny’s favourite day of the week. Draco did incredibly romantic things for Pansy, though she ruined them all without fail. He suggested afternoon broomstick rides; she broke the brooms into splinters with her wand. He brought chocolates; she threw the box at his pristine white dress shirt. He brought her flowers; she sprinkled Bulbadox powder on them. He practically begged, pleaded, and cajoled; she was rude, hateful, and consistently unforgiving.
After Pansy had thrown half of her great-great grandmother’s tea set across the room, shattering two of the place settings beyond a Reparo, Draco decided it was time to leave and nodded Ginny towards the door.
Screeches and cries of, “That’s it; retreat, coward!” rang clear behind the closed door.
Ginny shook her head, staring at Draco. “It’s about time. I was wondering if you were waiting on a written invitation to leave. I was considering sending you an owl from across the room.”
He shrugged. “She wasn’t that bad today,” he replied, startling slightly when something crashed against the door behind them.
“Let’s go, Draco. Live to fight another day and all that.”
“She’s crazy, you know.”
Draco shook his head. “No, I think she just really doesn’t like me.”
Later in the week, Ginny went to Parkinson Manor alone. When she was shown into the drawing room, she was met with a different sight than she was used to. Pansy was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor, surrounded by photographs. When Ginny’s eyes found her face, she realised to her horror that the girl had been crying. Pansy saw her, stood quickly, and wiped her eyes. When she spoke, her voice lacked the venom it usually held. “I wasn’t expecting company today, Weasley. What do you want?”
If Ginny had to pick an adjective to describe her demeanour, she’d have chosen ‘resigned.’ “Parkinson? Are you alright?”
Pansy squinted at the redhead. “No, I’m not bloody alright, Weasley,” she answered softly. “I’m crying in front of the enemy,” she said in disgust. “I’ve lost my bloody mind.”
“I’m not the enemy.”
Pansy gave a wry smile. “You’re not? You’re my best friend now? Is that it?”
Ginny shook her head. “No. But I have come to talk to you.”
Pansy motioned to a part of the room not strewn with photos. “Fine. Have a seat. Talk. Tea?”
“No, thank you.”
“Do you mind if I?”
“Of course not.”
Pansy rang for tea and then thumped the elf that brought it in. She glared at him and bent down poking a finger on his chest. “I haven’t forgotten that you let her in without telling me first. We will discuss this later,” she said ominously. The elf poured two cups for the girls then scuttled out quickly. Pansy settled in her seat, peering at Ginny over the edge of her teacup.
“Well, Weasley?” she prompted softly. “I did fairly well in Trelawney’s class, but my inner eye is a little rusty. I’ll need you to actually speak.”
Ginny was disconcerted. She knew exactly how to handle Pansy when she was horrible but was completely out her element with this new, subdued version.
Pansy grew impatient. “Spit it out, Weasley,” she said a little more loudly. “I don’t have all day.”
That’s better, Ginny thought. “I’ve come to talk to you about Malfoy.”
Pansy closed her eyes and placed her teacup on the table. “I really, really don’t want to talk about him, Weasley. Can’t I interest you in a cursed ring? It’s killed seventeen Muggles or something. I’ll go find it for you right now.”
“No, Pansy. This needs to be said.”
The dark-haired girl laughed mirthlessly. “I can see that you are unstoppable. Do carry on.”
Ginny dove in head first. “Why are you making him suffer? You and I both know that you’re going to marry him. This act of loathing him is just making you both miserable.”
Pansy stood and crossed the room, hugging herself. “You have it all figured out, don’t you Weasley? It must be so nice to know everything.”
Ginny frowned and decided tea wasn’t such a bad idea. “I don’t pretend to know everything,” she said, taking a cup.
“Please. If you were any smugger you’d be Granger.” She turned to face her. “Let me tell you a little something you don’t know. I’ve been reminiscing as of late, looking back on snaps from Hogwarts. I loved him then, did you know that? I really did.” She bent down and picked up one of the photos and handed it to Ginny.
The younger Pansy and Draco were sitting in the Great Hall, photo Pansy giggling and kissing his cheek and looking at him adoringly, while photo Draco rolled his eyes and scooted away.
“But he didn’t love me.” She smiled sadly. “He didn’t even like me. He still doesn’t. I remind him of all the bad things in life. The things he managed to be smart enough to escape. I see a piece of his soul die every time he comes through that door, and yet he persists. I’ve done everything I can to repel him. I’ve taken nastiness to an entirely new level, and still, every week, I have to watch him come in here and humble himself before me. I make him miserable,” she continued, “and I refuse to watch him die on the inside little by little just to make myself happy. I won’t do it. I can’t. I love him too much.”
Ginny continued to drink her tea in silence, listening to the other woman talk.
Pansy sat down, found Ginny’s eyes, and smiled. “I know this is terribly uncharacteristic of me, but he’s very persistent, and so are you. You make stubbornness into an art form. I have a request, Weasley. Stop bringing him here. Make him find someone else.”
“I can’t. It’s my job.” Ginny finished her tea and put it on the table.
“You don’t care if I destroy him? You want him to be miserable?”
“No,” she replied, “of course I want Draco to be happy, but--”
Pansy stopped her. “Draco? You call him Draco? Oh, I see. Draco. You two have become chummy then, eh?”
Ginny flushed scarlet. “No! It’s not like that.”
Pansy nodded. “Alright.” She moved to Ginny’s chair and picked up her empty teacup, peering into the depths to inspect the dregs. She smiled sadly. “Oh, Ginny, I think it’s exactly like that.”
A few days later, Draco and Ginny exited the Parkinson manor again after being witness to another massive fit from Pansy. Up to this point, Ginny had stood her ground at not interfering. But after receiving several covert, pleading looks from Pansy, Ginny decided that perhaps she would try to help the girl.
“Draco?” Ginny asked. “It’s been three months. If she doesn’t like you by now, it’s kind of unlikely that she won’t like you in the future. I’m pretty sure that today’s tea set was Limoges.”
Draco smiled. “Straight from Louis XVI, I believe.”
“You’re joking. Give it up, Draco.”
He rounded on her, suddenly serious. “This is my life, Ginny, don’t you see? This is the only life I know! How do you think ‘Draco Malfoy, former convict’ would get along without money? Do you seriously think that the Ministry would hire me? Do I actually have marketable skills? No. I know society. I know deceit. I know which one is the fish fork and which one is the salad fork, but I don’t know how to live without money. I think I deserve to have my house and my mother’s belongings back. I made my amends for the horrible things that I did, and now I’m trying to follow the blasted Ministry’s guidelines for getting my old life back and marrying Pansy Parkinson is my last hope.”
“But you haven’t even tried any other girls!”
“Yes, I have. At every turn, there’s been a deep and resounding no. No one wants me. No one.” He shrugged, calming a bit. “Pansy’s sure to wear down eventually. Every time she’s ever been put out with me, it’s only ever taken time to get back into her good graces.”
Ginny searched frantically for a name he was sure to have overlooked. “You can’t have tried everyone. What about Marietta Edgecomb?”
“Despite the fact that I can’t look directly at her face without retching, she said no.”
“Rivals Millicent Bulstrode in weight class, has a face made for the Wizarding Wireless, and yet she turned me down flat.”
“Millicent, as well, then?”
“She threatened to kick my arse if I so much as mentioned it again, and I have a healthy respect for her right hook. And Granger is hot for Blaise. Potter already suggested it. Believe me, I’ve exhausted every option.”
“Said hell, no.”
He laughed. “Said she wouldn’t have me shoved up her--”
“What about me?” Ginny interrupted.
He stilled at the interruption, smiling and frowning at the same time. “You? You wouldn’t say no, Ginny? You’d endure the stares of people that’ll never see me as anything but a Death Eater? You could put up with people talking behind your back?” The smile left his face suddenly, leaving only a scowl. “Or is it the money? Tired of being poor, Ginny? Exactly how far would you go for a nice set of dress robes and a fancy house?”
He was silenced by a stinging slap across his cheek. “How dare you?” Ginny cried, unable to stop the tears that filled her eyes. “How dare you say that to me?” She squared her shoulders and looked him in the eye. “Good luck, Mr. Malfoy, with your little project here. Someone else will be handling your case from now on. Goodbye.”
And she was gone.
Draco was left alone at the Apparition point. The wind whipped his hair into his face, and a sudden realisation dawned on him.
What have I done? he thought. Had she been serious? He sighed. Merlin, I’m a gigantic arse. I’ll fix this. I have to. He went off to find Ginny, and hopefully to make things right.
Author notes: ******************
Pansy's not all bad, huh? I happen to have a very soft spot for the old girl.
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