Ginny sat in Pansy Parkinson’s sitting room, teacup in hand, eyeing the other woman warily.
Pansy raised an eyebrow. “Do stop looking at me as if I were going to spontaneously bite you, Ginny.”
“That!” Ginny exclaimed. “That right there. It’s unnerving when you’re nice."
Pansy gazed at Ginny blandly. “Yes, well, one does like to try something new every now and again. I’m giving ‘civil to the working class’ a go. Do let me know how I’m progressing, won’t you?” she asked, sipping demurely from her teacup.
Ginny met her gaze. “I find it unnerving.”
Pansy sighed. “Yes, well, I’ve nothing if not tenacity. I will endeavor to try harder.”
There was silence, then, “You’ve gone mad, haven’t you?”
Pansy sat her teacup down and tossed her hair behind her shoulder. After clearing her throat very delicately, she said, “I find that I’ve noticed the absence of your presence in the past few weeks.”
Ginny grinned. “Oh, Pansy, don’t be afraid to say it. You’ve missed me.”
“I wouldn’t go quite that far,” the other woman assured her. “As I’m sure that you’re doubtless aware, Draco has had another auror escort him here for the past two weeks."
Ginny chuckled. “Oh, dear. I do hope Ron has behaved himself.” She’d been so desperate to get out of the responsibilities of that part of her job that she hadn’t given any thought to the fact that there were some times that her brother forgot to use the manners that Molly Weasley had instilled in him.
“Your brother,” Pansy sighed, “is wonderful.” She leaned back in her chair with a contented expression on her face. “His letters are charming.”
Ginny was dumbfounded. “He’s written you letters,” she stated, in disbelief.
Pansy’s lips twisted into a smile. “He has.”
“I’m at a loss.”
Pansy’s eyebrow raised again. “Color me unsurprised.”
“Now there’s the Pansy I recognize,” Ginny said with a chuckle.
The brunette nodded. “Right. You bring it out in me; what can I say? Anyhow,” she continued seamlessly, “my point was that your brother has been escorting Draco here and you have not.”
“Yes,” Ginny uttered, unfazed.
“Let me guess,” Pansy said, putting a finger to her lips. “Draco was an arse?”
Ginny stayed silent; she merely sipped from her cup and picked an invisible piece of lint from her robes.
Pansy rose and began to pace, a frustrated expression on her pretty face. “First and foremost, before we can even begin to sort any of this out, you will have to admit that you feel something for him.”
“Contempt,” Ginny answered, looking out the window and avoiding Pansy’s gaze. “Scorn. Nausea, on occasion.”
“Stop,” Pansy commanded. “These are clearly untruths.”
“Are you calling me a liar?”
“Well, as I don’t have any sort of speech impediment, I suppose that I am,” Pansy shot back. “If the term fits,” she said with a wave of her hand.
Ginny put down her teacup and exhaled heavily, frowning. She fought internally for a moment before blurting, “He’s absolutely maddening!”
A ghost of a smile appeared on Pansy’s lips. “Yes,” she said simply. “I know.”
“He’s completely self-centered, focused solely on his own needs.”
“Mm,” Pansy replied.
"He’s hurtful and he says thoughtless things.”
“Yes, I recall,” Pansy murmured. “A real bastard.”
“But,” Ginny continued, frowning, “he’s also really intelligent, you know? And a good conversationalist. He makes me laugh without really even trying.”
“Me, too,” Pansy agreed.
“And then there’s the fact that he’s grown up rather nicely,” Ginny said, her words running over each other, struggling to get out. “I mean, he’s sort of beautiful, right?”
Pansy giggled. “He does have a nice arse, doesn’t he?”
Ginny grinned. “Bloody fantastic. And I’m a little in love with his shoulders.” After it had sunk in just what she confided to Pansy Parkinson, Ginny’s expression went from giddy to horrified in an instant. She couldn’t seem to stop what came out of her mouth at this point, but she was fairly certain that she didn’t need to sit and have a cup of tea and a nice chat about her crush on Draco Malfoy with Pansy Parkinson, of all people.
Ginny looked down at her cup and back up at the other smirking witch. “What have you done?” she asked, knowing that something wasn’t right. Something was not right at all.
Pansy pointed her wand at Ginny, and before Ginny could react, ropes had twined out of the end of Pansy’s wand and bound Ginny to her chair. “Calm yourself. It’s just a little Veritaserum. It won’t kill you.”
Ginny’s voice was deadly. “Untie me.”
“No,” came the familiar voice from the doorway. Ginny looked up to find the face of her brother glowering at her with a bloodied lip and a bound, murderous looking Draco Malfoy in tow.
Pansy leapt up and moved to Ron’s side. “Oh, darling! What happened?” she asked, her concern evident.
“Darling?” Draco inquired, his tone incredulous as he looked from Pansy up to Ron and back again. “Darling? When the hell did that happen?”
Pansy ignored Draco, gingerly placing her hand on Ron’s cheek. The simple action made the redheaded man blush and give her a smile.
“He was a little more difficult to persuade than I thought he’d be,” Ron confessed.
“Yes, well,” Pansy said, giving a delicate little cough. “I don’t like to say ‘I told you so'…”
“Pansy, that’s at the very tip top of the list of your very favorite things on the planet to say,” Draco spat darkly. “Don’t start off your little fledgling relationship with untruths.”
“I like telling you ‘I told you so,’” Pansy continued, poking him savagely in the chest. “But I like this one.” She turned back to Ron and smiled.
Draco looked away. “I’m going to be sick.”
From across the room, Ginny cleared her throat. “I might lose my patience soon, Ronald,” she hissed, glaring at her brother.
“Right,” Ron responded, tearing his gaze away from Pansy long enough to shoot Ginny an apologetic expression. “Sorry about the extreme tactics, Gin, but Pans said it was the only way.” He smiled down at Pansy again, putting an arm around her tiny waist.
“Pans?” Draco asked, nearly shrieking. “You tell me that’s not a nickname. Tell me that right now, or I swear I’ll be sick all over your antique, family heirloom, handwoven Turkish rug.”
“Do shut up, Draco,” Pansy said evenly, not even bothering to look in his direction. “You see, Ginny,” Pansy offered, “Both of you are being stupid about the other, so I convinced your brother you needed a nudge in the right direction.”
“No need to ask how she managed that,” Draco sneered in disgust.
Pansy placed a gentle restraining hand on Ron’s chest and he relaxed from the advance he’d started in Draco’s direction. “Don’t be crass, Draco darling,” Pansy warned. “The methods to get you here were undoubtedly mine, but we both agreed that the two of you needed this.”
Pointing her wand in Draco’s direction, she murmured a spell to move him across the room and secure him to the chair across from Ginny. “A dose each of Veritaserum and a nice, strong binding spell.” She sighed happily. “Talk to each other,” she commanded.
Ron nudged her, and she rolled her eyes and sighed. “Please,” she relented, raising an eyebrow.
“Because you’re driving the rest of us mad,” Ron added, giving Pansy an approving gaze.
“True. Very true,” Pansy agreed. She kissed Ron lightly on the mouth, a soft smile on her lips. “Shall we go?”
Ron returned her smile, blushing to the roots of his hair. “Yes. Privacy for these two.”
“And for us,” they heard Pansy giggle as the two left the room.
There was an uncomfortable silence for a few moments as Draco and Ginny regarded one another warily, Draco with open curiosity and Ginny with fleeting glances.
“What happened between those two?” Draco asked, finally breaking the silence.
“Dunno,” Ginny answered. “Mad, eh?”
Before she could think to stop herself, Ginny blurted, “So apparently she’s still set on not marrying you.” Gritting her teeth against the potion, she blushed and looked down at her knees, embarrassed.
“You’re beautiful when you blush.”
She looked back up to see Draco with a panic stricken expression at the admission he’d made, and she couldn’t help a chuckle. “Thanks.”
Another horrified expression. “It’s that horrible speaking the truth, eh?" Ginny asked, tossing her hair behind her shoulder.
“Different,” he admitted. “Not altogether unpleasant.” His eyes widened as he looked at her, clearly not believing what he was admitting. “So what about you?” he queried. “Why did you leave me outside this wretched house the last time we met?”
“You insulted me,” she answered honestly.
“How?” he asked. “How was I to know that you fancied me? I’m not a seer!”
“But you are an arse,” Ginny accused.
“Yet you fancy me,” Draco said confidently.
“Yes,” Ginny bit out. She frowned. “But I don’t want to be your second choice. I don’t want to be the one you choose only after Pansy Parkinson shoots you down.”
“I never wanted Pansy,” he said defensively.
“No, you want your money,” she filled in.
“Yes, he agreed readily. “I mean no. I mean I was simply doing what the courts ordered me to do.”
“Even though there was another suitable pureblood right in front of you?”
“I didn’t think you’d ever have me!” Draco shouted.
“Well, I would have,” she informed him. “But you were too up yourself to even consider it.”
“I was not up myself!” he protested. “You were all ‘ministry employee!’ Professional, cordial and aloof.”
“Was I?” she asked, trying to remember. “Really? I thought we got on well. I guess I realized that you were funny and smart and started to resent you for selling yourself out to Parkinson,” she confessed.
“She’s not all bad,” he said, his gaze dropping.
“What?” she asked, dumbfounded. Even after all that she’d put him through, even under the Veritaseum, he was still defending her.
“Do you love her?” Ginny blurted, cursing the clear, tasteless potion and the witch that had slipped it in her tea.
“No!” he all but shouted. “I mean, I might’ve once, when we were young. But now? No. No, I don’t. I think I could love you, though.” At once, his ropes dissolved and he was free. He smiled and stood, and leaned down on the arms of Ginny’s chair.
Ginny looked up at just how close he was. It wasn’t a poetic declaration, but Draco wasn’t necessarily a poetic sort of bloke. Frowning, she replied, “I don’t want to marry you just so you can get at the gold in your Gringotts vault. When I marry, I want it to be because I’m in love and I can’t live without my husband, that we‘re miserable apart.”
“Do you love me?” he asked.
For the hundredth time, Ginny cursed the Veritaserum. “Yes,” she answered truthfully.
“And are you miserable without me?”
“A bit, yeah,” she bit out.
"Just a bit?"
"Don't push me, Malfoy," she said warningly, a smile on her lips. "There's no telling what I might do."
"No. he said, loosening her bindings. "But I intend to find out."
Author notes: There's just the epilogue left! :D
To Be Continued.
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