Ginny searched for him everywhere – the streets, the hospital, the ministry. Everywhere she could remember ever seeing him, accidentally or otherwise. She boycotted his apartment and several times tried Apparating in, only to discover that it has been cleaned of his possessions and abandoned, She lurked at the back corner of his favorite coffee shop each morning, but he seemed to have forsaken his daily ritual of the blueberry muffin. She stalked the stores he frequented and even once cornered Tracey Davis, who was his friend and a sales person at a prestige robe boutique, in the storage room and demanded to know of his whereabouts, leading to her short and eventful encounter with the store’s security. She tried barging into the research facility he worked at, but her unauthorized attempts were once and again thwarted by the overly zealous guards. She went as far as Apparating in front of Malfoy Manor and kicking his entrance gates, shouting furiously at the top of her lungs declarations of his vast stupidity. The house elves, sent there to dissuade the intruder, were less than impressed and even Cilli – who had been placated from her previous outburst with boxes of detergents and cleaning powders – treated her coldly.
“Master wishes to inform you that he is currently occupied with a lady friend and does not appreciate being interrupted,” said one of the elves, Brownie, in the most pompous tone his swinish appearance allowed him.
Ginny was outraged. “You tell that joke of a wizard that whatever hag he has up there can be easily deflated and stuffed back into her box! Tell him to get here right now!”
But even after pleas, threats and not so inadvertent hexing of the gates and the insufferable elves, he refused to come out and talk to her.
Frustrated, irritated and feeling utterly hopeless, she had regressed into the solitary existence she carried on before Draco tricked her into the entire ordeal with the wishes. She got up before her alarm clock went off, stayed beyond her obligatory hours at the hospital, refused any social calls and devoted most her time to the children’s ward. The children didn’t seem to mind, but the nurses eyed her tartly when she stayed there more than they did.
At some moments, she began to think that she might have imagined everything that has happened. It seemed to make more sense to her haggard mind, than the fact that Draco had indeed been able to perform those miracles and in passing also creep into her heart. But catching sight of Hermione on the streets, happily eyeing the display window of a baby shop, having Luna mention Blaise in her frequent owls and still have the Harleys send her flowers every now and then, only proved to her that those were not hallucinations of her overworked mind, and that she had indeed screwed everything up royally.
She hadn’t met with Oliver anymore. He had owled her the next day, his letter concerned, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. She wrote back, saying that all was well with her, but that she thought it would be a better idea for them to not see each other again. He didn’t reply and she hoped he wasn’t too hurt.
Ginny caught herself time and again trying to think back to that evening, each time wondering what had exactly transpired between them. Her mind made it no easier, for it was a collection of jumbled images and searing sensations. Oliver had been a mistake, she admitted vehemently to herself - the mere thought of something happening between them that night made Ginny nauseous and highly uneasy. Draco’s words still echoed in her mind in unguarded moments and she found herself cringing at their laden derision – “You didn’t even notice, did you? You were so wasted you didn’t even notice!”
But Draco… what did happen with him? His voice was harsh, his eyes were dark and his entire body was as taut as of an animal ready to strike. She had no inkling of doubt that he had hated her then with all the passion he could muster. She had shown him her weakest side – drunk, mumbling, unable to stand on her own two feet – and he had seen nothing but a foolishly na´ve girl undeserving of his further interest. Was there interest before? She wasn’t sure! She was so insecure that at the thought of all his smiles, his help, their conversations and their silences, she immediately managed to scrape up some unrelated excuse. After all, she had been nothing more than an ‘experiment’ to him, wasn’t she? That is what he said himself.
Then why did it hurt this much? If there was nothing between them why did she toss and turn each night and hate herself so zealously for making that last wish? Why did she gasp and quiver all over every time she remembered his hands, his lips? No, it was futile to deny it. She might have been just an experiment to him, but he had meant more than that to her. He had meant so much more and that is why she got so angry that night when he said there was nothing but their deal between them and yet proceeded to touch and look at her in that unnerving way. That is why she pushed him.
Realization hit her and nestled in her stomach like a poisonous snake. She wanted him, but he was such a cold and clandestine bastard, that she never had the chance of knowing what he wanted unless he decided to tell. And now, he never would.
Driven deeper into her frustration, through which traces of despair were showing their hideous little heads, Ginny tried to take her mind off of it with more work. More paperwork, more potions brewing, more research of healing charms. She practically moved in to her office and rarely managed to scrape herself out of her chair long enough for her to Apparate home. A bit belatedly her friends and family started to notice.
Her colleagues, alarmed at the amount of work she seemingly accumulated, incessantly offered to help, but were politely turned down every time. Ron and Hermione invited her over for dinner time and time again, but she couldn’t bring herself to see them so happy and watch Hermione’s growing belly as a living reminder of him. Colin offered her to get away, take a few days off and head to the country to clear her mind, but she invented some mysterious country allergy and dodged that as well.
At last one evening, when she thought that all the good-wishers were over and done with, the door into her office was kicked open and in marched the dainty form of one Luna Lovegood. Not sparing the redheaded witch a moment to speak, Luna brandished her wand, skillfully sending Ginny to hang as a puppet in midair.
Sputtering from shock and surprise, Ginny managed only to make a hasty grab for her own wand before she was easily disarmed of it. With horror she watched Luna catch the wand, and finally broke through her silent stupor.
“Luna, what is the meaning of this? Put me down this very instance!”
“My, Ginny, I never noticed how very much like McGonagall you sound when you’re bristled,” Luna commented airily, taking a seat in one of the visitor chairs, her wand still help upright as she waved it slightly, sending Ginny’s levitating body to swing to and fro with what Luna definitely presumed would be a soothing rhythm and only managed to irritate the beast further.
“I swear on Merlin’s beard, I will have your knickers on display above the Hogwarts Quidditch pitch if you do not put me down now!”
Luna tutted. “You should really go over your repertoire of threats, Ginny. You’ve used – and executed – that one in our seventh year.”
The redhead growled, making wide flailing movements in her feeble attempts to swim through the air. Giving up, she groaned loudly. “It obviously didn’t make big enough of an impression. Lun, why am I suspended in the air?”
“You were doing such a poor job with your perspective on the ground, I thought I should help you change your point of view,” the blonde replied with heartfelt simplicity.
“What are you talking about? I didn’t mention anything was wrong in any of my letters.”
“I do not need specific reports to be told when my friends are being attacked by Groundings,” Luna responded quite quickly, her brows furrowing into a subtly displeased expression.
“Groundings!” Luna repeated the word, looking at Ginny with exasperated air of a teacher with her most dense pupil. “Limbless parasites whom seep through the floor and nestle in your shoes, using small imperceptible discomfort to your feet to cause depression, irritation and anxiety, eventually culminating in a suicide! I will not let you kill yourself, Ginny Weasley, I have put too much effort into training you.”
“Tra— Luna! Put me down! There are no limbless parasites in my shoes!” Ginny barked, trying to appear as dignified as possible while being swayed carefully from side to side. She failed.
“Why are you depressed then?” the former Ravenclaw countered stoically.
“I am not!” the redhead insisted, clenching her fists and gritting her teeth. When Luna made a motion to increase the mellow swaying, Ginny growled. “All right, all right! I’ve been feeling slightly out of place lately, that is all. It is temporary, it shall pass, and it does not require me being suspended in midair and moved in recurring waves! I’m getting sea sick!”
The blonde was unimpressed. “I would prefer you to be seasick, than death sick. Now tell what has happened between you and Draco?”
Ginny stopped struggling, hush lingering over her. “What makes you think something happened with Draco?”
Giving her a slow once over, Luna pursed her lips. “You mean beside the fact that you turned into a rabbit the moment I mentioned him? Your previous letters lacked any mention of him while those before had nothing but. Plus, he seems to have rediscovered his friendship with Blaise and insists on making up for proverbial lost time now. Now, Ginny, after I finally got him. I haven’t had the chance the tie him to a bed and do ungodly deeds to him for over two weeks. Two weeks, Ginny, do you think I am enjoying this situation?”
Ginny could clearly see that she wasn’t.
“So, this is what I suggest,” Luna began speaking again after a moment of silence, standing up to her feet and walking over the desk to stand just beneath Ginny’s hovering body. She glanced at her watch. “You are going to figure what it is that went wrong with him that needs fixing, who is to blame for this row and who is to compromise, and what you are going to tell him next time you see him. And you are going to have all about… eight seconds to figure all that out before I’m Apparating us to my flat where my boyfriend and our unfortunate third wheel prepare dinner.”
The redheaded witch blanched. “What? No, Luna, you can’t do this to me. This isn’t right, this isn’t fair, Luna, no. Luna, stop looking at your watch! Don’t you dare do th—“
Luna’s vibrant voice chirped out, “Time’s up!” and Ginny felt her entire body fold in on itself, encased in darkness as the magic carried her off.
Ginny wasn’t quite sure who was the most surprised of the quartet - herself at the sight of two grown wizards wrestling like mere Muggles on Luna’s floral carpet, or Blaise Zabini, who obviously wasn’t expecting to be caught red-handed trying to murder one of his closest friends. Luna didn’t seem baffled by the brute display at all, and Draco was too busy being unbecomingly pressed to the floor to bother with such trifles as surprise.
The blonde Ravenclaw was the first to speak. “Honey, is there a reason you’re holding our dinner guest in a half Nelson?”
“Yes,” Blaise blurted out plainly, taking a moment to shove Draco down again when the other seemed to struggle. “I am trying to convince him he is not hungry.”
“By breaking his esophagus?”
“Seemed like a good a way as any,” the burly black wizard replied a moment before Draco’s foot arched gracefully and kicked Blaise in the back of his head, causing him to lose his attention and allowing Draco to land a few strategically placed punches and kicks and finally squirm his way out of the vice grip.
Draco clambered over the sofa, trying to distance him as far away from Blaise as possible, all the while shouting, “Lovegood, you harpy! What have you done to him! He was never this aggressive before!”
Luna remained as calm as a breeze among the scampering of two grown men around her, and simply sighed in response, her voice as soft and clear as always. “Elementary, my dear Malfoy. By your mere presence you have prevented him of sexual intercourse for the past two weeks. He has obviously finally reached his limit. This is very disappointing, really. I have expected him to do something like this a week ago. Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was.”
At the last part, Blaise stopped the chase and stared at her, seemingly affronted. “What?”
Luna blinked at him. “Which part were you uncomfortable with? Me expecting this sort of behavior out of you or me doubting my sexual prowess?”
“The second one!” he yelped in reply, waving his hand empathically.
The blonde Ravenclaw smiled her little scary smile. “That was just to stop you chasing Draco around and avert attention to our new guest.”
At that moment both wizards turned to look at the still hovering Ginny, who had watched the exchange with slight amusement and subtle wariness. From their reaction it appeared to be they haven’t noticed her until that very moment. Blaise suddenly straightened up and carefully smoothed out his shirt before tilting his head in a slight greeting bow. Draco just stared, his expression expressing nothing, even if there was anything to express.
“Moonbeam,” Blaise started after cleaning his throat. “Is there a reason our guest is… airborne?”
“I charmed her there,” was the short and simple reply.
Blaise blinked twice, then smiled and drew Luna closer to himself, planting a soft kiss on top of her head. “Of course you did.”
Ginny watched the exchange and was utterly struck by the sweetness of it when Luna just smiled a small happy smile and scrunched her nose slightly at his kiss, like a child secretly enjoying their parents’ embarrassing display of affection. She chanced a glance at Draco and felt her stomach sink seeing him take no interest in her levitating self and simply staring out the window. She suddenly felt very stupid and small and would have paid all her fortunes to be taken back to the darkness of her office.
She asked Luna to lower her down, her voice quiet and serious. She was no longer willing to allow her eccentric friend her quirks. She wanted to leave and she wanted to do it with as much of her dignity as was left intact.
Luna was indisposed to cooperate. Shaking her head vehemently, she said, “Not until you get him off our back.”
Draco seemed to have perked up his mention, but Ginny bit her tongue and stared down at Luna. “There’s nothing I can do about that. Mr. Malfoy and I are not on speaking terms at the moment.”
Luna glanced down at her watch once again, waited a beat and looked up, preening. “Moment passed. Take him.”
“Luna,” Ginny spoke again, a simmering undertone to her voice. “Down.”
Grumbling loudly, the former Ravenclaw waved her hand at the hovering woman and that slowly descended onto the wooden floor, holding onto the wall until her footing was regained.
“Thank you,” Ginny murmured and extended her hand to her friend. “Now, my wand, please. I’m afraid I won’t be able to stay for dinner. I have prior engagement.”
Ginny deemed to see Draco snap his eyes away from the window and glare at her, but she refused to look and ascertain. It would be too awful to see him glare at her again. “My wand, Luna,” she repeated slightly impatiently.
Luna seemed to think for a moment before shrugging and looking at her friend not so apologetically. “Left it in your office. Sorry.”
“Y—you little rat!” Ginny barked, making a swipe at Luna who simply giggled and danced out of her reach and behind Blaise, who was utterly amused and completely comfortable playing the shield.
“I truly am sorry, Gin. If you really can’t stay for dinner, I understand. I’m sure Draco would be thrilled to walk you back to your office,” prattled on a widely-grinning Luna Lovegood, her hands wrapped around Blaise’s middle and peeking from under his draping arm. “He is such a gentleman, you know.”
Ginny couldn’t stop the snort that followed. “My arse,” she mumbled and rolled her eyes, turning away from the couple and heading to the door. There was no chance in hell she was staying for dinner with a newlywed couple – for that is what Blaise and Luna were, despite the lack of proper papers – and him. And there was absolutely no chance in hell she would ask him to escort her.
She rested her hand on the handle and paused. Her anger and irritation at Luna began to simmer down, making way for discomfort and cautious prodding. She could leave now and continue the drab existence of overexerted days and sleepless nights, or she could turn around and talk to him. Talk to him like she wanted to two weeks ago when he had just disappeared. Wasn’t this what she tried to accomplish when she made a scene at his workplace and in front of his house? Weren’t those antics completely and utterly unlike her and all because she wanted, needed to see him and he refused to. Well, he was there now. He wasn’t leaving, and if she wanted to, if she would just turn around, if she would just swallow her pride, she could talk to him.
She let go of the handle quite slowly and equally slowly turned around. She needed to struggle with herself for every muscle, every movement, because there were voices in her mind, frowning and scoffing at her antics, claiming that if he really cared than he should have been the one to swallow his pride and talk to her, make a grand gesture to let her know he truly loved her and no one else. But then, she had more callous views of Draco than her subconscious. She knew he was stubborn and childish, and if someone needed to take a step back and relent, he never would. So she made the sacrifice. She made the first step.
“Draco,” she called out to him and watched him glance at her over his shoulder, his eyes light grey and indifferent. Not saying a word, he turned away. It stung, but she was nothing if not stubborn as well. She glanced at Luna and the blonde nodded once, dragging Blaise out of the apartment with promises of public sex. With a gleeful skip to his step, Blaise followed her and so Ginny was left alone with Draco for the first time since that night.
Taking a deep breath, she walked over to the window and stood a bit away from him, but still close enough to feel his movement. “We need to talk,” she said simply and waited for his response. Moments slithered by and there came none. Sighing, she ran a hand through her hair, her eyes slipping to his lightly bandaged hand, which he hastened to hide.
Rolling her eyes to calm her flittering heart, she spoke again. “Draco, please.”
This time there was something in her voice that made him look at her, just a brief glance, before he took a pointed step away and stalked off.
She had half a heart to give up. Wasn’t it clear now what he thought of her? Didn’t this display of disrespect and utter distaste to her presence show perfectly just what his feelings were? She felt her heart clench.
She turned around and was about to say something more when she saw him walking back towards her, his expression void of any sympathy. She watched silently, her eyes growing subtly with something akin to hope, but then he stopped, seeing something in her eyes he couldn’t bear, and turned away growling, this time heading straight for the door.
Her heart broke and she thought another step would kill her. “Draco!”
He paused, glancing over his shoulder. “You wished to never see me again, remember?”
Ginny felt frustration and regret wash her over anew. She threw her head back, beseeching deities and breathing deeply before facing him again. “You know I didn’t mean that. That… it just came out, I— I don’t want—”
Turning around, he seemed unimpressed and just cocked an eyebrow at her words.
She rubbed her face, leaning against the window seat behind her, for the first time realizing this might be too difficult for her. She usually could easily handle patients, doing that on a daily basis, but Draco was proving to be worse than the most belligerent child. “What do you want from me? What can I do so you would stop acting like a child and talk to me?”
This was a bad choice of words, because Draco’s expression hardened in an instance. “Go talk to Wood.”
Scowling at her, he turned away again, seeming to have given up on any attempts of communicating with her.
Panicked, she pushed herself away from the window and followed him. “Draco, no, stop this! There is no Wood, all right? There never bloody was! There was wine, there were low lights and there was a warm body beside me, and I thought it didn’t matter who the body was, but—damn it, stop walking! It does matter and it was stupid, but I didn’t know! I thought—and then, I didn’t think, because if I had given it a serious thought, things would’ve been so much clearer. I just—I don’t know what to say, alright? I don’t know what you want to hear, but look at me! I’m scared shitless! My stomach is churning concrete, it seems, my hearts wants to jump out and my palms sweat like I don’t know what! And I feel sick, but I know this is not illness, I just—I don’t know what this is and you’re not helping!”
He had stopped a while ago and was standing very still, not moving a muscle as she spilled out such a torrent of unconnected phrases that she suddenly felt very embarrassed. She tried to mumble once again that she didn’t know what was happening, but she stopped talking when he turned around, looking straight through her into the depths of that forgotten part of her she no longer frequented.
When he finally spoke she felt both relief and dread overcome her senses. “Why did you push me?”
She squeezes her eyes shut, terrified she might start crying, but there were no tears, just weariness. If she answered truthfully, he would not understand. Hell, she didn’t completely understand the whole mess of whatever took reign within her mind. But she had to speak, because she couldn’t let him leave her now. She fumbled with words for a moment, took a long breath and started out clearly.
“When… it was him, Oliver, who touched me,” she bit out, seeing his jaws clench momentarily and his eyes blaze. “It… it didn’t matter then. As I said there were wine and soft lights and he seemed so interested that I was flattered. It had been a while since anyone looked at me that way and I figured that since it didn’t matter anyway, I wouldn’t mind. But… when it was you, I… I couldn’t. Not after you saying I was just an experiment,” she looked down, suddenly very interested in her hands. “When you said that, it… suddenly it was so clear because it—it hurt. So, it didn’t matter before, but as soon as I knew—knew what I want, I got so scared. I had never been this scared before and—I couldn’t let you touch me if I was nothing but the experiment to you. I—I simply couldn’t.”
Draco remained silent for a long moment before speaking up. “That’s not good enough, Ginny.”
She snapped her eyes back up at him and saw him stare at her, the mercury of his eyes visibly darkening. He took a step closer and for a moment she thought he would take her hand again, pin her to the nearest wall and touch her like he had touched her then. Oh, how she wished it. But he only clasped his hands at the back, not trusting himself in her proximity and stared on at her.
“Since you obviously have had an epiphany, please share. What it is you want, Ginny Weasley?”
She faltered for a moment, drawing a shaky breath and pushing it out as a puff. “I don’t want things to be this complicated.”
“Doesn’t answer my question,” he cut brusquely, tilting his head in half a shake.
She sighed again, feeling herself nearing a brink she never knew was there. She was not used to being this bare and this opened in front of anyone for such a long time. She didn’t know how long she could take it before she broke down. “I want things to be as they were.”
“Wrong again, Gin.”
“I don’t want you to be this angry, this disappointed with me,” she blurted miserably, oddly feeling like she was grasping for straws that weren’t there.
“I’m neither angry nor disappointed with you and you know that very well. Ginny, you’re not answering my question at all – what is it that you want?”
Irritation growling low within her, she shook her head, staring at him. “I can’t say it! This isn’t fair! I’ve already spoken enough and you have said nothing but reproach! You say what you want!” She glared at him, but there was feebleness in her eyes and she knew she bore no real conviction because she felt so utterly tired all of a sudden. She thought she had put him on the spot, that she had managed to make him shut up and swallow his own words, but it was not so.
Still staring at her – staring, staring, he hadn’t done a single thing but stare, and she couldn’t take it, she wanted him to touch her! – still crisp and so perfectly controlled, he replied to her question. “Right now? I want you to tell me that you want me as much as I want you, because these past weeks had nearly killed me with doubt. I want you to know that I nearly killed Wood last week when accidentally running into him. I want you to know that I’ve drunk myself to hell and back. I want you to know that I haven’t treated my hand beside the bandages, and I want you to feel guilty about this because it hurts like a bastard. I want you to know that Wood was never one of the five bachelors, that it was just some divine retribution against me that the bastard took my place. I want you to stop looking at me with those wide frightened eyes because I can barely hold myself back as it is. And I bloody well want you to tell me what the hell it is you want?”
He raised his voice by the end of that speech to speak over her sudden laughter. He stepped closer and pulled her sharply against himself, encircling her waist with a pair of strong arms and pressing her tightly. His fašade finally broke at the sight of her laughter and slipped on a small smile, one eyebrow arched at her with amusement.
Recovering from her hysterics, Ginny wiped off the tears that trickled down her face, moving to hold onto his shirt and tug him slightly closer. “You chose yourself as the fifth bachelor in my wish? How… vain. What would’ve happened if I had fallen for one of the others?”
Draco smirked, slightly shaking his head at her words. “Impossible. I searched especially for the biggest idiots in all of the United Kingdom just for this. Now stop talking rubbish and tell me what I want to hear, woman.”
She smiled, leaning to him and reveling in the feel of his chest so close, and the rhythm of his heart echoing through the flesh. “I… want… you really going to make me say this? This is very embarrassing.”
He growled deeply and stared her down.
“Apparently you are. All right. I want… I want… I want—“
“Oh, for the love of Merlin! Just say you love me already, woman!”
She laughed at his loud frustration and finally acquiesced. “I – and trust you me, this came as a complete surprise – love you, Draco Malfoy. But I am mental, it’s been said before, so nothing viable ever came from my mouth, so you sho—“
“Shut up,” Draco murmured finally, cutting off her monologue as he leaned in closer, searching the lips that have been denied from him for so long. Sensing her tense slightly with anticipation, he suddenly halted, a frown on his face. “If I try to kiss you, are you going to shove me into the fireplace again?”
“Luna doesn’t have a fireplace,” Ginny whispered hoarsely, disbelieving he was actually doing this to her.
He pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Yes, but she does have a functioning oven. This is the kind of a thing that would deter a bloke from trying to kiss a girl, if each time physical injury was the outcome—“
“Draco! There is a whole Gryffindor house of blokes I can be staring adoringly at right now. If you should not be so kind as to snog me silly, I will take my lips elsewhere.”
Tossing his head back, he laughed at her irritation, tightening his grip around her just in case she thought of trying something of the sort at that moment. Finally, glancing down at her, he shook his head pitying. “Poor little weasel, you think you have half a chance of getting out of my death grip. Tsk. Besides,” he added nonchalantly, dipping his head down and whispering against her lips. “I’d kill them all.”
Ginny’s lips melted into a grin and she pushed herself up on her tiptoes to finally seal his mouth with her own.
“Weasley, you’re ready?”
“To be a human guinea pig? No, not really, Dr. Kevorkian. Let’s just get this over with.”
“Ginny, you astound me! Human souls are not to be trifled with. Maybe you have no need for a soul in your everyday existence after all.”
“Draco, I have relented to give you my soul for the bloody experiment without the seventh wish – which, by the way, I plan on claiming in due time – and I have taken time from my very busy schedule to do this, so would you please be so kind as get on with this so I can get back to my office.”
“All right, all right, you harpy. Blame a bloke for wanting to spend some quality time with his beloved.”
“If this is how you define ‘quality time’, you’re not getting anywhere near our children.”
“Should I be aware of something you’re not telling me?”
“Yes, Malfoy. I have a sense of humor. Something you obviously lack.”
“Well, never can be too careful, you know. What with all the illegitimate Malfoy bastards.”
“Yes, I’ve wanted to ask you about tha—“
“Okay, and we begin our experiment. Drink this, please?”
“What is this?”
“Alcohol. I want you to be pliant once I’m through with this. You’ve little idea how hard it was to maintain your chaste state all this time. I commend myself for the self restraint.”
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