After facing Voldemort as a teenager, it was easy to remain indifferent to the coldly polite and openly hostile faces of the Wizengamot. The hostility was expected. Even the curious and excited expressions among the press and the usual crowd of onlookers was quite normal. What Draco hadn't been ready for was the awful feeling of abandonment and his own need to find a worried or friendly face. There wasn't any.
Soon the Chief Warlock opened the session, the charges were read, 'not guilty' pleaded, and the proceedings went underway. There was witness after witness, none of whom said anything Draco was even remotely interested in. He couldn't find Ginevra. Had she not come? Had she given up on him? No, she had promised she would be here. She must be sitting somewhere behind him. Probably.
“Mr Benford, you were the barman on duty at the night of the murder, is that correct?”
“Did you see Mr Malfoy that night?”
“Can you tell us the exact time you saw Mr Malfoy?”
“Yes, sir, but I only saw him for a moment. It was sometime after eleven p.m.”
“So you can't really tell us anything about the defendant's whereabouts at the time of the murder?”
It was an imbecilic system, Draco thought. What was the point of offering the vial to each and every witness, if only a random few got real Veritaserum, while most would drink water? The saddest thing was, that with his luck, the people getting the serum would hardly know anything worth telling, and all the others could lie their arses off. As Mother Luck had never been on his side, Draco told himself that to hope was foolish, but Granger still asked each and every witness if they knew the identity of the killer. So far, it had given them nothing. Draco wasn't foolish enough to hope for a miracle, and wizards didn't pray. Sometimes, Draco wished he did.
“What did Whittacker Walters tell you exactly, Ms Nobbs?”
“Only that someone was gonna pay 'im a lot of dosh for a job.”
“Do you know what kind of job it was?”
“Nah, he didn' tell me.”
“But you had an idea?”
“Yeah, well...” Ms Nobbs flushed scarlet. “There's only one kind of well-payin' job tha' Wally got. I think-”
”Do you even know what my name is?”
“What? Malfoy?” Smirk.
“You know what I mean, Weasley.” There was no obvious reaction to his threatening tone, so he demeaned himself into asking, “Are you ever going to use my given name?”
There was a pause of serious contemplation.
An eyebrow rose and another pause, this time for plotting, ensued.
“So you want me to resume calling you She-Weasel?” A polite enquiry.
A toothy grin. “Would you?”
A serious reassurance. “I would.”
“You wouldn't!” An indignant anger and a narrowing of eyes as an after-thought.
“Wouldn't I?” Polite surprise.
“No, you wouldn't!” The 'or else' is heavily implied.
A moment of put-on contemplation. “Hm...” More thought. “Maybe not.”
“Draco!” A gentle reprimand, then an indignant exclamation, “Draco!”
“Does it make us friends now?” she asks.
A gentle smile. “Perhaps it does.”
A pat on the head. “You are welcome, Malfoy.”
“Do you really believe that the person you saw killing Astoria Malfoy was her husband, Mrs Zabini?” Granger asked.
“Yes, I do. I saw it with my own eyes.”
“For the protocol,” the prosecutor cut in, “Mrs Zabini's memory has been examined in the Pensieve, and there was no evidence of it being tampered with.”
“Is it confirmed by the Manslaughter Department experts that the image of the murderer seen in the memory, is one of the defendant?” the Chief Warlock asked.
“Yes, it is.”
“So, unless it can be successfully proven that there has been an unauthorised Polyjuice usage, there is no reason to doubt Mr Malfoy's guilt?”
It was then that Draco decided to tune out everything around him, except for the bright, coppery locks he thought he saw at the edge of his vision. Very slowly, he turned towards the sweet vision. But Pansy's shrill voice, denying charming the cup, made him focus back on her. So much for Mother Luck; it was clear that Pansy Zabini got pure water in the vial of the supposed truth serum. What was the point in giving it to anyone at all, if in the end only minor witnesses drank it?
However, it seemed that Granger would not be giving up easily.
“Mr Zabini, how do you know that your wife did not plant the charmed chalice into Mr Malfoy's bedroom?”
Before the prosecutor had the chance to object to the unrelated question, Blaise answered.
“I know that she did.” The man's eyes widened, and Draco had to bite into his cheek to keep from smiling in surprised satisfaction. It seemed that Blaise had gotten the serum.
There was a pregnant pause before Granger spoke again.
“How do you know that your wife planted the chalice?”
“I helped her charm it.”
Through the rush in his own ears, Draco faintly registered hearing several other gasps.
“To what purpose did you help your wife create the Portkey?”
“I wanted Malfoy to disappear from the face of the earth, so that everybody would assume he ran to escape justice.” It was clear Blaise was trying to keep himself from answering the questions, but apparently, it was impossible.
“You mean, you wanted Mr Malfoy to take the blame for a crime he didn't commit?”
At that point, several things happened at the same time. Blaise bit out 'yes' and leaped up from the witness chair. He sprinted towards the exit, casting a couple of hindrance and obstruction charms. Half a dozen people, several Aurors among them, jumped after Zabini and Draco had to curse the chains that bit into his flesh.
It was only fifteen minutes later that the Chief Warlock decided to adjourn the session, until the escapee was caught. Still, it was unclear how much the new evidence would influence the case. The fact that both Zabinis wanted him to take the blame did not automatically mean that he was innocent, Draco knew that. But it had to raise some doubt in the Wizengamot, didn't it?
Draco was pacing his cell in the Ministry dungeons. What if Blaise didn't even know anything concrete? What if when they caught him, the Veritaserum had already worn off? Would he be administered one more dose? Draco didn't think so. But he was sure Blaise would be interrogated and so would Pansy. Would they crack her? Did she even know anything? What if Zabini was the murderer? Would they ever catch him to find out?
Either way, the Zabinis would be charged with an attempt on his life, but would it change anything in his trial? If the proceedings went on without further investigation, he was doomed. It would be really foolish to hope that Zabini would get the second batch of the real truth serum by accident.
The cell door opened with a screech, and Draco whirled around to see Ginevra enter.
“Did they get him?”
She shook her head, and Draco's hopes crumbled. It had been too long; they would never get him now. He looked away from her, but something in his face must have betrayed him because Ginevra suddenly stepped close to him and wrapped her arms around him.
“There's a chance that they'll decide to go on with the trial,” she said quietly after a while. “Since it's unclear how long the pursuit will take, or even if it will be successful, they might decide to continue.” She shrugged. “Hermione is doing all she can, but...”
Her voice trailed off, and Draco nodded. His eyes stung; the muscles in his stomach tightened so as not to give way to the tremors, and Draco had to swallow back something that was not a sob. For a moment he stood in her arms, hard as rock, not moving, not breathing, but then his arms twitched and he hugged her back. But just for a moment, and then he would let her go. A moment was all he needed.
Hours turned into days and the hearing proceeded as if nothing had happened. Draco was told that the investigation about Zabini's whereabouts and the attempt on his life was in full force, but it didn't seem to change anything in his own case. It was as if no one thought it had any relevance to Astoria's murder. As he sat, strapped to the chair, in the court room every day, Draco didn't even pretend to listen any more.
Ginevra visited him every day in his cell, and Granger had assured him that only minor witnesses were called forth. She said that everybody was actually waiting for Zabini's capture, or at least for the Aurors to reach some concrete conclusions.
Draco didn't believe a word of it.
Ginevra was holding his hand and Draco let her. They were sitting on a cot in his cell. It was very quiet.
“Did you know there was a cave under the bank on the other side of the lake?” he asked, not looking at her.
“No, I don't think I've ever been there. I think Luna and I wandered more towards the Forbidden Forest.”
“There's no such thing as too much danger, is there?” Draco snorted apathetically. “It was a very nice cave, if a bit damp. Pansy and I used to go there back in third year. Or fourth. She threatened to push me into the water once, because I had hexed Daphne in Charms. I think Pans imagined herself jealous.” His lips twisted into a resemblance of a smile. “We were supposed to be dating, you see. I doubt she even remembers it now.”
Ginevra raised her eyebrows. “Weren't you dating then?”
He smiled. “Sure, if you call that silly hand-holding dating.” He took a proper hold of her hand and rubbed his thumb gently over the back of it. “It didn't really mean anything.” Draco felt Ginevra's gaze on him and looking up, he noticed it heavy with something. “It should have. But it didn't.” Was it anticipation? Curiosity?
Draco let go of her hand so quickly it was almost thrown back to her. He stood, and with one long stride, he stepped to the far wall where a window should be. Should. What a bitter word; it characterised his whole situation so well.
“Why do you come here?” he asked harshly, without turning around. “You shouldn't. Do you know that every time you do, I hope that there is good news, and every time I see your face, I know there isn't, and it kills me just a little bit more each time?”
He heard a rustle of clothes as she rushed to him. “Draco-”
“No.” He stepped away from her, but there was really nowhere to go, so they stood merely inches apart, face to face now. She looked worried and compassionate, and somehow it fuelled his anger. “Don't come any more, Weasley. I don't want you to.” Ginny opened her mouth to say something, but he didn't want to be reassured or pacified. He didn't want her to be understanding of his inexcusable treatment of her.
“You know what I want?” he asked her instead. “I want you to kiss me. I want you to kiss me as if it means something. As if it means everything. And then I want you to smile that happy little smile, that says you want to do nothing more than to smile at me, and then I want you to go.”
Without allowing his hands to touch her, he pressed his body to Ginevra's, full-length, and brought his lips to hers. They were soft and inviting and closing his eyes, Draco felt his passion rise. He broke it off almost immediately. The kiss lasted just long enough for him to start wanting more, but this was exactly how he needed it. The hint of a promised future. Still, with his eyes closed, he imagined her face: flushed, happy and surprised, her gaze tender and her lips opened a bit in readiness.
Then Draco leant in again and kissed her face gently all over, whispering, “Will you smile at me, love? Please? Smile at me like it means the world to you. Will you?” he begged quietly. “Please, Gin, please,” he breathed.
Finally, when he was ready, he opened his eyes, and there it was. Her smile.
Draco was pacing again. This time it was an energetic, anxious pace. He knew what was coming. The verdict. Any minute now. And so he waited. The trial was over. It was over. Although Draco had known the outcome from the start, it was only now that he understood that all this time he had been hoping for a miracle. A sharp pain of bitter regret twisted suddenly in his insides.
There were heavy steps of a prison guard at the far end of the corridor. It was too soon; he wasn't ready. He would never be ready. Draco regretted a lot of things now, but mainly he regretted that he hadn't fled before being arrested or in Malaysia. He regretted never again seeing strands of heavy copper hair shining in the autumn sun. He regretted never running his hands through her silky hair again.
The steps arrived behind his cell and stopped.
It was too soon. It had been a little over a week since Zabini's escape, and only about fifty minutes since the Wizengamot had parted to discuss the verdict. They must have made their decision before even parting. Bastards. Draco heard the guard mutter an incantation, and the door opened. It was the same burly man that had escorted Draco into his cell earlier. Draco presented his wrists to be bound, but the guard's urgent whisper stopped him.
“It's Ginny. Polyjuice. Just pretend you're bound. Let's go!”
Not giving Draco time to adjust, he – or she really – almost pushed Draco out of the room, and automatically he proceeded in the usual direction. In his inner turmoil, he barely noticed a couple of other guards coming to a halt at the far junction of the corridor, and when he found a wand being pushed into his hands, Draco froze. It was almost with relief that he felt a familiar tugging behind his navel.
Draco landed on a dusty wooden floor, feeling disoriented. Why had Ginny done what she had? It was so unlike her - did she already know the verdict? At that particular moment, Draco was more confused than grateful.
“Gin?” he called, looking around. He was in a large room resembling a Muggle warehouse. An abandoned warehouse. As he stood up, his mind finally registered the Portkey-wand having been wrenched out of his hands upon landing, and the hairs on the back of his neck rose.
“Gin?” he repeated, but looking at the guard, he already knew that whatever answer the man would give, Draco wouldn't like it.
"Fell for that, did you?" the voice said with silky harshness, which despite the wrong pitch, was all too familiar.
“Zabini,” Draco muttered.
The other man nodded, acknowledging the truth, and both wizards stood quietly, just looking at each other for a moment.
“Why?” Draco asked, angry at himself for being fooled again, for feeling so scared and helple- angry. He was angry.
Zabini raised the foreign eyebrows on his square forehead, as if leading polite small talk in a parlour. “It's nothing personal, Draco. I just can't have anyone questioning your culpability.”
“And you think killing me will solve the problem?”
“Not entirely, but I'm sure it will help if they never find your body. I already killed Nott for even smaller reasons. It couldn't make me feel much worse to finish you too.”
“He tried to blackmail you? Did he really have anything on you?”
“Not really, I don't think. To tell you the truth, I just panicked. He just Flooed me in the middle of the night and threw a couple of vague ideas out, I came through and... Shouldn't have killed him.”
“Indeed,” Draco said, as he stared intently at the wand in the other wizard's hand. “So, why did you kill Astoria?” he asked. “Not that I mind.”
“No, you wouldn't, would you?” Zabini said in a dark voice. “You didn't like her very much at the end either. No one did, I'd wager. Except for my precious wife, of course.”
“Pansy?” Draco already knew all about that – Ginevra had told him – but he had to keep Zabini talking. “Is that what it's all about? Were they lovers?”
“Lovers?” Zabini spat the word. “Is that what you think they were to each other? It was bloody obvious that they were in love to anyone with more than two brain cells. But I guess you never saw anything past your own sordid relationship with her, did you?”
Draco felt his eyebrow twitch in surprise but he managed to stop it from rising. “In love? Astoria? Don't be absurd.”
Zabini nodded. “Maybe not her. But she manipulated Pansy into believing that she was. Astoria hurt Pansy. Cruelly. Thoughtlessly. Every. Fucking. Day.”
“And she had to die for it?” he said, imperceptibly moving closer.
Zabini scoffed. “You're one to talk! Didn't you dream of killing off all of Astoria's lovers? But that's the story of both of our marriages, isn't it? Man loves a woman more than she loves him. Typical really, isn't it? Women are just-” He stopped as his body convulsed.
Draco leapt and pushed a tower of boxes on top of the changing wizard. He tackled Zabini, and for a moment they were a bundle of limbs and fists, and Draco felt the thin stick of wood in his hands, but the next moment he was sprawled on his back, Petrified.
A part of Draco wasn't surprised. Of course he knew that he had never been a very athletic wizard, and in his own body or not, Blaise had always been of a stronger build.
“Don't do that.” Zabini sounded annoyed. “You were never one for a fistfight, Malfoy.”
You are no Potter either, Draco wanted to say. And you have the wand.
At that moment, Draco knew this was the end. Nothing had changed since leaving the cell and it was better than the Kiss, really. It just seemed so unfair that no one would ever know. That Ginevra would never know. He hated feeling so helpless. Hated Blaise for killing him, and Astoria for making a fool out of him, and himself for letting all that happen. But most of all, Draco hated himself for giving up. He looked at Blaise, now in his own body, pointing the wand at him.
“Go ahead then,” Draco said, as he felt the spell wearing off.
Time was standing still and Zabini was still frozen, his hand stretched out, holding what would soon be the means of Draco's death.
“Why couldn't you just drown?” Blaise whispered. “It would have been so much easier.”
“Was it easy to kill Astoria?”
“Yes!” The answer was almost ripped from the man's throat and there were tears in his eyes. “I hated her so much for taking it all away from me, when really, what did I have to begin with? Certainly not Pansy's affections.”
He was talking quietly now, and Draco sensed that it was more to put off the inevitable than from the need to get it off his chest. Draco could commiserate; he'd had his Astronomy Tower too.
“You used to be my friend, didn't you?” Blaise went on in a melancholy voice, and Draco felt it safe to get up from the floor.
“Yes,” he agreed, but only to continue the conversation. “So why did you do it?” They both knew that he wasn't talking about the murders.
Blaise shrugged. “I wanted her approval. Always have.” He sounded now more resigned than anything. “Pansy thought it would have been a 'thrill' to get Astoria to dump you. I thought it was because she was still hurt over your break-up.” A humourless laugh escaped him, but it was cut short. “I waited for so long for her to finally love me. So patiently.”
Draco saw Zabini looking at his signet ring. For a long minute he completely still. When he raised his eyes back to Draco, the look in them was dead. Blaise wasn't pointing his wand any more, and the quiet desolation and misery in his pose made Draco unwilling to do anything else but hear him out.
“You know that moment when you finally realise that whatever you do, you cannot win? It just hurt so bloody much to see the chalice in Astoria's rooms, but it hardly matters now.”
“The one we charmed into a Portkey for you? It had been my anniversary gift to Pansy. And she... She just gave it away, along with her affections. It had an inscription 'With Love'. Fitting, isn't it? It hurt so much. And now...” Blaise rubbed wearily at his forehead. “It was Pansy I wanted to kill. Not Astoria. It was her.”
With these words Blaise raised the wand to his temple and Draco closed his eyes. He was not surprised to hear a quiet 'Avada Kedavra' and a dull thud of a falling body.
Briggs was absolutely useless. Draco's nostrils flared.
“How did you make Mrs Zabini take the poison?”
“Exactly. What did you poison her with?”
If it had been physically possible, Draco would have banged his head on the table. “I am telling you, the last I saw Pansy was when she hexed me at the Ministry-”
“Let's start from the beginning, shall we?” the thickest of the pigs in the Wizarding Piggeries interrupted him and Draco closed his eyes. He decided not to answer.
It was so bloody unfair! How many times was he going to be abducted just to be almost killed, and then manhandled by the Aurors because of his supposed escape attempt? So. Bloody. Un. Fair! Draco had been so careful to plan everything so that there could be no misunderstanding his voluntary surrender. And still he had been hexed, bound, and delivered into the Auror Headquarters like a Christmas turkey on a platter.
Draco started as the pig's fist pounded on the table. Yes, he had zoned out, but he had a good reason to. Why should he listen to people who didn't listen to him?
“Why did you kill Theodore Nott?”
“Who is your accomplice? Who helped you escape?”
“Did you kill your wife?”
“Did your accomplice poison Mrs Zabini?”
A strong feeling of déjà vu swept over him as he sat in Interrogation Room Four. His hands were bound behind his back, his muscles aching. It had been hours. Or at least it seemed as if it had been hours. The only consolation was that he'd had the presence of mind not to Apparate straight to the Ministry. Instead, after Zabini's entirely fortunate (or as it now seemed, unfortunate) death, he had gone home, showered, changed and eaten. Then, and only then, had he sent an owl to Ginevra with a brief outline of what had happened, inviting her and Potter to take him in and clear up all this nonsense.
What Draco hadn't known when planning his return was that Aurors Weasley and Potter would be out of the country, because there had been a 'Zabini-sighting' in Prague. And since when was it acceptable to open personal mail only because it was written by a fugitive? He hadn't even used the family crest stamp!
Draco could be speaking Trelawney for all they cared; if he wasn't confessing, they weren't listening.
“An abandoned warehouse, you say? Where is it? You don't know? And Zabini's body is there? So how did he die? Trip on his wand?”
By the time they dragged him back into his cell, Draco almost wished he had a wand to trip on, too.
“Where is he?” Ginny shouted, steaming past all her colleagues to the Chief Auror's office. “Why is Draco Malfoy still under arrest?” she demanded, as soon as she was over the threshold of the Chief Auror's office.
The Chief Auror's expression was calmly wooden as always, and his tone was stern. “Aren't you still on probation, Auror Weasley?” he asked, gesturing to his two underlings, whom Ginny hadn't even noticed, to leave.
“Yes, I am,” she continued, ignoring her better instincts, “but Draco is innocent and you know it! Why is he still in a cell?”
“Auror Weasley.” Her boss's tone had turned glacial. “Pull yourself together; I don't tolerate childish hysterics from my Aurors.”
Ginny bristled. “I am not being childish! The evidence-”
“Mr Malfoy's statements,” the Chief cut her off, pronouncing every word with the precision of an operating Medi-Wizard, “are being investigated and his memories tested as we speak. This is a very sensitive case of almost nationwide relevance, Auror Weasley. Before we have irrefutable proof about anything, I have no intention of releasing anyone.” He paused, but as Ginny refused to provide any confirmation that she understood, the Chief Auror continued, “So unless you are ready to face very serious repercussions, you will get your act together. Now. Is that clear?”
Although her boss had not raised his voice once, his tone had gone deadly, and Ginny managed to bite back the rash words on her tongue. After a heavy pause, she muttered, “Yes, sir.” But it was only because she had no idea what else to do.
Fortunately, it was only an hour later that Draco Malfoy was released and Harry took Ginny to his office to give the final touch to his paperwork.
“Nott must have known about Zabini being the culprit,” Harry said. “Probably tried to blackmail him, poor sod.”
“Yes, but how did he know?” Ginny was measuring the office with her footwork.
“Maybe he just guessed. Maybe he sent the same note to several people and Zabini was the one who reacted.”
“That would have been ingenious, Harry! Why didn't we think of that?”
“I just did.” Harry grinned.
He interrupted her as if a sudden thought struck him. “Remember, Pansy said that Astoria asked her to come by some other time, and she'd thought it was because of a new lover? The note was probably written by Blaise.”
“Yes, I remember. What? You think Blaise and Astoria...?”
“No. I don't think so. But if Zabini planned it well, he had to be sure Astoria was in and alone. He must have sent her a note which he destroyed upon arrival.”
“Maybe it was a false note, seemingly from Pansy... No, Pansy got a note from...”
Harry interrupted her, “Zabini might have sent notes to both women, seemingly from each other.”
“Oh, I don't care, it all makes my head spin.”
“Or maybe...” Harry was relentless. “The note asking for an audience with Astoria was signed seemingly from Nott. Zabini must have guessed that Astoria was blackmailed because at least one of her lovers, and she wouldn't dare refuse to see Nott.”
“You think Astoria was paying Nott for something? Oh, the Pansy affair!”
“Yes, it would seem so. Zabini's and Malfoy's names were both in the book. It was rather sexist of us to think that they belonged to the husbands.”
“And both women paid him for the same thing?” Ginny grimaced.
Harry shrugged and smiled. “Why not? I don't think blackmailers have very high work ethics.”
“I can't believe they didn't get in touch with you when Draco wrote me,” Ginny said after a moment. “He was interrogated for almost four hours before anything he said sunk into their thick skulls!”
“Banks and O'Rourke were just doing their jobs, Gin, you know that. Besides, they knew that the Wizengamot had already decided his fate anyway, didn't they?”
She nodded with a sigh. “Bloody Wizengamot! Most of the old codgers were just blind with prejudice.” Ginny's tone was dark. “Thank Merlin the memory experts were still in the lab, or else Draco might've had to stay all night.”
Harry didn't look very compassionate, but he nodded. “The memory in itself was quite an interesting one. I'm not sure I would have believed Malfoy if I hadn't seen it for myself.”
Ginny shivered. “I still can't believe Blaise killed himself.”
“Why not? He knew he was wanted for the attempt on Malfoy's life, he knew that Pansy would never care about him. What else did he have? And I can't shake off the feeling that he somehow knew that Pansy was dead, but I can't think of a way he could.”
Ginny's head jerked up. “But they had linked wedding bands! Pansy showed me after her second interview!” At Harry's confused gaze she explained, “It's one of those pureblood family things. A married couple links their rings to see how their other half is. The Zabinis had red rubies on theirs, and if one of them died, the other's stone would have gone black. Blaise must have looked at the ring!”
Harry nodded, understanding. “He really had just lived for his wife then, hadn't he?” He shook himself. “It would have been romantic if it weren't so pathetic.”
“Yeah... But isn't it ironic that both Zabinis killed themselves virtually for the same reasons?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, they both killed themselves because the future seemed bleak without the loves of their lives and the Aurors on their heels. What a harmonious end to a messy marriage.”
“And I thought that the Malfoy marriage was twisted,” Harry remarked.
Just as soon as Harry released her from her duty, Ginny Flooed straight into Malfoy Manor. The first thing she did when Draco came into the room was to put her arms around his neck. Trembling from relief, she buried her face in the crook of Draco's neck. His body grew tense at once and he tried to step back from her. She tightened her grip, but didn't raise her head.
“Listen, Weasley,” he said in that slightly irritated tone that didn't fool her for a minute, “whatever you thought this was, I'm sure it was nothing I was thinking.”
“Listen, Malfoy, I'm sure that whatever you thought it was, it's so much more than you could ever imagine.” She bit down on the skin of his neck lightly and he jumped. “Besides, you were the one that wanted me to smile at you. Now be a man and take it.” She kissed the bitten skin, and Draco shivered.
After a short while Draco put his arms around her and said, “Take what?” She was relieved to hear that the anguish in his voice had given way to amusement. “Are you saying your smile is so awful that I have to be brave to endure it?”
“Well, you were the one that made it to mean whatever you made it to mean, so you tell me.”
“No. You know I love your smiles,” he answered. “But could you stand me smirking back at you? I'm not sure I can smile the same way you do.”
“What, you're all smiled out?”
“Pretty much,” he said ignoring her attempt at lightening the mood.
“Don't be silly, Malfoy, you know that's not true. But if it bothers you that much, I'll allow you to start small.” She felt him smile against her temple. “See? There it is, the beginning.”
The silence was comfortable, but short.
“So do you want to know now?” Ginny asked.
“If I do or not?”
For a moment there was a confused silence, but then she felt him start and relax slowly.
“Do or not what?” he asked, but she knew that he had understood.
Ginny stepped back and thumped him on the arm. “You know what, you git! But fine, if you don't want to know, I won't tell you.”
For a moment Draco just looked at her.
“And you would really tell me, just like that? Without knowing if I do too, first?” He raised an eyebrow.
Ginny stood straighter and raised her chin. “Well, I was sorted into Gryffindor, wasn't I? Besides, I already know you do too.” She paused. “Whatever it is that we're talking about.”
She grinned cheekily at him and it seemed there was no power on earth to keep Draco's lips from grinning back, because he did.
“Yes, Gryffindors tend to be over-confident.”
“And Slytherins tend to be over-cautious,” she bit right back.
“True.” He stepped slightly closer to her. “So, will you promise to smile at me every day, for a very, very long time?”
She took a step forward again and put her arms around his neck. “Of course. At least as long as you try to smile back.”
Author notes: If you noticed any themes from the film “Unfaithful” with Diane Lane and Richard Gere, then yes, that movie probably influenced me.
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