Author's Note: Harry Potter and all related characters, settings, and terminology belong to JK Rowling.
This story was written for breereeves in the 2013-2014 DG Fic Exchange on LiveJournal. It won awards for Sweetest Fic and Best Minor/Supporting Character for Narcissa Malfoy! The original prompt will follow the last chapter. Thanks so, so, so much to Ha'niqua for beta-ing for me. She's awesome and so is her writing, so you should totally read her stories right now.
Chapter One: Cast On
"It's only two weeks," Draco groaned, his hand sliding up her naked stomach.
"Two—weeks!" Ginny said in between gasping breaths. "Too long." A hand gently grasped her breast, and she let out a little sigh. "Far, far too long."
His lips met hers with determination, which was how he always kissed her. Like he was trying to prove something to her, trying to convince her of something vitally important. She placed her hands on the sides of his face and pulled him away, both of them breathless, both of them wanting.
"Tell me again why we must abstain while your mother is staying with us?" she said, turning the command into a question.
"Dammit, Ginny. Don't mention my mother in the bedroom. It's such a mood killer."
She laughed at the disgusted look on his face, but she didn't let go until he answered her. His head fell, his attention distracted by her bare breasts and attentive nipples.
"Not yet!" she cried, laughing despite herself as she restrained him from placing his mouth where he—and she—most wanted it. "Answer me."
"You can't hide anything from her," he said in exasperation. "We could silence the room and she would still know. And there's just something wrong about having sex while your mother is under the same roof, knowing you're having sex."
She moved her hands from the sides of his face into his hair, permission for him to continue. As he sucked and laved her chilled breasts with his warm tongue, Ginny sighed again—in pleasure and disappointment.
"Two whole weeks," she muttered. "Must we put on the act as well?"
Draco groaned again, this time not from passion. "Is this really the best time to talk about this?"
She ran her fingers through his hair, lightly scratching his scalp. She knew how the gesture affected him and was pleased when she saw gooseflesh rise on his bare shoulders and back. She kissed the top of his head.
Sensing her unease, Draco sat up and pulled her up with him. He wrapped his strong arms around her body, and only then did her shivers cease. She hadn't realized she'd been trembling until he'd stared down at her with his piercing, knowing gaze, but this was all she needed to feel better. Him. Just him.
"I don't know what else to do," he admitted. "I wish she could believe that we're happy the way we are."
"We are happy," Ginny said into the skin of his pectoral. She placed a kiss there as well.
"But we're not… Malfoys. Not the kind we're supposed to be."
"You're worried, too," she said, looking up into his face and seeing crinkled lines around his eyes and creases in his forehead just before he replaced the worry with something like determination.
"I just want her stay to go smoothly."
"Two weeks," she muttered again, absently running her fingers down his chest.
"Two weeks," he agreed as he laid her back down, pressing her into the bed with his body.
For two weeks, they would have to act like real Malfoys. Ginny was only afraid that that was exactly what they would become.
Besides the occasional flip of a page as Narcissa and Draco read and the clicking of Ginny's knitting needles, the fire crackling was the only sound that filled the room. Normally Ginny found the sound soothing, the silence a comfort, not a burden, but tonight, every noise echoed in her head. She was all too aware of her mother-in-law watching her out of the corner of her eyes, and, as a result, she couldn't concentrate on her knitting. Not that she was very good at it to begin with, but Narcissa had asked to see some of her work. Since Ginny didn't have anything to show, she'd promised to make something during Narcissa's stay.
Why she had done this, she wasn't sure, except that real Malfoy women knew how to sew or knit or embroider. They probably also played piano, not Quidditch, and baked tarts and crème brulee for their husbands. Despite having a fantastic cook for a mother, Ginny had not inherited those kinds of domestic skills. The only reason Ginny had any idea how to knit at all was because of an interest she'd developed before she'd gone off to Hogwarts. Her mum always made the warmest clothes, and Ginny had wanted to learn her secrets. Unfortunately, she'd practiced the art less and less as the years had gone on, and now Ginny had to relearn how to make a simple sock. It didn't help having Narcissa's watchful eyes on her as she struggled with the yarn and needles.
Draco sat on the loveseat next to her reading the Prophet as if the room wasn't full of tension. She resented him a little for that, though she knew it wasn't fair of her. Draco had grown up in this world. He didn't have to pretend to be a Malfoy—he just had to pretend he wasn't married to a Weasley. Ginny, however, only knew how to be herself, and the pressure to conform to a lifestyle that pleased Narcissa was a little too much for her. This wasn't what she'd signed up for when she'd agreed to marry Draco two years ago.
It also wasn't fair for Narcissa to show up out of the blue as she had. Ginny and Draco had been married for more than a year, and she'd never asked to visit them before. Not once. She'd never shown an interest in their marriage—at least, not that Ginny had seen. Perhaps she spoke more about her concerns in her letters to Draco.
Draco put the paper aside and studied Narcissa and Ginny, quickly picking up on Ginny's unrest and Narcissa's attention now that he was looking.
"How is Paris, Mother?" he asked, and Ginny was grateful for the diversion when Narcissa narrowed her gaze at her son instead.
"The same as always and hardly worth mentioning," she replied, idly turning a page in her book.
"I find it hard to believe there isn't some scandal or drama that one of your friends isn't in the middle of," said Draco.
Narcissa smiled at that, a slight, reluctant turn of her lips that showed more warmth than any expression on her face since she'd arrived earlier that morning. "You're right," she admitted. "Yvette Augustin—she's the youngest sister of the French Minister of Magic—is engaged to a German man. A pastry chef, or something ridiculous like that. We've all been trying to talk her out of such a poor match, but she's stubborn and doesn't know any better. She'll see soon enough, though, what a mistake she's made."
Ginny's ears burned as she listened, and she tried to remind herself that Narcissa was living outside of her homeland, in place where she had few friends, while her husband sat in jail. She was rich and bigoted and didn't know any better than to judge other people for ridiculous reasons and interfere in their lives.
If this is what wealthy and powerful ladies did with their money, Ginny wanted no part of it, and she hadn't had any part of it until Narcissa had invited herself over for a two-week visit.
Ginny's indignation made her robe feel more constricting than it already was, thanks to the corset that went with it. This wasn't who she was. She didn't knit, she didn't gossip about her friends' love lives, and she didn't wear such impractical, uncomfortable clothes. Why she and Draco were going through with this fraud, Ginny didn't know, but she loved her husband and she wanted him to have the kind of relationship with his mother that she had with hers, even if it was impossible.
Draco's cheeks were tinged pink as he looked away from his mother; she could tell he was embarrassed. By his mother's bigotry? Or by his own poorly matched marriage? Ginny wasn't sure and she didn't want to know.
"I'll go fix some tea," she said, rising from her chair and leaving her knitting behind.
"Don't be silly," Narcissa said, waving Ginny back down into her chair. "Just let the house-elves get it."
Ginny looked at Draco, who looked back with cold indifference. It was part of the act. At least, she hoped it was. Did she dare explain to Narcissa that they didn't keep any house-elves? No. Real Malfoys had servants to fetch their tea; they didn't make it themselves.
"No, it's alright. I need to stretch my legs," she replied, going to the door before either Narcissa or Draco could stop her. She avoided her husband's gaze as she left the parlor, hating the cold look in his eyes, even though she knew it wasn't real. She knew it.
Wandering down the corridors to the kitchens, she tried not to look too closely at the decor. When she'd moved in, she and Draco had redecorated, turning the dark, drafty manor into a home with rich, plush carpets, paintings, and photographs everywhere. The photographs had been stored in boxes, hidden from sight. Draco thought his mother would have disapproved of pictures of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ginny's brother Ron sitting in plain sight around the manor. Ginny had agreed, though she'd been sad to see the pictures go—especially the ones of Draco and her. The happy, laughing pictures of the two of them weren't appropriate for the role they had to play, so they'd boxed those up as well and hidden them in a spare bedroom on the third floor.
As she passed through one corridor, she avoided the eyes of the portraits. The paintings she loved had been replaced with portraits of Malfoy patriarchs dating back to the 1400s. Their expressions were as dead as the men themselves, the colors of the paint dark and dulled with time. The older Malfoy men liked to leer at her and whisper lewd comments as she walked by. The more recent Malfoys glared and snarled about her blood traitor family. They were ugly and rude, and they made her feel unwanted in her own home. Whenever she walked down this corridor, she tried to ignore them.
Of course, they loved Narcissa. When she'd entered the manor, all of the portraits had paid her compliments, lamented the fact that she was no longer the mistress of Malfoy Manor, and spread lies and rumors about Ginny to her. As soon as Narcissa's visit was over, Ginny would be first in line to throw those horrid portraits back into the attic where they belonged.
When she reached the kitchens, she took her time preparing the tea, allowing the whistling of the kettle to soothe her instead of irritating her. The warm steam from her cup reminded her of her mum's tea and talks over the dinner table back at the Burrow. She drank two cups before Draco entered the kitchen looking worried.
"It's just so hard to breathe in these robes!" she quipped with a forced laugh.
"Don't do that," Draco replied, a stern look on his face.
"Don't do what?" she asked, avoiding his gaze to stare at her tea.
"Just talk to me."
She couldn't talk to him. She couldn't tell him that after more than a year of happiness, suddenly—once again—she was questioning it all. He'd think she was being ridiculous, just like he'd thought she was ridiculous when she'd aired her concerns after he'd proposed. They'd just been so happy, and she hadn't been able to give it up for anyone. Not for his mother, who'd left him as soon as her husband was imprisoned; not for her friends, who'd thought she was making a mistake; not even for her own loving family, who constantly worried about her. She'd wanted him for herself and now she felt foolish for wanting at all.
"We're happy, aren't we?" she asked, pleading with him with her eyes to answer the other question she couldn't voice. You accept me, don't you?
"Yes, of course," he said, clearly confused. He approached her, and she turned to him, letting him wrap his arms around her tightly. "I love you more than anything."
"I love you, too," she said. She meant it, but was it enough?
Later that night, as she and Draco lay in bed, Draco put his arms around her and pulled her close, her back flush with his front.
"What happened to waiting until your mother left?" she asked breathlessly as he kissed her shoulder, his hand gliding slowly down her curves. Her skin prickled in anticipation, a swell of hunger and need rising and cascading through her veins.
"We are waiting," he replied, but his hand suggested otherwise as it grazed across the band of her knickers, below her belly button.
She sucked in a breath and turned over to face him. "Remember when your mother said you only married me for the sex?"
Draco's lips turned down in an exaggerated frown that made Ginny laugh. "I mean, she was right…."
She punched him in the arm, and he gasped in shock, more exaggeration. "Git," she whispered.
"It doesn't make me a git to know what I want and take it," he replied, his eyes flinty.
"Sex?" The word fell out sarcastically as she rolled her eyes.
"No, you ridiculous witch. You."
Then his lips met hers and Ginny forgot all about the day's insecurities.