August 15, 2014
Author's Note: Thanks for reading, everyone! I'll have a new story up in the next week or two, and eventually I'm going to finish All Work and No Play... (It's technically finished. I just need to add a bit to it, and it's giving me trouble. ;o;) The prompt for this story is posted at the end of the chapter. Reviews appreciated!
Chapter Five: Darning
The next afternoon, Ginny sat in the parlor knitting perfect socks, her focus returned now that she'd—er—let off some steam. She didn't really have a need for all the socks she'd knitted so far, but she figured they'd make nice Christmas presents for her teammates, family, and friends.
Merlin, she was turning into her mum.
Draco stood at one of the floor-length windows, his hands clasped loosely behind his back. His hair reflected the sunlight, giving the impression of a halo. The stuffy dress robes he'd donned for the last ten days remained in his closet upstairs, wearing instead a more casual set without vests or cravats, something he'd have worn before Narcissa had decided to visit.
Ginny, too, had thrown her corset into the back of her closet (though she'd really been tempted to burn the damn thing) and replaced her fancy, impractical robes for the Muggle clothes she was more comfortable wearing. Her legs were thrown over the arm of her favorite armchair, the other arm supporting her back as she worked needles and yarn into a discernible shape.
Narcissa entered the room, her luxurious robes a better fit for the parlor than Ginny's clothes. No wonder the portraits answered to her; she looked more like the mistress of an ancient magical property than Ginny did.
But Ginny was the mistress of the manor now, and it was time for everyone, including Ginny, to accept it.
"What is this all about?" Narcissa asked. It was hard to tell what her mood was, but she was a Malfoy, and as Ginny knew well, Malfoys knew how to hide such unimportant things as emotions, expressions, and moods.
Draco turned, the corners of his lips lifting into a slight smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"I didn't mean to alarm you with my summons," he began. Half an hour prior, an owl had delivered a message from Draco to Narcissa's bedroom window asking for a meeting in the parlor. It was a strange gesture when both parties resided in the same building, so it wasn't an irrational conclusion that she might have been alarmed. "Ginny and I have something to tell you," he continued.
At that, Ginny sat up straight in the armchair, planting her feet firmly on the ground. If she'd thought about it, she would have realized she was preparing for a battle by putting herself in a less vulnerable position. Even her hold on her knitting needles tightened.
Narcissa merely looked from Ginny in her chair to Draco standing on the other side of the room. Her eyes lit up in satisfaction, and she surprised both Ginny and her husband when she said, "No need to tell me anything. I understand completely. And, I must admit, I saw this coming. It was just a matter of time."
Clearly thrown off guard, Draco stepped away from the window. "It was? You knew?"
Narcissa seated herself on the loveseat where she could see both Ginny and Draco. "Of course I knew. Ginevra wasn't discreet, was she? Weasleys don't have any subtlety."
Ginny met Draco's eyes, but he looked as confused as she felt. She sat up a little straighter, her knitting forgotten. Maybe Narcissa had spotted Ginny gardening and suspected her attempt to be a high-class lady was an act.
"You weren't supposed to know," Ginny said.
"You can't hide anything from me," Narcissa replied, her nose turned up a little higher. "Especially when my son is involved."
Draco came to sit on a settee, creating a triumvirate in a stand off. "We didn't mean to deceive you."
"We?" she said in outrage. "I hardly blame you, dear. The deception was all hers." She jerked her head in Ginny's direction, unwilling to even look at her daughter-in-law.
"What?" Ginny cried. "How is this my fault?"
Finally, Narcissa did look at Ginny, but with more derision than she had ever seen on the woman's face. "Well, how is your affair my son's fault?"
"Affair?" both Draco and Ginny repeated. "What affair?"
"Don't try to deny it! It's plastered all over the Daily Prophet. You didn't even try to hide your shamelessness!"
Ginny and Draco's gazes met, but neither of them knew what she was talking about.
"Explain," Draco finally commanded.
"Yes, Ginevra. Please explain to your husband how you've been going behind his—"
"No, Mother," he interrupted as he stood up. "You explain. Where did this idea come from?"
Narcissa looked from her son's impassable expression to Ginny's bewildered one and back again. For a moment, she looked uncertain, but that moment passed, and her eyes became steely once more.
"Like I said. I saw it in the Daily Prophet. Your wife and Harry Potter!"
It took a moment for that to sink in, but then Draco started laughing, and once Draco began to laugh, Ginny couldn't help herself to start either.
"Harry is just a friend!" she said between guffaws.
"I saw you together!" Narcissa cried. She stood up, outraged at being laughed at. "I saw you at the Notts' party! You were alone together; you were holding his hand! How do you explain that?"
Ginny's laughter stopped as abruptly as it started. Honestly, she'd been shocked to hear the accusation—that's why she'd laughed in the first place—but she didn't appreciate anyone commenting on her marriage negatively, and for this woman to come into their home and make ridiculous accusations, after more than a year—no, she wouldn't accept it.
"We're friends," Ginny said, anger tinting her tone. "That's all we are. That's all we've been for years, and we've never hidden our friendship from Draco."
Narcissa looked to Draco, who mirrored Ginny now, with tight lips and an angry V in his brows.
"We're all friends, Mother. I'd believe Ginny and Harry were having an affair about as much as I'd believe you were having an affair with a Muggle."
"Oh, Draco, don't be vulgar," Narcissa replied with a disgusted scoff. She sat back down, and Draco took his cue from her, sitting back down on the settee.
"The papers are always trying to make it look like Harry and I are back together," Ginny explained. "He's still single, and apparently I'm the girl who broke his heart. Any interaction we have is going to be misconstrued, but there is no truth to that trash. It's just an easy way to attract readers and make money. Draco and I have gone over this. He knows there's nothing between Harry and me."
Draco nodded in confirmation, which made Narcissa pouty.
"Then what did you want to speak to me about?"
"Wait," he said, ignoring the question. "Did you come here because you thought Ginny was cheating on me?"
Instead of looking embarrassed, as Ginny would have in her place, Narcissa merely stiffened her spine, her pride visible in every hard line of her body and face. "I came to see if there was any truth to the rumors, and I must admit, everything I saw confirmed them."
Ginny felt her heart racing in her chest, thinking back on the last eleven days and what Narcissa could have seen, but everything they'd done they'd done in secrecy.
"Like what?" Ginny asked, almost afraid of the response.
Narcissa sneered at her. "I've never seen two people less in love in my life. You can barely stand to be in the same room with Draco, always leaving meals early and going off by yourself. And the way Draco speaks to you, as if he completely disapproves of you. Don't think I didn't notice that you slept in different bedrooms the last few days, either!"
A part of Ginny wanted to laugh—the urge was so strong, she put a hand over her mouth and tensed her body to quell the rising hysteria. She and Draco had worked so hard to be a conservative, upper-class couple, never allowing a single inappropriate display of affection to be visible to Narcissa. The lack of affection and the pressure had built up and strained their relationship. They'd spent most of the week arguing about the act, and that tension had leaked into the ruse as well. In fact, they had been so believable, they'd convinced Narcissa that they didn't love each other at all.
Draco's face was a portrait in pain and sorrow that no one else would have recognized. She correctly interpreted the tightness in his jaw, the wrinkle in his forehead, and the unforgiving glint in his eyes as the emotions he rarely displayed. Just because he didn't express it didn't mean he didn't feel guilt for his behavior the last several days.
He reached a hand out to Ginny, and she put her knitting down to join him on the settee. They sat close together, their hands clasped tight.
"That wasn't what it looked like," he said.
"Oh? Then what was it?"
"This is why I asked to see you," he replied, his eyes meeting Ginny's. She offered him an encouraging smile, and his gaze returned to his mother.
Ginny spoke up for him in his discomfort. "It was all an act. We were… pretending, you see, because… well…."
"Because I thought you wouldn't accept us. As we are," Draco finished.
Narcissa's pride had gradually turned into befuddlement, the angry creases in her brow softening into confusion. Her scowl transformed into a perplexed frown. "As you are?"
"We're not like you and Father," Draco tried to explain, and it was clear it was difficult because his reasons for the ruse were so absurd. He hadn't had to face the absurdity of them, truly face them, until now. "We mingle with the likes of Muggleborns, blood-traitors, and mixed-blooded people. We get our hands dirty taking care of the manor and its grounds ourselves. We don't keep servants. In fact, we're not allowed to have them. Both of us work, though I assume you know about Ginny's Quidditch career if you've been keeping an eye on us through the papers. And I have a full-time job at the Ministry, working in trade. We're not the people you expect us to be."
"You know nothing of my expectations," she snapped. She stood up, her body absolutely vibrating with energy that Ginny had never seen in her before.
"What I expect from you is to guide this family down a straighter path, which would be impossible if you got caught up in ridiculous dramas. You mustn't get on the Ministry's bad side again. You mustn't allow public opinion to shape what this family becomes."
She had been pacing, but now she stopped, her eyes boring into Draco and Ginny, still sitting on the settee, both gobsmacked.
"When your father went to prison, I moved to France to give you the opportunity to shape the Malfoy image yourself, without our influence to taint your reputation. You haven't disappointed me—yet. I came back to see if this marriage was falling apart, and if it was, I wanted to be here to guide you through it with as little bad press as possible. Do not make assumptions about my motives or expectations!"
Ginny knew her own eyes were wide in shock, but Draco next to her was still as stone, his face expressionless like one of the marble statues in the garden. When Narcissa sat back down, collecting herself with deep breaths and clasped hands, their eyes followed her.
"I didn't know," Draco finally said. "You never told me."
"Neither did I," Narcissa responded, a bit sadly, but with a tinge of stung pride. "You never talked to me about your marriage."
"I didn't want you to judge us," he admitted.
"And I didn't want to pressure you into making certain choices. I wanted to give you the chance to make your own decisions."
Moments of tense silence passed as all three of them considered what they'd learned. Draco and Ginny looked at each other, almost conversing privately with their eyes. They were so attuned to each other that they knew exactly what the other was thinking without the use of such magic as Legilimency.
Ginny released Draco's hands and stood up, approaching Narcissa to sit next to her on the love seat instead.
"Draco and I love each other very much," she said, her cheeks red with embarrassment about the whole misunderstanding. "We're happy together. I've never been happier."
Narcissa sniffed. "Does your family accept your marriage?"
Ginny smiled. "Oh, yes. My mum loves to have Draco 'round. She likes to feed him because she thinks he doesn't eat enough. And my brothers, well…."
"What?" her mother-in-law snapped, concerned.
"Well, Draco usually has to keep his guard up around them. They're always embarrassing him, especially with pranks." Ginny laughed, and she knew Draco was frowning at her for over-sharing, but she ignored him. She leaned in conspiratorially and lowered her voice. "At Christmas, they invited Draco to a pickup game of Quidditch, but they used a joke Snitch that George sells in the joke shop. It turns invisible unless it's near the opposing team's Seeker. My brothers won five games in a row until Draco finally caught on. Harry thought it was hilarious, but I was furious and didn't speak to George or Ron until the next morning!"
Narcissa didn't laugh, but her lips might have turned up a bit in a reluctant smile. "I suppose… that's good to hear."
Before Ginny could consider the consequences of her actions, she threw her arms around Narcissa in a tight hug, whispering, "I'm so glad to be a part of your family."
The woman's body froze, but she patted Ginny's shoulder awkwardly in response before pulling away and standing.
"I think we need some tea."
Draco and Ginny accompanied Narcissa down the drive to the gates. It was an exceptionally warm day, but the crisp breeze signified autumn's swift arrival, which meant Quidditch practice would start up again soon.
The last three days of Narcissa's visit had been surprisingly pleasant. The woman herself was still as she ever was, proud, hard to please, and prejudiced, but she had loosened the tight reign on her control for the rest of her stay. She hadn't completely loosened up, of course, but just enough that she'd shown her affection for Draco in ways he hadn't experienced since the war. It was a small change come late, but he soaked up her warmth as if he'd been cold his entire life.
Watching them together, especially Draco's reactions to Narcissa's love, had almost broken Ginny's heart. He'd spent years trying to pave his own way through the world, part of him—and, to be honest, part of Ginny as well—believing that Narcissa had left England because she hadn't wanted anything to do with her son. But after her revelation, they both knew now that what she'd done she'd done for him.
For much of the last few days, Ginny had felt superfluous in their joy, but she held no resentment towards Draco this time because he was earning back the love he'd missed for so long. And when Ginny was included in their conversations, or when Narcissa reached out and touched Ginny's hand, she felt extra privileged to be a part of their family.
They weren't perfect, and they had a long way to go to repair the rift between Narcissa and Draco, as well as Narcissa and Draco and Ginny as a couple, but it was a start. For so many years, Ginny had wished for Draco to have a family like hers, one that was loving and supportive, and it was just as much of a dream come true for her as it was for him that he was finally receiving that love and support again.
Now the visit was over, and as happy as Ginny was for Draco, she would be glad to have her home back.
When they arrived at the gates, Narcissa reached up to hug her son and kiss him on the cheek. Ginny smirked as he flushed in embarrassment. Then Narcissa turned to Ginny, her face composed and serious.
"Until next time, Ginevra," she said.
"Christmas. You must come back at Christmas," Ginny said.
Narcissa's eyes widened a bit, but then she sniffed. "Yes, perhaps. I will have to check my schedule."
"Oh!" Ginny cried, reaching into the pocket of her cloak. "I almost forgot. Um, here, I knitted these for you." Her cheeks and ears burned as she handed the other woman a pair of pale blue socks that matched Narcissa's eyes with silver 'M's embroidered on the sides. "It's silly, and the embroidery is awful," she said, mumbling in her awkwardness.
Narcissa took the socks, eying them carefully. "No, they're… lovely. Thank you." She put them away in her handbag, and Ginny released a sigh of relief. She'd half-expected the woman to throw them on the ground for being too common.
Then Draco opened the gate and let his mother through. With a final wave, she Disapparated, and he closed and warded the gate behind her.
They held hands as they walked back to the manor in silence, but upon entering the hall, they sighed, and Ginny even giggled a little. All their old paintings and photographs had been rehung. Sconces and lamps lit the corridors as they passed through them, shedding light and warmth on the once cold and dark manor.
"What do we do now?" Draco asked as they reached the stairs.
"I suppose we have to tell our friends we don't really hate them," Ginny answered, a worried crease in her brow.
"That's not what I meant," he said with a smile. "What do we do now?"
Her mouth spread in a wide grin. "Oh. Well, anything we desire, I suppose."
He couldn't help but smile in response to her. "What do you desire?" His hand untangled from hers to snake up her arm to her back.
A thrill of excitement radiated out from her pounding heart to the tips of her fingers and toes. He always had that effect on her, but especially when he looked at her the way he looked at her now—like he had something to prove.
"You," she replied, pulling him to her by the front of his robes. "The only thing I need is you."
He smirked and dropped his head to her lips. "Funny, I could say the same for you."
Briefly describe what you'd like to receive in your fic:
The tone/mood of the fic: I'd like it to be light-hearted, but show the difficulty for DG to be traditionally domestic
An element/line of dialogue/object you would specifically like in your fic: Ginny knits
Preferred rating of the the fic you want: Slightly naughty (If you're feeling adventurous you can go extreme with it, but no worries if you don't)
More canon, or more AU? More cannon
Deal Breakers (anything you don't want?): No Ron blow ups. Avoid using "ferret" or "Red" or "Weaselette"
Are you willing to receive art instead of a fic? I'd prefer fic.