Title: What Ginny Forgot
Summary: "After one too many hits to the head from a Bludger, you've forgotten the past ten years," Malfoy said slowly, staring at her as if she were dumb. "You've forgotten you have kids and you've forgotten me. Your husband. Which is rather rude, you must admit." D/G
Disclaimer: None of it is mine!
Author's Note: Chapter fifteen has finally arrived! Enjoy everyone!
It was as though the distinct smell that always lingered in the Quidditch pitch was in the air now: dirt, freshly cut grass, sweat, broom polish. But it wasn't. No, that smell was simply fresh in her mind.
Draco continued staring at her, reading her as he did so well, while she collected herself. Finding it hard to hold his eyes, Ginny looked away.
She flexed her hands, which only moments ago had been gripping hard onto her broom handle… but, no, that wasn't right. Moments ago, she had been asleep against the toilet. The flash of pain, so intense in the instant she felt it, hadn't happened seconds ago—that had been over a week ago.
Ginny pressed her hand to her forehead, feeling for the spot where the Bludger had hit, but it was no longer sensitive.
As her breathing began to stabilize, as she realized that everything that had seemed to just happen was really only a memory, Ginny's eyes slowly found Draco once more. He looked positively exhausted, as worn through as the days when he fought to get the Dementors out of Azkaban, but this time she knew it had nothing to do with the creatures that sucked the happiness out of a person.
Right now, his tiredness was completely her fault. So maybe he was dealing with something that made him incredibly unhappy. Ginny remembered the cold, detached look in his eyes when Lyra told him to give Ginny a kiss before his trip. She thought of how he told her he wouldn't stay, how easy it had been for him to make that decision and stick with it…
Swallowing hard, Ginny wiped her sweaty palms on her pants before letting out a long breath. She wanted to say something, anything that would break the strained silence between them. But when Draco heard her exhale, he stiffened. It made whatever words on her tongue vanish and they continued to stare at each other, each waiting for the other to make the first move.
Truthfully, she couldn't begin to imagine what Draco was thinking as he looked at her. Her own mind seemed like mush, everything muddled together so well that it was hard for her to distinguish one emotion from the next. Despair, anger, and fear were prevalent as she looked at her husband, remembering that he hadn't wanted to stay, hadn't wanted to make things work. But… but there was more than just that.
She had the urge to crawl over to him and collapse into his arms, to listen to his heartbeat and let it reassure her that the past week hadn't meant nothing, to say something, anything, that would wipe away the uncertainty that colored his face.
Ginny closed her eyes, breaking the staring contest between them, and leaned her head back against the wall. With the darkness provided to her, she was able to properly zone in on her body. Her heartbeat had returned to normal, her palms were no longer drenched, her breathing was steady. Fatigue nipped at her, reminding her of how long the past few days had been, but adrenaline raced through her system, surely a result of her memories coming back to her.
"Breathe, breathe, it's me, Gin, it's me."
She inhaled deeply.
Despite the uncomfortable silence that lingered in the room, Ginny felt… she felt as though a weight had been taken off her shoulders, a weight that she hadn't even realized was there the past week. For a moment, she wondered why. Things with Draco weren't settled yet, so it wasn't that. Her body ached horribly; if she were alone, she'd probably allow a few tired tears to fall before curling into a ball and falling back to sleep, so it wasn't that.
Ginny thought of Orion, Gray, and Lyra, at home on Christmas morning without either of their parents there. She recalled the way Orion always took time to divide everyone's presents up, because not long ago he was the only child who could read and he didn't want Gray or Lyra to be upset about not knowing which gifts were theirs. Gray always drummed his fingers together in excitement as he waited for Orion to finish separating the gifts. Lyra would take turns running to and from Draco and Ginny, laughing and pressing kisses to their faces.
That was it.
She could remember her children. The heaviness, which was no longer present, had been from not remembering her children.
An almost hysterical giggle escaped her and she slapped her hand over her mouth to stop it from being heard. But Draco's breathing paused, and she knew she hadn't succeeded.
She found it hard to care.
Because, Merlin, everything about Orion, Gray, and Lyra was right there. It was so easy now to bring forth memories of them, of their likes and dislikes, of the first time they spoke or the first time they walked, of their favorite toys when they were babies. They were each so unique and so lovely, and, while she had known that the past week, now she knew why.
It was common knowledge that Lyra hated strawberries but always asked for them anyway, only to give them to her older brothers. And it came to her easily, the memory of Ron's birthday last year when Gray had learned a bawdy song, word for word, because Ron, Angelina, and George had drunkenly begun singing it to each other—not realizing the young boy was listening nearby. The memory of Orion falling off his broom and chipping his tooth, the pride that overwhelmed her when he started smiling to show it off instead of crying, it was there in her head.
Her heart squeezed and she opened her eyes, determination filling her. She wanted to see her children, she wanted to hold them close and promise to never leave again, she wanted to watch their eyes light up as they opened their presents, content that their parents were back home with them.
"I want to go home."
Draco jolted at her words, his eyebrows lifting high and his lips parting. Ginny struggled to stand and she saw Draco lurch forward, his hand reaching out to help her, but then her eyes met his and he stopped. This time, her heart squeezing had nothing to do with her children.
Suddenly, she couldn't stop herself from trying to sort her thoughts out about Draco. The confusion she had felt over the last week as she lived with a man she hardly knew was no longer present; or, rather, it was but was now buried deep under the other memories of him. Merlin, she had been such an idiot the past week. She hadn't… she hadn't pushed Draco at all for answers when she lost her memory, she hadn't tried to question him about why he signed the divorce papers, she hadn't reacted at all to his hot and cold attitude towards her.
Instead, she preferred to remain in a bubble of ignorance, allowing him to play her like a puppet.
But, finally, Ginny knew everything; she knew the papers had been for Luna, she knew that Draco had signed them, she knew why her family and friends had thought they were perfectly happy. Everything made sense again.
…Or did it?
Emotions twisted in her gut, tugging and pulling, making her feel increasingly uncomfortable. The hopelessness over Draco leaving her was there, along with her rage over him abandoning their marriage and her sense of loss at his futile attempts to make their relationship work and… and the relief she felt when he agreed to help her when she returned from Harry's, the rush of affection she felt when he spent time with her at the Ministry ball, the realization that she loved him and wanted to make things right, that there was something between them still, that he had seemed desperate to fix things too—
"Ginny?" he called, breaking the silence.
She blinked then pushed herself to her feet completely. The world seemed to tilt and she put her hand against the wall to steady herself. It helped; she no longer felt like she was standing on uneven ground.
Draco stood also, warily eyeing her. Ginny couldn't help but study him back. There was something different about him and she couldn't pinpoint what it was. The dark bags under his eyes, the strands of hair that uncharacteristically stood on end, the pinch of his lips, the odd flush in his cheeks… She had seen Draco exhausted before, many times, and she could tell now that he was running on adrenaline to stay alert the same as she was. But there was still something out of place that she couldn't put her finger on.
"Have Harry and Pansy left?" she asked, unsure of what to say.
"Yes. They left when I got here."
She nodded and gnawed on her bottom lip. When he didn't say anything more, Ginny folded her arms across her chest.
"I want to go home," she repeated, wondering if she had even said it out loud before or if she had imagined it.
With how tired she was, she wouldn't be surprised if she had only thought she'd spoken.
"I know," he replied softly. "Gin—"
At her command, she saw his right hand twitch at his side.
"You've remembered everything, then."
It wasn't a question, more of an observation. That odd desire to laugh came over her again and she pressed her lips together to stop it. Yes, yes, she did, finally. Instead of giggling, she shrugged.
"You already knew that."
Draco made a sound in his throat; it sounded almost like a whine, something an animal in pain would release. Startled by it, Ginny stepped forward before stopping herself. She wasn't sure… she wasn't sure comforting Draco was the right thing to do. One part of her desperately wanted to ask if he was alright but the realistic part of her, the part he had walked out on, wasn't sure how to respond.
It clicked then, what was different about him. He looked afraid. Ginny wasn't sure the fear was necessarily for her, either. She had a strange feeling that Draco was more worried over her thoughts, her feelings towards him now that she remembered.
Clearly, she was no longer the woman he had left at the Burrow only hours ago.
Nonetheless, Ginny took another hesitant step towards him. The world didn't sway and she felt steady on her feet; relief hit her. But Draco ran a hand through his hair, collecting himself, and his face cleared of distress. Her decision to go to him suddenly seemed silly. She took a few steps back, returning to their original distance. Draco didn't seem to notice, or, if he did, he made sure not to visibly react to it.
"We should go back to St. Mungo's," he told her. "Just to make sure everything is okay."
There was no way that was happening. The last place she wanted to be was St. Mungo's, not for the third time in a week, not on Christmas day, not when her children needed her.
She hated it there.
Tilting her chin up, she shook her head.
"I'm not going back there."
"Stop saying that."
Disbelief contorted Draco's face before a familiar shade of anger took over. Ginny knew how to deal with Draco's rage, and she felt herself readying for a fight. If he was angry, she could be angry too. It was much easier to deal with than… than the unknown territory they were currently in.
"What should I call you then, if not your name?" Draco snapped.
It wasn't him addressing her as Ginny that bothered her. It was how he was saying it. There was a softness to the way her name fell from his lips—she hadn't heard him call for her like that in so long. Yet, that wasn't true, was it? When he had left her in her old bedroom, telling her not to be afraid, leaving at her command when he had initially refused to, Draco had spoken her name the same way.
It was messing with her head, the random memories of how different he had been the past week, making it hard for her to figure out where she stood with her husband. If she could simply continue to focus on her need to see her children, then she'd make it out of here in one piece. But if she let Draco get into her head any more, if she let herself believe he was truly worried, if she let her need to talk to him take over, who knew how it would all end.
It was as though Draco could read her mind; the irritation seemed to drain from him, and he let out a sigh.
"We need to talk," he told her, his eyes meeting her own.
She shook her head as he spoke. Draco leaned towards her, the movement so subtle that she would've missed it if she hadn't been watching him so intently.
"Gin—" He stopped himself, frustrated. "We can't go home before we talk this out. We need to talk about the last week."
The question was much harsher than she intended, and, for a moment, his conviction seemed to falter. Ginny latched onto it.
"The last thing I want to do right now is talk. I—I want to go see the children, I want to be with them, I need to get out of this bloody house—"
"You can't honestly want to head home without speaking about this," Draco cut in.
He seemed completely composed once again. It infuriated her.
"Why bother talking about the last week?" she asked, her voice catching. "You signed the papers. You left."
Ginny hadn't meant to say it, hadn't meant to actually speak the words, but they left her lips without her permission. It was clear that Draco hadn't expected her to bring it up so quickly either, for he took a step away from her, as if she had physically struck him. She gripped her arms tighter, hating the way her stomach seemed to roll once she put the reality of their situation out between them.
This wasn't fair. Why did she have to feel so miserable when Draco was the one who made the choice for them? Why couldn't he feel absolutely wrecked and she feel fine? He had picked up the quill, he had signed his name, he hadn't talked to her about it until the deed was already done, he had waited for her in the dark of her office, teeth bared, ready to strike her where it hurt, when she was already vulnerable—
But, no, that wasn't right, was it? Not completely… Because she had fed his fears of wanting the divorce, had never told him that the papers weren't for them, never tried to assure him that it was all a mistake, never asked him to just listen to her.
Ginny had never told him the truth.
As her thoughts whirled, she started towards the exit. Draco seemed lost at her accusation, his face cleared of emotions, all his previous heat gone. She stepped around him, desperate to get out of the confines of the bathroom. His cloak brushed her arm as she dodged past him, and she held her breath, half afraid of inhaling his scent.
Once out in the hallway, she heaved in a gulp of air, glad for the extra space. Though, of course, the Burrow always seemed small and cramped. Even now, there were boxes and random articles of clothing that clogged the hallway. The mess surrounding her comforted her, as it always did when she spent time at her childhood home.
Taking a moment, Ginny looked around. It was easy to spot which items were things her nieces and nephews had dropped when rushing to greet their parents, items that Molly and Arthur hadn't had time to pick up, and which items had been left there over longer periods of time, like old gardening gloves and several spell books. She thought of the random sleepovers her children had here when Draco or Ginny had work obligations or, when they were still happy, wanted some alone time together.
The thought of the children pushed her back into motion.
Ginny headed to her old bedroom. She wanted to go home but would need her wand, which she likely dropped while running to the bathroom. Or had she even brought it to St. Mungo's? The rush from her home to the hospital was a blur—the feel of Draco's shirt as she clutched at it was the only thing she could really remember—so she wasn't sure she had even brought her wand.
The idea of not having it made her feel oddly defenseless.
She lifted the covers on her aged, disheveled bed with no luck. It wasn't on the desk or the bedside table. As she was about to drop to her knees to look under the bed, a voice interrupted her.
"Looking for this?"
Ginny turned around, her eyes narrowing when she saw Draco holding up her wand.
"Give it to me."
"Afraid I'll hex you?" she challenged, clutching at her previous anger from the bathroom.
Draco let out a sound of amusement but it seemed forced.
"I'm afraid you'll leave."
She straightened, cheeks flushing.
"Like you did?" Ginny retorted.
Draco laughed, but it was sharp and cutting. He tossed her the wand, and she caught it easily.
"You had Granger get divorce papers for us. I hardly think that puts me in the wrong here."
Ginny shook her head, trying to keep the furious words inside her. She didn't want to do this now. If she could just ignore him long enough…
Shoving her wand into her waistband, she turned her back on him, looking for a pair of shoes to slip on. He continued speaking.
"Did you expect me to stay and play house with you when you wanted—"
Her spine tingled as she spun around, emotions overriding her decision to ignore him and return to the children.
"They weren't for you! The papers weren't for us!"
She hadn't realized she had screamed the truth at Draco till she heard a quiet ringing in her ears. Skepticism clouded Draco's face as he waited for her to say more; he half looked as though he was waiting for her to laugh and say she was joking. When she did nothing, he cocked his head to the side.
"You often keep the Ministry's official divorce papers in your study then?" he drawled.
She inhaled sharply.
"They were for Luna."
As often happened whenever Luna was mentioned, Draco's demeanor changed. He hardened, his eyes growing darker, his lip curling.
"I see. You've been talking to Lovegood?"
"That's what you take from what I said?" Ginny growled, throwing her hands into the air.
Draco's fists clenched and unclenched at his sides. His temper was rising, she knew, and soon enough he'd storm out. The fight would be over, at least for the moment, and she'd be able to go home. They'd pretend everything was fine in front of the kids, his mother, and Blaise, and then later, maybe tomorrow or in a few days or a week, it would be brought up again—
"Why would the papers be for Lovegood?"
She focused on him, not realizing she had already been planning her escape until he forced her attention back on him. Ginny blinked, surprised to see that Draco was calm and collected once more. The rage that she had been sure was lurking beneath his surface only a second ago was, for the moment, under control. His voice was strained, as though he hated himself for even asking the question, but it wasn't rude or cutting.
Her brows lifted.
"I… I thought she needed them."
She shook her head, remaining silent. Bringing up Luna was never a good idea, and telling Luna's business felt wrong. A tiny voice inside her head begged the question, though… would Luna care if Ginny told her secrets in order to help Ginny's marriage with Draco?
Something whispered, never, Luna would never care, she'd only want Ginny to be happy. And, honestly, Luna had only asked Ginny not to speak to Blaise about it; she had never mentioned not telling Draco. The idea of telling Draco that she had gone to St. Mungo's had seemed so insane at the time that Ginny hadn't even thought of not hiding it from him. But Luna must've thought Ginny would be truthful, for she expressed her concern over the fallout from the visit.
How had Ginny not realized that then?
"Why, Ginny? Why would you get divorce papers for Lovegood? Why would you keep them in your study? It doesn't make sense, and you opting not to answer isn't going to make it go away."
It felt like a dirty secret—visiting Luna at St. Mungo's, Ginny's fury over Rolf never showing up when Luna seemed to not care at all, Ginny's decision to get the divorce papers for Luna even though she hadn't asked. The idea of telling Draco, of admitting where everything potentially went wrong, frightened her. Because, Merlin, had she created this secret herself? If Luna hadn't cared about Draco knowing, then hadn't Ginny dug her own grave?
He blinked in astonishment when she remained silent, unaware of the conflict in her head.
"You weren't supposed to be in contact with her," he hissed. "You promised me. And now you're trying to tell me you have been, that you're corresponding with her, that you've been planning her fucking divorce. You're trying to pin this on Lovegood, but you won't even give me a believable enough excuse as to why she'd want a divorce. Do you think I'm a fool? Do you think I'd fall for any idiotic thing you threw at me?"
The truth poured out of her; she didn't even realize she had made the decision to tell him until she was already speaking.
"She had a miscarriage. She had a miscarriage, and Rolf—he wrote to me asking me to go see her. I hadn't been talking to her, I hadn't, but—but Rolf didn't bother to leave his excursion to see his wife. I couldn't leave her there alone. I wouldn't."
She spoke quickly, a hot flush creeping up her chest and staining her face as her hands flailed. Where she was animated, Draco was still. When Ginny finished speaking, he shook his head warily. Her words hung between them. Was he debating whether or not she was telling the truth? The idea that he thought she was lying, that he could believe she'd say something so horrible to try to excuse her seeing Luna, made her stare at him hard, eyes blazing.
Because if he truly thought she'd lie about that, that she'd put that horrible experience on anyone to save her own skin, he didn't know her at all—
"Of course not," he said, interrupting her thoughts.
Tiredly, he lifted his hand and rubbed at his eyes. He believed her. The realization had her gaping at him in surprise. He wasn't… he wasn't even trying to fight her on it. Draco didn't bother asking for more proof. With a jolt, Ginny realized she had never had an argument with Draco where they both actively listened to each other, where he believed what she said without becoming defensive, where she spoke her mind without worry of him running off.
"You… you believe me?"
She was almost afraid of questioning it.
A smirk twisted on his lips.
"You'd never leave a friend in need. You are a Weasley, after all."
For a moment, it almost seemed like they were back to just the other day, when they could joke and laugh together over anything. It felt natural as her lips twitched into a small grin also.
"I had to show her there were other options. I mean, even you came back when I—"
She stopped speaking abruptly, her throat closing up. Draco had come back from the States, only held back from rushing home right away by the laws of the country, to make sure Ginny was okay after her accident. He had come to her worn out, concerned, even when he had thought she wanted a divorce. Even after they had fought and she hadn't told him the truth about the papers.
Even after she had accused him of not caring.
His hands clenched then unclenched at his side. Ginny could hear her heart racing; it seemed like it was echoing in her ears.
"Even you came back…"
Draco spoke, distracting her.
"You went to Granger to get papers from the Ministry?"
"Yeah. I wanted to owl them to Luna after Christmas."
"When you found them, after your accident…"
He trailed off.
"I thought you wanted a divorce. Then I remembered Hermione giving them to me, and I thought that it had been me… I only just remembered."
"Why wouldn't you tell me that?" Draco's voice cracked. "When we were fighting, when I confronted you, you didn't tell me they were for Lovegood. You gave me no reason to believe you didn't want this."
Again, she was struck by the realization that none of this might have happened if she had simply told him the truth. When Draco had confronted her, she might've been able to make him see that she didn't want to break apart their family. Ginny had to remind herself, though, that their relationship before the papers was not as smooth as it had been the past week. He might not have believed her. He might've been distrustful of her words, he might've only heard that she had gone to see Luna, he might've not listened to her.
Or, as he just had, he might've completely believed her.
But it was already done with. She had chosen not to tell him the truth. He had chosen to not talk to her about his discovery in her study before acting.
"Why didn't you tell me the truth?" he persisted.
"Because you had already signed the papers."
And, honestly, wasn't that what mattered most now?
They stared at each other. Draco's lips were pressed tightly together as if he was refraining from saying something harsh. After a long moment, where Draco remained frozen, she made the choice for them and started to walk by him.
"It's time to go home," Ginny said.
She jumped in surprise when he reached out, grabbing her arm and keeping her from passing him. His grip wasn't tight, and she knew if she tried to shake him off she could. But she found herself waiting.
When it was clear Draco was struggling to decide what to say, the silence between them stretching on, she sighed.
His grip on her arm tightened slightly and he stepped closer to her.
"We can't leave it like this," he finally managed, though it seemed almost painful for him to get the words out.
"The kids are at home—"
"The kids, I'm sure, would rather us work this out than come home broken," Draco interrupted, his voice pitching high on the last word.
Ginny stilled, any other excuse she had for leaving vanishing. Draco took another long minute, battling his emotions. He gritted his teeth together.
Where he touched her, her skin seemed to burn.
"We can't leave it like this. I refuse," he told her. "I refuse."
"There's nothing left to say!" she snapped, though there was no heat behind her words. "This will end up to just be some horrible, bloody mess of a fight if we—if we keep trying to draw it out and force it."
"Then let it be a fight! I didn't know how to fight for you then, but I'll try now!"
She blinked, taken aback.
He released his hold on her to run both his hands through his hair, tugging at the strands before releasing them. Draco looked absolutely mad, with his pale skin and messy hair and wide, tired eyes. Everything about him in this moment was so completely opposite the man she had married that it kept her frozen in place.
"I didn't know how to fight for you," he repeated. "I didn't—I didn't know! When we first met, I knew how to do this." She knew he was referring to them, their relationship, her, without him having to further explain. "You hated me and I knew perfectly well how to react to that. Then we were friends and—and somehow, I managed that also. When we first became—became—"
He stammered over his words, a reaction Ginny had never managed to inspire in him before.
"I never had to work at this before, not with you. Even after Hogwarts, when I met you again, it all clicked and was right and good and you had all the answers for me, every solution to fix my despicable situation. You were good and right. You told me to work with Potter and I did. You got me back into the public eye. You helped me become friends with people who had wanted me dead or, worse, tossed into Azkaban before I got my hands on it. You… you were a fucking hero. And who was I? No one. I was no one."
His words washed over her and she almost drowned in them. Without permission, a vision of Lucius sneering at her from his cell came to her, similar words spewing from his lips.
"But I knew Draco would pick a suitable wife, someone to help his status. And he had picked the absolute best woman, hadn't he?"
"Your father was right, then? Everything he said to me was right?"
Draco's expression darkened.
"Right about what?" he hissed.
"You married me because I was a good choice for your public image!"
But even as she said it, it sounded wrong. Why was she letting Lucius' words enter a conversation with Draco? She never had before; she had only ever let what Lucius say steer her in the right direction with Draco. And she knew Draco had loved her, once upon a time. Their relationship hadn't been for show, she knew that.
Something poked at her but she couldn't focus on it, instead distracted by the way Draco's face flushed and his eyes sparkled furiously—but the rage wasn't directed towards her, it was towards his father, and he was letting her see that, whether he meant to or not.
"No. No, that's not what I'm saying, you can't honestly believe—" His hands flailed for a moment, unsure whether to clench them into fists or reach for her or grab at his hair. He ended up rubbing his face roughly, taking a second to collect himself. Then Draco dropped his hands and focused on her. "When we met, it was easy. It wasn't a challenge for me to—to love you. You saved me. Then, suddenly, it wasn't easy anymore. I was working, and you were just… different and irritated at me for something I thought we both wanted. I didn't understand how to fight for you. Every time I tried, it felt like I was doing the wrong thing. I assumed you weren't happy, that you didn't want me anymore. I… was weak."
Draco's confession left her feeling weak.
"I just wanted you home."
His shoulders sagged.
"I needed to keep working. For the children, for you, for our family—"
"Don't," she interrupted sharply. "Don't you dare say you worked for me. I never needed that, any of it. After Azkaban, I would've been fine with you remaining a security advisor for the prison. You wanted the other projects."
"You let me take them."
"I thought I could handle it! It was obvious how much they meant to you. I hadn't realized they meant more to you than I meant to you, though!"
"That's hardly fair," Draco snapped. "You weren't working. What were we supposed to do, live in the slums?"
Laughter spilled from her, but it was shrill.
"Merlin, Draco, this is exactly what we've always been fighting over. It's like some bloody vicious cycle that we can't get out of. You work because you care about the family, but when I ask you to be more present, to be home more, to prove you care, you won't! You won't! The life I wanted was with you! I grew up with eight other people crammed into this house, for fuck's sake," she shouted, gesturing around her bedroom. "Being poor is not something I'm afraid of. It never was. It's something you're afraid of."
The flush in his cheeks deepened.
"I refuse to let you or the children suffer because of my failings," he seethed.
"You'd rather a loveless marriage with money to spend rather than a happy one where we struggle to make ends meet?"
Again, it felt like she was speaking Lucius' words. And, again, something prodded at her. Draco went to speak, a retort ready on his lips, but realization struck her like lightning.
"Your father was right, then? Everything he said to me was right?"
"Right about what?"
Draco had never questioned her on why she would be speaking to Lucius or when they'd ever had a chance to speak.
She squeezed her eyes shut.
Draco didn't say whatever was on his mind, thrown off by her words. She heard his harsh breathing, could feel his confusion even though she couldn't see him. Slowly, Ginny opened her eyes and peered at him.
"What are you talking about?"
"You've known. You've known that I've been visiting your father."
His stare hardened.
"Of course, I knew," Draco spat. "You think Azkaban's security system, that I worked on for years, was so poorly designed that you could sneak in without me knowing? You really believe me that foolish? That my work, the design that fucking Granger checked over and over again, which was approved and tested by the Ministry, was so lacking that you could enter and leave Azkaban while I remained in the dark?"
"You didn't say anything," Ginny breathed. "After all these years, you just—you just let me do it."
Uncertainty clouded his features, and, when he spoke, it was slowly.
"I wasn't sure what you were trying to accomplish. I had to figure out what it all meant. Do you realize what would've happened to that receptionist had I actually cared? An attempted security breach of that magnitude—"
"She told you?"
Draco sneered, his hesitancy gone.
"I monitor every person who even speaks my father's name in that building. You think I wouldn't be sure to know who visited him?"
"—I'm sure was a worthy member of Dumbledore's Army, but she certainly lacks the bravery you possess. I confronted her about it after your first visit. She's written to me after every one since."
Guilt and shock hit her hard. Draco had known since her first visit. All this time she thought she was being sneaky, that she was helping her marriage with Draco by visiting his father without him knowing… and Draco had been well informed. Had he listened in on her conversations with his father? Did he know by heart how pathetic she sounded going to a man she hated for help?
Ginny thought of the searching looks Draco would give her; she had never connected them with having begun after she started visiting his father, yet, now, she was sure that was the case.
The apology left her easily, as if it had simply been waiting permission to be spoken. Ginny hated going to see Lucius. Or, rather, she hated doing it behind her husband's back. After all these years, she was almost… relieved that it was no longer something she had to hide from him.
Draco didn't take his eyes off of her, his lips still curled furiously.
Her relief, however, did nothing to halt his wrath.
"What for, darling? For fighting me every time I tried to take the children to see my father, despite the fact that you were visiting him with little concern? Or, perhaps, for the insult over your attempt at sneaking through my security system? How about for all the times you guilted me over my father's failed attempt at murdering you—those nights, did you think about what gossip you'd share with him on your next visit?"
Ginny wished there was some sort of anger she could cling to in order to fight against what he said. But there was none. Nothing Draco said was wrong. It was all the truth, in some horrible, warped way. She had continued to fight with him over the children visiting Lucius, she had reminded him often of his father's dark past, she had thought she managed to trick Draco, despite knowing how hard he had worked on the security system.
He was right.
Draco's eyebrows rose when she failed to finish her sentence. He held his palms out in front of him.
"Not good enough," he said through clenched teeth. "Why were you visiting him?"
"Because I fucked up!" Ginny cried out, tears wetting her eyes. "When I accused you of sleeping with Chang, you—hell, Draco, you would barely look at me. Months, you would barely look at me for months, and I didn't know what to do. My apologies did nothing, my excuses, my attempts at healing us, they didn't help at all."
He bared his teeth and she knew what he was thinking—your apologies do nothing now.
She breathed in through her nose, trying to collect herself.
"I thought if I visited Lucius, if I somehow could see him and not want to gouge his eyeballs out, then you'd see that I was trying to fix things between us. We could've visited him as a family, with the children. You knew how much I hated him, and I had hoped you'd see that I wanted me and you to work, that if I made an effort with him I was making one with you too."
"Yet you never decided to tag along on any visits after."
"Because… because he gave me a better idea," she whispered, almost too afraid to tell Draco the truth.
His eyes narrowed.
"Is that so? What ideas, pray tell, did my father fill your head with?"
His long fingers were drumming the side of his leg, the first thing Ginny noticed, for she couldn't keep eye contact.
"How to be a better Malfoy." Draco's fingers stilled. "I thought that would help fix us somehow. He would tell me how to be a—a proper wife to you, how to help the Malfoy name. And I knew that's what you cared about most."
"That's not what I cared about most."
His voice sounded choked and she looked up, surprised. Their eyes locked. She wondered, briefly, if the truth of why she went to Azkaban made any difference towards his harsh feelings about the situation. All those years, Draco had known and never said anything. Ginny couldn't imagine how much hatred and resentment for being kept in the dark had built up inside of her husband.
But she had gone for a reason.
"Well, it seemed like it," Ginny said. "You never wanted to end up in the slums."
"Don't divert from what we're talking about," he fumed; the moment had passed and his anger was back. "You went to him when I wouldn't speak to you; that has nothing to do with me trying to keep our family above water."
"Doesn't it? You were working all the time and you hired Chang—" The woman's name still tasted bitter in her mouth. "—and she was supposed to relieve your workload! But you were still never home. I felt like you were avoiding me and the children purposely. It drove me insane. She's, just, bloody beautif—"
"—Let me finish! I never should have said that you were having an affair, especially not in front of her, but I couldn't seem to get your attention otherwise. I couldn't express my feelings any other way. After, I realized my mistake. You—you shut down, you stopped talking to me, you completely cut me out of your life even though I was still in it, and—and it drove me to your father, in the hopes that seeing him would prove something to you. I was sick to my stomach afterwards, I hated myself more than ever, but… but he had said something that made me go back. He told me to throw that first Christmas party, he told me to do the big events, he told me how to present myself in public. And it seemed to fix something, so I thought he was right, because you started talking to me again—"
"Ginny, stop," Draco ordered feebly.
She did. Her knees felt ready to buckle from under her as fatigue nipped at her and she inched over to her bed. Sitting down, she let her unkempt hair fall in front of her face, shielding her from reality, if only for a moment.
Ginny heard a dull thump and looked up, her hair shifting, to see that Draco had leaned heavily against the wall. Merlin, what were they even doing? This was exactly what she had feared, that they'd fight until they had nothing left and nothing would be resolved. And now fatigue seemed to settle in their bones. She felt as though they were dueling, each hitting the other with a strong curse and there was no time to rest before the next attack and… and…
It was time to go home.
Getting back to her feet and fighting the urge to groan as her body tried to protest the movement, Ginny looked at her husband. Draco watched her.
"It feels like we hardly know each other anymore," he admitted quietly, as though telling a secret. "This past week… this past week, I knew you again. It felt normal. I knew this was worth fighting for. That we are worth fighting for."
Her heart constricted. When Draco looked at her, she wasn't sure if he was seeing his wife who he had left or the woman he had spent the last week with. They weren't one and the same. Or, maybe, now they were. Ginny pushed her hair out of her face, annoyed. If she wasn't able to tell who she was or what she wanted, she couldn't expect Draco to.
But the idea that he could fight for the person she had been the past week, but not the woman she had been before, left her feeling sick.
"I'm not the same person I was ten years ago," Ginny said in a small voice, on the verge of tears again. "I wish I was, I do, because—because this past week, I couldn't accept that some of the things that happened in my life were because of me. I felt like I didn't know myself anymore. But those decisions I made were my own. Marrying you, and the papers, and not playing Quidditch anymore, and—and I know you loved me then, when we first got together, I know this. But I'm different now. I've done things and you've done things too, and we're different people now than we were ten years ago. And I'm not sure we ever really realized that."
A breeze made the window panes knock together and she jumped, turning around to look for the sound. When she realized it was only the wind, she relaxed, but not before noticing how bright it was outside.
Draco was staring furiously at the ground when she turned back around. She wondered what he was thinking, but she found it hard to concentrate. Her head was beginning to ache from thinking too much.
"Can we go home now?" Ginny pleaded. "Please. Let's go home to the children."
He looked up from the floor, and it was clear his thoughts were whirling.
"Yes. Let's go home."
They left the Burrow in silence. When they Apparated in front of their home, a rush of anxiety hit Ginny.
She glanced at Draco, who had shoved his hands in his pockets and was looking up at the house with a blank expression. Why was she nervous to see the children when at the Burrow she was desperate to get to them? Perhaps it was because once she entered her home, once Narcissa and Blaise and the children spotted her, the fight—no, it hadn't been a fight, it had been a conversation, an argument—with Draco was officially over.
They'd go back to fake smiles around their family; their perfect act would be back on. After all, they hadn't really resolved anything. Actually, they had revealed more about themselves than they had in a while, and it seemed to linger between them: her visiting Lucius, him knowing about it, her insecurity about Chang, his inability to fight for her before but his willingness to do it now. Ginny wasn't sure how they were supposed to pick up that conversation again.
As they began towards their home, she inhaled the crisp air, letting it fill her lungs until it burned. The sound of distant laughter and screeching drifted towards them; they both stopped. The children must be in the backyard. Seemingly on instinct, Draco turned to meet her gaze and her lips parted. The overwhelming desire to hug him, to let him comfort her, hit her hard. She brushed her wedding ring with her right hand, hoping it would bring her some sort of peace.
Instead she couldn't help but fear she had messed up again.
Maybe she shouldn't have rushed to leave the Burrow so quickly. Maybe she should've sat down with Draco, pushed her emotions aside and really tried to talk to him. Maybe they should've taken an extra hour or two and spent the time together in silence. Maybe she should've pushed aside her stubbornness and let her walls collapse.
The rush of her thoughts, though, brought her some clarity.
Ginny was reminded that, as good as it might've done to stay longer with Draco at the Burrow to hear him out, her mind was still too caught between her memories of the last week and the memories from before. And she had trouble deciding which emotion to focus on—anger or despair or hope or determination. Above all else, her instinct seemed torn—push him away, punish him for signing the papers and agreeing to leave her, or hold him and never let him go, forgive him as she would've done only yesterday.
"Draco," she began, his name falling from her mouth gently.
The front door opened, forcing their attention from each other. Ginny stared as Blaise walked out, zipping up one of Bill's old Muggle jackets that her brother had given Draco; Draco never wore it, but he kept it in the closet nonetheless. Blaise was still in the outfit he had worn to Azkaban, though it was noticeably more wrinkled than before. It was another reminder of how much had happened in the past twenty-four hours.
Blaise's dark gaze found their surprised ones right away and he made a choked sound. For once rather ungraceful, he stumbled from the porch towards them. His eyes went back and forth between the pair as he checked them over.
"No warning? Can't send an owl letting a bloke know you're coming by?"
It was obvious Blaise was trying to seem nonchalant, but his voice was strained. Ginny let out a choked laugh. She felt Draco look at her, but then Blaise was directly in front of them, forcing Draco's attention back on him. Blaise reached out, grabbing onto Draco's shoulder with his right hand and grabbing Ginny's shoulder with his left.
"Are you okay? Is everything okay? You're back, so I assume so, right?" Blaise was speaking quickly, looking between them both, as though trying to assure himself that they were truly alright. "You both look exhausted. The children—they're outside. They saw Marion Marie Margaret out there and decided now's the perfect time to get her."
"You left them—" Draco began, seeming only a tad annoyed, but Blaise scoffed, cutting him off.
"Of course not, you fool. Your mother is out there with them. And Yolly. But, really, can one of you answer me—are you okay?"
Blaise's gaze was on Draco when he asked the question the final time. They must've communicated silently for Draco stepped around Blaise a second later. Visibly relaxing, Blaise looked completely at Ginny as Draco walked the rest of the way to the house. The last thing Ginny saw of Draco was his head bowed, shoulders sagged, before the front door closed behind him.
When Blaise cast a warming spell over her, she jolted; she hadn't realized she'd been shivering and staring at her front door as Blaise watched silently. His eyebrows twitched high on his forehead as he looked her over.
"How are you?" he asked her quietly, as if afraid of startling her.
Before she knew what she was doing, Ginny threw herself at Blaise. He caught her easily, as though he expected it. Burying her face in his jacket, Ginny allowed herself a moment to enjoy Blaise's embrace; it felt like it had been forever since she had a moment of silence, of peace.
Being out here with Blaise allowed her that.
It was broken by the sound of the children screaming with joy—Draco must've made it to the backyard.
"They'll be very happy to see you," Blaise informed her, tightening his hold on her.
She nodded and sniffed, stepping out of his arms. Offering him a grateful smile, Ginny realized she had little time to talk to Blaise privately before the children would be coming out to see her. Who knew when she'd have time to talk to him, or anyone really, without Draco or the kids around?
"I'm excited to see them too."
"How are you?" he pressed.
"I'm fine. Tired. But… but I've remembered everything."
"I think so. I mean, there's just… so much." She inhaled deeply before continuing. "I hope I've remembered it all. I can't handle another morning like this one."
"After last night," Blaise started hesitantly. "After our late-night adventure… I wasn't sure if that had something to do with—with you needing to go to St. Mungo's. I wasn't sure if I should've told Draco about it. I didn't but I thought I should've. I've been worried ever since he came home this morning without you. But I figured it was easier to face his wrath over being left in the dark rather than yours if I tattled."
The concern that lingered in his words made her stomach squeeze and she reached out, grabbing onto one of his hands.
"He knew already."
"He knew? About your late-night rendezvous?"
"Did he know about last night? Is he going to shoot a killing curse my way? Should I be saying my goodbyes?"
"I don't know. He didn't mention last night. Asma—he confronted her after my first visit. She's been writing him after each time I visit Lucius. The way she spoke to me, I never would've thought, but she must've assumed it was some… some weird thing between me and Draco and she didn't want to lose her job—"
"Wait, wait, wait. How many times did you visit that man?"
The idea of going over this with Blaise made her feel nauseous. Imploringly, she stared up at him.
"Can we talk about something else? I'll fill you in, I will, but I'd rather talk about anything other than that right now."
He frowned but nodded begrudgingly.
"I'm assuming you and Draco talked then? That's what's kept you?"
Ugh, she wasn't sure which conversation was worse: her many visits to Lucius or her and Draco's unfinished conversation at the Burrow. Slowly, Ginny nodded.
"Well, you didn't look ready to kill each other, so how'd it end?"
When she didn't respond right away, he tugged her closer by her hand.
"It went badly?"
"No. No, not… not badly. There's just—Blaise, there was so much we had hidden from each other. I—I don't know how we can fix this."
Her voice cracked and she released his hand, stepping away. If they kept talking about her and Draco, she had a horrible feeling she'd end up sobbing, which was another thing she didn't want to do right now.
Instead, she straightened her back and rolled her shoulders. It helped calm her. Then, as Blaise peered at her worriedly, she spoke.
"Thank you for always being such a good friend to me."
"Oh, stop," Blaise responded instantly, though his lips curled into a small grin. "You're only saying that because you know you're stuck with me."
"I'm not joking, Blaise. I'll never forget how—how nice you were to me this past week and how you made sure we became friends when Draco and I first started dating—"
"Hey, Ginny, don't think—"
But whatever Blaise was going to say was cut off by the front door opening again. Ginny looked over Blaise's shoulder, knowing instantly it was one of the children looking for her.
Their gazes locked right away and her breath caught as she looked over her eldest child. He was still dressed in pajamas with a Muggle coat thrown on. His hair was wild; clearly no one had bothered to brush it, given the holiday. And his mouth was stained dark, probably from eating too many Chocolate Frogs.
Ginny stepped around Blaise and she found herself half running towards her son. It felt like her heart was in her throat as she dropped to her knees in front of him. But instead of reaching for her, he took a small step back, caution painted on his face. She forced herself not to touch him, instead taking a second to study him. It was obvious Orion was nervous and hesitant and, for a moment, she wasn't sure why. He seemed torn between wanting to bolt away from her or jump into her embrace.
It wasn't hard for her to realize the truth of the situation. If she could've gone back in time, she would've slapped some sense into herself.
Because Orion knew about her memory loss. She had told him that day she lost him in Diagon Alley. Orion knew far more about the past week than he should've; just one more mistake she had made, burdening a child with her own issues. When he woke up this morning and both his parents were missing, had he assumed that something had happened to her again?
Orion was many things, but he was never uncertain, never uneasy, especially not around her.
She forced herself to relax and tried to think of how to handle the situation. There was no way she could know exactly what Orion was thinking, and now wasn't the best time for her to apologize for telling him the truth of her accident. Somewhere, her mother-in-law was lurking, along with her two younger children. The last thing she wanted was for Gray and Lyra to realize she hadn't had any memories of them the past week.
It felt natural, though, to smile at her son. She could remember when her mum and Ron had shown her the picture of her children last week. Orion had been the first child she really examined. Everything about him screamed that he was a Weasley, except for the prideful stance he often had. That alone proved he was his father's son.
Her smile widened and he seemed to relax at the sight of it.
"Happy Christmas, Orion," Ginny said gently, tilting her head to the side.
His eyes narrowed as she spoke before widening when she said his name. He took several steps forward until she could feel the warmth of his breath on her face. The blue of his eyes was bright as he looked her over. She waited, unsure of what he was looking for.
Ginny was reminded of the searching look Draco gave her after her accident, when he came to pick her up from the Burrow and was waiting for her to say something.
"I'm back," she whispered.
Orion reached out and pressed his small hand against her cheek. Then, as if he found what he was looking for, he let out something similar to a sob.
It was as though the name was torn from his throat. She grabbed him as he reached for her with his other hand. Orion buried his face in her neck. She could feel his breath against her skin, hot and quick, a telltale sign that he was on the verge of tears.
"It's okay, it's okay, everything is back to normal, darling," Ginny promised, her lips to his ear.
His body shook in her arms and she hated herself instantly, hated that she had ever told him the truth about her memory loss. When Orion finally seemed to regain control of his emotions, he stepped out of her embrace. Wiping a hand under his nose, successfully smearing snot on his upper lip, Orion stared at her.
"I thought you had died," he admitted, lip trembling. "Nana wouldn't tell us anything and Uncle Blaise was all—all twitchy and weird and Dad was gone too and when he came back, he was weird too, and you've never missed Christmas before, ever."
Orion took a deep, shuddering breath.
"Orion, darling." Ginny smoothed back his wild locks. Her touch calmed him, and her heart fluttered in the familiar way it did whenever she was with her children. He took another gulping breath. "I'm so sorry. I am. I had to go see a Healer because my memories, darling, they've come back. I remember everything."
"Yeah?" he asked, sniffling.
"Yeah. I remember that you got Granny to help you knit me some gloves for Christmas last year. And I remember that time you climbed the tree, to the very top, at Lysander and Lorcan's house—do you remember that?"
Orion nodded. The memories came back to her easily, confirming that her mind was intact once more.
"Do you remember when—when Teddy broke Dad's favorite vase?" Orion questioned, grinning.
"One of the Malfoy family heirlooms," she said with a cheeky grin that matched his. "Dad wasn't very happy about that, was he?"
Laughter spilled from Orion, brightening his flushed face as he shook his head.
"Dad still fixed it, though. I can't even tell it was broken now!"
"Yeah, your dad did fix it." She watched him, glad to see him smiling again. "Darling, do you feel better now?"
"Yeah! Dad's helping catch Marion Marie Margaret right now. She's trying to come home for Christmas, just like you, Mum, but she keeps running away whenever we get too close."
"Come on, let's get inside," Ginny said as she heard Blaise approach from behind.
Orion happily turned and ran into the foyer. Ginny stood, the muscles in her legs screaming. Blaise hooked a hand under her elbow, steadying her.
"Thanks," she muttered.
They walked in together and Blaise shut the door behind them. Orion was already racing towards the back of the house, where the rest of the family was. For a moment, Blaise and Ginny quietly walked beside each other. Then a sudden thought hit her.
"What does Narcissa know?"
Blaise's lips pressed together.
"All of it, I believe," he admitted. "Draco was… rather distraught when he came back after leaving you at your parents'. She took him aside to help calm him. I hadn't realized he'd told her everything until he went back to check on you, after Pansy sent an owl saying he was needed."
Ginny almost groaned. She knew that Pansy had written to Draco. When she woke up and saw Harry beside her, though, she had assumed that Pansy had written to Harry instead. Apparently, she had been wrong.
"What did she say?"
Blaise shrugged, giving her a sympathetic smile.
"Narcissa Malfoy isn't the easiest woman to read. She simply stated that she wished you and Draco would've thought her close enough company to tell about the accident. I'd say there's some hope that Draco didn't tell her that your whole family knew about the accident but, well, who knows."
This time, Ginny did groan.
"She's going to kill me. We'd been getting along so well too, the past week."
"Is that so?"
"Yeah," Ginny sighed. "She sort of told me she was happy that Draco married me."
Blaise looked at her, jaw dropped.
"Why didn't you tell me that?" he hissed.
She shrugged and Blaise pressed his lips together, stopping himself from berating her for more details. The backdoor was open, and they were able to see everyone else outside. The look Blaise gave her promised he'd be bringing this up later.
Ginny, though, focused on what everyone else was doing. Orion had run up to Narcissa and was tugging at her cloak. In the distance, Draco held Lyra on his hip, pointing at something. When they reached the doorway, Ginny saw that Draco must've been motioning to Yolly and Gray, who were still chasing the fluffy, white cat around the yard.
Blaise squeezed her elbow once before letting go and stepping completely outside. Fighting the desire to run to her bedroom and hide from her mother-in-law, and her husband, Ginny followed. When Gray turned, his eyes lighting up at the sight of her, it made everything seem okay.
Christmas day passed in a blur. Exhaustion nipped at her continually; even with Blaise pressing a cup of coffee into her hands—and Draco's—almost every hour, the caffeine seemed to have little effect on either of them. Ginny was glad to be home, really, and even more glad that she remembered everything, but, Merlin, she was tired. Whenever she wasn't moving, whenever she allowed herself a moment to relax on the couch, her eyes began to drift shut.
It would take one of the children yelling at her, or Blaise nudging her, to get her to wake up again.
Of course, it didn't help that the atmosphere in the house was… off. Narcissa was polite but emotionless when interacting with Ginny. Ginny also had a feeling Narcissa was watching her whenever Ginny wasn't paying attention, but she couldn't be too sure; anytime she looked to the older woman, her attention was on the children or Draco. Draco himself seemed as weary as Ginny. There were times Ginny would glance at him and he was as still as a statue, his eyes unfocused, his chest barely lifting with breath.
But then he'd take a gulp of air and straighten, blinking rapidly, and he'd seem alive again.
The children, though, were content. Ginny wasn't sure if they were unaware of the awkwardness of the adults or if they were simply used to the strange atmosphere. Lyra was chatty and bubbly, with poor Marion Marie Margaret held tightly in her arms. The cat didn't seem to mind too horribly, though she did make a desperate escape whenever Lyra's attention was diverted and her grip slackened. But when Lyra called for her, reaching out, Marion would sullenly return to the little girl.
Gray remained at Ginny's side most of the day, his tiny hand wrapped in her sweater as he looked through the new books he received or played with a new toy. The sound of his steady breathing was likely part of the reason Ginny had trouble staying awake.
Despite returning to his normal self after his talk with Ginny in the foyer, Orion kept a curious eye on her and Draco. Unlike his grandmother, he didn't seem to care when Ginny would catch him watching her. Instead of looking away, he'd continue staring, his eyebrows furrowed slightly, as though trying to figure out if something was off or not. Just as often as she caught him looking at her, she'd see him watching Draco.
She wondered what Orion was thinking.
Narcissa left after nightfall. Blaise offered to sleep on the couch; Ginny had no energy to tell him to leave and, it seemed, neither did Draco. She had a feeling Blaise wouldn't have left even if they had told him to. As the children gradually passed out—Orion on the floor by Draco's feet, Lyra underneath the Christmas tree, Gray beside Ginny—Yolly, who had stayed for the whole day, took them to their rooms.
It was when she was alone in the library with Draco that she realized she should head to bed too. The idea of getting off the couch was extremely unappealing, though. Blaise had offered wine to Draco and Ginny, but they both declined and he let them be.
Ginny had a feeling Blaise leaving was more to give the couple a minute together than to get wine.
But silence reigned between them, other than the wood popping in the hearth. Ginny's eyes fluttered shut for the hundredth time, sleep reaching out to her. Now would be a good time to talk, she supposed, but it would also be an amazing time to sleep.
"Go to bed."
She blinked rapidly, sitting up and looking at Draco. He stood by the window, looking out over the yard. When Ginny made no indication that she had heard him, he glanced at her.
Her breath caught when their eyes met.
"You need sleep. Do you need help up to the room?"
Ginny shook her head silently. Perhaps she should say something—
"We have plenty of time to talk," Draco said, as though he knew what she was thinking. "Anything we say right now isn't going to help. I'll be to bed soon."
He would? The idea of Draco joining her in bed sent her heart racing. They were still on such odd terms. But they had shared a room for years now, on good and bad terms, in more confused mindsets than this one, she supposed.
Nodding, Ginny got up off the couch and started towards the hall.
It felt… wrong leaving Draco alone in the library, but she couldn't deny that he was right. They were both too tired to talk right now. Any conversation they had would probably go in a circle.
After what seemed like ages to get to the bedroom, Ginny collapsed on top of the bed. She should change, she knew, but she didn't have the energy. Her eyes grew heavy, her breathing evened out, and she could feel herself drifting away just as the bedroom door creaked open.
Lifting her head, sleep driven away momentarily, she was surprised to see that it wasn't Draco entering the room. It was Lyra. The little girl shut the door behind her before running and jumping onto the bed. Her bottom lip was poking out. Ginny reached for her, pulling the Lyra up towards the pillows.
"You okay?" Ginny asked softly, helping Lyra under the covers.
"Marion Marie Margaret got out of my room," she replied, yawning.
Ginny knew that wasn't the true reason Lyra sought comfort in her parents' bed; she must've had another nightmare. But Ginny didn't care, half thankful for the buffer her youngest offered if Draco came to bed. Lyra's eyes were already closing as she buried her head in the pillows. Following suit, Ginny climbed under the blankets and let herself relax. Sleep came easily.
Ginny sighed into her pillow, aware of what the sound was and wishing it would bloody go away. She had been having a wonderfully dreamless sleep, and the last thing she wanted was for reality to come crashing back down on her.
Shifting, she let one eye crack open. It didn't seem too late in the day; morning light brightened the room, but there still seemed to be a sleepy, quiet vibe to the house.
Except, of course, for the owl outside her window.
Ginny started to sit up completely, grumbling as her body ached at the movement, when the bedroom door opened. She jumped, surprised, as Draco entered. He looked at her right away, a frown tugging at his lips.
"The owl was down by the library window, but I didn't catch it in time," he said without greeting, as if they were picking up on a previous conversation.
She watched as he reached the window, lifting it so that the tiny owl could come in. It was familiar to her and, after a moment when her mind caught up to the situation, she realized it was Pansy's. Draco unwrapped the letter on the owl's leg, fed it a treat he had been carrying, and shut the window after the owl flew back out of it.
"Who's that for?"
"You. There are a few letters for you, actually. Charlie must've mentioned to your parents that you had been by yesterday morning; they've written to you several times already. And there are others, all down in the library, whenever you're ready for them."
It felt awkward in some way, their conversation, and she feared it was because they had already fallen back into their old routine. Licking her lips, Ginny glanced around the room. She realized then that Lyra was no longer next to her.
"I moved her back to her room earlier this morning."
"What time is it?"
Draco pulled out his pocket watch and glanced at it.
She nodded. Then, abruptly, Draco took a deep breath and sat on the bed by her feet. Ginny watched, surprised, as he ran a hand through his hair. His scent seemed to wash over her from his close proximity; he must've showered already, for he smelled of mint and bodywash.
Straightening, Ginny self-consciously ran her tongue over her teeth. Merlin, she hadn't bathed in ages. She must look a mess.
And… why did he look like he was prepping for another talk? She steeled herself when he spoke.
Draco's eyes traced over her face, taking her in. Then, he continued.
"How do you feel?"
Automatically, she went to say she was fine, but she stopped herself. How did she feel? Well, her body ached from lack of sleep. She felt grimy; a shower and a good scrubbing was in order. But her thoughts were clear. There was no lingering headache, no extreme exhaustion poking at her, no weight on her shoulders. Her emotions weren't battling for dominance.
She felt like herself, for the first time in a while.
A small smile settled on her lips at the realization, a true smile. Draco relaxed, ever so slightly, at the sight of it.
"Much better," she responded. "Really."
Other than having clearly showered, Draco looked better too. His eyes were bright from getting rest, his skin had some color to it, and his familiar air of confidence was back. She briefly wondered if he had slept in the bed with her and Lyra last night, for she didn't remember hearing him come in.
"Last night, after you had gone to bed, I talked to Blaise. About everything. It helped me realize some things," he admitted. "Gin, there's no—yesterday, I thought we'd be able to simply talk and fix our issues, that after our past week together everything would go back to the way it had been when we first got married. But you were right."
Her eyebrows rose in surprise.
"I realized the past few days how—how desperately I missed you. I remembered how easy things had been. I thought—fuck, I thought when your memory came back, you'd still be the same person you were ten years ago. And that's not fair, because you aren't. We've changed. You were right; we never seemed to realize that we weren't the same people we married, that we grew, that we're different. We're the same but…"
"But we're different," she supplied softly.
Draco nodded curtly.
"I'm different," he muttered. "I stopped learning who you were. I stopped showing you who I was."
Ginny watched him, unsure of what to say.
"I have faith in us."
His eyes were dark, serious, when he spoke those five words. It felt hard to breathe for a moment. The intensity of his stare was overwhelming.
"This past week helped—it helped me remember things I had forgotten. How to properly care for you. The way your face changes when I—I say something that makes you happy. How much fun we used to have together and with the children. How much we enjoyed each other. It's been so long, far too long, since I remembered any of that. We became so engrossed in balancing our lives that we lost ourselves a bit. I had a week to realize that, but for me to expect for you to be ready to discuss that or figure out what you wanted yesterday wasn't fair. You haven't had any time to process what happened to you, and…"
Ginny fought the urge to reach for him. He was keeping a careful distance from her, whether to not overwhelm her or not touch her, she wasn't sure.
She knew how hard it was for him to express his thoughts and feelings so blatantly. Exposing himself like this, for the second time in a day, was exhausting and hard. Draco had never been one to explain the reasoning behind his actions. He was never one to talk about his feelings. Ginny also knew, for a fact, that admitting he was wrong was a rarity for him.
And what he was saying…
"I want our marriage to work. I want us to work. But… but I think we need to rebuild it."
"Rebuild it?" she echoed dumbly, still trying to process everything he had said.
"We can't start from the beginning or start over; we have three children and we can't throw away all of our issues and our past and hope it won't haunt us. But we can try to rebuild our relationship. We can go as slow or as fast as we want, we can feel it out together, we can figure it out as a team."
As a team.
"I like when we're on the same side."
Draco's admission from yesterday, when he was preparing himself to leave her in her childhood bedroom, came back to her.
She swallowed thickly.
"How? How do we do that?"
Draco hesitated, a frown twisting on his face. A shiver raced up and down her back; whatever he was thinking they should do, he didn't want to say.
"I think I should move in with Blaise."
She was already trying to object before he finished the sentence. Draco held up one hand tiredly, stopping her.
"It's not that I don't want to be here, with you. And I don't want to leave you alone with the children; that's not my intention. I want to still be a part of… of everything. But I think if we want to do this, we need some true separation. We need to make sure working on our marriage is really the—the healthiest thing for our family. I grew up in a household where my parents, for years, hated each other. There were years when they were civil and there were years when there was something close to love between them. But it was confusing for me when I was young; it was hard to understand. I grew to accept that marriages were like that, that marriages didn't have to be… full of respect or patience or love."
"Draco," she whispered, heartbroken for him.
He held her gaze.
"I don't want the children to go through what I did. They already have been. I was… I was turning a blind eye to it, too afraid of losing you yet too afraid to talk to you about it, not realizing I was setting them up for the same life I had. We need to make sure living together, being together, is the best for all of us. I'm not sure we'll be able to accomplish that if we're living together." He paused. "Unless you'd rather—"
"No," she said right away, knowing what he was going to ask.
Ginny couldn't imagine living away from the children, being away from them for days at a time, not after having spent almost every day with them. Draco smiled but said nothing. She breathed in slowly as she tried to figure out how she felt about what he said.
"I have faith in us."
He wasn't asking her to pretend to be the woman she had been two days ago. He wasn't asking her to forget about their past issues and focus on the future. He wasn't asking much of her at all. All Draco wanted was for them both to give their relationship another chance. Though, she supposed, that was asking quite a lot.
Ginny wondered if this could work. For most of the children's lives, it seemed like Draco wasn't home and their marriage had suffered from it. How would him living at Blaise's be any different? Some horrible part of her mulled over the idea that this could be his way of escaping his life here. If he moved in with Blaise and stopped coming by, the separation would likely be easier for the children and her. She couldn't imagine that was his intention, but she still found it hard to breathe for a moment.
Her mind flashed back to the cold, hard look in his eyes as he pressed a kiss to her cheek before heading to the States. He had left her then. Draco could leave her again. If life outside of this house was better, more appealing, there was definitely a chance he would never come home again.
This could be his escape.
"Are you just trying to leave again?"
For a brief second, she hated how much her voice shook as she asked the question. It seemed like Draco didn't hear her, frozen as he stared at her. When her breath hitched, he lurched forward, his eyes widening.
"No," he replied urgently. "I had made a mistake. You asked me to stay before and I left and I was fucking wrong and I didn't realize it then. And—and I understand why'd you worry about that but I'm not trying to leave, I'm not. I truly think some separation between us, something we both agree on, can give us room to breathe. To figure out our thoughts. I'm not—I won't ever leave again, not if you don't want me to. I want to make amends, I want to make this right between us. Please, Ginny, let me make this right."
There it was, lingering in the depths of his eyes: desperation. He was telling the truth. Draco truly believed that by leaving the house, by giving her space, their relationship would begin to heal.
Begin to heal and, hopefully, begin to grow into something more.
"Blaise really helped you sort your thoughts, huh," she noted.
Draco stared at her, looking from one eye to the other, before the corner of his lips curled as he realized her uncertainty had passed.
"Sometimes he's useful."
"I don't know if he'll let you be his new roommate if he hears you say that."
"Probably not," Draco allowed, cocking his head. "I will stay, if you don't want me to leave."
All Ginny had wanted the past few years was Draco to be home and present. But… but she could see why he thought they wouldn't be able to get past their issues if they were forced into a small space together. There was simply too much for them to try to navigate through: fights they never finished, questions they never answered, issues they had yet to analyze. Would it be a healthy environment for the children if Draco and Ginny were continually trying to figure themselves and their relationship out?
But Ginny wasn't sure it would be a better environment for the children if their father wasn't home with them. Except, of course, for the fact that he hadn't been home that often through the years anyway.
Perhaps Draco was acknowledging his absence by offering to leave. He was certainly taking note of her fears by offering to stay.
"It's not permanent."
She had meant for it to be a question, but it came out stronger, surer; this would not be permanent. They couldn't let it be.
"It's not permanent," he repeated. "If it doesn't work, if it makes things worse, we'll… we'll try something else out."
"And you'll what? Come by to pick up the kids on certain days? Draco, I'm just not sure this is going to make any sense to them. The idea of it hardly makes sense to me."
"Let's give it a week or two. That's not long at all. If it's too hard on the children, or you, or me, we'll talk about it."
She could've laughed except for the sincerity in his voice.
Draco never liked to talk about anything. But, as he had proven the last few days, he was trying to change that.
"You grew up in a happy household," Draco pointed out. "Blaise was the one who told me that giving you space might help. And I agree with him. Neither Blaise nor I had parents whose marriages were consistent and happy but you did. If you think differently, if you think doing something else—"
She was shaking her head before he finished. Her marriage to Draco was nothing like her parents' marriage, or Draco's parents' marriage. Maybe Draco moving in with Blaise wasn't the best idea. But trying to force him to stay home with her the past few years had only pushed them further apart.
"It's something to try," she allowed slowly. "Two weeks. We'll give it two weeks."
He nodded, worry shining on his face. And she nodded back.
Author's Note: Phew. Okay! I hope everyone enjoyed this chapter. As always, thank you idreamofdracofor being my beta and taking the time to go over this chapter. Without her, I'd definitely be less sure of what I was putting out for you guys to read. She edits without complaint, for free, and on her own time, and I could not write how much I adore and appreciate her because of it.
I'm really excited to hear what everyone thinks of this chapter. Your reviews over the past two months, all the kinds words you said and your excitement for this chapter, really helped push me along. I always feel horrible when a chapter takes longer to get out than I want but, man, Draco and Ginny can be particularly stubborn. Honestly, I planned on this chapter being completely different—a lot more yelling and throwing of things—but it came out almost opposite.
Anyway, thank you for all your lovely reviews. I never expected this type of love and appreciation for What Ginny Forgot and I always feel so honored when I see a new review or when someone finds me on Tumblr/messages me on FFN to talk to me about the fic. To any Anons reviewing, anyone under Guest reviews, know I read each review and cherish it also. I try to respond to anyone who reviews this story but I can't if you're under a Guest review, so just know I read your reviews and wish desperately that I could respond.
Please review and let me know what you think!