Chapter 8: Pride

"Alright, out with it! What's so funny?" Ginny knew she wasn't being fair. She had cornered Elise on their way to Charms, determined to figure out why nearly every girl had been snickering at her all morning. Elise bit her lip and looked at Ginny with wide eyes. Ginny kept her mouth in a firm line. She felt bad about taking her wand out and threatening the girl, but it had to be done.

"It wasn't me, honest! I just saw it is all." Ginny's temper was dangerously high. She was not in the mood for vague answers. "Saw what." Elise stared at her in fear, and then began trembling. Shite. Elise began sobbing, and Ginny's body slumped in defeat. Stuffing her wand back into her pocket, she reached out to touch Elise's shoulder. The girl jumped at her touch and shrieked, before realizing Ginny had now put her wand away.

"I'm not going to hurt you. Just tell me what it is. Please?" Elise stared at her, and Ginny worked very hard to keep calm. None of this was really Elise's fault. The truth was, Ginny's patience had been stretched ever since coming back from the Holidays. Aside from Luna, she had not received a single compliment about her engagement ring. No one had asked her about wedding plans. No one had said congratulations. Instead, she had been met with sneers and hostility. It was slowly driving her mad. And this morning had been the worst. There was something being said about her, and she could no longer trick herself into thinking it didn't matter. She had to know.

Elise finally pulled herself together enough to answer. "Well, it's a sort of note I guess. It's being passed around so I don't know how I can show you exactly."

"Well what does it say?" At that, Elise blushed and shrugged her shoulders. Ginny knew it must say something. But she also knew that the likelihood of Elise having written it was nearly zero. It was most likely Astoria's little gang. Fine. She was just going to have to figure it out on her own. She should have known Elise would be completely useless. "Right then. Well come on, we're going to be late." And with that, Ginny spun around and began stomping off. Bewildered, Elise followed her to class while Ginny completely ignored her.

She needed to get that note. She would burn it, and then she would get revenge. It wasn't until Potions that afternoon that she managed it. Largely ignoring her own potion, Ginny waited until Astoria got up to go get supplies, and then quickly yanked out her wand. Summoning the girl's bag from across the room, Ginny immediately began rummaging through it in search of a note. There. Ginny pulled it out, shoving it into her own bag, and then looked up. At least three classmates were all staring at her. Ginny glared at them all, and then sent Astoria's bag back to the girl's seat.

Luckily Slughorn had been oblivious to it all, and Ginny took a deep breath before going back to chopping. She was positive one of the girls would tell Astoria what she had done. But it didn't matter. What could Astoria do? Tell Slughorn that Ginny had stolen a note from her? She would only land herself in trouble as well. She couldn't even try summoning it back, Ginny having closed her bag tightly to keep it in.

"Did you just steal something Ginny? As Head Girl I really can't just turn a blind eye to that sort of thing." Hermione was whispering furiously at her, and Ginny none to gently kicked her leg under the table. "I'll explain later. Promise. Just keep chopping." Hermione huffed, but otherwise seemed to let it go.

They had barely left the dungeon before Hermione whirled on her though. "Alright. Class is done. Time to explain. What were you thinking, going through another student's personal belongings!" Before Ginny got a chance to respond, Astoria was there as well, along with her little posse.

"No, it's alright Granger. She can see it if she wants. She might as well know what we all think of her." At that barb, Ginny rolled her eyes, the insults of her being a whore so old now that they barely registered. But Hermione bristled. "If that note is about what I think it is, you will all have detention this Saturday!"

Ginny couldn't help but feel a bit embarrassed by Hermione's display, especially as none of the Slytherin girls looked even a bit worried. To be honest, she wasn't really ashamed of what she and Draco got up to anymore. If anything, Ginny was beginning to think the other girls were simply jealous. Wishing that they had experienced being with a man as well. "Oh don't worry. We hardly need to write a note about what everyone already knows. That Weasely earned that ring by being on her knees." Ginny couldn't help it. Looking at all those girls smirk at her like that, it was pathetic.

"What an odd idea. Is that how you're hoping to earn your ring Greengrass? It's alright. Not all of us can have the intelligence and personality needed to charm a man. If you think using your body is the only way to get engaged, go for it. I'm sure Puckle won't mind." She gave her own cruel smirk as Astoria went red. Ginny really didn't know anything about the relationship between her two Slytherin classmates. But she had seen them making out, and his hands roamed enough that Ginny was fairly certain they had done more than just kiss.

"How dare you! Some of us know to value our virtue. Some of us had respectable upbringings. Some of us had mothers who-" Ginny's hand clenched around her wand, ready to blast Astoria into the wall. But before either girl could do anything, Hermione had inserted herself into the argument. "That's enough! Walk away, both of you, or I will be forced to issue detentions." Ginny found herself shaking with anger, but forced herself to turn around and stomp off. She had to have control. To remind herself that she was better than all of them.

Her classmates were just bitter. They had always assumed Draco was just with her so that he could shag her. That he would just use her for her body. And the worst part was that she couldn't even blame them. She and Draco had purposefully made them all think that way last year. She couldn't fix it now. They had decided to have sex before marriage, and this was just the price for it. But Merlin, it was so hard! It wasn't fair. She was engaged! She was supposed to be happy. To have people be happy for her. Instead, she had to deal with this crap.

Back in the common room, she pulled out the note Astoria had made about her, planning to toss it in the fire. And then she saw it. No wonder Elise hadn't been able to tell her what it said. It was nothing but a picture. Ginny continued to look at it in disbelief, and then threw it back into her bag. She wanted to cry. To scream. She didn't care that people knew she and Draco had been sleeping together. That their relationship had started out as physical. But she did mind this. Did anyone actually think this about her? It was much worse than being called a slut. This was a judgement on her entire character.

Ginny went down to supper, determined to look completely unaffected. She sat right in the middle of the table and began eating, ignoring the stares of the third years around her. Why was she not at the end with the other seventh years? Why was she here, looking directly ahead and not trying to talk to anyone? Simply, it was because she needed time to herself. She needed a plan. Some way to combat that note.

Her concentration was abruptly broken by Dean shooing a third year out of their seat and sitting next to her. "Did you write to him yet?" Ginny just stared at him.

"Damnit Ginny! I thought we talked about this!" She grabbed a roll and refused to look at him. "Yes, and I seem to remember telling you that I won't do it." Dean grabbed her wrist, and Ginny tensed. He yanked her around to face him, too angry to worry about hurting her. She had half a mind to throw the roll at his face.

"How do you think it will feel for me Ginny! Me and all the other muggleborn students here? If Lucius Malfoy gets reinstated to the Governors' Board, it will just mean that nothing's changed." She knew she should probably care more. Be just as outraged as Dean was over her future father-in-law still being powerful. But what was she supposed to do? No one was getting killed or being imprisoned anymore. Muggleborns were perfectly free to get an education, hold a job, and live in the wizarding world as they always had. They weren't being persecuted. And while she knew Lucius was still a bigot and a blood purist, she didn't know exactly what to do with that information.

"What is the bloody point of being with him if you can't use it to our advantage somehow?" Ginny knew what Dean was getting at, but it wasn't fair. He was putting all this pressure on her, yet there really wasn't anything she could do. She might be marrying his son, but Ginny had no delusions that Lucius held any regard for what she said or thought. And neither did any of the other Governors. They had been infighting and making alliances with each other for decades. If she really wanted to have the ear of any of them, it would take years of socializing with them and their families.

At the moment, the only one who cared what she thought was Draco. And Ginny was rather sure he still had years ahead of him before his voice would matter much in the Ministry. If she was really going to help Dean ensure Lucius wasn't reinstated to the Board of Governors, she would have to get Draco to personally appeal to his father over it.

"Dean, if this is really a battle you want to fight, then I'll help you. But not through Draco. Get together a petition or something. Lobby the Ministry with it. Organize a protest."

Dean glared at her. "You know, maybe you're a better match than I realized. I always thought you cared about others, but maybe I was wrong. At the end of the day, you're just another privileged pureblood." And with that, he got up and left Ginny sitting alone in astonishment.

Was that really what Dean thought of her? That she was only useful for her connection to Draco? She was surprised at how hurt she was. She did care. She would help. Of course she would. But trying to do what Dean wanted her to…Draco would never do it. He would resent her for asking. He would be hurt that she wanted to use him as a political tool. And more importantly, it wouldn't be right to pressure him into hurting his relationship with his father for a cause he didn't even believe in. That wasn't something you asked of someone you loved.

If her conversation with Dean hadn't been enough to ruin her night, what followed next certainly was. Ten minutes later found her biting her tongue, trying to hold in her anger as she was issued a detention. The rest of the school watched and whispered as Professor Sinistra, the new Head of House, told her to report to Filch at eight o'clock tomorrow night. This was so stupid. All Ginny had done was ask the little snot to pass the butter. Instead of passing it, he had high handedly told her that he wasn't her servant, and to get it herself.

When she had blinked at him in astonishment, he had sneered and told her some rubbish about how he wasn't going to be intimated by her. He had told her he didn't care how rich or powerful she thought she was now. It was the mention of powerful that cinched it. She was a damn good witch, and had no intention of letting some stupid fifth year use her to bolster his own reputation. His chest had been puffed up and he looked so bloody smug while talking, she really had no other option than to hex him. Suddenly the git was clutching his face, wailing in horror, crying like she had done much worse than some bat boogies.

Of course at that point the whole hall was looking on in curiosity. There was no way to hide what she had done. And so she had gotten a detention.

Her appetite gone, Ginny left the Great Hall and headed to the tower. Part of her wanted to simply get out her wand and start blasting things. But the last thing she needed was to get in more trouble. So instead, she made do with sitting on her bed, furiously writing a letter. This had been an awful day from start to finish and she needed to vent. Her quill was still scratching away when she heard the door to her room open.

"Don't tell me you're writing to him!" Too irritated to bother with being polite, Ginny didn't even look up from her letter. "Mind your own business Lizzie."

She was shocked when suddenly the quill was ripped out of her hand. Lizzie stood there, holding her quill, scowling terribly at her. "So it's true then? You're hoping that by complaining to him you'll what? Get out of detention?" Had Lizzie gone crazy?

"What? No, of course not! That doesn't even make sense." What was everyone's problem? So what if Draco and his family had money? They were still just people. He had absolutely no influence at Hogwarts. She had every right to complain to him, just like any other person with a boyfriend or fiancé would. It didn't mean that she was entitled or trying to get special treatment.

"Well why are you writing to him then?" Ginny couldn't believe she really needed to explain this. Shouldn't it be obvious? "Same reason you write to your parents weekly. Because I want to tell things to a person who I know loves me."

Lizzie made a face, and Ginny took a deep breath, trying to keep herself from flying off the handle again. "Yes, Lizzie. I love him and he loves me. Sorry to burst your little delusion." Ginny suddenly had a very strong suspicion that Lizzie had seen the note being passed around earlier and had made no attempt to defend her. That very possibly, Lizzie agreed with what the note implied. Ginny watched as a flash of panic overtook her roommate, and that was the last straw.

Hermione slammed open the door with her wand held in front of her, having heard the screams and crashes from the common room. In her astonishment, she blurted out the first thing that came to mind. "Fifty points for destruction of school property and excessive violence against another student!" Ginny immediately lowered her wand, and gaped at her friend. "Fifty!"

The room was an absolute mess. The canopy of Ginny's bed had collapsed, the bed posts having been snapped. Antigone's trunk had been upended, spilling all its contents out onto the floor. Her own wardrobe had been shoved across the room and had scorch marks on it. And most importantly, Ginny was sprouting thick patches of fur all over her body while Lizzie was on the floor crying, her body littered with small cuts.

"See that I don't make it an even hundred! Now what happened?" Hermione tried to listen carefully as Ginny and Lizzie interrupted each other, each giving her parts of the story. It seemed that there had been some sort of disagreement, and thinking that Ginny was going to attack, Lizzie had snapped the bedposts, causing the canopy of the bed to collapse on Ginny. Having escaped the canopy, Ginny had emerged, rather upset, and tried to hex Lizzie. Lizzie had summoned Hermione's wardrobe over to hide behind, and Ginny's spell had hit the furniture instead. From there, they had dodged around the room, furniture being hit more often than not. Until finally their hexes hit. Ginny's had been some sort of whirlwind spell that Hermione had never heard of, and Lizzie had hexed her to grow fur.

"But she's the one who started it 'Mione! She called me a niffler!"

"I did not!"

"Really? So when you saw the note this morning, you denied it did you?"

"I didn't draw it!"

"But you didn't disagree!"

Hermione felt completely lost. A niffler? What was Ginny talking about? Ginny seemed to understand Hermione's confusion. For in the next moment, Ginny had riffled through her satchel, and tossed the parchment to Hermione. Hermione opened it and stared at it, still a bit mystified. It didn't say anything. It was a very good drawling of a niffler, but for the head. Where the niffler's face was supposed to be, was Ginny's. Whoever did this was an excellent artist.

"Was this what you took from Greengrass in Potions?" Ginny nodded, her face red with anger and embarrassment. Hermione hated feeling like she didn't understand something. Of course being called any kind of animal was an insult, but why a niffler?

None of them seemed to know what to say. There was an awkward tension in the air, but none of them knew how to address it. Eventually, they all got out their wands and began to repair their room in silence. It wasn't until Lizzie had left that Hermione finally asked Ginny what was wrong. Ginny crossed her arms over her chest, but it looked more protective than defensive.

"I never thought people would think that about me 'Mione. But now that they do, I don't know how to prove them wrong." Hermione sat on the edge of her own bed and tried to think. Ginny was truly, deeply upset. More upset than Hermione had ever seen her. What were nifflers known for? Searching for and stealing shiny objects. Known as thieves by some. Oh. That's what was so upsetting. Ginny was being called a gold digger.

"Only an idiot would ever think you'd marry for money. As nauseating as it is to see, even Ron knows you love the prat. The way you two stand together...the small touches." Hermione trailed off, and Ginny gave a small smile. "Thanks."

"But as for everyone else? I don't know. You might just have to wait it out. Once you're married, you could prove it by eschewing his wealth. Live in an apartment. Only buy things with your own money." Ginny nodded, but made no comment. It wasn't often that Ginny wasn't in the mood to talk. It only made Hermione more worried. "Well then. Let's get you to the Hospital Wing. Madame Pomphrey will have that fur gone in no time."

Over the next couple of days, Hermione tried to keep an eye on Ginny. But if Ginny was still feeling down, she was hiding it very well. She went back to her normal, loud self and never mentioned the note again. She had cordial, if a bit distant, communication with Lizzie and actively avoided Astoria in classes. Eventually, Hermione concluded things had gone back to normal, and put all of her focus back on NEWTS and Head Girl duties. After all, she only had a few more months in school. She was determined to make the most out of every minute.

Ginny stared blankly at the revision schedule Hermione had handed her, letting her friend's words about studying wash over her. That Hermione was prattling on about NEWTS when they were on their way to Hogsmeade should have amused her. But instead, Ginny spent all of her energy trying to hide her nerves. She had gone over it again and again in her mind, and knew she needed to have a conversation with Draco over it. She also knew it was not going to go well.

"Ginny, are you even listening to me?"

Ginny blinked, and then smirked. "And encourage this madness? Of course not. You'll do brilliantly and get all 7 NEWTS, revision schedule or no. Now, if we were speaking about how we are going to sneak you out of Hogwarts so my brother can whisk you away on Valentine's…"

"Oh that. I told him to just go with someone from work." Ginny's mouth fell open in shock. Hermione's chin went up and her back went stiff. "It's the only sensible thing to do. Ronald said that Harry would only agree to ask that witch from the café to the Auror's party if Ron went too. And that he didn't want to be a third wheel because Harry really needed to …erm…get out there."

Ginny crossed her arms and slumped in her seat with a huff. She had long ago learned how to read through Hermione's heavily edited version of events. She knew for a fact Ron would have been thrilled to show off his girlfriend at his first work function. That Hermione had then likely told him what she told Ginny, that expecting her to break the rules and sneak out of school as well as shirk her patrolling duties was absurd, would have only hurt her brother tremendously. They had likely fought over it in a series of letters, and Ron had only agreed to take someone else in a pique of anger when Hermione suggested it.

The problem was that both Ron and Hermione were so sensitive to criticism, that Ginny really didn't know how to help. Neither of them were likely to back down. Ginny was already resigning herself to having to comfort Hermione in a few weeks when Ron would inevitably follow through with her suggestion, and take a coworker. The carriage jolted to a stop, and Hermione sighed. "Malfoy's here isn't he?" At Ginny's nod Hermione's expression fell.

"I thought so. I'll see you tonight then I suppose." And then before Ginny could think of something to say, Hermione had left the carriage and was walking down the street. Of course. Ginny was such an idiot. Hermione had been going on about NEWTS to avoid the fact that Ron wasn't coming to see her. While she felt bad, she also couldn't help but be reluctant to chase after her friend. Ditching Draco to run after Hermione would not be a good start to a date where she was already planning to bring up an idea that she knew he was not going to like.

As it turned out, however, the idea of the date beginning well was already moot. Coming out of the carriage, she was completely unprepared for the look he shot her when she caught his eye. He turned around and wrapped up his conversation with Pucey, while Ginny scrambled to think. Surely he couldn't already know what she was planning to say. She hadn't made mention of it in any of her letters. Or at least she didn't think she had. She didn't have long to wonder what she had done to irk him. Very quickly, he had strode over to her, grabbed her arm, and led her through the crowd, away from the shops. His grip on her was tight. She kept quiet though and let him lead, willing to wait until they were in a more private area. Once out of sight of her classmates though, she yanked her arm back, and used her other hand to shove him away.

"What in Merlin's name do you think you're doing!" He let go of her but remained incredibly close, his eyes gleaming with malice. He was towering over her, intimidating her with his presence. "No. The question is what the bloody hell have you been doing? My father was to be inducted back onto the Board of Governors this coming Monday. Yesterday he was informed it would be postponed pending further discussion. Imagine his outrage when after a bit of investigating, he found the cause to be a letter. A letter from some idiot muggleborn that would have been easily dismissed if not for the inclusion of his future daughter-in-law's signature."

Ginny paled. And then her indignation rose up. "Who showed your father that letter? That is completely unethical!" Draco's hand came around to hold the back of her neck and squeeze. She could feel from the tension in his fingers that he was trying very hard not to hurt her more seriously. "You are going to write a letter immediately, explaining that your signature must have been forged by someone who is jealous of your upcoming inclusion into the Malfoy family and that you have nothing but support for my father's induction onto the Board."

Ginny's eyes narrowed and she thought of twisting her neck to escape his grip, before deciding she didn't need to. To do so would only make him think she was scared of him. Which she was not. Instead, she stayed perfectly still and looked right at him. "I will do no such thing. The last thing your father needs is a position of power. He does nothing but use it for his own malicious purposes."

"What the fuck are you talking about!"

"He tried to have Dumbledore fired!"

"Students were being petrified! The school wasn't safe and he was obviously incapable of protecting us. Dumbledore never had safety as a priority and you know it!"

"What should he have done, Draco? Kill me? I was the one letting out the Basalisk if you remember!"

"Gin! If one day we have a child. You're saying you would be fine if our twelve year old was at Hogwarts while his classmates are ending up hospitalized?"

"Danger is a part of life!"

At some point his hand had dropped from her neck and he had fisted them at his sides. "You are completely mad if you think I would ever allow you or our children to endanger themselves."

"Allow?" Ginny nearly sneered the word.

"Yes, fucking allow!" Ginny couldn't help it. A thrill ran through her. But being turned on was no reason to lose a fight.

"You can't tell me what to do." He didn't respond. Instead, he raised an eyebrow and just looked at her. Ginny felt herself get warm. They both knew what she had just said wasn't exactly true. Yes, technically he might not be able to force her to do what he said. But it would be a pretty miserable marriage if she was going to insist on disobeying him. He was going to be her husband and he had every right to expect her to listen to what he said.

"Alright, fine. You can be an overprotective idiot if you want and I'll try not to give you a heart attack."

"Idiot, huh?" Ginny let out a breath at the change in his tone, and grinned. "Maybe." His arm went around her waist and yanked her into him. She hugged back, burying her face in the crook of his neck, beaming as she felt him kiss the top of her head. "You are going to drive me insane witch. Now, where should we go? It's freezing out here."

And with that, her nerves were back. She had almost forgotten. "Err…I actually had something I needed to talk to you about. Have you ever been to The Hog's Head?"

A quarter of an hour later found Ginny sitting across from Draco in a wooden booth, his face just as indignant as she had feared.

"An apartment?" Ginny bit her lip as Draco stared at her, completely scandalized.

"Yeah? For the first few years at least. Until I'm making enough money for it to seem reasonable that we can buy a house."

She had thought about how to approach this topic, and decided housing was the best way to go. Still, she had waited until he had ordered them drinks, hoping to get him relaxed and maybe even a bit tipsy. That hadn't quite gone to plan. Neither mug had been touched, or was likely to be. Draco had taken one look at the drinks after they had been slammed down in front of them, and promptly shoved the mugs away to the edge of the table with a look of disgust.

"What the hell are you talking about? We're not living in some hole. If you're worried about having too big of a place to take care of without a house elf, I told you we could get a smaller place with a lot of land. Do renovations or add on to it later. Do you know how many abandoned country homes there are?" Ginny did know, and honestly, she was still shocked that Draco was on board with renovating one. She had never imagined he would be willing to buy a place that was run down, but apparently, he had no issues with it. The enormous expense of repairing and maintaining an older home didn't bother him. He liked that there would be history to the place, and that most of the places had acres of land attached to them.

"Draco, how is anyone going to believe I can afford a place in the country? Especially the places you've been looking at. It's thousands of galleons for any of them." His eyes narrowed and when he spoke, it was biting. "What do you mean you can afford?" She had expected this. Honestly, his reaction wasn't as bad as she had feared. Even so, she was rather glad they had a table between them at the moment. He looked ready to hex someone. "Did somebody tell you that I would hoard my money from you? That I'd force you to pay for things? Was it that idiot Thomas?"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "No, and leave Dean out of this. I just can't have anyone thinking that I'm using you for money. I'll get my own job. A really well paying one. And then if we live simply…"

"You have lost your mind. We are not going to pretend we're poor. We are getting married. My money is your money. End of. Anyone who has a problem with that can fuck off."

"But-"

Draco cut her off before she even had a chance to speak. He was sneering. "And as for you getting a job, that is absolutely not happening."

Ginny gripped the edge of the bench she was sitting on, trying to maintain control. "Excuse you? I will absolutely get a job if that is what I want."

She grit her teeth as he stared at her and then rolled his eyes. "Merlin Gin, calm down. You look like a tomato. I didn't mean Quidditch you daft bint. There's no harm in having a hobby. I meant a real job. Do you know how embarrassing it would be to have people think we needed you to work for money? That I couldn't provide for us?"

Ginny knew what she was going to say would only make the fight worse. That this was not going to solve anything. But she said it anyway. "This isn't about you, you git! This is about me! I have my own reputation to worry about! I am not going to be known as some niffler. And while we're at it, I am not going to be known as some toady of your father either! You want me to write a redaction of my support against his appointment? You're going to have to imperio me to get it!"

His expression turned icy, but Ginny didn't care. She was just as mad at him in that moment. "Get up." He had nearly hissed it at her. Feeling defiant, she crossed her arms and stayed firmly in her seat. His jaw clenched, and then he strode quickly over to the bar and had a quick exchange with the wizard there. Ginny had no idea what he was doing, and she didn't care. Or at least she thought she didn't.

But as he turned around and walked back to her, she found herself unexpectedly scared. She didn't want to be scared of him. She knew she shouldn't be. But she had no idea what was going through his head. "Come with me. We're moving this upstairs." Her heart was beating quickly. He had rented a room for them. Why? She certainly was in no mood to get in bed with him. He extended his hand, palm up, and Ginny's gaze darted from his hand to his face. And her heart slowed down. It didn't matter what was going through his head. He wasn't going to hurt her. She was being ridiculous.

Still, she shunned his offered hand and brushed past him, heading across the pub and up the stairs on her own. She could feel his annoyance from behind her. Well good. The hallway upstairs made the pub downstairs look almost decent. The hall was originally wood, but had since turned nearly black. The walls were stained and greasy. Only one of the four oil lamps seemed to work, providing just enough light to illuminate the cobwebs and dead bugs. She watched Draco's disgust as he took it all in, and nearly laughed when he took out his wand to levitate the key into the door lock, unwilling to touch anything in this place.

She went in as soon as the door opened, only to immediately regret it. The section of the floor she was standing on was sticky, and the air smelled of burnt cinders. She and Draco shared a look, but then much to her surprise, he sighed and used his wand to shut the door. "You mean you really want us to stay in here?"

"It's secure. These rooms all have protection from eavesdroppers. Same charms as some places in Knockturn Alley." Ginny just stared at him. "Eavesdroppers? We were practically the only people down there. Who do you think would come here that would be interested in a fight between some teenagers?"

Ginny saw his frustration, but still did not understand what was going on. "You can't…you can't tell anyone this. But my father getting back onto the Governor's Board. It's not what you think. He's not doing it to cause waves. He won't be trying to sack anyone or get anything changed really. It's just a way to show that he's redeemed himself and is back in favour with some people. Back when he resigned…he actually got kicked off. He might have gone too far and threatened to curse the other Board members' families if they didn't agree to fire Dumbledore. It wasn't a particularly smart thing to do looking back. He never really meant it. He just got carried away. Anyway, he's been working to repair those relationships for years and he might have used you joining the family as a way to convince people that he's changed. So your support is actually very necessary."

Ginny didn't know if she had ever been so indignant. It was all making a terrible, horrible type of sense now. Lucius had always been suspiciously supportive of their relationship. It was because he knew he'd be able to use it to his advantage. And he had been using her. Without her even knowing about it. She wanted to curse him. To shout at him. But he wasn't here. Draco was. "That absolute bastard! I can't believe he's been insinuating I do anything but loathe him. Him and his politics. I know he's your father. I'm not asking for you to get involved. Support him if you have to. But I will not."

"Gin, you know you don't get to do that. Just decide what you are and aren't going to do. I get a say in this too and-."

"No you don't Draco! You told me what is going on and I don't support it!"

"What the fuck do you think a wife does then, if not support her husband?"

"Oh shove off! This isn't about that! This isn't about you!"

"Yes it bloody well is! How do I know you won't sign some letter railing against me next?"

"Are you mental? Of course I wouldn't do that! If I don't like what you're doing, then I'll talk to you about it privately. I'm not an idiot! I won't make it some scandal for the public to stick their noses in."

"Really? You do realize that what you're doing now will cause a scandal, don't you?"

Ginny knew he had a point, but it was unfair. This whole thing was unfair. "So what? I'm no longer allowed to have thoughts of my own? I'm not allowed to disagree with you? You're just going to make all the decisions and I'll have to follow along like some sort of slave."

"Oi!" She ignored his outburst and kept talking. "I'll be seen and not heard. Never bother you or-"

"Damn it Ginny! Shut up! You're being an absolute pain in the arse. I don't know where the fuck all this self pity's come from but you know perfectly well what you're saying is a load of bullocks."

She knew she was pouting. She knew she was being dramatic. But she also felt like she had a valid point and he was dismissing it. He must have noticed how upset she was, because suddenly he groaned and ran his hands through his hair.

When he spoke next, she could tell he was trying to filter any anger out of his words. She appreciated it. "This isn't working. Us both being mad. So here; I won't yell if you won't yell. You'll tell me all your ridiculous opinions, I'll tell you my thoughts, and we'll figure it out together. Deal?"

And just like that, the tension and anger dissipated. She had an embarrassing urge to cry that she promptly squashed. "Really?" Draco sighed and then gave a brief smile. "What else did you think I'd say?"

In a fit of bravery and desperation to heal whatever rift had been between them, they got on the bed to cuddle after having cast it with the strongest scourgify they could muster. Ginny felt herself relax as she flung an arm over his torso and used his chest as a pillow. Together, they talked through how in the future, they would endorse or campaign against only people they could both agree on. That they would both be able to make their own friends and have their own connections, but wouldn't publically support something without the others' consent. As for Lucius, Draco promised to talk to his father about keeping Ginny's name out of his mouth, and Ginny agreed to stay publically neutral.

Together, they drafted Ginny's letter which would simply state that she hoped the Board of Governors would not put much weight to a letter of complaint written by students, and that her own signing of it might have been a hasty, ill-informed choice. That upon further reflection, she did not know enough to either support or protest whatever decision they made and would defer to their judgement on the matter completely.

As for the other issue, as Ginny explained to him how much it bothered her for people to think she cared about money, Draco broke in with asking her why. Why did this bother her when nearly nothing else did? He reminded her of how independent she normally was, not caring what people thought of her choices. And eventually, Ginny realized it had been mixed in with pride. She had spent so long finding pride in being poor, that she had at some point made it a part of her identity.

"Everyone knows I have money Gin. You insisting on not using it would only make them think I'm a cheap bastard who doesn't love you. You'd be making yourself miserable for no reason. The best revenge is simple; be happy and buy whatever the fuck you want."

"But that's just it Draco. Buying things just to spend money won't make me happy. Instead it will stress me out, thinking how much of a waste it is. I like repurposing things and having to get creative and making do and-."

She heard Draco groan overdramatically, and hit his chest playfully. He shifted positions so he could see her face, and then brought his hand up to caress her cheek. "Alright. How about this? We'll buy the house and land both of us agreed we have always wanted, and then I'll leave renovations up to you. You refurbish and decorate it however you want, however cheaply you want. Then further down the road, you can be in charge of daily expenses. Clothes, food, flowers for the yard, whatever. In return, you won't worry about how much I spend on entertainment. Trips, Quidditch tickets, whatever. And if I want to spoil you, you won't worry how much your present cost."

Ginny grinned at him. "Alright, we could give that a go." And then she used her elbows to lift herself up and snog him soundly. He pulled back after a minute, now just as flushed as she was. "Just, if you use second hand stuff, can you not tell me?" His expression was one of genuine concern, and Ginny laughed out loud before agreeing.

She could hardly believe that she had worried all of last week about talking to him. She should have known it would be okay. That a fight wouldn't mean a ruined day. Fights would happen. It was normal. The important thing was that they could work through them and move on.

Staring at him, a wave of affection crashed over her. "I love you." His eyes crinkled in amusement, and he kissed her again. "Good. Because you're stuck with me. You're my witch, and I love you too much to let you go. Even when you're screaming like a banshee and forcing me into these filthy places."

Ginny grimaced. "Yeah, it is pretty grimy. Ready to head back into the fresh air?"

He was quiet for a moment, and then began running his hand down her body. "You know, we've probably already been contaminated by anything on this bed. We might as well go for broke. What do you say? Should we get our money's worth?"

That night in the Great Hall, Ginny couldn't help but feel as if she was glowing. Sure, there might still be classmates that wanted to make her feel bad about herself and her classes might be stressful and overwhelming, but for the first time since being back from Break, she was truly happy. She only had five more months of this place, and then she would have a lifetime of being with Draco. She couldn't wait.