The Broken Road, Chapter 21 :: Happy Endings
"So what do you think?" Draco asked, finally relaxing in his seat. Pansy stared at him.
"I think that you're a complete pillock if you think that this is actually going to work," she said honestly, shaking her head. "The woman is put out with you, Draco. She's so angry that she won't even accept your owls, and you're going to propose marriage to her? That's just insanity."
"So what you're telling me is that you believe she will turn me down?" he asked, frowning.
"I don't believe it, darling, I know it."
"Why? What's your reasoning?"
"Are you serious?"
One look at his troubled countenance told Pansy everything she needed to know. She took a deep breath and adjusted herself in the hard, high-backed chair, trying to get comfortable.
"Okay, for starters, why do you even want to marry her? Is it just to keep her away from Potter, or is it just for the sex? Or could it possibly be for something more than either of those?"
"I don't know."
"All right, let's start simple. How do you feel about her reconciling with Potter? Is that something that you want to happen, or something that you'd rather prevent?"
"I don't want her back with Potter," he admitted, his slate eyes darkening.
"What do you mean, why? He's the biggest arse I've ever met in my entire life, not to mention that he cheated on her."
"So you don't think that he deserves her."
"I know he doesn't deserve her - and the thought of him even touching her makes me ill, so don't mention it again."
"Interesting," Pansy observed softly, studying his face. "Does that mean that you think you deserve her? And be honest, because I'll know if you're lying to me – and so will she."
"I never said that," he snapped, his cheeks coloring slightly. "But at least I haven't cheated on her."
"You've been together mere weeks, and she was married to him for years. What makes you think that you won't cheat eventually?"
"I have more sense than that. I know that cheating would jeopardize everything, especially since she's been through it once already."
"How do you know that Potter didn't go into their marriage the same way, thinking that he'd never cheat or do anything to risk losing her?" Draco glowered at her.
"I am not Potter," he ground out through clenched teeth. "I don't let my dick do my thinking for me."
"Is that why the two of you got together in the first place?" she asked, smirking. "Because you had a brilliant conversation?"
"You know damn well what caused our first encounter," he snarled. "So we shagged, and it started a chain reaction of more shagging. The sex is fucking fantastic – the best I've ever had."
"Is that what keeps you going back? Just the sex?"
"Yes!" When she simply stared at him, he relented. "At first."
"Look, I haven't told anyone this, but since you're pissing me off, I'll tell you just to make you shut up.. If you ever tell anyone else, ever, even your – even Longbottom," he spat. "Then I'll hex you to hell and back again."
"Ooh, this sounds interesting. All right, I won't tell."
"The day of my father's funeral-" His voice trailed off, and for the first time she could ever remember, he refused to meet her eyes.
"Oh," she breathed, realization dawning on her. "You went to see her, didn't you?"
"Yes," he said, shame and relief mingling in his voice. Shame that he'd been so weak as to need her that day, and relief that he hadn't actually had to say the words out loud for Pansy to understand what he'd been trying to tell her.
"I don't know."
"Come now, you must have a reason. Otherwise you would have just gone off alone somewhere."
"I needed…" He frowned. "I needed to be with someone that wouldn't pity me."
"And she didn't shag you out of pity?"
"I don't think she did."
"You don't know?"
"It's not like I asked her," he snapped. "We shagged, we slept together. That was it."
"And it made you feel better?"
"Yes." Then, "No."
"Well? Which one is it?"
"I felt better while I was with her. Release is good, and she didn't talk down to me or give me false sympathy. She … she …"
"She accepted you, flaws and all, and didn't say a word about why you were there," Pansy supplied. Draco frowned again.
"And the morning after, she still didn't say a word about the night before. It unnerved me."
"Well, that and the fact that you'd woken up next to someone else," she surmised.
"How the fuck are you doing that?"
"Have you suddenly learned Legilimency?"
"No, but thanks for telling me that I'm right," she smirked. His jaw worked back and forth angrily. "So you woke up next to someone for the first time in your life. How did it feel?"
"Not an unusual reaction. What was better, the sex, or the waking up and finding that she hadn't left you?"
"Why in the hell should that matter?"
"Just answer the question."
"It's very pertinent, I assure you. Didn't you feel the slightest bit happy when you woke up to her?"
"I was happier with the sex the night before," he said. She studied his face silently for a moment, contemplating.
"Is the sex really that important to you?"
"Don't be an imbecile," he snapped. "Of course the sex is important. It's what started this whole damned fiasco in the first place."
"Do you want children?"
"Do you think you'd be too repulsed by a swollen belly to touch her, if she became pregnant?"
"What a ludicrous question."
"It's an honest one. Answer it."
Draco sighed and tried to picture Ginny with a pregnant figure, her belly swollen with his child inside. Something about the thought made his chest swell and his limbs tingle, and he shook his head to try and rid himself of the image.
"No, I wouldn't be repulsed," he answered candidly. Pansy looked mildly surprised.
"All right. I think you may have a chance at this, but only if you tell her how you feel. How do you feel?"
"I did not bloody well come here to discuss my feelings with you!"
"That's all right, since you've pretty much already told me how you feel, anyway."
"I have not."
"Directly, no. But indirectly, you've made it abundantly clear."
"How is that, pray tell?"
"You're in love with her. Is it so hard to admit?"
"And if you want to marry her for any other reason, then I highly suggest that you go get stuffed."
"What?" he demanded.
"She's already been a part of one marriage that was one-sided. She doesn't need that again."
"What are you saying, exactly? That she loved him and he didn't love her?"
"Pretty much," she asserted, nodding. "She gave him everything she had when she was with him, and he just took and took without giving in return. If she gets into another permanent relationship like that, it would destroy her. So what I'm telling you is that if you don't love her and won't be totally committed to her, don't ask her to marry you."
"Are you trying to suggest that I'd be unfaithful to her? Because if you are, we've already covered-"
"The Malfoy men aren't necessarily known for their fidelity," she said, shrugging.
"I would never-"
"Now do you understand why she got so angry with you?"
"You suggested that she cheated on her husband. She got mad. Now you're getting angry with me because I've suggested that you might cheat on your future wife. Do you see now why she got so angry?"
"Why do you insist on turning things around on me, you infernal woman?"
"Because you've got to understand how things are now, before you become irrevocably tangled in them."
"You're speaking in riddles," he accused, taking a long drink of his water.
"I'm telling you the truth. Someone has to."
"So I should apologize to her for accusing her of infidelity, even though she's no longer married to the pillock?"
"That would be a good start, yes. Then if I were you, I'd tell her that I love her."
"How do you know how I feel about her?" he snapped, leaning forward slightly.
Pansy shook her head and gave him a secretive smile. Instead of answering his question, she replied, "I know that she loves you."
"Can't you tell?" He shook his head, and she sighed in exasperation. "She took you home to meet her parents, for Salazar's sake!"
"So? I took her to meet my mother before that. She only did it because I'd done it first."
"Do you even realize what it must have taken for her to take you over there, knowing how much animosity there's been between your family and hers? Surely you can't really be this thick!"
"I am not thick, thank you very much," he snapped.
"What I don't understand is why her family actually liked you," she mused.
"Being with you makes Ginny happy. She told her Mum that long before she took you home to meet her parents. They know that you make her happy for whatever reason, and that's all they need to know."
"So her parents approve of us, then?"
"Yes, poor things. Or they did, anyway, until they found out that you'd fought, and what you'd fought over."
"Fuck!" he hissed. "She told them? Why would she tell people what we fought about?"
"Everyone needs someone to talk to when they're upset, Draco. She talks to her Mum when she gets upset."
"So now her Mother probably hates me."
"I wouldn't say that. I'd say she's probably upset with you for upsetting her daughter. Hate is such a strong word. I'm sure that if the two of you made up, Molly would forget all about it."
"Molly?" he echoed, arching an eyebrow.
"It's her Mother's name."
"I know that – I was just wondering when you became so familiar with her that you felt comfortable calling her by her given name."
"Neville and Ginny are best friends, you twit. Doesn't it stand to reason that he visits there a lot?"
"Him, yes. You, not so much."
"I've been over there with him a few times."
"And you've managed to reach that level of familiarity with her already?"
"She's a very nice woman – very personable. It's hard not to like her."
"So I should tell Ginny how I feel," he said, changing the subject in order to avoid agreeing with her.
"Apologize, and then tell her how you feel. If you do that, you might have a chance in hell."
"Your enthusiasm and optimism are heartening," he said dryly.
"I'm a lot more optimistic that you're going to have the door slammed in your face – if you even manage to get it open in the first place," she said, smiling. "But I don't think that that will stop you from trying, if you've decided that she's really what you want."
"Do you have any suggestions on how to get the door open?"
"I might be able to help you with that, if nothing else," she said, nodding. "Although you realize that this is something you're going to have to do face to face."
"Just get me in the door. I know what to do from there."
"It's a really nice offer, but no thanks," Ginny said, smiling sweetly. Pansy arched an eyebrow.
"Are you going to let Draco do this to you?"
"Turn you into a shut-in for fear of running into him."
"Draco hasn't done anything of the sort," Ginny said defensively. "I'm just tired, is all."
"Just like you've been tired every night this week?" Pansy accused.
"You haven't pushed this hard before," Ginny said, frowning. "What are you up to?"
"I object to the insinuation that I have an agenda."
"You do have an agenda," Ginny laughed. "Always. There's a reason behind everything you do."
"That speaks very highly of my character, I should think," Pansy said, sniffing. "I never do anything without purpose, which is more than most people can say for themselves."
"So what's your purpose tonight?"
"To go out and dance and have fun before I'm tied down to the flat with a screaming brat to take care of."
Ginny laughed in surprise. "You shouldn't talk about your baby like that – I'm going to tell him you said that, when he gets old enough not to be scarred by the knowledge."
"He?" Pansy repeated, frowning. "And where on earth did you get the ridiculous idea that the baby is a boy? Have you been talking to Neville again?"
"He's convinced me," Ginny agreed.
"Nonsense. My womb is too intelligent to allow me to give birth to a male."
"What's wrong with having a son?"
"There's nothing wrong with it, per se. But I am having a girl. End of argument."
"All right," Ginny said, holding her hands up in surrender. "The baby is a girl."
"Now that you're starting to sound sensible, get your dancing shoes on and get ready. I'll swing by there in about fifteen minutes, so don't take too long primping." With a flash, Pansy's head disappeared from the fireplace, and Ginny laughed. Pansy was determined, if nothing else. She had to give her credit for that.
There was no use in arguing with the woman, and Ginny knew it. She moved into the bedroom and sorted through her closet, looking for something that would be comfortable to dance in, but would also be just daring enough to get her noticed. She finally decided on a short emerald green dress, barely long enough to reach mid-thigh.
She hadn't been bold enough to wear it yet, but now seemed as good a time as any – especially if she was going to be in a darkened club.
She pulled her jeans and jumper off and slipped the dress over her head. It was a bit snug and revealed a good bit of pale cleavage, but she had to admit that it made her legs look longer. That was never a bad thing. She brushed her hair and used her wand to charm it into a loose knot at the back of her head. She had just slipped on her green heels when she heard the pop of Pansy's arrival.
"I'll be right out, Pansy." She took one last look at herself in the mirror before heading out into the living room. Pansy was wearing a stunning violent purple dress that made Ginny feel as though she'd been too modest in choosing her own clothes.
"Grab hold of me; I'm going to apparate us both there." Ginny nodded and wrapped her right arm around Pansy's left. When the dizziness had faded and her head had stopped spinning, Ginny glanced around. She was painfully aware of the loud, thumping music and the smoky air. She released her grip on Pansy and coughed.
"Sorry about the smoke," Pansy yelled over the din. "There's a private room in the back that's strictly smoke-free. Come on." She pulled Ginny behind her as she wove through the throngs of dancing people, only stopping when she reached a blood red door. "In here."
Ginny stepped inside, freezing when she looked around. The room was filled with the warm glow of several lit candles. In one corner was a small bar, and a large velvet-covered sofa stretched across two walls.
In the middle of the sofa was Draco Malfoy.
Ginny tried to turn and push her way back out of the room, but the door had been closed behind her, and she didn't know how to open it. There was no knob to turn and no bar to push, and she could only imagine what spells were guarding this room if it belonged to him.
She sucked in a deep breath and turned back to him. I'm going to kill you when I get out of here, Pansy Parkinson! Once a Slytherin, always a Slytherin. Though his body language exuded confidence and a relaxed air, she could see the intense look in his eyes as he studied her.
"Let me out."
"Draco, I'm warning you-"
"We have some things to discuss, and it's going to take a while. Why don't you have a seat?"
"Next to you?" She snorted. She folded her arms across her chest. "Not bloody likely."
"You're going to tire of standing," he pointed out calmly, letting his eyes drop to the floor. "Especially if you plan on keeping those on."
She felt the warm flush of her skin as his eyes traveled upward from her feet, and tried to fight it down. Why was it that every time she got near him, all she could think about was being in bed with him?
"Fine," she said, sitting on the furthermost edge of the sofa. "Let's get this over with so I can go and hurt your best friend."
"So anxious to get away from me, aren't you?"
"I have good reason to be," she said, crossing her legs. She suppressed the shudder that rose as he eyed her legs for the second time.
"I'm sorry." She turned to look at him, her eyes wide with surprise.
"You're sorry? For what?"
"For accusing you of sleeping with someone other than your husband," he said, the words leaving him in a rush of air. She bit her bottom lip in thought. She hadn't counted on him apologizing for anything – ever. Hearing him say that he was sorry turned the tables on her.
"You say you're sorry, and you just expect everything to be the way it was?" she asked softly. He frowned.
"Does it not help?"
"It helps, but it doesn't make everything better," she explained, glancing away from him. "You hurt me."
"I know, and I'm sorry."
Her eyes snapped back to meet his, and her breath caught in her throat as he rose from his spot on the sofa and sat down so close to her that their knees were touching.
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because I want to fix things between us."
"You don't have to do this anymore. Your plan worked, and Harry is sufficiently jealous of you now."
"Merlin's fucking beard, Ginny!" he swore, rubbing his face with his hands. When he dropped his hands, she was studying him intently. "Why do you just assume that that's why I continue on with you?"
"Because you've never told me anything different," she said reasonably. "And I'm not stupid enough to believe that you'd ever allow yourself to care for me."
"When did you decide that I was incapable of making my own decisions about how I feel?" he asked, his words clipped.
"I just thought that-"
"Yes, well – you thought wrong."
"So what are you trying to tell me? That there's another reason that you continue to see me?"
"There are a great many more reasons why I continue to see you," he drawled. "But I will get into those at a later time – suffice it to say that I enjoy your company."
"In the bedroom," she snorted, rolling her eyes.
"Damn it, woman, will you shut up, or do I have to shut you up myself?"
"I think you should shut up, since I've heard all of this bef-" She was cut off when his mouth covered hers. At first the kiss was insistent and searching – but before her head could stop reeling from the contact, the kiss turned slow and soft.
His tongue plundered her mouth, mapping out every surface it could reach. Her heart was in her throat as his palms cupped her cheeks, holding her in place – not that she would have moved even if he hadn't been holding her. When his thumbs gently caressed her cheekbones, she began to tremble.
When he didn't show any signs of stopping, Ginny forced herself to pull away gently. She was somewhat relieved to notice that she wasn't the only one struggling for breath; Draco's chest was heaving slightly with the extra effort.
"Draco, I don't think-"
"I love you," he blurted, blanching as soon as the words had escaped his lips. The dizziness returned, and when she opened her mouth to say something, only a tiny squeak came forth.
"I want you to stop saying that I'm only continuing this affair because I want to get back at Potter," he ordered, his confidence returning with a vengeance. She hadn't left after he'd said it, and she hadn't laughed him into oblivion, so he was fairly certain that he was on steady ground. "Like I told him, it's only a fringe benefit of seeing you."
Ginny squeaked again.
"And before you jump to conclusions, I'm not telling you just to get you back into my bed, either, since I could do that without telling you how I feel." His smirk made it harder to breathe, and although her brain registered that he'd said something vaguely asinine, she couldn't for the life of her pin down what it was. She was still struck dumb from his profession, and it was clouding her ability to think clearly.
It was only after he'd been silent for a few moments that she realized he was watching her, and waiting for a response.
"W-what?" she stammered.
"Didn't you hear what I just said?"
"You're not telling me to get me back into your bed," she repeated breathily.
"Is that all you heard?" When she nodded, he swore under his breath. "I've just asked you to marry me, and you're not even paying attention!"
"Marry you?" She could feel her eyes widening to what she was sure were comic proportions.
"Yes." He gestured to the black velvet box that was extended towards her, and she took it with shaking hands. She fumbled for a moment with the lid, unable to get the box open due to clumsy fingers. When she finally managed to open it, one hand flew to cover her mouth.
Inside was a platinum band with one very large diamond in the center, flanked by a smaller diamond on either side. She lifted her eyes to his.
"Of course I'm serious," he said, fighting not to roll his eyes. "I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't completely certain."
"I can't." She held the box out to him, and he frowned.
"Why in the hell not?"
"You don't know me well enough to love me, let alone marry me."
"You don't know me, and you love me." The color rose high in her cheeks, and he knew that he was right. "So what's the difference?"
"The difference is that I wouldn't get tired of you, whereas you're sure to tire of me."
"What gives you that ridiculous idea?"
"You've never kept any woman around for very long," she observed, her eyes falling to the sparkling gems on the ring. "And I won't tolerate you making a cuckold of me after you've grown tired of me."
"Oh, for fuck's sake," he said angrily. "Why does everyone just assume that I'm going to be unfaithful? Would it make you feel better if we had the old binding spells performed at the wedding?"
"Those spells haven't been used in ages, and they're permanent, Draco. Permanent. If you cheated on me, the spells would have no mercy."
"Don't you think I'm familiar with the consequences? If it's the only way to prove that I'm serious, then so be it."
"I'm not sure I'm ready for marriage again so soon. Harry and I have only been divorced for-"
"Six weeks, three days, and eleven hours," he supplied, looking bored. She blinked in surprise. "And that was enough time for you to fall madly in love with me."
"You're just really sure of yourself, aren't you?"
"I'm being practical. You love me, the sentiment is returned, and I've asked you to marry me. Now say yes already, so we can start shagging and you can have the family you want so much."
"As if we needed a reason to spend more time in the bedroom," she said softly, looking at him through half-lidded eyes. His mouth opened in surprise.
"Are you – have you come to your senses, then?"
"No; I'm quite out of my mind. I'm sure of it, because I'm saying yes, and I'd have to be round the twist for saying it."
"It's about damned time," he asserted, plucking the ring from the box and holding it up. She extended the fingers of her left hand, and he slid it onto her ring finger. She was only able to admire it for a moment before he crushed her to him and claimed her mouth with his.
On the other side of the door, Pansy removed the Extendable ear she'd been using and walked away, smiling from ear to ear.