BOTH SIDES NOW
Disclaimer: Anything you recognise is not mine...
I'd sell my soul
I'd bleed myself dry
Just to be with you.
Nobody else for me but you.
Ginny should have seen it coming. She knew what kind of a man he was. He never implied that he had changed, never said he regretted all those things he did during the War. He never alluded to being different from the man he had always been. He had never bothered to give the impression that he was redeemable, never promised her that he was not being double faced.
She had been aware of all that during the time they were together, and yet she had let herself fall for him, tumbling down from the cliff's edge till she hit the rough jagged rocks below.
And now, there was nothing.
She felt as if she was fading away, with no purpose to her existence, no anchor holding her down to earth. She felt completely disconnected from everything and everyone around her. She would sit at the dining table with the rest of her family at The Burrow and everything they talked about went right over her head. She did not care to listen or to talk to them.
After a while, she stopped going over to The Burrow, growing more and more distant from her family and friends who were not able to empathize with her since they had no idea why she really quit her job and why her demeanor was unnaturally quiet and woeful of late.
All they did was give advice on how she could get herself out this slump, how she could get past this, whatever it was.
When her savings began to run low, she decided to get a job working in Flourish and Blotts as a sales assistant, turning down her brothers' offer to work for them at their shop. She preferred working in the cloak of anonymity rather than surrounded by the boisterous, cheerful company of her brothers, and her family and friends who would constantly be dropping in.
She shunned company, kept to herself, worked industriously at Flourish and Botts, which pleased her employer and went home immediately after she was done or after picking up some groceries.
She ate little, her normally healthy appetite diminished because whatever she ate tasted like ashes in her mouth. It was as if she were a house that had been burnt down by a fire and all that was left were ashes, in her mouth and in the place where her heart used to be.
There were days when all she could think about was how Malfoy had made her believe that he wanted her, when all he had really wanted was to gain his freedom, even if it was at her expense. Then she would burn up with a silent rage, lying awake for hours, fatigued by the bitterness coursing through her.
Then they were days when the memory of Draco moving inside of her, all those countless times they had fornicated, made her want to rip her insides out.
Other times she could not help herself from recollecting anymore than she could stop herself from breathing - the way they used to argue because he wanted to sleep with the windows open and she liked to keep her room warm, the way he used to bring three or four pieces of his favorite literature along with him every time he came over and spent the time interspersed with snogging and shagging, reading aloud to her because he always believed books and bed combined were a potent aphrodisiac.
Those memories made her ache for him, which caused her to despise herself even more.
There were times when she would think about how she herself, in a way, had been double faced by continuing the Malfoy investigations all that time she had been with Draco – this thought only served to fill her with confusion and despair.
At times like that, Ginny often wondered if death would be the only real escape from this turmoil.
Draco had asked her a riddle once: if a frog fell down a fifty-foot wall and had to climb his way out, making three feet of progress every day but slipping two feet every night, in how many days would he escape?
Ginny's answer, which happened to be the correct answer according to Draco, was that it took the frog forty-eight days. The trick was realizing that the frog climbed one foot per day after all that was said and done but on the forty-eighth day he climbed three feet and reached the top of the well before he could slide back down again.
Now, however, she believed that the frog never escaped, because a frog that falls fifty feet just does not get back up.
The thing people liked to believe was that time was a great healer. But an entire year later, Ginny felt as if a century had passed. She was not even close to thirty and she already felt like an old woman.
Imagine, Draco had said to her once, that the present was simply a reflection of the future. Imagine that we spent our whole lives staring into a mirror with the future at our backs, seeing it only in the reflection of what was here and now. Some of us would begin to believe that we could see tomorrow better by turning around to look at it directly. But those who did, without even realizing it, would have lost the key to the perspective they once had - the one thing they would never be able to see in their future was themselves.
Now that she thought about it, she realized she was facing the wrong way. This whole year she had been determined to get on with her life by moving on, forgetting the past, looking forward but to little avail because in the end, it was a blind way to face life, a stance that allowed the world to pass you by, just as you tried to come to grips with it.
Thus, maybe, she had already made her decision before receiving the package. Exactly one year, two months and three weeks ever since she resigned as an Auror, she quit her job at Flourish and Blotts. When she got back to her flat, after a heavy meal at Cauldron's Inn and a long meandering walk, the package was waiting outside her flat, leaning against the door.
It was a long brown tube, so unexpectedly light; she thought it might be empty. She stood in the landing outside her flat and cracked the tube open; curiosity getting the better of her, hoping it was not one of her brothers' silly products from their shop.
In the glow of the light from her wand, the barrel seemed hollow. Only when she stuck her finger inside, did she feel something thin curled around the circumference. She pulled it out – it was an oil painting. She rolled it open and then gasped, dropping it on the floor, her fingers trembling and suddenly slick with sweat.
It was the seventeenth century Vermeer painting she had admired in the Malfoy Manor library, the one with girl writing a letter.
As she picked up the canvas from the ground, the elegant, luxuriantly clothed girl in the painting smiled at her with that gentle, guarded smile of hers.
It was obviously the original piece and Ginny knew that there was only one person who owned the original – Draco Malfoy.
She apparated into her house and laid it on the table in the living room, as her hands were too unsteady to hold it. She reached into the tube again, looking for something she had missed.
There was a piece of parchment. She pulled it out and unfurled it, feeling the return of her pulse, the drumming in her ears. The note read:
I had to do what had to be done. I value my freedom above all else – that is the reason why even though I can, I will never be the next Dark Lord.
I am in Florence, Italy. Just ask anyone here where the Malfoy Villa is and they will know.
We gave each other what we never expected to find. That's why.
No 'I am sorry'; no 'I love you'. Just plain honesty – that was what had drawn Ginny to him.
We gave each other what we never expected to find, she read the words again, and wondered how he understood even when she did not.
She was fighting the sensation that she had a single chance, an opportunity that could bleed into nothing if she turned her back on it.
It was at that precise moment, Ginny understood that no matter how much she tried to remind herself of how Malfoy had deceived her, no matter how much she did to move on with her life, even if she got married to someone else and had half a dozen children of her own, a part of her would always belong to Malfoy.
Ginny realized that not only did love not have a conscience; it was wholly prideless and senseless as well.
For here she was, all this while incapable of forgiving Draco for what he had done to her, but now absolutely ready to choose the path that led right back into his arms just because she could not imagine her life without him, despite how flawed and unredeemable he was.
It was pathetic really to even contemplate such a ridiculous notion – going back to Draco, but Ginny could think of nothing else she would want more. His words, his invitation, this gesture itself, were like milk on the wounds in her heart, soothing her hurt.
That was what love did. It shrank the most burdensome of grudges to a trivial speck, it whispered forgiveness in its every breath, it made a brutal betrayal seem like just another sacrifice to be made in order to take the path of eternal love, however limited in scope eternity might be.
There would be bags to pack and people to notify about her whereabouts.
Even as she began to realize the magnitude of what she was doing, her heart, like a bird in a cage was already ruffling its wings with the ache of anticipation.
And somewhere in the city of rebirth, where there were pigeons cooing on rooftops, cathedral bells tolling and the Duomo looming in the distance, Draco was sitting in the patio of his villa, sipping his favorite elf-wine, waiting and thinking about what Ginny had said to him the last night they were together, how some things were just meant to be.
And there they were, sitting in their seats, continents apart, thinking the same thought at the same time, inherently together.