"Ow!" an irritated cry of protest and pain broke the silence.
"Oh, come off it!" was the reply he was given.
"Now look here, Potter: I'm an injured man, and I can't have you shoving passed me as if I wasn't nearly beaten to death recently!"
Ginny smiled as she listened to the two bicker; much had changed concerning Draco Malfoy, but Ginny figured his relationship with Harry would always be the same: constant fighting.
"Harry! Draco! Quit that bickering now!" they must not have taken her seriously the first time she scolded them, because Mrs. Weasley kept on, her voice growing louder and firmer. "I'm telling you! I want peace in this house, and if you two wake up Mrs. Black I'm going to be in a right state!"
As if on cue, the portrait of Mrs. Black snapped awake and started screaming.
"Now look what you've done! Your rooms, the both of you!"
"FILTHY MUDBLOODS AND BLOOD-TRAITORS! NEVER IN MY DAY--"
Draco and Harry's terrified eyes met once before they spat out a quick, "Yes, ma'am!" and bolted to their rooms.
"YOU SET FOOT IN THE HOUSE OF MY FATHERS! HOW DARE YOU! YOU SHOULD ALL BE--"
"Oh, shut up, you old hag!" Molly Weasley screeched as she yanked the curtains back over the portrait. She turned to her daughter, chest heaving and eyes looking positively fierce.
Ginny was agape. She had seen her mother at her worst (thanks to Fred and George) and never did Ginny see her throw a fit such as that. "Mum," she managed out.
"Ginny dear, would you go put on some water? I think I'll have a nice tea."
"Erm--sure. Right," Ginny spun around and walked to the kitchen quickly. What in Merlin's name had just gotten into her mother? Was she so stressed about their current situation that she finally went completely batty?
Ginny was putting the kettle on the stove when her mother walked in and sat down at the table. When Ginny looked over, she saw only a mess of red hair, her face in her hands. Ginny wasn't sure if she was crying or if it was simply exhaustion.
"Mum?" she walked over slowly and sank into the chair across from her mother. "Are you alright?"
Molly brought a tear-streaked face out of her hands and smiled at her daughter. "Fine, dear, just fine. Everything's just kind of catching up with me, you know."
"There's something else, isn't there?"
"What?" it was obvious that Ginny didn't get her I-have-no-idea-what-you're-talking-about act from her mother; she was simply terrible at lying.
"Mum, what is it?"
Molly Weasley sniffed and locked eyes with her daughter.
You can tell me anything. It was the first time Ginny intruded into her mother's mind, and the woman started visibly.
She sniffed again and sighed. "You've grown up far too quickly," she accused her daughter. The tea kettle whistled, signaling tea-time, and Ginny promptly stood and retrieved two cups for them. "Haven't heard from Percy lately, is all," she finally spoke when her daughter's back was turned to her. Ginny continued her tea-making silently. "I mean we've been at odds for awhile--you know that-but he usually checks in at least, to let me know hes still--" Molly's voice died and Ginny placed a reassuring hand on her mother's shoulder as she set her tea in front of her.
"He's fine, mum. You know Percy--he's just--" Ginny didn't really know how to finish, "being Percy."
"Tea?" a voice questioned from the entryway of the kitchen. Ginny glanced over to Lucius Malfoy; it had been her idea to let him out of his room, since he had seemed amiable enough in the past week. He had listened to and accepted Draco's apology after he had been released from St. Mungo's. In truth, Draco had told her, that might have been the easiest conversation Ive ever had with him. I think I have you to thank for that.
She gave him a small smile and nodded to the table, indicating he should sit. "Yeah, here," she pushed her own untouched cup towards an empty chair and left her mother's side to make another cup for herself. Molly Weasley cleared her throat and composed herself as their long-sworn enemy took a seat across from her. Not having much to say to him she gulped down her scalding tea silently and excused herself, thanking Ginny.
Ginny replaced her mother's body in the chair across from Lucius, pulling the sugar cup towards her and adding a few spoons to her Earl Grey. She was stirring the sugar in when she realized that her company was staring at her. "What?" Ginny questioned self-consciously.
Lucius Malfoy looked about them, ensuring their privacy before he leaned over the table and spoke softly. "I may know something about your brother," he informed her.
Ginny felt her heart plunge into her stomach icily. No, no, no, Merlin please no--
"Calm down," he bit out, obviously annoyed with her presence in his head (she was really going to have to get her emotions under control). "He's not dead. Quite the opposite actually. Shortly after you left the Dark Lord requested his presence. He wanted something that would entice you back to us."
Ginny's mouth was so dry she couldn't speak, so she took a sip of her tea. It washed down her throat hotly, but her mouth remained dry and unusable. "He's--okay?" she finally choked out. She felt like she was on the edge of a panic attack. A big panic attack. That monster had her brother. How could she not have seen that coming?
Lucius scoffed. "He's finally getting everything he wants; Power, recognition, respect..."
Ginny's hands clenched her tea cup as he spoke. She gritted her teeth and took a deep breath through her nose. "He's going to join?"
"It would seem that way," Lucius nodded, sipping at his own tea.
"I can't let that happen," Ginny stated lowly, glaring at the table between them. "I will never let that happen."
"There's not a lot you can do about it," he informed her matter-of-factly. "Could already be too late."
"That will kill my mum!" Ginny hissed none too softly. "Ow, shit!" she cursed as the tea overflowed from her cup and burned her fingers. She hadn't even noticed the beverage boiling in her hands, she was so angry. She stared at her fingers and willed the blisters that were beginning to form to go away. After a moment the only evidence of her accident was pink-tinged skin and tea on the table. She stood and cracked open the window above the sink, grabbing a rag on her way back to the table. She concentrated on deep breaths while she cleaned up her mess. Finally, she took her seat once more and closed her eyes. Draco, kitchen, she commanded with her mind. A moment later, she heard footsteps coming down the stairs quickly. "Is there anything we can do?" she asked, turning her attention back to Lucius, who had been watching her silently, interest hidden on his features. She wouldn't have even known it was there had she not known Draco so well. Like father like son.
"Everything okay?" Draco asked hesitantly from the doorway. Ginny turned to him.
"No," she answered honestly. "No, we've got a problem."
After filling Draco in on what Ginny had just learned, she asked Lucius again. "Is there anything we can do?"
Lucius inhaled deeply and raised his eyebrows. "Go back to him."
"That's not happening," Draco hissed before Ginny could even open her mouth to speak.
She sent him an annoyed glance and, ignoring his statement completely, cleared her throat and asked: "What are the odds of me getting him out of there?"
"The better question," Lucius pointed out sagely, "Is: what are the odds of your brother wanting to go?"
Ginny hated that she actually had to consider that. Percy isn't that weak-willed, she thought, half sure and half convincing herself. But he always was a prat when it came to respect and all that. Shit. Shit, fuck, piss and bollocks! She attempted to relieve some steam mentally, and forced a calming breath as Draco's comforting hand fell on her shoulder. Ginny blushed, embarrassed. There weren't a lot of barriers between her and Draco's minds, but she sure hoped Lucius hadn't just overheard her little fit. "I need some air," she claimed, standing quickly enough that her chair scraped against the kitchen floor with an ugly sound.
She ignored her cloak on the way out the door, and glanced down the block to make sure there were no prying eyes. She felt a hand on her shoulder just as she Apparated away.
She and her company were deposited in the woods. She ignored him completely and started furiously obliterating trees left and right directly upon arrival. Stupid, bloody wanker, she hissed as she took her rage out on the poor forest. "Of all the low, dirty--using my family against me!" she screeched, picking up a boulder telekinetically and hurling it into the dark depths of the trees.
She felt the hands on her shoulders once more and shrugged them off angrily, jerking out of his grasp and setting the closest tree on fire with a roar. That stopped her in her tracks. She stared at the burning oak with a mixture of disbelief and satisfaction. So she could conjure fire--she just had to be pissed enough. She took a few deep breaths and wiped away the tears that were stinging her eyes.
"I'm sorry, baby, I just--" she started, turning around to face who she thought was Draco; she fell into embarrassed silence when she came face to face with Lucius. "Oh--um--golly," she breathed, not quite knowing what to say. "Sorry you had to see that. I--I thought you were Draco."
He nodded, pulling out his wand and extinguishing the fire before it could spread and burn the forest down. "Understandable," was all he said.
She sighed and fell to her bum in the center of the clearing she had just created. She trailed her fingers through the dirt, realizing that Lucius would probably find it very improper and low that she was playing in filth. "What am I supposed to do?" she asked, looking up to him. "How am I supposed to fight him?" she felt tears swelling up in her eyes once more and turned away as they leaked out and rolled down her cheeks.
"You can't," was all he said to that.
"What's the point in having these bloody powers if I cant even protect my family?" she sniffed, wiping her tears away furiously.
"It's hard to protect people from their own idiocy," Lucius reasoned. "Trust me, I've tried."
Ginny felt a small smile creep over her lips. "Draco?"
"Indeed," he confirmed. He then did something that shocked Ginny to the core: he gave a small sigh, and crouched down to join her on the ground. How very un-Malfoy like, Ginny thought sardonically and Lucius gave a small huff of amusement. "Draco was, quite literally, obsessed with you from the beginning. I saw it early on, even if he didn't realize it until later."
Ginny turned to her trainer, astonished. "How did you know?"
Lucius gave a bark of laughter. "Please. There are only three reasons someone would visit the same captive multiple times a day, and its either because you're interrogating them, you fancy them, or you're very deranged and just enjoy torturing people that much. Draco knew there was no information that could prove useful, and related though they may be he's a far cry from Bellatrix Lestrange."
Ginny nodded slowly. "And what did you think about that?"
"I was furious, of course. Even knowing who you were, what you could be capable of, what you could do for us--it's not normal, you see, to fall in love with a blood-traitor, and deviating from the social norm is a very risky thing to do--especially when you're in the ranks of the Dark Lord."
The sat quietly for a little while. The wind crept through the trees and wrapped around Ginny's unprotected form. She shivered and pulled her knees to her chest.
"Go back to the Order without me," Lucius told her. "I'll see what I can do about getting your brother out of there."
She thought on that for a moment, shaking her head slowly. "I don't trust you," she stated blankly, and Lucius chuckled.
"No reason to, I guess. Very well then, let's be heading back. You'll get sick out here."
Ginny scoffed. "You don't care about that. Whats your angle, Lucius?" she asked him flatly.
"Just trying to get home."
"That home--that family of yours, had you locked in your own bleeding dungeons," Ginny pointed out. "And you'd still be there--or dead--if it hadn't been for my family."
Lucius stood and brushed off his robes, sneering at her. "Don't think you can give both of the Malfoy men their redemption, Weasley. You're not that powerful."
She stood also, straightening and staring him hard in the eyes. "What could you do?"
"Tell the Dark Lord there's still hope for you. Tell him that your brother isn't a good enough ploy to get you to return. Maybe I can get him to consider a negotiation with you," he never broke eye contact with her and Ginny thought over that quickly.
"You're not lying," she said, and he shook his head. Ginny swallowed the lump in her throat. "They wont be happy with me--Draco least of all," she sighed. "You've no reason to help me, Lucius, but I'm hoping you will anyways," she too began to brush herself off. "And were things to go south I just want to tell you now that I appreciate all the help you've given me in training, and," she attempted to swallow the sudden lump in her throat. "And that um--I'm deeply in love with your son," why was her vision blurred by tears? "I think I could spend the rest of my life with Draco, and uh--I-I would feel honored to be a part of your family."
Lucius said nothing, but gave her a single nod before stepping back and Apparating away--likely back to Voldeshmort's compound. Ginny let the tears spill as soon as he was gone and wiped them away quickly. That had felt an awful lot like a goodbye. She already blamed herself for not getting to Narcissa on time--she didn't want to be responsible for sending Draco's father to his death as well. Though, she thought with a small smile, Lucius is quite the slippery one--I'm sure he can take care of himself.
She wasn't sure how far she could beam her thoughts into someone's mind, but it had worked all the way across Hogwarts before. Please stay safe, she thought out to Lucius Malfoy, wherever he had ended up. For your son. With one more deep breath, Ginny closed her eyes and Apparated back to the Order alone.
To say that things went well when Ginny returned home wouldn't be quite accurate. In fact, to say that things went terribly would still be an understatement.
First there was Draco, who told Ginny that he loved her, but she was a moron if she actually trusted his father to do anything for her now that he was free.
Then there was her mother, who screamed at Ginny (so loudly in fact that Mrs. Black actually yelled at Molly to shut her trap) about releasing enemies willy-nilly.
Next there came her father, who berated her for releasing a captive that knew the whereabouts of the Headquarters.
Lupin and Tonks cornered her in the kitchen, wagging their fingers at her for setting a man like Lucius Malfoy free. When Ginny pointed out that he had been staying at the Headquarters for the past week without a bit of trouble Tonks finally relented and pulled Lupin's attention elsewhere.
Fred and George lured her to the study, where Harry, Ron, Hermione and Bill waited to ambush her. It was only by her lucky stars that Draco had managed to tail them into the study and stood nearby her protectively, jumping at any chance to fight for her.
"What were you thinking, Gin?" Bill asked her, his face aghast. "He could have killed you the second you two Apparated away!"
"He's not stupid," Draco spat quickly. "He wouldn't lay a finger on her unless under direct orders. As far as we know now he still wants her."
"Come off it!" Ron took a menacing step towards Draco. "Of course you're going to protect a fellow Death Eater--"
"Ron!" Ginny hissed. "Shut up! I think I know Lucius Malfoy a little better than you--"
"I know that he's a sleazebag!" Ron shot back.
"He's a wretched person, Ginny," Hermione finally spoke up. She looked as though she didn't really want to be talking. "Remember what he put you through? He cant be trusted."
"Things are different now," Ginny claimed, crossing her arms and raising her chin.
"Nothing's different, Gin--"
"I'm different!" she shouted, and she was dimly aware of a burning anger building in the pit of her stomach and flooding her veins. She bet her skin was pretty warm to the touch.
"She's right," Harry agreed softly from near the fireplace. "That she's right about. She's completely different," he finally met Ginny's gaze with an icy stare.
"For the better--" Draco cut in.
"Shut up, Malfoy," the twins chorused.
It was then that everyone seemed to start talking at Ginny at once. Overwhelmed and upset that no one would let her speak she threw her hand to the dark fireplace and with a screech worthy of Molly Weasley for everyone to shut up, the fireplace blazed to life.
The room grew silent for a moment in which all eyes were fixed on Ginny. She shifted uncomfortably under all of their amazed eyes and took a deep breath. "Just listen," she sighed. "This morning Lucius shared a bit of information with me--he said that after I split Voldemort called for Percy--and Lucius seemed to think he was there. Is there. Now." She raised a silencing hand when it appeared people wanted to do the talking thing again. "It's--a very tempting offer for--" Ginny swallowed, "Someone of our up-bringing," she could tell her attempt at trying to put it delicately didn't go very well (except on Draco, who gave a soft snort of laughter).
She shook her head and sighed again. "I love Percy, I do. He's my brother but--" she hesitated, her eyes diverting to the fire she had created. "We have to face the fact that he's weak-willed. First with the Ministry, and now, it would seem, with Voldemort. All he's ever wanted was power and respect and, like it or not, Voldemort can give that to him."
She gave a quick backwards glance to Draco for reassurance. Was that a look of pride on his features? She straightened and turned back to her siblings (Harry and Hermione might as well have been flesh and blood to her for all Ginny was concerned, though things appeared quite shaky with her and Harry at the moment). She tried to wipe her face clean, tried to slide into that mask that Lucius and Draco had perfected. "Mum and dad don't know," she continued. "I didn't want to worry--" she hesitated and shook her head. "No, that's a lie," she confessed immediately. "I just didn't want to tell them."
Hermione finally decided to break the silence, "But if its true then--"
"If its true," Ginny interrupted quickly, demanding Hermione's silence with her stony gaze, "If Percy has already gone to him--then there's nothing we or the Order can do about it."
"There's something you can do about it," Harry said coldly. Ginny turned to him slowly, staring at him hard. She vaguely felt Draco's hand on her lower back, but wasn't quite sure if it was to reassure her or calm her fury. "Your trainer said so, didn't he?" he sneered at her. Obviously Harry was still having some problems adjusting to the new Ginny.
"First off, I wouldn't listen to anything my father has to s--"
"Shove off, Malfoy," Harry bit out, his eyes never leaving Ginny's. "I don't give a flying fuck what you have to say. Aren't you supposed to have all these grand powers?" he questioned Ginny. "Can't you just go take him, Princess?"
She instantly felt the cloud of confidence and authority that had been slowly building around her vanish. "What the bloody hell is wrong with you?" Ginny breathed, feeling slightly hurt by this new icy demeanor he had towards her. "Sure he'd been difficult from the get-go of all this, but things were getting ridiculous, especially seeing as how Ginny had already repented and was only trying to make things right. She felt her blood boiling in her veins and half-attempted to reign in her anger. "Lucius will help me," she swore to them, nodding at her own statement. "He will," she said again, but she didn't know if it was them she was trying to convince or herself. She only knew that he had to help her. He had to, because he was her only hope. If she went back, she knew she wouldn't be returning.
Draco's hands covered her shoulders and he pulled her back gently towards the door. "He will," she told Draco again in a whisper, tears brimming up to her eyes for what felt like the millionth time over break.
"Okay," he said softly in her ear as he guided her away from her hostile family, who were all staring at them silently. Hermione seemed close to tears herself. Ron looked as though he wanted to pummel Malfoy for laying hands on his sister. Harry kept Ginny's gaze until she was in the hall and being spun around by Draco and pushed towards the stairs.
Draco deposited Ginny in her room and had come back a short while later with some fresh tea for her.
He sat down next to her on the old bed, handing her the cup. "I couldn't remember how much sugar you liked, but then I remembered that you're crazy for drinking sugar in Earl Gray anyways, so I chose three."
Ginny allowed him a half-smile as she took a small sip of the steaming tea. "You got it right," she nodded, and he mirrored her smile. "Thanks, by the way," she nodded to him, "For your help in there. I don't know if I could have survived that without you," she admitted, a slight blush filling her cheeks.
"You did very well," he argued. "You were really getting into your role back there."
"My role--what are you saying," she asked him sardonically, raising an eyebrow, "That I was channeling Desdemona?'
"No," Draco shook his head, smirking as he laced his fingers with those of her free hand. "That was you," he brought his other hand up to tilt her chin up and then brushed some hair behind her ear. "You've become very strong," he breathed.
"I don't feel strong," she whispered.
"I feel it. I feel it coming off of you in waves. You kept sixty percent of your family quiet. When you talk, people want to listen to you."
Ginny took a steadying breath. Setting her tea down on her nightstand, she moved over to the window. Pinks and purples were still fighting for the sky, and the moon was just beginning to become visible. "I know the truth," she said softly. "I've known--I didn't want to face it," she gave a small derisive huff at her own foolishness. "I thought, Be positive, Ginny. Have faith. Fate is mysterious. Stupid," she shook her head and gave him a small, ironic sort of smile.
Draco watched her silently from the bed.
"Desdemona was the Dark Princess," she continued. "Harry is He Who Lives. I belong at that camp. Voldemort is going to bring something bigger to this world, and I have to help him."
Draco finally stood and joined her at the window, circling his arms around her waist and resting his chin on her shoulder, gazing out at the night with her.
"I have to get Percy out of there. I threw faith in Lucius but he'll be lucky enough to remain in good favor. It has to be me," Ginny turned around in Draco's arms so she could look into his eyes. "I'm going back."
"We go back to school tomorrow, Gin," Draco pointed out. "Think about this: if you go back there he'll never let you leave."
"He can't stop me," Ginny breathed, staring off in the distance, thinking. "I'm drawing my powers up faster and faster. If I meditate for the rest of the night and go later I'll be strong enough to convince him to release Percy."
"Say you do," Draco started, trying to talk some sense into her. "Say he does send Percy out. What are you going to do then? Hope you can Apparate faster than he can draw his wand?"
"Then I negotiate," Ginny pointed out. "After school is done, first day of summer break, I'm back at the compound."
"This is suicide," he argued, shaking her shoulders lightly to pull her attention back to his face. He had to convince her to put this off.
"Well my brother is an idiot prat, and there's nothing I can do about it except save him from this mistake," Ginny spat, pulling out of Draco's grasp. "So that's what I'm going to do," she began pacing about the room. "And I wish you could help me, but you had to get all righteous on me and push me away, which only served to get you thrown out of Voldemort's good graces and, if I might add, set us up for all this shit!" she finally stopped and looked back to him once more.
He was still standing by the window, glaring at her coldly. "You forgot the part where I destroyed my father's career and got my mother murdered."
Ginny felt her shoulders slump, that aggressive, charismatic power that she seemed to be pulling from somewhere disappearing once again. She went back to Draco and dropped her head to his chest, wrapping her arms around him. After a moment his arms encircled her body, drawing her close to him. "I'm sorry, baby," she whispered against his hard body. "I didn't mean--"
"It's okay," he stopped her, kissing the top of her forehead. "I know I messed up, but I was just trying to protect you."
"Fate will find a way," she quoted. "Isn't that what you said?" he remained silent. "If everything's fated, then fighting is pointless, isn't it?" she took his hands and started pulling him towards the door.
"Ginny--" he started when she opened the door, but Ginny shook her head.
"I need to meditate for awhile. I have to be ready," she pushed herself onto her tiptoes and placed a soft kiss on Draco's lips. "I love you. Ill try to get you back in. I know I could handle everything a lot better if you were with me."
He sighed and entered the hallway. He stopped her when she began to shut the door, leaning his upper body toward her. "I love you, Red," he told her.
She granted him a smile and finished closing the door, making sure to lock it as well.
A:N/ Well--yes--I know. You don't have to say it. I waited for two years to update this, and I am utterly ashamed. I can't promise that things will pick up from here on out, but I did try to make this one extra-long and full of drama for you. Feeling a little rusty with HP fanfics right now (been focusing on Heroes and Batman) so let me know if I'm still doing justice to this very old story.
I apologize deeply for the wait, and I hope that my once-loyal readers are still that, even though Ive been a horrible person. I also understand that I've lost all review-begging rights, so don't do it unless you really want to. =) (But it would be beneficial to YOU if I knew that this was worth continuing).
I also apologize for any technical errors... when I uploaded this doc fanfic decided to re-work it a bit and delete every apostrophe, hyphen and quotation mark in sight, so if I missed something on my way through editing... you know what I mean. =)