It was pouring. The patchwork grass was flooded, the usual green mellowed by muddy runoff. There was just too much rain and the soil was not deep enough to absorb it. It just wasn't deep enough.
It was one of those storms, the silent ones you can see far off, the ones that creep up before you expect it with clouds that visibly moved across the sky. There was no wind on the ground, but there was rain. And silence.
And then a brief crack echoed across the grass expanse before the surrounding trees silenced it too. In the quiet drizzle that follows such a downpour, a man stepped carefully through the mud and water towards the house.
He had joined the Order of the Phoenix, explaining himself to Potter and leaving it at that. From all other corners, there was no fanfare - just questions, suspicion, and distrust. For the most part he gave information and came when called. That is until she changed her opinion. Bellatrix had gotten a hold of Charlie. He'd intervened. Charlie had needed months of rehab and therapy, but then he was a Weasley – he pulled through. And Ginny … she never looked at Draco the same.
She'd come right out and asked him for a drink. There wasn't much free time in those days with the War and there was much more directness. You said what you had to before you couldn't say it. He'd given a date and time. It had been ages since he'd dated. He'd started out saying yes from a desire to have a moment in his life that wasn't dedicated to destruction. Then again, she had probably felt the same.
But she ruined it. So used to Slytherin shadows of truth, boxes within boxes, mental games, strategic relations, he couldn't believe how unguarded she was. Her susceptibility had almost killed her with the diary and yet she hadn't ever learned. She told the truth, she frowned, she smiled, she cried. She did everything she wasn't supposed to – and he had seen everything. But she ruined it. She fell in love. He could see it right there when she smiled at him, when she put her hand on his shoulder.
She thought she could fix him.
They held hands and digested the pain together. She'd been willing to go further, perhaps further than she had ever gone before. He could see she wanted his approval, his love, and she thought by giving her body to him she could win his heart. She couldn't see she already had. At any other time, with any other girl, he might have. But he ruined it. He fell in love too. And it changed everything.
The war ended. Death Eaters were put on trial. An unmarked grave was found with the bodies of over one hundred of the Dark Lord's loyalists who had strayed too far towards the line, a line that had blurred as his madness heightened. The press pestered him for weeks when Lucius was found among them. He went to France alone and returned after the story had blown over. Ginny was waiting.
He knew she would be. She always waited. She had tried to wait up those nights he was called away, but he refused. She couldn't see that, not him coming home. Not the showers he took, scrubbing until his skin was as red as the stains on his clothes. Not the fury he unleashed on his rooms. Not the cold stillness that followed and the endless mental replays. Not the jogs at dawn in the bitter frost. Not the dreams.
He came back, and she thought she had it all figured out. The War was over. He could see her thoughts so plainly. Marriage. A family. A normal life. She was so ready to feel the light again she couldn't see the darkness that marred him, a scar more than flesh deep. She'd looked up at him with those eyes that hid nothing. He'd held her, kissed her forehead, and tried to take in everything about her. She was soft and warm and good and fierce, but he loved her. And that changed everything.
He could have deflected the rain, but it felt right. He wore all black, and that seemed suitable too. There was water up to his ankles, but his boots kept him dry. The cold seeped through though. Nothing could prevent that.
He approached the house, as patched as the grass around it, but vibrating with life. There was deep magic here, imbedded within the very frame. A red light poked through flowered curtains, beckoning him. Draco neared the window and the silence of the evening was perforated by the dulled noise of a bustling household within. Bill was kissing Fleur, their first born between them. Fred and George conspired in the corner with Charlie's eldest girl, handing her something that looked suspiciously like Ron's wand. Ron himself was busy stealing food from his wife's plate, her disapproving glare, perfected after so many years of friendship, deliberately unnoticed. Mrs. Weasley was busy directing the pots and setting dishes on the table while her husband conversed with Potter over a stack of papers.
This he noticed with a sort of itch in his throat. Such homely scenes still discomforted him. All the disorder, the abrasive conversations, the arguments – it was such a stimuli overload compared to the rigid structure he had experienced at home. But all this was trivial because she was there in the sweater he'd bought her for Christmas last year, a rich maroon that suited her perfectly. She was frowning at Fred, but he could tell there wasn't really anything bothering her, it was just one of those expressions she put on to fuel the twins' devious nature.
It began to rain a little harder as the clouds shifted, unloading more of their burden to earth. He could feel the water begin to trickle down his coat's neck, but he needed just a few more minutes. There was no hurry – his little flat in Germany would be there tomorrow but Ginny wouldn't. She was here now and happy.
That was the important thing. Ginny was happy. Draco watched as Harry threw a glance to her. Finally noticing, Potter? Draco had to work to reign in the bitterness inside him, the old hatred so fueled by this fire. It was quite simple. Ginny had all these perfect dreams – dreams he craved so much his heart ached for them – but such a dangerous hope of fixing him. She just couldn't see.
Draco had an empty manor filled with drafty corridors and haunted rooms. He had mordant memories of a misconstrued childhood and a warped sense of love. There were some things he could never tell her, wouldn't tell her. Things she couldn't handle knowing. So much about his past would forever be hidden from her, because in her Gryffindor world there was no room for exceptions and grays.
Looking into her window, her world, he saw what she couldn't. A family she could never leave. Ideals she didn't realize she had. Misconceptions that would destroy her if she learned the truth. And Potter. Beneath the icy calm of resolve a demon threatened to break free of confinement, but truth won out. Potter would love her without tainting her. He could be what she needed and eventually she would see that was more important than what she wanted.
Draco had an appeal to him that went beyond the surface. He was intriguing. Something in his nature called people to him and if he didn't repulse them first, this sort of charm won them. But charm was not enough. Not even his love could cure everything. Potter would love her … would fit into her family. She could have that light.
She'd ruined everything. She'd fallen in love and made him do the same. If he loved her any less he might have stayed. But he didn't and for her sake he was glad. He would walk away, because she was too proud to listen. Too sure of her ability to heal him with kisses and words.
He would leave tonight and begin translating this mess in a month or so. Maybe he would travel. But through the violent fog of conflicting emotions hidden beneath such an unbreakable exterior there was something he could identify as alien to him. Although he couldn't imagine not doing this for Ginny, he realized he was doing something for someone else, something that cost him dearly. He couldn't name the feeling, but it almost soothed the fury within him.
Looking one last time, he took in her smile. Praying to whatever God would still hear his voice, he put the task to Potter to care for her and, with one last touch of the windowpane, was gone.
He was one of those men who aged well. The blond faded to a shocking white that contrasted against the black he always wore. He couldn't believe Granger had talked him into teaching after so long, Defense Against the Dark Arts no less. It was painful to teach. He understood now what Severus went through.
He bore the Mark. He'd been the very person they were learning to defend themselves from and their innocence branded him. They fought over girls and seats and grades. They held petty rivalries and lived in an environment of angst over the most trivial of matters.
With hands that had extinguished life, he graded papers, wrote detentions, and took roll until one day a Gryffindor first year came into his classroom with red hair and glasses. She took her seat and began looking over to see what her fellow little people were doing.
The whole period, his heart beat faster and when the bell rang he even forgot to assign homework in ominous tones. Closing the doors to the dungeons he'd accepted as enticement for his position, he sunk to the floor. Clutching his heart, he accepted the pain.
The important thing was, Ginny was happy. And if you took off those ridiculous glasses, her daughter had those same eyes.
A.N. I own nothing but the plot. Everything else belongs to the wonder that is J.K. Rowling.
Please review. I can't tell if it's worth posting my stories or if I should just attempt to improve in private unless I receive some sort of constructive criticism.