Chapter 21 : Chapter 21
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Disclaimer: Uh, yeah I left my brain in bed so I'll be boring today. Standard disclaimer applies. Right.
Ginny rolled onto her side and tucked her hands underneath her chin. She had spent the whole day avoiding Draco, even at mealtimes. When she got hungry she called Tipsy and convinced her to bring her some food.
However, while she was surprisingly successful in avoiding being in Draco’s presence, she couldn’t avoid thoughts about him. It frustrated her that even when he wasn’t around he still occupied her thoughts. She also didn’t like that he was, however inadvertently, controlling her day to day actions now. And after this afternoon’s admission she’d told him she would think about it, but her current situation wasn’t exactly what she’d had in mind when she’d said that. Now her every thought seemed to pertain to him in some way or another.
It was late and Ginny had been lying in bed for over two hours and had yet to actually fall asleep, or even to doze. She sighed and pulled her knees up to her chest. Once again her thoughts drifted back to Draco, this time into the past, back to their school years.
She’d known Draco since she was eleven years old when she met in Diagon Alley after defending Harry. He’d been rude then and ever since. At school, however, he seemed to mostly ignore her, focusing the majority of his attention on the Trio. If they crossed paths he was sure to hurl and insult or two, which was of course returned, and in her fourth year she’d even hexed him when he brought her to Umbridge for helping Harry. But other than that she’d never been more than the occasional blip on his radar.
Despite her few real encounters with him she knew for sure that he was no more than a rich, spoiled, arrogant and completely insufferable, brat. Now, years later, with the naïveté that came with her young age behind her she’d met him again and made a reassessment. Draco Malfoy was a rich, spoiled, arrogant and completely insufferable, brat. Still. But she had to admit that while that hadn’t changed, her perception of him had. She was learning that there was more to him than met the eye, that there was so much more beneath the surface and he never let anyone see. Which left her torn between hating him and liking him. She varied between the two, switching every five minutes.
He was rude and condescending when she’d arrived, but there were times, like after the accident, when he opened up to her, a little at a time, and she got a glimpse of a whole other person. Her opinions on him and her feelings for him changed so many times she had a horrible headache and was about ready to scream. And it had only been about six weeks.
When Ginny got upset at him all over again she would try to remember that most of the time he didn’t mean it. It was a leftover reflex from the way his father had raised him. And on top of it was still dealing with his past while trying to take care of his mother and the Manor. And not let anyone see the slowly but surely appearing cracks. Not that any of those were acceptable excuses or anything, they just reminded her, most importantly, that no matter what, he was still human.
And she knew firsthand what childhood traumas did to a person and that sometimes, especially after being bottled up for long periods of time, cause one to snap and take it out on other people. Which led to Draco’s general demeanor. It took her awhile to understand the reason for his lashing out and that he made no effort to try to connect with people or show them his other side because he felt safer that way. That he was afraid of judgment and so instead of taking any risks he kept people at bay and let them form their own image of him.
Ginny wanted more than anything to help him. She knew better than anyone the kind of demons he struggled with on a daily basis and wanted to show him that life didn’t have to be so miserable all the time. But how was she supposed to do that? He was no more ready and willing to let her in than he was anyone else and if she couldn’t get past the walls he’d put up then they’d never get anywhere.
The game she’d tried was him was something she’d played before, but slightly modified for the situation. She’d been pretty surprised when he’d responded. She pretty much expected him to say forget it and leave but figured that at the time it was worth a try. Another benefit to opening up was that even if she didn’t do him much good, they would get along better for the duration of her stay and she would get to understand him more.
Annoying as he could be she didn’t care if he wanted to tease her or play pranks on her or just be an arse in general. What she really wanted, what she found herself truly intrigued in, was learning more about the side of him she’d only had short, rare glimpses of at this point.
She wanted to see what he’d be like he of he could learn to get past what his father had done and how he’d treated him. She wanted to know if he was someone who could be considered a friend, someone she could talk to and trust. As much as he got on her nerves and as much as she hated him the majority of the time, she couldn’t get past the fact that deep down she had a feeling that the answer to her question was a resounding yes. She couldn’t yet, but the possibility was there.
Ginny rolled onto her other side and stretched her legs out. She mentally compared her family to Draco. They had their differences, of course, but she loved her brothers and parents, and extended family, with her whole heart. They’d always been there for her no matter what. But not for Draco. His father had only used him and abused him and his mother…if Narcissa Malfoy cared for her son she wasn’t very good at showing it. If anything, she cared more for herself than for him, by all appearances. He’d had a horrid childhood and she wished for the chance to show him that life didn’t have to be that way. She wanted to show what it was like to be cared for….
Which led to Ginny’s other dilemma. She couldn’t keep trying to deny that she had feelings for him. Physically, she was very much attracted to him. Her obvious reaction to him, to his touch, to his kisses, was undeniable. The problem was, she didn’t know what to do with that. She still wasn’t sure if she was ready to trust him, if it was worth the risk. Physical attraction wasn’t enough to base a relationship on.
Her thoughts came around to that afternoon when Draco had kissed her. She couldn’t believe he’d done that, kissed her like that and then just walked away.
‘Leaving her to her thoughts’ as he’d put it.
Very frustrating, Ginny thought.
Sick of trying to get sleep she knew wasn’t coming anytime soon she sat up and slipped out of bed. She went out to the hallway and paused, debating where to go. With nothing better to do and no other options immediately coming to mind she decided to look in some of the other rooms and see what she found.
One thing Ginny quickly discovered was that the majority of the rooms were completely unused. They were neat and clean, courtesy of the house elves, but they didn’t feel lived in. They looked more like stages and the items in the rooms acting as props. For some reason this saddened Ginny, though she couldn’t exactly say why. She eventually ended up down on the first floor, after discovering a staircase behind a door. It led to a hallway that appeared to be only accessible by the one set of stairs.
There were several doors lining the hallway, but each of them was locked, one after the other. She got to the last door and, though she didn’t actually think it would be locked, judging by the all the other doors down here, she tried it anyway. Of course, it was locked. She sighed and turned to go back. Ginny couldn’t help wondering why this hallway practically inaccessible and why all the doors were locked. What was so important that none of the doors were without protection? But then, it was entirely possible that it was a simple precaution, or maybe a reminder to the house elves to stay out, and that an Alohamora would do the trick. They also may be locked with powerful locking charms that she wouldn’t have the slightest idea of how to even begin to unlock. There was only one way to know.
She knew she shouldn’t snoop. She’d been specifically told not to. But she couldn’t deny the insane and extremely strong urge to see what was in that last room. Why that particular room she had no idea, and it was probably no more than her curious nature; something that had gotten her in trouble a fair number of times in the past. And yet, it seemed ever so slightly odd that, from the exploring she’d done so far, most of the doors in the Manor were unlocked and she came down here to find all of them locked. She still found herself turning back to face the door.
Ginny pulled out her wand from the waistband of her pajama pants and tried Alohamora. She couldn’t honestly say she was surprised when it didn’t work. She closed her eyes and pulled from her memory all the lessons Hermione had given through school, specifically on locking spells. She always said, ‘It’s the smaller spells that can be the most important. It is vital to learn those just as much, if not more so, than bigger ones.’
So she tried another locking spell, to no avail. Several minutes later she was irritated, frustrated, and still standing outside a locked room. Whatever was in there had better be good. She tried one more, one so ancient most people probably didn’t know it existed and that no one bothered to use anymore. But she had nothing more left so she did it anyway. And jumped back slightly in shock when she heard the distinct click of the lock.
Ginny shook her head at herself before slowly reaching out and opening the door. The room was dark so she lit her wand to avoid tripping over something. The room appeared to be a study of some sort, with bookshelves lining the walls, a large desk on the right and a few chairs here and there, most of them situated close to the desk. She frowned, unable to figure out why the room had been locked. There didn’t seem to be anything out of place. Of course, she knew that could easily be an illusion. It was also entirely possible there was nothing here. Yet her instinct told her that wasn’t true.
She walked over to desk to inspect it closer. It looked like any other desk, except for the fact that it probably cost more than most people made in a year. Much to her surprise, when she tried the first drawer, it opened easily. Unfortunately it was empty. The other drawers were also unlocked but there was nothing of interest there for her to find. She headed over to the bookcase, hoping that maybe there would be better selections in this room than in the others. She was disappointed, but not too surprised, to find that there were no better selections here.
Frustrated and irritated Ginny fell to the floor with a huff. Out of the corner of her eye she saw this rather large tome on the bottom shelf. It wasn’t a title she recognized so she pulled it out to get a better look. The cover was blank, just a dull boring gray; it almost looked like something you’d find in the Restricted Section in the library at Hogwarts. Ginny opened it up and thumbed through it. Of course, there was nothing to see. She went to close it and put it back on the shelf, but stopped. When the back cover connected with the rest of the pages it made an odd sound. Normally she wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but this time it caught her attention.
As she fingered the spine and wondered why it sounded off, or if it even had at all, she noticed something else out of the ordinary. Actually, she felt it. It felt like a crack in the spine. Everything in the Manor was ridiculously expensive and perfect, so why did they have a book with a cracked spine. Maybe her lack of sleep was making her crazy, but this just struck Ginny as odd. She traced the crack with her fingers, barely ale to make anything out in the dim light of her wand. She reached the edge and felt her finger catch on something. She pried it up and in doing so, discovered why it had seemed that the back cover made a weird sound and why the book was there in the first place. There was a secret compartment in the back cover. It was small, barely big enough for several pieces of parchment.
A quick inventory found a one solitary piece of parchment there. Ginny slipped her finger underneath and pulled it out, setting the book on the floor once it was in her hands. She grabbed her wand from where it rested in the floor, the tip pointed upwards as it rested against her leg, and pointed at the parchment. She half expected it to be blank, but in the contrary there was not only writing, but appeared to be a letter. On closer inspection she realized it was a letter between Lucius and Narcissa. Obviously it would be rude to read a letter no addressed to her, and yet, that’s exactly what she found herself doing.
Not to worry, I have taken care of the problem. No one will ever no there was something wrong. And, of course, I fired the incompetent woman.
Ginny was instantly bored. She skimmed the rest of the letter until something near the end caught her eye.
I do agree that it is beyond time for Draco to step up, but right now is not that time. Our plans are already set, there is no need to bring him into this. It will be easier if he remains ignorant anyway. I know this displeases you, but the planning of this is up to me and I would feel better to continue the way we have been. I will update you when the time comes.
Ginny frowned and furrowed her brow as she set the letter down. Could you be any more cryptic? she thought. She shook her head. It was far too late for her to be trying to do any deep thinking so she put the letter back and then replaced the book. She went back to her room, barely able to focus enough to keep from getting lost. She climbed into bed, her thoughts swirling even faster than before. They were no longer centered around Draco, though he was still there occasionally. So much for trying to calm her mind down enough to sleep. Now it was just that much worse.
Ginny ended up laying there for hours more, her thoughts determined to figure out what she didn’t know, even as her body tried to shut down. Finally she did, but even her dreams focused on the thoughts she couldn’t get rid of.
P.S. Srry this chapter is so late. Things have been crazy lately and I just kept forgetting or there was something else I had to do. But it's here now and I hope it was worth the wait. I will finally start to answer some of your questions. lol :D
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