Chapter 12 : XI
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Another week had come and gone. Ginny had gone back to work with Charlie the next day, avoiding Alin as much as she could. She thought about him more and more, and about what he said.
She was sitting at the table in the tent, dazing off from organizing the pile of papers in front of her. Her mind, yet again, wandered off to Alin. Suddenly, there was a rustle against the tent opening, bringing Ginny out of her trance. Looking up, she saw Alin standing there. He looked at her and then walked over to the small couch without saying anything.
Ginny’s eyes continued to stay on him, her mind racing. Biting her lip, she got up slowly and moved towards the couch. She stood at the end, looking at him with her arms crossed. He looked up to her, setting his sandwich down on the small table.
“I want to talk to you,” Ginny said, her voice steely.
“Go ahead, I’ve been waiting,” he responded, his hand inviting her to sit down.
She ignored the gesture and went on, “I don’t appreciate what you said to me last week.”
“Yes, I’ve gathered that. Let’s say the truth, shall we? What you really didn’t appreciate is me stating the truth. A truth in which you’ve been able to cover from everyone, but me.”
“Do you always talk to everyone like this? As if you’re superior to them?” Ginny asked, squinting at him.
“I’m doing nothing but speaking with you, Ginny. You’re the one who’s making it as if I’m talking down to you.”
As Ginny was about to say something, Charlie walked in, sitting down on the couch next to Alin. Looking from the two, he said, “Have you guys made peace yet?”
“With this arrogant, bigheaded jerk? I don’t think so,” she said as she turned away from them both and went back to her desk.
Charlie looked away from Ginny and to Alin, silently questioning him. Alin looked back at Charlie, shrugged, and then picked up his sandwich. Charlie started eating his lunch, talking to Alin.
Ginny eyed them every now and then, mumbling insults under her breath towards Alin. She then started working on her files once again. After a recopying a few files, Alin came up behind her, leaning onto the table.
“You know, I can hear you,” he said as he looked at her.
“Then you know exactly what I think of you,” she responded, looking up at him.
“Yes, I’m sure.” Alin fished through his robes then, and held out an envelope with Ginny’s name on it. “This came for you, by the way. I figured you’d want it.”
Ginny looked at the envelope, recognizing Draco’s writing. Her eyes watered slightly as she remembered McGonagall saying that Draco had said something about her drinking habits. The feel of betrayal started to wash over her slowly and she shrugged. “It’s nothing important.”
“Well, it’s addressed to you, not me, so here you go,” Alin said as he placed it next to her arm.
Without waiting for a response from her, Alin walked out of the tent, leaving Charlie and her alone. As soon as Alin left, Charlie stood up and walked towards Ginny.
“Would you like to explain to me what’s going on between you?” Charlie asked. Ginny shrugged. Charlie eyed her and continued, “Does this have anything to do with how you acted the first day you were here?”
“It could,” she said dismissively.
“What happened?” he asked, his arms crossing.
“He just said something, and I think it was uncalled for. I don’t want to talk about it anymore, and I have a lot of work to do. Now, if you could get back to your own job, that’d be good.”
Charlie held up his hands in surrender with a small smile on his face. “Okay, okay, no need to bite my head off.”
Without another moment to lose, Charlie walked out of the tent, leaving Ginny alone. She continued to work on her pile of files. The envelope was still on her desk, causing her eyes to wander to it every so often. After what seemed to be endless teasing, she grabbed the envelope and opened it, sliding out the parchment and unfolding it.
I’m glad you opened the envelope. I’m sure you fought with yourself on doing it, but I’m definitely glad you did.
By the way, you can stop thinking this is an apologetic letter. I assure you, it’s not. I’m not sorry for telling McGonagall about what was going on, and I surely am not sorry that you’re getting the help that you need. I know you feel as if I betrayed you, but I’ve done the only thing I thought would help you. You wouldn’t allow me to help you like you needed, and so I did what I thought was best. Being as stubborn as you are, you probably hate me and thing I’ve gone completely mad, but you and I both know that I’m right.
Please write back to me and let me know how things are going. I really want to hear how you are doing, and I miss you being here. I’ll see you soon though, I’m sure. You’re a strong, independent woman, and I know you’re going to pull through.
Ginny looked at the letter, tears slightly building up in her eyes. She bit down on her lip as she reread what Draco said. Goosebumps began to crawl over her skin as a fuzzy feeling filled her body, things that hadn’t happen in years.
An idea came to her, and she rushed out of the tent. She walked straight into the site where Charlie and Alin were working, without thinking. Spotting Charlie, she called out to him and made her way towards him. Suddenly, a loud roar, a hot blast of air, and a body running into her, knocking her onto the hard, warm ground.
She heard people running towards the spot she was just recently at, yelling spells as a roar belted out. Opening her eyes, she saw Alin looking down at her, worry etched on his face. She blinked a couple times, trying to get her bearings. About to ask what had happened, Charlie rushed over and asked, “Are you two alright?”
Alin looked away from Ginny hesitantly and then to Charlie, nodding. He reached out a hand to Ginny, who took it. As she stood and brushed herself off, Charlie grabbed her into a tight hug.
“Are you okay?” Alin questioned.
Ginny pulled away from Charlie and looked towards Alin. She gave him a slight smile and nodded. “Yeah, I’m okay. What happened anyway?”
“You came in here without being okayed, and startled Artemi. He saw you and was about to attack you when Alin ran and pushed you out of the way,” Charlie answered as he looked down at Ginny.
She looked up at Charlie and then back at Alin in awe. She walked closer to Alin and looked up at him, her cheeks reddening slightly. “You saved my life.... Thank you,” she said softly, her eyes looking into his hazel ones.
“I don’t know about saving your life, maybe some broken bones,” he responded with his crooked smile. He continued to look at her, smiling, and then said, “We okay?”
A smile came to her face and she nodded. Alin smiled back at her and was about to give her a hug when Charlie interrupted them, “C’mon, Ginny. You should go get checked out.”
“I’m fine, Charlie,” Ginny responded, not looking away from Alin.
“Just to make sure, Ginny, c’mon,” Charlie urged, pulling on her arm slightly.
“I said I -,” Ginny started before Alin interrupted her, “He’s right, Ginny. You should get checked out, just to be safe.”
“Hey, Charlie! We need some help over here, give us a hand?” a man said near Artemi.
“Can you take her and make sure she gets looked at, Alin?” Charlie asked as he was about ready to hurry to help with Artemi.
“No problem,” he answered, looking away from Charlie and to Ginny again.
Without saying anything more, Charlie rushed off to help the others, leaving Alin and Ginny alone. Alin then cleared his throat, his hazel eyes still looking at Ginny, and said, “Let’s go get you checked out, shall we?”
“Sure,” she said with a slight nod.
He wrapped his arm around her waist, helping to steady her as they made their way towards the tent with the medi-witch. As they continued on their way, Ginny looked up at him and said, “How can you be so nice and forgiving? I’ve treated you horribly.”
“We all have our moments where we lose ourselves, Ginny. Moments where we aren’t truly ourselves. Charlie’s had those moments, I’ve had plenty of those moments, and now, you’re having yours. If I was able to have my moment and have the people I love forgive me, you should be showed the same courtesy,” he answered, reaching the front of the tent.
Ginny looked at him, her eyes slightly watering as they searched his. She began to blink furiously as her face flushed. Quickly looking away, she squeezed her eyes shut, trying to ease the burning sensation. He kissed the top of her head gently before opening the flap of the tent and guiding her in.
“How can I help you?” a girl with black hair and beautiful caramel skin asked.
“She needs to be checked out, Sasha,” Alin said, leading Ginny to a table and helping her up.
“Oh, hello, Alin. What’s wrong?” she asked, focusing her attention on Alin.
“There was an incident outside, and she just needs to make sure she’s okay,” Alin answered, his eyes moving off of Ginny and to Sasha. After a long moment, he moved his eyes back to Ginny and said, “I’ll be outside waiting.”
Before Ginny could say anything, Alin exited the tent, leaving Sasha and Ginny alone. “You must be Charlie’s sister, the famous Quidditch player.”
“The one and only,” Ginny mumbled.
“Does anything hurt?” Sasha asked as she ran a hand down Ginny’s arm, examining it.
“No, I’m fine. I insisted that I didn’t have to go, but Charlie’s a pain.”
Sasha let out a slight snort. After a few more things she said, “You seem fine, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary.”
“Thank you,” Ginny responded as she hopped down from the table.
Without another word spoken between the two, Ginny walked out of the tent where Alin was waiting patiently. As she walked out, he looked over and smiled slightly. “How’d it go?”
“Well, I can certainly say, I don’t want to visit her again. I think she likes you.”
“Along with your brother,” Alin said as they started to head back towards Ginny’s work station.
“What about me?” Charlie questioned as he caught up with them.
“Sasha,” Alin answered.
A shudder went down Charlie’s spine. Ginny chuckled and said, “Not a big fan?”
“Not in the slightest,” Charlie said. “You okay?” Ginny nodded with a slight smile and Charlie continued, “Good. I better get back to my station, don’t want to get too far behind.”
He walked away, leaving Alin and Ginny alone again. Silence was between them as they continued making their towards her work station. As they reached it, Ginny stopped and looked at Alin. “Can we talk for a moment in there?”
“Sure,” he responded with a slight nod. They walked in and Alin went straight for the couch, falling into it and getting comfortable. “So, what did you want to talk about?”
“What you said last week...you were right. I just don’t understand how after all this time, someone who I had only talked to for mere minutes, understood what’s going on with me. How did you know?”
Alin looked up at her, his eyes set directly on her warm brown ones. He took her hand in his and pulled slightly, bringing her closer to the couch. “Sit down and I’ll tell you.” She sat down and bit down on her lip, looking at him, taking in his features.
“I recognized the signs,” he said softly. She eyebrows raised, questioning what he meant. “The place you’re in right now, how you’re feeling and everything, the way you turned to alcohol...I used to be exactly like that. I used to only look out for myself, completely selfish. I wouldn’t let anyone in my life and all of those that were already in it, I excluded them.
“I not only turned to alcohol, but also to drugs. I lost absolutely everything. I lost my job, a family I loved, and myself. I didn’t know how to change or who to turn to. It’s hard to trust people when you hardly trust yourself, don’t you think?”
Ginny nodded as his eyes searched his, her lips slightly parted.
“It started during the war. I got married to my sweetheart four months after I graduated. We were together since our third year. We had our kids right away. Our eldest was Boris,” Alin said as his eyes began to water. “He had black hair just like his mother. Besides his hair and freckles, he looked just like me. Then there was Mikhail. Again, he looked just like me, but had his mother’s hair and eyes. He would’ve been grown to be an entertainer, that’s for sure. Then there was baby Alena. Sweet, sweet baby Alena....”
He looked away from her and cleared his throat as his eyes continued to water. He swallowed hard and then continued, “She was the youngest. The sweetest little thing you’d ever seen. She had Angelina’s big blue eyes, her soft, cream colored skin, and her absolute lovable spirit....
“It was soon after Voldemort came back. I was at work, and Angelina was taking the kids to the beach with her sister. Back then, there was no way of knowing what was going on in the world until you bought or received your paper. I returned home, expecting the bodies of my boys to crash into my legs as usual, and then to see Angelina follow behind them with Alena on her hip. When they weren’t there, I figured they went to Angelina’s sisters for dinner....
“I ate dinner and did a few things around the house. I fell asleep reading a book. I woke up, startled, as there was a rapid knocking at the door. I didn’t know what was going on, but the knocking just continued. I realized what was going on and checked the clock. It was 11:57. My thoughts almost began thinking the worst, but then I figured that she didn’t want to bother me. I finally reached the door and opened it. Standing there was Fudge. I will never forget his face....
“He told me that there was an attack earlier that day at the beach. He said he didn’t know what happened exactly, but there were many witches and wizards who didn’t make it. He continued and said that they had been trying to find me all day long...that Angelina had hung on long enough to reach the hospital. He said she waited as long as she could....”
Alin stopped as his tears were almost spilling over. He cleared his throat again and swallowed hard a couple times before going on. “He then said that Angelina, Boris, Mikhail, and Alena...he said that they were dead...along with her sister....”
Ginny’s eyes had watered from the beginning and the tears were now rolling down on her cheeks. She took his hand into hers, squeezing it slightly. “I am so, so sorry, Alin,” she said shakily.
He shook his head and as her hands touched his face gently, he looked at her watery, brown eyes. Her eyebrows were slightly furrowed in sympathy as her eyes searched his. She moved her fingers to the side of his hair, letting them run through it slowly, comfortingly.
Without realizing, the two started to move closer to each other, their breath tantalizing one another. His hand moved to her face, his thumb wiping away a tear that was slowly cascading down her soft skin. They inched even closer to each other and before they could do something to change it, their lips were on each other’s. Moving slowly and softly, they seemed to have molded together.
Alin then pulled away from her slowly, his breathing slightly faster than before. He opened his eyes and looked at her softly, waiting for her to open her eyes. As she finally did, she let out a soft sigh along as put on a small smile. He leaned his forehead against hers and smiled his crooked smile.
“What the bloody hell is going on here?”
The two of them jumped slightly, not expecting someone else to be in the tent, and looked over near the mouth of the tent. Standing there was Draco, looking at the two of them, his facial features set like stone and dark. His fists were clenched in his robe pockets.
“May I ask who you are? These are private quarters,” Alin said, clearing his throat and standing up.
“Malfoy, Draco. I’m pretty sure you’re the one who I talked to on the phone,” Draco answered harshly.
“Yes, yes, that’s right. I’m Alin Bochinksy, nice to meet you,” he responded, holding out his hand.
“I would be able to say the same if I didn’t see you snogging the girl I’m involved with.”
“Involved with?” Alin questioned as he looked away from Draco and to Ginny.
Ginny moved her eyes to the seat of the couch, not being able to look at Alin or Draco. Alin’s eyebrows furrowed at her, confused, and then he looked at Draco. “I’m sorry, but I don’t really know what’s going on. You made an appointment to meet with Ginny, and that’s what you’ll receive.”
Draco didn’t answer him, and Alin moved past him. Pausing at the tent, Alin turned his head slightly and looked out the corner of his eye towards Ginny. “By the way, Ginny, you have the rest of the day off. Enjoy it.”
Alin then left Draco and Ginny alone. Draco continued standing there, eyeing Ginny with hatred. Ginny stayed on the couch, still not looking up from it, not wanting to face him.
“So, I fight with myself for days on whether or not I should tell McGonagall about your little problem. Finally, coming up with the decision, and forcing myself to do it, I tell McGonagall. You end up here, probably going absolutely insane and hating me with a passion. You’ve been what? Two and a half weeks sober? What’s your excuse for this, Weasley? What have I done so horribly? You go around dangling me on a string for you, doing everything I can to get you help, while you’re going around here and fooling around?!”
“Keep your voice down, will you?” Ginny spat, finally looking away from the couch.
“You want me to keep my voice down?” he questioned angrily. “I take the weekend off to come here, to Romania, to visit you. What do I find as soon as I get here though?! I see you snogging someone else! Before you left, a month before, I thought we established that there was something more between us? I thought we took that step!”
Ginny shook her head as she stood up. “Maybe we established something more than rivals, and something more than - what would you even call it? Would you say we were friends? Whatever it is, it was nothing more than you being there for me and becoming closer friends. Neither one of us mentioned anything about being more than friends! All you said was that you wanted to be the one I turned to, the one I leaned on to get through this. I agreed to that! I didn’t agree to anything more!”
“Of course that’s more! Are you bloody mental?! Are you blind?! Do you not see that that was MY way of telling you I wanted you in my life?! And what about all those nights? The staying up late, the talking, the getting to know each other?! What more do you want from me?! I’m giving you everything I know how! What more do you want?!”
“For you to get off your bloody high horse and get in with the real world! Don’t have someone else clean up your messes, and don’t let someone else battle your battles! Be a damn man! Be someone that you can even love!”
“Are you even listening to yourself? One moment you tell me to get off my high horse, but then the next you’re telling me to be someone that I can love! I love myself already, Ginny! What do you want me to say?! Yes, my mummy and daddy cleaned up all my little messes and fought my battles. Yes, I was a coward and took the easiest way out of everything. But that’s the old me! That’s the Draco Malfoy back at Hogwarts when he was a child! I’ve grown up since then! You’ve even said it yourself! You even admitted that I was different! I don’t know what else you want from me! What do you want!? What do you need me to give you!? I’m giving you all I can! But you can absolutely forget it if you think I’m going to bend myself over backwards more than I already have!”
“I never asked you to bend over backwards. I never asked anything from you,” she said scathingly.
Draco looked at her, his hands in his hair, tugging slightly. He walked closer to her and grabbed her arms, his face close to hers. “You drive me up a bloody wall! You don’t want anything from me? You don’t want to see me? So be it. Have fun with your little play toy. I wonder how long you can keep him along until you have him running like all the other bastards who were lucky to get out of your mess of life.”
Ginny’s face turned into stone and anger filled her veins. She went to slap him, but Draco caught her wrist in his hands. “I don’t think so, Princess. I’m going back, so now you can go run after your little toy.”
Draco let go of her and turned towards the tent. Pausing by the tent, as Alin did earlier, he turned and looked at Ginny. “Oh, and one more thing. You were a whole lot better when you driving your life into the ground. Drink your life away, Weasley, because I, nor anyone else, gives a damn.”
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