Draco cringed. His newly realized sense of honor sagged in defeat at the thought that he hadn’t sought a way to shield Ginny from witnessing his massacre.
That was a shame. He’d thought he’d done quite well with it, for someone who was never taught such a thing, up until just that moment. As it was, he could at least take comfort in the fact that he was dying for something, rather than because he would not make a stand one way or the other. She would forgive him that. At the least, she would understand it. His heart swelled. She had to, that was one of the things he loved about her.
The manor’s onslaught surged against him. He fought it, managing to hold out for a few moments before it overtook him.
Ginny felt rather than saw Draco’s magic give way to the force of the wrathful Manor. Her chest constricted tightly, and she thought she might very well faint. And then the erratic, as of late, Gryffindor within her gave a mighty roar, sending quivers all through her blood.
He was hers.
The shield was around him before she realized she’d decided she could do something about the vengeful manor after all.
Magic showered off the shield, and the manor shrieked with rage.
Draco cracked an eye open. Dying hadn’t been nearly as unpleasant as he thought it would be, though he had rather hoped the afterlife would offer some new scenery. And then the force of the magic hit him. If the magic in the air was palpable before, it was a two ton brick resting atop his chest now.
He opened his other eye cautiously. He blinked – once, twice. Perhaps he had died. Or someone let the Weasley twins detonate their entire supply of fireworks in one go. The world surrounding him shimmered gold in every direction, and the streamers of magic clashing outside of his protective shell refracted against the gold, creating blinding mini explosions of color.
The shell enclosing him pulsed with energy. It covered him with warmth and laughter and fire. It could only belong to Ginny, her essence resonated through every pulse of the shield. It was then that Draco began to put two and two together – the clashing magic belonged to Ginny and the manor. She had managed to shield him somehow, though by rights her magic shouldn’t have protected him from the manor’s attack. But then, she also managed to apparate to people rather than places, so who was he to judge?
And the manor placed the cost of desecration on her instead of him.
Draco leapt to his feet. He wasn’t going to stand for that, not now. He had started this battle, and – for once – he would finish it. Moreover, she didn’t have the slightest clue what she was doing – the kind of twisted logic the dark magic worked upon the manor she faced. To be fair, he didn’t exactly know what he was doing either, but he at least knew the manor, how it would react. But all of that nonsense was beside the point. She was going to get herself killed, and damn it, that was not what he was over here dying for.
Draco smirked. Cheeky bint couldn’t even let him die properly.
A thought – mad, impertinent, and utterly unconventional – flitted through his mind. The manor should not have had a problem shredding the magic of her shield. It was ancient and powerful, like that of a younger Stonehenge or Avalon. That it had not suggested two things: it was still bound to the Malfoy and her magic was somehow entwined with his. And if her magic was wound so tightly with his that the manor had considered her a Malfoy… why couldn’t he draw from her magic like he drew from the manor?
Draco quickly found that it wasn’t quite the same – where he could unwind the magic from the manor and use it to replenish his, Ginny’s magic staunchly refused to be unwound. It hissed and yowled menacingly when he attempted to incorporate it the same way he had the manor’s. Draco quickly drew the conclusion that it was a necessary distinction – if he could utilize her essence the way he had the manor, it would be akin to draining her magic from her. Betrayal and blasphemy in one fell swoop.
He prodded the shield a bit more forcefully. He had to do something before the manor struck. He couldn’t just leave her. He poked the streamers shielding him defiantly.
“Help her, not me,” he harangued it.
The shield twitched, and Draco understood.
A wave of his arm transformed the golden shell into quivers upon quivers of arrows, and a jerk of his head sent them flying relentlessly into the heart of the manor’s remaining wards.
The arrows, though they couldn’t actually take the wards down, had the desired effect. The manor once again turned its attentions to him.
Ginny threw another shimmering shield around Draco, and once the Manor’s rebuttal showered off her shield, he gathered her magic to him. He thought for a moment, then smiled as he sent a golden firestorm towards the manor.
Charlie Weasley rubbed his eyes, blinked twice, and then pressed his fists roughly into his eyes again. Maybe it was the explosions of magic that were making him see things.
“Say Remus, can you tell me what Ginny’s looking like out there?”
Remus looked at Charlie. He had assumed that it was the angle he was standing at and the speed Ginny must have been hurling curses at that made her arms appear so unnatural. It was as if there were too many of them.
“I would say she’s holding her own,” Remus replied carefully.
It was truthful too; Ginny hurled her magic quickly in what seemed multiple directions at once. A shield over Draco, a Reducto to the Manor, another enchantment over Draco, an extra burst of violence back to the manor, on and on in an endless loop. If she did not have her way in the end, Remus was going to be mightily surprised.
“I can see that. What I’m trying to ask is: why does she have too many arms?”
“Ah. I see,” Remus stalled. He was well versed in dealing with Weasleys, but Molly had told him on numerous occasions how Charlie’s nickname had once been “Stormy Charlie” because he had a talent in his youth for making thunderclouds look welcoming. He was doing a marvelous impersonation of a storm head now, actually. “I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the angle? She is having to cast rather quickly.”
It might have been a plausible explanation, had Draco, who was dead ahead, had not had the same appearance as Ginny.
Hermione laughed. Charlie looked at her reproachfully.
“I told you so.”
It took a moment for her words to dawn, but when they did, Charlie’s eyebrows slammed together in a manner that put Hermione in mind of a thunderclap.
Ginny chanced a glance at Draco before casting yet another spell towards the manor. She had not the foggiest idea how they were managing to do what they were doing, nor how they had reconciled their actions so acutely with one another. But they had, and somehow, against all theory she’d ever studied in her entire life, they were drawing power from each other and the manor both. Soon it would be over, and all they had to do until then was manage not to get themselves killed.
Draco had figured the give and take of their magic first, and when he transformed her shield into spells she hadn’t quite known what to think. It felt funny. As if they had a direct link to one another, and she supposed, as she hurled yet another blasting curse towards the heart of the wards, that through the magic, they were linked. She could feel his movements, knew his actions before she saw him enact them, all through the magic.
If she had the time, she would have been worried. The only other person who had been able to use her magic had been Tom, but that was different – felt different, even – it hurt when Tom had used her. With Draco though, her magic felt boundless, and it bubbled readily within her, eager to do their bidding. She could feel the same eagerness from his magic, though it felt tired and heavy compared to hers.
At last, Draco managed to gather the few remaining wards. He held the reins of the house in his hands, and the manor bucked and jerked furiously against his hold. He pulled them to his breast anyway, and when at last he was sure he could move without upsetting the balance, his magic reached to reattach them to the grounds. From the manor, the center of the estate, to the edges of Malfoy land in each cardinal direction, Draco carefully spun his magic down the length of the wrenching wards and tied them to the boundaries. Once the foundation had been relaid, Draco took a deep breath and let go. The world condensed to a pinpoint as the manor strained against the new tethers.
Bill prayed to every deity he could name that the new wards would hold. If the magic managed to rip free, Draco – and now Ginny – would be killed in the backlash. If they were lucky. If they were unlucky, they would face a much more gruesome death at the whim of the magic no longer controlled by the wards. Severus had stopped breathing; he gripped the top of the bunker-wall tightly. Hermione, Charlie, and Remus stood transfixed as the Manor and the Malfoy land drew into itself, shrinking into the distance.
Then, rubber band like, it snapped back to its correct dimensions in one last bid for freedom against the restraint of the wards.
Bill sat down heavily. Hermione, Charlie, and Remus managed to take their eyes off the manor to exchange bewildered looks. Severus exhaled.
The manor trembled, and Ginny, unable to stand its distress any longer, sent streamers of her own magic toward the house while Draco continued to rebuild the wards. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been so bold, laying wards was a tremulous time in any circumstances – Bill certainly would have objected, but the Manor seemed to soak in the gentle radiations she sent towards it.
When she closed her eyes, searching to find the magic she had sent to comfort to distressed land, she was surprised to find it flowing easily between the manor, Draco, and herself. When she pushed deeper, she could feel Draco’s magic and the manor’s own brand of magic circulating in her too. And Ginny’s heart released itself from the knot it had snarled into as she leapt over the wall of the bunker.