Chapter 5 : I Don't Sleep
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Ginny's mind was still reeling fifteen minutes later as she snaked her way through the overcrowded street, her dainty figure and bright red locks salient in the sea of drab cloaks. Her hands gripped the handles of her bags, nails sinking into her own flesh as she futilely tried to prevent the hot and furious blush. The lump in her throat grew bigger and the thick veil of miserable tears hazed her vision. She could not believe Malfoy had said those words, that he was actually able to pronounce such mean and hateful things. She shivered, not knowing whether from the cold, from her rage or his remorseless abhorrence.
She could feel her tears freeze in their tracks and soon afterwards her eyes dried completely. She could not afford to break so easily every time he spoke his blasted mind. She wouldn't be able to survive in his house for much longer if she did. Her eyes darted onwards aimlessly as she coaxed herself gently to breathe and let his meaningless words slide off, like water from duck’s feathers.
When she suddenly saw a familiar figure coming into the view amidst the faceless throng, she instinctively smiled and hurried that way, wishing to hold onto that man tightly and complain about Malfoy's idiocy. But when the green eyes caught her approach and something foreign glinted in them, she halted to an immediate stop. Her heart skipped a fearful beat and she wished with all her might that somehow Harry had not noticed her. Perhaps amidst the crowd he had spotted some other familiar face and not her. Oh, please, please, let it be so…
But when his smile broadened into that well known welcoming grin, she knew it was her that he had seen. She momentarily considered the idea of turning around and running away, but she wasn't raised that way and she would not start acting like such a coward now. She squared her shoulders and gripped the bags even tighter, walking closer to him with as casual expression as she could muster. She hated feeling this way. The fear and the discomfort caused by the man she loves should not at all be in existence. It was ridiculous and unbelievably foolish, but she could not shake the fidgety feeling in the pit of her stomach. She became unnerved in his presence and she was afraid it was her fault; her moronic overreaction that led her into this unneeded panic.
She walked over, towards the extremely colorful window display of "Flourish and Blotts", managing a polite smile and nodded at him curtly. This sudden sense of detachment, as if they were nothing more than mere acquaintances, made her even more disgruntled with her own behavior.
"Hey," he said sheepishly, noting her choice to stand at some distance. "Umm, how are you?"
Ginny sighed, her smile widening slightly at the ludicrous situation. They were acting like strangers so timid, and stupid, that she couldn’t believe herself. This was her husband, for Merlin’s sake! "I'm… fine, I guess. You?"
"Okay,” he nodded in response. “You know - work, house…”
Ginny saw the brief scowl before he managed to hide it and decided to pointedly ignore the bitterness lacing his voice. He was suffering as much as she was, and she wanted so much just to hold him close right there and tell him to take her home.
"What-- what are you doing here?" he asked after a stretch of silence.
"Needed some robes,” Ginny supplied, showing the bags in her hand. “Wanted to talk to Tomas about my job."
"And how did that go?” he inquired evenly. “He took you back?"
"Err, no." She couldn't help but notice the tiny spark in his eyes. "He… umm, didn't." She glanced away, watching the countless nameless strangers passing them by as if they didn’t exist.
"Gin, look," Harry suddenly fired at her, obviously deciding to cut to the chase. "Are you avoiding me?"
Ginny heard the anxiety in his voice and her heart bled. How could she tell him that she was afraid of him and had spent the last week locked up in the house of his school archenemy mostly because she dreaded the possibility of running into him. She couldn’t bring herself to cause him anymore pain. "What are you doing here?" she asked instead, wincing at the awful change of subject.
He motioned toward the bookstore, thankfully deciding to play along. "Work stuff. Bakely is in there talking to Blotts about the shipment of cursed books they god last week." His voice grew impatient and exasperated and when he stopped, he pressed his mouth into a tight line and took a deep breath. He obviously gave up on the small talk and made an effort to catch her wandering eye before speaking up again. "I miss you."
He took a step closer, and Ginny’s body reacted on its own accord, stepping away from what it deemed a threat. He stared at her incredulous, devastated, but was unable to say a word. She bit her lip and ran a hand through her hair, wishing she could stop the sudden tremor in them. "I-- know. I’m sorry. I miss you too— "
"Then come home, Gin. Just… come home"
His plea was silent and desperate, spoken solely to her despite the constant flow of people around them. His voice was traced with longing, his loneliness was visible in the shade of his eyes, and his need for her emanated from his very body.
She shivered in her warm cloak, suddenly noticing how very close he came to stand. Her heart beat rapidly and she inhaled slowly, drawing in that earthy familiar scent that was everything Harry. She should have never run. It was immature, and cowardly, and so absolutely uncharacteristic of her. She had never been the one to run away. Ever. What had happened that night was a regrettable mistake. It was awful and despicable and utterly unpardonable, but he didn't mean to raise his hand. She knew it to the marrow of her bones, that he had never meant her any harm. He loved her so much. She knew his love - it was comforting and soft and brilliantly warm. I could never be the harshness and cruelty she witnessed that evening. She knew him, and the man that struck her wasn't him. She looked up into his eyes and inhaled slowly. What she needed right now was to lean into his arms, cry away Malfoy's insults and go home with him.
The thought circulated pleasantly through her weary mind, assuaging the raw wounds left by the blond’s accusations. Accusations that she would cave, relent, go back and place herself in a more dire situation than she was in now. Ginny felt her heart give a frightful skip as those accusations ran rapidly through her mind
"—You would've returned home … he would have struck again, no matter how sorrowful… you'd still stay by his side… think you know him and that the man that struck you wasn't really him. …"
Ginny became rigid for a moment, yet somehow managed to take a step away from Harry. She could not go back without having everything figured out and she wasn't anywhere near figuring it out. She was still as confused as ever, if not more so, and she was sure Harry would benefit from their time apart as well. He was hurting, she could see it in his eyes. She hurt too, but she dreaded her pain would not dissipate into thin air if she ignored it long enough.
"I can't, Harry," she finally whispered, keeping her eyes firmly away.
She could feel his entire body tense. She was still so attuned to him and that made this so much harder.
"What?" His voice was laced with a calm demand, but a demand nonetheless.
Ginny shook her head, biting her lower lip. "I can't. I just can't yet. Please understand this." She shifted her weight uncomfortably, inching away.
"You can't?" he echoed in a voice that sounded foreign and unfamiliar. "Is someone stopping you?"
"No," she replied, glancing nervously at the people around. no one seemed to be paying them much attention, and she really didn’t wish to change that situation.
"Then? Why can't you come home?" he insisted. "Or are you afraid that returning home would interfere with your screwing around?"
Ginny snapped her head up, staring into his emerald eyes, not believing what she just heard.
"How stupid do you think I am, Gin?" Harry demanded, grabbing her arm and hauling her closer to him. "You're not staying at the Burrow, not in the Leaky Cauldron, not in any other inn in the Diagon Alley. So where do you live? And how exactly are you paying for your stay?"
He shook her roughly, glaring down at her frightened expression as if she was the most disgusting thing he had ever seen. She saw in his eyes the same flash of brutality that dominated them that night and she couldn’t help but tremble.. She tried to push his away, yank her arm out of his grip, but his fingers were like vices, digging painfully into the flesh of her arm. She dropped the bags and tried to shove him away, struggling again his, but all was in vain. He simply shook her once more, as if she was nothing but a pitiful ragdoll. Her frightened gaze searched the crowd, but not a single looked their way and a ghost of a suspicion crept through her mind, fueling the hastily growing terror.
"Tell me, Gin! Who is it?" he shouted right into her face, jerking her again when she provided no answer.
With a sinking sensation in her stomach, Ginny finally noticed the pale blue ripple of magic around them. He had cast a cloak around them – none could see them until he decided otherwise – and she had stepped right into it of her own will.
"Tell me!" She wished desperately for her wand, hand sneaking through the folds of her robes, but just like in the café, she realized she did not have it. But she had to do something, she had to get away!
She stomped onto one of his feet and when he grunted at the unexpected strike, she sent a fixed punch toward his face. She hit his nose and with morbid satisfaction heard the crunch and saw the spurt of blood that covered her fist, ignoring the subtle pain resonating from her own hand. Perhaps it wasn’t particularly so, but it had made Harry stumble away and gave her enough time to spring into the surging crowd. Her petrified dash for freedom luckily was not followed, and as she ran tears stung her eyes. But she attributed that to the throbbing pain in her probably broken fingers.
Ginny glanced at the wooden door that slid silently into its' place. She closed her eyes with a wince, wishing that the door had made a sound. . She had been wandering about Muggle London for the past six hours - her feet ached, her muscles burned, her head swam with lightheadedness and her fingers still throbbed painfully. Her mind was veiled so thickly with gloom, she could scarcely find her way back to the Malfoy Manor. Her eyes were sore from the incessant tears and the cold wind. Her throat was tight and she could hardly drag her breaths anymore. Her cloak and clothes were smeared with dirt, she wasn't sure from where, and her whole body was in a state of numbness.
She spent the afternoon trying to explain, understand, excuse and finally deny what had happened with Harry in the Diagon Alley. But no matter how hard she tried to think clearly, she was unable to. The moment she tried to, her mind blurred immediately and all trains of thought were lost in the darkness. She trudged onwards into the massive foyer, only half aware of her surroundings. As she reached the staircase that lead into her bedroom, she glanced up and seeing it stretch to a seemingly unreachable destination, she plopped herself down onto the lowest step and gathered her knees in a tight embrace.
Mere moments later, Ora appeared with a soft popping. Ginny glanced up as the little house elf placed a gentle bony hand on top of her flaming locks and stroked her head tenderly. Then, Ora smiled at her fondly and ushered her to stand. Obeying the elf's caring assistance, Ginny climbed up the stairs and into her bedchamber. There, Ora discarded her of her clothes and led her to the already prepared bathtub filled with warm water. The house elf rinsed her carefully just as she did the first night and healed most of her various aches. But when the kind fingers reached the four violet bracelets on Ginny’s right arm – the bruises left by his painful grip –and was about to vanish them, Ginny stopped her, covering them with her hand.
"Leave these," she said quietly. She didn't know why she asked, but she wanted those bruises to stay.
"Master Draco--" the elf began to squeak a protest, but Ginny hushed her with glance stare.
"These stay. "
Ora closed her mouth with an indignant huff and proceeded to towel Ginny's body off. She then dressed her in a white crisp nightgown and led her to the bad, tucking her in and wishing her goodnight before disappearing.
Ginny inhaled slowly and shakily and closed her eyes, Ora's care and kindness bracing her in an air of now-unfamiliar tranquility, as her mind blurred once again and she sailed into a deep slumber.
Pain dominated her world, sinking its' claws into various parts of her defenseless body, hissing and ripping her muscles as she tried to move. Around her the Chamber of Secrets was filled with furious blazes, lashing uncontrollably at the both sides of this seemingly lost battle. Red and green sparks wheezed over her and the smoldering air was filled with curses and hexes flung from all around her. One of her legs was broken and popped in an odd angle; thick blood oozed down her face from the fierce blow to the head she received a while ago; her clothes and hands were smeared with blood, and her entire body sported cuts and bruises. Still gripping tightly her hazel wand, she spit curses at every Death Eater within her range. If I die tonight, I will leave a trail of dead bodies in my wake!
Suddenly she felt a pair of forceful arms wrap her waist, yanking her up and hauling her away from the battle. She was dropped behind a pillar for cover, insulted for her stupidity by a faceless voice and left along just as quickly. She didn't recognize the man but she had a feeling she knew him; he was probably a member of the Order. Trying to move, she hissed loudly when her broken leg twisted excruciatingly, grounding her completely. She was well hidden behind the massive column and was impossible to spot in the current commotion unless searched for specifically. She couldn’t see much from her position, but she saw enough to keep her breath hitched and her heart hammering.
Harry and Voldemort appeared in her view, moving almost beautifully in their own personal battle - attack, retreat, defend, attack again. Harry was always beautiful with his salient features and the undeniable bravery, but at the time of an encounter he shone with golden regality. Ginny couldn't help the little shaky puff that escaped her lips as he underwent another successful attack. The war will be over tonight and Harry will be victorious, there was no doubt about it in her heart.
Suddenly Ginny stirred out of her reverie, hearing the dreadful words ring through the walls - "Avada Kedavra". Her gaze shot up to find Harry's lifeless body lay at the feet of the Dark Lord and Voldemort himself laughing triumphantly, his crimson gaze piercing her unerringly. Her heart tightened painfully and somehow she knew she was dead when he called for her in that unnerving manner that never failed to make her feel small and hopeless.
Growing up with six big brothers whom during various periods of their lives were most frequently characterized by sadistic behavior, taught Ginny to bear pain and alarm silently. Ever since she could remember herself she always stifled cries of terror, biting them down and burying them deep. So even though her nightmares were often almost unbearable and she always woke up with a startled jump, she would always smother the scream before it had the chance to leave her mouth.
Sitting up on her bed, Ginny gripped her chest tightly, feeling an ache where Voldemort's curse hit Harry in her dream. Her heart beat faster and her stomach churned as always. Her nightgown was soaked in sweat and so were her sheets and pillowcase. She swung her feet over the side of her bed and walked into the bathroom, still rubbing her chest and breathing shallowly. She rinsed her face, glancing into the mirror to see the haunted look in her eyes that scared a bit more. She closed her eyes and gulped hard, suddenly having the urge to whimper in utter despair.
She shook her head and walked back into the bedroom, noticing that it was still dark out side; a quick glance at the grandfather clock informed her that it was about passed two and that she had slept for over six hours. She rubbed her eyes, yawning.
Suddenly she caught sight of three large bags from Madam Malkin's robe shop, perched on top of the writing desk. Holding her breath, she walked over to the desk, for a moment dreading that Harry had discovered her whereabouts. The bags were indeed filled with her robes, and in one of them
a thin prolonged box wrapped in brown paper rested atop a bundle of fabric. Over it lay a small note. She reached in and took out the box and the note, examining the strange cursive handwriting.
What I did this afternoon was out of place. You have every right to avoid me.
PS - I noticed you were searching for this.
Not signed, the note was obviously from Harry. The box contained her hazel wand inside of it and though she was somewhat reluctant to accept any consolatory gifts from him at the moment, her heart swooned with relief at the sight of her cherished wand.
It must have been brought while she was sleeping, but Merlin! What kind of a bird carried three bags filled with robes?
She got dressed and pocketed the much-missed wand, heading out of the chamber; she needed to eat something now that she was awake. She felt a little bit better now that her wand was safely placed within her pocket. Harry's note seemed strange to her in its' briskness, but Ginny knew Harry never was the one to place his feelings on paper. She knew he was extremely sorrowful and pained, but this time she regarded the fact from somewhat of a distance.
She strolled into the dining room, meaning to call for a house elf to prepare her something to eat, but she stopped in her tracks, finding Draco sitting by the table and reading the 'Daily Prophet'.
She turned around and was about to walk straight out when Draco's familiar drawl stopped her in her track. "Come in, Weasley. I don't bite."
Ginny turned back to see the sides of his mouths quirked up. She sighed, knowing this conversation will turn out into an ugly argument as well. "It's you're bark that bothers me," she replied quietly, walking to the table and sitting down on her usual chair.
"Oh?" he inquired, intrigued, but Ginny decided to ignore it.
She waited for the food to appear on her plate and then started to eat silently, hoping that by disregarding Draco, she would prevent any further discussion. After his words at lunch, the last thing Ginny wanted was for him to talk to her. I will be the bigger person and just ignore him.
"So, what happened after lunch?" Draco asked the paper, but Ginny assumed he expected her to answer.
She paused with the fork halfway to her mouth and chanced a glance at him. Ora must have told him in what state she had returned earlier. "Nothing much."
Draco did not reply immediately, but after a while his gaze left the paper and turned to scan her her tensed features while she continued her meal. "Ora said there was blood on your hands… and that your fingers were broken."
Ginny momentarily considered saying 'I walked into a door', but the cliché faded with a mental snort. What she did manage wasn’t much better. "I slipped," she said shortly, keeping her eyes and flushing cheeks hidden behind her hair.
"Slipped?" he questioned her suspiciously. "Well, aren't you a clumsy one?" he added after a long pause, returning his gaze to the paper. His eyes slipped upon the letters aimlessly, glancing now and then at Ginny.
When she showed no intentions of starting a conversation, Draco cleared his throat. "I see the fact that you're a Weasley did not deprive you of a sense of style," he said finally, glancing over her new attire.
Tightening her grip on her knife and her fosrk, she slammed them onto the table, making the plates shudder. "You are unbelievable," she breathed in irritation, standing up and storming out of the dining room, leaving her meal unfinished. She stomped into the living room, grabbing a book she read four times already and collapsing onto the right chair before the blazing hearth.
"What?" she heard Draco's voice carried into the living room as he followed her. "I paid you a blasted compliment!"
"Your definition of a compliment is twisted, Malfoy. That wasn't a compliment," she fired rapidly into her book. "Besides, you're the last person I would want to hear a ‘compliment’ from."
"Why?" he drawled casually, lowering him into his armchair.
"'Why?'" Ginny glared at him, slamming the book onto her lap. " I have to remind you of the verbal diarrhea you experienced at lunch? How can you even dare to look at me after what you've said?"
"Not as difficult as you might think, little weasel," he replied in a monotone.
"Your tongue should be ripped out for the things that you dare to say, Draco Malfoy. "
Draco smirked at her, grabbing an apple from the fruit basket an elf just carried in and a small jagged knife, starting to peel the apple again into a long green coil. "Be my guest, little weasel, rip away," he said, finishing with the peel and placing it absently onto the little table between the two armchairs.
Ginny's hand grabbed the peel and, just to spite him, started munching on it again, her lips fluttering around a silent muttering of a curse under her breath. Allowing her lips to curve into a smile, she tuck her wand back into her pocket and opened the book again, allowing her eyes to scan the familiar lines peacefully while her lips fondled with the sour-sweet apple peel.
Draco, not noticing the wand and the recent curse, quirked an eyebrow at Ginny and opened his mouth, drawling, "Eating leftovers again, Weasley?". Or at least he would have, if any sound had escaped his lips. His eyes narrowed in confusion and he glared daggers at Ginny, who was gritting her teeth against the apple peel and trying hard not to burst in laughter.
"What was it, Malfoy?" she asked innocently, averting her eyes from the book to look into his darkened silver orbs. "I didn't quite catch that."
Draco most probably tried to mouth some intricate cuss word, but it was to no avail. Ginny kept smiling at him. Finally, he narrowed his eyes menacingly into tiny angry slits and mouthed slowly, "Undo. Now!"
Sighing dejectedly, as if he was ruining all her fin, Ginny took out her wand and murmured the counter curse. "I got my wand back."
"So I've noticed." That was all he said before turning to the 'Daily Prophet' that he had brought from the dining hall.
This time Ginny couldn't stifle the giggle that escaped her lips and drew Draco's attention back to her.
He watched her intently while his fingers gripped the edges of the paper. He gazed at her as she finished the apple peel and as if he couldn’t hold back any longer, leaned over his armrest towards her. "Okay, you have to tell me, Weasley - and by gods, control your temper, I am not out to get you - but, the peel… come on! Why are you eating the damn apple peel?"
Ginny glanced at him from the corner of her eye and shrugged. "Dad used to give me the apple peel when I was little. It usually involved an entire flourish ceremony of storytelling,” she said simply, hoping he would not find it appropriate to belittle her sentimentality. "I guess I just like it."
Curiosity satisfied, he pursed his lips in a moment of contemplation and returned to his newspaper without saying a word.
Ginny returned to her book as well, but soon her mind was distracted by a flickering thought. "Malfoy, why aren't you sleeping? It's--" she glanced at the clock. "—half past two. Aren't you tired?"
"Why? Am I bothering you?" he purred in a mocking tone.
Ginny rolled her eyes, shaking her head slightly. "The usual nag of your presence, but I'm getting used to it by now." After a pause and a glance toward him, she prodded further. "It's just-- most people sleep in this time of the night."
Draco tore his eyes from the 'Daily Prophet' lazily and looked at her for the longest moment before responding. "I don't sleep."
"You don't sleep," she echoed slowly. "Don't you get tired?"
Still looking at her, he smirked. "Apparently not," he said, lowering the paper and letting his eyes wander to the hearth. "Little sleep seems to be sufficient. Father was also that way."
Ginny allowed herself to study him closely, somehow knowing that his eyes won't leave the fire for a while. She decided to herself that he was an embodiment of the ancient Greek beauty. His eyes were the pure shade of silver with scarce white streak and long black lashes; he had a perfectly shaped nose; his platinum blonde locks were an almost exact color of his eyes and hung loosely, framing his features; his lips were an exquisite masterpiece of their own. Draco possessed the beauty of a marble god, Ginny admitted to herself. And a heart of an Ice King. She sighed solemnly and glanced at the fire as well.
"So,“ she dragged the word through the silence. “Do you know why you can't sleep? Maybe it’s a sickness or something."
Draco eyes were glazed with the orange warmth and it took him a little while to part his lips and form a reply. "You have your familial characteristics – your hair, your temper – I have mine. Leave it"
Ginny raised an eyebrow and returned to her book, "Fine." She read for about two hours and when the book became unbearably familiar, she fell asleep in the comfy armchair, wondering how long was Draco going to stare into the blazing flames. And what other familial legacies he was burdened with to this day.
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