Chapter 9 : Comfortable
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Disclaimer: Listen up, this is NOT MINE! I'm just using the characters for my own twisted pleasure. Dance, puppets, dance!
Author's Notes: Hi, people! First of all I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and lots of cool pressies! ^_^
Second of all - w00t! I updated! Unfortunately, this shall be my only update for the upcoming month or so. Exams, Christmas and life is being a pain in the yes, you know…
Once again, tremendous thanks to dragonsangel68!!! *hugs*
Nanyway, enjoy this chappie!
Coldness - she could feel it creeping slowly through her body inch by inch until it finally engulfed her savagely beating heart in constricting burden. She had never felt such searing and deadening coldness beforehand, not even on the most cold of winter nights while hiding in the Burrow's attic in a feat of teenage-rage. Bitter and hateful wisps ripped at her insides, freezing her whole body from within, leaving her utterly helpless. Never had there been a situation where she could not fight back whatever opposed her and leave the battle victorious. Ginny was never helpless.
The cold was far worse than darkness or pain - she could always light a flame to chase away the darkness or ignore the pain, but there was nothing she could do against the cold. There was no spell or charm to cast it away and even if there were she was unable to blink, let alone lift a wand and use it; nor could she ignore it because from the moment it appeared, it was all she was. Cold. Frozen. Helpless.
She was paralyzed, no longer was able to feel her own body. It was as if she was locked inside herself with this horrible sensation of stillness, with nothing to do but wait. Her eyes were locked on the horrific image of Harry Potter, a man she once loved, grinning inhumanly.
Just mere moments before, she found herself in the middle of the Chamber of Secrets again, any realization that it was yet another dream was nonexistent. She opened her eyes just in time to see the Dark Lord utter the Unforgivable and the infamous hero collapsed limply. This time she did not hesitate, rushing frantically to Harry's side, hearing the flow of strong cusses behind her. Just as Voldemort began laughing, she knelt beside the fallen hero and scooped his cut-strewn head onto her lap. His head lolled lifelessly, revealing the deep wound that crested his forehead and bled dark crimson, staining her ashen hands.
Tears no longer brimmed her eyes for she was too tired, and perhaps somewhere at the back of her mind she assured herself that the spectacle was not real - Harry Potter was not dead. But the sickening realization came sooner than she wished and almost calmly, though her fingers were trembling awfully, she wiped away the blood from his forehead and cheeks.
It was then that it happened. The closed pale eyelids flung open even before the body itself came to life and glared up at her, his irises vertical slits and instead of the endearing green - bleeding red. His face twisted into a hateful smirk and her first reaction was to back away, but before she could do so, his hand shot out and grabbed onto her wrist. And with the contact came the cold.
Acute rimy ringlets circled around her heart, sharply tightening as she tried to gasp for air. Her lungs burned with freezing agony and she knew it wouldn't take long before she would lose her grip on the world. Dragging air in became impossible and useless, as the much-needed oxygen couldn't flow past the frozen tissues of her throat.
A moment passed and she didn't seem to notice that Harry's face was no longer smirking at her from her lap. She couldn't quite comprehend anything then, but somewhere in her mind she was beginning to understand - the coldness came from Harry. The awareness was so striking, she flung open her eyes, not knowing they were actually closed before, and saw that he was now in front of her.
"Ginevra…" came the hiss from his lips, sickeningly reminding her of a certain handsome black-haired boy she had the misfortune of conversing with.
All of a sudden, all she knew was that she didn't want to die anymore and she didn't even comprehend the fact that she was screaming.
Draco always considered himself as a reasonable person, who could easily see logic in anything, speak good sense to anyone and most importantly understand reason at any given moment. Of course he often did not act upon this intelligence, but he did possess it and used it well when needed. Never in his entire life did he encounter a being, situation, statement or anything else that he could not see reason in. He even saw wisdom in his own father and his doings - a sick and twisted wisdom, but wisdom nonetheless. Draco needed this intelligence in order to understand and know his surroundings, and those who surrounded him, which easily allowed him to predict any action to be taken. Without boasting, he attributed healthy and logical reason to be one of his best qualities.
So one could easily understand why it maddened him beyond comprehension when he couldn't, despite his numerous and incisive attempts, see reason within a certain Miss. Ginevra Weasley (and Miss. Ginny Weasley she remained for him, since he absolutely refused to regard her by any other surname and status). She was a confident, self-sufficient journalist of the Wizarding Community's best-selling newspaper; she was clever and knew exactly what she wanted and how to get it. She participated in the Final Battle against the Dark Lord and received a Merlin's Order of first degree for her endeavors. Known for her destructive temper and warm heart, she was highly appreciated and respected in any official establishment. She was easily able to outwit anyone who dare to challenge her, including Draco himself. But despite all of these facts, she somehow found herself in a situation where her own husband didn't waver in the face opportunity to physically attack her.
Potter was right, Draco thought to himself bitterly, swirling his glass and watching the crackling flames from the fireplace of Malfoy Manor's living room reflect in the auburn liquid. You do belong to him. His jaw clenched tightly and he gulped down the smooth drink, willing himself not to lose control again. The last time he did could've very well cost him much more than he was prepared to pay.
He could still see Ginny's eyes the moment he sent the Stupefying curse at her - the red rage and the undeniable fierceness. She probably shrieked 'How dare he?' in her mind, he mused, chuckling at the possibility. The laughter was cut short by a searing sting shooting through his chest, rumbling synchronically with the chuckle. He hissed in pain, automatically rubbing the chest with his free hand, growling in frustration as the pain worsened. Damn little weasel and damn her Reductor spells!
He allowed the ache to fade away, drowning it for good measure with another gulp of Ogden's Firewhiskey, his thoughts trailing back to the situation at hand.
He was mad at Ginny. Yes, the thought surprised him, in the beginning, but it was exactly how he felt. He was mad at her, furious even. How, on earth, did she allow Potter to do such a thing to her? Why, for the love of God, was she so fierce and righteous when she faced Draco, but diminished herself to the role of a frightened little girl when it was Potter in front of her?
Draco was outraged by the thought, yet was unable to deny its' truthfulness. Ginny could easily set free her wrath upon him, lashing out until he actually backed away in an act of fright; but when it came to Potter, she would recoil and quiver in fear, hide at best if he raised his voice.
Ginny lacked the reason Draco craved to see in everyone - a fact that unsettled him more than he wished to admit. This absence of reason made Ginny completely unpredictable in Draco's eyes. He could not forecast what she might do next - a feat he was capable of performing normally, somewhat effortlessly at all times - and this did not only unsettle him, but quite frankly agitated him as well.
His mind just couldn't comprehend why would a woman of Ginny's morality and beliefs would cringe away miserably when a man who claimed to love her, a man she trusted with her own heart did what Harry did. The sight of it was even more monstrous than the thought. To see her - a magnificently livid creature, a fighter - cower into a shriveling bud only by his gaze. To feel her dainty body tremble violently, gripping onto his cloak so tightly he could feel her ragged breath on the back of his neck and know - know! - the bastard in front of him did not feel any remorse whatsoever.
Somehow the fact that she was a Weasley didn't matter at all, he would've felt the same had it been some other bruised woman to happen upon his path that evening. But the fact that the one to cause those bruises was none other than Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, the one who was adored and worshiped by thousands, drove him out of his mind. How could such a Hero raise his filthy hands to a woman? His wife, at that!
A painful knot constricted at the pit of his stomach at the memory of violet bruises covering Ginny's face and Draco's control slipped momentarily. Though only long enough for him to hurl his glass into the fireplace with utmost accuracy and bottled anger, watching the flames spur out and lick the ceiling of the crude hearth.
Control seeping back into its place, Draco raked his fingers through the fair strands of his hair. Absently watching a small fidgeting elf appear from nowhere, hurrying to clear the shards of his destroyed glass; he rubbed his eyes, telling the creature to bring him the fruit basket. Picking a big green apple from the house elf's offering, Draco took the little jagged knife from its regular place and started the familiar routine, carving the peel into a long twisting coil. Placing it onto the table beside him, he brought the apple to his lips and opened his mouth to sink his teeth into it, but stopped as the green of the peel caught his eye. Putting the apple down, Draco picked up the peel and after giving it a suspicious once-over, bit it.
Another thing that was bothering him was what he felt beneath the anger toward Ginny, for he did feel something beneath the anger - something that wasdisturbing him. Astonishingly, something commanding enough for the Stupefying spell to be broken without any apparent reason. Part of him was mildly intrigued by the actual reason why Potter's spell ceased, when the wand wasn't broken, nor the possessor of the wand destroyed. The other part was more occupied by the troubling desire to rip Potter's guts out when he kissed Ginny, a desire that had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he was captured by an OWL level charm cast by the arrogant ass.
Of course there was another thought flickering through his mind every few minutes. A thought that seemed so preposterous and far-fetched that Draco easily could've continue to ignore it, if not for the fact that he was now munching on a long coil of green apple peel. The thought was that perhaps he was starting to harbor more complex feelings toward Miss Weasley than simple chivalrous wishes to protect her.
Well, they do say weasels grow on you as pets, he thought to himself, instantly grimacing in distaste at his own words. He really was childish.
Draco suddenly froze, swallowing the remaining apple peel. The air shifted about him and his muscles tensed as some mostly unnoticeable traces of fear drifted into the living room. Few moments passed and he could clearly hear muffled noises he learned to recognize so well in the last two weeks or so coming from the small bedchamber on the first floor. Though something was different - her stifled moaning wasn't subsiding as usual, but quite the contrary - it was getting louder by the moment, until it was no longer muffled and Draco couldn't ignore it, clenching his fists and waiting for it to fade.
The still night air was shattered by a piercing cry that ripped through the tranquility, for the first time unleashing Ginny's nighttime demons onto the world.
Instinctively, Draco sprung from the overstuffed plush chair. Shooting through the foyer and up the stairs, he burst through the door into her room, immediately noticing the striking chill. His eyes franticly searched the lightless room, finally settling on her trembling form. She was sitting upright in her bed, eyes still closed, embracing herself, and loud sobs escaped her throat between ragged breaths.
Hesitating, only until another sob broke free from her, Draco rushed to Ginny's side, realizing he had no idea what to do. It seemed as if she was still locked inside her nightmare, unable to wake up nor open her eyes. Gently holding both her shoulders, ignoring the unsettling sensation in his stomach at the contact, he noted how absolutely freezing she was. Scanning the room again, he tried to remember if the chamber was the coldest, but his mind was screaming in unreasonable tongues to calm her down yet he was unable to build a coherent answer.
All of a sudden a pair of slender arms shot from her violently trembling body, wrapping tightly around his neck and dragging him closer until he flopped onto the bed beside her. His hands automatically wrapped around her shaking form, holding her tighter to him. He closed his eyes, softly inhaling her scent, and felt her rapid heart starting to slow down a bit. Her breaths became steadier, unconsciously synchronizing with his and the tension in her rigid body dissipated slightly as she allowed herself to relax against him.
Suddenly he felt very self conscious and awkward. He knew her actions were performed in a dream-like state and that she wasn't actually responsible for them, but something quaked inside of him and the same - now more salient - nagging thought flickered through his mind. He frowned at it and pushed it roughly aside, nevertheless continuing to hold the petite redhead.
He wasn't sure as to how she would respond to seeing him on her bed, holding her. Another notion reminded him of the things he last spoke to her and instantly he regretted ever opening his mouth. Realizing he probably needed to let go of her before she woke up and found him there, he started shifting his body out of her embrace, disregarding the uncharacteristic desire to stop.
He placed his hands on her arms in an attempt to disentangle himself, but was countered by her insistent tightening grip around his neck. "Don't leave me," came the tentative, barely audible whisper.
His stomach lurched and he was forced to close his eyes again, to try and steady his own breath and rapid heart. He heaved a defeated sigh and climbed onto the bed, careful not to disturb her hold on him too much. Slowly, he lowered her and himself down onto the cool sheets and lay perfectly still as she nestled into the nook of his arm, not allowing himself to relax at all. He laid stiff, staring at the ceiling above him as the small woman beside him drifted off into dreamless sleep and for a moment - brief and imperceptible as a lightening - he envied whoever it was she asked to stay beside her in her dream.
Ginny Weasley loved Saturdays. As far as she was concerned Saturdays were invented in order for her to sleep in until profane hours of the afternoon, with nothing on her mind but the softness of the blanket and the comfort of strong arms encircling her protectively. Saturdays were the kind of days that one constantly wished for and in some cultures and religions they were righteously proclaimed holy. Sundays were also nice, but they were always accompanied by the nagging thought that tomorrow the freedom would end; while Saturdays were blessed with the realization that tomorrow the freedom would still continue.
Sunlight streamed through the heavy canopy, filtering slyly into the shadowed depths of Ginny's bed, gracing her skin in golden glow as she stirred for the first time that morning. The first thought that had crossed her gradually awakening mind was a reminder of her fondness towards Saturdays, as she smiled through residues of slumber, snuggling closer to the warmth of human body beside her, placing her head on a firm chest.
The second thought was how glad she was that Harry finally took that overdue week off work. But as the thought revolved in her mind along with an image of Harry, memories of the previous night flooded her conscious. She could clearly see his features, once so loved and cherished, now feared, twisted into an odious sneer; his emerald eyes spitting fire while his fingers renewed the violet bruises around her arm. She remembered the terror and the bewilderment when she stumbled away from him, running as fast as she could; foggy vision caused by the threatening tears and the desire for everything to be nothing but a dream; and finally a now familiar figure, shouting a counter curse to protect her and shielding her behind himself.
And then there was nothing but the strong defensive presence she pressed herself to, trying to steady her heartbeat under the scrutiny of emerald eyes. She remembered voices, familiar voices, conversing almost pleasantly and then the first curse being sent by Harry. Loss of balance, terror for a second time and she was once again helpless and defenseless when Harry managed to Stupefy Draco. Then… then… Ginny stomach reeled as the memory of Harry's kiss struck her - hatred and cruelty oozing from his lips while the contact incessantly proved to her that it was not her Harry anymore. That she did not love him.
Drifting onwards down memory lane, Ginny stopped before it carried her into the foyer, knowing she did not wish to relive what had happened there. She couldn't bear seeing the severe disgust in Draco's eyes when he hurled the Stupefying curse at her. Neither did she need to hear his words echoing in her mind all over again - "Potter was right. You do belong to him…" - and that dull realization that he was right.
Ginny frowned deeply with a pained expression, burying her face into the nook of the protective arm wrapped around her, impulsively tightening her grip on waist that connected to that arm somewhere underneath the blankets. Mind still floating around at a dreamlike state, Ginny mused her notions from the previous night.
After Draco had stormed out, leaving a speechless and most shaken Ginny alone in the foyer, she had remained standing there, bitter tears creeping down her cheeks, up until Ora popped out of nowhere and ushered her upstairs and into her bedchamber. There, the caring and obviously well trained house elf rinsed her cautiously, charming the bruises and cuts away, before guiding her into the bed, tucking her in and placing a bony hand on her forehead, smiling sadly then popping out.
The moment Ora disappeared, Ginny was left alone with nothing but her raging thoughts to keep her wide awake. She tossed and turned, trying to ignore the troublesome concept, but her attempt was to no avail. No matter how hard she tried to disregard it, she kept coming back to the five words that seemed to rip apart her from the inside - "You do belong to him…"
She tried to picture, in what warped manner, his arrogant mind could've produced such an appalling idea. How did this conceited prat's conscience allow to him to suggest such a foul thing without losing its last traces of humanity, and why on earth was she vaguely trying to justify him? She replayed the scene in the foyer once again, this time pausing, with glimpses of comprehension, when he asked her of her wand. She had the wand with her all along and she didn't even try to use it on Harry, the thought so foreign it barely crossed her mind.
A sense of self-loathing gnawed at her stomach and as she shifted beneath the blankets another thought flickered through her mind. She had absolutely no reason to stay at Malfoy Manor - the sole reason for this arrangement was that Harry wouldn't have even thought about looking for Ginny there. Considering the fact that Harry now knew of her whereabouts, she could no longer consider the Manor a haven. Nor would Draco be as welcoming after he clearly showed his abhorrence toward her earlier that evening. She had no choice and made plans to rid Draco of his misery the next morning, she would return to the Burrow.
And now when morning had come, Ginny found herself unwilling to leave the comfort of her bed and the warmth of these strong arms, veiled by an oh-so-familiar fragrance she had happened upon before.
Sharp and acute, like a highly charged lightening bolt, the realization pierced her mind, forcing her to fling her eyes open. To her great surprise, she found herself nestled comfortably in the nook of a delicately pale arm, which held her tightly, lulled into tranquility by the strong and steady beat of a man's heart. Now wide-awake and very panic-stricken, Ginny sprang swiftly away from the cozy intruder, pulling the blanket with her while tightening it competently around herself.
Staring wide-eyed at the shirtless man from the other side of the bed, Ginny was even more surprised to discover it to be none other than Draco Malfoy. His hair was tussled carelessly from the pillow, his eyes shone their usually clear silver, though they were considerably keener, and his lips were curled into an amused, but somewhat cautious smirk. He shifted his weight, propping himself on an elbow and cocked his head to the side, watching her reaction with great delight, determined not to be the first to break the silence.
"What are you doing here?" Ginny demanded, though her voice wasn't too convincing in its unspoken accusations.
Draco remained silent for the moment, eyeing her wordlessly as the amusement in his features gradually dissipated and he regained his all too familiar calm fa?ade. Ginny couldn't believe he managed to seem collected and on top of things even when he was lying in her bed, shirtless and, up until few moments ago, holding her surreptitiously.
"You had another nightmare," Draco replied simply, as if it was the most understandable motive that could not be argued.
Ginny's eyes widened, if such thing was even possible. Only now when Draco had mentioned it, she remembered the nightmare from the previous night. She remembered the numbing cold that reigned in her body and the oppressing look in Harry's eyes when he hissed her name, in such a nauseatingly familiar manner. Then her mind was blank till now.
She opened her mouth to reply, but closed it as the words faltered at the back of her throat. She opened it again and once again closed it, searching for a way to express herself. Deciding she was starting to resemble a fish, she stopped, heaved a deep breath and after forming a reply in her head, opened her mouth. "And you found it suitable to barge into my room and sleep in my bed?"
"You were screaming," Draco shrugged with the simplicity of a five-year-old, who didn't understand what was all the fuss about.
"I was… I was screaming?" Ginny asked, indignantly propping her fists on her hips. Here I draw the line! I do not - I repeat - do not scream. Ever.
"You actually frightened the house elves. They thought we were attacked by a convoy of banshees," he smirked, heaving himself up into a sitting position.
Ginny sputtered at the man's audacity, the shock of finding him in her bed was quickly replaced with outrage. "I do not scream!"
"Well, you did last night," Draco insisted coolly, obviously aware of Ginny's ire. He suddenly stopped, arching a perfectly shaped eyebrow at his own words, noting they might be interpreted not quite appropriately. Smirking slyly at the thought, he switched his attention back to Ginny to watch her reaction.
Ginny narrowed her eyes at the impudent wizard, biting her tongue before she allowed herself to lash out at him again. It seemed that was exactly what he was waiting for and she wasn't going to act in accordance with his little antics. Shaking her head slightly, Ginny shifted her weight, sitting cross-legged, and leaned against the wooden footrest. Sighing, she chanced a glimpse at Draco and was taken by surprise by the barely discernible flutter in her stomach when she saw him watching her quietly, the atrocious smirk wiped away from his handsome features.
She closed her eyes and cupped them with a cold hand, rubbing at them tiredly. "I'm leaving," she blurted out finally, averting her attention back to Draco.
The reaction was immediate and so well camouflaged, Ginny almost missed it. Draco's eyes darkened instantly as his posture, which he had allowed to relax moments before, was once again tense and flawless. His features undertook the same dull impassive sheen Ginny was sure he used on his aggressive clients that refused to back down and do his bidding. She deemed to notice his jaws clench tightly in exactly the same manner that Thomas Brooks' fingers fidgeted.
"Leaving?" he drawled indifferently, careful not to betray anything that might lie beneath the veneer.
Ginny bit the inside of her cheek and nodded slowly, willing herself to hold Draco's icy stare. "I'll move to the Burrow for a while, until I can find my own apartment, I guess," she said, wondering why she was explaining herself to him.
"And Potter?" Draco inquired, succeeding almost perfectly at conveying himself completely.
Ginny blinked at the mention of the name and willed herself not to cringe. Noticing she was starting to fidget with her fingers herself, she drew a deep breath and placed both hands apart. "What about him?"
"You think you would be safe from him at the Burrow?" he asked, his indifference slipping a notch.
"I ho…" Ginny noticed her hands had crept back to each other and resumed their fidgeting, but did nothing to stop it. "Yes," she cut herself short, suddenly jumping off the bed and starting to pace slowly to and fro, heaving the blanket once in awhile back to its pace. "I mean I'll have Mom and Dad. Ron and Hermione are staying there at the moment as well. And, of course, I can… take… care… of myself…" she faltered noticeably on those last words, dropping her gaze to the twitching fingers.
Draco watched her cautiously through her rambling and when she started wavering in her speech, pursed his lips and slid off the bed elegantly. "Of course," he intoned curtly. He saw her looking at him when she finally lifted her gaze, once more noting the fact that he did not bother to cover his upper body. Pausing after he bypassed the bed, Draco gazed at her through the gradually dissipating veil of apathy.
Ginny froze in her place, her eyes fixated on Draco as he stood up slowly, arms' muscles ripple and shift tentatively when he pushed himself up from the bed. He walked from behind the bed and stopped, looking at her in a way that forced her to tug the slipping blanket back up. Something was terribly wrong, Ginny could feel it in her stomach as it churned and tussled, making her take an almost impulsive step back.
Draco arched his brow when she took a step back and matched it with two of his own steps towards her. "So, you think you would be safer from Potter in your own house than at Malfoy Manor?" he asked her, creasing his brows into a slightly hurt expression, which faded almost instantly.
"Umm…" Ginny watched with growing unease as Draco took yet another step towards her. What is he trying to do now? Intimidate me? She jutted her chin up and looked at him defiantly. "Yes, I do. Besides, I stayed here because Harry wouldn't have thought to look for me here, but now that he knows where I am, there is no actual reason for me to stay here," Ginny replied evenly, all this time taking hesitant steps aback as Draco approached her confidently, nodding his head thoughtfully, as if agreeing with every word she was saying.
Finally Ginny took her last step back and found herself nudging the wall behind her that obviously signified the fact that there was nowhere to back away now. Her stomach lurched once again as she noticed the small smirk grace Draco's features when he realized she couldn't move back anymore.
He took another step and another, finally stopping less than a foot away from her. "You want to leave this well protected estate, which is surrounded by dozens of powerful wards, visible and invisible guards in order to move into a shaky structure that rightfully acquired a moniker 'The Burrow', with your parents, Weasel King and if I'm not mistaken, a pregnant Granger as your guardians in order to protect yourself from the blasted Boy Who Lived, who managed to defeat the strongest of dark wizards?"
Well, when you put it that way… Ginny thought bitterly, inwardly rolling her eyes. "Yes, Draco… there I could feel more comfortable," she said, dismissing his solid argument with a mere wave of her hand.
Ginny tensed immediately when Draco took the last step forward, closing the distance between them. Her heart skipped a beat right before it started pounding in a deafening manner and Ginny found herself paralyzed by his closeness. Her stomach churned and her breaths became difficult. Somewhere at the back of her mind some small voice was trying to coax her back into seizing control over her own body, but its attempts were futile since a few heartbeats ago she had surrendered to his warm breath, allowing it to chase away anything irrelevant for that particular moment, which included small nagging voices of reason.
He smirked as she gulped hard, gaze slipping to the small pink lips that quivered slightly, and licked his own lips absently. "And here you feel uncomfortable?" he whispered hoarsely, but gave her no chance to reply as he leaned even closer and smothered her possible answer with a kiss.
Author's Notes: It wasn't that bad, right? I mean the ending…
Well, enjoyed? Don't forget to tell me! Didn't enjoy? Tell me anyway! (Don't forget to leave a full name, address and any last words ^_^ )
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