How sharply can hate cut? Draco doesn't want to know.
Categories: Long and Completed Characters:
Oct 27, 2004 Updated:
Dec 24, 2004
Epilogue by madalene3666
Standard disclaimer applies, only the plot is mine.
It's Christmas Eve, I'm two thousand miles from my family and I wanted a happy ending. I tried not to be too sappy but if I have, forgive me.
Draco Malfoy stands in Diagon Alley, trying not to be staggered by the rush of emotion he feels at being back in Wizarding London after so long. His mother is next to him, gripping his arm tightly, trembling slightly with her own emotions as she looks around.
“Sometimes I thought we’d never see this again, Draco,” Narcissa whispers, “It’s changed, hasn’t it, or is just me?”
Draco pats his mother’s arm, not sure if it’s for her comfort or his own, and answers only a fraction above a similar whisper, “No, it’s not just you, Mother, we’ve both changed and it’s changed as well.”
They walk to a small shop near the Leaky Cauldron where Severus Snape waits for them. Narcissa clasps his hands gratefully, thankful for his support, while Draco and Snape exchange glances, a wealth of feeling silently transmitted between them. With Snape at their side, they make their way to the Ministry where Arthur Weasley, the Deputy Minister of Magic, is waiting for them. He’s polite but not warm; there’s still a lingering distrust of the Malfoy name.
Arthur Weasley has papers for both Draco and his mother to sign and has a slightly offended air when Draco insists on reading all of them carefully before signing. Draco doesn’t blame Arthur Weasley but nonetheless this is his inheritance and he’s not about to let the Ministry take one Knut more than it can. When everything is signed, Arthur gives Narcissa a small smile and welcomes her back to England and then shakes Draco’s hand and wishes him good luck.
Now that they have the signed papers from the Ministry, they head to Gringott’s, conscious of the curious looks directed at them, generations of Black and Malfoy pride enabling them to ignore them. With Snape still at their side, they sign the necessary papers the Goblins have prepared, transferring the Malfoy vaults from trusteeship to Draco’s control. It’s done now; all of the Malfoy holdings are now back in Malfoy hands.
By the time the three return to the Malfoy townhouse near Diagon Alley, Narcissa is exhausted and Draco’s head is pounding. Malfoy Manor has been closed since they left and both Narcissa and Draco have agreed that until things are more settled, they’ll stay in the London residence. After a light supper, Narcissa embraces Severus Snape, murmuring her thanks, and then bids both men good night. Draco leads Snape to the study and pours them each a snifter of Muggle brandy.
“How are you feeling, Draco?” Snape asks, his eyes hooded as he examines the man he considers a son.
Draco looks at Snape, the man Dumbledore chose as their Secret Keeper, and wonders how he’ll ever repay him for protecting him and his mother all these years. He sighs and then hesitates a moment before answering, “I’m really not too sure just how I feel. It’s only just sinking in that we’re really back, that we’re not in Kansas anymore.” At Snape’s quizzical look, Draco gives a slight shrug and says, “Sorry, just a Muggle expression I picked up in Boston from an old movie.”
“It’s to be expected … after all, you left when you were seventeen and it’s been five years. That’s a long time at such a young age. And of course …” Snape’s voice trails off; not sure of quite how to proceed.
“And of course Mother and I are now faced with the fact that things weren’t as they seemed, at least not at the end,” Draco finishes, a strained note in his voice. “It’s difficult for us both, but we’re coming to grips with it slowly. I think it will take longer for Mother; she keeps second-guessing herself, wondering if he would have done the same if we hadn’t left, wishing that she could have been there with him at the end to tell him that she loved him, no matter what.”
Both Draco and Snape are silent for a few moments, thinking of Lucius Malfoy and how little anyone really knew him, even his own family. Lucius Malfoy, right hand of Voldemort, Death Eater incarnate – that’s what everyone thought, including Narcissa as she fled England with their only child, the Malfoy heir. No one ever thought that Lucius Malfoy would turn against the Dark Lord, secretly circumventing Voldemort’s plans, leaking critical information at opportune times, urging suicidal forays into Ministry strongholds. By the time Harry Potter faced Voldemort in the final battle, Lucius Malfoy had turned the Death Eaters into a fractured, ill-prepared force, most of them ready to bolt at the slightest sign of trouble.
No one suspected any of it and it might never have come to light had it not been for Lucius Malfoy deflecting a fatal curse thrown at Nymphadora Tonks and Ron Weasley and then preventing other Death Eaters from assisting the Dark Lord as he and Harry Potter battled. As Voldemort fell and the realization hit her, Bellatrix Lestrange had howled her rage and sworn her Dark Lord would be avenged. Striking Lucius Malfoy fatally from behind, she then escaped from capture, along with several other Death Eaters. It had been deemed unsafe for Narcissa and Draco to return until she was finally captured only two weeks earlier, still plotting her revenge.
“He knew, Draco, that’s why he did what he did. He loved your mother and you, and the fact that Narcissa felt she had to leave to save you from his fate brought him to his senses. Your father made his choice, Draco, and he paid for it dearly; he lost his family and he atoned for his sins the only way he could,” Snape says gently, knowing that nothing he can say can ever make up for the destruction the Dark Lord wreaked on the Malfoy family.
Narcissa Malfoy is not the only one who regrets not being able to tell him goodbye and that they loved him, it’s a regret Draco will live with for the rest of his life. He closes his eyes; the Malfoys have gained back their fortune, gained back at least some of the honor of the Malfoy name, but the price has been high, oh so very high. He doesn’t allow himself think about the price he paid, the five years spent in exile, the loss of any chance of happiness with the girl who still haunts his dreams. No point in regrets, he thinks, and pours another brandy for each of them.
“So, what’s been going on in the English Wizarding world?” he asks, not really caring but not wanting to discuss anything more personal.
Snape gives him a strange look and then says, “Do you remember Ginevra Weasley from Hogwarts?”
He barely avoids spilling his brandy; the question has caught him totally off guard and he just manages to answer, “The youngest, right? Yes, I vaguely remember her.”
“Draco, for a Slytherin, you don’t lie very well. You don’t think that Dumbledore knew about the two of you?” Snape says with a snort, “I must admit that I was surprised at first when Dumbledore told me that Miss Weasley and you were meeting, but after some consideration I realized that she probably was one of the few people that could relate to what you were going through.” Snape swirls the brandy in the snifter, staring at the liquid as if it could reveal many secrets. “I had feared that we would lose you to the Dark Lord, a fate I fervently wished you would avoid. Miss Weasley earned my eternal gratitude for the part she played in helping you determine the path you should take.”
“Who else knew?” Draco manages to choke out, trying to recover his composure, “I thought we were quite careful to keep it a secret.”
Snapes allows himself a small smile, answering, “Only Dumbledore and I. We both agreed that it would be best to keep it to ourselves. Miss Weasley can be very close-mouthed herself; none of her family or friends knew about her meetings with you.”
Draco pins Snape with his gaze and asks, “So why are you bringing it up now? That was five years ago. Ginny Weasley is just a part of my past.” The words sound false, and he doubts Snape will believe them, but it’s all he has to give at this point.
“Ginevra Weasley was one of the most talented Potions students I had and she entered the Healer program immediately after leaving Hogwarts. She finished the three-year course in two years, even with taking time from her studies to volunteer with the Aurors. For the last two years after the defeat of Voldemort, she’s been specializing in a new type of therapy designed to help assist physical recovery by alleviating mental distress. Oddly enough, the therapy uses a Pensieve. Interesting, isn’t it?” Snape says, watching Draco for his reaction.
“Interesting but not surprising,” Draco says, his gaze softening as he thinks of Ginny Weasley, “She was determined to heal herself, and then to heal me. It seems only natural she would carry that on.” He pictures Ginny as he last saw her, long red hair tied back in a pony-tail, petite form drowning in hand-me-down robes from one of her brothers, bright, open smile as she hugged him. A feeling of warmth rushes through him and he closes his eyes, wanting to see her again, to have her arms around him once more.
Snape keeps his gaze on Draco’s face … the Malfoy mask is gone and Snape feels a pang as he sees the naked longing instead. “Draco,” he says tentatively, “I know you cared for Miss Weasley, and I believe you still do. There’s nothing now to prevent the two of you from being together if that’s what you both want. Why don’t you go and see her?”
“And why don’t you keep your thoughts to yourself,” Draco says with no real malice, “This isn’t a fairy tale and there’s no happy ending for a Malfoy. What I want and what I deserve are two different things, and I don’t deserve someone like her. I’ve too many shadows in my past, Severus, too many shadows.”
“And she doesn’t? Draco, let her make the decision as to whether you deserve her or not. She’s unattached, in fact she hasn’t had any romantic involvement since well before she left Hogwarts … almost as if she were waiting for someone.”
Draco doesn’t reply, simply sips his brandy and stares into the fire. After a while, Snape murmurs his goodbye and leaves Draco sitting alone in the shadows of the study … he has done what he can.
Ginny Weasley puts down the newspaper, the photo of Narcissa and Draco Malfoy in Diagon Alley staring back up at her. The photo’s blurry, as if the photographer just barely had time to snap it before his subjects moved out of range, but she can make out Draco’s features well enough to see that he’s grown into his looks. The boy with the pale, pointed face and tall, lanky frame has become a handsome, well-built man, his demeanor proud and confident.
She wonders if she’ll see him now that he’s back, wonders if he remembers the words he wrote to her just before he left. She hasn’t forgotten – the scroll is carefully preserved in a small box nestled in one of her bureau drawers. As she looks again at the man in the photo, she shakes her head; there’s no reason for such a man to seek out Ginny Weasley. The words he wrote so long ago were likely written in haste, gratitude mistaken for love as he hurried to flee with his mother. No, there’s no reason for such a man to seek her out. Now that he’s back with his looks, his wealth, his restored family status, he’ll return to his place in Wizarding society, a place she’s never been and has never wanted to be.
As she prepares to leave for her shift at St. Mungo’s, she wonders if she’ll ever get it right, if she’ll ever find someone to care for her at the same time she cares for him. All those years of yearning for Harry Potter and now five years of yearning for Draco Malfoy; all of it pointless. Of course, the bitter irony is that after so many years of being oh so over Harry Potter, he came to her shortly after the defeat of Voldemort, telling her that they could now be together. Ginny grimaces as she remembers the backlash from her family at her rejection of the seventh Weasley son … of course it would have been far worse had she confessed that her rejection was based on her love for a Malfoy.
Arriving at St. Mungo’s, she goes into her office and dons her work robes, thankful that the hospital officials have lifted the restriction on colors other than lime-green. She finds the color jarring to her patients and both her robes and her office are a range of soft blues, shades more pleasing and calming to the senses. She feels empty and unsettled and knows that it’s due to seeing that photo in the newspaper this morning. For five long years, Draco Malfoy was beyond her reach and now he’s not; he’s back in England and foolish as it is, she wants to see him. She forces her thoughts back under control and starts reading the file on her first patient of the day.
Draco is somber as he sits at the table in the morning room, sipping his coffee slowly and perusing the newspaper. He spent a restless night, tossing in part from exhaustion but mostly from his conversation with Severus Snape. Ginny Weasley, the girl he’s loved for so long but without any hope … he can’t let himself believe that there might be a chance.
Narcissa walks into the room, her gaze brightening as it lights upon her son. She too spent a restless night, tormented as usual by the choices she made and the doubts she still has on those choices. The conversation she had with Severus Snape two years ago is forever seared in her mind. He had come to Boston to tell them that although Voldemort had been defeated, they were still in danger due to the twisted plans of Bellatrix Lestrange. He had then gone on to tell them about Lucius and the unexpected part he had played in Voldemort’s defeat. She had sank back into her chair, stunned, while Draco had simply walked out of the room, his face a stony mask.
Two years and not one day has gone by without her wondering what the outcome would have been had she not fled England with Draco on learning that Lucius had escaped from Azkaban. Would he have still turned against Voldemort? Would he have fled England with them? She has so many questions … and all of them without answers and no possibility of ever getting them.
Not all of them, she thinks as she looks at her son, she now has one question that has an answer. She often wondered why Draco made the choice not to follow the Dark Lord, but he never told her and she never asked as the fact that he’d made that choice was enough for her. It wasn’t until last night when she had gone to the study to find a book to help her fall asleep and had inadvertently eavesdropped on Draco and Snape that she learned about Ginny Weasley and the part she had played in her son’s life. She made up her mind then … if Draco has any chance of happiness, she’ll move heaven and earth to make sure he gets it.
She sits gracefully into the chair opposite him and watches as he picks at his breakfast, systematically destroying the toast without taking a bite. Finally she speaks, her voice rousing him from his preoccupation, “Draco, go and see her.”
Draco looks up at her, his face frozen for a moment and then says slowly, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mother.”
Narcissa holds his gaze as she replies, “Oh yes, Draco, you do. You know exactly what I’m talking about. And before you ask, Severus didn’t break your confidence – I overheard the two of you talking last night. I owe Miss Weasley a great deal it seems.”
She watches as her son’s face flushes slightly and his gaze drops back to his plate. She reaches across the table and takes one of his hands and squeezes it softly as she asks, “Draco, why don’t you want to see her? And don’t tell me it’s because you don’t deserve her … that’s rubbish and you know it.”
He meets her gaze again and the pain in his eyes startles her for a moment. How has she missed this? Has she been so caught up in her own grief and doubts that she’s totally overlooked her son?
“She helped me because that’s the sort of person she is, Mother, nothing more. Yes, I cared for her and I still do, but I resigned myself to the fact long ago that it’s not possible. You saw how Arthur Weasley acted yesterday. It was a Malfoy that almost got their only daughter killed in her first year. How do you think they’d react to a Malfoy wanting to marry her?”
Narcissa starts in surprise and looks at Draco fearfully, knowing the answer before he even says it. “Yes, Mother, Father was responsible for Ginny Weasley’s possession by Voldemort. He slipped her Tom Riddle’s bloody diary when we ran into the Weasleys in Diagon Alley. The Weasleys and Dumbledore weren’t just persecuting Father by blaming him for her possession – he did it,” Draco says bitterly. “Add to that my own run-ins with her brothers and Potter … well, I’m not going to embarrass her by confessing my feelings. I know how she’ll react.”
It’s difficult but Narcissa manages to push away the shock of finding out yet another crime by Lucius to concentrate on her son. “Draco, you may think that you know how she’ll react but you don’t … and you won’t until you see her and tell her. Believe me, it may be painful to find out the answer but it’s far worse not to have the chance to ask the question,” she says in a low voice, pain in every syllable. “Take the chance. What do you have to lose? You have everything to gain.”
Draco turns his gaze away from her and stares out the window. After a long moment, he nods his head slightly and then rises and leaves the room. Narcissa sits at the table and hopes fervently he will do as she has urged. If Ginny Weasley loves her son as he loves her, she’ll personally fight the Weasley family on their behalf.
Draco stands outside the entrance to St. Mungo’s, wondering if he’s mad to even consider this. Better to know, he tells himself, than to have the same doubts and regrets that his mother has. With that in mind, he says firmly, “Draco Malfoy to see Ginevra Weasley,” and the moth-eaten dummy in the dusty window beckons him in. He walks to the desk and is directed to the third floor, the witch behind the desk looking at him strangely as she gives him directions. Once he’s standing outside the door to her office though, his resolve falters and he almost turns away. Finally he knocks and at her muffled command to come in, slowly opens the door.
Ginny’s sitting at her desk, head bowed over the file she’s reading, the sunlight from the window turning her hair into a nimbus of fire. She looks up and her eyes go wide in shock as she sees Draco standing there. There’s a moment of hesitation and then she rushes to him and hugs him tightly, tears trickling down her cheeks. His knees almost buckle at the sensation of having her arms around him again and he clasps her to him, resting his cheek against her hair. They stand that way for a moment and then before he can think better of it he lifts her face to his and kisses her. His pulse races as she returns the kiss, deepening it, one hand rising to cup his cheek.
They’re both out of breath by the time they pull apart and stare at one another. “You’re back,” she murmurs, “You’re really back.” She traces the contours of his face, wonder in her own face as she feels him, really feels him after all this time.
“Ginny,” he says, a hitch in his voice, “I love you so much … I’ll understand if you can’t love me back but I had to tell you … I couldn’t not say it, not let you know.”
She closes her eyes and just feels the joy of hearing him actually say the words, and then with a strangled cry, throws herself back into his arms. “Draco, you idiot – who the hell do you think I’ve been waiting for?” She’s laughing and crying at the same time and to Draco’s astonishment, so is he. It’s a long time before either of them can speak, their lips and bodies saying what their mouths can’t. Finally they manage to break apart and collapse on Ginny’s worn office sofa, her nestled in his lap, arms clasped around his neck.
“Marry me, Ginny. Please, make me happy,” he says, his mouth against her neck.
“Of course,” she answers, tilting her head so that his mouth meets hers, “I want to be happy too.”
Narcissa Malfoy sits in the formal rose garden of Malfoy Manor, Severus Snape beside her, awaiting the bridal procession. Just behind Narcissa are her sister Andromeda and her husband Ted, along with their daughter Nymphadora and her fiancée, Remus Lupin. There’s a smattering of Draco’s Slytherin friends as well, Blaise Zabini, Pansy Parkinson and Greg Goyle the most notable. On the other side of the aisle are the Weasleys and all their family and friends, outnumbering the Malfoy side by a substantial number but Narcissa doesn’t care. Her eyes are fixed on her son, standing in front of Dumbledore, waiting for his bride.
Ginny Weasley comes down the aisle with her father, almost rushing him in her haste to get to her future husband. Arthur Weasley carefully transfers her hand to Draco’s and has to swallow hard to restrain the tears he feels at seeing the two of them, so obviously in love. His daughter, his precious only daughter … now the wife of a Malfoy; it’s not at all what he imagined for her but it’s what she wants.
As Dumbledore intones the words that will bind them forever, Draco looks deeply into Ginny’s eyes and wonders how he, a Malfoy, could have been so blessed. What had started as a selfish mission to deal with his hate had resulted in his finding the love he had sought for so long.
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