A Tale of Two Phobics by EverVengeful
Summary: Sometimes, all one needs is a stranger's ear and one finds oneself revealing the most embarrassing things. Through the fears, Ginny and Draco manage to find a stranger's ear in one another.
Categories: Works in Progress Characters: None
Compliant with: None
Era: None
Genres: Angst, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 3 Completed: No Word count: 3639 Read: 6266 Published: Dec 29, 2006 Updated: Mar 15, 2007

1. Chapter 1 by EverVengeful

2. Chapter 2 by EverVengeful

3. Chapter 3 by EverVengeful

Chapter 1 by EverVengeful
Achluophobia: Fear of Darkness

He always keeps a candle burning by his bed as he sleeps, and probably always will. It has never been a problem; he has always been the richest boy in the dorms, and the richest boy can do whatever he wants. But what the richest boy can’t do is keep other boys from snickering about him behind his back, saying that he’s a sissy, can’t even go to sleep without a light. But sometimes all the richest boy can remember is being frightened and alone in the dark, hearing the rush of water over bloody hands and wands and his father’s laughter. And so he sleeps with a light.

Acousticophobia: Fear of Noise

The Great Hall is disgustingly loud and when she first entered it, she wondered why her brothers had never warned her. Girls relate gossip to each other while the boys try to pretend they don’t care, and they are all revoltingly loud while doing so. Every time she walks in, it takes her every nerve not to bolt. No, at school she much prefers the quiet of her dormitory, without noises to intrude on her thoughts. When at Twelve Grimmauld Place, as she is now, her room also offers solitude, but a stray bump in the night is enough to give her nightmares.

Agateophobia: Fear of Insanity

His father is a gibbering mess now, capable only of regurgitating what the Dark Lord has already declared. Azkaban, even without Dementors, did something to him, turned one of Voldemort’s highest and proudest servants into a servile creature with intelligence roughly equivalent to that of a house-elf’s. Worst of all he does not know he is changed, but cries in bewilderment when his son beats him at chess. Insanity has wrecked him and in turn his son is lost.

Agliophobia: Fear of Pain

Charlie deals with dragons all the time and she has no idea how he does it. How can he think of beauty when at any moment half his flesh could be scorched off with no warning? And how can everyone else in her family so resignedly accept a fight with the Dark, when such a conflict is guaranteed to end only in misery, and most especially pain? She would gladly rush to certain death for her brothers, for her parents, for any Order member, even —she flushes— for Harry, but she cannot make herself accept pain. And that kind of cowardice is unacceptable; especially now, when war is imminent and everyone is expect to put his or her life on the line. She must flee, for if someone finds out about her weakness she will be instantly shunned.

Agoraphobia: Fear of Leaving a Safe Place

He knows, quite suddenly, that he will snap if left to do this much longer. He simply cannot continue in this way; feeding his father in the morning, noon and night, dodging the Dark Lord’s orders for the rest of the time and comforting his mother with what precious little time he has left in the day. The whole ordeal has turned into a leeching, unbearable monotony, and he knows the only way to break it is to leave. But how to do that? If he’s honest with himself, he already knows; he must simply pick up and leave, taking little (if anything) with him. Yet a small part of him protests, telling him that he will be in more danger if he flees, that the Dark Lord will immediately suspect him of conspiring. This is the ugly, cowardly part of him, and he knows that, but right now it is also the largest part of him.

Androphobia: Fear of Men

She knows she’s being ridiculous. Twenty miles away from anyone she has ever known or loved with what little money she had in the first place already spent on a night’s shelter and all she hopes is that the man sitting in the corner booth won’t come any closer. She doesn’t know why he’s here; this is, after all, a boardinghouse for women in trouble, hardly a gathering place for the less-fair sex. But so far the only men she’s met that haven’t hurt her are either related or still boys, so one can forgive her for being frightened.

Angrophobia: Fear of Anger

He is cold, tired, hungry and about to explode, but years of self-control rein him in. The sight of a frightened girl across the room nearly sends him over the edge again; after all, who is she to look as if he’s going to stalk across the floor and demand her head on a platter at any moment? Then guiltily, he remembers that he is, after all, in a boardinghouse for women that his mother tearfully gave him directions to; he has no right to be welcomed here. So once again, he pulls down his ire.

Aphenphosmphobia: Fear of Being Touched

And now, so help her, he’s coming towards her, actually approaching her and she’s nearly shaking. The only thing giving her any reassurance is that he’s clearly as nervous as she is; his drink is sloshing over the edge of the cup with the ferocity of his tremblng. He puts his goblet across from hers and takes a seat. Her hand is on the table, and when he reaches to touch it she immediately recoils. Then she remembers how nervous he was about coming to her, and if he can recover from that then she ought to be able to surmount this fear.

Arsonphobia: Fear of Fire

When he’d decided that he was being ridiculous and that it couldn’t possibly hurt to ingratiate himself towards the girl, he hadn’t realized quite how close her table was to the fire. But it is very close indeed, and already he can feel his face heating up. She must be feeling it too, for her palm is damp and sweaty under his. Clearing his throat and hoping his voice won’t come out too soprano-ish, he says, “It’s hot in here. Would you like to go outside?”

Astrophobia: Fear of Stars

She nods briefly and they rise simultaneously. Once outside, she follows him to a nearby wood that she assumes is an Apparation point. When they are just outside the wood he stops and looks at her expectantly. Unsure of what he wants, she clears her throat and says, “It’s a nice night, isn’t it?”

He jerks his head in a tense movement she assumes is a nod. “Lots of stars.” He pauses. My mother…” He grits his teeth and bows his head for a moment before continuing, “My mother used to tell me that the stars were angels, watching over me. She told me the angels were hers, so she could always see me.” He gives her an awkward half smile that Ginny can’t bring herself to return. Wherever Molly Weasley is, Ginny knows she would be ashamed to see her daughter.

Atelophobia: Fear of Incapability

Conversation lapses for a time until Ginny can no longer stand the silence and asks, “So, why did you come here?” For a moment, she considers pointing out that this is, after all, a boardinghouse for women and he hardly has any place here. Then she remembers that even if he is a man, he is still a Malfoy and therefore guaranteed to be welcomed by anyone who doesn’t want to be killed. Ginny is so caught up in her own thoughts that she barely notices when he answers her question. “I couldn’t quite manage being what I needed to be.” He smiles and she wants to cry. “My mother needed me, my father needed me, You-Know-Who needed me, and I couldn’t quite deal with it all.” He looks her in the eye. “You understand, don’t you?”

Athazagoraphobia: Fear of Being Forgotten

Now he turns Ginny’s question on her, and she blanks. In theory, she knows why she left; she didn’t want anyone to know how cowardly she was. But it’s dark, and Malfoy is a nicely anonymous person to confess to. “I felt a bit out of place.” He nods in what she assumes is understanding. “You know, Harry, Ron and Hermione—"

He interrupts. “You mean the Dream Team?”

“The Golden Trio, no less.”

“The Gilded Gryffindors.”

“The Voldemortargets.” This makes him laugh and she takes a moment to feel unexpectedly gratified. She also takes the time to notice that mirth turns his normally unremarkable features astonishingly handsome. Before her thoughts can linger on this, she continues. “Anyway, they have their own thing, and so does the rest of my family, with the Order, and I thought I would just kind of fall through the cracks.”

Autophobia: Fear of Being Alone

After their respective confessions they are both embarrassed, looking at the stars to avoid each other’s faces. Finally, he makes a show of yawning and stretching and announces that he will head back inside. Unsure of whether he is trying to escape her or if he is genuinely tired, she tells him that she will stay out a bit longer. Finally, however, she realizes that after their conversation she almost finds the silence unnerving and rushes back to the boardinghouse to find him. And find him she does; indeed, almost trips over him as he’s sitting on the steps. “I wasn’t sure I could face being the only man in there,” he says shyly. “I needed an ally.”

Ginny gets an unexpected rush of warmth from knowing she is wanted. Willing her hand not to shake, she proffers it. He takes it and swings himself up, and together they walk inside.

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Should this be continued, or should it end here? Feedback is always appreciated.
Chapter 2 by EverVengeful
Author's Notes:
I apologize for both the (lack of) action and the wait.
Basiphobia: Fear of Falling

It has been ten years now since she met Draco Malfoy at the boardinghouse, and she is almost embarrassed by how little she has changed. She’s just as shy and as awkward as ever. Just as sheltered; after Draco had convinced her to return to her family, she had done so and was painfully relieved to realize that she would not even have to fight. Her life has been embarrassingly bloodless, and every funeral she goes to for a member of the Order makes her want to scream.

Ginny went to Narcissa Malfoy’s funeral too, five years ago, but she’s almost certain that he doesn’t know that. Which means he also doesn’t know that she saw his father at his worst, saw Lucius throw his head back as Narcissa’s body was lowered into the earth and start shrieking, “Cissy’s dead, Cissy’s dead!” And it was that moment, more than anything that made her leap to his defense when his trial came around just a year later. After all, she reasoned to her father, how much damage could he have done if he had to take care of Lucius all the time?

But in the end her argument was ignored and it was only his lawyer (and money—some things never changed) that kept Draco out of Azkaban.

Nevertheless, Ginny still has a sneaking suspicion that her family won’t forget how instinctively she defended him. And she knows that Hermione, at least, knew that Ginny was sneaking into the back of the Wizengamot to watch Draco’s trial and not shopping, as she had claimed. And so she is forced to walk a tightrope between what she thinks her family knows and what she’s almost certain they don’t.

+++

“Check.” Lucius’ voice is painfully excited, as high and wispy as that of a child. Barely able to contain his excitement, he rocks back and forth in his chair as Draco pretends to contemplate his move. Finally, he moves his king squarely in front of his father’s rook. “And mate!” his father shouts, pumping his fist.

Draco smiles and offers his hand. Grinning, his father takes it and begins to shake furiously. “Well played, my son, well played. Perhaps another match?” Draco shakes his head. “Perhaps that’s for the best. After all, I do have business to conduct; business that concerns your mother as well. Fetch her for me, will you?”

Resisting the almost constant urge to grab his father’s shoulders and literally shake reality into him, Draco nods and exits the room. Entering the bathroom, he splashes cold water into his face and stares into the mirror.

It has been ten years since he met young Ginevra Weasley at the boardinghouse and it shows. No, that’s not quite right; it has been five years since his mother died and that is what shows. Without Narcissa to pester him to take care himself, he has started to let himself slide. Draco has not, of course, become uncouth, for he is still a Malfoy, and some things will never change. But his shoulders are stooped in a way they never used to be and the bags under his eyes are more pronounced. His robes are as expensive as ever, but now the green accents no longer ‘complement those silver eyes’ as Narcissa would have said; instead, they serve only to showcase the green tinge in his skin.

His father, fortunately, is blissfully unaware of anything that has happened for the past eleven years. Yet Lucius has changed as well; he can no longer remember anything for more than a few minutes and just a few nights ago, Draco caught him wandering through the gardens in the middle of the night. When he had shouted at his father and asked the older man why, exactly, he had felt the sudden urge for a midnight stroll, Lucius had started to cry like a silver haired, colicky baby.

So he is now in much the same position that he was when he first met Ginevra. True, his mother is no longer there to both comfort and be comforted; and Voldemort is gone. But he feels the same insecurity that he did ten years ago, the same feeling of hopelessness whenever he looks at his father.

His father was his symbol of everything worth having; of expensive robes, of money, of purity and more than anything else, of power. As was expected, Draco has taken his father’s place in the world; indeed, he has already nearly doubled Lucius’ fortune. Yet everyday, the evidence of what can happen to a man with such power and wealth is shoved into his face. Such a man can be rendered incapable of feeding himself, forced to depend on his son and servants for survival. Such a man can fall.
Chapter 3 by EverVengeful
Catagelophobia: Fear of Being Ridiculed

She is embarrassed by how much she is primping. Curling her eyelashes and wearing more makeup than she ever has before is far too much effort to put into lunch with a former Death Eater. Why should it make any difference if she confessed a few embarrassing truths to him one night? A night she was sure he had forgotten until the letter had landed on her desk at the Ministry.

One sentence (Draco Malfoy requests the pleasure of your company for lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, kindly send acceptance to…) and he had managed to anger her as quickly as he ever did in their days at Hogwarts. Kindly send acceptance? No mention of a refusal whatsoever, as if the very concept was foreign to him. Which it most likely was.

She takes one last look in the mirror. Her ire has given her cheeks a healthy blush that, combined with the makeup she has already applied, makes her look like a literal scarlet woman.

Sighing, she soaks a tissue and begins to dab at the rouge off her cheeks. She’s not entirely sure why she’s even bothering. It won’t really matter how much makeup she wears or fancy her clothes are, Ginny knows this. Regardless of what she does, Draco Malfoy will find a way to make her feel like a piece of dirt he could as easily tolerate as stamp under his shoe.

+++

He’s been waiting for a little over five minutes now and it is becoming a struggle not to show his impatience. Of course, Draco has always known that the Weasleys were inexplicably inferior when compared to one of his class, but surely even they realize the values of promptness?

Ah, and here she is, Ginevra Molly Weasley herself, stumbling through the door with hair disarrayed and cheeks flushed. Breeding dictates that he not show his irritation, and he stands and pulls out her chair.

She flops most ungracefully into the chair and begins to rattle off a litany of what kept her from punctuality. He bears this as long as he can before interrupting her with an abrupt, “Surely you wondered why I asked you to come here?”

Ginny’s voice stops short and her head literally reverberates in a way he would find most amusing were he not quite so annoyed. Suddenly shy, she nods.

“Yes, well—” a waiter comes with a menu—honestly, it’s about time—and Draco pauses before continuing, “I thought you might wish to talk.”

She nods slowly but doesn’t quite meet his eyes. He coughs and clarifies, “About the first time we met.”

The ends of her mouth turn upwards ever so slightly and now she’s studiously avoiding his gaze as she responds, “As I recall, our first meeting ended somewhat disastrously.” Ginny looks up and sees his confusion before adding, “You made fun of me for loving Harry Potter and I ran away in tears. Don’t you remember? His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad…yes?”

Draco laughs and she instantly remembers the first time they truly met, the time Draco was talking about, the first time she realized how much more handsome he looks when he laughs. “How could I forget? You had such promise as a poet, I can’t imagine why you ever stopped sharing your gift with the world.”

They pause for a moment to speak into their plates (salad for her, fish for him) and then the only sound is the scraping of forks on plates. Draco waits until her mouth is full before speaking again. “You know what I meant, Ginny. About the first time we met.”

She nods and swallows. “Of course I do. I just don’t really understand why we would need to talk about it.”

“Well….” For the first time, he falters. “I thought you might want to.”

“How wonderfully selfless of you. A less gracious person might point out how terribly uncharacteristic that is.” Her voice trails off and she smiles ironically. “But I’m hardly that sort of person.”

Draco can feel his mouth purse, and before he can stop himself he’s talking in his very best lord-of-the-manor voice. “Very well, Weasley. If you don’t want to speak of it, then we shan’t.”

The following silence becomes excruciatingly noticeable as the dining room begins to empty out, until they are the only two left. A waiter comes to collect their plates and without the porcelain to stare at, they simultaneously resort to staring stonily out the window.

Ginny is the first to try and break the silence. Pointing to a small, black-haired child running after his mother, she asks, “Isn’t he cute?”

“I don’t like children.”

“I see.” Another pause. “Anything you do like?”

“Sunshine. Puppies. Gifts. Blondes. Money.” He’s still staring out the window

Ginny snickers and turns to face him. “In that order?”

“Hardly.” Draco meets her eyes.

She laughs again before looking at her watch and saying, “I need to go, I’m already five minutes late. We should do this again.“ Draco snorts. “No, I mean it! Other than that little…skirmish, your company wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.”

“Someone less gracious than myself might consider the former an understatement and the latter less than complimentary.”

They both laugh again and Ginny takes her leave. A few minutes pass—long enough to insure that she will have already Apparated—and Draco leaves as well, Apparating from just outside the Cauldron.

The house he arrives at is much more dilapidated than he had expected. No matter what his mother told him, Draco had never found it credible that the same man who lived by method and reason and physical laws at school would allow himself to live in a house that seemed to defy all those laws and reason by its very existence. And yet he does, inhabiting a broken-down brick house with ivy crawling all over one wall. The plant would have been considerably more picturesque were it not quite so obvious that the vines were beginning to infiltrate cracks between the stones; already, several bricks have fallen out and are littering the overgrown yard.

Stepping over an iron gate that has long since been warped out of shape, Draco manages to hack out a path towards the front door. Raising the serpent’s head on the knocker, he pounds three times. The door immediately creaks open to reveal a familiar, if slightly withered face. But if the face has changed, the voice has not; it’s as soft as it ever was and still strokes every syllable as if the sound itself is a gift and the voice is loathe to part with the treasure. That sound still raises the hairs on Draco’s neck as the man says, “Draco? What brings you to Spinner’s End?”
End Notes:
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Again, apologies for the delay.
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