Considerately Killing Me by applecede
Summary: Breathing, he considered, was so difficult all of a sudden. 'Course, he always had trouble breathing when she was around, but now it was painful.
Categories: Works in Progress Characters: None
Compliant with: None
Era: None
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 2 Completed: No Word count: 3019 Read: 5993 Published: Aug 23, 2004 Updated: Sep 04, 2004

1. Considerately Killing Me by applecede

2. Chapter 2 by applecede

Considerately Killing Me by applecede
She stares at him, brown eyes angry.

He ignores her and slides his arm around the leggy brunette’s waist, bending his head closer to her ear and whispering some choice words. He receives a giggle and flirtatiously coy look in return.

His eyes are opaque and impassive; his face is stoic and inexpressive. She sees this, and she glares back at him. The brunette, however, does not and is too focused on his whispers of sweetly worded yet emotionlessly delivered nothings.

He can sense her aggravation building, and he is gleeful.

“Malfoy,” she says impatiently, finally cutting in when the brunette curled her hand behind his neck. “As you’ve quite obviously forgotten, you’re supposed to be tutoring me, not wasting my time.”

“Oh, be quiet. And reverse that last statement,” snipes the brunette. “You’re wasting Draco’s time…and mine. Pity you’re too stupid to understand Potions correctly, otherwise you wouldn’t be here taking up our time. And yours, I suppose,” she adds on an afterthought, “though I don’t see what else someone like you could have to do besides homework. Quite the pathetic little thing, aren’t you?”

She was seething, he observes. She splutters, “You – ”

He cuts her off smoothly. “She’s got a point, unfortunately. Snape wants me to tutor her. If she doesn’t show an improvement, he’ll likely speak with me about it. And I’m not going to fail him, even it is about tutoring a Weasley. Wait for me later, Jocelyn.”

He touches his index finger to her full lips; Jocelyn, the brunette, smiles seductively, her green eyes dark and expectant and anticipating as she nods.

“I’ll wait for you.”

“You know the password to my room?”

She nods again. “Hurry, Draco.”

His gaze moves to her. The redhead. “I will.”

Jocelyn leaves the room, taking with her the smell of flowers and her long, wavy and tumbling russet colored hair. But the sensation of fresh air and indefinite spaces and promise, and the smell of cinnamon remains, along with glorious red hair and a slender figure.

She is staring at him from behind her seat at the table, the open Potions book in front of her. He moves to stand slightly off to the side behind her, studying the page with concentration.

“Well, what do you have a problem with?” he demands irritably. “I’m not going to stay here the entire night.”

“I know,” she says bitterly. “I heard.”

He glances at her coolly, and he wants to ask her if she’s jealous. He wants to ask her if he succeeded. He wants to ask her if she misses him half as much as badly as he misses her – because half of that would be enough for him.

He wants to tell her that he doesn’t require much love or care or kindness. He wants to tell her that it wouldn’t really trouble her to be with him. He wants to tell her that he would make it easy for her to be around him.

Because he would. He will. He will make it so that she’d be happy to see him, happy like he is when he sees her.

He hopes like hell that she will ask him why he’s doing this to her. He wishes she would explode at him – so he could explain. Because then it would be her bringing the subject up, not him, and she wouldn’t see that she’s all he can think of. He doesn’t want her to know that, not when she’s living without him and breathing so easily.

She drove him mad at every breathing moment, and so he took advantage of every moment he met her in the halls and every time he tutored her to drive her to insanity.

“I don’t see why mushrooms are so important for this antidote,” she says flatly, stabbing viciously at a sentence in the book.

He thinks, why won’t you say something? Why won’t you scream at me? That way I could tell you everything.

So he tries to make her angrier.

“The answer should be obvious, Weasley,” he nearly snarls disdainfully, but somehow manages to temper his tone, yet at the same time he allowed his mustered contempt to be clearly heard. “Haven’t you noticed the bloody pattern yet? Poisons and antidotes are invariably connected. The reason why so many people can match a poison to its cure so quickly is usually because there’s a bit of what’s in the poison in the antidote. But I guess you were too daft to even realize that.”

She bites lip, frustrated, but says nothing. Instead, she bends her head over her scrap of creamy parchment and begins to answer the first question.

He leans over her shoulder and criticizes and corrects. And he keeps looking at his watch pointedly.

Finally, she slams her quill down on the table, snapping the tip off and damaging it. Her shoulders are shaking, from anger, he thinks, and relief overwhelms him. Finally, he exulted. He has planned what he is about to say for many nights now.

“Why don’t you just leave, Malfoy,” she says heatedly, “and go to your stupid Jocelyn.”

He opens his mouth eagerly to tell her so many things. Like – I don’t want to go to Jocelyn. I was just using her to see if you still cared because I bloody well couldn’t have guessed otherwise. Like – forgive me, Ginny. I’ve missed you and I swear, I’ll make this work for you, for the both of us. Like – I love you.

But he doesn’t dare say the last time, and before he can even say anything, he realizes stupidly – and too late – that her small, slim body is shaking from the force of her tears, and he freezes.

Yes, he wanted her anger, anger he could handle, but not her hurt.

He stares, torn.

“Ginny…” whispers the silver-eyed, handsomely fair boy with light blond hair.

“Shut up, D-Draco, just shut up,” she snaps, her voice failing her and becoming weak and stammering. She bolts to her feet, cramming her materials back into her bag as quickly as she can. “I’ll be studying with Hermione from now on. She won’t mind, and she’s not as busy now that her Charms exam is finished.”

She wipes her eyes furiously with the back of her hand as she glares defiantly at him in a last attempt to reclaim her anger and put away tears. “I was wrong about you. I was stupid, so stupid. I thought that you – ” She stops and stares at him. “I’m sorry I ever bothered you. I won’t waste your time anymore, or let you suffer in my presence, so go back to J-Jocelyn.”

“No, Ginny, wait,” he calls lamely, his first attempt ever at pleading. “I wanted to tell you – ”

“Save it, Malfoy,” she retorts, “for someone who can stomach your lies. I can’t be around you anymore.”

“Ginny!” He tries to snatch at her sleeve, but she is small and quick and she darts away from him, out of his reach. “I didn’t mean – ”

“Draco. Miss Weasley.” Snape is in the Potions classroom suddenly, a frown on his face, which he directs at the petite redhead clutching her belongings. “I believe your tutoring session has not yet finished.”

She lifts her chin. “I am capable of studying on my own.”

“Your essays and exams state otherwise, and the choice is not yours to make. You will allow Mr. Malfoy to finish tutoring you for another hour, or he will tutor you for the rest of the school year. Beginning tomorrow. You have a Potions test tomorrow, and if you don’t achieve a satisfactory score, I will ask Mr. Malfoy to lend his spare time for the rest of the school year. Am I clear, Miss Weasley?”

He wonders frantically, which he would rather prefer, and decides that he hopes she’ll walk away.

She looks at him, and something changes in her eyes. For a moment, he is caught up in his hope and dreams and desires, and he abandons logic and reason and his analytical mind; he offers her a smile.

Walk away…I’ll help you tomorrow tonight and on Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons and nights. You’ll pass Potions, I swear. But walk away from me…

She doesn’t. She sets her things back down again. Her books and papers blur before her, and she opens the wrong book, half expecting Snape to say something derisive and condescending.

But the Potions teacher has already left, leaving her alone with him.

He stares at her, his face fallen and unexpectedly exposed, bared open by his pain. She would do anything to stay away from him, he thinks numbly, and his smile fades.

And he wonders why he’s still breathing.
Chapter 2 by applecede
Yeah, breathing, that was the key. Breathing, he considered, was so difficult all of a sudden. 'Course, he always had trouble breathing when she was around, but now it was painful. So painful. Not a sharp pain, not a dull pain - just explicit, undiluted pain that made his head spin. He felt ill and cut all over.

A week ago, things had been different. No less complicated or hard, but things had been drastically, radically, beautifully different. Things hadn't been so fucking tragic, so fucked up. Things had been insane and angry and cold and so damned secret, but at least they had been right. He was sure of that now; things had been right.

She is hard at work, and he stares at the back of her head with a feeling of settling hopelessness. The Slytherin in him begins to rise, and this time, it is not an act, it isn't pretense for anyone who might be listening or watching. This time, he has no reason for it other than the fact that he wanted to quell the overwhelming emotion of misery she had caused.

"So," he says in a hard voice, "this is it."

She doesn't say anything, only hunches her shoulders, and he is about to speak again when she says in a low voice, "Just be quiet so we can get this done with, and you can go to that - Jocelyn." She says the name derisively.

He doesn't feel like telling her the truth now. He narrows his eyes. "And that bothers you, doesn't it? Knowing that she's the one who'll be with me?"

She remains silent. This gives him hope. He breathes in deep, noiselessly, and smiles weakly, prepared to follow through with this hope that she can be swayed.

And then she crushes it again, easily, effortlessly. Quietly and calmly, like maybe she had planned it. Maybe she had. Her words cut too much to have been thought up on the spur of the moment - or maybe they had been, and that thought terrifies him even more. He is unaware of his face, with his attractive, banished angel patrician looks, falling. But fall it does because he is so readable now, to her.

"Draco," she said detachedly, like she had already let go, like she had let go, "Just go. It's over. We don't have to pretend anything anymore. I'm not going to keep crying and having nightmares, and you won't have to keep comforting me. I don't need you anymore. Please don't feel guilty. I won't."

He thinks, how can you say that? How? Because he bled guilt. This guilt and sympathy was as dry as dust, but that was all he seemed to eat. He was choking and dying from it, had been for months now, ever since that wintertime.

When she kissed him, he swallowed the pain from her, and by the strength of his guilt, he went back for more. Mouth to mouth, he breathed the shadows from her. While he set her on the road to recovery, the malicious armor around him faded, the vicious ripostes lightened. He became weaker and weaker until here he was - as empty as before, only this time, this emptiness bothered him.

How can she say that?

He tries again. "Ginny, please, just listen. There wasn't anything else I could have done."

"I don't want to talk about this," she says swiftly.

"Well, I do," he tells her, frustrated. "We have to talk about this."

"No," she says, slamming her book shut angrily and rising. "You have to talk about this. Talk away, but I'm not going to listen. It's just to make yourself feel better."

His eyes widen slightly, and he wants to strangle her, to force away her breath as she is doing to him. How well does she wound; how well has she learned.

His cool gray eyes become shuttered, and he leans forward, and he shakes her, hard, by the shoulders, wanting to break her in favor of smashing something.

"You don't know what you're saying," he glares, seething. "You have no idea - I - are you accusing me of using you?"

She stares wildly back at him. "Am I? Maybe I am. Were you?"

"You used me," he says through gritted teeth, shaking her with each word. "I let you use me." Did she know how hard that was? "I was trying to help you."

"You wouldn't have had to," she spits back, "if you had helped me in the beginning! But you didn't. You stood there, and you just - and it was worse, later, it's worse now," she cries, slim shoulders shaking with the force of her emotion. "It's worse now because all I know is that you felt bad. All those things you said to me - it wasn't real. You didn't mean it. It was just your idea of therapy. You know what I thought? I thought you wanted to be with me. I went to sleep every night thinking, Draco Malfoy, Slytherin Head Boy, wants to be with me. And then later on, Draco likes me. And then, Draco - "

He shakes her hard again, wanting her to stop. His face is as anguished as hers, and all he knows is that he wants her to stop.

She keeps going anyway. "Draco loves me. I can't believe it." She draws in a trembling breath. "And I love him too. I love him, so, so, so much, I'm scared. But then he's so wonderful; I'm not frightened anymore. I'm never frightened when he's near me. I used to be so afraid of him, and I don't know how I could have been." She stares at him with crystalline brown eyes. "That's what I think every night before I sleep. That's what I thought."

He reels back, stricken. As his grip on her loosens, she jerks back, wrapping her arms around her.

His mouth opens, but he doesn't know what he will say. How did it come to this? How did he lose reason and calculated judgment?

He remembers with desperation a time before when he was the one with the power. He knew how to push her buttons, how to persuade her, how to make her stumble into him, how to make her need and want him. He fought her for that power, but Ginny, with her Gryffindor-bred courage and redhead temper, fought him back in her own ways. For every inch he gained fighting, he lost another twelve to her, and it showed.

It showed in the way he would become distracted when she entered a room. It showed by the way his head snapped up when he heard her voice. It showed by the way he would tremble by her hand, her lips, her voice, her presence. It showed in his voice, how the silver-tongued Draco Malfoy would become a stammering boy at the look in her eyes. It showed when he was so patient, oh, so patient when he helped her with her homework. It showed when he had to fight to let her go in the morning, when he would always convince her to linger a while longer in his bed.

He fought and he fought for those precious inches, even as he sought to help her and repair the damage. He fought, and he fought standing, until he was beaten back to his knees, until he fell, conquered, at her feet.

"I never lied to you," he says numbly, dizzy. He's so bloody dizzy.

She only looks at him.

"Is this about forgiveness, then?" he raises his voice. "Is this about not forgiving me?" Desperation slips uninvited into his normally commanding, knowing, sure voice. He hates it, but he doesn't mind it now. "You're not going to forgive me."

"I don't know. I don't know. You don't know what I felt back then - " She gazes at him with obvious helplessness, and he feels angry.

Couldn't she see? Didn't she know? She was the one with the power now. Her hands are so small and fragile, but that doesn't matter much because with the snap of her finger, she can tear him apart. All it takes is the turning of her head away from him, the tiny frown upon her lips, the hooding of her eyes - and he can be crushed, crushed and broken so easily beneath her heel, beneath her hand, beneath her mouth. It doesn't take much to break him, he realizes that now. Her breath on his face is enough to bend him to her will; it wouldn't take much for her to snap it.

His chest tightens. Breathing, he reminds himself, that's the key.
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