The dam broke the instant the words left her lips and she felt as though her legs had suddenly turned boneless beneath her, her body falling to the floor, her back sliding quickly down the stone wall with none of the graceful drama described in the novels she'd read. Her bum hit the cold floor with a shock of pain, but it didn't register. Ginny curled in on herself, her forehead falling to her upraised knees, her sobs echoing off the walls. He didn't say a word, didn't yell, or scream, or accuse her of anything. He didn't make a sound.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she wept, over and over, though she wasn't even sure he was still there to hear her. Maybe he'd left, maybe he'd left her there, maybe he wanted nothing to do with her. It would make more sense than anything else had if he'd simply fled, but several minutes later, when she finally choked down the tears and lifted her head, he was still there.
She wanted to take that as a good sign that he hadn't run away, hadn't simply walked out in anger or denial, yet any hope she might have felt withered before it could grow. He hadn't moved, hadn't spoken, hadn't taken his eyes off her. The complete lack of a response sent her stomach plummeting to her knees. Why hadn't he said anything? Why hadn't he reacted? She'd expected him to sneer and ask how it was any of his problem, or to glare and call her a liar, or even demand to know how he could be sure the child was his.
She wasn't at all prepared for his silence, his stillness. She let her watery gaze dart over him, take in the unreadable expression on his face, and let the tiny bit of hope that had festered when he'd responded to the owl die inside her.
"You don't have to- I mean, I didn't tell you so you'd-" she broke off again, unable to keep looking at his stoic features. "I just thought you had a right to know. I don't expect you to do anything. It's my problem."
As she forced herself to speak, Ginny curled into herself even tighter, hoping she'd stop shaking long enough to pull herself to her feet, but she'd barely gotten the last words out of her mouth before he was suddenly there, kneeling on the dirty stone floor in front of her, his face set and his words echoing with finality.
"The hell it is."
Her head snapped up, brown eyes widening as they met fierce grey. "That is my child, and I will be involved in its life. A wizard does not turn his back on his child, regardless of the circumstances under which it was conceived. No pureblood would back down from his responsibility as a father. It is beyond improper; it is an insult to the bloodline."
She simply stared at him for several tense, silent moments. The Weasleys were a pureblood line, but they had never existed in the same circles as most other families, so she had rarely come across the strict manners and behavioral codes that even now ran deep in the oldest Wizarding lines. Yet she knew that was exactly what she had just done. It was that knowledge, the snippet of a conversation she had once overheard between her father and uncle, and the steely edge to his expression that had her nodding wordlessly in agreement. And surrender.
He gave a short, jerky nod in response, then rose with a suddenness that had her almost jerking back, yet only took the slightest grace out of the movement. Seeker reflexes, she thought absently, stubbornly, desperately, refusing to let her mind think of another Seeker she knew, one she was going to hurt so badly when he learned of her situation, and how she'd gotten herself into it. The blond's restless movements helped her maintain her focus, such as it was.
Draco paced back and forth in tight, stiff circuits, one arm crossed over his chest, its fist providing a perch for his other elbow as he propped his free hand under his chin. The intensity he'd displayed seconds before remained etched into his features, the scowl that twisted his brow looking harshly thoughtful. Ginny had a moment to wonder what he was thinking before he laid the answers at her feet as his gaze swung back, nearly pinning her to the wall.
"We'll need to speak with the Headmaster so arrangements can be made for you towards the end of the year. You're two months into the pregnancy, right?" He barely waited for her to nod. "Then you'll be just over six by the time classes let out. Madam Pomfrey should be able to oversee things until then, but I'll owl our family Mediwizard and he'll arrange for a capable Midwitch to see to you after that. Mother can arrange the other details if you'd like, the birthing announcement and such. They'll have to wait until after the wedding of course, but we should be able to fit it all in after the school year is out if you'd rather not deal with the students."
He continued speaking, as much to himself as to her, detailing all the things that needed to be done, including himself in each and every one of them. She hadn't expected him to react so calmly, so surely. He had automatically claimed the child as his own, expressed an unshakable intention to be involved in not only the child's life, but her pregnancy as well. A scenario such as this had never entered her head in the week since she'd realized she couldn’t have simply gotten off schedule, but had indeed missed two cycles in a row. Perhaps that was why the word 'wedding' was such a shock.
She should have expected it, should have seen it coming. Having a child out of wedlock could ruin a witch, prevent her from finding minimal acceptance even in the closest of families, but with purebloods, it was even worse. It meant complete banishment, meant becoming a stranger to everyone who knew you for the shame it brought on the family name, an institution guarded above all else in the oldest lines. The Malfoys were certainly such a line, and while the punishment for the wizard involved in such a scandal was not nearly as bad as it was for the witch, it was quite logical for him to not even consider alternatives.
If he had denied paternity, had refused to claim the child, it would be different, as his name would prevent the insult of a test to verify the child's father. But he wasn't denying it, wasn't refusing. So it was quite simple, even if it did leave a knot of fear in her chest. The fear stemmed from more than just the idea of being married to Draco Malfoy for the rest of her life; he was wealthy enough, after all, that if it came to it, arrangements could be made that they would be forced only into so much interaction as was required for him to maintain a presence in the child's life. It also came from the idea of telling her family that she was going to be married to Draco Malfoy for the rest of her life— that she was going to be having his child.
Her future husband didn't notice her already-pale face whiten even further as she contemplated the repercussions. At least not until he'd turned on his heel and paced back towards her, his eyes narrowing at the sight, his feet carrying him swiftly to her.
"What? Are you ill? Do you need a toilet?" He looked somewhat disgusted by the thought, but didn't move away. "Should I get Pomfrey?"
She summoned the strength to shake her head, though her ears still rang with her rapidly pounding heart. "No, I was just thinking."
He appeared unconvinced, almost suspicious, and entirely ready to race to the hospital wing at a moment's notice. "About what?"
She stared at fists so tightly clenched her fingers had turned completely white. "My family. They hate you, your father." Brown eyes widened and grew moist with her mounting panic. "What are they going to do when they find out? What if they hate me too? What if they kick me out?"
Before she had a chance to get hysterical, he laid both hands on her shoulders with an imperceptible hesitation. "Well, if they kick you out, you'll simply move into Malfoy Manor a bit early." He caught her look of surprise and almost smirked a little. "Well, where did you think we'd live once we were married?"
Draco did allow himself the smallest expression of amusement at her sheepish look. "As for hating you, well, just hate them back. If they turn you out knowing full well that you're legitimizing yourself and our baby, then they deserve it. There isn't really any more we can do besides keep things quiet and marry as soon as school lets out, and if they expect more than that, they deserve nothing less than your hatred. And seeing as you'll be a Malfoy, I'm sure you'll be very good at that, if nothing else."
The smug, almost proud smirk took the sting out of any double meaning that might have been found in his last statement and she couldn't help the ghost of a smile that tugged at her lips. Apparently satisfied with the response, and having used the extent of his comforting abilities, the blond stood with a nod and held out his hand to help her to her feet.
She allowed him to help her up but made no move to follow him when he turned towards the door. He stopped, turned, looked at her questioningly, with only faint annoyance showing on his handsome face. "What? We should see Pomfrey while there aren't any other students about. You need an overall exam, and some vitamin potions."
She regarded him silently for a moment. "You don't like me." It was said as if she was no longer sure of its validity, and was confused by that.
Draco sighed and resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "You are the mother of my child, a Malfoy in blood, if not yet in name. That earns you a certain respect, even from me. Besides, you haven't been nearly so intolerable the last three months."
Another insubstantial smile at his not-quite-sarcastic words, and she moved to follow him. Her steps were a little less than steady and he quickly held out his arm in another display of the polished, pureblood manners she had never learned. She knew enough not to turn him down, though, having some idea of the insult it would give him, and slid her hand around his upper arm, steadying herself as they made their way through the deserted halls, up the surprisingly cooperative staircases, and into the hospital wing.
End Chapter Two
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