It was late Saturday night and Ginny was still awake, thinking about Draco. Something terrible had happened overnight, but she couldn't imagine what. Her eyes searched the finger-like shadows on the ceiling for an answer, as the trees outside her window swayed and their shadows scraped their fingers across the white of the ceiling.
Her stomach growled angrily. Draco had meant to go shopping with her that day, but he'd been in a sort of depressed daze all day. She couldn't figure out what could bring out this demon in him so quickly, snapping him from an almost joyous mood into possessed, frightening anger. She'd ended up eating with Narcissa, which was worse than eating alone, with Narcissa's cold eyes staring at her angrily.
She could hear her door slowly creak open and she stayed extremely still, almost catching her breath in her breast. Her eyelids quivered as she tried to peek through the tiny slits she allowed her eyes see through. Narcissa was in the doorway, her pale aquamarine robe drawn crookedly around her, the buttons in front done all wrong. She had been in a hasty hurry.
Ginny felt her heart rise into her throat worriedly. Narcissa was turning, looking around her room, her face covered in shadows. Ginny couldn't be sure where Mrs. Malfoy's eyes were directed, for she couldn't see them beneath Narcissa's curtain of silver-streaked hair.
Narcissa stepped up to Ginny's desk, her fingers pressing down on the papers there and spreading them apart. One of Narcissa's hands landed on the sill of the window, feeling the parapet, then she tugged it up lightly. She was checking if Ginny had locked her window, Ginny guessed.
Narcissa then seemed to leaf through the papers on Ginny's desk, letting out a low grumble. Then, she turned and stared into the closet area of the room, as if expecting to see something there. Ginny could feel her heart thudding heavily – the alcohol was all stashed in there! Narcissa would think she was stealing from them!
Mrs. Malfoy didn't seem to concern herself very much, she let out a tired sigh and left the room, wobbling slightly on her feet. The sleeping potions must have wrecked some havoc on her nerves, to keep her awake so late at night – or perhaps so early in the morning would be more appropriate a phrase.
It was a Sunday now, and Ginny and Draco were both going to go to the market in Diagon Alley to purchase some food. The light bled through her eyelids as she tried to debate whether to risk faking illness and staying in bed, or risk real danger to her physical wellbeing by going with Draco.
Ginny stood from her bed and folded the sheets delicately before she got herself dressed in a plain pale mint green dress. As a last touch, Ginny pulled her hair back in a yellow barrette. She turned to the doorway and walked out, down the staircase, and eventually into the kitchen.
Draco was already there, sitting on a chair, lacing up his black boots. " Are you ready?" He asked, glancing over her outfit.
" I'm ready." She said.
Draco stood and took out his wand. " We'll Apparate to Diagon Alley. They have a huge Market Sale there today."
" Oh." Ginny felt color rushing to her cheeks. " Can't we walk? It's so lovely outside."
His eyes met hers, the coal black pupils in the middle of the ashen irises seemed to look right through her and examine her thoughts. " You don't know how to Apparate."
" So what if I don't?" Ginny asked, testily. She wasn't in a very good mood for joking about it. She had been humiliated many times in front of the graduating seventh grade class because of it.
" We can use Floo powder then." Draco suggested.
" Alright." Ginny nodded. " We'll do that."
The market place was a burst of color, smells, and sights. People were everywhere, mostly older women and servants. It was a Sunday, and a lot of wizards slept late, and the workers of their family went out to get things from market. Ginny took in a deep breath and felt her nose fill with the scent of cinnamon.
" Ah, you like it?" A lady nearby said, lifting a jar of cinnamon sticks. " It fills the room with the scent."
" It's lovely." Ginny replied, halting in front of the cart.
The lady took a step back, seeing who was accompanying Ginny to market. The tall, slim young man with the slightly far away look to him was none other than Draco Malfoy. Even out to market he wore a handsome blue suit and an elegant overcoat atop it.
Draco darkened, seeing the look of surprise that spread from the cinnamon stick cart over to the neighboring carts. Soon half the market seemed to be secretly eyeing them. Though haggle and business continued, it did so in a reserved and suspicious manner, as eyes darted to the odd couple.
" Over here, please!" A woman was calling them to her cart.
" Do you know her?" Draco asked Ginny. She felt his breath against her ear and it made her uncomfortable. She ducked her chin into her yellow scarf and shook her head no.
They stopped in front of the woman's cart. She slowly slid the giant kerchief off her display case. In it, rows and rows of glistening engagement rings and wedding rings were shelved according to the stone or metal. The woman eyed Ginny over thoughtfully and asked Draco: " Is this what the Malfoys have been busy over in their mansion?"
Something incredibly icy seemed to fill Draco's voice: " She works for me." His tone was absolutely frigid.
Ginny added, feeling put down: " He's introducing me to the responsibilities of the Malfoy household. I'm sort of a… a trusted caretaker of their house."
"Ah." The lady glanced down at her rings again, then pestered on: " Oh, please, are you sure you're not expecting any sort of romance in the future?" She winked at Draco. " The ruby and gold one with the diamond inset is very popular for young ladies…"
Draco bristled. "… With a Weasley?" He scoffed. " That would be the day." He walked off, giving Ginny a short look-over to see if she was following. Ginny had no other choice but to do so.
There was another cart nearby, which was laden with spices. Draco took some sugar and placed it into the basket Ginny held. Ginny was engrossed in the strings of red pepper hanging from the little ceiling of the cart. " These things are awful spicy. They can make or break a chili."
Draco looked at her. " Would you make it? Chili, I mean?"
" Sure I would."
" We'll take a string of the peppers." Draco said to the old man running the cart. Draco flipped the price tag over on the string of peppers. The price was astoundingly high – equal to about a hundred normal peppers.
" I couldn't - -" Ginny exclaimed.
Draco shrugged. " I'll buy it anyway." He placed it in the cart and then handed over a handful of coins to the vendor. They moved away from the cart.
" Well, now I don't know how to thank you." Ginny admitted. Her face was flushed.
" You can begin by keeping your delight at bay." Draco glanced over his shoulder. A good forty faces turned away from his back. " These old biddies are going to let their tongues fly the second we leave the market."
After browsing around a while longer, filling their basket with food, they headed to Gringotts, where Draco said he wanted to deposit his weekly paycheck. As they turned the street, they heard a quick hush and then an explosion of murmurs and angry whispering behind them. Draco gave Ginny a knowing look and they headed for Gringotts.
As they burst through the glass doors of the bank a goblin approached them. " Ah! Mr. Malfoy, you've finally decided to come?"
" Pardon?" He asked, finally.
" We've sent people from the Recollections department before but they were greeted by the housekeeper…" The goblin saw Ginny, quivering like a leaf behind Draco. " …ah! Pardon, I didn't know you had a lady with you."
Draco shook his head. " You can speak in front of her. What seems to be the problem?"
" Ah… come with us, sir." The goblin said, finally, a bit strained. They moved into the safe-house entrance, where they sat down in a cart. The goblin closed the giant door and they rolled down the winding tunnel and eventually they stopped in front of the Malfoy safe.
" Your account is terribly overdrawn already." The goblin said, clambering out of the wagon and slowly unlocking the safe. " Your father didn't really look to the future, did he? He barely deposited any savings. He lived in the today." The goblin blinked in distaste. " Should I escort the lady up to the waiting room?"
" It's fine, I want to see the safe." Draco insisted.
The goblin took the meager satchel of money Draco handed him and then pulled open the metal door of the safe. " This won't even cover a quarter of what the Malfoys already own." The goblin warned them both. He placed the tiny sack down in the center of the safe and then walked out again, his short stubby legs rushing quickly beneath him.
" Most of your money goes for property tax, Mr. Malfoy." The goblin muttered angrily. "I'm afraid we'll have to take your mansion next."
Ginny looked at Draco. Not a shard of emotion seemed to pass over his tranquil expression. There was something martyr-like about his stance, as he stood there, drawn tall, his back straight, his chin held high and his eyes straining painfully to keep them nonchalant. " I suppose that's it then. Thank you."
The goblin nodded. " Damn you Malfoys." He muttered on to himself, setting the cart again so that it would go backwards and to the top. As they sped away into the darkness of the tunnel, Ginny caught a last flicker of Draco's face before darkness set in. He was wiping away an angry tear.
They were walking home this time, thoughtfully. They had opted to walk and enjoy the countryside, though so far it was mostly bitter silence and the loud sound of their feet crunching through the red and yellow leaves that carpeted the ground.
Draco suddenly turned to Ginny. He acted to abruptly she froze in her place, wondering if he'd attack her. " I'll be realistic here, we can't afford the mansion anymore." Draco said, his eyes cold as stone. He wasn't in the least bit in the mood for friendly negotiations. He was in a murderous rage inside, she could see it.
" It would be for the best." Ginny said.
" Hell, it won't." Draco resumed walking and she rushed after him in her heels. " My mother would never allow us to rent an apartment. Nobody else can know about how pathetic we've become. No one at all." He clenched his fists angrily.
Ginny suddenly felt an idea dawn in her. She could see how tense and absolutely furious he was, and she wanted to do something, anything to relieve his anger. " You can stay with my family." The weight of her words hit her just then. She mumbled on, feeling obligated to, now that she brought it up: " I… I mean, Bill, Charlie and Percy are all living elsewhere, and Fred and George just moved into the spare bedroom over the store. There's plenty of room now."
" Oh, no…" He paled so heavily that even his lips were a diluted pinkish-white. " I couldn't do that."
" It wouldn't be a problem…"
" It would be a problem for me!"
Ginny walked silently, kicking the leaves around. The brief flashes of still-green leaves were rare now. December was nearing, any day now it would snow. Usually they had snow this late into fall already.
Draco sighed. " I'm sorry. I didn't want to offend you or anything, but there's one thing certain – a Malfoy doesn't sink to those levels."
" Those levels?" Ginny cried. Her cheeks were hot and her eyes glossy with tears. She felt insulted beyond normal hurt. " Don't you get it? You're worse off than my family's EVER been!"
He looked down at his feet, staring at the tumble of colors beneath him.
" Not only that, but you're so depressed – you need rest." Ginny added, to show a professional concern for Draco.
He was silent.
They kept walking. Ginny's long yellow scarf danced around them, like a snake awakened by a snake charmer. It whipped and twirled in the intense wind.
" I can consider it." Draco said. " I don't have any other options, do I?"
" Narcissa won't like it, though." Draco continued.
" Trust me." Ginny tried again. " It won't be so bad."
He looked at her. " I'll trust you."
It was late evening again. Ginny had just finished feeding Lucius and afterwards she joined Draco in the kitchen to drink tea. Draco was writing a letter to Crabbe and Goyle again. Ginny hadn't even found time to reply to Lavender, though she didn't know what there was to say without betraying the Malfoy secrets.
Draco glanced up at her. " How do you spell 'ineffable'?"
He nodded in thanks and scribbled the word down.
A series of angry crashes and thumps sounded upstairs. Draco pretended not to hear, but Ginny stood up. " What is that?"
" I don't know." Draco replied.
" It's not Mr. Malfoy, he's… he's secured to the bed."
" Just forget it."
" What was it?" Ginny headed upstairs. " What if it's the fool that's opening all our windows? I most certainly want to…"
Draco grabbed her hand and pulled her back into her seat.
" What are you doing?" She exclaimed.
" Sit still for more than a few seconds, will you?" He whispered hotly to her. " Just stay here."
The thumping upstairs came again, this time really loud. Draco was reddening in embarrassment. Suddenly, the sound of windows getting pulled open. Ginny stared at Draco, wide-eyed. " You know who it is! How could you not tell your mother?"
He shook his head. " You don't know what you're dealing with here."
" Tell me." She demanded.
Draco sighed. " There's no point getting you concerned."
" I'd like to know who's being so rude as to frame me daily, opening the windows like an idiot." Ginny told him crossly.
Draco folded his hands together. " All right, but don't say I didn't warn you…" He took an unsteady breath into his breast before continuing: " Well, you see, my mother… she has a somnambulatory problem."