Ready to Fix Things
The window-rattling shrieking rang through her ears half past four in the morning. It was the fourth day at the Malfoy's residence, and she rarely saw Narcissa, and meanwhile Draco seemed to walk by her like a hollow vessel, barely managing a greeting. She clambered out of her bed, feeling stark-naked in the bitter cold despite her thick woolen nightgown. She yanked her hair back in a ponytail, for she had the unfortunate experience of trying to pry her hair out from beneath a spastic body the night before. Ginny turned and saw that a dark figure was suspended in her doorway.
Her first instinct was to scream, then she noticed that it was the willowy form of Narcissa. Narcissa breathed out: " My husband…"
" I know." Ginny replied, feeling harried, and then moved past Narcissa. Narcissa's eyes were closed in what had to be a muted anger, according to Ginny's perceptions of it.
" Mmm." Narcissa murmured darkly.
" I'm sorry." Ginny added, hopelessly, already rushing down the hallway with her head bowed down in embarrassment. She pushed open the door to Lucius's room and saw him, twisted in the bed spread again, his eyes scanning the room wildly as if it were the first time he saw it.
She looked around as well and then stared in horror – all the windows in the room were wide open and the curtains waved about angrily. Lucius, meanwhile, was coughing as if overtaken by a fit. " Oh!" She gasped and began to slam the windows shut. The raucous this caused sent all the roosting pigeons and owls in the eaves of the rooftop to rip themselves awake and flutter into the night sky.
Lucius kept shrieking, as if he were a banshee, his eyes rolling up into his head so only the yellowed white of his eye was visible. " Shh!" Ginny whispered frantically, pushing the bedspread back. " What on Earth is going on in this house?" She cried out at Lucius in frustration. His chapped lips parted and he seemed to grow silent, his eyes focusing on her.
" Potter - - doesn't deserve to live." Lucius stammered, as if some random neuron fired in his brain, sending the forgotten message to his useless tongue. " Potter…" His eyes grew milky and he fell silent.
Ginny trembled as she helped change Lucius into new bedclothes. Afterwards, she sat by his bed and told stories, seeing that her voice soothed the frayed nerves that existed both in her and in Lucius. She told some silly tale about a greedy Cornish pixie, and then one about a kind werewolf that taught children despite his secret disabilities. When she finished, she added, in afterthought: " Poor Lupin… he did come back in the Seventh Year to our class." She felt so caught up in her tale, she was truly spitting it out now. " Ah, how excited we all were. Especially Ha…" She hesitated. " Well, all of us."
" Really? Everyone?" A masculine voice replied.
The response snapped Ginny back to her senses. She stared at Lucius, but he remained in a lulled silence. She turned and there he was, Draco, standing in the doorway like a romantic figure from one of her novels. Once again, his stance and his appearance reminded her of those books – it seemed almost cliché, with his pajama shirt's buttons opened revealing his eloquent collar bones, his smoldering eyes shining in the darkness. Of course, then again, he was paled and on the thin side, something a romantic figure shouldn't be. He also had a very fragmented personality, which mostly came across in a pout or a sulk. When he approached closer he also appeared to be horribly confused.
" Were you airing the room out?" He continued.
" No." Ginny replied. " It's the strangest thing. I came in here to tend to Mr. Malfoy, and then all the windows were wide open."
" Are you sure it wasn't you?" Draco asked, nervously.
" What are you accusing me of?" She snapped. Then, she added humbly: " I do my best to follow the rules that Mrs. Malfoy laid down."
" Has it happened before?"
" Not that I know of."
" Has it happened to you?"
Draco shook his head quickly, almost too quickly. " No, it hasn't. That's why it's so, ah, so unusual."
Ginny looked back at Lucius. Could he really not be paralyzed as they thought? Perhaps he was even feigning his entire illness. Then again, that seemed highly improbable. Lucius had nothing to gain by being the great martyr. It just brought pity and humility on the Malfoy family, both from others and from themselves.
The subject quickly drifted to a new topic, by Draco's prompting statement: " You're quite the story teller, aren't you?"
" I try."
" That story about Lupin – I sort of did feel bad for him." Draco quickly made a hard face. " I was also happy, too, to see Potter miserable because of it."
Ginny sighed. " Isn't it time to forgive things?"
He didn't reply, simply paced to the window. His body glowed in a tranquil bluish light as he looked out at the sudden mist of rain that began to come down from the cloud-strewn sky.
Ginny continued: " Some things won't change, but it can get better if you get over them."
Draco put his hands down on the parapet, his forehead resting against the pane of glass in front of his face. She saw the trail of a tear glowing on his cheek in the poor light, and said nothing else other than goodnight. Draco nodded in reply. He didn't want her to see him in a bout of self-loathing and pity, not her nor anyone else had to know how he felt.
Narcissa waited impatiently as Ginny finished up lunch. It was a plain little meal, mostly of sweet buns and hot tea. The rain hadn't ceased all morning, and now it was pounding so angrily against the roof that the sound rang in their ears. Ginny had noticed that the roof over her room was leaking, and she had set down her pink wicker trashcan (lined with a plastic bag) under the leak, but it was a very poor attempt to stop the leak. She waited a while, until they were all settled around the table, before putting down her request. "I've been thinking. If I could look through the library for a book on patching roofs, because…"
" Absolutely unnecessary." Narcissa cut in harshly. " My husband's grandfathers put the roof of this house together, back when the wizarding world was going through the Depression. Draco, dear, you tell her."
Draco had been stirring his tea thoughtfully the entire time. The Ministry was closed for the day, due to renovations of the main hall. He'd spent the day creeping back and forth to the kitchen to drink some sort of liquor. Nothing heavy-hitting though, because he simply looked miserable, but not drunk. Then again, there was a whole new meaning to drunk when it came to Draco. He simply reached the lowest point in the pit of depression.
The silence was split apart by a crack of thunder outside. This gave Malfoy the boost to say: " I suppose some patching from the inside would do. I wouldn't go as far as to alter the roof itself."
Ginny dared on: " It's an old roof. You can't tell me it's been in prime condition for so long now."
" It is -- was -- Lucius's job to patch the roof." Narcissa said, venomously. " I think that just a bit of interior sealing would do."
Ginny's red head bobbed up and down in silent agreement. She reached out and took another sweet roll for herself and then she dunked it into her drink. " I've also been meaning to bring something else up, now that I'm at it."
Draco became alert right away. His fingers stilled, after tapping a secret code out on the table for a few minutes now.
" What would that be?" Narcissa asked, taking a big gulp of her tea.
" The windows on the second floor, mainly. I find them open at the most random times. I have no idea what's causing it." Ginny said. " I'm hoping it's nothing serious, maybe just a silly hex."
" Don't be silly." Narcissa exclaimed. " You probably open them yourself and then forget. What with your hare-brained air-out-the-rooms idea."
Ginny bit her lower lip. " I'm sorry. I'll have to be more careful then." She didn't mean it, though, Draco could tell by her expression. He could bet that she'd try to get to the bottom of the mystery, no matter what.
Ginny, meanwhile, was beginning to get suspicious about Draco. He was neurotic, and possibly even crazy. He could very well be waking up in the night and running around in a frenzy, snapping windows open. Anything could be possible, nowadays, with the Malfoys.
It was much later, nearing eight in the evening, and Ginny sat alone in the kitchen, reading a letter she had just gotten from Lavender Brown. Lavender had become her confidante later on in Hogwarts. It was an unusual friendship, but then there was one thing that bound Ginny and her together – they had both lost a pet. Lavender had her Binky, a rabbit, which a fox had killed, and Ginny had in her childhood lost a rabbit as well. After getting into a conversation together, they saw how different and yet oddly alike they were.
The letter was unusual and filled with questions:
Hello, it's Lavender here. I bet you can tell by my owl – it's so pretty, isn't it? I named her Trelawney, I still insist she was the coolest professor. So her name's Trelly. That's because the engraver at the pet tag shop could only go up to 6 letters a line. He, he!
It's very dull with my life so let's skip to yours. I hear you're living with Draco! That's so gross! Tell me, does he pick his nose or maybe he has some other disgusting habits? I mean, he picked on everyone so much you'd assume there must be something unforgivably wrong with him, and he only teased so as not to feel inferior in his own mind. Trelawney taught me about that sort of stuff. She says it's a form of defense mechanism.
Do you like the smell of this paper? I bought a new perfume, Parvati says it reeks like all hell but I think it's pleasant.
Ginny took a whiff of the paper and recoiled. It not only gave off a powerful peach smell, it also seemed laced with the pungent scent of fresh ink. Lavender had used scented ink ever since the sixth year, something Snape had teased her about all the way up to her graduation, where he told the audience that Dumbledore should have printed hers out with scented inks.
How is Malfoy like, anyway? Is his whole family screwed up? Everyone says there's something wrong with them nowadays, since they were like the greatest Voldemort supporters ever. I like my job here at Hogwarts, I'm apprentice to Trelawney now! I used to be an assistant! Can you believe it? I'm so excited!
Seamus is a really nice boyfriend, sort of annoying sometimes. He has this thing he does with his socks, the way he leaves them all over the place, that really bothers me. Maybe Draco does that, right? He probably has the smelliest, most vicious socks ever, and they have little ducks on them. I'm laughing so hard just thinking about it!
Ginny rolled her eyes and read through a page long analysis about a party Lavender attended, where she helped read fortunes from tealeaves for the guests. At the very end was Lavender's signature, in her perfect curlicue handwriting. Ginny tucked the letter into the envelope and then stroked Trelly the owl. " I'm gonna write back tomorrow, alright?" She whispered to the owl. " You can go back."
Trelly hooted and flew out the window. Ginny sat back in her chair, listening to the wooden slats in it settle and creak. All the windows in the kitchen was open since Ginny had burned the dinner pretty badly, despite her best attempts. The ribs were still all right, though, and in fact tasted better with the well-cooked flavor. Narcissa had scolded her despite everything.
Shortly after, another owl flew in, this one extremely chubby and with a disoriented look in its eye. It stopped on the table and stared at Ginny before opening its beak and letting a coal-smudged letter fall down onto the desk. She flipped the envelope over – Draco Malfoy, it read.
Ginny stood and went up the staircase to deliver the letter. Draco's door was closed tight and she hesitated before knocking. There came no reply, so she slowly opened the door and looked inside.
This was her first glimpse of his room, because his door had always been shut tight ever since her arrival. The walls were all a gray, dreary white, and all wallpapered with a cheesy lacy pattern that mimicked the Victorian era. There was a tall lamp on a silver stand in the corner of the room and it had an off white shade over it. There was also a four-poster bed, with wood the color of birch bark forming the posts. The covers surprised her – a royal purple-colored bed sheet lining the thick white throw over it. The pillows were white with sleet gray vertical stripes.
At the desk facing the window was Draco, his back straight, completely enveloped in his work. She saw that he was writing very fervently, but she walked up boldly to the desk anyway, announcing her presence by saying: " I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I have a letter."
He looked up, impatiently. " Let's see it." He demanded.
Ginny placed the envelope down in front of him.
" Ah, Crabbe and Goyle." Draco exclaimed, flipping it over and opening it. He pulled out the letter, then bent it in half. " Must you watch?" There was a cruel arrogance filling his voice. "I suppose you wouldn't have some sort of work to busy yourself with?"
Ginny blushed. " Mrs. Malfoy didn't give me anything specific to do."
" Then I will do so now." Draco stood, pushing the chair back. " Come with me."
Ginny followed him down the hallway. They were passing the center hall, where the huge statue of a gargoyle stood, and Draco stopped and turned into the North Wing. "Wait here." He told her.
She watched him. He was moving towards the North Wing. At the end of the hallway was a door, and it was ajar. Draco pulled the door open and Ginny caught a glimpse of a series of bookshelves, crammed with books, before the door was closed again.
Draco remained in the room for a few minutes, then he came out holding a book. " Did you open the door to here?" He demanded angrily.
" Someone was in here." Draco looked positively livid. " A few times, actually, in recent days. I'm noticing it more and more. Are you sure…?"
" I'm telling you, I didn't go in there!" Ginny shouted at him. " You should really control yourself before jumping to conclusions! Maybe it was your mother!"
" My mother wouldn't go in there. She's the one that closed the wing down in the first place." Draco said, and then brushed by her, leading the way again. " I'm warning you, I have no way to prove it now, but if I do catch you in there, you'll be sorry."
Ginny shivered nervously. " So what's the book for?"
" You wanted to patch up the roof, didn't you?" Draco turned to look at her. All traces of his anger had washed away to nonchalance once again.
" Oh." She nodded.
Draco handed the book to her and patted her shoulder. He then took his hand and rubbed it off on his pants when Ginny wasn't looking. Ginny meanwhile had flipped the book open and found the correct spell. " I'll be doing it… alone?"
" Yes." He replied. " Good night." He had by now ushered her into her room. Ginny watched as he closed the door to her room and paced back down the hallway. She returned her gaze to the book in her hands and sighed. The spell would take her forever to complete, it required a half-hour long incantation. Somehow, she had been hoping to work on the roof with Draco, assuming that it was more of a man's job.
Ginny didn't allow her spirits to dampen, though, because a moment later she was already beginning the spell. She needed neither Draco's help, nor Narcissa's, and she wouldn't allow either of them to bring her down.