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♥ "There and Back Again" for turkeyish

Title: There And Back Again
Rating: NC-17
Spoilers: Up to the Epilogue of DH; those pages don't exist for me.
Author's Note: Much love to S, who helped whip this into shape. :)
Summary: Sometimes what you think you know isn't the truth at all.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” – L.P. Hartley


There and Back Again


"You can come with me. I get a suite to stay in," Ginny told Draco quietly. They already had this argument a thousand times before, but she was certain that if she was persistent enough, Draco would finally hear her point of view.

The stubborn tilt to his jaw told her otherwise, and her heart sank. A thousand and one tries, and it didn't make a difference.

"You don't need me there, do you?" Draco asked, voice cold. "You'll be busy with the potions and labs and learning the preservation spells. You've always made it clear where your interests lie." He gave her a smile, one that chilled her to the bone. "It's all right, Ginny. It was fun for a while, but we knew it wouldn't last forever."

"What are you talking about?" she asked, eyes growing fractionally wider. She could hardly breathe, and she seemed frozen in place.

Draco took her hand in his and kissed her forehead. "This game is over. You'll have fun in Egypt as long as you manage not to get burnt to a crisp. You'll have even more fun without me."

She looked about to cry, and he knew that his words grew even more brutal after that. Draco pulled himself out of the pensieve, jaw clenched tight. He hadn't really needed the reminder of why he should stay away, but he had been sorely tempted to try to see Ginny again. She was back from Egypt, her training formally finished. It had been five long years, and he had felt them all keenly. As hard as the decision had been, it was the best one for her. Ginny was a stubborn one and would never listen to reason. She had been full of unreachable dreams, sure that time had dimmed the hatred toward his family. That was easy for her to think; the Weasley clan could do no wrong, and no one would dare criticize her to her face. Behind her back was another story, and he would never tell her of the awful things assumed of him. She never believed that her association with him would be her ruin, but Draco knew better. He knew what hate could do, and would never let it touch her. She would never know of his sacrifice, but that was fine. It was better that way.

Draco locked away the pensieve. In it were all of his disastrous memories, all the things he would rather forget. He couldn't dwell in the past any more than he could live on pipe dreams.

Determined, he stalked out of his den. That was enough reminiscing for now. He had a business to run.

***


Ginny had forgotten what the English weather was like after five years away. She had been in Cairo, working with the Wizarding Curation Company. It was on the job training in restoration and preservation of historical artifacts for museums and private collections. The WCC often worked with national museums, and liked Egypt for its international headquarters and training division due to the very generous nature of the government. Wizarding laws were rather lax in comparison to other countries, the climate was ideal for the artifacts and the tax breaks were enormous. As far as the WCC had been concerned, Egypt was ideal for business.

Ginny was staying with Bill and Fleur upon her return. Molly had offered to have her old room ready in the Burrow, but Ginny didn't want to face her memories in the place. Too many things said or unsaid haunted her, and the final breakup with Draco had occurred there. She had thrown herself into her training and now had excellent references to work in the British Museum, but it seemed like such a hollow victory.

"You look so sad, ma petite," Fleur said, coming into the living room where Ginny was sitting with one of the restoration manuals she had been attempting to read. "Is it not good to be home again? Bill had a difficult time of it, but had missed England very much."

It hadn't been England she had missed, it was one specific person who had never wanted to see her ever again.

Fleur gave her a shrewd look when she didn't immediately reply. "Ah. Well, Ron and Pansy will be coming to dinner tonight. Perhaps that will help lift your spirits a little. You now have the work you once dreamed of." Fleur smiled when Ginny looked at her with a blank expression. "The rest will come in time. Some cannot appreciate what they have until it's taken from them."

Not understanding that cryptic remark, Ginny frowned at her sister-in-law. After a few minutes, she looked down at the manual in her lap and shut it. She decided to look up a few of her friends before dinner.

***


Ginny had gotten photos of Ron and Pansy's wedding, since she hadn't been allowed to attend. She had been on site in Giza, and her senior curators had nixed the idea of leaving even with a portkey. Ron had been disappointed, but once she had seen the pictures of the wedding, Ginny hadn't been very sorry. Draco had been there, alone and with a sour look on his face. Pansy kicked him a few times to get him to generate a grimace of a smile, but otherwise he seemed like the embittered man that had made such awful comments to her before she left.

Pansy was rounded, eagerly awaiting the birth of her first child. "He's going to play Quidditch," Ron said proudly as Pansy rolled her eyes at him. "Come on, look at the way he kicks all the time! He'll be on a broom before you know it. And when he's old enough, he'll play for the Cannons..."

"Oh, for the love of Merlin!" Pansy cried. Though she had never been close with Ginny before, Pansy reached over and grasped Ginny's sleeve. "Get him to stop, Ginevra. You have no idea, I can't stand this anymore. I won't be held responsible for my actions, no one would convict me if I take a broom and break it over his head."

Ginny couldn't help but smirk and pat Pansy's hand soothingly. "Come on. Let's go talk about womanly things or something like that." She smiled sweetly at Ron, who was starting to look anxious. "I won't kiss her, stupid. Just let us catch up."

Pansy laughed and gratefully went outside with Ginny as Fleur got the rest of dinner ready. "Thank you, Ginevra. I know he's just worried and proud and all that nonsense, but I just want it to stop. He gets so overbearing sometimes!"

"Tell me about it," Ginny agreed, shaking her head. They sat around in silence for a bit, just taking in the quiet of the garden. "I'm really glad I'll be here for the birth, Pansy. I felt so awful about missing the wedding." No need to mention the drama she was thankful she had avoided.

"Are you sure you weren't avoiding Draco?" Pansy asked, giving her a very open and direct look. "I know in your owls you denied it, but that sounded like a flimsy excuse to me."

Ginny shot Pansy a sour look. The breakup was not something she liked to think about. "I couldn't get out of the work placement at the time, Pansy. That's not a flimsy excuse. I really would have been there if I could. I can be adult about it, even if Draco was an unspeakable bastard."

"Did you ever stop to ask yourself why?" She shook her head at Ginny's sharp look. "He was proud and an arse sometimes, but he's different now. He is downright mean even to people that should matter to him. I've known him since we were both children and we've always been good friends. He won't tell me a damn thing and bites my head off anytime I ask why he's such an insufferable git now."

"Why do you think that has anything to do with me?"

"It's only been five years that he's been this way. And that's exactly how long you've been gone."

Ginny shook her head. "I'd have to matter for that to be true. He made it very clear where I stand..."

She paused and looked at Ginny for a moment. "You honestly believed whatever it was that he said?" Pansy tutted and shook her head. "I'm pretty sure you never stopped loving the bastard, so it's really sad that you didn't see what he was doing."

"This is none of your business," Ginny told Pansy, keeping her hands in her lap. She was very tempted to as her what she meant, but the pitying glance made her stop. Of all people to pity her, she didn't want it to be Pansy. Of course, she tended to get angry in response to stress, and Pansy was hitting all of her buttons. It was doubtless bad form to choke your very pregnant sister-in-law, no matter how well deserved it might be.

Pansy snorted. "Please. As Ron and your Mum keep saying, I'm family. And family is supposed to help each other, including the ones that are too stupid to help themselves when they clearly need it." She folded her hands over her rounded belly and shot Ginny with a piercing look. "Besides. I've also been told that no Weasley ever backed off from a challenge, and you not complaining about Draco being a right idiot is definitely backing off from a challenge."

"There is no challenge, Pansy," Ginny told her with grit teeth. "He is an inconsiderate arse that doesn't give two knuts what happens to me."

"Merlin save me from self righteous idiots," Pansy muttered under her breath. "If you thought you were ruining someone's life, what would you do, Ginny?"

"Fix it!" she responded instantly.

"And if you couldn't? If you really thought you had no options and the other person was blind as a bat and twice as thick?"

Ginny didn't like where this was going and glared at Pansy in response. Her sister-in-law seemed to be immune to the death glare, however.

"Malfoy Enterprises headquarters is in Muggle London because there was no one willing to let space to a former Death Eater, even one that was exonerated and has upstanding citizens backing him up." Pansy told her. She nodded when Ginny's eyes widened slightly in understanding. "The British Museum is on Euston Road in London, isn't it?" Pansy didn't even wait for Ginny's confirming nod. "Malfoy Enterprises is actually located right on Russel Square. The two of you might bump into each other before you know it."

Her gut clenched at the thought of seeing Draco again, of his cold expression and haughty words. But if he had been lying all those years ago... Ginny turned to Pansy with a thoughtful expression, trying to keep her rising hope at arm's length.

"If he really thinks he's doing me a favor he won't want to see me," Ginny told her. "Five years is a very long time, after all."

"When you find the right person," Pansy began, rubbing a spot on her abdomen, "five years is nothing but the blink of an eye. Don't tell me that's all that's stopping you."

If you love me, she had told him five years ago, this will work. We'll make it work. Don't you think we can? she had asked him. He had turned away from her, arms crossed over his chest. There's nothing worth saving, he had said coldly, not even looking at her. This was just a way to pass the time, but I can't waste any more of it. I have more important things to do.

He had left without a backward glance, and Ginny had been crushed. Looking back on it now, he had never said he didn't love her. He had never once denied that.

Ginny looked at Pansy, decision made. "No, it's not."

"There's that Weasley spirit," Pansy said approvingly. She pushed herself to her feet with a little effort. "Now, let's go inside and plan our strategy." She linked her arm with Ginny's and grinned at her. "He's a thick-headed git, so you'll need to distract him before he can think of a counterargument."

Ginny couldn't help but laugh as hope bubbled up inside of her. "In that case, I have the perfect way to distract him."

***


Malfoy Enterprises was intimidating, but Ginny had never let a little thing like that stop her before. Funny, how it used to be bravado that kept her going and now she really wasn't impressed by all the casual displays of wealth. The marble was highly polished, but she could see that the preservation spells were spotty and it was only a matter of time before the elements wore it all down to the point where it would have to be replaced. The brass also shone, but it was a superficial shine and she could make out the spots of corrosion that were in the corners and beneath the rounded edges. Anyone else might have been in awe of the display, but she could see past it now. She could see what was hiding underneath the polish and shine, and she could see the beginnings of rot beneath it.

Ginny ignored the protests of the receptionist that she didn't have an appointment. She waved her British Museum ID, which was terribly impressive looking and made her look like some kind of government official. It was a move she wouldn't have been able to pull off five years ago; for all that she had tried to fight in the war and do her part, she had still been a child. There had still been an element of painful uncertainty, the feeling that no matter what she did, it would all fall apart in the end. She had always been able to push past that, and she hadn't thought that others could see through that.

Funny how it didn't seem so important now. Funny how even a year ago she would have thought approaching Draco Malfoy would be like cutting out her own heart. Right now, it felt like she was coming home.

Draco was in his office, dictating notes with a Quick Notes Quill. He was leaning back in his chair, looking in the ceiling as he thought. Once Ginny banged into his office and spelled the door shut, he jerked in his seat and looked to see what the intrusion was all about. "What in bloody hell?" he sputtered.

She pasted a bright smile on her face. "Not the greeting I thought I'd get after five years, but I suppose it's quite the shock," she continued, moving to sit in front of his desk.

"What are you doing here, Weasley?" he asked, voice cold.

"I've moved back to England permanently," Ginny told him. "You said many cruel things five years ago," Ginny said, watching his face. There was no flinch, no sign that he regretted a thing he said. "I said that if you loved me, we could figure out how to make it work. Do you remember?"

Draco's lips were thin and his eyes narrow. It was a sharp and unfriendly look, one she had never received before from him. "I don't have time for this kind of nonsense, Weasley." It was the voice of a stranger, not someone that had one held her and pressed kisses into her spine as he murmured he loved her and would do anything for her. He had gotten cold in her absence, absorbed in business and finance. He only cared about the bottom line, and she had looked up articles in the Prophet about Draco. He had been utterly ruthless in business dealings, ripping apart the competition without a backward glance. It was a complete turnaround from who he used to be, from the man that once had been in her bed.

Well, time to do something even more drastic.

Ginny stood and leaned over Draco's desk. He was poised to call security, and they would easily break through her locking spells. She was a curator, not a curse caster. She would have to move fast, but that was exactly what she had in mind.

She undid the buttons of her blouse and tossed it aside.

Draco made a little choking sound, his eyes disbelieving in his head. "You've gone utterly daft. The sun has boiled what little brains you had left."

"I think you had a very misguided sense of honor," Ginny murmured, unhooking her bra. It was silk and lace, something to deliberately taunt Draco. His eyes tracked it as she tossed it aside. "You're just as stubborn as I am, and I think you would never admit that there were problems you couldn't solve."

"You need to get those clothes back on before I call security."

Ginny closed her hand over his, leaning over his desk. His eyes tracked her chest, just as she thought they would. "Would you really want anyone else to see me like this?" She grasped his other hand and put it on a breast. He moved to caress her before he could stop herself, and she internally started to cheer. Maybe this plan of hers wasn't entirely off the mark after all.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he asked, tearing his eyes from her chest to glare at her. "Do you think you can just walk in here--"

She leaned forward and kissed him on the mouth, tongue sliding in as he was speaking. His hands tightened beneath hers, and she shifted slightly to lean further across his desk. "I missed you," she murmured, taking his lower lip between hers and sucking gently. "I had a miserable time without you, you arrogant git."

Draco pulled back and away from her, shaking his head. "I don't know what your intentions are, but that's a lie." He set his jaw tightly and glared at her. "I know exactly how many commendations you've had, Weasley, and you never would've gotten them if I was there with you."

Pansy had implied as much, but it still hurt to hear. "So you pushed me away rather than fight it?" she asked, eyes sparking with anger. "Whatever happened to telling me you would do anything to make me happy?"

"I did exactly that," he hissed, glaring at her, jaw tight. "You have no idea how difficult it would have been for you to be near me. None." His tone was so bitter, and Ginny could see that he honestly believed it. If he had said something five years ago, she would have tried to convince him otherwise. She knew he was wrong. "You live in your charmed little bubble and think that the entire world will simply fall at your feet and ignore the fact that I've got a Dark Mark? That I collaborated? That your precious family is the only reason I'm not in Azkaban right now?"

"There was a Death Eater in that program, Draco," she told him. "He worked just as hard and got the appointment he wanted in Sicily. Not everyone in the world is ashamed of the past. Not everyone will hold it against you."

"There's enough," he told her, pulling away from her. His expression was shutting down, just as it had five years ago. If he followed the same pattern, he would turn away from her and shut her out.

No, not again.

Ginny moved around the desk and stepped into his personal space, eyes locked to his. "Do you love me?" She grabbed hold of him and stood on the tips of her toes so that she could nearly reach his lips with her own. "I never stopped loving you, Draco. I couldn't. It would be like ripping out my own heart. I just can't do it."

"More fool you," he replied, though his voice was hoarse.

Ginny pushed him back into his chair and straddled his waist. "Aren't you empty without me? If we could go back there, five years ago, wouldn't you? Wouldn't do it all over again and this time stay together?" She leaned in and kissed him, a tangle of lips and teeth and tongue that felt oh so familiar. He responded, couldn't help but respond, his hands sliding across her back. "Five years wasted, Draco," she murmured against his mouth. "There's so much time to make up for."

He wrapped his arms around her and tilted her onto her back on his desk. Draco's lips moved from her lips to her jaw. "I tried to protect you from yourself," he murmured. "You just won't take it."

"I just need you to love me back," Ginny murmured. "The rest will work itself out."

"You said that all those years ago, too," Draco replied. His touch was still light on her skin, and he didn't make any move to finish what he started. "How can you still believe that?"

"We've already done it your way, Draco. I don't think either of us were happy. Now we do it my way."

"And that would be?"

"Start with shagging me silly," Ginny said, starting to unbutton Draco's shirt. "We'll figure out the rest as we go."

"Why won't you listen to reason?" Draco asked, brows coming together in a frown. "You're ignoring the real world, Ginny. You're going to get shut out of it."

"Do you love me, Draco?" she demanded, moving to a sitting position as she pushed his shirt off of his shoulders. She closed her hand over the Dark Mark. "Not what you think you should say, not what you think that means," she said, shaking his forearm. "What do you feel? Just tell me what you feel."

"It isn't enough."

"I want the truth this time, Draco. Don't I deserve that much?"

He let out a sigh, letting his eyes close as his head bowed slightly. "It doesn't matter, Ginny. It's not enough. Love doesn't win in the end."

Ginny let go of his arm and pulled him flush against her skin. "It does if you believe in it, Draco. I still love you. I always will. And you love me, or else you wouldn't fight me this hard. You think this is what's best for me, but you are what's best for me. Everyone else can go hang for all I care. If it bothers you that much, we'll live in Muggle London. We'll go to another country. I don't care, as long as I'm with you."

"You'd be ruined."

"I'd be with you. That's more important than this job. I can get a new one. I can't get a new you."

Draco kissed her then, desperation in his touch. She opened her mouth beneath his and pulled his lower body flush against hers. It had been so long, and she wasn't going to let a little misguided concern get in the way of this. Ginny attacked his belt and undid his trousers. Her skirt was easy to hike up, and she was wearing a tiny scrap of silk that matched the bra. That was easy to shimmy out of, and she cast her own contraceptive spells. His hands were everywhere, as if trying to memorize her curves all over again, as if the feel of her skin was a ghost he couldn't quite believe in.

Ginny slid her hands over him, taking his erection in hand. It was as if the years fell away and it was five years ago, before he said those hateful things to drive her away. She mouthed his neck and sucked at the skin, her other hand kneading his arse and pulling him close. He finally jerked back from her grasp, breathing ragged and harsh. "Lie back," he said, voice hoarse and not quite his usual cultured tones. Smiling, she laid back and spread her arms and legs wide, welcoming him.

He pushed into her, and she moaned at the feel of him. It was just as she remembered, just as she had dreamed over the past five years. Draco started slowly, more of a rocking than the fast and hard thrusting she wanted from him. He refused to be rushed, refused to pick up speed just yet. "Later," he murmured, cupping her breasts in his hands. "Slow for now, then we'll do it your way."

She pouted, but gasped as he swiped his thumb over her nipple. "Oh, not fair."

"No, it isn't," he said with a smirk. "But neither was taking your shirt off to make a point."

"I won't play fair if that's what it takes to keep you."

"I'll keep that in mind."

Draco moved slowly, teasing her with every stroke. Ginny gasped and moaned, twisting beneath him. He kept the same unhurried pace until she tightened around him. At that point, his hips jerked erratically against hers. "Merlin, Ginny," he gasped, moving to stroke her with his hands as well. "I won't last," he ground out. "Not if you keep doing that."

She moaned in response to his touch and urged him to go faster. There was more than one way to get what she wanted, after all. Besides, he felt good and his fingers against her was only adding to the pleasure. She was close, so close, and she couldn't help but tighten up around him. She bit her lip and arched her back, eyes falling shut. "More," she gasped, "Just like that, but more..."

After Draco came, he curled up on top of her over his desk. "I'm glad you came back," he murmured into her ear.

Ginny grinned. "I am, too. And this time, you're never getting rid of me."

"Is that a promise?"

"Absolutely," she responded, a goofy grin on her face. She wound her arms around him and gave him a passionate kiss. "You're mine, Draco, and I'm not letting you go for anything."

"Good," he murmured, returning her kiss. "This time I'm keeping you. And I'll have you know, I can be a ruthless bastard when I have to be."

Ginny merely kissed him again in response. Now that they were back together after five years apart, she had every intention of staying right where she was. This was exactly where she was supposed to be.

It was about time Draco saw it the same way.

The End




Briefly describe what you'd like to receive in your fic: Draco and Ginny have always had a special bond, despite their differences. They love each other, and it’s obvious to everyone – but Draco, because of his past, doesn’t think that he deserves Ginny, and so will never admit his love to her. Ginny has to go away for a few years for whatever reason, but lets Draco know that she will stay, if only he’d admit that he loves her as much as she does him. Of course, he doesn’t admit it, despite his agony at her leaving, stubborn in his belief that he’s not worthy of her. When Ginny returns to England, she finds that Draco is much changed because of her absence, wildly successful but hard of heart. Of course, they still love each other. But this time, can Ginny show Draco once and for all that he deserves to be happy with her? (I also have a soft spot for Ron/Pansy and Blaise/Luna. :) )
The tone/mood of the fic: Romantic
An element/line of dialogue/object you would specifically like in your fic: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” – L.P. Hartley
Preferred rating of the the fic you want: R or NC-17
Canon or AU? AU
Deal Breakers (anything you don't want?): Unhappy endings, H/Hr, kids, infidelity, stupid or whiny characters, either too angsty or too fluffy
Tags: exchange 2011, fics
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