Possible Spoilers/Warnings: None.
Author's Notes: Lemme start by thanking my beta (anonymously for now) for her absolutely invaluable help! Without her suggestions, you would be reading an inferior version of this story. I just can't express how awesome she was for brainstorming and tightening up plot details. Next, lemme thank my prompter for the great prompt. I think I wrote a different story than I've ever written before. It's definitely more suggestive than I'm used to writing, and I don't think I've ever tackled Draco and Ginny as a married couple before, either. I also want to apologize for skewing your prompt a little bit for the sake of the story.... I hope you enjoy it anyway! D:
Summary: While Narcissa stays with Draco and Ginny at Malfoy Manor for two agonizingly long weeks, corsets are worn, gardens are tended to in the dark of night, and socks are brutally mutilated as they are born. Draco's simple ruse turns into a not-so-simple case of insecurity for Ginny. What the hell is a real Malfoy anyway?
Chapter One: Cast On
“It’s only two weeks,” Draco groaned, his hand sliding up her naked stomach.
“Two—weeks!” Ginny said in between gasping breaths. “Too long.” A hand gently grasped her breast, and she let out a little sigh. “Far, far too long.”
His lips met hers with determination, which was how he always kissed her. Like he was trying to prove something to her, trying to convince her of something vitally important. She placed her hands on the sides of his face and pulled him away, both of them breathless, both of them wanting.
“Tell me again why we must abstain while your mother is staying with us?” she said, turning the command into a question.
“Dammit, Ginny. Don’t mention my mother in the bedroom. It’s such a mood killer.”
She laughed at the disgusted look on his face, but she didn’t let go until he answered her. His head fell, his attention distracted by her bare breasts and attentive nipples.
“Not yet!” she cried, laughing despite herself as she restrained him from placing his mouth where she—and he—most wanted it. “Answer me.”
“You can’t hide anything from her,” he said in exasperation. “We could silence the room and she would still know. And there’s just something wrong about having sex while your mother is under the same roof, knowing you’re having sex.”
She moved her hands from the sides of his face into his hair, permission for him to continue. As he sucked and laved her chilled breasts with his warm tongue, Ginny sighed again—in pleasure and disappointment.
“Two whole weeks,” she muttered. “Must we put on the act as well?”
Draco groaned again, this time not from passion. “Is this really the best time to talk about this?”
She ran her fingers through his hair, lightly scratching his scalp. She knew how the gesture affected him and was pleased when she saw gooseflesh rise on his bare arms and back. She kissed the top of his head.
Sensing her unease, Draco sat up and pulled her up with him. He wrapped his strong, warm arms around her body, and only then did her shivers cease. She hadn’t realized she’d been trembling until he’d stared down at her with his piercing, knowing gaze, but this was all she needed to feel better. Him. Just him.
“I don’t know what else to do,” he admitted. “I wish she could believe that we’re happy the way we are.”
“We are happy,” Ginny said into the skin of his pectoral. She placed a kiss there as well.
“But we’re not… Malfoys. Not the kind we’re supposed to be.”
“You’re worried, too,” she said, looking up into his face and seeing crinkled lines around his eyes and creases in his forehead just before he replaced the worry with something like determination.
“I just want her stay to go smoothly.”
“Two weeks,” she muttered again, absently running her fingers down his chest.
“Two weeks,” he agreed as he laid her back down, pressing her into the bed with his body.
For two weeks, they would have to act like real Malfoys. Ginny was only afraid that that’s exactly what they would become.
Besides the occasional flip of a page as Narcissa and Draco read and the clicking of Ginny’s knitting needles, the fire crackling was the only sound that filled the room. Normally, Ginny found the sound soothing, the silence a comfort, not a burden, but tonight, every noise echoed in her head. She was all too aware of her mother-in-law watching her out of the corner of her eyes, and, as a result, she couldn’t concentrate on her knitting. Not that she was very good at it to begin with, but Narcissa had asked to see some of her work. Since Ginny didn’t have anything to show, she’d promised to make something during Narcissa’s stay.
Why she had done this, she wasn’t sure, except that real Malfoy women knew how to sew or knit or embroider. They probably also played piano, not Quidditch, and baked tarts and creme brulee for their husbands. Despite having a fantastic cook for a mother, Ginny had not inherited those kinds of domestic skills. The only reason Ginny had any idea how to knit at all was because of an interest she’d developed before she’d gone off to Hogwarts. Her mum always made the warmest clothes, and Ginny had wanted to learn her secrets. Unfortunately, she’d practiced the art less and less as the years had gone on, and now Ginny had to relearn how to make a simple sock. It didn’t help having Narcissa’s watchful eyes on her as she struggled with the yarn and needles.
Draco sat on the loveseat next to her reading the Prophet as if the room wasn’t full of tension. She resented him a little for that, though she knew it wasn’t fair of her. Draco had grown up in this world. He didn’t have to pretend to be a Malfoy—he just had to pretend he wasn’t married to a Weasley. Ginny, however, only knew how to be herself, and the pressure to conform to a lifestyle that pleased Narcissa was a little too much for her. This wasn’t what she’d signed up for when she’d agreed to marry Draco two years ago.
It also wasn’t fair for Narcissa to show up out of the blue as she had. Ginny and Draco had been married for more than a year, and she’d never asked to visit them before. Not once. She’d never shown an interest in their marriage before—at least, not that Ginny had seen. Perhaps she spoke more about her concerns in her letters to Draco.
Draco put the paper aside and studied Narcissa and Ginny, quickly picking up on Ginny’s unrest and Narcissa’s attention.
“How is Paris, mother?” he asked, and Ginny was grateful for the diversion when Narcissa narrowed her gaze at her son instead.
“The same as always and hardly worth mentioning,” she said, idly turning a page in her book.
“I find it hard to believe there isn’t some scandal or drama that one of your friends isn’t in the middle of,” said Draco.
Narcissa smiled at that, a slight, reluctant turn of her lips that showed more warmth than any expression on her face since she’d arrived earlier that morning. “You’re right,” she admitted. “Yvette Augustin—she’s the youngest sister of the French Minister of Magic—is engaged to a German man. A pastry chef, or something ridiculous like that. We’ve all been trying to talk her out of such a poor match, but she’s stubborn and doesn’t know any better. She’ll see soon enough, though, what a mistake she’s made.”
Ginny’s ears burned as she listened, and she tried to remind herself that Narcissa was living outside of her homeland, in place where she had few friends, while her husband sat in jail. She was rich and bigoted and didn’t know any better than to judge other people for ridiculous reasons and interfere in their lives.
If this is what wealthy and powerful ladies did with their money, Ginny wanted no part of it, and she hadn’t had any part of it until Narcissa invited herself over for a two-week visit.
Ginny’s indignation made her robe feel more constricting than it already was, thanks to the corset that went with it. This wasn’t who she was. She didn’t knit, she didn’t gossip about her friends’ love lives, and she didn’t wear such impractical, uncomfortable clothes. Why she and Draco were going through with this fraud, Ginny didn’t know, but she loved her husband and she wanted him to have the kind of relationship with his mother that she had with hers, even if it was impossible.
Draco’s cheeks were tinged pink as he looked away from his mother; she could tell he was embarrassed. By his mother’s bigotry? Or by his own poorly matched marriage? Ginny wasn’t sure and she didn’t want to know.
“I’ll go fix some tea,” she said, rising from her chair and leaving her knitting behind.
“Don’t be silly,” Narcissa said, waving Ginny back down into her chair. “Just let the house-elves get it.”
Ginny looked at Draco, who looked back with cold indifference. It was part of the act. At least, she hoped it was. Did she dare explain to Narcissa that they didn’t keep any house-elves? No. Real Malfoys had servants to fetch their tea; they didn’t make it themselves.
“No, it’s alright. I need to stretch my legs,” she replied, going to the door before either Narcissa or Draco could stop her. She avoided her husband’s gaze as she left the parlor, hating the cold look in his eyes, even though she knew it wasn’t real. She knew it.
Wandering down the corridors to the kitchens, she tried not to look too closely at the decor. When she’d moved in, she and Draco had redecorated, turned the dark, drafty manor into a home with rich, plush carpets, paintings, and photographs everywhere. The photographs had been stored in boxes, hidden from sight. Draco thought his mother would have disapproved of pictures of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ginny's brother Ron sitting in plain sight around the manor. Ginny had agreed, though she’d been sad to see the pictures go. Especially the ones of Draco and her. So many happy, laughing pictures of the two of them. They weren’t appropriate for the role they had to play, so they’d boxed those up as well and hidden them in a spare bedroom on the third floor.
As she passed through one corridor, she avoided the eyes of the portraits. The paintings she loved had been replaced with portraits of Malfoy patriarchs dating back to the 1400s. Their expressions were as dead as the men themselves, the colors of the paint dark and dulled with time. The older Malfoy men liked to leer at her and whisper lewd comments as she walked by. The more recent Malfoys glared and snarled about her blood traitor family. They were ugly and rude, and they made her feel unwanted in her own home. Whenever she walked down this corridor, she tried to ignore them.
Of course, they had loved Narcissa. All of them had paid her compliments, lamented the fact that she was no longer the mistress of Malfoy Manor, and spread lies and rumors about Ginny to her. Ginny couldn’t wait until Narcissa left so that she could throw those horrid portraits back into the attic where they belonged.
When Ginny reached the kitchens, she took her time preparing the tea, allowing the whistling of the kettle to soothe her instead of irritating her. The warm steam from her cup reminded her of her mum’s tea and talks over the dinner table back at the Burrow. She drank two cups before Draco entered the kitchen looking worried.
“It’s just so hard to breathe in these robes!” she quipped with a forced laugh.
“Don’t do that,” Draco replied, a stern look on his face.
“Don’t do what?” she asked, avoiding his gaze to stare at her tea.
“Just talk to me.”
She couldn’t talk to him. She couldn’t tell him that after more than a year of happiness, suddenly—once again—she was questioning it all. He’d think she was being ridiculous, just like he’d thought she was ridiculous when she’d aired her concerns after he’d proposed. They’d just been so happy, and she hadn’t been able to give it up for anyone. Not for his mother, who’d left him as soon as her husband was imprisoned; not for her friends, who’d thought she was making a mistake; not even for her own loving family who constantly worried about her. She’d wanted him for herself and now she felt foolish for wanting at all.
“We’re happy, aren’t we?” she asked, pleading with him with her eyes to answer the other question she couldn’t voice. You accept me, don’t you?
“Yes, of course,” he said, clearly confused. He approached her, and she turned to him, letting him wrap his arms around her tightly. “I love you more than anything.”
“I love you, too,” she said. She meant it, but was it enough?
Later that night, as she and Draco lay in bed, Draco put his arms around her and pulled her close, her back flush with his front.
“What happened to waiting until your mother left?” she asked breathlessly as he kissed her shoulder, his hand gliding slowly down her curves. Her skin prickled in anticipation, a swell of hunger and need rising and cascading through her veins.
“We are waiting,” he replied, but his hand suggested otherwise as it grazed across the band of her knickers.
She sucked in a breath and flipped over to face him. “Remember when your mother said you only married me for the sex?”
Draco’s lips turned down in an exaggerated frown that made Ginny laugh. “I mean, she was right….”
She punched him in the arm, and he gasped in shock, more exaggeration. “Git,” she whispered.
“It doesn’t make me a git to know what I want and take it,” he replied, his eyes flinty.
“Sex?” The word fell out sarcastically as she rolled her eyes.
“No, you ridiculous witch. You.”
Then his lips met hers and Ginny forgot all about the day’s insecurities.
Chapter Two: Knit One, Purl One
The next day, Ginny was determined to knit a decent sock. She went out to the gardens to focus and get some sunshine, missing the feel of the wind in her hair, the scent of the outdoors. It was the off-season for Quidditch, and her team was taking a month-long break in practices. This gave her nothing to do at home except entertain Narcissa, and since pleasing her was impossible, Ginny wandered outside to be alone instead.
Draco had disappeared earlier that morning to attend to something urgent at work, and she might have resented him for it just a tad. Narcissa still didn’t know that Draco worked for the International Magical Trading Standards Body within the Department of International Magical Cooperation. (He’d wanted to go into law, but people had been hesitant to put a Malfoy in a position where he could manipulate laws and influence the Minister, so he’d settled for trade instead.) No Malfoy in at least two centuries had had the need for employment, and Draco should have followed in that tradition. However, he’d seen that the value of a career lay not in monetary compensation, but in the relationships he built between himself and people at the Ministry.
His father was in prison and his mother had fled the country, so that only left Draco to pick up the pieces of his family’s shredded reputation. It had become important to him, when he’d been alone after the war, to rebuild the Malfoy empire on honesty (as much as he could afford) and hard work (without resorting to physical labor). He'd just never gotten around to telling Narcissa about it.
Ginny grumbled to herself as she wrestled with her yarn. She wielded the needles with an awkward lack of grace, and the yarn kept falling off and unraveling.
"I just don't understand why you insist on knitting," Narcissa said with a sniff.
Ginny jumped and her needles clattered to the ground.
She continued. "Embroidery would be a more sophisticated use of your time."
"Embroidery is purely decorative. At least knitting makes something people can use," Ginny spat as she picked up the fallen needles. A moment later, she remembered who she was talking to and glanced up cautiously. "I mean, I don't know how to sew, but I already know how to knit."
One of Narcissa's brows lifted in sardonic disbelief. "That's debatable," she said, eying Ginny's lumpy, shrunken sock.
Ginny felt her cheeks burn. "I just need to practice a little. I used to be a decent knitter. Somewhat."
“I suppose we’ll see.” She began to turn away, and then stopped, a strange look in her eyes. “I’m going out for the afternoon to visit some old friends. Do let Draco know when he returns?”
“Of course,” Ginny replied. She hated lying to Narcissa, so she focused on untangling her yarn, too guilty to meet the other woman’s eyes.
Carefully, Narcissa said, “I was hoping to spend the day with him instead, but I suppose he made other plans. More important plans than his mother.”
She was fishing for information now, and Ginny wasn’t sure what to say. All Draco had told her to tell Narcissa was that he would be back soon, but he’d been gone for at least two hours already. He should have told his mother about his job instead of leaving his wife in the awkward position of making excuses for him.
Ginny looked up and smiled—she hoped the smile was convincing. “He didn’t tell me his plans either, so I hope that means he’s bringing home a surprise! Sometimes he’s spontaneous like that, and it’s the sweetest thing.”
“Hmph. Well, I’ll be back by dinner. Tell Draco that I don’t like surprises.”
As Narcissa left, Ginny identified the look that had been in her eyes. Distrust. Narcissa sensed the false note in their charade. What must she think of them? How must their marriage look in her eyes?
As soon as she was sure Narcissa had left, Ginny went upstairs to change her clothes from the highly restricting robes she was currently wearing into something loose and grubby. Then she went back to the gardens, past the bench she’d been sitting on earlier, past the fountain where the peacocks liked to bathe, all the way to the back. She and Draco had replaced the finicky flowers that needed lots of attention for shrubs and fruit trees that required a little less care. The plot of land in the back of the garden housed the fruits and vegetables to which they devoted their time. Special care was taken to fertilize the soil, protect the crops while they were growing, and then harvest them when they were ready. Malfoy ladies might have grown flowers as their special hobby, but Weasley women liked to put their hands in the soil and pull out a feast.
Draco found her there a couple hours later, dirt smudged on her gardening robes and face, a pile of carrots and potatoes beside her.
She looked up, and she knew she looked like a naughty Niffler sitting in a hole in the middle of the parlor floor. Draco just knelt down next to her, frowning in disapproval.
“You were at work and your mother went out,” she explained as he removed handkerchief from his pocket and wiped dirt off her jaw. “I got tired of failing at knitting.”
Draco shook his head, but he seemed to be struggling with a smile.
“What?” she asked defensively. “Ladies can tend gardens, Draco.”
“Yes,” he replied, taking his handkerchief to her nose now. “But real ladies use magic to keep from getting dirty.”
“Well, if they’re so worried about getting dirty, maybe they should keep cacti instead of roses.”
“We don’t even keep roses, darling.”
She waved away his meddlesome hand and pulled out her wand. “You know what I mean.”
He followed her as she levitated the potatoes and carrots back into the manor. “What would my mother say if she saw you looking like this?” he asked, a reprimand in his voice.
“Probably, ‘Oh, Ginevra. I don’t see why you insist on gardening. Embroidery would be a more sophisticated use of your time!’”
That brought out the smirk Draco wore while trying to suppress a laugh. “Has she already said that to you today?”
“Today, last night. I’ll probably hear it again when she sees all the progress I’ve made on my knitting since she’s been out. Oh, by the way, she asked where you were, and I told her you were going to surprise us.”
“But she hates surprises.”
“Yes, she told me to tell you that. But now you need to come up with one to explain why you were gone all morning.”
In the kitchen, Ginny began to wash off her harvest, and Draco rolled up his sleeves to help her. They lapsed into silence, the sound of the running water and their scrubbing filling the kitchen. They often spent their afternoons just like this—working in the garden after work and practice, and then fixing dinner together with whatever they’d reaped. Draco usually did most of the cooking while Ginny offered whatever assistance she could along with the pleasure of her company. Sometimes dinner got delayed because he enjoyed her company a little too much and forgot about the pots sitting on the stove or the pan in the oven.
“It’s times like these I almost wish we had a house-elf,” Draco said, his smile turning the comment into a joke.
“I like to do things myself sometimes, without help or magic,” Ginny replied.
His smile turned into something more serious. “I know.” And then after a moment he added, “Me too.”
Ginny couldn’t help her own lips from turning up at that. The Malfoys had had their house-elves stripped from them as repercussions for the war—the Ministry hadn’t wanted Draco and his family to have any sort of power over other living beings if at all possible. Draco had had to learn, quickly, how to take care of himself and survive on his own. Narcissa certainly hadn’t been around to help him, either. She didn’t even know the man that Draco had become since then.
“You’re the only help I need,” she said, focusing intently on the potato in her hands. Yet, she could still feel Draco’s gaze on the side of her face, and when he placed a gentle kiss on her temple, she looked at him, pleased and surprised.
“I could say the same for you.”
By the fourth day of Narcissa’s visit, Ginny was ready to get back to Quidditch training, which wouldn’t resume for another two weeks. She’d resorted to sneaking out to the garden a couple hours after Narcissa retired for the night to check on her crops. With her hands buried in the soil, dirt under her fingernails, impractical robes replaced with a less restrictive garment, she felt relaxed for the first time all day long. As soon as she woke up every morning, she had to remind herself of the day ahead, steel herself for Narcissa’s passive aggressive judgmental remarks, and numb herself to Draco’s cold indifference. But at night, with a slight breeze blowing through her free-flowing hair, her hands occupied in the damp dirt, she could be herself and she didn’t have to pretend for anyone. It was almost as good as flying a broom, anyway.
At breakfast the morning of the sixth day, Narcissa swept into the dining room and sat down across from Ginny.
“You will have to entertain yourself this morning, Draco. Ginevra and I are going shopping,” she announced as she blithely buttered her toast.
“We are?” Ginny asked.
Draco shot her a reprimanding look. “That sounds lovely. I think Ginevra needed some new dress robes for the Notts’ party next Saturday.”
Ginevra. Draco hadn’t called her Ginevra since before they’d started dating, when he’d done it strictly to annoy her. Ginny must have been too common a name to speak in front of his mother, so now she was made to feel like a little girl being scolded every time he mentioned her.
“That was just what I was thinking!” Narcissa said.
Ginny watched her throughout the rest of breakfast, wondering why she seemed so happy today. It couldn’t be because of the prospect of spending time with Ginny. Narcissa had never shown any pleasure where Ginny was concerned at all, from the day she and Draco had announced their engagement to the present.
Narcissa ate a quick breakfast and then stood up. “Don’t dawdle, Ginevra. We have a busy day ahead.”
Ginny stared after her as she left the room, and then she turned her gaze to Draco, who shrugged, confused as well.
They left half an hour later, each of them Apparating to Diagon Alley and arriving in front of the Leaky Cauldron. Ginny had to steady herself against a wall to compose her breathing. Disapparation was already uncomfortable enough, but to squeeze herself in and out of nothingness while wearing a corset? She had to control herself from vomiting afterward.
Narcissa hardly seemed to notice. “I think we’ll start with Madam Malkin’s,” she said as she took off down the alley.
Ginny sucked in a deep breath and followed until she and Narcissa walked side by side.
In Madam Malkin’s shop, Narcissa made it her goal to outfit Ginny in the most fashionable (meaning the least comfortable) robes. Draco hadn't been lying about the Notts' party in three days, and Ginny supposed Narcissa didn't want to be embarrassed by her daughter-in-law if she could help it. Narcissa, too, helped herself to something beautiful and decorative for the party, and Ginny thought about what a waste of Galleons their clothing was. Did they really need that expensive lace on the sleeves? What was the point in hand-sewn crystals decorating the bodices?
At least while they were in the shop they didn't have to speak much. Narcissa was too busy talking about fabrics and shapes and colors with Madam Malkin to bother Ginny, which was a relief, honestly. She had nothing in common with Draco's mother, with her interests or her life, and the less they spoke to each other, the less likely it was that Ginny would accidentally reveal the ruse.
The biggest test of the charade so far appeared as they were leaving the shop.
“Ginny!” a voice called behind them.
Ginny froze, recognizing the voice immediately. She should have ignored it and carried on, but she’d already stopped in the middle of the road, and Narcissa was turning around to see what was holding her up. So Ginny turned, too, to face Harry, who had called her name, along with Ron and Hermione.
Ron laughed. “What’s that you’re wearing? Going to a fancy dress party, are you?”
Narcissa returned to Ginny’s side, her nose held high. “Ginevra?”
“Oh, we’re interrupting you. Sorry! We’ll let you go,” Hermione said, grabbing hold of Ron and Harry’s arms and pulling them away. Bless Hermione for noticing when company wasn’t wanted.
And damn Ron for being obstinate. “What? I can’t say hello to my own sister? It’s not like I haven’t seen her in ages!”
“She’s busy, Ron,” Hermione hissed.
“Yes, I’m busy right now,” Ginny replied, lifting her chin and glaring down her nose at her brother and friends imperiously. It was a bit difficult to do since all three of them were taller than her, but the message must have come across loud and clear.
Ron’s face showed dawning realization, and Harry looked from Ginny’s grim expression to Narcissa and back again. “Yeah, let’s get out of here, mate.”
But Ron, stubborn as usual, had to have the last word. "Will we see you Saturday at least?"
Ginny froze, and she didn't know what kind of expression she wore. Of course she would see them on Saturday. They'd all been invited to Theo and Luna's party, but how did she explain their presence there to Narcissa? She was certainly expecting a sophisticated, high-class affair—and it would be exactly that. But Narcissa wouldn't see the playacting and mockery in the charade. Theo was throwing the party because he had the money to, and everyone was dressing up for the sake of it. It was something he did every year for his birthday, and this year the celebration would be even bigger with a baby on the way, too.
Remembering that she'd been asked a question, Ginny shook herself out of her thoughts, forced herself to put on a mask, and said as hatefully as she could, "I should hope not! We don't associate with people like you."
The three of them stood there, shocked by her response, and Ginny hated herself for it—maybe even Draco, too, for making her behave this way.
As the boys turned away, confused and hurt looks on their faces, Hermione said with an embarrassed smile, “Sorry for bothering you, Mrs. Malfoy. Ginny.” She said Ginny’s name with a raised eyebrow, one that said, We demand an explanation later.
“The nerve of them!” Ginny muttered furiously while they were still within earshot. Ron looked back at her, his uncertainty now anger. Ginny had to clench her fists at her sides to keep them from shaking. She hadn’t meant to hurt them, but a real Malfoy wouldn’t be friends with Harry Potter, Muggleborns, or blood-traitors.
Narcissa glanced down at Ginny’s hands and then back to her eyes. “Indeed,” she said, but Ginny had the distinct feeling that she hadn’t bought Ginny’s act.
What the hell was a real Malfoy, anyway?
Briefly describe what you'd like to receive in your fic:
The tone/mood of the fic: I’d like it to be light-hearted, but show the difficulty for DG to be traditionally domestic
An element/line of dialogue/object you would specifically like in your fic: Ginny knits
Preferred rating of the the fic you want: Slightly naughty (If you’re feeling adventurous you can go extreme with it, but no worries if you don’t)
More canon, or more AU? More cannon
Deal Breakers (anything you don't want?): No Ron blow ups. Avoid using “ferret” or “Red” or “Weaselette”
Are you willing to receive art instead of a fic? I’d prefer fic.