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And They Didn't Live Happily Ever After

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Chapter Four
"Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa" (My Sin, My Sin, My Most Grievous Sin)


Disclaimer: Miss Jo (Rowling) owns everything. Right down to the knickers and teacups. I just make them dance their little dance.




Hermione Apparated home immediately, and found the younger witch frantically pacing in her tiny parlor. Ginny was already in tears and shaking.


"Please don’t tell Harry. I'll tell you anything you want to know, just–"


Hermione held out a hand to stop Ginny's urgent pleading; a disapproving scowl accentuated the look of disgust in her eyes.


"How could you… shag… that… how could you fuck Malfoy?!?" she screamed in disbelief. "Of all the people! And you're married, Ginny! How could you do this to Harry?"


Ginny sank onto the couch, placing her face in her hands and began to sob hysterically. She lifted her face up to Hermione and her slack mouth hung open as the sobs continued, her shoulders caving in towards her chest and her back hunched over. Hermione almost pitied her… almost.


Feeling that there was something vaguely familiar about the situation, she remembered Harry's emotional fragility a few days prior.


Hermione spoke the same words with less sympathy.


"Tell me what you know. Start at the beginning."


It took a few moments for Ginny to compose herself enough to speak. Her breath hitched several times before she could calm herself enough to begin.


"It started during the war."


"You mean you've been banging him for four years?!?"


"No! No." She took a deep breath before continuing, her breath hitching one more time. Her eyes glazed over as she started to recall all the events that led up to this moment.


"Right after Draco came over to our side I found him sitting on the back step at headquarters. He was charming some leaves and binding them together, making them fly like a butterfly. I commented on how lovely they were and we just started to talk. You and Harry and Ron were so convinced he was a spy and treated him like shit–"


"Wait a minute! He called me a mudblood–"


"After you lot took one look at him when Snape first brought him over to Twelve Grimmauld and started calling him names and accusing him of being a spy. I remember. I saw and heard it all, I was there! All he wanted was a second chance and you three wouldn't give him one."


Hermione looked away and scowled. She wasn't too proud of her behavior that day and later realized she was wrong, but the thought of having to apologize to Draco Malfoy was a bitter pill that was too big for her to swallow at the time.


"All right. I admit I wasn't… polite."


Ginny snorted at her choice of words.


"Go on," Hermione commanded.


"Well, he was feeling like it was all for nothing when I complimented him on his 'butterflies.' He actually smiled, well it was kind of like a half-hearted smirk, but something in his eyes told he appreciated that little gesture. Next thing you know, it's dark and we spent the past three hours just talking."


"Talking? Talking about what?" Hermione couldn’t think there was anything Malfoy and Ginny could talk about, much less for three hours.


"Well, first it was favorite charms, then moved onto Astronomy which wound up turning into a comparison of Greek gods to Roman gods, which then turned into a discussion of charms and spells of Greek origin versus Latin and the types of magic those civilizations favored."


That sounded like the sort of discussion Hermione would love to have with anyone. She hadn’t had an engaging conversation like that in ages.


"Next thing I know, it's dark and Mum is calling us all in for dinner. He looked at me with something like gratitude and said, 'Thank you.' I think he was just glad there was someone who was willing to believe that he finally realized he made a mistake in swallowing all the codswallop his father fed him over the years."


Ginny sighed and smiled a little. Hermione allowed her a brief moment to gather wool.


"The next week when I saw him, it was after a meeting. I offered to make him a cup of tea, but he said that he wanted some lunch instead. So, we went into the kitchen and I started to make lunch and he insisted I sit down. He said he would make lunch for the both of us."


Hermione's mouth dropped in stunned disbelief. "You mean Mr. 'This-is-servant's-work' deigned to dirty his precious hands to–"


"This is exactly the kind of attitude that made him call you that awful name."


Hermione went back to silently grumbling as Ginny continued.


"So he made us lunch and we talked for a while. He asked what N.E.W.T. level classes I was taking and offered some tips. Just as we were finishing up, his Dark Mark started to burn. Snape came in and said it was time to go. I told him to be careful and he just smiled at me."


The tears returned and Ginny's breath began to hitch. "I don't think he ever had anyone really care about his well being, not like that anyway. The stories he's told me about his father and mother would just horrify you. It's like they only cared that he would marry some pure-blood witch and carry on the Malfoy line. They never really cared for him as a person. They gave him things he asked for, but never bothered to love him."


Ginny obviously had feelings for him, but Hermione could feel little pity for a boy that made her life hell for so many years. It could be that he’d changed, but she didn't want to contemplate it at the moment.


"After that day, I didn't see him again for quite a while. School started and he would occasionally write me a letter and at Christmas he sent me a nice box of scented soaps. He told me never to write him as it was too dangerous, but on a few occasions I wrote a letter and gave it to Snape to pass on. I wrote in the letters that it was okay for him to burn them if he needed to."


Hermione continued to watch Ginny's face as she recounted her tale.


"I didn't see him again until after Victory Day. He and Snape were still undercover, as they were trying to flush out the last of the Death Eaters."


Hermione nodded, remembering it all and encouraging her to continue.


"We would meet up in the attic at Twelve Grimmauld and have a picnic lunch there on the floor, and a couple of times we met in Muggle London as well, so we could meet out in public without some witch or wizard recognizing us. One day, a few weeks before your wedding, we went to a moo-vee."


Hermione giggled briefly. She always thought the way the Weasleys pronounced Muggle inventions was so amusing.


"We sat there in the dark in the back and he kissed my hand. It was like an electric shock ran straight up my arm. I looked at him and I kissed him,” Ginny smiled broadly, her face still red and splotchy from crying. "We didn't watch the rest of the movie cause I couldn't stop kissing him. It was the most wonderful kiss in the world. No one has ever kissed me like that and it never felt so good. Michael Corner, Dean, Seamus… even Harry. It never felt so good to be kissed. I was dizzy and excited, and I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest."


The look of sorrow returned to Ginny's face. "So afterwards, we tried to think of a good time to tell my family that we were seeing each other. I thought right after the wedding while you and Ron were away would be the perfect time. Ron couldn’t kill him if Ron wasn't here. Besides, they just finished capturing the last of the Death Eaters and they were finally going to announce Snape and Draco as war heroes. The risk of some Death Eater bent of vengeance was gone. Then the day after the wedding Fudge comes out with that... that,” Ginny became flustered and angry, "STUPID, BLOODY LAW! 'All Death Eaters must abide by these rules.' All the work that Draco and Snape did… gone. Out the fucking window! This new decree that Fudge presented essentially said it didn't matter that Snape and Draco spied and risked their lives and help bring an end to the war. 'Any witch or wizard bearing the Dark Mark shall be under parole of the Ministry for the rest of their life.' And you know who drafted this law?"


Hermione shook her head. She had read bits of the law, as were published in the Daily Prophet, but she had not gotten around to reading the fine print.




Understanding began to dawn on Hermione's face.


"That's right, that fucking loon! Never trusted Snape and trusted Draco even less. He wanted to make sure that they would not be seen as heroes… EVER! The law could have said 'convicted Death Eaters,' but no. Moody drafted it so that he could have the last word on his 'constant vigilance' campaign."


Ginny rose and began to pace the floor once more. This time her fiery hair matched her famous Weasley temper.


"So, the day after the wedding, this law comes out. Draco is gone. I don’t know where to find him. Snape is gone too. I asked Mum and Dad where they went. They don’t know. I asked Dad to fight this so Snape and Draco are exonerated. It turns out Fudge threatened Dad; if he so much as made a peep about Snape and Draco, they would fire him from the Ministry, and have it printed in the Daily Prophet he was a Death Eater sympathizer. I went to Shacklebolt and even Luna, now that she’s an editor at The Quibbler. Fudge has it sewn up so tight that they'll never get out from under this law! The only two people who could vouch for Draco and Snape that Fudge could not publicly condemn as Death Eater sympathizers would be Dumbledore and Harry. Dumbledore's dead. And if they were selling tickets to see Draco and Snape thrown down a pit that led straight to Hades, Ron, Harry and Moody would pay through the nose for front row seats."


Hermione watched Ginny and wondered if she was going to wear a hole in the floor. "So? Why doesn’t Draco just leave?"


"He can't. Boy, you haven't read the law, have you? 'No Death Eater shall ever be allowed to leave Great Britain.' Fudge put that little clause in himself. Seems if the Death Eaters are still around doing demeaning jobs; that will help ensure he gets reelected. 'Look, the Death Eaters have all been put in their place.' With them walking around, sweeping Diagon Alley, or being a conductor on the Knight Bus, he makes sure people see how he's beaten them, and that they are under control."


"Don't tell me you sympathize with them?" Hermione asked, disgusted with the idea of Ginny could even feeling pity for them.


"Merlin's teeth, NO! I wish they would all just get the Dementor's Kiss and go away. It's just an injustice that this law be applied to Draco."


Hermione wondered if she knew what happened to Snape, but thought it could wait until later. Shaking her head, as they were heading off on a tangent, she brought the conversation back to Ginny's infidelity. So far, Ginny's answer didn’t satisfy her.


"So what has this got to do with you shagging Malfoy?"


"After the wedding, Draco disappeared. Harry, all of a sudden, has an interest in dating me. I asked him why he didn't bother with me before and he says he didn't think he'd live long enough to get around to dating. I really didn’t want to go out with him; all I could think of was Draco. But as the weeks went on, I gave up hope of seeing Draco. No owl, no word nothing. So I eventually agree to go out with Harry and by Christmas he proposed."


"Don’t you love Harry?" Hermione asked, hoping her answer would be yes.


Ginny sat back down and gave a great troubled sigh. "Yes," she began reluctantly, "I love him, but I'm not in love with him."


The whole thought seemed to contradict itself. "What do you mean? What's the difference?"


Ginny looked at her sagely, and Hermione saw a woman who looked far wiser than she was, as if she knew the secret that held the fabric of the universe together. She felt as if she was not privy to that information, but somehow the younger witch had discovered it.


"If you don’t know, I'm not sure I could explain it."


"Try," she replied, angry at Ginny, but for some reason she couldn't explain.


"It's when you care for someone more than yourself… but more. When someone you love hurts, you empathize with them and can feel upset or hurt or angry. But when you're in love with someone and they hurt, you feel like you've been hurt yourself. Family and friends be damned, they are the most important person in the world and you'd give up everything for them."


She was scared to ask, but she had to. "Are you in love with Draco?"


Ginny began crying again, her shoulders shaking and she slumped further into the couch. "Do you want to know why I don't want to have kids now? Do you know why I'm putting it off?"


Hermione shook her head, knowing now that Ginny's excuses before were just that.


"It's not that I don’t want kids, it's just I don’t want them with Harry."


Hermione felt the wind knocked out of her with that statement. It unsettled her to her core.


Ginny continued, "When a witch and wizard marry, the bond is only permanently sealed with the birth of their first child. Until they produce a child, they can still divorce. Once a child has been born, they are magically bound to one another… forever. If I put off kids, I still have a chance to… to… get out of this marriage!"


This was one big fact that she was not aware of, nor had anyone bothered to enlighten her on the matter. What was worse was learning of Ginny's desire to leave Harry eventually.


"So what? You're going to leave Harry and marry Draco?"


Shaking her head, Ginny wailed, "I don’t know, I don't know. I keep hoping that each time I see Draco, it will be the last, and then I'm with him and I don’t want it to end. Then I see Harry and he's so nice, but he doesn’t make me feel the way Draco does."


Remembering Ginny chained and bound, Hermione retorted bitterly, "Harry did say you were probably getting your needs filled somewhere else. And no wonder! I saw what he did to you." Ginny looked mortified. "No wonder Harry said there were certain things you asked that he wouldn’t do!"


Ginny's back shot up straight and she glared at Hermione. "Do you even bleeding know what I asked Harry to do? Do you know what he wouldn’t do for me? Did he say exactly what he wasn't into?"


Hermione shook her head wondering if she even wanted to know.


"I asked him to spank me."


Hermione's mouth fell open.


"Yes, that's right, spank me. He said I was sick and that he could never hit a woman. I told him it's not hitting; it's a little fantasy. So I asked if he could blindfold me and I was met with the same look of disgust. Harry likes his sex plain. Plain and boring! Different positions and that's it, dearie. You should have seen the look of horror on his face when I suggested bringing a sex toy to bed."


Hermione didn’t know whether to laugh at the whole situation of Harry's penchant for unimaginative sex, or feel pity for the woman across from her whose sex life was more boring than hers.


"So you're having an affair with Draco."


"No, I pay for Draco's services."


Hermione's mind was close to bursting from all she had seen and heard today, but this just about made her mind split open like a ripe melon.


"WHAT? You PAY for him to… to… to... I can’t even say what he did to you," she spat.


"Fuck me like there's no tomorrow. Cause if Harry finds out, Draco's date with a Dementor is as good as certain."


"Harry would never do that."


"You want to bet? Harry hates Draco, and what would make him go off the deep end more than finding out his wife is screwing his last living enemy. Harry's word is a good as gold. Harry could cast the Killing Curse and no one would say a thing about it. He's the golden boy who saved the world. One false word to the Ministry and Draco is off to rot as an empty husk in Azkaban!"


"But pay? You pay Malfoy?" Hermione shook her head. It just seemed so sleazy.


"Not him. Another wonderful little clause in that insipid law. Only pay through the Ministry is allowed. Seems that only if you work through a Ministry sanctioned job can you earn any money. All of the Malfoy fortune in Gringotts, on British soil, was confiscated. Fortunately, Draco's father, the syphilitic lunatic that he was, had the good sense to have over half the family fortune deposited in other Gringotts around the world. Switzerland, Cayman Islands, Singapore and a few other places. But if a single coin passes into Draco's hand that is not through an official Ministry job, he gets a kiss."


"So if you pay him-"


"I don't pay him, I pay Lavender."


"Wait, what?"


"Draco could never do any of those jobs the Ministry said would be 'acceptable.' That damn Malfoy pride. I told him I didn’t care if he scrubbed toilets at the Leaky Cauldron, but he said he'd rather go the route of his father had taken than do that. So there are some jobs the Ministry turns a blind eye to." Ginny began counting them off on her fingers. "Prostitution. Trash picking. Begging. They seem to deem those jobs so socially disenfranchising, they are willing to let those activities slide by unnoticed. I offered to pay so he wouldn’t fuck other women and he said he could never be a 'kept man.' I told him the contradiction of his statement, as he's being paid to do what he does, but he says there's a difference. That damn Malfoy pride again."


"So Draco is a… a…" Hermione was finding word difficult to come by that day. "A gigolo?"


Ginny nodded, her face a mixture of pity, disgust, sorrow and anger. "When I found out, I'm glad I put up a Silencing Charm, because I don’t think I ever yelled so much. But after I calmed down and we talked, I realized it was, short of a Dementor's Kiss, one of the few things he could do."


Hermione could not fathom a choice between prostitution and living the rest of her life in a catatonic state. To her, there always seemed to be another way.


"So, when did you find Malfoy?"


"About Christmas time, a year and a half ago, I was feeling depressed, as another family gathering was on the horizon. I begged Harry, asked him if we could go away for Christmas. Anywhere! But he said he had work and couldn’t take the time off. I swear! We haven’t had a single holiday since we got married. He won’t take time out of work for a simple fucking holiday. Work comes first, then I come a distant second."


Hermione could relate to that fact. Where as Harry would not give up working, her and Ron could not afford a holiday. The only reason they had a two-week honeymoon in Italy was because Harry paid for the holiday as a wedding present.


"Anyway, I'm sitting in a tea shop trying not to cry into my cup of Christmas tea, and who happens to sit herself in the empty chair across from me? None other than Lavender Brown. She looks at me and says, 'Man trouble?' I don’t know how she did it, but she had me spilling everything to her. I mean stuff I couldn’t even tell you till today. Well, everything except giving her Draco's name and his former occupation as Death Eater spy. She just has this way about her that she didn’t have before."


"You mean Lavender Brown? Cosmetic-empire Lavender Brown? More-money-than-God Lavender Brown?"


Ginny nodded in answer to Hermione's question.


Upon graduation, Lavender Brown had launched her own company, with seed money from the Weasley twins as silent partners. It was an instant success, and the twins pocketed a nice return on their investment. Apothecaries throughout Britain and the Continent stocked her goods. They were top quality at reasonable prices. Part of the reason was that she hired freed house-elves, from Death Eater families, for the manufacturing process, thus ensuring product quality and consistency. Lavender's knack for Potions, where beauty was concerned, served her well. Her line of soap was the finest available, and there wasn't a wizarding household in most of Europe that didn’t have at least one of her products.


"But she's such a gossip. Do think that was wise telling her all those things?" Hermione wondered if Ginny had lost her mind and wanted all her dirty laundry circulated in certain social circles.


"She's changed. She is discreet. And with her business on the side, it pays to be so."


"So what you're saying is Lavender is a Madam? I mean, runs a brothel?"


Ginny gave a sardonic chuckle. "In so many words, yes."


"And you pay Draco to bonk you and do things to you Harry won’t do?"


"Well, let me finish my story." Ginny took a deep breath before finishing her tale. "So, she says that she 'knows' a nice gentlemen who can help me out. And I couldn’t believe I was entertaining the idea of hiring some random man to spank me, but the next thing I know, I've paid Lavender a fee and I'm at Draco's door not even knowing he's the one she set me up with!


"I think she has some sick sort of desire to see people squirm," she said morosely. "She knocks on the door and Draco opens it. He looks at me, I look at him and we can’t speak. She then says in an all too innocent voice, 'Oh, do you two know each other? How interesting.'


"I swear, if Draco wasn't on parole, he would have hexed her four ways to Sunday. He was close to strangling her with his bare hands. But we were so glad to see each other. It was like he never went away. That first visit all we did was talk... well, I screamed at him quite a bit and he screamed back, but we talked and I cried. I've gotten over the fact he sleeps with other women, and some women don’t even sleep with him. They just want someone to talk to."


"Talk?" Hermione was dubious.


Ginny laughed and nodded, "Yeah, can you imagine that? That's what Draco and I did the first four months we met. I paid Lavender to meet him and we talked, and kissed, and talked some more and kissed some more."


"Talk. You paid to talk to him?"


"Harry doesn’t talk to me anymore. We've run out of things to say. It's not like we had much to talk about when we were dating anyway. Besides, you wouldn’t believe the number of women Draco gets who just want someone who'll listen to them. Their husbands tune them out and they have no one to talk to about anything other than how the children are doing, bills being paid, boring stuff that drives some women mad or make them bitter at an early age."


Hermione felt like she would go mad at times being married to Ron. It seemed since the defeat of Voldemort, and after the wedding, they had run out of things to say to one another as well. She had no interest in Quidditch and he had no interest in anything academic.


"There are some who just want a man to have sex with, someone who can make them feel sexy and special once in a great while. It's just sex. I'm the only one he kisses. It's just too intimate an act for someone in that line of work to do. He's had offers for him to kiss other women, but he declines."


"So, when did you guys start..." Hermione made a vague hand gesture to imply what she could not say. She really was having a very hard time with words that day.


"It was about a year ago. I couldn’t stand it anymore. Harry's lack of creativity in the bedroom; you know he called me a nutter once – to my face – when I suggested he tie me down once. Everything was getting to me and Draco was being such a good listener. He started giving me a neck rub, and the next thing I know, we’re on his bed naked and he's making love to me. Not sex, but real, honest to God love. He felt so good and I can't tell you how many orgasms I had. I lost count after eight."


Ginny laughed, her face brightened, "You know, I never understood how a man could fall asleep so quickly after sex, but after that afternoon with Draco, I just wanted to pass out and sleep for days. I fell asleep in his bed, still tangled in his arms. I'm convinced now that you haven’t been properly fucked unless you want to go to sleep as much as the man does after sex."


A secret surge of jealously swept through Hermione. It now seemed that she did have the most pitiful sex life on the planet.


Ginny's secret smile made her face glow, despite the tears still staining her face, "I love him, but I just can’t bear to leave Harry. And it's not like he can just leave England. He’s trapped in this life until he can find a way out."


"And what, take you with him?"


"If he asks me to go with him? Yes. I'd give up everything to be with him. Family, friends, everything. But that's not going to happen. He's stuck until he can find a way out."


Hermione stood up and headed to the kitchen quietly to make a cup of tea. She couldn’t think properly unless she had some tea first.


Ginny came to the doorway to the kitchen and watched her friend. "Now do you understand why you can’t tell Harry? I was miserable before Draco came back into my life. Even if I never saw Draco again, I think it's only an eventuality that I'll leave Harry some day."


Hermione's anger returned and she spun on her friend, the teakettle clutched in a white-knuckle grip. "Then why the hell did you marry him?"


"Cause everyone expected me to! 'Oh Ginny, you're so luck to be dating Harry.' 'Oh, Ginny, when is he going to pop the question?' Everyone expected me to just fall head-over-heels for Harry. Everyone expected me to marry him and the pressure from my family was just too much to bear by myself. You were so elated with the idea yourself; I didn’t have the heart to tell you my reservations. Everyone thought that because I had a crush on him a long time ago, that I would still carry a torch for him. Well, I gave up on that little girl fantasy a long time ago. I grew up! Let me tell you something, Hermione," Ginny said, advancing on her friend with rancor, "be careful what you wish for. You just might get it."


Ginny slumped against the kitchen counter, her hip resting against the chipped white tiles. "When I was a little girl I wanted to marry the famous Harry Potter. Well, here I am, Mrs. Harry Potter, and I'm bloody miserable. Harry won’t talk to me about work, saying it's classified, and I don’t want to hear about Quidditch. I used to be into it, but between my brothers and Harry, I'm sick of it now. Harry wants peace and quiet. I tried fighting with him, but he hates conflict. He's willing to fight dark wizards, but in his personal life he won’t deal with anything unpleasant.


"It's those damn psychotic Muggles who raised him. They made his life hell and now he doesn’t want anything to upset that perfect little world he always dreamed of. Perfect wife and perfect home, topped off with perfect kids I'll have to change and feed and bathe, and be stuck with Harry till I'm old and have forgotten what it was like to feel alive."


Ginny slumped to the floor and cried. Between soft sobs, she begged, "Please don’t tell Harry. He'd kill Draco. And if that happens… I don't know. A large part of me would die." She whimpered in the most piteous manner. "Please… please… please,” she pleaded, whispering the last 'please.'


Hermione empathized with the wretched woman who sat at her feet, looking defeated. She couldn’t understand her relationship with Malfoy, but she could understand the need for a soul mate. That one person who could make her feel all the things Ginny described from her time with Malfoy.


The teakettle began to whistle. Hermione hadn’t made up her mind whether she was going to tell Harry or not. She had been so certain of the conversation she would be having with him the following day, but in light of all Ginny had said, she felt a certain solidarity with the desperate witch.


Once she poured the tea, they both sat at the small wooden table in stony silence. The only sound was the gentle scrapping of their mugs against the wood as they set them down after each sip.


Hermione thought about what Ginny had said. The law, Malfoy's predicament, Ginny's courtship with Harry after the war, sex with Harry, sex with Malfoy, Ginny's feelings, Moody's vendetta against Snape and Malfoy. Her mind buzzed and she felt numb from it all. She would have to think on this tonight.


"So, what are you going to tell Harry?"


Hermione placed her head in her hand. Harry was her best friend, but so was Ginny. Though she and Harry didn’t talk like they used to when they were at Hogwarts, there was a bond that was built from years spent together.


"Don’t know. I haven’t made up my mind."


Ginny rose and looked at the clock. "I have to go home. If I'm not there when he gets home, it will only make him more suspicious." Ginny placed a hand on her friend's shoulder. "You do what you think you have to do. I won’t see Draco again until you've made up your mind."


Hermione raised her head. "Can’t you stop seeing him? Or just talk only?"


Ginny looked at her with that same wise look on her face, as if she were the mother knowing everything and Hermione was just an innocent child who could not comprehend the ways of the adult world.


"I would stay away, if I could. I don’t like betraying Harry, but I married him thinking I lost Draco. If I knew Draco was still out there at the time, I wouldn’t have married him. I made a choice and now I'm regretting it. I have to live with it, but if I can find some happiness, even if it is for a few hours a week, then I'm willing to risk it all."


Ginny walked to the doorway to the living room before she turned to look at Hermione over her shoulder, "What ever decision you make, I'm willing to live with it. Even if it means Draco's death."


And then she was gone.


Hermione broke down and sobbed hysterically.