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Prince of Darkness by softlyforgotten

Format: Novel
Chapters: 18
Word Count: 64,561
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature, Sensitive Topic/Issue/Theme

Genres: Romance, Angst
Characters: Draco, Ginny, Harry, Dumbledore, Hermione, Neville, Ron, Sirius Black, Snape, Voldemort, Narcissa, Luna, Lucius, M. McGonagall, Pansy
Pairings: Draco/Ginny

First Published: 03/03/2005
Last Chapter: 11/26/2005
Last Updated: 11/26/2005

Summary:

A prophecy made by his dying mother at birth predicted that the young boy would die young, because of the one he loved. "Never let him love," she cried, and so the father brought him up to be cold and cruel. Yet can humans defy fate? Eventually a G/D ship. WONDERFUL banner made by Luna Lovegood! Thanks!


Chapter 1: Prologue
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Before any of you think I'm a copyright infringer, I would like to say that Bellatrix Lovegood and softlyforgotten are the same person, and you can email her on what it says is her email address on her muglenet profile which is mikaella@mugglenet.com if you don't believe me!

Disclaimer: I do not own any charactors or settings unless stated otherwise, they all belong to the fabulous, increadible, wonderful *five hours later* amazing, beautiful J.K. Rowling.


His was the smile that took all light out of the air and gave nothing back. His eyebrows were fair and his hair blond; he hated it. It seemed so playboy-ish. Such a mainstream definition of good-looking were his features, they didn’t suit his attitude; his whole demeanor rebelled against them. He walked aloft and proud from the children and Hogwarts, allowing only two cronies to walk with him. They believed that they and he were friends- he knew better. The thick males that he allowed to accompany him were dumb muscle and nothing else- but let them have their stupid ideas if they keep it to themselves.

The only thing that gave the impression of evil were his eyes. Slate gray ones that ate up light and joy, there were few that dared to meet his cold stare. Among them was only one that he respected- indeed, this one was the only man in the world that commanded his respect. And he feared no-one; yet not nothing. Death called to him and he was deadly afraid of it- it attracted him and he longed for it but he knew that he was fated to die young and he resented that. “No cheap fortune-teller will command my destiny,” he often hissed.

At his birth, his mother had lain tired and panting, a deathly weariness coming over her as she held her eerily silent son in pale shaking arms. She was a seer, though he would never admit it, and her last ever prediction was for her young son. As she gazed into his gray eyes, her breathing quickened and as her husband watched, her eyes rolled back into her head.

“He will be the Achilles,” she said in a low, hoarse voice. “He will die young and be forgotten by all but one. None shall mourn but one. He will do great things and die for the one he loves.” Her breathing got fast and shallow. “Lucius!” she cried. “He must not die! For to die he must first love… never let him love.”

Closing her eyelids, she quickly opened them and was herself again. A new glass ball appeared in the Department of Mysteries, and the man stared at her in horror. She obviously had no memory of the prediction except for one residual thought. “Call him Achilles, Lucius,” she whispered.

Her breathing got faster and faster, and suddenly the baby began to wail. “Achilles!” screeched the woman, eyes wild and mad. Then she screamed. A long scream that went for only a minute (but with no breath in between) yet seemed to go for hours. When it stopped, so to did the new mothers heart. She died, Lucius told the doctors, from childbirth but he lied. She had died from the strain of the prediction.

He married only a year after, to a woman with long black hair and dark eyes. Narcissa Black was a good choice for a replacement mother, and the child of the dead woman never guessed she was not his true mother. But Lucius Malfoy never forgot- the woman’s last scream echoed forever in his head along with her last words.

Call him Achilles…

Lucius Malfoy did not call his son Achilles. He was determined that this child would be one of darkness- bringer of fear, not hope.

He called him Draco Malfoy.



Chapter 2: Madness
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Summary: When the gang are forced to share a train compartment with Draco Malfoy, there is no way that it is going to be friendly. Draco has secrets of his own that he is hiding...

She combed her red hair in excitement, pulling on her shabby jeans and red tank top in a hurry. She wandered around the room idly putting things in their places for no apparent reason. It was September 1st, and Ginny Weasley was preparing to leave for King’s Cross Station. As her mother’s order, she called George and Fred, who were staying at the Burrow over the weekend, and got them to levitate her luggage down the stairs. She couldn't wait for the time when she, too, was allowed to use magic at home.

Arriving at King’s Cross, Ginny caught sight of brown hair, and hurried towards it. She grinned up at Hermione Granger, who seemed to have finally had her growth spurt over the holidays and towered half a head taller then most of the seventh years. “How are you, ‘Mione?” she asked.

Hermione smiled back at her. “You ask that when you only saw me last weekend? Ever since you’ve been seeing that friend of mine, I hardly get time to miss you before seeing you again!” Harry had been staying with Hermione over the summer along with Ron, while Ginny had remained at the Burrow.

Ginny turned pink, and opened her mouth to make some witty reply when a long arm went around her shoulders. “Hello sweetheart,” a deep voice drawled. Smiling up at Harry, she wrapped an arm around his waist. Ginny’s boyfriend’s voice had finally broken, and it was now as deep as Ron’s had been for some years.

“Hi,” she said quietly, turning her mouth up for the kiss that Harry neatly planted on her lips.

“For goodness sake, can a guy say hello to his mate without him pashing some common girl?” laughed another voice, and Ron walked up to the group, draping arms around both of their shoulders, sticking his head in between them and making kissing noises.

Ginny pulled apart from Harry and smiled up at Ron. “How are you Ginny? Enjoy staying with mum and dad?” He grinned.

“Alright,” she sighed. “Holidays were boring. Bill went to Austria for a holiday, and I hung out by myself when I wasn’t with you guys.”

Hermione laughed. “Poor Ginny- spending ten minutes by yourself! How did you cope?”

Ginny giggled, and gave Hermione an affable push. “Shuddup,” she growled, mock-angrily.

Although they were not aware of it, the group of friends were being watched. As they had talked, they had walked through the barrier and onto the Hogwarts Express. Not yet bothering to go through the tedious business of finding a compartment, they had stood in the narrow pathway chatting. Tucked away in a small compartment with the door open, Draco Malfoy glared at the group with gray eyes, wondering what possessed Gryffindor’s to throw back and forth this frivolous banter with no seeming intention of stopping it. Hermione however, peered into the compartment and Draco (not wanting it to be known that he was eavesdropping) pushed himself back into a shadowy corner, feeling the leather pattern of the seats imprint itself in his skin.

“This one’s empty!” Hermione announced, leading the way into the compartment. The group followed her and were about to sit down when a voice hissed from the corner where Draco had remained hidden.

“Not quite. Do all mudbloods suffer from blindness or is it just you?”

Ron, spying Draco in the shadows whipped out his slightly crooked wand and pointed it straight at the Slytherin. “Take that back, Malfoy,” he snapped.

Draco smiled slyly. “Let me think about that… Ah, no.”

Harry grabbed Ron by the back of the collar and pulled him back to the sitting position. “Forget about him, Ron. Can’t you see that he’s still the same evil loser that he always was?”

Draco’s smile widened. “At least I’m not poor,” he said silkily.

Ron turned bright red, but he was not the one who answered. Ginny had pulled out her wand too. “How dare you!” she yelled.

“Temper, temper,” Draco tutted.

Hermione stood up hastily. “Don’t worry about him Ron, Ginny,” she said anxiously. “Let’s just go to another compartment.” She was about to lead the group out of the room when a guard saw her about to leave.

“All other carriages are full, Miss,” he said in a strong cockney accent. “I’m afraid you’ll have to stay in here.”

“WHAT?” yelled all Gryffindor’s simultaneously.

The guard shrugged. “Nothing I can do about it. Good day.” He tipped his hat and walked out, shutting the door behind him.

“Oh God,” muttered Harry. Draco smirked at him, and Harry shot Draco an icy glare. Draco smiled cruelly, it had been an awful holiday for him and he decided to vent his anger on these children.

*Flashback*

“Draco, get me a cloth. My head is sore,” Narcissa moaned from the couch. Draco stood up, angrily.

“Mother, you’ve been sore all holidays. I’m not a house elf! Get Eeny to do it!” Eeny, their replacement house elf since Dobby had been freed cowered in a corner.

Lucius Malfoy stood up. “Don’t you dare speak to your mother like that, boy!”

“I’ll speak to her however I bloody want!” Draco yelled.

“NO YOU WILL NOT!” thundered Lucius, standing up and advancing towards Draco, wand at the ready.

Draco’s lip curled. “You’re pathetic,” he sneered. “Only managed to escape from Azkaban because you paid them five sacks of gold! Look at you… you’re not worth the dirt you walk on!” He knew that he was deliberately provoking his father, but he was sick of being treated like a misfit.

“You dare to speak to me like that,” growled Lucius. “You will pay for it! Laedo vulnero!” A jet of purple light shot towards Draco, who was too startled to react quickly enough. The spell caught him in the chest, and he was thrown back to the wall, slamming his head against it and cutting his jaw.

“Expelliarmus!” yelled Lucius, and Draco’s arm was caught neatly and slammed against the wall. There was a sickening crunching noise, and his wrist snapped, leaving the hand dangling at a strange angle. Draco moaned softly in pain, face white.

“Get you’re mother a cloth,” Lucius said in a soft, dangerous voice. Staggering to his feet, blood trickling from his mouth, Draco managed to walk from the room. There, Eeny waited for him.

“Stupid master,” the house elf scolded, using long tapered fingers to gently clean the boy up and heal his arm. “Should have done what the mistress wanted first time! Eeny has warned master several times, but master never listens to Eeny, oh no. Now master hurt again!” Although the house elf seemed annoyed, concern filled his big black eyes. “Master must be careful,” he said quietly. “Eeny knows that Mister Lucius is very angry now, nobody trust him in ministry. You make him angry too. Soon, Mister Lucius hurt you really bad! Then what will Eeny do?”

Draco stared at the house elf with cold eyes, flexing his now healed wrist. “Maybe do some work for once,” he hissed, before going off to find his mothers cloth.

*End Flashback*



Hermione bit her lip nervously, wondering what to do in this awkward situation. “So Ginny,” she said finally. “What did you do all holidays? I didn’t go to the Burrow much, but when I did you weren’t there.”

“Haven’t you heard?” Draco said in mock-surprise. “The Burrow got too crowded, with Molly Weasley having all those illegitimate children and Ginny had to move to the garbage bin.”

Ginny turned bright red, but forcefully made herself ignore him. “I hung out in Hogsmeade a lot,” she said, trying to sound natural.

“Hasn’t a new pub started up there?” Harry asked, getting Hermione’s idea. They must ignore Draco, and speak as if they hadn’t noticed Draco.

“How could you be so rude?” Harry was startled for a minute, then realised that again Draco was speaking. “You know Ginny can only afford to eat what people leave in gutters!”

They ignored his comment once again, and thus the conversation continued in this awkward, stilted manner with Draco interrupting with rude remarks whenever he could. Soon both the girls were almost in tears, and Harry and Ron were filled with rage.

Finally, Ron couldn’t take it any more. “It’ll take more than your little barbs to make me mad!” he hissed.

Draco stood up, and pulled out a jet black wand. “Oh yes? Maybe my wand will then.”

Ginny stood up as well, holding out her wand. “I’ll handle this, guys,” she murmured. “I’ve been longing to practice the new curse I learnt.”

Draco smirked. “Ooh, tangling with the son of a Death Eater are we? Not a wise choice. I’ve been-” He snickered. “Dying, if you will, to practice the killing curse.”

Ginny widened her eyes. “You wouldn’t dare. People go to Azkaban for less than that.”

Draco’s expression suddenly turned from mocking to deadly serious. A weariness that a seventeen year old should not know lined every aspect of his face, and his eyes hid in their cold masses a secret sorrow. “Do I look like I care, Weasley?” It wasn’t a rude, sarcastic comment- it was a question, and one that Ginny dared not answer.

“You’re mad,” she whispered.

A dry smile crept over his face. “Perhaps.”

The train suddenly pulled to a halt, and gratefully the group piled out of the train, Draco following at a distance. Overhead, thunder boomed and lightening forked through the sky, while a steady stream of rain began to fall.

“Strange weather for early September,” Harry whispered. The Gryffindor’s nodded.

Suddenly they realised that Draco was behind them, watching the sky with a strange glint in his eye. “And so the school year begins,” he whispered.


Chapter 3: The Kiss
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Yeah yeah, it's all J.K. Rowling's stuff, I just like to play with it.

Summary:
Telling of Ginny's first day and night at Hogwarts. Is it as bad as she expected? Or is it worse...

The great feast was different that year. Although Albus Dumbledore seemed to not notice the weird atmosphere that swept through the hall, Ginny noticed and it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up in fear. It was as if an ominous black cloud hung over the students, with even the first years seeming more jittery then usual.

Realizing that since the beginning of the sorting a mouth had persistently been massaging her neck, Ginny turned to face Harry, who smiled tenderly at her. His smile faded when he saw the concern on her face. “What’s wrong babe?” He asked, and for the first time Ginny felt a stab of annoyance at his cliché use of endearments.

She paused to compose herself then tried to piece her thoughts together. “It’s… the feast. The whole thing seems so… gloomy.” She shook her head, trying to express herself. “Look at you. You’re sitting there like we always do, Hermione and Ron are arguing like they always do-” she nodded across the table where Ron was once more protesting at Hermione’s ignorance about Quidditch. “And yet… Something’s changed. The storm this evening- like you said weird weather for September. And what Malfoy said on the train…”

Harry snorted. “He was just trying to scare you. He loves to think that fear follows him- don’t give in to it Ginny. You’re probably just tired.”

Ginny frowned, not liking the way Harry had just brushed off the subject. “Maybe you’re right. You know, I am actually very tired.” Harry leaned forward and tried to kiss her, but Ginny moved her chair back quickly. Harry almost fell of his chair and regained his balance looking confused. “I think I’ll skip the feast,” she said quickly, standing up.

“Gin-” Harry began, peeved by her sudden change of attitude towards him.

“I said I’m tired, Harry,” she snapped. Walking quickly out of the hall, she did not notice silver eyes watching her leave.

***


That night she tossed and turned, unable to get to sleep. Eventually she grabbed a rug and levitated a mattress and pillow out of the Gryffindor Common room. Quietly, she snuck up the stairs to the astronomy tower, and there she laid down the bedding. Pulling the rug around her, she sat on the window sill and watched the moonless night. Somehow it seemed foreboding, and Ginny shivered slightly in the cold air- not from chill but a strange apprehension. It was her sixth year and she had a feeling it was not going to be a good one.

Shivers ran up and down her back and determined to catch at least a few hours sleep, she lay down on the thin mattress and banished all fearful thoughts. She was Ginny Weasly, she reminded herself. The girl that half the boys lusted after, the one who was in total control of herself, the one that feared nothing. With a shaky idea of this girl in her head she fell asleep.

Waking only four hours later, she heard a raven crying somewhere in the dark. Her fear from last night engulfed her again, and clambering back onto the windowsill she watched the sun rise, wondering what this strange apprehension was.

She kept remembering what Malfoy had said on the train... somehow it had got to her and she didn't like it.

“You’re mad.”

“Perhaps.” An amused grin, steel glinting in his cold eyes; daring her to challenge him.



“Is he?” she spoke her thoughts out loud. “Is he mad? I never thought of him like that: cruel, evil, discriminating yes but mad? I don’t know.” Her soul seemed to have been suddenly dipped in coldness. “What has he seen to make him go mad?”

“Things you’ll never know. Things that you’d fear and despair of. Things that you’d be tempted to leap off that very ledge to escape from.”

Apprehension clutched at her, and she turned her head to identify the speaker though she already knew who it was. Draco Malfoy leaned on the wall, watching her intently.

Opening her mouth to utter some witty, cold statement, Ginny suddenly changed her mind. “Fuck off Malfoy.”

He flinched, and Ginny stared at him amazed at this sudden break in personality. But then his composure returned and when he spoke it was in the same cold tone that he always used. “I’ll fuck off when and if I want to. I have more right to this castle then you.”

“Oh really?” spat Ginny. “Well I think you’ll find that I too am a pureblood- that’s what means so much to your precious family isn’t it?”

Draco smiled. “So you would think. Of course, you never look deeper into the morals of a true pureblood family. Pick out one value like you just did and use it over and over again as you and Potty, Weasel and the mudblood do- keep it as your mantra against me if you will, for you are ignorant; you read the first rule in the book then presume you can play the game. You know nothing, Weasley.”

Ginny glared at the pale featured boy. “Practice what you preach, boy. What have you against muggle-borns? That ‘mudblood’ you spoke of is currently beating you in marks by a considerable amount. Perhaps you should read more than the first rule- Hermione Granger is a person and more of one then you will ever be.”

A strange expression overtook Draco’s face. His gaze went up and down her body, from her bare feet to shock of red hair. “Are you so sure?” he muttered almost inaudibly.

Ginny did not hear him. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Malfoy? Sizing me up?”

Draco didn’t miss a beat. “There is more than one reason for sizing someone up, Weasley. One is as you no doubt know to check out their body. The second is to see what curse would be used to the best effect.” He smirked. “What do you think I was doing?”

Ginny didn’t bother answering. “Goodbye, Malfoy,” she said, gathering her stuff and once more levitating her mattress. “I can’t say it was pleasant seeing you.”

She left the room and didn’t look back. Draco Malfoy however crossed to the sill and sat on it, slate-gray eyes gazing at the doorway where she had left.

***

“Ignorant boy,” Ginny muttered, sitting somewhat miserably in the library that evening. “I hate him!”

“Hate who?” an inquiring voice asked quietly.

Looking up, Ginny saw Luna slide into the chair in front of her. “Oh, it’s you.” she said harshly, not mad at Luna but wanting to take her rage on the git out on someone.

“Who do you hate?” Luna repeated, eyes wandering dreamily around the room.

“Draco Malfoy, the ignorant prat. I don’t know why Dumbledore keeps Slytherins at the school, there’s not one death eater that hasn’t been in that house! He should cart the lot of them off to Durmstrang, where they belong.”

Hermione appeared as if from nowhere and sat down at the table with them. “What are you talking about?” she asked in a breezy manner.

“Slytherins,” Ginny spat. “And how they’re the most ignorant, annoying, evil, manipulating little pricks to ever walk the planet.”

“Harry Potter was considered for Slytherin,” Luna said mistily.

Ginny and Hermione both stared at her, flabbergasted. “You- you’re lying!” Ginny accused, angrily.

“N-no, she’s not,” Hermione stammered. “How’d you know, Luna?”

“Harry told me,” she replied calmly.

Ginny was baffled. “Harry Potter was considered for Slytherin? You’ve both gone completely insane.”

“No Ginny,” Hermione said quietly. “It’s true. He told us.”

“Well why would he have told you then?” Ginny almost shouted, turning on Luna.

"I think Harry Potter sees a certain similarity between us, ever since I told him about my mother dying. Besides, I notice things. He always looks a little worried when someone calls him a true Gryffindor, and he often hesitates before calling all Slytherin's evil. Like I notice how you Hermione always turn red when ever a certain..."

“Shut up!” screeched Hermione, slapping Luna’s hand while Ginny suddenly became intrigued.

Luna smiled, protruding eyes seeming strangely mischievous. “I have to go to the common room,” she said. “I wouldn’t stay here long if I were you. Lord Tweezemont-”

“Who’s Lord Whatshisname?” Ginny interrupted.

“Lord Tweezemont. Tom Riddle’s father, the most evil of all wizards, and he has sent out an army of Nerfles to fly through the books in secret passageways that only they know and invade the minds of innocent students.”

“There’s no such thing-” Hermione began with an exasperated sigh as Ginny stifled a giggle.

“Yes, there is,” Luna continued. “Cornelius Fudge actually unwittingly created the Nerfles from excessive ear wax…”

She and Hermione left the library, arguing furiously and leaving Ginny to meditate on the revelation that Luna had unveiled.

Harry was almost sorted into Slytherin? Impossible. He’s the boy who lived, for crying out loud! Yet Hermione said it was true… Why wouldn’t he have told me?

She frowned. Maybe he hadn’t thought to. “But,” she muttered under her breath. “It’s not exactly something you forget. Shouldn’t you put that on your dating resume? I’m a great kisser and have the lovely addition of fame and most people worship me, but unfortunately I was almost sorted into Slytherin so I’m probably evil at heart.” Ginny shook her head. Harry was definitely not evil.


Definitely not evil,” she said in a small, uncertain voice before gathering up her books and preparing to leave.

***

Ginny was walking along the corridor with her head in a very good book when she was suddenly pushed hard against a wall. Before she could cry out, a hard mouth pushed onto hers and a tongue explored her mouth. This was definitely not Harry. Struggling, she found that she was pinned to the wall and had no way of escaping. To any passer by she must have looked like she was involved in a snog fest, and there was no way they were going to help her.

Struggling and shaking, breathing through her nose Ginny felt panic rise within her. She tried to scream but the hot, awful mouth covered hers blocking out any noise. Bile rose in her throat but refused to eject, although she would have welcomed a good spew- it would have got whoever this was off her.

Suddenly the strange man collapsed and she looked into the furious eyes of a boy, wand out and pointed at the groaning heap on the floor. Still shaking, she looked down and saw the awful face of Gregory Goyle.

Managing to stumble a few steps away from him, Ginny felt her knees shake and then give way as she collapsed into a small heap on the floor. Then she vomited, its taste horrible and hurting her throat.

A cool hand held her forehead and pulled her hair back as she vomited and vomited. When she finished it offered her a cloth and a glass of water, then Vanished the mess on the ground. The person helped her too her feet and took her to a wall which she leaned against. Turning to face the boy who had saved her, for the second time that day she found herself face to reluctant face with Draco Malfoy.

“Your idea I expect,” she managed to say in a trembling voice.

“No.” his voice was quiet. “Not mine.”

“But you knew… You knew it was going to happen.”

“I thought it was Parkinson. It would have been funny to see her face…”

“You think I look like Parkinson?”

He rubbed his forehead, stressed. “No. You wouldn’t understand…”

“I don’t understand why you seem to take Goyle molesting me as a regular thing!” she exploded.

“I don’t!” he yelled. “I bloody pulled him off you!”

“But you knew it was going to happen! Why’d you let him do it in the first place?”

“Look, Goyle told me Pansy was about to walk round the corner and wouldn’t it be funny if he kissed her. I agreed it would be- I didn’t know it was you! He’s been lusting after you since fifth year…” He flicked a strand of hair out of his eyes.

“I should have known he would have played some trick like this… He’s so thick I can usually see through him.” He was berating himself, talking to himself rather then Ginny and unbelievably, Ginny began to cry.

Draco stiffened, not knowing what to do. “Weasley. Weasley, pull yourself together for Gods sake,” his manner was abrupt, cold and Ginny would never have guessed it was because he was unused to crying girls.

“Shut up,” she whispered. “Just shut the hell up Malfoy. If your mate bloody snogs me I’ll cry if I want. Just… just piss off.”
“Weasley-”

“Please.”

He stood perfectly still for a moment, then nodded his head. “Are you okay to get back to the common room?”

“I- I think so.” she took a few steps of the wall and instantly collapsed again, she was shaking too hard to stand freely.

“Er, look I’ll take you back okay? You need help and it’s past curfew, so you’re friends will probably bee in the common room.”

Much as Ginny wanted to say no, and make her own way back, she knew that Draco was talking sensibly. So uncomfortably, she leaned on his shoulder and allowed him to wrap an arm around her waist. In this strange manner for the two enemies, they made their way to the seventh floor, where Ginny had instructed him to go. Stopping outside the portrait of the fat lady, they pulled apart from each other and Ginny leaned on the wall.

“Well, seeya.” She murmured, blushing.

“Bye.”

“Malfoy? This doesn’t mean we have to be friends, does itr?”

She saw something that looked like anger flash across his face but it was instantly replaced with a sneer. “Of course not. You’ll always be a weasel to me. Besides, it’s not like I saved your life or anything.”

They both knew that he had as good as.

He strode away, and Ginny had a dreadful feeling rthat she had made a mistake. “Draco?”

He turned, surprised at her slip of tongue- why was she calling him Draco? “Yeah?”

“Thanks.”

He smiled and nodded, then left.

“Hippogriff,” Ginny muttered and stumbled inside the common room where Harry sat alone.

“Hello Gin!” He smiled at her.

“It’s Ginny.” Her voice was cold but Harry did not seem to have worked out that she was angry with him yet.

“Come sit on my lap,” he smiled as seductively as the seventeen year old could.

“No thankyou,” Ginny snapped.

“Hey Gin! What’s wrong?”

Ginny rounded on him, fury building up inside of her. “What’s wrong, you bastard, is that I just was pashed- unwillingly to say the obvious- by Gregory Goyle, and you are sitting here in your big fat chair on your big, fat arse and daring to ask me to sit on you!”

She collapsed into a chair by the fire.

Harry stood up, looking not unlike Dumbledore, with fury lining his face.

“Where is he? I’ll kill him I swear!”

“There’s no need. You’ll find him on the second floor by the picture of Podeous the Pompous in a heap, lying where-“ she smiled in grim satisfaction at the horror this was going to cause Harry “-right where Draco Malfoy left him.”

There was silence, horror on Harry’s side (as Ginny had predicted) and smugness on hers. Finally, Harry managed to squeak out one word. “What?”

“That’s right. When you failed to turn up, even Draco Malfoy- my nemesis- did a better job of saving me.” She took a large swig of the butterbeer Harry had gfiven her.

“That’s a little unfair, Gin. How could I have known you were in trouble?”

Ginny set the goblet down with an almighty clang! “That’s your problem, isn’t it!” she shouted. She stormed up to the bedroom and went to sleep, loathing Harry Potter with every inch of her heart.

A/N Okay- Ginny definitly over-reacted on that one! I've decided a quick temper will suit her.... And for those of you who're wondering, no she doesn't really hate Harry, she's just irrationally angry at him. I love reviews!

Chapter 4: The Second Prophecy (Part One)
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A/N: Disclaimer: Yeah, you know it all. All the charactors are J.K. Rowlings, except Aurora Malfoy and I am just using them for my own twisted purposes. Also, the line "You don't need a doctor dear, you need a plastic surgeon" is not mine, much as I wish it was! I nicked it from the episode "The Germans" of Fawlty Towers, a very funny show! Enjoy!

Summary:
A strange collapse.... A bad start to the day.... The game is set, the players ready. But who will set the die rolling?

Ginny awoke with a sinking heart. Lying comfortably in bed, she wondered where this sadness had come from then remembered the events of last night. Crawling out of bed, she grabbed jeans and a black crisp shirt with her school robes folded on top and panties and a bra tucked neatly underneath. Entering the girls’ bathroom she placed the outfit on a shelf and rubbed her eyes sleepily.

Mumbling about how boyfriends should be more considerate she stumbled into the shower only to find that some hilarious youth had jinxed it with a Cold Water spell and Ginny was forced to take a freezing shower. Getting out finally with chattering teeth, she pulled out her clothes and garbed herself as quickly as possible. Frowning at her face in the mirror, she pulled her long wet hair into a loose ponytail, and brushed her teeth.

Throwing her school books, quill, parchment and ink into a worn out satchel, Ginny heard the castle clock strike half nine. The words half nine wandered through her head, searching for something to connect to. Half nine… and lessons were at ten! Running downstairs, Ginny figured that she only had time for some toast. As she crossed the last stretch of passageway before the Great Hall, Ginny’s hair tie snapped and hit her in the face, causing her to rub it, wincing.

Reaching the Great Hall at last to see that the last of the slow eaters was finally meandering out, Ginny grabbed and buttered a piece of (by now cold) toast and was about to add strawberry jam when she stopped. There was no strawberry jam left. Nor any other topping except for…

Marmalade. She groaned. She hated marmalade. But she was starving so she ate it slowly and unwillingly.

When she was halfway through her breakfast, Draco Malfoy swept into the Great Hall looking somewhat less immaculate then usual. The buttons of his robes were undone, showing black jeans and a black t-shirt, and his hair reminded Ginny of Harry’s; it fell all over the place and looked as if it hadn’t yet been combed. It also looked wet… though that was strange as he had some sort of charcoal mark under a lock of hair that she had seen last night, so he couldn’t have had a shower.

He was about to sit at the Slytherin table when Dumbledore- who was the last remaining teacher- stood up, eyes twinkling merrily.

“Mr Malfoy, as you can probably tell, the house elves have just finished clearing the Slytherin table- indeed all of the places save the one next to Ms Weasley, so if you could please sit there.”

“But sir-”

“With all due respect, Mr Malfoy, it was a command not a request.”

Draco reluctantly stood up and hoping to God that none of the other Slytherins’ saw him here, went and sat next to Ginny.

They ate in a tension filled silence until Ginny finished eating. Pulling out her timetable to check the lessons ahead, before she read it she couldn’t help a small, despairing mutter; inaudible to all but her.

“Can this day get any worse?”

She studied her timetable and swore. Double potions.

***

He woke with a start, ice cold water being poured with great relish over him. Pansy Parkinson giggled as she shook the last few drips out of the jug and tried not to laugh outright as Draco sat up, swearing.

“What the hell d’you think you’re doing, Parkinson?” he snapped, running a hand through his already messy hair.

“Sorry Draco,” she laughed. “But it’s half nine and you have to get up. I’ve already had my breakfast.”

“Half nine! Are you crazy woman? Why didn’t you wake me earlier?”

Pansy shrugged and left the room, smothering sniggers under a hand. Draco got dressed in world record time, not bothering with a shower. After all he’d had one yesterday- or was it the day before? He shrugged, not caring. After all, he was a teenage boy- and as long as he kept himself cleaner then the golden trio that was all that mattered.

Throwing his school robe loosely over his outfit, he tied his sneakers, brushed his teeth and ran out of the dormitory, vowing to kill Parkinson the moment he got his chance. She was sitting down with her legs swinging over an arm of a chair, reading a book about some sort of long dead wizard.

“Ready for breakfast are we Draco?” she giggled, unable to resist a final jibe.

He didn’t have time to kill her, so he simply gave her the finger and left. As he left the common room he heard her voice echo through.

“What a ridiculously mudblood gesture, Draco dear! You want to improve your comebacks.”

He muttered something under his breath and began to ascend the staircases that would lead him to the great hall. As he was about to enter, he bumped into a Hufflepuff third year whom he recognized as always being the last one to finish any meals.

“Get out of my way, Hugglepork,” he hissed, feeling a moment of grim satisfaction descend upon him as the child squeaked and ran away. Entering the Great Hall, Draco involuntarily caught his breath. Ginny Weasley was the only student and she looked… stunning. Her red hair fanned out across her back and as she had her back to the main table he could see that she had left the top two buttons of her robe loose, along with the first button of a black shirt that clung beautifully to her curves- was it done purposely? he wondered. It revealed a patch of skin, whiter then he had ever imagined and it seemed to taunt him.

He kept his face smooth, and was about to sit at the Slytherin table when Dumbledore announced that he should sit at the Gryffindor table- next to Ginny.

“But sir-” you can’t expect me to sit next to her. She’s a mudblood lover, and what’s worse is that I can’t breathe properly whenever I’m near her. I can’t sit next to her sir; because my heart thumps so loudly that it hurts and I’m surprised no-one can hear it.

He didn’t say this of course, but he thought it and when he walked to the table his lip curled from sheer habit.

God don’t let the Slytherin’s see me here…

She ate as fast as she could, and he knew that she was avoiding his eyes, as he was hers. She muttered something that he couldn’t quite catch and then seemed increasingly angry about something that her timetable said. When she left, he sighed with relief and longing. He wanted her to leave… and to stay. Checking his own timetable, and checking that he had his Charms books, he stood and prepared to leave, leaving his half eaten toast on the plate. Not like it was a great loss- he hated marmalade.

As he made his way out of the hall, he thought he saw Ginny’s face again in his mind, as it had been when he had walked to sit next to her. The expressions on it where a mix; horror, disgust and… something else? No, of course not. He must have imagined it.

“Bloody teenage hormones,” he muttered, leaving for his lesson.

***

Ginny’s face was ashen and pale as she entered double potions. Luna had a spare chair next to her so Ginny slid into that, but she felt increasingly weak. Reaching into her bag, she pulled out her quill and parchment with a shaking hand, and placed her wand on the table. The heavy potions textbook slipped out of her hand however, and landed with a thump on the floor. Luckily Snape had not yet arrived, but she cursed herself for her own clumsiness. Finally pulling out her bottle of ink, she cried aloud when her hand gave a particularly violent shake and dropped the bottle, causing the ink to fly everywhere as the bottle shattered into a thousand pieces.

“Clumsiness, Ms Weasley, will not be tolerated in my classroom,” came the cold voice of Professor Snape as he swept into the dungeon. “Five points from Gryffindor. Reparo.” He placed the fixed bottle on Ginny’s desk with a sneer. “Watch yourself,” he hissed.

Ginny blinked large brown eyes at him, and her chest heaved up and down quickly. With a slight moan, Ginny fell to the floor, eyes closed.

***

“It’s all very strange, Albus. She has no fever, cold, sickness or disease, no broken bones or torn muscles, no evidence of a build up of pain nor lack of sleep or nutrition. There are no symptoms at all for her collapse.”

“Has she been checked for magical symptoms?”

“Yes, nothing there either. It’s as if… as if she died of natural causes.”

“But she is not dead,” the male voice came sharply.

“No, no, of course not, Headmaster. But it is just as unexplained as that…” There was a long sigh.

“Maybe there’s dark magic at work!” came a worried different voice.

“Mr Potter, I have told you to get out. Ginny Weasley does not require your presence for her recovery. And there is no dark magic at work, because there is no evidence of magic at all- if there was any magic used in her collapse young man, I can assure you that I would have found a trace of it. Now leave.”

Heavy footfalls resounded across the room then faded to nothing.

“You do know what the strangest thing about this is, Albus?”

“No, Poppy, I do not. Enlighten me.”

“Professor Flitwick has informed me that Draco Malfoy collapsed at exactly the same time. He’s in the bed next to Ms Weasley’s, and he too has no sign at all of what may have caused this sudden lapse into unconsciousness.”

There was silence for a minute, then the male voice came again, slowly.

“Could there be a connection between the two?”

“Well naturally there must be. I mean, it is a bit of a coincidence isn’t it?”

“Coincidences happen.”

“You know as well as I do that the fool who says that is the one caught by surprise when something bad happens because of that coincidence- something that could have been stopped.”

“I know. I was hoping that this would be one of those unexplained magical things that do not have any further impact on anybody’s life. Have you checked for a connection between the two students?”

“I have. I could not see anything… but the strangest thing happened last night as I was watching over the pair.”

“What?”

“A woman appeared. She was obviously not human… she was almost transparent. Yet she was not a ghost. She looked…” There was a gulp. “Like a female Draco Malfoy.”

There was a hiss as someone took in a sharp breath.

“Continue, Poppy.”

“She cried aloud- an awful cry, Albus, I’ll never forget it for as long as I live. And then the curtain between the two flew back and she pointed at Mr Malfoy and Ms Weasley and- and- I saw their auras…”

“You’re absolutely sure?”

“Yes Albus. I’ve never been surer of anything in my life. The boy- his was black with streaks of gold and green. Hers was gold, with streaks of black and red. And between them… there was a link. A silver chain that stemmed off hers and finished on his. It was… awe inspiring. But the woman… she seemed terrified of it. And she brought out this knife and tried to cut it in half, but it wouldn’t be broken… Not even frayed. And she disappeared, with tears running down her face… And I felt… this strange maternal pain… one that I have not felt for so many years… twenty years, Albus, when William died.”

There was a broken sob, and a soothing male voice.

“He was only three months, Albus. So young and I loved him so much.” A sniff. “It was a long time ago. But when the woman tried to break the link… all the pain came back to me, as fresh as it was the day I realised he was gone forever. And yet with it-” the woman’s voice was full of wonder. “There came a strange hope. And I had this strange sense that everything was going to be okay.” There was a light chuckle. “I’m rambling. But it was the strangest experience I’ve ever had. Ever.”


“Thank you Poppy. I must take time to consider this turn of events. But for now…”

Two sets of footsteps began to walk away, the voices becoming indistinguishable. A slight breeze blew through the hospital wing, and once more the curtain blew back between the beds of Draco Malfoy and Ginny Weasley.

Suddenly, resounding through the castle came the sound of a heavy gong. It was inexplicable, but at the same moment both Ginny and Draco’s eyes flicked open, both becoming wide awake in a moment.

Ginny’s tongue flicked over her dry lips, searching for some droplet of moisture. Sitting up and rubbing sleep out of her eyes, she blinked in surprise to find herself sitting in the hospital wing.

“What the hell…” she murmured. Her eyes flicked over to the table set beside her bed and alighted upon a glass of water. Taking it and drinking it all in one long swig, she suddenly saw who was in the next bed.

Draco Malfoy too had woken with a terrible thirst, and he too found a glass of water on a bedside table which he too finished in one drink. Then he noticed Ginny who had been staring at him as he seemed to follow what she had done exactly without realizing it.

“You,” she hissed.

“Weasel? What are you doing in the Slytherin-” it suddenly dawned on him that he wasn’t in the Slytherin Common Room, and his expression grew confused.

“What am I doing here?”

“How would I know?” she snapped, angry for no reason. “I woke up with no idea where I was as well. And why isn’t the curtain drawn back?”

“I was in charms class,” Draco mumbled to himself. “And I got all shaky… I dropped the books… Parkinson was laughing…”

Ginny had been listening. “Oh, that must have been a frightening experience, seeing old pug-face laughing down at you…”

At that moment the object of their discussion walked over and spotted Draco, a relieved expression coming over her face. “Oh, thank God you’re awake Draco…” She spotted Ginny suddenly. “Hey, it’s the Weasel King’s sister. What the hell are you doing here?”

Ginny sneered at her. “Look what the cat brought in,” she spat. “A stinking, ugly rat.”

Pansy glared at her, then turned back to Draco, ignoring Ginny. “I’ll go get the nurse.”

“You don’t need a nurse, dear, you need a plastic surgeon,” Ginny laughed, delighted with herself.

Pansy stalked off, and Draco leapt out of bed the moment she was out of sight. Ginny too stood up, sensing a fight and as she did so cursed Madam Pomfrey.

The nurse didn’t like the patients wearing school robes when she put them under an examination- as Madam Malkin’s robes often had a bit of magic in them that blocked intrusions. Therefore she used a charm that transformed the clothes into more hospital appropriate gear. However, the more clothing you wanted on them, the more complicated the spell and Madam Pomfrey insisted that she needed to use simple charms whenever possible so that she would be fresh when she needed to perform harder spells.

Ginny had woken up in a thin white nightdress, which was drifting just above her knees and was a little too tight for her liking. It seemed that the nurse had cut down even more on Draco, who was wearing a pair of white pants- and nothing else. His bare chest was in full view, and his taught yet not over-muscley (but not fat or thin either) body in contrast with his blazing eyes was kind of breathtaking.

“Don’t speak to her like that!” he spat.

“Ooh, I seem to have hit a nerve,” Ginny sniggered, never letting her fascination with him show.

“Don’t you ever talk to her like that, you dirty-”

Somebody’s overprotective about their girlfriend-”

“She is not my-”

“Well you certainly act like it, swaggering around the place like some overgrown-”

“At least I don’t follow the Dream Team around like some stray looking for a life who-”

“I do not follow them-”

Mr Malfoy! Ms Weasley! What do you think you are doing?” The cold, furious voice of Madam Pomfrey froze both of them to the spot. “Yelling in a hospital wing. I am disgusted! Twenty points from Gryffindor and Slytherin!”

“But-” both voices clamored at once.

“No buts! You’ve both been unconscious for three days, and the first thing you do once waking up is have a screaming fight?”

Both were completely silent. Then, Ginny gasped “Three days?”

“Yes. Both Mr Potter and Ms Parkinson have been very worried.”

Ginny and Draco both turned red.

“I would like to conduct a brief medical examination on the both of you before releasing you- if I deem you well enough. Once you leave you may have the rest of the day free from lessons.”

***

Albus Dumbledore walked with his eyes on the ground. He was allowing himself to do the one thing he rarely did in company; despair. Tears glistened in his twinkle-free blue eyes, and a heavy sadness weighed upon his heart.

His thoughts returned often to what Poppy Pomfrey had said.

She looked like a female Draco Malfoy…

Could it be that Aurora Malfoy had returned when she sensed that times of death were drifting ominously towards the castle, like a black cloud? Albus did not know. He sank down upon a step in front of an empty, unused classroom opposite from the Divination Tower, head in his hands.

“I need you Lissy,” he whispered. “Now more than ever.”

His mind drifted back to a stormy night, and he shivered as the chill of the memory settled upon him.

*Flashback*

A younger Albus Dumbledore opened the door and ushered the woman inside. She wore a black, shapeless cloak that was obviously worn to conceal the persons identity, but she did not fool Dumbledore although Albus doubted that it was he she wished to deceive. She pulled off her cloak and hung it dripping on a coat rack, revealing the form of Narcissa Malfoy.

Black eyeshade and mascara gave her the impression of darkness, and her deep red lipstick made a startling contrast to her pale face. “Albus,” she said in that deep throaty voice. Dumbledore had once heard a student in his Transfiguration class say that she had the voice of a sex goddess.

“Narcissa. What a pleasant surprise to see you… I must admit surprise that you are here; I would have thought that Lucius Malfoy had banned you from visiting me.”

A faint pink blush crept over her cheeks. “Lucius is very… protective of me,” she murmured. “But first and foremost I am Narcissa Black, half-sister to Aurora Malfoy; and Lucius need never know I was here.”

Albus nodded, his back to her, hands clasped in front of the fire.

“I have not come for idle chitchat, Dumbledore. You know that Lucius’ son, Draconis, will start Hogwarts in the following year.”

“If he is accepted,” the reply was soft and mild, in no way threatening.

“Don’t be stupid,” hissed Narcissa. “The boy is a Malfoy for God’s sake. And recently he has been breaking windows accidentally when he gets angry without even being in the room. We both know he will be accepted.”

There was a small, almost imperceptible nod.

“Aurora appeared to me last night in a dream. She told me to come here and tell you to- to look after the boy. He must not love, she said. We all know the prophecy. By all means let him lust, let him kiss, let him do whatever hormonal teenage boys do, but on no account let him love.”

“But love is the greatest magic of all.”

“No,” Narcissa replied harshly. “Death is. Aurora… she is terrified for him. Her bonds of love for him tie her to the earth and she is in limbo, unable to go anywhere though not by conscious choice.” Fear passed over the woman’s face, a dark shadow. “She- she haunts me. Draco knows nothing of his true mother; he thinks I am his true mother. But Lucius cannot hide it for many more years… Soon…. soon he will know.” Her eyes filled with dread. “And what will happen then I do not know…”

“I’m afraid of him, Albus. He is only ten, yet his stare is so powerful- his whole demeanor is powerful. I hate being left alone with him.”

“I will look after him, Narcissa. I promise.”

Narcissa closed her eyes, a strange look passing over her face before she stood up and shrugged on her cloak again.

“I may not see you again soon, Godfather.”

“I know. Narcissa…”

He pulled up one of her sleeves, traced the dark bruise on her arm. She flinched. His eyes met hers, questioning.

She stepped out of the doorway and prepared to leave but finally turned back to him. She spoke for the last time in many years to him, and the harrowing words sent coldness into his blood. “Lucius gets angry.”

*End Flashback*

He stood to leave when suddenly he heard a deep, throaty voice; one that he knew well but had not heard for a long time. He turned, and saw Sybil Trelawney with her eyes unfocused and staring beyond him.

“The dark days draw near, Dumbledore,” she rasped. “The Dark Lord gathers his followers to him… Soon he will attack in a force never known before. With the black dog gone, it is down to his godson to save the wizarding world as we know it. But he will not be alone…”

There was heavy breathing, and then the awful voice of Sybil continued. “One shall follow the boy and fight at his side, the best friend of the Boy Who Lived. Another, quick of mind and love shall follow him and fight and die in the name of her claim.”

Another deep breath. “But all Wizarding World should fall if it is not for two young adults, witch and wizard one with hair as red as flame, one with heart as cold as ice. Only once united will the Dark Lord be defeated… yet at a terrible cost.”

“Remember the words of Aurora Malfoy! Let not her prophecy be forgotten, nor should mine…”

Trelawney blinked, her eyes refocused and she seemed for a moment unsure of her surroundings.

“Oh hello, Dumbledore. Leaving already?” she asked in her misty voice. “Oh well, give my regards to Fawkes.”

Dumbledore nodded and left, sweeping across the castle in so worried and hurried a fashion that many students stopped and stared. Reaching his office, he finally called Minerva McGonagall.

“Minerva,” he said quietly. “Have the following students brought to my office. Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger.”

He stopped and stared into thin air, and Minerva prepared to leave. She was almost out of the door when…

“Wait.” She turned. “Bring also Draco Malfoy… and Ginevra Weasley.”



Chapter 5: The Second Prophecy (Part Two)
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Chapter Five: Growing Up

Summary: In the darkness of a mind recovering from pain and emotional trauma, what will it prepare?


Ginny dreamt.

Harry was close to her, caressing her, loving her. She leant in to him, blending into him as much as she could. His aftershave smelt slightly different from usual… Sharper, spicier… she liked it a lot better than the one he usually wore. He smiled down at her, and there was no need for words. Suddenly, Harry’s eyes saddened. He pushed her away… there was a flash of terrible green light… Harry was falling, falling… High pitched laughter resounded from somewhere.

She woke up sweating, terrified for a moment that it hadn’t been a dream. Then she saw Draco… and screamed. It was only a short scream, because she quickly got control of herself but seeing Draco first thing upon waking up had been a bit of a fright.

“Hey- shut up, Weaslette,” Draco said, amused and not making her name sound like an insult for once.

“God you gave me a start,” she said, a smile curving her pretty lips. “Where am I…?”

“Don’t you remember?” Draco asked surprised. “You came running to the room of requirement…”

“Oh yes,” Ginny said, memories flooding back to her. “After Dumbledore said that… that I might have to kill someone.”

Draco’s face darkened. “We have to talk about that,” he murmured.

“What’s to talk about?” she snapped. “I’m not killing anyone. Ever.”

“Weasley, you have to listen to me. If they get the chance, the Death Eaters will kill you. Voldemort, given the chance, would kill you. There is no way that we can win against the Dark Side if we do not kill some of their numbers. Death Eaters will not feel pity for you; neither should you for them…” He smiled the terrible smile that took all light out of the air and gave nothing back. “I should know; I was raised by one. Death Eaters are killing innocent people. You would not be doing that- if they are caught alive Ginny, they would probably be sentenced to death anyway or Azkaban, which is worse.”

“I don’t want to kill anyone,” Ginny said, lip trembling. “I’m sixteen… I’m not meant to know how to kill someone.”

Draco sighed. “You mightn’t even have to kill them,” he said as gently as he knew. “Just as long as you know, as long as you can- can be able to save yourself and others if need be, then you’d be safe.”

“Malfoy,” she said quietly. “I think I’ve handled this rather well. I’ve just been told that I am expected to fight in a war and that pretty much the whole future of civilization rests upon me. I’ve agreed to take dueling lessons. I’ve agreed to spend more time with you, and that’s saying something. But I’m not going to learn how to ruthlessly murder someone.”

Draco rested his head on his hands, some locks falling into his eyes and Ginny felt a sudden strange temptation to brush them away rise in her. She folded her hands in her lap. “Things are changing,” he said quietly. “I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be made to grow up a lot faster then we should be-”

“I’m grown up,” Ginny interrupted indignantly.

“You’re very mature,” Draco acknowledged.

Did he just pay me a compliment? she wondered, before realizing he was still speaking.

“But your reluctance to kill showed that you’re not grown up yet. Neither am I. Neither is Potter, neither is your brother, neither is the Mud- er, Granger.” he corrected himself at her glare.

Ginny suddenly understood what he meant. She nodded slowly.

“You don’t have to learn to kill. But you’re going to have to learn a few nasty curses.”

“I know a few already,” Ginny grinned.

“I know.” he smiled wryly, remembering an incident two years ago. “Actually Weasley, that reminds me of something. In Umbridge’s office, two years ago, remember? You were going to use that curse on me- the one I heard almost killed Granger in the department of mysteries. But you didn’t. Why not?”

Ginny froze, remembering the event.

*Flashback*
.
Time seemed to slow down. She was aware of Neville punching his fist in the air as he pulled off a curse and spells banged and cracked and (often) narrowly missed her. But it did not seem important to her. All she saw was him. His face was abnormally flushed in the excitement of the fight and his hair flicked in all directions as he swiveled, casting curse after curse in a desperate attempt to turn the odds. She almost felt sorry for him; except for maybe Pansy Parkinson he was the only good dueler on the Inquisitorial team. He had stopped wearing the gel, she noted. His hair seemed lighter without it.

She almost giggled watching him. He was laughing, a smile setting light upon his face. She did not know that his smile was only like this because he hadn’t realised he was smiling; otherwise it would be dark and foreboding.

Does he only ever laugh happily in a fight? she wondered. Then her fighting instincts kicked in.

“Hey Malfoy,” she called.

He turned and faced her and a strange look came over his face but before she could recognize it it was replaced with a cold, calculating glare.

He raised his wand and called out an unknown curse but Ginny nimbly dodged it. Opening her mouth and beginning to utter the first syllable of the dreaded curse, she started to slash her wand down as required when she met his gaze. There was fear in his eyes; he knew what the curse was. She stopped and let her wand fall to her side; the spell fizzled to nothing.

Knowing she still had to eliminate him from the battle, she cast a quick Bat Bogey Hex. That should keep him occupied, she thought grimly- but she was still grinning at the look that had passed between them.

Even as she joined Harry in the Forbidden Forest, she still had a lovely feeling in her stomach.

Like she had a bit of a crush.

*End Flashback*

“I don’t know… I guess you were losing so badly I wanted to give you a bit of a chance,” she said vaguely, knowing the lie sounded hollow.

Draco nodded, but there was an amused look in his eyes.

“Have… have you heard from Dumbledore?” Ginny asked.

“He sent an owl while you were sleeping. Our first lesson is tonight, at seven. Here.”

Tonight?” Ginny gasped.

“He seemed to think it was a good idea to get started ASAP,” Draco explained.

“Oh. What time is it?”

“The castle clock struck half six just before you woke, so I’d say we have about a quarter of an hour till he joins us.”

“Is he- is he going to teach us The Unforgivable Curses?”

“I… I think so. But you don’t have to learn the killing curse, Ginny, I won’t let him teach you that,” his voice was suddenly fierce… Ginny felt warm and protected.

“Thanks… Draco.”

His mouth didn’t twitch but his eyes seemed to light up at her calling him by his first name.

They sat in comfortable silence. They seemed to follow a pattern; for two minutes Ginny would completely avoid Draco’s eyes, staring out the window while he took the chance to study her and then they would swap.

Eventually, Dumbledore knocked and swept into the room. Ginny and Draco slid off the window sill and stood awkwardly in front of him, while Dumbledore observed them dryly.

“Er, Professor?” Ginny finally murmured. “I- I’m sorry for my actions earlier. It was all…” she hesitated. “A bit much.”

Dumbledore smiled sadly at her. “I completely understand, Ms Weasley. But have you had adequate time to think over my words?”

Ginny nodded. “I have, Professor. But… but I still don’t want to learn how to kill someone. I’ll learn all you want, just not that. Please understand…”

Unconsciously, Draco stepped up to stand by Ginny, subtly showing his support for her. “That will be fine Ms Weasley,” Dumbledore said smoothly. “And what are your thoughts on the matter, Mr Malfoy?”

“Sir, I don’t want to kill anyone. But I think that I should learn the spell in case there is no other alternative in battle. You mentioned that Ginny and I would work together during fighting, so it makes sense if one of us is able to kill.”

Dumbledore nodded gravely. “There is one other thing. I am sorry I have to bring this up, Draco, but I must ask where your loyalties lie.”

Draco’s eyes flashed dangerously. “My loyalties remain the same as they have ever been. Pity nobody’s bothered to ask me what that was.”

“I’m asking you now, Mr Malfoy.”

Draco glared at the headmaster. He did not reply in words, instead rolling up a sleeve and showing a pale, unblemished arm. “Answer enough for you?” he said quietly.

Dumbledore nodded, unwanted sympathy showing on his face.

“We should begin,” he said.

Dumbledore cleared his throat. “I want you to work as a team. Together, you must be able to bring down a great number of Death Eaters and be able to also distract Voldemort. I think that the way to make this war work is for you two to control his complete attention, giving Harry a chance at killing him. Only united can we win. That means, that one lesson a week Mr Potter, Ms Granger and Mr Weasley will be joining you so that you learn to work together.”

Draco grimaced. Dumbledore ignored him.

“On Thursday nights, such as tonight, you will learn to move as a quick, accomplished team. You will both be taught to Apparate, along with all other members of the DA.”

Ginny’s eyes lit up. It seemed there would be good sides to this after all.

“I am also going to give you unlimited passes to the restricted section. You will be expected to train an extra three nights a week when you’re not being taught. I know this might seem harsh, but it’s better than being killed.”

“You will also attend lessons once a week with Professor Snape. These lessons will go for two hours and will be divided into two parts. In the first half, you will learn to brew a series of deadly poisons. These are in case you are taken alive-”

Ginny interrupted. “You wish us to kill ourselves should we be taken captive?”

Dumbledore’s eyes widened. “Good God no. I wish for you to be able to get out of there if your wands have been taken. As I was saying, in the second half you will be taught Occlumency.”

Ginny and Draco exchanged a quick glance. “Do you understand?”

They nodded. “Any questions?”

There was a pause, and then Ginny spoke shyly. “Please sir, only it’s a dreadful amount of work and it’s Draco’s NEWT year…”

“Of course. I will speak to your teachers about homework…” his eyes twinkled. “Sometimes I find teachers give homework more for quantity rather then quality. So I will speak to them about getting less work, although they will expect that your lesser amount of work be up to a higher standard. Also, I will speak to Professor Ellis about you two not attending Defense Against the Dark Arts as I think you will be doing more then enough, and perhaps to Severus about you missing one double potions lesson. Mr Malfoy, I will organize for you to undertake a different NEWTs exam, going more with the things you learn this year. Will that be sufficient?”

Ginny smiled. “Yes Professor. Thank you.”

“Well, we better get started then.”

They began simply. Dumbledore taught them how to block and particularly with Ginny he went over again and again the shield charm. Although she was pretty good at it, she could only hold it for a few seconds before holes began appearing in it. Draco got it pretty much straight away, although he would often lose his concentration after a minute, causing it to evaporate. Dumbledore was insistent about them learning to hold it for five minutes- quite a feat! By the time Ginny had managed it she was perspiring from the effort.

He revised their skills of simple defensive and attacking spells, and found that they were well ahead of their year level. He knew that Ginny had been part of the DA, but he wondered how Draco had become so good so quickly. He didn’t think that Lucius seemed quite the teaching persona, but there was a dark mystery in Draco’s eyes that defied him from asking.

The two hours dragged on, and when Ginny was finally allowed to leave she was exhausted. She wandered up to the astronomy tower, wanting some cool air when she found herself to her surprise joined by Draco Malfoy.

“What did you think of that?” he asked.

“Frankly,” she replied honestly. “I don’t know how I’m going to cope. I’m so tired… and I was unconscious for three days!”

“We’ll probably get used to it,” he said levelly. “Our bodies will adjust. I expect you’ll feel tired for a week or so and then get on top of it. Good about missing out on Defense against Dark Arts though, hey?”

Ginny grinned. “You bet! I wonder if Harry and Ron and ‘Mione got off it too.”

“Probably didn’t think to ask,” he said coldly. She noticed that whenever he was relaxed any mention of “the trio” would be sure to bring him back to his usual self.

“Draco… Are you and Pansy going out?”

He looked at her amused. “No. We’re just friends.”

“Very close friends,” she said suspiciously. “And what about the Yule Ball?”

“I took her as a friend!” he insisted.

“She called you ‘Drakie’.”

That was annoying. But I didn’t think you would be one to criticize a crush.”

“What d’you mean?”

“What about your first year? At least Parkinson could talk to me without dropping something,” he smiled as Ginny turned red. “She had the same kind of crush as you had on Potter.”

“A big one then,” muttered Ginny.

Draco stiffened. “Yes. Luckily, she grew out of hers.”

Ginny glared at him. “Was that an insult Malfoy?”

“Of course not,” he smiled innocently.

“Draco?” she said hesitantly. “Are we… still enemies?”

His demeanor became thoughtful. “I don’t think so,” he said slowly. “I don’t think you get told that only united will you bring down the Dark Side without becoming…” he grimaced. “You know. I’ve never really been into the “F” word.”

Ginny grinned. “So I’m privileged then.”

“Yes. But don’t go telling people or you’ll be a privileged corpse.”

She laughed, then yawned and apologized.

“You better go to bed.”

“Yeah. Things sure change in a day, hey?”

“I suppose. Goodnight Ginny.”

“Night.” She stood uncomfortably for a moment, unsure of whether to hug him or just leave. Feeling foolish, she held out her hand to shake his. He took it gently, but instead of shaking brushed his lips on her hand.

They were standing too close for only recently reformed enemies, she realised. She could smell his aftershave; he hadn’t let go of her hand. Finally, she pulled it away, and left with a small glance over her shoulder at him. He was staring into the starry night.

It was only as she reached the Gryffindor common room that she realized that Draco smelt exactly like Harry had in her dream.

***

Draco entered the common room late that night, at half past one in the morning. Only Pansy Parkinson was left, reading a new book. She looked up when he arrived.

“You’re up late.”

“I got plenty of sleep in the coma.” he almost smiled.

“Where’ve you been? I didn’t see you at dinner.”

“I had to see Dumbledore… I ran into the Weaslette on the way.”

Pansy sneered. “Why are you telling me this, Malfoy? You think I care about her?”

“I’m telling you because we… Oh, fuck it. I guess I better start at the beginning.”

He sat down and told her everything, leaving out the bit where he had watched Ginny sleeping on the windowsill for an hour and a half.

“So you and the Weaslette have to work together?”

He nodded. She laughed. “You poor bastard.”

He felt a sudden rush of rage. “Goodnight Parkinson,” he said coldly, standing and heading up to the boys dormitory.

Pansy looked at the mirror on the wall. “He couldn’t be,” she said firmly.

“If you say so dear,” it sang back.

***

It was with some hesitation that on Friday night, Ginny made her way down to the dungeons. Draco joined her at the top of some staircase that led deeper into the castle; she suspected it would lead to the Slytherin common room but did not ask, guessing that he wouldn’t answer. They walked swapping idle banter for a little until they reached the potions classroom. Draco didn’t seem at all worried, but then Harry had told her that he was Snape’s favourite.

Ginny grimaced remembering Harry’s reaction to her and Draco having to spend so much time together.

*Flashback*

“It’s wrong!” Harry ranted. “You shouldn’t have to hang out with that… that evil, conniving little boy! What the hell was Dumbledore thinking? Maybe heart of ice could have meant someone else…”

“Don’t be an idiot Harry,” she snapped in return. “How many people at this school have a heart of ice? Even most of the Slytherins have some good points, and I don’t think the prophecy wants me to join forces with Snape. No, it’s definitely him- Dumbledore thinks so and I believe him. Besides, he’s not that bad-”

“Not that bad???” Harry yelled. “Are we talking about the same guy who’s made your schooling life a misery for the past six years?”

“I’ve hardly been miserable. He was a nuisance- you’re just annoyed because you’re jealous.”

Jealous? Of the Ferret? Are you joking woman?”

“Oh come on Harry. A certain part of you feels honored that you’re so important to wizards around the world. So was I. You’re jealous because Draco Malfoy may have something to do- something major to do- in stopping the Dark Side.”

Harry glared at her. “I’d almost think that you want to hang out with him!”

“Don’t be an idiot!” she repeated. “I’m just trying to stop the inevitable confrontation that is going to end with- with-”

She hunted desperately for words to suit her needs.

“End in tears?” Ron suggested quietly from the other side of the room where he had been watching.

Both Harry and Ginny turned around and said in unison “What?”

Ron turned red. “Mum used to say it,” he muttered.

Harry made an exasperated snorting noise and turned back to Ginny. “Gin, you’re my girlfriend and I don’t want that evil-”

“Oh so this is what it’s about then,” Ginny screeched. “You’re feeling threatened because you’re worried that I may fall in love with Malfoy? You are crazy, Potter. And you’re being too protective about me! D’you know what I do to people who get protective about me, Potter?”

Ron winced.

“I use my very good skills at Bat Bogeying!”

Ron let out a little whimper.

“So I’d watch it if I were you, Potter and if you don’t believe me ask my dear brother who poked his nose in one times too many about the guys I was seeing!”

Ron gulped and nodded as Ginny stormed out of the room.

*End Flashback*

Draco smiled at Ginny and held the door open for her, stepping in after she did.

The sallow face of Severus Snape glowered at them, greasy hair falling into his face. His cold, black eyes lingered on Ginny and again, almost automatically, Draco stepped up and stood next to her. Snape raised an eyebrow and surveyed the pair, a small, mocking smile forming on his lips.

“So,” he drawled. “Once more I am to teach students the art of Occlumency. I cannot say I am pleased about taking a Gryffindor into my extra-curriculum classes-”

Ginny snorted. Snape continued as if he hadn’t heard. “As behavior demonstrated by one such Lion was proved most unsatisfactory-”

Ginny turned red and opened her mouth ready to retort when Draco stepped on her foot.

“But as I have been given no other option, I see it is necessary. Well, to begin we are to learn the subtle art of potions. I must warn you that the only potions we will brew here that would not kill you on the spot are the antidotes to such mixes. You are not here to have fun- you two have been selected for a dangerous task and as such I will ask you to act responsibly. I have seen such behavior demonstrated by Mr Malfoy in his classes, but not as yet from you, Ms Weasley so I will expect a change from you, now, if not sooner.”

Ginny was only restrained from flying at the Potions Master by Draco’s hand discreetly gripping her wrist.

“You may take your seats.”

Ginny and Draco sat at the small table at the front. Sitting with Harry at such a table she would have felt perfectly comfortable. Now, she felt acutely the closeness between them, the tension. Static electricity seemed to crackle between them and every time one of them brushed the other it was like an electric shock.

Ginny couldn’t help but wonder what this feeling was. Sure, she knew she’d had a crush on him for ages, since last year but this wasn’t a crush. Ginny had crushes on heaps of people- this wasn’t like that.

In her mind, the categories of romance when like this.

A Crush: this was when she thought someone was pretty good looking and wouldn’t mind a good old game of seven minutes in heaven.

In Like: This was what she was with Harry. She really, really liked them, sure even on the borderline of loved them, but she found many of their habits irritating, them often annoying and sometimes, when they were her best friend for many years and they’d hang out all the time and then she began to date them, she went out of her way to avoid them.

In Love: She knew what this was. She didn’t think she’d ever felt this for a guy not in her family, although some often tripped across it momentarily.

She was confused. Draco Malfoy slipped from category to category, and just as she thought he’d caught him permanently in one, he’d go and do something unexpected and brush out her grasp again. She contemplated for a moment creating a new category- ‘The Draco Malfoy Category’ before deciding that if ever Malfoy found out he’d be too smug.

Sighing and bringing her attention back to potions; Ginny listened to Professor Snape with increasing dread. He was describing, in great detail, the way that you would die if you dared sip of the Lockjaw Potion. Even Draco looked slightly repulsed by this and by the gleam in Snape’s eyes, Ginny had a feeling that he was deliberately pushing her to try and see how much she would take.

Finally finishing his lecture, he reeled off the ingredients and told them to go fetch them from the storage cabinet.

“Excuse me sir,” Ginny said, furrowing her brow. “But what page will I find the procedure on? I didn’t quite memorize all of those ingredients.”

Snape’s mouth twisted in a mean smile. “Ms Weasley, are you really so stupid as to think that we would leave the procedure for making such a deadly potion in a book? This particular brew was never written down; it is passed down from people speaking to others about it to avoid the recipe falling into the wrong hands. For this reason I will tell you the procedure and the ingredients twice and then expect you to know them.”

Ginny gaped at him.

“Are you hungry Ms Weasley?”

She shook her head, confused.

“Then I suggest you close your mouth and stop attempting to catch flies for dinner.”

Ginny glared at him, and Snape once more smiled. He rattled off the ingredients again and between Draco and herself, they managed to remember them all. There were only four, but they had a habit of slipping out of your mind, probably to keep Death Eaters from remembering them, Ginny realized.

Professor Snape told them the procedure twice and again it was a short one, though complicated and like the ingredients, hard to remember. Draco and Ginny struggled to remember them and Snape had to (with much lecturing) repeat the second and third step again.

Eventually the potion was finished. It was a deep black, with blue steam rising gently from the surface. Its smell was enticing, and Draco felt drawn to pour himself a glass and sup of it. He reached with a thin ladle and was about to when Ginny grabbed his arm, staring at him in fear.

“Draco,” she murmured, scared. “What are you doing?”

He ran his hand through his hair, puzzled. What had he been doing? Lifting the ladle out, he placed it gently on the table. A drop (the last remaining drop on the ladle) slid gently off it and landed on the table. There was a hiss, and a in a matter of seconds the drop had evaporated, and there was a small, blackened hole that went right through the table. Snape saw it.

“You see the effects that just one drop can do. Imagine the effects on a human, with a glass full. Be careful with this potion.”

Snape pulled out two tiny crystal vials and filled each with the potion. The crystal, much to Ginny’s surprise did not melt or dissolve but instead held it. Snape, seeing Ginny’s curiosity for once complied with her wishes.

“The crystal is reinforced with many powerful spells, some placed by Albus Dumbledore himself. You can be sure that these will not break nor be worn away.” He tapped them, and a small silver chain looped through each one’s cork (which was also pure silver). He tapped the cauldron holding the rest of the potion and muttered “Evanesco.” It disappeared.

“Well, now that you have your draughts, we can proceed. But before, a word of caution. Those bottles are deadly poison. Whilst encased in crystal, you are protected from their acid and their enticing song-” his eyes fixed on Draco. “But never attempt to open the cork, for it will not open unless you need it.” A sneer fixed on his lips. “Another of the headmasters brilliant ideas,” he remarked, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

“You are also here to learn the art of Occlumency.” Snape’s voice resonated throughout the dungeon. “This is an extremely difficult art, and I do not expect either of you to be naturals at it, especially Ms Weasley…” He sneered as she bristled with anger.

“I am going to try and invade your minds, and you must become completely emotionless. Think of no memories, try and keep all your thoughts blocked from me. If you must think something to keep yourself from going mad, think of inconsequential things, like what you had for breakfast, what your favourite color is, etcetera. Mr Malfoy, you will be first.”

“Legilimens!” Snape hissed, and Ginny watched as that complete composure that she knew so well crossed Draco’s face. She watched as for almost ten seconds he appeared completely calm, then a strange emotion passed over his face; anger, and fear.

As though he didn’t know what he was doing, he grabbed a bottle of ink and threw it at Snape. “Get out,” he bellowed.

Snape withdrew just as the bottle crashed several centimeters in front of his foot. Draco was breathing heavily, only slowly once more gaining control of his emotions.

“Reparo,” murmured Snape, fixing the bottle. “Well done Mr Malfoy that was very well performed. Did you by chance watch his face, Ms Weasley? Completely still, until I got to him. After a few months practice you should be very good with Occlumency. I think you have a natural gift after all.”

“Now, Ms Weasley,” he smirked at her and Ginny felt dread cross her. What memories would she be forced to relive? What thoughts of hers would he see? She braced herself, trying to rid herself of all emotion and completely failing. Thoughts- ones that she did not wish to share- kept popping into her head. She took a deep breath, steadying herself.

“Legilimens,” Snape spat, and Ginny unconsciously drew herself to her full height. She prepared for the invasion and was surprised… she didn’t feel any different. Snape too looked puzzled.

“Legilimens,” he shouted again, and again Ginny felt nothing.

Snape looked at her, astounded. “I don’t understand,” he muttered. “You are not using Occlumency to keep me out… What are you doing Ms Weasley?”

“Er, nothing that I’m aware of sir,” she replied.

Snape thought for a moment then suddenly understanding crossed his face, followed quickly by anger and annoyance. “Ms Weasley, you have a natural shield,” he said carefully, picking his words. She looked at him blankly. “It means that your mind is one of the few that has automatically created a guard against your emotions and thoughts… Can you think of any event in your life that may have caused this?”

Ginny felt her mouth go dry. She knew exactly what would have caused ‘this’… but she didn’t feel quite comfortable admitting it in front of Snape, though it was probable that he already knew.

“No sir,” she said quietly.

His eyes stared into hers and she shifted uncomfortably, feeling naked under his gaze. She had a terrible feeling that Snape could sense thoughts… and she didn’t like it.

“Very well then,” he said coldly. “I don’t want to push you too far in the first lesson. You are both dismissed.”

Ginny and Draco quietly packed their things and left. Severus Snape’s eyes watched the doorway as they left, mind pulling ideas to explain Ginny Weasley’s strange reluctance to reveal what he knew that she knew was the cause of the shield. A sneer suddenly curved around his lips. Of course.

***

As usual the pair proceeded to the astronomy tower and sat in silence for a moment.

Do you know what might have caused the mind shield?” Draco asked abruptly.

“Yes, of course,” Ginny said softly. “My mind must have hated being invaded by Tom Riddle… I guess the moment it was free from his possession it made a shield against him… and others unknowingly.”

Draco nodded, a look of understanding coming over him. “So why didn’t you tell Snape?”

Ginny stared at him. “Are you mad? As if I’m going to tell him about that.”

“He probably already knows.”

“Not from my mouth he hasn’t. Of course I guess that Dumbledore must have told him but there’s no way in hell I’m going to go up to him and say ‘Hey, Snapey, old boy, old buddy, didja know that I opened the chamber of secrets? Yeah, that dude Tom Riddle possessed me, wicked hey? So that’s probably where I got my mind shield, eh?’ ”

Draco couldn’t help but laugh and Ginny grinned smugly at him, glad that she had finally broken through his shield, until she felt a sudden urge come over her. Draco was leaning on the wall, and impulsively, Ginny stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his neck.

Draco stared down at her bewildered for a moment. Then his arms went around her waist and he pulled her close to him. They stood like that for a few moments with Ginny’s head resting on his chest and his arms holding her tight. Finally Ginny raised her head, tears trickling down her face.

“Draco,” she whispered. “I’m dating H-”

“Shh,” he murmured. “I know. Just this is enough.”

But she knew it wasn’t. In his eyes she saw the hunger and knew that it was mirrored in her own. She so desperately wanted to kiss him, to pull him close to her, to never let him go. Yet Ginevra Weasley had always been fair, and her heart almost broke at the idea of deceiving Harry.

“Draco, I need to talk to Harry. I need to… make things right with him.”

Draco stiffened. “We would never have worked anyway, Weasley,” he said coldly, completely misunderstanding her as he pulled away from her. “Better that we never tried.”

Before she could reply he had suddenly reverted back to his cold demeanor. “Go away Weasley. I see too much of you already. Just… go.” Her tears fell fast and heavy; she tried to say his name but her throat would not allow her to.

She left the astronomy tower and set off towards the Gryffindor common room. Entering, she saw the very last person she wanted to see….

Harry Potter.


Chapter 6: In the Dark of Night
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary: Sadness and heartbreak lead to so many things... Darkness, and despair....

And love.


Ginny felt a dark cloud of foreboding descend upon her as her boyfriend stood and crossed the room to her. He smiled and pulled her up into his arms, attempting to kiss her on the lips.

Ginny pulled away.

He stared at her; was she still mad at him? “Gin-” he began.

“Harry,” she interrupted. “I…I think…” he smiled warmly at her. “I think we should break up,” she blurted out.

He froze. His smile became cold and forced. “Is this a joke?”

“No,” she murmured, tears springing to her eyes.

“But- but it was all working out so well,” he stammered.

“No Harry. It wasn’t you- you want to think it is, so we can keep on living this dream. And it is a dream, isn’t it? Harry Potter, the boy who lived dating-”

“The most beautiful girl at Hogwarts,” he finished hollowly. “I still don’t see anything wrong with the dream, Gin.”

“Let me talk. We… we fight too much, Harry, you know we do. And you’re so protective of me, until I want some protection and then you’re off saving the world or in the usual case, getting bored with me and hanging with Ron and Hermione. You’re either with me twenty four seven, stifling me, or not there at all! Harry, I know it’s partly my fault but as much as I hate to say this, I don’t like the person you are when you’re dating me.”

Harry shook his head. “It’s not just that, Ginny. You loved me these holidays, didn’t you? You couldn’t have after all… love doesn’t change her mind.”

“I did… I do,” she whispered miserably. “Just not in that way anymore.”

“Well I’ll- I’ll make you!” He grabbed her by the arms and pulled her up to him. He forced his lips against hers, pushing his tongue against her mouth, demanding access. Ginny felt a cry rise within her and she pushed him away.

He had tears in his eyes, and she realised that for all Draco’s words, Harry Potter did love her, or at least thought he did. He crumpled to the ground. “I’m sorry Gin, I’m so sorry,” he whispered again and again.

She began to cry too. “Oh Harry, I love you so much, but you’re just a brother to me. I… I thought I loved you in the way you love me, but I was just touched and honored that you… felt this way for me. I felt that… that I had to, seeing as this was all I craved for over my first years here.”

Harry smiled weakly, blinking back the tears and stood up. Ginny wrapped her arms around him, in the hug that she would have given to Ron or Bill, and Harry hugged her back trembling.

“So that’s it then,” he whispered.

“Yes Harry. That’s it.”

He smiled again, and began to go up the stairs, and Ginny sat down wearily in a chair and waited. After two minutes had passed, she began to count softly under her breath. “Five… four… three…. two….one….”

“GINNY!” came the enraged voice of Ronald Weasley who was leaping down the stairs two at a time.

“Hello Ron,” she said quietly.

“YOU BROKE UP WITH HARRY? WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING, YOU FOOL? HE’S EVERYTHING YOU’VE EVER DREAMED OF AND YOU’RE BREAKING UP WITH HIM?”

“Ron, please don’t talk to me like that,” Ginny began softly.

“WHAT POSESSED YOU, WOMAN? YOU’VE HAD A CRUSH ON HIM FOR YEARS AND WHEN YOU’RE ACTUALLY GOING OUT WITH HIM YOU FEEL THE NEED TO BREAK UP? WAS HE GETTING TOO BORING FOR YOU OR SOMETHING?”

“No, of course not I just-”

“I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU ‘JUST’ DID OR THOUGHT OR FELT. GO UP THERE AND APOLOGISE TO HIM NOW, MAKE HIM TAKE YOU BACK.”

“No Ron. I made the right decision. I have to stick by it now.”

“SO IT’S YOUR PRIDE THEN? YOUR PRIDE WHICH MAKES YOU REFUSE TO MAKE IT RIGHT WITH HIM?”

“No Ron, it’s more than that-”

“SO THERE IS THAT THEN. YOU ADMIT IT, YOU BLOODY WHOR-”

“I will not have you speak to me like that Ronald!” Ginny shrieked, losing her temper. “It’s my decision, I made it for all the right reasons and I’m sticking with it!”

“WHAT ARE THE RIGHT REASONS?” Ron bellowed back.

“I- I don’t love him, I’m in love with- with somebody else.”

Ron turned red, then purple. “What?” he said incredulously.

“Don’t worry about it,” Ginny muttered. “I’m going to bed. Thanks for making my evening such a pleasant one.”

“Wait Gin, I didn’t mean to yell, I’m just confused. Did you say you’re in love with someone else?”

“Yes.”

“And are you?”

Ginny sighed. “No of course not, I just said it to make you stop yelling,” the lie tripped smoothly off her tongue. “I broke up with Harry for different reasons- ones I’m not telling you. It’s between me and Harry.”

“Oh, right. Okay then. Hey, where were you this evening?”

“Lessons with Snape. Dumbledore’s making me take extra ones. Goodnight, Ron.”

“EXTRA LESSONS WITH SNAPE? WHAT THE HELL IS THAT FOR YOU-”

But Ginny had already left.

***

She did not stay in the Girls Dorm. She grabbed her broom from there, an old comet two sixty and flew out of the window, ignoring the annoyed mutters of some of the girls when cold air rushed into the dormitory. Her eyes glistened with tears, and her heart pounded hard against her chest. She flew directly to the astronomy tower, where she could just make out silver hair glistening in the moonlight. Swooping around in a circle, she flew through the window narrowly missing Draco Malfoy.

“I thought I told you to go,” he said sharply.

“You did. I didn’t listen,” she smiled sweetly at him and he snorted contemptuously. “Now, now Malfoy, if the wind changes and you’re still making that face it will be stuck forever!”

He sneered at her. “God you’re naïve,” he spat.

“No, Draco,” she said gently. “I just see the glass as halfway, instead of your bullshit about it being half empty.”

“So you’re one of those ridiculous optimists then.”

“No.” She sighed. “I’m one of those ridiculous people who don’t give a crap whether the glass is half full or half empty, because it’s still water.”

He didn’t reply. His gaze was fixed on a star outside; he was staring at it as if his life depended upon it.

“Draco.”

“Mmmn?”

She had a feeling he wasn’t listening. “I’m growing a beard out of green spinach.” No reaction. “I accidentally put my heart on the stove and now it’s melting.” Nothing. “I broke up with Harry.”

He spun around as well as one could do on a windowsill, albeit a wide one. “What?”

“Got your attention now, have I? Listen to me, you fool of a boy. We need to get along for this whole defeating evil thing to work. You don’t like me, I don’t like you-” Liar, liar, pants on fire. “But can we please just try and be civil?”

“Did you say that you broke up with Potter?” he asked impatiently.

“Why do you care, Malfoy?” she said carefully.

His eyes met hers, and held them. She saw strange emotions there, ones that she couldn’t quite define, but still feelings she had never thought she would see in Draco Malfoy’s eyes. She felt something surge in her heart, and her eyelashes fluttered with the sudden excitement that was consuming her.

He looked away. “I don’t.” Disappointment seemed to flood her body, and he saw her face was flushed and sad. He knew she had been waiting for something, some gesture from him… but he was a Slytherin, and she was a Gryffindor and a Weasley at that.

There was an awkward silence. Finally, he spoke. “Ginny, it’s late. We should be going back to the common rooms.”

Ginny shuddered. “I can’t.”

He was confused. “Why not?”

“I told you, I broke up with Harry. I can’t go back there; he’s their hero and all the girls will have found out by now. I really am not in the mood for being attacked.”

“Where will you go then?”

“I don’t know. Guess I’ll camp out here.”

“It’s winter. It’s freezing!”

“I don’t care.”

Draco surveyed her thoughtfully. “You could try the room of requirement.”

“What d’you mean?”

“If you wanted a place to stay overnight, I’m sure it would provide it for you.”

“Hey, that’s not a bad idea. Thanks Malfoy,” she grinned, eyes alight with the idea of sleeping somewhere knew. “What time is it?”

As if in answer to her question, the castle clock boomed half past two. Ginny groaned. “I’m going to be a wreck for class tomorrow,” she muttered.

“Why not wag?” Draco said suddenly.

“How can we? We’re at a boarding school, remember?”

“Yeah, but just send an owl to Potter and the Weasel- I refuse to call him anything else, Ginny- saying you don’t feel well.”

“What about the Hospital Wing? I could go there and get fixed up in a second.”

“Say that you can’t be bothered dragging yourself to get fixed up and that you’re loathe to miss a chance for a day off school.”

Ginny nodded thoughtfully. “I’ll probably be bored, but.”

“I’ll wag too, and come and hang out with you.”

Ginny giggled. “I never thought I’d see the day where I’d be ‘hanging out’ with Draco Malfoy.”

His cheeks tinged with pink. “Well, we could just practice spells and such, that’s what I meant.”

She smiled. “That’d be cool. What time should I expect you?”

Draco smirked. “Well it is a day off, so I on my part shan’t be getting up until eleven.”

“Hear, hear,” Ginny laughed. “So I’ll see you around quarter to twelve then?”

“That would be fine. Goodnight Ginny.”

“Night Draco.”

She left the astronomy tower and made her way to the room of requirement, sudden tiredness overwhelming her. Reaching the corridor she walked up and down it three times with only one thought in her head: A place for tonight and tomorrow, whatever they may bring. On her third walk back, the door appeared and gratefully she opened it and stepped inside.

It was a warm, cozy room with the same windowsill and drapes and a large bed with a thick quilt, soft pillows and soft mattress. Folded neatly on one of the pillows was a pair of pajamas: a cotton red tank-top with black pants were simple, yet warm despite her bare arms and Ginny, not bothering to notice the rest of the room, climbed into bed, pulled the covers over her head and fell straight asleep.

***

A bell clanged loudly waking her, and looking at a clock on the wall (that hadn’t seemed to be there last night) Ginny realised it was eleven o’ clock. Clambering out of bed and shivering as a cold wind hit her shoulders, she noticed another door. Opening it and peering curiously inside, she saw that it was a bathroom, with a shower and sink. Ginny smiled groggily and pulling her clothes off she stumbled into the hot shower. Smiling in delight as the hot water ran over her skin, she leisurely washed her hair and soaped herself down. She stayed in the shower for some twenty minutes, for if a teenager cannot have their long shower then what is the point of living? Finally stepping out of the shower, Ginny grinned at her reflection in the mirror and pulled a fluffy white towel around her.

The steam filling the bathroom heated the room quite nicely, so Ginny brushed her teeth in there and attempted to run a hairbrush through her knots. Both toothbrush and hairbrush had been found lying convieniently in a cupboard.

Walking back into the main room, Ginny suddenly remembered that she didn’t have any fresh clothes. She groaned; she hated wearing the same clothes, but just as she was contemplating flooing to the girls’ dorm and risking being caught, she noticed that the bed was made, and folded neatly on the pillow was a pair of black jeans, a black t-shirt (with MY FACE IS UP HERE emblazoned across the chest in bold white letters), a black cloak, a brassier and underwear. Giggling in delight, she pulled them on and dumped the towel on the carpet. It vanished.

“A room that cleans up for me; this rocks!” She laughed aloud.

Her wand lay neatly on a dressing table; she picked it up and ran her fingers along its smooth, polished wood. When she turned around, she realised that the bed was gone, clearing up a lot of space.

“Weird,” she murmured.

“What’s weird?”

Ginny jumped and spun around, seeing an amused looking Draco watching her. “How long have you been there?” she gasped.

“A few minutes. Did you not hear me enter?”

“Did you see me…” she waved her hands up and down frantically. “Dressing?”

Draco smiled. “No, I’m afraid I missed out on that privilege.”

“Oh thank God,” she whispered.

He studied her, seeming to look for something about her, some aspect that she could not tell. “Have I got dirt on my nose or something?” she said rudely.

“No.” he did not elaborate further.

“Well. What d’you want to do?”

He seemed to come out of a trance. “What say we begin practicing getting to our wands fast?”

“Huh?”

“Don’t say that, you sound like Goyle.”

Ginny shuddered. “Fine then, Mr I Was Reared A Malfoy And Have Manners, what do you mean?”

He smirked at her. “I mean we place our wands on that side of the room-” he pointed. “And start on the opposite side of the room and race to get there as fast as we can.”

Ginny frowned. “You sure we’ll need that in a fight?”

“Probably not, seeing as we’ll be taught to Apparate but it’s always good to know that you can get there fast.”

Ginny grinned. “Fine then. Let’s go.” They both put their wands down by the wall (which was completely bare, quite useful for their purpose) and started at the sprinting position at the opposite wall.

“One,” Draco murmured. “Two… three!” Both began to race across the floor, and they were about halfway across when there was a noise like a gun being fired. Both immediately and inexplicably tripped over, and the room was plunged into darkness.

Ginny shrieked, she couldn’t help it for the change was so sudden. She heard Draco’s voice come out of nowhere, swearing softly and she felt a soft trickle of fear creep over her. It was not, you must understand, the ordinary darkness where everything was a pale dark blue. Neither was it the shadowy darkness, where silhouettes and such are visible. It was pitch black, and Draco’s voice came to Ginny like a disembodied voice with no connection to a body.

“What- what’s happening?”

“I don’t know. Are you okay, Ginny? You didn’t hurt yourself when we fell?”

“No, I’m fine. What the hell is going on?”

“I’ve no idea. Hang on; I’ve got to go open the curtains.” Hands stretched in front of him, Draco stumbled across the room and feeling the heavy material under his hands, wrenched the curtains open.

Ginny blinked. “Have you opened them yet, Draco?”

“Yes,” his voice seemed almost fearful; yet Draco Malfoy did not get afraid, Ginny reminded herself. “It’s as dark outside as it is inside.”

“Maybe we should try and find the door.”

“Yeah.”

They crashed around for a while, but neither of them could find the door. Ginny sat down heavily on the carpeted floor; and sat on something sharp, and pointy.

“Draco, I’ve found my wand! Lumos!” Light flickered quickly and Ginny just caught sight of herself sitting in the middle of the room, with Draco on the far side and no sign of either door before the light went out.

“It won’t work,” she said somewhat tearfully. “Lumos, lumos, lumos!” This time, the wand didn’t even flicker. In her frustration, Ginny tossed her wand over her shoulder, not realizing yet what a stupid thing this was to do.

“Draco, where are you?”

“Judging by your voice, I’m several meters ahead of you.”

“I- I’m afraid.”

“Hey, it’s okay. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for this.”

“Like what?” she hissed between clenched teeth. “Don’t treat me like a child, Malfoy.”

“Okay. I have no idea what the hell is going on, and it’s probably not reasonable. But the facts remain- its pitch black, we can’t find the door and we don’t know what’s happening. So our only option at the moment is to stay here.”

“I don’t want to.”

“What we want doesn’t enter into the bargain, Ginny. We have no choice.”

There was silence, as Ginny sat with quiet tears flowing down her face.

“Ginny? Are you okay?”

“Why do you care? Why do you care about anything?”

“Where are you?” he evaded her questions, tripping and stumbling his way towards her voice, arms out in front of him. Suddenly, his hand hit against her warm chest, rising up and down with her harsh breathing.

“Ow!” she cried out.

“Sorry! But I found you. Here, I’m here.”

Ginny stretched her arms out and contacted with Draco Malfoy’s robes. “There you are,” she murmured. “I… I think I should hold onto you, just so we don’t get separated again, what d’you reckon?”

In the darkness, Draco’s mouth curved into a wicked grin. “I think that would be for the best, Ginny.”

Her arms went around his neck, and he held firmly onto his waist. “There, that’s better isn’t it,” she laughed. “But, I’m feeling a bit weak at the knees from the shock of this. D’you think I should rest my head here?” She lay her head down on his chest and his heart skipped a beat.

“I think that’s a very good idea,” he agreed.

Somehow, by unconscious mutual agreement, they both shifted to a sitting position, Ginny still holding onto Draco, and facing him, on her knees. “Draco?” she murmured quietly.

“Mmmn?”

“We’re not friends, are we?”

He knew exactly what she meant, and he closed his eyes for a moment, though it made no difference in the dark. Yet somehow the dark was not frightening or evil anymore; it was full of good, or so it felt to him.

“No Gin, we’re not.”

“But…” her voice came slowly, huskily and her touch seemed to set every part of him aflame. “Are we enemies?”

“I- I don’t think so.”

“Acquaintances?”

“No.”

“Work mates?”

“No.”

“Are we…” there was a long pause, full of unspoken thoughts and Ginny did not need to finish her sentence. His lips dropped to hers and she felt like she was awaking finally after so many years. It was not like it had been with Harry, never had she felt such a powerful emotion wakening within her. Draco’s lips seemed to be fused to hers, and Ginny wanted to never let go. Their kiss did not fumble around; his tongue darted straight into her mouth and she led a merry chase, exploring the darkness that was held within Draco’s lips. They eventually, reluctantly broke apart, needing air.

“Why… did… you… break… up… with Potter?” his words were punctured by swift, sharp kisses.

“Because,” she whispered, lips resting on his ear. “He wasn’t you.”

Draco smiled and kissed her softly, sensually and Ginny basked as she would have in the sun. They came up again panting. “Seems a bit unfair,” he said laughingly. “Not everyone can be the most wonderful, handsome, intellectual boy in the world.”

Ginny’s lips fluttered over Draco’s face; teasing him. “Draco Malfoy,” she muttered. “You’re so arrogant that if it wasn’t for those delightful things you’re doing to my nerves, I would slap you.”

“Well, can’t have that, can we?” he growled, pulling her tighter to him. Her hands reached and stumbled over the clasp of his cloak, eventually getting it off and throwing it aside, deeming it was getting in the way. He did the same with her cloak, but by an unspoken agreement neither took anymore clothing off, much as Ginny wanted to.

“I’m a whore,” she whispered fiercely.

“No! Never say that. Why did you say that?”

“I’ve only been single for ten hours, and look at me now.”

“I don’t think you had much choice,” he smiled in the darkness.

“Of course I did. What d’you mean?”

“The prophecy.”

“What about it?”

“But all Wizarding World should fall if it is not for two young adults, witch and wizard one with hair as red as flame, one with heart as cold as ice. Only once united will the Dark Lord be defeated…” he quoted.

“Yeah, I know all that. So?”

“So maybe… united means more than just friends.”

“Oh! I get it now… and the flame reference!”

“What?” now he was confused.

“Don’t you see? Hair red as flame, heart cold as ice! Flame is the only thing that melts ice! And you always were a bastard, and cold. And I have a bad temper- a fiery temper!”

“Are you just looking for an excuse?” he murmured, lips on her neck, setting fire to her body.

“Come here.” she pulled him close to her and kissed him hard on the mouth, one hand tossing his hair around. Suddenly she pulled away. Draco moaned.

“Ginny-”

“Draco, that hair gel is too much. My hand is stuck in your hair. I thought you’d given up using it.”

Laughing, he pulled her hand out of his hair, knowing very well that she had been exaggerating. “My father likes it.”

“Well I don’t. And who kisses you better- me, or your father?”

Draco shuddered. “Ginny, I’m going to get nightmares for weeks.”

“You won’t be dreaming about anyone,” she whispered huskily. “Except me.”

He shivered and she smiled through the darkness, delighted at the effect she had on him. A sudden wave of tiredness passed over her, her eyes fluttered, and a yawn crept over her body. “Sorry,” she said apologetically. “I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“Why not?”

She was drifting off to sleep, and only managed a few drowsy murmurs before her tiredness overtook her. “Too busy… dreaming… of you.”

A/N Well, what do you think? Am I taking this too fast? I am the most nervous I've ever been adding this chapter, and would greatly appreciate any reviews telling me how this is going.

Chapter 7: Revelations
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Summary: Revelations for Ginevra... and the bitter sweet joy that comes in knowing you have done something right- and broken your heart because of it.

She was held in a warm circlet of arms, though whom they belonged to she couldn’t remember. She was lying on her side, snuggled into the side of someone and they were holding onto her for dear life. She didn’t know who this person was, but she knew that she never wanted to let go of them.

Groaning, she opened her eyes and immediately closed them again, as a stream of bright light flooded her eyes. “Urgh,” she muttered, and the person beside her shifted. Whoever it was stood up, and Ginny immediately let out a cry of protest, and eyes still tightly shut to protect her from the bright light, reached out and grabbed their leg.

The person tripped, laughing and Ginny searched for a memory of that laughter. She had heard it once before, but where?

“Let go Ginny,” the amused voice came. “I have to close the curtains.”

She suddenly recognized the voice. Draco! Her mind shrieked. Draco Malfoy? Her eyes flew open to be greeted with the semi-darkness of a room with curtains closed. Draco Malfoy stood at the door.

She realized she was lying on a bed. “Draco?” she squeaked, mind still catching up. “What- what-” with a sudden stream of memory, the events of late flew back into her head. He sat in the lotus position, watching her with an amused smile.

“Oh. Hello,” she said somewhat awkwardly.

“Hello.”

“Er, how are you this morning?” In reply, Draco stood, pulled her up and kissed her hard on the lips. It only took a split-second for her to react, arms sliding around his neck as he supported her gently at the waist. She smiled dreamily through the kiss, for it seemed so familiar and so right that when they came up panting for air, she almost growled in frustration before going back for another.

Half an hour later, Draco pushed Ginny away, smirking.

She looked at him, disappointed. “Why’d you do that?”

“The light has returned in case you haven’t noticed. We have to go and find out what that whole thing was about.”

“Why?” She tried to pull his head down to her level, desperately wanting to caress his lips again.

He pulled up reluctantly. “Because there may have been something dangerous that caused it.”

“Do you care?” she growled, reaching up on her tip-toes.

“Ginny, we have to go.”

“Fine then.” She ran a hand through her hair and buttoned up her top which had somehow ‘fallen’ open. She pulled on her cloak and watched as Draco went through the same procedures. “Draco?”

“Mmmn?”

“Are we going to tell the others about this?”

His expression became serious. “I don’t mind Ginny. People in Slytherin will react, but I’m not really good friends with anyone, except maybe Parkinson.” A frown passed over Ginny’s face; he almost laughed. “But I know that you Gryffindor’s are a lot closer, so if you think this will ruin friendships we’ll keep it secret.”

“I- I think I’d rather just keep it between us for a while. Is that okay?”

“That’s fine.” He pulled her to him and kissed her warmly. “Let’s go.”

She slipped her hand in his almost automatically, but when he looked down sadly at her she realised what people would think if they saw them holding hands. She released it, and felt strangely empty with no part of her in contact with him.

***

“There you are,” a relieved Ron cried as the pair walked into the Great Hall. He grabbed Ginny in a bear hug, holding her close to him. Draco began to walk away to his own friends, knowing it would look strange if he hung around the Golden Trio, for he had a feeling that people only saw the trio, and not Ginny who hung so uncertainly on the outskirts. His heart ached as her eyes met his over her brothers shoulder, who was still hugging her. She managed to smile faintly at him- they had only been apart two minutes and yet already she was hungering for him.

“Gerroff Ron,” Ginny laughed. “I’m fine.”

Harry stood looking awkward around her, and Ginny smiled warmly at him, a smile that he hesitantly returned. “Where have you been?” he asked.

“Dr- Malfoy and I were practicing spells in the Room of Requirement,” she began. “Getting to our wands quickly and such.” A sudden wave of fear came over her- she had left her wand in the Room of Requirement! Her eyes met Draco’s again, and he gently raised a hand to his chest, over his heart. She stared uncomprehendingly at him for a moment- was he indicating his heart? Suddenly, she realised what he meant and grinning, she reached into the inside coat pocket of her coat and felt the hardness of her wand.

“What happened?” she asked.

Ron shook his head and Harry bit his lip. In the end it was Hermione who answered. “It was the Death Eaters. They cast a spell over the castle… Dumbledore said it was a warning, and that we shouldn’t be afraid. The common room was a mess. We had all gone up there during break after lunch, and when the light disappeared it was chaos. People were screaming, our wands weren’t working, and the paintings kept coming up with these wild theories. One who had been in the Ravenclaw Common Room said that an army of Nerfles had taken over.” She exchanged a wry glance with Ginny. “Everyone was so worried about you- we thought you’d been kidnapped. Except Dumbledore, he kept saying over and over again that you were fine.”

A thought suddenly occurred to Ginny. “What about Malfoy?”

Hermione was puzzled. “What about him?”

“Well, he was missing too. Didn’t anyone care?”

“Oh, Pansy Parkinson was shrieking her head off as usual,” Harry snorted contemptuously. “But the other Slytherin’s looked like they were celebrating. They all love a change of power I guess… That boy, Blaise Zabini was strutting around, taking charge. I think he’d set himself out to be the next Prince of Slytherin. I think they were all hoping he’d been killed or kidnapped. Wish he had been actually, myself.”

Ginny felt a wave of sadness descend upon her. So no one cared about Draco, save her and Parkinson. Was he that mean? She glanced over at him; he was surrounded by a group of eager looking Slytherin’s, probably relating the whole story to him. She noticed that Zabini was practically groveling at his feet.

Ron, Harry and Hermione were still talking excitedly to each other and did not notice her catch Draco’s eye.

Miss you, she mouthed. His message back was easily deductible.

Want you. Meet me in the Room of Requirement tonight at seven.

She nodded, happiness engulfing her body. I can see him tonight, I can see him tonight! Her heart sang.

“I said, were you scared?” Ron repeated looking impatient.

“Oh. No not really,” she said, still returning to the present. “I mean yes, but I slept for a while and that stopped some of the fear, when you’re asleep I mean you don’t think much of darkness….” she trailed off, aware that she was still babbling.

She noticed Dumbledore, who was watching her with an amused glint in his eyes. She suddenly felt a tickling sensation in her mind. And there was suddenly a thought in her mind that was not hers.

I understand that you and Mr Malfoy have taken “united” to a new level.

Professor? Her thought was incredulous. But Snape-

Professor Snape.

Yes, him, he said that I had a natural shield!

Yes my dear, but you see I am rather more an accomplished Legilimens than Severus and Lord Voldermort.

So you can read my thoughts?

No, your shield is too strong for that. But I can converse with you in your mind. Ms Weasley, I advise you to be careful around Mr Malfoy. Are you sure about him?

I can’t believe I’m getting girl talk from the headmaster.
The thought popped unwanted into her mind and she watched as Dumbledore laughed softly.

Yes sir. I am.

Well I’m glad. But I warn you to be careful for this reason- he too is a Legilimens.

You’re kidding!

I assure you that I am deadly serious. He has not attempted to read your mind yet, for I can sense all who can but I must tell you this- he is stronger than me. Stronger than Severus, stronger than Tom, stronger than anyone I have ever met. That boy is destined for great- and terrible- things.

Why hasn’t he told me?

It is possible that he does not wish to alarm you.

Oh. Professor, if you cannot read my thoughts how do you know that Draco and I…?

The moment light returned to the castle I went and checked all the rooms for the safety of my students, including the Room of Requirement where I found you asleep in his arms. I gather that this would not have happened if you were ‘just friends’.


With this thought came a swift mental image of Ginny lying asleep in Draco’s arms, his lips resting on her cheek, her head resting on his chest.

Oh.

I shall leave your mind now Ms Weasley. But I also must inform you that you too have a sufficient Legilimens ability. Try and converse with Mr Malfoy like we are- I think that you are strong enough to get into his yet untrained mind. Do not attempt to read his thoughts as he might accidentally hurt you. Just speak with him.

Me too? Are you sure?

Positive. Oh, one last word Ms Weasley- if you wish this relationship to remain secret, I would advise that you don’t mouth words of…


He paused and Ginny thought she detected a mental chuckle.

I think you know what I mean… Across the Great Hall.

And he was gone. Ginny blinked, trying to take in all the information that the headmaster had given her. The trio had moved away were now having an earnest discussion with Ernie and Justin from Hufflepuff.

Closing her eyes, she imagined her mind as a silver rope, and cast it across to Draco Malfoy. To her surprise, it worked instantly and she seemed to flow into his mind easily. Suddenly, she was overwhelmed by his thoughts- thoughts mostly about her, images of her. She saw so many mental pictures…. Her standing on the cliff above the lake, hair fanning out in all directions, lips curved in a slight smile. Her kissing Harry on the stairs the other day, and she got a painful sense of hurt that came with the memory. There was an image of her lying asleep in his arms and one of…

Who are you?

The thought came so harshly and so painfully that Ginny winced, for this was the evil Draco Malfoy, the boy she had hated.

It’s Ginny.

Gin? What the hell are you doing in my… my head?

You didn’t tell me you were a Legilimens.

How did you know?

Dumbledore told me.

But you haven’t spoken to him.

I was talking to him like this. I don’t mind Draco, I think it’s great. I’m a Legilimens too, but nowhere near as strong as you.


There was a mental shrug.

So we can talk like this then?

Yes.

That’s great! Can we talk wherever we are?

I imagine so.

Did you get my message?

Yes. I can’t wait to see you.

We’ve only been separated for twenty minutes!

I miss you, still.


A smirk lifted his mouth and he nodded carelessly to something Pansy had said. Ginny felt an impulse to kiss the smirk.

What do you want to do with me?

You are too smug already without me answering that. What time is it?

Five in the afternoon.

Two hours till I see you.

Indeed. Don’t be late.

I won’t. Goodbye.

Goodbye.


She turned and began to make her way out of the Great Hall, when Harry spotted her.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m tired. I’m going to the common room.”

“Okay.”

Ginny left and quickly hurried up the stairs to the common room, sneaking into the girls dormitory. She rummaged through her trunk, despairing. “Do I have nothing nice to wear?” she said aloud despairingly. Then at the bottom of the trunk, she found a package wrapped in brown paper. Pulling it out, she found that a small note was attached.

To my dear Ginevra,

I enclose something that I hope you will find useful. You know of course that I got that raise at the ministry, and bought everyone a present, save you. You may have wondered why this was- it is because I doubt that your mother would be happy with the
(there was at this stage an ink blot as if the author had been wondering how to put the phrase) shape of this dress! Enjoy, my dear,

Your loving father.


Ginny unwrapped the package and pulled out a shimmering red gown, which flickered and changed from shade to shade in the light. Hastily stepping into it, she found that it was a perfect fit. She saw that indeed her mother would not have approved of the garment, for it was quite a low cut and clung to her curves beautifully.

She spent an hour and a half playing with her hair and face, deciding upon no cosmetics, but pulling her hair up into a bun with two red tendrils escaping to frame her face. She pulled a black coat over her outfit, and quickly made her way downstairs, hoping to go unnoticed.

Harry was unfortunately in the common room. “Ginny.” he swallowed. “You look… beautiful. Where are you going with your hair like that?”

“Er, a party, with Tara and the other sixth year girls,” she stammered. “You wouldn’t like it.” She left with Harry staring wistfully after her.

At a fast run (which was easily achievable as Ginevra Weasley refused to wear heels, instead settling on a pair of silk red flat slippers- obviously not the kind one would wear in winter) Ginny made her way to the Room of Requirement. Opening the door and realizing that she was fifteen minutes early, she was slightly surprised to see Draco already there. He was wearing a pair of black jeans and a white shirt, and Ginny suddenly felt a little silly- like she was overdressed.

“You’re early,” he said matter-of-factly as Ginny stood uncomfortably by the door.

“I- I didn’t want to be late.”

“Neither did I. Why are you wearing that coat? It’s not that cold.”

“Erm… Ron might have seen my dress.”

“How do you look?” Curiosity mingled in Draco’s usually indifferent tone.

“Like my mother hasn’t seen my outfit.”

He indulged in a soft chuckle, a rarity for a Malfoy. The fire cracked loudly and Ginny shyly shrugged off her coat, turning to hang it up on a useful rack that she had only just noticed. As she turned around, Draco’s hiss as he made a sharp intake of air made the risk of being caught by Ron worthwhile.

“Is there something wrong with my outfit?” she asked coyly, shyness slipping away.

“No.” He became very interested in a piece of slightly darker wallpaper.

“My face?” she whispered, slowly walking towards him. He shook his head emphatically. “Am I wearing too much make-up?” Her lips brushed against his ear and reluctantly he turned his head to meet her eyes.

“You’re not wearing make up.”

“I’m not the kind who does. Besides, I wouldn’t want your pretty lips to get smeared with cherry flavor.” Her eyes held his, daring him to never look away, to stand there just watching her for ever and ever. She had never realised Draco Malfoy would be so hesitant to kiss her.

Sadly, she broke his gaze, and crossed the room to sit on a couch. “I don’t understand you,” she said quietly.

“People rarely do.”

She continued as if she hadn’t heard his comment. “You spend half the time mouthing erotic messages across the room to me, and then when we’re actually finally alone, you ignore me.”

“I wouldn’t say I was ignoring you.” She was silent, ignoring the inconsequent remark. He sighed. “There are complications, Ginny.”

What? What can be complicated about this for you? Your father, yes, but is he in your pocket? Does he see everything you do? I’m willing to hide this from my best friends, from my family who I love with all my heart and you won’t even speak to me because of some guy that it doesn’t seem like you’re that fond of!”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Why don’t you try me? You know, maybe I was wrong about you. I thought we were friends Draco. Friends trust each other.”

“Well friends don’t exactly ‘mouth erotic messages’ either, Ginny!” he snapped.

“So we’re more than friends then! And you won’t even… even look at me. Do you like me, Draco?”

His mouth became suddenly dry. “God yes, Ginny.”

“So please… tell me why it’s complicated.”

“You won’t like it.”

“But it’s a two-way thing, Draco. You know, I know, okay?”

“Fine!” He exploded. She sat quietly and waited. “Can- can I sit with you?”

Ginny stared at him, once again yelling at him in her mind. He was annoying, this Draco Malfoy. Just as she’d placed him in a neat little box, he did something completely unexpected again. Now he looked like a small child, afraid of the dark. She nodded, and he went and pulled her close to him. She fitted neatly under his chin- he liked that.

“You have to understand that this might be a load of bollocks. I didn’t believe in it for ages- at least I said I didn’t believe in it, but I think it might be true. Might. I- I want to command my own fate, Ginny, but this doesn’t leave me much choice. Anyway, I’m confusing you.

“It’s a Malfoy tradition to have a Seer attend a new Malfoy’s birth. The woman who attended mine was one of the few left in the world who can willingly seek for a vision about someone whenever they want, without having to wait for the prediction to come upon them. Mine was an old Gypsy woman, she died when I was perhaps two.

“My father has drummed the prophecy into me for so many years… I know it inside out. It was… It was that,” he paused and considered before reciting the prophecy in a low voice, as fear crept over Ginny.

He will be the Achilles. He will die young and be forgotten by all but one. None shall mourn but one. He will do great things and die for the one he loves. To die he must first love… never let him love.

He waited, staring at her and then he saw the reaction that he wished would never come. Tears began to run down Ginny’s face, as the horror of the prophecy grew on her. Suddenly, she reached up and pulled his mouth down to hers, pushing herself against him as much as she could, wanting to blend into his smell and his taste and his mind forever. He took a moment but then returned the kiss tasting her salty tears as she wept and kissed him, in a never ceasing circle. They did not break away; instead breathing as well as they could through their noses. Somehow, she found herself lying on top of him with him holding her tight to him and their kiss never ending.

Finally he pulled his lips from hers; panting hard while she cried and he soothed her by simply looking into her eyes. She growled, sick of the awful weariness she saw in his eyes and again pressed her lips against his, pushing and blending and trying desperately to forget what he had told her.

“Ginny,” he murmured.

“I know.” she reluctantly sat up. “You’d better go.”

“What?” he was confused.

“We can’t do this Draco. Can’t… be together. Not with the prophecy.”

Draco drew in a deep, shuddering breath. “Damn it Ginny, I didn’t tell you so that we could break up! I told it because maybe… maybe it might be true and you deserved to know.”

“You think I could know the truth and still go out with you?” she cried. “I- what if we fell in love? And you died? I don’t want to be responsible for your death, Draco.”

“But what if it’s not true?”

“But we don’t know whether it’s true or not. We just… we can’t be, Draco.”

“I suppose you’ll go back to Potter now,” he snapped bitterly. She flinched.

“No. Never. I- I can’t explain it to you. Better that we just forget each other.”

“Fat chance with this other prophecy.”

“Yes, of course. Well, we have to fulfill that but… Gods Draco, I can’t think this through now. I’m staying here tonight.”

“I guess- I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” All the fight had left him; he was tired, dispirited and he felt a terrible urge to cry. But Malfoy’s did not cry, and he would not cry, he vowed.

“Tomorrow?”

“We have to do dueling practice with the Dream Team. Had you forgotten?”
“Yes, I- I suppose I did,” she didn’t know how she was having a normal conversation. Her mind, her brain, her body; they were all screaming for her too run to him and pretend it had been a joke. But her heart stopped her from it.

“Dumbledore arranged for us to meet here at seven o` clock. I’ll see you then.”

“Yes,” she managed faintly. He turned and began to walk away.

“Draco?” he stopped but did not turn around. Tears spilling down her cheeks, Ginny willed her voice to behave. “Do I- do I get a goodbye kiss?”

He turned and looked sadly at her, opening his arms. She dashed towards him, falling gratefully into his arms and crying and crying and crying. He kissed her gently and she could taste the sadness and the grief and the desperate longing. Then he let go of her, and left.

Ginny stood with tears falling watching the empty doorway. As she turned, some half hour later she saw a bed nestling gently in a corner. There was a pair of pajamas but Ginny didn’t bother with them. She closed the door, kicked off her shoes, slipped out of the beautiful gown and curled up under the quilt in her underwear. She fell asleep, the only thing caressing her cheeks being her own despairing tears.


Please nobody hurt me... *cowers* I know you probably all hate me, but she had to know, and Gin's not a bitch. And this is R-rated so it's your fault if you don't like me swearing!

Chapter 8: Living the Half Life
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Summary: Can making the wrong choice for the right reasons make it okay?

How Ginevra Weasley stumbled through the next day she would never know. Her eyes ached with the effort of holding back tears and when professors asked her questions she took several minutes to come back down to earth. Every time she saw a flash of green, whether someone walking past or in the library or during a lesson her eyes immediately targeted them… yet it was never him.

After lunch, when she did pass him in the corridor it was worse. She met his eye and he almost smiled, but then Blaise (who was next to him) spotted her and made some remark and he had to plaster a sneer that seemed so real onto his face. It was only his eyes that let her know he didn’t mean it, and she allowed herself to sink into his gaze, dwelling there for what seemed like hours but was only the few seconds it took to pass by him. Then as she left she felt as if her heart was being ripped from her body. It took all her will to stop herself from running into his arms, because she knew he would hold her there and it would all be alright again. But it would never be alright, she reminded herself. The prophecy stopped that.

At dinner, she forced her meal down her throat while nodding meaninglessly at whatever Tara said. Tara Elliot and Ginny had been best friends since fifth year, when Tara had moved here from Ireland. Ginny loved Tara, for she was like the sister that Ginny had never had, but she couldn’t tell even her about the pain she felt now- for Tara had hated the pale boy since she had came and he had teased her because of her affiliation with the Weasley girl.

“Ginny! Earth to Ginny!”

Ginny looked up, startled and tried to smile at Tara, failing miserably. “Sorry, what did you say?”

Tara laughed, and spoke in her soft, lilting accent. “I said, girlie, that you’ve been gloomy all day. What’s the matter with ye?”

“Nothing Tara,” she said quietly, the words sticking to her throat like glue. “I’m just having a bit of a bad day.”

“Aye, I bet it’s all that hangin’ out with Draco Malfoy you have to do.”

Usually, Ginny would have smiled at Tara trying to adopt the British slang terms- like ‘hanging out’- in her old world accent, but now the reference to Draco was too much.

“Maybe. I’m not hungry, Tara. I’m going to go practice for the dueling meeting I have to do later on.”

Tara nodded wisely. “Aye, go get some rest. Your eyes are jest about hangin’ out of your head.”

Ginny stood and left, knowing that Tara was right. She had slept little and fitfully last night, and when she did drop off she had terrible nightmares of her kissing Draco, and him falling dead.

She made her way to the Gryffindor Common Room, walking up to her dormitory. She kicked off her school shoes and pulled off her robes, revealing a pair of black jeans and a white shirt. She hadn’t made an effort to be clean this morning; her hair lay in knotty strands and looking into a mirror on the wall she saw that her cheeks still had tearstains from the night before. She pulled out a brush, and pulled it through her hair, determined that she would pull at least her outward appearance together tonight before dueling. Once deeming that her hair was brushed enough she pulled it up into a high ponytail, and splashed cold water across her face. Using a simple charm she got rid of the dark circles under her eyes- but although it took away all of her looks of tiredness she was still bone-achingly weary on the inside.

She laced up her sneakers then lay back on the bed; sure that Hermione would fetch her before dueling began. She was uneasy, for she knew that while Dumbledore would tutor them for an hour, they would also be expected to practice the new skills on their own for another hour. She had a feeling that Harry, Ron and Hermione, not to mention Draco, would take the idea of ‘practice duels’ to a new level. She knew that Draco still hated the ‘Dream Team’ and though she regretted that they weren’t friends she knew that it was a part of each of the people that would not change.

“Who knows,” she said bitterly aloud. “Hatred for a common enemy may bring them apart.”

“I hope not,” a dry voice said.

Ginny sat up, startled and saw Harry sitting on a bed across from her.

“How did you get up here?” she exclaimed.

“I flew.” he nodded towards the broomstick at his feet.

“But how’d you know which window?” she demanded, angry that her privacy had been intruded upon.

“The night we…” he paused, and looked down. “…Finished I needed to think. So I flew out of my window and went to walk on the grounds for a little. I saw you fly out and memorized the window, should I have to come here.”

“Well why are you here?”

“To take you to dueling,” he replied calmly.

“Why didn’t Hermione come?”

“She could have,” he responded seriously. “But I came because I wanted to talk to you.”

“Harry-” she began, sure she knew what was coming. Every time she broke up with a guy, a couple of days later they came to her and did the whole 'I’ve changed' talk. And every time it broke her heart more to say no.

“It’s not about me, about us,” he said quickly. “It’s about you.”

“What about me?” she said tiredly.

“You’ve been really down all day, Gin.”

“Just a bad day.”

He shook his head. “It’s more than that. What happened last night, Gin, that you went off glowing with excitement and emerged this morning after not coming back to the common room last night- for the second time this week- looking as if someone had died?”

“It was a bad party?” Ginny suggested timidly.

“You didn’t go to a party. Tara and the rest of the sixth year girls came back about an hour after you’d left. I asked about the party and they said that there hadn’t been one.”

“You dared to ask? You thought I lied to you?” she yelled.

“Calm down Ginny. I was surprised to see them back so early- last time you guys had a party you didn’t come back until half past two- rather drunk, despite alcohol being restricted here.”

She didn’t manage a smile.

“Where were you, Ginny?”

She looked into his eyes and had a terrible urge to pour everything out to him, but she knew he wouldn’t understand. Harry Potter wanted so much to help her, she knew, but if he found out about Draco- she shivered. He would tell Ron and they would escort her between classes. Draco would have the wrath of all Gryffindor males upon him, and even with Crabbe and Goyle she doubted he would be able to beat all the sixth and seventh year boys of Gryffindor in a fight. No, she couldn’t tell Harry- instead of helping her he would unknowingly make things worse. That was the trouble with boys, she mused. They thought that you seeing the guy that had made you feel so upset beaten up in a fight would make you feel better.

“Gin?”

She realised that she had been silent, and hesitantly she spoke. “I’m sorry Harry, but I can’t tell you. You would kill h- you wouldn’t understand.”

Harry had perceived that there was a boy involved, but he decided not to say anything more. “Poor Ginny. Okay, I understand. We should go to dueling now.”

She nodded, thankful towards him. Harry’s appearance had helped her think things out. She granted him a watery smile and began to walk down the stairs with him. Her eyes were dull now- she didn’t notice where she was going. She could think of nothing but him; his face flickered through her mind. His voice, saying all the beautiful things he had said was in her head, calling her name... calling her name… calling her name…

Ginny Weasley LISTEN to me!

She jumped as Harry pushed open the portrait, and gave her a quizzical glance, but said nothing. Nervously, she began to think.

Draco?

Finally! Why were you ignoring me?

I thought it was just me.

How could you sound like me?

I had been… thinking about you. Remembering our time together.

Oh.


There was a pause.

You’re late. Your brother and the mud- fine, Granger- are already here.

We’re coming.

We’re?

Harry came and fetched me.

What the hell did he do that for? Are you not capable of walking to the Room of Requirement by yourself?
The thought came harshly, with resentment and anger.

“Harry, I just forgot something. You go ahead, okay?”

“Okay,” he agreed reluctantly.

Well?

Ginny turned- she did not trust herself to be able to walk with him and not cry. Not really Draco, no.

Why not?
The anger disappeared, he was all concern.

Because I start crying if I think by myself too much.

Oh God, Ginny. Are you still walking with Potter?

No. I told him I forgot something… I’ve doubled back and I’m crouched behind a statue.

I’m coming to get you.

No. I’ll be along soon.

It was not a question, Ginny, it was a statement. Which statue?

Beatrice the Babbler.

Okay, wait there.


Ginny crouched and let the tears fall freely, only one thought in her mind: he’s coming to get me; he’s coming to get me. In less than five minutes, Draco was standing there, blond hair falling into his eyes and helping her up. She clung to him, crying into his shoulder, inhaling his intoxicating scent.

“Ginny,” he began, her tears making his robes damp. “Ginny, we have to go and join your friends. Dumbledore will be there in half an hour and we should be early. You have to let go of me.”

She shook her head, resolving to never let go.

“You have to let go,” he repeated. She did not move, just wept into his robes, arms hanging on around his neck. “Your brother is not going to like this,” he warned. She made no reply, and so Draco sighed and lifted her into his arms. Her arms still hung around his neck, with his arm holding her legs and also around the back of her neck, as one would cradle a baby. “Come on then,” he murmured, and effortlessly carrying her he made his way to the Room of Requirement.

Draco pushed open the door and stepped inside, where a few moments of flabbergasted silence greeted him. Then a red faced Ron began to yell. “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WITH MY SISTER MALFOY?”

“I found her crouched behind a statue, crying, Weasel King,” he said smoothly. “She couldn’t walk by herself. Seeing as you brave Gryffindor’s were not there to help her, I found that I had no other choice than to carry the Weaslette.”

Ginny had kept her face turned towards Draco during this, but now she moved and faced her enraged brother. “It’s true Ron,” she whispered. “He did.”

Harry looked at her bewildered. “You said you had forgotten something,” he said numbly.

“I- I had. My wand polish,” she lied on the spot. “But I got um, kind of upset on the way there again so I just stopped for a little rest to bring myself together and I- I couldn’t find the will to go back.”

Draco nodded. “I found her on my way to the bathroom.”

Ron looked hard at each of them, then nodded slowly. “Okay. But what has got you so upset Ginny?”

Harry opened his mouth but Draco interrupted him. “I really don’t think she needs to tell you that, Weasley.”

Harry stared bewildered at him. “You- you know why she’s upset?”

NO!!!! Ginny screamed in Draco’s mind. You don’t, you don’t, you don’t!!!!

“Yes, I do,” Draco replied.

“So.” Harry said coldly. “So. You would tell our worst enemy, Ginevra, and not me?”

You’re name is Ginevra? The thought wandered, amused, into her head.

“Our worst enemy is Voldemort,” she said quietly.

This is your fault! She yelled mentally.

I thought your name was Virginia.

What my name is is of no concern to you! Why the hell did you have to tell him you knew!

Oooh, did I mess up your relationship with dear Potty?

There is no relationship between him and me.


“He is the son of Voldemort’s right hand man!” Harry yelled. Unnoticed, Draco gently placed Ginny on a soft chair and let his right hand stray towards his wand. Harry continued yelling. “He’s probably a Death Eater already! HE’S A TRAITOR TO OUR KIND!”

“That’s enough, Potter,” a cool voice said and Harry found himself looking at the tip of a wand balanced at his neck. “I think you might need a little lesson after that outburst. Laedo V-

“Draco, please!” Ginny’s cry rang out, and Draco’s heart softened. He lowered his wand.

“Watch it, Potter,” he whispered malevolently. “Next time, Ginny Weasley will not be around to change my mind and then…” He smiled cruelly and twirled his wand round on his fingers.

Ron overheard. “Why you little-” he pulled out his wand and…

“Mr Weasley, I think it might be for the best if you put away that wand,” a kind voice remarked. Ron spun around and met the twinkling eyes of Albus Dumbledore.

“Yes sir,” he mumbled.

“I am a little saddened,” the headmaster continued. “I have only been in this room five minutes and already the animosity here is quite startling. I understand that you are not the best of friends but I find it disappointing that although Ginny Weasley could swallow her pride and get on with someone she didn’t necessarily want to, you Harry, who have faced many more awful situations- and you Mr Weasley, Ms Granger, who faced them with him- could not manage to get along for the sake of wizarding kind.”

Harry felt guilt sink deep into his bones. “When you put it that way sir…” he mumbled lamely.

“It does not seem so bad?” Dumbledore suggested quietly. Harry shook his head, and Hermione nodded emphatically. Ron made no gesture but he slipped his wand back into his pocket. “Now, I am aware that I should not be angry, as these are rather exceptional circumstances, but I must warn you against cursing each other. You are here to learn to work together. Mr Malfoy, I am not as disappointed with you.”

Harry and Ron gaped at each other and Draco smirked slightly.

“This is because I have been greatly impressed by the cool way you took this whole prophecy, and the way you have been working with Ms Weasley since then.” Unnoticeably, Draco turned very slightly and raised one eyebrow, exchanging a wry glance with Ginny, who almost (despite her black mood) giggled. Ron looked as if any moment he would commit murder.

“Mr Malfoy, Ms Weasley, I take it you have been practicing your dueling skills?” Dumbledore asked abruptly.

“Ah…” Ginny began. “Not exactly sir. You see, we’ve been too busy snogging in corners to get much work done.” A heavy cloud of sadness descended upon her. There would be no more snogging between her and Draco. Ever…

“Naturally,” Draco finished smoothly. Ginny immediately butted into his mind.

That’s a lie!

Oh, like you haven’t been telling any.

I haven’t! Well… not many anyway.

Yes, I’m sure. Picture of innocence aren’t you?


She haughtily ignored him, but she thought she detected a smirk playing in his mind. She- with a rather superior expression- turned her attention back to the headmaster.

“Well, if you would like to show us your attack and defense modes than. Please just use ‘Expelliarmus’. Mr Malfoy, you are the attacker and Ms Weasley you will be the defender. Dueling positions please!”

Draco and Ginny took the opposite ends at a dueling map that Ginny had only just noticed on the floor. Walking until they were only inches apart, they bowed (both trying to outdo the other in flamboyancy and unwittingly helping Harry catch on that they might be a little more than just civil enemies) and Ginny’s breath caught. The last time she had been this close to Draco he had kissed her. They turned and strode down the end of the mat.

“Wands at the ready.”

They pulled out their wands and held them aloft in the fighting stance.

“One… two…three!”

“Expelliarmus!” yelled Draco, with (thought Ginny) a hint of reluctance in his voice.

“Protego!” With a hissing noise, the red shield folded out of nowhere and stretched. The Expelliarmus spell bounced swiftly off it and Draco had to duck to avoid being hit. Ginny was about to let the spell fade when…

Ginny. Hold the spell for as long as you can. I’m going to throw more spells at you.

Ginny nodded, looking a little pale and Draco hurled another spell at her. Her shield shook a little but stayed in place.

“Look at that,” she heard Hermione exclaim. “She can hold it longer than the usual time. How did she do that?”

As Draco fired the spell at her another seven times, Ginny, exhausted finally let her shield down, at the same time telling Draco in his mind that she was putting it down. Draco had never waited to see the spell hit before casting the next one- and that was what made Harry curious.

“Wait a moment,” he said slowly. “How’d you know when to stop casting the spells? You never stopped before… and she never told you.”

“Yeah,” said Ron, catching on. “Squirm your way outta that one, Malfoy.”

Draco looked uncomfortable. “I’m not sure I’m willing to concede with your uncouth demand, Weasley. Your sister and I…”

“Oh for goodness sake Malfoy, it can hardly hurt telling them can it?” Ginny snapped suddenly. Draco looked at her sharply.

Yes it bloody well can, Ginny Weasley, and if you tell them I will personally wring that pretty little neck!

She continued as if she hadn’t heard his angry thought. “Did you see me raise my hand to my head?”

“Yeah,” said Harry. “I thought you were wiping away sweat.”

“Oh a little of that,” Ginny smiled. “But it is also our… our secret signal showing that I’ve had enough. It’s better than me calling out, because it gives him more time to stop hurling spells at me and it looks more effective… It’s as if we are reading each others thoughts or something.”

The trio did not notice her slight emphasis on her last sentence, but both Draco Malfoy and Albus Dumbledore did and both had trouble concealing a slight snigger.

“Well done. That was a very good performance, the both of you. Now, let’s work on group fighting and some dueling methods…” Dumbledore instructed the trio on how to conduct the Protego charm for much longer as Ginny and Draco had already done, giving the pair some time to work on their dodging skills. Harry’s shield spell kept slipping; mostly because he kept looking over and Ginny and Draco and noting enviously- and suspiciously- how much laughing they were doing, and how Ginny kept tripping over Draco and landing with her legs sprawled over him; and not seeming to care. She only blushed once, he noticed, and that was when they were on opposite sides of the room; but Draco was smirking as if he’d had some input into the blush.

Ginny did not notice Harry’s gaze, and Draco did not care. All of Ginny’s sadness had slipped away, and she had forgotten that after the session they would part again. As long as she was with him, that was all that mattered.

After half an hour of such mucking around, Dumbledore called them over to him, where Ron, Harry and Hermione were standing with rather smug expressions on their face.
“I am going to teach you the Patronus Charm. As Mr Potter, Ms Granger and Mr Weasley all know, the incantation is Expecto Patronum. Now, I am aware that you, Ms Weasley, were going to learn the spell but did not attend that particular DA meeting?” he smiled at her affirmative nod. “And Mr Malfoy you obviously will not have learnt it. Mr Potter can execute a faultless one, so if you would Harry?”

Harry nodded and, smirking at Malfoy, yelled “EXPECTO PATRONUM!!” The silver stag leapt out of the tip of his wand and galloped around the room before fading away. Ron looked smugger and even Hermione was having trouble concealing sniggers- all three were obviously delighted that Draco didn’t know how to do something.

“Now, Ms Granger and Mr Weasley, together if you please.”

“EXPECTO PATRONUM!” Ron and Hermione yelled in unison. Out of Hermione’s wand tripped a fat, furry otter and Ron managed to produce a swirl of silver mist that for a few seconds consolidated into an impressive stallion, which shook his head and cantered before fading back into mist again.

“Mr Malfoy, this is the method. You must think of the happiest-”

“If you don’t mind Professor,” interrupted Draco. “Expecto Patronum!” A silver mist poured out of his wand and in seconds had formed into a Thestral. Harry took a step back, as the horse-like beast turned its head towards him and looked straight at him with shining eyes. The creature shook its head slightly, then stepped lightly into the air and soared to the rooftops, where it disappeared out of sight.

Ginny and the trio had watched this in complete silence and amazement. Professor Dumbledore shook his head slightly, but when he spoke there was some quality that Ginny couldn’t name in his voice- whether it was weariness, or bitterness, or harshness, or coldness or anger. Perhaps it was an obscure mix of all of them. In any case, she didn’t like it.

“Mr Malfoy, who taught you the Patronus Charm?”

“My father sir. This summer.”

“I see. Well, that is a very good Patronus. Now let’s work on yours, Ms Weasley.”

He spent the rest of the lesson teaching Ginny hers, and by the end of the lesson, she was beaming as she had managed to produce a white wolf. When she first had managed to get the mist to form into a shape the wolf had looked straight at her and walked to her. She had put out a shaking hand and stroked it softly and she felt the hard fur under her hand. Harry let out a low whistle, and the wolf turned and snarled at him. It had taken three leaping bounds towards him and had been about to attack him when it had faded. Harry had looked quite taken aback, though Draco and Dumbledore had laughed. Ginny could not help the gleam of revenge in her eyes; Harry had been annoying her with his jealous behavior to Draco.

Finally, the lesson ended. Dumbledore smiled and said that it would “not be necessary for you to practice as a group, just work on your Patronus Charms and Ms Weasley and Mr Malfoy please continue your usual practice”. He left while they gathered their stuff, though Draco leaned back on a chair and seemed to show all the intentions of staying there. Harry nodded curtly to Draco and Ginny managed to give a quick smile, trying to stay the tears that were threatening to come. Ron grabbed her arm and was about to lead her rather roughly out when…

“Ginevra, could I have a word with you please? It’s about our training schedule.”

Shit. Ginny thought desperately. Shit, shit, shit!


Summary: A conversation in French... A thestral's love... A confrontation... Will Ginevra Weasley pass them by untouched?

Ginny felt as if she was caught in a trap. Two pairs of icy warm eyes glared at her from the doorway, and one pair of beseeching ice ones gazed at her from a chair. “It’s getting late Ginny,” growled Ron.


“It is only half past seven,” Draco said sharply. “We have a few things we need to discuss.”

“I don’t see why you need to discuss anything with Gin-” Ron began rudely.

“Actually Ron, I think it’s my choice. You guys go ahead, I’ll see you later.”

Reluctantly, the trio left with Draco looking on straight-faced. “This had better be important,” she snapped once she had closed the door.

“Ginny…” he stood up and crossed the floor to her, enveloping her hands in his for a moment.

“Draco,” she whimpered. “We agreed-”

“We didn’t agree anything Ginevra. You laid down the law, with me having no say in it. I’ll have my say now. I can’t be apart from you anymore, Gin. The prophecy is just a prophecy, and we don’t know that it’s true, but I’m dying with not being able to hold you.” He stroked her cheek gently and a shiver passed through her. “I need you. Please.”

“If it’s true…” she whispered.

“Then I’ll accept the consequences. Ginny, I don’t care much for life. I never have. At the beginning of this year, I was contemplating just ending it.” Ginny gasped, and flinched as if she had been hit. Tears began to roll down her cheeks. “But when I’m with you I couldn’t even think of dying. If the prophecy’s true Gin, then either way I’m going to die, but at least if I’m with you I get some time. Some good times. But if it’s not true…”

“Then it’s happily ever after,” Ginny finished for him, still crying.

“As much as a ‘happy ever after’ can be for a Malfoy anyway,” he replied wryly. “Ginny, please.”

She was still crying. She could see the sense in what he was saying, but so many things seemed to be telling her to just walk away. After a conflicting battle between her rationality and her heart, she managed to whisper one thing. “Okay.”

He leaned forward and kissed her and she felt a great rushing joy overwhelm her. It’s meant to be, we’re meant to be! The thought ran through her head again and again, in the privacy of her mind that she dwelt in when Draco was not there. She tasted him again, inhaled his scent, breathed in his essence with every gasp. It was if she was an amputee who had suddenly been given back her limb, better than before.

I wish this never ends.

It never will.
She jumped a little at his thought- she hadn’t been aware she was in his mind.

I have to go. She was very pleased with this way of communicating; it meant she could talk to him without breaking off from the kiss.

Why? His tongue darted into her mouth, and she let out a small moan.

My brother is expecting me to be having a quick chat about our dueling timetable. He’ll be furious if I don’t come for hours.

Do you care?


She bit gently on his lip, feeling him stiffen and shiver under her touch… She loved that she could do this to him. No.

They kissed for minutes- it was really hours. They kissed for hours- t’was only minutes. They lost all sense of time and space- there was only them. She spent time in his mind, him picking out memories he thought would please her or make her laugh, and then she did the same for him. Hesitantly, she showed him waking up in the Chamber of Secrets, images of her writing to Tom Riddle, scared and frightened memories of standing somewhere and not knowing how you got there. He held her close to him and simply listened.

Finally she broke away, lips tingling as the castle clock struck midnight. Wordlessly, she packed her bag and ran, stopping at the door to blow a kiss behind her. She only just caught the whispered thought in her mind: And so Cinderella runs from the Prince. But the Prince always finds her.

When she reached the common room, there was only Hermione, sitting and reading. The girl put her book aside though when Ginny entered and Ginny caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her lips were redder than usual and her hair was a mess. The top two buttons of her shirt were undone.

“Hello, Hermione,” she said somewhat awkwardly.

“You’re in love with him, aren’t you?” Hermione replied simply. Ginny jolted back and was prepared to deny it all when she saw the kindness and sympathy in the older girl’s eyes. She sank to the floor and sat cross legged, chin resting on her hands.

“Please don’t tell Harry or Ron,” Ginny pleaded.

“I won’t. They’ll find out though, you know. They’re not going to be happy. Ron’s got the ‘older brother’ thing in full power and Harry still likes you.”

“I know. I just… I just don’t want things to be complicated in my life for once. I want to be able to go out with who I want and Ron not to care.” She looked down.

“I hardly think things are going to be simple when you’re going out with Draco Malfoy: son of your family’s worst enemy and your brother’s worst enemy. Draco Malfoy: hater of Muggles and Muggle borne. Draco Malfoy: school bully.” Ginny thought she detected a hint
of bitterness in Hermione’s voice.

“Draco Malfoy: boy who likes me more than anyone else ever has.”

“Yes, I think he does,” Hermione said softly.

“Hermione, how do you know?”

“It’s very obvious, Ginny,” she laughed gently. “He can’t keep his eyes off you- you can’t stop looking at him. You come back from a time with a lot of prolonged, private communication with him and you were just about glowing. You come the next morning broken hearted and Malfoy’s looking at you over breakfast like he’s going to die. Of course, seeing this afternoon’s exhibition was the clincher.”

“If it’s so damn obvious, how come Harry and Ron don’t know?” Ginny snapped. Hermione, luckily, did not take offense.

“Because Harry didn’t know that Cho was falling for him until I explicitly pointed it out. Because I’ve been trying to show your brother that I like him for two years and he still hasn’t caught on, even though-” she suddenly seemed to realise what she was saying and covered her mouth.

“I knew it!” exclaimed Ginny gleefully.

“I shouldn’t have said that,” Hermione murmured, blushing.

“He likes you Hermione,” Ginny said quietly.

“I think, Gin, that I’ll wait for him to say that. But I’m getting tired of waiting. After this year I’m going to spend some time in Europe. Relax for a while, you know? And- and it’ll be just me, by myself,” she said determinedly. “Unless… unless…”

Ginny nodded, understanding. “He doesn’t think you care,” she whispered.

“I know. I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Ron has the emotional span of a teaspoon.”

Ginny laughed. “You’re right there. I better go to bed.”

“Yes, I bet you’re right worn out from all that dueling practice,” Hermione said sarcastically.

Ginny giggled quietly, then stretched and yawned. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight Ginny.”

She turned and began to walk up the stairs. On the top step she turned. “ ‘Mione?”

“Mmmn?”

“Thank you.”

Hermione looked up and smiled warmly. “You’re welcome Gin. Just… be careful.”

Ginny nodded, and made her way up to bed. She lay on her mattress and her heart soared to the clouds. Sleep would just not come upon her, for every time she was about to drift off she’d remember something he’d said, something he’d done, some way that he had kissed her. She crossed to the window, and hung out of it for a while, feeling with pleasure the cool breeze on her face. Owls circled in the moonlight and somewhere, in the darkness of shadows that loomed under the castle a silver shape cantered. Ginny narrowed her eyes and with a sudden smile realised what it was; a Thestral.

***

Harry Potter could not sleep. He lay on the bed, wondering how it could have gotten to that stage under his very nose- how blind he had been! He knew now… and it all made sense, really. He had been a fool. What had he done, he wondered, to make her fall in love with their worst enemy? Was he that bad a boyfriend? She smelt so sweet, he remembered. Like honey and cream and cinnamon and the sweetest of brown sugar. And he had lost her.

“Ginny, what have you done?” he whispered.

***

Draco Malfoy lay wide awake on his bed. His eyes watched the ceiling thoughtfully, and he smiled slightly to himself. She was so beautiful, and her taste and scent drove him mad. He had taken a cold shower first thing when he got bad, and he had been shivering when he got out; not from the coldness of the shower but from her touch. He felt a terrible desire to laugh; Ginny Weasley, overlooked by so many was no longer scared- and all because he had found her.

On an impulse, he crossed to the window and sat on the sill, reminiscent of Ginevra Weasley. He reached for his wand, and cast a spell, one that was being watched by Ginny Weasley. It was not hard- all he had to do was remember this evening.

***

The next day, Ginny practically leapt out of bed. She went to the window and watched the rain pour down, smiling at the memory of last night. And another good thing; it was Saturday, which meant no lessons, which meant hours alone with him- finally. Grinning and humming slightly to herself, she leaned out the window and let the rain batter her face.

She detected a dark small shape battling its way to her through the downpour. As it got closer, she realised it was an owl, which was strange as it could easily have waited for the rain to ease off and deliver whatever the letter was at breakfast. She was even more surprised (and delighted) as with a final great effort it threw itself across the rushing wind and into her dormitory. The letter tied to its claw read: To Ginevra Weasley.

Smiling, she placed the letter on her bed then went to a corner, where the sixth year girls had constructed a magical coffee maker. Pouring a dish of warm milk, she handed it to the owl, which gratefully pecked at it. Soon the beautiful bird left and Ginny settled herself onto the bed to read her letter.

Dear Ginny,
I wanted to let this get to you before breakfast but I’m not sure if you are awake, so I’m sending this by owl rather than just mind speaking to you. Can you meet me straight after breakfast in the Astronomy Tower? I fancy a change of scene from the Room of Requirement and it is desolate enough. Reply if you can’t make it, but otherwise I presume I’ll see you there.
D.M.


She smiled again, and immediately took a shower. She washed her hair with a new shampoo that was scented- it made her smell lovely. She dressed in a pair of jeans and a long sleeved dark green silk top; guessing and hoping that he would like the color. She placed a simple charm on her hair that dried it, waves bouncing upon her shoulders.

She looked into the mirror and studied her face. She was not a beauty, she decided. But she would do, for now.

Breakfast seemed to take forever. Her eyes were bright with excitement and she kept looking up and finding his eyes resting upon her. As if by mutual agreement they did not speak mind to mind, instead just letting the powers of sight do all the work. She did not notice Hermione’s knowing grins, nor Harry’s paleness. A smile danced upon her lips and she almost laughed with the pure joy of knowing she was going to see him.

It had never been like this with Harry. It never could have, she realised. She had discovered that there was so much more to be had in a relationship, and Harry could never have given any of it to her, much as he tried.

After finishing her breakfast she looked to the Slytherin table and realised he had left while she was wasn’t looking. Slipping out of her chair and exchanging a sly glance with Hermione, Ginny snuck out of the Great Hall and made her way to the Astronomy Tower.
He was already there, waiting for her. She suddenly blushed a little, shyness coming over her. What would she say now? “Um, hello,” she managed in a tiny voice. In answer, he crossed the meter between them swiftly and kissed her on the lips. She immediately snuck her hands around his neck while he let his hands get lost in her mane of hair. They intensified the kiss, and he was just creeping his tongue in when…

“What the hell is going on here?”

They sprang apart like startled rabbits and Ginny met with the unpleasant sight of seeing Pansy Parkinson glaring at her.

“Parkinson,” Draco said his voice a little husky. He cleared his throat impatiently. “Look, I can explain…”

“Bullshit! Do the words your father mean anything to you? What about Slytherin and Gryffindor? Ring a bell? Draco, what d’you think you’re doing?” She repeated, her voice slightly panicked.

“Nothing. I swear, Parkinson, there’s nothing happening. It was just a kiss!” Ginny backed away a little.

“She’s a Weasley!”

“And you’re a Slytherin,” Ginny butted in, voice cold. “Rude, uncultured, uncouth. You wouldn’t know about anything further then your own nose, let alone anything about me.”

“C'est tout que vous savez!” Pansy muttered under her breath. Ginny did not hear.

“The whole bunch of you are mean, evil bastards and I hope the lot of you rot in hell! I-”

Pansy Parkinson interrupted her. “Tu ne sais rien de serpents,” she hissed. Ginny stared at her, uncomprehending.


“Ne faites pas l'amusement d'elle.” Draco’s voice came in suddenly.


“Et pourquoi pas?”


He did not speak for a long time, but when he did his voice was very, very quiet. “Because…” he looked over at Ginny, but then very quietly answered in what Ginny guessed was French. “Je l’aime.”

“Vous êtes un traiteur!” Pansy yelled.

“Non.” his reply sounded almost afraid.

“Oui, vous êtes!”

“Je ne sais qui je sais,” he said quietly, and Ginny’s
heart almost broke at the terrible sadness in his voice.

Pansy Parkinson spat at his feet then turned on her heel and strode out.

Draco leaned back against the wall and seemed to be thinking deeply. When he spoke finally, his voice was smooth and nonchalant as ever. “I’m sorry you had to see that. This will have some impact on us. The whole school should know about us before the end of the day.”

“As if I care,” Ginny said bitterly.
Of all the reactions Draco had expected from her, this definitely was not one. “Ginny?” he said a little uncertainly. “What- what’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” she snapped. “That’s exactly it, isn’t it? Nothing. Just a kiss, after all.” She turned away, afraid that she mightn’t be able to keep the tears back for much longer.

“Oh fuck Ginny,” he retorted. “You know that I couldn’t possibly explain anything about us. It’s too complicated.”

“Does she know about the prophecy too then?” she said softly, back still turned.

“No.” he hesitated. “I never told anyone else but you.”

“Oh. Why me?”

“Do I really need to explain that to you?” He said gently, walking towards her. She shivered a little at his closeness to her, and shook her head. He kissed her neck gently, inhaling her scent. “You’re wearing perfume,” he said abruptly.

“No,” she murmured breathing in hard as he did delicious things to her skin. “It’s a scented shampoo.

D’you like it?”

“It’s very nice, I suppose.”

“Suppose?”

“It blocks out your own scent,” he whispered in her ear.

“Oh? What do I smell like, Draco?” She turned around and he pushed her against the wall, tongue exploring her mouth. She moaned slightly under his touch.

“Like… cinnamon and fire.” She closed her eyes.

“Draco,” she whispered.

“Yes?”

“I don’t speak French.”

“No, I didn’t think so.”

“But my father does.”

“Oh?” she noticed a slight nervousness about him and he pulled away a little. She leaned against the wall, eyes holding his, and his elbow leaned only centimeters from hers, facing her full on.

“Yes. He used to sing a little song to me every night in French when I was little. And it was about pure love. I know it still.” She paused, and then sang in a lovely lilting voice.

“Elle est belle,
avec ses cheveux ardents,
vert d'yeux comme bijoux,
elle ne sera jamais la mienne,
mais je l'aime,
je l'aime.”

“That’s lovely,” he said, trying to act as if he didn’t particularly care.

“Isn’t it? I don’t know what most of it means, save the last line.”

“Ah.”

“Yes. Did I- did I mishear you, Draco?” He looked down and she gently placed her small fingers under his chin, pulling his head up to look at her.

“I- I don’t know what I think.”

“Okay,” she looked away and let her hand fall from his face. “I guess you just said it to- to get rid of Parkinson. I just- just thought, you know…hoped…”

“I can’t go against everything I stand for,” he said hoarsely.

“No, of course not.”

“My family, the prophecy, your family, your friends, our houses… there is so much that stands between us.”

“But there is always a way,” she whispered, tears pricking at her eyes.

“Is there?” his voice cracked, and a little piece of her died. “I grew up thinking there was only one way- my fathers. And then I found there was another, one that my father called the fools’ way. How can we travel down both together? They fork off from another.”

“Can’t you come with me?” she pleaded, tears falling down her cheeks.

“I want to. But what I want has never entered into my life and come true.”

“I did.”

“I didn’t want you,” he told her, and as she stiffened he rubbed his hands up and down her shoulders. “I didn’t want… to fall in love with you.”

She looked up, and wiped away her tears. A smile broke through the tearstained face. “Do you- do you mean that?”

He looked straight into her eyes. “I mean it more than anything else I’ve ever said,” he said honestly. She started crying. “What’s wrong now?” he asked, a little distressed.

“I never thought I’d hear someone say that to me,” she sniffed, half laughing through her tears.

“I never thought I’d say that,” he told her, wiping away her new tears with the pad of his thumb.

“Kiss me, please.” He complied and she felt that everything was so right. They only broke apart when the castle clock struck eleven. She laughed, from the incredible wonder of what he had said.

“Malfoy?” she giggled.

“Mmmn?”

“Ferret boy?”

He scowled mockingly at her. “Yes?”

“Muggle hater?”

“Is this a joke?”

“Draco,” she whispered huskily and he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.

“Yes?”

“I love you.”

He pulled her to him ferociously and kissed her passionately, so passionately that she thought she would faint. He bit on her lip gently and she cried aloud, but not from pain. When he finally let her go she felt as if she was no longer herself, just a part that could be pulled off and reattached to Draco Malfoy at will. It was a glorious feeling. She breathed in and out hard and he studied her with a small smile tugging at the right hand corner of his mouth.

“Draco. Hermione knows. Parkinson knows. I think my friend, Tara, may know. We have to tell everyone.”

“It’s not going to be pleasant, Ginny.”

“That will be as it may. But I can’t live life as a lie anymore.”

He smiled sadly. “I know. Okay then. Oh there’s one other thing, Ginevra.” She made a face at her real name but he continued regardless. “Did you read the notice in your common room?” She shook her head. “There’s a ball coming up. A dance, that is. To quote, Dumbledore believes that it will ‘bring light in dark times’. Will you come with me?”

She smiled. “A ball! How wonderful. Of course I’ll come with you… Can you dance Malfoy?”

He raised an eyebrow. “Ginevra, I’m a Malfoy. I was forced to attend dancing lessons from the age of four.” He lifted her at the waist and effortlessly held her into the air, spinning her around. She laughed and he set her down gently.

“Goodbye,” she smiled and he pulled her towards him and kissed her.

“Goodbye,” he answered letting her go. She smiled and left the staircase at a slow walk. Silver gray eyes watched the doorway, long after she had gone.

***

The trio was in the common room of course, and they looked up in amusement as Ginny practically waltzed into the room.

“What’s made you so happy?” laughed Hermione, knowing something along the lines of what it must have been. Ginny did not notice Harry look down.

“Because,” she began.

“Ginny,” Harry interrupted. “Have you heard about the dance?”

“Yes!” Ginny laughed, feeling light headed.

“Will you go with me?” he blurted out. Ginny stared at him, sinking back to earth with what she imagined as a sickening thud.

“Oh-”

“As a friend,” he explained quickly, only one thought on his mind: I have to get in first, I have to get in first!

“I can’t Harry.” she said awkwardly.

Ron looked up, raising his eyebrows. “He said as a friend, Ginny,” he reminded her.

Ginny blushed. “Yes, I know. But- I can’t…”

“Why not?” asked Harry quietly.

“Because- because I’m going with someone else already.”

Ron looked like he was going to explode. “What?” he said roughly. “You’re not going with Neville again, are you?”

Ginny looked like she was going to cry. She shook her head slowly. Hermione looked sympathetic.

“Well who are you going with?” asked Harry.

“I don’t think she needs to tell you-” Hermione began, but Ginny shook her head.

“No Hermione. They want to know- so I guess I’ll tell them.” She swallowed hard. “I’m going with Draco Malfoy.”

WHAT?” Harry and Ron jumped up as one. Hermione shook her head sadly.

“You’re joking, right?” Harry said bluntly.

Ginny shook her head determinedly. “No. And that’s- that’s not all.”

Please don’t let me be right, Harry thought desperately. Please, please don’t let me be right!

“I’m not going with him as a friend.”

Her voice had sounded rather clear over the whole common room, where many people had been eavesdropping on the conversation, and now there was complete silence. Finally, Harry managed to croak out a few words. “How long?”

“Since- since the day the Death Eaters cast the darkness spell over the castle.”

Ron dropped his quill. “Are you mad, Ginevra?”

“No.”

“WELL WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU THEN? WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THAT SLIMY-”

“Ronald!” shrieked Hermione suddenly. “Nobody chooses who they fall in love with! Can’t you see how happy he’s made her? She came in here on a cloud!” Her voice softened a little. “Did you not notice him at the dueling practice? All the tripping over each other, the smiles, the way he looked at her? Nobody chooses who they fall in love with,” she repeated. “God knows if they could, I wouldn’t be standing around waiting!” With that final cryptic sentence, she stormed to the Girls Dormitory.

Her speech was again met with complete silence. Then Ron, managed in a small, squeaky voice. “What did she say?”

“She said,” Harry said bitterly. “That Malfoy-the-git has made Ginny happy and that-”

“No, not that,” Ron interrupted. “About her waiting or something.”

A small smile crept across Ginny’s face. Harry was looking at her strangely; and then he too began to grin. “I think it means,” Harry said slowly. “That you’ve still got a chance over dear Vicky.”

Ron began to grin. “I think I understand what she means!” he laughed. “Ginny, I don’t like it, but hell, I couldn’t really care at the moment! All I’m saying is, watch it. I think he sleeps with a lot of girls- you could just be another conquest.” Ginny narrowed her eyes, but then smiled reluctantly. Ron was too happy to get angry at right now.

“Harry?” she said gently.

His eyes were sad. “I don’t like it Gin.”

She smiled just as sadly back at him. “You have to let me go, Harry.”

He nodded, a lump climbing into his throat. And thus the confrontation passed, with rather better results then she had expected.

***

Lunch time was nearing and Ginny and the trio made their way to the Great Hall, where they were quite early so the teachers had not yet arrived and there were only a few students already seated and talking amongst themselves. They entered at the same time as Draco and a bunch of Slytherin followers (including Pansy Parkinson who glowered at Ginny) came in from the opposite door. Ginny and Draco’s eyes met, and with a slight smile, Draco quickly crossed the floor to her, and pulled her into a long kiss. She laughed as well as she could with his mouth covering hers and was happily unaware of the wolf whistles coming from the Slytherin table and the titters and hisses of surprise from the other houses.

“You two- get apart, now!” snapped the cold voice of Professor Snape, and for the second time that day Ginny and Draco sprang apart. The teachers were just seating themselves at the High Table, some amused, some bewildered, some disgusted and some just plain bored. “While you two may be enjoying that, the rest of us are attempting to eat our lunch. Next time it’s detentions- separate detentions- for the both of you!”

Snape was very disgruntled as Ginny was killing herself laughing and Draco looked like he was about to, but the two went to their opposite tables and Ginny sat next to Tara who was looking on bemused, and Draco next to a furious Parkinson and a Blaise Zabini who looked like he was going to make some extremely disgusting jokes.

Ginevra Weasley, I love you.

A/N Well, there you have it. Apologies for the long wait- I know it was a cliffie!

Chapter 10: The Dance
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary: A ballroom dance... Yet not everyone is happy. That night, Ginny knows that it will end at an extreme. Blissful love, she guesses.

But is that- or tragedy?


The next few weeks seemed to pass in a blur. Most nights she met up with Draco, and some of the time they managed to keep their hands off each other long enough to practice dueling for a little while- though Ginny doubted the Death Eaters would be as reluctant to hurt her as he was. He frustrated her often; sometimes he would meet up with her all sullen and cold and locked up in his own thoughts, but she learnt quickly not to bring attention to it as it always ended with him snapping at her. Sometimes, she felt their differences were too much to bear, and that it was too hard to continue together when half of the school was against it. Then he would look at her, or simply smile and she knew that she could never leave him.

Professor Snape had developed a nasty habit of finding them in whichever dark corner they were in, and only in the Room of Requirement were they ever really concealed. Harry moped around for two or three days, and then seemed (with many lengthy sighs and mournful glances) to get over her. Indeed, after about a week he began sneaking out and coming back looking exactly like Ginny had on that night Hermione had talked to her- albeit the feminine features of course.

As for Ron and Hermione, Ginny felt that not much had progressed. Hermione was even more waspish than usual around him for a few days, and Ron turned even pinker in the ears for the same amount of time but eventually they seemed to settle down to normal. A couple of times though, Ginny noticed Ron pouring over what looked like a catalogue for hours at a time and she wondered whether it had anything to do with Hermione’s nearing seventeenth birthday.

Of course, the weekly dueling practices with the trio and Draco and Ginny did not improve- in fact they got worse. It was then that Harry seemed to remember that Draco had snatched his girlfriend from under his very nose, and the spells came thick and fast between them. Once, Ginny and Hermione had to drag the two apart, for although they never touched the spells were used with such ferocity that Harry got a blood nose and Draco ended up with a split lip. In that fight however, Draco came better off- Harry got a good scolding from Hermione and Draco got a kiss to ‘make it better’ from Ginny.

Ginny found that after a few weeks, things were different in the face of the general school population. Those girls who were not ignoring her (in the secret rebel poll that went around Hogwarts, Draco had been voted ‘sexiest male’ and many were more then a little annoyed that Ginny had taken him off the bachelor status) stopped their teases and the boys soon dropped the dirty jokes- people seemed to realise that they were more than just a fling, and Ginny and Draco became one of those rare things at Secondary School- a proper item. She loved the way that people regarded them seriously, and though the polls about how long they would last hurt her, she generally went untouched by the schools remarks about them.

As for Draco, he was so used to be a thing of gossip at the school that it flew right over his head. Though often the Slytherin boys snickered when they were found kissing somewhere, or even just sitting together (and therefore inevitably playing ‘footsies’) Draco was not usually teased as Ginny was- for he was the Slytherin Prince and none but Blaise Zabini dared mess around with him. Draco often thought grimly that Zabini’s day was coming, for he was getting to big for his boots and being made a sort of honoree member of Draco’s close circle (if they were close) had gone to his head.

In Slytherin there was a kind of hierarchy and Draco had to stay on top of that- for people often tried to take control. So far, none had succeeded, but Draco often got challenges for a duel from Slytherin males. He had a natural talent at dueling- not to mention the extra training he’d been doing- and always won. The kind of would be rulers that he despised most though, were the ones like Blaise Zabini- for they would lick his feet but the moment his face was turned would stab him in the back.

Draco had once tried to explain this to Ginny, but she hadn’t understood. She was a Gryffindor, he often had to remind himself. And despite her temper she was not anything like a Slytherin; she could not understand the way their world worked.

The day of the ball grew nearer, and Ginny was growing more and more excited. The only thing she worried about was her outfit- she had the dress she had worn the dreadful night he had told her about the prophecy, but it was not ball-worthy. As beautiful as it was, it was not the kind one wore to a dance, and so she worried.

On the weekend before the ball it was the first Hogsmeade visit, and Draco requested permission to go with her- which she immediately accepted, of course. The day came with snow, and Ginny’s heart sang as she stepped out next to the carriages to find Draco there ready to help her up into them. They did not kiss in the carriage, for they were forced to share it with Crabbe and Goyle- and Ginny still hated Goyle with a passion, as did Draco yet Goyle refused to as Ginny so eloquently put it ‘bugger off’- but they sat very, very close.

Later, wandering around Hogsmeade in a dreamy haze Draco announced that he had a surprise for her.

“What is it?” she laughed, breath coming in frosty sheets through the air.

“If I told you it wouldn’t be a surprise,” he replied firmly and gripped her gloved hand in his. He led her along the main street and then off into a small avenue that branched off from it. Down a couple of shops there was a small, warm boutique with impeccable plastic model dolls in the window wearing beautiful dresses.

“In here,” he whispered in her ear, and Ginny feeling great warmth grow inside her stepped into the shop with a tinkle of bells.

The woman behind the counter was very thin and very tall. She looked down at Ginny with a steely eye and took in her shabby cloak and gloves with a hole in the little finger. Her lips curved upwards into a sneer and she was about to make a rude remark when Draco coughed slightly. Her eyes took in his pale face and garments, and swiftly deducted that he was a rich customer, even if this girl was not.

“May I help you?” she said airily.

“I’m looking for the ballroom dresses,” Draco said as if he did this every day. Ginny looked around her in wonder at the beautiful clothes and made a mental note to be incredibly rich when she was older so that she could afford things like these.

“This way,” the woman said, leading them to a small corner of the shop were there hung several gorgeous dresses. Ginny’s amazed eye wandered dreamily over all of them, taking in their color and shape and then one caught her eye.

It was silver, and quite tight around the top half with a low cut neck that made Ginny a little pink. It had a slender piece of material that went around the bodice a second time, like a sash but slightly thicker with a dark green flower attached to the top. The skirt flared out, and it had no sleeves, becoming a ‘boob tube’. A pair of long silver gloves came with it. It was, to describe it in one word, exquisite.

Reaching out a shaking hand, Ginny stroked the silk material and then took her hand away reverently. Draco smiled at her.

“Yes, I picked that one for you too.” Ginny eyes widened and her mouth moved to form one word: me?

“Well, we’re not here to buy a dress for me,” he said rather amused.

“But,” she whispered, gaining her powers of speech. “It must be so expensive…”

“Don’t worry about that,” he said sharply. “It’s a gift.”

“Draco, I couldn’t-” she began, but he interrupted her.

“No, you can- you just won’t. But it’s not a negotiable matter. I’m buying a dress for you. So say thank you, Ginevra.”

She stared at him. Finally… “Thank you,” she murmured.

“You’re quite welcome. Now try it on.”

Taking it with shaking hands, she went into the dressing room and tried it on. It was a perfect fit, and when the woman passed her a silver tiara that went with it, Ginny thought she would burst with happiness. When she came out, she twirled around, the dress flaring out and smiled at Draco.

“What do you think?” she laughed.

He stared at her, words catching in his throat. It seemed to him that he’d never seen anything so beautiful, and so he just nodded. She didn’t mind. The way he had looked at her was enough.

She changed back into her normal clothes, first trying on a dainty pair of silver slippers (she again refused to wear heels) and watched breathlessly as the woman wrapped it up. She flushed a little when Draco handed the woman a velvet black bag of galleons and the woman handed back only two sickles change, but Draco didn’t seem to care and so Ginny swallowed her pride, instead whispering another thank you.

Taking the brown paper bag the woman handed her, Ginny stepped outside and shivered as the cold wind hit her with force. Draco smiled, and led her to the Three Broomsticks, ordering two butterbeers and sliding next to her in a small closed off booth.

He smiled at her and kissed her gently, hands stroking her face as she leaned onto him. His kiss was so familiar now, and she could usually tell what mood he was in by the way he kissed her. Now, she decided, he was as close to happy as he could come. They broke apart only as the waitress brought their drinks over.

She was a giggling fourteen year old obviously on part time work and seemed to break into hysterics at every “girlfriend/boyfriend” thing she saw about them. The kissing had her in furious muffled giggles- when she saw that Ginny was all but on his lap and their legs entwined under the table she almost fell over from laughing. When she finally managed to leave without tripping in her blind laughter, Draco growled angrily under his breath.

“Damn immature waitresses and their teenage acne,” he cursed.

Ginny had found the whole thing rather funny. “I had pimples when I was about her age,” she reminded him gently.

“Yes,” he agreed. “But you had them with style.”

***

That evening they once again sat in the Astronomy Tower for a little while, just looking at the other. “Thank you for the dress,” Ginny murmured for the seventh time that day.

He shrugged, a little embarrassed. “It was my pleasure,” he replied. His gaze was so intense that she blushed a little. Yet she met his gaze evenly and they were content to just watch each other. Eventually she shifted and sat with her head fitting neatly under his chin, leaning against his chest.

“I saw Potter and co. today,” he said unexpectedly.

Ginny was confused. It wasn’t like him to talk about the doings of the three. “So?” she asked.

“So I thought even Potter wouldn’t be so completely stupid as to follow around a couple who’re dating,” he said witheringly.

“As in Hermione and Ron?” Ginny laughed.

“Yes.”

“Draco,” she snickered. “They’re not dating. They never have been.”

He frowned. “Then why do they…” he trailed off.

“I know! But Ron’s too shy and Hermione’s still old fashioned in a way- she thinks the boy should always ask the girl out.”

He shrugged. “Like I care, anyway. I just wondered.”

She smiled. “Contradictory statements,” she pointed out.

He shrugged. “Whatever.”

Ginny sighed and laid her head back against him. “Snape was just foul on Wednesday,” she muttered.

He smiled in the twilight. “How so?”

She sighed. “He gave me a detention, because apparently my ‘frivolous and giggling behavior was detrimental to the class’s progress’. I didn’t get any dinner. Had to raid the kitchens.”

He stroked her hair. “That’s too bad.”

“And he hates me during those lessons we have with him. He’s a slimy bastard.”

“Yes.”

“He is the most unreasonable git I’ve ever met.”

“He is.”

She frowned at him. “I’m getting the feeling you’re making fun of me, Draco Malfoy.”

“How could you think that, Ginny dear?” he asked sarcastically.

“Well, I’m leaving,” she huffed mockingly. “No point hanging around where I’m not wanted.”

“Definitely not.” He turned her around and kissed her, Ginny relaxing in his warmth and returning the kiss put her hands up in his hair. Breaking apart and panting, he watched her with a smirk. “I’ll take you to your common room.”

She nodded, and slipped her hand in the crook of his arm. They walked slowly down the flight of stairs, with many a stop in a dark cranny to have a snog. She was breathless by the time they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady and her mouth was tingling. Leaning against her Draco kissed her once more, passionately and hard while she used her hands to travel across Draco’s back.

A disgusted groan brought them both back to the present. “Oh come on, you had all day at Hogsmeade to do that,” Dean Thomas sneered, while Seamus sniggered beside him. Ginny growled under her breath as Draco pulled away from her, once again amused. Every part of her felt she was on fire- damn those boys!

“Goodnight, Ginny,” drawled Draco. Ginny was too out of breath to manage to say anything- she was only able to give him a slight pout to show her displeasure. He laughed softly under his breath and raising his hand in a final wave he turned and strode away.

“Chocolate frog,” snapped Ginny once she had caught her breath. Sticking her tongue out and Seamus and Dean, she pushed past them and into the Common Room.

***

It was the day of the dance and Ginny found that she was practically dancing everywhere. She hadn’t seen Draco all day but then, she reminded herself, she was sure to see a lot of him tonight. The ball was to start the Christmas holidays, Dumbledore had announced but Ginny had decided to stay at Hogwarts, because Harry was going to the Burrow and Ginny wanted to give them some room- although Draco announcing that he would be staying over the holidays might have had some influence upon her decision.

She walked back from the last lesson that day having to willfully force herself not to skip. Entering the Common Room she saw that it was empty, save for one girl hunched up in a corner crying. Going over to her, Ginny found to her dismay that it was Hermione.

“ ‘Mione, what’s wrong?” she asked concernedly.

Hermione looked up. “Oh,” she sniffed, wiping away her tears with a sleeve. “Nothing, really. I’d just been hoping that… that…” she burst into tears again.

“What, ‘Mione? You’d been hoping that what?” Ginny had a sinking feeling that she already knew.

“That- that Ron might ask me to the dance,” cried Hermione. “I just- letting that slip the other night, when you told them about Malfoy. I really thought that he might get it after that, even though I didn’t mean to- to say it.”

“Oh God, Hermione,” Ginny said, hugging the older girl. “Don’t let him get you down. Come up with me and once you’ve got dressed come into my room and I’ll do your make-up for you again, like at the Yule Ball, if you do my hair, okay?”

Hermione nodded and sniffed hard. “Being silly,” she murmured. “Thanks, Gin.” Ginny nodded and Hermione went up to the dormitory. Ginny waited downstairs.

Ten minutes later, Harry and Ron walked in. Ginny did not hesitate- she walked straight over to Ron and slapped him hard across the face.

“Ow!” yelled Ron. “What was that for?”

“You,” Ginny told him haughtily. “Are an insensitive brat. Making yourself miserable over a girl is one thing but making her upset too is completely barbaric! I’m ashamed of you, Ronald Billius Weasley!”
She stormed up to the dormitory to get ready, Ron and Harry looking on bewildered.

***

Several hours later, Ginny and Hermione descended to find the boys waiting for them at the bottom of the stairs. Ginny was wearing the dress Draco had given her and Hermione had put her hair up into a French Knot at the top of her head. A white rose (stalk snipped off and a careful preserving charm placed upon it) rested on the top of her head, and two locks fell down to frame her face. She had once again opted to not wear make-up.

Hermione was wearing a beautiful crimson dress, also a boob-tube that clung to her every curve and with a slight cut going halfway up, revealing a pale and very toned leg. She had a golden wrap that she clutched around her, and her hair had once again been straightened out, falling all the way down her back. Harry and Ron realized to their amazement that she had let it grow, concealing its length in the messy buns she wore everyday, and it reached down to her waist.

Ginny smirked slightly to herself when she saw Ron turn pink and mutter out something about looking ‘very nice’. The four opened the portrait and Harry turned to Ginny, puzzled.

“Where’s Malfoy?”

“Oh, he’s meeting me at the ball,” she said vaguely, concealing the fact that she had no idea where he was meeting her.

“Okay. Hey guys, mind if we pass by the Ravenclaw Common Room? It’s on our way, and someone asked me to pick them up there.”

Ginny and Hermione exchanged a glance and at the rolling of eyes that Hermione did, Ginny had to muffle a giggle with her gloved hand. They agreed to and waited outside a large mirror on the fifth floor. After two minutes, an elegant blonde stepped out and smiling dreamily took Harry’s offered arm.

Hermione, Ron and Ginny stared at the girl for a moment- all were sure they had seen her somewhere before. Suddenly, Ron realized who it was and exclaimed out loud.

“Lovegood! Loon- er, Luna Lovegood!”

It was indeed Luna! Harry was turning a ferocious shade of red and Hermione and Ginny were in silent fits of laughter. “Hello Ronald,” Luna said mistily before leading the group forward on Harry’s arm.

It was a comical journey. Ginny and Hermione kept tripping in their quiet giggles and Harry kept looking over his shoulder and shooting them worried looks, while Ron wandered just ahead of Ginny and Hermione rather bemused.

They finally reached the Great Hall, and wandering in they found that it had again been changed into a dancing area. The tables had been put around the edges of the room and now held bowls of confectionary, crisps and drinks and there was a large stage at the top end of the room where musicians roamed, testing speakers and such. Although Ginny scanned the room, there was no Draco.

For half an hour Ginny stood there aimlessly looking lonely while the group separated and went off their different ways. She saw Harry talking intently to Luna in a corner, Hermione chatting avidly to Lavender Brown and Ron involved in a furious discussion with Dean Thomas. From the redness of Ron’s face and the amount of gesturing he was doing with his hands, Ginny guessed that he was giving a lecture about Quidditch.

She felt like crying. What was with this boy? He bought her an expensive dress, asked to take her to the ball and then didn’t turn up- she didn’t understand him! With a forceful act of will, she brought back her mind and concentrated on Dumbledore, who was two minutes into his speech.

“In this ball we are bringing forth a unique situation of music. Several of our well known wizarding bands will be playing here, including the highly acclaimed band, The Weird Sisters-” There was a loud burst of applause and a couple of the people standing around Dumbledore grinned and raised very heavily ringed hands to wave at the group. “Yes, thank you!” laughed Dumbledore.

“But tonight,” he continued. “Two rather special things will be happening. One is that the bands will mix up, so for instance one ‘Weird Sister’ may play with a member of Illusions and then another performer from Heavily Fanged Dragons in Pink.” At the name of the last band the group of students dressed in black dresses, high boots and fishnet stockings whistled.

“The other thing is that they will not be playing any of their own songs. In an attempt to embrace other music, the only songs played tonight will be muggle ones.” There were immediately a lot of murmurs, cries of surprise and curious faces. Ginny caught sight of a bunch of Slytherin’s looking very annoyed.

Draco was not among them.

Dumbledore stepped back and clapped his hands. A member of The Weird Sisters began playing a gentle tune on guitar. She heard some muggle born across the room squeal something to do with “Don’t Ever by Missy Higgins!”

She felt tears prick at her eyes as people began pairing off and swaying gently to the music. She saw Harry gently wrap his arms around Luna’s waist. She saw Ron stammer out something to Hermione who turned red enough to make a Weasley proud.

And then suddenly he was there, standing behind her, chin resting on her head. His smell drifted down to her and a long arm snuck around her waist. She took a deep breath and leaned back into his chest.

“What if,” drawled his amused voice over her shoulder. “I turned out to be Goyle?”

She suppressed the urge to laugh. “You’re late,” she said sternly.

“I was a little slower than expected,” his reply came evenly.

“In other words you hadn’t finished making yourself pretty on time,” she said dryly.

“Let me see you.” He took her shoulders and gently spun her around. Her eyes met his and she suddenly felt worried. Had she made the right decision to not wear make-up? Did she look all right? Should she have put her hair down? All her worries faded however when she saw the smile playing on his face.

“You look beautiful,” he murmured. “Almost as beautiful as the most beautiful woman I ever saw.”

She stiffened a little. “Who was that?” she snapped.

“You were standing by the lake one day. You hadn’t seen me.” he swallowed hard. “The wind was in your hair. You annoyed me.”

Her throat was dry. “Why were you annoyed at me?” she whispered.

“Not now, Ginevra Weasley,” he replied, amused as ever. “I made you miss the first dance. It’s time for the second now.”

She slipped her hand into his and smiled shyly up at him. The second began and Draco almost laughed- she could see it dancing in his eyes. How could I ever have thought his eyes were cold? She wondered dreamily as a heavily “punked-up” wizard announced that the next song was called “Elevation, by U2”.

And so they danced. They danced to every song, pausing only once to get a drink. She found he was a very good dancer; she only regretted that since the first song there had not yet been a slow one.

As if by her unspoken wish, the music turned into a slow beat. Her arms went up and around his neck and he gently pulled her in, hands on her hips. She glanced over his shoulder for a moment, and saw that most people had paired up, save a few. Neville Longbottom for instance, stood with a half smile on his pale face at the outskirts of the room. Then his eyes locked onto hers, and she forgot all but him.

And love
Is not the easy thing
The only baggage
That you can bring

Love
Is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind


Her soul seemed to drown in the gray smoky eyes that forever captivated her. She held his gaze steadily and wondered if ever she had been in a happier moment.

And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you’ve got they can’t steal it
No, they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on…
Stay safe tonight


Somehow she found that the top of his forehead was resting on hers. They were in a tiny, private place of their own where none could reside save them… and yet even they could not stay there forever.

You’re pacing a suitcase for a place that none of us have been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom


Her tongue flickered across her dry lips and he smiled at her. Gently, he bent and kissed her and so, lips tangled, they moved slowly to the music.

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on…


She smiled slightly under his lips. Was this song written for us? she asked him, slipping easily into his mind. All that stuff about love not being the easy thing? He did not reply, but he pulled his mouth away and watched her with terrible sad eyes. She caught his thought as the barest whisper in her mind.

I hope not.

***

At dinner for the first time they sat next to each other while eating. It was the strangest table arrangement Hogwarts had ever seen- there were three long tables, one for the staff and two for the students; but this was not unusual. Because Ginny had opted to sit with Draco, half of Gryffindor house decided to ‘support’ her and sat clustered around her. Closest to her were Hermione, Ron and Harry.

However, there was no way that the Slytherins were going to allow Draco to be surrounded by Gryffindors- so they filled the opposite half of the table! There was many a glaring match and rude hissed remark over dinner that night.

***

Draco and Ginny ate dinner leisurely, seeming to be unaware of the chaos that surrounded them. They spoke with members of their own house (each refusing to speak to the others house unless by necessity) and each other, and laughed and joked (at least Ginny did anyway- Draco smiled slightly and made wry remarks) as if it were a normal dinner. Albus Dumbledore watched the whole proceedings with great amusement, flanked by a sour looking McGonagall and a disgusted Snape.

The couple did not kiss at all, or stare too much at each other and if it were not for the fact that their legs were entwined in the others or the face that Draco kept absentmindedly playing with the curl that fell across Ginny’s cheek one would not have known they were a couple at all. As it was, Ron was a little disgruntled at the way his nemesis looked at Ginny or touched her face but he was begrudgingly okay with the situation- of course if he had happened to look under the table it might have been a different story!

A little after they had finished their dinner and everyone was preparing to sit around for a chat, Draco leaned forward and whispered something in Ginny’s ear. She nodded and to the trio’s (well, really the pair’s- Hermione didn’t care much, she was too busy avoiding the incredulous looks she had been receiving ever since she danced once with Ron) dismay, Draco and Ginny slipped out of the room.

Wandering dreamily in the garden, she slipped her hand into his and in a rare gesture of affection, he squeezed her hand gently. She smiled up at him and with his free hand he stroked the top of his head. The garden was exquisitely lit with fairies, some who sang and many who pounded the jars that they were imprisoned in for the one night in fury, resulting only in a tinkling sound like bells.

Ginny breathed in deeply, taking in the beautiful scent of the roses. Draco smiled down at her, and led her onwards. She shivered slightly as a cold night wind whipped through her dress.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“A little.”

A slightly mischievous glint was in his eyes as he pointed to a large thick bush with some sort of beautifully scented flowers growing off it. “In there,” he murmured.

“Are you kidding me?” she laughed.

He shook his head, and quickly crawled under. Ginny, with a slight hesitation followed him and found to her delight that it was like a hollow cave under the shrubs.

“How’d you find this?”

“I guessed.” That was all the answer he would give, but Ginny suspected something more.

“I never thought Draco Malfoy would be one to play cubbies.” she teased.

“I don’t,” he snapped. “I- look for refuges, that’s all.”

Refuges from what? She wanted to ask, but she didn’t for fear of the answer he might give.

She crawled to him, ignoring the dirt that was accumulating on her dress- after all, a simple cleaning spell would get rid of it- and snuggled into his arms, feeling them tight around her. They sat like that for a while, listening to the others heartbeat, until Ginny finally spoke a question that had been brooding on her mind for a while.

“When did you stop hating me?”

He did not reply, for a long while and when he did speak it was very quiet. “I never really hated you- not for a long while at any rate. You were just the little sister of one of my enemy’s- I had to be rude to you. Besides, you were so easy to pick on- for so many years you just sat there and took it. But then, in Umbridge’s office when you cursed me with that Bat Bogey Hex-” he chuckled lightly. “Then I hated you. Because you had damaged my pride in front of other Slytherins.

“When did I stop?” he mused, half to himself. “I think it was when Goyle kissed you. You were caught so unawares that I saw a side of you I hadn’t seen for so many years- the vulnerable side. You looked so weak and afraid, and I felt this- this rage well up inside me that Goyle would do such a thing. I may be a Malfoy, but I have got morals. I would never take any girl like that.”

Ginny shivered slightly, remembering the incident. Then, taking advantage of the fact that he was in a slightly more open mood, she asked another question.

“And when… when did you start liking me?” she paused slightly. “Loving me, even?”

“I got my first ‘crush’ on you,” he admitted freely. “That day you yelled at me in the Hospital Wing. God I loved Madame Pomfrey that day- your dress was so tight.” He seemed dreamy, and Ginny laughed quietly.

“You weren’t wearing a top,” she added.

“Yes, you’re right,” he said in surprise. “I’d forgotten that. Anyway, that’s when I realized that there may be more to my feelings for you then respect. But the day I started… loving you. It was the day we found out about the prophecy. You ran away, and sat on the window sill. I found you-” he smiled slightly into her hair. “Hours before you woke. I just sat and watched you.”

With a rush of memory, Ginny remembered the dream she had had that day.

Harry was close to her, caressing her, loving her. She leant in to him, blending into him as much as she could. His aftershave smelt slightly different from usual… Sharper, spicier… she liked it a lot better than the one he usually wore.

“It was you!” she exclaimed.

“Excuse me?” Draco asked, confused.

“I dreamt of Harry- dreamt he was holding me- but he had a new smell.”

Draco stiffened. “Do I really need to know this, Weaslette?”

“Yes!” she laughed. “You do, because it wasn’t him. It was you. Your smell. Just how close to me were you Malfoy?” she added suspiciously as an afterthought.

“I never moved from where you found me when you woke up,” he said calmly. She nodded slightly.

Reaching her hands up, she took hold of his face and tilting her head back she brought it down until their lips were touching. It was not a real kiss. Their lips brushed, nuzzled each other and Ginny lay back on him. She opened her eyes, and her eyelashes fluttered slightly on his face. He shivered slightly.

“Ginny,” he murmured hoarsely. A thrill went over her as she heard him say her name. He took her face in his hands and kissed her sweetly.

They spent the next hours curled up together in that little hollow in the shrub, kissing and talking of the war that was inevitably going to come. Ginny was glad she could finally talk to someone- Harry, Hermione and Ron always closed up and became sullen when the war was mentioned.

When the clock finally struck half past two, Ginny reluctantly pulled away from him.

“I better go.”

“If you have to,” he replied.

“I have to,” she smiled. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You will,” he agreed.

Crawling their way out of the little haven, they walked across the deserted grounds and into the castle, where they split up and went their different ways, with many kisses and whispered goodnights.

Ginny entered the Common Room in a dream, not noticing the huddle in a corner. Walking upstairs, she changed out of the beautiful gown and into a pair of pajama bottoms and a soft cotton top. Deciding to go downstairs and meditate for a while on the night’s events, she finally recognized the group- Harry, Ron and Hermione. Their shoulders were shaking, as though they were trying to keep back tears. Hermione was failing, as Ginny saw when she raised her head.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, a sliver of dread creeping over her.

“Oh God Ginny,” Hermione cried. “What are we going to do?”

Ginny stared at her, uncomprehending. “About what?” she inquired uncertainly.

Harry finally raised his face and Ginny saw that the usual brave expression had completely gone- tear streaks were on his cheeks. “Oh Ginny,” he whispered. “Neville Longbottom committed suicide.”



Chapter 11: Of Tolkien
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary: Suicide brings grief and despair... It tosses up memories... It hurts all who cross its path.

Ginny stared at him, then opened her mouth and tried to laugh. It came out hollow and distorted.

“That’s not very funny,” she said in the jovial voice that was not her own.

Ron shook his head. “It’s true Ginny. It’s all true.” Hermione let out a sob and Ron enclosed her in his arms.

Ginny shook her head. “No, it’s not,” she whispered. She turned and ran up to the boys dormitory, heart beating fast.

“Neville!” she called desperately. “Neville, where are you?” The curtains on his bed were closed, and she breathed a sigh of relief. He was in there, asleep. It was all a sick joke. She drew back the curtains and stared at the empty bed.

Not quite empty though. On the pillowcase was pinned a note. Ginny pulled it off with shaking hands. It was written in Neville’s unmistakable untidy handwriting. It was simple, brief and to the point. It hurt Ginny’s heart.

I’m sorry. But I miss my mum.

Ginny’s heart hammered against her rib cage, and holding it in her hand, she walked very slowly downstairs. Harry looked up at her.

“Harry,” she said in a distant voice. “Where’s the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room. You’ve been there, with Ron in second year.”

Harry managed to choke out words around his tears. He didn’t have the strength to protest. “It’s at the end of the corridor off from the potions room. A bare, damp stretch of wall.”

Ginny nodded slightly, and then in her pajamas, bare feet and still clutching tight on the note ran from the room.

She seemed to fly along the hallways, though the journey took forever. Tears poured down her face as she ran and all she could remember was Neville.

In her second, third and fourth years Neville had been her best friend. He had been the only one who hadn’t avoided her after finding out about her being taken by the ‘heir of Slytherin’. Others were sorry for her for weeks on end, until rumors began spreading and there were dark mutters of the truth. How people had found out she hadn’t known, but as it had just been a rumor she had neither confirmed nor denied it.

Neville hadn’t cared. He had sought her out and offered her his friendship, and she had gratefully accepted. In Herbology (which she was lousy at) he had patiently tutored her for weeks on end. Even in her fifth year, when Tara had arrived he had maintained a relationship with her, warm and caring. Of course, they had never dated. She had gone with him to the Yule Ball, and both had been extremely uncomfortable the whole time. They had agreed to just be friends.

Now, she realised she had been so caught up with Draco that she hadn’t noticed Neville. She cursed herself and hated herself bitterly. How could she have let this happen to him? She was meant to be his friend! And he had died.

Abruptly she found herself standing in front of the wall that Harry had described, and she realised that she didn’t know the password. She had no way of getting in. In her desperation however, she found the courage to pound at the wall with her bare hands and scream ‘let me in, let me in’ over and over.

The wall suddenly smoothly swung open on its hinges and Pansy Parkinson stood staring at her in disgust.

“What are you doing here?” she asked in disgust.

Ginny had already pushed past her and scanned the common room- it was empty and very green.

“Look, you’re not allowed in here-” Pansy began but Ginny brushed her comments aside.

“Where’s Draco’s dorm?” she asked, her tears now gone leaving only a pale, frightened face.

Pansy for the first time in her life showed a tiny bit of compassion. “Up there.” She pointed to a door set off from the usual staircase, and in her sorrow Ginny did not notice, nor care, that it was not part of the usual Boy’s Dormitory.

She ran up to it, and grabbed the handle, getting a scalded palm in return. The handle was white hot. She yelled aloud in surprise.

“Just ask to come in, Parkinson,” the amused voice drawled through the door. She heard an incantation being muttered and then the door burst open. Draco lay in his bed reading a book. It was a chamber with just one room.

“Ginny?” he asked with a slight frown on his face. Wordlessly, Ginny ran across the room and slipped under the cover, cuddling into his side. He flicked his wand and the door slammed shut, leaving a very confused Pansy Parkinson on the other side.

He looked down at her despairing face and immediately knew that this was no pleasure visit. Drawing her into his arms, he settled her comfortably and handed her the glass of water by his bedside. She drank from it gratefully.

“Now what’s wrong?” he murmured, stroking her hair.

She looked up at him and handed Draco the note, unable to speak. Draco read it and frowned confusedly down at her. “I don’t get it.”

She managed to choke out a few words. “Neville… he committed…. Oh God, Draco, he killed himself.”

Draco hissed as the enormity of the deed hit him in the chest. “Longbottom?” he whispered. Ginny nodded, and the dam finally broke. She wept and wept and wept into his chest, and Draco shook as he rocked her back and forth.

Eventually, Draco realised there were words among her sobs. “He was my friend,” she repeated over and over. “And I let him… die!”

He shook his head. “No Ginny,” he whispered. “It’s not your fault… It’s never one persons fault alone.” Ginny cried harder, and she clung to him.

His eyes stared blank and bewildered over her head. “I mocked him,” he whispered, half to himself. “It should have been me…”

Ginny did not stop crying until well after four in the morning. Then, she had nothing left to cry, so she stared up at Draco, only able to gulp, heaving in huge breaths. Finally, she murmured “Can I stay here?”

He pulled her close to him again and they lay side by side, rug pulled over for warmth. She fell asleep almost immediately and he followed close after her.

***

She woke feeling surprisingly peaceful; although this might have been had something to do with the fact that it seemed someone had spiked the punch, and over the events of last night lay a hazy cloud of alcohol. She groaned slightly and rubbed her forehead, recognizing the signs of a very bad hangover coming on. Her head began to pound- so much for a peaceful wakening.

She lay in the darkness and relief washed over her. It had all been a dream- an awful, terrible dream. And now she was in her very own bed in her own room and Neville was next door snoring (she could hear snoring) and it was all going to be okay.

However, this body lying next to hers was definitely not her dress, left on the bed last night. Daring to open her eyes and frowning a little at the light seeping in she was met with the wonderful, yet terrible, sight of Draco.

Then it was true. Everything, every moment of last night had really happened. She sat up slightly, the blankets falling off and exposing her bare shoulders to cold air. She didn’t shiver though- she stared off into space unable to come to terms with what had happened.

Last night she had cried, but she couldn’t cry now, much as she wanted to. Her mind seemed to be numb. She held up an unsteady hand and absentmindedly tried to smooth her hair into place. Bringing it away from her head she noticed that it was shaking.

She heard a slight mumble as the boy beside her stirred. Her eyes flickered to his slowly opening ones, then back to the wall. As he sat up, rubbing his head for a moment she stared past him and he too suddenly recalled the nights of before.

“Oh,” he said. The snoring from somewhere came loudly again.

“Please,” she whispered. “Please tell me that you- you came for a sleepover to the Gryffindor Girls Dormitory for some strange reason and that last night was just a bad dream. Please tell me that the snoring next door is Neville.”

He didn’t know what to say, so finally he just shook his head.

“Why’d he do that?” she asked faintly. “How can you hate life so much that you end it? I hated myself after the chamber, but I’m still here, aren’t I?”

Draco again shook his head. “But you had your friends, your family,” he finally managed to say. “Maybe he didn’t have anyone.”

“He had me. I’m angry at him- how could he be so selfish?”

“It’s not about selfishness,” he replied in a low voice. “It’s about a terrible weariness and sadness. I’ve seen it in his eyes this year… I should have known, should have guessed. I know the feeling.”

“I’ve seen it in your eyes,” Ginny said softly. She stared at him, bewildered. “You said something about it when we got back together. Please tell me you didn’t mean it. Tell me, Draco!”

He met her eyes, holding them with his. “I meant it,” he said quietly.

She shook her head. “No. No. I can’t lose two people.”

He watched her warily, and then finished his sentence. “I don’t mean it anymore.”

“Oh. But- but Neville’s really gone, isn’t he?”

Draco nodded slowly. “Yes.”

“Forever?” her eyes were blank.

“Depends what you believe in.”

Ginny suddenly remembered something. Her mind floated back to two years ago.

*Flashback*

She was running. Her feet were hitting the ground and then back into the air so quickly she imagined she was flying. Her heart hammered against her chest and she drew deep, rasping breaths. She heard the yells of the Death Eater behind her as he skidded around the corners. She went round them cutting close to the wall and he did not have her logical sense of running to help him so she was keeping ahead- just.

Her chest rose and fell quickly and she was slowing when she heard a louder yell than usual. She spun around and saw her pursuer on the ground, groaning and clutching his ankle. Not knowing that the same injury would follow her soon, Ginny grinned triumphantly, realizing he had broken his ankle.

Coming to her senses she sped around the corner, knowing she had to somehow get back to the school and warn the teachers. It had been complete foolishness to come without help. Maybe she could go to the Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix? Just as long as she brought back Dumbledore.

Rounding into a new room, Ginny realized she was standing near the archway that had so captivated Harry. Curiousness overcame her and promising herself that one quick look beyond couldn’t hurt, she walked up to the thin veil that fluttered in the eerie light.

Then she heard them. The whispered voices calling to her. They sounded sacred, almost holy though Ginny didn’t have a religious bone in her body. She was entranced and stepping closer she felt an overwhelming urge to step through the veil and join them. A voice broke her out of her trance.

“Well, Ginny Weasley, isn’t it?”

She turned around slowly. Standing with his mask pulled off and long platinum hair windswept was Lucius Malfoy.

Her mind was screaming at her to cast a curse or retort something rude or whatever- this is the man who put you in the hands of Tom, it reminded her. But the voices beyond the veil were so pretty- she couldn’t be rude to anyone.

“Hello,” she said dreamily.

“You can hear them, can’t you? You shouldn’t be able to, not having seen anyone die but I suppose a near death experience in the chamber would have been enough- not to mention being possessed by the Dark Lord.”

She smiled mistily at him.

“God, you’re far gone aren’t you? Ah well, makes my job easier I suppose. Ginevra, why don’t you just step past the veil? Join the pretty voices. It’ll be nice.” He sniggered a little. “You have the word of a Malfoy on that.”

She nodded slowly. He was right, this Lucius Malfoy. She didn’t know why Harry didn’t like him actually- he was so polite. So kind. And so clever, to think of such a good idea. She turned around.

“Ginny!” yelled a boy’s voice. She cocked her head to one side, but did not move. The voice was familiar. “Ginny, come down!”

“Get away, boy,” snarled the voice of Lucius, no longer smooth and polished.

“No! Ginny, come back! You’re not meant to go there!” she recognized him now. That boy, Neville. He was her friend. But so was Lucius, wasn’t he? She was confused.

“Why?” she managed to say in the same dreamy voice. “It’s nice there. I like it.” She bent her knees, preparing to leap.

“Ginny!” the voice was desperate now. “Ginny, it is made for the Dead. The Dead made it, and the Dead keep it.”

Somewhere in her mind, the words resounded in her ears. She turned around slowly, and something of the real Ginny flickered in her eyes.

“Tolkien,” she whispered.

Neville nodded, eyes shining. “Yes Gin. Tolkien. No Tolkien down there. Only fear and sadness and lost dreams. Don’t leave us here, Ginny. Not yet.”

Her eyes flickered once more and then thrust off the strange, dreamy Ginny that Lucius Malfoy had placed there. “Yes,” she said, her voice growing stronger. “Yes. I’m coming, Neville!”

Neville laughed aloud, but Lucius Malfoy was furious. “Stupid boy!” he yelled. “Ready to die, child?” He brought up his wand but suddenly found another wand pointing at his neck.

“Not yet,” Ginny hissed, teeth clenched.

“You don’t know what you’re dealing with girl,” Lucius spat.

“Oh, I think I do,” she replied sweetly. “A stupid, old man.” And with as much charm and politeness as she could muster, she petrified him.

*End Flashback*

Her eyes filled with shining tears. Draco saw them and drew her close. “What did you remember?” he asked gently. “I saw you go off into space.”

“Twice I’ve defied your father,” she whispered. “Twice. But never alone. He’s always stronger than me, Draco. Always. The first time Harry helped me and the second, Neville. When am I going to be able to fight for myself? When am I going to stop getting people in trouble?”

He shook his head, confused. “I don’t understand.”

“He must have heard the voices,” she whispered. “When I was at the veil and he saved me. He’d heard them before, he knew of them, but he must have heard the souls of his parents. Their souls died, when Bellatrix tortured them. It’s just their bodies left.” A single tear made it’s path down her cheek. “Nothing there but fear and sadness and lost dreams, Neville. No Tolkien.”

***

For the second time that week, Ginny heard ‘Walk On’ by U2 played. It was a very different occasion though and this time Ginny grieved rather than danced. The day of Neville’s funeral it had snowed and Ginny had woken with the heavy burden of grief and despair that seemed to rest constantly on her shoulders these days. She had woken with a sudden idea and running through the empty corridors (most students had gone home for the holidays, though many were returning today for the funeral) she made her way to Dumbledore’s office.

She had entered in bare feet with only her robes slung over her pajamas. Dumbledore had listened to her patiently.

“So tell me again why you think ah, Walk On was it? Yes, why should that be played as Neville’s coffin is carried to the graveyard?” He blinked hard as if trying to keep back tears.

Ginny hesitated. “It was the last time I saw him smile,” she murmured. “At that song during the ball.”

Dumbledore had nodded gravely and so it was that she was now standing in the second pew of a church in Hogsmeade. Draco had offered to stand with her, but she had gently declined. “It’s a Gryffindor’s funeral Draco,” she had whispered. “And I need to mourn him as a Gryffindor.” He had understood.

See all these people, Neville? She found herself thinking desperately, looking over the full chapel. They’re all here for you, Neville. Your grandmother’s here, your friends, your teachers. Even Snape looks morose. You could have talked to any of us, Neville! God, half of us are crying. I’m not though. I’m a cold hearted bitch, maybe, at any rate that’s what the people here are saying. But I can’t cry. I can’t believe you’re gone. I’ve brought you a lily, Neville. Of all the incredible plants you nurtured, they were always your favorites, weren’t they? God Neville, so many people! I can’t get over it. All for you. The only people who aren’t here are your parents. They weren’t allowed to come. I guess that’s it, isn’t it? I miss you, Neville. I’ll…

I’ll see you soon.


She watched the pall-bearers bring the coffin down the aisle and reaching over she placed a single, long stemmed white lily.



Chapter 12: Wish This Would Never End...
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Chapter Twelve: Wish This Would Never End…

Summary: No matter what she does... No matter how hard she tries... It will always be the things she loves about him that keep them apart




He found her sitting in the Astronomy Tower, looking down to the ground for the first time ever. She heard him approach and let him place his arms around her.

“Don’t fall,” he whispered.

“Neville fell,” she replied quietly. “Neville jumped. He didn’t use a spell or anything, just…” She stared down at the ground, so many meters below. “Jumped.”

Draco rested his head on her shoulder. “Ginny…” he began.

“I don’t understand, Draco. I want to live so badly, and I know I may die as a result of the inevitable! Neville had so much goodness that could have stepped into his life- why die when you don’t have to?”

“I don’t know.”

“He didn’t deserve to die!” she cried, tears welling in her eyes.

Draco gripped her by the shoulders and gently turned her around. “Ginny, please.” He thought desperately for something to say, to help her understand and when he finally did, a slight smile curved his lips. “Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?”

She laughed through her tears. “Tolkien,” she whispered. “I never thought a Slytherin would read muggle books.”

“Au contraire. I thought that perhaps, seeing as you don’t have Neville to quote with anymore, perhaps I would satisfy?”

She smiled sadly up at him. “Yes, you might.”

***

The Christmas holidays passed in a blur. What was meant to have been a ‘glorious romp’, just Ginny and Draco, had turned into a confusing, grief filled period of trying to come to terms with the fact that Neville was gone. It wasn’t just the fact that he was dead, but that he had done it himself made the despair all the more worse for Ginny.

Draco ached constantly for her- not her kisses, but the way he knew she was feeling. The way she wandered around the place like a little lost puppy frightened him, and many was the time he found her in the Astronomy Tower, gazing thoughtfully at the ground. It seemed to him that Ginevra Weasley was lost in her own mind, trapped and trying to find a way to escape. She went to Neville’s grave most days, and Draco always accompanied her.

At night she slept in the bed with him. The second night after Neville’s funeral she had tried sleeping in her own bed, but she had woken screaming with nightmares. It was entirely chaste. Draco held her in his arms, and let her cry herself to sleep as she did most nights.

In the last week, she became a little more herself. Ginny Weasley had grieved for Neville, and now she was doing exactly what she had done for Harry. She folded up all her emotions and placed them in a little box in the corner of her heart. But this time she did something she didn’t dare nor want to do with ‘Harry’s Box’; sometimes at night, she took them out and cried over them.

On the second to last day of the holidays, Draco woke with a feeling of heaviness on his heart. Ginny found him glowering at the ceiling in the way that she had come to realise meant he was thinking of his father.

“What’s happened?” she asked softly, this particular morning.

“It’s my birthday,” Draco said bitterly.

Ginny did not understand. In the Weasley house, birthdays were a celebrated thing, with desserts and favourite meals and presents. “Happy birthday then!” she smiled, kissing him softly on the lips.

His reply was short and to the point. “Huh.”

“Excuse me?” she said, fighting to keep the amusement out of her voice.

“It means,” he said slowly. “That I have to go see my father.”

“Oh,” she whispered, understanding dawning upon her.

“Yes. Every year I have to go, and every year he reminds me of the bloody prophecy.”

Ginny shivered. It was an unspoken rule between them that they did not mention the prophecy at any cost- for it frightened Ginny, and angered Draco. “Anything else?” she asked almost timidly.

“Yes, of course. I’m a bleedin’ Malfoy, aren’t I? There’s so much pompousness and ceremony that it would make old Fudge sick.”

Ginny smiled slightly again. “Your father makes a speech then?”

Draco rolled his eyes. “Naturally.” he stood on the bed and put on his best droning voice. “My son was born- and then whatever year old I am- years ago, and through this time I have watched him mature into a strong willed young man.” He paused. “He said, by the way that he had watched me mature into that when first when I was two. Anyway though… I believe that he is a true Malfoy, and I am proud to say that one day, it is possible that he will be a great leader.” Draco cleared his throat. “Of course, no one’s past is completely clean. Draco’s done his stint with GWA and now-”

“GWA?” Ginny interrupted curiously.

Draco smiled impishly at her, a rare expression on his face. “Ginevra Weasley Anonymous,” he explained solemnly. Ginny laughed out loud, the first time since Neville had died. Draco smirked.

“And now,” he continued. “I am pleased to present Draco with his birthday present. And then he’ll hand me a really boring book and a sack full of Galleons.”

Ginny smiled. “Sounds like fun,” she said sarcastically.

“Oh, indeed it is,” Draco said rather miserably, fun passing from his face. “Anyway, I’m to go over and visit at ten. And I’m expected to wear formal robes,” he added.

Ginny made a face. “Draco, is it possible that your father knows you own a pair of jeans?”

Draco shook his head. “Nor my mother. And if they did, they’d find them and burn them. Interfering old twits.”

Ginny watched him sadly. “You better go then. It’s half past nine. I’ll be in the Astronomy Tower all day, so you can find me there. Okay?”

“Fine,” he sighed. “Damn but I hate seeing my father. I’ll see you later, Ginny.”

“Yes,” she nodded. “Bye.”

***

At precisely ten am, Draco appeared in the fire of Malfoy Manor. His father was waiting for him in the same room. As predicted, he made his customary speech and handed Draco a musty looking book titled ‘A Wizards Guide to Pond Life’- forgetting that he had given his son the same book last year- and a good deal of money.

After once again reciting the prophecy, Lucius began to talk about something that Draco had not anticipated: marriage.

“It will have to be to someone it would be impossible for you to love,” Lucius mused. “So not Parkinson, as you two are friends. But it cannot be a mudblood, obviously, nor a half-blood. Who then?”

A slight hope leaped in Draco’s heart. “Father,” he began. “I agree with you. Much as I hate the idea, I must make a suggestion. What about the Weasley girl? She’s a pureblood, and she has a reasonably good body so she would be quite presentable for society. If of course-” he wrinkled his nose in false disdain. “We got rid of those rags she wears.”

“Absolutely not!” snapped the elder Malfoy. “She is a common blood-traitor, and I will not have such scum marry my son! No, I was thinking something more along the lines of… Millicent Bullstrode?”

“No,” said Draco, fury overcoming. “No way. I refuse to marry that… that pig!”

“So it’s true then!” hissed Lucius. “I heard rumors of it! You have been consorting with that Weasley girl! It is obvious- you refuse Bullstrode and yet actually dare to suggest Ginevra Weasley! You will not spend anymore time with her, Draco!”

“The hell I won’t!” yelled Draco furiously. “You control my life no longer, you hear me?” He grabbed a pinch of floo powder and threw it vehemently into the roaring fire. “Hogwarts castle!”

Feeling the fire whirl around him, Draco quickly found himself in a classroom quite close to the Astronomy Tower. Running the distance between the classroom and the tower, he found Ginny leaning on the wall opposite the window. Her eyes widened at the temper he was in and she opened her mouth to say something, but was quickly silenced by his lips over hers.

He pushed his tongue into her mouth and she gasped, feeling his body hard against hers. She had never been kissed with so much force and she would have cried had it been anyone save Draco. She could barely return the kiss, but she managed to move her tongue slightly, encouraging him.

Without taking his mouth away, Draco pulled her robe over her head, and then pulled off her shirt, leaving her in only her bra on the top half. Her lips felt like they were bruised, and she couldn’t decide whether she liked this rough Draco or not. She whimpered a little but then slowly took her mouth away from his and as he kissed her neck she pulled his robe off him.

They sank to the floor and only when Draco was actually lying on top of Ginny, only wearing his jeans (which had been under the dress robes) did Ginny finally come to her senses. “Draco,” she whispered. “Please… not here. Not now.”

He kissed her hard once more, and then filling her insistent hand pushing him off her sat up slowly. She suddenly realised how cold it was, and she pulled on the slightly torn sweater back on, watching as Draco just sat there, staring at the ground. She saw goosebumps pricking on his skin and gently, she pulled his shirt over his head for him.

“Well,” she finally whispered, feeling a little awkward. He looked up.

“I’m sorry, Ginny,” he whispered hoarsely. Tears welled in her eyes, and she moved to sit on his lap, arms going around him and being held just as safely in his arms.

“You frightened me,” she murmured honestly.

“I know. I was angry…”

“Its okay, Draco.” she snuggled into his chest, and realised all of a sudden that he was shaking.

She looked up at him and he met her gaze. For the first time his eyes did not look calm or stony or loving or sad, the only emotions she had ever seen in them. They looked as if they had been a smooth sea, and somebody had thrown a large rock into them. They seemed stormy.

“You’re shaking,” she whispered, heart breaking a little.

“I know,” he said, pulling her closer. “I’m scared.”

She stared at him, uncomprehending. Draco Malfoy did not get scared. Ever. Full stop. “Why?” she finally managed to say.

“I don’t want to fight in this war. I don’t want to die.”

She watched him carefully. “I don’t think anyone does,” she whispered.

“Nobody else is told they’re going to die early,” he said quietly. “Every year- every year, Ginny! Nobody else had to grow being perfect. I had to be everything he wanted. Calm, snobby, aristocratic, perfect, perfect, perfect!” His last words accumulated to a yell.

“I know, I know, Draco,” she cried softly into his top.

“I don’t want to be a younger version of my father anymore!” he despaired.

“Draco, you’re not. You-”

“How could you know! Draco do this, do that, don’t associate with them Draco, fetch me a cloth Draco!”

“Draco, you have to understan-”

“Draco, be good, be nice to them, they’re important!’

“Listen to me!” Ginny finally exploded. “I’ve been trying to tell you that you haven’t been like your father since… since you got Goyle off me. Not since then. Lucius Malfoy would have sat back and laughed.” He was staring over her head, so she took his face with two trembling hands and forced him to look down at her. “Draco Malfoy didn’t,” she finished in a whisper.

He stared at her blankly for a moment, and then nodded.

***

And so the Christmas holidays passed. Draco after skulking around for all of his birthday seemed to return to normal, though Ginny often caught sight of a hidden darkness in his eyes. She continued sleeping in his bed, which caused a confronting situation on the night the students returned.

Not feeling like greeting people, Draco and Ginny had returned early to his bed chamber and were lying in his bed, having an avid discussion about whether the muggle band Green Day (both had a passion for it) were rebelling just for the sake of rebelling or were actually trying to speak out against conformity. Draco had just made a particularly dry remark and Ginny was laughing when Pansy Parkinson yelled outside his dorm for him to let her in. Ginny shrank a little in the covers, and looked timidly up at Draco, who nodded reassuringly at her.

He reached for his wand and muttering the spell let the door swing open. Pansy took a few steps into the room and then blanched when she saw Ginny there.

“You still there, Weasley?” she sneered. “Have you two actually got out of bed since the beginning of the holidays? I suppose not, you would have been too busy sh-”

“Shut up, Parkinson,” Draco snapped tersely.

“Oooh, being protective of our girlfriend, are we? Haven’t you told her about your rep yet Draco?”

Ginny felt Draco stiffen besides her and she studied Pansy, a little confused. “What rep?” she asked bemusedly.

A cunning smile spread over Pansy’s features. “Ah, so he hasn’t told you yet. Well Draco, frankly I’m surprised at you… I never thought you would keep a girlfriend in the dark.”

“Shut up, Parkinson,” Draco repeated. Ginny felt a little fear creeping over her.

“What’s she talking about Draco?”

Pansy felt beautiful triumph come upon her. She was not an evil girl; on the contrary, she thought she was doing what was best for her friend. She was convinced that Lucius would kill the girl if he found out, and she knew how much hurt that would cause Draco.

Draco was glaring at Pansy and Ginny was suddenly cold in the bed, his warmth for once not comforting. She pulled away a little, so that they were not touching.

“Draco?”

“Oh dear, this is interesting,” Pansy sneered. “So you haven’t told her about any of the games you like to play at night Drakie dear?”

“Parkinson, please,” he whispered.

“Begging are we now, Draco?” she laughed. “That’s not a thing befitting a Malfoy.”

“What’s going on?” Ginny whispered uncertainly. “Draco, what’s she talking about?”

Draco shook his head, unable to answer. Pansy laughed cruelly. “Oh dear Weasel, have we got a sneaking suspicion that lover boy doesn’t just have a separate room to keep aloft from the boys?”

Ginny shook her head, eyes wide. “Draco, tell me she’s lying…”

“Lying!” Pansy scoffed. “Far from it! Rather I’m under-emphasizing it! Oh come on, Weasley, even you’re not that stupid. Repeat after me, shall we? Draco… is… rather… popular… with… the…ladies!” She laughed at the expression on Ginny’s face. “Ah, but you probably knew that, eh Weasley? Okay, let’s add this to the puzzle. And he doesn’t mind much!”

Ginny stared a little confusedly at Pansy for a moment, and then clapped a hand over her mouth as the reality of the statement hit her. “No,” she gasped. “Please, no!” She climbed out of the bed and stood shaking in the cold air.

She met Draco’s eyes and saw pain in them. Pansy knew she was on a homerun. “Who was it last, Draco dear?” she asked mock thoughtfully. “Ah, Daphne Greengrass wasn’t it? And before that… Was it Millicent? No, you were always too snobby for her, much as she tried.” She turned to Ginny with a cruel leer. “Of course, I never got to sample his goods either. He’s got this weird thing about doing it with friends… strange, eh?”

Ginny’s eyes brimmed with tears. “No!” she cried, before dashing out of the room. Pansy began to laugh.

Draco leapt out of the bed and grabbed his wand. “What the hell have you done, Parkinson!” he yelled. “I should curse you into oblivion! If I had time…. Ginny!” he called desperately, running after her.

Pansy smiled malevolently and picked up the book resting on his chest of drawers. Settling into the armchair, she prepared herself for a long wait. He would be back… and when he was, Pansy would be there.

***

Ginny quickly found her way to the Room of Requirement, and let herself in. Not bothering to take in her surroundings, Ginny shut the door and immediately collapsed into a little ball, shuddering with the power of her sobs. How could she have been so stupid! He must have been… ‘Playing around’ for months. Getting bored of hanging out with the pure, chaste little Ginny Weasley no doubt. She buried her face in her arms.

“Er, Ginny?”

Looking up at the sound of the familiar voice, Ginny met with the concerned eyes of Harry Potter. Forgetting at once all about her recent disputes with him, she all but fell into his arms. At that moment, what she needed more than anything was a friend, and Harry was prepared to be that for her. She cried and cried into the front of his robes, feeling his arms tight around her, rocking her back and forth on the chair he had somehow got to.

“Gin… what’s wrong?”

Through her tears and sniffs, Harry managed to distinguish a few coherent words. “Draco… sleeping with…. other girls!” He stiffened for a moment, fury rushing into his bones at the fact that Malfoy dared make Ginny unhappy like this.

He knew what Ginny was like. He knew that once she put her loyalty in someone, she held it faithfully there forever. He knew that in some ways she was like a little girl; utterly willing to trust the person, not doubting them at all. To so cruelly have her hopes dashed in Draco as it seemed had happened probably hurt almost as much as Neville dying.

“Hey Gin,” he whispered soothingly. “Hey Gin, it’ll be alright.” Repeating the words over and over again until they blurred into one, Harry wondered at what she had told him. Despite his own hatred of Draco, he had always thought that the boy was head over heels for Ginny. He had never seen anyone fall so hard, save perhaps Ron for Hermione. This confused him.

At that moment, there was a slight click as the door was pushed open. Standing with a half-smile on his face at the doorway was Draco. He swiftly took in the scene, and Ginny looked up, wiping the tears away with the back of her hand.

“Oh,” he said quietly. “I um… I came to tell you it wasn’t true Ginny. I guess- I guess I needn’t have bothered.”

He turned and left the room, closing the door behind him. Ginny stared at the place where he had been, realizing what a dreadful mistake she had made.


Authors Note:

A few things -

One, I am terribly, terribly sorry for the long wait. I have become one of those authors I always hated - the ones that never update!

Two, you may have noticed that this chapter includes the summary. I'm rather proud of my summaries, so they're all in the chapters if you want to go back and have a look.

Finally, I have finished this story on Word! It is seventeen chapters altogether, plus an epilogue. We're almost there!


Chapter 13: Quiet Dreaming and Confrontations
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Summary:She made her bed - but will she lie in it?

Pansy Parkinson was worried. Draco hadn’t emerged from his room since the night she had tried to ‘bring him back to the real world’, as she had so tactfully labeled it in her mind. She had tried knocking on his door, but he completely ignored her. Often she heard strains of music emitting from the crack under the door. Always the same song. ‘Walk On’, by U2. Every morning, she saw the same barn owl fly to his room. It returned that evening, and probably several times during the day. It always, she noted, went back empty handed.

After a few days, Pansy realised that she might not have been going about in the right way to break them up. Of course, something else must have happened; otherwise Draco would be out trying to win the Weasley girl back instead of skulking in her room. And Ginny Weasley’s pale, pinched face on the few occasions that her friends managed to drag her down for a meal confirmed the fact.

Pansy was growing nervous. Countless occasions she brought food on a tray and left it outside his door, knocking and walking away, but always when she returned it was still there- untouched. She didn’t know what he was surviving on but it obviously wasn’t much.

One day, Pansy realised she was going to have to swallow her pride. She walked very stiffly up to the Golden Trio during a Potions lesson, and asked rather haughtily where she would find ‘the Weasley girl’. After shocked looks, and a whispered argument she got her answer: Ginevra Weasley spent most of her time these days in the Astronomy Tower.

It was cold, the night she ventured up there. Ginny was leaning on the sill, quill scribbling away on a piece of parchment, tears streaking down her face. Pansy stood awkwardly for a moment, then cleared her throat. Ginny jumped in surprise.

When she saw who it was, her face fell. Pansy didn’t know who she had been expecting- no, that was a lie. Of course she had.

“What do you want,” Ginny said wearily.

“I- I want to apologize.”

Ginny glared coldly at her. “I think it’s fair to say that we two share the blame in this affair.”

Pansy plowed on, courageously risking the infamous Weasley temper. “I- I lied. That stuff I said, it wasn’t true. He hasn’t done anything like that all year, ‘part from you I suppose.”

“I worked that one out,” Ginny snapped.

“And I- I want to help.”

“I think you’ve helped enough.”

“You don’t understand, Weasley!” Pansy cried desperately. “He hasn’t come out of his room for three days. He won’t eat. He won’t go to lessons. He won’t even speak to me. I know what you two can do. I know about the Mind Talking thing. He told me… before… before….”

“Before you stuffed things up,” Ginny supplemented grimly.

Pansy had the decency to look ashamed. “Yeah. But what I want to know is have you tried- and if you haven’t, why bloody not?”

Ginny sighed. “This is where you don’t understand, Parkinson. It’s an incredibly private thing. I often accidentally see thoughts, images, memories. I don’t want to intrude.” She looked down miserably. “I don’t have the right to anymore.”

Pansy shook her head. “You’ve got to try!”

“Listen Parkinson,” snapped Ginny. “I betrayed him. I wasn’t thinking straight. He deserves the right to be as furious as he wants with me. I’m- I’m going to keep on writing letters to him.”

“He burns them,” Pansy said hotly. “Every morning, in the Common Room fireplace there are charred remains of envelopes, letters. You catch a word every now and again- ‘Draco, please listen to me, Ginny’. He burns them all.”

Ginny felt a lump rise in her throat. “All of them?” she whispered in a timid voice.

Pansy nodded tiredly. “It doesn’t look like he even opened them.”

Ginny closed her eyes for a moment, and then opened them. Determinedness lined every aspect of her face. “I can’t talk to him in his mind,” she said decidedly. “But I can and will go to his room. Take me now, Parkinson.”

Pansy hesitated for a moment, and then nodded.

***

Fifteen minutes later saw the unlikely pair standing in front of his door.

“I don’t know the spell to open it,” Pansy told her.

“No,” Ginny said grimly. “But I do. Celorium Abscond!” The door popped open, Pansy made a hasty retreat and a pale face turned to Ginny.

Draco’s mind was reeling. His face registered shock and then loneliness and sorrow, with a final tight anger settling in his eyes. “Get out,” he hissed. “Get out.”

Ginny with an effort kept back tears. A part of her said it would be unfair to cry; she had no right to. It was her fault. “Please listen to me,” she whispered. “You haven’t turned up to the meeting we were meant to have, you don’t ever come out. This is the only way I can talk to you. Please, listen to me,” she repeated.

“Get out of my room, Weasley,” he snapped, turning away from her

“Oh,” she said, half-laughing through the tears that had unwilling spilled over her cheeks. “I’m Weasley again now, is that so?”

Draco turned back to her. “I’m so sorry, Ginevra,” he sneered, voice thick with sarcasm. “Of course, this must be all my fault, again. Please, take me back! I don’t care that you’re off snogging Potter at every opportunity! I don’t care that you obviously don’t know me enough because you actually believed what Parkinson said! I don’t give a damn to the idea that I’m just a plaything for the side! I was wrong- please, take me back!” He turned his back on her again contemptuously.

“Don’t talk like that,” she whispered.

“Get out of my room.”

“I love you.”

“No, you love bloody Scarhead. Get out of my room.”

“You know that’s not true.”

“How? How do I know?” he yelled, turning on her. “How am I supposed to stand a chance against the mighty Angel of Hogwarts, tell me that!”

“I love you,” she repeated.

No you don’t. You don’t have a clue to what the thing is. It’s just something to say, for you.”

“That’s not true,” she cried. “It’s not true!”

“Then why,” he said slowly. “Why were you sitting on his lap?”

“It was a mistake,” she sobbed. “He was just a friend to me!”

“Yes, I’m sure his intentions were purely honorable- as were yours, no doubt!”

“Draco, I swear I’m telling the truth.”

“Get out.”

She saw that the trip was worthless. “Will you still come to the practice tomorrow night?”

“We’re not practicing with Potter and his minions till Tuesday.”

We organized one, Draco. You and me. From seven until nine.”

“Of course. Joy, I get to spend two hours with a Weasel.”

Hurt pricked at her heart. “I should leave.”

“You should never have come.”

“How else could I have told you what I feel?” she cried. “You burn all my letters.”

He didn’t question how she knew. He didn’t seem to care, she realised. Not about anything. It scared her- she hadn’t seen such indifference in his eyes for a long time. He sat down heavily on the bed, ignoring her. She went to leave- and then turned at the door.

“Do you miss me at all?”

He faced her, and for the first time met her eyes. This time, he spoke more gently, and the quiet sadness in his voice was apparent. “Go away, Ginny.”

She nodded, and slipped quietly out of the room, shutting the door as she left. Pansy looked up questioningly at her, and Ginny shook her head, gritting her teeth to keep back tears.

***

Draco Malfoy appeared at breakfast that morning, somewhat colder and more distant but apart from that the same as he’d ever been. He didn’t glance in Ginny’s direction once. Pansy dared to ask why he had returned to school. His reply was bored and drawling; as it had once always been, before Ginny.

“Like I give a crap about any girl.”

Pansy raised an eyebrow but did not broach the subject again. Ginny, who had been watching him froze at the look of cold disdain he sent her way, and then turned crimson, tears threatening to escape her eyes. Draco leaned over and whispered something to Blaise who choked on his drink and banged the table, roaring with laughter. Ginny rose from the table with as much dignity as she had left. Hermione uttered her name, distressed for her friend, but Ginny shook her head and at a fast walk left the hall. Draco immediately received reproachful glares from both Hermione and Pansy, but he managed to ignore both, a sly smile on his face.

Ginny upon leaving the hall ran up the stairs, searching for a safe nook or cranny to hide herself in. Deciding to skip lessons for the day, she created a comforting room in the Room of Requirement and lay face down on a couch, crying.

“Can’t he see? Can’t he see?” she repeated the words under her breath, over and over again, trying to create some sort of monotony in which to bury her feelings. She looked up eventually, hours later, with red eyes and a tired expression. She hadn’t been sleeping very well.

She went to the bookshelf and slid out a novel; a muggle story called ‘How I Live Now’. She read about ten pages, and then had to put it down, crying, because Edmund reminded her of Draco. She wondered how one stupid mistake could cause so much pain and hurt to two people.

Ginny stared at the ceiling, eyes blank now, devoid of emotion. She felt as if her heart was splitting, slowly being cleaved in two. She knew that she had caused him as much hurt- if not more- and yet she couldn’t understand how he refused to even talk to her. She thought that if she had been in his place, she would have at least listened- got his story.

Of course, Ginny often forgot things about Draco Malfoy; the main thing being his last name, and his house. His pride stopped him from listening to her; his fury at Potter was another factor.

She rubbed her eyes, tired. She needed something to occupy her; anything would be welcome, just to get her mind off him. She looked desperately around the room, and her eyes lit upon a wooden case.

Her heart skipped a beat as she recognized it immediately. She stood up, and cautiously made her way across the room to it. As she touched it, wiping away a thin line of dust it clicked open, and she gazed upon the shiny wood of a cello.

With reverent hands, she took the huge instrument out and took the bow lightly in her fingers as well. Hefting them over to a chair, perfect for her height she sat down and experimentally ran the bow over the strings, automatically playing a chord.

It was perfectly in tune.

Ginny’s fingers shook a little, and she recalled her vow, made so many years ago.

*Flashback*

Ginny’s eyes brimmed with tears as she hoisted her friend up into the attic. For the cello was her friend; so many years had she played it- ten now, and she was finally saying goodbye. She ran the reasons through her head again, searching for a way, any way, that she could continue playing it without feeling guilty.

But it was no good. She could not play music and be part of a war; she must dedicate all of herself to the one or the other. Her heart broke to do it, but she knew that fighting against evil was more important than making a little music.

*End Flashback*

Now she wondered at her choice. Could not, she wondered, a little music bring light to the dark life she was living? And it certainly wouldn’t hurt to play just one little piece- would it?

As if they had made the decision already, Ginny felt her fingers dance up and down the strings, the bow creating a mournful noise, telling all of her sadness and guilt about what she had done to Draco.

Her cheeks were wet with tears, though she did not know she was crying. Her body curved around the cello, playing with it and the cello and her body were one together; one instrument, one song. Her heart and soul poured into the music.

The piece quickened, and her music told of the strange feeling she found when she began to realise that Draco Malfoy wasn’t such a bad person all. It moved on, deep and beautiful as she told of the love that had grown between the two.

Then, sweet and poignant she played of finding out the prophecy- of the heartbreaking knowledge that you had to give up the person you loved most to save them. Then the uplifting song of the getting back together came, and Ginny’s face smiled, though she was not aware of anything apart from the piece she played.

She made the song up as she went along, telling her story to anyone who could hear; anyone who cared. Alternately she laughed and cried, and the song lifted some of the sorrow from her heart. When she played a long stanza about Neville, she wept so much that the old instrument rocked, and it created a moving song.

Finally the song began to cease, and she played a low, bitter verse of her betrayal, and of the sorrow and guilt that wracked her now. With a final long note, the song ended, Ginny wiped the streaming tears away with the back of her hand, and looked up to meet with the sight of the face of Draco Malfoy.

Her breath caught. He was not watching her; his eyes were closed and he looked almost peaceful. She laid down her bow and cello carefully, as not to disturb him and checked the time. It was ten past seven. The slight clatter of the instrument made his eyes flick open and he studied her carefully.

“I didn’t know you could play that,” he said quietly.

“I- I couldn’t,” she whispered. “I mean, I could but I gave it up… years ago.”

“Why?”

“I- I decided that I didn’t have time to concentrate on two things. When I joined the DA, I gave my all to the war.”

“That was stupid,” his voice wasn’t at all harsh, it was level and she couldn’t tell the emotions behind it.

“I suppose,” she said shakily. “Looking at it now…” she stroked the cello with a loving hand.

“What were you playing?”

“I… made it up as I went along.”

His eyes registered a hint of surprise. “What’s it called?”

“Can’t you guess, Draco?” She whispered, a hint of desperation in her voice.

His eyes flickered with anger. “No,” he said flatly. “I haven’t got the faintest clue. But we should practice.”

Her eyes darkened. “Yes.”

And they did. They did nothing more, and Ginny spoke not a word to him when she could help it. They practiced the charms Dumbledore had taught them last, and it seemed to Ginny that his were stronger than usual; his Patronus stepped up to her and was about to nuzzle her, when she saw Draco go stiff and instead, the Thestral glared at her, before melting away.

Draco’s eyes frightened her. It was hard to tell, because he refused to meet her eye but from the glances she got, they seemed hollow and empty. He was rude and cold to her, and it seemed he had retreated into the perfectly created Slytherin mask he had worn for so long. Her lip had a little blood after an hour or so, for she chewed it constantly.

The second hour passed, and Draco turned to leave, not even bothering with a goodbye. He was about to step out the door when it slammed shut, missing him by half an inch. He turned angrily and met with the sight of Ginny Weasley, hair cascading down her shoulders, fiery eyes directed straight at him, her mouth lifted slightly in determination.

“Open the door,” he said in a steady voice.

“Quite a while ago,” Ginny answered, ignoring his command. “Upon your request, I let you have a ‘word’ with me. Now, it’s my turn.”


Chapter 14: Aurora Malfoy
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary:Sometimes, what motivates someone to fight is the Darkest thing of all...

Draco glared at her. “Sod off, Weasley. Open the door.”

“Am I supposed to do both at the same time?”

“Preferably.” Draco frowned slightly when he realised he’d easily slipped back into the pattern of flirting. “Open the door now, Weasley, before I make you.”

“Believe me, I’m terrified,” she replied dryly. “If you remember, I know all of the spells you do, including the counter curses.”

“I wouldn’t say all of them,” he hissed.

She shrugged. “That’s not the point.”

“I’m making it the frigging point!”

“Manners, Draco,” she drawled.

“Let me out.” he repeated, glaring at her.

“No.” She sat down on the couch and pulled out a book, while Draco turned furiously to the door, hurling curses at it. He tried every spell he knew, while Ginny read, glancing up now and again from her book. Finally, he turned to her, shoulders sagging.

She looked up. “Are you ready to listen now?” she murmured.

He leaned against the wall and scowled at her. “No,” he muttered. “But it doesn’t seem like I have a choice.”

She smiled at him, and then walked over to him. She tilted his head down to look at her- he brushed her fingers away impatiently. “You love me,” she whispered, holding his gaze.

He shivered slightly, and looked over the top of her head. Red curls obstructed his view, dancing in the slight breeze. “No,” he murmured finally. “I hate you.”

She pressed her lips to his gently. He did not return the kiss, just stared over her shoulder. “You love me,” she repeated.

He pushed her away, and strode across to the other side of the room, back to her, arms folded.

“Draco, why won’t you give me another chance?” she cried desperately.

“You don’t deserve one! How am I supposed to compete against him Ginny?” He turned on her, eyes blazing. “How can I possibly compete against the saint of Hogwarts, tell me that! If you’ve got the answers to fucking everything answer that simple question!”

She shook her head. “It’s not like that, Draco-”

“Bullshit!” he yelled. “How is not like that? When was I anything more to you, Ginny, ever?”

“How can you say that!” she replied hotly. “You know you mean so much more to me!”

“Do you know anything about me, Ginevra?” he shouted furiously. “Do you know a single fucking thing?”

“Of course I do!” she yelled. “Of course I bloody do!”

“Oh yeah? Tell me then, Ginny! Why am I fighting against Voldemort when all of my frigging family is for him?”

Tears welled in Ginny’s eyes. “For me?” she whispered.
He glared at her. “I told you, I said that I’ve been on Saint Bloody Potter’s side forever! I didn’t even talk to you properly until this year! Why, Ginny? If you know so much about me, tell me why!”

“I don’t know,” she murmured miserably.

“Exactly!” he shouted. “And tell me, Ginny, why do I have a room separate from the rest of the boys?”

“I don’t know,” she cried.

“And why do I hate my father so much?”

“I… don’t know.”

“You don’t know a thing about me then.”

He turned away from her, and Ginny miserably dashed away her tears, trying to stop the flow of salty water. He sat down heavily on the couch which conveniently had its back to her.

She stared hopelessly at it for a moment. There was a terribly long silence, filled with anger and sorrow, and Ginny could see his head, resting in his hands.

“Draco?” she whispered finally. He didn’t move, didn’t indicate that he’d heard- but she knew he had. “When- when you’re happy, you smile with your eyes. And- and when you’re dreaming something good, your arm goes under your head and you lie practically spread eagled on the bed.” Her voice grew a little stronger. “When you’re amused by me, your eyes lighten, and when you’re about to kiss me they go all dark. If I mention Harry or Ron or Hermione at all, you go all stiff but if I make fun of them you get this gleam in your eyes, and you bare your teeth a little.”

He turned around slightly, and met her eyes and she continued, but her voice cracked a little. “When you’re thinking or dreaming about your father, your arm wraps around your belly and you curl into a ball. When you’re mad or annoyed your eyes are emotionless. When you are all defensive you start snapping and you back away a little.”
He stood up and walked towards her. “How do you know that?” his voice was calm, bordering on bored even, but his eyes betrayed him.

“I love you,” she whispered. “I love you so much that when I’m away from you, I feel empty. I get nightmares when I’m not in your bed. I get lonely even if I’m surrounded by people if you’re not there.”

“My life is too different from yours.”

So different,” she insisted. “But not too different. I like difference. Normality is boring.”

“I know. I just… I just don’t want things to be complicated in my life for once. I want to be able to go out with who I want and Ron not to care.” Ginny looked down, and Hermione smiled gently at her.

She remembered the incident- now she realised she didn’t want things to be simple, and there was no way they were ever going to be. “Harry was in the room of requirement when I ran in,” she told him quietly. “He hugged me and comforted me. It was as if he was Hermione or my brother. He never touched me in any other way- he’s dating Luna Lovegood, and I wouldn’t have let him anyway.”

Draco looked up, startled. His eyes met hers, searching for the truth. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Her lips curved into a slight smile. “You wouldn’t let me.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Draco…”

“Yes?”

“The incantation to get out of the room is Colloportus.”

A smile twitched at his lips, but he didn’t smile properly. “I forgot about that one.”

“So I saw.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. You’ll be going now then?”

“Yes. I suppose so.”

Ginny nodded, not trusting her voice. She willed herself not to cry again.

“Well,” he said hoarsely.

“Draco, I really am sorry. I never meant to hurt you,” she whispered.

He hesitated, and then nodded. “I know.”

She bit her lip and they stared at each other for a moment. Then Ginny swore slightly and ran to him. He took her in his arms and they kissed, lips fusing together, both rejoicing in the closeness of the other again. Ginny was crying; he could taste her salty tears but he knew they were not ones of sorrow.

***

Professor Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall were in serious discussion.

“Are you sure there is a warrant for his capture?” Dumbledore asked, studying the woman before him carefully.

“I’m positive. The Ministry decreed him a Death Eater this morning- the problem is finding him.”

“He would be at Malfoy Manor.”

“Yes, obviously, Albus,” Minerva exclaimed, exasperated. “But we don’t have a search warrant and to thoroughly search that house from top to bottom- including false bottoms, and tops for that matter- would take weeks. We need to know where he is now.”

“There is one other thing which needs attending to.”

“What’s that?”

Albus frowned. “We have to make sure that Malfoy Manor passes to Draco, and not Narcissa. I am confident that we will find Lucius but Narcissa is a worry. I love her dearly of course, her being my god-daughter but the fact is that she must not have control of the Manor. I’m not sure if she can be trusted.”

“But how Albus? Lucius will stop the boy from getting it as hard as he can. And how can Draco be motivated to fight for it? From his experiences there, I don’t doubt he hates the place.”

Dumbledore leaned forward, eyes sad. “There is only one way.”

Minerva stared confused at him for a moment, and then she gasped at her hand flew up to her mouth. “Oh no, Albus! It is too cruel.”

“He has to find out one day.”

Unwillingly, Minerva’s eyes filled with tears. “But Albus… He is so young.”

“I have complete faith in him.”

“Oh I know you do but… Let’s face it Albus, he hasn’t exactly been an exemplary student. I mean, he does well in his studies but he’s a bully and a Slytherin!”

“I would never have thought you were prejudiced, Minerva,” and despite the seriousness, Albus’s mouth twitched. “And I believe that if you had perhaps watched the young man in question, you would find out a bit more. Have you not seen him around Ginevra Weasley?”

Minerva nodded and her face softened. “Of course. Of course. I don’t like it Albus- but if you see fit I suppose we must.”

Albus nodded gravely. “I do. Bring him here, Minerva.” She turned to leave, but he called her back momentarily. “Oh and Minerva- do not refuse to let Ginny come. It will only make him sullen.”

***

Half an hour later saw Ginny and Draco sitting before Dumbledore, looking very confused. He had just explained about Lucius’s warrant (Draco had appeared unduly gleeful at it) and had also told Draco that he wanted him to take control of the Manor.

“With all due respect sir,” Draco replied mildly. “My mother can have it. I don’t like the Manor- I was planning to move out of it at the end of this year anyway.”

“I understand,” Dumbledore said, picking his words carefully. “But I think you should take control of it- for the sake of your mother.”

Draco’s face hardened. “I don’t give a shit about my mother,” he sneered, not bothering to control his language.

“But you might,” the Headmaster answered wearily. “If you knew who she was.”

Draco stiffened, and Ginny drew a breath. “What do you mean?” he asked warily.

“I am going to tell you the truth about your parentage, Draco. Your mother is not Narcissa Malfoy. Your mother died at your birth.” He wisely left out the part about the prophecy.

Draco stood up with such force that the chair fell over- he was breathing fast and shallowly. “You liar,” he said vehemently. “You damned liar.”

“I speak the truth.”

Draco shook his head. “So my life has been a lie then. MY WHOLE FUCKING LIFE!”

“Please listen to me-” Dumbledore began.

“The hell I will!” he yelled. “Shut the hell up and leave me alone!”

Draco stormed out of the room and Ginny, only giving the Headmaster a worried glance ran out after him.

***

Ginny found Draco in the Room of Requirement, shivering uncontrollably. He stared at her with blank eyes. “Don’t look at me like that Draco, please don’t,” she whimpered.

“Narcissa’s not my mother,” he said in a horrible flat voice. “I don’t know who my mother is.”

“Maybe you should write to her,” Ginny whispered.

Anger flared in his eyes and she welcomed it; anything was better than the dull, expressionless Draco. “The hell I will,” he spat. “I’m going over there right bleedin’ now!”

She glared at him. “Don’t be an idiot Draco! If your father’s there, he’ll kill you!”

“Like hell!” he yelled. “I’m going over there to find out who my mum is!”

He used the word ‘mum’ unthinkingly, and Ginny felt rage rear an ugly head inside her. She couldn’t even imagine what growing up with a cold, emotionless woman in replacement for a mother could be like. How dare Lucius Malfoy have kept it from his son?

While she had been thinking, Draco had hastily pulled on a cloak and grabbed his wand. When she looked back at him, he was about to Floo.

“Half a second,” she said suddenly, pulling on her cloak and gripping her wand. “Shall we Floo together or one at a time?”

He shook his head. “No. You’re not coming.”

“Shut up. You’re going to need back up,” Ginny snapped tersely.

“I said no.”

She looked at him. “Draco, what can he do to me? It’s two against one. He can hurt us but not defeat us.”

Draco met her eye and she saw fear there. A shudder went through her, chilling her to the bone. “How many times has he hit you, Draco?” she whispered, suddenly
understanding. “Broken your bones, even? How many times?” Tears welled in her eyes.

“Not now, Ginny. Afterwards, I promise I’ll tell you everything then. But now we have to…” he didn’t finish his sentence; he didn’t need to. He grabbed a handful of Floo powder and taking Ginny’s hand stepped into the fire. They yelled ‘Malfoy Manor’ unanimously.

They clung to each other, spinning round and round. Her hair blew into his eyes- he could smell her scent and it comforted him for a second. Then they were pushed out into a silent and empty room.

Draco let go of her hand and stepped out. Ginny stared at the ornate carpeting, beautiful furniture and ornaments with wide eyes. She had no doubt that if the entire contents of this room were sold it would buy her entire house thrice over.
“Father!” Draco’s shout echoed and in a matter of seconds Narcissa Malfoy glided into the room. Ginny surveyed the woman in quiet awe. She felt acutely aware of her shabby outfit, untidy hair and chewed nails beside the tall elegant woman.

“Draco,” Narcissa said silkily. “What a… surprise, for sure. But who’s this you’ve brought?” Ginny stepped forward and glowered at the woman, defiance all over her ashy face.
Narcissa’s lip curled. “Is that a Weasley?” Ginny nodded coldly. A sneer transformed Narcissa’s beautiful face. “Oh, I see. It’s the Weasley. What bad company you’ve sunk to, Draco.”

“Where’s my father?” Draco demanded quietly, his voice cold and clipped.

“He’s at a… meeting, if you know what I mean.”

“Then I shall need the key to his study.”

“There’s only one key, surely you know that. And your father keeps it constantly with him.”

“Pity, I hoped to avoid a bother, but I’ll have to break in.”

Narcissa glared at him. “I forbid you from it.”

“And I don’t give a shit to what you forbid me from.”

“How dare you speak to me- your own mother- like that!” Ginny winced.

“I would never speak to my mother like that!” yelled Draco.
Narcissa opened her mouth and then shut it. She sank down on a chair and put her head in her hands. It was a strange scene; the tall, angry boy towering above the somehow frail looking black haired woman. Ginny felt she didn’t belong- it was a painting that she was not meant to be in. Finally, Narcissa spoke.

“I shall have to alert your father, you know.”

“I don’t care,” Draco replied icily.

“First, however, I am going to go downstairs and make myself a coffee, using the new expensive magical maker that takes about half an hour. Then I’m going to finish the job I was going; sorting the photographs. Actually, Lucius will be back in about half an hour so I may as well just wait for him to arrive.” She stood and drifted out of the room. “In fact,” she called back dreamily. “I think I’ve forgotten all about your arriving.”

Draco and Ginny stared at each other. Then, Draco grabbed her hand and led her out of the room by another door, shouting “This way!”

They ran along countless passages, often past portraits of elder Malfoy’s who glared and muttered. Finally, the pair stood outside a solid oak door. Ginny reached a tentative hand out and immediately got a burnt hand. She blew on it; swearing under her breath.

Draco however seemed very pleased. “Typical,” he snorted. “Invents a charm that no one can break through and then teaches the charm and counter curse to me.”

Again he muttered the incantation that opened his door and with a soft click the door swung open.

Draco rushed through the door, Ginny following. He turned to her.

“Right,” he said, breathless. “You sort through that filing cabinet and I’ll do this one.” She nodded and knelt down in front of the cabinet he had pointed out. “And Ginny?”

She turned back to him. “Yeah?”

“If you find anything incriminating, copy it.” She noticed weariness in his eyes, and wondered what it would be like to know you have to betray your own father. Not like he ever was much of a father, she reminded herself.

“Are you sure?”

His eyes hardened. “Positive.”

She nodded, giving him a warm smile. Then turning back around she pulled open the draw and began shuffling through the files. Whenever she found a file marked ‘confidential’ (often there was an imprint of the Dark Mark on it too- it made her shudder) she whispered “Repaté,” and placed the duplicate in a bag Draco had found.

The ‘Repaté’ spell was very popular among the Hogwarts students. It created a copy of any sort of paper, including cardboard and sometimes a thin layer of wood, without harming the original. It was used for researching, projects and (most commonly) plagiarism. It was now common for teachers to test and see if the ‘Repaté’ spell had been used when marking.

Ginny was in the last draw of her cabinet when she heard a slight mutter from Draco. She couldn’t distinguish what he had said, but when she looked over at him, the expression on his face told her everything.

She walked to his side and looked at the folder he held. It was labeled simply: Draconis. “I hate my name,” he mumbled absent mindedly. Ginny studied the plain manila folder almost fearfully.

“Are you going to open it?” she murmured. He nodded and with a slightly shaky hand opened the folder. The first page was a thick sheet of parchment with carefully sketched ink lines. A name leapt out at her: Draconis Malfoy. She surveyed it confused for a moment and then understanding hit her. It was a family tree. And the line that led off to Draco’s name had two names above it. One was predictably ‘Lucius Malfoy’, and the other was ‘Aurora Malfoy, neé Lestrange.’

Draco took a deep shuddering breath and turned the page. There was his birth certificate, and again, the name “Aurora” on the dotted line with ‘Paternal Mother’ written in bold letters before it. He turned the page and there lay a photo. With trembling fingers, he slipped it out and laid the folder on a desk, where Ginny made a duplicate, knowing Draco would want to keep the original photo. Then she looked at the photo that Draco was handling with such reverence.

Aurora Malfoy was without a doubt the most beautiful woman Ginny had ever seen. She had long blonde hair and a slender, tall figure. She looked (as Ginny had once heard somewhere) like a female Draco Malfoy. In fact the only thing the two differed in were the feminine features and the eyes.
Aurora had warm, forget-me-not blue eyes. Her smile was somewhat melancholy, and she gave Ginny the impression of someone who had forgotten to be happy. There was a slight bulge in her stomach, and her hands rested on it.

Ginny looked at Draco and her heart almost broke. She had never seen him looking so alone. He finally wrenched his eyes away from the photo and looked weakly at Ginny.

“Oh God Draco,” she whispered. Her hands fluttered nervously and she picked up the folder, sifting through it to give her hands something to do, her eyes something to look at beside the lost looking boy beside her.

“I’m going to find my mother,” he said slowly.

Ginny shook her head and a tear slid down her cheek. “No,” she whispered, and hating herself all the time she handed him a sheet of paper. It was Aurora Malfoy’s death certificate.

Draco took it and scanned it. “Reason for death,” he read out hoarsely. “Childbirth.” He stared at it for a moment longer and then slipped it back into the folder.

“She didn’t die of childbirth,” came the cold voice of Lucius. “I lied about that. There was no Gypsy fortune teller, boy. Your mother made the prophecy- she was a Seer. She died from the strain of it.”

“You lied to me,” Draco hissed. “All these years have been a lie!”

Lucius yawned. “Get over it. Now I’m afraid I’m going to have
to kill you both. And I hate to disappoint, but I’m not going to do that cliché thing of telling you all my plans.”

“There’s no need,” Ginny spoke up angrily. “We already know them.”

Draco groaned. “Bad idea,” he muttered out of the corner of his mouth. “My father doesn’t appreciate bravado.”

“I don’t give a damn,” Ginny whispered hotly.

“Unwise, Ginevra, unwise,” smiled Lucius. Ginny truly hated this man, she realised. There were very few people who commanded her hatred- of course she disliked many people intensely but actually hate? Such a strong emotion- she didn’t like to use the word lightly. At the beginning of the year it had been three people she hated; now it was only two.

“We’re going now,” Draco remarked casually, as if hoping to get away without a fight.

Lucius laughed coldly. “No, you’re not. Laedo V-”

“Expelliarmus!” Ginny cried, interrupting. Lucius immediately folded his arms and (tucking his wand under one arm) let the spell drive him back a few meters.

After that, the spells rained thick upon them. Lucius did not attempt to kill them, and Ginny had a horrible thought that he wanted to take them- alive- to Lord Voldemort. Draco looked pale; a couple of times his father had caught him with the Cruciatus Curse and though Ginny always knocked Lucius immediately so Draco only had a few seconds of the pain, it was enough to make him stumble a bit more and his spells lose a bit of their strength.

Some five minutes after the battle had commenced, Draco wearily slipped into Ginny’s mind.

Ginny, I’m going to get into his mind, try and hurt him that way.

No! It’s too dangerous, Draco, you’ll-


But he was already gone. Ginny watched in fear, trying to distract Lucius with a well aimed Bat Bogey Hex (he managed to avoid it) while Draco concentrated. Suddenly, she saw horror flutter across Lucius’s face and then it contorted in pain- and she knew Draco had got it. Ginny had never seen anyone actively work mind force to hurt someone before; but she felt it, and the cruelty of it still frightened her, even though she knew Lucius deserved it.

Then Lucius managed to perform one last spell, even with the pain.

“STUPEFY MORTIS!” He roared, and Draco crumpled, ashy white, to the floor.

“No!” Ginny screamed. “You- you bastard!”

Lucius laughed triumphantly. “I have you now, Ginevra Weasley. You can’t get away.”

Ginny glared at him. “I’ve beaten you twice before- I can do it again!”

Lucius laughed again. “But never alone,” his hands waved wildly in the air, emphasizing his point. “This time, Potter’s not here.”

Ginny felt a wave of defeat and loneliness wash over her. He was right. Harry wasn’t here. She was all alone… Alone… she dropped her wand as the truth hit her. What could she do against him, alone as she was? A name sprung to mind, and a word formed in her mouth.

“Neville,” she gasped, barely able to speak.

“Ah, but Longbottom’s not here to save you either, remember? He’s dead.”

Ginny fell to her knees, as the dull ache of grief that rested constantly in her abdomen accumulated and spread through her body like fire.

“No, please no,” she whimpered. “Draco, help me.”

Lucius Malfoy stalked closer and closer, a truly evil glint in his eyes. “Yes Draco wake up,” he simpered, mimicking her. “Stupid child. My son is barely alive. Too many violent spells, and I used my own modified stunning spell too- you must have noticed. He will die very soon.”

It was the final straw. Ginny swayed slightly then fell to the ground, eyes filled with tears. She moaned, and Lucius kicked her wand away, and then kicked her hard in the ribs, sending a piercing pain through her. He faked a kick at her head and laughed when she flung her hand up to protect herself. But suddenly, she felt warmth rush through her. Her hand had landed on Draco’s wrist- it was warm. Faintly, Ginny could feel a pulse. She drew a deep breath and slid her hand down to where his wand lay lightly on his palm.

Feeling a rush of love and warmth and strength, she tottered to her feet, clutching Draco’s wand and faced a bewildered looking Lucius Malfoy.

“I’m a big girl now,” Ginny whispered, swaying slightly. “And I can beat you all by myself.” She brought the wand up to his neck. “This, is for Neville, because it’s your fault he’s dead.”

These things are nobody’s whole fault.

Draco’s statement echoed in her mind, but she shook it out of her head.

“Stupefy!” she yelled, curling her lip. Lucius Malfoy collapsed; he hadn’t been quick enough.

Ginny ran to Draco, tears pouring down her cheeks. She clasped his hand and sank to her knees beside him. “Wake up,” she whispered, again and again. “Wake up.”

His eyes fluttered open for a moment and he smiled at her. “Ginny,” he mumbled. “Love you.”

“Oh I love you, I love you,” Ginny cried as he once more lapsed into unconsciousness. Ginny was growing weak. She wanted nothing more than to lie down and sleep forever, with Draco. She started slipping into the black faint she wanted so badly; but first she managed one angry thought.

Dumbledore, I need you here NOW!


Chapter 15: The Bridge
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary:Nobody knows what happens between life and death - nobody can change it. But love crosses all boundries...

Ginny was running. She didn’t know where she was heading or what for, but she knew it was terribly important and she had to get here as fast as she could. She was running in a shadowy land, with a black fog rolling around her. She could see the dark silhouette of a bridge in front of her, and a tall boy standing in front of it. As she got closer, she could see it was Draco. She didn’t know why, but something told her that it was deadly important that Draco did not cross the bridge. He took a step; she could see his hand resting on the thin rope that was there in use as a handrail.

“Draco!” she yelled. “Come back!”

He turned and looked at her, confused. A smile lit up his pale features when he recognized her but he seemed torn between crossing the bridge and going to her.

“Ginny,” he said quietly.

“Yes, it’s me!” she called desperately. “Come here!”

He turned his head and surveyed the bridge again. “There
will be no pain there, Ginny,” he said softly. “No hurt and confusion. My mother… my real mother, she’ll be there.”

“Draco, please!’ Ginny cried, tears running down her cheeks.
He shook his head, and wordlessly took another
step. “Draco!” she shouted. “Draco, I can’t come with you across that bridge!”

He was upset, she could see it. “Ginny, come on! There’s a beautiful garden on the other side, and the woman from the photograph. Come on!”

She shook her head. “I don’t see anything. Only fog.”

“Ginny, please.”

“Draco, the second prophecy! We have to help Harry! We have to stop Voldemort!”

“My mother,” he murmured.

“I’m staying here, Draco,” she called. “I can’t turn my back on this world just yet. I don’t know what’s on the other side of that bridge… Maybe it is your mother, I don’t know. But please Draco… For me?”

“You’re not coming then,” he said dully. She shook her head, and noticed her hair was losing its deep shade of red- it was quickly becoming gray.

He stood and turned away from her. Dull, colorless tears fell down her cheeks as he stared longingly at the other side. Finally, he turned back to her. “Yes Ginny. I’m coming.”
She laughed through her tears as he walked slowly back to her side. They threaded their fingers together.

“We’re going home,” she told him, smiling.

He nodded, slowly. “Home.”

Ginny woke, breathing hard and sweating. A pair of half moon glasses swam into view, followed by the rest of Albus Dumbledore’s face.

“Ah, Ms Weasley. You’re awake.”

“Draco!” she cried. “Where’s Draco?”

“It’s fine, Ms Weasley. He’s-”

“The bridge,” she yelled, tears pouring down her cheeks. “I told him not to go, but I can’t feel his hand anymore. What if he crossed? What if he crossed?”

“Ms Weasley, Madame Pomfrey is attending to him at this very moment. He’s okay.”

“He’s okay? You promise?”

“I swear it.”

Ginny sank back into the soft pillows, suddenly aware of how hot her face was and the blinding headache she had. “My head,” she groaned.

“Here, take this,” Dumbledore soothed, handing her a clear vial filled with a potion giving off a slightly acidy smell. She frowned at it for a moment, then drank it down, gagging on the sharp taste.

“I’m in the hospital wing,” she said suddenly, her headache clearing.

“Yes,” Dumbledore said softly. “I got to you as fast as I could after hearing your summons. I am sorry for putting you in such terrible danger.”

“But you had no say in it,” Ginny began, confused. “You-” she gasped as understanding hit her. “You told him about his mum so he would claim the Manor deliberately?”

Dumbledore nodded sadly. “I did.”

“You- you bastard,” she spat. “How could you do something like that? Do you know how much that hurt him?”

“I told him,” Dumbledore said slowly. “So that he would have a motive to keep the Manor. I miscalculated though- I counted on his hatred for his father and his temper, but I forgot that the very same things would make him seek out his father, and any information he could find about his mother. And that was the most dangerous thing he could do. I don’t doubt that if you hadn’t accompanied him, he would most definitely be dead by now.”

Ginny shrugged the comment away. “Sir, can I ask you a few questions?”

“By all means. An explanation is the very least you deserve.”

“Why did what Mr Malfoy was saying hurt so much? I mean, reminders of Neville always hurt but it hasn’t been that bad since the night I found out. And I mean, the thing about Harry- that wouldn’t have bothered me at all usually. I would have known he was trying to put me out. And Draco-” a few tears formed in her eyes, and she sniffed. “That would have usually motivated me to fight him harder.”

“Ah yes,” Dumbledore grew very serious. “But you see, all Malfoy’s are gifted with a little bit of wandless magic. I think Draco could easily master some with a little practice. And Lucius did a dirty trick- he used it in the form of an Emotion Enhancer. It makes any minimal regrets you might have had about Harry not being there become too much to bear- any grief over Neville enough to make you collapse, and on using it about an especial loved one- to a weaker person, Ginevra, it could have felled them.”

Ginny stared at him wide eyed. “But then how did I stun him?”

“Ginny, did you have any contact with Draco whatsoever before you fought him again?”

“Yes,” she said slowly. “My hand landed on his arm.”

“The contact between you, the link of love is so strong that just touching a part of him could give you strength enough to fight Lucius. You didn’t fight Lucius for Neville, you fought him for Draco.”

Ginny blushed. “But sir, how did you know about me fighting for Neville?”

“We managed to capture Lucius alive, thanks to you. We fed him some Veritaserum and he told of your final comment. He seemed very vengeful that a teenage girl had defeated him.”

She turned ever redder. “Where is he now?”

“In Azkaban, awaiting trial.”

Ginny nodded, satisfied. “Can I see Draco?”

“You’re not meant to be out of bed, but I suppose we could rug you up in a wheelchair of sorts and have you sit next to him. I’m afraid he’s in a deep sleep. It is possibly a coma.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “But he will wake?”

Dumbledore grew very serious. “There is a fifty percent chance of it.”

“Only fifty?” he nodded, and she let out a soft cry. “Please take me to him.”

Dumbledore placed her gently in a chair and covered it with a rug. Ginny placed her hands under the rug, not wanting him to see them trembling. He wheeled her to the bed next to her and placed her by the side of a bed, then closed the curtains.

Ginny stared onto his pale face, trying to commit it to memory for ever and ever in case he… She stifled a sob. His chest rose and fell so shallowly- it frightened her. She held his hand, the warmth comforting her.

“Please wake up,” she whispered. “I need you here, Draco. Don’t cross the bridge- you said you’d come with me, don’t go back on your word. We beat him, Draco, together- you and I. Your dad, he can’t hurt you anymore, I promise.” She traced a thin scar on his wrist- she had never noticed it before. Nor how skinny he was. “Come on Draco. You know, the battle’s drawing nearer, I think. I don’t want it to happen soon, but there’s been all these attacks in the paper. You know we’ve been unconscious for a week? I saw a calendar, when Dumbledore wheeled me over here.”

She paused, a tear escaping her. She wasn’t used to him not answering. “I’m in a wheelchair,” she continued. “Which feels very strange but it’s very comfortable so I suppose that’s okay. If- when you wake up, lets go dancing, okay? There’s a hall in Hogsmeade, I think. It would be fun… it’s hard for us to be alone. Damn teachers.” She smiled with an effort. “I wish you’d wake up, Draco. It’s no fun talking to myself.”

She swallowed a sob. “You know they said there’s only a fifty percent chance of you waking? I don’t believe it. I saved you in that fight, damn it! It’s meant to be okay now.” She shivered. “God, you’re so still Draco. I’d rather we were still fighting, than you like this.”

“I won’t leave you, Draco, I promise. I’ll sit here until you wake up, and if you don’t…” she trailed off. “I’ll always find you,” she whispered fiercely. “Wherever you are, I’ll find you.”
Her eyes began to grow heavy, and holding his hand, she fell asleep.

***

Ginny woke in the middle of the night, still in the chair by Draco’s side. She stared, for in front of her stood the woman from the photograph: Aurora Malfoy.

“You’re- you’re Draco’s mum,” she gasped.

The woman smiled sadly at her. Yes, she replied and her voice was one of the most beautiful noises Ginny had ever heard. It was terrifying- it made her want to cover her ears and scream in fear, but it also had the gentle loveliness of a mother singing a lullaby. It was fierce and ruthless, but also beautiful, swimming over Ginny in soft, melodic waves. Ginny stared in awe at her.

I want to thank you for saving the life of my son, the woman added. He would be dead were it not for you.
Ginny nodded, unable to speak.

Do not be afraid, child.

“I- I’m sorry,” Ginny suddenly whispered, tears clouding her eyes. “Dumbledore says there’s only a fifty percent chance of him living. I was too late.”

Never, the woman told her fiercely. He will live!

Ginny managed a tiny smile, as the woman glided over to Draco. Ginny watched, sucking a breath in, as Aurora leant forward and gently kissed her son’s forehead. Draco’s eyes flickered for a moment, and then opened fully as Aurora took a step back.

“Mother,” he smiled, not seeming at all surprised. Aurora nodded, and tears fell down her cheeks. Draco caught sight of Ginny. “Gin,” he said, sounding confused. “I thought you said you weren’t crossing…?”

“I didn’t,” Ginny replied, hardly daring to speak in front of the ethereal presence. “You didn’t- she’s on our side.”

“You’re not… dead?” he asked, hope gathering in his eyes, as he sat up slightly, looking with wonder at his mother.

I am, she said sadly. I cannot change that. I have been tied to this earth for so long, crying for you. Watching over you. I have never been able to rest. And when you met Ginevra... her gaze flickered to the red-haired girl and then back to Draco. …I was terrified. I was sure that the prophecy would come true… That you would die.

“Mother,” he said softly. “The prophecy is true, isn’t it?”

Aurora nodded, and Ginny’s eyes filled with tears. Gently, the woman reached out and with a cool finger wiped them away. Do not cry, Ginevra. I come bringing joyous news.

Light suddenly flared out from the woman- Ginny had to shield her eyes with a hand but Draco stared unblinkingly at her. By finding out about me, and having your life saved by a true love the prophecy has been broken. I lift the curse you have lived under- never let it be said again that you will die if you love! The prophecy is broken and I-

The light spun around and it seemed to the young adults watching that Aurora Malfoy broke into a thousand atoms. She was gone, and both Ginny and Draco wept and laughed with joy and sorrow.

The light began to fade. The last spark was just drifting towards the floor when they heard Aurora’s voice resounding around them in a beautiful, melancholy whisper.

I am free.

***

They sat in silence for a moment and then Ginny looked over at Draco. His shoulders were shaking as he silently let out all the tears that had been bottled within him for so many years. She stood up and shakily took the step that was between them, sliding under the covers and snuggling into his embrace. They held each other, and fell asleep.

***

She woke to find Draco watching her. He smiled at her, and she let out a long shudder.

“It was true,” she murmured. “I was so afraid that last night had been a dream… It was true!”

He laughed softly. “Yes, it was true.”

“Thank God! Don’t you ever go into a coma again, you hear me,” she whispered, suddenly fierce.

“Okay,” he smiled, mouth twitching in a wry grin.

“Shit, I was so afraid,” she whispered, and he grew serious. He closed his arms around her again and she clung to him, head fitting neatly under his chin, like it always did. “We don’t have to live under the shadow of that damn prophecy anymore,” she reminded him slowly.

“No,” he whispered, a thrill rushing over him. “Thank you, Ginny.”

She didn’t ask what for- she knew. A few tears escaped her eyes, but he pretended he hadn’t seen them; that she was grateful for. She always seemed to be crying around him.
Madame Pomfrey bustled over to them and Ginny groaned inwardly, not wanting to be asked to switch back to her own bed. She shrank a little more closer to Draco and his arm lay across her stomach protectively. She focused her best friendly yet firm stare upon the matron, who stared completely amazed at the pair for a moment, then smiled.

“Mr Malfoy, you’re awake!” she exclaimed.

“So it would seem,” he replied dryly.

“That’s wonderful- you gave us all a scare. I’m afraid, Ms Weasley that you’re going to have to-’’

“If you don’t mind, Madame Pomfrey,” Ginny interrupted. “Draco almost died, I completely freaked out and we also recently had a very emotional get together. I think I have perfect rights to remain in his bed for as long as I want, seeing as it doesn’t seem to be doing him any harm.”
Madame Pomfrey, slightly astonished at Ginny’s openness, hesitated for a moment and then nodded, drawing the curtains around the bed and leaving them. Ginny smiled up at Draco, and he kissed her gently. They both stared at each other, unable to believe that the other was still here. The only noise that broke the quiet was the ticking of a clock somewhere and the nurse’s brisk footsteps. Ginny reached a hand up and absent mindedly pushed away some of the locks falling into his eyes, and he caught her hand and held it.

Finally, Ginny spoke. “How are you feeling?”

“Sore,” he told her honestly. “I ache all over. But surprisingly fine, apart from that.”

“And… your mum?” she prodded tentatively.

He paused. “Confused,” he answered truthfully. “A little sad. But okay.”

She nodded, knowing that he didn’t want to say
anymore. “You scared me,” she told him for the second time. He nodded. “Did you dream about the bridge too?”

He smiled. “Yeah. You were there- I had to pick between you and my mother.”

“Why’d you pick me?”

“Because… because I never got the chance to know my mother. To love her. And I know I would love her if I got the chance, but I love you now, and I always will. It hurts to leave her, but it would hurt a thousand times worse to leave you.”

She pressed her face into his shirt, not wanting him to see the tears. “You ignored me,” she said, voice muffled. “You burnt all my letters, and when I came into your room you
were mean.”

He hesitated, choosing his words carefully. “I was really angry at you. I was angry at myself too, I guess. I believed every single thing I said to you, Ginny, I swear it. It hurt you but it hurt me more.”

“I know,” she said softly. “That’s what frightened me.”

***

It was a week since Draco had woken, and Sunday morning found Ginevra sitting in a chair by his bed, chatting away. He was sitting up bright eyed, and though he winced when he moved he was otherwise the same as usual.

“They’re not letting me out for another three days,” he complained to Ginny. “I’m so bored. I’ve read all the books you brought- they were brilliant, by the way- except for one, but I’m nearly finished that and Parkinson plays chess with me occasionally but apart from that…” He paused and winked at her. “I’m all alone!” he wailed melodramatically.

Ginny laughed. “Shut up, you moaning old sod. I wish I was in your place. Apparently a near death experience isn’t enough to warrant you out of homework. Plus Dumbledore is now giving me private lessons seeing as I can hardly be expected to practice on my own, so I’m being forced to work hard. I’ve been thinking, Draco,” she continued, serious now. “We haven’t been working nearly hard enough. I mean, it was pure luck that we got away from your father. We need to take up those restricted section passes and start studying, and we need to work harder. We’re getting our Apparation passes next week.”

He groaned. “More work, Gods. I’m getting enough what with NEWTS coming up, even with the so called ‘negotiating’ Dumbledore did at the beginning of the year. If only we had time to become Animagis,” he added thoughtfully. “Then we could really fight.”

“Yeah,” she agreed. “Or if…” Ginny stared at him for a moment, mouth opening and shutting. “Draco,” she whispered in awe finally. “You’re brilliant. I have to go to the library!”

She jumped up and ran out of the room, in a style similar to Hermione Granger. “Mad,” Draco muttered under his breath, reaching for his book. “Completely batty.”

***

Ginny did not return until that evening, with a satchel full of books and cheeks flushed with excitement. Pansy was engaged with him in a game of chess, but when she saw Ginny she began to wryly pack up while Draco raised an eyebrow at her excitement. Pansy walked past Ginny, nodding slightly and Ginny sat in her chair, laughing with glee.

“I’ve got it, Draco!” she exclaimed. “I’ve asked Dumbledore to come here directly… look, here he is!”

A highly amused Albus Dumbledore was sweeping across the floor to them. He had been spending a lot of time with Draco, for somehow the old headmaster had known Aurora Malfoy well and Draco had finally acquired some respect for him.

“What’s going on, Ginny?” Draco asked when Dumbledore had pulled up a seat.

“I have found,” she announced triumphantly. “A spell that the Death Eaters know and can use perfectly well, but they will not be able to use this to their advantage in a battle like we can!”

Draco stared at her for a moment, then smiled gently. “Have you been sleeping well, Ginny?” he asked kindly. “Only you seem to be in the middle of a dream.”

She brushed his comment aside with an impatient wave of her hand. “Headmaster, I know it will work! It has to- we’ve been watching examples of it all our life- I’ve seen two examples of it in the last term!”

Dumbledore was curious. “Please elaborate, Ms Weasley.”

“Do you remember,” Ginny said breathlessly. “The lesson you taught me my Patronus?” Both men nodded. “Then you remember how I was in a foul mood with Harry. Did you notice how it growled at him and almost attacked him?” Draco still looked puzzled, but Dumbledore drew a deep breath, understanding twinkling in his eyes.

“Of course,” he whispered. “Continue.”

“In Draco and my last meeting, Draco used his Patronus. He was annoyed at me at the time, so it hissed and almost charged at me. Sir, I believe that if we slightly modify the Patronus charm, they could be used to help defeat the Death Eaters.”

Draco sucked in a breath. “But are you sure that a spell can be modified?”

She nodded, a smile twitching at her mouth. “I know it. Spells are often made- but only one other person besides me knows how to modify them. It was he who taught me.”

Draco got the feeling that she was deliberately holding out on them. “Who was that?” he asked suspiciously.

She grinned. “Your father.”

He glared at her.

“Don’t look at me like that,” she chided. “He used the spell on
you, and then he actually told me about it. He was an incredibly intelligent man, but he underestimated his opponents. He underestimated the damage it would do to Voldemort’s forces if I grasped the idea of modifying a spell. He used a modified stunning spell on you- one that is much more dangerous; the incantation is ‘stupefy mortis’- mortis is ‘death’ in Latin, so just the one added word with the right flick of the wand made it a hell of a lot more dangerous. What we need to do with the Patronus is find a couple of words with enough significance in it, a certain traditional sense in it, and also a word that holds a lot of power in it. Lucius Malfoy’s worked so well because both stupefy and mortum are very powerful words, and you can trace them to an original meaning. We can’t just make up a word.”

She took a deep breath. “We need words that will make two things happen- one being to make the Patronus last longer and be more solid, and the second one is that the Patronus will have a will of its own and conviction to fight, but still be on our side. We need a Patronus form that will not be cowardly- even a mouse must use its strengths to fight.

“Harry’s stag is fantastic; so is your Thestral. My wolf will be perfect for attacking and a stallion like Ron’s can do a hell of a lot of damage with its hooves.”

“What about Granger’s otter? What can an otter do?” interrupted Draco.

Ginny smiled- it was her trump card. “There are other races of magical beings out there,” she told them. “Ones that do not respect wizards. Centaurs scorn horses, certainly, but a Patronus is noble and free and brave- perhaps the centaurs could be induced to fight using a Patronus. As for the otter- it took Harry hours to get down to the Mermen. But an otter…”

“Could do it in moments, particularly a magical one,” finished Draco, eyes gleaming. “It would be like having a whole other army. One with added magical strengths- and a Patronus can’t die.”

“Exactly!” Ginny laughed.

Dumbledore stared at Ginny, for once at a loss for words. “Ms Weasley,” he breathed finally. “It’s brilliant. Have you any idea for what the words could be yet?”

Ginny nodded. “I thought fortitude would be a good one, because it means both courage as well as ‘moral bravery’, so they would see what is right and wrong. And then valiturus, which is also strength but as well as that it’s-”

“Power,” interrupted Draco. “So that they’d last for a long time.”

Ginny nodded. “Well,” said Dumbledore. “I will start working on it straight away. Unless you, Ms Weasley would like to…”

She shook her head. “It’s too strong a magic for me, sir. I’m
quite content just to be ‘the brains’ behind the operation.” She laughed.

Draco smiled. “Well done, Ginny. It’s a brilliant idea.”

She blushed. “The word brilliant has been used more times in the past day in connection to me then in my whole life,” she murmured.

“Ginevra, have you eaten anything all day?” Dumbledore asked gently.

She shook her head. “Not since breakfast. I’ve been to busy to be hungry.” Her stomach emitted a low growl. Dumbledore laughed.

“I advise you to go downstairs to dinner then, as I will. It is about to begin.” Draco smiled and nodded at her.

“Bye Ginny,” he said.

“Bye Draco.” Dumbledore had very wisely made his way out of the Hospital Wing, so Ginny leaned forward and kissed him, hands resting at the back of his neck carefully.

She stood up and smiled wickedly at him. “The nerve of us,” she called over her shoulder as she left. “Kissing in the hospital wing!”

A/N: Someone very wise once said 'GIVE ME REVIEWS!!!'

Chapter 16: A Spider's Death
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary:Things start falling into place, preparing themselves, and Ginevra is afraid. The nothingness gapes - the Light grows dim. Confusion and problems block their path, and only their love and strength can keep them sane.

He was released a day earlier than expected from the Hospital Wing, and so he set out to find her. After checking the Astronomy Tower, he went to the Room of Requirement and smiled when he saw the golden door.

He pushed it open and was at her side in moments. She was curled into a little ball, her breathing was ragged and she kept whispering “Oh God. Oh God.” Even when he put his arms around her she didn’t seem to know he was there.

“Shit Ginny,” he murmured. “What’s wrong?”

She turned wild eyes up to him. “I can’t do this anymore Draco,” she cried, shudders running through her body. “I can’t do it!”

“What?” he whispered desperately.

She shook her head, red locks bouncing wildly. She was shaking with some sort of fear and despair, and he pulled her close but still she was shaking. They sat like that for an hour, until finally Ginny looked up again.

“I can’t do this anymore,” she repeated. “I’m not meant to! We’re not meant to! Please, Draco, I’m only a kid…”

“Ginny, I’m here,” he told her. “I’m here. It’s okay… It’ll be okay… What’s wrong?”

“Oh God,” she cried. “I can’t fight in this war anymore, Draco. I can’t! I’m too scared of dying- and all these fights, what’s it doing? We can’t stop them. We’ll never stop them.”

“What do you mean?” he said hollowly. “We beat my father, you beat him. You can do this Gin, I know you can.”

She shoved a copy of the Daily Prophet at him and he scanned the front page, throat going dry.

JAIL BREAK FROM AZKABAN!

screamed the front page headline. Draco shivered and read the article.

Lucius Malfoy was found to be missing from Azkaban yesterday evening, RITA SKEETER reports. Aurors have been searching thoroughly but there has thus far been no sign of him. Harassed looking Cornelius Fudge appeared last night to give a statement.

“No, there has been no sign whatsoever of the conniving little- Mr Malfoy, I mean,” he told reporters. “The ministry is doing what it can, but with the D-dementors gone and Thingy (you-know-who) on the loose, it is harder than ever to find an escapee.”

An alert has been sent to the Muggle Prime Minister and citizens are advised to beware….

Draco stopped and threw aside the paper; reluctantly meeting Ginny’s terrified eyes. “What can we do, Draco?”

He didn’t know what to say. Finally, he cleared his throat. “We’ll keep learning the spells,” he told her hoarsely. “We’ll learn to Apparate. We’ll beat the bastards.”

Ginny gulped down sobs and nodded, resting her head on his chest. He put his arms around her and they sat, seeking comfort in each other and finding precious little.

***

“You are here to learn the art of Apparation,” Dumbledore said quietly. “At Hogwarts, there is a magical protection to stop you from Apparating within the castle grounds. I am going to teach you a more advanced form of Apparation- one that will allow you to Apparate anywhere you want. It is a much more dangerous form- and being splinched is not the worst thing that can happen to you.”

Ginny’s hand flew to Draco’s, gripping it tightly- he gave her a reassuring squeeze. Ron was looking very pale, Harry was biting his lip- only Hermione had a gleam of excitement in her eyes. Strange as it was, Draco and the trio were actually managing to be in the same room and not be at each others throats. Ginny, despite her somber mood, was trying hard to suppress a giggle.

Draco glanced down at her and she gave him a cheeky grin. He rolled his eyes, making his disgust at being in the same room with the Golden Trio obvious, and Ginny muffled her laugh under a hand. Ron glared at her- growing more and more furious with every intimate thing he saw about the pair. To his credit, he was trying very hard not to start yelling for Malfoy to take two very big steps away from his sister, but this effort was turning his face purple.

Dumbledore was worried. He was very amused by the hostility of both groups, but he also knew that he must have their full attention on the task at hand; namely, Apparation. He wondered briefly whether he should have taught them separately, and then abruptly dismissed the idea. They had to learn to get along somehow.

Hermione was very annoyed. Here they were, about to learn one of the most difficult arts, and the rest of the group were behaving like immature children. She glanced over at Ron, and despite her annoyance couldn’t help a rush of affection. He was so sweet when he got mad.

Harry was desperately trying to keep Ron in control. It hadn’t helped that they had walked in on the pair snogging- nor that Draco had looked up, seen who it was and immediately gone back to kissing Ginny- and he had a feeling that even with the presence of Dumbledore, any moment a fight would ensue. A boiling rage was in him as well- for Draco was smirking relentlessly at him- so he kept the peaceful image of Luna in his mind. He suddenly felt a slight tickling in his head- rather like a gentler version of Snape’s Legilimency and startled, forced all his abilities of Occlumency on whoever it was, and they retreated. He had a suspicion that they had seen his thoughts about Luna however, and this dismal idea was confirmed when both Draco and Ginny broke into silent sniggers.

It was Ginny who had, surprised at Harry’s control, broken into his mind and read the dreamy thoughts about Luna. She had immediately projected them into Draco’s thoughts and the pair was almost dying with withheld laughter, thus acquiring the glances from the rest of the room; severe from Dumbledore, embarrassed from Harry and utterly confused
from Hermione and Ron.

The lesson was a fiasco. Ginny and Draco’s vow to work more on defense and their shock over Lucius’s escape from jail had disappeared in the pleasantness and mirth of a Saturday morning. Finally, Dumbledore in an act of benign understanding allowed them to postpone the lesson until Monday. In fact, he told them that they could have all of Monday off from other lessons if they promised to work properly on that day. The students had hastily agreed, and Dumbledore had swept from the room.

“Well,” said Hermione in a very forced civil tone. “I suppose we’ll see you on Monday.”

“Yes,” Draco agreed before pulling Ginny onto the couch and beginning to whisper at a high speed in her ear. Of course, he could have simply spoken to her mind to mind but he guessed this would annoy the Wonder Twits more. Ginny quickly caught on and, giggling, whispered back in his ear. They both took an amused glance at a by now red-faced Ron and burst into quiet laughter again.

“Hermione said goodbye,” Ron finally said in muffled indignation.

“Yes, we know,” Ginny replied kindly, feeling a little compassion for her brother. “We said goodbye too.”

“But you haven’t left.”

“We weren’t planning to,” Draco said smoothly.

“What?” Ron exploded. “But we were going to hang out here!”

“Well,” Ginny said sweetly. “So were we. And we got here first.”

Ron opened and shut his mouth, glaring at them.

“Oh do be a dear, Ginny,” coaxed Hermione. “We want to do some… research on new spells here.”

Ginny laughed. “Really? Where are your books?”

Hermione had no answer to that, so Harry butted in. “Oh come on, sod off you two.”

“Actually,” Draco sneered. “I don’t see why we should have to leave. As Ginny said, we were here first.”

Unable to control his temper anymore, Ron blurted out “Don’t call her Ginny!”

Ginny burst into laughter. “What should he call me then, Ronnie?” she chortled. “Ickle Ginny-Winkins? Or maybe Weasley would be better to your taste? What about The-Evil-Weasley-Who-Opened-The-Chamber-Of-Secrets?”

Ron stared at her. “You told him about that? You told him about that?”

Ginny frowned, and nodded. “Yes, I did. He has every right to know.”

“But it was his father who did it!” Ron roared.

Both Ginny and Draco stood up, wands out. “Don’t you ever say another word about that, Ronald,” she hissed. “You don’t know a thing about us, so don’t you dare try to dictate my life! Listen to me very carefully brother, because I’m not going to say this again.

“I will go out with who I want. I will kiss whoever I want. I will tell anything I want to Draco about me. And I don’t want you to start comparing my love to a person he is not the simplest bit like! Now get the hell out of here!”

Ron was about to answer when Hermione and Harry grabbed an arm each and dragged him out of the room. The door slammed shut behind them, and Ginny glowered at it for a moment then turned. Draco was no longer beside her- he was sitting on a chair with his back to her.

She flew across the room and onto his lap, throwing her arms around him and kissing him fiercely. “It’s not true,” she whispered desperately in his ear. “I know it’s not true. You’re not like him at all!”

Draco turned pained eyes up to her, pulling her close to him. “I wouldn’t have wanted him to do it,” he muttered. “I didn’t tell him to do it!”

“I know,” she told him, looking earnestly into his eyes. “I know you didn’t Draco, I don’t care about him, I don’t care what they say…”

“I would have tried to stop him if I could!”

“I know you would have,” she cried. “I know!”

“Please Ginny,” he whispered, sending shivers through her. “Tell them it’s not true. Please!”

“Draco, I don’t care what they think. I love you. You’re not anything like him, I promise!”

He buried his face in her hair- she had a feeling he was having trouble keeping back tears. “We’ll be okay,” she murmured, again and again. “We’ll be okay.”

In the end, she didn’t know who she was telling it to.

***

Later that evening, Ginny and Draco slipped back into the Room of Requirement. Draco had gone down to lunch with her finally, and the pair had ignored the trio, taking seats at their respective tables. Hermione had tried to reason with Ginny, but Ginny had turned her head away, face
transformed with raw anger. Ron was shoveling down his food as fast as possible, sensing that as long as he kept his mouth shut he might avoid a Bat Bogey Hex. Harry was bewildered, not understanding the extremity of Ginny’s anger. Draco snuck into Ginny’s mind a few times, making sly comments about the trio, concealing the hurt in him. Ginny was not so easily deceived however, and she asked him gently how he was feeling. His reply sent a rush of dread and nervous excitement through her:

Room of Requirement, after lunch. I owe you an explanation.

It was under these circumstances that they were sitting on the floor, cross legged and facing each other. Their faces were serious, and they locked the door. Draco cocked his head to one side for a moment, surveying her and then straightened, face even paler than usual.

“What do you want to know?” he asked finally.

She swallowed. “Why were you fighting on our side, against your father, before we got involved?”

He considered for a moment. “I hated my father. I was against anything he stood for, really, just for the simple reason that I hated him- thus hating the things he did. But also…” Despite the situation, a smile made its way onto his lips. “Well, you know what an arrogant prat I was-”

“Am,” Ginny interrupted laughingly.

He frowned mockingly at her. “Ha! Look who’s talking. Anyway, I just didn’t fancy myself groveling at the hem of the robes of an old man. I wanted either to be the leader of the Dark side or not on it all. I mean, Voldemort was a half blood. My father was always going on about anyone who was not pureblood were worse than dirt- and yet he’s terrified of a half blood. So I never respected the Dark Lord enough to be part of his little farce.”

“Hardly a farce,” she reminded him gently.

He shrugged. “That’s all it was to me, Ginny. I never cared enough about it.”

She wondered what he had been like before she knew him- she had thought she could class him easily as a laughable, egotistical, prejudiced bastard; but now she wondered how much pain Draco Malfoy had gone through in the last six years.

He cleared his throat gently and she brought her attention back to the present sheepishly. She bit her lip, trying to decide how to tackle with the next question. “Okay… why do you hate your father?”

He stiffened. “What is there to say?” he whispered. “I hate him now because of my mother, and because I know he’s a coward but then…”

“Then?” she prompted, eyes searching his.

“If you… if you take a dog,” his voice was slightly hoarse. “And lock it up, and tell it off all the time, and hit it and kick it and throw spells at it, is it going to like you?”

Ginny’s eyes filled with tears. “Do you have any scars?” she whispered in a curious, choking voice that was not her own.

He shook his head. “Not many anyway. I had to be presentable. I had to be able to wear whatever I wanted without him coming under suspicion. I had to be able to go swimming in just shorts if I wanted. He was careful to heal me properly afterwards… the House Elves did a pretty good job, too. Just… a few…”

He rolled up his shirt sleeve on his right arm and she saw a thin, long white line going up from his wrist; the one she had seen that night in the hospital wing. “When I was four,” he told her quietly.

“Oh God,” she whispered, hugging him around the neck.

He was clearly uncomfortable, but he held her tight anyway. “Draco,” she whispered finally. He met her eyes, questioning her without saying anything. “Can I sleep with you again tonight?”

He let out a breath. “Of course.”

***

Monday came. Ginny’s lips were tight and pinched and Draco, standing beside her looked grim. They had made the choice last night- Ginny knew she could not back out on the promise she had made, to Draco and to herself. To Neville. She closed her eyes briefly, knowing she was about to accept what Harry, Hermione and Ron had refused, and which she had found abhorrent.

She studied the blue eyes of Dumbledore carefully, gripping Draco’s hand. He looked down at her and nodded. The trio stood behind them confused. Dumbledore was patiently waiting, gazing at her with clear eyes.

“Dumbledore,” she whispered, voice cracking slightly as she spoke. “Teach us the Unforgivables.”

She heard the gasp from Hermione, saw Dumbledore take the step backwards unwillingly in surprise, and jutted out her chin in determination.

Dumbledore did not bother with confirmation of her command; his eyes saddened and he paused. Tension hung in the air, seeming in connection with the young couple’s stance, the shock of the trio behind them and the old man standing in front of them. Finally, Dumbledore nodded. Something filled Ginny’s heart; though whether it was relief or dismay or a final, condemning doom she couldn’t tell.

She finally heard what she’d been waiting for; the muffled sob from Hermione, the cut-off cry of indignation from Ron and she could imagine the jade-green eyes of Harry, filled with despair and horror. She turned slowly to find the three students behind them ashy white. Draco turned also, and watched them steadily.

“It’s not true,” Hermione choked finally. “Tell me it’s not true!”

“It’s true,” Draco said wearily, the first time he had spoken. There was no menace in his voice.

“Ginny,” Harry whispered pleadingly. “That’s death! That’s how my parents died!”

“Well,” Ginny said mockingly, hating how sadistic her voice sounded. “How do you think you’re going to kill Voldemort?” She continued, ignoring Ron’s flinch. “Body bind him?” A soft chuckle escaped her, cold and calculating.

“Why are you doing this?” Harry asked.

Ginny paused, and then the reasons came tumbling out of her. “Because no matter how many times we fight and defeat them and put them in Azkaban, they’ll escape! Because they’re the reason Neville’s dead- because Lucius almost killed me and Draco, more than once! Because- because we can’t win otherwise. We can’t win the peaceful way, Harry! We have no choice!”

Harry shook his head, wordlessly. He opened his mouth, but words refused to come out. Ginny clutched tight to Draco’s hand, waiting. Dumbledore was still silent. Finally…

“I’ll do it too, then,” squeaked a tiny voice. All eyes darted to Hermione, and seemingly strengthened by that Ron stepped forward as well.

“Me too.”

“Well,” Harry murmured, the words sticking in his throat. “Well… I guess you can count me in too.”

Dumbledore cleared his throat, and Ginny and Draco turned back to him. “Then it is settled,” he said quietly. “Today, you will spend half of the day learning Apparation, and the rest learning the Unforgivable Curses.”

***

“I CAN’T DO IT!” Ginny yelled at Dumbledore for the umpteenth time that day- they had long stopped regarding any formality procedures with the headmaster. “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CAUSE PAIN DELIBERATLY- EVEN IF IT IS JUST A SPIDER? I CAN’T BLOODY DO IT!”

Her face was flushed and pink, hair escaping out of the ponytail and her eyes gleamed with anger and frustration. Draco looked up at her voice again from where he was intently trying to kill a cockroach and crossed swiftly to her, muttering softly in her ear. Harry, Hermione and Ron watched in amazement as yet again Draco calmed her in seconds.

“How does he do that?” Harry managed in a weak voice. “Even you can’t do that, ‘Mione.”

Ron shook his head in disbelief. “He’s put a spell on her. I know he has.”

“No, that was definitely our Ginny yelling before,” Hermione reminded him. “He just… has a way with her.”

“You talk as if she were a dog,” snorted Ron in reply.

Harry shook his head. “C’mon. Let’s get on with it.” He turned back to the spider that scuttled around in the jar, swallowed and then tipped it out. “Engorgio,” he murmured, ignoring Ron’s wince as the creature swelled to half its size. Then, swallowing hard and dully preparing himself for the wisp of green light that was the only part of the killing curse that worked, he cried “ADVADA KEDAVRA!”

There was a flash of green light that for a split second illuminated the room, and then a spider lying on its back on the table. It was clearly dead.

There was complete silence. Everyone stared at Harry and he looked down at the spider uncomfortably. “Well,” Harry whispered finally.

“Well done Harry,” Ginny said hoarsely, knowing how strange it sounded to congratulate someone on causing death.

The spell was broken and everyone turned back to their work; Harry turned his concentration to the Imperius charm which he still could not manage, and the rest of the group doubled their efforts on the curses.

***

Ginny sat with Draco that night in the Astronomy Tower considerably wiser. Her fingers hadn’t stopped trembling since she had finally successfully mastered the killing curse and her face was pale; her lip with dried blood on it. She was feeling a little airy; part of her seemed to still be part of the air, as that was what the sensation of Apparation had been; being part of the air for a split second.

She and Draco did not look at each other, instead leaning side by side, watching as the stars came out. Ginny shuddered a little and Draco placed a comforting kiss on her forehead.

“Can you sense it, Draco?” she whispered finally, voice cracking. “The battle’s coming closer; we don’t have much longer to wait.”

“We’ll be ready for it,” he told her.


Chapter 17: The End Of All Things
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Summary:The inevitable is here, but the Darkness has only just begun.


It was Hermione’s idea. Ron had laughed and dismissed it, but a growing smile had appeared on Ginny’s face and Harry had liked the thought. After much persuasion from Ginny, Draco had reluctantly agreed. Dumbledore had readily lent them the big old fashioned wizarding camera and now they all crowded round in the Astronomy Tower; every single one of them trying to tell the other how to work the contraption.

“No, Ron, it’s very simple-”

“Like this Potter, you need the black cloth-”

“Ouch! Someone just elbowed my ear, watch-”

“Right, calm down, everybody calm-”

“What does this button do?”

A flash of light filled the air and the noise stopped, as five rather rumpled looking teenagers jumped backwards in surprise. They stared at the thing in silence for a few moments and then Ginny reached forward tentatively and plucked the photo from the slot. Five pairs of arms waved wildly around it- someone’s robes were flapping in it slightly and the snow was falling behind it.

“Well,” said Ginny in a small voice. “I think we worked out how to use it. But how can we get the self timer to work?”

Once more pandemonium descended upon the room and it wasn’t until some half an hour later that the group agreed upon how it worked. They walked stiffly into its view and posed uncomfortably, aware of how weird a photo containing both the Golden Gryffindor Trio and Draco Malfoy would look. The camera clicked, and a photo scrolled out.

Once again Ginny reached forward and grabbed it. The students surveyed it, impassively for a moment, and then the ridiculousness of how formal they looked struck them and the teenagers burst into laughter. It was a historical moment; both Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter laughing at the same time, and not at each other. Ginny grinned slyly and flicked her wand; quickly getting close to Draco again as she did so.

The camera clicked.

This time the photo was much more natural. The people in it looked as if they were all best friends - something that made Ginny snicker – and they were happy. They waved at the camera and the photo images of Draco and Ginny were hugging each other close, laughing. A couple of times the photo of Draco whirled the counterpart of Ginny around, much to the disgust of the replica of Ron. Snow fell in the background again, catching in the hair of the students.

Hermione muttered a spell and soon there were copies for everyone. Harry produced – rather embarrassedly – some black frames which they were quickly placed in, Draco reluctantly accepting the gift.

The group photo was a success.

***

Ginny sat with Draco one night in a study corner in the library, flicking through a restricted book. She grimaced at some of the spells supplied and wrote down more notes. Draco, head down, was also scribbling on parchment, long fingers turning the pages over impatiently. She frowned and stretched, rubbing her eyes as the clock struck nine.

He looked up at her movement and he too rubbed his eyes tiredly. “Library’s closed, then,” he said wearily. “God, I’m starved. You’re fanatical, Ginny, I haven’t had anything to eat all day.”

“And you won’t be tomorrow, either,” she reminded him. “We have to practice then.’ Ignoring his groan, she continued. “C’mon then. Let’s go raid the kitchens.”

Draco stood up, sending the books flying back to the shelves with a mutter and shoving the parchments in his bag. “Right, let’s go,” he yawned.

“Isn’t it funny,” Ginny murmured as they descended the staircase. “How you sit still all day reading and writing and are exhausted by nine?”

Draco’s stomach growled. “Yes, but right now I’m more hungry then tired so could we please hurry?”

Ginny smiled. “Wouldn’t want to keep His Lordship waiting. Here then, here’s the pear. D’you want to do it?”

He frowned bemusedly at her. “Do what?”

“Tickle the pear, of course.”

“Why on earth would you want me to tickle a portrait of a pear?”

“You mean you’ve never raided the kitchens before?” she giggled.

I was usually always on time for meals,” he said pointedly. “And if I wasn’t, then Parkinson or Crabbe and Goyle got me something.”

“Oh you are a spoilt brat,” she laughed. “Well then, this is the entrance to the kitchens. You have to tickle the pear.”

She reached forward and did so, and to Draco’s astonishment the large portrait swung open, leaving them to clamber through.

While Draco stared around in bewilderment at the bustle around him, Ginny was quickly piling food into a basket. She tugged his hand impatiently and he followed her slowly into his bedroom again, where they picnicked on the floor.

Ginny, forking a roast potato regarded him curiously. “You know, I never did ask you why you have your own room,” she remarked.

He grinned. “I’m a Malfoy, Ginevra. I couldn’t be expected to sleep with the commoners. My father’s words,” he added hastily as she winced.

“Weren’t you ever… I don’t know, lonely?” she wondered.

He shrugged. “I never cared. I didn’t like anyone enough to want to share a dorm with them.”

Ginny brushed aside her doubts with a smile, telling herself that she was too tired to work out the enigma that was Draco Malfoy tonight, and pushed aside her empty plate, placing it in the basket. Draco stacked his on top of hers.

“Let’s go to bed,” he smiled. Yawning, Ginny nodded and went into the bathroom, where they both got changed separately. She came back in and they snuggled under the blankets together, Ginny as always sleeping in his arms.

“Goodnight,” he murmured.

“Night.”

***

Professor Dumbledore had, upon request, granted them a week off from studies to practice, so once again the five students met up, working on the spells that Ginny and Draco had noted down yesterday. Ginny mastered several nasty curses, and taught with much glee the rest of the group the Bat Bogey Hex. Ron gave a triumphant yell when he finally managed his; no longer was Ginny a threat to him.

Or, at least, not as much as one.

The day trundled by slowly, until come dinner time stomachs were once again growling. The group went downstairs and dined in the kitchen this time, not wanting to bother sitting with the other students. Ginny remembered that the professors were forcing all students (save them of course) to go on a night walk of the Forbidden Forest, and personally she couldn’t think of anything more boring.

Ginny listened as Harry, eyes gleaming, told a very funny story about his and Cho’s first date, and watched in wonder as Draco (Draco Malfoy, her mind squeaked over and over again) roared with laughter at Harry’s poor first dating skills. Ron told of, to the great amusement of all listening, the disastrous dance with Padma Patil and Draco related a hilarious story of Pansy Parkinson trying to get his attention.

Ginny did not talk much, instead watching as for the first time, the Slytherin and the Gryffindors actually got on- as friends, not allies. She smiled her way through dinner, laughing at the stories until finally (after Hermione told the incident of when Theodore Nott asked her out) Draco demanded a story from her.

She paused, wondering if she could find in her a story as amusing as the ones that had just been confided. Finally, a smile crept across her mouth.

“You all spoke of romance,” she said. “So I guess I will too. I’ll tell how Draco and I had our first incident this year.” Draco turned pink slightly- she guessed that he remembered the meeting too.

“It was after,” she smiled. “The time on the train where we had to share a compartment and Draco succeeded in freaking me out so well.” His foot linked around hers and she exchanged a wry glance with him.

“I got all scared, for no reason I guess, but the fact that this year wasn’t going to be a good one seemed clear to me and so I decided not to sleep in the Girls Dormitory; I went up to the Astronomy Tower and spent the night there instead. Anyway, next morning I was sitting on the windowsill and talking to myself, and then Draco appears at the door and frightens the life out of me.

“He started up a nice, friendly chat, as he was wont to do,” she continued, voice dripping with sarcasm. “And I - hilarious, witty I – told him to eff off. So then we got into a conversation about morals – and you know how similar we were in that respect – and Draco gave me a lecture, and then he sized me up.”

The trio gasped, and Hermione fell into peals of laughter. Ginny giggled her way through the rest of the story. “Yes! So I asked him what the hell he was doing, and he covered up pretty well by telling me he was trying to decide which curse could be used to better effect. And then I got pissed off and left. And that was the oh so very romantic first encounter this year.”

The group, excluding Draco, began to cry with laughter. “Now you’ve done it,” he said grumpily. “I’m going to have to cheer myself up now. Where do they keep the wine here?”

Hermione’s eyes flicked to his face quickly. “But we’re underage!” she protested.

“So?”

“I think it’s a great idea,” Ron exclaimed. “Only, why would they keep alcohol at a school?”

“The teachers,” Ginny grinned. “Keep a stack of it. If I can just remember…” She stood up, untangling her legs from Draco’s and tapped several stones on the wall. Finally a trapdoor slid open and Ginny descended the stairs, emerging triumphantly with two bottles of wine in either hand.

Ron hurried to find the goblets and Draco popped the corks out with a smile. “Well done, Gin,” he laughed and she smiled at him, automatically brushing hair out of his eyes and completely unaware of the wistful look she was getting from Hermione.

The more Hermione saw the pair together, the more she thought they were a charming couple. She noticed the little things they did without thinking, the affectionate touches, the way they looked at each other and how close they sat together. These reflections were always inevitably followed by a (by now) miserable daydream of her and Ron, yet she was beginning to think they would never be together.

Hermione was brought back to the present by the sloshing of wine pouring into a crystal goblet, and then handed to her by Ron. Her fingers brushed his for a moment, sending a pleasant tingle of electricity up her spine. His ears turned red but apart from that he showed no sign of having noticed the contact.

Draco clinked glasses with the group affably and then took an appreciative sip, the cool, flavorsome liquid sliding easily down his throat. Ginny nodded and smiled and the conversation resumed, the light hearted chatter filling the air.

Some half hour later Ginny was beginning to feel a little tipsy, so standing and swaying slightly she excused herself for the bathroom, noting with a rather lopsided grin that Ron and Hermione were sitting and talking animatedly in the corner, their own bottle of wine and glasses residing on a smaller table beside them.

“Now, don’t kill each other while I’m gone,” she instructed and Draco nodded enthusiastically. Ginny reminded herself to take him to bed soon, as he looked like he was nearing the all out drunk stage.

She slipped and swayed her way to the girls toilet, thankful that there was one on this floor and she was not being forced to climb any staircases. She looked at her happy face in the mirror briefly as she washed her hands and remembered again the apprehension that she had felt at the beginning of the year.

She wondered at it, for Ginny realised that though the year had contained heartbreak and fear and sorrow, it had also brought love, and friendship and…

Yes, true happiness. She was truly happy.

Ginny smiled dreamily and returned to the kitchen, where she found a strange scene.

In one corner, a group of worried house elves stood nervously, obviously searching for a polite way to ask them to leave. It was after all, they squeaked to themselves in search of a reason to be rude, past two in the morning and these Wizards and Witches showed no signs of leaving. Only Dobby seemed truly happy, cracking his long fingers in the joyful glee that comes when you are a natural optimist.

In the middle of the room, Harry and Draco were smashing a wishbone into the remainders of the chocolate pudding and giggling hysterically. Ginny briefly overheard the words ‘you evil villain, you are, you Lucius’ before it was once more drowned out by the clanging of the saucepan that Draco had somehow found and was banging in raucous tune to the theme of the Executioner’s drum.

Hermione was sitting on Ron’s lap in the other corner kissing him passionately. They might have been a young couple under only the influence of love (or lust) but for the fact that Ron had mashed potato in his hair that Hermione kept rubbing in when she came up for air, a broad, happy (drunk) smile on her face.

Ginny took in the scene, wondered briefly if she was drunker then she had believed, stepped outside, stepped back in again and then wracked her brains for what was the best way to sort all three situations at once.

She decided the quickest way would be to cast sobering up charms on everyone. Harry was easy, but Draco was more difficult.

“Nuh uh, Ginny,” he chided, waving a finger and slurring somewhat. “I decided to become drunk and I’m staying drunk.” Ginny, exasperated, turned away from him- after all, a drunken Draco was a gentle, conceding Draco and he would be easy enough to get to bed.

With a delighted smirk, Ginny quickly performed the charm on Hermione and Ron and watched with glee as they sprung apart.

“Oh my God!” shrieked Hermione.

“It’s okay!” shouted Ron, a bright shade of red. “We were drunk! It’s okay… let’s just go back to the Common Room, okay?”

Hermione nodded dismally, a fine pink dusting her cheeks.

With the trio gone, Ginny gently took Draco’s hand and the couple went back to the Slytherin Common Room, where Ginny went into the bathroom to change. She found Draco fully dressed lying spread-eagled on the bed. Blushing a little at the idea of changing him, Ginny tucked him in his clothes under the blankets, before sliding under herself.

The wine making her even more tired than usual, she closed her eyes quickly.

Yes, she decided as sleep claimed her. Tonight was definitely… fabulous!

***

In the Gryffindor Common Room, Harry had tottered up to bed but Ron and Hermione remained downstairs, taking awkward glances at each other.

“Ron?” Hermione squeaked finally. “I’m really sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“You were drunk, Hermione,” he shrugged. “We were drunk. No big deal.”

“It - it wasn’t a big deal?” she whispered sadly. Ron stood up and went in front of her.

“Did you want it to be a big deal, Hermione?”

She stood up indignantly only to find that they were far too close. She closed her eyes, took a breath and made the plunge. “Yes,” she mumbled.

His face cracked into a wide smile. “Well then,” he laughed. “Come here, sweet!” She looked up, surprised and Ron kissed her. As her arms snaked around his neck, she wondered if there had ever been a more perfect night. Her parents had always warned her against alcohol, but when push came to shove…

Well, she found red wine made her a hell of a lot happier.

***

Draco was woken up by someone persistently shaking his shoulders. He groaned as the person increased his splitting headache.

“Come on Draco,” laughed Ginny. “Time to practice dueling.”

“Ginny,” he croaked. “I have got the worst hangover in the world. Leave me here to die.”

Again the laugh. “It’s your fault,” she sniggered. “You wouldn’t let me perform the sobering up charm.” She muttered some words and the pain was gone. “There. Now come on.”

“Alright, alright… I’m getting dressed.”

He stood up and gazed bemusedly down. “I’m already dressed,” he mumbled.

Ginny quickly cast what was commonly known as a ‘spruce-up’ charm and the creases disappeared. He frowned at her, telling her he liked the ‘slobby’ look. She laughed and grabbed his arm, leading him up to the Room of Requirement.

The atmosphere was very relaxed this time. Hermione and Ron were in a world of their own, and somehow Harry had convinced Luna to skip school so she was here too. Ginny and Draco decided to have a little ‘conversation’ by themselves away.

The couples had finally gone back to the middle of the room at midday, and Harry had cleared his throat, deciding to tell them what spells they needed to work on.

And that was when the screaming started.

***

They moved as one to the window and saw the black masks mingling with the students out there for Herbology or Care of Magical Creatures. They stood stunned for a moment as more teachers ran out to help, as well as students; to fight or flee. Harry was the first to come to his senses - he pushed Luna out of the room, promising to meet her down there and with a loud crack Apparated.

Ron and Hermione with a frightened glance followed him, and it was only Draco and Ginny left. “I love you,” they said in unison and then with a tiny scared smile there were two loud cracks, and the room was empty.

***

Ginny appeared some meters from Draco but she quickly went to his side and as one they strode forward, wand out. She saw Harry fighting someone to the left and Hermione and Ron side by side to the right. She saw Luna Lovegood with her dreamy expression gone, leaving a hard face - pure will and ruthlessness. She saw Blaise Zabini running in the direction of the Forbidden Forest. She saw Dumbledore, his long white hair making him easily distinguishable, dueling someone ahead of her. As she watched, reinforcements for both sides arrived – the Order Apparating onto the grounds and Death Eaters appearing with a flash of blue; she guessed it was a new spell.

And the noise. She heard children screaming and the shouts and cold laughter of Death Eaters. She heard spells cracking and the agonizing death screams – already people were dead. The thought of death wandered vaguely across her mind. And then she heard Draco yelling her name and she ducked just in time to miss the green shot of light. She straightened and met the cruel eyes of a laughing Death Eater, and realised that she had almost been killed.

Rage took over her, and before she could stop and think she screamed “ADVADA KEDAVRA!” The Death Eater fell to the ground; no longer laughing and Ginny felt her insides heave. But Draco had grabbed her hand and tugged her forward and she had to swallow the bile rising in her throat and continue.

They tried at first to keep the shield around them at all times, but quickly they realised that it was too hard to have to keep lowering it to curse Death Eaters and then raise it again and it was using their energy up so they lowered it for once and for all and relied upon their wits. The Death Eaters did not fight only with wands; they had swords and daggers with them which they used mercilessly. Ginny stepped over countless student bodies, wide blank eyes staring up at her and every time her tears fell harder. She wiped them away angrily; they were obstructing her vision.

A Death Eater once sliced at her with a sword, ripping her robes open, cutting through her t-shirt so that it hung loosely on her, her shoulders the only thing stopping it from falling off completely. Draco had cursed the Death Eater before he could do any real harm but she was bleeding from a long gash just above her bra.

Ginny did not kill anyone again. Instead she used the Imperius charm as much as she could, sending them to the Forbidden Forest and bidding them to hide themselves until the battle was over, where they should return to her. She did not add that they were returning to death, or a life sentence in Azkaban.

After she had been fighting for some ten minutes she remembered something. Raising her wand, she shouted at her attacker: “EXPECTO FORTITUDE VALITURUS PATRONUM!” Just as Dumbledore had told her it would, the silver wolf jumped out of the tip of her wand and snarling, hurled itself into the fray.

As if on cue, the rest of the DA plus Draco and several teachers repeated the incantation and silver Patronus’s came leaping out of the wand. While some charged immediately into battle, others, like Hermione’s otter and Professor Sprout’s gentle mare went to find their respective magical people.

Her wolf and Draco’s Thestral leading ahead of them, the pair fought until Ginny’s breath came hard and fast. She was grateful for the cold weather; it froze the sweat on her, stopping it from dripping into her eyes. She lost count of the times Draco saved her or vise versa, and to her shame lost count of the bodies she had seen. She tried frantically to remember every face; they deserved to be remembered.

There was a sudden familiar scream, one that stood out to Ginny. She turned her head sharply and with a cry, cast the shield around her, running to the side of a freshly fallen body. Draco was at her side in moments, holding her tight, trying to turn her face away from the blank, staring eyes of Tara Elliot.

“No, no!” Ginny wailed. “Please no!”

Draco pulled her up fiercely. “Ginny!” he yelled, shouting above the noise of the fight. “I love you - but I can’t let you do this now! You have to go on! You must mourn later!”

Ginny turned painful eyes up to him. “Mourn,” she whispered, her breath coming shallowly. “Later.”

“Yes - come on Ginny!”

And so Ginny, with the strange feeling that a part of her had died re-entered the fight, pushing aside the warm, happy memories of Tara Elliot that threatened to overpower her… for now.

The battle increased with renewed fervor. Now, so many familiar faces were falling: Professor McGonagall, Dean Thomas, Sally-Anne Perks… Ginny’s lips were bleeding from her biting them but again and again she pushed aside all feeling, until all that was left in Ginny’s eyes was rage and a courage to go on…

She felt herself being abruptly pushed to the ground, and twisting her head painfully around she caught sight of another jet of green light flying over her. The muddy, bloody face of Harry Potter smiled grimly down at her. “Hold in there, Gin,” he whispered as he allowed her to stand again, and his voice was raw with pain and emotion.

Draco was dueling a Death Eater and Ginny rushed to his side; together, the pair defeated him again, and another Death Eater fell.

“He’s dead,” she choked. “We… killed him.”

Draco’s face was twisted with guilt and sorrow. “We didn’t mean to,” he cried. “We have to go on!”

Ginny nodded, tears pouring down her face. Two deaths! Cried her mind. How many more will I have on my conscience by the end of the battle?

The Death Eaters were gaining control of the battle, and now there were no first years left; save the few who had managed to flee, they were all dead. Ginny’s face contorted with pain and rage as she stepped over the countless bodies and she vowed that the Death Eaters would pay - but for every one she eliminated from the battle; whether by knocking them out or using the Imperius curse – or in the rare case, killing them – they killed another two students.

Ginny crumpled to the ground and Draco was instantly next to her. “What’s wrong?” he croaked. “Where are you hurt?”

Ginny turned her tear-stained, bloody, dirty face up to him. “I can’t do it anymore Draco! I can’t fight!”

He took her in his arms, casting the shield around them and trying to find words to tell her she had to continue fighting. How could he tell her to fight to the death? He wondered despairingly. He didn’t want to fight either. They were only kids, he told himself over and over again.

Suddenly there was a cry that went over the whole battle and for a moment the fighting ceased. Ginny and Draco looked up and there, wheeling overhead against the white sky in a blaze of crimson glory a Phoenix flew.

“Fawkes,” Ginny whispered, and she looked around and saw many of her friends and teachers crouched as she was, despairing, giving up hope. Yet the call of Fawkes sent courage and faith rushing into her heart and she felt as if she were bathed in warmth – and she staggered to her feet.

Fawkes’s song was suddenly joined by a long, clear note; a bugle. Ginny’s face broke into a smile as she saw on the outskirts of the Forest a great army of centaurs, holding swords and staffs; their own version of wands. As she watched the Patronuses cantered and ran and leapt to their side- and lo! Out of the lake the water was heaving and for the first time in Hogwarts History, the head, body and arms of the Giant Squid that had dwelt so long in the murky depths emerged, and at its side were mermen holding their own weapons. The Squid swam to the sides of the lake, and the army of centaurs and Patronuses charged.

And thus the odds of the battle turned and with renewed spirit the side of Light fought on. The squid hurled countless Death Eaters into the lake, reaching with its long arms from the bank and there they drowned or the mermen took them as hostage.

Ginny and Draco too fought with a never before known strength and vigor, and Ginny did not stop to think and mourn or fear; until she came face to face with a tall proud figure masked in a black cloak.

“Ginevra Weasley,” hissed the voice. “How pleasant to meet you again.”

Ginny felt shudders crawl up her spine as she averted her eyes from Lord Voldemort. She saw Draco shivering beside her, and then suddenly Harry was standing next to her.

“The odds are turning, Voldemort!” he shouted in a clear, strong voice. “You cannot win!”

“Ah, Harry Potter,” hissed the evil man. “You are mistaken for I cannot die.”

“Don’t you know the prophecy, Voldemort?” Harry yelled with more bravado than he felt. “None can live while the other survives! One of us has to die!”

“Yes,” cackled Voldemort. “Yes! Prepare to die Harry! ADVADA K-”

“STUPEFY!” bellowed Draco, and to Ginny’s delight the Dark Lord was forced to duck to miss the spell. “Listen to me Potter,” Draco whispered urgently while Voldemort regained his balance. “Go into his mind. Invade that way! Me ‘n Ginny will hold him off. Hurry!”

Harry looking extremely pale nodded and Draco without thinking hurled another curse at the leader. Ginny and Draco kept performing spell after spell while Harry cast a shield around himself and prepared to invade Voldemort’s mind. Ginny snuck a glance at him after a while and she realised that judging from the blank expression on his face he had succeeded.

Voldemort let out a screech of pain and dropped his wand, clawing at his head with his hands. Ginny and Draco smiled triumphantly and watched with wands raised as Harry attacked Voldemort again and again.

There was suddenly a burst of white light, and Voldemort shattered into a million flames, Harry withdrawing just in time. The snow put out the fire and for a moment there was complete silence as the wizarding world realised that Voldemort was gone – forever.

Then the shouts began again as many Death Eaters fled and some stayed to fight. Ginny was hugging Draco so tight, tears of sorrow and victory pouring down her face; and so she felt his body arch backwards – she heard his sharp breath - and she fell backwards with him too.

He lay on the ground with a little blood trickling out of his mouth. “Draco!” she cried. “Draco!”

“Ginny,” he whispered urgently. “Listen to me. I love you. I love you more than anything in the world.”

“What are you talking about?” she cried. “Draco, it’s going to be okay! We’ve won – he’s gone, he’s gone forever!”

“Ginny,” he murmured, voice so quiet that Ginny had to lean forward to hear him. “Ginny, it’s over for me.”

“No,” she sobbed. “No, please no! I’m going to save you!”

His face twisted painfully into a smile. “Let me go.”

“Never,” she cried. “Never!”

“Ginevra,” he said hoarsely. “Don’t I get… a goodbye kiss?”

Her whole body was shaking, but she leaned forward and placed her lips gently against his. He scarcely moved, but his breath came lightly and she could taste the saltiness of his blood. She felt his chest heave once more…

And then he was gone.

Ginevra Weasley did not see Hermione Granger fall, one of the last fatalities of the war. She did not hear the agonized cries of sorrow and victory. She did not know that the last Death Eaters were dead or captive.

All she knew was the unfairness and the terrible heartache that threatened to overcome her and the sad, wasted life of Draco Malfoy.

Authors Note: Please, please don't hate me. I cried my eyes out writing this part, and it hurt me much more! (My Draco! My poor baby!) It had to be done though; I knew from the beginning that he would die.

One chapter and the epilogue to go!


Chapter 18: Ever After
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Chapter Seventeen: Ever After

In the end, Dumbledore had to pry Ginny away from Draco’s body and lead her inside at well after midnight. The fight had gone for more than ten hours and the remaining two had seen Ginny clutching at the body of the man she loved, weeping. Dumbledore led her inside gently and as he did, her tears ceased and she found herself being walked into his office.

The room contained two other people; Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. Ron was sitting in a corner staring blankly at a wall while Harry paced back and forth, biting his lip. Harry looked up eagerly when Dumbledore entered and surveyed Ginny with horror.

Her robes were torn, hanging loosely around her as was her top and her jeans were ripped. An angry looking cut lay along her collar bone and her hands were bleeding from thousands of little cuts. She swayed slightly and her face was white, her bloody lips making a stark contrast. But, to Harry, the worst thing was her eyes. They were full of sorrow and rage and hate and Harry could not meet them for long before wrenching his gaze away. He was confused, for a moment – she couldn’t know about Hermione, surely? His eyes filled with tears again at the memory of his best friend and the slight smile that had tilted her lips as she fell, and the connection from her to Ron immediately made him glance at his friend anxiously – Ron had showed no sign of noticing anyone come in.

Turning his attention back to Ginny, Harry again pondered what could have made her so distraught. Malfoy will know, he decided and he peered over her shoulder…

But Draco was not there.

Realization hit him and at once he knew what had brought about Ginny’s grief – there was no doubt that the proud youth was dead. Harry couldn’t help but take a step backwards; another death, another life taken away so quickly.

“He’s dead, isn’t he?” Harry whispered.

Ginny ignored him for a moment, walking to the window and staring out into the black night. Although she could not see it, she knew that the bodies of many lay on the lawns, covered only by a blanket – sometimes with the house crest on it, sometimes with a gold to indicate an adult, or black; telling all who saw it that a Death Eater lay beneath it. Somewhere in the darkness of pain and grief that reigned over her mind she wondered at the irony of it; in death, the two enemies did what they could not in life, and lay side by side, each accepting their own fate…

Not like they had any choice, anyway.

“Ginny?”

Ginny turned her head to him heavily again. “Yes.” Her voice was dull and uncaring; it sent shudders crawling down Harry’s back for the umpteenth time that day. Harry looked down at his own grimy fingers and wondered at them; they had killed today, he reminded himself. They had killed.

“Was it worth it, Harry?”

Harry’s head jerked upwards suddenly and he watched her grimly. “Worth what?”

“The death of one man. One man – evil, yeah, but still just one man. Was it worth so many deaths? Was it worth his death?”

Harry stared at her wordlessly, unable to answer her. He opened his mouth and shut it again, repeating the process several times until finally he spoke. “No more innocent deaths, Gin. We don’t have to live under that shadow. Draco died freeing us.”

She turned to him and for a moment anger flared in her eyes. “You think I care? Harry, I would have had them win if he was alive. I wouldn’t care. I’d give you-know-who life again if it would bring him back.”

She seemed unable to say her love’s name and it hurt Harry to hear her broken talk. “Everybody’s lost, Gin. You’re not the only one. One of my best friends is dead…” his voice broke and he trailed off.

Ginny’s eyes flicked to Ron, and from process of elimination she realized that Hermione was dead too. A sob welled within her but did not emerge; she held it in and nodded dully. She sat on the windowsill again, head in her hands and Harry turned away from her. The room was silent; a room of despair and grief and pain.

“Was it worth it?” Harry repeated hoarsely. “No. Of course it wasn’t.”

***

At Draco Malfoy’s birth, his mother prophesized that none would mourn at his death save one. Ginevra Weasley proved once and for all that the prophecy was truly broken, and at his funeral more then two hundred people showed in the large church. However, in the front row sat only two; Ginny and Pansy clung to each other, trying to come to terms with the fact that Draco was gone forever, never coming back. Their tears fell throughout the service until at the end, when Ginny stood white-faced and limped to the front. She sat down and adjusted the microphone, and people prepared themselves for her speech, knowing she could not stand with a twisted ankle that she had got in the fight.

Yet they were wrong. At a wave of the priests wand, an object materialized in the air; Ginny’s cello. She stooped for a moment and unzipped the case, pulling the wooden instrument out with gentle care. There was a tense, waiting silence in the chapel and Ginny fulfilled her promise to Draco as she began to play.

It was a mournful dirge and brought tears to the eyes of all who heard it; only Ginny stopped crying, chewing on her lip and letting the notes stream out from her. Her body curved around the majestic instrument and the people wept and Ginny felt too keenly the empty space beside her where Draco should be.

***

The four houses of Hogwarts disbanded after the Final Battle. Most of the students mingled in to the Gryffindor, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw Common Rooms; they were comfortable and warm unlike the damp dungeon that Slytherin’s had abided in for so long. Yet the Slytherin Common Room was not empty; there was still one resident.

Ginny Weasley still slept in Draco’s bed, wondering often how his scent could still be on the sheets, after so many weeks without him. She did not understand how she could go on; yet, after the loneliest Summer Holidays ever, Ginevra returned to Hogwarts.

She became a healer, of sorts. She became an expert at Potions and even reached an understanding with Professor Snape. They would spend hours in silence brewing potions for Madame Pomfrey and when Ginny’s tears fell, Severus Snape understood and did not try to use stilted words to bring her comfort. They worked on; and that was exactly what Ginny wanted.

She was the best at making a Dreamless Sleep Potion. She needed it; every night she took it so that she would not be wracked with nightmares of Draco’s death; of his final smile; of the bitter taste in his mouth as he died. Yet her body, as bodies do, became accustomed to the potion and began to get immunity to it. Ginny woke screaming, and this time Draco was not there to draw her into his arms and comfort her.

Her grades began to fail, except in Potions. She could not find it within herself to study anymore; instead she spent most of her free hours in the graveyard that Hogwarts had erected, several kilometers away from the school. There, Death Eaters and students were buried alike, and though Ginny spent most of her time there by Draco’s grave. She knew his epitaph off by heart:

Draco Malfoy
1980-1997
I’ll love you forever
I’ll miss you forever

It was not the only grave she visited however; she attended always to the mounds of the Death Eater’s she had killed… Wondering of their wives and children; whether they had had them – where they were now. Did their families hate her?

Her whole life seemed to be a question now. She no longer knew what she was here for… Ginny had become a lost soul, drifting from place to place with no purpose in life. The shocking amount of deaths had taken a lot out of her; and unlike Harry and Ron, she could not bury the memories of the people with laughter and mourning.

She dyed all her clothes black one day, thinking with a sudden pang how cliché Draco would have found it. But she did not like the colours anymore and her old favourite colour; the warm red that she had once loved reminded her too much now of blood. The blood that had soaked the ground, after the battle.

She spent many hours in the forest, knowing that the Centaurs would protect her and wishing that people didn’t feel the need to protect her. Yet they did. There had been a number of suicides after the battle and Ginny was monitored closely.

Astoundingly, Dumbledore was still alive, now one hundred and sixty years old. Yet his age was beginning to show, and there had been talk of appointing a new Headmaster or mistress of the school and letting him rest. Yet Dumbledore’s eyes still sparkled occasionally.

A plaque had been put up in the great hall with the hundreds of names of the fallen. Draco’s name was near the top; often Ginny levitated a box and climbed onto it, tracing her fingers over the carved bronze letters again and again. Draco Malfoy, 1980-1997. Neville’s name was there too; Dumbledore said that there were many victims in a war.

Draco Malfoy, 1980-1997. It had become a mantra in her head, sounding in her footsteps, in the chatter of those around her. She knew the other students thought her strange; she didn’t care.

One winter day she stood by his grave, watching the flecks fall onto the marble tombstone. She heard footsteps behind her, crunching in the soft white covering but didn’t look around.

“Hello Ginny,” came Harry’s warm voice.

“Harry.”

“We’re going to Hogsmeade, Gin. D’you want to come?”

“No.” she didn’t have to think about it.

“Oh come on, Gin. You know me ‘n Ron can’t come to Hogwarts much, what with him keeper for the Canons and me in the Ministry. Please?”

She turned slowly and met his earnest eyes with a heavy heart. “I can’t, Harry. Please don’t ask me.”

“Gods, Ginny, don’t you think this charade has gone long enough?” he exploded suddenly.

“By ‘charade’ I take it you mean my love’s death?” Her voice was very quiet, and Harry had to strain to hear it.

“Gin, you have to let it go! He’s going to have been dead a year, in a couple of months! Don’t you think it’s time you’ve done grieving?”

“Are you done grieving then, Harry?” Her voice was harsher then she meant. “You’re over Hermione? You don’t care she’s dead anymore?”

He flinched at her name. “That’s a little unfair, Ginny.”

Her eyes saddened. “Yes, I know. I’m sorry. But I can’t come. Sorry.”

Harry touched her cheek with his gloved finger. “We worry about you Ginny.” On an impulse, he hugged her tight, and to his surprise she let him, listlessly standing in his embrace.

“Goodbye, Harry. Have a nice time.” The polite words fell out of her mouth dully and Harry sighed, meeting her brown eyes – no longer warm as they once were.

“Bye Gin. Look after yourself.”

She appreciated the irony of this and her mouth twisted up into a bitter smile. He shuddered slightly at it, wondering where the sweet Ginny Weasley had gone.

Not that I need to wonder, he berated himself mentally. Ginny had turned and was once more reading the lines on the headstone, over and over again. She did not hear his crisp footfalls leaving.

A/N: I'M SORRY SO SO SO SO SORRY!!!!! Forgive me, o faithful readers!

The Epilogue will be up as soon as this is approved.


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