fienabler (fienabler) wrote in dgficexchange,
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greyskygirl wrote "Under the Night Sky" for rarity

Title: Under the Night Sky
Rating: R
Possible Spoilers/Warnings: None!
Author’s Note: I didn’t hit the rating, but hopefully the rest is satisfactory. At the very least, I had enormous fun writing it, so thank you, Mystery Prompter!
Summary: After the war, Ginny Weasley is prepared to wage a battle of her own - to fight for forever with the man she loves.

Under the Night Sky


She still spent too much time watching the stars. It had been months and felt like longer, and this small escape remained a part of her daily routine. But it comforted her, and there were few who would begrudge her that, even if they didn’t understand the reasons behind it.

She thought it funny, somehow, that the only one who would begrudge her this bit of relief was always the one who found her, perched in her tree, as far from the house as the wards would allow.

“Harry,” she said without turning, hearing the leaves crunch under his feet as he approached. His sigh traveled up from the ground to her branch, and she tried (failing, as always) to keep her face neutral as she jumped down. Ginny noticed his frustration – another constant in their routine – first, and then she saw the parchment in his hand.

Any attempt at neutrality fell away.

"You have news?" she asked, hating the breathlessness she couldn't keep from her voice. It pained her to know she was still hurting Harry, but the man he'd become was not the boy she'd loved. That she was just as changed was no hindrance for Harry, who had yet to notice.

Wordlessly, Harry thrust the parchment at her. "A location," he said, his words clipped. "But it's not exactly solid intelligence we're dealing with, Gin. It could mean nothing."

Or it could mean everything. Ginny realized that she was starting to crumple the note in her suddenly sweaty palm and carefully relaxed her grip. She glanced down, reading the single word scrawled in pencil, starting to blur away.

"Cornwall." She was already in motion, and Harry's arm shot out to stop her.

"It's not enough to go on," he said decisively. "It could be Falmouth, or Bodmin Moor, or it could be misdirection. You can't go haring off on a blind search. That's mad."

Mad would be not to go, not to try. The last three months had been an oubliette of doubts and darkness, and anything she could do to climb out was easily more rational than spending any more pointless time in a tree.

Ginny smiled, and Harry took a step back. He didn't know the woman before him, charged with determination. She brushed a hand over his shoulder as she stepped past him.

"I have to do this," she murmured, and then it was her feet crunching the leaves as she walked briskly to the house, her purpose running on a loop in her head.

Pack. Go.

Find Draco.

---

Ten months ago, Ginny had been merely passing time, drifting. Colors seemed a little less bright; the sun didn't appear to warm her as much as she'd expect. She couldn't put her finger on the cause - even though her mum had a ready, green-eyed answer to offer - she knew only that she was bored. In the two years since she'd left Hogwarts, she'd bounced from job to job, never finding anything that fit. Or that she fit at. Everyone else she knew was settling down somehow, and here she was, living with her parents. She wasn't unhappy there, but the more self-reflection she allowed herself, the more Ginny realized that simply not being unhappy was an unworthy goal. The war had taken many things from many people; in the Great Hall, just after the battle, she would never have guessed that her sense of purpose might be her greatest loss.

Tonight, she'd Apparated just outside of Grimmauld Place, having given the excuse that she was visiting Harry without any real intention of doing so. She'd felt restless - more than usual - at the Burrow, and she turned quickly from Harry's front steps, walking away. The night was cool, and Ginny smiled with pleasure as the air rushed over her skin. After walking for several blocks, she realized she was drawing close to St. Mungo's and made a quick turn, heading down an unfamiliar street.

The sky was starless to her eyes; London’s lights obscuring everything.

She realized that the dark London street was unnaturally quiet when she noticed that she could hear, quite distinctly, the click of her boots on the sidewalk. And then the streetlight she was passing under abruptly guttered out, leaving her in a patch of darkness. Pulling her cloak more securely around her, she walked on, quickening her pace to reach the next light. When it, too, guttered out, she slipped a hand into the folds of her cloak and wrapped her fingers around her wand. Head down, she walked on, and when the third light winked out above her head, she whirled around, pointing her wand toward the shadowed alley that seemed the likeliest threat.

Ron was fond of telling her that her instincts were solid but her timing was shoddy, a theory she'd been happy to disprove in Quidditch. It seemed to bear up here, though, as heavy footsteps sounded behind her and a thick arm knocked her wand away before settling around her neck.

"Hold still, pretty," a gravelly voice murmured as Ginny struggled madly, trying and failing to loosen the rough grasp. "I'd hate to snap your neck by accident."

Ginny stilled, trying to calm herself enough to think. She could smell Firewhisky and smoke as the stranger breathed heavily on her neck. Drunk, then - maybe coming from the pub around the corner. His intentions might be less sinister than his actions indicated.

"Look," Ginny started, searching her memories for every bit of advice her brothers had ever given on handling such a situation, "I'm sure you don't really want to do this."

The answering chuckle made her feel as if things were crawling on her skin, and the shudder that rolled through her was impossible to hide. That cut off the stranger's amusement, and he moved, towing her with him toward the alley. "Oh, that's where you're wrong," he answered thickly, and the panic flooded her body. Drunk or not, she was completely clear on his intentions now, and she could not let herself be dragged away. As her heels dragged against the pavement, she opened her mouth to scream, only to find the space filled by a rough hand.

"Bad idea," he warned, and Ginny clamped her teeth down on his greasy skin. He swore, loosing his grip on her enough to spin her around. She caught a glimpse of a darkly furious face before his wounded hand slammed into her cheek. She staggered backward, gasping, and was abruptly yanked further back by a new assailant. Now she screamed, but it came out in a low, sobbing wail.

There was a shape - a tall, lean man - standing in front of her, facing the original attacker. She could see a wand under his cloak, but he hadn't reached for it. "Seems you're the one with the bad idea," he said in a steel voice, and Ginny saw that though he looked relaxed, he was anything but. When the other man grunted and lunged forward, the tall man made an elegant chopping motion with one arm, and his hand connected with the attacker's windpipe. The man wheezed out a pained grunt and retreated. It was over so quickly; she might have believed it a figment of her imagination, but for the terror screaming through every cell of her body.

Now, Ginny's shaking legs collapsed beneath her, and she crumpled onto the sidewalk. Then her rescuer was there, crouching down in front of her, briskly running his hands lightly over her arms and legs. Seeing if she was whole, Ginny thought blurrily. No such luck.

"Are you all right?" she dimly heard him ask, and she shook her head, trying to clear it. She saw him frown as he bent closer.

"Ginny," he said clearly. "Are you all right?"

At the sound of her name, she looked up, awash in confusion. The voice was unfamiliar, but as the man's features swam into focus, Ginny choked back a gasp of shock. Grey eyes, the sort that saw everything in a glance. The palest blond hair she'd ever seen. It made no sense, but she knew what - who - she was seeing.

"Malfoy?"

A quirk of his lips was the only answer she received, and he repeated his question again. "Are you all right?"

Shakily, Ginny took inventory. Racing heart, ragged breathing, and a dull pain at her throat - but she was all right. And she owed that to this familiar stranger, a man she both knew and didn't. She nodded. "I'll do."

"Good," Malfoy said softly, and then he glanced down the street. "I have to go." He stood, and then bent again, stretching out a hand. Ginny put her still-trembling fingers into his, and he raised her gently to her feet. "Be well, Ginny Weasley. And be careful of men in the shadows."

And then he was going, striding the way Ginny had come, fading into the patch of black where the lights had gone out.

"Malfoy!" she called, wincing at the effort it took to project her voice. She barely saw him pause and turn back, a dark blur waiting in the distance. "Thank you," she whispered, knowing that he still heard her. She thought his head dipped slightly before he turned again, took two steps, and disappeared.

Gathering herself, Ginny turned the other way, and headed toward the light.

---

The next hour had passed in a blur. Ginny stuffed some necessities into a knapsack, lied openly to her mother, and Flooed to Ron's flat.

"I need a Portkey," she said as she stepped out of the fireplace, interrupting Ron's after-dinner snack. She saw him start to form a question around the mouthful of food and waved him quiet. "To Cornwall. As quickly as you can."

Ron swallowed, his eyes wide and confused. "Gin - what? Why do you ..." He stopped, and she watched the realization wash over his face. He knew very little of the situation - she'd spared him details and saved herself a long lecture - but he knew who she was searching for.

"There's no time!" Ginny burst out. "It's already been too long; I might already be too late. Ron. Please."

Her brother studied her face, and then sighed. He rose (far too slowly for Ginny's liking) and opened a cabinet drawer that was filled to bursting with a strange assortment of small items. Ron removed a simple silver band and turned back.

"Cornwall, you said?" At her nod, he bent over the ring, wand in hand, and muttered the necessary incantation. "I'm giving you a day, Gin," he said seriously, slipping the ring onto her finger. "Twenty-four hours, and then it'll bring you back. No funny business, no taking the ring off. If you're not back in my kitchen tomorrow night, I'll come after you, and you know what my priority will be."

She wanted to protest that a day wasn't enough, that she only had the vaguest bit of information, and then she sank into a chair, nodding again, concentrating on the coolness of the silver on her skin. It was a chance, and that was more than she'd had yesterday.

"It'll put you at the edge of Falmouth," Ron continued, some of the harsh edge slipping out of his voice. "You can go where you like from there - maybe talk to some Muggles to see if they've noticed anything, though I doubt it," he said, rolling his eyes.

She reached out, covering his hand with hers. "Thank you, Ron," she said fervently. "I know you don't - can't - understand. But ... thank you."

He tugged her into his arms then, giving her a hard hug. "Be safe," he warned her. "I'm not telling Mum you ran off to Cornwall and got lost."

Lost? Hardly. Nearer to finding Draco meant she'd be nearing to finding herself again. The sense of relief wasn't something she could explain, but she felt it keenly.

"When do I leave?" she asked, and Ron quickly released her, swearing as his eyes darted to the clock.

"Buggering -- now!"

Ginny felt the tug as she began to whirl away, and she smiled as the room began to dissolve.

I'm coming.

---

The faint bruises on her neck were far quicker to fade than the troubling memories. Two weeks after - just after, she'd forced herself to stop remembering it as an attack, she was fine - the most distinct part of the memory was her strange savior. She hadn't given him a thought after the final battle, beyond hearing Harry and Ron toss his name around from time to time. He certainly owed her family no debts, but now she owed him one. It felt weightier than mere gratitude, though, the feeling in her chest. And his warning was still ringing in her ears.

"...be careful of men in the shadows."

She was sick of careful.

She took another walk.

It took less than a dozen steps down that same sidewalk before she heard a velvety murmur slide over her shoulder.

“I might accuse your brother of being thick, but I’d given you a bit more credit. Have you forgotten what I told you?” The voice – his voice – managed to sound both amused and chiding at once.

Ginny turned slowly, a half-smile forming on her lips.

“Draco,” she greeted him, deliberately using his first name. She ignored his question; she had queries of her own.

Why did you help me? How did you know? Why are you here, again? And why can’t I seem to catch my breath?

Not quite right for an opening sally. “Do you come here often?”

“Often enough to rescue silly girls who should know better than to walk alone at night, it would seem.” He tilted his head to appraise her. “I hadn’t pegged you as silly.”

“I wouldn’t have thought you’d have pegged me as anything,” Ginny said bluntly, watching as a smile curved Draco’s lips.

“Maybe we’re both wrong,” he said, holding out a hand to gesture her forward. They walked for several blocks, moving quickly from polite conversation into comfortable sharing. Although all the sharing was on Ginny’s part, she thought the comfort, at least, was mutual.

Ginny talked about her family with greater ease than she would have imagined, and when she paused for a breath, Draco smiled down at her and laid his hand lightly on her shoulder, halting her in place.

He had somewhere to be, someone to be seeing. He didn’t offer details, and Ginny bit back the urge to ask. She turned away, feeling oddly bereft, and the quiet music of his voice reached her ears again.

“Tomorrow night, then?”

She calmed her wide smile into pleasant acceptance before looking over her shoulder and nodding.

They walked every night for a week: Ginny opening her soul like a budding flower, Draco drinking her in like rain. It became easier to tell him things as she avoiding asking him to reciprocate. He always left first, but he was always back the next night.

The first time he kissed her, she had mud on her face. They were walking in the rain, and Ginny had tilted her face up to Draco’s, laughing. Her foot landed in a deceptively deep puddle, and she lost her balance. He hauled her up quickly, laughing openly at her mortification, and then his look turned serious.

Her hand was already reaching up to wipe her cheeks when his mouth covered hers, and it seemed natural enough to find purchase in his pale, silky hair. Her lips parted eagerly, and as they tangled together, Ginny felt herself shiver.

“Cold?” Draco murmured, pulling back only slightly. She shook her head, reaching for him again.

These were his secrets – this was everything she’d wanted to know. His lips on hers answered every question with a short word she could hardly fathom: love.

It sounded as wrong to Ginny as it would have to a stranger. Too soon. Nothing in common. No possibility of a happy ending. And still she met Draco’s searching lips, knowing all that mattered was her heart’s stuttering beat and the warmth that spread through her body when they were together.

Happy endings were never what anyone thought they’d be, anyway; she should know. It was long past time to write her own way.

That night, it took him longer to part from her.

The next night, he took her with him.

The flat he led her to was sparse, nothing like she’d imagined. Whereas Draco defied her every imagining, putting even her most glorious daydreams to shame.

It wasn’t the fact that he was beautiful, though he was. Handsome didn’t cover it. And graceful, but in such a way that it added to his masculinity, rather than detracted. She could have simply watched him for hours, but he wasn’t about to allow her to take such a passive role.

He loved her, and he told her so through the entire night, with his hands, his mouth, and his every ragged breath. Ginny delighted in the feel of him – against her, inside her, everywhere. When she could form a coherent thought, it occurred to her how simple a thing happiness was. She’d been making it so hard.

Loving Draco Malfoy was easy. The realization made her laugh softly to herself, and the object of her musings woke abruptly as she giggled helplessly against his chest. It took only a second for him to wake, a second more for him to act.

As he pinned her quickly beneath him, her laughter faded into breathlessness. The joy lingered, and threatened to change her life irrevocably.

---

It took a moment for Ginny to orient herself. She was, as Ron had promised, at the edge of town. The smell of seawater hung faintly in the air, and it was nearing full dark.

She knew she wouldn’t find him here. Too many people, too many Muggles. That didn’t mean there was no help to be had. Squaring her shoulders, Ginny walked toward a group of people chatting boisterously outside a pub.

They looked up with varying degrees of interest as she approached. “Help you, love?” one asked, sliding his gaze over her appraisingly.

She forced the smile to stay on her face, kept her voice light. “I hope so! I’m looking for something.”

The slimy grin that followed her statement made her stomach churn, and she hurried on. “An old building, I think? Not here in town, but somewhere ‘round here. I’m not really sure. See, one of my schoolmates is from around here, and she always talked about a place she used to play. I can’t quite remember where she said it was, but I was really hoping to see it. I don’t suppose you’d have any ideas?”

This was desperation – fabricating a story, stabbing around blindly for clues that might not exist, all toward the end of finding a place that he might not be.

The men frowned, all of them looking confused, and Ginny was ready to thank them and move on when one raised his head.

“On the moor, innit? Or used to be. I know the place – or knew it. I was by there a month ago, and … I could’ve sworn there was a shack between the two tallest hills. Sat empty for years; nobody took much notice. But it’s not there now,” he shrugged. “There’s nothing there, like it just stopped being.”

He looked embarrassed at having said so much, and ducked his head. “Anyway, miss, I think you’re out of luck. But if you wanted to see where it was, it’d be a bit of a hike. ‘Bout 10 miles, and of course you’d never find your way there in the dark.”

Ginny bit her lip, mentally running through the timeline. If she set out at first light, she’d have a few hours of hiking to do. She could find this shack (sounded like it was under some sort of concealment charm) and make a plan. Until then, though …

“Is there an inn nearby?”

They pointed the way, and Ginny quickly booked a room. She left her things on the bed and went to the window. Here the sky was clear enough to see for miles, but the cloudless night held no interest. It was Draco’s face she saw.

Ginny curled up on the bed and waited for morning.

---

They went on that way for weeks, until more and more of Ginny’s nights (as well as her heart) belonged to Draco.

On what she did not know what their last night together, Ginny woke first. Her index finger was tracing lazy circles on his shoulder blade before she was even fully awake. She didn’t need to watch him sleep, didn’t need to see his chest rise and fall. This was her confirmation that he was real and really hers. Touch had never betrayed her; what she felt, both under her fingertips and in her heart, was all the reassurance she needed.

As she pressed her lips to the point where his heart beat, it occurred to her that he tasted like moonlight - silvery and pure, beautiful and perfect.

"Mmm," Ginny murmured against his shoulder. "Let's stay like this forever."

She felt him stiffen and pull away as the syllables crossed her lips. She watched, confused but not yet worried, as he rolled away and stood up. He rolled his shoulders, apparently trying to rid himself of the sudden tension she could see in his frame.

He sighed, and Ginny fought the urge to hold her breath as he turned to her, looking serious and … a bit sad, she thought.

"Forever doesn't last," he told her without bitterness, seeming to look down on her from a great height. "People can't be faithful to each other. And if this isn't forever, then I don't see the point of going on."

Maybe there had been questions to ask of him, after all.

Are you happy? Can you possibly know how much you mean to me?

She’d never thought the answers would break her heart.

"You wouldn't, would you?" Ginny said tiredly, thinking that she always seemed to love him most at the moments it seemed most hopeless to go on loving him. "Things only have worth to you as long as they're shiny. I thought being with me might teach you otherwise, but you haven't really been with me, have you? You've just been expecting this to end."

She stood, smoothing the sheets and erasing the impressions she'd left. "Muggles don’t believe in magic because they haven’t seen it," she said, with a smile that twisted her insides to give him. "But we live it, so it’s easy for us. We are magic.

“It’s the same thing with forever, I think. We haven’t seen it, so it’s harder to believe. But there are Muggles who believe in magic. And I … I believe in forever. At least I have since you stepped out of the shadows and saved me.”

Draco shook his head, displaying for the first time the haughtiness she remembered from Hogwarts. “It would be that easy – for you.” His tone was venomous. “You’re not the one who’s had to go around rewriting history to make people think better of you. Muggles believe in magic because they’ll believe in anything to distract themselves from reality. Maybe it’s the same for you.”

A hot flush of anger turned Ginny’s cheeks a vibrant red. She stepped closer, until she was mere inches from Draco’s face. “That’s what you think? That you’ve been a distraction for me? That this is something I’m playing at to make myself feel better? You’re half-right there, I suppose. Being with you feels better than anything has in years. I was stupid to think you felt the same.”

She moved around the room quietly, gathering her things. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Draco step toward her once, and then he retreated, masking the emotion she’d glimpsed. Good.

It didn’t matter what he might feel. He didn’t believe. At least that was what she told herself as she shut the door slowly and deliberately behind her and walked down their street alone.

---

Before the sun had fully decided whether or not to make its presence known, Ginny was making her way to the moor, following the instructions she’d been given.

“All the way through the forest, until you see the hills. It was there, snug between the base of them. There was always a big patch of heather just outside the door – look for that.”

He’d added that he hoped she found what she was looking for, and she’d had to swallow around the lump in her throat before she could thank him.

The forest was shaded – green and lovely, too, had she been in a mood to notice – and she walked quickly. Not knowing what awaited her made planning nearly impossible, so she spent the hours reflecting on the last months, and what she now knew about Draco.

It had been Ron who’d told her, after she’d given him carefully edited details about her recent dealings with Draco. As it turned out, he’d been in Ron’s thoughts of late, too, though for vastly different reasons than her own.

“We think he’s been mucking about with people’s memories,” Ron told her. “Going around to people who were finally about to go to trial, and … well, he’s been removing himself. His parents, too. From what they know. People we know were involved with Malfoy – Lucius – are now telling us, under Veritaserum, that they never heard anything about Lucius Malfoy being anywhere near Voldemort. The common thread is Draco, Gin. They all remember meeting up with Draco recently, having a nice chat, and that’s all. Nothing in the last five or six weeks, though.”

She murmured something appropriate about how wrong it was to modify someone’s memory, kissed his cheek, and wandered to her room. Now she understood that strange comment he’d made during that last awful fight. And it all made sense.

He didn’t want any part of tying her to him because he didn’t think he deserved her. But he wanted to – she felt the truth of it in her bones. He’d done these things to put his past behind him in the only way he could see. He wanted their future, but he wanted it to be better.

The awful sluggishness she’d been feeling for weeks was easy to shake off then. She’d let her pain make her lazy, and maybe she’d waited too long. But then the rest of Ron’s words came rushing back.

“Nothing in the last five or six weeks.”

Nothing since around the time she’d last seen him. Now it was dread washing over her. If she knew he loved her, then she knew it was wrong that he hadn’t tried to fix this. And she knew it was something darker than pride keeping him away.

She’d flown back down the stairs to Ron, forcing him to listen to her theory. If the Ministry had gotten wind of Draco’s activities, it was reasonable to think that others had, too. And those others would be even less forgiving.

It was then that she’d started climbing a tree to get a better view of the sky. Weeks passed, and then finally, Harry came, holding the first clue he or Ron had been able to find.

Her mind had wandered while her feet carried her forward, and suddenly, Ginny was steps away from the edge of the forest. A bolt of adrenaline coursed through her as two hills came into view. Cautious now, though every cell thrummed with nervous energy, she stopped.

There was heather, a large purple patch of it, just where it should have been. Which meant the shack was directly behind. Though she could see nothing, she felt sure it was there, but there was no way to know who was inside. Draco could be there, or he could not. Ginny glanced up at the sun, not quite at its highest point. She had time.

She stepped backward, slid down against the nearest tree, and waited. For hours, she listened to the sounds of the forest and debated her next move.

The decision was made simple when two men appeared in the heather patch. They shimmered slightly, as if they’d been somewhere else a second ago, somewhere else she couldn’t see. Ginny straightened, tensing, and then her foot betrayed her, crunching a small stick into oblivion. The sound echoed, and the men pivoted instantly, staring straight at her.

Instinctively, Ginny turned, hurtling through the brush. She ran as hard as she could, and then she ran harder. The branches tore at her arms, but she ignored the stinging pain and sprinted on. Even as she crashed through knee-high brambles, she was listening as carefully as she could. Were they gaining? Surrounding her?

She had to make it out of here; she had to go back for Draco.

A hurried glance over her shoulder was all it took to fell her. Her left foot failed to clear a tree trunk and Ginny immediately knew she was falling. Forcing herself to think through the panic, she tried to tuck herself into a ball and roll. The manuever was partially successful; she ended in an awkward crouch, but facing forward, instead of backward as she'd intended. Immediately, she twisted around, desperate to meet her pursuer head-on, now that escape was clearly impossible. As she turned, she froze in place (a necessity, since a cloaked figure was pointing a wand directly at the hollow of her throat).

Ginny blanched, then squinted. She hadn't hit her head, but it seemed improbable at best to believe in what she was seeing. Still, though, she peered at the figure before her and then raised a hand from her side. Testing her theory, she gripped the wand at her throat and pushed it away, meeting no resistance.

"Oh," she managed, her breath coming in ragged pants. "Draco. Hi."

His eyes were wild as he stood over her, and she took a moment to breathe him in. His normally lean frame was thinner than she remembered, to the point of gauntness, and she wanted to sob at the way his clothes hung on him. She could see the exhaustion etched into his face, and the shadows beneath his eyes looked like permanent additions.

“Hi,” he echoed, with a trace of disbelief. He was angry – she could see it in every taut line of his body. It practically radiated from him. Months, it had been months since they’d seen each other, and when she had her first opportunity to look on his well-loved face, he was furious. With her. “I suppose it’s too much to ask what in the hell you’re doing here? This isn’t a game, Ginny.”

That was all it took for her sense of relief to give way to her temper. He was alive – no real thanks to her, though of course it was why she had come: to save his sorry, ungrateful life – and they had a chance to undo this dreadful mess they’d knotted for themselves, and he thought she was playing games?

“Bastard,” she hissed, balling her fists to keep from forcibly making him see reason. “Moron. I couldn’t have loved someone worthy, could I? Someone who understood things. I came to find you, you arse. I know what you’ve been doing, and I know why. And so I figured I’d rather not have you die before I got to tell you that.”

That shut him up. He gaped at her, and she could have laughed – would have, in another situation – at seeing him so completely flustered. His jaw worked strangely and then he regained himself somewhat. He didn’t quite manage a smirk before they could hear, in the distance, the sounds of shouting voices.

This wasn’t over.

"They want me," Draco said flatly, and not for the first time, Ginny inwardly cursed the stupid nobility of men.

She squared her shoulders, held her ground. "So do I," she said emphatically.

He looked at her hard, and she met his gaze, willing her emotions to be transparent. She wasn't leaving him. Wasn't going to run away and save herself. Here, with him, was the only place she could think of being.

"I'll be damned," Draco said, in a tone she didn't recognize. She heard surprise, bewilderment, acceptance, and maybe even a bit of awe in those short words. "You're going to make me believe it, aren't you?"

"Believe ... what?"

"In forever."

His timing was as rotten as hers, apparently. They were fleeing from people who meant them the worst sort of harm, and here Ginny stood, tears welling in her eyes as joy flooded her senses.

"Well, you might as well," she offered jauntily, swiping at a tear. "I always have."

A brilliant smile lit his face, and Ginny's brain whirled. Not like moonlight at all, she thought, completely dazzled. He's the sun.

And then he grabbed her hand and they were running. As weak as Draco looked, it was all she could do to keep pace with him. The footsteps and voices behind them grew ever louder, and even when she started to falter and Draco was forced to yank her along, they kept going. They had to.

When her jog became a graceless stumble, Draco lifted her into his arms. She tried to protest, but he was already moving. Ginny twisted her head to look over his shoulder and saw the two wizards still coming, winding through the trees in pursuit.

They had taken a different angle through the woods than Ginny’s earlier route, because over the wild beating of her heart, Ginny could hear water.

“Let me down,” she ordered. “I can run.”

Wordlessly, Draco set her down and grabbed her hand once more. In a few more steps, they found themselves at the edge of an outcropping of rock. Below – many, many feet below – was the river.

Desperately, Ginny glanced back, peering through the shadows. “We have to jump,” she whispered, squeezing Draco’s hand.

He drew her into his arms roughly, brushing his lips over hers in the sweetest kiss she could remember. And then, still holding her tightly, he jumped.

The water was frigid, and the impact was hard, but Ginny came up sputtering, spitting out water, still firmly wrapped in Draco’s arms. They were being pulled downstream, and as Ginny focused, she realized that the sun had disappeared. Dark. Night. Twenty-four hours.

The thoughts came in staccato bursts, and she grabbed desperately for Draco’s hand, twining it with hers, making sure he was touching the silver band. A heartbeat later, Ginny felt the tug that would save their lives.

The look on Ron’s face when they appeared in his kitchen, dripping wet and clinging desperately to each other, was nothing compared to the look on Draco’s when he realized where they were. He inclined his head at Ron, murmured “Weasley” in his smooth voice, and returned to kissing Ginny senseless.

Ron told the story a month later - with a great amount of wry amusement - at their evening wedding. And this time, for all time, Draco was there to watch the stars with her.

ORIGINAL REQUEST:
What would you like to receive? A romantic entanglement full of mystery, love, romance, and death.
The tone/mood of the fic: Romantically Angsty
An element/line of dialogue/object you would like in your fic: "Forever doesn't last."
Preferred rating of the the fic you want: NC-17, but I'll take any rating.
Canon or AU? Canon but without the evil DH epilogue.
Deal Breakers (what don't you want?): Fluff. Too much sweetness.
Tags: exchange 2008, fics
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