fienabler (fienabler) wrote in dgficexchange,
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♥ "Notes on Falling Out of Love" for embe11ished 3/3 ♥

Title: Notes on Falling Out of Love 3/3
Rating: Not Naughty
Possible Spoilers/Warnings: Warnings for language, but nothing else. Spoilers galore for Deathly Hallows and stuff about the characters that J.K. Rowling discusses in press conferences, etc. (that isn’t mentioned in the books).
Summary (if fic): It's hard to learn how to live without that one person you thought would be in your life forever. But Ginny Weasley had always been a quick study, and there are always certain grey-eyed boys to help speed up the learning process...

( Notes on Falling Out of Love 1/3 )
( Notes on Falling Out of Love 2/3 )
Notes on Falling Out of Love cont...

Lie in the grass.

“Hey Weasley!”

Ginny looked up to find Draco Malfoy striding over to her as she exited the locker rooms after practice. It was a beautiful warm and breezy day in March- the first nice one of the year- and the long grass by her feet swayed gently in the wind.

“Hey you,” she said warmly, smiling up at him. “What are you doing here?”

“Ron mentioned something about an especially horrid date last night so I thought I’d stop by and surprise you.”

She eyed him carefully, looking suspiciously for some sign of sarcasm. He noticed her look and raised an eyebrow. “What?”

Ginny shook her head, wondering. “You’ve became way too much of a decent person since we’ve started spending time together.”

He made a face. “Don’t say that out loud, it’ll ruin my reputation.”

She laughed and sat down at the edge of the field, feeling the grass move around her. He ambled over and took the spot next to her, plucking out a long piece of grass and weaving it between his long fingers. “So you wanna talk about it?”

“About what?”

“You know. The date.”

Ginny sighed and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Not especially.”

Draco raised an eyebrow but said nothing. He of all people knew about keeping problems to himself.

“I guess it’s like…embarrassing almost,” she started quietly. “Like I was sitting there, looking at the perfectly fine guy across from me and I realized that I didn’t care. That I didn’t care what he thought about me or how the date went or even about getting married someday. And then I realized that I didn’t care because all that caring left me when Harry did. And then I felt pathetic because it’s been practically two years and I still can’t put myself out there and then when I realized that, I started crying.”

Draco tugged out a handful of grass and flung them into the air, watching them get picked up by the wind and float away. “Poor guy,” he said.

Ginny laughed a little. “Yeah, I felt a little sorry for the bloke when his date started bawling randomly in the middle of dinner. He bolted as soon as he could after that.” She rolled onto her back and stared up at the blue sky, the snow white clouds drifting lazily overhead.

“So you’re really not over him, even after all this time,” came the voice next to her.

She nodded, slightly. “I guess not. Its ridiculous, isn’t it.”

“I don’t know. I think that you two were just really in love and that it’s going to take a lot to get through that. I mean,” he shrugged, “I wouldn’t know personally but…” He trailed off.

Ginny glanced at the man next to her, surprised. Draco Malfoy, expert on love. Who would’ve guessed? He was laying comfortably on the grass, his eyes closed and arms tucked beneath his head, bits of grass clinging to his hair. She looked at those tiny scraps of green laying against the pale blond, at the way his eyelids fluttered slightly as he basked in the sun’s rays, and Ginny got strangest sensation, like she was freefalling through nothing but air.

She cleared her throat. “You’re probably right.” she said, plucking a dandelion out of the ground, “but that takes so much effort. Don’t you wish that sometimes you could just, I don’t know, dive into a fountain and have all your troubles washed away?”

Draco laughed. “Okay Amanta, whatever you say. You know, there’s a reason that the Fountain only exists in fairytales. And it didn’t even work.”

She threw up a handful of grass, watching the pieces fall. “But wouldn’t that be splendid? Something magical that solves all your problems, instantly?”

The ground felt cool and soft under Draco’s back, and he looked at the witch next to him out of the corner of his eye- dandelion the color of sunshine tucked behind her ear, hair wild and tangled, the warm sunlight reflected in her caramel eyes. A breeze brushed across the field, spreading the aroma of fresh air and spring.

“Well,” said Ginny, breaking the silence and not noticing his eyes on her, “If I’m Amanta then that makes you Sir Luckless, dragged along for the ride.”

He laughed again and rolled over, getting to his feet. “Well then, my fair lady Amanta, what say thee to a plentiful meal? I vow to act chivalrously and pay.” He reached down a hand to help her up.

She grinned, grasping his hand in hers. “Very well, Sir Luckless Knight. Lead the way to thy peril. Thou hast not witnessed the full amount I may consume.”
________________________________________

Catch up with an old friend.

March 15th, 2004

Dear Luna,

I just realized as I was scribbling down the date that it’s the Ides of March today. Funny how the day of doom and peril passed by without my noticing. And all the Roman senators I know are still alive- maybe someone you know has committed an assassination today?
Anyway, I was just dropping a quick letter, as we haven’t spoken in a while. Luna dear, I know you’re off traveling the world with Newt but you must remember to find some time for your old friend Ginny. I feel as if I am adrift without your constant wisdom and, well, oddness. But a good kind of oddness.
All is normal back home. The girls and I are training hard for the playoffs- Joanie is absolutely off her rocker and has us out on the field before daybreak. I’m sore all over but couldn’t be happier. It makes me wonder about my mental state, if I’m at my happiest when I’m sweaty and aching and sleep-deprived, zooming about on a broomstick. (I just realized that that could be taken entirely the wrong way. Stop laughing, you dirty minded girl.)
Rumor has it that Ron and Hermione might be expecting, and all I have to say about that is that it’s about time. I’m kind of worried for Hermione though- she was fiddling around with some potions at the Ministry the other day and somehow came up with a powerful new potion that cures some sort of malady- I don’t know, it’s all scientific jargon and you know how I hate that stuff- but now they’ve got her working day and night refining the ingredients and process and I’m not sure all that stress is going to be good for her or the baby. And for some reason she’s nervous about telling Ron, and no matter how much I bug her about it she’s still putting off telling him. I, personally, would love to drop the news, if only to see how many different shades of color his face can turn in ten seconds. It would be a scientific experiment, if you will.
I don’t think that there’s much else going on back home. All is the same and oh, I forgot, Harry’s engaged, to Cho.
I can totally see you rolling your eyes. Well, fine, maybe I didn’t forget and I know that you would want to know- maybe he’s written and told you already- but I don’t know. I suppose you’re thinking that I’m all weepy and beat up about this, but I’m not. I mean, yes, it did surprise me a little but nothing I couldn’t handle. It has been two years after all, right? It’s just that, well, remember all those nights back at Hogwarts where you and I would meet in the library to study and then end up talking all night about absolutely everything but schoolwork? And remember how we’d dream about the future and how our lives were going to be and… Ever since the age of eleven he had been a set thing in my future, and even now I’m having some trouble removing him. It’s like he’s this really difficult stain that no amount of Scourgifying can get rid of. And I know its over- I’ve known it for a while- but it’s still like I can’t believe that he’s not a part of my future anymore, you know?
I tried to tell Draco all of this and you know his reaction? He took me to a bar and brought me enough Firewhiskey to fill the Channel. Typical guy response- if you can’t deal with it, then at least you have an excuse to drink kiloliters of alcohol. But he has been a sweetheart lately, it’s kind of strange. Who would’ve thought there’d be the day where I would call Malfoy a sweetheart without being under the threat of immediate death?
I watched Teddy last week while Andromeda ran some long overdue errands during the day. I just can’t believe how old he’s getting- in a couple years we’ll be shipping him off to Hogwarts. And he’s not just growing old on the outside, he’s getting old on the inside, too. When I tucked him in yesterday, I offered to read him Babbitty Rabbitty- it’s his favorite bedtime story- and he scoffed at me and told me that only babies have bedtime stories read to them! I can’t imagine that I’ll never be able to read to him before he goes to bed anymore. But there are still all the Weasley nieces and nephews to tuck into bed, so I suppose I’ll just have to console myself with them.
This isn’t a very long letter but I’d think I better stop here. Ava might have strained her wing a couple days ago and I don’t want her to overdo it. If she seems tired or hurt when she delivers this, send back a reply with one of your Crumple-Horned Snorkacks (they do have wings, don’t they?) and make sure Ava’s healed before you let her return, won’t you? And do write back soon Luna, it’s been much too long since I’ve received details about your creatures and the amazing places you’re visiting and (especially) your current status with Newt. And no, that was not meant to be a subtle hint.

Love,
Ginny


Paint with your fingers.

Draco knocked on the door to Ginny’s flat, feeling oddly nervous for some reason. He had no idea why- the two of them were simply getting together that night, to pig out on calorie saturated pastries, drink wine, unwind from a long week of stress. Nothing special. But for some reason, the odd fluttering sensation in his stomach would not cease.

There was a loud clang and several crashes, followed by a loud “Bugger!” on the other side of the door. Ginny finally appeared with a harried look on her face, leaning against the ajar door and rubbing at her sore arm.

“You okay there, Weasley?”

“Sorry, sorry. I was watching Teddy for the afternoon again and Andromeda just picked him up but he insisted on coloring and then he wanted to paint something and you should never paint anything with a five-year-old who has magical powers because when he gets upset then things tend to explode- like the paint bottles, for instance- and then you end up with permanent paint on your favorite pair of jeans.” She paused to take in a breath, looking forlornly down at her gray, stone washed denim, now smeared with orange paint. They looked like old rusted armor, a fashion statement that she was not going for.

Draco nodded, trying to take in the sight of the destroyed apartment. Everything was multicolored, and nothing was the color it should have been, including-

“Weasley, why is your hair blue?”

Ginny ran a tired hand through her cerulean tresses. “Teddy transfigured it somehow and I lost my wand around the time he turned the couch into a giant frog so I can’t fix it and- oh my head hurts.”

Draco repressed a smile. “Here Ginny, you go take a nice long hot shower and I’ll clean up the flat and bake the vittles, alright?”

Ginny squinted at the pale man in front of her, raising an eyebrow. ‘You know, I always get suspicious whenever you start acting decent. What’s your underhanded motive Malfoy? I know you have one.”

“Woman, are you so daft as to turn down one of the few people who are offering to help you out?”

She stuck out her tongue at him. “Malfoy, how is it that you’re doing me a favor and yet you’re insulting me at the same time?” She turned and headed in the direction of the bathroom.”

“It’s a gift, love,” Malfoy called to her retreating back, “a gift.”

________________________________________

Later, the two of them sat in the window seat, darkened room to their backs and a glass of wine in hand, watching the sprawling lights of Hogsmeade beneath them. A luminescent moon hung suspended in the dark night sky, spilling silver light across the room.

Ginny sighed, staring longingly at the distance lights of the castle on the horizon. “Do you ever miss it?”

Draco swallowed a sip of wine. “Miss what?”

“Hogwarts. The classes, the students. Being young and carefree and not having to worry about anything.”

Draco lowered his eyes, watching the wine slosh against the sides of his goblet as he swirled it around. “Those years weren’t exactly the most carefree, you know, at least for me.”

Ginny looked up, surprised. “Well of course they weren’t carefree, what with the deranged psychopath out for world domination and all, but in school we were always insulated, protected- safe from all the horrors out there, you know, at least for a little while. Until the very end.”

“I wasn’t,” Draco answered quietly, and she knew that he was thinking of his last two years at Hogwarts.

Ginny was silent for a moment, wanting to say something comforting but not knowing what she could say to help. He didn’t talk about his Hogwarts days very often. “You don’t still dwell on that all the time, do you?”

Draco shrugged, still looking down at his glass. “It’s hard to forget what I’d done, and the consequences that came from my actions.”

She laid a hand on his arm. His skin felt cold beneath her fingers. “Draco, you know that it wasn’t your fault. That whole war- and the part you played in it- was one wizards fault, and he’s gone now.”

“Yes but- well, there’s no point arguing over it. It’s done and over with, right? The least I can do now is work hard and try to repay my debt with the other lives that I protect.”

She had never heard him say something so seriously. She looked at him with his head ducked down- his eyes lost in shadow, one strand of silk spun white gold hair falling into his face- and felt that falling sensation again. “Pretty noble thing,” she said softly, “coming from a Slytherin.” He remained silent, still staring moodily down at his wine.

“Well,” Ginny said brightly, wishing she that she had never brought up the topic, “No matter now. Psychopath’s dead, world is still free, and now all we have to worry about is making rent and finding a date for Saturday night.”

Draco smirked, and just like that, he was back to normal. “Well, maybe you have to worry about that stuff. I’m pretty sure I’m well endowed in those areas. Come to think of it, I’m pretty well endowed in all my areas.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Bloody prat.”

“Moronic bint.”

Ginny grinned. “You know, you and I have a very strange relationship.”

“Normalcy is overrated.”

The two of them were quiet for a while, staring out at the scenery, still lost in their own thoughts. Suddenly Ginny leaned over and breathed onto the window, fogging up the glass.

“What the hell are you doing Weasley?”

“Nothing,” she replied, drawing a smiley face with her pointer finger. He scowled at her.

“That is the most inane thing I have ever seen.”

“And that,” she declared, pointing a finger between his eyes, “is the most bitter thing I have ever seen. Come on, live a little.” She added ears and some spiky hair, making it stick up in all directions.

“And by ‘live’ you mean, what, paint pictures on glass windows with my fingers.” His voice was dry. “Were you dropped on the head a baby? It would explain a lot.”

“You know, I always suspected Ron did something like that, but ever time I bug him about it her turns pink and shuffles away.” She smiled at her picture, oblivious to the incredulous look Draco was giving her.

“I still can’t believe I chose to spend time with you Weasley,” he sighed, but leaned over and breathed on the windowpane all the same, spreading the white fog over the glass.

“There,” he said, finishing his sketch, feeling quite proud of it actually. Ginny glanced over at the upside-down stick figure. Its head was lopsided.

“And what is that supposed to be?”

“You, after Ron dropped you on your head as a baby. Here, I’ll draw him running away and crying.” There appeared another horrible mangled and disfigured stick figure.

“Well fine,” she retorted, making some more fog and sketching an extremely rotund cat in the mist. “Look at my- what was it? - devil’s incarnation.”

“Not funny,” he pouted, reaching over and running his palm over her drawing, erasing the kitty.

“Hey! You can’t do that! My masterpiece!” Ginny screeched. Draco laughed. “Oh you think this is funny, Malfoy? Well how to you liked it?” She swiped as his fading stick figures, distorting the image.

“Now that, Ginny Weasley, was crossing a line.” Draco was genuinely offended. “I was proud of that.”

“Why? It looked like something Teddy could have drawn. Wait, that was probably a compliment compared to what it was….”

There was a pause as they both tried to figure out what she had just said. Draco looked at her. “Weaselette, I know it comes with the territory, but that made no sense.”

“It sounded better in my head.”

He scoffed. “Obviously.” Then he grinned. “Oh here, I just thought of something to draw,” said Draco, breathing onto the glass again.

“What?”

“Don’t you see it?” he asked, pointing.

“Draco,” said Ginny, leaning in and squinting, “you didn’t even touch the window, how could-“

Her words were cut off Draco pounced and smooshed her face against the cold glass, creating quite a nice imprint. He cackled.

“Oh, real mature Malfoy,” sputtered Ginny, stretching her jaw and trying to get the skin on her face to stop throbbing. “My face is permanently disfigured right now.”

“Mmm, looks better that way.”

“Oh, you are asking for it you-”

________________________________________

The next day, Hermione came to pick up Ginny for their lunch together. “Ginny?” she called, looking around as she waited for her in the living room.

“What?” Ginny called back, searching in vain for a pair of clean socks.

“Why is your window all smudged?”
________________________________________

Fly for so long you can no longer feel your arse.

“Oh, and that was a spectacular save by Weasley at the far end of the court! Quaffle’s in the possession of Weasley now- she’s speeding down the filed with Weasley and Weasley hot in pursuit- oh! And a narrow miss by the Bludger, batted with spectacular accuracy by Weasley-“

“Hey Jordan! How about you try some first names there.”

Lee Jordan paused from his perch near the top of an oak tree, contemplating the suggestion. “That would make sense, wouldn’t it?”

“Sure would,” answered Harry as he swooped down, feet skimming the tops of the blades of grass.

“But so much less fun.” Lee grinned.

It was another Sunday and as usual, the Burrow was hosting its usual plethora of Weasleys for Sunday dinner, although lately the gatherings had been becoming less familial and more bring-every-single-one-of-your-acquaintances. The last time Ginny had seen this many people gathered together for a meal was the end of the year feast at Hogwarts in her seventh year.

Early in the afternoon, Molly Weasley had kicked most of her brood out, clucking at them to enjoy themselves and insisting that she had everything in the house under control. So like trout returning upstream to their birthing grounds, the old schoolmates found themselves wandering up the well trodden path to the sheltered clearing, where a heated Quidditch match was currently in session.

Foul!

“You bloody liar Malfoy- I didn’t lay a hand on you!”

“Yeah you’re damned right Johnson, you didn’t lay a hand on me- it was your bloody elbows that are the problem.”

“I was not cobbing!”

“Liar.”

“I am not you arrogant-”

“Um, Angelina? Aren’t you supposed to be the referee?”

The dark skinned girl blinked, hovering in midair. “Oh, I suppose you’re right.” She turned towards Draco, scowling. “Stop baiting me, you annoying idiot.”

He smirked. “Old habits die hard.”

Angelina blew a frustrated sigh out of her nose. “Alright,” she called to the assembled mass of players, “let’s get back to it. George, give me the Quaffle and I’ll put this back in play.”

George grinned, a mischievous spark in his eye. “You’re gonna have to make me,” he teased, extending a long arm and holding the Quaffle high above his head.

“George,” Angelina tried to snap, laughing. She leaned in close and stretched, trying in vain to grab the red ball. Her fingertips brushed against George’s wrist.

“Well well,” he said, eyebrows waggling playfully, “I guess some of us here are still waiting for their growth spurt."

Ginny flew over to next to Draco as they watch the flirting couple struggle over the rubber ball. “Why doesn’t she just fly higher?” she muttered to the blond next to her.

“Either she’s stupider than I thought,” replied Draco, “or she’s just enjoying herself too much to think of something that logical.”

“Dinner!” Bill interrupted, striding onto the field and he called out to everyone, “Mum says she’s been calling for a half hour, so you lot better get over there quick before she blows a gasket!”

Quickly, the Weasley brood and their various friends and companions descended and dismounted their brooms, hurrying back to the Burrow. No one wanted to set off Molly Weasley.

“Hey Draco! Ginny! You guys coming?” called Ron, shading his eyes to look up at the pair still circling each other high in the sky.

“In a minute!” Ginny called back, urging her broom higher and delighting in the warm sunshine that bathed her skin. “Tell them to start without us!”

Ron shook his head and followed the path away from the field. “Those two are going to end up old and married and parents to too many pink haired babies to count,” he muttered to himself darkly, cursing whatever manipulative power that had brought Malfoy into their lives.

Behind him, Draco flew up to meet Ginny and held up the Snitch teasingly. “First one to catch it gets dinner. Loser’s treat.”

Ginny grinned. “You’re on.”

________________________________________

Four hours later, the last of the sun’s rays had faded, the stars were beginning to twinkle in the night sky and the two of them were still at it, this time with the Quaffle. Draco dove down to block a particularly nasty shot from Ginny and nearly tumbled off of his broom.

“Whoa, are you okay there Draco?”

“I’m fine,” he grumbled back, looking disgustingly immaculate and undisheveled- how in the world was his hair still perfect?

“You sure you don’t need a break?”

“Not in your life Weasley.”

Ginny rolled her eyes. Males and their egos. “Fine.”

Silence reigned as they got back to playing, each trying to get the Quaffle past the other. Draco was concentrating hard, but she was distracted- she didn’t know why but she needed to talk. It was too quiet.

“So, how’s Pansy?”

Draco pulled up short, panting slightly and looking annoyed at the interruption. “Who?”

“You know, Pansy Parkinson, short, dark hair, supposedly your betrothed since forever.”

“She’s good,” answered Draco curtly, changing his direction so that he was floating slowly towards Ginny. “And she’s not my betrothed.”

Ginny sounded surprised. “Since when?”

“Oh my fault, I forgot about that time I got down on one knee and asked her for her hand and her heart, eternally bound to me in matrimony. But wait, no, didn’t happen.”

“Oh.” It was quiet again. An owl hooted from somewhere in the thicket of trees. “Well what about Heather? You know, that witch you were seeing on the Auror force.”

“She’s fine, too,” Draco answered, eyeing her oddly. “And what is up with this sudden interest in my love life?”

“What, I can’t ask you about your love life?

“Not in the middle of a Quidditch game, no. What’s up?”

Ginny shrugged. “Well, I don’t know. I suppose it’s like, well, I mean, you’re not getting any younger-”

“Thanks,” he said wryly.

“No problem.” She answered, not missing a beat, “and you still haven’t settled down, and I don’t know, I’m beginning to worry about you.”

There was a pause. “Worry,” he said.

Ginny nodded. “Yes, I mean, I know you have your whole sex god persona, but honestly Draco it’s getting old. I know there’s someone out there for you.”

“Out…there.”

“Yes, and you’ve got to stop screwing around and go find them. You’re getting old.”

He didn’t say anything for a moment. “I’m getting old?”

“Yes. Stop repeating everything I say.”

“Gin, I’m twenty-five. Most all our friends my age are still single and uh, hello you’re a year younger than me. So if I’m old them you mist be somewhere on the crest of that hill. Where’s your- what did you say- betrothed?”

Ginny was surprised to hear the acidity in his voice. “Maybe I’m not ready to go looking yet,” she said coldly.

“Not ready? Ginny, it’s been nearly two years!”

“So? That wasn’t even half the time me and Harry spent together!”

“So what? He’s moved on- Gin, he and Cho are getting married next month and you’re still here pining over him?”

“I am not pining over him,” she answered heatedly, “Merlin, of all people Draco, you should know that.”

“Know what? If anything, I should know better than anyone else that you’re still not over him!”

Ginny was shocked, speechless and then suddenly angry. Really angry. “What the hell Draco! Why are you getting so pissed? And how could you say that?”

“It’s been two years, you’ve gone on what, maybe seven dates since then-“

“Well I’m sorry, not everyone’s a man-whore like you.”

He was still looking at her oddly. “Where is this coming from?”

“Where what is coming from? The man-whore? Draco, seriously, even you can’t deny-”

“No not the man-whore, you moron. The random interest in my love life. Your sudden push to marry me off to the highest bidder. You sound like my mother for Merlin’s sake.”

“Well I just want you to be happy, like I was,” Ginny said, straining to keep her voice from shaking.

“Like you were? Ginny, he was horrible to you.”

“He was not!”

“Gin, he promised you forever and then he dumped you. That spells jerk.”

“No, that spells that he just didn’t feel the same way that I did, and-”

“Why are you defending him?”

“I’m not! I’m-” She cut herself off, argument faltering as Draco threw his hands up in the air. He turned away from her for a moment, breathing heavily.

“You know what I think?” he said, spinning around to face her again. “I think you’re scared.”

“Wait, what? Don’t change the subject Draco-“

“You are scared. You’re always talking about Harry this and Harry that and how you two were too perfect and how you’re moving on because it was never meant to be, but you aren’t. You aren’t moving on. You’re too much of a coward to let go.”

Ginny was speechless. How could he say something like that when he knew- and why was he- whatever. If he seriously thought that, then he barely even knew her at all. “Don’t be an idiot, Malfoy,” she said, her voice cold.

“Me? An idiot? Do I look like Potter?” he snapped back, that presumptuous scorn in his voice.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” When he didn’t answer, Ginny snorted. “Fine, whatever,” she said, turning away, “I should’ve known better than to think that you-

He lunged forward and grabbed her wrist, his fingernails digging into her skin. “Potter was more of an idiot than I ever gave him credit for if he allowed you to get away. Anyone who is lucky enough to be with you, Ginevra, should hold on and never, ever let go.”

Ginny gaped at him, wide eyed. His voice was low- smoldering- and in the starlight his eyes looked like molten silver.

“What?”

“You asked why I was angry? The reason I’m angry is because you’re still all hung over that, that, that Potter, the man who was never close to being worthy of you, and you’re afraid to get over it and move on and you’re so blinded by your precious hero that you’re missing what you have right in front of your eyes.”

And with that he released her wrist and flung her arm away, as if he couldn’t get away fast enough. Diving down, he jumped off his broom and stalked into the night, swallowed up by the trees. Behind him sat Ginny, suspended in midair, her hair gleaming in the moonlight and mouth still hanging open in astonishment.
________________________________________

Go skinny-dipping. Soak up the sun.

Ginny splashed her feet in the small brook that ran through the woods by the Burrow, lost in deep thought. The early summer sun beat down upon her, seeping into her damp hair and drying the water on her skin.

She still didn’t know what to make of what had happened between her and Draco last night. He never showed up for dinner; later, Ron said that he had stalked through the garden and then Disapparated at the front door, leaving without saying a word to anyone. Too tired and confused to go home, Ginny spent the rest of the weekend at the Burrow, resting and soaking in that comfort that only derives from home and familial love.

She stared down at her feet, watching the water as it swirled through her toes, feeling the current tug at her skin. The words Draco had said hung heavily in the forest air like oil on water, refusing to mix and meld and disappear. She was over him, wasn’t she? It had been so long, but…

Ginny shook her head, trying to unscramble her thoughts. Memories of her and Harry flooded her mind. They had been so happy together, and so why…? She had planned her whole future around him and then he had upped and left her and now she had nothing.

She dipped her hand in the stream and cupped her palm, drawing out some of the cool water. Slowly she opened her fingers and let the water trickle slowly back into the stream, her thoughts swirling. Maybe she didn’t have nothing, not really. She had her team, and her family, and Hermione and Luna. And she had Draco, too. She still had the future. The only difference now was that she didn’t have Harry.

Maybe that’s why she felt her thoughts returning back to him, time and time again. Not because of who he was, but because of what he had promised for her. Everything that he had stood for- her dream. But how sad was it that she had pinned all of her dreams on a single boy?

She raised her face to the sun’s rays, letting her regret drain out of her to be washed away by the stream. Maybe…but she couldn’t think anymore. It was too beautiful out. She tipped her head back, listening to the rustle of the leaves, and feeling the warm breeze stir her skin.

Suddenly a noise came from the brush, like someone walking through the undergrowth. Ginny scrambled over to her discarded clothes and hurried to cover herself.

He appeared at the water’s edge right as she pulled her arms through her tank top, the dappled sunlight glowing on his pale skin. She looked at him, saying nothing. Their eyes locked, bronze meeting chrome, and he walked over to where she had been before and sat down at the riverbank.

Slowly, not quite sure how to act around him- not quite sure if he was still mad- she approached where he was sitting and plopped down on the dirt next to him. He gazed out at the trees on the other side, breathing in and out evenly. The serene aroma of sunshine and growing things wrapped around them, and the quiet hung in the air like a stifling reminder, punctuated only by the occasional twitter of a sparrow.

“Look,” said Ginny, unable to stand the silence. He turned his gaze on her and she faltered a bit, but swallowed her pride and let her words out in a rush. “I- I’m sorry alright? For freaking out on you last night about nothing, I honestly don’t know where that came from and-”

Draco reached over and pressed a hand against her mouth, stopping her tirade. “I don’t do the whole I’m sorry, cry and apologize thing, alright? Malfoys don’t learn that sort of…behavior.” His eyes burned, dark and solemn.

Ginny nodded mutely. Draco sucked in a quick breath, his gaze unwavering. “But still, I just…Look, if you’re sorry then so am I, alright? We were both tired and- and said things that we didn’t mean.”

He removed his hand and stood up. Ginny looked up at him, his flaxen hair glowing in sunlight, his eyes in shadow. A fleeting image of his face last night flashed before her eyes- heated and intense and sorrowful, the white skin of his arched neck fairly iridescent in the moonlight as he turned away from her. “Things we didn’t mean?” she said softly, “Or- or things that we’ve been keeping in for too long?”

Draco twitched uncomfortably but he said nothing, only shifted his weight from one leg to the other. He cleared his throat, abrupt. “Let’s just go back to the Burrow. I missed dinner last night and I need my weekly fix of your Mum’s cooking.” He offered her his hand.

Ginny contemplated pushing him more, but suddenly she wasn’t sure that she wanted to know the answer if she asked him again. She didn’t know what this would mean for them. So instead she merely grasped his hand in hers and rose to her feet.
________________________________________

And finally…

Ginny didn’t remember when she had fallen back in love again. She remembered that she had looked up at him one day and noticed the way his hair fell across his face and brushed his pale eyelashes, the way his hands gestured wildly- frantically- when he was arguing about something he was passionate about, the way he laughed- full and sweet and unrestrained, so unlike his apathetic exterior. She remembered the way her breath hitched in her throat when she caught him looking at her from the corner of his eye, the way she always sought out his face first in a crowded room, the way a smile spread across her face every time she saw one on his. She remembered waking up one day, stumbling to the bathroom, yawning and catching her own eye in the mirror, and then she remembered realizing at that very moment that was completely, hopelessly and irrevocably in love with Draco Malfoy.

Shit.
________________________________________

“Hermione, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” Ginny cried ten minutes later, pacing back and forth across Ron and Hermione’s kitchen, still her in pajamas. Hermione was sitting bleary eyed at the counter, steaming coffee cup in hand and yawning widely. It was six in the morning, and as ecstatic as she was that Ginny had finally (finally!) come to terms with her feelings for Draco, well, it was six in the morning.

“Gin, calm down, honestly, wearing a hole in the middle of my kitchen floor isn’t going to make you fall back out of love with him.”

Ginny scowled but obediently plopped down on the stool next to her friend. “This is just…I mean, seriously, Draco Malfoy? Seriously?”

Hermione raised an eyebrow. “I thought we crossed that bridge a long time ago. You’ve been best friends for him since forever.”

“Well, yes, but I never planned on falling in love with him!” she wailed, covering her face with her hands.

“Ginny?” Ron asked sleepily, stumbling into the kitchen. “What are you doing here? It’s-”

“OUT Ron!” Ginny screeched, jumping to her feet and pushing him back out the door, “Girl talk time. Go away!”

“But I only wanted a cup of-”

“Get it at the office!” She slammed the door shut, and Ron heard the soft click as the lock turned.

“Hermione?” he pleaded from the other side of the door.

Hermione sighed and tripped over to the door, shooting Ginny a You-need-to-calm-down-and-stop-freaking-everyone-out look. “Ron,” she said, opening the door, “maybe you should just go over to work early today. We have a, er, situation here.”

Ron pouted for a minute but then relented. “Fine,” he said grumpily, leaning over to kiss her quickly before turning away.

Hermione made a face. “Ick, morning breath.” She laughed as he scowled at her. Ron heaved a heavy sigh and began trudging back up the stairs to their bedroom. “I’ll see you later, okay?” she called to him.

He waved a tired arm at her and Hermione closed the kitchen door, turning around to face Ginny, who was currently banging her head against the wall.

“That’s it.” Hermione walked over and dragged Ginny to the kitchen table, sitting her down. “You were asking me what you were going to do? Well I’ll tell you. First, you are going to calm down and drink a cup of coffee. Everything always looks better after coffee. And then second, you’re going to tell him how you feel.”

Ginny froze from where she had been reaching for a mug. “You’re kidding, right.”

“Why would I be?”

“Because I can’t- its like- I can’t. How are you- and how am I- Hermione, I can’t.”

Hermione shook her head. “He needs to know, Ginny,” she said softly, “and you need to tell him. Why should you deny yourself happiness just because you’re scared?”

“But-”

“Honey, take it from someone who waited seven years before telling the person that they love, you want to. You need to.”

Ginny was quiet, tracing a finger across the wood patterns ingrained on the tabletop. “I was so busy trying to fall out of love with Harry, I didn’t even realize that I had fallen in love with someone else on the way.” She pressed a tired hand against her eyes.

Hermione leaned over and wrapped an arm around Ginny’s shoulders, not unlike what she had done two years ago. “The healing’s in the journey, Gin,” she smiled, “not in the destination.”

“But what if he doesn’t love me back?”

“But what if he does?”

Ginny took a deep shuddering breath. Merlin, this was unfair. Shouldn’t it be the guy who was making the first move? How many hours did they spend together a day, and if he had realized that he loved her by now, wouldn’t he had said something? But then again, he thought she was still all hung up on Harry.

Fine. She’d do it. And if she made a complete fool out of herself, well, then she was a fool. But at least she gave it a shot. And if he judged her for taking that leap of faith then maybe he wasn’t worthy of her after all.

She wrinkled her nose and drained her coffee mug in one gulp. Of course it would be her who stuck her neck out there for love. Draco could never do anything right, could he? Emotional range of a teaspoon indeed. She scowled. Idiot.

________________________________________

Okay she was officially insane. Either that or a character in one of those really bad romantic novels. I have completely lost my mind, she thought, hurrying through the Ministry’s lobby to the golden elevators. I don’t know what I’m doing or what I’m going to say, but I have to get this out before I explode.

She bounced impatiently on the balls of her feet as the elevators slid down to the second level. The doors opened smoothly and she rushed out, only to stop short at the scene of utter chaos. There was a sea of cubicles spreading out for miles in front of her, and all around people were arguing loudly, dictating reports, scribbling furiously, rushing past her and grumbling about people being in the way. Roughly about a hundred paper airplanes- memos- were swooping about the room too; several nearly poked her in the eye.

Ginny gathered her wits and slowly began to travel down the hallway, peering briefly into cubicles and offices. Honestly, she was Ron’s sister and had been friends for Draco for two years and yet she didn’t know where their office was? This was not good.

A burst of pale blond- so pale it was nearly white- flashed out of the corner of her eye and she swiveled to see him leaning back in his chair, feet propped up on the desk in front of him. Next to him was Ron about thirty other witches and wizards all listening intently to Harry, who was currently speaking, his mouth moving silently as Ginny stared at the group through soundproof glass.

Well, so he was in a meeting. Fine. She could wait. Ginny leaned against the wall by the door and closed her eyes. No, she couldn’t. It was now or never, right? Okay. Squaring her shoulders she took a deep breath and pushed open the door, quietly.

Cue the dead silence. Thirty pairs of eyes pivoted around and fixated on her, where she stood nervously, willing herself not to turn red.

“Ginny?” said Ron, his brow furrowing in concern. “Is everything okay?”

“Yes,” she squeaked. Merlin, Ginevra, grow a backbone. She cleared her throat, “Yes,” she said again, clearly. “It’s just- um, Draco?” Her gaze turned to the gray-eyed boy man who was watching her with an amused smile on his face, “Can I talk to you for a second?”

He raised an eyebrow but got to his feet, eyes still trained on her. She backed out and he closed the door behind them. Ginny could still see Ron in her peripheral vision, studying the two of them through the glass.

“Yes?” he asked.

Ginny opened her mouth to say something- anything- but then a metal cart came speeding down the hallway and nearly ran her over. She squeaked again.

Draco tried not to laugh. “Here, come on,” he said, taking her hand and leading her down the hallway, “We can talk privately in my office.” Ginny nodded mutely and curled her fingers tightly around his, using whatever awareness she had left to keep herself from tripping over her own feet.

Finally they reached his office- small, drab and plain, with only a few notes about the cases he was working on tacked up against the walls- and she sat on the corner of his desk, nervously tugging at her necklace while he shut the door and then turned to face her.

“Well?”

She really should have planned something to say. Randomly blurting it out would be would probably scare him half to death. She could just throw herself at him and plant one on his lips- that would probably get the message across- but it would be preferable to come out of this with at least some dignity. Bugger, he was still looking at her. She should say something.

“So, um, how are you?”

Alright, so she chickened out. But no problem, she’ll just…lead up to it.

He crossed his arms. “How am I? You pulled me out of a department meeting for that?”’

Ginny gulped. “Well, I was trying to be polite.”

He laughed. At her. Why the hell was he laughing at her. “You? Polite?”

Ginny’s nerves were already stretched to their breaking point and she was in no mood to be laughed at. “Bloody hell Malfoy, can’t someone ever have a normal conversation with you without getting mocked and made fun of?” Her voice sounded harsh and brittle, even to her ears.

Draco stopped laughing. He looked confused. “What? Gin I-”

“I didn’t come rushing all the way down here just to get laughed at by you, you humongous prat!”

His expression hardened. “Well, get to it then,” he said, spreading his hands out as if he were paving the way down the yellow brick road, “What is this oh-so-important thing you’ve come down here to do then?”

“I-” Ginny’s breath caught in her throat. The words were right there, tumbling, crashing against her lips to get out. All she had to do was say them. “I…I don’t want to tell you anymore,” she snapped, her heart sinking, “You probably wouldn’t care anyway.”

She couldn’t do it.

He scoffed. “Well that’s mature.”

Ginny bit back a sob. Bloody hell, she could feel the urge to cry rising in her throat. What the hell why was she crying? Since when had she become the little weakling who started bawling every time she was upset? And there was a tear. And another one. And another one. Oh bugger. She rubbed at her left eye with the back of her hand inconspicuously.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” Suddenly he was in front of her, taking her hands and pulling them away from her eyes. “Come on, you know you can tell me.”

The tears were really coming now. Dammit. “It’s- it’s just,” she hiccupped, trying to keep her voice even and failing miserably, “it just really sucks, that’s all.”

“What really sucks?” he asked, his hands still wrapped around hers as she sobbed into his chest.

She took a deep shuddering breath, still leaking at the eyes. “I don’t want to, and it’s this horrible, horrible thing but- but I,” she steeled herself, “I’m afraid that I’m in love with you.”

He pulled back from her quickly and took a step back. Well, that about said it all, didn’t it? Ginny could feel her insides sinking but she kept her eyes trained on the floor, not wanting to see whatever horrified expression was on his face. It was getting really hard to breathe through a nose full of snot.

It was quiet, for what seemed to Ginny to be eons, the only sounds coming from outside the room as people click-clacked their steps down the hallway, chattering to one another.

“So,” he said slowly, voice low and even, “let me get this straight. This thing, this horrible thing that you don’t want, and the thing that’s making you cry- this thing that really really sucks- is…that you love me?”

Ginny nodded through her tears, nose buried in her hands. “Yes.”

He blinked a few times, shaking his head. Then he came closer again, digging into his pocket and coming up with a handkerchief. “Am I really that bad?” he asked, handing it to her, “Am I really that insufferable all the time that the thought of being in love with me is making you burst into tears?”

Ginny blew her nose and folded the handkerchief up slowly, stalling. The initials DM embroidered on the corner in silver thread glinted in the dim yellow light. “No, just most of the time.”

He laughed again, that sweet and beautiful laugh. “Well,” he said, stepping closer to her, until their feet lined up neatly on the linoleum ground, the tips of their shoes just barely touching, “I might know something that might make you feel better.”

Ginny sniffed. He reached out and tugged at her chin, forcing her to lift her gaze to meet his, silver eyes solemn. His rough, unshaved cheek pressed against her own smooth one as he leaned over close and whispered in her ear, “I’m afraid that I’m in love with you too.”

Ginny’s emotions were so all over the place that she would have burst into tears at those words all over again, except for the fact this his lips were on hers and snogging most definitely took priority over sobbing. She vaguely registered the sound of the office door being opened and Ron’s frantic stammering, followed by the sound of Harry’s laughter as he pulled his stunned best friend out of the room, shutting the door firmly behind them. But by then Draco's hands were in her hair and she could feel the beat of his racing heart beneath her fingertips and after he started kissing her just so on that spot under her jawbone, nothing else really registered.

After quite some time they finally resurfaced for some air, both slightly panting. He pressed his forehead against hers, eyes never leaving her face, and grinned. “Ron’s probably having kittens out in the hallway right now.”

She smiled back, reaching up to brush a strand of soft hair out of his eyes. “All the more reason to keep on snogging,” she said lightly.

He chuckled. “Weasley, I knew there was a reason that I loved you.”

“You mean other than my brilliant intellect and amazing wit?”

Draco’s brow furrowed quizzically. “What brilliant intellect and amazing wit?’

She smacked his arm. “You are the most obnoxious git in the history of the world, you know that?” she said, laughing.

“Well I work hard at it.” He shrugged, smiling back. Wrapping a warm arm around her shoulders he glanced at the small clock resting on his desk. “You want to go out and grab a bite to eat for lunch?”

Ginny leaned back and looked at the clock. “Draco, its nine thirty.”

“So?”

“Don’t you have to, oh I don’t know, work?”

He waved his hand, carelessly brushing her concerns away. “Minor detail. Malfoys don’t work, love, shouldn’t you know that by now?”

She shot him a look. “What?” he asked innocently, “Am I not allowed to take out the woman I love for a meal?”

She sighed, rolling her eyes. “Fine,” she said, grabbing her sweater where it had fallen on the floor, “but you’re paying.”

“Just as long as you’re not eating everything in sight again,” he retorted, opening the door for her to where a still stunned Ron was standing frozen in the hallway, his eye twitching occasionally, “you nearly cleaned out my entire inheritance last time.”

She glared at him. “Are you implying something about my weight, Draco Malfoy?”

He smirked and kissed her lightly on the nose. “Nope, just about your unladylike eating habits. And how they’re equivalent to a hippogriff’s.”

“I hate you.”

“Oh, witty comeback.”

The pair strolled down the hallway, still bickering loudly, linked together arm-in-arm. All around them the artificial sunlight streamed through artificial windows, striking the happiness in her eyes, the warmth in his smile. They were quiet for a rare moment, leaning against each other, her head on his shoulder, as they waited for the elevator. The doors opened with a soft chiming noise and they got in, both grinning widely as the doors whooshed closed and the elevator bore them slowly, smoothly, upwards back to the world above.

ORIGINAL REQUEST:
What would you like to receive?
The tone/mood of the fic:
Light, humorous, and romantic, but not without tension of some sort.
An element/line of dialogue/object you would like in your fic: A reference to one of the fairytales in "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" in a situation totally unrelated to children.
Preferred rating of the the fic you want: Any
Canon or AU? I'd like a fic that is mostly compliant with canon, but feel free to ignore the epilogue.
Deal Breakers (what don't you want?): An unhappy ending.
Tags: exchange 2008, fics
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