-x-

Shades of Green

Chapter Thirty Seven: The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

-x-

He's tired.

No, he's exhausted to near blindness, his limbs feeling detached from him as if they never existed at all and yet he's still carrying forward.

On dead legs and aching feet he's running down hallways and opening white doors and chasing down monsters and disappearing into a darkness he can't escape.

Somewhere along the way he has come to the realization that he is trapped in his own mind, that the things he sees beyond corridors and in the darkness are just memories and figments and nightmares.

Yet, he can't wake up.

And he knows he has to wake up.

There's an entire world outside of this one and he has left so much unfinished.

Once again, he has fallen victim to his own weakness.

His own frailties.

His own cowardice.

"Do you imagine a world where you and the Weasley girl live happily ever after?" His father's silken drawl accompanies him.

No matter what he does, he can never escape Lucius Malfoy.

In life it had been his shadow.

In death, it's his ghost.

The setting is the manor grounds, in the courtyard with the peacocks, on a night so clear he could have mapped the stars.

He knew right away this wasn't a real image or even an actual memory, his father seldom spoke with him alone outside of his study.

And never about matters of love, just duty.

Still, he indulged the conversation.

"I would do anything for her." It isn't a direct answer, but it's the only answer he has.

"You're a fool, then." Lucius laughs in a way that is so familiar it makes his heart clench.

A laugh of disappointment, a laugh filled with mirth, a laugh taunting his naiveté.

"Perhaps, though one could argue I must be a Malfoy in that regard. Or did you not sacrifice everything for my mother?" He would have never had the gall to speak to his father so chastely, so disrespectfully, had he been alive.

Another testament to his cowardice, that he could only muster the strength to stand up to his father in his dreams.

"Ah, but your mother was worth it." The remark was more cutting than any insult he could have hurled at him.

More wounding than any curse or hex or spell.

"Ginevra is worth as much as every high born pureblood and well-bred witch in the world put together and then some." There was assurance in his voice, yes, but it was accompanied with the petulance of a jilted child.

And somehow, that had cheapened the sentiment to near worthlessness.

Lucius barked a laugh again and Draco winced, feeling the onslaught of a battle mounting. A battle he was not even nearly prepared for. A battle he was just too tired to fight.

"Tell me, Draco. What do you know about the girl? The one you so carelessly bet your life upon? The one you think divine enough to die for? Or is she just the embodiment of your need for some fabled redemption?"

For a moment, he's stumped. The question seemed just too simple, and yet, the ambiguity through which it had been asked sent his mind reeling for an adequate answer.

Was he meant to wax poetic about the color of her hair in firelight or the dusting of freckles across her skin? Was he supposed to list off qualities, mentioning her honesty and bravery and compassion? Should he be racking his brain for information, like her favorite song or the appearance of her boggart.

What was enough?

Was wasn't?

What mattered?

What didn't?

A smile curled upon his face, "Come now, Draco. Surely you could think of at least one unprecedented quality? Or is it all just teenage lust and hormonal aggravation that's spurning you on?" To have his relationship with Ginny be reduced to something so fleeting and childish made him want to punch the nearest thing he could find.

And yet, he knew that this reaction would further his father's amusement and do nothing for his own ire.

Instead, he looked up at the sky. "I know she is decent. I know she is good and pure and all things I have never deserved. I know she loves sincerely and deeply and once she does she doesn't give up. And you might try to take her away from me, the whole world will do the same, but I won't let her go. I will hold on to this and to her with everything I have, even if it kills me." He could have said more, he could have said less as well.

None of it would suffice, it wouldn't even come close.

He could write a book and fill the pages about his love for her and still he would find himself coming up short.

Not because he felt so deeply it was unfathomable, but because he would never be able to do her justice.

He could die a thousand deaths in her name and it still wouldn't be enough to deserve her love.

"You should have died the night of the Final Battle. Perhaps you should have died in your mother's womb, even. You're just so pathetic, so weak, I despise your very existence. It would have been a service to you to be put out of your misery." The words had been said in a wisp of smoke and suddenly he was running again.

Gone was the manor and the star lit sky and the immaculate white peacocks.

It was just him, the sound of his labored breathing and the endless hallway of doors.

-x-

She visited him, day after day, staying night after night. She would be woken by a nurse or a doctor changing shifts, never by Narcissa but the woman knew she was there. She hardly even feigned her appearance anymore, barely batted an eyelash when the guards would question her resemblance to Kennedy Rosier.

She didn't care.

Come hell or high water, no one would stand in her way.

There was a fearlessness in her that had come about in the last few weeks. One she barely recognized it had been buried for so long.

Upon hearing that Draco might be taken away from her before she would even get to embrace him again, drew out a side of her that she had forgotten existed.

So she would continue to see him, and ever after she had been released from St. Mungo's she would visit him in the cover of darkness and sometimes in the brightness of day.

Her parents had been incessant upon requesting that she go with her sister-in-law to France. They thought that by dangling a summer abroad in her face she might just be willing to leave all this behind.

They thought wrong.

Sometimes she wondered if her family knew her at all.

Did they really believe she would ever be so fickle?

Did they think so little of her loyalty?

It was practically insulting.

She saw him, lying in the same position he had been in and perhaps she could find comfort in knowing that nothing had come to him in the dead of night that could harm him. But the comfort is short-lived because he's in the same state. For the most part, he was so painfully still. Carved from stone and beautifully still.

But there were moments, sometimes she felt as though she could have imagined them they were so fleeting, when she would see a twitch of his fingers.

Or the crease in his brow.

She longed for those moments, they were all that held her together.

She was seldom alone throughout the day, his visitors were numerous in faces that were familiar to her in varying degrees.

Sometimes it was welcomed, when in the form Romilda's of dark curls and Cassius' kind eyes.

Sometimes it wasn't, when accompanied by Pansy Parkinson's convoluted dramatics and authoritative glare.

There was something going on between Daphne and Kennedy that she wasn't privy to, the ice between them thicker than usual. She was always inclined to ask, but would find herself forgetting to do so when presented with the opportunity.

She didn't care enough, not right now at least.

Most of her conversations pertained to Draco, their situation and how best to handle her family that was growing more and more impatient by the second.

The impulsive part of her, the one rash and fueled by anger wanted to charge into the burrow and argue with her parents until they gave in. She was prepared for it too, she was willng to challenge them and row with them until she forced them understand her.

But in recent years she had also begun to understand the art of diplomacy.

Wars were seldom won on force alone.

She needed strategy.

If she wanted them to listen to her, she needed to present herself as someone worth listening to. Not a little girl throwing a temper tantrum.

And if she could get them to see her, to really hear her, maybe there wouldn't have to be any bloodshed at all. Maybe they could all walk away from this better because of it. Maybe there wouldn't have to be sides.

They weren't receptive, her brothers were bullish and stubborn and capable of steamrolling through most arguments on volume alone. So, while she was able to hold her own in most respects, five against one was hardly encouraging odds.

"Weasley, did you ever think that maybe being in a coma is better than being with you?" Pansy remarked from the door. "I mean, I don't blame poor Draco but couldn't you make it easier on him by leaving him alone?"

The words that may have angered her, maybe even wounded her a bit, now just sounded insecure and hollow.

She was past doubting Draco's devotion for her, past asking for proof.

He had given his life for her, it was more than she asked for.

"Last I checked I was his girlfriend, out of the two of us in the room, I would be the least likely he'd want to avoid." She wished she didn't say anything at all, she had no reason to exchange barbs with Pansy.

She had already won, engaging Pansy only satisfied the brunette.

A titter escaped her. "You say that word as if it's supposed to mean something. Girlfriend. What a juvenile term when in the world of betrothals and arranged marriages." Which is what this world was, really.

A world built upon strategic alliances and plans to keep blood pure.

And what a cold world it was, terrible and dark with its secrets and superficialities. And how easily she had fit in, without meaning to do so, without even realizing it. But how lonely it was without Draco there to make her feel as if she belonged.

"Call it what you will, but he is mine in every way a man can be a woman's." She doesn't say boy, she doesn't call herself a girl.

And though the other terms seem to heavy, too laden with meaning and responsibility, she can't bring herself to invalidate all they've been through.

The smirk fell off the brunette's face, her green eyes narrowing with malice. "Oh you Weasleys are just so unassuming and gullible. Though I suppose the doe doesn't know it's in danger until she's in the jaws of a snake."

"I am no doe and he is no snake."

"You're a fool to believe that. Because he might have shed his skin a time or two but make no mistake, Draco is a snake through and through." It's a warning hidden in the tone of a song.

A rhyme and a riddle.

By the time the triumphant smirk has returned on Pansy's face, Ginny realized she was quiet for too long.

But Ginny had backed down from this fight too many times, she had shied away and turned the other cheek and rose above altercation not just where Draco was concerned but from Pansy as a whole to avoid friction in their house.

It ended today, it ended now.

She hadn't nearly lost everything to have nothing to show for it, not even her voice.

Damn Pansy, damn her parents too if they thought they could keep her from him.

"You think you know him but you don't and that's really what's killing you." She looks up, amber eyes ablaze with courage and ferocity. "After growing up with him and dreaming of him and wanting him for your entire life you still can't seem to fathom how it's possible that you are this estranged to him."

Pansy kept her eyes narrowed, her shoulders back and her spine straight, but Ginny saw something behind her mossy green eyes shift.

"You hate that he's changed so profoundly in the last two years and you're still the same spoiled, annoying girl you had been when you met. You see it don't you, how different he is. How he's become a man in his own right, outside of his father and grandfather and all the Malfoys and Blacks before him? And it makes you want to be with him so much more because of it, because if a redeemed man could love you then perhaps there was something redeemable about you too?" She raised a brow, watching Pansy's façade splinter piece by piece.

Inch by inch.

It was like seeing cracks inching across the frozen black lake.

Soon the ice would shatter.

"And there probably is, Pansy." She could have said something scathing, something nasty and berating and Pansy probably would have been floundering for a response all the same.

Yet she couldn't bring herself to be that person, no matter how desperately someone tried to bring it out of her.

There was no point in delivering the crushing blow, Pansy was already so irrevocably broken.

"You should find it on your own, the redemption or the fulfillment that you so desperately seem to be missing. Stop being defined by what other people think of you, you'll find it liberating."

Pansy let out a snort, "How Gryffindor, with your fabled ideals and principles and morals. You think everything is about that, don't you?" She barked out a fake laugh, "People like the Malfoys don't marry for morals, they don't marry for ideals, they don't marry for principles. They marry for money, they marry for power. You have neither, your time is as limited as your pockets." She raised her chin, looking directly into Ginny's eyes.

"If you're so sure of that, why are you so scared?"

Her mouth popped open.

"Truly if I'm not a threat to you at all and you're so convinced my relationship with Draco is temporary, then why do you look so threatened?"

"You are nothing Weasley, you're no one. You're neither lion nor 're just a tiny little weasel begging for scraps and as soon as Draco is done playing with you it's right back to the burrow where you belong." She spat.

"You still don't sound so assured. I would have thought such sentiments would embolden you somehow, I guess I was wrong." She shrugged.

"You mark my words, Weasley. There will be nothing left of you but bones once he's through."

Ginny felt her fingers tighten around his limp hand, "Leave me to my fate, then. Because I'd rather be in ruins than without him." It took all her strength not to lunge across the floor and pummel the Parkinson girl senseless.

She won't be brought down to that.

Narcissa glided into with the elegance of a summer breeze, her feet making no sound against the marble floors, her robes moving with her body in unison without a thread out of place. "Ginevra, I didn't see you come in this morning." She doesn't acknowledge Pansy.

The redhead stands up, "I'm sorry, I came to your room but the door was locked. I didn't wish to disturb you." She excused.

Narcissa nodded, "How are you feeling today?" She asked, circling around the bed slowly.

"Fine, yourself?" She watched as Narcissa stopped on the other side of Draco.

She gently smoothed the hair across his forehead. "As well as can be expected, considering." Finally, her gaze fell on Pansy Parkinson who still hadn't left the room.

"Miss Parkinson, can I help you?" She asked in a silky drawl that only sounded offensive when coming from her.

Pansy's mossy eyes widened. "I, no. I was just coming in to check on Draco. I'm always so worried over him I can hardly sleep." She babbled quickly. "I feel as though the only brief moments of solace I have are when I am near him, when he's in front of my eyes and I can still see him breath—

Narcissa held up a hand, "I get the picture, Miss Parkinson." She made no motion to hide the wrinkle of disgust in her upturned lip. "As it is, I think Draco would benefit more from a restful sleep than to be involuntarily subjected to schoolgirl squabbles." Her icy blue eyes hardened.

"Well, I—I. I did't, and she was the one who!" Pansy floundered for words like a fish out of water.

"And you, Ginevra. I expect a great deal more from you. Why you would think it was appropriate to be arguing over my son's comatose body is beyond me. Truly I begin to question your upbringing more than I like at times." Her words are cold and remorseless, but Ginny knows to take them with a grain of salt when she sees the slip in Narcissa's eyes.

She is disappointed, but not nearly as she is amused by Pansy's marked confusion.

"I do apologize, Mrs. Malfoy. It was insensitive and childish, I agree. I will be more composed next time."

"Good, the future of House Malfoy requires a certain amount of poise, Ginevra. You'll do well to remember that."

Pansy's eyes widen and she's left sputtering. "Future of house Malfoy." She repeated with awe and shock.

Narcissa just turned to her, an impatient look on her aristocratic features. "Miss Parkinson, have I said something that upsets you?" She raised an eyebrow.

Pansy looked between Narcissa and Ginny. "No, no of course not." Her face is red and blotchy, the anger evident.

Ginny doesn't dare look triumphant, not with Narcissa's eyes still on her. Inwardly though, she is celebrating with veracity of holding up the Quidditch cup.

Pansy slinked out of the room wthout another word.

"You surprise me, Ginevra." Narcissa mentioned thoughtfully.

Ginny looked up at her.

"You're a fierce little thing, aren't you?" A slow, unreadable smile crept along her face. "Seemingly unassuming and wildly innocent, yet there is a ferocity that lurks beneath those doe eyes and naive smile." It was as if she was reading her like a book.

Turning page after page, trying to find the end.

Trying to find the middle.

Trying to find the meaning.

"I'm not a doe." Was her only response.

The reference had left a bad taste in her mouth.

The smile never left, "Of course not." Narcissa waved off. "I only meant that you're more than I expected and it has been a very long time since I was able to say that."

Ginny pulled her bottom lip between her teeth, "Thank you, I think that's the closest thing to a compliment I've received from you." She said with a appreciative laugh.

"I'm not one for praise and accolades, Ginevra. Surely you've figured as much by now?" She arched a brow. "Draco is everything that I have desired and all that has been taken away from me. When I look at him, I see a miracle. I see everything that I never thought I would have, and I see what I've lost. My other infants that never lived…my husband." She trailed off.

Ginny didn't say anything, she didn't feel the need to. She just kept her eyes on her hands that were intertwined with his.

After minutes, maybe it was longer, Narcissa spoke again.

"When I found out I had conceived, I was beside myself. I could hardly believe it and in such dark times. I was already naming him in my mind. Arcturus. Rigel. Orion. He would be destined for greatness." She said, gazing down at her son with the kind of love only a mother had. "I went to a Seer the next morning, Agatha the Horrid, they called her. My mother had trusted her visions with ludicrous certainty. Lucius had thought it was a bad idea, but I had lost children before and I didn't think I would be able to handle it if it happened again. I just wanted to know he would live." Her voice caught and Ginny wasn't sure what she would do if Narcissa cried in front of her.

What she would supposed to do.

Ginny listened to her still without speaking, and Narcissa didn't shed a single tear as she continued. "She told me many things, things I wish I could forget." A haunted look passed through cool blue eyes. "The problem with Seers, the real ones, they don't only tell you what you ask. They tell you all they see." Ginny felt a shiver go down her spine at her words.

"She had prophesized the death of my parents, the burning of the house. She foretold Bella's madness, though that was no shock. Among all the other dreadful affairs she told me of my impending widowhood, "Your love will kill the one you love." I was in tears, cursing her halfway to hell and bawling all sorts of threats the way young girls do when they are particularly emotional." Her voice was controlled, but for the first time she refused to make eye contact. "But then she spoke of my son and perhaps he had been her saving grace, for all the other foul things she had said I would have had her killed." She didn't look guilty over it, just truthful.

"Is Draco going to die?" If that was what all this was a lead up to, she wanted the answer now.

No pretense, no backstory.

Narcissa put a hand on his cold cheek, "Gold will be his crown, in his despair he shall drown. Born under waning mars, forever engaged in a war between wanting to do good and his own evil nature. And under an eclipsed moon he will rise from a slumber, with the eyes of a dragon and only then will he scorch the earth of his enemies with the intensity of a thousand burning suns" I hadn't believed any of, not the good or the horrible and left that decrepit shack in Knockturn Alley without allowing myself to spare that woman another thought. It had been a foolish idea to begin with." She shook her head.

"Then Draco was born and perhaps it had been coincidence that Mars had been waning, perhaps it had been coincidence that the moon was eclipsed. The birthing witch had torn him from my arms before I'd had the chance to get a look at him, before I even got to name him. What she had said next staggered me, I can hear her in my ears even now. 'Such striking silver eyes. They are the eyes of a dragon.' It was like Agatha's voice had come out of her mouth—that was no coincidence."

Ginny's eyes widened at the revelation, at her words and her tone.

At how she didn't sound scoffing or disbelieving, if anything she was accepting.

And if she was accepting, then what exactly had she reconciled?

"I knew then that everything that old bat had said was true, it would all come to fruition and I was at a loss for how to stop it. And it did, it all happened." Her voice sounded far away, "My parents burned, my sister went mad. My husband died at the hands of the man who had given me to him." She was eerily calm, her voice ghostly and unarmored.

Ginny held her breath, torn between wanting her to finish and wanting to run out of the door.

"However, to answer your question, Ginevra, no I don't believe he will die." She looked at her through determined blue eyes. "Even poison cannot kill a dragon."

-x-

She had left Draco's room when Terence had come in with Daphne, they were under strict orders to keep the amount of visitors in the room to a minimum.

In the waiting room she found Cassius, practically burning a hole in the carpet. Somewhere down the hall she could hear the telltale sounds of Kennedy's twinkly laugh.

She approached Cassius with ease as he lifted his gaze from the floor to meet hers. "Something on your mind?" She said with a knowing smile.

"it's obvious?" He asked through sheepish brown eyes.

Ginny laughed, "Well, you seem to be pacing your way through the floorboards, Cass." She shrugged a shoulder. "Sit down, keep me company for a while, would you?" She could do with some sort of distraction, even if it's just young Cassius Dolohov.

He looked trouble, but he did as she asked anyway. "How is he?" he asked.

Ginny crossed her legs at the ankles. "Much of the same." She answered honestly. "But he's going to pull through this." He has to.

Cassius nodded, "I agree." He echoed. "Zab's getting better, they say he might be out of critical care soon." He said, trying to cheer up the mood.

Ginny's eyes brightened at the news. "Are you serious?" She hadn't been able to visit Blaise in a few days, his mother had placed some rather strict restrictions on his visitation and Ginny supposed she wasn't high on the small list of allowed visitors. "His wounds are healing then?" She asked with hope.

"Much slower than they like, but it seems that way, yes." He said carefully. "They're optimistic, but extremely uncertain at the same time. The medics will say they're hoping for a full recovery but in the same breath negate it all by saying how bad the damage is." He rubbed the back of his neck.

She looked over at him, noticing the dark shadows under his eyes like bruises, the dullness of his usually bright auburn eyes, his usually shining brown hair limp and lifeless as it hung in his eyes.

He was usually all humor and carelessness, but even he couldn't play this off. "They're strong, they've been through worse, still." She wasn't sure how convincing she sounded, but it was better than silence.

"They've been there for me, you know? Cap't more so, but Zab too. They get it more than anyone else." He scrubbed a hand over his face.

"Everything with you father?" She swallowed.

Cassius looked at her, "Yeah, and brother." He nodded. "Malfoy, he gets what it's like to go against what your people expect of you. What your family expects of you, he understands that burden. He helped me through a lot of it and I never even had to ask him."

"There is goodness in Draco, though he'll deny it until the end." She said with a small fond smile.

The corners of his mouth twitched up, just for a moment. "I think you have an effect on him." He mused.

Ginny shook her head, "I think it's always been there. The war, more than anything else, changed him." She said honestly.

"He had come with me to the trials, you know." He mentioned. "For my father and Nicklaus."

"I didn't know." She admitted.

He shrugged a shoulder, "I needed him there, I think, he knew that somehow." He sighed.

"I had been pretty shaken up about my father, it was weak of me to be but I couldn't help it. It wasn't that I was outraged or upset the way my sister and mother had been, it was actually the opposite. I felt no sympathy for him at all, in fact I was relieved to hear the verdict. That was what had shaken me." He told her with discomfort. "I couldn't stop feeling guilty over that, what kind of person would be relieved to hear of their father's death sentence." Even now, he sounded torn.

Ginny put a hand on his arm, "Disagreeing with your father's inhumane choices doesn't make you a monster, Cass." She said kindly.

He nodded, "It wasn't about him, not really. It was about me. That if I could be so unfeeling towards my own blood, what other truly immoral things could I be capable of." His gaze darkened at the words. "I was afraid that whatever demons lived in him must be hiding somewhere in me too and that no matter how much I tried to be different from all of them, it wouldn't matter in the end. I was fated to be evil." He said roughly.

"That isn't true and you know it." She said sternly.

He gave her a short smile, "It's hard to believe that sometimes." He confessed. "After the trials had concluded, I think Malfoy knew how it had affected me. He had watched Lucius go to Azkaban when he was my age, after all. He said something that I think he probably wished someone had told him, 'We are not our fathers, Cassius. We can be better.'

-x-

"You've been asleep a while."

He's in another place again, not the white walls or halls or corridors. He's lying beneath the setting sun, the sky painted with hues of oranges and pinks and purples dripping with poetic ambiance. The grass is greener than he's ever seen it and the grounds are unbelievably quiet.

Hogwarts, at last.

"I know." He muttered to her.

He turned his head to stare at her, the retreating sunlight bathing her in hues of scarlet and gold.

As if she was kissed by fire.

"I miss you terribly, couldn't you wake up?"

"I'm trying." He promised with frustration. "I've thought only of you for as long as I've been here."

"So what's taken you so long to allow me to come here?"

The question was valid, but he had no answer. "My mind is dark and full of terrors. It's no place for a beautiful girl." He told her.

"But I'm here now and I've yet to see anything terrible. Only you and me."

He looked around, "I'm what you should be terrified of the worst." He brooded. "You realize getting involved with me was the biggest mistake of your life.

"Oh, how presumptuous of you. You Malfoys and your vanity, is there anything you think doesn't revolve around you?"

He let out a humorless laugh. "I tell you I'm terrible and you call me vain?" He scoffed.

"You think that your existence will be my undoing, how is that not vain?"

He lifted himself to his elbows. "I call it a warning more than anything else. You should know better than to be with someone like me." He sighed.

"Send me away then."

She said it with a rueful pout of her lips, the same that she knows would get him to do the exact opposite of what she just suggested. In essence, she challenged him to do something that was hardly possible to begin with but the whatever slim chance he had of achieving it, she had dashed with that look.

He had never been good at resisting his impulses, he never had to be. He was used to getting whatever it was he wanted, when he wanted it. So he was only slightly disappointed in his own selfishness, when he leaned over her body to kiss her lips.

She felt so real then, the soft padding of her tongue against his lower lip. The arching of her back as she pressed her breasts against his chest. Her fingers deftly tangling themselves in the hair at the nape of his neck.

He pulled away with all the strength he had.

"You know I won't." He said with a shake of his head.

"Well stop looking so regretful about it, then."

"I love you when I shouldn't." He couldn't begin to regret that, but he hates himself for it all the same. "I'm keeping you from your family and all the people that are important to you. I'm forcing you to choose me." He wished he could be a better man.

"You act as if I'm some damsel you've locked in your high tower."

She was unamused at best, she hated being likened to a heroine in need of saving.

He took her hand in his, "I would lock you away if I could." He would keep her to himself, if he gave into his darkest desires. "I'd do it if it meant keeping you from harm." What that really meant though, was keeping her to himself.

"Hermione told me about an old muggle story she'd read as a child. It was about this beautiful young girl who was locked in a big house with a beastly creature. She was frightened of him, while he loved her."

"Granger should keep her wivestales to herself." He rolled his eyes.

She ignored him.

"He was an odious thing, the beast. A lonely creature, his solitude had turned him into something hard yet cowardly."

"Poor girl." He drawled, failing to understand the point of this story.

"But you know, the girl ended up loving him as he was. As the monster. And it was her love that transformed the beast into a prince at the end, the loveliest prince in all the lands."

Draco laid back down, fingers still twined with hers. "How predictable." He murmured.

"He reminds me of you."

"Are you calling me ugly, Ginevra?" He raised his brows.

A laugh escaped her pretty pink lips as she rolled to her side.

"I would never tell such a heinous lie. But just that he had always been a prince, but his loneliness and sadness weighed him down so heavily it consumed him. He embodied it. And it wasn't until he met his soulmate that he was able to shed himself of such things."

He looked at her, eyes like whiskey he wanted to drink them. "Do you think you'll rid me of my darkness?" He wondered.

"No. But I will love you through it."

He hazarded to touch her, delicately threading her hair through his fingers. "Is that all it takes?" He asked softly.

"I don't think so, but what better place to start?"

"Your family wants me hung and you talk of fairytales and happy endings." He scoffed.

"The townspeople didn't love the beast either, but it didn't matter, did it?"

Draco wanted to shake her, remind her that this wasn't one of her romance novels. "I could go to Azkaban for the murder of your brother, Ginevra." He implored.

Her smile didn't falter.

"You won't."

"You are so sure I wish I had your faith. I don't think that it will turn out the way you and I hope." He told her seriously.

"Maybe if you believed in yourself half as much as I do you wouldn't think that way."

Her words soften him but only for a moment. "Not when your belief is so incredibly misplaced. Without my family's influence, I won't get out of this alive, you have to know that." He begged her to understand.

He wanted her to know that this was likely the end for them, and though he would never say it out loud, he needed her to be able to move on with her life without him.

He would never be able to forgive himself, even in death, if he caused her demise.

"Why are you so ready to die? Am I not enough for you to want to live?"

The sentiment shocked him. "I'm just prepared to do the right thing." He argued. "Nothing stands between me and justice, I refuse to buy my way out."

"Honorable, indeed. And who says honor would not be rewarded with goodness?"

"Your riddles are starting to bore me, stop speaking around the subject and get to the point." He growled.

"There is no point, Draco. This is just you buying time. You're stalling the inevitable because you're just so sure this is the end. It isn't."

He wanted to wring her neck and hold her close all at the same time. She was just as infuriating as she was charming and when combined with her beauty she was the most dangerous thing in the world.

"You think I won't wake up because I'm scared?" He accused.

"I think you won't wake up because you think you aren't ready."

He looked over at her, brows furrowed. "And if I'm not?" He wanted nothing more than to be rid of this dream world.

He watched the slight shrug of her shoulders before she spoke.

"You won't know unless you try and you're not trying, Draco. Not hard enough, anyway."

"How easy for you to say." He scowled.

"We're going to be alright, I just know it. All you need to do is trust me. Trust yourself. You didn't do this, you and I both know that—just believe it."

"I don't see how you're not more conflicted. Your brothers would see me burned at the stake if it were up to them." He muttered hatefully.

She lifted herself up to look down at him.

"That's probably true but they will never succeed."

"How do you figure that?" He asked with genuine confusion.

"Fire can't kill a dragon."

She shot up in her bed, her back ramrod straight and her back wet with sweat, her breathing coming out in short, shallow pants as her bleary eyes canvased the darkness. The clock at the side table shone 4:13AM, the only sound around her was the slight breathing of her roommates.

It had felt so real.

It was as if she had crawled out of her own mind and into his subconscious, on some level she was sure this was just a side effect of her haunting conversation with Narcissa. But another part of her was just aching to believe the opposite.

The opposite of logic and reason and sense.

The idea that maybe she was so connected to him that she could slip into his skin, walk through his mind, dream together when they couldn't physically be.

And was that so far of a reach?

When things like occulmency and legilimency and the Dark Lord infiltrating minds existed.

Could it not be that love, something so much bigger than the darkness, would allow them to coexist in the other's thoughts?

She felt herself wide awake and restless, her own mind racing with thoughts and theories and things that made her heart thump against her chest so hard she feared her ribs might break.

Tossing the covers off herself, she knew she needed to do something to clear her mind. Maybe even some homework, there was a potions essay she had been putting off for days that was due in a fortnight. Maybe if she got it done now, it would allow her more time with Draco on the weekend.

She found herself itching to leave the castle walls as soon as classes were over, as soon as her work was done. While normally Hogwarts was home away from home, right now it felt suffocating. The stares she was getting were incessant, and while most of the time she hardly even noticed, since she spent every waking moment in class or in the library, choosing to even take her meals with her work.

Ginny padded down the stairs, shuffling into the common room in her flannel pajamas and her hair a mess. The torches were dimly lit, casting an eerie glow over the armchairs and art and furniture, everything looking so much bigger than she had ever seen it. Shadows of the flames danced across the stony walls and across the cold floors and she realized she had never quite seen the common room so deserted.

So quiet.

So still.

It reminded her too much of Draco's hospital room, of Draco.

And for that reason alone, she was too exhausted to be there.

She was just about to turn back around to go up the steps back to the girls dormitories when she saw something shuffle on a couch in the far right corner.

With a hard grip on her wand, she tip toed her way across. She wasn't sure what she was looking for or who but she was certainly surprised to see cobalt blue eyes staring back at her.

"Terence?" She whispered, the firelight illuminating only his profile just enough to make him recognizable.

He dropped his face back into his hands, grunted something like a greeting and moved over when it looked like she wasn't going away any time soon.

She sunk into the plush couch, the tiredness of the day finally washing over her aching limbs. Suddenly, she couldn't remember why she had gotten out of bed in the first place, she could fall asleep right here.

But then she remembered she wasn't alone. "What are you doing here? Why are you up?" She questioned.

He mumbled something.

"Hmm?"

"Couldn't sleep." He said again, only barely clearer.

She leaned her head back, "Any particular reason?" She hummed.

He shifted, elbows on his knees. "Too many to count, Red. But I don't think I need to tell you that." He said.

She nodded, "All this stuff with Draco and Zab has been hard on all of us." She commiserated.

"What's this I heard about your family wanting to take him straight from the hospital bed to Azkaban?" He looked at her through bagged eyes and crinkled brows.

Ginny sighed, "They think he murdered my brother, Ter. They just want justice." She was tired, exhausted really, and the last thing she felt like doing was defending her family.

But for some reason, she felt like she needed to.

She hadn't discussed the details of Draco's case, any of this stuff, with anyone except Narcissa and sometimes Hermione and Kennedy. And while the latter two had vested interest the Weasley family, so they kept their opinions to themselves. Narcissa never once blamed her or her family for the trial, never once sounded accusatory or angry. Never stopped her from visiting Draco or treated her any differently because of it.

Something which Ginny didn't trust at first, but began to realize that Narcissa wasn't really concerned with why all this was happening, only just with Draco getting better.

It made her want to focus on that too.

It was almost easy to forget about the chaos that was waiting once he did.

"It's kinda cruel though, don't you think? I mean the guy is going to wake up from a freakin' coma and they're just gonna cart him off? How can you be cool with that?"

"I'm not, but there isn't anything I can do about it right now." She said hotly. "They're not exactly listening to anything I've got to say, and when I say too much they think I'm fragile and start talking about shipping me off." She was frustrated and these days her patience was invisible it was so thin.

"Woah, what? Where?" He sputtered, facing her.

Her shoulders slumped, "They're trying to convince me to finish out my semester at Beauxbatons, live with my brother Bill and sister in law Fleur." She hadn't told anyone this, not even Kennedy.

Mostly because she didn't even want to talk about something that was never going to happen, she didn't want to spend a second dwelling on something that wasn't even remotely possible. She didn't want to even consider it, a small part of her was scared she might start to, if things started getting too bad.

"Are you serious? Why?" He seemed genuinely concerned.

"They say it's because they think it'll help, clear my mind and get over all the horrible things that happened in that house." She answered.

"And what do you think?"

"Honestly?" She squeezed her eyes shut. "I think they just want to put a country between me and Draco and hope it'll get him out of my system." She knew her parents better than they knew her.

They pretended not to know anything was going on between her and Draco, choosing to remain blissfully ignorant to the things they didn't want to accept.

It was how they had dealt with her much of her life.

Terence dragged a hand through his raven hair. "That's heavy, Red. I…I'm sorry." He apologized gruffly. "If it's any consolation, I'd definitely miss you if you left." He gave her half a grin.

One that was stony and insincere.

"I…yeah. I'm just trying to cross a hurdle at a time." She said. "The only thing on my mind is Draco's recovery, everything else can wait."

"He might be better off out of it, considering." He shrugged a shoulder.

"You Slytherins and your morbidity." She waved off. "Deimos Mourning hasn't lost a case yet, well not considering the Dolohov one but that was open and shut. I don't understand why you all don't have more faith, he's a great attorney and he's invested in the Malfoy's. He seems to be fond of them." She said positively.

Terence let out a snort through his nose, "Mourning's a sell sword. He doesn't care about anything except making galleons, he'd represent the Weasley's if they somehow were able to pay him more." He shook his head.

Ginny's eyes widened at the statement, "Do you really think that?" She felt the cold sting of dejection creeping into her bones.

"I know it." Terence said honestly. "But, come on. Get that look of your face." His features softened at her downcast eyes. "Regardless of self-serving motives, Mourning's the best there is. If he could get Nick out of the twenty year bid he was facing, I'd believe in Draco's chances."

"Why don't you sound more sure then?" She asked unhappily.

"I'm sorry, I've just got…stuff going on." He apologized.

And she could see it on his face, he looked like he'd just gotten his heart broken.

She wondered why she didn't see it sooner.

"Ter…is it…" She swallowed down her question.

He chuckled dryly, "Yeah, yeah it is. Guess it's obvious, then huh?" He asked.

She shook her head, "I…it took me too long to see it." She murmured. "What, what happened?"

He moved his leg up to the couch, "She broke up with me." He said roughly. "Didn't really say why, even though she rambled on apologies for hours, she never really got to the point." And maybe that was the worst part, that he didn't even really do anything wrong.

At least if he had royally screwed up, he'd have something to blame to it on.

Some kind of reason.

But she couldn't even give him that much.

Ginny leaned her head on his broad shoulder. "I'm sorry, Ter. I know how much she meant to you." She wrapped an arm across his chest, pulling him into an awkward half hug.

Terence didn't lean into her embrace, he didn't push her off either. "I know why, though." He continued. "She was too much of a coward to say it, but I know it's coz of your brother."

Ginny could've figured as much, but she never wanted to be the one to tell him. Or be around when he found out. "You deserved better than that." She admitted. "Rosie's my best friend, but she can be extremely selfish at times. I suppose it comes with the territory when you're that beautiful. As if the sun rises and sets just for her, as if the world orbits her." She wasn't sure if it was a defense, she didn't really feel like aiding her best friend in this anyway.

Kennedy was at fault for almost the entirety of this situation, there was nothing she could say or do that could justify how she strung Terence along all these months, only to decide what she felt for Ron was worth more.

"I've always loved her, even when she was with Zab. Even through all the mess with…" He didn't finish. "Guess it didn't really matter, did it?" He barked a short laugh.

And her heart broke for him.

"I hate seeing you like this." She said softly. "If I could do something to take this away, I would." She promised.

He gave her a small sad smile. "I should say something like 'I only want her to be happy' but it too much of a lie." He couldn't find it in himself to be sympathetic or understanding.

"When'd she do it?" Ginny asked.

"Two days ago, but I guess I probably should have seen it coming a while ago." He was sure this wasn't an overnight decision.

"It'll get better, Ter. I know that sounds like such generic shit and I wish I had the words to say that would make it true." She said solemnly. "I just don't."

"You don't have to comfort me red." He patted the hand that was still over his shoulder.

"I know that, but you're my friend too. And as much as I love Kennedy, I hate to see you hurt." She said sincerely. "Who else knows?"

"I think Daph does, she's been…nice lately." He struggled to find the words, unsure if that was even the right one.

Ginny let out a soft laugh, "Well, according to Rosie she's been more of a bitch than usual. Clearly she's chosen sides." She said lightly.

"And what side are you on?" he raised his brows at her.

She rubbed her cheek against his arm. "I'm always on your side if you need me." She promised.

"I'd never make you choose, Red."

"I know." She stifled a yawn.

Terence moved out of her embrace, "Let's get you to bed, I think I need some sleep too. Tomorrow's a new day."

"And who knows what it has in store for us."

-x-

A/N: WELLLLLL, it's been a while. I'm so sorry. But the good news is that my wedding happened, it's over and now…I'M MARRIED.

Uh, yeah the hiatus was due to my wedding…not sure if I told you guys that before but I'm telling you now? So…don't hold it against me please! I also have an update for SOG outtakes, which I will be posting sometime in the next few days!

Hope you guys can forgive my lengthy absence and read and review the latest chapter! It might be a little confusing, the back and forth between the dream world and this one but I promise I do have a plan, I have the skeleton for the rest of this story, I'm just fleshing it out!

I don't have much else to say… except

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING, ALL YOUR REVIEWS AND SUPPORT MEANS THE WORLD.

Also, a lot of this chapter was written during a GoT binge, if you feel some references or some familiarity creeping in…it's because of that!

Alright that's all I have, questions concerns and comments are always welcome and like always I am indebted to your support!

Happy reading!