AN: I've had this ending worked out since I started writing, and I'll tell you why:
This fic was tailored to one person's tastes, and one person's tastes alone -- Sarea's. I asked her for a list of elements before I began, and she gave them to me, in the vaguest way possible. "Guilty pleasure premise," "Angst," "Snogging," "Smut," "Happy ending."
Note that up there. Happy ending. But happy endings aren't easy, they don't just fall out of the sky -- you've got to work hard for them. You've really got to earn them.
To Lucius and ~Here'sLookingAtYouKid~, in particular, I thank you for the eloquently sweet words you've left from the beginning.
A few of you have asked about more D/G fic from me -- just wanted to point out that I've actually already written one, called The Hours Between: http://fanfiction.net/read.php?storyid=1005794 -- I know it only has one chapter, but I promise, it's finished. It was a quick one-off, also written for Sarea and her awful, awful life.
Oh yeah. I do it all for Sarea. Anyway--
Here's me, working for Happily Ever After. More blathering to follow.
Epilogue: King Arthur's Last Gift
"Not all a lie nor all true, not all fable nor all known . . ."
This was what the foremost authority on King Arthur and his life wrote of the story Muggles believe to be legend, so this is what I write now as I try to tell the story of a new legend, one that Muggles will share at bedtime and make moving pictures about, but never really believe, for it is a tale too fantastical, too rooted in magic and evil and good and make believe to ever be taken seriously.
Since all good stories require a point of view, I'll lend mine, which is appropriate, considering I was there. I've been asked by my colleagues to divulge the intimate details of my relationship with Draco Malfoy, to explain my friendship with his wife and just what exactly went on over the past nine years.
I want to be perfectly frank: this article is the last that I will speak on this matter. After it is published, I will go on with my life. I will not answer any further questions, nor publish a memoir telling all the really juicy details. I am a reporter and I will continue to do as I have always done: observe and experience and report back my findings to you, the readers of the Daily Prophet. I apologize if it is somewhat scattered, but these events are deeply personal to me and I find myself unable to detach my emotions from the facts.
What follows is not all lie nor all true, not all fable nor all of what I know, but it is all that will ever be known by my telling.
This, then, is the story of the end.
Though even saying that much isn't quite accurate. The story ended days ago, we won, fade to black on the hero kissing his leading lady. This is more of a coda, really. This is more what happened after the end.
I certainly wasn't the leading lady, I can tell you that much. That part went to Hermione Potter. Ron Weasley was the plucky sidekick, and Harry Potter was the hero we all knew him to be. There were other players, of course. Fred and George Weasley, the loyal comic relief; Neville Longbottom, the clever boy no one suspected of any cleverness at all; Kyle and Lysandra McGraw, the gentle Hufflepuffs no one ever imagined could be running an entire undercover operation in the back room of their gallery.
There was Ezra Malfoy and her practiced elegance and switchblade smile, taking over her father's council position after he'd held it for only four years, moving from wizarding house to wizarding house with sharp efficiency, assuring the wives of other dark wizards of how loyal the new generation's Malfoys were, how eager they were to help in whatever way they could. There was poor, sweet Dean Thomas who was the first to die, and brave, beautiful Seamus Finnigan who avenged his friend's death.
A thousand stories told, battles fought, and only one that truly interests me:
Because in the end, there was Draco Malfoy, the enigmatic double agent that turned the tide of battle in our favor. There was Lucius Malfoy's death at the hands of his Lord, one of the first to fall under a siege of dark magic intended to lay waste to the entire world. Because of Draco, we knew it was coming. Because of Ezra, no one ever suspected Draco of being anything more than a wizard with a Dark Mark on his arm.
And because of Draco, Albus Dumbledore had just enough time to prepare.
At the end of every good story, someone's got to die. It's an unwritten law somebody really ought to copy down someday (I'd be happy to do the honors right now). A sacrifice meant to heighten the hero's triumph; to temper the joy of victory with the sorrow of ultimate defeat. No matter what some of the great dark wizards will tell you, you never do quite bounce all the way back from being dead.
I always knew someone would die; that Dean wouldn't be the only one of our circle to go. Visions, you know. Once, I told Harry that, and he got very quiet and sad, and I promised him that it wouldn't be Hermione. He'd been desperate to believe me, and I'd promised him again, and for every day after that, it was as though someone had lifted a great weight from his shoulders. Finally, he could breathe and plan and win.
Months after that day, just as things were beginning to come to a head, Harry took me aside and we had a conversation I will remember for as long as I live:
"It won't be him either, Gin," he'd said, and I was so distracted at the time, I hadn't understood.
"Draco," he'd said, and the name had caught my attention, because everyone normally went to an extraordinary effort never to mention his name to me. "It's not going to be him, either, any more than Hermione."
"How do you know?" I'd whispered hoarsely. Everyone knows now that I've had visions since my sixth year at Hogwarts. There are only three people who've never asked me about the future: Harry and Albus Dumbledore.
"Don't know," Harry answered. "I just do. We're so close, Gin . . . can't you feel it? The universe wouldn't do that to you, not now, not when we're so close."
And then he'd been pulled away from me, and I hadn't had a chance to speak with him again until it was all over. I asked him how he knew, how he was so sure Draco wouldn't die, and he never has given me a straight answer about it. I'm not sure I really want one. I think I'm happy just knowing how many of us made it.
Thinking of all those still left only serves to remind me of the one man who is no longer with us. Today was a sunny day, one of the brightest London has ever seen, the day we buried him. What remained of the Ministry nearly went mad trying to keep the location hidden from prying Muggle eyes. There were more wizards in attendance than the last two Quidditch World Cup matches combined, a sea of black robes stretching on for nearly a mile in either direction, forming a band around the concentric circle of the funeral pyre, flames magically burning eternally over nothing but stone and marble.
Ezra Malfoy's funeral was a much smaller affair, attended only by Draco and myself. Many questions have been asked about Draco's decision to send their daughter, Danae, to live with her godfather, Seamus Finnigan, immediately after her mother's death. If my readers are unable to muster up any sympathy for Draco Malfoy, I would ask that they try to respect Danae's privacy so soon after her mother's death.
Most say Ezra's death was what turned Draco Malfoy against the Death Eaters. Think what you like, for the truth is never as simple as black and white.
Today, Minerva McGonagall looked tired and older than I've ever known her to be, dressed in widow's black complete with veil. Severus Snape stood by her side, his face more stoic than usual, also dressed in black, though that in and of itself was not a strange occurrence.
Sometimes, when I'm the saddest about his absence, I think of why he did it. I think of all those that are still left, and know in my heart that he wouldn't have it any other way. It fell upon Remus Lupin and Sirius Black to speak the eulogy. Their words were all our words, their pain all our pain. We won and he lost and we all lost and no one has decided how to feel about it yet. Voldemort (For I absolutely refuse to cower in fear from his name a second longer) is finally gone, banished to the hell where, Merlin willing, he will stay this time.
And we've all been waiting, wondering where the next blow will come from, too scared and shocked to mourn the dead or celebrate the living. But today we force ourselves to face the world we are left with, to stand tall and honor the final sacrifice made by the greatest wizard of our time.
Today, we all gathered together for the first time in nearly ten years to lay the soul of Albus Dumbledore to rest.
In legend, King Arthur was mortally wounded in battle, his body mysteriously transported to the Island of Avalon where he would rest until the time came for him to rise again and resume his role as ruler.
During the final battles with Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore's body was consumed in a light so bright and blinding that those who bore witness to it had trouble seeing clearly for days afterward. Privately, I like to believe he is resting somewhere, waiting for the day that he might rise again.
In the meantime, we who knew him are forced to gather and mourn, because for the time being, Albus Dumbledore is gone, and the entire wizarding world is weeping.
--Ginny Weasley, November 1st, 2008
It started out simply enough, as most things do. An owl from an old friend (they were friends, after all, no matter what else), heard you were in town, it's been ages, and would you like to pop 'round and see the baby?
She hadn't really been a baby anymore, though. Danae had been nearly five by that time and every bit her mother, with the slightest hints of her father whenever she smiled.
Six years past since they'd all been together, six years until Ezra's owl arrived and Ginny found herself unable to refuse, unable to pass up the opportunity to see what Draco Malfoy's child looked like. And so, in town near the large, stately manor Draco and Ezra called home, Ginny paid her old friends a visit.
Ezra put out tea and scones and they exchanged pleasantries. Draco was not in the room, having taken Danae out for a go on the Flying Swings (an invention of Fred and George's) in the back yard. Ginny spoke with great affection of the passion she had for journalism, and Ezra confessed that she and Draco had kept clippings in a scrapbook of every article Ginny had ever published.
"I catch him up late at night reading them," she'd confessed, and Ginny had been horrified and thrilled at the same time.
"I'm sure he's just--"
"In love with you still?" Ezra offered with a grin. "Yes, I'd imagine so."
"Ezra," Ginny whispered, but any further conversation had been derailed by the sound of tiny feet padding at a hurried pace into the library.
Actually seeing Danae caused Ginny's heart to flip over in her chest. The little girl held tightly to Draco's hand, and Ginny didn't let herself look at him just yet, focusing instead on the tiny pixie face before her, the dark hair and mischievous mouth she'd inherited from her mother, and the rest of her that was all her father, and how had no one ever noticed it before?
To Ginny, it was painfully obvious, from Danae's shining green eyes and infectious, sunny disposition that Draco Malfoy was not her biological father.
Not so obvious to everyone, it would seem, Ezra explained after Danae went down for her nap. People only saw what they wanted to see, and the Malfoy and Easton clans merely wanted Ezra and Draco to procreate. The entire time Ezra was speaking, Ginny could not bring herself to look away from Draco. Time had left its mark on him, but if anything, he had grown further into his looks, his pale skin infused with the healthy glow of days spent playing with his daughter in the sunshine.
Ginny made her excuses that day, her mind spinning with questions and suppositions. Did Draco know Danae wasn't his? Surely he must. Ezra knew, of that Ginny was certain, because anyone who knew Seamus Finnigan well saw him in Danae's face every time she laughed.
Draco did know, Ginny learned a few weeks later when, once more in town for a story, Ezra sent another owl. And again, they had tea, and Ezra told Ginny more secrets. Ginny had known, of course, that Draco and Ezra had been assisting Harry and Hermione with their Muggle Technology bill, had been two of its keenest supporters (advocating publicly, of course, that the incorporation and understanding of Muggle technology would further ensure that Muggles themselves were never able to intrude upon the Wizarding world), that it was at Ezra's prodding that Edmond Easton had agreed to head the department in the first place.
Ezra had always been pulling the strings (her father had no interest in Muggle technology, and only agreed to head the division in the first place at Ezra's behest; he was, frankly, glad to see she'd finally taken an interest in something), and two years ago, Edmond had finally stepped down officially, allowing Ezra to run things without interference beyond the usual Ministry red tape. Ginny knew all that. What she did not know was that late-night meetings supposedly spent discussing cost and safety had actually been a mask for an elaborate information exchange.
They were double agents, Ezra and Draco. Few dark wizards suspected Draco and none of them had any idea Ezra was also a traitor. It was part of their plan, Ezra the poor, put-upon wife whose husband didn't have the proper respect for the Dark Lord, because he had no respect for anyone or anything outside of himself. Sometimes, the other wives told her things, just to cheer her up.
Certainly, no one suspected Ezra of carrying on a torrid affair with Seamus Finnigan who, along with his friend, Dean Thomas, had taken low-level jobs at the Ministry so they might spy on the things that otherwise had a tendency to get lost in the cracks.
Ginny took in all this new information fairly well.
"Why didn't he contact me?!" she all but shrieked. "If it's all right for you and Seamus to carry on, why . . ."
"Why couldn't you and he carry on as well?" Ezra said with a smirk. "Simple: Seamus is a stupid oaf who doesn't know what's good for him, and wasn't about to let me go. Draco is also a stupid oaf who doesn't know what's good for him and wanted to make sure you were safe. He didn't . . . he didn't want you to be thought of as . . ."
"Doesn't he know," Ginny whispered, "that I don't care what anyone thinks of me, so long as I can be with him?"
"Maybe he would," Ezra said pointedly, "if you'd ever told him. You cut off all contact, Gin. He assumed that was the way you wanted things--"
"It was the way he wanted them!" Ginny sputtered. "He wouldn't even talk to me after . . . after . . ."
"Yes, well," Ezra said, gesturing to indicate that she understood when Ginny was referring to, "after our wedding, he did close off a bit. Danae's the only thing that makes him smile these days, though God knows, I do try to give him a laugh now and then. He's just hopeless without you, Gin," she said with a sigh. "And I've brought you back into this against his and your brother Ron's wishes, because I can't look at him moping around like that another second." Ezra grinned. "Plus, we really, really need someone inside the Daily Prophet."
After that meeting, Ginny made routine trips to visit Mrs. Malfoy. Weeks went by, and Draco continued to make himself scarce, until one day, Ezra, having had enough of watching Draco avoid Ginny, and Ginny being too frightened to confront him, left them alone in the living room together, claiming she needed to take Danae out for "a long, long, long, long walk far away from the house."
"Subtle, isn't she," Draco noted dryly.
"As a skillet to the face," Ginny agreed, nervously wringing her hands together.
"Nice, isn't it," he said after a minute of awkward silence, "a wife not only condoning, but facilitating an adulterous rendezvous between her husband and her best friend."
"Is that what this is?" she asked after a moment.
"I haven't a clue," Draco said. "I never wanted you involved in this, I didn't want you to be--"
"Rubbish," Ginny snapped. "You were scared. You've been terrified since the night I told you I wasn't running off with you, terrified and a little bit relieved--"
"Relieved?!" he yelled. "Are you mad? I was devastated when you--"
"Devastated," she scoffed. "Is that why you ignored me, pretended I didn't exist?"
"I was just doing what was best for you!" he insisted.
"You were doing what was best for you," she seethed, "just like always!"
"You haven't known me in a very long time, brat," he said in a low, dangerous voice, "and you shouldn't presume to know what 'always' means."
"You're right," she said primly, smoothing the lines out of her robe as she stood up. "I should be going, Mr. Malfoy." At the door of the library, she turned back to him. "And don't call me that ever again. The man that used to call me that loved me and would have done anything for us to be together. When he told me it was impossible, I believed him, and I cried myself to sleep over him more nights than I can count. If there had been a way for us to be together, he would have found it."
Before she could turn and make the dramatic exit she'd intended, he sprang toward her, grabbed her arm, and pulled her to him roughly.
"He did find a way," he said in a cold, angry voice. "You didn't want to live with the consequences."
"There had to be some middle ground! It was too much to ask!" she yelled. "Leave everything behind for a man who might not even love me beyond the next month?"
"I have loved you for seven years," he said intensely, cold fire crackling behind his eyes. "I loved you before I even knew you! You were in my head that entire summer after my sixth year and it was all I could do to pretend you were nothing more than Annoying Ron Weasley's kid sister. When you came to me with your little proposal -- which, I'm glad to see seems to have worked out so well for you -- I was over the moon and gutted all at once. There had never been anything like you in this world for me, and a minute of you was worth more than my entire life before. So no, I don't think it was too much to ask, and I don't think that . . ." It was at that point that he realized she was crying, and it seemed he was as unable as ever to see her in tears.
He started kissing her at that point, kisses that pulled at her lips and dried her tears, and she whispered that she was sorry and she loved him and he could call her whatever he liked so long as he never let her go again.
And there was nothing illicit about it, as they both seemed to be pretending there was absolutely nothing to pretend about. This might have been their house for all they knew, as they kissed and tore at one another, peeling back the social niceties to get to the vulnerable flesh and beating hearts that lay beneath it all. A game of make believe, designed to convince both that all there was to it was a blessed reunion of mouths and flesh and tongues and teeth.
The desperation inherent in their mating belied the pretense, but neither cared. They were rough and ungraceful, both of them mostly untried in carnal matters. They had only ever been with each other, after all; had only ever wanted each other. Strange, how all her friends had spent the better part of six years counseling her to find a man and marry him, or, at the very least, bed him; strange how, as she felt him inside her again at last, her heart broke with the sweet, sweet joy that she had waited for him, and she whispered into his ear on a caught breath how very much she had missed him.
Spent, spread out upon the floor of Draco and Ezra Malfoy's living room, they caught their breaths and stared at the ceiling, hands clutched tightly, wondering how they had lasted this many years apart; wondering at how this feeling, this memory hadn't faded, hadn't been blown up in their minds as something better than reality, how it really was just that good.
And then Ginny noticed (having been far too distracted trying to get his pants off earlier) the scar on his abdomen; noticed that it was barely a scar at all now, having faded the way her memories never had.
"It started after," he answered when she asked about it.
"After you cried for me," he answered gruffly.
They were quiet for a moment, and she remembered when he'd told her how he'd gotten his scar, the pain in his voice as he'd detailed such a horror from his own father. Slowly, she reached out her hand and gently brushed her fingers over the faced scar.
"Funny thing about enchantments, isn't it?" she murmured, and he'd looked at her like she was an angel or a goddess or something equally dramatic like that. Then he'd tumbled her back to the floor and they'd pretended awhile longer.
Things progressed from there. The arrangement didn't come about easily, but it certainly came about naturally. Soon, the press got word that Ginny Weasley and Seamus Finnigan had begun to date. Ginny's and Ezra's friendship was well known by that point ("You know how it is," Ezra told Rita Skeeter, "you meet up with an old friend from school, and bam! It's like you've never been apart.") and it seemed only natural that the two couples would holiday together, Danae in tow.
"Should have thought of this years ago," Ezra mumbled to Draco as she packed their bags.
"Wouldn't have worked years ago," Draco disagreed.
Seeing Danae and Seamus together brought a tear to Ginny's eye. Danae called him Uncle Seamus and it seemed to give him as much joy as pain. Danae adored Draco, but the bond she had with Seamus was undeniable.
No one in the wizarding world paid them much mind. Once a month, they met with Harry, Hermione and Ron to discuss whatever changes had occurred in the interim. Voldemort had risen years before, and was building a following in Indonesia before moving back to the more densely populated continents. His followers had been spotted in Paris and Rome, making new recruits and cashing in old debts. Things were at once the most dangerous and the most peaceful Ginny could ever remember.
"You were right, you know," Draco told her one long, rainy night a year into their arrangement. They were staying in the same room they always stayed in, overlooking Diagon Alley, a few doors down from the room Ezra, Seamus and Danae were staying in. The curtains were closed, as they always were, lest someone spy them carrying on in what would seem to the world to be an extra-marital affair. Never mind that the wife in question knew -- and fully supported -- the arrangement.
"You were right," he said, and she looked at him questioningly. "There is nothing but this," he continued, staring at her and through her at the same time. "You and me, here as we are now, is the only real world. Everything else is false. Hollow. What we have to go through to get back to this. Six bloody years to get back to this."
"Been thinking about that for six years, have you?" she murmured softly, a smile on her face.
"Sometimes I think I do nothing but think of things you've said to me," he muttered ruefully. "You tie me up, brat. You tie me up in knots I don't ever want to escape from."
"That's a bit pervy," Ginny noted with a giggle.
"Perhaps we should try knots," he said thoughtfully and they spent the next half-hour ransacking the hotel room for just the right accessories.
It was only a year before Harry and Hermione started recruiting spies in earnest, a few weeks before Christmas.
Dean Thomas's death was the beginning of it.
One of Voldemort's loyal followers in the Ministry had discovered that Dean was spying on them. The whole of the Ministry was almost entirely under the Dark Lord's rule. In the entire world, there were only two places absolutely safe:
Hogwarts, and McGraw's Gallery.
Voldemort was able to monitor everywhere a wizard Apparated, and it gave him total control over the comings and goings of the Wizarding World. Hogwarts and the Gallery were a safe haven, protected by dozens upon dozens of wards that placed them beyond detection. Dumbledore funneled most of his life's energy into keeping them safe, and slept most of these dark years away, leaving the day to day task of running the Rebellion to Harry.
Ginny put her contacts inside the Daily Prophet to good use. Voldemort had seized control of the media, but Ginny was able to plant coded messages within the text of mundane articles. Voldemort returned to England and the Rebellion brought out the big guns. Wizards more capable with magic than brawn, like McGonagall and Hermione, stayed behind and helped Dumbledore fight a battle with magic. The others took up enchanted swords and magic bows and arrows, armed with wands and grim determination.
The first battles lasted for weeks. The skies were scorched with blood and magic, and the earth trembled. Muggles went on about the end of the world, shaking beneath the force of devastating 'earthquake' after 'earthquake.' Floods, they said, were caused by the seismic shifts in the earth. Floods they could never imagine were caused by the Dark Lord stamping his foot in rage as another line of his offense fell beneath the Rebellion's might.
Try as he might, Voldemort could never figure out where they came from. He watched Hogwarts, of course, but he never figured out how their forces got out of the school. The Gallery proved most useful in the final days, when Dumbledore finally ventured outside Hogwarts' walls.
Ginny didn't witness it personally. Draco and Ron had been badly injured and needed medical attention far beyond her ability. For as long as she lived, Ginny would never forget the look on her father's face when she and Hermione levitated the unconscious, bleeding bodies of his son alongside Draco Malfoy into the house. It made her smile like nothing had in days. Later, while Draco was still unconscious, Ron woke and gave her a long, measuring look.
"You're really in love with the stupid sod, aren't you?" he'd said, as though he still couldn't quite believe it.
"Yes," she'd answered simply.
"Could you pass on a message to him for me, then?" Ron wondered. "Tell him that if the bastard makes you shed so much as one tear, I'll hunt him down and kill him like a dog in the street. Use those exact words, Gin, don't go softening the blow because you're in love with him."
"I'll let him know as soon as he comes out of the coma," she'd answered ruefully, tears caught in her eyes and her throat and just about anywhere else pain was capable of leaking from her body.
Harry, Seamus and Ezra were the only ones who witnessed what happened between Dumbledore and Voldemort. Harry and Seamus, even years later, would never quite be able to recount what they'd seen, except to remark upon how bright it had been, how unimaginably blinding. Ezra, as the Daily Prophet itself reported long before anyone confirmed Dumbledore's death, had died at the hands of the Dark Lord.
Her family was distraught, her mother refusing to leave the house, her father blaming Draco and forbidding the Malfoys from ever setting foot in his house again. Danae, too, was disowned, pronounced "Malfoy filth."
Draco's mother had died years before, and with his father's death went his obligation to his marriage to Ezra. Lucius and most of the Death Eaters died in the final battle -- Ezra's father, did not, and like many of the Death Eaters who survived, he avoided prosecution with an age-old device -- he denied everything and spent an inordinate amount of money to ensure that proper evidence was never obtained. Ezra's death was the only way she would ever be free of him, and she wanted Draco and Danae to be free, as well. While he had mourned his mother deeply, her death had unburdened Draco in an immeasurable way, and his father's death more so. Ezra wanted to remove the last of his burdens, because while they had never had a true marriage, he was the most loyal friend she had ever had.
At least, that was what the diaries she kept told. They were discovered a few days after her death. They explained her state of mind perfectly and lent credence to the theory that she had perhaps wanted to die. People thought Draco a monster for sending his only daughter away to live in some artist's community in Ireland. She lived with her Godfather, Seamus Finnigan, and his new bride, a woman who everyone said bore a striking resemblance to Ezra Malfoy. No one ever thought about that resemblance too much, though, and if they tried, they would remember something else instead, something they'd forgotten to do or somewhere they desperately needed to go, and that would be the end of it. Some said there was magic surrounding their little family so thick you could wrap the mist of it around your wand. "Dumbledore's last gift," Seamus was often heard to remark.
Seamus Finnigan lived among Muggles, raised Draco and Ezra Malfoy's daughter among them. And Draco never said a word, never made a fuss. Visited them on holidays and every single year on Danae's birthday. They were happy.
People had a funny habit of believing what they read in the papers. And so, in Ginny's articles, she was very careful to hint at signs of impropriety between herself and Draco. People believed what they read, and the idea of taking up with a man so soon after his wife's death was just scandalous enough to keep people from figuring out that she wasn't really dead at all.
Hours after she'd finished her article, hours spent thinking about the last week, the last month, the last years of her life, Ginny found herself back where she'd always wanted to be, nestled against Draco's side, the beat of her heart acting as a peaceful lullaby in his ear.
There had been hours spent making up and making love, making sure each of them were all right, and is that a new scar, and does it hurt when I do this? and yes, yes it does, but please, please don't stop. They were curled up in bed at the same hotel in Diagon Alley they'd stayed at countless times before, speaking of insubstantial things, trying not to ask each other the hard questions, because the hard questions had a tendency to make silences longer and less comfortable than they should be otherwise, and they had never wanted to waste their precious time together on awkwardness.
Four years ago when they'd come together again, Ginny had made the conscious decision not to let any of the little things get in their way. She'd been waiting half her life for him, and now that he was hers and only hers, and no great, hulking obstacles stood in their way, she didn't intend to dawdle because she was insecure, or afraid, or anything of the kind.
His cheek was slightly rough against her breast, the pale moonlight of his hair softer than silk as she ran her fingers through it. So many shadows filled his storm-gray eyes, obscured from her by the first truly peaceful repose he'd taken in years.
Battles won at long last had that effect on the soul.
"Draco," she murmured gently, getting his attention.
"Yes, brat?" he answered affectionately, tilting his head up slightly so that she could see the fond, amused expression on his face, the half tilt of his wayward smirk.
"Is this it, then?"
His jaw was set and she longed to sooth him, to comfort him. He didn't allow it; he never had. A nasty disposition and biting cruelty had kept him isolated from anyone who might truly care about him for the first seventeen years of his life. She doubted anyone but Ezra and she had ever really known him, and Ezra certainly never got under his skin the way that Ginny had. She didn't mean that in an egotistical way; it was simply the way things were. Ginny was a part of him that he'd carried around all these years and she hadn't been whole without him, because he'd been carrying part of her with him.
Sometimes, Ginny could tell that Draco missed Danae very much. In so many ways, he'd been her father, and Ginny promised herself that he would always be a part of Danae's life. Ezra would see to it, if nothing else. Seamus might not like it, but he would grudgingly agree, because Ezra and Danae both had him wrapped around their little fingers.
Draco had taken to remarking lately that he couldn't wait to see if their children would have red hair or blonde hair.
Ginny couldn't wait to tell him she was pregnant.
He'd had enough shocks for one day, though, and she figured the news could wait until he'd actually asked her to marry him, which, if the small jeweler's box she'd found in his pocket earlier while looking for a handkerchief was any indication, would be sooner than one might think.
"Is this it, then?" she asked again, content in everything she held most dear being on this bed with her.
"What else is there?" he responded, running his fingers through her hair.
"My parents are never going to understand any of this," she declared with a resigned sigh.
"Fuck 'em," he announced, and before she could chastise him, he kissed her. He kissed her like they hadn't saved the world at all and it really was going to end tomorrow; he kissed her like the sun was going down on them and they might not have another moment like this one. He kissed her like he loved her and never intended to let her go again.
But, she thought the real point in all this, was that he kissed her.
End Notes: Well, that's it. There ain't no more. If you've stuck it out this far, good on you! I hope you feel the journey was worth it.
I'd like to take a quick moment to thank all the polite, sweet people who've commented on this story. (A special shout out to ~Here'sLookingAtYouKid~ -- well spoken. *g*) It's meant a lot, and I appreciate your thoughts, even the somewhat critical ones. What I don't appreciate, and find incredibly cowardly and childish is the habit some ff.net posters have in posting nasty attacks at an author without having the guts to put their name to it. If you don't like the writing style, the narrative, or anything else -- fine. Lodge a civil complaint (as some very nice anonymous users have done). Don't throw out false accusations you've no proof of.
In that vein, some of you seem to be operating under the mistaken idea that I have created a Mary Sue character. Some of you have called Ginny a Mary Sue, some Ezra -- which is something I don't understand at all. Perhaps you're confusing 'Original Character' with 'Mary Sue.' Maybe you're bitter from what you perceive as the story not turning out the way you wanted it to. Honestly, I don't really care. I didn't write this story for you, or for me, and I certainly didn't insert any more of myself into it than every author inserts into his or her own writing.
As I mentioned upon posting the first chapter of this story, this fanfic was written for my sister, Sarea, because it was her birthday and she was incredibly bored and stressed out, and she happened to love the D/G pairing. I've written a lot of fanfic in my time on the Internet, and I can honestly say that no one story has given me more satisfaction than this one has, in terms of personal fulfillment, successful narrative, and flat-out entertainment value upon my own reread. The term 'labor of love' would not be overstating things at all, and so I am compelled to thank Sarea yet again: for her sense of humor, for her big red pen, for her slavish devotion to the D/G pairing which bore it all, but, most of all, I thank her for being my friend. The only hope I had pinned on Our Winter from the outset was that she love it, and that she does is all the gratification I really need.
For those of you still here, who've enjoyed the journey, I hope you've all had at least a tenth as much fun reading as I've had writing.