Disclaimer: I own nothing!

A/N* AND VIOLA! THE LAST CHAPPIE!  First of all I wanted to address some reviews I had that said the last chapter was cliché, and in all honesty, I agree with you.  I'm sorry if that chapter wasn't up to par or what not, but I really was getting tired of the story so yeah, I understand if you didn't like it because I didn't like it too much myself, and thanks for being honest.  Anyways, I hope this chapter is somewhat better (though I can't guarantee that.) I'm just so glad I'm done!

Chapter 16. After the Storm

          "Avada—"

          When Draco was a child, his father had drilled into him the importance of quick reflexes, of thinking on his feet.  And though they came in properly useful during quidditch, Draco had never related them to a life or death situation.  As if everything occurred in slow motion, he heard the words being uttered, saw Ginny move towards the door, and without a second thought he hurled himself at her.

          "Ked—"

          She turned in apparition now, her stricken gaze directed at wherever the voice was coming from.  Draco landed atop her, knocking both of them to the ground and startling numerous guests.

          "—Drava!"

          He squeezed both eyes shut, waiting for the flash of light that was bound to come as Ginny wriggled a bit beneath him.  But there was none, and after a few moments of shocked silence he rolled off her, directing his perplexed gaze around the room.  "Young master Malfoy!" One of the maids exclaimed, rushing to his side and shooting him a meaningful stare.

          Draco pulled himself to his feet with all the dignity he could muster in the circumstances and turned to offer Ginny his hand.  "What's going on?" She ventured, ignoring his gesture.  A murmur rushed through the crowd, the guests obviously nearly as confused, and Ginny cleared her throat anxiously.  "Um," she started, "I swear that I heard the killing—"

          "I tripped," Draco said suddenly, nodding an apology.  The chattering resumed then, a few bemused looks still tossed their way but mostly relief apparent on the faces of their audience.

          "I heard it," Ginny insisted, refusing to look him in the eye.

          "I know," he said.  "That stupid muggle over there was reading off of Father's plaque.  I don't think he knew what he was saying."

          Ginny followed his gaze.  "Figures your father would have the killing curse engraved in stone," she returned snidely.  "Was it to suit his nature, or does Voldemort require it of all Death Eaters?"

          Draco flinched visibly.  "Funny that you should be the one who speaks that name."

          "Like you don't hear it often enough around here?" Ginny tilted her chin.  He fell silent, neither berating her nor denying the accusation, and she sighed heavily.  "Why did you cover me?"

"I—" Draco frowned.  Why had he?

"Never mind," she shook her head, longing evident in her eyes.  "I'm just setting myself up for disappointment by thinking that you cared.  You don't care about anyone but yourself."  Drawing in a long, shuddery breath, she threw her shoulders back and brushed past him.

"Where do you think you're going?"  He demanded, still recoiling from the sting of her words.

          "Out," was her short reply.

          "It's raining," he pointed out.

          "Why do you care?" She demanded.  "I'm nothing to you, remember?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  So go back to your expensive party and beautiful house and leave me the hell alone."  She snatched the hem of her skirt violently and stalked out the door, either not noticing the storm raging outdoors or feeling too enraged to let rain stand in the way of wallowing in utter misery.

          This time, Draco went after her.

~*~

          Fortunately, Ginny had stalked into the Malfoy gardens.  Unfortunately, it was arranged in the shape of a maze.

          He found her nearly twenty minutes later, standing where the hedges emptied out to the lake, dripping wet and stonily watching the patter of drops against the calm waters, gray by the darkening sky.  Her brows were knitted in deep rumination and he hesitated, digging his fingers through his dripping hair and feeling pangs of random guilt at her heartbroken expression.

          "Ginny," he called, striding towards her before he had a chance to back out.

          She turned towards him as a flicker of hope appeared in her eyes, and then it was replaced with anger.  "Go away," she said blankly.

          He reached out for her.  "Ginny," he tried again.

          "Stop it, just stop," she said, and he wasn't able to tell whether the streaks running down her cheeks were tears or rain.  "What's wrong with you Draco?  Didn't you rub it in my face enough that I don't mean anything to you?"

          "I don't—"

"And I bet that ring didn't even mean anything to you," Ginny sobbed, swiping absently at her face.  "Did you even bloody know what that was?  That was the goddamn 'Le Feu du Soleil' created by the bloody Sun King for his lover, okay?  And Gods, why did I give it to you I don't even know, I mean you get jewelry from girls probably everyday and—"

          He jerked her close violently and mashed his lips against hers.  She was still sniffling when he drew back, and he slipped his hand inside his wet shirt, pulling out the silver chain around his neck.

          And on that silver chain, was the ring.

          "I wear it close to my heart," he whispered gruffly, "because it means the world to me.  Just like the person who gave it to me."

          "Why did you say—"

          "Gin, you know I've never been eloquent with words, nor have I been particularly good with emotions," Draco said helplessly.

          Wordlessly, she took the ring into her hand and fingered the stone.  "I do mean something to you then?" She asked wondorously, glancing up at him.

          "More than you'll ever know."  Draco murmured, catching her lips in another passionate kiss.  "But I was serious when I said that this is never going to work, Gin," he murmured into her wet hair.  "Your brother, your parents, my parents, the Gryffindors, the Slytherins. . ." his words caught in his throat, and he tightened his arms.

          "We can make it work," Ginny persisted softly.  "And we don't have to tell them yet.  I'm not saying it'll be easy, because it won't be, but I know it'll work because. . ." She trailed off, resting her head into the damp cloth of his robe.

          "Because?" he prompted gently.

"Because I love you, Draco," she whispered into his robe.

          His head whipped up, and he stepped back, cupping her chin and tilting her head tenderly.  "You don't know what love is, how can you?  You—you barely know me."

          Ginny raised a hand to his cheek, wiping the rain away from the mouth she adored so much.  "Maybe I don't know what love truly is," she admitted.  "But I do know that when I'm with you, it doesn't matter.  If this isn't love, then fuck love, I don't need it.  All I need is you."

His face was blank, but his eyes smiled.  "You don't have to worry," he said quietly, "because you have me."

Her eyes filled with tears once again.  It seemed she cried over everything lately, but this time she wasn't grieving.  She knew he wouldn't proclaim his love for her on one knee, and she was fine with it.  This was the way Draco was, the way he took things, and that sentence, that reassurance was enough for her because she knew he understood, and she knew that the feelings were mutual.  Her hands entangled in his hair as she moved in for another kiss, the remnants of the storm dripping down their faces, intermingling so she couldn't tell which was sweeter, the rain or his lips.

It was the kiss she'd waited her entire life for, the one she'd always expected would come from Harry and now, with Draco's mouth upon her hers, she couldn't imagine sharing such a moment with anyone else.  It was a different kiss, really, not because lacked the passion the predecessors had carried, that was, after all, something she never had to worry about with Draco.  No, there was something else in this kiss, an indescripable feeling the tender movements of his tongue and lips caused to bubble in her stomach.  She loved it, just as she loved him, and she clung on to him tightly, wishing she could stand there forever in the rain with him.

It ended all too soon, but Ginny wasn't nearly as disappointed, as she knew there would be many more to come.  He didn't release her, instead burying his head in her hair.  "Oh, and Draco?" She murmured as his lips found her neck, "I refuse to work for you again."

          He pulled back to catch her sparkling brown gaze. "But I'm sure we can find other uses for your maid uniform while you're here," he replied huskily.

          Ginny smiled then, her smile stretched across her face, nearly splitting it in two, a truly genuine, comforting smile that he and only he could invoke.  Draco slid his arm around her waist, drawing her in close, and they headed inside.

          Together.

          FIN

News, Notes, and an Alternative Ending

ITS OVER! ITS OVER! ITS OVER! ::jumps up and down with loud, emphasized squeals::

Okay news first: There is possibly a sequel ~ I've started writing random snapshots, but as I've also started another story and I desparately need a hiatus from this plotline, it probably won't be up until September or October, at the earliest.  It'll be called 'Sunfire' so look for that eventually haha.  For now I'm just working on Masquerade and Peripheral Vision, some random one-shots and a bit of the sequel whenever I have time. School has officially started, so its nearly impossible to write as fast.  And my friend Vic and I are doing a joint-fic (she's an L/J and D/G shipper), it's going to be called Parallel and it'll be posted under a new name that I'll provide a link for when we have it all wrapped up.  For now we just write drabbles in this notebook we have and pass it back and forth during schools as relief from educational boredom. ^_^  It's D/G, of course.  Ah yes and I also might co-author a fic with Ariel (Matriaya) though we haven't gotten started on that yet.

A/N* This is my very last author's note for this story!! This was my very first fanfic of course, and so incredibly fun to write!  In case you want to know, the song I always listened to while writing was Where is the Love by Black Eyed Peas feat/ Justin Timberlake.  I know its completely irrelevant, the lyrics at least, but the music totally got me in the mood for writing and uh, helped the creative juices flow, so to speak.

Though I started this story just as you know, a hobby, I don't think I would've been able to actually finish it without the wonderful support of many reviewers and friends so. . .a great *virtual* hug to everyone who reviewed, especially (in no particular order)

Lauren, muriel, hpdancer, SAnDie, AraelMoonchild, LunaMoon, Little ButterFly, ALE01, Daisie, cynthetic, Evalahn, FieryAndForbidden, Princess, Mariel, FyreFaerieGinny, Lorraine, Nocheskye, shelleekitten, crazy eyes, shock-a-lot, MrsSpongeBob333, DanielsBfbf, animalcrackers, gill, ali, flurrywurry, kyrissaean, DracosBabe1989, AmSam Malfoy, Princess Sarah *G/D, DreamingofDragons, Kaodorite, rainlvr13, SilvenArrow, SilverFyre31, Mistigris, SexySlytherinChick, FallenAngelOfInnocence, copperstring, silvereyez16, Lost Enchanter, quill-angel68, Minx Raine, Pegasus7, Starryn1ight, Eve Granger, GothicTheatreVampire, Tenshi5, Rockelle, willowslilsecret, Yvette Sparrow, lilikins, Ariel Malfoy, Smiley Face2, Windblader, harypotrfan, Toko Inori, Mezzy-Ezzy-Maxican, Midorie, chiLLz, DolphinDancer, Eleoppy, Princces Punky, and faer (even though you hated the last chapter, you were a faithful reviewer up to that point =D

And of course I must acknowledge Faith Akiyama, the girl who got me hooked on the addictive world of D/G fanficcing in the first place with a wonderful angst-fic she showed me during math class (I didn't even read Rowling's Harry Potter books before then, seriously!  I was like, who's Draco?)  Truth be told, I don't know whether to thank her or kill her because now I refuse to talk to D/Hr shippers and I'm constantly reading or writing. . .ah the curses of HP obsession!

And inexpressable thanks to

~ Bethie, who was in many ways my Beta and my muse, and always someone to giggle over Draco Malfoy with. (He is so not your lover, btw) ^_^

~ j-chan (ayumi-dono), who left amazing, long (always a good thing) reviews for EVERY chapter without fail—you have no idea how motivational that can be.

~ Tiffany (LovelyThumper), who's one of my favorite authors over on AT.org (go read her stories, seriously), and whose wonderful email inspired me to get off my butt and finish the story.

~ Vic Vic J. Potter, who was faithfully supportive the entire time, who diligently read over my chapters before I posted them all, and above all who I'm totally captaining with next year!  We're gonna blow Stevenson away, Vic!

You guys were incredible, every D/G fanfic author's must-have!

And at last!  What you've suffered through all my ramblings and thanks for ~ the Alternative Ending.  This is how I originally wrote the story to end, but if I left it this way then a sequel would've been way too necessary, and plus, who doesn't like a happy ending? Besides Faith, the queen of angst, that is =D.  So you'll notice that the beginning is a lot the same, and it seems nearly identical at first because this would've replaced chapter 15 (and chapter 16 would've never existed).  You might want to skim the first few paragraphs so not to be repeititive,then.  So read, review, but keep in mind that I'm leaving the story as is so this will forever remain the ALTERNATIVE ending and never the real ending.  Enjoy, luv you all, and hope to see you in my other stories!

Chapter 15.  The Last Dance

          Adrienne recoiled.

          She and Ginny watched with bated breath as the pile of pillows and black robes wriggled, a blond head finally emerging from underneath the fabrics.  "What the hell?" Draco said, popping up and surveying the mess in his room with amused eyes.  "Aren't you supposed to clean my room, not the other way around?"

          Ginny nearly collapsed in laughter, relieved beyond words that it wasn't Narcissa.  "Merlin," she wheezed.  "It's just you."

          Draco feigned hurt, brushing himself off as he whipped the pillows onto his bed.  "What do you mean, it's just me?"

          "I thought it was your mother," Ginny gasped for breath.  "I thought I was done for."

          He duly waited for her to stop laughing, and smirked dangerously when she did just that.  "You've been a bad girl, have you, Miss Weasley?" He said in a low voice that sent shivers all throughout her body.

          Adrienne nearly doubled over and Ginny face looked properly shocked at the implications, but then melted into a impish smile.  "You want to punish me for that, Mr. Malfoy?"

          If it was possible, Draco seemed even more startled that she had.  "Stop, stop," Adrienne interrupted before he could retort.  "You guys are making me sick.  If you want to shag, do it when I'm not around, please."

          "It's not my fault you happen to be here," Draco pointed out with a devilish smile, earning a horrified snort from Ginny.  "Besides, you sure you don't want to watch?"

          "Draco!" Ginny cried, forcing the smile from her lips.

          He rolled his eyes.  "You women," he said.

          "We women," Adrienne cut in, "are going shopping.  Isn't that right, Ginny?"

          Draco's gaze darted between them.  "You're kidding, right?" He said skeptically.

          "Not a bit," Ginny replied.  "Is there a problem?"

          "It's the muggle party," he reminded.

          "We'll be back before it starts," Ginny promised, and Adrienne tugged at her arm.

          "And my room?" Draco gestured to the heaps of linens and pillows.

          "Someone else will clean it," Adrienne assured, pulling at Ginny one last time as they disappeared out the door.

          Draco stared after the girls, befuddled and reprieving himself for allowing them to leave.  He sank into the neat table beside his bed and rubbed his temples gently.  Why hadn't he demanded they stay home? He thought.  And why had he been so publicly flirtatious with Ginny?  There was a small sound, and he opened his eyes to see the very person on his mind standing a bit nervously before him.  "I thought you left."

          She blushed, and he couldn't help thinking how cute she seemed.  "I wanted to say bye properly," she ventured, and timidly bent down to place a chaste kiss upon his lips.  At least that was what she'd intended it to be, but when she drew back, he reached out and clamped slender fingers upon her neck, pulling her down into his lap and encircling her midsection with his free hand as he ravaged the warm wetness of her mouth.  Kissing Draco was never a dull experience for her, and it took minutes before she finally did pull away, knowing very well she was on the brink of losing consciousness.

          "Bye," he murmured, and crushed his mouth to hers once more.

          "Draco," she said breathlessly.  "I'm not going anymore if we keep this up."

          He shrugged.  "And the problem is?" He moved to seek out her lips, and after a blissful moment she reluctantly scrambled off him.

          "I need to go," Ginny whispered.  "I promise I'll be back in time for the party, Draco."

          And for the first time, their parting was not one filled with anger.

~*~

          "This is atrocious," Narcissa exclaimed as she sauntered into the room, heels clicking ostentatiously.

"Well what do you expect," Draco complained, "if you're making me do the decorations."

          She rolled her eyes.  "Come off it, Draco, you're not as inept as you make yourself off to be.  Besides, you let those two servants go anyways."

          "I'm not inept, period," he snapped, choosing to ignore her last remark.

          "Draco, darling, I just want everything to go just as planned, do you hear me?" Narcissa said.

          "Yes, mother," he grumbled, rearranging the display of flowers in their magestic front hall.  Bloody brilliant of the maids to take off shopping on a day like this, he thought darkly, and shot a look at his mother.  "It was your idea to host the muggle ball anyways."

          She looked shocked.  "They'd think badly of us otherwise," she protested.

          "Does it matter what muggles think of us?" A nasty voice interjected, and both mother and son turned in utter shock to see a tall blond man sneering a bit amusedly from the door.  Like Draco, he possessed the same aristocratic features and silver-blond hair, though longer and knotted elegantly at the neck with a dark green ribbon.  And his eyes, those infamous Malfoy eyes, were blazing with a gray anger that could send anyone into fits of convulsion.

          Narcissa dropped the dish between her delicate fingers which promptly shattered at her feet, and gaped.  "Lucius?" She drew in her breath sharply.  "You're home."

          "No shit, Cissa," Lucius replied with mock endearment.  "And quite disappointed in my family, I must say.  Whatever possessed you to throw a muggle party?"

          "It's your own damn fault for never owling or apparating," Narcissa said defensively.  "I was just trying to do you a bloody favor and not lose your precious contacts in the muggle world."

          His eyes narrowed.  "I was busy.  You know how important it is to please Vol—uh, our master."

          "Right," she snorted.  "Well, you have the nerve to apparate home just to yell at me for trying to salvage your reputation, Lucius."

          The smirk that chanced his face then reminded Draco fleetingly of himself.  "Dearest," Lucius chuckled, "I'm not here for you.  I actually need a word with Draco."

          She whipped around, surprise and alarm evident in her beautiful face as she surveyed her husband and son with worried glances.  "Yes, Father?" Draco said coolly as Lucius shot Narcissa a pointed look, causing her to retreat.

          Lucius waited until the woman had left before gesturing to his den.  "Like I said before, Draco, you've disappointed me," he cleared his throat.

          "What I have done now?" Draco asked evenly. 

          "You know what you've done," Lucius spat, "fooling around with—with that Weasley whore."

          Draco's eyes flashed briefly, but then he glanced away.  "She's not a whore, Father."

          He laughed, a bitter, contemptuous laugh that too many enemies had encountered before.  "Honestly, boy, sinking the the level of someone like her just for a good fuck?  You must be desparate."

          "We're not—" Draco began, and a satisfied sneer appeared on his father's bloodless lips.

          "First of all," Lucius interrupted, "I saw the two of you all cozy in bed.  Secondly, if you aren't even shagging the girl, then what the hell do you think you're doing?"

          "You saw—what?"

          He rolled his eyes, as if it was the simplest concept and Draco was the daftest of students.  "You've forgotten that Vincent Parkinson has that seeing screen.  You have no idea how humiliated I was last night at his house when the image of you with that Weasley appeared before my associates."

          "You were spying on me?" Draco said incredulously, silenced immediately by a scathing reprieve.

          "It doesn't matter," Lucius bellowed.  "I-I forbid you to have any more contact with her anymore.  When does her damn contract terminate?"

          "Uh, this weekend," Draco muttered, torn between feeling embarassed and jumping in to defend Ginny.

          Lucius stepped closer.  "Good.  Now you listen to me, boy, and you listen well.  If you willing talk to that bastard's daughter so much as once, the consequences will be terrible, understand?"

          His mouth was dry.  "Father I'm not doing anything wrong by—"

          "Have I not taught you anything?" Lucius roared.  "You are a Malfoy, and don't you ever bloody forget that.  If you need someone to relieve your—your sexual desires, go sleep with that Zabini girl.  How dare you shame my name by spending nights with a Weasley?"

          "It's always about your name, isn't it?" Draco said defiantly.

          His father's hand stung as it slapped his cheek.  "She means something to you," Lucius stated, with a hint of question in his tone.

          Draco didn't reply, but it was all the answer Lucius needed.

          "This makes it all the easier then," Lucius said, his voice suddenly soft—a warning signal to Draco. 

          "Easier for what?" He said warily.

          Lucius clucked his tongue.  "You know, I always said not to show your emotion, didn't I?  That you should never care about women, and that if you did, not to let others know.  And you never did listen."

He flinched.  "You're wrong.  I don't care."

"Really," his father remarked, arching an painstakingly identical eyebrow.  "I'll make it easy for you, then."

          Draco's breath hitched in his throat as his father leaned in closer.  "Oh thanks," he said sarcastically, in the calmest possible demeanor he could muster at the moment.

          Lucius ignored him.  "I couldn't harm you, you know.  You're my heir.  But I have connections in high places and well, let's put it this way.  If you don't want anything to happen to that Virginia child. . .you'll stay far, far away."

          "You'd kill her?" Draco said dubiously.

          The grin that spread across his father's face was one of pure menace.  "I think you have the point, my dear son."

          And with a pop, he disapparated.

~*~

          "No, no, no and no!"

          "Come on," Adrienne wheedled.  "You look gorgeous and you know it."

          "I look naked," Ginny shrieked.

          Adrienne rolled her eyes.  "And your point is?"  She received a dark glare, and sighed in resignation.  "Look," she finally said, calmly turning the redhead in the direction of the mirror.  "What do you see?"

          "I see a girl in a piece of cloth who would be mutilated if any of her brothers or parents saw her," Ginny scowled.

          "Wrong," Adrienne beamed.  "You see a blossoming young girl in a beautiful dress that just happens to show off some of her newly acquired assets."

          Ginny frowned at her chest.  "My freckled assets."

          "Point," Adrienne declared.  "It's a beautiful dress.  You know you like it.  And besides, who's going to see you?"

          "Draco," Ginny reminded.

          "Right," Adrienne winked.  "And somehow, I doubt he's going to mind.  You wanted to blow him away, remember?  Which is why you refused to wear that gown he gave you.  Well, this will blow him away, I guarantee."

          Ginny made a gurgling noise at the back of her throat and returned to eyeing the spectacle her reflection was presenting.  She would admit that there was an instant attraction to the gown, with it's sweeping scarlet folds and deep, plunging neckline.  Somehow, dolled up in the dress obviously not made for someone her age she felt wanted, seductive even, and much less like the innocent youngest Weasley everyone made her out to be.

          "It's a change," she admitted.

          "A pleasant change," Adrienne corrected.

          Ginny whimpered.  "I still don't know."

          "Come on," Adrienne urged.

          She bit her lip, imagining the feral look in Draco's glinting silver eyes everytime they snogged, almost feeling the burning touch of his fingers and the way she yearned for him, the way he could stir primitive, carnal feelings deep within her that she never knew possible.  "Okay," she finally said.

          Boy, he better appreciate this.

~*~

          Ginny craned her neck, searching for a glimpse of Draco's silver blond head, but there existed no presence in the room even remotely close to rivlaing his.  She took another small, polite sip of her bubbly champagne and adjusted the uncomfortable corset of her gown as inconspicuously as possible.  The dress had been a horrid idea, as not only was it demandingly suffocating, she felt very much naked under the leering eyes of perverse muggle men.

          She noticed then a dark-haired muggle guest threading his way towards her with an appreciative glint in his blue eyes that Ginny most certainly did not appreciate.  To her apparition, she realized that the distinguished young man was seeking her out for a dance. 

It wasn't that he repulsed her, this particular guest was actually handsome, though in a classic, conventional.  But in no way could he take her mind off of Draco's breathtaking features; instead, she wasted the precious time to scurry away by comparing the two men, wondering how she'd ever had eyes for other males with Draco around.

"Hullo there, beautiful," the man said in what she presumed to be a suave voice, his gaze straying more southward than she would've liked.  Ginny flashed him a tight smile, scanning the room for someone she knew, but failed to find anyone.  "I'm Grant," he continued, either not noticing or ignoring her stiffness.  "I saw you staring at me across the room, so I thought I'd give you a close up view."

He must have seen her looking for Draco, Ginny realized.  "I don't think I was staring at you—" she began.

"It's okay, love," he interrupted, winking and casting another glance at her chest.  "I guess I'm used to it."  She started to sputter in indignition, but then his hand closed down on her arm.  "All that can be cured with a healthy dose of Grant," he said, motioning towards the dance floor.

Ginny wrinkled her nose.  "Um, I don't think so."

The other hand attached itself on the small of her back.  "Very funny," he laughed without mirth, drawing her towards the band.

"I'm serious," she protested.  Instead of answering, he swung her around, tightening his grip as she wriggled in his arms.

"You can't be," he hissed, his touch starting to hurt.  Swaying to the music he moved five lithe fingers down to her rear, and she squirmed uncomfortably, freeing an arm to readjust his.  Grant pressed his elbow sharply against her abdomen, causing a searing flash of white pain to knife through her.  The fleeting panic that overtook her senses lessened this movement, and Ginny briefly considered screaming.  That would, however, more or less ruin the party, and she thought to other ways of ridding herself this creep.

"Mind if I cut in?" A smooth voice interjected, and Ginny nearly collapsed with relief as she saw Draco staring pointedly at where Grant's hand was resting.

He stopped dancing, pulling back and eyeing the tall blond before him, looking impeccable as always but his silver eyes serious.  "Actually, I do," Grant replied darkly.  Draco stepped closer, glancing quickly at Ginny's pleading expression before sneering at the muggle.  Though Grant was a good inch taller, he seemed to suddenly shrink under Draco's steely scrutinizing.  Ginny could feel his fear, and taking advantage of his weakened state, she fled to Draco's side, fitting her palm into his.

"Well, it doesn't seem that she minds," Draco smirked, making Ginny question how the hell he was so bloody calm all the time.  Grant reddened in helpless anger, muttering obsenities as he stalked away.

Ginny watched him for a second, and then flung her arms around Draco, burying her face in his cologne-scented suit, her chest heaving with silent gratefulness.  He staggered back slightly from her unexpected weight, but recovered with ease, his arms enveloping her in comfort.

They stayed like that for a while, and Draco made no motion to step away.  He seemed to understand that she needed to recollect her thoughts, and that for the moment, she needed the security of his arms.  Ginny finally did pull back, her fingers not yet ready to release his sleeves as she admired his elegance.  He was so gorgeous, she thought, taking in the well-fitted black blazer and trousers, the perfect strands slicked back in his usual coif, shorter since he just had it trimmed.

"Enjoying the view?" He said, gray eyes lighter than they had been during the confrontation and glittering with amusement.

"Very much so," she responded softly, letting go with reluctance.  Glancing around her, she watched the blissful couples move in tune with the music.  "It seems everyone but us is dancing," she commented.

He quirked an eyebrow at her attempted subtleness.  "Are you trying to ask me to dance?" He said in a slightly constricted, though overall amused voice.

She blushed.  "I'm not too smooth with words."

From the corner of his eye, he observed her, a red flush crawling into her already rosy cheeks, making her look happy and all the more radiant.  Stop, Draco told himself, hearing Lucius' dark voice echoing in his head.  But one dance wouldn't hurt, would it?  One last dance.   He coughed a bit, and then said silkily, holding out his elbow for her to take, "Dance with me?"

A sweet smile spread across her face.  "I thought you'd never ask," she breathed, and he swept her away.  The music Adrienne had chosen was muggle music, and she very well hadn't heard it before but she didn't particularly care.  Wrapping her arms around him, she rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes, sinking in to the sensation only he could provide.

          "You set my soul at ease, chased darkness out of view," the record sang, and Draco trailed his hands across her back, ridding of all space that had previously been between them.

          "Left your desparate spell on me, say you feel it too I know you do."

          "You look beautiful," Draco whispered in her ear, surprising even himself.  IT wasn't often that he complimented women.  Ginny curled her fingers around the smooth hair that rested sleek against the nape of his neck.  "Everyone in this room is staring at you."

          "I wanna love you forever, and this is all I'm asking of you."

          "They're staring," Ginny murmured, "Because of who I'm dancing with."

          "Cuz from the moment that I saw your face, and felt the fire of your sweet embrace.  I swear I knew, I wanna love you forever."

          "Ginny," Draco said quietly, and she sighed in his arm, thinking she would never stop cherishing the sound of her name from his lips.

          "What my heart tells me to do and I'd give up all I have just to be with you."

          "Mmm?"

          "Now I only want to be right where you are."

          "Ginny, this is never going to work," Draco's voice sounded pained.

          She felt like she was floating, and his words didn't quite register in her mind.  "What is?"

          "Because when I'm with you there's nowhere else that I would ever wanna be, no, I'm breathing for the next second I can feel you loving me."

          "You, me, us."

          "I'm gonna love you forever."

The music stopped, and so did the moment.  Ginny stared up at him, her brown eyes surprised and confused.  The noise around them seemed to suddenly vanish, and her mouth fell open in disbelief.  His words rang in her ears, but she just couldn't bring herself to accept them.  "Draco?"

He sighed heavily.  "Ginny, this won't, this won't work and you know it.  You and I, we're two different people, we come from two different worlds and that is never going to change."

"So you're just going to give up, just like that?" She cried.  "You're not even going to make a try at it, it's not even worth it?  I'm not even worth it?"

His eyes hardened.  "Look, Ginny," he said, trying to sound cold but failing miserably.  "I'm not going to lie and tell you that these past few weeks have meant nothing to me."  He took a deep breath.  Gods, he was terrible at expressing emotion.  "But you know that nothing could ever come of this, think about it."

"Why?" She demanded, no longer succeeding at remaining careless.  "Am I not good enough for you?  I'm not enough like Blaise?  Is that it?"

He stroked her cheek, feeling the wetness of her tears.  "I don't want Blaise," he replied quietly.  "I never have."

"Then what, Draco?  What do you want?  Because it's obviously not me."  People began to stare curiously at her, but only Draco, if blurred, was in her line of vision.  It was such a helpless feeling that he aroused within her, after spending so much time around him she couldn't even imagine feeling somebody else's lips upon hers.

"I want things to be the way they used to be," he replied tonelessly.  "Before you came here, before I—"  He stopped, realizing abruptly that he was about to say before he fell for her, and stepped back even further.  She gaze up at him with watery brown eyes, her soft lips, those lips he'd kissed so fervently before, parted in anguish and shock.  Had he truly fallen for a Weasley?  He, a Malfoy, who never let himself fall for anyone of the opposite sex, had not only broken his principles, he'd done so for his family's worst enemy.

"Draco," she whispered disbelievingly.

"Look, Ginny," he said in a tired voice.  "Look at this, look at us now.  We're always arguing, it never ceases."

"We weren't arguing a few minutes ago," she pointed out.

"We weren't talking either," he replied.  "Whenever we talk, we argue.  Isn't that true?"

A wistful smile graced her lips, and she stood up on her tip toes to brush them against his.  "Then we don't talk," she murmured.  "I'm fine with that."

If you don't want anything to happen to that Virginia child. . .He moved away.  "Ginny," he said. 

"Draco," her voice took on a pleading tone now.  "We can make it work, I know we can, because—" 

"Because what?" He forced himself to sound harsh.

She stared at him wondorously, reaching out for his robe and trying desparately not to cry.  "Because even though you're a giant prat, I love you Draco Malfoy."

His head whipped up, and he shoved her away like she'd brandished a gun.  "You don't know what love is," he snarled.

          Now the tears spilled out.   "Maybe I don't know what love truly is," she admitted softly.  "But I do know that when I'm with you, it doesn't matter.  If this isn't love, then I don't need it.  All I need is you.  Please, Draco, we can make this work.  I'm not saying it's going to be easy, because it's not, but we can at least try.  You said it yourself, you had feelings for me."

          He blinked at her, not sure what to say.  Nobody in his entire life had said those three words to him, and now that they had come spewing from her mouth he wasn't sure whether he should kiss her or flee.  The consequences will be terrible. . ."I lied," he forced himself to spit out.

          The warmth seemed to drain from her glowing amber eyes.  "You don't mean that."

          "I do," he sneered, and his heart wrenched at her stricken expression.

          "Then—then why did you kiss me?" Ginny asked brokenly.  "And hold me, and ask me to stay with you?"

          There was a bitter taste upon his lips.  He wanted to reach out and tell her he was sorry, he wanted to take back everything he'd ever said to hurt her but all he could see was his damned father.  "You were—you were convenient."

          And then something in her face clicked, she realized he wasn't toying with her anymore, that their friendly banters had come to an end.  "I don't mean anything to you?" Her voice cracked.  "Not anything at all?"

          "If I tell you yes, will you go away?"  Part of him prayed she would fight him, and another hoped she would relent.

          "That ring," Ginny said suddenly, anger seeping into her hurt-filled voice.  "Did you even bloody know what that was?  That was the goddamn 'Le Feu du Soleil' created by the bloody Sun King for his lover.  Tell me, Malfoy, where is it now, in the bottom of your sock drawer along with jewelry from every other woman you've played?"

          He swallowed.  "Yes."

She heaved a sigh.  "You know, Draco Malfoy, I thought you had changed," she finally said, opening her eyes and glaring at him accusingly.  "I thought that this wonderful person I spent the last few weeks with, this person who could make me feel things I never thought possible, was no longer the shallow, vengeful Slytherin I knew back at Hogwarts.  But once again, I was wrong."

A lump formed in his throat.  "I just don't get it," Ginny continued, neither beseeching him nor reprimanding him.  "I don't get you, how you're hot one minute, and cold the next, how you can't make up your damn mind, ever.  And you're right.  It's never going to work, but only because you won't let it work."  Her tone was so quiet, so gentle, and so helpless Draco felt a pang of guilt, for perhaps the first time in his life.

She knew she was making a scene, but couldn't bring herself to care, and she couldn't bring herself to tear her eyes away from the expressionless blond standing before her.  "I know," Draco uttered.

"My contract ends tomorrow," Ginny went on placidly, so much that it scared even her.  "And I'll leave then.  You can have your bloody dress back, and you can keep the damn ring too.  I don't want anything that reminds me of you, Draco Malfoy, and I don't ever want to see you again."

And before he could move, she'd fled from the room.

Draco sighed, reached into his shirt where he pulled out a glittering ruby ring on a silver chain, and rubbed his fingers around it.  "Someday, Ginny, I promise," he murmured.  "Someday."

~ End