A/N – I am trying something different here. Hopefully this can become a simple, relatively straightforward D/G romance, with no High Clan, no politics or intrigue (or not much) and no relation at all to _any_ of my other fics. My beta tells me that this will certainly be an interesting experiment, so we'll see.
Disclaimer – I don't own Harry Potter. Don't sue me.
He had never actually told her that he loved her.
When she remembered that time, so long ago, that was the thing that really stood out in her memory – despite the warmth she had felt so certain he felt towards her, despite the way he seemed to relax so utterly in her presence, lose himself in her arms, he had never, not even once, said those three little words to her.
Perhaps she should be grateful that he hadn't lied about that, as well.
Because it had all been lies, in the end. She should have remembered that he was the Prince of Slytherin, that lies and deception were his stock in trade. He had fooled so many for so long that she should not have been surprised to find that he had been lying to her, too – but she had been. She had been devastated.
She'd thought he'd changed, but he hadn't, not in any real way. She'd thought he'd moved out of the darkness, had given it all up when he'd finally rejected Voldemort and joined the Order – he'd forsaken his father's path, but he had not moved out of the darkness, had not rejected his Slytherin heritage.
Because he was a Malfoy, and it meant more than just a last name. It had certainly meant more to him in the end than she had, than her love had.
Every year, on the same day – the anniversary of the day that Voldemort was finally defeated – Ginny Weasley retreated to her small flat, locked the door, and wallowed in her misery, not coming out until the next day, red eyed and haggard. Her family and friends, after the first few years, stopped trying to persuade her out of it and had eventually came to regard it as one of her eccentricities – even after ten years, she still refused to join in the celebrations or participate in any way in what had become a public holiday.
She had never explained why she did this, had no intention at all of explaining herself. It had hurt too much, at the time, and now it was just embarrassing. To think that she had made a fool of herself over Draco Malfoy, of all people; that she had thought that she could change him…
She had thought herself in love with him, and he with her, when all he had wanted was an entry into the Order. She had thought him tamed, that he had dropped all his nastier Slytherin characteristics (such as his prejudices, his vicious tongue, his hatred of Harry) when all he had done was hide them, so that he could be more acceptable to Dumbledore and Moody and all the others. She had thought that somehow, because he was on their side, he was different to the Slytherins who had become Death Eaters – the only difference between him and them had been his allegiances and the focus of his motives.
He had been just as cruel and vicious as they, really. He had used her, had deceived her, and had walked away from her when she had objected to his deceptions, to his callousness…
Turned his back and walked away, without one backward glance or any indication of regret. She had shouted after him, cursing him, swearing at him, but he had taken no notice, as if she had been beneath his notice, beneath even his contempt.
Somehow, that had hurt more than anything else he had done to her. At least he had never spoken the ultimate lie – she could be grateful for that, at least.
No, he had never spoken those words to her, to the one woman who haunted both his dreams and his conscience in the depths of the night, and he regretted it bitterly. If only he had taken the chance, had had the courage to give so much of himself…
But at the time, it had seemed as though he had nothing left to give, nothing left to offer that was not wholly given over to the single-minded quest to destroy Voldemort and his father. His obsession had been his whole focus, his whole world. Yes, he had approached Ginny Weasley, convinced her that he was repentant and a worthy candidate for the Order of the Phoenix. Yes, he had lied and concealed the lies in his heart, concealed his hatred and his prejudices, hidden the cruelty that was so much a part of him.
But the peace that Ron Weasley's red haired sister had given him had been genuine, and so had his regard for her. What had been a lie had not been his feelings but his true nature. He had misrepresented himself, and did not regret it – he would do it again, and again, and again if it meant gaining the chance to bring down the Dark Lord.
And, he supposed, that was what she had not understood. She had thought that because he misrepresented himself, he had misrepresented his feelings – that had been clear enough, among all the anger she had aimed at his back when he had walked off. It had been more than clear that such dishonesty – both genuine and imagined – had put him beyond the pale in her mind – certainly it had, if she were shouting at him – and so he had not bothered to turn back.
His purpose had been accomplished anyway, and there had been no further need for the Order or any of its adherents – unless she had indicated otherwise. In the absence of any such sign, he had walked away, cursing the necessity that had led to her disappointment. And he had never looked back, because looking back was the worst kind of weakness…