AUTHOR'S NOTES:

Hi everyone!! I can't believe how long it took me (yet again) to write this chapter: Excuses? Let me see… summer vacations (Dec, Jan, Feb), university, projects… lack of inspiration? laziness? life? I could go on and on, but it would never be good enough I guess… However I hope you guys do forgive me and are at least comforted by the fact that I AM still alive and willing to end this story at some point or another…

THANKS so much for the awesome reviews!! I guess that's what has kept me going through all this years after all… You guys have proved to be ever so supporting and I could never thank you enough.

All I can do is offer you a brand new chapter, and hope that you will like it just as much as the others. Love y'all!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harry Potter or any of JK Rowling's amazing characters. However the plot and the new characters are all mine.


Chapter XVIII: UNSHEATH OR UNFOLD

Ginny struggled against hope, attempting to free herself from those lustful men's claws.

"Let me go!" she pleaded, shaking uselessly. Her heart pounded wildly, threatening to come right out of her rib cage any second.

The touch of those men's slimy hands around her limbs made her feel utterly defenseless. Exhausted, she finally gave up struggling and collapsed, panting heavily, her chest moving fast, revealing her agitation and fear.

"Lay her against that trunk," said the leader, pointing towards a fallen oak tree just a couple of feet away.

The red head was dragged against her will, her cry almost completely smothered between the loud excited racket caused by the swarming gang that surround her.

"Tie her up," he added, with mischief, causing Ginny's heart to skip a beat and fight against her aggressors, but soon enough she laid immobile over the tree trunk.

"Please," she pleaded, almost in a whisper, while truthful tears run down her cheeks as she saw Tony undoing the buckle of his belt.

But the men wouldn't listen and before he knew it, Tony was lying on top of her.

He furiously grabbed her waist and was sinking towards her neck, Ginny's eyes tightly closed and her ties firmly gripped, when she felt his whole body become rigid against hers, not a muscle moving.

Suddenly, the forest was at a completely deafening silence.

Ginny dared open her eyes and suppressed a whimper as she looked straight into his aggressor's eyes, which were made of stone, the same as the rest of his body and clothes.

She stared in awe at this bewildering scene, still unable to move because of her straps, when all of a sudden a strong blaze of arctic, cold wind hit the forest and it was as if it melted away the stone statues that dissolved into thin sand, blown away into the shadows.

When Ginny could finally open her eyes, she gasped in awe.

There stood her betrothed one, mounted over a black Pegasus, which, Ginny thought, looked far more sinister than magical, fluttering his colossal wings, restlessly.

Ginny didn't even know whether to feel relieved or frightened anymore and couldn't help but focus on his icy depths that stared down at her, with an unreadable expression.

He reached towards her, closed his fist in midair and pulled an invisible rope back, ripping her straps without even touching them.

The red-head stood up, rubbing her reddened wrists, with a mixture of embarrassment and gratitude.

"Come," he finally uttered, reaching for her hand.

Ginny came forward uneasily, further so startled by the animal's black inquisitive eyes, and extended a shaky arm in his direction.

Dylan took her hand smoothly into his' and lifted her with astonishing strength, positioning her in the front, her legs at the right.

It took him one deep spur to take the animal up to the air, shaking his massive winds swiftly amidst the wind. Ginny uttered a smothered moan with the exaltation.

The Pegasus flew so fast that the red-head felt the need to press her body closer against Dylan's chest, grabbing his cape, in order not to fall. The feeling of his chest against her almost bare skin never felt so comforting.

But something didn't feel right…

Dylan seemed cold, distant; he didn't even circle her waist to secure her and kept looking straight into the sky instead, leaving her only with the sight of his strong neck and perfect chin, his hair occasionally waving in front of his eyes. Was he mad?

"I know I would be…" Ginny thought. "After him being so nice to me, I reckon running away isn't quite what he expected…"

Then again, why wasn't he in the least worried about her? Why didn't he even ask what had happened? Or how she felt? Didn't he care? That his fiancée had been attacked and nearly raped by some disgusting men in the forest?

"Maybe he thinks I deserve it for running away," she wondered. "But that is just so mean!" she resolved with vexation, loosening her grip on Dylan's robes.

When they finally landed over the castle's flat roof, and Ginny was assisted down the animal, she couldn't help but bring the issue into conversation.

"Dy –"

"A servant will show you to your room," Dylan interrupted, abruptly.

"Yes, but –"

"I will stay a little longer," he continued, unperturbed. "I enjoy the nights thoroughly," he added, gazing at the sky.

"I just- well –"

"I'll see you in the morning, Ginevra," he uttered bluntly, and walked away.

"Come, mistress," come the small voice of a hooded servant who dragged her into the castle.

Outside still stood a perplex prince, his cape fluttering with the wind while fine locks of ebony hair hit his face as he stared deep into the horizon.

He had deliberately avoided engaging in conversation with her and knew that she was upset about it.

What had happened? He already knew that. Why had she run away? He knew the answer to that too. What did she feel? Afraid? Sorry? Grateful? Pointless to ask…

Dylan knew something like that was likely to happen and yet he couldn't help feeling angry, but he wasn't sure of whom was the object of these feelings…

Ginny, for running away after all he's done for her?

Himself, for being unable to keep her by his side?

…Malfoy, for proving himself right?

:Flackback:

"And for that reason, you hate me more than anyone;" he hissed, puncturing him with his steel eyes, "because you're afraid that she won't ever love you in the same way!"

:End of Flackback:

The prince looked down to his closed, gloved fist. He opened it to reveal the ravishing brooch he had once taken from her. His look remained fixed on the piece of jewelry for what seemed forever.

"Will she ever come to love me?"


Ginny merely followed the servant back to her room without uttering a single word.

"Is something troubling you, my lady?" the servant asked, when they reached her quarters.

"Hm?" Ginny inquired and paused. "Don't worry," she answered uncertain. "I'll be fine," she added, and turn towards the window.

"Oh, but I do worry," the girl added, firmly, which caused Ginny to stop on her tracks, furrowing her brow.

"You- you do?" she pried, suddenly interested in the little girl.

The servant smirked.

"Of course I do, Ginny".

The red-head's eyes gaped open, as the girl threw her hood back.

"Justine!" she yelled, not believing her eyes. "Oh, my God, it is you!" she added, running towards her and smothering her with a heartfelt hug, which she responded gladly.

"Merlin, I'm so happy to see you, Gin!" Justine cried, parting a little. "And will you just look at yourself!" she added, holding her hands. "You look so beautiful!"

Suddenly it hit her.

"But how –" Ginny begun. "I mean – ".

"Yes, I know," Justine interrupted, shyly.

"How did you even get here on the first place?" Ginny managed to utter.

:Flashback:

"My Lord, the girl is here," the servant Gunther announced.

"Excellent," Dylan sentenced in a gruff voice. "Send her in," he commanded.

In came a frightened, blonde girl, stopping on her tracks and turning even paler than usual when she realized where she was… Or rather who she was standing in front.

Dylan looked at her and grunted with evident disappointment.

"My Lord?" Gunther inquired.

"That useless piece of crap," he murmured between gritted teeth, and turned towards the fireplace.

"Take her away!" he commanded, gruffly. "Now!" he added upon Gunther's hesitation.

"Where?!" Justine cried, speaking to him for the first time. "Why am I here?!" she urged. "Where are you taking me?!" she added, as she was pulled out of the room.

"Your highness?" the servant asked. "The dungeons?"

Dylan sighed aloud, while Justine stood by the doorway, fear overflowing through her eyes.

"No," he finally stated, snorting with vexation. "she's not a slave," he drawled huskily, regaining his calm and turning to face her.

When he slowly started walking towards her, his eyes fixed on hers, Justine could swear she was going to faint out of bewilderment.

He stopped only some scarce inches from her languid form and took her by the shoulders gently, yet decidedly.

"Sweet Justine," her eyes gaped at her name. "I am sorry for all that you have had to go through," he begun, "and I'd like to say that I'm not responsible for any of it," he added, "but I'm afraid I am".

The girl's eyes were completely unable to unlock from his icy gaze.

"Your presence here is but a mistake," he proceeded, "yet a mistake that given the present state of affairs might ultimately save your life," he sentenced, making Justine swallow hard.

What was to become of her?

"So unfortunately," he continued, "or perhaps providentially for you, I can't take back the actions of the simpleminded fool who took you for someone that you irremediably cannot be," he explained.

For some reason, she couldn't help but feel unexplainably saddened at these words. Did she wish she were that person he was looking for?

"Thus, I offer you the chance of remaining a servant at my castle," he added, "where I promise you will be treated with much more respect and dignity than anywhere else," he uttered.

Justine thought for a second before answering.

"And if I decline –?"

"Then you shall die," Dylan calmly replied, causing her to shudder. Dylan laughed. "No, I won't kill you," he sneered and smirked, as if she was a child, "but you know just as well as I do that this world holds no love and has irrevocably run out of space for people like you," he explained.

She knew he was right.

"So?" he inquired, invitingly. "What will it be?"

"Thank you," she truthfully replied with tears in her eyes, kneeling and taking Dylan's hands into hers.

Her response caught Dylan almost unaware

"From now on I'm at your service," she continued. "Master".

:End of Flashback:

"… and I've lived in the castle ever since," Justine finished.

"Never even tried to escape?" Ginny asked, amazed at her tale.

"Now, wouldn't that have been foolish?" she replied.

Ginny was a little taken aback by her reply, but obviously Justine didn't know that she had actually run away herself and, after all, it was rather a little unintelligent from her to have done it.

"And why would I, anyway," Justine added softly. "Prince Gray has been nothing but kind to me," she explained. "And the job is far more tolerable than our good ol' Morkdrage, you know?"

"And you accepted being one of his servants just like that?" the red-head still couldn't believe the facts.

"Honestly, Ginny," she replied, "did I have any other sensible choice at the time?"

"Probably not," Ginny reckoned, still furrowing her brow.

"And besides," Justine continued, "it did bring us together eventually, didn't it?" she added.

Ginny smiled.

"I'm so happy to see you, Tine," she cried, and hugged her friend again. "These past weeks have been pure torture for me," she said, parting.

"They have, really?" Justine questioned, furrowing her brow. "Now that's odd".

"Why do you say so?" Ginny asked.

"Well, being betrothed to the Wizarding world's most powerful, kind, not no mention surprisingly hot Prince," she begun, "and living and owning such a place," she added scanning the room. "I mean, one would think that life just couldn't get any better, right?"

"Am I really being all that irrational?" Ginny begun thinking. "Why do people keep telling me how happy and grateful I should be, yet I feel completely miserable?"

"I guess you're right," Ginny answered, "I just –, I don't know," she begun, "I reckon I need more time to get used to it, Tine; everything has happened so fast, you know," she tried to explain. "Sometimes I really do feel as if I were trapped in a never ending dream or nightmare; it feels so unreal…"

"Oh, but I'm sure you will be just fine, Ginny," Tine commented. "This is an amazing chance for us, especially for you," she added, marking her words. "Remember our days back at Morkdrage? Mrs. Draggery, Filch, Blaise and that blonde bastard that kept torturing you".

"Yeah, about that…" Ginny uttered, ready to make a quick update for her friend.

"What's the matter, Gin? Did he hurt you?" Justine asked with concern.

Ginny's mind was a turbid whirlwind of thoughts and memories. She was staring right at Justine's eyes, but she was really walking by Morkdrage's corridors, staring at Draco in his sleep, galloping through the forest and sleeping in a lonely cave.

"Ginny?" Justine urged, moving the red-head's thoughts away.

"Yeah," she replied, and paused. "He did, actually," she added, remembering the last of him and staring away.

"That bastard," Justine hissed, "Oh, but it's all over now, Ginny!" she added, cheerfully. "Things can only get better for us now".

Ginny stared outside the window.

"Yeah, you're right," she uttered, giving in to the idea of a promising future. "When things have been so bad, they can only get better…"


In the Prince's study, the flames of a grand fireplace colored the faces of the servant and his master with a light shade of orange…

"A mask, your highness?" the servant inquired.

"You heard me well," Dylan replied, "Masks shall be provided at the entrance of the grand hall".

"Splendid idea, Master, if I may observe," Gunther commented.

"I want them in all shapes and colors; not a single one of them alike".

"As you wish, your majesty".

"And everything else -"

"Everything is going according to plan, your honor," the servant interrupted. "The Nebula gateway has been conjured to give access only to the guests you invited," he explained.

"And the grand hall…"

"Has been blocked against any magic," Gunther hurried to clarify. "Except of course for yours, Prince Gray," he added, carefully.

"Excellent," the Prince uttered, fire playing in the reflection of his eyes.

"Is there anything else I may assist you on, your highness?"

"No, Gunther, that will be all for now," the Master stated, "You may go now".

"Thank you, your majesty," the servant added, with a bow and made his way to the door.

"And Gunther," Dylan called, making him stop on his tracks and spin around.

"Yes, your Excellency?"

"I don't want a single face not wearing a mask tomorrow night," he remarked.

"I shall see to that, Prince Gray," Gunther complied. "Your wish is my command" he added with a bow and exited the study.


Ginny couldn't help but stare at the ravishing dress in complete awe. The finest lace graced the golden fabric, with embroidery work on pure golden thread over the bodice.

"It's so beautiful…" she uttered, touching the hem.

"It is something indeed, isn't it, milady?" Ellie was there to help her get ready for the big event.

"It's just… perfect," Ginny resolved, absorbed in the dress' shape and color.

"Your highness has still to get used to that word around Master Gray," Ellie explained, while she laid the petticoat over the couch.

Ginny sighed, still bothered by the way things had gone with her and Dylan that morning.

"I wish to speak to him," she said, turning towards Ellie.

"Who, darling?" the woman inquired, laying the long, black velvet gloves with golden embroidery next to the dress.

"Dylan," the red-head explained.

Ellie smiled at the casualty of her words.

"Oh, there'll be plenty of time for you two to chat, mistress, and you'll never get tired of it, I'm sure," she added with mischief.

"No," Ginny corrected. "I need to speak to him now".

"Now, your highness?" Ellie furrowed her brown upon her mistress sudden interest on the Prince.

"Now," she urged.

"But it is nearly two hours for the ball, child," the woman explained, evidently startled at the thought of not having enough time to get her ready. "Are you sure you can't wait?"

"Ellie, please, it's important," she pleaded, grabbing the woman's hands into hers and giving her the doe eyes. "Please".

Ellie sighed

"Alright then, child," she gave up, rolling her eyes. "I'll see what I can do," she added and exit the room.

"Thank you," she whispered.


Half an hour later, the red-head stood in the middle of Dylan's study, pacing from one side to another while trying to figure out what she was going to say.

"You wanted to see me, Ginevra," came the familiar hoarse voice of Prince Dylan, behind her.

"Yes," she softly replied and spun around to face him. "I wanted to apologize for my behavior these days".

The prince just stood there, staring her into the eyes.

"Dylan," she continued. "I know I have been extremely ungrateful to you and I have shrugged off from your kindness in every possible way", she avoided his eyes with embarrassment. "These days have been really confusing for me and I can't find a way to explain my conduct that can possibly make up for all of it," she added. "But," she said, finally meeting his gaze. "I want to change," she resolved. "I realize that my place now is here, at Schattenburg".

Ginny felt surprised of her own words and his silence was making her restless.

"By your side," she resumed, feeling how her cheeks were once again turning a shade of pink.

"Ginevra," he said, warmly, the ice in his eyes almost melting for a second.

"Yes, Dylan, I agree to the wedding, I agree to it all," she interrupted, urgently. "I can't fight against the world or try to cover the sun with a finger anymore".

"Well, it does sound like a sensible choice you've made there," he stated, shrugging. "However –"

"If you don't like me anymore, I understand," she hurried to excuse herself, afraid of his reply. "But Dylan, I promise I'll change, I know I have been disappointing, I-"

"You could never," he barged in, grabbing her chin, "in a million years disappoint me in any way, Ginevra," he sentenced. "I am glad that you have finally decided to let yourself go," he added, piercing her with his eyes. "Not that I didn't know it was going to happen, on some point or another". He smirked.

A faint smile finally drew on Ginny's face.

"But I must be certain that you'll remain true to me," he sentenced, searching for any sign of dishonesty in her face.

"I beg your pardon?" she wasn't really sure of the implications of his demands.

"What about your feelings for Draco Malfoy?" Dylan insisted.

Ginny gasped for air as if to say something, turning that something into silence

"You care about him still, don't you?" disappointment was evident when he unlocked his gaze from her.

"Of course I don't!" she hurried to protest. "Why would I anyway?" she added, defensively. "He obviously couldn't wait to get rid of me…"

The echo of her words would never sound casual in her mind, but she hoped against hope that at least they wouldn't turn into tears.

"You intend to tell me you have forgotten about him?" he questioned, his eyes locked on hers.

"Draco means nothing to me, Dylan," she defied him. "He is a part of my past," she stated, "and a part I yearn to forget, for that matter".

"You wouldn't even want to be with him if you just could?" he insisted.

"I'm with you now, Dylan," her eyes were sorrowful, yet determined, as she closed the space between them.

The distance had forced Dylan to grab her waist, surrendering, while he stared inquisitively into her chocolate depths.

"There is no other man in my life," she added, shyly resting her arms around his neck, while nervously playing with a lock of his ebony hair, trying not to reveal her state of emotions.

It was then that he leaned down and kissed her as if he had been born to kiss her only.

Ginny was smothered by his urgent, yet professional exploration but, most of all, she was overwhelmed by the passion he exuded for her.

Her knees felt weak as the prince pulled her towards his firm body and she could feel his heart beating as fast as hers. When he parted his lips and moved towards her neck the red-head couldn't help but moan with a mixture of pleasure and despair, while she gave in to his dexterous touch and inhaled the ecstatic scent of his dark hair.

But it was only when he reached that particular sensitive spot of her neck that she whimpered and collapsed against Dylan's body.

Somehow she found herself wanting him to carry on. "Please don't stop", she mentally begged and looked at him with pleading eyes, as she urgently grabbed the exquisite fabric of his black cape.

"You are everything and anything that could ever matter to me," he drawled in his husky voice, caressing her flushed cheeks and leaning to give her a soft peck on her forehead.

His kiss sent a jolt of electricity all over her body.

"Until the evening," he continued. "I will only think of you," he resumed, and disappeared in midair.


AUTHOR'S NOTES:

Ok, I know it's not much, but this chapter was getting awfully long! It is actually next chapter that will feature the ball and HUGE revelations.

However, I can't promise to update too soon, I can promise to try though. I hope this chapter (after, oh yes, 2 years is it??) is prove enough of my commitment towards the story. At least I didn't end it at a cliffhanger though, right?

Now I hope to hear word from you, so please R&R or else I'll definitely get the message that this chapter was rubbish and never update again :(

And of course, as it's tradition now, I'll reply to every single review… It's really the least I can do :) THANK YOU!!

Meeaz (lol, sorry I scared u with that scene, but u see… it all ended up pretty good after all. And yeah, I probably should get a beta, I'm just too anxious to update when I finally get the chapter down, thanks for offering, though! I'll let you know) Dracoandme (I bet you lost all hope for good now didn't you? :( sorry!) bigreader (I'm glad that you liked it! So sorry for the late update… and yeah, Draco better come into the scene sometime soon, and he will) Innocent Malevolence (lol I wonder if u still receive alerts for this fic! I know how u feel about loving Draco and Dylan simultaneously! Isn't that odd? Can't seem to choose!) Darcy19 (oh, don't feel bad! you're one of my premium reviewers! and I'm not even a premium writer… shame on my late updates… The brooch that Dylan has is the one Draco gave Ginny remember? Dylan secretly took it from her the night he brought her to the castle and now he uses it to make Draco jealous. I say another 5-7 chapters… And THANKS for the compliments!!) Practise makes Perfect (Yeh.. poor ol' Ginny right? Having to hold back her emotions like that… Thanks so much for the nice words!! This update goes for all of you!!) A Subtle Wind (lol! well… Dylan probably did more than castrating them after all right? Glad that u liked it!) anonymous (and yet I didn't… I'm sorry!!) Midnight-Lily (mentioned again!! lol! thanks for reading and reviewing my story! Hope u liked this chapter too!) cHiArA (please don't die!! lol I couldn't live with myself and u would never get to read this chapter either :( Thanks! Any (I'm sorry! I did make u wait… I hope that you still get to read this chapter…) Zohra89 (I just know no chapter, as good as it may be, may possibly be worth the wait this time right? :P And don't worry… action coming ;) xxxfire-feariexxx (I know! and I'm so sorry… I really will try to update, at least, this year! I'm so happy that you like it so far though! thanks 4 reading and reviewing!) yuna and lenne (not really as asap as one would've hoped I guess… thanks for the hug! and don't forget to keep me informed on what u think of the story!) natalie (thankyou!! Sorry for the terribly late update though…) lily (I'm so glad that you like it!! :D I hope u liked this chapter as well..) ssserpent (really?? Thanks!! I really haven't forget about u guys, believe it or not… I guess I just didn't want to ruin this story with a crappy chapter. Lol it's funny when u try to figure out the story in advance, of course those questions will be answered in time. All I can say is what I've told u already, that Dylan is not any of the old characters, but there is a story to him and that will probably be revealed next chapter. Thanks for the "rude" correction! I think I got most of them) youwishyouknew (well thank you, I guess… lol U know, I really appreciate your criticism, I'll take it into consideration for future chapters. I hope u liked this one!) black111star (your wish is my command! lol, of course she was going to get saved… again. I'm glad you like the story!) xxx (Thank you!! I hope u got to read this chapter too!) Tomo Star (Thanks!! I know, I really should think about getting a beta, maybe I will… sorry for that cliffhanger! And yes, I'm in law school and I still haven't figured out what will my major be… ) prnzzofrape (lol! thanks… it's not too easy to please everyone with those m rated scenes… I'm glad that u liked it!) Africanflame (thank you so much! I hope u like this chapter too! Let me know!) sAngels (OMG thank you!! I'm really happy that you like my story so much, and that it makes you feel part of the story… I love when that happens :) and yes, powerless Draco; a subtle twist I guess) shivani (Thanks!! I'm really sorry for the horribly late update… I hope you're still out there to read the rest of it!) bob (u think that, huh…mmm… we'll just have to wait and see) hecate0808 (thank you! I will try!!) miraclesomajic (thanks!! I'm sorry for the previous cliffie and I will try to update more often) AGENT LOOCAY (yay indeed!! new reader! :D sorry for the late update!!) riah riddle (yeh… I bet most people thought I would never update again and that it was a permanent abandonment… but no! :) and there will be more!) bryblumer120 (please don't die! I can't believe u read the whole thing in a day! And u liked it! :) remember to let me know what u thought of the new chapter!) xdopex (your favourite, really? Even though I didn't update for a lifetime? I'm sorry!! Thanks for reading and reviewing!!) -One tunned rndom reder- (thank you!! I'm glad that you like it all, my sexy characters – indeed – lol and everything, sorry for the cliffie! make sure you review for this chapter too!!) black111star (of course they won't hurt her.. :P I'd never let them… I hope u can still read this chapter and u haven't disappeared like I did! Sorry for that :( jennifer (I know!! I'm working on correcting that word, but I'm a little lazy to re-upload every chapter… thanks for revewing!!) Mrs Jenica Gaunt (lol! that's a funny idea about Mungo saving Ginny… not bad at all! And most things about Dylan will be revealed next chapter, no excuses! Thanks for reviewing!! I'm glad u like it so much!) black111star (I knowww!! I'm sorry… it took me forever, and more! And no, I'm not done yet! I have to finish this story, damn it! even if it's only to see what u guys think about it… thanks for not giving up on me!!) Stelladoro (I'm sorry! I know, I'm horrible… ) jaz (thank you!! I'm really sorry I abandoned it for so long… :( I hope to make it up to u someday!) someone (here it is!! Lol… I know, it took me ages.. sorry!) springawakening1894 (I know! and now 2008… almost 2009! Shame on me… glad to hear that u like it though!) Irish Whiskey (I know! I'm sorry… again :( Just make sure u let me know what you thought of the new chapter!!) Guiniwere (lol, no I'm Chilean! I went to a brittish school, though, thanks! And no! I didn't really think of the lord of the ring's orcs! lol… though I have seen the movies, so maybe on a subliminal level… who knows)