She was doing rounds with Ron; they'd been scheduled for the same shift.
They were patrolling through the Astronomy Tower, when they heard muffled noises.
Ron threw open the door to the broom cupboard opposite them.
Ginny snorted; Zabini and Parkinson were wrapped around in each other in a rather passionate embrace, tongues down each other's throats, completely ignoring Ron.
"Ten points from Slytherin!"
Pansy moaned and leaned over to lick at Zabini's ear.
Ginny was contorted in paroxysm of mirth at the look on Ron's beet-red face.
Zabini held Pansy away only long enough to drawl an indulgent "Run along, you officious wanker," before kissing Pansy again.
Ginny wiped her eyes, before waving her wand.
They sprang apart.
"Damn you," Parkinson snarled.
"Same to you, pug-face," Ginny said sweetly, before bringing them both down to Snape's office to be dealt with.
The next day at breakfast, she followed Draco out of the Great Hall.
"Oi, Malfoy!" she hurried to catch up as he raised his eyebrow in surprise.
"Taken to stalking me, have you Weaslette?"
"Oh, I wouldn't be quite so smug if my girlfriend was banging someone else."
"Oh, is your girlfriend doing that? You poor thing." his eyes opened wide and innocent.
"Even you aren't that thick, Malfoy. I just though I'd let you know."
She turned to leave.
"I already knew."
"Then why didn't you do something?" she yelled, swinging back, irrationally angry.
"Well it's really got nothing to do with me, is it. We're not married yet; she's promised me she's not actually shagging him, so we're really all fine with it."
She sneered in disgust.
"Never though you'd take used goods, Malfoy."
"I think you've seen what I think this gold is worth." This part was said softly, almost to himself.
She rolled her eyes.
"Spare me your rhetoric, Malfoy," she spat, and walked off to find Harry.
"You look stunning, Ginny," Harry breathed as he extended a hand and she took his arm.
"You'd have to say that anyway, Harry," Ginny laughed as they made their way to the Great Hall for the Leaving Ball, "I don't, really. Not compared to some of the other girls in your year."
She glared the Hall at Pansy, dressed in robes of resplendent blue.
"But you do!"
And it was, at least, partly true.
Her curled hair was just slightly on the frizzy side and her makeup was minimal and inexpertly applied, but her robes fit well; white robes charmed to remain so, edged with silver. And when she smiled, even Zabini, taken with Parkinson as he was, stopped to take a second look.
She placed her hand in his as he led her out to the dance floor, and they proceeded to twirl their way through most of the night.
Harry really was a surprisingly good dancer, she mused as she took a breather, waiting for Harry to get her Butterbeer ("From the barrel on the right, Harry, Hermione assured me that it was spiked only conservatively with Firewhiskey.").
She'd actually managed to enjoy herself dancing with him. Harry was one of those rare dancers who could make you feel at your ease, forget about everyone's eyes on you and lose your self-consciousness.
The one time she'd danced with Draco, when they'd come upon Blaise playing his violin in the Slytherin Common Room, she realised that he was the sort who would make you feel the attention, love it, play up to it despite your usual character. And that, she thought, said all there was to be said about the both of them.
Looking up, she saw that Pansy was rocking around the dance floor with Zabini. Draco was staring morosely from the other side of the hall.
He'd apparently managed to banish the group of squealing girls that'd followed him since he turned up, Ginny thought uncharitably.
He caught her eye, raised a sardonic eyebrow.
She quickly looked away as Harry came over with two goblets of Butterbeer.
"Thanks, Harry, you're a dear."
"Shall we go to the balcony?"
She nodded nervously. She'd been nerving herself to talk to him properly all night.
They walked out, goblets in hand, and stared up at the night sky.
The moon was completely hidden behind the blanket of clouds.
"Harry, I've got something to say to you." Her voice sounded surprisingly quiet in the still night air.
"I don't think this will work out," she said, the hackneyed words tumbling from her mouth in her hurry to get them out.
He froze, then turned to look at her. She made herself go on.
"I really love you, Harry, and I trust you the most of everyone I know. Ever. And that whole fiasco with the shared magic only served to make me feel closer to you."
He nodded, and she chanced a look at his face.
The terrible, closed look he had made her flinch, made her hate herself even more for what she was doing.
"But I don't have any of those feelings for you, Harry."
She reached over and grasped his hand, lying limp on the railing.
"I'm sorry, Harry. Please don't hate me."
He was rigid, unmoving, still looking at her with that devastated expression.
She could feel the tears spill from her eyes and brushed them away angrily.
What right did she have to cry?
Then she felt a warm hand on her cheeks, Harry's thumb wiping her tears away.
"Don't cry, Ginny." He sounded as though the words were being forced out of him.
Then she started sobbing and threw herself at him and hugged him tightly.
"Oh, Merlin, Harry, please don't hate me. I really love you, with all my heart I do, and I've tried so hard to fall in love with you and I've tried and tried but…"
He patted her on the back and her sobs gradually stopped.
She took another shuddering breath.
"Is there… is there someone else?" his voice was choked.
There was a long pause, and when she lifted her head to look at him she couldn't tell whether the moisture on his face was his tears or hers. But they were one and the same, now.
"Harry, there was… someone else from the start. I've been trying to forget him, but I'm sorry, he's all I can think about. But if I hadn't known him first, I know you'd be it, I know I'd fall in love with you just like that."
He nodded, jaw tight.
"I'm really sorry, Harry, I'm sorry, sorry."
He hugged her and she could feel a sob wrack his body.
"But I'll always love you best."
And they both knew that it was true.
"Does he… does he know?"
She shook her head.
"He doesn't matter, Harry. It's all wrong, it's not important."
He nodded, stroked her hair, kissed her on both cheeks.
"Shh," he whispered soothingly, then inhaling a choked breath, "It's okay, I'm here."
They hugged each other and cried, tears flowing down their cheeks silently, for all they could have been.
Later, when they remembered the Ball, their main memory would be the salty, slightly bitter taste of their tears.
"Oi, Harry! We're going de-gnoming! Hurry up!" Ginny yelled up the stairs.
She heard the crack of Harry's Apparition behind her and turned, grinning.
"What, were you doing your hair?" she ruffled its messiness.
"Oh, I was just leaving Ron a little surprise in his drawer."
They walked out into the garden, still chatting animatedly.
Ron and Hermione had already begun de-gnoming.
"Ugh," Ron grunted as he let go of the gnome at the top of his swing and it went flying over the hedge, "I could swear I threw that one only a minute ago. Damn buggers."
"Ron!" Hermione said, scandalised.
"Ah, don't worry, Ginny knows much worse words than that. Regularly uses them, too," Harry said dryly.
They laughed, and then all got down to rummaging for another gnome.
Ginny bent down and pulled a gnome up by its arm, watching Harry out of the corner of her eye. Things had been awkward with him for quite a while after the Ball; they'd barely spoken to each other for the month of school following that, instead avoiding uncomfortable tête-à-têtes.
Then, just before Harry's last train ride home from Hogwarts, he'd leaned over and chucked her under the chin.
"Almost all right, now."
And they'd shared a brief, understanding smile and it had been almost all right.
They hadn't told anyone else why, of course, but even Ron finally understood not to pry unless he wanted to be spitting slugs again.
They spent the rest of the afternoon happily de-gnoming the garden, and it was just like old times, before him.
When they'd finally left the balcony, at the Ball, she'd seen him standing just beyond the curtain, obviously listening in.
She'd been too focused on Harry to care about his pettiness.
They hadn't spoken after that, though they had shared a number of glances at each other across crowded hallways or the Great Hall. Honestly, talk about clichés.
And it was, after all, his last year at Hogwarts, so Ginny was looking forward to never seeing him again for the rest of her life. She hadn't seen him for three months, already.
She just wished he'd stop haunting her dreams, though.
"Dinner's ready!" Molly yelled, breaking through her thoughts, ones that she thought almost every day.
"Ooh, is that roast beef, Mum?"
Mrs Weasley slapped the hand that Ron had been inching towards the roast.
"Yes, Ron. And go wash up first! That goes for all of you, too!"
They sat down and ate dinner after they'd washed up, cutlery clanking on china.
Mr Weasley was coming back late tonight; he had to finish an assignment due tomorrow.
They shovelled their way through the roast beef, baked potatoes and cream, and vegetables, then sat around, looking expectantly at each other.
"Right, whose turn is it?" Ron was the first to break the silence.
"Fine, all right, it's my turn!"
She sighed long and volubly as she went into the kitchen to get the cookies her mother had baked for dessert.
She looked up, startled, as she saw a pale, familiar face flash at the windows.
She paused, hands stilling.
Then she turned and brought out the plate of cookies.
"Well, I'll just be going to the back for a bit then," she said carefully.
Only Harry nodded; the rest were too busy attacking the cookies with enough gusto for it to be entirely believable that they hadn't eaten for three weeks.
She went out to the garden, shutting the door carefully behind her.
He was lounging at the gatepost.
He was staring at her, eyes drinking in the sight of her. She wouldn't look at him.
"If you're just here to waste my time, I'm going back in."
She made it as far as three steps when he grabbed her wrist.
"If you're here to humiliate me, you can jolly well forget about that too." She didn't bother to turn her head back.
She heard robes rustle behind her. He let go of her wrist.
"Weasley, marry me."
She turned to face him.
The ring sparkled.
She gasped at its cold, multi-faceted brilliance, and reached out her hand; let him slide it on her finger.
She could feel him holding his breath; he wasn't stupid enough to think it would be this easy.
"Oh, it's really lovely; Draco, you shouldn't have," she breathed, gazing at it. The sparkle reflected in her eyes.
He started to let out his breath.
"But I suppose that now you'll be getting the Malfoy galleons anyway, this is pittance to you."
She wrenched it off, took his hand and dropped it into his open palm.
"So you know."
"Who doesn't know that Lucius Malfoy died in Azkaban last week? Who doesn't know that Bellatrix Black escaped from her cell, found her way to his, killed both him and her in a single spell? It was splashed all over the papers, for goodness' sake," she finished witheringly.
"Well, now we can be together and be rich!" but he looked slightly confused at her look of staunch refusal.
"What about Pansy?"
"Oh, don't worry about her; the moment her father hears that the engagement won't be fulfilled, he'll marry her off the Zabini, the next on all mother's lists."
"So that's just perfect! Everything works out to everyone's satisfaction again, in another one of your little arrangements."
"What's wrong with that?"
"What, besides that you still chose the money over us? That you were ready to write us off because we didn't fit into your perception of an ideal life? Oh, nothing, really. Everything's just dandy."
"But that doesn't matter now! It doesn't apply anymore; we can be together now, and not have to be poor."
"You've already said that."
She half-turned her head, wistfully inattentive; she could hear a burst of laughter in the living room, could see the warmth and light shining from behind the half-shut door.
He grabbed her hand in desperation.
"Ginny! Look at me!"
She turned back, absently. It was dusk and the sky had almost set. She looked at the sky; pale, cold blue, stuck between light and dark.
But there was still enough light to illuminate his face.
"Ginny. Don't you want to have this?"
He leaned down, and shakily fit his lips over hers. She could feel him trembling the moment their skin touched.
She didn't pull away, let him press his mouth over hers. He pulled away.
"Ginny, I've missed you so much," he whispered, hugging her, "I haven't been able to do anything without you, Ginny, please…"
"I've missed you too."
She brought her hands up to complete the circle of their arms, briefly, before she gently pushed him away.
"Ginny," he said in anguish. His face was crumpled and yet he was still so much her Draco. She could feel her face threatening to do the same, but managed to hold off the tears.
"Then why didn't you say something?"
"I couldn't! But now it's all right, it's all right…"
He attempted to hug her again, but she quickly put herself out of distance of his arms.
If she let him touch her again, she would break.
"It's not all right, and it very probably never will be. You chose your money over us, and now you must let me have the right to choose myself-respect."
She looked at him, standing there, hunched against some internal pain, his features screwed up.
"I love you, Draco," she said, smoothing his hair.
"Yes, I love you too," he said eagerly, starting toward her again, desperate hope in his eyes.
"Oh, Merlin," she heaved a dry sob. Her breath couldn't come right.
"Please, Ginny," he said, voice cracked and dry, "I was going to cave anyway! I was stupid; please, Ginny, don't punish me like this."
She put him away from herself again.
"But if I go with you, I'll be punishing myself. Oh, Draco, why can't you see that? The thing is that you didn't come back, that in the end you didn't choose us. And now it's not your decision anymore. I would die, would kill myself, if I went back to you now. Don't you understand?"
He shook his head, arms still outstretched pleadingly.
"This is it," she said, breaking, shattering anyway despite him not making another move to touch her, "This is where we go. You've got your money, and I have my self-respect."
Suddenly it didn't seem worth it, and she almost moved toward him, before she steeled her resolve.
She almost hugged him, but then she realised that she wouldn't be able to stand it.
She turned and went back into the house.
He watched dully as the light from beyond the doorway flared briefly in his face when she opened the door. Then the door swung closed silently and there was nothing.
Above him, the sky darkened and the moon rose.
(A/N Ok well that's done. Finished.Wow that's like my longest fic ever!I still like the first few chaps better though.)