XXXXXXX

Epilogue: And What Happened Next

XXXXXXX

'Ginny, why can't you find a nice boy? What was wrong with Randall?'

Ginny knew there was a confused expression on her face when she looked over at her mother. 'Who's Randall?'

'That boy you were seeing – don't tell me you've gone and dumped him already!'

'What boy? I don't remember a Rand – oh. Right. Him. Yes, that was two months ago and he's gone. I'm seeing Clive now.'

'Clive? Ginevra, I wish you would settle down! Your brothers are all married and Harry's engaged! You're the last one left!'

'Yes, but should I remind you that George and Elspeth dated for three years before they got married? And Ron and Hermione were together for almost eight years before they decided to do it. So I wouldn't expect any sudden marriages or elopements from me.'

'You're twenty-five years old—'

'There's still plenty of time before I become an old maid!' Ginny cried. 'Now, do you want me to peel the potatoes or not?'

Mrs Weasley frowned, wiped her hands on her apron, and passed Ginny a bowl of red potatoes. She eyed her daughter and Ginny sat up straighter in the chair, taking the bowl and setting it down on the kitchen table. Using her wand, she began to peel the potatoes one by one.

'Is everyone coming tonight?' Ginny asked.

'Bill and Fleur aren't,' said Mrs Weasley through tight lips. Three years ago, Bill agreed to move to France with Fleur to raise their twin sons and had only come back to England twice. It was a very sore spot with Mrs Weasley who felt that Fleur's only redeeming quality was that she married Bill.

'Well, I figured that,' said Ginny icily. 'I meant the others.'

'Yes, everyone else is coming.'

Ginny smiled to herself. The family normally got together every Wednesday for dinner, but for the past two weeks Ginny had to work so she was looking forward to seeing her brothers. And if everyone was coming ... that was good news.

Two years after the end of the war, Percy's hand on the old Weasley clock suddenly moved from Lost to Hospital. It took several months of therapy, but he was able to relearn how to walk, talk, and use magic. He and a handful of other witches and wizards had been taken as hostages, only when their capturers were killed in the Final Battle, no one knew where to find them. It was a chance happening that a Muggle stumbled upon the eleven of them in a cave on the English coast. Percy ended up marrying his nurse at St Mungo's, a plain but clever witch who was Head Girl a year above Percy. She was a Ravenclaw, but despite her intelligence, rather thought she belonged in Gryffindor. Percy felt just the opposite; he fancied himself more suited for Ravenclaw. Mrs Weasley asked them when they were going to give her more grandchildren the way she asked Ginny when she was going to get married – all the time.

Ron and Hermione had, of course, married as well, although it took them until last year to do it. It was a Muggle wedding in a Muggle church. Ginny was a bridesmaid, the maid of honour, and her dress was a very dark green, which looked much better than the awful gold Fleur had picked out. Surprisingly, Tonks was the other bridesmaid; no one had realised how close the two girls were.

'I owled her after the debacle with Ron and Lavender ended and before Ron got the nerve to make a move. She fancied Remus for so long before they got together; I thought she could give me valuable advice.'

Ginny later found out that valuable advice changed into friendship. Tonks wanted to give herself bright, cherry red hair to match the green dress since the wedding was taking place at the beginning of December, close to Christmas. Hermione refused and Ginny rather thought that it took a bit of persuading from Lupin, but Tonks walked down the aisle with long brown hair pulled up in a twisty bun. It was becoming.

Ron and Hermione would be married one year next month while George and Elspeth were working on their third anniversary. They had a one-year-old daughter named Ella with the curliest ginger coloured hair Ginny ever saw. It was nice to know George's baby so well since she hardly ever saw Bill's.

'Oh, there're Ron and Hermione,' said Mrs Weasley looking out of the kitchen window.

A few moments later, Ron and Hermione walked in through the back door, both wearing Muggle clothes. Ron nicked a dinner roll from a basket on the counter; Mrs Weasley slapped his hand with her spatula, but he managed to stuff the entire roll in his mouth anyway.

'You're going to ruin your appetite!'

'Ron could never ruin his appetite. He's going to eat us out of house and home,' said Hermione.

'What? You act like you never knew I ate a lot.'

'You eat loads, Ron, loads.'

Ron smiled and shrugged. 'Where's Dad?'

'Out in the shed with Harry. They'll be back in a bit,' said Ginny.

'Ah, I'll go see what they're doing.' Ron stuffed his hands in his pockets and walked out into the back garden.

Hermione sat down at the table, took out her wand, and tapped the bowl of potatoes. All at once they peeled. With another tap of her wand, she Vanished the skins.

'Is Harry's girlfriend coming?' Hermione asked. 'Whatever her name is?'

'Laura,' said Ginny with a bored yawn. 'You know her name, Hermione.'

'I know,' she said rather glumly. 'She's not good enough for Harry.'

'Would anyone be good enough for Harry?'

'No. If I don't worry about him, who will?'

'I will,' said Ginny. 'And Mum will as well.'

'You shouldn't worry so much, dear,' said Mrs Weasley, patting Hermione's shoulder. 'Laura's all right. She treats Harry well and he loves her.'

'I know ... I suppose no one's good enough for Harry.' Hermione shot a quick look at Ginny. 'Except for, well ...'

'It's all right,' said Ginny. 'I don't want to date Harry anyway.'

Hermione gave her what looked like a sympathetic smile. It didn't really matter; she and Harry were over. The summer after her seventh year they tried to date again. Things went all right for the first two months, but they mutually broke up because they knew it wasn't going to work. In the weeks they were together at Hogwarts, Ginny never took any crap from Harry, but she was a different person now. The things she tolerated back then weren't tolerable now.

Once, Hermione said Harry had a 'saving-people thing.' It wasn't just their lives that Harry wanted to save; he wanted to protect everyone in general and Ginny didn't want protection. It was in Harry's nature and that might have been fine at Hogwarts to an extent, but that summer, Ginny wanted complete freedom. She stayed single for over a year before she started dating bloke after bloke after bloke. Less than a handful of them ever shared her bed, but she let them take her out on dates and snog once they reached her flat, only to repeat the same process over and over with different men every few months. None of them kept her interest and things always fell apart.

Harry, on the other hand, dated two girls after Ginny. The first one he dated for almost a year before she broke things off. After that, he dated Laura Madley, some girl from Hogwarts a few years behind him. He happened to meet her on a visit to St Mungo's after he was hit with a Bludger during a game. She was a Healer-in-Training at the time, introduced to him by Percy's wife. The rest was history ... the rest was a rather beautiful, but simple, ring that wrapped around her ring finger.

'Are George and Elspeth bringing Ella?' Ginny asked.

'I would assume so,' said Mrs Weasley. 'There' – she cast a warming charm on the food – 'everything's ready.'

A cough and a bang came from the living room. Mrs Weasley wiped her hands on her apron again, muttering, 'What in the name of Merlin?' as she scurried into the other room.

Ginny heard quick little steps a few seconds later and curly-haired Ella ran into the room, her chubby legs wobbling underneath her. Ginny picked her up and sat her in her lap.

'George, your father is in his shed with Harry and Ron – go tell them dinner is ready. I see Percy in the garden. He must have just Apparated here.'

Ginny and Hermione set out the forks, knives, and napkins as everyone came inside and sat down around the table.

'Molly, you have to see this,' Mr Weasley exclaimed, holding something in his hand that looked like an ordinary frying pan. 'It's called Telfan—'

'Teflon,' Harry muttered, looking over at Hermione.

'—and nothing sticks to it! You don't have to worry about cleaning it; everything comes off!'

Mrs Weasley placed her hands on her hips. 'Why do I need Telfan when I have a wand?'

'If you were ever without a wand, Molly dear. Isn't it amazing? These things Muggles come up with!'

Hermione smiled and looked as though she was trying to stifle a laugh. Ron reached for another dinner roll.

Ella sat in a highchair next to Elspeth who tore up a dinner roll for her to pick up with her tiny hands along with cut-up pieces of potato and carrot; Ella looked thoroughly excited about all of it. The rest of them began the meal, discussing Harry's new Quidditch schedule.

'Well, my contract is to play through the next Quidditch World Cup, which is next summer,' he said. 'They're already trying to renew it until the World Cup after that, but I don't know if I want to continue playing that long.'

'Ohh?' said Ginny. 'Why not?'

'That's another four years ... that's a long commitment, especially if I'm going to get married next August.'

'Is that the date you picked?' Mrs Weasley exclaimed. 'Oh, Harry, how exciting! We'll help plan or do whatever you need us to do! Another wedding—'

'Molly, dear, why don't you calm down? There's plenty of time to get excited,' said Mr Weasley.

'Well, it might be the last wedding I get to help with!'

'You still have another unmarried kid, you know,' Ginny ground out.

'I didn't think you were going to get married,' said Mrs Weasley, cutting up her pot roast.

'I never said – I haven't found the guy I want to marry is all.' Ginny looked down at her plate and pushed the potatoes away from the roast.

'Perhaps you've found him, you just don't know it yet,' suggested Hermione.

'Oh, I know it all right,' Ginny murmured. No one seemed to hear her, for none of them commented, but when Ginny looked up, her father was eying her thoughtfully.

'Shut up, Ron,' Hermione said, pulling Ginny out of her stupor.

'You said you were going to tell them tonight. Do it or I will.'

'Fine.' Hermione took in a deep breath and said in a very monotonous voice, 'Ron and I are going to have a baby.'

The squeal that erupted from Mrs Weasley hurt Ginny's ears. After she calmed down, she looked over at Percy.

'I always thought you would have children before Ron and Hermione.'

'We're not going to have kids,' said Percy. 'Not now, not ever. Oh, don't look so horrified. My reason is the same as Lupin and Tonks' every time you ask them when they're going to start reproducing. We don't want kids.'

'Don't say it as though having kids is tragic,' said Elspeth.

Percy opened his mouth to respond, but Ella took that precise moment to fling a handful of carrots at his head. Everyone laughed except for Percy who peeled the mashed-up carrots off his face and glasses.

'Ron thinks we're going to have twins,' said Hermione, rolling her eyes.

'It could happen,' said Ginny.

'Twins run in the family,' said Mrs Weasley.

'Yeah,' George added, 'Bill and Fleur have twins.'

'You don't,' countered Hermione.

'We could very easily,' said Elspeth. 'Molly, when was the last time someone in the Weasley family didn't have twins?'

'1782.'

'And you happen to know that year off the top of your head?' said Hermione. 'Never mind. It doesn't matter if they run in your family. It only matters if twins run on the female's side. See, genetically—'

'No one wants to hear any of your ruddy Muggle biofolgy stuff,' said Ron. 'In the wizarding world, it doesn't matter whose side it runs on. It's magic.'

'So you have magic sperm that's going to magically divide my egg in two?'

Ron shrugged and an abrupt, horrified look of comprehension crossed Hermione's face. She grasped at her stomach with one hand, muttering, 'Oh, God, oh, God, oh, God,' and excused herself, rushing out of the room, with her other hand over her mouth.

Ginny almost laughed. In her twenty-five years of life, she never saw anyone get as annoyed with Ron as Hermione did. It shouldn't have shocked her that the two of them could find something to bicker about at a time like this. How they stayed together for the better part of a decade, Ginny had no idea.

During the hurried chatter directly afterwards, where Mrs Weasley admonished Ron for not going after Hermione, Mr Weasley leaned towards his daughter and said quietly, almost under his breath, 'Rumour has it around the Minister's office that Malfoy's back in Wiltshire.'

Ginny suddenly lost her appetite.

XXXXXXX

Luna glided into the living room of the flat she and Ginny shared. Ginny watched her walk in, her cucumber earrings swinging wildly. The blonde girl stopped in front of the settee and put her hands on her hips.

'Ginny, did the Green Fairy whisper in your ear?'

'... What?'

Luna sighed exasperatedly. 'One only drinks from the' – she lowered her voice significantly – 'green bottle if the Green Fairy comes.'

Ginny looked at the bottle in front of her. 'Oh, right, this. I didn't charm it,' she said, 'so it's the same Absinthe that Muggles drink these days. You have to add in that extra charm to activate the wormwood.'

Luna didn't look convinced. 'Was dinner that bad? Harry didn't try to get back together, did he? You know, I have very fond memories of our date. He's much nicer than Ronald is. I think he still mocks me.'

'Harry or Ronald?'

'Ronald,' answered Luna.

'No, dinner was not bad. It was rather enjoyable, really. My dad told me Draco's back in England.'

'Oh.'

'I don't know if I should go see him.'

'You can come with me, if you want. I'm going with Neville to find a Checkered Ernge Tulip, the flesh-eating kind.'

Ginny knew better than to ask what that was. 'No thanks.'

'If you still love him, then maybe—'

From the other side of the room came a loud 'Oomph!' and a cloud of soot filled the room. Ginny watched as a blackened Hermione stepped forward, coughing.

'Don't you ever clean your fireplace?' she asked. 'Scourgify! That's better.'

'What do you want?'

'Well, I—' Hermione stopped, her gaze dropping down to the coffee table in front of the settee and the green bottle sitting upon it. 'You didn't charm that, did you?'

'No, and it would do you some good to mind your own business for once,' Ginny said rather acidly.

'Ron heard what your father said to you.'

Ginny felt her face drain of colour.

'Don't worry, I don't think your mum knows.'

'Come to give me a good lecture, then?'

'No. I've come to make sure you are going to go to him. If you don't see how he is, then you'll spend the rest of your life regretting it. He might only be in England for a few days. This shouldn't be a missed opportunity.'

Ginny stared at Hermione in disbelief. 'I think your hormones have done wonky things to your brain.'

'My brain and my hormones are fine.'

'Something wonky is going on.'

Hermione moved towards the settee and sat down next to Ginny. 'You know I'm mad about your brother, right? If we had never got together in seventh year, I would have always wondered what could have been. And if I found out that he was in town after not seeing him for almost eight years I would do everything in my power to see him.'

'What if he's married or something?' Ginny said desperately. 'I couldn't stand the thought of him with someone else. I'd rather not see him at all.'

'Are you sure that's true?'

Ginny shook her head. 'No.'

'I think you need to see him.'

'What if he breaks my heart again?'

'Then break his in return.'

XXXXXXX

It took all her courage to Apparate to Wiltshire. At first, she almost didn't in case she splinched herself, but she cleared her head long enough for Apparation. With deep breaths, Ginny walked up to the front door of the mansion and knocked. It took almost a minute for someone to answer; it was Bitty the house-elf.

'Mistress Wheezy!' she cried. 'Mistress Wheezy! Bitty is so glad to see—'

'Is Draco here?' asked Ginny, cutting Bitty off.

'Oh, yes, yes, Sir is upstairs.'

'Can you get him for me? Don't tell him it's me, but tell him there's someone in the foyer, all right?'

Bitty's face fell. 'Bitty is not thinking Sir wants to see anyone.'

'Tell him I won't go away, that I demand to see him – and don't punish yourself if Draco tells you to; I forbid it!' Ginny added quickly as Bitty disappeared, but she knew that if Draco told her to hurt herself, nothing she could say could make it better.

Ginny took off her cloak and smoothed her shirt. It was warm in the foyer and her neck and palms were already sweating from nervousness; the heat did not help matters. Everything was exactly the same as it was the last time she was there, which was a little unnerving. The memories flooded back; Ginny took in a deep breath and steadied herself.

'Hi!'

'Wha—?' Ginny turned towards the stairs; a small girl ran down the stairs wearing white flower-print pyjamas. Her feet were bare and padded against the hardwood floor as she ran up to Ginny. She had a lampshade over her head, hiding half her face.

'Er, hi,' said Ginny. 'What's your name?'

'Her name is Paige.'

Ginny's eyes shot up from the little girl's to the top of the stairs. Draco. His hair was a bit longer than she'd ever seen it and it was all slicked back, white blonde and smooth, with the exception of a few strands that fell over his forehead. He looked as though he was ready for bed, wearing black pyjama bottoms and a long sleeve t-shirt. The lines of his body looked sharp and hard, as if he had spent the past few years working out and exercising.

'Paige?' squeaked Ginny, feeling confused and completely unsure of what to say.

Draco walked down the stairs. He stopped right behind Paige, turned her around, and pulled her to him. 'Why is there a lampshade on your head?'

'Et's my hat, Papa!'

Ginny flinched. Papa? Draco took the lampshade off the girl's head. A gasp escaped Ginny's throat and her heart all but stopped. The girl had shoulder-length ginger hair, lighter than Ginny's but nevertheless red.

Draco knelt in front of the girl and placed his hands on her shoulders; it reminded Ginny of the last time she and Draco spoke, when they said their goodbyes.

'It's nine o'clock.'

'No.'

'No? It's not nine o'clock?'

'Et's fwee o'clock!'

'Three? Well, what are you doing in pyjamas if it's three?'

Paige shrugged dramatically and shook her head.

'We've had the discussion about lying before,' said Draco, the severity laced in his voice, and he dropped his hands. 'Go to bed.'

'But—'

'Go to bed.' Draco stood up. 'Bitty!'

The house-elf appeared with a soft crack and curtsied, her eyes focused on the floor.

'Take Paige back to bed.'

'Yes, sir. Come Miss.'

Once Bitty and Paige were out of sight up the stairs, Draco motioned for Ginny to follow him. They went into the sitting room.

'Sit,' instructed Draco.

Ginny sat on the cold leather sofa and folded her cloak on her lap. She took the drink Draco offered her and put it to her mouth, downing it in one large gulp. Draco sat on the other side of the sofa, leaning back into the corner, one leg bent up on the leather, the other off the side, his foot flat on the floor.

'I'd ask why you are here, but I don't think I'm going to get a straight answer.'

Ginny shook her head. 'I don't think I know.'

Draco nodded and took a sip of his drink. 'You look good.'

'Thank—'

'You look amazing.' His eyes flickered towards hers as he said it. Ginny's pulse quickened. 'I'm going to need another drink.' He downed the rest of the liquor and got up. 'Do you want another?'

'I've already had several when I was at my flat. So ... that was your daughter?'

Draco poured another drink and went back to the sofa before answering. 'Yes,' he said simply.

'Oh, my God,' said Ginny, wincing. 'Just ... oh, my God. Can't imagine anyone ever calling you Dad.'

'She doesn't call me Dad. She calls me Papa. Her mum was half-French, half-Italian, and called her father Papa.'

'Are you, y'know, married?'

Draco rubbed his eyes. 'You don't just come to my house and start asking me questions about the past seven years. About things that are none of your business.'

'Ask me whatever you want,' said Ginny. 'I'll tell you. I heard you were back in town – well, obviously I did – and I wanted to see you. It's been a really long time. I figured we could catch up. We did love each other once, didn't we?'

'Aye.'

Ginny shrugged helplessly. 'I wanted to see how you were. It's been years and I haven't the faintest idea how you've been.'

Draco sighed. 'Are you married?'

Ginny laughed. 'No, no, I'm not. Though, my mother's about to the point of driving me to the loony bin with all her marriage talk.'

'What about ...'

Ginny had a feeling Draco wanted to know about Harry. Not wanting him to think Harry was first in her thoughts, she opted to tell him about the rest of her family instead. 'Bill and Fleur are in France with their twins. George married a Muggle and they have a daughter. Percy – ohh, yes, Percy was found, didn't that make international news? Well, Percy and ten others were found, victims of Death Eaters. He's married. Ron and Hermione got married last year and now they're expecting a baby. Harry's engaged to a girl from Hogwarts who was a couple years behind me. I'm the only one technically single.'

'Thank you for the family history.'

'Right,' said Ginny, feeling foolish.

'Do you have a job?'

'Yes. I work for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.'

'As what?' asked Draco with a look of confusion on his face. 'You couldn't possibly be an Auror.'

'Er, no. Not with ...' Ginny motioned towards her stomach. 'I rarely feel it hurt, but it's too great a risk for the Department to take. I went through all the Auror training except for the field work and my job is to basically interrogate witches and wizards who are brought in. Some are witnesses, others suspects. Some are criminals, but I have to find out the whole story. The Ministry has such strict laws on the use of Veritaserum that people like me are important ... I find out the truth when no one else can.'

'I was questioned by one of you once.'

'Oh,' said Ginny, feeling foolish all over again, 'right. Of course. Is that why you're here? To check in with the Ministry?'

'No,' said Draco. 'I'm here because my wife died.'

'You – what? Draco, I'm so sorry. I wouldn't have come if I'd know—'

'Why not? Don't answer that.' He took the rest of his drink. 'She died almost six months ago. I didn't want to stay in Sicily any longer. This is the only other place I know. It's close to the Ministry and a few business acquaintances I have made.'

'Business?'

'Investments of ... funds.'

Ginny didn't want to know. Whatever it was, it probably bordered on illegal if it wasn't completely against the law. But, really, that didn't surprise her. She did think he might try to be more careful now that he was an ex-con – an ex-con with a child. Ginny had to close her eyes for a moment to try and get a grip over the fact that Draco was married. It didn't seem real. He was married before, made love to someone else and produced a child with her.

'What happened to your wife?' asked Ginny, the curiosity about to make her explode.

'There was an eruption on Mount Etna. She was there collecting samples of ash for a potion when ... You can guess the rest, I don't need to retell it.'

'Tell me about her?' Ginny chewed on her lower lip for a moment before adding, 'Please?'

'Like what?'

'What was her name?'

'Annabelle.'

'How old was she?'

'Twenty-four.'

Ginny sighed. So young. 'When did you get married?'

'A year and a half ago.'

'Oh.' Ginny's mind thought back to Paige. The girl definitely looked older than a year and a half—

'She was pregnant when we got married,' said Draco as if reading Ginny's thoughts. 'She told me she was pregnant with Paige. It was her initial idea to get married, but anything to keep the pureblood lines going. Her father is a retired Minister for Magic. He quit after two years, but he has all the ties and a lot of power.'

'I can't imagine you with someone who didn't have any.'

Draco tilted his head to the side ever so slightly and regarded her. She didn't have a lot of power and yet he had been with her; what drove her to make such a statement? Ginny had no idea.

'So, how old is Paige?'

'She turned two last week.'

'She talks well. Bill's sons still use baby words.'

'Paige is clever. She's definitely a Slytherin, though. There's no doubt about that. She's cunning, but very sweet. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that you don't have any children?'

'God, no,' said Ginny and immediately regretted it. 'I wouldn't mind them one day, but not now. I don't have any, no.'

Draco sniggered.

'How long were you with Annabelle?'

'Oh, Gin, I don't know.'

'She had red hair.'

Draco nodded. 'Yes,' he said, although Ginny barely heard it.

'Is there a reason?'

'How many wizards have you been with since the last time you came to me?'

'I don't know.'

'Yes, you do.'

'Do you want to know how many I've dated or how many I've taken to my bed?'

'Either,' said Draco. 'Both.'

'I've dated too many men to count, but I've only been with four of them.'

'Were they blondes?'

'No,' said Ginny darkly. 'None of them were. I think I'll take that other drink now.'

Draco got up and refilled their glasses with dark liquor. He leaned back against the bar, facing Ginny, holding both glasses loosely in his hands. 'I moved back to Sicily in August. I met Annabelle in September two years later. If that answers your question.'

'Did you love her?'

'No. Yes. Maybe I did. I don't know.'

'She had red hair, Draco.'

'I was aware. None of the men you fucked were blonde.'

Ginny stood up. 'That's because none of them were you and I didn't want to be reminded of you when I slept with them. I had a hard enough time keeping my eyes open so I wouldn't imagine it was you instead of them.'

'I always saw you. The shade of her hair was exactly like yours.'

'So, in essence, you married me.'

'I suppose you could say that.'

'But you said we couldn't be together.'

'She came without a family who hated me.'

'You were in prison.'

'The Italian Ministry is just as corrupt as the British Ministry was. You already know my father used money to bribe Fudge. Annabelle's family are purebloods. They do not take lightly to Muggles, Muggle-lovers, half-breeds, or—'

'They're the Malfoys, only with different last names.'

Draco nodded. 'Her father's side. Her mother was from France. Very different. I never met them. Just heard stories.'

'If I told you that after every date I dreamt about you, would you believe me?'

'Yes.'

'What if I told you that I think I'm still in love with you, even though I haven't seen you in almost eight years?'

'Don't say something like that if you're not prepared to follow through with it,' said Draco warningly.

'My father told me you were here. He wouldn't have done that if he didn't think we belonged together.'

'No?'

Ginny shook her head. 'No. Don't you think that's a sign?'

'I dropped Divination. It was right rubbish, so don't ask me if I think that's a sign, because the answer is going to be no.'

'I think it's a sign,' said Ginny, pretending she hadn't heard Draco. 'I'm twenty-five, not seventeen. I'm prepared to tell my family to sod off if we try again.'

'Are you prepared to lose them?'

'I won't,' said Ginny confidently. 'I might have to prove that you're good and deserving of me. I think Mum would be the hardest to convince, but I'm willing to do it.'

'This isn't a game this time. This would be serious.'

'I know. I'm tired of looking for the right person. I need to be happy, Draco, and I'm not. I've been happier standing here, looking at you, than I've been in years.'

'You know what I'm like. I haven't changed.'

'I made a promise to you once,' said Ginny. 'I said I wouldn't change you then and I don't plan on trying now.'

Draco put the glasses down on the bar and went to a bookshelf. He pulled a book down and opened it up. He seemed to hesitate for several moments before taking some parchment out of the books and handing them to Ginny.

'What's this?' she asked, confused. She unfolded the papers and her breath hitched painfully. They were the letters she wrote him while he was in Azkaban. 'You didn't burn them.'

'No.'

'So you did read them.'

Draco nodded.

'And you did my detention for me as well.'

He nodded again.

'Thank you for showing me these.' She handed them to Draco who took them and put them back between the pages of the old-looking book.

'Do you have a flatmate?'

'Yes,' answered Ginny, furrowing her brow slightly.

'Will she get upset if you don't come home tonight?'

'No.'

'Good.'

They stood and looked at one another for a split second. Ginny wasn't sure if she moved or if Draco moved, but somehow they were together, melded together, kissing with a passion that had built up over the years, only now being released.

Draco pulled his head back, but his body was still against hers and she was more aware of every centimetre of his body than she'd ever been aware of anyone before.

'I love you,' he said.

The words hit Ginny hard in the gut. He'd never said those words to her face-to-face. The closest he came was snapping, 'You know I fucking love you,' after she pressured him to admit it. The look on his face told her everything she needed to know and she kissed him hard and long.

XXXXXXX

'And then you danced in the ballroom after your wedding! Just like in the fairy tale!'

'It wasn't so much a wedding as an elopement with just my family there. No friends, no children. Just Mum, Dad, and my brothers and Hermione.'

'Again, again! Tell me again!'

Ginny shook her head. 'No.' She shut the leather-bound journal and placed it back inside the drawer of her bedside table. 'Paige is going to be very upset when she finds out that I've told you the story without her here. She likes the story, too.'

'It's Paige's own fault. She left me here all by myself!'

'She didn't leave you,' said Ginny gently. 'She turned eleven. It was time for her to go to school. You'll be there in four years. And then the twins will wonder why you've left them.'

'Papa, make Mummy tell the story again.'

Ginny looked up. Draco entered their bedroom with a tired look on his face. He sat down on the edge of the bed and began to untie his shoes.

'I think you've heard the blasted story enough for seven lifetimes, Sissy. Go to bed.'

'But, Papa!'

Ginny couldn't help but smile at her seven-year-old daughter. Her hair was light red, almost a strawberry-blonde, and she had the same demanding temperament Ginny had had when she was a little girl. There was a rather large fight over what her name was going to be and Ginny only relented to naming her after Draco's mother on two conditions. One, she was never ever to be referred to as Narcissa. And two, Ginny got to name every other child they ever had. Draco agreed. Truthfully, Ginny hadn't minded too much. After all, his mother died trying to save him; it was the least Ginny could do because without her sacrifice, her daughter wouldn't be here. It was a good compromise because two years later Ginny gave birth to twins and named them Chares and Fredrick respectfully. She had never seen her mother cry so hard.

'Tuck me in,' Sissy said, standing up on the bed and draping her arms around Draco's neck.

'Fine.' He stood up and turned his head to look back at Ginny. 'I'll be back.'

Ginny snuggled down into the covers. It was uncharacteristically cold outside for September and it was making the house seem like ice. The thick blankets were warm and Ginny felt as though she never wanted to get out of bed.

'That girl is going to drive me mad one of these days.'

Ginny laughed. 'You give her whatever she wants.'

'Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?' Draco took off his shirt. 'Lock the door, will you?'

Ginny reached over and grabbed her wand from the bedside table. She pointed it at the door. 'Colloportus.' A loud squelching sound echoed in the room. 'Planning on being loud?'

'Too tired now,' said Draco, pulling on a pair of silk pyjama bottoms. 'But in the morning ...' He reached for the top, but Ginny stopped him.

'You look sexier with just the bottoms.'

Draco snorted and climbed into bed. 'Good, you've warmed it up. It's fucking cold out there.'

'You really need to stop saying those words in front of the twins. Charlie made up a rhyme about the word "fuck" and sang it all day.'

'He has your hair and my sense of humour.'

'What sense?'

'Ho, ho.' Draco turned over on his side, draping an arm over Ginny's middle and kissing her shoulder.

'I thought you said you were too tired tonight?'

'I am,' said Draco, yawning. 'Your bloody mother and her Wednesday night dinners. "It's past their bedtimes, Mum, I need to get them home. Oh, no, Draco, you stay here and finish your pudding,"' he mimicked.

'I'm sorry.'

'Your mother talked to me for an hour. I have nothing to say to her. She doesn't like me so I think she kept me there to torture me. And what a brilliant form of torture that was. Leaving someone with their in-laws alone.'

Ginny laughed.

'Please tell me you leave out the parts of me marrying Paige's mother because she looked like you.'

'I always skip over that. Paige calls me "Mum" now anyway. She asks me to tell her the story of how we met and got together. And whenever Paige and Sissy ask to hear the story, I always skip the gratuitous sex bits as well. And the torture part. I say that you were ordered to kill me and that's it.'

'No wonder Sissy thinks it's such a fairy tale. I should give her the old German stories – there's a book in the library.'

'Don't you dare!' warned Ginny. 'Those stories are gruesome. Grim, indeed. Grim, Grimm, ha-ha.'

'It is a good story, I suppose.'

'It's a fantastic story.'

'I suppose I should thank you for writing it down so that when we're old and pissing ourselves we can read it and remember.'

'I wrote it because I like remembering in general,' said Ginny. 'Not for the future, but I suppose it works that way as well.'

Draco yawned again.

'Go to sleep,' said Ginny, brushing his hair away from his face.

'The house is quiet without Paige here.'

'I know. Imagine, in six years all four of them will be at Hogwarts and the house will be empty and quiet for an entire year.'

'Let's speed up time now.'

'Draco!'

'Don't shriek in my ear! What's wrong with you?'

'Wrong with me? I married a moody man.'

Draco snorted, but it wasn't long before that snort turned into a soft snore. Ginny smiled to herself again. They bickered all the time, but even while fighting, she was never happier. While he used to sleep no more than a couple hours at a time, Draco was falling asleep quickly and sleeping the entire night through. He never mentioned it, but Ginny felt it was because for once everything felt right with him. Occasionally Ginny couldn't keep herself awake, but usually she waited for Draco to fall asleep first so she could say to him what he spent saying to her during their time in Sicily.

She'd whisper, 'I love you,' in his ear as he slept. Sometimes she got the feeling that Draco was only pretending to be asleep so that he could hear her say it because as she herself drifted off she could hear, 'I love you, too,' echoing in her head.

XXXXXXX

The End ...

XXXXXXX

A/N: The end is here! Please review! I beg of you, though, not to leave a flame or a long post telling me how ridiculous this story or the D/G pairing in general is. That does me no good. I'd rather read praises and criticisms that are useful to my writing because those do not waste my time like the other types of reviews do.

Once I finish the Quote!Fic Challenge, I'll be taking some time off of fanfic writing, but I might pick it up again once I have some time off of school because that, unfortunately, takes priority over fics.

Thank you to doraemon for beta'ing this story with its long chapters. I appreciate your help immensely. And thank you all for reading. This has been my favourite story to write.

Cheers,

Kelly / kjcp