The next morning Draco stormed into the castle and barged into Ginny's office without knocking.
Throwing the paper down on her desk, he yelled at her, "What the hell is this?!"
She looked at it. "A paper."
"It's you and Potter!"
She stood up and glared at him. "You know it was nothing!"
"You knew he would do something like this and you went anyway!"
She started yelling as well. "I had no bloody choice!"
"You could have said no!"
"Like hell! You know he wouldn't have left me alone! You know he would have done something else! You know it wouldn't have mattered one iota if I had refused!"
"Then you damn well should have said something! Why did you let them print this? Why didn't you tell them it was business?!"
"Because it was none of theirs! What the fuck does it matter anyway? It isn't like there's someone to get jealous over it!" With that, she stormed out of the room.
Blaise was standing in the entrance hall. "That was risking, wasn't it?"
"What?" she demanded a bit harshly.
"Telling him there isn't anyone to get jealous?"
She sneered. "There isn't, Blaise. I don't care what the media says about me. I never have. As a result they've rarely said anything. I won't answer personal questions and I won't make responses to personal assumptions. If Harry and Draco want to have a PR war over who I'm dating then they are welcome to it, but if Draco wants me to break a silence he has long been aware I maintain he damn well better give me a reason to. Denial means nothing without alternative confirmation of which I have none to give. As it stands he has no bloody right to care if I actually did date Harry!" She looked at Blaise as though daring him contradict her.
Blaise did not.
She stormed off onto the grounds.
Once she was outside, Blaise looked over and saw Draco standing in the open door to her office. It was hard to read his face.
Blaise sighed. "Well, what do you make of that?"
"I would have no right to care if she dated the greatest bloody git in all off England?"
"Just England, eh?"
"No, as it stands, you would not."
"So what? Was that her way of telling me to ask her out? She had to know I would hear all of that."
"Mate, take it how you will," he turned off down a hallway. Just before he turned a corner, he called back, "but that's what I heard."
Draco turned to face the front lawn where Ginny had disappeared. "Why the hell would she want me to ask her out? We almost kill each other every time we speak now!"
"If she didn't love you wouldn't bother fighting with you and," Luna said as she entered the room, "who doesn't want to date the man she loves?"
Draco walked off to think. He really wasn't sure what he should do, or even what he wanted to do. He thought over all the time he had spent with Ginny. The more he thought about it he began to realize that she had never started a fight. She had always just reacted to his antagonism. Why the hell would she put up with him? The thing was, when he thought about it like this he could admit he acted like an ass most of the time and that everything she had told Ron was true, but for some reason it didn't change the way he reacted to things.
As he was walking, he saw someone approaching. When it took longer for the man to reach him than he expected, he looked closer and realized it was Hagrid. Hagrid had been one of the only ones to accept him, one of the first to stand beside him when he was recruiting. He knew it was entirely due to Ginny's trust in him, but anyone willing to trust her that completely was a good man in his estimation.
He strode toward Hagrid and greeted the half-giant with a hearty handshake. "Welcome home, Hagrid. Ginny's already prepared your hut."
Hagrid smiled. "Firenze told me she 'ad. Merlin, it's good to be back. I was beginnin' ta wonder if this place'd ever reopen."
"It will now," Draco said confidently. "Hopefully next September first. Think you can get the grounds back in shape by then?"
Hagrid looked around at all the wild growth. "If'en you can get the castle up by then, the grounds'll be ready."
Draco smiled. "I knew we could count on you. Blaise and Luna are inside. Ginny's out on the grounds somewhere. I'll find her and tell her you're hear if you want to go in and see the others."
Hagrid looked at Draco for a moment before nodding and heading in.
Draco turned and started off toward the lake. He knew where he would find Ginny, and sure enough, she was right where he expected, standing on the edge of the lake where the cliffs began to rise away from it.
"Hagrid's here," he said as he approached.
She turned. "Excellent." She started to walk toward the castle.
"Ginny…" he called after her.
She turned to face him. "No, Draco. It's all right. You don't have to say anything. I feel like a fool. I don't expect anything. I never have. And I certainly don't want to push anything. As for the reporters, well, I really don't want them involved with my personal life, you know that, and if they are determined to find something to print about it letting them believe what they want to is my own sick revenge. I know I'm a public figure, and if someone wants to do a story on me I'll answer questions I believe they have a right to know. I'll tell them what I believe, my hopes and dreams, my plans, anything about me, really, but my relationships with others are not their business. I put myself in the spot light and I'll live with that, but I will not drag my family and friends with me. I will do my best to protect them. If I deny a relationship with Harry they will begin to theorize about who I might be with. Harry chose that publicity, no one else did. Furthermore, I will not demonstrate any sort of respect for intrusive journalism by deigning it with a response. If the press is doing a story on the school, the interview will remain focused on the school. If they want a story on me they can ask for it. If they want to stalk me and jump out of the shadows they are not true journalists and do not deserve the truth. If the public is determined to believe what they want and think they know me because they read the tabloids, then they deserve the deception. The only people I care about know the truth. That's all that matters to me." When she finished speaking, she turned and continued to the castle.
Draco thought about what she said. He understood her view of the press and generally agreed. What he focused on, though, was her statement that she had never expected anything. That disturbed him. From what the others had said, from what she had said, she was in love with him and had not and would not pursue a relationship with anyone else, but never expected to have a relationship with him. That meant that she was willing, prepared, and expecting to live the rest of her life in love but alone. Alone because he needed her where she was, close enough but never closer. Alone because he was a coward.
He ran after her.
He caught up to her just as she was making her way up to the main doors. Spinning her around to face him, he didn't even give her a chance to react before bending down and drawing her into a kiss. As soon as she recovered from the shock and relaxed, he deepened the kiss, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close.
She didn't care what had happened to bring him here; she was just happy. She wrapped her arms around his neck and held him like she never wanted to let go. When he released her from the kiss, she laid her head against his shoulder, remaining silent to let him say whatever he wanted to say.
Speaking into her hair, he said, "Ginny, I'm sorry. You were a fool to wait for me, but I'm glad you did. I was a bigger fool to make you, to let you. I'm sorry."
She just held him tighter.