Chapter Eight

In Seven Days

Stage Six

Friday 25th December 2009

"What is he?" Ginny said as she sat down at the bar she had come to both know and hate.

The barman turned around to face the owner of the voice that spoke with such disdain. He looked into the eyes of the woman who had confronted him a little under a week ago.

"What is who?" he said paying ignorant. He knew full well what she was talking about.

"Janos Elliot, that's who, what is he?" she asked again.

"He's… different."

She scoffed. "Yeah, no shit."

"Have you asked him this yourself?" he asked her.

"You actually think he'll answer me?"

He shrugged. "He could do, have you tried?"

She said softly, "No."

He nodded and picked up a random glass and began wiping it clean. "You know, I have met a lot of you people-."

"You people?" she said eyeing him wiping out the glass.

"Yeah, this is his retreat apparently. Loads of people who need help, loads of people to help. It's what he's about. There are the select few that he favours and he helps all the way-."

"All the way?"

"Yeah, like – say you have a guy somewhere that you turned down a few years ago and then you get into this relationship with someone else and they turn out to be… abusive or something, I don't know. If he thinks you're worthy of it he'll help you out."

"What do you mean if he feels you're worthy?"

"Erm, if he feels you really need help, like real special attention. He'll hook you up."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

Ginny got up to leave but then something held her back. "Wait, how do you know all this? When I came here the other day, you said you didn't even remember me."

He smiled. "I have my reasons for remembering certain things."

"Oh yeah? How?"

"Well, I'm here ain't I?" he smiled. "Someone's got to tell them where to go."

She nodded with a warm smile and left the bar.

---

Fred followed Ginny into the living room. "Ginny we said sorry, what more can we do?"

Ginny spun at him as she went to get her coat. "You can leave me alone. And trust me to make my own decisions."

George piped up then. "We do trust you, we even trust him to an extent, we just don't like him."

Draco stood up. "'Him,' is still in the room."

They both looked at him and Fred frowned. "'Him,' should shut his mouth."

Ginny breathed out in exasperation. "And we should leave, come on." She put on her coat and threw her scarf around her neck.

"Ginny, come on, they didn't mean anything by it." Ginny turned around. It was Harry who had spoken. A small distance behind, Hermione stood watching them. Ginny stared at the two of them and couldn't help but remember how they had fooled her in her other life and how she had let herself be fooled even though, somewhere in the back of her mind, she had always known. Standing there, however, and watching them made her soften a little. She had not gone through that here and they had always been her friends. She turned to Draco and smiled to herself as she watched him. She couldn't blame them. After all, you can't help who you love.

"What they have done, Harry, is only prove to me that they cannot let go of something so incredibly stupid it speaks multitudes of their own warped personalities. Until they do finally grow up to match the age of their shoe sizes I will think about coming back here for family gatherings." She looked at the two terrors she had the displeasure of calling her brothers. "He is a part of the family now. Until you accept that I am not coming back." She backed way from them but stared at them even as she said, "Happy New years, mum." She finally turned away from them and left the house.

"That was… different," Draco said beside her.

"Well, now they have to kiss mum's arse too." She smiled up at him. "Can we go somewhere? I don't want to go home yet." She slipped her arms around his waist inside of his coat.

Draco nodded as he rested his chin on her head. He then looked up to the sky. The sun was setting. He then smiled as he thought of the perfect place. He lowered his head to whisper in her ear.

"Hold on." She nodded and squeezed.

---

When Ginny opened her eyes she saw the most beautiful sunset she had ever seen in her life. The sky was a mixture of colours. Even though the sun was bright on the orange horizon the air was still crisp and cold. She didn't let go of Draco, even when they sat down on the ground.

It was then that she realised she was on a roof of a rather tall building. She looked over at her husband. "Where are we?" she asked.

"You don't recognise it?" he asked. "Well I suppose you haven't been up here in a while. It's the roof of the hotel, remember?" he said.

Ginny didn't remember, like she didn't remember so many things. And then suddenly something occurred to her. Sometimes I am glad for that roof, it's the only sanctuary I have. He had said that not three days ago and she had wondered what on earth he was talking about. She nodded to him as he seemed to be waiting for an answer. "Of course I do," she said and wiggled herself closer.

"Good, I would have to worry then. I don't think I could handle you not remembering where our second child was conceived," he said.

Ginny stopped and watched him strangely. "What – oh – yes of course I couldn't forget that, what do you think I am?"

"I think you are a number of things but none of them will get me a smile so I'll keep them to myself."

She hit him playfully on the arm and then they just sat down until the sky became dark and the sun had disappeared completely. A crescent moon shone behind them, smiling down at them. In that moment, like so many others, she did not want to leave. But she had to face it.

This was her last sunset, her last crescent moon, her last few hours with him.

"We need to get back. The kids probably want to tear into their other presents if they haven't already done that and stuck them back together. Ginny? Ginny are you crying, what's wrong?"

"I – I don't want to go," she said quietly.

He moved so he could see her face as she had burrowed it into his neck. "Go? Go where?" he asked.

Ginny sighed. He wouldn't believe her even if she did tell him. "Away for the New Year. Can we stay?"

He smiled. "You had me worried there. I suppose we could stay. There's really no reason to go away to a nice warm country when we could freeze to death here. I guess it could be arranged," he said.

Ginny smiled. "Thank you."

---

The living room was flooded with wrapping paper and various toys, ornaments and clothes, both knitted and bought. They hung on the edges of chairs, sat around the tree and lay haphazardly close to the fire. Ginny looked at the clock. It was half past eleven. She sighed into her hot cup of chocolate and wiped away a salty tear. She wasn't supposed to get so close to them. She was just supposed to be there for seven days and then leave with no worries.

But who was she kidding?

Of course she would get involved. She was the proud owner of a wonderful husband, two beautiful children, her very own successful business and a life of happiness. How could someone not get pulled into that? She stared into the fire and saw some of the newly bought toys close to the flames. She took out her wand and moved them away before they caught fire or melted.

She wished she had another day, she wished she hadn't gotten angry at Janos to make him think twice about giving them to her. She wished she didn't have to leave this sanctuary of bliss.

She wished she had chosen him instead.

---

"You've been down here a very long time. Aren't you coming upstairs?" she heard behind her. She jumped out of shock and turned around on the arm chair. When she did, she smiled.

"I was, but now there's no reason to," she said and heard him chuckle.

He came into the room and sat down on the three seater. "Wow, what a mess," he said regarding the living room and its current state. "Is this why you're taking so long, you're contemplating whether or not to clean? You do know we have a house elf, right?"

"We do?" she said genuinely but he seemed to hear it as sarcasm.

"Ha, ha, Ginny." He scrubbed his face with his hands to get rid of the tiredness. "So, I'm lying in bed asleep and wake up suddenly and you're not there. Explanation. You cannot still be drinking that chocolate, you made it," he said looking up at the clock. It was quarter to two, "over four hours ago."

Ginny looked down at the cup. It was true; the cup of hot liquid was now stone cold liquid and the heat she was feeling was from the part of the cup she was holding.

She sighed. "I don't want to go just yet," she said talking about something different completely.

"So, you'll just stay up all night then?" Draco said to her.

She thought for second. "Yeah, if I have to."

He stood up. Ginny followed this spontaneous movement with her eyes and frowned when he took her cup out of her hands and left it on the table in front of her. He offered a hand. "You don't have to sleep when you're in a bed. Come on, I'll stay awake with you," he said.

She shook her head. If she went upstairs, she would fall asleep. She knew it and she couldn't handle the thought. "I'm too tired to stand. I'll just stay here."

He narrowed his eyes at her. "Right then," he said and took his hand away.

Ginny smiled at him but had to suppress a scream when he suddenly scooped her up and started walking toward the stairs. "Draco, I don't want to go upstairs."

"Why?"

"I don't want to fall asleep."

He stopped on the top step. "Why? What's wrong with falling asleep?" he said as if her statement was the most irrational thing he had ever heard.

"I'll miss this too much. I don't want the day to end. I don't want to forget it all."

He put her down but didn't let her go. He was a little surprised when he felt her sobbing against him. "Ginny, it's okay, you won't forget anything, I promise." He held her head in his hands and kissed her. She kept her eyes closed when he pulled away but opened them when he said. "You believe me, right?"

She knew he was lying, even though he thought he was telling the truth but she nodded anyway wanting to rid the feeling in her gut. She wanted the sense of security. She wanted to hear that it would all be okay. "Yeah, I do," she said and responded instantly when he kissed her again.

The way he was holding her, she felt so calm and warm and… safe losing herself in his arms once more. She knew she wouldn't feel that again. She returned every inch of feeling he gave to her. She pressed closer to him and he felt the necklace he had given her for Christmas under her shirt. His arms wrapped around her waist tightly and he used his grip to pick her up. Ginny wrapped her legs around his waist and continued to kiss him as he walked to their bedroom. He laid her down on their bed and ran a hand through her hair. He could feel her shiver under his touch.

She watched him recording every movement of his face, every reaction of his body against hers. Her head went back on a pillow as he kissed his way down her neck undoing the tie to her robe and reached for the hem of her slip. She moaned quietly as it was raised to her waist with precision and above her head expertly then tossed to one side. Her legs wrapped around his waist as his mouth found hers again. She held on to his body feeling every movement he made with her and felt his hot breath on her neck. With each pulse, she met him matching his rhythm and looked up at him taking in the flush that covered most of his body.

She lay next to him now staring at him staring at her. She could only see the faint outline of his eyes when they blinked but she knew he hadn't taken his eyes off her. She smiled sadly with only the fact that soon she would not be there running through her mind. When she heard him yawn she closed her eyes welcoming the inevitable when he suddenly moved closer to her and she tucked her head under his chin. She felt his fingers running up and down her back and closed her eyes at the contact.

"Don't fall asleep," he said. "You don't want to forget anything."

Ginny, not being able to hold it in anymore began to cry but kept her voice reasonably well. "No, I'll never fall asleep," she said. "I'm just resting my eyes a little." She sniffed.

He opened his eyes at that and saw her outline in the dark but couldn't see her tears. He smiled running a hand through her hair to get it off her face. He felt the coolness of the air when it hit his hand now wet with tears but he decided not to push her. He closed his eyes sleepily and continued to stroke his fingers up and down her back. "Don't forget me," he whispered.

The steady rise and fall of his chest under her head soothed her and she closed her eyes hearing the thudding beat of his heart. His heart that belonged to her. Her face then screwed up as she cried but she couldn't let him know she was crying.

"Never," she said softly.

Saturday December 26th 2009

When she awoke, she knew instantly that she had eventually fallen asleep and that it was over. She didn't want to open her eyes. She knew that if she did there would be no home in the outskirts of London. There would be no smiles to say good morning to, be they Draco's or Cadence's or Sebastian's. She squeezed her eyes tighter feeling the burn of hot tears running down the sides of her face to her ears. Her lips were trembling as she opened her eyes to the sunlight in her own bedroom.

Her own bedroom. She sobbed loudly and covered her eyes turning on her side to cry into her pillow. Gone. It was all gone. No more house, no more family.

No more happiness. It was all gone.

She spent a good while lying there and crying, just getting it all off her chest before she heard a noise. She turned over and sniffed and realised it was the door bell. She pushed back the covers and crawled out of the bed wiping her eyes. She walked to the front door and opened it. It was Harry and Hermione.

"Ginny, I've been trying to see you all week. You won't return my owls or anything."

Ginny hadn't heard a word he had said. She just smiled at him and turned away leaving the door open. "Hey, Harry." She walked into the living room and sat down on one of the chairs bringing a cushion in front of her and rested her chin on it.

They both came in and sat down. Hermione was the first to talk. "Ginny, we can explain if you give us the chance. You've been gone all week no one has seen you. We thought you had run off somewhere, Molly's having fits trying to figure out where you could have gone.

She frowned at them trying to understand what they were going on about. "What do you mean?" she asked genuinely confused.

"Ginny, where have you been?" Harry asked her.

She sat back and sighed. "Heaven. I've been in heaven."

"What?"

She looked at them with a genuine smile that caught them by surprise. It's not everyday that you piss off the youngest Weasley and get away with it. They patiently waited for her to burst but she never did. She just kept watching them with a warm and knowing smile. She remembered seeing them at the Burrow the day before, but that life was gone, and this was yet another reminder of it all. "You make a very cute couple. Has anyone ever told you that?" she said surveying them sitting together.

Shocked was a mild way of putting their reaction. They sat in silence just watching her. "Ginny," Harry said finally breaking the silence. "Are-."

"Am I alright? Yes I'm perfect. A little sad perhaps but I'll be okay. If you don't mind though, I'd like to be on my own for a bit, would you excuse me?" She stood up and waited for them to get the hint. They got it in her alternate life, apparently it branched here too because they rose almost immediately and made for the door.

"So, you're okay then, with this I mean." Hermione looked at her hopefully.

Ginny's smile grew. "I'm happy for you, Hermione. Take care of yourselves." She shut the door behind them and made her way back to her bed. She wasn't at all fit to welcome anyone but she had surprised even herself when she had been so calm. She had remembered to breathe, just as Draco and Janos had always been reminding her to do. It was easy from there, especially when she realised that after a week of seeing them together and happy, she couldn't see them as anything else but close friends.

As soon as her head hit the pillow, the door bell rang again. She sighed heavily and walked back to the front door.

"Hermione I swear I'm ecstatic for you-." She stared out the front door to see Janos Elliot watching her with a sparkling glint in his eye.

"Well nice to know it but it doesn't help your mood does it? Nice to see you've finally learned to breathe in confrontations." Her smile didn't keep this time, she broke down.

She held her head in her hands and leaned against the frame before feeling a hug come her way. She welcomed it and cried on his shoulder as he shut the door.

"What's wrong?"

"My whole life has changed." He smiled at the familiar words.

"For better or worse?"

"I-."

"Never mind, it doesn't matter. You fell in love didn't you?" She nodded on his shoulder and grabbed handfuls of his coat in her hands. It was cold from outside and a little wet from the snow, just like Draco's after he came home from work. She started up again. "Like you said you wouldn't. You fell in love with what could have been."

"Can't you do anything?" she said sobbing.

"Anything like what?"

"Why can't you send me back?" she pleaded.

"I just can't. The only thing you can do to help yourself is to accept that things have changed and try to adapt. Neither of us can do anything until you do. If you want me to help I can, I can help you adapt, it's what I'm here for but I can't do anything until you go to the next step first."

"Do you have family, Janos?" she asked.

He shook his head. "Not anymore."

"So you don't get Christmas presents or anything?" she said almost incredulous looking up at him.

He lifted one corner of his mouth. "No, I'd be too busy to open them anyway."

"Do you want anything?" He shook his head. Ginny sighed and returned to her predicament. "I should have chosen him. Now there's nothing. I have nothing."

He shook his head. "How do you have nothing?"

She gestured toward the door. "Harry's gone with Hermione; I don't even have a dysfunctional relationship. I have no husband anymore, I have no children. I have no perfect life. I have no happiness. I made the wrong choice and I can't ever go back."

"Who says?" She pulled away from him and looked him in the eye. He smiled knowingly.

---

She walked into the familiar lobby of the Hotel in Wizarding London. The Christmas decorations spilled every inch of the room and the doorways. She smiled in awe despite her mood and followed Janos towards the desk. Ginny stood and smiled at the receptionist who only looked at her with that forced smile she knew she was only sporting because it was liable she'd get fired if she didn't. Ginny almost laughed at it.

"Good Morning, welcome to The Precedence Hotel, how can I help you?" she smiled broadly.

"Good Morning Grace, is Mr. Malfoy in?"

"Mr. Malfoy?" Ginny froze, he did work here right? Even if she hadn't chosen him he must work here, this had nothing to do with her. She turned to Janos who just shrugged which didn't do much to help at all.

"Yes?" she tried in a less than confident tone this time.

"Is there something wrong?" Grace asked. "Is the service not to your liking?"

"Yes, everything is fine."

"Well is there any other reason to why you'd want to speak to the owner?" Ginny sighed in relief at her words. He did work here after all. She moved aside when Janos came to the desk in front of her.

"Is there any reason why you are preventing us from our right to speak to the manager?" he said.

Grace surveyed him and gave up eventually knowing that she had no reason to ask. "Very well. But please, do not blow up the door. He had a hard time finding a replacement." She raised her wand.

Ginny pulled down Grace's hand just as she was about to say the incantation. "No!" Ginny cried quickly before she could say anything. She ignored the stares of the passers-by.

The woman frowned. "I beg your pardon?"

Ginny blanched. Somehow, from the reaction she was getting, she realized that this was an all magic hotel. Which would make sense really, as Draco wouldn't touch a muggle without the proper encouragement. "No, I want to go to his office," she said recovering.

"You cannot go to his office, Madam."

"And why not? I happen to know that any client or employee has a reserved right to enforce a meeting with the owner at any time."

"Yes, Ma'am, but that is only if you have a complaint."

Ginny thought hard. "Well… I have a complaint."

Grace looked at her. "You do?"

Janos looked at her. "You do?" he asked.

Ginny looked at both of them. "Yes, I do. But I am not going to tell you as it does not concern you. I want to speak to the owner."

Grace sighed heavily and looked at the line behind Ginny and Janos. "Very well. Rory!" she called and a bellboy popped out of nowhere. Ginny still hadn't gotten used to that yet.

"Whatup!" he said happily.

"Take these customers to the owner's office. They have a complaint that they wish to disclose only to him," she drawled. She shooed them out of the way with her pencil and looked around them. "Next please." Ginny watched her reinforce her smile and almost laughed. "Good Morning and welcome to The Precedence Hotel, how may I help you today?" Ginny shook her head as she was led away.

She smiled when she didn't see the door she had chosen four days ago but the black, chauvinistic and sexist, big masculine-soaked door he would have chosen if she hadn't been there. Rory knocked on the door curtly and waited for the invitation. There was none. He frowned and knocked again before cautiously opening the door. There was nobody there.

"Oh, well erm… As you can see he's not here. You may want to try a later time today?" he said courteously whilst ushering them both back into the main lobby.

Ginny relented and made her way back to the lobby without a word. As she reached there she noticed how it had become packed with a lot of customers. She imagined the stress he must have been going through with all these wizards and witches to go through. Her head snapped up.

"Stress," she said quietly looking around.

"What?" Janos asked from her side.

"Stress, he goes upstairs when he's stressed. To the roof, it calms him down." She looked around for an elevator. There was none. They were in Wizarding London, he hadn't branched into muggle territory because she hadn't been there to influence it. She smiled when she realised just how much impact she would have had. "How do I get to the roof?"

Janos felt lost for words. "Erm… I don't know apparate?"

She shook her head. "No, I can't, I'm a customer."

"Oh, well erm…" He thought for a while. Then he looked at her and clicked his fingers. "Fly!" he said.

"What?"

"Fly. You have a broom right, or you can just use your wand, Wingardium Leviosa is all you'll need."

She crossed her arms. "You have got to be joking."

Janos shrugged. "It's your only option if you want to get him alone."

---

Ginny nodded resolutely. "I'm ready." As she took out her wand he held back her arm.

Janos looked up to the roof which seemed miles away. He then glanced at Ginny and bit his lip. He had never gone this far to help others like he was with her. He had to be sure he was doing the right thing. "This is your last chance to think about this," he said.

Ginny frowned. "Think about what?" she said as she envisioned herself flying Merlin only knew how many feet into the air.

He looked around as if he were trying to avoid the response. "I'm just saying. Eight years is a long time, Ginevra."

She looked to the ground and then craned her head up to see the roof from the back of the building. No, she had to do this. "I just need to see him, even if he won't forgive me for it."

He sighed. "That's not what I'm saying, Ginevra." She looked at him. "Like I said, eight years is a long time and a person like him is never alone for long." He stared at her waiting for a response.

Ginny didn't know what to say. She had never thought about it that way. Of course a person like him would have somebody by now. She couldn't have expected him to wait for her. That was both physically and mentally impossible for him. She looked up once again and sighed. Even with all those new thoughts plaguing her mind she had made up her mind.

She had to know.

"I don't care," she said still looking up. When she looked down again and at Janos he was stunned at the resoluteness of her stare. "I have to find out. I won't know unless I do."

He broke out into a grin. "I had hoped you'd say that," he said and watched as she performed the levitation charm on herself. As she soared past the windows on the east side of the hotel, he watched her with a smile on his face. He knew she was special from the beginning.

"Stage five," he said laughing.

---

She knew he would be on the west side, to watch the sun set. It was his favourite time of day. As she landed, she got her grounding and stood still for a minute to rid her of the giddiness she had when her feet hit the ground. She looked around before seeing him standing to the very edge of the building. She still thought he was crazy to do that.

She made sure to make at least a little noise so that, if he didn't know she was there, he would at least get a heads up and won't be too startled to jump and begin a twenty story fall. The gravel on the roof crunched heavily as she trod on them hard. She caught his slight flinch in her direction and knew that he was aware of her presence. She stopped about a metre or so away from him and waited for him to speak. She had to gather what she wanted to say. He, after all, was the one she didn't choose in the beginning and it was not very likely that he would have forgiven her after all this.

He wasn't Harry.

"Is there something wrong downstairs?" he said over his shoulder.

"Yes your lobby is way too small to fit every member of the Wizarding society in it." She crossed her arms to get rid of the snow.

He turned around at the voice that he didn't recognize. When he set his eyes on her he frowned wondering what a client was doing on the roof of the hotel and how on earth they had gotten there. He looked around to see if any of his employees were there.

"There's no one else here, I wanted us to be alone."

"Do I know you? How did you know to find me here?"

"This is where you come when you get stressed. The one place that no one would think to look for you, you also love the sunset and the perfect picture it paints on a canvas sky. This is the perfect place to view perfection isn't it?"

He looked at her in mild shock that she could know all these intimate details of his thoughts. "How did you know that?" he said in a bare whisper.

She walked closer to him with her arms still crossed and stood so they were millimetres apart. "There are a lot of things I know about you, Draco." She stepped even closer to him and dropped her arms to her side. "I know that you love toast with a passion bordering on fetish, I know that you would eat something you don't like just because it's right there and very inviting. I know you have a weak spot for children even though you rave with a fiery passion that you can't stand them. I know that when I look at you I can fall in love with you ten times over just by seeing the way you look at me." She looked down. "And even though I don't know whether or not you want me or if you've thought about me at all over the past twelve years. I want you to know that I have thought about you almost everyday since that morning on the train and that I regret ever having let you go."

Draco watched her backtracking through his mind. His eyes then became clear and his forehead smoothed as he looked up at her. "Ginny?"

She nodded. "Yes, it's me." She took a step toward him. "Would you like to go for something to drink? I know this great café around the corner."

---

Janos sat in the lobby of the hotel and watched with a smile as Ginny walked through it followed by Draco. He narrowed his eyes at them wondering where they could be going. "Well, one way to find out." He stood up and walked slowly after them and saw them go turn right as they left through the doors. "Well, at least he wasn't throwing her out personally," he said to himself. He saw them turn yet another corner and he instantly knew they were heading to Diagon Alley. He decided to let them go and turned back heading toward a pub of his own.

He entered the familiar bar and sat down waiting for his friend to serve him.

"Back to prey on more innocent people are we?" he heard from his side. He turned to see his friend and smiled.

"Not behind the bar tonight, William?" William nodded.

"Yes, but one of my waitresses called in sick." He sat down next to him as there was no one else calling for him at the moment. "What brings you here tonight, no one else to 'help?'" he said with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh yes, yes I do have people to help but none of them need me right now. I brought back three of them today but none of them have been giving me as much trouble as this last one."

"Oh? Who's that then?"

"You should remember her, red hair, was in here a week ago. Brown suede jacket."

William thought with a frown for a while. "Oh!" he said with audible enthusiasm. "The one with the multiple moods? Yeah, I remember her. How's it going then? You found her I see."

"Oh yeah, I found her. In a grocery store, no less. She had kids and everything, William." He sighed as William got up to go back behind the bar. He smiled in gratitude when he was a handed a drink. "She was so much happier than I have ever seen anyone before. She even found a way to stay."

William stopped. "Really?" he said with valid curiosity. "Never heard of that before."

"That's because it's never happened before."

"So, she really wanted to stay?"

"Yes, I suppose she did. You know she asked me if I wanted anything for Christmas."

He raised his eyebrows in a, 'well…' sort of way. "Well…" he said eventually. "What does your rule book say about this?"

"I don't know." He sat in silence for a while. "I didn't ask for this you know. I would give it all up in a heartbeat if I could but I can't. It's a damn curse, I know it. They say it's all good and that I'll get use to it but you can't. There is just so much pain. It's a wonder I'm still normal." He was well aware of the smile and stare of his friend and he added, "Well as normal as I can be anyway." William nodded satisfied with this correction and leaned over the bar to listen to the rest of his rambling. Janos sighed. "I've just –," he began again. "I've never seen someone so in love with… with happiness. It was a rude awakening."

"Hmm." He took a towel and wiped down the counter from the countless circular puddles of water and alcohol. "So…" he trailed.

Janos watched him. "Yeah, so."

---

"You look different to when I last saw you, though," Draco said as he opened the door to the café for them to leave.

Ginny tightened her coat around her as she walked out into the streets of London. She didn't now she could blush in such cold weather but apparently she could, especially when she remembered the last time she had seen him. Luckily, the red on her cheeks was seen as a product of the cold weather so she thanked her lucky stars. "You do too," she said truthfully. "In a good way, that is," she added.

He laughed. She loved his laugh. "Well I'd hope so. Hate to think after so many years I look terrible." He continued to smile. They walked down Diagon Alley in silence and passed through the leaky cauldron to the lamp lit streets of London outside. Ginny turned to him and smiled. "It was nice to see you again, Draco."

He nodded. "Pleasure was mine."

They stood now in an embarrassing silence. Ginny shivered to the cold and looked around in an attempt to escape it. Draco just watched her. "You never did answer my question."

Ginny looked at him. "What question was that?" she said knowing full well what he was talking about. The topic had bridged on her relationships after she had blissfully found out he was, miraculously, single and she had told him that she had just gotten out of a bad relationship. He had then asked her who it was and she had expertly changed the subject.

"If you had the chance, would you go back and change it?" he said quite softly.

Ginny frowned slightly. When had he asked her that? No wonder she hadn't answered it, she never even heard it. She looked at him and remembered every moment of the past week. She remembered the Christmas dinner, the hotel and the last sunset and even the fact that her mum seemed to like him more than she liked anyone else. One thing she couldn't shake, however, was when she was relentlessly staring at him in the café and couldn't hold back the emotions she had felt when all she could see was her children.

"In a heartbeat," she said and began walking down the street to find a good alleyway for her to apparate from.

She reached home and turned on the light to her entrance hall as she dropped her keys on the table she came in contact with. She sniffed as she took off her jacket putting it on the coat hanger she had standing in a corner. She walked straight to her kitchen and immediately fired a spell to heat the kettle. She then sat down on a chair to her kitchen table and let her head fall against it. She winced momentarily before the doorbell rang and her head shot up to look at the front door over the divider of cupboards that made her entrance hall. She looked at her clock and hoped it wasn't Harry or Hermione or any other member of her family.

Only when she reached the door did she remember Janos. She supposed she could handle him right now if he had decided to stop by. When she opened the door however, her face stared blankly, mainly out of shock.

It was Draco.

"Hey," he said.

Ginny didn't say anything, she only broke out of her stance when she heard the kettle boil. She put up a finger stuttering out, "S – stay right – just stay right there." She ran around the cupboards to the stove and switched it off with a quick spell and then came back around to see Draco still there.

So, I didn't imagine it then?

"Can I come in?" he asked her.

"How – did you find me?" she said not registering his question.

"I erm, I followed you to the alleyway you apparated from. You were already gone though but there was this – this guy, I didn't know his name but he gave me this address. So here I am. So… can I come in?"

"Oh my god – yes, of course you can," she said in a slight hysterical laughter. "Please, come in." He walked in and she closed the door behind him. "You can sit down – if – if you want to, I don't mind," she said nervously.

He smiled and took off his jacket before sitting down. She walked behind him to sit down in the armchair opposite. Then she shared probably the most awkward moment of her life with him as they both just sat in silence with nothing to say. She then let her eyes wander to the kitchen. "Oh," she said, "do you want something to dri-."

"Yes, yes I would," he said quickly glad for the awkward moment to pass.

Ginny got up and made a break for the kitchen cursing under her breath for feeling so embarrassed when she had just spent a week married to him – the other him. She spent a few minutes stirring hot cups of chocolate before carrying them back over to the chairs.

"So," she said.

He sat forward on the sofa. "Yeah, I – I wanted to say something to you."

Her eyes opened in surprise. "Oh? Okay then." She sat forward too ready to hear it.

"When you left just now outside the cauldron, I got this feeling. I don't know what it was but the look you gave me made me not able to forget it. I stood there for a while watching you walk away. The look in your eyes, like you could see right through me, like – I don't know how to explain it, like you knew me even though I haven't seen you in twelve years. It took me by surprise but it felt so familiar, like we've been close recently since then." He looked genuinely confused.

Ginny smiled to herself. You have no idea.

He looked up at her. "See? Like that. You looked at me like that, like you knew something I didn't. But instead of feeling really strange it seems like something I'm just use to." He watched her. "Why is that?"

Ginny shrugged. "I don't know."

He sat back and they drank in silence. The evening drew on and the cups emptied. Ginny often wondered during this time if they were going for a record of spontaneous and lengthy silences but found out soon that she would rather him just be there in front of her. It gave her hope. A hope she had abandoned last night. She blushed slightly thinking about it and looked away from him when he suddenly looked up as if he could hear her thoughts. It was strange thinking those things when he had absolutely no idea that they had occurred. It was as if she had obliviated him and the situation just stood in the room like a naked man that everyone saw but decided to ignore.

"What?" he said.

She shook her head and stood up to put her cup in the kitchen. She stopped by him to take his and continued on her way. It was only when she had turned back did she notice that he had followed her in. She stopped at the counter and just looked at him. She was instantly reminded of her days in her other life. Stuck in the kitchen with no answers and no explanations.

"I think it's time for me to go."

"Oh," she said softly. "Okay, well I'll erm – I'll see you out then."

He nodded and grabbed his coat as she opened the front door to the stairs. He stopped in the doorway and looked down at her. "Thank you for the drink and the talk, Ginny."

She smiled. "Yeah, anytime."

He leaned down to kiss her cheek but from past experiences Ginny suddenly turned her head and caught his mouth with her own. They paused for a moment, eyes open and staring before she continued kissing him and he dropped his coat on the floor to hold her tightly. He pressed her against the back of the kitchen cupboards kissing her intently and kicked the door shut with his leg. He tried lifting her up on the counter but the cupboard on top restricted her from any comfort. She grabbed hold of his shirt. "Bedroom, this way," she said as she led him toward it with one hand around his neck and the other hand feeling her way blindly toward the bedroom. He followed her opening the doorknob and once again using his leg to close it.

---

Outside Janos stood looking up at the light of Ginny's home. He looked to his left suddenly when he saw someone coming toward him. He leaned against a lamppost and sighed as William walked up to him.

"You asked me to meet you here?"

"Yeah."

He looked around. "Why?"

Janos looked up. "She lives here."

"Oh, so have you decided to leave her alone now?"

"Yeah. I just want to deliver a Christmas present." He took out a red envelope from his inside pocket and pushed it through the letter box. "Come on, I'll buy you a nice Christmas dinner."

"It's Boxing Day, and it's nearly eleven," William said.

"Don't worry about that, I have a feeling we can find something to feast on. This is London after all."

---

Ginny's eyes opened the next morning. She tried to move but found it hard to as there was a person holding her tightly. She could feel his fingertips running up and down her back and she smiled closing her eyes, sighing to the way he was still the same – and yet not. But he was still there. She moved closer to him, if that were possible and instantly felt him stir. She kept her eyes closed pretending she was asleep and felt him look down at her. She could sense the smile and in turn couldn't help the smile from escaping her either.

She heard him laugh. "I knew you weren't asleep."

She looked up at him and grinned. "You stayed."

He held her tighter. "I told you I would. Perhaps one day you will tell me why you were afraid to fall asleep."

Ginny then stopped smiling and frowned. She looked up at him to see his eyes closed again. When she didn't lie back down he opened them. "What? What's wrong?"

She narrowed her eyes at him in confusion. "Say that – say that again?" she said.

"I just said maybe one day you'll tell me why you didn't want to fall asleep." He looked at her in the same way she had seen him look at her so many times before and it filled her with suspicion. She sat up and looked around. Instantly her mouth dropped and she froze. That beautiful pastel blue colour filled her eyes, the wardrobe, the bathroom to the right paved with multi-shaded blue tiles. Ginny felt tears running down her cheeks.

She jumped when someone knocked on the door and her gaze snapped to the oak door of the bedroom.

"Come in," she heard Draco say.

Ginny's heart skipped when Cadence suddenly ran in followed by Sebastian walking after her with something in his hand. Her hand went to her mouth in a choked sob as the girl approached her father.

"Why is mum crying, dad?" the girl hesitantly asked.

"One day, I will find that out too," Draco said as he watched his wife.

Cadence walked to her mother's side of the bed following Sebastian who was handing something to her. Ginny looked down at it. It was an envelope. A red envelope addressed to her.

Ginny sniffed and looked at it. It just said, Ginny, no address or anything.

"Erm, why don't we leave you alone? Come on you lot, outside." Draco picked up his son and ushered out his daughter and Ginny watched them in silence. When the door clicked shut she opened the envelope, wiping at her face.

She took out the piece of parchment inside and read it through.

Ginny,

Welcome to stage number six. Nobody has ever reached this far. This is where I use my own judgement to see if you deserve your happiness. Not many people do, nor do they want it enough to go after it again instead of just accepting it's all over.

You asked me if I ever wanted anything for Christmas. The only thing I have ever wanted since I first experienced my, 'gifts,' was to find someone worthy enough. You are that person. So as you have given me this gift. I shall give you yours.

Behold Ginevra Malfoy, your family and your happiness,

Merry Christmas, Ginny, and many more to come.

Janos Elliot

The page burst into flames and the door opened slightly. Ginny leaned to the side to see Cadence's head pop around the corner. Sebastian followed her into the room and they waited for the okay to rush to the bed like they always did. Ginny's sob came out as half a laugh and she opened her arms. They ran to it, jumped up and toppled onto her knocking her backwards. The pain in her side when they collided into her made her come into reality.

She was really there.

The door opened once more and Draco this time came in watching the display before him. He crossed his arms and smiled before crossing the room and sitting next to them all. "Is everything alright now?"

She looked at him with red eyes and grinned. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him before just holding him.

"Yes," she said. "Everything is right as rain."

THE END