Right. So I've been working on this, I promise, really I have. But the words just weren't coming, and when I'm blocked like that, I can't force it, I kind of just have to let it sit and mull and – well, and then before I've noticed it's become six months since my last update.
But then today was hectically busy and I was scampering all over the city running errands…and then it started to snow. I don't know if I can begin to describe how much I love snow; everything I'd say would be a cliché but snow is just so wonderful. And it makes me think. And today, walking home in the snow, following the dozen of footprints littered over the sidewalk, watching the way the flakes managed to catch what light there was even when the moon was hidden behind a fleet of clouds – well, I thought of Notes on Falling Out of Love.
So here it is: the next chapter, long overdue. You have my sincerest of apologies. Enjoy!
She gave in.
She decided she should stop being immature about the whole situation – decided to step up, overcome the fear, be a grownup about it. She was a Weasley, and Weasleys don't back down. In fact, she was Ginny Weasley, someone who had held conversations with Voldemort her first year at Hogwarts, who had broken into the Ministry of Magic, who had battled Death Eaters before her sixteenth birthday, who had fought and worked and clawed her way onto one the league's top Quidditch teams – who had managed to survive growing up with all six of her brothers, for Merlin's sake. She could do this. She had to do this. And she would not be scared by the likes of telling Draco Malfoy that she loved him because she was strong. She was fearless. She was awesome.
Unfortunately, all the awesome in the world couldn't keep her hands from shaking as she stood inside the lift at the Ministry of Magic, watching the gold metal doors slide open before her.
"Level two, Department of Magical Law Enforcement, including the Improper Use of Magic Office, Auror Headquarters –"
Ginny skipped out into the corridor, leaving behind the lift and its creepy, disembodied voice. She blinked, her eyebrows furrowing as she stared down the long hallway lined with doors. How was she supposed to find him?
She looked carefully to her right and then her left. No one. The floor seemed to be completely deserted. Where is everybody?
Deciding there was no other way, Ginny began to walk slowly down the corridor, peeking into the offices that had their doors ajar, hoping to see the flash of white-blond hair that always seemed to precede Draco's arrival. Unfortunately, she quickly ran into a door that was shut tight. Taking a quick glance around, checking to make sure she was alone, Ginny rose to the tips of her toes and craned her neck towards the small glass window sitting over the door frame, straining to make out who was residing inside the office. When she discovered that she was in fact still too short, Ginny unconsciously began to hop up and down, just a little, looking not unlike as if she were mimicking a child on a pogo stick.
"Excuse me, miss?"
Ginny froze, feeling her face heat up, and she slowly turned around to face the severe-faced woman standing behind her. "Y – Yes?"
The woman crossed her arms. "Are you looking for someone?"
"I wasn't – well, I mean, I was but – um, Draco Malfoy?"
"His office appears on our directory by the lift," the woman said slowly, jabbing her finger in the direction of the long list of names and numbers tacked to the wall that Ginny had somehow managed to miss. Her heel drummed impatiently against the floor. "Although, I believe he is a meeting at the moment."
"May I ask where?"
Lifting up her spectacles, the woman peered at Ginny, silently considering her with dark and piercing eyes. Ginny was reminded most strongly of McGonagall.
"Down at the hall, behind the double doors," said the woman, after what seemed like an eternity.
"Thank you!" Ginny said as calmly as she could, before heading down the hallway at a near-sprint.
She could hear the blood pounding in her ears. Ginny wasn't exactly sure why she was running down the hallway. As a matter of fact, she wasn't even sure why she felt compelled to tell Draco right now, right at this precise moment. Ambushing him at the office probably wasn't the wisest or the most tactful way to go about doing this, Ginny realized in the dwindling rational portion of her brain. And yet – she couldn't stop. She couldn't even slow down.
Somehow, Ginny knew that if she didn't do this now, she wouldn't be able to do it at all, ever.
Upon reaching the end of the hallway, Ginny pulled herself to a halt, breathing heavily. She stared at the polished bronze doorknob for a moment, trying to work up her nerve. Her arm twitched but remained steadfastly at her side. Merlin, I am a wimp, she thought derisively – but still her arm did not move.
"Perhaps I should just go home," she murmured, but then – Ginny's mind flashed back to a couple weeks ago when she had overslept an afternoon nap and showed up late to the Weasley Sunday dinner. This memory felt particularly impatient for some reason, and the sensations returned to Ginny erratically, each one tripping over the others: the smell of lavender greeting her as she appeared at the front gate, the twinge of annoyance she felt upon reaching an empty kitchen and realizing that her brothers had eaten all of the food, the lulling hum of after-dinner conversation floating through the rear door from the garden. Ginny remembered drifting back out into the fading sunshine, nearly falling over Teddy as he dashed past, her attention focused beneath the alder tree at the edge of the woods where most of the adults were gathered.
It was a large group sitting on the grass that warm summer evening, mostly redheaded men acting like the mischievous bunch of boys they were at heart, but one blond among them seemed to sense her approach and looked up, grinning as she skirted through the scampering children, making her way towards him. He caught her eye and Ginny remembered how her heart had leapt, how the smile had spread across her face as if by instinct – and suddenly she knew she couldn't leave, couldn't run away without at least trying to tell him how she felt because how could she ever survive the rest of her life if he smiled like that every time he saw her and she couldn't say anything at all, if she just had to keep this chaos, this riot of feeling inside forever?
No, that would cause her infinitely more agony than whatever torture she was going through right now. As for the loss of dignity, the ever-present possibility of rejection, the knowledge that this would forever change whatever it was that the two of them shared – well, Ginny had already come to terms with the fact that nothing would ever be the same again.
Right. You can do this. Steady, Gin.
She pulled open the doors. Thirty pairs of eyes swiveled towards her.
"Hem memph uh," Ginny sputtered intelligently.
Harry – who had clearly been leading the meeting, as he was standing at the front of the room, arms raised in mid-gesture, looking for all the world like an awkwardly angled bird about to take flight – cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Is there something we can help you –"
"Ginny?" Ron interrupted, half rising out of his seat. "Is something wrong? Are you alright?"
"Yes," Ginny squeaked. She swallowed and tried again. "Yes," she repeated at a hopefully more-normal pitch, "I'm fine, I was just wondering, er, if I could speak with Mr. Malfoy for a moment?"
Something that sounded suspiciously like a laugh-turned-hastily-into-a-cough sounded off to her right and Ginny turned to find one Draco Malfoy languishing against the back wall, an amused smirk gracing his features. Harry – who had finally realized that his arms were still in mid-flap – dropped his hands to his sides and gave Draco a curt nod. "Don't be too long," he mumbled before lowering his gaze to his notes and shuffling through them loudly.
Ginny watched as Draco slowly found his way to his feet and quite literally sauntered across the large room, clearly doing all he could to prolong the interruption and irritate Harry – someone who also happened to be his superior, Ginny noted wryly. Upon finally reaching where she was fidgeting nervously by the door, Draco took her hand, pulled her into the hallway and let the door fall shut behind them with a decisive click.
"Well?" he asked curiously, all the smug arrogance gone now that it was just the two of them.
Ginny looked up at those limpid grey eyes and felt her stomach drop to somewhere around her knees. Bugger. She really should have thought ahead, prepared something in advance. The only time she was ever good at thinking on her feet was in Quidditch, and even that came with exceptions. Quick, Ginny, just say something. Anything. It's only Draco. You've done this a million times before.
"Hem memph uh," Ginny stammered for the second time in less than five minutes.
Draco burst into laughter. "What's the matter with you today, Gin? Do you realize that this the first time I've seen you speechless since, well, ever?"
Her heart was pounding in her ears. Her face was sweating. Her palms were sweating. Her back was sweating. Merlin, she was going to melt into one quivering, cowardly puddle of sweat. She glanced downwards, where Draco still clasped her clammy hand in his. When did I become so spineless?
"Ginny?" Now Draco was starting to look worried. Her peered into her wide eyes, brow furrowed. "Are you alright? What's wrong? Why did you need to speak with me?"
Oh, right, Ginny thought faintly, staring into Draco's eyes, I became spineless when he began to look at me like that.
Swallowing hard, she willed herself to say something that made at least a little sense. "Oh no, I'm fine, don't worry about me, I just came down here to say – er, to tell you – I mean, I just wanted to see how you were doing, except I couldn't find you because the hallway was quite long, you see, and there was a directory but of course I missed it somehow and then I got caught hopping up and down like an idiot by this woman who I swear could be McGonagall's twin – she had the make-you-cower-like-a-puppy-who-just-wet-the-carpet glare down, at least – but she told me where to find you and so I did and you were in that meeting and well, you know what happened next, you were there so, uh – so, how are you?"
Draco quirked an eyebrow.
"Right," said Ginny, flushing. She looked around wildly. "Is there a butter dish around here, by any chance? Because I think sticking my elbow in it would be less humiliating than this."
He chuckled. "Not that anyone would ever refer to you as sane, Weasley, but you're acting especially off-the-rocker today, even for you." He tugged her closer. "Are you sure you're alright?"
"I'm fine." Ginny could feel the panic rising within her and she fought against it, trying to appear composed. "For the most part, at least." The two of them were so close; he must be able to hear her heart hammering against her ribcage.
Silence engulfed them. He was still holding her hand, waiting for her to say something – after all, she was the one who came to find him at work and pulled him out of a meeting. Ginny could hear the words inside her head. She could feel them lodged at the edge of her throat, thick and heavy, throbbing. Just say it, Ginny. Say I love you. I love you. Draco Malfoy, I love you. I love you. I – I can't say it.
Ginny let out a shaky breath and felt the last of her dignity escape with it. The silence stretched on.
"Well," Draco said at long last, letting go of her hand. "Thank you, Weasley, for the scintillating conversation. It truly was worth my time. Really, I think you've really done your intelligence justice today." He paused, waiting for her biting response, but Ginny merely colored and remained silent. Merlin, what was wrong with her?
He sighed. "Look, Ginny, not that I don't love standing here in a dark corner watching you fidget – and not that I don't love having some excuse to get out of Scarhead's pointless lectures – but I really should get back in there. It is my job and all." He looked at her intently. "I am dying just a little bit from curiosity of what exactly is making you act loonier than you usually do, but I'm sure you'll tell me when you figure it out."
He turned to leave.
"Wait!" Ginny shrieked, finally finding her voice. "I – uh, Draco, I just wanted to tell you, um –" She could still feel the words, waiting, hitched in her throat.
"Yes?" Draco prompted softly when she didn't continue.
Ginny chewed the inside of her cheek nervously. "I just wanted to tell you that – that, uh –" Come on, Ginny, "– that I like your hair," she finished lamely. Her heart sank.
She couldn't do it.
"You like my hair," Draco slowly repeated. She nodded mutely. "But I was under the impression that you hated it. Remember last week? When you told me that it was too long and swishy, and then you called me a girl?"
"Yes, well, I changed my mind."
"And you came down to the Ministry to inform me of this fact," he said skeptically.
"Yes," Ginny said, feeling her throat constrict. She wished she weren't such a coward.
Draco narrowed his eyes. "It's so obvious you're lying that it is pathetic I even have to take the time to point out it out." He stepped closer to her, placing a finger under her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze. "No matter. I know you, Ginny Weasley, and whatever it is that's bothering you, you'll tell me when you're ready." He paused, half-hoping she would interject with just exactly what it was that she so desperately needed to tell him, but Ginny remained silent. "I'm going to go now."
"That's fine," Ginny said quietly. "I'll see you later."
"Alright." Draco was still hesitating, lingering by the door, wondering if Ginny would suddenly blurt out whatever it was that she had allegedly come here to tell him. Perhaps this was just all a ploy to distract him, and inside the meeting room they were actually setting up a party to surprise him for his birthday. Except his birthday was a month ago, and there was no way Potter would allow the interruption of his precious meetings for something as trivial as a party. He frowned. In fact, with Scarhead involved, it was more likely that they were setting up an ambush for his arrest. Or murder.
"Well, I'm going back in," he said finally. "I'll see you tonight?"
"It's Friday. You know, the end of the week, when we usually get together, grab dinner, most likely get a little drunk – any of this ringing a bell?"
"Oh yeah," Ginny said distractedly, "right. Um, I'll expect you at my flat at what, seven?"
Draco nodded. "Same time as always, Weasley." He reached for the doorknob. "Well, bye."
"Bye," Ginny whispered, watching him pull back the heavy oak doors. Draco slipped through the opening – his form outlined for the briefest of moments by the bright light inside – and then the doors fell shut and Ginny was left standing alone in the long, dimly-lit corridor.
"Stupid," she growled quietly as she banged her had against the wall, "stupid stupid stupid stupid."
Merlin, she was an idiot. She was a gutless idiot. How hard is it to tell someone you love them? People did it all the time. She did it all the time – I love you, Mum; I love you, Teddy; I love you, random man who sold me a cauldron cake that one time I was really hungry. Why the hell did telling Draco have to be so complicated? Ginny frantically replayed their brief encounter, where he had been pleasant and patient and witty and nice – which almost never happened – and she had been as coherent as a flobberworm.
She groaned and began to make her dejected way back towards the lift at the other end of the hallway. "I like your hair," she muttered, "I told him that I liked his hair. I hate his hair. It does make him look like a girl. Merlin, why am I such an idiot?" She trudged onwards.
Hope swelled inside her and she spun around, thinking for the briefest of moments that it was Draco and that he had come to tell her that he was in love with her, thus saving Ginny the utter agony of having to try again later and failing. Except it wasn't Draco jogging down the hallway towards her, it was –
Ginny wasn't really sure what was happening anymore. Harry Potter was standing in front of her, panting slightly from his scramble to reach her before she left, and she didn't think the two of them had spoken directly to one another since that day two years ago when he had ended it all.
Harry straightened, awkwardly rubbing his hand against the back of his head. "Er, hi."
"Hello," Ginny answered, feeling apprehensive.
If someone had told Ginny even a week ago that she and Harry would be standing face-to-face in a deserted hallway, attempting any sort of conversation, Ginny probably wouldn't have believed them. At the very least, she would have expected herself to feel awkward and unhappy and perhaps just the smallest twinge of excitement. But she didn't feel any of that right now. At the moment, all she could think about was how unbelievably large of a moron Harry Potter was, because he had two years to talk to her – two years to breach that uncomfortable gap and hold the first real conversation since their break up – and of course he would choose to do this on the day that she realized she had feelings for Draco Malfoy, the day she could possibly lose her best friend, the day she put herself out there and attempted to tell Draco she loved him, the day she failed to do so, the day she felt like complete and utter shit. Real nice timing, Harry – thanks ever so much.
He was still twitching nervously in front of her, searching for something to say, and Ginny wouldn't have been as angry as she was if it weren't for the fact that not ten minutes ago, she was doing the exact same thing in front of Draco. Harry looked like an imbecile, and the fact that Ginny realized she must have seemed just as stupid – if not more – made her angrier than she knew she reasonably should have been.
"So I was just –" Harry began at the exact same time that Ginny blurted out "So why are you even –" They both pulled back, flushing. Ginny crossed her arms.
"I just making sure," Harry began again, "that you were alright."
She held back a snort of disbelief. "I didn't know you cared if I was alright."
"Er, I did. I mean, I do," Harry stammered. "You just kind of seemed troubled when you popped into my meeting back there –"
"That really didn't concern you."
"Oh." Harry again ran his hand through his hair. "Um, well as long as everything is fine, then –"
"I mean, even if everything wasn't fine, it's not like you would really be able to do anything about it."
Harry nodded, not knowing what else to do, and turned away to leave.
Ginny knew she was being rude. She knew that it had taken a lot for Harry to make the effort to approach her and ask her if she was fine – courage to save the world from Voldemort, he had, but courage when dealing with awkward social situations was a completely different story. She even knew that he probably would have talked to her sooner than right now, had it not been painfully obvious to him that she wasn't over their relationship. It's just that – why did he have to pick now to try and be friends again? She was disappointed in herself for not being able to tell Draco, she was stressed about what this would mean for their friendship, and now she felt guilty about being a complete bitch to someone who obviously making an effort to patch whatever it was between the two of them that needed patching. But the last thing she needed right now was Harry Potter being awkward and strange and chasing after her to ask her how things were in her life. She didn't know what she was going to do about Draco. She was angry at herself. And now she had ruined things even more with Harry – if that had even been possible – and it was all just too much and why was she such a weakling to not be able to deal with any of this and –
Ginny burst into tears.
Harry froze and turned towards to the sobbing redhead in front of him. "Er –" he said helpfully.
"I'm sorry, Harry," Ginny wailed. "I didn't mean to be so rude towards you – I wasn't really thinking about – well, I don't know what –" She wasn't able to continue, whatever words she was trying to get out were swallowed up by her huge gulping sobs.
Harry, for his part, tried his best to get Ginny to calm down. He placed a tentative hand on her shoulder – which just made Ginny cry harder due to her humiliation at having an utter meltdown in front of Harry – and so when that didn't seem to help he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and patted her awkwardly on the head.
"It's going to be alright, Ginny," he said quietly, letting her cry against his chest, "I promise that everything is going to be alright."
After what felt like hours and hours to Ginny, she finally was able to gather some control and pull back from Harry a little. She wrapped her arms around herself, taking huge, gulping breaths, too ashamed to look him in the eye. Did that really just happen?
He was standing there, arms limply at his side, watching her. Ginny knew she needed to say something. She owed some sort of explanation to her ex-boyfriend of why she had just clung to his shirt and cried like a baby. And the truth seemed as reasonable in her post-hysterical state as any, so Ginny took a deep breath and –
"I think I'm in love with Draco Malfoy."
Harry choked a little. Ginny watched amusedly for a couple seconds as his face quickly turned various shades of red. He finally regained control and managed to sputter out "You think?"
She sighed dejected. "No, I know I do. Really wish I didn't. It makes life so much more complicated than I would prefer."
Harry had mostly regained his composure, though Ginny noted that the tips of his ears were still scarlet. She saw his eyes narrow as he struggled over what to say next. Obviously something of that schoolboy rivalry still existed between the two of them, and she could tell Harry was having some trouble coming to terms with the fact that his ex-girlfriend had just proclaimed that she was in love with his old enemy.
"Er – would you, I mean, can I ask how this happened?" he finally stammered out awkwardly. He would always be a good guy, Ginny knew, and the high road was always the one Harry Potter would choose in the end.
"It's kind of a long story," she said tentatively, "and I don't want to – I mean, I'm sure you have a lot to do and no offense but this is already such an awkward situation and then the fact that this is with you just makes it so much more –"
"But Ginny," Harry interrupted, "it's not like you, well, I – alright, look. I know things haven't exactly been friendly between us," he said in a rush. "In fact, things have been pretty much unbearably awkward. I know a lot of it has been my fault and the way that I kind of just tried to pretend you weren't there but the way that you would look at me and I felt like I was just –" He cut himself off, again running a hand through his hair. "Well, that's not important. Point is, I know it's not like we're close anymore, or that we've even spoken to each other in two years but – I still know you, Ginny. We grew up together, fought a war together, and I know you. No matter how much you may have changed since we broke up."
"And the thing is," he continued, "when you walked into that meeting room together, looking the way you did – I knew something was wrong. Something important. And it's not like either of us have really acted in a way that we could be proud of – well, I haven't, at least – but if there's something I can do to help – I mean, I owe that to you."
There was something glowing determinedly in his gaze. Ginny could feel it radiating off him in rolling waves.
"It was both of us who weren't acting in a way we could be proud of," she said quietly, "I know I tried sometimes but – I mean, I could have made it easier on us. On you. Or at least I would have, if I could." She looked up, finally meeting his gaze. "You're not an easy boy to fall out of love with, Harry Potter."
He shifted uncomfortably and Ginny felt sudden panic. "Not that I'm not over you," she said quickly, "I mean, it took a while and I don't think I even noticed when it happened and I definitely don't know how it happened but, I mean," she grimaced, "now I'm in love with Draco Malfoy so –"
"Again I ask – how?"
Ginny couldn't help but laugh at the look on his face. "Honestly, I couldn't say. Or, I could, but it would take forever. If you really want to know, however –" she trailed off. Harry bobbed his head up and down emphatically.
"Right, well, I guess it all began two years ago, when we broke up…"
She told Harry everything – the first run-in at the bookstore, her drunken encounter with him that cold winter night, his visit to her flat after they frolicked together in a thunderstorm, their countless rambling conversations and their inexplicable friendship, the argument during Quidditch from a couple weeks ago, her desperate conversation with Hermione that morning, the unbearable encounter in the hallway just earlier. By the time she finished speaking, the two of them were sitting on the ground, leaning back against opposite walls. Harry gave a low whistle.
"Damn, Ginny," he said slowly, giving her a lopsided grin. "You know, I hate to sound like a girl – and I hate to say anything complimentary towards Malfoy – but, well, he sounds pretty amazing. For you, I mean, not in general. Seriously, the man couldn't turn in paperwork on time if his life depended on it. The next time I have to –"
"Dude, focus," Ginny groaned, nudging Harry with her toe. "Desperate situation, about to lose my best friend, anything you have to say that would help? Really, any suggestion will do at this point."
Harry looked at her. "Not to sound like a broken record, Ginny, but I think Hermione's right."
"I knew you would say that."
"Well, is she ever wrong?"
Ginny thought about it for a moment. "There was the thing with the spoons that one time –"
"Alright, Gin, now you need to focus."
She sighed, looking down at her hands, wishing she were braver. "I told you Harry, I tried."
"Well, try again."
"It's not that easy!"
"I didn't say it was."
Ginny could hear the lights buzzing overhead as the two of them stared each other down – her, angry; him, steady. She was startled to see this fire in Harry's eyes, a determination she had never seen before, even when they were together. She wondered at it, at why he was being so stubborn about her overcoming her fears and telling Draco that she loved him, and so she backed down first, shaking her head apologetically.
"I'm sorry, Harry, I don't mean to yell at you, I just – why is this so difficult for me? To tell Draco I love him? With you – well, alright, I know this sounds crazy, and I know we're not even close to being together anymore but – with you, everything was simple. Everything was easy and I can't help but think that we were supposed to end up together. It all just worked out so perfectly, like it was meant to be, you know, like we were meant to have that happy ending. That was what it was like with you. But now, with Draco –"
"Gin," Harry interrupted softly, "I know it was easy with us. It always had been. But you can't base your entire life off some fairy tale notion you came up with when you were thirteen, and this is what the real world is, what life is. It's hard, and it's terrifying – but if you find the courage, Ginny, and you go after the very thing that's scaring you to death – then it can be beautiful, incredible. Countless times better than whatever generic happily-ever-after we would have had."
She looked at him, wide-eyed, and wondered when in the world Harry Potter became wise.
Footsteps could be heard, somewhere down the hallway. Harry and Ginny both looked up as the double doors at the end of the hall swung open and people began to file out. They glanced at each other, and then clambered to their feet.
"Look, Ginny," said Harry as the low murmur of conversation grew louder, "I can only imagine how you must be feeling right now. Telling him, there's a million reasons not to do it. Believe me, I can give you quite a few. But if you believe Malfoy's worth it – and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think he is – then, well, what choice do you have, really?"
Ginny felt her stomach wobble. Even Harry was behind this, behind whatever "this" was that could happen between her and Malfoy.
"You're one of the fiercest, most courageous people I know, Ginny," said Harry. "I mean that. Just – you said he was going over to your flat tonight, for dinner? Just make him his favorite dinner, maybe some cookies – he stole all the ones your mum sent me last Christmas, I'm assuming he loves them – pour him a cup of wine, and, well, then just say it. I know you can do it. And everything seems a little less daunting after chocolate and alcohol."
Ginny gave him a small smile. "Thanks, Harry," she said, placing a hand on his arm, "for listening to me, and for saying what you did. It means a lot."
A bit of red moved into the corner of her sight and she looked over to see Ron heading towards the two of them. In a rare show of tact, however, he only raised an eyebrow, then kept his distance. Ginny turned back to the man in front of her.
"I better go, you have your job to get back to. Thank you, again, for everything." She moved to leave.
"Ginny, wait –"
She looked back.
Harry was standing in the middle of the hallway, a sheepish grin on his face. "So, this is incredibly last minute – actually, Cho told me weeks ago to invite you but I was too, I mean, I didn't want to –" He took a deep breath, rubbing his neck. "Our engagement party's tonight, at Hogwarts in the Great Hall. I know you have plans – declaring your true and undying love for Malfoy, and all that – but if you manage to find the time and stop by, I would really appreciate it."
Ginny's smile grew wider. "Of course, Harry," she said, "I wouldn't miss it for anything."
The rain was still lashing against her window that night, droplets hidden by the dark, but Ginny could hear the water running over the cobblestones outside. She wiped her hands on the kitchen towel, absentmindedly peering out at the streetlights pooled out beneath her window.
Everything was ready for Draco – wine chilled, chocolate-chip cookies baking in the oven, dinner covered and waiting for on her tiny breakfast table. It was ordered-by-Floo, of course – Ginny loved cooking and she wasn't bad at it, but no way was she making all that fancy crap Draco loved. It was just one part of his upbringing she couldn't change, no matter how many bread-battered fish and pumpkin pastries she convinced him to eat. Unfortunately, at this point, it was just another thing she ended up finding endearing.
Merlin, she was turning into an addle-padded idiot.
He wasn't even here yet and already Ginny felt like her chest would burst, her heart was pounding so much. She stared out at the dark, Hermione's and Harry's words running through her mind. She breathed in deeply and the memory of his eyes from earlier that day came back, sending shivers down her spine.
She could do this.
The clock chimed seven and she sat down on the couch, her back ramrod straight, looking anxiously at the door. Draco was rarely late. She poured herself a glass of wine and waited.
The clock chimed seven-thirty and Ginny had pulled out the cookies, watching the steam curl upwards from the cooling rack. Then eight o'clock rang and she had eaten half the cookies. By nine, nearly all of the fancy food had been chucked in the trash, and Ginny stood in the middle of her kitchen, hands on her hips, fuming.
Draco never showed up.
And that's where I have to end this. Sorry, everyone, but this is pushing 6,000 words and it's the longest chapter of this story by more than double the words, I have to stop it here. I cannot express how much all this asymmetry is breaking my poor little OCD heart. But there is more - next chapter will be up as soon as possible!