Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters you may recognize from the wonderful world of Harry Potter, they all belong to the revered JK Rowling; I just like to play with them a little.
Author's Notes: Written for scarlettrayne2 for the Fall 2008 dgficexchange. Huge thank you to my beta, rainpuddle13 for her patience, commentary and skill.
TRUTH WILL OUT
THE HARDEST QUESTION
He turned the small box over in his hand for the umpteenth time and swallowed the bile threatening to rise to his throat. Why had he even thought that he could go through with this? He simply didn't have the courage to place his heart on the floor before her and wait for her to either pick it up gently or crush it beneath her shoe. It wasn't that he truly believed she'd reject him, but there was a little nagging thought in the back of his mind that it was too soon for her — that she might stumble through her answer. Perhaps she was perfectly happy continuing as they had been for the past couple of months?
Their lives had changed so much since that fateful weekend eight weeks ago that neither of them were really the same person — they had become one. Rather than going out, prowling for eligible shags, they preferred a quiet drink, followed by a lovely meal, and then a peaceful night in each other's arms. Of course, those preferred evenings were dotted with family obligations on both sides that were still slightly nightmarish in quality; both parties understood that escape at the soonest possible moment was the biggest objective, no matter what the occasion.
Ginny had all but moved into Draco's flat, because they couldn't ever seem to part until morning. The only downside to this arrangement was that her family had caught on and, instead of leaving messages for her at her own flat, they often just appeared on his doorstep. It wouldn't have bothered him quite so much if they had better timing, but they didn't — at least one of them was in a state of undress whenever someone arrived, and that often led to poorly concealed frustration.
They had, for all intents and purposes, already settled down to a life that resembled marriage. Their relationship and commitment to each other was strong — neither had wandering eyes or minds — but they hadn't spoken of sealing the union officially since the first week they'd been together. It had become a taboo subject after one of her brothers overheard him telling her, yet again, that he fully intended on marrying her — Draco had blocked the Floo connection in his bedroom after that incident. After that, the Weasley brothers took it upon themselves to have another little chat with him, and this time it was less pleasant than the first time, mostly because Ginny wasn't there to save his arse at any given moment, and the information that had prompted the second chat had been gained while they'd been in bed enjoying the afterglow of mind-blowing sex — a fact that had not been lost on the eavesdropper. He had a feeling that the only thing that truly saved his skin that day was the fact that Ginny would flay them if they harmed him in any way.
The clasp of the box pressed painfully into his hand, reminding him of the purpose of this little dirty weekend away. He'd been rather proud of his planning prowess until now — now he doubted himself. Without her knowledge, Draco had managed to pack both of them up for a weekend in the Greek Islands, or more specifically the island of Ithaca. She had been surprised, to say the least, and he was positive she was pleased with the arrangements as well, given the amount of deafening squealing she'd subjected his ears to.
They'd arrived the evening before, via a private international Portkey, and had basically headed straight for the enormous bed in the master bedroom of the house he'd managed to secure for the weekend. At some point, he'd raided the kitchen for some food and wine, but otherwise they'd not left the master suite. Ginny had fallen asleep sometime around midnight, but Draco had found himself wide awake. Rather than lay there tossing and turning, he moved out to the balcony with a bottle of aged Firewhisky to keep him warm. The alcohol had done nothing to help his agitated state and hours later he was still too wired to sleep.
Draco glanced back into the room and at the sleeping woman. He had never anticipated what love would feel like, and it was probably a good thing, because his mind wouldn't have been able to imagine anything like the reality. There was no doubt in his mind that she was 'the one'. Since they'd admitted their feelings, he'd not even glanced at another woman, let alone thought about one — Ginny was the only one in existence for him.
His eyes wandered out to the Ionian Sea. It was almost black in the predawn light, and it was most definitely not inviting. He vowed to bring Ginny back here in the summer, when the island was at its best, and the sea begged you to swim in its beautiful blue waters. Perhaps they could honeymoon here? Draco caught himself before his thoughts wandered too far — he was yet to pop the big question, so making honeymoon plans was definitely not good use of his time.
Again he sifted through his thoughts trying to come up with the right words to convince her to marry him. So far, everything he'd come up with sounded pitifully cliché and he didn't want to sound like that. He wanted to think of something utterly original, something she'd never forget.
"What are you doing out here?"
Startled by the sudden invasion, Draco jumped visibly, causing Firewhisky to slop over the side of the glass he was nursing.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," Ginny said softly as her arm went around his shoulder, and she climbed into his lap.
"It's all right," Draco insisted, putting his glass on the small table beside him and wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close. "I'm fine. I was a million miles away."
"That's not where you're supposed to be," Ginny scolded lightly. "You were supposed to be in bed with me."
"I had a bit on my mind," Draco answered vaguely.
"No, it's not interesting," Draco replied casually.
"I've got a feeling I should be offended," Ginny stated. "You're out here thinking about something not interesting instead of being in bed with me."
"Okay, I fibbed," Draco admitted. "My thoughts weren't that boring."
"Maybe later," Draco hedged. "I'm too tired now."
"You don't sound tired."
"Well, I am," Draco claimed.
"Not too tired, I hope," Ginny purred.
Draco ran his hands up her back. "I suppose I could be convinced to stay awake for a little while longer."
Ginny frowned. "What was that?"
His heart leapt into his throat. He had encompassed the small jewelers box in his hand when he rubbed her back, thinking that it would be safe there. "What?"
"There's something sharp on your hand," Ginny claimed, turning around in his lap.
Draco moved his hand out of sight. It occurred to him that he should drop it behind his chair, but it would most definitely make enough noise for her to alert her.
"Draco, what's in your hand?"
"Nothing," Draco insisted. "My palm was itchy… I was trying to scratch it."
"Oh." Ginny frowned lightly.
"So are we going to sit out here, or are we going to go back to bed?"
"Look the sun is starting to come up!" Ginny pointed towards the horizon. "Look at the colors."
"I guess we're saying here then," Draco whispered.
"It's so beautiful," Ginny murmured.
"Not as beautiful as you."
"Thank you." Ginny turned so her back was against his chest and rested her head on his shoulder.
It was easy to relax in such a beautiful setting with the woman he loved in his arms. As the sky was slowly turning from deep purple to rosy pink Draco brought his arms around to encircle her. This was truly something that should only be enjoyed with the person you loved. Her hands slipped down to sit on top of his and without thinking he opened his hands to take hers into his.
Draco snatched his hand away quickly. He'd relaxed too much — forgotten what he was holding. "It's nothing."
"Draco, what do you have in your hand?"
"Noth—" He stopped when she twisted to look him in the eye. This was not how he planned, but he'd been caught holding the evidence, and he wasn't foolish enough to believe that he'd get away with further denials. "All right. I had an ulterior motive for bringing you here this weekend."
A small smile began to play around Ginny's lips. "Do tell."
He took a deep breath and expelled the air slowly. This was it. He was going to have to do it now whether or not he was truly ready to make it memorable. The hand holding the small box drifted up to sit in front of her. "You see … I brought you here to ask you to be my wife."
Ginny gasped quietly.
"I wanted to make it really memorable," Draco continued. "I've been out here for hours trying to think of how and where to pop the question."
"And did you think of anything?"
"Not a thing," Draco admitted disappointedly. "I just wanted it to be really special for you."
A soft smile graced her face as she brought a hand up to stroke his cheek. "Draco, look around you. We're somewhere in the Greek Islands and the sun is rising over the sea. Have you ever seen a more beautiful sight?"
"We're on the island of Ithaca, and it's the Ionian Sea," Draco clarified.
"Whatever it is, it's beautiful."
"I just want to make sure you know where you are should you get lost," Draco explained.
"And right now you're changing the subject," Ginny stated as she lifted herself off his lap.
"Where are you going?" Draco asked as she began to move away.
"Ginny, wait." Draco jumped to his feet in a panic. It was now or never. He dropped to one knee and waited for her to turn. "Please?"
She slowly turned on the spot. Her eyes, which were almost blank to begin with, began to sparkle and color rose in her cheeks. It was agonizing waiting for her to step closer, but she was eventually standing within arms reach.
Draco looked at the box in his hand, unfastened the clasp to display the elaborate engagement ring inside, took a deep breath and let his heart do the talking. "Ginevra Weasley, these past two months have been the happiest I've ever been. I never dreamed I'd discover the powerful force that is true love. I believe you are my true soul mate and without you my life is meaningless. Will you marry me?"
The silence lasted no more than a second or two, but to Draco it felt like a lifetime. His heart was pounding so hard that he feared he might not be able to hear her answer, and then he feared he might if it were not the answer he was looking for. What had seemed like a solid strategic plan when they left England had now become a murky pit of uncertainty. He could do nothing but hope she would consent now that the words had fallen from his mouth.
"Yes," Ginny whispered.
"Did you say yes?" Draco queried from his kneeling position.
"Of course I did!"
In one movement, Draco was on his feet and had captured his bride-to-be in his arms. The burden of insecurity lifted quickly, allowing his heart to soar. "I love you so much."
"I love you too," Ginny muttered emotionally. "I was afraid you wouldn't—"
He didn't want to hear her doubt his character, so he captured her mouth in a searing kiss. Warmth spread through his whole body, radiating from his heart. Marriage had always scared him to death before, but now he was looking to make this woman his wife as soon as possible. A winter wedding popped into his head, and he briefly considered whether or not it would be worth convincing Ginny that it would be one of his more brilliant ideas.
"The ring," Ginny mumbled into his ear as he trailed his mouth over her neck. "Can I—"
Draco straightened up immediately. "Of course, love."
With little fanfare, he extracted the diamond ring — the symbol of his enduring love for one woman — from it's protective box and slipped it onto her left hand. His mouth pressed down on the rock, sealing their union with a kiss.
"It's so beautiful," Ginny whispered as she admired her hand. "It fits perfectly."
"I know," Draco answered smugly. "I tried it on you last week."
Ginny's forehead creased. "When?"
"You sleep pretty soundly after a few glasses of wine," Draco replied, smirking cheekily.
"You devil! What if I'd woken up?"
"Well, you'd have caught me, and I would have had to propose on the spot," Draco informed her confidently.
"Yes, like tonight." Draco stifled a yawn. "It wasn't that I wasn't going to, because I definitely was, but I was just trying to think of a way to do it that—"
Ginny placed a finger over his mouth to quiet his elaborate, but unnecessary, explanation. "I know."
Draco yawned widely and rubbed a hand over his face.
"Have you slept at all?"
"No, I couldn't."
"Back to bed with you then," Ginny ordered.
"Are you coming?"
"Good." Draco grinned nefariously. "I might need a little exercise to diminish the last of my energy."
Rather than respond, Draco scooped her into his arms and carried her back to bed. The moment they got themselves comfortable Draco could feel his body start to truly relax. His hands roamed without conviction, moving slowly over her body, without making any effort to arouse her. He kissed the side of her head and pulled her closer to him. Happiness didn't even begin to describe what he felt at this moment. Just the knowledge that this was how he'd fall asleep every night from the day they married was enough to bring a smile to his face big enough to hurt his cheeks. It was his last conscious thought for the next eight hours as sleep claimed his weary mind rapidly.