They said he was a killer.
Her eyes watched the moonlit glinted hair flee into the distance. She had always thought of him as a haughty Prince.
She remembered her bat-bogey hex in his fifth year and how after, days after, his eyes would follow her. She had delighted in bringing the Prince down a notch.
He had sworn revenge. It never came.
And as the silver haired boy and his dark Potions Master vanished from sight, Ginny wished she was 14 again wondering if the Slytherin Prince was going to exact some petty revenge.
Instead, she was facing reality and innocence lost. Her heart cracked and tears leaked for a misplaced boy. In the end that's all he was.
They claimed the world would end in flames.
As Ginny watched the wizard burning in front of her, she wondered in a detached way if he had ever read poetry. If he had read that particular poem. And if he had, what his thoughts had been. Was he for fire or ice?
The flames died and with them went a soul.
Ginny wondered if it were hers.
She had never been promised happily ever after.
At this point, she did not think it existed. They all laughed. They all cried. Every emotion dragged forth, experienced, and released.
Ginny felt numb.
She always did these days.
She didn't have an answer, but her eyes looked soulless, and the Savior turned away. How could she explain? There were no words to describe the loss of everything.
She wanted to ask him how. How could he live normally? With no regrets?
He wanted to have what her brother had. When he watched his two best friends, he would gaze with such longing at her that Ginny wished she could cry.
She could never summon the tears.
So he left. And as she watched him go, a part of her wondered why she wasn't more upset.
It was a year later she saw the familiar flash of silver.
In her waking dreams, late at night, she would look at the tiny glints of stars and think of him.
He was here now, in the broad light of day, watching her calmly from across the lane.
Ginny raised one elegant eyebrow, and it was all the invitation he needed to traverse the dusty streets of Cairo.
He sat across from her, and though neither spoke, a wealth of information passed in their silence.
"Why not?" She responded, one night after their odd meeting in the café.
They were on the roof of her building, watching the sky turn colors as the sun set. The buildings in the crowded city still tightly clasped the warmth of the day, and she looked like a Queen of old lying indolently on her chair in a thin dress of white.
He was just as regal, watching her with hooded gray eyes. They often met, but spoke little. In each other, they found kindred spirits, haunted by war and past decisions.
It was the first time he had ventured a question, and though Ginny felt cheap answering as she did, there was nothing else to say.
He never touched her.
It was a phobia of his, touching other people. She had made the mistake of brushing his hand, and he had disappeared for days.
There was a story there. Of course, there always was, but she never asked and he never volunteered an explanation.
Ginny had phobias of her own and so she merely processed the information and maintained a healthy distance.
She was afraid of empty pages.
He had been writing casually in a journal at their café. She had frozen and a sick fear had filled her eyes so that he quickly pocketed the book.
Ginny had cut their afternoon tea short and Draco made sure to keep the journal out of sight from then on.
He had phobias of his own.
They both shared a passion for old Muggle movies.
She had been shocked to learn he felt the same way, but Draco had merely smiled, and Ginny knew much had changed for the older boy in the intervening years.
So they would spend some evenings watching film noir and drinking wine.
It was their little bit of peace in a crazy world. It was their Paris.
Eventually, her family found her.
Draco was shocked to find her hiding in his apartment. She rarely came to his place, never when he was not there.
"They want me to go home," she said, her lower lip quivering. It was the only time she ever betrayed emotion.
"Don't go," Draco whispered. "We can go wherever you want."
"You pick," she finally said.
And it was a mark of how far they'd progressed that he took her hand and they apparated away.
The heat was different in South America.
It was muggy, steamy, and the sweat would cling in a fine sheen to her skin minutes after showering.
Draco hated it, but Ginny would merely point out he had chosen their next destination.
They stayed away from Europe. Even in countries far from England, memories still stung and it would be easier to track them.
So Draco used cooling charms, and that was that.
They lived together now.
It had seemed silly after running away, together, to have separate homes.
Neither one asked where the money came from to sustain their lifestyle. In the scheme of their new life, it didn't seem to matter.
Their coexistence was relatively peaceful, and if either one was honest; they had become wholly dependent on the other.
"Let's go to America."
It was an odd, abrupt statement and it caught him completely by surprise.
She was serious though, and nibbling her lower lip in the way it meant she was hoping he would agree, but unsure of his reaction.
"I want to," she said simply. And Draco nodded because he was fast beginning to realize he would never deny her what she wanted.
Ginny hated New York, the brashness and the rush of the people, the multiple cultures colliding like a kaleidoscope of harsh realities.
She had chosen their next destination, though, and would have died before admitting it.
It was autumn in the city and the only reason she knew was the window that overlooked Central Park showcased the fading golds, reds, and browns.
In this bitter city she felt like a tree, shedding away her skin and leaving her soul raw and exposed.
Draco loved New York.
He had become a watcher of people and found the melting pot of a city the perfect place to feed his fetish.
Despite the hordes of people crushed on the massive sidewalks, there was a flimsy wall between each individual, obsessively respected by his fellow man.
The illusion of safety soothed his inner beast.
They compromised after running into another specter of their past although Ginny felt she had received the better part of the bargain.
A tiny island in the Florida Keys granted them the privacy they so desperately sought. It was hot and humid; much like their South American home, but Draco found the cool waters of the ocean a sufficient trade-off.
The beautiful beach house was open and spacious; warm breezes regularly filled the rooms with the scent of exotic flowers and salt water.
There were not many people, but Draco found he did not mind so much anymore. Not when she looked at him at any rate.
He took her to the ballet.
She had never been and the colors and dancing and swelling music enchanted her completely.
Afterward, he tentatively drew a lock of fire red hair through his fingers in heavy contemplation.
"I would have chosen the Firebird."
Her shock is apparent. She thinks he would have chosen the Princess as the tale dictates, as his standard of life would demand.
A wry smile, a shake of the head, and she knows he will give no more tonight, but when she looks into the cool gray of his eyes she imagines there aren't so many walls as before.
The consummation of their relationship left her in tears, each drop a diamond that glittered on her cheeks.
Her touch, which had once unmanned him, fulfilled an emptiness he had long ceased attempting to fill.
And as they lay entwined in the aftermath of their exertions, she felt her heart brim with emotion long suppressed.
So he holds her while she finally mourns the loss of everything that had once held meaning and then together they let their separate hurts fly away. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes to greet the morning of its new life she understands why he chose the Firebird.
There is a photo on the mantelpiece of The Burrow.
It's surrounded by the colorful, moving photos of children and grandkids, but this still frame is poignant in its simplicity.
She is looking up into the smooth contours of his face while he is gazing down at her upturned eyes. They are not touching, but the intimacy of the pose reveals more than any embrace.
This more than any intervening letters is proof to a mother that her youngest is finally happy and whenever her grandchildren ask about the couple, the grandmother delights in weaving a magical fantasy of a Prince and his Firebird and their happily ever after.