All's Well That Ends Well
(and Other Ridiculous Adages)
Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
The harsh, blaring noise trumpeted in his ears like a relentless harpy, and Draco clasped his hands over his ears to shut out the sound.
"What in Salazar's name is that racket?" he yelled above the din, directing a scowl at his travelling companion.
Ginny took a step forward and was instantly yanked back by the chain wrapped around both their necks. Draco instinctively reached out and caught her in his arms, feeling her weight press comfortably into his chest. In a panic to regain her balance, Ginny blindly grasped his hand and Draco helped her to her feet. She glanced up at him with sheepish appreciation, but then the beeping noise sounded again and she released his hand.
"I think it's coming from the Time-Turner!" she yelled, mercilessly tapping at the glass cover of the device until it finally ceased its relentless beeping. Silence filled the air once more and she shook the Time-Turner, bringing it to her ear. "Professor Dumbledore must have altered it, although I'm not sure why."
Draco glowered at the redhead and lowered the Time-Turner from her ear. "Yes, well let's hope the annoying sound effect somehow added to the accuracy of the blasted device and brought us home to our time."
Ginny sighed wearily and dropped the Time-Turner between them. The two students stood mutely on the shoreline, taking in the view. The sky above them was lit with swirling colours of reddish-oranges and violets, which were quickly darkening to a deep azure. Dusk was quickly approaching as a smattering of stars peeked out over the horizon, adding a dazzling shimmer to the dark blue lake below.
"Well, it looks like we made it," Ginny said with an upwards inflection. "This definitely isn't winter."
Gone were the chilly air and the crisp white snow from 1975. Instead they were greeted with a warm autumn breeze and the beautiful scenery of green and gold foliage.
"Yes, it was a blinding success," Draco drawled. "Neither of us was melted into oblivion or had our eyes poked out with sharpened sticks."
Ginny cast a sidelong glance at the blond. "Sharpened sticks?"
Draco waved his hand dismissively and took a step forward, forgetting that the Time-Turner was still around both their necks. Predictably yanked back, he cursed vehemently at his own stupidity. An agonising second later, Ginny stood on her toes and removed the chain from around his neck. The brief contact of her fingers against his bare skin made him flinch and he hastily pulled away, stuffing his hands into his trousers.
"The question we need answered is whether we made it to September 8th, 1998." His eyes scanned past the shoreline until they spotted a familiar white tombstone.
"Everything looks the same," she said, taking a sweeping view of the lake as she absently pocketed the Time-Turner.
She then turned her attention towards the castle, following Draco's intent gaze until she spotted Dumbledore's gravestone. Draco exhaled loudly and turned away.
"Let's go inside."
He began to walk towards the castle, keeping his pace slow in order to allow Ginny to catch up. The redhead quickly fell in line with his footsteps and began to nervously wring her hands, unsure of what to expect.
"What have you got there, Weasley? Pilfered some hapless bloke's pocket watch?"
"Stuff it, Malfoy!"
Ginny's eyes grew as wide as saucer plates when she heard the familiar voices. Before she could speak, Draco grabbed her by the waist and placed his hand over her mouth, dragging her behind a tree. He dropped his hand from her waist and took out his wand, casting a quick Disillusionment Charm over them both. Ginny felt it slip wet and cold down her back with a shiver.
Draco slowly lowered his hand from her mouth and put his lips against her ear. "Quiet, Weasley."
"That's us!" Ginny hissed, and Draco's hand went back to her mouth.
The two had just made it to the cliff's ascent, which was nestled in a sycamore grove only a few hundred metres from the beach near the stone steps that led to the front entrance of the castle. Both watched in horror and amazement as two very familiar figures bickered back and forth on the beach.
"So whom'd you lift this off?"
The indelible scene was unfolding in front of them like some embarrassing dream put on repeat. Ginny was reminded of watching mo-vees at Hermione's, trying to distinguish between the real and the surreal. Déjà vu really hit home, however, when she saw herself slapping Draco's wrist, earning her past self a withered look from the blond before he grabbed the Time-Turner from her. The two carbon copies continued their heated row, tugging on the chain of the Time-Turner until it snapped in half.
Past Draco grabbed the dial, inadvertently turning it.
Draco and Ginny opened their mouths in slack-jawed wonderment, having just witnessed their past selves blink out of existence. A moment of silence passed with neither looking at the other in fear that either one would be made to rationalise what had just transpired. Instead, they remained huddled together, staring at the dark, deserted shoreline.
"So, I guess it was my fault too," Draco muttered quietly to himself, and Ginny snapped her head around to openly gap at him.
"Pardon?" She was unsure if she had heard him correctly.
Draco cleared his throat and then went about straightening his tie. "I said you're quite amusing when you're flustered, Weasley."
Ginny rolled her eyes, knowing that an admission of guilt from the Slytherin was too good to be true. "Yes, well you're an arse when you're an arse."
Draco's smirked, as if this were a compliment, and he pulled out his wand, non-verbally removing the Disillusionment Charm. A hot trickling sensation stole down their backs and they both let out a soft sigh of relief. The two then began to trudge the rest of the way up the side of the cliff, resuming their destination to the castle.
As they walked side by side in silence, Ginny began to wring her hands once more. Draco glanced down at the redhead and tentatively put a hand on top of hers to cease her fidgeting. He then quickly removed his hand from hers and raked his fingers through his fine fringe.
"What's wrong, Weasley?"
Ginny slowly shrugged her shoulders forward. "It's nothing. I just..." She paused, glancing up at him. "I just hope we didn't bungle everything up."
"You know what I mean."
"Rarely, if ever."
The two continued walking and finally made their way up the top of the cliff. Ginny's shoulders seemed to droop even lower with every step she took and Draco let out an exasperated sigh, coming to an abrupt stop only a few metres from the castle. The redhead halted and spun around, giving the blond a puzzled look.
"What is it?"
"Listen, Weasley, I know I'm normally the least sanguine of the two—"
"It means hopeful," Draco clarified, irritated. "It means bloody as well."
He narrowed his eyes and gave her a look that seemed to ask if she was going to interrupt any further. Ginny raised her palms in a gesture of surrender, urging him to continue.
"As I was saying—I may not be as optimistic as you, but what we just saw on the beach has to confirm some facts."
"Like we just saw ourselves using the Time-Turner, so we have to exist here in this present-past, or whatever the proper term for this is." He spread his arms wide, gesturing to the open landscape. "The castle is standing, the sky is blue, we still look and sound as though we hate each other, Dumbledore's tombstone is there..."
He trailed off at the last part, hazarding a sidelong glance at Ginny, who was now looking off into the distance in a contemplative manner.
"Hmm, you're right," she agreed with a slow now. "I wonder what's changed for the better."
"Weasley, I highly doubt we've interrupted the past that much," Draco said, rolling his eyes at Ginny's quickly rediscovered optimism. "I mean as long as I exist now it means that my parents got together and had me—and that's a comforting thought."
Now it was Ginny's turn to roll her eyes. "Yeah, real comforting for the world at large."
Draco inclined his head and they both continued their trek towards the castle. Opening the doors, Draco stood off to the side, allowing Ginny to step inside first. As the doors closed behind them, they stood and stared at the numerous students milling about the hallways, no doubt heading towards the Great Hall for the Sorting. Both Draco and Ginny scanned the crowd, trying to spot a familiar face.
"Oh, Dean and Seamus!" Ginny cried excitedly after a half-minute of searching, pointing out the Gryffindor duo in the sea of students.
Draco followed her finger and squinted. "I don't know who those two are."
"Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan," she clarified, causing Draco to glower. "I gather we've made it to the right time period. Perhaps that's what that buzzing was all for, to let us know that we arrived at the right date."
She glanced up at Draco, who merely shrugged indifferently. "Whatever," he said, not bothering to postulate a theory. "It's all rubbish to me."
Ginny sighed and glanced down at her robes in vague remembrance. She shoved her hands into her pockets and began fishing about for the Time-Turner. Her fingertips touched cool metal and she curled her fingers around the device, bringing it out of her pocket to examine it.
"Don't fiddle with that!" Draco barked, seeing Ginny poking at the Time-Turner.
"Dammit!" she swore, dropping the chain in surprise. "Don't scare me like that! You made me drop it."
"Well, excuse me. The reason we got into this mess in the first place is because of your arsing around with the blasted thing."
Ginny narrowed her eyes and literally growled at the blond. "Don't you start in on that again!"
Draco gritted his teeth, far from browbeaten, and was about to issue a scathing retort when his attention was diverted to the marble floors. The white-gold chain of the Time-Turner twinkled in the last dying rays of sun that came in through the large stained-glass windows.
"I see it!" he announced, and hunched over to pick up the chain.
"Ginny?" a familiar voice called out, and both Draco and Ginny glanced up to see Ron sprinting across the hall to grab his sister by the shoulders. There was a look of fright mixed with exasperated anger reflecting in his bright blue eyes. "We've been looking everywhere for you! Where in Merlin's name did you run off to?"
"Steady on!" Ginny hissed upon reflex, trying to wrest herself free of her brother's tenacious grip. Then, as though slowly coming to the realisation that she hadn't seen Ron in over four months, a huge grin spread across her face. "Ron!"
"Ginny, what's with your—"
Ron was unable to finish his sentence before his little sister launched herself at him, giving him a big, tight hug. She hung from him like a rag doll, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck.
"Merlin, I never thought I'd say this, but I've missed you!"
With this, she tightened her hold on him and Ron managed to choke out her name while gasping for air.
"Gin-ny, you're choking me."
Ginny instantly let go and lowered her feet to the floor. She stepped back and gave her brother a sheepish grin. "Sorry about that. It's just been so long."
Ron massaged his neck and raised a ginger eyebrow in incredulity. "Is this some kind of joke? I don't know why you're talking the way you are but—but cut it out cause it's unnerving me!"
Ginny took another step back and frowned. Okay, so she wasn't normally this affectionate with Ron, but there was no reason for him to be such a ponce about it. At this point, Draco had stood up and joined the Weasley siblings, the Time-Turner dangling in his hand.
"Ginny, who are you with?" Ron asked, peering over her shoulder. His eyes suddenly went wide with recognition and anger. "Malfoy!"
"Weasley," Draco replied flatly, rubbing his fingers along the length of the chain before handing it to Ginny.
Open-mouthed, Ron watched as Draco's hand touch Ginny's and he instinctively pushed his sister out of the way and drew his wand, pointing it at Draco's face. "Clear off, Ferret!"
Draco quickly brought his hand up and lowered Ron's. "Steady on, Weasley." He turned to regard Ginny. "See?" He jerked his head in the direction of her befuddled and emotionally charged brother. "I told you nothing has changed."
Ron's grip on his wand slackened, as did his jaw. "W-what?" He lowered his wand, looking back and forth between Draco and Ginny in a state of perpetual shock.
Ginny stepped in between the two boys and turned to face her brother. "Back off, Ron," she warned, pointing a finger at him. "You don't need to be so bloody blinkered all the time."
Ron looked too confused to be crestfallen or maybe he was bewildered by the fact that his sister appeared to have taken Draco's side over his. In fact, the tall redhead looked as though he was about to cry from sheer mystification.
"What in the name of Circe's short skirt is going on?" he bellowed, spittle flying everywhere.
Ginny turned to look at Draco, who merely shrugged in apathy. She let out a defeated sigh and made a motion for Draco to follow her. The two casually strolled past Ron, who openly gawked at them as they went.
As they walked towards the Entrance Hall, Draco bent down and whispered in Ginny's ear, "Told you we made it."
"Oh, yes—" Ginny rolled her eyes "—you told me."
Draco grinned, looking happier than he had been in ages. "I never thought I'd be glad to see your idiot of a brother."
"Settle down, Weasley. I'm not trying to wind you up. I'm just happy we made it back to our time where your brother still hates me."
Ginny cocked her head to the side. "You're happy about that?"
"Of course I am. This is all the proof I needed to know that we're not in some sort of parallel universe where I need to worry about Potter initiating me into a gang."
Ginny let a brief smile linger on her lips before putting on a serious expression. "The Trio aren't like the Marauders: they make you wrestle Hippogriffs as opposed to Acromantulas."
Draco let out a dignified snort and shook his head disapprovingly. "Nancies."
Ginny looked askance at Draco, who was trying his best to maintain a stoic façade. His grey eyes finally met her brown ones and the two couldn't contain the laughter that was inevitable, and they both broke down into a fit of giggles.
"That was a horrible joke, Weasley," Draco said, quickly recovering, but Ginny let out one last giggle before composing herself.
"Yes, well, I work with what you give me, which isn't much."
It was just as Ginny was about to deliver her customary punch to Draco's shoulder that she noticed several groups of students observing them with obvious interest.
"Everyone's looking at us," she whispered out of the side of her mouth, as though this was her ingenious plan to prevent others from realising that they two were acting cordial towards each other.
"Well, we are holding a civil conversation in the middle of the halls, Weasley," he said dryly, ignoring the prying eyes. "And my hair doesn't appear to be lit on fire."
Ginny giggled despite her earlier instinct to play off their familiarity. "Good point." She then let out a long sigh and nervously scratched the back of her neck. "I guess we should go get ready for the Sorting."
Draco nodded in agreement and Ginny walked past him. She descended the stairs at the Entrance Hall and took a left, which led to a large portrait. But before she could speak the password, a voice cried out behind her.
Ginny turned around, her eyes wide in wonder. "Yes?"
Draco had followed her and was standing at the top of the stairs, pointing a long finger in her direction. "You're heading towards the Slytherin dormitories."
Ginny blushed a scarlet red. "Oh, right." She laughed nervously and skipped back up the stairs. She had got used to taking that entrance for the past four months. "Hey, you don't figure we're in the same houses that we were back in '75, do you?"
"I certainly hope not," Draco said, coming down the stairs. "Besides, you're too much of a bleeding heart to be in Slytherin."
Ginny placed a hand on her hip and mockingly glared up at Draco. "And you don't have enough heart to be in Gryffindor," she said flippantly, and then paused. "Wait, do you even have a heart?"
Draco placed his hand over his heart. "Your words wound me, Weasley."
"Tosser," Ginny said playfully, and then stuck her tongue out at him. "Well, I guess we'll find out. You go to the dungeons and I'll go to the towers."
"Yes, m'lady," he replied, giving her a formal bow much like the one he gave her on the train, except this time it was far from malicious.
Ginny rolled her eyes but still smiled, bounding up the stairs as Draco descended them. When she made her way to the Gryffindor Towers, she felt an immense weight lift off her shoulders. She suddenly wanted to familiarise herself with the common room, to have a chat with the Fat Lady, to re-initiate herself into her original house.
Like how she had reacted with Ron earlier, Ginny had forgot how much she missed Gryffindor and Hogwarts. She missed her old life. But Ginny was also faintly aware that though this timeline may be the same one she once lived in, time for her had changed; perceptions had changed.
After quickly checking out the common room and the girls' dormitories, and seeing nothing new, Ginny went into her room and returned the Time-Turner under Hermione's bed. She would tell Hermione what she had done later that night after dinner. She wasn't exactly looking forward to the lecture she was bound to receive.
The dormitories were completely empty as everyone was sitting in the Great Hall waiting for the Sorting to take place so that they could eat. Ginny exited the tower as fast as she could, jogging briskly towards the doors to the Great Hall where she could see everyone getting settled in. The noise was almost deafening as she approached and she grinned foolishly when she spotted the great frizzy mane of Hermione Granger. The grin quickly disappeared once she remembered what she would have to tell the brunette after dinner.
Without warning, a pale hand flew out of nowhere and caught her by the wrist, dragging her behind the open doors. Ginny let out a half-yelp, half-laugh as she quickly sussed out whose customary greeting it was to pull her behind the doors to the Great Hall.
"Still a little lion, Weasley?" Draco drawled, dropping Ginny's wrist and offering her a cocky grin.
"Still a slithering snake, Malfoy?" Ginny asked in reply, sticking out her tongue.
"Indeed," Draco said, flicking at her tongue with his finger before quickly wiping his hand on his trousers. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."
Ginny clasped a hand over her mouth in shock and then reached forward, pushing Draco back against the wall with her other hand.
"Prat," she muttered, covering her smile with both hands and then letting them drop to her sides. "I suppose we should go inside and take our seats at our respective tables."
Draco let out a sigh of boredom and peered around the door, glancing at the Slytherin table. "We should..." He paused and turned around to regard Ginny with a somewhat pensive look. "It's odd, but I keep expecting Potter and Black to jump out from around a corner and tackle me."
Ginny clasped her hands together and giggled. "Aww, you miss them."
Draco's expression soured, recoiling at her insinuation. "Bite your tongue, woman!" He began adjusting his tie. "I've just become accustomed to being tortured for the last four months."
"Poor you," Ginny said with little sympathy, reaching forward to help him straighten his tie. "You know I can help you out with that—the torture, that is."
"You're absolutely beastly, Weasley," Draco said, softly slapping her hand away. "I think you've done enough irrevocable damage for one life time."
"Beastly?" Ginny laughed. "You snobby git."
"It's part of my charm."
Both Draco and Ginny turned around to see Blaise Zabini, having just come out of the boys' lavatory. The golden-eyed boy's brow was creased in confusion, openly regarding Draco with curiosity and Ginny with disdain.
Draco didn't even bother to give an excuse for why he was standing in a dark corner with Ginny Weasley. He had nothing to hide, but he had nothing to explain either. Blaise, meanwhile, narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips together ever so slightly.
"I'll see you at the table," he said after a pause. While obviously curious as to what was going on, the dark-haired Slytherin wasn't about to question Draco in front of a Gryffindor.
Draco watched Blaise go and briefly turned around to meet Ginny's eyes. "I'll meet you out here after the Sorting."
Ginny nodded and let Draco and Blaise pass through first before she entered. As soon as she crossed the threshold, her brother, Hermione and Harry all turned to look at her. Quietly, she lowered her head and took a seat closest to the door, trying her best to avoid eye contact. After an agonising hour of Sorting and announcements, Ginny finally glanced across the table in the direction of Slytherin, catching Draco's eye. He was looking directly at her, pointing to his wrist and holding up his index finger, and then pointing to the doors of the Great Hall.
Ginny nodded in understanding, but instead of waiting a minute to go greet Draco outside the doors she decided to make her way there first. She was understandably uncomfortable with the Trio's gaze, knowing that Ron wanted to corner her and ask her about Malfoy. Right now though, she was more intent on finding out her own answers, with Draco.
She quickly left the Great Hall and hid behind the doors. After a minute, Draco walked out and she reached out to grab his wrist, yanking him back into the corner.
Ginny giggled at his expression and let go of his wrist. "You were due, Malfoy."
"I disagree," Draco growled, leaning against the wall adjacent to door while Ginny continued to giggle.
"Merlin, I thought the Sorting would never end!" she said, after fully recovering.
"Yes, there was a lot more waffling this year than usual. And more brats," he added, before bending down to look Ginny square in the eyes. "Any from your brood, Weasley?"
Ginny gave him an ungracious shove before landing her fist on his bicep. "Shut it!"
Draco flinched and immediately began rubbing his tender arm. "I'd love to, but the sound of my own voice distracts me from my irritation."
"Really?" Ginny asked with feigned incredulity. "Because it compounds mine!"
As the two continued to playfully banter back and forth, a figure stepped out from around the doorway, staring intently at the couple with bespectacled green eyes.
"What now?" Draco asked behind gritted teeth, seeing the infamous Harry Potter walking towards them.
But Harry ignored Draco. Instead he looked down at Ginny, concerned. "Is Malfoy bothering you?"
"No more than usual," Ginny said, and Draco rolled his eyes.
"Nice one, Weasley."
"Thank you," she said, offering Draco a smile and shallow bow.
Harry watched this highly unusual and confusing cordial back-and-forth take place in front of him with a mixture of incredulity and curiosity.
"Harry, I'm fine, really. Malfoy and I are just... talking." She briefly glanced back up at Draco, shooting him a warning glare in case he decided to be a ponce and contradict her.
Draco begrudgingly relented and let out a huff of annoyance. Harry, however, beyond puzzled, opened his mouth to reply when Ginny reached out and put a hand on his shoulder.
"I'll see you in the common room later, yeah?" She gave him a look that brooked no argument, and Harry slowly nodded, his brow still knit in deep confusion.
"Uhm, yeah, okay."
"On your way then, Potter," Draco said, a smug grin plastered on his face as he made a shooing gesture with his hands.
"Malfoy!" Ginny growled threateningly, effectively silencing the blond.
Draco scoffed at Ginny, crossing his arms over his chest in a petulant manner, but ultimately relented. Harry, on the other hand, didn't let out a sound, and walked back to the Gryffindor table in a daze.
"I told you, didn't I!" Ron said, seeing the look of befuddlement in his best mate's eyes.
"Y-yeah, you did," Harry said, absently taking his seat between Ron and Hermione. "You were right, Ron. That was—that was odd." He turned to look at Hermione for answers. "Hermione?"
"I-I—I dunno," Hermione stuttered, unable to explain it. "Ron was right?"
Ron was too worked up to notice Hermione's slight on his judgement. "Maybe it's a spell," he offered as a means of explanation, and both Ron and Harry looked to Hermione for confirmation.
"That is a plausible explanation," she said slowly, still shell-shocked, "but I've never heard of such a spell."
"It has to be a spell!" Ron cried, determined to believe his own theory.
"Whatever it may be, we ought to inform Professor McGonagall," said Hermione, and Ron and Harry agreed.
Draco and Ginny had become strangely mute, unsure of what to say to one another after their confrontation with Harry. Everyone appeared to be quite confused at the erstwhile enemies' seemingly cordial attitude towards one another. This, of course, only seemed to confirm that they were in the past-present (or whatever the term was).
Everything appeared to be the same as they had left it. House prejudices still existed, Professor McGonagall was the new headmistress and Dumbledore's tombstone still stood near the shores of the lake.
"So, I guess nothing has changed," Ginny said, and Draco inspected his nails.
"I suppose so..."
Draco dropped his hand and glanced down at Ginny, his grey eyes softening. "You'd hoped that your brother would still be alive, hadn't you?"
"Yeah," she said with a warble, and Draco grimaced.
"I'm sorry, Weasley," he said, placing a warm hand on her shoulder.
Ginny glanced up at Draco with wide, searching eyes. Her penetrating gaze and his own uncharacteristic gesture of kindness made the Slytherin falter. He dropped his hand and noisily cleared his throat.
"Well, I wouldn't mind not being known as the idiot who tried to kill Dumbledore," he said, attempting levity, and Ginny glowered, unmoved by his morbid humour.
"I guess we all have our crosses to bear," she muttered darkly.
Draco smiled at her reaction, feeling that they had both regained a sense of normalcy. "At least we're both still pretty," he said with a bit of cheek, before forced to back-peddle. "Not that you're..."
He paused, fumbling under her scrutinising stare. A knowing smirk angled on Ginny's lips and Draco rolled his eyes at her baiting, letting out a resigned sigh.
"All right, Weasley, you're cute," he admitted with obvious defeat. "Don't let it go to your head."
"I'll try not to." His smirk widened. "I guess this is my cue to go back inside before you start insulting me again."
As she turned to walk past him, he suddenly reached out and grabbed her by the forearm, gently pulling her back.
"Weasley, wait." He dropped his hand when he saw her staring at it. "You're a—you're a good sort, Ginny."
Ginny lifted an eyebrow at the half-bashful expression that Draco was trying so desperately to mask. "Thanks, Draco." She put a small hand on his arm. "You're not so bad yourself—once you get past the shallow exterior and the layers upon layers of arrogance."
"I happen to like my layers," he drawled, running a slender hand down his chest for emphasis.
"Of course you would," Ginny said with a snort, gently moving her hand onto his chest and causing the blond to tense. "One thing though: could we just stick to last names for now?"
He instinctively brought his hand up to touch hers and the electrifying contact startled them both. They dropped their hands in haste, glancing furtively about the empty hallway to see if anyone had spotted them.
"I mean—" Draco cleared his throat "—I'd call you by your first name for propriety's sake but I'd just rather not." He feigned a look of disgust. "It makes me feel unclean. Old prejudices die hard and all that."
Ginny cocked her fist back and delivered Draco a swift punch to his bicep.
"Oww!" Draco clutched his arm. "What did you do that for?"
"I'm helping you put those old prejudices to bed." Ginny offered him a wry grin. "Pain makes an excellent learning tool."
Draco growled and lowered his arm. "Have I not endured enough pain, torture and humiliation these past four months, Weasley?"
The sound of someone clearing her throat interrupted from behind and the two students spun around to see Headmistress McGonagall standing just outside the doors with her arms crossed over her chest.
"Mr Malfoy," Professor McGonagall began with her usual authoritative tone, "would you accompany me to my office?" Her sharp nostrils flared out as she waited, regarding Draco with unmasked impatience.
Draco grimaced and reluctantly inclined his head, stepping past Ginny to follow the older witch. McGonagall let her gaze linger on Ginny for a moment in a contemplative manner, no doubt wondering why Ginny was alone with Draco.
"Is everything alright, Miss Weasley?" she prompted, briefly glancing in Draco's direction.
Draco scowled at the headmistress's obvious mistrust. He remembered a time not so long ago (back in 1975) when the Transfiguration professor liked him and actually cared about his well-being. Obviously that time had passed and Draco was no longer afforded such trust or simple pleasantries.
"Oh, I'm fine, Headmistress," Ginny answered quickly. "Malfoy and I were just talking."
Professor McGonagall raised a thin brow in curiosity, swiftly uncrossing her arms. Ginny swallowed hard, uncomfortable with the headmistress's gaze. She brought a hand to the back of her neck and rubbed nervously.
"Well, I had better get back to the table before Ron eats everything in sight," Ginny added with a half-laugh, offering McGonagall a thin smile before stepping out in front of the doors. "Good evening, Headmistress." She then briefly glanced over her shoulder at Draco and offered him a smirk. "Good luck, Malfoy."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Thanks, Weasley."
At this Professor McGonagall let out a low chortle. Ginny slowly spun around, knitting her brow in confusion, and Draco regarded the old witch as though she had just sprouted a second head.
"I was wondering when you two would arrive," McGonagall said, emphasising the verb before sweeping past Ginny and quietly closed the Great Hall doors.
"Wha—you remember us?"
"Of course," McGonagall said. "How could I forget the two exchange students from 1975?"
Draco and Ginny immediately looked at one another. Ginny opened her mouth in awe, taking a step back from the taller witch.
"But how did you know we made it back?"
McGonagall sighed and clasped her hands together. "Miss Weasley, you're conversing in French right now."
"Oh." Ginny worried her bottom lip with her teeth until a light suddenly went off in her head. "Oh!"
Draco smacked his forehead with his palm.
"Apparently neither of you removed your Language Charm before you returned here to this time," McGonagall explained with barely contained amusement.
This explained why Ron and Harry thought Draco and Ginny had gone bonkers—besides the fact that the two were acting civil towards each other.
"You know when I saw you two arrive at Hogwarts as young children, I had always wondered how you were both able to speak those languages so fluently," McGonagall mused aloud, bringing a thin hand to her pointed chin.
"I figured out whom Drago was straight off," she said dryly, and then glanced at Ginny. "But it took me a few years to figure out who Geneviève was. It was a touch difficult to associate that long red mane of yours with the wavy blonde hair of Miss Belette."
"The Glamour Charm!" Ginny exclaimed suddenly, her green eyes twinkling in shock as she touched her strawberry-blonde hair.
"I'll remove that, Miss Weasley, along with the accent spell." She withdrew her wand from her robes. "Fortunately, Professor Dumbledore left a note for me to open on this day, detailing how to lift the spell."
After some complicated wandstrokes and a spell that sounded almost lyrical, Professor McGonagall removed the Language Charm and then went to work on changing Ginny's eye colour from green to brown and returning her hair to its former darker shade of red.
"There we go." The older witch stepped back to take a better look at Ginny and Draco. "The exchange students are now Hogwarts students once more."
Draco and Ginny regarded each other with a frown. Ginny brought her hand to her hair, twirling an amber lock between her fingers and then raising it eye level to inspect the accuracy of its colour. Once satisfied, she lowered her hand and looked up sheepishly at Professor McGonagall.
"Are we in trouble?" she asked hesitantly.
"I don't know, are you?" McGonagall asked, giving Ginny a queer look.
The redhead's shoulders sagged forward and then a sudden look of horror seized her. "Are we going to Azkaban?"
Draco slowly turned with his brow creased and his mouth hung slightly ajar. He was giving Ginny a spectacular what-the-deuce look.
"Merlin no!" McGonagall placed her hands on her hips. "Whatever would make you think that?"
"Professor Dumbledore told us that the Ministry would arrest us for improper use of a Time-Turner."
Clarity finally registered in the old witch's eyes and she placed a frail hand on the Ginny's shoulder. "Back then you would have undoubtedly been put on trial, but now... well, the Ministry has more important matters to deal with, so let's make this a school punishment as opposed to a government one."
"Thank you, Headmistress," Ginny mumbled, head bent, avoiding the no-doubt murderous glare Draco was directing at her head.
Professor McGonagall noted the menacing gleam in Draco's eyes and sniffed loudly, dropping her hand from Ginny's shoulder. "Did you return the device to Miss Granger?"
Ginny nodded in the affirmative.
"I will have to get it from her tomorrow morning, then," McGonagall said to no one in particular.
At this point Ginny began wringing her hands. The headmistress noted the nervous habit with raised eyebrows.
"Do you have something else to add, Miss Weasley?"
Ginny shook her head at first and then frowned, opening her mouth. "Well, Professor Dumbledore altered the Time-Turner."
"Altered it how?"
"I'm not sure, but it makes this weird beeping noise now," she explained, furrowing her brow in frustration.
McGonagall let out a short laugh and smiled. "Miss Weasley, it was probably some inside joke of his, or not." She glanced at Draco. "You never knew what to expect from Professor Dumbledore."
Draco let out an annoyed sigh. "May I go now?"
McGonagall shook her head. "No. I came here looking for you, Mr Malfoy." She clasped her hands together in a serious manner. "Your father is here to see you."
Draco raised a pale eyebrow in shock. "My father?"
"Yes, now follow me to my office," Professor McGonagall ordered impatiently and turned to look at Ginny. "You can come as well, Miss Weasley."
"To outline your punishment, of course." McGonagall wrapped her robes tightly about herself. "And to ask you more about the handling of the Time-Tuner."
Ginny swallowed nervously and Professor McGonagall curled her finger back, indicating that the two to follow her. She turned around to head towards her office with both students in tow.
"What's wrong, Weasley?" Draco asked with feigned concern, stepping in line with Ginny. "Afraid to have a chat with Lucius?"
Ginny hesitated for a moment and then lifted her chin high, determined not to dignify his question with an answer—an answer that was obvious (yes, she was bloody well afraid). But Draco wouldn't take silence for an answer. As they made their way towards the headmistress's office, he continued to egg Ginny on, trying to provoke a response
"C'mon, where's that Gryffindor courage, Weasley?"
"Pfft," Ginny scoffed as they began the short ascent up the stairs. "You do realise that the Sorting process is utter bollocks."
"Miss Weasley!" Professor McGonagall spun around on the top of the landing, glancing down disapprovingly at her intrepid Gryffindor.
"Sorry, Headmistress," Ginny mumbled, before being ushered inside the office. "But, honestly, they're just stock traits. Not every house member must fit into an iron mould—there is always room for deviation."
"And there's always room for deviants."
Ginny gasped and took a staggering step back, bumping into Draco as she grabbed for his hand. Draco glanced over to see his father standing in the corner of the office with two nondescript wizards standing on either side.
"Hello, Draco." Lucius then directed his attention to McGonagall, who had closed the door behind her. "Headmistress McGonagall."
Lucius briefly glanced down at his son holding hands with a petite red-haired girl. Neither shock nor confusion registered on his impassive face. Instead he let his grey eyes travel upwards and linger for a moment on Ginny's face before he greeted her too.
Ginny swallowed hard but did not look away. Instead, she held his gaze while Draco unconsciously squeezed her hand reassuringly. Lucius noted this with faint interest before taking a step towards his son.
"Father, is everything well?" Draco asked hesitantly, unsure of why his father was in Professor McGonagall's office with armed guards.
In the original timeline, Wizengamot had not yet determined Lucius's fate. He was, in fact, being interned at the Ministry where he awaited his punishment. Draco's fate and his mother's, however, had already been decided: Narcissa with no charges placed on her and Draco with all charges dropped—thanks to Potter.
"As well as it can be," he drawled dryly, glancing back at the two wizards who appeared to be his guards. "The Ministry's put me under house arrest rather than incarcerate me at Azkaban." He sniffed haughtily. "It appears there was a lack of evidence when it came to arresting me with something incriminating, besides my earlier crime."
Lucius had served a term in Azkaban before he was set free by Voldemort. The time he had left to serve would be tacked onto his house arrest.
"What about Mother?" Draco asked, hoping that she was still regarded as innocent.
"She hasn't been charged with anything, just like you," Lucius answered tersely, fingering his onyx and ivory cane.
"How long will you be under house arrest?"
"Ten years," he replied stiffly. "Minimum."
Draco furrowed his brow, wondering where this left him. Did he have to go into house arrest with them like his mother volunteered? Could he visit them? Was he permitted?
"So, where shall I be living?"
"Your mother and I will be staying at the villa in Tuscany rather than Malfoy Manor," Lucius answered, much to Draco's relief. "The estate and all properties are now yours, Draco."
Draco made to open his mouth but Professor McGonagall interjected first.
"It's the best way to not have the Ministry seize all your assets," she stated bitingly, glaring at the older Malfoy.
"Indeed." Lucius sneered at the headmistress before regarding his son with a somewhat softer expression. "You're now the sole proprietor of Malfoy estates and have all-access to the coiffures." He briefly glanced back at McGonagall before he straightened his back. "Remember to donate generously to the Ministry and Hogwarts."
Draco shook his head in disbelief. "Forgive my impertinence, Father, but why is it just you here to see me and not Mother?"
"Your mother's busy packing," Lucius said, as though his son had just asked the stupidest question in the world. "I was permitted to come here to personally deliver you my wand." He then unsheathed his wand, handing it and the cane over to his son. "Your mother and I are forbidden to use magic, nor are we allowed house-elves."
Draco let go of Ginny's hand and took his father's wand. "Am I allowed to visit?"
"I do believe scheduled visits are permitted." Lucius briefly glanced back at his two guards. "Your mother is already looking into it." He took a step forward and placed a large hand on his son's shoulder. "Draco, I'm afraid my time here is limited."
"Oh, uh, yes," Draco fumbled for words, unsure of whether to step aside and let his father pass or attempt to awkwardly embrace him. He briefly looked to Ginny for advice.
Lucius watched this exchange and let out a snort. "Draco, you don't need Miss Weasley's permission to give a proper goodbye to your father."
Draco met his father's eyes and opened his mouth in protest. "Father, it's not what you—"
"Unglaub," Lucius interrupted in perfect German, "do you really think your father is that stupid?" A slight smirk angled on his lips before he took a step forward and stiffly embraced his son.
Dumbfounded, Draco lifted his arm and returned his father's singular act of affection with an awkward pat. Ginny, in turn, took a step back and Professor McGonagall reached forward, placing a warm hand on the redhead's shoulder.
Lucius released his son and stood back, doing up the clasp to his cloak. He then directed his attention at Ginny, who met his cold grey eyes with unwavering determination. The corners of his mouth twitched upwards into a sneer before he wiped any telling expression off his face.
"Belette? Honestly?" he asked Ginny in French, slight indignation ringing in his voice. He let out a sharp sigh and walked past her, his expensive shoes clicking on the marble floor. "Well, at least the dodgy old wizard had a sense of humour."
Lucius's two guards stepped in front and opened the door, waiting to escort Lucius off the grounds. With a straight back, Lucius regally made his way towards the exit, stopping short at the door before turning to regard his son.
"Draco, you may believe that I do not understand what it means to be indebted to another, but I do." He briefly glanced over at Ginny and frowned somewhat disapprovingly before stiffly adding, "I may not approve, but I understand."
And with that, he was gone.
After the uncomfortable encounter with Lucius and recounting all that they could about the Time-Turner to Professor McGonagall, the two time-travelling students finally stumbled out of the headmistress's office to their respective beds.
Several hours had passed since their return to their time and it was well-past curfew. Draco, deciding to be a gentleman, escorted Ginny to the towers. The two tried their best to avoid talking about what Lucius had said (or revealed) the entire way.
As they approached the hallway to the tower stairs, Ginny suddenly came to a halt and let out a sharp curse, searching the ground in a panic while she clutched her hand to her chest.
"Merlin's pants! I lost two of my buttons."
Draco sneaked a furtive glance at the redhead's cleavage before slipping his hands into his pockets. "Be glad that's all you lost today."
"I guess you're right," Ginny agreed with a sigh, rubbing a palm along her bare collar. "So, are we just going to pretend that your father didn't figure out who we were back in 1975?"
Draco lightly tossed Lucius's cane in the air and caught it. "That's the general plan."
"And his little 'I may not approve' speech?" she added with a grin, the buttons of her blouse entirely forgotten. "Whatever that meant."
Draco twirled the cane and slowly sauntered towards her. "Yes, we're pretending he never said that either."
"So what exactly are we remembering from that discussion?" Ginny asked coyly, and Draco merely smirked.
He took a step towards her, causing her to back up against the wall. He slowly leaned forward and placed his free hand flat against the wall beside her head.
"That I am now filthy rich, of course," he said in a low timbre that made her judder. "Care to get dirty with me, Weasley?"
Draco's gaze drifted downwards to the shadowed décolletage of her unbuttoned blouse and Ginny blushed under his intense scrutiny.
"Uh, I'm going to pretend that you meant that last part in the nicest, least sexual way possible."
"Sexual?" Draco feigned umbrage, pushing himself off the wall. "You have a perverted mind, Miss Weasley."
"Whatever." Ginny rolled her eyes, but the heat from his gaze didn't leave her. "At least I never made out with my mum!"
Draco suddenly hovered over her again and pushed against the wall. "I will pay you vast amounts of gold to never mention that again."
Ginny tilted her chin up so that her lips barely brushed against his. "What, no threats from Draco Malfoy?"
Draco smirked. "I think you've figured out that my threats against you are idle."
His eyes lingered on her lips and she unconsciously flicked her tongue out to wet them. "So... is this where we go back to hating each other?"
"I suppose so." He brought the tip of the cane to her lips. "But I have to tell you, Weasley, that I really don't have it in me to hate you anymore."
She coloured at the sincerity of his words and tried her best not to squirm under his gaze. "What do you suggest we do, then?"
"I haven't a clue," he said slowly, lowering his mouth to hers, his eyes half-lidded with desire. "But it's not like we need to decide right here and now."
Ginny took in a deep breath and glanced down at her feet, unable to look him in the eye. In turn, Draco put an index finger underneath her chin and lifted; warm brown eyes met his grey. He offered her one of his rare smiles and he gently cupped her jaw, closing his eyes as he lowered his lips to hers.
"Malfoy, I can't." She tentatively put her hands on his chest and pushed him away. "I-I'm with Harry."
Draco, however, would not be easily dissuaded. He pushed her back against the wall, his expression mercurial.
"You were with Potter when you kissed my father and me."
"But it's different now," she said, feebly glancing away, knowing the fight was quickly leaving her.
Draco stood back and gripped his father's cane tightly in his hand. Ginny met his eyes, noting the raging emotions subtly shifting in their steely depths.
"Well then, Weasley, I guess you're just going to have to dump Potter because I don't exactly share well—or at all, in fact."
His grey eyes locked with hers and she felt all the air vacuum from her lungs. The look he gave her was that of determination. He had made up his mind. Could she make up hers?
"I can't, I..." She paused, searching his eyes as she searched her soul.
Ginny knew things were different between her and Draco now. She still cared for Harry. He would always be her hero and her first crush, but she knew her original feelings for him had changed. Four months ago she had been dating Lucius Malfoy, for Merlin's sake! So much for her being some loyal Gryffindor.
Besides, in the end it wasn't Lucius whom she liked. It was Draco. Draco who saved her life; Draco who made her laugh; Draco who made her blush; Draco who made her feel alive. It would always be Draco.
"I think I'm going to tell Harry that I need some space while I figure things out," she said slowly, not quite believing the words that were coming out of her mouth.
Draco smirked. "So are you going to quantify the amount of space you need?"
"What do you mean?"
Draco shrugged. "Well, I mean is this space the exact height, depth and breadth as Potter?"
Ginny let out a short laugh and shook her head before offering him a shy smile. Only Draco would make a pompous joke about Harry at a time like this. Draco smiled back, that beautiful smile of his, and the two stood in the hallway, silently observing the other before he finally turned and headed towards his own dormitories.
"Well, whatever you do, Weasley—" he turned around so that he was walking backwards and talking to her at the same time "—I expect to see Potter at breakfast tomorrow with puffy, red eyes." He smirked and then gave her a cheeky wink. "I didn't save your life so that you could be with him."
Suddenly Ginny was sprinting across the hall and leaping into Draco's arms. Surprised, Draco caught the redhead and stumbled backwards, letting out a muffled yelp of surprise as Ginny wrapped her arms around his neck and brought her lips to his. The kiss was hot and wet, devouring. There was no art to it, but there was passion and longing, and when it finally ended, the two drew away in breathless wonder, their minds empty of all thought.
"I've been waiting for you to do that again since 1975," he said breathlessly, bringing a free hand to her cheek.
"Long wait, that," she said, standing on her toes to reach his lips.
Draco responded by bending down, capturing her lips with his. The kiss was more thorough this time, letting the sensation linger. When he finally released her, she slowly drew back but he pulled her in closer, possessively.
"Hey, now don't regret this, Weasley," Draco said warningly. "I know you Gryffindors are supposed to be loyal—stock trait and all."
"Oh, I don't regret this, Malfoy," she admitted, grinning evilly. "Besides, I've done much worse in the past, especially with your father."
"Ugh, please," Draco protested, looking as though he was about to vomit. "I don't want to know this."
Ginny laughed and put a hand to his chest. "I am loyal, Malfoy, but the heart wants what the heart wants."
"As does the libido."
He feinted to the left, avoiding the redhead's right cross, and caught her wrist with a smirk.
"Prat!" she cursed with a grin. "So... I'll see you tomorrow?"
Draco smiled and nodded, bending down to deliver another soft kiss to her wanting lips. "Tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that for a very long time."
Ginny couldn't help but blush at the clichéd line and stood up on her toes to steal another kiss. "Until you get bored of me?" she asked teasingly.
"Weasley—Ginny, I don't think I could ever get bored of you."
Draco gave her another kiss and let go of her hand, turning around to head towards his own dormitory before the two were caught. Ginny watched him go, giving him a goofy grin when he looked back over his shoulder. Once he disappeared around the corner, she let out a content sigh and began her way to the Gryffindor Tower.
Maybe this was the big change: the relationship between her and Draco. All it took was for them to spend some time with each other in the past—and saving each other's lives.
The mo-vees weren't real, Ginny had finally come to realise. This was no fairy tale ending. Draco was still Draco: he was the boy who had tried to kill Dumbledore and who had let Death Eaters into the school. He was still a Malfoy and their families would probably never get along. However, he was now the boy who had clumsily and painfully defended her honour against his own father and saved her life.
Maybe this was the real change.
The change itself was something internal and it was an experience that could only be shared by the two of them. In the face of all opposition, Ginny Weasley and Draco Malfoy had forged an unlikely friendship and maybe even something more.
Life didn't always have to go according to plan. They could make it up as they went along. And, for some reason, this notion oddly comforted Ginny, as did the feeling of satin smooth lips pressed against hers.
So with an impish grin on her face, Ginny skipped all the way to the dormitories, content that nothing in her world had changed—nothing on the surface at least. She slid her palm along the wall, feeling the texture of the stone, not even noticing the numerous picture frames of the former Ministers for Magic that lined it.
One frame did stick out though, as it was the picture of the current Minister for Magic: Argus Filch.
Author's notes: I bet you didn't see that one coming. It was a cute ending and you know it! ^_~
Thank you to everyone who came along for the ride, and for those who endured a fic named after a pregnancy prevention pill. Yup, I did not think that one through (although, to be fair, I had no idea)... ~Lia