Authors note: Yes, I'm still writing this story. This chapter has been long in coming because real life got in the way. It happens sometimes, kids. I still do intend to finish this story, but you must be prepared to bear with me for a while. I have what amounts to every other chapter of part one written, but unless I fill in some gaps it's going to make for some seriously disjointed reading. Keep checking for updates, though, because there will be some over the next few months. Cheers.

As things with Draco's father were still uncertain, Dumbledore insisted that Draco spend Christmas in the confines of Hogwarts. Ginny entertained the thought of asking her parents if he could stay with them over the two week break, but Draco had put the kibosh on that almost immediately after Ginny mentioned it.

"There's no way in hell I am spending that amount of time under the same roof as all of your brothers." Draco stated after a particularly good make out session. "Ron was easy enough to avoid when I was at the Burrow, but this would be different."

"But Draco, you'd be all alone here." Ginny replied as she settled her head on his bare chest and pulled the blanket up to their waists.

The rendezvous this evening had taken place in the Room of Requirement. It was only the second time they had found themselves without a place to shack up for a few hours, but it was by far the most comfy. Inside they found a pile of cushions in the centre of the room in all shapes, sizes and colours. The pile was curtained off from the rest of the room by four flimsy white silk sheets that were suspended from nowhere and swayed in a non-existent breeze.

It was the perfect setting in which to snog for five hours.

"Better to be all alone than get my head smashed in when I give you a Christmas present in front of your family." Draco retorted and shifted his weight a bit.

Ginny smiled into his torso. "Well," she purred. "You know what the solution to that is then?"

"What?"

"Don't get me a gift. At least, not anything tangible. Wait until everyone's in bed and then come up to my room and...Oh!" Ginny's eyes rolled back in her head as Draco moved out from under her and began to kiss his way down her exposed stomach.

Draco looked up from the spot right above her belly-button and regarded her. "Well tell me, Miss Weasley. If I'm not supposed to get you a tangible gift, then what should I do with this?"

Ginny looked down her stomach at him, confused. It took her a moment to realise he was holding a black velvet box in his right hand.

Then she gasped and bolted upright.

She grabbed the box from Draco and flung herself at him. Her action unbalanced the Slytherin and he toppled over, falling off the pile of cushions and through the gossamer curtains. He landed on his back, on the cold stone floor, with Ginny on top of him.

"You got me a present? I can't believe you got me a present!" Ginny half-squealed. She was now fully erect and straddling Draco's slim waist.

He smiled up at her and placed his hands on her thighs. "Well, it seemed only natural that I, your boyfriend, get you, my girlfriend, a Christmas present."

"I love it!" Ginny declared and bent to kiss him soundly on the lips.

Draco grinned, despite himself. "You haven't opened it yet. How can you love it if you haven't seen it?"

"Because it's from you and you have impeccable taste. It's bound to be expensive, pretty, and make everyone who sees it go mental with jealousy."

Draco laughed. "Yes, well, this is true. I do impeccable taste" He sat up so he was supported by his elbow and nodded at the box in Ginny's hand. "Open it, wench."

Ginny grinned at the use of her "pet name" and opened the square velvet box. Inside, on a black velvet cushion, was a ruby in the shape of a heart the size of her thumb. It was on a slender gold chain which Ginny saw when she took the necklace out of the box and held it up to the candlelight.

"Oh Draco," she whispered and tears sprung to her eyes. "I've never seen anything like this before. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen."

Draco grinned lopsidedly at her. "Well, it hardly compares to you, but it is a nice size." He moved out from under Ginny and took the necklace from her hands. "The pendent itself isn't the best part, though."

Ginny looked awestruck. "Really?"

Draco shook his head. "No," He brought the pendent up to his lips and kissed it. The red stone glowed from a brief second, and then Draco handed it back to her.

"Hold the ruby up to the candlelight." He instructed and Ginny did.

Her heart skipped a beat when she realised that there were words, etched in gold, that were appearing on the ruby as if they were being written before her eyes. It was in a language she didn't know, but she suspected it might be French.

"What does it say, Draco?"

"Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaƮt point." He replied instantly, the words flowing from his mouth like honey poured over silk.

Ginny's eyes sparkled. "And what does that mean?"

"It means, 'The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.'" Draco took the necklace from Ginny again and unclasped it. He moved behind her and placed the necklace around her throat. When it was secure he went to sit in front of her again.

"That is such a beautiful saying." Ginny breathed, trying to hold back her tears. She couldn't say why she was on the verge of crying, but she knew she didn't want to shed any tears on such a happy occasion.

"It's a saying that rings very true, at least for us." When Ginny tilted her head, confused, Draco took her hands in his. "Reason dictates that we shouldn't be together, Ginny. It says that the logical thing for us is to do is hate one another. It says we're too different to be lovers and friends. But my heart says that you are the only woman I have ever loved, and the only person who has never judged me, even when I was being a complete arse." Here Draco shrugged. "My heart has its reasons."

Ginny's lip quivered and she launched herself again at Draco. She threw her arms around him and hugged him, hard, until he was laughing and gasping. She planted kisses on his neck and cheeks and, finally, his mouth. When she withdrew, Draco was smiling.

"You are, perhaps, the most romantic sod on the face of this planet." Ginny concluded and wiped at her eyes. Some tears had managed to leak out when she was crushing Draco, but she hurriedly got rid of the evidence.

"Well, don't tell anyone. I've got a reputation to maintain."

Ginny laughed, then clapped her hands over her mouth. "I didn't get you anything." She said, panicked.

Draco shook his head and waved at her in dismissal. "Don't worry about it. We didn't talk about exchanging gifts and this was an impulse purchase anyway. It just so happened that I had it made before Christmas."

Ginny barely heard him as she wracked her brain to try and think about what she could give him. Then, she reached up into her hair and took out one of her barrettes. It was green and sparkly, but it would have to do.

"Here," she said and thrust the barrette at Draco.

He raised his eyebrow. "Thanks, but it's not really my style."

Ginny rolled her eyes, but smiled. "Oh, shut up." She scooted closer to him and took the pin from his hand. She looked around for his shirt and when she found it she placed the bobby pin on his breast pocket, attaching it so that the sparkly bit was showing.

"There," she said when finished and handed Draco his shirt. He looked at the pin, then at her, then back at the pin. "What? It's something to remind you of me. You can wear it without anyone seeing it if you have your robes on. When you don't you can put the pin someplace else, like, um, on your boxer briefs or wherever."

"On my pants?" Draco asked, perplexed.

"Or wherever," Ginny rolled her eyes again. "It's green." she said as if that was all the explanation she thought he needed.

"Yes, but it's a girl's hair thing." Draco replied as if that was all the explanation he thought she needed.

"Look, I'll get you something else over hols, but I feel bad that I'm wearing something of yours and you have nothing of mine. Those are my favourite pair of barrettes, I'll have you know. I wear them all the time. Now, you can surreptitiously wear something that I treasure."

Draco looked like he was going to argue, but then thought better of it.

"Fine, then," he relented after a moment. "I will treasure your sparkly green hair thing always, my love." he said, deadpan.

Ginny sighed heavily. "You are such an arse."

"A romantic arse, Ginny. Don't forget romantic."

Ginny smiled and looked down at her pendent. The words were gone. "Do the words disappear?"

"Yeah," Draco nodded and moved so that he was behind her again. He pulled her so that she was leaning into his chest and he rested his back on a stack of silk cushions. "They disappear after a few minutes. If you want to see them again you just have to kiss the ruby like I did before."

The two stayed like that for a long time, saying nothing. Every once in a while Draco would run his hands up Ginny's side, or kiss her shoulder, but no words were exchanged. Ginny loved these comfortable silence that they shared. She didn't feel the need to talk, or to listen, and it was brilliant. They could just be.

After what seemed like hours Draco murmured, "We should probably get you back to Gryffindor Tower. It's late and you'll be leaving first thing."

Ginny groaned and turned into Draco's arm. "I can sleep on the train. I don't want to leave just yet. I'm very, very comfortable here with you and I think if I were to move it would make me very, very grumpy."

"Well, Merlin knows we can't have that." Draco replied, and she could tell by his tone that he was smiling.

"Draco," Ginny began and moved her hand behind her to caress his cheek.

"Yes, my redheaded vixen?" She giggled as Draco moved his tongue lightly over her palm and planted soft kisses at random.

"I know the perfect Christmas present to give you."

Her tone made Draco pause in his ministrations of her palm. "Oh? And what would that be?"

"Well," Ginny purred and slowly moved around in his embrace so that she was facing him. She traced lazy patterns on Draco's chest, her eyes wide and innocent. He suppressed a shudder. "I could give you...me."

Draco's heart sped up and his breath hitched. He swallowed past a lump that was suddenly in his throat. "You, huh?" His voice was barely above a whisper.

Ginny nodded, her hair tickling his abdomen.

Draco swallowed again past the lump. He reached down and ran his hand through her hair. His breath hitched again as she closed her eyes and purred into his hand. "That sounds like one hell of a gift, but-"

He stopped when her eyes popped open and she glared up at him.

"But? Are you saying you don't want me?" Ginny demanded and pushed away from him.

"No. Merlin, no." Draco shook his head and took a deep breath. He was trying with all his might to keep control over his body, but was finding it very difficult. "That's not at all what I am saying, Gin."

"Well, that's what it sounds like, Draco." She said, her tone a mixture of anger and hurt.

"Ginny, I want you in more ways than you can imagine, and quite possibly in ways that you can't. I want you in ways that would get me sent to Azkaban for a few years if anyone found out." Draco caught her gaze and held it: grey eyes locked on blue. "I can assure you the issue is not my lack of desire for you."

Ginny's lower lip quivered ever so slightly. "Then what is the issue?"

"I think we should wait for a bit." Draco replied, candidly.

Ginny raised an eyebrow at him. "Pardon?"

"Yeah, I know," Draco rolled his eyes. "The big, bad ladies man is saying he wants to wait before having sex with his ridiculously gorgeous girlfriend." Draco took Ginny's face in his hands and smiled sweetly at her. "I just want our first time to be special, to mean something."

"It would mean something though. It would be your Christmas present." Even to her own ears that sounded incredibly silly. Draco's expression told her he thought that as well.

"Gin, we only started speaking two days ago. We've had fight after fight and now that we're finally ready to give this a go I don't want to mess it up by jumping into your panties."

Ginny grinned wickedly. "They're lace, you know."

Draco threw her a withering look.

"Okay, sorry." Ginny relented and sat herself on Draco's lap. "You're right. It should be special for our first time and we should make sure that we can get through a month without throwing hexes at one another."

"Exactly," Draco grinned. He wrapped his arms around Ginny's waist and tugged her to him. "Besides, that's an unbelievably cheap way to get out of buying me a Christmas present."

The next morning Ginny woke up refreshed, despite only getting about three hours of sleep. The high that followed seeing Draco always lasted for a while and was enough to carry her through at least breakfast. When they had parted the night before Draco promised that he would write to her every day and tell her how not boring it was at the castle and how he didn't need her to keep him entertained. Ginny had laughed at that, outwardly, but still felt bad that he had to spend his holiday alone.

When Ginny entered the Common Room it was to find Harry, Hermione, Ron, Neville, and Luna all clustered around the lit fireplace.

"What are you all up to?" Ginny inquired as she got closer the small group.

They instantly broke apart and stopped talking.

"We were waiting for you, Ginny." Hermione said almost too cheerily.

Ginny could tell they were talking about something and they didn't want to include her, but for the first time it didn't bother her. She followed as Hermione moved toward the portrait hole and was surprised to note that Harry was beside her.

"Hey Gin." he greeted amicably.

"Hello, Harry." Ginny replied cordially.

"About the other night, Gin..." Harry hesitated and looked over at her.

"Oh, Harry, don't worry about it." Ginny replied. She smiled warmly at him. "We kissed. It was nice. It doesn't mean you have to put a ring on my finger."

Harry frowned. "So, you're okay with just being friends?"

"I'm okay with it, Harry. We were caught up in the moment and it's no big deal. I shouldn't have reacted the way I did, or put you on the spot like that. It was a childish thing to do and I apologise."

They had reached the Great Hall by this point and Harry stepped aside to let Ginny walk in before him. She was happy to see that he had a relieved look on his face.

"There's no need for you to apologise, Ginny. I was the one who kissed you." When Ginny turned a quizzical look on him, he said hurriedly, "Not that I didn't want to kiss you. It's just...well...I don't really..."

"You're not looking for a girlfriend?" Ginny supplied as she poured herself some pumpkin juice, then filled up Harry's goblet.

Harry sighed, relieved. "Yes. I'm too preoccupied at the moment with...things."

"Voldemort things?" Ginny buttered herself some toast and took a bite.

"Yeah, and I don't want to involve you in what I have to do because it's too dangerous and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if something happened to you."

Ginny smiled sweetly and patted Harry's leg. "I get it, Harry. I do. It's okay."

"Wow," Harry breathed as he took a bite of his toast. "I'm really glad you're not cross with me. I'm really glad you understand."

Ginny smiled at him, but didn't get a chance to respond because just then an owl swooped down and landed in her porridge.

"Oh!" she cried and plucked the owl from the bowl. "What a mess!"

"It looks like there's a bit of parchment on its leg." Ron observed between mouthfuls of egg.

Ginny was busy wiping her breakfast off the owl, so Hermione undid the ribbon and looked at the bit of paper. "It's addressed to you, Ginny."

"Really? Okay, off you go, silly owl." She had just finished mopping up the little bird when it took to the air. In another second it was out one of the windows at the top of the hall. Ginny took the proffered parchment from Hermione and unrolled it. It said:

I miss you already.

~AB

Ginny smiled furiously. Draco had signed it AB, after her pet name for him, which was arrogant bastard. Her hand went unconsciously to her throat, to the ruby heart, as she read and re-read the note. Images from the night before popped into her head unbidden, and Ginny felt a warmth grow in the pit of her stomach.

"Who's it from?" Her brother asked through a mouthful of porridge.

"Oh it's just a note from...from Dean." Ginny was careful to avoid any of her friends eyes as she took a sip of her pumpkin juice. She stuffed the parchment into her jeans pocket and picked up her spoon. "He was apologising again about the ball and wishing me a Happy Christmas."

"Well, that's nice." Harry said, but something in his tone made Ginny frown. She decided to ignore it and began to dig into her fresh bowl of porridge.

"Hey Ginny, where did you get that necklace?"

Ginny's spoon froze halfway to her mouth. She looked up and right into the inquiring brown eyes of Hermione.

"It was a gift." Ginny said simply and prayed Hermione would leave it at that.

She was disappointed.

"It's so lovely." Hermione said and reached out to touch the ruby at Ginny's throat. "Is that a ruby?"

Ron chocked on his pumpkin juice. "A ruby? You mean that thing's real? It's huge!"

Ginny frowned and fingered the rock. "Yes, it is a real ruby. What's the big deal? They're not that expensive." she said, hoping that she was correct.

"Actually," Hermione said, her lower lip caught between her teeth. "They are rather expensive." At Ginny's look she added, "But that's not the point. The point is it was a gift and it was very thoughtful."

"Who gave it to you?" Harry asked. He was eying the necklace with something akin to mistrust.

"I'd really rather not say." Ginny's heart was beginning to race. She should have taken the necklace off, or worn something with a high collar. "I promised I wouldn't."

"Was it Dean?" Ron asked, looking rather indignant.

"Why does it matter?" Ginny asked, irritably.

"It doesn't." Hermione piped up. She smiled apologetically at Ginny and placed her hand placatingly on Ron's arm. "Does it, Ronald?"

Ron looked like it did matter. A great deal, in fact, but when he saw Hermione's expression he sighed and shook his head. "No, I suppose not."

Ginny let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. She needed to be more careful. It wouldn't do to have her friends asking those sorts of questions.

"It will matter to Mum, though." Ron said, a smug smile on his face.

"Oh, shut up." Ginny demanded, but she was smiling too. It was the Christmas hols and they would be leaving on the train shortly. There was no reason to be gruff with any of her friends. The only thing that spoiled her happiness was that she wouldn't get to spend Christmas with Draco.

As if reading her mind Harry said, "Malfoy's been weird lately."

Ginny snapped her head up and stared at Harry. "What makes you say that?"

Harry was looking across the hall and over at the Slytherin table. Ginny followed his gaze and saw Draco squished between Pansy Parkinson and Vincent Crabbe. Pansy had her arm snaked around Draco's shoulders and was laughing raucously at something one of her house mates was saying. Draco was smiling, too, but he didn't seem to be paying much attention to what was going on around him. At that moment he looked up and met Ginny's gaze. His features softened for an instant, then he was back to sneering.

"See what I mean? That was a perfect opportunity for him to shout something nasty across the hall to me, but he didn't." Harry shook his head and took another sip from his goblet.

"Yeah, the other day I passed him in the hall and he completely ignored me." Ron piped up around a mouthful of toast.

"So that means he's acting weird?" Hermione looked puzzled.

"Well, Malfoy never passes up an opportunity to be cruel. Its not in his nature." Ron replied.

Ginny tried to make her face void of any emotion other than nonchalance. "Maybe he's in the Christmas spirit."

"I hear Malfoy has to spend Christmas here because his father refuses to allow him back at Malfoy Manor." Seamus supplied, clearly listening in on their conversation.

"That's not true," Ginny growled before thinking. When Ron, Harry, Hermione, Seamus, and Neville all turned confused stares on her she continued. "I mean, I don't think that's why he won't be at Malfoy Manor this Christmas."

"His father did try and kill him." Hermione said. "Maybe Dumbledore won't let him go back."

"Well, whatever the reason, maybe Malfoy will give us all a Christmas present by way of chucking himself off the Astronomy Tower." Ron growled, shooting daggers in the Slytherin's direction.

"Ron, what a horrid thing to say." Ginny gasped.

"It's Malfoy, Ginny. Or have you forgotten all the times he was nasty to you?" Ron retorted, defensively.

She thought back to the time Draco called her a silly little girl and swallowed. "I haven't forgotten." she said, meekly. "That still doesn't make what you said right, though."

Ron opened his mouth to retort, but suddenly Hermione's hand was covering it. "Okay, enough talk about Malfoy. This is Christmas, people. We are to be merry and bright from here on in. Got it?" She surveyed her friends around the table with her best "Mum-Hermione" expression.

Everyone nodded and Harry even mumbled, "Yes, Hermione."

With a nod Hermione dropped her hand from Ron's mouth and stood up.

"Right, we have some carriages to catch." She gestured for Ron and he quickly swallowed a mouthful of toast. He and Harry stood at the same time and began to follow Hermione out of the hall.

Ginny tried to hang back, but found herself caught in the tide of students exiting the Great Hall and making their way out the front of the castle. She could still see Ron, as he was very tall, but she was trying to put some distance between them and herself so she could look around for Draco without being caught. She looked all around her, but all she could see were students hurrying past, bent forward against the chill of the December morning. She saw no sign of silver-blond hair among the throng.

Feeling her heart sink Ginny hurried up her pace in order to catch up with her friends. She could see Ron helping Hermione into a carriage and tried to wend her way through the masses, but she didn't appear to be getting any closer. It was silly of her to think he would be there to see her off. After all, they'd had a great send off last night and there was no reason for him to risk being seen just so she could glimpse him one last time.

"Ginny, hurry up!" Someone shouted above the din. It was Harry and he was hanging out the back of one of the covered carriages. He was gesturing to her wildly. "Hurry!"

Ginny picked up her pace again, but everyone was standing too close together. She pushed and she shoved, but no one was letting her through any faster. Suddenly, Ginny was falling. It happened so fast she didn't even have time to throw her hands out in front of herself to brace her fall. With a cry she landed on her face, a patch of snow the only thing to break her fall.

She heard a high-pitched laugh from behind her and pushed herself up. Ginny whipped around and saw Pansy Parkinson laughing her head off, and leaning quite heavily on Blaise Zabini while she did so.

"Oh," Pansy was gasping and holding her sides. "Oh, that was too funny. Thanks for the Christmas present, Weasel."

"You tripped me, you pug-faced bitch!" Ginny roared as she advanced on Pansy. The Slytherin girl shrank back only a bit, tightening her hold on Blaise's arm.

"I did no such thing." Pansy shot back, her lips curled into a sneer. "You tripped over your own two feet."

Ginny was almost positive she had not tripped over her own two feet. Rather, she was quite sure Pansy had stuck out her foot and tripped Ginny because Pansy was a stupid cow. She was about to tell the Slytherin girl as much when she heard her name being called. Ginny turned just in time to see the carriage holding her friends take off down the lane toward Hogsmeade.

"Aww, look at that." Pansy cooed behind Ginny. "Whittle Weasel missed her carriage."

In a blind rage Ginny spun back around and punched Pansy Parkinson in the face, just like her brother's had shown her how to do. With a cry Pansy went down, almost dragging Blaise with her, but the tall dark-skinned boy had enough sense to let go of her first.

Feeling utterly satisfied Ginny stepped over Pansy and sneered down at her. "Happy Christmas, you stupid cow."

Ginny turned on her heel and stalked off. As she walked people parted to let her through, and they stared at her as if seeing her for the first time. She could hear Pansy sobbing behind her, but all it did was bring a smile to her face.

"You know, Weasley, that was incredibly sexy." A voice drawled in her ear. Ginny's heart sped up, but she dared not look beside her.

"Really? You like watching girls beat each other up?" she inquired, keeping her gaze firmly planted on the ground in front of her.

"As I recall, you did the beating." Draco drawled, and there was a quality in his voice that made Ginny shiver.

"She deserved it." Ginny replied simply.

"Yes, she did." They stopped at the back of a covered carriage and Draco disappeared into the back. A moment later he stuck out his hand and Ginny took it. When she was inside Draco said, "She did trip you. I saw it."

She settled back in her seat and turned to face Draco, who was sitting down beside her. "What are you doing here?"

"I am taking a trip to Hogsmeade." Draco replied, like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Ginny smiled and reached for his hand. He took hers and drew it under his black velvet cloak. "How were you not seen by anyone?"

Draco grinned. "I'm just that good." He settled back into his seat. The carriage started forward and Ginny looked around wildly.

"How is it that we have a carriage all to ourselves?" she inquired, though she wasn't very surprised.

"Simple: I put a confundus charm on the back of the carriage so anyone who approached it got confused and walked away."

Ginny laughed. "You are incredible, you know that?"

"Yeah, I do." Draco nodded and leaned in to kiss her mouth. " However, it's always great when someone else acknowledges it, too."

As Ginny leaned into the kiss with Draco, she moved her hands down his sides and up under his shirt.

He started and pulled away from her. "Merlin, Ginny, your hands are freezing. Don't you own gloves?"

Ginny grinned. "Maybe." She pinched one of his nipples and he wiggled away from her. "I couldn't do that if I had gloves on, though."

Draco shook his head and took her hands out from under his shirt. "You are a wench, you know that?"

Ginny straddled his lap and took his head in her hands. She bent her head and slid her tongue across his lips. With a groan Draco opened his mouth to her tongue and met her with his own. The two kissed passionately for a few seconds and then Ginny broke away.

"Yeah, I know," she replied, her eyes glittering with mirth. "But it's always great when someone else acknowledges it, too."

Draco grinned as Ginny slid off his lap and settled down next to him once more. "Oh, by the way," he began and reached into a pocket in his cloak. "I've been meaning to ask you about this." He handed her a bit of parchment."Every time we get together, though, I end up preoccupied and I forget to ask."

Ginny opened the parchment and smiled. It was the poem she had sent him a while back. He'd kept it after all. She knew he'd gotten it, but he hadn't acknowledged it and so she thought that maybe he'd thrown it away after one of their fights.

"Why did you sent it to me?"

"The poem reminded me of us." Ginny said and looked over at the gorgeous blond sitting next to her.

"Let me guess," Draco said and took the parchment from her. "I'm ice and you're fire?"

Ginny shook her head. "No, see that's what everyone else would say. I think we are a bit of both."

Draco cocked his head slightly. "Do you?"

"Yes," Ginny brushed his cheek with the back of her hand. "I do."

"Well," Draco said and he smiled wickedly. "You are a stubborn wench sometimes and when you get mad..."

"Well, you may like people to think you're a big, bad Muggle hater, but I know you're just a big softie."

Draco looked at her for a moment before speaking. He seemed to be studying her face, like he was seeing her for the first time. "Don't tell that to anyone, though. I-"

"Have a reputation to maintain?" Ginny finished for him with an exaggerated roll of her eyes. "I also sent that poem to you after one of our fights, so I was a bit cross with you. I realise it's rather dark."

"I like it, though. You're right it does sort of speak to the nature of our relationship."

"Speaking of your reputation...how do you propose getting off this carriage without anyone seeing you?" Ginny inquired, her eyes sparkling. "I mean you are good, but that good?"

Draco chuckled and drew Ginny to him. He rested his chin on the top of her head and rubbed her arm. "Don't you worry about me. I'll be fine."

The way he said it send warning bells off in Ginny's head. She pulled away from him suddenly and studied his face. "You will be safe here, right? At Hogwarts, I mean."

"Of course." Draco replied quickly. Too quickly for Ginny's liking. He was also doing his best to avoid her gaze.

"Draco, your father won't come here looking for you will he?" Ginny asked, panic making her voice go up an octave. She hadn't even thought about that before. She was so wrapped up in the holiday spirit and in the events of the last two evenings with Draco that she'd barely given a thought to his safety.

Still Draco refused to meet her gaze. "I'm quite sure my father won't bother with me, Gin."

"But you can't be certain."

"There would be no reason for him to come looking for me. I think he fears Dumbledore."

Ginny grabbed Draco's chin and pulled his face toward her none too gently. "You aren't at Hogwarts, though." Her panic sloshed around in her stomach until she thought she might be sick. "What were you thinking leaving the grounds?"

Now Draco did look at her, but his expression didn't make Ginny feel any better. "I wanted to see you off." he replied, innocently. His eyes, however, were a hiding something. Something big.

Ginny made a strangled sound. "At the risk of your own well being? Draco, this is crazy. Why am I only realising now that this was a bad idea?" The last bit she said more to herself than to Draco.

"Ginny," Draco said placatingly. "You're making a big deal out of nothing."

"Nothing? Draco your father wants you dead, or so you've lead me to believe. You are staying at Hogwarts over the holidays for your own protection and you leave the grounds to see me off? How is that nothing?"

Draco was spared any type of response when the carriage came to a halt. They were at Hogsmeade station. Ginny could hear the train and all the students. She stood up abruptly and pulled Draco up with her.

"Promise me, Draco. Promise me you will stay on this carriage and you'll go straight back to Hogwarts. Don't get out at Hogsmeade." she pleaded. She didn't even realise she was shaking him until Draco disentangled himself from her grip.

"Ginny, you're being silly-"

"Promise me!" Ginny shouted at him despairingly. "Or I swear to Merlin I'll hex you so you can't move until you reach the castle again."

Draco blinked at her tone.

"Okay," he nodded, his eyebrows furrowing with concern. "If you're that upset about it. I promise to stay in the carriage and go right back to Hogwarts."

Ginny collapsed into his embrace with a sigh. He held her for a few minutes, neither of them saying anything. She fought to subdue her sense of terror. When she was sure she was composed once more she pulled away from Draco.

"Be safe and owl me as soon as you can." She whispered and touched his cheek gently.

Draco nodded and tucked a stray bit of hair behind her ear. "I will."

They walked together to the back of the carriage and Draco held the flap open so that Ginny could climb down. When she was on solid ground she turned back to face him.

She forced a smile onto her lips. "Happy Christmas, Draco."

Ginny could tell Draco's smile was forced as well when he replied, "Happy Christmas, Ginny." He waited until she was out of earshot before he added, softly, "I love you."