May 21, 2011
Author's Note: The last chapter! Thank you for reading! n_n

February 20th, 2018
Author's Note: The end of this chapter has been revised to remove a tasteless joke I'd written in. I've grown and learned since I originally wrote this story in 2010. I know better now, and I apologize for taking so long to correct my misstep with this chapter, even though someone pointed out my offense several years ago. Thank you so much for reading.

Falling Away With You
So I'll love whatever you become
And forget the reckless things we've done
I think our lives have just begun

In the months since Draco had left The Cottage, he had kept in touch with the Whites. On Lucy's personal recommendation, Draco had earned his first post-Azkaban job—first any kind of job—working in a flower shop in Diagon Alley. The Malfoys still did not want for anything, even after the heavy fines they had paid at the end of the war, but because of his stay at The Cottage, Draco was now used to laboring daily, and the flowers comforted him.

He never would have imagined himself spending his freedom doing chores, but as long as he earned money for his trouble, it seemed like a worthwhile occupation. And his job delighted his mother, who was still convinced that surrounding oneself with beauty was life's cure-all. She also liked to employ his help in the gardens at the manor every now and then, when she decided the house-elves that usually tended them were too incompetent to manage.

Draco didn't mind the flowers. He never would have admitted it to a single living person, but he imagined that the orders they received at the store had been cut by Ginny. He usually drowned saccharine thoughts like that with copious amounts of alcohol, but seeing as how he was working now, that option wasn't feasible—at least until his shift was over.

For the most part, Draco agreed with his mother's theory: the flowers had done wonders for those traces of magic left by the Dark Mark—and for his nightmares. Since he'd left the Cottage, those nightly horrors had become once-in-a-while occurrences. Working in the shop, Draco felt more at peace with himself and the war, more forgiving of his own actions and of the hand Fate had dealt him. And he'd found that he actually enjoyed working with flowers.

"Excuse me," a voice said from the other side of the counter.

"Hold on just a moment," Draco answered as he wrestled with a ribbon that refused to tie itself around a rather small bouquet. A few seconds later, the bow waved one of its cut ends at Draco, as if sticking its tongue out at him.

Setting the bouquet aside, he looked up and said, "I'm sorry. What can I do—"

Behind the counter stood Ginny, looking at him with bright, round eyes. She seemed transformed since the last time he'd seen her: she was... smiling—at Draco, of all people. She may have been smiling uncomfortably at him, but it was a vast change from the scowl that used to adorn her face whenever she'd spoken to him at The Cottage.

Draco cleared his throat. "What can I do for you?"

"I ordered a bouquet of camellias. Pink."

He eyed the bouquet with the difficult bow shrewdly before placing it on the counter in front of her.

He had to be honest. His heart was racing away, like the little bird flapping its wings not so long ago. It had been months since he'd last seen Ginny, and he hadn't heard word of her at all. When he'd written to the Whites, he'd had to force himself not to ask about her, and without him asking, Lucy had never volunteered the information that he wanted. He had always wondered if she did it on purpose, to make him ask, or strictly to keep Ginny's privacy. Probably both.

But here Ginny was, being as pleasant as anything—even more pleasant than she'd been with Jimmy. Her hair had grown longer, he noticed, but it still looked just like the sun. He wanted to touch her skin to see if she still carried its warmth around with her.

"How common," Draco said to her as she sniffed one of the camellias in the bouquet. As soon as he'd said it, he closed his eyes in exasperation, wondering why his mouth filtered out the polite things to say to her.

"They're my favorite," she said with a small smile that made him think strange thoughts about wash cloths and kisses in flower gardens. "Can I get a card to send with these?"

Wordlessly, Draco pulled out a card and waited for her to dictate her message, except that his mouth refused to wait for anything.

"Sending good ol' Jimmy some flowers, eh?"

She smiled, a tiny, crooked lift of her lips that Draco had never seen before. "Oh, no. These are for someone else. But Jimmy's doing well. He'll be delighted that you're thinking of him."

Draco wondered when he had gotten bad at making fun of people. She was completely unfazed.

"What would you like to say?" he asked quietly, ignoring her previous comment.

"I forgive you, and I'm sorry," she replied softly.

Draco had started to write the message—until the words sank in, that is. He put the quill down, his eyes unable to leave her embarrassed face.

"I'm really sorry," she said. "I didn't know how to deal with everything. Including you. Especially you."

"Me?" he asked, his mouth bone dry. "What happened to that deliveryman?"

Her face turned red, and her eyes darted down to the counter.

"I was so stupid. I just wanted someone to hold me, and when that wasn't enough for him, he left."

"The day you kissed me," he said, the idea dawning in his mind suddenly. He remembered the anguished expression on her face, the way her kiss had scorched and pained him with its heat and despair. It had been his despair as well, because he'd thought she was something he could never have.

"I should have never used you like that. I wasn't... right. Back then. It's no excuse, of course, but please forgi—"

Draco held up his hand, refusing to hear those words from her lips. The war had killed a piece of everyone, and Ginny had nothing to apologize for. He understood now, and that's all that mattered.

But she kept on. "Lucy said, the day you left, you told her to tell me that you loved me."

"She—I did?" Draco asked, shocked.

"Didn't you?" she replied, her grip on the bouquet tightening.

"I... I don't know. I didn't have the chance to finish what I wanted to say. Maybe I did love you," he said, his eyes lowering to the camellias. "Loving you would have been... hard."

She laughed slightly at that. "I'm sure it would have been. I didn't make it easy. No wonder the deliveryman didn't want me."

Draco closed his eyes. Took a breath. "Don't say that," he said.

"Can't run from the truth," she replied wistfully.

Draco had a feeling she knew how futile it was to try.

"When Lucy told me that," she continued, "I started wanting to get better. I held onto those words. They pulled me through."

"How's that?" he asked as casually as he could, with a disinterest that failed to be disinterested because of how breathlessly he spoke.

She fiddled with the bow tying the flowers together, stroking the ends of the ribbon until she nearly pulled it apart.

"I thought... if you could love me—you, who I had hated for so long—you, who I had wrongfully blamed for my brother's death—you, who I had been so cruel to while you were at The Cottage—if you, of all people, could love me, then maybe there was a life for me back here. Outside of The Cottage." She licked her lips, her eyes shifting from her hands up to his face. "Even if you wouldn't want me anymore, just the thought that you once had, and that I had been too self-absorbed to notice... that saved me more than anything the Whites did."

Draco didn't know what to say. He swallowed dryly and itched to reach out to her, if only her hands were within reach. The counter separating them was an obstacle that he wasn't sure he should overcome. Maybe it was a shield, but who was it protecting?

And suddenly the words seemed so very obvious, and when he met her eyes, his gaze was severe in its intensity.

"I did want you. You made it difficult, you made it hurt, but I did, and I still want you now. I never stopped wanting you."

Her eyes fell closed and she exhaled heavily. "You'll have to forgive me. I wasn't—"

But Draco interrupted her. "Really, these flowers are hideous," he said, gently taking the bouquet from her and staring at it with disgust. "You worked in a flower garden for who knows how long and the best you could come up with were camellias?"

There was just nothing for him to forgive. He couldn't hold it against her that she hadn't known how to deal with her grief. What had he done with his? Hidden it behind silence. He couldn't blame her for not giving him a chance to love her. It hadn't been the right time for either of them; they hadn't been in the right frame of mind.

For a moment, Ginny let shock show on her face, but then the fire Draco had grown used to seeing while they were at The Cottage appeared in her eyes. Their apologies and regrets were not forgotten, just forgiven.

"What's wrong with them?" she asked in outrage. "I love them. They're soft and pretty and more than you deserve."

"Maybe so. But did you never think that I might have a favorite flower as well?"

Her cheeks grew the same color as the flowers that made up her bouquet, but in good form she continued their faux argument, never letting on that he'd surprised her. "Of course not. Why would I ever consider sending you your own favorite flower? That's just the most ridiculous idea I've ever heard!"

They were both leaning over the counter, nose to nose, and Draco didn't think he imagined her gaze darting down to his lips and back. No, he hadn't imagined it. So he did the only thing he could think to do and obliged her, hoping all the while he hadn't made a grave mistake.

In fact, when his lips crushed against hers, her surprise lasted only a second before she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. The counter dug into his stomach uncomfortably, but his discomfort didn't matter because she tasted just as he knew she would: like sunshine and flowers—the camellias she loved, to be exact. They were both a little breathless as they pulled away, the air between them thick and heavy and sweet.

Her fingers came to her lips in astonishment, and with a dazed expression, she said, "Fine. You've convinced me the camellias were all wrong. What's your favorite flower, then?"

Draco gave her his best smirk. It had been a while since he'd used it on anyone.

"Well, if you must know, I prefer tigerlilies."


Original prompt:

Briefly describe what you'd like to receive in your fic: I want to see a real connection. It doesn't have to be a romantic one (though that's always a plus). I just want them to see each other as what they need to get through it.
The tone/mood of the fic:
Angsty, but redemptive
An element/line of dialogue/object you would specifically like in your fic:
One part (or all of it somewhere! That'd be extra challenging) of this chunk of lyrics from 'Undisclosed Desires' by Muse:

I want to reconcile the violence in your heart
I want to recognize that your beauty's not just a mask
I want to exorcise the demons from your past
I want to satisfy the undisclosed desires in your heart

Preferred rating of the the fic you want: Any
Canon or AU? Either
Deal Breakers (anything you don't want?): I don't like fluffy Draco, or weak-willed Ginny.