He watched them from across the crowded dance floor, his envious eyes taking in the placement of his hands on her body as they swayed to the music. He watched every nuance of their movements, the slight caresses, the whispered words, and their total absorption in each other. They were oblivious to their surroundings, perhaps only the music penetrating the haze of their world and even that seemed to bend to their will.
His artistic eyes devoured her, taking in every detail of her appearance to later capture on canvas while in the solitude of his studio. His memory would fill in the details that his eyes were now indulging in. It had been at least three years since he had last seen her and in all that time he had not felt the inspiration to paint a subject. But now his fingers itched to feel the brush once again in his hands. To watch as each stroke of brush to canvas recreated the vision before him.
At sixteen, he had loved her desperately, achingly. For a brief moment in time she belonged to him and he felt as if he could conquer the world. She was the first person he had ever allowed to see his sketchbook. They were mostly what he had considered simple caricatures of his schoolmates. But she had insisted that he try his hand at other mediums and to take his art seriously. She was his first serious subject. He recalled her embarrassment when he insisted that she model for him as they sat in the shade of a willow tree on the grounds at Hogwarts.
She was so passionately enthusiastic about his talent. She encouraged him to apply for a scholarship at the L’Institut de Paris d’ Art Magique where he would learn both Magical and Muggle mediums of art. Her belief in his talent gave him the courage to apply. He sent the application and the portfolio of his work and waited anxiously for a response. He was apprehensive, but Ginny was confident that he would be accepted.
After that first initial drawing he had used her again and again as a model. She pushed him to draw still-lifes and landscapes. She recruited other girls to model for him, but she still remained his favorite muse.
She was so beautiful and so oblivious of the effect her beauty had on others, and on him. His body would react to her simplest touch – the power she unconsciously exuded over him made him heady with the knowledge that she was his. At sixteen, she had been his world, and then suddenly, abruptly, his world had come crashing down. To this day he still did not know what had gone wrong. She had been so attentive and receptive to his affections that they were – at least he had thought then – perfect for each other.
Then one day, without provocation, she had become aggravated with him over a perceived slight and she had broken things off. He had tried to speak to her, to make amends for his alleged offense. She was not cruel in her rebuff, but she was adamant in her refusal of reconciliation. He was confused and heartsick. He did not understand what he had done to suddenly find himself beyond the warmth of her affections.
And then – the kiss.
In that single moment he understood. She would not be coming back to him. It was Harry she wanted. The remaining weeks of term were difficult for him. To be witness to their happiness, to see how well they fit together was a bitter blow. He had never seen Harry so happy, so relaxed and open. She had brought that out in him. And she had never been more beautiful. To watch her was torture. She had never looked at him the way she looked at Harry. It was a difficult thing to accept. He knew then that he would always be on the fringes of her life. On the outside looking in – watching her, wanting her and loving her – from a distance.
Then the unthinkable had happened. Albus Dumbledore was murdered on Hogwarts grounds, betrayed by a member of his inner circle. The faculty and student body were shaken to their very core. The funeral held on the Hogwarts grounds was somber – a despair so all encompassing, they did not know how they would rally from such a blow.
He watched them as they spoke in hushed whispers. Harry, a look of sadness and determination on the face that so recently had been giddy with happiness. He watched as Harry walked away from her, never once looking back, leaving her alone, abject and in tears. He wanted to go to her then and comfort her but he could not bring himself to enter the circle of her pain. He sat and watched until she finally stood and walked towards the lake, her body a study in total misery. He returned to his room that night and did his first watercolor painting of her. She stood at the lake’s edge with the sunset a backdrop to her fiery mane of hair. To this day it hung in his flat office along with other drawings of her that were strewn about his flat.
When term began again in September, he was surprised that she had returned without the ‘Trio’ in tow. There was a sadness about her – oh, she threw herself into her studies and the activities that were required of her, but it was as if she was absent, her mind and her heart were elsewhere. She was made Captain of the Quidditch team. She was a Prefect. She volunteered with Madam Pomfrey in the school infirmary. She was an assistant to Mad Eye Moody’s Defence classes. She was top in her class. She laughed and joked, she even pranked on occasion. She was constantly surrounded by friends, mostly boys – which irritated him to no end. But in spite of all of these things there was a melancholy sadness in her eyes – a sense of loneliness which permeated her very being.
She had reestablished a friendship with him of sorts. They were friends, but she maintained her distance, as if she did not want to give him false hopes. He was not foolish enough to try and rekindle their relationship. But he took the friendship she offered and was grateful. He had forgotten about the scholarship he had applied for until he had received a response sometime before the end of their first term. She was the first person he told. He was giddy with excitement and she was just as genuinely pleased as he was that he was accepted. He would be going off to Paris two months after graduating from Hogwarts, he could not have been happier. But it was a bittersweet accomplishment. He had dreamed all those months ago when he first applied for the scholarship of sharing the experience with her. They would find a small but quaint flat in Paris near the Montmartre and live the Bohemian lifestyle. They would be poor, but their love would sustain them. He would be going off to fulfill the dream that she had breathed to life to – alone.
She was especially diligent in her Defence and Healing studies and she urged as many people as she could to prepare for the worst. She had told him that she feared that He Who Must Not be Named would bring the war to Hogwarts. He believed it to be true while at the same time he hoped it would not come to pass. And just as she predicted, before the end of term the Dark Lord had brought the war to Hogwarts – to be fought by students, staff and those still loyal to Dumbledore and Harry.
What the Dark Lord thought to be an easy conquest would end in his demise – a total annihilation for him and his followers.
He had tried to stay by her side during the fighting to protect her as she assisted the wounded. Her role was all the more dangerous as her efforts were spent on the wounded and not her surroundings as the fighting raged around her. She had saved many a life that day and risked her own in the process. She had even attended to his wounds as he continued to throw hexes and curses over her shoulder.
They had managed somehow to find themselves near the fiercest fighting. She was no longer tending to the wounded but fighting for her life against the Dark Lord’s inner circle of Death Eaters as she desperately tried to protect Harry when he found himself in a vicious battle with Lord Voldemort. And just when all appeared to be lost and their magical reserves and energies all but depleted, an immense magical wave of light spread across them, forcing everyone in its path to their knees and the Death Eaters first writhing in agony and then silent in death.
The battle was over and side of Light had won.
He watched again as Ginny ran to Harry’s unconscious body. He watched as she cradled him in her arms, her tears washing over his dirt and blood stained face.
“Don’t leave me Harry. Don’t leave me here alone. You promised me.” She kissed him, softy, tenderly.
“Don’t leave me here alone. I love you – I love you.” She cried over and over as she rocked him in her arms, his head cradled to her breast, her voice a broken sob.
They were surrounded by the survivors of the battle. Hermione sobbed in Ron’s arms as tears streamed down his face. Her brothers circled around her like sentinels. They all stood in disbelief and in a fractured desolation and hopelessness. It could not have come to this end. Not Harry, they could not lose Harry.
And for a brief moment – a brief flash of thought, for which he could still feel guilt – he was relieved at the outcome. He could have another chance with Ginny! He saw brief flashes – of comforting Ginny in her grief, of her turning to him in her despair over Harry’s death. But just as quickly her sobs broke through his thoughts and he realized that his love for her would be an unselfish thing. He could not stand to see her grieve and suffer so.
Into all this despair came a long gasp for breath, a heaving of chest, and then Harry’s eyes snapped open. Dean had heard of how moments could be frozen in time and he and the others that surrounded the couple were witness to a moment that seemed to be frozen in eternity.
Before their eyes was a volume of emotions and words that had been suppressed for too long. Those assembled looked on in awe and reverence as Harry’s hand slowly raised and his fingers lightly caressed her cheek. Ginny closed her eyes in contentment, a soft smile of utter bliss on her lips. She opened them slowly as his fingers slowly crept across her cheek and then became lost in her hair as he pulled her down into a kiss. Harry was heard to whisper into the silence that surrounded them, their lips barely touching, “I love you.”
She smiled against Harry’s lips, the words a caress on his mouth, “Until the day I die”
In that defining moment in Dean’s life, he had let her go. By no means had he forgotten her. He compared every woman he ever dated to her and found them lacking. Nevertheless, he knew her happiness would always be Harry’s to fulfill. He loved her enough to wish her happiness beyond his own making.
He had not seen her again until their wedding day a year later. He was rather surprised that he had received an invitation. He should not have been invited, but both Harry and Ginny had generous hearts. And they were both secure enough in their love that inviting an ex-boyfriend to the wedding would not be a threat to either.
He had taken Parvati Patil as his date to the wedding as she had also been invited. They had been dating for almost a year and for a while he had thought that their relationship would go further. But after a while he realized he just could not bring himself to a more serious commitment with her. She really was a great girl, once you got past all her superficial concerns about her looks and fashion. She was kind hearted and affectionate. But she just was not Ginny. Soon after Harry and Ginny’s wedding they had broken things off.
The wedding was held at the Burrow. And what a beautiful wedding it was.
Ginny was an ethereal creature to behold. Her wedding robes were styled in a medieval design. It was white silk, trimmed and embroidered in gold thread. She wore a gold chain belt at her waist. Her hair was shrouded in a veil made of spun gold that sparkled brightly as it caught the light. It was rumored that the veil was a wedding gift from the Goblin High Council of Gringotts. Her glorious hair fell to her waist in waves of copper fire, intricate braids interspersed with small, delicate golden fairies. She was Queen Guinevere come to life.
It was also rumored that Harry wore the robes of Godric Gryffindor himself. At his waist the very sword that had defeated a Basilisk for his ladylove all those years before.
The ceremony was a traditional Magical wedding. The couple had also chosen to perform a Magical Bonding Ceremony. It was very rare indeed for such a ceremony to be performed and one that had not been witnessed in centuries. It bound the couple in this life and the afterlife. Their life-force would also be bound. One could not survive without the other. Upon the death of the one the other would soon follow. It was not surprising that they would choose such a bond. There was no doubt in the minds of those present that with or without the bond that neither would wish to continue on if they were lost to each other.
There were no dignitaries or members of the Ministry or Wizengamot, unless they were friends or had a personal or familial attachment to the couple. Only friends and family were invited, and Dean was honored to be among the invited.
He watched her from across the crowded dance floor that evening as well. He did not approach her for a dance. He could not bring himself to. Not without the longing he knew he would feel grip his heart.
He watched as she danced with her father and each of her brothers in turn. She danced with Neville, Seamus and Michael Corner. She even danced with Flitwick, and while it might have seemed comical to watch the diminutive Professor with the much taller witch, it was quite endearing to see as she smiled at him sweetly as they danced. He recalled how Charms was one of Ginny’s favourite subjects and how she held a special affection for the always jovial and encouraging Professor.
But when Ginny and Harry danced, it seemed as if they were witness to something magical. He was never one to believe in the mumbo-jumbo that Trelawney always sprouted about auras. But that night, a golden glow seemed to surround the couple whenever they were together. According to Trelawney a golden aura was rare and signified a profound love and the joining of two souls. And if Trelawney was to believed, then Harry and Ginny were truly soul mates.
So here he stood two years later, once again on the fringe of her life. Watching as she danced with her husband, oblivious to all around her but the man in who held her in his arms.
The music had come to an end and the band announced that they would be taking a brief intermission. The spell that surrounded them was broken. They turned and walked off the dance floor. Harry’s arm around her waist, his hand resting on her hip.
They were stopped by an overly dressed dandified Wizard who appeared to be asking Harry for his political convictions in a pompously loud voice. Ginny smiled at Harry mockingly, she touched his arm lightly to garner his attention. Harry looked down at her tenderly, smiled and nodded in consent to her brief announcement. She walked off in the direction of the banquet table. Dean, without much thought, decided to follow her.
As he approached her, he noticed absently that her cheeks were flushed from the heat or perhaps from dancing. She was dipping a ladle into a punch bowl and pouring herself a cup as he sidled up to her.
“Hello Ginny.” Dean’s voice was whisper soft, an unknowing caress in his voice.
Ginny turned surprise-filled eyes upon him and smiled with genuine pleasure. She set down her cup on the table.
“Dean!” she gushed and proceeded to place her hand on his chest for leverage as she stood on her tiptoes to place a brief kiss upon his cheek. His chest felt warm where her hand had lingered briefly and his cheek tingled where he could still feel the warm wetness of her lips.
“It’s been ages since I’ve last seen you. How’ve you been?” She continued to smile at him in a friendly way.
“I haven’t seen you since your wedding. Heard you and Harry went on an extended honeymoon.”
“Yes, well. I guess you could say we combined a well deserved vacation and our honeymoon. It was the most wonderful experience of my ‘young’ life!” She laughed. He loved Ginny’s laugh – it was a contagious thing. He couldn’t help but laugh with her.
“We traveled around the world, Dean! We visited both Wizarding and Muggle tourist locations. We even dressed as Muggles while we were in the Muggle tourist spots. It was great. We never had to worry about being recognized. We were just another honeymooning couple. And while we were in the Wizarding world, we would use the most outlandish disguises and came up with the most outrageous aliases.”
She laughed heartily, “Unfortunately Harry’s favorite alias was Mr. and Mrs. Harold Peaches.”
“Giving away our secret aliases, Gin? Now we’ll have to Obliviate Dean, because I am not giving that one up.” Harry sidled up beside her and smiled at Dean as he stuck out his hand in greeting.
“It’s good to see you again Dean,” Harry said.
“Same here Harry. You’re looking good,” he observed.
“I’m happy. Can’t help it. She makes me go all scatty.”
“I can see that. She has that way about her, doesn’t she?” Dean looked over to Ginny to see that she was blushing profusely in embaressment.
Harry smiled down at her tenderly. “Yes. Yes, she does.”
In what appeared to be an effort to change the subject, Ginny asked, “So where’s your date? I can’t imagine coming stag to such a tedious Ministry affair as this.”
“I’d have to disappoint you, Gin. I’m here for the Daily Prophet and I truly did not want to subject a date to the torture of having to attend such a mundane affair.”
“Ginny wanted to bow out too, but I blackmailed her into coming with me.” Harry teased as he looked down at his wife who spluttered in mock indignation.
“I’m the one who had to blackmail him into attending this event. He still can’t believe that the day would ever come when a Potter would step foot in Malfoy Mansion.”
“You and Malfoy still arch enemies? I thought you’d come to terms after the battle?” Dean questioned.
“We did. That doesn’t mean I like the git.”
“Harry had a hard time accepting Malfoy’s offer of assistance Voldemort’s demise,” Ginny added.
“It was a hard thing to accept from the man who had a hand in Dumbledore’s death. To me it was like accepting the hand of a demon to defeat the devil.”
“Or to believe his motives, I would imagine. After all he would be going against his own father,” Dean observed.
As he finished speaking, the band had returned and began their set with a soft tune. Before he could think better of it he asked, “Would you like to dance Ginny?”
Ginny turned to Harry for approval. “You don’t mind, do you, Harry?”
Harry smirked at her. “No, Baby. I don’t mind.” Ginny narrowed her eyes at him and then laughed.
Confused by the interchange, Dean turned to Ginny held out his hand to her expectantly. “Shall we?”
She placed her much smaller hand in his as he escorted her to the dance floor.
He brought her into the circle of his arms and into the dance before curiosity got the better of him.
“Ginny, if you don’t mind my asking, what was that last bit all about between you two?” Dean was genuinely curious as to what seemed to be a private joke.
“It’s silly, really.” She looked up at him as she answered. “That was just Harry’s way of telling me who I belonged to. As if I needed reminding. The wanker.” She laughed.
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“It’s that he called me ‘Baby’. I – well it’s rather personal. Suffice it to say he’s the only person I would ever allow to call me ‘Baby’.”
When the expression on his face remained puzzled, Ginny added, “It’s an endearment Dean. One I am rather fond of.”
“Ah.” Dean raised an eyebrow at her.
They were silent for a moment before Dean spoke again. “This is a bit of a fantasy fulfilled”
“Oh? How so?”
“I’d never danced with you while we were dating.” He paused and then added, “It was something I’d always regretted. Among other things.”
She seemed to be uncomfortable with the topic of conversation and changed the subject rather abruptly. “I was so pleased to see your Political Cartoons in the Prophet Harry and I quite enjoy them everyday over morning tea. You have quite the acerbic wit, Thomas.”
“Yes, well there is something to be said about poking fun at the Ministry and getting paid good money for it.”
A small frown crossed her features. “I’m happy for your success, Dean, really, I am.” She looked deeply into his eyes before continuing.
“Your cartoons are very popular. I’ve been told they are the cause in a major increase in sales for the Prophet.”
She looked away for a moment, then turned her eyes upon him once again – searching for the answer in his eyes. “But I am rather disappointed that you didn’t pursue your artistic aspirations. What happened?”
He took a deep breath before answering. “I’m not quite sure, really.”
He was quiet for so long that she obviously thought he might not continue. Taking another deep breath, he decided to open up to her in a way he had not been to another living soul in a long time.
“After the war, I sort of lost my way. I lost my desire for my art. The passion it had once held for me. The things we saw that day Ginny – it took me a while to get over it. As the Muggles say, I was shell-shocked. When it came time for me to go off to Paris, that feeling had not gone away. At the time I thought I could perhaps attend the following year, if the spot was still open.”
“And then life just got in the way. The job at the <i>Prophet</i> sort of fell into my lap. Colin Creevey was working there as a photographer. We met by chance one day at the Leaky Cauldron, and over a pint of Butterbeer, he mentioned how the paper needed someone to do ‘reenactment’ drawings for those times when an eyewitness photographer was not present to represent certain stories. He remembered my caricatures at Hogwarts and recommend that I apply.”
“Surprisingly, I got the job. It didn’t really require much effort on my part and I didn’t have to work at the Prophet office. I could just turn in my assignments to the editor. It paid well and it was a cushy job.”
The music had changed to a faster paced tune. They stopped dancing. Dean looked around in search of Harry but did not see him.
“Do you mind if we find a table where we can continue?” he asked.
“Not at all. Please.”
He placed his hand at the small of her back as he guided her off the dance floor and led her to a table that was secluded enough to offer them privacy as they continued their conversation.
He looked at her searchingly, taking in her beauty. His fingers were itching to draw her as they talked, just as he had done when they were together at Hogwarts.
“Go on, Dean, please continue,” she prompted softly, placing her hand on the arm that was resting on the table. She left it there in silent encouragement.
“You remember how I used to doodle on just about anything, essays and test? Even my letters to you were full of my doodling. Do you remember, Gin?”
She smiled warmly. “Yes, Dean. I remember”
“Well, one day without realizing it, I turned in one of my assignments with a drawing of Fudge and Scrimgeour dancing a Gavotte, dressed in white wigs and 18th Century clothing while Voldemort conducted a Chamber Quartet of Death Eaters in the background.”
She laughed outright. “I would’ve loved to have seen that!”
He laughed with her. “I have a copy of it. If you like I’ll send it to you?”
“Oh yes! That would be wonderful. Harry would love that.”
Dean lost his pleasure a bit at that.
“How did you come up with that sketch anyway?” she asked.
“I had read an Editorial that morning on how both Scrimgeour and Fudge had both been finely played by Voldemort’s machinations during the war and it just popped into my head.”
“You’re very talented, Dean. I always said you were.”
He smiled. “Yes, you always did. You were the only one that ever did actually,” he confessed.
She scoffed at that. “I find that truly hard to believe.”
“It’s true, Gin. You’re the only one who ever truly believed in my art. Others said I was good or that they liked what I did or that it was pretty.” He snorted in derision.
“But no one ever told me I had talent and that my art inspired them or brought them joy or that it made them think when they looked at it. Other than the cartoons for the paper, I’ve not drawn or painted since Hogwarts.”
He put his hand over the hand she still had placed on his arm. He looked at her intently, his eyes roaming over her precious face. “I’ve not had the desire to – until now.”
He could see that she was uncomfortable, but he could not bring himself to turn back. He wanted to be open before her. If only for tonight, this moment, he would tell her what was in his heart.
“You, Ginny. It’s always been you.”
He saw her expression turn from worry to shock. Her body which only moments before was turned towards him in an intimate gesture of friendliness, straightened slightly away from him.
“There you are, Love!” Harry’s voice caused them both to jump slightly in their seats.
They both looked up to see Harry with an open smile upon his face as he strode towards them.
“Ron and Hermione just arrived. They’ve been asking for you.”
As he reached them, he took in their position at the table and his smile widened as he looked toward Dean and joked, “You ask to dance with my wife, Thomas and then I catch you holding hands in a darkened corner. Should I be questioning your intentions? You do realize I am ‘The Man Who Vanquished the Dark Lord’, right?”
Dean gave him a weak smile in response. He turned to watch Ginny’s reaction and caught her putting her hand on Harry’s arm for attention.
“Harry, can I speak to you for a moment?” she asked him softly.
Harry lost his smile at the serious expression on his wife’s face. He held out his hand to her to assist her from her seat. “Of course, Baby. Excuse us for a moment Dean.”
They walked a few steps away for a moment of private conversation. Dean watched as she placed her hand on Harry’s chest as she gazed up at him and spoke. After a few moments of conversation Harry turned to Dean and looked at him briefly before turning back to Ginny. He placed his hand on her cheek, lowering his head to kiss her lingeringly. He lifted his head and looked at her for a moment before turning and walking away. Dean saw Ginny turn to face him. She stood still, staring from across the way, and then appeared to take a deep breath before walking towards him.
“Would you take a walk with me, Dean? I am told that Malfoy Manor has the most exquisite gardens.”
He was amazed and grateful for her generous heart. Any other woman would have taken advantage of the interruption to make her excuses from what she knew would be an awkward and uncomfortable conversation. Perhaps she sensed his need for closure, his desire for confession and release.
“I would like that, Gin.” He rose from his chair, extending his arm to her. She placed her hand in the crook of his arms as they strolled towards the French doors and the veranda that lead to the Malfoy gardens.
It was a crisp spring evening. The cool air felt good upon his flushed skin. This was the closest he had been to her in three years and he relished the experience. The smell of her perfume, her hand upon his arm, the brush of her gossamer gown on the legs of his pants, the contrast of their colouring, his dark complexion against her own alabaster skin. To him she was beauty personified. He would cherish these few moments with her to the fullest.
They walked in silence, their steps slow, unhurried and in sync. It was a pleasant stroll through the nineteenth century stylized garden. The flowers hid their colors from them as the late springtime blooms closed their petals for the evening. They came upon a gazebo, the white lattices gleaming in the moonlight and drawing them in like a beacon. Its gabled blue tile roof and climbing white and red roses clung to the trellises. They climbed the short steps and in silent agreement sat on the circular benches that lined the gazebo rails.
The silence was broken by Ginny’s voice, low and hushed, as if in deference to their surroundings.
She turned to face him “Dean, I want to know why you gave up on your dream. I cannot bear the thought that you would abandon it on the excuse of something as frivolous as a school crush.”
He turned to her sharply, anger and hurt flashing in his eyes. “Do not mock me, Ginny. Or belittle what I felt for you, <i>still</i> feel for you. It does not become you.”
She was taken aback by his reaction, but ploughed on. “Dean it was a school romance, we dated less than a year. You cannot possibly tell me that you based your reasons on that alone for not pursuing your talent. For Merlin’s sake! You were sixteen and I was barely fifteen!”
A humourless laughed escaped his lips. “Really, Ginny? And when did you realize you loved Harry? Was yours not a school romance? Are you not now married and bonded to your Hogwarts sweetheart?”
He stood abruptly and walked to the other side of the gazebo railing. It was painful to look at her now, but he needed to exorcise her ghost.
“Is it so hard for you to believe that I loved you then? That I still love you – completely, utterly –irrevocably? You haunt me, Ginny; I am in love with your ghost. I look for you in other women and they are found wanting in my eyes. I see your face when I make love to them and it torments me.”
“Going to Paris wasn’t just my dream, it was our dream. I wanted you with me, Ginny; you were my passion, my inspiration, my muse. When the time came to leave for the L’Institut de Paris, I couldn’t bear to go without you.” His breath hitched in his throat and he stopped speaking for fear of making a greater fool of himself that he already had.
He did not hear the rustle of fabric and her soft slippered footsteps as she approached him slowly, but he did feel her hand upon his back and the other take his hand from behind.
And then to his surprise he felt her cheek upon his back and he swore that he could feel her breath permeate through his dress-robes as she breathed out in a hushed whisper, “I’m sorry.”
He closed his eyes inhaling her perfume and underneath that the scent that was Ginny. Reveling in her closeness if only for this moment.
She tugged at his hand and drew him back to the bench. She took both his hands in hers her eyes searching his face.
“I’m sorry,” she repeated. “I did not mean to mock you or belittle your feelings. And I am sorry that I cannot return them. I’m sorry that you gave up your dream because of me. I’m sorry that you haven’t been able to move beyond this.”
She smiled at him ruefully. “Dean, I think you’ve placed me on a pedestal, glorified me beyond the realm of mere mortal women.”
He opened his mouth to protest, but she held up her hand. “No, please let me finish. I am flawed Dean, very flawed. Just ask Harry. I have a wicked nasty temper. I’m a terrible housekeeper; I’m messy – very messy. I’m as stubborn as a mule. I’m the ‘hex first and ask questions later’ kind of witch. It’s gotten me into a lot of trouble.”
She chuckled. “I Bat-Bogeyed Harry once, it was one of our worst rows let me tell you.” Then she smiled wickedly at him and said, “But the make-up sex was epic. Broke our bed that time.”
“Ginny! Please!” he groaned.
“Sorry.” She didn’t seem the least bit repentant to Dean and it must have shown on his face, because she added. “Said that for the shock value. Inherited the trait from the Twins I’m afraid.” She laughed outright at his expression.
“We married so young, so we’re kind of growing up together. After that row, we promised never to use our magic against each other.” She smiled fondly at what Dean supposed was a memory of her time with Harry.
“Anyway, I digress.” She took a breath and continued.
“I’m not discounting what you feel for me Dean. But I don’t want you to live your life loving the girl you knew at sixteen. The time we had at Hogwarts was idyllic, romantic. We never rowed, we enjoyed the same things. We shared your love of Quidditch. And we shared your passion and love for your art and your dream to study in Paris.”
“No, Ginny, it was more than that, so much more. You were mine, then. For that brief moment in time, you were mine. I thought that with you by my side I could do anything. You made my art come alive, it was nothing before you. I built my future dreams, hopes and aspirations around you.”
“When you broke things off with me, I was blindsided. I couldn’t understand what I had done. And then, you kissed Harry. Well, it shattered all my illusions, all the dreams I had built around you. I – I was lost.”
“That’s just it Dean. I want you to build other dreams, new dreams. You are going to reapply to the L’Institut de Paris, then...”
“I’m too old for that now, Ginny, even if they would have me. And what about my job at the Prophet?” Dean protested
“Pishtosh!” she exclaimed, then laughed.
“That sounded like my Mum. Sorry that’s one of her expressions for whenever we dared argue with one of her decrees,” she explained.
“Anyway, what I meant to say is, that’s total and utter nonsense. You’re too old! You’re only 22, for Merlin’s sake. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, not behind you, you pillock. And weren’t you the one that said that you didn’t even need an office at the Prophet because you turned in your assignment via Owl Post? You can still work for the Prophet if you so desire. But I am willing to bet that will only be for a bit longer once you’re on the road to what you really desire.
She placed her hands on his cheeks. He closed his eyes at the contact and then opened them to stare into her eyes.
“I want you to listen to me, Dean, not just with your ears; I want you to listen with your heart. You’re going to Paris, you will rent that flat in Montmartre. You will wake up each morning to the sound of street vendors as they peddle their wares in a language not yet familiar to you, but which will become second nature by the time you decide to return to your native England.” She smiled at him. “While a man with a hand organ sings La Vie en Rose.” She laughed at her own stereotype.
“For breakfast you will walk to a nearby open air café that serves strong sweet French coffee and croissants that melt in your mouth. You will Apparate to the L’Institut, where you will learn your craft.”
“For lunch you will take a stroll along the Seine until you reach the Musee du Louvre and each day you will take in Muggle Art Exhibits and you will soak in the art until they become a part of you. Once your afternoon sessions at L’Institut have ended, you will return to the Louvre and tour the Magical Art Exhibit. You will come to love and embrace both worlds of art. Just as with your magic and your Muggle world.”
“I know you will fall in love with the Orientalists, just as I did. The passion, the color, and the richness of the culture will grab your heart and never let you go. Your first study in oil will be a tribute to the Orientalists, a reclining Odalisque in all her lush glory.”
“On the weekends you will begin your tours of the Museums, the Musee d’Orsay and Auguste Rodin. And just to spite me because you know I detest modern art, you will visit the Musee National de Picasso.” She laughed and he in turn could not help but laugh with her. She had often argued with him about the travesty that was modern art and how it was an insult to the classical periods.
She caressed his cheeks with her thumbs as she spun her dreams for him. He closed his envisioning the world she was creating for him.
“And one day while you promenade through the Louvre’s Gardens and Tuileries you will come across a woman seated on one of the garden benches. You will pass by her and smile at her in greeting and she will return your smile. That evening as you return to your flat her face will linger in your mind as you remember her glorious black hair and fair complexion, the smile that took your breath away and the lavender eyes that shone with such life.”
“You will see her the next day as you once again stroll through the gardens that you have come to know so well. Again she will return your smile only this time her smile is accompanied by a greeting and her voice will be as a caress to you.”
“After several such meetings you ask her for coffee and to your pleasant surprise she accepts. You agree to meet again for coffee the next day and then the next and the next. And then one day she accepts your dinner invitation. You learn that she is a student as well and to your even greater pleasure she is also a witch. It would not have mattered to you if she were Muggle, by this time you are smitten. You begin to tour the Museums together during the day and explore Paris at night.”
“Before you realize what has happened she has stormed the defenses of your guarded heart. And when you make love to her one lazy afternoon in your Paris flat, you will realize that you have exorcised my ghost and I am nothing but a happy memory of a girl you once knew at sixteen and your heart will belong to her in all its fullness.”
“You will have your first Exhibit in England many years later and your friends and loved ones will be in attendance. On that day you will introduce me to your lovely wife and to the beautiful children your love has created. With their caramel skin, black hair and lavender eyes. You will look upon me and see a friend who loves you and wishes you happiness and joy. A friend who laughs with you in pleasure at the love you have created and the dreams you have fulfilled.
He felt a brief but sweet kiss upon his cheek. He opened his eyes.
“This is the dream I have for you. Will you embrace it for me? Have the courage to seek it, Dean. I promise you that while it may not exactly conform to my images, if you have the courage to seek it out it will come to you.”
“I will do everything that is within my power to help you fulfill that dream, Dean. Both Harry and I will visit you in Paris. And I am sure Bill and Fleur will be happy to ask the Delacour’s to sponsor you while you are in France. No, I will not be at your side as you had once dreamed, but I will be with you in my heart. Will you do this, Dean, will you embrace this dream with me?”
The images she had painted for him washed over his mind and heart. They were as vivid and real to him as the colors on his painter’s palette. He would embrace them and even though she had included a woman for this dream, he knew in his heart of hearts that she would always have a special place that was all her own. Yes, he would embrace this dream.
“Thank you Ginny,” he said simply. And with those words she understood the wealth of things that were left unsaid.
“Good. Now, the first thing you and I will do is visit the National Gallery in London, that is, after I help you send off that application to L’Institut. We’ll need to sublet your flat or you can sell it. We need to plan what you will be taking with you and what goes into storage and…”
He laughed at her enthusiasm, this was the Ginny he remembered. He had no doubt that she would follow through on her offer to help him off to Paris and that she would recruit as many people as she could to that endeavor.
“Whoa, Ginny. I think I should take you back to Harry, before he thinks I’ve made off with his wife, don’t you?”
She blushed. “Sorry, I went into Mum-mode again.” She gave a self-deprecating laugh.
They walked back to the Ballroom and sought out Harry. They found him at the edge of the dance floor in an animated conversation with Ron and Hermione.
She slipped her hand into her husband’s and kissed his cheek in greeting.
“Look what I brought back with me,” Ginny said as she greeted her brother and sister-in-law.
“Blimey! Bloody Hell Dean! I haven’t seen you in ages, mate. How are you?”
They gave each other a manly embrace and then Dean greeted Hermione with a kiss upon the cheek.
“You’re looking lovely this evening, Hermione,” he complimented her, making her blush in pleasure.
“Oi there, get your own witch, this one’s mine!” Ron said in mock indignation.
They spoke for what seemed like hours of their time at Hogwarts and subsequently their years after. After a while, the couples made their excuses and headed to the dance floor once again as a slow tune was played.
Once again Dean stood on the edge of the dance floor as he watched Harry and Ginny. And as before he was mesmerized by the magic they exuded as they swayed to the music. His eyes once again roamed over her every detail. He would remember this night and immortalize her on canvas one last time.
For a brief moment in time she had belonged to him. But he would no longer look upon it with bittersweet nostalgia. He would remember her as the girl how had given him a dream all those years ago. How that dream had been swept away by separation and war. And how on this night, she had helped him create a new dream to follow.
AN: I want to thank all those who have left reviews. Your praise and encouragement are greatly appreciated. There are no words to express my gratitude.
Special thanks to Cel for editing. The Devil is in the details. You were right and when you're right you're right!