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Chapter 8 : Chapter 7
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Passing through the Entrance Hall, Ginny looked away for a moment to find none other than Draco Malfoy, his silver eyes practically burning a hole into their joined hands as they passed. He looked up and met her gaze; even she couldn’t quite read the emotion there. However, knowing how important keeping appearances were, she gave a small nod of assent and he immediately adopted his usual condescending sneer.
“Well, well, it’s finally happened,” he drawled lazily from across the way. “Honestly, despite your positively primitive upbringing, I really expected you to have better taste, Weasley.”
“Jealous, Malfoy?” Ginny instantly remarked, trying her hardest to sound coolly distant. “I know that Harry has been quite desirable as of late, but please try to wait your turn.”
Harry snorted behind his free hand, and small spots of color appeared high up on Draco’s cheeks. He managed to compose himself fairly quickly, and smirked as he sauntered closer to her. Too close.
“Very funny, Weasley,” he said in a low voice that he had never used to taunt them before. He reached out and touched one lock of stray red hair that had fallen from her messy bun. “Why don’t you owl me when you’re ready for a real man?” This time, it was Ginny’s turn to feel her face catching fire under his gaze. She quirked her eyebrows—do you really mean that?—and he gave one of the subtlest nods she had ever seen. Then Harry made a threatening noise in the back of his throat, and Draco backed away with the smirk still intact.
It took Ginny a few moments to catch her breath after that display of Draco’s, and when Harry continued tugging her along she had to force herself to scoff and shake her head. “He’s so daft, isn’t he?”
Harry smiled, so charming, and laughed with her. “Pansy must not be performing well for him to make innuendos at a Weasley,” he joked, tugging on one of her strands of hair as well. There was a different feel to it than when Draco had done it, but it was still nice.
After a few similar incidents in the halls, Ginny grew brave again and the meetings with Draco continued, despite her continuously-crammed schedule. Her budding relationship with Harry caused more quarrels with Draco than she was like to admit, but she knew that there was more to Draco’s increasingly bad temper and foul moods. He had only mere weeks left to fulfill his task for the Dark Lord, or he and his family would die. She brought more books, but they oftentimes went unread when she would enter the room and find Draco crumpled on the floor, utterly convinced that he was either going to fail and die or succeed and lose her. He sometimes would snap out of it long enough to remind her that her OWLs were coming up, but she didn’t listen. Some things, she decided, are more important than exams.
Hermione, however, was less understanding.
“Ginny Molly Weasley, your OWLs are the second-most important examinations you will take in your entire school career!” the older girl nagged for the umpteenth time that week. Ginny nodded along benignly, feeling more irritated by the moment and longing to simply find a good roomy broom cupboard to occupy with Harry. But even her boyfriend had other ideas, and insisted the next day that she prepare for her exams as well, even though he was just as reluctant, and so she begrudgingly set to it.
The following weeks of studying were almost gruesomely dull, but necessary, and went by much faster than she had ever hoped. The next thing she knew the year’s end was nigh and Harry and Draco were nowhere to be found. Hermione forced her to swallow a teaspoon of some golden potion that forced her to calm down and feel better even as worry gnawed at her insides. Her worry was like a dull ache; if she busied herself with other things it was not so bad, but when she was still, she could feel the pounding of her heart like the gallop of a frenzied stallion.
Hermione called an emergency DA meeting, and only Neville and Luna showed up. Ginny and the blonde girl were to be sent down to watch Snape’s door for odd activity while Hermione, Ron, and Neville patrolled the Room of Requirement corridor for signs of Malfoy, but Ginny made Hermione switch places with her, claiming that she wanted to cause Malfoy pain for ruining what should have been a good year for them all. Hermione gave her a sort of “don’t be stupid” look and allowed the change to happen.
They all set off in a flurry of nerves and adrenaline, walking up and down the Room of Requirement corridor. Ginny thought she knew what to think of when walking by the door, but was horribly afraid of what—or who—they might find if the door opened to her.
As if some invisible man had nudged her around, she turned on her heel just in time to see Draco’s white-blonde head looking out the Room’s door. She reflexively shouted “MALFOY!” It was out of panic that somehow his father was near, that same little girl still terrified of the man who had traumatized her so deeply, not wanting the others to see Draco. Naturally, he panicked as well upon seeing her face, and flung out a handful of Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder, the sort that Fred and George sold at their shop, and they were swallowed by blackness.
She felt rather than saw Ron opening his mouth to bellow curse words at Draco, and grabbed blindly for him to keep him silent. Neville took her other hand and pulled them to the wall as an alarming number of footsteps came their way. There was a low, sadistic sort of chuckle past them, and she had to tighten her grip on Neville’s hand to keep him from jumping out at Bellatrix Lestrange. Then, she could hear Draco breathing heavily as he reached them; Ron’s arm snaked around her shoulders as a muffled sob (of feigned frustration and of true horror) escaped her. Naturally, hearing a sound beside him in such darkness, Draco’s footsteps faltered and he stopped. He lingered so long before them that she was concerned he might be able to see them. Then her hand reached out where Ron couldn’t see, and one finger brushed against Draco’s Hand of Glory.
Everything, even time, seemed to slow to a screeching halt as they stared at one another in that moment of perfect vision. She was the only one in the world at this very moment who could see his bone-deep terror for what was to come, and only she knew that tonight his mission would have to be completed one way or another.
Fail, and I watch then kill my family before they kill me; succeed, and I lose you, she could practically hear his voice repeating itself again and again, as if she could hear his thoughts, and she felt a roiling dread that this would be the last time she saw him.
Time suddenly started up again and only a moment had passed, and then Draco was gone to fulfill his duty or die, leaving her in the dark silence yet again. When they were certain all of the Death Eaters had passed, they felt their way out of the corridor and began guessing which way they had gone. It was then that she realized her robe pocket was scaldingly warm.
“How the hell didn’t they fall all over themselves getting out?” Ron spat out once certain there was no one around.
“I thought Malfoy had surely seen us for a minute,” Neville panted, looking paler by the moment. Ginny shook her head at them both, trying to look convincingly confused.
“I think he had a Hand of Glory,” she said gently, nearly wincing when Ron instantly looked to her. “I-I think I brushed against it as M-Malfoy passed, because for a second I could see everything around. I don’t think he noticed me, though.”
Both of the boys were so preoccupied with finding the Death Eaters that they didn’t question why Malfoy didn’t seem to see them at all, and she breathed a sigh of relief. When she was certain no one was watching, she checked the coin in her pocket that may have been burning for hours now.
DON’T LEAVE YOUR TOWER. TOO DANGEROUS.
Her hands began to shake. Too late.
She didn’t see Draco again that night; if he had passed her during the battle, she had missed it. The fight had been short, but with a devastating end to it. Her oldest brother, mauled half to death, and Draco’s task fulfilled. Dumbledore was dead.
Ginny moved from day to day in a blur of aftershock from the battle, until finally the time came for Dumbledore’s funeral, and she realized how selfish she had been. She had no idea what Harry was feeling for the past few days. She could make guesses, but there was no definite way to find it out for sure now. When the realization dawned upon her, she made a solemn vow to herself that, if she would never see Draco again, then she would do her best to stay with Harry through all the hardships life brought them. She wouldn’t leave him. He would have to leave her, and she didn’t see that happening.
When it happened, she had to admit to herself that it was a relief, but only a small one, because the instant she had made herself the promise, she had known it was a mistake to force oneself to love someone. If she loved Harry as much as she told herself she did, then things would work themselves out. She said goodbye to Harry with a smile on her face and the hope that he would find someone who made him feel just as alive as she did with Draco, so that even a war couldn’t bring them apart.
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