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Grieving by Mynuet
Grieving by Mynuet
His fingers took her arm with gentle authority. "Miss Weasley, you have my sincerest sympathies, but we must--"

"No!" she shouted, tearing her arm from his grip. "No, I'm not leaving him!" She ran to where he lay, blond hair stained dark by shadows and blood. "Ron, help me!"

"Ginny, it's no use, you heard Dumbledore," her brother said, and she felt his hand brush the hair from her neck in a comforting gesture. "We have to go, you know that."

Tears streamed down her face and she shook her head, leaning over Draco and brushing his hair gently away from his eyes. "I won't go. I won't leave him."

Ron's grip on her shoulder turned hard. "Ginny, the roof is collapsing, we don't have time! If we don't go, we'll die!"

"GO!" she screamed. "Leave, go back to Hogwarts, I don't care. If he dies, I die."

He shook his head in utter disbelief, unable to comprehend how deeply his sister felt for the boy he had always despised. Before he could say anything further, though, Dumbledore reached past him, touching his wand to Ginny's forehead. She slumped down next to Draco, her hair fanning out to shield both of their faces from view. "Take her, Mister Weasley," the old man said sadly. Ron nodded and gathered his sister close before apparating to join Harry and Hermione at the designated spot.

Over a week later, Ginny had not spoken another word. If she was guided through, she would eat, mechanically, or visit the bathroom, but without prodding she did not attend to even the most basic tasks necessary for sustaining life. It cast a pall over the celebrations of Voldemort's final defeat, to see Ginny staring into the middle distance with dry, blank eyes. Hermione walked to Ginny's room to shepherd her through dinner and tried to think of something, anything, that could be done to help her friend.

When she reached the room, however, she stood frozen in the doorway for a long while, because Ginny had moved from lying in bed to sit at the window, the curtain lifted slightly and her eyes actually focused. "Ginny? I've brought your dinner."

A nod was her only answer, but Ginny walked to the small table and sat down, giving Hermione the first sign of hope she'd had. "He used to love days like this," Ginny said, so softly that Hermione had to strain to hear it. "Whenever there was a day like this, I used to sneak out to watch him fly, even before I admitted to myself I liked him. I told myself that I was spying, and then eventually I admitted to myself that I just watched because he was beautiful."

"Oh, Ginny," Hermione said, tears spilling down her cheeks in torrents. "Ginny, I'm so--"

"Don’t say sorry," Ginny said. "I'm not. I love him."

The endless days of watching her friend close in on herself all descended on Hermione at once and she found herself shaking Ginny by the shoulders, hard, and shouting, "He's dead! Dead! Past tense! Why won't you cry, dammit, he's dead!"

"Because once I start, I will never, ever stop." The quiet conviction in Ginny's voice brought Hermione back to herself, and the two stared at each other before Hermione flung her arms around Ginny and sobbed into her shoulder.

"I hated him," she sobbed. "I hated him so much, and it's not fair that he's gone so I can't keep hating him properly, and it's not fair that he's taking my best friend with him to the grave."

Ginny's lip curled up slightly, although no humor lit her eyes. "I didn't know Ron or Harry felt that way about Draco. I'll have to make sure they know not to touch my property."

"That's not funny," Hermione said coldly, swiping at her runny nose.

"No," said Ginny. "But what can I say? It's..." She sighed, turning to the plate Hermione had brought and picking up a fork. "Just go away, Hermione. I need to be alone."

Hermione nodded and complied, and Ginny picked at her food. Draco wouldn't want her to starve; it had been her attempt to go on a diet, in an effort to be more attractive, that had led to their relationship progressing beyond stolen glances and the exchange of barbs. She smiled as she remembered the way he had followed her from the Great Hall, and interrupted her attempts to tell herself that half a grapefruit had been very filling by popping a sinfully rich piece of chocolate into her mouth. Her eyes had fluttered closed as she savored the decadent taste, and when she opened them he was there, staring at her intently.

"Christ, Weasley, if just a piece of chocolate puts that look on your face, I may never let you eat anything else again," he had said, his voice low and bordering on harshness.

She had bristled, and said huffily, "I know you're a git, but isn't forcibly breaking my diet going a bit far? How do I know you didn't poison me?"

"For the first part, anything that keeps you from starving yourself is fair game, as far as I'm concerned," he said, pausing to look her over. "You might lose your delicious curves, and then I couldn't spend large portions of my day watching your arse."

She scowled, unsure how to answer; was he making fun of her? But before she could come to any conclusions, he said smoothly, "As for the second part, I suppose the solution is to taste it myself." Then his lips were on hers and his tongue inside her mouth, and it was better than the chocolate, better than anything had ever been. His hands went around her waist and stayed there, holding her close, but not so close as to be indecent. When the kiss broke, he stepped back, and she said, "But I didn't have the chocolate in my mouth any more."

"How remiss of me," he had said, popping another chocolate in her mouth and swooping in to claim her lips again, the sweetness of the chocolate blending with the taste of him and making her head spin.

All she could taste now was salt and copper, and she picked up a napkin to dab at the blood that trickled from where she had bitten through her lip. She dropped the blood-stained linen and stood to look out of the window once more before she snatched up her cloak and started hurrying through the hallways. She would go to the quidditch pitch, she thought. She would sit in her old hiding spot under the Hufflepuff stands and try to make sense of the way her heart seemed divided between keening in grief for his absence and the foolish, uncrushable belief that she would soon lift her head and see him.

She had almost reached the front doors when suddenly she found herself being spun around. "I've missed you, Gin," was whispered in her ear as she was enfolded in a crushing hug.

"Harry," she croaked. "Please, I--"

"I'm sorry," he said, loosening his hold on her. "I just... I wanted you to know that I'm here, and I'd do anything for you. I... I love you, Ginny." Ginny looked up sharply, and he blushed. "Not like that. But... You're my family, you know? And, well, it's the sort of thing that needs saying more often, because you never know..."

She smiled a bit, a sweetly bitter twitch of the lips as she said, "We don't, do we? Thank you, Harry."

He pressed an awkward kiss to her cheek and said, "Take care of yourself, then, if you don't want me around."

Ginny watched him walk away, then turned and pushed open the huge front door only to be momentarily blinded by the light shining in, profligate brightness that hurt her eyes and heart. As her eyes started to adjust she saw a shadow, a familiar silhouette haloed by butter-yellow sunshine. Her heart leapt and her hand seemed to reach out of its own accord, trembling and unsure. "You look like hell, Weasley."

She ran. It couldn't be him. He didn't deserve the half-life of a ghost, and Dumbledore himself had said that he was dead. Someone was playing the cruelest trick in the history of the world on her, and she wasn't altogether sure it wasn't her own foolish mind. And so she ran, the tears that she had come to believe did not exist pouring down her face unheeded.

Her pulse pounded in her ears, so loud it almost drowned out his footsteps thundering down the hall. Then she stopped, trapped by a staircase moving away too soon and leaving her in a dead end corridor. His footsteps slowed and she choked on a sob as they moved closer and closer. She had probably made the world's biggest fool of herself in front of someone who just bore a passing resemblance to him, just a blond student who her desperate mind had transformed into the image of her beloved.

He reached her at last and unceremoniously he dragged her hard back against him, his arms steel bands around her as he held her close. "You can't ever escape me, love," he whispered, burying his face in her hair and dropping a kiss onto her neck. Everything was so familiar, so perfect, and she couldn't stop crying, because his body and breath were warm, and if she was dreaming she didn't want to ever stop.

"Draco," she sighed, and his arms tightened around her even further. She pushed away slightly and managed, oh, somehow she managed to face him and not faint or scream or tackle him to the ground. It was like there was a fragility to the scene, and if she wasn't careful it would shatter, leaving her alone again, without his scent and arms engulfing her. Slowly, cautiously, she lifted a hand up and ran her fingers down the side of his face. "Oh, if this isn't real, don't ever tell me. Draco, I love you."

"It's real," he said, pressing his face into her hand. "It's real, and I love you, and you'll never be without me again."

"How... Dumbledore! He must have--"

"Left me for dead," Draco said sardonically. "It was my dear aunt Bellatrix who took me from there before I was buried under a few thousand tons of rubble."

Ginny gasped, and he continued, "Yes, apparently the Draught of Living Death can be used as a contact poison. You lot cleared off and darling aunt Trixie dragged me off for a spot of tea and 'how dare you betray the Dark Lord?'." Ginny breathed his name out, her eyes glimmering, and he shrugged a bit. "She made her mistake the third day, and I managed to dump her on the Ministry's doorstep."

"But then why didn't anyone tell me?" Ginny said. "I've been..." She closed her mouth abruptly and he sighed.

"No one knew," he said. "I thought you'd left me behind because you didn't care - Bellatrix helped that thought along considerably - and so I was just going to fade away."

Ginny scowled. "You unspeakably selfish bastard!"

"Funny, that's what your brother said," Draco mused, nuzzling her neck. "Although he didn't look anywhere near as sexy as you did when he said it."

"Good to know I'm sexier to you than my brother," she said drily. "Wait, which brother? When did he talk to you?"

"Ron." Draco flushed a bit, and Ginny cocked an eyebrow at him. "It's a bit embarrassing, really. I got distracted when I was apparating and ended up at the Shrieking Shack. Turns out it wasn't just a secret hideaway for us, since the git was there bawling his eyes out."

He laughed at her disbelieving look. "Well, we had a bit of a scuffle, and then he made it clear to me where I belonged." Draco then took her head in his hands and tilted her head so that she had no choice but to stare into his eyes. "For future reference, if I ever do die, I expect you to take care of yourself and remain vibrant and gorgeous."

"So I can find love again?" she asked skeptically.

"No, you'll never find anyone who matches up to me," he said. "But I want all the bloody wankers in the world to know what they're missing."

She shook her head, a smile breaking over her face like sunshine after a long, stormy night. "You're impossible," she said. "And it must be why I love you." Then he kissed her, or she kissed him; it didn't matter, because all that was important in the world was theirs in that single, perfect moment.

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