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Not Quite Fate by Hearts Cadence
Epilogue by Hearts Cadence
A/N – well, after reading everyone’s terrible disappointment of DH’s epilogue on the forums, I’m a bit terrified to post mine haha. So *deep breath* here we go…

(OH! AND READ THE A/N AT THE END. I know there are a few people out there who skip ‘em, but there is an actual announcement in the middle of this one. Please read it so I don’t have to answer the same question a million times. Thanks! =D)

- - - - -


Ginny could see him sulking in the corner across the huge, polished dance floor, coming in and out of view as finely-clad couples waltzed between them. He had his shoulders hunched to make his presence as inconspicuous as possible, and his scowl seemed to take in the whole room. When one of the floating fairy lights bobbed by his head, he swatted viciously at it.

Ginny smiled. It had taken great effort to coax Draco Malfoy here tonight; she was just happy he had restrained himself from hexing any of the other guests so far. She played with the idea of going to him, but decided to let him get over his mood for a bit first. For now she was content to simply sip at her punch as the leisurely melody of waltz music drifted around her.

“Cheerful man you married,” a voice remarked at her elbow. “And to think, you could’ve had me.”

Ginny smiled again and turned to give Harry a friendly punch in the arm. He wore his expensive dress robes with obvious discomfort, their finery at odds with his casual, boy-next-door appearance. His hair was a bit longer now, but she could see he had at least made some attempt to tame it. She would not call it an entirely successful attempt, but at least the thought was there.

“And aren’t you glad I put an end to that foolish notion?” she demanded, nodding towards a lovely woman with short, olive-brown hair who was then circulating through the room. She had long legs, slender but strong arms, and moved with such obvious grace that more than a few male eyes followed her movements from group to group.

Harry was no exception, smiling to himself as his bright green stare tracked her progress. “She’s something, isn’t she?” he wondered aloud.

“Mmm,” Ginny agreed. “And when do you plan to make her Mrs. Leia Potter, then?”

He blushed a deep red. Ginny couldn’t help but find that amusing, considering this entire ball was being held to honor him. How did a person manage to stay modest with about a dozen strangers telling you how wonderful you were every day?

Harry mumbled something about finding the right time, and then Seamus Finnigan swaggered over — a definite sway to his step — and rescued him.

“Oi, if it isn’t the man of hour!” Seamus gave Harry a violent clap on the back that sent him stumbling forward a step. “How’re ya, mate?”

His words came out slurred and too loud; Ginny disguised a giggle with a slightly unconvincing cough. The cover-up did not seem to offend the Irishman, but it did draw his attention.

“Hallo! Is that little Ginny Weasley? Not so little anymore, I’d say!”

She grinned. “Hello, Seamus. Having a good time, are you?”

“Fabulous! Better now that I found you, darling.” He shot her a boyish smile, that easy charm evident even when totally pissed.

Behind Seamus, Harry winked at her and made an expression very like a smirk before slipping away. Ginny shot him a quick glare, which he missed with his back already turned. She shifted her attention back to Seamus.

“Thank you, but aren’t you forgetting something?” Ginny held up her left hand and wiggled her fingers, flashing a glittering diamond ring at him.

Seamus squinted at her hand, swaying slightly as he tried to focus, and then his eyes went very wide. “Blimey, you got hitched!” He raised his glass high. “A toast, then, to the blushing bride! Oi, someone get this gorgeous lass a drink!”

Ginny yanked his arm down and gave an embarrassed laugh. “Seamus, I’ve been married for eight years now. I think the time for toasts is long past.”

This depressed him for a moment, until another idea occurred to him. “Right, a toast to Harry, then! May Voldemort be burning in hell!” He started to cup his hands around his mouth, undoubtedly preparing to shout for more drinks.

Before he could bellow out the command, Ginny grabbed his hand again and said, “Don’t bother, we can toast with the drinks we have.”

Seamus frowned in obvious disapproval at her glass of punch. “That’s not a drink! I tried it, not an ounce of alcohol.”

“Yes, well, I’m not really meant to have alcohol at the moment, so…”

Ginny was saved from further explanation by the jarring halt of the music and a magically projected voice asking for everyone’s attention, please. She smiled as she recognized the voice, and sure enough, when she glanced up to the stage she saw Theodore Nott standing with his hands clasped behind his back. He looked haughty as ever in his tailored robes, his face calm and bored in front of a crowd of hundreds.

There was some scattered applause for him, and then the room fell respectfully silent. Nott inclined his head in thanks, then began, “Well, Potter has obviously lost his mind, because he asked me to do the bloody speech tonight.” At the scattered laughter he produced his patented half smile, and Ginny felt herself grin. Nott would never change.

“As you all know,” he continued, “we’re here tonight to celebrate a decade of peace and security and all that rubbish since Potter did away with Voldemort. Granger — who, can you imagine, does not trust me with this most venerable honor — informed me that I should implore you all to remember the hard times we went through, and the loved ones lost, so that we can make sure it never happens again. That if another like Voldemort tries to rise up, we will put a stop to it early.”

His eyes swept seriously over the gathered wizards and witches, all dressed in their very best with their hair painstakingly styled and their faces rapt as they waited for him to continue. He finally did. “Well, Granger may be right about most things, but I say to hell with that.”

The comment raised several eyebrows in the room, but oblivious to the shock he had created, Nott continued, “This is a celebration, yeah? We can remember and warn our kiddies and all that other rot every other day of the year. Tonight’s our hour to forget the hard times and raise our glasses! The bastard’s dead!”

The audacious proclamation was met with wild cheers from all except a frowning Hermione, who stood off to the side of the stage glaring at Nott. He winked at her as he sauntered past, and even from this distance Ginny could see her cheeks fast coloring. Luckily, Ron acted quickly and pulled her into a quick, celebratory kiss that left her looking rather dazed.

It was cute, but one party in that embrace was still her brother, and she turned away feeling disturbed. That’s when Ginny saw her. Only a glimpse out the balcony window, and even though it had been ten years, she recognized her at once. Making a very fast and probably very lame excuse to Seamus, she slipped away and started shouldering her way through the crowd, cursing the awkward high heels she wore every step of the way.

She burst out through the tall glass doors onto the moonlit balcony, feeling the spring chill slice through the thin gossamer material of her sea-foam-green shawl. Her darker, emerald-colored gown’s lack of straps and thin silk material did not help matters, but she hardly felt the cold as her eyes darted over the balcony.

Ginny finally saw her leaning against the thick marble railing, keeping to the shadows cast by a nearby brazier full of glowing orange gems. More slowly now, Ginny approached and leaned her back against the rail, facing the woman.

“You came,” she commented softly.

The woman looked up and tried for a weak smile. Ginny caught her breath as she examined the face: it looked as if she had not aged a day in the past decade, like she had been preserved in some photograph. Her hair was the same unextraordinary brunette shade, now held gracefully off her neck by a sparkling white clip. Her dress was all lace and pearls and gauzy material, almost floating around her in shades of purest white and softer creams.

“You look gorgeous,” Ginny added truthfully.

This drew a dry laugh from the woman’s throat. “Please, Ginny.” Her voice still had that mesmerizing quality to it, soft and husky but somehow smooth and sweet as honey all at once. “I’ve never been a beauty.” She tilted her head. “You look good, though.”

Ginny shook her head. “Naomi….”

“No, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be so melancholy. It’s a beautiful celebration. I can hardly believe the decorations.”

“If you came inside you could get a better look,” Ginny suggested gently.

Naomi Lawson shook her head. “No. It was probably a mistake to come at all. I should go…”

“At least say hello to Draco,” Ginny begged. “He’s constantly moaning about how he never got the chance to thank you properly for freeing him. And trust me, coming from him, that’s something. ‘Please,’ ‘sorry,’ and ‘thank you’ are three terms he tends to omit from his vocabulary except under extreme circumstances.”

Naomi smiled tightly. “You did as much as me.”

“That’s rubbish, and you know it. You had all the ideas, Naomi. You had all the sense through that whole mess. And Draco knows it, too.”

“So McGonagall actually let him off, then?”

Ginny knew she was changing the subject, but knew also when to quit. She nodded. “After she found out Harry had won, she…” Ginny struggled with how to explain. “She sort of snapped. Cried for hours. It was the creepiest thing ever…just because it was McGonagall, you know? I think she was just trying so hard to be strong while Voldemort was alive, to fill the void that Dumbledore left…” Ginny shrugged, letting the speculation hang. “Anyway, she formally apologized to Draco, and even made sure he got an Order of Merlin alongside Harry. First class.”

Naomi shook her head in amazement. “People never cease to amaze me.”

“I know. Nott got one too. He almost died, actually. Voldemort realized he was smuggling Harry in before Draco finished with the Horcrux. Voldemort went for Harry first, of course, but Nott actually threw himself in the path of the curse.”

Ginny paused, remembering her absolute shock at the news and, even more surprising, her fear for the boy.

She cleared her throat. “The people at St. Mungo’s still haven’t been able to figure out what exactly it was, other than it was definitely Dark magic. But Draco Floo’d right after, and Harry defeated Voldemort fast enough that he got Nott to the hospital in time. Or maybe it was just his own body that fought it off.” Ginny sighed and leaned back against the railing a little more heavily. It all seemed so far away now.

Naomi was silent a long time. “I heard his speech. Nott’s, I mean. It seems the gratitude of a whole people hasn’t changed him much.”

Ginny couldn’t help but laugh. “Not a bit. In fact, I think he likes shocking the knickers off people like that. He was always so good about staying unnoticed at Hogwarts, I think he’s soaking up all the attention he can to make up for it.” Ginny smiled to herself. “I hate to admit it, but I think I’ve sort of taken to him. Draco definitely has. You know he was our best man at the wedding?”

Naomi glanced at Ginny’s ring. “I read about that in the Prophet. ‘The wedding of the year.’”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Draco just wanted to show off. I would have been perfectly happy with a small ceremony behind the Burrow. He was the one who decided it was absolutely necessary to spend half of the Malfoy estate on that ridiculous, flower-strewn affair at Stonehenge.”

“At sunset,” reminded Naomi with a smile.

Ginny rolled her eyes again. “Oh yes, can’t forget that. At sunset.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, how did he pay for all that? I thought Lucius cut Draco out of the inheritance.”

“He did. He left it all to Narcissa instead, but as soon as she heard about Lucius, she gave it all over to Draco again.”

“Well, that certainly came in handy. The wedding sounds like it was a fairy tale.”

Ginny sighed, unable to help the dreamy smile on her lips. “You know, it really was.” She looked Naomi full in the face. “You should have come to that, too.”

Naomi was already shaking her head. “It was too soon.”

“It was two years after everything.”

“Too soon,” Naomi repeated.

Ginny bit her cheek to keep from saying something quick-tempered she would regret later. She had planned to ask Naomi to be her Maid of Honor at that wedding….

Ginny changed the subject. “Please, just say a quick hello and goodbye to Draco. It would mean so much…”

Naomi put her forearms on the rail and hung her head. “Ginny, please, don’t start again. I can’t bring myself...” she swallowed. “Someday, but…”

“He never meant to do it,” Ginny said quietly into the silence that followed Naomi’s words. “He still struggles with the guilt. He wakes up in cold sweats, sometimes, from the nightmares.”

“I know all of that, but it doesn’t bring him back, does it?”

Ginny felt her temper flare the barest degree. She forced herself to wait ten seconds before speaking. “Now you’re sounding like McGonagall, blaming Draco for something he couldn’t help.”

When Naomi looked up again, her eyes swam with tears. “I know, I know and I hate myself for it Ginny. I know you want me to go tell Draco I forgive him, to make his guilt and the nightmares go away, and I want to…but it’s still too soon for me to face him. How could I look at him, knowing…?”

“It’s been ten years, Naomi. A decade.”

Naomi straightened abruptly, rounding on Ginny with fire in her eyes. “I loved him, Ginny! Don’t you understand? I know…I know he was a bad person at the end. I know he wasn’t the Jon I fell in love with back at school, and I know you can’t understand how I can be so irrational over such a monster, b-but,” she hiccupped, torn by emotion, and her final words came out in a strangled whisper, “when I remember him, he’s still that boy I fell in love with at Hogwarts. It makes it so hard…like Jon was two different people, and I just can’t sort them out one from the other…”

Looking at her, Ginny immediately felt guilty for pushing her so far. Because Naomi was wrong: she did understand, at least to some extent. She remembered the Tom Riddle she had so briefly laid so much trust in, the same Tom Riddle who had turned out to be so vile. But even knowing the brute he was behind the cool, darkly handsome exterior, it had taken so much to flush that diary, to separate the demon from the sympathetic counselor…

And Draco. Look at the little, sniveling bully he had once been. Hell, sometimes he still was, if the right thing triggered him. What if he ever went back to that completely? Would she be able to hate him again after having loved him so incredibly deeply?

It was for those reasons that she never begrudged Naomi for her relationship with Pierce, the one she did not discover until three full weeks after Voldemort’s fall. (She only found out then because Naomi had overheard Ginny consoling Draco for the murder, and the woman had not been able to stifle her stunned sob.) And for those same reasons, Ginny decided to let the matter drop tonight.

“How’s Ben?” she finally asked into the quiet.

A flicker of a smile appeared on Naomi’s tear-stained face. “Wonderful. Getting top marks.”


Naomi laughed. “Yeah, but you’d think he was in Slytherin from the owls I keep getting. Quite the prankster. I think we taught him badly back when he was young, telling him to break all those dishes at Grimmauld Place and then fib about it being an accident so you could sneak out. Now he’s a little devil. Only, not so little anymore, I suppose.”

Ginny laughed too, remembering that day. “Any girlfriends yet?”

“Not that I know of, but then who knows? It’s not the sort of thing teenage boys generally write their mum in the post, is it?” Naomi turned around and leaned against the rail beside Ginny. “How is…everyone?” she asked, waving her hand at the glittering assembly inside.

“Well enough. Ron and Hermione got married a few years back and already have twins running about wreaking havoc. I have a feeling they’ll give their uncles Fred and George a run for their money. Nott’s been seeing Hannah Abbott, if you can believe it. Most unlikely pair on earth, but it’s been almost a year now, and they seem to be getting on well. I think she’s a good influence on him, though I can’t really say the same for the reverse…”

Naomi smiled. “He’s all right. He just likes to hide it behind all the sarcasm and rudeness.”

Ginny snorted, but didn’t argue either.

“And Harry?”

“Harry’s great. Been with this girl, Leia Martel, for ages now. She’s another Auror, one of his first partners. They started sharing a flat as soon as they got reassignments. If you ask me, he just needs to marry her already.”

Naomi glanced at the cheerful celebration going on inside. Quite suddenly there was a loud bang, followed by the smell of smoke drifting out to them with the accompaniment of scattered applause. Someone — probably Fred and George — was setting off fireworks.


Ginny watched Naomi’s blank face as she answered. “Like most of them. Azkaban.”

Naomi’s head dropped just a fraction. “He…he wasn’t as bad as the rest.”

“No. But he made his choice all the same.” Ginny hesitated, then added quietly. “Like Pier — Jon did.”

Naomi’s eyes closed. After several moments of silence, she commented quietly, “Everyone sounds very happy.”

Ginny studied her with a small frown. “And you? Are you happy?”

Naomi seemed to think about it, then let a smile cross her lips. “Actually…yes. Jon’s villa is gorgeous, and I know almost everyone in the village down the lane. I’m fluent in Italian, now. It gets lonely sometimes, at night when I can’t go down to the market and chat or something, but,” she shrugged, “yes, I’m happy.”

Ginny smiled, though she could feel a touch of sadness in it. “I’m glad. Truly. And I’m so happy you decided to come. I really have missed you…”

Naomi looked at Ginny a moment, then suddenly turned and gave the younger girl a hug. “I’m sorry I’m so difficult. And thank you for all your help back when things were so rough.”

“Things were rough for us all,” Ginny said firmly, squeezing her back before the two women parted. “And trust me, you helped me far more than I ever helped you.”

Naomi only smiled, then let her gaze drift out into the night. “I…I think I’m going to go. It’s getting late…”

It wasn’t so late, but Ginny didn’t press her. After spending a year shut up in Italy, that she had come at all was a miracle by itself. “Okay. Goodbye, Naomi. Don’t make the next visit another decade from now, yeah?”

The woman grimaced. “I’ll try.”

Then Naomi turned on the spot and was gone in a short pop.

Ginny stared at the spot for a long time, so lost in thought she never even heard the footsteps approaching her. She jumped when a pair of large hands slid down her sides from behind.

A familiar voice murmured in her ear. “You’re stunning, did I mention? I’ve always said you looked beautiful in my colors.” Ginny shivered as a pair of hot lips descended on the back of her neck. Would this effect ever fade? She sincerely hoped not. “Cold?” he whispered smugly, knowing full well she did not shiver from cold.

She turned around in his embrace and looked up at the handsome, pale face of Draco Malfoy. She took in the familiar gray eyes, so light and full of life these days, the arrogant smirk, the sharp, proud cheekbones. For so many years she had associated this face with something wretched. What if he had never changed? What if he had been like Pierce and never broke out of the role destiny set him? Naomi’s fate could so easily have been her own.

Ginny reached up and traced the lines of Draco’s face. “Thank you,” she said quietly.

He looked nonplussed now, the mischievous glint in his eyes replaced with curiosity. “Did I do something?”

She smiled and let her hands fall to his shoulders. “Everything.” He looked more confused than ever, but she just stood on tiptoe and kissed him, slow and languid. She had been married to this man for eight years now, had known him the most intimate way possible: she could afford to take her time now, really savor this mouth, this experience.

Draco was content to follow her lead, responding only to match her slow, thorough pace. She felt him maneuver her backwards until he had her pinned against one of the thick pillars of the rail, the flat top of it digging into her lower back and the heat of the brazier pulsing around her. Or was that heat coming from him?

When she finally drew back for air, Draco asked in a rough voice, “What the hell did I do? Tell me. I’ll do it loads more.”

She laughed softly, the tears standing in her eyes blurring Draco with the orange glow from the brazier behind her. “I just love you, that’s all.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Have you been drinking too much?”

She smiled and shook her head. “Not a drop. What are you doing out here, anyway?”

“I saw you and grabbed any chance to get the hell out of there.” Grumbling to himself, he added, “Still don’t bloody well see why I had to come…”

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Oh, I don’t know, maybe because you played a pivotal role in Voldemort’s downfall? You know, the whole reason they’re having this little get-together?”

“Little get-together, my arse,” Draco scoffed. “And I thought we were here for precious Potter.” He sneered.

Ginny sighed. “Are you going to start in on that immature grudge again, or are you going to claim your prize?”

His whole demeanor changed in a flash. A slow smirk curved his mouth. “My prize?”

Ginny treated him to a wicked grin and leaned back, careful not to let her hair fall in the brazier. “You heard me.”

Draco leaned forward and braced his arms at either side of her. His mouth hovered inches over hers, and Ginny felt her breathing quicken. His voice was so soft she had to strain to hear. “Right here? My, my, Mrs. Malfoy. I never took you for an exhibitionist.”

She slapped half-heartedly at his chest. “Oh, hush, you great prat. You know I didn’t mean that.”

He chuckled. “Of course not.” But his fingers were sliding down her thigh, and Ginny had to squirm away before she changed her mind after all.

“We shouldn’t be spending so much time out here. It’s rude.”

Draco’s face fell into a pout. “You’re a tease, you know that?” She laughed, and he gave a dramatic sigh of resignation. “Fine, but first, just one drink. I’ll need something before I can walk back in there again.”

He picked up two glasses of champagne that he had apparently brought out with him. He offered her one, but Ginny hesitated.

“What? For Merlin’s sake, they won’t notice us gone for one drink — ”

“No, it’s not that.” Ginny looked up fearfully into his eyes, twin pools of cool silver. She had to tell him sometime….

“Then why — ?”

“I’m…” she steeled herself. “I’m really not supposed to be having alcohol.”

“Says who?”

“The doctor.”

Surprise covered his face. “When did you see the doctor?”

“While you were at work Thursday.”

Draco stepped forward in concern, peering at her like he might find the disease hidden somewhere on her face. “What’s wrong? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I wanted to be sure,” she whispered, barely audible. “I mean, this wasn’t the first time I’ve been late, and you know how iffy those tests can be, so I thought maybe…there was a chance…but, well…” Why couldn’t she just say it? Surely he wouldn’t be angry, would he? It’s just that they never discussed the possibility before…

Understanding dawned on his face, and what little color he had drained from his cheeks. “Late?” he croaked.

Ginny nodded, biting her lip. “I’m so sorry. I ran out of potion awhile ago, remember? So one night we must’ve forgotten that and didn’t cast the charm, we were just so used to not bothering…or something. I didn’t mean — ”

Draco had placed one long finger over her lips, a strange look in his eyes. His gaze dropped to her stomach, and he laid his hand flat across it. “So…in here…?”

“That’s generally where they like to hang about, yes.”

Draco’s gaze was now fixed on her stomach, face unreadable. He moved both hands to wrap around her waist, his thumbs rubbing over her abdomen. She wished he would give some sign, some indication. If only she knew how upset he was, then maybe she could try to make it up to him, explain herself more…

Draco finally pulled his gaze up to hers, their eyes meeting like a jigsaw piece snapping into place. “You’re absolutely sure?” His voice was hoarse.

“Positive.” Ginny could not look away from him, falling into that unreadable gray storm…

Suddenly she was lifted off her feet and spinning through the air, her loose hair a fiery halo around her head. Then she was coming down again, but not to her feet. Instead Draco had her crushed against his chest, holding her aloft as he kissed her more fiercely than he had in years.

Then all at once she was dropped to her feet again like she had electrocuted him, and Draco was looking at her horror stricken. “I didn’t hurt him, er, her, did I?” Anxiety filled his tone and he was spreading his fingers wide over her stomach as if trying to locate a tiny pulse inside. “Are you all right? Did I — ”

Ginny stared at him in wonderment, then suddenly broke into laughter. “Draco, I’m pregnant, not made of glass!”

He ran his hands through his hair, eyes shut tight. “Merlin’s bloody beard…me, a da…”

“So…you’re not upset?” Ginny ventured, barely daring to hope.

His eyes opened and regarded her like she was raving mad. Then he snatched her hand and pulled her into another impassioned kiss, igniting a heat that made Ginny feel like she was standing in front of the brazier again.

“Silly girl,” he admonished when he pulled away.

All of a sudden a great cheer exploded out of the main room. Both he and Ginny whipped their heads around.

“What in the name of…?”

Ginny caught a glimpse of Leia kissing Harry rather inappropriately — her legs wrapped firmly around his waist in her apparent excitement — and grinned. “I’d say Harry finally proposed, wouldn’t you?”


Ginny blinked. “What?” She could hardly believe Draco would react so enthusiastically to the engagement.

“That means no one will notice if we slip away somewhere private.” He was already pulling out his wand to Disapparate.

“Draco…” She began reproachfully. But she hesitated, darting a quick glance between the celebrating throng inside and the pleading face of Draco in front of her. She tossed her arms around his neck. “Oh, go on then. Take us home.”

Who was she kidding? she wondered as she felt the pull of Disapparation.

Ginny would always choose Draco.

- - - - -

A/N – Okay, now it’s finished. Wow…weiiird feeling after so long. Hope the ending didn’t disappoint as much as DH did haha.

MAKE SURE AND READ THIS!!! There IS an actual announcement!

But before that haha…I want to send out a HUMUNGOUS thank you to everyone who read, to all my reviewers, and especially the loyal ones who made a point to leave a comment every chapter, even if it was just a quick “good job.” You know who you are, and though I’m not going to list everyone by name, I know who you are too. So thanks, it kept me writing =D

All right, now for the announcement, and the answer to that burning question I keep getting asked: What’s next? I’ll just come right out and say it: nothing. I’m officially retiring from novel-length fan fiction. I WILL keep contributing one-shots when the fancy strikes me, and MAYBE a short, multiple chapter story, but no more novels.

You see, I just got promoted at the newspaper, which is wonderful for my bank account, not so much for my free time. I’m basically an editor and a reporter both, now, and while that’s all fine and dandy at present, I don’t even want to think of what it’s going to be like when I start school again in August. The last thing I need is another responsibility. Plus, when I do manage to salvage some free time, I want to start venturing into the world of original fiction. Maybe see if I can’t turn out a novel for real =)

So anyway, long explanation short: It’s been a great ride, I’ve loved every minute of it, but no more novels. I will, however, still post one-shots now and then.

Thanks again! You guys rock!

This story archived at http://www.dracoandginny.com/viewstory.php?sid=4529