When he had initially proposed this trip to Ginny he thought they might take in some of the sights of Crete together. He knew she was having second thoughts about her wedding to Potter and now seemed like the perfect opportunity to try and get between them. However, if Ginny was going to sit in her room and brood, Draco would have been better off staying in Scotland. At least there he wouldn’t be waiting to see if she needed anything.
She’d seemed fine when he’d last spoken to her, so all he could figure was that something had happened with Potter since then. Draco knew it was too much too hope that they had called the whole thing off, but whatever it was Ginny didn’t seem to want to talk. She’d been quiet when she met him that morning in the Great Hall and her mood hadn’t really improved since. When they arrived he had immediately suggested a walk along the beach, but Ginny begged off with a headache and he hadn’t seen or heard from her since. It was enough to drive him mad.
He was considering going out without her when she emerged from the guest room. Draco noticed immediately that she had been crying. “I would ask if you’re okay, but you’re obviously not.”
The redhead offered him a weak smile. “That’s what I like about you, Draco. You don’t lie.”
He shrugged. “I don’t see the point. Is there anything I can do?”
“I don’t think so.”
“We can go home if you want. It’s not a problem.”
“No!” Ginny told him. “We came all this way—”
“Weasley, there’s no point in being here if you’re going to sit in your room and cry. You can do that at Hogwarts.”
She just stared at him. “Honesty,” he reminded her. “You like that about me.”
“You’re right. About everything. I’m trying to get away from everything, not sit around and think about what’s wrong with my life. So what do you want to do?”
Draco grinned at her. “That’s a dangerous question, Weasley.”
“I trust you, Draco.”
“You might be the only one.” He ran his eyes over her. “First, you need to go change. We’re going to the beach and then out for a late lunch. If you didn’t bring a bathing suit, then check the closet in your room. The clothes in there should fit you.”
She nodded. “Okay. Give me twenty minutes?”
“I’ll be waiting.”
True to her word, the redhead was ready in less than half an hour. Draco met her in the front hall wearing a pair of black swimming trunks and long-sleeved white t-shirt. He noticed immediately that she was wearing something from the closet he’d had furnished for her. Draco could only hope she was wearing one of the bikinis under the sundress.
“Does this look okay?”
“I won’t be embarrassed to be seen with you today, Weasley.” The blond smirked at her and held out one of the canvas bags he’d had one of the house elves pack for them. “Carry this, will you?”
At this point, Ginny was used to his biting comments and knew he was giving her a compliment. She took the bag without protest. “What’s in here?”
“Towels, water, a portable Wizard’s Wireless transfigured to look like a Muggle radio, and whatever magazines Dinky packed. I thought we might find a spot you like on the beach and sit for awhile. You can swim, if you like.”
She tucked her wand into the bag she was carrying. “I guess I’m ready then.”
Draco opened the door for her. “Follow me.” He led her down a path behind the villa, which was mostly shielded from the others by a tall hedge. Before an opening in the hedge, Draco stopped and turned, wand in hand. He whispered a spell and tapped Ginny’s forehead and then did the same for himself. “It’s a sun protection spell. You don’t want to get burnt while you’re here.”
“Are you ready?”
“Close your eyes.” Draco took her by the elbow and led her onto the beach. He moved so that he was standing behind her, looking down on her face. “You can open them now.”
Ginny couldn’t help the gasp that escaped her throat. “I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.”
His eyes were on her face. “It is amazing.”
She looked up at him and smiled. “Why is the beach so deserted?”
“It’s only May, so it’s still early. The Americans won’t be over for another month at least, and most Europeans don’t holiday until August.”
“Oh.” Ginny smiled at him again. “So why are we here now?”
“You needed to get away.”
“Oh. Right.” The redhead broke eye contact with him and looked back to the crystal blue water. It was the most beautiful place she’d ever seen. And they only had to share it with a handful of people. “So what now?”
“Whatever you want. Do you want to go for a swim or a walk?”
“A swim, I think.”
“Okay.” Draco led her over to a spot on the sand where he put down the bag he was carrying. He took out his towel and spread it out before slipping off his shoes. He took out a bottle of water and turned to hand one to her when he saw her. She was busy tying her hair back in a ponytail and didn’t notice him staring.
She must have brought that suit with her, because he sure as hell hadn’t approved that one. All week he’d been seeing her in something skimpy and black, but he was suddenly realizing that something less skimpy but gold was so much better. It was a two-piece suit, but the top covered more of her breasts than it exposed and the bottoms were cut like boy-shorts. The color matched her skin perfectly and with her hair tied back away from her face, she couldn’t have looked better.
Ginny frowned when Draco sat down on his towel and pulled a book from one of the bags. “Aren’t you going to join me?”
“I wasn’t planning on it, actually.”
“I don’t like to swim outside. Even with the protection charm, my skin is too sensitive.”
“Draco,” she pouted. “Why did you give me an option if you knew you couldn’t swim?”
He looked up at her. “Just because I can’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. This is your holiday. Go, have fun. I’ll be here.”
The redhead looked toward the sparkling blue water of the Mediterranean and considered her options. She knew he was right, but she still felt guilty for leaving him there. “Are you sure?”
“Stop being so bloody noble, Weasley, and go have fun. I’m a big wizard now, I’ll be fine.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine.”
Draco watched appreciatively as she took off running towards the water before lying back on the towel and closing his eyes. Fucking hell, this had been a bad idea.
"Wake up." Ginny pushed his shoulder again. Since when had Draco become such a heavy sleeper? "Draco!"
"I want to go now," she told him impatiently. The redhead looked down the beach at the photographer and sighed heavily. This was not what she needed.
Draco noted the tone of her voice. "What's wrong, Weasley?"
"Nothing. I'm just ready to go."
He narrowed his eyes. "Don't lie to me. What happened?"
She pointed toward the man with the camera. "I can't have my picture taken here." Ginny considered briefly telling him that she'd told Harry she was staying at the castle for the weekend, but hesitates. Instead, she added, "Not with you."
"I see." The blond tried not to let her words sting him. Of course, she wouldn't want her picture taken with him. "That's fine. We can return to the villa, then."
He stood and turned to away from her. Draco ignored the painful squeeze in his chest. He was a stupid fool for thinking she would ever care for him. "Come along, Weasley."
Ginny had no choice but to follow him, unsure how to get back. She could feel the wall he'd erected between them, but had no clue as to why. When she finally caught up to him she asked, "Did I do something wrong?"
"Oh." She frowned. He refused to look at her. "Are you sure, because—"
"Leave it alone." He quickened his stride and knew she would practically have to run to keep up with him. The rest of the walk was made in silence.
Once they reached the villa he spared her a glance. "I'm going to take a shower."
Her soft words stopped him. "I can't do this, Weasley."
Ginny touched his right arm and turned him so they were facing. "Do what? What did I do? Tell me so I can fix it."
He could feel the heat radiating from her body and knew if he took one step forward they'd be pressed together. "You really don't know?"
She shook her head in response. "Tell me."
"You said—" He looked away momentarily and sighed. "On the beach, you told me that you couldn’t have your picture taken with me. Why not?"
"Oh." She smiled up at him. "Honestly, Draco. Why didn't you just ask? I saw Harry last night and I didn't tell him I was coming here with you. Instead, when I got back to the castle, I planned on owling you and canceling the weekend, but I changed my mind at the last minute. So Harry thinks I'm at Hogwarts, and he'll know I didn't tell the truth if there is a picture of me here."
"And he'll be even more upset that you're here with me," he supplied for her. "You left that part out."
Ginny nodded. "Yes. You and Harry have never exactly been friends."
"That's one way of putting it." He smirked at her. "Say, what happened with Potter last night? Something made you decide to come today."
She could feel the blush rise to her cheeks. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Drop it, Draco." The redhead turned away from him and towards the kitchen. "If you're going to shower, then I'll make us lunch."
"Never mind that. Go change, and we'll go to town and get lunch."
She started to protest, until he silenced her with a look. "You're on holiday until we return to the castle tomorrow night. You will not cook or clean while you are here. Is that understood?"
"What about the photographer?"
Draco withdrew his wand and murmured an incantation before tapping her head. Ginny felt the magic wash over her. "You look good as a brunette."
The former redhead pulled at her long hair and could see that he hand changed it to a rich, dark brown. "Will it change back?"
"I'll change it back tomorrow. You'll also wear sunglasses while we're outside. No one will recognize you. Now go change."
Ginny smiled sweetly up at him before hurriedly kissing his cheek. "Thank you, Draco."
They arrived back at Hogwarts via Floo after dinner on Sunday. Draco came through first and was there to help Ginny out of the fireplace. They were both busy cleaning themselves off when he noticed the parchment waiting on his desk.
"I need to speak to McGonagall tonight, so I'll let her know you've returned." Ginny went to his bedroom door.
His eyes scanned his letter. "I'll accompany you. According to this, she needs to see me right away." He dropped the letter on his bed and they left the room.
The easy banter they'd developed since the previous morning continued as they walked through the castle. Once they reached the gargoyle the guarded her office, Ginny said the password and they went up together.
Draco was surprised to find his mother and Severus in the office. He left Ginny's side and immediately went to his mother. Snape walked toward the family he considered to be his own and Ginny stood frozen at the door. She was unsure as to what she should do.
"Mum, what happened?"
Narcissa Malfoy only shook her head. Draco swung his gaze to the man he trusted the most. "Severus?"
"Draco, I'm sorry."
Finally, McGonagall said, "Mr. Malfoy, your father passed away this morning."
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