A/N - As the summary says, this is just a drabble written for the "pragmatism" weekly challenge. You have NO IDEA how hard it was for me to keep to 800 words haha...I have a tendency to get long-winded...but I did it! 800 words exactly haha. Hope you like it!
(Oh and sorry if NQF is taking awhile...I'm in the midst of a truly nasty research paper on nuclear nonproliferation, of all things. Horrendous assignment. It's the current bane of my existence. Anyhow, it doesn't leave much time for writing fun stuff. Sorry! Trust me, I hate it more than you lol.)
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Draco Malfoy stood on the stage and looked out over the rows of chairs. A faint breeze stirred the humid summer air as the sun began to inch towards the horizon, casting Hogwarts in a pink haze. The scene reminded him of his own graduation just a year earlier…before Voldemort turned the world upside down.
The words surprised him, and he looked down to see Ginny at the foot of the stage, looking up at him with the caramel-colored eyes he remembered so well. His heart squeezed painfully in his chest. She looked different. Her was hair shorter, for one thing, just brushing her shoulders; it made her look older.
He moved to the edge of the stage and jumped down. Up close, her matured beauty made his breath catch. She was always lovely, but now…Ginny Weasley was all grown up, transformed in just a year. A deep regret that he’d missed watching it happen washed through him.
“I promised I would,” he finally responded, his voice rough.
She smiled sadly. “You promised a lot of things, Draco.”
The reminder cut as deep as any dagger. He couldn’t meet her eyes. “Things…changed after I left school. You know that.”
“You could’ve sent me an owl.”
What could he say to that? It was true, he could have. But he hadn’t. There was no point in dwelling on it, so he changed the subject. “How was the ceremony?”
She shrugged. “McGonagall congratulated us, gave the speech about going prepared into the world.” Her eyes moved over the deserted chairs, and her lips quirked bitterly. “I don’t see how anyone can be prepared for the world anymore, though.”
Hearing those words hurt worse than the guilt. The Ginny he’d known had always been a bottomless wellspring of hope and optimism, but it seemed not even these stone walls could protect from the hardships of war. “Do you know what you’ll do now?”
She moved over to a chair in the front row, sitting with her hands folded in her lap. “Harry says they need more mediwitches.”
“No.” He crossed his arms, jaw set.
Her eyebrows lifted, lips forming that same bitter quirk. “No?”
“I don’t want you that close to the fighting.”
Ginny laughed, and even that sounded different. Tainted, somehow. “I haven’t heard from you in a year. Now you suddenly care again?”
He closed his eyes, exhaling. He spoke just above a whisper. “You know I never stopped caring.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
“I was fighting a bloody war, Gin! I had other priorities at the time! And if the Death Eaters ever found out...” he shook his head. “It would be treason. Death.”
“You’re here now,” she pointed out.
He sat beside her, and not caring if it was appropriate, he took her hands. “And it’s a huge risk. But I had to see you…to make sure you wouldn’t do something stupid now. Like, oh, I don’t know, get involved in the war for instance.”
She looked at his hands covering hers, but made no move to pull away. Her voice was soft. “I have to do something to help.”
“You don’t. Just stay home, Gin. For me. I can’t…I can’t be worrying about you when I’m out there. I’m a wreck as it is. You might get me killed.” He knew it was a dirty trick, but then again he was a Slytherin, and he desperately wanted her as far from the action as possible.
She smiled, but it was full of pain, and a tear crept down one cheek. “Pretty much everyone I know would say that’s a good thing. You are the enemy.”
He was shaking his head before she finished. “I will never be your enemy, Ginny. We decided, remember? This war doesn’t apply to us.”
“You still believe that’s possible?”
He touched her cheek. “I have to.”
She shut her eyes, another tear escaping, and turned into his hand. He felt her lips brush his palm. “Do you ever wonder…if things were different…?”
He shook his head. “There’s no point.”
She sighed. “Of course. It’s not pragmatic, so why would you?”
He allowed himself a smile, then unable to help himself, he leaned forward and caught her lips in a slow kiss. It felt exactly like he remembered, like a drug, and just for that moment, all was right in the world. Then the Mark on his forearm flared to life, and he broke away with a curse.
“I have to go,” he muttered, unable to meet her disappointed eyes. “Can you promise me to stay out of it?”
“If you can promise you won’t wait another year to see me.”
But they both knew better. And as he left, step after agonized step, he knew he’d lied to her — he always wondered.
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