Upon a midnight clear by Peki
Past Featured StorySummary: Draco is behaving strangely. Ginny is becoming upset. Whatever may be going on? ;-) Christmas fluff, written for Persephone33!
Categories: Completed Short Stories Characters: Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Lucius Malfoy, Narcissa Malfoy
Compliant with: None
Era: Post-Hogwarts
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 5921 Read: 5190 Published: Jan 03, 2007 Updated: Jan 03, 2007

1. Chapter 1 by Peki

Chapter 1 by Peki
Draco was behaving oddly.

He had been aggravating Ginny for the better part of two weeks, and not in the usual pleasant, deliciously passionate way that led to lots and lots of shagging. No – he skulked around, giving her long, sideways glances when he thought she didn’t notice and looking away quickly when she met his eyes. It was peculiar, and unlike him, and it grated on her nerves. But even more worrisome were the things that he did when he knew he had her full attention.

It had started with daily letters which arrived at seven o’clock on the dot and without fail while Ginny gulped down her hasty cup of morning tea. Then, there had been flowers, and after that, Merlin help her, chocolates. For two weeks, Draco had been on his best behaviour, lavishing gifts on her and spoiling her beyond reason, and enough was enough. What he was doing was strange and unsettling and it had to stop. Ginny couldn’t stand any more of it.

If he’d been any other bloke, it would’ve been sweet. But Ginny hadn’t cared for ‘sweet’ in a very long time, and if he’d been any other bloke, she wouldn’t have given a damn about him. Strangely enough, she had realised in the past two weeks, she liked him best when he was his normal, exasperating self. He was a challenge, her challenge, and she had quickly grown bored and annoyed with the gracious charmer that had taken Draco’s place.

If she hadn’t known better, she would’ve suspected Polyjuice or Imperius, but she had been with him long enough by now to know that his favourite sweets were Cauldron Cakes and his underwear of choice tight white boxer briefs that showed off his shapely arse and were a scandalous deviation from proper pureblood undergarments, which provided her with endless blackmail material. These details hadn’t changed, so essentially, Draco must still be Draco.

But something else must be going on. Something that made him strangely courteous at times and, paradoxically, even more self-absorbed than usual at others. She couldn’t make any sense of it, much as she tried and even though Ginny Weasley never gave up easily.

So when she disabled the wards over his posh flat and let herself in quietly only to discover that he wasn’t home, she was almost glad.

Almost, because she did love being with him, and because she knew he made a point of being there when she told him that she’d come over. His absence now was another piece in a strangle puzzle that she couldn’t make sense of.

Huffing quietly, she dropped her purse, cloak and robe, draped the bag with her fancy gown over the back of a chair and stripped off her clothes piece by piece, leaving a trail as she walked towards the bathroom door at the end of the long hall.

This was the reason she’d come here to primp herself: the bathroom. Ginny smiled as she waved her wand upon her entrance and the lights in the oil lamps on the walls flared and flickered warmly. The shower in Draco’s flat was luxuriously large, equipped with three taps that sprayed her from all sides with scented water which was heated to a perfect temperature.

Ginny would’ve happily spent the entire evening in there (as she and Draco had done on more than one occasion), but she had promised him, and even though his wily ways had rubbed off on her a bit in the years of their relationship, he hadn’t corrupted her enough that she’d consider breaking a promise.

One night out of the year. Surely she’d be fine, although Draco’s parents certainly weren’t the kind of people she would’ve chosen to spend Christmas Eve with, had there been any way of wiggling out of the invitation.

But there hadn’t been, especially not since the Malfoys were actually braving crowds of Muggles to go to the opera with Draco and Ginny.

“The opera, Narcissa?” Mr Malfoy had sighed when his wife suggested her idea to him. “Must we?”

“Just because the Muggles believe that Mozart was one of them doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy his music,” Narcissa had said haughtily. “They’re playing the Magic Flute.” And so it had been decided.

Grumbling, Ginny poured some of Draco’s ridiculously expensive shampoo into her palm, closed her eyes and began to lather her long hair, massaging her skull energetically to chase away the headache that threatened. Draco was being weird, Lucius always unnerved her, and Narcissa gave a whole new meaning to the cliché of evil mother-in-law. However had she become involved with those people?

Well, in all honesty, she remembered all too clearly how and why, and as her mind provided her with images of the passionate clashes she’d had with Draco, she had to acknowledge to herself at least that she didn’t have it that bad after all. There was a lusty twinge deep inside her belly. Ginny clenched her thighs reflexively and wished that she knew why he was so out of sorts, so she could scold or comfort him or both and make him forget all about his troubles with a few good shags.

So lost in thought, she didn’t hear footsteps outside, or the bathroom door opening, and when two bony arms came around her from behind, hands sliding up along her slippery waist and towards her breasts, she shrieked.

“Ahhh!” Suds burned in her eyes as they flew open. Draco was standing outside the shower stall, his sleeves rolled up to reach under the spray and touch her. “Oh my God! You startled me!”

He sniggered. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist.” That, at least, was gratifying. “Hello honey, I’m home.”

She couldn’t decide whether he was teasing her or not. Considering his conduct in the past weeks, he might very well be sincere. “Don’t ‘hello honey’ me after you almost gave me a heart attack.” Grumbling, she finished rinsing off her hair, then turned off the shower and looked at him expectantly.

He stared back, eyes roaming her naked, dripping body.

“Well?” she asked testily.

“Well what?” he retorted.

“Aren’t you going to hand me my towel? We need to get going or we’ll be late. And you know how your mother hates that.”

He watched with interest as her nipples hardened in the cool air that streamed in through the window. Ginny shivered. At least some things didn’t change, she thought with an inward snort, weird behaviour or not. He looked like he was itching to come closer and wrap himself around her instead of the towel, but then he seemed to rein in his desire and she felt a rush of irrational disappointment.

“Since when do you care about my mother’s feelings?” he asked dryly, but he did Summon one of his ridiculously fluffy towels for her at last.

“I don’t, but being late is impolite,” she reminded him.

“So is letting yourself into my flat in my absence. But I will forgive you.” His smirk was wicked. She couldn’t look at it without imagining all kinds of naughty things that they could be doing instead of spending the night with his parents. It was awful how he got to her. Not for the first time, she asked herself how in the world this had happened, how they had come from angry shags to this – a Weasley and a Malfoy together and in love. It shouldn’t work out as well as it did.

“You’re thinking it again,” he said as if he was reading her mind, and something in his face and tone hardened in a way that was far more familiar than the strange affability. “Stop it.”

Ginny’s temper flared at once in response, and she scowled at him fiercely, glad for some small outlet for her irritation. “What, now I can’t think?”

“Not if you think about you and me and how it’s not going to last,” he said firmly, closing the space between them at last. His hands went under the damp towel to grip her waist, and he drew her close to press a kiss against her lips. There was a fierce glint in his eyes when he pulled away. “I know when you do, and I want you to stop.”

She sighed softly. “Do you never wonder--”

He shook his head. “Not anymore.”

“With the way it all happened, after the war--”

“It’s done, isn’t it?” he retorted, far too quickly.

Ginny squinted at him unhappily. He was making everything seem easy, when in truth, it wasn’t. She had come to like that about him, about them, and the fact that he was denying every obstacle that they’d worked hard to overcome now was somehow disappointing. It was like denying what they were, how much they’d fought and won.

She tugged lightly on a strand of hair at the back of his neck. “Draco, your parents hate me--”

“They don’t hate you. They might have, but they don’t now.” He grinned. “You’re good for my reputation.”

“Great,” she snarled, pushing him away as she latched onto that readily. “That’s just what I always wanted out of a relationship!”

Draco blinked. “You know I don’t… Damn, Weasley, what’s gotten into you tonight? I was joking!”

The derisive use of her last name did it. She flung the wet towel at him, furious. “You know I hate it when you say that!”

“I. Was. Joking,” he repeated, voice rising in turn. “As we have a hundred times, together.”

“Well, it just occurred to me that it’s not very funny,” she shot back. “Your parents really do think it, too!”

He rolled his eyes. “Who knows what they really think? I certainly never do.”

She felt a flush creep up her neck, burning all the way up to the roots of her hair. “Well, what they really think is that this,” she pointed at him and herself in turn, “is a very bad idea! Everyone does, you know? And I’m beginning to believe that--”

Her anger deflated just as suddenly as it had come when his face hardened, he turned abruptly and stalked out, back into his bedroom.

Ginny arched an eyebrow. He never turned his back on a fight. He enjoyed bantering with her, usually. “Draco?” she called after him warily, sensing that she’d inadvertently struck some nerve.

She heard him huff. “Don’t. Just…don’t. Not tonight.”

Especially tonight, Ginny thought grumpily, reaching for her wand to dry her hair. The meetings with Draco’s parents were the only times she truly ever felt out of place at his side, when she saw the Malfoys’ cold glamour and realised exactly how much of a disappointment she must be to them, as their son’s partner. Much as she didn’t want them to get to her, they did. They were disconcerting like that.

She Accio-ed her underwear and shift and slipped into it. “What’s tonight then?” she called, trying for a lighter tone.

His voice was muffled. “We…I…” As the silk of her clothes slid over her skin with a soft rustle, he came back to stand in the doorframe to watch her. “Let’s just have a nice evening.”

The tone of voice surprised her. He was never entirely serious. He was either wry or mean, but either way, every word of his usually dripped with mockery. But when she looked at him now, his face was tense and his arms were crossed in front of his chest in a defensive manner. Forgetting her own disgruntlement instantly, Ginny crossed the room to put her hand on his, squeezing slightly. “What’s wrong, love?”

“Nothing,” he answered, predictably.

“I know something is wrong! You’re far too…” She gestured wildly as she searched for a suitable word. “Pleasant. Mature. Considerate. Quiet! Now I’ve got it! Talk to me.”

“There is such a thing as too pleasant?” A deep crease appeared between his brows. “I thought that’s what girls wanted, in men they--”

“Girls!” Ginny exclaimed. “I’m not ‘girls’! Tell me right now what’s wrong with you!”

“Nothing!” he snapped, and she relished the moment of healthy, unabated irritation even as she shook her head vigorously.

“You’re lying. Tell me.” She waited for a few moments for a different answer to come forth after all, but when he didn’t say anything else, she dropped her hand. His expression had clouded over and was simply unreadable. It was unlike him. She frowned. “Draco--”

But again, he turned away to pace through his bedroom. “Just get ready, all right?”

Great. This was just was she needed. The Malfoys expecting them for a night out, and a weird almost-fight with her boyfriend. What a wonderful evening this would be. “Right,” she sneered and slammed the bathroom door.



Even though they were both tense and quiet as they met his parents, attending fancy events with him had long since become familiar and comfortable. Ginny rested her hand lightly in the crook of his arm and he led her along the busy streets of London in a self-confident stride that she had no trouble matching, even in high heels.

It was good to know that they could function as a couple, at least, even if they were miffed at each other. The Malfoys were far too perceptive, and Ginny didn’t feel like letting them in on her problems. They would love it if there was trouble between her and Draco…and come to think of it, so would her family. Ginny hoped desperately that she would be able to sort things out before they had to go to the Burrow tomorrow for Christmas dinner.

Not that there would be much of a chance for talking tonight. Ginny had come to love the opera – her parents had never been able to take her as a child – but the prospect of sitting still and stewing for several hours wasn’t pleasant. She gave Draco a sideways glance, but he was looking straight ahead at his parents’ backs and didn’t acknowledge her.

The opera was packed, and though Ginny didn’t usually mind large crowds, it set her teeth on edge tonight. For once, she was glad for Mr Malfoy’s intimidating presence as throngs of people parted for them and startled Muggles moved back to let them pass. Still, she and Draco had to struggle to keep up with the Malfoys who, unable to Apparate, seemed determined to set a new record in fast walking. Narcissa clung to her husband’s arm in a ridiculous manner which suggested that she was rather unnerved. Ginny derived some cruel satisfaction from that.

But once they had arrived in the Malfoys’ private box, the woman relaxed enough to start needling her. She patted Ginny’s hair in a condescending manner which, irritatingly, actually improved her intricate updo, then tugged at a stray thread that hung limply off Ginny’s sleeve. “Please don’t slouch, sit up straight… Honestly, Ginevra, I can’t help but think that you misbehave just to vex me.”

Misbehave! She wasn’t a child! And more importantly, she wasn’t Mrs Malfoy’s child. “Who cares if I slouch?” Ginny retorted, feeling decidedly contrary. “There’s no one here who’ll see, just Muggles.”

Narcissa frowned. “Regardless, Ginevra. Please.” She gave an imploring look to her son and husband, who’d just entered the box, carrying two long-stemmed glasses each. “Draco, say something.”

“Champagne, Mother?” he sidestepped the order smoothly, handing her a glass and Ginny the other, and then the lights went out and the curtain lifted.

In the dark, Ginny sipped at her champagne, wishing heartily for something stronger. Huffing, she forced her hands to unclench and her body to relax into the soft cushion of the chair and, moments later, felt a warm hand slide across her thigh to grasp her fingers. ‘All right?’ Draco’s touch seemed to say and, relieved, she squeezed back. Whatever was wrong with him, he wasn’t upset with her at least, or he was resuming his gentlemanly act. Either way, his touch calmed her now.

And the show was very nice. When Draco had introduced her to the opera on one of their first dates, Ginny had been instantly hooked. It was just so pretty, and she liked watching the Muggles from up here, parading around in their fancy costumes. No, she would not let his parents spoil this night for her, and she would not dwell on anything else, either.

Not much, anyway.

But in the end, she did just that – and before she was aware that much of anything had happened, the ekeltricity…eklektricity…no, electricity went on again and she blinked, startled by the light.

Beside her, Draco shifted in his chair, looking like his mind had been far away, too.

“Well.” Draco’s father turned to them, studying Ginny with his peculiar, cold gaze. Ginny fought the urge to squirm. Draco’s eyes were the same grey, but when he looked at her, they were warm like liquid silver, not hard and icy like this. But Lucius was polite enough with her, these days. It was only smart – she was related to quite a few high-ranking Ministry officials now, after all – but Draco kept assuring her that his father actually had a soft spot for her. Ginny doubted that Lucius Malfoy had soft spots for anything, except maybe, maybe for his wife, but she played along for the sake of peace. “Do you like it, Ginevra?”

“Yes,” she said cautiously. “The music is beautiful.”

“The Muggles butcher it,” Draco’s mother said contemptuously. She had risen and was smoothing down her skirts with careful strokes of her gloved hands. Ginny watched her, despising her perfect attire and elegance. “We once saw a real, magical rendition of it in Milan…” She glanced at her husband, sighing wistfully. “They even had a real dragon for the first scene.”

“Well, at least we have a real, evil queen of the night here with us,” Ginny muttered under her breath, so quietly that only Draco could hear, and he pinched the fleshy side of her thigh in punishment.

“Shh.”

“Pardon?” Narcissa’s voice was crisp.

“Nothing, Mother,” he spoke up quickly, apparently not trusting Ginny to say anything. She grit her teeth. “I remember the dragon. I liked that.” He gave Ginny a weird, speculative look. “We should travel there sometime when they put on the show again.”

Ginny raised an eyebrow. He never made plans far ahead, and he never committed to anything. That had been the appeal of their relationship in the very beginning, when all they were looking for had been quick shags, an outlet for excess energy, no strings attached. It was different now of course, and Ginny wouldn’t have it any other way, but his impulsiveness had never changed. She liked that about him, too. What was wrong with him? “All right,” she shrugged. “We can do that.”

Draco’s face lit up as if she’d just given him an enormous treat. “Good. Yeah. Splendid.” He cleared his throat. His hand tightened on her knee. “Listen--”

“Goodness, it is warm in here,” his mother interrupted the strange tumble of words. “I need to go to the ladies’ room. Lucius, please escort me.”

But her husband didn’t stir, just calmly kept reading the programme. “Narcissa, I’m sure you’ll be fine on your own.”

She glared at him. “How gallant,” she sniffed, sweeping past them in a graceful twirl of silken skirts. “Draco, you will come with me then.”

Draco huffed. The glare he directed at his parents was fierce. “Father!”

But Mr Malfoy smirked and leaned back in his chair, making it perfectly clear that he wouldn’t indulge his wife or his son tonight. “Oh, I’m so comfortable here right now, Draco. Go ahead and guard your silly mother, though Merlin knows she doesn’t need protection.”

Father,” Draco repeated with barely concealed impatience. Ginny looked back and forth between them, wondering what the heck was going on. He was clenching his fist in his pocket, probably clutching his wand. The two men stared at each other silently for a few moments, but then, with a quiet “Hmph,” Draco went, looking displeased.

Puzzled, Ginny raised an eyebrow. “Okay…” she muttered to herself, rising to lean against the rail and look down at the Muggles.

“I beg your pardon?” Mr Malfoy’s voice was curt and coolly polite as always, but a hint of wry amusement caught Ginny’s interest.

She looked away from the crowd mingling and chattering below and glanced back at him. The man was actually smiling – a slight, wicked grin that was faintly worrisome. The evening was bizarre.

“You look chipper. Are you happily imagining pushing me over the railing?” she asked waspishly.

With irritation, she noted that Mr Malfoy kept looking at her smugly, as if he knew something that she didn’t and revelled in the fact. “Ginevra, when the Ministry granted general amnesty after the war, it was agreed that the past is over and forgotten. Let us do that, shall we?” He arched a pale brow when Ginny gave a very unladylike snort. “No, I wasn’t smiling at you. I merely had an interesting conversation with Draco earlier that is still on my mind.”

“An amusing conversation?” Ginny asked incredulously. Draco and his father were equally stubborn, and more often than not, their conversations resulted in each of them being thoroughly aggravated with the other.

He chuckled. “Draco has…ideas…sometimes that I can just tell will end in chaos.”

“With your infinite wisdom,” she said mockingly, but even though she wouldn’t admit it, she knew exactly what Lucius meant, damn him.

“Well, yes,” he drawled. “I gave him the advice he sought of course, but you know how he’ll never listen when he gets excited about something.”

Did she ever! If it hadn’t been for Draco’s persistence, she didn’t know if they’d have made it through the first few whirlwind months of their relationship, when everyone was against them and freely scornful. “And this makes you smile, why?” Ginny asked curiously, wondering what kind of idea Draco could possibly be hatching. It might be an explanation for his behaviour.

Mr Malfoy’s cold eyes flashed, suddenly reminiscent of Draco’s after all, but didn’t reveal anything more. “Watching him go through with his plans is going to be infinitely more interesting than this silly show.”

So there were plans. Ginny frowned. “What is he up to?”

“You will have to ask him,” Lucius smirked, and then the door opened and his wife returned, followed by Draco, who was looking sullen.

“…honestly have no idea what has gotten into you,” his mother finished what must’ve been a long lecture, if Draco’s defensive posture was any indication. “I’ve noticed all day that you’re restless, but--”

Bizarrely, her husband interrupted her, which was usually considered extremely bad manners and subsequently scolded. “Narcissa.”

She looked at him, studying his gleeful face with some surprise. “And what has gotten into you? You’re--”

“Would you give us a moment?” Mr Malfoy addressed his son curtly and, looking relieved, Draco grabbed his girlfriend’s arm and all but dragged her out of the box.

“Draco, what--”

“Come along. I’ll show you something.”

He hurried through the foyer, then up two flights of stairs, through a door and along a narrow hall that didn’t look as if it was meant for use of the public. The lights were dimmed and no one else was there. At the end, long white curtains were billowing in a cool breeze that streamed in through a half-open door.

“Draco, it’ll be cold--” Ginny started crossly, but he didn’t heed her, and suddenly they were outside, high up on a balcony that overlooked the wintery city. He waved his wand in a wide half-circle over their heads, and instantly, the chill that had been biting at her heated skin vanished.

Snowflakes fell all around them, melting against the bubble of warmth that he had cast over the balcony, and the night air was fresh and tasted of frost. London lay covered beneath a blanket of white, as if it had been made from spun sugar, tiny lights peeking out from underneath like glittering fairy wings. It was breathtakingly beautiful, so much so that Ginny almost forgot her irritation.

Almost.

“Damn!” Draco swore behind her, and the peaceful moment was interrupted. “Shit! Fuck! The whole evening has been fucked from the beginning!”

Ginny turned and saw him hover in the doorway under a flickering lantern, his hair glowing in the dim light. His eyes were bright and wide and gleaming with some emotion she couldn’t fathom, and the sudden burst of straight, honest temper was so refreshing, it made her smile. “The opera is nice,” she ventured, then, unable to stand the weird tension between them any longer, “Look, I’m sorry I was testy earlier. I didn’t mean to pick a fight. I was nervous.”

He snorted. “What were you nervous about?”

“Well, you know how your parents make me feel,” she shrugged. “But I shouldn’t have… You were right, I should’ve just enjoyed the evening with you.” She stepped closer and carefully put her arms around him, wary of being pushed away.

But he didn’t, even though he sneered, “I thought I was annoying you?”

“It’s annoying me that you’re keeping something from me,” she answered honestly. “Because you are – no, don’t deny it, I know it’s true. Come on.” She gave him a lopsided smile. “What’s the terrible thing you’ve done that you feel the need to shower me with presents? And affection?”

“What, I’m not allowed to be affectionate for no reason?” He actually pouted – pouted! “Has it occurred to you that I may be affectionate because, oh, I like you?”

“No, well, yes, but it’s just not right!” she said. “I mean, I know you like me, but you have other ways of showing it, usually.”

“Hmph,” he grumbled. “Why did you come along tonight, if you obviously don’t like being with me?”

“Oh God, don’t be so stupid.” She clutched at his rigid back, her face pressed against his chest beneath his chin. He held himself very stiffly, even when he pulled her closer and stroked one thin hand down her spine. Ginny squeezed him reassuringly, wondering what he was afraid of. “I like being with you, and I like going out with you, actually.”

“Really.” He sounded utterly incredulous.

“Yes, of course. Stop wallowing in misery, it’s ridiculous.”

“It’s just that you’re always so anxious what others might think--”

“No, I’m not!”

“Then why are you so convinced that we’re not going to last?”

“I’m not… I mean…” She bit her lip. “It’s just…Draco, we both know this was never meant to be.”

He nodded curtly.

“But I don’t care about that,” she continued, encouraged, “because we know better now. I just…” Her breath escaped on a long sigh. “Sometimes, I remember what we were like, and I wonder how the hell this happened, how we can be so good together when we hated each other before--”

“We can be because we want to be. We can change,” he said angrily. “I want you, and I always get what I want. And I thought if I was more like you wanted, you’d…dammit, Ginny.”

She gave him a look, half-expecting him to stomp his foot and throw a tantrum. She wanted to tease him a bit for that – childish! – but the smouldering ash of his eyes flared with a sudden spark, and she was too mesmerised by the emotion she saw there to say anything at all. He was serious, more serious than he had ever been with her in the three years of their strange, wonderful relationship. In his eyes, she saw the things that he couldn’t tell her, that she had never even known he wanted to tell her, and the realisation rendered her speechless. Inside her chest, her heart was thumping madly against her ribs with sudden nerves.

“I want you to marry me.”

She blinked. If she hadn’t known him so well, the rough, demanding tone would’ve annoyed her, but she had spent three years trying to figure him out, and she knew that he only sounded hostile because he was bracing himself for refusal. Oh, Draco. Always ready to believe the worst, even when she was so utterly, ridiculously in love with him…

She reached out her hand to touch his cheek. It was flushed and hot under her gentle caress. “But?”

She laughed softly when he scowled. “There’s no ‘but’.”

“Sorry,” Ginny teased. “It sounded like it. Like you believe there’s some great obstacle, and I won’t say ‘yes’ anyway--”

“Well, will you?” he snapped. “You’re so bloody unpredictable and good and righteous, how am I supposed to know if you want to live with me and the damn Mark on my arm and our past and my parents and all the things that people say, not just now but forever--”

“Is that why you’ve been behaving like one of the princes out of Fred and George’s Patented Daydreams?” she asked with sudden horror. She had a mind to punch him. “After all that we’ve been through together, you think I’m some vapid, silly--”

“No!” he protested. “I just thought…well, it’s been difficult. This. Us. I thought it might be, well, nice if it was easy for a change, and predictable. That you’d be more likely to consider staying if you got a bit of that fairy tale you always wanted – mind, I didn’t intend to keep it up for much longer, romance is bloody annoying and stressful--”

Her breath escaped in a rush of giggles as suddenly, everything clicked. The letters, the flowers, the chocolates, the endearments and compliments… “Thank Merlin!” she sobbed out, falling into his arms, weak with relief. “You’re horrible at it. Please don’t ever do it again. I hate it, and not in a good way.”

“Ungrateful wench,” he growled, but he didn’t resist when she rose on tiptoes to kiss him.

“Never again,” Ginny whispered against his lips, “pretend to be something you’re not, you git.”

“Is that a yes?” he asked, and she was glad to hear the usual sardonic tint return to his voice.

“Yes,” she said wryly. “If you promise that I’ll get you, the whole package, and not just the things you think I want.”

“All right.” He cocked his head. “If you will promise that you’ll be yourself too, even when we’re around my parents. Or yours.”

Ginny sealed that promise with a wild kiss and didn’t let go till he yielded to her probing tongue and kissed her back.

They didn’t let go of each other for a long time, just stood there, wrapped around each other, as snow fell all around them, smoothing over the flaws of the world and preparing it for a new beginning. In the distance, church bells chimed. Ginny closed her eyes and pressed her face into his starched shirt, smiling. She never wanted this moment to end.

But when it did, it was in a way that was utterly Draco, and it made her laugh.

“Damn,” she heard him mutter into her hair. “Bloody fuck, woman, that was more unnerving than standing before the Dark Lord.”

“Oooh, I’m scarier than Voldemort?” she laughed. She pulled back to look at him coyly, but didn’t let go of his hands. “Now that’s a compliment any girl wants to hear.”

“It’s the truth,” he said with an exaggerated air of gallantry, and they laughed together till they were out of breath and their giddy antics finally attracted an usher.

“Excuse me, but this place is out of bounds, and the second half of the show has started,” the man said, flinging back the curtain that covered the door.

Not even the fact that he was being chastised by a Muggle seemed to ruffle Draco. He reached into his pocket, slipped something into the man’s hand, and led Ginny away without saying anything derisive. That, in itself, was promising. Ginny bumped his arm with her shoulder playfully as they walked, smiling up at him. “Hey.”

“Hmm?”

She just knew it’d take days to wipe that smug smirk off his face. She’d have to annoy him a bit so he didn’t become too pleased with the entire situation. That just wouldn’t do. They needed a few good, healthy barbs now and then to keep things interesting. “Are you ready? You’ll have to break it to your parents later at dinner, won’t you?”

“I already broke it to my father,” Draco admitted, sounding a bit sheepish. “I thought I should prepare him, he doesn’t like surprises.”

“Your father knew you were going to do this?” She stopped in her tracks as Lucius’ strange words from before suddenly began to make sense. “Oh Merlin, he did,” she answered herself. “He said something, earlier… But why isn’t he upset? Shouldn’t he be angry?”

Draco shrugged. “I think aside from our obvious compatibility--” he sniggered when she snorted, “he’s gloating over the fact that it’ll kill your father to see his little girl married to a Malfoy. That, and I asked him to break it to my mum.”

She stared at him. “He’s going to make you pay for that, isn’t he?”

He winced, but his grin didn’t waver. “Probably. He said something about me overseeing his business affairs while he takes mother on a holiday, in the spring. A long holiday…and the ledgers need to be reviewed, argh!”

“But he gave his blessing?” she asked doubtfully.

“Well, what could he do? He knew I would go through with this no matter what… Hey, I would’ve!” he exclaimed when Ginny gave him a look. He shook her lightly. “No one’s going to take you away from me. No one.”

“I’m not one of your toys,” she protested half-heartedly, but she couldn’t stifle her smile. She loved him when he got like this – fierce and possessive. She loved him, period. And she wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

So when he asked, “Are you ready?” she nodded vigorously and tugged at his arm to make him continue downstairs, where his parents awaited them.

“I’m ready,” she declared. “I don’t care what they say, or what anyone will say.”

“Good,” Draco smiled.

And it was.
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