Not a day passed that Ginny didn’t spend time with Blaise—and now Draco, too. Despite her fears, Blaise was just as amiable and outgoing as he’d been before Draco’s arrival. In fact, Draco was the aloof one of the group; he only made himself known when Blaise addressed him or when they were sharing cigarettes and lighters.
A few days after Draco’s arrival, they made a trip to a beach on the north side of the island, a different beach than the one at which Ginny had met Blaise. The sand at this beach was coarse, mixed with tiny rocks and broken seashells. A large, sandy hill bordered the right side of the beach, and Ginny claimed a spot there, spreading out her towel on the incline for maximum tanning effect.
Draco put a towel down a few feet away while Blaise, his bag sitting unpacked next to Ginny, went down to the water, a pair of goggles and a snorkel in hand.
Aware of Draco’s presence, Ginny looked for something to say to him, but all she could think about was the dragon on the beach—or in the bank vault, as it were.
“Where’s Astoria?” she finally asked, remembering the blonde woman he’d been with the last time they’d met back home.
He glanced at her, but she couldn’t see his eyes behind his dark sunglasses. She wished she had a pair of sunglasses herself so he wouldn’t be able to see her ogling him shirtless. His skin was so pale it glowed, but rather than looking sickly, he looked… pristine. That was probably the best word for it. How dare he look good in robes and out of them?
“Yes,” she said. “The woman who was hanging all over you last time we met?”
“Oh. I’m sure she’s at home. We’re just friends, Weasley.”
Flushing, she feared he’d think she was interested in him. “Oh,” was all she said. She laid down on her back, placing her hands flat on her stomach, though out of habit, her good hand massaged the injured one.
“Look,” Draco said. “About the money—”
“Hey, guys, look what I found!”
Ginny sat up as Blaise ran up the hill to them, a crab grasped firmly in his hands.
“Is it alive?” she asked. The crab snapped at Blaise’s fingers, answering her question for him
“Cute, isn’t he? I’m going to name him Clive,” he said with a grin.
“What kind of a name is Clive?” Draco asked.
“That happens to be my mother’s first husband’s name, I’ll have you know!”
“Well, I think you need to throw Clive back into the water,” Ginny said, keeping an eye on the snapping crab for the oblivious man.
“Hey, that’s what my mum said about her first husband!” Blaise turned around and ran back down the hill to the water, while Ginny turned to Draco, speechless.
“Was he serious?” She’d heard the rumors of the Zabini matriarch and her seven husbands’ mysterious deaths, but Blaise seemed so carefree that she’d forgotten the stories she’d heard until just then.
Draco shook his head. “I don’t know. I don’t ask about the Black Widow’s ex-husbands. It’s probably best not to know anyway.”
Shivering, Ginny said, “I’m going to go make sure Clive is okay.” Then she followed after Blaise, unaware of Draco’s eyes on her as she left.
When their sandy hill beach grew crowded, they picked up shop and climbed into Blaise’s Fiat to search out a new location. Draco had to squish into the cramped backseat with the towels and bags, but he didn’t complain, which surprised Ginny. He must have been used to traveling this way—not only by car, but by tiny car.
The fact that he wasn’t fazed by the Muggleness of this holiday only made Ginny more curious about him. Blaise had told her that the Zabinis originated from La Maddalena, and since there was no magical community on the island comparable to Britain’s, his Muggle tolerance was understandable. Draco, however, had grown up in England, where magical and Muggle populations were mostly separate, and he’d freely advertised his disgust for non-magical people and their sympathizers. So how was he so accepting now? Wasn’t his skin crawling from just thinking about riding in a car?
She kept eying his reflection in the rear-view mirror, but he seemed absolutely indifferent to his surroundings, including the steeply swerving curves, the bumps in the road, the humid heat that the car’s broken air conditioner couldn’t fight. He looked out the window, and she could only assume he was staring at the sea as they drove around the perimeter of the island looking for a less-populated beach.
“I think this is the place. What do you think?” Blaise asked, as his speed slowed to a crawl.
Ginny’s eyes darted from the rear-view mirror to her window, where a relatively empty beach spread out in both directions, interspersed with rocks and coarse brush.
“Looks good to me.”
“Just get me out of this car,” said Draco.
Ginny turned in her seat, but rather than finally displaying his disgust for Muggle technology, Draco was sweating profusely and pulling his shirt away from his chest. Ginny and Blaise had their windows rolled down, but the windows in the back couldn’t be adjusted, and clearly the breeze didn’t reach Draco.
They parked and unloaded their bags, claiming a piece of sandy territory with the insertion of an umbrella in the ground. Once again, Blaise gravitated towards the water with his snorkel gear, and Ginny was just about to make herself comfortable on her towel, but Draco wandering off towards the rocks caught her eye. She watched him carefully step from one rock to the next, until he reached a point where he had to use his hands to help him climb.
Once he reached a suitable spot hanging out over the water, he stopped, and the wind rustled his clothes, tousled his hair. The sight of him standing on the rocks like that, facing the sea, his very image being unmade by nature's howling breath, captivated Ginny, who had only ever seen him poised and in business attire. Unlike Blaise, Draco did not look comfortable in Muggle clothes, but he wore them, and that was impressive enough.
She stood up and followed him up the rocks, taking one step at a time, until the way was burdened with a lack of the short, flat rocks that littered the edges of the beach. They grew taller, and she had to use her hands to pull herself up, but she hesitated because of her injured hand. If it spasmed and she let go, she would fall, potentially hurting herself more, damaging her damned hand worse.
She was just about to turn around and go back to sunbathing when Draco's hand reached down for her. She looked up, blinded by the sun and how his hair reflected it, his face in shadow.
"Come on. I'll help you."
"I can't," she said, slightly panicky. "My hand. I'll fall."
"No, you won't," he said, moving slightly so that he blocked the sun from her vision, and suddenly his face came into focus. He was expressionless, and for that she was thankful. She didn't know what she would do if he'd pitied her. She pitied herself enough as it was.
She gave him her hand, and as he pulled her up, she used the rocks as leverage to climb, her free hand keeping her steady. She felt the muscles tense in her bad hand, her fingers curling and stiffening, but Draco only clutched her harder; he never let go. When she made it up, he pulled her to her feet, and breathing heavily—not necessarily from exertion—she thanked him.
They weren't too far off the ground, but the added height of the rocks made her feel stronger, made the world more stunning. From here, she could see through the crystal clear water to the seabed, where fish swam and corals sat. She could see where the water darkened, became a little murkier at the line between shallow water and deep. Out in the distance, the tip of the French island Corsica was visible, and to Ginny it looked like a lost world, an island that traveled to different locations depending on the weather.
Over it all, the sun shone, making the water sparkle like diamonds floating on the waves. "Beautiful," she said breathlessly, awestruck by this place that she was only too fortunate to visit. Thanks to Draco.
When she glanced at him, he was staring down at her, a small smile tugging at his lips. Not a smirk, an actual smile. Without her realizing it, his hand was still holding hers, and now he pulled her to the edge of the rock, the part hanging over the water. They took a seat, their legs dangling, and Ginny couldn't look away from the spectacle spread out before them.
"Is it always this beautiful here?" she asked.
"Even when it rains," he replied. When she give him a skeptical look, he added, "I just mean to say that even when the weather is murky and the water looks more gray than blue, there's still something about this place that I've never seen anywhere else."
"The only other place I've been is Egypt," said Ginny. "And Egypt definitely doesn't compare to this."
He nodded in agreement. "Even the wild parts of it make the beautiful parts that much more lovely." As Ginny looked around at the granite rocks jutting out of the sand, the rough shrubbery that grew between the rocks, she understood what he meant.
His cheeks were reddening, and Ginny couldn't blame them. With such clear skies, the sun seemed to penetrate through their clothes to their very cores. She couldn't believe how hot it was, but the cool sea breeze soothed her skin. Some of her hair had escaped the confines of her braid, and she pushed strands of it back behind her ear, but the wind kept mussing it up.
"How long have you been coming here?" she asked.
It took him a moment to answer, which gave Ginny the opportunity to look at him from the corner of her eyes—something that was swiftly turning into a bad habit.
"I guess since the war ended. After the trials, my mother sent me here to stay with Blaise and get out of the public eye. No one was happy with our sentences, or lack of, and she feared retaliation. I stayed for a month or longer that autumn, and then I turned them into annual summer trips."
Hesitantly, she asked, leaving the question open ended, "You never went back to Hogwarts?"
He simply answered, "No." He looked away, his hair falling in his eyes conveniently.
"I wish I hadn't gone back," Ginny admitted. “I tried out for the Falcons the summer before my seventh year, you know."
Instead of rising in shock, his eyebrows scrunched into a V over the bridge of his nose. "No, I didn't know."
"Yeah," she said, leaning back to rest on her arms, her face turned up to the sun and her eyes closing. "I couldn't bear the idea of going back into the castle. I was determined to play Quidditch, and I made the team even though I wasn't of age yet. My mum convinced me to go back to school, but I wish I'd had that extra year of Quidditch."
She hadn't meant for the yearning to come out in her voice, but she couldn't help it. Sometimes when she remembered how it had felt to clutch a broom or the camaraderie she'd had with her teammates, a physical, aching pang wracked her ribcage. Sometimes she became breathless, like she forgot to breathe as long as she remembered how she used to feel, experiences and emotions she would never have again.
"Have you been on a broom... since the accident?" he asked with unexpected sensitivity towards her feelings on the subject.
She shook her head. "No. If I hurt myself again, I could permanently damage my hand."
"But you're a flawless flier. Your injury had nothing to do with your flying."
"Doesn't matter. I won't take that risk." She sat back up, closing herself off from his scrutiny, looking away from him so that she wouldn't notice if his eyes were on her.
Moments passed, and then: "Listen, Ginny. About your injury—"
"Hey, guys?" Blaise called. "I think I've been stung by something." He stood at the foot of the rocks, looking up at them with a worried expression, his hand held above his head as if to prevent it from coming in contact with the rest of his body.
"Seriously," Ginny muttered. "He's like a child sometimes."
"Yeah," Draco said darkly as he helped her to her feet. "Just like a child."
A few days later, Ginny found herself on the upper deck of a what Blaise called a "spaghetti boat," the wind swirling her hair around her face as they cut through the water at top speed for Cala Soraya, a beach on the island of Spargi. Ginny held onto the railing behind her, fearing for her life as the boat rocked and hit the water heavily with each wave. Everyone else on the deck laughed and talked as if taking a leisurely, and decidedly less dangerous, carriage ride. Even Draco and Blaise, sitting on Ginny's left, had little smiles on their faces, and every time a wave launched the boat into the air, they laughed, as if the very force of the jump had pushed their laughter out of them.
Ginny gritted her teeth and prayed to Merlin that her hands wouldn't let go of the rail. When the boat finally docked, Blaise had to pry her fingers off and pull her off the bench. She didnt feel like herself until she was sitting on the beach, flicking ashes off the end of a cigarette.
"Here's to new adventures," Blaise said, raising his own cigarette in the air as if in a toast.
"Here's to surviving," Ginny muttered.
"Didn't you enjoy the ride?" Draco asked with a smirk.
Ginny blew out a puff of smoke and frowned. "No."
"I always think it's like riding a broom, just without all the work."
"You mean without the control," she said.
"Do you like to be in control, Miss Weasley?" Blaise asked, lowering his sunglasses to get a better look at Ginny.
"Yes, tell us more about that," Draco added, his smirk turning into a leer.
Ginny frowned and put out her cigarette in the sand, ignoring both of them, but her cheeks burned red and she hoped they couldn't tell. Then, a moment later, she was thankful for her new sunglasses because when Draco pulled his shirt up over his head, no one could see her staring at the way the muscles in his back pulled and flexed. Suddenly, the burn in her face traveled downward, filling her whole body with heat. She rolled over onto her stomach, but after their teasing, she was too aware of her body, so she rolled over again.
"Uncomfortable?" Blaise asked.
Irritated, she sat up. "I'm going to go sit in the water. It's way too hot."
Walking out into the sea, Ginny kept on eye on the seabed. After Blaise's sting ("I think it was a jellyfish. Or maybe a sea urchin!”), she wanted to be careful, and the blue-green water was so clear, nothing was hidden below the surface. She waded out to her knees, a good twenty to twenty-five feet away from shore, and then sat down, spreading her legs out before her. She splashed some water onto herself and sighed. The sun glared down from above, and it would have burned her to a crisp, but the water was still cold, a refreshing contrast.
When a shadow fell over her, she sighed again, this time partly in exasperation. "Here to tease me some more?"
"Not at all." Draco sat down next to her, but didn't make an effort to converse, for which Ginny was both relieved and disappointed.
Out of the corner of her eye, she watched him dig up a handful of sand and then drop it back in the water. He did this over and over again, and Ginny's attention became particularly glued to the way his long, refined fingers wriggled, allowing the sand to fall between them. In a few short days, he’d also grown surprisingly tan, and the healthy glow suited him—as did the messy beach hair. She gulped, and when she glanced up at his face, he was smirking. Her eyes darted back to the horizon as she pushed her sunglasses up her nose for good measure.
"I think Blaise fancies you," Draco said after several moments of silence. Even in the silence, the chatter of people on the beach reminded them that they weren't alone.
"What?" she said with an incredulous laugh. "Me? Why do you say that?"
“I know what he's like when he's interested in a girl. He gets intensely jealous. Haven't you noticed how we can never be alone for long before he interrupts us?”
“N-no, I hadn't noticed,” she stammered. The way he said the word alone—probably perfectly normally, but she had an active imagination—made her mind swim with all kinds of scenarios in which she and Draco were, of course, alone.
“He's too much like his mother,” he said.
“I don't have any money,” she blurted out. When he looked at her, eyebrow raised, she clarified. “That's why his mother kept remarrying, right? They say she wanted her husbands' money. Well, I don't have any money, so what would Blaise want with me?”
“That's a good question,” he answered sarcastically. “I'm sure his interest has nothing to do with the fact that you're beautiful and smart and surprisingly witty.”
“I—what?” she asked, her tongue heavy and thick in her mouth.
Draco seemed to realize that he'd said too much because his body tensed up, and his head turned away from her. “I’m just cautioning you to be careful.”
“Aren’t you two supposed to be friends?” she asked, mystified by the conversation. Who cared if Blaise fancied her? And why did Draco feel the need to enlighten her to the fact? Did he really think she was beautiful?
“We are friends,” he affirmed,” but like I said, I know what he’s like. Even though he has a neutral personality, there’s a reason he was Sorted into Slytherin. He does whatever he can to get what he wants.”
Ginny was still confused as to why this needed to be said. “He’s been really nice to me since I arrived. What are you—”
“No,” Draco said, holding his hands up defensively, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to undermine whatever you have with him. I just—”
“But there’s nothing there,” Ginny interrupted quickly. “He’s been very supportive of me, and it’s been a welcome change, but I’m not… I don’t fancy him like that or anything.”
“Oh.” There was a V-like crease in his brow and his lips were turned down in a frown. He continued to play with the sand, manipulating it between his fingers, and Ginny smiled, finding his expression kind of cute, but part of her wanted to ask him, Who are you and what have you done with the real Draco Malfoy?
“Sounds like you need more people in your life pushing you forward instead of holding you back,” he said a few moments later.
“That would be nice.”
Draco leaned forward, the look in his eyes serious and intense. “I mean you, too.”
“Yes, you. The Ginny Weasley I know rebelled against Death Eaters at Hogwarts when Potter wasn’t around to do it. I’m sure your mum didn’t support you then, but you fought until you weren't around to fight anymore. And then you fought at the battle even though you weren’t of age, and none of your family could have been happy about that. But you didn’t let anyone hold you back. And just because you injured your hand, that doesn't mean you can't do the things you used to do."
"What do you mean?" she asked, her eyes narrowing. They were hidden behind her sunglasses, so maybe he didn’t realize the dangerous waters he was treading into.
"You say you haven't flown on a broom since the injury, but you still can. What's stopping you? You're afraid to get hurt again."
"I think that's a little out of line!" she protested.
"No, it's not. ‘I won’t take that risk.’ Isn’t that what you said to me? Not only are you afraid to get hurt again, you're afraid for anyone to see your weakness, so you hold yourself back.”
“I do not! It’s everyone else who is holding me back!”
“If that were true,” he said in an annoyingly calm voice, “then you wouldn’t have isolated yourself to an island of pity when you left for your holiday. You would have done more.”
“Well, I planned to!” she said, irritated both at him for being right and at herself for being wrong. “I wanted to travel all around Europe and do things and see things I’d never done or seen before.”
With a roll of his eyes he said, “Planning and wanting to do something are not the same as doing it.”
Before Ginny could answer, their tour guide called for the group to board their boat again. Even though she couldn’t understand a word he was saying, his waving gestures were clear enough. When she turned around, Blaise sat on the sand close to the water, the bucket in his hand and pile of sand next to him signifying he’d attempted to build a sandcastle.
The look on his face made it obvious that he’d been trying to listen in to Ginny and Draco’s conversation, and as Draco stood up to return to the beach, he said, “Told you so.”
Ginny spent the next few days thinking about everything that Draco had said to her and how right he was. She’d wanted independence from all her naysayers, and yet she’d allowed them to control her decisions even after she was a thousand miles away from home. This wasn’t what she’d wanted for herself, and, like Draco had said, this was nothing like the girl she used to be. Perhaps circumstances during and since the war had caused her to become more resistant to change, turning her into the cautious person that her friends and family wanted her to be. But she didn’t have to be that safe person any longer.
The night market in Palau was like nothing she’d ever seen, and Ginny knew she was going to miss La Maddalena, even though it had taken her awhile to warm up to it. The piazza through which she and Blaise had walked soon after they’d met was now crowded with vendors, their tables set up in long rows with portable lights shining down on their wares. Not only was the market crowded with sellers, potential customers flooded the piazza, making it difficult to navigate down the aisles. The smells of street foods pervaded the stuffy atmosphere, cementing the experience in all of Ginny’s senses.
As she squeezed through the crowd, she caught glimpses of leather purses, mobile phone accessories, homemade sweets, and all sorts of jewelry and trinkets. The glittering of something reflecting light caught her eye, and she turned in a new direction to get a better look. The old man behind the table smiled toothlessly at her as she took in the tiny glass figurines littered across the table. Each figure represented some kind of animal, no bigger than an inch tall or across. The glass itself was perfectly clear except for a bit of translucent color on the tips of tails, some ears, feet.
A cardboard sign sitting on the corner of the table read:
“See something you like?”
Ginny jumped and spun around, which was quite a feat in the packed crowd. Children jostled her to get as close to the table as possible, little hands reaching for the figurines and cooing over their cuteness. Draco stood directly behind her, and when she was facing him, there was a hair’s width of space between them.
“Oh, no, they’re just silly pieces of glass,” she answered. They were so close, the smell of his soap overpowered the smells of the food wafting through the air. They’d spent another long day on a beach, and he must have just taken a shower before leaving for the market.
“Which ones do you like?” he asked.
Swallowing thickly, she turned back to the table, all too aware of the front of his body pressing against her back and his head towering over hers. She tried to pay attention as she looked through the figures for the animals and colors that she liked best, but his hot breath tickling the back of her neck was all she could think about.
Finally, she picked up a stretching cat with orange feet and tail; a simple, graceful yellow swan; and a dragon that was barely the size of her thumb but still intricately detailed with a green tail and horns. She held them up in her hands, and Draco nodded in approval, laying a €1 coin on the table.
“Grazie, signore!” the old man said.
Then Draco took Ginny’s elbow and pulled her away from the crowd with ease. She could only assume that his wealth and power exuded from him, keeping people at bay, making them want to stop and let him through.
“I need to tell you something,” he said.
“I need to tell you something, too,” she said. They were now at the playground where she and Blaise had eaten American pizza nearly two weeks ago. Children ran all over the equipment like ants on an anthill, but the area was much less crowded and devoid of adults. “Wait, where’s Blaise?”
Draco rolled his eyes. “We stopped back at his place for a shower, but he passed out.”
“We shouldn’t have let him drink that much,” Ginny said, worried.
“No one can make Blaise do something he doesn’t want to do, and if he wanted to drink, we couldn’t have stopped him.”
“Well, I suppose you can tell Blaise for me tomorrow,” Ginny said.
“Tell him what?”
She took a deep breath and sat down on the bench next to them, prompting him to sit too.
“You were completely right about me. I have been holding myself back. I am afraid of getting hurt again. I do try to hide what’s wrong with my hand so no one will pity me. I’ve had a lot of fun with you and Blaise these past couple of weeks, but I think I need to start the holiday I intended to have.”
“You’re leaving?” Draco asked, and in the darkness, Ginny couldn’t see his face well enough to read his expression.
“Yes. Tomorrow, I think. I’m going to go back to Rome and try that again, and then work my way to other places. I can’t let this opportunity go to waste. Who knows if I’ll ever have this chance again?”
His back straightened, and his head turned to observe the children on the playground. “I must admit,” he said reluctantly, “your presence here has made this holiday… more enjoyable than expected.”
Ginny nudged him with her elbow and laughed. “Come on. Just say you’ll miss me.”
His eyes captured hers. “I will. I will miss you.”
Her laughter died on her lips and her mouth fell open in confusion. “I didn’t—I never—You—”
“Don’t you believe me?” he asked. His face loomed closer, but even though they were looking into each other’s eyes, Ginny didn’t realize how close he was until his lips were hesitantly brushing against hers.
Sucking in a deep breath, she wrapped her arms around his neck and sealed her body to his. The balmy breeze didn’t compare to the heat between them and inside of her, starting from her lips and traveling through the avenues of her veins until every inch of her was on fire. A rushing noise filled her ears, and it reminded her of the buzzing sound the telephones at the Ministry made when angry callers hung up on her. In other words, the kiss, the taste, the heat, the sounds: everything was bliss.
When they pulled apart, she kept her eyes closed and focused on breathing, but she felt his hands drift up to gently grasp the sides of her face. Then his lips lightly pressed against hers again, and then her nose, her chin, and her lips one more time.
“Wow,” she said breathlessly. “Wow.”
He released her, and they sat facing forward on the bench in silence. The word 'wow' kept repeating in her mind over and over again along with the kiss.
“Listen,” he finally said. “I just have one question before you go.”
“Yes?” Ginny's heart pounded. The kiss had been amazing, but this... whatever this was, it was too soon. Wasn't it?
"Why did you take the money?"
She shook her head. Had she heard right? “What?”
“Why did you take the money?” he repeated.
"You gave it to me!" she answered quickly, this time prepared for the question and flustered because of it. Had she been right from the beginning? Had the money and this holiday all been a trick? A way to make her indebted to him?
"You didn't have to take it," he said. His face was hard to read. She couldn't figure out if he was angry or merely curious. "Why didn't you return it? Did you think it was owed to you?"
Now Ginny was flabbergasted. "What? No! I... I needed to get away, and I'm sorry for taking the money. I knew I should have given it back. I'll return it! Somehow, I'll give it all back to you."
He placed a hand on her arm. "No, that's not what I meant. I want you to keep the money. It was my intention for you to have it and use it however you saw fit."
He reached down for her injured hand, grasping it in both of his gently. Then, as if coming to his senses, he let it go and looked away from her, a grim look apparent on his face by the crease in his brow and the tightness of his lips, but the light from a lamp cast half his face in shadow, making him look sinister.
"Did you know that I own the Harpies?"
"No. What does that have to do with—"
"I felt like—I mean, I feel like I owe you something for what happened to your hand. You lost your career so soon after it began, and you were a fantastic Chaser. You would have gone far."
Ginny's own lips tightened, but she was trying to keep them from trembling as her eyes stung and she blinked away tears.
"I thought about it a lot after you were injured and let go. I expected you to sue my team; I waited for you to badmouth my players to the press. But years passed, and you just accepted it, and I thought you deserved something for your trouble."
"Wait," Ginny said, looking into his face for the hidden message in his words. "Are you saying that... that you own the Holyhead Harpies, and when you gave me that money, you were buying me off?"
To his credit, his eyes widened as if he knew he'd misspoken immediately. "No! No, not at all. I felt bad. I wanted—"
"You felt bad for me? You gave me money out of pity?" Her anger was growing, and she hadn't felt this angry in years. Not since the accident. Maybe not even then; she'd felt so desolate after being let go from the team that she might not have had it in her to feel anger. But all those years of helplessness, of acceptance and confusion concerning her life, were turning into a boiling rage, reaching maximum heat too fast for her to bear or control. At her sides, her fists shook. Well, only one of them. Her injured hand, as it usually did in times of stress, became unresponsive, the nerves ignoring her brain's involuntary and angry command to fold her fingers into a fist. She stood up to have some height over him in her powerlessness.
"No! It wasn't like that, either. Listen, Ginny—"
"No, you listen! When I signed my contract, I knew what I was getting into. I knew that no person, team, or league would be responsible for any injuries I could have received while playing, and the fact that you thought I would turn around and make a fuss because of something I agreed could be a possibility..." She took a deep breath through her nose and exhaled through her mouth. The short burst of air came out as smoke with a hint of sparks. "I can't believe you thought I would do something like that!"
Stunned and speechless, all Draco could do was stare at her, wide-eyed and bewildered. "I never intended..."
"It's not about your intentions! Did you ever think how such a gesture would look to me?"
Now his bewilderment turned into his own anger. "You took the money! You could have given it back, but instead you accepted it and used it. I thought that made us even!"
"Well, I didn't know what I was accepting. If I'd known you were paying me off and pitying me, I would have returned the money or given it away to charity or... or thrown it into the Thames!"
She stalked away from the bench, leaving him stunned, but then she turned around and stomped back, unable to leave the argument where it was. Tears stung her eyes, and they made her angrier because she didn't want to be weak in front of him, not while she was in a righteous rage.
“If I hadn't already decided to leave and go out on my own, you would have just made that decision easier for me. So thank you for that. Tell Blaise goodbye for me, and, don't worry, I will return the rest of your money when I'm through with it.”
But she didn't wait to hear what he had to say. She fled into the crowd to catch the first ferry back to La Maddalena.
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