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Here, Tonight by applecede
Here, Tonight by applecede
Never – never – had she ever thought it would be possible to hurt this way. To hurt in such a profound, deep way that it robbed her of her senses; it stole her sight, turned her deaf, sucked away touch and taste and smell and crushed her breath.

Oh, yes, breath. Perhaps this was the most painful part, the part that just ate away at her, ripped her from the inside. She couldn’t breathe. Half the time she couldn’t stomach anything around her and the other half of the time, she felt as though she would faint from lack of air. She felt as though she were eating pain, eating it constantly, gorging herself upon it so that she didn’t even have the time to draw a breath. This pain was physical; it struck her as a fist would. She felt battered and bleeding.

Everyone has a breaking point. Hers was more tolerant than others, but by the time she reached hers, the emotion that had goaded and shoved her there would always be at its extreme. It took a monumental incident to drive her to anger, and when she was finally shoved past the line, her anger was uncontrollable and unstoppable.

She’d had a happy childhood; she’d always had the support of her family and friends and mentors. But she never confided in anyone – or anything – ever since the diary she’d found in her first year at Hogwarts. And so her pain threshold – both emotion and physical and mental – had expanded its horizons, much like her anger. And now she felt as though she had been pushed over the edge of her limit, and she was drowning.

She ran through the corridors, empty of students that had departed for the winter holidays. She heard the sound of her shoes pounding on the stone ground, and every beat was a beat that reminded her that her heart was still beating, that she was still breathing, and she wondered at that, wondered how it could be possible – how could it be true?

She left behind the celebration that had begun at the beginning of the holiday and would be at its peak when Christmas day arrived. There was a lull in the snowstorm – thank gods for that, for she couldn’t bear to be inside any longer – but she slipped and fell twice on her way down the steps, and three more times when she tripped over rocks hidden by the snow.

The fifth time she fell, she made no effort to rise. There was no point; she was only going to fall again. The fall onto the hard packed snow had kicked all the air she had inside of her and she lay there, gasping. She felt badly pummeled, and she knew there would be several ugly, purple bruises from her tumbles.

And then she was crying.

She had cried at night, of course, she’d allowed herself that relief and consolation. But those hadn’t been real tears; they’d been something to fill in the lonely night with, those had been tears of self-pity and denial and hope. These tears came in a rush and she was stunned and frustrated that she couldn’t stop. These tears were wept for a desolate, lonely future that promised nothing but more nights like this. These tears burned a freezing trail down her face, and she lay on her side, desperate for anything, everything, nothing, no – desperate for something.

He uttered her name, and her shaking shoulders stilled instantly as he plowed to her side, falling to his knees beside her in the snow.

Oh, no…

He said her name again, and many other tender endearments after that as he pulled her to him, patting her down, brushing snow out of her hair, chafing her frozen fingers within his hands, scolding her, reprimanding her, soothing her.

“Why didn’t you wear your gloves, Gin?” he demanded hoarsely. “The gloves I gave you, the leather ones. Why didn’t you wear them?”

Why was he talking about gloves and frostbitten fingers when she was like this?

He sounded angry with her. “Stupid, stupid girl…you always were so dumb…”

He yanked off his own gloves and his fingers touched her face, feeling its dampness. The annoyance seemed to leave him like she’d been knocked breathless.

“I saw you fall,” he muttered on, “I thought you’d sprained something, or broken something, you’re so careless…”

She had begun shivering uncontrollably again, and she realized that it wasn’t from the cold, but the side effect of crying. He nearly broke her ribs, but the pain was so welcome.

“D-don’t touch me,” she stuttered, her teeth chattering. She fought to extricate herself from his hold. “Don’t touch me, you’re a Death Eater.”

He whitened and held her tighter. “Can’t we forget about that for one damn – “

“You received the D-d-dark Mark; you didn’t tell me. And – ” she laughed wildly, breathlessly, “ – you’re engaged.” She choked the words out. There they were, finally. She’d finally said it aloud. “You promised me a thousand things you couldn’t give.”

“I can give them,” he swore. “I can keep those promises, Gin.”

“Don’t lie to me anymore!” Her stinging voice was a slap to his face and reeled back as though it had been a physical blow. “I’m not lying. I never lied to you.”

“Oh, sure,” she said bitterly, giving up trying to get out of his arms. “You lied by omission.”

“That’s not lying.”

“According to what? Your stupid male code of honor or something dumb like that?”

“It’s not lying,” he repeated. “There’s a way out of this.”

Her eyes were dark and pit less. He brushed her hair from her eyes. Her sigh was a defeat. “There’s no way out of this.”

He bent his head close to her ear; his breath was warm on her neck, but chilling rapidly. “There’s a way.”

“What way?”

He pulled her to her feet. She took an automatic step away from him. He stuck his hands in the pockets of his pants. “If you don’t realize it, then I’m not going to tell you.”

She laughed hysterically. “You think this is funny?”

His lips twisted, and his face became cold. “No, I don’t think this is – “

“You do!” she insisted. “You think this is funny, don’t you, Draco? Making some stupid, silly, foolish girl fall in love with you just so you can observe what it is to break someone’s heart. You always liked to observe and analyze things. That was it, wasn’t it? Some sort of side project?”

He took two quick steps forward and grasped her shoulders tightly and shook her hard, once, twice, so that her jaw seemed to clatter. His grip on her shoulders was tight, hard, bruising. “I did not break your heart.” And he seemed as though he wanted to add something more, to swear at her, and was just checking himself.

“What do you think is wrong with me then?” she wanted to wail. Instead, it came out as a whisper, barely audible.

“You’re just – just,” he ran a hand through his hair, aggravated, seeking for another excuse, for another way. He said lamely, “You’re just tired.”

She made an inarticulate sound in her throat and then turned away from him, furious and hurting. He tackled her before she reached the end of the lake, rolling – something he’d trained for in Quidditch – to break their fall.

“Stop,” he gasped as her fists pounded against his chest. “Stop, damn it!”

He yanked her hands down and pinned them at their sides. She stared blindly up at him, and she thought he looked gorgeous through the thin sheet of her tears. All pale hair and skin and gray eyes that raged of internal pain.

“Listen to me,” his voice hurt her to listen to, but being around had suddenly doused her with ice water and her senses had been shocked into alertness. “What about you? You’re being sent to work with Aretha to become a Healer. God knows how long you’ll be there.”

“You wouldn’t wait for me?”

“Of course I would wait for you,” he growled. “What kind of stupid question is that? Never mind, I know the answer. The sort of question a daft person would ask.”

“Why – why though,” she implored. “Why did you get the Dark Mark? You know there’s no way, no – ”

His perfect lips thinned. “I had to. There were consequences I wasn’t willing to pay, nor am I willing to have you pay them.”

“You don’t think I’m paying for it now? Oh, you don’t understand – ” She dragged her hands from his and pushed at his shoulders, but rage and emptiness made her weak, so much weaker than she was.

He watched her emotionlessly, and when she drew in a shuddering breath, she thought she saw a flicker of something, stark against his face.

His voice was strangled when he spoke. “I don’t understand?”

“Go away, just go away. Go back to your precious fiancÚ. Go back to the Dark Lord. Go back to those who own you now…because you’re not mine anymore.”

He looked as though he wanted to strike her. “Don’t talk to me about sacrifices. I would run away with you if you would only snap your fingers and give me the word. But would you give up a chance as an apprentice? You told me that it was a once a lifetime opportunity. And your family – what about your family and friends? You mean you’d give all that up, for me?”

She stared at him, anguished.

He sat back, his face cruelly satisfied. “I thought so.”

He never had been able to withstand the distress on her face, and there was no difference now. He reached out and held her, pressing her head to his cheek, trying to warm her of his biting words.

His voice was muffled. “I’m sorry.”

“Me too. I love you.”

He sighed, and his hand moved up to caress her hair. “Don’t say things like that. It’ll just make it worse.”

“If you didn’t want to hear it – ”

“When did I say that?” He touched the side of her face. “When you say the words…it’s like I’ve been starved my whole life. When I think of the future, gods, I don’t want to, but when I think of the future all I can imagine is being thirsty for the rest of my life. And I can’t take that.”

Their foreheads bumped against each other’s briefly, and for a moment, he was the one leaning on her.

“Those words are food, and you’re the water I’m so damn thirsty for. And my future is a long stretch of desert that doesn’t end. So I’d rather not have that luxury just to be deprived of it later on. So just don’t – say it.”

“Then don’t talk about the future! It’s not much of a future anyway,” she sniffled, trying to sound light. She couldn’t quite pull it off.

“No, it really isn’t,” he agreed, pulling her up again and rocking them back and forth slowly. “I’m the future Death Eater; you’re the future Healer. Our paths will cross.”

He didn’t have to say anything else; the implication was there. She closed her eyes in an attempt not to shed a tear. No pity, no tears… “What a mess.”

“You think so?” He tilted his head. “I don’t. Come on. Let’s go back to the castle before you freeze, silly girl.”

He lifted her lightly and set her on her feet. Her hand curled within his; he tightened his grip on her.

They were on the steps of the castle when she drew him to a stop. He looked quizzically at her.

“What? What?”

She gestured expressively at the sky. “Seems like so long ago – really, it was only a year. More than a year.”

He sucked in a sharp breath that seemed to whistle in the still night air, and she saw in his silver eyes that he remembered. Once upon a white December…

The moon hung crooked; the sweeping fog dulled the diamonds that looked just a little bit sharp to him. Everything had been blanketed in snow, and it seemed to dampen sound so he could only hear her light breathing. Her eyes had shone at him then too, only it had been out of enthusiasm because they had been playing and hugging and kissing and everything had been right in the world. He caught the crystalline tear at the corner of her eye with his thumb, but another took its place, filling her eyes so they shone even more.

Then she offered him a tentative, shaky smile.

God, it was always like this – always! His head spun and his senses were thrown into an unbelievably keen sense of responsiveness. Her smiles – any kind of smile – made him want to love every inch of her, made him want to slide his hands down her body, made him want to press hot and cool kisses down her face, her lips, over her eyes, the base of her throat, her collarbone, and her slender, creamy shoulder.

He swallowed with some difficulty. “Gin…”

She read the look in his eyes. “I love you.”

He was weakening. “We shouldn’t – I mean, we – I – ”

She pressed her lips to his and he collapsed promptly. His arms came around her, tight and hard, and his lips were warm and firm against hers. She made a tiny sound in her throat and her lips parted, and he deepened the kiss. And he was swept away.

What would you say if I asked you not to go?
To forget everyone, forget everything and start over with me
Would you take my hand and never let me go
Promise me you’ll never let me go

“We can – we can stop,” he was panting, gasping for breath, “We can stop now, this’ll just make things harder later – we can…I can stop…”

“I can’t,” she whispered against his lips. “I can’t.”

He groaned and bent his head once more. Me neither.

And the stars aren’t out tonight,
But neither are we to look up at them
Why does hello feel like goodbye?
These memories can’t replace
These wishes I wished and these dreams I chased
Take this broken heart and make it right

God, she made him weak. She took away everything strong in him, but the strange thing was, he didn’t feel weak. He felt as though he could catch a comet, move the sun, shoot an arrow that would strike the moon. He felt so much like this…he felt the thudding of his heard against his ribcage, her slim, curvy figure pressed against his harder body, her hair falling across his upper arms.

They stumbled up the front steps, clinging to each other, and he shouldered the entrance door open. Her hands were holding onto both his shoulders and he never wanted her to let go and this was so insane…

I feel like I lost everything when you’re gone
Left remembering what it’s like to have you here with me
I thought you should know
You’re not making this easy

In the future, he would never remember how they made it down the corridors to his private room, a privilege of being the Head Boy of their year. Her back bumped against the bedpost, and it seemed to throw her back into reason and reality.

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe we shouldn’t – that is, it’ll be harder…” Her head fell back as his lips moved in a hot trail across her clavicle.

His blond head came up. “I was wrong. Let’s just – maybe one more time, it won’t hurt.”

“Yes it will, it’ll hurt me. Oh please – ” His lips had left the side of her neck at her words and she arched her back forwards, trying to keep her skin in contact with his lips.

“If you’ll hurt – ”

“No, no,” she was almost sobbing. “No, just – don’t stop, Draco, don’t stop.”

“All right. I won’t.”

As if he could. He’d always thought that he would do anything for her if she’d just say his name like that. His name seemed to roll off her tongue; she seemed to make his name hers. Like he was hers.

“Say my name again.” His voice was rough and lower than usual.

She sighed, and his name was an exhalation, her breath. “Draco.”

His head spun again. He gently pressed her down onto the bed, his body covering hers as he leaned down. And he didn’t know if he really said the words, didn’t really know anything at the moment, but he thought he might have said, or begged or pleaded, but he wasn’t entirely sure, “Don’t go, Ginny. Please don’t leave me. Please.”

Her eyes, melted chocolate eyes that had unconsciously and unwillingly closed, opened to find his steel colored eyes focused dizzily on hers. And she knew he wasn’t talking about tonight; he wasn’t talking about the moment.

She had always been ready and eager to say “I love you” to him; it had taken him longer. Even then, he had always been reluctant to say the words, and she was never quite sure whether it was because he felt he was too superior to say the words or because he wasn’t comfortable saying them. But that had never bothered her that much because he showed his love for her in so many other ways – small, thoughtful ways and big, attentive ways. And he was asking her not to go. That hadn’t been easy for him to say either.

I never thought I’d be the one to say
“Please don’t…well, please don’t leave me”

She leaned upwards into his caresses, watched his glittering eyes that had become hooded with desire and passion. She wanted to shut her eyes again so she could become completely carried away by the sensations he was eliciting, but there was that little thought bordering on the edges of her mind, reminding her that this might be the last time…the last time in a long time. So she kept her eyes opened.

I feel like I lost everything when you’re gone
Left remembering what it’s like to have you here with me
I thought you should know
You’re not making this easy
You’re not making this easy

“You’re not making this easy.”

“What?” she breathed, gazing up at him wildly, fisting her hands in his hair.

He slid his hand across her face as his own hands tangled in her thick dark red hair, made even wavier by his roaming hands. “You make it so hard for me to think of anything else. And I know – when – you’ll do it again. You won’t make it easy on me.”

Take my hand and never let me go,
Take my hand and never let me go,
Promise me
You’ll never let go

He rolled over, bringing her on top of him. Her hair fell around their faces and her lips were swollen red, her skin flushed pink, like roses on cream. He smiled at her, and she smiled back before leaning down to brush a kiss across his lips lightly.

Make this last forever
I feel like I lost everything when you’re gone
Left remembering what it’s like to have you here with me
I thought you should know, you’re not making this easy
You’re not making this easy
So fall asleep tonight, ‘cause that brings me closer to you

“I’m sorry. The room’s freezing,” he said apologetically later, half rising in bed, squinting around in the darkness for his abandoned wand. “I’ll light a fire…”

She sat up beside him and reached for him, dragging him back down in the bed. He smiled indulgently at her as she cuddled closer to him. He tucked her head beneath his chin as they both faced the window. The moonlight lit the room with the palest light, giving everything a castle in the sky sort of connotation. Outside, snow had begun to fall again. His windowsill had at least two inches of snow.

With his free hand, he groped for the heavy silk and fur blankets, draping the material over their entwined bodies. His hand stroked her head with exquisite tenderness.

“Once upon a white December,” he murmured aloud, his hand stroking her hair.

She turned in his arms, nipping gently at his bottom lip. “I wish everything could be all right.”

“It will be. I made you promises, and I intend to keep them.”

She didn’t respond to this, but instead laughed softly. “I never thought everything would lead us up to this point. Ever. Here we are…I never would have imagined.”

Me neither.

Promise me You’ll never let go
You’re not making this easy…

*Song credit goes to Matchbook Romance for their beautiful song, “Promise.”

This story archived at http://www.dracoandginny.com/viewstory.php?sid=1067