She stared at the painting for a few seconds, feeling weak inside. Her eyes widened suddenly and she placed it down. Everything went uncertain suddenly. Lines blurred, faces rotated in her mind, events scattered, puzzle pieces fell apart and then came together and then fell apart. She ran a hand through her hair, which she had already half cut with the scissors. Suddenly she felt stupid, incredibly stupid.

Ginny laughed to herself bitterly, a laugh where you didn't smile, simply released the bitter sound. She traced her finger over the ring. When did he want to marry her? When and how? Why was she so stupid as to never check on the canvas lying on her desk?

She looked out the window at the ever-thickening falling snow. It seemed like a bad night to go out and race to his apartment. She couldn't possibly Floo Powder into it, she would probably scare him halfway to death, popping out of the chimney. Or she'd catch him changing for bed. It would be even worse.

Ginny's hands shook but she finished cutting her hair, rapidly, so that it was just barely to her shoulders. She raced around the room nervously, trying to find something to grab hold of, some sort of outfit to throw on.

She finally gave up and yanked on a raincoat, wrapping it around her to hide the nightgown she was wearing. She pulled on socks and her old tennis shoes. Glancing in the mirror, her hair a mess and dressed like a hospital patient, she could only hope that nobody could see her too well through the snow.

Ginny raced down the staircase and through the kitchen, heading for the backdoor. Ron was still sitting at the table though, peeling himself an apple. He looked up and frowned instantly, seeing that she had dressed rapidly.

" Don't tell me you'll actually run after him." Ron sighed.

" You don't understand. He wants me to marry him." Ginny exclaimed.

" Marry you?" He blurted out. " I don't know how long you analyzed what he told you tonight, but let me assure you, he did not propose in any way…"

" Oh, Ron, you couldn't understand. I - - you don't have time to find out." She threw the door open. " I have to go after him!"

" Are you crazy?" Ron jumped up and slammed the door shut. " You can't just drag yourself back to him – not after how he treated you!"

" He…" Ginny shook her head. " I'll explain everything later." She pulled on her overcoat and raced out into the snow.

The blinding swirl of white flakes was enough to discourage anyone else to stop, but she felt she had to clear it up right now. She had to tell Draco. They might have been both drunk before, but she would never just throw him away. She would have never done this if she hadn't been so assured that he meant to marry her.

She raced through the snow, Ron screaming her name in the doorway.

" I'm sorry, Ron!" She blinked away snowflakes. " I have to do this for me. I can't worry about everyone else if I'm not happy first!"

Draco sipped at the cup of hot coffee in the mug in his hand. It was no substitute for alcohol, but for some reason, he had no wish to taste wine tonight. Smaller things had upset him to the point where he'd drink himself to sleep, but not tonight. Tonight he just wanted to drink coffee and sit up as long as he could to figure things out.

The turning point in his life, he figured. Things were not the way they seemed.

He was sure that Ginny cared for him. Her own propaganda about trying to make it together, to be together as much as possible, to tie themselves to one another, in order to make people accept them as parts of one another and not as separate pieces. Silly talk from a romance-novel infused girl.

She wasn't serious after all. Her brilliant chocolate brown eyes, filled with tears and wonder as they would chat away for long nights together. Her crisply falling red curls. It was just too much to take in all at once. It was an overwhelming thought, this sudden realization of his own place in the world.

How could she have even been serious? She was eighteen, tasting life just a year out of school, there was no way she'd choose to marry so suddenly. She might have wanted a good friend. He believed she did have good intentions. Love wasn't on her list though; she was probably experiencing a light crush, a dizzy-headed feeling that washed away quickly after a series of disappointments. He had provided enough of those.

Crushing scruple ripped at his heart. He couldn't describe the feeling in any way other than that it felt like his heart ripping at the insides of his rib cage with sharp nails, scratching until it sputtered silent, drowning in its own blood. It was a feeling much worse than death, heavier and even more painful.

Nevertheless, a Malfoy didn't commit suicide. A Malfoy would outlast and outlive all the humans in the world, even if the conditions were unbearable. A Malfoy would rather let the conditions kill him than to give up.

He cringed at the chill in the room. It was colder than he could imagine. How could Potter stand it? Immediately, his brain recycled the thought and turned it into: I hope it was so cold he couldn't sleep at night.

Draco rubbed his fingers together and glanced at the window. The curtains were ruffling lightly. That was pretty unusual. He walked up to the window and pulled the curtains ajar. The window was open – no wonder it was so cold! He rolled his eyes and shut it closed, making sure to be gentle, for the rickety wooden frame barely held the glass.

He stared out the window. Someone was standing in an annoyingly vibrant neon orange coat. He blinked and pressed closer to the window, trying to see through the net of snowflakes outside. There was a girl pacing outside. Ginny, his heart exclaimed, but then he looked closer. Dark wisps of shoulder-length hair bubbled out from beneath the bright hood that covered the woman's face. The hair was too short.

He pulled away from the window, but couldn't tear his eyes away. Something intrigued him. The girl was talking to the doorman but the doorman was shaking his head no. Draco knew what the whole deal was over – after 9, no visitors were allowed into the apartment complex. Pity was possibly the only emotion that Draco had left to spare. Pity towards himself and others, towards humanity.

The girl was crying, she was pacing and crying and saying something frantically. The doorman was shaking his head apologetically, and therefore the girl was getting nowhere except perhaps pacing a grave-sized hole in the ground for herself. Draco sighed. He might as well do a good deed, for once.

He buzzed the intercom. " Could you please let my cousin in, Smith? She's waiting outside in the snow."

Smith was the doorman. The crackled reply came: " It's 9:45 sir!"

" This isn't a tea party I'm hosting. Let her up, urgent." Draco hissed.

Smith stepped aside and the girl raced into the stairwell. Draco sighed and sat back on the couch, trying to figure out what he was doing before he got so distracted. Oh yes, my hot coffee, he thought, amused, picking it up and taking a luxurious sip. Doing something good did feel fairly nice inside. It was like giving yourself an artificial dose of joy by giving some to others. Maybe Ginny was onto something, he rationalized.

He could hear footsteps coming up the staircase. Christ, does she make a racket though! He could hear her – she was on the top floor, his floor. Then, the feverish knocking on her door.

" Lady, I'm not your cousin." Draco said, finally. " Believe it or not." He added under his breath before continuing. " I just wanted to let you in, that's all."

" Draco!" It was Ginny's voice, unmistakable.

" Ginny?" He asked.

She rattled the doorknob. " I'm sorry!" She shouted at the door.

" Shh!" Draco quieted her and opened the door.

There she stood, her red hair cleaved short and so wet it looked brown, her eyelashes glued together so they formed little clusters, like the corners of a star. " Draco, I didn't know! I swear, I…"

He was taken aback, something wasn't registering. The tape in his mind, his memory, was growing fuzzy as it began to rewind slowly. " Ginny, I…"

" Yes! I mean Yes, that was my answer. Yes." She sobbed, wrapping her hands around his waist. She pushed her face down into the nook of his arm. " Please, don't be mad."

" I'm not mad." He whispered, stroking her hair. " How could I be mad?"

" You're not?" She looked up, smiling already.

" Well, a little." He laughed. " You should have - - how could you have not known what I was talking about?"

" I didn't see the painting." She told him. " Oh, it was so romantic. You don't even know how shocked I was."

" I'm sorry too then." He told her quickly, his face darkening with a blush. " I didn't… I wasn't sure how… it was just so spontaneous, I didn't even think it over or anything."

" I'm glad you did it." Ginny told him. " My answer would've been yes."

" What about your family?" He asked. " I can't promise you that all the problems would be solved, and I'm not going to run away from them anymore."

" We'll fix everything. You're… you're really something else. Something different in my eyes than I first thought." Ginny confessed, blushing heavily. " I love you. Don't you understand? I love you so much."

He pulled her close and kissed her gently. " I wanted to say this for so long." He breathed. " I love you too. Maybe I'm an idiot, but I really do love you. A Weasley."

She was laughing, feeling light as air as his kisses trailed down her cheek bone, down to her neck, then up to her lips again. " There's still so much to solve." She told him, worriedly. " But I don't care. All it takes is a little push and everything can get better. I know it can. It will!"

" We'll just have to wait and see." He told her, smiling. Suddenly, he saddened. " I don't even have a ring. I'm a horrible fiancée already."

" A ring doesn't matter!" She said.

" I don't have any money."

" You have a good job."

" But Harry… I can't face him again!"

" I know you both did some wrong to one another, but in the end, he's willing to forgive. He's been holding his hand out to you for a long time. He's asking you for forgiveness, in his own proud way. He's as proud as you, sometimes." Ginny told him. " He won't say it outright, but… Harry really is sorry. It's crushing him inside."

" I guess time will heal things." Draco said softly. " I'm not ready to be friends with him, but I guess we can tolerate one another."

" That's all I ask for." Ginny kissed him again.

" You're cold." He peeled off her coat and took the blanket off the couch and wrapped it around her shoulders. " You'll freeze to death."

" At least you'll be here." She laughed.

They stared at each other, smiling, the shields and walls broken between them, only a few bricks and crags left to cross over, to pave and smooth with fresh cement. And perhaps the closest cement, the closest bonds and holds, were made by love.

It was a fine winter day, they were both walking through the knee-deep snow, rings glistening on both hands. They had left behind two snow forts and stacks of snowballs, along with a standing army of two snowmen each.

They had thrown snowballs at each other and Ginny had accidentally thrown her ring along with her 'attack missile'. So they spent a good half hour searching the snow for it, but they did find it.

Now they walked hand in hand. He shivered and Ginny wrapped her yellow scarf around him. His blue eyes were merry and his cheeks rosy and aglow. As they walked on, the golden scarf frolicked in the air behind them, and Ginny's red hair rolled through the wind behind them, both twining and dancing together. Hers was shorter, just barely skimming her shoulders, but was now a true sea of fire.

And for once, the colors suited Draco as well.


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