Author: Heart's Cadence PM
[COMPLETE] DG. Malfoy is acting suspiciously, and the Trio immediately assumes the worst. However, when Blaise Zabini offers Ginny a different perspective, she begins to wonder if maybe all of their beliefs concerning Draco are just...misconceptions.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Ginny W. & Draco M. - Chapters: 45 - Words: 219,255 - Reviews: 2,405 - Favs: 1,425 - Follows: 383 - Updated: 03-05-06 - Published: 09-22-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2589657
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N – Does not follow HBP.
Disclaimer – This will cover every chapter from here on out: I'm not making any money off of any of this. I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters, settings, etc. etc. The plot's mine though : )
"Fine, don't believe me. I'm just saying, it looked suspicious," Harry muttered, crossing his arms and sliding down in his seat.
Ginny rolled her eyes and did the same. She, Harry, Ron, and Hermione were all crammed into one of the rear compartments on the Hogwarts Express, as per usual.
"Harry, come on," Hermione urged quietly, ever the diplomat, "I don't think Ginny meant that you were lying or anything. Right, Gin?"
Ginny rolled her eyes again, but nodded her head in agreement. After a moment's contemplation, she added, "But you've gotta admit, Harry - you're always looking for something to be up with either Malfoy or Snape. Maybe it was just a coincidence."
"Maybe. But what are the chances? I mean, Malfoy argues with his dad, something I don't think anyone has ever seen him do, and then starts rubbing his left forearm when he walks away? Seriously Ginny, that's kind of fishy. I think he got the Mark over the summer."
"Of course you do, Harry," Ginny sighed as she laid her forehead against the window.
"Why're you so bent on defending Malfoy anyway?" Ron asked around a mouthful of chocolate frogs. Hermione gave him a slightly disgusted look that he conveniently chose to ignore.
Ginny shrugged her shoulders once without removing her face from the window. "I just don't want Harry getting all super-Gryffindor on us and investigating or something. He could be wrong, and I think it'd be rather stupid of him to start something with Malfoy."
"He is still sitting right here," Harry snapped, scowling.
Ginny smiled apologetically and patted him on the knee in recognition. He glanced at her but didn't respond.
"Oh!" Hermione suddenly exclaimed, "Harry what time is it?"
He glanced down at his watch. "Just before noon, why?"
"Oh!" she exclaimed again, looking slightly panicked. "I was supposed to meet the Head Boy today for lunch in the Head Compartment! I almost forgot, oh goodness what a first impression, our first meeting and…" by now she had moved out of the compartment, still chattering away, and they could no longer hear her.
Ron snorted in amusement and Ginny laughed outright. Even Harry couldn't hold back his smile at his long time friend's antics.
"Who d'you think it'll be?" Ron asked conversationally, eyeing a Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean skeptically.
"Who who'll be?" Harry asked, apparently forgetting he was supposed to be upset.
"Well, I thought it was going to be Harry," Ginny said, nodding in his direction, "so I really don't know."
"Thanks for rubbing that in, Gin," Harry joked.
"Oh please, you wouldn't want the job anyway," she scoffed.
He frowned for a moment before shrugging and bobbing his head once in agreement. "Still…" he said almost wistfully.
She laughed and nudged his leg with her shoe before stretching out on the seat and yawning. "Is it just me, or does everyone feel like someone slipped a sleeping potion into their drink this morning?"
Harry chuckled. "Well maybe if you hadn't stayed up until three in the morning…"
"Hey, it's not my fault Ron stole my assignment sheet and I didn't know I had another essay due until Hermione reminded me at ten o'clock at night," Ginny said indignantly, pouting slightly.
"I didn't steal it," Ron protested, grimacing at the taste of the bean he had decided on trying, "it got slipped in with my books in Diagon Alley, and you know it."
She scoffed and rolled to her stomach, but didn't argue the point. He was telling the truth, but she wasn't about to admit that.
She must have dozed off because seemingly only minutes later, Hermione was pushing her up so that she could reclaim her seat. Ginny opened her eyes blearily and blinked several times before she realized where she was.
"Oh, sorry 'Mione," Ginny said, scooting over to give the girl more room.
Hermione flashed her an "it's okay" smile, and then her face turned dark. "You won't believe it," she announced.
"Believe what?" Ron asked with concern.
Hermione scowled as she bit out, "The Head Boy? Yeah, it's Malfoy."
"It's who?" Harry nearly shouted, sliding to the edge of his seat. "They let Malfoy, a Death Eater, be Head Boy!"
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Oh for Merlin's sake Harry, quite calling him a Death Eater. You don't know that."
Just then a very familiar, very cold voice drifted in from the doorway. Ginny couldn't help but shiver. "Better listen to your girlfriend, Potter. It's not nice to throw around such dangerous accusations."
They all looked up to see the infamous Draco Malfoy. He was striking his classic pose, leaning against the doorframe with arms crossed over his chest. His body was thin as always, though more muscular now, and taller. He still had his fair complexion, platinum blond hair, and pale silvery eyes, but the look suited him. His features were, as usual, schooled into a look of bored indifference crossed with an amused smirk.
Harry flushed and sat back. "She's not my girlfriend," he muttered, choosing to ignore the other half of his comment.
Draco smirked. "Right. Shame, really. With how much she worships you, I'm sure she'd be an easy lay. You could finally lose that virginity you've been clinging to."
"YOU BLODDY GIT!" Ron was up and bellowing, face rapidly turning to match his hair. Ginny rolled her eyes and yanked him back down.
"Ron, control yourself," she ordered him in a tone to rival her mother. "And Malfoy," she addressed the tall blonde in the doorway, "I don't feel that way about Harry anymore, as I'm sure you well know, and I would not be an 'easy lay' even if I did. Now, can we help you with something, or were you just trying to blind us with that complexion of yours?"
His eyebrows rose and he regarded her for a moment. His eyes met her milk chocolate ones and she struggled not to break the contact. He was testing her, and they both knew it. Finally, though, the intensity of his demanding gaze was too much and she glanced away. He smirked and turned to Hermione.
"Granger, you left this," he drawled, tossing a piece of folded up parchment into her lap. Turning to the rest of the assembled group, he gave a low bow and said, "Have a miserable day." He turned on his heel and strode out of the compartment.
"Yeah, Ginny, you were right. I shouldn't jump to conclusions where Malfoy is concerned," Harry said in mock-sincerity.
"Hermione, what's that?" Ginny asked, ignoring Harry's remark and pointing at the parchment Draco had just delivered.
"Oh, just my schedule for when to do rounds and other duties. I must have forgotten it. Oh Merlin…Malfoy."
Ginny gazed at her sympathetically, patting her arm. Suddenly Hermione's eyes grew wide and she cried, "Oh my God, I'm going to be living with him! What did I do to deserve this?"
The remainder of the trip was spent consoling Hermione. By the time they all sat down in the Great Hall, she was at least marginally more cheerful. The sorting ceremony began and Ginny leaned one elbow on the table, absently twirling a lock of fiery red hair around her finger.
"Ms. Weasley, a word," a voice murmured from behind her.
She let out a little yelp and jumped, but quickly composed herself and turned to see her Head of House, Professor McGonagall. She nodded quickly and got up to follow the aging woman from the Hall, grateful that the ceremony was distracting most of the students from their exit. She could only imagine the gossip that would ignite.
Once outside, McGonagall took her down several corridors that Ginny recognized as leading to the woman's office. Her brows furrowed in confusion, wondering what she could possibly want, but she bit back the urge to ask. She would find out soon enough, and patience was a virtue after all.
They arrived at their destination and the professor indicated Ginny take a seat, following suit behind her desk.
"I'm sorry to have pulled you away, Ms. Weasley, but there was something I wished to discuss with you before schedules were distributed tomorrow."
Ginny simply nodded and waited.
"I'm sure you are aware that you have received excellent marks in your Potions class, and that the subject holds very little challenge for you," McGonagall continued, locking Ginny's eyes with hers.
"…Yes," Ginny said hesitantly, realizing McGonagall was waiting for some sort of affirmation. What was she getting at?
"Ms. Weasley, I'd like to offer you the option of skipping ahead to a Seventh Year course in Potions," the old woman announced bluntly.
Ginny blinked. "What?"
"It's only logical, dear. With such excellent marks, taking the Sixth Year class would simply be a waste of your time. I've already spoken with Professor Snape and he agrees. It's your decision, of course."
"But…why are you offering this to me? Why not…like…Hermione or something?"
McGonagall smiled sadly. "We did offer this to Ms. Granger, in all subjects. She flatly refused. She wished to stay with her friends."
Ginny was a little shocked, but tried not to show it. Why hadn't Hermione said anything about the offer? Must've thought we'd think she was bragging…Ginny mused silently.
"Well?" she heard McGonagall inquire.
"Potions, Ms. Weasley. Are you interested in this opportunity or aren't you?"
"Oh, right." Was she interested? She definitely was bored with her current class…well she had been last year anyway. She worried her bottom lip with her teeth, mulling over the idea of being a year ahead. She decided she rather liked the sound of it. "Yes, yes I think I am interested."
McGonagall nodded, offering her an encouraging smile and said, "I'm sure you won't regret it. You can return to the festivities now, if you'd like."
Ginny nodded and exited the office, starting to head towards the Great Hall, but halting her progress half way. The ceremony was bound to be over by now, and all eyes would be on her. She shivered at the thought, and quickly redirected herself to the kitchens. She'd just grab a quick snack there instead.
Giving the pear a quick tickle, she stepped inside and smiled broadly at the site of Dobby running up to her and asking news of Harry. She laughed and told him that he was doing wonderfully, and asked politely for a sandwich. He nodded vigorously, big ears flopping, and skipped off. Still smiling to herself, Ginny turned to sit at one of the tables and froze.
"Malfoy," she greeted stiffly.
"Weaselette," he answered, his handsome face twisting into a slight grimace, "what on earth are you doing in the same room with me? It's rather disconcerting."
She shrugged, choosing to ignore his rudeness and sat down across from him. "Getting food, what do you think?"
"No! I never would have guessed," he spat sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
"Is it like some unwritten rule with you that you just have to be a complete and utter arse all the time?"
"I was born this way," he said airily, waving his hand dismissively.
"How very sad," she muttered as Dobby rushed up with her sandwich. She smiled and offered him a gracious thank you before taking a large bite.
"What are you doing?" he demanded, eyes narrowed slightly.
She rolled her eyes and waved the sandwich in front of his face. "It doesn't take a genius to figure that one out, Malfoy."
"Okay, allow me to rephrase this for your simple mind: What are you still doing here instead of leaving?"
"I'm eating. I'm not gonna wander through the halls munching on a sandwich," she explained with a sigh.
He blinked at her a few times before saying, "What the hell happened to you, Weaselette?"
She gave him an odd look. "Come again?"
"You used to be shy and terrified of your own shadow. It made for quite an amusing time. Now you're…ruined," he said, actually sounding very disappointed.
She laughed. "So sorry to ruin your fun, Malfoy." When he didn't reply she shrugged. "I dunno, so I changed. Does it bother you?"
"Yes," he stated. "Now get out."
"You don't own the place, you know," she informed him in much the same tone she used with toddlers.
"No, but I am Head Boy, and I don't believe you are supposed to be down here, now are you Weaselette?" he asked, smirk firmly in place.
"Oh, that's just low Malfoy. You saw McGonagall pull me out, didn't you? Like I was going to go back in there and be the topic of discussion the first evening back."
He crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm sorry; you've confused me with someone who cares. Now get," he ordered, jabbing towards the exit with his thumb.
"What are you doing down here? You're not eating," she said, curiosity suddenly dawning on her.
His face suddenly seemed to close itself off and become almost mask-like in appearance. It made her more than a little uncomfortable. It just wasn't natural to be able to shut off emotions like that.
"That is none of your business, and if you are not out of this room in five seconds, you'll find your first week back filled with detentions. Clear?"
"One," he cut her off, holding up a finger. When she didn't move he raised another one saying, "Two."
"Fine!" she exclaimed, jumping off the stool and marching over to the portrait. "Bloody arrogant prick," she grumbled to herself as she slammed it shut behind her. What in the world he was doing in the kitchens that he had gotten so defensive? Her thoughts wandered briefly to Harry's earlier accusations, but pushed the idea away. Who wanted to get tangled up in a mess like that? Certainly not her.
The next morning, Ginny dragged herself into the Great Hall and plopped down across from Harry, promptly letting her head fall to the table.
"Morning Gin," he greeted cheerily.
She muttered something about bloody morning people needing to go to hell, but he ignored her and bit happily into a muffin. Hermione and Ron joined them just as schedules began appearing.
Ron groaned loudly after glancing at it. "Double potions first thing? With the Slytherins? Who drew this thing up, Satan?"
Harry snorted and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Ugh, me too," Ginny scowled, glaring at her own piece of parchment.
Harry gave her an odd look. "How is that possible? There must be a mix-up."
She eyed him quizzically before realizing she had forgotten to tell them about her talk with McGonagall. She related it quickly, not wanting to make a big deal out of it. She was already nervous without the added attention.
"You get to move up? But…even Hermione didn't move up!" Ron said, disbelief evident in his voice.
"You wanna take that one, 'Mione?" Ginny yawned, laying her head back on the table.
Hermione glanced at her. "She told you?"
"Told you what?" Ron asked suspiciously.
Hermione frowned a little before saying quickly, "In second year Professor McGonagall offered to let me skip a few years. I declined."
"Why?" Harry asked curiously.
She shrugged. "I figured I'd finally made some friends, no sense in losing them over academics. I didn't feel there was a need to rush things." She glanced sideways towards Ginny. "No offense."
"Hmm? Oh, yeah, none taken," she mumbled, eyes only half open.
Ron rolled his eyes and stood up, yanking her with him. "Come along, sister dearest. We'd better get going before you pass out and miss all the dungeon fun."
She snorted but allowed herself to be pulled along, trailed by Hermione and Harry. Several minutes later found the four of them outside the Potion's classroom door.
"Alright," Harry said, squaring his shoulders comically and adopting a look of mock-determination, "here we go."
Ginny took an exaggerated breath and nodded, squaring her shoulders as Harry had done. Ron laughed and Hermione just sighed, pushing past them and into the room. Ron followed and took a seat by her while Harry and Ginny sat behind them. A few other students began to trickle in slowly, then more rapidly until Professor Severus Snape himself swept into the room and slammed the door behind him. He strode to the front, robes billowing in their usual melodramatic fashion, and raked his eyes over the students. His gaze settled on Ginny.
"Ah, Ms. Weasley, so you decided to join your little friends, did you?"
She nodded stiffly. "Yes, Sir."
"I'm going to clear this up right now," Snape addressed the room sternly, "because I know that if I don't you'll be so worried about it you won't concentrate; some of you need all the concentration you can get." He glared briefly at Neville before continuing. "Ms. Weasley has been moved up to the Seventh level Potions class as a result of her ease in Fifth level last year. She is to be treated as an equal; in other words, no babying. Am I clear?"
A quiet "yes" rippled through the room as it passed from mouth to mouth, and Snape nodded in satisfaction.
"Now, this year," he began, walking behind his desk, "you will be brewing potions a great deal more difficult than anything you've dealt with in the past. I've no doubt if left to your own designs, more than half of you would fail. In an effort to avoid this disaster, you will be paired with another member of the class for the duration of the year. The theory is, obviously, two heads are better than one."
The man paused, Ginny supposed for effect, as he gauged their reactions. She really didn't mind. She preferred working independently, but she had no trouble with partners either.
"Alright, let's get this out of the way, shall we?" Snape said. His eyes slipped across the students once more before he started calling out pairs. "Granger – Longbottom, Potter – Brown, Malfoy – Parkinson…" his list went on and on and Ginny amused herself by watching the looks on people's faces when they discovered their partners.
"Well, Ms. Weasley," Snape said after a moment of silence, "there is an uneven number of students, so it seems there is no one left to serve as a par-"
Snape's words were cut short when the door was flung open and a Slytherin that would fall under the "tall, dark, and handsome" category came striding in. He had the same aristocratic, "I-own-all-of-you" look that Malfoy had so mastered, but unlike Malfoy, his hair was jet black and his skin more of a bronze shade.
"Sorry, Professor," he apologized almost casually, "Peeves was…well, being Peeves."
Snape smirked. "Actually, Mr. Zabini, your presence is most welcome. Weasley here needs a partner," he said, indicating the small red-head.
Ginny looked the boy over again, attempting to place him. Zabini? As in Blaise Zabini? She'd heard the name before. He was Malfoy's right hand man, if memory served her right. She noticed the look of almost-panic on his face and the way his nose was wrinkled up and felt a little panic herself. If he was anything like his friend, which she had no reason to believe otherwise, this was going to be a very difficult year.
"Weasley?" Zabini asked. "You mean the she-Weasel?" Draco snickered and Blaise glanced at him, offering him a small grin in greeting, before turning his attention back to Snape. "I thought she was a Sixth year."
"If you had been on time, you would have heard my explanation. She skipped a year in this class. Now, please take a seat by Ms. Weasley."
Blaise wrinkled his nose again and dragged his eyes over her. She felt a slight blush bloom under his intense examination, and he raised an eyebrow in response before sliding gracefully into the seat next to her.
"Now, today we will start with one of the more simple potions for curing confusion," Snape drawled in a bored tone. He tapped the blackboard with his wand and it was instantly covered in his familiar scrawl. "Copy the notes and begin."
Ginny pulled out her parchment and quill without looking at the boy next to her, but couldn't help but notice he wasn't returning the favor. She managed to ignore it for an admirable five minutes before she broke.
"What?" she hissed, dropping her quill and turning to face him. "Can I help you or are you just so enthralled by me you can't manage to write?"
He raised his eyebrow again. "Well, well. Look who decided to grow a backbone."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "What is it with you people?" she snapped.
"Um…it's just me sitting here Weaselette," he told her as if explaining a very difficult concept to a very slow person.
"As in you and Malfoy," she clarified. Seeing he still looked confused she elaborated. "Malfoy said I changed too."
Blaise smiled. "I'm sure he was pleased."
She laughed despite herself. "Oh yeah Zabini, he was thrilled."
"Well," he said, leaning back in his chair, "I for one am not quite so disappointed. It'd be a terrible bore if you were about ready to bolt every time I looked at you."
She was more than a little surprised, and was trying desperately to figure out if he had just complimented her or not when she felt his gaze on her again.
"What are you staring at!" she exclaimed, voice rising a little in frustration.
He grinned. "A backbone's not the only thing you've grown, Weasley," he commented with a smirk, his midnight blue eyes roaming freely over her very much grown-up figure. "Maybe this little pairing won't be so horrible after all."
She blushed furiously and mumbled a tense, "Shut up, Zabini."
He laughed. "Don't be so uptight Weasley. I'm not going to actually touch you." His features screwed up into a grimace. "That would be rather disturbing. I mean, it doesn't matter what you look like…you're still a Weasley."
She snorted and rolled her eyes, but relaxed despite herself. She thought she detected an amused glint to his eyes, but shrugged it off. "So are you going to take down those notes or not?" she demanded, changing the subject. "We need to have this potion finished, and I don't intend to prove any of you Slytherins right by doing a shoddy job of it."
"I never take notes."
She glanced at him sharply. "What? I got settled with a slacker? Oh, that's just wonderful. Just makes this so much easier on me, you know," she groaned, running her hands through her hair.
"I'm not a slacker," he retorted.
"Then how do you expect to know this stuff?"
He grinned and tapped his temple. "All up here, Weasley."
"What is that supposed to mean?" she practically snarled. Okay, now he's getting annoying.
He just kept grinning and slouched down into his seat, twiddling his thumbs and whistling some tune under his breath. She glared at him for another minute, but when he failed to respond, she shrugged it off and went back to the notes. She watched out of the corner of her eye as he caught Draco's attention and gave him a mock salute accompanied by a grin. Draco just rolled his eyes and turned back to Parkinson.
"You two are so different," she observed aloud.
"What's that, my little Weaselette?"
"You and Malfoy. I mean, you're kind of…well…you smile. Malfoy is…well…Malfoy. Need I say more?"
He laughed and shook his head. "Ahh, too few people see past that little façade Draco is so good at conjuring up. He's really very different than you'd think. Loads of fun if you're willing to look past the 'ice-dragon' treatment he has a habit of using."
She raised her eyebrows. "Malfoy? Fun? Huh. Never thought I'd hear those words in the same sentence."
"What about your friends, she-Weasel? You've got Potter who's too busy getting drooled on to notice you, Granger who's either buried in a book or reprimanding someone, and your brother who's…well…your brother. Need I say more?" he asked, mimicking her earlier comment.
She flushed. "They're not as wrapped up in themselves as they seem, you know. You just have to get to know them better."
Blaise nodded in satisfaction. "Awfully similar to what I just said about Malfoy, no?"
She glared at him. "It's not the same. Malfoy is an ass."
"And you're an annoying little pain in the neck. Your point?"
She flushed again and turned sharply away from him, copying down her notes at a furious rate. She heard him chuckle behind her, which only served to increase her already considerable anger. She finished the notes and, taking in a breath and releasing it slowly, turned back to Blaise.
"Alright Zabini, let's get this potion brewed."
He yawned. "Don't use that tone. Makes you sound too Granger-ish. What're you so angry about anyway?"
"Oh gee, I don't know, you only insulted my friends, not to mention me," she snapped.
"If I recall, it was you who insulted my friend first."
"But not you," she pointed out.
"Well of course you didn't insult me. I'm perfect. There are no faults to point out, where as you have too many to mention in one year."
"Wow," she said, gazing at him in mock-admiration.
"I thought that Malfoy was the most arrogant prick alive, but it would seem you've proved me wrong!"
"Listen Love, I'd like nothing more than to sit here trading insults, but we've got a potion to brew, do we not?" Blaise drawled, standing up and gathering ingredients.
She gave an almost inaudible little scream of frustration and followed suit, following the notes she had just copied exactly. After a long silence, she glanced over to see his half of the ingredients were nearly finished being prepared, while she was only about half way through.
"How are you doing that so fast?" she asked.
He smiled, not looking up from the roots he was slicing. "I don't have to follow notes. I told you, 's all up here." He pointed to his temple again. She rolled her eyes, but was intrigued despite herself. She bit back the urge to question him further about it though; that would just feed his already bulging ego.
The two finished the potion in relative silence, speaking only when it was necessary or to make corrections in the other's work. The finished product was a good one, and Ginny was feeling very satisfied with the effort. Blaise bottled it and turned it in to Snape while Ginny watched. She was actually quite happy with the team they made. Work had gone smoothly enough, and he wasn't that terrible.
"Well," the boy in question said as he returned, "thank goodness that's over. Brewing a successful potion single-handedly is stressful work, you know."
"What do you mean, single-handedly? I think I was doing just as much as you, Zabini."
He grinned at her. "Whatever helps you sleep at night, Weaselette." Then he scooped up his books and walked out of the room.
Then again, she thought darkly, eyes narrowed at the door he had disappeared through, maybe he is that terrible.