August 22, 2014
Author's Note: This story was written for aislyn813 in the 2013-2014 D/G Fic Exchange on LiveJournal, and it won the award for Funniest Fic Overall! Thanks go to my beta, D, and to YOU for reading! n_n The prompt will follow the next and last chapter of this story.
One-Night Stands and Drastic Plans
Part One: The One-Night Stand
The rumpled bedclothes were all that was left of their one night together. Draco stared at them from the doorway, shocked in a muted, hasn't-quite-sunk-in-yet sort of way, his eyes roaming the room as if Ginny Weasley's red hair would suddenly appear. But he knew she was gone. Of course she was.
Draco returned to the kitchen where he'd set the coffee to brew. The toast popped up out of the toaster, and he put both pieces on one plate, leaving the second plate on the counter. Fluffy scrambled eggs—too much for one person—followed the toast, and then bacon, mushrooms, and some diced tomatoes.
He took two bites before the anger set in. Three more and the anger turned to doubt. They'd had a nice night out, not unlike any other night. Post-work drinks with friends at a pub, more drinks and some dancing at a club—the usual. When she'd kissed him, he'd thought…. When she'd asked to go back to his place, hadn't she…?
He pondered over the events of the night before, wondering if he'd done something wrong. After he finished his breakfast, he threw Ginny's portion of the meal in the trash. Wasted.
The Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes was just as chaotic as the name of the department itself. Doors to the various offices remained open, allowing communication between the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad, Obliviator Headquarters, and the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee, despite their locations on different sides and ends of the corridor. An intern could always be found rushing between the offices looking for certain pieces of paperwork, and inter-departmental memos constantly zoomed by overhead.
The shared kitchen at the end of the corridor was a hub for conversation and collaboration—and, unfortunately, gossip. Draco knew as soon as he stepped through the door that he should have waited for his morning cup of coffee. As heads turned to stare at him, a particularly gleeful face caught his eye, and he thought he'd prefer the caffeine headache over this one.
"Gooood morning, sunshine!" Theodore Nott said, moving to the front of the pack now surrounding Draco. His Cheshire cat grin made Draco grit his teeth and straighten his spine.
Draco sneered. "Didn't know getting a cup of coffee required a welcome committee."
Theo handed him his standard cup of black, the ridiculous smile never leaving his lips even as other people were shamed into going about their business. But Draco could practically see their ears swivel in his direction as bagels were heated and coffee prepared, just waiting for a morsel of news to take back to their cubicles.
"Just being friendly," Theo said with a friendly swat to Draco's shoulder, just as he was about to take a sip.
Draco glared at the man. "You're lucky this didn't spill on me."
Now Theo slipped his arm around Draco's shoulders and shook him gently. "Lighten up, man. We just want to know how your weekend went, that's all." He sipped innocently from his cup, and Draco's eyes narrowed.
Before Draco could answer—not that he was going to—Hermione Granger walked through the door and immediately threw her hands up in exasperation, her own empty coffee mug clutched in one hand.
"Good Lord, Theodore. Couldn't wait even a moment before jumping him?"
"Don't judge me for my tactics when my source of gossip is less forthcoming than yours."
Hermione blushed and diverted her attention to the coffee machine on the counter.
"Did Ginny tell you what happened?" Draco asked, suspicious and wary.
Hermione sniffed and turned up her nose, but the superior effect was ruined by her red cheeks. "Maybe she did."
Draco wondered. Ginny and Hermione didn't get along too often because they fought the way Ron and Hermione used to fight back at Hogwarts. Hermione liked to treat people as if she knew better than they did, and those people generally took offense to that attitude. Ginny was no exception, so he highly doubted she would have told Hermione about their night together, not if Hermione was going to chastise her for her actions.
Suddenly enjoying the position he was in, Draco smiled. "No, I don't think she did. I think you want to know what happened just as badly as Theo does, but I shan't spill a detail. I'd rather watch you both squirm."
In the midst of Theo's protests, Ginny herself walked into the kitchen. She froze when she saw Hermione and Theodore crowding Draco into a corner, and then she said, "Looks like this room's taken. I'll come back later."
She was gone before anyone could stop her, and not long after she left, Draco shook off his hangers-on and retreated down the hall to his cubicle in the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad Office. Ginny hadn't looked him in the eyes in the kitchen there, and he felt a ridiculous sense of shame. They hadn't done anything wrong. Why was she so frustrating?
Ginny had worked on the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad for about a year before Draco was accepted to the squad. They'd begun their relationship as reluctant training partners. Ginny had felt he was a burden to her, an obstacle holding her back from a successful career, but after four months, Draco had been cut loose, a permanent part of the team, no need for a chaperone any longer. Ginny (and her career) had suffered no adverse effects due to his tutelage.
In fact, as soon as his training period had ended, Draco had left Ginny alone. Theodore Nott on the Obliviator team had made an unwilling friend of Draco, but in time, he had come to appreciate the other man's camaraderie amongst Draco's hostile work environment. Theo had seen a rift that needed mending and made Ginny a friend, too. In Draco's four months of training, Ginny had never been able to put her guard down around him, but after one evening out drinking with Theo, her walls had crumbled down. She'd opened herself up to him, seeing him for the man he was, not the boy he'd been, and he'd opened himself up to her—as much as he'd ever opened himself up to anyone. Ginny Weasley was still too brash for Draco's liking, acting or speaking when she should be considering her options instead, but he'd seen how that brashness had worked well in the field—surprisingly—and he'd come to appreciate her for it.
It didn't hurt that she was gorgeous and damn funny. Even when they were in a group, the way she talked to him and laughed with him had always felt personal—more friendly than being mere friends. He'd never wanted to ruin the friendship they'd developed, so he'd never acted on his attraction to her. But they had acted this past weekend. Maybe they shouldn't have, but they couldn't take it back now, and Draco feared he'd lost one of his closest friends.
Ginny didn't speak to Draco for the next two days. She didn't look at him or acknowledge him, and if they bumped into each other in the office, she turned in the other direction as fast as possible. By Wednesday night, her absence at the pub was all too obvious to their friends.
"Is she skipping out again?" Theodore asked when he reached Draco at the bar.
Draco nodded, nursing his glass like a lovelorn tosser.
Theo ordered a drink and took a seat next to him. "Still hasn't spoken a word to you?"
He shook his head, making the room spin.
"Mate, what happened between you two?"
Draco shook his head again. If he spoke, he wouldn't be able to drink.
"No? Look, here come Ron and Hermione. I'm not going to push you about this right now because Ron was too drunk to notice that you and Ginny left together last Friday and he'd beat your face in if he knew, but you've got to tell me what happened later, yeah?"
Instead of answering, Draco raised his glass in a salute, and then he downed the contents.
"Merlin's ball sack," Theo muttered. He turned his back on Draco and plastered a wide grin on his face. "Hermioneeee! Ronaaaald!"
Theo played the gracious, fun-loving host for the rest of the night as the group ignored Draco for the most part. At one point, Draco thought he heard Ron say, "What's the matter with him?" but Theo must have made an excuse on his behalf.
Draco could only groan when Harry showed up, looking for Ron.
"Kingsley's got a new assignment for us," Harry said. "Starting now." He handed Ron a vial of potion, which Ron immediately downed, the news from work sobering him before he'd even imbibed the potion.
"Sorry, guys. Duty calls," Ron said to Hermione, Theo, and the practically comatose lump that was Draco's body.
"Yeah, yeah," Theo said with a grin as Hermione kissed Ron on the cheek.
Harry looked around and then asked, "Where's Ginny? She's always here with you lot."
Draco emitted a noncommittal grunt, his limp body rising for a moment before he put his head back down on the bar.
"She needed a night in," Theo answered to cover up the awkward silence that followed Harry's question.
"Maybe you guys should follow her example," Harry said. "How do you drink all night and still manage to show up for work the next morning?"
Theodore waggled his eyebrows. "Magic!"
"Oh, stop, Theodore," Hermione said with a giggle. "Don't worry, Harry. I never let them get out of control." Everyone pointedly looked at Draco, but of course he didn't notice. "He's the exception," she clarified. "No one can control him, not even himself."
"I know someone who can," Theo said with a smirk.
"Okay, that's enough about Malfoy. We have to go!" Ron interrupted.
As soon as Ron and Harry left the pub, Theodore nudged Hermione and said, "Come on." He hoisted Draco up and dragged him over to a booth, Hermione trailing behind them a moment later with two glasses of water.
They plied Draco with water until, like a plant, his wilted body grew sturdy enough to hold him upright. He drank because he was at that nice stage of drunk where he was susceptible to any and all suggestions. Luckily, his friends were responsible people who wanted to sober him up, not make an idiot out of him.
"You took away my buzz," Draco said twenty minutes later, his mind clearer than he would have liked.
Without sympathy, Theodore said, "Tell us what happened between you and Ginny Friday night."
Draco thought about refusing or lying, but thinking made his head pound, so he stuck with the truth. "We went back to my place and had a good time. At least I thought we did. When I woke up the next morning, she was there, but she'd left by the time I finished making breakfast."
His cheeks were burning even before a bewildered Hermione asked, "You made breakfast?"
"He's absolutely besotted, I tell you," Theodore quipped.
Draco didn't have it in him to glare as he would have at another, more sober, time. "What do I do?" he asked instead.
Theodore and Hermione's eyes met.
Hermione pushed a new glass of water in front of Draco. "First you have to find out why she left."
"And then," Theodore continued, a devilish grin on his face, "then you try to win her back."
"What if she doesn't want me to win her back?" Draco asked.
"Are you kidding?" Theo rolled his eyes. "You two are mad for each other and have been for months. If she doesn't want you to win her back, it's because of some girly thing that doesn't make any sense. Right, Hermione?"
But Hermione clearly didn't agree with him. Her eyes were narrowed and her mouth was opened to deliver a firm lecture, until she suddenly changed her mind with a sad shake of her head. Her expression cleared, though she still looked a bit miffed. "I'll find out why she left and let you know if it's okay for you to proceed."
"Proceed with what?" Draco felt like he'd walked into a trap; he already knew he was in over his head.
"With Operation: Turn the Bang into a Long-Term Thang!" Theo looked between Draco's confused expression and Hermione's unimpressed one. "No? Okay, we'll work on the name, but you get the idea."
"Who said I wanted to be with Ginny anyway?" Draco asked, clutching his glass of water between two shaking hands.
"Mate, you made breakfast for her the morning after and got belligerently drunk because she didn't stick around. She's more than a one-night fling to you. Maybe you're just realizing it, but it's been obvious to everyone else for ages."
Hermione was nodding her head, so Draco felt like he couldn't disagree, but when he was 100% sober, he thought he'd have more to say about this whole situation.
Theo put his hand in the middle of the table, palm down. "Are you in, Hermione? We all know how Ron feels about his baby sister, so I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to sit this operation out."
"No," she said quickly, placing her hand on top of his. "Ron won't take it well, but something has to be done. Even I know that. I'm in."
Theo's grin widened. "Draco? Do you want our help winning Ginny back?"
"Winning her back? She's hardly a prize for someone to claim," Draco argued. "She's stubborn and brash and argumentative. She's beautiful and funny and a witch to be feared. And, dammit, I want her. If she'll have me."
Underneath it all, that was why he hadn't taken well to her leaving him Saturday morning. He'd wanted her for so long, and he'd convinced himself that she wanted him, too. Just because they'd slept together didn't mean she felt the same, and it had bruised Draco's pride to realize he could have been wrong about her feelings.
He put his hand on top of Hermione and Theo's in the middle of the table. "I'm in," he said.
Draco stuck with water for the rest of the night as they hatched a simple plan. Pending Hermione's investigation into Ginny's reasons for leaving Draco's flat Saturday morning, they planned for beautiful women to throw themselves at Draco while Ginny was present. Her jealousy would be astronomical, and she'd realize her true feelings for Draco and things would progress from there. Simple, kind of dirty—Hermione was skeptical, but Draco was sure it would work.
"What about Plan B?"
"Plan B?" he asked Theo.
"Yeah, you always need a Plan B! What if Plan A fails?"
"Well, what do you suggest for Plan B?" Hermione asked.
Theo conjured a piece of parchment and pulled a self-inking quill out of an inner pocket of his robes. He took a few moments to draw a questionable picture, and then said, "It starts with an assignment."
One of Draco's eyebrows rose skeptically. "An assignment?"
"An assignment," Theo confirmed. "The next time we're called out on an assignment—Or, hell! We'll fake one!—Draco, you'll get hurt."
"Hurt! Damn, why do you keep repeating me? Okay." Theo flipped the parchment over and began to draw a few stick figures, with little lines over their eyes to make them look angry. Obviously, these were not nice men. Or were they women? "Then, while you're hurt, you'll be kidnapped by the very people we were called in to Obliviate! Ginny will try to stop them, of course, because she's in love with you and doesn't think things through." Now Theo drew hearts instead of eyes on a long-haired stick figure with lopsided circles for breasts. "But she won't succeed. The bad guys will make off with you, and Ginny will be left crying and sad." Inky tears leaked out of stick figure-Ginny's eye hearts.
A moment of silence passed as Theo continued to draw awful renditions of injured Draco and shocked Hermione.
"That's definitely far too convoluted to actually work," Hermione finally said, eying Theo as if he needed serious help.
"Well, it is Plan B, after all. Plan A is going to work, of course, but if it doesn't, we have to go big!"
"Yes, all right," Draco said, pulling the parchment away from Theo, who huffed in protest. "We've got the plans down, now. Can I count on you two for your parts?"
"I'll talk to Ginny and let you know how things go," Hermione said with a nod.
"Beautiful women will not be hard to procure. Just let me know when they're needed," Theo answered with an alarmingly energetic light in his eyes.
"Great," Draco replied. "Operation: Convince Ginny She's In Love With Me is a go." Hermione and Theo wore matching expressions of distaste. "No? You know what I mean..."