May 3, 2018
Author's Notes: This chapter has been edited to remove the explicitly sexy parts. You can read the full uncensored version on Archive of Our Own and The Fire and Ice Archive.
Chapter Seventeen: A Belated Union (Part Two)
"Don't stop. Dear Salazar, please don't stop," Draco said.
Ginny's breath puffed out of her in a single exhalation, a smile stretching across her lips. She reached for his hand and stepped backwards, coaxing him to follow her with her gentle grip as if she were afraid anything other than gentleness would cause him to flee.
They ascended the stairs to her loft bedroom, lamps extinguishing behind them and flaring to life ahead. At the top of the stairs, Draco pulled his hand away, severing contact with her. His heart beat so hard, he could feel it in his throat.
She turned and waited for him to speak, but Draco gathered her in his arms, knowing he couldn't say what he needed to say to her while she was staring at him, eyes glowing with patience and love he didn't deserve.
"Tell me what to do," he said against the top of her head.
She lifted her chin and grinned cheekily. "You're acting like you've never done this before."
Draco couldn't respond. He clenched his jaws together tight and avoided her gaze by staring over her at the far wall. He saw out of the corner of his eye when her smile faltered, when it all clicked into place.
"You've never done this before."
His head jerked in a gesture that could barely be called a nod. His entire face burned with shame.
"That's all right, then."
That statement earned his full attention back. "What do you mean 'that's all right'? Don't you get it? I'm a virgin."
She smiled again. A kind smile. Placating. "That doesn't mean anything. Least of all to me."
Bewildered and in disbelief, Draco said, "You don't care that a man like me, a man my age, is a virgin."
She shook her head.
"But... you're not."
She shook her head again, her smile growing into one of pure amusement as Draco grappled with her easy acceptance. This was not what he had expected. Laughter, derision, shock—those expressions he had anticipated. Not this.
"I'm probably lousy," he said in an attempt to temper her expectations. The last thing he wanted to be was disappointing, even though he couldn't fathom that he could be anything but.
She shrugged. "The fun of it is learning together. And practicing."
Practicing. A jolt ran down Draco's spine as he imagined for one brief moment what practicing could entail.
With a dry mouth, he said, "I don't know what the limits are."
Ginny cupped his face in her hands, forcing him to keep eye contact with her. "That's the beauty of this, Draco. We can go as far as we feel comfortable. I trust you to listen to me when I say stop. Can you trust me to do the same?"
Her eyes shone with kindness and determination. She didn't seem appalled or disgusted by him. She didn't think him pathetic. Of course, she'd tried to disabuse him of that idea multiple times, but part of him had been sure if she knew the truth, his whole truth, she would see him the same way his mother saw him, the way Pansy did. But here she was defying his expectations once again.
"Yes," he said. "How do we begin?"
Ginny's eyes sparkled with mischief. "Undress me. Take as long as you need."
Draco's own gaze sharpened, focusing on the woman and the challenge in front of him. He looked her over, taking in her disheveled hair loose around her shoulders, her ratty bathrobe and the faded pajamas underneath. Somewhere between letting him into her flat and climbing the stairs to her bedroom, she'd lost her fuzzy slippers and now stood barefoot. Another man might have preferred her in lingerie at this moment, in sexy lacy things Draco hardly knew what to do with, but to him she was perfect because she was herself. If she could accept him—want him—as he was, he could certainly do the same.
His voice lowered as his perusal finally reached her face again. "Why don't we undress each other?"
Her breath caught, and then she rose up on her toes, her lips colliding with his. Draco tugged her even closer, and her hands fisted in the material of his cloak for balance, both of them aware that they were significantly overdressed for the occasion.
Dragging her lips away from his with panting breaths, she trailed her fingers around his ribs and up his chest, to the silver clasp fastened at his neck. She released it, and his oppressive cloak fell to the floor.
Before she could go for the buttons of his robes, Draco shoved her open bathrobe off her shoulders, leaving her in her polka-dotted pajamas. His touch slid around her waist and retreated under the hem of her top, a shiver convulsing through her as his hands glided up her sides, taking her top with them. A lift of her arms and a tug of material later, she stood before him bare-chested.
Draco could neither stop himself from staring nor his body from reacting positively to the sight of a half-naked woman. But he did nothing but look, her shirt still clutched in his fist. He only dropped it when she drew his free hand to her breast. Both of their breaths hissed out of them at the same time, and Ginny grinned at their twin reactions to a touch as trivial as this one.
No, it wasn't trivial at all, Draco thought. It was a declaration.
You can touch me, the gesture said. I'm safe and so are you.
He swept a thumb across the underside of her breast, his fingernail just grazing her skin, making her draw in a jagged breath. A smirk trembled at Draco's lips, proud and in awe of her reaction to him.
"Careful, Malfoy," she said, her voice as soft as the lighting. Her knuckles brushed his jaw as she unfastened the top button of his robe and then the next one and the next.
His robes gaped, revealing a pale expanse of skin.
"Careful or what?" Draco asked, his eyebrows rising, prompting her to continue.
But Ginny didn't answer. She stared at his chest for such a long time, Draco nearly pulled his robes closed twice as he waited for her response, until, finally, she put a hand in the middle of his chest, her index finger just brushing the scar he hadn't thought to hide with magic before he'd shown up at her door.
Draco stiffened as he finally realized what had distracted her, and he put his own hand over hers, flattening her palm against him. He quivered, going cold at her touch, feeling much as he had the afternoon she'd explored his Dark Mark. Utterly exposed.
"I hid it behind a glamour at the party," he said, not quite pulling off nonchalance. His voice was tight with old emotion, with rage and pain that had simmered inside him, buried, for years. "It's not my most attractive feature."
"This is what Harry did to you, isn't it?"
Her brows knit together, meeting over her nose in anger. Draco didn't have to answer—he could see it on her face that she already knew the truth of that encounter in Moaning Myrtle's loo over four years ago. She laid her lips against the scar, right where it crossed over his heart, and Draco tensed all over once more, his breath stalling in his throat.
"I'm sorry," she said against his skin.
Draco wasn't sure why she was apologizing. She certainly hadn't had anything to do with his injury, but she said those words over and over again as she kissed a path up to his throat and then to his lips.
"It's fine. It's over," he said in between kisses, repeating the words as if to convince himself as well as her that he was fine, that everything was fine, as if he didn't wake up in a cold sweat some nights from nightmare memories of choking on his own blood. Did Potter know he'd cracked ribs and sliced one of Draco's lungs with his spell? Did he realize he had been closer than the Dark Lord to successfully killing Draco?
He was distracted from his bitter thoughts when her fingers came back to the scar, tracing the line of it from his heart and down to his hip. The skin around the scar had always been oversensitive, making up for the dead nerves in the scar itself. Touching it had felt uncomfortable and ticklish, so Draco had always avoided it.
But when Ginny touched him, trailing her fingers along the faded wound, she banished the cold from his body and set him ablaze. He wondered what it would feel like if she replaced her fingers with her lips, but he didn't have to wonder long. She planted gentle kisses along his jaw, down his throat, across his shoulder until she reached where the scar began, and she followed the trail etched into his skin with her mouth and tongue, burning away his old memories and replacing them with new ones.
Draco trembled and edged backward, leading her or being led by her or maybe a little bit of both, until he found himself pushed down onto the unmade bed. Then she froze, her eyes darting up to his face for his reaction.
If she was worried she'd crossed a line, she needn't be. As his heart raced and his pulse pounded, Draco found he quite liked the idea of Ginny dominating him in bed. "Go on," he said to allay her fears.
She smiled and shimmied out of the rest of her pajamas before climbing onto the bed. Draco's breath caught and then grew ragged as she crawled over him, her knees on either side of his hips, the ends of her hair tickling his ear, his face. His skin itched with desperation. He didn't know what to do with her, but at the same time, the urge to do everything afflicted him. If only he could touch and taste all of her at once.
The weight of her comforted him, grounded him, and her mouth descended lower, back to his scar, tracing new lines around his bare chest.
They were both still clothed, Draco in his half-unbuttoned robes, underwear, socks, and shoes, which he toed off as soon as he remembered them, and Ginny in her knickers. But Draco felt her on him as if they were completely naked, and he groaned, wondering how much more he would be able to stand once they were skin to skin. It had never felt like this by himself, with just his hands and his fantasies, and his heart pounded in discomfort at the idea of Ginny seeing him this way, naked, vulnerable, and needy.
But something also pulsed within him—excitement?—at the idea of sharing this experience with her.
Did she know what she was doing by giving herself to him like this? By choosing him to share her evening with? Could she possibly fathom how it made Draco feel?
His hands came up to her thighs and settled there for a moment, until they rose, sliding up her legs and her ribs until he had her breasts in hand, squeezing and rubbing his thumbs across her nipples. She sucked in a breath and he did it again, watching her face for her reaction. Her eyes fluttered closed and she bit her lip, and Draco couldn't help but grin. So. She felt the same way he did.
Overwhelmed by his touch, she scrabbled at his arms as if caught in the dilemma of stopping him and encouraging him. Draco did stop abruptly when her fingernails scraped against his Dark Mark, drawing a hiss out of him in shock.
Her eyes opened, concern flashing across her features before her gaze fell on her hand and the Mark underneath it.
"Is it sensitive?" she asked, voice soft. She didn't pull her hand away. In fact, she continued to stroke the tattoo in soothing motions that did nothing to soothe Draco at all.
If he thought he'd been burning before, that was nothing compared to the inferno raging through his veins now. He released one of her breasts and gripped her wrist, but he didn't have the strength to pull her away.
"No," he replied. "I'm just aware of it."
He closed his own eyes now and grit his teeth, his throat too tight to explain, not that his explanation would make sense. Or maybe it would. Ginny, too, had welcomed Voldemort into her soul, ignorant to the consequences of her association with him. She, too, had been used as a tool to do his bidding. She, too, nearly lost her life in service to him. Maybe she understood better than he gave her credit for.
Draco breathed through his nose, and with his eyes closed, he catalogued every sensation shooting through his body. The weight of her sitting on top of him, pinning him to the bed. Her legs on either side of his body, confining him. Her fingers daring to graze the Mark even as he tightened his hold on her wrist.
Did Draco push her away or draw her closer? Did he bar her from the Dark Mark or encourage her to explore it?
"You shouldn't touch it," he said. He couldn't open his eyes, couldn't bear to face her, even though it was ridiculous. She'd seen the Mark before. She'd known of his for years before they began their charade.
"Too late," she said.
He heard the smile in her voice, and he opened his eyes just in time for her to lift his arm and lower her head until her lips were brushing against the cruel brand and Draco was shuddering at the contact, quaking so hard his teeth clattered and a whimper ripped out of his throat.
Her fascination with his Dark Mark both shamed and awed him. "Why?" he managed to say through his chattering teeth.
"Because I spent years hating myself for what I'd done." She said each word against his skin, littering his forearm with spoken kisses. "Because even after it was over, I still missed him. He was the only person who would even pretend to understand me, and I wanted him back even though he tried to kill me. Because—" She placed a kiss at the pulse point in his wrist and then his palm. "—we deserve forgiveness for the mistakes we made. He's gone, Draco. He can't hurt you anymore. Leave him in the past where he belongs."
The drumbeat pounding in his chest urged him to action, and Draco sat up, the swiftness of the movement startling Ginny and making her gasp. He swallowed the sound as his mouth covered hers, devouring every whimper, every moan, every utterance that escaped her lips.
"I love you, too," he whispered against her skin, voicing his feelings aloud for the first time into the crook where the column of her neck met her shoulder.
She paused for just a moment, and then she shoved her hands into his hair, twining her fingers around the locks, mussing it up beyond repair.
"Oh," she said softly as she turned her head and kissed his temple. "Oh," she said again as she kissed his cheek. "Oh, oh, oh."
Needless to say… Draco didn't make it to work the next day.
Walking up the steps of Nott Hall mid-morning on Sunday was a bit like coming out of a dream.
Draco had spent all weekend with Ginny, mostly confined to her bed, but venturing out of the flat a couple times for actual meals when deconstructed sandwiches (in other words, stale bread and deli meat—in other other words, an actual pathetic sandwich) no longer sufficed to keep their stamina up.
They'd talked in a way Draco had never spoken to another person before: openly, seriously, about their childhoods and the war and their families. They'd laughed without reserve. Draco could still feel the ache in his stomach from all the belly laughing he'd done when Ginny had told him stories about some of the pranks she and the twins had pulled on Ron growing up.
Their lovemaking had been filled with an intensity that still left Draco breathless when he remembered it, her patience and tenderness almost convincing him that she really could love him. But even at the end of their time together, even after she'd told him not to think it, a part of him still believed she'd only invited him to her bed because of whatever assault Jason Junker had committed in Paris.
And Draco loved her too much to care if she'd used him to forget about Junker.
He stopped with his hand on the doorknob, composing himself before he opened the door and crossed the threshold. He had left his experience with Ginny back at her flat where no one could take it from him, where no one could chide him or sneer at him for it. He would protect the memory of his weekend with all his Occlumency skills so as to never let anyone use it—use Ginny—against him.
Silence greeted him when he entered the house, which was unusual. What Draco had always liked about Nott Hall was how much noise there was inside it, unlike Malfoy Manor, which oppressed its occupants with its looming lack of sound. There was a liveliness to Nott Hall caused by the homely chatter and sighs of the portraits hanging on the walls; music emanating from a room, occupied or not; Pansy's heels clicking on the hardwood floor as she moved about. There was total silence now, and Draco couldn't think of any engagements Pansy and Theodore had committed to.
Draco ventured further in. Maybe Pansy had left him a note in the parlor to inform him of her whereabouts. At the parlor door, however, he was met with the sight of Theodore on his knees, an ear pressed to the keyhole of the closed door. He looked up at Draco's approach, no bashfulness apparent at all at being discovered eavesdropping.
"What—" Draco started, but Theodore put a finger to his lips, shushing him.
In a lowered voice, he said, "Your mother's just arrived. Didn't ask for you. Just wanted to see Pansy."
The words "your mother" doused Draco in icy alarm, sobering him from his weekend more effectively than Draco could do with Occlumency—which said quite a lot given Draco's tutelage and natural skill in the art.
"They're in there?"
Draco reached into his pocket and slowly pulled out a long length of flesh-colored string at which Theodore stared, waiting for an explanation.
"Don't ask me why I have this and I won't have to tell you," Draco said somberly, doing his best not to think about yesterday afternoon with Ginny to keep his cheeks from flushing in memory.
Theodore shook his head and put his hands up as if to say, I don't even want to know.
Draco knelt to feed one end of the Extendable Ear through the crack at the bottom of the door and huddled with Theodore around the other end.
"—talk some sense into him," Draco's mother was saying.
Pansy snorted indelicately. "Why would you come to me to do that?"
"He listens to you, I think. And you're a good girl. You did right by your family by marrying Theodore. Who better to convince Draco to do right by his?"
Draco and Theodore's eyes met and their lips curled in a mutual sneer. Narcissa Malfoy knew nothing about Pansy's marriage to Theodore, why Pansy had submitted to her mother's wishes, why she'd persuaded her mother that Theodore was a better choice than Zabini or Goyle, why Theodore had agreed to an engagement with Pansy. She only knew Ianthe Parkinson's idealized version of the situation, which was an exaggerated account of actual events to make Pansy's engagement and marriage look more smooth and perfect than it had actually been.
Draco could just image the expression Pansy was making at his mother's ignorance.
Perhaps Pansy's face revealed a little bit too much of how wrong Narcissa was, because Narcissa continued speaking, more insistently now.
"Your situations are different, I know. Draco will be the head of our household one day, and I do not wish to see him squander his potential on someone unworthy of him. I do not wish to see our family name besmirched by bad blood and ill-breeding. You should understand that desire, having married into the sacred bloodline yourself."
"To whom would you have me suggest he shackle himself?" Pansy asked, her tone neutral.
"Almost anyone. There are plenty of young ladies among your peers. The Crabbe girl, the Davis girl, Miss Bulstrode is still unattached, I hear. Even one of the Greengrass sisters would be more suitable for him than—" She huffed as if saying Ginny's name was Taboo or poison.
Theodore didn't react a bit at the casual mention of Astoria and Daphne. His lack of reaction was all too noticeable to Draco, too forced, maybe.
"If he insists on being fussy, I'll find him a bride abroad. He could have his pick."
"Just as long as he doesn't pick a Weasley."
Narcissa's tone hardened. "Just as long as he does not choose a blood traitor or a Mudblood. I don't understand what has been going on inside that head of his over the last few years. He's become such a weak man."
Silence followed that statement, which was good, because Draco's whole head suddenly began to pound, his pulse filling his ears, drowning everything else out. The bubble in his mind burst only when Pansy began to speak, her voice even, her volume moderate.
"I'm surprised at you, Mrs. Malfoy," Pansy began. "I'm surprised that a woman who betrayed the Dark Lord for the love of her son knows nothing about her son at all."
"I know my son," Narcissa said, bristling.
"You don't," Pansy snapped, her ire infusing her words now. "If you knew anything about Draco at all, you'd see what the war made of him, how it wrecked him and how he became stronger than all of us in the aftermath. I wish I'd had the courage to face my mother and refuse to marry. I wish I had followed my heart just like he's following his."
"His heart," Narcissa spat, "is soft and easily broken. I made the mistake of coddling him, but if he is to survive in this world, he must harden his heart, not let it lead him about."
The heart in question hammered against Draco's ribs. He was too aware of Theodore beside him, listening to Pansy and Narcissa argue over the quality of Draco's heart as if it was of no consequence. A part of him itched to push Theodore away from the Extendable Ear or yank it out of his reach. Theodore was decent enough that he would probably stop listening if Draco asked.
The floor bit into Draco's knees; his breath came out sharp and shallow, stinging his lungs. His discomfort paralyzed him, so he didn't take action. All he could do was continue to listen in.
"His heart is the best part of him—and if you knew Draco like I did, you would agree!" Pansy said. "If you can't see it, then that's because the war broke his trust in you."
More silence after that, the lack of sound almost palpable in Draco's ear.
And then Pansy, no longer outraged, now pleased with epiphany: "Did the war break your heart, Mrs. Malfoy? Is that why you want so badly for Draco to follow your path, so he doesn't shatter his heart or yours even further?"
There was a rustling sound of clothing being furiously adjusted as one of them stood.
"I see that it was a mistake to think you would help me. You don't care about Draco at all. If you did, you would tell him that his family needs him."
Footsteps had Draco and Theodore springing to their feet and sprinting down the corridor to hide around the corner before the door opened and they were discovered.
Voices floated into the corridor they'd left behind.
"Thank you for stopping by. I'll be sure to let Draco know you asked after him. Shall I escort you to the door?"
"No," Narcissa replied, her tone contemptuous. "I'll let myself out, thank you."
Draco waited until his mother's footsteps faded and then released a breath.
And then he jumped sky high when Pansy turned the corner and said, "Which one of you left a tapeworm sitting in front of the parlor door?" She carefully held the forgotten Extendable Ear out in front of her, clenched between two fingers distastefully.
Draco snatched it out of her grasp and stuffed it into his pocket while his heart rate returned to normal.
"Did you hear everything?" Pansy asked, her face blank.
"Enough," Draco muttered.
Theodore stepped forward and grabbed Pansy's hands, the couple staring into each other's eyes with the intensity of people communicating telepathically.
"I didn't—What I said about our marriage, if you heard—I didn't mean—" she began.
Theodore cut her off with a kiss, under which Pansy's whole body sagged.
When they broke away, he said, "I know. You don't have to explain."
Then, still clutching Theodore's hand, Pansy looked at Draco, one eyebrow raised expectantly.
"Did you mean what you said about me?" he asked.
His soft heart was in his throat. All this time, after all these years of friendship, Draco had thought Pansy resented him—for the way he'd rejected her feelings for him in their fifth year, for ignoring his mother's pleas for him to marry when Pansy had been unable to escape her own fate. Years of her deadpan teasing had led him to believe she thought him inferior, a waste of manhood, pathetic. For so long, he had assumed that Pansy and Narcissa were in agreement where Draco was concerned.
He had never expected her to defend him so fiercely.
Draco stifled the urge to fidget under Pansy's clear brown eyes, which he couldn't help but notice were so much harder and darker than Ginny's warm gaze.
Instead of answering the question, she deflected. "We haven't heard from you in days. Where have you been?"
Draco's lips thinned as he pressed them together, unimpressed with her reticence.
"We know where he's been, darling," Theodore said. "With his girlfriend. Probably having wild sex."
Pansy crossed her arms, waiting for Draco to confirm or deny Theodore's claim.
Which he wouldn't do. He could visualize Pansy's reaction all too clearly, could see her sneer, hear her ridicule. Oh, did you hear that, Theo? Poor pathetic Draco is now a man, he imagined her saying. He stared her down, willing her to give in and just admit for once that she cared about Draco as a friend, as a person. Willing her to tell him that she was on his side.
She didn't give in, either, so Draco exhaled, releasing his expectations along with his breath.
"Fine. Don't answer," he said moodily.
Pansy rolled her eyes and turned, reclaiming Theodore's hand in hers as they departed down the corridor. "Have you eaten breakfast already? We were just about to have brunch when your mother stopped by. Join us. Or don't."
Draco opened his mouth to decline out of spite, but he did feel a bit peckish after the tiring weekend he'd had. His stomach grumbled as if to remind him that he'd had Ginny for breakfast instead of any actual sustenance.
He glanced up and caught Pansy and Theodore looking at each other, small smiles on their faces.
Pansy hardly showed any affection to her own husband when in mixed company, but Draco knew without a doubt that they did love each other, even if Pansy had been in love with Daphne when she had married Theodore. They loved each other now.
The war might have made Draco's heart soft, but it had hardened hers.
He thought of what she'd been through since the war, what she'd given up, and his whole body chilled. Draco had not been treated well in the Ministry after the war, but the work he did was respectable. His coworkers and supervisor had all eventually—grudgingly—accepted him as a hardworking member of the staff. No one liked him, but they also couldn't say he wasn't trying to be good. He'd come a long way since his first day on the job.
Pansy may not have suffered through a public trial like Draco had, but her father was in Azkaban for his war crimes, and Pansy had never made any effort to please anyone, not the general public, nor Pureblood society. At least, not until she'd broken things off with Daphne to marry Theodore. While her marriage might have cemented her place in the social elite, it had done nothing for public opinion except prove that she and her family had no wish to break the status quo or redeem themselves. In order to appease one side of society, she had effectively alienated another.
Draco, meanwhile, continued to defy his family's expectations where marriage was concerned and had received no repercussions from his mother or the social elite because of it.
Maybe life after the war had not been entirely pleasant for him, but Pansy had had it harder. At Hogwarts she had been affectionate and loyal—but her forbidden relationship with Daphne had taught her to suppress affection and hide her loyalties.
Maybe Draco should just accept the statement she'd delivered when she'd thought her only audience was Narcissa Malfoy. Maybe he should look at Pansy's actions to understand how she really felt about him, instead of her words.
She wasn't a pleasant woman, but she was loyal to those who mattered to her, even if she made sure it looked like no one mattered to her at all. He glanced around the corridor he was standing in, reminded, suddenly, of Pansy's kindness in letting him stay at Nott Hall when Draco had had nowhere else to go.
Maybe he didn't need to hear her say she cared about him to his face. Maybe she had already said it.
"You look like you haven't eaten in days," said a portrait of a woman in golden robes hanging on the wall next to Draco. She tsked, shaking her head sadly. "You will waste away if you continue to skip the most important meal of the day."
"Which meal is that?" Draco asked, half-annoyed at the portrait's intrusion and half-amused by her frizzy gray hair and wild eyes.
"Second breakfast, of course! Without second breakfast, how would you survive between breakfast and the third most important meal, brunch?"
Lips quirking, his amusement now shifting from half to full, Draco hurried down the corridor to catch up with his friends. It certainly wouldn't do to miss the first and third most important meals of the day, would it?
Author's Notes: If you're at all interested in Pansy and Theodore's relationship, how that began, I've been writing a prequel about them. I'd like to finish it before I post it, so no idea when it will see the light of day, but it exists!
I know I've said this more than once, but thank you guys so much for your patience concerning my inconsistent updates. You have no idea how much it means to me that you've been so kind in your reviews about the wait in between chapters. If more of you were rude or mean about it, I don't know that I'd be able to muster up the energy to continue. But you guys are seriously the best, so I do this for you. For me, too, of course, because this story is too important to me, and I have too much of it planned out, but definitely, definitely for you.
HUGE thanks to Keeperofthemoon0 for her thoughts on the multiple versions of the beginning of this chapter. Her input calmed me down and stopped me from ripping my hair out when I decided this chapter would need to be rewritten for the fourth time. Additional HUGE HUGE thanks to Ha'niqua for beta-ing the smut. As always, she makes everything better.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Feel free to let me know what you thought. :)
Sunny's Prompt #3:
Basic premise: Draco and Ginny start publicly dating for reasons other than actually liking each other.
Must haves: The pair put on a very convincing act even though they really don't like what they have to do...at least at first. The ruse goes on for a while and in the meantime they're learning more and more surprising things about the other. Humor.
No-no's: A dark or very angsty story.
Rating range: The higher the better, but ultimately up to you. I really don't mind.
Bonus points: Hogwarts Era. Draco and Ginny get competitive about one-upping each other to show how they're the best girlfriend/boyfriend ever, and when no one is looking they snipe at each other about how lame/stupid their 'romantic' act was or snark together about how ridiculous everyone else is to think that said gesture was so romantic. E.g. "If I actually came home to that and you were my real boyfriend, I'd bloody kill you."