Something must have happened to her over the summer, because by the time she began her sixth year at Hogwarts, she was beautiful. She'd always been pretty, I suppose, despite the red hair and the Weasley freckles and the second-hand robes. But now - well, everyone started looking at her in a new light. Even Harry Potter, who'd never paid much notice to her, started looking at her with interest.
Hell, even me. I didn't think I would. I figured a gorgeous Weasley was still a Weasley, and that was that. I couldn't fall for her. She was beneath me.
And yet I found myself staring at her, sometimes blatantly, as she walked around the grounds with Hermione. Between the two of them they had every single boy in the place captivated. I never understood the appeal Hermione Granger had, to be quite honest with you. She was too bossy and too studious to interest me. But Ginny - Ginny was different.
I didn't want it to happen. It just did. Sometimes I noticed her looking at me, too. I wanted to believe it was for the same reasons I was looking at her, but for the first time in my life, I was doubtful. I wanted so badly to believe that she was attracted to me, and if she wasn't - well, I didn't know what I'd do.
I'd had my fair share of girlfriends, you understand. Probably more than my fair share, I suppose. I liked the way they looked at me, the way they feared me, the way they wanted me. I'd had a good time with a lot of them. The trouble is, they tended to want more. I didn't understand it. I just wanted a bit of fun, and they seemed to want long-term commitment. So I had a bit of a reputation, but I didn't mind. It suited me, I thought.
The seventh years had a ball after our mock NEWTs, to take our mind off things, supposedly. To be honest, I hadn't been that worried about the exams. They were just for practise, after all, and I knew I hadn't failed anything. Nevertheless, I went. I didn't have a date. I hadn't been bothered, I suppose. Or, to be honest, I hadn't worked up the courage to ask Ginny, and there was no one else that seemed worth asking.
She was there, though. I walked in and she was the first person I saw, on the arm of that moron Dean. She looked at me for a moment before turning away. She was wearing a black velvet dress that fell to the floor, and she looked stunning. Her arms were bare, pale smooth exposed flesh that I wanted to touch.
I tried to ignore these thoughts as I danced with a few of the Slytherin girls. They couldn't compare to her, but I kissed them anyway, to distract myself from it all.
And then she was crossing the hall and placing her hand on my arm. "Draco," she said.
I turned away from the girl I'd been dancing with. "Ginny," I replied. I knew that people were looking at me, waiting for me to insult her, to say something cutting. They expected it of me. And under normal circumstances, they'd be right.
"Shall we dance?" I asked.
She slid her arms around my neck. "Thought you'd never ask," she smiled.
Within minutes we were kissing, and all I could think was wow. I'd been crazy about her for months, and now I had her. I finally had her.
She drew away momentarily and whispered into my ear. "Want to go outside? I could use some fresh air."
I nodded, and we left. I couldn't help but notice the shocked faces of everyone in the hall as we passed by.
She didn't want fresh air, as it turned out. She wanted to do things that we wouldn't have been able to do in the hall, with the staff keeping a watchful eye on us. I couldn't believe I'd ever thought this girl was innocent and chaste.
We didn't go back to the hall for the rest of the night. When the dance was over, I kissed her lightly. "I'll see you tomorrow," I said.
She smiled. "Right." I watched her walk away, wishing we didn't have to say goodbye. I wanted more. I never wanted to let go of her.
I didn't see her the next morning, but I did have a run-in with Ron. He grabbed me by the collar and growled, "I don't know what you're playing at, Malfoy, but if you hurt my sister -"
I struggled out of his grasp, difficult as he was both taller and broader than me. "I'm not going to hurt Ginny," I snapped. I didn't think I could have even if I wanted to.
She was sitting under a tree with Hermione that afternoon, laughing. I walked up to her and smiled. "Hi."
"Hi," she replied, looking surprised. This wasn't exactly the response I expected from someone who had done the kind of things with me that she'd done last night.
"I thought we might, uh, talk, or -" I was uneasy. I wasn't used to this.
She half-smiled. "Talk? What's there to talk about?"
"Last night," I hissed angrily. "Are you going to pretend that it never happened?"
"I know it happened, Draco," she said. "And - what?"
"And - didn't it mean anything to you?"
"I enjoyed myself. It was fun. We had a good time. Don't tell me you're looking for something more, Draco. I know what you're like. You're not into commitment."
"Of course," I said. "I was just making sure that you knew that. I mean, I don't want you thinking that we have some kind of . . . relationship. We don't. It was nothing."
"Right," she nodded.
"So tell your brother that, before he tries to pick a fight with me again," I snapped, and stormed off.
I was shaking with anger. I couldn't believe it had meant nothing to her. Well, I'd show her. She meant nothing to me. Nothing.
I didn't care about her. How could I? She was inferior. She didn't deserve even a moment of my time. And last night - well, that had been nothing. Just another conquest for me. Just another girl to add to the list. Just Ginny Weasley, a rather insignificant girl in the grand scheme of things.
Just Ginny Weasley, the first - and last - girl to ever hurt me.