Disclaimer: Everything except the plot belong to the wonderful, talented, and superb Ms. JK Rowling (may her beard grow ever longer) Oops, that's a dwarvish salutation! Anyway, this just jumped into my head, nearly fully developed and I had to write it down. It has not been well thought out and I didn't go over and over it to get dialog and characterization right, but it's a sweet little piece of fluff for your Valentine's Day pleasure. Enjoy. (I hope) K
A/N: Updated to tie a loose end or three.
Draco Malfoy was sitting in the Great Hall, waiting for the food to appear at their table on this clear, bright spring morning. Well, he was partially waiting for the food to appear. He, and half the male population of Hogwarts, was also waiting for another appearance. It promised to be a beautiful day, just warm enough to make being out of doors pleasant. The last of the winter snows had melted off during the week, and the front lawn of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was bright with hundreds of wild flowers. This, however, wasn't the appearance the male portion of the student body was anticipating. They were waiting for their own harbinger of spring in the form of Ginny Weasley.
Draco thought back to the first time the youngest Weasley had presented Hogwarts with her own unique brand of welcoming in the spring. They'd been sitting at breakfast on a morning similar to this one two years ago. The Great Hall was abuzz with chatter as usual that Sunday morning when the chatter gradually ceased. Draco had looked up, as had everyone else, to see the cause. There, in the doorway of the Great Hall, was the Weasley girl. That wasn't unusual. The littlest Weasley was often seen in the Great Hall. Where else would she eat? What was unusual was the pale lilac robe she was wearing and the large gathering basket she carried on her arm.
Her brother, too, was an unusual addition. Draco couldn't clearly remember, but he'd been certain that Ron Weasley hovering over his little sister was something new. Not that he blamed him. The little Weasley had curled her straight red hair, and had woven lilac ribbons into the gleaming mass. With the soft, pastel robe and the unusual hairstyle, it was obvious that the skinny, plain little girl was growing into a passingly attractive young woman. Not that she had transformed into a great beauty. Hell, Draco thought, she'd only been fourteen. But the promise was there. She would be damned attractive in a few years.
But as the young men at Hogwarts had gazed at the new littlest Weasley, the buzzing began again, this time filled with speculation. What was she doing? Why was she wearing the new robe? What was the basket for? And Draco had smirked. Because he'd been eavesdropping on a private conversation, he had at least a little more idea than anyone else.
He'd thought he was going to catch Potty and the Weasel doing a bit of rule breaking. Instead, he'd crept up on Weasley trying to talk his sister out of some course of action she seemed to have her heart set on. Disgusted, he had nearly walked away, but his interest was piqued by the girl's vehemence. He hadn't suspected she had so much spirit.
"I don't care how much you don't like it," she was saying heatedly to her brother. "I used to do it every spring at home until you all left! I already spoke to Mum and she gave her permission!"
"Yeah, but Ginny, at home it was just family!"
"That's right," the girl had agreed. "Now it will be for real!"
They had argued back and forth for several minutes until the girl had finally said, "Look, Ron, I don't interfere in your life! I'm doing it! This Sunday, weather permitting. You can support me or you can be a great git and do the over-protective brother thing, but you're not stopping me!"
Draco had barely had time to conceal himself behind a large statue when the young girl had stormed around the corner and stalked away. Watching the girl hurry out of sight, Draco vowed he would be watching intently this Sunday. What on earth she was going to do was beyond him, but anything that got Ron Weasley's knickers in such a bunch was worth a look.
That Sunday had dawned clear and breezy, but warm enough. Draco had come down to breakfast and kept an eye on the Gryffindor table. Whatever was going to happen, he didn't want to miss it. He was as astounded as everyone else when the Weasley girl appeared in her lilac robe. But he was disappointed. Nothing at all happened during breakfast! Maybe something would happen after, he told himself, spearing some ham onto his plate.
When the meal had finally concluded, Draco saw the git brother still talking frantically to his young sister. Her face, however, was set. Giving him a patient look, the girl reached under the table and pulled out the oversized basket. Hanging it on her arm, she simply walked out of the Great Hall without another word. Draco was as curious as anyone and he joined the mostly-male crowd following her. She continued to the entrance of the castle and out. Draco was surprised to note how gracefully she moved. He'd formed an image of the girl as still being the awkward, shy little thing who used to follow Potter around like an adoring little puppy. He wouldn't be surprised if there were several fellows who would be happy to pet her, but there was nothing remotely puppy-like about the girl now.
When she had reached the lawn, she had stopped for a moment. Then, as if coming to a decision, she bent and plucked one of the wild daffodils from the grass. Placing it gently in her basket, she moved on and plucked another wild flower.
Draco had been disgusted. This was what had gotten Weasley in such a taking? His sister was picking flowers and Ron Weasley was having a fit! Pathetic! Then he stopped. Weasley was still looking panic-stricken, even though all his sister was doing was gathering a bouquet. Looking back to the girl, Draco noticed that she was picking more flowers than she would ever need for a bouquet. In fact, the oversized basket was now full and Ron Weasley's panic level seemed to have climbed another notch.
And then Draco saw what Weasley was panicking over. The young girl was now walking slowly back toward the castle, apparently oblivious to her sibling's entreaties. As she approached one of the many boys who had come onto the lawn to watch her antics, she pulled a flower from the basket. Stepping up to the boy, a fourth year, Draco thought, from Hufflepuff, she said something to him, handed him the flower and placed a chaste little kiss on his cheek!
So THAT'S what Weasley was panicked over! His sister was going to hand out flowers and kisses? Draco started laughing. He was still near the castle and was watching the proceedings from a distance, but he was close enough that Weasley heard his laughter. The other boy threw him a look that might have worried him, but Draco saw that at the moment Weasley was more worried about stopping his sister than trying to pick a fight with his enemy. When the girl brushed off her brother's objections and continued handing out the flowers and kisses, Draco laughed even harder. He was going to have a field day with this! When he finally got control of his laughter, he watched until, finally the basket was empty. The littlest Weasley hadn't come close to him and Draco didn't care. He had no desire to get a chaste, sisterly little buss on the cheek from an impoverished little weasel. When she was finished, she didn't even look at the boys she'd 'honored' with her present. She'd merely strolled, basket swinging from her hand, back to the castle.
That had been in Draco's fifth year. Last year, the lilac robe had made another appearance on the first really nice weekend in spring, and the ritual had begun again. And, as in the previous year, Draco had come to watch and laugh. He laughed all the harder because the Weasley girl had grown prettier during the year, and now her sisterly kisses were even more pleasing to the recipients. In fact, some of them looked as though they might not object to something a bit friendlier than that small peck on the cheek. And they'd crowded one another out, trying to make sure they were in kissing distance.
Of course, once again, the little weasel had run out of flowers long before she'd come near any of the Slytherins. And again, Draco hadn't cared. His taste didn't run to redheads in any case, and the thought of the little weasel kissing him still didn't excite him. But, again, it was a great laugh.
Now Draco sat at the breakfast table and wondered, as probably most of the males in the room were wondering, if the lilac robe would make a third appearance. The girl wasn't 'going out' with anyone. She never seemed to be. Draco had wondered, that first year, if she wasn't trying to make Potter jealous, but she seemed to have forgotten about him. In fact, she didn't seem interested in any of the fellows here. Not that he blamed her. She'd handed out kisses for two years in a row and none of these losers had had the stones to actually kiss her back. What would she want with such a pathetic bunch?
When the room fell silent, Draco knew that she was performing her 'spring rite' again. He turned to the entrance and felt his jaw drop. Ginny Weasley was once again wearing the lilac robe, but this year there was a distinct difference. It was just the tiniest bit too tight at the bust and hips, but that only proved that the girl was becoming a young woman. Her form was subtly but distinctly displayed by the softly clinging fabric that swirled around her legs as she walked. And she'd grown in other ways, as well. Where the robe had dragged over the floor in previous years, now it floated just at her ankles. She was taller! This year the gleaming red tresses were captured at the back of her head and long ringlets dangled down her back along with multicolored ribbons. Her face was framed by short curls and in all she looked breathtaking.
When he'd recovered from the shock of seeing the littlest Weasley looking all grown up, Draco spared a glance for the git. Ron Weasley was predictably horrified. He was hovering around the delectable sixteen year old talking frantically and trying to pull her out of the room. Potter and Granger seemed to be trying to dissuade him, but he kept brushing them off. Draco smirked. Just like his sister was brushing him off, Draco noted. None of his arguments seemed to move her and she serenely sat at the Gryffindor table, stowing the basket safely beneath.
As conversation began again, Draco looked around the room. He felt the sneer tug at his lips as he watched the boys buzzing with speculation and the girls seething with resentment. Draco could have, in his own inimitable style, ripped the little Weasley to shreds the first time she'd performed her 'spring rites'. For some reason, though he'd held off. He had decided not to say anything last year, either, and he doubted he would do so this year. But that didn't stop him from drinking in the sensation that the girl was causing. Damned if the girl didn't have more balls than most of the pathetic little wankers in the school! He had to admire her spirit even if he was laughing at her at the same time.
The meal finally ended with predictable results. The females grabbed any male they had a claim on, and the single fellows practically stampeded to get a choice spot on the lawn. Weasley tried one more time to talk his sister out of her ritual, but this time she turned on him. Draco was too far away to hear what she was saying, but he could see her face and he was shocked to see that she almost looked dangerous. The git flushed and backed down. Regaining her composure, the little Weasley took up her basket and headed for the door. The stupid brother gave her a desperate look and this time Draco heard him say something about meeting someone. Then, as he was disappearing down a corridor, Draco followed the Weasley girl.
As usual, Draco stood well back from the proceedings. He wanted no part of it; that hadn't changed over the years. But he did want to watch. Surely there must be one fellow with the nerve to kiss the girl back? She was, after all, rather attractive, and now the oaf of a brother wasn't around.
Draco looked almost nervously around. Where was Weasley, anyway? This was his little sister, after all, and she might just need his protection. Besides that, Draco loved to laugh as the brother's panic grew with each flower. The girl was just starting to pick flowers and there was still no sign of Ron. Draco forgot about Weasley when a heavy hand landed on his shoulder.
Turning, Draco shrugged off the hand and nodded coolly to Vince Crabbe.
"At it again, eh?" Crabbe rumbled.
"So it would seem," Draco replied, giving the large young man a disdainful look. Just behind Crabbe, Goyle stood transfixed. He was staring at the dainty Gryffindor girl with a look of awe on his face.
"All grown up, isn't she?" Crabbe remarked, almost but not quite leering.
Draco felt an unaccountable surge of anger and stifled it quickly. Instead, he nodded to the slim girl and chuckled maliciously.
"Hope you two oafs aren't getting your hopes up. Weasley isn't likely to kiss either of you two, now, is she?"
Goyle ignored him and shoved past his two classmates to get closer to the action. Crabbed, though, gave Draco a sharp look. "And you think she'll kiss you, you conceited prat?"
"Again, not bloody likely," he answered smoothly. "Which is fine with me. I'm just here to laugh at these stupid twits lined up for a little peck on the cheek. What a waste of time. They might as well get something worthwhile out of it, but do any of them have the stones? Of course not!"
Draco chuckled and turned back to watch the girl hand a flower to a flushed Neville Longbottom. The stupid twit was blushing and stammering at the girl and Draco would swear it had to be the first time the boy had ever been kissed.
Crabbe was looking strangely at Draco. Finally he said, "And I guess you have the stones to do something else? Even with that git brother hovering around somewhere? That's why you're standing way up here and not out on the lawn?"
Draco narrowed his eyes at the large, hulking young man. "I'm not afraid of Ron Weasley, and I'm not here for the kiss. I'm just here for the show. But if the little weasel was stupid enough to come this way, you can bet she'd get a surprise. That is," he added with a smirk, "if I lowered myself to kiss a Weasley in the first place."
Crabbe gave a fair imitation of Draco's sneer and shrugged his shoulder. "Whatever," he said finally and moved away, toward the Weasley girl and her flowers.
"Yeah," agreed Draco. "Whatever."
He looked back to the action on the lawn and saw with a mild shock that the girl was actually moving toward Greg Goyle. He stared, wide-eyed as the girl handed the large oaf a white lily, smiled and said a few words. Goyle, for his part, was tongue tied and could only seem to bend down to let the girl brush his cheek with her lips before moving on. Goyle straightened and stared after the girl with the most disgusting look of adoration on his face. It was sick-making, Draco thought. He couldn't believe the girl had actually done it and he gave her full marks for having great big, giant ones. If he'd had to bet on the chances that she would actually kiss Crabbe or Goyle he would have lost a fortune. And now, the girl was approaching Blaise Zabini and Vince Crabbe. Blaise was understandable. The young man was presentable and had never been an active Weasley-baiter. But Crabbe? Draco's own partner in crime? Unbelievable! Both boys were wearing twin foolish grins as the girl delivered a flower and a kiss to each before moving on.
And now she was much closer. Draco's heart began to beat more quickly. He didn't care if she came his way, he told himself firmly. He was NOT starved for female attention and the thought of getting a silly little kiss from this silly little girl was not in the least exciting. So he kept repeating as she wove her way slowly closer to him. She was only a few yards away when she stepped in front of Colin Creevey. She reached into her basket and then looked down, surprised. Now Draco was close enough to hear.
"Oh, Colin, I'm sorry! It's empty!"
The elder Creevey looked devastated. The Weasley girl apologized again, but Creevey waved it off.
"There's always next year, right?"
The girl smiled and nodded. That seemed to be the signal to leave. The boys began to drift away, comparing flowers and boasting that the girl had given them a 'special' kiss! Draco had to laugh. He'd seen no difference in the way she acted to any of them, including the Slytherins! What a bunch of imbeciles, he told himself now that the ritual was complete. Standing around like morons waiting for the innocent little maiden to bless them with offerings of flowers and kisses. He shook his head and looked for the girl. She had moved away from him after talking to Creevey, but not toward the castle. She was looking in the grass for something and seemed to have found it. She bent and picked up a long colorful strip of something. A hair ribbon. As she turned back toward the castle, one boy approached her. He was empty-handed, so he hadn't been one of the 'lucky' ones.
The boy smiled engagingly at the young Weasley, which, for some reason made Draco want to pound something. Then the boy bent and plucked a wild flower from the lawn, presenting it to the girl with an idiotic gesture that Draco suspected the boy thought was gallant. Before the Weasley girl could react in any way, the boy put on of his hands on the girl's shoulder and bent forward. Draco felt the cry of rage forming, but it got no further than that. Ginny Weasley could apparently take care of herself.
She had planted a hand in the boy's chest and shoved him off, obviously telling him off at the same time. Draco watched the dangerous expression on her face, not noticing that the boy had paled and drawn back. That girl was something else, he thought with not a little admiration. As the boy slunk away, the young Weasley began to meander back toward the castle. Despite his declaration that he was only there to laugh at the other gits, Draco continued to stand there, watching the girl's progress.
She was again a few yards away when she looked up and noticed him. She gave him a guarded smile as she continued to approach. "Hullo, Malfoy. Enjoying the show?"
Draco was caught off guard. He hadn't expected her to even look at him, let alone speak to the brute who was constantly teasing and making fun of her brother and his family. Though he seldom bothered her directly, the trickle effect was probably more than sufficient to make her despise him.
"Uh, Weasley, er--," Draco stammered, then cursed himself. This was only the little weasel! He would not be nervous around her!
Clearing his throat, he smirked. "So, your little 'rite of spring' all finished for another year, Weasley?"
She glanced at her basket as she began to answer. "Yeah, the flowers are all—oh!"
She was staring into the basket now, and in spite of himself, Draco was curious.
"What is it, Weasley?" he demanded as she continued to stare.
She turned her eyes up to him and Draco saw for the first time just how lovely they were. He swallowed.
"That's never happened before," she said, her voice uncertain.
She was speaking in riddles and Draco felt a sudden urge to shake her. "WHAT'S never happened before?"
Instead of answering, she lifted the basket for his inspection. There on the bottom lay a single red tulip. Draco felt oddly short of breath. She had one last flower and he seemed to be the only boy left on the lawn. He struggled for his customary distain, and dredged up a contemptuous sentence.
"So what, Weasley? So you missed it. Now you can go find Creevey and make his entire year."
"But, you don't understand," she insisted. "It was empty! I looked a couple of times! And now…"
She was frowning down at the basket but she suddenly raised her head with a gasp. "Oh, no," she said finally. "I know the basket was empty. And I know YOU didn't conjure the flower. You just come out to laugh. But that means…."
Again she let her sentence trail off. Draco was becoming impatient with her half-finished sentences. He was about to demand she explain when she looked up into his eyes. She glared at him for a second and then, as if coming to a distasteful but necessary decision, she plucked the flower from the basket. Dropping the basket, she straightened her shoulders with the air of one dispatching an unpleasant task.
"Well, then, Malfoy," she said determinedly. "Let's get this over with."
Draco gaped at her. "What the hell are you talking about, Weasley?" he demanded.
The girl rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue at him. "Well, bend down! I can't very well kiss you when you're all stiff and straight like that. You look like you've got a stick up your—uh, spine! And you can stop looking like you just sucked a lemon, too. I'm not happy about this either!"
"Now just a damned minute," Draco began. He couldn't believe she really expected him to let her order him around like that, especially when she was being nastily insulting, too. No matter how much his heart had begun to race, he wasn't about to tamely let little Ginny Weasley wrap him round her finger!
"If you expect me…" he began, but got no further.
The girl had grabbed a handful of his robe and yanked him down to her eye level.
"Take the damn flower, Malfoy, so we can have done!" she ordered.
Shoving the delicate bloom into his hand, she gritted out, "Happy spring, Malfoy!"
Draco wrenched her fingers from the cloth of his robes and scowled at her. So, she wanted a kiss, eh? Well, he'd give her a kiss she wouldn't forget! He twined his fingers around the stem of the flower and her own fingers and pulled her close. He grinned when he saw her determined look change to one of panic as he tangled the fingers of his other hand in the soft ringlets. Then, quickly, before she could begin to berate him, he covered her soft mouth with his. He was still grinning when he felt her shocked reaction. She struggled in his arms violently, pushing and shoving and even landing a fist or two in his ribs. But he refused to let her off so easily. She had pushed it, and she needed to learn that you couldn't push some people around, no matter how lovely you were. In a few seconds he would push her away and laugh at her. When he was going to do so, he received his own shock. His arms refused to obey him. He couldn't release her; at least, not yet.
He was still holding her firmly, his mouth tightly pressed to hers. Releasing her hand, he wrapped his, flower and all, around her waist and pulled her closer, trapping her arms against his chest. He was shocked again to feel waves of sensation pounding at him and he wasn't even really kissing her. He was just pressing his lips to hers.
She continued to struggle. At least, Draco thought she was struggling, trying to free her arms. But once her arms were free, she wrapped them around his neck and lifted herself onto her toes, pressing even closer. Astonishment and pleasure jolted through him. Were the boys in this school insane? How could they have let her off with just the innocent little brush of her lips on their cheeks? How could they not have wanted more?
She sighed against his mouth and Draco decided he wanted more. He teased her lips open and deepened the kiss, his knees nearly buckling when she immediately and eagerly returned it.
Some time later (although Draco was never certain exactly how much later) he finally loosened his hold and pulled slightly away. He thought he'd heard something like rustling bushes and a stifled yelp of pain, but when he looked around, he couldn't see anything out of the ordinary. His hand was still tightly clutching the tulip, but the thing was now rather battered. Draco forced himself to look down at the girl who had just turned his life upside down.
Her hair was a mess! The ringlets were disheveled and she'd lost another ribbon. He knew he had tangled his fingers in her hair several times while he was kissing her, and, remembering feeling her fingers threading through his hair, he wondered if his was as bad. She was holding onto his arms tightly now, almost as though she needed the support, but she was looking shyly at his chest. Her cheeks were glowing brightly and Draco felt an almost irresistible urge to plant a kiss on her small, freckled nose. He didn't, though. In fact, he could only watch that adorable face until she finally stammered, "Well, uh, M-Malfoy, happy S-spring!"
"You said that before," he reminded her, trying to get her to look at him.
She looked quickly away and stepped back, stammering apologies and explanations on why she had to get back to the castle. He took her hand and brought it to his lips, the blood pounding in his ears. Draco was certain of only one thing at this moment: the lilac robe was going into retirement as of today. He would not have these idiots flocking about her next year, even if he had to come back to the school from February on to stand guard over her.
Even though this line of thinking was making Draco extremely nervous, he managed to choke out a few sentences.
"I'll walk you back, Wea—Ginny," he said around the lump in his throat. "I think we have a lot to talk about."
About a hundred paces away, George and Fred Weasley were having a hell of a time restraining their peals of laughter. They were having an even harder time restraining their youngest brother and preventing him from exploding from the bushes to murder the tall, blond boy currently snogging their only sister.
"It's your own damned fault, Ron," George lectured, fighting not to collapse with mirth.
"Yeah, oof!" added Fred, neatly tackling the youngest Weasley boy and finally managing to sit on him. "Give us a hand, George, will you?"
When both twins were firmly planted on Ron's back, Fred continued. "It was your bloody stupid idea to have us come up from London and help you enchant the basket to produce another flower when Ginny met someone she really loathed."
"It's your bloody bad luck that person happened to Malfoy!" George chimed in. "She never would have kissed the git if not for your brilliant plan!"
"Told you it was dicey when I wrote you back, but you wouldn't listen, would you?" Fred commented, giving Ron a firm smack on the back of the head when the seventeen year old started struggling again.
"How could you forget, Ron, that the whole point of the ritual was for Ginny to find her 'soul-mate'? Well it looks like she has and we've got you to bloody thank for it! I can see it now! I can just see Ginny dragging Malfoy to the house, saying, 'Mum, Dad, I'd like you to meet my fiancé, the son of the Deatheater.' Nice going, little brother."
Ron's expression went from dejected to aghast. He had finally accepted that he was stuck, for now at least, with his sister's choice, no matter how much he hated it. Then he had another thought.
"Bloody hell!" he murmured quietly.
"What?" the twins asked together.
"Oh, God, I'm dead! How am I going to explain this to Mum!?"