Author's Note: A little late for Valentine's Day, but I hope this is enjoyable nonetheless! I apologize in advance for the truly atrocious poetry featured herein. Draco, apparently, is not a poet. The rating is for a couple swears.
~* The Return of the Singing Valentines *~
"Uh hem," said the dwarf dressed in a diaper and fairy wings.
The sound had been unnecessary to draw attention to his presence as Ginny and her students had all been watching him silently as he'd approached the center of the Quidditch pitch. Now the children were snickering and pointing at him, and he cleared his throat again.
"Er, I'm in the middle of a lesson," Ginny said. "Can this wait?"
"Sorry," he replied in a croaky voice, "got lots more deliveries to make."
Ginny rolled her eyes. "Of course."
"I'm looking for a Jimmy Weasley."
The crowd of students all gasped, and then their laughter renewed with more vigor than before.
Clenching her teeth, she corrected him. "It's Ginny Weasley."
"Whatever. Anyway, here goes." He pulled a miniature harp out of nowhere and strummed a few of the strings, testing his voice against the note the instrument emitted. The two sounds were so vastly different, more laughter erupted from the class, which Ginny silenced with a glare.
"Her pale and bland face could use some foundation
To cover up those freckles nightmarish.
She's nearly as tall as the shortest crustacean,
Her hair is too orange and garish.
Despite all her flaws,
And her fashion faux pas,
Ginny Weasley's curves could make any man pause.
She distracts me to the point of vexation."
"Oooooooh!" the class said in a single, synchronous note as the last word of the valentine rang out across the pitch.
"Yes, thanks for that," Ginny said drily.
The dwarf shrugged and took his time leaving. As soon as he was out of sight, the students unleashed a barrage of nosy questions.
"Oh, oh, Professor Weasley, who was that valentine from?"
"Do you have a secret admirer, Professor Weasley?"
"Are you going to send one back?"
"Are you in love? Will you tell us who you're in love with?"
Ginny ground her teeth together as she let them release their curiosity at her, but as soon as she'd had enough, she blew her whistle to silence the rowdy bunch.
"Anyone who is not on their broom and in the air by the count of three will have detention with Mr. Filch tonight!"
The class scattered immediately, and Ginny continued her lesson as if it had never been interrupted.
Ginny was going to kill Draco Malfoy.
Oh, wait, excuse her—Professor Malfoy.
The singing valentines had been his idea, after all. Why he had wanted the ridiculous service to return to Hogwarts, Ginny had no idea, and even more unfathomable to her was the headmistress's approval. In Ginny's first year at Hogwarts, she remembered quite clearly how much Professor McGonagall had detested the interruption of the valentines in her class.
Somehow Malfoy had sweet talked the headmistress into allowing the dwarves and their awful singing back into the school, and he was going to pay for it.
Unfortunately, she was waylaid before she could reach the stairs down to the dungeons by another dwarf, who had foregone the harp altogether for a bow and heart-tipped arrow.
"It's… it's Ginny."
"Whatever. I gots a valentine for ya. Don't fight me about dis, okay?" He raised his bow and arrow, threatening to shoot it.
With an exasperated sigh, Ginny said, "Fine! Get on with it."
He cleared his throat.
"Oh, Ginny Weasley ain't the girl for me,
No ma'am, no way, no siree.
Her voice is too screechy for mine delicate ears
And I'm fairly certain she'd bore me to tears.
But there's something about her I just can't deny,
Yes, there's something about her that's caught my eye."
During the last two lines of the song, the dwarf mimed an hourglass shape in mid-air with his hands that made Ginny's jaws and fists both clench. She had to take special care not to draw her wand or pummel the messenger with his own bow.
"Thank you very much," she replied, biting out each word with reluctance.
The dwarf shrugged and walked back toward the great oak doors that led to the grounds. "Eh, you welcome."
Malfoy's office sat empty, so she continued down the corridor to the Potions classroom. Thrusting open the door with a bang, she was stopped, once again, by a diapered and bewinged dwarf, who, like his brethren, looked less than enthusiastic about this job.
Malfoy sat at his desk at the front of the classroom. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, a smirk transforming into an expression of dark amusement. In fact, his eyes positively shined with glee.
"Jelly Bean Weasley?" the dwarf asked in a theatrical voice, his words surprisingly well-enunciated.
"My name is—you know what? It doesn't even matter. Yes, Jelly Bean Weasley here."
Ginny had been slowly losing patience since the interruption during her flying lesson earlier, but now she was running on empty. As the children said these days, she had no fucks left to give.
"Go on, Ted," Malfoy said.
The dwarf apparently had warmed up beforehand because this one did not clear his throat before he began to sing.
"But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Ginevra is the sun—"
"I know those are Shakespeare's words, Malfoy."
"Shhhh, Ted's getting to the best part."
Ted leveled a disapproving glare at Ginny before he raised his arms and continued.
"Though I ply her with praise, my regard she mistakes
For snide mockery to-ward everyone.
She is blind to the truth, willfully kept in the dark,
But Ginny Weasley is the woman of my heart."
Ted bowed low, his nose nearly brushing the ground. He stayed in that position until Malfoy applauded him, and then the dwarf swept out of the room with a gratified smile.
Ginny slammed the door behind her as she stalked into the classroom and up the aisle between the workstations. She stopped in front of Malfoy's desk, her hands pressing into the wood as she leaned down.
"What was the meaning of this, Malfoy?"
"It should have been obvious," he said with an arched brow.
"So you wanted to insult and humiliate me in front of my class? Was that your goal?"
Now Malfoy's brow creased in confusion. "Insult you? Humiliate you? When did I do that?"
"Oh, don't act innocent now. In those songs you called me boring, nightmarish, and screechy. How did you think I was going to react? Those aren't even original insults. You were using those same lines ten years ago when we were schoolchildren. I think you need to upgrade your repertoire."
"Those were only the truth, though," Malfoy said, his amusement returning now that he understood how he had offended her. "It's a fact that you are not compatible for me, and for some reason, I still want you."
"Not—not compatible!" Ginny leaned over further, nearly nose to nose, freckled to pointed, with Malfoy. If she hadn't been so outraged, she would have realized that he had a perfect line of sight down the neck of her robes. "How convenient that you haven't mentioned anything about not being compatible the dozen-plus times I've been in your bed."
"Yes," he said, distracted. His gaze kept darting up to her eyes and back down again. "Yes, we are most certainly compatible in that arena."
"Ugh!" Ginny shoved off the desk, taking a few steps back in frustration. "I knew this was a bad idea. I never should have let you talk me into that nightcap—"
"You've had more than four months to regret your decision. And despite your reservations, you still join me in my bedchambers, whether I initiate an invitation or not. That's quite telling to me."
Ginny's face reddened at the truth of his statement. If she detested Malfoy so much, why did she keep returning to him, even though she knew it wasn't strictly ethical for them to shag each other? They were coworkers living in confined quarters. A fallout between them could be detrimental to their work environment and their students' educations.
Though, she had to admit that their animosity outside the classroom had mostly disappeared since their sexual relationship began.
"I think you need a lesson on how to romance a woman," she said.
Malfoy stood up, and the amusement he'd worn on his face, his smug smirk, they were gone. His eyes looked impossibly dark now. "Is that what you want? For me to romance you?"
Ginny flushed again, heat spreading through her body at the sight of his expression, at the thought of being seduced—properly, romantically courted—by someone like Draco Malfoy. It had been so long since she'd dated anyone. Well before she'd begun teaching at Hogwarts over six years ago. She hadn't realized how much she'd missed male companionship until she'd received those rude singing valentines.
What she had with Malfoy was no longer enough. She wanted more. Maybe even more with him.
"No," she said, but her pink cheeks and burning ears gave away her lie. She stormed out of the classroom before Malfoy could uncover any more of her embarrassing desires.
A dwarf greeted her outside her door as she was leaving for dinner later that evening.
"Yes, I'm Ginny Weasley," she said preemptively.
"Okay," the dwarf said. He handed her box of chocolates—not only the finest that Honeydukes offered, but also her favorite flavors: dark chocolate balls filled with strawberry creme and caramel. Then the dwarf pulled a single rose out of mid-air, presenting it to her with a dramatic flair. The rose was enchanted to change colors, and Ginny couldn't help but be impressed by the magic involved.
"Is that it?" Ginny asked, her irritation from earlier dissipating despite herself. She shouldn't have been appeased by her favorite chocolates or a beautiful flower. This wasn't about buying Ginny's affection. And yet… it was a step, wasn't it?
"One more," the dwarf said, a harp materializing in his hands as he cleared his throat.
Ginny suppressed her groan.
"There once was a woman of fire,
who lit all of one man's desires.
And then he fucked up,
Now he wants to make up
With the woman that he so admires.
There once was a man of ice,
Who didn't know how to be nice.
But maybe one day
He'll learn the right way.
He hopes that this song will suffice… as an apology."
Ginny's lips quivered as a grin tried to break free. "Wow. That last line…"
"I did the best I could on short notice. Limericks are so confining." Malfoy leaned against the wall next to Ginny's door, and she wondered if he'd been there the whole time without her noticing.
She let herself smile. "I see that."
"Hurray," the dwarf said as he tossed a handful of paper confetti shaped like tiny hearts into the air. "I'm outta here. See you next year." He waved his fingers in a dismissal and hiked up his diaper as he disappeared down the corridor.
"You didn't have to do this," Ginny said, in reference to the box of chocolates and the rose in her hands.
"Oh, I most certainly did. I've been a git to you because I thought that's what you wanted me to be."
"Why would anyone want that?"
Malfoy shrugged. "I've tried befriending you before. You never seemed interested."
"When? When did you possibly try to befriend me?"
"I offered to help you move your belongings in after you got Hooch's position—"
"You insinuated that my rooms here were larger than my parents' entire house."
"I've invited you to Hogsmeade on more than one occasion, and I've asked to join your table in the Three Broomsticks—"
"You called me pathetic for going to Hogsmeade alone."
"I've sent Dobby up to your room with soup when you've been sick—"
"You—wait, you what?"
Malfoy shrugged. "When you didn't seem interested, I left you alone. And then I figured you preferred the old fights from our days at Hogwarts, so I threw bad insults at you instead."
"Malfoy, none of those things were done in a nice way, and I didn't even know about the mysterious soup until now. How was I supposed to understand you wanted to be friends?"
He frowned as he considered her question. "Well, damn."
Malfoy had been teaching at Hogwarts at least two years longer than Ginny. When she'd arrived, she'd been surprised to find him a member of the staff. What had been even more incomprehensible to her were the close relationships he'd developed with the rest of the staff. As he'd insulted and teased her, she hadn't been able to figure out how Minerva could laugh at one of his jokes (though she always tried to hide her laughter immediately with a stern expression) or why Filius willingly took tea with him on the weekends. His relationship with Pomona had been understandable. As the Herbology teacher and caretaker of the greenhouses, she supplied the Potions instructor, Malfoy, with ingredients for his lessons, but why did they chat at dinner like old friends?
There must have been something there, something decent in him that they had seen and Ginny hadn't. Or maybe they had just accepted him for who he was, which Ginny had never been able to do.
Her brain whirred as she checked her memories and her biases, several long moments passing as she examined his behavior and her own over the past few years. Malfoy just stood there waiting for her to speak, which she finally did.
"I think I had wanted that at first," she said slowly. "You know, to argue with you like we had back at school, as if nothing had changed. My career had just ended, my relationship with Harry had long been over. When I came here, I needed you to be familiar, because it was easier to despise you because of an old prejudice than accept that nothing in my life was ever going to be the same.
"And," she continued thoughtfully, "I think I did like our fights to a certain point. That point expired in the bedroom, though."
A comfortable flush warmed her, just underneath her skin, settling in like a secondary layer. It took a moment for her to recognize her own satisfaction at accepting a truth she'd long been denying. She liked Malfoy. She liked the attention he gave her, their interactions throughout the day, their arguments, which in the last couple years had lacked heat and animosity and had become another something familiar. She liked betting on Quidditch matches with him (though as the referee for the matches, she never bet money; instead they'd gambled with books and drinks at the Three Broomsticks and bragging rights). She liked competing one-on-one with him on the Quidditch pitch. She liked the way he smiled and laughed and smirked, and how he made others smile around him, even when they knew they shouldn't (his jokes were really, really bad).
Several months ago, she had thought she could use his body for her own pleasure without guilt or affection, but their evolved relationship had only made her realize that she wanted more.
Malfoy held out his arm in a gallant gesture. "May I accompany you to dinner?"
Her heart thudded in her chest. Six years. He wasn't romantic and he barely knew how to be nice. Maybe six years was long enough to pretend to hold a grudge.
Ginny deposited her gifts on the entrance table in her room and locked the door behind her before she tucked her hand in the crook of his elbow.
Neither of them could contain their smiles as they departed for dinner.
Author's Note: According to Know Your Meme, "no fucks left to give" and its variants became popular around 2009-2011, so it is Valentine's Day 2009 in this story. ;D