Title: Happy Valentine's Day, Loser!
Summery: Valentine's Day starts out bad for Ginny Weasley. First she has to help her brother and Hermione plan their wedding while in the throes of a dreadful hangover. But when Draco Malfoy shows up, will he make the day worthwhile?
Warning: I had a lot of trouble writing this story. I apologize if the mood seems jumpy and, at times, out of place. At this point I just hope someone likes it! Also…the Malfoys are OUT OF CHARACTER! Way, way OOC!
A bit late, but enjoy!
Ginny Weasley carefully threaded her way through Diagon Alley, making for The Leaky Cauldron. She was to meet Ron and Hermione there for breakfast, and to discuss the final plans for their wedding. She actually wasn't in the mood for it, as she had partied a little too vigorously the night before. But she'd promised and, as Hermione had been quick to remind her, a promise was a promise.
"Those are my principles," she'd sniffed a tad huffily as she'd spoken to Ginny from the fireplace, "if you don't like them, I have others!"
So much for family always understanding. Ginny sighed and adjusted her sunglasses, trying not to wince in the bright morning sunshine. As she turned the corner and caught sight of the inn she nearly bumped into a tiny, wizened wizard who was arguing loudly with a tiny, wizened witch.
"Oh really woman, how can you say this one's better? They're the same!" the little man yelled. The wrinkly old woman glared with rheumy eyes at the man. They were standing in front of a street vendor who was selling collapsible cauldrons, and apparently weren't in agreement on which one to get. Ginny, who was trying to move around them since they were blocking the sidewalk, smiled stiffly when the little woman glared towards her.
"What are you doing, girl? Use the street!" she snapped when Ginny's purse bumped her.
"I'm sorry ma'am, but the street is just as crowded. Perhaps you and your gentleman could take your argument elsewhere, then there would be more room."
"How rude!" the little man roared, quite impressive for someone his size, actually, "Why are you Brits so damn rude to us? We spend money here too, you know…"
Ginny had continued wriggling past the couple and now walked very quickly away from them. Bloody tourists! And they had the nerve to call everyone else rude when they couldn't even be bothered to allow people to share the sidewalk with them? To top it off, high summer would be here before she knew it and Ginny knew there would be more of them, from all over, making Diagon Alley insufferably crowded.
"Why do they call it tourist season if we can't shoot at them?" she mumbled darkly, finally reaching the Leaky Cauldron's entrance.
Once inside Ginny sighed with relief at the relative darkness. She began to take off her sunglasses, but then spotted Hermione and Ron waving frantically at her from a table that was right next to a window. A very sunny window.
"Blast!" she mumbled through a gritted toothed smile. Waving back, she walked slowly over to minimize the sun's damaging effects on her whole being.
"Good morning!" Hermione smiled happily, "I'm so glad you could make it."
"Did I have a choice?" Ginny smiled, stooping to hug her soon-to-be sister in law.
"Sure you did," Ron laughed, standing to hug Ginny as well, "but then you'd never live it down!"
"Ron!" Hermione glared playfully, then turned back to Ginny as she sat down, "I know this wasn't the best time for you, but we did arrange this. It's not my fault you went out and got yourself plastered last night!"
"I know Herm," Ginny smiled wryly, "but you two aren't the only valentines in the world. I had a hot date! Unfortunately he stood me up. Again."
"What?" Hermione gasped, looking quickly at Ron, whose ears turned two shades of red.
"That bloody arse," he growled, "what was it this time? A 'meeting', or did he come up with something more original?"
"I've no idea. I told off his answering machine from the Pub and broke it off with him. Then I called Blaise and Adrien to see if they were in the mood to celebrate my new found freedom. They were." Ginny replied matter of factly.
"I'm so sorry Ginny," Hermione said softly, grabbing Ginny's hand and squeezing gently.
"This might surprise you, but I'm not." Ginny replied seriously, "I loved Seamus, I really did. But we were still young when we got together. Now we've grown up and found careers and…we're not the same people we were. That's not a bad thing, that's life. And sometimes in life you lose things that were once important to you, only you find that they don't mean what they once did."
Ron shook his head, "Well sis, seems like you got over him before you broke up with him."
Ginny nodded and smiled, "Yeah, I guess I did."
Hermione sighed, looking meaningfully at Ron, "I hate this though. I really like to think love is infinite."
"Only two things are infinite," a familiar voice drawled quite suddenly, making them all jump, "the universe and human stupidity. I'm not sure about the former."
Ron scowled and looked up into the smirking face of-
"Draco Malfoy," he said dryly, "What a surprise."
"But a pleasant one," Draco replied with a grin, taking the empty chair across from Ginny without waiting for an invitation. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Well what brings you here? Need a new House Elf? I hear they can never wait to piss you off enough to fire them!" she smirked.
"Hermione, such cruel sarcasm from you is just wrong!" Draco mock frowned, throwing his legs out in front of him and leaning back in his chair carelessly, his black robes emphasizing his blond good looks, and the sunlight shining so brightly in his hair it formed a halo. The irony, Ginny thought, looking away quickly. She'd always found Draco to be a sexy bastard, but his ego grated her nerves terribly, and she was sure any sort of relationship with him would end in homicide. Well, there had been that one time…
Shut up, she told herself firmly.
"What can we help you with, Malfoy? My fiancé and I have a wedding to plan and you're wasting our valuable time," Ron growled.
"It can't be that valuable if you're planning it in The Leaky Cauldron," Draco retorted with a smirk, causing Hermione to glare. That is, until Draco winked at her and grinned impishly, causing her lips to quirk.
"Oh look, Ronnikins has turned that sweet shade of tomato!" he added, "Don't be upset love, it'll make your ears combust."
At this, both Ginny and Hermione burst into giggles.
"You're impossible!" Ginny laughed.
"No," Draco replied, "just highly unlikely."
That made even Ron smile and shake his head, "Bloody hell Malfoy, is there anyone who's ever stayed hacked off at you?"
"No one can," he drawled lazily, "I'm irresistible!"
At this Hermione began to laugh louder, in an exaggerated fashion.
"Irresistible, did you say?" she hooted, "I don't think so, as I found you quite easy to repel!"
Draco screwed up his face. "Only because you used your wand," he sniffed.
"And because my charm and good looks were irrisistable," Ron added smugly.
Ever since the war, when Draco had turned on his Master, Voldemort, things between him and his best enemies had changed dramatically. Well, turned on isn't exactly right. More like he was a spy the entire time and so was his…
"There you are, Draco!" Lucius Malfoy strode over to the small table, his face set in a small frown as he looked at his son. Hermione's face lit up, and she jumped to her feet.
"Mr. Malfoy," she cried gladly, hugging him as soon as he was close enough. Lucius's frown turned instantly to a smile.
"Hello, my dear," he said, kissing her cheek and hugging her back. Ron stood and shook the elder Malfoy's hand.
"Good to see you sir," he said with a grin.
"Lucius, call me Lucius, Ron. How many times will I have to tell you that?"
Ron blushed, "Sorry Lucius."
The next moment Ron was shoved aside as Ginny threw her arms around Lucius's neck. "Oh it's so good to see you, how are you and the missus?" she cried, making the older man laugh delightedly.
Yes, Lucius Malfoy, second in command to Voldemort, most powerful of all the Death Eaters, and the cruelest (not to mention the richest), had in fact been a spy the entire time. Only four people had known, and that had been Dumbledore, Snape, Draco, and Lucius's wife, Narcissa. It had been a great shock to everyone, especially the Trio. Draco'd had to grow up knowing everything so he'd understand what evil was, and why his father chose to fight it from the inside. And of course, by being honest with their son from the beginning, they'd avoided that sticky possibility of Draco actually coming to like and choose evil.
But when the time had come Draco had actually been quite pleased not only to drop the "evil git" act, but to shock the Golden Trio. Especially Potter. Oh the pleasure of watching them twist with frustration, not wanting to believe that a Malfoy could be on their side, yet having no choice because Dumbledore had spoken, and they always obeyed and trusted the Headmaster's judgment. Remembering Ron's fury in particular still brought a smile to Draco's face. He might have been good at heart, but Draco truly had found the three of them annoying, to the pleasure of his Potions professor.
"Ah, Mr. Malfoy," Snape had said with a nasty grin, "it's so good to know that you've perfected the fine art of mental torture. I believe the Wonder Triplets are having aneurysms right now!"
No, he wasn't a golden do gooder, not by any means. A Malfoy by any other name would still be a Malfoy, he thought in amusement. Draco rather enjoyed being an enigmatic arse on the outside, as it afforded him the freedom to laugh at everything. Laughter was something he hadn't been able to indulge much in his early life, and he intended to drown in it now that he was free to be himself.
He looked discreetly at Ginny. Being in "disguise" had cost him plenty already.
Hermione's and the Weasleys affection for the elder Malfoy had blossomed rather quickly after the war when he'd sponsored Ron and Ginny for University educations, and then forwarded Ron's name to the British Professional Quidditch League. Ron's career as a Chaser, first with the Chudley Cannons, and now with Puddlemere United, had all been thanks to Lucius Malfoy, and Hermione had never forgotten that. Neither had Ron, for that matter.
"Thank you, my dear, but I came to collect my son," Lucius was saying, turning back to Draco and frowning again, "He's attempting to escape a shopping trip with his mother and me!"
"Father please," Draco sighed, "I'm old enough to dress myself, you know."
"I'm sure you do, Draco, but this is for your mother's benefit. She likes doing things for you, and you're disappointing her by being childish about this!" Lucius unmercifully poured on the guilt.
Well, he hadn't been an effective Death Eater by just being rich!
"I'm sorry father, I'm just afraid she'll try to shove something hideous on me. Remember that sweater she bought me last year?" Draco arched his eyebrows, and Lucius turned away quickly, obviously trying not to laugh.
"Well, it was cashmere, at least," the elder Malfoy said placatingly, though his lips quirked. Draco made a face.
"Cashmere is fine, but not when it has little hearts embroidered on it!"
"What?" Hermione blurted while Ginny and Ron burst out laughing.
"Ah yes, well..as to that…" Lucius groped for something wise to say.
"Were they little red hearts?" Ron chortled, causing Draco to scowl openly.
"They were silver! It was a black sweater, dolt!"
"Poor Draco!" Ginny hooted, her face going almost as red as her hair as a sound that suspiciously resembled a snort issued from Draco's father. When the younger Malfoy turned to scowl at his sire, Lucius raised his hands in surrender.
"I'm sorry, son. But if you'd like you can take this up with your mother, she's waiting for us outside."
Ginny craned her neck towards the door, "Why didn't she come in?"
She's allergic to redheads, Draco wanted to say, but didn't. Actually, this particular redhead was looking rather scrumptious. He eyed Ginny discreetly for a moment, admiring the flaming curls that fell over her shoulders and the sweet dusting of golden freckles across her face. Her slender beauty had always entranced him, but not nearly as much as her sharp wit and flashing eyes. At the moment, though, her wit had sliced him a bit, so he wasn't feeling too generous.
"Oh..well…she doesn't like the dusty atmosphere of most Pubs." Lucius seemed to be blushing, which Hermione found rather interesting. Sometimes she still couldn't believe these were the same people who'd insulted her time and again in her childhood.
"Father, can't you argue my case? Tell her I'm sick, or something." Draco pleaded.
"Draco, there are two theories to arguing with women, and neither one works! Now you come with me now, or—blast!" Lucius had been looking around as he spoke to his son, and suddenly caught sight of his wife.
"Too late, she's come in," he sighed, "I'll just let you explain what happened…"
The group looked over and saw the third Malfoy making her way delicately over to them. Narcissa Malfoy was wearing stunning blue robes that complimented her porcelain skin and light blonde hair, which was gathered elegantly atop her head. At the moment, however, she looked less than elegant as she pressed a voluminous sleeve to her face.
"Oh, the dust in this place," she said faintly as the group stood to welcome her, "how do you children stand it? Hello my dear." she said as she pressed a kiss first to Hermione's cheek, then Ginny's, then hugging Ron (who happened to be her favorite of her son's friends) tightly. Ron insisted she take his seat, and she sat gratefully before turning a disapproving glare on her progeny.
"Draco, what is this nonsense? Your father and I were speaking to you, and what do you think happened?"
"Let me guess," Draco replied flatly.
"We turned around and found you gone, that's what happened!" Narcissa berated him in her soft but crisp voice, "Imagine how I felt when I realized I'd been talking to myself all that time!"
"Mother," Draco began patiently, but was cut off with a sweeping gesture from her.
"No excuses, Draco! I'll not have you acting in this manner to me!" Narcissa glowered dramatically.
Well, she is a very rich woman, which entitles her to Official Membership in The Snobby Rich Wives Club.
Draco sighed imperceptibly and turned earnestly to his mother, "All right mum, I apologize for running off. I was just thinking…well, never mind. Where would you like to go?"
Ginny was almost beside herself trying to repress her laughter. She absolutely loved the Malfoys! They were the funniest family she knew, even more so than the quirky Weasley clan and that was definitely saying something. Narcissa pursed her finely painted pink lips and narrowed her eyes at her progeny.
"Oh, never mind boy," she sighed, "I know you don't want to, and that rather takes the fun out of it! Let's go home Lucius."
"Oh no, don't leave!" Hermione protested, shooting a glare at Draco.
But Narcissa laughed, "Don't be angry at my son, my dear, as he's actually done me a favor. I am feeling rather tired at the moment. Some rest will do me good. Or perhaps some lunch."
"An egg salad perhaps, my dearest?" Lucius asked warmly, "You've been quite mad for them recently."
Draco looked over at his friends with an amused twinkle in his eye, "Mum's gone vegetarian. She's picked up a love of small animals."
Narcissa once again threw her son a nasty look. "I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals, Draco," she sniffed, "I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants!"
That sent up more laughter as the group took their leave of the elder Malfoys.
"I recommend a visit to Florean Fortiscue's to brighten your day, love." Narcissa said to Ginny as they hugged, "I notice you look quite pale, but there's no problem a bit of sweet ice cream can't solve, or so I've found."
Ginny laughed, "Ice cream is exquisite, what a pity it isn't illegal!"
"I've thought that myself a time or two," Narcissa agreed with a wicked smile. After hugging Ron and Hermione, the elder Malfoys made their way out, Narcissa complaining of the dust the whole way.
After their departure, Draco turned to the group with a wide smile, "So, what shall we do? Plan on flowers, or order several dozen tackily embroidered napkins? I'm open to suggestions."
"Not with that attitude," Hermione snapped.
"Hermione, please," Draco smiled silkily, "I'm only trying to help. Calculating the amount of wedding things that will be needed is something I'm a bit new at, though. But there's no need to worry."
"Worry about what?" a new voice asked. A voice which made Draco's expression twist as if he'd just taken a bite out of a lemon.
"Harry!" Hermione leaped from her chair and ran to hug Harry Potter. Another round of hugs ensued, and Draco was beginning to think that maybe February should be outlawed.
When they were all seated, and had ordered a round of drinks, Draco turned to Harry and asked;
"So, how are things at the Ministry? Fairly quiet with no more bad men to kill, I'd wager. But I'm sure it can't be all fun and games."
Harry laughed with Draco, but didn't miss his old rival's sarcasm, "It's all fun and games till someone loses an eye. Then it's just a game. Find the eye."
"Ha ha," Draco smirked, "Planning on being at the Zambini's Ball?"
"Yes," Harry replied with a smile, "Sara can't wait to go."
"How is she?" Ginny asked warmly, remembering the pretty, blonde Muggle girl Harry had introduced her to when she'd last run into them.
"Yes, and does this mean you've told her?" Ron asked eagerly. He and Hermione had yet to meet Sara, but they'd been hearing a lot about her and were wondering if Harry would ever get around to introducing her to his life.
"Well, I've told her some, and she's had a hard time believing me. She thought I was using drugs to make her hallucinate when I showed her how I can transfigure things, can you believe it?" Harry laughed.
"Why not just hex her? That'll prove a lot." Draco smiled innocently, causing Harry to make a face.
"Nice idea, Malfoy, and so typically you. Rude and forceful." Ginny glared.
"Why thank you dear, though I assure you flattery will get you no where." not strictly true, but no need for her to know that. Ginny snorted with disgust.
"Oh, I don't know," she replied nastily, "I hear it can get quite a bit out of you. All a girl has to do is say you're magnificent without laughing too hard."
Draco rolled his eyes, "Women, can't live with them, can't bury them in the backyard without the neighbors seeing."
"Enough of this," Hermione glared as well, causing Draco to relent despite the fact that Harry and Ron looked ready to burst into giggles. Normally, this was a challenge Draco couldn't resist; seeing how fast he could completely break them. Of course, it usually got them into trouble with the ladies.
"Who are you taking to the Zambini's Ball, Draco," Ron asked curiously.
The Zambinis held a Valentine's Ball every February, and for the reader's info, all present had been invited.
"Oh, I don't know," Draco shrugged his sleek shoulders, "I don't have a valentine to speak of, really."
"No, he doesn't have a valentine," Ginny snorted, "He has about forty or so. It must be terrible trying to decide who you're going to shag on any night of the week."
"Hmm," Draco smirked, "she had lost the art of conversation, but not, unfortunately, the power of speech."
"You two are like a pair of ducks, do you know that?" Harry grinned, "Quack, quack, quack!"
"Speaking of losing the power of speech," Ginny scowled at Harry.
The waitress arrived the next moment with their drinks, and Ginny stared at Draco's steaming cup. They were the only two that had ordered coffee, which probably meant they were the only two who had hangovers.
"Which did you get? I got the Double Chocolate Latte." She asked.
"Cinnamon Cappuccino," he replied, blowing on it.
Ginny took a cautious sip of hers, and nearly scalded her tongue. Turning to Harry, she took a spoon and stole an ice cube from his glass the moment he set it down, plopping it in her Latte.
"You probably need some ice for yours too," she said to Draco.
"No," he replied with a grin, "I like my coffee like I like my women."
"Hot?" Hermione's lips twisted.
"In a plastic cup," he winked, causing Ron and Harry to cover their mouths and try not to guffaw. Almost, Draco thought in amusement, until he saw the ladies glaring. They all three went quiet.
"All right," Draco said after a moment, "you're planning a wedding. What have you got so far?"
Ron took out a list and shot Draco a look, "Don't feel obligated to stick around."
"He wouldn't miss it for the world," Harry said flatly before Draco could respond.
"Goodness, am I getting predictable?" Draco asked worriedly.
"Yes," all four replied in unison.
Draco frowned, "That's bad!"
An hour later, after Draco had listened with amusement as they'd argued over fresh flowers versus plastic (cheaper), and the color of the bridesmaids dresses (lilac), and whether or not the reception hall could fit the entire Weasley clan (all husbands with spouses and accompanying children), their list was complete, and Ron's ears were only slightly red. Draco figured now was a good time…
"I think this is for the two of you," Draco said in obvious mock astonishment as he pulled an envelope out of an inner pocket of his robes.
"What's this," Ron asked suspiciously, taking the envelope and examining it. Draco smiled and arched his eyebrows at Ginny. She narrowed her eyes suspiciously, but couldn't help the smile that came to her face. Draco could be a bastard, yes, but…
"Oh my god," Ron exclaimed, "two tickets…to the French Riviera!"
Hermione turned to Draco with wide eyes, Harry's jaw dropped, and Ginny's smile grew tenfold.
"Happy Honeymooning," Draco smiled serenely as he rose, "The Riviera is bloody romantic, and I thought you might like to see it whilst sealing your vows."
With a small and impish wave, he turned to go, but didn't get far before he was engulfed in hugs and thanks. Ron reached him first and lifted Draco off of his feet.
"You great fiend, why didn't you say something?" Ron yelled happily, hugging him hard.
"This is the most wonderful….thank you Draco!" Hermione wept, hugging him as soon as her fiancé released him. Ginny claimed him next, saying nothing, just holding him close and feeling that all the rotten thoughts she'd ever had about him were completely unjustified. Draco grinned at them all, blushing as Ginny continued to hold him tightly. Harry shook his hand with a smile, shaking his head.
"Does this mean you're happy too?" Draco asked in what he hoped was an amused voice.
"Yes," she replied, releasing him and looking up at him with a smile, "thank you, Draco."
Draco turned away from her strong, steady gaze. "It wasn't anything, really." He mumbled.
"It was something that made them happy, and so I thank you." Ginny repeated.
"We have to go," Hermione suddenly said urgently, looking at her watch, "Ron, we're due at the church in ten minutes!"
"Bloody hell," Ron scowled, "First this, then that! See everyone tomorrow at mum's!"
Moments later they Disapperated with a soft pop.
"That reminds me, I have to meet Sara for brunch," Harry frowned at his watch as well, "I'll see you two later." And then he, too, was gone.
"Well, please and thank you!" Ginny said a tad huffily. Draco laughed.
"I'm sure it's nothing personal," he soothed, "they're all trying to balance things, and Harry dating a Muggle complicates his life a bit more than usual."
"I know that," she glared, "but shouldn't they have to suffer too for yanking me out of bed after a night of binge drinking?"
Draco laughed, "I think dashing off here and there is definitely a good revenge to wish for. On your brother, in any case."
Ginny smiled up at him, then grew a bit serious, "Well, I just wish…I miss just hanging around together, all of us."
"Breaking up has that effect, I've found," Draco said softly, looking at Ginny's face. She had always been beautiful, but there was a sadness in her eyes that somehow increased her appeal at that moment.
Ginny looked at him, then away as she sat down again, "I've broken up with him before, but somehow…I don't know. I wanted so much to have faith in our relationship. And I knew from the first time that it was no good, we had already started growing apart."
"Alright," he said awkwardly, sitting on the table and placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, "so you chose to have faith. That's good, isn't it?"
"I think it would have been better if I'd learned from my mistakes." she replied gloomily.
"Ah yes, experience," Draco smiled lazily, "that marvelous thing that allows you to recognize a mistake when you make it again." he shook his head, "Look at it this way, you could have done nothing at all,"
"The trouble with doing nothing is you never know when you're finished, or so I've heard," she looked at him, smiling slightly as she quoted one of his favorite sayings.
"True," he replied, "so we already know you're a smart girl for calling up Blaise and Adrian, and getting pickled out of your gourd."
"Don't remind me," she giggled, touching her forehead, "I'm still suffering sensitivity to light, and my headache isn't completely gone."
"Ah, but the lessons we learn are all too useful for future reference." Draco grinned.
"Or did you mean 'experience is that marvelous thing that allows you to recognize a mistake when you make it again'?" she asked, finally laughing.
"I think that should be my new motto," he cocked his head, pretending to consider that, which made Ginny laugh harder. He liked it when Ginny laughed.
"Want to go for a walk?" Draco asked suddenly, making Ginny start.
"Oh, certainly. I'd love to," she replied, trying not to blush.
Remember, egotistical, self absorbed arse head! she told herself firmly as she gathered her purse and sunglasses. They quickly walked into the bright sunshine and bustle of Diagon Alley.
"So, who do you have in mind for the Zambini's ball?" Ginny asked with a knowing smile, just to get a conversation started.
Draco laughed heartily, "Is it so difficult to believe me when I say no one? I can't think of anyone I'd like to take, and I'm actually thinking of skipping it this year."
"What?" Ginny gasped, throwing her hand out dramatically, "England's most eligible bachelor skip one of the biggest events on the Single's scene? Oh, the horror! I can hear hearts breaking all over London's High Society!"
"Give it a rest, Weasley," he tried to frown, but Ginny's wide, teasing smile made him want to grin like an idiot. How long had he felt this way?
How long was he going to continue to ignore it?
"Oh look," Ginny stopped in front of Madam Malkins. The front window included a small display of infant clothing, including tiny robes in pink, green, and blue, blankets, and shoes. Ginny smiled warmly, leaning close to get a better look at a pink blanket embroidered with little ducks.
"There are some days when I can't wait to have children." She sighed.
Draco smirked at her back. "I like children," then added in an undertone, "fried!" Ginny shot up and smacked his arm.
"Beast!" she was caught between outrage and laughter, which gave her eyes an intense sparkle. Draco felt as if he were falling into them, and looked quickly away as his heart pounded.
"Peace, my dear, I meant no harm!"
Ginny lost the battle to keep from laughing, "Honestly, what makes you such an insensitive git?"
"Insensitive? I'm very sensitive, I'll have you know," he gave her a lewd smile, "or so my acquaintances tell me."
"I'm sure," Ginny replied dryly, lips twisting along with her heart. She didn't really have the right to be sensitive about the subject, they weren't in a relationship.
Why not? A voice asked.
Oh, not good! "Don't you believe in love Malfoy?" she asked forcefully, determined to remind herself why anything with him was doomed to failure, "I mean, sex without love is an empty experience."
"True, sex without love is an empty experience. But as empty experiences go, it's a pretty good one." He replied with a roguish grin, making her heart thump.
"Honestly," she said again, rolling her eyes, "Don't you realize how you're trapping yourself? You're twenty five and still alone! What is so attractive about the single life that you're so bloody happy with it?"
She hoped he would make an infuriating reply, and therefore increase the gulf she imagined existed between them. She almost got her wish;
"Love is the answer," he said seriously, "but while we're waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions."
Ginny laughed aloud, she couldn't help it. Draco Malfoy was an infuriating egotist, but she could never stay angry with him.
"Well, I can say I know that from experience," she said evenly, still smiling as she looked him straight in the eye, "Can't I?"
Draco stumbled just slightly, but quickly regained his footing. He said nothing, however.
Why did I bring that up, she wondered, confused. Fortunately he distracted her by pointing out a vendor selling love potions. They had a good laugh over it.
They walked all over Diagon Alley, then Apparated to Hogsmeade on a whim for lunch. While there Ginny bought a heart charm and necklace for her mother as a Valentine's Day gift. Draco purchased something as well, but she didn't see what it was. When she asked him, he smiled as they walked out of the shop.
"You inspired me," he replied, "just a little something for mum. I hope she likes it."
"Well, may I see it?" Ginny asked impatiently.
"I'd rather wait for her to see them first," he said, looking away and blushing slightly, "I don't know why, it just seems important."
Ginny frowned, but accepted his reply, "Well, what do you want to do next, then?"
Draco turned to her with a strange smile, "Let's go to the lake."
"To Hogwarts?" she asked, surprised.
"Why not?" he laughed, "It's not that far, really. We could rent a carriage to take us. Maybe we could see inside the place to."
Ginny didn't know what to say. It actually sounded…romantic. After all, it was at the Lake, during her sixth year, that…
She blushed and nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
An hour later they were on the far side of the Lake, and could see Hogwarts in the distance. Ginny dismounted carefully from the carriage, never having gotten over falling out of one and breaking her leg while in school. The memory still made her blush. More so because she had fallen out while watching someone else get out of the next carriage over, instead of paying attention to herself.
She had been watching her companion, Draco.
He took her hand as she climbed down the tiny (far too tiny, to her mind) carriage steps. Once both feet were firmly on the ground she allowed herself to smile. He offered his arm and they walked over to the shore, Ginny suddenly grinning as she saw a tentacle from the giant squid lazily trace the surface of the water. How long since she'd been here? A flood of memories swam through her mind. Some were sweet, like the first time she'd kissed Seamus, and the first time she cast a summoning spell correctly. She and her best friend had danced with joy. And some were sad. Like the day she'd looked over and…
Her eyes drifted back to Draco. He was standing tall, staring over the water with a distant expression. Did he remember? The late afternoon sun was glinting in his hair, giving him that look of an ethereal halo about his head. So angelic in his beauty, yet there's been a time when she'd been convinced his heart was very black indeed…
Ginny was sitting beside the lake shore, watching the sun set and thinking of all the things she wanted to do with her life, and of all the time she'd wasted pining for the things she couldn't get. Harry was in his seventh year now, and in less than six months he would be gone. He was going to be an Auror, and join Cho Chang at the Ministry. Ginny had accepted that fact over the course of the summer, but on days like today, when everything seemed to go wrong, her worst pains would rear their ugly heads.
And today had been bad. First she'd failed her potions quiz and nearly killed her hamster, Mr. Noodles. Then she'd gotten into a row with Susan, her best friend, over a stupid barrette Susan claimed was hers and Ginny had never given back. And to top everything off, Ron had called her Spotty Face at dinner just now, sending Ginny over the edge and storming out of the Great Hall. Sooner or later someone was going to catch her out here and give her detention. She sighed. Could life get any worse?
"Well, what have we here? A junior Weasel," came a drawling voice.
Apparently, it could.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" she'd asked without turning. Just what she needed, another painful encounter! She shifted slightly, trying to remember how awful he was. The trouble is, a voice in her mind said, he's damn sexy and available too!
Too true. She'd spent a good deal of her time at Hogwarts being teased unmercifully by him. More than enough time to notice him as a fine specimen of maleness. He'd grown tall and sleek, his time as a Quidditch player giving him an athlete's grace and strength, his Malfoy upbringing giving him an air of wordly sophistication and arrogance. There were moments when, as she passed him in the corridors, she could feel an electric magnetism rolling off of him. She wasn't the only one either. Many girls, and not just Slytherins, paid him attention. Which, of course, made him even more arrogant.
And more irresistible.
"Just out for a walk, Weasley," he replied, shaking her out of her reverie, "and wondering what sent you scuttling out here. Must have been bad to make you risk detention."
She turned to him then, "What do you care? If I get detention then you can have another laugh and that'll be it. Doesn't that get boring after a while? Don't you have anything better to do?"
He knelt down next to her, his face hard. "There's an old saying; Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were," he leaned very close to her, "so why not just take your brother and go while you can?"
She felt her face flush and her heart pound, but not just with his nearness, "You don't bloody own Hogwarts, you fucking twit, so don't get high and mighty with ME!"
She stared into his steel grey eyes and smelled the slight peppermint scent of his cologne. His expression hardened further, his cheeks flushed red, and he seemed to struggle for calm.
"Have it your own way," he growled, "but don't say I didn't warn you."
"Warn me about what?" she snapped.
He smirked, "Do you know how red your face gets when you're angry?"
"Do you know how irritating you are?" she'd replied coldly, trying not give in to the urge to kiss him while he was so close, but refusing to be the one to back down.
But he beat her to it, suddenly rocking forward and pressing his lips to hers. Ginny had stilled in shock, unable to believe it was happening. When his hands had grabbed her shoulders, deepening their contact, she had melted, feeling waves of heat wash over her, her body suddenly coming alive. When his hands flowed down to her waist, she'd felt delicious shocks of pleasure prickle over her nerves, and she became aware of her secret places as never before. His mouth then left hers and trailed down to her neck, delicately flicking his tongue over her sensitive flesh and causing goose bumps to prickle her flesh.
So this was desire.
So many emotions rose up in her. Fear, lust, shock, and feeling them all together clouded her thinking. He had pulled her very close, so close that she was in his lap, and could feel his own desire. That sent her heart racing even faster than before, and something else came to the fore. Something she had known for a long time, but had willfully denied because he was always so cruel. Something…impossible.
"I love you," she whispered.
He stilled, grabbing her shoulders and pulling her in front of him.
"What did you say?" he hissed.
Ginny had stared at him, not knowing what to answer because she couldn't believe she'd said it. She didn't know which was worse, having said it aloud or realizing it was true.
She was spared having to reply, however, when his mouth came back down on hers in a crushingly intense kiss. There was a sudden urgency in him, and it spilled over into her as he began fumbling with her robes, his hands seeking every curve of her body.
They made love under the starry sky, her first experience but obviously not his. It had confirmed every feeling she'd ever denied for him, and her heart felt both full and wrung. As she lay across his chest afterwards, absorbing his scent, the feel of his body, and the smoothness of his skin, she said it again.
He abruptly threw her off and began pulling his clothes on. Ginny had stared for a moment in shock, unable to comprehend the sudden change of his mood.
"What…are you doing?" she'd asked in a small voice, fear suddenly blooming in her chest.
"Wake up from your fairy tale dreams, Weasel," he growled as he stood to pull his pants on, "this was a right bit of fun, but nothing more. Your head's full of crap if you think I'd date a Weasley!"
Ginny had stared at him, feeling numbness spread from her heart slowly outwards, until she could barely feel herself.
"What?" she asked woodenly.
He threw his robe on, balling his shirt and tie up to carry. Turning to her one last time, his expression was colder than ice, and more distant than the moon.
"Thanks," he smirked, and walked away.
Ginny felt a wetness on her face. Raising her hand, she felt the tracks of tears criss crossing her cheeks. The wind blowing off the lake was cold, and she shivered as it whipped around her.
"Eight years ago today," she said, then turned once again to look at Draco. His expression remained distant, and she was about to repeat herself when he spoke.
"I'm so sorry, Virginia," he said softly.
So he did remember.
"Why?" she asked simply. He smiled humorlessly, then turned to look at her. For the first time since knowing him she saw pain in his eyes.
"I couldn't be with you then, Ginny," he shook his head, staring intently into her eyes, "I was still in hiding, so to speak. I couldn't risk doing anything that would expose me or my father before the time was right."
He closed his eyes and looked down, and she waited for him to continue. There was more, she knew, because Draco never spilled everything at once.
"I shouldn't have…taken advantage of you like that. I knew better, but…" he opened his eyes and looked at her again, smiling slightly, "you were always so beautiful, so full of fire. When you ran out here that night…"
"Hell Ginny, didn't you ever wonder why I went looking for you, actually chased you around, just to tease you?"
Ginny blinked in surprise, honestly taken aback. "Er…well, no I didn't. I just thought you were an arse."
He was silent for several moments, just letting her think, and remember. She blushed as dim, small, but specific recollections drifted back to her. Draco suddenly appearing as she left Snape's class late one day, calling her a Weasel Tart. It had been a Tuesday, and he would have had to walk all the way from Herbology.
She remembered his next class would have been double Astronomy, because when she'd called him a Prancing Primadonna, he'd angrily gathered his books and snapped that he had star charts to study, and no time to waste on impoverished and classless fools. She blushed, suddenly remembering an incident during her fifth year as she'd watched the Gryffindor Quidditch team practice. Draco had suddenly appeared next to her, and they'd spent the next ten minutes trading insults, until Ron had noticed him there and flew over. Why would he have gone there, amidst several of his strongest enemies, without even Crabbe and Goyle, just to call her a sentimental Potter fangirl?
Her eyes refocused on him, taking in his windblown hair and pale, serious face.
"You hurt me," she accused.
"I know," he replied, not looking away this time, "I was wrong, and I wish I could make it right. But I'm not sorry."
That surprised her, and she wavered between anger and concurrence. The pain had been horrible, especially for a sixteen year old girl. But she'd had that memory, had kept it close for years.
"By the time everything came out you were already with Finnigan," Draco spoke again, his voice a tad harsh, "I'd lost my chance, and there wasn't much I could do but accept it."
He turned back towards the water, and she struggled to find something to say. You could make it right, we could make it right, we could do it now, she thought desperately, trying to find the right words to say it.
"Draco," she said finally, "stupidity got us into this mess, can't it get us out?"
A slow smile spread over his face, then his shoulders began to shake. Finally, he began to laugh.
"You're unbelievable, d'you know that?" he chortled.
Ginny laughed as well, "I learned from the biggest loser I know!"
His eyes widened, "Loser? Me? Just because you and everyone else thinks I'm a lazy Player doesn't mean it's true!"
Ginny laughed harder, "I know you work in your dad's business, your name actually comes up a lot in the trades. I was referring to your lost chances."
Ginny followed her instincts and allowed her arm to thread itself with his, pressing up against him as she looked earnestly into his face.
"What shall we do now, Mr. Malfoy?" she asked softly, her brown eyes wide and serious.
Draco stared at her, wondering if time was more forgiving than he'd originally thought. Putting his hand in a deep robe pocket, he pulled out the jewelry box containing his mother's gift.
"I lied," he said softly, "this is actually for you."
Her eyes widened more as she took the box with trembling hands. It was long, covered in black leather, and inlaid with mother of pearl. Opening it, she found an exquisite bracelet of gold encrusted with emeralds.
"Merlin's Beard!" she gasped, "Draco, I…I couldn't possibly…"
"It's for you," he said again, "don't you like it?"
"It's beautiful," she said softly, tears filling her eyes, "but…why?"
"Call it a bribe," he said, taking her hand and kissing it, "to convince you to give me another chance."
She smiled brilliantly at him, making his heart pound, "You don't need a bracelet for that!"
Putting her hands on either side of his face she pulled down for a deep, heartfelt kiss. It was here, a day she never thought she'd see, but had secretly and unconsciously hoped for since she was sixteen. The day Draco Malfoy gave her his heart, and became hers.
She felt his right hand stealing upwards, inching to her wrist, and—
She pulled away with a laugh, "No you don't! You might not have needed it, but I think I'll keep it anyway!"
"Ah, bless," he laughed as well, "she does have a greedy streak!"
"Yes, I do," she grinned, "and we'll start with your other paramours. Dump them!"
Draco laughed heartily, "Your wish is my command, vixen!"
"If you know what's good for you," she added.
He stopped laughing and looked deeply into her eyes, "I love you Ginny Weasley. I always have. Will you be my Valentine?"
Tears stung her eyes again, and she felt her entire world snap into place with an aching perfection.