This story was written for Charlie (Sw33tCh3rryP13) in The DG Forum Fic Exchange - Summer 2017 by a member of our forum. For more details, pease visit our page.


Friend:

Noun | \`frend\

a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter.

a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile.

Draco Malfoy

)*(*)*(

It had been Hermione Granger who had realized twice what was going on with Ginny Weasley before she had, though that came as no real surprise since Hermione always seemed to be the first person to figure anything out. Really, Ginny should've attempted to be more discreet with what was going on in her life that her family wasn't necessarily privy to.

But she hadn't been.

The first moment of realization Ginny was sure she would remember for the rest of her life, if only because she couldn't believe how incredibly oblivious she had been. She had planted a seed that promised chaos and confusion and allowed it to grow—not only that, but had nurtured it and grown rather fond of it.

But, really, one had go to the beginning to understand any of that.

)*(*)*(

Twenty-one years old and finally bumped from reserves, Ginny was officially a Chaser for the Tutshill Tornados. It had been hard work, to say the least. She had joined the team when she was twenty, having needed time after Hogwarts to get her head straight and figure out what exactly she wanted.

Though never playing a game that first year for the Tornados, she had been forced to deal with the heavy corruption of the coaches and owners. They were more involved with betting on their players than actually training them, resulting in multiple injuries and a lack of unity among the team. Thankfully, the Department of Magical Games and Sports realized what was going on before the season was up and, though the Tornados were fined heavily and not allowed to finish out their games, put an end to it. Harry had told her the whole situation reminded him of Ludo Bagman and his past gambling. Ron had informed her rather rudely that he always knew the Tornados were cheaters and their fans could all bugger off—though, of course, he hoped it would work out better for her in the upcoming season.

New coaches and owners replaced the corrupt ones. Players were traded. Ginny stayed and was officially promoted to Chaser. The influx of new players was something Ginny had looked forward to; she had never bonded with her old teammates and they hadn't won many games. Perhaps with the new players and staff the team would actually have a chance.

Her hopes were dashed right away.

With each new player that was picked up for the team, Ginny realized with dismay that almost all of them were foreign. Apparently none too many professional Quidditch players from England wanted to attach themselves to a team that only a year before had been slandered by the press as crooked and immoral; so the owners had looked outside of Britain. Only a few of the new players spoke English but seemed hard pressed to actively use it and, when they did, they only asked Ginny about Harry Potter.

Her only hope had been the Seeker position that had yet to be filled.

And, a week before training for the new season officially began, someone took up the spot. Ginny could still remember seeing him walk into the meeting room, lips set in a firm frown and eyes hard.

Draco Malfoy.

She had been baffled and angry. Him? The coaches chose him? Even if they ignored the fact that he had been only a subpar Seeker at Hogwarts, they couldn't be oblivious to the fact that he fought for Voldemort during the Final Battle. Rage built in her stomach to the point that she was sure she was either going to vomit or lash out. At the end of the meeting, one of the coaches took her aside to explain.

He had been the best candidate, plain and simple. And they didn't take bringing him on the team lightly. But didn't she want to win? Didn't she want the best of the best for the team?

And Ginny did. She wanted to win this season, to show everyone that there was talent on the team.

They didn't acknowledge each other for the first two weeks of training. Ginny had been firm in her stance that she would be utterly professional with him unless he provoked her. Even if she viewed him no higher than dung, she could at least put up a front of coolness. She didn't need to be his friend. But she did need to be his teammate.

Which was why it had been increasingly hard not to speak to him throughout training. Okay, yeah, he was a good Seeker. But Ginny had played that position for a handful of games at Hogwarts when Harry, George, and Fred had been kicked off the team (ironically, courtesy of Malfoy) and she saw him hesitating far too much in the air. It was annoying to watch and no one was willing to call him out on it.

And… if she was being honest with herself, it had more to do than that. All her teammates were interested in discussing with her was Harry and their relationship and his many achievements throughout his life. While Ginny was used to this while she was in public it was rather difficult to get used to at work. There was no rushing away from the questions like normal, no way she could fake a smile and ignore them, and very little hiding of the fact that she wanted to scratch out her eyes—or, preferably, theirs—when they spoke to her about him.

The only other person who actually knew Harry on the team was also the only other person who didn't want to talk about him.

She found herself ignoring the boundaries that she and Malfoy had put up the longer she was forced to endure her other teammates' questions. Though she never spoke to Malfoy, Ginny knew that he kept a steady eye on her and saw what was beginning to happen. Instead of sitting beside her other teammates, she went and sat closer to him. Rather than endure everyone's questions about Harry, she lingered by him, hoping they wouldn't venture near. It was the third time she sat down beside him at a meeting, though there was plenty of space between them, that he had gone rigid. Then, after the meeting was done and everyone had cleared out except for the both of them, he had threatened her to stay the fuck away from him.

It had been like a switch flipped inside of her, reminiscent of their school days together.

Her illusion of professionalism and coolness shattered. Whenever they were within arm's length of each other they were fighting. Admittedly, it was over the stupidest things. They both stayed away from the topic of the war, a silent agreement between them that Ginny hadn't realized they reached, but it left everything else free game. He mocked her for her fame that he hinted came only because of her relationship with Harry and she shouted about his flaws on the pitch. When Malfoy wondered out loud if her family was still living in a barn she retorted that his insults were lacking.

When they passed each other in the locker room, they fought. If they flew by each other on the Quidditch pitch, harsh words were exchanged. Team meetings consisted of them whispering jabs at each other from the corner of their mouths. While it was exhausting to fight all the time, it also strangely gave Ginny something to look forward to. Malfoy was familiar and sharp, keeping her on her toes whenever she was in his presence.

Ginny appreciated that, in some odd sense.

It wasn't till training was almost done, and the season was officially about to start, that the coaches approached them both and practically begged for some type of peace between them. They were teammates, the coaches insisted, and needed to start acting like it—after all, between the two of them, they carried the team. To be paired together with Malfoy like that had been startling to say the least.

They stopped fighting, sort of. Instead of fighting with each other, they bitched and moaned about everything else. They bickered about the ugly uniforms that were chosen for them. They debated about who was the worst player on the team (though Draco enjoyed this game much more than Ginny did). They shared looks across the room when the coaches offered half sincere compliments on a horrible game. When the Keeper missed an easy throw, they threw each other exasperated looks across the pitch.

The Tornados didn't make it close to the playoffs that year. Season done, Ginny and Malfoy didn't speak until several months later when trades began among the Quidditch league. Ginny signed onto another year with the Tornados, and curiosity got the better of her. Would Malfoy be signing on for another year too? The Tornados were far from good, but she had a certain loyalty to them. Did he also?

She knew most of the team had opted out of staying with the Tornados and that the coaches were looking for replacements. But she hadn't known about Malfoy's status. One night, after several glasses of wine and more than one glance at the blank rolls of parchment on her desk, Ginny sat down and wrote to Malfoy. It was simple and straight to the point.

Malfoy,

Joining the Tornados for another year?

G.

The next day, when she woke up from her stomach churning with too much wine, she saw on her window sill a lovely black owl waiting for her attention. A letter, short and simple like her own, was attached to its leg.

Weasley,

Desperate for my company?

He hadn't even signed it, bloody bastard. But it had been a confirmation for Ginny nonetheless. A few weeks later, when training started, Malfoy walked into the locker room, opened a locker beside Ginny, and unpacked his bag.

That had been almost two years ago.

It hadn't been till after her third season had ended, and Ginny was spending time with Hermione, that she realized the seed planted when Malfoy first joined the Tutshill Tornados had grown. And it had been, unsurprisingly, Hermione who pointed it out. They had been spending time at the Burrow together as Ron and Harry haunted a local pub. The four of them hardly hung out in a group anymore, ever since Harry and Ginny officially split, but they liked to keep up appearances for Molly and Arthur.

Ginny had been recounting a story about how Malfoy had been hit in the ribs by a Bludger, the force of which knocked him off his broom and into her, who happened to be flying beside him. She had barely caught him. Their combined weight, however, sent them both tumbling to the ground ten feet below. Giggles had been spilling from her lips before she could deliver the punchline of the story.

Hermione's head was tilted to the side, her eyes curious, before she interrupted Ginny.

"I hadn't realized how close you had both become."

The laughter died right away.

"Oh, no, Hermione, we're just…" Ginny paused. "Teammates. He's the only person on the team who's my—"

"Friend?"

It was with dawning horror that Ginny realized she was friends with Malfoy. They had been friends for almost a year before she had even realized. It had taken a whole night, and another bottle of wine, along with plenty of questioning her sanity, before she accepted the fact.

Ginny Weasley was friends with Draco Malfoy.

He had grown surprisingly more pleasant around her after the coaches yelled at them their first season together about getting along. They both enjoyed their back and forth banter. When he was being a baby, she called him out on it. And whenever she was being stubborn, he made fun of her for it. While they certainly made friendships with the new players who came on board the team—like Roger Davies and Angelina Johnson, who both went to Hogwarts with them—they still relied mostly on each other for entertainment.

And, as perplexing as it was, Ginny knew she honestly enjoyed Draco's friendship. He was unlike anyone else Ginny spent time with and there was something satisfying in that; she could always expect something new with him. Instead of trying to destroy the relationship growing between them, she left it be.

But, even after accepting the friendship, she could openly admit it was odd. For one thing, Hermione and Luna were the only two people that knew she was on remarkably good terms with someone she once despised. She also had been forced to reacquaint herself with several former Hogwarts students that she hadn't really wanted to; i.e. Blaise Zabini, Marcus Flint, and Pansy Parkinson. They were Draco's friends that he mentioned more and more as she spent time with him and she had run into them occasionally after games.

It had been during their third season playing for the Tornados, Ginny's fourth, that Hermione had once again pointed out something Ginny hadn't realized.

"You like him, don't you?"

The two women had been at a park with Rose, the baby having just grasped the concept of walking and liked large open spaces to roam, when Hermione said it. This time Ginny hadn't even been speaking about Malfoy, instead staring after her niece with a fond look in her eyes. Unsurprisingly, the question startled Ginny.

"What are you talking about?"

"Draco Malfoy," Hermione said. "You fancy him, don't you?"

Ginny wanted to laugh, really, but the question forced the idea into her head and she couldn't react at all.

"We're friends," was all she could say.

Hermione nodded.

"Yes, well, friendships often develop into something deeper. I'm rather surprised I hadn't thought of it before. It's been ages now that you and Harry have broken up. You haven't tried dating anyone. You keep Malfoy separated from the rest of your life. And you obviously enjoy spending time with him."

Ginny had wanted to fight what Hermione was saying, honestly. But she wasn't stupid. Throughout the season, Ginny had noticed her eyes wandering towards Malfoy whenever he was around. She couldn't help it! She'd have to be blind to not notice how fit his body was or the way the muscles of his arms stretched whenever he reached for the Snitch. And she was allowed to appreciate the fact that Malfoy looked delicious whenever they were done a training session and changing in the locker, sweat glistening on his chest as he strode towards the showers without a shirt on.

Okay, yeah, it wasn't only his body that she liked either. The sharp line of his jaw, the stormy gray of his eyes as he looked at her while she spoke, the way his lips twitched whenever he wanted to laugh at something she said but held back… Yes, she liked all of that too. It made warmth pool in her stomach unexpectedly and it hadn't taken Ginny long to diagnosis the issue.

She wanted to shag him.

But Ginny knew how to handle lust. She wasn't a barbarian! This wasn't the first man she found attractive and she doubted it would be the last. Instead of acting on her instincts, like she would have with, well, any other person, she settled for admiring him like she would a particularly beautiful piece of artwork in a museum; she could look but she couldn't touch.

Could it be possible, though? Had she somehow not noticed that her attraction for his very well sculpted body had mixed with her appreciation for his sharp tongue and humor? Ginny had been monitoring it so very closely too…

It didn't matter. After Hermione put the idea in her head, it wouldn't leave. Now, one season after Hermione observed Ginny's new feelings for Draco, Ginny was full blown fantasizing over the man she still called the amazing bouncing ferret. She wanted to curse Hermione over it, really, but she found no real anger to hold onto. Because Ginny had a peculiar feeling it would've happened either way, with or without Hermione's observation. And she rather liked fancying Draco, except for the fact that he was utterly oblivious to it.

Which, in itself, was both a curse and a blessing.

After all, he'd simply never like her back, a fact she had accepted long ago. Draco went for more sophisticated women whose legs weren't always scabbed and bruised, whose nails weren't ever chipped and never had dirt beneath them, and who didn't laugh obnoxiously at their own jokes. Ginny had seen him date several women over the years; she knew his type.

And if he were to somehow find out about her feelings for him, Ginny knew their friendship would crumble. Draco didn't seem to deal well with other people's emotions, more inclined to sit back and wait for the person to figure themselves out. Whenever Ginny was angry at something that had happened and she ranted to Draco about it he offered little advice, instead letting her talk till she could no longer. If he knew she fancied him, she pictured him disappearing into thin air and never coming back.

Their work relationship would be ruined, along with their personal relationship.

So she opted not to say or act on anything. She would contain her feelings, enjoy the view she got every time he took off his shirt in the locker room, and hope that someday soon another handsome, sarcastic, quick-witted man would come about. Until then, she could deal with it. After all, hadn't she done the same thing with Harry?

Which brought her back here—

"I swear, it's like talking to a wall when I speak to you sometimes."

Ginny looked up in surprise. She hadn't realized she had spaced out so hard until the familiar sharp voice broke through her thoughts.

Draco arched an eyebrow at her.

"Shut it," Ginny grumbled, once she recalled what he had said. "You don't say anything fascinating anyway."

She had been sitting outside of the locker room, sheltered from the light rain that had been falling all day, when her thoughts had trapped her. It didn't matter, really. Ginny always showered after practice fairly quickly and raced out of the locker room. Normally she'd head straight home, or if the rest of the team was grabbing drinks she'd venture off with them, but today had been a bit different.

Throughout practice, Draco had been noticeably absent in his thoughts. Though he could be hard to read sometimes, it was clear today that something was bothering him, to the point that the Snitch flew in front of his face three times and he hadn't caught it. Despite not being the best Seeker four years ago, he was quite good now so the lack of attention to his surroundings was unusual.

Ginny had initially assumed that it was because practices didn't really matter at the moment. Once again, for the fifth year in a row since Ginny joined the team, the Tutshill Tornados hadn't made the playoffs. While a select group of teams went on, competing for the League Cup, the Tornados were left on the sidelines to watch. The coaches and owners were particularly unhappy about this so they forced the team to do practices once every two weeks despite the fact that their season was over.

Everyone had better things to do but showed up to appease the higher ups.

It wasn't until the team had returned to the locker room and begun to change from their dirty gear, chatting idly to each other, that Ginny realized the pointless practice hadn't been the issue. Draco was still angry about something, the tug of his lips a telling sign. She showered quickly, grabbed her stuff, and opted to wait outside for him.

Without invitation, he took the empty spot beside her on the bench. She stretched her arms above her, enjoying the burn of her muscles, before grinning.

"Lovely job on those rounds, Malfoy," Ginny quipped. "Though I'm sure my Aunt Muriel would be faster on a broom than you."

When his head rolled towards her, a sneer dancing across his lips, her grin widened.

"You're hilarious," he deadpanned.

She eyed him, taking in his damp hair that he had combed back and the darkness of the skin beneath his eyes. Surprisingly, Draco didn't seem too rushed to leave her, despite the fact that he rarely ever stayed behind after practice. Extending his legs out in front of him, he released a slow breath.

"You're looking more miserable than normal today."

"Thank you for that," Draco grumbled, looking out towards the pitch instead of at her.

"I'm serious," Ginny said, biting her lip as she studied him. "I saw you during practice. You missed the Snitch in front of you a handful of times."

Draco continued staring ahead but his demeanor changed slightly.

"Watching me, were you?" he asked smugly.

Rolling her eyes, Ginny knocked elbows with him.

"Only because you were doing so horribly. I don't think you even noticed the Snitch in front of you the second time. Too busy bloody daydreaming."

Lifting her legs up, Ginny crossed them before resting her head in her hand. She stared at him even though he was purposely ignoring her. After years of studying at Hogwarts together and being forced in his company for Quidditch Ginny knew Draco liked attention on him. If she waited long enough, he would open up.

Like clockwork, he let out a dramatic sigh and locked eyes with her.

"I made a horrible decision," Draco said, running a hand through his hair.

Instead of keeping the hair in place, it made the strands stick up. Ginny held back a snort when she realized his resemblance to Harry in that moment. If she mentioned that, he'd never tell her what was wrong. He'd likely curse her.

"Go on," she prodded, biting at her thumbnail.

He scrunched his nose at the sight but decided to ignore her crudeness.

"I promised my mother I'd do something for her over the summer."

"Well, that's your own fault then. She is your mum, after all."

Draco waved a hand to silence her and she rolled her eyes.

"I hadn't thought we'd actually lose in the playoffs," Draco snapped. "I only told her I'd help her out because I assumed we'd be on our way to win the League Cup. If we had won I wouldn't have had the time to help her out. Instead we're doing futile practices here every week."

She couldn't deny that. If they had managed to get past the first round of playoffs, they wouldn't have had time for anything except eating, practicing, and sleeping.

"They planned on us losing. They planned on it. My God, my mother knows how to inspire confidence in me, doesn't she?" he asked sarcastically, throwing his hands up in the air.

Ginny raised her eyebrows. Always so dramatic. She wanted to continue letting him sulk but couldn't help pushing his buttons.

"If you had caught the Snitch faster we would've won."

He focused on her incredulously.

"If you hadn't dropped the Quaffle a dozen times, my catching the Snitch wouldn't have mattered so much, would it?" he retorted.

"Perhaps you should've stopped watching Weasley during the game and paid attention to your surroundings."

Draco and Ginny looked away from each other and saw that the rest of the team was beginning to file out of the locker room.

Angelina Johnson had her arms crossed over her chest as she peered down at them. He sneered at Angelina, reminding Ginny so fiercely of his eleven-year-old self that she had to glance away in fear that he would morph back into that brat of a boy right before her eyes.

"It's a bit distracting when the whole crowd is booing the Chasers of your team," Draco told Angelina pointedly.

He turned back to Ginny, eyebrows high on his forehead.

"See, Weasley, it's a team effort that we lost," Draco continued. "It's not just your fault. All of our Chasers are horrible."

"Yeah, a team effort," Roger Davies interrupted, stepping up beside Angelina. "Meaning you're just as much a part of this as anyone else, Malfoy."

"The game was almost a month ago," Lucian Boyle, one of their Beaters, added as he walked by. "Are we still fighting over why we lost? We lost because we're a terrible team, 's all."

"Hear, hear!" Angelina called in response to his retreating form. "That's the spirit!"

Tossing her head back, Ginny laughed.

"Back to the point," Ginny said, subduing her giggles as Angelina and Roger started to leave. "You thought we would win, which we didn't—"

"Not sure why everyone is so surprised about that," Asma Rahman, the other Beater, said as she walked by waving.

"—so now you have to actually fulfill your promise to your mum. Which you're rather horrid for planning on breaking in the first place, mind you."

Draco narrowed his eyes at her.

"Weasley, I do not have a choice on whether I actually agree or not to what my mother wants. And it wasn't only her. It was that dreadful woman. They want to go on a summer long trip together!"

"What dreadful woman?"

"Andromeda." Draco spat her name.

Ginny stared at Draco in surprise.

"I had forgotten," Ginny said slowly. "She's your aunt, isn't she?"

He made a sound deep in his throat.

"I always liked Andromeda," she informed him thoughtfully. "She's very nice."

When Ginny had still been dating Harry, there had been many times she found herself in the presence of Andromeda Tonks. Harry was Teddy Lupin's godfather and felt it his duty to spend as much time with the young boy as possible. Every holiday, every birthday, Ginny found herself at Andromeda's house. That is, of course, until she and Harry broke up.

"Nice?" Draco scoffed. "Conniving is the word I would choose."

"Well, she is related to you so I'm not surprised."

His glare lacked any malice but his fingers had begun tapping the arm of the bench rapidly. She fought back a smile. Draco only ever did that when he was particularly frustrated.

"Back to the point. Your mother and Andromeda are absolutely horrible and show you no support and planned a trip around the chance that we would lose in the playoffs and have the summer off?"

He gave a furious nod.

Draco seemed unreasonably angry about this and Ginny wasn't sure why. Standing abruptly, he took a few steps away from the bench and into the light rain, his back facing her. Then he glanced over his shoulder at her.

"You look like a child when you sit like that," he told her.

Ginny looked down at herself, legs crossed and chin in the palm of her hand, and shrugged.

"Well you sound like a child whining about your mum going on holiday," Ginny answered. "Why are you so upset about it anyway?"

Draco turned around completely.

"Why am I upset?" he asked haughtily. "Because I'm left watching that bloody child!"

Well, that was certainly surprising. Unable to conceal her shock, Ginny leaned forward.

"They're having you babysit Teddy?"

She barely managed to get the words out before she was laughing, falling back on the bench and almost sliding off. Clutching her sides, Ginny tried to calm herself, for she could feel the intensity of Draco's glare on her. But every time the laughter almost died down, an image of Draco carrying Teddy in his arms would come to mind and she'd start snickering again.

Merlin, how old was Teddy now anyway? Six? Seven? He was an actual person, with ideas and thoughts, who could express his wants and needs and opinions. And they were leaving Draco in charge of him?

Were they mad?

When it became hard to catch her breath, Ginny had to admit defeat and stop laughing. Struggling to sit up, a wave of dizziness hit her and it took a moment for her to focus on Draco again, whose heated scowl was harsher than she had seen in a while.

"Sorry, sorry," she said, wiping at her face.

But, honestly, Ginny was rather surprised by what Draco had just told her. Suddenly, she understood his lack of concentration throughout practice. He was likely trying to figure out how the hell he was going to manage this. And all summer too?

"Why would you agree to that, Draco?"

"I was absolutely sloshed that night! My mother took advantage of my weakened state, really. I likely wouldn't have recalled my middle name if she had asked me on the spot."

Her eyebrows rose in interest.

"What is your middle name?"

Draco looked down at her, his lips tugging into a slight frown. It was clear he was thinking on whether to tell her or not before he shrugged.

"Lucius, of course."

"Of course," Ginny gleefully repeated. "Draco Lucius Malfoy. Very original."

There must've been something in the way she said his name for Draco's gaze sharpened. His eyes darted over her face with interest. She fought back a shiver as he studied her. There was something about the way Draco stared at her, the way his eyes pierced her, that she wondered if he was able to read her mind. Idiotic, she knew, but the feeling never left her. His gaze often reminded her of Headmaster Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Tom Riddle…

"Why do you sound so excited?" he inquired, disturbing her from her thoughts. "That eager to learn my full name?"

"I'm simply honored that you'd trust me, a Weasley, with such a delicate information."

Ginny was pleasantly surprised that her words brought a smile to his face. It was a rare but welcomed sight, catching him smiling at something she had said.

"If you must know, anyone could find out my middle name by a simple search through Ministry files. Or a scan through the Daily Prophet."

He sounded annoyingly arrogant about this.

"You must be very proud. The Ministry files are on your past trial and the Daily Prophet articles are about your rumored outings with, as my mum would say, loose women."

Draco narrowed his eyes and she struggled to hide the self-satisfied smile that was tugging at her lips.

"Anyway, continue. Your mother got you to agree to watching Teddy for how long, exactly, while you were taking the edge off with some butterbeer? It can't be for the whole summer."

The rain was beginning to intensify and he stepped under the shelter of the stadium with her. She had to bend her neck backwards to look up at him properly.

"Yes, Weasley. All summer."

)*(*)*(

His whole body ached in the delightful way it did only after playing Quidditch or having a good shag. Normally the burn deep in his muscles, along with a glass (or two or three) of scotch would lead him to the conclusion that he had a very successful day but, no, not today.

Draco hadn't been able to properly complain to Weasley about his extremely unkind mother. Bletchley, the Tornados' Keeper, and several of the reserve players had come out of the locker room before he had finished the conversation, reminding Ginny that last week she had promised to swing by the pub with them for a drink. A flicker of annoyance had colored her face but she had hidden it relatively quickly; Draco had almost been proud of her.

But it left him in a tough spot of being overly frustrated with his situation and having lost his possibly favorite person to vent to. His only other choices were Flint and Parkinson, both of whom would not care nearly as much as Ginny would. Perhaps it was time to find better friends, some people more like Weasley. He mentally scoffed before taking a long sip of his drink, allowing the liquor to sting its way down his throat before settling warm and heavy in his stomach.

It was strange enough for him to even mentally consider Ginny Weasley a friend and it was an even rarer occasion for him to admit it out loud, outside of the Tutshill Tornados locker room. There had been more than one time where he found himself with only Ginny for company and he hadn't minded, not at all. She was quick with her taunts but found humor in their banter. Not many people enjoyed him like she seemed to. And, despite their long and difficult past together, Weasley had been the first person on the team to actually pay him any mind.

She had been screaming at him, of course, but it was the thought that counted. And, years later, Draco couldn't deny that she was his friend; better than these two lumps before him.

As if hearing his thoughts, Pansy Parkinson turned a cool eye to him. Holding a glass of red wine in one hand, and a cigarette that was slowly burning to its end in the other, she appraised him as she often did. Despite not being the very best of friends, Pansy had grown up with Draco through Hogwarts and could read him as well as his own family. She sighed loudly.

"What is it, then? What is the latest drama with you, Draco?" Pansy questioned.

Draco frowned.

"I didn't even say anything," he snapped.

Marcus Flint grunted, his odd form of laughing, before sharing an entertained look with Pansy. Flint had become a part of their circle after Draco and Pansy graduated Hogwarts. After the war, after the trials, after the slander from the press it became harder than the former Slytherins liked to admit to find friends; it seemed only Slytherins were willing to be friends with Slytherins.

Thus forming the odd trio at the table.

"You don't need to say anything," Flint grumbled. "Your sulking is enough."

"I do not sulk," Draco hissed, fighting the urge to cross his arms over his chest.

Instead he took another sip of scotch.

"Just tell us," Pansy ordered, annoyed. "I'd rather this not ruin dinner for me."

"Dinner? Are we eating here?" Marcus glanced around the restaurant before giving a shrug of acceptance.

Frowning, Draco could only hold his tongue for a long second before speaking.

"I'm to watch that bloody Lupin child all summer!"

Pansy's eyebrows rose in surprise.

"Your mother is still holding you to your promise?" she asked, a light note of disbelief in her voice.

Draco nodded.

"The half-breed child?" Flint questioned, voice low.

Pansy shot him a furious glare before scanning the restaurant. No one around them heard. Reaching out, Pansy shoved Marcus' arm hard.

"You fool," she fumed. "You do realize we're out in public or are you blind as well as stupid?"

Marcus let out a loud sigh.

"Forgive me, to anyone who managed to hear," he conceded, rolling his eyes. "I did not mean to call the werewolf's child a half-breed."

"You'll get us thrown in Azkaban," Pansy ranted quietly, stubbing out her cigarette. "You think they're still not looking to get us in trouble? You absolute imbecile."

"No one heard, Pansy, calm down," Draco said. "But if you keep looking like you're ready to murder him, the attention of this restaurant will be on us."

Pansy sniffed loudly.

"Why can't you dump him off on someone else?" she asked, forcing calmness into her voice. "Isn't he Potter's godchild?"

Running his thumb along the carvings of his glass, Draco shook his head once. Potter had actually been the first person to come to mind when he realized he had to uphold his promise to his mother. But Andromeda had been quick to shut that option down, an annoying smile on her face when she had brightly rejected his idea.

"Apparently, Potter is too busy," he spat. "He's set to save the world over the summer."

"I didn't know it needed saving," Pansy remarked, glancing at her nails.

"What an exciting life," Marcus commented dryly.

Draco smirked.

"The wench thinks it will be good for the Lupin boy to spend time with family," he continued.

"Family? Isn't he your second cousin?" Pansy inquired curiously.

"First cousin, once removed, I believe," Draco responded, frowning. "But, I suppose, since his parents are both dead, as are three quarters of his grandparents, he doesn't have many options."

Marcus shrugged, unconcerned.

"You didn't kill them," Marcus told Draco. "Why's it your responsibility?"

"Well, of course I didn't, Flint. But it's only my mother, that bloody woman, and me left."

"You sound like you pity the boy," Pansy noted.

Narrowing his eyes, Draco glared at her.

"He's set to ruin my summer. There is no pity for him here. Only pity for me, really," Draco complained.

The trio sat in a long silence, sipping at their respective drinks and looking around the restaurant. Marcus and Pansy seemed bored of the conversation already. Perhaps they had been hoping for better gossip or drama. It made Draco's stomach squeeze in anger but he forced the feeling aside, having no time to deal with that on top of the dread that was beginning to fill him.

When he went to take another sip of his drink he realized it was empty. Putting the glass down harder than he meant to, Draco looked around for the waitress. It was going to take ages to get another drink and that was time Draco did not have to waste.

"When does this start, then?" Pansy asked him, her light eyes scanning his features.

His frown deepened.

"Tomorrow sometime, I suppose."

Marcus let out a loud laugh at that; for once, it didn't sound like a grunt.

"Tomorrow? You're to watch that monster tomorrow and you're here drinking with us? Ah, Malfoy, I always knew you were dumber than you looked."

Affronted, Draco's mouth dropped open. Before he could respond, however, Flint jumped to his feet and headed towards the bar. Draco looked back to Pansy.

"Have you ever spent time with a child, Draco?"

That was a silly question. Of course not. Children were annoying and loud and messy, all things that Draco didn't like to associate with. Reading the expression on his face, Pansy let out the most sympathetic sound Draco had ever heard from her.

"It isn't wise for you to start watching the boy hungover and angry. You should probably head home," she advised him.

Draco's eyebrows furrowed.

"I think not! I deserve one night of freedom, at least. And—"

Flint came back, a glass filled with familiar brown liquid held out in his hands. He offered it to Draco, his smile wide.

"And Flint here understands that I need tonight!" Draco finished, taking the glass.

Marcus lifted his own glass into the air, inclining his head to Draco.

"I can't wait to see how long you last," Marcus said. "As you know we're going to be no help to you."

Pansy smirked widely and inclined her head to Draco also. The pair took a sip before Draco could raise the glass to his lips. A sinking feeling hit him as he realized he was rather alone with this problem. Marcus and Pansy were not the helping kind and likely to purposely avoid him in order to not have to deal with the child.

He took a long swig of scotch.

)*(*)*(

The streets of Diagon Alley weren't nearly as crowded as Ginny had expected. She had easily maneuvered her way to Rose Lee Teabag, a teashop that Hermione had grown fond of over the years, and secured a table by a window. It hadn't been but three minutes after Ginny ordered tea and scones for the table that Hermione shuffled in, carrying a small toddler in her arms and a heavy bag over her shoulder.

"Hermione!" Ginny cried out, rushing to her feet.

She went to take both Rose and the bag from Hermione but the older witch handed over only the child. Beaming, Hermione hugged Ginny, her swollen belly awkward between them. Ginny stepped back laughing.

"Are you mad? Ron would have your head if he knew you were carrying that heavy bag around," Ginny said as she carried Rose back to the table. "Hello, Rose, darling."

Rose grinned widely back at Ginny.

"Hi," she said back shyly.

As she often did, Ginny looked over Rose with a small smile. She couldn't believe Rosie was already three. It seemed like just yesterday that she was a newborn. How did that happen so quickly?

Shifting Rose on her lap, Ginny forced her attention from her niece and looked eagerly at her friend.

"Thank you for meeting here today, Gin," Hermione groaned, setting down the bag. "I've been needing to stop by Flourish and Blotts for ages now but Ron never wants to come here unless it's for work. I can hardly talk because I can't force myself off the couch unless it's to go to work too. This pregnancy is much more wearing on me."

Ginny shrugged.

"No problem," she answered. "I haven't been here in a while either. I figured I could take Rose around once you head out."

Hermione hummed happily at that. A waitress came over then, dropping off the scones and tea, before shimming out of sight. Reaching over, Hermione poured them both a cup before handing Rose a treat. The little girl grabbed it, said a very polite thank you, and took a bite. Then Rose turned to Ginny, blue eyes shining.

"Mummy's gonna have a baby," she whispered.

Ginny grinned.

"Yes, she is. Are you excited?"

Rose's smile widened and she nodded.

Turning back to Hermione, Ginny leaned forward breathlessly. She had been wanting to tell someone about the Quidditch practice the day before but not many people cared to hear about her stories on Draco. Hermione was one of the few who indulged her.

"Did you know Andromeda is going out of country for the summer?" Ginny asked.

Hermione wiped her mouth with a napkin as she peered at Ginny.

"Hmm, yes, she had told Harry a few months ago she was planning on it. I think she wanted him to watch Teddy the whole time."

Ginny's eyebrows shot up. She was such an idiot. Why hadn't she thought of that when Draco was telling her about having to watch Teddy? Harry was a much better choice and certainly had spent more time with the little boy than Draco had. Lifting her cup of tea, Ginny tilted her head.

"Why isn't he?"

Hermione's eyes were on Rose, who was dropping crumbs all over Ginny. A slight frown marred her face but she didn't scold the little girl.

"Kingsley wants him to train a fresh batch of Aurors over the summer. I believe he started just last week. I think it's a welcome relief for Harry, honestly. He always liked teaching, ever since the D.A., and I think it was beginning to tire him, chasing after rogue Death Eaters all the time."

Ginny rolled her eyes. It had been a long while since Ginny and Harry had ended their relationship but now he realized he was getting worn down from putting his job first? Hermione watched her, a tender expression on her face.

"Do you still miss him?" Hermione asked softly.

Swirling the tea in her cup, Ginny stared at the brown liquid blankly. Then she shook her head and met Hermione's gaze.

"No, of course not. It was over long before we ended anyway."

Hermione nodded slowly.

"I wonder who Andromeda has watching Teddy, then? He's so young still," Hermione murmured.

The eagerness came back to Ginny and she shifted Rose from her one knee to the other.

"Malfoy," Ginny whispered excitedly.

"Malfoy? Draco Malfoy?" Hermione repeated, eyes widening. "She's having Malfoy watch Teddy for the summer?"

Hermione ran her hands over her pregnant belly, eyes narrowing in thought.

"Andromeda is replacing Harry with Draco," she said coolly. "Just like someone else I know."

Used to Hermione's inability to be delicate about almost anything concerning Harry or Ron, Ginny smiled in response. Pressing a kiss to the side of Rose's face, which went mostly unnoticed as the toddler continued eating her scone, Ginny whispered in her niece's ear.

"Your mummy is cruel, Rose."

Hermione snorted.

"I still can't fathom how you like that man," Hermione said. "And how you could consider going from Harry to him."

Ginny held up a hand.

"I am not going anywhere with Malfoy," she reminded Hermione. "He's nothing more than a friend."

"A friend who you find extremely attractive."

"Only when he doesn't open his mouth."

Hermione laughed.

"But what if he were to take notice of you? Romantically?"

"He won't," Ginny assured her, shrugging.

She had long given up the idea of anything happening between her and Draco.

"He's clueless," she muttered. "He wouldn't realize I fancied him if I tattooed it on my forehead. I mean, honestly though, who would have thought I'd like him? A Weasley liking a Malfoy? It's absurd."

"Indeed," Hermione replied after a brief pause. "But it doesn't make it impossible."

Ginny frowned but tactfully steered the conversation away from her relationship with Draco. The rest of the time was spent chatting about the latest commotion at the Ministry and the current legislation Hermione was attempting to get passed. Being pregnant seemed to make it easier for Hermione to get bills passed—possibly because everyone was so impressed that she was still showing up to work.

When the tea was done, though Hermione only allowed herself one cup, and the majority of the scones were eaten by Rose, the trio left the teashop. Diagon Alley had become busier during their time inside the shop but Ginny knew it was likely the morning rush as people hurried to pick up things before work. Ginny never used to wake up so early until her brothers began having babies that needed watching.

Handing Rose off to Hermione so that the mother could say goodbye to her child, Ginny took a glance around. How many times had she been here when she was young? And now she was considered an adult, helping raise children herself. She almost laughed at the idea of it. Hermione gave Rose another kiss on the cheek before handing her back to Ginny.

"Thanks again for meeting up today, Ginny," Hermione rushed to say. "I'll see you at the Burrow tonight for dinner?"

"Yeah, of course." Ginny smiled.

"Alright. Rose, be good for—"

"Weasley, is that you?"

The unfamiliar voice startled the trio and Ginny spun on her heel to face… Marcus Flint? She hadn't seen the man since the beginning of the season, when he had come to one of the first Tornados games and met up with Draco afterwards. Staring at him, Ginny frowned.

"Flint," she greeted. "Morning."

"Morning," he echoed, a wide grin stretching on his face, displaying his crooked teeth.

It was odd to see him look so pleased.

Then he spied Hermione and his eyebrows rose.

"Granger, pleasure seeing you outside of the office," Flint remarked.

Ginny frowned before remembering that Hermione and Flint both worked for the Ministry. They likely saw each other far more than Ginny and Flint.

"Granger-Weasley," Hermione corrected automatically. "Good seeing you too, Marcus."

His eyes landed on Rose, cradled by Ginny. Rose seemed unbothered by the stranger, her gaze curious as she looked him over.

"Good with children, are you, Weasley?" Marcus laughed. "Malfoy's going to need all the help he can get. I'm sure he told you about having to watch that Lupin kid?"

Hermione stiffened beside her but Ginny calmed at his words. When Flint had come to visit Draco at that game this season, he had stumbled upon Draco and Ginny laughing together outside the locker room. Instead of being mystified by the interaction, Flint had seemed rather amused and now greeted Ginny kindly whenever he saw her. Draco was the only tie she had with Flint and she knew that was the only reason he had stopped her just now.

"He did," Ginny agreed, absentmindedly swatting Rose's hand away from her hair when it strayed towards the loose strands.

"We have a bit of a bet going, you see," Marcus informed her. "Among Draco's friends."

Was he including her in that category?

"A bet over what?" Hermione asked.

"How long it will take before Draco waves the white flag," Marcus answered, staring at them as though surprised they hadn't figured it out right away. "He's not likely to get any help with that child and he's never been around a kid before. Want to place a wager?"

Hermione huffed.

"That's quite rude! You won't help him with Teddy?" she inquired sharply.

Marcus blinked.

"Of course not, Granger."

Ginny could almost hear Hermione grind her teeth beside her, though she wasn't sure if it was because Marcus purposely said Hermione's last name wrong again or if it was because he didn't feel obligated to help Draco.

"Weasley? Want to join the fun?"

"I'll pass, thanks," she replied nonchalantly.

His dark eyes went to Hermione but he didn't bother asking her. The distain on her face must have been enough of an answer. Tilting his head in farewell, he continued on his way, though there was still a wicked smile on his face.

Turning to face Hermione, Ginny let out a soft breath.

"They're horrid, his friends," Hermione growled. "Who needs enemies with friends like that?"

Ginny shrugged, though her stomach felt tight. She had meant to write Draco this morning before she headed out to Diagon Alley, wanting to question him further about watching Teddy, but she had forgotten. Flint coming up, however, and discussing the situation with her made everything much more real. Feeling guilty, Ginny mulled over the idea of stopping by the owlery here and writing him something quickly.

"I'll be off then."

Hermione's words jolted Ginny from her uneasy thoughts and she offered her sister-in-law a quick goodbye. Rose's grip around Ginny's neck tightened briefly once Hermione disappeared into the crowd.

"Want to go see some owls, Rose?"

The little girl gave an excited nod and Ginny's decision was made.

)*(*)*(

There was something pounding loudly in the room. Draco wasn't sure if it was simply his head about to explode or something else but he found he didn't care too much at the moment, thank you very much. He just wanted to go back to sleep. If he opened his eyes and tried to find the source of the noise, or the hangover potion he had left by his bedside, he'd have to admit he was awake and deal with the day.

But if he kept his eyes closed—

"Draco, darling, it's time to wake up."

Oh, hell, it was his mother. What, exactly, was the point of wards if just about anybody could come in? Groaning, Draco rolled onto his back and admitted defeat. He opened his eyes.

Immediately he regretted it. Why was it so bright outside? And, ugh, that bloody pounding. Draco sat up slowly, grimacing as his head pulsed, before glancing around. He had never closed his window or curtains the night before, allowing light and outside noise in. Without looking, he reached over to his nightstand. His hand closed around a round, familiar object and he brought it towards him. A wave of nausea washed over him at the slight movement and he grimaced.

Holding the object in front of his face, Draco squinted his eyes and looked over it. Hell, it was past noon. No wonder it was so bright. Tossing his pocket watch back onto the nightstand, Draco grabbed the bottle of hangover potion and uncorked it. Taking a swig, he allowed it a second to settle in his stomach before having a better look around.

He had managed to at least strip out of his clothes last night, leaving him only in his briefs. The loud hammering wasn't his head, for his headache had begun to fade already. It was an alarm going off, alerting him that his wards had been bypassed. Draco released a breath through his teeth. Fat lot of good that did. And, outside his bedroom door, he could hear his mother speak again.

"Really, now, darling, Andromeda and I have to leave in thirty minutes."

Thirty minutes? They were here dropping off the kid already?

"I'm awake!" he called, putting his head in his hands.

He thought he heard Andromeda say finally but he wasn't sure. Draco scowled nonetheless. This was her fault, after all. Though, truthfully, it wasn't his smartest decision to stay out the night before with Flint and Parkinson, consuming large quantities of scotch. Pansy had warned him of the pain of babysitting.

A wary chuckle escaped him at his thoughts.

He was a bloody babysitter! A summer that should've been spent with late night excursions to bars with friends, taking a pretty bird home, sleeping in till noon with no complaint was now replaced with watching a little brat every day. Getting out of bed, Draco threw on a silk robe that hung in his closet before pausing at the unexpected sight of an envelope. An owl must've delivered him a letter while he was sleeping.

Bloody thing didn't even attempt to wake him up.

Walking over to where the letter sat, on the desk by his window, he picked it up upon seeing the familiar writing. Weasley. He opened it swiftly. A quick scan of the parchment lessened the severity of his frown. She was asking more about his situation with the Lupin child, since they hadn't finished their discussion the day before. He'd have to write her back later, for he could only imagine the irritation growing inside his mother as she waited outside his room. With that in mind, Draco dropped the letter and stalked across the room. Then he opened his bedroom door, ready to properly complain.

His mother was no longer there.

Looking down the corridor, he saw no one. Running a hand over his face, Draco fought the desire to run back into his bedroom and lock the door. Instead he headed down the hallway and immediately ran into his aunt.

"Draco," she called brightly. "You're awake. I was half wondering if we should've come around three or four, as that seems to be your normal waking hour."

Blankly, Draco looked away from his aunt to his mother. Narcissa Malfoy was smirking, seated in a chair in the kitchen. Beside her, frowning harshly, was the little boy. Draco eyed him, from his scruffy shoes to his extremely well-worn clothes, from the twist of his lips when he spotted Draco to his mousy brown hair. Odd, he thought his mother had mentioned that the boy could change appearance, something like a Metamorphmagus. The boy looked sickeningly normal to him.

Narcissa placed a hand on the Lupin boy's shoulder.

"Draco, this is Teddy."

It was strange to hear such an ordinary name fall from his mother's lips. Not too long ago, she'd been disgusted by the news that her sister had a grandchild on the way. Now she was gladly forcing the child onto him.

"Teddy, this is your Uncle Draco."

The boy glanced up at Narcissa, clearly unsure. Draco sighed.

"I'm not his uncle, mother."

"First cousin, once removed," Andromeda piped up. "Teddy, say hello."

The child said nothing.

"Go on, Teddy, we're running out of time."

"Hi," he mumbled. Then, in a louder voice, he looked to Andromeda and spoke. "Granny, can't I go with you?"

"Of course not," Andromeda responded, her smile soft. "This is a trip just for the two of us sisters."

He let out a loud, long sigh. Draco rather agreed with the Lupin boy. At least it was comforting to know neither of them wanted to be in each other's presence. Folding his arms, Draco leaned against the wall.

"And you'll be spending some nights with Harry, dear," Andromeda reminded him.

At the mention of Potter, the boy straightened in excitement. Draco's eyebrows rose.

"Will he?" Draco asked.

Narcissa's smirk grew, if only by a fraction. Draco took note of it nonetheless and frowned at her.

"Didn't I mention? Harry Potter will be meeting you every Saturday and taking dear Teddy for the night," Narcissa informed him.

"Meeting me where?" Draco almost snarled, his patience wearing thin.

"Teddy's little league Quidditch games. Every Tuesday and Thursday are practices, every Saturday a game."

He breathed in sharply.

"You have got to be joking."

"No, of course not," Andromeda said, smirking. "Now, I'll be writing often and I'd like a quick reply, of course, from Teddy. He writes rather well for his age, though it would be kind of you to help him with some spelling— and make sure doesn't use up too much parchment. He writes his letters a bit large."

"When will you be back?" the boy whined.

Draco realized, with a start, that he hardly knew any information about their trip. He had spent so much time trying to get out of watching the child that he hadn't asked his mother anything about her vacation.

"Beginning of August, my dear."

"Where are you going?" Draco asked stonily.

"Oh, Rome, Venice, Florence, Dublin, perhaps… It will all be very lovely," Andromeda cooed.

"Yes, I agree," Narcissa said softly, catching Draco's attention. "I had the house-elves clean up your room and a spare room at the manor for you and Teddy."

"The manor," Draco spat. "I've my own place to live, as you see."

Draco waved his arm around the room as though showcasing it.

"I pay for it monthly. What's the point of me making payments on it if I'm to stay at the manor?"

"You could always move back home with your mother," Andromeda suggested.

It was something he imagined Ginny saying to him. No wonder Weasley liked the wench so much. He scowled at his aunt.

"Draco, this place is not made to hold a child," Narcissa responded, ignoring the growing anger of her son and the amusement of her sister. "The manor has more than enough room for you and Teddy. You can both practice Quidditch in the backyard. The house-elves will be there to clean and cook. And there's a library, for entertainment."

He already knew that, he had grown up there. Draco wanted to say just that but the look on his mother's face stilled the words on his tongue. There would be much more room at the manor. His flat was large but it wasn't meant for more than just him, and that's how he liked it. After growing up in the enormous, empty manor, Draco found he rather enjoyed the much smaller, warmer flat he now resided in.

But he didn't like the idea of listening to the Lupin boy bitch and moan every day in his small, warm flat. Draco could easily put some distance between himself and the boy at the manor. And with the large yard, the library, and the many rooms to explore, the child would likely be much more amused than here. As always, his mother was right.

If Draco could get over the unpleasant twist of his stomach at the idea of returning to Malfoy Manor, that is.

His mother seemed to know that he was mulling over her suggestion. Standing, her smirk softening into a smile, Narcissa walked up to Draco. Reaching up, she cupped his cheek. As often occurred when his mother annoyed him, her touched calmed him, if only a bit.

"This will be good," she said softly. "For all of us, I think. Won't it be nice to have a family again?"

Draco nodded, if only to appease her. But he couldn't help thinking that he already rather enjoyed his family, even if it was only his mother, his father, and him.

His mother and aunt did not linger long. Draco wondered if they feared he'd abandon this ridiculous arrangement, run away and simply refuse to return until they gave his freedom back to him. But he did not run. Sure, he might have been a bit bad-tempered as he watched the two women leave but that was the worst of it. When the door clicked shut behind them, he glanced at the boy.

The child stared sullenly back. Had his hair gotten darker? The locks on his head looked as black as the night sky. Draco couldn't recall now if it had been black or brown when he first saw him. Perhaps it was that simply everything seemed darker now that they were stuck together.

The pair stared at each other for a long moment before Draco looked away. Beside the young boy were two large bags. This was official. Draco was officially babysitting a child for the summer.

Lightly clearing his throat, the boy interrupted Draco's thoughts.

"Uncle Draco?"

Draco frowned. Hadn't they already gone over this?

"I'm not your uncle," Draco repeated once more, pushing himself out of the seat he had been occupying.

He turned his back towards the child, stepping further into the kitchen and grabbing a pastry off the counter. Taking a bit of his snack, Draco turned back to face the Lupin boy.

His dark eyebrows were furrowed, his eyes scrutinizing him.

"What should I call you then?"

My God, Draco should've just let the boy call him uncle, even if the idea of that repulsed him. Draco wanted to ignore him and head back to bed. That was not an option, however.

"Sir, Master, Lord Malfoy—" Draco listed dryly.

The boy stared at him blankly. He was joking, of course. Couldn't the kid take a joke? Draco sighed, taking another bite of the pastry. It would be nice to be called sir, though. That would show his idiot friends who had absolutely no faith that he could manage to watch a child… for two months.

Two months. Someone end this torture now.

"Draco is fine, I suppose," he allowed.

The boy's face scrunched up.

"Harry said to call you slimy git."

A scowl marred Draco's face. Thankfully Ginny wasn't here. He could almost hear her laughter in his head as he stormed off to his room.

It was always exhausting, doing dinner at the Burrow with the whole family. And yet, every Friday, Ginny went to her childhood home, played with her nieces and nephew, helped her mum cook, teased her brothers, and gossiped with her sisters-in-law. She knew it wouldn't be like this forever, especially since the children seemed to be growing up so fast, and that it was worth the fatigue. But she still liked to complain just a little as she changed into her pajamas and heated the kettle.

Turning on the gramophone before laying out on the couch, Ginny closed her eyes and waited for the familiar whistle of the teapot. Tomorrow she should probably clean her flat, in case her mum decided on another surprise visit this weekend. No matter how many times Ginny stopped by the Burrow to see her, her mum always made sure to come by the flat unexpectedly. It was getting a little ridiculous, to be honest. Perhaps she should ask George how to bring that up to Molly, though Merlin knew that he wasn't going to know what to say—

A brief, quick tapping at the front door jolted her from her thoughts.

Sitting up, Ginny glanced around.

Tap, tap, tap.

Ginny groaned. Speaking of George… she hoped he hadn't decide to come over with another bottle of Firewhiskey. Last week when George had decided to stop by for a Friday night drink she had hardly been able to get out of bed until Sunday. Pushing her hair out of her face, Ginny wrenched open the front door.

"I refuse to clean up your vomit again, Geo—Malfoy? What? What are you doing here?"

Standing in her doorway, looking extremely tired, stood a disheveled Draco. She studied him quickly, surprised. They very rarely spent any time together outside of Quidditch practice or games. The sight of him instantly sent her pulse rocketing.

"Are you drunk?" she asked, the words slipping from her mouth before she could stop them.

His face was pale and drawn, his eyes feverish. Draco's fists were clenched at his sides but he didn't seem angry, just frustrated. What was going on? He hadn't responded to his letter… maybe this was his way of answering her?

"I wish," Draco grumbled. "Weasley, I… ugh, hell, Weasley, I need your help."

And, from behind Draco, Teddy stepped into view.

)*(*)*(

Author's Note: Many thanks to my beta for helping me out with this story! I hope everyone enjoys!


Charlie's Prompt (2)

Basic Premise: Somehow, against all odds, they've become friends. He knows nothing about children, and when he ends up with Teddy for the summer, he turns to her for help.

Must Haves: Secretly (or not-so-secretly) pining Ginny, Oblivious Draco

No-Nos: Dark/Sad, Scat, Blood, HG/SS Side Pairing, HG/LM Side Pairing

Rating Range: Any

Bonus Points: A kitchen-related "disaster"; Smut