A/N: Hi, everyone! This is a little one-shot I had an idea for. The main characters are Ginny Weasley and Draco Malfoy. The scene is set in an AU, Muggle world. I hope you enjoy!
Sentences in italics are an indication of Ginny's inner thoughts.
Disclaimer: I do not own (even though I want to) Harry Potter. All characters are figments of my imagination.
"... 5, 4, 3, 2-" At 1, the camerawoman slashed her finger in a downwards motion. Upon seeing this, Ginny quickly ducked behind the curtain again. As the host began to speak - it sounded like complete gibberish to Ginny as she was barely paying attention - and the lights shone down like bright beams of death, Ginny took a seat in the velvet chair. She cleared her throat nervously and twiddled her thumbs, waiting for the host to call out her name. This was it. Her time had finally come, and she wasn't going to fuck it up. Ginny had waited almost 4 years for her novel to be published. 4 long years. A lot had happened within that period, what with her father passing away and Draco...
No, she told herself harshly, almost physically recoiling from her loud inner voice. I won't think of him right now. I refuse to. Draco who?
Ginny took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She tried hard not to fall into her bad habit of squinting when she was nervous, but she allowed herself one slip-up. Bad idea. Her eyelashes swept delicately across her tortoiseshell horn-rimmed glasses and left tiny black swirls on the glass. Damn mascara. I knew this would be a bad idea. Why didn't I just leave my face bare? Ginny pulled them off roughly and wiped the mascara off the glass with the underside of her green lace top. Doing this didn't fully remove the smears of mascara, but it did introduce a sense of normality in what really was a horrible situation. 10 hours she had had to prepare for this interview. With it being her first offer, and for such a prestigious and well-loved show on the tellie, Susan Bones jumped at the idea and called up Ginny as soon as she received the offer.
"Ginevra Molly Weasley, daaaaahling, you really ought to take this up! It's a briiiilliant opportunity for you, and you'll be able to talk about your book for ten whoooole minutes! Please, tell me you will, daaahling?" Ginny winced as her agent said her full name, and winced again at each vowel Susan unnecessarily extended. If she carried on wincing at such an alarming rate, Ginny was sure she would never be able to blink properly again. However, she had listened carefully to what Susan told her, and agreed that it was a brilliant opportunity for a newbie published auther like herself.
"Susan, that sounds like a great opportunity. Of course I say yes! When and where?"
"Please welcome the beautiful Ginny Weasley!" The loud echo of her surname snapped her back into reality, and Ginny stood up quickly. Composing herself for no more than 1 and a half seconds, she said a quick prayer as the curtains parted and exposed her. The wise (or, in some cases, stupid) words her brothers had thrown at her when they received news of her public appearance on the hottest talk show in town came back to her all of a sudden. She glanced down and took 3 careful but sure steps down the mini staircase. As Percy had advised her, she had worn a knee-length ribbed pencil skirt that showed off her figure perfectly (I'm so glad my gay brother had taste, because I sure don't). As she approached Tonks, the host and producer of Tonks Talks, she kept her smile from slipping from her face (thanks, Ron) when she saw an all-too-familiar face in the crowd. What the hell was he doing here?
"Welcome, welcome, Ginny!" Tonks kissed both of Ginny's cheeks. Thank you, Charlie, for giving me that little titbit of information. Bloody Southern Europeans. Tonks continued, "It's such a pleasure to have you here on today's show! Sit down, please, sit down..." Ginny took a purposeful step forwards and smoothed out her skirt from behind her before she sat down. She angled her body away from him and faced Tonks, still maintaining a little smile on her lips.
"Thank you for having me! I can't say that I wasn't surprised when my agent called me up to tell me the news, but nevertheless, I'm honoured to be here. Thank you!" Tonks beamed with affection for Ginny and leaned forward to pat her on the knee.
"Of course I had to call you onto the show! When I read your book - which, gentlemen and gentlewomen is called Pulling Me Down, as I'm sure you all know! - I just knew I had to meet the author behind the story. So do tell our audience today what the story's about?"
Ginny took another deep breath and blinked several times. Boy, they always warn you about the damn bright lights but you can never know exactly how sweltering they are to be under until you're sat there sweating like a whore in church. Or if you're sat there under laser beams whilst your ex-fiancé - at this thought, Ginny heart nearly jumped out of her chest - stares at you from the audience... Wait, Tonks just asked me a question! Goddamn bright lights. Goddamn ex-fiancé.
"Well, Tonks, Pulling Me Down has quite a simple plot, if I'm honest. The universe in which the novel is set is the merworld, in an underwater kingdom called Abussonys. In this universe, all merpeople are entitled around a month as humans, in their part of the world. After the month has passed, the merperson chooses whether they want to return to Abussonys or remain human for the rest of their life. You'd think it was an easy choice - I'd love to be able to hold my breath underwater for longer than a minute! (The audience giggled collectively.) But the main protagonist, a young mermaid named Nerissa, has longed to be a part of the human race ever since she was a merbaby. The good seawitch - yes, they do exist in my universe! - who grants the month-long stay in the human world warns Nerissa that the human world calls to her more than others because she is destined to spend her life there. When she finally gets the chance to exchange her fins for pins for good, (oh good, they're laughing. They think I'm funny!), Nerissa falls irrevocably in love with her human neighbour, Blaise. The problem is that she's one half of an arranged marriage laid out by her parents and soon-to-be-in-laws. She also cares deeply for the boy, Aster, she is to marry. Nerissa must then decide whether she wants to pursue her lifelong wish of staying human with Blaise or follow the future path set out for her by her parents and marry Aster. It's a really tough situation for her, but she chooses- well, I guess you'll have to buy the book to see what she chooses." Tonks threw her head back and laughed, prompting the audience to do the same. She quickly glanced at them without really making eye-contact. There was no way that Ginny would be able to keep a straight face if she saw him again. No way in hell.
"That's right, you'll all just have to buy the book! So is this a children's book, then?"
"No, the audience it's aimed at is everyone, really. I know the merworld sounds fiction-y and childlike but I think it's suitable for all ages." Ginny flashed her teeth and glanced at the audience again.
"I agree!" Tonks sighed. "I must say though, you have an excellent sense of direction."
"Disagreed, Tonks, I almost lost my way to this studio! Thank God for my sat-nav." More guffaws, this time instigated by the audience. Am I killing it? I really think I'm killing it. Just as long as she doesn't ask me that question.
"You're a hoot, Ginny! You certainly haven't made me laugh this much in a long time. But to my original point - by direction, I meant that it felt like your writing seemed to be going somewhere. From the moment I began the first chapter, I knew this was a book I wasn't going to be able to put down. What I want to ask is, was there a particular experience that gave you the idea for this book?" Tonks' eyes glinted mischievously. Ginny's eyes narrowed at this action. Oh my fucking God, she'd brought him here on purpose. She knew. She knew the whole story. And she was going to make me spill it right here, right now. No wonder she wanted me on her show. Fuck.
"I wouldn't say it was a personal experience, no. But I was inspired." Ginny wasn't technically lying. After all, it wasn't her that had broken off the engagement and told her parents she didn't want to marry her fiancé anymore because she had never loved him and never would. She wasn't the one who had sat in her recording studio with the talkback accidentally pressed by her laptop bag while she listed all the things she hated about her fiancé, including the fact that she had clearly settled while he was definitely the reacher in the relationship. Oh no, that wasn't her personal experience at all.
"Come on now, Ginny, tell us the truth! We're all friends here! Don't we deserve to know what really happened? Perhaps with you and a certain someone?" Ginny was finding it harder and harder each second to keep composed. Her jaw was tensed like it had never been before, and she was grinding her teeth to dust.
"As I said, Tonks, it really wasn't my personal experience. Let's just leave it at that, hmm?" Ginny spat out.
The atmosphere had distinctly changed from welcoming to threatening. Ginny could see members of the audience glancing around at each other from her peripheral vision, so she backtracked a little.
"If you'd like to know the truth, you could always just buy the book and have a guess at where you think I got my ideas from. You'll surely be better at guessing than the magazine writers who have published a few articles recently in some magazines about my secret obsession with peanut butter! Honestly, you buy 20, 1kg tubs of peanut butter and the media think you spend your time eating it straight out of the jar!" The air warmed a little as the audience laughed yet again. Keep it up, Ginny. She glanced at the massive clock towards the back of the studio. Only a few minutes to go.
"I'll let you in on my little secret; the reason I bought so many jars was because I was making homemade granola bars for my cousin's birthday." Members of the audience, especially the women, aw'd. "I've not had much time in the past few years to do anything for him, so I decided to go all out and make his favourite snack. I tell you what, they went down very well. Who knew it was that easy to get kids onto some-" Ginny suddenly uncrossed her legs and sat up in her chair. He was making his way down the aisle.
"Ginny? You were saying?"
"Yes? Oh, sorry, I was just saying that it wasn't as difficult to get my cousin and his mates to eat something healthy as my aunt made out." Ginny's eyes never left his retreating figure. Since he wasn't facing her, she took some time to really look at him. He was wearing a buttoned up white shirt with a pair of chinos. He had on his best pair of Toms. Those bloody shoes. Is there ever a time when he isn't wearing them? Ginny recalled a memory of telling him off for wearing them all over the house.
"Draco! Stop it! You're getting the mud from the garden all over the floor!" Ginny was in the process of curling her hair, so didn't turn around but scolded her fiancé by looking at him in the dresser mirror.
"It was your idea to get white laminate everywhere, Gin." Draco shrugged and did a little tap dance in his Toms. "Can't blame me for using what God gave me and just walking."
Ginny put down the curling tongs, leaned back on her chair, and slapped him on the bottom. "I'm warning you, I'm not cleaning this up. Poor Iris must think we own a dog with the amount of mud you bring in from the garden.
"Gin! That actually hurt my arse!" He picked up the curling tongs and held it out in from of him like a lightsaber.
She giggled. "You're such a nerd, Draco Malfoy."
"And you love me for it." He blew her a quick kiss before unplugging the tongs and waving the 'lightsaber' around. "I am the Jedi Master. Bow to me!"
Ginny shook her head. She replied to his first comment, "Yes, I really do."
Draco winked at her and tap danced his way out of the bedroom, pausing in the hallway to jump up and heel kick.
"Hey! Stop it! If Iris complains about all this mud again, I'm going to blame you outright this time, I'm warning you..."
"Congratulations on getting your cousin to eat healthily then! Which brings us wonderfully to our next topic, actually. Thank you to the brilliant Ginny Weasley for filling in today's noon slot. Be sure to buy her book 'Pulling Me Down,' in bookstores across the country now! After the break, we will be discussing if child obesity is the fault of the parents or not. Don't go anywhere, gentlemen and gentlewomen; we'll be back after this!
The camerawoman lifted one finger into the air and shouted, "3 minutes to take a piss or drink some water, and we're back. Hurry it up, people!"
Ginny let out the breath she had been holding since she thought of Draco. Her fingers, cold with nervousness, plucked at the top of her lace shirt.
"Can someone take this off, please?" Tonks reached over and unhooked her microphone with one swift movement.
"You did great, Ginny. Really well done! I do wish you'd spoken more about your backstory though..." Tonks trailed off as she saw Ginny's blazing eyes.
"That was a horrible trick, it really was. I thought you called me to be on this show because you liked my novel, not because of this juicy backstory." Ginny made airquotes with her fingers around the word 'juicy.' "You shouldn't have done that. You should not have done that."
"My dear, you're a published author now. You'll soon realise that you can't make friends in show business. It's all about the moolah. And your juicy backstory would have made you and me a lot. I guess it was my fault for thinking you were ready. Curses."
Ginny shivered, but not from the cold. She wanted to say more, but she held her tongue and stalked off the stage. When she was behind the curtain, she wiped her forehead with the back of her hand and looked around. Her time on TV was up, and she wanted nothing more to do with Tonks Talks. Ginny decided to go home.
After splashing some cold water on her face in the toilet and dabbing it dry with the scratchy paper towels, Ginny made her way out of the studio. She smiled quickly at the guard near the entrance, who asked: "Ginny Weasley, right! I'm just reading your book!" He held it up in his hands. "Do you mind signing it for me?"
"Of course, sure." She rummaged in her black mock-croc purse for a pen. Pulling one out, she signed the book.
"Dear Diego," She wrote, after looking at the security guard's ID badge. "Thank you for reading my book. I hope you enjoy the rest of it! With love, Ginny Weasley."
"Thank you, ma'am! I sure hope your book makes it onto the New York Times' bestseller list! You really deserve it, this storyline has me for real hooked! Stay sweet!" Diego waved at Ginny and walked off to continue his rounds. Ginny waved back a fraction too late - his back was already turned. Damn it, Ginny, she warned herself. Keep acting like a weirdo and no one will ever want to read your book.
She made her way out of the glass doors and turned to give the studio one last look. Goodbye and good riddance. If being an author means having to actively play in show business' crappiest roles and airing my dirty laundry in public, then I want none of it. I'll just write for myself because I love it.
Ginny took a few steps forward and then stopped. In front of her, leaning against the rail with one foot placed against it behind him, stood Draco Malfoy.
"Hi, Gin." He addressed her with his old nickname for her, and smiled at Ginny as if they were old friends who saw each other regularly. "We need to talk."
And just like her legs, Ginny's heart stopped too.
A/N: Oops, was that a bad place to leave this at? Sorryyyyyy...
Thank you so much for reading. I really hope you enjoyed it! Let me know in your review if you want me to carry on with this as a two-shot or possible story, or just leave this as a one-shot. Any thoughts, whether positive or negative, would be greatly appreciated.