This story was written for Elizabeth (Jaden Malfoy87) in The DG Forum Fic Exchange - Summer 2018 by a member of our forum. For more details, please visit our page.
Ginny passed from blissful oblivion to panic in a single second.
"What! I'm up! I'm up!" she said as she shot into a sitting position. Her head pounded so ferociously upon returning to consciousness that she shut her eyes against the pain and clutched her head with a groan.
"Weasley," an unpleasant voice said.
Ginny knew that voice. Knew it and loathed it with every fiber of her being. Dread filled her at hearing that vile drawl in her bedroom, and for a moment she almost forgot the pain she was in. Lifting her head, Ginny blinked against the piercing light, which only further exacerbated her headache.
This wasn't her bedroom. In fact, this wasn't any room she had ever been in before. This wasn't her bed, and the shirtless man next to her most certainly was not Mr. Tedkins, her favorite childhood teddy bear.
"Draco," Ginny croaked as she yanked the bed sheet up to her chest. Thankfully, a quick glance under the sheet revealed she was at least partially dressed. Her bra and knickers were still on—thankCirce—and strangely enough so were her shoes.
"Weasley," Draco repeated from his lounging pose, looking for all the world as if his head weren't about to explode. That bastard. "What do you think you're doing in my bedroom?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing!"
Ginny tried to climb out of the bed along with the sheet to cover herself, but Draco was laying on top of it. She made an honest attempt not to ogle his bare chest while she tugged the sheet out from under him and failed both endeavors.
"I'm certain I have no idea. I have the hangover of the century, and I don't happen to recall what happened last night that led to this result."
Ginny stopped pulling for a second to stare at Draco. If he had a head-splitting, stomach-roiling hangover that was even half as severe as hers, she couldn't tell. His eyes were alert, his hair was impeccable, his chest was immaculate—wait, she was getting off track here.
On her part, Ginny was sure she looked like a disaster. There was drool crusted on her cheek, her eyeballs ached as mercilessly as her head. The pain in her eyes combined with the light sensitivity made her squint like a stubborn cat preparing to be sprayed in the face with a water bottle for climbing on things it shouldn't. She looked and felt atrocious, and Draco looked—
Well, she wouldn't comment on how Draco looked. With her luck, he'd use his mind powers to read her mind and find the one complimentary thought about him among the sea—Nay! The ocean!—of unflattering ones.
That thought, however, gave her an idea. A terrible idea.
"Can't you… you know?"
Draco raised his groomed brows in expectation. "No? I don't?"
Sighing in exasperation, Ginny tried again. "You know! Use your mind powers or something to read my mind and find out what happened last night!"
He rolled his eyes and flopped onto his back. "Oh, my apologies for not understanding your oh-so eloquent question. Also, I'm an Occlumens, not a Legilimens. So, no, I cannot use my mind powers to figure out what happened last night. Maybe one of us should learn to hold their liquor."
"I hope you're not talking about me! I can hold my liquor just fine!"
Draco grunted a laugh. "Which explains how both of us blacked out so severely, we have no memory of the day before."
With a growl and a last forceful pull, Ginny managed to finally retrieve the bed sheet from underneath Draco's supine figure. However, doing so sent him sprawling off the bed and onto the floor with a heavy thunk!
Draping the sheet around herself with smug satisfaction, Ginny scoured the room for her clothes. She found her best dress robes by the bathroom door, looking as if Ginny had stepped right out of them and left them there in a ring on the floor.
Aware of Draco's eyes peeking over the edge of the mattress to watch her, she snatched up her discarded robes and retreated to the bathroom to assess the damage their missing night had caused. One look in the mirror had her cringing. Apparently, her hair had been coiled at the back of her head in a sleek, braided chignon. Several strands had fallen, framing her face in an unflattering manner. The bun itself had come partially unraveled and now sat lopsided between her left ear and her shoulder. She hoped to Circe that the unkempt mess was due to how she had slept and not any particular activities she had engaged in the night before.
Ginny splashed some water on her face and scrubbed off the remainder of her smeared makeup. Then she removed the pins from her hair and tenderly combed through the knots with her fingers, wincing when she came across a particularly nasty snag.
What had they done last night? Why had Ginny been wearing her best dress robes and how did she end up in Draco Malfoy's bed?
A knock on the door made her jump and pull her hair much harder than intended. A high-pitched yelp escaped her mouth.
"Are you finished in there? I did not give you permission to hog my bathroom!" Draco said from the other side of the door.
Ignoring him and grumbling to herself, Ginny stepped back into her robes and reached for her wand to secure the buttons that ran up her spine.
Only to realize she didn't have her wand. She looked on the bathroom floor, the counter, in her pockets, but the only thing she came up with was a business card for a minicab service.
Draco banged again. "Open up, you—"
Ginny opened the door and nearly got a knock to the face. She dodged under Draco's arm and began searching around his room for her missing wand, ignoring his outraged questions and impertinent objections to her rifling through his things. He followed her around the room, and in the back of her mind, underneath the confusion and mounting panic, Ginny felt an inkling of annoyance that he had rushed her out of the bathroom without any intention of using it himself.
"Draco!" Ginny said, straightening up and turning so abruptly, he nearly ran her over. "What did we do last night? I've misplaced my wand."
His amusement formed in the shape of a smirk. "What kind of witch are you that you'd lose your wand?"
"I didn't do it on purpose! Do you have yours?"
"Of course I've got mine! What do you take me for, a numpty?"
He went to his bedside table and then paused, his glance sliding over to her for just a moment before he shoved his hand underneath his pillow and then patted down the mattress.
Ginny crossed her arms. "Did you lose something, you numpty?"
"Oh, don't look too satisfied with yourself," he growled.
"Fine." And then she remembered the state of her undress and said sweetly, "Could you help me do up my buttons please?"
"You're going straight home through the Floo, what do you need your buttons done up for?"
She waved the business card she'd found in her robes pocket in front of him. "Because I found a clue as to where our wands might have gone, and I need to be dressed to pursue this lead."
It only took a second longer for Draco to give in.
They stood outside the gates of Malfoy Manor waiting in sullen silence.
By some miracle that Ginny would not have believed if she hadn't seen it with her own two eyes, the Malfoys owned a telephone. They'd used it to call Kevin, the minicab driver whose card Ginny had found in her pocket.
Ginny tried not to think about how goosebumps had formed all over her skin while Draco had buttoned her up. Each brush of his knuckles against her back had sent currents of electricity through her body. She tried to tell herself it was an automatic response to stimuli, that it didn't mean anything, but here she was forty minutes later still thinking about it.
What Draco was currently ruminating over, she couldn't care less. No, her eyes definitely were not drawn to the way he bit his lower lip in thought. If her heart beat notably harder, it was only because Ginny was so worried about her wand and notbecause he looked too good for a hangover in his fresh clothes.
Finally, a car pulled up to the gate, and before Ginny could approach the vehicle to speak to the driver, Kevin had already rolled down the window and leaned out.
"Hello, my friends! It is good to see you again!"
Ginny hesitated for just a moment. She shared a glance with Draco and then took a step closer to the cab. "Do you remember me?"
"Of course! It is the two lovebirds! Come in! Come in!"
Draco shrugged when she looked at him again, so they climbed into the back of the cab, which probably wasn't the smartest idea while they were defenseless without their wands.
Kevin smiled at them as if they were all old friends. "Lovebirds, where can I take you?"
"We're not lovebirds!" Draco said at the same time Ginny asked, "Where did you pick us up last night?"
"I remember it well. It was The Halfway Inn in Halfway."
Halfway? Ginny didn't know that place. She had never even heard of The Halfway Inn.
"Kevin, is it?" Ginny asked, and then she continued after he nodded. "Kevin, you haven't found any long, er, wooden sticks in your cab, have you?"
"No wooden sticks, but I found this!"
He retrieved something from the glovebox and then reached into the backseat to hand it to Ginny, dropping a sapphire earring in her hand.
Ginny reached up to her ears to find the matching one still dangling from her right earlobe. She had definitely been in this cab last night.
As she reattached the earring, she said, "Could you take us back to The Halfway Inn, please?"
"Yes, anything for you lovebirds."
"We are not lovebirds," Draco insisted again.
Kevin laughed. "Good joke, sir. I have never seen two passengers more in love before, and I have been a cab driver for many years and have had many passengers."
Malfoy crossed his arms in a pout, too petulant over Kevin's familiarity with them to ask the important questions.
So Ginny asked, "Do you know what we were doing in Halfway last night?"
Kevin chuckled at her question. "I'm afraid not. There was not much talking happening last night."
"What do you mean?"
"You know!" Kevin made kissing sounds that made Ginny sit up in alarm. "The whole ride, kiss, kiss, kiss. I did not disturb because I respect my passengers' privacy."
"Me and him? This man? Are you sure?"
Malfoy, too, had sat up straighter, his eyes wide in shock and his head shaking in denial.
"I am very sure, miss." Kevin pointed over his shoulder at Draco. "He gave me a handful of solid gold coins as a tip. I never forget the face of a big tipper."
Kevin basically dropped them off in the middle of nowhere.
The sign in front of them proclaimed if they followed the A4 to the right, they would eventually reach Hungerford. If they followed the A4 to the left, at some point Newbury. If they turned around and followed the road behind them, they would run into Hoe Benham in one kilometer and Boxford in two-and-a-half.
Conveniently, The Halfway Inn was behind them as well, directly across the street. Both Draco and Ginny leaned to the right to read the text painted on the side of the building:
And then underneath that, the words CAR PARK with a hand pointing helpfully to the right.
Next to The Halfway was Halfway Manor, which housed Alan Walker's Fine Antique Barometers. Besides farmland, that was about all Halfway had to offer.
"So which one do you think we came to Halfway for?" Draco asked. "The Great British Food or the Award Winning Beers?"
"Judging by our hangovers, I'd have to say the Award Winning Beers."
A smile split his face at her serious answer before he, too, became serious once more. "Have you ever been here before?"
"No! I've never even heard of this place. You?" Ginny swallowed a groan of frustration at the shake of Draco's head. "Well, let's step inside and see if anyone recognizes us. Shall we cross over there?" Ginny held out her hand, pointing at the road next to the inn, the one that led to Hoe Benham and Boxford.
As soon as her arm shot out, a thunderous BANG rent through the village, and then a purple triple-decker bus stopped directly in front of them.
Struck dumb by the sudden appearance of the Knight Bus, Ginny and Draco said nothing as the conductor climbed down and began a spiel about the services the Knight Bus offered.
The conductor cut himself off with an audible snap of his jaws when he finally noticed Ginny and Draco standing in front of him.
"No. No, no, no, no, no. You two are not getting on this bus, no sir and ma'am!" He waved his arms as he talked, using slashing motions to indicate his refusal.
"I'll give you a Galleon to answer our questions and we will not board your bus," Draco proposed reasonably.
The conductor looked torn, wanting to stubbornly stick to his guns by not helping them but also being desperately tempted by Draco's offer.
"Money first!" he finally said, reaching a grabby hand out.
To Ginny's surprise, Malfoy kept his word and placed a whole Galleon in the man's hand. To her annoyance, the conductor examined the Galleon carefully, even going so far as to bite it to check its authenticity.
Finally, he pocketed the coin and crossed his arms. "What do you want to know?"
"What did we do to make you so happy to see us?" Ginny asked before Draco could come up with something insulting that would change the conductor's mind about helping them.
"See here, you weren't my first drunk passengers, all right? I know how to handle myself and keep order on my bus, even with the rowdiest, drunkest passengers you've ever seen. But you two were so drunk you couldn't stop spewing everywhere."
"Spewing?" Draco said sardonically.
"Yes, Mr. Malfoy, spewing!"
Draco frowned at the insult of the conductor knowing Draco's identity and still feeling the need to check that the money he'd been bribed with had been real.
"There was vomit everywhere! On the floor, the windows, all over the other passengers. On the ceiling." The conductor shuddered at the horror of his own memories. "Even I was covered in your vomit. I couldn't take anymore and finally kicked you off the bus here."
He glared at them in reproach.
Ginny tried to look as contrite as possible as she said, "I'm very sorry about our behavior, sir." The man couldn't be much older than Draco, but he did seem to become a little friendlier at Ginny's politeness. "Did we happen to leave our wands on your fine bus?"
"No," he said sourly. "It was the contents of your stomach you left behind, not your wands."
"Well, can you tell us where you picked us up, then?" Draco asked in exasperation.
"The Leaky Cauldron. I expect that's where you got pissed in the first place."
Ginny recycled her sweet smile, which made the conductor frown harder. "We're a bit stranded out here. Can't Apparate without our wands, you know. Do you think you could let—"
"Absolutely not!" The slashing hand gestures started up all over again, so wildly this time that both Ginny and Draco had to dodge them.
"I'll give you three Galleons to let us on this bus," Draco growled.
The conductor froze, his arms crossing back over his chest as if he needed to strangle them under his armpits to keep them contained. He thought for a moment and then said slyly, "Ten Galleons."
"Ten! A trip to London for two costs less than two Galleons!"
"I want ten."
"Four," Draco growled.
"Five, and that's my final offer!"
"Fine!" The conductor agreed as he stuck out his hand—for the money, not a handshake.
They climbed aboard and received glares from the other passengers for holding everyone up—the bus was surprisingly busy for a Sunday morning—as they took seats at the back.
"We better find our wands," Malfoy grumbled. "This search is going to bankrupt me."
"I just have a hard time believing we would make out with each other in the back of a cab after violently vomiting all over the Knight Bus," Ginny said as they disembarked in front of The Leaky Cauldron.
The conductor glared at them from the window until the Knight Bus disappeared with another loud bang.
"I dunno," Draco said, looking distracted as he glanced around Charing Cross Road, eyeing the Muggles warily. "Have you seen yourself in those robes?"
"Ha ha," Ginny snarled. She tried to push past him to enter the pub, but a touch on her arm stopped her.
"I'm serious." His eyes drifted downward, openly admiring her wrinkled clothes.
The cobalt blue silk reflected the light, drawing attention to how the material draped over her waist and clung to her hips. The color should have washed out her pale skin, but somehow the robes brought out her warm undertones, flattering her complexion. Months ago, when Ginny had come out of Madam Malkin's dressing room, Hermione had gasped and insisted she must buy the robes at once, and with one look in the mirror, Ginny had agreed.
She was aware of how good she looked in these robes, wrinkled or not. She just never expected that Draco Malfoy would also find her beautiful in them and voice that appreciation out loud.
His regard sent a wave of warmth through her, not unlike the heat she'd felt when he'd buttoned her up back in his bedroom.
Ginny swallowed thickly and chose not to comment.
The Leaky Cauldron was moderately busy for a Sunday morning-bordering-on-afternoon. As soon as she and Draco stepped through the door, several people raised tankards and cheered in greeting. At first she took these gestures as the drunken antics of regulars, but as they weaved through the tables to the bar, she realized that they all seemed to know Ginny and Draco.
Hannah Abbott came out of the kitchen with a plate of food in each hand. She stopped as soon as she saw them, her expression growing murderous with each passing second.
"You!" she said, thundering past them to a booth by the entrance and then slamming the plates down in front of the couple seated there.
"Can I also have a—" the man who ordered the roast chicken began to say, but Hannah swirled around and marched straight back to the bar.
"What did Draco do?" Ginny asked.
"Don't put it all on Malfoy!" Ensconcing herself behind the bar, Hannah picked up a drinking glass and began to shine it with enough ferocity to rub another hole through it. "You are both equally in trouble!"
Draco leaned down to mutter in Ginny's ear, "We must have done something seriously wrong to get Hannah Abbott of all people worked up."
Ginny snickered until Hannah brandished the glass at her in warning. With remorse, she said, "Could you tell us what happened last night? I'm afraid we don't have a memory of it."
"Why should you remember all the damage you caused? You certainly drank enough to forget it all!"
Draco leaned against the counter, his humor now doused. "Listen here, Abbott. Your sarcasm is not going to get you an apology."
Hannah put the glass down and leaned over the counter herself, lowering her voice as if sharing intimate information. "Listen here, Malfoy, it's not an apology I want. I want you to pay your tab and find me two new servers to replace the ones that quit after your antics last night!"
"Fine. How much is the tab?"
Hannah smiled, and Ginny did not see any of the sweetness in the expression that she remembered from their Hogwarts days.
"589 Galleons, 2 Sickles, and—" She looked down, presumably at a note she had saved for their eventual return. "—23 Knuts. Bills must be paid in full, thank you."
Draco, a pale man by default, went translucent at the extravagant number. Ginny would have laughed at his pain if she hadn't been equally responsible for paying that debt.
"How in Circe's name did we rack up a tab that high?"
The faux-smile disappeared from Hannah's face. "I'll tell you how. First, you arrive at my pub sloshed to begin with. Then you start a pissing contest to see who can pick up more dates than the other. You get upset watching each other flirt with other people, so you drink some more. The alcohol makes you happy, which makes you generous. You go out on the street and invite people in for free drinks, and then you buy four rounds of drinks for over 150 people. Do you know what happens when over 150 people pack themselves into a pub only meant to hold 100?"
Both Draco and Ginny were wincing now, even though Hannah's voice had decreased in volume instead of rising.
"Business booms?" Ginny tried.
Hannah snorted and steam came out of her nose. "No, Ginny. You get three drunken fist fights, four broken tables, and thirteen broken chairs. Don't worry though! I added the damages to your tab."
Silence met the end of Hannah's rant. Ginny glanced around the pub to find several parties of people staring at them in wide-eyed interest.
Ginny was doing well for herself these days by riding high from the success of the semi-professional Quidditch team she played with, but she didn't make it a practice to carry nearly 600 Galleons on her. "I can go to Grin—"
"I've got it," Draco said, reaching into his pocket for his checkbook. He wrote out a check while Hannah watched through narrowed eyes. As he handed it to her, he said, "You know I'm good for this amount. My checks never bounce."
She pocketed his payment with a doubtful hmph.
"I'll pay you back for my half," Ginny said to Draco, suddenly aware of how hot her face was burning. She hated owing people money. Now that she had the means to take care of herself, she tried never to let others pay for her. It just brought back too many memories from her childhood of not having enough.
"Forget it, Ginny. That wasn't even a drop in the bucket of what I'll inherit."
She gaped, outrage making her face flush hotter. "You were just complaining earlier today about going bankrupt!"
"It was a figure of speech!"
"How can you say something like that in such a—"
Hannah threw her hands up in defeat. "Merlin, will you two just get a room already?"
All of the other customers cheered in agreement.
Ginny glared at them all.
Hannah went on. "You two are suffering from the worst case of denial I have ever seen in my life. You'd think your best friends getting married would have—"
Suddenly, all of Ginny's memories from yesterday came back to her in such a forceful rush, she stumbled backwards.
"The wedding! How could I forget about Harry's wedding?"
Draco groaned and covered his face with his hands. He, too, seemed to have abruptly remembered the important parts of their missing night. "Pansy is going to kill me. Both of us."
They looked at each other with twin expressions of guilt, and then they turned back to Hannah.
Before they could even ask, she was already holding their wands out to them. "I didn't trust you not to burn the place down last night."
They stood in front of the door to 12 Grimmauld Place staring alternately at the silver door knocker and each other in uncertainty.
"What if we ruined their wedding?" Ginny kept her voice low, half-expecting Harry and Pansy to be able to hear them from wherever they were inside the house.
"We're not capable of that kind of damage,' he said, but he didn't look as sure as he sounded.
Ginny raised her hand to the serpent-shaped knocker and took a deep breath. This was just like pulling a tooth or ripping off a plaster. One good yank and then it would be over.
Or, in their case, then the anger and disappointment could begin.
Ginny didn't get a chance to use the knocker, however, because the door suddenly opened to reveal Harry and Pansy, both dressed in Muggle clothes and carrying overnight bags.
They stared at each other, caught in a standstill.
Finally, Pansy rolled her eyes. "Oh, come in, will you? We'll take a portkey to our honeymoon if we have to."
Ginny swallowed. "We interrupted you on your way to your honeymoon. Great."
"We know why you're here," Harry said as he led the way up the stairs to the first floor. "And we're glad we had a chance to see you before we left."
"Did you hear that, Draco? They know why we're here."
"I heard, thanks. I have ears."
After the war, Harry had done a lot more work on 12 Grimmauld Place to make it more comfortable. Every room had received new wall treatments and curtains, and the furniture had been changed out for more comfortable and modern pieces. The biggest change in Harry's decorating had also been his most satisfying challenge: the removal of Walburga Black's portrait along with the mounted house-elf heads. It had taken a dedicated team of specialists from the Ministry, as well as some research contributed by Hermione, but it had finally been achieved. Harry had buried the house-elf heads in the back garden and burned Walburga's portrait during a party he'd thrown in its honor.
Once Harry began dating Pansy, she brought a little sophistication to the decor, shaping the house into a true home for them.
In the drawing room, Harry and Pansy sat next to each other on a cushy sofa in front of the fireplace, which left the loveseat for Ginny and Draco to share.
"Ashamed of yourselves, are you?" Pansy said casually.
"Were your parents very disgusted by our behavior?" asked Draco
"They were outraged."
"It was beautiful," Harry added with a grin.
"So you're not… angry?" Ginny asked.
Pansy waved her hand in dismissal, her expression blithe. And then, all of a sudden, her eyes flashed with resentment. Ginny couldn't have explained the change, but she felt it as viscerally as a physical touch.
"Angry doesn't begin to describe how I feel. You two need to figure out what it is between you, because this game you play with each other is no longer funny. You made my wedding—"
Harry coughed and then quickly averted his gaze.
"Our wedding all about you and your raging hard ons for each other. Harry and I were able to settle our differences years ago, so I don't know why you still can't. Your behavior was unacceptable before you started soothing yourselves with alcohol, but once you were under the influence, both of your were out of control. You humiliated us. Your best friends. At our wedding."
She sat back and crossed her arms when she finished.
Ginny was utterly horrified to see Pansy's lip tremble. In the years that she and Harry had dated and were engaged, Ginny had never witnessed Pansy shedding a single tear. She never showed weakness. All insults rolled off her back, and the ones that didn't, she brushed off herself. To see her display this much emotion in one sitting—Ginny and Draco must have behaved extremely badly.
Harry grasped Pansy's hand, squeezing it tightly, his expression solemn. "I don't have anything to add. I'm glad we got a chance to see you so Pansy could say what she needed to say. Now we can go to Thailand and not think of either of you at all."
Ginny felt that statement like a stab in the heart. The worst part about it was that she deserved it. She could have stopped this thing with Draco so long ago, but she'd been afraid by how natural it felt to be with him, afraid to just let it happen. So, instead, she'd dug her heels in and tried to make things as difficult as possible.
If Draco began dating someone, then suddenly Ginny found some arm candy as well.
If Draco bragged about how well work was going, that motivated her to work harder at Quidditch so she could brag about her own success.
If Draco said he could hold his liquor, then Ginny for damn sure was going to try to drink him under the table.
If Draco said two and two equated to four, then Ginny found some way to prove him wrong and make it five.
Pansy was right. They were out of control. She was out of control.
"I'm so sorry," Ginny said, completely devastated by how her actions had hurt her friends.
"We'll make it up to you," Draco added.
Ginny looked at him now and saw the same devastation in his stricken expression, in the slump of his frame, in the way he grasped his thighs in a white-knuckle grip. She never would have thought it while they were in school, but he was capable of emotion. Not only anger and contempt, arrogance and greed, but also regret and kindness, honor and generosity. Perhaps even love. If she'd just give him a chance.
"You can make it up to us by leaving so we can catch our flight after all," Pansy said with a sniff.
As she stood, she was back to her normal, unshakable self. The blank expression on her face successfully hid whatever hurt she had revealed moments ago.
Ginny shot to her own feet, and said, "Right. Of course." And then she Disapparated home, unable to face herself or anyone else any longer.
Ginny spent over an hour in the shower. For the first twenty minutes, she vigorously scrubbed at her skin and hair, trying to wash off the stench of alcohol and her self-loathing. She devoted the rest of her shower to going over what she remembered of the wedding, the reception, and the after-party that she and Draco had thrown for themselves.
They had sniped at each other before and during the wedding, but the trouble had really started at the reception when Draco had made a comment in front of her about how pretty Daphne Greengrass looked. Sick jealousy had clawed at Ginny's stomach, and an attempt was made to drown the emotion under vodka shots. Many vodka shots. Draco had then observed that none of the other bridesmaids were drinking as much as Ginny was, and she had taken that as the insult it was intended to be. In a game of tit-for-tat that she could never resist, she made a remark about Draco's inability to keep up with her drinking. Unfortunately, Draco had also been just drunk enough to believe she'd challenged him. Everything had unraveled from there.
They'd Apparated from the reception to continue the party at The Three Broomsticks, where the drinks were much cheaper. Their drunkenness had nearly caused them to splinch themselves in transit. After midnight, Hannah had insisted they go home, and somehow they'd got it into their brains to go to Draco's home. Without their wands, they'd been forced to call a Knight Bus, but all the erratic driving had upset their stomachs in unfortunate ways.
Their trip became a bit more blurry after the Knight Bus conductor kicked them out in Halfway. Ginny didn't recall requesting the minicab; it seemed to arrive like magic in their hour of need. Kevin had been a cheerful delight, and he had been delighted by them, even in their disgustingly drunk state.
What had prompted the snogfest, Ginny didn't know, but she did remember how good it had felt to kiss Draco, how desperately she had hung onto him. They'd made it all the way to his bedroom (and somehow one of them had undone the tiny buttons at the back of her robes) with the intention of shagging, but they must have fallen asleep as soon as they climbed onto the bed.
Thank Circe. Ginny didn't need another regret tainting her limited memory of Harry and Pansy's wedding.
Even as she thought that, her body seemed to grow hotter under the spray of the shower—and the old water heater wasn't to blame for it.
For years she had been hiding her feelings for Draco, uncertain if he could ever take them or her seriously. Their arguments came to them more easily than conversation, but now Ginny was beginning to wonder if she had sabotaged every conversation for the purpose of spiraling them into rows.
If she nagged and poked and challenged him at every turn, he could never see how she really felt about him, and he couldn't hurt her if she hurt him first.
By the time she exited the shower, her skin was pruny and her thoughts were still unclear. They became a little more clear after dressing, when she walked into her living room to find Draco standing in the middle of it.
"I knocked," he said, looking uncertain. "The door wasn't locked."
Ginny lowered the towel she'd been using to dry her hair. "Oh."
A pause extended between them as they looked around Ginny's flat awkwardly, until, suddenly, both of them looked up and said, "What is wrong with us!"
She threw herself down on her sofa and groaned. "I don't know. Are we the most self-absorbed people in England, or what?"
Draco had also taken a seat on the sofa, close enough to Ginny that his knee knocked against hers. "I can only speak for myself… but yes."
"How does everyone not hate us?"
"They probably do. They're just too polite—"
"—to tell us."
They grinned at each other; laughter was imminent.
"We have to make it up to them," Draco said.
He was sprawled next to her, his hand conspicuously laying palm up in between them. Ginny was all-too aware of how easy it would be, how comforting it would be, if she grabbed it.
So she did.
Draco tensed for a moment, but he didn't shake her off. In fact, he withdrew only long enough to situate his fingers more comfortably between hers.
"Maybe we can throw them another reception?" Ginny suggested.
"No alcohol this time."
"Even if that means no one will show up except us."
"If that happens, Harry and Pansy probably wouldn't even show up."
Draco glanced over at her. "We fucked up. How did it get this far?"
Ginny shook her head. "I don't know, but… Draco?"
"I'm tired of playing these games."
He sat up with a sigh and tightened his hold on her hand. "Thank Slytherin! Fighting with you is so exhausting. I'd rather—"
A smile began to creep along Ginny's face. She nudged his thigh and said, "You'd rather what?"
"I could tell you, but wouldn't you prefer if I showed you instead?"
His mischievous expression insinuated too many wonderful things that Ginny had refused to let herself consider before. Every inch of her screamed to throw herself into his arms, to let him have his wicked way with her, to finally be in step with him instead of constantly at odds.
Tugging him closer, she fell backward and let him come over her, both of them breathless with delight, with wonder, with uncertainty. Cushioned between his arms, her breath stopped in her throat when he leaned down to taste her lips. Then their mouths moved together with purpose, a much better purpose than constant belittlement and arguing.
For so many years, Ginny had seen every interaction with Draco as a competition, one that both of them always lost.
But oh how much better it felt when they were on the same team and winning.
Author's Note: I'd like to thank Google Maps for helping me discover Halfway and The Halfway Inn while searching for a halfway point between London and Wiltshire. Even if Halfway wasn't technically halfway, it was fate! I presume that The Halfway Inn did not actually exist during the year this story takes place (which I left ambiguous for math reasons). Alan Walker's website proclaims that he has been specializing in antique barometers since 1994, so I think it's fair to assume that Draco and Ginny could have seen his premises in Halfway when they visited sometime after the war.
Thank you for reading! Elizabeth, I hope you enjoyed this!
Elizabeth's Prompt #2
Basic premise: Draco and Ginny wake up together somewhere with no memory of how they got there or what happened between them. Complications and hilarity ensue.
Must haves: A lighthearted or comedic tone with this one. Think comedy of errors. With a lot of bickering.
No-no's: No overly simple explanation, like "it was all a dream." No dark tone, though you can include some serious drama/conflict if you like. No nicknames likes Weaselette or Ferret. No Harry/Hermione, and no Harry-bashing.
Rating range: Any
Bonus points: Lots of side characters. Draco and Ginny following clues to retrace their steps and figure out what happened.