On Forethoughts And Strategic Thrusts
Chapter 8

"Uh Malfoy? Could you go over, once again… Just why the heck are we in this stinky smelly dark dank dungeon?"

"Because we need a secluded space for your lessons, and I refuse to use your Room of Whatever."

"And why not? Pray enlighten me!"

"Because."

"Argh! You are so insufferable! And explain to me why this guy is here as well?"

"Because."

"Argh!"

Ginny stared unhappily around at the dungeon, located somewhere within the recesses of the lower levels, somewhere under the castle, somewhere deep under the castle. She peeked under her lashes at Draco, who was flicking his wand casually at the corners of the dungeons, whispering incantations under his breath, lighting the candles one by one.

"Maybe it's because you don't like being alone in the dark with two Slytherins, is it Ms Weasley?"

A soft whispery voice pierced the somewhat tense silence, making Ginny jump. Boy! She had absolutely forgotten that Blaise was around. She took deep calming breaths, trying to regain her composure. Blaise turned around, and gave her a passing glance, a mysterious smile on his face, his dark hair fluttering in an unseen wind.

"Okay Weasley, first we're going to teach you how to walk like a lady. I know, I know, you want to be a bad girl. But you still have to learn how to walk! And that… boyish stride is not going to do you any favours."

"Shut it Malfoy. I do not walk like a boy!"

"Feh. Nonsense. So anyway, when you walk, you have to kind of float, instead of your usual heavy stomping march. Stop glaring at me and walk. Head up yes head up… Higher! You've got to look confident… Ooze confidence. No, no don't swing your arms too much, you're not a gorilla for Merlin's sakes!"

Ginny glared at him from across the dungeon, having just attempted to "cat-walk" across. Draco put his hand to his face in exasperation, rubbing it over his face a bit impatiently.

"You don't quite get it do you Weasley. Damn it. I hoped that I wouldn't have to demonstrate… But you're such a hopeless case. Oh bloody hell."

A look of desperation and panic started its slow trek across the Malfoy's pale face, as he mumbled into his hand hopelessly. He took a deep breath, as if to calm his nerves and walked forward, shrugging off his cloak and leaving it on the floor.

"Ok observe Weasley! I'm only going to do this once, so you'd better glean all you can from this. And if any talk goes out that I… did this, well. Let's just say, you're dead."

Another big gusty sigh. Ginny watched the pale haired boy curiously, noticing peripherally that Blaise had a look of mild disinterest on his face, as he loosened his tie. It was then she knew it. It had to be some Slytherin trait that there were special courses for! That casual uninterested downright snotty look. Had to be patented.

Draco cleared his throat, scowling at her for her attention. She blinked innocently back at him. He sighed again, and presented her with the prime example of how to walk like a girl.

Ginny raised her eyebrows. Not bad, not bad at all. It had to take a very confident man to walk that way. And ooh! That was quite a nice view. Hey, Malfoy might be her nemesis, but she knew how to appreciate a good butt.

When he reached the end of the dungeons, Draco stopped and covered his face in his hands, before turning to look at Weasley. That had to be the singularly most humiliating experience in his life, even more so than the "virginity discussion" with Potter and Weasley during Potions.

"So, got that? It's got to be ladylike and sexy, project your…" He paused, searching for a word. "Feminine charm I suppose. Or at least as much of it as you possess. You know, try to walk seductively, if you can."

Ginny opened her mouth to throw something equally witty and sharp back at the blond Slytherin, who she was very amused to notice two spots of pink high on those cheekbones.

"The key is to be sure of yourself. Think and know that you are the best. Radiate confidence."

Blaise, who was now inspecting his nails, looked up and contributed helpfully. Draco nodded, and added, "Blaise here is the local Slytherin guru on such rubbish."

Ginny shrugged, and floated across the dungeon. Or at least she tried to.

"Nice try Weasley. You call that floating? That looked more like slithering. Go again. Think Dementor."

"Argh. I'm trying I'm trying! You make it look so easy."

"Shut up and just go. And no cracks about my femininity, I am wholly male. Now sashay."

Ginny rolled her eyes at the wall, and tried again. Midway, she looked out of the corner of her eye, and almost yelled when she saw a dark shadow next to her.

"Yes yes that's more like it, float."

Blaise walked beside her, occasionally reaching out to correct her posture or the swing of her arms or the tilt of her head. He wasn't demonstrating, much to Ginny's relief. She didn't think she would ever recover from the spectacle of two Slytherins cat-walking. Suddenly reminded of Draco's demonstration, she couldn't help letting out a giggle.

Blaise looked at her, his eyes unreadable. She looked back, and pasted a look of supreme unconcern on her face.

After a few more tries of the "girl walk", as Ginny christened it, Draco finally commented, "Yeah. I think you've got it now. Don't get smug though, keep practising."

"Oh finally. My feet are killing me."

"Stop whining. I suppose, we could teach you how to dance, before you lose that temporary grace of yours."

"Dance? Maybe you missed this bit, but I repeat: my feet are killing me."

Draco shot her a disdainful look, before replying, "Take off your shoes then."

Ginny gaped. What a flaming insensitive asshole!

"If you're worried about the floor being dirty Ms Weasley, you don't have to. The floor is perfectly clean. Professor Snape's extremely big on cleanliness, insists on the dungeon floors be spotless."

Once again, Ginny was startled by Blaise's quiet comment. Sheesh, that boy was extremely unnerving. She growled before plopping down on the floor, and immediately wished she hadn't.

The floor was freezing!

She hurriedly removed her shoes and her socks, embarrassedly stuffing her socks into her shoes, not wanting Malfoy to say anything snarky about the holes in them. Instead, when she glanced up, said boy looked away, his expression unreadable.

"So since Blaise is the one who actually knows the girl's side of the waltz, I suppose I'd have to partner you."

He looked down at her, sitting on the floor, his eyes dark and hooded. He stuck out a hand to her suddenly, and she eyed it suspiciously, wondering what he was up to. Draco sighed in vexation and growled, "Come on. I'll pull you up."

She looked up at him warily, and grabbed his hand. Surprisingly, his hand was warm and dry, the skin slightly callused, probably from Quidditch. She had always thought that he would be literally, cold and smooth, like a snake, and not warm, like a, well like a human. With astonishing strength that belied his lean and slender form, the blond Slytherin hauled her up easily. Once he ascertained that she was firmly on her feet, Draco dropped Ginny's hand like a hot coal.

Ginny rubbed her hand on her skirt anxiously, shifting from foot to foot, as she tried to get used to the chill emanating from the dungeon floor. Taking off her cloak (it had been a present from Fred and George – their shop was doing very well – just a week before, and she was extremely proud of its expensive material, and plus, it was brand new, so she didn't really mind that it was somewhat oversized), she dropped it on the floor next to Malfoy's.

Blaise flicked his gaze between the couple standing in front of him, taking in Ginny's furious blush, matching the colour of her fiery hair, and Draco's mildly discomfited expression.

"So, Draco, your hands go here and here, and Ms Weasley, your feet are aligned thus with his, alternately, yes, and your hands go there. Yes Draco, your hand has to be on her waist."

"Uh Blaise – can I call you Blaise, right?"

"Of course."

"Could you not uh, call me Ms Weasley? Ginny will do thanks."

"Of course."

"And one last thing uh, do I really have to put my hand on his shoulder?"

"I should think so."

Gulping, Ginny hesitantly placed her hand on Draco's shoulder, wincing as he tensed under her touch. Draco, very unwillingly, moved his hand to her waist, and Ginny gave a little yelp when she felt the pressure from his hand.

"Hey hey! That tickles!"

From where she stood, she was at the height where she could easily stare past his shoulder (much to her disbelief, she realised that Malfoy actually was quite tall, a few inches taller than her 5 foot 8), she noted that Malfoy's ears were starting to turn a slight shade of pink. She didn't need a mirror to know that her face was as red as a tomato, probably redder.

"Ticklish are you?"

She looked up reflexively, and was most shocked to notice that he was staring down at her. Meeting his amused slate grey eyes momentarily, she hurriedly glanced away. Damn, now her face was as scarlet as Ron's was when she walked in on him and Hermione doing a little more than just snogging.

Blaise sighed wispily, his melodic voice a blend of mild annoyance and something else she couldn't quite make out – was it amusement – as he commented.

"You know, there is enough space between the both of you for a banana plantation."

Draco hissed back, "So what do you expect us to do? Move closer? For Merlins' sakes, we are already holding hands! Don't be absurd Blaise."

"But Draco, remember formal dance classes? I know it was eleven years ago, but you certainly can't have forgotten everything. You have to be close, maximum one centimetre apart, that was what the teacher said."

"I can't believe you memorise such things... Oh bloody. Do I really have to?"

"I should think so."

Blaise's voice took on a forceful edge. Mentally, Ginny fretted. She didn't want to move closer to this humongous git, even if he did smell nice. But she had to learn to be bad...

Wait a second. What did dancing have to do with learning how to be bad?

"Uh guys, a moment please. What does formal dancing have to do with being bad?"

Still uncomfortably "embracing" Ginny, Draco replied tersely, "Well, you see, generally, you could pick up guys at a party, where there will be dancing. And as you know, we the wizarding community are not really into, what do you call that, oh yes disco-dancing, and mostly the rich affluent people go for formal parties and dinners, where there will be formal dancing to do. And if you do hook a guy, you will probably have to formal dance sooner or later. It's general knowledge you nincompoop."

Ginny took a moment to ponder this new information. Well, he did have a point. Her bad image would probably be shattered if her date or boyfriend invited her to some party and she couldn't dance.

"Okay so I accept that view. But Blaise, do we really have to move closer? He smells!"

So that was a blatant outright lie. But who cared! Desperate times called for desperate measures.

Draco snarled, "I do not smell. If anyone here smelt, it would be you, you filth."

Ginny's eyes narrowed dangerously, and Blaise moved in smoothly before this could turn into a full out brawl.

"Ah let's not quibble shall we. You want to learn how to dance, you listen to me okay?"

He slid silently behind Draco and gave the livid Slytherin a small but firm push. Unprepared, the Slytherin moved forward to keep his balance, his body pressing against Ginny's. His face turned a most un-Slytherin shade of red, as he flushed.

"What the…?!"

"Oh!"

Blaise gave a small satisfied smile, and Ginny could have sworn she saw a trace of sadism flicker past his features. So that was why the Sorting Hat put him in Slytherin, the sneaky bastard.

"So now that that's accomplished, the beat for the waltz is three beats. One two three, one two three. And follow this beat, and the gentleman always takes the lead."

Ginny snorted derisively, Malfoy was no gentleman. Hearing that, Draco's hand tightened on her waist, and she cringed.

Blaise counted for a while, letting her get the rhythm, and then proceeded to instruct her on how to move.

"When he moves his right foot forward – move your foot Draco – your left foot goes behind and then you move in a triangle. Yes yes like that. That's the basic step in the waltz."

Ginny tried this out a few times in succession, as Malfoy moved easily along with her, occasionally piping up with a comment or suggestion.

"Move normally, fluidly. Yes like that. Bend your knees, it's like a wave yeah like that."

Unexpectedly, it turned out to be quite fun. Ginny felt herself relaxing, untensing, as Blaise proceeded to teach her the more complicated steps. She found herself being twirled and dipped by an enormously bored-looking Malfoy, their feet tracing patterns on the floor.

Malfoy was a pretty good dancer, she mused, as they spun in circles dizzyingly. Boy, he had the moves down pat. He had to, she supposed, since he had had dancing lessons as a kid. That was probably where his catlike grace came from.

Just then, she learnt that thinking whilst dancing was not a smart thing to do, as she missed a beat, and tripped over Malfoy's shoes, staggering slightly before falling over, arms flailing, taking the very astounded blond Malfoy along with her.

"Argh!"

Taking a moment to register what happened, Draco's eyes widened incredulously, and he clambered hastily off the redhead. Dusting himself off, he asked, "Uh Blaise? What happened?"

Ginny sat up, and wheezed, trying to get her breath back, which had been knocked out of her when Malfoy had landed on top of her.

Blaise looked them over, the first look of mild intrigue Ginny had ever seen on his face, his eyes flickering. He shrugged, saying in a non-committal tone, "I have no idea. It appeared to me that she tripped over your feet, and then she fell down, taking you with her apparently."

Draco put his hand to his face, rubbing his face tiredly.

"I'm sorry Weasley. I take back what I said. You never even possessed temporary grace."

Ginny looked up apologetically, offering hopefully, "Oops?"

Draco glanced at her, massaging his palms, which had been chafed by the dungeon flagstones when he had held them out instinctively as they fell.

"I just hope I didn't fall for nothing."

He looked skywards, or ceiling-wards and added pleadingly.

"Please let her have learnt the waltz at least. That isn't a lot to ask for... is it?"

Blaise suddenly commented, "You know, it's half past ten now."

Ginny started, earning the curious stares of the two Slytherins.

"What? Oh no! I promised to meet Hermione for my tutoring session at 9!"

Draco smirked, remarking, "Tuition? For which subject? Or what subjects?"

The Slytherin smirked wider when he observed Ginny's immediate reaction, as she stared down at her shoes. He goaded her a bit more, watching her grow even more annoyed.

"For what huh? For what? Oh come on, you can tell me!"

"Oh for Potions okay! I'm practically the female version of Neville."

"Longbottom?" The blonde's tone was dripping with incredulousness. "Merlin, that's really hopeless!"

"Yeah yeah shut it. Plus Snape never really liked me. So shut up now Malfoy."

"We all know that Snape hates Gryffindors. Right, Draco?"

Ginny looked over at Blaise and shrugged.

"He's always PMS-ing. Rather annoying actually."

Draco and Blaise glanced at each other and spoke up at the same time.

"What's PMS-ing?"

Ginny flashed them both a cheeky grin, as she sat down and started to put on her socks and shoes.

"Never mind. You blokes wouldn't get it. It's a girl thing."

Their responses were exactly the same; both their expressions were mirrors of each other, a mix of disgust and awkwardness.

"Oh. Okay."

Tying her laces with one final flourish, she went to grab her cloak.

"Well I'll be going."

"Oh sure go on, shoo. Off to your tuition session with know-it-all Mudblood," smirked Draco.

Ginny spun around and sniffed, "Don't call her Mudblood! And sure, she can be a bit fussy and all, but she's actually a nice person. And I'm not going to the common room yet. I'm going to get food."

Upon hearing that, Draco perked up in curiosity.

"But how? The Hall's not serving dinner anymore."

"You dolt. There's always the kitchens."

"There's a kitchen here?"

"Yes you fool."

"But how do you know where it is and all?"

"In case you've forgotten, my brothers are Fred and George. They snoop around you know. So anyway, I'm off! Eh Blaise, thanks for helping, it was great to meet you. And uh, later, Malfoy. I suppose, since I really have no choice but to see your pointy face sooner or later."

His interest piqued, Draco decided to ignore the barbed comment for once and yelled after her retreating form, "Oi! Wait up!"

Blaise stood in the shadows, observing their conversation with more than a little interest. Hmm, so it was like that.

Draco grabbed his cloak and ran out of the door after the Gryffindor, looking back at Blaise and calling, "See you later Blaise. Thanks! Don't wait up!"

Hearing the footsteps die away, Blaise turned towards the exit and walked off in the opposite direction, deeper into the shadows.

--

"Oi Weasley, didn't we just have dinner a few hours ago? You're hungry so fast?"

"I'm sorry Malfoy, if I was cursed with a fast metabolism and a huge appetite. You have a problem with that?"

"Oh no. Not at all."

The rest of the walk was completed in not totally uncomfortable silence, as Draco peered around inquisitively, committing the route to memory. When they reached the portrait of the bowl of fruit, Ginny paused, and dragged Draco back as he continued wandering past.

"We're here you moron."

"Oh that's nice. So now, uh, how do we get in?"

Ginny rolled her eyes expressively at his deceptive innocence. Reaching out with a finger, she ticked the pear, which giggled back. She stepped back as the portrait opened, conveniently forgetting to inform Draco to move back. As the portrait swung towards him, the Slytherin hurriedly jumped back, narrowly avoiding the (sharp) edge of the portrait. He shot her an annoyed look, snapping sharply at her, "Couldn't have bothered to tell me that it was going to swing open could you?"

She shrugged.

"Oops. Guess I forgot."

"Stupid Weasley."

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that Ferret-boy."

"Shut it."

"I will if you will."

"Young Master Malfoy!"

A shrill gasp rang through the room. Draco turned, just in time to register a grey blur streaking towards him, latching onto his trouser leg. He stared down in bewilderment.

"Dobby? What are you doing here?"

"The great Harry Potter freed me sir!"

"Oh bollocks! Not bloody Scarhead again!"

"Dobby really missed you Young Master Malfoy! Not Master Malfoy sir, but you, sir!"

"That's nice Dobby, but if I could have some pumpkin juice…"

"Yes Young Master Malfoy! And what would Young Master Malfoy's girlfriend want?"

Ginny promptly choked on her spit, inducing great hacking coughs. Draco stared weirdly at her, pounding her enthusiastically on her back.

"Stop that I'm okay! Merlin, you hit as hard as Colin. Uh Dobby, I'll have some of that lovely shepherd's pie we had for dinner please? Oh and some pumpkin juice would be nice too. And I'm not his girlfriend for goodness' sakes. Who would want to be?"

Draco scowled and snarled, "Many girls would die to be my girlfriend Weasley. I'm sorry if you don't see it the same way."

"Shut your gob Malfoy."

"Yes sirs! Dobby will be right back!"

The Weasley and Malfoy continued arguing heatedly as they seated themselves at one of the tables.

"You are such a berk Malfoy! Always so arrogant and stuck-up!"

"Oh and you Weasley? At least I'm privileged enough to be arrogant! It's better than drooling after Potter all the time."

"I'll have you know that my crush on Harry is passé, a thing of the past. Just so you're updated on recent events."

"Oh really. How fascinating! Dear me, Scarhead must be absolutely crushed! (Please do pardon the pun.)"

"Shut your trap Malfoy, before I shut it for you. And that pun was absolutely spastic."

"Ooh I'm scared... Why don't you make me!"

A loud poof interrupted their bickering, and they both shouted simultaneously at the source.

"What!"

A pair of large eyes stared back in trepidation.

"Dobby has your food here sirs. And uh, Dobby will be going. Enjoy your food sirs…"

Another loud poof and a wisp of smoke signalled his disappearance. Ginny straight away dropped their most intellectual debate, instead concentrating on demolishing the pie. As she shovelled pie into her mouth with much relish, Draco commented, "Quite a dodgy place isn't this?"

Swallowing her mouthful of food, she replied, "Who cares Malfoy. I'm here for the food. They make brilliant pie you know. You want some?"

"Uh no thanks. I'm not hungry."

He took a sip of his juice, watching as she chewed on her food. Finally, he remarked, "You know, you could do with better table manners."

"Why? Is it annoying you Malfoy?"

"I don't know… Oh… How about yes?!"

"Sheesh! What's your problem!"

Draco buried his head in his hands, elbows propped on the table, his reply coming out muffled.

"I simply cannot tolerate horrid table manners."

"Stop being so anal about it you prick."

Ginny tapped her finger against her chin consideringly, so that was why he had such a huge hissy fit at breakfast when she was eating.

"I'm not anal about it!"

"At home, if you didn't eat quick, there would be no food left. Not that Mum didn't make lots – she always made tons of food – just that everyone in the family eats really fast, considering they're mostly guys."

"Oh."

"Yeah well."

"I don't care. Next lesson I will teach you proper table manners. You can eat fast with proper table manners too you know."

"Really? Cool."

"I wouldn't say cool. But it's polite."

"You know Malfoy. I haven't said thanks yet."

"For?"

"For agreeing to teach me."

"Well."

"But I must say, you're really quite persistent when it comes to teaching."

"Unh."

Ginny chose to ignore his monosyllabic answers and pressed on nosily.

"But why so persistent? I mean, what's there for you to gain?"

Draco glanced up from his drink, his grey eyes meeting hers with a sort of intensity she had seen only when he played Quidditch.

"Because I don't like to fail."

"Oh."

Another silence persisted, this one slightly more tense. Ginny kept her eyes stuck on her pie, chewing thoughtfully, whilst Draco kept his anywhere but on her. He suddenly placed his glass on the table, and stood up.

"Well I'd better be going. Still have Charms homework to do. Ta Weasley."

And saying so, he left, the portrait swinging back after him, clicking firmly back into place. Ginny turned back to her pie, her mind churning. Then it suddenly occurred to her – they had just had a decent conversation!

She shuddered. A Malfoy and Weasley talking normally? Scary.

But still, she couldn't help reflecting on what he said, before he had left so abruptly. Perhaps, the blond Slytherin wasn't as shallow as she had perceived him to be. Just perhaps.

--

A/N: I'm sorry, really sorry. Meant to update three weeks ago, but life has been absolute hell, and even though this is the hols, I didn't really have time to write because I have been totally bogged down with holiday homework (which really sucks).

So, I felt really guilty, and hence I wrote a longer chapter than I usually do, to make up for not updating.

And now, I feel obligated to inform all of you, that this story's updates will be even more irregular, since my exams will be coming up real soon, and I'll most likely be stuck revising blargh.

Oh and I feel I simply must mention this, Blaise was kind of inspired by Hanajima from Fruits Basket. But only a little… the mysterious part. (:

Thanks go to:

Eve Granger Thanks for reading and reviewing! (: I like Blaise too!

Yingxiangie BLAISE YES BLAISE! Whee! Hahahahaha! -glomps back with equal fervour-

Cinder2004 Hahaha, glad you found it funny. Thanks for reading and reviewing! :D

Slytherin QueenI hope it was fun enough. (: There will be more fun later. Thanks for reading and reviewing!

Bigreader Shh. That's a secret. But, sooner or later we all know that they are going to have to kiss. Haha. Thanks for reading and reviewing! (:

-- To Be Continued --