Hello all. This was written for a friend (the lovely clanmalfoy) a while back. It is a 10x100 on Ginny, hinting at Harry/Ginny, Tom/Ginny, Michael Corner/Ginny and Dean/Ginny, but ultimately a Draco/Ginny, and I hope that you all like it J

Disclaimer: I am really too busy to own them.

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1. "Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can never hurt you." Mum would repeat it when she brushed Ginny's hair a hundred strokes, before her quick fingers would twist the ginger strands into tight braids.

Ginny wore white ribbons in her hair and a smile on her face. And she would watch as Charlie taught Fred and George and Ron to play Quidditch, merely hovering on small play brooms. Still, their feet wouldn't touch the ground, and no matter how high she jumped, she couldn't reach them. They kept their hands on the brooms and never reached down.

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2. She barely remembered Bill, a tall, smiling young man (never a boy) who would visit back when Hogwarts let out. Sometimes he would sneak her a cauldron cake before dinner if she was hungry and he hadn't given them to the others yet.

Charlie ruffled her hair, when he came down, sweaty and dirt-smudged, from playing Quidditch. And then mum would brush it again and pull it back into the tight braids. Fred and George called her Gingerbread, like a flat and sweet cookie. They thought it fit. Percy read fairy tales to her sometimes, or at least started to.

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3. He would never quite finish, because the others would laugh at him for reading Cinderella, and then he would turn red and slam the book shut.

Ron gave her chocolate frog cards, the ones that he had already. He refused to give her the Harry Potter card, though, until mum made him. He said that Harry was HIS age, and she was too young to have it.

All of them loved her, she was told. They kept the sticks and stones away from the little princess. But she never did learn about Cinderella's prince. She pretended that Harry was it.

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4. When she met Harry before her first year, he came as a friend of Ron and the twins. He wasn't much taller than her, and he barely noticed her. He, too, played Quidditch and laughed a bit with the boys. They told her that he'd fought demons and vanquished evil.

She smiled prettily at him across the Gryffindor table, and he didn't notice. The twins laughed at her when her elbow sank into the butter dish. Perhaps words couldn't hurt her (for weren't the magical words in the diary her friend?), but maybe the lack of words carried a sting.

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5. She met another prince in a dream world, a dark knight with mesmerizing eyes like garnets, like wine, like drowning, and her fingers would be that colour when she awoke, cold and languid. His was the gift of words, soft and smooth and delicate as spiderwebs, and she remembered, in between the moments of oblivion, that sticks and stones could break her bones, but words could never hurt her.

But words could hurt, she learned, when Harry, perhaps-a-prince, dragged her into the light after slaying the monster. It was a fairy tale, except she hadn't found happily ever after yet.

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6. She searched for her own happiness then. A dark-haired squire, not quite a prince or a knight. It was nowhere near a fairy tale, but she figured that she was too old for fantasy. It wasn't fair, though, that he expected her to be a porcelain princess even though he wasn't a prince.

And then there was an artistic minstrel, an old friend. It was nice, calm and peaceful, but there was something missing, and perhaps she wasn't the muse he was seeking. It was a love without inspiration, and she let the tiny fire die from lack of warmth.

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7. She exchanged sharp words with Draco Malfoy. An enemy, the dragon from a dark cave full of cursed treasure. Mean, arrogant and cruel, and she knew that she hadn't done anything to HIM.

Perhaps he hated Harry, but it wasn't as though she really had anything to do with Harry. Sister of best friend was a tenuous tie at best, and he had no business to bother her.

She felt a vindictive sense of satisfaction when she hexed him, watching his eyes go wide in shock as her spell took effect.

She didn't expect the shiver down her spine, though.

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8. She became a Prefect in her 5th year, in the grand tradition of her warm and illusion-shiny family. She was a bit more serious than Ron.

She went to her first meeting wondering if Malfoy had recovered enough from the shocking turn of events last year to take fifty points from Gryffindor as soon as she appeared within his sight.

His tactic of choice, however, was to stare silently and unnervingly at her, in an effort to turn her back into the stuttering little girl she was in her first year, and gape at him like she'd stared at Harry.

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9. She saw it as a challenge, and perhaps years of being told lies about sticks and stones and harmless words made her hard, no damsel in distress. She glared back, fire in her eyes, and determined that since she didn't have a prince, she would vanquish the dragon herself. It was a war of wills and wits, and both were determined to win, although with time, the meaning of victory seemed to shift, subtly as a dream.

She was a bit surprised at how easily she grew accustomed to the passionate anger and breathless banter. It was almost like euphoria.

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10. Perhaps it was inevitable, what happened one cold winter day as they patrolled together, sharp words echoing down the halls, bright eyes lighting their way. He'd sneered, and she'd struck out.

He caught her wrist and yanked her close, his grip not gentle, his lips not courtly as they seared hers. It was only a moment before she responded, fierce hands clutching at him as she opened her mouth, not to speak.

In the end, she never knew if sticks and stones hurt more than words, but she did find her fairy tale prince after all, under his beastly disguise.