Nobody fall off their chairs, but it's actually a new chapter. That's right, Downfall is officially off hiatus. Boo, lazy author. Hooray, new chapter! (end shameless rip-off of the Red Stripe commercials) My life has finally settled enough that I feel comfortable getting new work on this done so you all can read it to the conclusion, which is about four to six chapters away.
PS- I recently had a reviewer ask if if I read my reviews. Yes, I read each and every one of them, and I truly value the fact that you all think enough of my story to take the time to send me your comments, whether they're complimentary, constructive or flat-out flames. Even the negative reviews help me to refocus my efforts and put out the best product I am capable of. So- thank you, readers. I'd be lying if I said I wrote this strictly for my own edification- I don't. I'm a review addict, so enjoy the chapter and take a second to tell me what you think of it.
I Thought the Pouty Look Was In Right Now
Ginny had meant it when she told Draco that she wouldn't be kissing him for awhile. At least she had meant it when she said it, but somehow the soft kiss he gave her after she told him he had no talent for plotting melted her resolve.
It was a long time before either of them realised that the pitch had completely emptied and the sky had begun to darken.
- - -
Draco woke the next morning with a smile on his face. "Doing a heinous deed like letting Potter get the Snitch does has its advantages," he said in a mellow voice as he stretched and clambered out of bed.
He padded over to the mirror to collect his towel and toiletry kit so he could go shower. "Bloody hell," he breathed, dropping the towel. "What happened to my lips?"
Draco gazed in horror at his reflection. He took great pride in his lips. They were thin and manly and perfect. Usually. Right now, however, his lips looked like they had met the business end of a billywig. They were swollen and very- "Pink," he groaned. "I have fat pink girly lips."
He desperately tried every spell in his healing book that reduced swelling, to no avail. Dejectedly, he gazed at his face in the mirror as he worked up the courage to go to breakfast like this.
Draco gave his lips one last jab with his wand and managed a weak Deflating Charm that did no visible good. Holstering his wand, he sighed, "No more two hour snogging sessions for you, Ginny Weasley. You're bad for my image."
- - -
Pansy patted his cheek indulgently. "It's not so bad, Draco, they should be back to normal in a few hours. Women pay good money for cosmetic potions to give them lips like that- it's very trendy right now. Besides, some girls like pouty-lipped boys."
Draco expected Blaise's snigger, but not the smile Goyle was trying to hide behind a large glass of juice. He looked around. Several of his housemates were staring at him with unabashed interest. "Oh, sod off, all of you!" he cried defensively. "They're only like this because I drank a bad batch of Pepper-Up Potion last night whilst revising."
"I didn't know Hogwarts was offering an Anatomy and Physiology course," Blaise piped up. "And last time I saw you, that was most definitely what you were getting an intimate knowledge of."
Draco flushed a dull red as Daphne Greengrass' head swiveled towards him. "Who's anatomy were you studying, Draco?" she asked with narrowed eyes.
Settling on the strategy that it was best to attack first, Draco stuck his nose up in the air. "None of your business, Greengrass. It's not like you'll ever have any sort of claim on me."
They glared at one another for at least a full minute.
Blaise leant forward. "Good God, Daphne! Are those your teeth I hear grinding?"
She picked up her cup of tea and said snootily, "Piss off, the both of you," before turning her head and ignoring them completely.
Feeling distinctly put out, Draco looked at the clock. Ten minutes until morning post. Excellent. He nudged Pansy and reached across the table to smack Blaise on the arm. "Mates are such wonderful things, don't you think?"
Pansy gave him a suspicious look. Blaise just sat there with an eyebrow raised.
"Yes, friends are wonderful," Draco mused. "Especially when they feel the need to meddle about in your life. Why do they meddle, you ask?" he said, slapping a melodramatic hand over his heart. "Because they think they know better than you."
Pansy scowled at him. "We do know what's best for you, twit. If not for us, you'd still be whining about how awful Weasley is and pointedly ignoring the sexual tension between you." She stabbed him with a finger. "If not for your 'meddling' friends, you'd still be wanking in your room over that little redhead instead of snogging her senseless like I saw you doing last night."
Flushing, Draco looked around wildly before grabbing Pansy's arm and leaning in close. "Shut up, you stupid cow. Do you want everyone to hear you?"
Blaise sighed. "Draco, have you completely taken leave of your senses? Why don't we all go discuss this in your room or somewhere private?" He rolled his eyes. "I never thought the simple act of kissing could make you dumber."
Draco flushed again. "Right," he said, trying to regain his self-composure. "My room." He stole a glance at the clock again. "Let's just wait until the post arrives."
- - -
Draco took the letter from the owl sitting next to him with some surprise. He knew Ginny had not received her note yet, so it couldn't possibly be her reply.
He broke the seal on the parchment and scanned the contents before letting out a snort of derision.
Dear Mister Malfoy,
Your request to legislate magical human copulation and birth has been carefully considered. We regret to inform you that the practise of eugenics was banned in a unanimous vote by the Wizengamot in 1945.
If you feel very strongly about the topic, perhaps you should notify an elected representative of Wizarding Wiltshire, whose post was established to field such concerns from his constituency.
Again, thank you for taking an interest in your government.
Clancy Sykes IV
Intern to the Assistant to the Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Ministry Public Affairs
"What bollocks," he sneered. "The Ministry's got no teeth anymore, that's their problem. They've got to learn to brush off complaints from the masses of people who feel they're entitled to do whatever they want."
Blaise, who had read the letter over his friend's shoulder, didn't have the heart to point out that the Ministry was doing exactly that.
- - -
Ginny took the note from the school owl. Not surprisingly, it was from Draco.
Sundays are very good for revising in your private room where it's quiet. Lunch, in particular, is an excellent time to get work done whilst everyone else is stuffing their faces in the Great Hall. Good thing some of us have password-guarded rooms. -D
Ginny's lips quirked as she folded the note and put it in her pocket.
"Who was that from?" Hermione asked.
Ginny's startled gaze jerked to the older girl. "Erm, nobody. Well, it's someone, obviously. He wants to go over our notes from History of Magic," Ginny said, desperately trying not to blush.
Hermione gave her an odd look. "Ginny, you're rubbish at History of Magic. No offence, but who would want your help in that class?"
Ginny shook her head. "Oh, no. He wants to help me, not the other way around. Just a note to set up a time to get together. You know, to revise."
Hermione cocked her head. Biting her lip to hold in a laugh, she said, "Oh, I see. It's a study date. Your brother tries to set those up with me all the time."
Ginny made a face. "Oh, ew. Seriously, Hermione, I've told you a thousand times. I refuse to listen to your sordid stories about my brother. Disgusting."
Ginny waited until Hermione was deep in conversation with Harry and Ron before she furtively looked over at Draco. He was staring at her, even though he was clearly talking to Pansy. She glanced around to make sure no one was watching before sticking her tongue out at him. When he smirked, she gave a small nod. Catching his nod in return, she turned to the fifth year sitting next to her. "So, how are you doing prepping for your OWLs?"
- - -
Blaise and Pansy sat next to each other on Draco's sofa, silently scanning the room as Draco fidgeted by the fireplace.
"Well?" Draco burst out. "Will it do?"
Blaise rolled his eyes with an exasperated sigh. "What on earth is wrong with you this morning? You're behaving like a third year Hufflepuff on Valentine's Day."
Draco shook his head and dropped into a chair. Plowing his hands through his hair, he responded, "Hell if I know. She figured out my plan to make her jealous and shouted at me that she wanted a 'nice, simple relationship'."
Pansy's eyes twinkled with amusement. "Yes, well, I can see why she'd do that. Your plans usually are atrocious, you know. Unlike the ones Blaise and I come up with; those actually work."
Draco carefully selected an exploding bon-bon from the box of sweets on the table and threw it at her.
"Hey!" Pansy yelled as it vaporized against her shoulder, leaving a giant brown stain. "You are such a bastard, Draco."
"Maybe," he conceded. "But at least I'm clean."
Blaise drew his wand and shot them both with a Speechless Jinx. "I thought for a minute there that we were in nappies again with all this nonsense. Can we get back on topic, or should I go find something more interesting to do? Because if you two want to have a row, I'd prefer to go inspect some very interesting toys Tracey mentioned acquiring." He removed the jinx when they nodded.
"What kind of toys?" Pansy asked curiously. "You know, now that I think about it, never mind. It probably involves a ball-gag, and that's an image I'd rather avoid, thank you very much."
Draco spread his hands wide. "I'm all ears, Blaise. About the state of my room, not Davis' predilection for ball-gags and other pieces of kink. Let's get this in order so I can kick you out and get some action from someone much better looking."
Blaise huffed, "Weasley may be quite fit, but I'm still prettier than you, Draco. And at least my plans actually work." He stood up and assessed the room. "All right, first thing. Hide that massive bag of beauty creams and the Sleakeasy's. Speaking of, where did you ever find that bottle? I've never seen Sleakeasy's sold by the litre before."
Draco gathered his toiletry kit and Sleakeasy's protectively. "They're not beauty creams, you git, they're a skin care regimen for wizards. I get the Sleakeasy's from my mum. She bribes the production plant to send her litres at a time instead of those piddling little 150 mL jobs." He stuffed both into his wardrobe and shut the doors. "Anything else need fixing, you think?"
"Your brain," Pansy grumbled. A flat glare from Draco had her saying, "Oh, fine. The place is almost acceptable, Draco. I'd just make sure you have fresh linens on the bed and add some candles to help set the mood."
"What makes you the authority on romance, Pansy? Last I recall, your concept of a romantic meal included the phrase, 'Take your trousers off and lie down'."
Pansy hurled an inkpot from Draco's desk at his head. "Draco Malfoy, I am the only serious girlfriend you've ever had until now," Pansy said through lips tight with displeasure. "And still one of your best mates, I might add, despite your propensity for saying things that make me want to castrate you. I know much better than anyone that you are utter rubbish at romantic gestures appropriate for your girlfriend. As said authority, it is my duty to tell you exactly what to do."
"Why is every woman in my life a pushy bint?" he lamented.
"Because you're a weak-willed nancy that needs a firm hand," she replied as she put actions to words and pushed him towards the door. "Now, let's run to the common room and get those candles. Blaise, you stay and change his linens."
Blaise gave himself an exaggerated examination. "That's odd, I could have sworn I was a pureblooded wizard taking six NEWT-level courses, not a mangy little house-elf prancing about in rags."
"Do it," Pansy ordered as she towed Draco from the room by his sleeve.
- - -
Ten minutes later, Draco looked at his room. He had to admit, the transformation was amazing. Soft candlelight added ambiance, as Blaise had pointed out, and Pansy had swept the place clean of its normal clutter of school things. He tried to swallow his annoyance at having to employ his friends to help him create a romantic atmosphere for Ginny's visit. "Good, now get out," he growled as soon as Pansy tidied the last corner.
Both Blaise and Pansy took a menacing step in his direction. "Fine," he said, hastily ducking behind the chair. "I'll say it. Thanks for your help."
Pansy smiled. "Was that so hard? You know, Blaise, I think it was," she said, straightening the bed-hangings.
Blaise reminded Draco as they strolled to the door, "Right. Now go get something to nibble on, since you'll be missing lunch for this pleasant little interlude."
Draco nodded and slapped Blaise on the back. "Thanks, mate."
Pansy gave an outraged little gasp. "What about me?"
He grinned at her. "Yeah, I guess you helped."
She brushed past him. "I hope she kicks you in the balls," Pansy muttered with a dark look as Blaise propelled her towards the door by the shoulders.
- - -
Ginny slid around the corner to the Slytherin statue guarding Draco's room. It had been damned hard to get here without the Slytherins on their way up to the Great Hall seeing her. She stopped in front of the statue and said with a shifty look around, "Potentium."
The stone face creaked loudly before replying, "The Head Boy's friends spoke of a girl coming here for an assignation, but I would never have guessed you. Pureblood witches have no need to whore themselves out, young lady. Word is that there's few enough of you about these days to make you a rare commodity."
Ginny stared at the statue in disbelief. "Did you just call me a whore?" she asked. "Oh, that is absolutely it."
She dug through her pockets, hoping that she had not taken it out yet. "Aha!" she cried in triumph, producing a vial of pink potion. Wasting no time, she dumped it over the statue.
"Now," Ginny said with a grin. "I repeat, the password is 'Potentium'. Open the hell up."
Slytherin's statue managed to arrange its face into the very picture of hatred before it moved aside to allow her into the room.
- - -
Draco rolled his shoulders, trying to work the cramp from his neck without dislodging Ginny.
"What?" she asked, breaking the kiss.
He grinned at her. "Why do women sound so sexy when they're out of breath and husky from desire?"
She pushed herself off of his chest. "Women, as in the plural sense?" she asked, a flash of annoyance in her eyes.
"If I backtrack and say, 'I meant only you, Ginny,' will that get me safely out of the hole I suspect I just fell in?"
She laughed. "No, but if you want to make it up to me, I'd suggest warming up your hands."
He sat up immediately with sudden interest. Hands that need to be warmed up? Is she saying what I think she's saying? I get to touch her chest, don't I? Gods, finally. I've- "What?" he said aloud when he realised that she had been talking.
"I said," she drawled out with exaggerated care, "that my back is really bothering me from a Bludger hit I took in a training session. You can make it up to me by offering me a back rub." She grinned. "But if you'd rather not, I'd understand."
Bloody hell- no breasts then."Of course I will, Ginny. On one condition," he stipulated. At her raised eyebrow, he gave her a cheeky grin. "Ditch the shirt."
Ginny caught the reference to the remark he made in the Potions classroom more than a month ago and smirked as she began to unbutton her shirt. Feeling very wanton, she undid all of the buttons except for the one in front of her bra as she stared him in the eye.
Giving up the battle gracefully, Draco dropped his eyes. "Don't let me delay you," he said to her breasts. "Get on with it."
Ginny smirked to herself. "You are obsessed, Draco Malfoy. For the love of everything holy, they're breasts. Every woman's got a set, and they look approximately the same. I don't see why mine hold such allure for you."
He blinked and looked up at her in disbelief. "They are not all the same, Ginny. Hmph. Shows what you know. Yours are damn near perfect, I'll tell you that. If you want that backrub, though, you'd better undo that button and lose the shirt in the next three seconds. One, two-"
She popped the button through its hole and slid the shirt off of her shoulders in one smooth movement.
He sat silently, staring at her chest for a long moment before saying briskly, "Well, go on then. Turn around and tell me where it hurts."
Ginny turned around and leant forward so he had access to her entire back. "Up between the shoulder blades," she said, wincing when he touched the area.
"You've a bruise," he told her, tracing the round outline of where the Bludger hit her. "Why didn't you go up and have Madam Pomfrey fix it for you?"
Ginny shrugged. "I didn't think it was that bad. It's not really awful, it just aches a lot."
She turned her head and watched him get up to pull a large book from his desk. He thumbed through it on his way back to her.
"Here we are," he said triumphantly. "How to treat bruises."
Ginny craned her neck to look at the page with him. "You know healing spells?" she asked incredulously.
He pulled a face. "Really, Weasley, only a complete half-wit would play competitive Quidditch without knowing at least a few basic healing spells."
She narrowed her eyes at him over her shoulder. "Did you just call me a half-wit?"
He poked her in the back, hitting the bruised area squarely.
"Ow!" she yelped, turning around fully to slap at his hand. "What in the hell did you do that for?" she demanded.
Although he answered her promptly, his eyes were firmly attached to her chest. "Because I think 'half-wit' is the appropriate term for a witch that gets bowled over by a Bludger and refuses to go see the nurse."
Ginny crossed her arms across her chest and huffed, "You know sod-all, Malfoy."
His lips quirked. "Malfoy, is it? You must be cross with me."
Draco heaved a sigh. "Ginny, just turn around and let me heal it, alright?"
She glared at him for another moment before conceding. It'd be bloody counterproductive to refuse his healing out of spite. "Fine."
When he had finished, she experimentally twisted and turned about. "I'll be damned, Draco. Not bad at all."
"Such high praise, Miss Weasley," he said dryly, "would make a lesser man worship you."
"Don't be a prat, Draco. Give us a kiss."
He frowned at her. "I'm still a bit put out with you. Not even a thank you, Ginny."
Ginny shrugged. "Well, if you don't want to kiss a shirtless girl in your room, don't blame me. I offered," she said, reaching for her discarded shirt.
He grabbed the shirt at the same time she did. "No, that's not what I meant," he said hastily, tugging at the shirt.
She tried to yank it from his grasp. "Let go, Draco. You had your chance."
"No," he declared mutinously. "I want that kiss."
"The offer expired."
He scowled at her, shrugged gracefully and released the shirt. "If that's how you want it." When she had swung it around her shoulders and was busy fitting her arms into the sleeves, he pounced forward, knocking her flat on the sofa and looming over her. "Gimme that kiss, Weasley," he demanded with a playful smile.
Ginny tried to glare up at him, but she could feel the corners of her mouth twitching. "Come and get it," she challenged.
"With pleasure," Draco fairly purred, dropping his mouth onto hers with a satisfied smirk.