She walked into the Great Hall, still rubbing the sleep from her bleary eyes; the whole house had been up late into the night celebrating their triumph over the very forces of darkness Slytherin, naturally. The first thing she saw when she entered the hall was the group of people clustered around one end of the Gryffindor table, all chattering excitedly. She didn't pay attention to the low, dissatisfied murmuring from the Slytherin table, instead concentrating on the nearest mug of coffee.

Almost there; hopefully no one would see her drinking someone else's coffee. She was just bringing it up to her lips, oh wait, ugh, there was a lipstick print on the rim! Nevermind, it was coffee

"Hey, Ginny, over here!" Colin waved her excitedly over and pressed a fresh cup into her hands.

"Huh." She grunted and dumped her book bag onto the bench beside him and slumped on the table (dimly, she heard the voice in her head that sounded alarmingly like Molly tick her off for 'unlady-like behaviour', but let the other parts of her subconscious knee it in the groin and beat it into submission). She snarled and waved whatever Colin was shoving into her face away.

"Look, I've developed the photos from the Quidditch match!" She managed to sit up and focus on the prints, aided in no small amount by several well-placed, helpful jabs of Colin's wand.

She flipped rapidly through them, then stopped, arrested by one of the pictures in the very middle.

She reached out one arm, her fingers stretching out towards the gleaming Snitch, and suddenly the whole Pitch was a frozen tableau (and not just because it was a photograph, either); Draco, bearing down on the Snitch from the opposite direction, a look of perfect horror written over his look of last-ditch concentration as he tried desperately to urge his broom faster, faster, intent on the small gleam of gold, yet somehow obviously aware of her movements.

Her, red Quidditch robes and redder hair flying out behind her, never tearing her eyes from the fluttering wings but also intensely focused on his approaching form, looking almost absurdly like a parody of the latest Witches' Quidditch League advertisement minus, of course, the eye-shadow; but then again what was the use of having your eyes look shadowy and mysterious when you were covered with sweat and mud?.

Their two teams, clustered around one of the hoops far below, all focusing on their own strategies, not one of them noticing the two key players above them.

The audience in the stands, even further below, all eyes trained not on the main game but on the two of them, straining to make out the small slashes of colour against the unyielding grey of the sky.

And then time sped up again, she grasped the Snitch firmly in her glove, automatically pulling hard to the left to avoid crashing into Draco as he swerved reflexively to the right, face blank, and the audience erupted into screams.

She tore her gaze from the picture and dropped the stack on the table.

"Ginny?" Colin gazed rather worriedly at her; he'd thought she'd whoop at that perfect moment, caught forever, like the rest of the house had done.

"Nice pictures, Colin," She gave him a brief smile, "But I think we're late for Transfiguration."


Strangely enough, she didn't get into any major altercations with any Slytherins that day, until, unfortunately, she ran into Draco.

She swore quietly as she checked the schedule for Prefect Patrols later that week, written out neatly in Hermione's bold distinctive writing.

⥵ think I was going to do? Run back to you and say that yes, I do think we belong together? That no matter what you say, I still want to try this? That even though hell will freeze over before you consider me, that despite everything you said about us not being able to work, I still can't sleep without you?" She spat the words self-deprecatingly.

He opened his mouth to say, "You obviously should have," or "I think we should," or even "I can't either, please, I didn't mean it, " (thereby breaking his record of having gone six years without once using that hateful word), but she cut in.

"Well, fine, Malfoy, I agree! You win this time! We're not going anywhere, we never will, and it was obviously a mistake. I don't know what I was thinking, and I'm sure you can't wait to forget it!" She glared at him.

His mouth shut with an almost audible snap.

"Fine," he muttered rebelliously.

They turned to their respective paths at the fork in the corridor.

"And you're wrong on one count, Draco. You don't win the important ones2u think I was going to do? Run back to you and say that yes, I do think we belong together? That no matter what you say, I still want to try this? That even though hell will freeze over before you consider me, that despite everything you said about us not being able to work, I still can't sleep without you?" She spat the words self-deprecatingly.

He opened his mouth to say, "You obviously should have," or "I think we should," or even "I can't either, please, I didn't mean it, " (thereby breaking his record of having gone six years without once using that hateful word), but she cut in.

"Well, fine, Malfoy, I agree! You win this time! We're not going anywhere, we never will, and it was obviously a mistake. I don't know what I was thinking, and I'm sure you can't wait to forget it!" She glared at him.

His mouth shut with an almost audible snap.

"Fine," he muttered rebelliously.

They turned to their respective paths at the fork in the corridor.

"And you're wrong on one count, Draco. You don't win the important ones, because this obviously isn't that, is it?"

She stalked off, and he couldn't decide whether having her calling him Malfoy or Draco was worse.

There was still residual cheering when she climbed through the portrait hole.

"Whoohoo, there's the Seeker what won us the game!"

The occupants in the room were arranged in their usual manner; Dean and Seamus in a corner, chuckling about something or another, Parvati and Lavender on the sofas giggling over their diaries, and Ron, Harry, and Hermione arranged in the squashy chairs by the fireplace, very subtly at the head of the Common Room, in the best seats and the best position to survey the room.

It struck her with a slight pang that at this moment in the dungeons, Draco was probably lounging in the dark green velvet chaise lounge in the similar position by the fireplace, as he had been the last time she'd sneaked down to meet him.

She managed a twisted smile at everyone's expectant looks and flopped into a chair by the fireplace, beside Ron and Harry.

"Hey Ginny, this picture's absolutely brilliant!" Harry waved the picture that had caught her attention at breakfast at her, beaming, and her cheeks started to ache with the strain. She had to make a concerted effort not to let her heart clench painfully at the sight of Draco's form on his broomstick.

"Yeah. Look, I have some homework to do. I'll see you at breakfast tomorrow."

She gathered her things and hurried upstairs as the three of them stared after her.

Harry cleared his throat. "Was… was it something I said?"

"No, I don't think so, Harry." Hermione patted him reassuringly on the knee.

"I dunno, has she been acting a bit strange to you lately?" Ron demanded, looking worried.

"Nah, 's probably leftover nerves from the Quidditch match."

"Yeah, maybe. And about this picture, I don't like it!" He snatched it from Harry and frowned at it, brows knit together. "It's like… disturbing, the way they're both so focused on one another up there all alone."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "They are the Seekers, Ron."

"Yeah, I know, but how did they know which way the other was going to turn? It was scary the way she managed not to crash into him…"

"Ah, you know she's always been good at manoeuvring through the air."

Ron started to protest again but Harry waved him silent.

"So is she still going out with Dean Thomas?" Harry asked, just slightly too eager, and Hermione had to prevent herself from rolling her eyes.

She could never figure out how it really started, ages ago.

They had been indulging in the usual trade of insults, alone in a corridor where they'd chanced upon one another sometime just before curfew, when suddenly he'd pushed off the wall he'd been leaning on, arms folded casually, and kissed her.

It had been hungry and desperate, and all too familiar for something she'd only ever wondered at, and hardly something to be called pleasant, but she'd surprised both of them when her mouth had opened and her tongue swiped into his mouth. He'd gripped the back of her head, hard, and pressed her in more deeply.

And then it'd been all slick tongues and warm flesh and sliding hands, hands pushing her until her back hit the wall, hands smoothing over robes to slip between robe fastenings and into clothes, then rubbing and grasping and hot breaths and jerking hips and suddenly it was all over and they stood in the hallway, foreheads leaning against one another's as their breaths, coming fast, mingled in the space between them.

She hadn't dared to look up at him, not wanting to see the derision in his eyes, until he leaned down and simply pressed his lips to hers with a surprising gentleness.

Then he'd turned and walked away, not looking back, and she'd thought that was the end of it.

Until, that is, the next time she saw him and suddenly his pointed nose wasn't too bad when she thought of it pressing slightly into her cheek as their lips moved on each other's, and his paleness less abhorrent when she thought of the few glimpses she'd caught of the skin under his robes.

He must have felt her looking, because when he swivelled his head and glanced in her direction, he didn't look surprised to see her eyes on him, and simply gave her an indecipherable look before turning back to his pudding.

He followed her out of the Great Hall and into an alcove behind a suit of armour, and responded with all due enthusiasm when she pulled his head down to meet hers.

A series of clandestine meetings had followed; secret visits of the respective dorms, rendezvous in the Potions classroom. They'd never gotten caught; Draco had, after all, an Invisibility Cloak that came in quite useful, and her Silencing Charms were really rather effective, even if she did say so herself. They came across other couples quite frequently; once she'd even been severely traumatised by the sight of Ron snogging Hermione.

In public he was cold and indifferent; by a silent agreement, they'd decided not to let anyone know. She avoided him and in turn he agreed never to call Hermione a Mudblood (she'd had to soothe him with plenty of kisses just to secure his agreement on this one).

She always thought it odd that they only started really talking (other than, of course, everyday, cursory, run of the mill small talk such as "Did anyone see you come down?"), for the first time in the six or seven years they'd known one another, sometime into the third time they met.

When it first started they'd simply meet, and kiss and touch, until the explorations got bolder and bolder and she started considering that maybe he was the one who was worth the first time; they'd never got a chance to, though, despite the many other things they'd done.

She realised that her skin was just as pale as his, and was so enamoured with his skin that she often spent hours tracing out patterns on his shoulder blades, and his back, from his collarbone all the way down to his stomach. She loved his hands, and his strong square nails, so at odds with his elegant fingers. 'Made to touch you with,' he'd once whispered into her neck when she was playing with his hands, and she'd blushed and been buoyant for the rest of the week. It was one of the few sentimental things he'd ever said, and she hoarded them away like the few pretty things she owned, each one sparkling brilliantly in her mind's eye.

She'd just begun to forget that he was, despite everything, still a Malfoy, when it happened. She'd begun teasing him about Pansy's attachment to him when he suddenly told her, flatly, that fiancées generally were, and she'd stared at him open-mouthed before scrambling off him where they'd both been lying comfortably on his bed, and left his Prefect's room, slamming the door behind her.

Even now, she couldn't bring herself to believe that he hadn't come after her.

The next time they spoke was at the first Quidditch match of the year, between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw. It was two days after she'd stormed out of his room, and which had meant two days of insomnia for her. He sought her out in the Astronomy Tower where she'd once confided that she used to sneak to watch Quidditch games; you had a clear view of the pitch and were perhaps even closer to the players. Colin had offered to join her but she'd waved him away, telling him that she needed to be alone for a while.

He had dark circles under his eyes as well; from shagging Pansy senseless, she thought bitterly, as she stared malignantly at him.

"Here to explain yourself?" She felt a twinge of relief that she'd managed to prevent her voice from cracking.

"Hardly, Ginevra," he answered coolly as he sat down beside her.

"So why are you here, then? Come to appreciate the play of light on the moons of Jupiter? Oh, wait, sorry, it's in the middle of the day."

"I'm here for the same reason you are. To enjoy the Quidditch Match. Rubbing shoulders with the crowd in the stands doesn't agree with my constitution." He shuddered delicately.

She snorted and tried to pretend he wasn't inches away, just waiting for her to reach out and cure the ache in the bottom of her throat.

"You know, Weaslette, we could never have worked out anyway." She was surprised by the faint note of bitterness in his voice.

She rounded on him anyway. "Yes we bloody well could have! If we'd just tried…" Her voice trailed off and all she could do was gaze miserably at him.

"No we couldn't. Did you presume to think that my family would even consider allowing you to become a Malfoy? You might belong to a pureblood family but you don't have a penny to your name! Potter might have defeated the Dark Lord but my parents think your family is filth, Weasley. I hardly think they'd look upon the alliance favourably. And how would my marrying you benefit the Malfoys?"

She had frozen in anger when she heard the term "Muggle-lovers", but when he said that he thought her family filth bile rose in the back of her throat and she couldn't speak. She tried to put the fact that he'd considered marriage to her, even just to see the disadvantages of doing so, at the very back of her mind.

"I received an owl from my father informing me of the engagement just recently. You and I are not going anywhere and we're not going to last long; we might as well put this sorry excuse for a relationship to a humane end." When her arm jerked involuntarily against his, he gazed down at her in surprise.

"What, did you think we belonged together? That we were fated to be? That this was something other than an error in judgement?" The sneer on his face told her just what he thought of that.

She got up and left, not turning back; she didn't trust herself not to cave and tell him that she didn't mind that they wouldn't last, didn't trust herself not to throw herself at his feet and grovel.

And that had been it, as far as their relationship was concerned. She had managed to avoid him until the Quidditch match, two weeks later; they had, after all, no friends and almost nothing in common. And even though her nocturnal sneaking out of the tower had ended, she was somehow getting much less sleep than before. Other than that, and the snapping at anyone who spoke to her, and the inattention in class she had to make up for by studying every minute of her spare time, and the odd crying fit which, if she was perfectly honest, came over her about twice a week, she thought she was coping with everything remarkably well.

Then Valentine's Day drew alarmingly close on the horizon. She could only be thankful that they hadn't survived to see this day; she told herself that the lack of presents, of romantic words, of iany/i sort of confirmation from him would only be heartache for her.

Dean Thomas asked her to go to Hogsmead with him, but she turned him down. So soon after someone as spectacular as Draco, she didn't think she was ready to handle a normal pleasant Gryffindor boy.

She was sitting curled up in the Common Room brooding over it, a Potions book in her lap, when she looked around and noticed that it was late enough for the fire to have burned down low, and for almost everyone to be in bed by now. The only ones left in the Common Room were Harry and her. She glanced across at him and, starting, saw that he was watching her.

He moved to sit beside her on the sofa when he saw her look up at him.

"Hi, Harry," She paused for an uncomfortable moment, "It's late, we should be getting to sleep."

She made to get up, but he grabbed her wrist.

"Could we just sit here for a while and… talk?" Harry mumbled, looking down at his lap.

She sat down, looking uncertainly at him. He didn't let go of her wrist.


She looked at him. Her heart was beating uncomfortably and she had an awful presentiment she knew what was coming next.

"Would you like to come to Hogsmead with me on Valentine's Day?" He spoke fast, the words tumbling out in a rush, and for a moment she almost convinced herself that she didn't hear him correctly.

She looked away from his searching eyes, which, though nice in their own way, weren't that odd shade between grey and blue.

She had rejected Dean because he was too ordinary, but Harry was hardly that. Besides, he was the antithesis of Draco in every way. He was exactly what she had though she'd wanted; perhaps he might be able to make her remember what every good little Gryffindor girl was supposed to be looking for.

But maybe she needed some more time after Draco. She had just started to say so when Harry spoke again, hastily.

"I don't mean to put you in an awkward situation. Just… just think about it, okay?"

The least she could do was favour him with a smile. She couldn't bring herself to, but Harry didn't seem to notice.

The next day at breakfast, she decided to turn Harry down. She told herself that this was in no way due to the fact that when she came in, Draco looked up at her and didn't immediately turn back to his friends, instead gracing her with another one of his unreadable looks.

She couldn't get much down. The milk was too thick, the toast too dry, everything else choked her. She went over to where Harry was seated on her way out of the Great Hall.

She opened her mouth to speak, but her eye was caught by the sight of a head of silvery blond hair inclining. She watched with dull fascination as Draco whispered something in Pansy's ear, pointing at Ginny and Harry, and Pansy broke out into malicious laughter.

"Harry," she was surprised by how firmly cheerful her voice sounded. He didn't hear her.

"Harry," she tried again. He was engaged in animated conversation with her brother and didn't notice.

"Harry! I'll go to Hogsmead with you on Valentine's Day!" she yelled, scowling. Draco had never ignored her.

Rather unfortunately, her latest attempt to catch Harry's attention coincided with one of those chance lulls in general conversation level. Everyone in the Hall turned to look at the both of them, and she turned bright red, not daring to look at the Slytherin table.

Harry was beaming, oblivious to the stares. "That's great, Ginny! I'm really looking forward to it!"

The whispers had started, with a few rude fingers pointing in their direction. She fled.

Ginny always thought that she had the worst of luck. She was proven correct when they had the misfortune of meeting Draco and Pansy on the way back from Hogsmead.

The date had been awkward, to say the least. He seemed to have developed the habit of gazing admiringly at her with a gormless look on his face that she found exceedingly irritating, to say the least.

He seemed to have everything planned; first, they went to the sweetshop, where the proprietors kept winking at Harry and giving her knowing looks. Then they went to Honeydukes, where everyone gawked. He kept asking her where she wanted to go to, if she was fine, if she was enjoying herself, and she kept having to reply politely, non-committally. They ran out of things to say in the first five minutes, and he seemed content to gaze at her silently, so she had to keep a steady stream of meaningless small talk going. She couldn't help thinking that Draco and her always had things to talk about, and sometimes they were content to lapse into comfortable silence.

They sort of hung around aimlessly for a bit, until Harry said it was almost time for them to be getting back, to which Ginny promptly gratefully agreed with.

And that's when they met Draco and Pansy. Pansy had been hanging adoringly off Draco's arm, while Ginny had been laughing, slightly too enthusiastically, at a joke Harry had just made, glad for something to fill the silence with.

They rounded a corner and came upon each other. Icy silence prevailed after Draco and Ginny had caught sight of each other. Harry, not noticing the tension and thinking that the main conflict still involved him, huffed and took Ginny's hand protectively. She willed herself not to tell him that she didn't need protection from the Big Bad Malfoy anymore.

Draco's mouth tightened when he saw Ginny's hand in Harry's, but didn't say anything. She was just thinking that they were going to be able to get through this without saying a single word when Draco whipped his head round to face them as they passed each other.

"I see you finally caught who you've been meaning to, Weaslette," somehow he'd never sounded so nasty.

"For your information, Malfoy, I asked her to come to Hogsmead with me. And not that it has anything to do with you, but I've finally realised what I've been missing," Harry valiantly stuck up for Ginny. She hadn't liked him this much all day.

His eyes had narrowed; never a good sign.

"And while you were missing it, Potter, guess who's been enjoying it?"

She gaped at him. Then she turned to Harry and pulled his head down and kissed him quickly, hopefully before he registered what Draco had said. He was clumsy, and she hoped that was due to surprise because it looked like she was going to be stuck with him for a while. She didn't seen Draco clenching his fist.

"You're really sweet, Harry. Let's go before this wanker," Harry looked surprised even over his glazed look; he'd never heard her swear, "ruins our perfect date."

She smiled sweetly at Harry, shot a dirty look at Draco, sneered at Pansy, and dragged Harry off, resisting the urge to wipe her mouth with the back of her hand.

'Stupid idiot hasn't even bothered to change the password of his portrait,' she thought, as she pushed open the portrait and climbed into Draco's room, carefully shutting it behind her.

Then she turned around and froze.

Draco was tucked into bed, but he wasn't sleeping. There were two spots of colour dancing high on his cheeks, he wasn't wearing anything under the sheets, and his hand was in a very, very bad place, where it had obviously been quite busy just a moment before. He stared at her, white-lipped.

"What the hell are you doing in here, Ginny?"

She noted that in times of stress, he reverted to 'Ginny' as though it were the most natural thing in the world.

"I came here to find you," she said carefully, making sure to keep her eyes trained on his face and not… not lower.

She took his robe from his wardrobe, where it usually hung, and tossed it to him.

"I needed to speak with you." She sat on the foot of the bed, watching him intently.

He took the robe and waited for her to turn around.

He coughed.

"Oh, sorry. It's not like it's anything I haven't seen," she sighed as she turned.

He got off the bed and put it on, making some discreet adjustments as he did so. Seeing her sitting on his bed as she used to was not helping matters.

"Right, what is it, Weasley?" He tried to sound long-suffering as he climbed back beneath the sheets, with a fair amount of success.

She pinned him with a look.

"We have to come to an agreement of some sorts."

"What about?" he was never very good at feigning innocence.

"You know very well what! If you tell Harry, I will make sure everyone in this castle knows that you've been snogging a Weasley." She hissed, well, hissily.

He looked alarmed.

"No need to get nasty, Weasley," he said smoothly, "Let's discuss this rationally."

"No, what we have to do is discuss this quickly," her lip was still curled dangerously, but she looked slightly mollified.

"All in good time, all in good time. What exactly are you looking to get out of this?"

She thought for a moment, pulling her legs up to sit cross-legged on the bed.

"I want," she said slowly, "for you not to tell anyone about us. I want to pretend none of this happened; no, actually I don't want to go back to insulting you, I want us to ignore each other. I want you never to speak to me again." She looked away, at the desk in the corner of the room, at the thick green carpet on the floor, anywhere but at him.

His heart clenched as he thought indignantly, 'She's trying to write us off.'

"All I want is for you not to tell everyone. Which I think means I get to demand something extra, just to be fair, right Weasley?"

She rolled her eyes as she shifted to the head of the bed so she could lean back on the headboard.

They ended up sitting almost companionably side by side.

"Whatever you say, Malfoy."

"Right. I want you not to date Potter."

She looked blank for a moment before a disgusted expression crossed her face.

"What? Sorry, Malfoy, but no."

"Why not?" He realised, somewhat belatedly, that he was pouting, but didn't bother to school his features into an expression more acceptable for a Malfoy. If she was going to be childish about this, then so was he.

She didn't know why either. In fact, in all honesty, she probably would have gotten rid of him soon anyway. But it was the principle of the thing, wasn't it?

"Why do you even care, Malfoy? It hardly has anything to do with you now. It's not as if you weren't just fantasizing about Parkinson just now."

"Don't tell me you actually want the lumbering idiot around!", he'd looked momentarily embarrassed at her last sentence.

She shrugged.

"You haven't answered my question."

He cut in before she finished speaking.

"Are you planning to snog him?" His voice cracked as it rose and she couldn't stop herself from laughing, strained though it sounded.

"It's not the sort of thing you plan." She thought about it for a moment. "But I suppose that, if the eventuality came up, I would."

His eyebrows rose.

"He wouldn't know where to put his nose! He'd probably end up biting your lip or… something," he ended lamely.

"At least he likes me. At least I know he'll take good care of me. At least he wouldn't break up with me for no discernable reason!"

"Is that what you're looking for? Someone who'll hang off your every word and worship the ground you walk on? Someone who will take good care of you? I thought better of you." He sounded slightly incredulous.

"No you bloody well didn't! You…!" she forced herself to calm down, "No. Not that."

"Then I'm afraid we haven't got an agreement, Weasley."

"Anyway what exactly is wrong with settling for Harry? Aren't you settling for Parkinson?"

He shrugged and looked, briefly, annoyed.

"That's beside the point, Weasley!"

"Oh? Then what is the point?" she raised an eyebrow and he was reminded disturbingly of himself.

"That I don't want you to date Potter! Anyone else but that smug idiot!"

"It's really got nothing to do with you, Malfoy."

She looked sideways at him and thought, simultaneously, how much she wanted to kiss his trembling lower lip and slap that stupid expression off his face.

She sighed.

"Anythingelse that you want, Malfoy?"

He eyed her speculatively.

"And you can safely assume that any requests for sex will not go down well."

"Oh, you know me too well." he smirked as he replied absently.

She drew her legs up, hugging them to her chest, and leaned her head back on the headboard. They sat there in reflective silence.

"How did we come to this?" he sounded tired and put-out, and she felt impulsively like hugging him.

"Well, I think this was pretty much inevitably when you said you thought my family was filth," she was unable to prevent herself from sounding petty.

"Quote me correctly, Weasley. I said my parents thought so."

"Because we're Muggle-lovers?"

"Because you're poor. Obviously, Weasley."

"As if that really matters in the grand scheme of things!"

"Parkinson has a twenty-thousand Galleon dowry."

She looked disbelievingly at him.

"And granted, her lineage might not be quite as impressive as yours, but Malfoys just don't marry Weasleys."

"Lilith Malfoy married Samuel Weasley a hundred years ago, with the blessing of both their families. Stop lying, Draco! What is it really?"

There was a beat of silence.

"… my father says that he'll cut off my inheritance if I don't go through with the engagement." Draco said quietly, so much so that Ginny had to strain to hear him.

"Oh." he nodded at her quiet exhalation, not looking up at her.

"Oh. Well if you don't think that this is worth, what, a couple of thousand Galleons, then who am I to say anything?"

"I've seen how the poor live, Weasley!" he flushed angrily, almost yelling, "And you can call me a coward but I refuse to live like that! So it might have been you I was thinking about just now, but if it means losing you, then sorry, but I'll take it! How do you know that in twenty years time we'll still want to be together?"

"I don't," she whispered, and got up to leave.

She was halfway through the portrait hole when she heard him speak.

"Alright, I'll do what you ask," he said dully, and she didn't turn back.

(A/N "I hate it when characters won't listen to me! They just go and say and do things that make the plot bunnies cry in pain and anguish! But PLEASE review anyway," I say, and look despondent)