"She's making calf-eyes at you again."
"And you're telling me this why?"
"Because it's smashing good fun to watch you cringe." Draco sank back into the cushions behind him, a smirk of Gryffindor-taunting proportions gracing his features.
"It's creepy." Harry shuddered slightly.
"You know, we still haven't gotten that diary off of her." Draco stared absently over Harry's shoulder.
"What made you bring that up?" Blaise asked, not looking up from her Astronomy essay.
"Because she's writing in a book, and it looks like she's crossing the entire page so she's probably not annotating it," Draco drawled.
"Well it's not like we can get it off her now," Harry grumbled, trying to get back to his homework.
"Actually, you could try," Blaise retorted, grinning at the absolutely disgusted look on Harry's face.
"She's been making calf-eyes at me since we got here!" Harry hissed.
"Which was what, a week ago?" Blaise smirked in a decidedly taunting way.
"Don't remind me."
"Closer to two weeks, actually." Glancing up from his history book, Greg corrected Harry.
"Oh, well if it was two weeks," Harry grumbled.
"Just go talk to her." Draco gave Harry a gentle shove. "You basically claimed her when you protected her from her brother on the first night."
"I what?" Harry stared at Draco.
"You basically let the entire school know that she was under your protection." Draco blinked. "Didn't you know?"
"No. Of course I didn't know! No one told me!" Harry hissed, if only to keep from yelling.
"Well, it's kind of common knowledge." Draco's voice plainly stated his opinion of Harry's lack of common sense.
"Hello. Muggle raised." Harry was pleased to see Draco flush slightly at that reminder.
"Right. Well, I'll explain it more later, but basically when you defended her you claimed her, which means her well-being is your responsibility, at least in traditional pureblood circles. Of course, it's not a life-debt or anything, but you do have both the right and responsibility to make sure she's settling in well and all that. Granted, she's a Weasley, so she may not know that . . ." Draco trailed off, gazing at the girl huddled in an oft-abandoned chair in a rather chilly corner of the common room. "Or maybe she does." He grinned. "The little Slytherin."
"Did I just hear a fond tone out of you when talking about a Weasley?" Blaise stared at Draco.
"Go check in with her, Harry," Draco said. "Blaise and I'll go check with her roommates."
"We will?" Blaise asked, somehow managing a sarcastic deadpan.
"Of course we will. It's our duty to help Harry!" Draco postured.
Blaise rolled her eyes.
Harry heaved a rather dramatic sigh, absently wondering if he was picking up bad habits from Draco, and shook his head before walking towards Ginny. He was glad she was so focused because it gave him a chance to read over her shoulder, not that there was much to read. Her letters seemed to vanish into the page almost as quickly as she wrote them.
. . . feel so alone though. Sometimes I wish I'd told the Hat to put me in Gryffindor, but Tom, Harry's in Slytherin, and . . .
Harry figured he should interrupt. "Hey, Ginny."
She squeaked, knocked her ink over, and slammed the book closed.
"H-Harry." She whirled to look at him, face a deep red. "You startled me."
"I can see that." He leaned against the arm of the chair and grinned down at her.
"Did you need something?" She regained her composure well, but not enough to stop the blush, or keep him from noticing the way her voice went slightly breathy.
"Apparently there's some custom or other that states that because I protected you from your brother after the welcoming feast I'm now responsible for your well-being. I didn't know this until about a minute ago, but I figured I'd at least come over and see how you're settling in." He refused to shift nervously even as his brain screamed for him to run away from the infatuated female.
"O-oh." She blushed profusely and looked away, increasing Harry's discomfort.
"So, are you settling in well?" Harry really had no clue how to get the diary away from her, and she was clutching it so tightly that he was pretty sure she wouldn't hand it to him if he asked.
"Um. I guess?" She looked down, and he knew she was lying. Well, half-lying. She wasn't even close to being able to pull off a full-blown lie.
"Um-hm. So, why are you hiding all the way over here where the other first years can't see you?" he asked, glancing towards where Draco was standing by a group that encompassed everyone in her year except Ginny. Blaise, for some reason, was walking towards him.
"N-nothing." She rose as though to flee, and Harry had to move quickly to keep her from slipping down the corridor towards the girls dorms.
Harry had never heard Blaise's voice so harsh.
"Then why don't you stop whining at your little diary," she ripped the book from Ginny's hands, "and learn to be a Slytherin, not a bloody nose-wiper with an attitude problem."
"Give that back!" Ginny's yell was loud enough to pull the attention of everyone in the common room.
"No." Blaise glared at her, and she backed down so quickly Harry was sure coercions had been involved. "Go." She pointed towards the other first-years.
"They don't like me," Ginny whined quietly.
"I. Don't. Care." Blaise growled. "You've been nothing but a whiny little bint since you got here."
"Blaise-" Harry tried to interrupt.
"Shut up, Harry. This wouldn't have lasted this long if you'd bothered to ask if your actions would have consequences!" Without waiting for a reply she rounded on the now-terrified first-year. "And you. You wanted to be in Slytherin, and as soon as you get here you start acting like it's our fault you're in unfamiliar territory. Get this through your thick skull: You need to learn how to act like a Slytherin, not a lovesick puppy, and you need to correct your Gryffindorish attitude before you start getting hexed."
Harry watched, not gaping despite his shock, as Blaise took a half-step to the side, giving Ginny room to bolt. The first-year took the opportunity, fleeing down the girl's hall. Across the room the other first-year girls quickly stowed their homework in bags and followed.
"What...was that?" Harry asked, staring blankly towards the girls' dorms.
"Giving them a common enemy." Blaise answered calmly, bumping him with her shoulder to get him moving back towards their bags. Gregory, Vincent, and Kira didn't look like they'd even looked up, and Draco was already scratching away at a fresh parchment.
"I think I need to go practice," Harry said, staring blankly at his bag, though he didn't move.
"Then go. I'll tell Gregory to bring your stuff when he goes to your room." Blaise walked away, leaving Harry with a full head and no clue what had just happened.
He stood there for another minute before shaking off the foggy feeling that had taken over his brain and retreating to his room to grab his violin. He felt disconcerted, adrift. There were so many things his friends expected him to just know, though how they forgot he was Muggle-raised he didn't know. That, added to the masks they put on and took off like articles of clothing, made his brain spin sometimes.
Scales were steadying, simple. Up note-by-note. Down note-by-note. Long notes using the full bow, and short notes using only part. He let his brain shut down, much the same way he did working in Severus' lab. It took a while, but eventually he managed to re-centre himself enough to rejoin the others and finish his homework. He just hoped the night didn't hold any more surprises.