Discalimer: You caught me — I own nothing.
Dedicated to my rawkin' beta, Anna the Awesome, to whom I own everything good about this story. -lol-
Flight of an Angel
Many members of the Order had begun to reside in the Black House permanently over the past three years. Especially after Voldemort had continually gained support in the community, either by force or other Slytherin means. Of these members were the Weasley twins, who couldn't stay in their own flat safely; as well as Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley, who were training with both Mrs. Weasley and Madam Pomfrey to become mediwitches.
But the most shocking person that had shown up on the steps of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place was one Draco Malfoy.
Malfoy, it appeared, was now on the side of good in this battle and was trying to redeem himself for any past sins. He had changed sides the night he had tried to kill Dumbledore. He had stood in the lightning struck tower before the man, planning to kill him, but shaking so badly that it almost hurt. When Dumbledore had offered him protection, Malfoy had taken it, and joined the right side that very night.
"... We can hide you more completely than you can possibly imagine. What is more, I can send members of the Order to your mother tonight to hide her likewise... Your father is safe at the moment in Azkaban... When the time comes, we can protect him, too." ¹
Of course, Ron had been extremely skeptical about the whole thing, saying they were all mental for believing Malfoy could be good. To everyone's great surprise, Harry had been the one to defend Malfoy and his mother (as Lucius would rather be too proud to accept help when it was offered). That had been the deal breaker for most everyone, though Ron was still wary of the blond teen.
Tonight, though, neither Ron, Hermione, nor Harry were residing in Grimmauld Place. They had left the summer after their sixth year on a mission to 'find something that would do some good against Voldemort.' Currently, no one had heard from the three friends in a good two months and many were distraught over it... Ginny Weasley, for one, was very worried about her brother and friends.
Luna patted her friend's shoulder and tucked her magazine away. "You shouldn't worry so much."
Ginny sighed and nodded, knowing the blond was right. "Okay, Luna," she smiled slightly, "I'm gonna head up to bed."
"Okay, good night, Ginny," Luna replied dreamily, resuming her reading.
The redhead made her way up to her room on the second landing, and began to change out of her jeans and t-shirt. Ginny froze with her t-shirt half-way over her head as the candles in her room flickered and went out.
"That's not good," she whispered to herself, tugging the shirt back down and reaching for her wand.
It wasn't on her desk. What the bloody hell is going on? she thought anxiously. She froze once again as the door creaked open and a figure stepped into the room. She could just barely make out the lean frame of a young man. Nothing that would set him apart from any of the men that ran in and out of the safe house every day, though. It could be anyone, even one of her own brothers.
Draco stood outside the door of Ginevra Weasley's room, listening as she moved about inside. He could never tell anyone how his thoughts had been plagued by the youngest Weasley for the past year (except, maybe, Blaise). Ever since the night her brothers had slipped him one of their classic tricks, a Nosebleed Nougat, and she had cursed them with both jelly legs and boils. Unfortunately, it had been one of those sweets that needed the kinks worked out, so he had bled for about two hours nonstop.
But she had stood right there next to him, holding a cold cloth over his nose, laughing when Fred grabbed George to help him stay standing, only to have his twin scream when he grabbed a particularly nasty boil. Draco didn't believe he'd ever seen anything so funny.
He'd thought it very strange, her kindness towards him. At least, that amount of kindness. She had always been rather civil to him, treated him better than most of the residents of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place. But she'd never been quite so kind to him. Although, it was probably inspired by the twins' refusal to manufacture another Extendable Ear for her after her mother confiscated her own.
He was pulled out of his thoughts when he heard someone coming up the stairs. Thinking fast, he whispered a quick spell so that all the light in her room was quickly extinguished, and stepped inside. He could just barely see her in what little moonlight was seeping through the window. She was standing in a pair of jeans and her t-shirt.
"Wh-who is it?" she called defensively, though her voice shook a bit.
Draco sincerely doubted that she would appreciate him blowing out her light and sneaking into her room. He couldn't tell her it was him, and then come up to kiss her goodnight. But he couldn't very well say it was someone else and have that backfire on him...
Ginny stared across the room, straining to the figure in the dark. Merlin, she wished she had her wand! She felt fingertips brush against her face, soft and gentle. She stiffened instantly, feeling the man's cool breath on her face.
"Who are you?" she whispered, searching the darkness for a face.
He slid his hand to the base of her skull, pulling her face up to his own. Ginny looked up to where his eyes should be, feeling unease twisting her stomach up in knots. Who did the chap think he was, anyway? Trying to kiss—
The young woman felt some of the unease in her stomach dissolve, but confusion arrived in its wake. Why would Malfoy come up to her room? What the bloody hell was going on?
He kissed her; full and hungry, lips smashing into her own. She felt her breath rush from her lungs with a gasp, as though she'd just been hit in the stomach by a Bludger. He took her parted lips as an invitation, slipping his silky tongue between her lips to tangle with her own. She let her eyes close, leaning into his tender kiss.
This is so wrong. The thought itself didn't appear in her mind until Draco pulled away from her. His lips seemed to have that effect on her thought process. As she looked up at him, she could sense his sadness, his reluctance to stop.
"I'm sorry." His lips were next to her ear now, barely above a murmur.
Ginny couldn't find a way to tell him whether he should or shouldn't be. He left, leaving her standing there in the darkness of her room. She touched her fingers to her lips, trying to slow her hammering heart. She felt something akin to guilt blossoming in her chest. What was she doing? Kissing Draco Malfoy while Harry was out risking his life? What was wrong with her?
The next morning she told Luna what had happened, and the blonde smirked in a very un-Luna way, sipping her tea.
"Seems you've got an admirer, then," Luna said.
"Yes, yes, but what about Harry?" Ginny asked, eyes wide and confused. "We're still, y'know…"
"No, actually, I don't. Didn't he break it off to 'protect you'?"
Ginny got the feeling she was rubbing off on Luna. "Well, yes, but we—"
"You nothing. What do you think of Malfoy?"
"He's a right little bastard."
"Ginny. What do you really think of him?"
"Why, I suppose he's a bit on the pretty side. Charming. Self-centered, arrogant, obnoxious… witty and clever… I don't know!"
Luna just gave her that smirk again. "I suppose you ought to talk about it with him then, not me."
"I can't stand you sometimes, Luna."
Ginny was folding laundry at the kitchen table when she decided she probably ought to take Luna's advice and talk to Draco about last night's events. What would she say, though? What if he said that it was simply a mistake and left it at that?
What do I care if that's how he felt about it? she thought incredulously. It's not as if I really wanted him to kiss me. Harry and I are… together? Are we still together?
Ginny chewed her lip thoughtfully, wondering at the question. Did Harry still want to be with her? He'd seemed to like her well enough, seemed to be reluctant to leave her here… Would he come back for her? How would this thing with Draco affect that? What was this thing, anyway?
She sighed, tossing the sheet she was trying to fold back into the basket. She needed to talk to Malfoy. Ginny picked up the wicker basket, heading up the stairs to find the blond. She needn't go so far, however, since Draco was standing in the doorway of the kitchen.
She wondered how long he'd been there.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, startled by his sudden appearance. "I was just about to… uh, that is…"
Ginny fumbled over words as she felt a blush spreading across her cheeks, creeping up to her hairline. She hated when she got embarrassed. Draco Malfoy, however, seemed to find it quite amusing. He stood there, in the way of her path, with his arms crossed and a smirk on his face.
"Alright there, Weasley? Sounds like you're about to swallow your tongue."
She snapped her mouth shut, slamming the basket back onto the table angrily. How dare he! she thought indignantly.
"Why, of all the nerve!" she shouted, her embarrassment fading in comparison to her anger. "Just don't you worry yourself with the welfare of my tongue!"
Draco uncrossed his arms, dropping the haughty façade. "Ginny—"
"No!" she retorted, her anger fiercely burning in her eyes. "You think you can just run about, kissing girls and then making fun of them the next day? Just because not all of us could afford to have elocution lessons! I swear, Malfoy, if you aren't the most arrogant, pompous ass in the entire wizarding world—"
"Bloody hell! Would you shut it already!" he barked. "It was only a bloody joke, you silly bint!"
"Don't call me a bint, you ponce!"
"Don't call me a ponce, you freckled nutter!"
"You greasy, arrogant snake!"
"Hypocritical, self-righteous Gryffindor sheep!"
"Death Eater clone!"
Malfoy flinched. Silence followed her proclamation.
Ginny stared up at him with narrowed eyes, hands in fists at her sides. The distance between them had somehow become much smaller. His angelic face looming above hers, his calm façade shot to bollocks now. She silently berated herself for thinking their kiss could have changed anything between them. They were so different! They were blood enemies! She was suddenly surprised to find she had been civil to him this long.
They were both breathing heavily, eyes boring into each other's faces. How she hated him at that moment!
Then, without warning, his lips crashed against hers. Ice water flooded through her veins with his kiss, cooling the fire that had stirred at their argument. His lips were firm, pressing to her own without demand, as though he didn't need brute force to get what he wanted. He was just like that kiss in every way. He was firm, but not rough. He needn't force upon her what he wanted. He simply expected it.
Ginny found herself smiling into his pale lips.
In the weeks following that day, Ginny found herself kissing Draco Malfoy more and more frequently. In the backyard, the broom closet, the hallway, in her room, in his room, even in the bathroom late one evening. It was like she couldn't help but respond to his kisses and caresses the way she did.
Today, however, found Ginny sprawled across Draco's bed on her stomach, her family's worn copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard open in front of her. The book was a tatty old thing, passed down through her mother's side of the family for the longest time. It was thin, bound with tattered dragon hide, and hand-written in a scrawl decipherable only by those that already knew the stories but needed a reminder of the plot. She had the book carefully opened, her tender eyes skimming over the page as she retold the tale in her mind.
'…This well-beloved wizard lived to a goodly age, then died, leaving all his chattels to his only son. This son was of a very different disposition than his gentle father. Those who could not work magic were, to the son's mind, worthless, and he had often quarreled with his father's habit of dispensing magical aid to their neighbors.
'Upon the father's death, the son found hidden inside the old cooking pot a small package bearing his name. He opened it, hoping for gold, but found instead—' ²
Her concentration was broken by Draco stepping out of his bathroom in his underwear, a towel slung languidly about his shoulders. A slow blush spread over her cheeks as she took in his lean Seeker's body from the corner of her eye.
Draco ruffled his hair with the towel, drying it without magic in what she was sure was an effort not to fry his follicles again. Ginny smiled, remembering his over-zealous wand-waving one day when he was in a hurry that had resulted in a hideous, frizzy, platinum puff that was laughingly referred to as his hair.
"What are you smiling at over there, Red?" he asked, his own half smile in place.
She shook her head softly, her gaze falling back to the text in front of her. Ginny caught him shrugging to himself out of the corner of her eye, which made her smile a little broader. She continued to glance subtly back and forth between the book and the fair-haired wizard as he pulled on the rest of his clothes, catching sweet glimpses of his toned torso and strong arms, causing butterflies to flutter up a storm in her belly. She was so preoccupied trying to hide her blush and concentrating on the book that she didn't notice him make his way across the room.
"What's this?" His slender hand reached out and flipped the book's cover up into view. "'The Tales of Beedle the Bard'… Which one are you reading?"
"'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot,'" she replied, turning back to her page gently, mindful of the aged book.
"Oh … seems a bit out of step with your views, though."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the Muggles in that story are all torch-bearing brutes and the Hopping Pot protects the wizard from them."
"What?" she asked, her brow pulled together in a furrow. "No, that's not how it goes at all. The proud, bigoted wizard refuses to help the Muggles after his father dies, and then the Hopping Pot punishes him until he finally changes his ways."
Draco's face took on the look of a confused puppy, all scrunched up with his head cocked to one side. "What copy of Beedle are you reading?"
"One of the first ever published, Draco. What rubbish did your parents read to you?"
He tugged the book from her grasp and held it up for his own inspection of the text. After a moment, Ginny saw his face become somehow even more confused.
"This is very odd," he murmured. "Why would the stories be so different?"
"It's obvious, though, really," she replied, the answer coming to mind quickly. "Beedle was preaching the message of brotherly love between Muggles and wizards in the worst possible age, so they censored the story."
"Because what self-respecting pure-blood family would let their children read a story like that?"
"Exactly," Ginny affirmed.
"So how does this one go?" he asked, sitting down on the bed beside her.
Ginny smiled at him. "I'll read it to you, if you want; it's not very long."
"Sure," He nodded, shifting into a prone position beside her. "I'd like that."
Ginny's smile widened a bit as she turned the page back to the beginning of the story. "'There was once a kindly old wizard who used his magic generously and wisely for the benefit of his neighbors. Rather than reveal the true source of his power…'" ³
"Did you know Malfoy is leaving?" George asked as he entered the kitchen, soon followed by his twin.
Ginny and Luna both looked up from their tea, wide-eyed and confused.
"What?" the two young women asked in unison.
"Yeah, he's gotten a mission from Dumbledore," Fred elaborated.
"He's shipping out tomorrow with his cousin, Cassius something-or-other, and a couple of Slytherins."
"Well, that's surprising," Ginny murmured. "When is he coming back?"
Ginny bit the inside of her cheek ponderously, thinking on her current situation. Why was everyone suddenly rushing off to battle? Everyone, it seemed, except for her. She was eighteen years old and still being treated like a child. Soon she'd be the only one left in the safe house.
She pushed the eggs on her plate around with her fork, chin propped precariously on her hand. Why didn't anyone see that she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself? Why did everyone want to keep her safely at home? Her mind was a whirlwind of 'why, why, why's.
The most important question floating through her brain was what was going to happen with her and Draco now. Was there anything between them, other than a bit of frequent tongue-tangling?
She looked across the table at Luna. The blond gave Ginny a wide-eyed look that was filled with sadness and uncertainty. It was clear that Luna knew her friend's thoughts, but had no advice on the matter. Ginny was on her own.
She pushed the plate away and stood, making her way upstairs without a word to her brothers. She could almost hear the questions that ran through their minds, wondering why she was taking news of Draco's departure this way. Ginny faintly regretted not telling anyone but Luna about this idea that was she and Draco.
Because that's what it is, isn't it? she silently asked herself as she padded up the stairs in her daze. It's an idea and nothing more; too fragile to be spoken of openly, too crazy to be anything more than a whisper of a thought. Too wrong to be right.
Ginny sighed, raising her hand to knock on the door.
Draco answered the door on the first knock, knowing already that it was Ginny that stood on the other side. She looked up at him with round eyes full of confusion.
"Why?" she whispered, entering his room and closing the door. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I didn't know—"
"Bollocks," she snapped. "You knew damn good and well, Draco Malfoy."
He watched emotions flicker across her face as she stared up at him. Fury, confusion, and then hurt. She had tears in her eyes now. Draco felt a strange, gut-wrenching uneasiness settle in his stomach. Guilt. He felt guilty that she was crying because of him.
"Ginny—" He reached out a hand toward her, offering comfort.
She shirked his hand away, swiping at her tears angrily. She was so beautiful, even when she cried. Puffy, reddened eyes and trembling lips, she was still stunning. Innocence and hurt looked up at him from her wide russet eyes.
"So where are you dashing off to, hmm?" she snapped, cheeks flushed from anger. "First Harry, Ron and Hermione, and now you as well?"
Draco recoiled his hand at her words, knowing she wouldn't accept his comfort at this point. "I, uhm… Well, I don't know precisely."
Her voice was low and dangerous, practically a hiss. It made Draco step back once, eerily reminding him of Voldemort. How did one little Gryffindor girl have all that venom?
She was so different from so many other young witches he knew. Nothing like the twits that fawned over him at Hogwarts, or the viciously wicked woman Pansy had become. Ginny was not much like Tracey Davis either. Tracey was ruthless in her revenge, hardly thinking with guile, opting instead for blunt retribution. Ginny, despite her Gryffindor status, was surprisingly crafty.
How could a girl so sweet have such malice in her tone?
It's because of you.
Draco looked down into her eyes, his brow furrowed. Was it because of him that she had become this way? Were her Slytherin aspects recently acquired, or had his presence at her side simply brought out the worst in her?
Only a moment had passed as he thought over these things.
"It's the truth, pet," he soothed, his hands encasing her upper arms. "I don't know where Dumbledore is sending me."
What happened next was a flurry of motion, hardly registering with Draco until a moment later. One minute he was holding her at arm's length, the next she had ripped herself from his grasp. Ginny moved like a hawk, swift and precise, just as she had on the Quidditch Pitch all those years ago. She smacked him hard across the face, the blow connecting with the sound of a cracking whip.
"I won't listen to your lies!" she shrieked, heedless of the others inhabiting the house.
Draco, however, was never so heedless. He kept various charms on his quarters for privacy at all times, which was why none of her siblings came stampeding to her rescue.
"Ginny, I know you're upset—"
"Don't you dare even dream to tell me what I am, Draco Malfoy!" she shrieked once more, fury coloring her face. "I'll tell you what I am! Disgusted! With myself, for ever believing you—"
The room fell silent as he smashed his mouth against hers. He knew this kiss wasn't the same as so many others they had shared. It wasn't soft and sweet, sensual and intense, or hard and passionate. It wasn't anger, affection, or desire that fueled this kiss… It was sorrow. His own that he hurt her, that she didn't know how his heart felt for her. Her pain and the sorrow of him leaving her filled that kiss. Her tears wet both of their faces, washing away that sadness.
"Somewhere far away," he murmured, kissing her again, softly this time.
Ginny let him kiss her. She let him touch her, caress her. She let him take her over, like ice finally giving up for lost, surrendering to the fire… to be melted away into nothing. She whispered soft, sweet, beautiful things to him in the darkness of his room. She gave him her everything and they made love together for the first time.
It only made things worse that he was beginning to feel these deep, beautiful emotions for her.
Draco sighed, turning to look at his closest acquaintances of Grimmauld Place. The twins, ever their buoyant selves, were grinning at him. He would miss them, strange as it sounded. They eerily reminded him of Blaise and his cousin at times. Luna, on the other hand, stood twisting a piece of her long hair around her finger. She reminded him of nobody, a one-of-a-kind sort of person. He would miss her charmingly innocent qualities.
The one he would miss the very most, however, had yet to come and bid him goodbye.
He clapped the men on their backs and forced a grin. "Guess you'll need a new guinea pig now, eh?"
As they stepped back, Luna flung her arms around him. Draco patted her back and hugged her in return. She stepped away slowly, allowing a tear to slip out of the corner of her wide, luminous eye. Looking up at him, she spoke seriously.
"Be careful, Draco," she advised, "Make sure you don't let the Nifflers near."
Draco gave a small smile at the younger woman. "I will, Luna."
Ginny stepped into the foyer then, all eyes moving to her. She looked lovely, as always. Her fiery hair flowed down her back in a smooth river. He would remember her like this. Always.
Then he somehow found himself quite alone with her.
"I'm going to miss you, ferret."
"I'll miss you too, Weasley," he said with a slight smirk.
"Don't you dare go and die on me," she commanded. "Fred and George still need a test subject, and I'm certainly not replacing you."
She stood at arm's distance, an air of playful ignorance around her. It was her way of easing the tension and snubbing the truth, all concealed in a slight grin. Exasperation rose up in his chest as he looked her over.
"Is this how it's going to end, Ginny?" he asked, tired of their façade, tired of hiding.
Her grin faded at his query, leaving behind the face of a weary young woman. She stepped closer and ran a hand through her tresses.
"Don't do this," she murmured, a pleading look in her eyes. "Not here. Not now, when you're about to go. When you might never come back. Don't break my heart."
He closed the distance between them and cupped her face in his hands, wiping her tears away with his thumbs. "I would never."
"If you walk out that door … you already have."
He slid his mouth over hers smoothly, exploring the warmth of her lips and tongue. He poured everything he had for her into that one kiss. He didn't know how he'd ever tell her his feelings; he could only try to show her.
"Goodbye, Draco," she whispered, stepping away.
He grasped the door handle, shifting the weight of his duffle on his shoulder.
End... for now.
¹ - Albus Dumbledore, page 591-592 of Half-Blood Prince
² - Excerpt from page 2 of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, 'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot'
³ - Excerpt from page 1 of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, 'The Wizard and the Hopping Pot'