Generic disclaimer applies.
A/N: This is late in coming, but happy belated birthday, Gin. I hope you like the fic. ^_~
It was a known fact that Gryffindors were as brainless as they were courageous. A Slytherin, for example, would never concede to playing Truth or Dare when there was Veritaserum involved such as those ridiculous lions liked to play it. She or he would understand that while it would be the perfect time to take an advantage of one's fellow housemates and discover all their dirtiest secrets, the disadvantages of this same tactic being used against one was simply too much to risk.
Ravenclaws would also be unlikely to indulge in such a game. They found it unfathomable why one would even desire to be forced to do something outrageous – and probably very dangerous – simply because one was dared to do it. The whole concept, to them at least, was completely illogical.
Hufflepuffs did play the game, but they were far too nice and loyal to actually ask anything too personal of their housemates. It would, after all, be quite unfair to make their friends confess to something that they would rather not tell. Those empathetic little badgers where also too conscientious to expect someone to do anything too shocking, and so their dares were, in truth, tediously tame. Really, the poor things might well have not played the game at all for all they achieved with it.
But the Gryffindors were of a different breed all together. They thrived on the thrill and danger of the game. In fact, all they really were concerned with were the dares and the completion of said dares, which is why they decided to use Veritaserum to add a bit of spice (dangerously stolen from Snape's store cupboards, of course). If someone was too chicken to accept a dare, she or he would have to suffer the price of risking a potentially embarrassing secret being made known to the rest of the house, for, thanks to the potion, there was no way to get out of saying the truth. Gryffindors were also known to be quite ruthless to those they deemed cowards, so the chances of spilling something deeply person was indeed high.
That is why when Madeline Brookhurt turned to her fellow sixth-year and rival Ginny Weasley and said those two dreadful words, the redhead did not even consider the first option. She simply smiled with all the smugness of a Gryffindor about to do something very brave – and very foolish – and responded with one word:
There was an "Ooo" of excitement from the other sixth year girls as they glanced back to Madeline to see what dare would be given. It was bound to be something exciting, for everyone knew that Madeline was intensely jealous of the female Weasley and had been wanting to put the redhead in her place for months. Ginny also knew this; however, like a true Gryffindor, she felt confident in her ability to meet any dare that the brunette could give.
Madeline grinned and, for a moment, looked remarkably like Snape after he had just discovered Potter doing something troublesome. It was most disconcerting.
"Fine," Madeline said in a voice that didn't quite hide her glee. "I dare you, Ginny Weasley, to swim in the Black Lake for five minutes at midnight – naked."
There was a collective gasp from the other girls. It was autumn, not quite so chilly as to make the lake completely inhospitable to a would-be-swimmer, but it would still be very cold – certainly enough to make a naked little Gryffindor turn blue. However, it was not just the iciness of the water that made such a dare dangerous. There were plenty of creatures lurking underneath the black surface of the lake, many of which liked to play at night.
Ginny met Madeline's smug grin with a steely glint in her eyes. "Done," the redhead responded boldly. "I'll even do it tonight."
"Tonight it is, then," Madeline agreed. "We'll be joining you, of course, just to make sure you actually complete the dare. We wouldn't want you weaselling out of it without us knowing, now would we, Weasley?"
A short girl with pigtails let out a sudden giggle. "A weaselling Weasley. That's funny."
"Oh, yeah," Ginny deadpanned, rolling her eyes at the girl. "Simply hilarious."
The girl with pigtails fell silent. Ginny, satisfied that she had nipped that matter in the bud, turned her attention back to Madeline.
"You can join me," the redhead said indifferently, "but if you think I'm going to chicken out, you're going to be disappointed. I never fail to meet a dare."
"We'll see," Madeline replied.
The smug smile that followed this remark set Ginny's teeth on edge. She promised herself that she would wipe the smirk off Madeline's face by dawn, and she knew she would take great pleasure in doing it. She'd show them that this was one Gryffindor not to be messed with.
Ginny stared at the lake that loomed before her like a night sky turned upside down. It looked very cold in all its black endlessness, and though she would never admit it aloud, she felt a moment of trepidation. Could she really go skinny-dipping in that watery iceberg?
"What's the matter, Weasley?" Madeline jeered upon seeing the redhead hesitate. "I thought you said you never fail to meet a dare?"
"I don't," Ginny responded haughtily. "I was just admiring the view."
"Well, don't take too long with your admiration."
Ginny gritted her teeth and started undoing her robe. The night was a chilly one, and she fumbled with numb hands as she removed her clothes until she was standing in just her knickers and bra. Goosebumps erupted over her bare skin, and she shivered and rubbed her arms in the hopes of getting some warmth back into her body.
"Those have to come off too, Weasley," Madeline reminded while gesturing to the flimsy bits of cotton covering the redhead's nakedness.
"I know," Ginny snapped.
She unclipped her bra and slipped off her knickers so that she was standing completely nude before the group of Gryffindor girls. If Molly Weasley had seen her daughter at that moment, she would have been horrified at the young girl's lack of modesty. As it was, the Weasley matriarch was currently fast asleep and so was blissfully ignorant of her daughter's exhibitionist tendencies.
Ginny held her chin up high, quite unperturbed by the fact that she was naked and her teeth were chattering loud enough for everyone present to hear.
"You said I have to swim in the lake for five minutes, right?" she asked.
"That's right." Madeline waved an elegant little watch on a chain in front of Ginny's eyes. "I have a timer right here to make sure you stay in the lake for the full time."
"Don't worry," the redhead responded through clenched teeth. "I'll stay in there the full time."
She turned without a further word and, with all the dramatic slowness of a martyr about to be burnt on a funeral pyre, made her way towards the lake. If she was going to freeze in those black waters for five minutes in front of the other sixth year Gryffindor girls, she might as well put on a good show while she did it.
"Oh, Ginny!" Suzy Hindley cried impulsively. "Don't do it. You'll be bound to catch hypothermia and die for sure."
"I'll be fine, Suzy," Ginny said with a dismissive smile. "It's only five minutes."
However, for all her brave words, she knew for herself that she had no desire to put even a toe in the lake, let alone her whole body. If this hadn't been for a dare, it was unlikely she would have dreamed of going through with it. Gryffindor or not, she still liked her comfort, and skinny-dipping in a Scottish lake at midnight could hardly be considered comfortable.
"Come on, Ginevra, we haven't got all night," Madeline called out impatiently.
That was all the push Ginny needed. She threw one last lofty look at the brunette and then waded out into the lake with her head held high. The initial shock of the icy water made her wince and long to run back to the shore, but she shrugged off the urge and dived into the inky depths. She knew that she would need to keep her whole body submerged – except her head, of course – if she wanted to last the full five minutes. It was easier to fool herself into thinking she was not as cold that way.
"I can't believe she actually did it," the girl with pigtails commented with an expression akin to awe on her face.
Madeline pursed her lips, looking very much as if she had just sucked on a lemon. This was not how she had expected the dare to go. She waited a few minutes to see if Ginny would break from the cold before the time was up, but the redhead was indomitable in her stubbornness and showed no signs of coming back to shore. In fact, she almost looked like she was enjoying herself in some weird, masochistic little way.
"What are you doing?" Suzy demanded as Madeline picked up the redhead's discarded clothes. "You can't take her clothes. How will she ever get back to the castle?"
"I guess she'll have to go naked," Madeline responded with an evil grin.
"You can't do that to her!"
"Oh, stop being such a goodie-goodie," Madeline snapped. "It's only a bit of fun."
Suzy didn't look very happy, but she was not a particularly brave girl when it came to standing up to her friends, and so she simply sighed in resignation. Madeline giggled to herself as she cast a look at the oblivious redhead still swimming in the lake. Too bad she wouldn't be there to see the obnoxious girl's face when Ginny realised her clothes and wand had been taken, and that she now had to walk back to the castle naked.
"Hurry, Madeline. Ginny will be coming soon," the girl with pigtails warned.
Madeline quickly bundled up the rest of Ginny's belongings in her arms and gestured for the girls to follow her back to Gryffindor Tower. Suzy looked a bit torn, but she followed anyway, not wanting to be left behind. Besides, even she thought the redhead was a little too arrogant for her own good sometimes. It was all because Ginny had dated Harry Potter last year and was a Chaser for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, not to mention was popular and liked by all the boys. Oh, it was enough to make anyone annoyed, and Suzy knew that however much Ginny tried to pretend otherwise, she really did enjoy the attention.
Meanwhile, said arrogant Weasley, who had her own methods of knowing how much time had passed, was relieved to discover that her five minutes were up. In some ways she had enjoyed her first skinny-dipping experience, for there was something all very exhilarating about removing her clothes and indulging in the silky caresses of water on her bare skin. It was different to sitting in a bath – somehow more sensuous. She couldn't explain it, but she certainly knew that she was not going to repeat the experience unless the water she was swimming in was very warm. This water was just a little too cold for her tastes. She was beginning to feel alarmingly numb.
Ginny swam back to the shore and was surprised to see that the rest of the Gryffindor girls had gone. Were they perhaps further in the trees?
She frowned to herself. They had just been standing there before. And where were her clothes, anyway?
"No," she gasped aloud as an inkling of what had happened began to present itself to her brain.
It seemed too cruel that the girls would steal her clothes and wand, but then this was Madeline she was talking about, and that cow would do anything to get payback. Perhaps Ginny should not have been so smug about getting the Chaser position once again over the brunette…
"Well, this is a surprise," a male voice drawled.
Ginny screamed in fright and immediately tried to find something to cover her nakedness. Unfortunately, there was nothing except a few twigs and leaves at hand. Since she did not have the time to fashion herself a garment from such natural products, she was forced to place one arm over her breasts while her other hand feebly covered her nether regions. The boy laughed at her antics and stepped out from the shadows. She couldn't help but notice how very handsome he was. His hair and eyes gleamed silver in the moonlight, and the smile that curled his beautifully sculpted lips made her stomach flutter with unruly butterflies. Really, if she were not so mortified in that moment, she would have been quite happy to find herself with him under the moonlight. He was certainly the epitome of masculine beauty, though he was by no means effeminate. She did not think this a bad thing, though.
The Adonis walked slowly towards her, almost as if in a prowl, and she saw the way his smile slowly morphed into a smirk as he drew closer. Something about that expression was unnervingly familiar to her, and she suddenly realised where she had seen it before.
"M-Malfoy?" she stammered through her chattering teeth. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same thing, Weasley. Particularly in your current attire."
His eyes once more drifted over her exposed body, and she felt her cheeks grow warm under his lazy scrutiny. Normally she would have had no qualms in putting him in his place, no matter how handsome he may be, but right now she was feeling more than a little out of her element. It was hard to be bold when standing completely starkers in front of a boy who was not only fully clothed but also smirking at her in a way that suggested he rather liked what he saw.
Draco closed the distance between them and stared down into her brown eyes, one eyebrow lifted enquiringly. "Well?"
"I asked you first," she retorted peevishly.
It was a stupid thing to say under the circumstances. She should have been demanding him to look away or at least to lend her a cloak (and she would have indeed been grateful for this article of clothing, for, apart from the fact that she was naked, she was still very wet and cold), but she was finding it increasingly difficult to think. His presence was intoxicating, and she found her mind drifting into dark and dangerous territories as she wondered what it would be like if his pale hands caressed her body like how the silken waters of the lake had done only moments before.
Ginny suddenly realised that he was talking to her again. "What?" she asked, blinking past the fantasy still playing before her eyes.
"Never mind," he muttered, quite put out that she hadn't heard him the first time. No doubt he was used to having girls hang off every word he said.
His eyes once more focussed on her face. She swallowed, feeling suddenly nervous under his intense gaze. Malfoy he may be, but he was still a seventeen-year-old boy, and it was clear by the appreciative look in those silver irises that he wanted her. He placed one hand on her waist, drawing her closer to him, and then he reached out with his free hand to grasp her wrist and began to gently pull her arm away from her breasts. This was moving too fast for Ginny, and her heart gave a funny stutter of panic in her chest. However, before she could pull back, his grip suddenly tightened on her wrist and he looked at her with an alarmed expression on his face.
The way he said it made it sound like an accusation. Ginny rolled her eyes. Obviously he had been too caught up in his amorous thoughts to notice how much she had been shivering throughout their conversation. For all she knew, he might have been arrogant enough to think they were shivers of pleasure.
"Well, I have been skinny-dipping in the lake," Ginny replied bluntly.
He had been in the process of removing his cloak and handing it to her (an action of thoughtfulness she had not expected to receive from him), but he froze at this disclosure and stared at her as if he were beginning to seriously question her sanity.
"Are you crazy?"
"No," she said simply as she wrapped his cloak gratefully around her trembling frame. "It was for a dare."
Ginny sighed and explained about Madeline's dare and how the brunette and the other girls had taken her wand and clothes, leaving her no choice but to either freeze to death or brave the way back to Gryffindor Tower wearing nothing but her birthday suit.
"I expect it was Madeline's idea," Ginny said with a scowl as she thought of her infuriating housemate. "She's never liked me."
Draco gave a low chuckle. "Only a Gryffindor would let herself get in a situation like that. You really should have known better than to put yourself in such a vulnerable position, Weasley."
"Well, not all of us are as paranoid as you, Malfoy. Most of us generally don't assume every person we meet is going to stab us in the back."
"Yes, and look where that trust got you: you're stranded alone with a Slytherin and have nothing but my cloak to cover yourself with."
Ginny's eyes darted warily up to his, and he gave another of his low laughs.
"Relax, Weasley, I'm not going to do anything. Still, you're lucky I was the one who found you. Anything could have happened if it were someone else."
Ginny considered this and it was only then that she realised how dangerous her situation had actually been. He was right: anything could have happened. She had been naked and defenceless. There was no way she could have protected herself if someone who actually meant her harm had come across her.
The redhead shivered at the thought and instinctively moved closer to the boy next to her, whose presence had suddenly become a lot more reassuring. He may have startled her with his move to touch her, but she had no doubt that if she had said no, he would have immediately backed off. The fact that he had even presented her with his cloak when he realised how cold she was had been a testament of that, and she could only be grateful that Draco, for all that he was a Malfoy, at least had scruples when it came to the treatment of females.
"I suppose I'd better get you back to the castle before you freeze to death," Draco said, throwing her another of his rare smiles that once more made the unruly butterflies come to life inside her.
She nodded shyly, unable to form coherent words when struck with the full force of those painfully handsome features. He was so surreal in the moonlight, almost like a god. Everything about him was silver and pale, just like the celestial lights adorning the night sky. She had great difficulty reminding herself that this indecently gorgeous boy was Draco Malfoy, the same smarmy Slytherin who had just caught her naked by the lake and had tried to make a move on her. Of course, she didn't dwell on that last part – that would just be inviting all sorts of naughty thoughts into her brain. She wasn't supposed to have a crush on him; she wasn't even supposed to be thinking of him, but it was very hard to ignore the blond when he was walking beside her and looking the epitome of yum.
And he was going to kiss you, her mind thoughtfully chose to remind her. You know he would have done it.
Ginny knew she would have responded too. After all, that was why she had got so frightened when he had started to pull her arm away from her breasts. She had felt the burning desire throb through her veins at his touch, letting her see how easy it would be to lose control with him. Yes, she would have responded to his kiss – and probably done much more. It was indeed lucky that she had been so cold and, in consequence, made him pity her rather than want to seduce her.
"What are you thinking about?" Draco asked as they walked side-by-side back towards the castle.
"Nothing," she said quickly. Too quickly.
His trademark smirk came into play and his silver eyes glinted wickedly in the semi-darkness. "You're a really poor liar, you know that, Weasley?"
"Well, I'm sorry I don't meet your high Slytherin standards."
He laughed. "No, you just like to get yourself into impossible situations by playing silly games of Truth or Dare."
"What can I say? It's what we Gryffindors do best."
"Clearly," the blond laughed. He was quiet for a moment, his eyes examining her face with unnerving shrewdness. "So what were you thinking about?"
A light flush crept to her cheeks. "It really was nothing."
He smirked. "Really? Then why are you blushing?"
"I'm not blushing! I'm just—Oh, forget it. I do not want to have this conversation with you right now. In case you've forgotten, I'm feeling more than a little upset. You did just see me naked, after all." She turned on him and levelled a finger at his face. "And you better not mention that to anybody either!"
"Calm yourself, Weasley. I won't tell a soul."
The last thing she wanted was to become one of Draco Malfoy's boastful stories. She'd heard enough of those circulating around at the breakfast table.
Ginny looked ahead of her and saw that they were finally at the entrance to the castle. She hesitated outside the large wooden doors, knowing that it was time for the two of them to part ways.
"So," she began.
"I guess that's that," Draco finished for her.
She glanced down at her hands, not certain how to formulate into words what she really wanted to say. She knew she should thank him, but how did one thank Draco Malfoy? Especially when said Malfoy was staring at her so intently and making her stomach do funny flip-flops.
"I, um … I wanted to thank you," Ginny began awkwardly as she played with her fingers, "you know, for lending me your robe and all. Do you want me to give it back to you tomo—"
Draco suddenly placed a hand on her mouth. Ginny stared up at him wide-eyed, not sure what he was doing.
"I'm sorry, Weasley, but there's something I've been wanting to do all night."
And without even giving her a chance to respond, he removed his hand from her mouth and pressed his lips firmly against hers. She blinked in shock, not really able to register the fact that Draco Malfoy was actually kissing her. He cradled her face with his hand, deepening the kiss as he pulled her closer towards him by the arm he had somehow slipped around her waist without her even realising. The kiss was intense and passionate, and she very quickly lost her head and found herself clutching him tightly against her as she kissed him back with a headiness that was as overwhelming as it was intoxicating.
Both were gasping for breath by the time they finally broke apart. His eyes were dark with desire, becoming more of a stormy grey than the silver she had grown used to during their moonlit walk, and his silvery-blond hair was mussed from where her hands had explored the silken strands. He looked exactly like he had just been snogged senseless, and Ginny took great satisfaction in knowing that she had been the one to cause this dishevelled appearance.
Draco caressed her freckled cheek with his thumb, and she saw that same sinfully attractive smile dawn on his lips.
"Goodnight, Weasley," he murmured.
"Goodnight," Ginny replied breathlessly, still feeling rather dazed from the kiss.
She watched him enter the castle and pass from her sight as he headed towards the Dungeons. A deep sigh of contentment escaped her, and she smiled dreamily to herself as she thought of the kiss she had just received from the handsome blond.
Whatever the other houses may think, there was definitely something to be said for a Gryffindor game of Truth or Dare: it always got results.