antagonism --

It happened at a Christmas party, thrown by the Ministry of Magic, several years after the Fall of the Dark Lord. She was wandering around aimlessly, drinking a water (having found out only recently that she was pregnant, alcohol was well out of the question) and looking for something interesting to happen.

Harry was busy, discussing Auror something-or-other with Kingsley, and Hermione and Ron were dancing out on the floor, too caught up in each others' eyes to notice how horrible they both were at dancing. Hermione, too, was pregnant, further along than she, and her belly stood between her and her husband, though neither of them seemed to care all that much. Ginny knew it wouldn't be too long before they were arguing again, probably about the color of the baby's room or something inane by that, and they'd make up before the night was over. It was almost expected at this point, that Ron would tick his wife off and then have to make it up to her.

She did not want to think about her brother making up with Hermione. She had had too many arguments with Harry not to know how tonight would probably end.

The point was, she was alone, and bored, and wishing desperately for a fire-whiskey or a glass of mead, when she caught his eye.

He was alone -- a rare sight. And he looked handsome tonight, in deep blue dress robes, reflecting in the gray of his eyes. He inclined his head toward her, as was proper, but she knew him too well to think that he was doing it out of any desire to actually speak to her. It was with more than a little spite that she walked up to him anyway.

"Hello, Malfoy," she drawled, sipping at her water, pretending that it was alcoholic, "fancy seeing you at a party like this."

He gave her a forced smile, looking more like a grimace. "Well, Mrs. Potter," he replied with as much venom as possible, "I am a Ministry official. It's only natural that I be at this party."

"Don't kid yourself," she said, rolling her eyes, "you hate everyone here and no one would give half a damn if you didn't show up. What brings you out tonight?" Not that she particularly wanted to know, but if anything could break up the boredom, it was antagonizing Draco Malfoy.

"If you absolutely must know --" ("I do," she muttered, and he shot her a glare.) "My fiancee insisted that we attend. She has something of a soft spot for these sorts of things."

"Fiancee?" she replied, not bothering to hide the laughter in her voice, "You have a fiancee?"

"Something funny about that?" he hissed, and she knew she'd struck a nerve. With glee, she continued.

"Oh, no, it's just... I hadn't thought you had so many prospects. Nothing against you, of course," she lied, "but, well, after the war and such..."

"Yes," he replied coldly, "my family does not hold the sway it once did. Have you had enough gloating for now?"

A tiny bit of guilt stirred in her gut. It wasn't nice to poke the losers, but then, if the tables were turned, he'd be doing far worse to her. Besides, she was bored and when not allowed to get drunk, there weren't so many outlets for boredom at Ministry parties. "Not really, no," she said airily, "but I'll let you off lightly because I'm in such a good mood."

"You're a really horrible liar," he snapped at her. "If you were in a good mood, you'd be with your husband, not pissing around with me."

To stall for time, she swallowed the rest of her drink whole, wishing (again) that it were alcoholic. "Fine, you got me. This party is boring as shite, and I've got nothing better to do."

"Lucky me," he drawled in response, and took a deep draught of his mead. She watched with hunger as he licked his lips, just this side of provocatively. If she didn't know any better, she'd say he was trying to seduce her. Unfortunately for him, if that were the case, she was far more interested in his drink than his pants.

"You truly are. You have no idea how many men would kill to be the one I'm paying attention to tonight."

"Let me guess," he said, mockingly, "one. Potter might like it if you'd actually be speaking to him. The rest of us? Couldn't care less."

"Not true," she replied, affecting an airy tone to hide the slight hurt at his words, "at least half of Harry's co-workers have tried to seduce me at some point." It wasn't quite a lie, but she was stretching the definition of the word "seduce" to include "speaks to with a slightly flirty tone" and "smiled at one time".

"Of course," he said delicately, "you have many, many suitors. That explains why you're so bored with this party that you would deign to speak with me."

He had won, and he knew it, but Ginny was never known for giving up without a damn good fight. "I don't feel much like dancing."

He smirked, but didn't reply. "Merry Christmas," he said instead. Only Draco Malfoy could say something like that and make it sound like an insult.

"Merry Christmas," she replied, with a concerted effort to sound warm and kind. He raised an eyebrow. She took a deep breath. "Your fiancee, what's her name?" She didn't really know why she was talking about this, but it beat watching Ron and Hermione -- oh, no, she thought, glancing to the commotion on the dance floor, they were arguing again ("I will not name my child Margot!") -- well, talking to Malfoy was still a little more entertaining than the fight. Unless they started throwing punches, but with Hermione about to pop, that was highly unlikely.

He was snickering at the argument, but he responded anyway, "Astoria. Astoria Greengrass, I doubt you've heard of her. She didn't attend Hogwarts."

"Can't say I know her. Pretty name, though."

"Yes, it suits her."

"You don't sound particularly happy about it," she said, before she could think. He flinched, but controlled himself quickly.

"I'm perfectly happy to be marrying her."

That meant, she inferred from his defensive tone, that his mother arranged the marriage and he and his fiancee didn't particularly get along. "Of course you are. When is the wedding?"

"June. She wants an outdoor wedding."

"That'll be lovely," she replied, a little annoyed. Her wedding had been in June, and it was outdoors. Not fair. Besides, by June, she would probably be bigger than Hermione, which meant her anniversary would be... awkward at best.

"Yes, it will."

"What are the colors?"

He gave her a sidelong glance. "Do you honestly care about my wedding?"

"Not really," she replied absently, "I'm just waiting to see how long this fight will continue. I have good money on them not getting over it until after the party, and I really don't like to lose."

"You bet money on your brother getting into an argument with his wife?"

She shrugged, "Oh, all the time. I've got it down to a mathematical equation. Intensity of the argument times intensity of Hermione's current hormone levels -- like, if she's PMSing, or, you know, really really pregnant -- times Ron's desperation, plus about fifteen minutes or so for the actual screaming match... Right now, I'm guessing they'll be at each others' throats for at least an hour or two. She's really moody now and Ron's really stubborn about that name. What?" He was openly gaping at her, and then he started laughing. Hysterically. "It's not that funny."

"Yes," he gasped, "Yes, it is."

"You're lucky you're an only child."

He howled with laughter. Ron sent a very, very nasty look in their direction, and she pulled her best Innocence face.

"If my brother punches you, I will not take your side," she said in an off-hand manner. "In fact, I might point and laugh. May even find some popcorn."

Malfoy, having finally calmed down, rolled his eyes. "Right, because your brother could win a fight with me."

"I bet you ten galleons he could."

"I am not taking that bet."

"Damn," she hissed, "I was about to make an easy ten galleons." She was baiting him, but the problem was, he knew what she was doing by now, and didn't respond. Instead, he raised his eyebrow again.

"Is there a reason you're still talking to me?"

"You're more fun to piss off than the rest of the people here."

"Glad to be of service," he said coolly, and she laughed.

"Oh, come off it. At least I'm talking to you, yeah? Everyone else is looking at you like you're covered in poison."

"Your complete lack of tact is almost fascinating," he replied dryly, too used to her by now to rise to the insult. She was a little put-out by that fact.

"I'm known for my bluntness. It's part of what makes me so amazing," she said airily, sweeping her arm out, and narrowly avoiding slapping an irate-looking Oliver Wood directly in the face. "Oops," she winced, "Sorry."

Malfoy snickered. "Right. You're amazing."

"I am, thanks for realizing it," she grinned cheekily at him, and was surprised when he gave her a genuine smile. He shook his head gently, seeming to be... actually friendly to her. It almost made her skin crawl, Malfoy viewing her as a friend.

And at the same time, an odd warmth spread through her stomach. She had never had the stomach for hatred, and always liked making new friends. Who knew? Maybe they could put the past behind them. Maybe he wasn't so bad.

Probably not, but well, there was always hope.

Suddenly, she saw Harry, on the other side of the room, waving her over. "That's my cue," she said quietly, putting her empty glass on the table behind them, "see you around, Draco."

"I doubt it," he replied, inspecting his cup.

"You're supposed to say 'See you around, Ginny, and thanks for actually using my name, and, you know, for talking to me so I didn't have to stand there with my thumb up my ass'," she said, with a purposefully-bad imitation of his voice. "Go on, I'm waiting."

He cocked an eyebrow, and replied, with half a smirk, "No."

"Tch, fine, be that way. See if I ever antagonize you for fun again."

"Oh, good."

She walked away, but cast a final glance behind her, "Tell your fiancee not to wear a veil. It's pretty and all, but it gets hot underneath one outside in June. Take it from someone who knows."

"I'll remember that," he replied. She imagined that he looked a little down now that he was alone.

"What were you talking with Malfoy about?" Harry asked her when she finally reached him and slid her arm around his waist. "Also, you owe me fifteen galleons. Ron and Hermione have already made up." He indicated to the far corner, where she could just make out the shape of two people furiously snogging.

"Damn," she said, "I'll make it up to you. And I was bored, so I bothered Malfoy. He's an awful lot of fun to piss off."

Harry rolled his eyes. "You shouldn't bait him like that."

"Yeah, but when have I ever done what I'm supposed to?" She grinned.


A/N: I'm on a roll. It's good. I haven't written in like six months, so yay for writing again! Also, I was going to make this Ginny/Draco, because that's my secret under-the-covers ship, but I just couldn't do it and make it in-character with the mood Ginny is in and the situation... so I settled for Ginny trying -- and failing, because he's more mature now -- to piss him off. Also, abrupt end is abrupt, but the conversation was over, yeah? Review!