This is the companion piece to A Birthday Kiss. This story examines some of the small moments in their 'relationship' up until shortly after A Birthday Kiss. It was written for Ginny Weasley's 29th birthday. Huzzah!
Candy Floss and Chocolate Frogs
She is so small, so impossibly small that he can't help but stare at her. She's curious, nosy, insistent—a bright red bundle of energy. Ginger hair done in braids, swinging like tails as she runs towards him, a bag of sweets held tightly in her tiny fist.
"What's dat?" she asks, breathlessly examining the spun ball of pink cotton he holds in his equally small hands.
"Candy fwoss," he answers as primly as he can for a boy who still cannot pronounce his L's properly.
He bites into the pink and blue cloud-looking sweet, and her eyes widen in envy as she takes a step closer. There's dirt on her face, or at least some of it is dirt; freckles sprinkle her nose and cheeks. She looks plain and ordinary, but he cannot tear his eyes away from her hair.
"Can I has some?" she asks in a sickly sweet voice, and he takes a step back, hugging the precious candy close to his chest.
"But, it's my birthday!" Her bottom lip juts out, trembling, but he only snorts.
He snorts derisively. "So?"
"So..." She looks down at her feet, frowning, searching for an excuse or something to barter with. She tightens her grip on the bag of dwindling chocolates in her hand and raises them eye level, offering them to the pretty little blond boy.
"I'll give you my choccie frog."
"I don't want your choccies!"
He is scowling so fiercely that he no longer looks pretty but ugly and spiteful. Her head drops, but she slowly lifts her dirty chin. The hurt on her face is now replaced with pride and defiance.
"You're not nice!"
He opens his mouth to retort but quickly closes it. He's an only-child who has never had to share and he's too young to truly understand what it is to be rude. But he does realise that he has hurt her feelings and it makes him feel bad, like when he broke his mum's favourite vase and blamed it the nanny. His nanny went away after that and he was alone, feeling this strange gut-wrenching feeling, like he had done something wrong. He feels that now with this little girl.
"I..." He pauses, trying to find the words, but she's already gone. She's running off in the distance, with red pigtails streaming behind her like twin banners, and he is once again alone.
He sees her through the reflection of the shop window. She is grinning, distracted by the absolute wonders that surrounded her. Then, she spots him and begins to walk over, excited.
"Hi!" Her voice is as soft as silk and sweet as honey.
She's taller now and has way more freckles. He's surprised that he remembers her after all these years. He supposes it's because he's never seen hair like that, except on that idiot Gryffindor at school.
"Would you like a chocolate frog?" Her hand's outstretched, offering the squirming sweet.
"No," he answers coldly, and then he sees the light falter in her brown eyes. "Thank you, though."
She smiles, easily placated by his half-hearted recovery, and pops a chocolate frog into her mouth. "Is this your first trip to Diagon Alley?"
She nods slowly, licking her chocolate-covered fingers before wiping her hand on her trousers. "So, you're already a student at Hogwarts?"
"What house are you in?"
"Sl—Gryffindor," he says, fumbling for a moment.
He's not sure why, but he thinks she'd like him more as a Gryffindor rather than a Slytherin. What really upsets him, when he thinks about it later, is that he wants her to like him. And, again, he doesn't know why.
"Really?" She's ecstatic at his revelation. "Oh wow! I might be in Gryffindor, too! All my brothers are." She claps her hands together in glee. "You can be my first friend there!"
He knits his brow, feeling rather uncomfortable, but he chooses to remain silent instead of insulting her. She sees the look of discomfort on his face and she blushes, embarrassed.
"Sorry," she apologises, turning a lovely shade of pink. "I tend to talk without thinking."
She laughs at his glib response. It's a soft giggle that seems to bubble from her stomach all the way to her lips. He smiles despite himself.
"You're very quiet," she says after a moment, taking a step closer.
"Well, you're certainly not like my brothers." She laughs then holds up a clear plastic bag. "You sure you don't want a chocolate frog? It's my last one."
He stares at the half-melted frog that looks more like a blob—not remotely edible—and he nods his head in acceptance. "Sure, I'll take it."
Please, she smiles and takes the misshapen frog out of the bag, handing it over. He gingerly takes it from her pale, sticky fingers.
"Thank you, uh... ?"
"Ginny." She's beaming at him now. "I'm Ginny."
"Draco." He points to himself and she tilts her head, smiling at him in such a way that he cannot help but return it; albeit it rather awkwardly.
"That's a nice name," she says, and he is about to thank her when a male's voice calls for her.
"Ah, I gotta run or Da' will pitch a fit." She takes off in a trot but turns around to wave at him, almost tripping over her own two feet in the process. "It was nice to meet you, Draco. See you at Hogwarts!"
He waves back, and when she's out of sight he glances down at the sticky frog with a mixture of curiosity and disgust. After a moment's thought, he throws it away.
She's all alone in the library. He wants to talk to her, but he has his friends with him. Besides, he's not sure what he'd say to her anyway. His friends urge him forward, expecting him to do or say something, to tease her. He doesn't disappoint.
"If it isn't Potter's girlfriend," he croons, saddling up beside her at the table. "Did you write him any more poems?"
His friends snicker.
"Shut it," she says quietly, her voice barely above a whisper.
She slams down her book, and he's startled, jumping back at the commotion. "I said shut your gob, you stupid git!"
She gets up and runs out of the library. His friends taunt her as she goes, her long red hair streaming behind her like a banner. Frowning, he sits at the table and watches her leave.
He corners her in the hall. He knew exactly where to find her and he wanted to get to her before the others did.
"C'mon, little Weasley," he says, his voice less snide than usual. "Come quietly, and I'll go easy on you."
She draws her wand and laughs in his face. It is a spiteful laugh, one of absolute disgust and hatred. "I can't promise the same for you, Malfoy."
Her tone incites his ire, and he glares at her, tightening his grip on his wand. But he refuses to point it at her, yet.
"I don't want to hurt you," he says, and her lip curls into a sneer, much like his own.
It really is.
She's huddled in the corner with her family and his eyes cannot help but rest on her face. It's dirty and pink, just like when he had first met her. There is no warmth in her eyes, no smile on her lips. She has become beautiful in her loss; the silent tears stream down her grime-strained face, yet she does not give into her emotions and break down.
She finally rises to leave, heading towards the towers alone. She's gone to retrieve her belongings, to leave the place they had both called home. He follows her, quietly walking behind, but she can feel him. Suddenly she stops walking and turns around to face him. She looks so grown up now.
"I—" he begins, but she raises a hand, effectively silencing him.
"Don't talk to me."
She turns back around and heads to her room, leaving him alone in the hall.
He thinks that it should have rained today, but it didn't. Instead, it's beautiful and sunny and mocking. He wishes he were some place else, but he stays, hidden behind the trees as he waits for the crowd to clear out.
The procession moves like a wave, heading towards a small building. Only two silhouettes stand at the foot of the grave, her and her brother—the one who had once been a twin. She puts a hand on his back, comforting him without crying. She turns, leaving her brother to his grief, when she sees him beyond the trees.
She walks over to him. Her eyes are dry, but her face is red and blotchy. She is neither angry nor upset. She just looks so exhausted. When she reaches him she folds her arms beneath her breasts and stares off in the distance, at some remote spot that only she can see.
"You're here to tell me that you're sorry for my loss and that you're sorry for being on the wrong side of the war." There is no animosity in her voice, only tired resignation.
"I don't think I need to state the obvious," he says, stepping out from behind the sycamore tree to follow her gaze.
"Then why are you here?"
He takes a step towards her and slides his hand into his pocket, pulling out a small plastic bag. "I thought you might want my last chocolate frog."
Her face scrunches up, sorrow mixing with bewildered appreciation. She takes the proffered chocolate frog and pops it into her mouth with a sad smile, a tear sliding down her cheek. There is no thank you, no words exchanged. They just stand together, sharing a calming silence.
"Good game, Weasley!"
She jumps at the sound of his voice. "Malfoy? Merlin! You scared the magic out of me."
"If only I had done that years ago, whenever you directed that blasted Bat-Bogey hex on me."
She laughs and bends down to pick up her water bottle, taking a healthy sip. "I didn't know you like the Harpies." She slipped the bottle into her holdall and hoisted it over her shoulder.
"My company sponsors them," he explains, picking up her broom to carry for her as they both head towards the changing rooms.
"Oh right." She points to the broom. "Thanks for the new brooms, then."
They both reach the door and she turns to face him, offering him an awkward smile. "Well, I need to go get changed for the after-game party..."
"Right. See you sometime soon, Weasley."
"Yeah... bye, Malfoy."
He runs out of the restaurant, intent on catching up with her. Admittedly, he's rather inebriated, having done an incalculable amount of birthday shots. His drunken state, however, only fuels his determination to speak with her.
She turns around, bewildered, raising an eyebrow in confusion. He stops short in front of her and tries to compose himself. He's not sure what to say or do.
"Hullo," he says awkwardly, swaying slightly on his feet.
He's uncomfortable with the situation he has thrown himself into, but he's rather happy about it, too. Maybe it's because of the alcohol, but it's more than that. He knew that she'd be there at that particular restaurant with her friends, and so he went to meet with her, to talk with her. Now that he has his artificial courage, it's time for him to be confident.
"What's that?" She pokes her head over his shoulder, eyeing the spun ball of pink candy in his hand with envy.
"It's candy floss," he answers primly, bringing the candy close to his chest.
She steps around him and leans into his chest, closing her eyes to take in a whiff of the candy's aromatic scent. Her eyes open wide and she grins. She clasps her hands together and waves her own bag of chocolates in front of her face, licking her lips.
"Oooh, it looks yummy! Can I have some, please?"
"No, it's mine." He takes a step past her, and she stomps her foot.
"You're supposed to be polite on a first date, Malfoy."
He glances over his shoulder at her, observing the pout on her face with unmasked amusement. "Really?"
She nods vigorously, placing her hands on her slender hips, and he gives her some eyebrow language before turning around and taking a slow step towards her.
"Then shouldn't you call me Draco?" His lips twitch upwards into a cheeky grin, and she rolls her eyes at him, far from placated. "Tell you what," he bargains, pointing to her bag of sweets. "I'll give you my candy floss for your last chocolate frog."
"Deal!" she agrees excitedly, handing over her bag of melted chocolates and taking his candy floss in her eager little hands.
She looks up at him, wide-eyed, shocked that he has used her first name. "Y-yes?"
He leans down and plants a tender kiss just below her ear, sending shivers down her spine, making her melt into his side.