Love is a word I'd rather not discuss.
Disclaimer: All characters and wizard-like awesomeness belong to the infamous Mrs. Rowling. I'm just playing with what she's given us.
Chapter 3: Pathetic
"Ohhh," I moan, hand rising to my forehead. There's pressure on my shoulders forcing me to stay down and it's infuriating. Slowly, and dreading the light that I know is planning on assaulting me, I open my eyes.
It would be comical if it weren't me. I mean, how often do you wake up to six bobbing heads just inches away from your face? Ron, Hermione, Mum, Dad, Harry… Cho. I scowl. I forgot about her.
Suddenly, I remember exactly what she's doing here. The bride-to-be watches me with concern etched across her delicate face. I'd like to ruin that pretty little face. I'd like to-
"Oh, Ginny! You gave us such a scare!" Mum swats at everybody to back off so she can get closer. Her breath smells like shepherds pie. Did they eat without me!
"What happened?" I ask, though I already know the answer.
"You don't eat enough, that's what!" Molly Weasley pinches her lips together before pressing a cold compress to my forehead. She really has a knack for contradicting herself. "What did I tell you, Ginevra?"
I sit up as she walks away, tossing the wet rag across her shoulder and mumbling to herself, "Always working. Never comes to see her family anymore! Hardly eats! I don't even know why I try! Doesn't take care of herself…"
The woman goes from concerned to angry faster than the speed of light. Eh, that's my mother.
As soon as she leaves the room, Harry and Ron grab my arms and lift me up. I hear Hermione whispering in the corner, "No, love. Auntie's not going to die."
"Blimey!" Ron shakes his head.
"You took a hard fall, Gin. You okay?" Harry's hand is on the small of my back and I fight the urge to smack it away. Pig.
"Would you like some water?" Cho's voice is soft and low.
Even though she's done nothing wrong, I can't help being short with her. "No."
What exactly does Cho have that I don't? Besides the long legs and tiny waist. And maybe the shiny long hair and full chest… And perfectly rounded hips. Bitch. My inner demon demands vengeance.
At that moment, Rose races to me and wraps her arms around my legs. "Auntie, are you dead?"
I peer down at her and smile, "No, I'm as alive as can be. If I weren't, I couldn't do this…!" Reaching down, I tickle Rose until her face turns red from laughing. That little girl always lifts my spirits.
"Are you sure you don't need anything?" Hermione asks.
My body is sore and I know there'll be evidence of my fall protruding from my head in the morning, but there isn't much anybody can do about that. "I am a little thirsty. I could use a glass of water."
Signaling to my brother, Hermione points to the kitchen. "Ron, get Ginny some water."
"What? Why do I have to do it? You're the one that asked!" Some brother, I think.
"Ronald Weasley!" Hermione barks.
Before they begin bickering, I decide to cut in. "Don't worry about it. I should go home, anyway. I've still got work to do before tomorrow."
In the kitchen, Mum and Dad are discussing Harry's impending marriage. Dad's reassuring her that Cho's a good girl. Dad sees the best in everybody.
"I know that, Arthur. I just… Is she really right for Harry?"
Hmm. Maybe I don't give my mother enough credit.
"Hey," they immediately stop speaking and look up. "I'm going to go home now. I've got a busy day tomorrow."
"Oh, are you sure? You haven't even eaten yet. I made you a plate."
I check the time and see that it's getting late. "Can I take it with me?"
The look I'm getting from my parents is one of sympathy. If Harry hadn't made his announcement today, they wouldn't be going so easy on me.
Nodding, Mum moves to bring me the wrapped-up plate. "Sure, dear. But it's dark out. Take the floo."
I leave quickly. Their thoughts make me out to be pathetic.
"Girl, now I know that that is not organic."
Cam, my roommate for two years now, is from America. He sounds funny, but he's actually pretty intelligent. I met him three years ago at an art show in London. His muggle interest in the "paranormal" attracted him to me. I guess he could sense the magic in me. Some muggles seem to notice these things. I don't know why I let him move in. He drives me mad!
I sit the plate down on the counter and shrug out of my jacket. "Well what?"
Placing his hands on his hips, Cam swings his head to the side, "Are you going to answer my question?"
"You didn't ask a question."
"Don't be such a drama queen." I move toward my bedroom, flinging my hair out of its bun.
He thrusts his arm out to block me. "Oh no you don't, sugarplum. You best sit down and tell me what's going on up in that head."
I look to the floor, not sure if I'm ready to discuss it. But then, Cam has a way of listening to my problems like they're actually important. "Ugh. It's been a bad day."
Sitting back down, Cam pats the seat beside him and rests his chin in his palms. "I see."
I sit. "Mhm."
"Sorry." I pause and take a deep breath. "The love of my life is getting married."
"Harry," I correct.
"And to top it off, I have to interview the person that tormented me in school." I lean back into the sofa and wrap my arms around my head. "I mean, this guy made me cry myself to sleep."
"What's he look like?"
Removing my arms, I give my over-eager roomie the death glare. "Really, Cam?"
"Just curious. My bad."
"Yeah, your bad," I laugh. "You muggle Americans say some very odd things."
Cam's mouth falls open , "You British witch people need my muggle American sense of style."
I mimic him and hold out my arms to get a better look at my snuggly knit sweater. "What's wrong with this?"
"You sure you want to ask?"
The last time I asked Cam what he thought of my clothing, he took my feelings in his overgrown bear hands like a piece of paper and shredded it. "Pass."
For a moment, we're both content to just sit in silence. I lay my head on Cam's shoulder and he awkwardly pats my head.
"You're not going to put that pesticide playground in our fridge, right?"
Leave it to Cam, I think. I stand up and intentionally step on his foot as I pass by. On the way to my room, I knock the plate into the trashcan. "I've got work to do."
Mornings like this are the reason I forget sometimes what's so great about having a job. With eyelids that keep threatening to close on me and no desire to be here, there's not a doubt in my mind that I'm not going to brief myself before the interview. But it isn't like I need it after a night of reading 150 pages on why Draco Malfoy is the sexiest man alive. Please!
I hear the click-clacking of Lizzy's heels down the hall. Like clockwork she's at my door, right on time to rouse me. "Coffee?"
My head shoots up, "Angel." The aroma of the steaming black liquid is so enticing I almost stick my nose in it, the cup greedily gripped between both my hands.
"Mr. Malfoy will be here in thirty minutes," Lizzy states matter-of-factly while pulling a paperclip from my forehead. I can only imagine there's a paperclip shaped indent somewhere above my brow.
My eyes remain closed as I take my first sip. "Don't ruin this for me."
Lizzy shifts her weight from one foot to the other. "Er… yes, Ma'am. Is there anything else I can get you?"
"Another eight hours of sleep."
"Something possible, perhaps?"
I inhale sharply, my lips slowly curving upwards. "Why, Miss Hall, did you just…?"
Looking haughty and happy with herself, Lizzy stands up straighter, "You're not the only one that can be witty, Ms. Weasley."
"Well, I'm impressed," I say, returning to my coffee.
Lizzy hovers again, but I ignore her. Last time she hovered something bad happened. "If I may be so bold, you're… um, shoes?"
I'm wounded. I love my moccasins! I've got four pairs. "Yes, they're shoes, Lizzy. What of it?"
"Right. Well, you've got two different shoes on, then."
Horrified, I glance down at my feet to find she's right! One is brown and the other a navy blue. I can't see Malfoy like this! Panic ensues. I launch out of my seat, pushing over the much-loved coffee while I'm at it and splattering it all over my pants.
Lizzy quickly jumps in with a tiny napkin that could hardly absorb a drop, let alone an entire cup of liquid. "Don't worry, Ms. Weasley."
"Don't worry!" I stare at her incredulously. "Lizzy! I look like a fool!"
Bending her knee and reaching behind her, she removes a red stiletto heel. "You can wear mine for the interview."
"They don't match what I'm wearing, though." Despite Lizzy's kindness, I'm still freaking out. Not to mention I'm clumsy as it is. Add six inches and I'm doomed! "And look at this. It's going to stain!"
"Then I guess it's a good thing we're about the same size."
I do the once over on Lizzy and freeze. It's true, I didn't like her in the beginning; Lizzy Hall is the type of woman you assume didn't earn the job because of her dizzying intellect. Let's just put it this way: when my mother met her, she couldn't stop blushing. My chest constricts in panic again while I take in the clingy red dress she's wearing. "Isn't there some spell we can use?"
Her tone offers a swift slap of reality, "What are your other options? You've got," she pauses to look at her watch, "twenty-four minutes now."
Blast! Cam is on laundry duty at home this week, meaning it hasn't been done. I'm wearing the only "clean" thing I've got. Would it be worth going home just for a matching shoe? Yes! "Lizzy, hold down the fort. I'll be back."
"Suit yourself," she shrugs, putting that death trap back on her foot. "Should I interview Mr. Malfoy myself when he arrives?"
With my finger, I flip the folder open and read Luxembourg: Three time champions! on the header of an article. "Fine!"
I sigh in defeat and begin unbuttoning my blouse. "Close the door."
Sitting at my now nice, clean desk, I place a piece of parchment and quill before me. I cross my legs, but quickly uncross them as I feel the clingy red fabric slip down my thigh. I nervously reread my interview questions.
"Ms. Weasley?" Lizzy knocks on the door and announces, "Mr. Malfoy is here."
I stand, still looking through my notes, "Send him in, Lizzy."
Looking up, I see that Malfoy is already standing before me. My stomach drops. I bite my cheek to keep my mouth from falling open.
The articles, blogs, fan pages, websites… they were all right. Draco Malfoy is unquestionably the sexiest man alive. His eyes are liquid silver. I want to swim in them. His hair is long like his father's, pale blond. So soft, I think. My fingers twitch, wanting to run through it. I recognize the sharp contours of his face, his fine bones and hard jaw. I hate this man.
He holds his hand out to me, "Ms. Weasley. I believe we've already met."
Understatement of the year. I ignore his hand and nod my head in acknowledgment.
Lizzy squirms in the doorway. Her stare of approval isn't lost on me. I remind myself that rolling my eyes isn't professional. "Anything else, Miss Hall?"
"Oh. Um, Mr. Cuffe's revision," she hands me a folder and, before she leaves, smiles at Malfoy. I wonder if she remembers she's wearing my clothes.
Taking the folder, I open it and glance inside at a list of questions. This means Mr. Cuffe either didn't approve of the interview I had planned or wanted to add something. I hope it's the latter. A part of me is slightly insulted. I remember delivering these to Rita Skeeter before she was "dismissed." She had a tendency to throw them away.
"Very well. Should we begin, Mr. Malfoy?" I ask, gesturing for him to sit down in the seat across from me.
His laugh fills the room, "You don't have to be so formal with me, Ginevra." He closes the door behind him.
I gesture to the seat again. He smirks and places both hands flat on my desk, leaning over me, "It's been a long time. How have you been?"
Irritated, I stand in an attempt to take control of the situation. In war, never give the opponent the upper hand. Even with these ridiculous heels, he still stands a few inches above me. "Mr. Malfoy, may we begin now, please?"
He straightens and I follow his eyes as they move down my body, "Of course."
When we're both finally seated, I clear my throat and grab my quill. His eyes – full of amusement – never leave me. My entire body is tingling. "So… How long have you been with the Bigonville Bombers?"
"Four years now."
I wait for him to elaborate, but he doesn't. I should have known he'd be difficult to interview. "You attended Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, yes?"
Lifting an eyebrow, his expression tells me he's not impressed. "You know I did."
Sighing heavily, I explain, "Yes, well, I have to ask." Shuffling the papers before me, I glance at one of Cuffe's questions. "What inspired you to go to Luxembourg?"
"My mother has family in Luxembourg. Before the war, she insisted that we leave. As you know, my father's allegiance was to Voldemort. My mother, too frightened to confront him, asked me to join her and together we fled to Luxembourg."
Bologna. The war was a tough time for everybody and Malfoy's disappearance frustrates me. I'm not going to let him get away with some cookie-cutter answer. "Your mother has family in Luxembourg? I thought all the Blacks lived here."
He shifts in his seat, completely relaxed. "You thought wrong."
Bastard. I shove Cuffe's questions aside. "Do you not feel guilty for running during the war, rather than staying and fighting?"
"Not at all."
I can feel the blood rushing to my face. "People died while you ran away."
"You think me a coward, Weasley? My father spent my entire life as a Death Eater. I didn't want that." Despite the harsh content of his words, Malfoy remained calm and never raised his voice. That just made me even angrier.
"You didn't seem to mind it so much in school."
He crosses his arms before speaking, "Yes, well, not everything is so black and white."
"Isn't it? You, black. Me, white. Seems pretty simple to me."
"Simple, eh? You think my life was that easy?"
I scoot up in my chair and plan to do damage. "Maybe it was just the silver spoon sticking out of your mouth."
He doesn't speak for a long time, but I want his response, so I wait.
"No amount of money can account for this." Lifting his sleeve, I see Voldemort's mark practically rising from his flesh. "I didn't have a choice, Weasley. My parents weren't as loving as yours."
We'd all suspected Draco Malfoy would follow in his father's footsteps, but I suppose a part of me didn't believe it. I reach out, as if to touch it, but swiftly retract my hand and hold it to my chest.
"I- I'm…" I stutter.
"You're what?" For the first time, Malfoy sounds mad. Livid. That type of contained anger frightens me. He reminds me of a snake, tranquil and still before a swift attack.
"Excuse me." Without knowing how to respond, I leave Malfoy alone in my office.