This is for my friend Kate's birthday (which was on the 8th March. WHOOPS.) Um, anyway. We both love Zanny muchly, and I hope that you guys might consider it as a pairing. I can feel my regular readers judging me. I'm sorry guys, I'm sorry. It's just so shippable, even if he's such a dick and she's made for Harry. Sorry. This is genuinely the longest fanfic I have ever written. I hope it's not too long D: I'M REALLY NERVOUS BECAUSE IT'S A BIT CRAP AND THIS IS MY FIRST ZANNY BUT I HOPE IT'S OKAY.
But anyway, HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY KITKAT! LOVE YOU!
"Why not? It'd be cool."
"It'd be morally degrading."
"You'd be so cute."
"I am not cute, woman, I am a man."
"You're a Hufflepuff."
"I am a manly Hufflepuff."
"Well I don't know that many if any manly Hufflepuffs, Smithy, so your case is broken," Parvati Patil finished, folding her arms in a gesture of triumphant finalisation, the blond boy on the settee in front of her raising his eyebrows to record height. "Hufflepuffs are adorable; we all know and accept that."
"Just like all Gryffindors are precocious, self-absorbed idiots who drink too much, get into fights and throw up all over the place afterwards?" Zacharias Smith replied in a jovial tone, which caused Parvati to poke her tongue out. "Stop being so judgemental."
"But you would be the cutest couple ever if you just did that," Parvati groaned, throwing herself into the seat next to him and pinching the bridge of her nose as if she was having a very difficult time with a small petulant child rather than a nineteen year old friend. "Everyone knows co-ordination is the key to a happy relationship."
"That's bullshit," Zach hummed. "Everyone knows co-ordination is the key to being beaten up."
"Please," whined Parvati, leaning into his shoulder. "Please wear it; you'll be the best friend ever."
"No," replied Zach shortly. "I'm not wearing any dippy hippy shit for you, okay? I drink beer, not do pot."
"Well if you did pot you'd at least be more interesting," Parvati replied on one long sigh. "You could tell me things about bad trips and addiction and fighting it and going cold turkey and then your girlfriends or boyfriends will be like 'oh Zach, you're so brave!' and you can be all, 'oh, girlfriend stroke boyfriend, I am, I really am.' You see what you're missing out on?"
"I think you're confusing the implications of pot with acid, and you're right, I will begin ingesting Class A drugs immediately, I can't believe I've gone without it for so long." His sarcasm was delivered almost monotonously and Parvati shrugged, standing up.
"It's not hippy dippy shit by the way," she said, pointing an accusing finger at him, and he grinned. "It's creative and it's fun and it will speak wonders for you. People will think you have depth rather than seeing that desolate dark soul of yours."
"It is so desolate and dark," Zach said with a smile as Parvati stalked off.
She had been going on about her new project for a few days and Zach was sick of it already. Sharing a flat with her and her fashion crazed friends was not something that he really appreciated, much less being asked to model some of their latest 'designs'. He did not want to be pretending to date Hannah Abbott clad in matching fluorescent outfits for her stupid photo shoots. Besides, their photo-selves always gave them away by looking at best mildly irritated. Nevertheless, Parvati persevered and always managed to get what she wanted. Her ideas either hit the mark exactly or were completely obscure, and Zach had a feeling that her latest one would fall into the latter category.
The doorbell rang to break through his muse and he crossed his legs, waiting for the shout to come that he needed to answer it himself. Sure enough, three voices hollered "ZACH!" and he sighed, before pushing himself to his feet and moving towards the porch. He let the door swing open, grinning, when he saw who it was. His grin faltered for a second before he reinstated a smirk upon his face. "Weasley Five," he said, nodding.
"Weasley Seven, actually," Ginny replied waspishly. "If you're going to be obnoxious, at least be right." She shoved past him, and he snorted.
"Let yourself in, why don't you," he called after her, and she turned and flashed him the sweetest smile she could muster.
"Thanks, Smith, you're so accommodating!" she exclaimed, and he bit his lip, watching as she made herself comfortable on the settee, in his seat. "I'm here for Hannah," she told him matter-of-factly, and he smirked again. "Girls night out, you know, the usual."
"Oh, wonderful," he replied, smirking. "And what merits the piss up?"
Ginny turned, flipping her hair over her shoulder with the sudden movement, and looked at him, a look that should have made his insides go cold and yet just caused him to smirk more. "What merits a good night out?" she corrected him, and he shrugged.
"Nah, I think I meant piss up." He raised his eyebrows questioningly at her. "One of you engaged? Oh, are you and Potter getting married? Oh goody! Where's my invite, Weasley Five?"
"Seven." Her eyes dropped from his face before she answered. "Do we have to have something to give us the opportunity to go out? Is that how it works nowadays, we need a satisfactory reason?"
"I just asked if you were tying the knot, that's all. Usually merits a jolly good knees-up." He mimicked straightening a bowtie and cocked one eyebrow to match the stereotypical accent he had thrown on. She looked torn between laughter and disgust.
"Well, we're not," she finally replied, eyes travelling back up to meet his. "So."
"So." He shrugged, deciding to let it drop, before gesturing over to the kitchen area. "Want one for the road?"
"I don't know, does that mean I have to bear your company for longer than I already have?" she asked, and he could hear a teasing glint to her voice that wouldn't have been there two years ago. And in all honesty, she would have been well within her rights to hate him still now for how he had acted at that battle.
"I'll make it decidedly strong, then you can knock that back and I'll seem like a whole different person," he replied, and she chuckled.
"On second thoughts, I'll just have some pumpkin juice or tea. I don't want to arrive at this place smashed. Then I'll seem really screwed."
Zach frowned a little at this statement. So there was a reason for them going out really, even if it was different to the kind he had been expecting.
At that moment Hannah burst into the room in a cloud of blonde hair and perfume, sweeping Ginny into a hug with a little squeak that Zach termed 'the squeal of remorse'. "Gin!" she said as Ginny awkwardly patted her on the back. "I'm so, so sorry to hear it. You two were like, meant to be. You were it. You were the cutest thing on Earth. I can't believe it didn't work out, it totally should have."
"Well, obviously we weren't meant to be," Ginny replied with another small laugh that sounded completely depreciative of humour. "It's just... things happen, you know, Hannah?"
"Still, that complete bastard!" Hannah exclaimed, and Ginny shook her head.
"No, he's not a bastard, it's not his fault. It's amicable, Hannah. It just didn't work out, that's all. Nothing he did, nothing I did, it just didn't work."
Zach had the distinct feeling Hannah wasn't really listening to the redhead's words in her search for something consoling that she could say. He wondered whether he should say something when Hannah's eyes flitted up in his direction.
"Zach, what are you doing? Are you eavesdropping?" she asked him accusingly, and he folded his arms defensively.
"No, I'm making your guest a bloody drink."
The blonde girl studied him for a moment before deciding that he was telling the truth. "Oh, great, I'll have a peach melba then."
"Why certainly madam, would you like this before or after I've parked up the Ferrari? This is a hovel of a kitchen, not a bloody muggle cocktail bar."
"Alright then, smart-arse, I'll have a butterbeer to go," Hannah replied, before patting Ginny's knee in a supportive way. "Honey, I'm just going to go sort out my dress a bit. Will you be alright in here?"
"Honestly Hannah, I won't fall to pieces if you go and fuss over your tights for a bit, calm down," Ginny smiled, and Hannah beamed, standing up and leaving for her bedroom. Zach watched her go, stirring at the mug, before turning back to Ginny, who sighed heavily. "So that's my problem, Smith, there you are. That's why we're going to get smashed. Though if I do get married I don't think you'll be top of the invite list."
"Shit, I'm sorry, mate," he murmured in reply, and she stopped, her expression clearing, and stared at him. There was something about that outburst that seemed to console her more than anything anyone else had said. She nodded.
"It's okay. It's just, you know, one of those things." She sniffed and smiled. "Life goes on, eh?"
He replicated her smile, before frowning mockingly. "What do you mean I'd not be on the invites? I thought I'd be top of the list. In fact, I thought I'd have my very own special page."
"Yes, the banned section," Ginny replied, laughing a little, and he grinned. She leant forwards, looking at the items on the coffee table, and he returned to occupying himself making the drinks, glancing outside the window at the wall of the other block of flats across the alley from theirs and feeling the usual sinking feeling take hold of him. He hated living here.
"What are these?"
At her voice he turned back around and squinted to make out what she was holding, only to groan.
"That's Parvati's latest project," he told her, and she raised her eyebrows. "It's her hippy-dippy shit she wants us to do." He heard a muffled protest at that coming from Parvati's room down the hall and laughed. "She thinks co-ordination is the 'next big thing' in serious relationships and all that bullcrap. And get this; she wants me to model it with Hannah because we, as Hufflepuffs, are 'adorable'."
Ginny raised her eyebrows and tilted her head slightly. "I can't see it." She turned back to the drawings and snorted a little. "Any particular reason why this looks more like a blueprint than a fashion design?"
"That's just the way Parvati works," replied Zach as he carried her mug round and set it down on the coffee table in front of her, taking the seat next to her (where she was perched in his seat, a snider part of his personality muttered in his head) and looking over at the drawings. "Oh Merlin, there is no way I am ever going to wear that." He tapped the picture with an accusatory finger. "Colour co-ordination, really."
"Maybe that's what Harry and I were missing," Ginny said, smirking slightly, and he gave her a sad smile, unsure of how to respond to that. In fact, he was surprising himself at the level of kindness he was showing her. This was a rare thing.
"Yeah, well, maybe it would have helped the relationship or whatever, but you'd have looked like twats, and the rest of the world would have more incentive to hate you," he told her with a shrug, and she grinned. "I personally cannot look at happy couples without wanting to vomit. You've done the world a favour."
"Why are you being so nice?"
"I don't think I'm being nice."
"Well, nicer than usual," Ginny amended, studying his face for a moment. "I remember you being a cowardly dick."
"Haven't changed that much, to be honest."
"Yeah, you're still a colossal twat," she agreed. "But you seem a bit... maybe a snipsy bit more likeable."
"And you've lost it again."
"Well, I can't be nice, Weasley, Parvati might call me adorable."
"Trust me, I doubt she'll make that mistake."
Hannah returned, looking virtually exactly the same to Zach, before sweeping Ginny into another hug. "Are you ready to go? Zach, where's my drink?"
"It's on the side, Madam, do you wish me to fetch it for you? Will you require me to turn your bed down tonight or shall I just accompany you to pull out your bar stool when you need to sit down?"
"Shut up," Hannah snapped, before turning to Ginny, smiling as she reeled off a detailed plan about people they were going to meet, places they were going to drink and other gabble that sounded like garbage to Zach as she led the redhead from the door, leaving him to wonder absent-mindedly why he had wanted to make her feel better about her situation than wind her up.
"So, you and Zach seemed to be getting along very well."
"We were? Well I didn't notice that."
"You were getting along brilliantly, don't lie," Hannah said with an annoyingly knowing smile that Ginny wanted to swat from her face. "I could hear you both laughing from my room. I almost didn't want to disturb you."
"Well, maybe he made me laugh once or twice, but that doesn't really mean anything, does it?" Ginny replied quickly, threading one of her hands into her hair and sipping at her drink.
"Why are you being so nice to me?" Hannah imitated in a high-pitched voice that Ginny thought sounded absolutely nothing like her own.
"Well, he was a dickhead at school, the change kind of flustered me."
"Flustered? Oh, how romantic."
"He's still a dickhead," Ginny reinforced, and Hannah scoffed. "He's just, you know, mellowed a bit."
"Well," Hannah said with a smile, leaning on the bar and wringing her hands together, "let's just say, Parvati's outfits would look better on an actual couple!"
Ginny choked on her drink as Hannah burst into a tirade of giggles, leaning forwards and placing her head on her arms, shaking with laughter as Luna appeared behind her, eyebrows raised a little. "Knut for your thoughts?"
"It's just some crappy alcohol induced laughing that was spurned from something pointless," Ginny replied with a smile, as Hannah straightened quickly.
"Ginny's gonna marry Zach."
"Well, that was sudden," Luna commented, and Ginny bit her lip to stop herself snapping at Hannah, who grinned.
"Well, not yet, but I saw them, and they were getting along, if you know what I mean."
"You make that sound like we were on the counter half naked."
"Well, you would have been, the way you two were going."
"Oh, shut up, Hannah," Ginny sighed, rolling her eyes, as Hannah laughed again. "Go on, go buy the next round. I'm going to the loo."
"I'll join you," Luna added, smiling at her warmly as Hannah struggled to compose herself. They fought their way through a crowd of people to reach the toilets, being shoved to and fro violently in a way that made Ginny feel almost seasick, before arriving at the dingy, grotty bathroom. It was in a particularly bad state that evening as Ginny checked her makeup in one of the shattered mirrors. She looked worn down, and she felt it too.
"I'm going to murder her before the night's out," she admitted in a mutter, and Luna smiled a little as she flicked one of her large furry earrings (it emitted a squeak that unsettled the redhead a little) and patted Ginny on the back.
"So why were you getting along?" she enquired, and Ginny clenched her jaw. "I was always under the impression that he wasn't very nice. He always made fun of a lot of us when we were in the DA."
"Exactly," Ginny said through gritted teeth. "That's why we weren't getting along. I just didn't want to sit in silence so I put him to use and told him to make me a drink." That wasn't entirely true though, was it?
"Though he was in the DA," Luna countered. "So he was against injustice."
"Was he?" Ginny replied, wrinkling her nose. "Was he really? He's the epitome of injustice. If injustice were a thing, he'd be it. He is injustice personified."
"Yes, I gathered your point from 'epitome', Ginny," Luna replied lightly, giving her earrings another tweak. "But Hannah usually has an eye for couples. She calls it her sixth sense. Or rather, her sex sense."
"Oh brilliant, we're having this conversation."
"It is fine-tuned."
"I've not had enough to drink."
"She's right when it comes to matchmaking."
"Who's that speaking? Can you hear a buzz?"
"And actually, you'd probably be quite good-"
"La, la la!"
"I've never been blond."
Ernie and Zach both sighed as they raised their glasses to their lips, knocking back a shot, Justin grinning happily to himself. "You always go for that one, it's so unfair," Zach accused, and Justin continued to look smug. Ernie glanced over at Zach and nodded, and the corners of Zach's mouth twitched up.
"I've never been petrified," he responded, saluting as Justin's smirk faded and he was forced to take a shot.
"That's low, Smith," he murmured, and Zach grinned even more. "Go on then, carry on."
"I've never been muggleborn," Ernie continued, and Zach laughed as Justin took another shot from his refilling glass.
"I've never been a dick," he challenged, and Zach sighed, grabbing the bottle.
"You must have been, Justin, once or twice," Ernie said, raising his glass to take a sip, and Justin wrinkled his nose.
"Okay, I've never been a dick and not apologised," he amended, and Zach held out his hand for Ernie's shotglass.
"He's gonna get hammered on this round alone," Ernie murmured as Zach sank lower back onto his elbows, putting down the bottle.
"If we were going in proportion, this round would kill him," Justin agreed with a grin.
They were sitting on the floor in the flat that Zach shared with Parvati, Hannah and Terry Boot, the bottle of strong liquor, the refilling shotglasses and the other debris of young adult lifestyles littered around them. Justin had taught them the drinking game they were now playing a few years back and it had remained their favourite thing to play on a Friday night. They enjoyed ganging up on each other far more than the actual game however, and it usually resulted in one of them, generally Justin, getting smashed out of their skull, and Zach getting bored and finishing off the alcohol, waking up with a splitting headache and a hangover that he thought might kill him the day afterwards. As it was, the trio had already begun to gang up on each other and they were finding it far funnier than they would have done, making the level of their sobriety questionable.
"Okay then," Zach said, folding his arms as he tried to think of something. "I've never had a crush on Hannah."
"I've never had a crush on Ginny!" Ernie shot back before he raised his glass, Justin taking two shots. Zach's eyebrows shot up.
"Neither have I," he defended quickly, but Ernie grinned knowingly, and Zach glared at him and took a swig, before pointing an accusing finger at him.
"That was years ago though," he assured them, and Ernie laughed, Justin setting down his glass with a slight wobble. "I don't fancy her now."
"Not from the way Hannah says it," Ernie replied, and Zach rolled his eyes. "She says you two get along."
"She also said that Leah Varnish was a hermaphrodite and that wasn't true, was it?"
The door clattered open at that moment, and a giggling Hannah entered, supported by two other girls. Zach didn't even have to look at Ernie to know the look on his face as the girl on the left's red hair came into view. "A little help?" she demanded.
"Merlin," Zach muttered, getting to his feet and moving over to take Hannah off of the girls, slinging her arm around his neck.
"Zach," she mumbled tearfully, "they were just so beautiful together."
Zach glanced over at Ginny, who shook her head, a small smile on her face, and he smirked. "Oh, they were lovely, weren't they?"
"They were going to have beautiful babies," she rasped, and he nodded in agreement. "And they were going to play with mine and Nev's and..." Her sentence was interrupted by a hiccough, and Zach grinned.
"Such beautiful babies," he said as he led her towards the others, where Ernie took over in guiding her back to her room as Justin began to make his excuses for why he should leave, his face flushed with alcohol. Zach smirked but nodded.
"I should probably be off too," Luna said lightly. When she saw Ginny's questioning glance, she shrugged. "I don't want to impose on your sexual tension. I'll leave you to it." Before either of them had time to protest, she had followed Justin and disappeared through the door.
With a sigh, Zach turned back around to face the redheaded young woman, eyebrows raised in question.
"Two nights out in one week, Weasley?" he asked, smirking. "You do lead an exciting life."
"It's wild," Ginny replied, and his smirk widened. "Although I hardly think you're qualified to comment on what I can and can't do with my life, Zacharias. Drink?"
So it had gone from surnames to full ones. Well, two could play at that game.
"Well, Virginia," he said as he moved to grab her a fresh glass, to which she snorted.
"Ginevra," she corrected, and he threw a nonchalant shrug, filling the two shotglasses with more of the liquor. "Once again, if you're going to be disdainful at least attempt to be correct."
"Okay, Princess," he sneered, and she pulled a face. "I'm just saying that you're bringing Hannah back in all kinds of states and she..." he faltered, before lowering his voice. "She has started to make assumptions about us. Apparently we're getting on."
"I've heard this," Ginny replied, folding her arms, looking up at him. "I don't know where they got that idea from."
"Me neither," Zach agreed, putting his hand down on the counter next to her. She raised her eyebrows and accepted the glass from him. Perhaps she had had too much to drink and was starting to imagine things, or was acting a bit funny. It could have been either of those, she reasoned, that would explain why she was standing so close to him. "The question is," Zach said, and she could feel his breath on her face. "What do we do about it?"
"About what?" Ginny replied, tilting her head slightly. "We're not getting on."
"Well, it certainly looks that way," a voice came from the kitchenette and Zach dragged his teeth against his lower lip as he tried to bite back his impatience.
"What are you doing up?"
"Friendly," Parvati replied, snatching Zach's glass from him and taking a sniff. "Ew, you're not drinking this crap are you? It's so bad for you, you know." She proceeded to tip the rest of the liquid down the sink.
The look on Zach's face suggested so much that her act had caused him physical pain that Ginny couldn't suppress a giggle, causing his eyes to snap to her. "Oh gosh," she said between laughter, "it was too good. You looked like a little wounded puppy. A little wounded Hufflepuff."
That caused Parvati to laugh, and the slightly cross look on Zach's face just caused Ginny to giggle more, until she was clutching at her stomach and gasping for air.
"Well, once you've all finished enjoying yourselves at my expense," Zach said, folding his arms, and Ginny shoved her fist in her mouth to stop the giggles, "you can do something else- oh my God, just stop laughing. It's not even funny."
No matter what he said, however, he couldn't seem to stop the girls from laughing. "Fine," he said at last, glaring at the two girls who were bent over double, "I'm going to bed. I give up."
"Aw, don't be a grumpy Hufflepuff!" Parvati called. "We love you!"
"You know, I'm having a thought."
"I thought I could smell burning."
"My blue prints," Parvati continued, ignoring Zach, who sat grinning from his makeshift bed on the sofa, "well I really do need a model for them."
"And your hair, Zach, it's amazing."
"Compliments aren't going to get me to do it," Zach replied, though his hand skittered through his blond hair nonetheless, grinning. "Even though my hair is amazing, you're right."
"And you would pull it off, like, really well. I also know the perfect girl to model with you," she added with a smirk. "I know for a fact that you have a crush on her."
"I'm not doing anything with Weasley."
"So you do fancy her!" Parvati cried triumphantly, laughing as Zach kicked the blanket off of him and stood up. "Oh come on, stop throwing a mardy. Ginny won't find that attractive."
"I wish you guys would lay off!" he snapped, spinning round. "I don't like her. I mean, what even made you think I would? She has no sense of humour, she's always angry about something and on top of everything else, she's ginger."
"Well you know what they say about redheads in bed."
Oh it was hard not to smirk. "I wouldn't know, I tend to prefer to date girls with souls, which, incidentally, she would require in order to show up on camera, wouldn't she?"
"Ow, Smith. That was low."
"Then leave it out, Patil, and get off my back," he snapped, pulling his duvet over his head in a hood and stalking off to his bedroom, missing the smirk on her face.
Shopping was easily the worst part of the week, and when the duty fell to Zach, the week would often be one of the worst ones. Today was double the pain of mere shopping, as despite his protests, Parvati had decided to accompany him too.
"Zach, are you even listening to me?"
"Why not? What's wrong?" Parvati asked impatiently.
"Well, first of all, you keep talking, which is bloody annoying," replied Zach flatly, and Parvati clucked her tongue in disagreement. "Second of all, I hate shopping."
"Oh, come on," Parvati said, smirking. "Anyway, we need to buy some more robes for me to model my designs on, and then some new potions supplies, and I was thinking we should get some more biscuits but none of those crappy pumpkin pasties you love, they're full of calories and they make Hannah bloated, unlike you two who just seem to be fucking skinny whatever you eat. Anyway, I really do think we should get some healthier food than usual, you boys just seem to live on coke and crisps and oh my gosh, my mouth can't take anymore..."
Neither could Zach's head, he thought, as he cast a sideways glance and slid through the door to the nearest shop, watching as she continued walking, talking to herself. Turning around, breathing in deeply.
Quality Quidditch Supplies was his Mecca. There was something about it that just drew him in, perhaps the smell of leather or brooms or just the aroma of sport. He hadn't played Quidditch competitively since school, sure, but that didn't stop him collecting these things. Running his fingers over the gloves and sighing, he forgot to look where he was going and crashed into someone.
"Crap, I'm- oh, for crying out loud, it's you," Ginny snapped, folding her arms and flipping her hair over her shoulder. "What are you doing in here?"
Zach couldn't see the point in dishonesty in this incidence. "Hiding from Pav. How about you?"
"Hiding from Hannah," replied Ginny, exhaling loudly and widening her eyes in exasperation.
"Oh shit, she's not out too, is she?" Zach groaned, and Ginny nodded, rolling her eyes.
"You bet. And she's on top form, too. Every boy we've seen she's tried to hook me up with. The amount of addresses I have is unbelievable."
"A lot of addresses?" Zach repeated, and Ginny's lips quirked upwards.
"Oh, well, I am very popular," she replied. "Why, are you jealous?"
"Oh, yes. I need some more pretty boys in my life."
Ginny grinned, before peering out of the window. "I hope she hasn't noticed I've not come back from the loo yet."
"Did you shimmy down the drainpipe?" Zach asked, snorting.
"Oi," she replied, raising her eyebrows. "I could totally shimmy if I wanted, Smith." She leaned forward slightly, squinting at the Leaky Cauldron. "So while I shimmied out of the bathroom, what did you do?"
He smirked, and followed her gaze. "Parvati dragged me shopping. It was hell. She's probably still talking to herself as we speak. To think, all I want is a bloody drink."
"At this time?"
"Gotta keep my liver on the verge of failure, Weasley, it keeps things exciting."
She rolled her eyes. "And you ended up in here?"
"I may not play Quidditch anymore, but I'm not ready to give up fondling gloves or Quaffles yet."
Ginny smirked. "Fondle a lot of balls, do you?"
"I said I wanted more pretty boys in my life."
"I see why now." She grinned, until it faltered. "Shit!" she hissed, pointing at the Leaky Cauldron, before grabbing Zach's arm and spinning him around so that they were facing the other way, though not before the blond boy had caught a glimpse of the sight they were avoiding. Hannah and Parvati had found each other, and looked to be on the war path.
"What do we do?" he asked out of the corner of his mouth, but Ginny silenced him by grabbing his hand and ducking, darting forwards on her mission to get to the back of the shop as quickly as possible.
Three thoughts passed through Zach's mind at this time.
The first of these was that Ginny Weasley had obviously some sort of problem with her sanity as she dragged him through Quality Quidditch Supplies, a scheming look on her face.
The second was the thought that Hannah and Parvati would be unbearable this evening when he returned home and they discovered that not only had he given them the slip, but that he had ended up spending the afternoon with Ginny Weasley.
However, both of these thoughts were painfully overridden by the third, which was that Ginny Weasley holding his hand was not only completely bizarre but also very oddly comfortable. This thought preoccupied him as Ginny hauled him the rest of the distance, darting behind the counter and pulling him into one of the back storage rooms.
"Do you think they saw us?"
"I don't know. I think the crowds of eleven year olds may have shielded us from view. I think Hannah's allergic to Quidditch anyway, too much dirt and testosterone." Zach looked around their new surroundings, raising his eyebrows. "Wow, Weasley. Breaking into the back room of a popular shop. Only you are capable of this."
"Shut up and help me build a barricade."
Zach's eyebrows shot up impossibly higher. "You're insane."
"You're still here, aren't you?"
"Only because you're holding me hostage."
Ginny snorted. "As if. You talk far too much. If I'd have wanted to hold you hostage I'd have bound and gagged you."
"Shut up, Smith." Craning her head round the door, her hair falling over one shoulder and exposing her neck (which obviously was no concern of Zach's, he reminded himself as he tore his eyes from her to examine a nearby box), Ginny looked out into the shop. "It looks like the coast is clear." She turned back, raising an eyebrow sceptically as she watched Zach, who seemed to be concentrating very hard on toying with a snitch, and smirked. "What a palaver. I'm gagging for a drink now."
"Is that you offering?"
"Such a gentleman."
Zach shrugged and stretched his arms out, before pointing through to the front of the shop. "The Leaky's only four doors away. I say if we take it at a run we could make it without Motormouth noticing. A noble quest, Weasley. Be like the DA days all over again."
"You're such a twat," she said, but her lips quirked upwards slightly.
"I'm not saying that they're a crap team," Zach said as Ginny shook her head violently, cackling as he spoke, "I'm just saying you're a shite player. Merlin, Weasley, don't be so easily offended."
"A shite player?" she repeated incredulously as he nodded firmly. "This coming from the bloke who moaned I'd broken his arm when he dropped the Quaffle one match."
"All the more proof! Dirty tactics. Honestly, Weasley, you're blu-brutal."
Ginny cackled again, taking another large gulp of her firewhiskey and hiccupping. "You're a twat."
"And you're pissed," Zach replied, taking her glass from her hand and grinning as she protested, trying to snatch it back.
"I'm not pissed, I'm merry," she snapped, making another swipe for the glass and scowling at him when he raised it higher. "You're pissed."
"You're a twat!"
"We've established this, cherry blossom," Zach replied as Ginny successfully grabbed the glass, taking a triumphant gulp of liquid.
Ginny choked on her firewhiskey. "I'm sorry, what did you just call me?"
"No," Ginny said, shaking her hand. "I distinctly heard the words 'cherry' and 'blossom' pass your lips, Smith."
"I didn't," Zach replied, smiling innocently. "You must be hearing things in your drunken haze."
"I am not drunk!" Ginny snapped, before standing up. "I can apparate and everything."
"Sure you can."
"Don't doubt me Smith!"
"I don't doubt you."
"I can hear you doubting me," she replied, and he grinned as the clock struck eleven behind him. Tom, the hunchbacked barman, rang a bell that signified closing time, before the chairs began to stack themselves on the tables and people began to file out.
It wasn't as if she was having a good time or anything, she thought, but Ginny didn't really want to say goodbye yet. "It's so early!" she protested, and Zach groaned in agreement. "Can't we stay for a bit longer?"
The look on Tom's face blatantly said no.
"Right then," Ginny said, folding her arms, before grabbing the collar of Zach's shirt. "Up, Smith. Up. I have some drinks. And I'm going to prove to you that I'm sober enough to apparate."
"Sounds like a plan," Zach replied, and she grinned in triumph. "The alcohol will work as a good anaesthetic for when you splinch us."
"So you were right, I was wrong," Zach slurred as Ginny span around in a triumphant circle, gesturing at her flat and indicating limbs that were still attached after her successful apparition home. "You can apparate even when you're drunk. Nice one, Weasley."
"I'm not drunk!" she protested whilst raiding a tall cabinet at the back of the living room, glaring as Zach snorted. "I'm not drunk, Smith. You're drunk. In fact, here's your punishment. Jackpot! Shots! Shots! Shots!" She turned around, clutching a bottle of cloudy liquid Zach had never seen before. "Dean always keeps us well stocked."
Ginny sloshed some of the cloudy drink into two glasses clumsily. "Yes."
"Do you make a habit of living with ex-boyfriends?"
"Are we getting a little jealous?"
"Give me the drink," Zach snapped, leaning forwards to snatch one of the glasses from her. Ginny's lips quirked upward. "What am I drinking to?"
"To you not being as much of a dick as previously."
"That'll never work. I'm still an arsehole. You just caught me on a good day." Zach squinted at the shotglass. "Are you sure this isn't poisonous?"
"Are you scared?"
"No," Zach said hastily, and Ginny grinned more. "To our escape from Hannah and Pav!" he toasted, before downing the glass in one, staggering slightly as he smashed it down. "Merlin."
"Is it too Gryffindor for you?"
"If anyone calls me cute again, I'm going to lop their head off."
"I didn't say cute as such," Ginny reminded, leaning on the heels of her hands and smirking at him. "I was just suggesting that Gryffindors were made of stronger stuff than Hufflepuffs."
Zach snorted. "As if." He flopped onto her sofa, kicking his feet into the air, as Ginny leaned over the back of it.
"You're weak, Smith," she told him, and he pulled a face. "I expected so much more of you."
"You're jealous!" Ginny sang, flipping her hair.
"Oh, that's it," Zach replied, rolling his eyes, though he had to pause a moment as he watched the way her hair swished around her shoulders, feeling momentarily mesmerised. Get a grip, Zacharias. "All along I've just dreamt of being ginger. It's my life's ambition."
"Well, you know what they say about redheads in bed," she continued in a sing-song voice, batting her eyelids playfully.
"I'm not sure I do," he replied. "Maybe you should remind me."
That sounded like a challenge if ever she had heard one, and Ginny never backed down on challenges. What happened next left Zach's head reeling in momentary shock, as her hands found his shoulders and then her lips found his and oh my God he was kissing Ginny Weasley who he did not find attractive at all in any way whatsoever.
"Ah," he said when they finally broke apart, a little dumbfounded. "Yes. I remember."
She laughed, before kissing him again, and this time, he was more than happy to kiss her back.
Oh Merlin. What had he been doing last night? He thought he'd learnt from last time that he should never go to bed once he'd drunk a lot, at least not until he had recovered slightly. Oh yes, he'd be paying for this one today. Ernie and Justin must have got him bigtime on the drinking games.
Come to think of it, they must have got him so well that the memories had been erased from his mind. Had his brain been a little less foggy, Zach would have been concerned over the distinct lack of memory of his two best friends from the night before. All he could really think about instead was how hungry he was and how much he wanted a hangover potion. At least his sheets smelt nice. He could just stretch out here now and –
Zach bolted upright as his arm collided with something else; something warm and firm, very much like a body. Blinking hard and shaking his head slightly (bad move. He now felt vaguely seasick), he turned cautiously and looked down at the red sheets (red! Zach didn't ever have sheets on his bed) tangled around the sleeping form of a girl. Not just any girl, either.
"Fuck," he exhaled, rubbing a hand over his face as the blotchy memories of the previous day slipped into his mind. The more his vision cleared, the more his stomach dropped, especially as he recognised his clothes scattered on the floor. "Brilliant," he muttered. "Fan-fucking-tastic."
At that moment, Ginny groaned, and Zach glanced upwards. All this needs now is for her brother to walk in. That'll just be the icing on the cake.
Her eyes opened slowly, sliding in and out of focus as she fought to wake up, before she wiped her eyes blearily and smiled at him. This was shortly followed by her eyes fully widening. She threw herself into a sitting position.
"Shit!" she exclaimed, pulling the duvet around herself so suddenly that Zach almost fell from the bed. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I'm asking the same question."
"Shit," she muttered again, before looking at him. "You need to get out before Luna wakes up!"
"I..." Zach began, but a voice in the corridor cut him off and Ginny pushed him so violently that he tumbled onto the floor.
"Ginny? Are you planning on getting up at all today? It's quarter to three."
"Um," she called, hastily wrapping her duvet around herself and kicking Zach under the bed, before darting around as fast as her hangover would allow her and hurling his clothes at him, untucking the mattress cover to shield him from view and flopping back on top of the bed as the door opened. "Yeah!"
Luna poked her head inside and smiled. "Hannah flooed. She says you disappeared on her."
"Did I?" Ginny asked, giggling nervously. "Oh, yes. Must've. Fancy that. Oh, silly me."
"Did you at least have a good time, whatever you were doing?"
"Hmm?" It was as if she could feel him laughing underneath the bed. Aiming a sharp kick at him with the heel of her foot, she smiled at Luna. "Oh, yes! Um, yes. I think I'm coming down with something though now. Silly me!"
"I'll bring you a potion," Luna replied, closing the door with a knowing smile, and Ginny cursed her friend's uncanny ability to know everything related to her.
"Ow!" Zach protested from under the bed once he heard the door click shut, a noise that made Ginny feel vaguely happier. "What the fuck was that for?"
"You know what it was for."
"Injustice," he muttered, but he fell silent again as the door opened once more and Luna re-entered, wordlessly setting down two green hangover potions and leaving a thoroughly pink Ginny sitting above a concealed and baffled Zach.
Friday evenings returned to normal after that. Zach shared a bottle of firewhiskey with Ernie and Justin, ridiculing each other with incidents of their past; Hannah would return crying with a variety of different friends in the early hours of the morning, and Parvati would judge them all silently as she pored over her blueprints and designs. However, there was no sign of Ginny. If he didn't know better, he'd have said she'd been avoiding him.
It wasn't until Parvati dragged him out shopping again that he saw her in the Leaky Cauldron, steadily ignoring his gaze as Parvati babbled on to him.
"I'm going for a slash, Pav," he interrupted her, feeling a small amount of satisfaction at her squeal of "too much information, Smith!", and making his way over to the redhead, who dropped her gaze.
"Drinking at this time?"
"Got to keep my liver on the verge of failure," she repeated, and he grinned.
"Well, it keeps things exciting." He folded his arms and raised his eyebrows. "I thought I was supposed to ignore you, as the prick in this sorry duo."
"I'm all for you doing that."
"Nah, I like to tease."
"Do you? I hadn't noticed."
"I'm very subtle."
"The thing is," Ginny began, "and I cannot believe I'm about to say this, but – I kind of think Pav and Hannah were right."
"Leah Varnish is a hermaphrodite?"
"Don't be a dick."
Zach grinned, and she rolled her eyes. "I bloody hate it when they're right. It's so... wrong. It's like the natural balance of the world is out of order."
"Here's me trying to have a serious moment, and you're being a twat."
"It's an all in one package."
Ginny sighed heavily. "Why is it that of all the guys in the world, I end up wanting the muppet?"
Zach forgot the comment he was going to make. He looked at her blankly, mouth open, gaping, the look causing her to giggle. "Could you possibly repeat that?"
"I was wrong, I like you, you twat."
There was something innocent about his surprise, and Ginny grinned, before rolling her eyes and pulling his face down to meet hers, pressing their lips together, and for one surprised, confused, but extremely happy moment, Zach couldn't hear Parvati gasp in the background or one of the wizards nearby cheer or be aware of anyone else bar the fact that he was kissing Ginny Weasley, which made him feel about twelve years old in the fact that he was both extremely happy and unreasonably excited by this fact. When they finally broke apart, he was a little dazed for a second, blinking as he tried to reorient himself.
"Well," Ginny said, blinking. "That's the first time I've ever heard you be quiet. We should record this moment."
"I..." Zach said, but he seemed to be incapable of words.
"You're adorable, Smith. An adorable little Hufflepuff."
He would have had a retort, he told himself later. It just wouldn't present itself at that moment in time.
"I can't believe we're doing this," Ginny muttered out of the corner of her mouth, glancing sideways at Zach, who muttered back, "Oh I can."
"When I saw these designs, I never thought she'd actually carry through."
"You've obviously never lived with Parvati Patil then."
"Zach, Ginny, will you stop talking and smile? You're going to ruin the photo."
"Sorry, Pav, we just can't get over the beautiful outfits," replied Ginny with a flourish of the garishly tie-dyed skirt. "We feel like such a happy couple."
"Oh, I love it when you say things like that," Hannah squealed from the sidelines, and Ginny smirked as Zach made a noise that clearly suggested he didn't.
"Cheer up, you miserable sod."
"I find it hard to be positive when I look a bit like a seventies sitting room."
"Will you two please stop talking?" Parvati complained again, before giving them the thumbs up. "Smile on the count of three, two, one!"
There was a bright flash and Parvati beamed excitedly. "Yes. I knew this would work. Colour co-ordinated couples. It'll really take off again soon."
"I do hope not," Zach replied, and Parvati flipped him the finger, before gathering her things together, yapping happily with Hannah as they prepared to apparate home. "Gaudy clothes, honestly. How did they ever take off in the first place?"
"I don't know," Ginny said, shrugging as she straightened Zach's collar, "I'd say that orange was very fetching on you. I'd say it particularly accentuates the purple and red, and the black of your soul."
"At least I have a soul," he replied, putting his hands around her waist and pulling her closer, her eyebrows shooting upwards at his comment.
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that, Smith."
"Only because it's true."
Ginny smirked, before stepping up onto tiptoes and pressing her lips to his again. "I don't know why I put up with you. You're such a twat. There's just something about you... even when you're wearing gaudy seventies tie-dye and being even more insufferable than usual, you're still mildly attractive."
"Well," Zach replied, and Ginny laughed, "Pav did say colour co-ordination was good for couples."
I HATE THIS ENDING SO MUCH. THIS WAS SO DIFFICULT TO END, I'M NOT EVEN JOKING.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy! Happy belated birthday Kate! :D