Unofficial Portkey Archive

Highrollers by InTheStars



A/N: All righty, here it is. :) I know this a really quick update. This one is normal-sized and was going to be longer/take more time to publish, but I decided I'd cut it off here since the next chapter will probably be on the epic side. It should also have a scene that's been bouncing around my head since chapter six which I am excited abooooout.

Also, the timeline might be off, I don't know. I don't feel like going back and counting the weeks I mentioned during the course of the story. I'm sorry if it's not right. Quidditch starts in early to mid November though, so that's what I'm sticking to. All of this happens in a pretty condensenced bit of time anyhow. (Note: This chapter is set in early to mid November.)

ENJOY! Your reviews for last chapter really mean a lot by the way. :) THANK YOU ALL AGAIN.

She was having trouble sleeping.

It wasn't anything serious. For a good few years - even still sometimes - she had nightmares about the Chamber and Tom, but those night terrors were few and far between now. That had been serious, in her second and third year, having dark, terrifying dreams about cruel eyes and a velvety voice, about snakes and cold, wet stone. It was at its worst during the summer - her mum would desperately try to shake her awake amidst all Ginny's crying and moaning. She started taking potions that made her nights calmer and more peaceful; Ginny learned charms to put on her bed hangings when school started. Eventually, mercifully, the nightmares faded.

But this. This was different. It wasn't the fear of dreams keeping Ginny awake; on the contrary when she did dream lately she couldn't even remember what happened.

The trouble came with lying her head down. Every time she settled into her sheets there was nothing but the wind whipping at the tower, her red and gold hangings cocooning her, and her thoughts to keep her company. She didn't fancy thinking much lately, because it seemed the harder she tried not to, the easier it was to think of Draco Malfoy.

It frustrated her. She tossed and turned, thinking about the past few months. She replayed everything in her head, tried to turn it over and dissect it, tried to understand it against her own will. She wasn't the type of girl to sit around and think like this. At least not anymore. Now she just stopped her churning mind and did what felt right. She followed her gut.

When she liked Harry, she would do this sometimes: curl up in bed and think of him until she couldn't keep her eyes open. She would play out ridiculous romantic fantasies in her head, wonder what it would be like to kiss him, to be fancied by him. In her first year, sometimes she would think of Tom, too. Maybe for a while even after the Chamber she did; maybe she yearned for Tom's false concern over her silly problems and every thought. She longed for an attentive friend she could tell everything, when she couldn't find one. Who wanted to talk to little Ginny Weasley, who had been possessed by the Dark Lord? Not even Ron cared to ask how she was, even when she was having those night terrors. That sort of thing was just Not Done in the Wizarding World.

She supposed it was no matter. She had friends now; at the very least she had Luna. Tom wasn't - well he had never been real, not in his intentions. Ginny had built her friendship with him on lies and deceit. It had only been real to her.

At the end of all these meandering thoughts, Ginny concluded she just hadn't been so occupied by another person in awhile, and she hated that Draco would be the object of so much of her attention.

He was awful.

She hated him.

Except the feelings that accompanied her thoughts weren't of hatred, not really. Not anymore. Ginny felt inexplicably sad and confused thinking of him now. She felt shame and anger, but also curiosity and shame and anger for the same.

He seemed to haunt her without meaning to, snaking into her mind without being called. She wanted to blame him and his incessant chasing of her; just a few weeks ago she needed that scapegoat. Now it fell on her deaf ears: it wasn't him anymore. Maybe it never had been. Despite all her anger and shame and all the awful things he had said and done to her, the fact remained she had always been a bit drawn to him; to his good looks and scowling charm, his flippant cruelness and his bullying, spineless family. She was like a moth to a flame, yet always sensible enough not to fly too close, to admire and hate him from afar. To keep from getting burned.

Draco didn't bother her now. He merely went on with his life after their chance encounter in the library; she followed suit. Sometimes she would feel the pressure of his stare, lift her eyes in the halls to find his cold grey eyes following her. Sometimes she would even look at him carefully from across the Great Hall, both willing him to feel her gaze and hoping he didn't. Colin's cheerful voice or Luna's errant thoughts would cut her mission short and she would break away from it, shake it off until the urge crept up on her the next meal. It was shameless and she knew that, but she couldn't help herself. She never could.

Ginny was confused. She wanted to know now. She wanted to know why he felt affection for her. How he could. Worse yet, she wondered what he would be like, if things were different. If she was, or if he was, or if the world were different. How would he treat her without all his pride and prejudice, without all his cruelness? Would he be warm to her? Could he be? Were those few moments he had been acted or were they real, taking into account what she knew now?

All of her desires to know him in and out consumed her, but she wouldn't try. She couldn't. It was just another thing that was Not Done in the Wizarding World. She was supposed to hate him, not want to know him. He was a Malfoy. She was a Weasley. And his father had tried to kill her, for Merlin's sake. By all accounts, Ginny should blindly believe she already knew everything about him she needed to. But she didn't.

So, she had trouble sleeping.

"Colin, look, I really can't stay longer. I have Quidditch practice."

It must have been the third time she told him this week. Last month had passed quickly - too quickly, and November's first game was bearing down upon the Gryffindor team. They were slated first, and of course, against Slytherin. Ginny tried to not think on it; it hardly mattered. As a Chaser, she had no reason to worry about facing off with Draco. The point was Harry was Captain now and as Captain he had been working them to the bone every other night a week and even on Saturday mornings, rain or shine. The Slytherins were practicing just as much now.

It was Thursday and dinnertime. She had just popped into the Great Hall for some food before venturing out to practice. The game was scheduled for Saturday and she really couldn't be late to practice. Furthermore, she didn't want to be. It didn't help that Colin seemed to be hounding her lately, in such a friendly and nice way that she couldn't be upset with him about it. He kept asking her to do purely platonic-sounding things with him: study or have dinner in the Hall, play a game of Exploding Snap or chess in the common room before bed. But he kept smiling in that way he had in Hogsmeade - so hopefully that Ginny knew there was more to it than friendship.

"It's okay, I understand," Colin said, looking a bit forlorn as he glanced down at his plate. "We need to beat those Slytherins, eh?" He added this with a burgeoning smile, looking up as Ginny pushed herself to her feet.

She managed to give him a patient smile of agreement and bade him farewell, letting out a sigh of relief as she head for the doors. Being around Colin had never felt so awkward and suffocating before. Now she guiltily tried to avoid him and cut their interactions short.

Ginny couldn't help but glance to her right before she reached the exit. It was a habit by now, checking for Malfoy. She frowned a little when she didn't spot him and tore her eyes away, doubling her speed out to the pitch. It didn't matter where he was; she had more important things to worry about this evening. And that was Quidditch.

They had been running drills all week and playing out game plans. Harry had them memorize a few and she went over them in her head now as she opened the castle doors. The night was pleasant - Ginny enjoyed these short November heatwaves - although there was a light breeze that gave her slight shivers. She tried to remember if she had left her Quidditch sweater in her locker or if she had chucked it in the basket last week.


She spun around, halfway to the pitch by now and jarred out of her thoughts. Draco Malfoy walking towards her with his usual confident gait was just as jarring, if not more so. Her heart thudded against her ribcage and her breath caught in her throat; all she could manage was watching as his cloak billowed with his quick steps. What could he want?

His expression was impassive: both indifferent and bored. She could make it out as he came closer. The sight of it brought her back to herself and she swallowed, schooled her own features from her momentary shock and curiosity the best she could.

He stopped a couple of yards away from her and yet still towered over her. Her spine straightened in answer; she couldn't help but flush under his blank silver eyes. They would be vacant and unfeeling if it were not for the veil she could sense appropriating those ideas. He couldn't feel nothing, could he? They hadn't spoken in more than a week.

His arm lifted; he held out his hand. She noticed for the first time the sealed enveloped he carried. "It's prefect rounds. For Granger. I know she's at the pitch to watch your brother," he explained swiftly.

Oh. Something hopeful and fluttering inside her fell.

She looked down at the parchment, down at his long, pale fingers with a furrowed brow.

Just prefect rounds. He wanted her to give them to Hermione. Of course.

Her tongue darted out to wet her lips. "Why can't you give them to her yourself?" she asked, and with a bit more strength than she felt.

Ginny's eyes sought his again; she saw the telltale sign of impatience break through his stare. His lips twitched and so did his wrist. He stepped closer. Ginny set her jaw.

"Because, Weasley," Draco said slowly, "if I go on the pitch during Gryffindor's practice everyone will accuse me of spying. I'm not in the mood to deal with your House's ridiculous big-headed prattle."

"We're not big-headed," she protested immediately, forgetting about her disappointment, about all of her curiosity for the moment. Gods, he was such a prat.

"Oh, so your brother and Potter wouldn't have accused me of spying?" He shot the question back effortlessly, one of his eyebrows lifting with a smirk.

She shut her mouth and fumed for a second, glaring. Of course they would have accused him of it. "It's not like they wouldn't have a reason. It's not above you."

"Touché, pet," he conceded sardonically. He held out the envelope further. "Now will you take it since you've vetted me?"

She huffed and pushed her misbehaving hair out of her face, not wanting to give in on principle. Instead she reached forward to snatch it from him because she had no other immediate ideas on how to argue further. "Fine," she said grudgingly.

"Thank you." There was no surprise that his tone said 'finally' more than it conveyed even a smidgeon of gratefulness. He bowed his head marginally at her and turned without pause to head back to the castle. The departure was so abrupt it startled her, her fingers curling tight around the message as she blinked owlishly at his retreating back.

"Malfoy!" she yelled, his name bursting from her lips. She had to grace to blush at the impulsiveness of the action, and flush even harder when he stopped and half-turned towards her, looking at her with slight bemusement and curiosity.

"Yes?" he drawled back.

She pulled her shoulders back and stomped over to him, determined to get some answers - about something. About whatever it was she thought of next when she opened her mouth. Because the truth was she wasn't quite sure why she had called his name.

He was somehow paler in the twilight, ethereal and angelic. She nearly scoffed at the thought as she stopped beside him, glaring up at his amused, searching gaze. He was expectant now, waiting for her to speak. She wasn't sure if she preferred this calmness to the rashness of his attitude all the other times they interacted. He seemed in control now. Utterly and completely. She faltered in her thoughts and then tipped her chin up resolutely.

"I want to talk to you," she announced. "You said you fancied me. Twice now," she blurted out incredulously.

"And?" he prompted.

"Well, why haven't you done anything about it, you stupid prat?" The words tumbled from her lips, unbidden and irritated. There it was, her curiosity. But it came out all wrong or perhaps too right. She wasn't sure how she meant it, but it couldn't have been like that. She just wanted to understand, not ask in such a way...

She trembled looking up at him, watching the mirth he took from her current antics fade away from his stare. He was looking at her strangely now, too intensely and guarded for her liking. He took a step forward, his silvery eyes narrowing down at her. "Do you want me to?" he murmured, searching her expression for something. She felt like he was reading her as easily as he could a book. The heat left her cheeks, the color seeping from her skin as her eyes widened. What did he see? She realized with burgeoning panic that she didn't want him to see anything - what if he saw something encouraging?

"I just want to understand, Malfoy," she answered quickly, trying to deflect his attention. "I want to know why you'd - why you'd fancy me. You hate me."

His aristocratic features went slack then; his eyes narrowed their focus on her wide eyes. There it was, she saw it now - that dangerous flint in his gaze. The tense set of his broad shoulders. He was angry. "If you think fancying you is something enjoyable for me to endure, Weasley, then you're sadly mistaken," he bit out. He all but glided closer, his steps graceful and menacing. His pale lips were in a sneer and his fingers were in white-knuckled fists. He radiated condescension and she felt that imposing force in his tall presence. All of it bore down on her now and her breath went shallow at the sight of it; it riled her up and gave her cause to flush indignantly again.

He endured her? As if his feelings were some awful problem?

She wasn't surprised. Or at least she shouldn't be. Of course Malfoy would take this as the bane of his current existence. Of course he was angry about it. Still it toyed with her temper.

"Oh so I'm your dirty little secret," she spat out, resisted the urge to reach out and give him a good shove back. He was just too close now, too virile and arresting. Errant locks of his blond hair dislodged by the breeze swept across his forehead; she could nearly make out each individual strand. She had to tilt her head back to meet his eyes now; her body hummed at the lingering presence of his heat.

"Yes," he confirmed evenly. "So don't look at me like that and tempt me, witch."

"Oh, please." Her voice was full of vitriol, even as her insides twisted at his words. How was she looking at him? "I'm not some succubus, Malfoy. I'm not tempting you, I'm asking you a question."

"And I answered it," he said, cutting her off, voice raised slightly to over power her own. "So are we done?"

She sucked in a breath at that, looked unflinchingly up into his waiting gaze for a suspended moment. There was something there, on his face, some ghostly emotion she couldn't place but still held her captive. He wanted to be done, that much she could tell. "But you didn't," she replied softly, remembering Blaise, remembering his advice. Don't let Slytherins give you half-answers. "You didn't answer me."

He let out a shaking breath and it nearly startled her, that small break in his strong control. "What do you want me to say, Weasley?" he asked just as softly. "That you're too gorgeous for your own good and so entirely Gryffindor it kills me? That you've managed to possess my every thought this year just by existing? I bet you would; I bet you'd just love to hear about some bloke mooning over you. Well, I'm not. You're a filthy blood traitor. You're poor and beneath me and you don't deserve a minute of my time."

His words didn't hurt. That was the first thing she realized. They were insults, yes, slights meant for her and her family. They were words embalmed by his cruelty, by his everlasting hatred. But his eyes were flat as he said them, his lips slightly twisted into a grimace. She stared at him now and wasn't even angry, because she knew what that unnamed emotion was now.

Pain. He was hurting.

"I don't," she whispered, her lashes fluttering, her head shaking slightly. "I don't love to hear it." The fingers of her free hand twitched; she pressed her lips together. His expression morphed quickly, evolved into disgust and concern, but it didn't anger her. Those emotions were for him, not her. "Malfoy..."

He recoiled, before she could even think to raise her hand, to offer him comfort she was helplessly confused over wanting to extend. "Just stay away from me, Weasley," he ordered, stepping back and turning without giving her a chance.

She watched him go, even more confused than before.