Unofficial Portkey Archive

Highrollers by InTheStars



A/N: Sorry this chapter took so much longer than usual! I suppose I needed a break since the last was so lengthy/challenging. So was this one honestly! But I'm happy with it. :) I hope you guys enjoy it.

PLEASE READ: Also, I'm going to be changing my pen name at Those of you who know me from PK: I won't be changing it. But from now on, my pen name is petitebelette. So don't be surprised when next chapter is miraculously not by InTheStars. Thank you!

Ginny wasn't quick sure what to make of the next few days. She finally fell into a deep sleep Sunday afternoon after a visit from Luna, Hermione, Ron, and Harry, and a spot of breakfast and some tea. Madame Pomphrey had given her the go ahead to catch some actual rest only after she drank some horrid potion. By the time she woke up it was well past midnight Monday morning. Bored, impatient, and aggravated at being so cooped up, Ginny had left her bed to take a shower in the Hospital Wing's communal restrooms. She stood under the hot spray much longer than necessary, eventually pulled on a new nightgown, and retired back to bed for several more hours of sleep.

She was excused from classes that day, although somehow managed to be excused from the infirmary as well. Only the latter mattered truly. On the contrary Ginny welcomed the thought of classes and deigned to go, if only because it was more entertaining than sitting around and sleeping more. She hadn't seen Draco since Sunday morning and was beginning to feel agitated over it - agitated and a bit nervous. It wouldn't be a surprise to her if their encounter had been some strange, sleep-deprived hallucination she dreamed up due to her head injury. Yet for all her paranoid suspicions that it could be, she of course knew it wasn't.

If it wasn't, how could she remember so clearly what his mouth felt like on hers, what his drawling, melodic tones sounded like while gently teasing her?

Despite her eagerness to catch a glimpse of the Slytherin, at the very least just to remind herself it happened, she missed breakfast while rushing up to the tower to pull on her uniform and retrieve her books. All during Herbology and History of Magic her friends and Housemates inquired with concern and interest about her health and commented scathingly over the Slytherin team for attacking her like they had. Ginny listened with as much attention she could muster and bristled a bit at all the hostility.

Not that she didn't feel it herself - not that she wouldn't like to hex Vincent Crabbe into a dark and painful oblivion - but their rancor reminded her of the one Slytherin she didn't think was wholly vile. Maybe just marginally vile. Or rather vile about ninety percent of the time but really lovely the other zero-point-five percent. That extra four-point-five was set aside for those moments he seemed infuriatingly both cruel and lovely.

Oh, Merlin. She was thinking him lovely now; had she gone utterly mad for him? Draco Malfoy wasn't lovely, or even cruel and lovely, he was just cruel. Or not. Lately her hateful thoughts of him had been results of a knee-jerk reaction and not very genuine.

By the time lunch rolled around she was both inattentive to most of her surroundings and conversations and completely focused on proving - well proving something or other to herself about this whole situation. That either it happened or it didn't. He would acknowledge her existence or he wouldn't. Either option seemed completely viable. He really was such an infuriating prat; she could see him avoiding her gaze and her entire existence when she walked in. Oh, she realized, he better not ignore her completely or she'd curse him into a million little pieces.

Oh dear Merlin, now she was paranoid. She wasn't naive and she certainly wasn't stupid. Was just a look - a smile - even a nod - was that too much to ask for? Just something to tide her over into the next day so she knew she wasn't insane and this unfinished, turbulent thing between them could see some more resolution (whatever that might be) would be more than enough for her. But would he chance it? Despite all their interaction this year, she knew they had both gone to lengths to mask the nature of it.

Luna was rambling about troll legend on the way to lunch that day, talking about how her father had interviewed one of the beasts for an article years ago. Ginny merely inquired how in the world Mr. Lovegood managed to make sense of anything the creature said; Luna went off into a diatribe about troll language that only a fellow Ravenclaw or Hermione could follow with ease. It was during this diatribe that they entered the Hall for lunch. As always during this time of day it was noisy and full, brimming with food and students. Ginny's arm was linked with Luna's as they headed for their tables; they sat at either or without much discretion of choice. Wherever had room was where they settled.

Of course, the moment she entered the room she blushed like a besotted first year, not even knowing if Draco was even there, to her left, in his usual perch and surrounded by his usual companions. She didn't mean to be so eager about it, not at all. Ginny couldn't help her penchant towards impatience. Despite promising herself she would be casual about it, her eyes immediately slid to the Slytherin table.

Draco's shocking white-blond hair was what she saw of him first: silky and shining, casually combed back over his downturned head. He was smirking, a bit of flashing teeth showing as he talked to Blaise over their lunch. Pansy seemed to be sulking beside him and stabbing her food; to her right Crabbe and Goyle sat stuffing their faces. Her eyes stopped only on Crabbe, her lips pulling down into an angry frown, but soon her gaze flickered back to Draco. Draco, who looked as smug and self-satisfied as ever, his grey eyes gleaming with a frightening kind of happiness.

Her chest ached suddenly, nearly caved in on itself as her breath caught. How could someone so terrible look so beautiful, she wondered? Months ago she might have found that smile curious and awful all at once. And she did find it that now, but she also found it inexplicably handsome.

"You have a curious look in your eye, Gin," Luna said conversationally. It was only then she realized she had been staring, openly so. Ginny flushed a deeper red and tore her eyes away from the Slytherin table, meeting Luna's penetrating blue gaze.

"Oh, I- you know, that ugly troll who hit me," she explained. "Just looking for him."

Luna smiled airily and let it go as they sat; Ginny mentally hit herself. Hard. Why in the world would she be looking for Crabbe? She was much more clever than that excuse! And Luna was more observant than most gave her credit for. Grimacing slightly, she started hungrily loading her plate, instinctually looking up after a few moments had passed. She wouldn't say she had sat down facing Draco on accident, but she hadn't been expectant of catching him looking her way.

She had simply hoped for it, and not in vain, because he was looking her way now, in between heads of other students. That strange, scary smirk was on his pale lips, those lips that had kissed her. And his guarded, half-hooded eyes were brimming with an indescribable ardor that seemed to possess her entire being. He lifted his brows at her once, almost playfully.

The look only lasted a second - not even two - before he turned his attention back on Blaise.

He could get used to this. Not that he wasn't used to getting whatever his icy Slytherin heart desired regardless, but this was different. Winning Ginny over felt a little bit different than any other worthwhile prize he could get his own hands on. For one, she was a woman, and a rather special one at that. (Special in the best sense of the word - and a Weasley - who knew? Like a diamond in the ruff.) No one else had inspired this rush of power and contentment in him before. Nor had they kindled such soft feelings to contrast against the violent protectiveness he felt over her. He wanted to take care of her after this entire mess; wasn't that strange?

He supposed it wasn't, considering. Didn't his father dote on his mother? Bring her gifts and make sure she was comfortable and satisfied? Ginny had been through the wringer, no thanks to him. No thanks to Crabbe, the doomed Neanderthal. So that's what he would do, as any Malfoy would. Get her a gift and lay on some charm.

For another, he could get used to having such a beautiful witch soft on him. Pansy was suitable; she always had been. At one point he had even considered her oddly shaped nose somewhat endearing. But she was no Ginny Weasley. None of the girls (all in Slytherin, mind you) who he had taken interest in these past six years were Ginny Weasleys. They certainly didn't have flaming red hair, so unacceptably untamed and gorgeous it hurt to look at it. It really was something, how she let it loose like that, sleep-tousled and quickly combed. Nor did any other girls have a splattering of sun-kissed freckles reaching everywhere over their creamy skin. Or those curves, or those dainty pink lips and cinnamon eyes.

Yes, he could get used to this. Even the terrifying ache he felt thinking about her. Even the warning bells sounding in his mind that this opportunity, however wonderful, was one he should let pass him by. But Draco, if he was anything, was selfish. What his parents didn't know would not hurt them. Or him. Or Ginny.

So he set about acquiring his first gift to her that Sunday afternoon with renewed resolution: no one would know anymore about his feelings for Ginny Weasley than they already did. Blaise, Theodore, and Pansy already knew more than they should - and while he cautiously trusted Zabini, he knew better than to expect too much. Theodore and Pansy, however, could be problems for their own separate reasons. He wouldn't make the mistake of underestimating either of them. Theodore was an opportunist if Draco had ever met one, and Pansy could be even crueler (although not craftier) than Draco given the right motivation.

And of course, there was Crabbe. He would have to bide his time plotting that revenge lest he wanted to give himself away entirely. For now, sneaking around and convincingly letting his attentions for the Weasley wane would do. He was just appalled sneaking around meant visiting the smelly owlery during his Monday rounds. He could think of no other way to send the present to Ginny tomorrow morning with the post. He would have much rather just sent his owl, Persephone, but for obvious reasons he couldn't. The regal animal glared at him from her high perch after he shooed her away; all he could offer her was an apologetic eyebrow raise in return. "Don't look at your beak down at me, old bird," he told her. She ruffled her feathers as if offended. "You know I'd rather use you."

Increasingly paranoid of owl droppings, he quickly found a suitable school owl and attached the parcel to its leg, giving it a treat and instructions. Afterwards he returned to his private room and fell into an easy sleep. The morning came and he readied for the day without any happenings of interest. He sat in his usual spot in the Great Hall and dug into his breakfast, which was interrupted shortly by Blaise taking a seat next to him.

"G'morning, mate," Blaise greeted in a cheerful voice, despite the yawn that followed it. The fellow Slytherin had taken to studying well into the night for his NEWTs in the common room lately, Tracey curled up at his side. The small, quiet girl wasn't with him this morning, which was surprising but not odd - it was still quite early for most students to be awake. Draco resisted the urge to look over to the door, as if gazing at it might mean Ginny would walk through it faster.

"Zabini," he replied briskly, turning back to his eggs.

"Your welcomes are always so warm and inviting," Blaise commented, reaching to fill his plate with ham and toast. "A real pleasure."

"You know my motto, Blaise," Draco retorted dryly. "One catches more flies with honey."

"Yes, than with vinegar. Speaking of, I took immense curiosity in the honeyed looks you were sending to the Gryffindor table all yesterday. Might I inquire after Miss Ginny's health?" He said this all casually, not even glancing at Draco. His fingers were reaching to get his meal together: he grabbed a muffin, poured himself juice, and began to butter his toast.

Draco's grip on his silverware tightened, but he kept eating. He was well aware Blaise was studying him just as thoroughly. Had he been transparent yet again? No, he hadn't. He knew he hadn't. He had taken great pains all day yesterday. Yet Blaise was easily the sharpest person in the House, not to mention the bloke sat next to him during many meals. Furthermore, Zabini made it an infuriating point to notice and catalog everything, much like Draco did.

That's why it didn't escape his notice Blaise decided to bring this up now, with no one in reasonable distance to eavesdrop. Was his so-called friend simply letting him know he knew something was going on? Perhaps. To deny it would be almost as damning as admitting it outright. Blaise was too smart for that: Draco would have to be vague and open to interpretation. Blaise could then chase whatever notion he felt like. "As far as I know, she's fine," he answered evenly.

"That's good to hear," Blaise replied sincerely, and then abruptly rose halfway out of his seat. "Sweetheart," he murmured, his lips in a small, genuine smile. Draco peered up to catch sight of Tracey Davis walking their way, her strawberry blond hair loose around her shoulders, her wide green eyes stuck on her standing boyfriend. A soft infusion of pink touched her cheeks at Blaise's attention; her head bowed and she gazed at the ground as she made her way around the table to perch next to him. It was characteristic of her: always so shy and quiet. Draco barely remembered the last time she had spoken more than a few sentences to anyone but Zabini.

"Hello," she said gently to both of them. "May I have the orange juice?" Blaise reached for it, even going as far as to pour it for the girl. As always when Tracey was around, that keen look in his eyes was mixed with a distracted sort of softness. At the moment, Draco was grateful for it. Now Blaise would hopefully pay his actions marginally less attention because he was so sickeningly in love.

It was all perfect timing, he thought wryly, as Ginny and her band of idiot friends took that moment to come strolling in. Potter and the Weasel were at the group's head. Granger followed after them, her nose in a book. Yet the mudblood was still rolling her eyes at the two morons ahead of her - she turned to give Ginny a commiserating look.

Ginny. He mouth felt suddenly and inexplicably dry as he watched her discreetly from his lowered gaze. He thought maybe she glanced his way, but he couldn't be sure. He ate another bite of his breakfast, one of his hands clenching in and out of a fist on the tabletop. It was a nervous habit - a tick - and therefore a tell. He stopped the reaction immediately, somewhat appalled at himself for it. And not only because it was noteworthy to anyone paying attention. He was sure he wasn't nervous despite all these bloody feelings churning inside of him, feelings that made him everything he certainly did not want to be: vulnerable, malleable, and painfully starved for her.

That was the master he was serving now, wasn't it? Some hidden, primal center that yearned for something sweet and beautiful and something he didn't deserve. If there were anything Draco knew he didn't deserve, it was this.

But she's mine anyway, he reminded himself fiercely. She wants me. She feels for me. That's all mine. The thoughts were a dark comfort and enough to soothe him.

Ginny and the golden trio were settling into their seats; Draco attentively watched as Colin Creevey came in and bounded off next to Ginny. A hot streak of annoyance burned through him and he stabbed the last of his eggs onto his fork. If he hadn't like Creevey before, he certainly couldn't stand the incessant sight of that pounce now. Hadn't Ginny turned him down? He realized with a cold, jarring rush down his spine that he didn't actually know. He hadn't asked obviously, though she had been at The Three Broomsticks with him.

She wasn't interested in the dirty Muggleborn, though - she couldn't be. He knew that; she seemed much too impatient in his presence. Draco looked down the slowly filling Slytherin table casually, checking for any eyes. Then he cautiously stole a glance at Ginny. Despite what he knew about the situation, Draco still found it rewarding that she was facing away from Creevey even though he rambled away next to her.

A ghost of a smirk tugged at his lips. That was when the post arrived.

"Anyway, Romilda backed out. I never should have asked her in the first place. She's not very reliable. So what do you say, Gin? Want to be my next project?" Colin shot her a wide, dazzling grin, leaning over his plate to catch her gaze. She realized facing away from him like she was might be a bit rude, but she couldn't help it. She had been shamefully glad he hadn't visited her in the hospital over the weekend, but all last night in the common room he seemed determined to make that lost time up to her.

As she did her homework, her head still pounding from her injury, he had sat next to her and talked until she snapped and told him she had a headache. Then he sketched, his presence awkward and large in her mind. He sat too close for her comfort despite how she scooted away from him, and she bristled when he peered over her shoulder. Merlin, she hated when people did that. It all came to a head when she leaned back and her shoulders brushed the arm he had slung over the couch when she wasn't looking.

Furious, she had gathered up her things and stomped up to her dormitory, informing him coldly that she was tired.

And now he was back again, despite her irritation. It had to be transparent by now. It certainly didn't help that she knew Draco was across the room and could be witnessing this entire annoyance. It made her flush harder, remembering the promising, playful look he had given her the afternoon before. She didn't want him to get some stupid idea she was okay with Colin pursuing her. Things were strange and fragile and despite herself, she didn't want to endanger them now. Now, when they seemed to be heading towards something worthwhile. Something she probably wouldn't fight tooth and nail like she had before.

She was spared answering Colin by the post, thank the gods. She let out a relieved sigh when he was distracted by letter from his parents, and took the opportunity to reach for a muffin situated a few seats over. She used it as an excuse to plop down in that seat, closer to Hermione.

She gave the girl a smile, although Hermione didn't even look up from her book. Ron, who was across from her and stuffing his gullet, rolled his eyes. "Don't even bother," he told her. "We've tried loads of times already." Ginny gave him a smirk that mirrored Harry's; Hermione continued reading without a reaction.

That was when some nondescript owl swooped down and dropped a package unceremoniously on her plate. It landed with a surprising but not particularly loud clatter. However, it was loud enough that Hermione flinched and looked up.

"Oh," the bookworn realized.

"What's that?" Ron piped up suspiciously.

"Looks like a package, Ron," Harry answered dryly, peering over.

"I know that," he retorted impatiently, giving Harry's look of wry amusement a pointed, worried frown. Ginny reached over and hit his arm hard for it; she knew that look. It was her brother's ridiculous look of entitlement to all things Ginny-related. "Ow! Gin!" Ron exclaimed, scandalized. "What the bloody hell was that for?"

"You know what, you big oaf," she replied hotly. "And it's none of your business if I get packages. Get back to stuffing your face. Go on!" she ordered him. Ron huffed and sent her a glare before grudgingly returning to his meal, although Ginny wasn't dim enough not to notice him peeking anyway. Nor was Ron sneaky enough to hide his surly, curious glances.

Shooting him one last scathing look, Ginny turned her attention to the parcel in front of her. It was a medium-sized box, neatly wrapped with grey, unassuming paper. There was a note attached to it bearing her full name, the lettering in black, careful cursive. Ginevra.

She blinked and picked it up, wondering who in the world - she froze then, blushing as her insides twisted and curled up with anticipation and excitement. Would he - what could he even be sending her? Her head snapped up instinctively to the Slytherin table, but Draco was not looking her way at all. Instead he was staring at the table, seemingly lost in thought as he picked at a pastry. Yet she couldn't help but feel like he was watching her intently. She blushed harder and set about tearing the envelope open, giving Ron another cautious glower. He was doing as he was told, but clearly still eying the box.

She pulled the folded parchment out and greedily took in the note.

Consider this my atonement.

Meet me in fifteen minutes. Fourth floor, behind the goblin tapestry.

Her heart raced in her chest, thudded against her ribs. Draco, she realized with surety. It was from Draco. He wanted to meet. He had gotten her something - what? She licked her lips and quickly stuffed the note in her robes, reaching to open the package with eager curiosity. She did so carefully, unfolding the paper and lifting the box's top. She only peeked into the shadowy depths, conscious of her brother's attention.

Folded and seated amongst green tissue paper sat a finely tailored and pleated black skirt.

Slowly, she smiled.

Of course. His atonement. He was giving back what he stole, even if it wasn't the original. Her skirt. A nearly hysterical laugh bubbled in her throat at the fitting gesture.

Instead she pushed the lid back on abruptly, feeling exhilarated as she quickly stood, her eyes skimming over the other side of the room. Draco was gone - he wasn't there. If her heart rate had picked up before, now she thought the organ might erupt. She grabbed her things quickly, not even bothering to care about the trio's alarmed looks and Ron's, "Oi! Where are you off to?" although maybe she should have.

"Class! Appointment with Flitwick!" she called over her shoulder, thinking fast. She practically ran the distance to their meeting space, her loose braid flying and cheeks flushing. There was no one on the fourth floor yet, she realized, and that was fortunate; he had obviously thought this through. With a startling burst, she felt grateful and impressed at the lengths he had taken this weekend. He cared. He cared, and this time the realization was frighteningly lovely.

She couldn't worry herself over how much she cared. Not today. Not now.

Breathless, she arrived at the tapestry, pausing for a moment to gulp in air and smooth her hair back. She had never been behind this tapestry; she had always assumed there was nothing there. There was, though. Just beyond it. A coil of something nerve-wrecking and pleased curled up in her gut. She ducked under the hanging wall before she lost any of her nerve.

It was dark, and it took her eyes a moment to adjust to the scant light seeping from the hallway and from the door, just a few paces away. Ginny walked towards it resolutely, turned the knob, and slipped in.

It was bright. Much brighter than even inside the castle; that was the first thing she noticed. Tall windows with heavy curtains lined the eastern wall. Old couches and tables were scattered about the room. Ginny wasn't sure if the room had been some common place to congregate once upon a time or simply a place to store old furniture.

Draco was leaning against a windowsill, calmly gazing out on the lake and surrounding scenery, his hands in his slacks. He looked almost princely - his posture casual and yet still tall. Not one bit of him was wrinkled or out of place. His trousers were creased with crisp lines, his tie straight. Even his sleeves rolled over his forearms were perfectly folded. But Ginny wasn't looking at his clothes, not really. There was a lot more to be appreciated in the lines of his lithe body, his combed-back hair, and the serene, guarded expression clinging to his handsome features.

With a readying breath, she shut the door and walked further inside, pausing only momentarily when he snapped his head up and caught sight of her. A rush of something left her paralyzed for a moment. Then she flushed and continued on to drop her things on a nearby chair, trying to figure out the strange emotion that had coursed into his eyes and then disappeared. Surprise?


It was stuffy, so she unhooked her robe and laid it over the couch's back, nibbling at her bottom lip. "Thank you," she said, wanting to break the thick silence, "for the skirt."

"Do you like it?" He had shifted to face her; she saw when she looked up. His voice had been soft and haughtily curious - somehow, some way. Ginny imagined only he could pull that tone off. And for some reason she was finding breathing difficult, as if the room were too small or hot looking at him now. It was because his unreadable grey eyes were steady and penetrating, strangely devoid of malice or disgust.

There was only that arresting wall there, the one that kept his emotions at bay. Yet his expression was soft, the line of his pale lips untroubled by the hint of a scowl, a sneer, or even a smug smirk.

He looked beautiful. Angelic even, with all that sunlight streaming in. She could pinch herself for being so typical.

"Yes. It was - thoughtful of you," she replied, feeling heat in her cheeks. She was staring at him now, she knew that. Her arms felt strange at her sides, all the way down to her hands and fingers. They seemed in some sort of limbo as her brain decided what to do with them.

She wanted to touch him, and the impulse jarred and tempted her. It felt as if there was some spell between them, some enchanted string that tugged and beckoned her closer.

"How?" she wondered aloud.

One of his brows raised, as if he found the query an amusing one. "It wasn't hard," he answered, his words laced with condescending overtones. "I just had to send that old, disgusting thing of yours to the shop for the right measurements. I also asked them to extend the hem. I noticed it was a bit too short."

Of course he did, she thought wryly, a smirk pulling at her lips."I wouldn't think you'd mind that." Although that skirt had been very short. She'd had it since third year and didn't have the money to part with it just yet.

He mirrored her lips, his small smile bringing more life into his grey eyes. "I think I'd mind perverts ogling your legs very much, Ginny."

"If you're going to be as protective as my brothers, I think I should leave now and spare you a few nasty hexes," she replied, raising a challenging brow.

He straightened gamely at it and took a step forward, holding her dancing, mischievous gaze with a sly one of his own. The anxiousness she felt in her tummy started to morph into something much more consuming - excitement. It entered her blood and sang in her veins; she flushed hard and not from self-consciousness or anger when his eyes slid from her face and down her form.

"I think you should stay," he argued, slowing making his way over.

"So you're not going to be like my brothers?"

"There is literally no one else in this world I would hate to be more," he declared, and Ginny felt inclined to agree whole-heartedly, although she was sure Draco probably had a few more reasons as to why not.

"I doubt that," she ventured dryly, entirely fixated on the promising, predatory gleam in his silver eyes. "A Muggle? A house-elf? The giant squid?"

But by then he was in front of her, his hands slipping from his pockets to reach for her waist. She let him take hold of her, amazingly enough, her breath shaking from her lips at his warm arms and then the cushion of his solid body. She forgot about her aimless questioning as her hands fluttered over his shoulders and reached for his hair; he craned his neck down to silence her voice, his mouth pressing against hers.

It wasn't right and she didn't care. The rush of dark pleasure and desire that filled her body to the brim at the warmth of his lips and the firm, soft, and demanding way they moved against hers eradicated any caution she might have entertained. She barely knew how to handle the way her body responded, how it leaned into him and warmed with a building flame that spread through her frame and over her skin.

Ginny gasped in a shallow breath when he pulled away, his hands lifting to tenderly cradle her face. "You need to be more careful in the Great Hall, pet," he murmured. "You stare. It's pathetically obvious."

That pulled her from the haze of his kiss enough. "I am not pathetically obvious," she protested defensively, jerking a few inches away.

Draco chuckled; he was so close she could make out the wrinkles on his smiling lips. In fact, she could barely see much else besides the slope of his cheeks, the light web of his eyelashes. His eyes were dark, rimmed with icy silver, and his breath rushed softly over her mouth. She felt the vibrations of his laughter against her chest; she fought to keep her eyes open when he kissed her again. But it was no use; he robbed her of any further argument.

His fingers pushed into the mass of her red hair, buried deep and probably ruined her already messy braid. She flicked her tongue playfully against his lips and was rewarded with a soft groan. "Gods," he whispered in a strained voice, clutching at the plait, "your hair like this."

"You like it?" she murmured back, trying not to smile against his hovering lips.

"Yes. It's disgustingly adorable," he confessed, the words slightly hoarse and desperate. She imagined it was something he had been thinking about awhile.

"You know what I hate about you?" She practically breathed the words, suddenly seized with the desire to profess something too. Something just as silly and ridiculous as loving and hating her mane of Weasley red hair.

His answer was tugging at her plait none-too-gently, pulling her head back further to better look in her eyes. A surprised, soft mewl escaped her throat, her lips parted and her eyes wide as she stared up into the depths of his gaze. "What's that?" he prompted.

"Your stupid tie," she blurted out, her fingers skimming down his neck to rest over its knot. There it was, all green and grey and everything she should despise. "Your expensive clothes. Your hair. It's always perfect. You're always so perfect and rich and condescending and I hate it." The words tumbled from her lips, both tumultuous and freeing.

Draco stared at her, licked his lips, and squeezed her closer, so tight it nearly hurt. "What're you going to do about it, Weasley?" he asked in a low, baiting sort of tone.

The use of her last name was deliberate and it roused her temper; he meant to do that. Meant to remind her who they both were and what they were doing. He meant to challenge her. She could see in his unwavering eyes he wanted her to meet the provocation. And for once, she didn't want to disappoint him.

A calm wave of resolution came over her; Ginny labored for breath as she stared up at him. She took a step forward, forced him back until he fell into the nearest plush armchair. She followed his sprawled form, slid her knees around his thighs as he watched with hooded eyes, entirely complacent as she took his face in her hands and leaned down to kiss him, and kiss him, and kiss him. Until there was nothing but grasping hands and needy gasps for air, breathless moans and friction.

Even later, when Ginny laid down in her four-poster bed, surrounded by her House colors and friends and family, she didn't feel guilty for anything that happened that day.

She wasn't sure if that said more about the person she was, or more about her feelings for Draco Malfoy.