Unofficial Portkey Archive

Highrollers by InTheStars



Note: As always, thank you for the reviews and the favoriting and the story alerts. :3

Secondly, this chapter tortured me for days on end. I don't know why it was so difficult, but it was. So I just want to get rid of it now. By posting it. IT'S DONE. FINALLY. YES. I CAN BREATHE.

Thirdly, this chapter is very Draco & Ginny-centric. (Although I suppose that's not necessarily means for complaint.) Next chapter however, there will be a cast of characters. Ron, Harry, probably Hermione, and also probably the lovely Blaise Zabini.

"Are you having fun?" There was an indignant slap as Ginny's dirty rag hit the floor.

"Loads, Weasley. How kind of you to ask," Draco drawled in response, looking up from his Transfiguration homework. She glared at him, which was her go-to expression so far during detention: eyes brimming with unchecked anger, her full lips in a quivering pout. If Draco were a lesser being, he might call the sight adorable. He supposed it was, if his type was some dirty pauper scrubbing the dungeon room's floor.

Then again, he thought, smirking as she went back to cleaning up Longbottom's last disastrous attempt at Potions, the view wasn't so bad. She was in another one of her uniform skirts--an awfully tattered thing--and he had a gracious view of her shapely thighs from where he sat. Even they were freckled, he noted, and he lingered on that discovery a moment. She was wearing red and gold knee-highs over her calves, along with a beaten-up pair of Mary Janes on her feet. The former clashed terribly with her mass of crimson hair, which was untidy in some intricate plait. He decided it wouldn't look too bad; if only it wasn't so poorly done, errant tendrils frizzing out on all sides.

Draco leaned back in his chair, absentmindedly playing with the quill in his fingers as he perused her appearance at his leisure. He was just admiring the cheap fabric of her button-down, or rather he was admiring how grossly thin it was and how he could make out the outline of her bra, when she stopped cleaning and fixed him with an uncomfortable look.

"Stop that," she ordered of him, and turned her warm brown eyes back to her task. Her cheeks were filling with color, pink splotches assaulting her cheeks. It was messy, the way she blushed. The way it deepened to a bright red and spread unevenly over her pale skin, camouflaging splatters of dark freckles. It was fitting, for a Weasley. Becomingly typical. He smiled.

"Stop what?" he inquired, although he knew what, of course.

"You know what, Malfoy," she answered impatiently. "You're staring at me like I'm a piece of meat. Stop it."

"Don't be crude," he admonished her with a sly smirk, although for all intents and purposes he certainly was doing so. "I'm simply appreciating you. It would be a lie to act like it's not exciting you. And you're a good girl, aren't you? You don't lie."

Ginny's only answer was scrubbing harder, although it was an effort in futility. He witnessed the clenching of her jaw, the pursing of her lips as she took out her frustration on the floor. He had been horrible giving her this task, hadn't he? Longbottom's spilled potion had hardened and clung to the stone like a strong sticking charm. He doubted any amount of scrubbing could get it clean; eventually he'd have to use magic to get rid of it.

"Says the person who called me a filthy whore," she finally spoke up, her voice filled with venom and uncharacteristic calculation. He cocked an eyebrow down at her, but she refused to look up. "You're the crude one. And I thought Malfoys were supposed to have class."

His lips were curling back into a sneer as she stopped to look up and admire her handiwork. She was all too pleased at his annoyance, he noticed with disdain. "Much more than you, pet," he retorted condescendingly.

"Struck a nerve, Malfoy?" She was nearly beaming, as if opening her inferior mouth about his family was some sort of high accomplishment, when in all actuality it was embarrassing. A Weasley insulting a Malfoy? Please, he could laugh. "And I'm not your pet," she added cheekily, with a matching smile to boot. There was something about it that filled him with pent-up, all-consuming frustration; he wanted to wipe the look off her face more than anything.

"I'll call you whatever I please," he said haughtily. He was glad there was only the barest hint of irritation in his tone. It would do no good to reward her for her little comment.

Yet a sweet, amused laugh poured past her lips anyway, filling the space between them. It was a dramatic change from her distracting pouts and simmering anger; his nostrils flared with indignation at it. Was she laughing at him? Because he didn't like it. The sound grated on him, itched at his nerves. She grated on him, how she so carelessly lifted the back of her small, dirty hand to cover her giggles, how she peered at him through her long, brown lashes with a dancing look.

It took more will power than he would care to admit not grabbing for her, pulling her to him in order to shut her up. He wasn't quite sure what he'd do once he had his hands on her, but strangling and snogging were both appealing options. Instead he set his jaw and tossed his quill onto his books, patiently waiting for her childish amusement to cease.

It did finally, slowing to a blessed stop. "You haven't been pleasant a day in your life, have you?" she teased him. He didn't particularly like the way she was looking at him, happy like that. As if she were having fun, poking at him. For all she knew he was entirely pleasant to those worthy of it. Not that he was, ever. Not even he could lie to himself about that. People were too irritating and that was hardly his fault.

"I have no reason to be pleasant to you," he spat evasively. And he didn't. She was a Weasley, and she was poor and dirty. She defended muggles and mudbloods; she was a cancerous wart on the proud name of wizard.

"None?" she piped up with a wry smile, tipping her chin up proudly. One of her eyebrows arched up and completed her challenging stare. "You want me to kiss you, don't you? Being pleasant wouldn't hurt your chances."

Ginny Weasley knew she was probably digging her own grave by taunting Draco Malfoy, but she figured he deserved it after tormenting her these past few weeks. (Not to mention tormenting everybody else his whole life.) And perhaps she was enjoying getting under his skin a bit, and a bit too much. There was something satisfying about how his mouth twisted when he was irritated, the way his aristocratic posture stiffened. He really was quite the specimen, draped over that chair and looking down on her, literally and figuratively.

She was allowed a little fun, wasn't she? Really, the tension she'd been feeling over this entire situation was stifling. The shame over being attracted to the great pounce was suffocating. Even now, looking at the perfect creases in his pants and the rakish muss of his combed back hair bathed her insides in warmth. Perhaps she had been excited by his eyes drinking her in. She had seen the hungry look on his face; the casual, entitled way he let his gaze roam over her body. Perhaps she had liked that, a little. Gods, what was wrong with her?

She felt like she hadn't breathed freely in a month. And now she was dodging questions from Ron and that gossiping bint Lavender about missing points and why she had detention today. Here she was, her knees wet with soap and water as she scrubbed the floor at Draco Malfoy's feet. If her anger and embarrassment amused him, why couldn't she laugh at his ridiculousness, at his high hopes of making her life hell? He was succeeding, wasn't he? Turning everything hopelessly upside down.

She thought perhaps she really had gone mad, bursting with giggles. He was just so insufferable, all the time! Now she sounded like Hermione chastising Ron. Merlin help her.

As if that wasn't enough, she had to make it worse by being cheeky and mentioning kisses and being pleasant. The moment the words passed her lips she wished she could take them back. Her life would be easier if he were pleasant, wouldn't it? For merely visceral reasons, at least.

"Are you flirting with me, Weasley?" He asked this with a drawling note of surprise, and she flushed at the smirk teasing the corner of his sneer.

"No," she denied immediately, and then blushed harder at the too quick and too vehement response. If she wasn't mistaken that sudden glint in his eyes meant something that would undoubtedly make her sorry. She hefted a great breath and pulled back her shoulders. "I'm just pointing out the obvious," she replied innocently, composed this time, and leaned over to continue with Neville's mess. "If you want to snog a girl, you're supposed to be nice to her, Malfoy."

"Indeed," he muttered, so low Ginny suspected it might have been to himself. She ignored it; it really might as well have been to himself, because she took his non-response as an opportunity to cease any other communication. Her teeth sunk into her lower lip, her arms weak and tired as she went over the blasted spot over and over. Really, she should just embrace this magnetic, sensual attraction to Draco Malfoy because then moving on from it might be easier. It was horrid, and disgusting, and she didn't like it, but what could she do besides school herself not to give him a centimeter so he could drag it into painfully long kilometers? Nothing. Nothing at all besides give in, and that thought was too terrifying to contemplate for long. There were lines, and that was one of them. She would not be snogging Malfoy any time soon. Eventually he'd grow bored of torturing her, wouldn't he?

She chanced a glance at him, a quick one from the corner of her eye, as if the sight of him might give her an answer. He was sitting exactly how she had left him: looking down at her intently, pale lips now parted, his eyes too silver to be human. It was the lighting, she knew; the yellow of the sparse sun filtering in and casting his face in shadow. The weight of his gaze was suddenly, painfully present and at the forefront of her mind. The heat of her blood pooled once again over her skin. She felt vulnerable and frighteningly exposed under his scrutiny, but most alarmingly of all she felt desired, and that made her body feel as sensitive to his gaze as she might to a touch. She couldn't help but cross her ankles, shift a little to press her thighs together self-consciously, let out a shaky sigh at the pressure. She worried over how far her skirt was falling but didn't dare check, not while he was watching. Her knees were trembling now; she nibbled nervously at her abused lip.

"Stop that," she demanded again, but this time it lacked the appropriate amount of firm disgust. Even to her ears it sounded more like a weak suggestion, at worst a plea.

She wanted to slap him during the ensuing silence, didn't even need to look up to know he was smiling with satisfaction. She shouldn't have said anything. When he did respond, it was to take in a long breath and pause, to lean forward over his lap and closer to her. Her heart thudded loud in her chest, and she clenched her jaw shut so tight her temples ached. She refused to bow her head any further and hide her sweeping, damning blush, absolutely refused to shame herself more. She wasn't ashamed. She wouldn't let him see it.

"Why should I?" he murmured silkily, in a voice too low and hypnotic to be real. "I'm trying to be nice to you, Ginny. You seem to like this."

"I don't," she burst out, arced her neck to face him with fierce eyes. Sure enough, he was smiling at her, elbows resting casually on his knees. Errant strands of his hair licked at the tips of his ears, and the knot of his Slytherin tie was loose under his collar. She could just see the milky, pale skin of his chest.

"Oh," he whispered, and she couldn't help but watch the way his lips moved around the facetiously said syllable, taming the small breath of air it took. She flinched at her preoccupation, moved her eyes resolutely back to his. "My mistake, Weasley. Forgive me." The words were laced with amusement, insincere in every way. He pulled back, looked away from her, and picked up his quill.

He was intolerable. He was a sickly parasite on her life. Ginny glared, even saw red, and turned back to the spilled potion, scrubbing it harder than ever, wishing it was his ugly face. How dare he? How dare he ferret into her desires like this, slither into her thoughts like a snake? Make her think things, want awful, despicable things and then mock her for it? She seethed. "None of it will budge, Malfoy!" she snapped suddenly, throwing the brush into the pail of now-cool water. It splashed, a small wave of it splattering the floor. "I've been scrubbing at it for a half-hour; it's not coming off this way and you know it!"

"Temper, pet," he said evenly, unconcerned by her tantrum. Ginny nearly pushed his chair, because he'd said it as if she actually were a pet yapping at his leg. He merely turned his head slightly, glanced down her, indifferent and bored as she huffed like an angry bull.

"I'm not doing this," she hissed, because she wasn't anymore. She was not going to scrub the sodding floor, she wasn't going to tolerate his roaming eyes and her attraction to him. She wasn't going to let him be sly and clever with her, say things that were despicable and terribly sexy. He was not sexy. He was Malfoy. Gritting her teeth, she reached for the edge of the table to pull herself to her feet, but it was stupid of her in all her rage to do so, because a sharp splinter sliced her finger raggedly open. She stumbled as she stood, immediately winced and reached for her wrist as warm blood dripped from her hand and fell at her feet. "Oh gods, oh no," she moaned painfully.

"Merlin, you're a mess," Draco spat and grabbed her arm. She wasn't quite sure when he'd moved from his chair, only that he was suddenly on his feet and tugging her none-too-gently across the room to one of the large sinks. He all but threw her in front of it and twisted the knobs, water spurting messily from the old, groaning pipes. She didn't have time to register how he was hovering behind her, close and warm, his body brushing hers with each movement, his arms caging her.

"Oh gods, it won't stop bleeding," she exclaimed. "Malfoy-"

"Just hold it under the tap, Weasley. For God's sake," he replied impatiently. His fingers grasped hers and tugged them under the running spout. Blood swirled down the drain.

"I don't want to go to the infirmary. I hate it there," she announced dreadfully.

"Your capacity to whine like a child astounds me."

"How dare--you know this is all your fault!"

"Yes, I strategically carved out that splinter and forced you to grab at it like an idiot. Ow! Stop stomping on my bloody foot!"

It was the second time she'd done so, it was true. But she had good reason. "Then stop deserving it," she shot back.

"Bloody witch." He hissed this near her ear, his hot breath tickling her neck. An unexpected shudder seized her body; she tensed.

That was the moment she became aware of his proximity, aware of the heat radiating from him, the solid pressure of his chest against her back. She tried to turn her attention back to her cut, back to their overlapping hands in the sink. He was holding hers too hard, his knuckles white, as if she might jerk them away. Ginny winced, tried to concentrate on that pain and not the tempting, welcoming presence of his body.

"Here." He shifted, pulled an arm back. His tone was less aggravated now, more resigned and impatient. She stiffened when he came back with a wand between his long, elegant fingers. "I'm not going to hex you," he muttered in annoyance, tugged their wet hands out of the water with only a little effort. She couldn't help but be cautious, even though she believed him. It didn't seem like cursing her was part of his plan at the moment.

He whispered some spell under his breath, some Latin string of words she didn't catch. The sliced skin pulled taunt over her cut in answer, staunching the flow of blood. "Ow," she exclaimed, flinched back against him. "It pinches," she murmured, with a small degree of curiosity. What kind of spell was that?

"It would," he retorted, as if her observation were painfully obvious. She scowled, and his arm disappeared, framed her side once more a moment later. He'd put his wand away, and now he was shaking out a handkerchief. It was white, soft as silk to the touch, and clearly expensive. The Malfoy family emblem was embroided with painstaking detail at one corner, and that was the corner he wrapped around her injury. Ginny couldn't help but wonder if it cost more than everything she was wearing, and yet he was carelessly using it as a bandage. "Now you don't have to go to the infirmary," he informed her with muted disdain. "And you might as well keep the handkerchief. I certainly don't want it anymore."

"You just can't help but be insulting, can you?" she murmured, but it lacked bite. Had he just been a bit nice to her? He hadn't been pleasant, of course, snipping and generally acting like an arse. But here he was, carefully wrapping her wound with a beloved Malfoy family handkerchief and keeping her from the infirmary. She let out a heavy, relieved sigh that the ordeal was over, the sound only shaken by her confusion.

"It's nothing personal, Weasley," he said softly. It might have been the first time she heard him speak without sounding like a stick was up his butt. She decided she rather liked it. The water was cooling and drying on her hands, turning them cold in the drafty air of the dungeon. She felt Draco shift behind her, swallowed hard when he began to gently rub warmth back into her fingertips. The impulse to relax against him made her sway just slightly; she fought it with the little will power she managed to hold onto. She wished she could see his face, study his expression. Was he being sincere or--no, he couldn't be doing this for any sincere reason. He didn't care; he just wanted to try going about this differently. She even suggested this option, hadn't she?

"Is this your idea of being pleasant?" she wondered. Her words were gently spoken, falsely casual. She was sure he could hear that, hear the probing, curious note of her tone that belied the lightness.

"I thought I was never pleasant a day in my life," he whispered, that familiar, drawling inflection injecting a melody into his words. They brushed against her neck, along her jaw. She pulled in a shaky breath; her lashes fluttered. "I've proven you wrong, Ginny?" There was a smile in his voice that she didn't dare turn to meet. He pulled away, left her cold and bereft without his heat. She heard his footsteps as he retreated; she clutched at the edge of the sink, feeling suddenly weak.