Unofficial Portkey Archive

Highrollers by InTheStars



A/N: Sorry this chapter took so long. With Christmas and friends, life just got hectic and drew me away. Plus I'm sharing the room with my sister and I just write easier when alone. Thank you for all the reviews and encouragement during that meantime though! :)

Ever since her detention, Ginny felt a bit too preoccupied with thoughts of the awful Slytherin. Not that she would ever have admitted that; in all actuality Ginny was doubly preoccupied with making considerable efforts not to think of Draco Malfoy. She went to class dutifully and paid as much attention as she could manage, taking notes that she was sure Hermione would praise with encouragement. When she wasn't in class, she ate dinner with Luna or the other Gryffindors, facing away from the Slytherin table as often as she could. She went to Quidditch practice early now and left late; Harry was certainly proud of her sudden zeal and commitment. (He probably reckoned it was because of the coming match against Slytherin and not because of a Slytherin.) She studied late into the night in the common room (not the library, never the library, lest by some twist of fate she fell asleep again) so that when she finally laid her head down in her four-poster bed, she was too tired to think of Draco's grey eyes and lithe body, what it might feel like to kiss him without a fight.

It didn't help that he seemed to be around every corner she turned, characteristically pale and sneering. She had already stumbled upon him twice as he reprimanded some lower-years before the weekend was over. He hadn't noticed her the first time, but the second time she had no such luck. Her heart had nearly pounded out of her chest when his eyes had caught hers looking. She hadn't stuck around to figure out how he felt about the attention; she'd hurried away and he hadn't followed, thank Merlin.

Tuesday she had past him again on the way to Charms. Her insides were starting to do worrying things like funny little flips and flutters when she saw him. It made her nervous to be in his presence for entirely different reasons now, reasons she could only blush and loathe herself more for every day. She found herself somehow equally dreading and yearning for him to notice her as they approached one another from opposite ends of the hall. She could have slapped herself because this would just not do, this insanity. She wasn't sure how she felt when he merely walked past her with his usual holier-than-thou swagger, his bored, indifferent stare sliding to her rapt expression. He had smirked. She had wanted to do something terribly dramatic like die from shame.

Wednesday she was waiting for Neville after his Transfiguration class; they planned to go visit Professor Sprout about securing individual plots after the winter break. Neville simply loved Herbology of course, but she could use the extra credit. To her shock and dismay the Gryffindors took the class with the Slytherins, and she was greeted with Draco's pointy although sadly not unattractive face as she was leaning against a nearby pillar.

She felt her cheeks grow ridiculously hot as his blond head emerged from the classroom, followed by cheerfully talking students. She wished she had a book open or a bit of parchment, any reason at all to duck and avoid another stupid look. So she snapped her head down and started fumbling aimlessly through her bag, her heartbeat a panicked thudding in her ears. Please just walk away. Please ignore me, please... She pleaded with him without words, pleaded to any higher power, to Merlin, to the universe. It wasn't a prayer without hope; he had yet to stop and annoy her publicly. But now was the worst time for him to start, in front of everyone--in front of Harry, Ron, in front of some of her friends.

So of course she saw his polished shoes strut over and she was forced to look up, her breath catching as he stopped in front of her with a twisted, sneering smile. He was standing close, much too close for comfort in public (or in private, even if they were alone this would be too close, she chastised herself) and he was looking much too composed and amused and handsome in his perfectly tailored Slytherin robes. There was a light in his eyes, some awful spark that wasn't quite as malicious as it was predatory.

"You're not here for me, are you, pet?" he drawled in an undertone.

She blushed deeper at his chosen little name for her, felt a rush of irritation. "Why would I--no, Malfoy. I'm here for Neville," she replied firmly, glancing worriedly over his shoulder. If Harry or Ron came out--or even Neville...

"Well, he's a bit of a sniveling idiot, isn't he?" he remarked, almost conversationally. He looked as if she announced she was here to eat a heaping pile of vomit-flavored jelly beans.

"Don't be cruel." Ginny turned her attention back to him a moment, narrowing her flashing eyes. Neville was her friend and even if he wasn't, for Merlin's sake. Unsurprisingly, Malfoy was being an arse and she didn't have time for it. "Just--just shut up, Malfoy. I've got to go," she sputtered out in a rush, and breezed past him quickly. Just in time as well; Harry and then Ron spilled out of the entrance, followed by Neville.

"Oh hey, Gin," Ron said, looking both pleased and a bit confused to see her. He had an easy smile on his lips and a bit of ink on his jaw. Ginny didn't know how he managed to look like an overgrown ten-year-old so consistently, and that's why she gave her brother a bemused look and a raised eyebrow.

"Hey," she sighed, glad to be away from the ruddy toad behind her. Really, truly glad, as if life had just gotten easier, looking at her friends and family. She couldn't help but give Harry a warm smile, taking in his kind, jade eyes and the ruffled mess of his hair. A year ago she might have felt a curling warmth in her belly at the sight of his half-smile pointed in her direction.

Right now all she felt was the paranoid weight of Draco Malfoy's stare. She refused to look back and see if it was in her imagination or not. Surely he wouldn't stick around.

"All right, Ginny?" Harry asked.

"All right," she lied through her grinning teeth. She pivoted towards Neville, who was trying quite valiantly to stuff the mess of his books and parchment into his bag. "Ready, Neville?"

"What're you doing with Neville?" Ron piped up suspiciously, and Ginny didn't even fight the urge to roll her eyes. For goodness sake. Neville turned a bit pink and looked a tad afraid of Ron's brotherly wrath.

"We're going to see Professor Sprout, Ron. Come off it," she exclaimed, her face twisting into an expression of impatient annoyance. No wonder she couldn't get a date. Instead she got forbidden snogs from Draco Malfoy. Speaking of, she was not going to look over her shoulder.

Not even when Ron paused mid-breath and did so for her, his brow furrowing angrily. Ginny's heart fell into her stomach region. "Oi! What d'you think you're looking at, Malfoy?"

"Not much at all, Weasel." She heard his drawling voice and flushed, peering guiltily up at Ron's similarly puce face. Harry was quiet; she avoided looking at him directly at all. "I can tell you that with confidence." Footsteps sounded behind her as he spoke; soon enough she felt his towering presence behind her. Her shoulders tensed and she hesitated to turn around.

"Sod off," Ron spat.

Yes, please do, she thought anxiously.

"I would love to be anywhere away from your unfortunate and pitiful existence, Weasley," Draco said scathingly, "but it turns out I have some business with your little sister. Isn't that right, Ginevra?"

She almost laughed at the absurdity of the moment: Neville blanched and looked downright terrified for her, Harry furrowed his brow and looked displeased and suspicious. Ron, on the other hand, looked enraged, his lips moving silently. Ginevra? was what he repeated to himself, as if Draco Malfoy using her full name or her first name at all was the oddest thing in the world.

"I-" she started.

"You really better sod off, Malfoy, or Iswear," Ron threatened, took a menacing step forward, stopping only when Harry lifted a hand to his shoulder. "You've got no business with my sister."

"You don't, Malfoy," Harry added. His voice would be almost sound reasonable and diplomatic if it weren't for the disgust laced into Draco's spoken last name.

"No one asked you, Potter," Draco spat out hatefully. "Or you, Weasley, for that matter. But in the interest of shutting you both up, Miss Ginny broke curfew, didn't she? If she knows what's good for her she'll come to detention with me," he said slyly. Ginny nearly shivered at the veiled threat in his tone; she felt his eyes on the back of her head. More importantly, however, she wondered over how the huge git could love the sound of his voice so much he had to open his mouth and say such things she took so much care at keeping secret.

"That was--that was you!" Ron burst out, getting riled up quickly. "Ginny, why didn't you tell me this wanker-? Listen here, Malfoy, she went to your bloody detention last week!"

"And now she's got another," he announced. She knew his cool demeanor was cracking, heard it in his voice. He was irritated with her brother and Harry's righteous rambling and overprotective tendencies. Under any other circumstance, she might feel angered by it as well; right now all she felt was a damning sort of nervousness and excitement. It swirled in her belly, the idea of Draco pulling her off somewhere to be alone again. Would he try to kiss her? Would she let him? Oh gods, what was happening to her? She was supposed to hate him and dread this sort of thing.

Yet she pulled in a soft, shaky gasp when his long fingers curled around her upper arm, the touch firm and possessive.

"Let's go, Weasley," he said to her. She turned her head just enough to peek at his cold gaze, which was directed with a disgusted sneer at her brother.

"It's fine, Ron. I'll be fine," she mumbled, let Draco give her a little tug and pull her away. Ron looked ready to maim and kill; Harry looked similarly grave and worried. Her insides gave a little lurch, because they had no reason to worry, really. She wanted to go, Merlin help her. "You know I can take care of myself. It's just a detention. Sorry, Neville..."

By then Draco's slow steps had turned into long strides, his grip on her arm vice-like but not particularly painful. Still, he was going too fast and she had to rush to keep up, anger still blossoming in her chest at his little ploy to get her alone. At whatever stupid game he was playing. They turned a corner; Draco pulled her into some empty, dusty classroom, slamming the door behind them.

Ginny wasted no time wrenching herself from his grasp and giving his broad chest a good shove. He merely took a step back to keep his balance, sneered as if she merely offended him by moving his perfectly placed tie. "What was that, Malfoy? Are you insane? With my brother and Harry right there!"

"Yes, because you're right, Ginny: I care ever so much about what those idiots think," he said sarcastically, adjusting the knot around his neck.

"Do not call them that!"

"I'll call them what I please, especially when I'm merely speaking the truth."

She huffed, enraged by his snide tone, enraged by his audacity, at the way he had just manipulated her into this stupid room with him. Why? What could he possibly want from her now? "What do you want, Malfoy?" she blurted impatiently, crossed her arms over her chest.

Gods, that was a good question, wasn't it? That was the thought that ran through Draco's mind as he looked down on the angry little bint, her stubborn posture giving away all of her impatience. He sneered, curled his lip up as his long, agile fingers made slow, stalling work of fixing the knot of his tie.

Honestly, he wasn't quite sure what he wanted with her, now that he had her alone. Well obviously, he wanted to do quite a bit to the delectable and despicable creature in front of him while they were alone, but over the past few weeks he'd certainly learned how to curb those positively barbaric impulses. Really, playing Miss Ginny Weasley like a harp was by all means entertaining, but it sure was proving to be a bit of work, wasn't it? And to what end? Shagging her, leaving her crying by the wayside, perhaps? Throwing it in those oafs' faces he just pulled her from? What did he want?

The question troubled him, but he didn't let it show on the cold, condescending mask on his face. He was sure some creatively awful plot would occur to him eventually. For now he could have his fun, and he hadn't been having any of that watching the youngest Weasley run off to Potter and her brother, ignoring him after pinning him with such promising looks the last several days.

He took steps closer to her, finishing with his tie and smoothing his sneer into an arrogant smirk. It had been a few long moments since she had asked her annoying question, and the hard expectancy in her gaze faltered at the sudden and drastic changing of his expression. Her lips pulled down into a worried frown, her arms started to fall as he took calculated, intimidating steps forward.

"Weasley," he drawled. To her credit, she stayed still and lifted her chin bravely, her sweet cinnamon-colored eyes smartly cautious. "Ginny... I think we've already covered what I want." She was close now, inches away, and he could make out all the freckles on her pink, round cheeks.

She really was quite pretty, even with all that garish crimson hair, all sweet and precious and full of fire and silly bravery. It gave her quite an edge, being so small and seemingly fragile. Draco wondered what it would take to break her, felt his brow furrow at the feeling the thought left him. Strange, really, breaking her didn't seem as fun as simply riling her up. Then where would all these beautiful displays of personality go? And, of course, the challenge of getting into her knickers? But no, obviously. No, he'd like to see her in the dirt where she belonged, preferably if he put her there. Like any other self-respecting Malfoy.

His smirk twitched; he cast aside that strange feeling and its inclinations aside. "Really, pet," he murmured, his voice perfectly melodic, perfectly soft and suggestive. "The question is: what do you want from me?"

"I want you to get out of my life, you great prat," she instantly answered, but there was something rehearsed about the angry words, although the anger was without a doubt real. It blazed in her eyes, her lips in a frustrated little pout that beckoned his attention.

"Is that so, Weasley?" he intoned with a victorious smile. She took the verbal bait so easily every time. "Is that why you've spent so much of your time fixing me with those looks of yours?"

She flushed, in that oh-so-very becomingly typical way. "Looks of hatred, Malfoy," she said scathingly, but her eyes wavered just slightly from his piercing gaze.

"Rapt hatred, certainly," he teased, lifting a hand to trace the strap of her bag on her shoulder. He'd just like to trace that stubborn line of her mouth, the maddeningly delicate curve of her collarbone. It was peeking out behind the collar of her button down, her neck muscles tensing as she swallowed. That was another place he'd like to be familiar with, but he settled for the blasted strap of her bag. She made no move to instantly slap his hand away, which he found curious. Rewarding, really. Wasn't that progress, then? Her looks of 'hatred' too were progress; he did quite like them. The slight confusion, the soft curiosity, the quiet expectation. No girl had ever looked at him quite like that, not even Pansy, who was always too busy fluttering her lashes and trying to look cute. She looked at him with respect of course, with devotion, and the slyness of a thief looking to steal the dignity of his name and fortune, but never so purely, so innocently interested. Not like Ginny Weasley.

Twirling her around his little finger was producing a few pleasures he hadn't expected. This was one of them, he decided, although he wasn't sure he approved. Strange, how the feeling was warm in his chest, made him feel... well something he hadn't felt before, something that made him feel too light and entirely too good, as if-

As if he truly and honestly liked the idea of Ginny Weasley being soft on him.

The realization made him stiffen slightly, his grey eyes locked on his fingers' progress. Well, he did, didn't he? Instantly the notion that he might only logically be soft on her pressed past the walls of his mind with the force of a battering ram, but he instantly expelled the notion with vehement disgust. Of course he didn't--how could he even--it was too absurd.

His heart was racing a bit quickly in his chest now, and he felt irrationally irritated by it, by the scare the thought had afforded him. Of course he didn't want Weasley as anything but a nice, innocent little treat to corrupt. She had just captivated his attention with her annoyingly gorgeous body, sent him reeling for a time. This was simply just a strange fluke of all these plans to get her in bed with him or whatever it was he was doing here.

Really, the feeling wasn't anything specific to the stupid girl, it was just-

But the idea of admitting to wanting such human affection even to himself came with a price tag on his pride. He didn't need any of that, never did. He didn't need anyone or anything, for Merlin's sake, that he didn't already have or couldn't buy for himself.

"There was nothing," Ginny spoke up then, her voice even but transparently worried by his proximity, by his probing questions. She seemed to lose something halfway through--her breath or her nerve, perhaps both. She sucked in an lungful of air. "There was nothing rapt about it."

He snapped his eyes to hers, caught her gaze. Something there must have made her pause like she did, the concerned look on her pretty face hesitating. She looked positively startled, her lips parting, her brown eyes darting searchingly over his expression. He wanted to curse himself for a moment; what did she see there, he wondered? Something intense, he was sure, maybe even telling of his thoughts. Stupid. He was utterly stupid. There was no excuse for letting her see whatever intensity had been swirling in him.

He blocked her out instinctively, sliding on that dignified mask that was instilled in him since birth. It was useful. It was befitting a Slytherin and a Malfoy. There was no emotion on this mask, just indifference and cool calculation. Ginny's shoulders rose slightly at the sight of it and her eyes widened. He swept forward, pinned and caged her against the nearest table.

She sucked in a gasping breath as he did so, lifted her hands to his chest, as if to push him away. "Malfoy," she protested weakly.

"You can lie all you want, Ginny, but I know the truth," he bit out, a hair's breadth away from pressing against her body. He felt the whisper of her robes, the light pressure of her fingertips on his chest. It woke his body, lit him up in ways that disconcerted him. She looked scared now, cornered like an animal, and some darkness rose in him at the sight of it. He thought grimly, Good. Good, she should be scared of me. Yet his gut clenched as she looked up at him with that same awed curiosity, with such big, maddeningly warm eyes. "You want this. You want me. Even at that bloody poker game. I could tell by the way you looked at me."

She flushed, but didn't look away, didn't try to escape him for once. Didn't even try to deny it. "And the way you look at me?" she questioned in a small voice, but it was far from timid. "You should know, Malfoy, I'm not some prize in a game, all right? I know what you're doing, trying to wear me down. I'm not stupid and I've got more dignity than that."

He smirked at the mention of dignity, at her stubbornness. She said she wasn't a prize, that she knew his game, and yet she played into his hands at the slightest manipulation. "Then why haven't you pushed me away yet?"

She paled, looked away from him for a moment, her lips in a thin line. "Because I--well, because you're right, you arse," she blurted out, the words rushed and pained. She even grimaced, pulled her fingers from her chest as if she just noticed them, as if she'd been burned. He felt annoyed at the loss of her touch, felt annoyed that she even felt it necessary to pull away. That wasn't what he was aiming for here. "I do--I do want--but that's not the point," she argued fiercely, looked back up at him. Her gaze was hard, full of determination. "This is over, Malfoy. This twisted thing between you and me, it's done. Now let me go before I move you myself."

She was serious--utterly and completely. Defiant over her desire of him to a fault. A rush of satisfaction had swept over him, victorious and suffocating when she all but admitted to it: admitted to coveting him, admitted to what he had known all along. He wanted to lash out again, now more than ever at her ridiculous demands, but he stifled the impulse, his look penetrating and cold. Her lips barely quivered and she held her shoulders back, proud to the end.

And she would be, he knew. Proud to the very end. The thought resulted in a smirk and he obliged her, stepping away to the door. "Whatever you say, Weasley," he decided calmly, and left her there.

Draco wouldn't go as far as to say he was happy the rest of the day, but he'd admit, he was something close to it. He was utterly satisfied with himself, despite knowing the dangers of celebrating a small victory. That's what it was: the first step, the deciding factor. He had gotten Ginny to admit to wanting him, in however a stilted way, and while that was not nontrivial by any standards, it was only the first step.

People usually steered clear of him when he was like this. He wasn't quite sure why, but he didn't mind it. He positively loved it actually; no one got in his way. The only exception to this collective behavior was Pansy, but even she had taken to leaving him alone this past week, ever since his words with her. Instead she took to throwing him pouting, affronted glances and making quiet, hurt sounds whenever she was in his presence. Draco knew she was waiting for an apology. He hoped Pansy knew she would be waiting an eternity.

He was currently hoping this, letting out an amused chuckle under his breath as the girl in question stuck her pug nose into her Potions text and went on reading in the Slytherin common room. It was after dinner, which had been its usual affair, only sweetened by little Ginny Weasley's suspicious glances in his direction. He had set her on edge, no doubt. He seemed to be amazingly good at setting her on edge.

He was sitting by the fire in a plush armchair that had long been considered his by the entirety of the Slytherin house. Pansy was seated somewhere behind him. He was aware the wounded girl could see his smirking profile, but he had no qualms about anyone witnessing the plain, quiet triumph etched into his features. People could do with the reminder that Draco Malfoy got what he wanted.

The burning wood was crackling against the flames, licking the blackened stone behind the fireplace's gate. Draco rested his jaw in his hand as he observed the hungry fire, blocked Pansy's irritating huffs from his mind. He thought of Ginny, of his next move. Perhaps a lack of one? True cunning was not to seek out one's desire, but to lure it in. He felt a thrill at the idea of Ginny coming to him, decided that was the only way he'd be content with this little game. He just needed to set the trap further. She was already suspicious, already awaiting the continuation of his ploys. Maybe he'd sit back, give her doubts. She'd think it was all over. Clearly she was too bright and merely wanting him wasn't enough to sway her. She would have to believe he had lost all interest in toying with her...

And gods, she did want him. He thought of the fierceness in her gaze, how it burned with more than just frustration. The vulnerable way she hesitated at his proximity, the shortened breaths she took whenever he came near. Draco let out a breath of his own, nearly closed his eyes. His thoughts slowed now and his mood relaxed, thinking of those sweet, unsure looks she sent his way. He would have her.

By the end of the year, he would possess her.

"There are rumors going about, you know." Blaise's voice interrupted his pleasant thoughts; he looked up with an indifferent expression.

Zabini gave him a smile, one of those terribly knowing smiles, and sat on the love seat opposite him. He took his time getting comfortable, bringing an ankle up to rest on his knee. Draco, on the other hand, simply rose an eyebrow and waited. Blaise wasn't one for gossiping and neither was he. He wondered then what this was about.

"By the by, Draco, you make an awfully frightening happy person," he remarked casually. "I think I prefer your brooding and obnoxiousness to... this." He casually gestured Draco's way.

"Noted, Zabini," he retorted. "I'll tailor my moods to fit your preferences." His tone was immensely dry; he watched the way Blaise reacted: so genuinely amused, his laugh full and short. Behind the sparkle in his warm blue eyes, Draco knew there was more than just uncharacteristic kindness (for a Slytherin, anyway), more than just a laugh. Blaise Zabini was the only other housemate Draco had ever felt threatened by when it came to cunning and intellect. Yet despite that first impression, Blaise had never been a threat. He simply lacked the ambition to rule the Slytherin House. Over the years a strange alliance had formed between them. Draco wouldn't call it friendship, but it was the closest thing to the phenomenan he had. It was the only reason Draco would ever be so frank with the other man, ask a question such as the following without any feints or slyness. "Now what do you care about rumors?"

"Me? I don't care at all, my dear friend," Blaise drawled. "However, Tracey tells me she heard something of interest in the library today from a Gryffindor." Draco's interest perked, but it didn't show on his expression. He hated quite simply that Blaise could practically read his mind anyway, which he proved quickly. "Yes, I know. Which Gryffindor of your concern, you might ask. The Boy Who Lived or Miss Ginevra?" He paused, obviously to dangle the bait a little. Draco rose an eyebrow and Blaise smiled; he knew it was working. At the very least, he was testing Draco's patience and knew it. "Well, neither. Colin Creevey apparently has some romantic interest in Ginny Weasley and is planning on asking her into Hogsmeade. I thought that was interesting. He seems a bit meek for her."

"A bit," Draco sneered out in response. He ignored the flashing hot rage he felt all the while, staring blankly into Blaise's piercing stare.

That was quite interesting, not to mention entirely annoying. Blaise was studying him for a reaction, Draco knew, and he schooled his expression to one of emotionless boredom. Who exactly was this Creevey lout? The one with the camera who followed Potter around for years, wasn't he? Yeah, he was the dirty Muggleborn who was petrified when the Chamber was opened. He couldn't recall seeing the filth hanging about recently. He wouldn't be surprised if the mousey boy had gone off and died without Draco hearing or caring about it.

He sort of wished Creevey had now, preferably during second year. This added another player to the game, gave him something more to think about. He could perhaps spin this to his advantage...


"Anyway, I've got homework, mate," Blaise said abruptly and got up. He slapped a friendly hand on Draco's shoulder as he passed him by.

He barely felt it, already glaring into the flames, his satisfaction subdued. What if Ginny said yes to this idiot? What then? Would he just let her go? The thought made him bristle inwardly. No, he would let her go. He would just have to remind her someway of who she truly wanted.

"She's a waste of your time, Draco," Pansy spoke up venomously. "I hope you know. She's too pure and simple for the likes of you. I don't mind that you have an annoying fixation. When it gets old trying to shag a prude, you should know that I could handle you." She got up and left, head held high.

Draco's jaw clenched in frustration. He tried to dispel Pansy's pathetic attempt to get to him, but her words stuck with him for hours after.