Unofficial Portkey Archive

Highrollers by InTheStars



A/N: Okay, this took a lot out of me for some reason. It's been a pretty busy, stressful week and I feel like posting it and starting a new chapter will just help me write more efficiently. It's marginally shorter than the last few but it's still a full scene. Hope you enjoy it!

Keeping up appearances was never a problem for Draco Malfoy. He would be hard-pressed to start a habit that shattered such superior breeding now. Denial was never a problem for Draco either; most times the young Slytherin even believed all the hateful things he told himself. It shouldn't be an issue then, ignoring Ginny Weasley's dirty freckled face and warm eyes or forgetting about ever thinking traitorous thoughts about the girl. It shouldn't be.

Lust wasn't such a bad thing to give into; he could live with that sin. He could live with appreciating her crimson hair that hung loose over her shoulders, sometimes tied haphazardly back, sometimes in one of her messy, completely undignified braids. He could live with remembering how far her freckles went, conjuring up the memory from that blasted poker game, how they dipped between her breasts, even travelled down over her mid-drift. He could live with the light pink of her lips, the heart shape of her face and the curve of her hips. She was a Weasley and she was scum, but she was human and at least a pureblood. And she was beautiful.

There seemed to be a line. Some faint line he couldn't help but step over time and time again, more and more after he had identified it while watching her with Colin Creevey. It wasn't just her body; it was the fire in her cinnamon eyes, her quick wit and courage, the way she held herself even in the face of his cold wrath. It was her. Everything that made her Ginny blurring into all that visceral attraction. No matter how hard he tried lately he couldn't separate the two. They had fused together somehow and he just couldn't compartmentalize these parts of Ginny Weasley for his own sanity.

And maybe he shouldn't keep trying; maybe he should give up this stupid game and tuck the whole of her away in his mind before he went mad. He could hide her in some dark corner to never look at again. He could go on just fine after that and learn from his mistake: Don't fancy fiery redheaded Gryffindors because nothing good comes of it.

His pride fought that notion of giving up, raising its hackles at the very thought. Give up? How was that an option? He was a Malfoy. Malfoys don't let feelings get in the way of acquiring anything, even a person. They found a way to push them aside and get on with it. If they couldn't or didn't, they weren't worthy of their name.

But continuing on with this game seemed more and more like something that required a bit of courage to Draco, a bit of guts. It would mean he would have to accept how he felt or turn his affection for the girl entirely off, neither of which he seemed capable of doing; he had been trying and he still tired. This truth was now he was a tad nervous about pursuing her, scared now that he had given her a glimpse into the truth of his feelings. Merlin, his feelings. He sounded like a girl, fretting over this bloody predicament. It didn't help that she was back to looking at him oddly whenever they were remotely near each other, curiously studying him from beneath lowered lashes, as if trying to figure him out. It felt invasive and irritating; it felt like he had handed over the upper hand to her.

He had. The truth was he had. So he kept up his cruel front and ignored her, only sent her challenging looks every time she took to noticing him long enough. Perhaps she would tire of it eventually. Perhaps he would get himself under control. Either way, Draco wouldn't be comforted in the least.

In the meantime he found he could concentrate a bit better lately, as if telling Ginny Weasley he found her entire package appealing soothed some of his stress over it. He supposed that was only logical, if he had been even remotely concerned about bottling up his affections, which he hadn't. He took it in stride anyway and decided not to think of it, turning his attentions where they were better deserved: class and quidditch. Pansy still hung about like an annoying fly he must try not to swat; she had been encouraged by his invitation to Hogsmeade. He didn't know why, considering she knew he had only invited her because she purposely complained about his disinterest to her mother, who brought it up with his mother, who told his father and so on. Blaise shot him bemused and sympathetic looks during Pansy's dullest and most annoying moments; Tracey merely smiled shyly beside him, her head as always bowed. Draco gritted his teeth and wished he had a girl like Blaise did: some quiet, pretty girl who had a decent head on her shoulders and all the devotion in the world to give.

Instantly his mind presented him with an entirely different image of the girl he'd like to have. He knew his first desire was just not true and it nagged incessantly at him.

He was experiencing such a moment in the library just after Halloween. Somehow he had been roped into a N.E.W.T. studying group. He sat trying to read up on a few advanced potions Professor Snape had recommended Draco familiarize himself with while Pansy prattled on to him about nothing.

Blaise and Tracey were studying quite silently, only peeking up from their books at more of the ridiculous comments Pansy would make here or there. Draco tried to tell her to shut up nicely a half hour ago ("Will you do me the honor of shutting up?") but it hadn't stuck because she had started up again just moments before.

"And I said that she couldn't charm her hair into looking like anything - Draco, what are you doing?"

He had slammed his book closed and was getting up, unconcerned with the reproachful look Madame Pince shot his way. "What does it look like, Pansy?" he answered with only the kind of condescending irritation Draco could. "I'm leaving in the hopes that your incessant chatter doesn't follow me. Don't follow me," he ordered for good measure and turned into the stacks, armed with only his one book.

He ignored her affronted huff with a roll of his eyes, turning down one aisle and another aimlessly, walking deeper and deeper into the rows and rows of books, hoping to find a desk or a sitting area hidden somewhere. They were around, he knew - comfortable old couches placed in odd clearings. The library was huge and Draco didn't come here often enough to remember a specific one. He was quite sure there was one around the area he was in however, which was why he slowed, looking down every aisle.

Imagine his surprise when he peered down one and found Ginny Weasley's mane of red hair assaulting his eyes. He very nearly cursed, his free hand curling into a fist. These chance meetings were growing quite tiresome. He couldn't help but think some higher power wanted to torture him. She was standing on her toes, straining high for a book on the very top shelf. She wasn't going to reach it but still she attempted to determinedly.

He sneered at the way her skirt rode up on her thighs, one of her knee-high socks not quite pulled up the whole way. Merlin, he hated her. He was sure he hated her, hated the way seeing her made him pause to resolutely push down the rush of emotions and desires she conjured up within him.

Her small fingers nearly caught the binding of her book. She let out an impatient little sound, which was quickly followed by a sigh of the same caliber. Before he knew what he was doing he strode forward to snatch the volume off the shelf and extend it to her, his face a impenetrable, haughty mask.

Ginny nearly stumbled back in surprise, sucking in a gasp when she spun to the side and met his eyes. She gaped at him, rather like a fish, that familiar temper and suspicion entering her gaze. He fought to keep his expression as impassive as ever, his eyes unwavering as he stared down at her. He did stare to his supreme annoyance, fixed on the soft curves of her dusted cheeks, that small freckle on her top lip. The spark of life in her stirred something in his chest, much like it always had. At least he understood it now, even if he could hardly stand it. At least.

"The proper response is 'thank you,' Weasley," he drawled during her suspended silence.

She bristled, snatching the book from him. He let his hand fall to his side. "I know the proper response," she retorted defensively. She hesitated over the following moment of silence, her slim shoulders pulling up, her eyes darting around his stone expression. "Thank you," she said grudgingly.

"You're welcome." He wasn't about to forget his manners. Nor was he going to stand around and look at her anymore like some fool. His jaw clenched; his nails dug into the cover of his own book. He was annoyed that this seemed to be the end of the interaction. He willed his feet to side step her, relieved despite himself that they obeyed and he was walking away. Besides, he had caught a glimpse of that sitting area behind her shoulder, so there was no reason to stick around and have a staring contest.

He stopped short at the mouth of the aisle, his lips thinning into a frown when he caught sight of a pile of books and parchment littered on one of the old armchairs. Ginny slipped past him, her warmth nearly brushing his side. She was small enough to do it, her brown eyes just as careful not to touch his. "Excuse me," she said, not unkindly, and sat in the middle of her things. Only then did she glance up at him, clearly uncomfortable with his towering, lingering presence.

"You're sitting here?" he inquired, half-incredulous and half-annoyed. He realized only after he asked how stupid the question was: of course she was sitting there - her bum was on the cushion.

Thankfully she either didn't notice the ridiculousness of his accusal or decided to overlook it. "I always sit here," she shot out, rather impatiently, and looked at him as if he might challenge that.

Ah, he realized. This was her spot. This was where she sat and did her work, away from the tables and other students. His gaze roamed the small alcove distastefully, his lip curled up. It was musty; the armchair, sofa and small table there were old and ratty enough to be worth of a Weasley, really. Even the rug beneath them was faded and looked better suited for the trash. He kicked at the edge of it. "Fitting," he drawled.

"Are you done insulting me? I have work to do," she slung back, as if her time were terribly limited and important.

"I just started insulting you," he retorted viciously.

"Fine, then out with it," she demanded, her voice rising, her cheeks flushing with color. She was quite a sight to behold; their climbing hostility seemed to inject her with ready and consuming animosity: her back was straight, her chest jutting out enticingly, her pretty features twisted into a blazing, strong look. "Get it over with, you spineless prat," she spat. "Call me poor and filthy and below you and get it over with."

He wanted to. He wanted to more than anything, looking down at her stupid face. He wanted to call her all the names he could think of at that moment. He wanted to hurt her in some way, any way - wanted her to know even a sliver of what was boiling in his gut and consuming him alive. She was too fucking gorgeous, sitting there with that righteous Gryffindor look on her face, and he was hopeless to even understand why that was. Why it made her beautiful, why it made him care or stole this kind of attention from him in the first place. (Did she know? She had to know. She had to know what she was doing to him.)

He bored his cold glare down on hers and she met his eyes unflinchingly, waiting for his insults and his cruelty. It would to set this right, wouldn't it? It would set this entire situation back on course. She expected it, he realized. The little bitch expected him to continue ignoring her existence, to continue pretending like he hadn't said one halfway decent thing to her in Hogsmeade.

He couldn't explain it, the sudden desire to prove her wrong. It made him feel sick and strange, open and vulnerable. He hated her. He hated her, didn't he? He had to, this infatuation aside. She was a Weasley, a blood traitor. Everything he hated and more.

Some force inside of him was commanding him to leave, to flee, to get away from her before he realized he might not hate her as much as he should. No good could come of that. But he had to say something. "Wasting breath insulting you is what's beneath me," he hissed.

He nearly stumbled back like a scared boy when she rose from her seat, her fists clenched and her eyes flashing, but he stopped himself with what he assumed was the very last shred of his dignity. He had never wanted to put distance between them before, but now it seemed like he should. Like if she came too close there would be nothing that made anymore sense to him and he needed to hold onto that.

"You're nothing but a slimy, two-faced coward," she exclaimed, "and I hate you!"

"You're wounding me, Weasley, you really are," he shot back sarcastically.

"I would think so, considering just the other week you were confessing you fancied me!" she shouted back recklessly; all the color drained from her face as if she just realized the meaning of the words. Her eyes grew wider and then wider still when he felt some taunt string inside of him snap.

One moment he was a good few yards away and the next he was crowding her, his fingers grabbing at her arm to keep her in place. She made a startled sound but she didn't stumble back, even as she tried ineffectually to wrench her arm away. Her face was tilted up towards his, her jaw set and her look furious. He could count the dirty freckles on her nose if he felt like it. "I do not," he ground out, "fancy you."

"Liar," she accused brazenly, and then her eyes slid down to the sneer on his lips, darted back up to his glare as if checking herself. She blushed hard as he smirked with vicious amusement.

He wanted to give in and kiss her senseless, until he forgot why he hated her so much, until nothing made sense anymore. Would it be a relief, he wondered? Or would it drive him insane, getting lost in her?

"If you're waiting for a kiss, Ginny, I'm not going to give you one," he whispered beneath his shallow breath, pleased with the scandalized look on her face. "And since we're being so candid, maybe you can enlighten me this time around. Why haven't you siced your brothers and your precious Potter on me, hrm? What did you get out of it?"

She blanched. "Let. Go," she ground out between her teeth, tried to tug her arm away yet again. But he held it firmly, knowing he was onto something worthwhile.

"Did you like it, Weasley? Did you like feeling wanted?" He swung blindly with the questions, was rewarded with telling rage. She was like a map - all her transparent expressions leading him to all her soft spots. "Did you like feeling chased? It gave you a thrill, didn't it? Knowing you could turn a corner and I might be there, wanting you." He took in her expressions, drunk them in like a thirsty man would consume water in a desert.

It was a hollow sort of satisfaction, watching her distress. It flickered in her eyes, the reaction to the truth in his words. It made him tired and weary to see it, to see the damage he had done. Her shame didn't please him; it merely crawled into his gut and sickened him. When she shoved him, he let her do it. He let himself stumble back.

"Get out of my face," she ordered fiercely, "or I swear-" She stopped there, but the threat hung in the air between them, palpable and real.

"As you wish," he replied. He bent at the waist, giving her a mock bow before leaving.