Something to Talk About
Authoress' Note: Here it is, the update. It's rather hard to update anything when you've got as many stories as I have, but I won't make excuses. That would be silly. I'll just tell you that it's good to be writing again. I feel like all the tension I've had over the past month has just been let out. Anyway, enough for my psychoanalysis…please leave a review! They make my day!
Chapter 2: Blood. So Much Blood.
Ginny Weasley and Draco Malfoy stood in the shadows outside the door to the Great Hall the next morning. Inside, students were enjoying a delicious breakfast courtesy of the talented Hogwarts house-elves. Draco and Ginny were not enjoying their breakfast, however. Not yet.
The two were having some…technical difficulties.
"Just give me your hand, Weasley!"
Ginny cringed inwardly at the thought of holding hands with Draco Malfoy, but she grudgingly relented, slipping her small freckled hand into his larger pale one. Slightly unwilling to know the answer, she forced herself to ask, "So…what do I have to do?"
He snorted with amusement, mentally focusing on trying to touch as little of her hand as possible while still appearing a plausible couple. "Oh, nothing. Sign over your firstborn, hand me Excalibur dressed in flowing white samite, defeat a Hydra. Nothing out of the ordinary for you, Weasel."
She quirked an eyebrow upward at his sarcastic reply. "Well, obviously, somebody hasn't had his bloody coffee this morning."
He stopped fidgeting with their hands for his grey eyes to meet her chocolate. "Tea, Weasel. True Brits drink tea, none of that namby-pamby coffee business."
She let out a rather ungraceful snort before asking, "Did you just say 'namby-pamby,' because, you know, that's not a very intimidating saying for the so-called 'Prince of Slytherin' to use in everyday conversation."
He shot her an icy glare before rolling his eyes. "Oh, for fuck's sake, Weasel. If we're supposed to be a couple, you have to stop being such a bitch!"
She regarded him evenly, cocking her head to the side in amusement. "And 'if we're supposed to be a couple,' you have to stop being such a great prat, Malfoy."
"Draco," he corrected her automatically, looking over her appearance and his to make sure that there was nothing to which bloody Pansy Parkinson could find objectionable. This first appearance would set the tone for their "coupledom," and Draco didn't want anything to go awry.
"Draco?" she questioned. "You've never objected to my calling you Malfoy before."
He looked at her like she was extremely dense, and consequently spoke very slowly in his response. "I've never asked you to pretend to date me before, either. My girlfriends generally call me by my first name, as lovely as my surname does dance on the ear."
Ginny regarded him with interest. "Girlfriends? You've had those? I thought you only had women who kept your bed warm, so to speak."
Draco's eyes bugged at her audacity. Hmph. Figures I had to go and make this bloody proposal to the most outspoken bint in Hogwarts, he thought irritably, tugging on his tie one final time before leading Ginny toward the large wooden doors of the Great Hall. "I have relationships, all right? There's no need to get all bloody Gryffindor on me and start morally classifying my actions!"
Ginny smiled at him sweetly, eyes wide with innocence. "Oh, don't worry. No morals here!"
Before Draco could think of the possible implications of that statement, Ginny Weasley had tugged open the doors-and tugged him right on through with her.
The whole of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry watched the unlikely couple enter the towering doors, including, to Draco's immense satisfaction, Pansy Parkinson. Pansy was seated next to Daphne Greengrass and Millicent Bulstrode at the Slytherin table, jaw dropped in horror, an action that seemed to be mimicked by most of the Hogwarts population. Ginny cringed when she noticed the same expression Pansy was wearing on the faces of many Gryffindors-Olivia and Blythe, Dean, Seamus and Colin, just to name a few. However, Luna, Ginny noticed when her eyes passed over the Ravenclaw table, didn't look the least bit surprised. Instead the airy blonde looked as if this was a change of events she had expected all along. Funny, that.
"Dear Merlin," Ginny hissed at Draco, squeezing his hand tightly (and certainly not out of affection). "You'd think the bloody Queen had dropped by for tea!"
He snorted in response, surveying the reactions of his peers with indifference. "If you fashion yourself a queen these days, Weasel. Don't know how you can think yourself a queen when you can't even buy robes that fit, though."
The rage began to bubble and boil under Ginny's calm exterior, making her a veritable time bomb of fury. "Fuck you, Malfoy," she hissed as quietly as possible, making sure to apply a wide smile as she did it.
He rolled his eyes. "Have a good day too, Ginny!" he called out loudly, much more for the benefit of the Hall's many eavesdroppers than for Ginny's.
She grumbled slightly, avoiding his gaze. "Have a good day too, Malf- I mean…Draco."
He smiled at her tightly, looking obviously forced from where Ginny was standing, but inevitably fine to the rest of the world (as Malfoys almost never smiled, most people could never tell if his smiles were real, anyway). Then he did something that they had definitely not gone over in the hallway-he lowered his lips to hers, kissing her softly in the middle of the Great Hall.
Ginny foggily remembered enjoying the kiss later, but at the time, her mind went blissfully blank. The caress felt like it lasted forever, but Draco actually pulled away after just a few moments. All of the onlookers assumed the chasteness of the kiss was because of the presence of professors, but an irritable Ginny later decided in her dorm that the real reason must be because Draco felt like he was contaminating his bloody perfect self by kissing her in the first place.
She watched him walk away toward the Slytherin table with nothing short of shock apparent on her pale features. Pressing a hand to her swollen lips, she thought to herself with irritation, Great. That's just bloody great.
"That was some kiss you two just had, eh?" Blythe asked suggestively, elbowing Ginny rather painfully in the ribs as she did so.
The redhead clutched at the offending body part in pain. "I s'pose. Pass the marmalade, please, Liv."
Olivia picked up the marmalade, eyes passing over Ginny appraisingly before she did so. "You know, you could have let us in on the whole Malfoy thing before breakfast. We didn't have to find out with the rest of bloody Hogwarts."
Ginny had the grace to blush guiltily before accepting the jar. "I know, guys. I'm really sorry. But if I did tell you, your reactions wouldn't have been very authentic. 'Sides," she muttered, a mischievous gleam blooming in her brown eyes, "it was more fun this way."
Blythe snorted indignantly. "I resent that, but I suppose it was rather amusing," she said with a giggle, a smile growing on her olive-skinned features.
"You bet," the redhead replied with a grin.
"So what do you have to do?" Olivia asked sharply.
Ginny studied Olivia with confusion. "What do you mean?"
Olivia rolled her eyes at her friend's slow response. "I mean, Malfoy would never make it so easy as a handhold and a peck on the lips. This is Draco sodding Malfoy we're talking about! Since when has he even had a girlfriend? Besides, whenever he is amused with someone, it gets further than handholding fast."
Ginny's muffin felt dry in her throat. "Gods, I don't know, Liv. I didn't want to know, so I didn't ask. We just need to act this way around that bint Pansy, and in return, I've got a bodyguard. Speaking of which, was there anything in the dorm when you two left? Any creepy crawlies?"
Blythe shook her head in the negative. "Thank Merlin. I don't even want to think about what zoo escapee psycho-stalker is planning on putting up there next."
The girls shared a collective shudder.
Ginny yawned, reaching behind her to shoulder her purse. "Time for History of Magic," she announced flatly, in much the same voice one would use at midterms, driving tests, dull church services and beheadings.
"You never know," Blythe pressed optimistically, "maybe Binns will have suddenly realized he's dead today!"
"And what would that do, exactly?" Olivia asked dryly, getting up with the girls to walk toward the doors.
As Ginny was about to answer, a voice cut in for her. "It would make things more interesting, I'd wager," a voice drawled slowly, a voice that Ginny knew was completely unmistakable. Turning to the owner of the voice, she hissed, "In case you don't remember, eavesdropping is rude, Malf-"
Draco held up a slender pale finger to silence her. "You're hilarious, honey," he said through gritted teeth, nodding his head at all the crowds pushing past them on their way to classes, indicating that everyone was inevitably listening to every word Draco and Ginny were saying.
She smiled sweetly in response, but her eyes were blazing with annoyance. "No, you are, sweetcheeks."
Draco's face contorted in barely concealed irritation. "Sweetcheeks?"
She smirked, tossing a few strands of her red hair over her shoulder. "Have a good day," she announced, rocking up onto her tiptoes to kiss him soundly on his pale cheek. Ginny felt an overwhelming sense of vindication when she saw that her lip gloss had left a bright pink outline of lips on his cheek-- the only thing marring his otherwise perfect features.
He watched her go with obvious shock, mouth still hanging open (not altogether unattractively) in disbelief, fingers pressing numbly to the spot on his cheek where her warm lips had been so recently.
A voice called out to Draco as he slowly made his way down to the dungeons for his morning Potions lesson.
He turned toward the voice, only to see Pansy Parkinson making her way toward him down the hallway. He groaned inwardly, letting out a huge sigh. Fabulous. Pansy bloody Parkinson…I was just thinking how I hadn't had nearly enough sodding lunatics or village idiots accost me today.
"What do you want, Parkinson?" he drawled slowly, making sure his voice sounded as absolutely disinterested as was humanly possible.
The tone didn't have the desired effect; Pansy kept walking toward him as determinedly as she was before. "What the hell is going on?" she demanded, poking him in the chest with a slender forefinger.
His eyes ignited dangerously, travelling to the offending body part poking him directly between his ribs. Pansy quickly jerked her finger away as if it were burned, knowing for herself all too well the effects of Draco's temper when it was let loose on the nearest target.
Blushing and coughing slightly to clear her throat, Pansy muttered, "I mean, what's the deal with the Weasley?"
His features regressed to their usual placid mask. "I'm dating her. Is that all you wanted?"
Her pug nose wrinkled in obvious incomprehension. "Excuse me? A Malfoy is dating a Weasley? Am I the only one on this bloody campus who doesn't think the two of you have gone completely bleeding mad?"
Draco shrugged noncommittally, turning away from her to finish the walk down to the dungeon. "I don't know. Why don't you make a support group if it's that difficult of a concept for you, Parkinson?"
"Draco, what the hell happened to you? You're not acting like yourself at all!" she called loudly after him.
He whirled on her, eyes blazing with irritation. "Don't presume to know me, Parkinson," he said to her in a deathly whisper, his face near hers. "If you did know me, you would know I'm not interested in you in the slightest. I'm with Weasley; just fucking deal with it."
Ginny heaved a sigh, trudging through the Gryffindor Common Room to the girls' staircase after supper, the sun already beginning to set in the near window. Slowly, she began to climb the stairs, methodically counting steps in her head to soothe her fraying nerves. Please don't let the door be unlocked, please don't let something be in there, she thought to herself, terrified, continuing the climb up to the Sixth Year dorms.
The door was open.
She closed her eyes, leaning back against the wall. Taking deep breaths, she peered around the doorframe to try to see what might be in there. She wasn't going to get surprised like last time, no sir. Unable to see anything out of the ordinary from her current vantage point, she took a few deep, steadying breaths and walked inside. The room looked completely fine. But then-why was the door open?
Instinctually, her eyes travelled to her own bed. If the intruder had left any "parting gifts," undoubtedly he or she would have left them there.
At first, she couldn't see anything, just the beautiful crimson of her own bedcover.
Wait, what was that?
Camouflaged by the scarlet of the Gryffindor colors, blood had soaked into all of Ginny's bedclothes. The blood was surrounding something dead, something furry, but Ginny's heart was beating too rapidly, her hands shaking too furiously, for her to feel comfortable nearing her own bed.
She felt her lunch begin to stir unsteadily in her stomach. She felt like she might retch.
Instead, Ginny let out an agonizing scream, darting for the door.
She got all the way out of the Fat Lady's portrait before doubling over and wheezing. To her surprise, Draco stood across the hall and walked toward her with something that, on any other person, Ginny would have taken as concern in his frosty grey eyes.
"What happened?" he asked calmly, patting Ginny's back with sure strokes. She was sure he was doing it for the benefit of the passer-by, to keep the public under the impression that they were dating, but she didn't much care. She was grateful for the contact, regardless of the giver.
When she finally caught her breath, she looked up at Draco. He was stunned to see how pale she looked; she looked as if she'd just seen a banshee, for fuck's sake. Not to mention her eyes…were those tears in the corners?! What the hell happened to her? Ginny Weasley was nothing if not a strong pain in Draco's arse, and she certainly didn't cry.
"Blood," she whispered hoarsely. "So much blood."
Draco put one of Ginny's arms around his shoulder, supporting her weight with his. "Let's get you to McGonagall. Whoever doing this just went too far."
"Miss Weasley, I'm sorry I didn't pay proper attention to your grievance last week," Minerva McGonagall apologized grudgingly, passing Ginny and Draco the biscuit tin kept on her desk. "I would have paid more attention if I thought this…stalker was actually malicious in nature."
Draco's eyes widened from where he sat. "You didn't think a horde of bloody serpents was malicious?" he asked incredulously, hardly believing that the old hag had the nerve to offer Ginny a biscuit to soothe all the problems in her life at the moment.
"No, Mr Malfoy," McGonagall replied irritably, "I did not." She pushed her spectacles up her nose with finality. "So, Miss Weasley. We seem to be in a bit of a predicament, don't we?"
"That's one way to put it," Draco muttered.
The professor glanced at him with annoyance. "Remind me why you're here, Mr Malfoy?"
He looked back at her evenly. "If I wasn't passing through, she wouldn't have been taken here, would she?"
The older woman pressed on, undaunted. "Passing through, eh? Isn't Gryffindor Tower about…seven floors too high for you to just be 'in passing'?"
"Enough," Ginny said with finality, exhaling a nervous breath. "He helped me, and I'm grateful. I don't care why he was there. As to my problem, yes, 'predicament' is one way of putting it, Professor."
McGonagall smiled grimly. "Is there any way to know who had access to your dorm today, Miss Weasley?"
Ginny shrugged. "Could have been anyone, couldn't it? Everybody's always coming to the dorms between classes to get books. All of us have been making sure to lock up securely like you said, but still…everyone knows 'alohomora.'"
"You make a good point," the professor acknowledged, grim expression still plastered to her stern features.
"So, what now?" Draco asked impatiently.
McGonagall sighed. "If this terrorizing continues, Miss Weasley, we'll have to set up Dark Detectors or some mild wards."
"Wards?" Ginny asked curiously.
The professor nodded. "Ones that recognize you and your dorm-mates, of course, and perhaps other Gryffindors who most often visit you, but other than that, the room is off-limits to anyone else." Her voice trailed off a moment. "Separating students, not allowing peers into rooms," she murmured, allowing her voice to trail off. "Albus would be so upset…"
Draco cleared his throat loudly, interrupting the professor's reverie.
McGonagall's stern eyes met Ginny's, and she pronounced with finality, "Dark detectors first. We'll only use wards if the problem escalates to a level we can no longer control. Mr Malfoy, please ask Professor Snape for any Dark detectors he may have on hand. Preferably very loud ones, like a new Sneakoscope."
Draco nodded and quickly exited the office, allowing the door to slam behind him.
The professor raised her eyes to Ginny's again. "Good luck, Miss Weasley. If this happens again, please
come see me the moment it does."
Ginny trudged the long walk up to Gryffindor Tower with a heavy heart. The Sneakoscope from Draco was in the front pocket of her robes, thudding awkwardly against her leg, but she wouldn't be setting it up until tomorrow. I'm not re-entering that bleedin' place until it's basked in daylight, she thought to herself nervously. Ginny knew it was foolish; after all, she had stumbled upon all the blood in the daylight, too. But somehow every problem seems so much less terrifying come morning, and she was depending on that thought to have the courage to walk up to her dorm the next day.
She entered the Common Room absentmindedly, gathering a pillow from the couch and summoning a blanket from the dorm. Looks like it's sleeping on the floor for me again, she thought to herself irritably. But, to be honest, she didn't mind it so much. She would much rather sleep on the floor than sleep where something had bled to death. Later evening, Olivia would tell Ginny McGonagall's findings when she visited the room to see the sight for herself-- the animals who had died were a couple of Kneazles, something that really peeved Ginny to the core; Kneazles were one of her favourite animals. Whoever it was that was harassing her…they were starting to get personal. They weren't just trying to frighten her anymore; they were trying to shake her to the core.
Well, let them, she thought challengingly, fluffing a pillow and spreading a blanket on the floor of the Common Room by way of a makeshift bed. If I let them get personal, they'll eventually get cocky. Hopefully they'll come out of the shadows and leave a calling card.
And when they do, the redhead thought viciously, pummelling her pillow to vent her frustrations, I'll hex them into oblivion.
A/N: Reviews make me happy! And they're good for the soul, lol. Thank you all so much for your support for this story so far!