Ch. 1- "Ginny"
Notes: This fic will probably be kind of long... bear with me if there are lapses between chapters, as I do have a career that exhausts/frustrates me quite often. I have never written HP fanfiction before, either, so sorry if I do the characters OOC or something.. ok, scratch that, there will be OOCness. This IS a slash fic, after all. =p And I think this is my first non-anime fanfic, too... o_O scary...
Thanks to Mami-san for beta-ing the fic- goddess knows I'm too damn lazy to spellcheck my own junk. @_@
I got the title frum the song of the same name from "Fushigi Yuugi"- it's Soi's song, I believe.
Warning: This is a Draco/Harry SLASH fic. Don't like that, bugger off. -_- And for those of you who despise Draco, I understand.. ^.^; He IS quite the shithead... but I can't help but like this couple. Also, if you haven't read all 4 current HP books, this fic will most likely contain spoilers. You've been forwarned.
"The Christmas Ball, Harry," Hermione repeated, exasperated. She peered at him over the top of the enormous, dusty volume she had lugged from the library to the Gryffindor common room. "Where have *you* been all week?"
Harry pushed his glasses further up his nose, lowering his wand to frown at her. "Quidditch practice. I heard someone say something about a Ball, but I thought they were joking." He looked towards Neville, who had been the one to mention it. "Hogwarts is having another Ball?"
"Yeah," Neville was retrieving his toad from the fireplace mantle. "Since the Yule Ball was such a hit two years ago."
Ron offered his best friend a pained look from where he was seated on the floor across from him, papers from Transfiguration spread between them. His grip on the candle they were supposed to be turning into a pencil tightened. The two boys' memories of the last Ball were not so pleasant. "Not another crummy Ball," he groaned. "The last one was torture!"
"It wasn't so bad," Hermione said, and Ron shot her a Look. She quickly ducked behind her book, dropping the matter. Ron had still never quite forgiven her for going to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum their fourth year, and Harry thought he knew why. He was tactful enough, however, to keep his suspicions to himself.
"Are the other schools coming to this one?" he asked instead, homework forgotten.
Lavender tittered from where she was writing a letter to her family by the window. Turning sixteen did not seem to have helped her mature much, Harry noted dryly. "No, silly. This is just for Hogwarts. A Christmas Ball for anyone that wants to stay here for the holidays."
Harry glanced towards the calendar by the fireplace. "But it's October," he exclaimed. "Why did they pull this on us so suddenly?"
Hermione couldn't resist lowering her book to offer her friend a tolerant look. "Harry, they sent a letter by owl out in the summer that it was a possibility. It just wasn't final until this week."
Harry shook his head. "If it came to Uncle Vernon's, he would have burned it anyway."
"And we were at the beach," Ron pointed out, "for the last two weeks of summer- me and Harry. It might've come then." He looked towards Harry. "Though I heard about it a couple months ago."
"Honestly," Hermione said a little huffily, "you get so engrossed with that silly game that you don't notice a lot of things going on around you, Harry."
"Quidditch isn't silly," Ron started to say hotly, but just then the portrait door swung open and Ginny hurried in, looking close to tears.
"What's wrong with you?" Ron demanded as she dashed through the common room, face red with the effort to keep herself under control. "Hey!"
But she was already up the stairs, and in another moment the door to the girls' quarters slammed shut. Hermione set her book aside and offered Ron a meaningful look. "I'll go check up on her. I hope she's ok." She hurried upstairs after the younger girl.
Ron turned to Harry and shrugged helplessly. Harry shook his head as if to say "girls".
"So when is this Ball?" Harry asked, a little reluctantly.
"December sixteenth," Lavender said promptly.
"Are you going to ask Cho again?" Ron leaned over to whisper.
Harry felt his face heat up. "I don't even want to go to the stupid dance," he grumbled, looking quickly back to his homework. "Come on, we have to turn this in on Monday."
Suddenly Parvati came rushing in through the portrait door, her face as red as Ginny's had been, except hers was pinched with anger. "Oohh that Draco Malfoy!" she exploded the minute she was inside. She looked around quickly. "Where's Ginny?"
Ron pointed over his shoulder. "Just went running into the girls' quarters, looking like she was gonna cry a river. What did that git do this time?" His eyes narrowed as he set the candle aside, rising to his feet. "Did he do something to her?"
Parvati stomped her foot, looking ready to blow steam. "That- that TOAD," she sputtered. "I hope he.. he... Ohhh!" Unable to think of a curse bad enough, she gestured jerkily to Lavender and stomped upstairs to find Ginny. Lavender set her quill and parchment aside and hurried after her, eager to learn what was going on.
"No fair," Ron cried, throwing his arms up in the air in exasperation. "Why do the girls get to find out first? She's MY bloody sister!"
Harry picked up the candle that Ron had dropped. "Well if it has anything to do with Malfoy," he said darkly, "I think we'd be happier not knowing."
Neville nodded his heartfelt agreement, and Ron crossed his arms huffily over his chest. "I'll find out sooner or later," he said grumpily. "Malfoy will be spreading it all over the school soon enough... whatever it is."
The dinner bell rang, and Harry rose with a sigh. "Come on. Let's go eat. Hermione will tell us when she catches up."
The two friends walked out together.
In two years Draco had finally hit the growth spurt that had happened to many of the other boys in their fourth year. He was a good three inches taller than he had been at fourteen, lithe-limbed and slender from Quidditch. His bratty snideness had evolved into a sharper, more dangerous wit, and it was rumored he had taken some kind of fighting classes during the summer; it seemed he had taken personal offense to someone's comment that Crabbe and Goyle were his self-appointed 'bodyguards', and was going to prove that he could look after himself quite efficiently. His hair was not slicked back so firmly as he had worn it before, but rather simply combed neatly back with his bangs falling loose to cover his brow. Some of the longer locks drifted around his eyes. The back he had allowed to grow to just a few inches above his collar.
However, some things didn't seem to have changed at all. His pale eyes were as cold and mocking as ever, and his nastiness towards anyone who was not a Slytherin was as constant as the turn of the seasons. He was still Snape's personal favorite, and Potions continued to be his best subject. It was whispered that his father was teaching him certain things over the summer, preparing him to become a Death Eater. If Dumbledore heard these rumors, he certainly did not seem overly concerned by them. He did not kick Draco out, and he did not at any time pull him aside to try and convince him not to walk his father's path. He trusted all his students to think for themselves and make the correct decisions in life. Hopefully, students and teachers alike murmured, this belief would not backfire on him in the future... especially with Voldemort revived and strengthening day by day.
As Draco strode through the halls of Hogwarts that Sunday as if he owned them, his faithful followers Crabbe and Goyle- who seemed bulkier than ever -alongside him, students quickly scurried out of their way, averting their gazes. His eyes were dancing with cruel mirth, his mouth upturned in a smirk. He was in a good mood, and everyone wanted to keep him that way. When Draco was mad, he tended to take it out on the nearest person. In fact, he looked as if he had just finished teasing someone, by the way his lackeys were chuckling thickly and by the malicious glint to his pale eyes.
The trio joined the flow of students that were headed towards the Great Hall, and almost ran into a pair of Gryffindors trying to squeeze through the doors beside them. Emerald eyes flashed in annoyed recognition, and Draco's smile widened as he came to a halt, blocking his years'-old enemy's way. "Well if it isn't Potter," he drawled, "and his weasel friend." Crabbe and Goyle snickered.
Ron glared daggers at the other boy. "Shove off, Malfoy," he snapped. He was easily as tall as his pale schoolmate, and not intimidated by the bully.
"Get out of the way," Harry added, a good two inches shorter than the Slytherin. He had never been afraid of Draco, however, and he wasn't about to start now. He glared up at the smirking boy as students pushed around them to get into the Great Hall, some of them glancing over with mild interest, perhaps wondering if there would be another duel between the two.
Draco opened his mouth to offer his opinon on the two Gryffindors.
Someone bumped into Harry from behind rather suddenly, and he stumbled forward, caught off guard. "Hey-!"
He ran smack into Draco.
Draco stopped grinning.
"Get off me," he snarled immediately, scowling darkly as he pushed the shorter boy back roughly.
"It was an accident," Harry said hotly, throwing an angry glance over his shoulder to find whoever had been so rude as to knock him practically into his foe's arms.
"Oh- sorry, Harry!" Cho Chang was looking a little embarrassed as she paused at the doorway. "It's so crowded... I didn't mean to bump into you."
Harry's anger melted away, and the room began to feel uncomfortably warm. "Ah, that's ok," he said quickly. "Don't worry about it."
Cho smiled in fleeting apology before hurrying to catch up with her friends. Harry watched her go.
Ron elbowed him sharply in the ribs to get his attention, and he winced painfully, turning his attention quickly back to the problem at hand. It wouldn't do to give Draco more ammunition- if he'd caught Harry staring at the older girl...
But the boy was too busy scowling at him. "I'm going to have to wash this shirt now, you know," he said scornfully. "Now that it's got your grimy germs all over it."
Ron looked as if he'd like to say something his mother would have gasped at, so Harry chose the more intelligent route and seized his friend by his arm, dragging him towards the Hall. "Wash yourself while you're at it," he shot over his shoulder before hissing, "Calm down, Ron."
Ron muttered something rude about Draco, but he didn't struggle as his friend steered him towards the Gryffindor table. The two boys took a seat and began to dig in on the good fare. Shortly thereafter, Hermione slid into a spot beside Harry, mouth a tight line.
Ron lowered his fork immediately. "So what's up? What did Malfoy do this time?"
Hermione reached for her goblet, scowling darkly. "That stupid git... He started teasing her about her crush on Harry in front of a whole hallway full of Slytherins. They were all laughing at her and jeering at her. Ooh, that Malfoy..!"
Ron looked ready to jab something with his fork. "Doesn't he know when to quit?? Why's he got to tease her like that?"
"She gets embarassed easily," Hermione sighed, digging into her pork. "He loves picking on the shy people- they don't fight back."
"He's a coward," Harry said with a frown. "Just a little weasel. Ron, can't you tell Ginny to stick up for herself?"
"I have!" Ron exclaimed, stabbing his pork. "She's always been shy. It's like she'll never grow out of being a wuss. Makes Mom worry." He chomped on his meat. "I'm going to have a little 'talk' with Malfoy after dinner."
"I'll go with you," Harry offered as Hermione opened her mouth to protest.
Hermione hesitated. She knew Harry would keep their friend from doing anything too rash- say, punching Malfoy right in his smirking face -but everyone knew what happened to students who went against Malfoy. "You can't," she said finally. "You know he'll find a way to humiliate you, too, Ron."
"I'm not afraid of him," Ron snapped.
"I didn't say you were," Hermione said patiently. "But if you get on his nerves, he'll figure out some way to get back at you. He might even send those two bodyguards of his after you."
"Hey, you can stand back and be a *girl* about this," Ron said snidely, "or you can butt out. I'm sick of him picking on Ginny."
Hermione bristled. "What is that supposed to mean?" she demanded shrilly.
"Knock it off, you two," Harry cut in. He happened to glance up and noticed a boy entering the hall. "Look," he hissed to get his friends' attention. "It's Kyle."
The other two looked towards the door.
"That boy," Hermione said quietly as she watched him stride towards the Slytherin table, "really creeps me out sometimes."
Ron nodded in silent agreement, arguement temporarily forgotten.
The boy who had just entered was tall and willowy, with long legs and elegant hands. He was even paler than Malfoy- a sharp contrast to the wild shock of dark hair tied back in a short ponytail. His ragged bangs hung low in his face, almost hiding his hooded eyes. He was quiet and mysterious, and all the Slytherin girls were quite taken with him. Even girls from the other Houses were known to goggle at him on occassion. He was a good-looking sixth year who had appeared out of nowhere- something about a transfer.
"I wonder if he comes from a family of Death Eaters," Ron mused, nibbling the prongs of his fork as he watched the other boy seat himself across the room.
"Why would you think that?" Hermione asked.
"I dunno," Ron shrugged. "Just kinda seems the type. Dark, pale, weird... and he always looks like he's looking at you like a bug when he talks at you."
"You're paranoid," Hermione said, but without much force.
Harry frowned slightly. "I don't think he's so weird," he admitted. "Just a little antisocial."
"Oh?" Ron leaned towards him. "I saw him and Malfoy chummin' it up in the hall the other day. Talkin' together alone, relaxed as you please. Makin' friends with the wrong sort, he is. *And* he's a Slytherin." He gave both his friends a meaningful look. "And you know what they say about Slytherins."
"Yes, Ron, we know," Harry sighed. A lot of dark wizards had been part of the Slytherin House in their youth. "But that doesn't mean every student in the Slytherin House is in the Voldemort fanclub."
Both Ron and Hermione flinched a little at his blatant use of the enemy's name, though they had heard him use it enough that it didn't totally shock them anymore.
"Still," Ron said after a moment, "I don't fancy meeting him in a dark alleyway."
Hermione nodded in silent if reluctant agreement. Harry glanced towards the Slytherin table, and said nothing.
"There he is."
Harry turned at Ron's whisper. Draco was walking towards them- alone, for once -down the darkened hall, face hidden in shadow. Ron edged a little closer to the column he and Harry were hiding behind, looking nervously eager. "Wait 'til he gets closer," he murmured.
Harry nodded silently and watched the Slytherin approach. It was close to curfew, and there were few students left in the halls. They had been lucky to catch Malfoy out at all. But as Harry watched the boy walk, he couldn't help but think the other boy looked a lot less arrogant and imperious when he was alone. His hands were shoved in the pockets of his robes, his head lowered as he stared pensively at the ground. His usual smirk was gone, replaced with a faint frown, as if he was deep in thought.
Ron beckoned to Harry, who reluctantly followed as his friend stepped right into the middle of the hall, blocking Malfoy's path.
Draco stopped abruptly, lifting his head with a flicker of annoyance before he recognized the two boys before him. Immediately his thoughtful look disappeared, replaced with a sneer, lips curling in derision. "So the weasel comes for revenge," he said mockingly. "Well, Weasley? What do you want?"
"You know what I want," Ron snapped, hands balling into fists as he glared heatedly at the pale boy. "I want you to lay off my sister. You quit teasing her, or I'll-"
"You'll what?" Draco interrupted, eyes suddenly sparking with challenge.
"Leave Ginny alone," Harry said from beside his friend. "She never did anything to you."
Draco flicked his fingers in a careless gesture, tone dismissive as he glanced sideways at Ron. "She's a Weasley. That's reason enough."
Ron's face turned red with anger. "You," he sputtered, "you wormy little snake!" His voice rose. "You stay the hell away from Ginny or I'll mash your smirking face into the dirt!" He took a threatening step forward.
"I'd like to see you try," Draco shot back, holding his ground. Harry raised his eyebrows a little. In the past Malfoy had been the type to shy back from direct confrontation, more accustomed to using his sharp tongue to get his way. The rumors that he had been taking fighting classes might be true, then. Or maybe he had finally just acquired a backbone.
Or maybe both.
Ron looked ready to get into a fist fight right then and there, but he checked himself with an effort. He took a deep breath to calm himself. "You just stay away from Ginny," he snarled. "Or you'll regret it. I mean it."
"I'm so scared," Draco said drolly, looking unimpressed.
Harry's temper flared. He jabbed a finger in the other boy's direction. "I'd like to see *you* get picked on for once, Malfoy," he said angrily. "I wish those stupid pals of yours would realize what an empty-headed git you are and make you feel like dirt." His eyes narrowed. "I can't wait until the day someone comes along and treats you like lowlife. Then you'd know how it felt."
Something in Malfoy's eyes flashed, and his mouth tightened suddenly.
Harry blinked. He realized he'd struck a nerve, and wondered at it.
Ron was already bulling on, blind to the subtle change of expression on Malfoy's face. "I can't wait, either. I'll be there to laugh at you with everyone else."
Draco's eyes narrowed dangerously.
"Last warning, Malfoy," Ron said quietly. "Back off of Ginny, or I'm coming after you."
"Is that a threat?" Draco growled from behind clenched teeth.
"It's a promise," Harry snapped, annoyed at the other's constant reel of come-backs. He touched Ron's arm. "Come on. Let's go."
Ron nodded, still glaring at Malfoy before turning slowly to follow his friend.
"Watch your back, Weasley."
They both paused at the quiet, warning tone, and glanced back.
Draco's face was hidden mostly in shadows, save for one gleaming eye that glared daggers at them both. Harry felt a chill despite himself.
"Watch your back," Draco repeated quietly.
Ron rolled his eyes and turned his back dismissively. "Come on, Harry," he said briskly. "Let's go- I'm sick of looking at him."
"I know your secret," Malfoy called after them suddenly, his tone mocking and triumphant. "And soon everyone else will, too, Weasley."
Harry kept walking, ignoring him. What a shameless git. What was he talking about, anyway? He suddenly realized he was alone and turned in surprise to see Ron had come to a dead halt, frozen mid-step behind him. His face had gone pale, and he was staring straight ahead with a look of disbelief.
Malfoy's lips curved in an unpleasant smile. "Pleasant dreams," he murmured before turning into a side passage and striding off.
"Ron?" Harry walked back to his friend and shook him by his shoulders a little. "Snap out of it! What's wrong?"
Ron blinked, his eyes focusing on Harry. He looked almost..scared. "Ah- nothing," he said quickly. He shook Harry off of him, avoiding his friend's worried look as he hurried onwards towards the Gryffindor tower. "It's nothing."
Harry ran to catch up, confused, but held his tongue.
Whatever it was, surely Ron would tell him later.
Back to Amiko's fics
Chapter 12 + Epilogue