1. Playing Hooky by Clorinda
So she sent the new employee at Zonko's by Ginny way.
She was minding the place for an absentee Rosemerta gone to meet a lover one afternoon, playing a lonely game of Exploding Snap rather noisily. She sat unobtrusively at the back, clearly able to watch the entrance over all the empty tables. The second her head bent over, someone breezed in, wearing the loud, ludicrous uniform of Zonko's and calling out "Rosa!" as he entered.
Ginny jumped nine inches into the air in fright, simultaneously aiming a guilty Vanishing Spell at the cards.
Never mind Professor McGonagall's new favourite remark in the Transfiguration lessons: "Miss Weasley, how is it that while you have unfailingly been able to Vanish yourself from the scene of any crime, you show astonishingly little aptitude for Vanishing a teacup that doesn't even have legs to run away with?"
The result was a terrific BANG! — lots of thick smoke — and as the deck exploded, the cards multiplied, hanging in the air before plummeting straight towards the earth— and at Ginny.
"Merlin's underpants!" she screamed before she went under.
At the sound of the oath, the patron whipped around, finally alert to the existence of a thundercloud of cards raining out of thin air.
"What the—?" was his bemused exclamation. Then he noticed the person trapped in the downpour. "Oi, you!"
The sound of his voice triggered off a second explosion and Ginny disappeared under another mountain of cards. Alarmed, the patron made a heroic dash for her, leaping cleanly over a few tables and knocking over a few dozen chairs, and lunged forward, grabbed her by the flailing wrists and dragged her clear.
Dizzy and bemused and disoriented, Ginny stumbled out on shaky knees, falling into her brand new rescuer, and sending the both of them tumbling into a table. It gave away and with a crash of falling tables and knobbly joints ramming into hard concrete, the two of them fell to the floor.
They picked themselves up, making a show of brushing off their elbows and knees; Ginny peered at the patron for the first time. She took in the blond hair and the agate eyes, and swallowed, before pronouncing quietly,
She tried to see beyond those eyes, but he wouldn't meet her eye, but she tried to catch it anyway. When he found the nerve to return her gaze, he met her appraisal frankly, the two of them standing at the same height, eye to eye.
"Uhm," she said, remembered that he was supposed to be her "rescuer." "Ginny."
"Nice to meet you."
"So," He shifted his lean-built weight awkwardly, and cleared his throat a little. "So, that means we're — friends?"
Ginny rolled her eyes. "When two people meet each other and exchange necessary pleasantries and remember they've known each other for half their lives and want to know more, what else is it called, you twat?"
She eyed his fluorescent uniform. "No offence, buy what the hell are you doing here?"
He looked suitably abashed. "Sugar."
"Sorry? Was that an endearment , Malfoy?"
He flared a bright shade of scarlet. "Hell no! You do not resemble the top of buttered toast in the least, Weasley!"
"Say what? Now I'm confused."
Draco smirked, regaining some poise. "What a Philistine you are, Weasley … Brown sugar crystals sprinkled liberally with hot butter over crunchy toast is an excellent way to tease your appetite at breakfast."
Ginny didn't bother telling him that he sounded like a TV commercial; no doubt he wouldn't know what one was. Dragging out a nearby chair, she sat out and asked, "How'd you know what a Philistine is?"
All in all Draco definitely did not like her track record in making his dignified aristocratic face heat up.
"Bull," she interrupted. "You just blush a lot."
Mentally, he kicked himself for saying that one aloud.
"Boot yourself one more time, Draco."
Maybe he should just take her advice.
Gathering his dignity in a scrap heap of salvage, he coughed imperiously. "Anyway. I came here for a pot of sugar. It's tea time at Zonko's and we're all out. Marge said that Rosa might lend us some."
In quick succession, Ginny noted the familiarity with the opposite sex. Her eyes slitted.
"Marge?" she questioned softly.
"Adrenal virilism!" he yelled reflexively.
A facial muscle of his twitched. She tried to relax. Wow, he was good at this.
"Oh yeah, buster?"
"To you in your dreams."
He went red again. "Oh."
"Got it yet?" she asked patiently.
"That's she's your boss?"
"Mmm, that too."
"You mean other than the fact she's standing right behind me, Gin?"
And as Rosemerta tried to smother the uncontrollable bunching of her fists and the involuntary reaching for sharp pointy objects, Ginny wondered fleetingly how in one afternoon she had become close enough to tolerate being called "Gin" by the same boy she'd once tried drowning in the nasal discharge of a bat.
"Hi, Rosa," began Draco and her murderous glare intensified. The lights of battle that had dimmed slightly in Ginny's eye, flared up again. "Madam Rosemerta—" Draco tried again. "I was just here to bring bad news to Ginny from home. See it's her brother—"
"Which brother?" demanded Rosemerta at once, and Draco was stumped.
"Uh, Roonil?" he suggested weakly, remembering the name from the Potions textbook.
"Roonil," repeated Rosemerta with a snort.
"That's Ron's new nickname," supplied Ginny with a half-hearted grin.
"Yeah him. He tripped over a broomstick."
"I see," said Rosemerta in the same sceptical tone.
"Yeah," said Draco, getting into the heat of the story. "Clumsy oaf — didn't see it hovering before him—"
"And tripped over it?"
"Yeah, yeah— badly injured."
Ginny was glaring daggers at him from the chair.
"She really needs to go see him— he's asking for his baby sister." Don't lay it too thick, though , his mind warned home. Ginny might effectively never want to see you ever again .
"I beg your pardon?" said Rosemerta frostily.
Oops, he'd done it again. Draco cringed. The appropriate word was probably: incorrigible.
Ginny was looking at him oddly.
No way! He'd made the same mistake in twice two seconds flat.
"Draco Malfoy, will you please stop having a conversation with yourself long enough to take Ginny home— preferably before Ron Weasley dies of his injuries?"
Ginny's eyes were stretched so wide they could have popped out. Rosemerta was buying it? She suddenly felt very ashamed of her boss.
"I'll be going with Malfoy now," she said in a voice that adequately conveyed her abject disappointment.
Rosemerta patted her shoulder in a motherly fashion. "Now, now, Ginny, Ron's not worth getting so depressed over."
Ginny brightened up at once, her confidence in her boss restored.
"Thanks Rosa," said Draco, flashing a diplomatic smile. "I'm glad you understand so well." He put both hands firmly on Ginny's shoulders and began to steer her out the door. The fleeting glance she sent him was only intercepted by his incredibly appealing grin, like they were two mischief-makers about to be caught red-handed together. He remembered to pause in the doorway just once. "Oh, and Rosa—? Would you mind taking a pot of sugar to Zonko's?"
And unable to stifle her own giggles, Ginny grabbed him by the hand and dragged him out of the Three Broomsticks before she could give them away. The second they were outside, they broke into a wild, guilty run, laughing helplessly all the way up the street and out of earshot.
They didn't stop until they ran past the shop windows and slowed down, walking past a row of small cottages. Ginny turned suddenly and looked at Draco, saying aloud speculatively, "You do realize you'll have a lot of awkward explaining to do to Roonil after this?"
Draco stared at her in mock-hurt. "Oh come on! Aren't you even secretly flattered by all the effort and mortification I went through for you?"
Ginny laughed, flinging back her head, and her flying red hair caught the sunlight, seeming to sparkle with studded diamonds. He realized her rather liked the sound of her laughter.