The Redhead's Revenge
Wearily, Ginny slumped against the wall inside the castle courtyard. “What am I going to do?”
Colin took a seat next to her and draped a comforting arm around her as she leaned against his shoulder. “Well, you could start by explaining just when Draco decided he was in love with you. Not that it wasn’t obvious, but I never thought Draco would be terribly forthcoming with that type of information.”
“I don’t think he meant to say it,” she explained. “It just happened to come out of his mouth at the most absurd moment.”
Colin raised his eyebrows in question.
“We were arguing.”
“How unromantic,” Colin commented. “In that case, you are completely right in putting that photograph into circulation. I’d do the same if I were in your position.”
Ginny was not amused by his facetiousness.
“Alright, I know you didn’t do it. But Draco thinks you did and the bloke still insists he’s in love with you. Though, it seems that he has a little trouble saying it under the right circumstances. Or maybe the only way Malfoys can express their love is through anger.” He gave Ginny a wry grin, which was met with a glare. “In that case you two are perfect for each other.”
“You’re being very unhelpful,” Ginny grumbled.
“Well, to be fair, Draco isn’t the only one whose reputation has been mutilated because of your outrageous need for secrecy.”
“I was going to apologize for that,” Ginny shot back with a guilty grin.
“No need. After all, I did steal your boyfriend.” Colin winked at her dismissing the entire comical incident.
“Ron was furious about that, by the way. Thankfully, he was too happy about that photo to make any attempt to take it out on you, but he swore he would hurt Blaise for breaking my heart." She rolled her eyes at her brother's over-protectiveness. "Of course, if he does anything to Blaise, I'll hex him for it. Then again, I may hex Ron anyway because he's about due one."
Colin chuckled and sighed. Then he looked at her sincerely. "What about Draco? You are going to need to do something about him. Even if he is claiming that he doesn't care that the photo is out, sooner or later he's going to become lucid again and will probably have a conniption. The whole school is talking about him and you know how much he detests being considered a joke."
"I know. The most ridiculous thing of it is, before all this photo nonsense happened today, I was going to tell Draco that..." she found she couldn't quite voice her thoughts.
"That you love him." Colin finished for her. He said it so easily that it made her feel inept for being incapable of saying the four letter word out loud.
“How bad is it out there?” Draco asked Blaise as he entered their room.
It was a half hour until dinner and Draco was seriously considering nicking food from the kitchens and staying in his room until the winter holiday. He had ventured out for a short time and came across a group of first years who were stupid enough to mock him in his presence. He had sent at least four students to Madam Pomfrey with the Mouth-melting hex and would probably do well not to send any more. Draco had forgotten just how much he hated to be laughed at.
“When I said it was social suicide I was being too kind,” Blaise answered. “But! There is good news.”
“Oh?” Draco asked half-heartedly.
“Instead of talking about me and Colin, everyone is talking about you and Crabbe.”
Draco glowered at his friend’s version of good news.
“I didn’t say the good news applied to you,” Blaise snickered. While he wanted to feel sympathetic toward Draco, he couldn’t deny his fellow Slytherin had brought it all upon himself. “By the way, you’ve got Goyle awfully upset with Crabbe. They’ve been arguing all day.”
“A pity, I’m sure. But, much as the image disgusts me, Crabbe and Goyle will kiss and make up soon enough. The photo is a fake and once he accepts that it will be fine,” Draco grumbled.
Blaise bit down on his lip and avoided his friend’s gaze. “Of course.”
Draco got the distinct feeling that Blaise was withholding information, but chose not to pursue the subject as there were heavier matters on his mind. When he had been feverishly devising a plan to make Ginny see her real feelings for him, he hadn't allowed himself to stop for a moment and think what would happen if he was wrong. Even when Blaise had made a weak attempt at pointing out the obvious major uncontrolled factor in his plan, that being Ginny Weasley, he failed to allow himself to focus on anything but a positive outcome. Now he was waiting. And the only thing he could do while waiting was think. He had played so many 'what if' situations in his head he was beginning to see how monumentally flawed his plot was.
Was it possible he had completely misjudged her feelings? What if she saw right through his scheming? Would she see that he was serious? What if she didn't want him to stick around? What if she really didn't love him?
He was beginning to drive himself mad with the possibilities. Forced with the choice of sitting in his room with his thoughts or going to the Great Hall where he would deal with the ever-grating laughter at his expense, he decided he preferred the latter.
The Great Hall was abuzz with conversation and laughter, much as it was every Sunday evening at dinner. Ginny entered the Hall knowing exactly what the topic of the night was and dreaded trying to consume a meal amid all the talk. Her appetite further deteriorated when she walked past Ron as he told a bench load of third years that he’d known Draco was a ponce from the very beginning.
“Oh, you did not,” she said irritably, disbelieving what she was hearing.
“Did so,” he replied, barely glancing at her as she passed. Then he returned his attention to his listeners. “I always thought Goyle was more his type though.”
He laughed heartily with his audience. It grated on Ginny’s final nerve. She’d kept herself in check all day while trying to find a reasonable solution to the Draco dilemma and she was beyond weary of all the malicious jabs at her boyfriend. She suddenly understood why Draco had hexed his entire Quidditch team on her behalf.
“Shut it, Ron,” she warned.
“Aw, Gin, I’m just having a little fun.” This time Ron saw a spark of her temper in her eyes and didn’t dismiss her presence so easily. “Alright, I know that you’re still upset over Blaise mooning over Colin and I’ll take care of him as soon as I spot the poofter. Okay? Just quit being so bloody moody.”
“First of all, Ronald, I will be moody if I damned well please. And,” Ginny stood bracing her arms against the table and grit out the rest of her tirade, "if you try to blame it on a monthly cycle while I’m still within hearing distance again you’ll find your share of the infamous Weasley reproductive abilities missing. Second of all, if you do anything to Blaise you’ll find yourself at the wrong end of a Bat-bogey hex and third of all, you wouldn’t know someone was gay even if he bit your todger off.”
As they started arguing, a silence rippled through the Great Hall. It seemed everyone wanted to listen in on the verbal duel between siblings. Draco was grateful to enter the Great Hall unnoticed.
Ron stared at his sister feeling dumbfounded for a moment before his own temper kicked into high gear. “As if you were so well informed on how to spot a woofter in a ten foot radius! You’re the one who has two gay ex-boyfriends.”
“Who are now dating each other,” added someone from the Slytherin table. “Coincidence? I think not!” Laughter erupted in Great Hall.
Ginny set her jaw and glared in the general vicinity of the Slytherin section. She would have seriously considered throwing a jinx at the entire table if it weren’t for the fact that she would have easily been caught. She still hadn’t spotted Draco, who had chosen to keep a distance from his house mates for the time being.
“That must mean Longbottom and Corner are secret lovers,” shouted someone from the Hufflepuff table followed by another round of laughter.
“Hey, I resent that!” Michael Corner grumbled loud enough for those surrounding him to hear.
“Me too!” added Neville.
Ginny’s jaw dropped at the suggestion that two more of her ex-boyfriends had been lumped into the category of likely-to-be-gay. Her fury with her brother for bringing it up only intensified with the open dialogue of her dating history.
“She probably slept with Crabbe and Malfoy, too.” Pansy Parkinson stood up and sneered openly at the redhead. “She’s taking out the male Slytherin population one at a time. Better watch out, boys, or you’ll be next,” she said glancing around her house table with a fierce look of warning.
Draco noticed the red tint of anger in Ginny’s complexion grow deeper with each comment. He’d never realized how brutal the gossip chain could be. He had expected his character to be questioned, but only yesterday Ginny had been considered a victim in it all.
“My sister would never date, let alone sleep with anyone as filthy as Malfoy!” Ron yelled, wholly disgusted by the idea. “If anyone has questionable bed partners, you’d better look in the mirror that you probably have mounted above your bed, Parkinson!”
While her brother’s remark about Pansy was almost redeeming, he had just completely insulted her boyfriend and her taste in men. It was the last straw.
“Don’t tell me you believe you’re sweet little sister is that innocent,” Pansy fired back.
“Enough!” Ginny yelled as she climbed onto the Ravenclaw table. A few faculty members had wandered in during the school discussion, but none seemed to be willing to do anything to stop it. Ginny had seen Dumbledore gesture subtly to the professors in attendance indicating they should allow the scene to play out. She sensed it was her job to end it and took it upon herself to do so.
The Hall quieted in response to Ginny’s exasperated cry and dutifully turned their attention to her.
“Obviously, there are some major misconceptions about my personal life, which need to be cleared up,” she snapped. “But since we’re all so open to publicly discussing relationships and the like, let’s make sure we’re all up to speed on the latest school gossip, shall we?” Ginny felt justifiably vindictive. “As far as I’m aware, Pansy Parkinson has slept with everyone in Slytherin and she secretly enjoys being lusted after by Millicent Bulstrode.”
“That is entirely untrue!” Pansy screamed out indignantly. Millicent grinned mischievously.
“Seamus is dating Parvati in hopes of talking her and her sister into a threesome,” Ginny continued.
Parvati elbowed her boyfriend in the gut and crossed her arms in a gesture that clearly showed she was not happy with him.
“I never said that!” Seamus squeaked in pain.
“There’s also the Hufflepuff seventh year girls who have traded certain favors with a select group of Ravenclaw boys in order to get the answers for their NEWT level classes.”
Instantly a wave of angry chatter rose from the Hufflepuff table insisting that Ginny’s statement was false.
She raised her voice to talk over them. “I’ve also heard Marietta Edgecombe is known to cause impotency. And that Zacharias Smith pretends he’s a virgin to get girls to sleep with him.”
Ginny listed every rumor she’d ever heard until there was barely a soul left in the Great Hall who hadn't been connected in one way or another as the subject of some horrendous piece of gossip. The crowd grew quieter with every rumor that Ginny brought to public attention as so very few of them could claim innocence in the offense of circulating bad information.
When she was finished with her rant, she noted the subdued faces of her schoolmates. She had single-handedly managed to make everyone in the room feel wretched. Her pathetic need for revenge had been taken too far this time.
She spoke again, her tone gentler and full of regret. "Look, I... I can't claim to be any less innocent than everyone else here. It would seem that we are all equally terrible and probably need to take greater care in what we say about people. Obviously, not everything that you hear is true..." she trailed off.
Ginny lowered her eyes to the floor feeling full of shame for unleashing her temper, however warranted it may have been, toward her classmates. As her eyes caught sight of one of the discarded Malfoy/Crabbe photos, she felt the need to atone for her behavior.
"In fact," she continued, "I think it's time that some things are set straight."
She noted a minor adjustment in the tension she had felt in the room.
"I'd like to start by saying that, charming as he is, I have never dated Blaise Zabini; therefore he's never actually cheated on or left me. Colin Creevey is the only ex-boyfriend of mine who is gay," she said, then glanced over to Michael Corner and added, "As far as I'm aware, anyway." She couldn't help the small smirk that crossed her lips as Michael glared at her in disbelief.
Flicking her wand at one of the Malfoy/Crabbe photos, she retrieved it from the bench below and then looked to Harry almost apologetically. But as she moved her gaze to her brother, Ron, she felt a renewed sense of confidence in what she was about to say. Ron had crossed her one too many times that day and she would be lying if she didn't admit that she was a little glad he was going to be disappointed if not downright depressed about her next comment.
Ginny flipped the photo around in order for everyone to see. "This photograph is a hoax. Colin and I created it as a joke and it got out of hand. I... I never meant..." Her voice caught in her throat as her emotions suddenly got the better of her. The reality of her mistakes came crashing down on her like a ton of bricks. She paused for a moment in order to regain her composure. "I never meant for anyone to get hurt by my actions. So I'd like to publicly and sincerely apologize to both Vincent Crabbe and Draco Malfoy for any... any distress that I have caused." As she spoke, she ignored the scowls of disappointment and focused on scanning the crowd for the two intended recipients of her apology. Though she could not find Draco in the sea of faces, she did note Crabbe had provided her with what appeared to be a forgiving smile as Goyle smothered him in a relieved embrace. There was no denying that Crabbe and Goyle belonged together and she was happy (yet slightly revolted) that she was able to bring them back to each other.
Feeling oddly inspired, Ginny decided that the very next thing she was going to do was find Draco and tell him what a stubborn idiot she was being. She was going to ask him to forgive her stupidity and cowardice and do anything she could to make him see she was fully committed to their relationship, despite the secrecy that insured his life. As she moved to do just that, Ron decided to express his dismay.
"Aww, Gin, why did you have to go an ruin all the fun? It was only Malfoy, after all."
Ginny jerked her head toward him and provided a look that was so dangerous, Ron took a full step back in an attempt to avoid the full effect of the anger projected through her eyes. He immediately regretted opening his mouth and was so sure he was about to be hexed he reached for his wand and nervously prepared to defend himself. He'd seen the look before and the results never bode well for her target.
There were many levels of Ginny's temper that Ron had been subjected to, including the level where she felt it necessary to use her wand, but that was rare and she had to be angry beyond words in order to reach that level. He discovered there was a level above hexing anger. She never pulled her wand, but Ron would have preferred to have suffered one of her spider hexes over what she decided to do instead.
As she was staring her brother down, Ginny caught sight of a familiar flash of platinum blond as Draco made his way to the front row of the gathering of students. Breaking her focus from her brother, she stepped down from the table, grabbed the blond by his Slytherin green tie and pulled him to the spot she had previously been using as her soapbox. Draco had been too stunned to make any attempt at resisting and simply allowed her to position him next to her. Noting Ginny's new companion on the tabletop, the student body quieted their chatter and began whispering rampantly amongst themselves.
"In case anyone is requiring proof above my word that the photographs fake, I'd like to submit to you another piece of evidence that shows Draco is not gay." She shot a burning look directly at her brother while stressing the word not as if she were trying to ingrain it permanently into his brain that he was never to refer to Draco Malfoy as a woofter, ponce, or nancy-boy ever again and to ensure that Ron got a clear picture, Ginny turned to Draco and kissed him fully on the lips.
Getting the point immediately, Ron averted his eyes and kept his mouth shut in order to prevent himself from spewing all over the floor.
Draco, on the other hand, took complete advantage of the situation and did not allow Ginny to pull away as quickly as she had initially intended. He wrapped his arms around her and soaked in every delicious moment of their public snogging. He took great pleasure in the echoing gasps of shock from their audience and was almost tempted to allow his hands to roam toward her bum to give it a quick squeeze in order to get an even better shocked reaction from the crowd, however, Draco thought it in his best interest to behave himself for the moment. He released his girlfriend and graced the audience with his trademark smirk.
Ginny grinned contentedly to herself as she stepped down from the table leaving her boyfriend behind to briefly be revered by his fellow Slytherin for his moment of glory. She left the Great Hall just as Pansy took center stage for herself in an attempt to follow Ginny's example in dispelling the rumors that were going around about her. Since everyone was still talking about the kiss they had all just witnessed, it seemed that Pansy's efforts would be in vain.
"This is getting ridiculous!" Blaise threw his hands up in frustration as he made his usual dramatic entrance into the Tower. He'd just returned from his last detention he'd earned from the scene he'd made at the Quidditch match.
"That's nothing new," Colin snorted. He'd known almost since the very beginning that the two were meant for each other. "Of course, she isn't outright denying it either. I think she's having too much fun being dubious about the whole thing."
"Not to mention it must be so much easier to say nothing than to have to come up with an explanation," Blaise added. "Do you suppose that would work for me? If I just stopped talking and let everyone else talk about it amongst themselves?"
Colin closed his books and leered at his companion. "I think it might. Talking is overrated anyway."
"Indeed." Blaise caught the subtle hint and gave Colin a simpering look as he leaned in to show him exactly how overrated talk was.
Ginny found herself to be perfectly content with her new rule of saying little to nothing when it came to the subject of Draco Malfoy. Saying nothing and leaving everyone to their own devices had made life considerably less complicated. After the incident in the Great Hall, Draco seemed to be convinced that all was well and didn't appear to hold any grudge against her for the photo leak. In fact, for the most part, Draco never really broached the subject again.
Ron never brought it up again either, though Ginny was sure it was for an entirely different reason. Hermione thought it had been a noble effort to put a stop to all the rumors being circulated about the castle, and though she felt Ginny's method had been a little extreme, she believed that it brought awareness to the students and that was what mattered. Hermione didn't say anything about Ginny's kiss with Draco, but that was likely for Ron's benefit.
The only one of her friends that asked about Draco had been Harry. He brought it up during an evening where they were the last two studying in the common room.
"Hmmmm?" She hadn't quite heard Harry's question as she'd been focused on studying for her Potions OWL.
"I said that you are dating him, aren't you?" It wasn't really a question.
"I kissed him in front of everyone on a whim. I only did it to get to Ron." It was the truth. Mostly, anyway. And at the same time it was a well rehearsed answer that she gave anyone who was insistent on getting her to talk.
"I know that," he said, a little annoyed that she was feeding him the line. "If you don't want to tell me, that's fine. I'm just saying that I'm pretty sure that you are."
"Wait. What?" She was surprised that he was being so bold.
Harry ran his hand through his unruly hair and readjusted his glasses. "It's okay with me," he said, and then quickly added, "Not that you need my assurance. But I'm just saying that I've been trying not to harp on about Malfoy so much in front of you. And even if he's not exactly worthy of you, I'm pretty sure that you see something decent in him, otherwise he'd be up in the hospital wing getting treated for all the different hexes you'd put on him."
Ginny smiled. It was one of the sweetest things Harry had ever said to her. And still she had a hard time outright confessing to him. "So, what really makes you think that I'm dating him?
"Well, aside from the fact that he's made it fairly clear that he's obsessed with you and you have no issue with it, you're wearing his ring on that chain around your neck."
She instinctively reached up to where it usually laid against her chest and found that it was still carefully tucked beneath her robes as it almost always was.
"I've seen it a couple times during Quidditch practice. Don't worry, Ron wouldn't ever notice something like that. In fact, when you really don't want to see something, it's pretty easy to be blind about it. I think he's actually managed to block out the whole incident in the Great Hall. But it's still instinct for him not to say a word about Malfoy because he knows something bad would happen if he did. You managed him quite well on that front," he said, smiling.
Ginny couldn't stop herself from giggling.
Draco was quite proud of himself for orchestrating one of his greatest ploys ever. Less than twelve hours after he had practically obliterated his own image, he was back on top of the world again and being revered as the Slytherin god. He didn't deserve much of the credit since it wasn't exactly his manipulative prowess that cleared his name, that was entirely Ginny's doing. He'd realized later that he could very well have suffered a great deal longer had it not been for a series of coincidences that happened in his favor. Nevertheless, he wasn't one to deny himself a pat on the back.
Still, his main goal had never been about maintaining his reputation. It had all been about Ginny. She had kissed him in front of the entire school and he truly believed that it was a clear indication of his relationship with her and that she had purposely made it public knowledge. He reveled in his moment of glory and didn't even mind getting detention for it. However, Ginny had pointed out that she never made any announcement regarding the status of their relationship and anything that people said after the incident was purely based on assumption. She laughed at his indignant reaction when he insisted that people were making the correct assumption.
"So what are you going to do if I just go around telling everyone we're a couple?" he asked.
"Then you'll ruin the fun and I'll start having to deny it," she said, smirking playfully.
"I can't ever win with you, can I?"
"You're catching on now," she said. "Though, you really must count yourself lucky."
"I already do," he said with partial sincerity. Ginny laughed.
"What I mean is, I must really love you."
Draco grew serious for a moment. She had finally validated her feelings and for a moment he had no idea how to respond. Part of him wanted to jump around screaming 'I knew it!' and the other part want to take her in his arms and kiss her long and deep because saying it in return didn't quite seem enough at this point. Looking into her eyes, though, it seemed that he didn't really need to say anything to solidify her feelings for him. He smiled one of his rare, genuine smiles.
"And why must you really, really love me?"
"I lied to practically everyone I know in order to save your precious reputation."
Draco was bewildered. "What are you talking about?"
Her eyes twinkled with mischievousness. "If I could fabricate a photo that easily, do you think I would have waited this long to do it?"
Draco's face contorted in disgusted shock. "There is ... there is no way I would have..."
"I suppose you can go on believing that.” Ginny shrugged. “And if you continue to be a good boy and not try to convince anyone that I'm your secret girlfriend, then I'll never mention it again. I won't even be mad at you for letting all the Slytherin believe that you manipulated me into saving your arse."
Mystified by the beguiling red-headed witch before him, Draco found that he could do nothing but appreciate her devious ways. Even though he couldn't quite bring himself to believe that she was possibly telling the truth about the photo, he felt the need to lose the memory of her mere mention of it. He would begin by replacing the thought with a more pleasant thought. One that involved his lips on hers in a broom closet, where no one was likely to find them.
First of all, many, many, many thanks to my beta Nyghtinggail who saved my sanity by volunteering to beta the last half of this for me. She had loads of wonderful suggestions and provided me with plenty of entertainment and encouragement with her comments throughout the beta process. I can't say it enough, Nyghtinggail. You Rock!Anyway, I'd like to think that if you made it this far, then you found some amount of entertainment in reading my fic, but if not, feel free to let me know what made you force yourself to read it anyway ;) Thanks so much for reading and any feedback you want to leave would be much appreciated!