CHAPTER SEVEN - Arrival
The Weasley’s did all the traditional Christmas break things. There were plenty of snowball wars, hot chocolate after playing Quidditch in the snow, and Ron even built himself a huge snow fort without magic… all the better to impress Hermione (and to snog her in).
Ginny could hardly contain herself all week. Her mother had to forbid her from going to bed at 7 pm every night in order to make the time go faster. Anything she could do to take her mind off her visitor was done.
On the evening of the 30th her family sat around the kitchen table and discussed their plans for New Years Eve. Bill and Fleur had the annual Delacour New Years Eve ball in France to attend. They were taking Fred and George with them because two of Fleur’s younger sisters had taken quite a shine to the two pranksters and had begged her to bring them. Both were looking forward to their New Years Eve kisses.
Percy and his wife were already on their vacation in Malta and must have had plans there. Charlie wanted to spend the night at home with his girlfriend. He was taking her to St. Mungo’s that afternoon to visit one of her friends who’d had a baby and since a nasty dragon-incident several years earlier hospitals had made him nauseous so he knew he’d be too ill to go out.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were staying at home. They had begun the tradition of snuggling all night when the children were small and couldn’t stop now that the children were bigger. That left just the four youngest, and since none of them wanted to watch the aforementioned they had decided that any plan was better than no plan. Hermione planned on spending the day curled up with the book Harry had bought her for Christmas, ‘Arithmancy and You: Calculate your Spells to Perfection’, and Harry and Ron had planned an all-out Quidditch practice… pushing themselves for the match against Slytherin that was coming up three weeks into next term. Later that night, all four of them had been invited to Hermione’s Aunt and Uncle’s house for daiquiris (“Whatever those are, thought Ginny.”)
Once the plans had been announced, Harry looked up at Ginny and asked her, “You’re going to play with us tomorrow right? We need a Chaser…”
“Well, I can play for a while… but after lunch there’d be too many Seekers. Remember, Draco is coming to visit me tomorrow.” Then, seeing the sick look come over Ron again she added, “You’ll be nice to him, right? Or, if nothing else, you won’t hex him to death or anything, right?”
“Is he planning on behaving himself?” Hermione asked, grim faced. “You know, it’s not like he’s never provoked us or anything.”
“Yeah. Will he keep his bloody mouth shut?” Ron was silenced by a particularly nasty look by Hermione.
“He’ll be a guest here. My guest. And I’m hoping to see him a lot more often, even at school. So, if we could all just get along… or at least avoid each other, we’ll be fine.” With that, Ginny went up to bed, not caring a whit for the sour expressions on their faces, or the fact that it was only 8 pm.
Ginny could tell it was early when she woke up. The light was barely breaking over the horizon, but Ginny couldn’t get back to sleep. She was too nervous. To pass the time before she really needed to get up she tried to remember the last time Draco had spoken to her. They obviously weren’t in any classes together and he’d been taking it easy on the insults as of late, and not just insults towards her either.
Of course, now Ginny knew why, but at the time all the Gryffindors, in fact, probably all the Houses including his own, had been wondering what was wrong with Malfoy. Even at the final Prefect’s meeting before the break, when they had had to report how many points they’d deducted over the term even Ron had surpassed Draco’s 70 point total. Weird, since Ron was notorious for not taking his Prefect duties seriously. Ginny had heard the trio debating Malfoy’s reasons heatedly, two or three days before the break, and wondered herself. But then again, that was before she got caught up in her misery after Bleddri hadn’t written.
So, thinking on that early New Years Eve morning, Ginny curled deeper into her warm blankets and tried to remember Draco’s voice. The inflection, with his snobby Wiltshire accent, the exact pitch? She couldn’t remember. She’d only heard him speak pleasantly a handful of times, and more recently, all she’d heard was his one-word answers he gave ‘Head Girl’ Hermione during Prefect meetings. She resolved herself to be patient and wait for that afternoon.
That thought sent her into another wave of nerves. She was going to see him, have him in the same room, within touching distance. What was she going to wear? Well, she didn’t really have to worry about that now, there were hours before Draco would get there. Knowing she’d get no more sleep this morning, Ginny got up to dress herself for the morning. Her plans were to spend the morning outside with Harry and Ron so she just chose her green Christmas Jumper and a pair of black wool trousers. She topped it off with her new charcoal wool cloak with an embedded Self-Heating and Waterproof Charm. It was a gift from Bill and Fleur. Ginny loved it. She charmed her hair into a loose French Braid crowned with a pale ivory crocheted snow hat. Draco’s necklace tickled under her jumper, but she refused to take it off, even for Quidditch.
Instead of going down for breakfast, she went straight outside and grabbed her Nimbus out of the shed. Fred had bought it for her in August for her birthday and she rode it as often as she could. Harry was already up in the air circling the garden and the Weasley’s impromptu pitch. He looked deep in thought and Ginny didn’t want to disturb him so she began to walk out of the paddock towards the house. Suddenly, Harry dropped down right in front of her.
“Gin, where are you going? Aren’t you going to play with me… us?” he stammered.
“Us? Where’s Ron?” she asked.
“You know Ron! He’d never give up breakfast. I’ve been here for a half hour. It’s been kinda lonely. You’ll stay won’t you?”
“Harry, I just didn’t want to start a row. I don’t want to get into that today. I want to have a good day, Harry.”
“No, Gin. Let’s not argue. I don’t want to fight. Now matter what I think of your afternoon guest, I care for you. I don’t want to lose your friendship, it means a lot to me, so I promise I’ll behave today, even if the git doesn’t!”
Ginny hugged him but giggled into his chest. “Don’t worry, if Ron doesn’t behave I’ll hex him into next week!” But as she pulled away she could see the hurt still in his eyes. “Thanks Harry. That really means a lot to me to hear you say that. I value your friendship too.” She climbed on her broom and rose into the air to do a few rounds before Harry could join her.
“Yeah, friendship.” Harry muttered to himself as she circled, “That’s exactly what I want.” He lifted himself up into the sky to follow the girl he finally realized he could never have.
It was nearly ten before Ron came out. Hermione had kept him indoors, probably reminding him not to be a jerk about Malfoy to Ginny, so their play practice didn’t go long. Without a Snitch to practice with, Harry played Chaser with Ginny and they ran drills and tried to score on Ron. Then, at nearly half past eleven, Ginny started doing barrel rolls to get a workout. It was just past half past twelve when she let herself down and waved to her brother and friend.
As she was walking up from the pitch with her broom over her shoulder she finally looked at her watch and stopped. “It can’t be!” she thought desperately. The nerves were back and she started running towards the house. She burst through the kitchen door, sweaty and red, just as a perfectly coiffed platinum head popped though green flames and smiled up at her.
“Hi!” She spat out, still puffing from her run.
“Uh, hello, Ginny. It was half past twelve right?” His voice was beautiful and he was wearing her pin. Ginny’s heart soared.
“Oh, yeah… it was. Please come in. It was me, I just lost track of time. I was out playing Quidditch. Well, not really playing, but practicing…” She would have blushed if she hadn’t already turned red from the running. “Sorry, I had planned on being here waiting and NOT looking like an idiot, definitely looking better than I do now. But I always forget. I always lose track of time, especially when I’m nervous and it’s something really important.” She was babbling and realized it as soon as she looked up and saw his amused… well… his amused ‘almost’ smirk.
“Hey, it’s not funny!” She couldn’t help giggling herself as she swatted his broad black shoulder. Tingles went up her arm as she touched him. She decided she liked touching him a lot.
“I didn’t say anything.” He smiled, this time, a genuine one. “So, what are we going to do this afternoon?” He looked around, “I don’t see any brothers sent to kill me, so... I’m up for anything!” He rubbed his hands together with a grin.
As of on cue, Ron and Harry burst through the door laughing, at least until they saw Malfoy. Ron was so stunned that he tripped over Ginny’s broom (the one she hadn’t had time to put away) and went sprawling onto the floor.
Draco spoke first, “Weasley, Potter.” He nodded, his face grim and his posture tightened.
“Malfoy.” Harry nodded back, but couldn’t hide the distain from his voice. He made an effort to pick up Ron and then eyed Malfoy again, his gaze resting upon the cloak pin attached to Draco left breast. Harry turned to look sideways at Ginny appraisingly before grabbing Ron and pushing him into the other room.
Ginny watched them and then turned to Malfoy, who visibly relaxed when the other boys left. She grinned.
“Well, that wasn’t too horrible. Better than I expected really,” and then, amazed at her own boldness, she put her arm in his and led him to the door, “let’s go outside. There might be a little too much tension here in the house for a while. I have to put my broom away anyway.”
Allowing himself to be steered outside, Draco walked with her to the broom shed and then around the garden under the snow covered trees to the newly frozen pond. Smiling as he looked at the snow beginning to fall, he mused to himself that he should have brought his hat, to which Ginny started giggling and shrieked, “Not that horrible fur thing you wear?”
“You don’t like my hat?” Draco asked in mock hurt, but hardly masking his smile.
“It’s dreadful!” Ginny couldn’t stop laughing.
“You should talk, Weasley! Does this skimpy stitched thing keep your pretty head warm?” He fingered the ivory wool hat that she was still wearing before moving to touch one of the red tendrils that had fallen out of her braid. His teasing smile turned into something gentler and Ginny’s face flushed. She looked away, smiling.
“Uh, how was Switzerland?” she had to break the awkward silence somehow.
“Horrible. I would have much rather been here with you… Skiing has never been my sport.”
“I see you wore the pin.” She finally mentioned the pin. “It looks brilliant! Did you really like it? It’s not too Gryffindor is it?”
“I love it, Ginny, truly. I didn’t expect anything at all, especially after I made you cry. I’m used to making you angry, but I’ve never intentionally made you cry.” He touched her face, his thumb tracing down the side of her cheek.
Ginny caught his hand before it fell. “You did make me cry, Draco. But your letter and you just being here today… makes me very happy. Tears can be forgotten.”
“The necklace? Did you… are you wearing it?” he asked, unsure, but not dropping her hand.
Instead of answering him, she unbuttoned the top button of her cloak and with one hand, the hand he wasn’t holding, she pulled it out from beneath her jumper. “I’ll always wear it. I can’t seem to do without it’s tickling my neck. I’ve not taken it off yet, not even during my bubble bath last night.” Then, she looked away, the red of her hair pouring over her face in a blush. She just realized she’d been idiotic enough to mention being naked in front of Draco. She absentmindedly took her hand away from his and attempted to brush back a stray hair behind her ear. She didn’t see his face turn pink.
“Ginny, I…” but he didn’t finish. They were interrupted by Mrs. Weasley yelling at them from the porch.
“Ginny? Ginny, dear? Why don’t you and your friend come out of the cold? Your father and I would like to meet him before teatime.”
“Coming Mum!” Ginny smiled shyly at Draco.
“Here we go…” he breathed out, and then subconsciously began smoothing out imaginary wrinkles from his cloak and running his hands through his hair.
“Just be yourself. The ‘real’ you, not the ‘you’ you’ve been at school for the last six”
“Seven” He coughed.
“Years…” she finished with a smile.
“Potter going to be there?”
“Probably. Will you be alright?”
“Yeah, I’ll behave… just for you, luv.” He poked her cold nose before grabbing her hand and leading them back to the house.
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