‘Mhh-Mhh,’ said Lavender as she coughed politely. A few of the older students looked around for Umbridge.
The entire Great Hall turned and stared at her. Lavender smiled. She did so love having everyone’s attention focused purely on her, and the opportunity of announcing the results of Draco’s shoulder competition with the use of a Sonorus Charm was really too good to let past. So when the Gryffindor girls had collated the results (an honour fiercely fought over between all the houses) and decided that the perfect time to unveil the data was during breakfast, Lavender had argued fast and hard for the right to present it. As Lavender quite scared most of the girls in Gryffindor (apparently, she had a very nasty right hook) they acquiesced, if not with grace, then at least alacrity.
So Lavender stood proudly in front of the entire hall. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen,’ she began.
But it seemed she would not get very far. ‘What, may I ask, is the meaning of this… wonderful display, Ms Brown,’ inquired Professor Snape politely from the teachers’ table.
At first glance, he seemed honestly interested in the answer, and Lavender, who was not very good at understanding Professor Snape’s sarcasm, answered with complete sincerity.
‘Well Professor, you may have heard that Ginny Weasley and Draco Malfoy are going out?’
He raised an eyebrow. ‘No, I can’t say I am privy to such information, Ms Brown. Continue,’ instructed Snape.
‘Oh, yes, well. It all happened because Ginny thought Draco had nice shoulders, and others agreed and some didn’t,’ she added in shocked tones.
Professor Snape’s other eyebrow rose to join the one already lost amongst his hair. Snape couldn’t work out if he was more surprised that Lucius’ son had the balls to go out with a Gryffindor or that the Gryffindor in question was Ms Ginevra Weasley. It seemed that Snape didn’t know everything after all.
‘So we decided to finish it once and for all. We held a survey to evaluate the hotness of Draco’s shoulders.’
‘And you, I presume, are going to announce these results.’
McGonagall had been listening to this conversation while she enjoyed her eggs, but now she intervened. ‘Really, Ms Brown, this is unacceptable. You can’t…’
‘Oh Minerva, I really think we should allow them this fun. It sounds amusing,’ interrupted Snape.
‘Well perhaps for you, Severus, but imagine how embarrassing it would be for poor Malfoy?’
‘Minerva, Minerva. Let the children enjoy themselves,’ said Snape as he went back to his tea with a very Dumbledore like twinkle in his eyes. Then he smiled. Showing his teeth.
Lavender took an involuntary step back, and one of the first years fainted. Professor Snape could smile! Who knew?
Even Professor McGonagall was a bit surprised and stopped her championing of Malfoy before her eggs got cold.
During this entire conversation, Lavender had left the Sonorus Charm on so the entire hall heard her explanation of the dating situation in Hogwarts. Including Ginny and Draco, who were sitting at their respective tables staring in horror at each other while enduring quite a bit of elbow nudging from their elbow-nudging friends.
‘I’m sorry,’ mouthed Ginny across the room.
‘Not your fault,’ mouthed back Draco.
‘Oh, this is good. I’m really interested in the results. Start talking, Lavender,’ demanded Blaise loudly with his mouth full of toast. Luna was sitting next to him, and she seemed not to mind him speaking with his mouth full, much.
Unluckily for Draco, Lavender understood Blaise and this was enough encouragement to get her over the sight of a smiling Professor Snape and into the announcing.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a pleasure, an absolute pleasure, to be able to speak to you today,’ said Lavender in her best announcer tone.
‘Hurry up, Lavender. We know it’s about Draco’s shoulders, and their hotness. We know it’s because he’s going out with Ginny. Does everyone in the hall know that?’ yelled Blaise; thankfully he had finished his toast.
A mumble of ‘yeses’ and ‘of courses’ were voiced by the surrounding tables. One little confused Ravenclaw said, ‘What?’ and was quickly hushed by her more socially orientated friends.
‘See, all you have to do is tell us the results ‘cause I have Potions in first and I don’t want to be late,’ continued Blaise with a spare look for the presumably simple-minded Ravenclaw.
‘And I have to go to the library before class, so if you don’t mind,’ said Hermione.
Several stares were sent at her; some were incredulous, others (like Ron’s, who was looking at his cereal like it contained the cure for lycanthropy) were a tad on the nasty side. Hermione pointedly ignored him, and took hold of Harry’s hand. Harry jumped a bit, but smiled hesitantly at his best friend, who was a girl but wasn’t a girlfriend (yet, anyway).
Draco and Ginny were both slowly turning bright red, so naturally Colin Creevey started taking photos. It was a toss-up between whether Ginny with her matching face and hair or Draco with his white face and bright pink cheeks looked more comical. Creevey reckoned it might be cause for another survey.
Her hot air completely gone, Lavender began, ‘Well then, if we’re all quite finished, I would like to speak. As you all obviously know about the voting that has taken place in the last couple of days, I won’t go into the details. A nasty look was sent at Blaise. ‘However, the results for Draco’s shoulders have swung for the past few days between ‘OMM-burning-building-hot’ and ‘OMM-volcano-erupting-and-destroying-half-the-planet-hot’. I, personally, feel that Draco’s shoulders deserve much higher praise than either of these ratings. But it is not only my votes which can be taken into account; there were several nasty, petty votes (a look was sent at Pansy) which have lowered these otherwise outstanding results. The end result is - drum roll please - ‘OMM burning building hot.’ Well done, Draco.’
Clapping filled the room, and Draco sank lower into his seat.
But Draco’s torture was not over. Lavender had more to say.
‘So Draco, I would like to present you with this beautiful crown. It has your final results engraved in it. Come, come up here,’ she beckoned.
Draco sat resolutely in his seat, shaking his head at the now slightly annoyed Lavender. ‘Draco, come up here to accept your crown.’
‘Lavender, I don’t want the crown,’ said Draco.
But Blaise pushed at him and Snape interjected, ‘Nonsense, Mr Malfoy. Your classmates have taken time and care to make you a wonderful crown. I suggest you accept it with grace.’
Draco, unlike Lavender, did understand sarcasm and he sent Professor Snape a dirty look.
Snape just smiled.
So Draco walked over to Lavender, who promptly climbed up on the table to put it on top of Draco’s head. Draco got redder. Lavender leaned over and kissed Draco on the cheek. ‘If you ever get bored with the Weasley, remember me,’ said Lavender.
Of course, she had forgotten the Sonorus Charm so the entire Hall heard and started to laugh.
Suddenly, a sound other than laughter could be heard. Sobs. Someone was crying. The someone was Pansy.
‘It’s not fair. It’s not fair. I’ve liked him forever, and we even kissed a couple of times. He was supposed to be mine,’ wailed Pansy.
‘I’ll tell you what isn’t fair,’ interrupted a furious and rather pissed-off voice. ‘What isn’t fair is the fact that my sister is dating the biggest git in the entire world,’ said Ron as he pushed his plate away and stood up to face the hall full of people. ‘And nobody but me knows it. But when I tell everyone I get told to ‘be quiet, Ron’ and ‘grow up’ as if I’m the one with the problem. His father is a Death Eater, and he is going to turn into a fucking Death Eater as well. He’s probably going to rape her and then cut her into tiny bits to feed to You-Know-Who.’
Ginny stood up. Ron had gone too far this time, but before she could say anything Draco had stood up and marched over to Ron. He towered over the red-head, and Ron seemed ridiculously small and timid in comparison.
‘Listen up, Weasley, I am not my father. He is not me,’ said Draco quietly and with a controlled passion that destroyed Ron’s previous blustering. ‘I happen to like your sister a lot, because unlike a lot of people she doesn’t judge and she doesn’t blame. Maybe you can get it through your thick head that I’m not going to hurt her, that I couldn’t hurt her. Also, maybe the reason people keep telling you to grow up is because you’re acting like an immature three-year-old.’
Draco turned and, with flair worthy of Snape, walked from the room.
Ginny stood, watching him go before turning to face Ron. ‘Everyone besides you can accept that I’m dating Draco. Harry and Hermione are okay with it, so are all my friends, and even the twins thought he was decent. It’s just you. I want you to like or at least get along with him, and you’re making it difficult for me, Ron. I want you to think about whether your issues with Draco or my happiness is more important to you.’
Ginny left the now completely silent hall to follow Draco.
The silence was broken dramatically by Pansy’s sobs as she rushed from the room. Ron, red-faced, quickly followed. Hermione sighed quietly and grabbed hold of Harry’s hand to make their way to the library.
‘Well, that was certainly interesting,’ declared Luna. ‘I haven’t been so intrigued since I went with Father on our expedition to find Umgubular Slashkilters. Blaise, should we go and find Draco and Ginny?’
‘No, I think they should work this out on their own. This whole… issue of our families had to come up sooner or later. Draco and Ginny need to talk. We have a couple of minutes before class; I reckon we should talk as well,’ said Blaise as he took Luna’s hand to walk to their tree.
‘I’m very glad you like my tree,’ said Luna as she settled herself amongst the roots.
‘Our tree,’ said Blaise with a small smile.
‘Yes, I like the sound of that. Blaise, you have to know that I can be a bit…unfocused some of the time. But I really do pay attention when it’s important. I know you’re going to talk to me about the Death Eaters and stuff, and explain how you aren’t going to join and maybe that will mean going into hiding for awhile or fighting with the Order. But I don’t care,’ whispered Luna. ‘I don’t care. I think you should know, Blaise, that I’m starting to fall in love with you. It’s a little letter now, not a capital and I’m not fully in love with you, yet. But I’m on the edge.’
Blaise stared at Luna, slightly shocked. ‘Whoa, wait. Luna, we’ve been dating for less than a week. How can you say you love me?’
‘Silly, what does time have to do with love? And I didn’t say I was in love with you, just that I was on the edge. And I think you may be on the edge of falling for me too.’
‘Luna, I like you a lot but… My mum has had like, lots, and I do mean lots of husbands. Each time she says that ‘this is it’ or ‘he’s the one’. I’ve only known you for a week, and maybe you can fall in love in that time but I just don’t know yet.’
Luna just smiled her wise little smile which made her eyes crinkle at the corners. ‘Blaise, all I ask of you is this; that you come sit beside me and kiss me. I don’t expect you to love me or to make heroic declarations, just yet. Just sit here and kiss me.’
‘Whatever you say, my dear,’ laughed Blaise as he sat down beside Luna.
Then she placed her hand on the curve of his cheek. ‘It’s going to be okay, Blaise, because whatever happens we’ll be together.’
Draco and Ginny, on the other hand, were not experiencing such harmony. Ginny had followed Draco down to the Quidditch pitch, where instead of having a normal, adult conversation like Ginny had expected, he had got on his broom and flown off. Ginny presumed it was some kind of calming-down technique (which she supposed he was entitled to) but after ten minutes the cold air and the fact that Draco was still circling around the sky was starting to piss her off.
‘Draco,’ bellowed Ginny up at the night sky.
An absent-minded wave was all she received in acknowledgement, but slowly Draco began to make his way down to the ground.
‘I’m angry,’ said Draco before Ginny could say anything. ‘But I realize we need to talk, so if you want to talk, I suggest you ride with me.’
He gestured at his broom, and Ginny, forcing herself not to think of the various accidents that had occurred from tandem broom riding, got on. Draco was a superb flyer. He flew with a grace and innate sense of balance that Ginny envied. Ginny knew she was good, very good even, but she would never be able to gain the almost spooky control Draco had. They rode in silent for a minute, each gathering their thoughts, before Draco spoke.
‘I’m sorry that I left you down there and that I walked out of the Hall, but I didn’t want to say the stuff I was thinking. Especially not to you. Some stuff just gets me really angry, and it’s like I can’t control myself. Your brother hit on one of those topics. My dad. And then he landed on another minefield. The Death Eaters. Basically, my Dad is a bastard. He’s just not a nice guy. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he’s never hit my mother or me or anything. But he’s never hugged us either. They don’t love each other. Merlin, they don’t even like each other. They used to. Unlike what most people think, they did actually like each other when they got married. But then Dad got involved in the Death Eaters, and he changed. Now, they have separate rooms and separate lives. And it suits them both. They did their duty and had me. Now they mean absolutely nothing to each other. And it doesn’t help that the entire world seems to know that Dad is involved with the Death Eaters.’
Draco said the words like they left a dirty taste in his mouth. And Ginny wondered how anyone, let alone her own brother, could think he was capable of joining them.
Ginny shook her head in disbelief. His life was so different to the warm and supporting family she had grown up with. She wrapped her arms around his back, resting her head on his shoulders.
‘I was pretty much raised by my mother until about two years ago, and then I started getting all these questions about my grades and my friends. Suddenly, he gave a shit about me and my life. At first, I was massively proud, trying to live up to his expectations. But then…then I heard him and Mum arguing about how she didn’t want me to become a Death Eater. He started yelling at her and telling her it was none of her business what his son did. His son, like he had anything to do with the raising of me. He made her cry. So, I decided that I would be nothing like my father. It makes me sound all brave to say I don’t want to become a Death Eater, but I’m really just stubborn, Ginny. I don’t want to make my mother cry.’
Ginny leant into Draco’s back, smelling the scent that was somehow uniquely him. He was speaking of defying his father, one of Voldemort’s top Death Eaters. Draco would have to hide and probably join the Order. He would be an outcast from both his own people and the people in the Order who wouldn’t accept him. And he thought he wasn’t brave.
‘And your brother brought all that stuff up, and then said how I’m probably going to rape you and feed you to Voldemort or something. And I just…snapped. I’m sorry,’ said Draco.
‘Don’t apologise. It’s Ron’s fault. He was rude and said things he knows nothing about. He should be the one apologizing,’ said Ginny.
‘But he won’t.’
‘No, he won’t,’ agreed Ginny. ‘Unfortunately, it might take quite awhile for Ron to come down from his high horse and accept you.’
‘I don’t mind his not liking me, but Ginny I couldn’t stand it if you actually thought I could ever…hurt you,’ said Draco softly.
‘Draco, I know you wouldn’t hurt me. I know you couldn’t. Don’t worry about what Ron said.’
‘I won’t. Ginny, in the hall I said I liked you a lot. I want you to know that’s true. I like you more than I’ve ever liked a girl before. I think of you all the time, and I want you to know how special you are to me.
‘I really like you too, Draco.’
‘And not just for my shoulders?’ joked Draco.
‘Well, no, you do have really good chest muscles as well,’ said Ginny in a fake-serious voice.
Draco laughed, and Ginny realized how glad it made her that she could make him happy. He landed the broom gently by the side of the pitch.
‘We’ve got class soon,’ said Draco as they dismounted the broom.
‘I wish we could be in the same class.’
‘I know. Then we could do this more often,’ said Draco as he lowered his head to catch her lips in a kiss. It was sweet and long (and really warming after the cold air on the broom ride).
Ginny leaned in, hands wrapped in Draco’s school shirt. ‘I think this is pretty close to perfect,’ said Ginny as she and Draco stood as one.
Author notes: Please review, and tell me what you think.
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