Next morning Ginny walked down to the village again, in need of two equally important things. Firstly, of course, was a diversion from Aunt Muriel, who had returned to her complaints about the weather being too hot, and consequentially spent the day gossiping in the shadowy patio of the château with an old friend of hers called Violet. Secondly, Ginny needed a new quill so that she could reply to Hermione’s letter, where the girl had used an entire scroll of parchment to complain of yet another mistake Ron had made. How Ron could keep infuriating Hermione like that, Ginny had no idea. Especially when Hermione scolded him worse than Mrs. Weasley ever had–every single time.
She rounded the corner into one of the narrower streets, turning away from the expensive stores she had ogled at last time. Now that she was actually buying something, she needed shops without price tags displaying sums the size of her monthly salary. Or, worse yet, those stores with no prices at all, where only those too rich to worry about sums would shop.
Passing a small used-clothes store - no doubt the one Malfoy had pointed her to last time–and a pet shop that looked like it had long ago seen better days, she turned into a bookstore to find a quill and some parchment. By the counter, she came across some nice cards, one showing the village with the pier in bright sunlight and happy people chatting in the streets. It conveyed a picture of such perfection that Ginny decided to get one and send it to Ron. After mocking her about the holiday with Aunt Muriel, being tortured by how pretty Capro looked was the least of what he deserved.
Her purchases safely in a bag, she walked out of the store again and continued down the winding street. She stopped to admire some cheap copies of the designer clothes sold a few streets away, but decided against buying anything–the last thing she needed was Malfoy seeing her and sarcastically commenting on her apparent desire to climb the social ladder–and walked on past a murky-looking store selling potions and a few souvenir shops.
To her surprise, the street ended in the harbour, where two cafés lined the houses on either side, shaded against the sun by colourful, mismatched parasols. Not far down the harbour the shadings changed to a more elegant oft-white or sand, and the price of refreshments no doubt made a tour in the same classy direction.
Ginny, not yet thirsty, was walking along the harbour when she saw one very familiar blond man walking towards her.
‘Draco,’ she greeted, feeling awkward using his first name. But she felt even more foolish always calling him ‘Malfoy,’ too–especially when he called her Ginny.
He raised an eyebrow in that arrogant way she had recently begun to notice was really rather attractive, and looked surprised at her use of his name. ‘Ginny.’
‘Lamberto not with you today?’ she enquired as she stopped beside him. She only stopped to talk because he was the only one she knew. It certainly had nothing at all to do with her liking him in any way. He was a Malfoy–the Malfoys were sworn enemies of Ginny’s family. Anyone at all sensible disliked the Malfoys, really.
‘He was only here for one day,’ Malfoy replied. ‘His parents skipped him down by Floo so that they could enjoy a romantic day alone in Rome. So, I was stuck babysitting.’
Ginny stared at him, and realised that her mouth was slightly open. The notion of Malfoy as a babysitter was an utterly absurd one.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ he drawled. ‘You look as demented as your brother.’
She hurriedly closed her mouth; to her frustration, she was actually worried about Malfoy’s opinion. ‘I just can’t imagine you–’ She stopped. ‘Never mind,’ she said, deciding to drop it. Malfoy had been okay with the child. Well, not really, but Lamberto had seemed to like his cousin, anyway.
‘Think I’m not fit to look after him, Weasley?’ he asked angrily. ‘He might be an arrogant little bugger, but he’s still family.’
‘He reminds me of you,’ Ginny replied lightly.
‘Me?’ Malfoy asked incredulously, as if the idea that he could be arrogant was meaningless.
‘Yes, you,’ Ginny maintained. ‘You are a little arrogant, you know.’
‘I can assure you, I was not as annoying as that boy when I was young!’ Malfoy protested.
‘I went to school with you, remember?’ she asked, a little mockingly. ‘Do you still claim not to have been annoying?’
Malfoy grinned rather maliciously. ‘If I managed to annoy your brother and Potter, I’ll be well pleased,’ he stated. ‘I did try.’
‘I think you managed to annoy every Gryffindor that ever met you, actually,’ Ginny retorted.
Malfoy snorted. ‘I’m honoured,’ he said, sounding rather proud. Of course he would be. What had she imagined? That he would confess to really just being misunderstood?
Shaking her head slightly at the silly notion of Malfoy being likeable, she met his grey eyes. The annoying twinge in her chest returned again. I need a boyfriend, she sternly told herself, if I’m attracted to Malfoy. I think I’m almost as desperate to find a man as Muriel is attempting to make me!
Malfoy smirked slightly, and she wondered if he had noticed. Thankfully, she had grown out of blushing like a lantern every time she became embarrassed, or else her face would have been a bright red by now.
‘Out shopping?’ she asked, grasping the first question that fell into her head in order to break the silence.
‘No,’ he replied. ‘I’m just back from enjoying a morning on the bay.’ He nodded in the direction of the marina, where an impressive collection of boats were assembled. They were of a size much better suited for the sea than the tiny one she had forced herself into to go to the Grottoes. For that matter, several of them looked big enough for her entire family to live in.
‘You, however, seem to have gone shopping in the dingiest street on the island,’ he continued, his expression unreadable.
‘Yes,’ she snapped. ‘My clothes look like crap. You’ve already pointed it out–multiple times–so thank you very much. But not all of us are born into more money than we could ever need. I actually need to work for a living.’
‘Touchy today, are we?’ he asked, sounding amused. ‘I was going to say I saw you walking out onto the harbour–with that red hair, it’s quite hard to avoid noticing you.’
‘Oh,’ she replied, a little put out. How did Malfoy manage to annoy her so much? ‘I’m glad to see you’ve acquired at least some manners.’
He laughed, giving her that signature smirk before he continued down the harbour, leaving her to look after him just long enough that he turned to notice.
Cursing under her breath, she turned abruptly around and stomped on up the main street.
‘We have been here for over three weeks, Ginevra, and still you have not found a man,’ Aunt Muriel said disapprovingly during dessert that night. ‘What have you been doing with your time?’
Trying her hardest not to scowl at her aunt, Ginny swallowed her retort, instead poking the spoon into her gelato, using more force than necessary.
‘I heard the Turpins are down for the summer,’ Muriel continued. ‘That Matthew Turpin isn’t quite a catch. But you can’t be too picky, or you’ll never get married.’
Gritting her teeth, Ginny tried to focus on her dessert. She could remember Matthew from school–he had been as stupid as his sister was smart, and his sole interest had been that of hiding behind tapestries to stick out a foot and trip unsuspecting people walking past. Not be too picky, indeed, she fumed. Who does Muriel think I’m fit for, anyway?
‘I remember him from school,’ she forced out, trying to not sound murderous, at the very least.
‘Well, if you’ve met him, he won’t do!’ Muriel said, sounding annoyed. ‘He’s best married without acquaintance, that lummox. Worse even than Ron, and that’s a feat! At least Ron managed to find himself a girl. I told his grandmother the other day that -’
Ginny ignored Muriel’s long explanation of how she had insulted Matthew’s poor grandmother. She was relieved when her aunt finally rose from the table to go to bed, leaving a few well thought-out words with Ginny as her way of saying goodnight. (‘Make sure you get your beauty-sleep, Ginevra. If you don’t want a man like Matthew, you’ll have to make more of an effort with your appearance!’)
Ginny spent the rest of the night out on her balcony writing a reply to Hermione‘s letter. She gave a detailed account of their tour of Rome - not forgetting to put in Muriel’s rude comments - an excited description of the beautiful places she had seen on Corsica, and mentioned going to see the Grottoes. She then sealed it and tied it to the foot of Hermione’s owl, Agatha, before watching the bird fly in an arc across the bay and turn due north. I didn’t mention anything about Draco because it wasn’t important, she tried to convince herself. All she accomplished, however, was to become even more troubled. Since when do I think of him as Draco? she wondered, looking out the bay at the faraway lanterns of Muggle ships passing through the night. Somehow, she guessed she would not find the peace of mind to go to bed any time soon.
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