By the time she reached the bottom of the hill, Ginny had regained her senses. If the man wasn’t such a good kisser, she fumed, I might just have spotted what any fool would have seen. It had been fairly obvious why Draco had asked her out - and it certainly had nothing to do with her abilities to lead an interesting conversation.
At the end of the date, he hadn’t asked her out again - obviously, he had realised she wasn’t willing to go as far as he would like her to. She wondered just how far that was. Given the way his hand snaked up my thigh in that delicious way, I’ll bet - She interrupted her string of thought. This was not the time to become all mushy just because Draco made out the same way he danced - confident and oh-so-wonderfully manly. The point, she continued, is that he was trying to get me to bed, like I was some cheap girl he’d picked up.
It was just as well he hadn’t repeated the invitation to a date - although she really would have liked to toss a ‘hell no’ in his face. That would probably have been a first for him.
The next morning, an owl pecked on her window again.
‘What’s with people?’ Ginny muttered grumpily. She really wasn’t a morning person, so why could they not send letters at a time that would make them arrive when Ginny was actually awake?
But, this time, she didn’t recognise the owl as she let it in, and unlike Harold, the bird flew past her without trouble, landing in a dignified way on the peg beside the window. Ginny got the feeling this would turn out to be Draco’s owl. He certainly seemed the type to have an owl like this.
As she approached it, the bird held out the foot with a letter attached to it, looking… arrogant. Right. Even his owl was stuck-up. Although, to be fair, she was probably just imagining it - an owl couldn’t really look arrogant, could it?
‘Thank you,’ she said as she took the letter, seeing the unmistakable Malfoy seal on the back. Ginny rolled her eyes. No wonder Draco was full of himself; his family used a seal that could match those she had seen Muggle kings use in her Muggle Studies class.
She carefully opened it, amusing herself by imagining the look on Ron’s or Hermione’s face if she told them she’d opened a letter from a Malfoy without having it tested for lethal curses first. Horrified would not have begun to describe their expressions. With a smile, she unfolded it and read the short message inside.
I would like to request the pleasure of your company on a private boat tour tomorrow at noon. If this time is convenient for you, I’ll be waiting by the pier.
She ogled at the letter for a good minute, not believing what she had read. Clearly, he did want her to come on a second date. And his invitation belonged to a past century, too. Or perhaps that was the ‘polite’ way of doing it? She had no inclination of accepting, of course - not after the way he had behaved. But it still was quite flattering to be asked.
Dropping the letter onto her bed, she walked into the bathroom for a quick shower. Now that she was up, she might as well avoid another telling-off by Aunt Muriel for sleeping too late.
Walking back out, still in her towel, she nearly jumped at seeing the owl still there. It appeared Draco expected a reply. Ginny dressed in a hurry, oddly bothered to have the bird in her room. She should just write back that she wasn’t interested, and stop stalling. Fascinating or not, Draco wasn’t exactly a big loss… right?
Before the butterflies in her stomach could have any impact on her decision-making skills, she found a bit of parchment, simply wrote ‘Not interested’ on it, and tied it to the owl’s leg. She couldn’t help imagining Draco’s facial expression when he read that one. It would do him a world of good.
With that done, she walked down to have breakfast with her aunt.
‘Ginevra. If you hadn’t decided to join me soon, I would have been worried you’d snuck out to find that Giovanni. Most unsuitable young man,’ Muriel barked at seeing her.
‘He’s handsome, though,’ Ginny said, as innocently as she could. At least Aunt Muriel had not found out about Draco. If she had, she would probably write a letter to Molly declaring she’d finally found a suitable young man for Ginny, and that would most definitely end in disaster. Ginny shivered as she tried to imagine her mother’s reaction to Ginny dating a Malfoy. A Howler would be the least she could expect. More likely, Ron, Bill, and Percy would be outside the door within hours to ‘protect’ her from said Malfoy.
Walking down to the beach later, she half regretted her rash comment about Giovanni being handsome. Aunt Muriel had kept on for over half an hour about family ties, respectability and money, of all things. I don’t have any money, either, Ginny thought. That probably means I’m unsuitable, too. She walked onto the warm sand, kicking off her shoes to walk barefoot. She might not like the sea, but she was rather fond of the beach.
Halfway across the sand she saw Draco walking towards her. Did the guy have a tracking spell on her, or was this just coincidence? Or possibly really bad luck? Maybe kismet? No, scratch that last idea; that one spooked her.
He walked up to her and briefly met her eyes, his expression hard. With a curt nod, he walked on past her, leaving her rather stunned. Admittedly she shouldn’t have been - she probably had offended him. She certainly had intended to offend him. But, still… wasn’t she supposed to be happy that he no longer talked to her? At least then she wouldn’t be tempted by whatever force it was that kept pulling her towards him.
‘Draco,’ she said, just to break the silence - the very icy silence.
‘Weasley,’ he snapped back, without turning.
‘Oh, come on, Draco!’ she said after his retreating figure. ‘You can hardly be surprised! After the way you acted?’ She shouldn’t talk to him, she knew that. But, for some reason, she was unreasonably upset to see him angry.
Draco turned around, his face bewildered. ‘I behaved impeccably,’ he sneered with a straight face. Being humble was really not a thing he seemed capable of. Besides, once again, he was being dead honest.
‘Right….’ she said mockingly. ‘Right up till the point where your hand ended up on its way to a far too private place for a first date.’
He smirked at the memory. Ginny felt a sudden urge to hex him. How could he smirk, now?
‘You were there, too,’ he said, exasperatedly. ‘You could have just moved my hand away, or told me to stay off. You’re behaving childishly.’
‘I’m…’ Ginny glared at him, but she had to admit, at least to herself, that he was right. If it had been anyone but Draco, she wouldn’t have overreacted like that. ‘Well, it’s good for you to hear a ‘no’ now and then,’ she said, trying to gain the upper hand again.
‘Right,’ he said, still smirking. ‘Because I obviously haven’t been turned down before.’ His tone was condescending, telling her he had, and didn’t mind.
‘Who, then?’ she enquired. ‘Who turns down the Malfoy heir?’
He snorted at her description of him. ‘Who do you think I am, Ginny?’ he asked. ‘Of course I’ve heard a ‘no’ before. I do know the meaning of the word, you know.’ He turned to walk on.
‘Wait,’ she said to his back, cursing herself for doing this. ‘I might have overreacted just a little.’
He snorted, turning back to her. ‘You think?’ he asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm. ‘I’ll see you at noon tomorrow, then,’ he added, a slight smile on his lips.
‘Bon voyage!’ she replied mockingly, wondering why she always felt the need to be so rude to him. It was the way he caught her off guard, she guessed. And the tiny matter of her being supposed to hate the ground he walked on.
He just shook his head slightly, then left.
Great! Now I have no idea if we’re even going on a date! she fumed.
Still, at noon the next day, she walked towards the marina. She had no idea why - firstly, this was Draco Malfoy. There was no way he could be a good man. Secondly, she hated being on a boat. Sure, this was bound to be a bigger one than the tiny eggshell they had called a boat on the Grotto tour, but still! The idea of floating on top of endless amounts of water was one utterly without appeal for her. But, after making a fool of herself once over this date, she sure wasn’t about to tell Draco that. He would probably have laughed gleefully if she had said she didn’t like being on a boat. Besides, how hard could it possibly be to keep her head and not panic for a few hours on a boat?
She found Draco waiting for her, leaning against a pole. He had the nerve not to look the least bit surprised that she had turned up, after all.
As they walked down the pier, she nearly cursed. He led her straight to a wooden sailboat - much smaller than many of the others. There was, thankfully, what seemed to be a house on it, but the thing was more built for speed than comfort. Ginny would much have preferred the boat next to it - that one was of a sensible size, and she could see what looked more like a fancy living room on it than the inside of a boat.
Draco jumped onboard with such ease that she was envious. Ginny considered herself far from clumsy, but where water was involved she tensed up and felt likely to trip over her own feet at any moment. So she was pleased to see that Draco’s chivalry was still very much present. He clearly didn’t expect her to get onboard on her own - he turned, extending his hand, and quite effortlessly got her onboard as well. Ginny made sure to keep a hold on his hand until she was well seated.
‘I’ll just get us out on the bay,’ he said, leaving her to tap the steering wheel with his wand.
The boat left the pier nice and slowly but before long the sails had fanned down the mast, and the boat was sailing briskly across the bay. Then, all of a sudden, it turned, making the floor tilt at a very undesirable angle.
‘You do know sailing is a Muggle sport, right?’ Ginny said sharply, wishing she’d skipped breakfast. The food seemed reluctant to stay where it was. Why would a boat have that effect on her when her stomach was just fine on a broomstick?
Draco shook his head, looking exasperated. ‘As far as I know, Muggles live in houses, too. That doesn’t make me less willing to do the same,’ he replied. ‘Are you going to be quiet and sour all day? In that case, this will be one hell of a long date.’
Ginny squealed as the boat tilted the other way, and gripped her seat firmly. She immediately wished she’d kept her mouth shut - she could hear Draco chuckle to himself.
‘Oh, shut up!’ she snapped. ‘Does the damn boat have to… move like that?’
He looked highly amused. ‘It’s a boat, Ginny,’ he said condescendingly. ‘It’s meant to rock a little. Just wait until we get out of the bay.’
Oh, no! Ginny thought, but she didn’t speak. It was bad enough with Draco chuckling every time he glanced her way. If she told him she was nervous and nauseous, he surely would get a good laugh.
After a while she caught him looking at her, a contemplative expression on his face.
‘What?’ she asked.
He just looked away, and she could see something very similar to a sneer on his lips.
‘What?’ she repeated.
‘You tell me I behave badly?’ he snapped. ‘Are you deliberately attempting to ruin my day?’
‘Why would I?’ she replied, temporarily distracted by another tilt. ‘Why couldn’t you just own a yacht?’ she moaned.
‘You’re seasick,’ he stated, rather kindly.
‘I’m… yes,’ she admitted. ‘Can we please just turn back? I hate boats!’
Draco did chuckle again, but it wasn’t a mean chuckle. ‘Why didn’t you just tell me you didn’t want to go out in a boat, Ginny?’ he asked.
‘Because I assumed you would have a field day laughing at me!’ she told him sourly.
He made a disbelieving sound. ‘Right. You’ve already accused me of attempting to get you to bed, and now you’re accusing me of laughing at you? According to your impression of me, I’m a hell of a nice date, am I not?’
She cringed. This wasn’t the way the world should be, on a normal day. Draco ought to be the villain in this scenario, not her. ‘You can’t blame me, Draco!’ she protested. ‘I did know you at school. You were not a nice guy.’
‘Oh, I forgot,’ he said mockingly. ‘The world is divided into saints and devils.’ He looked scornfully at her. ‘So what’s this, then? You got a thing for bad guys?’
‘Why did you ask me out, then?’ she threw back at him. ‘Last time we met, you called my family blood-traitors.’
‘I think this date might just turn out worse than dinner with Cassiopeia,’ Draco drawled.
‘We can just turn back,’ Ginny replied heavily. ‘I won’t force you to spend time with me.’ Somehow it came out more… touchy-sounding than she had intended.
‘I promised you a date,’ Draco said, smiling rather insincerely at her. He tapped the wheel again and the boat lost speed, instead drifting slowly. Unfortunately this made the movements even more unnatural in Ginny’s mind. Now the damn boat rocked back and forth slightly with every wave.
He got up and walked past her, opening the door into the cabin.
Ginny just stared at him. He couldn’t seriously intend the date to continue, right? Why on earth would he want that? The mood was hostile, at best, and he seemed offended, again.
‘Well?’ Draco said, after they had stared at each other for what felt like a minute or two.
‘Well, I’d like you to get me to shore, Malfoy,’ she snapped. ‘Like I said, I don’t like boats.’
He raised one eyebrow challengingly. ‘And I have a day on the bay planned. But you are free to wait out here while I eat lunch.’ With that he turned his back on her, walking in the door.
‘Hey!’ she yelled, unable to believe him. ‘You can’t force me to stay here! Turn the boat back in, or I’ll hex you!’
He turned slowly, and shrugged one shoulder. ‘Fine. But, just so you know, Weasley, this boat can only be steered by a Malfoy. You’ll still be stuck out here.’
She had no choice but to believe him. And even if he had lied, she had no clue how he steered the boat. So she really was stuck here with him. Draco extended his hand to her, as if they were still on friendly terms. Or perhaps it was old habit. She couldn’t be too sure. Ignoring it, she hurried past him, at once noticing the abrupt change. Nothing moved in here. Whatever spell had been put on the room made it seem as if she had her feet on solid ground once more.
‘Better?’ he asked. She turned around to look at him. Again, he smirked.
‘Yes. If only the company would also improve, I’d be thrilled,’ Ginny said in a mock-sweet voice.
He merely motioned towards a table, and she noticed it was decked with lunch for two in much the same style as his ‘picnic’ table had been. Resigned to playing along she sat down, and tried her best to ignore him while she ate the gnocchi he served as the first course. After eating two courses in a heavy silence, she felt like screaming at the arrival of dessert.
‘Torta Caprese,’ he said shortly, introducing the dish. She assumed he did it out of old habit as well.
‘Why?’ she blurted. Why would he insist on eating lunch? He obviously wasn’t exactly having a good time.
He raised his eyebrows. ‘I happen to like Torta Caprese,’ he said, his expression telling her he knew that wasn’t what she was asking.
She had to fight back a smile. ‘Fine,’ she said. ‘Now that you’ve had it your way, is this date over? It’s been a disaster, in case you haven’t noticed.’
‘Really, Ginny?’ he replied. ‘And here I thought we were doing great.’
His sarcastic remarks are not funny, she told herself, but that didn’t prevent the slight smile from escaping this time. ‘Why, Draco?’ she pressed. ‘Why on earth did you ask me out in the first place, and why do you insist on keeping up the charade?’
He narrowed his eyes a little, taking a sip of wine. ‘Fine,’ he replied at last. ‘I asked you out because I was… bored. And you seemed - er - inclined to agree.’ How did he manage to make it sound like an insult that she had liked him ? It had to be a special skill of his. ‘And I keep up the charade because I want to know why you agreed.’
‘Temporary insanity?’ Ginny suggested.
He snorted. ‘So it is just a thing for bad-guys?’ he asked. ‘You found Potter lacking, so you wanted to try something new?’
‘Behave!’ she told him sternly. ‘I have no such ‘thing.’ Although I can clearly see that I must have been delusional to agree.’
‘Charming,’ Draco sneered, leaving her to go outside. She had no idea whether he steered the boat back to the pier, but she could only assume he did.
After a while, she followed him outside, only to see the empty horizon behind them. She hoped that meant they were heading for land. ‘So you asked me out because you were bored?’ she asked. How insulting!
He met her eyes. ‘That’s wrong, too, is it?’ he asked, rather wearily. ‘At least I admitted to finding your company entertaining. I believe you told me you were delusional?’
Did he have to be so touchy? He really got offended… well, every time she tried to offend him. ‘I assumed you wanted to pass the time a little more intimately,’ she replied.
Draco grinned. ‘I would have accepted, if you had offered,’ he said casually. ‘No doubt you will blame me for that, too.’ Somehow, she didn’t. At least he was honest about it.
‘Are we heading back to port?’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ he said, pointing up ahead. She could see the bay there.
‘And I do not think the world is divided into saints and devils,’ she objected rather inconsequentially. ‘I just prefer not to follow delusional maniacs attempting for world domination.’
‘So would I,’ he replied, so low she almost imagined she hadn’t heard it. When he met her eyes they were the same as always, but he somehow looked older than he normally did. She had to remind herself that he had lost friends in the battle, too - even if she might count said friends as enemies. Was he sorry they had lost? Or relieved? From what Harry said, Draco had felt Voldemort’s anger in person. He did not seem the type to like taking orders from anyone - least of all someone likely to kill him any day.
‘I didn’t mean to act like a hag,’ she offered. ‘I just feel like I should hate you.’
‘Yes, I’m the enemy, am I not?’ he replied mockingly, somehow making the boat position itself by the pier without effort. He reached out his hand, helping her onto the pier, and she held on a little longer than she had to, a weak offering of truce.
‘I’ll see you around, Ginny,’ Draco said.
‘I’m going to the beach tomorrow, if you want to stalk me,’ Ginny said over her shoulder, walking away from what had oddly enough not really been such a horrible date, after all. Clearly, I am actually delusional, she mused.
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