Draco Malfoy was not prone to pausing to help a crying female. His life was one of self-absorbed pleasure and a sobbing mess of red hair and freckles was not likely to add to that pleasure. Unfortunately, this sobbing female just happened to have been huddled on the floor right where he had been planning to walk, and it was quite difficult to ignore someone who had just made him trip.
Cursing in surprise, Draco placed his hand against the wall to steady his balance and then glared down at the person who had been so foolish enough as to get in his way. A face, hideously red from crying, peered back at him with a scowl.
"Watch it!" they cried in unison.
Draco straightened to his full height. "Excuse me, but I was not the one sitting in the middle of the hallway."
"I'm not sitting in the middle of the hallway! I'm leaning against the wall, and it's not my problem your big clown feet can't walk in a straight line without tripping over something!"
"Clown feet! I'll have you know that—"
The Weasley girl—Ginny he thought her name was—hid her face back against her knees and covered her hair with her hands. "I don't care, Malfoy! Just go away!"
A crease formed on his brow. It had occurred to him that she was genuinely upset about something, and that something had nothing to do with him. Being the thoughtful boy that he was, he decided to get to the bottom of it ... and tease her remorsefully if he could.
"Something bothering you, Weasley?" he drawled, propping his back against the wall and looking down at her through half-lidded eyes.
Ginny made an odd little sound, almost like a sob, and clutched her hair more tightly. That was when he noticed the flaming red strands, which normally reached down below her waist, had been mutilated into a lopsided mess that barely touched her shoulders. His eyes glittered with all the glee of a torturer who has just found his latest victim.
"Weasley," he said in a voice dripping with mockery, "what have you done to your hair?"
Ginny groaned and released the red strands, raising her face just enough to glower at him. "What do you think, you idiot?"
"I don't know," he responded, and his lips curved into a smirk. "I can't profess to comprehend the minds of plebeians such as yourself; for all I know you might think that travesty you call a hairstyle is actually fashionable. I mean, you dated Potter. That says it all."
The look she gave him would have made a lesser boy flee for the hills. Draco simply folded his arms across his chest and allowed his smirk to grow.
"If you really must know, Malfoy," she retorted, emphasising his name as if it were a particularly foul disease, "I was getting tired of my long hair and, since Lavender often does the girls' hair in our dorms, I asked if she would cut it for me." Her mouth twisted into a scowl. "Of course, I forgot that Lavender is a jealous little toad and would sabotage anything if she thought it would let her get a boy she wanted. My hair is ruined, and now no boy will look twice at me!"
Draco raised an eyebrow. "You actually let that twit Lavender Brown cut your hair?"
Ginny's mouth quivered into a smile. "She's actually quite good, when she's not acting like a jealous—"
"Little toad," Draco finished for her. "I know."
Ginny sighed and buried her face into her knees, clearly upset. Draco considered her for a moment and a rare stab of pity stirred his heart.
"For Salazar's sake, Weasley, stop acting so pathetic," he scolded.
"Excuse me?" she demanded, but Draco ploughed on before she could retaliate.
"Stand up," he ordered.
Ginny glowered at him but still got to her feet. "What?" she snapped, folding her arms.
Draco met her eyes steadily. "This will be much easier if you shut up."
She opened her mouth to retort, but something about the way he raised his eyebrow had her falling silent again. Satisfied, Draco walked in a slow circle around her, examining the jagged and lopsided strands of red hair. He paused when he was half-way and pulled her shoulders back, forcing her to stand straight.
"What the hell do you think are you doing, Malfoy?" Ginny demanded, going a bit red in the face.
Draco told her to be quiet and carried on with his examination. Perhaps it was the absent tone of his voice that assured her he was up to nothing nefarious, or maybe it was just because he was now leaning forward—face inches from her own—and gently pulling on the foremost strands of her fringe to judge the discrepancy in the length. He pursed his lips and let go of her hair. Then he pulled out his wand, aimed it at her hair, and murmured an incantation. Immediately, the tendrils of red began to reshape with a flow of magic—shortening a bit there, lengthening a bit here—and then it all stopped.
The blond stepped back with a smug smile, rather pleased with his handiwork. Who would have thought the littlest Weasley would clean up so well?
"What did you do to me?" Ginny demanded, reaching into her bag for her mirror.
"You can thank me later," he drawled, and turned around to leave.
He had taken barely three steps when there was a squeal from behind him. Suddenly, a small body collided with his back and freckled arms wrapped themselves tight around his middle.
"Oh, thank you!" Ginny breathed, pressing her face into his robe. "It looks gorgeous! I had no idea you knew how to do hair charms."
Draco disengaged himself from her embrace, meeting her glowing brown eyes with wry amusement. "Weasley, I've spent the past six years living with four other Slytherin boys. It would have been foolish not to learn how to fix a bad haircut."
Ginny grinned and leaned up to place a small kiss on his cheek. "Well, I'm grateful anyway."
"I'm flattered, I'm sure."
She laughed and turned to collect the rest of her belongings.
"Weasley," he said suddenly.
"Yes?" she asked, looking back at him from over her shoulder.
"You should keep your hair short." He tugged at one of the red curls. "It looks ... good on you."
Pink blossomed on her cheeks, and she shyly dropped her gaze. Draco smirked. Perhaps this helping people business wasn't so bad, after all. At the very least, there was something to be said for cheering up a sobbing female with red hair and freckles. Especially when she blushed so delightfully.
Yes, Draco thought as he watched the redhead pick up her bag and leave. He could get used to Ginny Weasley.
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