She stares at him, brown eyes angry.
He ignores her and slides his arm around the leggy brunette’s waist, bending his head closer to her ear and whispering some choice words. He receives a giggle and flirtatiously coy look in return.
His eyes are opaque and impassive; his face is stoic and inexpressive. She sees this, and she glares back at him. The brunette, however, does not and is too focused on his whispers of sweetly worded yet emotionlessly delivered nothings.
He can sense her aggravation building, and he is gleeful.
“Malfoy,” she says impatiently, finally cutting in when the brunette curled her hand behind his neck. “As you’ve quite obviously forgotten, you’re supposed to be tutoring me, not wasting my time.”
“Oh, be quiet. And reverse that last statement,” snipes the brunette. “You’re wasting Draco’s time…and mine. Pity you’re too stupid to understand Potions correctly, otherwise you wouldn’t be here taking up our time. And yours, I suppose,” she adds on an afterthought, “though I don’t see what else someone like you could have to do besides homework. Quite the pathetic little thing, aren’t you?”
She was seething, he observes. She splutters, “You – ”
He cuts her off smoothly. “She’s got a point, unfortunately. Snape wants me to tutor her. If she doesn’t show an improvement, he’ll likely speak with me about it. And I’m not going to fail him, even it is about tutoring a Weasley. Wait for me later, Jocelyn.”
He touches his index finger to her full lips; Jocelyn, the brunette, smiles seductively, her green eyes dark and expectant and anticipating as she nods.
“I’ll wait for you.”
“You know the password to my room?”
She nods again. “Hurry, Draco.”
His gaze moves to her. The redhead. “I will.”
Jocelyn leaves the room, taking with her the smell of flowers and her long, wavy and tumbling russet colored hair. But the sensation of fresh air and indefinite spaces and promise, and the smell of cinnamon remains, along with glorious red hair and a slender figure.
She is staring at him from behind her seat at the table, the open Potions book in front of her. He moves to stand slightly off to the side behind her, studying the page with concentration.
“Well, what do you have a problem with?” he demands irritably. “I’m not going to stay here the entire night.”
“I know,” she says bitterly. “I heard.”
He glances at her coolly, and he wants to ask her if she’s jealous. He wants to ask her if he succeeded. He wants to ask her if she misses him half as much as badly as he misses her – because half of that would be enough for him.
He wants to tell her that he doesn’t require much love or care or kindness. He wants to tell her that it wouldn’t really trouble her to be with him. He wants to tell her that he would make it easy for her to be around him.
Because he would. He will. He will make it so that she’d be happy to see him, happy like he is when he sees her.
He hopes like hell that she will ask him why he’s doing this to her. He wishes she would explode at him – so he could explain. Because then it would be her bringing the subject up, not him, and she wouldn’t see that she’s all he can think of. He doesn’t want her to know that, not when she’s living without him and breathing so easily.
She drove him mad at every breathing moment, and so he took advantage of every moment he met her in the halls and every time he tutored her to drive her to insanity.
“I don’t see why mushrooms are so important for this antidote,” she says flatly, stabbing viciously at a sentence in the book.
He thinks, why won’t you say something? Why won’t you scream at me? That way I could tell you everything.
So he tries to make her angrier.
“The answer should be obvious, Weasley,” he nearly snarls disdainfully, but somehow manages to temper his tone, yet at the same time he allowed his mustered contempt to be clearly heard. “Haven’t you noticed the bloody pattern yet? Poisons and antidotes are invariably connected. The reason why so many people can match a poison to its cure so quickly is usually because there’s a bit of what’s in the poison in the antidote. But I guess you were too daft to even realize that.”
She bites lip, frustrated, but says nothing. Instead, she bends her head over her scrap of creamy parchment and begins to answer the first question.
He leans over her shoulder and criticizes and corrects. And he keeps looking at his watch pointedly.
Finally, she slams her quill down on the table, snapping the tip off and damaging it. Her shoulders are shaking, from anger, he thinks, and relief overwhelms him. Finally, he exulted. He has planned what he is about to say for many nights now.
“Why don’t you just leave, Malfoy,” she says heatedly, “and go to your stupid Jocelyn.”
He opens his mouth eagerly to tell her so many things. Like – I don’t want to go to Jocelyn. I was just using her to see if you still cared because I bloody well couldn’t have guessed otherwise. Like – forgive me, Ginny. I’ve missed you and I swear, I’ll make this work for you, for the both of us. Like – I love you.
But he doesn’t dare say the last time, and before he can even say anything, he realizes stupidly – and too late – that her small, slim body is shaking from the force of her tears, and he freezes.
Yes, he wanted her anger, anger he could handle, but not her hurt.
He stares, torn.
“Ginny…” whispers the silver-eyed, handsomely fair boy with light blond hair.
“Shut up, D-Draco, just shut up,” she snaps, her voice failing her and becoming weak and stammering. She bolts to her feet, cramming her materials back into her bag as quickly as she can. “I’ll be studying with Hermione from now on. She won’t mind, and she’s not as busy now that her Charms exam is finished.”
She wipes her eyes furiously with the back of her hand as she glares defiantly at him in a last attempt to reclaim her anger and put away tears. “I was wrong about you. I was stupid, so stupid. I thought that you – ” She stops and stares at him. “I’m sorry I ever bothered you. I won’t waste your time anymore, or let you suffer in my presence, so go back to J-Jocelyn.”
“No, Ginny, wait,” he calls lamely, his first attempt ever at pleading. “I wanted to tell you – ”
“Save it, Malfoy,” she retorts, “for someone who can stomach your lies. I can’t be around you anymore.”
“Ginny!” He tries to snatch at her sleeve, but she is small and quick and she darts away from him, out of his reach. “I didn’t mean – ”
“Draco. Miss Weasley.” Snape is in the Potions classroom suddenly, a frown on his face, which he directs at the petite redhead clutching her belongings. “I believe your tutoring session has not yet finished.”
She lifts her chin. “I am capable of studying on my own.”
“Your essays and exams state otherwise, and the choice is not yours to make. You will allow Mr. Malfoy to finish tutoring you for another hour, or he will tutor you for the rest of the school year. Beginning tomorrow. You have a Potions test tomorrow, and if you don’t achieve a satisfactory score, I will ask Mr. Malfoy to lend his spare time for the rest of the school year. Am I clear, Miss Weasley?”
He wonders frantically, which he would rather prefer, and decides that he hopes she’ll walk away.
She looks at him, and something changes in her eyes. For a moment, he is caught up in his hope and dreams and desires, and he abandons logic and reason and his analytical mind; he offers her a smile.
Walk away…I’ll help you tomorrow tonight and on Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons and nights. You’ll pass Potions, I swear. But walk away from me…
She doesn’t. She sets her things back down again. Her books and papers blur before her, and she opens the wrong book, half expecting Snape to say something derisive and condescending.
But the Potions teacher has already left, leaving her alone with him.
He stares at her, his face fallen and unexpectedly exposed, bared open by his pain. She would do anything to stay away from him, he thinks numbly, and his smile fades.
And he wonders why he’s still breathing.
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