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Unraveling by twiddlekinks
Chapter 1: Ribbon by twiddlekinks
Author's Notes:
For tudorrose via the DGFicExchange 2006! :) Prompt is listed at the end of the story.

Title: Unraveling
Rating: Not Naughty
Possible Spoilers/Warnings: None. As long as you know who Draco, Ginny, Luna, and Ron are, you'll be fine.
Summary: Introspection is an art. Features bickering, bantering, and an unraveling.
Note:This fic could take place any time, really.


-*-

Unraveling

-*-


The boy looks down at the slip of cloth in his hands. Normally, he would not deign to touch such a trifle. But this scrap ... it smells of home. No, not really "home." To him, Malfoy Manor holds that title, full of dark and dank and danger. This knotted piece of fabric whispers of sunshine, memories, and hope.

He scoffs at his own folly, and walks down the hall. But he doesn't throw away this piece, or its illicit murmur. After all, a bit of happiness might come in handy. Someday.


-*-


The girl is laughing. It's not the polite twitter that he's accustomed to; instead, he hears roaring guffaws echoing down the halls. Masking his surprise, his seemingly indolent eyes flick towards her. "Weasley," he states, "You sound like a hyena."

She looks at him, blinks twice, and snorts. "Malfoy," she replies. "At least I know how to laugh." She quickly turns to her blond googly-eyed friend, utters another short burst of aural joy, and scampers down the corridor. Her long braid waves at him, tauntingly. Her white ribbon mocks him, a false salute of surrender.

He realizes later that he forgot to take any points. Bloody Gryffindors. That night, he tries to work out the snarls in his gnarled cloth, and gives up in frustration.


-*-


The girl is laughing again. She seems to do that often. How can such a person be so full of happiness, when he is utterly lacking? He can't stand it.

"Weasley," he bites out. "Cut the infernal chatter. Some of us are trying to study."

She sniffs, and smiles easily. "Ah, and some of us are trying to breathe, Malfoy. Why don't you take your pungent self elsewhere?"

Whoever allowed such a raucous rodent coterie into existence? They should all be squashed. Those and other ungracious thoughts rush through his light-headed mind. Then, instead of indulging in the spitfire, he gathers himself regally and declares, "Weasley, this is French cologne. I'm not surprised that a pauper like you can't recognize its obvious worth."

Her nose wrinkles. "At least I've got sense enough to not waste my money. Expensive or no, the scent... ah... doesn't quite fit you. Nor anyone, for that matter. Except perhaps a dung heap." She tilts her head and looks at him appraisingly. "Actually... it might be rather fitting, after all. You're full of shit, Malfoy." And with that, she tosses her hair, picks up her books, and wanders away. This time, her ribbon's woven through the red.

Jolted, startled, and not a little surprised, one of the richest boys in the wizarding world stares after one of the poorest girls. Then he shakes his head and mutters, "Weasleys. I know that they're dirty scum, but who would've thought they'd have matching mouths?" He clenches his fist. "And why didn't I think of that witty repartee earlier?" In his pocket, fingers meet the still-twisted fabric, and he sighs. He pastes an arrogant look on his handsome features, gathers his books, and strolls off to take a shower.

Afterwards, when facing the difficult choice of choosing an eau de cologne, he drops the French brand into his waste basket. He's never really liked it, anyway.


-*-


He successfully manages to outmaneuver the overwhelming fawning girls at his table, and almost tiptoes out of the Great Hall. But Malfoys never tiptoe. As he hurriedly, quietly strolls along, he crashes into a flurry of red hair, pulled into a ponytail.

"Oof!"

"Watch where you're going, Weasley!" He brushes off an invisible speck of dirt. "If you soil my robes, I'll have to make you clean them. But wait -- you touching them would probably just make them even dirtier. They'd match that mouth of yours." He's oddly pleased with himself.

She raises an eyebrow. "And, to think -- I almost apologized for running into you. But I think I'll save my sorry's for someone who'd actually deserve them. You, ferret, are sorry enough as it is."

She whirls away in a dash of red, gold, and warmth. He's left standing there, once again staring after her retreating form. ...Retreating? Not quite the right word for that one. He grimaces. He really enjoys submissive women much more, and he definitely hates red hair.

If only that were true. The tiniest part of him admires her energy, even as he's cut by her sharp wit. He immediately looks for something to distract such unwelcome thoughts, and starts untangling, yet again.


-*-


He sees her later, over supper. While French-braiding her friend's hair, the looney Ravenclaw ties in a bow and murmurs about jabberwockies. The other girl laughs. "Oh, Luna. I'm guessing that if we did gyre and gimble in the wabes, it'd probably end up with us starkers."

"Starkers, Weasley?" He can't help but break into the conversation. "Are you instilling a new dress code?"

She flushes, for once, but, before he can enjoy it, her blonde friend directs a cool gaze in his direction. "That was actually our original dress code, Malfoy. The ancient tribes of Scarletyanks called it a 'birthday suit.' Sadly, the jabberwocky can't be attracted through such ancient tactics." She peers at him a tad more closely. "It seems that you would enjoy it, though." She shakes her head. "Silly boys."

He's somewhat flabbergasted, and the redhead grins at her friend. He retreats, beleaguered with sudden inadmissible images. Later, he realizes that he has bigger and more pressing issues to mull over, and there really isn't a need to focus on one chortling Gryffindor, naked or no. He can't afford to lose his drive. But, even as he thinks this, the darkness recedes. All of his worries fade into her smile.

If only that smile were directed at him. He quickly pulls out the bit of cloth and manages to waylay his wayward thoughts. The material is getting less and less tangled, and he is getting less and less impatient.


-*-


"Button that up, or put another shirt on right now. I can see your soul!"

Despite her brother's adamant commands, the girl laughs. "Ron, really. I'm perfectly adept at taking care of myself, and that includes getting dressed." She finishes tying the ribbon in her hair, and then pats him on the head. "Thanks for the concern, though. Really."

From his vantage point, the boy sullenly watches. And agrees, for once, with her brother. But, unlike the other boy, he likes what he sees.

His fingers twist about the long, slim cloth in his pocket. It's finally free.


-*-


As she scampers off one day, he sees something fall from her hair. It's white and thin and oddly familiar. But he's too distracted by her constricted look. Where is the laughter?

And why does he care?


-*-


Usually, her scarlet tresses are tastefully managed, but on this day, they tumble about her face in free-falling curls. He stares at her outside, by the lake. For once, there are no walls enclosing them. There are no real boundaries here, in the purity of air. He takes a breath, and taps her on the shoulder.

Her head whips around, and then she glares at him. "Malfoy. What do you want?" To his surprise, tears are streaming down her face. She's almost human.

He shakes his head. "Your hair was in your face, Weasley." She almost retorts scathingly, and then looks at his proffered hand. He's holding a torn white ribbon.

She looks at him through her tears, and manages a shaky smile. "Thanks."

She takes the gift, and he sits beside her. He realizes that he hasn't really ever given someone something so freely before. Especially something that spoke of so much freedom, even if it's just an unraveled piece of fabric. And then, as he waits beside her, he catches her scent. It whispers of sunshine and memories.

He takes another breath, and dares to hope.


-*-

Prompt:
1. BRIEFLY describe what you’d like to receive: A D/G fic in which there is a fair amount of banter, bickering, and UST. More character-driven than plot-driven.
The tone/mood of the fic: Dark, or at least realistically gritty. Doesn't have to be entirely GLOOM & DOOM, but no ice cream and bunnies, please.
A theme/element/line of dialogue/object you want in your fic: At least a cameo by Luna, and a mention of a torn white hair ribbon.
Canon of AU? Canon. Canon. Canon. (But you may disregard HBP if you hate it awfully. Just not more AU than that.)
Rating of the fic you want: Anything at all!
Deal breakers (what don’t you want): Suicidal Draco or Ginny. Lots and lots of dead characters. Yuck. :-(

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^_^


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