Disclaimer: Canon characters do not belong to me.
Chapter Twelve – Crowd Me With Love
March passed into April with a flurry of torrential rain that mirrored exactly the way Draco was feeling. He’d been avoiding the music, not even allowing himself to play because it reminded him of her. He’d always been able to distance himself from things before, but this was different. The feelings…no they weren’t feelings…pangs in his chest every time he heard some stray strand of melody or intoxicating rhythm just begging to put into his composition did nothing to soothe his frazzled state.
It was disgusting, he told himself, that he should be so thoroughly shaken by some girl. Detachment – hadn’t that been what father had always prided him on? One couldn’t very well carry on with frivolous things like emotions; emotions were for the weak-spirited. Draco had taken on a dangerous job during the war. Spying was not to be taken lightly, and he hadn’t even had the Order to confide in like Snape had. No one had known of Draco’s duplicity except for Snape and Dumbledore, as they thought if Snape was somehow caught, they would at least have someone on the inside and the less people that knew it, the more advantage they had.
So Draco had submerged himself in the shark tank with the scent of blood all over him. It took him some time to properly disengage, but when he did, he mastered it. The Death Eaters could not touch his deceitful mind. He was like an impenetrable fortress. But even the most heavily guarded places have weaknesses, and Draco’s fašade had come crumbling down one fateful day. He had managed to escape, but only just, and since then he had been at Hogwarts.
It all felt so long ago, though it was really only about a year and half, and Draco sometimes even wondered if it had happened at all. Everything was so different now.
He walked down the hallway, making his way to Snape’s dungeon classroom. Snape had requested that Draco help him reorganize his stores and replenish anything if need be. A frown came unbidden to his lips; potions were a fantastic distraction – or at least they used to be. He was startled out of his musings when someone roughly bumped him on their way past.
“Pardon me, mate.” Charlie’s smarmy tone was enough to make Draco want to forego his wand and punch the disgusting prat square on the jaw. But that was hardly detachment, so Draco just ignored him and continued walking.
“What? Got nothing to say, have you?” Charlie said, scoffing.
Draco turned around slowly, raising one amused eyebrow. “Look at that, your jealousy is showing, Lovett. Can I help it if your possessive vice-grip was no match for my considerable charm?”
Charlie’s eyes narrowed menacingly. “Maybe Ginny thinks you’re a gentleman, but you are as transparent as a ghost. I can see right through you, you slimy git, and when you hurt Ginny, just know that I’ll take care of you before the first tear falls.”
“My, my, that was almost poetry, Lovett. You ought to try that on Weasley, as your manhandling didn’t seem to make her weak at the knees.”
Charlie took out his wand. “Consider yourself warned, Malfoy. Stay away from Ginny.”
“Will do, Lovett,” Draco answered, winking. Then he spun around and started walking towards Snape’s classroom again, scowl firmly in place. How dare that little sod presume to threaten him? No wonder Ginny had pitched him; he was volatile and dangerous. Draco made a mental note to warn Ginny about him…and then furiously erased it. She didn’t need his help.
“Did you just pick up this habit, or have you always talked to yourself, Draco?” his godfather asked, reaching out a hand to draw the distracted youth into the classroom before he passed it by completely.
Ginny, Jordi, and Elizabeth were in the library studying feverishly for the upcoming N.E.W.Ts; or, more likely, Jordi and Elizabeth were studying feverishly and Ginny was lost in thoughts of Draco.
“I just don’t get it,” she broke in, exasperated, to Elizabeth and Jordi’s argument over the correct way to pronounce the Patronus charm. “For all that’s happened, how can he still be so stupidly stubborn?”
Jordi and Elizabeth exchanged a glance, and then Elizabeth said, “Ginny, this is Malfoy we’re talking about. That is the kind of person he’s always been.”
“I know, but if you could have just seen him. It was, Merlin, it was heart-breaking.”
Jordi smirked at Elizabeth. “He has been walking around like a bleeding storm cloud, taking away points from random Gryffindors. And earlier today, I was in Snape’s classroom helping him brew some blood-replenishing potion for Pomfrey when Draco walked by. Snape dragged him into the classroom, and well, quite unceremoniously kicked me out when Draco started ranting about a certain red-haired sprite who ‘won’t bloody leave me the hell alone!’ or something to that effect.”
“You were alone with Snape!” and “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier, Jordi!” issued simultaneously from the two other girls. Jordi just laughed at their expressions and turned her attention to her Charms theory practice N.E.W.T.
“Jordi Moira Walsh, you tell me right this instant what you were doing alone in Snape’s classroom?”
“Oh sod that Liz, Jordi, tell me what Draco said!”
“N.E.W.Ts, ladies, remember? It’s April now, we have barely a month and half before the exams start.”
“You’re insufferable! Tell me Jordi, please?” Ginny wheedled. Jordi rolled her eyes, but laughed.
“Well Draco was talking to himself out in the hall and Snape pulled him into the room. Draco said hi to me and then he sat there like a petulant little child for a few minutes while Snape and I distilled the Murtlap essence, and then Draco yelled out ‘How do you do it?’ Snape glared at him for disturbing us because you know how quiet it has to be when you’re making potions. Then Draco said, ‘no, really, how can you stand it? Day after day, doesn’t it just eat away at you?’ Snape glanced over at me, and I pretended that I wasn’t really paying attention. He got up and walked over to Draco, and then Draco said ‘she won’t bloody leave me the hell alone and I can’t get the sight of her out of my head!’ Well, that’s when Snape glared me out the door, so I wasn’t able to hear anymore of it.”
Ginny was speechless. Elizabeth squealed, which earned them a loud shush from the librarian. Jordi just smiled at Ginny’s reaction. Then, Ginny stood up and said, “I have to go.”
Jordi waved as Ginny left and then turned back to her friend to explain just exactly what she was doing alone with Snape in a classroom. “Really, Lizzie, I was just giving him a hand with replenishing his stores…”
Rationalizing that he would never be able to forget her if that siren song didn’t leave his head, Draco drew the sheet music for his composition out of his pockets, studiously ignoring that he’d been carrying it with him, and sat down to work it out. He was nearly finished with the piece, or at least, he presumed to be nearly finished. Sometimes the muse led him in unexpected places.
Minutes ticked away into hours, but the time was not spent idly. Draco looked down at his composition with barely disguised glee; it was quite possibly the greatest thing he had ever accomplished musically. Not quite finished, he still had minor kinks to work out of it, and of course he had to compose the ending. But he was exceedingly proud of himself. Draco glanced around the room and, thoroughly satisfied that he was completely alone, tucked his pencil behind his ear (though he would never admit that he used something so unabashedly Muggle to compose with), pushed his glasses up on top of his head and got up to stretch his aching limbs.
“Bit by bit, putting it together,” he sang quietly to himself, “piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.”
“So, you like Sondheim too?” Ginny asked as she stepped into the room.
Draco paused in his pacing and turned around to stare down the intruder. “He’s a brilliant composer. The things he does with timing and rhythm are nothing short of--”
“Magic?” Ginny finished for him. Then she changed the subject. “How are you?” she asked casually.
“Fine,” he answered. “Did you need something?” he asked sardonically, wishing she would just go away. If he didn’t have to see her, then he could detach; it was really quite simple, if only she’d comply with her end.
“It’s Saturday night – time for practice. I have a lot I want to work on,” she said, ensuring that her meaning would not be lost on him.
Draco rolled his eyes and began to walk over to the piano. “Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to save it for another day. I was ensured privacy by the Headmaster, and privacy is what I will get.”
“Nice try,” Ginny said, “but you aren’t getting rid of me that easily, Draco. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Ginny, look, I already told you how I felt, and it isn’t going to change just because you want it to.”
“And I already told you that I refuse to accept your lame reasoning,” she said, a very Slytherin smirk playing at her lips.
Merlin, she is a firecracker, he thought, and he smiled unconsciously. Ginny noticed it and her smirk changed into a genuine smile. “What was that song you were playing before I came in? It was beautiful.”
Draco had to shake off the urge to ignore her question and just kiss her with reckless abandon. He frowned and ordered himself to disengage. It was so easy to do amongst Death Eaters, even in front of his father; why couldn’t he do it for a little girl?
“It’s just something I’ve been working on. Not quite finished yet,” he admitted, reluctantly.
“Well I rather like it,” she said, and then she walked over and sat down on the piano bench.
“Thank you,” he replied, trying to convince himself that no, he was not walking over to the piano, he was not sitting down next to her, he was certainly not playing for her, and he most definitely was not enjoying her singing.
There’s a somebody I’m longing to see
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone to watch over me
Won’t you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh how I need
Someone to watch over me
“I thought you wanted me to go away,” she teased, when the song had finished.
“I did – and still do, Weasley,” he said quietly, ignoring the fact that he began playing again.
Ginny placed on hand on his, stilling it on the keys. He vaguely thought that he should move, but he didn’t. Ginny, encouraged, took his hand into hers, and he didn’t let go.
“People don’t change, Ginny, not just because you want them to,” he said, quietly.
Ginny sighed. “You have. I don’t understand why you won’t admit it, Draco, but you have changed.”
Draco didn’t answer. He started to get up, but Ginny gripped his arm, stopping him.
“Don’t walk away again,” she said quietly, fixing him with an intense stare.
“Give up, Ginny!” he exploded, suddenly, disengaging from her grip. He walked a few feet away. “Just give up already. Don’t you understand that it will never ever work?”
Ginny closed her eyes for a second after his outburst. “You’re probably right,” she answered. Draco looked stricken until she continued. “But why don’t we try anyway?”
Draco didn’t say anything. He just walked slowly back to the piano and sat down, beginning to play something.
Ginny did not recognize the modern melody, and if it had words, she didn’t know them. But as soon as Draco had pierced her with that longing stare of his, the music seemed to invade her every pore and she began to sing the thoughts in her head.
Pride can stand a thousand trials
The strong will never fail
But watching stars without you
My soul cried
Heaving heart is full of pain
Oh, oh the aching
‘Cuz I’m kissing you, oh
I’m kissing you, oh
Touch me deep, pure and true
Give to me forever
‘Cuz I’m kissing you, oh
I’m kissing you, oh
The song reached an instrumental interlude and Ginny took the opportunity to knock down Draco’s walls. He had said that he loved the way she just wouldn’t leave him alone. Well, she wasn’t about to leave him alone any time soon. She stood behind him, muttered a charm to remove the gel from his hair, and then slid her hands in to give him a head massage, fingers drifting casually around from behind his ears to the nape of his neck and up to the crown of his head. With no trace of gel, she was surprised to find that his hair was actually quite curly. He shivered from the light caresses, but then he tried to twist out of her touch. She stopped him by starting to sing again.
Where are you now?
Where are you now?
‘Cuz I’m, oh I’m kissing you
I’m kissing you oh, oh!
Ginny finally disengaged her fingers, as her final beautiful note died out on the air. Draco slowly spun around on the piano bench until he was facing her, an unreadable look on his face, but Ginny refused to waver.
“I’m not going to leave you alone. I can be just as stubborn as you are,” she said quietly. Draco continued to look up at her, eyes unfathomable. Ginny stared back, and said with unflinching honesty, “I want only you, and I think I always have.”
Draco put a hand up to his mouth and appeared to the think deeply for a moment. Millions of thoughts ran through his head, millions of reasons why he should just get up and walk away, but he didn’t. He stood up abruptly, towering over Ginny. He drew her into his arms and lifted her up so that she was eye to eye with him. “I guess I can’t fight forever.”
Ginny smiled and then threw her head back, laughing almost giddily. “I claim this victory for Gryffindor,” she said cheekily, as Draco set her down gingerly and looked deeply into her eyes. He was almost surprised by the warmth coming from them. She was so receptive, and he could tell just from touching her that she was meant for him and for him alone. But still, he had to be certain.
“Ginny, are you sure?”
“I’ve never been surer about anything.”
Draco looked her up and down and then smiled, the most real and honest smile he ever had. He placed a hand under her chin and tilted her head up. She stood on tiptoe and met his lips eagerly, unable to suppress a sigh of contentment. Draco smiled against her mouth and then lifted her up again. She wrapped her legs around his waist to give him better leverage, and he backed them up until they were pressed against the wall. He kissed her soundly. He felt unrestrainedly, unbelievably, almost unbearably good.
After about five minutes of blissful snogging, Draco pulled away and set Ginny down again. He stepped away to increase the distance between them. “I shouldn’t have let that happen,” he said quietly.
Ginny’s eyes widened. “And why not? I thought I made myself clea--”
“Well, for starters, I promised Lovett I’d stay away from you,” he interrupted, eyes twinkling with mirth. “I do believe I am now doomed to die by his wand,” he added dramatically.
“You are absolutely wicked!” she cried, running to close the distance back up. He caught her with a laugh and dipped her low. She lifted her head to kiss him. Then he straightened her again.
“As much fun as we’re having, I think you should get back to your dorm. It’s getting late and I expect those friends of yours are just waiting to hear the latest part of this saga.”
Ginny sighed, but took his hand, leading him out of the room. “Walk me back,” she said. He smirked and slipped an arm around her waist.
They walked the short way back to Gryffindor Tower in companionable silence, as neither really knew what to say. Ginny paused in front of the portrait of the Fat Lady and said, “I have a request.”
“Tomorrow, I need you to prove to me that this really happened. I don’t care how; just do it.” Then, she pressed a quick kiss to his lips, said the password, and disappeared through the portrait hole. Sure enough, Jordi and Elizabeth were waiting just inside the common room. Elizabeth fairly dragged Ginny into the room and off to their dorm, practically bursting to see what had happened.
Draco walked back to his quarters in a distracted daze. When he reached his bedroom, he ran a hand through his gel-less, curly hair and smiled. He knew exactly how he would prove it to her the next day. He fell into his bed and, for the first time in months, slept soundly.
Note: Chapter title is from Being Alive from Sondheim's COMPANY. The little snippet Draco sang is Putting It Together from Sondheim’s SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE. Someone to Watch Over Me belongs to George and Ira Gershwin. I’m Kissing You belongs to Des’ree.
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