He could feel her eyes on him. Ever since the first night back she had been watching him- at meals, in between classes, and even the first Hogsmeade weekend of the new term. She hadn’t said anything to him of course, and he hadn’t asked her why she was watching him. Sometimes he even saw her eyes in his dreams.
Rich chocolate brown eyes that were both accusing and pitiful. He never knew which Ginny Weasley he would see when he lifted his head to meet her eyes.
The first time he met her gaze was on the Hogwarts Express on September first. He was coming back from the loo and they passed each other in the corridor. He half expected her to start throwing insults and accusations; that’s certainly what her brother Weasel would have done. Instead she raised her head a little in defiance and turned her fiery eyes on his icy steel ones in a battle of wills. She never said a word or threatened to hex him but he imagined they held a whole conversation in that one glance.
When he returned to his empty compartment he couldn’t forget the way she had looked at him. She was disappointed in him. Well what should he care if the youngest scrawny little Weasel was disappointed in him? The whole damn world was disappointed in him, all of them for different reasons. He resolved to not think about her again and for the rest of the train ride he made good on his promise.
That lasted until he met her gaze across the pitifully empty Great Hall while McGonagall was giving Dumbledore’s old welcome speech. This time he found sorrow in her eyes. She haunted him as he wearily made his way to the empty seventh year boys’ dormitory, and plagued his troubled sleep.
He woke the next morning with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. He had felt this emotion only once before in his entire life so it took him a moment to recognize it: guilt. His actions were at least partly responsible for putting the sadness in those eyes.
He took to watching her in return. He learned to name each different sort of look she gave him. Yes, he learned a lot about little Ginny Weasley each time she turned upon him. Sometimes her lips would purse, or curve into a smile, or set into a deep frown. A few times he caught her wrinkling her brow or worrying her lower lip. Those things also gave him clues about her, but the really telling part about her was her eyes. She had the most expressive eyes he had ever seen.
She had happy smiles and warm eyes for Longbottom. Sometimes she looked at Thomas with regret in her eyes. When she looked at Creevey, the elder one, he saw amusement there. Always when she looked at him, though, there was sadness and pity.
After two weeks he couldn’t take it anymore. He was growing tired of her wordless accusations. So one morning after breakfast he accosted her when she was on the way to Charms. It wasn’t difficult. He hid in a dark alcove outside the Great Hall and suddenly appeared in her path. She started and nearly dropped her books.
“Malfoy! Get out of my way you pillock.” This time there was anger burning in her eyes.
Trying to appear casual he crossed his arms over his chest and observed her in what he hoped appeared to be a shrewd manner.
She sighed, hefting her bag higher over one shoulder and trying to go around him. He moved in front of her way. She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms in the same indifferent manner that he had only moments before.
“Let’s have it then. What do you want?”
“Stop watching me,” was the first thing that came to mind. Another roll of her eyes.
“Is that all? You have it then, now move out of my way.”
Well that was just too easy. She waved her arms around in exasperation, motioning for him to move. She went to reach around his body to forcefully remove him from her path, but one of his hands shot out and grabbed hold of her wrist. He pulled her close and leaned down toward her face so that they were at eye level.
Now she was looking at him with trepidation and maybe a little fear. He relinquished his hold on her but only a little. They were so close he could see the golden flecks in her eyes reflecting off the sunlight.
“What do I have to do, Weasley? You think you’re so bloody righteous, judging me with those eyes of yours. You have no idea of what’s happened to me.”
She levelled a stare at him. “My heart bleeds.” She was gritting her teeth, no doubt trying to control that brutish temper of hers.
He released her with a shove, putting some distance between them.
“You have no right,” he told her, grinding his own teeth together in anger. He didn’t wait for her response to turn and walk away.
He tried to ignore her, not really caring anymore if she watched him or not. It seemed that one confrontation had cleansed him of the nervousness he felt when her gaze rested upon him. He was starting to feel like his old self again, the one who didn’t care what people thought of him.
Now he was simply curious. Before his fifth year he had never thought of the girl that watched him as anything other than a Weasley. He looked down upon her shabby clothes and humble upbringing with a sneer on his face and the knowledge that his own life was so much better. He had not one thought of her until she cursed him at the end of his fifth year. That’s when he began to suspect her hidden strength.
Briefly at the beginning of his sixth year, before he became too engrossed in his fumbling plot to kill Dumbledore, he noted that Professor Slughorn had taken an interest in her. His own family’s wealth and power did not appeal to the podgy Potions professor, but the youngest Weasley was judged to be more favourable even though she had no money and lived in a hovel. That had stung.
Now, as he studied her more in depth, without the mountain trolls Potter and Weasel around, she became an entity in her own right, separated from the trio that he hated so much. Sometimes when he looked in her eyes he saw hints of darkness there and he wondered at that. It was the same type of look he had seen in the eyes of powerful wizards – his father, Snape, Dumbledore – that had seen what Dark magic could do. Perhaps that was why she watched him also.
He only caught glimpses of it. One minute she was staring after some unseen manifestation, off in her own little world and then she blinked back to reality and it was gone. He was intrigued by it; intrigued by her.
One morning when she had arrived early for Potions and he was just leaving, a second year Hufflepuff’s book bag split open, spewing ink and parchment all across the corridor. With the knowledge that she was watching he felt compelled prove that he was not the cold, heartless bastard she thought he was.
Without hesitation he moved swiftly towards the unfortunate child and began to help gather his wayward possessions. The boy must not have heard of his infamous reputation when he handed him the parchments and broken bottles of ink he proceeded to utter words of gratitude. After throwing a grateful smile towards him the smaller boy hurried in the opposite direction.
When he turned to seek her reaction he saw amusement dancing in her eyes. He gave her a cheeky grin as if to say ‘See’, and was rewarded with a brilliant smile, one of the ones she usually reserved for someone like Longbottom or Lovegood. It caused a fluttery feeling inside of his chest.
From that point on he made it his mission to do noble deeds in her presence. He wasn’t sure exactly why he felt compelled to have her in his good graces, or even that it was remotely possible. He only knew that every time she smiled at him with laughter dancing in her eyes he felt just a little bit lighter.
Sometimes now, months after she had first turned those eyes on him, they sat together quietly in the library doing schoolwork. They never exchanged many words, but he didn’t need them. Her eyes told him all that he needed to know.
And she was watching him now across the table where their books and parchment was spread. He could always tell without looking up but he was curious as to what he would find when he did meet her gaze. When he looked in her eyes this time he felt like he had been punched in the gut and he had to suck in a deep breath of air. He felt the foreign sensation of moisture pooling at the edges of his eyes, but he didn’t even care.
She was looking at him with an expression on her face that he never thought he would see again. It was the same way that Dumbledore had looked at him just as he had been about to lower his wand and accept the forgiveness in the former Headmaster’s twinkling eyes. Now when he looked at her, he found something that he hadn’t known he was seeking but accepted it with gratitude all the same. It was redemption.