Chapter Four: The Girls of Gryffindor
The buzzing had been going on all afternoon, but it wasn’t until dinner that anyone said anything directly.
"Ginny, what’s all this about a tattoo?"
"Gin-gin, why didn’t you tell me all about how you’ve got tribal markings all over your body?"
"Is it true that you went to America and joined a gang and they marked you with their colors?"
Hermione had retired to their room in order to compile the notes of everything that Madame Malkin had said, so Ginny had gone down to dinner alone. She’d run the gauntlet of comments with a red face and plopped down at the table, only to see Ron sitting next to her and laughing.
"Can you believe these idiots? Thinking you, of all people, would..." Ron looked at his little sister’s flaming cheeks and felt his stomach sink. "Bloody hell. What’ll mum say?"
"She knows about it, Ron. Who do you think authorized it?" Ginny lifted her fork and stiffened her spine, trying to ignore the feeling of being stared at disapprovingly by half the world. Bloody Malfoy. He had to be the one behind this. No one else knew about the damn thing.
Ron was still sputtering when Seamus Finnigan sat down next to Ginny. Very close to Ginny. "Hey, Ginny-luv, show us your ink."
"Er, it’s kinda somewhere awkward." Ginny blushed even harder and struggled against the urge to slump in her chair and attempt to disappear under the table.
Ron, however, was turning purple and giving Seamus a basilisk glare. "Ginny, I absolutely forbid you from showing anyone that... That... Thing. In fact, you should march right up to Madame Pomfrey right now and see if she has a way to remove it."
Ginny’s fork was slammed down onto the table. "Oh, really?"
"Hey, Ginny, can I talk to you about—" If all eyes hadn’t already been on her, they would have been after she stood abruptly, her chair falling to the ground behind her.
"Yes, Colin, let’s go talk." She gave Ron a dangerous look before tossing her head, her braid smacking across his face. "And bring your camera."
Draco Malfoy stared at the plain evidence that he was off his stride, revenge-wise. There, at his spot on the table, was a sheet of newspaper titled "Girls of Gryffindor". Front and center on the page was Ginny Weasley, or at least the back of her, wearing nothing but a low slung pair of trousers that seemed to be made of leather. Her hair was in a loose bun, gathered at the nape of her neck, and she was peeking over her shoulder with a look that could only be called flirtatious. So much for embarrassing her. Now the whole school knew about the phoenix rising from the base of her spine, even if they only saw it in black and white.
Of course, the whole school now also knew that Granger really did possess knockers, as displayed by the picture of her in a corset, and that Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil were on distinctly friendly terms, as judging by the picture of them wearing next to nothing and locked at the lip. Crabbe and Goyle were looking over his shoulders and drooling. "Hey, Draco, where’d you get that?"
"How should I know? It was here." A thought occurred and he switched his attention to the Gryffindor table, anticipating the entertainment that a full-on freakout by the elder Weasley would afford. Unfortunately, there was a distinct lack of male Weasley there, although it seemed like half the male population of Hogwarts was there and drooling over the female one. Where the hell was an overprotective older brother when you needed one? Trust the Weasley prat to shirk his guard dog duties just as the girl really needed someone to keep the slavering masses away. Didn’t he know what boys would be thinking about his sister? Draco caught himself grinding his teeth and resolved to plot a better revenge as soon as the quidditch match was done.
The reason for there being a distinct lack of older brotherness at the breakfast table was because Hermione and Harry had been recruited to keep him distracted and busy until after the match against Slytherin. This had required some fast talking from Harry on the subject of the need for practice. When Ron had absolutely refused to continue flying and demanded to be allowed to go eat, Hermione contributed a picnic basket and doe-eyed looks to the cause. They would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for a meddling kid, who gave the game away while trying to hit on Hermione.
Ron roared his way through the crowds that had gathered at the pitch in time to see Draco Malfoy smack his sister on the bottom and say, "Good luck, Weasel. Try not to lose your shirt in the middle of the match." This was not good.
It didn’t help Ron’s blood pressure in the slightest that her response was to blow Malfoy a kiss and coo, "May the best man win... Which Harry always does."
Draco looked over her shoulder and out came the Malfoy smirk. "Why, it’s Weasel the elder. Here, have some reading material."
As he looked at the news-sheet he’d been tossed, Ron’s eyes went slightly wide, and his body went very still. "Says here that my sister’s single and available. As is Hermione." There was a quivering intensity about him that had those closest to him taking a step back. Hermione folded her arms and looked defiant, and Harry wondered if Ron was going to spontaneously combust.
"Ron? Are we going to play quidditch today or not? I can’t be the only beater on the team." Ginny’s voice sounded a great deal too casual as she mounted her broom.
Ron looked at her blankly, his knuckles tight around the handle of his club. "Right." He turned towards the pitch, then whirled, dropping club and broom. His hands were around Hermione’s upper arms and he gave her a shake before kissing her, hard. Seconds ticked by and Hermione’s eyes fluttered closed as the kiss continued. Eventually he disengaged, holding her at arms length and panting. "You are NOT single."
Hermione nodded dumbly, her hand coming up to her mouth as she stared at him dreamily. He looked at her fiercely and then nodded. "Right." Turning on his heel, he grabbed his club and his broom from Harry, who had picked them up. "Now to kill some Slytherins."
It was not a good day to be male and playing quidditch. Ron and Ginny had always made a good team as beaters, if not as attuned as the twins had been. This time, however, Ron seemed determined to use the bludgers to completely obliterate any player who looked at his sister. Ginny had had to intervene more than once to keep a bludger from going towards their own teammates, and she wondered if perhaps, just maybe, they’d pushed Ron a little too far towards homicidal rage.
The only other person on the pitch who came near to matching his intensity was Malfoy. Normally following traditional wait-and-see seeker strategies, this time he was all over the pitch, almost as if he was pacing while on a broom. He tried to push away all the distracting thoughts, but the more he tried not to think about all that was bothering him, the more he saw the face of that Irish git as he leaned over Ginny at the Gryffindor table. He couldn’t look at girl Weasel without seeing the underwear that had been delivered to him by mistake, and it was driving him insane. And then he heard her scream, "Watch out!"
He looked up to see a bludger coming at him with killing speed, and he barely had time to wrench himself out of its path. He was hanging upside down from his broom and this, of all times, was when he saw the snitch. Potter obviously saw it as well, as he started to dive, but this time, this time Malfoy wouldn’t let him win. With a grunt he pulled his broom downwards, gravity trying to tear him off as the broom’s charm only worked if you were properly mounted. He was closer, so close he could taste it, and he stretched a hand out, his legs clamped on the broom as he stretched and he couldn't reach, so he let go with his other hand and there! His hand closed around the snitch and he felt a rush of air as Potter flew past.
The announcer was screaming, the crowd was on its feet, and Draco Malfoy was still upside down, hanging onto his broomstick only with his legs. He felt someone pull up close to him as he was trying to figure out a way out of this that didn’t involve a 100 foot drop, and he heard, "Are you planning on hanging about here all day, Malfoy?"
"Only until tea time, Weasley." He gritted his teeth and started trying to pull himself up, swearing to himself he was going to double the number of sit-ups in his daily routine if he got out of this alive. Unfortunately, the action made his legs start to lose their grip on the broom. "Shit."
Suddenly he felt the robes bunching at the back of his neck and he was hauled upwards. He grabbed the neck of his broom and straightened out, shaking his head to get the hair out of his eyes. Ginny was hovering nearby, flying in lazy circles. "Don’t worry, Malfoy. I don’t think anyone saw that you got polluted by the touch of a Weasley."
"You can pollute me anytime, as long as you’re wearing that garnet colored set." Draco blinked and shook his head. Must’ve spent too long upside down, he thought. All the sense got drained out. Still, he had to smirk at the moment of shock on her face.
Then she smirked back and he knew he was in trouble. "Sorry, Malfoy. Today it’s the dark green. Silk." With a toss of her head, she flew off towards the Gryffindor locker room, leaving him to curse and try not to picture dark green silk on pale skin.
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