DISCLAIMER: I own nothing except the plot.
A/N: Harry and Draco are in their seventh year, Ginny is in her sixth. Many of the Death Eaters, including Lucius Malfoy, are in Azkaban.
"You call it madness, but I call it love."
(a bump on the head)
“Weasley! Weasley! Weasley!”
Flying high on the quidditch pitch, Ginny Weasley grinned, exhilarated, and slapped her brother Ron a high five as she zoomed past him. She had just executed an awesome stunt that involved nearly falling off her broom, but it was worth it. She had scored a goal, and now Gryffindor was ahead by 10 points. It seemed the crowd would never stop cheering.
It was the first game of the season, and the entire school had turned out to watch. With Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter, seekers and longtime rivals, leading the two talented teams, the match promised to be an exciting one. And so far, it had been. The players on both teams seemed equally matched, and the score was almost always tied.
Even though less than half the crowd supported them, the Slytherins were a great ball game. Most especially Draco – not only had he become a more daring and skilled flier, he had also made some good decisions in picking his team members. They were formidable opponents.
The score was now 80-90, in favor of Gryffindor. The crowd erupted in cheering again as Ron pulled off a spectacular save, keeping the Gryffindors in the lead. “Weasley! Weasley! Weasley!”
Unfortunately, right then a bludger zeroed in on Ron and crashed into his stomach. He doubled over in pain, his broom swerving wildly. Almost before anyone could react, the Slytherins scored a goal. 90-90.
Ginny, frustrated, sped towards the quaffle. They had lost their lead! As soon as she passed the ball to her fellow chasers, they weaved around other players in an intricate pattern that led them directly to the Slytherin goalposts.
Above her, she saw Harry searching for the snitch, and some distance from him, doing the same, was Draco. Despite herself, she grinned at how good they looked - one had white-gold hair above his jade-colored robe, the other was in a crimson robe with a head of jet-black hair. But they had the same tall, lithe form, and wore identical expressions of intense concentration. Good thing she hated Malfoy and no longer had a crush on Harry, otherwise she would be seriously distracted.
She turned away to catch the quaffle as a teammate tossed it to her. She hurled the ball at a goalpost, but the Slytherin keeper deflected it, keeping the score tied. A Gryffindor player darted forward to intercept the quaffle before a Slytherin player could catch it.
Then Ginny, by pure chance, saw it. The golden snitch. It was darting around a Slytherin goalpost, glinting in the sunlight.
She looked up. To her horror, Draco’s eyes were trained on the snitch, while Harry's attention was diverted. He was dodging a bludger.
The Slytherin began speeding towards the snitch, the light of triumph in his eyes. Harry wheeled around, instantly saw and assessed what was happening, and plunged into a dive. The goalpost was between them, but Draco was much closer - even on his Firebolt, Harry couldn't possibly beat Draco to the snitch. It looked like the game was lost. Ginny could see the controlled panic in Harry's expression.
But two things happened immediately to change the course of the game.
One, the quaffle was thrown at Ginny, and she caught it automatically.
Two, a bludger came haring after her.
Ginny didn't have time to think. She knew only that Gryffindor had to win.
And, grasping the quaffle with both hands, she used it to hit the bludger towards Draco. It caught him squarely on the head, and he gasped at the force of the impact, his eyes rolling back in his head.
Harry caught the snitch almost immediately. Triumphant, he held it up.
The stadium exploded in cheers. “GRYFFINDOR WINS!” Madame Hooch shouted.
But Ginny didn't hear the announcement. Her eyes were fixed on Draco, who seemed to be having trouble with his broomstick. The Slytherin veered to one side, then another. He was only holding his broom with one hand, with his other he rubbed the bump on his head. As Ginny watched, his grip loosened, and he toppled sideways.
Ginny inhaled sharply and shot forward. Without thinking, she reached out to steady him.
But by the time she got to him, there was, to her surprise, nothing left to do. If he was in the least bit dizzy, he hid it well. His silver eyes were clear, sharp, and he brushed her hand away. His tone was incredulous. "What are you doing?"
Ginny blinked, feeling a bit foolish. "I thought you were going to - er - fall off your broom."
Draco rubbed the bump that was forming on his head. "Your concern is touching, Weasley, but unnecessary. The bludger did little more than knock me off course."
"I wasn't aiming at your head," Ginny said, by way of apology.
Draco shrugged. Without another word, he flew away.
By the time Ginny got down, the rest of the players had descended. The Gryffindors were jubilant, the Slytherins disappointed. She found Harry in the crowd and headed for him.
Hermione got to him first. “You won!” she squealed, throwing her arms around Harry.
Harry laughed, pleased. Spotting Ginny, he moved towards her and slung his arm around her shoulder. "Thanks to Ginny." He grinned down at her. "I don't know if what you did was allowed, but it worked."
Ron appeared then, sweaty and exultant, and Hermione threw her arms around him too, an action which made his ears go so red they almost glowed. “You were magnificent, Ron!” Then she pulled away, looking worried. “Are you all right? I saw the bludger coming, but I couldn’t warn you, it was terrible!”
Ron seemed quite unable to speak until Hermoine finally released him. Then, still flushed, he grinned at his sister. "That was bloody brilliant, Ginny! We won, and you gave Malfoy a bump on the head!"
"At least my bump on the head didn't damage my brains, Weasley. Unlike yours."
The four of them - Harry, Ginny, Hermoine, and Ron - whirled at the familiar sneering tone.
Draco Malfoy, his blond hair in a rare state of disarray, surveyed them all coolly.
"I don't have a bump on the head," Ron snapped.
Draco raised an eyebrow. "Then it must have been long ago. Unfortunately, its effect on your intellect has yet to wear off."
Ron sputtered. Hermione opened her mouth to make a retort, but was silenced when Draco stepped towards Ginny and extended his hand towards her.
His silvery gray eyes were veiled. “Congratulations, Weasley.”
Ginny’s eyes widened in surprise, but she automatically reached out to shake the hand he had offered. For lack of anything better to say, she came up with, “What?”
Her companions, especially her brother, looked equally dumbstruck.
A lazy smile curled the corners of Draco's lips, and in that moment, he looked rather handsome. His hand was warm, his grip firm. “It was your win, not Potter’s.”
Then, releasing Ginny's hand, he turned and walked away.
Ron regained his wits and started to go after the Slytherin, but Hermione held him back. “Leave it alone, Ron."
"I'll give him a bump on the head --"
But Madame Hooch bore down upon them before Ron could elaborate on his threat, a smile on her face, congratulating them on their win. She had come to retrieve the snitch, but not before she collared Ginny to ruffle her hair and compliment her on her flying abilities and innovative tactics. No, there was nothing in the rules against what Ginny had done.
It was only when Harry released Ginny to strap the snitch back into its box that she realized, with faint surprise, that he had had his arm around her.
"We almost won," Vincent Crabbe grunted after the match, in the Slytherin common room.
Despite the loss, Draco smirked, recalling all too well the look on Harry's face when it looked like the Gryffindors had lost. "At least I beat Potter," he said with a shrug. "Or I would have, if not for Ginny Weasley."
In an effort to commiserate, Gregory Goyle scowled and nodded in agreement. But he didn't do much more. Unlike Crabbe, who had accepted without question Draco's decision not to let the two of them join the Slytherin quidditch team, Goyle felt resentful. But only a little. He knew he wasn't a very good flier.
Draco ignored Goyle's pouting and reflected for a moment on Ginny Weasley. Normally he would have called her "weasel," but he felt that her incredible, admirable resourcefulness warranted his respect. He would probably never forget that glimpse he had gotten of her just after the bludger came at him from nowhere: her red hair a long, windswept mass around her face, those brown eyes huge and shiny, the crimson quaffle grasped tightly between her slender fingers.
Of course, maybe he only remembered Ginny Weasley as being beautiful in that frozen instant of time because the bludger had destroyed his senses. He rubbed the bump on his head.
His reverie interrupted, Draco didn't bother to glance up. He knew who it was. Pansy Parkinson perched on the armchair beside him, and Draco stifled a silent groan as she brushed an errant lock of pale hair from his face.
Smiling, she cooed, "You were terrific, Drakie-poo!"
Draco cleared his throat. He held nothing against Pansy - okay, maybe he held her annoying nicknames and whiny voice and malicious pettiness against her - but he had only put up with her because his father had ordered it. And his father had only ordered it because she was a pureblood. And now his father was in Azkaban. The logic was simple. As of this year, his seventh in Hogwarts, Draco no longer had to put up with Pansy.
So he said, and even with a semblance of charm, "I appreciate the compliment, Pansy, but since we lost, you can see why I have a problem believing you."
Pansy laughed, a shrill sound. "But you really were terrific, Drakie. If it weren't for that Weasley girl, you would have beat Potter."
Seeing that subtlety wasn't working, Draco tried another tactic.
"I just lost a quidditch match to Gryffindors, Pansy." Draco buried his head in his hands dramatically. "If my father were here I don't know what he would say... I think of him in Azkaban, confident that I'm out here in the free world showing all the mudbloods what we Malfoys are made of..."
Draco wondered, beneath his pained outburst, if his theatrics were working. Judging from Pansy's face - or what he could see of it as he surreptitiously peeked between his fingers - they were. He decided to lay it on a bit thicker. "I can't bear the idea of my father being disappointed in me... I must be left alone, I must work out what to say..."
Even Pansy couldn't ignore so broad a hint, and she left. To Draco's irritation, Crabbe and Goyle decided that he also wanted them to leave, and they went away too.
Thus, left alone by the fire in the Slytherin common room, Draco fell into brooding.
He wondered with mild interest if Lucius Malfoy even thought of his son in Azkaban. But he didn't really care. He had stopped caring the day his father first used the Cruciatus curse on him, years ago. Now the only person that mattered was his mother, Narcissa. She didn't care too much about quidditch.
Actually, the only thing his mother cared for nowadays was Draco. She felt that her biggest fault lay in allowing her son to be ill-used by his father, and she thought that the best way for the wounds inside Draco to heal was for him to receive unconditional love from someone besides his mother. Some nice girl who wouldn't hurt him. Narcissa had never voiced it, but she plainly felt that Pansy wasn't that girl.
Some nice girl. Draco didn't doubt that one would come along, in fact, he expected it. But not anytime soon. He just didn't think his future girlfriend was to be found in Hogwarts. The problem was that he knew everyone in Slytherin, and wasn't interested in any of them. Also, he was indifferent to most Hufflepuff girls, he knew most of the females in Ravenclaw were smart enough to stay away from him, and the Gryffindors weren't even worth considering.
Perhaps after he graduated, he would meet someone.
After a moment, Draco abandoned the common room and retreated to the solitude of his dorm.
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