He couldn’t help but watch her, and he consoled himself with the thought that he wasn’t the only one who was caught in her obvious spell. There was just something magnetic about her -- the way that the moment she entered the room all eyes were immediately drawn to her. She was vibratory; the fiery red of her hair, the deep chocolate of her eyes, and the creamy milk-white of her skin. All these things caused heads to turn. And when she smiled? She positively glowed.
Of course, Ginny Weasley was mostly oblivious to the effect she had on members of the opposite sex. In all honesty, she didn’t feel that she was anything particularly spectacular. She didn’t have the quiet, intellectual beauty of Hermione Granger, the ethereal, other-worldly good-looks of Luna Lovegood, the aggressively sexual glamour of Fleur Weasley, or even the down-to-earth, girl-next-door quality of Tracey Davis. Ginny considered herself really quite average.
Draco stood in the corner of the large ballroom with the other former Slytherins, the three of them still, despite the number of times this had happened before, looking like they weren’t quite sure why they were invited and were simply waiting to be noticed and then kicked out of the party. He stood there with his comrades watching her dance in the arms of the groom, until the bride returned. He watched Ginny curtsy with a giggle and then walk back to the fringe of the dance floor.
“You ever gonna flat out tell her, mate?”
The question jarred Draco out of his Ginny-induced trance, and he shook his head a little to clear it. “What’s that?” he asked.
“I said, are you ever going to tell Weasley that you fancy her?” repeated Theodore Nott, throwing an arm around Draco’s shoulders. “Because this strange drooling, head-in-the-clouds version of you has become quite unnerving.”
“Sod off,” said Draco, though his usual venom was not in it.
“See! That’s what I’m talking about, mate! This girl is really messing you up. Go dance with her already.” Theo punctuated his little outburst by shoving Draco a little bit towards the dance floor.
Draco responded with a very hard look. “Leave me alone, Nott. I don’t like her that much. Or at all. No, I don’t like her at all.”
Theo scoffed. “Ha, and I’m sleeping with Celestina Warbeck. You’re a bloody wreck for her, you wanker.”
Draco became aware that Ginny was moving across the dance floor again, this time in the arms of Colin Creevey, so he didn’t have a response for Theo’s remark. Theo watched Draco’s diverted eyes follow her, and he laughed and slapped Draco on the back.
“Bloody well hopeless, Malfoy.”
“I’m not hopeless,” said Draco vaguely, watching and feeling his blood roil as Colin’s hands slipped lower than Ginny’s waistline. But, he felt much better seeing Ginny slap at him. “Ha, good shot, Ginny,” he said to himself, unaware that Theo was still standing there.
Tracey Davis returned then, carrying three drinks which she distributed to Draco and Theo. “He watching her again?” she asked Theo.
“Yup. It’s bloody sickening,” said Theo, turning to her excitedly.
Tracey laughed. “You’re as bad as he is. When are you going to finally admit that you are positively over the moon for me?”
Theo flushed, which finally drew Draco’s attention away from Ginny momentarily. “Really, mate,” said Draco, “it’s getting ridiculous.”
This oblivious remark earned a look of disbelief from Theo and a loud burst of laughter from Tracey. “I thought you boys were supposed to be Slytherins! Cunning masters of the art of seduction, right?” she teased, poking Draco in the ribs.
“I just…bloody hell, she’s beautiful,” said Draco, as Ginny danced past with Colin.
“I repeat: you are hopeless.”
“Honestly though, Draco, this really isn’t like you. I mean, what about how you got with, well…you know who.” Pansy was not really a great topic these days. “How is this any different?” asked Tracey.
“Are you kidding?” said Draco dryly. “This is completely different. Pansy and I were meant to be. Ginny is just…I’m not supposed to like her,” he finished lamely.
Theo and Tracey exchanged a glance, and Tracey said, “That logic is really brilliant.”
“Shut up,” he said petulantly. “Leave off, will you two? I’m handling it.” And before he could hear the two of them burst into laughter, Draco stalked off, leaving the reception.
---- ----- ----- ------ ----- ----- ----
“I can’t believe it’s really happened,” said Ginny, as she helped her mother pack up the last of the wedding gifts. “They’re finally married. Hermione is officially part of the family.”
Molly could not stop grinning as she lovingly placed a set of cutlery and dishes into a large cardboard box. “I know. Ginny, I don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my whole life.”
Ginny rolled her eyes playfully. “And I’m sure Hermione and Ron feel the same way,” she said.
Molly laughed. “She looked so beautiful up there, didn’t she? And your brother was just so handsome. The last of my boys…grown up and married…” she trailed off, clutching a hand to her heart as happy tears made a re-appearance in her eyes.
“Oh mum,” said Ginny with a small shake of her head. She sighed gently then, absently fingering the string of pearls around her neck. “And now it is just me left.”
Molly noticed where Ginny’s hand had gone, and she smiled gently. “Has he sent anything more, dear?”
“Not since the necklace, no,” said Ginny, a little disappointedly. “It’s been almost two weeks.” She paused for a few seconds, running her hand through her hair as she thought. “Although, I shouldn’t really complain, should I?” she added, not wanting to sound greedy.
Molly finished packing up the last box of gifts, and then turned her full attention on Ginny. “No, I suppose not. But, Ginny, all these gifts are so extravagant and beautiful. Are you certain you really don’t know who’d be sending them…someone who could afford such things?” she asked, a twinkle appearing in her eye.
Ginny shook her head, as she moved forward to help her mum bring the last heavy box out of the great hall so they could bring it back to the Burrow for the night. “For the umpteenth time, my dearest mother, Harry is not the person sending me these gifts. Harry does not have a romantic bone in his body.”
“Oh, certainly he does!” protested Molly.
Ginny realized she must have been talking about Harry’s big sacrifice all those years ago, but if Ginny allowed herself to think on it truthfully, hers and Harry’s relationship had been so utterly dispassionate that the break-up, while mostly for reasons of safety, was actually a bit of a blessing. But it had been almost five years since then, and Ginny was awfully tired of her mum constantly trying to push Harry on her. The two were just friends -- nothing more.
“All right, perhaps one, but what, if any, romance Harry possesses is wasted entirely on me. I’m just not interested in him anymore, and both he and you know that.”
“Fine, fine, I’m just your mother…what do I know,” said Molly, a little miffed. She levitated the last box and started off through the hall, with Ginny trailing after.
“Mum, we’ve been through this a hundred million times. Let’s just forget about it, all right?”
“I’m not arguing,” replied Molly. “So, since you’re convinced that it isn’t Harry, you must have some sort of idea who it could be.”
“I haven’t a clue. All the notes are signed ‘an Admirer,’ and I don’t recognize the handwriting either. Although you know,” she leaned conspiratorially into her mother as they walked, “I rather like it this way, actually. It’s more fun, and definitely more romantic this way.”
Molly laughed. “I do agree; sometimes I wish your father could be a little more romantic,” she sighed. “Although, I do admit -- some nights, when he comes home from work very late and --”
“Mum, that is not something I would like to hear about!” interrupted Ginny, before she was forced to throw up the copious amounts of alcohol she had consumed during the party. Ginny rolled her eyes. “All right, enough gushing, mum. I’ll see you tomorrow to bring the rest of the gifts and things over to their flat?”
“All right, dear, until then.” Molly smiled brightly, gave Ginny a big hug goodbye, and then held onto the last box and Disapparated back to the Burrow.
Ginny smiled and shook her head gently. With a final glance around the hall, scanning for anything (or anyone) that was left behind, Ginny closed her eyes and Disapparated back to her small flat.
It was drawing close to 3 AM, but Ginny wasn’t feeling particularly tired. She massaged the back of her neck gently as she padded her way through her kitchen and into her bedroom. Ginny undid her hair, took off her bridesmaid’s dress, and removed her stockings. Moving about the room in only her bra, knickers, and the beautiful strand of pearls from her admirer, Ginny then sat down in front of her dresser mirror to brush out her hair.
“So where are you, Mr. Admirer?” she thought aloud. “The gifts are nice, but I’d like to know who you are.”
No sooner had she voiced the thought, she heard a rustling at her bedroom window. A beautiful tawny eagle owl was fluttering there, so Ginny ran to the window excitedly, recognizing the owl as that of her admirer. The owl dropped a letter in Ginny’s hand and flew out as quickly as it had come. Ginny gently unfurled the letter to read.
Ginny, I saw you tonight, looking radiant as ever. Watching you dance with every other man made my very heart ache. I only wish that I could be the one to dance in your arms. Perhaps someday, someday soon, it will be the two of us dancing together. I hope. As always, An Admirer
A shy smile appeared on Ginny’s lips as she read the letter. “I hope so too,” she said softly.
---- ----- ----- ------ ----- ----- ----
After two weeks of serious mockery and also serious pushing from his friends, Draco found himself standing in front of Ginny’s building.
He had sent her several notes since the wedding, but he had found that he was only able to be eloquent on paper -- every time he had seen her since and tried to talk to her, the words stuck in his throat. This was proving to be quite a problem, but he decided that he just couldn’t stand it anymore. He was a Malfoy, for Merlin’s sake. Nobody should be able to make him go weak at the knees.
He decided to take the stairs (it gave him more time to formulate his thoughts) and soon he found himself standing in front of her door. This was it -- he was just going to flat out tell her that he was the one who had been sending her gifts, he was the one who wanted to be with her -- he was the one who loved her.
The words were all there right on the tip of his tongue until she opened the door and fixed him with her chocolate eyes.
“Um, hi,” he faltered, and inwardly cursed himself for doing so. This was so unlike him!
“Malfoy?” she asked, in disbelief. “What do you want?”
Draco opened his mouth to answer, but shut it again.
“Are you planning on standing on the doorstep wasting my time all day?” she asked sarcastically, folding her arms across her chest and tapping her foot impatiently.
Draco’s eyes narrowed, briefly, but he forced himself not to retort. “Would you rather I come inside and waste your time?” he asked, smoothly, with a slight smirk playing at his lips.
“What on earth are you doing here?” she asked, although Draco noticed that (consciously or unconsciously, he didn’t care which) Ginny did step back a little, giving him room to step forward.
“Can’t a friend drop by to see a friend?” he asked, and then cursed inwardly again. He shouldn’t have emphasized friend so much. “I mean, I came to see you. Thought maybe you’d like to have lunch.”
“Well,” said Ginny, an amused smile playing at her lips, “seeing as it’s nearly supper time, perhaps this lunch date will have to wait for another time. What do you really want?”
“Why are you so anxious to believe I have an ulterior motive?” he retorted, raising an eyebrow.
Ginny laughed at him. “When do you not have an ulterior motive?”
Draco raised a hand in surrender and said coolly, “You may believe what you choose, Weaslette.”
“All right,” Ginny said skeptically, “let’s say I indulge you…”
“I’d love it if you’d indulge me,” he said seductively.
A warning bell went off in Draco’s head. “I mean, uh…”
“I knew you had something else in mind!” she exclaimed, crossing her arms over her chest. “Well, thanks but definitely no thanks, Malfoy. Now if you don’t mind.” She made a rather rude gesture with her hand and then shut the door right in his face.
“Smooth, Malfoy,” he said to himself, and then turned around to head back down the stairs. “Damage control begins now.”
---- ----- ----- ------ ----- ----- ----
Ginny woke early Saturday morning to find an eagle owl perched on her bedpost. She screamed loudly, but calmed down considerably when her admirer’s owl flew towards her, dropped a parcel on her lap, and then flew out the window again.
Taking deep breaths to steady herself, Ginny picked up the small parcel. It was about the same size as her last parcel had been, and that box had contained her pearl necklace. With an excited grin, she tore open the wrapping paper and then opened the square box. A gasp caught in her throat.
There in the box was a breathtakingly beautiful necklace. It was a simple platinum chain with a tear-drop shaped emerald that would rest on her sternum. A matching pair of earrings was also in the box. As she lifted the box up to get a closer look, a slip of parchment fell out. She picked up the note to read what her admirer had to say.
Ginny, I’ve always fancied the way that green and red offset each other. I hope you feel the same. I should like very much to see you. Though I admit it has been much easier writing notes and sending gifts I think the time has come for me to confess. I am taking a great leap of faith here as you must know. If you’ll meet me tonight at seven p.m. at The Merlin Room, I will finally show my face. Until then. As always, An Admirer
With trembling hands, Ginny rose from her bed with the necklace box and sat down in front of her mirror. She affixed the necklace round her neck, and then she put in the earrings. Her admirer, whoever he was, had fantastic taste and was indeed quite right. The emeralds really set off her hair. But sod all that! She was going to meet him! Tonight!
“Oh sweet Merlin! Wee!” Ginny exclaimed, dancing about her room for a few moments. “Oh, what on earth am I going to wear?”
The day was spent in frenzied preparation for her date. After an emergency Floo call to Demelza and several (hundred) changes of clothes, Ginny finally settled upon a form-fitting black tube dress and black pumps. She then spent some time pacing back and forth, wondering just what the hell she was doing.
“I’m going off on a bloody date with a man I’ve never bloody met. This is ludicrous.” Ginny flung herself onto the divan, effectively mussing her coiffure.
“No it isn’t. It’s just like a blind date -- you’ve been on those before,” reassured Demelza.
“Yeah, but this is different. I already feel like we have some sort of connection, albeit a completely materialistic one,” she said. She frowned and looked up at her for reassurance. “Am I making a mistake?”
Demelza came over and sat down. “No, Gin. Look, just go and see how it is. If you don’t hit it off, or if you feel like you need a rescue, tell him that you need to get up early in the morning. I‘ll come back over and we can mourn our Singleton status with vodka and Celestina Warbeck.”
Ginny laughed. “All right, all right.” She sighed and worried the hem of her dress for a moment. “Well, I should probably go. It’s nearly seven.”
“Good luck, darling,” said Demelza, and then she popped into the fireplace and disappeared.
Ginny sighed once more, took one last look in the mirror to straighten her dress and lovingly pat her necklace, and then she Disapparated from her flat.
---- ----- ----- ------ ----- ----- ----
“She isn’t going to come,” said Draco, as he nervously buttered his fifth roll. “This was stupid, I should have waited, I should have just held off for a bit longer, I should --”
“Would you calm down?” interrupted Tracey. “She’s going to come. I saw that necklace, and no woman could possibly resist.”
“Definitely, mate, no worries,” added Theo, glancing past Draco to look at the door. “Matter of fact, here she is now.”
“Then what are you still sitting here for!”
“We’re going, we’re going! Good luck, darling,” said Tracey with a wink as she pulled Theo from his seat and dragged him back to their table.
Draco quickly straightened his dress robes, ran a hand over his hair, and then took a deep, calming breath. “Okay, just like you practiced,” he said to himself. He then stood up and turned round to watch Ginny look over the restaurant. “Merlin, she’s so beautiful.” He sat down, waiting for the magic to begin.
Ginny turned to the host uncertainly. Her admirer hadn’t stepped forward to find her, and she wasn’t sure how she was supposed to locate a man she didn’t actually know. “Um, I’m looking for…someone,” she said, with a nervous smile.
“Ah,” said the man knowingly, “say no more.” He handed Ginny a small piece of parchment with a wink and then turned to seat the couple behind her.
Ginny unfolded the paper slowly, almost apprehensively. She wasn’t sure what she wanted it to say.
My dearest Ginny, Table 15, and please do not leave. As always, An Admirer
Ginny inhaled shakily. “Table 15,” she said aloud.
“Straight back that way, love,” said the host, indicating a table near the back of the restaurant in a private alcove.
She nodded and then slowly made her way towards the alcove. She paused just on the edge of the alcove. She could see him. Well, the back of him anyway, and the lighting in the place made it impossible to tell much of anything about him.
Was she really going to do this? Jump headlong into something that had began as a simple fancy? “Why not,” she said resolutely.
Ginny walked forward and stepped up behind him, closing her eyes. She extended her hand over his shoulder. “Help me sit down,” she said.
Wordlessly, Draco took her hand and helped her into the seat across from him, barely conscious that he was holding his breath. She wasn’t looking at him just yet…maybe that was a good thing.
“I’m scared to open my eyes,” she said.
“Afraid I won’t live up to your expectations?” asked Draco, in a low voice.
“Yes,” she whispered. Draco reached out and trapped her hand beneath his on the table, caressing her knuckles with his thumb. “I just don’t want this to be a dream.”
“It isn’t,” he replied. “Ginny, I don’t really know how to explain how this happened to me -- I only know that it did. And I tried to tell you in so many ways, but I was never able to do it. So I sent you all these things, notes and jewels and concrete things, when all I really wanted was just to say that I love you…have fallen in love with you. Somehow, some way, I just…fell. So Ginny, please just…,“ his voice dropped to a whisper, “open your eyes.”
A moment of breathless silence passed. “Okay,” said Ginny. She opened her eyes.
Draco felt like his heart had stopped beating.
“You,” whispered Ginny.
“Me,” he answered, locking her gaze in his. “Ginny, I…”
“Don’t speak,” she interrupted. She didn’t say anything for a moment, simply looking at him, studying him. Then, she noticed that her hand was still trapped beneath his. She looked down and smiled softly.
She twined her fingers in his. “I think I like how green and red offset each other, too.”
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