Dance. Jump in puddles.
A crack of lightning splintered across the dark sky, briefly illuminating the churning, deep-gray clouds and one Ginny Weasley hurrying across the Hogwarts grounds, sweater pulled tight around her thin frame against the howling wind. She had been up at the school visiting Neville, who had just begun his first year as an official Hogwarts professor. They had spent the afternoon laughing and catching up- Neville had gathered quite a bit of dirt on his fellow teachers, which Ginny was always willing to listen to- but now she was worried that she had left too late to reach home before the impending storm overtook her.
There came another flash of lightning overhead, this time followed by the ominous rumbling of approaching thunder. Ginny blinked, sure that she had seen wrong but- no, with another flash of lightning she was sure. Not ten feet ahead of her was a figure swathed in a black cloak, the pale blonde head bowed against the strong April wind. Malfoy? What in the world was he doing here?
The next second she heard her voice calling out, as if by its own volition. “Malfoy! Hey, wait up!”
The figure ahead hesitated a little and then turned around, motionless as he watched her run towards him. Ginny noticed as she drew nearer that his eyes were the exact same color as the billowing clouds overhead.
Finally she caught up with him, panting slightly. “Hey. What were you doing over at Hogwarts?”
He shrugged, eyes dark and cold. “What’s it to you?”
Ginny felt that thread of simmering anger pulse through her. “Oh, sorry for trying to maintain polite conversation, Malfoy,” she snapped.
A strong gust of wind blew against them, whipping her fiery hair across her face. Draco regarded the blazing eyes in front of him for a moment before answering, slowly. “They wanted me to talk to Slughorn about some shady character that he knew once upon a time. Supposedly another one of his former Slytherins has been causing some mayhem over in France or Italy or Merlin knows where.” His features were carefully arranged in an expression of indifference.
“Oh,” she replied, her sudden anger melting away as rapidly as it at risen.
Another bolt of lightning played across the tumultuous sky, an unnatural fissure of electricity thrashing through the heavy air. The pair looked up towards the clouds looming above them. The wind was really picking up now, twisting Ginny’s scarlet curls in circles around her head. She pulled them back, annoyed, and held her hair in place with her hand. “This no Apparating on school grounds is really starting to annoy me. You’d think they’d have gotten rid of it by now.”
Malfoy shrugged again, pale skin practically glowing in the dim light. “Who knows.” He paused, glancing at the threatening storm clouds billowing overhead. “We better get going, before it starts to-”
A sharp crack of thunder sounded as the skies opened and a flood of raindrops descended upon the earth.
Malfoy looked extremely disgruntled in the downpour, wrinkling his nose as he pushed his sopping hair out of his face. He blinked furiously, trying to get the water out of his eyes. Ginny giggled.
“Aw come on, Malfoy, it’s just a little water. What’s wrong with getting wet once in a while?” She spread hands out- arms as wide as the smile on her face- and began spinning in the downpour, relishing the feeling of raindrops in her skin.
Malfoy snorted and crossed his arms, watching the ecstatic red head in front of him frolicking in the rain. “Are you drunk again?”
“What, the only time I’m allowed to act happy is when I’m drunk?”
“Well, you weren’t exactly happy that time you got drunk. But no reasonable person would be enjoying getting caught outside in the middle of a raging rainstorm.”
“Malfoy,” she called back, hoping he could hear her over the downpour and thunder. “Since when have I been reasonable?”
Draco nodded. “You make a good point, Weasley.” He was quiet for a moment, staring across the grounds as Ginny danced circles around him.
She laughed out loud for no reason at all. It had been ages since she’d done something this childish and immature and fun. When they were all still little and living at the Burrow, she and her brothers used to scamper outside as soon as the raindrops hit the ground and spend hours running around in the mud, splashing about in puddles and shoving grimy bits of grass and dirt in each others faces. It’s funny how she’d forgotten about that until now.
She glanced over at Malfoy as she skipped past him, accidentally splashing mud onto his immaculately pressed trousers. Oops. Maybe he wouldn’t notice until he got home.
His childhood had probably been comprised of sitting at a desk and learning Latin while his father plotted how to be slimiest git ever in the world. She doubted he had ever jumped in a huge puddle or played in the rain. For some reason, that thought filled her with an overwhelming sadness and she stopped spinning, eyes fixed on the man in front of her.
“What?” he asked when he noticed her looking at him. A scowl was creased on his face.
An idea suddenly popped into her head and Ginny hesitated, wondering if it would be wise to- Oh, what the hell.
“Come on, Malfoy, dance with me!” She ran back towards him and grabbed his hands, pulling him out of his disgruntled stance. “It’s exhilarating!”
“I do not dance, Weasley,” he sneered, trying to pull away.
“Oh, bollocks. Everyone dances!” She tugged at him again, stronger this time, forcing his feet to stumble across each other as they began to spin.
“Weasley, what are you- stop it- dammit Weasley, after all this, I am getting a restraining order. If you do not cease this ridiculous behavior right now, I will be forced to-”
But whatever bodily harm Draco had planned to perform on Ginny Weasley, the world will never know because at that exact moment, Draco tripped and spilled onto the muddy ground, pulling down a laughing Ginny next to him.
“Blarghhhh,” he muttered intelligently, spitting bits of dirt-encrusted grass out of his mouth. “Are you telling me that you’re actually enjoying this?”
“Yes,” answered Ginny, reaching over and rubbing a handful of mud into his face. “I am enjoying this very much.”
Well, of course the only appropriate response to this would be to pick Weasley up and drop her in the biggest mud puddle he could find, and Draco Malfoy was never one to ignore proper protocol.
Later, Draco Malfoy sat in Ginny's kitchen, wrapped in a warm, fuzzy blanket and sipping a mug of hot tea. He swiped as his running nose, grimacing slightly. “You know, I’m probably going to contract pneumonia and die now.”
Ginny walked out of the bathroom, attempting to dry her hair with a faded pink towel. “If you do, can I have your Nimbus?”
He snorted. “Your concern touches my heart, Weasley.”
After the two of them had thoroughly encased themselves in an inch thick coat of mud and slime, Ginny had insisted that Draco come back with her to her apartment and clean up. He had thought about refusing, but at the sight of the witch in front him- hair hanging straggly in front of her eyes, a swipe of mud spread across her left cheekbone, grinning at him like no other (there was even mud on her teeth) – the refusal had died in his throat and he slumped his shoulders in resignation.
They drifted across the sodden ground, an easy silence between them. As they trudged up the massive hill that lead from Hogwarts grounds into the village, Ginny had glanced over at Draco beside her and wondered what exactly was going on here. She'd opened her mouth to say something, but then closed it again, turning her head away.
“Damned hill,” she muttered to herself, her breath coming out in short huffs. The sweat on her brow mingled with the mud and rainwater on her face.
The pair didn’t say much as they strolled through the streets of Hogsmeade in the rain. The looks they had attracted were enough to make anyone uncomfortable, but neither one noticed, as they were both too intent on making a point to jump in every single puddle that they saw on the way.
“Why’d you even invite me back here, Weasley?” Draco asked bluntly, when Ginny had poured herself a steaming cup of tea and settled herself at the kitchen table, feet propped up comfortably on the chair next to Draco.
Ginny glanced at him, surprised. “I don’t know. It’s what friends do, I suppose.”
Draco didn’t look up at her, instead studying the soaked tea leaves at the bottom of his light blue mug. “And,” he said slowly, choosing his words carefully, “you would consider us friends?”
She looked taken aback a bit, but then she smiled at him and he felt as if the room had brightened, just a little. “Of course I do. In fact, I think you and I are becoming very good friends, Draco.”
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