*** fourth wish ***
Ginny knew very well that it had been her idea to promise Malfoy to hurry up with her remaining wishes. He’d deserved it after performing the impossible for her brother and sister-in-law, but as time passed she found herself lagging on the wish ideas. Nothing worthy of his obvious talents had come up. That just made him become more insufferable and unbearably pestering. So she did the only thing she knew to do - she’d decided to resort to good old-fashioned avoidance techniques. Instead of having a lunch at the cafeteria as always, Ginny called on a busy friend whom she rarely got to see and who she’d been forced into owl correspondence with, and demanded a lunch date in Diagon Alley.
Seeing as Luna Lovegood’s office was barely two blocks away from the appointed café, she had to acquiesce or face the wrath of a Weasley woman, something that even good-natured Luna knew not to bring down upon herself. Upon watching the redhead across the table at the “Lady of Shallot” café, however, Luna pointed out that the girl was clearly looking like shite.
“Yeah, so perhaps I am more likely to faint and snore you to death than sic a killer magpie on you, but I really needed to not stay at the hospital today and you were the easiest to guilt into a lunch date,” Ginny replied shortly, picking up the menu parchment and scanning it.
“Still overworking?” Luna inquired inattentively, focusing on her grumbling stomach too much to sense the death-glare searing holes in her menu.
“I just feel wrong when I don’t put in a fifteen hour shift. Some people have suggested that I visit some Head Healers about that.”
“So, have you decided on any new wishes yet? I find it very intriguing how Malfoy keeps using unicorn magic to do your bidding. I always knew he was a Houlin.”
“A Ho—never mind. Lun, I came out here to avoid anything to do with Draco Malfoy and our genie situation. Please?”
Lazily cocking an eyebrow, the blonde continued scanning the menu. “And here I thought you came out because you missed me. What, is he getting more persistent?”
“The man’s ability to annoy the living daylights out of me resembles a bloody cockroach. Unsquashable!” Ginny bristled scathingly, her expression mirroring her inner irritation.
“That is indeed a gift. Hadn’t he transformed into the angel of benevolence in yours eyes after Hermione, and that little girl? I am surprised at your inclination to clutch to the old prejudice so tightly, Ginny,” the blonde noted, her slightly protruding eyes gliding dreamily away in search of the waitress.
Ginny huffed. “I am not clutching to anything. Intentionally. He had transformed and I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, even. For all of twenty minutes before he turned into a toad again.”
“Well, I don’t see what your problem is. You have four more wishes to go before you have to pay up and the agreement is over. Why don’t you just wish and get it over with?”
Ginny loved how her friend managed to make so much sense while appearing to be mostly out of it. She sighed, putting the menu down and rubbing her forehead. “Not as easy as you would think. A part of me wants to ask for things I couldn’t even dream about right now – like my own clinic or that little cottage I told you about at Ottery – but then I know he would find some way to warp it up, and besides that, it wouldn’t be really mine if he did it for me. But then on the other hand, wishing for four cookies just seems like an awful waste.”
“So what are you planning on doing? Because from where I’m sitting, he is this close to putting you under Imperius and forcing you to make those wishes.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t put it past him,” the redhead mumbled and after a second thought, added, “Don’t give him any ideas.” She smiled feebly at the young girl who came to take their orders and turned back to Luna once she was gone with newly flooding exasperation. “Maybe I should flee the country!”
“Oh, Ginny… he has you followed. Be sure of that.”
Ginny’s eyes widened subtly and she took to nervously scanning the other patrons. The idea would’ve been dismissed as ridiculous, but remembering how he began to accidentally appear out of nowhere in the most random places, she couldn’t bring herself to shun the possibility completely.
“Alright, the thought of Malfoy following me might very well drive me into a frenzied paranoia attack, so can we please change the subject?”
“I still don’t understand why you’re so worried about Malfoy anyway,” Luna mumbled evenly, checking her chicken salad for Lilliputian Pygmy Puffs.
“Why?” Ginny echoed with a tinge of incredulity. “Why, Luna? He’s Malfoy. He’s a former Slytherin and a former Death-Eater.”
“Now you’re just nitpicking. He worked for the Order.”
“Details. He is also smug, arrogant and insufferable, and hadn’t grown out of taunting me or my family. It’s like a twelve year old is trapped in a man’s body!”
Luna evened her with a long look, almost fully focusing on her friend, which caused Ginny slight discomfort. Finally breaking the stare, Luna sighed and returned to her salad. “Gin, he is just pulling your proverbial pigtails. And frankly, I find it strange that you don’t understand that.”
“Understand what?” Ginny asked around a bite of her bacon sandwich, confusion lacing her voice.
It seems the insinuations went over her head, and the blonde decided not to pursue the subject, simply saying, “I don’t know. He seems different now. Nice even.”
Ginny just blinked at her friend, surprised. Beginning to feel odd about direction of this conversation, she decided to end it, stating conclusively, “He just rubs me the wrong way, I guess.”
A small, vaguely suggestive smiled crept onto Luna’s face. “Sometimes when someone rubs you the wrong way, the friction can be stimulating.”
The redhead choked on her pumpkin juice, sputtering and coughing into a napkin while her friend patted her back in an attempt to soothe the windpipes. Finally coming down and seeing that Luna was not about to elaborate willingly, Ginny spoke up. “Is there something I should be aware of?”
Luna turned to face her, her gaze washed with that eternal absentmindedness, but there was a small tint to her visage, which only deepened when she drew a sigh. “Nothing in particular. Just him in general. Again.”
“Zabini?” Ginny asked carefully, her face shifting with sympathy. Her blonde friend had the utmost misfortune of hiring Blaise Zabini as one of her journalists for the Quibbler and developing a highly unwanted crush on the black wizard.
Luna nodded and shrugged. “I know this is awful, but I can’t help it. It’s his fault, really. Why did he have to be so charming on top of being sickeningly handsome?”
“To torture woman-kind, obviously,” Ginny attempted a joke, but Luna responded with a grimace, and she smiled apologetically.
“Bloody philanderer,” Luna muttered in what must have been the most bitter tone in her lexicon, but what actually resembled a more blurry indifference to the outer world.
“Well… Luna, it’s your paper. Can’t you… you know…”
“Fire him? I tried. He threatened to sue me for sexual harassment if I so much as transfer him offices.”
Ginny frowned. “Well, this is ridiculous. He is the one who’s shamelessly flirting with the other employees and disturbing the work place.”
“I’ve mentioned that to him.”
“He said it is not harassment when he’s improving the work conditions. According to him, he is contributing to the warm and friendly environment of the office, which prompts more efforts from the other workers and finally leads to a steady increase in our sales,” Luna recited gloomily, at the end glancing at Ginny and smiling at her disbelief. “He proved it with graphs and pie-charts.”
“I bet he did,” Ginny mumbled, still stunned by the workings of a Slytherin mind. “Well, then, there’s only one thing left for you to do,” Ginny stated conclusively, watching Luna’s eyes fill with slight hope. “You have to sell the paper and move as far as Edinburgh.”
“Oh,” the blonde breathed disappointedly. “I kind of hoped you would suggest kidnapping, involuntary incarcerations and something bordering on rape.”
“Luna!” Ginny gasped, shocked that her pensive and soft-spoken friend could think of such things.
“Well, he really is bloody handsome!”
She pinned her with a critical eye, but broke into a pained smile after a moment. “Aren’t we just a couple of misfits?” she laughed, raising her glass to toast.
“Speak for yourself,” Luna muttered, refusing to toast. “I’m going to do something about it.”
Ginny watched her friend sceptically over the rim of her glass, trying to decipher what the former Ravenclaw might have meant. Upon receiving a falsely innocent smile, the redhead evened her with a glare. “Luna Lovegood, I forbid you to rape that man!”
“First - a stork, and now you want me to play the goddamn Cupid?”
“Well, I wouldn’t say exactly—‘
“I would,” Draco shot her, pinning her with an irritated glance. “If the previous wish was insane, this one is simply demeaning. And while I can go along with ‘insane’ now and then, there is no chance in blazing hell I am going to go with ‘demeaning’. And in case you were wondering, there is no bloody chance you are dressing me in diapers. Make another wish.”
“Malfoy, as far as I’m concerned, I made my wish, whether you accept it or not,” Ginny replied, keeping the amusement out of her slightly condescendingly impatient tone. “Now it is your problem when and how to perform it.”
“I do not do diapers.”
“Please,” she rolled her eyes dismissively. “It is not like I’m asking you to bear Hermione’s child for her. Diapers are completely unnecessary,” she concluded with a smile. “And the fact that you keep bringing them up makes me wonder…”
Draco narrowed his eyes at her and hissed. “Your feeble sense of humour is highly unappreciated right now, Weasley.”
“Well, of course not by you. I bet if Ron or Hermione were present, I would have gotten at the very least a chuckle,” Ginny quipped with a serious undertone in her light words. “Come now, Malfoy, I don’t ask you to end world hunger or peace on earth—“
“That would’ve been preferable,” he grumbled under his breath, plopping down into an armchair and pinching the bridge of his nose. This particular surprise visit of hers to his apartment, though not the first, was becoming more and more contributory to his migraines. Almost without any solid hope, he reminded himself to not be tempted by a blueberry pastry allowing her entrance to his house ever again. Though, he figured she most probably resembled a vampire – allowed entrance once, she would forever be welcomed in his home. He mentally kicked himself and his muffin issues.
“Well… yes, I guess for some, but—she deserves to be happy!” Ginny continued on, completely disregarding his upcoming headache. “And, how difficult could it possibly be for a… man—“ – she sufficed after an awkward pause, finding it odd to relate the word to Malfoy. He smirked weakly in return – “—of your ability and status to find a nice bloke for a nice girl?”
“If the girl’s name starts with an ‘L’ and ends with an ‘Ovegood’, then very, very difficult,” Draco grumbled. “I do not socialize in circles that would consider Luna Lovegood as a – oh gods, I feel sick just saying this – ‘a nice girl’. And even if they did, my social circles chew ‘nice girls’ up for brunch! Obviously they spit them out because of the calories, but it is the principle that counts.”
“Malfoy, you’re being ridiculous and I refuse to believe there is not a single good man in your social circle!”
“There is! But I don’t find Lovegood the least bit attractive,” he barked irritably, involuntarily sticking his nose up. “That’s it. I’m not setting her up.”
“I don’t want you to set her up. I want you to find love for her,” Ginny injected chirpily, grinning her bright little heart out. “Come on, Malfoy! You can do miracles, for Merlin’s sake! Why can’t you do this one too?”
He fell silent for a while, evening her with a long hard look. Finally, he sighed. “It is one thing to meddle with the law, some destroyed skin tissues, and even problematic fertility is not that big of a deal when you know certain things. But… Ginny, I can’t meddle with matters of the heart.”
“No,” he shook his head, his voice as gentle as he could afford it to be in sight of her growing disappointment. “I cannot plant feelings in one’s heart. And I sure as hell can’t foresee the future, figure out the exact type of man that Lovegood could fall in love with and that could love her back, and set them up to meet at exactly the same place and the same time. Sorry to disappoint you – and I never thought I’d ever be forced to say this – but I’m not a god.”
The redhead’s eyes shimmered for a moment as she pouted. It appeared to be she was giving up when she sighed and Draco even allowed a fake sympathetic expression to grace his features to further appease her. As if.
“Malfoy, this is just a simple little wish! I’m sure it would take you nothing at all to achieve the desired outcome,” she prattled on, trying to sweet-talk him into the idea, her voice smooth and innocent as honey. She assumed her presence on his turf did nothing to disadvantage her, as it seemed to be he was slowly caving in under the pressure of her will. And his migraine.
Draco grunted loudly, dropping all façade of gentle coaxing as he smacked himself on the face, dragging his hand down. He was forced to face the woman’s stubbornness for the first time and he was beginning to have the inkling of an idea that he wasn’t going to emerge victorious out of this battle. “You want me to set Loony Lovegood up. With a bloke! There’s not a person in the world I hate enough except your brother. And he’s married! Of course, I could—“
“No,” she barked instantly before that train of thought developed any further.
He looked up at her in surprise for a moment, then pursed his lips crossly. “I was obviously joking.”
“You have a twisted sense of humour.”
“You have a twisted sense of humour! You want me to fix the love lives of all of your loved ones! What next? Would you like me to spice up your parents’ sex life as well, perhaps?”
She stared at him in silence for a long moment, her expression as placid as the freckles allowed, before breaking into a disgusted grimace and furiously shaking her head and her hands, trying to dislodge the most horrendous mental images. “I hate you,” she squeaked finally, squeezing her eyes shut and burying her face in her hands.
“Ha,” he exclaimed only half-heartedly, not really feeling at his best since the images briefly visited him as well. “Look, I just—I don’t want to get involved in these things anymore! You want jewellery? I’ll get you jewellery. Houses, trips around the world, magical artefacts, historical relics, financial support to whatever medical thing-a-ma-bob you might come up with, I’ll gladly fork over any amount of money, but… Ginny, don’t make me go through countless idiots just to find the right one for your friend!” He burst dejectedly, and he sounded vaguely pleading even to his own ears.
Ginny frowned at him, dissatisfied that he was slipping through her fingers and using pleas to persuade her. She could have dealt with an irritated Malfoy, even a smug or an arrogant one, but she didn’t think her heart would allow her to pressure a pleading Malfoy. The phenomenon was so fantastically rare that it had become an equivalent of endangered species, or an urban myth. This, however, put her in a disadvantage.
“Oh, but I really wanted you to do this,” she almost pouted; only halfway realizing how ridiculous it must have sounded. “I… she’s a good person, and she deserves someone special, someone who would be good for her. Someone who she could talk to without being tempted into socially prohibited actions. Someone kind and lovely and sweet… someone unlike that bastard Zabini who shags everything in a skirt and then turns around to flirt with her and accuse her of sexual harassment!” She emphasized her words by smacking her knee, long ago drown in her own ranting and somewhat overlooking who she was talking to.
“What?” Draco glanced at her, his interest imperceptibly peaked.
“Huh? Oh, no I was just babbling.”
“Did you mention Blaise, by any chance?”
“What? Oh, yes, Zabini. He works with Luna at the paper,” she supplied absently, leaning her head onto the backrest of the couch she occupied and drawing a heavy sigh, not noticing the subtly shaping smirk on the lips of her conversant.
“That would make Lovegood his boss, I presume, right? She owes the paper.”
“Yes, that would,” Ginny replied, sighing again. Then, noticing the tone of his voice, she pulled her head up and glanced at him with confusion. “Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no particular reason. Just sorting through the social ladder in my head, trying to bring down the number of candidates,” he replied airily, gazing off out of the window, his lips still curved in an unnerved manner and his migraine apparently gone.
Her eyes grew big instantly and she couldn’t help but smile. “So you’ll do it? You’ll find love for Luna?”
He looked back at her, both his brows cocked as if in mild surprise. “Well, of course I will. You made a wish, didn’t you? And your wish is my command.”
“MALFOY!” The deafening bellow of one fiercely enraged Ginny Weasley thundered through Draco’s apartment, promptly followed by a mighty slamming of his front door. “Where the hell are you, you sorry excuse for human flesh?”
“Err, the kitchen?” A hesitate voice carried from the mentioned direction and the fair-haired head of one Draco Malfoy peeked from around the doorframe to look at the furious redhead.
She spotted him, her own expression too livid to notice the confusion marring his furrowed brows, and stomped into the kitchen, shrugging out of her coat and tossing both it and her purse on the couch. “Exactly how many gallons of alcohol did you consume prior to your execution of my wish?”
“Well, personally I didn’t drink, but Blaise seemed to need all the courage Uncle Ogden could offer him,” he replied simply, a smirk tugging at the side of his lips. Most of his attention was focused on his dinner as he salted the pasta and stirred the sauce, but he chanced a glance at her and was unpleasantly surprised to see the pretty face of Ginny Weasley scowling menacingly back at him. “What?”
“Zabini! You set her up with Zabini! He is the bloody reason I asked a bloke for Luna - to get her mind off of that git!” she barked, fighting the urge to physically attack him. She would have done so gladly – the idea of causing Malfoy as much bodily harm as she could muster was beyond tempting – but that desire was thwarted by the fact that he was cooking. The kitchen was a sacred place in the Burrow and Ginny had learned to take it with her. No violence was ever allowed in the kitchen, unless by her mother’s wooden spoon.
“I apologize. I was not aware of any limitations,” he spoke inattentively, as if reciting a well known monologue. “Unfortunately, the company allows no returns and no refunds. How awful for you. Good day.”
Ginny growled again and stomped her foot. “I can’t believe that out of all the people that you know, you set her up with bloody Zabini! Out of all the awful people you could’ve chosen, you just had to pick the one that was absolutely worst for her!”
He rolled his eyes dramatically, his hands grasping a handful of grated cheese and tossing it into the sauce skillet. He clapped the remains of the cheese off his palms and evened her with a look. “What makes you think Blaise is the absolute worst choice for her? Do you even know the man?”
Ginny hesitated for a brief moment, however not nearly enough to cool her temper down. “I know of him, and that is even more than enough! He’s a philanderer!”
“He’s just searching for that special one,” he countered smoothly, his words oozing with sarcasm.
“Searching incessantly, I heard,” Ginny grunted, folding her arms across her chest and watching him as he turned to lower the heat underneath his pasta and season it. “He is smug, and arrogant, and completely not her type.”
“Did she tell you that? Because from what I gathered from Blaise they had a lovely dinner,” Draco contradicted once again, fishing a spaghetti string out of the pan and tasting it. “And an even lovelier breakfast,” he added smugly, quirking his eyebrows and sucking the noodle in with a whistle.
“Urgh!” she growled again, rolling her hands into furious fists. “This means nothing! I asked you to find ‘love’ for her, not ‘lust’!”
“Who says you can’t have both? She’s young, let her live a little.”
“You can’t have both! There has to be respect in order to develop love, and there is absolutely no respect in lust! What you’ve done is just set her up for more headache and heartache,” Ginny bristled, pacing the wide kitchen and flailing her hands to stress the issue.
“That is ridiculous, Ginny, you can’t possibly believe that where there is respect there cannot be lust,” Draco blurted out, turning away from the sauce and propping his hip against the counter for support as he stared at her with mild disbelief. “You’re saying if I lust after someone, then I obviously don’t respect them? That is nonsense!”
“Maybe in your world it is, but in the real world love is not caused by hyperactive hormones and primal instincts to scratch an itch,” she bit out, feeling the tips of her ears begin to burn as the blush threatened to overwhelm her face with scarlet sheen. “Love comes from friendship, respect… animalistic impulses have nothing to do with this!”
“That only goes to show that you have never been in love yourself, Weasley,” he stated simply with a smile, and turned back to his spaghetti.
Ginny’s eyes widened, whether in shock or in shame she wasn’t sure, but she sputtered indignantly nonetheless. “I beg your pardon! I know perfectly well what love is—“
“Of course you do,” he acquiesced quickly. “You know the love of a parent, of a brother, the love of friends and of little sick children who look up to you every time you come to visit. But you have never been in love, Ginny. You’re a grown woman, you should know the difference by now.”
“That is simply not true. I have been in… love,” she finished hesitantly as something within her swooshed silently, and she couldn’t understand what it was.
“You can’t count Potter,” Draco laughed out, seemingly highly amused by the fact that she even considered it. “He was a sod and you were a baby. No, Ginny,” he shook his head a little, still concentrating on the noodles. “You have no solid idea as to what I’m talking about.”
Ginny fell silent for some time, her brows furrowing deeper into a frown as his words circled her mind. Was it true? Was there something like that out there, which combined both the respect and friendship of love with primeval urges and uncontrollable physical attraction of lust? Was – Merlin forbids – Malfoy right?
Catching herself on the last thought, Ginny shook her head and squeezed her eyes shut, chasing it away.
“This has nothing to do with me! This is about you setting my friend up with your friend, fully knowing that she could only get hurt from the situation! That was an awful and unfair thing to do!”
Draco sighed heavily, turning the heat off on both of his pans and turning to look at her with slightly weary eyes. “You asked for love for her, right? I supplied.”
“Again, you think—“
“Blaise was always a closed person in Hogwarts,” Draco spoke up suddenly, hushing her with a glance. “He never took much interest in anything – studies were easy for him, so were the girls and everything else he had to do. Most of his existence, ever since I knew him, was grey. Until one bloody evening he went completely off his broomstick and started collecting butterbeer corks. Guess why?”
Ginny couldn’t respond. If this was a lie, then Draco could act up sincerity better than the greatest of actors. If this was the truth, things were shifting to reveal a very different picture. She just blinked as he continued.
“Fresh out of Hogwarts – we’re rich, handsome, smart. He rarely talks about his cork collection; I am afraid to ask in fear of discovering things I prefer to stay oblivious to. Years pass and he suddenly takes a job at some paper, not bothering to divulge anything about it, and I in my turn consider it a hobby and don’t bother to inquire further. He begins to change, though, and seems to be developing a crush on his boss. I advise him to ask her out and when that falls through because of her prejudice, I advise to make her jealous – yes, I never claimed to not be a petty snake – but it doesn’t work as well. He refuses to state her name despite my constant badgering and I’ve no idea as to who this girl might be, until… now. I’m not about to apologize for setting this up, Ginny.”
Ginny continued to stare, stunned into silence by what was revealed to her. She didn’t want to believe it, preferring to dismiss it as a lie of a bored snake, but she couldn’t forget his words. .
“So, he starts working with her, trying to get close, but she is stubborn and infuriating and just so bloody annoying at times—“
She glanced up cautiously, surprised to see vague tints of pink gracing his cheeks. He quickly turned away, beginning to busy himself again with the dinner – drain the noodles, stir the sauce one last time – and only turned back to face her when she had moved slightly away, towards the door, apparently planning on leaving. He caught her with his eyes, arching a question brow.
“Well, I… just wanted to leave you to your dinner. I’ll let myself out.”
“No, you won’t, you’re staying,” he stated simply, bringing out two plates.
“Oh, no, I couldn’t. I just barged in and, well, this is highly inappropriate—‘
“That is exactly why you’re obliged to stay. Compensate all that screaming with your company,” he continued to speak plainly, logically, as he forked the noodles onto the two plates.
Ginny snorted in amusement. “I would assume my company would be considered more of a punishment than compensation.”
“Well, that is why I’m planning to drink,” he replied with a charming grin and poured out the sauce. “There’s a bottle of red wine in that lovely cupboard to your right. Could you…?”
Ginny hesitated, glancing at the door, her watch and finally at the steaming dinner and a charming smile of her companion. “I don’t know…”
“Weasley, don’t make me hurt you,” he suddenly said with narrowed eyes, his suave tone replaced by traces of annoyance. “Get the goddamn wine,” he ordered lightly and grabbed the two plates, walking out of the kitchen and heading towards the dining area.
Ginny smiled, hesitated another few moments, scratching her head, and finally caved in. She rampaged through the previously mentioned cupboard, retrieving the wine up the corkscrew off the counter before joining Draco Malfoy for dinner.
Author notes: The following line was actually taken from my horoscope on the day that I wrote the scene, so it should be credited to whoever writes horoscopes on Yahoo.
"Sometimes when someone rubs you the wrong way, the friction can be stimulating."
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