A/N : My first attempt at something full of that oh-so-loved teenage angst (as opposed to just fluffy or sad). Thank you to the lovely Susan, Annika and Allie for the beta jobs. Enjoy!
No way , he thought. No bloody way. He was going to kill that slimy git, Malfoy. With his bare hands. There was nothing else to be done. And when he was done with the rat-faced, ferret boy...he was going to...he was going to...hurt her. A sickening feeling of dread and anger resided in his stomach. How could she? All this time, and she was secretly running off to snog Malfoy? Well, not anymore she wasn't. He was putting a stop to it. Soon.
The young man stomped up the stairs, in quite a rage, his invisibility cloak recklessly balled in one hand. He threw a glance back behind him, where the subjects of his rage had just walked into a room together. Alone. Well, he decided with a glint in his eye, tonight would be the last time they did that....
The first time he noticed anything was wrong with her, he'd been sitting in the common room, playing a disastrous game of chess against Ron, when another sixth year - Emily? Emma? he can never remember - came up to ask Ron where his sister was.
"Dunno," said Ron, clearly too caught up in his winning game to be concerned about an annoying sibling.
And Harry might not have thought anything about it, except he heard the girl as she walked back to her friends: "He doesn't know, either. Where on earth does she go every night?" The reply of another sixth year, "She's probably got some boyfriend she's keeping from us," sent a hot swoop of something shooting through his stomach; it made him dizzy, and he no longer had any desire to humour Ron while the redhead thrashed him in chess. He watched the two younger students laugh as they walked over to a squashy, threadbare sofa on the other side of the room, and was tempted to tell them not to be ridiculous, she wouldn't keep something like a boyfriend private. She'd tell him, at least. They were friends. Good friends. Nearly best friends.
But just before the students were expected in their common rooms, she'd walked in through the portrait hole, out of breath and nearly glowing behind her freckles - throwing an absentminded smile his way before rushing up the staircase to the secret dormitory he visited in his dreams - and he had had to wonder if perhaps there were things that Ginny Weasley didn't tell him.
He got up from the game, leaving Ron staring after him, and he went to lie in bed. But it was a long time before he fell asleep.
He started watching her then. She left the common room once or twice a week. Sometimes on a Monday. Other weeks it would be Tuesday and Thursday. She always disappeared just after dinner, and generally returned right as Filch started patrolling the corridors.
Checking his watch on a Tuesday night, he saw that she was actually late. He thought about going to find her, even got so far as closing the book he had been staring blindly at, but she'd breezed in through the entrance a few minutes later, all bright eyes and heaving chest. Her eyes met his across the common room (where he was supposed to be writing down the theory behind Memory potions), and her lips curved in greeting, but when he would have got up to ask where she'd been, she'd pivoted and disappeared up the stairway in a swish of black robes, her bright hair swaying behind her, leaving him to stare longingly at the empty spot in her place.
Of course, the real problem was now that he was watching for her in the common room, his eyes always seemed to be seeking out a halo of vivid hair...in the dim corridors, in the brightly lit Great Hall - anywhere there was a mass of students. And when he found her, it seemed he couldn't stop himself from feeling a deep throb of relief, from walking over to her and giving a smile or a wave.
Yesterday, he'd accidentally brushed her fingers passing her a quill at their table, and it had felt as if his own fingertips were ignited. A feeling similar to a flash of lightning bolted through him, leaving him slightly dizzy and confused, but it lasted only a moment, and Harry thought he might have imagined it.
Only, they began to happen more and more, these feelings she stirred in him. He couldn't concentrate at all. Whenever she left the common room he felt his chest seize up with anxiety, a cold kind of furry snake around his heart. The questions of where she was and whom she was with left his stomach churning. The relief he felt when he saw her re-enter the room soon became unbearable - it flooded him, sometimes leaving him weak, and it became less confusing with each passing day.
When he was alone in his dormitory, or the last one in the changing room after practice, the nameless, faceless girls his mind would imagine - sometimes raven haired, sometimes with hair spun like gold - all became redheads; their eyes were bright brown when he closed his own, their smiling mouths hot and steady on him. It no longer shocked him that the only name that spilled from his lips was hers, often followed with a string of expletives that would have otherwise made him blush. And now, even when his eyes fell unbidden upon her swaying hips as she strode a few paces ahead of him, he felt his cheeks glow warm as his body reacted to the sight in front of him.
He made up his mind then: this quiet obsession had to end. Perhaps if he knew where she stole off to on her secret escapades, he could put his thoughts to rest.
Monday came and went, and she sat in the common room, laughing with her friends, throwing him smiles and secret glances that had him wondering if she could read his thoughts. Tuesday was the same. He sat brooding in the corner, barely even trying to conceal his emerald gaze as he studied her, wondering if she would move to the portrait hole so that he could follow, but she sat with her friends the whole of the night, and unlike the evening before, she barely looked at him. Only throwing a skittering, almost fearful glance over her shoulder before she made her way to her dormitory, her brown gaze meeting his briefly before she hastened up the stairs.
On Wednesday, after another night of restless dreams and cold sweats, he sat hunched in a corner, his books spread out before him and his father's cloak balled up in his rucksack, when he saw her start toward the portrait guarding the entrance. She threw a nervous glance at him, as if aware of his attention, but Harry glanced down at his parchment, keeping his eyes trained as the nib of his quill quickly scratched across the grain. When she was gone, he rose hastily, telling Ron and Hermione he had to fetch something from the library.
Once in the hallway, Harry watched the hem of her robes disappear around a dark corner and, walking quickly to catch up, he shook out his cloak and wrapped himself in its invisible shield.
He followed her stealthily, her pace swift and certain as she moved past the Great Hall, where she threw a greeting to a friend before continuing down the stairs. Harry watched her all the while, her light steps, the delicious way her body moved, the swing of her long ponytail and the curling tendrils that had fallen out of their catch sometime during the day. He knew he was probably too close, walking only a step or so behind her, but the temptation was too great - to watch her secretly. He could see the flesh of her white neck beneath the swirl of long hair, and it made him entertain thoughts he knew he had no business thinking.
Once at the bottom of the last staircase, they came to a dim corridor, lit only by the flickering sconces set on the wall that cast an eerie glow upon everything within their light. Harry recognized it as the hallway that lead to the Slytherin dungeon, which he had visited illicitly and briefly his second year. Ginny's white flesh seemed to glow in the dark as they moved forward toward her destination. Halfway down the passage, Harry noticed a boy lounging casually against the wall, standing next to a doorway that nearly blended into stone around it. Immediately, Harry recognized the white-blond hair and pointed face of Draco Malfoy, and he silently brought out his wand, intending to hex the Death Eater-in-training if he so much as looked crossly at Ginny.
Cautious now, Harry stepped closer to Ginny, and very nearly fell on top of her when she stopped in front of Malfoy. Harry watched the other boy give what could only be described as a leer, his grey eyes appraising and oddly appreciative. The look made Harry want to slam that white head against the wall it was resting so casually against. He waited in gleeful anticipation for Ginny to whip out her wand and start Bat-Bogeys flying about Malfoy's head.
Instead, he watched Draco push himself from the wall and move a step closer. "You ready?" he asked, in a voice much smoother than Harry was used to hearing. It still held a hint of Malfoy-scorn, but was tinged with something Harry was surprised to recognize as respect.
Still numbly expecting Ginny to pull her wand out, Harry stood silently by. He felt his stomach plummet to the floor when Ginny nodded, her hair catching the firelight and reflecting it in an odd prism of colour - sending light bouncing off the walls.
Harry couldn't see her face, but he watched the back of her neck, as under Draco's appraising gaze, her white skin heated, turning a betraying pink colour, and Harry immediately felt a loss, realizing it had been years since he had been able to bring a blush to Ginny's cheeks.
"I'm ready if you are," he heard Ginny reply back to Malfoy. Even before Harry had a chance to move, Draco had opened the door and swept inside, with Ginny following closely behind. Just before the door shut firmly, leaving Harry to stare in furious wonder, he had glimpsed a fire-lit room and a bright tapestry on the far wall.
Harry stood, gazing in disbelief at the door for any number of minutes, his heart pounding rapidly in his chest as he grew more and more furious. With a growl, he yanked off his invisibility cloak and balled it in a silky mass, his muscles clenching tightly as he fisted his hands. With a last simmering glower at the door, he turned and stalked heavily away. He gave a swift kick to the wall beside him, almost relishing the shot of pain that flashed up his leg. Stupid Malfoy. Stupid Ginny.
Harry got clear up the stairs and into the main hallway before abruptly deciding that he was going to put stop to this affair...he scowled at the very word, bile rising up in his throat. As he stomped his way back to the dungeons, he reasoned within himself, deciding that he was well within his rights to tell Ginny she could no longer see Malfoy. He was only protecting her, concerned for her safety. Certainly Mr. and Mrs. Weasley wouldn't want her running off to snog Draco in the dungeon of Hogwarts.
Draco...she probably calls him Draco just before that filthy bastard brings his head down and brushes her.... He finished the thought with a frustrated growl, bruising his knuckles on the wall. Harry made a rude gesture toward a very shocked and disgruntled portrait before slipping his cloak back on and stopping in front of the door again.
Harry slid down, his back pressed against the cold wall opposite the door. He drew his knees up to his chest so that he was completely covered, and set to thinking about all of the vengeful hexes he would use on Malfoy when he got him alone. It must have been two hours before the door finally opened, letting out a stream of golden light as Ginny and Draco emerged, both looking slightly breathless, but (he noted with great annoyance) looking pleased as well.
He was slightly surprised to see the two of them part ways without so much as glancing at one another, but for some reason the thought only spurred his anger at Malfoy, who couldn't even seem to acknowledge Ginny after he had had his way with her. Harry cast a last dark look at the Slytherin's retreating back before rising silently so that he could follow Ginny. Now that he had her in front of him, hesitancy to actually confront her warred with his rage. The feeling left him confused and shaking. He was so mad at Ginny that he could spit, but the thought of causing her pain caused his heart to thump a little more forcefully in his chest. He hated himself for becoming hypnotized by her long hair as it bounced along behind her.
He gave a loud growl, angry with himself, when he suddenly saw Ginny stop and pull her wand. Harry stopped short, his breath catching harshly in his chest as he watched Ginny turn slowly to face his invisible form, her eyes narrowing in the dim light.
"Who's there?" Ginny whispered, brandishing her wand in front of her. Harry thought for a moment, keeping quite still. If he stood silent, she could very well think she imagined the growl and move on. Ginny seemed to be smarter than that, though. Within seconds, while Harry concentrated on congratulating himself for staying so still, a hand had hit him in the chest, and faster than he could say, "Ah ha, you scarlet woman, I've caught you," she had yanked off his invisibility cloak.
"Harry?" Her brown eyes looked startled as they reflected the light. "What...what are you doing here?"
Harry snorted. "What am I doing here?" He took a step closer, rage flowing through him as he saw her cheeks heat up. "What are you doing here, more like. I followed you. I saw you go into that...that room with Malfoy." He practically spat the last word, and felt a curious sense of triumph when he saw her flinch away from him. Harry moved closer, forcing her to back up into the wall behind her. "You've been sneaking off to see him for weeks, haven't you? You always leave right after dinner - but of course the nights you scurry off to visit that...that Death Eater are varied...so you look innocent. You thought you had everyone fooled."
Ginny opened her mouth, looking ready to start telling him off, but Harry was on a roll. He stepped closer to her, so that their chests practically brushed, and continued on, his rage becoming a dull roar in his ears. "But you couldn't fool me, Ginny. Oh no. I'm on to you." He laughed harshly. "You've been sneaking off to snog Malfoy, haven't you?" He paused, waiting for her answer. When she didn't, he repeated his question, so forcefully he even took himself by surprise. "Haven't you?"
His heart clattered erratically against his ribcage, and quite suddenly he felt as if he'd run miles and miles only to end up continuously in the same spot. He stared at Ginny, his breathing ragged in his ears, fully expecting some sort of tearful confession, followed by an apology and promise to never do it again.
The slap that came instead was hard and left him reeling.
When she spoke, Ginny's voice was calm, eerily so. "Draco Malfoy is a Slytherin," she told him.
"I know," he said back to her, glaring and bringing up his hand to touch his burning cheek.
"And he's cruel."
"His father's a known Death Eater. He's probably got a skull of his own on his arm."
Harry was growing frustrated. He continued to answer, "I know," to every one of Ginny's points about Malfoy: "He's awful to Ron and Hermione." "He makes fun of my family." "His father hates my father." "He's so mean to you, Harry."
"I know, Ginny. I know that. Why are you telling me?"
She continued on as if she didn't hear the question. "His father is the one who ruined my first year at Hogwarts. You yourself told me Malfoy wanted that Basilisk to kill Hermione!" Her voice grew quite shrill all of the sudden, and Harry could detect a faint tremor beneath it.
He swallowed hard. "Ginny, I kn-."
"And you," she cut him off harshly. "You think that I would...that I could...don't you trust me at all, Harry?"
Suddenly feeling quite confused, Harry stared at her. He knew what he saw. He saw her go into that room with Malfoy. "I thought so, Ginny, but-."
Ginny gave a bitter laugh and cut him off again. "I can't believe it. I thought we were finally friends. Apparently, it's been one sided, because if you honestly think that I would snog Draco Malfoy, clearly you don't know me at all."
Harry felt all of the air squeeze out of his lungs. He tried to swallow again, but his saliva seemed stuck in his throat. "So, you haven't been sneaking off to meet Malfoy?" he asked, feeling suddenly dizzy.
Ginny laughed again, a harsh light coming into her eyes. "Oh, I've been sneaking off to meet Malfoy," she told him, her lips curving into a cool smile. "Just not to snog the little..." Here she used a word that would have made her mother wash her mouth out with soap.
Harry felt his eyes narrow in confusion. "Then why were you sneaking out to see him?"
"Does it matter?" Ginny demanded, bright patches of colour flooding her cheeks as she huffed loudly. "No matter what I tell you, you still thought that I was coming down to...to...." She suddenly appeared to lose steam. "Oh, Merlin, Harry! How could you think that?" Her voice broke and Harry felt as if he were drowning, watching her swipe her hand angrily across her cheeks.
"I don't...I mean-." He hung his head to avoid her tearful, angry gaze, feeling as if he'd been hollowed out. "I don't know, Ginny. You were sneaking out all the time. You...you left after dinner and you always came back just before you would have got in trouble for being out." Harry lifted his head to meet her eyes. "Once you were even a little late. Plus, it was never the same night a week! Sometimes, it was a Monday, and sometimes it was on a Tues...a Tuesday...." He trailed off, noticing that Ginny's tears had stopped and a curious light had replaced them.
"Harry?" she said quietly, sounding almost amused. The tone of her voice caused something to stir in his stomach.
"Mmm hmm." Harry felt an unwelcome blush begin to creep up his cheeks.
"How much have you been watching me?" she whispered.
Harry knew she could see his flushed cheeks, and he suddenly felt as if someone had slapped him heartily across the back, expelling all of the air from his lungs. "Oh, well...." He studied the wall to the right of her head. "I mean...not...not that much," he lied.
Ginny studied him. She looked as if she didn't believe him, and Harry became suddenly aware that he still had her trapped against a wall.
"So," he said, his voice sounding harsh to his ears, "you weren't coming down here to...to...?"
Ginny shook her head slowly. Harry watched in almost detached fascination as the light bounced off the crown of her head. He dropped his eyes briefly to her mouth, feeling a surge rush through him as her pink tongue peaked out and swept across her bottom lip.
His heart was pounding in his ears. "What were you doing, then?"
Ginny looked torn for a moment. She bit her bottom lip briefly (causing a reaction in Harry that made him step a pace back), and her eyes flittered away. "You have to promise not to tell." When he nodded quickly, she continued. "You can't tell anyone, not even Hermione, and especially not Ron." Her eyes became rather harsh again as she brought them to his.
"I won't, Ginny," he promised.
"Okay, then. Um, about two months ago Malfoy and I had a...we had, um...."
"A what?" Harry pressed her when she trailed off.
"Well, we had a duel."
Harry almost laughed out loud at the defiant look on her face. "You had a duel? But why? And who was your second? Did you win?" He paused. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Harry watched the corner of Ginny's mouth turn up briefly, but she sobered almost at once before she continued. "We started to have a duel because he was saying some really awful things about Hermione." Harry felt himself scowl. Seeing this, Ginny hastily added, "And, no, I'm not telling you what. It's pointless now. The point is, that I told him where he could go, and he didn't think it seemed a pleasant place, so he pulled his wand on me."
Harry felt inclined to break into the Slytherin common room and pull his own wand on Malfoy. He took a step toward the end of the hall, when he felt Ginny's soft, hot fingers grip his forearm.
"Where are you going, Harry?"
"Oh, well, I was going to go and-."
"Harry," Ginny interrupted, sounding both amused and exasperated. "I can take care of myself." She removed her hand, leaving Harry's arm burning where her fingers had pressed into his skin. "And I did take care of myself. Slimy wanker didn't know what hit him." She smiled at him and Harry felt his heart jump proudly in his chest. Ginny sighed dramatically. "But then, Snape came in. And I would have got in loads of trouble - I think he was going to kick me off the Quidditch Team-."
Ginny nodded. "Yes, I think he would have, but luckily McGonagall was right behind him, and she told him 'no way' and that both Malfoy and I were at fault. So," Ginny finished simply, "they gave us detention."
"Detention?" Harry repeated dumbly. "You've been at detention? For two months?"
"Yeah, it's been a terrible pain, too. We've had to clean all sorts of things. Tonight was the last of it, though. Thank Merlin."
"The last of it..." Harry said. He felt his eyebrows come together. "Why didn't you tell anyone?"
"I didn't want to cause any trouble. Ron would've gone mad. He might have owled Mum, and she would've had kittens for certain." Ginny snorted. "Can you imagine? 'Ginny Weasley, what do you think you're doing? How dare you try and hex a fellow student?'" With her hands on her hips, Ginny did a surprisingly accurate imitation of her mother.
Harry laughed. "But why didn't you tell me? I wouldn't have told your mum."
"Yes, but Harry, you would probably have got into a fight with Malfoy."
"I would not have."
Ginny raised a delicate eyebrow. She glanced down the hall toward the Slytherin dormitories. Harry shrugged sheepishly, giving what he hoped was an endearing smile, relieved when Ginny smiled back at him.
"At any rate," she said, "I don't need you to fight him for me, and you would have felt obligated to or something. Which is ridiculous. I can fight my own battles." She looked rather defiant again.
"I know you can, Gin," he said, easily slipping into to a comfortable name with her. Harry realized in that moment that Ginny had been fighting her own battles for quite some time. It struck him suddenly, though, that perhaps he wanted to be the one to fight them for her. Or maybe he wanted to fight them with her.
"I don't need you to protect me," she told him stubbornly.
"I don't need anyone to protect me."
Harry nodded eagerly, feeling relieved when he saw her smile again.
"You know what else I don't need?" she asked. "I don't need you thinking that I would snog Malfoy!"
"I know that, too, and I'm sorry," Harry said simply. "I...I should have asked first before accusing you of something."
Ginny's chin came up slightly. "Yes, you should have."
"Will you forgive me?"
Ginny deliberated for quite some time. "I dunno, Harry, that was a pretty awful thing you accused me of...."
Harry was about to protest when he saw a light in her eyes. He played along. "Yes, it was," he agreed, stepping close to he again and feeling a smile tug at his lips. "Let me make it up to you."
Ginny stared up at him, a lovely glow on her face. "How could you possibly do that?"
Harry licked his lips. He felt his throat close up as his eyes dropped to her mouth again. Do it now, he thought to himself. When's the next time you'll have her pressed up against a wall in the dark?
"Harry?" Ginny breathed, watching him cautiously. The sound ripped through him.
As if in a trance, Harry bent his head down and brushed her lips with his own...once...twice. Sweet Merlin, that was amazing. Harry dropped the rucksack and cloak from his hands and brought them up to grip her arms tightly, pressing his mouth fully against her.
He nearly died when her hands came up and rested on his chest, her fingers opening and closing so her nails scraped against him. It caused vibrations to ping through him as she opened her mouth and...oh, yes...that was great. She tasted sweet, rather like chocolate. When Harry finally pulled away from her, both were breathing heavily.
Her eyes were half-shut, nearly black with arousal, and her lips were swollen and damp. Harry cleared his throat, still staring at her.
"We should probably...um...head back to Gryffindor...."
He watched Ginny's face fall slightly and wondered what he did wrong.
"Yeah, yeah, we should." She pushed off the wall and turned to head up the stairs, running a hand over her ponytail. Harry stared after her, watching her move slowly to the staircase.
He bent to pick his things off the floor and stood to call out to her. "Ginny!"
She turned around and waited by the bottom of the stairs as he rushed over to her. She looked expectantly at him. Harry could see a glimmer of hope in her eyes. He held out his hand with the invisibility cloak.
"We should cover up," he told her. "It's getting late. I can't have you getting another detention." He looked cautiously at her. "Not...not when I plan on keeping your evenings occupied."
Ginny just looked at him.
"If...if that's all right," he added hopefully.
She continued to stare at him, for so long that he felt uncomfortable. Finally, she moved, reaching for his hand and grabbing the cloak. Ginny stepped up to him, twirling the material around them both and encasing them in it. Harry felt all of the air rush out of him. He could smell the faint scent her hair gave off; it made him dizzy again, which didn't help his confusion at all.
Ginny turned and began walking, slowly so that Harry could keep up. He felt quite dejected, as if he had grasped something shiny in his fingertips only to let it slip away a moment later.
"Harry," Ginny said over her shoulder, still walking.
"I haven't fully forgiven you, yet."
"O-okay," he told her back. "Um...yet?"
Ginny stopped walking abruptly and turned to face him. She smiled up at him. "Yet. But if you keep on making it up to me like you did back there, it shouldn't take too long."
Harry grinned at her. He glanced around and located a door to his right. Tugging her hand, he pulled her toward it. "I don't think I could live with you mad at me for too long," he informed her, opening the door. "I should probably make certain you forgive me tonight."
Harry pulled her fully into the room and shut the door behind them before whipping off the invisibility cloak and pinning her against the wall.
By the time they got back to the common room, not a single soul was awake. They lingered at the bottom of the staircase to the girls' dormitory, gazing at one another.
"Goodnight, Harry," Ginny whispered as she leaned in to kiss him.
"Goodnight, Gin," Harry said, smiling as she turned to head up the stairs. He felt lighter than he had in a long while. Harry grinned and made his way up to his bed. Yes, Ginny had completely forgiven him.
A/N: I just couldn't have Ginny sneaking off to snog Malfoy. I tried. I really did. But she wanted to no part of him (smart girl).