Chapter 23 : Chapter 23
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Ginny noticed that Draco seemed to be brooding as the days went by. Of course this wasn’t unusual, but it did make him short tempered. “Draco, is there something that you want to talk about?” she asked, as she sat next to him in the library.
“No, I just don’t feel much like talking right now.”
“Oh, all right.” Ginny went back to her assignment and worked very hard at not looking at him out of the corner of her eye.
Blaise and Luna walked in. Ginny marveled at how, with very little coaxing, Blaise had turned into the perfect boyfriend. He always seemed to be around, but he wasn’t very demanding. Whatever Luna suggested, as long as it wasn’t too odd, he was happy to comply.
Ginny still felt unsure of Draco’s feelings. She felt very attached to him, but she wasn’t sure how he felt in return. He seemed to enjoy her company, but he never wanted to talk much. They spent the majority of their time together in some state of undress, not that she minded, but she was hoping for something a bit deeper.
Luna seemed to sense Ginny’s tension. “Ginny, why don’t you come back to my room for a bit. I want to show you something that my dad sent me.” She looked up at Blaise. “You don’t mind, do you?”
Blaise smiled. “I’ll just meet up with you after dinner.”
“That should work.” Luna agreed, and then she looked at her friend. “Let’s go, Ginny.”
Ginny gathered up her things, and waited to see if Draco would acknowledge that she was leaving. He seemed to be off in his own little world, frowning about something, so she didn’t bother saying goodbye. When they reached Luna’s room, Ginny sat down and looked around. “What did you want to show me?”
Luna held a mirror up in front of Ginny’s face. “What’s wrong with this girl? Last week she was smiling, and this week she doesn’t seem very happy.”
Ginny frowned at her reflection. “Valentine’s Day was great, but since then Draco seems to be drifting away.”
“Have you tried asking him what’s wrong?”
Ginny rolled her eyes. “It’s like talking to a brick wall. I’ve never met someone who was so horrible at expressing his feelings.”
Luna sat down and patted Ginny’s knee. “I’m not saying this to be mean, but are you sure he has feelings?”
Ginny smirked. “Do you mean for me, or in general?”
“In general,” Luna replied.
“His home life was so warped, that I’m not sure. I mean, how do you grow up expecting to fall in love when you know that your parent’s marriage was arranged, and that your father has mistresses.”
“Maybe you are expecting too much from him.”
“I know when he touches me, he is showing me that he cares about me. I want more. I want to hear the words. I want to tell him that I love him, but I’m afraid he would just look at me, nod and go on with whatever he was doing.”
“It’s only February, the term doesn’t end for quite a while. You have time to work this out.”
Ginny shook her head. “That’s just it, Luna. I don’t have time. Our deal ends this Friday.”
Ginny put her head in her hands. “It seemed like such a good idea at the time. I wanted him to guarantee that he would stick around after we slept together, so I asked him to promise to stay with me through February twentieth. He agreed.”
“Has he mentioned the deal lately?”
“No, he hasn’t mentioned it at all. It’s like this big thing just hanging over my head. I’m hoping he’s forgotten about it and that these past few months have not been about fulfilling some stupid deal with me. They were real for me. I just don’t know if they were real for him.”
“You won’t know unless you ask him.”
“I can’t ask him. Right now it’s like we exist in this fragile bubble. I can pretend that he cares about me for a few more days, and then I can see what he says. If I ask him, I burst the bubble now, and then I won’t be able to pretend anymore.”
Luna sighed. “Love is complicated. I spend hours trying to think of things to say to Blaise that make me seem more normal. I keep the talk of unknown magical creatures to a minimum, but I try to be mysterious at the same time. I worry that if he gets used to me, he’ll think I’m boring.”
Ginny laughed. “Luna, you’ll never be boring.”
“Thank you. I snagged Hermione’s latest Muggle magazine. Do you want to look through it for some sexy tips?”
Ginny shook her head no. “I’m tired of trying so hard. I think he’ll just have to be happy with me as I am.”
Blaise looked up at Draco and calmly swatted him over the head with a roll of parchment. Draco glared at his friend. “What, in the hell, was that for?”
“That is the third time you have sighed in the past ten minutes. Either spit it our, or stop acting like a drama queen.”
“Fine, I don’t know what to do about Ginny.”
“What do you mean?”
“I can tell she is waiting for some grand declaration of love, or some such rot. I glance over at her when we are supposed to be studying, and she’s looking at me like I’m the rabbit and she’s the hawk. She’s just waiting for some sign of weakness, and then she is going to swoop down and gut me.”
Blaise smirked. “I think you are suffering from post traumatic Valentine’s Day stress. Relax, the big romantic date is over. You get to coast until the next holiday.”
“I don’t have until the next holiday. I only have until this Friday.”
Blaise gave him a confused look. “What happens this Friday?”
Draco sighed and Blaise threatened him with the rolled up parchment. “Ginny and I made a deal. She wouldn’t sleep with me until I promised that I would stick around for a certain amount of time. She didn’t want to be a one night stand.”
“And you kept the deal? I’m impressed.”
“She was...persuasive.” Draco admitted with a small smile. “Anyway, the deal ends this Friday. Now, I have to decide if I want to carry on seeing her or not.”
“How can you be so sure that she wants to carry on seeing you?”
“As if that’s even a question.” Draco snorted. “Anyway, I have to decide what I want. I like spending time with her, but I’m not ready to get married. Other girls have made offers, and I have turned them away because I wanted to be true to my word.”
“Those other offers are creeping up on you, aren’t they?”
“Just wait and see. Luna is new and exciting now, but in a few months, you’ll be wondering what some other girl would be like in your bed.”
Blaise smiled. “I don’t think that is going to be a problem, because Luna is a bunch of personalities all rolled into one. I never know what to expect with her, and I like that.”
At dinner later that night, Draco still seemed to be agitated. Ginny resorted to chucking her dinner roll at him when he sighed for the fourth time. He glared at her. “I thought that was Pansy’s move.”
Ginny smiled sweetly. “I thought the mashed potatoes or the green beans would tick you off too much.”
“Well now that you have my attention, what do you want?”
Ginny looked at him sadly. “I want to know what you want.”
“I want to eat my meal in peace, and then I want you to come back to my room with me. Fair enough?”
Ginny resisted the urge to upend the entire bowl of mashed potatoes on his head. “I suppose that will have to do, for now.”
Ginny tried not to pester Draco over the next couple of days. She kept her rising anxiety in check, and she was actually relieved when Friday night came around. Draco made no mention of the date, and she was beginning to think that she had worried for nothing.
After sitting out in the Common Room for a while with Blaise and Luna, Draco and Ginny retired to his room. When he started kissing her, she just went along with it. Later, when he collapsed next to her, and pulled her body against his, she sighed. Just as sleep was about to overtake her, she felt Draco sit up. “Ginny, what do you want to do tomorrow?”
Feeling confidant, she said, “It’s supposed to be a nice day, why don’t we go flying in the afternoon.” When Draco didn’t respond, she rolled over to look at him.
“Ginny, tomorrow is the twentieth.”
All of the good feelings drained out of Ginny’s body. She and sat up, clutched the blanket to her chest, and tried to figure out what to say. “Listen, Draco, I know that when we started this, it was just a deal that I made up so that I could justify doing what I wanted to do. But...it stopped feeling like a deal to me a long time ago. I have feelings for you.” She risked looking up at Draco, but he didn’t say anything, so she went on. “I was hoping that we could just keep seeing each other like we have been.”
“I see.” Draco replied without a hint of emotion in his voice.
Ginny briefly fantasized about suffocating him with his own pillow. “I take it that you don’t feel the same way?”
“I enjoy your company, and I would like to continue seeing you, but I think it would be best if we saw other people.”
“I see.” Ginny replied in a mocking tone while she gave him her best glare.
Draco rolled his eyes. “I don’t think it’s reasonable for two people in school to promise to be exclusive. You said so yourself at my parents’ ceremony that you were planning on going off to university and buying your own flat.”
Ginny took a deep breath and shifted tactics. “Right. I suppose it makes sense to date other people. Did you have anyone in mind?”
Draco shrugged. “Maybe. There are a few girls I am curious about.”
“How nice for you. I guess if that is what you want, then that is what I will have to settle for.”
Draco blinked. He had no idea that she would agree so readily. He watched as she sat up and smiled at him. Her movement caused the blanket she was clutching to her chest to drift to a very distracting level. With effort, he focused back on her face. “You do realize, that if you are going to date other girls, then I will have to date other boys.”
“What?” Draco asked, not quite sure he had heard that last part correctly.
“Well, it just makes sense that I should see other boys as well. Don’t you think?”
Draco found that this thought irritated him greatly. “Who did you have in mind?”
Ginny shrugged, and the blanket drifted lower. “I don’t know. I’ve always thought that Seamus was nice.”
Draco frowned. “I thought you said he was just a friend.”
“He is, but I think he would be nice to me. Like I said, I’d prefer not seeing anyone else, but the minute I hear that you have touched another girl, I am going to go crawl in bed with Seamus.” Ginny smiled brightly at Draco and watched as he digested this bit of information.
“You are going to sleep with someone, just to spite me?”
“Yes, I am.” Ginny informed him as she sat back against the headboard leaving the blanket in her lap. She held her breath, and waited to see what his next move would be.
Finally, he smirked at her and said, “I don’t believe you. You practically had to have a written contract before you’d come to bed with me, and you wanted to do that.”
Ginny nodded. “At first, I thought that might be a problem as well, but then I figured out a solution. Do you want to hear it?” she asked as she tilted her head to the side and batted her eyelashes at him.
“Yes.” Draco ground out through clenched teeth.
“I am going to close my eyes, wrap my legs around Seamus’ back, and pretend he is you.”
Draco just glared at her, and then he stood up and began pacing the room. She heard him using some pretty vile language as he stalked back and forth, and then he seemed to come to some sort of decision. He walked over to his dresser, pulled out a box, and tossed it at the foot of the bed. “Pick something,” he demanded.
Ginny crawled to the bottom of the bed and opened the box. Inside she saw cloak pins, cuff links, and rings. She looked at him curiously. “What am I picking something for?”
Draco sat across from her and scowled at her. “It is my understanding that a girl wears a token of some sort to signal to other boys that she will not be wrapping her legs around their backs anytime soon.”
“Oh,” Ginny smiled quite pleased with herself.
Draco growled. “If you don’t stop looking so smug, I’m going to stick you with this.”
Ginny looked at the snakehead ring that he thrust at her. “That is awful.”
“I know, so pick quickly before I put a permanent sticking charm on this and attach it to your forehead.”
Ginny sifted through the jewelry, looking for something not quite so masculine. “You’re not being very romantic about this,” she muttered.
“If you wanted romantic, you should have picked somebody else,” Draco informed her as he began to root through the jewelry.
Ginny tried not to smile, but she couldn’t help it. “I don’t want anyone else. I want the smug, snarky, most arrogant Slytherin in the entire school.”
Draco smirked at her. “What about this?” he asked as he held out a signet ring with a small emerald in the middle.
Ginny looked at the ring. “Can you transfigure the snake that goes around the emerald so that it looks like a vine or something a little bit more feminine?”
Draco grabbed his wand and worked on the ring for a moment. He held it so she couldn’t see it. “Give me your hand.”
Ginny held out her hand and then he placed the ring on her finger and muttered a spell so that it shrunk to fit. Ginny smiled and looked at the ring. On one side of the ring, there was a D, and she expected to see a G on the other side. When she looked and saw an M, she frowned. “Shouldn’t my initial be on here somewhere?”
“No, I don’t think so.” Draco informed her as he picked up the rest of the jewelry and put it back in the box. He watched as Ginny attempted to move the ring from one finger to the next.
“It’s stuck,” she protested.
“Yes, it is.” he acknowledged. “Why would I give you a ring that you could take off whenever it is convenient?”
Ginny looked at him in disbelief. “I can’t believe you did that.”
“It’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
Ginny looked at the smug expression on his face, and she started to laugh. His expression softened as he sat down beside her and kissed her. When he nipped her on the neck, she teased him, “I thought we already did this once this evening.”
Draco pulled back and looked at her. “It’s your fault for trying to distract me by letting that blanket fall.”
“You think I did that on purpose?” Ginny feigned innocence. “I was distraught.”
“Right. Now why don’t you be a good girlfriend and do that whole cowboy thing again.”
Ginny laughed, and happily followed his suggestion. Later, when she was curled up against him, she whispered, “When you fall asleep, I’m going to get some indelible ink and tattoo my name on you arse.”
Draco responded dryly. “That would be fitting, since you’ve been a total pain in that area since the first time I kissed you under the mistletoe.”
“Beware the dangers of mistletoe.” Ginny whispered in a deep voice before she giggled and drifted off to sleep.
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