“That’s disgusting,” Malfoy grimaced and took a step backward from the stairwell.
Harry disentangled himself from Ginny, pulling his wand out. “What exactly, Malfoy? There’s no mirror about so you must be mistaken.”
Malfoy drew his wand as well. “Watch it, Potter,” he sneered. “There’s no teachers about to protect your scrawny ass.”
“Harry, he’s not even worth it,” said Ginny, placing her hand on Harry’s and gently forcing his wand down. “Let’s just go.”
“Yeah, go find someplace else to snog.” Malfoy shook out his robes. “You’re shedding everywhere, Weasley. Ever heard of a hairbrush?” He turned on his heel and strutted past them toward the library.
Harry curled his arm around Ginny’s shoulders. “I don’t know why he always crops up whenever we’re together.”
“Oh, it’s not just him. It was Ron last time. That was terribly awkward, Harry. Maybe Malfoy’s right and we should find someplace more private.” She looked up at the enormous clock above them. “Oh, I’m late for transfiguration. I have to go.”
He grabbed her hand. “Tonight, if I can get rid of Ron…”
“I’m late, Harry.”
He pulled her back for a kiss. “Say yes.”
“McGonagall’s going to kill me.”
“That’s not yes.”
“Fine, Harry, yes,” she laughed, “now please, I have to go.”
He let go of her arm and watched her walk away, running his fingers through his unkempt hair. Wandering back toward the common room, he swirled his wand through the air, blue sparks twirling in his path.
Halfway back to the Gryffindor Tower, Malfoy stepped out in front of him, a book under each arm. “You’re everywhere, Potter,” he groaned.
“A little like you? Can’t you just pick a gutter and go die in it already, Malfoy?”
Malfoy’s face contorted. He dropped his books and whipped his wand around before Harry could react, but instead of the curse Harry was expecting, a jet of warm air rippled over him, stirring through the folds of his robes.
“What was that? Don’t have the courage to curse me properly, without your goons?” Harry goaded.
“No, not with Flitwick coming down the corridor.” Malfoy stuffed his wand back up his sleeve. “Rain check, Potter?” And he turned the corner, robes whipping around behind him.
“Isn’t that weird, though?” Harry asked Ron back in the common room. Ron’s queen had just smashed her throne over the back of Harry’s bishop. “Shit.”
“You’re not paying proper attention, mate,” Ron chuckled. “And, yeah, I agree, it’s strange, but you wouldn’t have wanted to get caught dueling either.”
“I suppose. Hey, what are you doing tonight?”
“Well, Hermione’s mad at me about something, so I guess trying to struggle through that Astronomy essay alone. Why? Got big plans?”
Harry shrugged. “Naw. I was going to go to the library, I think, maybe help Ginny with some Charms stuff…”
Ron sat up straighter. “Charms? Charming what, exactly?”
“Just homework, Ron.”
“Oh, come off it, Ron, it’s not like that.”
Ron grinned reluctantly. “I know what it’s like. Just don’t forget she’s my sister.”
“It’s always in the front of my mind, mate, anytime we’re snogging. Your face, scowling, spoiling my fun.”
“Gross. Shut up, Harry.”
Harry laughed, moved a pawn and watched Ron’s knight leap upon it, his thoughts already spinning toward the room of requirement.
“Harry, I’m really sorry, but I don’t think I’ll have time tonight,” Ginny said as they made their way toward The Great Hall for dinner. Her face was flushed after a February Care of Magical Creatures class and Harry couldn’t help but kiss her. She trailed her index finger down his jaw line and pulled away. “I just have so much homework. If I leave it all until this weekend, I’ll never finish.”
“It’s okay, I get it,” he said, unable to keep the strain of disappointment out of his voice. “Do you want help with any of it?”
“Honestly, Harry, I think you’d be more of a distraction than a help.” She reached up to straighten his tie. “I’ll get as much done as I can, and maybe we can do something late tonight, but I can’t make any promises.”
“Alright. I’ll just hope for the best. Ron’s going to be around the tower tonight, so I’ll wait in the Room of Requirement, okay?”
“Well thank God you’ve decided against another stairwell,” Malfoy said as he came up behind them, a sneer at his lips. “I’ve just had a lovely dinner and I’d hate to lose it all by stumbling upon you two again.”
“Piss off, Malfoy!” Harry spun around. “Don’t you have anything better to do than skulk around listening in on people’s conversations?”
“Yeah,” Malfoy said, sweeping his hair out of his eyes. “Loads. Loads more than you, who will be sitting all alone tonight, keeping yourself company, up on the 7th floor…”
“Let’s just go eat, Harry,” Ginny said, feeling Harry’s arm twitch below her hand.
He let her lead him away from Malfoy, toward the wafting aromas of a Hogwarts dinner. Ginny ate quickly. She kissed him on the cheek before she left, whispering that she’d meet him if she could and rushing off to her homework.
He could have waited in the common room, feigning productivity with Ron but it would have been awkward for both he and Ginny to try to sneak away, and there was always the chance of the Room being taken. But the Room provided well and he was not bored.
It was much smaller than it had been during DA meetings, but tonight, it only needed to be big enough for two. There was a white marble fire place which Harry hadn’t lit, a long and squishy, purple couch which he sat on now, and a bed, sporting towers of pillows in the centre of the room. A pool table had sprouted when Harry had grown bored and, even after three games, He didn’t wish it way. It might be handy later on.
At 11:15, he yawned, and threw aside the darts he’d been playing with. A solitary evening playing Muggle games was not what he’d had in mind that afternoon. He flopped back on the bed, scattering pillows.
“Oh, you’re not falling asleep, are you?”
Harry shot up. Ginny was pulling the door closed behind her. “You finished your homework, then?”
“Enough.” She tucked a curtain of hair behind her ear and sat beside him.
“I was starting to think you weren’t coming.”
“I couldn’t concentrate, thinking about you up here waiting for me.”
“Well, you know how I hate to keep you from your studies…”
Ginny kissed his smile and pulled away a few seconds later, eyebrows raised. “A pool table, Harry?”
He grinned sheepishly. “Well, yeah…I thought we might, shake things up a bit. If you’re up for it, of course.”
“Oh, I’m definitely up for it,” she said and Harry reached for her. She leaned over, tugging his shirt tails out of his trousers and ran her palms over his torso. Grinning, Harry shed his shirt and unbuttoned Ginny’s.
“Well,” he said, circling her waist with his hands, “which surface should we try out first?”
“It’s really late,” Ginny giggled, rolling off Harry’s chest and scooping her jeans off the floor. Harry wrapped his arms around her as she put them on, nuzzling her neck.
“It’s not that
“What if Ron’s waiting up?” She asked, fishing around the blankets for her bra.
“Even if he tried to stay awake, he’ll have fallen asleep by now.”
She found it and clasped it below her shoulder blades. “I have to go.”
“I want to.” She leaned down and kissed him deeply. “You have no idea how badly I want to stay,” she whispered. “But I can’t.” She stood up and scanned the room for her shirt and spotted it below the pool table. She leaned down to grab it.
“Accio Ginny’s shirt,” Harry said from the bed. It flew to him.
Hands on her hips, she crossed back to him. Harry caught her elbow and rolled her back onto the mattress.
“Stay,” he said, his mouth inches from her own. “Stay all night.”
“Harry, I’m so sorry, but I can’t.”
Harry sighed and handed Ginny her blouse. She took it and shrugged it on, then stood to leave. She ran her fingers through Harry’s hair, cupping the back of his neck for a moment, and leaned down to kiss him lightly once more. “Promise we’ll do this again,” she whispered.
“Are you kidding?” Harry kissed her hand. “Next time, I’m gonna try to get us a hot tub.”
She smiled and darted out the door. Harry smiled and leaned back, his arms behind his head.
Ginny sprinted down the deserted hall and through a door on her left. She locked the stall door, crossing her arms over her stomach, shaking. Her skin was boiling. She stripped off her clothes again and leaned against the stall, her forehead pressed against the cool wall until the sensation subsided.
In a ball behind the toilet, the robes were still there. Draco drew them out and pulled them on. He stepped out of the stall, brushing his damp blond hair out of his face, and strutted back toward the dungeons, catching his breath as he passed the Room of Requirement but not daring to glance at the door.