Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you....
I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you
-Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse
“Malfoy! Draco Malfoy!”
Draco froze at the sound of his name, recognizing the voice. Granger, damnit. He wasn’t in a good mood, in fact, his mood could only be described as positively shitty. He didn’t need her nagging and bothering him right now.
But he turned anyway, glaring at the girl, only because she was Ginny’s friend. Ginny…she hadn’t talked to him in a week. Hadn’t come to see him, had avoided him in the halls, had been careful not to cross paths with him in the prefect’s bathroom. It was driving him insane trying to figure out just where he’d gone wrong. The kiss, the mirror, what? He was so restless without her around, without seeing her face and hearing her voice every night. But none of that was as horrible as his worry for her. Had he pushed her until she’d snapped? Was she crying in her room this very moment? Staring blankly into space? Retreating into herself again?
Draco knew the only way he could get those answers was through Granger. Ginny was avoiding him like the plague. So, annoyed as he was, he forced himself to ask, “What do you want?”
The girl stopped, staring at him with pursed lips. Sometimes her lips became so pursed he was afraid she was going to suck them into her mouth and they’d never be seen again. Not that he particularly minded. “I came here to talk to you.”
“Obviously.” He glanced around at the few people on the hall. “I’ve got a reputation to uphold, Granger. It wouldn’t look good for me to be seen talking to you. Follow me.”
Of course, he didn’t have a reputation at all. In fact, any semblance of a reputation he’d once had had been shattered when he’d run away from home. But he was a danger to anyone who bothered to make friends with him, much less talk to him, and while he didn’t particularly like Granger or any of the damned Golden Trio, he didn’t want a passing Death Eater to overhear their discussion about Ginny.
Draco walked at a clipped pace, not bothering to see if the girl was following him, and stepped into an abandoned classroom. He closed the door behind Granger with a flick of his wand, then leaned against a desk, arms crossed, waiting. “Well?”
She stood there uncomfortably for a moment, shifting from foot to foot. “Ginny…” she didn’t seem to know where to begin. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath, then opened them again, face set. “What did you do to her, Malfoy? I know you two have been seeing each other, and I kept my mouth shut about it because it seemed to make her happy, but for the past week I could sense something different. She’s been reclusive and depressed and gloomy. She hasn’t been leaving in the middle of the night to see you, not that I liked her going in the first place, but that seemed to be her only source of enjoyment. The other night she…”
“She what?” Draco stood up, eyebrows furrowed. “Did she have another nightmare?”
Hermione Granger nodded. “She woke up the whole girls’ dorm with her screaming.” Draco cursed. “Malfoy, what’s going on? What did you do to her?!”
Draco glared at the girl again. He knew it was his fault, but still, the way she said it so accusingly…he knew exactly what she was thinking. She thought Draco had taken advantage of Ginny. “I did a lot of things to her, Granger. You’ll have to be more specific,” he drawled.
He could see her hand itching to grab her wand. “Did you touch her?”
“Yes. On multiple occasions.” That did it. She pulled out her wand and aimed it at his throat in a swift movement. “But not how you’re thinking, Granger. Get your mind out of the gutter.”
“Then you didn’t….molest her?”
“Hell no!” His fists clenched up and he had to force himself not to hit her. “I wouldn’t….ugh! There’s no point in trying to prove anything to you. You wouldn’t believe me. I’m a Malfoy, I’m the evil one, right? The Death Eater? Get lost, I’ve had enough of this conversation.”
“No! You will answer me. What do you two do every night when you see each other?”
He shrugged, staring out the window. “Whatever the hell we feel like doing. We talk, we do homework, we practice spells. We just…enjoy each other’s company.”
“Spells? What kind of spells?” She asked skeptically.
“The useful kind.”
“You mean illegal.”
“I means spells that would have been useful to her had she known them this summer when she needed them most.”
“That’s it?” She lowered her wand, looking confused, and on the face of Hermione Granger, know-it-all and teacher’s pet, that was a priceless expression.
“Don’t look so surprised, Granger. I’m not the bloody Death Eater you think I am.”
“I didn’t…I mean…” she searched for the right words.
“You think so, admit it. You think I’m a Death Eater, that I’m just like dear old daddy. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, correct?”
“No…Ginny told me you weren’t…” Granger sighed. “I should have believed her…But then, what did you do to her?”
“I…” he glared at the table he sat on, running his fingers along the etches in the wood. “I tried to kiss her.”
He heard the girl gasp. “You did what?! Malfoy, after all you’ve seen of her, after what she’s been through, how could you possibly think-”
“I know, alright!” He roared, standing. “I know it was stupid! I knew it would scare her away! I know it was wrong! I know! I got caught up in the moment and now I’ve ruined everything, all of our progress, and for all I know she could be in a lot of pain right now, and I can’t be there to help her cope because I caused it. I fucked up, Granger. I get it!”
She paused, open-mouthed, and stared at him. Finally, she whispered, “Merlin…you love her, don’t you?”
“What?” He seriously hoped he hadn’t heard her right.
“You love her.”
Draco turned away from her, his face set in the icy mask he had perfected from birth. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t lie to me, Malfoy. I can see straight through you.”
“It doesn’t matter. My feelings are irrelevant.”
“You really do love her. That proves it. You care more about taking care of her and making sure she is happy then letting her, or anyone else, know that you love her. I don’t think I’d realized how much of a sacrifice this is for you Malfoy.”
“What the bloody hell are you going on about, Granger?”
She sighed. “I suppose you’re right though. It doesn’t matter. What matters is fixing this problem.”
He slumped against the wall. “That seems to be the predicament.”
“Have you tried talking to her?” she asked.
Draco snorted. “As if. She won’t let me anywhere near her. And I won’t make this worse by forcing her to talk to me. I’ve ruined things enough as it is.”
Granger nodded. “That’s probably for the best…perhaps I can talk to her. Convince her to see you again so you can explain yourself. Whether or not she forgives you or returns your feelings is her own business.”
There was a silence. Then Draco asked, “Why are you doing this? Why are you helping me?”
“I’m not.” Granger turned to leave, pausing at the door. “I’m helping Ginny. You make her happy, and I want to see her happy. I want to see her get better. I don’t know if I believe in miracles, Malfoy, but if I did, I would certainly say that what you’re doing for her is one.”
And with that, she left, closing the door behind her. Draco sighed, sinking to the floor, and buried his head in his hands. All he could do now was wait.
Hermione sat down beside Ginny on the couch, a book in one hand, a blanket in the other. She offered it to Ginny, who took it thankfully and covered herself. It was freezing in the commons room, even with the fire roaring in the fireplace, Ginny having scooted the couch so close it almost touched the edge of the hearth. She wrapped the blanket around her body, still shivering, and glanced at the stained glass window, where frost was beginning to form. It was late October now, and in a month it would begin snowing. She could feel the drastic change in weather from cool and breezy to cold and frigid cut through her like a sharp knife.
A figure approached Hermione’s side of the couch, and Ginny listened to their conversation in a sleepy daze. “Oh, hello Neville. How was the test today in Divinations?”
Despite the fact that Hermione hated the class, she had offered to help Neville study for it. It was sad when a girl knew more about her worst and most hated subject that she had spent less than a year studying than somebody actually in the class. At least, that was Ginny’s opinion.
“Oh, I failed it.” Neville Longbottom blushed. “I accidentally drank my tea leaves.”
Hermione tsked and shook her head. “That’s alright, the class is a joke anyway. Sooner or later they’ll get rid of it from the curriculum.”
“Well, actually, I wanted to ask you about something, Hermione,” Neville said.
“What’s that?” the girl asked, not looking up from the book she was reading.
“It’s about the dance…the masque…I wanted to know…I mean…”
As he continued to stutter out his invitation, Ginny stared listlessly into the fire. Headmistress McGonagall had announced during dinner that night that they were having a Halloween masqued ball to “raise hopes during these dark times of war and trouble.” The Great Hall had immediately erupted in a frenzy of chatter and cheers and invitations and exclamations about costumes and dates and food and whatnot. Ginny had continued picking at her dinner, eating a few bites when she felt she could stomach it, before standing and leaving.
“Has anyone umm…invited you yet?” he stammered.
Ginny watched the drama unfold as her brother stepped up to the couch, glaring at Neville. “What’s going on?” Ron asked.
“Neville was just asking me to the ball,” Hermione said nonchalantly.
“What? Well…well what did you say?” Ron replied.
Hermione shrugged. “I haven’t said anything yet. Perhaps if you hadn’t so rudely interrupted-”
“You’re not going with him, are you?” He shot at her.
“Why not?” She shot back.
“Because…because…you can’t!” He yelled.
“Oh? And since when were you the master of me, Ronald?” Hermione asked.
“It’s just that…umm…you just can’t, okay!”
“I can do whatever I want, Ron! I am a grown woman and I can make my own decisions. Neville, I would love-”
Ginny stood suddenly with a frustrated yell, if you could call it one. Despite how quiet her angry exclamation had been, everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at her in surprise, but for once, she didn’t care. She glared at Ron and Hermione. “Honestly, would you two stop acting like children?” Ginny rolled her eyes when they gave her shocked but confused looks. “Ron, if you want to ask her out, ask her out already, damnit. Grow a backbone. Hermione, stop being such a snob and just go out with him. Honestly, I’ve never seen two people more in love who couldn’t admit it.”
Short-winded after her speech and from all of the eyes staring at her, Ginny escaped the commons to her dorm, thankful that there was no one in there. She burrowed under the covers, waiting for her racing heart to slow and her embarrassment to recede. It was at least an hour later that she heard the door open quietly, but Ginny opted to ignore it.
“Ginny?” It was Hermione. What did she want now? Ginny didn’t answer her, but pretended to be asleep.
Hermione came to sit on her bed, resting a hand on Ginny’s back. The girl flinched and hoped her friend didn’t notice. “Umm…thanks…for that speech. It worked. Ron asked me and I accepted, so I guess now I have a date to the ball.” Ginny still continued to refuse to speak. She knew Hermione knew she was awake, and she knew Hermione knew she knew that, but it was easier for both of them if they pretended she was asleep. “It’s interesting…what you said…because it’s so true. Two people can be in love and never notice it, never admit to it, for whatever reason.” The girl sighed. “I went to speak with Malfoy today.” Ginny’s heart began to speed up. “I’ve been noticing how you’ve been avoiding him lately. He told me what happened. He says he’s sorry for what he did, trying to kiss you, and I think he’s hoping you’ll forgive him and go see him again tonight. I just thought I’d relay the message to you.”
Hermione stood and left, but Ginny continued to lie perfectly still, feeling the girl’s presence still in the room. Finally, she heard her whisper, “Never saw two people more in love who couldn’t admit it.”
Draco was staring into the flames of his fireplace when he heard it. A voice, soft, delicate, beautiful, whisper his name. “Draco.”
He stood in surprise, his head turning towards the source, and saw Ginny standing in the doorway. She wore a thick warm robe, flannel pajamas, and a confused, almost frightened expression. The girl’s arms were wrapped tightly around herself and even with all her layers of clothes Draco could see her shivering. “Ginny…you’re cold. Come near the fire.” She obliged without protest, standing near the fireplace but not sitting, as if she weren’t planning on staying long.
Draco didn’t take his eyes off of her. She looked more than a little worse for wear, the dark shadows under her eyes having returned, her healthy glow faded in her pale, gaunt face, her hair hanging lankly into her eyes. He could tell she hadn’t been eating or sleeping for the past week, and he began to worry again. But Draco kept his concerns to himself.
“What uh…what bring you here?” Draco asked.
Ginny shuffled her feet, which must have become very interesting, because her eyes stayed rooted on her slippers. “Hermione told me that you were sorry. For what happened.”
Well, it wasn’t exactly true. He wasn’t sorry for trying to kiss her. He wanted to do it now, to wrap her in his arms and lay kisses all over every inch of her skin. He wanted to kiss her forever. But he was sorry that she didn’t want to kiss him back. He was sorry that she had reacted so badly, sorry that he had scared her away, sorry that he had caused her relapse. But again, Draco kept all of these thoughts to himself. “All I had to do was apologize? I didn’t think you’d forgive me that easily.”
“I haven’t yet. I’ve…I just…” Ginny shook her head, her eyebrows wrinkled in confusion. Draco hated to see that worried wrinkle in her forehead. He stood, stepping over to her, and lifted her chin, running his thumb across her brow line and smoothing out the lines that had formed there. “Draco, I didn’t like it when you did…that.”
“Did what?” he asked.
She shifted her eyes away from his. “Try to…to kiss me. And…and I just…I can’t continue being your friend if you’re going to keep trying to.”
“Ginny…” he sighed. “Why did you come back?”
“I missed you.” She admitted.
He smiled to himself. “I missed you too. And I know that you’re afraid and confused right now. I am too.” He laughed nervously, stroking her face. “Ginny, I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. And it scares the hell out of me. But I can’t just ignore it.”
Ginny shook her head, trying to back away. “Please don’t, Draco. Please don’t say those things.”
“I have to. I have to say them, Ginny. I can’t hold them in any longer. Ginny, I think this…this feeling, I think it’s the love that everyone talks about. I think it’s that mystery that men and women write about, that people have lived their whole lives trying to understand and find and feel. I think I might love you.”
Her eyes squeezed shut, her shoulders hunched, her arms folded around herself, as if she could block out what he was saying. The rejection hurt him, tore his heart in two, but he was in too deep to stop now. “Ginny…please, don’t reject me like this.”
“Draco…” she shook her head. “If you say those things, if you kiss me and promise me the world, if you fall in love with me, everything will be different. I don’t want things to be different. I’m happy with the way they are now. I’m happy being friends. Why can’t we just stay friends?”
“Who says we can’t?” Draco chuckled. “Ginny, who says this has to change anything? Whether I say it or not, I’m still going to have these feelings. That doesn’t mean that our relationship has to change. That doesn’t mean that we can’t still be friends, just friends, nothing more. They’re just words, Ginny, just words to express how I feel, and I’m such a jumble of emotions, I don’t think three words could describe it anyway. But you shouldn’t be afraid of three little words, because they aren’t going to change what we have.”
“What do we have, Draco?”
He mulled this over. “I’m not really sure. I don’t think there’s a word for this. We’re not just friends, but we’re not boyfriend and girlfriend, and besides, all those terms sound far too juvenile and simplistic. I’m not sure what we are.”
She bit on her lower lip, her eyes staring down at their clasped hands. He hadn’t even realized he’d taken her hands in his, he’d been so caught up in the moment, but he didn’t drop them. “Then…nothing is going to change, right?” she whispered.
“Right.” He answered.
“Nothing…none of that…kissing…or touching…or any of that stuff?” Ginny asked.
“None of it.” He promised.
“We’ll keep being friends?”
“Forever.” Draco said.
She nodded. “Okay…”
There was a long silence between them. Then Ginny looked up at him, head tilted to the side. “Now what?”
“Well…there’s a ball in a few weeks. Would you like to go?” Draco asked.
“As your date?” She asked.
“As whatever you want.”
“As a friend.” Ginny decided.
He nodded. “As a friend then…Can I just do one thing, though?”
Ginny looked skeptical. “What?”
Draco leaned in closer, wrapping his arms around Ginny’s back and pulling her body against his. He rested his chin on her head and closed his eyes, breathing in her scent as his body wrapped around her smaller, fragile one. He was careful not to squeeze too tight, for fear he would break her like the delicate flower that she was. And he couldn’t deny it, even if he’d wanted to…how perfectly she fit into his arms.
“Draco…Draco, what are you doing? What is this?”
“This is a hug, Ginny.” He said, as if it were obvious.
“A hug?” The girl acted as if she’d never been hugged in her life. Draco knew, in the large, loving family she’d grown up in, that she had, but she still seemed shocked by the action. “Oh…” And then she tentatively wrapped her arms around his body, lay her head on his shoulder, and hugged him back.