Ginny sped back to the common room, her mind in a whirl.
So this was what it was all about. The stalking, the staring, the strange behavior.
Draco Malfoy LIKED her, Ginny Weasley. She'd never have ever guessed it.
She could still feel the slight tremor that had gone through him when she touched him, could still feel the press of his mouth. She could still see the strangely unguarded look in his eyes when he pulled away, and how it had made him look almost...gentle. She could also remember, with a burning face, how she'd almost kissed him back, probably would have if it'd lasted longer.
And now she was confused. Being obsessed with him was one thing, having a little crush was another...but actually really liking him was impossible, right? She might think he was attractive or something, but he'd always had a rather repellent personality. Always, that is, until the last few days. She recalled all their brief, awkward conversations, right up the the long hours she'd spent with him the day before. And then, this. She couldn't deny that she had enjoyed that little moment.
She groaned. Get a hold of yourself, Ginny. It was just a kiss. And one from Draco Malfoy of all people, who had probably snogged tons of girls he didn't like at all.
She let herself into the portrait hole and walked into the common room, only to be descended upon by Ron and Hermione. Harry remained seated, looking slightly uncomfortable.
"Where have you been?" demanded Ron.
"Around," said Ginny. "Why, have you missed me?"
"Yes, yesterday after school, and I haven't seen you at all today. We thought - heavens, Ginny, I don’t know what we thought -"
"Well, think no longer. Here I am," said Ginny, and tried to side-step him.
"Where were you?" he asked again, intercepting her.
"Ron," said Harry, "I don't think anything's much the matter -"
"You never wander around after school, Ginny," Ron said, ignoring him.
"So I changed my routine for once. Big deal! Excuse me, I have homework, Ron."
"Why don't you ask Malfoy to help you?" asked Seamus Finnigan, looking around from the round table where he sat reading.
"What?!" Ginny shrieked. How could he possibly know about that?
"I saw you in the library the other day," said Finnigan. "What's it all about?"
"Malfoy?" said Hermione. "Wait a minute, is that why you asking about him the other day?"
"Why will you all make a big deal out of nothing?" Ginny demanded, knowing she was running out of excuses. "I just wondered why I wasn't seeing him around."
"And then you asked him to help you with homework?" asked Harry.
Ginny glared at the back of Finnigan's head. This was all his fault. Like anyone had asked him to butt in. "It just so happens he's really good at Potions."
"So am I!" said Hermione, outraged. "You could have asked me!"
"You were busy."
"Not that busy!"
"Look!" Ginny snapped, defeated. "I asked him once. I'll probably never do it again, all right?"
"Did he help you?" asked Harry, sounding genuinely curious.
"No," lied Ginny, and hurried past Ron up to her room; this time he let her go.
That encounter certainly had not helped her clear her head; it had instead reminded her with striking clarity that Draco Malfoy was not supposed to be a kind, friendly person under any circumstances. He was cruel and vile and rude and a bully, as his many taunts to Harry, Ron and especially Hermione had proved.
But it was possible that that was all a facade wasn’t it. People could act like anything, and Malfoy had a lot going against him, including his cruel, vile, rude, bullying father. After all, he had offered to be friends with Harry before they were sorted, or so she'd heard. She'd always thought that he must be jealous of Harry, and the way he took offence when she mentioned his name only served to strengthen that notion. And he treated his friends well enough. Everyone was like that, weren't they? They treated the people they liked and respected well and were rude to people they disliked?
But she was kidding herself. This was Draco Malfoy. This was the boy who hated her family and friends and everything that she stood for.
But then, why had he kissed her?