Behind a Green Curtain

Chapter 5

Ginny was thoroughly confused.

Draco Malfoy was Draco Malfoy. He teased, he taunted, he bullied, he caused trouble, he made war on Harry and Ron and Hermione. He didn't know Ginny from a can of paint, she was sure. And he didn't follow people around and then play games with them when they confronted them about it.

But here he was, doing all that and more.

She had asked him, straight to his face, three times, what he was up to, and he had refused to tell her. He denied everything.

If she was going to be honest with herself, she had known he probably would. Whatever the hell he was watching her for, it was unlikely he’d admit the reason. So it was high time to find another approach.

That night, in the library, as she was struggling with her Potions homework and hoping against hope that her plan would work, just as she was deciding it was no good and she should take her books back to her dorm and work there, she saw him, sitting at a table near the back of the library, on his own. He was always on his own these days.

Ginny took a breath, gathered up her homework, and walked over to his table. He didn't notice her until she dropped her armful in front of him. He glanced up from his book then, with a scowl that very nearly made her pick up her books and leave again.

"I've no interest in talking to you about this again," he began crossly.

"Then you should be happy," said Ginny. "I've come to ask for your help."

"My help?"

"Yes, I stink at Potions."

"Why would I help you? Ask that Mudblood Granger to help you," said Malfoy, turning his back.

"I can't, she's busy."

He looked up at her suspiciously, and she found she was starting to feel really dumb. What had she been thinking? Why would he want to help her? But she remained obstinately still and silent.

"Sit down," he said, shutting up his book.

"What?"

"I'm not saying it again."

Ginny sat down in a flutter of surprise and satisfaction. She opened her book and showed him what she was working on. He reached for the book, his fingers brushing her own for a second, and she noticed that his hand was shaking. She looked up at him in surprise and noted - but had she imagined it? - that his pale face was tinged with color.

"What are you looking at?" he snapped, and she turned back to her book. She realized that she had not expected him to say yes, that she had asked him for help simply to see what he would say. But here he was, really helping her. She smiled to herself and focused on her work.

Over the next half hour, she stayed focused on her work...and also on the boy beside her. Draco spoke in an unusually soft tone, quiet unlike the harsh one he usually took, and he was very patient. Ginny began to wonder if what she'd always thought she knew about him was really true, that he couldn't really have a soft side. She knew she was rather bad at Potions, and Draco exceptionally good, but he never seemed annoyed when she couldn't catch up with him. He was also a surprisingly good teacher, and she found that she clearly understood the work.

When they had come to the last problem, she stared over her homework in amazement. "It's all done!" she said.

"It is," Draco agreed.

"It hasn't even been an hour!" She looked up at him, unable to hide her elation. "It never takes me this short of a time to finish my homework."

He stared at her, his mouth wavering as if he were unsure whether or not to smile. Ginny reached out and squeezed his arm impulsively. "Thanks, Draco, you're a really good teacher."

Draco got to his feet at once, knocking over his chair, and this time he flushed visibly. Muttering something she couldn't hear, he hurried down the aisle and out of sight.

Ginny sat staring after him. This was some of the oddest, most erratic behavior she'd ever witnessed from him, or from anyone. What on earth was going on with him? He almost acted like he was shy of her, but that couldn't be possible, could it? He was Draco bloody Malfoy, wasn’t he? Not some lovesick Michael Corner.

She gathered up her books and left the library.
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