If Draco Malfoy had felt frustrated with himself before, it was nothing compared to how he felt now.
Now that a little time had gone by and his head was clearer than it had been then, he was more than furious with himself for helping Ginny with her homework. He'd sworn to himself not to even speak to her again, for heaven's sake.
But he had enjoyed it more than anything he'd ever done (at least, that's what it'd felt like). He had been elated at her being so very close, close enough for him to know what she smelled like, and exactly how long her eyelashes were, and how many freckles were clustered on her little nose.
Ginny, on the other hand, had been intently focused on her homework and didn't seem to notice him staring (which was definitely a good thing). The work had stumped her at first, but then he'd seen her have a breakthrough moment, and from then on it'd been easier. The moment she'd looked up at him with the light of success in her eyes, he'd felt his heart quicken.
The moment he'd got away from her almost intoxicating presence, he'd come to his senses. He was supposed to be keeping his distance, like he always had, he reminded himself. No matter that the very thought of talking to Ginny, and spending time with her, made his heart pound. He wasn't going to think about that. He would just avoid her, never talk to her again...
As luck would have it, he broke this resolve the very next morning. As he was trudging mechanically to one of his classes he heard running footsteps behind him.
Startled to hear his first name spoken at school, Draco whirled. His heart gave a familiar jump to see Ginny Weasley running towards him, waving a sheaf of papers at him.
"Draco, Draco, guess what I got!" she babbled excitedly, stopping in front of him. He'd never seen her so animated; her face was flushed, her big eyes shining.
"I got 100 percent on my assignment! 100 percent! I'venevergottena100percentinPotionsbefore!"
Draco watched her dancing eyes, rather transfixed. He couldn't think of anything to say. "Well done."
"Don't you see?! It was you, all you! I couldn't ever get a grade like that in Potions without help." She smiled, and it made her face light up. "Thank you, Draco."
Had she always called him Draco? "You're welcome."
It suddenly occurred to him that here he was, standing in a hallway full of students, and talking to Ginny Weasley. He tried to feel angry at himself, but for some reason the feeling just wouldn't come. How had things come to this? he asked himself in shock. Following her around like a puppy, then tutoring her in the library, and now this. He, Draco Malfoy, was becoming a bloody idiot. Just because of a girl. Maybe she was the only girl he'd ever really liked, and that for her entire existence at Hogwarts, but still, he did not make an idiot of himself for anyone.
Ginny suddenly looked uncomfortable. "Hey, I'll see you around, okay?" she said quickly, starting to turn around.
"I said, I'll see you around. Bye!"
She turned and walked, almost ran away, her hair swinging behind her. Draco stood where she'd left him. I'll see you around...exactly as if they were friends and spoke to each other every day. He wasn't sure how he felt about that at all.
He glanced over his shoulder and saw why Ginny had left so quickly; Potter and his two henchmen...henchpeople...were trailing up the hallway towards them. So she didn't want to be seen talking to him either...He felt rather disappointed. He turned away, having no desire to engage with the three of them in any way.
And as for Ginny? Should he let her make good on her promise to see him around? He felt a thrill of excitement. She was not being hostile to him, though she certainly had reason to be, she was talking to him, approaching him.
Idiot, you have other things to think about, he told himself. Like the goddamn vanishing cabinet. Let her rot.
Somehow, though, he knew he would do no such thing.