Chapter 4- Letters
So, you said you wanted to write, but I don't know what to say.
It was a pretty stupid letter, but it had been three days since their disastrous tea. School would be starting soon.
What was it like to grow up with six brothers?
His letter came the next morning. From her mother, already opened. Ginny regretted not getting to see the owl. She had noticed his large eagle owl before at Hogwarts. Now that she considered it, Ginny wasn't really sure how anyone at Grimmauld Place got mail when it was under the Fidelius and unplottable, and whatever else. But his owl was clearly fast, and Ginny supposed that little Pigwidgeon was too.
Mostly it was great, and I learned a lot of things I probably wasn't supposed to. There was always someone to play with, except when they were being jerks, but usually someone even then. The last weeks have been… It's too crowded, I feel like I can't breathe, and that never bothered me before. My oldest brother came to visit, and my second oldest brother wrote saying that he wished he could. It would be great if it wasn't so awkward why they want to see me. I think everyone is just waiting for me to scream.
Ginny wasn't sure what had made her write anything that private. She really hoped that her letters weren't being read…
Maybe she wrote it because Draco Malfoy might actually understand. Bill really hadn't had anything to say when he came to see her.
"Hey Ginny," he'd greeted her. No 'Ginny bean' but it had been years since then. Years when she didn't see him often. Not that she'd ever really seen him often.
"Hey," she'd answered.
"Sharing with Hermione?" he asked, indicating the empty bed.
"Yeah. I'm sure she's with the boys now," Ginny said. Ginny had been with them earlier, but had wanted to be alone, and then she didn't anymore. And it was just meaningless conversation, because Bill wouldn't care where Hermione was.
"Yeah," he agreed anyway. "Having a good-" he started to try to say something pleasant. "Sorry."
Ginny groaned, "It's fine," she said. Even though it wasn't fine.
"That paper says I can't hurt any Malfoy?" her brother confirmed.
Ginny laughed, "Yes, unfortunately. Or influence anyone else into doing so. It's pretty explicit."
"And you've been writing him?" he asked.
"Yeah, harmless stuff," Ginny said, shrugging. He'd probably read all of it like the rest of the Order. "How have you been?" Ginny asked sitting straighter. "Tell me something good going on in your life," she said. "Anything."
"I- I'm seeing someone. Probably the worst thing to mention, sorry, Ginny bean," he said.
"No, tell me about her," Ginny insisted. She still wanted her brother to be happy. It was normal. Even if she wouldn't have it. Because she didn't really think whatever Dumbledore was working on would work.
"She- do you remember the French Champion from the Triwizard Tournament?" Bill asked. His face was red. Even Bill Weasley was not immune to Weasley red. "Her name's Fleur Delacour," he went on. "She works at Gringott's now, and she's very nice. I- haven't told anyone yet, so don't spread it around, okay?" he checked with her.
"I won't," Ginny promised.
"Love you, Ginny, I'll say goodbye before I leave," he promised.
Ginny was happy for her brother, really. Because he had a new, gorgeous girlfriend who he got to pick himself. And Ginny was the first person he'd told, which made her feel special, mature. Of course, Bill was also there for an Order meeting, that Ginny wasn't allowed to be part of, because she was still a child. She wondered how much of the Order meeting was spent talking about her again.
Draco wrote back the next day:
"Mother has four rooms to herself. Father has four as well, and I have three. There's plenty of rooms that no one really cares about. I would deny saying this, but extra space doesn't make anyone happier."
That was the sort of dangerous messages that had to be screened by the Order. Her father had looked so uncomfortable handing her that one. Guilty maybe. They all should feel awful for talking behind Ginny's back when any Gryffindor should at least have the decency to… let her know or something.
Draco was nicer over letters, Ginny decided.
Ginny had tried to write a few things next- maybe about the quidditch pitch and stealing her brothers' brooms… because he probably wouldn't mock her for being poor in a letter, even if he'd think it- maybe. But Draco wrote again first.
I believe you. It was terrible.
It wasn't even signed, which made Ginny realize that she recognized Draco's handwriting by now.
"Ginny dear, it could be important for us to know what that means," her mother said like she expected Ginny to explode or something. Her mother never would have acted like that before the contract.
And now everyone crowded around to read it too- well, Fred, George, and Ron at least. And Hermione looked really curious, and Harry looked like he was trying not to look curious.
"I think it means that Tom-that You-Know-Who- was there," Ginny said slowly. Tom was the name she used. She couldn't at first. But she figured that it would be the name he hated the most. "I'm sure it does. Draco sort of knew that his father was a Death Eater but… he didn't completely. And he didn't believe that He was back at first. So, Draco's seen him now," Ginny said and looked around the room. Her brothers and Harry, and especially Hermione looked… like they felt sorry for Draco. "But since he said was, not is, I don't think he's still there- Tom- You-Know-Who, I mean," Ginny pointed out.
"That does make sense," her father agreed, looking worried. "We'll need to call for an Order meeting, Molly."
That evening, Ginny stared at a blank piece of parchment. She had to write it now to be sure Pigwidgeon got out of sight before the meeting was over, and she still had to avoid her siblings, if she wanted to be sure no one read her letter… of course, Draco's parents might go through his mail too.
'That sucks,' was all she'd thought of to say so far, and it seemed like a pretty poor letter, that Draco Malfoy might not even understand.
A subdued Draco Malfoy stood at King's Cross that September 1st. It had been the worst summer of his life, and a surprisingly small portion of that was because he was betrothed to Ginny Weasley.
It was much worse that You-Know-Who had been in his house. Draco didn't even know what to think of him as. His real- or fake or whatever name, Lord V- name was terrifying, and the 'Dark Lord' was too… reverent. 'Tom' was almost bearable, but Draco certainly couldn't say that aloud.
And just having a marriage contract was way more to worry about than any of his classmates would have- well, maybe they would soon, but at least it would have been their parents to work that out and not their long dead ancestors.
Why couldn't there have been another Weasley girl born in the last five or six generations? But- would Draco be Draco if there had been? Would his father ever have been born? His father who had so badly hurt an eleven-year-old Ginny Weasley, terrified the whole school. Would the world be better without any of the recent Malfoys?
Draco was just supposed to be thinking about school. It was his OWL year.
Pansy would know about the betrothal by now. That would be awkward. Pansy had said the year before that their parents were considering a marriage alliance with the Malfoy family, though Draco had also known his parents talked about the Greengrass girls. Probably the younger one, because Daphne was already at least tentatively promised to some wizard probably close to twice her age from Italy. The younger Greengrass, Astoria, seemed so young, a year younger than Ginny even, and so much… less something… less interesting maybe. He couldn't possibly be thinking something nice about Weaslette. Though that would probably make marrying her easier.
And Draco had to see Pansy sooner than expected, at the inane Prefect meeting, which he had almost forgotten about, and he really needed to consider withdrawing from. Was he chosen because his father was friends with his Head of House, or because there had to be a boy and a girl from each year, and Draco was the least bad choice? Though how they could have picked Pansy... every other Slytherin girl must have turned it down, even Millicent. Pansy spent the incredibly dull meeting trying to catch his attention. Surely all of the fifth years knew what prefects had to do by now? And it wasn't a good sign that the sixth and seventh years had to sit through the same thing, when their job wasn't any different.
Show the first years to their dormitories- as if they couldn't follow everyone else at their table. Watch the children so they didn't get into trouble- how vague was that? Take house points only from your own house- what kind of person would take points from their own house? Get all detentions approved by a teacher before assigning them- what fun was that?
Weasley- yes, Ronald Weasley was somehow a prefect- was staring daggers at Draco the whole time. Granger looked at him often too- neglecting her duties already. Everyone thought Granger was such a goody-goody, but she broke almost as many rules as the other two. She looked- sorry for him?
Draco slipped out of the meeting first. He found Crabbe and Goyle alone in the same compartment he'd left them in- not their normal compartment from the last few years. Those two were almost a relief. They were dim-witted enough that they probably hadn't even retained the news of their classmate's engagement, if they ever heard of it anyway.
All he had to do was keep quiet and not suggest they roam around the corridor like previous train rides, and they could avoid the Gryffindors too. However, selecting a different compartment from their usual one could only keep the other Slytherins in his year away from him for so long. Pansy and Theodore Nott arrived only a few minutes after Draco had settled. Pansy was much more ostentatious in her arrival, pretending to ignore Draco at first- like Draco had ignored her in the prefect meeting. Draco knew that Theo was the one that he really needed to be careful around- a fellow Death Eater's son, apparently. Maybe the quiet boy knew more about their fathers' interests than Draco had.
"Oh, Draco, it's absolutely horrible, that ratty old poor family trying to get at your money," Pansy hissed, eyes angrier than her pseudo-sympathetic words suggested. "And that ugly cow you've been saddled with. She'll probably shoot up like her brothers and balloon out like her mother. Frumpy little thing, isn't she?" Pansy insisted.
Draco wasn't sure what to say in this company and not sure what he thought of Ginny himself. She was a little young, he supposed, but there wasn't anything wrong with her physically.
"Poor and no social standing to speak of, yes," came Blaize Zabini's drawl from the open door. He shut the door behind him. "She's also a filthy blood traitor from all appearances. Her family certainly is. But she isn't- unfortunate looking. I suspect Pansy is upset because certain flimsy negotiations on the part of her family have been dropped," he said, settling himself gracefully in the far side of the compartment next to Nott. "A month ago, I would have said that I wouldn't go anywhere near such a blood traitor no matter what she looked like. However, perhaps being a blood traitor won't be an issue with the girl, as Draco will be telling her how to think in the future, yes? She is young and moldable," the boy said… as if they weren't fifteen-year-olds talking about a fourteen-year-old.
"Of course," Draco lied. From the relatively little that he knew about Ginny Weasley, she could hold her own in a family with six older brothers, and she was not a young woman to be taken lightly. And she wouldn't give a damn what Draco thought about anything if she didn't agree.
Going back to Hogwarts was awkward, but she was relieved to get out of that house. She felt like everyone was staring at her all the time. It gave her a lot more sympathy for Harry. Though she didn't have an invisibility cloak to hide under if she wanted to. And if she did have one, she'd keep it as more of a secret. But this new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor seemed bent on making everyone's year miserable. Educational decrees? Did they really need more rules? Ginny was slightly nervous for Fred and George- though this Umbitch woman needed to be worried about herself. Ginny would take it upon herself to get that new name for the woman spread around the school.
A school owl landed in front of Ginny a few days into term.
She acts like we all love her, especially anyone with a connection to the Ministry. But if I wanted to take a boring class where we just read from the book, I study for History of Magic.
It wasn't signed, and it was delivered by a school owl, but Ginny knew who it was from as she slipped it into her bag, smiling. It was nice to have someone to vent to that wasn't… in your house, Ginny supposed. Umbridge was a problem. She was already putting Harry through awful detentions every night, from what Ginny had heard.
Ginny wrote later that night:
I call her Umbitch. And I have "Defence" and I have History of Magic in the same morning. I might try to skive off History and see if Binns even notices.
The next morning, before Draco had even gotten her letter, he had sent another.
I heard your brother made the quidditch team. Gryffindors should keep quiet if they want to keep surprises. I suppose he had practice with your family being larger than a quidditch team.
That was… almost nice, or at least neutral. And it was mostly true that Gryffindors didn't often try to keep secrets, or at least her family didn't- except with the Order. Ron was thrilled to be on the team.
Well, if they had full team tryouts each year instead of just filling empty spots, maybe the team would be even more ginger. And what is with Slytherin not having any girls on their team? Is that something that proper pureblood ladies don't do?
So, it was a sore subject that she wouldn't even have a chance of proving her worth as a chaser until her fifth year. And she never even really got to consider trying to be a seeker because of Harry being just a year older. But he was probably too good anway. And keeper had never appealed to her, nor had beater.
The next day,
I intend to drop both of my electives after this year. Will you do the same?
So, they were having two very slow conversations now, one on classes, the other on quidditch, updating on alternate days, since all the letters were delivered in the morning. Ginny didn't look anywhere near the Slytherin table during owl post delivery.
The year wasn't going great. Defence was the worst, and she didn't love many of her classes, really. And now Umbitch was the High Inquisitor and inspecting their teachers? Ginny hoped that she got to see the woman question Snape. Would she inspect each teacher only once, or once for every year? Ginny would have questioned when she had time, when she was supposed to be preparing for her own new classes- but Umbitch's classes couldn't have taken any work, when she just had them reading from their book every class.
Ginny had her Defence text open that evening, though really she was writing another letter to Draco, when Lavender Brown walked up, Parvati Patil just behind her.
"Are you writing to Draco again?" the blond witch asked. In the middle of the common room where anyone could hear- though she wasn't that loud.
"Just working on an essay," Ginny said, tucking the parchment into the pages.
"Do you begin all of your essays with 'Dear Draco'?" she pressed.
It was just a draft to help her think. She wasn't going to send anything that started 'Dear Draco.'
"Fine. But I'm just trying to be nice because it looks like we might be stuck together, no matter what either of us wants," Ginny said, staring the older girls down.
"It could be worse. You could be getting married to a man twice your age who lives in another country," Parvati pointed out neutrally.
"Oh, don't listen to her. He's only twenty-seven, and he's handsome, and Parvati likes him, or she could tell her parents no. But Draco Malfoy isn't bad looking either, and he's very rich. His mother is always very well dressed," Lavender went on.
So Parvati had a marriage contract already in the making, but she got input on hers, at least. Lavender wasn't from an old wizarding family, Ginny didn't know if she was even pure-blood, so she probably didn't have anyone trying to force her into a marriage. Though, Ginny's mother could have been a muggle, and a Weasley girl born still would have had to marry Draco Malfoy. That would have been interesting- not that Lucius Malfoy could have possibly reacted any worse than he already had- or maybe he could have. Ginny shivered.
"Ooh, remembering something? A good kiss maybe?" Lavender asked. Ginny had never had an opinion on the girl before, but now really disliked her. Ginny didn't really talk to the Gryffindor girls in her own year, and there were only three of them, the smallest group Ginny knew of. "I could read some tea leaves for you," she offered. "I have my own set now."
"No thank you," Ginny said. "I don't have much of a taste for tea at the moment," she said, standing and grabbing her book, parchment still shoved inside. She needed more friends. Maybe she'd try to talk with Luna sometime. The girl was a good friend, and also highly distracting.
Ginny finished her letter in her room, tearing off the address line when she was done.
I'll probably drop both too, but I'll see how my other OWLs go. We should just meet up to really talk, no one around, no lying. I propose the night that you get this, fifth floor, two rooms down from your prefect bathroom, right after dinner. Come if you aren't scared.
Ginny read his note the next morning (What quidditch position do you play?) but couldn't help but look up at Draco when he read hers. It was a risky move, having them meet in person. They could exchange cordial letters, but their in-person interactions had been less pleasant.
When Draco looked up, Ginny quickly started a conversation with Colin Creevey next to her.
The fifth floor was much closer to Gryffindor Tower than the Slytherin dungeons, which would seem to give Weasley the advantage, especially since she had proposed the location. But, it was an easily found location, and she had mentioned his position of authority as a prefect. It was also possible that the Weasley girl hadn't considered tactical advantage in her letter and location of choice.
"So, we can ask each other anything?" Draco asked as soon as Ginny walked in, mostly because he had intentionally arrived first and wanted to speak first as well. He was not at all sure that he was okay with this arrangement, but he could always refuse a question or lie if it got too uncomfortable.
"Seems to be a decent way to do this. We need to know if we can trust each other through all of this, right?" Ginny reasoned.
Draco thought, deciding it was the best power play to ask the first question. When he settled on what he wanted to know most, he wasn't exactly sure how to ask, "Have you ever... I mean, I know you were only thirteen, but had you ever… been with a- man?" That hadn't come out smoothly like he wished. It was a stupid, insecure question too, but it was all he could think of, over and over again.
Ginny raised an eyebrow in an almost endearing way. Draco could feel the heat rising on his face. "I wouldn't call any of the boys around here men, but no. I haven't "been" with anyone like I think you mean. But you can ask specifics. How about you, have you ever had sex?" Ginny shot back, clearly not shy about it.
"No," Draco muttered. "You should know that it isn't done that way in society. Risking embarrassing situations and future inheritance issues. It's not worth it." That and Draco knew that none of the pureblood girls would do it anyway.
"Sure. That's why. How far have you gone?" Ginny pressed.
"I've kissed several girls. Pansy most often. And some touching too. She let me feel over her top," Draco worded, a bit smugly.
"It's called a breast, Draco. And who are these other several girls?" the red-head smirked. She was clearly more comfortable with this discussion than he was, for all that he was the male and a year older. The whole Weasley clan was probably open to talking about these things. Her parents certainly must have had enough of it to have all those kids. It just wasn't the way he was used to. Marriage was companionable respect. Love and desire just didn't have to be part of it. Separate bedrooms, little nighttime interaction between them, he thought. His parents already had the heir that they needed, after all. He had inklings in the past that there might have been other people in each of his parents lives occasionally- but they were discrete if they did.
"Tracie. And Millicent," he said blushing. "But it was just a game. There was a lot of daring, but one of the older years found out and said it was a muggle game, so we had to stop before much of anything happened anyway," he admitted, his face probably as bright as a Weasley. Malfoys didn't blush.
"I've only kissed Michael Corner," Ginny offered. "He tried to get more, but I wouldn't let him. He'd hinted that we'd dated long enough that other girls would have given him sex by then," she said lightly, "But I doubt he's ever been successful with those lines." Draco found himself annoyed at Michael Corner, a boy he had barely known the existence of previously.
The spirited girl didn't seem to be done discussing, "Do you want to kiss? To see how it goes? Nothing more than that. Closed lips, at least for the first one. Hands at waist, upper back, neck, or cheek only," Ginny said, actually laying down rules as Draco could barely think with his heart beating faster.
"Okay," he managed to reply, throat and lips feeling terribly dry. It would probably be horrible for her. Pansy had told him he wasn't very good at it.
Draco was glad that she wasn't a giant like her brothers, though she wasn't short for a girl her age. She probably wasn't done growing yet, though Draco hoped he would still grow too. As it was, the top of her head came to about his eye-level, he noticed as she stepped closer.
The girl grabbed the collar of his robe and tilting her head to her right, pressed her lips against his. Damn, she would have credit for their first move. And it was nice, smooth, he analyzed dimly. No over eager nose or teeth bumping as he'd had before. And he was just standing there like an idiot. When he was worried suddenly that she was pulling away he reached a hand for her waist and pulled her a bit closer, hoping she wouldn't mind. Since she continued kissing him, a bit more forcefully even, Draco didn't think she minded.
"Would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me?" Draco managed when Ginny finally pulled her head away. His voice was embarrassingly high. That was a grand gesture, almost. Being seen in public with Ginny Weasley. It was the only thing he could think of to save face after she had been so in control.
"Why, yes I would, good sir. Though I wouldn't say no to a bit more kissing first," she said, leaning in, arms wrapping fairly tightly around his neck. Draco moved his hips back away from her slightly, glad that wizarding robes were loose, but leaned in and continued kissing her, cheeks ablaze, though he couldn't bring himself to care.
The next morning, there was another letter from Ginny. Did she want to keep writing? Should he have sent her something? Were they going to be publicly something now? He had asked her to Hogsmeade after all.
I'm a Chaser, but a pretty good Seeker too.
And now she'd signed her note, which clearly meant something.
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