Authors Note: I hope you guys enjoyed Ginny's reaction in the last chapter, I've always believed her to be more mischievous than the books let on.
What will she think of Draco coming to Hermione's aid a second time?
Chapter 9: Frenemies?
Draco was grateful for the free day given before classes as he was using all of his time trying to work up the courage to talk to Hermione. He realized he didn't exactly have any common ground to build a civil conversation on, other than the fact she was stuck in a room with him, the guy who had made her life hell for six years and then worked (however unwillingly) for the maniac that wanted her and her loved ones dead. He had decided to keep it simple and just wait her out in their common area, but he had gone through every book on his shelf and was growing impatient.
If she wasn't coming here, he realized, then she was avoiding him, and that only left her two sanctuaries. The first was the Gryffindor Common Room, which he had no way of entering and then there was the library. He pinned all of his hopes on the latter.
Time to catch me a bookworm.
He had almost made it when he saw them and cursed, the other eighth year Slytherins were huddled outside the library laughing together, the sight made Draco angry and nostalgic at the same time. He could see Granger a few tables back, but he would have to pass them to reach her. He gritted his teeth and observed them momentarily. Blaise had clearly taken his place as the leader of the pack and was enjoying the attention he realized as he watched Pansy fawn on him. Theo hadn't seen him yet, which was a relief, out of all of his former friends, Theo had the most reason to hate him. He had stunned Nott Snr during the battle when he and his mother had been running from Dolohov, Theo's father had been dragged away by dementors not long after.
Draco hated that he had to cower in the corridors when he was alone but at least he wasn't in Azkaban, a fate that he owed to Potter and her of all people.
"If you're going to stare at her all-day Malfoy you could at least try to be subtle" a snarky voice quipped from behind him, "lurking around corners is kind of creepy" Ginny Weasley was smiling at him. It wasn't a full friendly smile, more like a slight upturn of the lips that said I've decided to tolerate you, don't make me regret it
"I'm not staring at her" he protested haughtily.
"Don't you see Ginny, he's trying to avoid them" a lofty voice floated over and before Malfoy could stop her Loony Lovegood had sidled up to him. Draco looked away from her pointedly and comprehension dawned on Ginny's face.
"I guess you're not the Slytherin King anymore are you?" she asked quietly.
"I don't need your sympathy Weaslette" he snarled "just tell Granger I need to talk to her" he huffed, turning to leave. This was a stupid idea, to begin with, he chastised himself, no one wanted him here.
"I could do that" Ginny considered thoughtfully as begun to walk away "or…you could just come and study with us" she suggested casually.
Draco almost stumbled as he spun around in surprise and gaped at the two young women in front of him. "Are you crazy? You do know who I am? Have you completely lost your heads?" Draco asked incredulously.
Ginny pursed her lips and thought about how best to phrase what she wanted to say to him. "Look, the way I see it Malfoy, your old friends don't want you around anymore. That means you're on your own and if today's any indication, that's not working out so well for you. So, if I were you I would take your wand out of your ass and actually listen for a moment." Ginny challenged him Impatiently, putting her hands on her hips in a very Molly Weasley like manner.
"You helped Hermione last night, don't try to deny it!" she held a hand up to stop him from speaking "and that means one of two things, either you're manipulating her, in which case I want to know your every move so I can stop you, or, you care about her, which means you'll have to make an effort with Luna and me eventually."
"So…which is it Malfoy?" Ginny looked at him defiantly. Luna merely continued to smile serenely at them both.
"And I'm supposed to believe that you just trust me all of a sudden because I didn't let Granger scream the castle down?" Malfoy cocked an eyebrow sarcastically at the fiery witch in front of him. He knew it wasn't going to be that easy to win her over.
Ginny met his stare without flinching "I never said I trusted you Malfoy, but I think Hermione wants to and we all know that you're more than capable of casting a silencio charm but you didn't" she pointed out and hesitated briefly before continuing "and…you and your mother saved my fiancé's life" she looked down at her ring hand softly before returning her eyes to his with a guarded expression. "So, I guess I'm saying that that" she took a deep breath "combined with the fact that you're no longer associating with those foul creatures" she jerked her head at the other Slytherin's "means that you've bought yourself the benefit of the doubt for today. What you do with it though is up to you?" she looked away from him steadily, letting the question linger.
Draco wasn't sure his jaw could make it any closer to the floor than it already had. Now that her brothers weren't around to overshadow her he was seeing a whole new side to the female Weasley and couldn't help but think she would've made a good Slytherin if she wasn't so bold. Her logic was flawless, and he felt trapped. He was trying to be nice to Hermione, so that she would go along with his plan, but did that mean he was manipulating her? Or did it mean that he cared about her because the plan would help them both? I'm a bloody Malfoy he hissed to himself, don't they know I'm no good at feelings?!
In the end, the question was answered for him as he noticed the Slytherin's laughter had hushed and they were all smiling sadistically at him. His self-preservation instincts screamed at him.
"Have it your way Weaslette, I need to actually get my NEWTS somehow" he sighed. He didn't add that he planned on disappearing as soon as she let him speak to Granger. Predictably, he had only taken a step forward into the library when he found his path was blocked by Theo.
"Going somewhere Traitor?" he mocked, cracking his knuckles. Before Draco could answer, Ginny had stepped in front of him and shoved Nott to one side, catching him completely off guard. She had her wand at his throat before he had even noticed her.
"Unless you want to be on the receiving end of a permanent bat bogey hex Nott, I suggest you get out of our way" she growled. Theo glowered and backed away from her wand tip.
"Filthy blood traitors" he muttered, glancing between the three of them.
"Twenty points from Slytherin for using banned language Nott" Draco blurted as he saw the flash of hurt hidden behind the fury in Ginny's eyes. It was only there for a millisecond but he knew the fierce redhead's expression too well, it was the exact same one he used to see on Granger's face when he called her mudblood. He could see now how the she-weasel had kept up with Potter for so long, he used to consider her a pretty accessory for the golden boy, but he was quickly learning that she could more than hold her own. Impressed by a Weasley, whatever next… He hummed as he watched the shock and anger merge behind Theos eyes. He sized up to him again "don't make me make it fifty" Draco glared over-dramatically as he heard whispers floating through the library and caught sight of the look of furious betrayal on Pansy's face.
"Have fun playing Gryffindor while you can Malfoy" was Theo's parting remark as he slouched off flanked by Blaise and Pansy. None of them looked back and Draco gulped. As far as they were concerned he had just disowned his house by taking points from Nott. Snakes were supposed to stick together against the rest of the school, and it was an unspoken rule that Slytherin Prefects never docked their own. Any hidden sympathizers he might have had in Slytherin would be gone. For the first time in his life, Draco Malfoy realized he had officially picked a side. It only took him another beat to realize warily that he had no idea what that actually meant.
Hermione looked up from her books in annoyance to see what all the commotion was about. When would people learn that this was a place of study? She slammed her ancient runes textbook shut in frustration.
"Filthy blood traitors" she heard and jumped to her feet at once, her eyes darting around to see who the perpetrator was. She stopped in surprise when they fell on Theo Nott's tall build across the room and she saw that he was nose-to-nose with Ginny. Both parties were glaring fiercely. She was carefully considering the best way to break them up without escalating the situation when she heard another familiar voice.
"Twenty Points from Slytherin" Draco spat "for using banned language". Several nearby students gasped in shock. People were now actively looking up from their textbooks and waiting to see how the scene would play out. Hermione faltered, she must have misheard him, he couldn't actually be defending the Weasleys against his own house.
Hermione stood bemused as she watched Malfoy grin at Ginny and Nott sauntered off. What the hell is he up to? She wanted to know. Even more confusing was that Ginny and Luna were acting as his red-sea, flanking him on either side and parting him from the other students as they approached.
"Hey Mione" Ginny dumped her bag on the table like nothing had happened.
"Hello Hermione" seconded Luna, "are you all right, you look like a Wrackspurt has got you?" Draco snorted, he wasn't used to Luna's oddities.
"Really?" Hermione stared at them both as Ginny sat down and started unpacking her quill, "no-one's going to explain that?" she gestured to the entrance of the library.
"Nott was being a prick as usual, what's to explain…" Ginny answered breezily "oh and I asked Malfoy to come study with us? Luna do you have my plan for the potions essay Slughorn set us on Amortenti…
"a…" Ginny finished timidly as Hermione dropped her heavy texts straight on to the table.
Ginny winced as her arm was seized and dragged forcefully behind a bookcase. Draco had not said anything throughout the exchange but was now feeling incredibly exposed. He tried to listen but all that could be heard was an irritating buzzing noise whenever he got near their bookcase barrier.
Hermione had cast a wandless muffliato just in time. "What the hell Gin, this whole time you were telling me I was crazy for going anywhere near him!" Hermione glared.
"And I still think that you should stop thinking about kissing him and sleeping in his bed!" Ginny defended "nothing good can come of being with a Malfoy Hermione, even if I'm right and he doesn't care about blood anymore, the Malfoy Men are notorious womanizers."
"I do not think of him like that" Hermione gasped "and if this isn't some crazy match-making scheme then what the hell are you playing at? I came here to get away from him!" she hissed.
Ginny looked at the floor. "Have you seen the way they treat him, Mione? He walks around here like he's homeless. He refuses to associate with his own house and the other three want nothing to do with him. He's the Head Boy but no one actually listens to him. He just…drifts."
"I'd noticed," Hermione said uncomfortably.
"Well, I guess I didn't really think about it until last night when he called me to help you" Ginny mused, truth be told she still wasn't sure if she had done the right thing by extending a courtesy to a Malfoy, it went against decades of carefully bred Weasley instincts.
"He was an arrogant prat and a horrible bully, but he was also a child with a horrible example to follow, he clearly didn't want to be a Death Eater, we all saw that. In fact, you pointed it out in sixth year" she reminded Hermione shrewdly.
"So now you're buddying up with Malfoy because he wasn't officially a death eater?" Hermione asked incredulously.
"Of course not!" Ginny snapped. "But now he's on the receiving end of all the horrible treatment, all because his mother saved Harry's life! I know it doesn't excuse everything he did, but it just made me think that, well, we're supposed to be the light side right? People follow our lead, even though we hate it, yes? So, if Malfoy is genuinely remorseful and we stand there and let the others target him like he targeted us, well what does that say about me and you?"
Hermione shifted uncomfortably, she knew Ginny was right and that she needed to be emotionally mature about this, but she already didn't know what to make of how hot and cold Malfoy had been with her in the week running up to the start of term. She wondered what Luna's take was on Ginny's Malfoy induced personality transplant.
"Luna!" she gasped, she and Ginny exchanged a worried look and darted out from the bookcase to check on their forgotten friend.
"You want to change your phrasing here" Draco was ranting and scribbling on a piece of parchment belonging to a horrified and confused Neville Longbottom. Meanwhile Luna seemed to be taking notes on what he was saying. "potions is a science, so your instructions have to be exact, you don't cut the pods, you CRUSH them with the side of the knife, if you were to slice them you wouldn't get the required amount of juice and your whole potion would be a dud".
"Thank you ever so much Draco" Luna smiled at him and passed the parchment back to a flabbergasted Neville. Neville just looked around helplessly until he spotted that Hermione and Ginny had returned.
"Mione" he sighed in relief when he saw them. "I was just looking for you" he waved his potions assignment at them and then frowning as he remembered it was now already fixed, gave Luna and Malfoy a pointed glance as if to say What's up with that?
"Ginny is on a rescue mission to save the Head Boy's soul" Hermione sighed in response, throwing him a dramatic smile.
"Riiight" Neville didn't look particularly convinced but he seemed to relax visibly when he saw Dean and Seamus walking his way. "So, it's like adopt a Slytherin day today or something?" he gave a nervous laugh.
"I just said he could study with us" Ginny muttered irritably.
"Let me know how that works out for you," Neville said, hurrying off to hi-five his friends about something that was probably quidditch related.
Only once he'd left did it become apparent that Malfoy hadn't taken his eyes off Hermione since they returned. His face was impossible to read when his guard was up, and it exasperated her to no end that she could never tell what he was thinking. Harry and Ron were always open books, they would wear their emotions all over their face so blatantly that even a fool could tell when something was bothering them. She didn't know how he managed it, but Malfoy's eyes gave nothing away, they were completely still silver, like walls of ice.
Authors Note Poor Neville! I feel like he would be so confused here but Draco doesn't like to stand around doing nothing and he can't stand Potions errors, he is Professor Snape's godson after all!
I wanted to show Ginny's grown up side in this chapter as she was a quiet observer for much of the war until the final battle and I think she can be a very insightful character. I kind of felt like we didn't get to see much of her emotional development outside of her relationship with Harry in the books.
What do we think it means for Draco now that he has publicly sided against the Slytherins? Please let me know your thoughts in the reviews, I love getting your feedback!