Rating: PG13, for language.
Possible warnings/spoilers: None.
Author’s note: Unfortunately I don’t think this is horrendously canon but I kind of just wanted to write something that tried to realistically deal with the moment when someone reveals they like you.
Summary: Draco really wishes Ginny would start paying attention.
Hello, darling reader, this is the tale of how I finally learned to pay attention…
With a loud slapping noise something flies unceremoniously into the side of my head and I slip off my broom and onto the squelchy pitch. Mud splatters everywhere. Thankfully I'd only been hovering a foot or so from the floor so there wasn't any real damage done. Well, apart from my pride but I think I'd sacrificed that long ago in the form of a singing Valentine I'd given to Harry Potter. What can I say? I'm literally a hopeless romantic.
“Are you that poor you can’t even pay attention!?”
A snippy, far-too-British- for-it's-own-good, voice cuts through the air. I had been trying to pay attention but the exercise had taken that long to explain that I'd ended up having one of those moments where you don't really know what you've been thinking about but you do know you have been able to drown out all background noise and slip into a soupy abyss of half-awake musings for a wee while. It happens to me a lot, actually...should probably be a little bit concerned about that one. One too many bludgers to the skull, I would imagine.
Before I can begin to heave myself out of the mud, and before any of my fellow Chasers can reach me, my very pale, very blond captain is looming above me with his features so screwed up that he somewhat resembles the Crumple-Horned Snorkack picture Luna showed me last week.
he barks as he jumps off his own broom and yanks me upright again. "You need all the bloody brain cells you can muster so it might be a good idea to not get knocked unconscious every practice!"
I'm about to make a point about the fact I'm actually not unconscious right now and that it's been at least three weeks since I have had to make a trip to the team healer but he's swooped off and is now yelling at Jones, the innocent soul who threw the quaffle at me in the first place. Poor guy. He looks rather like he'd like to lob his beater's club at Malfoy's head. I kind of hope he does.
"But, Malfoy, it was an accident! You can't suspend me from tomorrow's match!"
That's a little harsh. A lot harsh, in fact, and everyone knows it.
"Malfoy," I pipe up, "that's madness - I'm fine - Jones didn't bloody mean it, did he? It was my fault; I should've been watching what was happening! Suspend me if you're so hot to deal out a bit of punishment!"
Even as I say the words I know there's no point; I have a huge fan base that come along in hope of seeing a little glimmer of my infamous redhead temper and downright dangerously rash flying. At first my agent tried to down play my temperament but it turned out that was what the people fell in love with and, hey, I'm not complaining. I get to just be myself; so many other Quidditch players in the spotlight have to work hard to maintain a persona of sorts. But yes, unless I'm unfit to play, come rain or shine I will be on that bloody broom on match day and the whole team knows it.
“Look, Weasley, leave it.”
“Listen to Jones, Weasley” growls Malfoy, his eyes narrowed so much I’d be surprised if he could even still see me. I feel like a child with an overzealous parent and, as a Weasley, I’ve already had my fair share of overprotective elders. And I get it, I really do, Malfoy is obviously already in a snit today and the idea of one of his newest team members taking out one of his key players before a big game has got to have caused a wee bit of stress but…I’m really, really, really sick of his attitude these days.
I try to stop it but I can feel it, hot and gloopy, in my throat; word vomit. Uh oh.
“No. You listen to me, captain, I don’t know if it’s your time of the month or something but for Merlin’s sake eat a bar of chocolate, cry into a sad book and whine about how fat your arse is looking in your new robe! Don’t come here and shit all over us.” I can feel my heart pounding against my chest, the blood rushing to my cheeks. I know I should stop but it just keeps on coming; I can feel the eyes of everyone in the team boring into me and I know their expressions are going to mimic those of slightly amused cave trolls as I continue in my tirade. “…and I get you have a job to do, Malfoy, but we’re a team and you can’t tear someone’s head off because of a harmless bloody accident! I’m sick of it! You’re an anally retentive control freak and you’re just getting worse.”
I let out a huge grunt and disapparate off the pitch. Seconds later I open my eyes and I’m stood in my little cottage feeling the adrenaline coursing through my veins.
I’m a prize fool; I shouldn’t have let Malfoy get the better of me. And I certainly shouldn’t have run away from it all like that. They’ll be hell to pay tomorrow and the team is going to be taking the piss out of me for weeks. It’s been a long time – okay, eight days – since I let my temper take over at work. But it hasn’t been that bad since I was a rookie. I know I should go back, act all contrite and let Malfoy punish me with endless laps around the field but I just can’t quite bring myself to munch on humble pie yet. It wasn’t just about today, I know it wasn’t. Malfoy treats me like I’m made out of a glass; I get a cut, bruise or twisted ankle and he makes a huge deal out of it. I know I bring in money for the team, I know I’m crucial to a lot of their advertising and sponsors but its downright suffocating.
I’m Ginny Weasley, by the way, if you hadn’t guessed. Five foot nothing, shock of long bright red hair and far too many freckles for my own good. The youngest of the Weasley clan, the ex-girlfriend of Harry Potter, star Chaser for Puddlemere United and, apparently, a witch who has a severe problem with authority.
My cat, Edgar, mewls disapprovingly at the mud that is now dripping off me and onto the rug – his rug, the pesky diva – and I sigh. I’m not going back this afternoon. I’ll owl Malfoy this evening and take my punishment at Monday’s practice.
Time for a bath; I’m getting too old for this malarkey.
It’s later in the day now – I had my bath, fell asleep in it and woke up in slimy, lukewarm water. Good, thrilling stuff but you can see why we’re fast-forwarding to the point where I get to crack open the old Pinot Grigio – and I’m settled on my sofa amidst a pile of blankets with a large glass of white wine in my hand. I can finally feel all my muscles unclenching; whenever I let my temper take over it seems to seize my entire body. My limbs get all tense and my stomach seems to suddenly become full of little Quidditch players doing Wronski Feints.
I’d like to grab a couple of friends and really let loose tonight but Merlin help me if I appear in The Prophet tomorrow morning with a bottle of mead in hand. I think my darling captain would string me up, team asset or not. I take an extra-large gulp of my wine and try to quash the urge to be reckless and ridiculous. It never ends well. Alright, a couple of times it’s ended very well. But most of the time, most of the time, I should heed my lovely (read; lovingly terrifying) mother’s advice and behave. Maybe I’ll order some food in from the Muggle restaurant in the village and try and figure out how the dickens I work the “DVD” player Hermione bought me for Christmas. Easy peasy, the brunette had said to me, about setting it all up. But, speaking as a girl who took at least six months to get to grips with a telephone, I am not hopeful for this latest foray into Muggle technology.
After several telephone calls to Hermione and Harry respectively I finally have a working DVD player. Applause, please. However, I think I may have sent Hermione a little grey…I don’t exactly have a great attention span and she’s very wordy and it definitely took several explanations on how to attach the device to my TV. I think the only reason she hasn’t screamed at me before now is because she’s dating Ron. But really, how Muggles have managed without magic is just incredible; clever folk.
I jump at the loud noise and slop half of my wine down my ex-boyfriend’s Hunted Pumpkin’s t-shirt – I’m not still hankering after the boy, it just happens to make an excellent pajama top - as the person delivering my food seems intent on breaking their way through my door instead of knocking like any normal human being.
I’m – and I’m not proud to admit this – sucking some of the liquid out of my top as I open the door. It was just one of those absent minded things I did in my haste to answer the door and remedy the fact I was soaked in alcohol. I wasn’t thinking that whoever was on the other side of the door was going to see and thoroughly judge or laugh at me. But as I look up and find myself staring at Draco Malfoy’s nonplussed face I really begin wishing someone would just perform a speedy avada on me. I really need to start thinking about what I do before I do.
That one word says so much. Really, I wish you could see him; eyebrows quirked, icy tone, slightly crinkled nose. The man is clearly perplexed and, possibly, slightly disgusted by the ginger mess of a woman stood before him. I never really see Malfoy when I’m not doing team business; I’m either in the Puddlemere robes or some fancy frock. I have never, ever encountered him whilst looking like an alcoholic scarecrow.
“Can I come in or are we going to stand here in the cold all evening?”
I stand aside to allow him entry, still immensely confused. I knew he’d want to give me a grilling at some point but he’s never showed up here before no matter how much of a brat I’ve been. All I wanted was to block out the entire world for one night and eat myself into a noodle coma was this really too much to ask, universe? Someone out there hates me.
I walk into my front room and find Malfoy stood there awkwardly staring at my mismatched furniture and strange rabble of Muggle and magical contraptions. He looks so out of place in his crisp white shirt and dark green slacks. His hair, usually tied up in some sort of knot during practice or a sleek ponytail for press releases, is hanging in loose waves around his shoulders and I find myself wondering what it feels like. No, I do not have regular thoughts like that – that’d be madness! It’s Malfoy for goodness sake. Yes, he isn’t the cowardly whelp he was in school but, equally, it’s…Malfoy. Boss me around-yell obscenities at me-quarantine me to the Healer for no good reason Malfoy. And…the wine, let’s blame the wine for that lapse in judgment.
“Look, Malfoy, I’m…I’m sorry about earlier, I shouldn’t have dashed off like that but…”
“I didn’t peg you as a Pumpkin’s fan, Weasley.”
“I – what?”
I look down at my t-shirt and back up at the blond in front of me.
“Um, I-I’m not really.”
Are his eyes a little glazed?
“Earlier was unacceptable, Weasley. You know that, yes?”
“Malfoy, it’s late. You can give me a bollocking tomorrow.”
It’s weird. The energy in the room is weird. Malfoy’s being weird.
He seems docile and casual and…nervous?
“I was out tonight, Weasley. I was drinking with some witch and she was beautiful.”
I definitely didn’t sign on to hear about my captain’s booty call.
“But all I could talk about was the infuriating redhead on my team.”
“Erm. Well I’m sorry I ruined your...date, I guess. If it’s any consolation I certainly didn’t mean to…?”
“Well that’s the problem isn’t it, Ginevra? You don’t mean to. You never mean to.”
I can feel my figurative hackles rising; what is this man trying to say?
Abruptly he starts to march back towards the front door, muttering “this was an awful idea…I’ll just see you in the morning, Weasley. I’m sorry I shouldn’t have barged in like that…”
Before I can really react to what’s happening Malfoy has swung open my front door but instead of being able to make a quick escape he has come face to face with the delivery boy from Jade.
“That’ll be £14.50, please, sir.”
Grabbing my purse, before Malfoy can send away my mini banquet, I slide in front of the blond and push some Muggle money into the boy’s hand, snatching up my bag of food and shutting the door.
“Come on, Malfoy. Have some food with me. Stop getting your panties in a twist or whatever it is you were just babbling on about.”
He looks at me like I’m a Bubotuber plant about to emit a particularly foul burst of pus but turns around and heads towards my sofa anyway.
Why did I just do that? I could have watched him leave and then gorged myself until I fell asleep and not have had to deal with whatever awkwardness was coming my way next. I put the bag of food on the coffee table and head to the kitchen to grab cutlery and bowls. I pick up another wine glass too in hope that one more drink might just tip Malfoy into the fun zone. Or, at the very least, the more relaxed zone.
He’s begun opening cartons of food by the time I return and in silence we begin dishing up our dinners. I pour out more wine for myself and some for Malfoy too. The silence isn’t exactly uncomfortable but it’s definitely full of things unsaid. Like I mentioned before, we had never been around each other like this.
“This is good, Weasley, thank you.”
“No problem, Malfoy.”
“What were you watching?” he nods towards the TV.
“Oh, I don’t know, I hadn’t decided yet. I’ve only just set the contraption up – bloody nightmare, I’ll tell you.”
“Oh, come on, it’s not too difficult. If I can grasp how to deal with these things you certainly can.”
I grin at his little dig at himself; this whole scenario is so bizarre. If you’d have told me yesterday I’d have been sharing a glass of wine and a meal with Draco Malfoy I’d have told you that you needed to book yourself a bed next to Gilderoy Lockhart in St. Mungo’s. But now he’s here and there’s certainly something about it that doesn’t seem that wrong. I suppose, really, we spend a heck of a lot of time together. On tour, in rehearsals, during matches; he’s seen me in some of my very worst and very best states and vice versa. We don’t know an awful lot about one another as people but…well we are accustomed to being in each other’s presence.
Conversation over food is polite; small talk. He makes me laugh a little – who knew he had such a wicked sense of humour? But when dinner is finished a silence falls again. The air is pregnant with…expectation? Curiosity? I don’t know what. A kind of buzz, I suppose.
“So, Malfoy. Level with me; why were you really here this evening?”
He sighs and angles his body so that he’s facing me. Had his limbs always been that long and graceful?
“I really don’t know, Weasley. I just, I was in the bar with Claudia and I found myself talking about you. And, I realized, I find myself talking about you an awful lot. I didn’t know if I was going to yell at you for humiliating me in front of the team and storming off -” I cringe a little but don’t interrupt, he’s being extraordinarily verbose and I want to hear what he has to say “- or apologise for acting like such an arse. Don’t look so surprised, I can admit when I’m wrong sometimes.”
“Well. I am sorry for acting like a child earlier but you really do need to stop flying off the handle over the tiniest of things. It’s getting a little hard to bear.”
My stomach feels a little tingly. I have a strange suspicion I’m about to get a confession of affection – call it my intuition – and I don’t know how I would feel about it.
“Well…if you’d stop hurling yourself into dangerous situations, Weasley, I wouldn’t have to come down on you like a ton of bricks and you wouldn’t spend so much time at the healer’s!”
“For Merlin’s sake, Malfoy, I hardly mean to get myself injured.”
Does he really think I enjoy shattering bones and waking up the next day covered in giant purple bruises?
“No, you don’t mean to but you hardly pay any attention, Weasley. You just throw yourself into these things like a lunatic without a second thought for your safety.”
“Oh boo hoo. So I’d be out of a couple of games, the team wouldn’t lose that much sponsorship.”
“Grow up, Ginevra. It has nothing to do with money or pleasing your fans. It’s about me not having a heart attack every time you get on a broom. It’s about how excruciating it is to watch you perform some reckless acrobatic feat that has a fifty-fifty chance of leaving you bloody paralyzed if it goes wrong! It’s about the fact you can’t seem to pay attention for longer than two seconds to notice anything that’s going on about you!”
“So I’m reckless and I get hurt; I’m a Quidditch player not an accountant. It’s going to happen from time to time. As long as I’m still fit to play and to help Puddlemere win it’s really nothing for you to be that worried about, is it?”
“You daft witch; open your eyes.”
His tone is soft and his eyes are suddenly full of emotion.
“Notice what’s going on around you, Ginevra. Pay attention. Pay attention to me.”
My throat is suddenly dry. I have no idea what to say. I had an inkling that this was where this was going but hearing those words, seeing him like this is…strange, to say the least. I mean, perhaps if I did pay attention I’d have noticed it earlier. My skin feels like it’s singing with heat.
“I should go. I have said way too much to you already.”
“I – Malfoy…don’t leave. It’s just a shock. I wasn’t expecting that.”
“You weren’t?! Sweet Salazar, Weasley, you’ve turned my head upside down. I don’t get protective about people. I don’t worry or fret. I don’t turn up half cut at their houses with my hat in hand desperate to just talk to them.”
I drain the rest of my wine, place the glass on the table and lean forward to plant a kiss on Malfoy’s cheek. I take his hand in mine, he doesn’t recoil like I thought he might but he doesn’t cling on to me either.
“I can’t say that I know what do to with your sort-of confession, Malfoy. It’s knocked me off guard; this was the last thing I expected from you. I don’t know you. Not really. And you don’t know me either, if we’re honest.”
He looks a little dejected and I feel awful. I don’t mean to shoot him down. I’ve been single nearly a year now and I am curious about this man sat before me. This man who infuriates me and has somehow wriggled right beneath my skin in the past few months. But I’m not willing to rush and I’m certainly not going to lie and pretend that I always harbored secret feelings for him. He’s attractive, yes. He’s driven and ambitious and funny, yes. But, he’s also a bit of a wanker; he’s a serial dater, got the temper of an insulted hippogriff and more vain than bloody Narcissus.
“But, I’m not averse to getting to know you, Malfoy. Draco. I won’t rush into anything and I won’t jeopardize our careers but…you have my attention now and I’d like to see what could be.”
Draco left soon after that and the next day at the match we pretended nothing had happened. I was just starting to feel a little rejected, a little like a fool who had gotten her hopes up when, later in the evening, I got an owl inviting me out to dinner in the week. We talked a lot. I listened a lot. Tonight we’re going on our fourth date and I’d like to say this was a definite happily ever after for us but I just don’t know if that’s the case. All I can say for now is that I’m really glad that Draco Malfoy has taught me the art of paying attention.
Briefly describe what you'd like to receive in your fic:
The tone/mood of the fic: humorous
An element/line of dialogue/object you would specifically like in your fic:
"Are you that poor that you can't even pay attention?"
Preferred rating of the the fic you want: all is well
More canon, or more AU?: more canon
Deal Breakers (anything you don't want?): no drarry/dramione side pairing please
Are you willing to receive art instead of a fic?: fic would be better actually