Chapter Twenty Five

White King to Red Queen

Thursday (5/7)

Draco Malfoy was not going to wait around forever. He knew what he wanted. All he had to do was figure out how to get it.

Force wasn't going to work. He knew that. Ginny Weasley was much too subtle for that.

He sat at the table in the Potion's classroom, fingers steepled, elbows on the table. The girl in question walked into the room, head down as she rifled in her bag. By the time she looked up, he had his wand out and had shut and locked the door behind her.

She looked at him then at the door.

"I can get out of here, you know that right?"

"I was hoping you'd listen to what I have to say," he said.

"You didn't have to lock me in," she said. "I'm not going to run away."

"But our past suggests otherwise," he reminded her. "I've been trying to talk to you about this for almost a week now and every time you run away."

"What do you expect me to say?" she demanded, throwing up her arms. "Been kinda in love/lust with you for a long time now and I've just been too shy and timid to tell you?"

"That works," he said. "You shouldn't imagine that you're the only person in this world afraid to admit what they feel."

"What are you getting at?" she said. She set her bag down on the table but did not sit. He put his wand back in the pocket of his blazer.

"We live in a world of cowards. Men and women who are afraid to show their feelings lest they be judged for it."

"And are you a coward?" she asked.

"I didn't think so. Then I found out how I feel about you. And I hid it. And now I know how you feel."

"No, you don't," she said. "You know how I think I feel based on what this potion is doing to me."

"So you don't feel anything beyond the potion?"

"Nothing," she snapped, reaching for her bag.

"Then let me tell you how I feel," he said, putting a hand on her bag and rising from his seat. She retreated but he grabbed her wrist. It wasn't a firm grasp. She could have broken it at any time.

"I don't know how love works. All I know is that I can't go a full day without thinking about you. I wonder what you like. I wonder what you had for breakfast. I wonder if you had coffee and if I kissed you, would I taste it? Does your hair always smell like cinnamon? I think about this stuff all the time. I can't think about anything else. I tried so so long. I tried to hate you but I hated that I couldn't be more like you."

He kept a grip on her hand and rounded the table, taking the hand in both of his.

"I don't know what love is but I know that there has to be a name for what I feel. And love seems to fit the bill. I understand if you don't feel the same way. It's miracle enough that I can feel this way. I don't dare ask for the miracle of-"

She grabbed his shirt with her free hand and then she was kissing him. Tears salted the kiss. He had known she was crying but in his selfish way, he'd been too invested in telling her how he felt to stop.

She broke off from the kiss and fled the room. He collapsed back, letting her go.

"I am such an asshole," he muttered once she was gone.

"What are you going on about now?" Pansy asked, coming into the room from Snape's office. He had to wonder how long she'd been in there.

"I'm an asshole," he said.

"No arguments here," she said. She set down the stack of books she'd been carrying. Hands on her hips, she faced him where he sat, crumpled on the ground, leaning against a table leg.

"Hey, Pans," he began. "Why do you like Luna?"

Her eyebrows went up and he waved a hand. "Humor me, okay? I don't have a good handle on this love thing."

"Fine." She pulled up a chair and sat down. It was weird to look up to her like this but he put that aside. He had some burning questions.

"The first time she really came up on my radar was about a year ago. We were getting ready for Christmas break and she was looking for her socks. Someone had taken them and knotted them together into a garland and hung them around the Prefect's quarters."

"Sounds like something you'd do," he commented.

"Please. I would never be so tacky," she sniffed.

"Quite right. I'd forgotten who I was dealing with," Draco said. "Continue."

"She didn't look lost," Pansy said. "It's what I would have expected from anyone. To look lost or resigned or upset. She looked...well, for a second she looked amused. Then she saw me and put on those doe eyes of hers and asked for a hand. I didn't help but I did send Goyle in after a while. After that, I kept an eye on her. She certainly wasn't as innocent as she seemed and she had a sense of humor. Enough that she could take a joke at her own expense. So I started testing her. Little, harmless things. She met each challenge. It was like she knew I was doing it to her."

"Did you tell her?"

"Yes," she said. "She confronted me about them a few months ago. I confessed and she just laughed. Then she told me she was tutoring me. We've been on good terms ever since."

"And how do you know that she's the one?"

"I don't. All that 'the one' nonsense is just to make people feel better about their choices in life. I think she's someone I like being with. I think about her all the time and she's constantly surprising me. I don't know if this is forever but where ever I end up, I know it will be better for having had her with me for even a little time."

"That's surprisingly beautiful," Draco said.

She shrugged. "I have my moments."

(A/N: LifeofPi asked me about why Luna and Pansy are together. I'd never given it much thought but then I did. I think it's in character for Pansy to be fascinated by Luna's amusement at pranks. I feel like they don't have to pretend around each other, which makes it easier for them. And really, that's what love is all about. Not being someone you aren't, but being who you are and being accepted and embraced for it.

To CocoCatFTW: Glad you like it! I'm a horrible, horrible cliffie loving writer so bear with me!