True, the halls of Hogwarts were often full of snogging couples, and nothing wrong with that. But Ginny wasn’t sure it was entirely appropriate that she and Draco were always one of those couples, even if their first kiss had been while they were lying in the mud in the garden at the Burrow.
Draco had no hesitation about public displays of affection whatsoever, which somewhat surprised Ginny, but she supposed he’d been through a lot in the last year what with his mother trying to keep his father from handing him over to You-Know-Who and losing her life in the process; the Weasleys taking him in over the summer, which led to their romance in the first place; and the split in Slytherin House where he found himself on the opposite side from many of his old friends. It made sense that in the wake of all that, Draco might be clinging to Ginny, or that the more traumatic events had given him a new perspective.
“Or,” Draco said, “I just fancy kissing you, and don’t much care who watches us.”
Ginny didn’t care exactly, but she disliked the bother of finding a secluded spot on a staircase only to be tutted at by her brother—at least until she pointed out that Ron had logged plenty of time snogging in hallways himself.
And there was Pansy Parkinson, who’d always had the air of owning Draco, body and soul. Draco said their friendship, which was over now in the wake of the whole fight for the soul of Slytherin House business anyway, had never been like that. But Ginny knew jealousy when she saw it.
What Ginny wanted was a regular place that was theirs and wasn’t quite so public. But everything she suggested, Draco shot down.
Quidditch broomshed? “Actually contains brooms, oddly enough. Also cold in winter and hot in summer.”
Astronomy Tower? “Too much of a crowd; I don’t want to rub up against anyone but you.”
Slytherin common room? “Off limits to you, period. We don’t need to invite trouble.”
“So you’re just an exhibitionist then?” Ginny asked.
Draco laughed at that and kissed her again.
Ginny and Draco didn’t go for all those pet names and little notes and things like other couples they knew. Mostly they joked and avoided talking about their feelings and found secluded corners for snogging and petting. Ginny thought they were incredibly modern when one got right down to it.
But they did kiss hello. Draco made an effort to walk her to and from her classes, and when he reached her he’d touch her shoulder, she’d turn to him for a kiss, he’d say “hello,” she’d say “hello,” he’d walk her to her class. It was their thing.
Then one day, Ginny happened to open her eyes just as their hello kiss was ending and saw that Draco’s eyes were open as well, but he wasn’t looking at her—he was looking over her shoulder. She turned, curious, and saw Michael Corner staring at them. She waved her fingers at him—they’d dated a few times before she’d gotten together with Draco and sure, he was a bit obnoxious, but he was funny and maybe obnoxious was her type anyway.
But Michael Corner wasn’t looking at her either; he was staring at Draco. Then the light came on in her head.
“Wait,” she said, turning back to Draco. “Is this—are you claiming me?”
“Er,” Draco said.
Ginny pulled away, anger and a little embarrassment flaring up hot inside her. “I don’t belong to you, Draco!”
“I thought we belonged to each other,” Draco replied, sounding taken aback.
Ginny sighed and put her hand on his chest. “Just—I’ll talk to you later.”
“Sure,” Draco said. “Sure.” He walked away down the hall, and Ginny walked into her classroom.
Arithmancy proved distraction enough for the rest of the afternoon, much of which she spent in the library. As Draco had a late Quidditch practice she hadn’t planned on seeing him at dinner anyway, and sat with her brother and his girlfriend Padma Patil.
“Out with it,” Ron said.
“What?” Ginny asked.
“You’re gloomy and sighing. Is it that boyfriend of yours? Because if it is—”
“No, Ron. At least, not like that.” She pushed her mushy peas into a smoother circle. “I just realized that he’s been kissing me in the halls because other boys are looking at us.”
“And?” Ron asked.
“I’m not his possession!” Ginny said. “Why can’t he just ignore those boys?”
Ron raised an eyebrow at Padma, who leaned forward.
“You know how Mandy Brocklehurst has been making all kinds of fool of herself over Harry?” Padma asked.
“Unseemly, if you ask me,” Ron said.
Padma shook her head at him and continued, “And Harry doesn’t even notice?”
“He isn’t the most perceptive boy at this school,” Ginny said. “Besides, he’s all wrapped up in Hermione.”
“True,” Padma replied, “but you can bet Hermione noticed. And as I recall you didn’t like it any one bit when you thought that Slytherin keeper was interested in Draco.”
“I didn’t kiss him in public in front of her,” Ginny said.
“No, but you ate at the Slytherin table more often,” Padma noted.
“It’s about respect,” Ron said. “Some bloke makes a play for Padma right in front of me, that’s disrespectful to me, and yeah, I’ll take care of that.”
“That doesn’t make you feel like an object?” Ginny asked.
“Well, I wouldn’t want him to use me, or defend my honor or some ridiculous thing like that; I can defend my own honor, thanks, and it doesn’t need defending anyway. But if he felt the need to make a point, then that’s fine, so long as there’s no fighting.” Padma shrugged. “I suppose it would depend on how he went about it.”
“Hmm,” Ginny said, thinking. “How he went about it.”
Draco came to the library after dinner, looking penitent. (Well, penitent for Draco, which meant a façade of defiance laid over a mix of fear and resignation.) “So.”
Ginny gathered her things. “Let’s take this elsewhere.”
“Actually,” he said, “I wanted to show you something.” He led the way downstairs to a locked door not far from Professor Snape’s potions classroom. Draco pulled a key from his pocket and unlocked the door. “Milady,” he said, opening it for her.
She pulled out her wand. “Lumos,” she said, and walked into the small space. The walls were lined with shelves of cauldrons, mortars and pestles, textbooks, and other supplies. “I thought the potions stores were next to the classroom.”
“They are,” Draco said, stepping in and closing the door behind him. “That’s for ingredients. Snape calls this cupboard the dry storage—things that aren’t temperature sensitive.”
“And you have the key because?”
Draco shrugged. “I’ve been helping with the stocking. Inventory, that sort of thing. Nothing dangerous or valuable in here, so not much to trust me with, really. I thought if you didn’t find it too eerie—”
“You Gryffindors seem to have a problem with potions,” Draco said.
“No, it’s nice,” Ginny replied. “Tidy. Even a chair in the corner.”
“Well, I put that there. Here,” he said, taking their wands and putting them on upper shelves on either side of the room. He sat on the small wooden chair. “Come here.”
Ginny let him pull her into his lap.
“So am I forgiven? I found us a place to kiss with no one watching.”
“I do like it. Very cozy and all ours.”
“But when we’re not in here,” she began.
“Just—kiss me because you want to kiss me, not to make a point to someone else.” She tossed back her hair. “Makes a girl feel cheap.”
“You’re actually quite expensive,” Draco said.
“I like to think so,” she said. “But I don’t mind kissing in public. I rather like the hello kisses.”
“Me too,” he said, and kissed her. “Hello.”
“Hello,” she replied, smiling, then leaned in to kiss him again.