A New Light by Mungihead
Summary: Fiery and stubborn Ginny Weasley is forced to be partners on an assignment for the Ministry with the elusive, self-righteous, and impossibly handsome Lord Draco Malfoy. They step into a world of magic, secrets, legends, and mystery. Little do they know what they are getting into..
Categories: Works in Progress Characters: Draco Malfoy
Compliant with: All but epilogue
Era: Post-Hogwarts
Genres: Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 7 Completed: No Word count: 16908 Read: 20514 Published: Jul 23, 2010 Updated: Jul 19, 2011
Story Notes:
This is my first fanfic story EVER, so please enjoy and tell me what you think!

1. First Day by Mungihead

2. Malfoy Manor by Mungihead

3. Stuck in the Woods by Mungihead

4. Into the Villa by Mungihead

5. When it Gets Personal... by Mungihead

6. Hopelessness by Mungihead

7. Chapter 7 by Mungihead

First Day by Mungihead
Author's Notes:
So, this is the first chapter!
You can't have a light without a dark to stick it in. ~Arlo Guthrie

"Mum! Really, I already told you, there is no need for any of this. Honestly." Ginny looked at her mother with pleading eyes, gesturing to the vast amount of food that was being prepared in the kitchen.

"Oh, but, my darling got a job at the Ministry! What's not to throw a party about!" Molly Weasley returned her daughter's beseeching expression with one of fondness and delight. "We'll invite the whole family! Ron, Hermione (goodness knows, she needs to get out, pregnancy can do things to you), Bill, Fleur, Victoire, Harry—“

“Mum! We’ve been through this!” Ginny had a falling-out with Harry after the war, and her romantic interest in him had begun to wane. Despite Molly’s valiant efforts to get them back together, Ginny was no longer attracted to him. Also, having an affair with a random blonde that lived next to his flat was certainly not something to be forgiven. However, due to his relentless begging, the Weasleys had not heard about this incident, so they kept pushing for Ginny to become a Potter, or at least to marry someone. Unfortunately, she had been single for a long time, which had prompted Molly to double her efforts.

“I know, sweetheart, but he’s such a nice boy,” She sighed wistfully, and then glanced at the clock. “My goodness, you’re late! Run along now, you cannot miss your first day of work! Ginevra Weasley, Junior Auror, in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement!” Ginny rolled her eyes at her mother’s proud voice and allowed her a fleeting peck on the cheek as she left the house.

*****

Draco Malfoy frowned at the sight of hundreds of papers splayed across his desk. He had seen his father do some work as a child, but this was absolute torture. Draco was immensely successful as the Head Auror, so successful, in fact, that he had been promoted to be the Junior Executive Chief of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. While being second-in-command to the Head of this department was extremely prestigious and all, Draco was bloody tired of it. I have enough bloody money to quit this job! Why the hell am I wasting my time?

However, as soon as this question entered his mind, his mother’s voice answered the question for him, as she had done every single time he complained.

“Because, Draco,” Narcissa had said, “We had to work very hard to rebuild our reputation after the fall of the Dark Lord. It is prudent that you live up to everyone’s expectations. You have a status, and you must maintain it, because I want an heir to the Malfoy estate. You had best form an alliance with a good family, and fast.

Draco shook the thought from his mind with irritation, and proceeded on to read the next paper. One more efficacious case, and he’d be sure to be the successor of his boss, which would definitely appease his mother, even if just for a little bit. Truth be told, he was fine being a bachelor and somewhat of a Playboy; marriage was the last thing on his mind. Hopefully, with a promotion, she would stop nagging him as much.

His mood lightened a little bit, Draco snapped at his secretary to get him a coffee, and got back to work.
*****

Dressed in her Ministry robes, hair in a tight chignon, high heels clacking against the marble floor, Ginny was completely ready for the workday. First she popped by the Auror section to see Ron in his office. She soon found a smiling Ron and a rather awkward Harry. Oh, bugger it, I forgot he was here. Harry was the previous Head Auror, but he decided that he didn’t like the actual law and investigatory part of it, just the whole let’s-blow-Death-Eaters-to-bits part, and since he was Harry-bleeding-Potter, they decided to just let him be the Chief of Action Forces instead.

“Hullo, Ron! Um..hi, Harry.” Ron beamed at Ginny, while Harry smiled slightly and acknowledged her with a nod.

“My little sister,” Ron started proudly, “an Auror. So whaddya think, Harry? Doesn’t she just look the part?” Apparently, Ron had less tact than a sandwich. The room fell silent and Ginny felt Harry’s eyes burning into her, lingering far too long on certain areas. The tension was tangible; Ginny used up all of her self-constraint not to slap Harry for looking at her that way.
If looks could kill, the two men should have been stuck in St. Mungo’s for a week. She muttered a quiet good-bye, turned on her heel, and stalked out of the room.

Really? Was that really necessary? Ronald, you are such an idiot, it’s unbelievable. Hey, but hopefully things will go well with Shacklebolt. I might even get a case! Thinking this happy thought, Ginny approached the Head’s office for her instructions.

When she opened the door, instead of a Ministry official, she found a ferret. A slimy, horrible ferret to be exact. Draco Malfoy sat in the handsome leather chair before her. His face had hardened, with more chiseled feautures, and his hair had finally shed the liters of god-awful gel in favor of a more flattering style. When he was younger, his aristocratic features made him look pompous, but now, Ginny grudgingly admitted, they made him look handsome, very handsome. Still, he’s a git, right? A gorgeous, Adonis-like git…but still a git. And what the hell is he doing in the Head’s office? Wait, I am the right room, right?

Ginny gaped as Draco asked nonchalantly, without looking up from his papers, “Hello, Weasel. Found the wrong office?” On the inside, he was a completely different story. What is that filth doing here, in my office? But, she has certainly grown up, hasn’t she? Nice legs. Nice…everything, really. Still, a Weasel? She’s probably lost, too stupid to find her way around here, just like her brain dead brother, the bumbling moron. He looked up at her with a questioning, yet frosty glare.

Kingsley abruptly walked in, taking note of their momentary staring contest.
“Well, at any rate I am glad to see you have already met each other. Miss Weasley, this is Mr. Malfoy, he is the Junior Executive Chief and former Head Auror.” Malfoy smiled smugly. “Mr. Malfoy, Miss Weasley is our newest Junior Auror.”

Ginny shot him a sarcastic imitation of his own smile. Two can play at that game, my dear Weasel. Draco sneered, while Ginny frowned back. Well, the snarky bastard doesn’t think I can glare back at him? What a shame, I was doing my best over-privileged-prat-who-should-be-stabbed-with-a-needle-so-his-overinflated-head-would-finally-burst look.

“Ahem! When you two are done shooting daggers at each other!” Both employees returned their attention back to their boss. “So, as I was saying, we have a large case on our hands. There has been a mass breakout in Azkaban, but this has been extremely well-hidden from the media. Merlin knows what would happen if Rita Skeeter got her hands on this.” He gestured to the file in his right hand. “This has all the information we have on this case, because there is suspicion involving the fact that the prisoners who have escaped have an ulterior motive.

“Miss Weasley, while you are very new to the Ministry, you are more qualified than a lot of our team in terms of skill and expertise in the investigative field, as most of them are only limited to capture. The others are helping Mr. Potter and your brother in the other cases. You will work on this case, along with a partner.”

Ginny was overjoyed. “Sir, I am delighted that you have chosen me for this case, but then why is that pr—I mean, why is Mr. Malfoy present? Where is my partner?”

Kingsley steadied his breath before answering. Well, this should be interesting.

“Miss Weasley, I believe you have misunderstood me. Mr. Malfoy is your partner.”
End Notes:
That's chapter one! Yay :) I would like to say that this wonderful world is J.K. Rowling's and not mine, as well as the characters, settings, and anything you recognize. No one is paying me any money at all for writing this humble story.

And now, I really do need to finish up chapter two :)
Malfoy Manor by Mungihead
Author's Notes:
Hey guys! Sorry it seemed so long, I now have an awesome beta, Defying.Expectations. :) So I posted this two days ago and it delted somehow, so here it is again! :)

As always, this wonderful unviverse that I play in is the amazing J.K. Rowling's, which is also the reason why she is rolling in money, and I am not.

Thanks to all my wonderful readers, especially Boogum, firefireice22, shezachica85, and slitherhither!!
Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. ~Chinese Proverb


“What?!” Ginny screeched first.

“You can’t be serious!” Draco’s composure lost for a moment, looking at Kingsley as if he had just asked him to swallow a hippogriff.

Kingsley regarded them with a stern façade, and then said calmly, “I will leave you two to discuss this on your own. There will be no complaints. You are to behave like rational adults—this case is too important for you to risk petty childhood quarrels.” He strode out of the room.

Draco ran his hands through his hair, and half-muttered to himself,
“Stay calm. You have enough authority and skill to do all of this by yourself, there’s no need for the little bint—“

“I beg your pardon, ferret?”

“Oh shut up you—“

“Self-righteous bastard!”

“Plebian commoner!”

“Infuriating piece of—“

“ENOUGH!” Kingsley roared from outside the room. Ginny winced at his voice, and then sat, arms folded across her chest, in silence. Draco smirked and then continued on with his paperwork. After ten straight minutes of quiet contemplation, she sighed, looking defeated.

“Well, I have come to the conclusion that it seems we have to work together at some point. Why don’t we just get it over with?” She gestured to the file. Draco assessed her coolly.

“Actually, I am going to go home. It is time to go, and while you only had a meeting with Kingsley and I at noon, some of us have actually been working. He lazily tossed her a golden pen lying on his desk. “This portkey will transport you to Malfoy Manor tomorrow, at precisely 4:30 p.m. Don’t be late.” Saying this, he picked up his dragon-hide briefcase, the file neatly tucked into its pockets, shrugged into a handsome charcoal coat, and in one swift, graceful motion, stepped through the Floo fireplace without a word, brushing by her gently.

Ginny stood agog. How rude! I try to make an effort to be civil, and he just leaves to go home? Probably to go sit around on his arse some more. A fine arse it is though. Very nice, indeed. Stop it, Ginny! You’re going loony if you’re sitting around daydreaming about that smarmy ponce!

She shook her head, and decided just to pack up and go home.

*****

Draco sat around at home, confused. When he walked past her, it was like a bolt of energy and warmth had hit him. What the hell was wrong with him? Maybe he just hadn't gotten laid in a while. Yes, that's it. Maybe he just needed to go out more. He rumpled his hair, and then Flooed Blaise Zabini.

"Zabini?"

The handsome dark-skinned boy grinned when he saw a disgruntled Draco looking back at him. "Ah, the Boy-Who-Never-Saw-the-Light-of-Day! What can I do for you, my miserable friend?"

Draco rolled his eyes, but continued. "I want to go to a club today. Know any good ones? I really need a good shag." he added pointedly.

"Ah, the elusive former Slytherin Sex God needs the help of the all-knowing, undeniably sexy, brilliant, better-in-every-way, utterly handsome-"

"Zabini?"

"Yes, Draco?" he asked innocently.

"Shut the hell up." As an afterthought, he added, "Just drop by around nine."

*****

Ginny arrived at her own party a little late, having debated for half and hour at her apartment on what to wear. She was trying to find the most covered, modest, and matronly outfit she owned, because she really did not want a repeat of the incident with Harry's roaming eyeballs this morning.

When she finally showed up at the Burrow, there was chaos abound. Victoire and Rose were running around playing tag, shrieking as they ran around in dizzy circles, weaving through the horde of Weasleys.

Ginny received several congratulations, from her dad's playful, "Well done, Gin-bug!" to Rose's adorable, "Gwood job, Aunty Ginny!" accompanied by a sloppy kiss on the cheek. Hermione beamed as she gave Ginny a gentle hug, and then scooped Rose up carefully to hand over to Ron.

After a giant meal of Molly Weasley fantastic mutton roast, onion soup, and toad-in-the-hole, everyone was thoroughly stuffed. While the last bits of custard tart were being devoured, Ginny excused herself to take a walk. She paced around the Burrow’s small yard, thinking about what she was going to do about this case.

“Gin? Can I talk to you for a minute?” asked Harry, with his thumbs jammed in his pockets, walking slowly up to her.

Ginny petulantly replied, “Yes, Harry? What is it?”

“Um, well, uh..congratulations on your job!”

“Um…okay. Well, if that’s all you wanted to tell me, I’ll be off. I really do have to go home.” Ginny turned on her heel, but Harry stopped her before she left.

“Well, actually,” he started, having apparently picked up his ‘manly pride’ and shoved it back down his throat, “I wanted to let you know that, um, I— I forgive you, and that, maybe we could start over again. I know you really miss me, and I miss you too. So, what do you think?” Harry finished with a hopeful smile.

Ginny took in a breath of air, and then launched her scathing tirade. “You’re bloody joking, right? What have I done that could possibly have to be forgiven? Harry, do you remember why we broke up in the first place? It just wasn’t because of a ‘conflict of interest’ and we didn’t ‘grow further apart’. It was because you decided to go around shagging the blonde slag that lived next to you, WHILE WE WERE STILL TOGETHER! Really, Harry? Did you forget that?

“Oh, and also, just to let you know, I am not the least bit interested in you. Harry, just because I fancied you once doesn’t mean that, no matter how you treat me, I will be groveling pathetically at your feet at all times. I am my own woman, and you would do well to remember it,” she finished, dangerously soft.

Ginny’s face flaming, she Apparated on the spot, leaving behind a flabbergasted Harry and the aghast Weasleys that had apparently been eavesdropping.

*****

The next morning, Draco was lounging in his personal library, thinking. He had picked up a woman, but he could not seem to enjoy himself at all.

It’s not like she was ugly, she was extremely far from it, indeed. What’s wrong with me?

He sat around for a little bit, but then gave up his endless pondering.

*****

Ginny looked around her closet in despair. It was a quarter to four, and she still had nothing to wear. The last thing she needed after last night was a jibe from Malfoy about social status. At the back of her closet, she found a beautiful hunter green cashmere jumper Luna had gotten her last Christmas. She paired it with some black trousers and earrings. All in all, Ginny thought, surveying her face in the mirror, she looked okay. Her hair was still smooth and silky from the party last night, so she left it loose. The clock showed 4:29. In a mad dash, Ginny grabbed the golden pen as it glowed blue, and then was whirled away toward Wiltshire.

A house elf came to receive Ginny as she walked through the immense wrought-iron gates and into the grand estate. Snowy white peacocks strutted throughout the grounds, and beautiful gardens and lush orchards stretched as far as the eye could see. In the midst of it all lay a gargantuan stately mansion, Malfoy Manor.

In awe, Ginny walked toward the door, which magically opened to reveal yet another house elf waiting in the regal foyer. The house elf led her through a large assortment of various rooms until they stopped in front of what seemed to be Malfoy’s private study. Draco stood propped up against his desk casually, file in hand. He eyed her appraisingly while she stood in the doorway. Mmmmm. Very nice, indeed. The green top hugged her curves, and her trousers added length to her legs.

“Yes, Weasel, come on in, don’t just stand there. Blinky, bring us refreshments, the usual.” The house elf responded with a squeak and Disapparated in an instant.

“Well, since I’m assuming you haven’t read this yet, read.” He shoved the folder at Ginny, who in turn quickly began scanning the contents. She looked up, eyes wide, at Draco.

“This is ridiculous! Muggles murdered, and even a few wizards, left and right, and no one even bothered to investigate the cause sooner?”

She reread the report. Ginny looked up at Draco, her tone thoughtful. “However, these deaths, they aren’t random, are they? There seems to be one wizard for every few Muggles.” Ginny frowned.

Draco nodded in agreement, and then voiced his own opinion. “Yes, but you see, that’s not the only predictable thing. Look at the traces this killer left,”

Draco snatched the file and began to read them aloud, “Marseille, France, a commune that is incidentally is very close to Beauxbatons, which lies on the southeast coast of France. Albania, the place where the Dark Lord was rumored to be hiding many years ago. Romania—I believe a member of your Weasley horde is there, working with dragons and the like—”

Ginny looked up at him in surprise at the fact that he knew this, but he just plowed onward.

“Algeria, but there’s not very much that happened here. Hamburg, Germany—where Durmstrang is supposed be located. And, of course, right here in London. Mostly all the main Wizarding areas have been listed. So, Weasel, anything you would like to add?” added Draco, gesturing to the Quick Quotes quill, recording everything Draco had said at breakneck speed.

Ginny was impressed. She knew he had to have something in that overinflated head of his, but he really was going to be a helpful partner indeed.

“Malfoy?” Ginny asked, but then lost track of her thoughts once she noticed the close proximity between them.

“Yes? Are you going to stop gaping at me and say something intelligent?”

“Um, yeah,” she blushed, and then immedietly berated herself for it. She was an intelligent individual after all, and no stuck-up prig was going to tell her different. “Is there any further significance to this?”

He rolled his eyes but immediately Summoned a floating tapestry in front of them.

Draco placed his finger on each location and a charred circle appeared in its place. When he was done, he connected all of the marks together. They appeared to form a shape, the center of which was—

“Italy!” Ginny cried in excitement, having realized the crux of the matter.

“Yes, Weasel,” Draco drawled, as though talking to an energetic child. “Your ability to find the center of a drawn shape is astounding. I applaud you on this magnificent discovery.” She rolled her eyes, and reviewed the post mortem status of the victims.

Every death had been caused by Avada Kedavra, but the victims had remained stiff and rigid afterwards. Ginny correctly assumed they had been shot with Petrificus Totalus, therefore it was a surprise attack, much to Draco’s relief that she wasn’t totally helpless. After all, working as an Assistant Healer in St. Mungo’s made her perfect for understanding curses and analyzing prints and traces better than anyone, and it was good to know that her experience wasn’t completely lost.

“So, Ferret, we’re going to Italy. Where in Italy, exactly, are we supposed to be? Oh, no wait, don’t tell me! Your brilliant, pig-headed self already knows!”

“Actually, I do. We have a villa in Sardinia, and you,” he looked as if she were something on the bottom of his handmade alligator skin loafers, “will, I guess, have to stay in the guest room.”

Ugh. Staying in the same house as that ponce! Do I really have to? Even still, the last thing she wanted to do was to disturb the mission from going as smoothly as possible. This was her chance to prove to her family, and most of all, Harry, that she could do whatever she wanted, no matter how dangerous, by herself and that no one needed to protect her.

When Ginny was being possessed by Riddle’s diary (which Ginny referred to privately as ‘The Incident’), he delved into all of her fears and worries, one of which was being left behind or declared insignificant. Even though back then it was just about Harry, she now felt that way about everything. The thirst to prove herself had always been there, and with this job, she was sure to quench it.

“Uh, Weasel? I hate to disturb you while you are daydreaming about Potty, but your food is getting cold.” Draco gestured to a magnificent spread of hoers de oeuvres’ in front of her.

Ginny rolled her eyes at him, and began munching on a foie gras- covered cracker. She moved on to the custard tart, and was immensely surprised. It was so light and flaky, but rich and sweet at the same time. Draco lifted a perfectly shaped eyebrow as she moaned in delight. One look at his face, however, and she remembered his jibe about Harry. After taking a large swallow, she turned on him.

“For your information, not that it’s any of your business, considering you are a slimy git, Harry and I are not an item,” she stated hotly, and then muttered, “and we probably will never be again.”

This news brought on some kind of childish glee in Draco.

He sneered. “Oh, really? Did the poor, wee little bint get trashed aside by the brave, strong, holier-than-thou Potter?”

Ginny finally gritted her teeth and answered.

“As I have said before, it is none of your concern.” Her deceptively quiet voice reminded Draco of his father’s, and he realized he had hit a nerve.

They consumed the rest of the fine wine and food in silence.

After a while, Ginny looked outside and saw that the sun had disappeared behind the clouds and the sky had gotten dark. She turned to Draco.

“Merlin, it’s getting late. Do you have the time?”

“Depends, do you have the energy?”

Ginny goggled at him for a minute before she began laughing aloud. Draco smirked slightly, but did not look up at her.

Ginny tried hard not to smile and inquired, “Was that an effort to seduce me, Malfoy? I can assure you, it’s not going to work.”

“Oh sorry, Weasel, force of habit,” he replied flippantly and finished drinking his wine.
End Notes:
Hope you liked it! As always, review, and tell me what you think will or should happen next...you might be surprised at how close your guesses are! ;)

Additionally, any location Draco mentions, including Sardinia, is an actual magical location where, according to canon, wizards do exist and live there. Even the schools are in the accurate location of where J.K. Rowling has indicated they should be.

For example, Sardinia has wizards in it for sure, because Professor Binn's mentioned in one of his classes about Sardinian wizards.

All this and more can be referenced in the impeccable HP Lexicon. That website saved me plenty of time researching in the books to see if my story was correct according to Canon. So, thanks again to that.

Also, if you want to see an example of the loactions Draco pointed out, I made a map right here: http://i891.photobucket.com/albums/ac117/mungihead/picturessssssss.jpg Additionally, this one update might take some time, as me and my beta are not going to be in town..so, again sorry about hat, but there will definetely be more story/plot to make up for it!!!
Stuck in the Woods by Mungihead
Author's Notes:
Hey, guys! Okay, so please don't attack me...it's been almost a month and a half since I updated this, which is way behind schedule. However, I found an amazing beta who I definitely owe the whole story to from now on :) Thanks a bunch to Anna, for being so incredibly patient with my writing! :D

Hopefully, I can make up for my prolonged absence with these next few chapters..

Also, thanks to my wonderful readers, especially: silver rose, shezachica85, firefireice22, dumbledorefan_07, and akt5us!!!
In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary. ~Aaron Rose



The following week, Ginny was in a daze. Her very first project as an Auror, and she had already been assigned such a high-profile case!

Now the only thing left was to break it to her mum, which she hadn’t had the guts to do until the day before her departure. That was precisely why she had promptly Apprated in front of the Burrow’s door at noon: To explain to her mother that she would be going to a foreign country with a rude stranger (who had all but attempted to murder them in the past) with no exact return date.

Something she could most definitely live without.

Ginny mustered up her self-control and reached out for the doorknob, only to be struck in the head by the swinging door. Molly had apparently been eyeing the family clock, thus accidently giving her daughter a rather overzealous welcome.

Hoisting herself off the threshold, she submitted herself to her mother’s warm hug and was ushered inside.

“So, darling,” her mother chirped, “what brings you here? You certainly don’t come here enough, what with your little flat and all, but dear, this is always going to be your home! You should Floo over more, I would love to hear about your first day and how you’re doing and whatnot.”

She turned and beamed as Arthur Weasley came striding into the kitchen. Then she whirled back to Ginny and continued rambling, “Oh, look, your father’s here! Good, so now you can tell us what all you’ve been up to—”

“Mum! You’re carrying on again.” She gave her dad a hug as he kissed her on the cheek. “But I actually did come here to tell you something important. And I know you might be a tad bit upset, but I promise it’s not as bad as it seems.”

“Gin-bug, would we ever be mad at you for one of your decisions in life? Go on with it,” Mr. Weasley responded with a smile.

“Okay. So – ” she took in a deep breath “ – I’m-going-away-to-Italy-on-an-Auror-mission-with-Lucius-Malfoy’s-son-tomorrrow-and-I-don’t-know-when-I’ll-be-back-home.”

As an afterthought, she added, “And I am now an adult, so please treat me that way.”

She rocked back and forth on her toes and waited for their answer.

Molly’s predictable rebuttal came first.

She cried, “No! Absolutely not, I completely forbid it. Ginevra Weasley, are you out of your mind? Do you even speak Italian? And Lucius Malfoy’s son? Have you forgotten what he has done to this family? And I haven’t even started on the fact that you couldn’t even work up the nerve to tell us until the day before!” Molly paused to catch her breath. Her face was the color of her hair; her ample chest heaved while she fumed.

Arthur took advantage of her momentary ceasefire to address Ginny in calm, collected tones.

“Ginny,” he reasoned, “we can’t stop you from going, since you’re an adult and you have accepted this duty as part of your job. Now, your mother and I are rather upset with this, but we do understand that it’s not your fault.”

At this point, Molly looked ready to burst out in flames, but Arthur smoothly cut her off and plowed onward.

“So, even though we are not happy about it, thank you for telling us,” he finished with a slight cough.

Ginny looked her father squarely in the eye; they both knew it was best for Ginny not to further communicate with her mother until she was safely in Italy. She nodded slowly and backed her way to the door, then Disapparated on the spot.

Ugh. I knew somehow I’d mess this up. Well, I guess the only thing left to do now is pack. But first, I really should ask Luna what to bring. Living in a house with Malfoy for God-knows-when, if I hear one insult from him, I’ll crack.

Saying this, she brushed out her hair, changed into some casual Muggle robes, and popped over to a pub in London to have lunch with Luna.

When she arrived, she breathed the sweet aroma of Puddington’s, her favorite place to eat (apart from Molly’s kitchen, of course). She and Luna frequented the place at least once a month on Sundays. The place had excellent bangers and mash, with the richest gravy in the entirety of England.

Luna was already waiting for her at their usual table, sipping a fizzy, shockingly orange drink and reading the latest issue of The Quibbler. Ginny always ordered the same thing every time, so it was no surprise to her when she found the old-style wooden table laden with two heaping plates of bangers and mash.

“Hello, Ginny.” Luna smiled dreamily by way of greeting. Ginny greeted her and sat down, shoving her fork into the hearty potatoes and pulling out a giant gob of deliciousness.

The potatoes were buttered to perfection, and the meat was perfectly cooked, covered in fried onions and a hearty layer of spices and gravy. She moaned with delight. Once she had gulped her giant bite down, she looked up to see Luna expectantly watching her. Ginny raised one eyebrow at her in question.

“Now, Ginny, you do know that I was letting you eat that first bite out of courtesy. You really must tell me what your parents said. And what about working with Malfoy?” Luna probed.

Ginny sighed and said, “Well, really, Dad wasn’t all that bad. Mum was rather a bother though. She did her usual raging fit as she normally does, which wasn’t much of a surprise. But all in all, I just really did want to get it over with. I love them to death, really, but I am a grown woman now.”

Luna nodded sagely, and didn’t speak while Ginny continued. In the middle of her reverie, Ginny smiled to herself. Luna was probably the best listener in the world, and after the redhead finished her spiel, she felt relaxed, and a little less annoyed with her entire situation.

“…and so, I was just kind of sick with the bloody prat. But I am going to be stuck with him for a while, so I just might as well get along with whatever I’m doing, and just hope that I don’t botch this one up.”

“Oh, Ginny, I know you won’t. You’re able to squeeze out of tight spots very easily. And those Dirigible Plums I gave you last week should help you. They really clear the mind and make you open to new ideas.” Luna stated all this very matter-of-factly.

Ginny stared at her for a moment, then replied, “Uh, sure. But thanks for the moral support. I’m really sorry to have to bite your ear off jabbering nonsense, but I did let out quite a bit of steam. ” With that, she finished shoveling the last savory piece of meat into her mouth and chewed thoughtfully.

Luna smiled beatifically, counted some Muggle money out of her feather-covered bag, and asked, “So, what have you decided to what to wear?”

Italy was very warm, and Ginny was going to have one foot in the wizarding world and the other in Muggle towns, so she needed a variety of clothes.

Buying things was a newly found joy for Ginny, because growing up in a poor family, she had never been as privileged as the other little girls, buying every dress that fancied her whim. Her salary was not much at both St. Mungo’s before and even now as a Junior Auror, but she could live in a much less thrifty fashion as of late.

After shopping around nearly half of London (as Luna was looking for the rather eccentric outfits, and Ginny was looking for the least costly), the pair finally buckled down and bought Ginny’s ensembles.

Shopping had exhausted the two to the point where, once back at Ginny’s flat, they plopped down on her cozy couch and spilled open their bags, weary but victorious.

First came a handful of light sweaters, simple oxfords, and summer robes. Emerald green, stormy gray, lilac, and royal blue fabrics were tossed into a carry bag. A pair of casual Muggle jeans followed.

Trousers of sharp neutrals were, by a lazy flick of Ginny’s wand, folded, pressed, and packed away. Her Auror robes followed shortly after.

Lastly, a beautiful emerald green dress floated out of Luna’s bag and gently packed itself as well. Ginny’s eyes grew wide at the sight of it. It was a beautiful wrapped, layered dress, fluid in motion, and smooth to the touch. The fabric cascaded around itself like a storm, covered with gold embroidery. All together, it was a very high fashion piece, and Ginny knew she could not have possibly afforded it.

“Luna? Did you get this? I couldn’t possibly take it from you, it’s way too much for me to even think about,” Ginny said emphatically.

The blonde girl beamed.

“Think of it as a congratulations gift for your new job. You can wear it with that Zwonkyspurt feather bracelet.”

Ginny, never one for overly tender moments, felt a warm rush of affection for her familiar friend who had stayed with her through thick and thin, and enveloped her with a loving hug.

I’ll miss Luna. What would I ever do without her?

Soon after, Luna left. The youngest Weasley was left on her own to add the rest of her nightgowns and things to the bag.

The night fell fast, and as Ginny waved her wand to make her small luggage trunk close, she sighed at the late hour the clock displayed on the wall. With a handy Undetectable Extension Charm (graciously taught to her by the ever-brilliant Hermione) and a few other Shrinking spells, she was packed and ready to leave first thing in the morning.

The redhead brushed her teeth, threw on a worn dressing gown, and went to go lie down on her cot, wishing the highest hopes for the next day that awaited her.



*****



Draco arrived the next morning at his office in tip-top shape. He was wearing one of his many immaculate black robes and carrying a dragon-skin bag filled with files and emergency Muggle money.

There was no need for clothes, obviously, seeing as it was his villa, stuffed with as many items of apparel as he could possibly desire. It seemed rather foolish to bring anything else because he had mapped out everything so meticulously that it was impossible anything should happen.

He went over the plan in his head while waiting for Weasley.

Assuming they reached the Portkey on time (which seemed unfeasible, if Ginny’s punctuality had anything to show for it), they would arrive inside the forest of Fiorentini. From there, the journey could easily be done by means of a Muggle automobile, which was supposedly placed at a clearing in the grounds, which was very close to the main roads. They would reach the villa in fifteen minutes or less (using a map inside of the car’s glove compartment), provided he drove well. Especially considering the fact he had never driven one in his life.

It can’t be that hard. After all, those brainless Muggles do it on a daily basis anyways. Then, we can just go to the villa as quickly as possible, investigate what we need to, and be done in a week, at most. There is absolutely nothing that could possibly screw this up. Except for the Weasel, of course.

Draco silently berated himself for thinking otherwise, and leaned against his desk, smoothing down his collar, eyes flicking up every so often at the opulent ticking clock suspended above the doorframe.



*****



“Shit, shit, SHIT!” screeched Ginny in desperation. As usual, she had overslept, and the ever-insufferable Lord Malfoy expected her in his office in approximately five minutes, tops.

Barreling in and out of the shower, she threw on a Muggle jumper and trousers, which she had the good sense to iron the night before, and ran to fix her hair while simultaneously make a quick breakfast.

She waved her wand so her hair tied itself up in a high ponytail, and then shoved a piece of toast with marmalade into her mouth. In a flash, she grabbed her Ministry robes and her bag, downing her cup of tea as she hopped into the Floo fireplace.



*****



Draco was beginning to become seriously annoyed. Was she late for everything? Even still, his façade remained perfectly relaxed, the very picture of cool confidence, inherited as a part of being a Malfoy.

He lifted up the delicate crystal paperweight on his desk, which Kingsley had provided for them as their Portkey to the forest. However, after that, the dysfunctional pair were on their own, as the Ministry did not have much jurisdiction in Italy, let alone in the Muggle part where they would be spending much of their time.

All of a sudden, the grand fireplace directly in front of Draco roared, spitting out a very graceless Ginny, who was momentarily blinded by the Floo powder. The redhead, coughing and gasping, stumbled forward, and then proceeded to trip and fall into Draco’s arms.

At that exact moment, Kingsley arrived, swooshing through the door with his billowing robes. The sight of a soot-covered Ginny in the arms of the very confused Draco made him stop dead in his tracks.

“Well,” the older man began, the corners of his mouth twitching amusedly, “I see Miss Weasley has finally arrived.”

Ginny blushed and pushed herself out of Draco’s arms. Though, she did have to admit, he had very strong arms.

His strong arms? Really? What is wrong with me? Luna is actually right. I really do need my head cleared.

Likewise, Draco was having similarly wandering thoughts while helping her up to a standing position.

After the minor fiasco, they focused back on Kingsley, who was fingering the paperweight thoughtfully.

“I just came by to wish you luck, and to remind you that everything is rarely what it seems. Be wary on this trip, because anything and everything could occur. That being said, you’ll need this.”

Saying thus, he tossed the paperweight to Draco just as it turned blue. Grabbing Ginny’s forearm roughly and quickly, they soared away with the Portkey.

The two fell in a tangled mess, amongst some crushed leaves in the forest. The Portkey landed with them and broke after hitting a particularly unforgiving tree.

“Ow! Get off my arm, you dolt!”

“Might I mention that you are partially sprawled across my body? What is it with you trying to attack me all the time by falling on me? Weaselette, if you wanted me so badly, you could just ask.”

“MALFOY! What the hell brought you to that conclusion? Besides, this is no time to act like the wanker you are. We need to get up and find that car.”

Malfoy smirked and rolled his eyes as he dusted off his coat, waiting for his companion to get up off the ground.

Finally, they began their trek through the forest in search of the car. The sky was light, and thankfully, there had not been any more than an hour of time change to Italy.

Even still, Ginny was tired, and grateful to Draco for not starting something so early in the morning. Twenty minutes passed in silence, as the turns grew sharper and more frequent, and the path swerved left and right.

“The oldest forest in all of Sardinia,” muttered Malfoy under his breath.

“I’m sorry?” questioned Ginny, not sure she had heard him properly.

“This is said to be the oldest forest in all of Sardinia. Legend has it that the earliest wizards practiced some of the oldest known magic here,” he replied in his nonchalant, matter-of-fact voice.

His tone, however, betrayed a tremor of reverence, or at the very least excitement, and Ginny could tell he was intrigued by the idea of ancient magic. He seemed to have a thirst for knowledge, to want to prove himself and learn everything.

How annoying. But then again, that’s probably the reason why he has this job anyways.


They walked in silence once more, and then Ginny, out of innocent curiosity, asked the fatal question:

“Malfoy, I hate to be a pain, but are we lost?”

He looked at her like she was an idiot, and then growled, “No, absolutely not! I know exactly where we are going. We can’t possibly be in the wrong place, I took all of the right turns.” His cheeks darkened as he paced onward.

Ginny made a mental note to herself: Do not ever tell Malfoy that he is wrong. It will only end up annoying you and turning him that rather interesting pink color. Kind of like chewed up Drooble’s gum.

They finally stopped in front of a clearing.

“See?” said Draco. “I was told there would be an open spot. It is probably here somewhere.”

He continued striding forward, head held high, until he suddenly dropped straight down into the earth.

Ginny screamed and ran to get him – and by default, fell in right with him.

“Malfoy? Malfoy? WHERE ARE YOU?” she shrieked, groping around in the darkness.

“I’m right here,” hissed an annoyed voice behind her. “Now shut up and help me get us out of this godforsaken hole.”

Together, they blindly grasped at the dirt in walls and made footholds for themselves by using the rocks already in the walls. Ginny had wanted to use her wand, but Draco reminded her petulantly that the ancient cave was incredibly fragile, and guarded by magic.

What was it he said? Oh, yes, now I remember. "Even a simple Lumos, let alone one caused by your clumsy hands, could barely be safe."

The redhead rolled her eyes at this thought.

“So, um, what is this supposed to be?” Ginny asked.

“This is a portal to the land of Father Christmas, Weasel. How the hell should I know?” Draco’s voice came out strained and irritated. “All I know is that it is definitely worth a second visit. No one digs a tunnel into the ground for just no apparent reason.”

“Look, sorry, okay? But—wait a second. Do you feel something, I dunno, special in these walls? As in texture-wise?”

“Well, how about we just take a look, then? And, I'll do the spell casting, we wouldn't want anything to happen now would we?”

Draco muttered “Lumos” (while Ginny glared on) and a faint light glimmered upon the dirt wall. Cuneiform and Latin writings were etched along the surface, along with pictographs and runes alike. Both were done with magic, as the writing faintly glittered in the imperceptible illumination emanating from the wand’s tip.

“Obviously, some wizards have done this. See the light shining from them? And then the walls are covered with ancient spells and writings. Interesting. I wonder where this leads.” He looked around in the darkness for a pathway.

“Hold on,” said Ginny. “Is that blood on those walls? Malfoy, I don’t care how much you want to go there, you know there is no point in doing anything until we are well informed,” Ginny admonished him in her no-nonsense Molly voice.

“Now, we are going to get out and go to your villa. After that, we can figure out what to do.”

Saying thus, she began her ascent upward, and Malfoy had no choice but to follow her.

As one, Draco and Ginny tumbled out of the hollow cavity and onto the grass. Both of them got up and looked back at the hole.

“So, that was plenty of excitement for one day, wasn’t it?” Ginny said cheerily. “Now, how about I lead us to the car?”

Draco grumbled and trudged behind her, rubbing his eyes and smoothing down his once-perfect hair.
End Notes:
So, tell me what you think! Hate it? Love it? Review it! As always, lots of love, and I'll be back soon!
Into the Villa by Mungihead
Author's Notes:
Hey, guys! Again, this chapter took much, much longer than expected, but with school and other things, it kinda took longer. On the plus side, I finished another chapter or so, which will be coming soon :) Thanks so much to all of my reviewers and my readers, I love y'all! The biggest thanks to my beta Anna, who has amazing grammar powers and really sharp eyes :)
Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. ~Anthony J. D'Angelo


After wandering for ten minutes, Ginny spotted a twisted mass of rubble among some branches. After repeatedly pulling at the branches surrounding it forcefully to no avail, the redhead looked up to see her arrogant companion’s face sneering at her.

“Well? What do you want me to do? Malfoy, if you think you can get out of your little girl knickers and get this blasted Muggle automobile out, be my guest!” screeched Ginny, irritated beyond belief at his smug expression.

Draco took three long strides and with one tug sent every twist and tangle of the verdure raining on the car. Finally, the hunk of metal revealed itself to be a light blue Fiat. Unfortunately, the car had seen much better days, covered with countless dents and scratches, but even the filth of the machine did not curb Draco’s good mood at having annoyed his partner. He brushed the twigs off effortlessly and, after smoothly unlocking the vehicle, opened the car door for Ginny mockingly.

She stomped towards the car and plopped down onto the passenger seat, slamming the door so hard the window nearly shattered.

Draco strutted to the driver’s seat, positively aglow with self-satisfaction. Ginny narrowed her eyes dangerously at his façade.

That insufferable idiot! How is it possible for a person to have absolutely nothing else in his head except for hot air? Draco Malfoy is the single most annoying person in the entire world. Bloody irritating toff—”

Still beaming, Draco floored the gas pedal and took off at full speed. The old sport car’s wheels could barely take the rough forest ground, and Draco’s maniac speed was not helping at all. Ginny clutched to the armrest like a scared rabbit.

Draco was, on the other hand, having the time of his life. The only thing he was not very good at was the turns, but – with the map in his left hand and his right on the wheel – he was enjoying himself.

Unfortunately, once the car had stumbled out of the forest, they were on the paved road, which was full of sharp swerves and winding curves. He made several wide arcs, nearly hitting a terrified fruit seller and causing several motorcycles to collide with each other.

Ginny could take it no longer. After precisely fifteen minutes of her companion’s reckless driving, she grabbed the wheel from him in an effort to gain control of the car. In surprise, Draco let go suddenly and the car veered off the road, hitting some small shrubs. Coughing and crawling out of the wreckage, unharmed but angry, Ginny and Draco stood up and faced each other.

“What the hell was that for?” Draco shouted, his face darkening. “Do you want us both to die? Are you bloody insane, witch?”

“Excuse me,” Ginny retorted, “I didn’t realize that I should’ve not stopped you from nearly destroying all of Sardinia!”

“I don’t care! Now, how exactly do you propose we get to the villa? If we don’t get there, it will be all your fault and I’ll be left to—”

“Malfoy, if you even bother to pull your head out of your arse for only a few seconds, you would know that we were already here!” she yelled, and gestured behind him.

Draco whipped around, and his shoulders sagged in relief at the sight of the grand villa. Beyond the shrubbery lay the magical border that hid the estate from Muggles. The house, regal in standing, was a fusion between a luxurious, classic Italian home and the original Malfoy Manor. Ginny, relieved to see a hospitable, clean safe place, sprinted to the door and waited to be granted entrance.

Draco followed behind, pulling their shrunken luggage out of his coat pocket as he walked. Taking his time, he strode to the door and stepped directly in front of Ginny, who rolled her eyes. At his very step on the doormat, the door flew open. A miniscule house-elf appeared in front of them.

“Master Draco! Oh, the young master has grown so tall and big, just like Master Lucius! Oh, sir, Dara is honored to serve Master Draco,” the house-elf squeaked, her wide brown eyes brimming with joyful tears.

To Ginny, she said, “Hello, Mistress Wheezy! Mistress Wheezy is just as pretty as Dara was expecting.” Then the house-elf turned to face her completely, and gave her a knowing wink, which went by unnoticed by Draco.

Ginny stared at the tiny creature in bewilderment, but gave the elf a genuine smile.

At least someone in this house doesn’t want to gut me like a fish. I may actually have a good time.

Draco cleared his throat and asked Dara to unpack for them. Dara nearly fell over bowing to both Draco and Ginny, and scurried away to do her chores.

Ginny took the opportunity to look around the gargantuan place. The floors alternated between mahogany paneling and solid marble in golden tones. Silk-embroidered Persian carpets lay on the floor. Ancient magical tapestry, covered with runes, hung from the walls, and all of the furniture was made from richly-colored woods. A large set of double staircases opened up the foyer and separated the right wing from the left. While the Malfoy Manor was cold, dungeon-like, and dark, the villa had obviously been decorated to cater to Narcissa’s every whim. Fresh orchids in golden inlayed pots bloomed from every spot.

Ginny was in awe. She fell in love with the décor at once, and could not wait to see her room. Living in luxury was definitely a plus side to working with Malfoy.

Ginny watched Draco carefully for a moment to see what he would do once arriving home. However, he just stood in silence, refusing to budge an inch. She shrugged and kept waiting. Finally, when she could take it no longer, she prodded him.

“Malfoy?”

“What?” he snapped.

“It would be great if you had the decency to inform me where I am to stay.”

“Fine,” Draco muttered, “it might actually encourage you to show up on time if you could navigate yourself around the house.” He led the way up the grand staircase, taking two steps at a time, while Ginny, teeth clenched, sprinted to keep up with his long strides.

Countless twists and turns later, Draco indicated the room directly in front of him. “This is your room. Unfortunately, the guesthouse is being emptied out at the moment, and my mother insisted that you stay in the house—God knows why—so, for the time being, I am forced to let you—”

Ginny stepped inside in astonishment, ignoring Draco’s cutting remarks completely. The room was gorgeous. The walls were done in golden paint, and in the midst of it all was an exquisite cherry sleigh bed, draped with crimson silk sheets. A beautiful cherry dresser, vanity, and bureau completed the room.

The steadfast woman morphed into a young, carefree girl at the lavish scene before her, and squealed with delight. She turned around to thank her partner, but he was nowhere to be seen.

All the better. Now I need to just take a very, very long bath.

She walked into the bathroom, where her bath had already been drawn for her, and stepped into the lilac-infused water, noting the ruby-encrusted handles of the faucet.

I guess when you have that much money, you really must not have anything to do with it.

The second she immersed herself in the water, Dara appeared beside her. Ginny blushed and ducked herself farther into the thick bubbles, unaccustomed to having servants help her bathe.

Dara, armed with a battalion of shampoos and perfumes, hummed songs in soprano as she went about anointing Ginny with her various potions and products.

After about the sixth conditioner, Ginny was rather fed up with the whole deal. She snatched the bottle and read, “Madam Malfalda’s Magic 20-Second Hair Gloss. ‘Guaranteed to make your hair as shiny as unicorn tail!’ What utter rubbish.”

“Yes, miss, but very effective it is indeed! And Mistress should always look her best! Master is expecting you at two o’ clock, promptly,” Dara replied.

Ginny turned her head around to raise an eyebrow at the miniscule servant, who went back to humming as usual, as if nothing had happened.

Ginny asked carefully, “Is there something I should know? Is there any particular reason I need to ‘look my best’?”

Because to be honest, she added to herself, the only other person I would probably come in contact with for miles is Malfoy, and that’s something I will try to avoid as much as possible.

The elf widened her eyes, and opened her mouth, then shut it quickly.

After seeming to have a minor mental argument with herself, Dara finally squeaked, “Oh, Miss, Dara was just saying, she wishes she could tell, but no, she cannot. But she can tell you one thing, oh yes, Dara can. Dara wants to warn Mistress to always, always look at things in a new light. And two is always better than one, ‘tis the truth. ”

Ginny knew there was some truth to the elf’s words, especially when they had to do with unknown Dark forces—she remembered with clarity Harry’s experience with Dobby, and how the elf had known of the dangers of the Chamber of Secrets. Ginny shuddered at the thought of the chamber, which brought back all of the horrific memories of that year.

Attempting to shake herself away from those thoughts, Ginny forced a smile onto her face and nodded, responding, “Thank you, Dara. I’ll keep that in mind.”

Dara beamed at her approval.

Ginny slipped out of the tub and into a fuzzy scarlet bathrobe, marveling at how soft it was. Striding out of the bathroom, she went to look for her clothes. She reached inside the dresser—where Dara had already folded her newly washed and pressed clothes— and pulled out a pair of crisp black trousers and an olive-green V-neck sweater. Ginny wove her wand around her head and her hair twisted up into a chignon, looking in the ornate mirror of her vanity as she did so.

Wow, those hair potions were actually quite useful. My head doesn’t look like Arnold the Pygmy Puff took residence there, that’s for sure.

She then grabbed a pair of dragon-hide slingbacks (her birthday present from George) and proceeded out the door.

“Oh, damn, I forgot my earrings. And Malfoy,” Ginny cursed, and with her wand drawn, muttered, “Accio earrings.

She got no response. She tried again, “Accio earrings!

Ginny gave one last futile attempt, to no avail: “Uh, Accio Ginny Weasley’s earrings? Um, Dara? Are you there?” Apparently Dara was assisting her master, because she was nowhere to be found.

Great. I bet the Malfoys’ have one of those fancy protection enchantments on all of their guestrooms or something. I guess I’ll just have to search manually.

Ginny padded toward the drawers once again and thoroughly searched all of them, disgusted by their contents. She had neglected to look at everything before, and realized the drawers were full of possibly the smuttiest lingerie she had ever seen.

Whose are these? Ginny wondered, half-disgusted, and half-intrigued.

After pulling out countless numbers of teddies, nightgowns, and brassieres, she gave up, and moved on to the bureau. This one was no different. She pulled out a black handkerchief and threw it back in repulsion when it revealed itself to be a lacy crotchless thong.

Malfoy sure does get around, doesn’t he?

Finally, in the very last drawer, she found her small pouch of jewelry and pulled out the earrings that she had wasted so much time looking for.

She slipped them on and looked at the clock. As usual, she was late. The ornate clock’s hands showed five after two.

Ginny racked her brains, but she hadn’t the foggiest where she was supposed to be. After walking around pointlessly for God knew how long, Ginny ended up in the right wing. The first door she saw was embossed with three Latin words, and she faintly made one of them out to be Draco.

This must be his room. There’s probably an elf cleaning up after Malfoy in there. Maybe one of them can tell me where his grand, pig-headed Lordship is.

She rapped on the door three times, and when she got no reply, she barged inside.

The room was very spacious, with a small sitting area, a study desk, and a very large bed, with a door to the adjoining bathroom inside. The décor was symbolic of Slytherin to the highest degree: the curtains, bed sheets, blankets, throws, and rugs were all emerald. All of the other furnishings were in cream, white, or gold, and the overall tone of the room was very elegant and sophisticated. The materials of the furniture further reflected the Malfoys’ posh tastes, as the room housed everything from cashmere to silk to cherry. His bedroom set was much like hers, but larger and definitely more ornate.

Ginny tiptoed around, looking for any tiny house elves lurking in the corners, and paused to feel the soft cashmere throw on the couch. It smelled inherently of him, like smoky woods and something very, very sweet, but Ginny could not tell what it was. All she knew was that the smell was incredibly intoxicating.

Shaking her head away, she proceeded to look in the bathroom. Pushing open the door, Ginny looked inside and stopped dead in her tracks, mouth agape.
End Notes:
Now, this may seem like a cliffhanger, but it's not really a huge one at all. The NEXT chapter is where we will be leading up to something new! ;) Review please! Enjoy, y'all :)

-M :)
When it Gets Personal... by Mungihead
Author's Notes:
So, this is the new chapter! Yay :) Thanks so much to my fantastic readers and reviewers: albinopeacockwithfreckles, scentasia, Boogum, firefireice22, and everyone else! (Hopefully I didn't forget anyone :(... ) Thanks soooooooooooooo much for reviewing, it makes me super happy!!

Thanks a BAJILLION to my fantabuepicliciously amazing beta Anna, I LOVE you! :D

Enjoy, y'all :)
There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind. ~Annie Dillard

Draco stood before her, slightly smirking at her expression. He had just gotten out of the shower, a towel loosely wrapped around his waist. Beads of water dripped off his muscled physique. His torso was lean, but sculpted. Obviously, he was not a bodybuilder, but he took care of himself to the point of perfection. He resembled a Greek god so acutely that Ginny found it hard to tear away. His skin, like cold marble, shone in the light pouring in from the ornate window.

Damn. How the hell did Malfoy hide that under his clothes? But he is nowhere near likeable. Nope. Never. I don’t care what kind of muscles he’s got. He’s still the same infuriating bastard he was a couple hours ago. But still, damn.

Draco inquired sardonically, “Have you had your fill of looking, then? Or would you like me to turn another way, so you can continue to measure me like a piece of meat? Although, in my opinion, you really ought to be returning the favor…” he trailed off suggestively.

Ginny stopped her gawking and blushed furiously, turning as red as a beet. “Malfoy, if you stopped looking at your glorious self for at least a few minutes, you would know that we were supposed to be going somewhere. Where, I don’t know, because you wouldn’t tell me. I was told to come precisely at—oh, for Merlin’s sake, put a shirt on, please!”

Draco grinned mischievously.

“Why? Is it bothering you? Because I do seem to recall that you weren’t so uncomfortable earlier…”

Still smiling, Draco pulled on a silk button down, and Ginny thought it was a shame to cover up the nice view. Even so, she held her resolve and continued, “Can it, ferret. Anyways, it’s two o’ clock. Dara told me to be here. Now. In your room.”

Draco frowned. “I do believe I said three, Weasel. Maybe your memory’s slipping. I guess you’ll just have to wait here, then. I’ll be out in a while. Feel free to ogle.”

Ginny, irritated, left the bathroom and plopped down onto an emerald velvet divan in his spacious room.

After about an eternity of waiting – at which point Ginny began rapping on the door – Draco reappeared, in pristine condition, from his carefully combed hair to his polished dragon hide shoes.

Ginny watched Draco step around her and soundlessly stride out into the corridor. She rolled her eyes and followed him, trying to memorize the twists and turns of the halls as he took them. Generations of snooty-faced Malfoys stared at her through gilded frames, wrinkling their upturned noses at her vibrant hair and freckles.

Once downstairs, Draco went straight to the door that was held open by Dara, and sauntered outside, his wand in hand. Ginny pulled hers out of her pocket, too, just in case. He made a figure-eight motion, and a shiny red Vespa materialized in front of them.

“No,” Ginny said, not tearing her eyes away from the bike.

“What do you mean, no?” Draco snapped. “We’re going to investigate in a Muggle town. We can’t just use brooms, you know.”

“There’s no way in hell I’m getting on that thing if you’re driving.”

Draco glared at her. “Get on,” he spat.

Ginny stood her ground. She had no intention of getting herself killed on the very first day.

“The bike has been bewitched. I won’t be doing anything!” he roared indignantly.

Ginny suddenly smiled. “I guess our problem has been solved, then.” She hopped on and waited for her irritated partner to start up the bike.

The Vespa was indeed enchanted, as it drove by itself and squeezed through any tight spots imaginable, more or less like the Knight Bus.

While Ginny seemed to be enjoying the ride, Draco was not. The other Muggle contraption – whatever the devil it was called, an automobeetle or something – was much more fun when he was in control. This Vespa thing was moving of its own accord, running into unfriendly breezes that mussed his hair. Not to mention it was completely open, so he could smell the acrid fumes of exhaust engines. He was beginning to get nauseous, what with the combined stench of fuel and the heat from the burning midday sun. All in all, it was definitely not Draco’s preferred mode of travel.

The car took another sharp and unexpected turn, and Draco’s stomach lurched as Ginny shrieked and grabbed on tightly to Draco’s waist, trying to latch on to something to keep her balance.

The uncomfortable feeling in his stomach disappeared instantly, and instead, warmth enveloped him that had nothing to do with the temperature outside and everything to do with the ivory freckled arms wound around his waist.

What is happening to me? Draco, get it together. It’s merely the heat, nothing else. You know how you get headaches from the sun. It happens. Even still, I’m not going to deny it, Weaselette is rather attractive. But there’s something else about her… I wonder what it is?

Draco finally stopped thinking and looked dead ahead. The Vespa was slowing down, and it turned down a cobbled street, where Muggle “police” were standing. According to Kingsley, they were something like Aurors, but Muggles. They drove around in cars with flashing lights and loud sirens, four of which were in the alley.

The Vespa screeched to a halt. Draco slid off, and, without thinking, offered Ginny his hand. She gave him a funny look and jumped off the motorcycle. Draco ran his fingers through his windswept hair and followed her.

“What happened?” Ginny asked to the nearest officer, a large burly Muggle with a thick mustache. When he looked back at her, confused, Ginny realized that he could not speak English. She suddenly realized her mistake, and almost smacked herself upside the head. They were posing as local Italian officers, and she had nearly blown their cover. Of course, she couldn’t let her self-righetous arsehole of a partner berate her for that, so she glared back at the wow-you-are-such-a-fool look he was giving her.

Draco smirked, and stepped forward to address the officer. “Mi scusi, ma che cosa è successo qui?” He flashed the man a copy of an Italian Muggle officer’s identification badge.

The man, eager to spill the latest news to a fellow officer, pointed towards the house directly in front of them, which was swarming with reporters, officers, and civilians. He exclaimed, “Qualcuno è stato ucciso!”

He motioned for Draco to follow him, and gave him additional details on the murder. Something he said sparked a glint of fear in Draco’s eyes, and the air filled with loud jabbering in Italian.

Ginny sprinted to keep up with the men, who continued speaking in urgent, bewildered, and grim tones.

The policeman wiped the sweat of his brow, patted Draco roughly on the back— Draco shuddered, repulsed at his sweaty hand— and sighed gravely, “Magari sapessi che cosa sta succedendo. Sperando, tutto andrà a finire bene.”

The man proceeded to jog towards the crime scene to join his fellow officers. Ginny caught up to Draco.

“Malfoy? What happened?” she inquired, grabbing his shoulder to get his attention.

Draco turned to face Ginny. His eyes were stormy gray and solid, like stone. His mouth was set in a firm, grim line. He said, “Another Muggle has been killed. Apparently, the Muggle showed signs of mental torture, but nothing physical that the Muggle autopsy could detect. They said that the heart just stopped beating. It just completely stopped.”

Ginny breathed in deeply. “The Cruciatus, and then the Killing Curse?”

“Exactly. It seems this victim was too dangerous to kidnap.”

Ginny was extremely heartbroken. The minute they got to Italy, it had already begun. Whatever this was, it was happening, and they had to jump on the ride immediately.

“And…something else happened. A kidnapping took place, alongside the murder, not too far from here. The man mentioned this in passing. A wizard…” Draco broke off and turned away, not wanting to say more.

“What? What happened? Malfoy, tell me!” Ginny tugged on his shoulder again.

He choked out the last word: “Severus…”

Ginny was shocked. She knew that her partner and her former Potions teacher were close, and she felt horrible, watching Draco’s sunken expression. However, she was extremely intrigued. What had happened? Why Snape? Why was he even in Sardinia in the first place?

Even still, she had to make sure her partner was okay. When Fred died…it was awful. The family had shattered to pieces. Every passing day, they grew stronger, but the false pretenses of happiness they put on stuck like glue: it held up their morale, and let them keep going with their daily routine, but when looked at as a whole, the pieces were never truly perfect. You could still see the cracked pieces and jagged lines. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years flew by, but Fred’s absence was never forgotten—it was only pushed deeper inside.

Snape may not be dead yet, she thought, but at the hands of whoever those vile people are, he may as well be. And no matter how much I hate the slime ball, he is probably the only friend Malfoy has. Plus, his disappearance is vital to the case. Now, I wonder how I can get Malfoy to talk?

Hesitantly, Ginny put her hand on Draco’s shoulder.

“Um, Malfoy? Do you think maybe we should go back? ”

Draco turned around, and his eyes were steel gray like molten lava. Gone were the flirtatious sparks and the confident shine. They were replaced by something much harsher—a grim determination. A shield, an invisible barrier, surrounded his inner feelings like a bulwark, and no matter how much she wanted to help, Ginny knew she would not be able to get past it.

“No,” he stated, and walked stiffly back to the bike.

Ginny followed, worried. She had seldom seen anybody acting like this before. Whenever anyone in the Weasley household had a problem, they would share everything with the other family members. This had been a sort of unsaid rule after the incident in her first year. From then on, as Molly had declared, there were to be no more secrets in the Weasley household.To be with someone so unfeeling was just, well, odd.

The minute Ginny hoisted herself onto the vespa, they sped away like lightning, causing her to squeak and grasp onto Draco’s slim, firm waist. She, as usual, had no idea where they were going, and wanted to ask him, but his eyes were focused on a distant point somewhere in front of them. Apparently, he knew where they were going.

The sound of the roaring engine was the only noise that punctuated the silence between them. The car raced through the streets, and before long, Ginny drifted off to sleep to the lull of the purring motor and the slight bounce from the vespa.

She jerked awake when they appeared in the same clearing as before.

The redhead slid off and tripped over to Draco, who was now surveying the empty hollow they had fallen into earlier.

“I’m going in,” Draco said shortly to his bleary-eyed partner, who was too tired to even know how clichéd his statement was.

Before, it might have been wise for him to wait before walking in to a dangerous situation, but now? Now, it was personal, and he had neither the time nor the patience to be wise. His mind raced back to his own father, who had never treated him as a son, but rather like a shadow, a younger image of himself and his own perverse beliefs. Snape had been the only true father he ever had: a person who had helped him through his troubles, silently congratulated his successes, and appreciated him for who he truly was. To Draco, that meant more than anything he could ever be given by Lucius.

Ginny rubbed her eyes, and then became fully conscious of what Draco was saying.

“Malfoy, wait! What are you—“

However, her concern was to no avail, because he had already leaped into the large cavity. She had no choice but to do the same.

When Ginny finally scrambled down the burrow, Draco was already leading the way, brandishing his illuminated wand in front of him.

“Malfoy! Stop. Right now,” Ginny gasped as she ran behind him, trying to keep up with his pace. The long passage stretched out so long in front of them that neither could see the end.

“Draco, if you could kindly tell me where we are going! What the hell is wrong with you?”

Draco ignored her and kept on walking. As they ventured deeper and deeper into the underground tunnel, the rocky ceiling hung treacherously low, to the point where Ginny was crawling on her hands and knees like a child through the passage. The pitch-black darkness engulfed them both, and, like a sinuous snake, coiled around every crevice and crack.

Panting, she finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and clambered towards the clearing, desperate for some air and light. Ginny ended up colliding against Draco, and, very ungracefully, they tumbled into the opening.

Draco roughly pushed her off him, irritated, and rubbed his eyes. The first thing he saw was a horrible woman he had hoped to never see again grinning at him crookedly, relishing the sight of him, like he was a piece of meat that she was about to devour.

She cackled and crooned, “Oh, Draco. I was wondering when I would see you again.”
End Notes:
As always, review please! Bonus points to whoever correctly guesses the name of the woman who's cornering Draco!
Hopelessness by Mungihead
Author's Notes:
Thanks to my wonderful reviewers!!! I love you guys!!! And a million thanks to Anna, for taking the time to sift through my horrible grammar ;) Love y'all!
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. ~Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


Draco shuddered in revulsion as the woman’s face blurred into clarity.

Her unruly, matted dark hair shadowed her face like twisted vines on a trellis. A pale face with sharp, gaunt angles hid beneath. However, what stood out most was her one distinguishing feature, the one sign of recognition that made Draco long to be as far away from her as possible. Under thick, heavy-lidded eyelids were eyes, black as coal, with a malignant gleam to them. Those were the eyes of a mad person, one who knew she was insane, and embraced the fullness of it.

Those were the eyes of Bellatrix Lestrange.

“Itty-bitty Draco. It’s Auntie Bellatrix! Didn’t you miss me?” she simpered in a sickeningly sweet voice. Honey tainted with poison.

“Missed you?” Draco began in a cold, caustic voice. “No, I‘m sorry, I seem to have forgotten my manners. Of course I’ve missed the loving aunt who murdered innocents, slandered our family name, and made my sixth year the worst of my entire life.”

“Oh, oh, oh! I see we are a bit touchy, aren’t we, darling?” she taunted, grinning wretchedly, showing all of her missing teeth.

Draco seethed, and he decided to play his last card. “Of course, the worst thing you did of all was possibly the most deluded: you set our family up to spend the rest of our lives slaving after that miserable snake of a man whom you so dearly cherished, one whose filthy half-blood was not enough to even polish my boots.”

Bellatrix’s nostrils flared. She whipped her wand out and drew it sharply across his face; an angry slash mark remained. Draco pulled back, an angry red slash appearing on his face.


She hissed, “Don’t ever, ever slander the Dark Lord’s name ever again. Your foul mouth shall dare not defile his glory!”

Bellatrix moved to strike Draco again, but stopped abruptly and focused her attention somewhere else. She appeared to be listening to something. After a resigned slump of her shoulders, she turned back to her nephew, and leered crookedly.

“I wish I could play with you, my pet, I really do. But your time is not now, no, not at all. Not when something bigger is in motion, the one thing that will bring us glory once again!” she cackled.

“Who is ‘we’?” Draco demanded. “Where am I? And, where the hell is Gin—my partner?” His voice grew in volume, and Bellatrix flinched back, but regained her composure the second she heard Ginny’s name.

“Oh, Draco! Don’t tell me—you haven’t been keeping company with that blood traitor? Is she a plaything of yours, perhaps? Just something on the side?” Bellatrix’s eyes took on a sadistic glint, and Draco, sickened, went pale. His eyes narrowed into slits.

“That is vile, and beneath even you. She is nothing of that sort. I have asked you once, and I will ask you once more: where is she?” Draco’s voice was soft, but deceptively treacherous.

Bellatrix pouted, apparently disappointed that he no longer wanted to play her games. Even still, she was amused enough by his anger to at least show him what he so desperately sought. Pointing to the far corner of the room with a dimly lit wand, Bellatrix showed him a levitating Ginny, spread eagle in the air. Her eyes were wide open, and she was trying to scream, turn over, do anything, anything to escape.

Draco jumped up to try and reach her. Something inside of him just snapped, and the only thing he wanted at that point was to do something, anything to get her down.

“Ah, ah, ah,” his captor admonished, “Not so fast. Incarcerous ” She flicked her wand lazily, and wrapped Draco in magical binds, which restricted him from any movement at all. Bellatrix reached over and plucked his wand out of his pocket, and laid it on the ground in front of him.

“If you really want to save this girl,” she began contemptuously, “you must pass a test, darling. I wouldn’t deny you some fun, but you cannot go ruining things for me now, can you?”

Draco gritted his teeth as Bellatrix continued. Her voice deepened, and Draco had a feeling she was about to say something important, so he listened carefully, attempting to make a mental register of every word that left the foul woman’s lips.

“Draco,” she whispered, “do you not wish for the world to be cleansed? Cleansed of the filth that are Muggles? The Dark Lord may be gone physically, but he lives on in the hearts and minds of every single one of his followers. Even yours.”

The woman was even more delusional than he had previously believed. The Dark Lord had cost him everything he held dear: his home, his mother in her true happiness, his school years, his childhood innocence. He had even been stopped from gaining what he had wanted most: a father’s pride. Thrust into a world of darkness, Draco had tried his hardest to survive, but he was different, and could not live without light.
Even still, he listened.

“The wheels have been set in motion. Our revenge will be exacted from those who oppressed us. The ones among us who were truly faithful will be rewarded again, for a new leader has stepped out of the shadows. He is to carry on my Lord’s philosophy, which is one of true power that stems from true blood. Will you not join us? This is a test of your faith, Draco.”

His deranged aunt’s voice grew reverent as she continued.

“Imagine the possibilities! Traitors will be recast as the filth they actually are—traitors like Snape .”

The mention of his father figure’s name made Draco’s blood boil. He temporarily forgot to feign interest in her twisted plan due to his anger.

“Where is he?” Draco hissed, and Bellatrix watched his eyes grow dangerously dark.

Bellatrix’s ecstatic smile faltered.

“I-I am not aware of his location.”

Draco took this opportunity to fully humiliate Bellatrix; he reasoned that the more hurt her ego was, the easier she would be to break.

“So, you mean to tell me that you do not know? Has your ‘savior’, the one whom you serve with such loyalty, denied this information from his most unwavering servant?”

Bellatrix’s nostrils flared with anger. She yelled, “It matters not! Vengeance will be ours, and those who are too weak to follow, namely yourself, will be crushed along with everyone else!” Inches away from Draco, she stared him down as he writhed, bound still by her magical ropes.

“Sorry to interrupt your dramatic little schemes, but your plan will not be taking place today,” said a loud, defiant voice from behind her.

Bellatrix whirled around to see who had spoken.

Ginny Weasley stood her ground as she glared at Bellatrix, her jaw tight with determination. She was holding a blade and a tangle of ropes. Bellatrix laughed at her.

“Dear me, it seems that the littlest Weasel has escaped! I must have been distracted while I was having a chat with my nephew over here. How very clever of you,” she derided.

Without a word, the stone-faced redhead whipped out her wand and wielded it like a sword. Mockingly, Bellatrix followed.

“Is the little girl going to hurt me? Or will poor baby Weasley go the same way as Freddie?” jeered Bellatrix.

Ginny fairly growled, and lashed out spell after spell at Bellatrix, who waved them away carelessly, like they were pieces of parchment.

“To duel, you really need to know how to mean it, my dear!’ she taunted, louder this time. Bellatrix shot a black plume directly at Ginny’s head, no doubt a trick she learned from her master.

Doubling over, Ginny crumpled, and Draco yelled in rage, tugging on to the powerful binds that held him.

However, she recovered quickly, and fired off some of her deadliest spells, the ones that could put people in hospital beds for weeks.

A tremendous fight ensued, and the air was so thick with glowing beams of light and fire that Draco found it hard to discern who was emerging victorious.

Unfortunately, once the smoke cleared, it showed a weakened redhead. No matter how much feeling Ginny put into her curses, Bellatrix was the more experienced witch.

Bellatrix grinned ferally at Ginny. Her eyes shone, and Ginny realized what she was about to do a split second before she did it.

Crucio! ” roared Bella. Twisting and squirming, Ginny fell to the ground, screaming.
Draco’s eyes went blank, and he nearly lost control. He shook with anger.

“You won’t last another second, will you, darling? Just think, soon you will be reunited with your brother.” She laughed, but lost control of the spell.

While she was distracted momentarily, Ginny, riled with fury at the witch’s words, stumbled to her feet.

Furnunculus! Sectumsempra!

The raven-haired lady’s face swelled with welts and boils, and before she could take a breath, the latter curse slashed a side of her bony face.

Bellatrix shrieked in response, and clutched at her face. She shot jets of green light directly at her opponent, but the redhead jumped out of the way just in time. In response, Ginny shot flames that seared through Bella’s clothes and fried her matted hair. She stepped back, took a breath, and aimed a few deathly curses at her now weakened adversary.

“And that’s what you get when you try to take advantage of me.” Ginny stared down her prey, her wand in the air. Draco was truly amazed. Ginny had managed to literally abominate Bellatrix with just a few spells. None of them were fancy, or complicated. Just hard-hitting, formidable, and incredibly blunt. How fitting.

Her wrath blazed with the intensity of the sun and the stars, and flamed like her fiery hair.

Bellatrix lay on the floor, ragged. Ginny levitated her to the far corner of the room, and with a quick flick of her wand, dumped her unceremoniously on the stone floor. She slashed through Draco’s binds, and he got to his feet, muttering a quick thanks.

“Well done. You have, for now, defeated one of my most, shall I say, motivated servants.”

The pair looked about wildly, for the booming voice that spoke to them had literally resounded from out of nowhere.

“Who the hell is that?” Ginny wondered aloud, but Draco silenced her with a glare, rolling his eyes at how crude she was.

“Ah, Ginevra Weasley. What a pleasure.” The voice, amused, went on.

“We were speaking of Bellatrix, were we not? She is, after all, a mere pawn in this game, as young Malfoy here has already understood. She looks at this game as a simple one of revenge, but I assure you, it is much more than that. We shall see each other soon, I daresay, in time for the solstice. But first, I wish to give you a little gift. Ginevra, this is for you.”

Suddenly, Ginny fell limp, shaking and twisting. She seemed to be seeing something in her head that Draco could not. It must have been a terrible, horrible vision, for when it ended, she opened her eyes, covered in a feverish sweat, and collapsed in his arms. Draco easily caught her, but he was worried now for her health and their safety.

Draco grabbed onto Ginny’s arm and tried to Apparate home as fast as he could, spinning on the spot. Whoever that voice was, he had a feeling it was coming for them incredibly soon.


***

They landed with a thud on the rough stone pavement in front of the doorstep. Dara appeared at the doorstep in no time, and with one look at Ginny’s crumpled form, raced back inside to the kitchens, undoubtedly to get some healing potions.

Draco stepped through the open door, Ginny still in his arms, and the door swung closed. He looked around for a place to put her down, and decided to lay her on one of the embroidered golden poufs in the grand foyer.

Dara rushed back over and saw Ginny sprawled across the divan—which was entirely too small for two people to sit on, let alone for a person to lie comfortably on—scowled at Draco. Her expression reminded Draco so much of a disapproving Narcissa that he involuntarily took a step back.

She is only a house-elf, for Merlin’s sake! Why is she looking at me like that? What is stuck up that elf’s arse? All I did was set Gin—I mean, Weasley on the divan.

Dara finally spoke. “Master Draco,” she began in a firm voice, as if scolding a naughty child, “Mistress must be put in a proper bed.”

Draco drew himself to his full height and stared down the unwavering elf. His face was smoothly blank, but his steely grey eyes were importunate—an expression that usually brought terrified coworkers cowering to their knees.

The house-elf raised one eyebrow at him and with her long batlike snout up in the air, scurried away to the kitchens.

Draco stood, flabbergasted by the elf’s total lack of regard. However, he was too tired to argue the standards of the Malfoy house’s hierarchy, so he decided to comply with Dara’s request. He slipped his hands under Ginny’s warm body, lifted her into his arms, and hauled her up the stairs. Once in her room, he set her down gently on the crimson sheets and waited for Dara to bring her some soothing potions.

***
Downstairs, Dara ladled a piping hot remedy into a silver teapot and set it on a tray with some crumpets. Remembering Narcissa’s previous advice from a week ago, she added a bit of ginseng and peppermint, and poured melted chocolate on top of the crumpets. A fresh vanilla bean was crushed, scooped out, and dumped into the mix.

Smiling to herself, the faithful servant went along her way, humming happily.

***

Draco was starting to get tired. He perched on a velvet chaise next to Ginny’s bed, watching her intently. He definitely needed rest, but his mind rattled with of questions.

Who was that voice underground? What did he truly do to Ginny? What did she see? When did she go from Weasley to Ginny in my mind? What is Bellatrix’s demented plan? Where is Severus and what is she planning on doing to him?

The last question bothered him the most and was completely beyond his control. The matter of Ginny/Weasley was going to have to wait for now. He was still very worried for her, and he kept watching for any signs of her consciousness. Unfortunately, she remained a silent tomb; the only sign that she was alive was the steady up-and-down motion of her chest.

Slumped over in his seat, Draco looked defeated, something most uncharacteristic for any true Malfoy. The large window showed a murky grey sky, blotted with thick iron clouds. A dark shadow fell over the room, casting both of the people inside in darkness.

Suddenly, a small fist rapped on the door. Draco permitted admittance, and Dara shuffled inside, carrying an ornate silver tea service. She set the tray on a small coffee table, bowed deeply, and left.

***

When Dara returned to the kitchen, her face wore a toothy grin when she saw how Master looked at Miss Wheezy. Mistress would be so pleased. With this happy thought in mind, the elf merrily went on to clean the dishes.

***
Draco eyed the steaming teapot cautiously. Unsure of what he was supposed to do, he poured some of the hot liquid into a silver spoon. He gently pushed apart Ginny’s lips, feeling the warmth of her body as he did so. Then, as carefully as he could, Draco took the spoon and emptied the whole thing in her mouth. He quickly took it right out and waited.

In a matter of seconds, Ginny’s eyelids fluttered open, and she stared directly at Draco before erupting into a coughing fit.

***

When Ginny awoke, the first thing she saw was Draco Malfoy’s mesmerizing grey eyes burning holes in her face. Astounded, she wanted to touch him, certain that he was a mirage or a hallucination. Then her throat started to burn. Air left her lungs, replaced with a stinging sensation like a blazing fire. She burst into a hacking cough, attempting to restore lost breath.

***
Draco lifted her up into a sitting position and did the only thing he could: whacked her on the back until the cough went away.

She sputtered for the last time, and shot a mutinous glare at Draco. He was taken aback at her irritated expression.

What could I have possibly done this time? I did stop her from nearly choking to death, didn’t I?

“Why,” she gasped, eyes watering, “did you just hit me?”

“Itswatmamumusdtado,” he muttered abashedly.

“What?”

“I said, ‘It’s what my mum used to do.’ Whenever I had a cold,” Draco said uncomfortably. Ginny saw a fleeting innocence in his eyes as he remembered the tenderness of his mother’s love in his childhood. She did wonder what had about brought his sudden desire to help her; she could not remember what had happened to her in the first place.

He attempted to restore his lost dignity by adding in a pompous voice, “And you were the one coughing all over me, so I was just being noble by trying to help. That is sort of the Gryffindor ideology, is it not? To assist a damsel in distress?”

“Draco Malfoy, you utter arse! I am positive your mother didn’t apply half as much force. I may be strong, but I’m not some kind of solid object that doesn’t feel pain! And a damsel in distress? Who the hell do you think you are?” she roared at him, and he shrunk back, before drawing himself up to his full height.

“Well, excuse me. As I seem to recall, you went completely limp and started shaking. Then you refused to wake up. What would you have wanted me to do?” Draco shot back.

She widened her eyes at him.

“Wait—completely limp? What happened?”

“Do you mean to tell me that you don’t recall at all what took place not two hours ago?”

She shook her head.

“How much do you remember?”

“Well, I do remember Bellatrix. And Sna—I mean, the reason we came to the cave. Then there was this horrible voice, and I remember something absolutely awful happened. Something I saw that was inherently familiar, but more terrifying then anything else.” She shuddered.

“And?” Draco pressed on, intrigued.

“See, there lies the problem. It’s like my mind was wiped clean of everything.”

Draco ran his hand through his hair in frustration. Ginny noticed he looked even better, if possible, with his hair tousled just so.

Stop it. Right now.

His pained expression mirrored his words as he said, “Why doesn’t a single thing that happens ever go exactly right? You just about lost your mind, literally, and I just, just—“

Ginny’s eyes widened, in one part amusement and two parts incredulity.

“Did you, the Slytherin Sex God, the Puppy-Drowning Human Ferret, the Incredibly Irritating, Persnickety, and Iron-Fisted-yet-Undeniably-Attractive—“

“I’m sorry, what was that last one?”

“Just something I heard from that pug-faced cow Pansy last week at Gladrag’s, but that’s beside the point. What I really want to know is, Malfoy, did you just show compassion? Were you actually worried about me?”

The sweet smell of vanilla filled the air, punctuated by peppermint and ginseng. As Ginny looked into his eyes, she realized that the implication of her joking words was much deeper than she had previously thought.
End Notes:
Side Note: Vanilla, ginseng, and peppermint are all romantic/seductive herbs and scents in history and literature.. just thought you should know ;)

Again, please review, and I hope you enjoyed this chapter!!!
Chapter 7 by Mungihead
Author's Notes:
So this story was temporarily on hiatus, which I apologize profusely for! Super, super sorry. It's definitely moving now, and I have a couple of chapters ready to go! Also, let me put in a HUGE thank you to my amazing beta, Anna, who deserves chocolate and candy and Draco. And that's saying a lot. ;) So, enjoy :) Love y'all!
Thought the sun is gone, I have a light. ~Kurt Cobain



Cinnamon eyes stared into mercury grey as Ginny waited for his answer. The palpable silence in the room was truncated by the sound of Dara’s footsteps.

“Yes?” Draco snapped, turning to face the elf. “What do you want?”

Dara looked contrite, but more so for having interrupted rather than irritating her master.

“Master Draco has an owl.” With that, the tiny servant snapped her fingers, and a scroll of parchment appeared on the bed. She bowed and strode away.

Ginny leaned forward and clumsily grabbed the letter, unfurling the long scroll. Draco motioned to take it, but Ginny gave him a contemptuous glare. She began to read, and Draco leaned over her shoulder to scan its contents.

He was alarmingly close, and Ginny shivered at the warmth of his breath. She returned her attention back to the paper.

“Junior Auror Weasley and Junior Executive Chief Malfoy,” she read. “It appears that this seemingly small case is on a much grander scale then we had previously thought. Dark magic is suspected to be involved—”

Draco snorted derisively, and Ginny elbowed him in the stomach before continuing.

“’The foreign ministries are on a high alert. You will now be dealing with the Italian dignitaries, as our government has no jurisdiction in Italy whatsoever. They wish to meet with you to discuss their next plans. Enclosed is an invitation to a meeting, which is in the guise of a formal society event in order to deter suspicion.’ Wait, hold on, what?” Ginny stopped and reread the last line.

“…in the guise of a formal event ? What exactly do they mean by that?”

Draco looked at her in bewilderment. “What, do you mean you don’t know what a formal event is? A ball, you plebian!”

Ginny snorted. “There is no way in hell I am going to a ball.” She said the word ‘ball’ like one might say ‘dragon bogies.’ “They’re just pointless events for snobs that have nothing to do but sit pretty and spread vicious gossip behind each others’ backs.”

Draco said sullenly, “That’s not the only thing there is to do.”

Ginny looked at his somewhat sad expression, wondering if she had hit a nerve. After all, his mother had probably dragged him to every society event since the time he could walk.

Draco continued, “You forgot to mention getting sloshed out of your mind.”

Ginny stared at his growing smile. “Are you taking the mickey?” Draco chuckled while she hit him with a pillow. “Draco Malfoy, you arse! I thought you were actually hurt.”

Draco responded with a straight face. “No, you see, for that I would have to have feelings.”

Ginny giggled and, seeing her face, Draco laughed with her. In an instant, they were both rolling on their sides, laughing on the fluffy comforter.

After a few minutes, they sat up, the carefree atmosphere in the room subsiding.

“So, umm...where were we?” Ginny said awkwardly, looking around for the letter.

Draco held it in his hand, one eyebrow raised. Ginny stuck her tongue at him, an action that was not lost on her blonde companion. He sneered at her childish taunt and continued reading.

“Hmm…dangerous situations, be safe, work with each other, get along—ah, here’s something interesting. ‘Be careful about what you say, and what you do. Nothing would please the Italian officials more than to bring the British Ministry down. They would, in essence, become the new superpower…”

“Oh, great. Forget the dark magic—heaven forbid we shame the name of the Ministry,” she mocked in a pompous voice.

Draco watched her theatrics, amused, and rolled up the scroll.

“Honestly, that’s about it. Not exactly much to work with—certainly not enough to help us with this lot.” Draco furrowed his brow.

Ginny, who was rather carefree at this point, suddenly realized the pointlessness of their situation. She watched Draco for a minute, and the realization bubbled up inside of her, spilling out in some muddled form of anger and confusion.

“Malfoy, this isn’t all, is it? We have psychopathic Dark murderers on the loose, and absolutely no backing from the Ministry whatsoever! You know as well as I do that while Bellatrix was probably just trying to scare us, that thing , whatever it was, is legitimately something to be worried about. I know we’re in this house, but there is no doubt in my mind that it could find us very quickly.”

Ginny was screeching at this point, and Draco was having a hard time understanding how she had changed moods so fast.

Channeling a calm state of mind, he asked quietly, “Does manic-depression run in the family, or are you the only one who is so damn unpredictable all of the time?”

She turned to face him, but her expression was no longer frustrated. It was just sad.

“Malfoy, I’m—I’m scared.”

“Oh, come on, you can’t honestly—“

But then he saw her face, which showed just how genuine her fears really were. Draco took a moment to consider her words. Was he scared? He wasn’t really sure. Years of practice allowed him to push his fears in the darkest recesses of his mind. But were they ever truly gone? Not many cases carried the implications like this one did, and with Snape gone—this man, whoever he was, knew far more about him and his weaknesses then he had previously thought. Obviously, this was a personal feud, to an extent, especially with Bellatrix involved.

Draco awkwardly patted the shaking redhead on the back, and she relaxed at his touch.

He finally whispered, “Look. This is not going to be easy. We still don’t know why you especially were affected by that voice, but we’re going to at least have to go to this ball. Chances are we’ll gain more intelligence there from the officials.”

She made a small noise of complaint at this, but Draco pulled her chin up to his face.

“I have to find my godfather, alright? I just do.” His eyes betrayed him, and Ginny began to see the first sign of his weakness. She understood perfectly the need for family—she had experienced it so many times during the war. Ginny nodded, and Draco looked away.



***


The ‘formal event’, according to the invitation, was the next evening. Draco cursed when he saw the date, and barged into Ginny’s room early the next morning. He looked around at her disarrayed bedspread and towards in the bathroom, where the door was wide open.

Frowning, he searched for any sign of her gone, until he spotted a small lump in the comforter, hidden amid the mess of sheets and pillows. Draco grabbed his wand and cautiously prodded the lump sharply in the side.

Ginny growled. Draco poked her again. He received little more in response than a sleepy grunt.

“Get up,” he said. “We need to go. Now. I expect you downstairs and dressed in twenty minutes.”

That got Ginny’s attention.

“Malfoy, who do you think you are, ordering me around? I’ll wake up whenever I damn well please!” she shouted, angrily tossing off the covers. But by then, he had already gone.

Get dressed for what, exactly?

She picked up the invitation Draco had dropped on the bed. It had today’s date, but the ball was around eight, which was quite a few hours later.

She and Draco had both agreed that there was no point in further investigating the case until the ball was over, seeing as Bellatrix had already trapped them once and would not hesitate in doing it again. So what exactly would they be doing this morning?

Nevertheless, Ginny got up and brushed her teeth. Draco was many things, but never late, and he expected everybody to be as punctual as him. Unfortunately, Ginny was not an early riser.

She ran her hands through her wildhair, finally giving up and tying it into a loose bun. While the many hair potions applied (rather forcefully, she had to admit) to her hair by Dara had given it some shine, there was no taming the famous Weasley locks.

After donning a pair of slacks and a Muggle blouse, she ran through the corridor. As she looked down from the staircase, she saw Draco in black robes, looking impeccable as always.

Wait, we’re going to the Wizarding town? Why?

She cursed under her breath and returned to her room to change again.

When she emerged in navy robes ten minutes later, Draco opened his mouth to berate her, but was cut off by her fierce expression. She walked straight past him and out the door, leaving him there chuckling silently, but mocking her all the same.



***



“So, where exactly are we going?” Ginny asked. “No wait, let me guess: it’s a surprise. In that, I mean we’re going somewhere—only because you want to—and I won’t actually find out where until we get there.” She stood on the perch of the villa, hands on her hips Molly Weasely-style.

Draco’s eyes flashed, and they both knew where she was getting at. The last time they had gone where Draco wanted to go , the pair had gotten nearly killed by Bellatrix, and then Ginny had gone through mental torture, which she now remembered nothing about. And this had all happened because he had insisted that they find Snape immediately, without considering the consquences.

Ginny stared him down defiantly, well aware of what she had just implied. She knew it was hard dealing with a loved one’s loss—more so than most people. But they couldn’t afford to rush into anything like that again.

After taking a deep breath, Draco said, “Fine. We’re going shopping, okay? You might not realize this, but we need to keep up appearances.” He grabbed her arm and they Apparated instantly, leaving Ginny sputtering in protest at his vague answer.

They landed squarely in front of an ostentatious, ancient building. While the brick was aged and the smell of mothballs hung around the air, the large pillars and intricate carvings were still pristine, albeit slightly cracked. A large marble sign hung over the entrance, embossed with fancy golden letters.

Ginny scanned the sign, and then reread it, feeling a definite sense of anticlimax.

“You brought me here? Seriously?”
End Notes:
Oooh.. suspense. Well, not really. :) Either way, I hope you liked it and I promise another chapter will be updated ASAP! As always, please review!
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