It didn’t take long for the rumors to start racing through the Hogwarts’ corridors the morning after the dance. I had escorted Ginny back to her common room at the end of the evening, after dancing and talking with Fred, George, and a few others who had the nerve to approach us. Leaving her with a kiss, I planned to meet her early for breakfast and then we could spend the day together. The Headmistress had given the sixth and seventh years a day off from classes, to make Granger’s idea a bit more feasible.

By the time I met Ginny outside her common room, the younger students were already staring and whispering. Of course, as I approached the portrait, I understood why. Ginny’s voice was muffled, but I could hear Ron as clear as day.

“Ginevera Molly Weasley, what were you thinking letting that scum put his hands on you?”

“Ron, my love life is none of your business. I told Harry last night, and I’m telling you now, sod off and stay out of it. And good luck getting any support from Mum or Dad, or Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred or George either. Fred and George have accepted him, and the others are all for letting me make my own choices. Mum even owled me yesterday, asking me if I wanted to bring Draco home for dinner over summer hols.”

Ron just sputtered as the portrait swung open and Ginny stepped out. She turned and waved merrily, smiling as she said, “Ronniekins, I suggest you start being nicer before I’m forced to ask Mum if Draco can spend the entire summer with us.”

I smiled as she slipped her hand into the crook of my elbow and pretended to ponder the idea for a moment. “I have a better idea, Gin, why don’t we invite your family to the Manor to stay for the summer? Then I’d get to spend the whole summer with you, and we could give your Mum a bit of a vacation.”

“Oh, Draco, that’s a lovely idea. Let’s head up to the owlery right after breakfast, but let’s start with a week or so rather than the whole summer. I’m not sure how Mum’d feel about living in someone else’s home for three months.”

We grinned and headed down to breakfast, where she joined me at the Slytherin table. More and more of my housemates had been moving closer to us, and now, Ginny had practically been adopted by the remaining Slytherins. We only stayed long enough to eat, and to make a little small talk with Zabini, one of the first who’d accepted both my return and Ginny’s presence.

“You know, Gin, I’ve been thinking…”

“Now that’s dangerous,” she deadpanned.

“I’m being serious. My mother always used to throw a ball at the beginning of the summer hols. What if I hosted one this year, as a victory ball? Do you think that might entice your mum to come stay at the Manor? I don’t think I could do it without you and her to help me.”

“It’s a great idea, Draco, why don’t we owl her and ask? Or perhaps we could use Headmistress McGonagall’s office and floo her?”

When I smiled and kissed her in appreciation, there were a few whistles and the sound of money changing hands, as apparently a few folks were betting that the rumors weren’t true. And then Ginny was running up to the head table, speaking quietly with the headmistress. When the older woman nodded, Gin smiled and ran back to my side.

“It’s all set, we can go to her office this afternoon and floo my house. I don’t really know anything about balls though, Draco, are you sure you want my help?”

“I couldn’t have anyone else as my hostess. Besides, Zabini will help, between our mums, they hosted five balls a season I think. And Pansy’s accepted you quite well, I’m sure she can help. But your mum was a Prewett, so I’m sure she knows quite a bit about hosting balls. The Prewett balls were apparently all the rage when our mums were young.”

We left breakfast, and headed off to the private room the headmistress had granted me when I returned to school. She realized there would likely be some tension between my housemates and myself after the events of my sixth year, as well as my own tendency to be a loner after my time in hiding. We had often studied together here on weekends, when the library was too crowded or when we just wanted to avoid the stares we still got.

This time, we asked the painting to let the twins or Granger in if either of them came looking, but to ask before allowing Ron or Potter into the room. I would play nice when they would, until then, I would rub their noses in it whenever I could. The two of us sat on the couch, in the sitting room, lists of paper spread out in front of us. The floo in my room was set up to only reach McGonagall’s office, the infirmary or my own home, so I’d used that to floo the manor, asking one of the house elves to fetch mother’s planning books, full of color schemes she’d used in the past and ideas she’d toyed around with.

When the time was right, we headed up to the Headmistress’ office, Ginny whispering the password to the gargoyles and leading me up the stairs. The headmistress herself was there, talking with the portrait of Headmaster Dumbledore, who smiled at our approach.

“Ahh, Mr. Malfoy, Miss Weasley, it is good to see you living up to the potential I saw in you both.” I simply nodded, more used to the talking portraits in the Manor and their insane ramblings than the coherent thoughts of someone I was supposed to kill.

McGonagall smiled. “Ginny, the floo powder is on top of the mantle. Draco, I’m quite pleased with your idea. It’ll be a nice time to really celebrate the end of the war.”

I smiled as Ginny went to the fireplace to get her Mum. “I do hope you’ll make time to attend, Headmistress? I’m hoping Ginny and her mother will hostess for me, as I’m really rather lost without my mother.”

She nodded briefly, a hint of a smile showing before Ginny called me to the floo.

“Mum, this is Draco. Draco, this is my mum.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Weasley. It’s easy to see where Ginny gets her great looks from.” When the older witch smiled, I returned it as Ginny squeezed my hand.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Draco. I’ve heard so much about you from Ginny, as well as Ron and the twins. I put more stock in what I hear from Ginny and the twins though.”

“Now that’s a relief. I’m sure Ron hasn’t been very complimentary towards me, and I can’t really blame him. I was quite horrid to him for years.”

“Ah, yes, but people do change and Ron struggles with that. Now, Ginny tells me you’ve had a brilliant idea and you’d like my assistance?”

“Well, yes. See, Mother always hosted a ball at the beginning of the summer holidays. I’d like to continue the tradition this year, but with Mum in hiding, I’m rather at a loss. But I remember my mother telling me how your family always threw such wonderful parties when you two were young, and I was hoping you might be willing to help. I’d like you and Ginny to hostess for me as well, as there are those who will be more likely to attend a ball hosted by the Weasleys than by the Malfoys after what my father has done.”

Mrs. Weasley smiled. “I’ve not thought about the balls my mother used to throw in years. But I would be happy to help. Perhaps, if it’s ok with you, Minerva,” here, the disembodied head in the fire looked to the Headmistress for approval, “we could hook up a direct floo so we could discuss it when necessary?”

With the Headmistress’ approval, the two of us chatted for a few more moments with Mrs. Weasley, and then we said our goodbyes, heading down to the Great Hall for dinner. We avoided the Trio as we ate, and headed back to my room to gather up Ginny’s belongings so she could return to her common room. She took a few of mother’s books with her, and we planned to meet up over breakfast before classes. I kissed her goodnight, a sweet, light kiss, and headed back down to my own room.

And that is how I managed to not only be hosting a celebratory ball for the Order of the Phoenix and the crème of the nobility of the wizarding world, or those who weren’t dead anyways. And also how I managed to have my incredibly talented girlfriend playing hostess for me, and her mother’s approval to boot.

To Be Continued.
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