Draco's head was pounding, and so was the door. Groaning, he started hauling himself upwards, disentangling himself from someone he'd be willing to swear he'd never seen before. Scrubbing his face with his hands, he shouted, "Bunty! Stop the infernal racket, even if someone has to die!"
The house elf peered around the door, saying hesitantly, "Is Ministry appointment, Master. Ministry miss is persistent."
Growling, Draco stood up and found a pair of trousers, pulling them on and heading down the stairs. Opening the door, he glared out and said, "Is this really necessary right now?"
Ginny blinked at his bare chest, and immeditely averted her gaze to look him directly in the eye. "This is when you said would be convenient for you, Malfoy, and I rearranged my schedule, so as to accommodate your royal highness." She arched a brow at him. "Sorry to have interrupted your nap."
"What time is it, anyway?" He rubbed a hand over his face and stepped back, yawning.
"Two o'clock in the afternoon, sleepyhead." Ginny cocked her head to the side and her eyes opened a little more widely. "Are you just now getting up?" She couldn't remember the last time she slept past eight; Harry was an early riser and before that Molly Weasely never tolerated her children sleeping the day away. "I seriously want your life," she muttered.
With a reluctant chuckle that almost sounded like a cough, he said, "Go back and win the genetic lottery. That or marry well, but that would involve giving up Saint Potter."
"Yes, well. Who can resist a saint, right? I'll just have to settle," she joked, frowning at how that sounded coming out of her mouth. She cleared her throat as she followed him into the parlour of the townhome. "Are you ready to go, then? Aside from, you know, being fully dressed?" she asked, casting a sweeping glance over his torso again.
"I'd apologize, but since you're getting a free show, maybe you should say thank you." Draco lounged on a plush sofa and snapped his fingers. As soon as his house elf appeared, Draco said, "See about getting whoever that is upstairs out, would you? And bring food. Enough for Miss Weasley, too, or my mother will somehow sense I'm being rude and come give me a thick ear."
"I'll see what I can do about working up a proper amount of gratitude," she said rolling her eyes, as she sank into the chair across from him, giving an involuntary sigh. She'd been going non-stop since nearly seven that morning, and it really felt good to sit for a minute. Her shoes were killing her; it seemed like she always wore her most umcomfortable pair of high heels for these days. "Who's upstairs?" she asked, before she could quell her curiosity. "The Ministry hasn't sent someone else already, have they?"
"I don't think so, although my memory of last night is a bit hazy." Draco closed his eyes and tried to think, but then shook his head. "No, I was too drunk. She's blonde, that's all I know. Well, and that she's a screamer."
Ginny closed her eyes and pursed her lips, holding up a hand in protest. "Stop right there. Too much information, Malfoy. I don't need to know details of your life not pertaining to my job at the Ministry."
"Good to know," he said cheerfully, delighted at having a new way of needling her. "So, you have absolutely no interest in knowing, say, the way I pulled off the Wronski in last week's game?"
"I suppose you think it's impressive? Harry was doing that manouever while we were still in school," she said dismissively. "Nice catch of the Snitch, though. The Magpie's seeker looked completely brassed off."
Grinning, Draco said, "Saw that, did you? Isn't that seeking information about my life, unrelated to your job?"
"I wasn't seeking information, I was making a comment, or a compliment if you like," Ginny said as she fixed her unimpressed glare on him. "In nursery school, they teach children to say 'thank you' graciously, and move on."
"Do they? Fascinating," he said. "Do they also teach self righteous priggery, or do your sort of people pick that up later?"
"It's self taught," she answered flatly, "And brought out for people like you, specifically," she finished, a sweet smile on her lips.
Smirking, he said, "Good to know you acknowledge the need to give me special treatment."
"Oh, my gosh!" she exclaimed. "You never stop! Please tell me it's an act for my benefit, and you're not really this self-absorbed."
"Hmm?" He made a show of looking up as if interrupted mid-thought. "Sorry, did you say something? I was busy contemplating my own greatness. It's a skill I learned from your boyfriend."
"Harry is not self--" She stopped purposefully, inhaling deeply and internally chanting what had come to be known, in her head, anyway, as the 'Malfoy Mantra.' Will not curse. Will not curse. Will not curse. "Is there a reason that I'm sitting here with you and not on my way to Wiltshire?" she asked. "I'm sure we both have other things to do this afternoon, after this."
Truth be told, she didn't. Not really. Harry was going to be working late, and she always planned her visits with him for the last slot of the day. Frowning involuntarily, she blanched at the stray thought. She wasn't visiting him, she was doing her job.
"Food," he said firmly. "I'm not about to starve to death for the Ministry."
Ginny sat back in her chair, secretly relieved to have the respite of a few more minutes while the prince fed himself. "By all means," she said, waving a hand airily. "Don't let the official Ministry documents get in the way of your breakfast. At half two in the afternoon." She pulled the scroll with the bright blue seal from her pocket and placed it on the table between them.
"Hey, I'm feeding you, too." Draco picked up the scroll and looked at it briefly before tossing it over onto the table which held the rest of the scrolls. Bunty came in with a tray loaded down with finger foods, and placed it on the tray where she'd put the scroll. Draco took a saucer and loaded it up, gesturing to Ginny to do the same.
Ginny was taken aback for a moment; she'd never been around him where he'd offered to give anyone anything. However, he was eating the food on the tray as well, so she figured it probably wasn't poisoned. And he probably wasn't on to lace his guest's food with jokes. Not every one was like Fred and George. She shrugged and put a small amount on her plate, to be polite, she thought to herself, but stilled as her stomach growled in the silence of the room. A slow blush creeping up in her cheeks, she regretted the fact that she'd skipped lunch to make sure that she got there on time.
"Sounds like you need this almost as much as I do," he said, pushing the tray closer to her. "Don't worry, I wouldn't adulterate any food that came near mine. I care too much about my own well being."
She started to protest that she hadn't thought that, but gave up before she started; even she wouldn't believe that. Mumbling something that sounded like "Thanks," she began sampling the treats on her plate. Her eyes widened and then closed; the pastry she'd just casually popped in her mouth was positively sinful. To die for, better even than her mum's apple tart, not that she'd ever tell her that. "What is this lemon thing? Oh, my gosh, Malfoy," she gushed, "who cooks for you? This is fabulous!"
"One of the elves? I think Bunty might've cooked them." He picked up one of the lemon cakes and bit into it, but it didn't seem different or special enough to warrant that reaction. "It's a cake? We can get you a whole plateful if you want."
"I-" Her instinct was to say, 'Oh, holy Merlin, yes, yes, YES,' but she decided that that response might be construed as inappropriate and unprofessional. "Oh, no, that's alright," she protested politely. "Thank you, though. Lemon anything is just my favorite; so many sweets are chocolate," she said, thinking of the chocolate cakes Harry had got her for her last three birthdays. "But I prefer things a little tart. Keeps teatime exciting."
He had a flash of smearing lemon pie filling across his chest and having her make teatime really exciting, but he quickly smothered the thought and went back to his plate, studiously avoiding anything that contained citrus. "Nothing wrong with chocolate. I have truffles delivered regularly."
"No, chocolate's alright," she agreed. "It's just one of my mad personal preferences. But I don't know that I've ever had a truffle."
"Maybe once," she said thoughtfully. "Certainly not enough times to have an opinion on them."
He shrugged. "Maybe next time there'll be some left when you get here."
"How uncharacteristically charitable of you," she said, looking again at him. Her heartrate increased as her gaze lingered longer than it should, as he was still shirtless and tousled, his mouth closing around a spoonful of something creamy. Oh, dear heavens, she thought, face flushing, averting her eyes quickly. I'm just like every other ridiculous Quidditch groupie.
"I know," he said smugly. "I'm renowned for my generosity to those less fortunate."
She laughed. And that is why he will never, ever be attractive. "Yes. Thank you ever so much m'lord," she said in a peasant-like accent. "Are you nearly done? I do have other things to do today," she lied, sniffing aristocratically as she put her plate down on the table.
"I suppose." He put his plate down and stood, stretching his muscles before absently scratching his stomach. "I suppose I should get dressed - any chance you'd wait while I took a shower?"
"No," she answered quickly, definitely not thinking about water running over his chest. "Could you hurry, please?" she asked, her voice strained.
Raising an eyebrow, he looked at her quizzically. "Hot date, Weasley?"
"Yes," as a matter of fact, she answered briskly. With a carton of ice cream and Harry's telly. "Just go put on a damned shirt so that we can go."
Bowing with exaggerated deference he said, "Yes, ma'am, of course, ma'am, anything for the Ministry. Is your humble servant to be allowed shoes?"
Will not curse, will not curse, will not curse. "Go," she ground out through clenched teeth. He turned to leave the room, and she muttered under her breath, "You drive me insane."
"Well, it's a short trip," he said, grinning as he headed up the stairs to get dressed. And maybe he would take that shower - it'd give her some time alone with the lemon cakes she liked so much.
Ginny stood silently in the middle of his parlour, her mouth open in a silent scream. "Infuriating," she ground out, throwing herself back on her chair and picking up another pastry, not even thinking before shoving a rather large bite in her mouth. "Bloody annoying," she said around a mouthful of cake. "And not attractive. Not even a little."
Author notes: ****************
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