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 fašade 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.
Author notes: So, tell me what you think! Hate it? Love it? Review it! As always, lots of love, and I'll be back soon!
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