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.”
Author notes: As always, review please! Bonus points to whoever correctly guesses the name of the woman who's cornering Draco!
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