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?”
Author 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!
To Be Continued.
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