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The Truth in Art and Wine by Shy Violet
The Truth in Art and Wine by Shy Violet
Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That's all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

- W.B. Yeats

She noticed him looking at her legs. This was not unusual; men were often looking at her legs. "Mr. Malfoy - " she began, uncrossing them and leaning forward in her seat.

"We are both adults here. You could call me Draco."

"It is because we are both adults now that I politely added the 'mister'. You may call me 'Miss Weasley', and I won't remind you the things you used to call me when we were still children," Ginny said irritably, hoping that what he had to show her was worth her time.

"Fair enough." Draco nodded, and she suddenly wondered if the suit he was wearing cost more than her month's wages in commissions. "I suppose you would be wanting to see the item?"

"I would," she replied briskly, perking up a bit.

"Wait right there; I'll be back in a moment."

"You're going to move - " But he was already gone, having risen from his chair and slipped into the next room without a sound.

She glanced around her, taking in the... well, the majesty of Malfoy Manor. She had heard that it was even grander now than when his father had been the man of the house - that Draco's clever investments in more reputable venues had possibly doubled their fortune - but it was all hearsay and speculation. He had been out of school for less than three years; surely he couldn't have forged so much success in that time?

He came back into the room, carrying a bottle of wine in one hand and a square, brown paper wrapped object under the other arm. When he blew dust off of the bottle she could see the number "1927" engraved neatly on it.

"Is that the year?" she asked before she could stop herself. "A bit extravagant for a business meeting, don't you think?"

"You haven't seen my wine cellar," he replied cheekily, setting down the brown package - Ginny's eyes were riveted to it - and uncorking the bottle with a deft twist of the screw. He murmured something, and two wine glasses flew towards him, remaining levitated in mid air so that he could pour.

He handed her a glass of scarlet liquid and said, "Please, Miss Weasley. I insist."

She hesitated only briefly, and then took it from him, her fingers curling around the stem as she said, "Thank you." Then, she bit her lip and added quickly, "And this is the painting?"

Draco chuckled, taking a sip of his wine. He waited for her to do the same, and then set his glass down on the table beside them. "I admire a woman who knows what she wants," he told her, ignoring the cool gaze that this observation elicited. His hand pulled at the brown paper, revealing the canvas underneath.

"Oh," Ginny breathed.

A portrait - a woman with long, raven hair seated on a blood red settee. She wore a blue satin dress, jewelry of white gold and sapphires, and a measured smile. As Ginny stared, the woman straightened her dress and tilted her head, as if adjusting her pose to the artist's demands.

"Where did you... how did you...?" Ginny stammered.

Draco's lips turned up into a slow smile. "It's been in my family for... well, forever, really."

"But you're a Slytherin," Ginny snapped, then took a breath. "I'm sorry. I'm just... surprised. How you could have had something of such value in your possession..."

Draco waved a hand dismissively, and explained, "Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin were lovers."

"But you're not related to..." Ginny's eyes dropped, away from Draco and away from the painting. Her fingers tightened around the stem of the wine glass, and she took a long drink.

"You know how pureblood families entwine, Ginny." She barely noticed that he used her first name. "There is a point where the lineage of the Malfoys and that of Tom Riddle's mother are indistinguishable."

Ginny cleared her throat. "I'm sure I can find you a buyer, but I'm surprised that you are interested in parting with this. It will fetch an amazing sum, though it doesn't appear as if you're hurting financially."

"I'm not interested in selling it." He took another measured, steady sip of wine.

She stared. "What? Then why did you ask me here?"

He regarded her for a moment. "It's amazing, the way the wine stains your lips. The same color as your hair. I imagine it looks lovely in the firelight."

"Excuse me? Mr. Malfoy, I don't think..."

"I'm not interested in selling the painting, because I'm giving it away." Another sip of wine, and then he took her glass, his fingers brushing gently across hand. He set both glasses on the table, and looked back up at her.

"Giving? But - "

"To Hogwarts."

"Then why did you...?" Ginny suddenly felt a bit light-headed. She glanced over to the table; her glass was still half full.

"Because when I give it to Hogwarts you'll be able to go look at it there. I had a feeling that my possession of this item might persuade you to come visit me." His smile seemed less calculated now, but more dangerous.

"Because you told me that you wanted to sell it at the gallery!" Why was she getting so flustered?

"I apologize for the slight falsehood that lured you here. But I do hope that you will take the painting off of my hands and show it at the gallery for a while before it goes to its new home. And as for falsehoods - well, you won't have to deal with that anymore." He brushed a strand of pale hair away from his eyes, and for the first time looked slightly anxious.

"I don't believe you," she said immediately, looking into his eyes for some sign of manipulation.

He shrugged. "I'm afraid you'll have to. You see, there was veritaserum in my wine."

Ginny's eyes widened. "What? Why would you do that? Are you mad?" She shifted in her seat, intending to stand, but suddenly he had leaned forward and his hand was on her knee.

"I knew you wouldn't believe me otherwise when I told you," he said, staring at her as if he too was trying to read something in her eyes.

"Told me what?" she asked, squirming uncomfortably. Yet she couldn't quite bring herself to demand he remove his hand.

"That I can't stop thinking about you. That I care for you. That I want you, Ginny Weasley, as utterly mad as that does indeed sound."

"You're lying! There's no veritaserum in the wine. You're playing a stupid joke on me. I'll bet this painting isn't even real, you sodding..."

"Do you think about me?"

She started to spit out a denial. The words were in her throat, but they caught there as if trapped by some web. And she heard herself say instead, "Yes. All the time."

Her mouth dropped open and her hands flew to her neck as if unsure that her head was in the correct position.

Draco smiled, and this time it reached his eyes, which suddenly seemed to shine with adoration. "There, you see? I knew you wouldn't believe me."

He patted her knee, and then leaned forward even farther, pressing his lips to skin close to her ear and then whispering, "So I put it in your wine, too."


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