Draco Malfoy Ginny Weasley
Drama Romance
Multiple Eras
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire Quidditch Through the Ages Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Published: 08/16/2002
Updated: 12/01/2002
Words: 98,611
Chapters: 18
Hits: 65,644

Sea of Waking Dreams


Story Summary:
Draco Malfoy has seen his share of nightmares and now, as the war with Voldemort rages around him, it takes Ginny Weasley and a ragged band of orphans to teach him what true love and loyalty really are. Draco/Ginny, and a few brief instances of m/m kissing.

Chapter 13

Chapter Summary:
Draco Malfoy has seen his share of nightmares and now, as the war with Voldemort rages around him, it takes Ginny Weasley and a ragged band of orphans to teach him what true love and loyalty really are. Draco/Ginny, and a few brief instances of m/m kissing.
Author's Note:
This chapter is long. Be warned of D/G fluff. Dedicated to all who have reviewed.

Sea of Waking Dreams

By Cinnamon

Chapter Thirteen

Ginny told Ron where she was going to Malfoy Manor, figuring that he’d be more inclined to be tactful about it, and that he could tell Percy for her.

Ron immediately complained. “Ginny, Mum and Dad’ll be here tomorrow, and I don’t want to be the one to explain what you’re doing with Malfoy.”

“I won’t be doing anything with Malfoy except consulting his team of law experts, so don’t worry about explaining that.” She smiled sweetly, kissed his cheek, and ran out of the room as quickly as she could.

Draco was waiting in the entry of the castle, talking with Dumbledore. Ginny, acting impulsively, dropped her bags and flew at Dumbledore, hugging him tightly. “I’m so glad the war is over,” she said, her eyes misty as she pulled away.

“We all are, Ginny,” he agreed with a smile, patting her head. “And fear not, I will do everything I can to help you with your appeal.”

She nodded and picked up her suitcases, following Draco out of the castle. It felt strange to be leaving Seandrar Castle, after all those months of living there, but the sun was shining brightly, and somehow it didn’t feel like an ending, but more of a beginning.

The Knight Bus was waiting to take them to Malfoy Manor, the Floo system had been destroyed in the war and the bus was the fastest way to travel. They carried their bags to a bed in the back, and by the time Draco had finished stashing them under the bed, Ginny had curled up on the bed and fallen fast asleep. He rolled his eyes a little bitterly and stretched out beside her, staring up at the ceiling in thought. His mother would be waiting for them at the manor, and he was wondering idly if he’d remembered to mention that.


Ginny’s mouth was hanging open and the butler was staring, but she didn’t care. She was terrified, and more than anything, she wanted to turn and run straight to The Burrow, where nothing was as frightening or as huge as Draco’s entry hall.

It was colossal. Four black, marble columns held up a cathedral ceiling, with a painting of dragons on it, dragons that flew lazily in circles, blowing the odd puff of flame. The walls, made up of glittering black quartz, shone as if no one had ever touched them. The floor was cold, gray stone, and Ginny bet she could have fit her whole house into this room. And that was just the entryway.

Draco smiled reassuringly at her and gently touched her chin, closing her mouth. “It’ll be fine,” he said in a whisper. The butler who had ushered them in was trying very politely not to stare, and failing miserably. Ginny was suddenly very aware of the clothes she had randomly picked out early that morning: a brown skirt that was rather threadbare, a blouse she had absently buttoned up wrong, and shoes that badly needed shining.

She cleared her throat, hoping Draco couldn’t see her mortification. “It’s all right,” she told him brightly. “Your house is so pretty.”

He grinned at her and then turned to the butler. “Have the house elves take our things to our rooms, would you? And I suspect Miss Weasley would like to clean up a bit as well, the bus ride was filthy.”

“Yes, sir,” the butler said with a sidelong glance at Ginny. He turned and glided away, his feet barely making a sound, to deliver Draco’s orders to the house elves.

A grand staircase dominated the far end of the room, carved out of marble with a red carpet immaculately leading the way up, and Ginny head footsteps as someone started carefully down the steps. Draco looked grim. “That will be Mother,” he told her quietly.

Mother?” Ginny hissed.

Draco shot her a pleading look and took her hand. “Trust me,” he whispered.

Narcissa Malfoy swept down the stairs, wearing a tight, scarlet dress that hugged her body down to her knees and then flared suddenly, gracefully, falling to the ground in waves. Her pale skin was flawless, her blue eyes bright, sharp, and cold, and her silvery blonde hair was swept up in an elaborate knot on the top of her head. She went first to Draco, without even glancing at Ginny, and kissed the air above his cheek. “Draco,” she cooed. “I’m so happy you’re home at last.”

“Hello, Mother. This is Virginia Weasley,” he introduced, and Ginny felt her face flush.

She curtsied. She couldn’t help herself. Narcissa studied her for a moment and then, lip curled just a little bit, she said, “This is the girl you brought home?”

“Yes, mother,” Draco said in a steely voice.

Ginny wanted the ground to open up and swallow her. She was suddenly, acutely aware of her wild red hair and every freckle on her face as Narcissa’s cold eyes ran over her skeptically. Ginny waited for an ‘I thought you had more sense that that, Draco’ but it never came. Narcissa was silent and Draco seemed to be waiting for someone else to say something. Finally Ginny said awkwardly, “I hope you don’t mind, Mrs. Malfoy, I know this must be a terrible time for you, what with your husband’s recent death and all.”

Draco flinched as Narcissa’s nostrils flared, the only indication that she was furious. “You would do well, Miss Weasley, not to mention that again,” she snapped.

Ginny’s eyes widened and she stammered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know, I…”

Draco squeezed her hand. “It’s all right, Gin,” he told her with a gentle smile. Then he turned back to his mother. “I’ll show Ginny to her room and then meet you in the solarium so we can talk,” his voice was hard, and Narcissa rolled her eyes, smirking.

“You do that,” she said, walking away gracefully.


Ginny stood hesitantly in the doorway to the room Draco had led her to. It had taken nearly ten minutes to get there from the entryway, and it was at least five times bigger than her room at home. The floor was stone, the walls were rose quartz, hung with tapestries, there was a huge hearth near the bed, which was a four-poster and surrounded in a velvet canopy. The blankets all had huge ‘M’s on them.

Her suitcases were sitting at the foot of the bed and Ginny approached them warily. They were the only familiar thing in the room, and Draco had told her she should dress up for dinner, which was in an hour.

She spent twenty minutes sorting through the mess in her suitcase, before coming to realize that she owned nothing that would qualify as ‘up’ to Narcissa Malfoy.

She finally dressed in her cleanest black skirt and an emerald shirt, and then hesitantly approached the mirror. There was a shocked gasp, and then a whispered, “You’re not serious.”

Ginny scowled at the mirror. “Really, that’s not necessary,” she snapped. “This isn’t about looking good at dinner, really. It’s about consulting Draco’s lawyers and getting the children back.”

The mirror maintained a sullen silence, and Ginny sat carefully on the bed. It was so soft that she sunk in and she scuffed her foot on the floor absently. Draco had told her not to leave the room, as there were many ‘restricted’ areas his father had enchanted to keep curious people out of. She couldn’t help feeling like a prisoner, even if her room was huge and she was sure Draco would return for her at any moment.

While she waited, she decided to try putting her hair up, something she rarely did because it never lasted. She used a few charms Hermione had taught her back at Hogwarts, and by the time she was done, her hair was anchored in place by four different holding spells. She surveyed her appearance with grim satisfaction and returned to the bed, waiting for Draco to come and fetch her.

He sent the butler, whose name was Venitio, instead, and Ginny tried not to feel hurt as she followed him through the twisting halls of Malfoy Manor.

“You will find them awaiting you in the dining room,” Venitio said regally, indicating a door at the end of a long hallway. He turned and walked away, and Ginny approached the door nervously.

They were talking about her, and she could hear them through a crack in the door. Despite herself, Ginny paused, listening. “—Really, Draco, you can’t honestly be serious about her. I mean, by all means, use her for whatever you like, but you certainly can’t love someone like that.” Narcissa sounded scandalized.

“Mother, you really have no say in the matter, and I’d appreciate it if you dropped the topic.”

“But she’s so classless,” Narcissa argued. “A red-haired little mouse. Besides, I thought you preferred—” “Oh, drop it, Mother!” Draco snapped. “I want her here, she’s here, you may as well accept it with a bit of dignity.”

“I’m just worried, Draco! She’s got no spirit, she’s weak—”

Ginny knew her face had turned scarlet, and, to stop Narcissa from going any further, she cleared her throat and made a loud show of opening the door.

Draco looked startled, and he shot his mother an angry look. “Venitio was supposed to announce you,” he told Ginny, inspecting her face and wondering just how much of that she had heard.

Ginny’s smile was bright, but it looked forced. “It’s all right, I’m sure he’s busy.”

“Do come in,” Narcissa said stiffly. She was sitting at the head of a long, oak table that was set with delicate china and silverware, a candelabrum casting a golden glow over the entire table, and Ginny stepped carefully into the room, her brittle smile not wavering.

Draco leapt to his feet and held out Ginny’s chair, across from his, and she slid into it, grateful because her legs were shaking and she was sure they would have given out on her.

“Your hair looks pretty,” he whispered in her ear as she sat down, and she smiled gratefully up at him.

Dinner was a tense affair. Narcissa watched Ginny carefully, commenting on her table manners, her looks, her family background, all of which Ginny ignored, picking at her food without much appetite. Draco watched, growing more and more furious with his mother, who ignored him whenever he snapped at her to give it up.

Desert was just being put on the table when Narcissa finally did give it up, only because she had apparently deemed Ginny no longer worth her notice. She went about pretending Ginny wasn’t there, monopolizing Draco in conversation, which Ginny really preferred. She was pushing a strawberry around on her plate, half-listening to them talk, when Narcissa suddenly turned to her again with a sharp smile. “And what do you think?”

Ginny blinked, her panicked gaze flicking to Draco. She hadn’t been paying attention, and she opened her mouth to confess that, when Narcissa continued on, voice dripping with acid. Her comment was directed at Draco. “Surely you had more sense than to bring home a stupid girl as well as a trashy, timid one, Draco.”

Draco was about to snap something in reply when Ginny stood up suddenly, her chair scraping the floor angrily. She was furious. “Honestly,” she snapped, her hands tearing at her hair, pulling the pins out. “To think I worried about making a good impression at this bloody dinner. What does it matter, nothing I ever do is going to satisfy you, so what’s the point? If you don’t want to look at me or listen to me speak, then don’t, I really don’t care, but just shut up already, because I don’t want to hear it.” She left the room, slamming the door behind her, and Draco smiled a little.

To his surprise, Narcissa was smiling as well, nibbling daintily on a strawberry. “Perhaps I judged a little hastily,” she admitted with a shrug. “Maybe she’ll be just what you need.”


Ginny’s room was dark, and Draco peered hesitantly into it. He listened carefully but it was silent, and for a moment, he worried that she had gotten lost or caught in one of his father’s security charms that Draco hadn’t had time to dismantle just yet. He’d have to before the children arrived, of course. It would not do to have them walking into any of his father’s nasty spells.

“What do you want?” Ginny asked thickly from the dark room, and Draco sighed in relief.

“I’m sorry,” he said, edging warily into the room. Ginny had been acting so unbalanced lately that he wasn’t sure if she was going to throw something at him.

“For what?” She sat up on the bed, watching him in the darkness.

“My mother.”

“I don’t like her.”

He smiled wryly, sitting on the edge of the bed. “I’d noticed. If it’s any consolation, I think she likes you.”

Ginny snorted, mumbling a quick spell that lit up the hearth. “No she doesn’t. She hates me.”

He sighed. “Ginny, I suspect my mother just wanted to see if you’d stand up for yourself.”

“Why would she care?” Ginny snapped.

“Because she never did.”

Ginny paused, inspecting Draco’s solemn face. “What do you mean?”

“She married my father because her family wanted it. You know. A connection to the Malfoys. It was an arranged marriage. Rather medieval, really,” he shrugged. “So she married him. He was, as he had always been, a spoiled prat with a temper. Whenever he’d get angry, he’d take it out on her, and she never stood up for herself, so he never stopped. Then I was born, she’d provided him with the necessary heir, and he went about ignoring her. I’d wager she liked it that way.”

Ginny looked horrified. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know,” she whispered.

He shrugged. “How could you have known? It doesn’t matter.”

“So she didn’t love him? That’s terrible.”

“Oh, she didn’t love him, but she loved me. Always used to tell me I was the best thing to come into her life.” He smiled, very slowly. “Then she fell in love.”

“With who?”

Draco’s eyes were glittering with amusement. “You have to swear never to tell. It was top secret, after all. If my father had ever found out, he would have killed her, and even now, if the upper circles found out that my mother had had an adulterous affair, they’d shun her. My father was rather a favorite among them.”

“I’ll never tell,” she swore. “Who was it?”

He leaned very close. “Professor Snape,” he whispered.

Ginny’s eyes widened painfully. “Are you serious?”

Draco was grinning. “Yeah. She and Snape met and fell in love. I helped a little. Kept their secret too, had to cover for them with Father more than once. He always thought I was protecting my own secret relationship with Snape, rather than my mother’s.” He snickered. “Stupid git.”

“But Draco… He hurt you,” Ginny whispered, remembering the time Draco had dislocated her arm up on the battlements.

Draco shrugged. “Of course he did. But nothing comes without a price, and if I had to pay for seeing my mother glowing like a school girl, dressing up, and giggling over love letters by letting my father push me around, I’d do it again, any day. Besides, Snape was more a father to me than Lucius ever was. He never found out about it, of course. My mother and Snape met when my father took us to Hogwarts for a tour the summer before my first year, and it was just… instant. They probably knew each other at school. Whenever father was away during the summers and holidays, Mum and I would go to Snape’s house, it was always the best part of my holidays.” He was grinning. “Sometimes we’d go to London on a shopping trip, and I’d go off down Knockturn Alley or something, stall my father for as long as possible, while she’d meet Severus somewhere else, in Muggle London where they wouldn’t be recognized.”

“It’s quite romantic,” Ginny said wistfully.

Draco studied her face for a moment and then shrugged. “When he died, after the battle was over, I came home as soon as I could, so I could tell her myself, before someone who didn’t understand how much it meant to her could do it.”

“Oh,” Ginny breathed, suddenly horrified. “Is that why she got so angry in the entryway, when I mentioned your father?”

He took her hand and squeezed it. “You didn’t know, it wasn’t your fault, honestly, Gin. But yes, it was. She didn’t mourn my father. She mourned Snape. It hurts her to be in mourning and to have people think it is for my father, who killed the one she mourns for.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry!”

“It’s not your fault, my mother knows that. Don’t worry, Ginny, she’s not as cold as she appears. And I must say, your dramatic exit at dinner certainly impressed her.” He was smirking.

Ginny suddenly threw herself at Draco, hugging him tightly. He was surprised, but he caught her easily and hugged her back. “We’re so lucky,” she said tearfully. “All the people who lost each other to the war, and we found each other. I don’t know if I could have lived if I had lost you. Your mother must be very brave.”

“She is,” he admitted, smiling. “You’ll like her. I know she likes you.”

“I really don’t think so,” Ginny mused. Then she shrugged. “But I’ll certainly

try to be more pleasant. I shouldn’t have gotten so mad at dinner. I’m sorry.”

He stood up, laughing. “That’s what made my mother like you. I think she was worried you didn’t have a temper and that I’d walk all over you. If she had seen you earlier today, taking your rage out on a poor suitcase, she wouldn’t have worried.” He grabbed her hand and pulled her off the bed. “I’m going to the library to research, are you coming?”

“Research what?” she asked, letting him tug her out of the room. She hated research, but the opportunity just to be close to Draco was one she wasn’t willing to pass up.

“Legal precedence,” he said. “I want to see if the ministry has any legal grounds to do this, and even if they do, the best way to appeal it. We’ll meet with the consultants tomorrow, and if we know what we’re talking about when we go in, it’ll be easier. Maybe we can find some case studies similar to this that will help.”

“You’re really devoted to this,” she said thankfully, hurrying to keep up with him.

He nodded. “No one takes something that belongs to a Malfoy. Besides, you’re the one who wanted to do this legally. Might as well do it right.”

The library turned out to be twice as big as the Hogwarts one, and twice as dark. Oh, it was well lit, with sconces on every wall and three huge hearths, as well as a few floating lanterns that anyone browsing the library could take with them. It was the books that were dark. Ginny scanned the titles as they walked past the shelves, her eyes going wider with every step. The Art Of Ruling The World And Looking Good While Doing It caught her eye, as did, World Domination; A Handbook. A few other titles, such as Who Needs To Sleep At Night If They Have Everything They’ve Ever Dreamed Of? made her shiver, while others, like The Most Attractive Generation Of Malfoys Yet: 1976 Family Reunion made her smirk.

Draco led her to a table in the center with two huge crimson armchairs at either end. There was an open book on the table called Help! My Wand Is Too Small! (And Other Things That Happen To Every Other Wizard EXCEPT You), and Draco flushed a little, flipping it shut and tossing it aside. “My father’s,” he explained. “The legal section is…” he thought for a moment, before pointing to the darkest, dustiest, obviously least used corner. “There. The illegal section, meaning books covering pretty much the same topics but how they are solved in an illegal, but much more satisfying way, is over there.” He pointed to a brightly lit, three-times as large section across the room. “You go look in the legal section, I’ll try the other.”

“I thought you said we were doing this legally?”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t see how it’s done illegally, does it? In case legally doesn’t work? And we may be able to use some of the information there as well.” He grinned. “Doesn’t hurt to check, after all.”

She rolled her eyes, grabbed a floating lantern and went in the direction he had indicated. The spines of the books were so covered with dust that she had to wipe them with her sleeve, and by the time she had searched through one shelf, she was covered in dust.

Finally, she pulled out So They’ve Taken Your Heir or When The Ministry Meddles; Guidelines To Beating Them At Their Own Game and returned to the table, absently wiping her face on her sleeve, which only made the dirt worse.

She was reading through the index when Draco returned, looking, as usual, immaculate and clean. He laughed out loud when he saw her and she scowled at him.

“Next time, I get the clean section,” she grumbled.

“Why?” he drawled in a low voice. “I like it when you’re dirty.”

Ginny’s eyes widened a tiny bit and she said, “Surely you don’t think I don’t know how sexually connotative that was? I do have a lot of older brothers, so I’m not as innocent as you seem to believe.”

“Yes,” he said solemnly. “You’re very corrupt. I can tell.”

She nodded. “Good.” She brushed some of her dirty hair off her forehead and left another smudge, but Draco didn’t comment, merely smirked a little and opened his book.

They read in silence for a long time, making notes of various cases similar to their own that it would be useful to know. Hours passed, and Ginny’s eyes were aching when she finally closed the last book she’d been studying and pushed it away. She moaned and folded her arms on the table, resting her head on them.

Draco glanced up; he was wearing reading glasses. “You can go back to your room and sleep if you like,” he offered.

“I’m not tired, I’ve just never been much for research,” she admitted. “But I don’t want to go. I want to sit here and watch you.”

He studied her face over the top of his glasses. “You want to watch me do research?”

She nodded, smiling. “I like watching you. And you look funny, with those glasses.”

“I look funny? I do not! I happen to like these! They complete the over all visual effect!”

“You wear them because they make you look more studious?” she snickered.

“They’re also charmed,” he said, smirking. “So that when you look at the page, you only see information that you’re looking for.”

She sat up quickly, eyes widening. “You’re not serious! All this time, you’ve been going through books eight times as fast as I have, because you have enchanted glasses? Why don’t I have enchanted glasses?”

“Because, we wouldn’t want you to look funny, would we?” he asked, lifting one eyebrow.

“I’ve been wandering through masses of unnecessary letters and words, so many that now my eyes are burning, while you’ve been using enchanted glasses. I can’t believe you! You didn’t even share!”

He was laughing. “Would you like some? I have more.”

She nodded eagerly and Draco pulled out his wand, summoning another pair of Enchanted Reading Glasses. He handed them to her, and she inspected them carefully, and her eyes widened when she saw the tiny brand name. “Draco, these were made by Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes!”

He was smirking again. “Surely you knew that? They were invented before the war by your brothers and Voldemort gave them to my father as a Christmas gift.”

“They’re brilliant,” she said, awestruck, as she put them on and opened the book again. Blank pages met her gaze, and she flipped through them. There was only one paragraph in the entire book that she could see, and she squealed when she did, and quickly took notes. Draco was laughing, but she paid no attention to him.

Research went a lot faster, and by the time they stopped, they had pages and pages of useful information, including quotes on Wizarding laws regarding the custody of war orphans, case studies from similar situations, and, in Draco’s case, a few law-bending spells.

“You’ll probably want a bath,” Draco was saying as he stacked all the books he’d used on the table. He pulled his glasses off. “I think we know enough, for now. It’s just a consultation tomorrow, after all. You must be tired.”

Ginny nodded a little, pulling off her own glasses. She felt disgustingly dirty, and even more waif-like than she had felt in the entryway of Malfoy Manor.

“I’ll show you to a bathroom,” he said, wrapping an arm around her shoulders, which made her feel a little better. Especially since she knew she was going to leave a huge dust smudge all over his immaculate black clothes.

They walked out of the library together, holding all their notes, and Draco led Ginny to a large bathing chamber right across the hall from his own bedroom.

“This is my personal bathing chamber,” he said importantly. “That means you can use it without fear of house elves, my mother, or any of the servants walking in on you.”

The chamber was huge, and looked as though the entire thing had been carved out of a huge chunk of obsidian. The bathtub was a sunken pool in the center of the room, already filled with steaming water, scented with a strange sort of scent that Ginny had always associated with Draco. Exotic spices and tropical breezes. There was a huge, full-length mirror that took up nearly one entire wall, and Ginny instinctively avoided stepping in front of it. Hearing disparaging comments from mirrors when she was on her own was a lot easier to handle than it would be were Draco to hear them as well.

Draco pulled a huge, fluffy black towel and handed it to her. “You can wear my robe if you want, when you’re done; it’s hanging on the back of the door. Just leave your clothes in here, the room is charmed to take them to be cleaned, and they’ll be returned to your room tomorrow. When you’re done, just come to my room, it’s right across the hall, and I’ll lead you back to your room. Don’t worry, I’ll take all the security charms off tomorrow, then give you a tour, you’ll find your way easily enough after that.” He smiled, brushed a bit of dust off her face, and then kissed her. He pulled away with a teasing grimace. “Hurry up and clean up, you taste like dirt.” Then, with a smirk, he left the room, closing the door behind him.

Ginny scowled at the closed door, and then turned to inspect the room. It was easily the largest bathroom she’d ever seen, but then, everything about Malfoy Manor seemed to be larger than it needed to be.

“You’d almost think they were overcompensating for something,” she mumbled.

There was a muffled snort from the mirror. “Oh, I assure you, they aren’t.”

Ginny threw her towel to the floor, having had too much contact with snide mirrors recently. “Was I standing in front of you, awaiting your input? No, I was not. Therefore, don’t bother giving it.”

There was a sulky silence from the mirror, and Ginny nodded in satisfaction. She pulled off her dusty clothes, folded them carefully, and left them in a stack on the floor. Her entire body was streaked with dirt.

Grabbing the towel and draping it over her head so the mirror wouldn’t be able to see her face, Ginny dashed across the room towards the tub. Unfortunately, the towel slipped over her eyes and blinded her, and Ginny didn’t see the tub right before her and, with a shriek, she fell in, the towel falling with her. She thrashed a bit, swallowing water and splashing it out onto the shiny floor, and she’d just managed to come up for air when Draco threw the door open.

“Ginny, are you all right? I heard a — Oh.”

She was peeking over the edge of the bathtub, which was really more like a small swimming pool, and Draco glanced from her eyes, nearly hidden behind a curtain of tangled wet hair, to the puddles of water all over the floor.

“Did you fall in?”

She shook her head. “No. Of course not.”

Draco nodded. “Of course. There’s another towel in the cupboard, since you’ve decided to take that one in with you.”

She glanced at the towel, floating behind her, and cleared her throat, turning back to face him. “Thanks,” she said regally, flipping her wet hair off her face. “I’ll remember that.”

He grinned and rolled his eyes, closing the door behind him as he left.

The mirror was snickering, and Ginny shot it a dark look. “This is all your fault,” she snapped, but the mirror kept laughing.

The bath was rather enjoyable, if she forgot that mortifying experience, and Ginny spent nearly an hour washing the dirt off and relaxing in the water, that never cooled.

She got out after her skin became horribly wrinkled, and wrapped herself in another huge towel, this one green. There was a low table with a dozen combs and brushes of all sorts on it, and she sat on the stool before it and combed the tangles out of her hair. When she was done, she towel-dried it and then warily took Draco’s robe off the hanger on the door.

It was black silk, too long for her, and had an embroidered ‘D’ on the lapel. She rolled her eyes a little, but pulled it on, tying it tightly. The sleeves swallowed up her hands, the hem dragged on the ground, and black was not her colour, but she still felt rather giddy to be wearing it. After all, it was Draco Malfoy’s robe.

She left the bathing chamber and knocked quietly on his bedroom door. He called for her to come in, and she stepped into his room, feeling unaccountably nervous. He was lying on his bed, still dressed, reading, and he glanced up at her, studying her consideringly. Ginny fought the urge to tie the robe tighter, and she curled her toes nervously, glad he couldn’t see because the robe was too long.

“Hi,” she said finally, after his silence began to drag on, making her even more jumpy.

He tossed his book onto the table and sat up. “Hi.” He was frowning, and Ginny suddenly worried she’d done something wrong.

“What? Are you mad? Did I do something?”

He shook his head, smiling reassuringly at her. “No, I’m not mad, it’s just strange, that’s all.”

“What is?”

“For the first time in my life, I couldn’t think of anything to say.”

“Oh.” She considered that for a moment. “And that worries you?”

He nodded. “I was trying to think of something romantic. Somehow, ‘hi’ just didn’t sound right.”

She smiled a little, closing the door softly behind her. “You’re not romantic! Sexy as all hell, I’ll give you that, but certainly not romantic. But honestly, you can’t have everything, can you?”

“Not romantic?” Draco scoffed. “I’m incredibly romantic!” As if to prove a point now, he pulled out his wand, flicking it absently. The candlelight dimmed and soft harp music, sweet and gentle, began playing, though Ginny couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Then, a few seconds later, apple blossoms started raining from the ceiling, like lacy, sweet-smelling snow.

Ginny swallowed heavily and said, “That’s a nice start, really, but roses would have been better.”

“Roses,” he said rather stiffly, “would have been heavier and not swirled so nicely as they fell. I’d like to see you do any better.”

Ginny smiled, licking her lips a little nervously and admitted, “All right, you win, it’s perfectly romantic.”

“C’mon, you think you can do better, let’s see then.”

Ginny scowled a little but pulled out her own wand, which she had carefully tucked inside Draco’s robe. She glanced around thoughtfully. The apple blossoms really were pretty, she decided, and they made the room smell so sweetly, and the lighting was certainly romantic enough. The music was perfect, so she left it all alone, instead whispering a quiet spell that transformed Draco’s robe into a long, flowing, gorgeous dress which showed a lot of leg (rather like the one she had seen on the heroine on the cover of one of her mother’s favourite romance novel), and Draco found himself in skin tight trousers and a rather frilly white shirt, which also came from that same book cover. She shrugged a little at Draco’s incredulous look.

He undid her enchantments with an easy flick of his wand, and Ginny found herself back in his bathrobe, while he was dressed as he had been before, in a black ribbed turtleneck and an oddly formal-looking pair of jeans. Black, of course.

He smiled slowly at her and drawled in a soft voice, stepping closer, “It was romantic as all hell, I’ll give you that, but certainly not sexy. But honestly, you can’t have everything, can you?”

She swallowed nervously and he came even closer, a predatory look on his face. He’s going to kiss me, Ginny thought suddenly, her heart tripping up a little at the thought. She turned her face up a little and held her breath. Soon he was close enough to touch her, and she slowly closed her eyes, waiting for him to kiss her.

He didn’t. Instead, he grabbed her left hand roughly, and rolled up the sleeves of his robe so they didn’t fall over it, and then he did the other one. Ginny’s eyes flew open and she saw his knowing smile and scowled. He dropped her right hand and turned away.

“Draco,” she called, hating the pleading tone in her voice. She grabbed his arm. “I thought you were going to kiss me.”

Apple blossoms were still drifting to the ground all around, and he turned back to her, smirking. “I thought about it,” he admitted, with a lazy shrug. “Then I remembered that the last time I tried anything with you, you laughed at me.”

She smiled a little, rolling her eyes. “I wasn’t laughing at you! I was just laughing!”

“Well, you’re honestly going to have to make it up to me,” he teased her, turning away again.

“Make it up to you?” she asked thoughtfully. “How do you expect me to do that?”

He rolled his eyes. “You could kiss me for once.”

“Oh.” She grabbed his arm again and pulled him around to face her, pressing herself against him and rising up on her tiptoes, her hands sliding around to the back of his neck, pulling him down so she could reach his lips. Her own were slightly parted when she pressed them against his, but she didn’t judge the angle correctly and ended up kissing the corner of his lips instead.

She moved to pull back but he didn’t let her, his hands coming up to cup her face, his lips sliding a little over hers until he could suck her lower lip into his mouth, nibbling it gently. She purred a little and ran her fingers through his hair, letting him kiss her. He ran his tongue along her lip and then inside her mouth, grazing her teeth, and Ginny shivered.

He pulled away a few seconds later. “Tell me the truth,” he whispered, kissing her neck.

“About what?” she asked breathlessly.

“Did you really fall in the bath?” He bit her collarbone gently.

She swallowed a whimper; her hands, still tangled in his hair, pulled him upwards so she could kiss him. She did, wildly, biting his lips and caressing his tongue with hers, the taste of him making her dizzy. Then she pulled away, kissing his neck the way he had kissed hers, flicking her tongue against his salty skin. “It was the mirror’s fault,” she said finally, reluctantly. “It wasn’t being civil.”

He frowned, his fingers grazing her shoulder blades through his silk robe. “It’s always been good to me.”

“Mirrors are always civil to you,” she grumbled, arching against him as his fingers kept stroking her back.

She was glad now that he had rolled up her sleeves, as she pushed her hands under his turtleneck and flattened them on his chest. She could feel his heart pounding and she smiled a little smugly. He wasn’t as unaffected as he liked to appear.

“You’ve got a flower in your hair,” she told him, biting his lower lip and running her fingers through his hair, a little shower of apple blossoms falling from his head.

His hands were shaking a tiny bit, though he tried to pretend they weren’t, as they slipped down to the knot that held her robe closed, and Ginny quickly grabbed his hands away. “Don’t,” she whispered.

“Why?” He looked a little sullen.

“Because,” she replied with an impish grin. “You said I was supposed to make it up to you.”

“Well, not letting me touch you hardly accomplishes that.”

“But it lets me touch you. Close your eyes.”

He reluctantly did, and she grabbed his hand, pulling him towards his bed, which was by now covered in apple blossoms. She pulled his shirt off and tossed it to the floor before pushing him until he was lying on his back on the bed, and then she climbed on top of him, straddling his waist. “Don’t move,” she told him. “And try not to scream.”

He chuckled a little, though he sounded a little nervous. “Are you trying to seduce me?”

“Is it working?”

“Have you even started yet?”

She scowled and didn’t reply, instead bent low over him, her tongue tracing the mark she’d left on his neck earlier that day. Then she slid a little lower, biting the hollow of his throat, her nails grazing his chest lightly. She picked up one of his hands, studying it for a moment before announcing, “I’m going to kiss you all over.” He didn’t say anything, and so she started with each of his fingers, kissing, sucking, and nibbling them all and then moving to his hand, tracing the lines there with the tip of her tongue. She made her way up his arms and then bit his shoulder, a little hard just to be sure he hadn’t fallen asleep. She had the most fun with his chest, following the planes and hollows of his muscles with her tongue and her nails, leaving tiny bruises there to match the one on his throat. Still, Draco didn’t make a sound and his eyes remained closed and, glancing up at him mutinously, she skipped a large portion of his torso and moved down to the waistband of his jeans. She licked his navel absently, her hands fumbling with the button on his trousers, and Draco sat up suddenly, saying rather breathlessly, Ginny was pleased to hear, “Ginny, what are you doing?”

She glared up at him. “I thought you were asleep. I was going to wake you up.”

“I don’t think anyone could have slept through what you were doing!” He sounded a little flustered, and Ginny sat back smugly.

“Then why weren’t you saying anything?”

“You told me not to scream!”

“Since when does a Malfoy follow orders?”

“I was afraid you’d stop.”

“So you liked it?”

“I’ll show you just how much,” he growled playfully, and Ginny started to laugh as he rolled her easily beneath him, the robe somehow coming off in the process. His hands on her chest cut the laughter off abruptly and she moaned. Draco then began kissing her all over, just as she had done with him, starting with her hands and working his way down, though he gave up before he got anywhere near her feet because Ginny was making the most delicious noises, and he got distracted.

He kissed her mouth and her hands again slipped to the button of his pants, and Draco pulled away a little. “We don’t have to do this,” he panted.

Ginny moaned something unintelligible and started nibbling his throat.

“Ginny,” he said desperately, pulling her hands away. “Are you sure?”

She was nodding emphatically, her eyes a little glazed, her lips swollen, and Draco swore softly before kissing her again, even as he kicked off his pants because, quite honestly, he wasn’t used to stopping even in the worst of times, and this was certainly not that.

“It’s all right,” she whispered when he hesitated. She stroked his face gently and smiled. “I love you.”

It was all he needed to hear and he kissed her gently, all hesitation driven from his mind.

It was like nothing else he had experienced before. Nothing else mattered except the places where his skin touched hers and her soft, shaky breathing. The whole world could have stopped spinning and he wouldn’t have noticed, not even if all the stars fell to the ground outside his window, because nothing existed except her. The difference between love and lust suddenly became clearer, because as he made love to her, he cared more about how she felt than how he felt, he was gentler. Afterwards, when he realized there were tears on her face, he felt a cold shock go through his belly.

“Ginny, I’m so sorry, don’t cry,” he whispered, pulling her against him.

“I’m all right,” she said, laughing tearfully. “Honestly. It’s just… is it always like that?”

“I’m sorry,” he said again, kissing her cheek, which was wet with tears. “It’s better, I swear, I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?”

“I can’t see it getting any better,” she whispered, “Because I’m having a hard enough time remembering how to breathe as it is. You didn’t hurt me, Draco, I swear. It’s just…mad. Everything went mad.”

“Are you sure? Sometimes it hurts —”

She kissed him very gently. “I promise, Draco, you didn’t hurt me. You could never hurt me. Stop being so uncertain, it isn’t like you.” She smiled at him and stroked his hair, dislodging more apple blossoms. By now, the floor was covered in a thick layer of them.

“I love you,” he told her softly, and Ginny snuggled close to his chest, his heart beat gradually slowing as she listened. Draco’s arms were around her and his legs were tangled with hers, and there wasn’t anywhere else in the entire world that she would rather be.

Around them, apple blossoms kept falling like rain and, sleepily, Ginny whispered, “Draco? Shouldn’t you turn the flowers off? We’ll be covered in them by morning.”

But he didn’t reply. He’d already fallen asleep, and Ginny sat up, studying his sleeping face in the soft candlelight. As she watched, a few flowers landed on his face and shoulders, and it was rather endearing. She rested her head back on his chest. A few flowers landed on her as well, and she smiled a little, drifting off to sleep.


Ginny was the first to wake the next morning, and when she did, it was gradual, the layers of sleep drifting away like wisps of silk.

She was covered in apple blossoms.

She giggled softly as she brushed them away, sitting up, and Draco stirred beside her, mumbling in her sleep. It was strange to see him like that, without his customary smirk, and she stroked his cheek and kissed it gently, blowing a few petals away, before crawling out of bed.

“Draco,” Ginny called. “Are you asleep?”

He moaned a little, stretching and then mumbling, “Yes.” He opened his eyes, and they were still dark with sleep. He smiled, lopsided and sweet, and stretched again.

She made her way through the flowers littering the floor, crawling into the bed beside him and kissed him thoroughly, until he was feeling quite awake. When she pulled away, he looked up at her with a sexy, satisfied smile.

Then he saw the flowers. “Oh shit.” He didn’t sound all that upset, rather amused. “Mother is going to be furious.”

“I like them,” Ginny said, picking up a few. Draco grinned at her and tucked one of the flowers behind her ear and then climbed out of the bed.

“We better go down for breakfast, Mother will be waiting. Then we’ve got to meet with the law experts.” He scowled a little. “As much as I’d like to stay here with you, we’ve still got to save the children.”

“Of course,” she said, hopping out of the bed. “If you had just told me where my room is, I’d have been long gone already.” She grinned teasingly, kissed his lips quickly, then skipped over to the mirror. It scoffed at her, and she smiled sweetly back at it. After all, what did the opinion of a bunch of mirrors matter when Draco thought she was beautiful anyway?

Narcissa was waiting in the solarium, nibbling gracefully on a piece of toast, when Draco and Ginny, holding hands, swept into the room. There was a grim, determined smile on Ginny’s face, and Narcissa studied it thoughtfully for a moment, before running her eyes over the rest of her. Her clothing certainly wasn’t any more appropriate, though she wore it with a newfound confidence, and her face looked different, somehow. Prettier and stronger. Narcissa slid her eyes to Draco and then had to restrain a smile. His hair was messier than she’d ever seen it, his eyes were glittering, and there was a very obvious hickey on his neck. Apparently, Draco and his little girlfriend had had a busy night.

She lifted one eyebrow imperially. “Malfoy Manor seems to agree with you,” she drawled, waiting to see the younger girl’s reaction.

Ginny smiled at her coolly, “It does very much, Mrs. Malfoy, thank you,” she said, nearly as regally as Narcissa had spoken. Draco smiled a little, and they sat together in the loveseat across from her.

Narcissa studied them for a few moments. Ginny’s cheeks were a little pink, as if she were very well aware that Narcissa knew what she and Draco had most likely spent most of the night doing, though she didn’t look unduly embarrassed about it. She looked rather defiant. “Tea?” Narcissa said finally, with a slight smile.

“Thank you, Mother,” Draco said politely, pouring tea for himself and Ginny.

“You have a lovely home,” Ginny told her, and Narcissa nodded once in reply. Ginny compressed her lips a little in annoyance and Narcissa’s eyes narrowed with interest. Was the mouse about to show even more spirit than she had the day before?

Ginny didn’t speak, and after a moment, Draco told her, “We intend to consult with the lawyers today, regarding the children.”

Narcissa nodded. “The appeal will be brought to trial, will it not?”

“Dumbledore told me it was likely,” Draco said with a nod.

“I will testify to your capability to be a guardian to these children, of course, Draco,” Narcissa said quickly. “It’s simply dreadful, what Fudge wants to do to those children, they’ve been through enough, just let them get on with it the normal way.”

“You’ll testify?” Ginny asked, surprised.

“Of course,” Narcissa’s voice was cool. “I’ll offer my assistance as a character witness for you as well, Miss Weasley, once I’ve determined you worthy of the privilege.”

“Trust me, Mother,” Draco said in a vaguely angry tone. “She’s very worth it, and I suspect so many people know it that your effort on her behalf will hardly be necessary. After all, the Weasleys are very highly respected by the ministry, unlike our own family name.”

Narcissa laughed, though Ginny looked a little shocked at Draco’s defense of her, and even more appalled that Narcissa had laughed.

“Draco,” Ginny scolded. “You shouldn’t speak so to your mother!”

Draco smiled at her. “It’s true and Mother knows it.”

“Lucius destroyed any sway the Malfoys had with the ministry,” Narcissa admitted with a careless shrug. “I care nothing for politics anyway. But I will be there, at the trial, and I will do what I can for you both.” She shot Ginny an appraising glance and then smiled, the warmest smile she’d smiled in months. “Draco rarely does anything in bad taste,” she said, almost gently. She could see vague insecurities in Ginny’s eyes, and had finally decided to do what she could to ease them. After all, despite her first impression, she found herself liking the girl. She had shown a temper adequate to the task of keeping Draco from turning into the insufferable prat his mother was very well aware he could be.

Ginny looked surprised and then she smiled back. “Thank you.”


The meeting went much as Draco and Ginny had expected. Their research was helpful, and the lawyers had pointed them towards different materials to review. Strategies had been discussed, and the old standby of publicly discrediting anyone stupid enough to stand up to a Malfoy had been decided on as a backup to their legal maneuvers.

As they left the lawyers, Draco said, “We don’t have to use those methods, don’t worry. I said we’d do this properly, and we will.”

“I don’t see why we shouldn’t discredit him,” Ginny sneered. “I mean, really, why is he so against just leaving the children alone?”

Draco grinned at her. “All right, we’ll do it that way, if you want. It’ll be more fun anyway. Come here,” he said suddenly, grabbing her hand and ducking into a small doorway Ginny hadn’t even noticed.

He closed the door behind them and immediately started kissing her. She pushed him away. “Draco, is this a broom closet?” she asked him incredulously.

He glanced around. “Well, that would certainly explain the vast collection of brooms now, wouldn’t it?”

“You brought me into a broom closet to snog?” She was giggling.

Draco looked insulted, though he was fighting a smile. “So?”

“You own the hugest house I’ve ever seen and yet you bring me to a broom closet.”

He didn’t reply, only kissed her again, this time more firmly so she couldn’t pull away, and with the intention to make her forget all about the brooms. It worked. She kissed him back again so wildly that he stumbled back a step, knocking three brooms over with an echoing crash, and she still didn’t seem to notice, because her hands were tearing at his shirt and she had melted into the kiss. He grinned against her lips as her hands pressed against his chest.

“You tore my shirt,” he scolded, burying his hands in her hair.

“Mmm… Did I?” she mumbled, not sounding in the least repentant. She pressed a kiss to his chest.

His hands slipped down her back and gathered her shirt, tugging it over her head, and he kissed and nibbled her neck, working his way down to her collarbone. They had both forgotten about the broom closet by this point, were both breathing heavily and moaning a little, both half-naked.

Venitio cleared his throat from the doorway. “Ah, Miss Weasley,” he said, so suddenly that Ginny jumped away from Draco with a yelp and would have tripped over one of the fallen brooms had Draco not grabbed her arm and steadied her. He looked frustrated and annoyed, and glared at the servant.

“What do you want?” he snapped.

“A broom, actually, sir,” Venitio replied stiffly. “And we have been looking for Miss Weasley for some time, as she has guests awaiting her presence in the main parlor.”

“Guests?” Ginny asked, rather nervously as she struggled to right her shirt. It had somehow gotten all twisted and she couldn’t very well pull it on when it was half-inside out. Venitio was politely averting his eyes.

“Who are they?” Draco said with a scowl.

Venitio looked vaguely amused. “A Mr. Arthur Weasley and his wife, Mrs. Molly Weasley, as well as too many red-haired offspring to count.”

“Mum and Dad?’ Ginny squealed, yanking her shirt on. Her eyes were sparkling with excitement. “They’re here?” She hadn’t seen them in months.

Draco looked alarmed. “The entire Weasley family? All of them?”

“Is that a problem?” Ginny asked stiffly, glaring at him.

“Of course not, it’s just… Honestly, how many are there?”

“I’ve got six brothers,” she said with a shrug. “Are they all here, Venitio?”

He nodded. “I believe that’s how many there are.”

She squealed again and grinned brightly. Draco rolled his eyes, but he was smiling at her, and he said, “Fine, I can tell you’d rather be in the parlor with them than in the broom closet with me, so you may as well go.”

She laughed and kissed him. “You’ll come and meet them, won’t you?”

“I’ve already met most of them,” he said with a scowl. “Meet them again then!” She glanced at his torn shirt doubtfully. “You’d best change first, they might come to the wrong conclusion if they see you like that.”

Draco looked exasperated. “Any conclusion they came to would be right and you know it,” he scoffed.

She smirked. “Just go change, would you?”

He started to leave, and then turned back, a sudden thought occurring to him. “How long do you suppose they intend to stay?”

“I don’t know, why?”

“Because they seem to have a habit of interrupting us just when things are about to get interesting,” he scowled. “And I doubt they’d be impressed if you moved all your things into my room and we never came out again.”

She laughed again and then followed Venitio out of the closet. He led her to the parlor.

The entire Weasley family was sitting on a pristine, black leather couch and Molly Weasley was lecturing Fred and George on sitting up straight. Ginny peeked into the room, a bit nervous, and she couldn’t help but grin at Fred’s bored look and George’s grin as he purposely slouched.

“Really,” Molly snapped. “George, if Narcissa Malfoy finds you sitting like that on what surely must be her prized couch, she’ll skin you alive.”

Percy, of course, was sitting with perfect posture, and he said rather condescendingly to George, “It never does to make a poor impression simply because you have not got the manners to sit up straight.”

“Gosh, Percy, if I didn’t know any better,” George drawled with a grin, “I’d say you were insulting my upbringing.”

Molly eyes flew wide and her nostrils flared. “No, no, of course not, mum, you know I wasn’t!” Percy stammered.

Bill, who Ginny hadn’t seen in a long time either, was the first to notice her standing there, and he leapt off the couch. “Gin!” he cried. “Well, you’ve certainly done well for yourself here, haven’t you?”

She laughed and ran into the room, all nervousness vanishing, and threw herself into her oldest brother’s arms. He hugged her tightly and then she was pulled away and her mother began fussing over her, petting her hair and stroking her face and smiling brightly. “Oh, Ginny, when we got to the castle and Ron told us you’d come here, we just had to come see you!” she said.

Her father hugged her was well, though he looked rather preoccupied with the rich parlor. “Never would have thought I’d ever come here on a social call,” he muttered. “I hope the Malfoys don’t mind us stopping by like this and all, but we missed you dreadfully.”

“Can you imagine,” Fred whispered to George, “All the mischief we might get up to in a place like this?”

“Remember,” Ron snapped suddenly. “Lavender told you that if you were involved in one stupid prank while we were here, she’d never snog you again.”

Fred looked crushed. “Well, if no one told her…”

“Fred,” Molly said warningly, and he finally gave up with a scowl.

“So,” Charlie said suddenly, glancing around. “Where’s Draco? I expect I need to have a talk with him.” He looked pointedly at Ginny’s neck, and a moment later, she remembered the marks that Draco had left there, and snapped a hand over them, blushing furiously.

“He’ll be here in a moment,” Ginny said, clearing her throat.

“We’ve taken rooms at the nearest town,” Molly said briskly. “We’ll be staying there for a few days at least, until this dreadful appeal —”

“The very idea is unseemly,” Narcissa drawled from the doorway. There was a short, awkward silence. “You will of course be staying at the manor.” She smiled politely as she glided into the room, shaking Molly’s hand. “Molly,” she greeted, inclining her head. Then she turned to Arthur with another slight smile. “Arthur. You and your family are of course welcome here.”

Molly was smiling rather smugly, and Ginny knew that her parents had argued about whether or not they’d be invited to stay in the manor. She rolled her eyes a little. “Thank you, Narcissa,” Molly said. “We would be delighted to stay.”

Narcissa turned to greet Arthur and then gracefully took a seat across from them, starting a gracious round of small talk, a social skill that Malfoys seemed to be born with.

Ginny sat on the loveseat by herself, pleased at least that Narcissa had greeted her family more graciously than she had greeted her, once again deciding silently that she would make Narcissa like her.

Draco appeared in the doorway, wearing a different shirt and looking as composed as ever, and Ginny beckoned him to join her. He looked nervous, though only someone who really knew him well would have been able to tell. Ginny wanted to tackle him to the floor and kiss him a thousand times for it, but she restrained herself. The idea of the esteemed Draco Malfoy being nervous about meeting her family, whom he had seen on a number of occasions, just somehow struck her as endearing.

“What of the appeal?” Draco asked, after greeting her parents politely. He sat beside Ginny, so close that their legs were pressed together.

Percy puffed his chest out importantly. “I filed it. There’s to be a hearing in a week. I suspect the reason this has become so important is because the ministry is putting off dealing with all the Death Eater prisoners, which will be a far more complicated and important matter.”

“This is important to me,” Ginny said stiffly.

“Of course it is,” Molly soothed. “And of course we’ll get the children back.”

Ginny took a deep, bracing breath, grabbed Draco’s hand, and said, “Yes. And when we do, they can live here. With me and Draco.”

“Here?” her father sputtered.

“You can’t be serious,” George gasped. “You’re going to live here? Can I come and visit?”

“Where else would she live but with me?” Draco asked softly.

There was a short silence, and then Charlie said, “Where else indeed? At home, perhaps?”

Ginny pressed her lips together very tightly and forced herself not to get angry. After all the stress of the last few days, she did not want to deal with overprotective brothers. “I want to stay here,” she said shortly. “And the ministry will more likely grant our request if we have somewhere big enough for the children to live.”

Charlie would have said something else, but Narcissa interrupted smoothly. “You will, of course, be welcome to visit your daughter as long as she remains here. My son has grown rather attached to her.”

“How attached?” Arthur nearly growled, suddenly seeming to realize that Ginny and Draco were holding hands.

Molly’s smile shook a little, but she said, “Of course you can stay here, Ginny, though you will have to come and visit as often as you can.”

“But mum! He’s a Malfoy!” Percy cried.

There was a tense silence, as both Narcissa and Draco turned to Percy with predatory amusement, as if he were a mouse they would like to play with, and Molly and Arthur stared at him in horror. Charlie and Bill both looked furious, and Fred and George were smirking. Then Ron broke the silence. “He’s also the one personally responsible for saving Harry and Ginny’s lives, and killing Voldemort, so, honestly, how does him being a Malfoy have any relevance here? And besides, personally, if Ginny wants to go and fall in love with Draco, I’m rather pleased, because I think he’s the only wizard alive besides Harry who is capable enough to help her out of some of the messes she’s always getting herself into. So, really, if that’s what being a Malfoy means, I’d think that could be taken as a compliment.”

Ginny was only slightly less shocked at his defense than Draco. Percy looked as if he had just been betrayed, Charlie was scowling, and Molly was grinning. Arthur was staring at his youngest son in frustration. Before anyone could speak, George hopped off the leather couch, grabbed Draco by the hand, pulled him to his feet, and bowed deeply. “Welcome to the family then, old boy,” he said brightly. “Simply corking to have you.”

Fred was laughing as if he never intended to stop, and Molly scolded him, even as she hugged Draco and kissed his cheek. Draco looked stunned, and a little nauseous, and Narcissa watched the entire thing with a vaguely amused smile.

The hearing for the appeal was set for a week later, and Ginny spent three days in the library at Malfoy Manor researching, before they all headed off to London, where the hearing would take place. Draco was there with her most of the time, and her brothers helped as well. Fred and George were ecstatic to find their enchanted glasses in the library, and had soon talked Draco into endorsing the product once their company was started up again.

Four days before the hearing, they took rooms at the Leaky Cauldron. After a nervous dinner their first night there, Ginny informed everyone that she was going for a walk around Diagon Alley to calm her nerves, and left quickly. It was warm so she didn’t need a cloak, and she quickly lost herself in the crowds.

It was only a moment or two before Draco appeared at her side, looking smug. “Didn’t think I’d let you sneak off to visit the children alone, did you?” he said.

Fudge had ordered the children were not allowed to have visitors of any sort until after the memory charms. Ginny scowled. “It would be easier to sneak in alone.”

“Yeah? And just how do you plan to do it? Honestly, Ginny, you’re not devious enough to plan something like this.” He was smirking. “Lucky for us, I’ve got a plan.”

“What is it?”

“Climb through the window.”

That is your brilliant plan?” she scoffed.

He looked hurt. “I didn’t know we’d be banned from seeing the children until we got to London, I haven’t had much time for plans.”

She smiled grudgingly and said, “I suppose it was better than my plan. I was going to knock on the front door and beg to be let in.”

He grinned at her and they walked together towards the safe house the children were, their shoulders brushing occasionally. It was on a quiet street branching off from Diagon Alley, called Perenni Alley, which was a small collection of flats and townhouses. The safe house was at the end of the small street, a two-story brick house covered with Wizard’s Ivy, which tended to wind around the ankles and wrists of anyone who got too close, binding them to the side of the house. It was a useful security device that made Draco’s plan of climbing in the window nearly impossible.

“Now what?” Ginny asked waspishly as they stood by the fence, studying the building as the sun set.

He was scowling. “I don’t know. But we have to get in somehow and make sure they’re all right.”

“I can’t believe Fudge banned us from seeing them. Not only us, either. He’s banned everyone. It’s mad, really.” Ginny bit her lip, her eyes narrowing and studying the house. “Is he in London?” she asked suddenly.

Draco nodded. “Mother said he arrived yesterday, as he’ll be at the hearing as well. He’s got a flat near Knockturn Alley.”

“Can we go and visit him? I’m sure he’d allow us just to visit the children.”

Draco didn’t look all that certain, but he shrugged and led her to a small building on Intern Alley, which was where all the upper class members of magical society owned small houses to stay in while in London.

“My family hasn’t got one,” Draco said, “because father thought it was positively vulgar to have more than one house, especially a house that was as small as these are.”

It was rather late for unexpected visitors, and Ginny was half afraid Fudge wouldn’t answer the door. He did, however, and she stared when she saw him. He was dressed in Muggle clothes; short, tan-coloured khaki shorts that showed of his pudgy, round legs, a white t-shirt, underneath a loud, orange and yellow unbuttoned shirt covered in obnoxious white lilies, short sleeves ending just above his elbow. They could see his bare, pale arms, pudgy and flaccid.

“Going on a trip?” Draco drawled, inspecting the minister’s apparel snidely.

“Yes,” Fudge said stiffly. “As a matter of fact, right after the orphans receive their memory treatments following the trial, I am getting away from Muggle England for a while. Going to relax in California before the important Death Eater trials begin. I was just packing now. Might you want to tell me what brings you here so late?”

“Perhaps we could come in?” Ginny countered. “We’ve just been all over Diagon Alley and I’m exhausted.” She was hoping they’d have more luck convincing him after he’d invited them in and offered them some tea. After all, her mother would never even imagine not inviting a visitor in for tea, not even in the middle of the night.

Fudge grudgingly shrugged and walked inside. They followed him into his study, where he quickly conjured up some tea and motioned for them to sit down. He took a seat behind his desk. “Now then, what can I help you with? Surely you don’t intend to go through with the hearing? I’ve scheduled the memory charms to be performed directly following that, and I’m sure you’ve realized that there is no possible way a committee appointed by the ministry would dare turn back the word of the Minister of Magic.” He chuckled and continued patronizingly, though there was a sickeningly sweet smile on his lips, “No one would think twice if you backed out now. After all, it is for the best. These poor children have been through so much already.”

“Of course we’re still going through with it,” Draco snapped. “And you honestly don’t think you’ll win, do you?”

“You got to appoint the committee, didn’t you?” Ginny asked quietly, a sinking feeling in her stomach.

Fudge beamed at her. “I did.”

“That’s hardly fair.”

“But I’m the Minister. It is my sworn duty to perform such tasks as appointing committees, surely you don’t think I’d appoint a committee that wasn’t strictly devoted to upholding justice?” Fudge looked hurt.

“You said so yourself,” Draco scowled. “What committee appointed by you would vote against you?”

“We’ll just have to work extra hard to convince them that we’re right,” Ginny said with renewed assurance. “But that really isn’t why we’re here. We were wondering if it would be possible to visit the children tonight. It’s been days, and surely they’re scared without us. We’d just like to see if they’re all right.”

Fudge drew himself up and puffed his chest out. “Certainly not. Those children have been through enough without the two of you barging in there and reminding them of the terrible sight of you slicing your own father’s hand off and then hacking him to bits. Really, the two of you are so selfish, putting your own needs before those of these poor dear children. Especially after everything they saw in that little camp of Voldemort’s, and then being left alone after Draco had fainted —”

“He did not faint,” Ginny snapped. “He was injured and exhausted from the magic Lucky had used on him.”

“Lucky? The little dark-haired one?” There was a strange glint in Fudge’s eyes. “Anyway, it is of no matter.” He got out of his chair and strutted over to the mantel. He struck a noble sort of pose then, with one arm braced against the mantel, one hand resting on top of it between one of his garish trophies and a golden harp, the other on his chest. His head was tilted back and a huge Ministry of Magic banner that he’d hung over the hearth framed him, clashing horribly with his shirt. “It is in the best interests of the children to forget everything that has happened and move on with their ordinary lives. Really, it is most unfortunate that two of the most respected wizarding families are so blind that they cannot even see when they are acting in a selfish manner. The children will not be harmed! It is for the best. Now, go on back to the Leaky Cauldron, you’d best get some rest before the hearing.” He smiled in a fatherly fashion. “I’d best finish my packing.”

“Finish your packing?” Ginny shouted, jumping from her chair. She was so furious that she couldn’t think straight any longer. “You arrogant git! You’re not going to win that hearing, and you’re not going to have the children! Imagine, planning a holiday as if this whole thing were nothing to you! It’s mad —”

“Ginny,” Draco said gently, grabbing her arm. “Calm down. It’s all right. We’ll win the appeal, we will. He doesn’t matter and he’s certainly not worth crying over.”

Ginny was suddenly aware that she was crying. Angry tears, but still tears. Fudge looked rather horrified, and Draco was stroking her arm. She took a deep breath, nodded once, and then said in a strangled sort of tone, “Of course. Let’s go. He doesn’t matter.”

Draco smiled at her, nodded coldly at Fudge, and led her out of the house.

He started swearing quietly and savagely as they made their way back to the Leaky Cauldron.

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” she asked softly. “That he got to pick the committee?”

“Yes. It shouldn’t have happened. The ministry’s probably so pleased with how he handled the situation with Voldemort that they’d let him get away with anything.”

“He didn’t do a bloody thing! I never even saw him, the whole time I was in the castle!”

Draco looked grim. “Neither did I. He cowered in the dungeons, I think. But it hardly matters. We’ve got to win this thing, Gin, we’ve just got to!”

She leaned up and kissed his cheek. “We will. Of course we will.”