Draco had just stepped out of the shower when he heard the knock on the door. “Just a moment,” he called, hastily wrapping a towel around his waist. A heavy sigh passed through his lips as he peered through the peep-hole to see who had come calling. This new visitor was not remotely as welcome as the one he’d had the night before.
“Hello Father,” he said, stepping back to give Lucius room to pass through the door, “I wasn’t expecting you until this evening.”
The elder Malfoy entered the suite, surveying Draco’s quarters with an appraising eye. His gaze lingered on the rumpled bed sheets visible through the open bedroom door. Turning his attention to his son, Lucius raised an eyebrow.
“Has your companion gone?”
Draco disliked the gleam in his father’s eye. “We are alone.”
“What a pity,” Lucius replied smoothly as he settled into a chair, “I would be interested to see who could have caught my son’s fancy. You are notoriously difficult to please, Draco. Who was she?”
Draco waved his hand dismissively. “Just a Muggle woman I picked up in the bar last night.” He was sure Lucius had a reason for this sudden interest in Draco’s sex life and he was equally certain that it did not bode well for him.
“What was her name?”
Why do you want to know, Draco wondered. He answered evenly, “It was Erin, I think. Why do you ask?”
Lucius plucked a shiny green apple from the fruit basket and took a bite. “Call it idle curiosity,” he answered with a smirk. Then, with a false air of someone just remembering a bit of information, Lucius raised a finger, “Ah, I haven’t told you what I overheard in the lobby. Quite intriguing, really.”
It seemed Lucius was finally going to get to the point of his questions. Taking a seat across from his father, Draco allowed himself to show mild interest. “Well, by all means, don’t keep me in suspense,” he said, keeping the sarcasm in his voice to a minimum.
“The Muggle at the front desk took a call while I was checking in. It appeared that a guest had left something behind and needed to retrieve it from the front desk; they were sending another person to run the errand.”
Draco looked at the older man blankly. “I expect that’s a fairly common occurrence at a hotel.”
Irritation fluttered briefly across Lucius’ face. “Quite. The interesting thing was the name of the person coming to pick up the item. Hermione Granger.” His eyes remained focused on his son’s face, gauging his reaction.
Draco’s eyebrows quirked up in surprise, he hadn’t been expecting to hear that name. “That is an interesting coincidence, Father, but you know it can’t be the mudblood. Aside from the fact that she’s gone by Hermione Weasley for the past two years, she’s still in St. Mungo’s recovering from the last battle.”
“I realize that, Draco,” Lucius snapped, “However, it does seem a rather large coincidence that someone with that name would be at this hotel during our visit.” His eyes flicked toward the bedroom, “Especially considering the other unusual events that have taken place.”
“What are you suggesting, Father?” Draco demanded angrily.
Lucius leaned forward, his eyes locked on Draco’s. “I know what day it was yesterday, Draco. Do you really think it has escaped notice that you’ve remained celibate since the Weasley girl was killed? Now, five years to the day after the death of your lover, you can’t resist a tumble with some Muggle slut? Then someone using Hermione Granger’s name is coming to the hotel we are staying in? I’d call that a very large coincidence indeed.”
Color rose into Draco’s pale cheeks. Of course he knew his actions had been scrutinized since Ginny’s deception was discovered. When questioned he’d always said he wasn’t willing to have his attention diverted from the Dark Lord’s service. The events of this weekend were certainly extraordinary when listed in combination but they were, in fact, coincidental.
“Has it occurred to you, Father, that their may be another woman called Hermione Granger in the world?” Draco asked with more calm than he felt.
Lucius sneered, “It did cross my mind, however unlikely an option it seemed. When I saw that you had been entertaining a guest though, I’ll admit I wondered at the connection.”
“So, armed with a familiar name and the knowledge that I gave some Muggle bitch a good rodgering last night, you immediately question my loyalty to the Dark Lord,” Draco seethed, “Really Father, give me some credit. If I were to turn, do you honestly think I’m thick enough to have my accomplice use such a recognizable name?”
“After the fiasco with the Weasley girl, Draco, did you expect me to think you clever?” A harsh laugh punctuated the question. “In any case, we’ll find out the truth when Ms. Granger arrives.”
Draco stood and crossed the room. “Are you planning to just loiter in the lobby until she turns up?”
“Precisely that, yes.”
“Hardly subtle, Father,” Draco chided. “Do as you like; I have no intention of participating in this ridiculous endeavor.”
Lucius rose to his feet and made a short bow. “As you choose, Draco,” he said and then quitted the room.
Over three hours later he was seated in a Queen Anne chair in the hotel lobby reading the local newspaper for what felt like the fiftieth time. He was partially hidden by a large potted plant but Lucius was beginning to wonder if the mystery woman had spotted him and fled without his noticing. Feeling stiff and bored he decided to take a turn around the lobby area and perhaps locate some fresh reading material.
He walked languidly around the perimeter of the room, pausing to look out of a large window tinted to protect the privacy of the hotel guests. Outside it was raining furiously. Each side of the street had a miniature river rushing towards the storm drains. People hurried past, shielding themselves with umbrellas, newspapers or just a hand on their brow to allow them to see where they were going.
Lucius watched as the wind whipped the umbrella out of a woman’s hand. She scurried after it as quickly as she could in her thong sandals. The umbrella came to rest against a rubbish bin and the woman bent to retrieve it, brushing away the wet strands of ginger hair that clung to her cheek. She stood and Lucius saw her face clearly for the first time; he could not contain his gasp of surprise. Whoever he might have suspected to be the mysterious woman using Hermione Granger’s name, he had not expected her.
Ginny Weasley was walking towards the hotel. She did not look exactly as he remembered her. Her face was not as plump as it had been when last he saw her. She was still slim but her hips had broadened, giving her a lovely bell-shaped figure. Despite these changes, this was undeniably the woman whose murder Lucius witnessed five years ago. Well, he corrected himself, the woman whose murder he thought he’d witnessed, for it seemed that Miss Weasley was very much alive.