Five short days later, Ginny found herself again staring at the mirror on the back of her bathroom door. She squinted sceptically at her reflection.

It’s expensive, she thought, dating Draco Malfoy. She clipped the tag off the dress she was wearing. In her opinion, it was every bit as bad as the one she’d worn last time. She had even told the saleswitch she’d wanted “classy” and “understated.” What she’d come home with was a strapless, backless, dark green, floor-length number made of a very expensive satin. It’s a bloody good thing that Malfoy brings me fancy coffee every morning or I might not deem him worth all this, she mused. She smirked at herself. That was just not true. Despite what she tried to tell herself, the blond wizard was definitely growing on her.

She turned her attention back to the problem (or problems, actually) at hand. She needed some kind of sticking charm to keep the top of the garment where it should be. Perhaps double sided spellotape would work. She began rummaging in a drawer when the wards clanged, signalling Malfoy’s arrival. She kicked the black leggings, sweater and mask she’d used the previous month under the bed. Not that he’ll be coming back here, anyway, she thought.

Ginny sighed. She wasn’t ready yet. She hadn’t found her shoes, and hadn’t finished her hair or her makeup. Guh. It was just like him to be punctual. She went to the door and yanked it open, irritated at being caught late.

A young, teary-eyed girl stood in the opening. A girl Ginny recognized immediately, and fought back panic at seeing. It was Evaline Vance, the late Emmaline Vance’s great niece.

“Miss Weasley? I just wanted to thank you,” the girl gushed, launching herself at Ginny.

Ginny flushed scarlet and patted the girl’s back awkwardly while scanning the hallway for any sign of her date.

Evaline continued her effusiveness. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

Ginny frowned and feigned confusion, gently extracting herself from the girl’s embrace. “Thank me? For what?”

“For returning a piece of my heritage. I’ve been working non-stop on the note you left with it and finally managed a tracking spell.”

Ginny mentally rolled her eyes. Had she had the flu that week at Hogwarts? Did everyone know tracking and tracing spells but her?

The girl was still talking. “…and I’m sorry, I know you must’ve wanted to remain anonymous, but I just had to know who my benefactor was so that I might thank them. I don’t even want to know who had the armour; I’m only happy that our family has it back.” She sniffled and dabbed a handkerchief at her eyes. “I won’t keep you. I see you’re getting ready for some fancy dress party. Big date, I guess?”

Ginny murmured an affirmative. “Erm, Evaline, could you just not mention this to anyone? I thought I’d cloaked the note well enough, actually.” She lowered her voice and scanned the hallway again. “My job could be at stake.”

This sent the girl into a flutter. “Oh, yes, Miss Weasley, of course. I’m so sorry; I just wanted to thank you personally. I’ll be going. Certainly. Mum’s the word. Of course. Thank you again--”

Ginny was fairly certain that she would’ve talked all day if she hadn’t closed the door in her face. She sighed and leaned her back against the door. Fine excuse for a cat burglar I am, she thought with a tinge of disgust. Malfoy deduces how I took the wretched thing down to the precise footsteps, and a witch fresh out of Hogwarts figures out my ‘anonymous’ note. She shook her head. She’d definitely have to be more careful next time, providing the Parkinsons had anything that wasn’t in its proper home.

The wards clanged again, causing Ginny to jump and let out a small cry. She jerked the door open and glared at the occupant of the entryway.

Draco stood smiling at her, with a beautiful bouquet of pink roses. He held them out to her.

“These are for you.”

She took them and smirked at him. “Thanks. I’ll just go run them through the disposal, then.”

“The what?” He shook his head. “Never mind. Excellent.”

Draco admired her retreating form, liking what this new dress did for her backside. When she returned with the flowers in a vase, he suppressed a smile. She put the arrangement down on an end table.

“Lovely dress.”

“Thanks,” she replied. “Know any sticking charms?”

He grinned. “No.”

She rolled her eyes. “Figures. You know all sorts of random spells that I don’t on any given day, but I need something specific, and you’re useless.” She shook her head. “Listen, I’m not quite, erm, done getting ready yet,” she gestured vaguely at herself. “Got to give Pansy some ammunition, you know.”

“Of course.”

She summoned tea from the kitchen. “Make yourself at home, I guess,” she said uncomfortably.

“Don’t worry. I won’t touch anything.”

She blushed. “No, no. It’s not that. That’s not even what I meant. I’m sure your home is much nicer than this, but it’s all I’ve got, so you’ll have to make do for a few moments.”

“It’s very nice,” he said sincerely.

She peered at him closely to see if he was teasing her. After a moment, she decided he must be serious. “Oh, well… oh. Okay. I’ll go finish up. I’ll only be a few minutes.”

He nodded. “Take your time.”

She left him seated on the sofa with a cup of tea and retreated to her room to work minor miracles.

Draco put the teacup down on the table and glanced in the direction that Ginny had left. If he wasn’t mistaken, and Malfoys very rarely were, he’d just been fussed over. By Ginny Weasley. He stood and smiled to himself. Perseverance. He was definitely wearing her down. Never let it be said that he gave up on something before its time.

His gaze wandered about the room, and he crossed over to give her bookshelves a closer look. He was interested in that book of Egyptian magic he’d seen here last time, but it wasn’t there anymore. He gave the room a cursory glance to see if it had been moved to a table or some other nook. He found nothing but a stack of magazines, an empty carrier bag, and the messy hall tree, complete with a dirty set of boots.

Draco frowned. He recognized the bag as being from an upscale shop that his mother had always frequented. Surely Ginny hadn’t purchased something new just for this? He knew the salary of an Auror didn’t go far, especially if you didn’t have the Malfoy trust fund to fall back on. He suddenly felt guilty and secretly pleased all at once. She had obviously wanted to look nice. For him.

“Alright, Malfoy, I’m ready.”

He turned around to look at her. She was, simply put, lovely. Her red hair fell in loose waves over her shoulders; the locks complimenting the fairness of her skin and the deep green of the dress. The dress showed a fair amount of bare skin, but the girl wearing it did not look tarty at all. Not many witches could pull off a dress like that, but Ginny Weasley did it perfectly.

She flushed pink again. “What?”

He shook his head. “Merely enjoying the view.”

“Oh. Well. Hmm. Well.” She cleared her throat. “Claws and wits sharpened, I’m ready for Parkinson.”

“Let’s not keep her waiting, then. I’m sure everyone at the ball will enjoy the catfight.”

“Amusing, I’m sure, Malfoy.”

He placed her cloak around her shoulders and drew her close to him. Her breath caught in her throat as he whispered in her ear, “You look beautiful tonight.”

She looked up at him, her face just centimetres away from his, and replied, “Thank you.”

With a soft pop, they were gone.


The Parkinsons’ ball was even more sumptuous than Nott’s, almost as if they were playing a game of one-upmanship. The food was better, the desserts more elaborate, the wizards and witches in attendance even more diverse and interesting. There were artists and aurors, apothecaries and alchemists, and there were even fabulous drinks circulated about on trays by house elves. Ginny was impressed, despite herself. Pansy wasn’t even her usual nasty self. She had greeted Ginny and Draco warmly at the door and ordered a house elf to take their cloaks. They exchanged pleasantries for a moment before their host glided off to greet more of her guests.

Ginny looked at Draco with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, Weasley?”

“Don’t go all innocent, Malfoy. It doesn’t suit you. Your face looks ridiculous.”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.”

She smiled at him as if placating a child. “Oh, alright. I’ll play along. Tell me, then, oh innocent one, why Miss Pansy Parkinson did not make even the slightest hint of an insinuation that I look like a tart in this dress?”

“Perhaps because you don’t.”

She was pleased at the compliment but pretended not to notice. “That never stopped her before. It hasn’t mattered before today. She’s very reliable. She’s been that way as long as I can remember. She throws a barb, I retaliate. That’s the way we work.” She took a step closer to him. “What have you done?”

Draco raised his hands. “Again, I feel I must protest. You seem to think I’ve done something to ruin your fun? I assure you, I have not.” He placed a finger under her chin and tipped her face up so that he could look at her. “You do look extraordinary tonight. That colour suits you.”

All at once, Ginny found herself swept up into the moment. He was terribly handsome and complimentary; he seemed to always anticipate every need she might ever have, even before she voiced it. She looked up into his grey-blue eyes that were smiling ever so slightly, looking directly at her. It was almost as if she were standing on the outside, watching herself fall for him.

He tilted her chin up slightly more and leaned closer to her. His scent enveloped her. He smelled of expensive cologne, subtly used, but underneath that she could detect an earthy, masculine scent that was unique only to him. Some primal, heretofore unacknowledged part of her responded to that and she closed the distance between their lips and kissed him. Their lips touched, a brush, really, before she pressed them against his, and then blessedly, he took over. The hand cupping her chin moved to the back of her neck, and he placed the other in the small of her back, pulling her body flush with his.

She felt dizzy and elated at the same time. One very small part of her was saying, Stop kissing your co-worker, in a very stern voice, but the rest of her was too busy screaming, What took you so long to do this, you idiot?

He pulled back, looking into her eyes and smiled slightly, silent for several seconds.

Ginny smiled back at him. “Well, I’ve finally done it.”

“Done what?” he asked.

“I’ve rendered Draco Malfoy speechless.” She smoothed down the lapel of his robes. “They said it couldn’t be done.”


She nodded and gestured vaguely. “Yes, they. You know. Them. The almighty they, whoever they are.”

“Ah,” he replied.

She sighed contentedly. “Should we wait here until you can string more than a few words together at a time?”

“Would you care to dance?”

“You know, I think that’s a wonderful idea.”

He led her to the polished parquet floor, and she couldn’t decide if the tingles she felt in the places he touched her were imagined, or very, very real.

Later that night, after some older wizards had cornered Draco to spin tales about his father, Ginny found herself alone in an alcove just off the ballroom. She exhaled slowly, and relaxed a bit for the first time that evening. Just as she was about to re-enter the ballroom, she heard Pansy talking to Malevia Morrow, one of the wizarding world’s leading authorities on magical art.

“…I don’t even know how long it’s been in the family. Here, I’ll show you.”

From where she was standing, she saw Pansy pull back a tapestry, underneath which hung a beautifully done portrait of Rowena Ravenclaw, looking decidedly ticked off.

Pansy giggled slightly at the expression on the portrait’s face. “I had to silence her. She was just so self-righteous. I won’t be talked down to in my own house by anyone, you know, let alone by oil on canvas.”

While the other witch murmured niceties, Ginny’s mind began working furiously. Her memory from the night at the Patil’s floated before her as if she were in the Pensieve, Parvati’s words whispering in her ear, “And they got the portrait, Padma’s prized possession, Ginny. She used to love talking to her.”

Ginny sank back against the wall. She knew what had to be done. Restitution had to be made. She had promised. The really tricky part in all of this was Draco. She was genuinely coming to like him. Hell, she was attracted to him, and for the first time in their relationship, she actually cared if he liked her. She knew that he, both as her partner and her friend, would be angry if he found out that she had used him as a means to an end. She frowned, putting that thought completely out of her head. He wouldn’t have to know. But, even if he did, he’d just have to understand.


Very early the next morning, the remaining members of the Patil family received a portrait-sized package in plain brown wrapping with a note that read:

In remembrance of Padma and Parvati. No thanks necessary.

The note had a strong untraceable charm firmly in place.


Draco stormed into their office a couple of days later. “Pansy’s house was hit. She just told me all about it.”

Ginny suppressed a smile at her partner’s choice of words. “Hit? You mean broken into?” She struggled to maintain a straight face. “Are you sure you haven’t been watching Muggle television?”

“No, of course not,” he replied nonchalantly. “And yes. That’s exactly what I mean.”

She schooled her features into what she hoped would pass for benignly interested. “What did they get?”

“That’s just it, he replied. It’s the same M.O. as Nott’s place last month. There was a Muggle style break-in and only one thing was taken. It has to be the same guy.”

“M.O.?” Ginny asked incredulously.

“Modus Operandi. Oh, for Merlin’s sake. Didn’t you take Latin?”

“I know what it means, Malfoy.”

“You’re missing the point completely. Pansy doesn’t want an official investigation either, but I think we should check it out.”

“Oh, absolutely.” She steadied her breathing as she watched him gather his things to Apparate to Parkinson Manor. He didn’t know. There was no way he would find out.

“Are you ready to catch a thief?” he asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she answered, forcing a smile onto her lips. “Let’s go.”


The entire time that they had been at Pansy’s investigating the crime, Ginny had her breath held, hoping beyond hope not to be discovered. Pansy hadn’t been there, but Draco had performed all the same revealing spells. This time, however, Ginny had been more prepared. While stealing the Patils’ portrait, she had cast extra concealing charms and very strong anti-tracking spells to cloak her thievery. She’d been very careful.

This frustrated Draco. He ranted about the “pureblood cat burglar”, as he’d deemed “him”, for two solid weeks after.

Sitting behind her desk, Ginny massaged her temples as she listened to her partner rehash the evidence for the tenth time that morning. “Malfoy, Pansy said she didn’t even care. It wasn’t a family heirloom, or anything. She didn’t even like that painting. Said it was cheeky, that it insulted her or something.”

He frowned and nodded. “I know. It’s not just that. It’s the pattern. Each piece was stolen after a party at the victim’s house. Do you have any idea where the next ball is to be held?”

“Yes, of course. Let me check my social register,” she said sarcastically. She ran her finger down the page of paperwork on her desk. “Uh huh. I’m due at Zabini’s for tea at four--”

“Malfoy manor. My home,” he interrupted. He slid a cream coloured envelope across the desk toward her. “I don’t want anyone breaking into my house. I’m sure that this bloke will try, and when he does, I’m going to be ready for him.”

Ginny stood and toyed with the envelope in her hands. “What do you think he’ll try to take?” she asked innocently.

He shook his head. “I don’t know. But I’m rather attached to all of the things in my home, and I don’t want to part with any of them. I think that this thief is sending a message to the purebloods. He’s just breaking in and taking something, anything, just to show he has power.”

“You think?” she ventured.

“I know. Well, we’ll see who has the power this weekend.” He looked at the piece of parchment in her hand. “Go on, open it.”

She slid her finger under the flap and unfolded the vellum inside. It was, of course, an invitation to the ball at Malfoy manor that weekend. She couldn’t suppress her delight when she read that it was a costume masque. She smiled delightedly at him, barely suppressing the happy but undignified squeak that threatened to bubble up inside her.

“So is that a yes? You’ll accompany me?”

She looked at him coyly through her lashes. “Oh, dear. I don’t know if I’ve had enough caffeine this morning to have the energy to form an answer.”

He looked at her and exhaled. “Right. I’ll be back.”

She caught his arm and turned him to face her. “I was joking, Malfoy. I’d love to go. It sounds…fun.”

He smiled. “You hesitated.”

“Well, it will take some time to wrap my head around putting “fun” and “Malfoy manor” in the same breath, but I think I can overcome.”

“Lucky me.” He sat down at his desk. “I’ll take care of the costumes, the woman making mine will only be too happy to make yours, as well.” He eyed her. “I’ll send her your measurements.”

Ginny put her hands on her hips. “And just how do you know my measurements?”

“Malfoys have all sorts of talents,” he said cryptically. “Trust me.”

“Right,” she murmured. “I might be a whole lot more trusting with a cup of coffee in front of me.”

He chuckled and sighed, rising to his feet. “Of course.”

She suppressed a grin as she watched the object of her reluctant affection cross to the door.

He turned and smiled at her before going through the door. “What have I gotten myself into?”

She glanced at the papers in front of her, pretending to look through them. “You should have thought of that before you started asking me out, Malfoy,” she said sweetly, smiling.
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