Anniversary by KateinVA
Summary: In progress. Ginny commemorates the fifth anniversary of her death and finds herself face to face with someone from her past.
Categories: Works in Progress Characters: Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley, Lucius Malfoy, Severus Snape
Compliant with: OotP and below
Era: Post-Hogwarts
Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Character Death
Series: None
Chapters: 9 Completed: No Word count: 11426 Read: 39685 Published: Dec 07, 2005 Updated: Oct 16, 2007

1. Chapter 1 by KateinVA

2. Chapter 2 by KateinVA

3. Chapter 3 by KateinVA

4. Chapter 4 by KateinVA

5. Chapter 5 by KateinVA

6. Chapter 6 by KateinVA

7. Chapter 7 by KateinVA

8. Chapter 8 by KateinVA

9. Chapter 9 by KateinVA

Chapter 1 by KateinVA
Looking intently at her reflection in the full length mirror, she tried to find some hint of the girl she once had been. Her violet eyes stared back familiarly, full of resignation and resentment. Her long black hair hung in damp clumps down her back, as it always did after she showered. Her skin was creamy, unmarked and unblemished. Her cute little nose turned up slightly at the end. No, Ginny Weasley was nowhere to be found in this mirror. It wasn’t really a surprise; Ginny Weasley didn’t exist anymore.

Drying her hair, she pulled it back and clipped it into an ornate silver barrette at the top of her neck. She dressed carefully, pulling on a form-fitting halter dress that fell just above the knee and tying it behind her neck. The dress was a lovely emerald green with a slim silver belt around the middle. Next were the strappy silver sandals. A few silver bangles and a pair of silver hoop earrings completed the outfit. She was ready to go.

She grabbed her overnight bag and her purse and set off for the city. This would be the first time she’d stayed in a hotel there, but she intended to get very, very drunk, and driving home again would not be an option. It wasn’t often that she drank. It was rare that she got dressed up, rarer still that she went into Washington at all. This was a special occasion, though. After all, it was on this day, five years ago, that she had died.

The hour and a half drive was uneventful. She wound through the semi-rural area she lived in and then followed the busy highways that took her to her destination. Navigating around the city was a little more difficult, but ultimately she made it to the hotel.

“I have a reservation for Erin McIntyre,” she told the front desk clerk.

“You’ve been compromised, Miss Weasley.”

Snape’s face was impassive as he spoke to her, but Ginny knew him well enough now to see the concern in his eyes.

“They do not yet suspect Mr. Malfoy. They believe you took up with him to gain intelligence for the Order. Naturally, this situation is very grave.”

Ginny closed her eyes and took a deep breath. This had always been a possibility, but somehow she’d never believed it could happen. Subconsciously, she had thought her purpose and her youth made her invulnerable. At least Draco was still safe, for now.

“What happens now?” she asked, hoping her voice would not reflect the terror she felt building inside her.

Her former teacher bowed his head and sighed wearily. A moment later he raised his head and looked at her once more. “Now they will kill you,” he said matter-of-factly. “Your death is a high priority for the Dark Lord and his servants. To keep suspicion away from him, Mr. Malfoy has been forced to vehemently call for your immediate execution.”

Ginny nodded. Of course he had to; Draco would already lose standing for having brought a traitor into their midst. He couldn’t show any sympathy for her without raising questions about his own loyalty.

“Do my parents know?” Guilt for what she was about to put them through made her heart ache.

Snape shook his head. “Very few people have been alerted. We cannot take the chance that someone might try to rescue you.”

“When are you taking me back?” Tears were spilling from her eyes. Her face was tight, her resolve to keep from sobbing hysterically weakening by the second.

Snape stood and walked to the door of the meeting room. Ginny knew he was trying not to intrude on her grief. “I will go prepare for our departure and return for you in five minutes. We dare not wait longer than that.” With a quick swish of his robe, he had left the room.

Ginny tried to rise from the table, but her feet would not support her. Crumpled in a heap on the floor, she wailed with regret for the life she had to leave. The faces of all the people she loved flashed through her mind. She couldn’t even say goodbye to them.

Her mother, who welcomed all her children’s friends with open arms and cared for them as if they were her own.

Her father, who’d never lost his child-like sense of wonder in spite of the horror he had seen.

Her brothers, each so different, but all of them with a deep sense of responsibility for their baby sister.

Harry and Hermione, as much a part of Ginny’s family as her true siblings.

The members of the Order of the Phoenix all had different roles, responsibilities and personalities, but all of them were united against Voldemort. None would hesitate to sacrifice themselves for the cause.

And Draco, poor Draco, whose lifelong beliefs had been crushed after his father’s arrest. Who learned about true love and loyalty slowly, but who finally shared his whole heart with her. Ginny knew he loved her; she knew that losing her would violently test his newfound faith. There was nothing she could do to help him; she could only hope that he would trust in her love enough to let it pull him through the darkness.

By the time Snape came back for her, Ginny had managed to pick herself off of the floor. She looked at him with bloodshot eyes and smiled grimly. “Let’s get this over with.”
Chapter 2 by KateinVA
Ginny stood before the Dark Lord alongside Snape and Antonin Dolohov. Death Eaters formed a circle around them to prevent any attempts at escaping. Draco was among them, but she did not look at him. She did not want to see his forced hatred and would not risk letting him see her emotions.

“I am most pleased, Severus,” Voldemort said. “You and Antonin have caught the spy much faster than I had expected. You have done well.”

Snape bowed. “Thank you, my Lord. Fortunately, word of her exposure had not reached the Order of the Phoenix. The traitor did not know she was in danger and so did not bother to evade us.”

Turning his attention to the young woman before him, Voldemort’s voice was as cold as steel. “You are a fool, girl. Did you really believe we would not find out you were working for Dumbledore’s Order?” She did not respond. Turning his head swiftly, the Dark Lord ordered, “Draco, show your lover what is done with spies.”

Ginny looked up and saw Draco step forward and raise his wand. His gray eyes were narrowed in fury and his voice was hard. “Crucio!” he called. A blood-curdling scream sliced the air as the ginger haired girl thrashed about in agony.

“Would you like to dance?”

Erin looked up from her drink to find a nice looking man of about thirty gazing down at her.

“No, thank you. I don’t feel much like dancing tonight.”

The man nodded and walked away.

Glancing at her watch, Erin realized she had been sitting at her little table for two in the hotel’s trendy nightclub for over an hour and she was still nursing the same cocktail. If she was going to fulfill her mission to get mind-numbingly drunk, she would have to get busy. She raised her hand to summon the waitress and drained the last bit of liquid in her glass.

After lifting the spell, Draco stepped back to his place in the circle. Voldemort eyed him suspiciously.

“Don’t you wish to finish her, young Malfoy? You have been quite vocal about her fate; I thought you would feel honored to have the chance to take her life after she betrayed you.”

Ginny’s heart pounded. Do it, Draco, she thought. Don’t give them reason to suspect you. Just do it!

Draco’s lip curled and he looked at the girl that still sprawled on the cold stone floor. “Get up and accept your punishment,” he spat. “Where is your Gryffindor bravery now?”

As the girl climbed unsteadily to her feet, Draco turned again to Voldemort. “Her betrayal of me was nothing. I cannot accept such an honor when it was I that brought a spy into our midst. The honor of killing her should be yours, my Lord. The forgiveness you have already given is more than I deserve.”

“Very well, Draco.” Pointing his wand at her chest, the Dark Lord uttered the Killing Curse. Her body fell to the ground and it was done. Ginny Weasley was dead.
Chapter 3 by KateinVA
Erin studied the crowd. Couples were dancing with abandon to the loud pulsing music that pumped through the speakers. Men on the pull were chatting up the women seated at the bar. A large group of twenty-somethings occupied a corner table. Their laughter carried across the room as they shared raunchy stories, tasteless jokes and obvious innuendos for activities still to come. Nearby an older businessman sat, no doubt hoping to find pleasurable company in the form of a nubile young woman. Decadent self-indulgence.

In the early days, Erin did not socialize. It was not necessary for her to work; her benefactor supplied her with enough money to live on. She spent her days alone in the tiny house she stayed in. Stayed in. In those days that was how she thought of it. She did not live there. There was no point in making the house a home. No point in starting a life in the strange town…country…body in which she now found herself. These things were only temporary. In the beginning, she waited for the end.

By the end of the first year it was becoming heartbreakingly clear that although her situation was not permanent that didn’t mean it would end soon. She was lonely. Snape owled her every six months or so just to keep her apprised of the war that had killed her. No end was in sight. Ginny Weasley’s family was still intact. Draco was still embedded in Voldemort’s inner circle. Snape would not tell her specifics of Draco’s assignments nor would he tell her anything of Draco’s personal life. He had come to see her a few times. During Snape’s first visit Erin begged him to tell her more of Draco’s well being. He responded, “It will serve no purpose for me to tell you more than I have. If I say he is doing well, it will cause you additional pain. If I say he still pines for his lost love, it will only increase your feelings of guilt. There is nothing you can do to hasten the end of the war. It is time for you to make the best of the life you have and let the future take care of itself.”

So Erin McIntyre introduced herself to the world. She got a job working as a sales clerk for a ladies’ clothing store at a nearby shopping mall. Slowly, she made friends. She went to movies with them, to restaurants. She laughed with them. She invited them into her home. Her home.

The guilt she felt the first time she said those words had taken her breath away. It was all so familiar to her now. The town…country…body that had been so strange now felt comfortable…real…permanent. This was her life and it did not include Draco. It felt like the worst kind of betrayal. Erin knew it was for the best. Somehow that was not comforting.

Over the years the feelings of guilt and loss lost their sting and faded into resignation and dull resentment. Some days she wondered if she would be able to handle the loss of the life she had made. Some days she wondered if it would be better for the people she left behind if Ginny Weasley stayed dead. There were even moments that she forgot about Ginny Weasley and the life she had known.

On the fifth anniversary of Ginny Weasley’s death, she wondered whether the chance at resurrection would ever even come.

The discreet clearing of a throat made her look up. The handsome man had returned. His cheeks were now tinged with pink from dancing and alcohol.

“Won’t you let me coax you out onto the dance floor?” he asked, flashing her a brilliant smile. “It seems a waste not to show off that pretty dress.”

With a forced smile and a dagger-like glare she again rebuffed the man’s offer, hoping he would take the hint this time.

He didn’t.

Laying his hand on Erin’s shoulder, he spoke seductively.

“Come on, baby. You didn’t dress up to spend the evening alone. Let me buy you a drink. Then maybe we can get to know each other up in my room.”

Erin opened her mouth to tell him just where he could stick his drink but someone else spoke first.

“The lady already told you she wasn’t interested in your company, mate. I think you ought to move along now,” came a smooth English drawl.

Erin took inhaled sharply and her eyes fluttered shut, savoring the voice like a rich dessert. It couldn’t be, her mind insisted, not here in Washington. Her heart knew better.

She felt the hand leave her shoulder and heard the handsome man turn to face the intruder.

“I don’t see what business it is of yours, mate. Now piss off before I kick your ass.”

‘Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus’, Erin thought as she listened to the ensuing scuffle. A tiny smile played across her lips as the handsome man pleaded for his attacker to please just let him leave.

Opening her eyes, Erin looked up to confirm what her heart already knew. Draco stood next to her table, watching to ensure the handsome man really did leave. Her eyes feasted on him, examining every minute detail. His white blond hair was short and recently cut. He was thinner and his face had a hardness that it hadn’t known when she last saw him. His ever-alert gray eyes still held the intelligence and determination she remembered although their sparkle had dimmed somewhat. Despite his war-worn appearance, Erin’s heart soared with delight at the sight of him. When he turned back to her, her eyes were brimming with tears of joy.

“Are you alright, miss?” he asked.
Chapter 4 by KateinVA
She saw his lips moving but his familiar silver eyes held her immobile. She simply stared into their stormy abyss as though she had been struck dumb. Irrationally, she feared that if she broke the connection, Draco would disappear. As long as she had waited for this reunion, she would not jeopardize it on something as trivial as being rational.

“Miss,” Draco started again, “are you all right now?”

Miss? Since when did he call her Miss? Ginny, sure. Weaslette, from time to time. Maybe even Ginevra if she was being especially irritating. But never Miss. He was her Dragon, not some house elf. Why wouldn’t he call her by name? What was he playing at?

She realized belatedly that he was expecting a response of some kind. Slowly she nodded her head, being careful not to lose eye contact.

“Good. Enjoy the rest of your evening.” With a polite bow he turned on his heel and began walking away.

Enjoy the rest of her evening? Where was he going? Was this some kind of joke?

She lifted her arm to stop him and suddenly she remembered. Her arm still hung in the air, its pristine alabaster skin glowing back at her. Not a single freckle marred its hateful beauty. How could she have let herself forget, even for a moment? The hair falling softly down her back was not the color of a blazing sunset; it was jet black. The violet eyes that followed Draco’s retreating form did not belong to Ginny Weasley. They belonged to Erin McIntyre.

Draco didn’t know her. The girl he loved was not sitting at this table in a hotel bar. She was dead.

The revelation tore through her like a knife. With every step he took away from her, her heart ripped a little more. What kind of cruel bitch was Fate to play these sick games with her? It wasn’t bad enough that she had to watch him walk away once? Now she had to do it again?

Every eye was on Draco as the Dark Lord murdered his lover. He watched impassively as the girl’s body hit the floor with a muffled thump.

“I trust you will be more careful the next time you desire a whore,” Voldemort said coldly.

Draco was the very picture of contrition. “Yes, My Lord. Forgive me.”

“You would not be alive if I had not forgiven you, young Malfoy. Now, this,” he kicked the lifeless form at his feet, “should be returned to the Weasleys. We wouldn’t want them to worry needlessly. I shall entrust that task to you, Draco.”

Ginny struggled to remain composed as Draco thanked the Dark Lord for his mercy. Picking up the body, he left to deliver Mrs. Weasley’s worst fear right to her doorstep. Ginny watched him go, not knowing when or even if she would see him again.

She could not watch him leave again.


Erin rushed after him, grabbing his arm. He looked down at her, his expression questioning.

Frantically, she tried to think of something to say to him, some way to make him stay with her.

“Yes?” he asked as he subtly pulled his arm from her grasp.

“I just…”

Just what, she wondered. I just wanted to tell you that I’m your dead girlfriend? That wouldn’t work. I just couldn’t bear to see you turn away from me because I love you? That was guaranteed to send him running.

“I just wanted to thank you for coming to my rescue. It was very kind of you to help me out.” Oh God, how lame was that, Erin thought.

He smiled. Oh, how she’d missed that smile! “It was nothing. I just thought you might need someone to persuade him to take no for an answer.”

She gestured towards her table. “Would you join me? I ought to at least buy you a drink after all you’ve done.”

Shaking his head, Draco looked down at the floor. “I’m afraid I wouldn’t be very good company tonight and I couldn’t ask a lady pay for my drink.”

“All right, no drink buying,” Erin cajoled, placing her hand on his forearm, “but please join me. It would save me from being propositioned all night. We don’t have to talk; I would just appreciate your company.”

Draco looked distractedly around the bar, obviously trying to think of some way to get out of this. Apparently finding none, he nodded in agreement and guided her back to her table. After she was seated, he signaled the waitress and ordered a fresh cocktail for Erin and a martini for himself.

“Thank you for joining me. I’m Erin McIntyre.” She said, offering her hand. As she knew he would, Draco took it and pressed it softly to his lips. This was one of her favorite hallmarks of his high society upbringing. She forced her breathing to remain steady as her pulse quickened under his touch.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Erin. My name is Draco Malfoy.” He released her hand and took a sip of the drink that had just arrived.

Erin smiled, “I’m glad to know you, Draco.”

They sat in awkward silence for a few minutes. Erin noticed when he finished his martini and worried that he might decide it was time to leave. She breathed a sigh of relief when he ordered another. She was in no hurry to finish her own drink. Her original plan to get rip-roaring drunk had been discarded. She didn’t want anything to cloud her thoughts. Being this close to Draco after so long was intoxicating enough.

Now that she was with him though, she had no idea what to do. Should she reveal herself to him? The urge to tell him the truth about what had happened was incredibly strong. Logically she knew she shouldn’t, it was safer for him to remain in the dark, but who could be logical in this situation?

“That’s a beautiful dress. Green and silver were my school colors.”

Draco’s voice jolted her from her thoughts.

“Thanks,” she replied, “They were my boyfriend’s favorite colors.”

“He prefers other colors now?”

Erin laughed, “No, I’m sure he still likes green and silver. I meant that we’re not…”

“I know what you meant. I was joking. Is that why you’re here tonight? Mourning the end of your relationship?” Draco spoke softly, a sad smile playing on his mouth.

“I guess you could say that. I still hope we’ll find our way back to one another someday.” This was dangerous territory; Erin decided to change the direction of the conversation. "What about you? You don’t sound like a local, what brings you to Washington?”

“I’m here on a shopping excursion.”

“Shopping?” Erin raised her eyebrows in disbelief. Draco left the fight against Voldemort to go shopping?

“My organization needed some items that are difficult to come by in Britain.”

“I see. So you’re not just here for the collectible shot glasses?”

Draco became very serious, “Oh no. The shot glasses are a bonus.”

Erin nodded.

Curled against her fair-haired lover, Ginny did not dwell on the war that raged outside the walls of her flat. It was because of the war that these quiet, content moments were rare. Whenever she and Draco found an opportunity to be truly alone they refused to let thoughts of the external world intrude upon them. Rather they immersed themselves in each other. The relationship they paraded in front of Death Eaters was but a pale shadow of the real intimacy they shared in these private moments.

Ginny lifted her left hand and admired the ring Draco had placed on it less than two hours before. It was perfect, a simple diamond solitaire set in 24 ct. gold with a baguette on each side. The diamond was only one carat although Draco could certainly have afforded a larger stone. He understood Ginny’s personality well enough to know that she would not have wanted a large showy diamond. What she liked best though was the fact of it. Draco wanted her. He wanted her forever.

“It looks good on you,” Draco commented. Taking her hand in his he lowered it to his mouth and kissed it softly. He was thoughtful for a moment. “What do you think about taking a round-the-world cruise for our honeymoon?”

“Mmmm, that sounds lovely. I’ve always wanted to travel. My family went to Egypt to visit Bill several years ago but that was the only real vacation we ever took. A cruise would be wonderful. We could visit all kinds of beautiful places, meet interesting people and collect shot glasses.”

Draco turned towards her, bemused. “Shot glasses?” he asked.

Ginny giggled, reaching up to stroke his hair. “Yes, Dragon, shot glasses. When Bill first started working for Gringotts he had to travel quite a bit. I was young when Bill left home and I was very upset that he was going away. To make me feel better he promised to send me presents from each place he went. He wasn’t making a lot of money so he started sending me shot glasses because they were cheap. It drove my mum crazy but I loved them. Anything Bill sent me was a treasure as far as I was concerned. I’ve had an attachment to them ever since. I know it’s cheesy but I don’t care.”

“That’s very sweet but I’ll admit shot glasses were not a big part of my plans,” he said, rolling Ginny onto her back and nudging her legs apart to accommodate him.

“No?” she asked lightly, allowing him to settle on top of her. “What did you have in mind?”

Draco ran his tongue over her pulse point, eliciting a small gasp from his partner. “I thought it would be fun to see how many different countries we could make love in.”

Her heart rate rising due to the kisses Draco was now trailing down her neck, Ginny’s voice was unsteady, “Yes, I can see the merit in that plan, too.”

“What about your shot glasses?” he asked between kisses. He moved lower, taking her breast in his mouth. Ginny tangled her fingers in his hair as she arched against him.

“Bonus,” she cried.

As Draco nursed his drink they talked for some time about inconsequential things. What type of work did she do? Would he do any sightseeing while he’s in town? He ordered another martini and asked what had caused her split with her boyfriend.

Erin shrugged. “Oh, forces beyond our control and all that. I had to move quite suddenly. I wasn’t able to explain to him why I left.”

He straightened in his seat. “So you just left without even telling him?”

“I had to, there was no other choice at the time.”

“Were you in the mafia or something?” he teased.

Thinking how strange it was to hear Draco talking about the mafia, Erin laughed. “No, not the mafia but you’re pretty close. We were involved with some unsavory characters.”

“Unsavory characters, eh? Those bastards are everywhere.” Draco shook his head sadly, “Poor sap. Must have driven him mad. I suppose I have a slight advantage over him, at least I know what happened to my Ginny.”

“Ginny?” she asked with interest. Draco was a private person. It surprised her that he would bring this topic up to a stranger. Perhaps the alcohol was loosening his tongue.

Studying his glass intently, he took a deep breath. He spoke without looking at her.

“My fiancée once upon a time,” he answered grimly, “She was murdered five years ago by a particularly unsavory character. Lucky me, I got to watch her die and then deliver her body to her family.”

She covered one of his hands with her own as tears welled in her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Draco,” she replied in sincere apology for the pain she had been forced to inflict on him.

“Thank you,” he replied, “but if you’ll allow me to offer a little advice, don’t spend too much time regretting the past. For five years I’ve mourned the loss of my beautiful Ginny. Recently her brother, who has never been a friend of mine, came to me and told me that I was no good to anyone while I wallowed in self-pity. He said Ginny would be ashamed of the way I had withdrawn from life. He was right. I’ll always love her but she’s gone. It’s past time for me to get on with my life. I’d advise you to stop waiting for a reconciliation that may never come. Your hopes are pinned on the possibility that the man you left has not moved on with his life. Is that what you want for him? That he close himself off from the world on the chance you’ll arrive on his doorstep one day?”

Erin jerked as though she had been slapped. While she had never been so specific, that was exactly what she had been hoping – that one day the war would end and Draco would be waiting for her with open arms. Now he was here, right in front of her, saying that he wanted – needed – to go on with his life. She couldn’t begrudge him that desire, he believed she was dead. There was no way to know how much longer the war would drag on. No way to predict when she might be able to return to her old life, if she would ever be able to.

Her mind raced. What if the war ended and Draco had found someone else? Could she bear to see him in love with another woman? She knew Draco, he would hate himself for having ‘abandonned’ her if Ginny returned and he had made a life without her. She couldn’t do that to him.

A tear rolled down her cheek as she realized there was only one solution. She could never go back. “You’re right,” she said, “I have to let him go.”

Draco pulled his hand from hers and ran it through his hair. Lost in his own thoughts, he stared blankly out at the crowd. The interior lights had dimmed as the evening progressed. A sad sort of love song began to play and couples came forward to sway slowly in time with the music. Draco turned back to Erin.

“You have enough melancholy thoughts to dwell on without me adding my own. I think I had better go,” he said. He pulled out his wallet and pulled out a large bill. “That should cover the drinks. Thank you for allowing me to join you.”

Erin rose with him from the table. This would be the last time she ever saw him, she needed to feel his arms around her once more.

“Draco,” she began, “would you dance with me before you go, please?”

He smiled indulgently and offered his arm, leading her to the dance floor. As they danced she leaned her head against his chest and rained silent tears into his jacket. Draco smoothed her hair to comfort her as they maneuvered through the other dancers.

As the music began to wane Erin impulsively wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. He pulled back abruptly and looked down at her in surprise. Embarrassed and dejected, she started to turn away when suddenly he grabbed her and pulled her roughly against him. He kissed her hungrily, ardently pressing his tongue into her mouth. With equal fervor Erin met his advances, reveling in the taste of him. When they finally broke apart, breathless, Draco took her hand.

“Will you come to my room?” he asked in a husky voice, kissing each of her fingers in turn. At her nod of acquiescence he guided her swiftly from the bar to his suite.
Chapter 5 by KateinVA
“Tenth floor,” Draco hurriedly told the elevator attendant. Having given that directive, he backed Erin into the corner and recommenced his assault on her mouth. His hands cupped her face as his lips moved over hers. Begging admittance, his tongue danced along the seam of her closed mouth. Erin welcomed the invasion and lifted herself on tiptoe as the kiss deepened, encircling his neck with her arms.

Draco drew his hands from her face. One reached up to tangle in her hair. The other made its way slowly down her neck and chest, finally reaching her breast and scraping delicately across her nipple. Erin gasped at the electrical charge his touch produced.

They were being shockingly indiscreet and she had a terrible urge to laugh aloud at the impropriety of it all. Draco had always prided himself on his discretion, it was a trait taught early and preached often in the Malfoy household. Ironically, it was that same discretion that enabled Draco be a successful Death Eater informant. Smirking, Erin wondered what Lucius would say if he saw his son snogging a ‘Muggle’ in public. She leaned in to kiss Draco again, grateful that he had renounced his father’s prejudices.

“Tenth floor, sir,” the attendant announced, his eyes studiously avoiding the amorous couple.

Draco extracted himself from Erin’s embrace, thanked the elevator operator and slipped him a generous tip. Placing a warm hand in the small of her back, Draco directed her out of the elevator. As the elevator doors closed, he took her in his arms and lifted her off her feet. Erin moaned as his lips moved over her mouth and neck as he carried her down the hall to his hotel room. He set her down lightly when they reached the door but did not release her, pressing seductively against her body as he continued to taste her. Blindly he groped for the key card slot until he was rewarded with an affirmative beep and the sound of the door unlocking. Erin felt her feet leave the ground once more and found herself being carried into the suite.

His hotel room was larger and more extravagant than any Erin had ever stayed in. They entered a spacious sitting room with quality furniture and a large screen television. To the right was a kitchenette and to the left a full size bathroom. On the cocktail table sat a basket filled with fresh fruit and chocolate.

Erin didn’t notice any of these things; she was too busy trying to undress Draco without losing contact with his lips. The moment the door had clicked closed he placed her back on her feet and began to unfasten the slim silver belt she was wearing and work the knotted halter tie. Erin tugged the starched white shirt out of Draco’s waistband, her fingers working feverishly to unbutton the garment. Steadily he marched her backwards towards the bedroom, both nearly tripping when the lovely green dress slid to the floor. His shirt was next to go and Erin redirected her hands to remove his slacks. Draco kicked off his shoes and socks as his trousers fell to the floor in a heap.

They had reached the inner sanctum. Erin moved to sit on the bed but was halted by Draco’s hoarse voice telling her to wait. For a moment they gazed at one another, the desire between them so thick it was nearly tangible. Carefully Draco removed her hoop earrings and her watch and set them on the bedside table. Taking a step closer, he reached behind her head to free her long hair from the barrette the restrained it and Erin recalled a conversation from long ago in which Draco had expressed his carnal satisfaction in seeing his lover’s wild and untamed hair spread across the pillow. He placed the barrette next to the earrings then stopped to admire her. Erin’s skin tingled as he studied her intently, the lust in his eyes clearly visible. Returning to the task of undressing her, Draco unclasped the strapless bra she wore and dropped it to the floor. He cupped one of her plump breasts in his hand, enjoying is weight as he grazed his thumb over the nipple. A trail of kisses began at Erin’s throat and continued down her body until Draco reached her lacy panties. She inhaled sharply as he removed them, Draco’s touch feather soft on her skin. Upon reaching her feet, Draco took her hand and placed it on his shoulder for support while he removed her sandals with exquisite care. Erin was completely nude before him when he stood again.

“You’re beautiful, Erin,” he said, taking her hand, “I can’t deny that I want you very much. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt such a powerful attraction to anyone.”

He paused to organize his thoughts. Looking her straight in the eye, he continued, “Are you absolutely certain you want to do this? One night’s company is all I can offer you. We are both struggling to put away our pasts and I don’t want to cause you more pain.”

Erin looked at him seriously. She knew he was sincere; this was not some attempt to win her over with false sensitivity and secure her as a bedmate. His declaration both pleased and pained her. The goodness and honor that caused him to make his intentions clear before she did something she might regret made her proud. It showed that despite the losses he suffered in the war he was still a good man, still the man she loved. That such a declaration was necessary made her heart break all over again. For her, this would be that last time she could ever make love to the man that held her heart. For him, it would be a night of affectionate, but ultimately loveless, sex.

“Draco,” she began, “I appreciate your concern for my feelings but I know the rules of the game we’re playing. I have no hope of a relationship with you. As you’ve said, we are both coming to grips with our losses. I won’t regret taking comfort in your arms.” He did not resist when she pulled him to the bed.

They made love slowly and passionately, exploring each other’s bodies with rapt attention. He didn’t know that every moan of pleasure he drew from her caused an equally powerful sense of loss within her heart. Once or twice a tear escaped Erin’s eye and Draco kissed it away with sweet compassion. Erin didn’t know that, even after five years, being with another woman felt like a betrayal of Ginny and Draco’s comfort of her did as much to ease his own guilt as to relieve her suffering.

Much later they lay holding each other. Draco stroked her back and littered her hair with soft kisses. Sated and happy in his embrace, Erin wished that she could remain this way forever. That was impossible though and she contented herself with the indulgence of a few hours sleep surrounded by his warmth and his scent.

She awoke just as the sun began to peek over the horizon. Rich red and orange rays come in through the window. Draco was asleep beside her; the hardness she had noted in his face the night before was not present while he dreamed. He looked just as he had the last time she shared his bed. A loving smile lit up her face and she took comfort in the knowledge that the war had not changed everything.

Reluctantly pulling away from her lover, Erin collected her discarded clothing and got dressed. She watched Draco’s steady breathing, working up the courage to walk away from him forever. It was much harder this time. The first time things had happened so fast she didn’t really have time to absorb them until later. And, of course, there had been the hope that they would be together again soon. Tears ran down her cheeks and she brushed them angrily away. This was for the best. Draco deserved to start again and it was time to let him go. There was no use standing here feeling sorry for herself.

The sun shined on her back as she leaned over his sleeping form. Her shadow covered him, leaving his face in darkness. She brushed the hair out of his face gently so as not to wake him up.

“I love you, Dragon,” she said quietly, “I’ll always love you.”

Her mouth brushed his soft lips for the last time and walked from the suite without looking back. In a matter of minutes, Erin was on her way home.

He laid relaxed and comfortable in his bed when she came to him. The figure stood over him, her hair shining with a luminescent orange glow. He could not see her face but when she spoke he knew her.

“I love you, Dragon,” the woman said, “I’ll always love you.”

Oh yes, he knew her.

Draco shot up in bed, his eyes wide and searching.

Chapter 6 by KateinVA

Draco looked at the place his companion had been sleeping but the woman he spent the night with was no longer lying beside him. A cursory scan of the suite left little doubt that he was alone. The door to the bathroom was open and no noise came from inside. The clothes strewn across the floor all belonged to Draco. The beautiful woman he’d made love to was gone. Falling back onto his pillow heavily, Draco breathed a sigh of relief. Waking up with a woman he scarcely knew would have been awkward enough; waking up with a woman he scarcely knew after calling out for his dead fiancé would have been ten times worse.

It had been over a year since Draco dreamed of Ginny. He thought he was finished with that sort of thing; that he’d gotten past it. He thought he was ready to put her memory away and move on. Maybe he was. Maybe the dream was a reasonable reaction to having been with a woman for the first time since losing Ginny. Draco rubbed his eyes wearily. Maybe he didn’t want to think about that right now. Rolling out of bed, he started towards the bathroom to shower.

Miles away, Erin sped down the highway feeling numb. The morning’s events swam blurrily in her mind. After she'd walked out of Draco’s suite she had collapsed against the wall. It was several minutes before her legs were able to carry her to her own room. Stopping only long enough to change into fresh clothes and brush her hair and teeth, Erin hurried to the garage and left Draco behind her.

As she traveled west the sky became more and more overcast. Dark clouds loomed on the horizon and before long rain was pounding the roof of the little red pick-up she drove. Absently Erin switched on the headlights and windshield wipers. As her hand returned to the steering wheel, something caught her eye. Two inches below her wrist and slightly left of center there was a small brown dot. A freckle.


In her haste to leave the hotel she had forgotten to take the polyjuice pill that provided her glamour. Snape had worked with Fred and George to develop a longer lasting polyjuice that was easy to transport. They knew it was likely that at some point a member of the Order would have to go into hiding. She ended up being the guinea pig for their creation, although Fred and George didn’t know it. The pills looked like standard Muggle pharmaceuticals and altered her appearance for about 24 hours. Snape sent her a month’s supply at a time through muggle post. This was an amount that was unlikely to cause undue interest if someone were to come across her supply and it allowed her to age at a rate that would seem natural. Snape had never divulged where he got the hairs needed to make the polyjuice.

She had taken the last pill at 7:30 a.m. Friday. It was now shortly after 8:00 a.m. Saturday. Reaching into the overnight bag on the passenger seat, Erin felt around for the little case that held her toiletries. She did not find it. Carefully maneuvering the truck to the side of the road Erin began emptying the little suitcase of its contents. The case was not there. A vision of her hotel room leapt into her head. In the bathroom, next to the sink, sat a clear plastic container filled with her toothbrush, makeup and a bottle of pills. She’d left it behind.

“Double bugger.”

She sat quite still for the next several minutes listening to the rain and watching her arms cover with freckles. She could feel herself changing. Her pant legs were too long and the gas pedal was no longer an easy reach. The bra that held Erin McIntyre’s ample bosom began to gape. When at last she looked up to see her reflection brown eyes returned her stare. Long ginger hair in desperate need of cutting surrounded her pale freckled face.

“Hello, Ginny,” she said to the woman in the mirror.

Groaning loudly she raked her fingers through her hair. As loath as she was to return to the hotel Ginny knew that she must. She had to get her pills; there was no getting around it. There were a few stops she’d need to make before heading back though. The chance of running into Draco in the lobby was not great but she’d need to make herself as inconspicuous as possible just in case. Her current wild hair and ill-fitting clothes were not conducive to that goal.

Grabbing her cell phone, Ginny dialed the hotel.

“Thank you for calling the Four Seasons, how may I help you?” a woman’s voice answered.

“Hello, this is Erin McIntyre. I checked out just a little while ago and I’ve just realized I left something behind. It is a plastic cosmetics case with my toiletries and medicine and I’ve left it in the restroom of my suite. Can you have someone get it and bring it to the front desk? My friend has offered to pick it up for me. I’m not able to get back in the city today.”

“Certainly, ma’am,” the woman said, “Can I have the name of the person who will be coming in and I number where you can be reached in case there is a problem?”

A name? Ginny spat out the first one to pop into her head and immediately wished she hadn’t. “Hermione Granger. My mobile number is 703-555-9854.”

“I’m sorry, could you spell that? Was it Her-hiney?”

“Hermione, h-e-r-m-i-o-n-e.”

“Thank you, ma’am. We’ll have it waiting for Hermione Granger at the front desk.”

The front desk clerk hung up the phone and smiled at the man standing on the opposite side of the counter.

“Thank you for your patience, sir. Here is your room key. You’re in room 1024.”

The man’s smile in return was devoid of any real warmth. “Thank you,” he said, taking the key. He glanced at the paper where the clerk had written notes from the phone call she received. “Hermione Granger. Quite an unusual name.”
Chapter 7 by KateinVA
Author's Notes:
Here is the next little bit of story.  This chapter is heavy on dialogue but hopefully it's not too awfully tedious.  Thank you to everyone that's reviewed!  I live for feedback!

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.

Chapter 8 by KateinVA
Author's Notes:
It just struck me that I never allowed Draco to get dressed in the last chapter. The poor man just wandered about in a towel while he fought with his father. No wonder Lucius doesn’t take him seriously!
“My goodness, when was your last cut,” the hairstylist queried as she raked a comb through Ginny’s wild mane.

Ginny replied, “It’s been a very long time,” wincing when the comb tore through a large tangle of hair. The salon she was in catered mainly to walk-ins, its stylists usually not long out of cosmetology school. It was the sort of place she usually avoided, having once received a cut more suited to a professional wrestler than a young woman. Today she wasn’t in a position to be picky though, needing to get back to the hotel as quickly as possible.

Next was trip to a clothing store. Ginny selected a cotton summer dress, not overlarge but with enough give in the fabric to accommodate Erin’s more voluptuous figure. A pair of complimentary thong sandals completed the outfit and allowed for a change in foot size. She changed in the cab of her truck, grateful for the small amount of privacy the heavy rain provided her.

By the time she arrived back at the hotel, Ginny’s stomach was in knots. Parking in the city was difficult but she found a space a little over a block from her destination. She hurried along the sidewalk, angling her umbrella against the rain pounding at her from behind. A feeling of foreboding washed over Ginny as she neared the hotel. It unsettled her and in that moment her hand loosened on the umbrella, allowing the wind to tear it from her grasp. She chased after it, slipping in her slick sandals and feeling her hair and dress begin to cling to her skin. The umbrella tumbled past the hotel’s doors before getting caught against a trash can. Collecting the runaway brolly, Ginny tried to will her nervousness away. She entered the lobby with a calm façade.

With a casual glance around the room she strode purposefully to the front desk. There was no sign of Draco but the hairs on the back of Ginny’s neck refused to lie down. She told herself that this was a result of the air conditioning on her damp skin.

“May I help you,” the young woman at the counter asked, smiling pleasantly in her navy uniform.

Ginny pushed back a stray lock of wet hair. She could hear the blood rushing in her ears with each beat of her heart. “Yes, I’m Hermione Granger. I’m here to pick up some toiletries that Erin McIntyre left in her room.”

The clerk nodded, “Of course, I have them right here.” She brought the clear plastic case out from under the counter and slid it across to Ginny. Thanking the woman, Ginny took the case and made for the door. As she walked away, she took out a polyjuice pill and swallowed it, knowing it would take a few minutes to act and she would be safely in her truck before she began to change. All that mattered now was that she got out of the hotel and back under her glamour so that her heart could stop pounding. The doors slid open for her and she released a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Then she felt a large hand on her shoulder. Her eyes traveled from the hand that clung to her to the face of Lucius Malfoy.

“Hermione Granger! I thought that was you!” Lucius was smiling amiably but his eyes were steely in their intensity. He pulled her into a tight embrace and whispered in her ear. “Don’t attempt to escape me, Miss Weasley. I will not hesitate to kill everyone in this room if you try to flee.”

Ginny’s heart felt as if it would beat out of her chest as her gaze moved around the lobby. There were three clerks at the front desk. A man and his very pregnant wife were checking in, two boys of about four and six years played on the floor beside them. An older man was sitting in one of the high-backed chairs reading a newspaper. Hotel guests milled about, intent on their own matters. She knew Lucius’ threat was not an idle one.

Her arms wrapped around him as though they were old friends. She pressed her lips to Lucius’ cheek and replied so that only he could hear, “Get me somewhere private, Malfoy, now.”

Lucius straightened and gripped her upper arm. “Draco would be most disappointed if you didn’t come up and say hello. Are you free for lunch?” He kept up a steady stream of chatter as he propelled her from the lobby into the labyrinthine corridors of the hotel. Spying the door to the emergency stairwell, he jerked Ginny into the infrequently used space.

Pressing Ginny into a corner, Lucius taunted her, “Is this private enough for what you had in mind, Ginny?”

Ginny’s lip curled in disgust. “This should be fine,” she spat.

Lucius laughed and brought his hands to her waist. “So tell me,” he said as he ran his fingers over her sides and back. “Why is it necessary to hide away in a stair…?” The end of his question faded away as Ginny began to transform. He felt her body shifting under his touch and watch with subdued interest as the young woman he’d recognized changed into someone altogether different.

“Ah,” the Death Eater said, his hands resuming their exploration of her form, “I see. Quite an effective disguise.”

Ginny shoved him hard in the chest and Lucius took an involuntary step backwards. “Thanks,” she said. “I’d rather you didn’t touch it.”

Anger flashed across Lucius’ face but was replaced almost immediately with the familiar Malfoy sneer. “I’m sure there are many men that would take pleasure in groping you, Miss Weasley,” his eyes traveled over her newly filled out body, “but I am merely checking for your wand.”

“I’m unarmed.”

The corner of his mouth quirked up, “You’ll understand if I don’t take your word for it, I’m sure.” With lazy grace, he extracted his own wand from a hidden pocket and wordlessly cast the body bind spell on her.

Ginny’s stomach turned as Lucius conducted a far more thorough search for her wand than was necessary. She hadn’t been lying; her wand was tucked away in her bedside table at home. Over the years she’d grown complacent and, since she couldn’t use it in her day to day life, rarely carried her wand when she left the house. Snape would be very disappointed in me, Ginny thought wryly.

Satisfied that his captive was not in a position to attack him, Lucius lifted the spell immobilizing her and took hold of her arm as he had in the lobby.

“Are you ready, Ginny,” he asked.

“Ready for what,” Ginny inquired; hatred obvious in her tone. “Are you going to kill me now, Lucius?”

He gave her hand a pat. “Don’t be silly,” he replied with a smirk. “I can’t kill you yet. I have so many questions to ask you. I was only asking if you were ready to go see Draco.”

Without waiting for an answer, he tightened his hold on her and apparated them both to the tenth floor corridor.

“What if someone had been walking by,” Ginny seethed.

Lucius raised his hand to knock on the door to Draco’s suite. Casting a glance at the angry young woman, he said, “Memory charms work on Muggles just as well as wizards.”

He rapped smartly on the door and Ginny tried to reign in her panic as she heard Draco moving about the room. “Just a moment,” the familiar voice called. All too soon the door swung open and Draco stood before them.

It took a moment for him to realize exactly who was standing at his father’s side. Confusion etched itself across Draco’s face. He looked from one to the other, searching for some explanation. Finally he settled for glaring at Lucius with incredulity and demanding, “Father, what have you done?”
Chapter 9 by KateinVA
Author's Notes:
Ok, I know it's been a long time coming and I know this is a very short chapter. I'm sorry about that. I'll try to get the next chapter out in under a year. ;P
“Be polite, Draco,” Lucius purred, his voice like silk. “We have company.”

Draco waited for Lucius and the young woman at his side to enter the suite, closing the door behind them.

Erin stood next to Draco’s father, her eyes cast to the side and a grimace on her face. She did not struggle against the grip Lucius still had on her arm, nor did she speak. Were it not for the obvious expression of displeasure she wore, Draco would have wondered if she were under the Imperius Curse.

It struck him, then, how odd her reaction was to the circumstances that surrounded her. Displeasure, mingled with a wariness that seemed more calculating than fearful, was the only sign of her discomfiture. Surely Lucius had forced her to come with him; there would be no need to continue his hold on her arm if she was present of her own accord – and yet she was calm.

“Why did you bring her here, Father?” Draco demanded sharply. He did not like this turn of events at all, and he suspected the answer to his question would do nothing to calm the uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach.

Lucius’ lip curled. “I brought her to visit with us. Really, Draco, I’d expected you to be a bit more curious about the person using Hermione Granger’s name. I must admit, I was quite taken aback when I discovered who it was, but perhaps the information won’t be so surprising to you.”

Erin was using Hermione Granger’s name? Draco could only stare at his father as this piece of information soaked in. How was that possible? It made no sense at all. Confusion evident on his face, Draco turned to look at the woman he’d been so intimate with only hours earlier.

“Why would you be using a false name?” he asked, bewildered. “How do you know Hermione Granger?”

At his direct question, Erin’s violet eyes met his own. Draco could see the apprehension in their depths. Her lips parted as though she meant to answer him, but after a moment she closed her mouth and simply looked away.

“Erin?” he pressed, taking her chin in his fingers and forcing her to look at him.

It was Lucius’ turn to be surprised. He spoke to the young woman with cold amusement. “Hermione, Erin – how many names you have, my dear.”

Jerking her chin from Draco’s grasp, Erin pinned a disdainful glare on her tormentor.

“Not enough, apparently,” she riposted.

The grip on her arm tightened as Lucius leaned down to look her in the eye. “No number of aliases could have kept me from identifying you in the lobby.”

“You know her?” Draco inquired. He felt dazed, surreal. Clearly he was missing a piece of this puzzle, and without it the truth was hopelessly lost in confusion.

“Yes,” Lucius replied with a hint of derision, “though not so intimately as you.”

Color rose in Draco’s cheeks. “You’ve had your share of lovers, Father. I don’t see what business it is of yours if I choose to share my bed with a woman.”

“That depends on with whom you choose to share it. When your dalliances endanger our master’s interests, then I make them my business. Twice now your weakness has brought her,” Lucius growled, giving Erin’s arm a yank, “too close to our affairs. Either you are breathtakingly careless, or you are a traitor, Draco. Which is it?”

Draco hesitated, torn between defending himself and wondering what his father was talking about. Twice? He’d only met Erin the night before. Had Lucius not dragged her back into the room, he’d never have seen her again. He was distracted from his internal debate when the woman in question spoke.

“Oh for God’s sake, Lucius, look at him” she sneered, gesturing at Draco. “He’s not complicit; he’s confused! Draco has no idea who I am, and you shouldn’t be so certain either.”

“Oh?” Lucius replied. “Why should I not be sure of your identity? I saw you clearly in the lobby and you as much as admitted who you are.”

Erin laughed. “No, I don’t believe I did. I simply didn’t contradict your assumptions. For all you know, I’m a Muggle.”

“A Muggle? No, I think not. I felt your shape shift beneath my fingertips. I watched you change. Not a usual occurrence for a Muggle, I’d say.”

“What was it you said in the hall about memory charms?” Erin put on a show of deep thought. “Oh yes, I remember. They work as well on Muggles as on wizards. Are you sure the same can’t be said about Polyjuice?”

“An unlikely scenario, my dear.”

“More unlikely than my being a dead woman? For that matter, how do you know that this is not my true appearance and the one you recognized was the disguise? How can you be sure that you’ve even seen my real visage? I might just be changing from one disguise to another.”

Draco stiffened at the words ‘dead woman’. His brain felt like it was churning through mud, trying to grasp an idea that was incomprehensible.

Smugly, Lucius countered, “Dead women don’t age.”

“Alright, not dead,” Erin conceded with a frown. “That doesn’t mean that I am her.”

“Enough of these games,” he said impatiently. “I know who you are, Miss Weasley.”

It felt as though all the air had been sucked from Draco’s lungs as he recoiled in shock.

“Ginny Weasley is dead,” he breathed, shaking his head slowly at his father. “I saw her die.”

“And I saw her in the lobby less than an hour ago,” Lucius replied glibly. “Really, Draco, might we do without the dramatics?”

“Shut up, Father.” His tone left no room for argument.

Draco turned to Erin, bearing down on her with menace.

“Are you saying that I did not see Ginny Weasley killed by the Dark Lord’s Avada Kedavra five years ago?” he demanded.

Slowly, grudgingly, Erin met his eyes. “That may be what you saw, but it is not what happened.”

His eyes closed and his hands curled into fists which trembled with the effort of remaining calm.

“She is alive?”

“I’ve just said so, haven’t I?” Erin snapped. Draco’s were not the only nerves beginning to fray.

His next question came in barely a whisper.

“Who are you?”

Jaw clenched, she looked beyond him, focusing instead on a painted beach scene hanging nearby. Draco’s hand slammed the wall, rattling the artwork.


When she looked up at him, her face was contorted in fury.

“It’s me, Dragon. It’s Ginny.”
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