A Closer Look by Persephone33, Mynuet
Summary: Fresh-faced Ministry employee meets her... nemesis?

Written by Mynuet and Persephone33.
Categories: Works in Progress Characters: Draco Malfoy, Ginny Weasley
Compliant with: GoF and below
Era: Post-Hogwarts
Genres: Humor, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 4 Completed: No Word count: 8042 Read: 21546 Published: Dec 26, 2008 Updated: Feb 21, 2009
Story Notes:
Mynuet and I write Draco and Ginny respectively at Si_Muove_Rpg on livejournal. When the rpg began, we sort of glossed over the beginning of their relationship there, assuming that they'd known each other and worked together for years.

In the interest of well rounded characters, (and not just 'cause we thought it sounded like mad fun) we decided to write the very beginning of their relationship, since they got together a little faster than we anticipated they would in the game. Drawn to each other like magnets, those kids. *shakes head*

And should you be interested in reading them at the rpg site, it can be found at http://community.livejournal.com/si_muove_rpg/, and then click on the Draco/Ginny tag. :)

1. The First Meeting by Persephone33

2. Getting More Comfortable by Persephone33

3. Not Attractive. Nope. by Persephone33

4. Quid Pro Quo by Persephone33

The First Meeting by Persephone33
Author's Notes:
This is the very first time Ginny is sent to search Malfoy Manor as a new Ministry employee.

***********************
Ginny stood outside the front gates of the Malfoy townhome, her brand new Ministry robes stiff against her body. She felt a bit as if her stomach was going to give up her breakfast, but remained steadfastly rooted to the spot. As far as first assignments went, this could not have been a worse one for her. The prospect of seeing Lucius Malfoy filled her with dread, and her lips pursed involuntarily as she endeavored to push away thoughts from her first year, and of the man who was the cause of so much of her pain.

Before she was able to raise a hand to knock on the door, the wards on the house chimed, a pretentious noise if she'd ever heard one.

A house elf stood on the doorstep, somehow managing to look down its nose at her despite being three feet shorter. "Tradesmen's entrance is to rear."

Ginny frowned deeply at the little thing and raised a brow, going against her instinctive urge to cuddle all elves in general. "I am not a tradesman. I am a Ministry of Magic Employee with the Reclamation Cooperation, and I have an appointment with your master. You will tell him I'm here."

"Let her in, Bunty." Draco had been watching the entire time, and recognized the Ministry flunky as someone who might be fun to taunt. "There's no sense making your inferiors sit out in the cold. They already know their place."

Ginny's eyes closed briefly at the sound of the drawl, and when her eyes followed the sound, she was met with the sight of Draco Malfoy instead of his father.

Which was only marginally better, in her opinion.

At least with the younger Malfoy, there was nothing to be afraid of. Unless you were scared of being a self-righteous, pure-blooded, pig-headed snob. Which Ginny was not.

"Charming as ever, Malfoy," Ginny replied, just barely refraining from rolling her eyes. "I've an appointment with your father to search your Estate in Wiltshire, but Marcus Flint said to come here first, as it's Unplottable."

"And you're willing to listen to reason? And from a Slytherin?" Draco mimed surprise. "Are you sure you're actually a Weasley?"

"Some people are able to get past childhood prejudices and actually mature, Malfoy," Ginny returned, her brown eyes gazing at him steadily. "And of course I'm a Weasley," she said, pointing at her hair and giving him the barest smile possible. "This color's unmistakable."

Draco looked her over with amusement, enjoying that she wasn't too intimidated to fire back. "Did you know there's spells to ensure the children look like any given person whose hair you can get a hold of? It's an ancient tradition where inheritances are involved to use it while pregnant to make sure the baby comes out looking like who it's supposed to belong to."

"How utterly optimistic of the user," Ginny said, shaking her head. "Thanks so much for sharing that tidbit of information, but I'm unlikely to need any such spell." She looked over his shoulder, into the interior of the home. "Will your father be much longer? I'm on a schedule."

"You won't be seeing my father, or my mother. If this is a problem for you, have your solicitors contact our solicitors." Draco smiled pleasantly, but his words had an air of command.

"I have an official scroll from the Ministry, Malfoy," she said, pulling the scroll from her robes, her thumb brushing over the bright blue seal. "And I have an appointment with Mr. Malfoy for two o' clock. And it will be kept," she said, her tone polite but firm.

Draco tossed the scroll carelessly on a table. "It has been kept."

I won't curse him. It's unprofessional, it's unprofessional, it's unprofessional, she thought over and over, until the urge passed. Mostly. "Listen," she said through almost clenched teeth, "There's no need for solicitors. The Ministry has sent me to search Malfoy Manor. This," she said, waving her hand around, "your bachelor's den of iniquity or whatever it is, is not Malfoy Manor. I can't get there without Mister Malfoy, and," she said closing her eyes briefly, "I'm beginning to lose my patience. If that makes any difference to you in the least." She looked at him meaningfully, and waited.

"Miss Weasley," Draco said, exaggerated patience masking his urge to laugh. "What's my name?"

She thought for a moment and frowned. "Draco? Isn't it?"

"I take it back, you really are a Weasley." Holding out his hand for her to shake he added, "Pleasure to meet you, Miss Weasley. I'm Mister Malfoy."

"You?" she asked stupidly, before recovering a bit and shaking his hand absently. "Oh, yes, I suppose you are a Mister Malfoy, aren't you? I read that on the memorandum and my mind automatically went to your father. I suppose I still think of you as merely 'Malfoy.'"

She cocked her head to the side and studied him. "I see it, now. You do have an air of 'Mister' about you, don't you?"

"I always thought I was more lordly, but, alas, my ancestors thought titles were for the nouveau riche." Draco sighed theatrically but decided it was time to get down to business. "Since you and I both know that they're not going to stop at searching just the once, I'll give you a choice. I can cooperate if you do."

"I'm as cooperative as the next Ministry employee," she offered. "What choices are you referring to?"

It occurred to him belatedly that if he was trying to get her to work with him, it would probably be good if he showed at least a modicum of hospitality. "Would you like to have a seat while we have our discussion?"

What the hell? she thought, shooting him a distrustful glance before schooling her features and giving a wary nod. "Alright," she agreed. "I'm smarter than my brother and I'm not easily tricked, just so you know."

"It is my sincere belief that there are sea mammals that are smarter than your brother, but in the spirit of cooperation, I'll assume for the moment that you set a higher bar." Sitting across from her in one of the chair groupings, he steepled his fingers together and said, "Your predecessor seemed to believe that it was necessary to indulge in petty power struggle games with me."

Her lips twitched at his comment about Ron until she remembered that she was the only one she let tease him like that. "If I engage in power struggles, they aren't petty ones," she informed him. "But I'm all for making this go as smoothly as possible. I'm just here to do my job, not make your or your family's life any harder than it has to be."

"Excellent." Maybe it was possible that a Ministry employee had a brain - who'd have guessed it was possible, and in a Weasley at that? "As you may know, I'm the seeker for the Falmouth Falcons. I would appreciate consideration being shown for my desire to properly do my job, although I can show some flexibility in terms of practice times. Game days are off limits."

"Are you the seeker for the Falcons?" Ginny asked innocently. "I must've missed your picture on every newspaper and magazine for the last two years." Professional, Ginny, she reprimanded herself. Pressing her lips firmly together, she nodded. "That seems fair. No searches on game days. Fine," she agreed. "If you'll owl me the team schedule, I'll make sure that your home is put in the correct rotation."

He nodded. "I will otherwise make myself available as needed to conduct you to and from the Manor safely, as well as anywhere in the house and grounds that you specify."

Ginny merely looked at him, waiting for the other shoe to drop. When he only returned her gaze in a bored fashion, she asked, "That's it? You don't want me to interrupt your work, but other than that, you have no issues with this?"

"Could you stop the inspections if you wanted?" Draco raised an eyebrow and couldn't resist the urge to try to needle her. "I was under the impression you were just a functionary following orders."

Thank God; I thought he'd changed since school. "Why would I want to stop the inspections? I'm a faithful Ministry employee," you bastard,. "Shall we go? I know your time is valuable," she said mumbling something that sounded like 'millionaire' and 'playboy' under her breath.

"Of course." He stood gracefully and offered her his arm. "We'll be apparating, as the floo connection at the Manor is rather difficult for the uninitiated."

"You realize I'll have to actually touch you?" she asked, before shrugging and taking his arm wrapping her hand firmly around his upper arm. She didn't remember ever being this close to him before. He was much taller than Harry. Broader shoulders, too she thought, sneaking a look. He wore cologne that made her want to bury her face in his robes to inhale it more fully. Stiffening at the thought, she said, "I'm ready when you are."

He smiled down at her and momentarily considered whether he could seduce her away from Potter, but decided it would be a bad idea. The girl showed a distinct tendency for steadfastness, and he wasn't sufficiently interested in her to interfere with a trait that was already rare enough. Not to mention he'd much rather have a reasonable and entertaining Ministry inspector than any number of lovers.
Getting More Comfortable by Persephone33
Author's Notes:
As I've stated before, Mynuet writes Draco; I write Ginny. All the good stuff is hers. ;)

*******************
The first thing Ginny always thought when she stepped into Malfoy manor was, Holy Merlin, this place is enormous.

On average, the manor and grounds took an hour and a half to search properly, when Ginny actually took the time and effort to do it properly. Most times she was distracted by bickering with the prince of the Malfoy kingdom, and arguing with him was infinitely more entertaining than looking for hidden panels and performing dark magic cleansing charms over and over and over again.

She liked going through the sitting rooms in particular, and imagining what it would have been like to grow up there, herself. Until four weeks ago, they'd managed to keep her out of the family wing, but some bureaucratic parchment pusher in the Ministry had overcome that particular hurdle, so through them she went.

She still got lost and turned around, though. As much as she loathed to admit it, she needed the blond man who was currently looking at her as though she were hopeless.

"So through here?" she asked, pointing to a darkened hallway. "Sorry. I need a directional spell, I think. Or a map."

"A sense of direction might be a better place to start," he said, not feeling the need to mention the layers of mild confusion spells and the fact that the hallways themselves shifted.

"Please. Anyone would get lost here. You have the advantage having lived here since birth. The house probably likes you better," she protested.

Smirking, he said, "Projecting that an inanimate object prefers me? Are we feeling a touch inferior today?"

"Clearly, the house has no taste. I'm infinitely more likeable than you, Malfoy. A delight in every way."

"Of course you are," he said patronizingly. "It's just a matter of working out what dictionary you're using to define 'delight.'"

"Ha," she said lazily, holding her sides. "You're so very amusing. I'm dying of laughter," she said blandly. Turning around and choosing a random direction, she went down a shorter hallway and tried the first door that she came to. "I'll go in here, then, if you won't be helpful."

She opened the door to a room that she'd never been in before, which wasn't odd in itself; Malfoy manor seemed to have a lot of those, but this one looked more comfortable than most of them. It had an entire wall of bookshelves, an upholstered chair, a large desk stacked with textbooks, a bed that looked very cozy, and Slytherin pennants on the wall.

She turned to him in surprise. "Your room?"

"Yes, not that I spend much time here these days." Going to the bookcase, he pulled out the most questionable book in terms of dark magic and settled into the armchair. "Go on, I know you won't be able to resist going through my things. Try not to linger too long over my underwear, that could get uncomfortable."

Ginny rolled her eyes. "As if I need to see your pants. I could pick up one of tabloid rags if I wanted to see those." Using her wand, she tilted the book 'til she could see the cover. "You're so dangerous," she said, giving him a look as one would a playful puppy. "You'll have to do better than that, though. I have that one."

He grunted in acknowledgment and she wandered over to the window and looked down at the grounds below. "Nice view," she said as she cast the spell to make sure there weren't any hidden walls or compartments that weren't immediately obvious.

Secure in the knowledge that the hidden cubby underneath the windowseat had survived Lucius Malfoy's best attempts at discovery and so a Ministry functionary working entirely with legal spells had no chance whatsover of finding it, Draco said, "I suppose it is, although it's not the best the Manor has to offer."

She walked to a wardrobe and opened a few of the drawers, closing them immediately when she saw nothing of interest. "What is?"

"My parents' bedroom, of course." He smiled a little bit at the thought of the way they would react if they thought the Ministry inspector had been in their private sanctuary. "That one will require a lot more legal wrangling for you to even think of seeing."

"I think I can do without that," she said, not wanting to even think about running into Draco's father. The younger Malfoy seemed to be alright, smart mouth notwithstanding, but Ginny was in no hurry to meet the man that had altered her childhood drastically by slipping a seemingly innocent journal into her cauldron.

Ginny eyed the bedding and decor adorning the walls. "Tell me Malfoy, do you still decorate your bedroom in Slytherin green?" she asked, opening the door of the wardrobe, and putting her hand though to touch the back of the piece so she could discern if there were any hidden panels. "It seems a bit overdone, even for you."

"I happen to like the color," he said firmly, moving to stand beside her so he could make sure the broomsticks still stored in his second wardrobe wouldn't suffer. "And it's attractive and soothing, unlike what other houses were stuck with."

"Green is not soothing," she said, pulling a Quidditch jumper off of a padded hanger. It makes people ill. Red, however," she said with a grin, "is cheerful."

Crossing his arms to remind him to smother his amusement, he said, "Ah, that's what happens when you wave a red flag at a bull. He cheers up."

"An isolated case," she said dismissively. "I mean, look at this!" she said, absently pulling on the jersey she held in her hand. It was much too large for her, hanging down nearly to her knees. "It's a ridiculous color." She leaned over and ran her hand along the broomsticks, checking for stray curses.

Draco couldn't tear his eyes away from her fingers and the sudden vision of what they would look like if they were touching him. Trying to remember what they were talking about, he said, "It looks good on you. You'd have been much better off in Slytherin."

"A Weasley in Slytherin?" she asked incredulously. "Are you kidding?" She smirked at him, looking down at herself and blushing; What in the hell had she done, putting on a piece of his clothing like he was one of her brothers? She pulled it off, catching her own shirt in the process and exposing a immodest amount of midriff. Smoothing her shirt back down, she said, "The sorting hat threatened me with it actually," she said, shaking her hair out to make sure that her impromptu fashion show hadn't mussed it. "Told me that I'd better watch being sneaky."

It was a bad idea to throw her on the bed. It would be downright terrible to strip her naked, wrap her up in his old Quidditch robes, and set her down to ride him until he couldn't see straight. And, any moment now, he'd actually believe that. "The old thing didn't even hesitate for me. Straight to Slytherin."

"Do you think it even takes into consideration individual values? Or that it just sees the surname and plops you in?" Regarding him for a moment. "You have a certain amount of bravery, though you're too shrewd to let that be your dominant characteristic."

He was looking at her, an expression on his face that she didn't remember seeing before. Perhaps he was horrified that she'd touched his clothing, or maybe his patience was running out with this particular tour. Whatever the case, she knew that she'd become much too personal, when she was thinking of him in a way she usually only reserved for Harry. Clearing her throat, she put his shirt back on the hanger. "There. I don't think I wore it long enough for you to have to burn," she said lightly.

"I'd tell you to keep it, but I wouldn't particularly want to be punished for bribing a Ministry official." He'd have to get rid of it, though, so these new and unwelcome thoughts on how she could 'punish' him would go away. "Especially for such a tiny thing - I'd have to hide my face in shame and swear I'd given you a million galleons as well."

"It would definitely take more than a old jersey and a million galleons," she said, laughing. "There would have to be some promises made, and an exchange of information for my safety-"

Coughing to cover up that she'd stopped speaking rather abruptly, she continued, "Not that I've thought about taking bribes."

"Of course you haven't," he said, not bothering to hide his amusement.

"Besides, you lot don't have anything to hide. If there was anything, I'd think either Flint or I would have found it in the last nine months."

Given the restrictions that the law put on how searches could be conducted, it would be a wonder if they could find a hairpin. "I'm sure you would have."

"And that face," she said, shaking her head and smirking, "Is why we keep coming back. You're not telling me everything; you have something to hide. And if it takes me the next five years," she said, giving his arm a gentle thump as she walked past him to the door, "I'll find out your secrets."

He laughed; he couldn't help it. "You think it would only take you that long? I'm a complicated man, you know."

"You're a man," she said, giggling in return. "How complicated could you be? I, however, am a mass of complex layers, that no one will ever fully understand," she said in a teasing tone. Her face fell a little. "That's what I've been told, anyway."

Guiding her through the corridor so that it would stay in one shape as she walked to the other end, he said, "Yet another reason in favor of Slytherin. Even if we couldn't understand each other, not one of us would ever admit it, or stop trying."

"Well that's certainly in your favor," she answered lightly. "Most people give up too easily."

"If it's worth the effort to pursue something, it's worth the effort to get it," he returned.
Not Attractive. Nope. by Persephone33
Author's Notes:
Mynuet writes a dreamy (insolent, self absorbed)Draco, and I write (a sarcastic, borderline neurotic) Ginny. :)
****************
Draco's head was pounding, and so was the door. Groaning, he started hauling himself upwards, disentangling himself from someone he'd be willing to swear he'd never seen before. Scrubbing his face with his hands, he shouted, "Bunty! Stop the infernal racket, even if someone has to die!"

The house elf peered around the door, saying hesitantly, "Is Ministry appointment, Master. Ministry miss is persistent."

Growling, Draco stood up and found a pair of trousers, pulling them on and heading down the stairs. Opening the door, he glared out and said, "Is this really necessary right now?"

Ginny blinked at his bare chest, and immeditely averted her gaze to look him directly in the eye. "This is when you said would be convenient for you, Malfoy, and I rearranged my schedule, so as to accommodate your royal highness." She arched a brow at him. "Sorry to have interrupted your nap."

"What time is it, anyway?" He rubbed a hand over his face and stepped back, yawning.

"Two o'clock in the afternoon, sleepyhead." Ginny cocked her head to the side and her eyes opened a little more widely. "Are you just now getting up?" She couldn't remember the last time she slept past eight; Harry was an early riser and before that Molly Weasely never tolerated her children sleeping the day away. "I seriously want your life," she muttered.

With a reluctant chuckle that almost sounded like a cough, he said, "Go back and win the genetic lottery. That or marry well, but that would involve giving up Saint Potter."

"Yes, well. Who can resist a saint, right? I'll just have to settle," she joked, frowning at how that sounded coming out of her mouth. She cleared her throat as she followed him into the parlour of the townhome. "Are you ready to go, then? Aside from, you know, being fully dressed?" she asked, casting a sweeping glance over his torso again.

"I'd apologize, but since you're getting a free show, maybe you should say thank you." Draco lounged on a plush sofa and snapped his fingers. As soon as his house elf appeared, Draco said, "See about getting whoever that is upstairs out, would you? And bring food. Enough for Miss Weasley, too, or my mother will somehow sense I'm being rude and come give me a thick ear."

"I'll see what I can do about working up a proper amount of gratitude," she said rolling her eyes, as she sank into the chair across from him, giving an involuntary sigh. She'd been going non-stop since nearly seven that morning, and it really felt good to sit for a minute. Her shoes were killing her; it seemed like she always wore her most umcomfortable pair of high heels for these days. "Who's upstairs?" she asked, before she could quell her curiosity. "The Ministry hasn't sent someone else already, have they?"

"I don't think so, although my memory of last night is a bit hazy." Draco closed his eyes and tried to think, but then shook his head. "No, I was too drunk. She's blonde, that's all I know. Well, and that she's a screamer."

Ginny closed her eyes and pursed her lips, holding up a hand in protest. "Stop right there. Too much information, Malfoy. I don't need to know details of your life not pertaining to my job at the Ministry."

"Good to know," he said cheerfully, delighted at having a new way of needling her. "So, you have absolutely no interest in knowing, say, the way I pulled off the Wronski in last week's game?"

"I suppose you think it's impressive? Harry was doing that manouever while we were still in school," she said dismissively. "Nice catch of the Snitch, though. The Magpie's seeker looked completely brassed off."

Grinning, Draco said, "Saw that, did you? Isn't that seeking information about my life, unrelated to your job?"

"I wasn't seeking information, I was making a comment, or a compliment if you like," Ginny said as she fixed her unimpressed glare on him. "In nursery school, they teach children to say 'thank you' graciously, and move on."

"Do they? Fascinating," he said. "Do they also teach self righteous priggery, or do your sort of people pick that up later?"

"It's self taught," she answered flatly, "And brought out for people like you, specifically," she finished, a sweet smile on her lips.

Smirking, he said, "Good to know you acknowledge the need to give me special treatment."

"Oh, my gosh!" she exclaimed. "You never stop! Please tell me it's an act for my benefit, and you're not really this self-absorbed."

"Hmm?" He made a show of looking up as if interrupted mid-thought. "Sorry, did you say something? I was busy contemplating my own greatness. It's a skill I learned from your boyfriend."

"Harry is not self--" She stopped purposefully, inhaling deeply and internally chanting what had come to be known, in her head, anyway, as the 'Malfoy Mantra.' Will not curse. Will not curse. Will not curse. "Is there a reason that I'm sitting here with you and not on my way to Wiltshire?" she asked. "I'm sure we both have other things to do this afternoon, after this."

Truth be told, she didn't. Not really. Harry was going to be working late, and she always planned her visits with him for the last slot of the day. Frowning involuntarily, she blanched at the stray thought. She wasn't visiting him, she was doing her job.

"Food," he said firmly. "I'm not about to starve to death for the Ministry."

Ginny sat back in her chair, secretly relieved to have the respite of a few more minutes while the prince fed himself. "By all means," she said, waving a hand airily. "Don't let the official Ministry documents get in the way of your breakfast. At half two in the afternoon." She pulled the scroll with the bright blue seal from her pocket and placed it on the table between them.

"Hey, I'm feeding you, too." Draco picked up the scroll and looked at it briefly before tossing it over onto the table which held the rest of the scrolls. Bunty came in with a tray loaded down with finger foods, and placed it on the tray where she'd put the scroll. Draco took a saucer and loaded it up, gesturing to Ginny to do the same.

Ginny was taken aback for a moment; she'd never been around him where he'd offered to give anyone anything. However, he was eating the food on the tray as well, so she figured it probably wasn't poisoned. And he probably wasn't on to lace his guest's food with jokes. Not every one was like Fred and George. She shrugged and put a small amount on her plate, to be polite, she thought to herself, but stilled as her stomach growled in the silence of the room. A slow blush creeping up in her cheeks, she regretted the fact that she'd skipped lunch to make sure that she got there on time.

"Sounds like you need this almost as much as I do," he said, pushing the tray closer to her. "Don't worry, I wouldn't adulterate any food that came near mine. I care too much about my own well being."

She started to protest that she hadn't thought that, but gave up before she started; even she wouldn't believe that. Mumbling something that sounded like "Thanks," she began sampling the treats on her plate. Her eyes widened and then closed; the pastry she'd just casually popped in her mouth was positively sinful. To die for, better even than her mum's apple tart, not that she'd ever tell her that. "What is this lemon thing? Oh, my gosh, Malfoy," she gushed, "who cooks for you? This is fabulous!"

"One of the elves? I think Bunty might've cooked them." He picked up one of the lemon cakes and bit into it, but it didn't seem different or special enough to warrant that reaction. "It's a cake? We can get you a whole plateful if you want."

"I-" Her instinct was to say, 'Oh, holy Merlin, yes, yes, YES,' but she decided that that response might be construed as inappropriate and unprofessional. "Oh, no, that's alright," she protested politely. "Thank you, though. Lemon anything is just my favorite; so many sweets are chocolate," she said, thinking of the chocolate cakes Harry had got her for her last three birthdays. "But I prefer things a little tart. Keeps teatime exciting."

He had a flash of smearing lemon pie filling across his chest and having her make teatime really exciting, but he quickly smothered the thought and went back to his plate, studiously avoiding anything that contained citrus. "Nothing wrong with chocolate. I have truffles delivered regularly."

"No, chocolate's alright," she agreed. "It's just one of my mad personal preferences. But I don't know that I've ever had a truffle."

"Maybe once," she said thoughtfully. "Certainly not enough times to have an opinion on them."

He shrugged. "Maybe next time there'll be some left when you get here."

"How uncharacteristically charitable of you," she said, looking again at him. Her heartrate increased as her gaze lingered longer than it should, as he was still shirtless and tousled, his mouth closing around a spoonful of something creamy. Oh, dear heavens, she thought, face flushing, averting her eyes quickly. I'm just like every other ridiculous Quidditch groupie.

"I know," he said smugly. "I'm renowned for my generosity to those less fortunate."

She laughed. And that is why he will never, ever be attractive. "Yes. Thank you ever so much m'lord," she said in a peasant-like accent. "Are you nearly done? I do have other things to do today," she lied, sniffing aristocratically as she put her plate down on the table.

"I suppose." He put his plate down and stood, stretching his muscles before absently scratching his stomach. "I suppose I should get dressed - any chance you'd wait while I took a shower?"

"No," she answered quickly, definitely not thinking about water running over his chest. "Could you hurry, please?" she asked, her voice strained.

Raising an eyebrow, he looked at her quizzically. "Hot date, Weasley?"

"Yes," as a matter of fact, she answered briskly. With a carton of ice cream and Harry's telly. "Just go put on a damned shirt so that we can go."

Bowing with exaggerated deference he said, "Yes, ma'am, of course, ma'am, anything for the Ministry. Is your humble servant to be allowed shoes?"

Will not curse, will not curse, will not curse. "Go," she ground out through clenched teeth. He turned to leave the room, and she muttered under her breath, "You drive me insane."

"Well, it's a short trip," he said, grinning as he headed up the stairs to get dressed. And maybe he would take that shower - it'd give her some time alone with the lemon cakes she liked so much.

Ginny stood silently in the middle of his parlour, her mouth open in a silent scream. "Infuriating," she ground out, throwing herself back on her chair and picking up another pastry, not even thinking before shoving a rather large bite in her mouth. "Bloody annoying," she said around a mouthful of cake. "And not attractive. Not even a little."
End Notes:
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Thanks for reading!
Quid Pro Quo by Persephone33
Author's Notes:
Persephone writes Ginny and Mynuet writes Draco. These characters are currently in a (hot, steamy!) relationship over at Si_Muove_rpg on livejournal; these are the "what happened before" stories.

***********
This is Mynuet, hijacking the posted chapter to add a note without Persephone's knowledge! (Insert evil laugh here.) She's the absolute best Ginny ever, in my not-so-humble opinion, and it's a blast writing with her. It makes my Draco better to have such an awesome Ginny to play off of. And now, I'll return you to your normal fic reading.

***********
Ginny glared at the note on her desk, willing it to burst into flames because of the ire she felt. Practically any other day, she really wouldn't have cared that Harry had only left her a note; after all, they worked odd hours, the both of them, and sometimes missed each other completely for days. Any other day, the words 'Gin, Working a case, see you when I see you - Harry' wouldn't have made Ginny frown. She would have chuckled and shrugged and gone home to dig out a pint of ice cream and listen to the wireless, perfectly content to be alone.

Any other day, she really, really wouldn't have cared.

But it wasn't any other day. It was her birthday.

Growling in frustration, she picked up the reclamation list for the day, glad that she had at least one more place to go. And though he might be an arse, Draco Malfoy was predictable; he always made her sit and have tea before he deigned to escort her to his ancestral home. Grateful for once for his pomp and grandeur, Ginny thought it was a distinct possibility that she might get to have cake on her birthday, after all.

Sighing heavily as she arrived on the steps of his townhome, she knocked, crossing her arms to wait for the elf to show her in.

"Mistress Ministry!" Bunty opened the door and bowed so low that her nose almost scraped the doorstep. "Greetings on special day!"

"Oh," Ginny said, a small smile spreading across her lips as she knelt down. "Bunty, is it? Thank you. It's kind of you to remember."

With a beaming smile, the elf stood upright and hustled Ginny inside, taking her past the usual parlor to a dining room with a crystal chandelier and a long mahogany table with two place settings. Draco was standing beside one of the chairs, holding it out. "Didn't think I was going to stay in your debt, did you? If we celebrated my birthday, we're also rolling out the red carpet for yours - fair's fair."

"Malfoy, I gave you banana bread," she said, wide eyed as she walked slowly toward the chair he was holding and sank into it. It was a bit surreal, to say the least. Her boyfriend didn't remember, but the man whose house she searched on a bi-monthly basis did, and what's more, he'd apparently gone the extra mile to help her celebrate. "But this is nice, though. Thank you."

He shrugged. "I can't bake. Wasn't inclined to try, really, but I didn't want to go without doing anything. And I can order a meal like nobody's business."

"Well, play to your strengths, then," she replied with a chuckle. "What have you ordered?"

Rattling off a list of five courses, Draco came to the end and frowned. "Would you be allowed to have the accompanying wine?"

"How would I fit wine in after all that?" she asked incredulously. "I thought you were just going to have teacakes." She looked at the man who was staring back at her, wishing briefly that Harry could be more like him - solicitous and charming. Her gaze drifted of its own accord to his lips, and for the first time wondered what it would be like to be on the receiving end of one of those famed tabloid kisses. "I guess I can if I don't have too much?"

He poured her a glass as the first course was served. "I promise, I won't let you take advantage of me if you get drunk, and I've sobering and hangover potions at the ready."

"Let me take advantage of you?" she asked with an arched brow. "That's kind of you. Because we know that it certainly wouldn't be the other way around," she said with a laugh.

"I don't find drunks particularly attractive, unless I'm so blasted I can't see straight, and even then it's not so much being attracted as my standards being temporarily lowered in the name of getting shagged." Of course, he wouldn't mind seeing what Ginny would look like if she was tipsy; he was willing to bet she'd flush delightfully.

"Your virtue, or lack thereof, is safe with me, Malfoy. Don't worry," Ginny said as she sipped from her glass. "Ooh. This wine is lovely, thank you."

Taking a sip of the middling-to-fine vintage, Draco smirked. "I'm not sure lovely is on the list of oenologist-approved descriptive terms, but as it's your birthday, we'll let it go this time."

Ginny nodded her thanks dramatically. "I'm still floored you remembered. You can't say that of everyone today."

"It's not so hard to mark a calendar," Draco said with a shrug. "And I like birthday cake. Any excuse to have it is a good one."

"You wouldn't think it was hard to mark a calendar. Perhaps I should buy Harry a new quill, then." She smiled and nodded. "And I like birthday cake, too."

His eyebrows raised in surprise, Draco blurted out, "Hasn't Potter known you since you were--"

"Ten years old, yeah," Ginny interrupted, a tired sigh escaping her.

Coughing slightly to cover his gaffe, Draco couldn't help muttering, "Couldn't find his arse with both hands and a map."

"He's a bit clueless at times, yes," Ginny agreed softly. Deciding to be grateful for what was before her instead of spoiling it with a bad mood, she amended, "He's working tonight."

There were a lot of things he could say, but all of them would indicate that he was a bit more involved in Ginny Weasley's life than he was absolutely sure he cared to be. "I suppose that means we don't have to rush over dinner, then. Better for the digestion."

She shrugged. "Apparently not. I don't have anywhere to be. I suppose I could even save your parents' house until next week."

"If you like," Draco said indifferently. "They're out for the evening, just in case you'd needed to go tonight and we ran late."

"Oh. Alright, then." There were lots worse things than spending the evening having a lovely meal and being escorted around a beautiful house with a handsome man. "Am I not keeping you from some gala or other? What was it you were in the papers for last week with that leggy blonde?"

Draco thought back, trying to remember. "Public indecency? You'd have to be more specific."

"No, thankfully. You were in dress robes, she was wearing a really lovely pink dress... ring any bells?"

Shaking his head, Draco said, "None whatsoever. These social things are all pretty much a blur - it's all the same people, with the same conversations and endless variations on essentially the same clothes."

"Really?" she said in disbelief. "It always seems like you're all having so much fun. The balls with the dancing, especially. I love to dance."

With a small chuckle, Draco leaned in to whisper conspiratorially, "The secret is to drink. A lot. And to make nasty comments in your head about everyone else."

"Sound advice from a professional, I'm sure," she agreed, "Though if I ever get to go to one, I wouldn't want to get too drunk and not be able to enjoy myself properly."

"I'd look out for you," he offered with a lazy smile. "Just for the novelty, if nothing else."

Ginny frowned. "Redheads are in short supply in your social circle?"

"I meant that you're interesting," he said, dabbing his mouth with a napkin. "It was your special birthday compliment."

"Well, aren't I special? I'm interesting." She took a drink from her glass and smiled at him. "Girls love compliments like that."

Raising an eyebrow, he asked, "Was that sarcasm? I can't quite tell with you."

"Yes, Malfoy! I know I don't seem terribly feminine to you, but girls like compliments along the lines of 'pretty' or something like that. Though interesting will do. I've had worse, certainly."

"All right, all right! Don't get upset, it'll ruin our little dinner party." Taking a sip of his wine, he looked her over thoughtfully. "I'd never describe you by a word as insipid as pretty. Daisies and roses are pretty, but they're common as muck. You're more like an orchid, but not the hothouse kind. More like the ones that grow wild in the jungle, lush and vivid."

"Lush?" she asked, eyebrows raised. "Are you drunk?"

His teeth flashed as he grinned crookedly. "Nowhere near; I have the tolerance of a rhinoceros. But if you don't like being lush, I'll find another word."

"No, no," she protested, giggling. "I like it just fine. It seems like a description I'll have to work to live up to, though."

"Does it? I wouldn't have thought so." Shrugging, he returned to his food. "You've also got a nice arse."

"Oh, Merlin. You are drunk. I haven't heard that since I wore my Quidditch kit." She grinned at him. "Though I'll bet you hear it all the time."

He lifted his glass in a mocking toast. "Voted best bottom in the league, male division, three years running."

"To fantastic arses," she said, clinking her glass against his. "May they never fail us."

"Long may they be decorative," he said, and they went back to their food.

Ginny felt a little guilty enjoying herself as much as she did with Draco; she ate too much, she certainly drank too much, and before she was really ready for her surprise birthday tea to be over, she found herself apparating to Malfoy Manor on the arm of the heir, himself.

"It's not exactly beautiful, but it's very impressive," Ginny said with a critical look in her eye, her head cocked to the side as she looked at the house Malfoy'd grown up in. "I'm not sure what's meant by the white peacocks, though. Are they pets?"

"Yeah, my father's. I've never wanted to ask, really. He loves the damned things." As they passed, he plucked a white rose from a trellis and denuded it of thorns before tucking it into her hair. "It's not an orchid, but it's enough for now, I suppose."

"A white rose," Ginny mused. "They mean new beginnings," she said thoughtfully. "As well as innocence and purity, but that doesn't quite cover either of us," she said with a wink. "Where to first, tonight?" she asked as they entered the manor. "You can decide, as you've been quite the host this evening."

With a smirk, Draco said, "Come along. We'll start at the top and work our way down to a big finish."

"Oooh," she said, unable to completely wipe the silly grin from her face. "Now I'm all anticipatory." A giggle bubbled out of her lips, and she cleared her throat to cover her unprofessional manner. "Though in a completely Ministry-approved way."

"I wouldn't expect anything else from you," he said wryly.

"Was that sarcasm?" she asked, doing a fair imitation of his drawl from earlier in the evening. "I can't quite tell with you."

Watching her as she cursorily glanced into the rooms they passed, Draco said, "I suppose it was. You're not really all that dedicated to the spirit of the Ministry practices, are you?"

She should never have had the third glass of wine with dinner. It made the words too easily spill from her lips. "Sometimes it's a right pain, you know?" she asked blithely. "You lot haven't been involved in anything dark since way back when." An involuntary shudder made its way down her spine as the vision of Lord Voldemort's red eyes flitted through her mind. "Still, it pays the bills, you know?"

"Not really, but I'll take your word for it." The joking words couldn't fully repress the thoughtfulness her words had engendered, and he said, "I don't think that we can ever fully leave darkness behind - not in the way you mean it. If nothing else, I wear a reminder on my arm, both of who I am and why I shouldn't risk more than I'm willing to lose."

Ginny stopped and looked up at him, studiously avoiding dropping her gaze to the sleeve covering his left arm. She gave a small shrug. "And that right there is why I feel this is a waste of the Ministry's time and resources. However, I enjoy your pastries and your company on occasions when you're being especially charming," she said, inclining he head in his direction. "So what the Ministry can't quite figure out benefits me, in a way." Pausing, she grew wide-eyed. "That makes me just awful doesn't it?"

"It's very Slytherin of you. I approve." Not sure what prompted his next words, he nonetheless blurted out, "Do you want to see it? A lot of people ask."

"See what, Malfoy?" Ginny asked, suddenly a little anxious. Could he read minds? Could he perform Legilmency? Did he know that she'd thought about kissing him earlier? "You're going to have to be a little more specific."

Running a hand through his hair, he said impatiently, "The Mark, Weasley. You know, what we were just talking about?"

"Oh, that." Ginny's eyes sparkled and she almost laughed. "Do you want to see my tattoo?" she asked with a grin.

Once again, his eyebrows shot up with surprise, and he found himself wanting to laugh. "Depends. Where is it?"

"Erm..." She squinted up at him, wondering why the hell she'd just shared the fact that she even had a tattoo with him. "On my hip?"

With a small snicker, he said, "And you said you weren't going to threaten my virtue. What do you call offering to bare your hip?"

"Compared to what you usually get after treating a girl to dinner? Not even close, Malfoy." Still smiling, she continued down the corridor. "But if you're scared to see the teensiest bit of the top portion of my arse, I won't force you."

They were making their way back down the stairs by that point, and he paused to rub his chin theatrically. Finally, he said, "No, I think maybe you'll have to buy me dinner first."

"Hrmph. I think I'll keep my tattoo to myself, then," she said loftily. "Where to next? The regular ballroom, the Grand Ballroom, or the really gigantically enormous ballroom that I can never remember the name for?"

Taking her elbow, he guided her through an imposing set of double doors. "The State Ballroom. We've hosted royalty there, and now you."

"Well hurrah for me." She smirked at him and gave him a sympathetic look. "Sort of sad for you, though. How the mighty have fallen."

"I suppose we'll muddle through somehow." Waving his wand to start music playing, he bowed and held his hand out. "May I have this dance?"

Before she could stop herself, Ginny looked around to see who he was talking to. Seeing no one else around, she smiled. Right now, she didn't care that it was sort of pathetic that one of her Ministry assignments was asking her to dance, or that the next time they met he'd probably be a narcissistic prig again. It was her birthday, and a handsome man was asking her to dance. To hell with propriety, she thought, nodding and taking his hand. "I'd love to."

He led her through a basic waltz, surprised to find she was light on her feet and very responsive. It was much too easy for that thought to transition to whether she'd be as responsive in bed, and his eyes dropped to rake over her body before he remembered himself and kept his gaze firmly above her neck. Casting about for something polite but neutral to say, he came up with, "You're a good dancer."

"Thanks, Malfoy," she said, a blush creeping up her cheeks. She tried to remember how long it had it been since Harry danced with her. She frowned in earnest, trying to recall the last time he'd actually touched her at all, if her reaction to her hand resting lightly on Draco Malfoy's well-built shoulder was giving her illicit thoughts. "So are you."

A clock chimed, and Draco pulled back, letting the music fade away. "I suppose you'll turn into a pumpkin if you're not home soon."

"Oh, yes. I've a date with some ice cream and the wireless." She stood awkwardly in the ballroom, thinking about the best way to thank him. "You were sweet tonight, Malfoy, thanks."

"Hey, there's no need to be insulting," Draco said with a crooked smile. "Next year, you'll have to come up with two baked goods to top this. It's Slytherin self-interest all the way."

Ginny laughed. "Oh, now I see how it is." She glanced at him as they walked toward the front doors of the manor. "Did you actually eat it? I mean, with all the elves you have you're not exactly hurting for homemade pastries."

"Of course I did." After he'd checked it for poisons or any other potentially harmful additives.

"Well, you're just full of surprises, aren't you?"

Smirking, he apparated them back to his house and said, "That's not what I'm usually accused of being full of, so I'll take it."
End Notes:
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