“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 fašade.
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.”
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?”
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