Draco stared intently at the phial sitting at the center of his table. He traced his finger around the edge of a tumbler that contained an untouched double shot of firewhisky and felt the burn of shame at resorting to what he was about to do. He almost reconsidered because the logical part of his mind believed it was entirely possible to get through the night without any help. There had been plenty of nights before when everything had gone exactly as planned. But it was always the important nights that went wrong during his relationship with Ginny Weasley.
The first date was disastrous. Draco had shown up at her door with a bouquet of exotic flowers and a bottle of wine. Within thirty seconds of inhaling the unique fragrance of the very rare and expensive Siberian Ice violets, she was sneezing and puffed up like a bloated plimpy. By the time he got her to St. Mungo’s, her nose and ears were turning purple. She was given a potion to counteract the allergic reaction, but it took three days for the swelling to go down and an additional two weeks for her coloring to return to normal.
Their first Christmas together was even more catastrophic. He had arranged for a moonlit sleigh ride over the Alps with some hot apple cider to enjoy along with the beautiful view. It was bad enough when he spilt the cider on her, but things only got worse from there. The flying reindeer got loose and the sleigh crashed into the side of a mountain interrupting the winter slumber of an Alpine Yeti. Their escape was narrow and only possible due to Ginny’s willingness to part with a sizable chunk of her long flaming mane.
Valentine’s wasn’t any better. Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding at Malfoy Manor, Ginny ended up being held hostage by a crazed house-elf dressed as Cupid. It took a squad of Aurors that included Harry Potter and her brother Ron to convince the elf to release Ginny to authorities. Draco spent hours being interrogated. It was only when Ginny found out that Draco was in the Ministry’s custody that she made a statement and they finally let him go.
Their first anniversary was equally wrought with troubles, beginning with the fact that he had completely forgotten about it. (Though, one could hardly blame him for blocking the date out of his mind as it was a reminder of the worst first date he’d ever managed.) He further blundered when he let it slip that he thought their anniversary was nearly a month later, a date Ginny recalled as being the first time they made love. She accused him of being a typical male with nothing but sex on the brain and he really had no argument against it. The truth, however, was that he’d labeled the date in his mind as ‘The Date.’ It had been spontaneous perfection and could never be duplicated. It had been the day he had fallen irreversibly in love with Ginny Weasley.
Of course, he found he was incapable of rationally explaining his mistake to his infuriated girlfriend. In the face of a forgotten anniversary and an accusation of thinking only with his lower brain, the truth would probably be considered a lame excuse.
When Draco tried to make it up to her, things only got worse. Ginny took full advantage of his mistake and forced him to have dinner at the Burrow for the first time since they began dating. For the most part, he’d been able to avoid dinner with the Weasleys with a variety of excuses and Ginny had yet to bully him into it. But he was left with no other choice. Instead of a romantic evening with his girlfriend, he would be drowning in the red hair and freckles of people he was not so fond of.
The entire Weasley clan was present and Ron found it necessary to recant the tale of the Valentine's gone wrong, much to Draco’s dismay and everyone else’s amusement. He ended up the target of at least seven of Fred and George’s experimental pranks. Percy nearly bored him to death with wizard export statistics. Bill and Charlie both made subtle threats on his life. And since he was technically in the doghouse as far as Ginny was concerned, he faced it all without her protection.
Draco survived. He realized that if he was able to survive a day with Ginny’s family – quite possibly the worst day in his life – and still found himself unable to imagine his world without Ginny, then he had no other choice but to take the next step.
Three months of careful planning went into perfecting his proposal. First, Draco would ask Arthur Weasley’s permission for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Then he would have dinner and music waiting in the Manor’s infamous rose garden. He had chosen a platinum ring with a sizable fire diamond in the setting which he’d present to her using a charm he found in one of the ancient texts in the Malfoy library. Once she accepted (as he assumed she would) he would place the ring on her finger and they would be whisked away to the Malfoys' private unplottable island off the coast of Italy where dessert and wine would be waiting for them in the island’s newly redecorated villa, his engagement present to Ginny.
Draco was almost satisfied that he had all the ingredients for the perfect proposal, but there was something nagging at him. Something that he’d overlooked. That’s when it occurred to him that all dates of importance since he began going out with Ginny had gone terribly wrong. Panic swept over him and he nearly lost his nerve. It took two days to come up with a viable solution to his problem. The only way he could avoid bad fortune was to ensure he was protected by the kind of fortune that was good. He had a private contact obtain a phial filled with three doses of Felix Felicis. It wasn’t that Felix was illegal, exactly. But he didn’t want anyone, least of all Ginny, to know he had resorted to liquid luck to accomplish anything.
He met with his private contact in a dimly lit corner of a small pub in Knockturn Alley. When the transaction was complete, he ordered a double-shot of firewhisky and began rethinking his decision to use the potion. On the one hand, there would be nothing better in the world if for the next 12 hours everything went right. On the other, it seemed almost demeaning to require the aid of a potion on the most important night of his life.
In less than a half hour he was supposed to meet with Mr. Weasley. Draco felt the onset of nerves and downed the firewhisky to calm them. Once again his Malfoy pride tempted him to forgo the Felix, but the thought of all the things that could go wrong started rolling through his mind. Her father could say no. She could say no.
Draco reached for the phial of gold and uncorked it. He only intended to drink half the contents of the container, but the unexpected sight of his future fiancÚ caused him to choke down a larger potion of the fluid than he meant to. He quickly re-corked the potion and slipped into his inside jacket pocket just as Ginny spotted him.
“Gin, what are you doing here?” he asked as pleasantly as he could without arousing suspicion.
“Luna and I just finished a little shopping and she knows the bartender here. We were going to have a little drink before we headed home. What are you doing here?”
“Just a quick business meeting,” he covered, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. He could almost feel the Felix Felicis start working. Only moments before he was beginning to question Ginny’s dedication to him and now he simply knew that they would be growing old together. There was a sudden knowledge that literally nothing could go wrong.
“Did it go well?”
“Of course,” he answered smoothly. He felt almost giddy with confidence.
Ginny furrowed her brows. “It must have,” she said cautiously. “Are you feeling all right, Draco?”
“I’m feeling fabulous!”
“Fabulous? I didn’t realize that was a word in your vocabulary. You seem awfully…happy,” she observed.
“I’m just happy that I’m lucky enough to have you in my life, darling.” Draco was completely unaware of the smile that was plastered to his face. “Did your shopping trip go well?"
“Yes. I saw a beautiful gown at Madame Malkin’s. I wasn’t going to buy it, but Luna insisted.”
“Lovely. You’ll wear it tonight, then,” he stated. Everything already seemed to be going as planned. He had asked Luna to persuade Ginny to purchase a new dress for the occasion.
“Tonight? But I thought we were just having dinner.”
“Tonight we’re celebrating,” he explained.
“Oh? The meeting went extremely well, then.” She shot him one of her classic smiles that told him everything he needed to know. Ginny was ecstatic for him and she didn’t even know what kind of business transaction they were celebrating. She trusted him completely and for anyone to trust Draco that implicitly was rare.
After leaving Ginny with Luna at the pub, Draco headed toward the Burrow for his meeting with Arthur Weasley. He no longer felt the apprehension that had been nagging at him before. Asking permission would be a breeze.
“Draco, come on in,” Arthur said affably as he showed him into the house. Draco got right down to business. He showed the ring to Arthur and informed him of his intentions.
“You wish to marry Ginny, eh? And you think you’ll be a proper husband for her?”
Draco answered with a resounding ‘yes.’ The plan was to start in on his prepared speech detailing all the reasons why he would make a suitable husband to Ginny. Instead he put it in very simple and very enthusiastic terms.
“I love her. She’s my world and I can’t live without her.”
Arthur chuckled at Draco’s eagerness. It seemed very uncharacteristic of the young pureblooded wizard to be so openly excited about anything. He hadn’t known Draco for very long, but he knew that Ginny loved him.
“I can’t deny an answer like that, now can I? Alright, Draco, you have my permission to marry Ginny if she accepts your proposal.”
Draco couldn’t keep himself from grinning wildly. “Thank you! I promise you won’t regret it!”
He had known that Mr. Weasley would approve, but his acquiescence caused Draco to feel even more positive that the night would be perfect. At this rate, he felt he could conquer the world.
“What’s going on here?” Ron asked as he entered the Burrow’s living room. Draco was only too happy to inform his future brother-in-law of the news.
“We’re going to be brothers!” Without even realizing how odd it was, Draco wrapped his arms around Ron in a quick masculine hug. Ron had little time to react, otherwise his fist would have connected directly with Draco’s chin.
“Is he nutters? And did you seriously just tell him he could marry Gin?” Ron asked his father as Draco stepped back still holding the wild grin on his face. Arthur shrugged, equally shocked by Draco’s apparent insanity.
“I’m going to marry your sister and nothing, not even a herd of wild Weasleys is going to stop me from marrying the woman I love! Adieu, dear brother and thank you once again, Mr. Weasley. I have a proposal to make.”
Draco Apparated directly to Malfoy Manor, leaving two very shocked and confused Weasley men behind. By the time he reached his room to change for the evening, Draco’s confidence was soaring even higher than before. So confident was he that he dressed in his formal robes and left his room without even a glance into the mirror. He just knew that he looked perfect.
He headed toward the kitchen where the house-elves were busily preparing the gourmet meal they would have that evening. Draco began tasting the assorted concoctions and called out a variety of commands on how to improve everything. More butter, more lemon, more pepper. He seemed oblivious to the house-elves’ looks of distress at their failure to please their master with dishes they had prepared flawlessly thousands of times, but they followed his commands as always.
Ginny arrived dressed in her newly purchased gown. Draco remarked how beautiful she was and he could see the slight blush on her cheek as she thanked him for noticing.
“And you are handsome as always,” she said returning the compliment
“But your tie – ”
“ – goes perfectly with these robes. I know,” he finished for her, completely unaware that she was straightening his tie.
“Right,” she said with a hint of sarcasm that Draco failed to detect. She found it necessary to turn down his collar and brush off a few pieces of lint as well. It was unusual for Draco to not look in the mirror and primp until he looked completely polished. Ginny had dismissed his strange behavior at the pub as being the after effects of a business meeting gone well, but now there was something very odd about her boyfriend.
He offered his arm and escorted her to the rose garden where a table for two was waiting. Dinner had yet to be served, but a slow waltz was playing and he invited Ginny to dance. She expected a quiet, intimate dance since it was just the two of them and the setting was heavily saturated in romance. Instead, he twirled her passionately around the garden at a dizzying speed. She almost lost her shoes, twice.
Dinner arrived and Ginny was grateful to have an excuse to sit down. She loved to dance, but Draco seemed to have an overabundance of energy. He almost appeared manic.
“Draco, are you alright?” she asked for the second time that day.
“I’m more than alright,” he replied, ignorant of the concern in Ginny’s voice. “I’m so in love with you, I think I would stop breathing if I couldn’t have you in my life.”
Draco was not normally one to spout out his feelings at random. It was nice to know the depth of his love, but Ginny was becoming increasingly worried about her boyfriend. “I love you too, Draco. But – ”
“Try the duck. The sauce is magnificent!” he interjected.
She took a bite and her eyes instantly began to water. There was too much pepper in the sauce.
“Delicious, isn’t it,” he said. Ginny politely agreed since Draco appeared to be so insistent that it was the best meal he’d ever had. She thought that the rice was too buttery and the vegetables were soaked in a lemon flavoring that was far too sour for her tastes.
Ginny tried once again to determine the exact nature of Draco’s out of character behavior, but failed when he insisted upon showing her something very special. It was impossible to get a word in edgewise. Ginny was used to his naturally arrogant demeanor, but the arrogance seemed more exaggerated than usual. There was definitely something wrong with him. She sighed heavily and swore that she would haul him to St. Mungo’s for an examination once she was able to get him close to some floo powder and a fireplace.
Draco dragged Ginny to the center of the garden and drew his wand. He began chanting an incantation that Ginny was unfamiliar with. His arms made grandiose gestures and sparks began shooting out the end of his wand. Every time a spark landed, a flame erupted, a fact which Ginny noticed immediately.
“Draco! What in Merlin’s name are you doing?”
He continued to wave his wand around madly and more sparks created more flames. Ginny started putting them out while trying to convince Draco to stop whatever he was doing to cause them. Failing to get his attention properly and no longer able to keep up with putting out the flames as they were created, Ginny resorted to stunning her out-of-control beau.
Draco woke in a hospital bed and found himself sick with dread. He felt quite the opposite of being able to conquer the world. The memory of all his actions while he was on the Felix came flooding back to him much like the memories of a wild, drunken night would return after one was sober. He was burdened with shame and regret, desperately wishing that it had all been a bad dream. If he had access to a mirror, he would have Ava Kedavra’d himself.
“You won’t feel so bad in a couple of hours.”
He couldn’t tell if the sound of Ginny’s voice was a comfort or a reason to feel even worse. At the moment, he would have preferred her brother at his bedside. Ron would have happily ended his existence for him.
“It’s Felix withdrawal. Your mind needs some time to readjust to reality. The Healers said your Over-Confidence levels were off the chart and I told them that your Over-Confidence normally runs a little high anyway,” Ginny joked.
“How did you know it was the Felix?” he croaked.
“Miffy, one of your more intelligent house-elves, found the flask in your coat pocket while she was cleaning. Looked like you drank about two and a half doses which was enough to cause a bit of recklessness, but not quite enough to be highly dangerous or toxic.”
“I guess I should be grateful that I’m not dead,” he said, flatly.
“I’m sure you’re not feeling very grateful at the moment. But I can be grateful enough for the both of us for now. If it helps, you didn’t quite manage to burn down Malfoy Manor, though the rose garden may never be the same.”
Ginny remained by his side until he was discharged from St. Mungo’s. The recovery from the overdose of Felix took less than a day and he was determined to be mentally fit to return to normal life, though the sting of humiliation over his actions would reside for a bit longer. Fortunately (or rather, unfortunately), Draco was growing used to the cataclysmic occurrences that seemed unavoidable when it came to the courting of Ginny Weasley.
As they were about to exit St. Mungo’s Ginny turned to him. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Why the need for Felix Felicis, right?”
Ginny smiled. “No. I wanted to know what that spell was.”
“It was...nothing,” he sighed. “Just a silly trick to impress you. An overdose of Felix causes people to do strange things.”
“And set fire to St. Mungo’s? I don’t think so. Maybe some other time.” Draco was not ready to pick up where he left off in the sequence of events that was supposed to lead to the perfect proposal.
“You won’t set fire to it. Show me,” she insisted again. Draco studied her for a moment. She was calm and comforting with her mere presence. Her tone had an assurance to it that persuaded him to believe that he wouldn’t mess up and to do as she wished. And then he knew that even if he was plagued by catastrophe after catastrophe, as long as he had Ginny, he would cope just fine.
“Alright,” he agreed. He chanted the same incantation, only this time his wand movements were subtle and the sparks that came out of his wand gathered into a small circle that hovered between them. “In the days of ancient wizardry, a circle of fire was symbolic for eternal passion.”
He spoke a second incantation and a small glowing object appeared and hovered right above the ring of fire. It looked like a star that had been plucked from the night sky. “Stars represent enlightenment. Combine them,” he said as he closed his hand around the two objects, “and they represent…”
Draco hesitated. He was just about to show her the ring that replaced the star and the circle of fire in his hand, but the nervous twitch in his belly prevented him. He was unable to breathe.
“They represent love,” Ginny finished for him.
“Right,” he breathed. His eyes were fixed on Ginny’s. The assurance he felt before returned to him. He got down on one knee and took her hand. “Ginny, will you…”
“Yes.” She whispered her answer without letting him finish the question or even show her the ring. All the communication they needed they found in each other’s gaze. He stood and she leaned into him catching his lips with hers. They kissed and embraced and everything was suddenly perfect. Draco placed the ring on her finger, which was charmed to be a portkey, and they were whisked away to the island villa to continue their celebration.
There was no telling exactly how much time had past, but Ginny recalled seeing at least two sunrises from the bedroom window. Draco thought it might have been three. They spent the entire time together in bed, in the shower, or in the kitchen, never quite managing to stay clothed for long. They made love at all hours of the day and night. Very little time was spent talking.
But they had lives to return to and Ginny wished to further explore her engagement present. As Draco showed her the island they chatted.
“You knew I was going to propose, didn’t you?”
Ginny giggled. “Only after I took you to St. Mungo’s. I stopped by the Burrow to pick a few things up and Ron was ranting and raving about your visit. Did you really hug him?”
“Do I really have to admit that?”
“No. But Dad will have a new story to add to his collection of embarrassing moments. I’m sure we’ll hear it at the next Weasley gathering. By the way, I would suggest never using the phrase ‘Not even a herd of Wild Weasleys could stop me’ in front of my brothers ever again. They’ll likely try to test that theory.”
“Remind me to make other plans for the day of the next Weasley gathering.” Draco smirked, then returned to the original subject. “I meant that you knew that I would propose just as we were leaving St. Mungo’s. There was something about you…”
Ginny burst out into another fit of giggles. “I couldn’t let the last part of the Felix Felicis go to waste, now, could I?”
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