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.
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