Disclaimer: I own nothing. Obviously.
AN: This fic was written for idreamofdraco for the DG Forum's 2015 Fic Exchange – her marvellous prompt is at the end of this chapter. As this was written for an exchange, the story is fully completed, and I will be posting the four chapters over the next few weeks for your viewing pleasure.
This story was the winner of Most In Need of a Sequel, and I offer my most humble gratitude to those who enjoyed my story enough to vote, particularly as this is my first award win in an exchange! I also apologise that no sequel is forthcoming at this precise moment in time – but never say never. ;)
Thank you to my sister, Hannah Askance and idreamofdraco for your various beta services throughout and following the exchange. Further thanks to idreamofdraco for creating a banner for my award win (feel free to check this out over at FIA, where the story will also be posted), and subsequent thanks to xMarinx for creating the artwork commissioned by idreamofdraco way-back-when.
The Malfoy Inquisition
"Excuse me miss, is this seat taken?"
"Yes," Ginny replied curtly, her gaze not breaking from the scene she was examining across the road from behind tinted glasses, her battered old quill making a steady path across her parchment as she continued her notes.
She didn't bother to see if the stranger left, but she assumed that must have been the case since no one disturbed her again. Instead, she shifted to get more comfortable at the small table in front of a cafe in Diagon Alley and continued to study her target. She was confident she wouldn't be recognised – the disguise charms she'd cast made sure of that – so she could sit here for hours in virtual anonymity if she liked. It was a good thing, too, since she was sure that her target could recognise her from a mile away.
Glancing over her notes on her target's movements, she wondered how things had come to this. When she'd first opened her own Private Investigation business after a brief stint as an Auror, she'd thought her job would be so much better – not necessarily more glamorous, but certainly more interesting. Instead, she seemed to spend all of her time investigating affairs, stalking people's spouses. Thinking herself a serious investigator at the time, she'd refused the cases at first, but when she realised that the opportunities for a new, lone PI were so limited, she'd reluctantly taken on one after another. The fact she was currently investigating Astoria Greengrass's partner was bittersweet.
She eyed her nemesis slash ex-colleague, the focus of Astoria's attentions and speculation, as he browsed about the antique jeweller's across the road. She couldn't help her snort at the shop assistants literally tripping over each other to present trays of extravagant trinkets to Draco Malfoy, who remained stoic in spite of their antics.
Lack of human emotion – Sociopath? she scribbled in the margin of her notes, then took a sip of her nearly cold tea.
She'd been investigating Draco for weeks now, and he hadn't slipped up once. While it made her all the more determined to catch him out – it was Draco Malfoy after all, Master of All Things Devious and Perpetually Up-To-No-Good – it made for mind-numbingly boring work. When he wasn't at the family business, conning other rich people into handing over their Galleons, he did the most tedious things! Ginny had sat at a playground for over three hours earlier in the week while he wasted time at a nearby bookstore, only for him to leave empty-handed. Aside from the wicked sunburn that that had gotten her, she'd also spent the time being harassed by mothers who wanted to make small talk about which child she owned – and why was she there if she didn't have one? To be honest, she'd almost been tempted to claim Draco as her over-grown man-child, if only to get them off her back.
Now, Ginny perked up instantly when she saw Draco move to exit the store, an unassuming package tucked against his side, and she didn't miss his sly perusal of the street as he stood on the stoop; he was definitely up to something suspicious. She slowly sipped at her definitely cold tea, not looking at him directly or drawing attention to herself with any obvious movement, and when he headed off she made a quick note to confirm his purchase before gathering her things and following him.
He made his way down Diagon Alley at a brisk pace, and she carefully tailed him at a safe distance, a little out of breath matching his long stride. When he passed a stack of fliers magically passing themselves out to passersby in front of Fortescue's and picked several up, she grabbed one and stuffed it in her pocket for later perusal. In her days tracking him, he'd never taken an overt interest in anything so common before, and Ginny's curiosity flared over exactly what was so special about the leaflet – maybe there was more to this case than Draco Malfoy's infidelity?
Before she could give her intriguing revelation more thought, Draco had entered the passage to the Leaky Cauldron, and she took off at a run so as not to lose him.
At the end of her predictably dull afternoon following Draco about London, Ginny returned to her office to compile her notes and go over the scroll she'd charmed to update as Draco penciled appointments into his diary – and really, she thought she should thank him for keeping one. Cases were so much more time-consuming when people weren't meticulous at keeping their appointments, and Draco hadn't been a minute late to one yet.
Ignoring the stack of letters Astoria had sent her throughout the day requesting updates, she sat behind her desk with Draco's file and began to transcribe her handwritten notes on her typewriter. Once she'd finished, she began to flip through today's edition of The Prophet looking for mentions of Malfoy, and was unsurprised to see a number of articles that fit her brief.
There were the usual public interest articles regarding the Malfoy's latest business acquisitions and the company's donations to some well-known charities. These were clipped and added to Draco's file before she turned to the back of the paper to pull today's "Wizarding World's Most Eligible Bachelor" article. If Ginny had ever wondered how many times a newspaper could republish variations of an article within the space of a week, she knew the answer now: five, if you counted Monday's article about the hottest up-and-coming robe trends for men, for which she was sure the 'robe trends' were appropriated according to whatever the "Most Eligible Bachelor" had been wearing in their most current file photograph.
Rolling her eyes at the thought, she made sure to note what high-profile events Malfoy had been sighted at, with whom, and if there were any mentions of after-parties that required further investigation. So essentially, he'd been sighted nowhere interesting, apart from the occasional lunch meeting with Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott, and hadn't done anything out of the ordinary, excluding a trip to The Leaky Cauldron earlier in the week to briefly meet Miss Greengrass herself, that had sparked an article about his "impending alcohol addiction." In short: Draco hadn't done a thing to help Ginny wrap this case up any faster.
Leaning back in her chair and flipping idly through Draco's case file, she wondered why Draco had transformed his lifestyle so drastically in such a short space of time. Only three months prior he'd been more than living up to his title as Bachelor of the Year, and Ginny supposed that he might be exercising caution if Astoria's suspicions of his infidelity were correct – except the fact his changes were so extreme gave her doubts about that...
Loud footsteps from outside her office interrupted her musings – a shadow appeared behind the frosted glass panel of her door, and Astoria Greengrass herself stormed into the room in a huff of silk and chiffon. Ginny made a mental note to look into hiring a receptionist first thing tomorrow.
"Miss Weasley," Astoria said, by way of greeting, as she dropped into the spare armchair in front of Ginny's desk and made herself comfortable. "You haven't replied to any of my letters since yesterday."
"Hello, Miss Greengrass," Ginny replied curtly as she snapped her files shut and put them to one side, feeling a sadistic sort of pleasure in the way Astoria flinched at her title – or perhaps more specifically by the fact she was not yet Mrs Malfoy. "I thought I made it clear yesterday that I would owl you once I had a significant development in the case."
Astoria huffed. "And I thought I made it clear that you are in my employ, and will answer my questions."
Ginny raised a brow as she opened a drawer and pulled Astoria's letters from the previous day, then glanced over them. "I fail to see what relevance his correspondence with his mother might have to the investigation," she commented dryly, choosing to tackle one of the less confounding demands.
Astoria had the grace to blush, but dutifully maintained her holier-than-thou attitude. "Your opinion is irrelevant," she snapped, then leant forwards to examine her reflection in the metal nameplate on the front of Ginny's desk. "I don't pay you to think. I need those letters."
"Why?" Ginny asked, genuinely curious.
"If you must know, I need to see if she's mentioned me to him."
Ginny watched Astoria, alarms going off in her head as the blonde carefully smoothed the edges of her red lipstick with her little finger. She'd taken enough of these cases on to know that this was not a normal request – investigating discussions with a loved one regarding another woman wasn't out of the realm of possibility, but regarding the client themselves? Certainly not. "Any recovery of private documents will cost extra."
Astoria continued to study her reflection but wrinkled her nose, as the very rich always seemed to do at the mention of money. "Fine," she said tartly, then rose from her chair smoothly. "Get me those letters, and be sure to send me an update of Draco's schedule first thing tomorrow." Then, as quickly as she'd appeared, she was gone again.
Ginny rolled her eyes as she leant back in her chair, wondering what the hell she'd gotten herself into. Astoria had another thing coming if she thought that Ginny was going to hand over Draco's appointment book; the letters she'd attempt to track down for the sake of pacifying the crazy witch, but she'd be damned if she let Astoria ruin the case by turning up out of nowhere and spooking Malfoy. Ginny might not be enthusiastic about taking on this type of work, but she took more than a little pride in her profession.
Resolved to wrap up the case as soon as possible, she pulled out her enchanted scroll to check Draco's appointments. While ink slowly curled across the parchment in Draco's freakishly neat script, Ginny stood to make a cup of tea, and her hand absently tucked into her pocket as she sipped from her mug – only to curl around a folded piece of paper. The flyer, she realised, pulling out the forgotten item to take a better look.
Find your perfect match at Wizarding London's leading Singles Event!
The Leaky Cauldron
A beat passed, and Ginny dropped back into her desk chair, stunned. "Well," she said aloud.
She wasn't entirely sure how long she sat staring at the thing, wondering if she'd managed to pick up the wrong flyer, but it wasn't difficult for her to come up with a slew of explanations why on earth Draco would have taken one. There was no way that Draco Malfoy would attend something so common as speed dating, and besides, people who cheated didn't tend to be so criminally moronic so as to attend an obviously public dating event.
Ginny had successfully convinced herself that she'd made a mistake, when she happened to glance at Draco's appointment book, where 'The Leaky Cauldron' was neatly penciled in at 8pm, the next evening.
The relief that she wasn't utterly incompetent as a detective was quickly overtaken by the realization that Draco Malfoy really was desperate and stupid. The reality of the thought was more difficult for her to process than she might have imagined.
Clearly she needed to dig a little deeper on this one.
The next morning, Ginny slid onto a bar stool in the main area of the Leaky Cauldron, and smiled at the witch who came to take her order.
"A little early for you, isn't it?" the bartender asked as she wiped down the counter briskly.
"It's good to see you, too," Ginny responded with a warm smile for the newly appointed landlady of The Leaky Cauldron, Hannah Abbott. "How's business?"
"About usual," Hannah replied with a small smile, her gaze sweeping across the nearly-empty room, while she tucked the cloth into her apron. "What can I get for you?"
"A peppermint tea, please."
Hannah set about filling Ginny's order, and Ginny eyed the posters hanging up above the bar advertising various events happening at the pub. "Wizarding London's leading singles event, is it?" Ginny asked, lifting her chin towards the ominous-looking Speed Dating poster, freshly hung on the wall.
Hannah's cheeks flushed. "Well, mine is the only event, so it's not an unreasonable claim." She placed a steaming teacup in front of Ginny, then grinned at her. "Are you interested in attending tonight? We have some tickets left."
Ginny tilted her head, feigning thoughtfulness. "Maybe... It could be fun."
"Oh, you should – and bring some friends, if you can!" The blonde turned to the back counter and retrieved some parchment and a quill, chattering enthusiastically. "Sign-up is one Galleon thirteen Sickles, or two Galleons eleven at the door, and your first two drinks are free."
Ginny smiled back, wondering what she'd just gotten herself into, then took her time fishing coins from her purse as she let her eyes wander over the sign-up sheet. Draco's neatly printed script jumped out at her from the bottom of the list, and when she scribbled her own name almost illegibly underneath it, it felt like an act of defiance.
It probably wasn't the best idea to meet her target face-to-face like this, but Ginny thought the event would be benign enough not to stir up too much suspicion on Draco's part – besides, the sooner she closed this case and got Astoria out of her hair, the better.
"I'd best go and rally the troops, then," Ginny said to Hannah brightly, and Hannah beamed back at her. "See you at eight."
Ginny headed back into Diagon Alley and straight to her office, contemplating how she would play the evening as she went. It probably wouldn't be too suspicious turning up to a singles event on her own, but she couldn't help but feel the need to have a tight cover story – just in case.
Jessica's Prompt #2
Basic premise: Ginny gets dragged into going speed dating. Maybe her friend is the one who wants to go and she/he begs for Ginny's moral support. Maybe Ginny is still hung up over a previous relationship. Whatever the reason, she is reluctant to go and her friend/s force her to give it a try. Unfortunately, at some point she gets paired up with Draco Malfoy.
Must haves: At least two awful dates before Draco gets rotated to Ginny.
No-no's: Non-con. Obviously, Draco and Ginny in relationships with other people. (It's okay if you mention that they were with people previously, but at the time of the story, they should be single.) NO NICKNAMES: no Ferret, Weaselette, or Mione.
Rating range: Any!
Bonus points: If Ginny gets paired with a decent guy who turns out to be awful when they go on a real date. If Draco and Ginny have a one-night stand after the speed dating event. If Draco purposefully switches seats with people so that he can keep getting paired up with Ginny. If there is a surprise reason Draco is attending the event.