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Chapter I:



The silver hilt of the dagger shined in the dust-filled rays of sunlight drifting through the one window in the small Ministry office.

"Well Gin. It looks pretty dark and evil," said Colin Creevey, a mousy twenty-year-old photographer. He was shifting in his uncomfortable chair in-front of her desk.

The scarlet haired girl lightly slid the mirror like blade across the palm of her hand. She felt nothing. Not cold, not empty, not pain. Nothing.

"Well," Ginny Weasley sighed. "It's either a very nice, very expensive, very old, and very rare piece of weaponry, that consequently was confiscated from a death eater or..." Ginny Weasley's voice trailed off as she gripped the hilt of the blade tighter. Her fingers clasped so firmly she might have been chocking it.

"Or what?" squeaked Colin. His mouse like features filled with less than concern.

"Or I've lost the only contribution I make to this Ministry," answered Ginny sitting down in her oversized and overstuffed red desk chair. It was old had holes and tears, but it was comfortable. Her father had given it to her from his office upstairs. It was more than comfortable, it was homelike and helped with her usual foul moods.

"Ginny, please," begged Colin. His usual high-pitched voice, brought down an octave. "You feel so sorry for yourself all the time."

He stood up to stretch his short legs and cast an occasional glance at the harmless artifacts overwhelming the tiny office. Ginny was one of three in her small department, and the Ministry had given them an even smaller office to work in. His dark brown eyes drifted back to her taking in her state. She looked so dampened, so worn thin.

"I'm bored," he announced. "C'mon, let's go out for drinks. My treat."

"Colin Alan Creevey, it's three-o'clock in the afternoon! Do you honestly believe that they would just let me leave in the middle of the day, because my puffy best friend decided he wants to get pissed?" Ginny asked through narrowed eyes.

Colin looked unaffected by Ginny's outburst and stern look. His light brown hair was tucked securely behind his ears, and his slightly large front teeth were shown in his smile. The vest he wore was dark- olive in colour, with too many re-sewn pockets. It was faded, worn, torn, and patched up but like her chair it fit Colin. His inseparable black camera, slung freely from his neck.

"Honestly?" Colin asked mockingly. "Yes, I do."

"Don't make fun of me, Colin," she said her bright brown eyes falling back to the item she was holding. Her grip loosening as she carefully set it on her desk.

"I've got enough to worry about. This is the second time I can't feel anything. Nothing." She sat back sighing a bit. "What if it happened? What if I lost it? Dumbledore said it could happen."

"Listen Gin, you can't make yourself feel something that's not there," he broke in, his voice softened.

"Like love, eh?" Ginny said. She smiled dully at him.

"I guess," he answered slightly baffled at Ginny's question. "Anyway, if you have lost it then good." Ginny's eyes narrowed even further on his. Was Colin glad that she had lost her only use to the Ministry? Her only job. Her only means of support.

"Don't look at me like that." He argued, as if he had read her thoughts. "What I mean is you can travel with me. Like an assistant or something." His voice took a conspiring tone, "We can get pissed and take advantage of pretty boys. In places like: Paris, Dublin, New York, Japan."

"Milan?" Ginny asked dreamily, her chin falling to her folded hands on her dark desk. She had always wanted to visit Milan.

"Yes, Milan," repeated Colin. "Buggar," he murmured to himself as his face fell.

"What's wrong Creevey?" Ginny asked. Her voice speaking as if to a baby. Sitting back up she took hold of the dagger and turn it end over end in her hands. "Scared Gin-bug will take away all your adoring ickle fan-boys?"

"That would never happen," Colin replied matter-of-factly. "No, I'm supposed to be in Milan, right now! Doing a reshoot for Gina. That's why I was here in the first place, to take a portkey."

"Are you going to be home for dinner?" Ginny asked her voice holding no disappointment. She was used to Colin's business trips and was joyed at the prospect of having the flat to herself.

"Probably not, love. Don't wait up either," Colin said. He picked his faux black leather camera bag from beside his chair and made his way around her dark pine desk. He kissed the mound of red waves that enveloped her before leaving the office.

"Wouldn't dream of it," called Ginny as Colin exited her small relic filled office. Her eyes and concentration never wavering from the green gemmed knife.

~*~*~*~

Ginny stood staring at the dagger her pale hands wrapped gracefully around the hilt. Colin had left her office three hours ago and she desperately wanted to play with her new "toy". At least this toy didn't give her, cranial-splitting migraines, hypothermic shock, or unbearable waves of nausea. She swung it through the air, imitating an Amazon warrior she had seen in a book once. Scrapping her worn out white tennis shoes, across the floor less elegantly than the depicted war mistress. Ginny's long yellow skirt swishing as she ducked an imaginary Greek solider's sword.

She had always found sword fighting on par with the ballet, less of a sport and more of a finely honed art. However, those were arts for the rich and being a Weasley you weren't given such luxuries. She stabbed into the air, as her foot contacted a slightly loose floor board. In the next instance, she was lying painfully on her back.

"Well, have we been trainin?" A soft Celtic accent laughed from above her. "Ready to go to war, are we? Defen' the land of your people."

"Seamus Finnigan have you forgotten how to knock?" her voice held a sliver of anger. She felt the all too familiar blush creep quickly into her cheeks, as she slowly stood up.

"Sorry."

"No, I'm sorry," she said regrettably and put the blade on her desk. "It's just you gave me a terrible fright." Ginny forced her eyes to meet his face and felt even more annoyance at the suppressed smile he wore."Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yes," answered Seamus. His crystal blue eyes following her progress to her seat. "Your brother ordered me to give you this." He handed her a letter. Percy's red seal burning on the colorless envelope. "And I was wondering if your not busy later." Seamus found his voice trailing off, as Ginny's eyes scanned over the letter. Her lips briefly parting as she pronounced each word silently. She always seemed a bit too intense when it came to the Ministry.

"Oh, never mind," he said defeated.

"What did you say?" Ginny looked up to an empty office and shook her head. Seamus was always disappearing. 'The boy was a bit of a mystery, really.' Ginny thought. 'A loud obnoxious mystery.'

However, her attention found the letter in her hands again.

To: Miss. V. Weasley

From: Mr. P. Weasley

Memo: I understand artifact: CT # 13075 has been in your possession for some time. I will need you to bring it to my office, as it is needed as evidence in the trial and prosecution of one Mr. N. Bates. If you would please come personally by my office, as we have other matters to discuss.

Thank you,

Mr. P. Weasley


Ginny groaned walking past her coworkers matching pine desks. She knew the catalogue number too well. The artifact in question had left her retching for a week after she had made bare skin contact. She lost five pounds in the process.

From eyesight alone it looked like another beautiful necklace. The set sapphires, as clear and blue as her brother's eyes. The thin soft golden chain holding them, consistently shining.

Underneath and undetected, simply touching the necklace could be fatal. Wearing it slowly and painfully, slowed your heart down, to it's last beat. Mr. Bates had been selling the item and it's brother made of rubies, in his shop for years. Stealing it back from his patron's after their untimely deaths.

Ginny put on her required marigold yellow gloves. She was in no mood to experience the darkness that seemed to overwhelm her every time she touched an object that had been tainted by dark wizardry. After the diary incident in her first year she had developed a bit of a sixth sense, but in her fifth year she discovered she had the ability to actually feel when dark magic had been applied to an object by simply making skin contact. In the worst cases she had to relive and share the feelings of it's last victim.

She went to one of the four ceiling to floor wooden cabinets, used her wand and muttered the password. The large oak doors opened up. The necklace was sitting in it's glass case completely harmless, surrounded by other seemingly harmless objects.

"Well, off you go," said Ginny pulling the glass container from it's home.

~*~*~*~

"Are you sure it's authentic?" asked a smooth drawling voice.

"Yes, quite sure sir," replied, Mr. Roberts, the balding curator, who was studying the young pale haired man before him.

"Quite sure isn't much of an answer. Now is it?" the young man countered. His corresponding pale eyes, dissecting the yellowed parchment.

"Absolutely sure, Mr. Malfoy," answered Mr. Roberts with false confidence. He was giving his buyer a very coerced smile.

"Well, Mr. Roberts. For your sake, I hope you're right," he said, his slender fingers touching the parchment's glass casing.

"You could always have it looked over. That would be wise." He dusted the dark cherry lined frame with a white cotton handkerchief. They were in a special storage room, in a muggle museum. A sort of common ground for him and his pointy faced, steely-eyed patron.

"Wise, indeed," the young man smirked. "Let us assume that I do purchase this map piece from you, Mr. Roberts." He straightened, smoothing the soft charcoal colored material of his suit coat. "I have it looked over but it's discovered to be a counterfeit, or worse spoiled by the touch of a dark wizard."

Mr. Robert's jaw flinched involuntarily. He could feel sweat forming on his gray balding head and brow.

"Mr. Roberts you wouldn't want to be selling me something like that. Now would you? My father would be very disappointed. The ministry would be outraged. I'd have no choice but to tell them exactly, where and who I bought it from."

"Mr. Malfoy."

"Mr. Roberts," he continued ignoring the older man. "You do know the ministry doesn't look kindly on the selling of artifacts. Especially artifacts from such a notable museum and being bartered from such a trusted curator."

"Mr. Malfoy!" yelled Mr. Roberts. He was beginning to grow uneasy and impatient with their correspondence. "If you're implying something. I would really rather we have it out. This," he indicated to the framed objected. "Was from my father. The sole piece of my inheritance. Now my questions is: Are you interested? If not, I am sure I can take my piece of... art somewhere else. I have had a number of buyers lined up for weeks. Who would all be glad to take it off my hands." Mr. Roberts felt the cumulating beads of sweat run from his neck down his spine, at the young mans icy glare.

He looked so much like his father at that age, if not better looking. The same grace in their step, the same porcelain skin, the same chilly demeanor. 'But that doesn't help Lucius now. Not where he is,' thought Mr. Roberts, bitterly.

"No one likes a bad liar, Mr. Roberts. That's something my father taught me," said Draco Malfoy. He threw a heavy black bag at the man. It fell to the floor with the distinct clink of coins bounding off each other."I know you have no other buyers but I'm going buying it from you anyway."

Mr. Roberts let out a breath that he hadn't known he was holding. He quickly snatched the velvet bag from the ground. Spilling the golden coins out onto the palm of his chubby hand.

"Why?" he asked before berating himself for his curiosity.

"I want it," Draco smirked picking the frame up from it place. "Nice doing business with you, Mr. Roberts. Trust me. I will have it looked over and come back to see how you're surviving without it."

Mr. Roberts watched relieved, as the slender young man walked out of his museum. He swore to himself this was the last time he did business with the Malfoys.

~*~*~*~

"Percy, you can't be serious. I can't. I won't!" Ginny strained. Her voice coming back to her off her brother's office walls.

"Yes, you will Virgina." He said rising from his seat using his full height as leverage in their upcoming row.

"Virgina look," he stated looking at his sisters tensed face. Her round cheeks pink with anger, her arms crossed over her chest, and her deep brown eyes narrowed. "Do you like your department?"

"Yes," she replied flatly.

"And what is your department in desperate need of?"

"Money," Ginny sighed. Her eyes looking down to the pale yellow skirt she was wearing. Percy knew Ginny was close to breaking when she broke eye-contact.

"And what are the Malfoy's famous for?"

"Being evil-cold-blooded-blonde-butt kissing-bigots, with You-Know-Who shoved up their ars..."

"Ginny!" Percy cut her off. The impatience and anger apparent in his voice. "I want to work with him about as much as you do but we don't have a choice."

"No!" yelled Ginny, pushing a finger into her chest. "I don't have a choice."

"Then Malfoy, will be expecting you at half past two tomorrow evening." Percy smiled as he watched Ginny's face fall into defeat.

Draco Malfoy had owled him early in the evening looking for a unique authenticator that only the Ministry held a department for and Ginny was the best at what her department did.

Percy had long ago arranged a system. People from Ginny's and other unique departments would inspect someone's personal objects, outside of the usual loot from a deatheater raid, for a large fee.

He looked to his youngest sibling and could feel her apprehension.

"Look Gin," he said giving her as brotherly smile as he could muster. He slid his horn-rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose. "He's willing to pay a lot and honestly your department could use the Galleons."

"Fine," she sighed positively defeated. "Fine, I'll do it. But, you know just walking into that place, might kill me. I just want to make that clear."

"You're so dramatic," said Percy, his brown eyes slitting, causing him to look oddly like their mother. "He'll be expecting you at half past two." He handed her another slip of paper, before sitting back into his shiny brown desk chair.

"Instructions on how to get there," he explained. "Read them CAREFULLY and PAY attention, because you can't just apparate."

"Half past two," echoed Ginny. She turned on her heel and stormed out of her older brother's office.