This story was written for Ginny (gin0cide) in The DG Forum's Fic Exchange - Summer 2017 by a member of our forum. For more details, please visit our page.

Chapter 1

Ginny Weasley fell out of the fireplace in her best friend's drawing room cursing. Draco Malfoy didn't even look up from the book he was reading. As she picked herself up off the floor and vanished the ash and soot off her clothes, he placed a bookmark into the book and finally looked at her.

"One would think you would have learned how to step out of a floo by now, Weasley."

Ginny glared at him and imitated his snooty accent as she replied, "One would think you would have learned to greet your guests properly by now, Malfoy. Your mother must have missed that lesson while teaching you how to be a world class git."

He laughed while walking over to her and offering his arm to lead her to the dining room. "Slank running you ragged?"

She sighed dramatically as she took his arm and they left the drawing room. "You have no idea. He wants to end the season on a high note at our match next week. The way he talks, you'd never guess that we've won more often than not this season. He's been treating us like first years who've never flown before. It's a good thing we'll be done after the next match, because much more of this and I'd be telling him where he can shove his broomstick."

He smirked as they entered the dining room. "A good thing, indeed."

Draco's mother, Narcissa, stopped speaking with her husband and raised her eyebrow at her son. "What is a good thing, dear?"

Draco waved his hand dismissively as he held Ginny's chair out for her. "Ohh, just that Ginny won't be appearing in front of the Aurors explaining why it is that she's decided to use her captain as her new broom shed."

Distaste crossed Narcissa's face as she watched him sit in his own chair next to Ginny. "Honestly, Draco. That is hardly a suitable topic for the dinner table."

"Of course, Mother, my apologies. How was your day?"

She seemed to wilt a little. "Much the same as it has been. I have not received an invitation to the Patil's ball this year. I begin to despair of ever getting another."

As the Malfoys began a discussion of their low fortunes since the end of the War, Ginny ate her soup as delicately as she could. She hated these formal dinners. It was difficult enough to be around Draco's parents, who had a general disdain for Weasley and their low station, without having to worry about using the correct spoon and not slurping the soup. Her table manners were much improved since she and Draco had started their monthly tradition of eating with each other's families, but they were not second-nature and Ginny was beginning to suspect they might never be. At least Narcissa had thawed a bit in her demeanor. She and Draco danced on the edge of being social pariahs, while Lucius, Draco's father, was truly persona non grata since the trials after the War didn't result in an Azkaban sentence. Narcissa's defection, and Draco's underage status, had earned the family forgiveness for Lucius's war crimes, at least in the eyes of the law. However society was lenient than the law and had taken to shunning the Malfoys. Either Ginny was slowly winning Narcissa over, or she was just growing so desperate for social contact that tolerating the company of a Weasley was preferable to being alone. Ginny was betting on the latter.

As the soup course was taken away and the salad served, Ginny tuned into the conversation in time to catch Narcissa lamenting that she can't throw balls to fix their social problems, as she used to be able to do.

"Why not?" Ginny asked.

Narcissa and Lucius stared at her as if she had just asked why Harry Potter wouldn't be joining them for dinner.

"No one would attend a function thrown by a Malfoy. If they did, they would still find a way to shun us in our own home." Lucius replied with a hint of disgust.

She thought on the problem for a moment. "The second anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts was last month. The Ministry's been on a tear about how we, as a society, need to come together and move forward. What if you worked with them to sponsor some events in order to foster that unity?"
Lucius waved his hand impatiently. "Even with Ministry sponsorship, most people would not attend. They are perfectly happy to take our money in reparation, but to socialize is out of the question."

"What if they didn't know you were - well, you?"

Draco sat forward, looking intrigued. "What do you mean?"

"Well, what about a masquerade ball? If everyone's in costume, it's going to be difficult for people to know who to ignore. The problem is that people are prejudiced against you, and the others who didn't go to Azkaban, because of your choices in the war. I know that you regret those choices, but they don't. And the only reason I know that is because of the time I've spent with you, over many a dinner. So, maybe you need more than one ball. But maybe that's how you can re-integrate. Take away the prejudice and people can get to know who you really are. You can show them you've - well, maybe not changed. You're still a git. But you're a much more tolerable git now than you were in school." She smiled teasingly at Draco.

Draco gave a small smile in return while his mother asked Ginny, "How does it help for people to get to know us if we are wearing masks and they are unaware of who they are speaking to?"

"Well, you would have an unmasking event. Everyone takes off their masks at the same time and sees just who they've been socializing with at these balls."

Narcissa tapped her finger against her lips, lost in thought. "Hm… Yes. Perhaps - the Season. We should have the balls throughout the Season. Every fortnight. The unmasking could occur at the final ball."

Ginny looked confused. "What is the Season? How long is it?"

Narcissa huffed. "The social Season occurs during the summer. All of the prominent families throw balls, teas, and other events in an effort to see and, more importantly, be seen. Much business is conducted during these events and powerful alliances formed. From June to August, the country is ran in the ballrooms of the elite."

"So, six balls?" Ginny asked after taking a moment to figure out the timeline.


"But how would you keep people anonymous after the first ball?"

Narcissa's eyes lost focus as she thought. "I think there may be an old Malfoy family heirloom up in the attics that will take care of that. It was used quite often in the past. I would need to retrieve it."

Lucius and Narcissa shared a silent exchange before Lucius nodded his head. "Ms. Weasley, your idea has merit. We will give it some thought."

Draco looked at Ginny appraisingly. "Yes, it's rather cunning, you know. You're tricking people into socializing with people they wouldn't dream of talking to normally."

"Yes, well, I'm sure that a fair few people would be friends if it weren't for the societal expectations and prejudices getting in the way." She stared pointedly at him. "We're just helping them get past all that."

"Noble motive or not, it's still deception. More and more, I wonder at the accuracy of your Sorting. Good little Gryffindors don't usually deceive people into friendship - or use innocent bystanders' own bogies against them."

Ginny snorted. "Yes, well, I'm sure big scary Slytherins don't usually throw costume balls to make friends. Or run scared from their own bogies."

Draco sputtered, "I did not -"

Ginny interrupted him, looking at the clock on the mantle. "Bugger! Is that the time?" She stood up and placed her napkin on the table. "Excuse me, Mr. Malfoy, Mrs. Malfoy, but I need to be going. Early practice in the morning." She hurried to the door, throwing "I'll floo you later, Draco," over her shoulder as she left.

Ginny's Prompt #3

Basic premise: Being fortunate enough to keep their wealth post war, the Malfoys try desperately to become major patrons of the new world order. And this involves throwing an excessive amounts of balls.

Must haves: Post-war, fancy robes, and a desperate undertone in Malfoy family dynamics.

No-no's: Overly snobby Malfoys. They're disgraced, after all.

Rating range: any

Bonus points: masquerade