Disclaimer: I own nothing! Nada! Zero!

A/N* Yes, it's another D/G! What better ship to write? I won't be updating this fic quite as fast as I did with the other one once September (and school) starts, so bear with me.

Chapter 1. Stroke of Midnight

"Have we a deal?"

It felt so very odd to be sitting in Malfoy's parlor, sipping Malfoy's tea and speaking-yes, civilized conversation-with Malfoy's wife. Pansy didn't see to recognize her however, and the relief that washed over Ginny Weasley upon reailzing this was truly indescripable. Lacing her long fingers through the delicate porcelain of her teacup, she squeezed her eyes shut to ponder.

"It's a large task, Lady Malfoy," Ginny replied finally.

"And I'm paying a large amount of money," Pansy's voice was blunt, direct, and without emotion. Much like her husband, Ginny thought wryly, wrinking her nose at the image of Draco. Remembering her days spent at Hogwarts avoiding the Slytherins only increased the bubble of distaste threatening to implode in her stomach.

"50 million galleons," she whispered.

"Listen," Pansy said matter-of-factly, setting her cup down with practiced ease. She was an elegant woman, one of a cultured and dignified upbringing, one who understood the importance of reputation, of appearance, even if illegitamate. "I know you need the money, Miss-" She paused, cocking her head at Ginny curiously. "Did I not catch your name?"

"I think in cases like ours, it would be better that you didn't," Ginny said as courteously as possible.

The blonde frowned, and for a moment Ginny was afraid that she had displeased her last and most desparate source of money, but then the lines in her well-done face relaxed into a smile that had never appeared during her younger years. "I do understand why you would feel that way," Pansy said congenially. "I presume then you haven't done something like this before?"

"Of course not," Ginny replied, attempting to force the indignation out of her voice but failing with a vengeance.

"Mm," Pansy remarked, "Well, as I've learned, not many people are willing to do things like these in this day and age, you know."

"Not many people request things like these in this day and age," Ginny retorted a bit acidly.

"You're right," Pansy agreed, catching Ginny by surprise. "So as I was saying before, I believe the two of us cuold really benefit each other. I need the favor, you need the money, and I can supply you with the money."

"The money is for my father," Ginny said stiffly.

"The point is," Pansy went on, "We both get what we want, so we might as well just sign the contract now. Or is the sum not quite enough for you?"

"It's not that I need more money," Ginny sighed, "It's just a matter of-of morals. Ethics, values, that sort of thing."

The grin that appeared on Pansy's lips rendered her much more like the conniving Slytherin Ginny had known and loathed. "As you can see," she chuckled humorlessly, "Never had much of those myself. Never missed them, either. Sometimes you need to do to make do, lie to make truth, and if you don't tell yourself that your integrity is being compromised, it never really is."

"I think the whores on the streets could say the same," Ginny said.

"My dear, this isn't prostitution, not by a far stretch," Pansy pointed out patiently, regarding her with a mixture of ubiquitous amusement and frustration.

Ginny swallowed. "The concepts are awfully close though, if you ask me."

"Certainly not," Pansy dismissed. "The only person who can form a concept is you. You want to know what your problem is?"

"What," Ginny said warily.

"You don't understand that what this world sees isn't always what you see," Pansy said. "Some things turn out to be only you make them to be, nothing more, nothing less. So you can either look at this as a sacrifice of everything you stand for, or you can look at it as a logical, pragmatic way to achieve your money for whatever reasons you may need it for. Certainly there are other ways out there, but I'm here, and I'm offering you 50 million galleons which is more than an affable number, and you know that or you wouldn't be sitting across from me this moment."

"I have deadlines," Ginny responded.

Pansy snorted, leaning back and tapping her ivory cheek with a perfectly manicured finger. "And as we've discussed earlier, so do I."

Ginny met her eyes, recalling how brainless Pansy had always seemed back at school. Maybe it was marriage, maybe it was that she'd simply matured; either way, Ginny had to hand it to her: the woman was cunning. Heartless and decieving, perhaps, and bloody irritating even after two years, but utterly sly. She knew which buttons to push and she had the principles-or there lack of-to reach out and do exactly that.

"So have we a deal?" Pansy repeated.

"On one condition."


The house was magnificent.

Ginny glanced down at the slip of paper in her hand, squinting to read the address Pansy had printed in her loopy cursive. It certainly seemed the right house, what with it's raucous music and abundance of lights, but in wealthy neighborhoods like these, she felt more confident being absolutely sure.

Despite the richely made ballgown Pansy had so cordially lent her, Ginny was intimidated by this crowd, with their money and time to spare, throwing gatherings like these. She handed Pansy's invitation to the doorman with more surreptitiousness than intended, holding her breath and praying he'd never met the real Lady Malfoy. He gave a polite nod, and she moved to leave.

"Wait," the doorman called suddenly. "You can't go in there." Ginny froze, and he added, "Well, not like that, anyways."

"Not like what?" Ginny asked, sounding more confused than insulted.

"This is a masked ball," he explained, pointing to the invitation. He fished around in the trunk behind him and retrieved a feathered mask nearly the same shade as her borrowed dress. To her delight, it was large enough to cover all but her eyes and lips, and Ginny realized that she'd failed to cover the element of disguise.

Graciously and wordlessly, she slipped it over her thick red hair, hair that had always been long and curly but was tonight, for a change, smooth as silk. "Thank you," She said in a composed voice.

"Compliments of the house," he smiled.

Her mask securely in place, Ginny was safe to admire the rest of the house, her awestruck gaze trailing over the grand stairs and the countless couples wandering about. She stood awkwardly for a few minutes, unsure of what to do-well, more frankly, who to do. There were many men here tonight, most of them probably willing, who could easily help her fulfill her end of the bargain.

If Ron could have seen her this particular evening, Ginny doubted that even her brother would've been able to recognize her. For one, the corset of her old-fashioned gown pinched like no other. She wasn't overweight or anything like that, but she hadn't worked relentlessly on toning her stomach like Pansy, either, and thus possessed a tad more in the area to be squished flat. Consequently, she also had less to push up through the deep neckline, but not much less and she felt very much naked under the lustful stare of a passing man who was obviously drunk.

And her hair-it was her first time introduced to a professional straightener, and Ginny was really starting to enjoy the light strands of copper red that for once wasn't inches above her head. The miracles of modern beauty, she thought happily, momentarily forgetting the hours she'd had to endure for this achievement to be permanent.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" A voice behind her said. Ginny turned to see a dark- haired wizard, his blue eyes merry behind his mask, offering her a small shot of vodka.

She took it graciously, flashing him what she hoped to be a coquettish smile. "Marvelous," she agreed with a throaty laugh, and downed the entire glass. Looking around at this crowd she'd never run with, Ginny knew the alchohol would come in handy. She eyed the man from under a sheath of dark lashes, and the evening suddenly improved. Not even ten minutes into this party, she congratulated herself, and already I've found a someone tall, dark and handsome.

His eyes widened, no doubt impressed. "You know, I always did like to hear compliments," he chuckled, "It's my house."

Inwardly, she smiled. Even better, he's wealthy as hell, she thought, though taking another observation at the jovial guests she would estimate each one to live just as lavishly, if not more. "Then perhaps I spoke too soon," she replied tartly, winking at him and almost abashed at her own courage.

"Feisty, aren't we?" he said huskily, offering his hand. "I'm Marcus. Marcus Flint. But you knew that already."

Ginny nearly spit out the wine, trying her best not to blanch at his name. She rememebered Marcus Flint all too well, Slytherin captain of the quidditch team back at Hogwarts when she'd been young, and a completely slimeball. He was rather different now, having grown actual teeth-and they weren't brown, either, but she still shuddered at the thought that she'd considered him as a possible candidate. She promised herself then that whichever man she ended up choosing, she'd not ask his name, nor would she look at his true face.

"Um, pleasure to meet you, sir," Ginny choked out.

"You know," Flint said, oblivious to her discomfort, "We haven't done a masquerade ball in a while, but my house, er, excuse me, my mansion, is just perfect for one."

He watched her with smug eyes, waiting for her prompt to ask why. "Do explain," she coughed feebly.

"There are two dance halls in this mansion," he said, pride evident in every note, "The first one is to your left, and in there you rotate partners every fifteen minutes, until you find the right one, of course."

"And the second?" She was curious now.

"I'm getting to that," Flint was a bit irked at her interruption. "Once you find the person you want to dance with, the two of you move to the second hall, where you'll dance until you're allowed to remove the masks."

"When's that?" Ginny blurted out, distinctly aware that she was greatly ignorant to the traditions exhibited by the "upper class."

Flint sent her a look of disbelief. "At the sound of the midnight bell," he replied as if it were common knowledge even to toddlers. "My gods, one would think this was your first masquerade."

"Don't be silly," she mustered with a small titter, trying to feel less like a blithering idiot.

"So," he inched closer, and she held back a disgusted yelp. "Do tell me your name."

One of the waiters passed with a glittering tray of small champagne glasses, and Ginny's arm shot out to snatch one, gulping it down to buy her some time. "Don't think it matters," she finally winked. "What matters is that we shimmy on over to the ballroom and dance up a storm, don't you think?"

He seemed to be appeased with her ostentatious flirting efforts, and offered an arm gentlemanly. "Best idea all night," Flint said cheerfully. With a sigh of relief, Ginny followed suit, sure she would find an appropriate man before the long night was over.

Eight dances and two hours later, however, her exuberant confidence was beginning to wane severely. The first man had been an oaf-bloddy clumsy and crude to the tongue, though rather handsome, at least the part of him she could see. He would've done, as Ginny wasn't exceptionally picky especially considering the task, but the night was young then and what dignity she had left hopeful yet.

The second man wasn't much of an improvement, and what's more he was stout, perhaps in his thrities, and not quite hitting the five foot mark. The third had no respect for personal hygiene, the fourth gave Ginny uneasy suspicions that she was dancing with none other than Vincent Crabbe, and the others so horrid it pained her to recall them. By the time she had disentangled herself from the octupus that was her sixth partner, the first man had long disappeared.

Her feet ached and she trudged wearily to her new partner, almost afraid to be disappointed again. His palm was dry and smooth, making herself- conscious of her own clammy hands. With some resignation, she glanced up at him. Needless to say, when her gaze was met with inquisitive silver eyes, her stomach turned over in pleasant surprise. Physically, she had no complaints about this man; he was well over the six foot mark, slender but still muscled, with hair fine and skin fair, and his feet gracefully agile.

The man spun her around. "You know, I usually don't go to places like these," he said, his breath tickling her ear. "The idea of searching for a partner is rather unclassy."

Something about his voice sounded oddly familiar, and Ginny frowned. Hell, something about this man gave her a strange feeling, a sense of déja vu almost, that had nothing to do with the funny little nerves her heart was pumping to other nameless anatomies. For a second, she was tempted to ask his name, certain they'd met previously. But she shook off the feeling and chalked it up to paranoia, asking, "Then why are you here?"

"Business," he said simply, pulling her close. "And you?"

"I guess you could say business," Ginny replied.

"And is that all?"

She tilted her head in question. "What?"

"You said that like there were multiple reasons for your presence tonight," he explained. "It lead me to think there were other explanations."

Ginny hesitated. "Well, the idea of a masquerade attracts me," she said. "The pretense of disguise."

"May I ask why that is?"

"When you're under disguise," Ginny responded, "You can say what you want, do what you want, be what you want. And in the morning, everything is normal again. You haven't broken any rules, and whatever happened is simply buried in the passing night."

He dipped her now, eyes glittering with amusement and a glint of intrigue. His lips inches from hers, he commented, "I'd have to say that I agree."

She was admittedly disappointed when he didn't kiss her, and she wondered whether he had noticed. It again, reminded her of something from the past, but this time she could place her finger on exactly what it was: Harry. Harry, after they'd separated for several months, sitting in her apartment with unrestrained want only to gently inform her of his marriage to Cho. "Are you married?" Ginny asked suddenly, though in all honesty it didn't mean anything to her, or at least it shouldn't.

There was a slight pause. "Do you think I am?"

Ginny scowled. No doubt this was a party dominated with former Slytherins, all experts at question evasion. "I'd guess you to be in your early twenties-"

"Twenty-one," he confirmed.

"-and you're shockingly handsome," she continued.

He smirked. Damnit, Ginny thought, where have I seen that smirk before? "You flatter me," he said softly.

"Don't try to pretend you don't love the sight of your own reflection," Ginny chuckled. "Or that I'm the first to tell you so."

"I would never try to claim that other women don't find me devastating," He grinned, and she nearly melted then and there. "So what's the verdict?"

"I'd say either womanizing bachelor or childhood betrothal." Ginny stared at him expectantly, and an admiring smile graced his regal lips.

"I despise my wife," he admitted.

A slight twinge of something resembling disappointment resounded inside Ginny, but she pushed it away quickly. "I'm sure you have some fun with the marriage," she scoffed suggestively, taking on an indifferent tone.

"I consider it a job," he replied, stony eyes grim. "And I don't mix business with pleasure."

She took a step closer, her lips by his ear. "Does this mean you won't be having any fun tonight?" Ginny had never done well with sounding coy, but she made an honest effort at it now.

The grim was replaced with surprise. "Well," he murmured seductively, "Just like you, I'm not here completely on business."

Through the mask Ginny could still see structured cheekbones, a defined nose, and she fought the flitting urge to toss of what she was sure hid a striking face. It was the perfect moment, and with a reckless abandon she'd never before displayed, she pressed her lips to his, desparately hoping he would respond, and if he did, that he'd not notice her inexperience.

Like his hands, his lips were dry and soft, and unbelievably pliable. His tongue manipulated its way into her submitting mouth, and ever bone in her body became useless jelly the moment he deepened the kiss. Gods, she scolded herself, you're on the job and you can't fall for him, you can't let this affect you the way it's doing right now. But something else overtook that voice, and whatever reason or morality she still possessed flew out the window.

The kiss was hungry, devouring her with a lust she'd never before thought possible. It was primitive, and basic, composed of man and woman both starved for passion and affection, the kind that diminished all feeling except for the absorption of each other. She moaned into his mouth, and felt his mouth curl into a smile against hers before resuming their snog with a fiery vigor.

When they finally broke apart, hearts racing and gasping for air, there was a tall brunette with a withering stare glowering at both of them. "Time," she said disdainfully. "You have to change partners."

"I'm sorry, love," Ginny giggle, a bit tipsy from his drugging kiss, "But I don't want to change partners."

The brunette rolled her eyes and pointed impatiently towards the open hall. "Then you shouldn't be in here," she sneered.

Ginny snatched the man's arm, whirling through the masses and out into the hall in one fluid movement. "I do hate interruptions," she breathed as he slammed her into the wall and lowered his head to hers, suckling and nipping at her lower lip, alternating between the tenderness he'd exhibted during their dance and the not quite so. He moved his mouth wetly to her neck and then back again, hissing as she intertwined massaging fingers into the fine silver-blond silk that was his hair.

She was short on air now, her breath constricting with every lave of his tongue searching, but she wasn't willing to part from his lips either. If I die of suffocation, she thought distantly, I'll die one of the happiest witches in London. He didn't seem to be as intoxicated, however, because he pulled back and glanced up at the beautiful open hall surrounding them with a small smile.

Ginny was silent. She leaned against him, this man that she didn't even know, had never seen, and felt cold without the pressure of his warm lips, incomplete in some inexplicable way. Maybe he doesn't mix business with pleasure, she thought devilishly, lacking the energy and state of mind to speak as his tongue darted out against her earlobe, but I'm certainly ready to.

"What do you say we move to the other ballroom now," he said, the calmness of his voice and demeanor not only surprising her but giving her once again the feeling she'd encountered him before.

Glancing in the other direction, Ginny spotted a marble stairwell that provided a glimpse of countless guest rooms, bedrooms. "You know what?" She whispered breathlessly before his lips cut her off once more. "I have a better idea."


The Jonathan Dukakis Guest Room was perhaps one of the largest bedchambers Ginny had ever been in. Bringing her knees against her chest, she watched the shadows dance with glassy eyes, thankful for the heat emanating from the flickering fireplace. She huddled into the satin bedsheets, knowing she'd be much warmer should she be laced back into her gown but not wanting to make that undoubtedly frigid trip from the bed to where her dress was heaped on the ground.

He was asleep now, the mystery man who'd introducted her to a different world, the sheets a tangle around his waist but his mask still firmly in place. She'd requested it actually, not certain she'd be able to stomach it should this charming lover be hideously scarred or worse, someone she could fall in love with, someone so breathtakingly handsome she'd want to gaze at him for all eternity.

She thought then of Pansy, her words echoing mercilessly. Like hell it's not prostitution, Ginny thought vehemently, tearing her eyes from his sculpted chest and the addictive rhythm of his breathing. Of course, she'd chosen the man but didn't prostitutes do the same? And here she was, lying next to someone whose name she didn't even know, who'd claimed her sacred virginity. And that wasn't even the worst part.

The worst part was that Ginny had enjoyed it. She had succumbed to her own inner demons, to the one emotion she had always thought she felt around the men in her life-Harry, Seamus, Dean-until this night, this moment, when it struck her that there was no feeling comparable to what she'd experienced moments earlier. She'd felt it course through her, raw and pulsating.


Except she could have dealt with that. She had wanted it, and she knew that. The acceptance that yes, she had started out on a mission but had ended up lusting just as much as he was, if anything, understandable. No, what nipped at her mind and conscience was the one thought that had overtaken her mind and soul during those pivotal moments of intense pleasure that had expanded into infininty, torturing her, bordering on pain enough so all coherent thoughts dissolved as her body melted into the heat that this man could bring. It was then that she realized that it was more than sex.

Love. Was it even possible to love someone she'd never met? Ginny had experienced lust before, as being twenty it wasn't exactly abormal. She could well distinguish between love and lust, or so she'd believed. "If it's meant to be," Hermione had once whispered, "Fate will put you together." A small smile came to her lips as she remembered Hermione's shining brown eyes, revealing to Ginny the starry-eyed dreamer that had never appeared in the classroom. But Ginny, never one to believe in destiny and soul mates, had always expected love to hit deep into relationships, not through acts that should've let her ashamed and dirty. It couldn't be love, she reasoned, stroking her hand across the broad chest of his sleeping form.

True, she didn't know who he was, but she knew he was amazing-a rare breed, really. She knew that when she first suggested the bedroom he'd declined, leading her out instead to the gardens where they spent blissful moments alternatively snogging and whispering. His fingers, his body, everything that she contacted set her into mad bouts of fire she never knew possible, leaving her weak and useless, needing, pleading for more. And above all, she knew that when his lips touched hers, she forgot about everything which had plagued her and her world became him.

And thus, Ginny was strangely relieved to remind herself that he was married; it somehow lessened the guilt of what she'd sought him out for. Knowing she wasn't the only one doing something wrong appeased her. Anyhow, if he hadn't a lady to return home to, she'd have wanted to become that woman, and she was sure that no matter how perfect this man was, he wouldn't forgive her for what she was about to do.

Ginny slid out of the bed, shivering as she was stepped into her dress. Even in the dim light he looked uncomparable, his slick blond hair not a strand out of place, and his complexion still flush and pink from their excursion. And oh, what an excursion it had been. "Who are you?" She whispered, lacing up her bodice and memorizing the contours of his face. But she had promised herself that this night would have no other attachments, and she'd not peek at what he truly looked like.

Then again, the task had been fulfilled. Well, not completely, but Ginny was nearly positive the hard part-the part where she gave up her ethics and her virginity-was over; she could feel it in the gut of her stomach. She had been prepared for this, the relinquishing of what she stood for because it was for her father, after all. Like Pansy had said, sometimes something just had to be done, and she just happened to be the one making the sacrifices.

What she hadn't planned on sacrificing, however, was her heart.

Ginny sighed, fastening the last button on her elaborate costume, and berated herself for her foolishness. She briefly wondered if he'd remember her when he awoke, and a part of her hoped beyond reason that he would. If it was meant to be. . .Hermione's voice echoed mercilessly. "If it was meant to be," Ginny said aloud, "Then if I left this man a souveneir, he would bring it back to me." Her face fell; she hadn't exactly come with an armload of ribbons to leave behind. But then she caught her own reflection.

Her hands flew instinctively to her neck in hesitation, the sparkling stone of her necklace winking back at her. The jewelry, a small sapphire teardrop fastened upon a delicate silver chain, had been a sixteenth birthday present from her brothers; they'd saved money meticulously for it. For five years she'd cherished it, never once taking it off, and a part of her chided the conscience that had dared consider leaving it here with a stranger. There was really nothing else, though, and Ginny had the strongest feeling that he'd appreciate possessing a remnat of their night together.

In one swift movement, she snapped the chain, lying the necklace across the pillow where she'd slept moments earlier. "Don't forget me," she murmured, brushing across his lips one last kiss. His crumpled tuxedo caught her eye, and a sudden idea crossed her mind. If she took a cufflink of his, then together they'd both be missing something materialistic, just like she was now deprived a certain piece of her heart she never knew existed.

Quickly, Ginny knelt down beside his clothes and dug furiously for his shirtsleeve. Every item was rich in texture, every fabric well- tailored, and as her fingers came into contact with cool metal, Ginny could guess his cufflinks were expensive, too. But as the small silver weight rested conspicuously in her hand, it was not the price that made her freeze and stare. That link, that intricate, elaborate serpent was one she'd definitely seen before, there was no denying that. She searched her memory, her brows creased in concentration as she fondled the silver snake now warm under the heat of her hands, and it struck her suddenly exactly where they'd appeared before.

But it couldn't be possible-that man had the power to spot a Weasley towns away, and the hatred to banish them even further, so this man couldn't be. . .oh gods, Ginny thought. The white-blond hair, the now- closed gray eyes and that mind-boggling smirk, those could only belong to one person, she realized, her throat immensely dry. There was only way to be absolutely sure, however, and with an anxious apprehension she strode to his bedside.

Her fingers trembling, Ginny reached for his mask and gingerly pulled it away so not to disturb his slumber. The firelight cast shadows on his face, making his handsome features less distinguishable, but there was no lying about it-it was him. The air was all of a sudden suffocating, and she backed away in horror, one hand wilding groping for a door. It couldn't be true, she thought frantically, it just couldn't.

But it was.

She, Ginny Weasley, had slept with and fallen for none other than the dragon himself.

Draco Malfoy.

~ End of Chapter 1

A/N* There! The first chapter. As you can see, it takes on a bit of a different tone than my previous fic. If Pansy seemed a tad OOC, it's just because this takes place a while after graduation, and she's kinda changed. You'll see a bit more of her personality later, and what invoked that change and stuff, but don't worry this is NOT a Pansy-dominated fic! Now review, please?