Ginny was reading an investment application from an owl-cage company looking to expand their line when her office door opened abruptly. Startled, she looked up and saw one of her co-workers standing in the doorway.
"Hey, Weasley, there's an account I need to throw over to you," he told her.
"What do you mean by, 'throw over to me,' Jenkins?" Ginny asked with a frown.
"The family's been with Gringotts forever but Ragnok wants to get them to invest more of their money with us. He thinks that you should take this account because apparently their man knows you from Hogwarts and, erm," Jenkin eyes darted down to examine a scroll he was holding as he hesitantly said, "was a great admirer of yours."
Ginny blinked in surprise. Before she could say anything Jenkins looked back up at her with an uncomfortable expression and hurried on.
"They're crazy rich and Ragnok really wants them to increase their investments so he said that you need to really put yourself out there for this client. Keep him happy, flatter him, flirt with him," he said in a rushed tone.
"Flirt with him?" Ginny asked in disgust. "He's a client! I'm not some lady off the street here to sweet-talk him into giving me his money!"
"I hear you, Weasley," Jenkins said, scratching his creased brow. "But Ragnok made it very clear that you need to use your status as a woman he's got the hots for to get this account."
"Fine," fumed Ginny. "But I'll only go so far. Who is this fellow anyways?"
"Funny you should ask," Jenkins said nervously. "He's here to speak with you. I'll just go get him."
"But what's his name?" Ginny called after Jenkins as he hastily slipped out the door and shut it behind him.
Jenkins didn't reply and Ginny had to content herself with waiting for him to get back.
She knit her forehead as she tried to think of who this so-called, 'admirer,' might be but was shortly interrupted from her deliberations by a knock on the door.
Ginny sighed resignedly.
"Come in," she called.
Jenkins entered the room and behind him came a tall, skinny man with a head of curly blonde hair.
"Virginia Weasley," the blonde man said imperiously, peering down at Ginny from above a swinish nose, pushing past Jenkins and throwing his hand out to Ginny. "It's so good to see you."
Ginny stood up from her desk and took the man's hand with a polite smile saying, "It's lovely to see you too, Mister…"
"There's no need to be formal with me, Virginia, even if I do represent an important client," the man said, showing Ginny some teeth in a facial expression that she assumed was supposed to be a smile. "Feel free to call me Zacharias."
"Zacharias… Smith!" Ginny said, eyes finally widening in recognition. "What a surprise!"
"Ah. I understand your surprise. I've heard that you only see the most prestigious clientele but you do not need to be surprised," Zacharias said, lifting his into the air. "I come representing the great Madame Catherine De Bourgh and her estate, so you may be assured that I am perfectly in a position to be standing here before you."
"Of course," Ginny forced herself to say with a smile. "Please, have a seat. Jenkins," she called, with a quick glare at the man standing near the door, "if you could get the De Bourgh portfolio for me, I'd appreciate that."
"Yes, Ma'am, I'll have it on your desk in a moment," he said with an apologetic shrug.
"Well, Mr. Smith," Ginny said, taking her seat across the desk from Zacharias, "how can I help you today?"
"Virginia, please," Zacharias said, straightening up in his chair. "I understand that you might feel obligated to act formally with me but really, I'd like for you to call me by my name. I promise not to tell Madame De Bourgh."
"Well then, Zacharias," said Ginny, with a strained smile, "I must insist that you call me Ginny."
"Oh I much prefer 'Virginia,'" Zacharias waved her suggestion away. "It's so much more respectable. Madame De Bourgh despises nicknames, you know."
"I did not know," replied Ginny, her cheeks starting to feel sore from the smile she was forcing. "My name, however, is not Virginia. It's Ginevra, and no one calls me by that name, so I must insist that you call me Ginny."
"No matter what others call you - I will call you Ginevra," he said, nodding his head to her.
"Thank you," Ginny said through her now clenched smile.
Jenkins entered the office at that moment, placed a thick portfolio on Ginny's desk and quickly slipped back out again.
"I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to study the De Bourgh portfolio yet," Ginny said as she opened the folder in front of her. "Is there a particular reason for your visit to Gringotts today, Zacharias?"
"As Madame De Bourgh's personal accountant, you must realize that I make frequent visits to Gringotts to check up on the investments she has with the Goblins," Zacharias said, lifting his eyebrows at Ginny as though surprised she needed to ask.
"Yes, of course," Ginny replied without looking up from the parchment she was studying. "Well, your investments seem to be doing just fine." She looked up. "Surely you can keep up with the investments through your employer's monthly statements, which I see here are owled directly to you, Zacharias?"
"That they are," Zacharias said, puffing out his chest. "Madame De Bourgh trusts me implicitly. My visits to Gringotts are for the purpose of seeing to the financial future of the De Bourgh money. If I think that Gringotts is not the best place for this money, I must have it removed right away. Likewise, if Gringotts has opportunities for me to maximize the De Bourgh investments, I will gladly bring more money into the bank. Gringotts has always understood the importance of the role I play for the De Bourghs, as I'm sure you can as well, Ginevra?" Zacharias finished, tilting his head to the side, studying Ginny through his squinty eyes.
"Absolutely, Zacharias," Ginny rushed to answer, remembering Jenkins' words about Ragnok wanting more gold invested.
"Well then," Zacharias said loudly, "I'm sure you would not object to discussing the matter with me over lunch?"
The last thing that Ginny wanted was to have lunch with Zacharias Smith, but he was studying her carefully with folded arms and raised eyebrows and she knew that she didn't have a choice.
"That would be lovely, Zacharias," said Ginny sweetly.
It was two hours, and eleven too many descriptions of the floos at De Bourgh Manor, later until Ginny was finally able to leave lunch with Zacharias,
"If you'd like, Zacharias, we can go back to my office and I can tell you about some of Gringotts' latest investment plans," Ginny said with forced cheer as she pocketed the receipt from lunch.
"Oh I don't think I have any more time today," Zacharias said with a glance at his watch. "Madame De Bourgh likes to know that I'm in my office at the manor – did I tell you that I have an office at the manor with its very own floo? Of course, it's not as grand as the floo in Madame Catherine's parlor, but it's certainly sufficient for me – for at least eight hours a day. She relies on me a good deal in her financial affairs, you see. I've already wasted too much time in town, though I had a lovely time with you, Ginevra. We must do it again soon," he said as he came to a halt in front of Diagon's apparition port.
"I'd be glad to have lunch you after we get an opportunity to discuss your investment options," Ginny said pointedly.
"Of course, of course," Zacharias laughed through his nose. "I know the value of time during business hours. We'll have to save our longer hours together for dinner sometime, won't we?"
"Longer hours together?" Ginny thought in horror. But all she said was, "I'm sure we can work something out."
"Certainly. I'll be sure to owl you. I bid you adieu, Ginevra," Zacharias bowed to Ginny at the door of Gringott's.
"Good day, Zacharias," Ginny nodded to him, and then turned and entered Gringotts. She walked to her office with a confident, businesslike stride, but as soon as she entered and closed the door behind her, she collapsed against it and let out great sigh of relief.
"Thank goodness that's over," she muttered to herself, closing her eyes and rubbing her temples. After taking a minute to breath she opened her eyes and looked over at her desk. Then she looked at her watch. Two hours until she could go home and relax. Except her mother was expecting her for dinner after work, she suddenly remembered, which meant that she wouldn't be able to relax for hours and hours to come.
Ginny groaned as she pushed herself up from against the door and walked over to her desk. Her mother was, as usual, going to be all over her about being single, and after the hours with Zacharias, a specimen of the type of company her mother was so eager for her to keep, Ginny really wasn't feeling up to it. Staying in the office seemed like a breath of fresh air in comparison.
Her paperwork had never looked so inviting.