Chapter One: They're Here?
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, people were laughing, and the world was at rights. A red head was walking around the park. She had a camera strapped around her neck and was taking pictures of anything that caught her fancy. She had photographed the ruins the park was situated around extensively long before now, but she always returned to photograph the tourists and locals. It was amazing how easy it was to tell the difference. Even if a tourist did not have a camera, had brought a book and lunch, and was just enjoying the day without any program guides or attraction brochures, you could always tell, or at least she could.
She was in a good mood. It had been a long week and it felt wonderful to be out and about and free. That was, however, before she spotted a dark haired man, obviously wealthy, spread out on a blanket, a bottle of wine next to him, watching everyone else. He didn't belong here. It wasn't that he was a tourist, this man was never a tourist. He didn't live here, but he never toured anywhere. No, it was that he didn't belong in her life. He didn't belong to be anywhere near her. He wasn't suppose to exist.
Okay, so she didn't think he was dead. She had known he was alive, somewhere, she just had never expected him to cross her path again, ever.
She slowly moved around him, taking pictures, careful to keep the camera in front of her face. She maneuvered so that she could get a good shot of him. He would make a good picture, so casual, so comfortable, so, honestly, beautiful. She got the picture and left. He hadn't looked up; that was good.
He did look up, though, at her retreating back. Her long red hair reached to her waist and there was somthing about way the she walked in those loose fitting jeans of hers that reminded him of someone he had once known. His afternoon was shot. He stood up, gathered his things, and left. Wine wasn't going to cut it anymore. He needed to find his friend and get drunk. He always did this when he was reminded Ginevra Weasley. He was certain that the girl he had seen was someone else entirely, but he missed Ginevra. Why had his friend been such an idiot? Curse that blond, he would get drunk alone. It was all the blond headed dolt's fault Ginevra had left. She had been the only family he had ever known and she was gone because he had been a fool. He would rather be with her somewhere missing his best friend than with his best friend missing his sister, but no, she refused to let him go with her because he shouldn't be alone. Blast him! Why did he have to be more emotionally unstable than she was? Why did she have to be able to take care of herself? Why couldn't she be like most women scorned and despise the man? Why did she have to care so blasted much about the man that had walked away from her? Why? Because she was Ginevra Weasley, that's why, and he was Draco Malfoy and she was afraid he would do something stupid like disappear forever if he was left alone. Well, wasn't that what she had done? Disappear forever? Why was he more deserving of a friend than she was? Well, she could make new friends, and it was pretty certain that Draco could not. What was the point of getting drunk? He'd still miss her when he sobered up, he'd remember why he had gotten drunk in the first place, and he'd have a hangover on top of everything. He gave up his day off and went in to work.
Draco watched Blaise enter the office and grab a few files before finding an empty room somewhere. It was his day off. That meant only one thing, a random red head had crossed his path. Draco sat down. Knowing his friend was trying to ignore the empty feeling she had left in their lives was enough to make it impossible for Draco to do the same. It was his fault, after all. He had been the one to walk away from her. But it never would have worked anyway, her family would have turned on her, he knew that. He also knew her family was the most important thing in the world to her, and he could not bring himself to be the reason she was torn from them. He didn't belong in her world and he knew, well, had hoped, that she would have been willing to leave that world and start a new life with him if he had asked. He simply could not allow that, so he had walked away. Not that Blaise had understood that. He had hoped she would have, though, but she had disappeared. Blaise couldn't find her anywhere. His owls always came back with the letter undelivered. Apparently her family had no idea where she was either. He assumed Blaise had asked, he and Bill had gotten on pretty well. There was no use trying to get work done now. He went to get drunk.
The red head had returned to her studio and developed her pictures immediately. Normally she would have waited until the next day but she had a picture to stare at. So there she sat, at her desk, staring a three pictures of the dark haired man in the park, when her assistant came in. The younger woman caught one glimpse of the photos her boss and friend was looking at before squealing.
"Did you get permission to use these?" She was bouncing up and down.
"No." The red head was confused. Why would she get permission, they were portraits, she never sold portraits.
"Oh," the girl's voice only dropped a little, "well, it's just that these are so good! Anyone would have bought them. Probably even Time!"
"What would Time want with these?" She held the pictures up.
"Don't tell me you don't know who you've..." the girld seemed positively stunned, "That's BLANE ZAN! Only the second most elligible bachelor in the WORLD!"
"Blane Zan?" the red head raised an eyebrow, "and who is the most elligible bachelor in the WORLD?" she asked with sarcastic enthusiasm.
The other girl rolled her eyes and sighed at the same time, she stared off into space before answering in a very dreamy voice, "Daniel Malcom. And they just arrived yesterday."
"Let me guess, Blane is a ladies man, a real heartbreaker, and Malcom is almost always in the shadows, the mystery every woman wants to solve." Her voice was dry and the other girl was surprised she knew so much about them when she didn't even know their names. She nodded in response.
The red head almost laughed, but then remembered what was happening. "You wouldn't know why they are in Rome, would you?"
"Hm?" the other girl was thoroughly confused. "Oh, business. Apparently one of thier companies is forming a partnership with another company headquartered here.
"And how long are they supposed to be here?" The red head was starting to panic.
"Three weeks, unless they are delayed for some reason. Why?" She had just now noticed her friend's strange interest, and draining color.
The red head didn't answer, she was distractedly looking at her calendar and freaking out. "That's a masque ball, two charity events, four teas, and formal dinner!" She sat back in her chair, continueing to talk to herself. "The masque won't be so bad. I can get out of the auction, but I volunteered to photograph the picnic. I suppose I can hide behind the camera most of time, I hope. The teas though, I can only cancel two of them, maybe they won't go to those? But the dinner! There is no way out of that and they are bound to be there..." Her voice trailed off.
"Jennifer?" the other girl was starting to worry. "Who are these men, really?"
The red head looked up. Her face was devoid of color. "Who? Oh, no one, I mean... They... they were in the war. Nothing to worry about, on our side, but...Sarah please, you have to help me find out if they are going to be at those teas!"
Sarah really was worried. Jennifer never talked about the war. All Sarah knew, having been in South Africa at the time, was that most of Wizarding Western Europe had been involved in a large war, that had even effected the muggles, centered in Britain, where Jennifer was from. Jennifer had been involved, deeply involved, and had moved to Italy when it was over to escape, well, to escape something. Jennifer Wells obviously wasn't her real name, but she had never told Sarah what it had been before and Sarah knew better than to ask. If Sarah wondered why Jennifer's family never came to visit and why Jennifer never went to visit them, or why there were no letters, or why they were never brought up, well, she wisely kept that to herself as well. But it seemed that the inevitable had finally happened, someone from her past had finally showed up in Rome.