Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize from the Harry Potter books (or movie) belongs to me!
It had been a difficult morning at the Ministry and an even more difficult afternoon back at the office. His lunchtime conference floo call had taken longer than expected and he had been late for a meeting with his marketing team, who had just flown back from France after meeting with some investors. The group would be heading to Japan next and needed instructions from him first before they could depart. In addition to all of the meetings, he still had a full day's work ahead of him to complete before he could return home.
So by seven this evening, Draco Malfoy was tired and hungry, having had toast for breakfast and just tea for lunch. So why he was at The Quarter Note, a jazz bar near Diagon Alley, instead of on his way to dinner with a beautiful companion was a question he kept asking himself over and over again. He silently cursed his sometimes overly developed sense of familial duty and waited impatiently as 7:15 had come and gone.
Narcissa, Draco's mother, had called him this evening as he left the office of Malfoy Investments to inform him that she needed him to meet with Phillip Swinton at The Quarter Note at 7:15 this evening to pick up a contract.
Apparently, Swinton's niece was getting married in a few months and he had hired Narcissa to take over the wedding planning after the previous planner was fired for her incompetence. Swinton and Narcissa's schedules were packed and the only time Swinton had available was this evening. The Quarter Note was his establishment and he spent most Thursdays at the club to check on business.
After Lucius' death in the War five years ago, Narcissa Malfoy had become an active member of Wizarding society and was now a renowned hostess. She turned her ability to put together an elegant fete into a part-time business, and her refinement, connections, and taste for quality was unmatched. She now had a long waiting list for her services, so it was only Swinton's connections as an old family friend that gave him an opportunity to bypass this waiting list.
If Swinton didn't arrive soon, though, Draco would have some words to say, regardless of how close Swinton was to Draco's mother. He checked the clock on the back wall again and saw that he had another ten minutes to go. Draco had decided to give Swinton until 7:45 to arrive before he was leaving. A rush of the cold temperatures outside rushed through the room briefly, indicating that the front door had been opened. Draco glanced up quickly in hopes that Phillip had arrived. No such luck. Ginny Weasley was there instead in full evening garb. A white blossom clipped her hair up on one side and peaking through her dark cloak was a red silk wraparound dress that presumably emphasized her trim figure. She was met by the host, a taller gentleman about Draco's height, who was in his early 30s with thin dark hair pulled back from his dark face.
"Sorry I'm late, there was this carriage accident and I couldn't get through," Ginny said in low tones.
"You're lucky Mr. Swinton is late, too. You'd better hurry up and get on stage before he arrives, though," the host was saying. He took her cloak and hurried her further inside.
"Thanks Nate, I owe you one," Ginny said in relief. She rushed behind a heavy, dark green curtain that presumably lead to the backstage area.
Draco was surprised. He didn't know that she worked here. He recalled hearing that she had joined the choir back in their Hogwarts days, so he knew she could sing. However, he also knew that she later married Harry Potter, who was a bit possessive with his wife. Her dramatic red hair, fit figure, and easy confidence made her quite popular with the male species, and he didn't think Potter would have easily agreed to his wife's profession. Of course, with the red Weasley hair also came the famous Weasley temper. So if there was an argument, it was obvious which party had won.
The door opened again, and again Draco's hopes were dashed. Instead of Swinton entering the club, it was Potter and his sidekick at the door. He really shouldn't have been surprised that Potter would be here. Naturally if his wife was singing, he'd make sure he was present as well to keep his wife's admirers at bay. And where Potter went, the Weasel went too.
"Glad to finally be out of that cold air," Ron Weasley was saying. He brushed some snow off of his coat while Potter greeted Nate the host.
"Welcome, gentlemen. Mrs. Weasley-Potter is already backstage preparing. Would you like your usual table?" Nate greeted formally. He obviously took his job quite seriously.
"Good to see you, Nate," Harry returned.
"Let's stop for a drink first before we head out to the table," Ron suggested.
Harry agreed and they both headed towards the bar as Nate had their usual table prepared.
Draco hoped that they wouldn't come to his end of the bar. He had had a long day and wasn't up for a confrontation with the Griffindor duo. He wished that Swinton would get here soon, but with the way his day was going, Draco wouldn't be surprised if Swinton had gotten caught in the same carriage accident traffic that Ginny Weasley had mentioned earlier.
They sat a few stools down from him, so Draco turned his body three-quarters of the way away from them and kept his head down as he faced partially towards the front door. He nursed his drink and signaled for another one after Potter and Weasley had ordered their drinks.
"Nasty weather we're having. Do you think the game will be cancelled tomorrow?" Ron asked.
Harry shrugged. "Doubt it. But I'm hoping that they do. Gin and I start our vacation after the game and if it gets cancelled, we can head off early and Lee Jordan can take over for me announcing the game."
"Luna's still offering to take over for you, so don't bring up Lee Jordan's name around her just yet," Ron advised.
Harry snickered. "It won't happen anyway. She's been banned from announcing anymore professional quidditch games this season after that disastrous one she did a few months back for the Cannons."
"Yeah, don't mention that either. I still get in trouble for that one," Ron winced. "Honestly, it wasn't my fault."
"I told you to wait until after the game to propose. If you did she wouldn't have gotten distracted from the game." Harry chuckled.
Draco rolled his eyes. He remembered that game. Her shower of red and gold heart-shaped snitches throughout the field and stands in honor of her newly engaged status during the middle of the game had caused a riot and the game had to be temporarily postponed until someone could get rid of all the extra snitches. Whenever someone tried to catch one, though, the stupid things would burst into song about the magic of love. So within minutes, hundreds of singing snitches filled the air. To top it off, she added bludger-shaped balloons that exploded upon contact and covered the crowd and field in a deluge of muggle confetti. No one was very happy with her at the moment.
"Well 'Mione thought it was a sweet gesture," Ron defended.
"She also said it would have been more practical to only shower them in the stands so that the players wouldn't have been as confused," Harry pointed out.
Ron sighed. "Doesn't matter anyway. People still give me dirty looks on the street." Harry couldn't help but laugh at that. Before Harry could reply, a voice was heard announcing Ginny onto the stage.
"Welcome to The Quarter Note," Ginny greeted. She announced her first song and started off a cappella before the house band joined her.
Draco had to admit that she had a very nice voice. It occurred to him that he might want to mention that to his mother, who was always looking for new talent for her various soirees and clients. Ron and Harry hurried to their table at this point, so Draco felt that it was safe to turn back around. They wouldn't be looking in his direction now anyway.
The door opened for a third time, and luckily, it was Phillip Swinton at the door. "Nasty weather," he said to Nate the host as he entered. "They see a little snow and suddenly no one knows how to drive," he complained.
"Your guest is here, sir. A Draco Malfoy is sitting at the bar," Nate informed him.
"You didn't show him to a table?" Phillip reprimanded.
"He preferred to sit at the bar instead," Nate explained. Swinton nodded and handed his coat to Nate before he approached the bar.
"Malfoy, good to see you," Phillip greeted.
"A nice place you have here, Swinton," Draco greeted as they shook hands. At five feet ten inches, Swinton was just shy of six feet and some inches shorter than Draco himself, but his presence was so imposing, most people thought he was much taller than his actual height.
"I have Narcissa's contract here. How is your mother?" Phillip pulled out a scroll of paper that expanded to its regular size after he removed it from his pocket.
"She's well and sends her regards. Mother had company for dinner tonight and apologizes that she couldn't meet you herself," Draco replied.
"In this weather, it's good that she didn't venture out. Tell her that I appreciate that she's doing this for me. You're welcome to stay for the entertainment, of course. Ginny Weasley-Potter has a good repertoire of songs, if you have a request."
"I think I'll take a rain check, but thank you. She has an amazing voice. In fact, I was thinking of mentioning her to mother." Draco replied.
"That's a wonderful idea. If she wasn't going to be in my niece's wedding party, I would have wanted her to perform at the ceremony."
"She may still be able to sing at the reception," Draco suggested.
"If Luna doesn't keep her busy running around. But I trust your mother's judgment. Whatever she decides is fine," Phillip said.
Draco tried to hide his surprise. "Luna?"
"Yes, Luna Lovegood. Her father owns that nasty newspaper. But she's still family and my favorite niece. I wanted her to have the best, and your mother is clearly the best." Swinton's sharp features softened when he talked of his niece, so Draco made a note to be careful about any comments he made in the future in the man's presence.
"I'll tell her you said so," Draco responded. Wait until he told his mother that she was in charge of a Lovegood-Weasley wedding. He looked forward to witnessing her reaction.
"Your mother needs no compliments from me. I believe my niece will be arriving shortly if you would like an introduction," Phillip mentioned.
"We ran in different circles then, but I recall her from our Hogwarts days. Well, I hoped to stay longer, but I have dinner reservations," Draco lied smoothly.
"Well, give my regards to your mother. And you are both welcome as my guests any time you'd like here at The Quarter Note," Swinton offered.
"I may take you up on that, thank you." Draco and Phillip shook hands again. He put the contract in his pocket and handed his ticket to Nate to pick up his coat.
As he waited for Nate to return from the cloak room, the door opened again and Luna Lovegood appeared at the door. Luna beamed upon seeing him and approached. "Draco Malfoy, just the man I wanted to see!"
Surprised at that, Draco nodded shortly and murmured, "Lovegood," in reply.
"You must be waiting for Hermione," Luna said. "She didn't tell me you would be joining us."
"What?" Draco asked, bewildered.
Just then, the door opened again and Hermione Granger appeared.
"Hermione, you didn't mention your boyfriend would be joining us," Luna greeted sunnily.
"Did you just say boyfriend?" Draco asked blankly.
Hermione looked up, saw Luna and Draco together, and paled. "Oh no…"