A/N – FashionPhotographer!Draco. As I promised. Light-hearted and more of a 'friendship that might lead to more' fic. I have invented a magical fashion designer named Mallorini.
12 Jan - fixed up my erroneous French.
Disclaimer – I don't own HP. Don't sue.
No False Modesty
It all began, she would say later, when Gabrielle Delacour was found (not for the first time) pumped to the gills with a narcotic potion, in bed with a man, another woman, and a house elf. The repercussions ran through the narrow French magical fashion world like shockwaves. Draco Malfoy, who'd been supposed to photograph her for the a layout in the Halloween Fashion Witch edition, blew his top –
"Great Goddess' tits!" he shouted, snatching off his five hundred galleon Mallorini charmed sunglasses and throwing them on the ground. "Save me from self-absorbed, air-headed models! Are there any beautiful women in this world who aren't alcoholics, junkies or nymphomaniacs?"
His personal assistants, well used to his periodic fits and rages, listened appreciatively to his extensive vocabulary and made wagers on the length of his tirade. d'Arcourt came the closest, with eight minutes, and two hideous china sculpture smashed.
"How am I supposed to have a photo shoot when I have no one to photograph?" he howled. "Get me a bloody model!"
The bright young men sprang into action.
"Chere Ginevra," Jacques d'Arcourt said in his purring, gloriously French accent, "are you still looking for a change in profession?"
Ginny looked up from her waitressing, pushing back strands of long, unruly red hair. "Always," she said dryly. She ignored an American wizard who was rudely gesticulating and trying to catch her eye. "What's this about? Have you got a job for me?"
"Yes," he answered proudly, and she blinked in surprise. She had known Jacques for six months, and enjoyed listening, both fascinated and horrified, to his tales of the glamorous world of wizarding fashion. "Monsieur Malfoy ees 'aving 'ysterics. He needs a model, and quickly –"
"What?" she mocked. "What about Gabrielle?"
Jacques grinned cattily. "Out of the running, darling," he purred with enormous satisfaction. "She, er, 'ow do you say, pushed the limit, one too many times."
"Excuse me, miss, can I have some service here?"
"Are you serious, Jacques? You're really offering me a modeling job?"
"But yes, cherie," He smiled, pouring on the charm; if Ginny didn't know him so well, she'd think him angelically innocent. "Are you interested?"
"Hello? Am I invisible? Can I have some service, please?"
She laughed, and dismissed any wayward thoughts of fame and fortune. "No, no. Malfoy sounds like too much of a tyrant. He'd probably terrify me–"
"Bah. Show. All for show." Jacques flipped a dismissive hand. "In this business, it pays to be a leetle…eccentric. Ginevra, 'e is the best in the business. 'E can perform miracles, transform you from ordinary waitress into a supermodel. Listen – this is a chance you cannot pass up."
"Hey, lady! I'm a paying customer! Leave off chatting with your boyfriend, will ya?"
Ginny's mouth firmed. "Right. When do I start?"
"But right now, of course," Jacques smiled.
Ginny took off her apron, wadded it up, and tossed it into the obnoxious customer's face. As he sputtered and swore, she made a magnificent exit, her head high and her hips swinging with sexy, stylish attitude. Jacques watched her go, rubbing his hands together with glee.
Ginny watched him in action, this blonde-haired, fashionable god who could make or break a model's career with a single photo, or a single, skeptical sneer. Most models, Jacques whispered, were terrified of his unruly temper and his acid tongue; Ginny, however, had a temper of her own, and both feet firmly on the ground.
She was not intimidated when he swung around, pinned her with impatient, scowling silver eyes, and growled out, "Who the hell is this, d'Arcourt?"
"This is, ah, Ginevra, Monsieur Malfoy," Jacques stuttered. "She is a friend of mine."
For a moment, Malfoy was silent, and he stared at her very intently. She stared back confidently, and he began to walk towards her, his gait very slow, prowling, and graceful.
"Ginevra," he purred quietly, circling her, brushing close enough that she could smell his very expensive cologne. "Ginevra…Weasley, would it be?"
"That's right," she said proudly, staring him straight in the eye. "I didn't think you'd remember. It's been years."
"You have met?" Jacques asked in surprise. "You did not tell me that, Ginevra."
"Oh, I don't think I'll ever forget that red hair," Malfoy drawled. "It is so very…"
"It will show up beautifully on film," Jacques interrupted, sensing his finding fee slipping away.
Malfoy spared him one, speaking glance. Jacques fell silent.
"It will show up beautifully on film," Malfoy confirmed. "However, the rest of you – your skin, your hands, your clothes – Merlin's Blood!" he threw up his hands, "There is serious work to be done before we go anywhere near the cameras."
She scowled. He looked at her, one eyebrow raised, his eyes limpid and very carefully serious. "Once I am finished with you, Ginevra Weasley, you will be the most beautiful woman in the world. Is that not what you want?"
"Then you will be the first," he said cynically.
The rest of that day was a whirlwind progression. It began with a styling salon, where Malfoy handed her over to a painfully fashionable, gesturing male stylist named Claudio, who exclaimed with delight at the chance to unlock the potential of her hair. An hour and a half later, she was hustled outside, and down the street towards a skin care salon, and then into a number of other mysterious shops, where the proprietors came out to fawn over Malfoy and to look her over as though she were an animal on display.
"Why are they all looking at me as though I'm a horse for sale?" she whispered under her breath.
"They know that I have dropped Gabrielle," he said calmly. "They all wish to see who will replace her."
"Me?" she asked, rather stupidly. "But – it can't be that easy, can it? I mean, surely –"
"If I say you will replace Gabrielle, then you will. I have a lot of power in this world, Weasley –"
"Yes, you've always wanted power, haven't you?" she snarled. She was irritated, bad-tempered, because she'd been dragged around like a child all day; Malfoy turned to face her, his expression carefully neutral.
"Once, long ago. And then I learned better."
She stopped baiting him.
Modelling, she discovered, was harder than she thought. It was not just a case of posing and pouting, looking pretty for the camera. No. That would be too easy.
The photo shoot began with Malfoy informing her that the clothes she was modelling were worth far more than she would ever be, and that any damage would be taken out of her hide. When she glared at him, indignant, he merely walked away, clapping his hands and shouting out rapid-fire orders to his crew. She stood there, a human mannequin with no purpose other than to show off the clothes, while they scurried and bustled around her like ants.
Then, once the stage was set, Malfoy ordered her into the lights and began to position her this way and that, firing orders and directions at her –
Turn your head, Weasley, no, not that far, fool, no, the other way – Great Goddess' tits! Don't you know anything?
No, I don't, Malfoy! I took on this job as a favour to you –
Do me a favour then, and take off if you're not 100 committed to this shoot.
And if I do take off, where will you be? You're coming up quick on the deadline, Malfoy, and there's no one else in sight. If I walk…
Damnation, woman! Just do what you're bloody well told! Turn your head to the right, for all our sakes. And thrust your hip out a bit more, show us a bit more leg. Merlin's Balls. How hard can it be?
She had a notion that models were supposed to look sexy, not glare furiously at the camera, but Malfoy seemed to be deliberately provoking her. Their mutual abuse flew as he baited her and she reacted every time – it reminded her of Ron, and Hogwarts, and the inevitable fights that occurred whenever Malfoy and her brother crossed paths.
Malfoy's crew, those who were not actively employed at the moment, were all watching with great interest – no one else, it seemed, would ever dare to provoke the great Draco Malfoy's wrath like she was. Well. She was not in awe of the great Draco Malfoy. She'd known him since she was eleven years old. She'd seen him hurt and humiliated more than once, had watched Professor Moody turn him into a ferret, had, in fact, inflicted a humiliating curse on him herself –
She did not need his approval. She'd made up her mind – after this shoot, she was going to find another, easier job. Glamorous or not, (and she had her doubts about that) big money or not, she had no intention of doing anything like this ever again.
It was too much hard work.
Unfortunately, Paris and the fashion world had other ideas.
As Jacques had said, so adoringly, Malfoy was a miracle worker. Raging, shouting prima donna that he was, his camera had turned her into a goddess –
Suddenly, she was inundated with offers. All the top fashion houses and huge cosmetics brands wanted her to be their figurehead, and Ginny, bewildered by the overnight fame, could not understand why.
Jacques, meeting her in response to an urgent message, was unsympathetic. "But is this not what you wanted?" he asked. "You are famous, Ginevra! You will be rich. You will set the trends, instead of following them."
"But I don't want to be a famous trend-setter," she scowled, almost sulkily. "I don't mind being rich, but this is too much! They're waiting outside my building. I had to disguise myself and sneak out over the roof!"
"Ah, bah!" Jacques threw up his hands dramatically. "You are as bad as Malfoy! You both despise your fame."
"Malfoy?" she asked.
"Oui. 'E despises the people who flatter 'im and make 'im famous, and the more 'e despises them, the more they adore 'im. And the more they adore 'im – well. You get the picture, yes?"
She did. When at last she stood up to go, she turned to ask Jacques one last question. He smiled, ruefully, and gave her the address of Malfoy's flat.
"How do you stand it, Malfoy?" she asked. "The superficiality of it all?"
He did not turn around. His house elves had been instructed to let her in, if she came.
"My father would be spinning in his grave, to see me now," he answered, pouring himself a stiff drink. "It was enough, in the beginning."
Draco had never been terribly fond of Lucius, but his father had always cast a long, influential shadow. Lucius had never approved of shouting and ranting, either – which was why, of course, Draco was so fond of it. When he was truly enraged, he became all too much like his father – his voice slowed to a drawl, his movements became languid and menacing. Knowing this, Draco did all that he could to avoid becoming truly angry.
"And now?" He heard her footsteps on the polished wooden floorboards, and then she sat beside him, on the other stool at his small fashionable bar.
He shrugged. "There are aspects that I truly enjoy. The camera, for one. I will always be a photographer, Weasley. Ever since I spent that interminable week shut up with Creevey…"
She gave him a sidelong, slightly worried look. "But shouldn't there be…more? Some more substantial purpose, other than beauty and fashion?"
"There are some people who say that the creation of beauty is a purpose in and of itself."
"But not you. Not Lucius Malfoy's son."
He did not dispute the accuracy of that statement. "No. But it pays the bills." He slid her a sidelong look. "Which should be your main concern, Weasley."
She snorted. "One day, you'll come up with an original insult." Reaching out, she snagged a crystal glass and poured herself a drink.
Companionably, they drank.
"Seriously," he said, much later, sprawled on his expensive leather couch in front of the fire, "d'Arcourt's not entirely a fool. Why not take this chance while you can?"
"Jacques says," she said, provocatively, "that you despise your fame, and that it makes them love you even more."
Draco sighed. "D'Arcourt says entirely too much." He turned his head to look at her, lounging on the floor in her baggy robes, with her manicured hands and two hundred galleon style cut. "You know, I always knew you'd be beautiful one day, Weasley, once you shed your mother's influence and your brothers' over-protectiveness. Look how right I was."
"No false modesty, huh?"
"There's no point in it." He laughed. "And nor should you have any, Weasley. You're a beautiful, confident woman. Enjoy what you have."
She smiled, and the firelight cast flickering shadows across her face. There was a moment of friendly, relaxed silence, as they watched each other and wondered.
A/N - Interesting trivia: this one-shot was originally titled 'Svengali'. However, when it turned into a friendship fic, I chose a different title.