This fic was written for rarity, as part of the Spring 2007 D/G Fic Exchange, who requested the following:

What would you like to receive: Set a few years after book seven/the end of the war. Draco & Ginny had a one night-stand/fling and after years they meet up unexpectedly. They are drawn to each other through similar experiences, loss, and lust. Who died? Who lived through the war? Can they find it in their heart to forgive, forget, and love?
The tone/mood of the fic: Angst/darkness/intimate
A Theme/element/line of dialogue/object you would like in your fic: Darkness/forgiveness/repentance
Rating of the fic you want: R or NC-17
Canon or AU? Canon: HBP compliant, please!
Deal Breakers (what don't you want?): Fluff, OOC-ness (like Draco being Harry's best friend or Ginny hating the trio)

Special thanks to Embellished, who valiantly offered her help when I was flailing about getting the fic done before the deadline, giving both her time and excellent feedback.

The Spirit's Lounge

Part One: Shiver

The Spirit's Lounge was definitely known as one of the seedier locales in the city, and it wasn't the dark corners and peeling paint alone that contributed to its reputation. But for any halfway decent waitress who was smart enough to turn a blind eye to the number of mysterious "packages" that changed hands, undoubtedly containing any number of illegal potion ingredients, it was a place to earn a good living. Or, at least, that was what Ginny Weasley told herself as she carried take-away cartons back to the customers from the kitchen, cartons that contained anything but the restaurant's sub-standard fare, pretending that she wasn't handing over a small piece of her soul as she did it, especially when the well-dressed customers smiled knowingly at her, and slipped a few extra Galleons into her palm as they thanked her politely for her service. But it was all in the name of survival, so she pushed aside the chill in her stomach every time she recognized a face at one of her tables and remembered what horror had been their claim to fame during the war.

"There's been a change in management," Carol, another waitress, told her with a knowing look. Ginny paused for a moment, a giant swell of relief sweeping through her as she grabbed Carol's hand.

"Has Jordan been sacked?" she whispered furiously, barely daring to hope that it could possibly be true. She sighed heavily as Carol shook her head with a wry smile and a sympathetic shrug.

"Sorry, dear, he's still very much employed," she said kindly, knowing full well how uncomfortable Jordan's rather lecherous attentions made Ginny. He made it very clear, as often as possible, that her looks were the only reason he'd even considered hiring Ginny, especially considering her family connections. Desperate at the time, she'd shrugged it off, knowing that sooner or later, he'd grow bored with the chase and leave her on her own. However, he'd only been getting worse. "He has been demoted, if that's any consolation to you at all."

"It'll have to do, I suppose," Ginny said, biting her lip nervously. "Although, he's probably going to be in terrible mood for weeks, and you know what a filthy temper he has."

Carol nodded solemnly, remembering the last time she'd seen a display of his anger – Ginny had slipped because of spill that hadn't been cleaned up, breaking a tray of glasses. He'd become so enraged, he'd smashed his own glass at her feet.

"So, our new manager – is he an actual restaurant management, or is he part of The Management?" Ginny asked, with a pointed look. The convoluted network of rich and influential men who had seized control of the black market trade soon after the war had ended was generally referred to as The Management at The Spirit's Lounge, as they were, indeed, the management of the club and many others like it, using it as their legitimate front for their illegal businesses. Other than a few lesser grunts, such as Jordan, the staff's knowledge of those involved was limited to a few glimpses of men in dark suits leaving unseen through the back door.

"Oh, he's management of The Management. One of the top guys. Can't figure out why they'd send him here. Perhaps in a bid to make our little spot a touch more posh?" Carol said, gesturing to the faded wallpaper.

"It would take the Minister of Magic himself to make this place resemble anything close to posh," Ginny said, rooting around in her cupboard, looking for her order pad and pocket-quill. Her shift started in a few minutes, and Jordan, given the news of the shift in his career path, probably wouldn't be very understanding if she wasn't punctual. She pulled out her coat, thinking that maybe she'd stashed it there, when it tumbled out of her pocket.

"How about his son?" Carol burst out suddenly, resembling a child with a major secret she just couldn't keep to herself any longer. Crouching down to retrieve her note pad, Ginny felt her heart start in a very uncomfortable way. She glanced up at Carol, her eyes large with worry.

"But… that would be impossible, wouldn't it?" she whispered. Carol frowned.

"Ginny, are you alright? You've suddenly gone pale!" she exclaimed. Ginny, her heart pounding painfully in her chest, had no time to formulate any response, as the door to the employee's change room burst open.

"Everyone, I need your attention for a moment!" Jordan's snide voice called out, utterly unmistakable, even though she couldn't see him from where she was crouched on the ground. "As some of you may have heard, we have a guest that Management has sent us for a few weeks. There's been some talk of renovations and increasing the more… aesthetic appeal of our fine establishment, which Mr. Malfoy shall be overseeing for a time."

Ginny shut her eyes as tightly as she could, willing herself to wake up. Every nerve in her body was jangling, overloading her senses, making it harder to think – or not think. She hadn't allowed herself to think of him, not since that night… not since after the night of the fire. Her one sin, her one indiscretion… her one golden memory.

She felt a hand touch her shoulder and she jumped, biting back a yelp. She met Carol's worried and confused expression, and just shrugged, hoping it would be enough. While Carol could be considered a friendly coworker, she was hardly a friend. Ginny didn't have friends, not anymore.

Trying to collect herself even as she felt Jordan's furious eyes on her, she stared straight forward, grateful that Draco Malfoy, the new Manager, seemed far too preoccupied by the stunning blonde speaking to him while gesturing to a clipboard. Her skin crawled with memory even as her mind tried to shut it out, but her body, her senses, wouldn't let her forget. As her eyes drank in, against her will, his tall form and those familiar gray eyes, she wasn't sure what she wanted to do more – vomit or run as far away as possible.

She stood, trying to control the trembling in her limbs, as he finished his conversation with the woman standing next to him. Then, even as an unwanted thrill of anticipation surged through her veins, he looked up at the handful of servers and kitchen staff that were standing motionless in the change-room, waiting for him to say something. His eyes scanned the room. Ginny held her breath as they passed over her, watching his face out of the corner of her eyes, wondering if she could make out any change in his expression, and hating herself for that curiosity.

"As Jordan said, I'm here to fix the image of this…restaurant," he said snidely, "into something that will not be such an embarrassment to be owned by the Malfoy family. I expect a great deal of cooperation in this matter."

With that dismissive close, he simply turned and walked out of the room without another word. Ginny released the breath she'd been holding, feeling relief that he hadn't seemed to notice her at all. But the familiar sound of his snide, arrogant voice, the memories it invoked, sent an even more familiar shiver down her spine.

Fifth Year – early spring

Even though it was such a chilly morning, Ginny had left Gryffindor Tower rather early in the morning. She'd been feeling pensive – that was the only word she could think of to describe the deeply unsettled feeling she'd been carrying around in the pit of her stomach. It was much worse when she was alone, but dealing with an overprotective brother and an overly jealous boyfriend, she found herself wanting to be alone more and more. So, when she woke just after dawn that morning and saw how gray and gloomy the landscape was, her skin had started to itch with the knowledge that in a few hours' time, the common room would be full to bursting with her grumpy House-mates, all suffering from cabin fever. She'd dressed quickly, grabbed a textbook and headed outside before anyone else stirred and ruined her chance at solitude.

She'd wandered all the way down to the lake, enjoying the way the heavy fog cast a bleak atmosphere over the landscape. It made the school seem completely empty, as if she were the only one out there. After an hour of rambling over the grounds, the damp chill in the air started to take its toll, and her teeth started to chatter. Cursing herself for wearing nothing more that her white cotton school blouse as the misty fog grew into a healthy rain shower, saturating her clothing and soaking her to her skin, Ginny debated going back to the main building to dry off and warm up, but she wasn't quite prepared to finish her lonely walk. So she took a detour, spotting the owlery as she passed, deciding that it would be the perfect place to hide out until the rain stopped.

She crept quietly into the building, careful not to disturb much. A few owls blinked their glowing eyes at her presence, but after a few half-hearted hooted greetings, they then ignored her. Ginny climbed the steps up to the loft, her teeth chattering all the way, despite the fact that the air inside the building was warm and heavy. Her sopping shirt was clinging uncomfortably against her skin, and her wet hair was dripping in her face.

She reached the small loft, her senses soaking in the peace and quiet of it. The owlery was so warm, dark and quiet, it normally made her drowsy just being in the building, but on a day like that, it seemed the perfect refuge to curl up with her textbook and dry off. After a cursory look around her, she unbuttoned her blouse, peeling the soaked material away from her skin. Standing in only her kilt and damp cotton bra, Ginny laid her shirt over the wooden banister to dry off, and as she leaned over the loft's edge to wring out her hair, a quiet little cough caught her attention, and her blood ran cold.

She spun around, her heart racing in panic as she felt her face flame with embarrassment. Ginny heard a soft rustling noise coming from one of the dark corners, and she squinted in the dim light, until the shadow of her refuge's other occupant stood up, stepping out into the dim light.

As she recognized the unmistakable blond hair and pale face, Ginny thought for sure that she was having a terrible nightmare. For it was completely impossible for this to really be happening, wasn't it? She wouldn't be standing half-naked, completely vulnerable, in front of the one person in the entire school who she'd vowed to never let see her in such a way? The arrogant prat who constantly prodded her about her family's money situation, about her well-known crush on Harry Potter and who had made it his mission in life to harass her brother whenever possible couldn't possibly be standing there, seeing her without her shirt on. But as she stood there, frozen in horror, her wet hair dripping down her back, she met an expressionless pair of grey eyes and knew that this certainly was happening to her.

Hands jumping to cross against her chest, she turned around as quickly as she could, as soon as she was able to regain control of her body. She ripped her shirt off the banister and gathered it against her chest, pressing it as tightly as she could to her body, even though it was much too late. He'd obviously seen everything. Her heart pounded as she just imagined what people were going to say once they heard, and she tried to guess how many hours would pass before the entire school learned that Draco Malfoy had seen little Ginny Weasley with her shirt off. She could just hear the insults and derisive comments that were going to come her way, and as she pictured what Harry or her brother might say about the whole thing, she squeezed her eyes shut, wishing she could wake up from the nightmare.

Ginny could still feel his eyes on her, and as her heart pounded, she willed him to just leave. Minutes that felt like decades slipped by before she finally heard motion coming from where he'd been standing. The rustle of hay crunching beneath his shoes, a few slow steps, and then she could feel his presence behind her, looming over her.

Her pulse quickened, and she could feel a strange sort of heat blush over her bare skin. She clutched her wet shirt even tighter against her, willing him to leave because it was so hard to breathe with him standing so close to her.

Then, he bent his head closer – he must have, because she could feel his breath warm against the sensitive skin of her neck, and it was sending shivers down her spine. Breathing shakily, she kept her eyes shut and tried to ignore him, wondering what it was that he was doing, her muscles taut with the tension of the moment. But then her senses jolted to life as she felt a soft touch drawing a line gently from the nape of her neck, to her shoulder and down her skin, to her hip. She trembled from the touch, scarcely daring to move.

Ginny tilted her head around slightly, glancing back at him out of the corner of her eye. His head was bent towards her, so close that his mouth was hovering just next to her ear, and he seemed to be staring at her, even as his hand was now lightly trailing up her spine, causing a delicious sensation that made her skin erupt into goose bumps.

And then he sighed, one long heavy sigh against her neck, and she felt something soft drop down around her shoulders. Jerking her head back to stare straight ahead and squeezing her eyes shut once again, Ginny's heart started pounding once more. But all she heard were his footsteps as he backed away. A few seconds later, she could hear him quickly walking down the steps, heard the heavy door to the owlery open and shut, and knew that she was blissfully alone once again.

She dropped her cold, wet shirt, and as she moved, the object draped around her shoulders slid off, and her hand moved to catch it. Startled was hardly the word to describe it when she realized that she was clutching a school robe, and that Draco Malfoy had draped his school robe across her shoulders as she stood in front of him shirtless.

Head spinning from the dizzying swirl of thoughts cluttering her brain, Ginny's instincts took over, and shut down her mind's control over her body. She wrapped the robe tightly around her as she dashed down the steps, not pausing or even flinching as she ran out of the owlery, back out in the rain, which had grown worse and was now lashing down heavily from the sky. She spotted him up ahead, walking back towards the school at a slow, steady pace, as if heedless to the rain. She ran to catch up with him.

He must have heard her footsteps behind him, because he slowed and turned to face her. She stopped abruptly, unsure of what to do now that she had followed him out there. Anything she could think of to say caught in her throat, and so she stood there, just staring at him. He was staring back, his unreadable eyes locking on hers in a moment of intensity that she'd never experienced before. A magnetic force seemed to be pulling her towards him, and before she could stop herself, she was moving towards him, slowly, deliberately, even as her heart pounded in her chest with every step she took.

He met her halfway, striding forward, reaching out to cup her face in his hands. There was a moment of pause, as his eyes met hers again and they both seemed to realize the enormity of that moment, but the magnetic force was too strong and it drew them together, despite whatever protest their minds could conjure, until they were standing so close together, she could feel his body heat. His hands guided her face towards his as he stood over her; his lips grazed against hers and a thrill unlike anything she'd ever experienced washed over her. The deliciously sinful sensation of his lips against hers, of his tongue slipping into her mouth and brushing against hers in a torturously teasing manner, of the heat from his body, of the cold rain beating down on them, was almost too much to bear. Her legs started to tremble.

He pulled away, one hand still resting against her cheek. His veiled eyes met hers once again, and she noted that there now seemed to be an almost indiscernible softness in them, almost a shade of wistfulness. His eyes darted away, and he looked down. She could feel his pulse pounding in his wrist against her throat and thought for a faint moment that her heartbeat was matching his. He looked back at her, biting his lip and it struck her that she was seeing Draco Malfoy in a completely vulnerable moment - that what had just happened had made him completely vulnerable and had exposed something of himself that others weren't meant to see.

With a soft sigh that made her long to throw her arms around him, he gave her a short little nod, then turned and walked away, back out into the rain.

That was the afternoon she ended things with Dean Thomas.

Beyond the prompt, this story was also very much inspired by the song Run by Snow Patrol which I listened to almost non-stop as I wrote it, which helped to shape the image of a wordless encounter between Draco and Ginny.