It is said that as a dragonfly grows older, it becomes more beautiful and iridescent.
So it is said, in some cultures, that a woman is like a dragonfly. As she grows older,
her wisdom and experience only increases her beauty.
Chapter 1 – A world without romance.
Ginny Weasley muttered yet another curse under her breath.
She waved another one away from the dessert table and scowled as it responded with a tinkling giggle. She could only imagine her look of disgust as three more buzzed around her head.
It was a satisfying sound as the faerie bounced off her hand and back into the shrubs, as she watched the bright glowing creature fly away somewhat awkwardly.
The fact that faeries were highly revered creatures that represented everything beautiful and romantic gave her little pause in her attempt to eradicate them. At the moment, they were pests. Pests that were doing their best to ruin both the dessert table and, consequently, her professional reputation.
She was simply not in a good mood.
But it was her job, so ...
She sent another one spinning off into the shrubs along the edge of the tastefully decorated patio. Her love life was in shambles, yet again, and the creatures only seemed to taunt her further with every attack they made on the once pristine dessert table.
Perhaps she should have delegated the task to another member of her staff, but she wasn't one to avoid unpleasant duties. As Assistant Coordinator for Tinkerton's Perfect Party Planners, it was her responsibility to ensure that the event ran smoothly and, therefore, she was obligated to do whatever was deemed necessary for the client's event or function to be successful.
She'd endured many things over the past two years: fussy brides, numerous magical mishaps, and difficult clients, but this was her first faerie encounter. It never failed to amaze her that there was such a broad range of activities that seemed to fall under such an innocent-sounding job description.
The task of protecting the desserts from the thieving little beasties was mundane and frustrating, but it offered her the chance to be alone.
Unfortunately, she was quickly realizing that the situation had given her far too much time to dwell on the negatives in her life and the sequence of events that had gotten her to this rather low point.
The patio she was currently standing on was part of the estate of Mr. Cornelius Sutherland, owner of the Puddlemere United Quidditch team and the event was a simple banquet being thrown to kick off the start of the new Quidditch season.
That in itself reminded her of how she'd come to be working as a caterer, and how disappointed she was with the choices that had led her to that particular career.
When the guests had arrived and she saw all the professional Quidditch players, she'd cursed the choices that had led her away from trying to play professionally after she left school. Fred and George had encouraged her but, after leaving Hogwarts, she found herself drifting, with no clear plans for her future.
Looking back, she realized that her lack of ambition likely had its roots in her short but complete infatuation with Harry Potter. All she'd wanted at the time was to live a happily ever after with him, and it left her bereft of any clear plans for a career.
Her life had slipped along easily enough after finishing her seventh year. When she needed to start earning some money, she found herself working for her brothers Fred and George at the joke shop. It had turned out to be quite fun for a while, and she remembered those months fondly. During that same time, Harry had been away for Auror training, and she saw very little of him so the distraction of being with the twins had kept her busy and somewhat entertained.
She loved her brothers, but it didn't take long before she found that working for them had its own unique problems. First, both living and working with members of her family left her feeling just a bit stifled. Also, she quickly grew tired of being used as a regular test dummy for the twins' latest creations. The final straw had been when she was forced to endure a week sporting a set of small, yet bright blue, dragon wings before a proper antidote could be manufactured.
Finding herself in desperate need of a change, she'd randomly chosen to apply for a job at Tinkerton's. It had been her first step to becoming the new, independent Ginny. She'd had little doubt that at the time it had been a good choice. Although it didn't yet pay enough to afford to leave home, her success at the company had given her self-confidence that she'd never really had before. Her ability to organize, and her natural leadership abilities made her a perfect fit for this type of career, and normally she enjoyed her work. Except for tonight.
A slightly evil smile crossed her face. She was sure that that particular faerie would be seeing double for a week. Hopefully it would fly off and leave her alone for the rest of the evening.
No good little harbingers of romantic doom, she muttered to herself.
That small victory aside, she tried to focus on the fact that her life wasn't currently all bad. As far as her career was concerned, she was doing quite well. She had worked her way up from being on the catering staff as a waitress, to leading the catering division, to now being an Assistant Event Coordinator, and she was proud of her accomplishment. She'd received her rapid promotions based on hard work, good organizational skills and attention to detail. Now, she was looking forward to being moved from assistant to a full-fledged event coordinator.
Unfortunately, the skills which had helped her excel in her new found career apparently did her no good whatsoever in the romance department. Around the same time that she started working at Tinkerton's, her relationship with Harry Potter had floundered. The breakup had been difficult, but she felt it was for the best, and she remained grateful that they'd been able to remain friends. In the two years after Harry, she managed a long string of failed romances, each boyfriend seemingly worse than the last. The last being the one that finally forced her to renounce relationships entirely.
After all, it wasn't just the faeries that had her in a foul mood. Truth be told, the main reason why she had chosen the duty to be alone outside defending the dessert table instead of working indoors with the rest of the staff was quite more personal than professional.
She was avoiding one of the guests.
Taking her anger out on the bothersome faerie seemed to help. But, she chastised herself for allowing her thoughts to stray down that path.
She checked her watch. Dinner was almost over, and soon the guests would be dancing and mingling. The rest of her staff was busy with clearing plates and pouring after dinner coffee. With a little luck, she would soon be done with the evening and, hopefully, would be on her way to earning her next promotion. She tried to focus on that, instead of her personal peeves and, in particular, the one Quidditch player that she least wanted to encounter tonight.
Fortunately, he hadn't noticed her...yet and she fully intended for it to remain that way.
She muttered a particularly ugly curse as another faerie zoomed in to steal a cherry off the top of the top stack of the rainbow torte.
"That's hardly appropriate language," she heard an amused drawl from behind her.
Startled by the sudden realization that she wasn't alone, she jumped and turned wide-eyed to the intruder, staring down at his feet to hide her embarrassment. The action only seemed to amuse the man further, as she heard him chuckle softly. Oh, why me? she thought, as she realized she had not been exactly discreet in her efforts. Her stomach dropped when she looked up and recognized the interloper.
Well, to correct her earlier statement, there were two people she would have liked to avoid this evening.
In truth, Malfoy was no where near the insufferable git that he had once been. She'd seen him at several functions while working at the caterer's, although she'd never personally interacted with him. From all accounts that she'd heard, he'd matured since school and had been nothing but polite and well-mannered. Also, from the gossip that was regularly printed in the society news, he seemed to be turning into a rather charming and competent businessman.
That said, he was also rather handsome and she was quite sick of hearing her staff fawn over the man.
At the moment, she truly had no desire to deal with him in her current annoyed state of mind. Her initial instinct was to insult him. Several sharp retorts came to mind, but she held her tongue because she was representing Ms. Tinkerton at this event, after all. She really should be polite.
Oh, hell, no. Who was she kidding?
"If you're here to get a dessert, Mr. Malfoy, please do so. But as you can see, I've got more important things to be concerned about than your sensitivity to my language."
He raised an eyebrow, apparently surprised by her rude tone, but then, he smiled. The bastard seemed amused.
"I wouldn't say I'm sensitive, but I am curious, Miss, ahh, Weasley, isn't it?"
She glared at him. A small part of her had hoped he hadn't remembered her from school but, apparently, she wasn't that fortunate. It only added to her bad mood.
"I'm afraid I can't help you with your issues at the moment, as you can see, I'm very busy."
She shooed another faerie away from the punch bowl, restraining herself from smacking the creature only because she now had a witness to her rather unkind actions.
"Ah yes, you look quite busy, out here all alone, chasing innocent faeries," he said casually motioning to the table.
"I'd hardly call the things innocent," she responded somewhat irritably, desperately wishing for him to go away. He didn't. In fact, he remained where he was, standing casually and looking rather comfortable about being there, as if expecting her to continue speaking with him.
Giving into a desire to nudge him on his way, she said, "Don't you have people elsewhere who are missing your charming presence?" There was no missing the sarcastic tone as she emphasized the word charming.
But her question had little effect. His response was to casually lean against the table, as if he was settling in for a nice, long chat. In that moment, she could see why her coworkers were always talking about him after an event. He definitely knew how to look good. Unfortunately, she really didn't care what he looked like while he was in the process of annoying her.
"I happen to like being out here," he said distractedly, as he reached across her and grabbed a pastry from the table, several of the lighted faeries buzzing around delightedly as he smiled at them. The creatures giggled in response, making the area glow with enchantment.
Inwardly, she snarled.
She decided to change tactics and simply ignore him. If she didn't, she would likely say something inappropriate. After all, she really didn't want to get sacked over something so trivial as insulting a guest, even if said guest was one as annoying as Malfoy.
She heard him chuckle again, as he watched her ineffectively trying to stop two bright yellow faeries from flying off with a piece of cake. She took a deep sigh as she realized that her evening had just taken a turn for the worse. While there was nothing she would have enjoyed more than walking away, she was currently trapped here until someone from her staff was free from their dinner duties.
"Most here would disagree with your statement about the faeries, you know," he added, as if she was actually interested in conversing with him. "I find them quite charming."
Again, a small group of the creatures happily glowed brightly, the enchanted light reflecting off the wizard's pale hair, making him look almost angelic. Ginny silently cursed again. It would figure that the creatures that were causing her so much difficulty seemed delighted with him, and worse, seemed more than happy to make the handsome man even more attractive. Damn him.
"You would," she said as she swatted a green-hued one off the champagne fountain. The only thing worse than a bothersome faerie was a drunk bothersome faerie...and Draco Malfoy.
"And here I thought I was coming out here to make pleasant conversation with a beautiful woman." The teasing note in his voice only added to her irritation at the moment.
The words sunk in and she was momentarily taken aback. Did he just compliment her? Egads, what was the world coming to? First faeries, and now this.
"Yes, and then you found out that I was only a Weasley and you chose to simply come out here and find a way to torment me and make my life miserable."
"You seemed to be doing just fine all by yourself. Who am I to ruin such a moment?"
She merely glared at him with pure loathing.
"Careful, Miss Weasley. I wouldn't want your claws to accidentally shred the tablecloth." He laughed, motioning at her hands which currently were maintaining a death grip on the edge of the table.
She quickly released the table and tried to regain her composure. She'd been so involved in her own reverie that his approach had caught her off guard. What was keeping her off balance was the fact that his tone had none of the cruel malice that she would have expected from him. She looked at him, trying to figure out what he might be playing at.
Fortunately, she didn't have to delve too deeply into the matter because one of the staff was approaching, giving her the opportunity to turn away from the man.
"Miss. Weasley, we're ready to pour the toast but there seems to be dispute over whether to charm the crystal toast glasses silver or black. Apparently, the owner of the Puddlemere United disagrees with using silver and the Titans owner almost started a fight over it."
"As the owner of the Falcons, I'd prefer gold," she heard a silky voice whisper into her ear. She jumped, startled by the unexpected closeness of Malfoy and almost fell into him, the girl in front of her observing the interaction wide-eyed.
Ginny attempted to recover quickly, and forced her temper into submission. If she hadn't been currently working, with an employee directly in front of her, she would have hexed him.
"I'll take care of it, Clarice. Please stay here and watch the dessert table. Try to keep it tidy, and please try to keep the faeries out of the punch..." Without looking back, she stalked off to resolve the latest small crisis.
A quick charm to allow the glasses to change to the appropriate team colors based on the holder's preference averted the toast crisis, but it cost Ginny the anonymity that she'd been trying to maintain for the evening.
She was just hurrying back toward the kitchens when she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Marcus." Her ex. Not like the Harry sort of 'ex' with whom she could remain friends. No this was the sort of ex-boyfriend that she truly did not want to associate with ever again.
- - -
Draco watched the redhead from across the room. At the very least, she had brought him some amusement for the evening. She was certainly far more interesting than his date who, despite being stunning, didn't seem to have half a brain. Not that he cared. The brainless ones were useful for events such as this and he didn't have to worry about commitment.
He truly hadn't realized that the attractive woman he'd seen out alone on the patio had been Weasley's sister, not that it would have mattered.
He'd been bored and had wandered outside to get away from another endless discussion on player statistics from the previous season. Taking in the fresh air, he'd found himself fortunate enough to see a lovely woman, all by herself, whose faerie-swatting actions simply begged for attention. Even if he had identified her as a Weasley immediately, he likely would have approached her anyway.
The conversation with her had been more fun than he'd expected. The Weasley's fiery temper didn't fail to disappoint him. She quite obviously had already been in some sort of a snit and prodding her had entertained him greatly.
Now, as his date wandered off to flirt with the various Quidditch players, he casually settled against the far wall to unobtrusively observe the girl further. After all, one needed to have some sort of a hobby during parties that proved to be as dull as this one. Watching the colorful girl who had a talent for using equally colorful language seemed to be as good a choice as any.
His first observation was that she seemed competent. After marching back in from the patio, she had immediately changed to a cool professional facade as she negotiated a truce between the disputing owners. She appeared to be somewhat in charge of coordinating the event and, as he watched her interact with her staff, he concluded that she handled people well.
As she turned back to the kitchens, he noticed Marcus Hutchins, the star Beater from Puddlemere, approach her. Hutchins was a persistent bloke and Draco found it funny when she effectively snubbed him.
By the evening's end, Draco had decided that he found her to be intriguing despite the fact that she was a Weasley. But he really was working to look beyond such shortcomings. Times had changed, after all.
Besides, teasing her had been far more fun than he wanted to admit. He felt a compulsion to continue to provoke her, if only for his own amusement. Better yet, he thought, her occupation could be used to provide ample opportunity. It just so happened that he had such an opportunity ready and waiting.
As the party drew to a close, Ginny was able to work with her staff to clear away the remaining party debris.
Fortunately, Marcus had already made his departure with his teammates. But, as she cleared up used napkins and empty glasses, she noticed Malfoy glancing over at her with an amused smirk on his face. Her mood once again plummeted, as she surmised that he was simply waiting for the opportune moment to approach her with some snarky or embarrassing comment. She'd already had quite enough of him this evening, and avoiding both him and Marcus was, quite frankly, getting on her nerves.
Looking for a polite way to avoid him, she glanced around the room and noticed one person who, if not exactly a friend, was certainly not an enemy. She tactfully maneuvered over to that area of the room. Still feeling Malfoy's steady gaze, she turned to charmingly strike up a conversation with Oliver Wood, introducing herself as Fred and George's little sister. Their conversation was short by necessity, due to her work, but she made sure it was long enough to see Malfoy leave the area with his date cling