Red Herring

Ginny sat on a hard wooden chair in her harshly lit dressing room, staring blankly at the mirror before her.

Though her shift had only just begun, she felt exhausted. She supposed it was her own fault, really; working double shifts for weeks straight could do that to you, and she'd only had the scant day off here and there to recuperate.

At least she wouldn't need to worry that her cheeks had begun to hollow out, or that the bags under her eyes looked particularly dark after all the sleep she had been missing, no matter how much concealer she tried to hide them with. But that was the great thing about her job: the anonymity. For eight hours a day, four nights a week she could be someone else entirely. Though when you became any number of different people for twelve hours a day, six nights a week you began to forget who you were supposed to be the rest of the time.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a hard rap on the door and a young woman walked in carrying a plastic tray. There were only three items placed on the flat surface, but the sight of them made her stomach roll; a plastic cup, the contents of which were steadily simmering away, a glass of water and a small vial with a neatly penned label.

Ginevra Potter, 24/12/2007 7:00pm, Room Thirteen, Standard*

It wasn't so much the neat categorisation of tonight's job that rankled her, or the spidery little asterisk that signified that she would be with a special client tonight; when the rich or famous used the service, and especially if they preferred a certain blood status despite the taboo, they were her responsibility. Over the three years she'd worked her job she had proven she could be discreet and could be trusted to not damage herself in a way that could affect her clients, as some of her co-workers were wont to do... And she never even complained about the stranger requests her clients made because they tipped so well.

No, it was the date that gave her that horrible, hollow feeling inside. Christmas Eve, one of their busiest nights, but typically one of only a handful of days she would specifically request off during the year. When her boss had called earlier that day to ask if she could see a very important client tonight, Ginny had jumped at the chance. She was going to spend Christmas Eve alone for the first time in her life, after all, and any kind of distraction was welcome when she thought of how her daughter had begged her for days to spend Christmas with Harry this year. Harry, who valued his family dearly, but only wanted it when it suited him, on his terms. Harry, who had turned a blind eye to her the moment she'd told him she wasn't happy with him, so naturally he'd divorced her, only staying in contact to see his daughter a handful of times during the year. It wasn't his fault that he was so busy at work, but he was still perfectly capable of sending his daughter an owl once in a while.

She couldn't deny that she wasn't hurt by her daughter's preference for her father. Christmas had always been their holiday; staying up late waiting for Santa with scones and hot tea using Ginny's special china, waking up on Christmas day to hunt for the presents "Santa" painstakingly hid throughout the house... Lily loved their little traditions almost as much as her presents.

But all Ginny's work, all of her frugal saving to give her daughter a wonderful Christmas had been for nothing, because Lily would be in Godric's Hollow until Boxing Day.

"Five minutes." The administrator's voice snapped Ginny out of her reverie. "Your client has arrived," she told her before leaving the room.

Ginny was glad the woman had left her alone. Some of the administrators were too curious for their own good, lurking around in the dressing room to watch as Ginny and the other women were preparing for their clients. It made Ginny uncomfortable; she was never sure whether the administrators had a kind of morbid curiosity with her profession, or if they were aspiring to join the ranks. Either way, she didn't care for their fascinated and judgemental looks.

Checking that her robe was loosely secured, she picked up the vial and carefully emptied some of the contents into the plastic cup. A strand of hair slid out, and the slow simmering stopped as the liquid filling the cup reacted to it. There was a decided improvement in the smell as the potion turned a lovely pale green, and Ginny was almost able to convince herself that it was some kind of soup. Ginny lifted the cup and drank the contents, then quickly drained the accompanying glass of water as well to wash the unpleasant taste of the potion from her mouth.

There was a familiar rippling sensation across her skin, but none of the horrible stretching or compression that came with transforming to a differently sized woman, and she sat patiently with her eyes closed while her body changed. The unpleasant sensations became familiar after so many doses of Polyjuice Potion, but Ginny still couldn't bear to see herself mid-transformation.

She gasped when she opened her eyes once more. The woman staring back at her was almost a stranger, though there was the familiar shade of red hair, and the spattering of freckles over her cheekbones. Her skin was lovely - youthful and smooth and practically glowing - her hair thick and lustrous like it had been once, almost a lifetime ago.

She pressed a shaking hand to her new face, unable to process what she was seeing. She was still her, but better. The best version of herself, the version before a life of marriage, motherhood and divorce had ruined her. Someone had been holding onto her hair for a very long time.

Ginny was mortified by the thought that someone was frequenting a Polyjuice brothel with her hair. Horrified that, by a cruel twist of fate in the train-wreck that was her life, she was about to pleasure a man not as a stranger but as herself, and in her moment of total panic Ginny considered packing her things and fleeing the brothel forever.

But she had her daughter to think about and her options were limited: keep her independence, or beg Harry to take her back. As much as she hated it, she was stuck here. Besides, he wouldn't know it was her, and well... it wouldn't really be Ginny at all. The girl in the mirror was a stranger to her, an acquaintance she hadn't seen for years. Ginny Potter could become Ginny Weasley for one evening, just like how she would become another woman on any other night.

Steeling her resolve, she rose from her chair to dress for her client.

Later, she stood outside Room Thirteen with her hand poised to knock on the door. She couldn't think why she'd hesitated, maybe because any further thought would send her running straight to Godric's Hollow.

Before she could make a decision the door swung open on its own, and she felt a little silly for hesitating at all. Taking a deep breath, she stepped inside and quietly shut the door behind her.

The room was dark, but she had spent enough time here to know the layout by heart. It was certainly the fanciest room the establishment had to offer, almost exclusively for Ginny's special clients. Many of the candles mounted on the walls had been snuffed, making it nearly impossible to make out the red- and gold-papered walls, or the crimson carpet. Six steps straight ahead would take her to the red velvet chaise that, despite all appearances, had seen better days, and then another four beyond that would lead her to the base of a monstrous four-poster bed.

There was an off smell to the room, though it wasn't until she heard a rasped intake of breath that she realised her client was smoking.

He regarded her silently from the shadows. "Does it bother you?"

The sound of his voice wasn't unpleasant - deep and smooth, like a fine dark chocolate - but there was a familiarity to it she couldn't place. "No," she lied smoothly, ready to please her client.

He tilted his head, deliberately blowing some across the room and she wrinkled her nose. "Don't make me ask you twice."

What is he playing at? She wondered, before telling him honestly, "Yes, it bothers me."

She wasn't sure if he was smiling at her as he extinguished the cigarette in a nearby ashtray. "Come here, Weasley."

Ginny almost faltered when he called her by her maiden name, so unused to it after so many years, and especially not here, but she carefully strutted over to him. "Stop," he commanded before she reached the shadows where he sat, and she did.

Her hands went to the opening of her robe, and she carefully pulled it over her shoulders before letting it fall to the floor. She glanced at him coyly from lowered lashes, slowly turning to give him the full effect, though he gave no reaction to the sight of her body.

"Enough." She stood still once more, awaiting his next command.

He slowly leaned into the light, and Ginny had to clench her teeth to stop her jaw from dropping in shock. His pale grey eyes still held that calculating look, his firm lips still tilting in that perpetually mocking smirk. Draco Malfoy had gone to great lengths to acquire her hair, and now sat before her waiting for her to pleasure him.

She briefly wondered where his wife and son were on Christmas Eve, but brushed the thought aside immediately. Draco's business with Astoria was none of hers, and she was here to do a job. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to be as rankled by the thought as she ought to be.

Her heart thundered in her chest as she ignored the implications of Draco Malfoy's interest and suddenly she realised what he wanted. Really, she felt ridiculous for not realizing from the moment she had drunk that potion.

Draco Malfoy wanted Ginny Weasley, and by Merlin he had her.

"Come," he commanded, and she couldn't suppress her grin as she crossed her arms, refusing to take another step.

His smirk widened as he stood, taking a measured step toward her. "Come to me, Ginevra."

Her name on his lips sent shivers down her spine, and she wondered at the sensation. He shouldn't make her feel this way. Heck, Harry hadn't, not once through six years of marriage.

"No," she said, and marvelled at the hunger she saw in his eyes. She held his gaze as she slowly walked around the lounge, intending to make her way to the bed and entice him into joining her there.

Ginny barely made it behind the lounge before he was on her. His hands were hot against her skin as he grabbed her waist and pulled her against him, his lips branding hers as they crashed against each other. The back of the lounge dug into her legs as he ground his erection against her forcefully, the wonderful friction of material causing her lingerie to dampen. A moan escaped her lips as his tongue teased her, and for a moment she wondered if she was still the one in control.

She pushed back against him, her fingers burrowing through his silky blonde hair, turning so that he was the one pressed against the lounge, and he let out a growl of approval as her lips trailed down his jaw, teeth grazing softly against his neck.

She unbuttoned his shirt, the expensive material falling away as she pushed it over his shoulders, then the moment his arms were free she found herself scooped up against him. Ginny wrapped her legs around his waist, groaning as his erection pushed urgently against her once more.

He moved to the bed and sat down so Ginny straddled him. His chest was hard beneath her fingers, marred only by a few scars that fascinated her greedy fingers, and his length sat rigidly between her legs. Ginny nipped at his neck as he pushed against her once more, his hand moving to cup her breast while the other held her to him possessively.

Draco pulled the flimsy lace away and ran his finger around her nipple, carefully teasing her before lowering his head and taking it in his mouth. She moaned as his tongue flicked across her skin, steadily stoking the fire that had begun to burn deep within her.

Ginny arched her back as she reached behind her to remove her bra entirely, letting the scrap of lace fall to the ground, and Draco took full advantage as he reached to touch her other breast. He pleasured her, stroking her heated skin until Ginny thought she might die if he didn't enter her then and there.

"I need you," she whispered in his ear, writhing against him when Draco captured her lips once more, only letting her go as she slid lower in his lap to remove his pants.

His erection sprang free, and Ginny found herself yearning to touch him, to find more of the pleasure he had to offer. Somehow Draco Malfoy had become more than a job, just as she'd become more than Ginny Potter, and the idea that he wanted her was enough to drive her mad. She wrapped her hand around him, giving a leisurely stroke and Draco's head dropped back as he moaned her name.

Ginny smiled a real smile and was surprised to realise that she was enjoying herself. Draco Malfoy wasn't her favourite person in the world, but right now... well, he was giving her something that no one else ever had before. Right now nothing mattered except the empowerment she felt from his gaze on her body, from the way his hands caressed her reverently and the way he whispered her name like a final prayer.

She stepped back from the bed, slowly dragging her hands across her torso before pulling down her underwear. Draco leaned up on his elbows, watching her movements with unadulterated lust. His hands moved to her hips as she straddled him once more, his lips covering hers as he pulled her against his heated skin.

His deft fingers trailed across her stomach, the lightest touch that sent shivers across her skin before they swept over her clitoris. She couldn't help but push her body against his as he teased her there, travelling lower to collect the moisture that had gathered between her thighs and spreading it across her skin. She pressed her mouth against his neck, her nails digging into his shoulders as he touched her intimately and gave her what she'd been craving. He dipped one finger inside her leisurely, as his thumb continued to stroke her, relentlessly driving her to the brink.

Ginny almost whimpered when his hand left her, until she felt his erection probing at her entrance. "Look at me," he commanded, but she couldn't, unable to part with his heat.

In a sudden movement he rolled, and she was pressed against the bed, pinned down by his weight. He leaned up on both arms, and she tried to follow him, but he gently pushed her back down, his hand splayed across her neck as he captured her gaze. Instead, she wrapped her legs around him tightly, determined to pull his hips towards hers, but somehow he managed to resist her. "Please," the word slipped from her mouth.

"Not beyond begging," Draco remarked with a smirk before grabbing her legs and pushing inside her in one smooth stroke, and Ginny cried out from the mix of pain and pleasure.

Draco didn't wait for her to adjust to his size, pulling back to thrust into her again. Every movement was hard and rough as pushed into her, more forcefully each time as she grew wetter for him, her legs pulling him even closer so she could rise up to meet him.

She heard him rasp something in her ear, though she could barely formulate a thought, let alone comprehend words, and he drove into her with wild abandon and soon even that wasn't enough.

Ginny pushed him onto his back, following him so she could take control, and she saw the approval in his eyes as he reached up to caress her body. Her hair fell over her shoulders as she leaned toward him, placing her hands either side of his head. She ground her hips hard against his with every downward thrust as she filled herself with him and Ginny felt the pressure of her orgasm build uncontrollably.

As though he could sense she was about to slip over the edge, Draco grabbed her hips to steady her and took over. It wasn't long before the pressure inside her shattered, exploding on a soundless yell and her body arched from the sheer force of it.

She collapsed onto his chest, unable to catch her breath as the aftershocks of her orgasm rolled through her, and she knew from the way Draco tensed as he held her that he'd found his release. His hand touched her lower back lightly, trailing up to pull through her hair in an oddly comforting way before he rolled her over, pushing between her thighs once more.

Draco's time was up, and Ginny was loath to remove herself from the lounge where they had last had sex. It was almost midnight, and she knew she would have to escape before the potion wore off, but that didn't mean she had to like it.

Draco quickly pulled on his clothes as she collected hers, and she could feel him watching her. His assessing gaze made her uncomfortable, especially after the intimacy they had just shared.

Intimacy. Oh Merlin, she had to get out of there before she started having other traitorous thoughts. Avoiding eye contact, she dressed quickly and began to leave.

"You almost fooled me," he said, and Ginny stopped dead in her tracks, dreading his next words. She heard him stand, then a moment later he was by her side, a small velvet purse in his hand.

It was like a slap in the face. Dumbly, she held out her hand and took the weighty purse from him. "For your trouble," he told her, and she quickly slipped through the door before he could say more.

Once she was safely back in her dressing room she was breathing heavily, shaking, though not from the cold. She went to her mirror, dropped her newly acquired purse with a heavy thunk and clutched the table as she stared at her reflection.

She began to change before her eyes - her hair began to thin, her skin returned to its familiar faded pallor, and it wasn't long before Ginny Potter was staring blankly back at her, just as she had five hours ago.

Ginny wasn't sure how long she'd stood there, but a short knock snapped her from her reverie before a stout, middle-aged woman entered. Sinistra Lowe; her somewhat progressive employer, mentor, and conditional friend.

"You seem to have left an impression tonight," her boss said as she shot Ginny a measured look.

Ginny barely spared the woman a glance in the mirror before she moved her attention to her slowly flexing fingers, which were stiff from the tight grip she had kept on the bench. "Don't I always, Sinistra?" she replied.

Sinistra eyed the purse on Ginny's dressing table shrewdly - mentally calculating exactly how many Galleons filled the bulging pouch, no doubt. "Tonight especially," amended Sinistra.

She knew better than to reply. Sinistra was nosy, both when it came to finances and relationships - especially between her staff and clients. This kind of questioning wasn't unusual for Ginny, especially not after an important client.

Ginny could sense Sinistra's gaze on her as she sat down and began brushing her hair. She needed to clean up before she went home to... an empty house.

What was the point? Ginny thought coldly, but continued with her familiar routine regardless.

Ginny blithely prepared to head home for the night, Sinistra remaining curiously silent as she made herself comfortable at one of the other girls' dressing tables. Ginny didn't bother to concern herself with the woman, knowing Sinistra had something to say and would get to the point eventually... though she definitely wasn't in a rush to find out.

It was as she picked up her handbag and began buttoning up her winter coat that Sinistra finally broke the silence. "Your client expressed an interest in an appointment on New Year's Eve." Ginny stilled, her breath bated in anticipation for Sinistra's next words. "Should I confirm his booking?"

The question wasn't a surprise, and honestly Ginny should have prepared herself for it sooner. Being one herself, Sinistra was extremely pro-choice when it came to her pure-blooded employees and fortunately had enough of them on her books to facilitate the policy; as she had always said, the superior girls didn't have to do anything they didn't want to.

Ginny knew what her answer should be. She merely had to say the word, and Draco Malfoy would be taken off her hands and become someone else's problem... But if he came back with Ginny's hair, whoever saw him would know. No, Draco Malfoy was her responsibility, and a problem she needed to deal with on her own.

And though Ginny refused to acknowledge it, there was a tiny part of her that was practically glowing at the thought of seeing Draco again, of experiencing the electrifying heat he had managed to find within her again, slowly thawing the horrible numbness that had taken over the minute she'd left him. He was her client, and they were both free to hide behind the anonymity that their arrangement offered, but her feelings were irrelevant no matter the circumstances.

"I can handle him," she said, ignoring the nagging thought that this would only end in tears.

A/N: As usual, thank you to Hannah Askance for her spectacular beta job and for putting up with my initially awkward attempts at smut. This fic was written for Rowan's Polyjuice Brothel Challenge over at the DG Forum, the criteria for which will be posted below.

Rowan, I really hope you enjoyed it despite my probably-still-awkward first attempt at smut, but I figured if I was going to give it a go then a fic set in a brothel was a good place to start. ;P

To anyone that has been patiently waiting the next chapter of Chaos Theory: Please be patient for a little longer! Some of us aren't lucky enough to get a long break over Christmas, and unfortunately work has actually been busy since I got back, and my boss wouldn't take things too well if I wrote fanfiction instead. I've resolved not to work on anything else until CT is finished (or at least until the next chapter is posted) so once everything settles down it shouldn't be much longer for an update.

Thank y'all for reading and reviewing, and I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing it (bow-chicka-wow-wow).

Polyjuice Brothel Challenge:

Guidelines: Draco Malfoy frequents a Polyjuice brothel armed with strands of Ginny Potter's hair.

Must-haves: must be compliant with canon until at least Post-Hogwarts era, preferably but not necessarily including the Epilogue of Doom. Must feature the pairings of Draco/Astoria and Ginny/Harry.

Length: any.

Rating: T and above.

Bonus Points: A fully developed Polyjuice brothel, not just one mentioned in passing. Familiar faces other than Draco and Ginny.

Deadline: none. This is an open challenge.