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Being Draco Malfoy’s girlfriend was changing Ginny’s life. She enjoyed the privileges it brought, was miserable about not being able to talk to her friends, and was terrified of Lucas. Everywhere she went, she felt his eyes on her. She simply moved closer to Draco and started a PDA. It was their code for Watch out for Lucas. As much as she disliked Malfoy, he was the only safe link she had to her old world. And, horror of horrors, she was actually starting to get along with Draco Malfoy. When they were studying with Blaise, he actually acted like a human being. True the study sessions usually turned into perfectly timed PDA (to Blaise’s amusement as he sat back and watched), until Madame Pince chased them from the library, but the banter up until then was no different then when she had studied with her friends last year. She was growing fond of Blaise. He made it easy for both her and Draco to relax. For Draco’s sake, she hoped he wasn’t the spy they feared he was. “Hogsmeade Trip on Halloween and then the Great Feast is a masque ball.” Blaise plopped down across from Ginny and Draco at breakfast. “Got any costume ideas?” “Not yet. We’ll check out the new costume shop in Hogsmeade. Madame Fright’s, I do believe. Rather lame pun. You?” “Something dashing and heroic to make the girls swoon. Come on, Ginny. Share what the girls are attracted to. Help a poor dateless boy out, will you? Please?” Ginny thought for a moment. “Over the summer, I saw an American movie called The Mask of Zorro. The hero was a masked swordsman, who fought to save the people from an evil governor. The role would be perfect for you. A dashing rogue dressed in black should ensure at least two girls fighting for your attention by the end of the night,” she offered. “Sounds perfect. Thanks, Ginny” Blaise kissed her cheek and ran off. “So the lady is attracted to dashing rogues?” Draco raised an eyebrow at her. “I had better find a suitable costume before I lose you to Blaise.” “Don’t be stupid, Draco,” she said sharply. “Not like I ha-“ The tingling on the back of her neck alerted her to Lucas’s presence, and she switched tactics abruptly. “Not like I could ever love anyone other than you.” Draco’s eyes flashed up and seeing Lucas, he leaned forward to kiss her. “I’ll never let you leave me.” Ginny wrapped Draco’s green and silver scarf around her neck ignoring the pointed glares of her fellow Gryffindors. She left the common room without speaking to anyone. Draco was waiting for her outside the portrait hole. She looked around. “Where’s Blaise?” “He’s not going. His mum sent his costume along with a private tutor in swordplay. He’ll meet us at the feast. Rumor has it that Dumbledore booked The Weird Sisters to play tonight.” “Can you dance?” “Of course I can dance.” He paused. “Why do you ask?” “Neville couldn’t.” “Longbottom is a clumsy oaf. I can dance, and I found the perfect costumes.” They joined the group of kids standing in front of the school. He opened the magazine flier and pointed to a picture. “These.” Ginny stood in Pansy’s room, waiting for the other girl to finish getting ready. Ginny had been ready for fifteen minutes, but Pansy was still trying to arrange her black curly hair like Ginny’s. Ginny’s hair hung straight to her waist under a spectacular gold diadam. Her eyes were lined with kohl, and she wore a fabulously bejeweled Egyptian costume. Pansy wore a cheap gold imitation in the ever present attempt to win back Draco. Ginny straightened her chiffon skirt. Pansy looked at her in the mirror. “Who are you supposed to be again?” “Akasha, Queen of the Damned.” At Pansy’s confused look, she elaborated. “One of the vampires from Draco’s Anne Rice novels. He’s going to be the Vampire, Lestat. And you are?” From Pansy’s look, she could tell the girl didn’t have any idea, and she doubted that Pansy even knew where the costume had originated. Taking pity on her, Ginny added, “One of the great Egyptian Queens of course, but which one?” She watched as Pansy thought for a moment. “Cleopatra.” How original, Ginny thought, but didn’t voice her sarcasm. “Of course. Do you mind if I go on ahead?” “Not at all. See you at the Feast.” Ginny slipped from the room and hurried to the Great Hall, hoping to arrive before the ball started, but Pansy had made her late. So every eye was on her as she entered. Draco appeared at her side and pulled her into the dance. Other than a few edgewise glances, everyone returned their attention to their partners. Ginny leaned against Draco, whispering quietly, “You couldn’t have chosen a less attention-getting costume for me?” “On the contrary, I wanted us to stand out and be the center of attention.” “Oh, I stand out, alright. I expect my brother will write to Mum tonight, explaining how well I stood out-wait a moment-why do you want us to stand out?” “I have my reasons. Think of it this way. Our lives depend on how well we stand out.” He pulled her closer. “What do you think of my costume?” “Very appealing. Surprisingly enough.” The song ended and Pansy chose this moment to make her grand entrance, shocking everyone. Ginny looked up at Draco. “I swear that outfit wasn’t like that when I left her!” Ginny had thought her own costume was revealing. Pansy had reduced hers to an ill-fitting gold lamae bikini with a see through skirt and enough jewelry to sink a boat. As Pansy swayed towards them, Draco backed away. “I doubt she was this drunk either.” Professor Snape caught their eyes and jerked his head towards Pansy. With a sigh, Draco pulled out a chair for Ginny. “Stay right here. I’ll be right back.” He summoned Crabbe and Goyle. Between the three of them, they managed to move Pansy out of the Great Hall. Ginny didn’t notice the man in black behind her until he held out a rose to her. “For the Senorita!” he said in a heavily fake Spanish accent. “Blaise! Your costume is wonderful.” “Por favor. Would the senorita care to dance?” “Of course ‘Zorro’ I would love to.” He pulled her to her feet and skillfully led her through the dance, guiding her into a room off the Great Hall. “Blaise?” she asked nervously. Then she saw that Zorro’s eyes beneath the mask were not Blaise’s honest blue, but an acid green. “No, Ginevra.” He spun her around and grabbed one of the chains around her neck, pulling it tight around her throat.

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