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Rufus Scrimgeour paced his office nervously. The dark circles under his eyes clearly defined his old age, while the fatigue in his eyes reflected it. His feet were sore to the bone, and yet he still couldn't stop pacing; it seemed to relax him. The glare of the moonlight flooded the dimly lit office, reflecting off the fine pieces of silver that hung on the walls. The icy winds blew in through the open windows and circulated the room, gently moving the smooth tapestries. The night was cold and unfriendly, like most of nature was to Scrimgeour. He had never seemed to find the comfort that others found in walking through the tall grass that gently tickled your legs, or smelling the flowers while their petals ruffled against the tip of your nose. It all seemed so arbitrary and pointless.

Power, on the other hand, was different. Status and authority gave meaning to life like nothing else he did. The control and influence that one can have over thousands of people was alluring and definitely enticing. Scrimgeour placed his hand on the sumptuous chair in front of him, the chair of the Minister of Magic. He remembered sitting across from that chair, waiting for Fudge to arrive and just imagining the feeling of supremacy.

Scrimgeour turned to a portrait of his grandfather, Albert Scrimgeour. The man in the portrait was strict in appearance. He had shoulder length grey hair that was tied back in a pony tail. The man wore long violet robes with gold seaming and a silver ring on his finger. The man's posture was rigid and upright, and his eyes were cold and blank.

Scrimgeour poured himself a glass of Fire Whiskey as he recalled his late grandfather's words of advice to him. He was only thirteen when his grandfather had lost out to a woman for the post of Minister of Magic. Bitterness had overwhelmed the old man, but he still did not lose his wisdom. Scrimgeour closed his eyes as the words echoed in his mind. Never stop fighting, boy. The only thing that can come between a person and success is death.

And so it had been. Until his last days, Albert Scrimgeour fought every way to ascend to Minister of Magic, but never succeeded. Scrimgeour closed his eyes and thought of his plan and Draco. He had chosen the right man for the job. The plan that he had formed was indeed conniving, but had enormous potential and nothing but death would get between him and his goal.

Scrimgeour raised his glass of Fire Whiskey to his grandfather's portrait and whispered into the stony silence, "Till death."
***

Harry awoke from his dreamless sleep suddenly. He looked over at the bedside table and quickly grabbed his glasses, which, after he put them on, brought everything around him into focus. The gentle orange glow in the sky indicated that it was right before sunrise. The magnificent rays of the sun shone proudly and engulfed the heavens in their beauty. Harry looked at his window and found the cause of his sudden awakening.

Hedwig was noisily tapping at the window, indicating that she wanted to be let in. The snow outside was collecting on her feathers, and she clearly did not like it. Harry walked over to his window and let his faithful owl in, who immediately started to sip some water from her cage. He gently untied the letter that she was holding and held it in his hands. The envelope was a plain white one, and it was addressed to Harry Potter. Harry immediately recognized the writing as Lupin's and quickly opened the letter and read it.

Harry,
Glad to hear things are getting along well at the Weasley's. I'm probably going to end up spending Christmas nearby London, so I might be able to drop by and see you all. As for Malfoy, I think you should give him a chance, even though you have your differences. Bury the past and start a new future... trust me, Harry, it's the best way. Keep in touch.
Regards,
Remus

Harry re-read the letter again, for the second time, and recited one particular line in his head. Bury the past and start a new future...trust me, Harry. Harry was reminded of Hermione's lecture when she had told him to tell Ginny about his feelings. Why was everybody telling him the same thing? Harry stroked Hedwig lightly as she nibbled on some pellets. He folded the letter neatly and walked over to his trunk, where he placed it carefully.
***

"Bill! Have you seen the candy canes that I bought last week?" Mrs. Weasley bellowed as she paced the house frantically.

"No, I haven't. Why do you need them?"

"Oh, never mind," Mrs. Weasley said irritably. She looked under sofas and in cabinets, but couldn't find the box of peppermint candy canes that she had bought last week.

"Ginny, have you seen them?"

"No, I haven't, Mum. Nobody has! Just buy a new pack."

"Your father is going to be here with the Christmas tree any minute, and I need the decorations. I found the box of ornaments, but the candy canes are missing!"

Everyone was running around the house trying to find something. Harry was helping Mrs. Weasley find her precious candy canes, while Ron and the rest of the Weasley brothers were searching for tree trimmers, ribbons, and candles.

Ginny was alone in the attic, rummaging through old trunks to find the Christmas star that they always put on their tree.

Suddenly, she felt two strong arms come up from behind her, and grab onto her waist.

She smiled to herself, and then without looking at the figure, spoke to him.

"Draco," she whispered gently. "Not here...someone might see."

Draco turned Ginny around and kissed her softly on the edge of her lip. He stroked her back and then started to peck on her neck.

"Let them see," he replied quietly. "I don't care."

He pulled Ginny into a deep kiss and she did the same. The two were in their own world and were suddenly pulled out when Mr. Weasley called out from below.

"Ginny! Come down here, look at the tree!"

Ginny suddenly pulled back, while Draco stumbled a bit. The two caught their breath and Ginny placed her fingers on her lips and realized they were swollen. God, how long have we been kissing? she wondered. She quickly pecked Draco on the cheek and ran downstairs to her father.

"Wow, the tree is gorgeous," Ginny squeaked as she entered the living room where a tall, magnificent Christmas tree stood. The tree seemed to have every branch intact, and it stood tall over everyone in the room, even Draco, who had now joined the family.

"So, Draco," Mr. Weasley began. "How do you like it?"

Draco smiled. "It's beautiful. I can't remember a time at my house when my father actually went down and brought a tree himself."

Mrs. Weasley brought out some tea while everyone decorated the Christmas tree. By the end of the evening, there were over a hundred different ornaments, trimmings, candy canes (which Hermione had found hidden under Ron's pillow) and a shimmering gold star at the pinnacle. During his life at Malfoy Manor, Draco had never recalled his expensive, professionally decorated Christmas trees to look as beautiful as this one did.
***

Harry looked into his mirror and adjusted his messy hair. He pressed it down, ruffled it harder and even put gel into it, but nothing seemed to make it look decent. Finally, he gave up and took one final look at himself. He was wearing a blue button down shirt with a dark jacket and black pants that contrasted against his bottle green eyes. He sighed heavily.

"You don't look at that bad," a voice mused from behind.

Harry turned and smiled at Ginny, who was standing at the doorway. "I look like a baboon," he said.

"Well," Ginny pondered, "a very cute baboon. Are you going somewhere?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah."

Ginny walked into the room and sat down on a chair. "And who are you going out with?"

Harry tried to hide his surprise as Ginny giggled. "Just because I'm going out doesn't mean it has to be a date."

"Oh, come on, Harry. I've known you long enough to know that you never care about the way you look unless you're going out with a girl. Now who is she?"

Harry sighed. "Lavender Brown."

Ginny looked up in astonishment. "Lavender? The one whom you broke up with?"

"I never broke up with her!" Harry said resentfully. "It's just something Rita Skeeter made up to boost the circulation of Witch Weekly."

Ginny laughed. "Well, I hope you have a great time. I just need to borrow some of those weird mint things that make your breath smell nice."

Harry raised an eyebrow. "And why do you need them?"

Ginny smiled slyly. "Because I'm going out too."

Harry couldn't hide is disappointment. "Oh," he said shortly. "With whom?"

"With no one. Now can I please have them?"

"Not before you tell me."

"Come on, Harry. Please!"

Harry huffed and reached for his coat pockets. He took out some small packaged candies and threw two at Ginny, who caught them expertly.

"Thank you so much!" she said excitedly. She gave Harry a quick hug and walked out the door. Harry didn't have time to think about what had just happened since Hedwig started to peck on his watch.

"Hedwig, what is it?" Harry suddenly looked at his watch and realized he was already almost twenty minutes late. He ran out the door and towards the Weasley's living room and apparated to Lavender Brown's doorstep.

***
"You brought me to the roof of my house?" Ginny asked incredulously.

"Yes, I did," Draco stated flatly. "But there's more. Close your eyes."

Ginny quickly shut her eyes and felt Draco grab onto her hand. He guided her around the roof and stopped her somewhere near the edge. Ginny opened her eyes and saw a beautiful, polished broomstick standing right in front of her.

Ginny couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. She had expected a romantic dinner for two or a bracelet or anything other than a racing broom. However, it seemed that Draco knew that. He held out his hand to her and smiled.

"Let's take it for a ride."

Ginny's eyes widened. "What?"

"I got this broom last year, and I haven't used it since. Let's go try it out."

He mounted the broom and Ginny took his hand. She sat in front of him on the broomstick and felt the cool night breeze hit her face softly. Ginny lightly leaned back on Draco and placed her head on his shoulder as he smoothly kicked off the ground. They soared into the night sky.

The moonlight danced playfully around the two of them as they flew effortlessly between clouds. The lights from the cities below looked like a cluster of distant stars, all waving merrily to the Ginny. Ginny couldn't deny it: this was the perfect date. No boy had ever taken her on such a thrilling, romantic date, not even Harry. She closed her eyes and placed her hands softly on Draco's.

"Having fun?" Draco whispered into her ear.

Ginny nodded. "More than I ever could've dreamed."

Ginny turned her head towards Draco's and kissed him. Her lips melted against his and she could feel her heartbeat quicken. If it hadn't been for Draco pulling back, she was sure they could've kissed for hours.

"What's the matter?" Ginny asked.

"If we keep doing this, I'm going to crash into something pretty soon."

"Oh, alright," Ginny said, sounding annoyed.

Draco kissed her cheek and the two continued soaring over the tiny houses, for the first time, content with their lives.

***

"Harry! You're late!" Lavender was glaring at Harry Potter, who stood at her doorway.

"I'm sorry, Lavender. I just lost track of time."

"Apologies don't work anymore," she said. She was wearing a pink dress with white trimmings. Her hair was tied up in a braid and was then decorated with small silver beads. "I spent so much time getting ready."

"And you look beautiful," Harry said gently. "Come on, please. I even got you roses."

Harry gave Lavender a bunch of fresh, fully bloomed roses and it seemed to do the trick.

She smiled slightly and then smelled the roses in her hands. "Well...they are pretty, and I did spend a lot of time getting dressed..."

Harry held out his arm and she took it. "So where are we going?" she asked.

"Dinner...but I think our reservation has expired."

"Oh, don't worry about it," Lavender said, giggling. "You're Harry Potter. The entire restaurant would turn itself upside down to allow you a seat at their table."

Harry tried to laugh along with Lavender, but couldn't get his mind off Ginny. Just the thought of Ginny sitting with some other guy right now made Harry feel a bit uneasy.
***
"Ron, put on your sweater."

"Mum, please! I'm bloody old enough. I don't need to wear a sweater!"

"Ronald Weasley, you are not 'bloody' old enough. Now put on that jumper before I impale you."

Fred and George were rolling around the floor in laughing fits as Mrs. Weasley forced a yellow jumper over Ron's head. It was a cold December morning, and Mrs. Weasley had been insisting all morning that he put on a thick jumper so he wouldn't catch a cold.

"Ron, you already have a cold! You're going to infect Hermione, and that's bad for the baby!"

"So, this isn't even about me? All you care about is the baby?"

"Stop being so silly, Ron! Just put on the sweater!"

"You know what, Mum? I won't."

"Fine! But you won't be able to sleep in the same bed as Hermione. I will not let you jeopardize the health of my granddaughter!"

Ron started to go red. He rolled his eyes and gave in. Mrs. Weasley pulled the sweater over his head, and he angrily stormed out of the room.

Mrs. Weasley shook her head in disbelief. "Kids these days!"

***
Ginny woke up slowly, and could hear loud laughter coming from downstairs. She cursed her brothers and turned her head. She grabbed the nearest pillow on her bed and put it over her head to block out the constant noise coming from the living room.

She felt something hard under her pillow and got up grumpily. Her hands were rummaging under the pillow, trying to find whatever it was that wasn't allowing her to sleep, and finally she found it.

It was a piece of rolled parchment with a thin, green silk ribbon tied delicately around it. Ginny suddenly came into full consciousness as she opened it up quickly. The parchment was written on with beautiful scripture.

Mr. Draco Malfoy,
It is with pleasure that we request the honor of your presence at the annual Ministry of Magic Christmas Ball. This tradition has been ongoing for hundreds of years when employees and employers gather together as equals and enjoy a night of dinner, music and dance. You are welcome to bring a guest with you. All attending male members are requested to wear dress robes and all attending female members are requested to wear either dress robes or a dress.
We look forward to seeing you there,
Sincerely,
Doris Craywalker - Assistant to Minister of Magic

Ginny jumped out of her bed and quickly dove into her closet, trying to find a robe. She put it on quickly over her pajamas and darted out the door.

"Draco? Draco, open the door!" Ginny whispered.

Ginny hastily knocked on Draco's door, trying to be as quiet as possible. Draco took about five minutes to open it. He was wearing dark maroon pajamas and looked tired.

"What happened, Ginny?" he asked amidst a yawn.

Ginny hushed him up and quickly went into his room. She closed the door behind her and took out the roll of parchment. "What is this?" she asked.

"What do you mean 'what is it?' It's parchment." Draco said, smiling slightly.

"I know it's parchment, but why was it under my pillow?"

"I put it there. Last night."

"Why?"

"Well, have you read it?"

"Of course I've read it!"

"And?"

"What do you mean 'and'? What if someone had found it, Draco? I don't want my family to get involved in our relationship. My family still feels a bit weird around this good version of you."

"That's not what I mean. Will you go with me?"

"Go where?"

"To the Christmas ball," Draco said.

Ginny suddenly stopped short. The Christmas Ball. She'd forgotten the content of the letter over all the hype about her family finding it. Draco had just asked her to go the Ministry Ball with him. Ginny remembered her mother getting ready for the annual Christmas Ball, and she'd always been so envious, wanting to dress up herself. Now that her father was retired from the Ministry, he didn't go anymore.

"Well..." Ginny started. "Of course I'll go with you, idiot." She hugged Draco tightly.

"Good," Draco said. "So you'd better start getting ready this afternoon."

"Excuse me...what?"

"The Ball is tonight, Gin. Didn't you know?"

"Does this look like the face of someone who knows? Draco! I have to find a gown or a dress and shoes! MY GOD! I don't have any shoes. I can't live like this...I won't be able to get ready..."

"Ginny, sweetheart, calm down." Draco placed his strong hands on Ginny's tender shoulders. She took a few deep breaths. "How about we go shopping? I'll take you."

"No...no..."Ginny said. "I'm okay. I'll go get something myself, but I still hate you, Draco."

She walked out the door, muttering something to herself and cursing Draco under her breath. Draco was a bit puzzled as to what had just happened, but decided to get ready and head downstairs.

***

Ginny had taken a few moments to calm down, and then she'd gone to her apartment and picked up her favorite dress. She'd bought this dress for an exclusive Witch Weekly party, but missed the chance of wearing it because she'd been sick. Tonight she would wear it and blow Draco away.

She felt like a princess today, with her beautiful dress and prince charming. She smiled to herself. Tonight she didn't have to be afraid of her family members finding out about her relationship with Draco. Her dad wasn't going to the ball, and none of her brothers worked at the Ministry. She was so excited. She reminisced about her romantic slow dances with Draco and their subtle flirting at dinner. It would be the perfect night, but it seemed that she was forgetting something...
***


Two floors below, Harry reread the piece of parchment that had been sent to him a week ago.

Mr. Harry Potter,
It is with pleasure that we request the honor of your presence at the annual Ministry of Magic Christmas Ball. This tradition has been ongoing for hundreds of years when employees and employers gather together as equals and enjoy a night of dinner, music and dance. You are welcome to bring a guest with you. All attending male members are requested to wear dress robes and all attending female members are requested to wear either dress robes or a dress.
We look forward to seeing you there,
Sincerely,
Doris Craywalker - Assistant to Minister of Magic

Harry shook his head jadedly and took out his dress robes. He smiled as he remembered his fourth year during the Yule Ball. Ron wore hideous, frilly dress robes, while Hermione wore her beautiful blue ones. Ginny had looked so gorgeous that night.

Harry had debated for hours about inviting Ginny, but in the end, he'd invited Lavender. His work in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement as an Auror required him to fight many battles, but the one he was fighting within himself was the hardest one yet.

***

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