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Harry sat awake in the middle of the night in his bed. Dark circles were forming under his eyes, but he felt no sleep or fatigue. If truth be told, he felt nothing but remorse, remorse about messing up his first and only chance with Ginny. Harry’s sudden break up with Lavender had brought life to a new perspective: one that was dark and somber and one that made Harry face reality: Ginny didn’t love him.

Harry got up and took out a piece of parchment. Throughout his life, Harry had always found solace in Lupin’s advice. Lupin was not only very wise, but also someone who cared about Harry a great deal and wanted the best for him. He needed Lupin’s advice now; he needed to tell someone the truth and this was the moment to do it. He rolled out his parchment and started scribbling out every feeling inside of him. An hour later, as Harry’s watch stated, Harry put the final full stop at the end of his last sentence and held the letter up to the light. He reread the letter to make sure it made sense; or as much sense as a letter written at two in the morning could make.

Thanks for your last letter, Remus. Life is the same here at the Burrow, and everyone is doing fine. Hopefully you’ll meet them all when you come to visit. There has been something bugging me over these last few months. I don’t know how much of this you’ve already figured out, but Ginny’s moved on with her life and we’re both great friends now, but I love her. You have no idea how much I’m in love with her and how bottled up all these feelings are. Hermione somehow figured this out and so she tried to talk me into telling Ginny, but I want your advice. What would you do? What would Sirius have done? What would Dad have done? I know this may all seem out of the blue, but I hope you understand. I’m leaving tomorrow for Azkaban to do some quick paperwork, and so I won’t be back for three days. Have Hedwig find me at Azkaban (though I doubt she’d like it there) or just send her back here and I’ll read your reply when I get back.
Harry


Harry rubbed his eyes and poked Hedwig awake, who hooted irritably at being disturbed. Harry tied the letter to her feet and let her out of her cage. She gave him one last cold look, spread her wings, and disappeared into the darkness.

***

“Ginny? Open the door,” Draco said, softly knocking on Ginny’s bedroom door. It was six in the morning, and Draco hadn’t spoken to Ginny all night.

“Go away, Draco,” Ginny said sourly. “I’m mad at you.”

“Why are you angry with me?” Draco asked innocently.

“You left me to Apparate here all by myself last night after the ball. You didn’t come back till for another two hours. You said one hour!”

“Alright, I’m sorry about it, but that’s no reason to be mad at me.”

“Of course it is! You’re being absolutely oblivious to everything!”

Draco sighed. There was no pleasing women. “Okay, how about you let me in and I'll try to cheer you up?”

“It’s no use; I’m in a very bad mood, you ugly, stupid boy.”

“Fine, if you won’t let me in, then I’ll come in myself.”

Ginny heard Draco mutter ‘Alohomora’ and the locked door clicked open. Draco entered the room, but instead of his own head, there was roasted chicken head sitting on his neck. “Do I look better like this?” Draco asked.

Ginny couldn’t help but laugh as Draco put some glasses on his chicken head. Her eyes were watering with all the laughing as Draco put a hat on his chicken head too.

“So am I forgiven now?” Draco asked.

Ginny smiled, but shook her head. “Absolutely not!”

“Oh come on, Gin!” Draco said, morphing his head back into his own. “I didn’t mean to upset you…”

“How do I know that you didn’t mean to?” Ginny asked.

“Because I love you.”

Draco suddenly stopped short. Did he just say what he thought he said? Never before had a Malfoy uttered those three words in that order. He quickly turned away from Ginny and looked at the wall. What did you just do, you idiot? He asked himself. Meanwhile, Ginny got up and walked up to him.

“W…What did you just say?” she asked.

“Nothing. I said, ‘I didn’t mean to upset you’ and then I just stopped talking. You heard nothing more.”

“Draco, you said ‘I love you',” Ginny said slowly, analyzing Draco’s face.

Draco sighed softly and turned to face Ginny. “I did. I…I…don’t know why…”

Draco expected Ginny to walk away or laugh at him, but instead she interlaced her fingers within his and rested her head on his shoulder. “Did you…did you mean it?” she asked quietly, almost afraid to hear the answer.

Draco closed his eyes for a moment and just savored the sweet smell of Ginny’s hair. “I did,” he said softly into her ear. Ginny’s face broke out into a smile like Draco had never seen. Her eyes were gleaming with joy as she leapt into Draco’s arms.

“Draco, you have no idea how long I’ve wanted to hear you say that.”

Draco put his arms around her and smiled. “So does that mean that you…”

“Of course I do! I love you, Draco.” Draco’s eyes lit up and he placed his soft lips on Ginny’s. The two were locked in an embrace that probably could have lasted for days had it not been for Mrs. Weasley calling Draco downstairs. Very reluctantly, Draco and Ginny separated as Draco jolted downstairs to see what Mrs. Weasley wanted.

“You called me?” Draco asked Mrs. Weasley as he entered the kitchen.

“Yes, dear,” she said as she handed Draco an envelope. “Your mother is in the fireplace, dear.”

“I beg your pardon?” Draco asked.

“She’s in the fireplace; she wanted to talk to you. Go on, dear.”

“Oh, thank you,” Draco said, his face lighting up slightly at the mention of his mother.

He darted into the living room and saw Narcissa Malfoy’s beautiful face poking out of the fireplace. She looked so much better now that she was getting a regular dose of fresh air and nature. Her hair was tied up in a gentle bun and her face was radiant.

“Draco, sweetheart,” she said as Draco bent down in front of her. “How’ve you been?”

“I’ve been fine, Mother,” Draco said, smiling.

“Now how am I supposed to know that? You haven’t been writing to me for weeks now! I was worried sick that something had happened to you!”

“Mother, come on! I’m old enough to take care of myself.”

“I know, but who will take care of me? Honey, I miss you very much.”

“I miss you too. I promise, the moment my work’s done here, I’ll come visit you.”

“Visit? I thought the Minister of Magic was going to get you transferred to the Ministry of Magic down here in Italy.”

“He will,” Draco said shortly. “I just have to do something for him before he does.”

“Well, tell him to hurry! I can’t wait to see you in person.”

“I know, Mother. The transfer is a lengthy process, though. I mean, to get moved to the same department of another Ministry of Magic will require some time.”

“Alright, honey, but now promise me that you’ll actually write to me so I don’t have to pop in through fireplaces.”

“Yes, Mom,” Draco said submissively.

“Well, I had better get back. I have to enchant some more rose bushes in the gardens. Bye, dear.”

“Bye, Mother,” Draco said as he kissed his mother’s cheek lightly. The moment she disappeared back into the emerald flames, Draco heard shuffled footsteps leave the room. He quickly turned around and saw Ginny staring back at him, her eyes welled up with tears, red enough to match her hair.

***

“Hey, mate,” Ron said cheerfully as he poked his head into Harry’s room.

“Hey, Ron,” Harry said, scratching his head and yawning. “Did you guys just get back from Hermione’s parents’?”

“Yeah,” Ron said as he sat down on a chair. “It was pretty dull, though. I heard you broke it off with Lavender…”

“Yeah,” Harry said as-a-matter-of-factly. “I don’t feel bad about it, though.”

“I’m happy for you, mate; she was a real pain…even at school.” Ron glanced over at Harry’s packed suitcases. “You’ve packed already?”

“Yeah,” Harry said. “I’m leaving tonight, but I’ll be back right before Christmas Eve.”

“You’d better be, or Mum will freak out. I hate it when all the women of the house go all crazy about family…”

“Hermione’s not like that…is she?”

“Ah, you have no idea, Harry. Ever since she found out about the baby, she’s been yelling at me about family closeness and how I should set a good example for the baby and blah blah blah…”

Harry burst out laughing just as Hermione came in. “What’s so funny, Harry?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Harry and Ron said innocently. “How’s the baby coming along?”

“Oh, fantastic,” Hermione said sarcastically. “I look like a balloon and feel like one too.”

“So,” Harry said, a thought occurring to him. “What have you guys decided to name the baby?”

Ron shook his head warningly to Harry. “Don’t even start on that subject, mate.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Ron and I have been debating for days on what to name her, in fact, Harry; you tell us which name you like.”

Ron spoke first. “I told Hermione that the name Sarah was very pretty, but no. She has to object to everything I say.”

“Ron, I don’t know how you would feel if your fiancé wanted to name your child after their ex-girlfriend, but I’d feel pretty annoyed.”

“Oh, come on! What about Amy? Sonia? Pamela?”

“They’re all stupid names, Ron!” Hermione burst out. “I love the name Melanie, but you apparently have some sort of problem with it-”

“Of course I have a problem with it. Why would I want to name my daughter after a fruit’s name? She’ll be called melon head for the rest of her life.”

“Well then, what about..."

Harry figured that Hermione and Ron didn’t really notice he was in the room anymore. He smiled to himself at his two best friends, and quickly slipped out of the room, avoiding the argument.

***

“What happened, Ginny?” Draco asked worriedly as he looked at the silent girl in front of him. The two of them were now sitting quietly in Ginny’s room after she’d run upstairs. She hadn’t said a word.

“Ginny, if you don’t talk to me then how am I supposed to know if something’s wrong.”

“Fine,” Ginny said coldly. “You want to know what’s wrong, then here we go. Why didn’t you tell me you were moving to Italy?”

Draco suddenly recoiled with understanding. “Ginny,” he said soothingly. “I love you and I would never do anything to hurt you.”

“Yeah,” Ginny scoffed. “Some love, eh? It lasted for three hours.”

“I was…I was going to tell you, Ginny. I promise. It’s just that I needed to be sure that it was actually happening…”

“You weren’t going to tell me, Draco. You’re never going to change; you probably had this planned from the moment you got here.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“I can’t trust you, Draco. How do I know that you didn’t step into this house from the moment you got here thinking that you can have a little fun and then humiliate me.”

“Ginny, you can trust me-”

“I can’t!” Ginny said, tearing. “If I can’t trust you to tell me something as important as this then I can’t trust you at all…”

“Ginny, stop crying…just let me exp-”

“Forget it, Draco. Just leave me alone.”

“Ginny, listen to me!” Draco yelled, his voice shaky and frustrated. “I love you, Ginny. I know this whole thing about Italy is sudden for you, but it’s not for me. I’ve thought about this a lot and I promise you, Ginny, that I would never leave you.”

Ginny remained silent as Draco continued. “If anything, I’d want you to come with me.”

Ginny looked up immediately. Her tears were now dry; her swollen red eyes were now wide open in amazement. She uttered a few indistinct words and then spoke to Draco. “Go to…Italy…with you?”

“With me,” Draco repeated. He smiled at Ginny and quickly pecked her cheek. He took a deep breath and walked out the door, adding just before he left, “Think about it.”

***

Mrs. Weasley was washing some dishes as she saw Draco come downstairs and sit quietly on one of the chairs in the kitchen. His pale eyes reflected fatigue and his mouth twitched on the side, which indicated his annoyance with something.

“Is something wrong, Draco?” Mrs. Weasley asked the blonde boy out of concern. “You seem awfully preoccupied."

“It’s nothing,” Draco said.

Mrs. Weasley picked up a dirty cup in her hand and started to scrub it ruthlessly with her sponge. “Draco, I’ve raised six boys in this house. I can easily tell when something is bothering someone, and right now, I think something’s bothering you.”

“It’s nothing that’s bothering me, Mrs. Weasley. I’m just a bit annoyed about something.”

“Oh,” Mrs. Weasley said. “What is it?”

“A friend of mine was supposed to go with me to the Green Emerald for lunch today…”

“The Green Emerald?” Mrs. Weasley asked, her face dazzled with amazement. “That’s such an expensive place, Draco.”

“I was going to go have lunch but my friend just cancelled, less than ten minutes ago. Now I’ll have to cancel the reservation and they’re probably going to charge me anyways for the reservation…”

“That’s terrible, dear. Why don’t you go with someone else? I’ve heard so many things about the hotel, particularly about the price and difficulty to get a reservation. Ah, Arthur and I used to always dream of going there, but we never got around to it.”

Draco looked up. This was the moment that he’d been building up to. He had been hoping Mrs. Weasley would mention something like that so he could make his move. Something inside of him was telling him that he shouldn’t do this. He shouldn’t deceive the family that allowed him into their home, but he had to…

Draco gulped. “Why don’t you and Mr. Weasley go?” There, he’d said it.

Mrs. Weasley was taken aback. “Me? Go to the Green Emerald? Oh no, honey. It’s terribly expensive and we can’t afford it right now…”

“That’s okay,” Draco said. “I’ll pay for it.”

“Oh heaven’s no! Arthur and I can’t take money from you, Draco.”

“Don’t think of it as money, just as a payback for all your generosity.”

“It’s a sweet gesture, dear, but we can’t go.”

“Mrs. Weasley, I won’t take no for an answer. I don’t feel like going myself, and I can’t think of anyone other than yourself and Mr. Weasley who deserve a nice afternoon together. I’ll go get my reservation card.”

“Oh, Draco,” Mrs. Weasley said kindly. “Thank you so much, dear. I can’t wait to tell Arthur, he’ll be so excited.” Mrs. Weasley, bubbling with excitement, left the kitchen to tell her husband. Meanwhile, Draco took out a piece of parchment from his pocket on which he scribbled a quick message.

The two older Weasleys are out of the way for the afternoon. I’ll retrieve the information in an hour or so. Keep the transfer papers ready.
Malfoy


Draco scrambled over to one of the Weasley’s owls and tied the letter to its leg. “Take this to Rufus Scrimgeour,” he whispered to the owl, who spread its wings and flew into the sunlight.
Draco looked at the time. 3:42 P.M.
***
4:59 P.M.
Draco stood amongst the shadows in Mr. and Mrs. Weasley’s bedroom. The elderly couple had just left to go to their exclusive dinner at the Green Emerald, and that had been Draco’s cue to begin the task that had been a month in planning.

Draco quietly muttered ‘Lumos’ and lit the tip of his wand. He then began to tiptoe around the edges of the room, carefully stepping over anything that might cause a sound. He arrived at one corner, where he prepared himself for the spell. The spell that he was about to cast wasn’t an easy one, and definitely wasn’t quick.

The spell that Draco was about to use was a summoning spell, but no as simple as saying ‘Accio’. When using ‘Accio’, the spell caster had to imagine the object in his head and it would then come to him, but Draco didn’t know where this particular object was kept. So now, Draco had to fully concentrate his mind on visualizing the object itself, as accurately as he could. When he finally thought he had the image fixed in his mind, he raised his wand and whispered into the stony silence, “Invenio!”

The room remained silent, with no apparent changes visible. Draco cursed and then closed his eyes, focusing on the image of the object he needed. Once again, he muttered, “Invenio!” This time forcefully and clearly.

After a few seconds of deadly silence, a small green glow appeared around a picture frame that contained the picture of all the Weasley family. Draco heaved a sigh of relief and walked over to the picture, which was bathed in the green glow. He reached over and saw the faces of all the Weasleys smiling and waving at the camera, each one gleaming with happiness. Draco felt guilt flood him, but turned away. He had to do this. He reached behind the frame and found what he was looking for. He took the object out from behind the picture and held it to the tip of his lit wand.

He was holding a key in his hand. It was bronze and looked like any ordinary key except that it had three numbers engraved on it. 675. Draco pocketed the key safely and Apparated to his room, making sure no one had seen him.

***

“Charlie…” Ginny said pensively as she sat beside her brother. Everyone else was somewhere around London getting last minute work done before Christmas, and the two of them were alone in the living room.

“What is it, Gin?” Charlie asked, reading the Daily Prophet.

“What do you think the weather’s like in Italy?” she asked dreamily.

“What?” Charlie said, putting the paper down and looking at his sister.

“The weather…in Italy. Do you think it’s nice and warm, or is it cool and windy?”

“Ginny, why do you care what weather it is in Italy? Are you feeling okay?”

“Of course I’m feeling fine, idiot. I was just curious.”

“You know, Gin, you’ve been acting weird for a while now. Is there something going on?”

“No, there isn’t,” Ginny said heatedly. “Weren’t you supposed to go get some ham for tonight’s dinner, anyways?”

“Damn, you’re right.” Charlie got up and looked out the window. “The bloody weather is terrible, though. There’s a snowstorm going on …”

“Dress warmly,” Ginny said coldly to her brother.

“Fine. I’ll just go up and grab a coat. If Mum comes back then tell her I have already left.”

Charlie darted upstairs and came back after a few minutes with a black leather coat. Ginny almost choked on some toast as she realized that it was Draco’s jacket that he was holding. Ginny recalled back to the night of the Ministry’s Christmas Ball when Draco had given her his jacket as they had left the building. It had been lying in her room ever since and she’d forgotten to return it.

“I didn’t know you had such a nice coat,” Charlie remarked as he examined the leather coat. “I’m borrowing it.”

“Charlie…take dad’s coat…leave that one here…”

“Relax, Gin. I’ll be back in an hour and I promise I won’t ruin your precious little coat.”

Without another word, Charlie Apparated in front of Ginny, leaving her alone in the living room. She stared at the spot where her brother had just stood, praying that Charlie wouldn’t figure out whose coat it actually was.

***

Upstairs, Harry got ready to Apparate to the Ministry of Magic, from where he would travel to Azkaban and finish his remaining paper work quickly.

He felt that spinning sensation again as he began to Apparate and saw the last of his room dissolving into black oblivion.

***

Draco closed his eyes in relief as he saw a Ministry owl fly off with a rather thick envelope on its legs. That envelope contained the key that he’d found in the Weasley’s room and a letter stating that his demands for a transfer to Italy to his mother must be met.

His shoulders felt light, like a burden had been lifted off of them. He stared into the friendly sky and grimaced as the clouds danced merrily in the wind. However, not even he knew the problematic future that awaited him.
***

Many miles away, Charlie Weasley was standing in line, taking out the money he needed to pay for a whole ham that he’d just bought.

He counted the money in his hands and cursed loudly, realizing that he was missing a few Knuts. The woman in front of him was holding her hand out, waiting for the money. Charlie fumbled through his wallet, but couldn’t find any spare change. He prayed that Ginny had left some money in her coat, and started to rummage through the pockets of the leather coat. His fingers felt something brush up against them, it was a piece of paper.

Charlie reached into the pocket and took out the paper, which actually turned out to be an envelope. There was a dark red seal on the envelope, -clearly the emblem of the Ministry of Magic- which Charlie lifted. He read the parchment within, which contained a few selective words that left him dumbfounded. He reread the words at least ten times and could feel his heart pounding in his ears. He turned the envelope over and saw whom it was addressed to: Draco Malfoy.

Charlie could never have imagined the impact of a few words, but there it was, crystal clear in distinctive, neat writing.

Find the key to Gringott’s vault 675, Arthur Weasley’s vault.
***

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