Two cloaked figures walked with a fast pace, wand in hand, through the dark hallways of the Ministry’s dungeons. The sound of their footsteps echoed on the empty walls. The black, tile floors reflected the artificial light coming form the men’s wands.
“I still think this is a bloody stupid thing to do,” said Ron Weasley as they reached a heavy, oak door at the end of the hallway. “You know we can find her ourselves, mate, we just need more time.”
Every word he uttered emanated desperation.
“I’m not more kin on this idea than you are Ron,” came Harry Potter’s reply. “But time is the one thing we do not have; every minute we waste is a minute she’s out there, in danger.”
“We can get more Aurors to help us.” Ron turned to face his friend. “We don’t need him.”
“It’s been four years since she disappeared and I promised your mother I would do the best I could to find Ginny.” Harry sighed and knocked on the door. “He is the best.”
In that moment, the door opened to reveal a small, scarcely illuminated office. Three of the walls were lined with bookcases from floor to ceiling. On the right hand side of the room sat a tall, mahogany wardrobe whose twin doors were locked together with a complicated looking padlock. Positioned in the middle of the room was a neatly organized desk and behind it sat none other than the wizard who was famously known as “The Hunter.” Ever since the Great War had ended three years ago he had been tasked with finding the best-hidden Death Eaters—the ones not even Aurors could find—and bring them to Azkabam. He had been doing so successfully.
Draco took his time to look up from the manila folder he held in his hands.
“Well, if it isn’t the high-and-mighty Harry Potter!” Draco straightened himself up in his chair, his tone of voice full of sarcasm and—yes—a bit of resentment; the fact that he worked for the same team as the Golden Trio now didn’t mean that he had forgotten how much animosity he felt towards them and vice versa. “And his ever-loyal sidekick, of course. How are you Wease…”
“Say it and I’ll break your neck, ferret!” interrupted Ron before Draco could finish calling him by the insulting manipulation of his last name.
“Ron! Lets just do what we came here to do, alright?” hissed Harry.
“Fine.” Ron unclenched his fists and put his wand back in his right pocket.
“Malfoy,” started Harry. “I…we need a favor.”
Draco could tell that the last words had probably been the hardest to utter in Potter’s entire lifetime. As curious as he was to know what Potter and Weasley could possibly need him for, he was even more interested in savoring this moment for as long as he could.
“A favor?” Draco gave the duo one of his famous smirks. “I don’t do favors, I do jobs.”
Ron’s face turned crimson with repressed rage. Harry’s eyes seemed to turn a darker shade of green as he narrowed them to glare at his school nemesis.
“Fine, how much?”
“What’s the job?”
It looked as if Harry was literally swallowing his pride; he sighed and looked at the floor for a moment.
For the first time since the duo had walked into his office, Draco noticed how aged Potter looked. Granted, Draco had made it a point not to interact or even walk around the same areas as Potter or any of his loyal followers since he had started working for the Ministry, so he hadn’t seen much of the Boy-Who-Lived-Twice lately. But still, little more than two years was not enough time for Potter to look like a 50 year old man with a terminal illness. Harry’s eyes looked slightly sunk in his skull and were framed by visible bags under them. His expression was that of a man who had lost all hope and was just plain tired.
The subject of Draco’s careful examination interrupted his thoughts by declaring: “Finding Ginny Weasley, that’s the job.”
“Lost your woman, have you, Potter? She finally came to her senses, then?” Draco couldn’t help his reply—nor did he want to—but it seemed he had struck a nerve because both Potter and Weasley had their wands pointed at his chest before he could utter another word.
“Speak another word about my sister, I dare you!” said Ron, raising his wand to aim right between Draco’s eyebrows.
“Can you find her or not, Malfoy?” came Potter’s question between clenched teeth.
“Of course I can find her,” Draco declared in a matter of fact tone. He had found and captured some of the most dangerous wizards out there, how hard could it be to find an angsty woman who was probably just wanting for attention? “It will cost you the job plus travel expenses.”
“The money is not a problem.”
Both Harry and Ron lowered their wands.
“You will need to start looking for her this same night, we can’t waste time.”
“Fine by me.”
Draco stood up from his chair. “I’ll have her back in no more than a month’s time, and Potter?”
“When I do bring her back to your smothering arms, I expect a ‘Thank you, Mr. Malfoy’”
“Find her and bring her back safe, you’ll get whatever the hell your egotistic mind can think of.”
And with that, Harry and Ron disappeared behind the oak door, the echo of their footsteps slowly fading.
“Angela! Are you home?”
Pale, slender fingers traced the outline of a picture in which nine read-heads moved around, placing themselves in front of a famous pyramid and trying to smile their best smile. This was the only picture Ginny had taken with her the night she had silently escaped from the only world she had known.
Ginny was startled by a knock on her door. She was able to hide the picture under her pillow right before her roommate walked in. A tall, blonde woman with a perfect tan sat on the bed, next to Ginny.
“Here you are! How come you didn’t hear me calling?”
Right, her roommate had been calling her name. Except her name wasn’t Ginny anymore, it was Angela.
“I’m sorry Dee, I was distracted,” replied Ginny, giving her roommate, Deandra, an apologetic smile.
“I swear, it’s like you live inside your head sometimes.”
Ginny smiled distractedly and looked outside her small window. She couldn’t see much but rows of apartment buildings but she could hear the sounds of the city: taxi cabs honking at each other, people yelling in different languages, loud music coming from the apartment next door. Even though she had grown accustomed to living there, she had to admit she found Seattle to be quite overwhelming and obnoxiously loud at times. Her life in the rainy American city was the farthest thing from the country life she had led at the Burrow. It was even noticeably different from the brief time she had spent living with Harry in his London flat. Seattle was a beautiful city, she knew, but she also knew that, no matter how beautiful, no place would ever feel like home anymore.
Dee snapped her fingers inches away from Ginny’s face.
“Ugh! I’m sorry again,” replied Ginny. “So, how was you day?”
“The usual.” Dee let herself fall back on the bed. “Guys hitting on me, plenty of tips; you working tonight?”
“ Uh-uh.” Ginny stood up from the bed and walked to the small closet she shared with Dee. Grabbing a white top and a pair of yellow shorts, Ginny turned to her roommate. “As a matter of fact I have to start getting ready.”
“Are you making good tips lately?” asked Dee, still lounging on one of the two twin sized beds that furnished the room.
“Yeah, it’s amazing how much money you can make when you get a little flirty.”
“Told ya.” Dee propped herself up in one elbow. “Aren’t you glad I got you this job?”
“I’m even more glad you’re sleeping with the boss, John has been acting like a gentleman around me lately,” Ginny said.
Dee giggled. “Well he better,” she said. “You know how it goes, ‘if he wants to be mah lover he gotta get with my friends.” Ginny stared back with a blank expression.
“Get it? The Spice Girls song?” Dee shook her head in disapproval. “Girl I swear, sometimes I wonder if you are even from this world.” Ginny laughed nervously. “Anyway, I’m making mac and cheese for dinner, want some?” Ginny nodded as she walked into the small bathroom adjacent to their room.
“Thanks! You’re the best Dee!”
Draco felt his feet hit the pavement. Back in solid ground again, it took him a second to regain his balance. A loud honking noise startled him, he looked over his shoulder to discern the source of the offending sound and, to his surprise, he saw some sort of machine on wheels coming straight at him. He had half a mind to stupefy the thing but he knew better than to use magic in front of muggles. Instead, Draco made use of his exceptionally rapid reflexes to dodge the murderous machine just in time. As he passed by him, the muggle operating the machine dedicated quiet an array of insults just for Draco.
“Bloody muggles and their inventions,” Draco muttered under his breath as he dusted his perfectly tailored, grey suit.
“Are you okay, man?”
A man, not much older than Draco, approached him.
“You almost got run over, dude!”
“I’m alright,” Draco replied; the last thing he wanted was to draw more attention to himself. “Could you perhaps direct me to a pub nearby? I could use some firewhis…ehemm liquor.”
“I don’t know about a pub, but there is a fancy strip club two blocks down that way.” The man pointed to the north. “You can get alcohol there, for sure.” Draco nodded and walked in the general direction that would lead him to a drink…or two.
It had been a week since Potter and the Weasel had come to his office, pleading for him to rescue their damsel in distress. Draco had started by personally inspecting the flat Potter shared with the Weaselette, there he had found she had only packed two bags which suggested that she had appareted to her next destination and could only take what she could carry. Next, Draco had used a complicated spell to figure out where she had apparated to and found that her destination had been a nearby, muggle train station. Draco had been stuck there for a while; nobody he talked to had seen a red-haired, freckled-face woman buy a ticket. Then Louie—a muggle police officer and a friend of Draco’s—had introduced Draco to something he called ‘security cameras’ which recorded people walking about the station 24 hours a day. Louie had gotten Draco a search warrant to view the security tapes and that is how Draco had spotted the Weaselette getting into a train for Paris. It didn’t take Draco long to figure out that Ginny had stayed with Fleur Delacour’s family for a couple of days and then had borrowed money to fly to the United States. By fly Draco had assumed magical flying means like a flying car, but apparently the Weaselette really wanted to keep her traceable magic use to a minimum so she had actually taken a muggle plane to a city called Seattle.
And that is how Draco had ended up walking down a smelly street, filled with muggles, unable to openly use magic, and craving more than ever a good bottle of firewhisky.
Instead, he was entering a place called Savages; a large, dark locale where loud music played while fairly attractive girls danced wearing only their underwear—or less. Draco had been in these type of establishments before with Louie, who thoroughly enjoyed what he called ‘lap dances’ from the girls who worked there. Draco had always preferred a more consensual type of relationship when it came to women but he didn’t mind the ambiance; he felt almost at home, accepted, like, for once, he wasn’t the only one in the room who had something to hide and something to be ashamed of. Unconsciously Draco tugged at his right sleeve, as if making sure whatever was underneath stayed hidden.