Chapter Twelve

"Retreat!" Jules screamed. Draco let her duck behind, covering her back as she grabbed the hands of the two children.

"WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THIS!?" the witch before him bellowed.

Draco stepped forward and cast a quick illusion spell on the area. "Miss Willowcraft, you have to know that edible houses have been outlawed in Roumania."

The striking blonde witch narrowed her eyes. "Bull shit."

He reached into his jacket pocket and handed her the copy of the Roumanian Witch Law, which he'd earmarked to the passage about edible dwellings.

She read it and made a face. "That is stupid," she said.

"Here's an illusion stone. It'll show the house decaying and falling down over the next few weeks. That should give you time to get rid of the real house. I'm sure you can see why we like to avoid houses like this," he said.

She snatched the stone and stalked off, muttering about Roumanian idiot bureaucrats.

He sighed and returned to Jules. "That went better than I hoped," Jules said.

Draco nodded. Over the past two weeks he'd worked with just about every person in the company except Ginny. Every time she started to prepare for a mission, he found himself foisted off onto one of the other members. He'd been kept busy but not so busy that he didn't wonder what gave. His clearance was at level forty and he wanted to ask Ginny some serious questions. Only the damned woman was proving hard to find.

"You okay?" Jules asked once they'd brought the kids back to their homes safely.

"Huh?" he said, looking over at her. She smiled.

"You haven't said three words all week unless they were absolutely necessary."

He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "I'm just...I don't know."

"You miss working with Ginny," she said succinctly.

He smiled. "I thought we made a good team."

"You do," Jules said. "But Ginny has some really hard missions. Overthrowing tyrants, working amid Muggles. Some delicate and the others just shy of impossible. I'm sure she just wants you to get a bit more experience under your belt before she pulls you in."

Draco admitted the logic behind that but he still missed working with the red head.

They Portkeyed back to the headquarters. It was late and most everyone was gone. Ewan and Eve were in the break room, talking comfortably. Draco had noticed what was growing between the two of them. He kept meaning to warn Ewan about Eve's...condition.

"Hey, Draco," Ewan said. "Ginny's up in her office. I know she was hoping to have a word with you."

Draco blinked in surprise then smiled. "Thanks. See you guys tomorrow."

He waved to them and trotted to the stairs and up them to the seventh floor, Ginny's floor. Her office was at the end of the hall and the light was on. He walked down and rapped on the glass door. Ginny looked up from the papers she was working on. She gave him a surprised look. "Hey, Draco. I didn't expect to see you."

"Ewan suggested that you were waiting to talk to me."

She laughed. "Trust Ewan to try and stir up trouble. But I was going to sit down with you later this week. I'm sure you have some questions, now that you're level forty."

"I sure do," he said.

"Take a seat."

He did so and she watched him. "Go ahead," she said.

"Why don't you want to work with me anymore?"

She blinked over that. "I never said that."

"You've had me running all over with every other person in this company. I haven't worked with you in weeks."

"That's not because I didn't want to work with you,"

"Then why?"

She sighed. "I'm level forty seven. To get any points whatsoever, I have to do some pretty impressive things. I have to do some really dangerous things as it is let alone to gain any points. If I'm not getting any points, you aren't. I didn't think it fair for you to have to stay at level twenty all your career. So I called in some favors. At least for the first few missions. Once you proved yourself, some of the others were begging you to come with them, help them get better points. You're a hot commodity."

Draco opened his mouth then shut it again. Ginny was right. He'd been working more and more dangerous and complex situations (the one from earlier notwithstanding). His level had been skyrocketing.

"Okay. I get it," he said.

She hesitated as if not sure whether she should say what she was about to say.

"Look, the truth of it is that I wanted you to make level forty. I want you to graduate from your mentorship."

"Why?" he asked.

"Because if you're a master, not an apprentice, then you can have a partner. And the truth of it is, I want a partner."

That took a second to sink in.

"You want me to be your partner?"



"Because there's a storm coming and I know I'm going to get saddled with it. Either before or after it breaks. And I need someone who can have my back."

He hesitated. "What sort of storm?" he asked.

"The kind that brings someone worse than Voldemort."

"Tell me."

"It's a long story."

"I have time."

"Okay. To understand it, you need to go back. You'll need to understand why we did nothing to stop Voldemort..."

(A/N: Dun dun DUNNNN! You'll probably kill me. But here we go! The plot really starts next chapter and you'll get to know all the stuff with Voldemort and the whole situation with Ginny and Hermione.