Hermione had given serious consideration to breaking her promise. There was no way in hell that Ginny would ever consider Malfoy. He was a dickhead. Not as bad as Blaise, but neither were at all redeemable.
Still, Ginny was a devious little witch and Hermione's life in the Ministry desperately needed a little spice.
If nothing else, this could be fun for a little while. Ginny had taken them out to lunch, the second high class meal Hermione had had in as many days. Ministry members did not get paid enough.
"Ginny, you remember that article about you and Malfoy?"
Ginny's face twisted in annoyance as the waiter refilled their glasses. She hastily put up a smile for the hapless waiter who stuttered as he told them their lunch would be out soon.
"Please don't tell me that Ron or Harry got their hands on that. I told that little idiot to make sure they didn't get their hands on it."
"Wait, you hired someone to make sure they didn't see an article?"
"Well, yeah. What would you'a done?"
Hermione had to confess that she probably would have done the same thing in Ginny's situation.
"Okay, no it's not about that. I was just wondering what your reaction to it was."
"It was unadultered drivel that never should have been printed in the first place," Ginny said before taking a sip of her water. "Freedom of the press my ass."
"What would you say if Narcissa Malfoy had gotten her hands on that article?" Hermione asked.
Ginny's face swung sharply to Hermione's and a very wicked look slipped across. "Oh, my. Do tell where you learned to tell such an interesting story?"
"In good time, my friend. Can you imagine what the lady Malfoy had to say in response to this?"
"Nothing good, I hope," Ginny drawled maliciously.
"Well that depends who you are. She forbade Malfoy from ever seeing you again," Hermione said and took a long sip of her water, watching her old friend. She knew Ginny. Which meant she knew how to handle this situation. If she had come out with the truth, Ginny would have teased Malfoy mercilessly until the year expired.
No, this equation required a healthy dose of some Shakepearean remedy.
"And how did Malfoy respond?" Ginny asked with delight.
"He said nothing could make him happier," Hermione replied.
Ginny's face froze for a second and Hermione knew she had her friend trapped. The seeds of want had been placed. Perhaps Malfoy himself had done it with that fake article, but somewhere along the way, Ginny had decided she wanted Malfoy under her thumb.
Not that Hermione didn't understand it. Ginny was an editor. She was used to nice, neat lines of words that she had complete dominion over. Harry was wrong for her because he wanted to make a cage for her. A beautiful cage, but a cage nonetheless. Malfoy...well he certainly wasn't best for her but Hermione saw no reason not to let Ginny feel like a girl again.
"So he has no intention of continuing this farce?" Ginny asked.
"I wouldn't say that," Hermione replied. "My...shall we call her my informant? In any case, she told me that even though he said he wouldn't pursue you, that he keeps bringing you up in conversation."
Ginny's face went through another interesting series of emotions and Hermione nearly laughed in delight. This was almost too easy.
Draco nearly had a heart attack when he saw Granger.
"Damnit woman, knock or something. You don't just pop into someone's house without warning," he snapped when his heart went back to normal.
Granger lounged on the couch. She looked like a pin-up.
"Oh, poor Mr. Malfoy. I'd hate for anything untoward to happen to you. Anything other than what my dear friend Ginny might have planned for you."
"Shit. What's the word?"
"Well, I informed her of your intentions and...she laughed."
"Ah, hell. Guess I'd better give up," he groaned, collapsing in a chair across the room from her.
She studied him for a few seconds. "Well than you don't deserve her and you certainly don't deserve to know the rest of the story."
He sat bolt upright and glared at her. "You rotten bitch."
"You're the one ready to give up after a single set back."
"Oh, c'mon, Granger."
"Give me something."
"What?" he asked.
"Quid pro quo, loverboy. Why do you really want to marry Ginny? And don't give me that Narcissa bullshit."
"She's a pure-blood. She makes more money than I do. And for some god forsaken reason, I cannot get her out of my mind."
Granger smiled smugly. "Well, that works then, does it? Anyway, yes, Ginny laughed at your proposal, such as it was. But...well, she kept asking about you. Mind, this was like three days ago, but she's asked about you quite a few times. She seems to think that you are going to drop this whole thing and wants to know the moment you do."
Draco narrowed his eyes. "Granger, so help me god, I am not dropping this. That little witch will fall on her bloody knees and beg me to marry her before I'm done with that trollope."
Hermione could hardly stop smirking. Her lips were getting quite used to the expression.
"You're playing a dangerous game here, Granger."
She spun and glared at Blaise Zabini.
"And you aren't? I'm not stupid, Zabini. Malfoy wouldn't have given her a second thought if not for a certain friend like you."
"Yeah? Then if I tell him to stop, he'll listen, eh?"
"Of course he will," Hermione said. "He's your best friend."
Blaise studied her. "Why do you think Ginny will put aside her hatred of him?"
Hermione shrugged. "I don't. But Ginny can handle herself. And I assume Malfoy can too."
"Of course he can. But what do you expect to come of this? Of all of this."
Hermione shrugged. "Who the hell knows?"
"So am I forgiven?"
"The hell you are. I am so not done making you pay."
Blaise grinned. "Maybe I like that."
"Like what?" she demanded, feeling surly.
But he just smiled and said nothing.
(A/N: THe irony of it is, I reference Much Ado About Nothing in this chapter. I wrote the chapter about a year ago and just recently watched the play.