DISCLAIMER: I don't own anything here that looks familiar. J.K. Rowling & all those other companies do. A girl can dream.
A/N: Okay, I swear this story won't take 8 years to complete. I don't have school anymore to distract me (lol), so I def. have way more time! Please R&R - feedback is seriously helpful. Or if you wanna be beta - I'm in need of one!
It was an ugly day like no other, the dark gray clouds clashing against each other. The rain was pouring down in heavy sheets as thunder light the sky. The countryside looked dull and dark as Ginny Weasley looked at it through sullen eyes from inside the carriage window.
Or so it was in the mind of the resigned redhead. It was actually a surprisingly sunny morning, a scant few clouds floating by lazily in the tranquil blue sky. The rolling hills that moved alongside the ride were green and expansive, just waiting to be run through. Ginny couldn't even enjoy the lovely Wiltshire countryside as the horse-drawn carriage trudged along the paved dirt path. She sank back and closed her eyes, suddenly feeling very tired as she reflected upon the situation that got her here.
"Ginny, will you be a dear and answer the door?" Her mother's voice called up from the kitchen.
"Sure, Mum!" Ginny called back, making her way towards the staircase. Her fiery ponytail bounced around as she rushed down the stairs.
Throwing the door open, the youngest Weasley was presented with an elderly man in Ministry black robes, top hat covering his balding head.
"Hello. How can I help you? My father is actually at work, sir," she greeted, deducing that this man had come to see father.
"Good afternoon, ma'am. I'm actually here to see a…" the old man put on his spectacles and peered down at the parchment he procured from his robe pocket. "Ginevra Molly Weasley? Is she home?"
"I'm Ginevra," Ginny replied uncertainly.
"Fantastic! My name is Zacharias Patton. I am a solicitor from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement," the old man's eyes twinkled. He took his top hat off, revealing a balding crown. Looking expectantly at the young woman, he asked, "Is it alright if I come in? I have an important matter to discuss with you."
"Listen, sir, if something happened at St. Mungo's, I'm still technically in the training progr…" Ginny began, panicking as each ridiculous scenario ran across her brain.
"Oh, nothing like that, ma'am!" He waved her off with a chuckle as she led him to an armchair adjacent to the sofa.
"Who was at the door, Ginny?" Molly Weasley came into the living room, wiping her hands on her apron.
"This is Mr. Patton, a solicitor from the Ministry," Ginny introduced. "And this is my mother, sir, Molly Weasley."
Shaking hands with Molly, Zacharias jumped in, "Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mrs. Weasley."
Pulling out an envelope from the breast pocket of his robe, he began, "As I was just beginning to explain to your daughter, I am here to bestow upon her the Last Will and Testament of Cedrella Weasley."
"Mr. Patton, I think you must be mistaken. My grandmother passed away a little over twenty years ago," Ginny stated, perplexed, shooting her mother an uncertain glance.
"Yes, yes, I know that. However, a specific stipulation in her will stated that this clause be presented prior to her granddaughter's twenty first birthday, should she have one."
A look of realization flashed upon Molly's face. "Unbelievable. She must not have updated her will before she died."
"Mum? You know about this?" Ginny was so confused. What in the world was happening?
"It'll all make sense once Mr. Patton explains," she patted her daughter's hand.
Zacharias cleared his throat and began, "'To my granddaughter, Ginevra Molly Weasley, I bequeath 750 Galleons from my personal trust at Gringotts Bank, so long as the guidelines stipulated below are met.'"
Ginny stared at the man as if he had sprouted another head.
"SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY GALLEONS? SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY GALLEONS?" Ginny squeaked.
Who knew ol' grandmother Weasley had that much gold laying around? She couldn't even conceive what that amount looked like in her head. Her mind was blown at the notion of a large pile of gold sitting around, shining brightly, just waiting to be spent. She had never seen more than a few Galleons at a time, let alone hundreds.
"…To me? Why me?"
"Ginny, listen on," Molly chided. "You aren't just being handed this sum."
"WHO CARES? It's 750 Galleons! Imagine what I could do with that money! I could move out of Shell Cottage! I could go and visit Charlie in Romania or go to Italy or Brazil! I could send you and Dad on an amazing trip! I could…" Before she could continue, Molly shushed her daughter.
"Right," Zacharias continued. "In order to get this money, you must complete several conditions the late Mrs. Weasley has so stated. 'In order to receive this quantity, Ginevra Molly Weasley must:
Agree to participate in the debutante ball that is organized every two years by Mulieres Viginti Octo.
Complete Finishing School that is also hosted by said organization in Item One.
Complete the entire process of the debutante by having a ball in recognition of her twenty first birthday.
All of these contingencies must be met within a week of Ginevra Molly Weasley's twenty first birthday.'"
Ginny's laughter could still be heard that evening as she sat around the kitchen table for supper with her parents.
"Now, now, Gin, that's enough," Molly tried to calm her daughter. "The task at hand is really not that bad."
"Excuse me?" Ginny sputtered. She whirled around to her mother. "I AM not about to paraded around in front of sleazy, rich men and their equally abhorrent old-fashioned families! It's the twenty-first bloody century! That woman is – was – batty!"
"Ginny Weasley! You will not speak ill of the deceased under my roof!" Her mother chastised. After hearing a mutter of apology, she continued. "Your grandmother was beyond thrilled after she heard that she was finally having a granddaughter! She wanted to pass down her family traditions to her own daughter had she had one and wanted to be able to do so with you."
"So she decided that bribing me was the way to go?" Ginny huffed after a fork full of potatoes.
"Well, she was still a Black in the end," Arthur cut in quietly. "Even though my mother married a Weasley, she still cherished many of her family traditions. Almost all of the descendants of the Twenty Eight have participated in the debutante process and coming out to society."
The youngest Weasley only huffed again in response, the fire in her belly extinguishing from the guilt that was settling in.
"It's not like you two did that," She pointed out, unable to keep her mouth shut. "You eloped right out of Hogwarts."
"Gin, we were in a war during that time. There were no time for such frivolities," Molly responded.
"And I have time for such frivolity? I just finished my Healer's training program a week ago, and I will be taking a full-time position in the fall."
Molly sighed. There was no getting through to a stubborn Ginny. "No one is forcing your hand in participating in all of this. Your grandmother Weasley simply wanted to be able to present her daughter to the society that she was very much still a part of even if her own family disowned her. She was still a proud woman despite the circumstances. We agree that this pureblooded elite nonsense is loony but that's what she would have wanted. It's not as if she's forcing you to marry any of these blokes."
"I don't care how much this meant to the woman. I will not be paraded around like a piece of property that's waiting to be bought by some of the most arrogant, backwards people in all of Britain!" Ginny adamantly said, as she roughly began to clear the table before stomping on each step up the stairs.
Ginny sighed as she sank onto the small twin bed in her childhood bedroom. The parchments in her paper presented her with a very strange proposition. The promise to become completely independent from her parents and move out on her own. Like all of the Weasleys, Ginny had left the nest after the War. Er, sort of. Her oldest brother Bill had offered a place to stay at his home, Shell Cottage. It was not the most ideal of places, being along the coast, but it offered Ginny a sense of independence without the cost. However, his wife, Fleur, was expecting in a matter of months, and she decided that it was finally time to move out on her own. There was no way she was going to come crawling back to her parents' house. Ginny was too proud to admit defeat.
Her brown eyes scanned the small airy pink room. She glanced at the friendly orchard outside of her cozy nook, where she had spent many hours reading, writing, and dreaming. Poster figures of the Weird Sisters and Gwenog Jones waved and winked at her. Her neat but stuffed bookcase looked dusty, having been cast aside in favor of work and adult life.
Ugh, work, the redhead groaned. Ginny didn't want to think about it. Her first official day as a full-fledged Healer was in a couple of months and she was not ready. Sure, she had been able to skip basic healing classes thanks to her field experience with the Order after the war, but she was still nervous. She loved that she was able to help people; mend them literally and figuratively, especially during the aftermath of the War. She had decided to take on the difficult career of a Healer in order to show everyone that Ginny Weasley could take care of herself. No one was ever going to cast her aside for fear of her safety again.
"750 Galleons." She let the number roll off of her tongue slowly as she laid back on the bed. She would be able to pay for a lovely flat for months in London, granting her easy access to St. Mungo's. But did she really want to sell her dignity, morals, and pride for money?
What have you got to lose? A little voice whispered in her head.
"How about everything I believe in?" Ginny snorted.
She could not stand prissy, elite organizations like the Mulieres Viginti Octo, better known as the MVO. Made up of female descendants of families deemed as the "Sacred Twenty Eight", all of the women were from old Wizarding families of pureblood status. Along with that status usually came wealth, greed, and shaky values. While they were an organization that prided itself on its pureblood status, they also spent much of their time organizing charitable events for the good of the Wizarding kind. In Ginny's eyes, it was a bunch of old biddies that had too much time on their hands who enjoyed superficialities like this.
"As if any of them knew real work," She huffed, rolling over to get up. That shining heap of gold sounded better and better to Ginny. It's not like there was much to do. Spend her time attending useless sessions that taught her the ins and outs about which fork to use and how to do a proper curtsy? Easy. After learning endless medical properties of herbs, magical creatures, and more, that was a laughable challenge. Wear a pretty dress and dance around for a night? Even easier. She was so used to wearing her Apprentice Healer robes and casual clothes that that seemed almost fun. Dance with some of Wizard's elite and admittedly, some good looking fellows? Easiest. She hated to admit it, but during her breaks at the hospital she scoured a society page or two. Some of those blokes were not hard on the eyes. And when was the last time Ginny had had a date? She could not even remember.
She looked at the parchment in her hand, the dashes blinking, waiting for her wavy signature. The idea sounded better and better to her the more she thought about it. The way she saw it, she was getting a nice vacation and reprieve before she had to go back to the real world.
Getting up before she could talk herself out of it, she took a quill from her desk and quickly scrawled her name on the dotted line. Sending off the family owl with her decision, she made her way to her parents' room.
Slowly, she opened the door and cleared her throat. Her parents were in bed, Arthur setting down the newspaper in his hands, Molly putting down her glasses and the novel in hand.
Ginny fidgeted around uncomfortably in the doorway and cleared her throat. "I have decided to take Grandmother Weasley's offer," she said quietly. "However," she raised her finger and her voice. "This in no way means I am throwing my morals and values away for this money. I am merely considering this as an investment in my future… A future in which I will be helping people. So really, I'm doing everything for the ultimate good. Please let the record show for future reference."
With that, she quickly shuffled out of the door before her parents could get in a word.
And that was how Ginny Weasley found herself heading towards Malfoy Manor on a lovely day. She groaned. What did I sign myself up for? Ginny couldn't help but wonder as the carriage passed through imperial iron-wrought white gates. The carriage seamlessly seeped through the entrance. Green hedges trailed along both sides of the gravel pathway. She couldn't help but marvel at the smattering of white peacocks that were strolling along the front lawn.
Malfoy Manor was an exquisite manor house that took Ginny's breath away despite whatever bad mood she was in. The Elizabethan era manor shone brightly in all its glory, the diamond-paned windows reflecting the sunshine. The front part of the estate was decorated with intricate garden sculptures and flowerbeds.
The carriage abruptly came to a halt. The door to her car opened, and she let out a weary sigh. It was too late to turn back now. Ginny slowly stepped out of the carriage, the sun blinding her eyes. Her trunk and other belongings was being levitated by House Elves that had appeared out of thin air. The expansive Manor double doors were opened wide for all those permitted. She could faintly hear the sound of water flowing, from the magnificent fountain that was in their foyer.
With a deep breath and a determined glint in her eyes, Ginny Weasley made her first steps into the throes of pureblood society.