Draco was slouched against the back wall of the cell when he heard her. They'd had to put him in a cell by himself because the other Death Eaters blamed his family for their loss and saw him as a convenient target. He was alone, bruised and hungrier than he could ever remember being but no one was physically hurting him anymore so he'd settled down to wait for either a trial - unlikely - or for the victors to just shove him into Azkaban without one.
"It has taken me three months to get this far," the voice said. "Don't you even dare try to tell me that one more form is out of order."
Draco catalogued the voice: Weasley, Ginevra; youngest in his least favorite indigent family; blood traitor; pretty; wielded a mean hex, something he'd been privileged to see multiple times that final year at Hogwarts, though never been on the end of one. He wondered why she was here but didn't bother to get off the hard bench to peer down the corridor and find out.
Merlin, he wanted a cigarette.
A cigarette, a pain potion, a visit with a mediwitch. Hell, he thought, go for broke, Draco, dream big. How about a ticket out of her and a clean bed in a flat somewhere? It wasn't as if he were going to get any of them, so he might as well indulge in fantasy. Ginny Weasley was still arguing with whatever unfortunate had been stationed at the door to the hall of the Ministry where Death Eaters had been stashed while the powers-that-now-were tried to figure out what to do with them.
"Miss Weasley," the man said, "I understand your concerns - "
"You do not," she said. Draco found himself impressed by how well she could project her voice. She was making sure every single person in this corridor, and probably the next, could hear her. "He saved my life multiple times that year with the Carrows. He protected me. He - "
"That's great," the man said. He sounded bored as he droned out the same spiel Draco had heard every time someone came to try to bail out one of the Death Eaters with the monotonic cadence of memorized jargon. "I'm sure he's a bona fide hero, despite that pesky little snake design on his arm, but there are no exceptions except for spouses. Death Eaters can be remanded to the custody of a spouse if said spouse had no connections to the - "
"We got married." Ginny interrupted him. "That last year. We said the vows in private. It was a secret thing, war-time romance."
"And you didn't tell anyone?"
Draco began to have a very bad feeling about what was about to happen, a feeling that was confirmed when what he supposed counted as a guard hauled himself up off his stool and plodded down to stand opposite Draco, outside the bars of his cell. "Your wife's here," he said. "Surprise."
Draco looked at Ginny. If he didn't know they'd never spoken more than two words to one another he'd have thought she'd never been happier to see anyone in her life. She pushed past the guard and reached her fingers through the bars and, never one to miss a cue, Draco hurried up and caught them in his hand. "Ginny," he said with all the sincerity a man raised by skilled liars could muster. "I've been so worried; are you okay?"
"Never mentioned it," the guard said. "Never mentioned her at all, really."
Draco flicked a glance at his captor. Dull grey robes and a stomach gone to the kind of paunch that spoke of too much cheap beer wrapped around a man with beady eyes. "I didn't care to risk her," Draco said. "Oddly, I haven't found my stay here that pleasant and preferred she not experience it."
"'Preferred she not experience it,'" he mimicked. "You poncy farts are all the same, think yer better than the rest of us."
"Only better than some," Ginny said. She kept her eyes on Draco, feigning adoration, so she missed the way the guard stiffened.
"Thing is, miss," he said. "Can't let him go without some proof you two's actually hitched up."
Draco found himself oddly charmed that Ginny Weasley didn't miss a beat. "April," she said. "in a classroom on the second floor. We did it alone."
"Our liaison wasn't the sort of thing we cared to advertise," Draco added. "Her friends didn't like me, mine didn't like her."
"To be honest," Ginny said, a phrase that elicited a bit of a hacking cough from the guard, "I'd never done a wedding bond before, so I'm not sure I did it properly."
"You did it beautifully," Draco said. He had no idea what was going on, but since things couldn't get much worse than being in a holding pen, he wasn't going to refuse to play along. "Best day of my life."
A sly little smile made the guard's piggy eyes crinkle into even smaller dots. "Wonderful," he sad. "Then ya won't mind relivin' it."
The walls began to press in on him and the edges of his vision disappeared into a haze of white. "What?" Draco asked. He'd been so close. For whatever mad reason, Ginny Weasley had decided to get him out of prison, and it had almost happened. He refused to let go of her fingers even as he leaned his forehead against the bars. He'd remember this, he told himself. He'd remember this when he was locked away up in the North Sea. Whatever else she was, she'd been willing to lie and cheat and scheme to save him, and he could almost love her just for that. She had freckles all down the pale skin of her arms, and they were like the stars in the sky, and she'd come for him.
Too bad he'd never find out why.
"Well," the guard was saying as Draco let one numb thought after another slide through his brain, "We'll just do a quick bonding ceremony, make sure that thing you did in the classroom took, and then send you lovebirds on your way."
Ginny's fingers curled into his hands until the nails dug in. "Great," she said a bit weakly.
"You don't have to do that," Draco said to her. He very much doubted she'd meant it to go this far, and some kind of honor he didn't know he still possessed insisted he couldn't let her tie herself to him like this. "The very idea of redoing our vows in this place is insulting. Go find someone who'll believe you - believe us - and not subject us to such a thing."
One of the Death Eaters down the hall jeered that if they did the vows here, could they do the wedding night here as well. He could use a bit of entertainment. "Rowle," Draco said in an undertone in case Ginny wanted to get revenge after she left and regrouped. "Not one of the sharper tools in the Death Eater shed."
"I see that," she said. She tilted her face up to him and said, "I don't mind redoing our vows if you don't."
The world, already closing in around him, began to reel and Draco had to close his eyes. "Whatever you want," he managed to say as he struggled to keep from passing out. Funny, really, he thought. He'd once mocked Potter for fainting at the sight of Dementors and now he turned out to really be the weak one, fainting at the hope of freedom.
The guard wouldn't open the door until he'd done a bit of spellwork and locked the pair of them into some kind of wedding vow. "You may kiss the bride," he said as the key clicked in the lock of his cell and Draco took Ginny Weasley into his arms, trying not to flinch when she inadvertently put a hand up against one of his more tender bruises. Her lips were soft, and she tasted of lemonade and sugar, and he'd known she was short but he'd never quite realized how short. She seemed to take up more space than she really did.
He waited until they'd been shown the door, until his wand had been handed back with a sneering suggestion he use whatever wealth he had left to get his bride a ring, until they had set off down the street to say, the words as quiet as a snake in the weeds, "I thought you were engaged to Saint Potter."
"I am," she said. She looked both ways before yanking him across the street and toward a part of London he didn't know well. "He's going to kill me."
. . . . . . . . .
A/N - I have had this posted on tumblr for a while and am moving it over to FFN just to try to keep everything in one place.