by Sharlene/mynuetDedicated to the always lovely Sarea Okelani, for her birthday. :)
No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks. ~~Mary Wollstonecraft
It had not taken a cataclysm to get Ginny Weasley to where she was this evening, although many would have assumed it had. She still loved her family, all of whom were alive and healthy, even if knowing what their youngest member was choosing to do would have caused a collective apoplexy. Hermione Granger was still dear to her, and while she had envied the other girl's ferocious intellect, she'd never particularly resented it. No, for the most part, Ginny's life was a marvel of placidity, and she should have been content to continue in her role as the ingenue who was shielded from any shocks which might threaten that innocence.
So why was Ginny Weasley standing in a circle of robed and cloaked figures, swathed in black except for her uncovered left arm? Why was the littlest member of a family ruled by a muggle-obsessed patriarch awaiting being branded with the Dark Mark?
The answer was as simple and as profound as the BBC news.
It had been July of 1998, and Hermione had invited Ginny to visit her at home. The girls had been full of giggles and talk of Hermione's plans now that she'd left Hogwarts, and all of the usual sorts of things that two good girl friends do when they're temporarily free of care. Ginny had been fascinated with the television, and they had spent an entire night watching films, including two viewings of "Interview With the Vampire" because Ginny had literally drooled over Brad Pitt.
Then at one point, while waiting for a tape to rewind, the news came on, and Ginny was horrified as the newscaster spoke so calmly about three boys, burned to death in their beds because they were Catholic and not Protestant. Hermione had tried to explain gently that awful things happen in the world all the time, but Ginny simply couldn't understand why such wanton killing was allowed.
"I thought muggles were /nice/," Ginny had wailed, only to be confronted by a look of mingled irritation and sadness from Hermione.
"Some are," she had said, trying to explain her world to someone who had only ever heard about it as a sugar-coated myth. "But there are a lot of truly horrible people, too. It makes me cringe sometimes, to listen to your father and know that he's got completely the wrong idea, even if his version of what muggles are is better than the version people like the Malfoys like to believe."
Ginny had never felt more confused in her life. "But which is the truth?"
"Neither. Or both, I suppose. Just like in the wizarding world, there are people who are impossibly good, and there are some who are unspeakably bad." Hermione shrugged. "Murder tends to take place on a larger scale in the muggle world, but then, in terms of percentage of population, it's mostly even."
They had talked a little more about it, briefly, but then the tape had finished rewinding and they settled back into watching as impossibly attractive men and women argued and kissed and wore much too little clothing. Ginny's mind, however, was still full of the horror she'd never imagined existed outside of Voldemort and his ilk.
She returned home, and later to Hogwarts, with a very contemplative outlook. She read everything she could get her hands on about muggles, and shocked everyone by achieving the highest Muggle Studies OWL score in decades as she demanded to take it in order to be allowed into the NEWT level class... Which she quickly outstripped. And the more she learned, the more she came to the conclusion that maybe the ones mistaken about muggles were not the Malfoys.
Soon enough, her time at Hogwarts was over, and she took a menial job at the Ministry, fetching coffee and transcribing reports, small tasks that others were too busy or too important to do. There she met Draco Malfoy again, as his father had decreed that he would have to earn his way up the ladder so as not to endanger the newly restored and still-fragile cachet of the Malfoy name. Without the need to posture for the other Slytherins or Gryffindors, the two of them had become quite friendly, chatting casually as they went about their duties. She'd discovered that he had a keen mind, and that they often shared opinions, even if they'd arrived at them in different ways.
One day he asked her out for coffee, and she'd blushingly agreed. Coffee had led to lunch, then dinner, until they'd slipped into being a couple without a great deal of fanfare. Draco's rise at the Ministry was meteoric, but he still made time for her every single day. He was a perfect gentleman, although sometimes she wished he wouldn't be, like when he would pull his body away from hers and say a shaky goodnight, leaving her holding a hand up to her tingling lips and damning his self-control. If she had the slightest idea how to be seductive, she'd have done it, because she was fairly sure that she loved Draco Malfoy, and she wanted to experience what came after hot drugging kisses and long slow caresses.
She cried when he asked her to marry him, her face wreathed with smiles as he slipped a ring on her finger that he had paid for out of his own wages, saying he had wanted something for her that was just theirs. She'd get all of the traditional and huge Malfoy jewels soon, but for his pledge to her, he wanted it to be perfect. Ginny hadn't let him leave her that night, clinging to him and kissing him deeply every time he tried to leave, until his self control had broken and he carried her off to the bedroom.
Her family had been shocked at first, and then shocked further when Lucius Malfoy himself had visited the Burrow, apologizing for the previous bad blood between the families and expressing a wish to leave it in the past, for the sake of the children. Arthur Weasley was equally floored and suspicious, but he couldn't allow Lucius to gain the upper hand, and so he was forced to accede gracefully. Draco arranged for the largest box of chocolates ever made by Honeydukes to be delivered to his mother as a thank you, and Ginny was blissfully happy as she basked in the joy of being surrounded by love.
It didn't take very long after the wedding, however, for her to notice that Draco was disappearing at odd times. At first she had thought he had another woman, and she wept an ocean of bitter tears into her pillow as she wondered who he was with and why she wasn't enough. She had almost made her decision to leave him when two things changed her mind.
The first was that the legends of the Weasley fertility were completely true, and Draco was so thoroughly, completely overjoyed that she began to think it was impossible for him to be that good an actor. No man seeing a mistress could possibly spend an entire night lying with his ear on his wife's stomach, talking to the barely formed baby about how beautiful its mother was, how happy its father was, and how the world would be handed to the little one on a silver platter.
Then, when Ginny was sitting at home one evening trying to pretend interest in knitting, a chance remark from Narcissa led her to attend a political meeting, and she came home with her mind once again buzzing. There was a new Lord rising in place of Voldemort, one who did not espouse terror tactics, but rather the use of political and social pressure to preserve the wizarding world as a whole. The number of pure-blooded wizards was in a steady decline as more and more wizards married muggles, eschewing tradition in favor of the current fashion for imitating muggles slavishly. The Dark Mark was rising once again, although this time as a political symbol that was gaining supporters as it grew. She spent rather a lot of time reading about muggles and following the shifts of the political winds.
And so the days continued, one after another. Ginny gave birth to the new Malfoy heir, and was presented with a truly astonishing amount of jewels for what had been an almost laughably easy labor. She smiled a bit at Draco and, when they had a moment of privacy, told him that the minute the mediwitch gave the clearance, she'd model the jewelry for him while not wearing anything else. He had licked his lips and looked at her hungrily and she smiled seraphically as the nurse brought their baby back from being weighed.
It was three months after Lucas had been born that Draco started disappearing again at night, but this time she refused to even contemplate that he might be unfaithful. Instead she secured an invisibility cloak and left the baby with the nanny as she followed her husband, using a muggle locator beacon to track him. He met up with a group of hooded figures, and she quickly transfigured her own robes to fit in.
Draco, his hair shining in the light, spoke to the group about the need for protecting the wizard world, and securing a future for their children that would not be endangered by the mad way that muggles seemed intent on destroying each other and everything in their path. Historically, when wizards had made themselves known to muggles, they had been used for power instead of for the common good. The solution, then, was to approach the muggles from a position of power rather than subservience, and to dictate terms. After all, it worked for the United States, the largest and most powerful country in the muggle world; Why shouldn't it work similarly when applied by wizards?
Ginny had clapped until her hands were sore, then snuck away before anyone could question her identity. When Draco finally came home, exhausted from meeting after endless meeting with potential allies and wavering loyalists, he was startled by being attacked by a wife who was showing more lustful exuberance than he could remember her ever exhibiting before. He called in sick to his job at the Ministry the next morning and they spent the entire day in bed, both thoroughly enjoying Ginny's new-found aggressiveness.
Time passed, and as Draco continued to build support for his cause, Ginny became a renowned speaker on the subject of muggles and how they lived. She was subtle in the way she shaped her speeches to emphasize the need for a change, but eventually someone in Draco's organization approached her, subtly, because everyone who knew of his still-secret involvement knew that he kept his family firmly sheltered from everything he did. Still, Ginny had not lived day and night with a former Dark Lord in her head and then much later a rising Dark Lord in her arms not to be changed.
For she knew she had changed. She had learned to keep secrets, to manipulate, to look at the world and see it in a way of her choosing, not of her father's or Tom's or Hermione's or even Draco's. And the way she saw it, what the wizarding world needed was a leader, one who was unafraid of doing what needed to be done for the greater good, even if it was unpopular. It didn't hurt that she had developed a taste for power, for being able to control those around her to follow her agenda and do her bidding. Tom Riddle had been a zealot, and that's where he had failed. Draco knew the art of subtlety and would not fail, and neither would she.
In the end it was her father-in-law she chose to help her. He had been surprised, then amused, but agreed with her plan. For some reason, Draco, who always remembered every holiday and every anniversary, down to the yearly visit to Flourish and Blotts so he could kiss her on the spot they first met, could never seem to remember his own birthday. This year, there was an initiation planned for that date, when followers deemed trustworthy and intelligent enough would be allowed to pledge their fealty to Draco and to his cause. Ginny would be one of them.
And so here she stood, waiting, the black cloth stifling and her arm feeling unbearably heavy as she held it out, awaiting her turn with as much patience as she was capable of. She smiled behind the mask as she pictured what Draco would say when he came home and found her waiting for him. She was debating what would make for the most effective seduction scenario when he came to her later that night when he stopped in front of her.
He paused, briefly, then moved on to the next person, finishing the round before coming back to stand in front of her once again. He must have recognized her, although she didn't know how; she had changed her perfume, disguised her ring, and the robes completely obscured her size and shape. More important than how, though, was what he would do next.
Ginny held herself very still as he raised her hand to his lips, then ran his mouth over the inside of her forearm, making her skin tingly as his hot breath moved over it. The backs of her knees started sweating as his tongue flicked out to caress the spot just under her elbow, and it was all she could do not to rip off every stitch they were wearing and ravage him right there. "Mrs. Malfoy," he purred. "What a lovely surprise."
She pushed her hood and mask back, shaking her hair out so it fell behind her in a shimmering curtain. "Happy birthday, my lord," she murmured, sinking to her knees in front of him and bowing her head in the traditional gesture of fealty.
Draco put one hand under her chin and tilted her head up. "Rise," he said gently. "It doesn't befit a queen to kneel."
She obeyed, and he took her arm, pointing his wand at the crook of her arm. There was a moment of pain and she closed her eyes against it, then opened her eyes to look into his. There were gasps from all those assembled, those with less control reaching out to clutch their tingling arms. He turned away from her, but held on to her hand as he gave a speech to those assembled, explaining that, as a new era dawned, a new symbol was needed. Every follower of Draco's who had carried the Dark Mark now carried instead a stylized depiction of a Celtic knot, superimposed with a pair of linked rings.
There were cheers, which redoubled when Draco pulled Ginny up onto the dais with him, her head coming to rest on his shoulder as he pulled her close. Shouts for the health of the Lord and his queen rang through the night, and Ginny was floating on a haze of euphoria, knowing that together, she and Draco would be the best rulers the world had ever seen, and the world would be a better place for it.