Disclaimer: All the characters (With the exception of one or two) in this story belong to J.K Rowling.
Draco Malfoy leaned back in the chair, closing his eyes, wondering for the hundredth time that day why all chairs in Malfoy Manor had to be made out of leather, that, the near hundred degree heat, and the heavy dress robes his father was forcing him to wear, only made him sweat more. Kicking a footstool over next to the chair, he put his feet up and crossed his arms over his stomach, giving into the few minutes of relaxation he had before his father would come find him and give him something productive to do.
The summer had been long, boring, and hot so far, with his father coming up with endless lists of spells, and charms, and other things he needed to know before the school year started, claiming that this year his marks should be better than the mudblood's. He never actually referred to Hermione Granger by name, but Draco knew that was whom he was talking about. To be perfectly honest, although he didn't like being shown up in class, he had other things on his mind normally, and it didn't bother him.
Under most circumstances, he would wave away his father's harsh criticism with a sarcastic comment, a rolling of the eyes, or simply leaving the room. Although this summer he'd just learned to tune his father out, pretending to listen to him drone on, half heartedly answering questions, and letting his mind wander to something worthwhile. He was just considering calling in the house elf to get him a glass of water when he felt something cast a shadow over his chair, blocking out the hot overhead lights. Draco opened one eye and sighed, seeing the tall figure of his father looming over him.
"Later," he replied without even waiting to hear what his father had to say. He closed his eyes again, and proceeded to ignore the man standing next to him.
Lucius Malfoy scowled, "I will not have you talking to me like that." Frowning, he muttered something, sending the chair toppling over and Draco following after it. Draco's head hit the edge of the desk, cutting him at the temple, and blood started to trickle down the side of his face. Glaring at his father he stood up and wiped off his robes, not acknowledging the cut. "Now I don't remember giving you leave to rest," Lucius snapped, his eyes flashing as he glared into his son's own, the defiance he saw in them only making him angrier, "We have some very important people coming over for dinner tonight, now go get ready. Tell your mother to as well; I'll deal with you later." He turned his back on him and said icily, "And pick up that chair on the way out."
Draco leaned down and picked up the chair, setting it down with a loud thud, and smirked in satisfaction as he saw his father's shoulders tense with anger. He turned and left the room, shutting the door particularly hard after him, not caring that it would probably give him a more severe punishment later that evening. He climbed the rather large marble staircase up to his room, ignoring the family portraits on the walls, people he didn't know who chatted and sent disturbing looks his way when he passed. Draco shrugged them off and went up to his mother's room and knocked on the door, and when she called for him to come in, he leaned against the doorframe, hands in his pockets, "Father said to tell you to be ready for dinner," he drawled in a bored tone.
Narcissa, Draco's mother, a tall and slender lady with blonde hair that ran down her back in waves, was sitting in front of a mirror at the far left, her back to the door, but Draco could see her reflection in the mirror in front of her and saw her nod. "Alright." She turned to look at him and frowned when she saw the blood slowly dripping down his cheek, "Draco what happened?" She frowned walking over to him.
"Oh it's nothing," he said nonchalantly and in the same drawl as before, "Just a little incident, stupid house elves always messing up everything." He shrugged, "It's nothing to worry about; it'll heal."
She frowned slightly, knowing full well what had happened, but said nothing out loud. She pulled her wand out of her robes and ran it over the cut slightly, murmuring something, and a second later the cut had healed itself. "There you go, now go get dressed." She said and waved her hand dismissing Draco.
Draco nodded, leaving the room without even murmuring a word of thanks, and walked down to his room shutting the door behind him. Once inside he shed the heavy dress robes and laid them across the end of the big, four post mahogany bed. Each post had a serpent slithering up the side, and when the proper charm was said they would even come to life and slither away, the point of this, no one knew exactly. The bed had been in the family for generations, and the exact purpose of the snakes was lost more than four generations ago. Walking over to a tall matching armoire, with serpents as handles, he pulled open the doors and surveyed the clothes inside. Nearly all were black, white, or had a silver tint to them, with the occasional green thrown in. Reaching in he pulled out a pair of silver pants and a white shirt to match. Next he took out a fitted silver jacket with the Malfoy crest on the pocket and laid it on his bed. He headed into the bathroom to take a shower.
A half an hour later, he was inspecting himself in the full mirror that was in the corner of the room, "Very sharp and handsome," the mirror told him, and Draco smirked, tugging the jacket down lightly and decided finally decided to undo the button and let it just hang. He adjusted the cuffs on the shirt so that they stood out just enough, and then raked a hand through his neat silver hair, letting a piece hang over his eyes. Satisfied, he smirked again and turned to leave the room.
"Now I don't need to remind you to be on your best behavior," Lucius said with a frown as he watched his son sit down in a chair, stretching his legs out in front of him, pulling at a lose thread, a bored expression on his face. "I don't want a repeat of last time, do I make myself clear?" His voice was like ice and made the hair on the back of Draco's neck stand up, but he nodded anyway.
"Of course Father, this time I shall keep my mouth shut and refrain from intelligent conversation," he drawled as he looked past his father at nothing in particular.
Lucius was about to open his mouth with a snide comment, but the doorbell rang and he shut it angrily, snapping at a house elf, "Don't just stand there like an idiot, get the door and show our guests in!" He kicked the house elf towards the door, mumbling something about not being able to find good help these days.
The house elf whimpered and scurried off to the door, opening it and letting the three people in the entrance enter the house. He brought them through the foyer into the living room before scurrying off into the shadows.
Draco looked up, expecting a tall wizard in fancy robes with a scowl on his face, and instead his eyes met up with three ordinary people that looked very out of place standing in the Malfoy foyer. Standing before him were Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and their daughter Virginia. "What are they doing here?" he spat while standing up, a scowl etched across his features as he looked over the family standing before him and turned to his father expectantly.
"Draco," Lucius hissed, "Do not be rude to our guests," his words sounded forced and unnatural, the word 'guests' catching in his throat. "Welcome to Malfoy Manor," he said turning to address the Weasley's. "Draco you know Mr. and Mrs Weasley, don't you? And Virginia, she's a grade younger than you are."
"Of course, the girl who opened the chamber," Draco said cooly turning his gaze to Ginny, "Virginia, nice to see you again," he said politely, but his voice had an edge to it, as he watched her. He hadn't seen her for nearly a year, occasionally once or twice in the halls, but never stopped to take a good look at her. She looked different than he had remembered, slightly taller, her figure filled out a little more. Other than that she was the same. Her red hair still hung straight down her back, and over her shoulders, and her eyes were still brown. The robes she was wearing were obviously not new, frayed at the sleeves, and around the collar, it was also starting to get a little short.
Ginny bristled and nodded politely, not bothering to tell him to call her Ginny. "Nice to see you too," she said, and then her eyes went to looking around the room, in awe of the huge house, but trying not to show it. Walls were bare, except for a few family portraits, and there was a chill in the air that reminded Ginny of the dungeons at Hogwarts, and she shivered gently. A musty smell mixed with the scent of old books hit her nose, and she tried not to wrinkle her nose in distaste. It smelled very different from her own home, in which something was always cooking, and there was always a sweet aroma in the air.
Off to her right there was a stair case leading upstairs, portraits hanging all along the wall, running the length of the staircase. She could feel them looking back at her and she quickly turned her eyes to the other side of the room, looking down dark hallways and trying to figure out where they led. The Malfoy coat of arms was hanging on the wall at the very end of the foyer, and Ginny's eyes were drawn to it, trying to read the small lettering that spelled out the family motto.
Draco smirked, "Do you like it?" He asked, "I'm sure it's nothing you would be used to, living in that little hole you call a house."
Ginny glared at him, and took a step towards him "Don't you dare insult me Draco," she spat, "I'd rather live in what you call a hole any day than in a huge mansion with a death eater!"
"Ginny!" Molly Weasley said, alarmed, as she put a hand on her shoulder tightly, pulling her back, "that was rude, you don't say things like that!"
Ginny frowned and tried to ignore the smug look Draco was sending her way. "Apologize to Mr. Malfoy and Draco," Arthur said; resisting the urge to congratulate his daughter, "We might as well all get along."
She frowned and turned to Lucius and Draco and said as nicely as she could muster, "I'm sorry for insulting you."
Smirking, Draco nodded, "Apology accepted."
"Why don't we all come and sit inside so we can talk?" Lucius suggested opening the doors to a big living room, which was dimly lit, rows of bookshelves along one wall, filled to the ceiling. A fire was lit in the fireplace, giving the room a soft glow, and many chairs and sofas surrounded a coffee table, which sat low to the ground, and was completely bare. Draco followed his father in, and chose a chair off to the side. It was a rich green and had a high back, with serpents wrapped around the arms. He idly ran his finger along the length of the serpent's body as he watched everyone come in and sit down.
His father chose the sofa that was directly across from the door, where he could see everything going on in the hallway. The sofa was large and showed no sign of wear or use. It too was the deep green that was seen throughout the whole Malfoy household, with two pillows that sat at either end.
Molly and Arthur Weasley came in and sat down on two chairs, similar to Draco's, across from Lucius, and Ginny in an armchair, which matched the couch, across from him, but angled slightly.
"I'm sorry I'm late," Narcissa said a few minutes later as she came into the room "I must have lost track of time." She ignored the glare her husband gave her and walked over to the Weasleys, "It's so nice to see you again!" She gushed, her tone obviously forced.
"And so good to see you," Molly said embracing her in a quick, stiff hug before her husband did the same, and Narcissa brushed past her to smile at Ginny and take her place next to her husband.
"Now that we're all here we should get started," Lucius said as he leaned back against the sofa somewhat stiffly, making it obvious that this was a topic he would rather avoid.
"Get started?" Draco asked trying to keep the curiosity from edging into his voice, "what could there possibly be that you have to discuss with them?"
"You're marriage," his mother replied idly as if she were talking about what she had done that day. "Your marriage to Ginny of course," she elaborated when she saw the confused expression on his face.
"What?" Draco grimaced, "You have got to be joking, I can not and will not marry a Weasley!" He looked over at his father for support, having come to the decision that his mother must be mad.
"Mum?" Ginny asked looking over at her mother with wide eyes, "You can't be serious." she peered over at Draco, "Me, marry him? This is a joke!" She stood up angrily almost sending the chair toppling over for the second time that day. "I would rather die than marry him," she said defiantly.
"If you don't marry him that might happen, now sit down," Molly said giving her daughter a black look, "You don't have a choice Ginny."
Lucius shifted in his seat, "I tried everything to get out of it, but my connections say it's unbreakable," he looked over at his wife, glowering, "It's ironclad."
"Nothing can be iron clad," Draco said, rising to his full height, "Eeverything can be changed, we can afford it."
"Draco, not everything can be solved with money," Narcissa told him, "contrary to what many believe." She looked warily over at her husband, who frowned and held his head a little higher.
"Maybe we should explain everything," Arthur said looking over at Ginny and then over to Draco whose scowl seemed permanently etched onto his face.
"I think that would be a good idea," Ginny said curtly as she crossed her legs at the ankles, and leaned back in her chair waiting for someone to start.
Molly and Narcissa looked at each other, each trying to figure out where to begin, "It started with our fathers," Molly finally said, pointing between herself and Narcissa. "Narcissa's father was having financial trouble, and he borrowed money from my family." Lucius kept his chin held high, fuming at the idea that anyone he was somehow connected to would have to borrow money from someone below their station.
"We ended up in debt," Narcissa said, "Since we couldn't pay it back, my father made a promise with Molly's father. So you see, it's a matter of Wizard Honor, it can't be broken."
Molly nodded, "The boy and girl of each family would be married, but you see, both Narcissa and I are girls, and without siblings, so the debt went unpaid. Under the terms, it falls back onto your generation. And as you see, that leaves it to the two of you."
"Wizard Honor can only be broken by death," Arthur spoke up, "It is a promise made between two wizards, and completely binding. Along with it come certain…terms and conditions that must be fulfilled."
Ginny frowned and looked at them, "What do you mean 'terms and conditions'?"
"There are certain conditions that were laid down when the promise was made…" Narcissa started.
"Well just tell us what they are!" Draco snapped impatiently, leaning forward in his chair, and then slumped back and fell silent at a look from his father.
"The terms are that you must be married by your seventeenth birthday, that you must be married for a minimum of three years, and-" Molly paused, not wanting to go on.
"And you must produce an offspring," Lucius said bluntly.
"No way!" Ginny said automatically, "I will not spend three years with HIM! I'd rather take the death sentence!"
Draco glared at Ginny, "And you think I want to spend the next three years with you? Much less produce an offspring with you?" His nose wrinkled up in distaste, "I don't even want to be in the same room as you. Although, it probably would be the only time you'd ever get to be with someone with any social class."
Ginny opened her mouth angrily to say something but Molly stood up, "Calm down Ginny," she said and gave her daughter a sharp look, causing Ginny to bite her tongue for the moment, "You too, Draco." she said. Draco wanted to say more, to curse those stupid Weasleys and all of their ancestors, but he obliged at the solemn stares of both his parents and Ginny's. "None of us want to see either of you dead, even though we might not be the best of friends."
"You've got that right," Draco murmured, crossing his arms over his chest indignantly.
"But," Narcissa said stepping in, "there is nothing we can do about it…so we might as well try and at least tolerate each other."
Ginny frowned, "I suppose I can be civil as long as I don't ever have to actually talk to him."
Arthur sighed, "Maybe we should just let tempers die down for right now…and get together later in the week when you've both had a chance to think about it?"
"My opinion won't have changed," Draco said stubbornly, his tone icy as he looked over at Ginny.
"Neither will mine," Ginny retorted, her tone reflecting his, "let's go." She started for the door.
Arthur Weasley smiled sheepishly, "I…think that went well," he said moving to shake both Lucius and Narcissa's hands before hurrying out after his daughter.
"We'll be in touch," Mrs. Weasley said and shook the Malfoy's hands as well before leaving to catch up with her husband and daughter.
Draco barely waited until they were out of the room before he exploded, finally allowing himself to lose his temper completely, "What were you thinking?" He yelled at his parents, "I will not marry a Weasley! Surely you can't be serious! What would everyone say?"
"I'm afraid there is no way around it," Lucius said coolly, "For right now we just have to go along with it until I can see if I can work something out."
"But Father-" Draco started but fell silent when he saw the look in his father's eyes. His eyes locked on his father's in a set glare, "Fine. I'll be in my room if you need me." He turned on his heel and strode out of the room and up the stairs.
Narcissa walked over to Lucius. "Lucius, it might not be that bad," she said softly.
He turned angrily, "Get away from me Narcissa. Everything I have worked for, everything I have slaved for, everything is destroyed! I don't want to have to look at you." He turned his gaze towards the fire and said, "Go away before I have the house elves throw you out." Only when he heard the door shut and click behind him did he sigh, walk over to his desk, and light a cigar, staring into the fire absently.
"Ginny please," Molly said, trying to sound calm, "We need to talk about this, it was not our idea…"
Ginny whirled around to her mother angrily, "Well thanks to you, I have to marry Draco Malfoy!" She spat.
"Draco Malfoy?" Ron asked looking up from where he was leafing through a quidditch book by the fire, "Ginny's marrying Draco Malfoy? You've got to be joking."
"No, we're not," Arthur said with a sigh as he hung his coat up on a peg and sat down heavily. "Unfortunately we're not."
"If we could do something to change it we would! Don't you believe that?" Her mother frowned.
"Make him marry Percy! He acts like a girl sometimes," Ginny grumbled and shot a glare at her brother who had burst out laughing. At that look Ron quickly quieted down.
Molly sighed, "Ginny, dear, you know we can't do that…" she tried not to smile at the comment about Percy, and had the situation been any different, she probably would have. "We'll just have to try and make the best of it…"
"Three years?" Ginny said watching her, "Three years? And I have to have a baby with him?"
At this Ron got red in the face and stood up, "WHAT?" He yelled and glanced from Ginny back to his mother, then to his father.
"Not now Ron!" Molly said and waved a hand in his direction, a signal for him to sit back down and mind his own business for now. "Why don't I make us some tea, and we can all sit down and talk about this calmly?"
"Tea?" Ginny said blankly, "You think everything is solved with tea and talking! I'm supposed to marry a death eater's son and you're talking about being calm and drinking tea?"
"What is this about Malfoy?" Ron yelled, and everyone turned to look at him.
Arthur sighed, "Maybe it's time for a family meeting?"
"No, no meetings," Ginny said, shaking her head emphatically. "I want to go to bed, and I don't want to talk about this anymore." She glared at her mother again and turned around and ran up the stairs to her room where she shut the door and flopped down onto her bed.
Molly started for the stairs, but Arthur put his hand out to stop her. "Molly it won't do any good. Let her be by herself for a while."
Ron walked over to them and waved his hand in front of their faces. "What in bloody hell is going on?" he demanded once he had gotten their attention and they turned to look at him.
Arthur sighed, "Not now Ron, your mother and I just need to get some rest. We'll discuss it in the morning…and leave your sister alone for tonight." He put his hand gently on his wife's back leading her up the stairs to their room, leaving a very perplexed Ron standing in the middle of the living room.
"What are we going to do, Arthur?" Molly sighed, as she sank onto the bed.
He kissed her gently, "Nothing we can do Molly, we just…need to all calm down and think about it in the morning. Get some sleep." She nodded and laid down next to her husband, closing her eyes, not bothering to change into her pajamas.
Down the hall, Ginny had pulled a chair over by her window and sat in it, her knees curled up under her chin as she stared out the window idly. She was trying to convince herself that everything happened for a reason, and maybe, just maybe, Draco wouldn't as bad as she thought, although she doubted it. For as long as she had known him, he'd been self-absorbed and had hated her. Ginny cringed as she thought about what everyone at school would say and how they would probably shun her. She felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach when she thought about what Harry would say, and how he would react. Not that she liked him as more than a friend, but with Harry being one of her good friends, and Draco being his enemy, he wasn't bound to be pleased.
Ginny took pride in knowing it was Draco's mother in debt to hers and not the other way around. This and the thread of hope that there was a loophole somewhere, were the only things keeping her from completely resigning herself to the fact that she and Draco would be married. As hard as she tried not to be angry with her parents, she couldn't help it; they were after all, the ones who were making her marry him. As she thought about it, she realized the blame was to fall entirely on her grandparents, after all, her mother had not made the promise, nor had she been asked to be born a girl, or an only child. She was too deep in her own thoughts to hear someone come up the stairs, and jumped when she heard a knock at the door, "Come in," she sighed and turned her gaze back to the window.
"Ginny?" Ron said softly as he came in, balancing a tray of lemonade in one hand while closing the door behind him, "Can we talk?" He asked, handing her a cup.
Ginny took it gratefully and sighed, "I really don't want to talk right now Ron."
"I just want to know what's going on," he said and sat down her bed.
"Nothing that makes any sense," came Ginny's reply as she took a sip of the lemonade and turned back to look at him.
"Well…" Ron shrugged, "You could tell me anyway." He watched her, a worried expression on his face.
After a long silence, Ginny sighed and said, "Because of some Wizard promise I have to marry Draco Malfoy and stay married to him for three years and have a baby. We have to get married before he turns seventeen."
"Wizard promise?" He asked, raising a brow. "Since when would Mum or Dad promise that?"
"They didn't," Ginny told him absently, "Mum's parents did." She took another sip of the lemonade, "The only way it's avoidable is by death."
Ron paled, "You're…going to marry him, right?"
"Of course not!" Ginny said, looking at him like he was insane, "We're talking about Draco Malfoy here, Ron! A death eater's son…there is no way I'm going to marry him!"
"So you choose death?" Ron asked softly as he watched her.
"I don't know!" Ginny snapped and then sighed "I don't know, Ron, I'm sorry, but I just can't imagine being with him for three years."
"Well," he started slowly, "as much as I hate Malfoy, I don't want you to die."
"What?" Ginny gasped, surprised her jaw dropping. "I thought you of all people would be against this!"
"Well I am! The Malfoy part that is," he said, shrugging as he played with the corner of the blanket, "I just…don't want to see you die, that's all." He shrugged again, his face and ears growing red.
She nodded, "I guess I can understand that. Death isn't too appealing to me, either. I mean…it wouldn't be that bad, right?" She said, biting her lip, trying to convince herself more than him.
"Right, not that bad," he nodded, lying through his teeth, "Besides, it's only three years, you can leave him and come home…and just think, two of those years you'll probably be in Hogwarts, in separate houses and separate ends of the castle!"
"Right," she nodded, "But that still leaves the part about producing an heir." She wrinkled her nose. "Which, to be honest…is the part that scares me the most."
"I don't blame you; if I had to produce an heir with Malfoy I'd be scared too!" He said jokingly, trying to lighten the mood, and then sighed. With a frown he continued, "Gin, I don't like this, I'm going to be honest. The thought of you with Malfoy makes my skin crawl." He watched her, "I mean, you're my sister, and he's…Malfoy!" Ron said, thinking that just about explained it all, and then added in a nastier tone, "All I can say is, I don't want him touching you!"
"It's kind of hard to produce a heir without touching each other," Ginny said warily looking down into the glass, "I mean I might as well get used to the idea, it's going to happen whether I want it to or not… It has to happen."
Ron scowled, "If he hurts you Gin…I swear I will kill him." There was sudden venom in Ron's voice, and when Ginny looked up at him the expression of hatred on his face startled her.
She got up and walked over to sit next to him, putting a hand on his arm soothingly, "I can take care of myself, Ron, I'm sure it'll all be alright…" She watched him for a minute and then added with a smile, "and after three years, then you can kill him!"
"Or I could kill him right now and we wouldn't have to worry about all this," Ron told her, his tone softening only slightly as she placed her hand on his arm.
Ginny shook her head, "You couldn't kill anyone Ron, and every one knows that."
"Yeah well," Ron said sitting up a little straighter, "If I had to, I bet I could."
"Let's just hope you never have to," she told him, and they let the silence hang in the air for a few minutes, thinking about what she had just said, Ron using the time to calm himself down. When he spoke again, his tone was back to normal.
"We'll see if we can come up with something that would somehow break the promise," Ron said trying to sound hopeful, "You never know, there are probably loop holes in everything. Maybe Hermione and Harry can help us find one."
"Alright, but…only they can know!" Ginny said quickly, "I don't want anyone else knowing about this. It's bad enough that it's happening; I don't need to deal with anyone else's opinions."
Ron nodded, "you'll have to face them sometime, though."
She bit her lip, looking down at the comforter, "You don't think all the Gryffindors will hate me, do you, Ron?"
Ron looked startled, "Of course not, Gin," he said surprised. "You didn't choose this, you didn't want it to happen, and it was one of those things you can't control. Besides, if someone does hate you for it, they'll have to answer to me, Harry, and Hermione."
"Thanks," Ginny said smiling slightly and yawned, "I think I'm going to go to bed now…"
Ron nodded, got up, and kissed her forehead. "'Night Gin. Remember, I'm here if you need to talk," he said and left the room, quietly shutting the door behind him.
Ginny echoed a goodnight and closed the curtains on the window before quickly changing for bed. She laid her head down on the pillow and closed her eyes, trying not to think about Draco, the wizard promise, and a baby she would eventually have to have. After a long time, she finally fell asleep.