Chapter One: Notice of Arrangements
Diagon Alley was bustling with commotion the day before the return to Hogwarts. Ginny would still hardly believe that it was her sixth year already. Mrs. Weasley hurried Ginny, Hermione and Ron through all of the necessary stores gathering everything on their Hogwarts lists. Ron talked her into getting new dress robes. Everyone was in high spirits.
That night back at the burrow, Hermione paced nervously in Ginny's room. "What if I don't make Head Girl?" Her eyes began to fill with tears.
"Oh, Hermione. Who else would Dumbledore pick? You've been a prefect since your fifth year; you've got nothing to worry about." She placed an arm over her bushy hair friends' shoulder.
They both climbed into bed, wondering what excitement tomorrow would bring.
Seemingly moments after Ginny closed her eyes, Mrs. Weasley was standing over her, hands on her hips, yelling at her to get dressed. Everyone slowly crept downstairs for breakfast. Fred and George were there loading everyone's trunks into the borrowed ministry car.
After hugging Mrs. Weasley and her twin brothers, Ginny boarded the train and found and empty compartment to share with the others. Harry was the first to find her. "Hey, Gin." He said as he sat down next to her, more closely than usual. He stared at her. "Um…Ginny, I've been thinking about you all summer. I want to ask you something before Ron comes in…" He swallowed nervously. "Do you think you'd like to go on the first Hogsmeade trip with me?" He asked wide-eyed.
Ginny was screaming with excitement on the inside but she couldn't get any words to come out so she just smiled and nodded. This was going to be a great year, she decided as she stared out the window and waved at her mum.
Ron and Hermione charged through the door, sat down and looked the opposite direction of each other. They had obviously been arguing over something.
"What's wrong with you two?" Ginny asked, still smiling.
"Your brother just agreed to go to Hogsmeade with Susan Bones." Hermione yelled.
Harry and Ginny both turned their heads towards Ron, who shouted, "Well what was I supposed to say?! Susan came up to me and asked. I don't see what the big deal is anyways. It's not like I have a girlfriend!" His hands slapped down on his knees loudly as he looked at Hermione.
"Well maybe if you would stop being so stubborn, you would see that you could have had a girlfriend already." Ginny laughed.
"I don't know what you're talking about. And what is so funny?" Ron shifted in his seat and lost his balance, slipping off the edge. "Ron!" Hermione grabbed his cloak before he hit the ground.
"Thanks, Hermione." He said, staring at her, then at Ginny.
The Great Hall seemed more packed than ever as everyone watched the sorting of the first years. Once Derrick Zeeker was sorted into Ravenclaw, Dumbledore stood for his usual speech about the rules and such. The four Griffindors knew the speech by heart so they chatted quietly amongst themselves. Ginny had just started telling Hermione that Harry had asked her to Hogsmeade when they heard an unfamiliar part of the speech.
"For those of you in 6th & 7th years, when you return to your dormitories, you will find a letter from the Ministry. This letter is very important. As many of you may, or may not, know all marriages in the wizard world are arranged. Parents and children alike do not have any say-so in the final decisions. It is all decided by the Ministry. They have decided to let you know before you graduate now, in order to let you become aquainted with your future spouse before marriage. They are hoping that this will ease the suprise of the whole situation. The letter in your dormitory will name your arranged spouse. If that person is a student at Hogwarts, please take into consideration that this is the person that you will have to spend the rest of your life with so be kind. I would also like to announce that for the first Hogsmeade trip, I will be making sure that everyone is accompanied by their arranged mate…." He paused looking over his half-moon shaped glasses. "I have a feeling this is going to be a very interesting year. Let the feast begin."
The Great Hall erupted with chatter. Harry looked at Ginny with a half smile. Ron was busy shoveling food into his mouth faster than usual and Hermione had slipped away from the table. Ginny looked up just in time to see Hermione's bushy hair disappear behind the large doors of the Great Hall. She glanced back at Harry. As she ate, she silently hoped that Harrys' would appear on her letter. "I wonder how they choose who is with who?" She asked aloud. Harry and Ron both shrugged, not knowing the answer. Harry was secretly picturing walking through Hogsmeade, holding Ginny's hand.
As everyone's curiosity was getting the best of them, the Great Hall quickly emptied. Ginny excused herself from the table and headed back to her room. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow Harry, Ron."
Chaos was erupting in the halls of Hogwarts as everyone was telling their friends about who they would have to marry. Most seemed excited and nervous. At least it seemed like Ministry had made good choices. Ginny thought as she entered the Gryffindor common room, only to find a dazed Hermione slumped down in an overstuffed red chair, clutching a crumpled bit of parchment.
Ginny knelt down in from of the girl. "Hermione, who is it?" She asked, knowing that she was obviously shocked by the arrangement. Her bushy haired friend didn't reply, but only motioned her eyes toward the parchment. Ginny grabbed it from her hand and uncrumpled it. "Oh!…" Ginny whispered as she looked back up at Hermione.
Just then Ron and Harry came into the common room. "As long as I don't end up with Luna Lovegood or a Slytherin I think I'll be okay…" Ron stated and both boys laughed. Harry was still secretly hoping he would end up with Ginny but he wasn't about to tell Ron that. When he saw her their eyes locked. He was looking for any sign that she had already read her letter and that she might be excited if it were his name written on the parchment. Instead he saw a look of amusement on her face as she broke their stare and glanced from Hermione to Ron, smiling wickedly.
"What?" Ron and Harry said simultaneously.
Ginny grabbed Hermione's hand and began walking toward the girl's dormitories. "Maybe we should all go take a look at our letters and meet back down here in about, say five minutes?" The boys nodded their heads and turned toward their rooms, as Ginny guided a still dazed Hermione up the stairs.
Hermione sat on the young Weasley's bed as Ginny looked anxiously at her Ministry letter resting upon her nightstand. She swallowed as she began to open it.
"How do you think he'll take it?" Hermione finally spoke.
"Oh he's going to be hysterical, Hermione. But he'll calm down after a while…once he realizes that it's what he's wanted all along." Ginny tried not to laugh. She closed her eyes as she pulled the letter out of the envelope, longing that it said what she hoped.
Dear Miss Genevra Weasley,
We are pleased to announce that you are to wed Mr. Draco Malfoy by no later than December 31, 2006. Any concerns regarded this arrangement can be directed the assistant to the Minister of Magic in London.
Ministry of Magic
Social Arrangements Dept.
This cannot be happening. I want to be with Harry. What is the Ministry thinking ordering me to marry a Malfoy. We hate each other!
Ginny hadn't realized it but she had slid to the floor and tears were streaming down her face. Hermione grabbed the parchment from Ginny's hand and gasped in horror. "Malfoy!!!…How dare they match you with Draco Malfoy. His father almost had you killed a few years ago! There has to be a way out of this. Don't worry Gin, if there is a way, I'll find it! I promise." She said as she gave Ginny her best fake smile. This was bad, very bad.