A/N - Please note that this is story includes some rather mature themes. There is sexual and physical abuse mentioned. It is the total opposite of anything I've posted before. If you are under 17, please go away.
This story follows canon up until the point where Harry, Ron and Hermione disappear after Bill's wedding, but it takes them much longer to return.
I notice that some readers drop off after chapter 3, because it's kind of a shocker - but please keep going because, based on reviews, it's an awesome story and likely better than you expect, with lots of cool character development. With that said, read on and enjoy - and yes, it took me a couple of years but I added an epilogue to tie up some loose ends. And don't forget to REVIEW!
Chapter 1 - Dire Circumstances
It had been more than three years since Harry Potter had disappeared with Ron and Hermione. Three and a half very long years, since the Ministry had fallen and Voldemort had put a puppet government in place.
Voldemort called his conquest The New Regime.
Ginny Weasley called it hell. After all, if it wasn't hell, she wouldn't be on her way to the Ministry right now to do the impossible on this bitter cold day in February. Only hell could be this cruel.
Unfortunately, she had no other option. Time was short and she was desperate. If she waited, three members of her family were going to die.
She suppressed a shudder as she thought about her twin brothers, Fred and George, along with her mother, and bit back her anger. The twins were directly responsible for the situation and, despite being furious with them for being caught, a part of her understood that it wasn't entirely their fault for wanting to do something rebellious. After all, three years was a long time to live under oppression and, during that time, it had been far from easy for the Weasley family. With each new law initiated by Voldemort's government, they'd only been able to watch as more and more of their freedom was taken away.
It was no wonder that her brothers had started pulling various pranks in an attempt to undermine the system. The twins were rebels first and foremost. It was in their nature to cause mischief, and the clever distractions they frequently created had managed to cause varying degrees of disruption and chaos for Voldemort's enforcers. Their actions had been a godsend to many over the past three difficult years. Single-handedly, the twins had kept morale up for many during the darker days. But, deep down, everyone knew that it would only be a matter of time before they were caught.
That fateful day came the previous afternoon, when the officials arrived at the Weasley brothers' joke shop to arrest the proprietors. They'd resisted, of course, and, worse, Molly Weasley had been there as well, helping with inventory. Her resistance to the inevitable arrest had only resulted in her being incarcerated as well.
One thing that was a certainty with Voldemort's government was the fact that open resistance against the New Regime was simply not tolerated. Sentences for even petty crimes were extremely harsh for anyone who was not a loyal follower of Voldemort. In the case of the Weasley brothers, it was a foregone conclusion that the sentence would be death, or a very close equivalent.
With those thoughts, Ginny strode purposefully toward her destination. If her plan failed, it was likely that the remaining members of her family would attempt a rescue that would be both futile and violent. It would only mean that more would die.
- x - X - x -
As Ginny entered the building that had once held the the old Ministry of Magic, memories of happier times flooded her memory, and she felt an old echo of excitement. She had visited the grand building often when she was a child, sometimes to accompany her father on an errand or, occasionally, with her mother to meet her father for lunch. Most of her memories of the place had been of happy times when her father's co-workers had always greeted her pleasantly, typically offering her sweets from their desktop jars.
Unfortunately, on this day, the fond feeling disappeared almost immediately once she was inside. Her father no longer worked there, and she was sorry to see that almost nothing about the place reminded her of her childhood visits. Instead, the building she entered that day could only be described as foreboding, as it was likely intended to be. There was no trace of the bustling, friendly atmosphere that once existed there.
In fact, during this particular visit, Ginny only felt only intimidation and hostility.
She received more than a few stares as she marched through the halls wearing her best cloak and her best business attire, although it was shabby when compared to the expensive, tailored garments worn by everyone she passed. Nevertheless, she held her head high and clutched the bag containing two law books and the precious piece of parchment that held her notes that would hopefully be the key to saving her brothers' lives.
Her destination was the Ministry of Justice, headed by none other than Mr. Lucius Malfoy, and she felt her throat become dry at the mere thought of meeting with the man. The name alone brought her nothing but foul memories, and the thought of meeting with him filled her with a dread that was only surpassed by the fear of seeing her mother and brothers executed.
She had nearly died once because of Lucius Malfoy, but that was only part of the reason for her trepidation. Since the war began, Malfoy had become one of the most prominent figures in the New Regime. His support of Voldemort was well-publicized and his actions had consistently proven his staunch loyalty. Malfoy was known to be cold, and there were substantial rumors that backed that claim, including the story that he'd directly taken part in his own wife's murder in the early days of Voldemort's rule.
Ginny suppressed a shudder at the thought of meeting him.
Swallowing her fear, she walked into the office that bore his name on the door and promptly received a cold welcome from the receptionist. That in itself was expected. In fact, Ginny would have been surprised if the greeting had been any different. The witch's response to Ginny's request to meet with the Minister was short and sharp. The witch simply stated to Ginny that Mr. Malfoy had not yet arrived.
Ignoring the witch's rudeness, Ginny politely asked for an appointment and was subsequently directed to sit and wait.
Finding a quiet spot in the corner, she settled into one of the obscenely expensive chairs, privately wondering if Malfoy had been expecting one of the Weasleys to make an attempt to plea for the lives of their family members. Knowing what she did of Malfoy, she also considered the idea that he anticipated such a meeting so that he would have the opportunity to laugh them out of his office.
She dismissed the thought quickly, realizing that it was unhelpful, and decided to distract herself by pulling out one of her books and once again look over the wording of the contract that she'd drafted.
The law book felt comfortable in her hands as she flipped through the pages, quickly finding the section that seemed most relevant, but it was difficult to concentrate in the unfamiliar room. Simply holding the book caused her thoughts to wander. It was actually Hermione's book, one of a number that her former schoolmate had left behind at the Burrow after she had disappeared with Harry and Ron on their mysterious quest to defeat Voldemort.
In the months after leaving Hogwarts, the combination of boredom and the politically charged society had caused Ginny to start reading the books, eventually causing her to become intrigued with the study of law. She was far from being a solicitor, and she was well aware of that fact. However, over the months, her informal study had given her a good familiarity about contracts. Little did she know at the time that she would be using her newfound knowledge in the way she now planned.
She could only pray that she'd learned enough to not muck this up.
Eventually, she settled into reading, making a few adjustments to her draft, and the time passed quickly. Finally, mid-morning, the annoyingly rude receptionist walked into the room to inform her that the Minister of Justice was willing to meet with her. She nodded politely, but silently scoffed at the title as she walked past the elaborate sign adorning the office wall.
As she entered the office, she briefly noticed that the decor was beyond extravagant. However, the distraction was only temporary. In the next instant, she became acutely aware of the imposing figure of Lucius Malfoy seated behind an enormous mahogany desk.
All her attention was quickly directed to the man as he stood and smiled maliciously at her in greeting. He was clearly expecting entertainment from this meeting and he mocked her presence by being falsely courteous as he extended his hand.
"Miss Weasley, it is indeed a pleasant surprise to see you here."
She hated him even more now that she was directly meeting with him. She silently cursed herself for her stiff and formal attempt at exchanging pleasantries with the man, but she couldn't afford to make him angry. She needed to stay calm and professional, or her proposal would go nowhere. Instead, she merely gave a stiff smile and ignored the urge to tell him what she really thought of him.
"I don't think it is all that much of a surprise Mr. Malfoy, considering recent events with my family."
"Of course, of course," he agreed with false pleasantness, indicating for her to be seated. Maintaining impeccable politeness, he waited for her to sit before he did. Looking at her expectantly, he leaned back casually in his leather chair and rested his elbows on the armrests, casually tapping his index fingers together thoughtfully in front of him.
"Nevertheless," he continued, "I would hardly expect that your father would send his young daughter here, alone, to discuss such serious matters. Not that there is anything to discuss. The case is quite closed."
She bit back her temper, reminding herself that it would do her no good to argue with this man.
"I'm sure nothing is ever entirely final," she said as smoothly as she could manage. "I'm sure there is always some room for negotiations."
Surprisingly, he smiled, and a mild look of surprise crossed his face. She took it as a small success on her part.
"Well said, Miss Weasley. But, unfortunately, for there to be negotiations, one needs something with which to negotiate. I'm afraid there's very little that your family might be able to offer the Dark Lord for restitution in this little mishap."
"You haven't heard my proposal yet."
The man's eyes lightened with evil mirth, and she realized that he was truly looking forward to crushing her plan, just as she'd expected. She tried to ignore the fear that gripped her in that moment. She wasn't going to allow it to stop her from trying.
"By all means, my dear. Do tell me what you plan to offer in exchange for this particular crime. Perhaps you have found another party that might be at fault?"
He was baiting her, and she refused to rise to it. She only had one potential argument and she had to hope that it was good enough. She went straight to the point. "No. I would like to argue that you are looking at executing three purebloods in a society that values bloodline above all else. Surely, there is some sort of a compromise that can be reached so that they can rejoin society."
He looked intrigued. That was good.
"Both of your brothers are married to pureblooded witches, are they not?"
"They are. And one of my sisters-in-law is currently expecting a child. You are well aware that Weasleys tend to have large families. Certainly, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would prefer that a pure bloodline be extended."
Lucius seemed to be honestly enjoying the discussion. "The Dark Lord would likely agree."
She breathed a sigh of almost relief. With this argument, she might have a small chance.
"However," he continued, "We cannot allow such miscreants to continue to wreak havoc on a gentle and well-ordered society. This is not likely the first time that your brothers have taken part in this sort of criminal activity, and my office has been given orders to make an example to prevent future mishaps. I'm afraid that their blood status alone cannot help them."
She took a deep breath. It was time for her to state her proposal. It was her last chance. His interest in the conversation thus far gave her the hope that her plan might work.
"What if I was able to provide some sort of insurance against them attempting such behavior again?" she asked, surprised at the cool, calm tone of her own voice.
The man laughed cruelly. "And how do you suggest we do that, little girl?"
She bit back her anger at his taunting question and tried to respond as calmly as possible. "I understand that there is a demand for pureblooded witches in the area of marriage contracts," she said, her voice shaking only slightly.
"There is," he confirmed, his brows rising in surprise.
Ginny knew this, and his answer confirmed the rumors. A number of Voldemort's most loyal followers had less than desirable blood backgrounds. They were looking to increase their status by marrying a pureblood and producing higher ranked children. She took a deep breath, summoning every shred of her courage to speak her next words.
"I would be willing to offer myself into such a contract, with a loyal follower of the government," she said, willing herself to remain calm as she spoke the words. She looked up and saw that his eyebrow was raised in apparent interest. She continued, "As a result of said contract, I would be in a position that would have influence over my family's actions."
She knew Malfoy would understand her politically correct wording. She was offering herself as a hostage. By being married to a Death Eater, she would be under close watch, thereby forcing her family to remain well-behaved. It was the only solution.
Lucius Malfoy smiled again and it was the most unnerving thing Ginny had ever seen.