Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter series. If I did, I'd he a heck of a lot richer and Draco and Ginny would have ended up together like they should!
So, I read a story a while back and absolutely fell in love with the idea the author presented. I'd seen it a little in a few other fanfics too and finally decided, what with my other fanfic (Set in Stone! You should read it if you haven't already!) nearly done, I realized it was about time to start on a few fanfic. So, here you go!
I'll warn you now that it starts off a little slow. Bear with me though because it gets good by the end of this chapter! I can't wait to see what you guys think!
Without further ado…
As the sunlight filtered into my small bedroom in the flat I shared with Luna, I let out a groan. Glancing over at my clock, I sighed and buried my face in my pillow. I had to be at work in an hour. The small café down the street wasn't the ideal job but it paid the bills. It would have to do until I finished healing school. When I made the decision to become a Healer at St. Mungos, I didn't realize the hours of bookwork it would require. Thankfully, my three years would be done in a mere matter of months.
Slipping out of my warm bed, I stumbled sleepily to the only bathroom in the flat. Passing Luna's room, I heard her soft snores. Lucky for her, she didn't have to be at the ministry until nine, two and a half hours after I had to be at work. I took a cold shower in an attempt to wake me up a bit. I hadn't been sleeping all that well lately. Nightmares of the war still kept me up some nights. Even four years after Battle at Hogwarts, four years since evil was put in its place, they still came back with vivid clarity while I was sleeping.
As the cold water ran over me, washing the sleep and fear from my body, I couldn't help but think back to the dark time. The most joyous day the wizarding world had experienced in a long time, the day Voldemort was killed for good, was one of the darkest days of my life. Sometimes all I had to do was close my eyes and I could still see the body strewn battlefield, blood staining the grounds of Hogwarts. All those lifeless eyes, friend and foe alike, really took a toll on me while I searched for survivors. It had been I that found the body of my best friend, Collin Creevey. So many people had died: Colin, Remus, Tonks, Fred. Fred.
That is what hit me the hardest, Fred's death. How could life go on without him? My fun-loving older brother was dead. How can you move on from something like that? It hit George the hardest. He lost other half, his brother, his twin. It took a long time, but eventually he'd been able to smile again. He still wasn't the same though, quieter. It took everyone a while to recover from the destruction that day had brought. Not a single member of the wizarding world had escaped the pain of losing someone dear to them. So many had died that day.
Even now, after four years, everyone still bore the marks of that day. Nothing had been the same since. But, each day, we regained our footing a bit more. Each day, we stood a bit taller. Life moved on, the memories of those who were lost part were part of us. It was the thought of what Fred would say if he saw me in such a horrible state that finally broke my depression. He wouldn't want me to cry for him, he would want me to laugh and smile at his memory. I was able to move on with my life, finish at Hogwarts, and begin working towards my future.
Letting out a sigh, I stepped from the shower, shutting the water off. After quickly drying off I wrapped the fluffy white towel around myself and ventured back to my room. Rubbing my eyes, I pawed though my closet to find my uniform. Slipping the dress with the apron off the hanger, I got ready for the day. My hair found its way into the usual pony tail, most convenient to keep my hair out of the way, and my feet slipped into the worn white work shoes before I grabbed my purse.
The sun was only just beginning to rise that cool October morning as I slipped my sweater on and headed out the door, quietly closing it to avoid waking Luna. After casting a quick locking charm on the door, I started down the street. Since the café was only a few blocks away I just walked. Besides, being a muggle establishment, it would be a bad idea to apparate to work. I smiled at Mrs. Jennings from a few doors down as she watered her flowers. She was such a sweet old lady.
"Have a good day at work, dear," She called as I passed.
I gave her a smile. "I'll do my best! Will you and Elroy be coming down for lunch today?" I questioned. It was a habit of theirs to come to lunch at the café every Tuesday.
"You know Elroy, he won't give up on bugging you at work when he has the chance any more than he'll give up his weekly milkshake," she let out a laugh as she sat down her watering can and picked up a pair of scissors to trim her plants.
"I'll see you two later then," I said with a laugh as I started back down the street. After greeting a few more of the early birds on the route to work, I arrived at the Caddy Corner Café. I smiled fondly at the little building as I pushed the door open, the bell above the door dinging its greeting. "Cady, you here yet?" I called out as I flipped lights on.
"Back in the kitchen," I heard my co-worker call from out of sight.
Walking back thought the double doors, I found the plump blond starting the coffee. "Good morning," I said as I put my purse on a hook with my sweater. Looking at the clock above the grill, I realized I was a few minutes early. It was six twenty-five and I didn't technically have to be here for another five minutes.
"Good?" she questioned with a laugh. "I ripped a pair of pantyhose this morning after burning my coffee and scorching my eggs. Morning yes, good no." She sighed as she poured herself a cup of the freshly brewed coffee.
I let out a laugh. Sometimes she really reminded me of Lavender Brown, my hare-brained friend. Neither of them was without something to complain about. "Seems like you've had a rough start," I agreed, pouring myself a cup too, the hot liquid tempting me with its delicious aroma.
"Rough? It's been more than rough it's been-" she started, only to be cut off by the chiming of the bell, announcing the arrival of another of our co-workers. I smiled fondly at Jack, our cook, as he made his way into the kitchen.
"Complaining as usual, Cady? What a way to start the day," he said jokingly in his thick Italian accent as he began to prepare the kitchen for the long day ahead.
Ignoring his comment, Cady took the coffee out to the front counter warmers. "Good morning, Jack," I greeted with a laugh, grabbing coffee cups from the counter to set on the tables. After all the tables and booths were laid with coffee cup and silverware, I flipped the sign on the door from closed to open.
Moments later, Tawny Frederickson, our boss came in. "Sorry, I'm late you guys," the middle aged woman said with a sigh as she hurried to hang her purse and jacket up before our morning customers began to arrive. "I woke up to a sick cat this morning. I just got the poor thing to the vet before rushing over here. Don't worry though, Pricy should be fine," she rambled as she got the cash register ready.
I smiled happily, the common routine of the day beginning with the chiming of the bell announcing the first customer. While I refilled coffee cups and took orders, my mind drifted to this evening. After I got off work at two, I had to get to class by three. But, I had finished the essay I had due for class on Wednesday early so tonight I would be free after classes ended at six. Tonight I'd be able to relax, maybe visit Mum and Dad for dinner, and have a girl's night at the flat. Add onto everything the fact that I had Wednesdays off, I couldn't wait!
The day flew by and before I knew it, I was rushing home to change for classes. I was greeted by Luna, who had decided to bring work home today instead of staying in the office. Being a top member of the Magical Creatures Department at the ministry had its perks. "Hey, Ginny. How was work?" she said as I collapsed on the sofa next to her.
"Long," I replied as I let myself sink into the cushions. "Cady did nothing but complain all day. Tawny was too distracted to shut her up since she's worried sick about her cat that made and emergency visit to the vet today. Jack was a joy as always but his accent is so hard to understand sometimes that it bugs me. But, understandable or not, it's still a hot accent. I could listen to him talk all day."
"Why don't you ask him out?" she questioned, looking up from her paperwork. I caught a glance and saw the word nargel and had to suppress a laugh. Ever since she got the job in the Magical Creatures department two years ago she'd been working relentlessly on trying to get the ministry to accept that the nargel was real.
Shaking my head, I stood up. "Oh, I don't know. Ever since Harry and I broke I haven't really felt inclined to date," I said with a shrug.
"But it's been six months since that happened," she pointed out in her dreamy voice. "And you really like this Jack fellow don't you?" She had a way of getting right to the truth of the matter, making me feel uncomfortable sometimes such as now.
"I don't know," I mumbled, slipping my shoes off sending them to their spot in my closet with a flick of my wand. "I do kind of like him but, I don't think I'm ready to date yet. You know Harry and I were together for four years. It's not something you get over so fast. Sure, it was mutual but it still leaves marks."
Accepting my answer without complaint, she turned back to her paperwork. Seizing the opportunity to get away from her scrutiny, I headed back to my room. "Everyone still on for our girl's night?" I asked as I headed back to the living room after changing clothes.
"Yeah," Luna replied, shoving her files away with a flick of her wand, sending them to the coffee table in a neat pile. "Hermione said she'll be here around seven thirty, giving us enough time to eat after you get out of class. Padma and Lavender should be here about that time too, though they gave me no definitive time. If they come a bit early, they know where the junk food and soda is."
I laughed a bit before sitting back down on the sofa next to my best friend. "You know, I cannot wait for these classes to be over. I just wish I could get to St. Mungos now. I want nothing more than to become a healer."
"Just a couple more months," she pointed out with a smile.
"Yeah, about two months to the day from now," I realized with a grin of my own. As much as I loved the little café I'd been working at for the past two and a half years, I couldn't wait to put in my two weeks' notice and trade in my apron for the healer uniform. Looking up at the clock, I realized the time. "Ah, man, I got to go. I'll see you about six and we can figure something out for dinner." Grabbing my bag from beside the sofa, I gave Luna a quick hug before apparating off to class.
Three hours later, I was free. Thankfully, none of the professors seemed in bad moods today and so I had very little homework, nothing that couldn't be done tomorrow morning. Forgoing going to Mum and Dad's for dinner, Luna and I opted for simple takeout and soon our coffee table was laden down with boxes of Chinese food. "Who knew muggles could make such amazing food?" I said as I filled my mouth with noodles, followed closely by a bite of eggroll.
"I know!" Luna agreed, taking the noodle box from my hand. I laughed and picked up the sesame chicken instead. We'd only discovered the small Chinese restaurant a few months ago and very rarely could spare enough money to afford the overpriced food. But when we could, it was worth every bit. "Too bad it's so pricey. I could live off this food."
I agreed with a laugh as we ate through our food. Before long, empty containers littered the coffee table as the two of us reclined on the sofa, too full to move. Such was the state Lavender found us in when she flooed over at seven fifteen. "You too stuff yourselves on that Chinese food again?" she questioned with a laugh when she saw us.
"Yeah," I said, Luna and I joining her laugher as the three of us began to clean up.
The arrival of Padma was announced by the bright green flame flaring up in the fireplace as Luna and I started setting the sweets out on the table. No girl night was complete without pumpkin pastes, chocolate frogs, Bertie Bots beans, and the other assortment of chocolates and sugary candies.
"Hey Lavender," the three of us chimed, giggles already beginning to bubble up as the excitement mounted. It wasn't often the five of us were able to get together like this.
"Hey," she replied, making a beeline for the chocolate frogs. "Where's Mione?"
"She'll be here soon," I said, glancing at the clock. Sure enough, at seven twenty-five, the loud pop of her apparating sounded through the living room.
"Hermione!" We all chorused as our bushy haired friend made her appearance.
"And let the fun begin!" cried Padma, plopping down on the sofa before the seats were taken.
As everyone got settled in for a night of sugar highs, gossip galore, catching up and all around craziness, the evening post arrived promptly at seven thirty. The sound of the owl pecking on the windows was unheard in the din of our laugher, but I noticed the poor thing sitting on the windowsill. Excusing myself from the conversation for a moment, I went and let it in. The tawny owl carried in not only the typical evening Daily Prophet, but also two official looking letters.
It dropped them on the mantel as I slipped a knut into the pouch on its leg. "Here you go," I said, stroking its head as I fed it an owl treat from the box in the side table beside the sofa. I flew off with a hoot as I picked up the letters, surprised to see the official looking ministry seal on the back. There was one for me and one for Luna.
Striding back over to the crowd of girls, I shushed them as I handed Luna her letter. "Something's up you guys," I said confused as I looked down at my envelope. "I wonder what it is. I bet you guys have them too."
"I don't know, why don't you open it," Hermione said, taking the paper from the table where I'd set it. She unrolled the it and took in the headline before Luna or I could open our letters. "Oh my God!" she exclaimed in a hoarse whisper. "I think I know what the letters are about."
The four of us crowded around her to see the paper too and were all stunned into silence at what met out eyes. In big bold letters on the front page were the words Ministry Marriage Act. "It says a marriage law is being put into effect," Padma said as she scanned down the page. "Hermione, turn to page three for the full thing."
Doing so wordlessly, we all waited with baited breath as Padma read over Hermione's shoulder for everyone to hear.
Ministry Marriage Act: October 15, 2001
Mandy Moore, Head of the Magical Marriage Committee
As everyone is aware of, the wizarding population was severely damaged by the war four years ago. More than half our number were killed or died of injuries during that time. While people have begun heal from this tragedy, our population hasn't. So few babies have been born in the past few years that the Ministry of Magic is stepping in to save our race. Effective as of today the ministry is mandating marriage of all eligible witches and wizards to a match selected by a special team of ministry officials who have expertly calculated compatibility.
Each witch and wizard of legal age, who are able to bare children and are not married are being matched with the person of highest compatibility. The couples must be married within six months and must produce two children within the first five years, though wishes are for more to come after that. Couples already married who have only one or no children are required to bring the number up to two or more if physically able.
Each eligible witch and wizard will be sent an official letter from the ministry with more information and the name of their most compatible match. If any questions arise that are not answered in the letter, you may send an owl to the newly instated Magical Marriage Committee in the Ministry of Magic. Also please note, failure to comply with this new law will result in severe punishment.
Silence followed as the five of us stared in open-mouth disbelief at the words on the page. The shock of such an announcement gripped us all. I glanced down at the envelope that only moments before had seem so innocent; the envelope that evidently held my future. "This can't be legal!" I cried, finally finding my voice as I collapsed on the sofa, my head spinning.
Hermione, Lavender, Padma and Luna all seemed to snap out of it at the same time, each returning to their seats around the coffee table. Hermione rolled the newspaper back up and sat it down on the table, making it look as she'd never touched it. Part of me wished she hadn't. "I don't know," she said, her voice faltering and unsure, a rare thing indeed. "I'll have to do some research and see what I can come up with. Surely though they wouldn't have been able to pass it if it was illegal. I'm afraid it's as binding as it says."
"Hermione Granger admitting defeat?" Lavender questioned, shocked. "Surely we can find something in the stacks that'll be helpful. If nothing else, maybe there's a loophole. If there is one, I'm sure you can find it, Mione. You work in the ministry after all. You'd have access to their entire legal library! Plus, you can get a look at the official copy of the law document and see what you can find. And all of us can help you if you want, though I know you rather like being alone with your books."
Everyone stared in shocked disbelief at our friend who, until this moment, had never sounded so smart. Padma nodded her head in agreement. "Surely there is some way out of this. How can them giving everyone they can an arranged marriage be legal?" she pointed out, grasping at straws, trying to make sense of this turn of events.
The only one who had stayed quiet was Luna, who was looking down at her unopened letter. "What do you think Luna?" I questioned softly, never really able to tell what she was thinking.
Glancing at all of us before looking back down at her letter, she shrugged. "Why fight it? They say our matches are based on compatibility right? Maybe we'll be matched with our soul mates. This could be a good thing." Her voice was airy as usual, her eyes possessing a faraway look as she fiddled with her letter.
The rest of us gaped at her, not sure we heard her right. "You're okay with this?" I asked, shocked disbelief coloring my voice.
"Why not? It's not like they're doing this to hurt us or punish us," she pointed out, breaking the seal on her envelope. Everyone waited with baited breath as she scanned her letter, nodding occasionally. Finally, she lowered it to her lap and let out a sigh.
"Well," Lavender questioned after a moment of silence. "What did it say? Who's your match?"
Clearing her throat, Luna began to read her letter aloud.
Official Ministry Marriage Act Results
To Miss Luna Lovegood,
Under the new marriage act you have been deemed an eligible witch and have had your name submitted to the Magical Marriage Committee for matching. We are pleased to inform you that you have had an 83% match with one Mr. Blaise Zabini.
Under the new law, you are required to be married within the next six months, no later than April 15, 2002. After the marriage, you and your match will have five years to comply with the law and have two children. Once you have had your two children, you are not legally obliged to produce any more. Wishes are though, that you will. This law has been instated to bring the wizarding population back up and the more children are born, the better.
If for some reason you do not believe you will be able to produce children, please contact the Magical Marriage committee as soon as possible to be tested to see if this problem can be remedied. If you are unable to produce children, then you will be released from your magical contract and your match will be put with his/her next most compatible match.
This does not mean you can send an owl saying you are unable to produce children and get out of the law, as is a concern will happen. Tests will be done to make positive the ability and in most cases, infertility is reversible. Please remember that noncompliance is a sever crime and is punishable by an extended stay in Azkaban. If after the stay in Azkaban, you do not comply with the law, you will be sent back. This is only done to uphold the law.
The ministry sends their best wishes to you and your betrothed. Please remember that you must be married by April 15 of next year and you must produce or be pregnant with two children by April 15, 2007.
Head of the Magical Marriage Committee
For yet another time that night, everyone was shocked into silence. Finally, I managed to squeak out, "Zabini? Blaise Zabini? Are these people mental? How can you have an 83% match with him?" I let myself fall back against the sofa, shock flowing through my body. The other girls murmured their agreement to my questions.
"I don't know," Luna answered dreamily. "He's not so bad, I'm sure. He never did become a Death Eater you know." She paused for a moment before giggling. "And he is the poster boy for tall, dark and handsome!"
Everyone joined her laugher, the mood suddenly much lighter. "I'm going to floo back to my flat and see if I've gotten my letter yet," Lavender said, jumping to her feet.
"Yeah, me too!" Padma cried, she too bounding to her feet. "I do hope I have a good match!"
"Maybe I'll get a good guy," Lavender said with a dreamy sigh. "What if I get Seamus? Oh, I do hope I get Seamus! I've been in love with him for years, you know," she rambled on. "He's just too blind to see it. If we get matched, this will be the perfect way to get him to ask me out!"
I rolled my eyes at her exuberance, eyeing my own letter distrustfully. What if I got matched with Harry? Everyone thought we were so perfect together but really it just wasn't working. What if the ministry decided we would work? Well, I could do worse than Harry. I wondered silently who I was matched with but I was too scared to open my letter and find out. What if I was matched with some like Crabb? I shuttered at the thought before dismissing it. Surely I wouldn't be compatible with any Slytherin, let alone him.
"Don't get your hopes too high," Hermione pointed out to Lavender. "You might not get matched with him. Look at Luna: she got matched with someone completely unexpected."
Lavender's face fell at the thought of being with someone other than Seamus. "Well, we'll find out won't we?" she said before heading to the fireplace, followed closely by Padma.
"Don't open your letters' till you get back here," I said before Padma threw her floo powder in the fire. "You may need our support when you find out. Plus, I want to see your reactions."
Both nodded before flooing back to their flats to retrieve their life-changing letters. "Aren't you going to get yours?" I asked Hermione after they left.
She let out a resigned sigh. "I might as well. It'll probably be Ron anyway," she said, getting to her feet. She and my brother had been dating for five years now. To be honest, I was surprised they weren't engaged yet. They did fight occasionally, well a lot really, but they still were really good together. I honestly didn't think anyone else could handle Ron.
With that, she turned on the spot to apparate to the flat she shared with Hannah Abbot. They two of them had become fast friends after school was over when they both ended up working at the same place. Less than a year later they decided to move to a flat together so they could affordably get out of their parents houses. Hannah was nice girl, but she's never really become too good of friends with the rest of us, usually keeping to herself. Sometimes I felt bad for leaving her out of girls night but after the one time she'd come, she's opted not to come back. She had to work a late shift tonight anyway, covering for Hermione so she could spend the night with us.
Sighing, I turned my thoughts to the letter in my hands. "You scared?" Luna asked softly, her voice filled with sympathy.
"Just a lot," I replied with a shaky laugh, fingering the letter in my hands. "What if I get matched with Harry? Everyone always thought we were so perfect together." I groaned and let my head fall back, hitting the back of the sofa with a thud.
"Well, if you don't think it would work with you too, then your compatibility might be lower. Surely they take things like that into account," Luna assured me. I could only hope she was right.
"Yeah," I agreed halfheartedly. How had this day become so messed up? It has started out as any normal Tuesday. I went to work, took my lunch break, went back to work, came home and changed, went to classes, ate dinner, had everyone over for a girls night and then the Ministry of bloody Magic decides to go and screw with the lives of almost the entire wizarding population with one sudden law. Why did they have to shove their noses into the people's love lives?
"If it's any consolation, at least you know you'll be compatible with your match. You'll be okay with him. It's not like they'd match you with someone you'd want to kill," Luna pointed out, trying to make me feel better. "Why don't you just open it when everyone gets back and get it over with?"
"I might," I mumbled, not so sure about find out my fate just yet. At least before I looked at the letter, I was able to at least hope for a good outcome.
My depressing thought were cut off by Hermione apparating back into the living room, a letter clutched in her hands. She took her seat wordlessly, staring at the envelope. Soon after, Padma and then Lavender returned, they too supporting unopened letters. Once everyone was again settled, silence fell around our little group.
Finally, Hermione voiced the question we all silently thought. "Who's going first?" she asked quietly but it sounded as loud as a scream in the dead silence.
"I will," Lavender said, breaking the seal on her letter slowly. "What if it isn't Seamus?" She looked around at us in despair, letter still in the now open envelope.
"There's only one way to find out," Luna point out in her airy voice, a smile on her face. I was amazed she could smile after finding out she was going to have to marry Blaise Zabini.
"Okay, I'm going to open it," Lavender said, pulling the letter out before she lost her courage. "Oh, I can't do it," she cried, thrusting the folded letter at Padma before burying her face in her hands. "Who is?"
Padma took the letter without question and unfolded it, scanning it quickly. A smile spread across her face when she looked up. "Seamus Finnegan," she announced with a delightful cry. "An 81% match!"
Lavender let out a scream of excitement before ripping her letter from Padma's hands. "Oh, thank God! I'm going to marry Seamus! Oh joy, oh joy! Maybe this marriage act isn't so bad after all!" She crowed with joy, holding her letter to her chest after reading through it twice.
"Well, one hopeful ending and one happy ending," Padma said, looking down at her letter. "Shall I go next? They haven't truly mucked up a matching yet. Maybe there's hope." Opening her letter she pulled it out, unfolding it with an unsure expression. After a quick glance, she sighed and closed her eyes.
"Who is it?" I asked, worried at her reaction.
She glanced up and I saw a tear forming in her eyes. "I'm so sorry, Hermione," she said, looking at her friend. "A 79% match with Ron." She dropped her letter to her lap and brought her knees to her chest, laying her face on them.
Hermione gasped in shock, her face going white. "How's that possible?" she asked in a small voice. "He and I've been together for ages." My heart went out to my friend as tears began making tracks down her face. "How can this be happening?"
"It's going to be okay, Mione," I said comfortingly. "Why don't you find out who your match is?"
Nodding wordlessly she opened her letter, her expression turning from distraught to surprise for a moment as she read. Before she said anything though, she crumpled up the paper and threw it across the room as she bounded to her feet. "I'm going to find a loophole. This cannot be legal to completely screw with people's lives! I will not let them run my life, demanding my marriage and telling me to have children. I won't stand for it!" she cried, livid with anger.
We all looked up at her in shocked silence at her outburst. Tentatively, I asked, "Who's your match, Hermione?"
"Charlie Weasley with a whopping 88% compatibility!" she cried, tears running down her cheeks again.
"Oh," I exclaimed in surprise. That was one match I'd never even thought of. Charlie had always seemed so happy with his perpetual bachelorhood. He liked having so much time to spend with the dragons. I'd never really imagined him with anyone, let alone Hermione. "Well, at least you'll be my sister," I said jokingly, trying desperately to lighten the mood.
It didn't really work. Hermione simply slumped angrily in her chair. Trying to turn the conversation onto a less painful topic of discussion, Lavender spoke up. "Well, Ginny," she said, grabbing a chocolate frog from the table. "You're the only one left. Why don't we find out who your match is?"
Well, it looked like there was no getting out of it. I was going to have to face my future sooner or later and it looked like it was going to be sooner. "It can't get any worse than being single, I guess," I mumbled, breaking the seal on my letter. Gently lifting the folded paper out, I prepared myself for whatever lay on the other side. Unfolding my letter, I realized I spoke too soon.
As I stared down at the name written so neatly on the page, so clear that there was no mistaking, I wanted to cry. My throat closed up and I began to have hard time breathing. No words could form in my mouth as I took in my future. Finally, Luna spoke up. "You can't run away from this, Ginny. Who is it?" she questioned calmly.
In answer, I read the line that changed my life:
We are pleased to inform you that you have had a 94% match with one Mr. Draco Malfoy.
My life was over.
Well, how'd you like it? Was it okay? Did I kill it or do good? I need your feedback to let me know if this story is worth continuing. If you want to see more, then drop a review by and tell me what you think!
More will come soon if people want it. I've already started on the next chapter. Drop a review and keep your eyes peeled for the next chapter!
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