Chapter 1 : Much Ado About Marriage
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In the last week of school, the grounds were so pleasant and pretty. The sun was out and the trees rustled softly in the light breeze, which kept the temperature warm and comfortable.
Students enjoyed spending free hours scattered among the grounds talking, relaxing and just spending time with their friends before the summer recess that separated them. Not that that was an insurmountable obstacle; everyone was easily reachable by letter and owl or by the floo network. Students were excited though. The recess was most definitely cause for excitement, of course, for the break from classes and disgruntled, annoying teachers.
Summer holiday meant the students leaving Hogwarts to go home though. Despite all of the times students had wished they’d been somewhere else, or claimed to not be able to wait to finally leave school, they would find themselves to be less enthusiastic when the time actually came around. The thing was, everybody loved Hogwarts. Everyone had something to leave behind and return to at the school. Few people ever lamented their emotional attachment to the school.
What else could anyone expect? It was there they had transformed from kids to adults; where they had met the best friends they ever had. The school embodied something you couldn’t replace. That was why the students would miss it. Everything important that had happened in their lives, happened at that school. It was filled with all of the memories of growing up and that couldn’t be replaced.
Every seventh year student at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was feeling this exact way. Everywhere, everyone was excited as well as heartbroken about leaving Hogwarts for good. They were going to start a new chapter in their lives, whether or not they knew what it was going to be. It was exciting and scary.
A particular couple that walked along the edge of the lake did know one point of the next chapter of their lives that they were sure of: each other.
Ron Weasley had been dating Luna Lovegood for over a year now and had little doubt that he could be with her forever; absolutely and truly forever. He’d grown accustomed to her quirky and odd personality; it had even become kind of cute. Now he loved hearing all of the unusual and untimely remarks and ‘facts’ and learning about hypothetical creatures that Luna sincerely believed in. He even found it entertaining. When Ron would think back to his fifth year when he would call her a nutter, he would laugh at himself because of how ignorant and narrow-minded he had been and how differently he saw her back then.
Ron had not met anyone as sincerely different as Luna, at least not anyone who wasn’t completely deranged. He hadn’t been accustomed and was a little befuddled by her personality. He was actually embarrassed, now, about how he reacted to her back then. Luna was a quirky girl, but she had as much heart and feeling as the next person. And with Luna, who was unwaveringly patient, Ron had slowly come around and learned to be open to people. Somehow she had managed to calm his hot temper, which in turn seemed to have uncovered a more rational and thoughtful person from Ron.
Ron and Luna were taking a leisurely stroll along the edge of the Black Lake after classes on the last Friday of the school year. It was just two days before the day of the graduation reception on Sunday, meaning it was two days before Ron planned to ask Luna to make an engagement with him through her seventh year at Hogwarts.
This was most of what Ron had been thinking about for the last few weeks; he and Luna together. He may have been certain about Luna, and he was pretty sure she was confident about him because it was unlike her to be hesitant about anything, but she still had one more year of school to complete. Ron wanted to make sure she wasn’t bothered by other things such as marriage although she, in truth, was not easily lead astray from her goals and focuses.
“Luna, do you realize the reception is in two day? Two days? That means I won’t be a student of Hogwarts anymore.” Luna looked at Ron with not a puzzled, but thoughtful expression and answered.
“Yes, of course Ron. It is your seventh year here.”
Ron did know that, but it seemed that the idea was almost inconceivable. He was indeed going to be leaving.
“Then I will be gone while you complete your last year at Hogwarts.” Luna stopped walking, “Yes Ron. I am-” Ron had stopped walking too and looked out at the lake as he suddenly interrupted his love, almost in a panic, saying what he’d been thinking for days, “But what will happen? Would you wait for me?”
Luna looked straight at him and with no hesitation or doubt, but simply answered, “Yes, of course I would Ronald.”
Ron turned to her and stared at her. He watched her as she looked back at him.
He stood there deciding whether it was true because he’d imagined this scene over and over again and he needed to be sure of this was the real answer. Then Ron’s face slowly broke out into a smile, then a grin. He started laughing.
He knew Luna would stay with him and be his girlfriend and fiancé through the next year and then be his wife there after. She definitely never lied and absolutely never said anything she didn’t mean. That’s just who Luna was. It was real and Ron knew that what he was going to ask of her on Sunday was going to be right.
Luna smiled back at Ron, grabbing his hand, “Nothing short of either of our deaths, the capture of a Crumple-Horned Snorkack or an infestation of Nargles in your living quarters would keep me from you.” Ron started laughing again even though he knew she was completely serious.
He pulled Luna to him and kissed her and he knew everything was just as it should be, and that everything was going to be okay.
About an hour later, having finished their walk, Ron walked Luna back to the Ravenclaw common room so that she could start packing her belongings. This proved to be an easier task this year. As it turned out, the bizarre Luna Lovegood having real friends, and even more, a boyfriend, who really liked and cared for her, seemed to convince her housemates that she was vaguely normal. Such a conclusion resulted in a lot less hidden property at the end of the terms.
Ron kissed Luna goodbye and started to head back to the Griffindor tower. He was doing the silly adolescent-in-love thing of walking with his head down and smiling to himself thinking only about his girlfriend. He was in front of the portrait of the fat lady and was about to say the password when two extremely familiar voices simultaneously called his name.
“Oi!” “Ron!” Ron turned around to see his twin brothers, Fred and George, down the corridor walking up towards him. As they strode towards him, Ron’s smile dropped a bit. They wore none of the usual expressions of amusement or deviousness that he was used to seeing on the pair of them.
Ron waited as they made their way to him, thinking to himself:
That’s peculiar. Wonder what they’re doing around here.
The twins were caught up to the entrance and Ron gave a big hospitable smile and inquired after their store. Fred and George’s faces solemn faces broke into smug smirks of triumph.
“We’re very pleased to say that the store is running wonderfully and that the new Skiving Snackboxes are coming along resplendently.”
Professors McGonagall and Flitwick had worked endlessly to devise detection spells that identified the magic traces of the class-skipping products in the students. The Weasley twins responded by developing the next generation of Skiving Snackboxes to best the new detection spells.
The twins were so proud that they continued on with the stories of their tried and failed attempts at success with various ingredients and such. This went on for another fifteen minutes while Ron let them in to the Griffindor common room and relaxed and laughed along with them at stories of the effects the trials had had on willing subjects.
But as much as he loved his brothers and their stories, it occurred to him to ask what is was they were doing there.
“So what are you two doing here anyway?” Fred and George’s laughing stopped and smiles faded to a much less gleeful expression. Fred mumbled, “Oh right. That.” Ron became a little worried and confused. What could have possibly happened?
“Well,” George paused, “I’m trying to think about where to start.” Ron scrunched his eyebrows together. Honestly, what on earth was going on?
Fred sat in his seat almost squirming when he blurted, “Ginny has to get married.” Ron paused and thought about it and let out a small chuckle.
“Um, okay, but I thought that was most likely going to happen. Especially since she and Harry have been going out for Merlin knows how long. That and Ginny’s been in love with him since she was, like, ten.”
Fred gave out an exasperated sigh. “You think we would really be here telling you this if we thought Ginny was going to marry Harry on her own free will?”
Ron’s face dropped of any humor he’d been possessing.
“What do you mean ‘on her own free will’?” There was a pause where the twins looked at each other then Ron while he was staring at them trying to contemplate as to what could be going on. George looked from Fred to Ron and ended the suspension and said slowly, “Ginny is to be part of an arranged marriage.”
Ron’s face slid into a shocked expression and opened his mouth to say something, but no sounds were made. Then he shut his mouth, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His mind was racing with questions and thoughts, yet he could not seem to force them into comprehensible speech. He took another breath and opened his eyes and tried slowed his mind down and focus on a single thought and his biggest concern and curiosity. Looking at the unlit fireplace, Ron spoke so softly in a strained voice wasn’t really heard the first time, “Who is it? Who’s doing this?”
George furrowed his eyebrows, “Sorry? I didn’t catch that.” Ron’s eyes snapped up to his brothers and just a little too sharply repeated himself clearly, “I said, WHO?”
Fred was about to upbraid Ron for yelling at them, but stopped, suddenly not finding it to be a matter worth bothering with. At least not in comparison to what was coming next.
“Now Ron, you must remember that this is entirely out of our hands.”
Ron was now getting exasperated with his brothers for dragging out the story and said with irritation and volume, “Well? Who is it?” George blew out a long slow breath, and just as Ron was going to start yelling, simply said, “Malfoy. Lucius Malfoy.”
The twins carefully watched Ron, “The Malfoys are pushing for a marriage between Draco Malfoy and Ginny.”
Ron stopped. He just-stopped. He wasn’t moving, he wasn’t going to shout, he wasn’t thinking. It was taking to much work to understand what he’d just been told.
Malfoy. Draco Malfoy. Wants . . . wants to get married. And he wants to marry . . . my sister. He wants to marry . . . Ginny.
Ron couldn’t not comprehend the situation. This simply did not make sense.
Across the Griffindor common room, a girl had stopped suddenly as well. As she had just entered the common room and overheard George Weasley’s last words, which hit her like a punch to the stomach. Once she determined that she was all too sure of having heard the
names right, she went pale and ran back out of the entrance.
As much as she tried to put it together, like Ronald Weasley, she couldn’t figure out what the devil was happening.