Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything affiliated with it. It all belongs to J.K. Rowling.
A/N: I recently decided to edit this because parts of it made me cringe with the amount of run-on sentences. I've also split it into twelve chapters instead of six so that its more manageable to read. I must admit, I missed these characters! It was good to return to them for a little bit. So, without further ado, here is Forbidden Choice 2.0
Ginny Weasley twirled around expectantly in front of her dorm mirror, nervously pulling at her cloak. She frowned as she fixed her hair, peering at the red strands with distaste. A thud came from across the room as Hermione Granger set down her Charms textbook.
"Really Ginny!" her friend reprimanded. "You've been at that for ages. You look fine."
The red-head scowled at her reflection, poking experimentally at a freckle. "Are you sure?" she checked, eyeing her wand. "I could always do it up in a knot or something..."
"I just don't understand," Hermione said tiredly. "what the big deal is."
Ginny looked incredulously at her. For how clever Hermione was, she could sometimes be a bit daft. "The big announcement is tonight, Hermione." Ginny reminded her slowly. "We've only been waiting a month for this, now."
The bushy haired girl stuck out her tongue. "Yes, I know what it is, but I have no idea why you're so concerned about your appearance."
Ginny crossed the room to come sit beside her friend. "H, listen." she insisted. "Knowing Dumbledore, this announcement will have something to do with a ball, correct?"
Hermione frowned. "Yes, but-"
"And what do you need for a ball?" Ginny prompted, cutting her off. Hermione smiled wryly.
"Er, robes?" she guessed. Ginny put a hand to her head. Hermione's brain was hardwired for reasoning.
"Boys!" she exclaimed. "A ball has to do with dates, and dates have to do with boys and- bloody hell. I completely forgot to do a shine charm." Leaping off the bed, Ginny began to sift quickly through her friends discarded Charms textbook.
"Oh!" Hermione nodded as Ginny's words sank in. "I see. It probably won't matter though, I'll just end up going with-"
"Ron!" Ginny finished for her, watching as Hermione blushed furiously. "And I'm ecstatic for the both of you, but I need someone to ask me." she stressed, pulling her wand hastily from her pocket. "Tonight if it's anytime soon."
Ginny stopped to admire the effect the charm had on her hair. It was a particularly tricky but effective one, and Ginny prided herself on Charms. Ginny glanced over as Hermione checked the time. Her expression changed to one of alarm.
"Er, Gin, we need to go. Right now." Hermione informed her. Ginny raised an eyebrow.
"How much longer until it starts?" she asked. Her friend looked sheepish.
"Five minutes ago?" she offered.
Ginny cursed, finishing the charm with a flick of her wand and grabbing her shoes from beneath her bed. For once she was thankful that her other room mates, Lavender and Parvati, were notorious tidiers.
Pushing open the portrait hall, the two girls made their ways down to the Great Hall where masses of students sat enjoying their dinner. Thick potato soup and heavy bread lined the table, accompanied by roasted turkey and the occasional jug of pumpkin juice. Ginny waved energetically towards her brother.
"There they are." She pointed out, motioning for Hermione to follow. The girls took their seats across from Harry and Ron who were already in a heated discussion about quidditch. Hermione shook her head in disbelief.
"The Chudley Cannons are a shoo in!" Ron argued, his mouth full of bread. "There's no way they can lose with their keeper. He's unbeatable."
Harry reclined confidently in his seat. "The Hollyhead Harpies have it." he promised. "The Cannons might have a stellar keeper, but by the time the Harpies' seeker catches it, it'll be all over."
Ginny pushed her long red hair behind her. "I personally have 5 galleons on a win to the Irish." she announced to no one in particular, stifling a laugh at both boys expressions of outrage. Hermione smothered a giggle.
"Evening, children." two voices said in unison. Fred and George plopped themselves into nearby seats, Fred wiggling his eyebrows comically. "What's on tonight's discussion plate?"
Ron's response was quickly cut off by a grunt of pain. Looking at Hermione, Ginny saw that her friend had kicked him under the table. She couldn't help but feel a rush of pride.
"We were just talking about the big announcement, actually." Hermione said, obviously relieved to be avoiding further discussion of quidditch. "Any ideas on what it'll be?"
George shrugged, crossing his arms behind his head carelessly. "Not too sure, of course, but they're have been many a rumor flying around about a certain Triwizard Cup returning to residency at Hogwarts." he said conspiratorially. "Nothing's been proven, though."
Ginny saw Harry stiffen out of the corner of her eye. "You think there'll be another tournament?" the boy asked.
Even without his expression, Ginny could have easily guessed what he was thinking about. The last championship before the war; before the death eaters had been rounded up and before Voldemort became not much more then a memory. Fred looked thoughtful.
"No, I wouldn't say another tournament. Of course," he said, shooting a meaningful look at George. "that isn't all that the Triwizard cup can be used for."
George grinned impishly. "Oh no, don't rule out the use of the cup yet."
"You might just find-"
"-that the cup may be-"
"-put to use after all!" Fred finished, winking as he and George left with smug expressions on their faces. Hermione looked thoughtfully after them.
"Do you suppose they could be telling the truth?" She asked, absently spooning potatoes onto her plate. Ron snorted.
"I think it's better to ignore them. The owl scat they put in Snape's office last week affected their brains." he said wisely.
Harry looked impressed. "That was them?"
Ron nodded gravely. "I've never seen Snape so hacked off before. Well there was that one time-" He began, but was shortly cut off by Hermione, who put a finger to her lips. Dumbledore had stood and the hall instantly quieted, heads swiveling towards him from all directions. Ginny felt a shiver go down her back. The Headmaster wasn't smiling.
"Students." Dumbledore greeted them with a wave of his hand. "Professors, friends, and colleagues. As you all know, I have an announcement to make tonight." A couple nervous giggles ran through the crowd. That certainly wasn't new news.
Dumbledore continued in a solemn tone. "It won't come as a shock to most of you that since the war, house unity has become, for lack of better words, unheard of at best." he announced.
Shock rippled through the crowd. People rarely mentioned the war in present times. But Dumbledore merely went on with his speech, his expression relaying that he had said nothing out of the ordinary.
"It seems that students have given up on making the effort to get along with other houses. Have given up on second-chances." He paused here to look at all of them. Ginny felt a squirm of discomfort go through her stomach. If he was implying she should start chatting up the Slytherin's, he may as well be talking to a nearby wall. Many of the other students seemed to be thinking along similar lines. Dumbledore continued.
"The Ministry wishes me to inform you of a new law coming into place to encourage this. The Inter-Unity Law." He said, sounding weary. Small whispers broke out through the hall, each student checking they weren't the only ones lost. Ginny felt her forehead crease in confusion. The other three had similar expressions. Dumbledore kept going, and the hall instantly fell silent.
"The law reads as follows." he said, producing a scroll from thin air. "All Witches and Wizards over the age of 14 attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are hereby subject to the Inter-Unity Law. The Inter-Unity Law states that in order to encourage unity and eventual reproduction between different houses, the Triwizard Goblet will pair various students with a high-level of compatibility together over the course of a week. These students will be bonded for life, and expected to complete various courses and other such things in hopes for an eventual marriage. Thank-you for your understanding and co-operation. Signed Cornelius Fudge, Minister of Magic."
Ginny felt her throat close in horror. There was no way she was co-operating with someone so bloody thick headed as Fudge. She chanced a glance at the other three, whose faces were also twisted into expressions of disbelief. Hermione looked ready to cry.
Dumbledore bowed his head. "Punishment for disobeying this law is Azkaban." he said heavily. "That would not be something most of you would want to experience."
The silence in the hall was deafening, every student at a lost for words. Ginny felt her own heart beating frantically, her mouth working to let words out.
Professor McGonagall stood, the scraping of her chair loud to Ginny's ears. She would have clapped a hand over them if she could only remember how to move. McGonagall lips were pinched in a thin line. "Your parents," she began in a wavering voice. "do not know. We thought it was best-" her voice cracked and she tried again, clearing her throat. "We thought it was best if you informed them yourselves." She sat down abruptly, leaving Dumbledore to address the crowd.
"Thank-you, professor." He said gravely, turning back to face the students. "If you would all be so kind as to miss dessert tonight, I think it would be best if everyone could retire to bed for the evening. Lessons will precede as usual tomorrow and I imagine you are all in need of a good night's sleep." Ginny gaped in amazement as he sat down, looking in need of a good sleep himself.
"Do not imagine to try to trick the cup this time around." a greasy voice cautioned. Ginny turned to look at Snape, the only one appearing unruffled by the announcement. "I have brewed a complex potion that none of your incompetent minds may begin to fathom. Beards will not be your only problem this time." He sat back with a hard glare at the Weasleys. Dumbledore seemed to take this as his cue and stood again.
"Please drop your names in the cup outside the hall when you exit." he instructed. "The matching begins tomorrow." Ginny felt her jaw drop as with a crack, the Headmaster apparated out of the hall. Five hundred students gaped frozen in minute horror at the spot where Dumbledore had disappeared.
"Those. Bloody. Ministry. Cretins!" Blaise Zabini spat, slowly bending a fork at the Slytherin table until it snapped. Malfoy dully pushed another fork towards him.
The noise started low, and then grew until everyone was shouting. Most involved a couple choice words involving where exactly the Ministry could stick their Inter-Unity Law. Ginny caught sight of Luna comforting a crying first year and started to make her way towards her, when a red-faced Ron stopped her.
"Who's going to write to Mum?" he shouted hysterically, working to be heard over the noise. "I can't! Gin, you're the favorite. You're going to have to! All those expensive weddings and four in one go, I can't imagine…"
The room started to spin as Ron kept talking, occasionally shaking her shoulders for emphasis. Ginny felt sick, growing uncomfortably hot. She could hear her own breath as if from a distance, uneven and labored. She was vaguely aware of Harry jostling his way through the crowd, stopping Ron half-way through his tirade and gesturing to her angrily. She distantly recognized Ron's paling face, and he looked a little unsure. He seemed to be saying something, but it was like he'd gone on mute.
She watched as if disjointed from her body as Harry slapped her a little on the cheeks. Watched herself crumble into his arms amidst the crowd of screaming, panicked students.
Ginny woke to a splitting headache. Grimacing, she fumbled on her bedside for her usual glass of water and stifled a yelp as her fist connected with something wooden instead. Cradling her hand, she tried again with the other but met only air. She withdrew with a frown, trying to remember why she hadn't gotten water last night.
It came flooding back with horrible clarity. Yelping for real this time, Ginny managed to crack her head on the roof of her bed. She rubbed it gingerly with her sore hand. Closing her eyes, she played last evening over in her mind again. There had been the announcement, the initial panic, Ron shaking her… someone must have carried her back. Hermione and Lavender, probably.
A scream split the air, so loud and distinct Ginny almost hit her head again. She sighed as she realized it was Parvati. Her dorm mate had a tendency to go nutters over small things, such as misplacing her favorite headband.
"Oi!" Ginny protested, dragging open her curtains. "Do you mind, Parvati? I don't get up until after eight."
She felt her eyes widen as she saw Parvati lying in the middle of the room, looking as if she was being dragged by an invisible force towards the door. Her hands were bloody from grabbing various objects that were now scattered throughout their room.
Ginny quickly leapt up. She grabbed hold of a nearby bed sheet, thanking Merlin her brother Charlie had taught her how to tie decent sailor knots. Snagging one of her Parvati's ankles, she deftly bound her to the nearest bed, praying the invisible force wouldn't be strong enough to move the entire thing.
Ginny waited somewhat patiently for her friend to catch her breath as she slumped down beside her. She scanned the knots again with a satisfied eye before turning to her friend.
"What was that, P?" she asked softly, watching the other girl's expression. Parvati picked unhappily at the bed sheets.
"I have no idea." She said dully, staring aimlessly at her own overturned trunk. The tremble in her voice gave her away.
"Try looking at me and saying that." Ginny suggested, looping her hair back into a hasty ponytail. Parvati's face crumpled.
"I just can't admit it." she said. "Not even to myself." The girl rubbed at the back of her neck anxiously. A horrible idea began to dawn on Ginny.
"Go for it." She said cautiously.
"If I was to guess," Parvati said, raising her chin to look Ginny directly in the eye. "I would say the Inter-Unity Law has found me first."
Ginny frowned. Her friend's tone was neither bitter or upset. It was a dull acceptance. She didn't like it.
"You can't seriously be fine with that." she said in disbelief. Relief coursed through her as her friend's eyes sparked.
"No, I'm not Gin." Parvati said, sitting up straighter. "But I don't see what I can do about it. This is it for us now. This is the boy I'm going to spend the rest of my life with. I just thought that when I was saying those words we would have gone out for a while at least."
Ginny leant back against the bed. "Ah, you can't win it all." she said helpfully. "Think of it as birthday present. This way it's a surprise."
Parvati's lips twitched into a smile "Merlin. I've never had a serious boyfriend before and now I'm getting married. Think of what my mum'll say."
Ginny giggled, picturing Parvati trying to choose a wedding dress with her mum. It would take hours. Even longer with Lavender there. The red-head started to laugh with sudden hysteria as she pictured Lavender trying to choose a wedding dress. Parvati looked at her in alarm.
"Keep it down Gin!" she commanded. "Good Merlin, did someone slip you a cheering charm or something?" Ginny shook her head, tears coming down her face now as she struggled to get words out through her laughter.
"No!" she gasped. "I… was just… picturing… Lavender trying to buy a wedding dress!" Parvati burst out laughing as this as well, both girls positively cackling.
"Oh no!" Parvati cried between chuckles. "Try to keep it down! We'll wake the others."
"Too late." Hermione yawned, sitting up in bed. She frowned as she caught sight of Parvati's knots.
"What in Merlin…" she started, eyes slightly narrowed. Ginny finally stopped laughing, watching as Hermione slapped a hand to her head in understanding. She looked at Parvati sympathetically. "Already?" she asked.
Parvati nodded. "Somebody has to be first." she shrugged. Ginny gave her friend a quick squeeze. Hermione eyed her thoughtfully.
"How long are you going to wait to find out?" she asked. Parvati frowned.
"Well, since we haven't had any boys fly into our bedroom yet, I'm assuming my match is also tied up. That should give me as much time as I need." she mused. "Then again, I would really like to get to lessons today." Ginny scrunched her eyebrows.
"We'll support you either way of course, P." she informed her. Hermione nodded in agreement. Parvati sighed in relief.
"Thank-you." she said, closing her eyes briefly. "I'm just so torn. What would you do?" she asked, addressing both of them. Ginny felt thrown by the question.
"I suppose I would want to get it over with." Hermione said thoughtfully, and Ginny knew she meant it. Hermione didn't take advice lightly.
"I agree. I wouldn't want to miss breakfast either." Ginny said, standing to rifle through her clothes. "It's waffles today."
Parvati looked wistful. "Oh, I do love waffles."
Ginny pulled clean jeans and robes from her drawer. "I guess it's settled, then." She announced, tossing Parvati's wand to her. Her friend caught it easily and twirled it for emphasis. Seeing Ginny's raised eyebrows, Parvati shrugged.
"Lavender taught me." She said, by way of explanation. "And while I'm thinking about it, shouldn't someone be waking her?" Hermione assumed a guilty expression.
"Oh I forgot!" she exclaimed. "Here I'll do it." She crossed hastily to Lavender's bed, shaking her briefly on the shoulder. "L, it's morning."
Lavender groaned, swatting at Hermione. "Five more minutes!" the girl announced.
"L?" Parvati asked tentatively. "I've been matched." Two seconds passed before the information seemed to register in Lavender's brain. The girl sat bolt upright, luckily naturally short so she avoided smacking her head on the roof of her bed like Ginny.
"Who?" Lavender demanded, jumping out of bed to put her hands on her hips. Parvati gestured to the ropes.
"I'm not exactly sure yet." she said pointedly. Lavender sat back hard on her bed.
"I can't believe it." she said to no one in particular. "That this is actually happening." Ginny looked at her sympathetically as she brushed out her hair, charming it up into a knot.
"You'll believe it better with waffles." She promised, tossing Lavender's robes and wand at her. She watched in disbelief as she caught it the same way Parvati had.
"We'll all go." Hermione decided. "Even Parvati." Parvati gulped, shifting in her bonds.
"Will you come with me?" she asked hesitantly. "When I get out of these things? I don't think I can do this alone." Hermione nodded, holding up her pinkie.
"Witches' promise." She said. Ginny mirrored her movements with one hand as she tied her shoe with the other.
Lavender grinned. "Any guesses to who it may be, P?" she asked slyly.
Hermione straightened her robes. "My bet's on Justin Finch-Fletchley." she said seriously.
Ginny pulled a face. "No way! He's got a horribly large nose. Not that it matters really," she added. "as long as you don't get a Slytherin. Can you imagine getting Malfoy or Zabini?" She asked Parvati, shuddering at the thought. Hermione and Parvati had identical horrified expressions.
Lavender, however, looked thoughtful. "I don't know… Malfoy is actually really quite fanciable." She admitted, giggling as the other three stared at her. "Relax! That doesn't mean I want to suddenly marry him. Besides, we never asked Parvati if there was anyone she wanted to marry."
Hermione looked curious. 'There isn't, is there Parvati?" she echoed.
Parvati looked suddenly uncomfortable. "Not exactly, no." she said slowly.
Ginny crowed in surprise, whipping around to look at her friend. "Exactly?" she demanded. "That doesn't sound like a denial at all. Parvati fancies someone!" She singsonged.
Parvati colored further. "It's stupid really. He doesn't even like me." she muttered.
Lavender looked at her disapprovingly. "You don't know that!" she chided. "You should have told me earlier. I could have set you up."
Everyone knew that Lavender was the gossip witch of Hogwarts. If you wanted someone, you went to her to have them. Luckily, Ginny had never had the need to ask her room mate for boy advice, and she certainly hoped it stayed that way.
Parvati smiled. "But then where would the fun have been?" she asked. Lavender looked like she was about to reply when Hermione cut in.
"It hardly matters now. Besides, it's almost breakfast and I think," she paused, taking a breath. "that it's time to cut Parvati loose."
Parvati looked appropriately alarmed. "No!" she cried. "I've changed my mind. I'm staying here." Hermione shook her head.
"You are not and you know it. Now are you undoing the bonds or am I doing it?" she asked. Parvati looked like she was going to argue for a second before sighing in admission.
"I'll do it." She decided, raising a shaking hand. "Diffendo!"
There was a sound as the bed sheets ripped in two. Ginny tried not to wince. The house elves would not be happy. Parvati was thrust forwards into the air, hitting the door painfully. It was knocked open with a bang, Parvati continuing to fly through the common room.
Ginny leapt after her, taking the stairs two at a time. She realized immediately that she wasn't going to be able to keep up. Though she was probably the fastest girl at Hogwarts, she would need a broom to keep pace with her friend. Parvati seemed to realize this at the same time and gave her a brave smile before zooming through the portrait hall. Ginny paused to catch her breath. Hermione and Lavender caught up about fifteen seconds later, looking just as exhausted.
"What - happened?" Lavender demanded in-between pants. Ginny wiped her brow, frowning in the direction that Parvati had vanished. Towards the Slytherin and Ravenclaw common rooms.
"She was too fast." Ginny explained. "We're just going to have to meet her at breakfast later."
The other girls nodded, falling into step as they walked to the Great Hall. There was no sign of Parvati on their way down, but many students sported things that looked like floating arrows above their heads, each pointing at another nearby student with a matching one. Ginny saw one couple shouting in a language that only they seemed to be able to recognize, restrained from cursing each other by a couple nearby students.
Ginny was relieved to see a few couples of the same house, so the possibility wasn't ruled out no matter what the law stated. She caught sight of Luna at the Ravenclaw table and made her way over, motioning for Lavender and Hermione to go on ahead. She gave the blonde's ponytail a quick affectionate tug, sliding in beside her before launching her wake up that morning. When she was finished, Luna looked thoughtful.
"I did think I saw Parvati in our common room this morning. I can't be sure, of course," she added, looking slightly alarmed by Ginny's excited expression. "but I think it was someone from her year." Ginny squealed, clapping her hands in delight.
"I can't believe it! I'm so excited for her." she announced. She took a moment to thank Merlin that Parvati had not gotten matched to a Slytherin. One out of four were safe so far. She focused back to her Luna. "What about you, Lu? I'm guessing you haven't been matched yet, since you're not sporting one of those arrows." she circled the air above her head. "But any idea who it might be?"
Luna frowned. "No ideas yet. But I also don't think you need to have an arrow to be matched. You said Parvati didn't have one, right?" she checked.
Ginny was momentarily taken aback. "No, I guess not." she admitted, rising out of her seat. "Keep me posted, alright? I've got to go." She squeezed her friend one last time on the shoulder before returning to the Gryffindor table. She sat in the seat across from Neville, who was picking at his waffles moodily. Ginny noticed the neon red arrow with dawning dread.
"Neville?" She asked cautiously. "Are you alright?"
The boy looked at her through red, tired eyes "No." He said, sounding like he had a bad head cold. "No, I'm not."
Ginny bit her lip, worried. She had never seen Neville this lifeless before. She paused, scanning the hall for red arrows. There were too many to tell who Neville's match might be.
"Merlin, Neville." she said, concerned. "She must be just dreadful. Who is it?" It came out more demanding then she had intended. Neville shook his head wordlessly, gesturing to an equally distraught Pansy Parkinson at the Slytherin table..
\Ginny felt her stomach drop with horror. "Oh, no. I'm so sorry." She said sincerely, watching as Pansy turned to glare at them. Neville sat a little straighter.
"It's fine really," he said, glancing in Pansy's direction. "I just never thought it would be her." Ginny patted his hand sympathetically.
"At least you know now." She said, desperately trying for comfort. Neville seemed to appreciate her gesture all the same.
"Do you know yet?" he asked. Ginny shook her head, scanning the hall as if a huge sign with her name on it would appear.
"I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing." She admitted, starting to pile eggs and waffles onto her own plate in hopes of encouraging Neville to eat. "Parvati seemed alright with it in the end."
Neville looked at her curiously. "Who did she get?" he asked.
Ginny shook her head. "No idea. I think everyone finds out differently who they're matched with. Parvati seemed to have this magnetic pull and flew off before I could catch her." she said, smiling as she bit into her waffle. Neville gestured to the arrow above his head.
"I seem to have a more common one." he pointed out. Ginny mimicked a siren above her head. Neville stuck his tongue out at her.
"Ginny!" Lavender called, running towards her as fast as she could in her heels. "Look who's just arrived!"
Ginny whipped around, kinking her neck in the process. She followed Lavender's gaze to the double doors. Entering into the hall was Parvati, holding hands with Michael Corner. Her face was aglow. Ginny had no doubts about who Parvati fancied.
"That's fantastic!" She chirped, standing up to wave at the couple over the crowd. Parvati waved back, grinning. Michael smiled in their direction. Ginny watched as he kissing Parvati on the cheek before heading to the Ravenclaw table. Parvati appeared to have whispered something in his ear before turning in the direction of her own table. Ginny and Lavender fell on her as soon as she was in hearing range.
"Michael Corner?" Lavender squealed, looking ready to explode. "You're matched with Michael Corner?" Parvati beamed.
"It's not too odd, is it?" She asked, concerned. Ginny flipped her long hair behind her.
"It's wonderful, P. I'm glad something good has come out of this mess." she said sincerely. "And judging by Lavender's reaction, she feels the same way."
Lavender, who had been nodding enthusiastically the entire time, had the good grace to look embarrassed. Parvati smiled.
"I'm just so happy." She said simply, taking a spot beside Neville. "I never dared to hope that it could work out like this." Ginny sat back down as well, reaching for her juice.
"I'm happy for you too, P." She said, looking at her friend seriously. "I'm glad you didn't end up with a Slytherin."
She froze as she realized her mistake, her eyes darting to Neville. The boy waved impatiently. "It's fine." he said. "I take no offense. Pansy Parkinson." Neville explained for Parvati's benefit, gesturing to the arrow. "I found out late last night." Parvati looked sympathetic.
"She might not be so bad." She said encouragingly. "She might have changed since the war." Ginny clamped her mouth shut, biting off a flippant retort that of course she hadn't changed. No Slytherins had. But for Neville's sake, she remained quiet. The boy looked hopeful.
"Do you think?" he asked. Parvati nodded firmly.
"I know." she promised.
A/N: Please review - I would love to hear what your favourite quote or character was. Let me know!