|The winters night was silent; the only sounds audible were the rustle of the trees in the wind and the occasional hooting of an owl. It was the coldest winter in years; the temperatures had been below zero for weeks now and it had been snowing for the last two days. The cold confided many people to their homes. Heating charms could do so much and no one wanted to get caught in the freezing weather.
A young woman, about the age of eighteen, braved the weather and ploughed her way through the ankle high snow. She was running away, her only goal to reach the next village, a Muggle one where she'd be safe for the time being.
Leaving her home in the middle of the night had not been her plan. However, there hadn't been much time to think things through. All she knew was that she couldn't stay. It would condemn her to a future she didn't want, to a person she despised with her whole being.
Although she had kept quiet to her parents in fear that he would kill them if he were to find out that they had been aware of her plans, her mother's warmest cloak and boots had miraculously appeared by the door of the little cottage her family habited. As always, her mother had read her perfectly. She would be forever in her debt for this, for giving her a chance to escape the prison created for her. First, though, she needed to survive this night and make it to the village before dawn. There, she'd be safe from the raving lunatics at the Ministry and safe from him.
It had been two months now, eight weeks since her life and that of many others had become a nightmare. Fifty-six days since she had last laughed, thirteen hundred and forty-four hours since the utterly despicable bastards at the Ministry had passed the Marriage Law and matched her with the vilest and cruellest of them all.
It had been seven weeks since he put a ring on her finger and whispered in her ear that he couldn't wait for their wedding night. Six weeks since he had decided that he didn't want to wait and five since her body had healed enough for her to be released from the infirmary and Headmaster Dippet had looked the other way.
Four weeks since he had nearly killed her father when he wanted to file a complaint with the MLE. Three weeks since she had noticed for the first time that he started watching her every move. Two weeks since he had moved their wedding to Christmas Eve.
A week since he had told her she wouldn't return to Hogwarts after their wedding, ignoring her father´s protests. Two days since she had found out she was with child and a day before she would be bound to him forever.
The Marriage Law had passed fairly quickly and without much protest, before and after the passing of the decree. With the rising number of squibs born to Pureblood families and the recent decimation of the population due to a Dragon Pox outbreak, unpopular measures needed to be taken to ensure the continuation of the wizarding way of life. At least, if you had to believe Minister Spencer-Moon.
One of those unpopular measures was to force the younger generation into marriage and encourage them to have children and the more, the better. It wouldn't have been a problem if the youngsters had been given a chance to find their mates on their own accord. Instead, the Ministry had matched them based on criteria no one knew the details to nor dared to ask.
The young woman fit the bill of a wife perfectly, a Half-blood from fruitful stock. She was the eldest and only girl in a family with three healthy children. That alone ensured whoever married her, that there would be more than enough offspring to carry on the family name. The result of the three days he had her in his grasp proved that theory right.
The sound of a twig breaking broke her focus. Standing still, she concentrated on other sounds that seemed unusual. Hearing nothing, she carefully continued her track through the woods. She reckoned that in an hour or two, she'd reach the village: her passage to freedom.
She stopped dead in her tracks when another sound reached her ears. This time, it sounded like laughing in the distance. She desperately hoped it was just a young couple that had sneaked out for a secret snog.
Quickening her pace, she tried to put more distance between herself and the other strangers in the woods. It wouldn't do anyone any good if witnesses saw her here. In her haste, she became careless, It wasn't long before she tripped over a large branch, hidden underneath the snow. She fell flat on her face onto the snow-covered forest floor.
Loud curses escaped her as she tried to get up. It wasn't something she often did nor liked; her parents had raised her too strict to lose self-control like that. She grimaced remembering those three days in the Room of Requirement, when she had fought him with all her might, screaming and cursing herself hoarse, and how he merely laughed and told her that he loved that about her. How he loved those rare moments when she let go. Thinking about those mocking words and him gave her chills.
There had been a time not so long ago that she had found him a very handsome and charming boy. With his dark hair and light eyes, the ever-present broody look, it had made him a mystery and an unattainable heartthrob to her and her friends. Until she found out about his true character, that is. He was evil and vile, manipulating others around him for his own benefit. He didn't shy away from violence and threats or exploiting others' weaknesses. He took what he wanted and nothing or no one could stop him.
Crouching to her knees, she tried to regain her breath. A flash of pain ripped through her belly down to her pelvis, making her gasp for air. Instinctively, she put her hand on her still flat stomach. She wasn't sure how she felt about the life growing inside her, but for now, protecting it with all she had was her primary goal.
Another crack behind her made her look up. This one was far too near for her liking. Biting through the pain, she tried to stand up, only to stumble to the ground again. The hem of her cloak had entangled in the twigs of the branch she fell over earlier.
Another crack and a small laugh echoed through the crisp night.
Her heart started beating erratically in her chest. She recognised the sound of Apparition and the laughter that followed soon after was all too familiar. Frantically, she tried to free her cloak, only for it to entwine more around the branch. Now, more than ever, she wished for her wand. He had taken that from her when he had held her against her will all those weeks ago. Her limited talents in wandless magic wouldn't save her from him.
She sensed him before she saw him and didn't dare to look up. When his shiny boots appeared in her peripheral, a desperate sob escaped her. He had found her.
"Did you really think that you could get away from me?"
Just a year ago, hearing him talk in class could put a blush on her cheeks. These days, his deceptively even voice scared her.
She refused to look up or answer him. He didn't need to see her desperation. It was only when he roughly pulled her head back by her hair that she finally faced him. He was angry; his beautiful blue eyes were ablaze with a fury that scared her immensely. The last time…
He intensified the pressure on her scalp. "Answer me, my love," he sneered.
When she remained silent, he suddenly released his hold on her. The unexpected loss of pressure made her tumble forward. She could feel the wetness and cold from the snow seep through her cloak and dress, making them heavier than they already were. She tried to stand up again, successfully this time.
Refusing to go down without a fight, she squared her shoulders and faced him with all the Gryffindor courage she could muster. Nevertheless, deep down, she was scared to death. If he killed her here, no one would know or be able to find her body. He would make sure of that. Still, she needed to stand up for herself, even if it was for the last time.
"I hate you. You are a despicable excuse for a wizard, for a human. You can't make me marry you, no matter what the Ministry says. I'd rather lose my magic…"
Before she could finish her sentence, he had her pinned against a large tree with a tight grip on her throat. The force barely allowed her to breathe. A smirk had replaced the earlier fury. His face was close to hers and his warm breath sent shivers down her cold skin. Looking into his empty eyes, she wondered for the umpteenth time how someone so beautiful could be so cruel.
"We both know I can make you do whatever I want," he whispered in her ear, reminding her of their private time together. "Law or not, I would have taken you as mine, no matter what. The idiots at the Ministry just sped up my plans."
She believed him. He had followed her for months before the passing of the law, which she -stupidly- had found flattering. He had even cornered her several times during her prefect rounds, before the summer holiday. Only by sheer luck they had been disturbed each time. She remembered giggling at him when Professor Dumbledore had interrupted them. The joke was on her, though. In the end, she, like so many others, had been blinded by his appearance.
He placed a soft kiss on her throat. If it hadn't been for his hand around it cutting off her air supply, it would have felt like the kiss of a lover. The bile rose to her mouth, the revulsion to his touch was too strong to hide and she couldn't help but recoil from it. Ignoring her reaction to him, he continued trailing soft kisses along her jaw. His free hand moved up to her belly; his spread fingers covered a large part of it.
He softly murmured a spell she didn't recognise. The magic swirling around her, however, felt familiar. She had seen it before, she realised; her cousin had performed this spell when his wife fell pregnant. It would protect the baby and in the worst case, keep the mother alive long enough for her to birth the child. The tears she had held back finally fell from her eyes. He knew; he would never let her go now.
"You didn't think you could hide this from me, did you? Silly girl," he murmured against her skin. "You're mine now, no turning back, my pet."
"I'll fight you every step of the way," she bit back and spat him in his face. He merely laughed at her.
In a feeble attempt to escape, she tried to knee him. More in surprise than hurt, he released his hold on her. She didn't get far, though, just a few steps before he got a hold of her ponytail and yanked her back, hard. She fell on her back and before she could grasp what was happening, he was straddling her.
With her free arms, she tried to fight him off, hitting and scratching him where ever she could. Nevertheless, he was much stronger and within several moments he had her arms pinned to her torso. He managed to hold her wrists together with one hand and held a tight grip on her throat with the other.
When he spoke, he sounded amused, giddy even. "My little pet has claws; that should be fun. Is this the best you have? Don't disappoint me now."
"I hate you, I'll always hate you," she hissed.
"I wouldn't expect anything less from you," he said with a snigger. Then suddenly, he turned serious again. Fury etched his face, his hand tightening around her throat. "I will kill you the next time you defy me again."
She needed to live, at least long enough to prevent the baby from growing up to be like its father. Her instinct for survival kicked in when he squeezed her throat harder, completely cutting off the air. No doubt in her mind that he would be capable of killing her, or at least keep her alive long enough to have the baby. Thinking of the child, she made a rapt decision and nodded numbly.
He released his hold on her and helped her up like a gentleman. He even helped her dust off the snow from her cloak and cast a drying spell on her soaked clothes. She felt defeated, why on earth had she thought that she could escape him? How did he know where to look?
"How did you find me?" she wheezed between coughs.
He looked at her for a minute with a boyish grin on his face. She'd give up her magic to slap it off his face.
"I've marked you, my pet. Or have you forgotten?" He didn't say anything more after that.
Involuntarily, her hand reached the back of her neck. How could she have forgotten? It had burnt for days and every day she did her hair her fingers grazed the ridges of the scar he left there. It was the last straw and before she knew it, tears poured down her cold cheeks again. She'd never be able to escape him.
He shook his head at her misery and took her in his arms, again ignoring her flinching at his touch, and Apparated. Her last thought, before they disappeared, was her hope that this would turn out to be a nightmare. She'd wake up in the morning and laugh at the terror she felt right now.
That never happened. A mere twelve hours later, the wizard married the witch of his obsessions. She was his now and with the new life growing inside her, a life he put in there deliberately, no one would be able to take her away from him. She would grow to tolerate him and love their children. Then, a time would come that she wouldn´t shy away from his touches, he'd make sure of it.
He would be truly happy with her and the life he intended to build with her by his side, even if she weren't.
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The very first fanfic I wrote, posted to FFN in March 2014.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter characters are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
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