Bathwater

Potter for Minister!

"I can't believe Shacklebolt would do this to us," Ginny Weasley repeated for what was the hundredth time that same day as she stood on a small table in the middle of the Gryffindor Common Room. No one said anything, not like anyone dared once she started ranting and turning red and a murderous glint gleamed in her eyes. No, instead silence rung as she spoke. "We can't let him do this. We can't let the Ministry make our lives for us!"

There was a commotion of agreeing comments, people clapping, and colorful sparks shooting out of some wands to add to the spectacle.

"I agree!" Seamus stood up on an armchair, making himself seen too through the crowd of watching Gryffindors. "I've had my eyes on a Ravenclaw witch for the past two years—the future Mrs. Finnegan and mother to my children! I'm not about to sit idly by and let the Ministry mess that up!"

Looking up from his seat, Dean Thomas rolled his eyes at his best friend. "She doesn't even know your name, mate. You run the opposite way every time she comes near."

"I was going to resolve that this year, Dean!" Seamus informed loudly, ignoring the snickering going on in the background at his expense and lack of guts. Most of them had seen the Irish bloke choke, turn red, and scurry off whenever a pack of Ravenclaws approached him. "Now there goes my plan on showing her what I'm all about!"

As Seamus dropped himself back onto his seat, scowling and trying not to look at anyone, Hermione just knitted her brows and shook her head at her fellow Gryffindor before turning to face Ginny.

"You can't be doing this, Ginny," she said sternly. "You can't go revolting! I understand that the idea of you and Harry being with someone else is difficult, especially after the trials you've been through, but you heard what Kingsley said. It's the law. What are we supposed to do? What can you do, for that matter?"

"Potter for Minister!" Seamus stood again, throwing a fist high in the air. "Potter! Potter! Potter!"

Grins lit up all around, and before anyone else could start agreeing with Finnegan, Harry made himself heard. "I'm not running for Minister, Seamus," he said, speaking for the first time since he just stood behind his girlfriend and watched her blow off her steam.

"But, Potter—"

"No, Seamus," Harry repeated, walking over to the front of the table so he could face Ginny now. "You need to stop this, Gin. Hermione's right. Nothing good can come out of any of this if you start a problem with the school and the Ministry of Magic."

Ginny narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms in a huff.

"We'll just have to wait and see what happens," Harry murmured to her, trying to sound like he was optimistic.

Unfortunately for him, the redheaded witch wasn't buying it. She continued to look like she was about to start a revolution. "But what if we aren't together, Harry? What then?" She jumped off the table, still staring at him intently. "What if you get sent off to Romilda Vane and I go back to Dean?"

At the shudder that she gave, at the way her voice sounded as she said it, almost in disgust, Dean frowned at his ex-girlfriend. "Oi," he lowered his copy of the Daily Prophet, "I'm in the room, you know?"

Ginny ignored the dark-skinned Gryffindor, turning quickly to give a saddened look to her current boyfriend. "I'm scared, Harry."

"Don't worry, Gin." Harry grabbed a hold of her hands, smiling as brightly as he could as he looked into the witch's bright eyes."I doubt that this stupid Marriage Law will keep us apart. I know that no matter what the Sorting Hat will place me with you." He touched her cheek lightly, gazing at her with all his intensity; seeing no one in the room but her. "We will be together because we're meant to be together, Ginny. Can you believe that, too?"

Ginny exhaled noisily, trying not to let the tears push themselves out of her sockets and crumble because of her fears of losing her heart. She was a Weasley woman, damn it, and no Weasley female ever cried for things that she could change.

"I do believe it," she murmured back.

"—Awww!" The Gryffindor Common Room snickered and made kissing-noises at the Golden Couple, none of them hiding the fact that they were listening into their conversation.

"Shut it." Ginny glared at them as she let Harry pull her into a hug.

Smiling at the sight of the very lovely couple Harry and Ginny made, at the fact that her best friend had managed to subdue his fiery and sometimes crazed girlfriend; Hermione sat herself back down on her place next to Ron.

"I'm glad that's over with. Ginny could be persistent and influential, you know. And if it wasn't for Harry, I'm not sure anyone could have stopped her from forming an army and taking over the Ministry a la revolucion style."

Ron flipped the page of his Quidditch magazine without sparing Hermione a look. "You seem awfully relaxed with this entire thing, 'Mione." He flipped the page in the same way he spoke, indifferently and carelessly. "What, are you hoping that the Sorting Hat pairs you off with McLaggen?"

At the sarcastic laugh that followed his foul comment, Hermione could not be blamed for glaring at him. "Obviously not, Ronald."

He snorted. "If you say so."

"What's got your wand in a knot?" she demanded from her best friend, frowning deeper at his foul attitude. Sure, he could be a git at times, that was clear, but this was getting out of hand lately. (Besides, what happened to the times that Ron loathed the thought of her being with someone else?)

He finally looked up at her. "Don't think you've a right to get annoyed with me, Hermione." Ron's words were said simply, but they held a furious undertone.

The brunette let out an angry hiss of air. "Am I supposed to allow you to take out your anger on me, then? Only because I'm the only one who's willing to listen to you and put up with your foul attitude?"

"I'm not asking you to stay," Ron growled out. "I never asked you to do so!"

Her anger faded for a moment to be replaced with sadness, with disappointment. "You're insufferable."

"Well that's me, Hermione. Ron Weasley: the insufferable, annoying, aggravating prat." He threw his magazine and stood from the couch. "Have a splendid evening," he spat, stalking his way towards the boys dormitory without anything else being said.

Hermione sat there, a bit stunned and irritated. (What the hell had just happened here?)

She puffed air out again.

She knew Ron was going through so much, especially involving Fred's recent death, but she couldn't let him continue to take out his grieving anger on her anymore, could she? She had dignity, she had self-respect. She was trying to help, she always was and forever will try to do so, but she was beginning to think that there was absolutely no help for Ron Weasley anymore. He was choosing to act like he was the only one who was suffering over his brother's death, like he was the one affected more by it and it gave him permission to act the way he acted. He locked himself away in a bubble of fury, not allowing it to burst and move on with his life when everything was passing him by. And Hermione really didn't know if she could put up with it much longer. She'd gone all summer suffering through his rejections, through his shouts, through his cold stares—there was no more patience for her to give.

"Are you okay?" Lavender Brown took Ron's place on the couch, giving Hermione a sympathetic look as she crossed her legs over one another. "I sort of heard most of your conversation with Ron…mostly because I was eavesdropping." She grinned lightly for a moment before dissolving it. "I'm sorry. I know he can be a bit of a pain in the arse, Hermione."

"A bit?" the brunette grunted back.

Lavender let out a few giggles at that. "It'll go away, Hermione. Just see. He's going to realize that everyone else is moving on with their lives after the war and eventually so will he. I just expect he needs to hit rock bottom before that happens, though. Don't lose faith in him, or in what you've got."

"Ron and I don't have anything," Hermione clarified for the redhead's ex-girlfriend. "That ship sailed recently, actually."

One would expect Lavender to be thrilled about that, but she really wasn't. Considering everything they'd gone through, Lavender figured there was no use in holding grudges against Hermione. After all, Ron had been claimed territory and everyone had known it. (Even if Ron and Hermione hadn't themselves then.)

"I'm sorry, Hermione. I know how much you liked him."

"I assumed you would like to see him suffer after everything he did to you, Lavender," Hermione said straightforwardly. "Yet you seem quite sympathetic for him which, honestly, surprises me."

Lavender shrugged, appearing casual and unstirred. "I can't hold grudges against him forever, even as much as I wanted to back then. Besides, I saw him get hexed by a few Death Eaters during the battle and that made me feel loads better."

Hermione gave a nod and decided it was best to drop the subject entirely. Both of them had suffered heartache from Ronald Weasley, there wasn't a need to keep talking about it.

"What do you think of the Marriage Law?" questioned Hermione to make simple small talk.

"I think it's great!" Lavender replied happily. "I really do hope it gets Seamus away from that bloody Ravenclaw he's always bitching about. I've been trying to do it since last year, but no luck. This just came at the right time for me."

"That's awful, Lavender." Hermione chuckled as her classmate smirked to herself.

The blonde girl shrugged. "He never had a chance with that perfect Prefect, anyway." She peered up at Hermione, her smirk leaving. "And you? What do you think about the new law?"

Hermione shook her head, all humor gone as she slapped her back against the back of the couch. "I'm terrified."

And with good reason: Hermione had no idea what was in store for her the next morning.

X

One by one, heading straight to their doomed destination, a Sixth and Seventh Years were bombarded with happy greetings as they helplessly dragged their feet into the Great Hall.

"Welcome, welcome," said the Headmistress.

"Pleasure seeing you all today. Good morning," said the Minister, smiling brightly at the students filing in, trying to sound as encouraging as he could.

Ron grunted, dropping himself onto one of the few long benches in the room. "Yeah, yeah. Don't think it's a pleasure seeing you, Kingsley."

Coming around from behind the redhead, Hermione tried to be as polite as she could be and smiled in return to the familiar face of the Minister. "Good morning," she said sweetly, smacking Ron behind the head for his lack of manners before taking a seat next to him.

All the benches in the Great Hall were arranged in horizontal rows to face the lonesome stool that held the Sorting Hat—the blasted thing that was tying them up with a ball and chain none of them signed up for.

After smiling in greeting at the brunette, Kingsley then turned that grand smile to the face Harry and Ginny walking into the Great Hall. "Good morning, you two," he said in a friendly manner. "My, Ginny, you seem in a better mood."

Ginny glared as Harry pulled her by the hand to the bench where his best friends were. "I can't believe you're still standing." She hardened that frown. "I owled George and specifically told him to poison you when you were over for dinner yesterday. Apparently, I wasn't taken seriously."

Kingsley raised an eyebrow, sighing. "I doubt murdering the Minister would help at all, Ginevra."

"It was worth a try," the girl said, shrugging as she sat.

Resentfully, the students watched as Professor McGonagall approached the golden owl podium, the one that used to belong to the great Albus Dumbledore, and cleared her throat loudly to get their attention and their silence.

"Well, all of you know why you are here, no point trying to fuss over it. The sorting will take place in a few moments after a few more important announcements the Minister has to deliver to you all."

Heard from the rows back, Draco Malfoy whispered to the person next to him, "there's more to this bloody madness?"

Blaise Zabini crossed his arms nonchalantly, just to give him something to do as he fought the need to run away from the entire thing. "Who the hell knows, mate. At this rate, these twats at the Ministry will make a sub-law forcing us to hug a Hufflepuff a day, or donate to charities. It's all mental, really. I'm this close to just passing as a muggle."

"There are a few clauses enclosed to this Marriage Law," said Kingsley, ending the hushed conversations all around. "First, from the end of the sorting, you all will have a year to wed. No exceptions or extensions. You cannot reject the law, it's absolute." There were snorts of challenge scattered in the throng of students, so the Minister of Magic had to lay down the power of the Ministry on them. "If you do not go through with this law, the Ministry has developed the potential power of taking your magic. Your wand will be confiscated and snapped, and you will be barred from entering the Wizarding World."

"What—Come on!" Theodore Nott whined from his row, looking appalled. "You can't do that! The Ministry has no right to strip a wizard from his magic! This is barbaric!"

Ignoring the Slytherin and the agreeing outbursts he was given, Kingsley said, "Hogwarts will provide you with a Family Consumer lesson that begins this afternoon. This class will be imperative to teach you tolerance in interacting with one another as people, as friends, and long-life spouses. In this class is where you all will be given further information about the Marriage Law and what the Ministry requires from you."

Shaking his head with so much disapproval over everything, Neville Longbottom turned to the brunette witch next to him, grumbling. "This sounds like a bloody assignment now."

"Yeah, but I doubt the Brightest Witch of the Age could complete it herself. This is something you can't do from a book," Pansy Parkinson replied to Longbottom, not even giving Hermione the chance to even process what Neville had said to her.

"The sorting will start as of now," the Headmistress spoke up, pushing the Minister away from the podium and taking charge. "And I shall warn you: no vulgarity will be tolerated without a fair punishment for the one who decides to bring down their spouse. Take in mind that the Sorting Hat was created for the purpose of knowing where a person belongs."

The students still grumbled and snorted at her explanation. There were a few who were already planning on shredding that old hat.

"All girls bound to the Marriage Law: your name will be called, you will come forward, and your future spouse will join you," stated the Minister as he pulled out a large scroll of parchment from his robe pocket.

"Hannah Abbot," he called first.

The Hufflepuff girl paled, all eyes quick on finding her amongst the throng of those with yellow and black ties. She gulped loudly.

"If I get Ernie McMillan," she whispered to her fellow Hufflepuff Zacharias Smith before rising from her seat, "murder me. Promise me you'll do that, Zach."

Zacharias said nothing as he watched his friend move her way to the front. She sat down on the stool, the Minister placing the hat on her head.

Within two seconds, the Sorting Hat came to life and shouted, "NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM!"

All Gryffindors turned to their hero of the hour, gaping. Neville was making no show of getting up, of saying anything. He just gawked ahead of him, stunned. Harry looked at his friend warily, reaching to put a hand on his shoulder sympathetically. Yet, it was Hermione who started seeing flashes of excited emotions crossing Neville's face.

"Merlin," he finally breathed. "And to think that all this time I couldn't come up with, 'Hey, want to go out sometime? I've fancied you forever.'" He grinned at his fellow Gryffindors. "Now I can skip all that awkward parts and just marry her."

His friends laughed and watched Neville hurriedly make his way to a blushing, equally excited Hannah Abbot.

"Cho Chang," called the Minister next.

Instantly being flashed backwards to a certain memory she was not fond of, Ginny glared at the Ravenclaw as she made her way towards the stool; shaking with every step.

"Chang better pray to Merlin she doesn't end up with Harry," Ginny whispered furiously to Hermione.

"I doubt the Sorting Hat thinks they belong together, Gin." Hermione patted Ginny's shoulder reassuringly. "Cho was a wreck when Harry met her, remember? They didn't have a very lovely relationship to begin with. And, honestly, they were hardly compatible. I doubt it has changed so far. She needs someone with complete patience, someone not so normal that can tear her away from the grieving bubble she's been caught in for years."

Cutting across Hermione and Ginny's conversation, the Sorting Hat exclaimed, "BLAISE ZABINI!"

In the back of the crowd, the elected Slytherin took a few seconds to process the information. When he finally decided to move, Blaise shrugged his shoulders. "Not bad," he said to his fellow Slytherins. "Not bad at all. It could've been worse. I'm now saved from Millicent Bullstrode," he said to them, smirking widely.

At that, the other Slytherin boys looked dumbfounded and frightened.

"She's all yours, wankers!" Blaise laughed loudly, flipping them the middle finger as he made his way to Cho Chang, swagger to every step he took. The Ravenclaw looked about to burst into tears, but, then again, she always seemed that way.

Hermione nudged Ginny. "Maybe Zabini will be perfect for her. Cho needs something fresh and maybe challenging."

Ginny rolled her eyes rudely, not really caring at this point. Cho was checked off the list, that meant more hope for her and Harry to stay together.

"Millicent Bullstrode!" Small whispers broke out as the angry-looking Slytherin girl stomped her way up towards the Sorting Hat.

"Two sickles she lands with Malfoy," Seamus laughed from behind, making others quick to take on his bet.

"ERNIE MCMILLAN," cried the Sorting Hat.

At his newfound fate and damned luck, Ernie's eyes shot open with absolute horror. He sagged against his seat, turning pale, and almost fell out of it. One of his friends had to grab him by the shoulder, sympathy in his eyes, and lift him up. Ernie stumbled on his feet.

While the Hufflepuff boy was on the verge of fainting, or crying, the Slytherin boys high-fived one another, relief washing over them as they thanked whoever was watching over them that they were spared from the Slytherin Monster.

"Luna Lovegood," called Kingsley next, making the Great Hall go silent. Harry, Hermione, and Ginny turned in their seats, scouting past the heads of other students for the energetic Ravenclaw. Up to that point, they just realized they had not seen her prior.

When the Minister called Luna's name again, murmurs broke out and now everyone was looking for the blonde girl.

"Did she actually make a run for it?" Parvati Patil was heard whispering, ever the instigator of rumors. "Padma did say Lovegood was missing for breakfast. Honestly, that mad girl should have not escaped. This might be her only chance at marriage."

Pulling out a letter from her pocket that she received from Fleur that morning, Ginny muttered a spell over it before rolling it into a ball. Squinting, the redhead threw the ball of parchment and watched as it hit Parvati roughly on the chest, robbing her of her air.

"I will tear your head off, Patil," Ginny warned as the older girl squeaked with pain, heaving from the heavy impact. "That's my best friend you're talking about. One more bad word against Luna and you'll regret it."

Harry was quick to turn Ginny around so she would not start a fight mid-Sorting.

"Where is Luna, though?" Hermione asked her best friend and his girlfriend. "I haven't seen her at all, now that I think—"

"Headmistress, look who I found roaming the gardens!" Before Hermione could even finish her thought, Filch burst through the doors holding a petite blonde by the neck of her robes. Luna simply smiled at everyone looking at her.

McGonagall gazed down sternly at the Ravenclaw. "Miss Lovegood," she sighed, "would you care to explain why you were out in the grounds when you were ordered here?"

Luna shrugged innocently as Filch let her robes go, smiling gently at the Headmistress. "I was drawing a few Hippogriffs Hagrid is using for his lesson today, Professor. I am sorry I got distracted and lost track of time, but they did turn out quite good." She showed the Headmistress her drawing pad.

The elder witch rolled her eyes, motioning the girl forward. "Up you go, Miss Lovegood. It's your turn to be sorted."

Hermione grinned a little despite the carelessness of the girl.

Harry, however, was not smiling. He had that look again, that look Ginny and Hermione knew very well. He was worrying, in protective mode all over again. It was no secret that he adored Luna and that she was someone he considered family, even if she was a little odd. But that was the thing: Luna was eccentric and too innocent. Harry worried that whoever she was paired with would take advantage of that.

Three seconds of deliberation past when finally, "DEAN THOMAS!" was shouted by the Sorting Hat.

And just like those quick seconds it took for Luna's future husband to be decided upon, Harry's worry dissolved. There were only a handful of blokes Harry considered to be real gents, and one of those was Dean.

"I…I get Luna?" The dark-skinned Gryffindor breathed from his seat, looking and feeling overwhelmed.

Seamus spilled air through his teeth, clucking his tongue and looking a little sympathetic. "I'm sorry, mate. But, oi, it can't be that bad, I mean—"

"Shut up, Seamus." Dean pushed his best mate backwards, full with delight as he raced over to Luna, who was looking over her drawings like a hat hadn't just given her a husband that she should have found until years from now. "Luna we're together!" he said cheerfully at the Ravenclaw.

"That's nice." Luna smiled dreamily at him, so calm and collected. "Do you reckon I can go outside now? The Hippogriffs really are spectacular to draw."

Dean pulled her into a hug, and even Luna couldn't help but to laugh.

"Lavender Brown," Kingsley read the next name off his scroll.

Watching their fellow Gryffindor rise confidently from her seat to walk to the Sorting Hat, Ginny tapped Hermione on her shoulder to whisper, "Ron, you reckon?"

Hermione snorted. "I doubt she'll suffer through that again. It was obvious a relationship between those two would be a disaster."

But as the question of who Lavender Brown was going to be paired off with lingered with a few, it was quickly answered for them in a loud yell of, "SEAMUS FINNEGAN!"

Lavender gasped and her eyes were wide as the Minister took the hat off her head. "Yes!" She bellowed with great enthusiasm, jumping off the stool with so much energy, too. "Take that you stupid, ugly Ravenclaw! I win!" She threw her palms in the air and danced in a circle to celebrate an achievement no one knew she wanted.

"Bloody hell," Seamus groaned, looking back to a small group of Ravenclaws Lavender had pointed to, watching as the girl he fancied looked skeptically at the Brown girl's reaction. Resignation and doom were bitches, and because they were, Seamus stalked his way towards his soon-to-be-wife.

The laughter of the Seamus-Lavender pairing only died down when Ginny Weasley's name was called next.

Clawing at Harry's hand now, Ginny went pale, looking absolutely horrified. The blood in her veins froze, her skin became numb as her fears came out and shocked her body.

The Boy Who Lived squeezed her hand, looking at her softly and filled with strength. "Just go," he murmured as he kissed her knuckles, hoping she would absorb his love as reassurance that everything would work out.

The entire Great Hall watched the interaction, even the Slytherins felt somewhat of compassion for them. All of them, every single person in the castle knew how much it meant for them to be together; how much they loved one another and how devastating their separation was going to be for the pair of them.

"Scared, Harry?" Ron asked his friend, sitting supportively next to him now as his sister made her way to the front.

"No," Harry replied in a low tone. "I have complete faith in that Sorting Hat. It always gives me what I really want."

Long ago, Destiny had made its choice on whom Ginny Weasley was fated to. A loud and clear "HARRY POTTER!" from the Sorting Hat only let the rest of the world know what the two teenagers felt.

The entire Gryffindor House clapped loudly as Harry passed them, a giant grin on his face as they all cheered for him and the redhead.

With the weight off her shoulders now, her heart pounding in her chest, sprouting wings, Ginny managed to turn to Kingsley and muster an apologetic expression through her blinding happiness. "I promise I'll never ask George to murder you again, Kingsley."

The Minister chuckled deeply, patting the girl's back once. "Death threats come with the job, Ginny. No offense taken."

When Harry reached the front, Ginny launched herself forward a la Hermione when her arms wrapped around her boyfriend's neck in order to hold on tight. She was aware of the audience, but she could really care less when tears glistened her vision. Harry maneuvered them to stand beside Luna and Dean; he felt as thrilled as the redhead.

"Pansy Parkinson!" the Minister called as soon as he finished smiling from Ginny's happiness; getting on with his duties.

"Bloody hell," groaned the want-to-be Slytherin Princess as she sensed defeat. "My best bet of hitting low was Longbottom and they already took him."

"You still have me, Pans!" Theodore Nott shouted after her.

"That's no comfort, you idiot." Pansy shoved the hat down on her head, scowling and tapping her foot as the students observed her.

"Two sickles she ends up with Malfoy," Padma commented, giggling at the uncomfortable look on the Slytherin's face as she waited for the torture to already come. "We all know she's been trailing after him like a dog. Maybe it's true love."

After a few moments of consideration, the Sorting Hat bellowed, "RON WEASLEY!"

Hermione's jaw dropped.

"Weasley?" Pansy heaved, breaking the silence as she pointed a finger at Potter's sidekick. "Are you fucking kidding me?" She threw the hat at the Minister. "I can't have Weasley! Do it again! This bloody rag is wrong!"

With disapproving, cold eyes, McGonagall simply said, "Don't blame us for the choice the Sorting Hat has made, Miss Parkinson. Apparently, you and Mister Weasley are compatible to withstand a marriage."

Pansy looked disgusted and offended. "I'll kill myself," she hissed at the Headmistress and Minister. "Where the hell is my wand?" She shoved her hands into her robe-pockets, scouting frantically for her wand.

McGonagall rolled her eyes. "Enough of your dramatics, Miss Parkinson." She then turned to Ron. "Mister Weasley, join your fiancee, please."

Ron, a mask of no emotions, walked forward without a word or glance at anyone. Hermione's worried-filled gaze was gawking at him, beseeching him for one look her way, but the redhead didn't bother. He went to stand beside Parkinson, he was detached as the Slytherin witch looked ready to shoot smoke from her ears.

When the next name off the list was someone he cherished dearly, Kingsley was very careful when he called for Hermione Granger. He could only hope, with Ron taken, that there was a boy out there worthy of Hermione's heart.

The brunette took a look around the Great Hall as she was called, buying a few more seconds as she did so when her heart started thumping. If Ron was taken, Harry even, who else would she be compatible with? Those were the only boys she had ever loved—and that was stretching it too far seeing as she'd never exactly been in love with Harry, but still. He was the closest thing she came to an overwhelming connection with other than Ron.

Grudgingly, Hermione peeked over at Cormac McLaggen, sighing in defeat. In Sixth Year McLaggen had been disgustingly persistent with her, and his longing, devouring looks had not faded since. She shuddered at the thought that the Sorting Hat might pair her off with him.

Maybe he and I can find—No. Hermione was not even going to let the idea formulate. Especially since he caught her looking and he sent her a giant wink.

Gagging internally at Cormac's attention, Hermione stomped to the stool with total resignation. Surely she would have liked to snake Seamus Finnegan from Lavender before getting married to McLaggen and having to deal with his vile ways for all eternity.

With sympathetic gazes from the Minister and the Headmistress, Kingsley placed the Sorting Hat on Hermione's brown curls.

Not Cormac. Not Cormac. Anyone but Cormac. Not Cormac. Goyle if you want, but not Cormac.

While she chanted the same phrase over and over again in her mind, Hermione opened her right eye. The seconds were long with the hat saying nothing, giving her no clue. She looked around the Great Hall, noticing and appreciating the worried eyes of Harry and Ginny. The rest of the student body seemed eager, curious to know who she was going to end up with.

Suddenly, in the midst of scanning the potential candidates to share a marriage with, Hermione's brown eyes met silver ones. It was meant to be a fleeting glance—she was going to skim him by, ignore him as she always did, but his eyes were magnets. They caught her attention, reeling her deep within their grey pools, and drowned her. As she suffocated for air inside his gaze, she couldn't ignore that they were sort of enchanting. She never noticed the shine to them, not when the Slytherin Prince would never let go of his famous glower.

Malfoy stared at her, too. There was no emotion at all on his face, not even the smallest glint of hatred.

Briefly, Hermione wondered if he had changed because of the war. She knew what it was like for him during Voldemort's reign, and she could never forget the fact that he helped them in the war by not telling Bellatrix their real identity. She was curious, in that second, about him; he was like a book she'd never read before.

And then it happened—her destiny was set.

"DRACO MALFOY!" yelled the Sorting Hat.

Gasps broke out around the Great Hall; even Ron snapped out of his muted trance at the name that had been called. Everyone was shocked, everyone was silent. The focal point of attention was the Slytherin and the Gryffindor.

Malfoy took a step backward, his intention clearly on running. But the revelation, his fate, smacked against him. It was real, this was bloody real.

"Fuck my life," Draco's mutter echoed loudly in the silence.

Receiving the Slytherin's reaction, everyone then turned to the girl still on the stool. Closest to her, the Headmistress placed a hand on the brunette's shoulder.

"Hermione," McGonagall called, "are you okay?"

"I'm going to...I'm going to—" Hermione slid off the stool, her cheek colliding with the cold, marbled floor as blackness engulfed her.

She was Draco Malfoy's fiancee.

Fuck her life indeed.

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