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She couldn't really move her feet, couldn't even really move her legs—so it was no surprise why Parvati and Padma Patil were practically dragging her towards the door of their next class.

They said nothing, the twins. They respected the silence that the girl was in, even if they really didn't agree with it; even if they were dying to talk about the biggest rumor to hit the walls of Hogwarts since the mutters that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was back.

And just as they crossed into the door, Parvati and Padma let go of Lavender's arms. Leaving her as her eyes focused on a sandy-haired boy on the table a few feet away from her.

She cleared her throat, taking a second to inhale as much air and courage, and then took a step to him. "Um, Seamus, can we—"

"Shove off, Lavender," before the dirty-blonde Gryffindor could get her full sentence out, Seamus Finnegan growled from the deepest pit of anger inside of him. His brown eyes glared roughly at her, almost in hope that she would combust into ashes by just his stare and he'd be spared from all the muttering and staring going around at Hogwarts.

Lavender bit her lip, her eyes watering as the rest of the nearby Gryffindors gave her uneasy stares as she stood her ground, her feet placed determinedly on the marbled floor of the classroom. "…Look, Seamus, if you would let me explain everything, I-I promise….What Luna said—"

"Don't you dare," Seamus interrupted her again, standing from the table and shooting daggers at his fiancée; feeling outraged. "Don't you dare insult Luna, Lavender. Years you spent going on and on with Parvati about the things Luna says and labeling her as a lunatic, but honestly, that lunatic is a better person than you will ever be."

A few of the couples overhearing the conversation nodded their heads in agreement.

"She had the decency to inform me that my best mate and my fiancée," Seamus continued, "liked to give it some goes while no one was watching. She opened my eyes about you."

Lavender shook her head, her blondish hair flying all around her; strands sticking to her cheeks as she cried thick tears. "Luna is lying!" She shouted. "She didn't see anything! Whatever she said that day was all a load of rubbish! I never did anything with Dean!"

Seamus scoffed in such an infuriated and mocking manner that a few Slytherins had to smirk at that. (These damn Gryffindors were turning out to be as conniving as they were, and that was something to say. They were definitely impressed.) "So, you're telling me that Lovegood imagined Dean half naked?"

"He wasn't naked, Seamus! Dean was—he had pants on." A few girls around groaned as they shook their heads at the Gryffindor witch. (Bad idea, Lav. Bad idea.)

"And you weren't in a towel?" The boy's voice was filled with more acid, the thoughts of his best mate with the girl he had come to fancy—long forgotten about that Ravenclaw he deeply wanted—together in a chamber was starting to cause an irruption in his chest. "You're saying that Lovegood just pictured you coming out of her room in a towel for the fun of it? "

Lavender waited a few seconds, swallowing a knot of pressure. "…Okay, so I was in a towel, but I had just come out of the shower, Seamus!"

"Why were you taking a shower in Dean's chamber?" Seamus banged his fist on the table in front of him, startling some of the eavesdroppers by his anger. "Why were you there at all? There's a reason why the Ministry assigned separate chambers for every couple! So some ditzy wench like you couldn't go jumping from chamber to chamber!"

There was an intake of breaths, all echoing around together in unison. A few Slytherins laughed mockingly in hush tones, amusement on their faces, and some even daring to shout a cheer for the Gryffindor wizard. (This drama was getting better and better.)

"Seamus," having enough of the insults and shouts, Parvati Patil stood from her table, Gregory Goyle reaching for her sleeve as anger was written on her tanned face, "you cannot speak to her that way! Regardless of what happened, she is still a girl. And unless your mother forgot to teach you manners, you don't insult a girl that way!"

"Goyle, handle your witch." Pansy Parkinson, hand in hand with Ron Weasley, entered the classroom, a smirk of interest on her face as she heard Seamus shouting from outside where she was trying to have a peaceful snogging session with her fiancée. (But they'd been so rudely interrupted by the latest of the drama-filled couple that she'd no choice but to come inside and forget the way Ron's tongue tasted like pumpkin pasties.) "She needs to learn not to get involved in other peoples business, and I suggest you show her."

As the dark-haired Slytherin aimed her a smirk, Pavarti narrowed her eyes instantly. "Look, you cow—"

"Parvati, shut your mouth," Goyle snapped, pulling her back down to the chair.

He watched with a bit of pride as his fiancée gawked at him with bewildered eyes. (Had Goyle just screamed at her?)

"Yes, Greg," Parvati nodded, her anger flying away as she looked down at the table with surprise and obedience. (Dear Merlin, had she liked it too?)

Clearing his throat, feeling very uncomfortable at the sight of his ex-girlfriend shedding thick tears and looking so miserable, Ron said, "ease up there, mate. Parvati's right, you know? You can't be getting so mad at Lavender without giving her a chance to explain. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe she didn't do anything?"

"That's easy for you to say right, Weasley?" Seamus huffed, unmoved by the silent sobbing that was coming from Lavender or the pitying looks people were giving her. (She was wrong here, not him!) "But tell me this, mate, did you two just ever snog? Because I find it quite daunting that being together for so long, and always being found at each others mouths, that you two only snogged," he frowned, "forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical here. "

Ron turned red in the ears, aware that the eavesdroppers were now at the edge of their seats, more intrigued now as the past of his old relationship was brought on to the table.

Pansy shot him a glare, letting go of his hand and crossing her arms heatedly. (Oh, this she wanted to hear.)

"What—what happened with me and Lavender is in the past, Seamus," Ron spoke after a moment, trying to choose the correct words so his fiancée wouldn't blow up on him later, "and it has nothing to do with what's going on now."

"Exactly." Seamus dropped himself back on his chair, now looking indifferent. "What's happening between her and I is nothing of your concern, Weasley. So stay out of it."

Ron looked at Pansy; the latter shrugged, took his hand, and led him away from the table and the drama just as more was entering the door.

"Luna, please." In a blur, a blonde girl burst through the door of the classroom looking, if it was possible to say, like hell.

Her usual straight hair was very frizzy and tied to a bouncy bun, her normal bright eyes were surrounded by a rim of red, and the condition of her usually white skin could be described as clammy and rather sickening to look at.

"Luna, come on."

"…Oh, I know he isn't trying to talk to her," agirl whispered somewhere behind all the new commotion. "After what he did, that boy has nerve."

On her way to the furthest table, Luna was suddenly halted by Dean Thomas' fingers around her arm. "…Stop," Luna breathed, "let go."

Dean's fingers loosened, but he did not let go. "…Luna, please. Please."

"Come on, Dean," Harry and Ginny Potter, followed by Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger, appeared inside of the classroom a moment after. "Let her go." The savior of the Wizarding World had his wand stretched forward, directing it on his fellow Gryffindor's back. "Although it would bother me greatly, Dean, I won't hesitate to hex you."

"—Alright, alright." Professor Sprout emerged into the room, looking at the students with strict eyes. "Settle down now. Everyone with their respective partners, no more of this hectic nonsense, understood?" She frowned as Luna Lovegood ripped her arm away from Dean's hold and proceeded to the furthest table.

Luna scooted her chair to the very edge of the table as her fiancée went to join her. "Miss Brown, take a seat," the teacher said at once, pointing a finger at the empty chair next to Seamus.

Entering at the right moment, fashionably late like he was used to, Blaise Zabini grinned amusedly as he headed for his seat next to Cho Chang. "You know something, mate, what's going on here will make a great storyline for a Muggle movie," he whispered to Draco, who sat on the table next to him. "We've got cheaters, lunatics, crying witches, angry witches," he gave Cho a mocking sneer as she glared roughly at him, "backstabbing best mates, sex scandals, and the Boy-Who-Lived! It practically writes itself!"

"Settle down, children. Settle down," the professor huffed, trying to silence the laughter the two Slytherins were making. "Today we'll be learning about the importance of family. What you get out of it and how to handle stressful situations when the family is under critical emotional stress." Her uncommon frown was cast away by her perky smile. "Before we get into today's lecture, I've an announcement for you lot."

The silence was almost immediate, worry on their faces. (Now what were they going to demand of them?)

"The Minister has conducted a meeting with the Headmistress regarding the new numbers of the wizarding population," she finished, taking a seat at her desk.

"Were the numbers true?" Hermione raised her hand high in the air, no one bothering to look up or strain themselves in asking, knowing that the Brightest Witch was bound to ask the important questions sooner or later.

Professor Sprout nodded solemnly. "Oh, yes, Miss Granger, they were in fact true. We've lost more than half of our population, and the fear of the Squib era is already starting to cause havoc with the Ministry." She sighed, her gray hair shaking as she did. "Seeing as most of you, like the good lads I've been teaching for years, sent the dates of your weddings already, the Ministry has provided a new deadline you all are to complete."

"Which is...?" Pansy raised her eyebrow, crossing her arms over her chest; getting impatient at the theatrics the Herbology teacher was giving.

Ignoring the insolent girl, the professor looked at Hermione as if she'd been the one to ask the question. "Once you all have consummated the special bond of Marriage, you have three years from the day of your wedding to.…" she cleared her throat, now looking uneasy, "produce heirs."

And just like at a snap of the fingers, Hermione began to choke on her oxygen; bending over slightly as she felt her saliva growing thick inside her mouth. "W-What?" She gasped, Malfoy patting her back as she continued to heave; a blank look on his pale face as his fiancée grew more shocked by the second. "You want us to—you want us to have children already?"

Draco kept patting her back.

"Um, yes, dear, I'm afraid so. That's the general idea of the…issued deadline." Professor Sprout gave her a weak smile, aware that the rest of the couples looked as shock as she was but were more paralyzed by the news than Hermione Granger. (Excluding the Potter couple who looked deep in thought.) "The Marriage Law provides a binding magical contract, all of you are aware that this is a must and that it's not something that is negotiable. If you refuse to marry, you must give up your magic. If you refuse to complete the deadlines, same penalty."

Blaise Zabini crossed his legs, turning his body in an angle away from his fiancée as he looked over at her with appalled eyes. "I suddenly feel like I've been sexually harassed."

Cho glared. "Don't worry, Zabini, I don't intend to touch you anytime soon."

"Hermione," Draco whispered, taking the chance as the room broke out in rambles and muttering, "are you okay?" He placed his hand on her leg, looking at her with some concern.

"Oh, don't touch me!" She huffed, slapping his hand away. "This is how it starts, and before I know it I'll be walking down graduation with a watermelon in my womb!"


"…Are you feeling better?" Draco Malfoy asked his fiancée, his chin resting on top of her head as they both laid on the couch in their living room. (Seeing as Blaise had, yet again, claimed their room as, yet again, Cho Chang kicked him out of their chamber.) Draco found himself on the bottom with the Gryffindor resting on top of him with her head snuggled to his chest. "You were quite the wreck with the news."

Shutting her eyes, Hermione breathed, "how can I not be?" as she listened intently to the rhythm of his heart. "Don't get me wrong, Malfoy, I've come to accept the Marriage Law, with a few kicks and protests, mind you, but this…this is going too far. I mean, children? At our age? Things will complicate themselves before we actually begin to adjust to the married life."

"It can't be that bad, can it?" The blonde Slytherin commented.

"How can you be so sure?" Hermione scoffed, her eyes still shut tight. "Why is it that you, the cowardly ferret, are not afraid of this? How can you just take it so lightly; have you no plans of the future? Wasn't there something you wanted to do that didn't involve changing diapers?"

Draco frowned at the ferret statement, growing angry. "I'm not afraid, bookworm," he hissed. (Oh, you can't blame him, can you? In love or not, he is still the Slytherin Prince and demands respect and to be feared!) "…I'll have you by my side," he continued on, "and yes, there are plenty of things I wanted to do, but now I don't have to do them on my own. I'll have a wife, and a child as it seems, that I can make proud when I do succeed in them. And I take it lightly because I know you, Hermione. I've seen you with Teddy, and you'll be an excellent mother."

At the confidence in his voice, at the almost sincerity she could detect in his tone, Hermione's eyes opened widely in surprise and astonishment. "You—you actually want me to be the mother of your children?" She lifted herself on an elbow, trying not to dig it deep in his lower abdomen as she stared at him in the eye. "….Do you think we can make this work?"

"Granger," he grunted, looking at her in an emotionless state, "I don't have the choice to decide, you'll be it anyway. But, yes, I'm glad that it will be you, because together...we can make it work."

The brunette bit her lip, trying to contain the smile that was already spreading; trying not to look like a giddy girl with butterflies exploding inside her stomach. "Promise?" She asked in a small voice, feeling the redness of her cheeks seep in.

Draco nodded his head. "Of course, my Gryffindor. As long as you keep that bloody Bulgarian away from my children, I promise you that."

Hermione raised an eyebrow, her eyes narrowing.

"What?" Draco narrowed his eyes too. "I will not have our children calling him 'Uncle Vik'."

Hermione laughed, letting her sudden happiness appear on her face at the bemusement she found in her fiancée's words. "Oh, Malfoy, I knew you'd be bound to bring the Viktor subject up."

Malfoy glared more, growing irritated at her beautiful laughter mixing inside of his head and at the casual way she mentioned the latter man. "And there will be no trips to Bulgaria either. Don't think I will have you support their Quidditch team, while we are at it. I will not be paying for their merchandise."

"Of course not," she snorted at his ridiculous comments, pressing her lips on his cheeks softly and teasingly. "I'll be supporting the Holyhead Harpies." She grinned at him, winking in a very un-Hermione way. "Then we will have tickets to see Ginny in action when she joins after Hogwarts, which you'll know will happen. Ron and Harry will be cheering along with us in the stands."

The Slytherin groaned in frustration. "Does the rest of the Golden Trio come in this marriage package, because I am willing to let Zabini and Pansy out if you can drop Potter and the Weasel."

Hermione faked a gasp. "How can you say that," she slapped his chest, "we will be visiting every Sunday, and have the Holidays with the Weasleys!"

"No deal!" Draco shouted, tickling her sides and making her laugh harder, in way that wasn't considered polite or girl-like, but he felt it more endearing than anything.


"Draco, darling—"



"Hermione, are you alright?" Narcissa Malfoy asked, her blue eyes staring at the brunette with worried eyes as she hit the marbled floor roughly.

"Mrs. Malfoy," Hermione squeaked, wincing at the sudden pain her kneecap was giving, "how did you apparate inside the castle?" She allowed her fiancée to help her up in one swift movement; covering up the curse that was threatening to spill out of her mouth in front of the most notable pureblood woman in Britain.

"Beta, dear. She apparated into the chamber, and as soon as my feet touched the ground, she apparated away." She took a step closer to the girl, eyeing her. "Are you sure you're alright, we can take you to the Hospital Wing if you'd like?"

Shaking her brown curls, Hermione tried giving the woman a smile. "No, no," she tried to laugh, but made a mental-note to talk to someone about putting carpet on the damned marbled floor. "Will we be taking the Floo, then?"

Giving a disapproving shake of her head, Narcissa said, "of course, I've got to stop by and pay my greetings to the Headmistress. It will be very rude of me to barge into her castle and not greet her, won't it?" She smiled, reaching forward and pulling Hermione's loose strands of hair behind her ear; a warmth that could be expressed as affection on her face. "Now, why don't you go get Pansy, darling? I owled her yesterday evening and informed her of our outing, she was pleased to be invited. I'm sure she's far from ready and will be pacing up and down her chamber right about now."

"Yes, Narcissa." But before Hermione could head out the door, she placed a chaste kiss on her fiancée's cheek in goodbye. "…see you in the night, Draco," she whispered to him, and limped herself out of the chamber.

Grinning a little smugly at that scene, Draco's mother turned to her son with a little giggle. "She's a brave one, isn't she?"

Watching the Gryffindor limp away, Draco scoffed, "a liar is more like it, mother." He tossed himself on the couch, frowning even after the girl was long gone. "Did you not see her limping? She'll be complaining about her bruise later, I know it." He shook his head in the same disapproving manner his mother had. "Damn her and her Gryffindor pride."

"I'm glad you've come to care for her, Draco," his mother said straightforwardly, her voice not holding an assumption but merely a fact.

Draco cleared his throat awkwardly. "Well, I have to share my life with her, don't I?" He said, swallowing nervously at his mother's profound stare. "I have to be somewhat considerate to her well-being. Imagine how it will look in the Daily Prophet if she happens to die so quickly into our wedding? I'll earn a one-way ticket to Azkaban and be another of the famous Blacks to have joined their imprisonment." Draco shook his head at the idea. "Then I'll be a failure, seeing as I won't be like Auntie Bella or cousin Sirius and escape that hellhole, and I'll die a very lonely death while surrounded by other demented people. All because I couldn't manage to have Granger survive a couple of years."

Narcissa gave it a moment, trying not to let that smirk—the one that Draco had inherited from her, a sort of psychical heirloom passed by generations and generations of Blacks—appear on her pale face. "Are you about done, darling?"

"No," her son hissed. "Then Potter and every Weasley imaginable, seeing as there are thousands of them, will come to beat the rubbish out of me in my cell until I'm a rotting corpse. And the Ministry will burn me to ashes and send my remains down a toilet!"

"Are you done now?" She asked, watching the boy heave for air, turning red in the face from the spasm he just had.

Draco frowned, took in another deep inhale, and nodded hesitantly at his mother.

"Listen to me, dear—there is nothing wrong about caring for her," she spoke with a tone he did not recognize. "You need to forget everything your father and I ever taught you, Draco. Everything that you heard when you were younger, everything you have experienced.…" She paused as he frowned at her, now looking offended. "I know that I am sounding like a hypocrite and I'm telling you to contradict everything I went for, but darling, love knows no exceptions. Hermione, Muggle-Born or not, is a very beautiful and kind witch. And I will be proud the day that your wedding comes along because I will know that you are happy...That you're going to live a plentiful life."

And paused happen, the boy taking a moment to process the words his mother had just offered.

"…But father?" Was what he chose to say, looking a little putout.

"You leave Lucius to me, Draco," Narcissa's voice was a bit tainted with annoyance. "This isn't about your father, nor is this about me, so do not worry for this is about you and Hermione. And the fact that you two will be joining your souls and forever remaining together. I know that the concept of that can be quite daunting, but love of mine, if you care for her...nothing should stop you." She peered down at him, caressing his cheek. Her blue eyes contrasting with his gray.

Not sure on what to say or how to react, Draco cleared his throat a bit uncomfortably once more.

Never in his life has he seen his mother show so much emotion—especially towards someone that wasn't him. Someone that years ago she would've degraded for the lack of pure blood running in her body. But now things were different, and his mother gave her blessing for their union. Not caring if it was forced or by choice, she approved of Hermione Granger. She wanted him—her—to be happy with what was coming.

So did that mean that he should let things go then? Evolve to the better person he knows that he is deep inside, to that man he's been trying to repress for many years; to that wizard that Hermione seems to find every time she looks him in the eye? Can he be capable, strong and courageous to let his devious side go to be happy? To start his marriage with love, not end up loathing his wife like so many arranged marriages turn out? The Ministry had said that they were sorted to the people that they were meant to, after all, so all he had to do was embrace it.

To hold the Gryffindor tight in his arms and never let her go.

Just the way he wanted it; just the way he needed it.

"I better be off. We won't find any wedding dresses if we keep wasting time," Narcissa broke the silence, running her fingers one last time on her only son's cheek. "And with Pansy accompanying us, I can guarantee you this will be a torture to your fiancée. "

Draco blinked slowly, nodding his head. "Bring her back in one piece, mother," and then he smiled gently at the woman in front of him. "I need her."

Narcissa nodded in reassurance. "I'll bring her back to you, Son, and with a wedding dress so marvelous that she'll have to be the most beautiful bride." She smiled wider. "She won't become a Malfoy and not earn that rightful title, trust me."

"…She doesn't need to be a Malfoy," Draco whispered to himself, opening the door for his mother too cross; watching her exit swiftly with nothing else said to him, "she already is beautiful being who she is."


"What the—" The blonde Slytherin jumped slightly on his feet, startled by the sudden loud sound echoing around his chamber. "What the blood hell are you doing?"

Bolting out of his best mate's bedroom, Blaise Zabini emerged out in his emerald boxers in a hectic motion; a silver snake, one resembling the one on the Slytherin-crest, was printed on the left side. His dark legs were visible and stood out more as his bright, and glowing white socks reaching to mid-calf contrasted with his skin.

"What am I doing?" He repeated, throwing Draco his used handkerchief. His green eyes glistening with tears. "What am I doing?" He said once again, much louder. "Oh, I'll tell you what I'm doing!" He shouted, casting his slippers on his feet.

Draco raised his eyebrow, scowling at the dark boy with a look of disgust at how unclothed he was. "Why are you crying, Zabini?"

"You tell your mother that was the most beautiful speech I have ever heard!" Zabini blubbered, reaching for the door handle. "Now wish me luck, mate, I'm going to get my woman back!"

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