Bathwater

Boycott the Bouncing Ferret

"Hermione!" Forgetting her soon-to-be husband at the entrance, Ginny pushed and shoved her way into the Great Hall like she was in the Quidditch pitch; with great force and causing others pain. Her eyes had zeroed in at the one person sitting in the Gryffindor table that she was seriously concerned for—especially if that person had stormed out of a lesson raving about.

Lowering her mouth onto a spoon-full of potatoes, Hermione didn't bother to look up from her plate when she casually said, "breath, Ginny. You'll overwhelm yourself."

"Are you mental?" Ginny disregarded her and slammed a palm on the table, startling a few First Year Gryffindors. "How could you just walk out like that?"

"Easy, actually," Hermione shrugged, "I moved my legs and they took me to the library."

The redhead rolled her eyes as Harry came from behind her, placing a calming hand on the small of her back. "You shouldn't have reacted that way, Hermione," Harry said sternly, sounding the way the brunette always did when she was about to scold him over the things he was doing wrong. "I know that the idea of," he leaned forward, whispering so the younger students would not hear, "marrying Malfoy is terrible, but you can't do anything about it. You said so yourself, we must obey the law." He took a seat next to Ginny.

"So, marry the enemy?" Hermione frowned at her best friend. "Is that really the solution, Harry? I think not." She pushed her plate forward. "I am not going to spend eternity with Malfoy. Don't you know what the legal bonds magical weddings consist of?" She pulled out a book from her schoolbag that rested by her feet. "This isn't like a muggle wedding, Harry. When they say 'til death do you part' they actually mean it. Look here!"

Sighing, Harry reached for the thick book Hermione was handing him. It was in cases like these that it was best to obey Hermione without retort before she started smacking you with her books. And everyone knows Hermione Granger isn't a light reader.

"Magical Weddings are the ultimate bond that can tie a witch and wizard together when performed. The ceremony ejects the core magic from the two participants, tying the two different essences to become one and unite the souls for all eternity. An unbreakable connected is then born." Harry's green eyes gazed up at his friend after reading the passage, an eyebrow raised. "So, no divorce?"

"Not unless you want to die," Hermione huffed, stuffing another spoon of mash-potatoes into her mouth. "And if it comes down to that point, I don't mind sacrificing Malfoy."

Ginny snorted. "You're being ridiculous, Hermione."

"That's rich," the brunette retorted, her eyes narrowing at the redhead. "So when you were protesting this Marriage Law it was all fair, and now that I do it it's ridiculous? Well how horrid of you, Ginevra—of both of you. So let me clarify something for you two, since you two don't seem to understand the dilemma." She stood from the bench, pulling the strap of her schoolbag over her shoulder. "Draco Malfoy and I have been enemies since we were eleven years-old. He has tried many times to make my life a living hell and curse me to my death. Now, I don't know what else can make me behave so ridiculously, but I don't want to marry a wizard who will try to poison me as an anniversary gift!"

That silenced Harry and Ginny right up. Neither said anything as she threw them another almighty frown, those famous, scolding, judging ones she was known for, and then spun on her heels to exit the Great Hall.

She was not being ridiculous. Hermione knew that much about this entire ordeal. She was always level-headed and knew when there were things that she couldn't change and she just needed to go along with them, but this could not—and will not—be one of them. She was always trying to follow the rules, to obey everything that was thrown at her, but if those rules were going to lead her into the arms of a convicted Death Eater, and her worst enemy, she was about to revolt. She wouldn't let her life be wasted away just so she could have tea with Lucius Malfoy and have a debate on how her blood was certainly not filthy because what a damn law and a Sorting Hat dictated.

She scoffed, already able to see a house-elf scrubbing the things she touched, disinfecting them because of what the real Masters would say. She was a Mudblood after all, and they would be trained to hate her, she knew it. And that was something she could not even begin to fathom: that one day she'd be the next Mistress Malfoy.

She really would've preferred Cormac right about now.

"Miss Granger." As Hermione turned the corner to head out to the grounds, a voice called from a classroom. "I'd like to have a few words with you."

Hermione cleared her throat uncomfortably. Her eyes danced around for a few milliseconds before she found the courage to look the woman in the face. "Forgive me, Headmistress, but I've an Astronomy lesson I really need to prepare for."

"Don't worry, Miss Granger, with your brains I'm sure you can do just fine without any preparing. Now, if you please, join me inside. I'd like a few words with you," McGonagall repeated sternly.

Hermione sighed. "Of course."

If the situation had to come down to her expulsion, she wondered if she would burst into tears of misery or happiness. Hogwarts did mean a lot to her, but she just couldn't do what they were demanding. Not unless they re-sorted her. But if that wasn't possible, then there was no choice. She would give up her magic.

A light bulb went off at the side of her head as an idea came to mind. She could declare herself a Squib! And maybe, with some persuasion, hand her magical essence to Filch with the promise that he will make Malfoy's life a living hell for her. (Now, that is something she could live with.)

"Firstly, Miss Granger, " the Headmistress motioned for her to take a seat on the nearby desk, "I would like to say that I am very disappointed in you. That was no way to behave and act towards a fellow classmate. Nor do I condone the way you disrupted a Ministry lesson, for that matter." She gave Hermione a hard look, one that she was so used to. "What seems to be the problem, Miss Granger? I was under the impression that you, being who you are specifically, could handle anything."

"You're marrying me off to Malfoy," Hermione pronounced every word carefully, sounding incredulous that she was being asked what the problem was. Was everyone honestly against her and her happiness? Did no one else see the disaster her unwanted engagement to Malfoy was?

"I'm aware of that that, Miss Granger; I was present at the sorting."

Hermione tried not to scowl at the professor. "I'm going to be direct with you, Headmistress: I will not marry Draco Malfoy. And if the price to pay is giving up my magic, I will do it to save my life from a fated doom."

"In other words," the Headmistress folded her hands on top of her desk, "you're a quitter." She watched as Hermione's jaw dropped slightly and her eyes filled with sudden tears at the harsh accusation. "Let me be direct with you, Miss Granger. I do personally think that you are being a quitter because you've a choice to make this work into your advantage and you choose not to. You're letting a few differences get in the way of your future marriage. I was under the impression you were all up for unity, Miss Granger. I strongly believe that the marriage between you and Mister Malfoy could have a potential to be revolutionary. Break the barriers that the war has left."

"…You want me to sacrifice myself?" Hermione mouthed with a few tears slipping. McGonagall's words hurt her more than she thought. The fact that the greatest witch she knew was telling her that she was a disappointment was enough for her own pride to decrease and wither.

"What exactly is the sacrifice, Hermione?" Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrow at her student. "The sacrifice you'd be making is giving up your magic. Something that made you grow and gave you all that you have now. You wouldn't be the Brightest Witch of the Age without magic.

"You wouldn't have Harry, Ron, Ginny or any other Weasley if it wasn't for magic. And if you're giving up, you are giving them up. Once the magic is ripped away from your essence you can never see them again. A muggle must not know the existence of the supernatural, hence they never existed for you—you never existed to them." She dropped her firm expression and replaced it with a motherly-stare. "Can you do that, Hermione? Can you give it all up because you refuse to try with Mister Malfoy?"

Hermione closed her burning eyes. Every memory she had in the Magical World began to play behind her close eyelids. She could see it all, feel and see them all. She could see herself, short and bushy-haired, stepping onto Platform Nine and Three-quarters for the first time; she could still remember the curiosity she felt upon seeing all the other students. She remembered her sorting, her first night, befriending Harry and Ron, their adventures. She could see herself being twirled by Viktor Krum during the Yule Ball, the kiss they shared, starting the D.A., Slughorn's Slug Club—she could see everything flash before her eyes.

"…No," she breathed. "I can't. I can't give it up." She could never imagine that everything she has gone through could be erased from her. To have seventeen years go blank and missing.

Professor McGonagall nodded, a small smile of relief appearing on her wrinkly expression. "Mister Malfoy," her voice was a bit higher now that she didn't sound so grave, "will you please come in here now?" Her bespectacled eyes looked to the entrance of her Transfiguration classroom.

Hermione inhaled deeply and turned to see a tall figure emerge into the classroom. His platinum-blonde hair contrasted from the hue of his robes and his silver eyes remained blank and hidden with the shadows of the room for a few moments until he was fully in light of the candles burning close to the desk that belonged to the professor.

"Now, I will leave you two alone for a few moments." The Headmistress began to stand from her chair. "You are to redo today's assignment from your Family Consumer lesson correctly. And I want to know that both of you have tried." She turned her small eyes to gaze at the Slytherin. "You will try, Mister Malfoy, because I will not have this conversation with you again. You are old enough to know what is best, don't be foolish." And that was all that was heard from her as she closed the door behind her.

Hermione sat in silence.

McGonagall had spoken to Malfoy already? About what? It had to be something entirely different because no Pureblood would ever give up their magic, right? Unless he was asking for the death penalty. And that would be lovely.

"We better get started." Draco conjured up a spare chair and screeched it to face Hermione and sat himself down smoothly. "I think I should go first, Granger." And the way he was speaking, the way he looked at her, the way he acted made her feel like she was being mocked. He was too casual, too indifferent compared to the infuriated boy that was shouting at her a few hours prior.

"Take your go then," she replied in a murmur.

He nodded. "Well, growing up I always wanted a sibling. It wasn't fun to be the only child in a giant mansion with only house-elves to play with."

Hermione bit the inside of her cheek and her eyes focused roughly on the tabletop. "When I was six I mentally scarred a boy in my muggle-school when I accidentally turned an animal book into life figures. A lion tried to claw him from inside of its pages."

Malfoy gave a small chuckle, and it wasn't due to the image. It was at the mention of the Mudblood in her muggle-school: one single little girl in a classroom with a group of insignificant others and she was the superior one. "As a child, I liked to climb the tallest trees and pretend I was a giant until—"

"Until your father mentioned it was a disgrace in being a half-breed?" The words slipped out of Hermione's mouth without thinking.

"No," Malfoy tried not to hiss. "I fell off of one of the branches and broke my arm. As a lesson, my father refused to fix my arm for two hours until I redeemed myself for breaking his rules."

"Oh." Hermione exhaled, feeling quite foolish. "Erm, well, my dad pulled out three of my teeth at the same time," she said awkwardly.

Malfoy laughed mockingly at that.

"Piss off," she grunted in return.

And seeing as her commented needed to be cancelled on, which would be the polite thing to do, he said, "my mother is the most important person in the world for me."

Her eyes widened slightly at his confession. And because she looked bewildered he was about to correct himself, she could tell, but she was not going to let him take it back. It was out there and it was the most human thing Malfoy had ever said. "I get it, your mother means a lot to you. No need to get all red about it. My mum's important for me as well…When I cast a memory charm on my parents last year, to keep them from harm, I went to look for them after the war was over and it hurt when I saw her….She didn't recognize who I was. Her brain never registered the fact that she had a daughter and that she was looking into her eyes...Knowing that the person that means the world to me didn't know who I was….was so heartbreaking."

Draco watched as the Gryffindor lowered her brown eyes back on the table, not really looking at him anymore. Her expression trying so hard to keep its pride, there was no crying in front of the enemy.

"You have a great upper-hand, Granger," he said quickly, not wanting this to be an emotional moment and make it more uncomfortable than what it already was. He was just her fiancée, not her shoulder to lean on or her barrel of secrets. "I was shocked when you slapped me in our Third Year, it left a bruise."

"It's all the writing." Hermione grinned, the memory of her palm colliding with Malfoy's cheek playing in her head. (Oh, she could have never given that away. She could still hear the SMACK. It was beautiful.) "I think that you made a very charming ferret."

His silver eyes grew annoyed at that, but his mouth was still pulled into a smirk. "And if the rumors are true, Granger, you made a perfect kitten in Second Year. Maybe you shouldn't be marrying me; you could give your fluffy beast a chance."

"Crookshanks is not a beast, Malfoy." Hermione frowned. "And it was Millicent Bullstrode's fault."

"Right." Malfoy rolled his silver eyes.

"Oh, fall off a tree, Malfoy," Hermione hissed.

"Anyway," Draco leaned against his chair, "my last fact before I can go back to my dormitory is this: I think we should try keeping it civil from now on."

"Because we have no choice?"

"That, and because it'll be better for both of us if we did," he explained further. "I don't want McGonagall tearing me out of my lessons, nor wasting my free time to scold me about this. Nothing's going to change, just like she said."

Hermione inhaled a little puff of air, watching him carefully. "I do hate you, Malfoy," she said sincerely, "you're vile and cruel, and I don't think there's an ounce of decency in you, but I suppose you're right. I'm not giving up my magic because of that."

Malfoy gave her a solemn nod. "So, do we have a deal?"

"As if we have another choice," the Gryffindor huffed, extending out her hand.

Draco Malfoy's eyes looked at the pink palm uncertainly. It was up to him, like McGonagall said, to make the most effort. If he wanted to have any chance of restoring his family's name and gain acceptance in the Wizardying World again he was going to have to learn to get along with the Know-it-all Granger.

"Don't think we are friends or anything, Granger." He shook her hand, trying not to let the warmth of it impact him.

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