Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters/concepts from it. I make no money from the writing/publishing of this story.
Draco fought the urge to let his leg bounce as he sat in the Ministry hallway with the other condemned. He forced his expression into one of patient calm as he straightened the cuff of his robe sleeve. The woman to his right started crying again and he inhaled deeply and rested his head against the wall.
"It will be alright, dear," someone tried to soothe the woman. Draco looked sideways at her as she blubbered harder.
"But what if I don't like him, mum? What if he's mean?" she asked miserably.
"They'll pair you with someone compatible," the mother said, failing to mask the doubt in her voice, "that's what they promised."
"This whole thing is outrageous!" the middle-aged man sitting across from Draco interrupted angrily. "Being a bachelor suits me just fine. And this girl," he pointed at the crying woman, "is barely an adult. How can the Ministry possibly think that it can suitably match her when she's not even done finding out who she is!?"
Draco stared at the man in solemn silence as the others did the same. Most of the hall's occupants surely agreed with the man, but what were they to do? There'd already been five appeals fought and lost in the Wizengamot. They'd already tried protesting. They'd already tried fighting it.
But the Marriage Law wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.
The man saw the defeat in the eyes that looked back at him and he merely shook his head and slumped back against the wall to continue awaiting his own fate. Draco cast his gaze to the door to his left and sighed.
He was next. He was about to meet with a Ministry official to see what woman they had assigned him as his wife.
The door suddenly swung open and Draco watched as a squat man dressed in Ministry robes stepped through and held it. He watched as Hermione Granger followed him out looking madder than a hornet. Draco's eyes caught sight of the bright blue parchment clutched in her hand and his heart jolted.
The Ministry only used blue parchment for arrest warrants.
"You have six weeks, Miss Granger," the official called out in warning as Hermione started down the hall, "six weeks to agree to your match or we WILL enforce that warrant for noncompliance."
Draco's eyes followed Hermione as she glared straight ahead and kept walking as if the man had said nothing. She disappeared through the door at the other end and the official shook his head slightly and then cleared his throat.
"Next," he said, looking blandly at those waiting.
Draco stood at once and calmly smoothed the front of his robes before following the man into the office past the door. The door to the small, windowless room clicked shut loudly and Draco fought the instinct to bolt like a trapped animal.
"Have a seat," the official said brusquely. Draco eyed the chair before the man's desk and slowly sat.
"Full name?" the man who had yet to introduce himself demanded.
"Draco Lucius Malfoy," Draco answered politely. He was silent then as the man rifled through a stack of files and pulled one.
"Malfoy," the official sighed heavily as he read over the file. "Well, Mr. Malfoy," he began unceremoniously, "under Ministry Law 8117, from here on referred to as 'The Law', you, being between the ages of seventeen and forty, are required to marry either a witch, a squib, or a Muggle that has at least one magical relative within four immediate generations. Under The Law, all citizens were allotted one calendar year to find the spouse of their choice. Your year has expired. Are you currently in a relationship with a suitable woman consenting to be your wife?"
"No," Draco answered flatly.
The official wrote something in the file and then flipped a page within it.
"Then, Mr. Malfoy, as you have not acquired a spouse of your choice, under section two of The Law, the Ministry, based on your compatibility matrices, has chosen one for you for the purpose of ensuring the repopulation of Wizarding Britain. Do you agree to comply with the Ministry's choice?"
Draco blinked at the man. "May I know my fiancée's name first?" he asked dryly. The man simply slid the file across the desk and pointed to a full-body ID photo of a young woman that was clipped to the top of it.
Draco took the file and looked down. The woman's image looked back at him shyly as he appraised her long orange-red hair, slim, pale figure, and aqua-blue eyes.
"Moira Agnes Fitzgerald?" Draco said quietly with a raised brow. The official nodded.
"Irish. Half-blood. Twenty. Home schooled. N.E.W.T. level competency," he droned informatively. "Speaks English, Gaelic, and French."
"I don't speak Gaelic," Draco said even as he gave an impressed hum to the picture and then proceeded to nonchalantly thumb through the rest of his file. The man snatched the file back with an annoyed grunt. Draco simply settled back into his chair and folded his hands in his lap.
"What if I don't consent?" he asked.
The official pushed his glasses back up his nose. "Then pursuant to subsection 212 of The Law, you will be held in noncompliance."
"And what is the penalty for noncompliance?" Draco asked seriously, his mind going back to the look on Hermione's face when she'd left.
"The confiscation and destruction of your wand as well as lifetime bans on owning, borrowing or using a wand and performing wandless magic. You will also be re-Traced."
Draco glanced at the stack of blue parchments on the left side of the desk and then stared back at the man.
"I lied when I said I didn't already have a consenting woman to marry," he said.
The official's brows rose into his scalp. "Is that so?" he asked suspiciously.
"Yes," Draco said with a smile. "I only said 'no' because I was curious who you'd pair me with."
The man looked livid, but merely reopened Draco's file. "And who exactly is the future Mrs. Malfoy?" he demanded curtly as he began to scribble again in the file.
Draco casually inspected his cuticles as he answered. "Hermione Jean Granger."
The man's quill scratched to a halt in his hand and he looked back up over his glasses. "The same Hermione Granger that just left this office after informing me that she did not, in fact, have a chosen spouse?"
Draco smirked. "The same. We had a bet, you see. She thought the Ministry would pair us together. I, on the other hand, believe the Ministry to be too incompetent to actually choose suitable pairs. Looks like I won."
The official's eye twitched as he stared back at Draco. He was silent for a moment and then pulled the topmost file from a stack to his right and opened it. He scribbled within it as he had Draco's and then reached into a drawer to pull one large parchment and two smaller ones.
Draco watched curiously then as the man wrote furiously on all three.
"You have six weeks from today to legally marry," he said irritably, thrusting the largest parchment out first when he was done.
Draco reached forward and took it. A smug look graced his face as he read the marriage license with his and Hermione's names upon it.
"And you have one week to pay these," the man added, holding out the smaller parchments.
"What's this?" Draco asked as he took them.
The man's face looked as smug as Draco's had only a moment before. "Your thousand galleon fine for lying to a Ministry official. You can bring Miss Granger hers as well."
Draco frowned slightly as he eyed the tickets in his hands.
"Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials," the man said with a tight smile and a nod at the door for Draco to leave. Draco stood and stuffed the three parchments into his pocket. Without a word or look back, he went to the door and opened it as the man behind him yelled out, "Next!"
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
"Don't even talk to me," Hermione scowled as Draco stepped out of her Floo, "don't you say a word."
Draco smirked at her. "That was a lovely little blue parchment in your hand earlier, Granger," he taunted, "not happy with the husband a random stranger picked out for you?"
Hermione huffed as she crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. Draco shrugged and pulled the marriage license from his pocket.
"Too bad for you. I, on the other hand, was paired with a young, fiery little number. I hope she enjoys long holidays in the Caribbean and naming children after constellations, because she'll be doing both in less than six weeks," he said as he peered greedily down at the parchment.
"What!?" Hermione nearly shrieked, turning her head to look at him with widened eyes. "You…you…" she blinked at the parchment in his hands and then looked up at his face. "Draco?" she whispered hesitantly.
Draco frowned at her. "'You know, I'm not sure which upsets me more," he said, "the fact that you'd actually think I'd just off and marry some strange bint or that my future wife is so gullible."
He turned the license around and held it up for her to read. "Honestly," he teased, "you're supposed to be clever."
Hermione narrowed her eyes at the parchment and then snatched it from his hand.
"That was not funny," she grumbled even as she started to smile at the license. "You are such an utter prat."
"Does that mean you don't want to marry me? Well, hell, I'd better get back down there and tell them not to give my match away. She was really fit."
Hermione smacked him in the shoulder. He laughed as he rubbed at it. "And probably less abusive," he added.
Hermione made a sulky face and Draco tugged her into a hug and jiggled her slightly.
"Don't even pretend that you don't know that I quite literally adore the pants off you," he said as he nipped at her ear. Hermione rested her head on his shoulder.
"You didn't always," she sighed.
Draco gave her a squeeze. "Well you were annoying."
"And you were a spoiled jerk," she answered back.
"Still am," Draco grinned, moving his hands down to pinch her arse. Hermione eeped and shoved at him. He chuckled as he took the step back from her and Hermione held the license back up to admire it again.
"I can't believe you got it," she said, slightly awed. She glanced up at him. "You didn't Imperius him did you?"
"Didn't need to," Draco shrugged. "I just told him you were my choice and he wrote it up."
Hermione's face morphed into a scowl. "Just like that? He just went on your word that I was consenting?"
"This surprises you? They're forcing people to get married to complete strangers and you think this is a big deal?" he asked sincerely.
Hermione sighed heavily. "This whole marriage law business is archaic and unfair on so many levels." She swallowed hard as she rubbed her fingers over the edges of the license in her hands. "I should feel guilty."
Draco stepped back up to her and raised her face with his hand to her chin. "Don't you dare," he said sternly. "You didn't make the law."
"No, but we're using it for our own happiness when others are surely suffering because of it."
"There is nothing we can do about the law," Draco said as his eyes roamed over her face. "It's been appealed to death and the 'gamot's not budging. Would you rather just go along with it and marry your assigned match?"
Hermione shuddered. "Gods, no," she breathed dramatically as she set the license on a table just behind her. She looked helplessly up at Draco. "I…I just…"
"I know," he interrupted, pulling her into a hug again. "I know the law is terrible and wrong, but without it…"
"We couldn't be together," Hermione finished for him. Draco nodded against her.
"We tell everyone we were assigned to each other. That way my father can't cut us off and your friends can't shun you. The records are sealed from the public so no one will ever know that we weren't really matched."
"Which is rubbish," Hermione pouted. Draco let himself grin again.
"You should have known better than to think that a government backwards enough to assign mates in the first place could possibly make decent pairings."
"The pairing criteria seemed sound," Hermione said disappointedly. She shook her head. "That is, until they assigned me to Zacharias Smith."
Draco snorted. "He was a dick."
Hermione glared at him. "Understatement. You know, I think I hated him more than you."
"That makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, Granger," Draco quipped sarcastically. Hermione jabbed him playfully in the ribs and he laughed.
"So, who'd they give you?" Hermione asked, poking him again. Draco wriggled a little at her prodding and then sneered.
"A Weasley knock-off," he muttered. Hermione pulled back and cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Some Irish tart. She speaks Gaelic…and French. That Ministry arsehole made sure I knew that like that was some kind of fucking bonus." Draco shook his head disapprovingly.
"She might've been nice," Hermione offered with a half shrug.
"I don't want 'nice'," he growled, gripping his arms tight around her middle again. He leaned his forehead against hers. "I want feisty and smart-mouthed and stubborn."
Hermione closed her eyes and made a contented whimpering sound and Draco moved his hands down to her thighs and lifted her in one fluid movement to sit on the table behind her. He cupped her face in his hands and she opened her eyes to see him gazing down at her.
"I want beautiful," he added as he placed a soft kiss to the left side of her jaw, "and I want brave." He kissed her right side. "And I want to see my father choke when he sees you on my arm." He set his lips to hers and she melted into his embrace.
"No more hiding," Hermione sighed as Draco trailed kisses from her mouth down to her neck.
"Never again," he whispered into her pulse point. Hermione shivered and Draco grinned satisfactorily. He pulled back suddenly and Hermione moaned in protest until she saw him kneel down between her legs and reach into his inner robe pocket.
"And now I can finally give you this," he said, holding up a ring box to her. He opened it and Hermione gasped with a hand to her chest.
"Draco…" she whispered as she looked down at the gorgeously glinting platinum and diamond ring nestled in the box.
"Will you marry me, Hermione… and spare me the unfortunate fate of a household full of little ginger brats?"
Hermione clucked her tongue at him and he merely batted his eyes obnoxiously.
"You are terrible," she sighed with an adoring smile. Draco gave her an exaggerated pout and Hermione rolled her eyes. "Of course I will marry you. I didn't spend the last two years sneaking around and lying to everyone for nothing."
Draco grinned like a fool as he stood back up. "This is going to be so much fun," he said as he pulled the ring from the box and slipped it lovingly over her finger.
"I don't doubt," Hermione replied as she briefly admired the ring on her hand and then ran her fingers through Draco's tousled blond strands to pull his head forward for another kiss. The innocent peck quickly deepened and they soon found themselves panting, ruffled and pawing at each other.
"Bedroom?" Hermione asked as she released Draco's bottom lip from between her teeth. He gave an affirmative growl and hoisted her into his arms bridal style.
"You do still need to make good on your wager," Draco said with an impish leer as he carried her up a set of stairs. "You lost the bet."
Hermione smirked at him. "Then I suppose it's a good thing we're moving to the bedroom. The carpet will be much easier on my knees."
Draco groaned desirously as he reached the landing. "Smith has no idea how much he should loathe me right now," he said, bringing Hermione into the bedroom and laying her gently upon the bed.
"Oh, just shut up and make me pay-up already," Hermione breathed at him lustfully. Draco turned a feral look to her as he quickly shucked off his robes.
"Oh, don't worry, love," he said, crawling up to straddle her, "we have a lifetime now to settle our debts to each other."
Hermione swooned at that and Draco ducked his head down to lick at her neck.
"We only have a week to pay our two-thousand galleon fines, however," he whispered against her skin. Hermione startled and pushed at his chest.
Draco chuckled. "That Ministry flunky fined us for lying to him. The fucker actually looked smug when he handed me the tickets."
Hermione frowned slightly. "I didn't think we'd get in trouble."
Draco shrugged as he descended back down to nuzzle his nose into her breast. "It's just a fine," he said. "We could pay it a thousand times over."
"Still...trouble," she moaned back as Draco lightly bit her nipple through her shirt.
"Yes...you are still in trouble," he replied huskily, looking up and grinding his pelvis against her.
"Merlin, I hate you," Hermione sighed blissfully.
Draco smiled wide. "I hate you too."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this marriage law with a twist. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! :)