For this story, there are 3 people to thank: kaze senju the wolf warriorgirl for getting me hooked on the show, Say Yes to The Dress. aarroyo715 for coming up with the name, Draconisa. And innocentlittledarkangel for the hilarious quote
The Hunt for Bridal Perfection
Bright, blindingly and obnoxiously bright, early-morning sunlight poured from the wide windows of the master bedroom, casting a beautiful glow on the blonde sleeping in the large poster bed, her bare body tangled in the cream-white sheets, platinum-blonde hair spilling across the pillows. She was almost the perfect vision of radiance if not for the dark scowl turning her lips as she raised a hand over her face to protect herself from the harsh rays.
Goddamn sunlight, she cursed. Grumbling under her breath, she rolled onto her left side, turning her back to the sun.
Her fingers reached out for her favorite pillow, needing its warmth and comfort. Sleepy, gray eyes slowly cracked open when she noticed how far it was from reach. Then widened in alarm when she saw her favorite pillow wasn't only out of reach, but wasn't even on the bed.
Where is that prat? She rose from the bed, wrapping the sheets around herself.
Almost as if summoned by magic, said-prat/missing favorite pillow walked through their bedroom door, carrying a tray of food.
"Morning." Harry greeted.
"Hmm." She wiped the sleep from her eyes, wincing at the thick layers of crust her fingers scraped. "I don't know why you love those curtains," She gestured towards the thin, sheer red flimsy material. "They barely do anything."
Harry shrugged with a smile on his face and joined her on the bed. "Maybe I like how you look in the sunlight. You look so cute."
"Prat." She swatted his arm. "I've told you time and time again: Malfoys are not cute. Breathtaking? Certainly. Irresistible? Of course. Beautiful? Naturally. But never-I repeat never-cute."
"Perhaps you're the expectation, love." The prat actually had the nerve to smirk at her as if she were some kitten.
She swatted his arm again, a bit harder. "Remind why I tolerate you."
"I brought breakfast."
Interested, she looked down at the tray. A fresh-baked croissant with raspberry jam, egg benedict, a bowl of green grapes, and a cup of chamomile tea, her favorite.
"I take it back," She plucked a grape into her mouth. "I think I'll keep you, Potter."
"Well that's a relief to hear, soon-to-be Mrs. Malfoy-Potter."
Despite herself, a smile spread across her face.
Malfoy-Potter. Mrs. Malfoy-Potter. Future Draconisa Lyra Malfoy-Potter. She would never get tired of hearing that.
Humming happily to herself, she laid her head on her fiancé's shoulder, inhaling the familiar cinnamon and tart scent that woke her better than a cup of coffee.
"By the way your mother called," Harry said. "She said you should be ready around eleven. She booked the appointment at noon."
Trust the wedding organizer to be on top of things. The moment she came to the manor with the simple but still beautiful five-carat engagement ring on her finger, her mother wasted no time ordering the house-elves to bring thousands of wedding catalogues to her.
"And she asked me to pass this message onto you," he added. "She said and I quote 'Nisa, darling, do try to go easy on the consultants.'" An amused twinkle sparked in his beautiful emerald-green eyes. "Do I even want to know how the last appointment went?"
She shrugged, taking a bite of the croissant. "I simply had a few choice words for the consultants."
"A few?" His left brow arched suspiciously.
She took another bite of her croissant.
Her long, drawn-out silence created a series of possible scenarios in his head, each one more horrifying but hilarious than the last. If there was one thing Harry was sure of, it was most likely the appointment ended in tears. He was positive, though, not a single one came from Nisa.
"Can you promise me something?" Gray eyes peered up curiously at him. "Please try not to bite off any heads for this appointment, Nisa. Be nice to the workers. They're only doing their job."
"I'm perfectly nice." she argued.
Both brows arched suspiciously.
"When I want to be," she said. Harry let out a small snort, which he got swatted for. "And if those consultants do their job right, they'll see how perfectly nice I can be. After all, we Malfoys are nothing if not charming."
But only when they wanted to be. No one knew that better than Harry himself who experienced both sides of that infamous charm. One that made Nisa Malfoy the bane of his existence during the seven years they were in school together, and the other that made him fell deeper and deeper in love with her during the two years they've been together.
However just because he was accustomed to the Malfoy charm doesn't mean the consultants would be. Harry already guessed from Nacrissa's message and the numbers of appointments they've already been to, the consultants were going to need luck. And a lot of it.
Merlin help them all, he thought.
Intimidating. That was the first thought that came to the young consultant as she came into the store's lobby and saw her group. She started from least to most.
At the far right end of the couch was a blonde who appeared the youngest out of the group with her childlike eyes that were a startling shade of blue, glazed with a dreamy expression, which was the perfect match for her serene smile as she stared out into space. What drew the consultant's attention to the girl was the pair of bright, big sun earrings she wore.
Next to the dreamy-eyed blonde was a brunette with her brown hair pulled back. Even though the consultant was sure the girl was younger than her, there was a spark of maturity in her eyes that made her seem older.
The two appeared friendly-enough. The same couldn't be said for the other ladies on her left.
On the far left was another brunette, this one with darker hair that was cut in a ear-length bob, and an odd pug-face that wasn't pretty per say but did draw attention. Next to her was a stunning blonde who couldn't be older than her early forties who had a pair of ice-blue eyes that seemed to frown more and more around as they glanced around the lobby, taking in their inventory.
In the center of the group was a young woman who was the younger version of the previous blonde. Platinum-blonde hair tumbled down her shoulders, gleaming from the bright light. Large, cool gray eyes silted slightly as they looked up at her, assessing her from head to toe and not the least impressed with what she was seeing. A face that was prominent with sharp features such as her cheekbones and chin but was also soft and delicate, which altogether made the most beautiful girl she had ever seen.
If the dictionary used pictures for definitions, she would be the ideal model for intimidating. Or ice-queen.
The consultant resisted the urge to fix her hair to make sure every strand was in place. She fought to keep her hand still instead of giving into the urge to wipe the sweat off on her black skirt.
"Hello, welcome to Kleinflield's," she greeted them warmly. "I'm Amber. Who's my bride?"
Four pairs of eyes turned over to the blonde sitting in the middle, the one who was the perfect match description for ice-queen. A smirk turned her thin, red-coated lips, amplifying her ice-queen nature.
"That would be me," she said. "Draconisa Malfoy."
She didn't offer her hand and Amber didn't ask for it. She was stuck on the name.
Nisa wasn't the least bit surprised to see the consultant's eyes widen slightly at her name. It was a initial reaction even in the wizard world.
"People usually call her Nisa," Piped the dreamy blonde at the right. "It's less of a breath-stealer."
"If I deem fit." The soon-to-be bride corrected.
Definite ice-queen, Amber thought, keeping her smile calm and steady. "Alright. Okay. So who did you bring with you?"
Starting from the left, she said "My best friend, Pansy. My mother, Narcissa. Lovegood and Granger."
"Granger-Weasley, thank you," the brunette snapped, glaring at the blonde. She turned to Amber and offered her a smile. "I'm Hermione."
"I'm Luna." The other girl said.
Amber wished one of them was her brides instead. They didn't seem like that they were picky.
"And you're friends of the bride?" It didn't seem likely judging from the hostility between Hermione and Nisa, but still didn't hurt to ask.
"More so of the groom." Hermione corrected.
"We're here to be Harry's eyes." Luna cheerfully announced.
So Nisa-excuse her, Draconisa-wanted the fiancé's approval? That was sweet. With that in mind, Amber asked "How far is your wedding?"
"Seven months." The cool stare melted as a smile, one that soft but dreamy in a loving way, touched her lips as she looked down at the princess-cut diamond engagement ring on her finger. The smile softened her features, making her look more beautiful.
That left room for plenty of options. "And where will the wedding take place?"
"In my mother's gardens," she answered. "It was my favorite place in the world as a child, and my fiancé loves it."
"And have you done dress-shopping before?"
Her soft, almost-dreamy smile turned secretive as she toyed with her ring. Meanwhile, half of her entourage wore the same smile such as her mother while the other half, like Hermione, wore frowns instead.
Amber decided to take those gestures as yes, multiple yeses. "Well how many have you tried on? Ten?"
A slim, dark eyebrow arched as the bride looked up at her.
"Twenty?" Amber guessed.
The mother pressed her fingers against her lips as if she were trying to hide her smile.
Pansy barely held onto her snicker, letting it out.
Luna shook her head. Hermione glanced down at the beige-colored rug as if it was the most fascinating thing in the world.
Sweat began to gather on Amber's brow.
"Darling," Narissa called to Nisa. "Don't antagonize the poor girl."
"But it's so much fun." she smirked. Whatever game she was playing, she clearly was enjoying it. Then she looked into her mother's eyes, and something in them made Nisa sigh heavily before she turned back to the consultant. Without hesitation, she said "I've been to every single bridal shop in London."
"And dozens in Paris." Pansy added.
"And dozens of more in Milan." Hermione dryly remarked.
Unfazed, Nisa answered "Altogether, I've been to three hundred stores."
Amber's jaw kissed the group.
It was one thing for a bride to try on dozens of dresses. Fifty was a stretch but it has happened before. She even heard of brides trying almost all the dresses a store had to offer before finding what she did or didn't like. She had worked with a few brides who've been through two or three stores. But in her five years working as a wedding-dress consultant, she never heard of a bride going through three hundred stores in search of a dress.
She didn't even think it was possible.
"Three hundred stores?" she croaked in disbelief. "And you didn't find a dress you liked?"
"If I did, would I be here?" Nisa snapped.
"There's no need to be rude." Hermione scolded.
"And there's no need for idle questions yet one managed to be slipped in."
Hermione scowled at her.
Amber knew from the moment she saw her bride, it was going to be a tough appointment. Now she saw it was going to be a challenge. "Is there a certain way you want to look?"
"Mesmerizingly breathtaking." she answered.
"So is there any style you're a fan of? Like mermaid? Tulle? Princess?"
"I'm a fan of anything that isn't cheap or hideous."
Maybe the appointment wouldn't be a complete nightmare since budget wasn't an issue.
"Okay, let's go shopping."
While Narcissa and the others were led to the inner room to wait, Nisa was taken to the fitting room. She couldn't contain the wrinkle that creased her nose as she stepped in; thinking the off-white shade was a dull color.
She took a seat, crossing her legs, and faced the girl.
"So I already know you want to look breathtaking-"
"Mesmerizingly breathtaking." she corrected.
"Right," the consultant nodded. "I've talked to your entourage. Your best friend thinks you should do fit and flare to show off your figure. Your mother thinks ballgown would be lovely. Luna said something about a fragment of a dream…" She frowned slightly in confusion.
Only Lovegood. Nisa shook her head, rolling her eyes. It had taken nearly forever for her to understand the girl's strange ways and though she was still wary of half of things she said and did, Nisa no longer questioned them.
"And Granger? What did she have to say?" Knowing the girl, it was most likely a mouthful.
"She and Luna are speaking for your fiancé correct?" Nisa nodded. "She said it should be simple but elegant."
That sounded like Granger. Actually, that sounded more like Harry.
"So tell me about your fiancé. What's he like?"
Nisa tried to maintain her cool, calm façade but she couldn't suppress the small, affectionate sigh that slipped past her lips as she thought about the loveable prat.
Deciding that showing was better than telling, she grabbed hold of the locket hanging from her neck, a sterling-crystal heart which Harry had given her for their one-year anniversary. It was cheesy, but then again so was their first date, which was a picnic at the park and she loved it just the same. She unclasped the locket and revealed the picture inside taken of them at the Halloween ball the Ministry held. She was dressed in a gorgeous gold gown with a black laced mask. Harry was beside her, dressed in a sharp suit she picked out for him, with his arm around her waist, looking at her like she was the most beautiful person in the world. It was a still picture instead of a moving one, but it was a good one. And also one of her favorites.
"Oh my," Amber leaned in to get a better look. "He's quite handsome."
"I know." she smiled.
"What's he like?"
"Impulsive," That was the first word to come to mind. "Too casual and laidback for my taste but he makes up for it in other ways. Prefers simple things whereas I'm a firm believer in quality."
"But he's good to you, right?" Amber asked. "Treats you like a princess?"
"A queen." A hint of smugness touched her smile.
"And you love him?"
"Without a doubt in my mind." Nisa ran a finger against Harry's profile. Perfectly imperfect. And he was all hers.
Amber excused herself to get a few dresses. Nisa exchanged the white and gray strapped knee-length dress she came in for the dusk blue robe she was given. While she was waiting, she stared at the picture. As soon as she was sure no one was approaching, she waved her hand and the still became animated. Harry, still looking up at her in wonder, tangled his fingers in her hair and pulled her into a sweet kiss that her smiling then as it now as she watched it.
Harry Potter was intriguing; there was no doubt about it. She knew it from hearing the tale of the Boy Who Lived she requested for her mother to tell her over and over again. She knew it during their school years together as rivals, hating (or at least extremely resenting) his guts with a passion but always wanting-no needing-those emerald-greens to be focused on her. She knew it when she came across him in a coffee shop exactly three years after the war and looked into those stunning eyes, seeing Auror-training had done wonders on him and understanding why people said there was a fine line between hate and love.
It was a really interesting few years if not occasionally challenging with the media flashing a harsh light on them whenever they were spotted, but in the end she had him. She had him and she planned to keep him forever. It was one of the reasons why she was picky about her wedding dress. She didn't want good. She didn't want pretty. She didn't even want beautiful. She wanted perfection from the top of the bodice to the end of the hem. A dress that would complete the puzzle. A dress that would make heads turn and jaws dropped. More importantly, a dress that would make Harry's heart stop and remind him he picked the perfect bride.
Her thoughts darkened a bit, tied with annoyance, as her mind drifted back to the conversation they had this morning, him asking her to be mindful with the consultants. Which brought to mind the conversation she had with her entourage when they flooed to New York City.
"I cannot believe we are actually resorting to using a Muggle-store." The idea was so astonishing, she nearly shuddered.
Granger, who somehow someway convinced them to come to the store, caught sight of the near-shudder and scowled at her. "I'll have you know both Muggles and witches buy their wedding dresses here."
She snorted, causing the girl's scowl to deepen.
"It's true, darling," Mother said, eyes glancing at the dresses on the display windows. "I believe a fashion editor from the Prophet did an article on it. She was quite impressed with what she saw." Her eyes were glued to a bright ivory tulle-skirted number. "I have to say she wasn't far off."
Granger waved her hand over to her mother in a you-see gesture. Nisa rolled her eyes.
"I'll be the judge of that."
"Hopefully your judge instincts will be more open-minded for this store."
"I'm hoping this will be the last store we go to," Pansy said. "I don't know how much more I can take of this."
How much she could take of this? Did Pansy need a reminder on who the bride was? "I'm the one who's been trying on dresses."
"And you're the one who's rejected every single dress she tried on. All ten thousand of them."
"More like fifty thousand." Granger murmured.
Nisa glared at her.
"I think you cast that many tear-clouds over the consultants," Lovegood said. "I think it caused a few to quit their jobs after the storm cleared."
She rolled her eyes. "If they did job right, there would be no problem."
"The problem wasn't them," Granger argued. "It's you. You're too picky."
"I am not picky!" she snapped. "I am a perfectionist."
"Impossible would be the word most of the consultants used."
"The ones from the last dozen stores thought the same." Lovegood said.
"Then they're imbeciles." Her words caused not one but two eye-rolls, an amused smile, and a headshake with a small smile attached.
Last she checked it wasn't a crime wanting to find the perfect wedding dress. She supposed she could have simply gone to a designer to have them create the dress themselves. It was what Mother did for her wedding. But she wanted the full wedding experience, and that included searching store after store for the right dress. It made it more worthwhile. Mother loved the idea, thinking it would be an interesting challenge. Pansy was puzzled but onboard, fulfilling her duty as maid of honor. Granger and Lovegood were surprised by her invitation, but accepted it.
Three hundred stores and thousands of dresses later, their previous excitement and willingness dampened to exhaustion and impatience. Lovegood was starting to get tired. Granger thought she was being stubborn on purpose. Pansy practically winced at the color white. Even Mother, who was cautious on what she wore and an even bigger shopaholic, thought that going to a designer would be better. She even said out in the lobby that they would use that approach if she didn't find anything here.
Amber came back to the room with a bright smile and dozens of dresses. "Okay, so since you said you're fair game for anything, I thought we'd try different styles. I found this fun feathery one that would look stunning with your-"
"No?" Amber repeated. "To the feathery one?"
"To all of them," Nisa said. "None are my style, none impress me, and quite frankly they look cheap."
Amber blinked, then blinked again. "Didn't you say you don't have a particular style in mind?"
"I did and I don't. What I do know is none of those are it. Take it back."
"Okay." The consultant drawled, grabbing both by the hangers and taking them back to the stock-room.
Honestly, Nisa rolled her eyes.
That was just a taste of what was to come. For the next hour and a half, Nisa remained seated, still in her robe, glancing or studying every dress Amber brought it, then dismissing it with a wave of her hand without even trying it on.
"That one seems the less hideous of the two." She pointed to an ivory dress with black beading.
Figuring that they were finally getting somewhere, Amber asked "Would you like to try it on?"
Jaw locked tight, Amber left.
Nisa was surprised that she returned with only dress instead of several. Did I exhaust their stock that fast?
Amber saw the suspicion in her eyes and said "I decided to go with your friend Pansy's idea of fit and flare. I saw this and thought it would be perfect for you. It's lovely, has a nice lace detail, and that simple elegance your fiancé would like it."
Nisa studied the material. The material didn't appear cheap-looking. The color a fresh shade of white. The lace-detail interesting. "It's not hideous."
"Do you want to try it on?"
After starting at it a minute longer, Nisa shrugged. Amber wasted no time pulling the dress from the wrapping and placing it on her.
Nisa stared at her reflection. The dress clung onto her body like a second skin from head to toe, showing off her slender figure. The neckline was a V-shaped. The lacing of the sleeves weren't bad. Turning to the right, she saw it was backless.
"Do you want to show them?"
Well, she needed to make sure they hadn't fallen asleep. "Fine."
Just as Nisa suspected, they were practically dozing off. But at the sound of her footsteps, they looked up, watching her step onto the stool.
"Oh wow." Luna said.
"How about you turn around for them?" Amber suggested.
Nisa complied, turning away from her reflection in the three-way mirror over to her entourage.
"It is nice." Narissa said.
"It shows off your figure nicely." Pansy smiled.
Too nicely. Nisa glanced at the right side, practically seeing her hip-bone.
"And it's elegant." Hermione mused.
"I don't like it." Nisa declared.
Smiles fell as eyes looked over to the bride who had a dark frown on her face as she looked in the mirror.
"You don't like it?"
"Does your job description include acting as an echo or is that a charming perk of yours?"
"There's no need to be rude." Hermione scolded.
"Okay, help me out here," Amber said. "What is it you don't like about the dress?"
"First off, it's a killer on my body."
Amber stared at her in shock. Behind her looks and frowns of puzzlement and annoyance were drawn on the women's faces. "What are you talking about? It hugs your body so-"
"Tightly," Nisa cut in. "I can barely walk in this thing. I would have to take tiny steps to walk down the aisle. And I'm not sure what weddings you have attended, but when a bride wants to have that bright glow she doesn't want it to be sweaty."
Hermione groaned, tilting her head back.
"So the problem with the dress is that it's too tight?"
Must this woman repeat everything she said? "No, that's not the only problem," Nisa told her. "It's also boring."
It was the second time in the appointment Amber's jaw kissed the ground.
Hermione must have felt some of the girl's shock, and her echoing trait, repeating "Boring?"
"Boring," Nisa confirmed. "The lace seems to be the only interesting thing about this dress, and I don't like lace. It's too old-fashion for my taste."
On the couch Pansy groaned. Hermione rolled her eyes, annoyed.
"Alright. Okay. Let's try again."
Nisa followed the consultant back to the dressing room.
"Are you okay with trying more fit and flare?"
"As long as they're not too tight and boring."
Taking that as a blessing, Amber hunted for more dresses and minutes later came back with more samples. Nisa rejected close to thirteen dresses before she selected one worthy enough to be placed on her body. An ivory fitted dress that was a bit more freer than the last one she tried on with ruched detailing on the bodice, a unique trim-flounced skirt, alabaster and crystal encrusted detailing on the thick straps and at the key-hole back with a chapel train.
Nisa's eyes narrowed slightly when Amber told her that the skirt was double horsehair trim-flounced, but didn't say anything, which the consultant took as a good thing.
Pansy's eyes light up when Nisa marched out in the dress. "That's really pretty. Like amazingly pretty."
"The crystals are a nice touch." Narcissa said.
"This is a Hayley Paige," Amber said. "It's fitted with just a bit of princess." She gestured at the flounced skirt. "With just enough detail that's not overpowering the dress or the bride."
"It's gorgeous." A smile broke across Nacrissa's face.
Amber beamed, proud to be getting the mother's approval.
"I say yes," Hermione said. "It's beautiful, it's simple. It's you."
"I don't like it."
Narcissa's smile faltered a bit but she didn't seem surprised by her daughter's pickiness. Same went for Luna who continued to smile but shook her head once, unsurprised. The brunettes, on the other hand, let out frustrated groans simultaneously, one pressing her fingers against her temple, the other dropping her head onto her hand.
Amber bit her lip to hold back a groan. When she was sure it passed, she spoke. "What is about this dress you don't like? It's looser than the other one so walking shouldn't be a problem. The alabaster and crystal detailing keep it from being plain. The straps are interesting. And quite frankly you look amazing in it."
Nisa wasn't swayed, frowning at her reflection. "I don't like the straps. They're too thick. Also horsehair?" Her nose wrinkled. "The entire way down the aisle, I'll be thinking I have the animal on me."
Amber stared at her. "You are aware that you're not exactly wearing the animal right? That horsehair is just the name of the design and nothing more?"
"You are aware I don't care, right? I don't like it."
Biting her lip, Amber let the stubborn bride back to the fitting room, where she put her into another dress. This one a silvery organza-skirted mermaid with a sweetheart neckline that showed a hint of cleavage and rhinestone detailing on the bodice.
The dress was pretty on the hanger and looked ten times better on the bride, who agreed to try it on after examining it for a minute. However, it was a bit of a struggle to tie up the dress.
Nisa hissed as the consultant yanked hard on the lace. "Watch it!"
"Sorry," Amber apologized. "I want to make sure the laces are done right and tight. So the dress can give your body the perfect fit."
"If you pull this dress any tighter, my intestines will pop out of my mouth."
Choosing to ignore that, Amber continued to yank and tie. When she was finally done, she stepped back and stood beside Nisa. "So?"
"Do you like it?"
"Not really. I'm not fond of the color."
"I can get it for you in white."
"I'm not fond of the design."
Groaning to herself, Amber helped her out of the dress. For the next dress, she decided to try a different mermaid, one that was indeed white with ruched detailing and only a bit of rhinestone at the top right and a clasp on the side.
The entourage was impressed with the choice, smiling as she came out to model the dress for them.
"I love it," Hermione beamed. "It's elegant and simple."
"It's boring." Nisa stated.
Boring? "It's subtle." Amber told her.
"Which is another word for boring."
"Even with the rhinestones?"
"What rhinestones? There's barely any. It looks half-finished," Nisa pointed to the rhinestone detail on the top left. "I don't like this. It's like I'm inviting everyone to look at my breast."
"Not like there's much to look at." Pansy snickered, moving a jab at her B-cup size.
The glare Nisa aimed at her ceased the laughter in a second.
"I think it's amazing," Hermione protested. "Very fashion-forward."
"You and I have different ideas of fashion, Granger."
Before a fight could break out, Amber took her back to the fitting room. Since Nisa said the dress didn't have enough detail, Amber brought out an ivory A-line with rhinestones embedded from the sweetheart neckline to the hem.
"What do you think of this?"
Nisa looked up from her nails over to the consultant, eyeing the dress from head to toe. "No."
Amber bristled. "You said you wanted more sparkle."
Nisa's nose wrinkled in distaste. She hated the word sparkle. It sounded too…cutesy, and she was in no way a cutesy girl. Or someone who would be attached to the word. "I said more would be better. I didn't say I want I look like broken city lights."
"Okay," Amber took in a deep breath. "Let's try this again."
The next dress she brought in was another sparkly one: an ivory sweetheart-neckline with gold sparkled all over the bodice to the hips, where it broke off into interesting patterns down the skirt.
"It's interesting." Nisa shrugged.
Silently sighing in relief, Amber suggested that she should try it on. Nisa shrugged again. It wasn't an enthusiastic response, but Amber took what she was given.
The dress was simply breathtaking on her. The skirt flared out with just enough drama, the gold practically exploded from the dress, and it showed off her figure without clinging onto her.
"You look stunning." Amber told her.
Nisa didn't comment. She was busy studying her reflection.
"Do you want to show your mom and friends?"
Amber gestured for her to go first and followed closely behind, sending a silent prayer that they finally found the dress.
"I love the gold."
"This is from the Rami Kadi fall-winter collection. It has that dreamy feel which you wanted," Amber smiled at Luna. "Form-fitting at the bodice, flare at the bottom. The gold gives it a real nice touch."
"Like a fairy-tale." Luna said.
"What do you think of the dress, darling?" Narcissa asked.
Nisa turned to the mirror, turning left, then right.
She didn't blurt out a comment right away, which meant she didn't immediately spot out a flaw, which born the possible hope there was no flaws and they found the dress.
That hope died when Nisa shook her head and said those four words that were becoming their least-favorite words in the English dictionary. "I don't like it."
"Here we go." Hermione murmured.
"What's wrong with this one?" Amber asked.
"It's too much."
"You said there wasn't enough on the other one." Hermione snapped.
"And this one has enough and more." Pansy added.
"Too much more. It takes the focus away from me, and it feels too much like a costume," She ran her hand against the skirt. "And I'm not sure I like this shade of gold."
"It's gold." Amber said.
"An ugly gold."
Gritting her teeth, Amber led the bride back to fitting room.
Nisa pulled out the dress herself and dropped it onto the floor like it was nothing, missing the scowl Amber wore behind her.
"Okay, we are not going in the direction we want."
"Obviously." Nisa murmured with an eye-roll.
Her scowl deepened and she struggled to smoothen it out. "You really need to work me with here. In the past three hours I brought in close to fifty dresses. Fifty dresses," she emphasized. "You tried on maybe a third or a quarter of those dresses. And each one you tried on you didn't like. At all. Even though you look stunning in them all."
"Are you implying something?" Nisa's cool eyes narrowed into dangerous slits.
Amber looked like she was already fired with the answer, but kept it in, swallowing it down with a deep breath. "I'm simply saying maybe you could be a little more…open-minded."
"I am open-minded," Nisa said. "I can't be at fault for not liking anything when every dress you brought in fails to meet my standards."
Amber took in a large, deep breath and let it out slowly. "You've already tried on mermaid and form-fitting. How about we go in a completely different direction?"
"Your friend, Luna, said you should look dreamy and I know you want to look incredible. There were a few dresses we passed by that I think fit the idea."
It couldn't hurt, so long as it was the consultant picking out the dresses and not Lovegood. Merlin knows what sort of gowns she would pull out.
Nisa gave her consent with a slight nod. Amber burst from the room with a determined beam, missing Nisa's eye-roll.
Muggles, she thought.
Minutes later, the consultant returned with three different dresses. One was another gold and white but with no embellishment in sight. Another was a blush-pink with gold swirl. One was a silvery dress with an unusual skirt.
"What type of fabric is that?" Nisa nodded towards the silvery dress. The skirt looked like it was sheer.
"I think you should try it on."
"I think not."
Amber's smile shattered like glass. "It wouldn't hurt."
Muttering to herself, Nisa reluctantly agreed. Amber pulled the dress from the hanger and zipped her into it, letting the skirt flare out.
Well, it wasn't the ugliest dress Nisa had ever seen.
The crystal beading gleamed from the spaghetti-straps down to the bodice, the V-neckline showed plenty of cleavage, the skirt was more freeing than anything she tried on so far.
Two minutes went by. Though a smile didn't break through, complaints didn't come out yet, which the consultant took as a sign.
"Shall we show the entourage?"
Nisa was silent as she came out to the room and stepped onto the stool, unresponsive to the compliments.
"Pretty," Luna practically-sang. "Pretty like a dream."
"For once you and I are on the same page." Pansy said.
"This is a Pnina Tornai," Amber explained. "She is a customer-favorite. Her gowns have just enough edge to be interesting but enough glitz and elegance to still be classy."
"It is a pretty gown." The bride's mother commented.
"I love the skirt." Hermione hadn't been able to tear her eyes away from it when Nisa came out.
"It's a satin-silk underskirt and chiffon overlay," Amber said. "It gives her the sultry, unique flare without giving too much away-"
"I don't like it."
It took everything Amber had not to join the entourage in their band of groans. "Why not?"
"I don't look like a bride. I look like a prostitute impersonating a bride," Ignoring the round of groans and eye-rolls behind her, Nisa continued with her dress review. "I don't like the skirt." She frowned as she looked down at it. "It's as if people expect me to tear it off any minute to show off my legs."
"Well, they are good legs." The consultant slid in a joke in hopes it would lighten the mood.
If anything, her attempt of a joke caused Nisa's frown to darken to a scowl. "No."
Pansy whimpered as she fell back into the couch. Hermione ran a hand over her face, groaning.
"Okay, back to drawing board."
As soon as they were out of hearing range, Pansy announced in a tired, miserable groan, "We're doomed."
Back at the fitting room, Amber helped Nisa out of the dress.
"How about we try the gold and white one?"
Behind her, Nisa heard teeth-grinding. No doubt the girl was trying to hold onto any traces of patience she had left in her body. "Why not try it on for kicks?"
"I don't feel like wasting time."
"Humor me then."
Nisa's eyes flashed. She was tempted to hex the girl on the spot for using that tone with her, but she knew Harry wouldn't be too happy if he heard about it.
Rolling her eyes, she complied.
The consultant zipped her up in a dress that was a mass of gold and white. The shimmering gold satin started at the strapless bodice and extended to the back and sides of the dress. The center of the skirt was an unusual shade of white.
Nisa turned to the left, then the right. She gathered her hair up, and then let it fall in waves. She took in a deep breath. "Absolutely not."
Amber tilted her head back and braced for herself for the comments.
Nisa didn't disappoint. "This dress is something people might have found fashionable five seconds and five years ago. The metallic material is tacky. The gold shade is simply repulsive. And this," She tugged on the white fabric. "Is insulting to its color. It reminds me of mucky lake water."
Amber's lips pursued. "Anything else?"
"Yes," Nisa answered. "It looks as if the gold is trying to swallow up the white."
A huff blew through the consultant's sealed lips. A smirk turned the bride's lips.
She did ask for her opinion.
"O-kay," Amber clapped her hands after Nisa slipped out of the dress. "I have an idea."
Nisa looked at her.
"I think we should still use the different approach. What better way of being different than playing with some color?" Amber gestured towards the pink-colored dress.
Nisa folded her arms against her chest, cocking her head to the side. "What shade is it? Blush?"
"Really pretty color though."
"How about we try it on? Just to see how it falls?"
Nisa studied the dress a minute longer. "Alright."
For once Nisa didn't voice a single compliant. The name of the color sounded off, but it was a soft shade of pink, one which looked good with her coloring after she slipped on the dress and stared at her reflection.
"Is that a smile I see?" the consultant asked, stunned.
It was, a tiny one but unmistakable a smile.
"How about we show it off?"
For once she got a nod instead of a shrug. Amber followed behind the bride, crossing her fingers.
"Pretty," Luna's eyes practically glittered. "So pretty."
"This is Lazaro, another customer favorite," Amber explained. "And it is a ballgown."
"I am in love with the train," Pansy gushed. "And the bodice. I love it. I love everything about it, even the color."
"It is beautiful," Narcissa said. "What do you think of it, darling?"
It didn't matter what they said. The whole store could shower Nisa with praises and compliments over the dress, and it wouldn't mean a thing if she find something distasteful about it.
A minute went by without a piece of criticism. Nisa turned to the left, examining her side profile, then the right. She pulled her hair up and made it into a bun before letting it fall down her shoulders. The smile that emerged in the dressing room, to their amazement and relief, didn't only remain but brightened.
Nisa stared at the dress. She examined it from every angle to check for flaws and found none. The longer she was in the dress, the more the sherbet color began to grow on her. It went nicely with the gold embellishment. The sweetheart neckline showed just enough cleavage without making her look cheap. The tulle skirt had just enough volume to make a statement but didn't overpower her. The details were well-constructed and organized.
It is a pretty dress, she thought, turning to the right once more.
"I like it." She turned over to the left. "I actually, really do like it."
Amber looked like she died and gone to heaven. "Are you saying this could be your dress?"
"It's a possibility."
Amber swayed slightly, clutching onto her chest.
Nisa stared at her entourage in the mirror. Hope shone in Pansy's eyes as she reached out for Narcissa's hand and gripped it tightly. Luna's eyes were brighter than usual. The only one who didn't look impressed was Hermione.
The girl's head was cocked to the side, her lips fixed into a frown.
"Have something to say, Granger?"
"Nothing," She shook her head. "I like it the dress-"
"The look on your face says otherwise."
"I do like the dress," she insisted, the frown still present. "It's really pretty and I like the color-"
"But…it's just-"She broke off mid-sentence. "It looks an awfully lot like the dress Ginny picked out."
Heads instantly turned.
It wasn't the hope in Pansy's eye shattering into pieces that pointed out they crossed unmarked territory. It wasn't watching the Mother's smiling lips fall into a thin, tight line. It wasn't even watching Hermione's hands flew to her mouth a micro-second later, her eyes widening in alarm.
What let Amber, and everyone within a thirty-foot radius, knew a line was crossed and the territory was unmarked was the dangerous flare that flashed in Nisa's eyes. It was the vein in her neck bulging from the skin, throbbing. More importantly it was seeing the small, thoughtful smile being viciously murdered by the dark, monstrous scowl that hardened her face.
Followed by the tight, deadly-quiet, fury-lit snarl in her voice as she turned over to Hermione and demanded, "What?!"
"Nothing!" she said. "Nothing at all. Forget it."
"I'm not going to forget it!" Nisa snarled. "The Weaslette chose this dress?"
"Well…yes," she confessed. "But-"
Crying in outrage, Nisa gathered her skirts and stormed out.
"Technically the wedding didn't happen so it wasn't as if she actually wore it."
Amber chased after the bride, hoping with all her heart damage control could be done.
"We were this close," Pansy held up her hand, an inch between her forefinger and her thumb. "to a yes. This close to final being done with shopping. But thanks to you, Granger, and your big mouth we are right back to where we started."
Hermione sank down in her seat.
Back at the fitting room, Nisa couldn't get out of the dress fast enough, taking matters into her own hands by slapping away the insolent woman's hands and unzipping it herself. The dress fell to the ground and she kicked it away, disgusted.
Even with the dress gone, her skin still itched like ants were crawling all over her. Red-haired, revolting ants that were fragments of a past she did not want to be reminded of.
"Sherbet's not the only color," Amber gathered up the dress and wisely took ten steps back. "The dress also comes in ivory and white-"
"And we can change the embellishment. Make it silver if you prefer or-"
"We can look into other dresses in that style. There were a few I saw that would-"
She flinched as Nisa looked up, piercing her with those lethal eyes. She couldn't run out of the room fast enough.
Once she was alone, Nisa made sure the door was locked before she slumped into an ungraceful heap on the chair, feeling as if the walls were caving in. Her hands were pressed against her mouth in an instant. She tried taking in deep breaths to calm herself but her breathing was shallow, and were if anything making the nausea in her stomach and the itch on her skin worse.
The one dress she actually liked, the one dress she considered making a possibility, the one she was sure would be the dress was the same dress that her fiancé's former fiancée picked out.
Dear Merlin. The bout of nausea that hit her stomach was so intense, she nearly vomited right there. It was already sickening to be reminded this wasn't Harry's first engagement. That he actually considered making Ginny fucking Weasley his wife. But to know that they didn't once share a man, but apparently shared the same taste for wedding dresses? It was nauseating.
Questions began forming in her head. Granger obviously saw the dress on the weaslette but did Harry? She had no doubt Ginny Weasely would be the type of girl to break tradition and bring the fiancé to the fitting. Did he like it on her? Did he think she looked amazing in it? Did he fell deeper in love with her when he saw her in it?
An image popped into her head. The weaselette twirling around in her dress and everyone in the store applauding for her, with her family being the loudest. Harry breaking away from the crowd to pull her into his arms and kiss her, declaring her the most beautiful bride he ever seen.
Dear. Merlin. She had push the image away before she really got sick.
Near graduation, Harry had proposed to her, and everyone in the wizarding world was swept into romance, needing some light-heartedness after almost two years of darkness and lost. Within a month-well more so weeks-into the wedding, the two decided not to cross that step, breaking it off to the world's shock.
As shocked as people were by Harry's decision not to go through with the engagement, they were livid when he came out hand-in-hand with Nisa. It didn't matter that the war ended five years ago. It didn't matter that Harry spoke in her and her family's defense during the long series of trials. The name Malfoy brought out two initial reactions: disdain and distrust. To this day, people were sure that her father was more tightly entangled to the Dark Lord than originally said, and that she was some sort of pet of his. Even now the occasional Howler made its way through the wards, begging Harry to change his mind, pleading to get back together with the weaslette, claiming that being permanently tied to a Death-eater whore would be the biggest mistake of his life.
She knew she should pay no mind to the critics. Harry loved her and that was all that mattered. What people said and their insignificant, feeble words shouldn't matter to her. But…what if bore weight for Harry? What if she couldn't make him happy? What if the wedding didn't turn out as amazing as she dreamt? What if the dress she picked was horrible and he took it as a sign that they were a mistake? That she was a mistake?
Before she knew it, tears leaked from her eyes, rolling down her cheeks. She bit her lip in a vain attempt to control herself, but the tears still fell.
She had no idea how long she stayed that, curled up in the chair, crying until the sound of a fist meeting wood caught her attention for a moment. Still, she didn't look up, not even when footsteps entered. Rather, someone ran their fingers through her hair before they tilted her head back.
Harry stared down at her. He brushed away the tears from her face and tucked strands of hair behind her ear.
Without a word, he scooped her up into his arms like she was nothing and sat down, placing her on his lap. Nisa clung onto him, leaning against his shoulder.
"Are you going to tell me what happened?" He asked. "Or do I need to guess?"
She supposed she could have told him that his know-it-all friend ruined what would have been a glorious moment. She could have asked him who told him to come down. Instead, she took in a deep breath and answered the question with one of her own. "Did she take you to the appointments?"
Nisa didn't need to clarify the "she" she was speaking of. Harry knew who she meant from the tone in her voice. It did, though, took longer than she expected or liked for the answer to come out. "Yes."
So he saw the dress. She figured as much, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt less. Nisa swallowed and took in another breath. "Did you like her dress?"
"I..." There was a twinge of hesitation. "I...thought it was good. It was certainly an interesting color."
A stupid, soft-pink color with an even more stupid name attached to it. "Must have blown you away, Potter?" She couldn't control the snarl that crept into her voice. "Seeing your future bride all dolled-up in her pretty little dress."
"Nisa, you know for a fact I'm not the sort of person who falls madly in love with someone just because of what they wear. It was a pretty dress but Ginny was-"
"Already a woman you fell in love with. Already a woman you thought was worthy enough to spend the rest of your life with. The dress no doubt confirmed that."
"If it did, would I still be here?"
She opened her mouth to reply, then stopped short, the question rendering her mute for a moment.
Harry continued on. "If that was the case, if that was all it took, then yes I should be with Ginny. But it's not that simple. That's not the way love works, Nisa."
She bit her lip, a habit since childhood she did whenever she was anxious that she was trying to kick. "You loved her, Harry. Enough that you proposed to her. Enough that you almost went through with it-"
"That's the key-word, love," Harry interrupted. "Almost. I almost went through with it but I didn't. I couldn't."
Nisa looked down at her lap, but Harry refused, placing his hand underneath her chin and tilting her head up so she would meet his eyes.
"I did love Ginny," he said. "I still do but not the way I thought I did or the way she should be loved. I didn't realize this till I was on my way from work and decided to take a walk through the city. I came across a small bookstore. It was at the end of the street near this bakery that was rarely full. I looked inside and saw a familiar face, a blonde with these gray eyes that could be downright terrifying when they glared at you. I was stunned. She was a girl who for years took pleasure in making me miserable. But I barely recognize the woman she grown into, leaning against the ladder, reading a fairytale book. I think she might have been close to the ending because when she turned the page, she was smiling. It was a simple gesture. Nothing special. Still, a fire just flared in my chest. A fire I never felt before till I saw her at the bookshop and saw her smile. I realized that there's a difference between contentment and happiness. Loving someone and being in love with someone."
Tears leaked from her eyes, but they were a different sort of tears, ones that came with a small smile that rose the corner of her lip.
"I love you, Nisa. I love you more than I thought I could possibly love anyone. I love you enough to know that this," He squeezed her hand. "is right. I love you enough to tell everyone who thinks we're not right together to piss off. I love you enough to know that without a doubt in my mind that I want to be with you forever."
The sound that came out of her mouth was a mix between a snort, a giggle, and a stifle. "You are such a sappy Gryffindor."
"And you are such a cute Slytherin," he smirked. "Your house would be so proud."
"I am not cute." She swatted his arm half-heartedly.
When she made a move to swat it again, he caught it easily and kissed it, bringing a soft smile to her face. "You're right," he agreed. "You're not cute. You're beautiful. And I know no matter what you wear, what dress you pick, you'll still be beautiful. You could walk down the aisle in a garbage bag and I would still think I'm the luckiest man in the world."
She should have told there was no way in hell she would ever, ever wear a garbage bag for her wedding, but…warmth flooded into her heart, chasing away all her earlier doubts and fear.
"Besides, it doesn't matter what dress you wear."
"Oh?" She arched her brow suspiciously. "Because I'll be the most beautiful bride you've ever seen?"
"That," Harry nodded. "And from the moment you walk down the aisle to when we're finally alone, I'll be thinking how happy I'll be when I finally tear the dress off you."
His hand was still on her face, caressing her cheek. His other hand, though, slipped underneath her robe, stroking her inner thigh. Her eyes that widened immediately closed, moaning softly, as that hand with those damned teasing fingers moved further in.
"Let's get one thing straight, Potter," It took everything, all the willpower she had not to give into that hand and see how far those teasing fingers would go. "If you tear apart my wedding dress, you'll be spending our honeymoon on the couch."
"And what if there is no couch?"
Cheeky prat, she thought affectionately. "Then you'll be spending it on the floor."
He broke off into laughter and she joined in with him. As soon they got the laughing bug out of their system, Harry cupped her face and kissed her, making her head swoon with the familiar sparks that lit from his soft touch and the strokes of his tongue.
It took almost a minute for her mind to snap back into reality after he pulled away.
"I love you, Nisa," he told her, his voice firm. "And nothing-not the press, the past, or even a dress-will change that. Okay?"
"Okay." She nodded.
Her agreement earned her another kiss, a short one but sweet nevertheless.
All too soon Harry had to go back. Pansy was the one who actually reminded him it was time to go, banging on the door and begging them not to be the sort of couple who resorted to shagging at every possible corner. After he left, she took in a deep breath, wiped her face, and stood up.
The consultant came back into the room, walking slowly as if she expected a hex to bounce off her wand. Lucky for her, she was calm now.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm glad," It was odd. It seemed like she actually sounded liked she meant it. "Do you want to try on more dresses or do you want to call it a day?"
They have been here since noon and it was already past six. She already pushed her entourage, even her mother, to the brink of exhaustion. She was pretty sure the consultant was exhausted, and that they've been through more than half of the dresses in stock.
However more than half didn't mean all. There were still some more dresses she hadn't seen yet.
"You said we should try something different, correct?" The consultant frowned slightly in confusion but nodded. "I think we should keep going."
"Alright, okay," she said. "We can do that-"
"I want to pick out the next dress."
Amber blinked her eyes. "Um, okay. Alright. If you're sure-"
Nisa was already out the door, heading straight for the dresses on the rack. She decided since most of her clothes were already fit to mold her body, she didn't want to have look for her wedding, so she stepped away from the fit and flare. She wanted to look incredible but not outrageous so she was sticking with white.
"I think I'll try on more ballgowns," she said. "Strictly white though. No color." Especially sherbet.
Amber's face brightened with a smile. She directed her to the section where they kept most of the ball-gowns. Nisa studied each dress before pushing it aside, shaking her head. On and on, she examined and dismissed, doing this with nearly every dress in the selection until she came across one she nearly pushed aside but paused, pulling it off the rack.
"This is not half-bad actually." she murmured.
Amber took a step closer. "It's Lazaro but it's a pure princess gown."
Nisa was almost ready to put the dress back when she heard the designer's name, but…the dress was intriguing. And the fabric felt incredibly smooth as she ran her hand through the skirt. "I think I'll try it on."
Fighting to keep her grin to a normal smile, Amber took her dress out of her hands and led her back to the fitting room.
The dress was different from the other Lazazro, both color-wise and style-wise. It was different from any dress she tried today or at any store. It was a mass of tulle controlled by a circular gathered skirt. The chapel train wasn't as loud as the other one. The bodice was pleated silk satin organza with sweetheart neckline. There was no trace of embellishment, which should have made the dress fall flat, but the floral jeweled encrusted band tied around the waist saved it from being plain.
Nisa was astonished by the material as she slipped into the dress. The material was softer, smoother than anything she felt before. When she looked into the mirror, she was speechless.
"Oh my god."
Amber grinned beside her. "You look beautiful. Mesmerizing."
Nisa couldn't speak. She was too stunned by the woman she saw in the mirror.
"Do you want to show the others?"
The entourage was rendered speechless, mouths dropping, eyes widening, the second she came out.
"Wow." Luna breathed.
"Oh, Nisa." Narcissa placed her hand against her heart, her eyes wet with tears.
"You-I-this-" Pansy shook her head, needing a second to compose herself. "So help me god, Nisa, if you say the following words 'No' or 'I don't like it' I'll buy the dress myself."
"I think I may beat you to it." Hermione grinned.
"Before we decide what will become of the dress, we need to hear from the bride," Amber turned over to Nisa who was still staring at her reflection, mesmerized. "Nisa? What do you think?"
"I…" She shook her head, swallowing. "Is there a veil?"
Amber was quick to grab one and secured it firmly on her veil, letting it fall. The hem of the veil was close to her thigh.
It was the veil that sealed the dress's fate, and made a smile break out across Nisa's face as tears stung her eyes, almost blurring her vision.
Breathtaking. It was the only word to describe the stunning image she was seeing at the mirror. Mesmerizingly breathtaking.
"Oh my god!" Pansy exclaimed. "She's crying."
"Shut up, Parkinson." Nisa hiccupped.
"Darling, you look beautiful," her mother told her. "Absolutely beautiful."
"There is no way you can top this, Nisa," Hermione said. "This is…breathtaking."
"A fragment of a dream was what I originally pictured as the idea of the dress. A fragment that so unbelievable it's unreal but follows you even after the dream is gone," Luna said. "You are not a fragment. You are the fairy of dreams. Its queen."
Amber was sure it couldn't get any better. Still she had to be sure. "Nisa?"
"Are you saying yes to the dress?"
The entourage leaned forward in their seats, holding their breath.
Nisa wiped the tears from her eyes and took it another deep breath. It took a final minute before they got the final answer.
"Yes," she nodded, nearly breaking into tears. "Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes."
"Thank the blessed Merlin." Pansy sighed.
"Shut it, Parkinson."
Amber made way for the entourage as they got off from the seats and came forward to congratulate the bride for picking out a beautiful gown. While smiles and hugs, with Nisa and Hermione exchanging brief nods and smiles, were being passed around, she released a heavy breath she hadn't realized she was holding.
Randy came beside her and patted her back. "You did good, Amber."
"Thanks," Sighing, she shook her head. "I think I need a vacation."
"Like a week off?"
"More like a month."
Sooooo? Did you guys like it? Did Nisa live to Draco? Please review. I wanna know what you think and wanna make sure I did a good job with the bride