One decision on New Year's Eve brings changes everything in Hermione's life when she finds herself married to Lucius Malfoy. With strict laws that promote marriage and family in order to repopulated the wizarding population, that decision can hardly be easily reversed, if at all. Will love follow this unconventional union, or are they doomed to live together unhappily ever after?

*Disclaimer: All characters and canon situations belong to J.K. Rowling.

New Year Resolution: Never to touch fire-whisky ever, ever again! Hermione thought to herself as she squinted against the stabbing sun rays.

She had never felt so tired and sore in her life.

The breaths against her neck told her she wasn't alone in her bed. Upon opening her eyes, however, she could plainly see that this wasn't her room. It looked more like a hotel's suite rather than anybody's house.

Had she really had a one-night stand with a stranger? That wasn't like her. Not at all. She wouldn't have done anything like it, no matter how drunk she had been. There must be a reasonable explanation for all this.

Stealthily, she slightly turned to peek at her bedfellow. His arm was thrown over his head, so it was difficult to make out the face, but he appeared to have a very masculine jaw with a shadow of stubble. Blonde strands of hair splayed over the pillow. Exposed torso was visible from the matted sheets around his waist. His arms and chest looked finely toned and strong. A veritable Viking, in fact. Under different circumstances, Hermione might have even congratulated herself on her good luck. However, this was too embarrassing. She couldn't even remember his name or what led them to end up in this state.

Something on his left arm caught her attention. It looked like a pale gray serpent tattoo. It looked familiar … and then it dawned on her. Blonde hair, mark of a Death Eater … that could only mean one person.

Yelping in shock and horror, Hermione tried to bolt out of bed, but got so disoriented that she merely fell back onto her pillow.

No way in hell did she spend the night with Lucius Malfoy, no matter how inebriated she was! No! No! No! What a way to start a new year! Ugh!

Groping for the night stand, Hermione took her time and slowly sat up again, before making her way around the room to find her clothes. With any luck, she'd be out of here before he woke up.

Getting dressed proved to be a challenge though as her clothes appeared to be scattered around the bedroom and living room.

She was nearly dressed and just searching for one of her shoes when something on the living room table caught her eye. It was a bouquet of flowers with a Just Married sign tucked between the stems.

Next to the flowers was a photograph of her and Lucius Malfoy from last night's New Year's Eve celebrations. She didn't remember having that photo being taken. Her eyes wandered to her left hand and a horrifying suspicion became a cold, glaring reality. Sitting on her very important, usually unadorned finger was a ring. A simple band with small diamonds all the way around it.

She froze at first, then a blood-curdling scream left her mouth.

Almost at once, Lucius Malfoy came running into the room, one hand held his wand while the other one was pulling at the zipper of his trousers.

He paused and looked around. "What's going on? What happened?"

"What happened?" Hermione yelled him. "This happened!" She waved her left hand in front of his face. "Do you realize what this means?"

"Let's just calm down. This is hardly something to get hysterical about."

She hated how reasonable he sounded. Hermione didn't want to be reasonable; she just wanted to climb into bed and sleep off the entire year. A piece of paper next to the flowers mockingly stared at her. Hermione picked it up and saw that it was a marriage certificate that legally proclaimed her married to Lucius Abraxas Malfoy. What the hell had she done to deserve this?

She handed it to him, collapsing onto the couch. Hermione didn't even know what more was there to say. She felt drained. Her life was over. All over.

Ever since the new Marriage and Family Acts became laws, she avoided marriage like the plague, not that it was all that difficult considering how she wasn't exactly inundated with offers. She hated the principle of those decrees, which promoted marriage and family and penalized the singles. Just because there was a population shortage in the wizarding world in the years following the war didn't give the lawmakers the right to push one lifestyle choice above others. Singles had to pay the singles tax. Childless couples even had to pay another tax. The propaganda posters heavily advocated for couples to have a third child 'for Britain'.

Well, Hermione happily paid her singles tax rather than be driven into a marriage of convenience and be forced to put her career aspirations on hold if she were to be constantly pregnant for Britain.

"Don't fret about this, Miss Granger. A quick marriage can always be quickly annulled," he said.

Was that supposed to make her feel better?

"What planet have you been on?" Hermione screeched at him. "There is no such thing as a quick annulment. Annulments are only granted in special cases, such as spousal abuse. And again, only if it's physical! We're stuck! My life is so over!"

"We'll figure it out," he said in firm determination.

"How did this even happen? How did we even come up with this idea?" she asked him in disbelief.

He cocked his eyebrow at her. "You don't remember?"

"Obviously not!" she snapped at him. She hated his smugness and coolness in this situation. It would have been better to have someone who shared her panic and shock.

He launched into an explanation, "We were talking about the new family decrees and berating the propaganda surrounding them. I complained about the rising taxes for divorcés and you complained about the singles tax being higher than your annual lease on your flat. Then I made a remark how if we were married to each other, it would solve all our problems. We laughed it off at first, but then we agreed how amusing it would be to do it in order to demonstrate to Ministry's lawmakers how ridiculous and impractical their laws are."

"So it's a roundabout way of admitting it's all your fault," Hermione glumly concluded.

"My fault? My dear," his tone was beyond condescending, "it takes two people to get married."

Hermione wished she could slap the haughtiness off him.

"We wouldn't even be in this situation if you haven't made your stupid suggestion when I was not capable of clear thinking. I was drunk and you took advantage of me!" she shouted at him.

He looked angry now.

Good. That makes two of us, at least, she thought to herself.

"Take advantage of you? Is that what you think?"

"Yes. You're vile and cruel, and you hate me. You did this just to humiliate me, or … or … do something worse." Hermione suddenly felt fear trickle in addition to her anger.

He let out a mirthless laugh. "Yes, that's exactly why I married you. Because if I wanted to do any of those things to you, I'd definitely need to be married to you first. You do think highly of yourself, Miss Granger. Or should I say Mrs. Malfoy now?"

"Hell, no! I am not changing my name. I don't even want to be married to you. I wouldn't even touch you even if you were the last man on Earth! You did something last night to make me agree to this!"

A tense silence settled between them after her outburst. Hermione knew she went a step too far with insults, but his calm teasing was grating. Why couldn't he share her panic like a normal person?

"So that's what you really think happened? That I coerced you into this somehow? Used a spell or a potion?"

"Well, it's a possibility," Hermione said, unable to stop her snide remarks from leaving her lips.

The gleam in his eyes faded and they turned steely opaque, giving his countenance a ruthless edge.

She felt immediately guilty for accusing him of something so vile.

"That is your estimation of me?" His voice was deadly calm and even.

"It's not like I have much to go on."

Shut up, Hermione! she silently yelled at herself.

"How unfortunate for us both then," he said and walked back into the bedroom.

Hermione felt even more guilty.

"Mr. Malfoy…" she called after him, not knowing what she could possibly say to him by way of apology.

"Take a hint, Miss Granger. When I leave the room, it means I no longer have anything to say to you," came his cold reply.

Feeling her eyes well up with tears, Hermione bolted to the bathroom.

She wouldn't cry. She wouldn't cry. Not over him.

More than ever, she wished she could just sleep through the entire year. This was going to be a disaster.

And it was only day one of this wretched marriage.