Sometimes she wished she could paint. She wished her hands were good for something other than pleasurable entertainments and potions, though, she supposed those were art in their own way. Not the way Drake could make art though, as clever and sneaky as that boy thought he was, she had discovered more than one smudge of charcoal behind his ears and quite a few flicks of paint on his face. Unlike Drake, it would have been fine for her to paint, encouraged even as a lady-like pursuit. The problem was that she was terrible at it, incapable of more than a few lazy brushstrokes, normally it didn't bother her, but some days she wished she could commit images to austerity. One such image was Daphne Greengrass, naked and sweaty and practically liquid with how relaxed she was, draped across Pansy's emerald green sheets. If she were to try to paint paradise, it would look something like this.
"Aren't you tired? Even a little bit?" Daphne asked her breathily and Pansy nearly laughed before turning back to her dresser and dabbing perfume on her skin. The room the Malfoys had provided was well stocked and she supposed she should be grateful for the curtesy, their standing in court was certainly not what it once was. Not that Pansy would ever, ever regret it. Daphne had kissed her for the first time when they were fifteen and stupid and Pansy had kissed her for the first time when she was seventeen and stupid. She would never, ever go back.
"I've told you time and time again my lovely nymph, la petite mort only energizes me," Pansy reminded her. It was true, sex always made her want to get up, run around, conquer. Daphne on the other hand, simply want to sleep until the next round. It made for some interesting nights. "Do you think Granger will wear white?" Pansy asked her paramour lightly as she shrugged on her robe and moved to her dresser, taking stock of her assortment of dresses with pleasure.
"What do you mean?" Daphne asked.
"Does anyone actually believe that the bride is a virgin?" Pansy wondered a little sarcastically. Almost no efforts could be made to stop the whispers once Draco and Hermione had ceased attempting to disguise their so-called debauchery. Pansy was kind of surprised though, the straight laced blushing maid apparently had a foracious appetite for all that they disappeared behind closed doors together.
"Maybe Tori," Daphne suggested, her sister was very naïve, or at least she had been.
"Especially not Tori, she did find out about the affair after all," It had been more than slightly surprising to learn that Tori had figured it out all on her own; it filled Pansy with a strange kind of pride.
"Something tells me that Narcissa will make her wear the white anyways, for image purposes," Daphne predicted. Pansy paused, weighing that suggestion as she lifted her own gown and draped it over her chair. The garment was irrationally ornate and expensive and well, she could get away with it because despite her life choices, she was still the only heir to the Parkinson family name. Her family was more than content to ignore her current relationship and just hope for a political marriage down the line. She wouldn't mind.
"If this wedding was about image, Draco would be marrying a virgin," Pansy snorted.
"He is just marrying the newly discovered Duke's best friend and ward, so I suppose that it's a favorable match with no need for appearances," Daphne reminded her.
"True, somehow that boy managed to get everything he wanted and still help his line," Pansy rolled her eyes, not really too bitter about it. She had stopped being jealous of Drake right around when she realized how deep his Daddy issues went.
"He certainly couldn't have planned it," Daphne admitted with a sigh.
"No, he's just a lucky piece of shit," Pansy rolled her eyes. What she would have given to have been the one to arrange that relationship or reveal it to the couple, there by earning their gratitude, and the Duke's. Harry Potter was quite the powerful friend to have.
"Competitive is a good look on you, though I do prefer it being directed to more mutually pleasurable pursuits," Daphne observed meaningfully, and Pansy turned, smirking at her lover.
"I thought you were tired?" She reminded the other woman. Daphne just smirked and slid her hand meaningfully down her stomach.
"Not quite tired enough," She informed her lover as her hand came to slide between her folds.
"Let's fix that," Pansy suggested, quickly discarding her robe, and crawling over to her lover. Daphne smirked as Pansy settled between her legs. "How quickly do you think I can make you come?"
"See, this is the competitive that I like," Daphne told her, fondly tucking her lover's hair behind her ear. Pansy blushed and ducked her head. She'd deny it until her dying day, but Pansy still wasn't great at accepting affection, far too used to being a quick shag and a bit of fun. Daphne seemed determined to accustom her lover to being cared for. Pansy would never admit that it pleased her to no end.
Ginny had needs. Whoever had said that sex was for men and women merely grin and bear it knew nothing. Though the woman had insisted on not shagging until he had at least "agreed to make an honest woman out of her," she was eager to sate her appetite in other ways. Blaise was more than willing to help.
He kissed the inside of her thigh before sitting up and stretching out his jaw. He took pride in his endurance, but his ginger haired minx didn't make it easy.
"Try not to piss Mione off today, will you?" Ginny suggested evenly, as Blaise slid out from underneath her sheets. Ginny and her family had been given special dispensation to join the Greengrasses in their travels, even though she technically should have stayed behind. With a stable boy turned Duke, a slave turned Lady, and a waiter turned Knight running around, 'technically' had become much more confusing as of late.
"I never try to piss her off," Blaise insisted as he tossed her dress to her. She caught it with a huff without getting out of bed.
"Oh no, you're successful without even trying," Ginny teased, squirming around as she pulled her dress on.
"See, and my mother said I'd never achieve anything," Blaise quipped as he worked at the buttons on his dress shirt. Ginny shimmied gracelessly towards him and pressed a careful kiss to his brow. He felt his face heat at the tender gesture and once again thanked his darker complexion. He did not know how Drake and Ginny managed to function with how violently their pale skin flushed.
"You got them a gift, correct?" Ginny confirmed as she stood, sliding on her stockings. Blaise looked away quickly, it was far too easy to distract him these days.
"Yes Mum," Blaise mocked.
"Nothing salacious?" Ginny continued, the stubborn wench, as she tossed her hair over her shoulders and sent him a significant look. He rolled his eyes but stepped behind her, carefully plaiting the red strands. He would never, ever admit it, but their little routine comforted him to no ends. Whenever he was jealous or impatient, all he had to do was look at his witch's hair and remind himself that she let him do that. It was such a small thing, but he knew the fussy witch rarely let anyone so much as touch her precious hair.
"Nothing obviously salacious," Blaise countered. To be fair, there was nothing salacious about the bottle of single malt scotch and the enchanted glass designed to vanish said scotch the moment one had reached their limit. The salacious element was the very boring "History of Magical Breweries" that, underneath the book jacket contained a list of tips for finding time for shagging after kids. Draco would thank him for it, eventually, probably after he forgave him for the stags' weekend.
"If I were a less secure woman I would take offense to that," Ginny reminded him as he finished the long plait and tied it off.
"If you were a less secure woman, we wouldn't be here," He reminded her. "What did you get them?"
"None of your business," She chided, adding a few drops of perfume to her wrists. He noticed the soft hints of vanilla and almond and his nose twitched.
"Your mum got you that?" Blaise guessed as he tugged on his trousers.
"How on earth did you know that?" She huffed as she brushed rouge along her cheeks.
"You smell like carnations, but also almond, vanilla, and peach. Your mother thinks that peach and carnation aren't refined and respectable enough, just like me," He griped. Ginny looked for a second as if she wanted to argue but stopped short and stepped up close to him.
"She," Ginny sighed, "she's been nagging for me to be nice to Prince Longbottom and hope he would consider me as a worthy match." She rolled her eyes at her own words.
"It never ceases to amaze me that that doofus is the heir to throne," Blaise scoffed. The royal family was a terrible mess and an unexpected death had catapulted the Longbottoms into the succession crisis. Somehow the dorky, anxious mess that Draco and Blaise had tormented for years was now The Crown Prince, oops. It was a good thing both Granger and Ginny were good friends with the Prince or he would be worried.
"Be nice!" Ginny smacked his arm.
"To my competition," Blaise scoffed dismissively as he tugged on his dress robes.
"This isn't a competition and I am not a prize," She told him firmly, turning bright brown eyes in his direction.
"Oh, my naïve omega, everything is a competition," He reminded her, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"Even if it was, you already won," She assured him and kissed him soundly. "I'll prove it to you later." She winked and laughed as she stepped out of her embrace.
"I'm going to hold you to that!" He called after her as she closed the door behind her.
"Are you all right?" Her dutiful fiancé asked by way of greeting and kissed her hand with a bow. She smiled at him and nodded encouragement. He was still learning how to be a proper lord. With his knighthood and their impending marriage, the Weasleys were now a major house with a great deal of power and responsibility. The mannerisms required some coaching.
"Of course, my friend's impending joy brings me great happiness," Astoria smiled, the epitome of grace as she took his arm and they made their way out to the garden. The flowers were in full, vibrant bloom and the white chairs and petal strewn aisle seemed to blend into the natural landscape. It truly was lovely, even if Astoria was in danger of sneezing the entire time.
"Ah yes, joy," Ron smirked. Astoria laughed despite herself.
"Shhhh, that's a secret," She reminded him, giggling. Hermione had told her of the impending pregnancy with such glee it had been hard to resent the other woman's joy. It had been harder and harder to do that lately. It wasn't that Astoria was unhappy and she certainly wasn't jealous of Hermione, she was quite happy with her fiancé, for the record, it was just hard to forgive, and far harder to forget. It was just going to take a while longer. They had time.
"Has she told you the sex of their joy?" Ron asked with a wink as he lead her to their seats. Hermione had decided to only have Ginny as a bridesmaid, and Blaise was serving as the best man. Rumor has it that Narcissa was not pleased.
"No, but apparently they have a name in mind," Astoria shared absentmindedly. Mione had admitted it after a tipsy Ginny had pestered her for hours during the Hen's Weekend.
"Mione always was a planner." Ron unbuttoned his jacket carefully, sitting uncomfortably straight in his chair. Astoria smiled fondly and brushed an imaginary piece of lint off of his shoulder in an excuse to touch him. The audience around her chattered mindlessly, expressing their immense joy for the woman that they had never heard of before the engagement.
"Not a very good one, apparently." Astoria rolled her eyes.
"I'm inclined to agree with you, but I can just faintly hear my mother telling me to be nice," Ron teased, laughing. Astoria had met Mrs. Weasley in an unofficial capacity for the first time just a few weeks ago. The woman had hugged her so tightly that she could not quite breathe, and Astoria had found herself sobbing almost instantly at the unexpected and apparently much needed comfort. Her future mother-in-law had not even blinked, but just rubbed the younger woman's back and made soothing noises. The sincere care was so different from the pressure and expectations that she been experiencing for so long that she had not known how to handle it. She found it much easier to function as a future Weasley as opposed to a future Malfoy.
"I can hear my mother suggesting that you see a healer about that," Astoria joked.
"Fresh," Ron chided with no bite. It was strange, being with a man who didn't mind a woman having an opinion or teasing him, but Astoria found that she liked it just as much in a fiancé as she had liked it in a stranger.
"That is how you like me," She reminded him, and a satisfying hard look settled in his eyes and Astoria might have been a virgin, but she knew lust when she saw it.
"When I finally make you my wife, I will show you exactly how I like you," Ron's voice deepened, and Astoria smirked.
"Is that a promise?" The groom's hurried entrance from the side of the garden cut their conversation short. Astoria had seen her former-almost-fiancé in many circumstances and she had been a first-hand witness of his charm but the smile that stretched across his face was like nothing that she had ever seen before. He reached the dais quickly, probably too quickly, bound into position. Astoria smiled, endeared despite herself by the way his fingertips drummed on the outside of his leg. Draco nodded to the back of the seating and the violinist started the music. They only had to wait a measure or so for Blaise and Ginny to enter. The light blue dress looked lovely with Ginny's hair and the woman flashed a benevolent smile at the gathered crowd. Blaise looked dapper and imposing with the significantly shorter red head, but Astoria knew better than anyone that looks could be deceiving.
She had known Ginny long before their lives had all changed so drastically but in the same way that she had never really spent any real time with Ron before coming to Malfoy Manor, she hadn't really known the redhead. Now that Astoria was marrying her older brother, Ginerva no longer felt any need to act like a servant around Astoria and the red head was quick, both with her wit and her wand. Astoria was quite reasonably intimidated by the other woman. Ron insisted that Ginny wasn't actually that scary, just protective, but Astoria found that such a perspective was easier to have as the protected, rather than the intruder. Ron didn't get it.
A distant cousin was serving as the flower girl, and the adorable child practically skipped down the aisle, tossing petals as she went. The crowd chuckled as she almost blew by her mother before being corralled to her seat. Draco smiled at the little girl just a smidge too fondly and Astoria suspected she might know the sex of Hermione's child after all.
The violinist took a significant pause as the crowd clumsily came to their feet and turned to look towards the aisle. Hermione appeared after a beat, rounding a hedge and Astoria felt herself grin with true pride at how beautiful her friend looked. Her curls were pinned up delicately to show off the beautiful pearl necklace she wore. The dress was lovely, with long lacy sleeves and a sweetheart neckline. Astoria had suspected that her former handmaiden would feel uncomfortable with all of these eyes on her but her gaze was sure. Astoria snuck a peak towards Draco and felt something inside her ache at the sweetness of the moment as she watched a man who appeared to be encountering God.
"Sir Malfoy, you may now kiss the bride," Draco beamed at her for the briefest of moments before cupping the back of her neck where his seal sat and kissing her sweetly. The seal tingled with glee and Hermione suspected that she might be sending out literal sparks as she returned the kiss. She was Mrs. Malfoy and she had never been happier. A sudden, violent sneeze surprised the couple out of their moment and Hermione barely kept herself from laughing when she saw the mortified blush on Astoria's face. She smiled forgivingly at the other woman. It took a beat for the surprised crowd to remember that they were supposed to clap and this time Hermione really did laugh as Draco took her hand and lead her quickly from the garden.
Moments later she found herself being lifted into the air and kissed hungrily. She pulled away from her new husband reluctantly but couldn't help herself from giggling again.
"None of that husband we do have a party to attend. Remember?" She teased him primly. Draco smirked.
"And then, I get to whisk you away while we spend days shagging like bunnies, wife," That word shouldn't sound dirty coming out of his mouth, but it did. It absolutely did.
The reception was lovely and Hermione supposed that she shouldn't have been too surprised because if Narcissa had proven herself trustworthy in any sense, it was certainly in public perception.
It was only after the meal and the first dance that Hermione remembered the unfortunate encounter that she had set herself up for.
"Heads up," Hermione muttered to her husband in between receiving guests.
"What?" He whispered back, somehow managing to not totally move his mouth or shift his eyes. Damn him and his superior sneakiness. It didn't seem to matter as Draco caught sight of the approaching lunatic in a black ballgown and straightened considerably.
"Congratulations, my dear nephew," Bellatrix called far too loudly as she sauntered across the hall. Heads snapped towards her and Hermione remembered with chilling clarity when she had wanted to be her. Now, Bellatrix was merely a bad memory and a grave warning about what power could do to a person.
"Thank you, Aunt Bella, your warm sentiments are greatly appreciated." Draco's hand was warm where it rested on her back and Hermione focused on that as she struggled to level her blank, happy expression at Bellatrix's insane black eyes.
"Though you did it wrong," Bellatrix continued without sparing a glance at Hermione.
"Excuse me?" Draco was going to break his teeth if he kept grinding them like that.
"Omegas make for wonderful mistresses, not brides, particularly not common slaves," Bellatrix explained with a cruel smirk. Hermione felt Draco stiffen beside her as the mark on the back of her neck tingled uncomfortably, but she beat him to it.
"What the" Bellatrix shrieked at the unexpected stinging jinx. Hermione smirked as she stowed her wand away again.
"I'm so sorry, you see," Hermione simpered, even as she lifted her chin and squared her shoulders, "I was only recently freed and I'm still getting the hang of controlling my magic. It appears I have quite a bit of it. I would hate to make a mistake, particularly on my wedding day." She batted her kohl lined eyes deliberately as Bellatrix raised an eyebrow. Even though the music was still playing and various courtiers were still talking, it may as well have been silent for the amount of tension between the two immensely powerful witches.
That is what Hermione was: an immensely powerful witch with an immensely powerful and influential husband who loved her dearly and looked at her as if she could work miracles. Nowadays, she could, and she loved it, almost as much as she loved him.
Bellatrix looked away.