Hello! I've previously published this story several years ago on Granger Enchanted - a lovely Hermione-centric site. Unfortunately, that site is no more so I am publishing my store here. It is complete and weighs in at 44 chapters. Since it's all written, I plan to update often!
If Hermione with Draco and/or Lucius is not your cup of tea, feel free not to read this. I won't be offended. :-) Folks are allowed to like what they like!
I would very much like to thank Severus' Malfoy Maiden (aka Bunnyhops). She did all the beta work for this story back in the day and deserves kudos galore for her editorial eye. Friendly tip, if you haven't read her work posted here you must do so. Her stories are charming!
Hermione took a deep breath as she took one last look in the mirror. She almost did not recognize herself swathed in the yards of cream-colored silk and chiffon dotted with an uncountable number of seed pearls. Her normally unruly chestnut curls cascaded down her back in thick shiny waves, tamed for the occasion. Minimal makeup made her complexion look like peaches and cream while making her amber colored eyes seem dewy and larger than usual.
"Wow, 'Mione," Harry breathed, coming up behind her. "You look gorgeous! I mean, you are beautiful all the time, but now….wow. How do you feel?"
Hermione smiled weakly at her friend, who looked quite nice in his black formal robes. His untamed mop of black hair made her smile a bit more. There was only so much one could do to make Harry look fancy. Hermione took a deep breath, steeling herself for the upcoming events.
"I'm okay, Harry, really." Hermione did her best to project the confidence that she did not really feel. "It has all happened so quickly. Two weeks is not a lot of time to get accustomed to the situation. It still does not seem real sometimes. I do feel like I've a good idea of what I am in for. Besides, you are right. I do look gorgeous. It is amazing what unlimited funds can do for a girl."
"Oh please," Harry smiled genuinely. "All this only highlights your natural beauty. You are the only person I know with enough brains, guts, and heart to possibly make this work out okay. Besides, think of all the good you can do with access to those vaults. You can pour Galleons into any cause your heart desires. You'll have your own charity! You are going to be the best Lady Malfoy ever."
Hermione smiled at Harry's comment. She certainly was going to stick out in the pureblood aristocracy like a sore thumb. Nevertheless, the Malfoys knew what they were getting when they arranged this deal. It certainly was a shock to Hermione though when they demanded that she become Lady Malfoy.
The British Wizarding Treaty negotiations felt interminable. The war against Voldemort had not quite ended the way everyone thought it would when Harry killed the maniac on May 2. It turned out that many of the Death Eaters were not fanatics bent on genocide, just a prominent few – like Bellatrix, Dolohov and Greyback. Tom Riddle and a select few had blackmailed, cajoled, threatened, and Imperiused most of his followers, so they were not terribly sorry to see him die after all the terror inflicted upon them. The Death Eaters, however, were unwilling to turn themselves over to Ministry for prosecution, not wanting to be shipped to Azkaban. However, they did not wish to continue the bloodshed either, as both sides had already suffered serious losses.
Lucius Malfoy capably led his brethren in the absence of their psychotic, despotic leader. The stalemate held for about a month when Lord Malfoy approached the Order of the Phoenix, stating he was ready to talk about a treaty.
As Hermione sat at the negotiation table, she had to admit that Lord Malfoy was a good choice on the part of the Death Eaters. He was brilliant, beautiful, and oddly charismatic. He called the cease-fire and was now working on the treaty with Arthur Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Severus Snape, and herself. Lord Malfoy had appealed to the media, explaining that the majority of the Pureblood Aristocracy had originally aligned with Voldemort years ago with the goal of preserving traditional pureblood values and other magical culture traditions. They were concerned with the way Muggle culture was invading Wizarding Britain and mistakenly, in retrospect, aligned with a powerful leader that turned out to have his own insane agenda.
Lord Malfoy had argued, quite well in Hermione's opinion, that 'serving' under Voldemort had been enough punishment for most Death Eaters and every family had suffered grievous losses. He convinced many people that the Death Eaters were hapless victims of the lunatic, so additional punishment by the Ministry would be excessive and only worsen the divide in Wizarding Britain. It was hoped that the treaty negotiations would reunite the splintered society, minimize further suffering and ill will. Frankly, no one could afford continuing the turmoil of the previous years. The economy was wretched and magical birth rates were at an all time low.
Hermione was proud to find herself seated at the negotiation table, even if it had been going on for six long weeks now. She was clearly the odd man out, being so young and the only witch present. She not only represented the Muggle-born, but she had been elected to represent her generation for her side. Harry had initially been the nominee, but he declined and advocated for Hermione. With his endorsement that she was not only much smarter than him, but crafty enough to deal with a Slytherin like Malfoy, Hermione was unanimously selected to represent Dumbledore's Army, Muggle-borns, and the younger generation of the Wizarding world. Ron grumbled a bit about not having even been considered, but quieted quickly when he saw how much work it was.
Hermione sat quietly with her eyes closed as the group took a fifteen-minute break to refresh themselves. It was early July and the room eventually became hot and stale, despite repeated cooling charms. She smirked to herself as she remembered the look on Lord Malfoy's face when he saw she would be one of the party. He looked as if he had been forced to suck on a lemon. As soon as she received her copy of Malfoy's opening terms, Hermione had mercilessly taken her red quill to it while he read the document aloud. Hermione's copy of the parchment looked to be bleeding when he was through with his presentation – and that was only with one reading. Hermione closed his self-serving loopholes by rephrasing and using language that was more specific. She outright rejected some of his terms and began drafting addendums to most others. Arthur and Kingsley profusely thanked her for her attention to detail, noting that Britain's top solicitors would be envious of her ability to make the agreement ironclad. Snape just chuckled while Malfoy's usually unflappable composure was seriously tested. Severus was happy to inform Malfoy at the negotiation table that now it was his turn to deal with "the troublesome know-it-all" he had to teach all those years.
It quickly became clear to Lord Malfoy that Hermione had the real teeth in the group and she became his identified opponent. She was too smart for him to trick, whereas Arthur never really read the fine print or bothered about vague language Malfoy could later exploit. She was too moral for him to bribe, whereas Kingsley would have been happy to call it even if the 'former' Death Eaters were to pay a substantial amount to rebuild the Ministry and the Wizarding world. Severus just mediated and clarified the points as necessary, having the best understanding of where both sides were coming from. Lord Malfoy came alone the first week, but then brought Draco with him to assist. Hermione had to admit; both Malfoys were dangerously smart and neither fell for her attempts to get the better end of the deal any more than she fell for theirs. Draco could read as fast as she could and was quick to point out inequities and vagaries. She was not very surprised; he was always fighting with her for the top spot at school and sometimes did manage to best her scores by a small margin.
The six weeks of negation had been hard, but fruitful. Hermione could see the light at the end of the tunnel now. At points, the talks had broken down into snide, childish bickering – usually between herself and the Malfoys. They rarely resorted to shouting, but it seemed inevitable that a few blowups would occur given the stubborn nature of both parties. Lucius and Hermione had each stormed out of the room at least once in the course of events. They certainly tested the other's intelligence, patience, and determination. At certain points during the talks, everyone in the room had a chance to be thankful that no wands were allowed and that very strong wards prohibited any wandless magic. If not for those facts, both Hermione and each Malfoy would have inevitably experienced a painful hex or two. Despite all the trouble, a part of Hermione was going to miss the challenge. She did love a challenge, particularly a mental one. Both Malfoys were formidable opponents, especially as a team, but she was glad to be finishing.
The country needed this treaty and the people needed to return to their lives in peace. Hermione was pleased with the outcome really, even if she complained about the Malfoys. Anti-discrimination laws were central to the treaty, for both Muggle-born and pureblood. Hermione got to include a piece about anti-discrimination for 'other magical creatures' involved in the war. She knew this clause could be used to advance rights for werewolves, giants, and elves. Restitution to the Ministry and victims of the war were going to be paid by the Death Eaters. The Pureblood Aristocracy would be known as the Wizarding Aristocracy and non-purebloods would be able to hold titles. Opportunities for dialog and education regarding culture were included in the treaty as well. Hermione did not mind mandating a Wizarding Culture class at Hogwarts for all Muggle-born and Muggle-raised students. Frankly, she would have welcomed the knowledge herself. It was difficult being thrown into a new world, not knowing why people behaved the way they did. The aristocracy in particular had a number of social rules and customs completely unknown to her.
Hermione's was alerted that the fifteen-minute break was up. Lucius and Draco were conversing quietly on their side of the table, heads bent together, as Arthur and Kingsley returned to the room. Severus put down his potions journal and appeared ready to observe the proceedings, much has he had been the past six weeks. While he did not say much, he chimed in when necessary. He often met with Hermione afterwards to debrief and give her additional insight into what the Malfoys were trying to achieve. Hermione had come to feel quite close to her former Professor in the past six weeks and very much valued his counsel. He certainly was a shrewd man and did not let his friendship with the Malfoys get in the way of his goal of creating a fair treaty.
"It seems we have almost reached an accord," the elder Malfoy stated as everyone settled back at the table.
"Almost?" Hermione asked, arching a brow at the stoic looking blonds. She wondered what they wanted to add now.
"There is only the issue left is the Act of Good Faith," Draco explained.
"The Act of Good Faith is rarely used any longer gentleman! I don't even recall the particulars," Arthur chimed in. Hermione noticed Severus narrow his eyes and look suspiciously at the Malfoys. Hermione had learned that this was not a good sign and straightened her backbone, waiting for what would come next.
"It is an old Pureblood tradition that has unfortunately fallen by the wayside in the past several hundred years." Lucius intoned. He appeared almost bored, but his eyes flashed with excitement. Hermione knew this meant he was going to present something particularly challenging. "It used to be that treaties and contracts between countries, landowners, families, or businesses were sealed with some sort of personal connection to show that both sides were earnest and genuine in their dealings. It also helped ensure that no one reneged on their side of the deal afterwards."
"What kind of personal connection?" Kingsley asked impatiently. He was clearly tired and wanted to process done.
"Well Mr. Shacklebolt, it varied depending on the nature of the deal," Draco reported. "Most commonly, two people from either side were bonded in some way. This was achieved through a life-debt being assumed by both parties, the exchange of a Wizarding Oath, or – in the most important treaties – a marriage uniting both sides."
Hermione did not like the blaze in his eyes as his gaze landed upon her. He was just as Machiavellian as his father was and she narrowed her eyes in suspicion.
"And you propose to marry Miss Granger?" Severus drawled, much to Hermione's shock. "That is what you are going to propose, isn't it?"
"You know us so well, Severus," Lucius smiled. "We propose that Miss Granger become Lady Malfoy in order to seal this deal. It would certainly go a long way toward establishing the precedent of accepting the Muggle-born into the aristocracy, as stipulated in the treaty. What better place to start than at home?"
Hermione was, for once, speechless. Her head just swiveled back and forth between the Malfoys and Severus, mouth agape.
"We've rendered her speechless, Father," Draco chuckled. "I never thought I would see that day."
"You still did not mention who exactly she would marry," Severus reminded the group.
"Who…what…You can't….seriously," Hermione finally sputtered. After taking a deep breath, she was able to continue. "You can't be serious! You expect to marry me off to complete this treaty?"
"It is traditional," Arthur reluctantly conceded. "At least it was traditional for wizards to seal an important agreement with a marriage of parties important to those on both sides. And we have agreed to incorporate more wizarding culture traditions back into general society."
"But why me?" Hermione almost shrieked. "I am not important."
"Well that certainly isn't true," injected Lucius. "Who better than the Gryffindor Princess to marry the Slytherin Prince?"
"So it's to be Draco then?" Severus asked, eyebrow arched in question.
"It would be a traditional Malfoy marriage," replied Draco to Severus. "As you know, it has been several generations since we've had one. Abraxas died when Father was young, so Father's marriage to Mother, may she rest, was largely engineered by Voldemort unfortunately. You know how he favored the Black sisters, as unstable as they may have been."
Hermione did not notice Severus' glare or the sour turn of his mouth, as she was too busy staring disbelievingly at the Malfoys. She was really only taking in a fraction of the conversation. The fact that they wanted her to marry Draco effectively distracted her from what was being said.
"But you don't even like me!" she blurted to Draco.
"Why, Hermione," Draco drawled, with a bit of a leer. "You have proven yourself to be everything a Malfoy wife should be. You are highly intelligent, shrewd, determined, willful, and strong. And who ever said I didn't like you?"
"Um, you did!" Hermione shouted. "All through school you picked on me!"
"Miss Granger," Lucius cut in calmly, "Let us let bygones be bygones. Isn't that what this treaty is meant to represent? I agree that Draco may not have always shown his admiration for you in the most mature way, but it was certainly present. I was frequently subjected to rants about you, which oddly enough increased after you broke his nose. Well that is not so odd really; we Malfoys appreciate strong women who can challenge us. If anyone is powerful enough to be Lady Malfoy, it is you. Apparently, we intimidate most people, or so I am told. However, you do not seem to fall in that category. Besides, the fact that Draco and I are quite fond of you is merely icing on the cake. Arranged marriages are common in the Wizarding Aristocracy, part of our culture if you will."
"This Act of Good Faith," Kingsley spoke up. "How negotiable is it?"
"Not." Lucius stated firmly. "The need for an Act of Good Faith is not negotiable. And as the party that initiated the cease-fire and began the treaty by presenting our terms first, it is our right to decide what the Act will entail."
"And this is what we have chosen," Draco continued. "We wish to make Hermione Granger Lady Malfoy through a traditional Malfoy marriage ceremony. We will not accept any other offer or substitutions. This is final."
"And I can assume you will have no problem going to the media and letting them know of your terms?" Severus asked slowly, his expression still dark.
"Of course the people have a right to know," Lucius replied. "Miss Granger has crafted an admirable treaty and now has only to agree to this last stipulation to make it a reality. It will be completely her decision to reject it. Then, of course, our society will continue to be at this troubling stalemate. Those anti-discrimination laws she worded so flawlessly will not come to pass, much to the disappointment of the magical creatures of this world I am sure. It is quite literally in her hands."
Hermione looked beseechingly around the room, but did not find any solace. She knew the truth of Lucius' words. She had to do this. She had to make this sacrifice, for the good of the whole.
"Fine," she eventually stated evenly, her voice sounding a lot more certain that she felt.