Author's Notes: I'm going to mention here (and not in the disclaimer) that this story is very loosely based on a novel by Julia Quinn (It's called Brighter Than the Sun. You really should read it, especially if you like romance novels). I really only took one part from it, the will. Well, the will's content anyways. Julia Quinn didn't show us the will, just told us what was in it. But other than that, it's all mine.
[10/18/03] Reposted for grammar, length extension, and corrections to what is related to book five.
Pairing: Draco/Hermione. I think it's pretty obvious, so I don't mind telling you.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. The idea (and VERY basic plot) for this fic came from "Brighter Than the Sun" by Julia Quinn. I don't own that. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Chapter One: Where There's A Will...
Draco Malfoy leaned against the headboard of his mahogany bed, glancing at the small grandfather clock on the far wall of the spacious bedroom. 12:07. He was meeting with his father's solicitor at 1:00 for the reading of Lucius' last will and testament. He sighed, looking up at the dark-green canopy of the four-poster. He wasn't even sure why he was going. After all, he was his father's only child, so it was a given that he would inherit everything.
But when he'd said as much to Mr. Janis, the older man had hesitated, his aged face crinkling into a frown, saying, "I wouldn't take anything for granted, son." He'd shaken his gray head, given the younger wizard a half-smile, and taken his leave.
Draco sighed. Mr. Janis most likely knew what he was talking about—and he obviously knew something Draco didn't. This was something that had always annoyed Draco. He hated it when people knew something that he didn't, because they always lorded it over him. This was why he always made it a point to know everything he could about a situation before he walked into it. He supposed it had something to do with the leftover Auror training that still embedded itself in his consciousness.
Truthfully, he was a little scared. Lucius had discovered in the final battle that Draco's loyalties lay with Dumbledore, not Voldemort, and before he had been sent to Azkaban, the elder Malfoy had met with Mr. Janis. Draco could only assume that Lucius had updated his will, which Lucius had not done since, as far as he knew, Draco's birth.
Draco shook his head, running a hand through the light blond locks. He'd cut it relatively short, at least what would have been short according to his father. He wasn't even sure why he cared what his father thought anymore—the man was dead, after all. He had died within two years of his removal to Azkaban. "Good riddance," Draco muttered, standing suddenly and walking to the dresser placed a few feet away from the bed. He yanked open the top drawer, digging through socks and underwear unceremoniously.
He finally found what he was looking for—a picture of his mother. In it she was…happy, an emotion he had never seen her exhibit in all the time he had lived and grown up with her. The bright blonde hair he had always seen confined in a strict bun was flowing out about her shoulder and her eyes were laughing, the girl in the portrait winking and wrinkling her nose at him every now and then. He sighed, again wondering why he didn't keep it out when he seemed to look at it every day.
He knew why, really. It made him think. It made him think about his mother, and that made him think about his father, and that made him think about their marriage… And that made him wonder whether he would ever get married, if he would ever enter the horrendous state that was considered 'matrimony.'
Draco slowly set the portrait back under the clothing, moving it so that the picture was covered. He closed the drawer and leaned his head against the top of the dresser, wondering what had made his mother lose that smile. Had it been sudden? Had there been one even which had changed it all? Or was it a slow, gradual process, so slow that she hadn't even noticed the change until it was too late?
He didn't know why he was worrying. Everything would be fine.
Hermione Lynne Granger, twenty-three years old, five foot two inches tall with wavy brown hair that fell to the middle of her back when wet, sat on the edge of the sleek mauve leather couch in the living room of the apartment she shared with her friend, Elizabeth. She was staring at a sheet of parchment, her hair, which was loose, concealing her face; the sheet said in a fine, precise script:
Miss Hermione Granger, The firm of Janis and Gregory requests your presence at the reading of the last will and testament of Lucius Xavier Malfoy. You are named in the will. Please be there at 1:00 p.m. on Monday the 28th of February.
Mr. Edward Janis
Hermione still had not decided whether or not to go. She looked at the clock. 12:31. She had less than half an hour. She had no idea why she was named in the will. There was no reason for her to be, unless the elder Malfoy had decided to curse her one last time or something. He'd done that often enough, of course, throughout the war, but perhaps he had decided it wasn't enough. She knew she would never stop cursing him, whether it be in the privacy of her own mind or out loud.
But she'd never know what the will was about unless she went. Her roommate has been very adamant about it.
"'Mione," Elizabeth had insisted on making up a nickname for her the second they'd met, despite all her protests, "just go. I know that the Malfoys hate Muggles and Muggleborns and everything, but what if… I don't know, but what if he's left you some money? You know that job at the Ministry doesn't pay that much, and you've been working there for three years without a promotion!"
Hermione sighed, remembering her friend's words. It was true. She hadn't realized when she'd applied—and then accepted—that it was a dead-end job. But then again, any employment in the Ministry was hard to come by. She was afraid she'd been a bit like Percy when she'd started—eager to please, and not caring when she was stepped on (figuratively, of course). So now everyone took it for granted. Only it was worse than Percy, because she was a woman as well as a Muggleborn, both of which were discriminated against quite a bit.
The whole discrimination thing bothered her, and she would have done something about it—had she had any time. The job took up too much of her time, and she was paid the same wage even when working overtime—no time-and-a-half for Ministry employees, no sirree…
At least she had Jeff. She smiled at the thought. He, too, had attended Hogwarts, although he had been a Ravenclaw, as well as two years above her. She didn't remember him from their schooldays, but then again, she hadn't fraternized with very many people outside of her house or her classes. They had officially met at the Ministry, at a small get-together that was being held in honor of the first anniversary of Voldemort's defeat, and had been going out for almost two years now.
Despite the talk to the contrary (they had been dating for two years), they hadn't slept together. She'd been tempted—oh, yes, definitely tempted. Viktor Krum, the summer after her fourth year; though he hadn't tried anything…untoward, they had been getting rather close when she had panicked. Ron, during their short romance in sixth, had apparently not been much better than any other teenage boy in terms of controlling himself. Seamus, with whom she'd dated for a six-month period in seventh, though she had to admit she had come closest with him. And, of course, Jeff. But she'd always said no. And luckily, they had always respected her wishes.
Hermione was relatively certain that Jeff was going to ask her to marry him soon. After all, they'd been dating for two years. Surely the next step was marriage? She knew he thought the next step was sex, but he hadn't pressured her, or even asked, actually, for at least two months. In her opinion, he was not only respecting her wishes, but letting her get used to the idea of them together. There was also the fact that she had heard from a very reliable source (never mind it had been overheard from one of the gossips at work) that Jeff had been seen in the jewelry store in Diagon Alley. She glanced at the digital clock readout again. It was 12:58; time to decide.
The twenty-three-year-old Muggleborn witch stood, concentrated—and then she was gone.
Draco walked into Mr. Janis' office, a feeling of foreboding in the pit of his stomach. There really wasn't anything that could explain such a feeling, since Mr. Janis always made sure to keep the atmosphere in his office light and airy. Normally Draco was very calm and collected, but right now he felt quite the opposite. Two seconds later, that feeling seemed well placed when he saw Hermione Granger, bushy hair and all, seated in front of Janis' desk.
"What are you doing here?" he sneered at her. She was wearing a deep burgundy robe that was very loose—it probably hadn't been tailored—and her bushy hair was knotted at the base of her neck, a few stray tendrils coming out to rest against her neck. It was the hair that threw him off, as he had never seen any of it come out of her bun. She had always reminded him rather eerily of McGonagall, especially when he'd seen her at the Order of the Phoenix meetings after their graduation.
She turned around and glared at him, her brown eyes flashing. Draco knew that look; usually it came just before she made a snide remark about his heritage or speculated on how far inbred he was. Before she could speak—for which Draco was truly grateful—a voice spoke up behind him.
"Miss Granger is here at my request, Mr. Malfoy. It seems she was named in your father's will." Draco's eyebrows went up. Mr. Janis—as that was who had spoken—continued, his voice almost bored. "Would you please take a seat, Mr. Malfoy?"
Draco sat in the only chair available—it happened to be next to Granger. Mr. Janis walked behind his large, immaculately clean desk (lawyers were rather scary in that way, especially Janis), setting a stack of yellowed parchments down on the glossy surface. He smiled at them and leaned back in his chair; Draco would have sworn the black he was wearing were starched, as he faintly heard a crackle as the material bent beneath its owner's weight.
"Now, one other person was supposed to be here," Janis glanced at notes written in a small, meticulous hand, "a Miss Pansy Parkinson. But I'm afraid she was unable to make it, as she is in Greece on her honeymoon." Mr. Janis smiled, blue eyes shining with feigned happiness (though some would contribute it to old age). "Therefore, we will begin."
Mr. Janis cleared his throat. "I need both of you to sign a waiver, indicating that you will not contest anything in the context of the will or make any attempt to change it, either by force or strength of will." He opened a drawer, pulling out two sheets of paper, and handed one to both Draco and Miss Granger. The latter frowned, perusing the article in its entirety, while Draco looked bored and raised a brow at Janis, waiting for the lawyer to hand him a quill with which to sign.
Janis' mouth twisted. The Malfoy boy was growing to be much like his father, whether he knew it or not. Just as demanding, and no less forgiving. Like father, like son. Janis handed Draco his quill, pushing the bottle of ink towards him. Draco signed it with a flourish, doing some odd squiggly line with the y at the end of his last name; Janis had seen Draco signature—and seen the boy sign it—enough times to know precisely what it looked like even if it was upside-down.
Draco returned the quill, deliberately ignoring Miss Granger's outstretched hand. Janis handed it to her, raising a brow at Draco. Normally he was a nice-enough man, especially to women. Janis could only guess what it was about Miss Granger that made Draco hate her so. He would have thought her to be Lucius' mistress, but having read the will… Well, he supposed it was still possible, but he knew Lucius—better than he would have liked to, actually.
Janis collected the parchments and set them in the right corner of his desk, closest to him. He opened the will to the first page, and began to read.
"I, Lucius Xavier Malfoy, in the event of my demise, leave all titles, properties, and lands in my possession to my son, Draco Lucius Malfoy."
Hermione rolled her eyes, leaning back in her chair as Draco smiled. At least she wouldn't be sitting here for that long, as Lucius would probably leave everything to Draco before cursing her one last time. At least the lawyer seemed nice enough. It was a small allowance, but better than nothing.
"However, only in the event of his marriage to Miss Hermione Granger shall any and all funds in my name be transferred to him."
Draco gaped, his brow furrowing with confusion, shock, and rage. Surely his father couldn't do that? It just… It couldn't be legal, to bind your son to an arranged marriage without his consent, and certainly without his knowledge! It had to be illegal.
Seeing their disbelieving expressions, Mr. Janis spoke. "Yes, he can do that. I'm afraid this," he tapped the will with a short finger, "is completely legally sound. And before you get it into your heads that you might marry and then promptly divorce as soon as the funds are transferred, Mr. Malfoy has prepared for that as well.
"In the event of their divorce, all funds previously in my name shall be transferred to Miss Pansy Parkinson."
"I don't see the point of any of this," Draco spat, his voice hard and cold. "I have money of my own. And I can sell the property that he left me." There certainly was enough of it that he'd never even been to. The property in Wales alone would be worth well over a million galleons.
"Actually, Mr. Malfoy," the solicitor said calmly, as if very used to dealing with irate young men (which he no doubt was), "you can't. Besides, do you know how much the upkeep of those lands costs?" He flipped through the will, looking for something. "Ah, here it is.
"Any and all lands previously in my name may not be sold for profit unless the requirements in Section 1.b. are met."
Draco stared at the older man, anger boiling in his stomach. He slammed his fist down on the arm of the chair he was sitting in, glaring at Granger. She seemed as shocked and horrified about all of this as he was, her hands clenched in her lap while she narrowed her eyes at Mr. Janis—but she could not possibly be as angered as he was. He was incensed that his father would do such a thing to him, his only heir! "I don't understand why he would do this," Draco said quietly, anger evident in his voice.
Mr. Janis nodded thoughtfully, his short gray hair shaking ever so slightly. "Yes, your father thought of that, too," he said slowly, sounding out his words carefully. "He told me to give this to you if you had that reaction." He handed the younger man a piece of parchment, folded lengthwise.
Draco opened it slowly, a foreign emotion that he dimly recognized as fear rising in his stomach, and began to read.
I am disappointed in you. Did you think you could get away with it? Spying for Dumbledore. How do you think it felt to realize that my son was a traitor to the Dark Lord, as well as myself? Well, seeing that you have dug your hole, as those Muggles you seem to be so fond of say, now you must lie in it.
Your father (though it pains me to admit it),
Lucius Xavier Malfoy
Draco's grip slackened on the sheet of parchment, but Mr. Janis grabbed it before it could fall, looking at him calmly. How could he be so calm? Draco wondered silently. His whole world was caving in around him, and Janis was acting as though they were at Sunday brunch, discussing the latest mystery novel by J.R. Brown. Suddenly the older wizard smiled. "So," he said, "shall we finish the reading, then?"