If you had asked Draco how he pictured his eventual wedding day in the future, you probably would have gotten a disgusted look and an insult (about your looks or your sexuality, depending on your own gender).
The truth was, for him, it was a given. Marriage was just one of those things that would happen eventually in the future, like graduation from Hogwarts, a place at his father's side in the family business, handsome clothes at every stage between birth and death.
It was necessary, and he regarded it as such. He would prefer that the necessaries in his life be above-average, indeed, the finest available. He only accepted the largest and strongest of owls, the finest of wands, the most luxurious of shorts. He didn't even have to think about such things, just accept that they were the best available. If that meant his wife must be the purest of purebloods, impeccably mannered and richly endowed, then that was how it must be.
A nice pair and a pretty face would be the icing on top, but such things didn't overly concern or consume him. As long as she was attractive enough to guarantee their children the same, he could seek more obvious beauties outside of marriage. When he pictured the altar, there was an attractive pair of breasts encased in ivory satin – though above the neckline, he honestly couldn't picture much.
He pictured his like most society weddings he had been to – dress robes, fine wines, the possibility that Father would show some small hint of approval. Mother would sniff and wipe her eyes, and a cadre of young witches would mourn his absence from the marriage market. Perhaps he'd be fighting off a hangover from a brilliant stag night.
The last wedding he'd been to that had made any kind of impression on him had been a society wedding between his fourth and fifth year, the marriage of Gregory Goyle's older sister, Griselda. She married into Crabbe's family, a second cousin with the similar name of Griswald and the even more similar features of a soft potato.
Indeed, there were some whispers that the families were a little too close in blood. Draco thought this hilarious and began crafting insults while watching Crabbe and Goyle stand for their relatives in matching robes that strained across their frames. Indeed, the resemblance had never been closer. His eyes shifted to the bridesmaids, and found his stomach flip in disgust at the sight of Ursula Crabbe winking flirtily at her cousin. Crabbe promptly turned scarlet, before rearranging his features in the approximation of a troll's smile.
"They're just trying to prove something with this wedding," he heard his father whisper to his mother, seated beside him in the assembled guests waiting for the bride to arrive. "Reassuring him about their allegiance. Griswald was offered a choice of three eligible women and he chose her. Loyalty is one thing, inbreeding is quite another."
"They could have done something else," his mother whispered back. "Plenty of Pureblood beauties on the Continent who might have helped cement some connections. Those two families are starting to look far too similar."
Lucius Malfoy turned to his son. "Be thankful that I am an only child, Draco," he said in a harsh whisper. "You have no female cousins and must look outside the family." Evidently Draco's Half-blood cousin Nymphadora didn't count.
There would be a reception at Draco's own wedding, dancing, and a honeymoon in Greece. There would be congratulations and gifts from people high up in the Ministry and in Hogwarts, and the reminder that they'd been invited to his wedding used as leverage in future dealings. He didn't think far beyond that, except for the reasonable guarantee of sons, mistresses, and leading the family business someday.
Marriage itself? It wasn't even a consideration.
If you had asked Hermione how she pictured her eventual wedding day in the future, you probably would have gotten a disgusted look and a lecture about how her worth was not determined by her marriage prospects, and the fact that a woman (and a witch) need no longer wed to have a place in society.
The truth was, Hermione didn't think too much about the wedding. She'd had her fill of weddings by the age of five, when her parents tied the knot. Her mother had been gorgeously outfitted in white tulle, a fact which had provided both sides of the family with endless amusement, given that Hermione trotted down the aisle as flower girl.
Hermione had been left in the care of her paternal grandmother and aunts, a group of women who lived for scandal and who forgot that Hermione had understood and used more English at the age of three than most children did at the age of nine.
"Such a to-do. And for what? To celebrate their putting the official stamp on it after ten years of shacking up?" The aunt sniffed and took a sip of champagne as Hermione played with the pink rosettes on her dress, listening to their diatribe and watching her parents glide across the dance floor. "Don't know who she's trying to fool with that white dress. The proof is right in front of us."
"It's fine to go down the aisle with a belly," chimed in her grandmother. "It's even fine to go down the aisle afterwards, if you want the nicer pictures. But to wait for five more years! They're just trying to prove something."
"They think they're far too clever for convention," sighed another aunt. "But they came round to our side eventually. Perhaps she's getting a bit desperate? They hired that lovely new dental hygienist a few months ago…"
Hermione didn't completely understand, but she absorbed those words, even as her father swept her up in his arms for a dance, letting her prop her toes on his dress shoes, even as her fingers tingled oddly and the champagne uncorked wildly, drenching her aunts and grandmother. The incident was put down to an improperly corked bottle.
Later, taking pictures in her mother's lap, Hermione scrambled up to whisper a question in her mother's ear. The question didn't make much sense to her, but then neither did her mother's answers when she wondered why the speeding bus jumped over her, or the books flew from the high shelf into her hands.
Her mother simply stroked Hermione's hair, being sure to avoid the circlet of pink roses that crowned her. "Don't worry yourself about what they say," she murmured, smiling as if to let her daughter in on a big secret. "They think I was proving a point. But really, sweetie, sometimes you have to wait for a man to grow into himself. Marriage is a big step, and it's not for everybody. I didn't want to be left sad. I wanted to know that it was right for both me and your daddy."
"Why wouldn't it be right?" Hermione exclaimed back, then burst into tears. All the adults concerned felt that she'd simply had a long day and was overtired. An aunt was commandeered to settle her into sleep in a hotel room.
So growing up, Hermione didn't picture ruffled white dresses, large parties, lots of friends and family. She grew up with her mother's advice in her ear – better single than to be sad and unsure. And she was a patient person. Perhaps she'd have a romance with someone good-looking, and they'd consider formalizing the arrangement. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
Married? Truth to tell, Hermione wasn't even sure it was something she'd ever want.
Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger were married in an office at the Magic of Ministry, about twelve years after first meeting each other on the Hogwarts Express.
The bride wore a simple short white dress and red heels. Her hair was pulled back and arranged by Luna Lovegood, which meant it was piled into a reasonable hairdo, then adorned in the back with tiny pomegranates said by many to promote fertility (and by the hairstylist to prevent the ruinous arrival of Blibbering Humdingers). The groom wore dress robes, borrowed from Blaise Zabini, hastily and somewhat unsuccessfully shortened across the ankles. If you looked closely, you could see the outline of a black eye, inflicted by Daphne Greengrass in defense of her sister's honor after a broken engagement.
There were a few friends there – Harry Potter, George and Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom on the bride's side. On the groom's side, just Blaise Zabini and Gregory Goyle stood uncomfortably in the company, flanked by Andromeda Tonks, holding a restless Teddy by the hand.
Neither family was represented – Draco's parents had disowned him at the announcement of his marriage intentions, and Hermione's parents were irreversibly Obliviated and living in Australia. Fewer friends were present than Hermione had once thought - at a Weasley wedding, there might have been dozens in attendance, friends from all over the Weasley family tree. Fewer allies were present at her own: a few friends from Hogwarts stood for her, but given the rapid pace of events, invitations had been limited to a brief note delivered by owl that morning.
Draco hadn't even bothered with owl-delivered notes – he knew that the majority of people he'd grown up with wouldn't leave behind deeply-ingrained beliefs just because they'd lost a war. He'd been concentrating on making it out of the manor in one piece.
Blaise raised an eyebrow at him. Hermione had not yet arrived at the office by that point, and Draco didn't need words to understand what he was asking. Are you really going to go through with this? Are you going to thumb your nose at hundreds of years of tradition, break the unbroken line?
He lowered his eyes. Truth to tell, he was a tad nervous. Telling his parents had required one form of bravery. Setting out to build a new life with someone required a different kind of bravery. Draco was rather a novice in both forms, and had never exactly been an enthusiastic student to begin with.
His throat tightened. Did he have the courage for this?
Just then, Hermione rushed through the door, a small bouquet of purple spider flowers in one hand. Luna fussed with her hair on one side, Ginny attempted to stick a veil on top from the other, and Potter brought up the rear, stony-faced.
Draco took in her slowly. His bride. His wife-to-be. The woman who somehow forgave him for all his past sins against her. Who lent him her books and borrowed his. Who flirted with him during their mutual coffee breaks, at first for fun, then more seriously. Who pressed against him in a corner, trading furious, frantic kisses. Who tied him up for an hour or more before granting him the sweetest release. Who punched him out when she heard he was engaged to another woman. Who, incredibly, accepted his apologies and promises.
He was still a novice at the courage he needed. But he knew he'd never have the courage to live without this woman.
Draco knew he wasn't supposed to – wizards were supposed to be solemn at this particular ceremony. But facing his bride's bright smile, he could not help but return it.
Hermione's mother might never remember what drove her to wait nearly a decade before marrying her husband. She never explained it to her daughter. But Hermione remembered the telling.
She remembered it when the other witches in her year talked about marriage and babies, and had been hard-pressed not to shudder. She knew it was the norm in this new world of hers, that Harry and Ron's parents had married soon out of Hogwarts. She smiled when Harry and Ginny announced their engagement, but thinly and with inner reservations.
Hermione remembered it when Ron Weasley went down on a knee after a few months of dating. She remembered her mother talking about her father growing into himself. Ron had made significant progress through his Hogwarts years, but he would never shed that irritating inability to accept her strengths. And she would never be sure of him.
And yet, when she reconnected with Draco Malfoy years later, she was never sure of anything. Where she expected him to be hardened, he had softened, humbled by his losses, by the life he'd led since the war. Where she expected a snicker and a sneer, she received a smile and a lingering glance.
They had not been involved long – no more than a year. Part of that had been on a break after she decked him once she found out about the woman he was engaged to. She knew that would have been it for her mother. But Hermione found herself accepting his apologies (she did make him work to get her back, though).
But could she trust him? Was this just a phase of rebellion against his parents before a few less-than-spectacular months with her made him reconsider? How could she be sure? These thoughts played through her head as Luna fussed with her hair and Ginny attempted to pin a veil to her head. Hermione just plowed ahead, grinning at the recklessness of it all.
Draco beamed at her, and Hermione felt a twinge of regret for her earlier thoughts. He was so eager…
Something must have alerted him to the thoughts and doubts racing through her head. Without prompting from the official, while they waited in line behind people filing for custody arrangements, for birth and death certificates, he turned to face her, taking her hands in his. He swung their joined hands together, bouncing them up and down, bringing her back to the here and now.
He had become the person with whom she could match wits, an experience in and of its own. He had become the harmony to her melody, and vice-versa. He matched her in wit, in strength, in curiosity (he didn't match her in kindness, but he'd mellowed to an extent). He was the curmudgeon who softened for her, the hawk whose feathers she ruffled just to smooth them back down.
Impulsively, Hermione seized his face in her hands, kissing him. She'd caught him by surprise, fisting his robes in her hands and standing on tiptoe to press against his momentarily still body. It didn't take him long to respond, and he dove in, palms cupping her jawline in the way she liked best. It was one of the most secure feelings in the world.
"Oi, Granger!" Zabini exclaimed. "You're supposed to wait until after the ceremony."
Hermione favored him with a two-fingered salute before pulling back to look at her husband-to-be.
Yes. She'd never been more certain of anything. They didn't have to prove a damn thing to anyone else.