Disclaimer: All the characters and situations related to Harry Potter world, belong to JKR.
A/N: Plot ideas, its premise, summary, title, and the concept belong to White Bishop. It's been a wonderful collaboration and I'm really thankful for this opportunity. We had a great time writing this tale of Draco and Hermione and hope you have fun reading too.
Of Matches and Malfoy
A loud cheer greeted Draco's ears as his feet hurried towards the stadium. He took his pocket watch out and checked the time. He grunted and looked around. Why should be the apparition points be located this far from the gates?
"Finally, the prince makes an appearance."
Draco stopped and looked at his friend. "What are you still doing here Blaise? I thought you would be in the stands by now."
"Waiting for you, apparently," Blaise drawled kicking his feet off the wall. "Come on, Theo and Greg are waiting," he said guiding Draco to the VIP entrance.
They passed through the invisible shield, directly entering the arena. A guard shot his hand to halt them. "Your wands please."
"What?" Draco asked sneering at the guard.
"Wands are not allowed inside," the guard stood his ground. "We don't want a repeat of what happened in the last season."
"Do you know who are you talking to?" Draco asked advancing towards him.
"Draco mate," Blaise stopped Draco with a sly smile. He then turned to the pale guard and spoke. "Of course," he said handing his wand. Then he reached into the pockets of Draco's robe and dug out his wand. "You take good care of them. You don't want to face the wrath of a Malfoy and a Zabini."
The Guard flinched at Blaise's words. He took the wands without a word and exited their proximity.
"What the hell was that?" Draco asked with an incredulous look.
"A security measure. Fans of Harpies and Puddlemere are well known for their violent acts of love for their favorite teams."
"I know that. I'm talking about you putting your hands in my robe," he whispered in a harsh tone.
Blaise just winked and headed towards their box.
Draco shook his head and gritted his teeth but followed Blaise.
"What's with the scowling face?" Theo asked as Draco entered the box. When Draco continued with his sulking, he turned to Blaise and asked, "What did you do?"
"Draco," Gregory Goyle greeted passing a glass of Fire whiskey to the rest of the group.
"It's boiling outside. Why are we drinking this scalding drink?" Theo asked bearing an expression of disdain after taking a sip.
"Allow me," Blaise said with a dramatic flourish of his wand. He spelled a charm to cool down the drink in Theo's hand to an icy cold one.
"I thought your wand was confiscated?" Draco asked raising his eyebrow.
"No, it's still with me," Blaise smirked. "And so is yours."
"What's with all the drama at the entrance?" Draco asked taking out his own wand from his pocket.
"We'll lose precious time arguing with those imbeciles. So a fake wand sounded like a better idea. He's happy with the fake wand and we are happy with the originals. Problem solved," Blaise explained.
"Welcome to the Finals of European Quidditch League Cup. The weather is hot and the anticipation is wild. Without any further ado, let's welcome the Champions of the last season, 'The Puddlemere United'," a large voice boomed in the surroundings, interrupting the Slytherins' chatter.
A wave of navy blue rushed into the air accompanied by the crowd's loud cheer. They surrounded the pitch and performed a beautiful maneuver charming the crowds. Draco with his friends beamed at their favorite team, lifting their glasses in cheer.
"Now, for the first time in European Quidditch League Cup's history, we welcome the all women team, who have surprised everyone by proceeding to the finals with their magnanimous success. 'The Holyhead Harpies'."
Zooming forward and breaking apart the formation of the Puddlemere United team, a green tide of players lunged into the arena, with a louder cheer than the former champions. As the crowd watched on, a player separated from the formation and headed towards the box opposite to the one Draco and his friends had occupied.
"The terrific chaser and the aptly named Firecracker of the Harpies, receiving her traditional good luck kiss from none other than, Harry Potter," the commentator exclaimed. Draco adjusted his Omniculars and turned his attention to the people sitting opposite to him. His eyes fell on the sea of red headed people indented by an occasional brown, black, and blonde hair. A blushing Harry Potter gave a peck on Ginny Weasley's lips and she zoomed back into the formation with a bright and cheery mood.
"She's their good luck charm," Theo commented. "Since the time she joined the team, Harpies' are doing quite well. Puddlemere has a tough game ahead."
"You're not wrong my friend," Blaise said turning his Omniculars to the players. "And being the chosen one's girlfriend does add the extra charm."
"I don't a know a thing about that team but those girls are fit," Goyle said wiping the drool from his lips.
But Draco's Omniculars were still set on the box looking at its occupants. Especially, the golden trio. Harry Potter was still sporting a red face cheering his girlfriend. His faithful sidekick joined him clapping with enthusiasm at his sister. Draco's eyes trailed to the brains of the trio. She too was smiling brightly with all the others in the box, but Draco could clearly say she was an outsider amidst all of them. She squealed loudly when Weasley pulled her up to join the cheer. Draco smirked and turned his attention back to the players.
"Puddlemere is going to win. Those Harpies don't stand a chance," Draco said with a proud voice.
"And how do you know that?" Theo asked.
"Because it's our team. Puddlemere has got our support and it will make them win."
"Want to hear something interesting?" Blaise whispered as the commentator introduced the team members.
"Always," Theo said pushing forward in his chair.
"The chosen one's proposing his girlfriend tonight after the game," Blaise said smirking.
"Holy shite," Goyle said dropping his glass. "Is it really true?"
"A nose never lies. I have seen him sniffing around some Jewelry stores recently. A little birdie at the stadium cooed about a special arrangement at the end of the game," Blaise replied with a smug expression, tapping his nose.
"I won't be surprised. With Magical matching making the headlines, people are prone to make hasty decisions," Theo said.
"Magical matching? Is that a real thing now? I thought it was some nonsense cooked up by the Unspeakables," Draco said quirking his eyebrow.
"No my dear friend. It's the real deal. The results were quite astonishing, ninety-nine percent foolproof," Theo confirmed.
"What the hell is this Magical Matching?" Goyle asked scratching his head.
Draco gave a sigh and went on to explain. "It is one of the ancient practices followed by our ancestors. When the magical population started dwindling back in times, they selected various groups of people. Performed some blood rituals to determine their magical potential. Based on those results two people with unique magical cores were chosen to beget an offspring." At Goyle's confusion, he immediately corrected his sentence. "Produce a child with superior magical potential."
"And the first goal of the game by none other than our own firecracker, Ginny Weasley. Ten points to Holyhead Harpies," the commentator announced dragging the boys' attention back to the game.
"Harpies are surely here for the win," Blaise said. "I think we need to create some kind of diversion to take off the attention on Harpies and move it to the Puddlemere," Blaise said brandishing his wand.
"You will no such thing, Blaise. We are here just to watch," Theo admonished, but Draco winked at Blaise twirling his wand too.
"So they are doing those blood rituals now?" Goyle asked bringing up, Magical matching again.
"No," Theo answered this time. "They have adopted a new technique, Muggle I think. Even using a single strand of your hair or a chopped bit of your nail, they'll determine your magical propensity."
"What a disgusting thing to do," Goyle said cringing. "Only Muggles can think of such crude ways."
"Sadly, that's what is happening," Theo said patting Greg's back.
"It isn't bad, Draco. By using simple methods, you'll be able to choose who is going to be your partner in order to have a strong magical child," Theo said shrugging his shoulders. "I think it's a brilliant idea."
"It's a stupid idea. For the sake of a magical child, you are ready to consort with anyone. What if it pairs you with a Mudblood?" Blaise scoffed at Theo's statements.
Theo ignored Blaise's words and turned to Draco waiting for his reactions.
"Oh, look. It definitely looks like our team's going to get their first goal," Draco said fixing his Omniculars.
"Draco what do you think about this matching method?" Theo asked directly.
"Look, Theo. Honestly, I don't care. I'm happy with Astoria. If it works for you that's great, but Blaise does have a point. What if you are matched to a Mudblood?" Draco asked.
"Are you going to marry her? Further more, will your family accept her?" Blaise asked with a sarcastic smile.
Draco sighed at Blaise's mention of Theo's family. He knew Blaise had definitely crossed a line. By the look on Blaise's face, Draco knew, he too realized his mistake. "Shite, sor…," Blaise started to say.
"Well, I don't have to worry about that. Now do I?" Theo said with a sharp sting in his voice and turned his head away.
Draco reached out and gave a smack on the side of Blaise's head.
Blaise rubbed the sore spot and glared at Draco, "It just skipped my mind."
"Even Greg remembers Blaise. How could you forget?" Draco hissed under his breath.
Goyle, who had missed the parts of their conversation asked with a confused face, "What?"
"Nothing," Draco said looking at Theo's stoic face. He gave a gentle squeeze to his friend's shoulder.
"I'm alright, Draco. Enjoy the game," Theo said in a no-nonsense tone.
Draco turned his attention back to the game as a somber mood took over the box. Apart from the few people closer to Theo, no one knew about Theo's father. He was one of the Death Eaters that was hauled to Azkaban at the end of the war. But the man lost all his sanity in the midst of Azkaban. Not too long after his incarceration, he threw himself into the sea, leaving Theo an orphan to the world.
Theo had been withdrawn in the days that followed. Draco with the help of the other Slytherins managed to bring him back to his usual self, but the hurt always lingered. Theo being a Slytherin never showed his emotions, but Draco knew better.
The game carried on with much enthusiasm and vigor. Both the teams' chasers engaged in a brutal battle over the Quaffle and were currently standing neck to neck. To the gathered Slytherins' happiness, Puddlemere United had the lead by 50 points.
When a particular move almost pushed Ginny Weasley off her broom, there were loud protests from the box opposite to them. Ron Weasley stood angrily yelling at the Beater who hurled the Bludger at Ginny.
"Weasel still loses his temper in a Quidditch match. What a loser!" Goyle said laughing.
Draco saw the whole altercation. He turned to Blaise and asked, "Any news on Weaselbee and Granger? I heard they were dating."
"Let's just say he loses temper not only over a Quidditch match. The boat of their relationship isn't sailing smooth," Theo quipped. When Draco snorted he replied with an innocent face. "What? I work at the Daily Prophet. It's my job to hear these things."
"No wonder. On one side, you have this horribly brash Weasley and on the other side, you have a highly logical swot, who has a bloody stick up her arse. It was bound to fail," said Blaise.
Draco nodded his head thoughtfully. He didn't know whether to pity Weasley or Granger in this case. Just by looking at them, it was clear that they didn't belong with each other.
"Where is Astoria, today?" Theo asked Draco as the game resumed again. "I thought you would be bringing her with you."
"No. We have our clear boundaries. She doesn't cross hers and I don't cross mine. I made it very clear I have no intention of joining her in any disgusting girly things," Draco said with a shudder.
"You got yourself a good package deal, huh?" Blaise said patting Draco's back.
Draco shrugged his shoulders at Blaise's comment.
"What more do you want? A fit pureblood wife who doesn't interfere in your things. Nothing could be better than that," Goyle said proudly.
Theo caught Draco's eye and asked, "So are you popping the question soon?"
Draco sighed and rubbed his eyes. "Father is already in talks with the Greengrasses. He reckons we shouldn't waste any time and think about ensuring our future."
"The baby business," Blaise said with a laugh. "So what's stopping you?"
"Nothing, I guess," Draco started to reply but his eyes went wide as he saw a green figure and a blue figure rushing towards the box. Then, he noticed the tiny fluttering thing hovering in front of their eyes. The members of the box sprung to their feet and stood at the edge of the balcony watching the interesting scene unfold right in front of their eyes.
"The snitch had been spotted and the seekers are racing towards their victories. Remember Ladies and Gentlemen, whoever lay their fingers on the golden ball will ride their way towards the victory. Seems like Puddlemere is ahead, but not for long. Harpies are unstoppable today and they are slowly gaining their lead. Puddlemere is trying hard, but luck is most definitely not with them today. Harpies are gaining and gaining and now they have crossed the margin. Yes, the Harpies are in the lead. Wait a minute, is that the snitch I'm seeing in her fist. Why it is. For the first time in the history of European Quidditch League Cup, the Harpies have won."
"What a waste of time," Goyle grunted getting up from his seat.
"I told you it's not going to be easy for Puddlemere," Theo said slowly stretching his body.
"Whatever. I'm very disappointed," Blaise clutched his head. "At least we are going to have some fun now watching the savior of the wizarding world stumble over declaring his love."
Draco snorted and got up. "Thanks but I'll pass. I have better things to do."
With that said, Draco walked to the exits. As his steps hurried towards the apparition points, he heard deafening cries of joys letting him know that Harry Potter had just laid his heart out. Draco's body shuddered after hearing the cheer. The last thing he wanted on his mind was Potter on one knee professing his love. The only other thing that could top that was Weasley avowing his passions to Granger. Pushing aside his revolting thoughts, he stepped into the apparition point raising his wand and pictured his room back at the Malfoy Manor.
The constricting pressure released his body and he landed in his bedroom. He stretched his body and placed his wand on the table. He unfastened the ties that held his robe together and stepped out of it. He sauntered to the armchair and dropped into it closing his eyes.
A knock at the door disturbed him and he groggily answered, "Yes."
"Master Draco," a squeaky voice sounded from outside.
"Yes," Draco answered without opening his eyes.
"Master wishes to see the young master in his study."
Draco grunted and opened his eyes. The afternoon was a busy one and he just wanted to relax with a nice glass of drink. What did his father want now?
"I'll be there," he said slowly with a grimace getting up from the chair. He put on the robe he just took off and strode out of the door.
"Father," Draco addressed Lucius entering his magnificent study.
"Draco," Lucius said without lifting his eyes from the parchment in his hands.
"You wished to see me."
Lucius finally looked at him putting down the parchment in his hands and said, "sit."
Draco furrowed his eyebrows and followed his father's direction. His eyes fell on the parchment his father was reading with rapt attention. Apart from Astoria and his names he couldn't understand anything. Draco reckoned it was another document regarding their betrothal.
"Let me come directly to the point. This doesn't seem to be working."
"What is it you are talking about, father?"
"You've to let go of Astoria Greengrass."
Draco was confused. "Pardon me, I don't understand."
"Ms. Greengrass is a charming woman. She would've made a good Malfoy bride. But your union is going to be a fruitless one."
Draco didn't answer. The word 'Fruitless' was ringing in his brain.
"I believe you've heard about Magical matching. When I submitted yours and Astoria's for the test, the results were hopeless," Lucius said summoning the parchment from the table. "Magical prowess of your potential offspring with her is equal to 1.2%. It might as well be a squib," Lucius hissed throwing the offending parchment into Draco's lap.
Draco roved his eyes on the lines written on the paper. It indeed showed their child would have a meager magical power. He understood his father's frustration. But he didn't follow his father's trust in this feeble method of determining the magic of a potential child. "I think your worries are misplaced, father. The process doesn't seem to be reliable."
Lucius huffed and shook his head. "You are wrong. The process is ancient, powerful and foolproof."
"I heard they have introduced muggle mechanics into it. How can you trust such a procedure?"
"You doubt my research. Enlighten me, Draco."
"That's not what I meant," Draco mumbled looking at the sudden change in his father's demeanor. "I'm sure you are correct about your research, but I feel we shouldn't trust these Muggle methods."
"You are wrong. The results astonished me when the same test was performed between your mother and I. They turned out to be right in many others cases too."
"What should I say to Astoria. She's expecting an engagement soon."
"Her family would be taken care of. But you have to deal with Ms. Greengrass yourself. That's your duty, Draco."
Draco sat there with his head in his hands. Until that evening his future was planned. It may not be a very contented one, but it was a steady one. And he was happy with that. But now, in a mere blink of an eye, everything had turned upside down. But on the other hand, an almost non-magical child scared the hell out of him. He groaned and leaned back into the chair.
"On a fortunate turn of events, we have the perfect solution," Lucius said with a smug smile. "I have the found the ideal candidate for your bride. With her, Malfoy line would have an heir as powerful as the great Merlin himself."
"And who might that be," Draco asked popping his eyes open.
Draco didn't understand what his father was saying. It definitely sounded like Hermione Granger. Surely that wasn't it. Or was his father playing a joke? He had never seen his father deliver a joke before, but that doesn't mean he is not doing it right now. With that thought, Draco burst into a riotous laughter. When he encountered Lucius' stern glare, he righted himself and spoke, "I'm sorry, Father. It sounded like Hermione Granger. That was one good quip."
But Lucius' stare didn't rescind. "Is our family's future a joke to you?"
"What?" Draco asked jumping up from his chair. "Of course not. But surely, you didn't say Hermione Granger."
"That's what I said, didn't I?"
"Father, she's a Mudblood."
"I'm amused by your efforts to educate me, Draco. I'm well aware of that predicament," Lucius said with a sigh. "But that is the small price we have got to pay for securing our place as the most powerful magical family."
"This is outrageous. You can't possibly expect me to marry her," Draco began as his inner voice screamed in panic.
"Woo her, charm her, and yes, finally marry her. She should become your utmost priority, Draco. I want to see her in this house as your bride ready to carry the next Malfoy heir."
"I can't do this," Draco said dejectedly.
"I don't remember giving you a choice. She's a Mudblood. I don't deny that fact. But her magical signature is the most powerful one. Numbers don't lie Draco." Lucius produced another parchment from his pockets and shoved it in front of Draco's eyes and whispered. "Just look at that. The magical prowess of your potential child, 99.2%. Most powerful I've ever seen or known. This heir of the Malfoys will go down the history as the most powerful one," Lucius said beaming with pride.
By looking at the glee on Lucius' face Draco knew he didn't have a choice. His life had hit the rock bottom and it was only just the beginning.