Disclaimer: The characters and world found within this story are the property of J.K. Rowling, whether or not she would approve of their behavior is obviously irrelevant.

Many thanks to my friend, lenaphoria, for betaing this chapter and doing everything in her power short of violence to make sure this story got finished. However, being that I didn't exactly take all her suggestions seriously, all blame should still be cast my way. Thank you.

A/N: I decided that if the world was ending, it should do so with this story finished. Or, if it isn't ending, I could at least scare a few people because clearly, this could easily be a sign of the apocalypse.

A/N #2: For quite some time, I've been thinking about that last review that I would get before I updated this last chapter. Expecting, perhaps arrogantly, that this person would be begging me to update, I would wonder if they would end up thinking they had actual magical powers when it inevitably came to pass.

Naturally, it ended up being a grammatical disaster of a flame calling me an "Illiterate homophobic" – but really, what could be a more appropriate ending?

A/N #3: Hermione Malfoy, I loved writing you. Thank you for all the entertainment you have given me for almost ten years.

A/N #4: Thank you for all the amazing feedback. It is truly ridiculous how generous people have been with their time and opinions. Be blessed and I hope you enjoy the conclusion.

Hermione Malfoy, Chapter Twenty

by scarlet (superscar)

Narcissa Malfoy, while interested in the procreation of her grandchildren, didn't care to actually watch it happen. Particularly in her library. At the same time, she didn't want to interrupt the conception of Narcissa Malfoy II, if, in fact, it hadn't happened already.

So she left. She had other places to be.


"You cannot be serious!" Hermione pushed Draco away from her and allowed her legs to drop back down to the floor. She was aware of the fact that, usually, women tended to transition declarations of love into passionate encounters, but most women didn't have Draco Malfoy to deal with.

"That's your reaction?" Draco asked. "You don't believe me?"

"Well, Malfoy, you're a liar, why would I believe you?"

"I believe you."

"About what, exactly?"

"That you love me, obviously. That's what we're talking about."

"I never said I loved you!"

"Oh, Hermione, you didn't need to say it," he condescended, as though she was terribly naïve to believe he could possibly be that naïve.

Only the fact that Draco would take a violent reaction from Hermione as proof of her apparent unending passion for him kept him safe from the storms of wrath she would eagerly rain down on his stupid blond head.

Yet she had been laughing, smooching and joking around with him not even a minute earlier. What the hell was wrong with her?

Gods, she hoped she wasn't really in love with him.

Though, that would fit in just great with the rest of her freaking day. Throw in an expulsion and it would be absolutelyperfect.

How awful of a person had she been in a previous life to have been given the arduous task of fighting off the world's most evil wizard and be forced to spend the rest of her life with the most irritating git to ever grace the halls of Hogwarts?

No. The temporary agreement she had made in what must have been a moment of absolute insanity could not last a second longer.

"We have to end this!" She came to the conclusion as it tumbled out of her mouth and automatically cringed as she waited for Draco's reaction.

"By 'this' I assume you are referring to the greater 'this' of our marriage and not the ridiculous debate over whether or not you're madly in love with me?"

"That would be correct."

"So you forfeit, then?" he asked as Hermione finally met his eyes, dreading where he could possibly be going with this.

"By 'forfeit' I assume you are referring to the absurd accusation that I'm madly in love with you?"

"Well, you're changing the subject. That could only mean you knew you had a weak argument."

"That's ridiculous. You're ridiculous."

"Just another thing you love about me."

"Are you trying to get me to hex you?"

"Will it remove your head from your arse if you do?"

"You'd best stop. You're only giving me ideas."

"Oh, you could curse me into a near permanent state of arousal? Fuck, that's already happened."

"You're eighteen, Malfoy. That's nothing to do with me."

"Oh, right. I forgot how I just shagged myself up against the wall this morning. You're positive you don't want to do that again?" he asked, stepping closer to her.

"We're in your mother's library!"

"Mother wants grandchildren," he shrugged, like she was the ridiculous one now. "But if location is the only thing that's bothering you…" He took her hand and the room melted away around them. "Brilliant, she fixed it."

"Who fixed what?" Hermione asked as she took in what had to be Draco's bedroom. The first tip off being the massive bed the spoiled brat had undoubtedly spelled for the comfort of whatever guests he might spirit into his room. The fact that she was now supposed to join that long list made Hermione shake her hand free from his grasp.

"Shortcut Charm. My mother suspended it when I got in. She used to do it when I was little too, when she wanted to put me on time out."

If anything could drag Hermione's attention away from the décor, it was this remarkable news. "Seriously, Malfoy? You were disciplined as a child?"

"Sent to bed with only three chocolate frogs."


"Well, Mum would sometimes set the charm to send me somewhere else, like the dungeons or the room where we keep the Christmas gifts we don't want."

"She'd consider that punishment?"

"Nah. She'd consider it funny, though."

"So glad I'm not bringing another child into this family."

"Fuck, Granger, you should have seen what my father thought was hilarious." It was at that point he realized ... "Wait, you took the test?"


The Granger residence was a quaint little three-story, nestled at the end of a winding road with a fanciful gate that seemed to protect the other six houses on the way from absolutely nothing at all.

Even a witch with so little muggle influences as Narcissa Malfoy was perfectly aware that the ability to walk around a gate was in no way magical in nature.

In a world where even her very own baby was out to get her, Narcissa felt that standard security measures were in order, so whispered a short incantation before nodding to her house elf.

Midgen did as directed, rapping on the door with barely a shake in her small fist, but almost immediately began fretting. Moaning, really, as though she had eaten something particularly foul and was unable to find the facilities.

"Not now! We're here to make a good impression."

The sound was contained, but not the twitching. Large tears welled in the elf's eyes and Narcissa had to gather her inner patience, which wasn't a quality she had in abundance.

"What's the matter?" she hissed, hoping to get whatever it was out of the way before someone inside the house made it to the door.

"Midgen don't want a hat!"

In her elf-like wonder, Midgen had clearly apparated far beyond the actual situation and Narcissa hadn't the patience to follow the unique path her mind had taken. She didn't like house elves. Ever since childhood, she had found their warbling and emotional ways just shy of infuriating. This particular elf had a tendency to follow her about, trying to gain her attention. For the young Narcissa Black, it had made Midgen the perfect target for experimental hexes. "Please, stop your nonsense, Pidgeon."

"I be MIDGEN!"

Shit. Now she would never be rid of the problem.

When Draco was eleven, just home from Hogwarts for the Christmas Holiday, he began to take notice of Midgen for the first time. House elves in general, really. It was just Midgen who got the creative and, very possibly, cruel, end of the stick.

"Why don't house elves fly?" he had asked his mother one afternoon. The household, at large, was just lucky Draco had lost interest in the subject by the time he reached the point in his lessons where he'd have been able to transfigure a quality wing.

She preferred not to think about why, exactly, he was asking that question. Really, Midgen could have been limping about for any number of reasons and, even if she wasn't, wouldn't Narcissa have been the very height of hypocritical if she had limited Draco's chocolate frog intake over something she had done so often herself? It was just a part of growing up with house elves. A pureblood right of passage.

But Draco had never been one to limit his creative exploration to magic. The clever little thing had taken to writing catchy little rhymes.

It all started out with:

There once was a house elf named Midgen

Who couldn't speak English a smidgen

You could spend all the day

Wondering 'What did she say?!'

So I've taken to calling her Pidgeon

Narcissa had found it uproariously hilarious and repeated it often. Under her motherly encouragement, Draco had created a series of variations. Words, as it turned out, had real staying power and it took several very stern self-beatings for Midgen to get a handle of herself.

Naturally, Draco had found it inspiring and soon everyone was repeating:

There's a house elf that spends her time bitchin'

You can't imagine the fits she's been pitchin'

Would give her a hat

But then just like that

We'd be down one more lump in the kitchen

It didn't actually manage to shame Midgen into shutting the hell up, but Narcissa had been really amused that Christmas.

And now, unfortunately, she couldn't help being curious. Sighing, she turned to the elf, "Why are you worried about hats?"

"Because she lives here!"


"The Hogwarts terror! Left hats to innocents! Took Dobby! Oh, they say! Leaving hats everywhere! Charmed to attach themselves to any who might come by! She stole Dobby from his rightful home!"

Much as Narcissa recognized her own spin on the series of events being parroted back to her - with a few interesting embellishments - she didn't particularly like being lied to. Knowing it was her own lie only made the experience that much more irritating.

"My son's wife is hardly stealing elves or trapping them into freedom with magical hats. Furthermore, she isn't in any position to give you clothes. It would be my duty as head of the household."

"Pardon, glorious Mistress –"

The door opened midway into Midgen's obsequious apology and only a swift kick from Narcissa cut off the list of praises that were flying from the infernal elf's mouth. Unfortunately, in spite of years of practice, Midgen was wholly unprepared for the sharp blow and smashed into the Grangers' opening screen door.

A marvelous first impression, to be sure.

"Professor Malfoy?"

Or, as it turned out, not a first impression at all. Granted, Harry Potter was famous in the Malfoy household for his apparent love of house elves, as he had managed to free one of theirs. But, given what he already knew, there was really very little Narcissa could do to create a worse impression. So she counted it a win and shoved Midgen out of her way.

"I believe this is the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Granger? If you would be so kind as to inform them of my arrival."

Apparently, the Grangers were the sort to let just anyone answer the door. Not that Muggle etiquette was something she'd ever expected to understand.

"They're expecting you, then?" the insolent little Gryffindor asked.

"I'm sure our communiqué on the subject isn't the concern of the door man."

"Who is it, Harry?" a woman's voice floated from the inside of the door.

"Hermione's Professor-in-law."

"Here?" another asked. A bright red-head poked out from behind Potter's shoulder. Narcissa assumed that it was Rob Weasley, the one in Harry and Draco's age group, but she'd never taken much interest in telling them all apart. Weren't there a few sets of twins amongst them? "What are you doing here?"

"I'm sure if the visit were to your home and not the Grangers, then I would certainly tell you, Rob."

"Ron," he corrected.

Rob must have been his twin. She'd been quite close but, then, she'd always had an excellent memory for trivial detail. Probably where Draco got it.

"If you'll excuse me, children," a woman who was probably around Narcissa's age, though, naturally, looked much older, came to the door and flashed her quite the whitest teeth she'd ever seen on a muggle. "Mrs. Malfoy, what a delight to have you over. You'll have to excuse the children. Won't you come in? We'll have a chat, shall we?"

"We shall," Narcissa agreed, snapping at Midgen to follow her into the house, hoping she'd be able to subtly scourgify anything that wasn't up to standard.


"I'm not pregnant," she confirmed.

"Good. Great. That would have been a nightmare, anyway."

"Well, now the truth comes out. That's just brilliant, Malfoy. Don't hold back your feelings on my account."

"Oh, so sorry. Were you just there a minute ago when you told me you wanted a divorce? Was that you holding back for the sake of my feelings?"

She wouldn't meet his eyes. "Your feelings will be fine. It's your body I'm worried about."

"Sounds like you," he agreed. "Quick turn around from your virginal days."

"Obviously, I meant that –"

"Everyone knows what you meant, but your secret is safe with me."

"Can we just go back to the library? There's really nothing more for us to discuss, is there?"

"Obviously, there's the break-up sex. We shag, you remember how good you had it, we follow that up with the make-up sex and then everyone's happy."

"How about I get back to you?" she suggested.

"Why are you being such an insecure bitch about everything?"

"I'm a what?!"

"Well, obviously, you don't want to stay in this thing together because you're scared it will fall apart –"

"Malfoy, I'm not scared it will fall apart, I know it will fall apart because I will probably kill you before the day ends!"

"Oh, you will not. Remember, once, you made sure I got medical attention when that beastly thing attacked me during your crazy giant-friend's bull shite excuse for a class?"

"Hagrid had a perfectly decent class!"

"Okay, A, not the point, and B, the fact that you say that with a straight face makes me question what else you can lie out your arse about. I have one key suspect right now."

"I do not love you!"

"Awww, you hit right on it."

Hermione took a very deep breath and let it out slowly, like she was counting to ten or some shit. Probably thought it would calm her down, but Draco planned to rile her right up again. Bint deserved it with her divorce talk. Not like the stress would send her into a miscarriage at this point.

"What is it you even want from marriage that you think I can't provide?" he asked, gesturing around at the room, decked to the gills with older money than she'd ever see in the muggle world.

"Mental stability?" she suggested.

Draco smiled. He so had her and, from the worried look on her face, he was guessing she'd figure that out pretty soon, as well. "Think about the answer you didn't give."

"Money is no reason to stay married."

"Right, cause that's what I meant."


Helen watched Draco's mother as she walked through their home, clearly attempting to be polite, but at the same moment, on guard for anything that might jump out at her from the woodwork.

"Robbie!" Helen called up the stairs to Hermione's father. "Draco's mum's come to call. Won't you join us in the kitchen, please?"

"Lady Malfoy doesn't enter kitchen," the floppy, Yoda-like creature told Helen sternly.

A faint burst of light hit the curious muppet between the ears and it began to moan and smack itself vigorously.

"Dear gracious, whatever is the problem with it?" Helen wondered, tempted to turn it about to see if it came with batteries or an off switch.

"Midgen, do stop immediately. I apologize, Mrs. Granger, it's simply impossible to find good help. I'm sure you understand."

"Oh, nonsense," Helen insisted, "If you find a reputable agency, they only send the best people. I've never had an incident and I would swear I could eat off the tile in the kitchen when Marta's finished." Mrs. Malfoy looked absolutely horrified by the suggestion. "We don't, of course," Helen rushed to explain, remembering that her guest was somewhat foreign to their world, though, her accent didn't place her much further than Wiltshire. "I shall give you a number, if you like. We're just in here –" She gestured into the dining room annex, a nice little alcove between the formal dining room and the kitchen. "Shall I make us some tea, while we wait for my husband?"

"You make your own tea, Mrs. Granger?"

"It is Dr. Granger, actually, but please call me Helen. There's no need for such formality. We're family now, after all. Was it as great a shock for you as it was for us? They're always your babies, after all. No matter what they've been going through."

"It was certainly not what I expected of Draco, but he has always delighted in shocking the world."

"I'd always had the opposite worry for Hermione. I worried that she would feel pressured to live up to whatever standards of perfection the wizarding world suggests for a child of her intellect."

"I do like to think that marrying into our family is certainly not far off."

Well! The Malfoys surely didn't lack self-esteem. "Well, naturally, love is the first thing that we wanted for our daughter, no matter what else."

It was a bit of a dig, as it was hard to imagine someone as icy as Narcissa Malfoy being a proponent of passion to any degree, but to Helen's surprise, Narcissa smiled softly. "It is so hard, isn't it? When you know what ought to make them happy but in the end they choose something so very different?"

Did Draco make Hermione happy? There was a look in her eye as she spoke of him, a certain light that had never been there before, but it had been a stressful time for her daughter. Helen had certainly seen his ability to make her miserable, though, to her son-in-law's credit, that was mostly the stress of the pregnancy scare. How one could worry about such a thing when they had magic at their disposal was certainly something Helen would ever understand.

"Well, I do hope they continue to make each other happy, whatever else they choose to do with their lives."

"They will surely rule the wizarding world, if all goes according to plan." Narcissa shrugged off the ambiguity as Helen poured their tea.

"Plan?" she asked. "What plan is this? One from the cradle, perhaps?"

"Hardly!" Narcissa snapped at her muppet to stir sugar into her tea and lifted the cup to her lips. "Of course, I'm referring to the expulsion hearing."

"The what?!"

"The committee sub-meeting to discuss the expulsion proceedings for Draco and Hermione regarding the illegal use of potion herbs."

Helen leaped from her seat and stormed to the living room. "HARRY JAMES POTTER!"

The teenager shrank away from her, his green eyes huge behind his glasses.

"Tell me the truth on this right away, young man. I don't understand all this wizarding jargon. Is my daughter in fact being expelled from Hogwarts for smoking pot?"

There was a small 'eep' and a popping noise as the girl who had been leaning rather inappropriately over Harry disappeared. Poppy? Iris? Hopefully just a flavor of the month, Helen hadn't cared for her attitude, but Harry had seemed unusually interested in keeping her nearby.

"I –"

"Probably not," a dark-haired young man that Helen didn't remember inviting into her home answered for the boy who waffled.

"But, for some reason, it is worth a debate?" she asked.

"Hermione wasn't smoking pot," Harry found his voice, spitting it out quickly.

"Why, then, would someone suspect that she was?"

"Well, she wasn't purposely –"

"How does one accidentally smoke marijuana? Or did she not? Trust me, you can taste the difference in a brownie."

The children looked amused at that but Helen tried to gloss right over it. What happened in the 70s stayed in the 70s.

"Dr. Granger?" the dark-haired boy got her attention. "I can see you're very upset about this. Tell me… have you ever sent a howler?"

"So evil," Ron muttered.

"Baby, what if they're shagging or something?" Ginny asked the fellow, very clearly more than a friend.

"A howler is pretty simple. We can help you." Harry jumped in. "What did you want to say to Hermione?"




Draco couldn't stop laughing. "Those wankers told her."

"They wouldn't. They couldn't."

"Someone did. Someone sent the howler for her too."

"Where's the floo? We have to get back there."

"You'll never be able to leave again until you're 45. Isn't that what grounding means?"

"Of course you wouldn't know what grounding means."

"Well, I've been the model child."

"Try to remember that for the expulsion hearing. Maybe your mum will write us a note about how it was all her idea."

"And then, even if it didn't work, we would still probably achieve our initial objective of getting her fired!" he realized, getting excited. "Good thinking!"

Draco put up his hand for a highfive.

Hermione just stared at his hand, purposely leaving him hanging. "How do we get back to the floo?"


The telephone rang before Helen's daughter arrived back home, making Narcissa Malfoy and Ginny Weasley's "friend", Blaise Zabini, practically dive behind the couch in terror. Something that Helen Granger told herself should not be funny in the least. The poor dears had been through a war.

But it didn't stop her husband, Robbie's chuckling as he answered the call. "Hallo, Steve. Pardon? Best get off the hooch in the mornings, mate. What? Well, obviously you couldn't call us if our house were no longer here."

What on earth? Narcissa Malfoy lifted her head and a couple of wide-eyes back out, over the cushion of the sofa. The particular wince in her expression left very few guesses as to what was going on.

"Mrs. Malfoy, would you happen to be aware why our neighbors wouldn't be able to see our house?"

"I wouldn't pretend to know or understand the problems of the muggle population of this area, Dr. Granger," the cheeky woman replied, covering her mouth briefly for a short cough, as though Helen would be quite unable to see the short burst of light to emanate from her wand.

Helen couldn't resist looking toward her daughter's friend Harry, who only shrugged in response. 'She's a ridiculous woman, what do you want me to do about it?' he seemed to be asking.

"Darling, has Steve's vision improved yet?"

"Blighter's crazy. That's right, I've said it. Our bloody house is right where it always is – Well, you ought to be sorry. Check your medications. Bloody idiot- Hermione!" He gasped in delight as his daughter entered the room by way of the fireplace in a large puff of green. "You'll never guess what old Steve on the corner was on about just now!" He hung up the phone, excited to find to a fresh audience.

"It was nothing," Helen brushed it off quickly, not really relishing the idea of having her husband repeat a story that left him the only one in the room not really putting together the entire picture. "Mrs. Malfoy was just experimenting with a rather unusual cloaking device. Will your husband be joining us, Hermione?"

Hermione just blinked at her, which was an odd reaction from the daughter that Helen frequently had to drink large amounts of caffeine to keep up with on a normal day. "Hadn't you ought to move out of the way for him to step in?" she suggested.

"Oh. Right," Hermione side-stepped and, sure enough, Draco Malfoy stepped out of the floo behind her, his arm standing straight up in the air for no apparent reason and Helen had to resist the urge to call on him like a primary school student.

"Have I missed anything?" he asked eagerly.

"She made the entire house invisible?" Robbie asked, pulling them back to his new favorite subject. "Was it like a larger version of your father's toy, then, son?" he asked, turning to Harry.

"You know about that?" Draco asked. "I just found out about that! Blaise, did you know about that?" he asked, turning to the new boy.

"I'm still shocked the muggles have a floo, Malfoy. I've no idea what you're on about," Blaise admitted.

"Potter's super secret invisibility cloak."

"Cheers, Malfoy," Harry sent him two well chosen fingers.

Draco shook his hand eagerly in front of Blaise, who rolled his eyes, but gave in, high-fiving him. Finally, Draco put his hand down. Honestly, had Hermione managed to marry an eleven-year-old?

Helen was barely following the conversation. 'Conversations', really, she mentally corrected as Robbie stepped into the living room, and began to tell Blaise and Ginny the long story of the short time it had actually taken to have a floo connected to their house in anticipation of Hermione's graduation. The reminder had her glaring in her daughter's direction.

"About time you remembered. What's wrong with you?" Hermione asked.

Really, put in perspective, Helen felt that she was the least to blame for the chaos going on in her living room. "I don't appreciate your tone, Hermione! We have guests."

"Mother you sent me a howler, for god's sake. And you're bringing up tone?"

The expulsion news came back to her and she felt a renewed sense of indignation. "Did you intercept that owl, Hermione? What were you thinking? That we have no right to know what you are up to because we haven't any magical ability? Or is it because you are married? Do you think that you are all grown-up now and haven't any use for us? It's just, it's… disrespectful and I wouldn't have thought that you would treat us this way."


"And having to hear it from Narcissa Malfoy!"

There were murmurs at this, even though everyone in the room was already perfectly aware of how Helen had been forced to hear the news. It was a particularly awful bit of luck that everyone seemed quite sympathetic toward.

"Where is that delightful woman, my mother?" Draco asked.

Where indeed? Helen's eyes darted to the last place she'd seen Narcissa Malfoy last, only to find the woman's odd little gremlin staring back at her.


Obviously, Narcissa Malfoy was no longer a guest in the Granger home. Which was a bit alarming since Hermione's mother-in-law was such a loose canon, but it did seem to be distracting her own mother from going apeshit about the whole pot situation.

"These are the things you like, right, Hermione? That don't have rights and can't really speak properly? Poor dears."

"House elves, Mother."

"Right, right. Shall I give it a hat, then?"

"Oh, shit," she heard Draco mutter before the abandoned elf began to wail its bloody head off.

There were multiple 'pops' as every wizard of age to participate in extracurricular magic disapparated the hell out of the crying zone. Ginny Weasley looked particularly miserable for a moment before a sheepish looking Ron reappeared, grabbed her arm and disappeared again with her.

"Pidgeon, shut the hell up!"

"MID-GEN!" the elf went spectacularly crazy, beating the hell out of herself and her nearest surroundings until Draco blasted her with an immobilizing spell.

"Sorry about that, Helen. I believe you were busy berating Hermione for her lack of consideration?"

So nice of him to remind her. If only they had time.

"Sorry, mother, if I'm to solve the problem you're complaining about, we have to be off right away."

"Really?" Draco asked, sounding a little too surprised about the turn of events. Naturally, when his mother wanted to yell at him, they could have a very believable meeting with the director of muggle radio for elephants, but if she wanted to avoid an irritating row, Draco wanted to be front and center to see the fallout.

She could just hear Ron's voice in her ear, grating about her unfortunate taste in men. It was quite tempting to hunt down the little git and remind him that, once upon a time, he had been the subject of her feverish twelve year old fantasies. Unfortunately, that only seemed to help his argument and the whole thing was probably best left to the secret corners of her mind.

"We've got to catch up to your mother before the hearing."

"Oh," Draco said, "Damn."

He actually caved a lot quicker than she'd anticipated.


Hermione spent much of their trip to the Ministry reaming Draco out about the fact that 'The Potter Plan' was utter bollocks. Since that had more or less been his feeling as well, Draco didn't put up much of a fight on the subject.

"Potter's stupid bloody idea," he'd explained. "You know he wanted to have Mother sign a statement? That she'd seen basically every bloody student in our year toking off Snape's secret potions stash?"

"That's obviously not true."

"No shit, Granger. But they're not going to call Harry Fucking Potter a liar, now are they? That's the best part. Basically the only reason I thought it might work."

"I don't understand why Dumbledore would go along with it, anyway. The whole reason we're in this mess is because we agreed to his bloody plan in the first place. Shouldn't we get… not preferential treatment."

This was the last subject in the world Draco wanted to broach, but he couldn't help himself. "How else would you define preferential treatment, exactly?"

"It's quid pro quo, Malfoy. We do him a ludicrously large favor for the betterment of society and he returns it."

"Oh, I agree. Our graduation definitely betters society at large."

Hermione cringed and he knew he had her.

"Because we're better than the rest of them," he explained further, delighting in the shade of puce she was turning. They just couldn't get a divorce, how could he find this kind of fun with any other woman? Pansy wouldn't even understand what he was getting at, for fuck's sake.

"The point is, by turning us in, he risks us revealing all. This is Dumbledore. He's nothing if not loyal to those who help his causes."

"Too bloody right. He's preferential as sin," Draco agreed before realizing that this put him right back at the point that he wanted to avoid in the first place.

"We have to talk to him. He can get everything pushed aside."

"Madame Hooch was there too," Draco reminded her quickly. "She's worse than you when it comes to rules. You wouldn't believe what she won't let us do in Quidditch."

"Hex Harry out of the sky?"

He couldn't help the actual tingles at that amazing image. Fucking fantastic move that would have been.

"Draco?" Hermione asked.

"Hmm? Sorry, having a moment."



She heard her name as she debated the multitude of ways she could hex the wistful expression off her husband's face. But, as luck would have it, the interruption was enough. For Draco was already grimacing as Harry and Ron rushed over to them.

"You heard the news as well, then?" Harry asked.

"No…" She held her breath, looking at Draco quickly.

"You'd think they'd go to you first," Ron observed, delaying the actual revelation of whatever their news was and clearly trying Draco's patience.

"Just bloody tell us before I hex your nuts together, Weasel."

Ron and Harry just turned to Hermione with that 'Him? Really?' expression that was starting to drive her crazy. Not unlike their seeming inability to relay potentially pertinent information. "Out with it!" she hissed.

"They moved up the hearing."

"Fuck! We've got to find your mother."

"Don't worry, Hermione. We've already got a plan." Harry laid a hand on her arm, probably in some attempt to be comforting, but it was hitting the condescension button pretty hard.

Draco stumbled suddenly, knocking Harry's hand free. "Sorry. Balance. I'm just so used to being on a broom. Standing absolutely still and not touching people who aren't married to me can be such a problem. You ever get that, Potter?"

Gods, he was such an arse, Hermione thought, smiling slightly. "We can't go with your plan, Harry, it's – "

"Awful," Draco filled in the blank.

"Did you even talk to your mother?" Harry asked.

"Sure. She's on board as long as we deliver her a grandchild within the next two years. "

"She what?!" Hermione asked.

"I told her I'd put in a solid effort. Don't worry, no promises made on your behalf."

"How comforting!"

"You probably shouldn't mention the results from this morning. I'm pretty sure her hopes for being a grandmother are going to be really beneficial to us financially."

"We have to tell her the new plan."

"Well, she's not actually part of the hearing. She's probably still wandering around here somewhere," Ron pointed out.

"Maybe we should split up," Draco suggested. "Cover more ground."

"She's your mother, Malfoy. Where would she go?"

"You expect me to understand the mind of a fifty-year-old woman simply because we share half a genetic code?" Draco asked, then paused. "Do they sell clothes at all here?"

"This is a government building!" Hermione smacked him, exasperated.

"My father used to come back from here with trinkets all the time."

"That was due to constant bribery, Malfoy," Harry reminded him.

"Right. Haven't got a clue, then. Is there a department of, like, baby names and ponies or some shit?"

Hermione was hoping that Narcissa managed to find them at this point. Actually… she wandered over to a bored-looking witch at the front desk. "Is there a way to get a message to Narcissa Malfoy, by chance? We're fairly sure she's in the building somewhere."

"Floor 23, subsection Merlin is the Owlery. Five galleons a message."

"That's outrageous!"

"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic."

"Guess I'm up, then?" Draco asked, flipping a gold coin in his hand. "Unless you want to take it, Potter. Financial independence must be nice and all."

"I've done well enough not owling your mum so far, Malfoy. Reckon I can keep it up."

"Why do I always have to talk to my mother?" Draco whined, turning back to Hermione. "You got to bail on yours."

"If you waste another second that gets me expelled, I swear you will look like your great uncle Stab-a-lot when I'm done with you."

"You're in such a better mood after a shag."

Hermione could feel her cheeks heating as Ron and Harry's gaze turned toward her, speculatively.

"Except this morning, obviously. And every other time, really. Gods, do you ever relax for a second?"

She pushed him onto the lift. Thankfully, it closed. Though, she still had to deal with the other two miscreants trying not to laugh. It was like the whole world had conspired to throw fuel on the fire of her perfectly horrendous decision to ever associate with the Malfoy family.

"What?" she snapped.

"Nothing," Harry spit out immediately.

"Nice guy you got there," Ron commented, only to meet her eye and think better of it. "Nothing," he corrected.

The door to the lift re-opened with a ding. "What is it I am supposed to say to my mother, exactly?" Draco asked.


The plan wasn't terrible. It was actually pretty brilliant, but it was a comparative type of brilliance that really only worked out because everyone else was all kinds of moron. Why Hermione was the only person who stopped to consider an alternative explanation for use of an herb Pansy found in the potion master's closet at a School of Magic was the real issue.

The Owlery on Floor 23 appeared to be open to the air, though, in reality he suspected it was somewhere underground. How the owls managed to find their way around the place, he had no idea, but he hoped the absurd costs went toward tips.

Dear Mother,

Draco paused. It was a good beginning. Straight to the point. Exactly how he liked things. Sighing, he started over:

My Very Dear Mother,

Truth was, she always saw through that kind of ass-kissing bullshittery, but she appreciated it, nonetheless. If you couldn't take the effort to lie through your teeth about her good points, Narcissa just didn't think you really cared.

Where was he? Right.

My Very Dear Mother, (If she wanted a 'Mumsy' she could go straight to hell. There were limits.)

In spite of the fact that the truth of the situation we are dealing with is a very private family matter, I hope to convince you that revealing the truth is the best solution. The herb in question is obviously used recreationally by a number of people (see attached signatures) but I think the council will be moved to realize that in this specific case, it was used in grief magic. My wife has made me realize that we shouldn't be ashamed to let it be known that we would require something of that nature after Father's passing.

Your loving son,


P.S. I can't name children after you if my wife kills me. Which she will if we get expelled. So tell the truth!

P.P.S. The real truth. See above.

P.P.P.S. Should you need any further information, I will be wandering semi-aimlessly about the Ministry in hopes of running into you.

Well, hopefully that was worth five galleons.


In the lobby, Harry and Ron had to physically stop Hermione from pacing, which she struggled against instinctively, so they probably looked like they were playing London Bridge.

Except for the fact that they weren't four-years-olds. Physically speaking.

"Stop it!" Hermione warned, ceasing all movement, save the quick raise of her wand.

Her friends backed off immediately, their respect for her wand more than healthy at this point in their schooling.

"Shouldn't he be back by now?" Hermione asked.

"It's Malfoy," said Harry. "He probably got distracted with something evil and shiny."

"Or has boobs," Ron suggested.

"Hey!" Hermione found herself objecting to what was undoubtedly the truest thing Ron could possibly interject.

"To be fair," Ron conceded, "it's unlikely to be all three."

"Unless he really does find his mum," Harry pointed out. With that, the boys started cackling with fairly unattractive bursts of laughter.

"If you wanted to actually be of help you could put some effort into finding out when Dumbledore would be getting to the meeting."

"His meeting, innit? Shouldn't he be there already?"

"He doesn't actually run the committee, Ron. Bit of a conflict of interest, being that they're the ones that hired him on in the first place."

"What does it matter?" Harry wanted to know.

"Wouldn't hurt to remind him of favors from the past, is all."

Ron whistled. "Well, well. Mrs. Malfoy, indeed."

"Hermione, I hate using all… that to our advantage. We're not above rules because we saved the world," Harry said uncomfortably.

"Oh, relax, Harry. It's nothing to do with that."

"Then what?" Ron asked.

Blast. She should really take their ability to reason out simple and obvious questions a lot more seriously. "Just… what we're telling Narcissa."

They weren't buying it. They didn't even pretend to try, giving each other extremely unsubtle, speculative looks.

"How weird does that sound out of her mouth?" Ron asked. "Narcissa?" He shuddered. "Guess it's better than 'Mum.'"

Hermione couldn't help but wonder if their joy in finding out about the demise of her marriage would be enough to overwhelm the majority of I-told-you-sos and what-the-hell-were-you-thinkings. It didn't seem like it.

How heartbroken would she have to act to get them to shut the hell up? And, on what she liked to consider a completely separate subject, how heartbroken was she actually likely to be, given that common sense and every other type of sense clearly showed that staying in this façade of a relationship was insane?

She didn't love the way her heart squeezed as the question was broached, not just a nostalgic twinge like when she thought of her crush on Ron when she was younger or occasional thoughts of Harry over the years.

Draco would never let her hear the end of it if she caved.

Hermione couldn't help but wonder how many women in the past had broken up with Draco simply because admitting they were into him would be too painful a blow to their pride?

He was wreaking some serious havoc on his love life by being such a prick.

Not that the two wankers she'd had in her life since first year were any better.

Men. Obviously, she couldn't win anyway, so she might as well see how things went with Draco.

And wonderful. The stress of the day had driven her completely off her nut.

"Seriously, Hermione, you have to tell us."

Hermione blinked in Ron's general direction. "When did you fall for Malfoy? What was your 'Huh, I'm in love with this complete wanker' moment when it didn't seem like the best solution was to just kill yourself? What did he do? What did he say?"

Images poured into her head of Malfoy, always there, always inappropriate, always driving her crazy. The way his eyes twinkled when one of them came up with a particularly devious or scandalous idea. Gods, he was such a fucking Slytherin.

"Eww, nevermind," Ron told her. "I don't want to hear your lovesick mumbojumbo about Malfoy."

"I'm hardly lovesick. I already told you we're getting a divorce."

"Right, you say that with your mouth, but your face says you want to pop out nice plump Slyffindors to dress up like Christmas and send forth to rule the world with brilliance and cunning."

Hermione almost opened her mouth to argue that she would absolutely never dress her children in both red and green simultaneously, but she realized that it was obviously the least relevant point she could possibly make. And just what was so wrong with a child with both brilliance and cunning? Maybe some puffy white hair and big brown eyes?

"Is there something wrong with a little ambition, now?" she muttered crossly. They'd be changing the world for good, after all.

"I rest my case."

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to change the world, Ron!"

"There is when you're teaming up with Malfoy to do it," Harry muttered.

"I'd like to see you ignore Dumbledore," Hermione hit back, then immediately clamped her lips as Harry and Ron both got wind of something wrong.

"What are you talking about?" Harry asked.

"What does Dumbledore have to do with anything?"


Nothing. Her massive brain was blank with possible explanations. So she went with plan B. "It was stupid, anyway. Didn't work. Want to come find the divorce office?"

"We're not going to just walk you over to get a divorce and forget this conversation!" Ron told her.

Harry coughed.

"We're going to walk you over to get a divorce as we continue this conversation!" Ron re-stated.

Harry pointed. "I think it's that way."


Naturally, after he'd spent a ridiculous amount on a scrap of paper and an owl, the woman asked if he had considered the visitor location department and gave him a big bright smile, like she knew exactly the assault that he was unable to make on her person and reveled in every aspect of his frustration.

He suspected it was like this with everyone at the Ministry. He could just see the advertisements: Do you enjoy extorting money from the public, or find sadistic joy in slow torture? You can be part of the Ministry family!

"What was your name?" he asked the woman behind the desk.

"Zaravinia Pucey."

Of course, they pulled from Slytherin House. Once the expulsion was tossed out, his wife left him and his mother cut him off when she found out why, he'd have to remember to ask about internships.

A large squawk alerted him to the return of his feathered messenger. Not that it did any good, since the bird seemed wholly unwilling to relinquish the response without some kind of treat.

Draco turned reluctantly toward Ms. Pucey, who held a small bag of treats in her hand. Sighing, he reached deep into his pocket, in part because of what was sure to come and also so the little bastard would stop pecking at his hands. She really had trained him pretty well.

"Five galleons for the bag."

It wasn't clear if she knew another number. She started ringing him up immediately, knowing there was no escaping her blasted attack bird.

"Will you be purchasing the owl as well?"

"I'd prefer to keep the use of my hands, thanks," Draco told her.

"In that case there's a re-cooping fee of five galleons."

Of course there was.

"Zaravinia?" he asked.


"How much for the whole store?"


Blessed silence greeted her story, but she was positive it wouldn't last. She tried to quicken her pace to the Office of Marriage Certification and Adjustment, but despite an immediate lag, the boys caught up to her at the door.

"Dumbledore wouldn't do that!" Harry exclaimed, eyeing her like some kind of suspicious seafood.

"And yet..." Hermione said.

"Malfoy didn't remind him of your little 'deal' the second the expulsion thing happened?"

Hermione's stomach twisted. She had been a little too distracted with the trauma of being expelled to really pay much attention to Malfoy's various plans to counteract the whole thing. But she'd have to be absolutely thick to not see what Harry was getting at.

"Harry, Dumbledore was our bonder. He performed the magic for the marriage vows."

"Have you talked to him about it since?" Harry asked.

"No," Hermione breathed, feeling sick.

"Is there any reason other than Draco Fucking Malfoy's word –"

"Harry, shut up," Ron interrupted and pushed Hermione gently toward the glass window in front of the office, toward an advertisement for Marriage Services.

As her eyes focused in on the exact offers, rage quickly boiled through her veins and steamed through every pore in her body. There would be no need to get a divorce at this point because she was going to murder Draco Malfoy.


When the visitor location center told him his wife was at the Office of Marriage Certification and Adjustment, Draco felt it best to run, not walk, to get to her side.

She seemed unsurprised, at best, to see him burst through the door, sides heaving. "Hey. Hermione. Good news," he breathed deeply. "Not expelled, see?" He waved the owl from his mother, as though she would be able to read it easily from the fifteen feet or so that separated them.

Hermione said nothing. She merely looked at him, as though he was speaking a language she didn't understand and had no wish to try because ... well, frankly, because she was a goddess bent on smiting him.

It was a deeply frightening turn on.

Instinctively, he kept talking, "Mum was all Dear Draco, miss you in all your cute baby wonder, blah blah blah typical blah. We shan't need to explain a thing, no one wants to expel a war hero, blah. And since I was with you, they couldn't expel me either. So great, right? Graduations back on."

At that moment, Draco noticed that Harry Potter was smiling at him. Shit, he realized, I'm going to die.

Desperately, he threw out a distraction. "So, Potter, how's Pansy? You kids make it official yet?"

When Harry only rolled his eyes, Draco felt a little sorry for him. If Potter thought avoiding the question would be enough to get Pansy off his back… or whatever other body part, he should really look into the term 'tacit agreement.'

Refusing to be detoured, Hermione kept staring at him. "Draco, I would like you to answer my questions truthfully," she said.

It wasn't what she said, so much as how she said it. Like he couldn't possibly get away with it if he did choose to lie and that was just an uncomfortable feeling.


Hermione didn't anticipate hearing anything out of his lips that remotely resembled the truth, but he couldn't say she hadn't warned him.

"Ominous," he replied. "Hit me."

"Was it Albus Dumbledore's idea that we get married?"

His eyes flicked over to Harry and then Ron. "No, Hermione. We're deeply in love."

"I told them it wasn't real."

"Did you tell him how unreal it was this morning?" he returned.

"Harry? Ron? Give us a minute."

Severely pouting, the boys dragged their feet out through the door.

"You told them?" Draco asked. "We had a deal!"

Hermione could actually feel her body turning red with rage. "A deal? Are you seriously telling me that you're mad at me for reneging on the deal you made under false pretenses?"

"Call it even?" he asked.

Hermione exploded. Her wand flew out of her sleeve practically without help from her arm. Draco reacted quickly, but not quick enough. "Expelliarmus!" threw his wand into the wall and screamed, "Scrafolias Rectalis!" at his midsection.

At first, he was just confused, but then the twitching began. "Seriously?" he asked. "You made my arse itch?"

"Not anywhere you'd be able to reach," Hermione told him.

"Very funny."

"Isn't it?"

Draco turned to the people watching them with mild interest from behind the desk, Grucelda Abbott and Sarah Fingerscrossed. "A little help, maybe?"

"Sorry," Sarah said with a helpless shrug. "We don't get into domestic disputes. Not covered in the insurance."

"That's bloody lovely. So, what, Hermione, this is just to make me answer your questions?"

"In part. So! Tell me everything."

"I'm not doing this."


"Fuck!" Draco was actively dancing now. "Fine! I hired someone to pretend to be Dumbledore because you fell for my Slytherin trickery! Is that what you wanted?"

Hermione turned to the ladies behind the desk. "We're interested in getting a divorce."

"Actually, no, we're not."

"Luckily, it doesn't matter what you think. You're a scheming, manipulative liar and our marriage is effectively over."

"I didn't lie. You never actually asked me if the person you were talking to was Dumbledore, did you?"

"Are you seriously attempting to get out of this on a technicality?"

"Uhh. Yeah. Hi, I'm Draco Malfoy, have we met?"

"You are unbelievable!"

"Stop, I'm blushing."


"Whoa, okay. Stop! Really, stop. I'm sorry!"

"You're only sorry because I'm torturing you!"

"I'm actually also really sorry that I got caught."

Hermione wasn't sure that she had ever been more violently angry with anyone in her entire life and she had fought the wizarding equivalent to Adolf Hitler. Now, now of all times, he was being honest. Almost brutally so, really.

"I'm not lying! I haven't been lying to you. There were just things you didn't need to know that, as you can see, have clearly muddied the waters in our relationship!"

"So what else is there? What else would muddy the waters in our relationship. Let's have it out right now!"

"That's it! It was before we were together, or even on marginally good terms. Dumbledore gave me the idea, all right? He made some kind of comment about us being together but I was the one that thought it would be worth a try – that we could both get something out of it. I just didn't have any idea I was such a genius."

"And you knew I'd never go for it if the idea came from you."

"Tell me I'm wrong."

"Just because you aren't wrong doesn't make it right!"

"Okay, honestly? The moralizing means less than nothing to me. Blah blah blah, manipulative bastard blah. I am who I am. Doesn't change the fact that you're fucking in love with me."

"Stop saying that."

"You know what? We're getting nowhere."

"That's only what I've been saying this whole –"

Draco marched over to the desk, only shaking slightly from the curse she'd put on him. "We want a divorce."

Hermione's heart dropped with her jaw. "What are you doing?"

"This is what you want. Let's do it. It's meaningless, right? False pretenses, all that? Maybe we'll start over, maybe we won't. What do we have to do, Mrs. Abbott?"

The secretary cleared her throat and pulled out a single sheet of paper. Their marriage certificate. "It's quite simple. A 'finite incantum' on your signature lines."

"Accio wand," Draco said forcefully, holding out his hand and then pointing toward the strong lines of his signature. "You ready?"

Hermione momentarily lost the meaning of the question, but bounced right back, pointing her wand at the document that had caused so many problems. If he was ready, then, obviously, so was she.

They just held there for a second, watching each other. There was no way he would go through with it, not if he was as serious about her as he kept claiming. But if he wanted to play chicken, Hermione sure as hell wasn't going to lose.

"So… on three, I guess?" Draco asked, the force gone from his voice.

"Uhh," Hermione coughed to get her vocal chords working once again. "Yeah. Three is good. You count."

"Right. I'll count," he repeated. "3…" He waited… "2 and a half…"

"If you say 'On Three' you can't start with three, that's counting down from three."

"You're actually making the deep and persistent feeling of ants up my arse less annoying the more you talk."

"One, two three!" Hermione interrupted, then paused, waiting.

"Finite incantum!" he enunciated clearly, freezing her heart in her chest as her lips moved to copy him, but no actual sound came forth.

Obviously, nothing happened.

"I'm pretty sure you have to actually say something for it to work," Draco pointed out unnecessarily.

"I ran out of breath, sorry," Hermione said quickly, furious with herself for not going through with it after it had been her idea in the first place. Was she really going to just back out of the plan just because he agreed with her? Her eyes were prickling and she ached to get out of there and away from him. "We'll do it again. You count."

He watched her for a second, but she avoided eye contact, staring at her signature line that she was about to wipe free of her name for the rest of her life. Someday, when she was ready, she could marry someone else. Someone more appropriate. Better suited. Probably a lot more boring. Her name started to blur and she was about to scream at him to count already when she heard his voice again, quieter. "One… Two… Three."

"Finite incantum!" she practically yelled, drowning out his voice almost completely.

Still, no change.

"What's wrong with it?!" Hermione asked, frustrated, turning to Mrs. Abbott as Draco started laughing.

"Magic is a byproduct of will, Mrs. Malfoy," Draco grabbed her hand unexpectedly and yanked her up against him. "We aren't divorced because you don't want to be."

Hermione could feel her heart stop as she looked to the Ministry women for confirmation. "Maybe it's because you don't want to be, Malfoy."

"Oh, I definitely don't, but that doesn't matter, does it?"

"It only takes one to undo it," Mrs. Abbott confirmed. "Neither one of you really wants a divorce. The Ministry wishes you a happy marriage."

Shit! Hermione had no idea what to say. The fact that she didn't want to get a divorce was, unfortunately, not entirely surprising. But Malfoy's word was notoriously suspect, the fact that he didn't want to get a divorce… "We're talking about a real marriage? Love, honor, cherish… commit to complete monogamy?" she asked, shocked.

Draco didn't seem at all phased by the definition, only amused. "Ready to admit you love me yet?" he asked.


The concept that he was complete and total fuckwit brought itself into true and ugly focus with the glare Hermione shot him. Obviously, he was using the wrong approach.

He should say something romantic and beautiful, all that cheesy shite the birds loved.

"Let's be fair. I totally admitted it first!" he started, probably not a great intro to the topic, but he had to warm up to the flowery crap.

"But that's just –"

"No," Draco put his hand over her mouth, probably a mistake from the expression she was giving him. "I don't want to hear about how I'm lying or manipulating you. I love you, even though you have been a huge pain in the arse for weeks now and you've annoyed me half my sodding life. But you're not in my head. You don't know what I'm thinking or feeling."

Hermione bit his hand.

"Fuck! What the hell?"

"I can't say what you're thinking but you can just tell me hourly that I'm in love with you?"

"Huh. Touche. Fine, I'll stop. I love you. How do you feel about me?"


Draco didn't deal well with silences in general, they made him twitch uncomfortably. And being that his estranged wife had hexed him with the most horrific rectal itch he'd ever experienced in his life, it really just made the whole thing the most exquisite hell he had ever known.

"You're actually serious," were the next words out of her mouth and Draco felt like he was moving at snail pace. Sure, it was progress, but it wasn't a fucking answer!

"What does that mean?!" he asked, frustrated, while trying to maintain the sincerest expression he could possibly manage whilst wiggling his butt cheeks. He probably looked like a squirrel on aromentia.

Just as he was thinking she'd never answer, she closed her eyes and muttered, "FINE! I love you too. Being with you, when I'm not ready to kill you… it makes me happy, okay?"

It was his turn to be absolutely silent.

For about a nanosecond.

"So… we're trying this? And by this, I mean the greater question of our marriage."

"We're trying this," she confirmed, the slight smile on her face broke into a full laugh. "We're insane!"

He wasn't even fully paying attention to her. She had actually said she loved him. It kept replaying in his head. As much as he had told her she did, over and over again, it had been, in large part, because he knew it annoyed the life out of her. The idea that she was actually going for it…

Fuck, he'd actually won.

It was really only the overpowering need to snog the hell out of the woman who was actually legitimately in love with him that prevented him from bragging about his victory.

That, plus the persistent itch in his lower colon suggested it was ultimately more of a draw. He pulled away with a realization. "You're not actually going to take this curse off my arse, are you?"

"Do you feel you've learned your lesson?" she asked, obviously taking a lot of pleasure out of the situation for a woman claiming to be in love with him.

The greater message not to fuck with her, like, ever was not lost on him. It was the specifics that were tripping him up.

"This is the honesty and all that bull shit, right?" he doublechecked.

"Sounds to me like you're gonna have to scratch that yourself…"

"Sorry, the only thing I have that goes up that far doesn't bend that way."

Hermione wasn't unmoved by the observation, awaiting, he suspected, proof of his unyielding honesty from this point forward.

"Fine! Yes, honesty from me, between us, all that. It's a good idea. We'll try it out. Though I should mention, in the interest of full disclosure, I sometimes drop the M-bomb when you're not around. But that's more out of habit than residual racism."

"You drop the M-bomb when I am around."

"Well, there. See? You already knew. We can live happily ever after."

Hermione groaned. "That is so unlikely to happen."

"The sooner you uncurse me, the sooner we can forget all this negativity, stroll through those doors and onto the shagging." At Hermione's gasp, he re-phrased, "Beautiful, soulful love making. On multi-surfaces."

But, obviously, that wasn't what she was concerned about as she rested her face in her hands.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

She peaked at him through a crack in her fingers. "I'll have to tell Harry and Ron that we patched things up."

Draco could barely feel the itch in his arse as joy filled his entire body, leaving just one burning question, "Can I please be there for that?"

The End