A/N I write for fun, not profit. Everything belongs to J.K. Rowlings.

Chapter 1

Hermione sighed and looked out the window despondently. She couldn't believe the idiocy of those in charge. How could they have passed that asinine law and forced the muggleborn witches into what amounted to slavery?

She was content with where she was in life. She was 22, had a good job and had her own place. She was content in not having a love life. She wasn't ready to be tied down yet. She had so much to accomplish before she committed herself to someone for forever. She didn't want the responsibilities of a child yet either.

How could the minister be so stupid!

"Hermione?" Her assistant said for the second time.

"Oh I'm sorry Laurel. I was contemplating that new stupid law again." Hermione turned around giving her assistant her full attention.

Her assistant frowned and shook her head. "I agree with you though, even if I am a pure-blood. It isn't fair to expect a woman to give up everything she is working towards just to 'preserve the bloodlines.' And you have worked hard for what you have Hermione."

Hermione shook her head silently. "Well, anyways, enough brooding. What can I do for you?"

"I have the results of the experiment that we've been working on."

Hermione got up excitedly. "And?"

"Well, I thought you would come and want to verify the results yourself." Laurel said, glad she could get Hermione's mind off of it.

Hermione practically ran down the hall. She tore into the research room. Yes, the potion had finally turned the brilliant shade of red that she was looking for. It was going to work. 'Hallelujah' she thought. She was on the brink of one of the most exciting discoveries in the wizarding world and it was about to be taken away from her by some man.

Later, after she and Laurel had drunk themselves silly at the Leaky Cauldron, Hermione staggered home. She walked up the steps to her flat and saw a dark figure standing by her door. "Oh wonderful. What do you want?" She said drunkenly.

Draco Malfoy came out of the shadows and silently handed her a scroll.

"I can see this wasn't a good time to deliver this. But I wanted to do it in person. Think about it mudblood. It's probably the best offer you'll get considering your 'new status' in the wizarding world." Draco sneered at her.

Hermione looked at him, determined not to cry. Why now! Today of all days, when she had one of the greatest triumphs of her life. "Well, hopefully Hell will freeze over before I have to accept your offer ferret boy!" Hermione said trying to recover some bravado.

Draco smiled an evil smile. "We'll just see about that Granger. After all, you have a week to decide and I have a feeling you'll see there are worse things out there than me."

He lifted his hand and gently rubbed her cheek. "Until later, Hermione" and he sauntered down the stairs.

Hermione watched him as he left, then slumped against her door. "Crap!" she mumbled to herself.

She woke up the next morning with a pounding headache and realized she must have fallen on her bed and sacked out immediately, as she was still in her clothes from the night before. She couldn't even remember getting into bed. What had she been doing last night? "Oh yeah!" She remembered drinking with Laurel and celebrating their success. She frowned though in concentration. She knew there was a little detail that she should be remembering, but it was escaping her.

"Oh well! Time to get up. "OOOHHHHH!!!! That hurts. Where is my hangover potion?" Hermione hadn't quite gotten over the habit of talking to herself, since she lived alone.

She staggered into the bathroom looking for the potion. That was one of the nice things in the wizarding world. Other than death and heartbreak, there was a cure-all for just about everything. She pulled the potion bottle out of her cabinet and unstoppered the bottle. She took a pull and as the potion worked it's magic, everything came back in stunning clarity. "Oh bloody hell! What am I going to do?" Hermione moaned.

She looked at her clock. It wasn't too early to call Harry, but it may be too early to call Ron. Oh well, she was having a crisis. They were going to have to deal!

Several hours later, they were curled up in her living room with a teapot between them. Hermione looked at Harry. "What am I going to do Harry? I can't let Ron ask me to marry him. He's too in love with Aurora for me to let him ruin his life just to save me from Draco."

Harry looked at her sadly. "I agree with you on that Hermione. I wish I could offer for you, but...."

"Harry! You have Cho. I couldn't let you do that! Even if you could do that" Hermione looked aghast at the thought.

Secretly, Harry wished he could have. He cared for Hermione more than she would ever know, but he knew that she would have never been content being in his shadow.

Ron banged on the door at that moment. Hermione got up and answered it. "What was so bloody important that you couldn't have waited until some normal time of morning to call me?" Ron grumbled as he slumped into a chair in her living room.

Hermione and Harry quickly filled him in on the situation. "What am I going to do Ron?" Hermione wailed.

Ron got a frightened look on his face. He was hoping that she wouldn't think...well, he was happy right now. Not that he wouldn't do almost anything for Hermione, but even he had his limits.

"Oh no Ron, I would never ask you to do that! You should know me better than that!" Hermione looked at him exasperatedly.

"Oh, well...I'm sorry Hermione. This thing has us all shook up." Ron stuttered. "How about Fred or George. Neither one of them is attached right now."

"Oh, yeah, I could just imagine that one. I'd be reading and they'd be blowing my books up to keep me from becoming too much of a bookworm." Hermione rolled her eyes.

Harry and Ron smothered laughs. She was right.

"And I supposed Percy, Charlie and Bill are all out of the question too?" Harry said quietly.

"Yes, Harry. I can't imagine being married to Percy and I do hate to admit I have a thing about age, but I do. So I guess that leaves out Bill and Charlie. Besides they're happy with what they've decided to do in life."

"Well Hermione, what are you going to do. You've just shot down all the eligible pure-blood bachelors I know that aren't gits." Ron looked at her slightly angrily.

"I know Ron. I know it would be better to go with one of your brothers, than with Draco, but I can't force them into it. That's not fair. If they would ask me willingly, then maybe I would consider it." Hermione said sadly. She might as well resign herself to her fate, unless a miracle happened.

Ron and Harry exchanged a look of sadness. Of all people, why would Draco want their Hermione? They had never gotten along. Harry hoped it wasn't a deatheater plot against him. Have Draco take Hermione as his wife and possibly be able to get to Harry somehow? No, he had to stop thinking of her and Ron living in his shadow. They were all their own people now. He had defeated Voldemort four years ago; it was time to move on.

Hermione looked at the scroll sitting in front of her, realizing she hadn't even read Draco's offer yet. Not that she really wanted to, but she might as well have something to compare other offers to.

An owl tapped at the window.