Author: TombCrank the Crafty
Summary: Men in the Wizarding World aren't used to women with minds and backbones. Hermione is not pleased with the advent of a certain marriage law. Based fairly loosely on the WIKTT Marriage Law Challenge. One shot.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Ron sighed long-sufferingly. "Really, Hermione, it isn't all that bad-" He started his usual response to her rant on that dratted law.
Hermione glared. Lesser men would have quailed and shook at the knees, but Ron was mostly immune to her nasty looks. "Says you, a pure-blooded male. It's not like you're being forced into an early marriage with your old Potions Professor. Or have you conveniently forgotten that I'm marrying Snape? The 'greasy, slimy git' of the dungeons?"
Ron shrugged. "You're the one who refused my offer right out of school. Once rejected, I can't ask again according to Wizarding Law. It's your fault for not marrying me."
"Oh yes, god forbid I not want to marry my classmate at the so very mature age of seventeen. It's not even legal!"
"It is in the Wizarding World." Molly interjected. She was in a corner, knitting something despite the rather high summer temperatures outside.
"If you've forgotten, Molly, I'm Muggle-born. Most Muggle women don't marry until their late twenties or even early thirties. It's considered to be bad form to be pregnant and barefoot at the age of seventeen. And technically speaking, by Muggle standards, I haven't even an education, seeing as I don't have a high school degree." Hermione paused, the implications sinking in. "Oh dear lord, I would have been poor white trash."
Harry snickered quietly in the background, the only one to have understood Hermione's reference. "At least there's that." He offered helpfully.
"Harry, as thankful I am to not have been tied down then, this situation of mine is hardly a dream come true. A nightmare, perhaps, but no dream."
"You're a nice girl, Hermione. Snape won't bother you, not when he knows that Ron and I will be watching out for you."
Hermione started angrily. "That's your advice? I should grin and bear this mockery of a marriage while you occasionally spare a look in my direction? Good lord Harry, the man was a Death Eater! I know he's reformed now, but he wasn't when he started, was he? And you'd just watch as I signed my life away to him?"
Harry looked uncomfortable. "I know you're upset, but it's for the best…"
"So was sending you to the Dursley's." Hermione spat out, uncaring of the hurt she was causing. "Just look at how well that turned out."
Everyone in the room froze.
"Low blow." Ginny, who had been sitting at Harry's side, squeezed his hand comfortingly.
"Yes, you care oh so much Ginny because this damnable Marriage Law is getting the two of you hitched. How delightful." Hermione glared at the pair. "You couldn't even indulge in your own Oedipal fantasies without help from that interfering Ministry, could you Harry? I highly doubt you would have advanced this far into a relationship with your mother's mirror image without having rationalizing away all your doubt and guilt. That's why you're a quiet supporter of the Law and even Ginny knows it."
Molly gasped. "Hermione, how dare you even say such things?"
Hermione smirked. It should have looked wrong on her face, but it was an oddly familiar gesture. "Quite easily. I am a Gryffindor, am I not? Are we not the epitome of daring and courage?" She asked mockingly.
Harry had a wand pointed at her almost instantaneously. "Who are you and what have you done with the real Hermione?" At Harry's movement the rest of the room sprung into action, mimicking his pose.
With a grin on her face, Hermione put her hands on her hips. "What on earth are you lot talking about? I am Hermione!" She said in a falsetto. "Come on, ask me about the twelve uses of dragon's blood or what potion boomslang skin and lacewing flies go into?"
"Polyjuice potion." Harry whispered, a look of horror on his face.
"Too bad you were never this good at Potions in school, eh Potter? I have to admit, I didn't expect all of you to take this long in figuring me out. I had bet quite a few galleons that I would have been revealed days ago. You've cost me a small fortune, you know."
"D-days?" Ron stuttered out. "You've had her for days?"
"In a manner of speaking. I don't think anyone could hold Granger without her consent, to be honest. Now that is a woman who can take care of herself. She's the one who supplied me with the Polyjuice and her hair, you know. In fact, I took the last dose of Polyjuice almost an hour ago. I should be back to my usual gorgeous self in a few moments." An odd wince crossed her face. "Ah, right on time." Hermione's skin bubbled and bleached away into a pale white tone, her hair straightening and lightening considerably. Any of Hermione's softness suddenly became more angular, encompassing a much taller frame. Slate gray eyes watched the room's occupants with amusement.
"Draco Malfoy?" Ginny stammered out, Harry and Ron too flabbergasted to speak.
"Guilty as charged." He grinned at her dashingly.
Harry remembered that he had a wand at the ready. "Explain." He intoned ominously to the former Death Eater.
Draco shrugged. "What can I say, Granger really didn't want to marry Snape. Can't blame her, truth be told, but I was surprised when she came to me for help. Or, at least, until I saw how you lot were acting. So much for that vaunted Gryffindor loyalty, mmm?"
"Hermione's our friend! Why didn't she come to us?" Ron spit out.
Draco Malfoy sneered. He had gotten much better at it with age and practice. "You really need me to spell it out for you? Given how supportive everyone was of this Marriage Law, is it any wonder that Granger asked for outside help? For some reason, you all seem to forget that Granger is the smartest witch of her age. You honestly thought she would go along with this indignity?"
There was a mute silence, where everyone blanched or looked away guiltily.
"I thought just as much. Pathetic. Granger would have done better in Slytherin, despite her heritage. At least we respect cunning and ambition." He scowled in Potter's direction. "Now, if you'd excuse me, I believe I have to be going." He made for the open door.
"Not so fast, Malfoy." Harry waved his wand threateningly. "Not until you tell us where Hermione is."
Draco grinned, his white teeth glinting. It was not a pleasant sight. "Potter, I wouldn't tell you even if I knew. Hermione and I switched places nearly a week ago. She could be anywhere in the world right now by this point in time, safe from the Ministry's reach. Given how well we British wizards are thought of in the International Wizarding community, I don't doubt that even if the other ministries found her, they'd leave her alone, just to spite us." His grin grew wider, if possible. "You all have well and truly fucked up with the most brilliant witch of the century and I don't suppose she's feeling too happy with you at the moment. I'd watch out if I were you."
Ron blinked incomprehensively. "But we're her best friends. She couldn't leave us!"
"As Hermione so blithely put it, 'friends don't leave friends at the mercy of the Ministry'. My bet is that she no longer thinks of you with a tender smile on her face. More like a scowl. Grow up, Weasley, we aren't at Hogwarts anymore. Hermione is her own woman and she can live her life as she pleases. You shouldn't have forgotten that."
"Why did she go to you?" Ginny asked, eyeing him suspiciously. "Why ask a former Death Eater for help?"
"If you've forgotten, Weaselette, I happen to have had the second best Potions grades in the class, regardless of Snape's favoritism. Besides, I'm up for anything as long as it includes getting back at Potter. Granger was Slytherin enough to realize this." Malfoy sketched a small, mocking bow. "I really must insist that I take my leave. I fear your stupidity is catching and I really must wash off. You never know what sort of germs you might encounter in a hovel like this. Good bye, all." With a sharp turn of his heel, Malfoy apparated out of the Burrow with a shark-like grin and a wink.
Harry, Ron, Ginny, and the stunned Mrs. Weasley stared at the spot where Draco Malfoy had just occupied.
"I think," Harry said slowly, "that we have made a terrible mistake."
Author's Note: My little response to all those WIKTT believers. I highly doubt Hermione would stand for any sort of Marriage Law. She's too smart for something as petty as rules to keep her from achieving her goals. (Harry and Ron helped create a monster, all right.) And as for Malfoy, I felt it was just the right touch. Let me know what you think, all right?
TombCrank the Crafty