This story was nominated in round three of the Dramione Awards for Best Romance and Best Fluff and it came in second in Best Fluff. It was also nominated for the New Library Awards, Best Amortentia. Thanks to everyone who nominated and voted for it!
All characters and canon situations belong to JK Rowling and I make no money from publishing or writing this story. Thank you.
An Unlikely Pair
Chapter 1 –
Taking a deep breath, in and out, she temporarily shut her eyes. She could do this. She could get through this. It didn't matter that he was getting married. She didn't love him anymore, anyway. It really didn't matter.
Except it did.
She watched the groom and the bride exchange their vows, and her heart almost stopped. It was supposed to be her up there with him. It was supposed to be her wedding, her white gown, her friends and family. What went wrong? When did he stop loving her? Did she ever really love him?
The wedding was over now. Everyone was standing. It was the proper thing to do, stand as the bride and groom passed, to show respect. She remained in her seat. She wouldn't stand for anyone. She wanted to cry. She followed the throng outside, to see the happy pair off to the reception. She even threw some rice. She aimed right for his face. That made her smile the first time all day. She shook her head, to remove the rice that landed there, and walked back in the chapel and sat down.
Soon, the chapel emptied and she was all alone. Everyone probably went to the Burrow for the reception. Would anyone even notice that she wasn't there? Probably not. Harry wouldn't notice. He would be too busy with 'Best Man' duties. Ginny wouldn't notice, since she was the Matron of Honour. Ron certainly wouldn't notice, since he married another.
Hermione Granger was a strong woman. She would survive this little heartache and move forward. Outwardly, it didn't even bother her. When she received the invitation, she wanted to throw it away, but she had to keep up appearances. Therefore, she came. She saw. She conquered. Now she needed a bottle of vodka and some good old-fashioned self-pity, and come Monday morning, she would be fine.
She stood, walked in front of the pew, and down the aisle. She should have turned left, toward the door. She turned right, toward the altar. She stood there, with the multi-coloured rays of light from the stained glass window dancing all around her on the light, pine floor.
She looked up and imagined it was her wedding. She imagined her father walking her down the aisle, her mother dabbing a hanky to dry her eye. Her groom, waiting for her, with a smile on his face, but the only problem was she could not picture her groom. She knew she certainly did not picture Ron standing there with her. So what was her problem, anyway?
She turned around to walk out the door, but opted to sit in the second pew from the end instead. She sat there, hung her head, and began to cry.
The door opened, slightly. She stiffened in her seat. She turned quickly around to see who entered. The sight of the person in front of her shocked her. It was Draco Malfoy. He saw her as well, and stepped back outside. He must have seen her crying. Damn. She hadn't seen him in three years. The last time she saw him was at Ginny and Harry's wedding. It shocked her at the time that he was invited, but to be truthful, she didn't pay him much mind at the time. She was busy that day celebrating the fact that her best friend was marrying the girl of his dream.
She turned her face back around and wiped her eyes. She mustn't let him see her crying. She walked out the doors, and saw him sitting on the steps, his tie hanging loosely around his neck. He looked up at her as she walked out the door. She sat down beside him. "Hello, Malfoy, I didn't see you at the wedding."
"Really? I saw you," he said. "I was in the pew right behind you. You didn't look like you enjoyed the ceremony very much," he added lightly.
"I don't suppose I did," she agreed.
"Do you want to be alone to wallow in self pity a bit longer, or are you heading to the reception?" he asked.
"I'm not wallowing in self pity," she pointed out.
"Yes you were," he laughed.
"No, I really wasn't," she said again. He glared at her and frowned. She said, "Fine, I was wallowing. What are you still doing here? Why aren't you at the reception?"
"Heavens," he laughed, "it was asking a lot of me to just come to the ceremony. I certainly cannot imagine myself entertaining the thought of going to a reception with a bunch of Weasleys. I would probably be blinded by a sea of red hair."
She laughed. "Then why are you still here?"
"I was waiting for you, of course," he said.
"I don't know, really," he answered honestly. "You just seemed sad, and I don't know, but I thought I would wait for you. Do you want me to leave?"
Did she? Did she want Draco Malfoy to leave her alone?
She didn't even know the answer to that.
She decided to change the subject. "Were you invited here by Ron or by Pansy?"
"Pansy, of course," he said, standing up and crossing over to sit down on a small bench by the cobblestone walk.
She remained where she was.
He said, "So, are you mourning the fact that Weasley married someone besides you, or are you mourning the fact that you weren't the one getting married?"
"Aren't they the same thing?" she asked.
"No, you could just feel jealous that you weren't the one up there in the white dress, the gloves, and the veil. Weasley doesn't have to fit in that equation," he pointed out.
"Well, then," she mumbled, trying to be truthful, "I guess I am jealous. I want the marriage, the house, and the kids. It doesn't mean I want Ron."
"Hooray for you," he said, standing back up. He seemed restless.
"What do you mean, hooray for me?" she asked, confused.
"I'm just glad you can admit the truth. I would hate to think you would shed a tear over that red-headed vermin," he laughed.
"Oh," she said softly.
He came and sat back down next to her on the wooden step again. She looked down at his black shoes. He said, "Are my shoes interesting?" She looked back up to his face and he asked another question, "What do you do now, Granger?"
"I'm a healer at St. Mungo's. How about you?" she asked him as she looked in his silver-grey eyes.
"I work for the Ministry, top secret, mind you. If I tell you, I would have to kill you," he grinned.
"I thought you worked with Harry and Ron in the Auror department," she said.
"If you knew, why did you ask?" he wondered, raising one brow.
She shrugged. "Just making small talk, I guess," she said nonchalantly. She stood up. "I should go."
"Oh yes, to the sea of red hair, or as the common people call it, the reception," Draco said, more to himself. He stood as well.
"No, I'm going home," she admitted. "I don't think I'll be missed, and I just know there's a bottle of vodka at the store with my name on it, waiting for me to take it home."
He laughed a true laugh and said, "Not an alcoholic these days, are you?"
"No, just a binge drinker," she lied. She laughed as well. "It was nice to see you again, Draco. Maybe I'll see you the next time an ex-Slytherin marries an ex-Gryffindor."
He smiled and said, "Seriously, Granger, when is that likely to happen again?"
"True," she agreed.
She started to apparate away but he walked up to her and said, "By the way, you have some rice in your hair."
"Do I?" she wondered.
He reached up and removed several grains of white rice. He said, "Your hair is so much softer than I ever imagined it being."
She didn't know what to say to that. "Thank you?', or, 'You've imagined my hair?' What? Instead, she put her own hands up to her hair and shook it again. She said, "Did I get it all?"
He leaned in closer. He smelled like a slice of heaven here on earth. She actually took a deep sniff. She hoped he couldn't tell. He looked intently at her hair and said, "I believe you did." He looked away quickly, back toward the chapel. She wondered why. When he turned back toward her, she was still standing very close to him.
"See you at the next wedding," he said again.
"Till then," she said, holding up her hand.
Again, before she could leave, he said, "Would you like company tonight, or is it just going to be your and your special bottle of vodka?"
She grinned and said, "What did you have in mind?"
He smiled a crooked smile and said, "Take my arm and find out."
She shook her head, 'no', but came up and put her hand on his outstretched arm. "After you, Malfoy."