A/N A couple of you commented on the crappy formatting of the last chapter, hope its better this time around. Thank you to all of you who are reviewing. I'm sorry to those I promised a chapter earlier in the week, I had errands on Monday and when I sat down on Tuesday to finish off what I had started I was very unhappy.
Life returned to normal for Hermione. It was like she had never been married. She worried and fretted over Draco's absence and tried her best to put Blaise out of her mind. She studied hard, took on the duties of the Head Boy and marvelled with her friends at Luna's growing pregnancy.
In her weakest moments, in the middle of the night when sleep eluded her, she wished it was her stomach gently swelling with Blaise's child. She wished he had been right when he had assumed it was her that was pregnant.
Little did she know, she was about to become the poster child for the Anti-Marriage Law campaign.
The article appeared on the eve of Valentine's Day. 'Bobby Brooks' had certainly done her research. When Callindra Collins and Mary Hatt had approached their editor with their article about the love triangle they'd observed that night at the Leaky Cauldron he'd been very pleased with them. So pleased he had withheld the article from being immediately published and ordered them to write an exposé on the Marriage Law, uncovering all the unhappy marriages the Ministry had been trying desperately to cover up. It was no secret that the editor's daughter had been matched quite unhappily to a man she had long fought with. Katie Bell was their first stop.
Her husband, Charlie Weasley, was their second.
Discreetly, sometimes working as a pair, sometimes individually, they interviewed fifty-eight couples, fifty-two of which were extremely unhappy with their marriages. With the promise of anonymity they had even managed to score an interview with a Ministry employed councilor who thought what his employer was doing was barbaric. In the end, so lengthy was their article, so full of facts, interviews and opinions that their editor decided to run it as a special edition booklet to be sold at half price.
So as not to arouse the suspicions of just how damning their research was Mary Hatt waited until the the last minute before they went to print to get a comment from the Minister for Magic. Her owl read as follows:
I am writing to request a comment on the divorce of Hermione Granger and Blaise Zabini on Christmas Eve, the paperwork for which was filled out by your personally. In addition, a comment on the general unhappiness and unease many feel in their new marriages is also requested. If people cannot stand to be in the same room as their spouse, that's not exactly conducive to procreating a new generation of magic. A speedy reply would be appreciated.
Roberta Brooks, Witch Weekly.
A simple, 'No comment,' was the reply.
By the day after Valentine's Day, nearly every magical person in Britain had read the article. The Ministry was in panic mode, trying desperately to refute the article. They even went so far as to draft their own pamphlet full of success stories. Kingsley was holed up in his office, refusing to speak to anyone.
Hermione, back at Hogwarts was in a similar situation.
The front cover of the anti-Marriage Law booklet had featured a wedding photo of her and Blaise, artfully torn in half and a photo of Draco pasted in between them. An exaggerated retelling of her short marriage had accompanied the photos. Her and Draco were painted as some sort of star-crossed lovers, kept apart by the Marriage Law until she had 'called in a favour' to the Minister, expediting her divorce and allowing her and Draco to be together. The fact that Draco had seemingly dropped of the planet had not featured in the article. Neither, thank goodness, she thought, had the real reason behind her and Blaise's late night divorce.
A parliament of owls delivered staggering amount of mail to her on Valentine's Day. Some were filled with congratulations for finding a way around the Law, some were filled with pleas, begging her to help them get early divorces, a few Howlers chastised her for making a mockery of the sanctity of marriage but mostly they were filled with thanks. People looked at her and saw hope. It seemed that while yes, there were a few success stories, the majority of the people matched by the Ministry were deeply unhappy.
A lot of people had been in relationships but had not been granted exemption as they had just missed out on qualifying. Some people whose original matches had been granted exemption had simply been rematched with whoever was left over. The Ministry's carefully thought out law was coming apart at the seams.
A week after the damning article was published the Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, proclaimed the Law would be abolished. All divorce petitions would be granted and the Ministry apologises for any stress and emotional damage that may have been caused by the Law.
And, just like that, it was all over. Some couples stayed together. The ones who were pregnant mostly stayed with their partners though not all. The ones, like Harry and Ginny, who were lucky enough to be matched with people they were already with - the True Matches as they would come to be called - stayed together but mostly the Ministry was flooded with divorce petitions. First in line was Katie and Charlie.
Draco was cold. Even though they were moving into the end of winter every bone in Draco's body felt frozen. The heavy furs did nothing to help. They were forbidden from lighting fires as some perverted attempt to toughen up the students but all it did was heighten the cases of cold. One boy, a First Level, had had to be treated for frostbite on his toes.
Durmstrang was not all it was cracked up to be. But it was a school and it was far far away from Hermione and Blaise. Draco had thrown himself into his school work, into learning the language though after six weeks he felt more lost than ever. He had spent a large chunk of his trust fund to bribe his way into the school and now that he was here, he was determined to make the most of it. He kept his head down and his opinions to himself. He was miserable, but not half so miserable he would have been had he stayed at Hogwarts.
Here, no one knew who he was, no one cared that he loved a girl who didn't love him back. They appreciated his flying ability, his knowledge of the dark arts and his import of Firewhiskey.
That all changed however when he came down to breakfast a couple of days after Valentine's Day to find a copy of a special edition of Witch Weekly had been left on the table in front of his usual seat. 'Lover Boy' had been written across the photos of him, Blaise and Hermione. The B in Boy was backwards. But he was not ridiculed and bullied, as he feared he would be. It took him half the day to realise the other boys admired him. Hermione Granger had, of course, dated Viktor Krum.
That night, slightly drunk on Firewhisky, he had owled Hermione.
I wish I could say I was sorry about your divorce, but I'm not. I am sorry if you are hurting. I've enrolled at the Durmstrang Institute, in case you were wondering what had become of me. Its cold here but the other students are friendly enough and I'm slowly fitting in. I'm learning a lot, you would be jealous.
I miss you.
Yours, if you'll have me,
Hermione started at the little short note. Durmstrang. She smiled, she was jealous. I miss you. She missed him, too. But it was nothing compared to how her heart missed Blaise. Gone were the letters, the brief visits, the nights with him in her bed. Gone was the hope he would be there again. He clearly didn't want her anymore.
She wrote back to Draco, trying very hard to sound casual and friendly. She told him of the abolishment of the Marriage Law, their unwitting part in it. She told him of who was getting divorced and who was staying together. She tried to include people he was friends with, adding in the detail of Pansy's pregnancy. At the end, as if she had only just thought of it, she added;
Have not heard from Blaise, though I really did not expect to. If I do, I'll let him know where you've ended up.
P.S. Head duties have doubled, miss you, too.
Before she changed her mind, Hermione all but sprinted to the Owlery and sent off her letter. One of her worries settled - the location of Draco - she returned to her room and continued studying.
A/N Thanks to everyone who is reviewing, helping me get to 1000, I can't thank you enough! Hugs and kisses for all of you. And pie!
Now, on to something serious. The more I write, the more confused I get about who I want Hermione to end up with. If I were to write alternative endings, would that be a total cop out or would it just be an easy was to appease everyone? There would be the final chapter, the way I really want it to end, then there would be one or two 'bonus' chapters where Hermione ends up with someone else. Sound off in the reviews!