A/N: Eternal amounts of thanks to my beta Rusty Weasley and my cheerleader/muse/drill sergeant TycheSong. As always, I own nothing of this wonderful Harry Potter Universe.
"Put the damned cigar out, Pucey."
"Sod off Nott, this isn't your place."
"No, but it's mine. Just because Zabini decided to remodel and I got stuck hosting this stupid game doesn't mean I want that stench."
There was a collective clamor of agreements and groans of disappointment as Draco Malfoy sauntered into the room where the men sat, bottle of Old Ogden's in hand. He waved off the complaints and sat in one of the empty chairs at the crowded table. A round of good-natured ribbing ensued as he passed the bottle off to Adrian Pucey, who sat to his left, and picked up the deck of cards to deal them with near-expert skill. The game was Follow the Queen, a personal favorite of theirs.
This particular group of men met every week nearly ever since they left Hogwarts, with few exceptions. It was their way to unwind from their high-profile lives, likely one of the only places in Britain where such a gathering of financial and business scions could be found. As the cards slid across the table, Malfoy studied his friends grouped there.
Theo Nott sat across from him, his tie loose and his dark hair ruffled as he laughed at something caustic Adrian Pucey had muttered. The two worked closely enough all day, Pucey as Head of the Department of Finances and Nott as Undersecretary to the Minister, that it was practically guaranteed they would row about something small before the night was through. His gaze shifted over to the quieter member of the group, Blaise Zabini, who sat with a smirk on his face as he listened to the other two.
Blaise was perhaps the only one in the room who could avoid the media attention the rest of them did, a fact he used to his distinct advantage as the silent head of his mother's company. Finally, his eyes moved to the empty chair to his left, a movement Zabini noticed if the arch of one dark brow was any indication. There wasn't a fifth member of their party, there never had been. Malfoy winced inwardly, the questions were only moments away.
"So who's going to be joining us this evening, Malfoy?" The black man's question rang clear and loud through the room, silencing all other conversation. He felt a hot flush rise up his neck, this wasn't at all how he had wanted to break the news to his friends.
Adrian crowed, his squabble with Theo forgotten. "It's that bint the people at the Prophet can't get a picture of, isn't it?"
Draco scowled and Nott laughed, declaring, "It is! Now just to figure out who the future Lady Malfoy is!" He looked expectantly in Draco's direction, but the blonde simply glared and leaned back in his chair, arms folded across his chest.
It was then that Blaise decided to throw his two Knuts into the mix, quite literally, when he reached into his pocket and tossed a handful of Galleons on the table. "That says it's the younger Greengrass girl," he announced with a nod. The table of men turned their heads to the man in question but received no response from him.
Theo shrugged and procured his own bag of coins. "I'll put twenty on the older one, whatever her name was." When they still received no indication from Draco, another round of speculation began, each option more ridiculous than the last.
"I bet it's Millicent."
"Or that girl, what's her name…the chubby one from Ireland that followed him about last Beltane at the Parkinson party…"
"No, the bird in the Prophet had amazing stems, she have a rack to match those legs, Malfoy?"
A round of laughs went around the table, all but Draco, and then a wry grin twisted Adrian's lips. He waited for the room to quiet and then lifted a heavy stack of Galleons, dumping them in the middle of the table and announcing, "Fifty Galleons says Draco has finally realized his love of the one and only Pansy Parkinson!" There was a loud snort, that sounded as if it had come from Blaise of all people, and laughter echoed in the corners of the roomy den.
Then, over the raucous laughter, a clear, unfamiliar tone rang out, "200 Galleons says it's the far greater and more elusive prize of Hermione Granger." Four disbelieving faces turned toward the door to meet the haughty gaze of the svelte woman leaning against the doorframe. She straightened and sauntered across the room, long pale legs showcased by the short, fitted dress and tall heels she wore.
She reached the table and bent over the blonde man's shoulder, pecking him on the cheek, acting as if she were completely unaware of the way her thick curls only partially obscured the cleavage framed by her black dress. Draco spun nearly completely around in the chair, staring up at the woman for just a moment before hissing, "What the bloody hell are you wearing?"
Hermione straightened, a sultry smile curving one side of her mouth. "Didn't you want me to look nice for your friends?" she asked, her tone innocent and the gleam in her eyes anything but. He groaned and buried his face in his hands, only to hear one of his friends finally speak.
"Granger?" Blaise finally managed, while Pucey and Nott simply sat and stared. Draco's head snapped up again and he carefully surveyed his girlfriend's ensemble again. Seeming to come to a sudden decision, he stood, shed his robe and threw it around Hermione's shoulders, to which she simply arched one slim brow, before turning back to his friends.
"You," he said vehemently, gesturing to the other three men, "please leave. Now."
"But," Adrian started.
"Out." Draco said tensely, shifting to stand in front of Hermione and one hand drifting toward the pocket that held his wand. One by one, the men slowly stood, making their way out the door, Theo pausing to give Hermione a long, appreciative look, to which she smiled coyly and Draco allowed a low growl to sound.
The second the door closed firmly behind them, Draco whirled on his girlfriend, who stood in the middle of the room, practically swallowed by his robes and a defiant expression on her face. "What the hell was that?" he burst.
"That," she said as she slipped off her uncomfortably high heels and walked over to him, tapping him in the chest with a stiletto, "was clearly the easiest way to get your friends to leave so I could have you all to myself. Rather more effective than an Imperius, don't you think?"
He gaped at her, the petite woman standing inches in front of him with a delicious fire in her eyes. "But, you were supposed to be meeting them tonight," he said lamely, clearly at a loss as to how to process this outrageous behavior from his normally sedate witch.
"Draco, I went to school with them for seven years," she pointed out sedately, reaching up with nimble fingers to loosen his tie. "Now," she said when the burgundy cloth hung loose, patting him on the chest, "would you like to explain to me exactly why I was interrupted at the lab today by a goblin solicitor with an absolute novel of legalese he tried to insist I read and sign?"
Draco paled. "Umm…" he stuttered, "are you certain it was for you, there must have been some mistake," all the while thinking,Damn goblins. Damn them all to hell and back.
Hermione stepped back, an incredulous look on her face as she stared up at the blonde man towering over her. "Draco, I'm not sure you've heard, but there are a few people who seem to like to call me the brightest witch of our age, I can only imagine that might mean I'm capable of recognizing both my name and yours on parchment, so would you kindly care to explain?"
"Well…erm…" he started, "you see, they were supposed to wait until Monday. That was a formal disclosure of my assets, standard in this sort of thing you know."
A familiar, thoughtful furrow appeared between her brows and she muttered to herself, "Formal disclosure of assets…" and then her brow flew up and her wide amber eyes met his. "Draco Malfoy, what sort of thing are you talking about?" she nearly shrieked as she realized where exactly she had heard that term in the past.
"Didn't the solicitor tell you?" he asked helplessly. "Pureblood marriages always require this sort of thing."
Color rushed to fill Hermione's cheeks as she processed his words, the spark in her eyes prompting Draco to move his hand just a bit closer to his wand. "Draco Malfoy," she finally sputtered, "I swear to Merlin, if this is your half-arsed way of trying to propose to me, I'm going to hex you into next year!"
Draco's eyes widened, the woman in front of him was likely one of the only witches on the planet capable of actually making good on that threat, and he rushed to provide an explanation, feeble though it was. "They were supposed to wait until Monday… I had this whole thing planned out for tomorrow evening with fireworks and Abraxons lined up. And roses, but white ones, not the red, because you don't like the red…"
Hermione's glare softened slightly in light of his pathetically hopeful sounding attempt at an explanation and Draco, seeing his chance, took it and kneeled in front of the witch before she could speak again, or worse, hex him.
Reaching deep into his pocket, he wrapped his hand around the small, heavy box that had been waiting there all week. He cleared his throat, looking more nervous than Hermione had ever seen him, a tinge of green on his pale face. "This isn't how I wanted to do this," he muttered before speaking up, looking up at the face of the stunned woman standing over him. "Hermione, I…I had this eloquent speech planned, I even read that pride book you like so much for ideas, and now I can't remember a damn word of it. Circe this sounds terrible, but Hermione Granger, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
Silence reigned in the room for what seemed like hours, but what was in reality likely only seconds. When the pretty brunette didn't answer his somewhat fumbling proposal immediately, he averted his gaze and sighed, shifting to stand. Then, all of a sudden, a familiar, happy laugh rang out and his hand was trapped in a smaller, softer one. "Don't I even get to see the ring?" she asked playfully.
A smile reserved solely for Hermione broke across Draco's face and he snapped the small black box in his hand open, displaying the ring inside as a supplicant would to his queen. Hermione studied the ring just as she would any other unfamiliar object, taking in the delicately etched white gold band and the brilliant champagne diamond glinting in the center.
Finally, she spoke, and it was not at all what he had expected. "Gold?" she asked, nodding in the direction of the heavy silver signet ring he wore on his hand. He glanced down distractedly at the crest and then back up at her.
"Silver is cold," he explained with a shrug. "You're not a cold person, it's why I was drawn to you to begin with." Hermione flushed with pleasure at the compliment and delicately plucked the ring from the box, slipping it onto her finger.
Draco's breath caught at the beaming smile that spread over her face. "Is that a yes?" he whispered hesitantly, afraid to hear her answer. At her wordless nod, he let out a rather undignified whoop and stood, embracing the petite woman and lifting her off her feet.
He laughed as she squealed, spinning her happily. "Draco, stop!" she exclaimed, laughing. He obeyed, a broad grin on his face, and sat her down on the edge of the poker table, stopping to simply look at the woman who had just agreed to become his wife.
"What?" she asked, sounding self-conscious after he had stared for several long moments. He just shook his head, a ridiculous smile on his face, before reaching up with both hands to cup her face and pull her to him for a slow, sweet kiss. That ended only seconds later when Hermione pulled away, picking up the galleon her hand had landed on and spinning it interestedly in her fingers.
"Draco?" she asked, her tone thoughtful.
"Hmm?" he replied, sounding preoccupied as his fingers danced along the hem of her already short dress that had been pushed up to her hips.
"I noticed you had a section of the damned encyclopedia you sent me earmarked."
"Mmmm? Yes, I thought you'd be the most interested by that part." Distractedly, he tucked a curl behind her ear and ran his fingers down it to skim her breasts.
"Why would you think I'd be interested in any part of your wealth in particular?" she wondered, honestly past caring if he answered or not. He had the most delightfully clever hands!
"Because." Those same fingers nearly had her dress undone. "It's a complete disclosure of assets. That section in particular details the rare and valuable books and scrolls found in the Malfoy Library."
Hermione's squeal as he tipped her backward onto the poker table was due only in part to his roving fingers.
A/N: Hope you all enjoyed, don't forget to review!