New story! I still sadly own nothing. But on a happy note - I finished my Christmas shopping!
"I have to get married," Draco Malfoy declared tiredly. He had just spent the day with his parents as they laid out the terms of his betrothal. A pact had been made with the Greengrass family. He would marry their youngest daughter, Astoria, and in exchange, Lucius Malfoy would receive a controlling interest in Greengrass Enterprises. They had sold their only son for stock.
"Ron and I broke up," his roommate, Hermione Granger, replied.
He sat down beside her and closed his eyes. "About time," he muttered. "What was it this time?"
She sighed. "He doesn't want kids."
"You knew that," he replied.
She nodded. She had known that. Had known for years that Ron Weasley didn't want children. "I hoped he'd change his mind," she said. "I hoped I could change his mind. He said we could get married if that's what I really wanted, but he doesn't see the point in marriage either."
He placed his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to his side. "I'm sorry," he murmured.
Hermione placed her head on his shoulder. "It's not your fault, Draco," she stated as she struggled to hold back tears. The collar of his shirt began to dampen as she silently wept. "Why doesn't he want me? What's wrong with me?"
"Absolutely nothing," he said furiously. "Don't ever say that again. You're sweet and smart and beautiful. You're the best friend I've ever had. Break ups are hard. You and Weasley have been together for almost ten years. It's completely natural that you would be upset. It just bothers me that you think you're not good enough. You're the best, Hermione."
She sniffled and laughed. "You're pretty wonderful too," she replied. "I'm lucky to have you as a friend. I'm sorry for making your bad news all about me."
He smiled. "Well, I figure, to help make it up to me, you could figure out a way to get me out of it," he said.
Leaning back, she stared up at him with a puzzled look on her face. "What? Like marry you myself?" she asked.
"Well, the way you say it makes it sound terrible," he replied with an air of indignation, put on as it may be. "I was merely hoping for a loophole in the contract."
She nodded and placed her head on his shoulder once more. "I think I can handle that," she agreed. "Did you bring a copy of the contract?"
Leaning back, he slipped his hand into his pocket and pulled out a shrunken version of the document. With a tap of his wand, it expanded and he handed it over. While she read, he studied her. Her dark brown curls hung to her shoulders, creating a curtain around her face as she leaned forward to read. She was pretty in a simple way - no makeup, a light smattering of freckles across her nose, and she chewed gently on her lower lip when she concentrated.
"Anything?" he asked hopefully when she finished.
Frowning, she shook her head. "What if you did marry someone else?" she asked.
He shrugged. "I lose my inheritance," he replied. "I don't really care about that. I just don't want them to disown me. They're the only family I have."
She gave his hand a squeeze. "I'm gonna find a way," she promised. "Can you think of anyone else who had a marriage contract? Someone who might have figured out how to get out of it?"
Draco sat back and thought about her question. There had to be someone. Anyone. In the history of arranged marriages, there had to be at least one person who broke the contract. "Blaise," he finally said.
"But he married Pansy," she replied. "She wasn't his betrothed?"
With a smile on his lips, he shook his head. "He was supposed to marry some French diplomat's daughter," he shared. "He and Pansy have been together since sixth year, and neither one of them wanted to break up. Her getting pregnant couldn't have come at a better time."
"So, you think the pregnancy is what broke his contract?" she asked. He nodded. "But how is that possible? Surely that can't end a marriage contract. Purebloods often have illegitimate children."
"It has to do with the heir," Draco explained. "If a Pureblood produces an heir, and any firstborn child is considered the heir regardless of the circumstances, then there's no point in fulfilling the marriage contract. The whole point of an arranged marriage, in Pureblood society at least, is to produce an heir."
The pieces were beginning to fit together. She skimmed through the contract again as an idea formed in her mind. It was crazy, but it would work. The contract confirmed it. "What if we had a baby," she proposed.
Frowning, he shook his head. "Absolutely not, Hermione."
"But why not?" she asked. "I want a baby. You want to get out of an arranged marriage. This seems like a perfect solution to me."
"You just got out of a relationship. A rather long relationship," he countered. "Are you sure you're thinking this through clearly?"
She scoffed and got to her feet to stand on the other side of the coffee table. "Of course I am," she replied, hands on her hips. "Draco, I'm almost 30. I want a baby while I'm still young."
He chuckled despite the seriousness of the conversation. "First of all, you're 27," he pointed out. "And second, 30 isn't old. Sixty is old, and that's still a long way off. You've got plenty of time to find someone to have a baby with. Don't do it because you think it'll get me out of this contract."
Sighing, she rounded the table and sat down in front of him. "I'm not offering just because of the contract," she told him, reaching out to take his hand. "You're my best friend, Draco. After the war, you were the one who was there for me. Maybe it was because you came back to school and the boys didn't. A lot of the kids who came back didn't go through what we went through. Being friends with you made me feel safe and sane."
"In a way I guess it makes the whole thing worth it," he added. "The two of us becoming friends. Putting aside past differences and upbringings. I wouldn't have gotten through that year without you either."
She took a deep breath and let it out. "And now, after all this time and all we've been through, I can't think of anyone else I'd rather do this with," she said.
Leaning forward, he cupped her cheek with his free hand. "I don't want you to regret this," he murmured.
"I won't," she promised, closing the distance to kiss his lips.