Disclaimer: I've accepted that Harry Potter, and all franchise related to it, will never be mine. I can never contest the talent of Queen Jo by claiming all those things are mine. I can, however, write fanfiction. And here's one.
Something Brewing: An Assortment of New Beginnings
"Granger, I'd thought you'd be more insightful about things like this, seeing as you're the wedding planner and all. Our families, of course." Draco drawled, as if stating the obvious. Well, to a degree, he was, as Hermione had just asked him and Astoria regarding the guests.
Hermione responded with a roll of her eyes. "Yes, I know, Malfoy, though even then that list has to be trimmed, right?" By experience, Hermione knew that most of the couples she had worked with in the past had planned to invite practically their whole clans to the wedding, even those family members they haven't even quite known. It was a nightmare when they weren't aware of long standing feuds between family member so and so with family member is and is and sparks flew (sometimes literally) during the rehearsal dinner and the table arrangements would have to be modified last minute.
Astoria spoke up, looking a bit upset. "The truth is most of our extended family members were involved during the war and are otherwise… occupied." She explained, not quite able to say the word 'incarcerated'.
Draco added offhandedly. "The same goes for what semblance I have to a family, Granger, as I'm sure you'd know, sewn to Potter's arse as you are."
"Oh." Hermione replied, sitting back in her chair. "Right, sorry." She honestly hadn't considered that, and mentally berated herself for not having thought about it. She dismissed Draco's comment about being sewn to Harry's bottom as she knew he'd just made a very mangled rendition of the idiom 'attached at the hip'.
Astoria waved her hand. "It's fine Hermione, I'm sure you didn't intend to bring it up." She glared at Draco as a warning about his language, however. Her fiancée gave shrug in reply, smirking.
An elf suddenly materialized in the room, bowing with tremendous effort Hermione's primary concern was that he'd topple over. When the elf finally lifted its face from the floor, she recognized it as one of the Malfoys', having been the one to meet her at the door earlier in the day. "Young master," the elf croaked, addressing Draco who had turned his attention to the elf with a curious glance. "Mistress told Orwell to tell young master that the food preparers have delivered their food." The elf spoke softly, haltingly, and Hermione's heart went out to it.
While Draco looked absolutely mystified by the elf's statement, Astoria had visibly brightened. "The caterers!" she exclaimed with a delighted clap. "This could only mean one thing D, taste testing time." She remarked excitedly to Draco. She looked at Hermione for confirmation, "Right, Hermione?"
Hermione smiled, "Yes, indeed it is. We can discuss the other guests and the entourage further later."
Draco blinked passively. "Well, since you mentioned food, I believe this may be the first step in our preparation process which will truly entice me." He stood up and offered an arm to Astoria. "Shall we?"
Regarding the caterers, Hermione had decided that the best way to work around them without compromising Astoria's identity was that they deliver their samples to the Malfoy Manor, under strict agreement and contracts that they leave immediately upon delivery and return only after the couple had tasted their wares, and would be contacted before then only if Draco and his fiancée had any further inquiries. Assuming they did not have any other inquiries, however, the decision of the engaged couple would be relayed to the chosen caterer. It was pretty much functioned on the same premise as the other weddings, only more tailored to accommodate their circumstances. The same process was going to happen with the cake and the other parts of the planning process that it could be applied to, which was surprisingly, a lot.
But wedding planning wasn't that simple, and dealing with a Malfoy wasn't either.
What on earth would you get when you combined them?
Draco sneezed. "Merlin, Astoria, you could have warned me about the flowers!"
Hermione whirled around in surprise as Astoria and Draco entered the room where the flower arrangements had been delivered for thorough choosing. "Oh, you're here, great!"
Astoria laughed and placed a comforting hand on Draco's arm. "Sorry D, but I thought I told you earlier we were choosing flowers today."
"I didn't realize you were allergic to flowers." Hermione stated with surprise in her voice.
"I'm usually not." Draco gave a shrug and glared around the room where flower arrangements of every variety that could possibly complement their wedding's theme were about.
"I think they're all quite lovely." Astoria beamed as she looked around. "Though of course, the purpose of this is to choose." She giggled.
"That is most certainly too loud." Draco commented flatly, pointing at a piece which used sunflowers (quite frankly it pulled the look off, but definitely wasn't meant for a wedding).
"Too… tame." Astoria remarked as she pointed to another piece.
"Orwell!" Draco called out, and with a crack the aforementioned elf was in the room, bowing so lowly that Hermione was once again genuinely worried about its state of balance.
"Young master called Orwell?"
Draco pointed to the two pieces he and Astoria had pointed out. "Move them across the room, and do the same for the rest that we reject."
Orwell bowed once more, "Yes, young master." and proceeded to levitate the arrangements to where Draco instructed him to put them.
Hermione frowned. "You could have just asked me to do that." She commented.
Astoria looked horrified, "But Hermione, that's not your job."
"True, but I'm capable enough to use magic to move things around, you didn't have to ask Orwell to do it."
"But Orwell likes being ordered to do things." The elf exclaimed with a panicked look towards his master.
Draco stood straight from where he was inspecting a very intricate arrangement and stared at Hermione. "Look, Granger, I know you've got this 'elf rights' thing going on since Hogwarts, but you're really misunderstanding the point of it all. Having not grown up in the Wizarding World, and I intend no offence in pointing that out, your concern is admirable yet misguided. Ordering elves around isn't abusive to them, because they like being bossed around. It only becomes abusive when we hurt or threaten them to do things. I'm sure people have tried explaining that to you countless times, but I can see it hasn't quite gotten through that mess of a hair of yours to your brain yet. Unlike how my father and other people treat their house elves, I did not threaten to or use any harm on Orwell when I asked him to move the flowers. Look, I'm not going to deny how misguided I was when I was growing up, and I have done my share in abusively treating elves before, but I've changed, alright? I treat them properly now. As a house elf, Orwell would have been hysterical if I asked you instead to do his job. Now that can be considered pretty abusive as well. Same idea with trying to set them free by giving them clothes. Do you get it now?"
Hermione looked incredulously at Draco and turned her gaze towards Orwell, who had begun to whimper at the thought of being replaced. Astoria looked on with a thoughtful expression on her face as she realized the reason for Hermione's seemingly outrageous statement.
Draco resumed inspecting the arrangements while Hermione stiffly walked towards the window and silently mulled her thoughts over. She fumed like a child who was just told off by a parent, but she saw the truth in Draco's statement. Admittedly, her perspective may have been limited when she decided to form S.P.E.W., and that may have stopped her from actually listening to the explanations of the people she'd tried to recruit back then.
It annoyed her just the tiniest bit that she had to be told off by Draco Malfoy, of all people.
Her thoughts were interrupted when she felt Orwell tugging at the hem of her coat.
"Orwell appreciates the concern the miss has for other elves and him. But young master speaks truth, elves like serving masters, as long as elves don't get threatened or hurt. Thank you miss."
Astoria looked at Hermione inquiringly and Hermione responded with a muted smile and a nod.
"Thank you, Orwell." She mumbled to the elf as Orwell scrambled to move another one of the vases Draco had indicated with a point of his finger, ignoring Hermione in the process.
Maybe there was a chance the wedding planning would be a fairly decent and peaceful experience after all.
"So, Malfoy, what'll it be?" chirped Hermione, holding up three samples in front of the aforementioned person who reclined on a chair in the room.
Draco lazily opened his eyes. "Granger," he began tersely. "Why do you think should I be interested in what color the table napkins will be?"
Hermione clucked disapprovingly, inspecting the pieces of cloth in her hand. "Now now, Malfoy, this is important. I must have your opinion on this, all three are compatible with the color scheme you have chosen, but whatever you choose out of the three will determine a few important details for the final design."
"When you told an elf to find me and tell me that you'll need my opinion on which to choose out of cream, lemon chiffon, or vanilla, I thought you were talking about the bloody cake."
Hermione gave him a strange look. "Just choose, Malfoy." She said, shoving the samples in front of his face again.
"Why isn't Astoria doing this? Or mother, for that matter, as she seems to be perfectly content poking her nose around my wedding business." Draco grumbled, sniffing disdainfully as he stared at the three seemingly similar colors.
Hermione took a quick (to be honest not so needed) glance at the wedding log. "Because Astoria's choosing her dress in a few minutes, and I actually should be joining her soon. Meanwhile, your mother has gone off to speak with the officiating minister you had decided upon. And seeing as you've already wasted three bloody hours of my time just driving me to exasperation over three simple colors, stop acting like the immature prat that you are for a second and choose!"
Draco waved his hand at her in an offhanded manner. "Oh, for Merlin's sake, just use the light yellow one."
"Lemon chiffon. Seriously, Malfoy, can't you even decide this one properly?"
He mimicked her tone. "Seriously, Granger, can't you stop being so obsessed over the petty details? It's not like people notice them."
Oh he'd done it this time.
Before Hermione could respond with a jibe of her own (and possibly a good verbal thrashing- er, lecture, on the importance of such things), Astoria poked her head in the door with a sheepish smile. "Hermione, I need your help with something."
Hermione nodded stiffly. "Sure." She followed Astoria out of the room, resisting the great urge to slam the door close. Draco smirked as she walked off.
Once they were out of earshot, Astoria turned to Hermione. "The elves told me to get you before the 'young master got sh-shredded to r-r-ribbons'." She said emphatically, even adding a bit of a shiver to indicate the elves' unease.
Hermione shook her head slowly. "I'm sorry, Astoria, I try not to be as immature as I end up acting but your fiancée is just too infuriating for me to deal with sometimes."
Astoria nodded thoughtfully. "I get that you weren't exactly on the best terms with him during the Hogwarts days. Much more because of your… sides during the war, I guess."
"Well, I let that bygone be gone, it's just his attitude in general." Hermione made a face. "No offence to you, of course, I'm sure you have a wonderful taste in men. Or him, specifically. Look at that. I'm even making a hash of my explanation." She cleared her throat.
That made Astoria laugh. She opened the door to the room where the sample dresses had been deposited by the designers. "Really, Hermione, he gets on my nerves sometimes too. Just try not to kill him before we actually get married, alright? He'll be out of your hair soon enough."
The esteemed wedding planner smiled back. "I'll do my best."
"Ugh, Ginny, I can't do it!" Hermione groaned as she slammed the empty cup she'd been drinking tea from on the wooden table at the Burrow. She blinked and found that she was speaking to an empty kitchen.
Molly peeked through the window from where she was degnoming the garden and gave Hermione a sympathetic, "Oh, Hermione dear, I'm sure you'd manage."
"Thanks, Molly." Hermione blinked again. "Where's Ginny?"
"In the bathroom." Came George's voice from the front door and Hermione had to look around a corner to glance at him. "Saw the door of the loo slamming shut a few moments ago. Didn't you notice? She looked quite in a bit of a hurry. Probably hurling out the contents of her stomach again. She's been at it for days. Must've caught a stomach bug or something."
Hermione blanched. "I'm a terrible friend." She stood up quickly and rushed to the door and knocked. "Hey Ginny, you alright?"
"Fantastic." Came Ginny's hoarse voice through the door. "Be with you in a jiffy." She called out.
Hermione leaned her head on the door. "Oh Gin, I feel terrible. I've been too wrapped up in my own problems that I didn't notice you were feeling unwell."
"Oh its fine, 'Mione." Ginny retched. "Though if you could just give us all some context, that would be splendid."
"Us?" Hermione backed away from the door to glance around. Harry and Ron were staring at her from the living room, George had just closed the front door and gave her a look, Molly shook her head with sympathy through the window and Arthur stood frozen by the stairs with a very similar expression on his face. "Oh. Uh. I guess everyone heard that?"
Ron raised a brow. "Yeah. You just barged in here, headed straight for the kitchen where Ginny was, poured yourself a cup of tea and began babbling about your woes, with very vague details, may I add, without so much as a glance at the lot of us. Took us by surprise. So uh, since you only just noticed us now, 'Come on in Hermione, you know you're always welcome in here, here have a cuppa.'"
Harry nudged his best mate. "Ron." He chided, but he was sporting a wider grin than Ron was.
Snickers all around. But they were cut off when they noticed how upset Hermione looked. Ginny opened the bathroom door and leaned on the doorframe. "Hey." She said.
Hermione winced. "What did I say?"
Ginny stepped out of the loo and patted Hermione's shoulder as she made her way back to the kitchen. "All you've said was about a pretty infuriating groom. You did rant about him for quite a while." She explained as she grabbed a glass of water and rinsed her mouth by the sink. "So, what the press has been saying's true then?"
Hermione ran a hand nervously through her hair. "What has the press been saying? How's the situation looking?"
"Pretty bad, I'd say, as they're saying that you've been involved in Malfoy's wedding, one way or the other." George remarked offhandedly as he joined Harry and Ron by the couch.
"Pretty bad? Why? One way or the other? What's that supposed to mean?" the brunette narrowed her eyes as Harry and Ron shared another look.
"Well mate, they've been saying you're planning the wedding." Ron supplied.
"Or that you're the bride." Harry added.
"Or both." Ginny deadpanned.
"Oh come on guys, you know I'm not marrying Malfoy! I would never ever… EVER."
"Yes of course dear, we know that better than anyone. But not all of us know you that well, and they're more likely to believe anything the press says, true or not. In fact, people have been saying how utterly romantic it is for childhood enemies like Draco and you could let the past be just that and start a future together."
"Mum." Ron groaned.
Molly glared. "What? Can't deny myself a gossipy read sometimes! Besides, it's not like I believe them."
Ron turned to Arthur with an incredulous look who just responded to him with a shrug.
"So is it really Malfoy?" Ginny asked curiously.
"Can't really say… But since it's you guys, yes, I am planning his wedding."
Ron let out a whistle. "Whoa. Good luck, Hermione."
Harry nodded solemnly. "Call us at the first sign of trouble."
Hermione was thankful none of her friends even questioned her decision to take on the job. They've always been pretty supportive of her (like when she told them she was planning Millicent and Marcus' wedding, they had made faces at her announcement but clapped her on the back and encouraged her with a few cat-related puns anyway). Even when she didn't deserve it (like the time she ran away), they've always supported her every step of the way. Also, she attributed her friends' change of hearts towards Malfoy with the fact that they've treated each other pretty decently during the masquerade. She knew they still didn't fully trust the guy (it was likely none of them ever would), but they've all changed since the war, and friendships far less likely have been found possible.
"It's been pretty safe so far, just pretty annoying. But, thanks guys. You really are the best friends anyone could ever have."
"Of course." The boys chorused with matching grins as they went back to their game of wizard's chess.
"You could always just hit him in his sorry face just like old times if he gives you trouble." Ginny offered with a grin, making her friend chuckle.
"You're right. Though I'm pretty sure that's not the most professional thing to do."
"What and bullying your wedding planner is?"
Both girls cracked up. "Well then." Hermione gave a shuddering breath. "I'm just going to have to bear with it. Luckily, the real bride's been friendly enough to make this tolerable."
"That's a surprise, Malfoy with a tolerable fiancée." Ginny giggled before her face turned green. She barely made it to the bathroom.
A collective sigh echoed throughout the Burrow.
Hermione was certain the clipboard in her hand would have snapped with the pressure she had been exerting on it. She breathed deeply once, twice.
"What do you mean, Astoria's not here?"
Draco glared at her. "I meant just that, Granger. Seriously, people call you bright?"
"Where is she, Malfoy?"
"She's got an emergency with work. And since you're so obsessed with your job, I'm sure you'd understand. No matter how mundane your job is."
"My job is not mundane." Hermione retaliated through clenched teeth.
Draco just waved his hand dismissively. "Granger, my mother has finally handed over the reins of this wedding to me, and seeing as it's your job to help plan it, I'd say it would be most practical to spend the time actually planning the wedding and not squabbling over it. Now that Astoria's got an emergency, I'm sure you wouldn't be able to do all those salon booking and dress choosing excursions of yours, so what do you say about discussing the guest list and the entourage?"
She gaped at him and immediately closed her mouth. "You're right." She sat down on the seat across him and found the appropriate page on the wedding log.
"Actually, we've been cooped up in the Manor too long while planning this wedding. What do you say we step out today?"
She glanced at him suspiciously, but Draco only seemed passively bored.
"A Muggle café?"
"So what do you think?"
"I think it's marvelous. But why here?"
"Nevermind, I can see this is a very interesting place to be."
They sat down across each other.
And they talked.
Time flew by so fast they didn't realize it was almost evening.
"We have to get back." He said.
There was a hint of disappointment in her eyes, but she nodded.
"Today was a very pleasant experience."
A pause. "Yes, I guess it was."
Author's Note: Let's play a game of "what part of wedding planning do you want to read more about in the next chapter?" I might just get some ideas from your reviews and it's going to be a win-win situation really. So reviews, please! No sneaky peek yet. :))