A/N: Many thanks to Muggle Jane and Krissy for looking this over. I really enjoyed writing this chapter, so I hope that you all enjoy reading it! xx
Disclaimer: The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling, Scholastic and WB. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.
Hermione felt herself being shaken awake. Groggily, she opened her eyes. "What?" she murmured sleepily.
"Hermione, it's time to get up," Ginny whispered excitedly. "Today's the day!"
Hermione, who was still half-asleep, pulled the covers up over her head. "Today is Saturday. I want to sleep in." She closed her eyes, intending to go back to sleep.
"Oh, no you don't!" Ginny cried. She tugged on Hermione's blanket, pulling it all the way off the brunette.
Hermione hissed as the cool air hit her body. She bolted upright, quickly rubbing her arms. "Ginny, what the hell!"
Ginny glared at her, putting her hands on her hips much like Molly would do. "We need to go. Today is your wedding, and I'll be damned if you don't look perfect."
Reality hit Hermione like a ton of bricks. For a few precious moments, she had forgotten that she was supposed to get married today. Now, as she remembered, she wished she didn't. She didn't want to get married at all.
"Come on," Ginny said gently. Taking a seat next to Hermione, she wrapped her arms around her shoulders. "Everything will be fine. You'll see."
"Easy for you to say," Hermione grumbled.
"Well," Ginny bristled, "I'll be in your position in two years. As well as hundreds of other girls."
Hermione stared at her hands. "It's not right," she whispered.
"No, it's not. It's low and cruel, but that's what Voldemort does. He'll be stopped soon," Ginny said, conviction in her voice.
"But wizarding marriages are forever," Hermione replied, sounding like a petulant child. "Once we're married, there's no going back."
"Then you'll just have to make the most of it," Ginny replied matter-of-factly. "Sirius is a nice man, Hermione. You could have done much worse."
Hermione sighed. "I suppose you're right." She stood, summoning her robe. "Where am I supposed to get ready?"
"Professor McGonagall's office. Everything is down there already. After that, we'll head to the Room of Requirement."
"And everyone will be there?" she asked, her hands trembling slightly.
"The Order," Ginny replied. "And, um, I think your Mum and Dad."
"Oh gods," Hermione cried, panic appearing on her face. "What are they going to say? How can I possibly even explain this to them?!"
"Shh, relax," Ginny said. "I think Professor McGonagall, Professor Dumbledore, and Sirius are explaining the situation."
Hermione still couldn't calm down, however. It seemed that everything was just happening too fast and she couldn't deal with it.
She stumbled upwards. "I… I can't do this." Without warning, Hermione turn and ran from the girls' dormitory. As she ran through the Common Room, she heard Harry call her name, but she ignored him. She climbed through the portrait hole, rushing into the halls.
Hermione didn't pay any attention to where she was going… she just ran. She ran away from everything that was going on. She couldn't handle it… she wasn't the strong woman everyone thought she was. She was a coward, running from something that scared her.
A pair of arms appeared out of the darkness, grabbing her. Hermione stumbled from the force of it. "What the—"
A hand clapped over her mouth. She felt herself being shoved against the wall.
"Well, well, well," a familiar voice drawled. "What do we have here?"
Hermione's eyes widened in fright. It was Malfoy.
"What are you doing out and about so early?" Malfoy asked, leaning incredibly close to her. "And not in proper uniform either."
Unable to move since he had her pinned against the wall, Hermione watched helpless as he opened her robe. All she was wearing underneath was a tee-shirt and some shorts. While not a particularly revealing outfit, she felt as if she was naked beneath his stare.
"What the hell is going on here?" a deep, booming voice shouted.
Hermione's knees went weak… She had never been so happy to see him in her life.
Sirius stood a few feet away from them, anger written all over his face. He drew his wand, pointing it at Malfoy.
"Release her right now, Malfoy."
Malfoy did as he was told, grinning. "What are you doing here, Black? It isn't quite safe for a condemned convict to be running around a school. An accident may occur."
Sirius was unfazed by Malfoy's words. "Go, now, or else I shall report you to the Headmaster and the Ministry."
"Oh, I'm so afraid," Malfoy mocked. He snorted. "You're idiots, both of you." He gave Hermione a leering glance. "You best accept my offer, Hermione, or you'll regret it."
Hermione trembled, glancing down at the floor. Why did this have to happen to her?
Malfoy turned, storming away. He muttered something about his father under his breath.
Once Malfoy was out of sight, Sirius quickly approached Hermione and took her into his arms. She hugged him back, thankful that he had been there to save the day.
"Are you all right?" Sirius asked, checking her over. "He didn't hurt you, did he?"
Hermione shook her head. "No, he didn't. I'm fine, Sirius."
He took a deep breath. "I was so afraid he was—"
"No," Hermione cut him off. "No… It's fine. I'm fine."
Sirius stared at her. "You don't seem fine," he said softly. "What are you doing out here alone? Shouldn't you, er, be getting ready or something?"
Hermione felt the tears pool in her eyes. "I can't do this, Sirius. I… I just can't."
Sirius was quiet. He had no idea she was so torn up about this. "Hermione," he said gently, reaching out to lay a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"It's not you, Sirius," Hermione continued. "I'm just so young, and all of this is moving too fast." She shook her head. "I know I'm being silly."
"You are not being silly," Sirius immediately countered. "You're being perfectly reasonable. I know it seems like your life is over, Hermione, but it's not." He paused. "I know I'm not your first choice, but I'll do my best to make you happy, Hermione. I promise."
She looked up at him. "Thank you."
He smiled at her. "You know, your Mum is waiting for you at Professor McGonagall's office."
Hermione's eyes widened. "Oh my, is she really?"
Sirius nodded. "She was… most accepting of situation," he answered cautiously. "She doesn't really understand, but she did her best. When I told her about Malfoy, she seemed quite pleased that I was willing to 'do right by my daughter' as she put it."
Hermione bit her lip. At least her Mum wouldn't be as much as a problem as she had thought. "And Dad?" she asked.
Sirius let out a laugh. "Well, he wasn't too happy. But, I, er, well, fixed things, I supposed. He let it all out, and we'll just move on."
Hermione looked at him questioningly. "He didn't put up a fight?" she asked, shocked that her father didn't cause a scene.
"Oh, he fought me all right." Sirius laughed once more.
Her eyes widened. "He didn't actually hit you, did he?"
"He did," Sirius said cockily, as if he was proud of the whole thing. "I'm wearing a glamour now, but I think I might get rid of it so everyone can see it at the wedding. I think it would be him feel better."
"Oh, Sirius," Hermione exclaimed. "I'm so sorry my Dad hit you."
He shook his head. "There's no need to apologize, Hermione." He gave her a small smile. "I deserve it, in a way. I mean, I am marrying their daughter, who is far too young."
Hermione gave him a glare. "You know, if you want this to work, you shouldn't say things like that."
Sirius shrugged. "It's true, but anyways, your father punching me made me feel better about this whole situation."
Hermione gaped at him.
"It's twisted, I know. But anyways, we should get you down to Minerva's office. You need to get ready, because I've heard you've got a hot date shortly." He winked at her.
Blushing, Hermione nodded. "All right," she conceded. "Will you, um, walk me down there? Just in case Malfoy is lurking around."
"Of course," Sirius said, giving an extravagant bow. "It would be my honor to escort such a beautiful woman to her destination."
She couldn't help but chuckle. Maybe things would turn out all right. Sirius offered his arm, which she graciously accepted.
The two of them walked along the hallways in silence. "You know," Hermione began, "it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding."
Sirius chuckled. "What can I say; I just couldn't stay away from such a beautiful woman."
She blushed. "Do you really think that?" she asked. Sirius looked at her blankly. "That I'm beautiful?"
After a second, Sirius nodded. "You are very beautiful, Hermione. Your eyes are breathtaking."
"But they're brown," she countered. "They look like mud."
Sirius shrugged. "Then it's the most attractive mud I've ever seen."
Hermione smiled. "I'm glad I got to see you this morning. It's made me feel better about a lot of things."
"Me too, to be honest," he replied. "Well, here we are." He opened the door to Minerva's office. Stepping inside, they were greeted with a large cacophony of voices.
"Thank Merlin you found her!"
"Oh, Hermione, why did you run off like that?"
But one voice stood out above the rest.
"Oh, sweetheart." It was her mother. Hermione propelled herself forward, slamming into her mother's open arms. She sobbed as she clung to her mother, inhaling her familiar scent.
Sirius, seeing that his work was done, slipped out of the room.
"Oh, baby, shhh," Nancy Granger consoled her daughter. "It'll be okay."
"Mum," Hermione sobbed. "I wanted to write you, but I didn't know what to say!"
"Shhh, it's all right," Nancy said. "Stop crying, dear. I'm here now and everything will be okay, you'll see."
Sniffling, she looked up. "You think so?"
Nancy nodded. "He seems like a nice man, Hermione. And as much as I don't like the situation, I am glad someone who doesn't mean you ill has agreed to marry you."
"I was so afraid you'd be angry," Hermione whispered.
"I could never be angry with you." She placed a hand on her daughter's cheek. "I'm mad at the situation, yes, but never you."
Hermione wrapped her arms around her mother, hugging her tightly. "I'm so glad you're here."
"Me too," Nancy replied. "But why don't we get you ready?"
Hermione nodded. She could do this. She had the love and support of so many people. It would be hard, but she would make it.