A/N: Remember when I said that fluffy fics were coming up? Here's my first romance/flangst (fluff & angst) multi-chapter for this pairing. If anyone recognises this from the smutty clause fest two years ago, you're right! I'm simply re-vamping my one-shot and fleshing it out more. Not sure how many chapters yet, but after the prologue I'm going to make sure that the chapters are pretty substantial.
I've always wanted to use this premise for Harry/Hermione, as ridiculous as it is.
I'll try to update the fic once a week.
Hermione hadn't expected things to go the way it did. Had she been told about her impending decision, she would have expected to fight it until her last breath, never giving in to those who tried to force her hand and standing defiant until the last moment.
But, that had been nearly two years ago.
Hermione blinked rapidly at the image that greeted her. Her mother was sobbing so violently that her cheeks were shining with happy tears and her father kept slapping the shoulders of any man he met, drink in hand and a wide smile on his lips. She couldn't help but wonder how they could not have noticed the mood she had been in the past few weeks; the girl who was barely twenty one who was forced to marry against her will. The initiation of the Marriage Law had first made her laugh at the ridiculousness it portrayed, but the laughter stopped when a grumpy Ministry owl dropped the dreaded letter on her desk before disappearing almost immediately, the Howler letting anyone within fifteen feet know that she was the recent victim of the ill-conceived law. She didn't care that it had a one hundred percent success rate, she didn't care that anyone who had been drafted and paired were the happiest that she had ever seen them; Hermione considered herself old-fashioned, and as such rather preferred choosing a husband by herself. Naturally, Hermione ignored that first summons. She then ignored the second, then the third, then the fourth, until the Minister himself paid her a visit. Letting her true thoughts be known, she stayed resolutely stubborn, even after Kingsley mentioned that all partners were chosen by a specially brewed potion that found a person's soul mate.
After a moment of staring at the Minister in surprise, Hermione had let out a loud laugh. Love was a chemical in the brain based on attraction and mutual interests, surely a potion could not decide who it was that a person was meant to spend their whole lives with. There was a potion for luck and there was a potion for infatuation, but since love cannot be truly created, she believed that the potion that had been created for this unique purpose was bogus. She continued to call it ridiculous even after Kingsley told her who her soul mate was. Hermione had to clutch her stomach to stop herself from laughing so hard.
A presence behind her made her close the flap of the tent quickly. "I thought the bride should be hidden until she walks down the aisle."
Raising an eyebrow mockingly, she turned to face her best friend. "A bride can do anything she wants on her wedding day."
His smirk was a cheeky one. "I should go ask Mrs Weasley if that is true."
Panicking, Hermione grabbed onto Harry's sleeve to hold him still. "Oh no you don't. You are not going anywhere near her, Harry Potter. She's stifling me! She didn't even let me drink anything," Hermione said with a whine.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Apparently it's bad luck for a bride to use the loo while she is in her wedding robes before she is actually married." She could tell that Harry was finding her predicament very amusing. "Don't laugh," she said in a stern tone, promising to hurt him with her voice alone. Unfortunately for her, that only made him let out a happy chuckle. Narrowing her eyes at him, she shoved his chest in dismissal, raising her head in defiance. "Fine. Go tell Mrs Weasley. Then she'll have to handle a runaway bride." Raising her skirts, she turned to leave when he grabbed her arm.
"Okay, okay," he said with a laugh. "I'm sorry."
Hermione couldn't help but let her stern look dissolve into an amused expression before the mask she had tried to carefully construct began to slip away.
Harry frowned. "You okay?"
Shaking her head, Hermione moved away from the large tent that had been raised in the backyard of the Burrow, choosing to lean heavily against a tree and not caring that Ginny and Mrs Weasley would have a fit if they saw even one small wrinkle on her pristine robes. "Not that great." She sighed, shoving curls that had been painstakingly placed to fall against her cheek, behind her ear. "I have this friend who happens to be in a predicament."
"Let me guess," said Harry as he stepped closer to her while shoving his hands in the pockets of his dress robes casually. "She's getting married."
She looked at him with earnest. "How can a marriage work when it's been forced like this? Shouldn't there be attraction? Shouldn't there be a mutual agreement by both parties to get married? And why do we need to get married now, while we're so young? Why can't we get married when we're forty, or sixty or-"
"A hundred and seventy years old?" Harry piped in helpfully.
"Yes! That is definitely the perfect age to get married." Sighing, she buried her face in her hands and let out a loud moan. "I can't do this."
"You can," he said gently. "After today life will go back to normal." He grabbed her arm lightly, his eyes sparkling with humour. "Your friend will be fine."
A small smile tugged reluctantly on her lips. "Shouldn't you be going? The wedding is about to start."
Harry looked over his shoulder at the tent that was bustling with activity while everyone took their places. "You won't run away, then?"
She shook her head. "Look for me while you're in there. I will be the one in the ridiculously large white robes walking down the aisle."
His chuckle was affectionate. "And I will be the one at the other end of the aisle waiting patiently for the one in the white robes to bolt."
Her laugh was small before she took his hand in hers and lightly squeezed it in thanks. "I'm sorry it had to end this way."
Harry shrugged. "I'm going to marry my best friend. What could be better?" He leant forward and lightly pecked her cheek before sending her a mock salute and returning to the tent. Hermione wasn't deceived. The smile he had sent her hadn't reached his eyes and his shoulders were slumped as he walked away. It was obvious to everyone that both she and Harry never wanted this. But it was the law and they were both reluctant to take the second choice given which was unemployment. They loved their jobs too much, and the fact that they were both tied to the Ministry, Harry as an Auror and Hermione as a defender for the rights of innocent creatures, was a happy coincidence that the Ministry chose to exploit.
Knowing that the Weasley women were probably frantically looking for her, Hermione pushed herself away from the tree and started forward. In less than an hour she was going to be Mrs Harry James Potter. She might as well get used to it.