Draco stood at the altar alone.
It wasn’t strange, of course. He was meant to until the right time, yet even his knowledge of wedding ceremonies, wizarding and muggle, didn’t ease the turning of his stomach. He was almost certain he had never been so terrified and unsure. To think this would be scarier than facing Voldemort during the war or failing was either underestimating the terror of his teenage years or overestimating the importance of this moment.
Surely. He was either losing his mind or had already lost it to be thinking about this. It would be fine. It would all be fine, but the scar on his left arm itched like hell, almost burning now as it had every day since he’d asked her. He thought it would ease when she’d given her answer, thought that it would go away finally when today came, yet it wasn’t.
The bit of darkness still left in it was beating at his skin like one last scare tactic of that madman that had been dead for years.
What if she didn’t come? What if everything fell apart?
“She’ll come, Draco,” Blaise, his best man, and only groomsman, whispered, just loud enough for it to reach Draco and no one else.
It had meant a lot that he was there to calm him down and keep him from devolving into outright panic. He had never imagined that it would be Blaise among all of their friends that would be here with him for this at the end.
He never imagined that Blaise would be the only person to represent his life either. As he looked out onto his empty side of the hall, he didn’t even feel a twinge of anger or pain. Every other invitation he’d sent had come back unopened, he was sure though he hadn’t checked. After the first ten, he just stopped counting and let the tally accumulate on the enchanted parchment Hermione had created to help plan the wedding.
Shunned and shamed, just a normal Ministry employee, a researcher for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement dealing with the misuse of potions and botanicals, he was a Malfoy in name only. People at work still looked at him with all the disgust owed to him for his and his family’s participation in the war. He’d gone from having the world on his side, even after the war, to having no one but Blaise, Blaise’s wife, and Hermione.
Andromeda, Teddy, and Harry are on your side, Hermione had told him once with that kind smile that always managed to soothe him.
Andromeda, maybe, she was his aunt and their relationship had gone a long way to becoming something more familial even before he’d cut himself free of the Malfoy family. Teddy was a child and didn’t know much except the fact that Draco made funny faces when he pulled on his hair and nose.
But Harry was on her side, and Draco wouldn’t have it any other way given the war and their school days. Hermione always rolled her eyes when he pointed out that he and the Golden-Boy-Who-Lived-Twice were not exactly on good terms. They weren’t at each other’s throats all the time these days. They even managed cordiality and a decent working relationship, but they certainly weren’t best mates.
At least you won’t look like a fool when she leaves you, Draco consoled himself.
Hermione and her mysterious, wizarding, fairy godmother that was somewhere in the crowd with her mysterious, wizarding fairy godfather had chosen his dress robes from the finest dress robes shop in France. His mother would have been proud and impressed by the woman’s taste.
He didn’t know how much they cost exactly, but he knew it had been more than Hermione had been willing to spend on anything. He would have to thank her and her husband for taking on the role that his parents hadn’t deigned to take.
Don’t think about it, Draco, he thought. They just have to deal with missing their son’s wedding. It has nothing to do with you.
He smoothed his robes with a bit of a smile on his lips. He had been extraordinarily pleased when they’d arrived because of how closely they resembled a tuxedo and nodded to several pureblood traditions in the placement of his family colors on his cloak and the traditional buttons and ties forming a straight line just to the left of his centerline. It was a happy medium between the only photo he’d ever seen of his parents’ wedding and everything he’d liked about Hermione’s father’s attire at her parents’ wedding.
He hoped that it had made her happy and that was why she chose them, or at least her fairy godmother had strong-armed her into it without too much trouble. With their marriage, they were bridging the wizarding world with her non-magical heritage, her world and his to create the world they would live in and raise their children in.
If she still comes.
On the other side of the hall were all the people that she’d touched in their short lives save the one who would be walking her down the aisle. He recognized a few faces in the crowd from the Ministry and their days at Hogwarts and was sure that they were thinking along the same lines as they filled the room.
How had he’d gone from getting punched in the face in third year to waiting at the altar for her?
Her hair had been wild in the spring Scottish wind, her eyes bright with fury, You foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach!
He smiled at the memory. It had been a misunderstanding, but he enjoyed seeing her riled and had simply egged her on like a stupid boy who didn’t know how to do anything but the pull pigtails of a girl he thought was pretty.
Merlin, he’d always thought she was pretty, from her rich brown skin to the end of the most unruly section of her curls, even when her teeth were a bit too big for her mouth. He would have never admitted it aloud or even to himself until after the war. He was ever grateful that he’d dropped all pretenses and apologized, hoping that now that they were colleagues and worked together rather often, they could come to terms. She was the head researcher for the Auror Corp without specialization, his superior in some ways, and he didn’t truly want to have any grudges still between them. Besides, her testimony had gotten him and his family out of an extended stay at Azkaban or the Dementor’s Kiss.
She only smiled and declared that they should start with a clean slate.
It had been one complex case that had brought them together on friendly terms. From there it had spiraled into calling on one another for a second opinion and lunch debates on aspects of cases, politics, literature, and whatever they wanted to talk about. Before he realized it he’d asked her out properly– pureblood courting traditions and all– and she’d said yes.
He’d never dated anyone who enthralled him the way Hermione did. How could he be surprised that his heart was thudding against his breastbone and every cell of his body was nervous?
Merlin, if she didn’t come he didn’t know what he would do. Surely, she was going to come. Surely, he wasn’t the only one who had been so deep in this, who had given everything he had to give for the future they might have together.
But what do you have to offer her now? Draco clenched his jaw at the thought and refused to press on the burning in his arm. A Ministry employee’s salary and an old house on Spinner’s End?
In the face of all that she was, he had nothing. He couldn’t breathe, and he felt Blaise put a hand on his shoulder, keeping him from flying away in his panic.
“Breathe, Draco,” he said, low and careful. “The guests aren’t even fully seated.”
He scoffed the way he always did when Draco was lying and they both knew it. He thanked his constellation that of everyone that he’d wanted to come, Blaise was there to keep him together.
The Weasleys had come to his surprise. Even Ronald who looked about ready to hex him as he was to leave. Molly looked no better, but Arthur sat looking up at the altar with a pleasant smile. Ginny sat among them looking as though it was physically painful to be there. Luna, Blaise’s wife, served as Hermione’s maid of honor and only bridesmaid. It seemed that half the magical world had shown up to watch their wedding. As people continued to file in, he watched Hermione’s side fill up quickly and people grimace at the thought of sitting on Draco’s side.
They weren’t here to watch Hermione and Draco get married. They were here to watch the Golden Girl, the Brightest Witch Of Her Age, the Brains Of The Golden Duo, marry a disowned Slytherin Death Eater.
He swallowed the jolt of pain that went through him at the thought. Would that thought ever cease to come to him? Would they one day be old with grown children, at their children’s wedding, perhaps, and he would still be waiting for her to leave him?
He shuddered at the thought, She’ll come, Draco. Don’t be such a coward.
Finally, the last of the seats beneath the large tent was taken except the two sets ornately sectioned off seats in the front row of either side.
The two seats on her side bore the Gryffindor crest on the backrests and twined in red and gold ribbons were for her parents as he suspected the other two were for his parents who had made it abundantly clear that they wouldn’t be coming from their last conversation and the lack of reply. More people stood in the back and on the edges waiting for the ceremony to begin. They were all there to see it, to watch the spectacle, the final blow of the war delivered by Draco Malfoy.
They weren’t the first marriage after the war was over. Hell, it had been over for years, but Hermione would be the first of the Golden Trio to be married after the war and the most high profile given his and his family’s position during the war and in the news over the last few years.
Draco Malfoy: Disowned?
The headline still made him shudder even though he was impressed that the Daily Prophet had gotten all of the details right for a change.
Suddenly, the music began, and Draco prepared to apparate out of shame and dare Blaise to try talking him out of jumping wandless off a bridge or running back to Malfoy Manor to marry whatever woman his parents deemed appropriate, beaten down and wounded. He’d drink himself to death within a week and leave the world without ever giving his parents what they wanted from him.
Here it is.
She isn’t coming.
Merlin, she’s absconded off with Potter for another adventure or wors– to laugh.
She’s going to leave me standing here with all of her guests.
Sweet Merlin, she’s going to back out.
It seemed that every breath, every hour, and every heartbeat had come to this after the war. He couldn’t breathe even though he heard Blaise behind him, talking to him softly.
The pressure in his chest built and built until a little gasp escaped him. He heard nothing, saw nothing but the shadows moving towards the opening of the tent as every fear and doubt he’d had leading up to this moment vanished.
She was coming.
The pair walked down the path at a practiced and comfortable pace. Harry’s unruly hair and his terrible glasses didn’t seem so terrible, or maybe Draco hardly noticed it beside the much smaller silhouette beside him.
The woman that time had brought him despite all of his mistakes.
The woman who would be his wife.
People turned around, maybe as shocked as he was to see her in a wedding gown that was decidedly a mix between non-wizarding and wizarding. Delicate golden lace set a glow in her deep brown skin across her shoulders, down her arms and across the bodice of the dress that was fitted to her body and sprinkled with scattered flecks of gold. A trail of gold flecks curved around the fabric around her hips and disappeared behind her. Something golden twined through her hair caught the soft evening light as the setting sun set a warm golden-red glow in the elegant knot and cascading curls down her back.
She wore no veil but a gossamer cloak of Gryffindor red and gold fluttered off her shoulders. His cloak had tasteful touches of green alongside its black at her insistence that they use, at least, the traditions he knew about and she could confirm with her fairy godmother. He smiled at the touches that would have made his mother proud in their understated elegance and subtlety. The light made the white, red, and gold sing, and with its song, his anxiety eased, replaced with a different sort of breathlessness as they came towards him.
She was beautiful.
Every heartbeat brought her one step closer to him and their future. He heard nothing beyond the sound of that future and thought he’d waited at least a thousand years for this day.
“Dio,” Blaise gasped behind him.
“Shove off, Zabini,” Draco whispered back, “You’re already married.”
Blaise chuckled as they grew close enough that he could see that mischievous little smirk on her face. He had never wanted so badly to kiss her as he did at the moment, even when they argued about the merits of dried and fresh wolfsbane in various potions paled in comparison to this. Harry stopped before him, his green eyes glittering in his light brown face as Draco extended his hand to her. Harry didn’t let her go, and she looked at Harry with a question in her eyes.
Draco glowered at him, “Shove off, Potter.”
Hermione laughed, “Be nice, Draco.”
“Malfoy,” Harry began. They met each other’s gaze, “I’ll kill you, and no one will care.”
Draco’s lips twitched as Hermione hissed at Harry, “Harry.”
“You’d have to beat me to it.”
Her head whipped back to him, “Draco.”
Harry nodded, seemingly satisfied. He kissed Hermione’s cheek and released her hand to go take his seat in the front row on her side in front of the Weasleys as Draco took Hermione’s hand and helped her onto the altar beside him.
“You will not mention such things again,” she said with a displeased tilt to her lips, “It is not a joke.”
He knew why she was so displeased, but he understood even more why he had to tell Harry the truth. She had nearly lost Harry to the bridge leading into Hogwarts several times over their career at Hogwarts, and Blaise had stopped him forcefully more than once to plummeting down the same height on more than one occasion.
“You’re beautiful,” he said, breathless as they looked up at Kingsley together.
She sighed and smiled at him, “You clean up pretty well yourself.”
Kingsley smiled and began to officiate the ceremony, but Draco couldn’t hear a thing he was saying and it didn’t matter until they turned towards one another and Kingsley called for any protests from the audience. He wondered who had been forcibly silenced and stuck to their seats, but he heard nothing. Hermione didn’t look away from him to check either. Seeing her smile and the almost bashful look she gave him was enough to make him smile and his heart race at the prospect of forever with her growing more tangible by the moment.
He felt his face burning as hot as the magic in his chest wanting to claim her as his own but forced it down. Draco forced himself to be patient. He had waited his entire life for this and they were just moments away from the moment that would mark the rest of their lives together.
He could wait.
“You may now kiss the bride.”
He’d thought a long time about how he wanted their first kiss as wife and husband to go. Passion came to mind but didn’t feel right. Out of all the options, he supposed it was his deeply buried romantic side that made it so that Draco found himself cupping her cheek, maybe more intimately than she expected because her eyes widened.
“I love you,” he whispered and kissed her, his fingers just barely digging into her hair as he took her mouth the way he’d been too nervous to do for weeks.
He heard clapping and catcalls from the audience, and Teddy’s shriek of joy from somewhere in the crowd. The night was filled with the sounds, but his world was filled with her. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he wrapped his arms around her and lifted her from the ground. Tasting the freshness of mint on her tongue along with the ease of the rest of their lives, Draco’s heart felt like it was made of lights and everything was perfect.
As they pulled apart, just far enough to press their foreheads together, she laughed and looked into his eyes. The bits of her cloak he could see had replaced that brilliant red with his family’s deep green and he suspected that his cloak had traded Malfoy green for Gryffindor red.
“I love you,” she said.
Unable to resist, he kissed her nose, “So… that means I get to see what’s under these robes?”
“Draco,” she hissed at him as he laughed and hugged her close, sighing into her shoulder. She chuckled, “How many people expected me to leave you at the altar?”
“Probably the whole group plus one.”
She froze in his arms, turning her head, “What?”
“I can’t say that I would have blamed you. Merlin knows I would have deserved–”
She pressed a finger to his lips, “Those were the last doubts you were allowed to have about whether or not I want you, husband. Understand? We have a very long life to live together from here on, and I won’t have you wondering for the rest of our lives.”
His lips twitched and he kissed her finger, “Promise.”
They walked back down the aisle through the cheering group followed by Blaise and Luna. Then, the space transfigured itself for the reception. He knew they didn’t get the tent that came with the sort of spells that were being enacted so he could only guess that Hermione had laid the groundwork while he wasn’t paying attention as very few people had been willing to help set up.
He nodded at old professors, hugged Teddy and Andromeda, and sat through the speeches. To his surprise, Blaise’s speech was thoughtful and sincere. He would even go as far as to call it tasteful. He couldn’t do much else but hug his best man even if it was only because Draco’s speech had been brilliant at the man’s very lively wedding on the Zabini Estate.
Harry’s speech had been better than he anticipated as well. Funnier in place and with far fewer threats than he imagined. Draco didn’t get every joke, but he got enough and was forced to let her go and hug him when he was done, pose for pictures, and laugh.
Their first dance was a waltz in the center of the floor, and Harry held her close and let her cry softly into his shoulder as he led her through the father-daughter dance. Eventually, the tears stopped, and she looked ready to lay the memory of her parents to rest. As she said, they wouldn’t want her sobbing for their absence on her wedding day.
The first song Hermione played from her stereo was the first song that played at her parents’ wedding if he remembered correctly, an old pop song from their younger years. It was completely foreign to him and the rest of the wizarding community, but no one said a thing.
But my life is incomplete and I’m so blue
‘Cause I, ooh, I can’t get next to you.
I can’t get next to you, babe.
The bittersweetness of what the song meant was quickly lost as he joined his wife on the dance floor for the next song. He would lay the thoughts of his parents to rest because they didn’t deserve a moment of his happiness if they weren’t willing to understand him and accept that he’d found happiness outside of their small world.
He danced with Hermione, Harry, and anyone else who wanted to join them to a rhythm that would have never existed in the wizarding world. It was fast, fun, and sensual. He recognized it from the first time she took him on a tour of a club that served people from both sides of the statute of secrecy. It had been racy and sexy then, but they maintained a sense of decency at the reception which was more than he could say about his and Hermione’s comportment at the club. He’d had so much fun that they made it a point to go regularly as she loved to dance and he loved to let her teach him every unrefined way of movement she wanted.
Harry stole Hermione for a dance sometime in the middle after she’d danced with Teddy. Andromeda took her grandson’s hand on the dancefloor leaving Draco alone. He went to get Hermione a drink and ran into Ronald who was already half-drunk.
“Malfoy,” he spat out, “Don’t imagine that you have me fooled.”
There were a million things that he could have said, but he turned his gaze to where Hermione and Harry were dancing some dance he’d never seen before and seemed to be special to them. Ever since they went overseas to find people who could potentially be related to Harry, they had a new light in their relationship that had made Draco jealous if only because he didn’t speak Spanish or Portuguese. The Alfareros were nice people, though, and they had been more than willing to help them set up for the wedding. He saw Harry’s distant cousin and her husband joining Harry and Hermione on the dance floor with a spirited laugh in a quick dance that looked more like they were sashaying, fighting with their feet, and stirring up the air with their hips.
Bachata? Meringue? Salsa? He couldn’t remember, but it hardly mattered.
He imagined one day having a special dance with her and being able to speak to her in every language she spoke, to know what the little curses she uttered meant without having to ask. He imagined fixing up the house at Spinner’s End and maybe renting it out when they outgrew the house or growing old in the house that his godfather left him because he knew the path that Draco would take. He imagined having children with their combined wit, his ruthlessness, her cunning, their love of books, his penchant for flying, and her thick curls in his platinum blonde.
He imagined eventually having to add a room to the house to be their library because their children needed bedrooms. He imagined the years before them and sending their kids off to Hogwarts together.
He imagined this feeling in his chest for the rest of his life and filling their home on Spinner’s End.
Ronald wasn’t worth ruining the happiest day of his life.
No, he wasn’t worth a moment more of his time.
“Enjoy the firewhiskey, Weasley.”
Ronald’s jaw dropped as if he’d been slapped in the face, and he crossed the dance floor to his wife as Harry spun her out and around to the sensual rhythm of the song.
“May I cut in?”
Harry laughed and spun her into his arms, “Gladly, Malfoy. Just remember that I need her back,”
He smirked, “I’ll think about it, Head Auror Potter. Your drink, love.”
She lifted the glass from his hand and drank, leaning into him, “Not done dancing yet.”
“I know,” he chuckled, “I’ve partied with you.”
She grinned, her eyes bright and her curls breaking free from the delicate golden wreath in her hair. They danced together for hours it seemed. Harry snagged his date from his seat with a laugh. Not too far away Luna and Blaise were dancing. He thought that if he could have this for the rest of his life, he wouldn’t mind.
An unnerving stillness filled the air, and before he could think, his wand was out and pointed at the source of the disturbance that came through the tent. Hermione was just a hair faster encapsulating the two just as they entered. Harry had a shield up between the entrance and the rest of the party as everyone gasped. With a gasp of shock, Draco realized that the two who had been caught were his parents.
Hermione didn’t lower her wand, neither did Harry as Draco stared at them confused at their appearance. They were dressed appropriately for a wedding. More importantly, they were here at his wedding as if they expected to slip in unnoticed or had just come back from the loo. Narcissa looked embarrassed and slightly horrified, but Lucius remained silent and cool.
“I would have thought we taught you better, Draco,” Lucius said somehow sounding only slightly disgusted, “Pointing your wand at guests.”
“You taught me a lot of things,” Draco said wryly, lowering his wand, “Strange to see you ignoring all of the tenants of etiquette now.”
Narcissa’s eyes widened, and she lowered her eyes ashamed before meeting his gaze.
“My formal apologies,” she said, “However, it was–”
“Hard for you?” Draco cut in, “Hard for him?”
Narcissa shut her mouth and lowered her head in the picture of despair as Lucius looked at him, “You have made your point, Draco. Your mother and I would like you to come home.”
“I am,” Draco said, stepping closer to Hermione and taking her by the waist, “If that is all you have to say, you can leave.”
“I don’t,” Draco said and turned to the rest of the constituents, “Forgive the scare, everything is fine. The Malfoys were simply curious.”
Though he said it, Harry didn’t remove the ward. After a moment, Hermione took Draco’s hand and approached the barrier she’d erected. He watched his mother tense up and her eyes widen as Lucius tried to hide the anxiety in his eyes.
His anger was understandable, but Hermione’s anger would be well and truly justified. He wondered what would happen to his parents when she kicked them out. He had a feeling he knew what she was going to say and hoped that her dismissal wouldn’t hit his mother too hard.
Mercy, a part of him sneered, They don’t deserve it.
In all his thoughts and the tense moments leading up to Hermione stopping in front of them, he had never guessed that she would dissolve the wards that she and Harry had erected. Harry sputtered behind them in shock, and Draco’s eyes widened. At that point, he was at a loss for what she could be ready to say.
“Lord and Lady Malfoy,” she said, “You did not need to hide your presence at the ceremony, nor earlier in the reception.”
Draco whipped his head to look at Hermione in shock. Narcissa’s eyes widened, and Lucius looked as though he’d been slapped. At least, he wasn’t the only person who had been shocked at her words.
Draco squeezed her hand, “What are you talking about, love?”
Hermione squeezed back, “However, I am glad that you found your seats easily enough. I hope they were comfortable.”
Lucius’ eyes widened as Narcissa’s mouth opened to stutter. He looked between his wife and his parents unable to figure out what was happening.
Seats? he thought and frowned, thinking back to the front row on his side and the two seats with the Malfoy crest emblazoned on the backrests. He thought it had been a sweet gesture, but had never guessed that his parents had been there the entire time let alone at the reception.
“Draco loves you both, and as I love him, I have to keep him from doing things that may keep you separated for the rest of our lives. You are welcome here without reservations or conditions,” she gestured to the party and to the table that had been subtly left empty, draped in that same silver that his half of the chairs had been draped in. The two chairs at the table had discreet emerald and black ribbons tied in the same manner as the ribbons on the seats during the ceremony as well as the Malfoy crest on the backrests. Two other chairs were there dressed in red and gold with the Gryffindor crest on the backrests, and there were, of course, two more chairs. One was decorated with emerald and gold and the other was decorated in red and black, “Your table, should you choose to return to it. Help yourselves to whatever you like.”
Draco had never been more turned on in his life, and he was itching to scoop her up and apparate away to anywhere else to snog her senseless and ask her a million and three questions. She looked at Draco then to Harry who signaled the aurors in the room to relax. Hermione took his hands and pulled him back towards the dancefloor. With a wave of her hand, the music turned back up, and at her lead, the party continued.
He felt them watching, felt them standing in the entranceway of the tent, but he hadn’t expected the relief that came when they crossed the room to the table Hermione gestured to and sat down. They acquired themselves at least a glass of wine and settled in to watch the festivities quietly.
“How did you know that they would come?” Draco asked, “How did you know they were there, and what is this about customs?”
“No matter what reservations they have against our relationship, you are their only son. Besides, they were the only people you sent a letter to that didn’t even send it back unopened. Clearly, they had been arguing about it. From the way you spoke about your mother and father, it was a safe bet that she would demand to come and your father would try to save face. I warded the seats in accordance with pureblood marriage traditions and the invitations of course.”
Draco frowned, “What? When was that a tradition?”
Hermione only grinned, “Maybe some other time, darling, or maybe, you’ll ask your mother. I certainly asked her a lot of questions.”
“You were keeping track?” he froze, “You’ve spoken to my mother?”
“Of course,” she laughed. “Who else could I ask about pureblood wedding traditions except for a pureblood? Arthur’s family never adhered to them, but I knew yours did.”
“H-How… What? How did they even get past security? How did you speak to my mother without her knowing, you little minx?”
Hermione laughed again, “I’ve had the tent warded so everyone could be guests not security for weeks including letting your parents in undetected if they wished. It was likely they’d want to be present for at least part of the festivities… I can only imagine that your mother demanded that they come back and show themselves properly. And in short, I ran into her in Diagon Alley.”
He stared at her meaningfully until she began to explain.