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Chapter 10: Sob Stories and Changes
That night Hermione, still in distress, was in her bedroom reading a book that she had read a thousand times. She needed something to distract herself, and doing her favorite hobby had definitely done a good job of that. It had done such a good job that Hermione hadn’t heard the incessant tapping that was on her window. She looked up from her reading and saw an owl through the glass.
“Oh, I hope you weren’t out here for too long!” Hermione said apologetically as she opened her window and let the owl inside. She instantly recognized it as Asteria’s owl and groaned. “If I have to fix one more dress for this woman, I swear…”
Hermione took the letter from the owl’s beak, but it didn’t move. A response was needed then, so she quickly scanned the letter and then frowned. She expected a lot of things from Asteria –sarcasm, insulting positive comments, and a lot of other things –but none of it included a letter that was dripping in sadness. She asked if she could come over and talk to her that same night. Hermione didn’t want her to come, but, she couldn’t exactly turn her away. Sighing, she replied that yes it was alright and that she could come right away. Almost an hour later, the fireplace in the living room activated, and Asteria stepped out looking completely distraught.
“Asteria..?” Hermione said hesitantly, completely taken aback. She had never seen her looking like this. She wasn’t even wearing any of her many diamonds or clothes that screamed look at me. “Asteria, what’s wrong?”
She didn’t say anything but just went to sit on the sofa. Now Hermione was worried since this woman never passed up the opportunity to speak. She was subtly hoping that Asteria was so upset because Draco had just broken up with her –which would explain the tears because her ex-fiancé would’ve dropped dead before her eyes.
“I’ve just heard the most distressing news.” She said softly. “My grandfather owled me moments ago. He said that my grandmother is terribly sick. It’s possible that she won’t make it until the summer, which means that she won’t see me get married.”
“Oh, Asteria, I’m so sorry to hear that. But…what can I do that you’ve come to see me?”
“Well, I’ve come to ask you if you think it’d be possible to have the wedding moved up.” Asteria’s eyes brightened as she began to smile. “A Christmas wedding would be just as beautiful as a summer wedding, don’t you think?’
“But that’s next month!” Hermione shouted. She cleared her throat and then spoke again, much softly than before, and added, “Next month, Asteria? That’s awfully soon.”
“I know, I know, but I’d just hate to know that my grandmother couldn’t see me get married. It’s always been her dream before she…you know. I’m sure that it can be done. You’re a wonderful wedding planner, and, luckily for us, all of the clothes have been chosen and the mansion for the wedding has already been bought. The only difficulties would be resending invitations and promptly decorating the mansion. So, what do you say, Miss Granger?”
“I… I…” Hermione was tongue-tied. If she told Asteria no, the woman would promptly ask why not and there’d be no way to argue. If she told Asteria yes, then Draco would be in more trouble than he already was in.
“You’ll be paid extra, of course.” Asteria added. “It’s a lot that I’m asking of you. Draco’s already agreed.”
Asteria nodded enthusiastically and searched throughout the purse she had carried with her and took out a check to hand to her. Hermione took it and nearly fainted at the amount.
“By the look of your eyes, I assume this means that you’ll tackle my wedding at an earlier date?”
Hermione looked up from the check that was in her hands and stared at Asteria, who no longer looked as though she was swimming in a lake of misery.
“Yes, without a doubt.” She told her. “I’ll get started on the invitations tomorrow and then we can talk about how you’d like to have the mansion decorated.”
“If you get money like this, I think that I just might switch careers.”
“It isn’t like this all the time. It’s only with the richest of the rich, and only the top two percent would pay me the way Asteria does.”
“And lucky you, you got to work with the top two.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and sighed with a twinge of a smile. She took back the check from Ginny’s hands and stared at it much like how she had done for most of the night.
“Fifty thousand galleons just for moving up the wedding,” Hermione breathed as she stuffed the check back in her bedroom and then walked back out to Ginny who was sitting on her sofa. “What’s confusing me the most about this is that Asteria said that Draco agreed to pay me this.”
“So?” Ginny asked with a shrug of her shoulders. “What’s wrong with that?”
“It’s Draco, Gin. The penny-pincher that he is wouldn’t agree to this. Especially when he doesn’t want to marry Asteria in the first place,”
“Maybe he’s changed his mind? It’s not like as if you’re willing to ‘help’ him get out of the engagement. He’s probably given up.”
“If there’s one thing I know, he hasn’t given up.”
“…Where are you going?” Ginny asked Hermione as she saw her gather her jacket.
“To the Manor… I have to fix the invitations and discuss a few wedding things with Asteria-”
“And talk to Malfoy while you’re there, I’m sure.”
As expected, Draco was nowhere in sight when Hermione had gotten to Malfoy Manor. She was escorted to see Asteria, discussed with her the ideas for decorations of the mansion that she had bought and began to, singlehandedly, create new invitations and send them out to the respected people. When Asteria saw that she wasn’t needed anymore, she excused herself and left Hermione to her work.
That was the biggest relief of the day. Sure she was doing work for a wedding that had moved up considerably in date and that was a headache in itself with everything that was going on, but somehow she thought that not talking about it and just doing it would make things just one level better. But, of course, something would come to disrupt her temporary serenity.
“What are you doing?” Draco asked her after circling her and her work station for a few seconds.
“What does it look like?” Hermione snapped at him. “I’m fixing invitations.”
“Well, I can see that. But, why, is what I want to know. The bloody invitations have already gone out, haven’t they?”
“Obviously we can’t use the same invitations, Malfoy.”
“Why can’t we? They were fine.”
“Well, if you don’t mind a wedding with no guests, then that’s on you. But then again, you don’t want a wedding anyway, so I guess that’d suit you just fine.”
“What have I told you about saying things like that out loud, Granger?” Draco said harshly as he took a look about him. Once he was sure no one was listening he turned back to her. “And what are you talking about no guests? You’re confusing the hell out of me. I already have a bad enough headache.”
Hermione rolled her eyes and sighed. She set aside the invitations that were already finished and held up one to his face. “There’ll be no guests at your wedding if the date is kept the same, Malfoy. I don’t know what you look so puzzled about. You agreed to this. And why did you?” She asked him suddenly. “I should be the one saying that you’re confusing the hell out of me.”
“Wait, wait, wait, hold on a second. The wedding date is changed?”
“Yes, it’s changed. Why do you look like you didn’t know about it?”
“Because I didn’t..!” Draco argued.
Now, Hermione was staring at him with complete bewilderment.”But you must. Asteria said that you agreed to pay me extra for having the wedding moved up to next month.” She told him, and watched Draco grow red from anger and call Asteria something that rhymed with “witch” and utter a few other choice words. He dropped himself onto the chair that was in front of her and began massaging his temples.
“She tricked me.” He said after a short while. Hermione sat patiently and waited for him to continue. “I was drinking last night and I remember her coming to me. I don’t remember what we talked about, but it had to be about that blasted wedding and changing the date. Obviously I said yes since I’m…-”
“Agreeable, while drunk..?” She finished for him. Draco groaned and nodded. “I couldn’t tell her no. With that story she gave me about her grandmother, you know I wouldn’t have been able to. What are you going to do? You have less time to work with now.”
“Don’t you mean we?” He asked her. “Don’t you mean what are we going to do? That we have less time to work with?”
Hermione bit her lip and gathered all of the finished and unfinished invitations and shrunk them to fit into her bag. She preferred to work on them at home. The longer she stayed in the Manor the worse she felt, and it didn’t help that the source of her problems was sitting across from her and sharply staring at her.
“There aren’t any options left, you know.” He said simply. “You’re the only one left.”
“You already used me as your option, remember?” Hermione said coldly. “It’s not my fault that the room was soundproof!”
“And it’s not my fault that I didn’t realize that it wasn’t.”
Hermione sighed. Now it was her that was massaging her temples for her head had suddenly began to pulse terribly. “…Have you… Have you ever thought about just going through with it?”
“To just go through with it –marry her. There’s nothing in the deal you made with Victoria about not divorcing Asteria after.”
Draco stared at her with his hand under his chin and huffed. “No… No, I didn’t think about that. But what makes you think that Asteria would accept the divorce? As you’ve seen, she’s a very strong woman and knows how to hold onto what she wants.”
“Well, I’m sure you’ll be able to think of a way.” Hermione nodded assuredly, and then left Draco alone as fast as she could. There, it was done. She told him that divorce was an option and therefore it was done. Maybe now he would give up on her and she could walk out of this with her head held up high.
As Hermione headed to the fireplace so she could Floo out, she thought that she heard footsteps behind her. If this is Draco, I swear… She turned around and then swallowed. It was Victoria, and she was wearing a wicked smile on her face that Hermione didn’t like.
“Leaving so soon, Miss Granger?” Victoria said.
“Ah yes…I’ll be finishing the rest of the invitations at home and send them out promptly in the morning.”
“That’s fabulous, but I was wondering if I could have a small word with you before you go?”
Hermione wanted to say no and that she had some matters to attend to as soon as she left, but knew that Victoria would only press upon her to say just for a moment. So, with a sigh, she replied, “Yes,” and dreadfully followed the woman down the corridor she had just come and into an adjacent room.
author's note: wow, so i have to apologize for two things: 1) i havet updated this in just about two months..... 2) this post is a shortie.... so SORRY *apologetic face*
hope you liked it anyway, and i hope to post again before the queue closer, if not, directly after :)