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Chapter 15 : Before the Clock Strikes Nine
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Dumbledore stood before the selected few whom he had gathered to his study. There was important news on Hermione’s condition and he felt that it needed to be shared with the important few who knew the details of Hermione’s assignment. Harry, Ron, Remus, Tonks and the entire Weasley mob were assembled in Dumbledore’s office looking quite nervous.
“There has been a further development with Hermione’s position inside the manor . . .” he began. Everyone’s eyes were on him and their unwavering attention was fixed. “It appears . . . it . . .” he didn’t know how to say it delicately. Everyone in this room loved Hermione in one way or another. How could he tell them that her life was about to change forever and that it was all because of his stupid mission that was failing miserably at this very moment. Hermione hadn’t picked up any information of significance since her arrival in the manor.
“What is it Albus?” asked Molly with fear quaking in her voice. A single tear slid down his face as he prepared himself for the terrible news that he was about to tell them all.
“Hermione is to marry in a day’s time.” A chorus of gasps went around the room.
“Who!? Who is she going to marry!?” demanded Ron. Harry was clutching his arm bracingly. Dumbledore knew that Ron would be the hardest to accept this. He had had feelings for Hermione for as long as he had known.
“Draco Malfoy.” stated Dumbledore sombrely. And that was only half of the information. Ron’s face grew red with anger, sadness and a whole lot of mixed emotions.
“WHY?! Why is she marrying him?! She doesn’t . . . does she . . . love, him?” he asked, his voice lowering to a whisper.
“No Mr Weasley, far from it. She hates him with all she’s worth and she’s not happy about the marriage either, but because of her devotion to Voldemort she has agreed to do it.”
“But Albus, what could be the cause of this? What could really be achieved from the two of them marrying?” asked Weasley senior inquiringly. Dumbledore sighed.
“The two of them are to produce an heir to follow in Voldemort’s footsteps. There is a possibility that she may be killed after the child is produced.” he stated plainly. There was nothing to hide. They all had the right to know. Ron’s face grew steadily redder before he erupted.
“THIS IS YOUR ENTIRE FAULT! HERMIONE WOULD BE SAFE HERE WITH US IF IT WEREN’T FOR YOUR STUPID PLAN!” he screamed at Dumbledore. Tears streamed down his face. Ron wasn’t stupid. He knew that this was serious. A magical wedding bound the two participants for life. “We have to get her out . . . before it’s too late!” Dumbledore wanted to reassure him that they would, but he knew it was impossible. The manor was so heavily guarded that the idea of trying to break in and re-capture an unwilling Hermione was suicidal. There was no hope for her now. She would get married to Draco Malfoy the day after tomorrow, and if all went in the Dark Lord’s favour, she would be pregnant before Christmas.
Hermione was awake, but she was unsure if she was alive. Her entire body was aching and her mind was throbbing terribly. She was woken by the sound of voices mumbling incoherent words at the far end of her bed. She wondered what time it was. Opening her eyes a little, she took notice of the deep black night sky outside and knew immediately that it was quite late at night. But what night? How did she get here? What had happened? She tried to listen to the voices who were whispering near the door of her room.
“How long has she been like this?” asked a deep male voice with a slight hint of concern lacing his words.
“Since I found her on the floor the day you left. She’s been unconscious ever since. I’m worried Draco – what could have caused this?” asked the delicately feminine voice of Narcissa Malfoy.
“It’s happened once before . . .” he stated. “Once, when I was giving her a tour around the manor, she collapsed screaming and holding her head. It was like the Cruciatus Curse was being cast on her mind. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen!”
“Why didn’t you tell anyone about this before? There could be something seriously wrong with her. She may not be fit to carry a child!” hissed his mother scathingly. He had never thought of that before, though he doubted whether it would make any difference now. “Anyway, I’ve been here all day and night – you can stay with her for a while. Watch the cat; it tends to get under your feet!” Draco must have nodded in agreement because a moment later she heard the door close. Heavy footsteps went from one side of the room to right beside her bed. She heard a chair scrape and he took a seat beside her. A small pressure on the bed announced the Professor jumping up beside her. Squinting her eyes slightly, she stole a quick look at Draco. He carried dark bags under his eyes and his hair was dirty and limp, yet he sat there patiently beside her, waiting for her to wake up. The Professor purred at him and started to rub herself against his knee happily and he scratched her gently behind the ear. Hermione would have smiled if it didn’t hurt. Closing her eyes again, she drifted back into an exhausted sleep.
Hermione woke once again, opening her eyes fully this time. She glanced to her left and saw a sight she wished she had a camera for. Draco was slumped in the chair, snoring slightly with the Professor happily dozing on his lap. Oh! If only she had a camera! As if she had a sixth sense, the Professor woke immediately and turned her attention to Hermione. Purring happily, she quickly crossed from Draco’s lap to Hermione’s face, rubbing herself all over Hermione greedily. In the process, she had woken Draco. He shifted up in his seat and stared at her.
“Well, it’s about time you woke up!” he groaned tiredly, rubbing his eyes. “You’ve been out for ages. Don’t want to miss your own wedding, do you?” he smirked.
“I think we both know the answer to that!” she deadpanned. He just smirked at her whilst watching the cat rub itself happily against her arm.
“Your animal is bloody annoying – it slept on me all night!” he accused.
“I thought it was cute! After all, she doesn’t really take to others.”
“What’s its name?”
“Her name is Professor!” she stated matter-of-factly. He gave her a queer look.
“Why on earth did you call it that?!”
“Because she reminded me of McGonagall; the specks around her eyes . . .”
“Only you would want to keep an animal that reminded you of that woman!” Hermione couldn’t help but smile at that. He still held his prejudices against McGonagall after all these years. Hermione sat herself up in the bed and noticed that she was still in her jeans and tank top from the other day.
“How long have I been out of it?” she asked nervously. Had she really missed her own wedding? Please let it be so!
“Well, you were found Friday afternoon after I’d already left and now it’s Sunday morning, so that’s about . . . a day and a half? Yeah, that’s about right . . .” Hermione froze. It was Sunday.
“Wait! Did you say it’s Sunday? But that’s the day . . .” she trailed off.
“Yeah, that’s what I said. ‘Don’t want to miss your own wedding, do you?’” he stated as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. No. She was getting married today. It couldn’t be Sunday already! She jumped out of bed and raced to the window that overlooked the garden. The proof was there. The alter, chairs, dance floor and lights were being set up already. She took a deep breath hoping to calm herself a little. At seven o’clock tonight she’d be getting married to Draco Malfoy and later on that night they’d be . . .
“Don’t think about that Hermione . . .” she whispered to herself. Draco followed her to the window and looked out over the gardens whilst he stood behind her.
“It’ll be an . . . interesting affair, that is for sure!” he said quirkily. Hermione didn’t respond. She didn’t know how. How could he be so calm? He was about to marry someone he didn’t even like! She felt her stomach swirling emptily as a nauseous feeling replaced her feeling of nervousness.
“Oh! I’m going to be sick!” she croaked, covering her mouth with her hand and dashing for the bathroom, slamming the door behind her. Draco didn’t say another word as he made for the bedroom door. Stepping out into the hall, he was greeted by his mother with her two maids.
“She’s all yours . . .” he stated amusingly. His mother just smiled at him.
“Only until tonight . . .” she stated.
Hermione sat in front of her dresser. Narcissa had gone to attend to the guests who were beginning to arrive and Hermione had dismissed the maids long ago. Hermione looked stunning. She knew that. She wore a simple black dress of fine soft material. Underneath she wore the nicest and possibly sexiest lingerie she had ever owned. Her hair was beautifully curly in large ringlets, one side propped up with a fresh blood red lily, just like the ones that would be apart of her bouquet. She wore a beautiful set of heels that Narcissa had been adamant that she spend the afternoon practicing to walk in.
She now sat at her dresser just staring at the girl in the mirror. How had things ever come to this stage? Only three months ago, she had been living in Grimmauld Place minding her own business, all the while hating everyone who passed her in the halls. Today, she was waiting until Narcissa came up and told her that she needed to come downstairs and get married to the one man she hated desperately. And tonight, they would make the union complete. She had been trying to prepare herself for that moment all day, but the more she thought about it, the more she felt sick about it. Looking at the large grandfather clock in her room, she noticed that it was only ten to seven. She was expecting Narcissa any moment now.
She had found out that there was quite a tradition to Malfoy weddings. They were shrouded by superstition and careful measures. It was an ancient myth of the Malfoy line that associated the family with being servant’s to the dark creatures of the underworld. Whilst they weren’t, they weren’t greatly considered by the higher callers of the heavens. So, as a way of making it a safe and blessed union, the ceremony must take place after seven in the afternoon to be protected from the wrath of the higher gods and before nine in the evening so that the couple weren’t married on what was called ‘The devils right arm’. Also, Hermione wore a prig of rosemary tucked in her garter to ward away interfering spirits. It was all very organised and formal and Hermione didn’t dare object to tradition, even though she figured it all poppycock.
A small knock at the door announced Narcissa’s presence in the room.
“Come on dear, it’s time.” Hermione glanced desperately at the grandfather clock in the corner of the room which read one to seven. Giving up hope, she gathered herself up and walked to the door. The Professor trotted after her expectantly but she stopped her.
“Sorry Professor, not this time.” and with that she closed the door behind her.
Draco stood nervously at the alter. This was it. His days of being irresponsible were over. He was about to marry the one woman he dreaded to touch; not that that would be much of an option tonight. He knew what he had to do tonight and so did she. He wanted so desperately to get out of it, but he knew that it was required to complete the union. A slight breeze tossed his black robes playfully. He heard the clock chime seven o’clock from inside and he knew it was time. All the guests stood to attention as the harp began to play magically. The doors to the sunroom opened and there stood Hermione, looking as nervous as hell. Draco couldn’t help but smile at her. He knew exactly how she felt. She walked nervously down the red carpet and Draco couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she looked tonight. Her hair framed her face in large ringlets, the dark chocolaty brown contrasting magnificently against the blood red lily that was pinned on one side. Her eyes were smoky black and her lips blood red. The long black dress that she wore flattered her small frame and he couldn’t help but wonder what he would find underneath. He was sure his mother would have ensured that he would not be displeased.
She reached him at the alter and turned to face him, taking a big breath. The Dark Lord Voldemort materialised out of a wisp of black smoke at the head of the alter as a wide smile split across his face.
“Join hands.” he said calmly as everyone took their seats again. Hermione raised her hands and Draco’s large one’s enveloped them. She was surprised to find the skin on his hands warm and coarse. She supposed they were coarse from all the work he had done out on missions, but for them to be warm, she had not expected. She took a deep steadying breath as she tried desperately to calm her rattled nerves.
“Ladies and gentlemen. Friends and family. I welcome you here this evening to bear witness to the blessed union of Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger. We begin tonight with the declarations.” he presented to the guests. Then turning to Draco, he began with his declaration. “Draco, do you accept Hermione into your life willingly? Do you take her as your own blood and promise to protect her from any harm that may come to her? Will you cater to her, care for her and cherish her for the rest of your life, so do you swear?” Draco stared into Hermione’s eyes as if were trying to provide her with strength to say the two words he would.
“Hermione,” said Voldemort as he turned his attention to her, “do you accept Draco into your life willingly? Do you take him as your own blood and promise to keep him from any harm that may come to him? Will you cater to him, care for him and cherish him for the rest of your life, so do you swear?” Hermione faltered for a moment. She felt her hands shaking and she knew Draco could too.
“I . . . I . . .” she looked desperately into Draco’s eyes and he flooded her with the strength she so desperately needed. “I swear.”
“Very well.” stated Voldemort as he moved onto the next phase of the ceremony. He pulled a large dagger from his robe and presented it to Hermione. She had been informed of what this was for. She had to cut Draco’s hand like he had to do to her so their blood could merge. Her shaking hand took the dagger from Voldemort’s grasp as Draco turned his left hand palm up. She touched the dagger to his skin, but the shaking just wouldn’t stop. With his other hand, he held the other end of the blade gently and carefully swiped it across his palm. Blood spewed from the cut dark and red. Hermione felt herself exhale deeply at the sight of the blood. She passed the dagger to Draco and turned her left palm up. He didn’t hesitate in swiping the blade quickly across her skin, in fact, she was almost sure he enjoyed it. “Now the rings, quickly.” said Voldemort roughly as the rings were presented to him from Mrs Malfoy.
Pure silver. Hermione’s had a large diamond in the centre but she was uninterested in its value. Draco’s was just a plain band, but both rings had a small dip in the middle of the band, almost like an empty river. Hermione took Draco’s ring and placed it on his outstretched finger and he did the same to her.
“Partners join hands and become whole in one another.” She and Draco clasped their two hands together, allowing their blood to mix. This was the final phase of the ceremony. She watched as the blood trickled magically up each of their hands and ran into the small crevice in each of their wedding bands where it dried like a small trail of red ruby jewel. It was official now, all except one small thing. “Congratulations. I now present to you all Mr and Mrs Draco Malfoy. Complete the ceremony with a kiss.”
Hermione had been dreading this. The first time she kisses her husband was to be at the marriage. They leaned in close and pressed their lips gently against one another’s. Hermione was surprised at how soft and sensual his lips felt against hers. The small kiss lasted only moments and they pulled apart. The crowd of spectators clapped jovially. It was done. Over. Complete. She was married for the rest of her life.
Author’s Note: Well, there you have it! Hermione and Draco are married. Next chapter you’ll get the after party and the real wedding night! Please review! Even if you're just passing through - drop a line! I’m loving everything I’m reading from you guys and I’m still open for names for their child! Bye y’all!
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