After their lunch, Hermione said goodbye to Harry and apparated over to her office. It was eleven-fifty-five by the time she sat down to her desk and pulled out a show book or two. Five minutes later her fireplace roared to life and she took a deep breath, anticipating a rush of demands. Though, she was thoroughly surprised to see that Malfoy had come alone.
“Surprised?” He asked her as he sat down in the chair directly in front of her desk. Hermione shook her head and brought up her client-friendly smile.
“No, not all, though, I am a bit curious as to why you’re by yourself. I was under the impression Asteria wouldn’t miss this meeting for the world.”
“Normally she wouldn’t, but fortunately something came up that she couldn’t ignore.”
Hermione overlooked Malfoy’s use of the word “fortunately” instead of unfortunately and took out the notepad she had yesterday.
“Alright, break it to me gently.” Malfoy said as he leaned back in the chair. “What exactly did Asteria call for?”
“Then I’m right in assuming you weren’t listening at all yesterday morning?”
“Not to a single word, so, let me have it.”
“Well, Asteria’s asked for an out of country wedding which already hikes the cost to a hefty amount because things have to be Flooed over and of course there’s the guests of whom she’s said you’d take the pleasure in paying the hotels for those people who’d like to stay overnight.”
“She’s said that, has she?” Malfoy chuckled with a slight raise of his brow. “Lovely, what else is she causing me to go into debt for?”
“Well, she’d rather an outside wedding in the yard of a mansion, which is entirely based on you and not me. Let’s see what else… Imported birds set to release after you’ve said your ‘I dos,’ imported wine and flowers...yes those are the main things that will give your primary fixed cost.”
“And that fixed cost is how much?”
“At the rate this is going, about half a million galleons for the things I’ve just told you about. And when you factor in all the variables, it may be dangerously close to a million galleons. Excluding
the wedding planner fee for doing all of this which is four thousand galleons a month until the wedding is kept.”
Normally any person would be jumping for joy at the thought of receiving a million galleons on one wedding plus
another four thousand a month for their services. But Hermione felt terrible. She knew it must’ve hurt Malfoy more than in just his wallet. He was sitting there without saying word and sighed heavily. Pity overwhelmed Hermione instantly and she did something she never thought she’d ever do:
“It doesn’t have to be so expensive.” She told him. “I can talk to Asteria, try to, I don’t know, have her tone things down and lower the cost?” Harry and the others would kill her if they knew she was trying to negotiate a smaller price of a wedding that neared a million galleons. It would set her up financially for quite a long time, but she didn’t have it in her heart to do it. Malfoy shook his head and groaned under his breath.
“It’d be a nice gesture, but believe me, talking to her will just give her more ideas on what to add.”
“Well, can’t say I didn’t try.” Hermione half-grinned. “Within the next two weeks or so when you decide what you, or Asteria rather, figure out what you want indefinitely, we can start the billing cycle.”
Malfoy nodded and stood, shaking her hand just as he did yesterday. He was nearing the fireplace when he stopped and turned back around to her.
“Do you have anything else to do today?” He asked her. Hermione was caught off guard that she nearly dropped one of her show books.
“Um, I, no…” She managed to say. “I was actually going to get a little something to eat.”
“Would you mind if I joined you?”
Hermione was even more taken aback and truly dropped one of her show books. Malfoy went over to her side of her desk and picked it up. She quickly took it from him and stood.
“Is that a yes or a no?”
“I didn’t answer you at all.”
“I’d appreciate it if you did.” Malfoy said with a small chuckle. “It’d save me from going back to my Manor and having Asteria bombarding me with questions.”
Hermione laughed outright and put a hand over her mouth to stop. It was a bit rude, but still emitted a giggle or two seeing that Malfoy was doing so as well. She nodded and the two of them debated for several minutes on where to go until they decided on a petit salon in Fordham, between Diagon Alley (where Hermione wanted to go) and Squadon Alley (the equivalent of Knockturn Alley where Malfoy wanted to go). The place was a bit crowded but they managed to find a small table near the back.
Hermione couldn’t help but feel a bit conscious. The last time she saw Malfoy was a year after Hogwarts and they were threatening to curse each other. Now she was sitting directly across from him and staring at a menu. My friends will kill me
…but none of them ever came to Fordham, so she considered herself safe.
“You must come here often.” She said in order to make small talk. Malfoy nodded and tried to signal a waiter to come over to them, but it was a bit impossible.
“Often enough that I don’t have to stare at a menu, you mean.”
“It’s probably not my place to say this but, most men would want to be spending their time with their fiancées, not their wedding planners.”
“If you didn’t want to have lunch with me all you had to do was say no.” Malfoy said angrily and begin to stand. Hermione quickly put a hand up and motioned for him to sit back down.
“I didn’t mean it that way.” She told him. “It’s just I’ve never seen someone so eager to get away from their soon-to-be spouse. But like I said, I shouldn’t be saying something like that anyway.”
“No, no, that’s just the counselor side of you.” He replied calmly. “It’s a very truthful observation.”
“Would you mind if I asked why?”
“You should know why. You’ve spent enough time with her already.”
“Yes, but that was the getting-ready-for-my-wedding Asteria. Most, if not all women are a tad, well, pushy
, when it comes to their wedding. I don’t know what she’s like when it’s not on her mind. Therefore, I can’t judge.”
“Fine, you can give you’re final judgment at our engagement party next month.”
“What?” Hermione asked a bit shocked.
“I’m inviting you.”
, why does my opinion matter so much?”
“You’re a counselor too, aren’t you? You can help me decide if I should…” Malfoy trailed off of his words and sighed. “Believe me, it matters.”
“Even if I do go, it won’t be the same as real counseling.”
“Then Asteria and I will do it.”
“…It’s a twenty day counseling session.” She said slowly. “Ten thousand galleons for all twenty days and you have to pay in advance.”
“No problem,” He responded with a grin as he conjured a check book and wrote out a check for ten thousand galleons and gave it to her. “Now you won’t have a problem giving an honest report.”
Hermione stared at the check in her hand and nodded, putting it away in her purse. She couldn’t believe how hard Malfoy was trying. It was like as if he wanted her to say and fully mean that Asteria was a terrible woman, giving him the excuse to, well, not marry her. That can’t be what this is
… Hermione thought to himself. He just wants reassurance, not a reason to get out of marriage. Right..?
She gently smiled as a waiter finally came over to them ready to take their orders.
“…Sessions start on Monday…”
Hermione had been lying in bed for what she counted as the fourteenth, fifteenth hour? She didn’t know because she had stopped counting for a while now. Why was she in bed for fifteen hours? Well, sleep evaded her for most of the night because a certain salt and pepper owl kept coming to her window and pecking at it to be let inside. At each time the owl had a small note from Asteria giving an idea or two for her wedding that she simply couldn’t “wait until Monday to tell her.” Hermione was going off the deep end. By the looks of the owl, he was going insane as well, for when Hermione tried to send him back with a response to Asteria for the hundredth time that night, the poor creature flew around her room, refusing to be let outside. Now she was covered up in her bed sheets with her pillow over her head trying to get the sleep that she lost. However, she’d have to try again later on that night, because she could hear her fireplace being activated and felt the presence of someone at the foot of her bed.
“What in Merlin’s name are you still doing in bed?” Ginny asked her. Hermione lifted the pillow over her head high enough to take in her friend’s entire frame.
“Trying to suffocate myself,”
“Huh..?” She said with a laugh.
“Oh, Gin, I hardly got any sleep last night. Asteria kept Owling me about things for her wedding.”
“It’s bloody Sunday. She couldn’t wait another day?”
“Apparently not,” Hermione said as she threw aside her pillow and motioned to all of the letters on her dresser that had been sent to her. Ginny was in awe as she picked up one letter at a time and quickly reading them.
“And to think Harry, Ron, and I thought that Malfoy was going to be your biggest problem.”
“So did I… I can hardly believe that he’s the one keeping me sane in all of this. Talk about topsy-turvy.”
“Well, I can understand if you’d rather sleep than head into Hogsmeade with me and the men.”
“Harry and Ron are here too?” Hermione asked surprised. “I figured they’d be at the Quiditch match that’s going on today.”
“Oh they were going to be, but I got them to tag along with us.”
“How in the world did you manage that?”
“I told Harry that I’d stop sleeping with him.”
Hermione grinned and then laughed as Ginny gave a triumphant look.
“Nice work, Gin.”
Despite the fact that Hermione was severely sleep deprived, she was having a good time with her friends. She and Ginny were popping into shoppe after shoppe while Harry and Ron lagged behind, shaking down anyone in the street to see if they had any word on the Quiditch match they were missing.
“It’s a crying shame.” Ginny said to Hermione quietly as Harry sweetly told his red-headed wife that he’d make up everything to her if she’d let him and Ron go see the second half of the match. She waved him off after a bit and he gave her a kiss on the cheek as he and Ron disapparated from view.
“So, how much money are you getting for Malfoy’s wedding?”
“Well, excluding the standard fee for my services, it’s going to cost about a million galleons to make the wedding happen.”
“One million galleons… That’s maddening!”
“I know it is, and to be honest, I feel so sorry for Malfoy.”
“What for..? ‘Mione, this will be the grandest wedding you’ve ever planned.”
“But he doesn’t want to spend all of that.” Hermione argued. She sighed and shrugged her shoulders. “I know you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy-”
“But I’m trying to figure out ways to get Asteria to tone it down, so Malfoy could pay less.”
“I should turn you into the funny house for saying something like that.” Ginny told her in all seriousness. “You keep your mouth closed and give the Queen of England Wanna Be the wedding of her dreams whether Malfoy wants it or not. Call it karma for what he did to us during the Hogwarts days and the three years after it.”
Hermione sighed and nodded, feeling completely contradicted. Most assuredly the wedding day was mostly about the woman: what she wanted and how she wanted it. Yet, there was a strong urge within Hermione to hold up a hand to Asteria and just say no. But, of course, what did it matter? Wedding planners had one position and that was simply to plan the wedding; giving the blushing bride and groom whatever they wanted.
“I’m a fairy…” She said to herself. “Granting every and any wish,”
Hermione and Ginny finished their shopping around four-thirty that evening and were now sitting in a parlor and eating a small meal. They were nearly done and were about to apparate over to Ginny’s when a piercing call hit Hermione’s ears.
“Oh, Miss Granger..!”
“Kill me now,” Hermione muttered under her breath. Ginny was staring directly behind her to see Asteria waltzing up to them, tugging an unwilling Malfoy by the arm. “Hello, Asteria, Draco…” She said as courteously as possible and then turned to Ginny. “Gin, I’m sure you remember Draco, but this is Asteria.”
“It’s a pleasure-”
“I’m so glad I caught you.” Asteria said to Hermione, completely cutting Ginny off in her introduction. “Draco and I were just out looking for my wedding dress!”
“But you’re not to be married for a full year and then some. Don’t you think it’s a bit early to be looking for a dress?”
“Oh, you could never be too early to look for a wedding dress! And speaking of that, I was hoping that you could tag along with Draco and me. I could use your opinion greatly since my darling’s tastes are a bit…understated.”
Hermione saw Malfoy visibly flinch and could hear Ginny trying with all of her might not to burst out into a fit of giggles, knowing full-well that Malfoy was one to take an extreme pride in his appearance.
“I don’t know, Asteria.” Hermione started to say. “I don’t usually help with the clothes and I was just about-”
“We’ll pay you an extra five thousand for your opinions on my wedding dress and any other time after today.”
Ginny knocked over her tea in surprise, Malfoy looked as if he was bout kill his fiancée and Hermione felt itchiness in her throat and blinked several times. Ginny tapped her friend in the back to speak after seeing the look in Asteria’s eyes like as if she was becoming impatient. In all honesty, Hermione wasn’t a fool to turn down an instant five thousand galleons, or at least she didn’t want to be. So, she stood and nodded, following the couple down the street after Hermione mouthed to Ginny that she’d write her later.
This is going to be a long evening…
“Tighter… I said tighter… Not that tight you ingrate..!” Asteria shouted at the poor seamstress who was fitting the blushing bride. Hermione shot a sympathetic look to the woman who whispered a small thank you. Malfoy just sat in the chair next to her with a hand on his forehead as though he thought it would shield him from the world.
“Well, what do you think, Draco?” Asteria said as she turned to face him. He lifted up the hand that was on his hand and huffed.
Asteria narrowed her eyes at him and then turned to Hermione and placed her hands on her hips.
“What about you, Miss Granger?”
Hermione in all honesty had rather to keep her opinions to herself. In truth she was trying to find out exactly how Asteria was breathing. Yes, it outlined her shape beautifully, but at the expense of her passing out in the heat of a summer wedding? And aside from health issues, it was extremely low-cut in the back, and even more so to the front. Adding in the tightness, Asteria’s bosoms would have the attention of everyone attending the wedding.
“It’s um…very revealing.” Hermione said, choosing her words wisely. Asteria put a smirk on her face and smoothed her hands over the dress.
“I’ll take it.”
“Over my dead body,” Malfoy snapped quickly. “Besides the fact that all eyes are going to be roaming every inch of you, it’s a ten thousand galleon dress.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” Asteria told him smugly. “It’s a twelve thousand galleon dress.”
“Draco, it’s my wedding and I deserve to have whatever I want.”
“It’s our wedding.”
“Then, as it is our wedding, don’t you want me to look beautiful for you?”
“Might I suggest something?” Hermione piped up. Asteria said no and Malfoy said yes respectively and then there was silence. Since no one was speaking, Hermione took her chance.
“Asteria, why don’t you get a less expensive dress-?”
“And make alterations on it.” She continued speedily. “Better yet, buy the fabric and have someone make you your very own dress so you can be unique.”
“…Hmm, that’s not a bad idea.” Asteria replied thoughtfully. “Alright I’ll do it.”
“Good, I’m glad that-”
“But only if you design the dress,”
“What..?” Both Hermione and Malfoy said unanimously.
“B-but I’m not a designer.”
“What’s so hard about it?” Asteria asked angrily. “A wand in hand and I dictate what I want. It’s as simple breathing. I’ll owl you about when to come for the dress fitting. I think three thousand galleons sounds about fair.”
Hermione watched as Asteria stepped off of the pedestal and have the seamstress follow her to the back of the shoppe. Malfoy was sighing and shaking his head.
“I’m sorry,” She told him. “I was only trying to lower the cost of the dress.”
“What are you talking about?” Malfoy asked confusedly with an out of place grin. “That’s three thousand for the dress you’re going to make. You just saved me nine thousand galleons. Thanks.”
“No problem,” Hermione sighed, and then winced when she heard Asteria yell at the seamstress for the millionth time that day.
After leaving the bridal shoppe, Hermione followed Asteria and Malfoy into five different fabric shoppes until Asteria screamed with glee when she found the perfect white fabric to make her wedding dress out of. In all rights she could’ve may as well bought the wedding dress, for the fabric had cost six thousand galleons. Hermione shot a side glance at Malfoy who shrugged his shoulders and mouthed to her that at least she saved him one thousand. She chuckled at him trying to find the bright side in everything and soon left him and Asteria in order to go home and prepare for their counseling session which started the next day.
Counseling sessions were more or less the highlights of the wedding process. It was the time where the soon-to-be bride and groom answered questions and realized in a shocking moment that he only wants one child while she wants four, or he wants to live in a rural area while she wants the city. So many arguments arise out of those lovely little sessions; some bad enough to destroy the engagement, others, still bad, but on the flip side make the couple realize that they needed to communicate more. Based on that, Hermione wondered what kind of counseling sessions she was going to have with Draco and Asteria. Were they just going to sit and argue?
Probably not… Malfoy will more than likely be staring off into space while Asteria rants about how much they love each other and that they really didn’t need to be there. Hermione thought as she sat at her desk in her office by. She looked at the clock and saw that it was a few minutes to ten. Counting off the seconds in her head, her fireplace came to life and out stepped the loving couple.
“I still don’t understand why we need this.” Asteria complained while gripping Draco’s arm tightly. “We’re perfectly content.”
“Well, it’s not always a matter of being content.” Hermione told her as she stood and began to lead them into the counseling session room. “Usually people get engaged and they’re worried about the wedding, naturally, but they never think about after the wedding. This is what this is for.”
Hermione sat in her comfy chair directly in front of, ironically, a love seat, where Draco and Asteria sat. After taking out her clipboard and a quick notes quill, Hermione stared at them, noticing a role reversal. Asteria, usually beaming with glee and ready to speak, was amazingly silent and if she day say scowling, while Draco, usually in another world, was wearing a smile.
“Alright let’s begin.” Draco said eagerly. Hermione hid her surprise (or at least she hoped she did), and got ready for her list of questions.
“Okay, well, I guess I should start with is have you two given any thought on where you’d like to live after you’ve gotten married?”
“In a large mansion somewhere off of the coast of an island, though I haven’t got much of a clue which island,” Asteria responded quickly.
“Is that what you both want?” Hermione asked them. Draco straightened his back and firmly declared,
“No..? What do you mean no? If you think I’m living in your childhood home, you’re right out of your damned mind.”
“Don’t talk to me like that,” Draco growled at her.
“Concede to my wishes and we’ll both be satisfied, now won’t we?” Asteria said sweetly with vindictiveness in her eyes.
“Please you two, this isn’t supposed to be a fighting session-” Hermione began to say, but soon she was drowned out by one of Draco’s snappy comments which was matched by one of Asteria’s gentle but deadly remarks. So, she sat there watching the two go back and forth and she was only too pleased to know that they had argued for an entire hour and soon they were getting up to leave.
“Completely pointless…” Asteria said to Draco as she took some Floo powder in her hand. “All we did was find out absolutely nothing.”
“I wouldn’t say that.” Draco muttered, giving a side glance to Hermione which went completely unnoticed by his fiancée. Before she could fully decipher it, they were gone, and Hermione stood there completely baffled. The counseling session was a wreck. She didn’t even get a chance to counsel. Why wouldn’t he agree with Asteria when, in the first time in the days that Hermione’s known her, she was right? Shaking her head, she closed up her office for the day and sighed, wondering what in Merlin’s name was going through Draco’s head.
author's note: okay, so heres the next chapter! i got such good reviews for the first chap so i hope i get the same for this one :) thanks!