Hermione settled herself back on the couch. “I can’t believe Luna, you know, the way she took charge and organised the rehearsals, and now she’s volunteered to be responsible for the costumes. We’ll have to make sure we credit her in the brochure, I just hope she doesn’t go too weird with them.”
Draco was looking intently at the drawings of the Great Hall that Colin Creevey’s artistic side had produced. “Which of these would be your choice, Hermione?”
The first idea was pretty much a conventional theatre with a raised stage, proscenium arch etc. in the second the seating was in two banks down the sides of the Hall facing the centre. This left a large clear space running the length of the Hall. Three large circular stages, about two feet high, were spaced along the length of the area, joined by narrower catwalks. This idea immediately grabbed Hermione’s imagination.
“I like this idea, Draco. Let’s do it this way.”
“Good choice, especially as Colin has started to design the sets. He’s going for the minimalist look, just the bare necessities.”
“Isn’t it wonderful how people are pitching in to help? We wouldn't be anywhere near ready if it wasn't for them.” she asked him.
“I love you.” Now Hermione was puzzled as she settled into his arms, that statement had come from out of the blue. Not that she was complaining, she loved hearing him sayng those words. She was compelled to ask,
“I’m glad about that, Draco, but is that relevant to the play?”
“No, but I wanted to tell you. People keep trying to bust us up and I want you to know that I’m not going to let them.” She looked up at him and he lowered his lips to hers, her eyes closed. She had not realised how she had missed the ecstasy of a soft gentle kiss.
“I love you too and I’m so glad Ron only damaged your head, it could have been so much worse.”
The next morning they set off for the Ministry to attend the trial of Pansy Parkinson. Stepping out of the Floo they were immediately surrounded by the press. Questions came from all directions but as instructed by the prosecutors Draco and Hermione said nothing.
In a private room they met with the Chief Prosecutor, Harbeckat Howe, a lawyer with an impeccable reputation. He met them red-faced and obviously not in a very good mood. “I’m sorry to tell you that the judge has instructed me not to proceed with the charge of attempted murder. He does not feel we can win that one, in his opinion the only charges we can make stick are inflicting Grievous Bodily Harm on Miss Weasley and suborning a minor. Even the illicit memory modification has to be dropped.”
“That will be Parkinson senior, no doubt about that. I wonder how many Galleons he slipped the judge.”
“Mr Malfoy! That is a highly improper thing to suggest and I would strongly advise that you do not repeat it outside this room. I urge this because I totally agree with you. Miss Parkinson has stated that she will enter a plea of guilty to the reduced charges, so the trial will be very short, but for you I imagine, not very sweet.” Draco pulled a sour face,
“What sentence will she get?”
“Don’t look for her to do any jail time, she’ll probably get a period of probation and a heavy fine.”
The lawyer’s opinion proved accurate with Pansy being sentenced to a fine of 10,000 Galleons and two years’ probation. Only a stern protest from Dumbledore had stopped the judge from ordering that she be re-admitted to Hogwarts. Her father paid the fine in a matter of minutes and walked from the court with his smiling daughter. Pansy even had the nerve to wink and blow a kiss at Draco as she passed by.
Leaving the Ministry, Draco and Hermione felt depressed that Pansy had got off, as they thought, very easily. As they went through the atrium a messenger approached and handed Draco a sealed parchment. Having read it, he smiled at the girl he loved, “It’s from the records department, it’s our licence to marry. All we have to decide now is the time and place.” The girl he loved smiled back at him.
“I’ve had a thought about that. Why don’t we…” when she had finished, he stood in front of her with her hands held gently in his.
“You would do that for me? I… I don’t know what to say. Thank you, Hermione.” She gave him a brief kiss,
“You’re welcome. Leave the arrangements to me.”
They were back at Hogwarts just after lunch where they were met by Colin. “You two need to come and see the hall. I think it looks great.”
“You go with Colin, Draco, and I’ll meet you there shortly. I’ve got some things to do. I won’t be long.”
In fact it was almost an hour before Hermione made it to the hall. Draco, Colin and Luna were sitting high up in the back row of seats. She joined them,
“Okay Seamus, what am I looking at?”
“As you can see Hermione, there are three circular stages linked by a walkway. Any character in successive scenes can just walk to the next stage, provided that no costume change is required. While a scene is being played on one stage the other two are being set by the stage crew I have conscripted. They will work under the ‘Shroud Me’ charm. That plus the darkness of the room should hide their activities pretty well.” Luna produced a pad of drawings,
“These are the sets for each scene, quite minimal in fact. These are the costumes. Period as you can see. They are all made, fitted and ready to go. Hermione looked at Ginny’s flimsy nightwear costume for the bed scene with Dean.
“We’ll never get away with that, Luna. You can see her boobs quite clearly and Harry will have kittens if he sees her like that with Dean, her parents and brothers won’t be too happy either.”
“I’ll see to it, then.” Was Luna sulking? Impossible, Luna didn’t sulk.
“Okay”, Draco took the floor, “Today is Tuesday. The play goes on Saturday afternoon for the students and evening for parents and families. So I suggest that we have a rehearsal here tomorrow evening followed by dress rehearsals Thursday and Friday. I think by then we’ll be as ready as we can be. I also want to put on record our appreciation of all the things that you and Luna have done for us while we have been um… preoccupied with other matters. We’ll make sure you get due credit for it.”
To say that the next day’s rehearsal did not go well would be to understate things. They soon discovered that minimalist sets were also more often than not frail sets. After a couple of collapsing chairs had resulted in sore tailbones they began to automatically strengthen suspect items as they went along.
They had problems with only two members of the cast. Ginny was furious that Luna had been instructed to change her costume for the bed scene. Harry was furious with Ginny for complaining. Draco soon got fed up with the arguing and put his foot down.
“Okay, that’s enough! Ginny you will wear the modified nightie. I’m not going to risk the wrath of your parents over something so trivial. So now, can we please get on?”
The first dress rehearsal on Thursday resurrected the whole argument once more when Ginny initially refused to wear what she described as a ‘sack’. This time it was Luna who brought peace to the proceedings when she took Ginny aside for what appeared, from a distance, to be a stern talking to.
That evening after the rehearsal was done they returned to their accommodation, had a quick no-frills shower together, and settled on the couch. “Okay Hermione, what’s the matter? You’re very subdued, even for you. What’s up?”
“It’s just the play, Draco, really. It’s so close now. It’s just nerves. Honest.”
“Anything I can do to help?” She smiled up at him,
“Do you know, I think there might just be something…”
Draco woke slowly from a deep sleep. It took him a few moments to realise that Hermione was not beside him. He was not concerned until, after showering and dressing, he found that she was nowhere in the apartment. He summoned Gabby.
“Do you know where Hermione has gone, Gabby?”
“No, Mr. Draco. Gabby is not seeing her this morning. She is not askings for coffee today.”
“Edmund, what time did Hermione leave this morning?”
“I don’t know Professor, she didn’t come out this way.” It was a puzzled and concerned Draco who had breakfast alone. Nobody at the teachers table had any knowledge of her whereabouts. He saw Dean Thomas enter the hall and went to make enquiries. Dean’s response surprised him.
“What is it with some blokes? Harry has lost Ginny and now you’ve lost Hermione. You really should take better care of your girls you know.”
“Harry has lost Ginny?”
“Yeah, she seems to have vanished from Gryffindor tower. He’s looking for her now.” Now Draco was truly confused and he set off to find Harry. Even that proved difficult and his mood was fragile in the extreme when at just after 11am he saw Harry walking down a corridor towards him.
“Have you found her yet, Harry?” It seemed that today was going to be a day when any and everybody was going to do the unexpected. Harry handed him a parchment with his name on it.
“Yeah, I don’t know where they are now, but I know where they will be later. You should read this first.” Draco recognised Hermione’s writing
‘My dearest Draco,
I am trusting you as I am asking you to trust me. I want you to do one simple thing for me and it is this; please do exactly as Harry tells you for the next few hours, without argument, delay or dissention.
I promise that you will find it to be worthwhile.
I love you.
“It seems as though I’m under your orders, Harry. What do I have to do?” Harry glanced at his watch,
“First we go back to your rooms and get changed.”
“Don’t ask, just do. Okay?
Draco knew what was afoot when he saw what he was expected to wear. He had a choice between formal dress robes or muggle formal dress. There were two sets of each, one for Draco and one for Harry. “I would hazard a guess Harry, and say I’m getting married, am I right?”
“My lips are sealed by a promise to two girls I love, but I don’t think you are a million miles away.”
“Okay, but why all the secrecy? I mean I knew she was making the arrangements.”
“P’raps the arrangements are not what she told you.”
“What? We’re not going to be naked on the Quidditch pitch?”
“I didn’t know that was an option, it would have been my choice.” Harry laughed. “Now stop stalling and make a choice, magic or muggle? Whatever you wear, I, as your best man, have to wear the same.”
“Well, as I don’t know where we’re going, I think I’ll play it safe and go muggle.”
“That would be my choice too. So shower, dress and then we can be off. The book there on the table is a portkey timed for 11.45.” Draco looked at the copy of ‘Hogwarts. A History.’ Of course, he thought, what else would she have chosen? At 11.44, freshly showered and changed they laid their hands on the book.
A.N. This chapter was really a struggle and I’m still not really satisfied with it.
Near the end now, if only real life would get out of the way.