Chapter 1 : The Proposal
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Her heart was in her throat, her insides rumbling with uneasiness and the blood was pumping hard through her veins to keep her moving forward. Forward, Hermione, come on. She clenched her fists together and her nails dug deep into her skin. The slight pain was the only indication that this was real. This was really happening. And with this thought, she felt sicker about the whole situation. Move forward. Her eyes burned with intensity, focusing on the figure ahead of her. The black cloak was biting his feet and the hood draped his face, concealing his identity. He moved forward all the same too. She pulled down at her hood, to ensure she would go unnoticed as well.
The chilly autumn night sent shivers throughout her body as she pulled her cloak tighter around her chest, trapping in the warmth of her body. The figure ahead of her stopped at a pub with a dingy appearance, almost falling apart. On a faded sign, the name “Leaky Caldron” was written. He turned towards her as the moonlight caressed him, but the dark shadows of his hood left his identity unrevealed. He nodded at the pub and left into it briskly. She stood outside, clutching her cloak over her heart. She took two heavy, slow breaths before following the figure in. Once inside, she felt his cold hand find hers and lace his fingers through hers, holding tightly with protectiveness. He guided her to a table in an obscure corner of the lively pub. They both slid into chairs where they could observe the action of the pub.
“There’s no one here,” the voice muttered.
“What am I supposed to do?” she hissed.
He placed his hand over hers reassuringly and squeezed it gently. Minutes turned into hours of scoping the nature of the pub with no interaction with anyone else, let alone with each other. Hermione tapped her fingers on the table softly. Her tapping stopped when a blond haired boy entered the pub with an essence of arrogance swallowing the air whole.
Hermione leaned forward into her friend’s ear, whispering, “Call Malfoy over here. I have a plan.”
He stilled at her words and it was obvious that he was contemplating her demand thoughtfully. Finally, he nodded. As Draco Malfoy neared the two to speak to his Slytherin gang hanging out by a nearby table, he lifted his head to reveal his identity slightly. Draco could not have missed the too familiar face. Round glasses. Lightning bolt-shaped scar. Green, almond shaped eyes glaring at him. Harry put his index finger to his lips, a sign for Draco to stay quiet, and then motioned him to come to their shady spot. Draco nodded faintly and waved at his friends to give him a few moments. He strode cautiously towards Harry and the other petite figure, unsure what to even think. He took a seat in front of the two, laying his hands to rest on the table, laced with each other.
He leaned forward and hissed quietly, “Potter, what are you doing here? They are looking for you everywhere.” He then smirked, “Although, it would be amusing to see the Golden Boy arrested before my very eyes.”
Harry cleared his throat, leaning forward as well. “We need a more private place to talk to you.”
Draco sneered, “And why would I even want to talk to you?”
“You owe us a lot, Malfoy.”
Draco peered at the other figure, realizing it was Hermione and wondering where the other golden child of the trio was. He abruptly stood up and waved at the two to follow him. As Hermione got to her feet, Harry seized her wrist, keeping her from leaving. He murmured, “You sure about this? About him?” She could hear Harry’s distaste for Malfoy by the mere mention of him. She nodded and then, he released her with second thoughts playing over and over in his head.
Hermione followed Draco with Harry right behind her upstairs to a hallway of doors. The third door to the left, Draco has to fiddled with several keys because the inn’s rooms were enchanted to only unlock with keys. Once unlocking the door, Draco stepped aside to let both of them in. He shut the door quietly behind him and with a wave of his wand, casted a silencing spell to prevent any possible eavesdrops.
Hermione pulled off her hood, her big chocolate eyes meeting with the stormy grey ones. Harry was much more wary, kept his hood on.
Draco crossed his arms, with a demanding look on his face. “What do you want?” he growled, clearly agitated. “You know how much I’m fucking myself over talking to you two?”
“Yes,” Harry answered steadily. “We know. But after all the things we’ve done for you, you owe us a hell of a lot.”
“I owe you nothing!” he spat.
“I saved your life twice. And on top of that , both me and Hermione went to court to clear your name as well as your mother’s. Because of us, because of me, you were able to have a life for the past two years. We understand that asking you to put these feelings of hate aside is hard, but please, Malfoy. Help us. We all know you don’t want any of us dead.”
Draco’s chest heaved with a sigh, understanding the scope of what he owed the Golden Trio. As much as it burned him to admit it, Potter was right. He didn’t necessarily want them dead either, as much as he hated them. And he could hear the worry in Harry’s voice and for once in his life, he felt guilty. “What is it exactly that you want, Potter? I cannot assure you that I can protect you or your mudblood from my father’s persecution, but I’ll do my best”, said Draco firmly.
Hermione cringed at the word “mudblood”, as if it was a stake right through her heart. The dreadful word echoing in her head painfully, but this couldn’t discourage her. She had to stick to her plan, no matter how drastic it was or how much hate was bubbling inside of her for Malfoy.
Harry looked at Hermione, waiting for her answer.
She finally said solemnly, “Harry doesn’t need your protection. Just me. I need it.”
Draco’s jaw tightened. “And tell me, Granger, what exactly is your plan to protect yourself, a mudblood, during times like these?”
There, that word again. It made her wince. “I’m proposing a marriage.”
He was so suddenly taken aback at her words; he did not realize his loss of composure. His mouth was slightly agape with shock. Marriage?
Even Harry was staring at her, fidgeting in panic.
“Draco Malfoy, you heard me clearly.”
He smirked evilly, “And Granger, how is that supposed to protect you?”
“Considering you’re the son of the Deatheaters’ new leader, you could do whatever you want, including marrying someone who is muggle-born.”
He didn’t know what to say. This was a situation that was entirely new to him. A situation he couldn’t understand why she would want to put herself in. They harbored so much hate for each other that it was explosive so how could she ever suggest to be his wife? Desperation. Not only was she the Golden Girl, she was muggle-born and every Deatheater was after her. He couldn’t care less about her predicament, his focus was on him.
“Why can’t you stay with Potter or the Weasel?” he questioned with cold eyes on her.
“I have personal reasons that I cannot stay with either one.”
“What does Weasel think of this?”
“What he thinks is none of your concern, Malfoy.”
“You want to spy on Deatheaters, huh?” he smirked. Now he understood the motivations.
“No, Malfoy,” replied Harry with his voice unsteady with rage. “I only found out her plan when she just told you. Our main concern is protecting ourselves against the rise of the Deatheaters. And if you don’t believe me, I will gladly take veritaserum to prove to you that I am not lying.”
“You know I have a girlfriend? How am I supposed to explain my sudden engagement to a mudblood?”
That word! Every time it slipped his lips so easily, it slapped her in the face, smacking some sense into her. But she ignored the cries of protest of her heart and kept her head steady.
“You were cheating on her,” replied Hermione. “With me, of course. This entire time. But because of prejudices we were driven to keep it hidden and even went as far as to date other people to hide it. Now with this national muggle-born witch and wizard persecution, you were afraid for my life and the only way to grant me immunity was to marry me.”
“Are you bloody stupid?” Draco spat violently. “This will never work!”
Hermione whispered, “Malfoy, please.”
Draco massaged the back of his neck and didn’t pay any mind to Harry; his eyes were boring into Hermione. He understood, they both were desperate, they wanted to stay alive. And this was her way. Her way of surviving. Just like him during the Second War. He didn’t want anything to do with the death gang, but he had to survive. And it was the same all over again now. With the Deatheaters taking control again, he wanted to survive. So he joined his father’s pursuits. The anxious girl before him was just like him. Survival is what made them the same, connected them in a way.
What will happen to his survival if he gave in to help and marry her?
“Please, Malfoy. I know, I know I am asking a lot of you, but…I just don’t know what to do anymore. Don’t do this out of debt or because you feel as if you have an obligation to us. If you were to do this, do it from the bottom of your heart where there has to some goodness left.”
Goodness? He almost wanted to laugh. He was never good no, but… when she said that, he wanted to sweep her off her feet. No one ever viewed him like that. He was labeled evil by everyone, even his own friends. Draco played his expected role with harsh mannerism and ruthless bullying. Maybe it was time for some goodness. Deep in his heart, unconsciously, he wanted to prove Hermione right. He made his decision quickly, he was going to do it.
After some silence, Hermione spoke.
“You don’t have to, Malfoy, just know that. I don’t want to force you into any of this, but…” Hermione choked back sobs. "I need your help."
He replied indifferently, “I know. I’ve got my free will, you don’t need to tell me that, Granger. But I’ve already made my decision.”
“So, will you marry me?” asked Hermione weakly.
Draco watched the woman in front of him, desperation written all over her and agreed with a smirk, “’Till Death Do Us Part, Granger.”
A/N: I think the common knowledge is Harry saved Draco’s life in the Room of Requirement. But there is actually a second time when Draco was arguing with a Deatheater who was pretty much threatening him, Harry stunned the Deatheater, saving Draco’s life a SECOND time. So, two times just in case anyone was like NOOOO! So, its honestly a YEESSSS lol ;)
On that note, please review <3
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