A Marriage Most Convenient

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Chapter 7: Deep thoughts about Cowards, Insecurities, and Pretending

"An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself." – Jane Austen

An engaged woman is more agreeable as long as she is satisfied, if you get my meaning, wink, wink.” – Draco Malfoy

An engaged woman can never be truly satisfied, because a ring on a finger doesn’t mean safety or security. It only means that a man thinks he now owns you.” – Hermione Granger.


Hermione felt irrevocably happy. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt this lighthearted. She glanced over at Draco, and he too had a smile on his face. “What are you thinking, Draco?” she asked, when they headed off the elevator, to walk across the lobby.

“I think I’m the luckiest man in the world tonight, and I also think that I’m glad you’re a woman of your word,” he said. “Remember, you promised to say yes, love.”

“Goodness, what did I commit myself to?” she asked.

He laced his fingers with her, in a ordinary way, and said, “A lifetime of sexual servitude, why?” He laughed, feeling blithe and content for the first time in a long time.

He also felt like a coward.

Draco Malfoy knew he was a coward, thus the reason he felt like one. He never tried to pretend otherwise. The entire way down to the ballroom, with Hermione Granger on his arm, he tried to think of a way to tell her his proposal, but no matter what he came up with in his head, nothing sounded right.

Should he say, “Listen, I’m almost thirty, you’re already thirty, so let’s grow old together. Marry me.”

Should he say, “You need money, I need to keep my money, so the perfect solution is that we marry, and both of us will have plenty of money together.”

Perhaps he should say, “I rather fancy you, and no one better has come along all these years”…no best not say that one.

The thing was, she looked so damn beautiful tonight. She kept smiling up at him. She was wearing the dress he bought her. He liked her as a person, and that hardly ever happened. All of those things combined made him feel insecure, and Draco was rarely insecure. A coward, certainly, insecure, bollocks.

Instead, he said nothing. He would wait and see what would happen, even though he knew it was the coward’s way out.

They had almost reached the doors to the ballroom when he turned to her and said, “You look beautiful tonight, Hermione. I mean that sincerely.”

That must be because beautiful equaled happiness and Hermione felt happy for the first time in a long time. Hermione hadn’t been on a date in forever, and here she was, on a date with Draco Malfoy, and she felt blissfully happy. He was being funny and charming and he was so handsome. Did she think she had a future with the man? Certainly not. Did she have regrets about the fact that she took advantage of him almost five years ago? Not really, because she got a daughter out of the deal, however, she had remorse over the fact that he would never know that Alice was his.

Hermione never thought she was a coward, and there was nothing holding her back from telling Draco about his daughter now. She was no longer married; he wasn’t married, so why not tell him.

Why not, indeed. She couldn’t tell him, because he might not forgive her, or worse case scenario, the vengeful, hateful Draco Malfoy from their past would reappear, and he might try to take Alice from her, in an act of spite, because she kept her from him all these years.

Hence, for tonight, she would dance with him, have fun, laugh at his jokes, have a drink or two, kiss him goodnight, and then in the light of day, she would go back to the real world. And she would say ‘yes’ to whatever question he asked, per his prior request. It was the least she could do, seeing that he gave her a beautiful little girl.

No, she wasn’t be a coward. No one would ever call Hermione Granger a coward. Insecure, perhaps, but not a coward.

Together they entered the ballroom, and it seemed as if they were the last to arrive. Hermione felt that everyone was watching her. It could have been her imagination, or it could have been the fact that when she walked into the ballroom on the arm of Draco Malfoy, every single person turned their heads and looked at them. She clenched her jaw, and her fingertips dug into his arm.

“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, love,” Draco hissed under his breath. “I don’t mind claw marks when they’re made in the act of love, but watch the nails before sex.”

She turned and gave him a hateful glare. “Draco,” she whispered, “why is absolutely everyone staring at us?”

“Because this little ball is being held in my honour,” he said. He smiled at a few people, nodded his head, said hello to a few others. He removed her hand from his arm, (mainly because her nails were still digging into his flesh) and grasped her hand tightly with his.

“Why is this ball being held in your honour?” she asked, as they made their way through the crowd. “I thought it was Marcus Flint’s ball”

He turned toward her slightly, laughed, and said, “Right, Marcus Flint is hosting the ball, but it’s in my honour. Hello…Miss Granger’s brain, are you in there? I already told you earlier today that tonight is the night I’m announcing my engagement.”

Hermione pulled her hand from his. “To whom? Why am I here? Draco, this isn’t some elaborate plot to embarrass me, is it?”

Before he could answer, Marcus Flint walked up to Draco, shook his hand and said, “Your stupid cousin is over there, Malfoy, with his insipid mother. I can’t wait to see their faces when you announce that you’re finally getting married.”

Hermione began to back out of the room. Marcus looked at her and said, “Well, hello there, Granger. My, you’re a beautiful sight for sore eyes. I heard you were back in England. Divorced, aren’t you?”

“Not for long,” Draco murmured under his breath.

Hermione looked at Draco, then back at Marcus, then back to Draco. “Draco Malfoy, what is going on here?”

“Ahem,” he cleared his throat. “Flint, old man, meet my fiancée, Hermione Granger.” Draco took Hermione’s hand and placed it in Marcus’ hand. Then he took a flute of champagne from a passing waiter and downed it in one drink.

“WHAT?” they said in unison, still holding hands.

“It’s the perfect solution to my problem,” Draco said, acting nonchalantly. Then he grabbed Hermione’s arm and dragged her back out of the ballroom. Once out in the hallway, he realized none of this was working out right. It was time to get serious. It was time to do what he did best…LIE.

“Listen, Hermione, remember when you promised that you would say yes to whatever I had to ask this evening,” he started.

“Yes, but,” she began. He placed a finger on her mouth. She felt like biting it off, but she closed her mouth, set her hands on her hips, and glared at him.

“How would you like to pretend, just pretend, to be my fiancée for the evening, or perhaps, for a week or two? Remember, you promised to say yes, so you really have no choice.” He gave her his best, impish grin, but she continued to glare at him, almost hatefully.

“Pretend?” she clarified.

He hated lying to her, he really did, but if he had to pretend to PRETEND, he would do it. He had every intention of really marrying Hermione Granger, but for tonight, and perhaps until he could at least make her fall in love with him, (or in ‘like and lust’, which was all he could claim at this time) he would lead her to believe it was all pretend.

He pulled her farther away from the door and said, “Here’s my proposal: There’s a nasty requirement to coming into my heritance which states I lose everything, my claim to my father’s company, my part of the Malfoy money, even Malfoy Manor someday, if I don’t marry by age thirty. If I fail to meet these requirements stated in the will, which I don’t, if I’m not married by thirty, then not only do I lose everything, but all of my part of the inheritance goes to my next youngest male cousin, whom I hate. His name is Talbert, and he’s a ponce and a prick, if you can imagine. I have no prospects for a real fiancée, so just for tonight, and maybe for the next few days, to take the pressure off of me, and until I can find a real wife, could you pretend that we’re engaged?”

“Just pretend?” Hermione asked again.

“Yes, you know, to take the pressure off me, as I stated. My parents are both here tonight, and it’s been ages since they’ve even been in the same room together, but they came together tonight to try to convince me to announce my engagement. Everyone is bothering me about this.” He was telling her the truth with this statement. He sat down on a puffy chair in the lobby.

She walked over to him, looked down, and thought that she owed him, and it was only one night, or perhaps a weekend, a week at the most, so she placed her hand on his cheek, causing his face to lift up to hers. “Are your parents divorced?” she inquired.

Her hand felt so soft and warm on his cheek. It felt more than right, better than right, whatever that meant. He nodded. “They divorced when my father went to prison, all those years ago.”

“My parents are divorced, too. My mother remarried three years ago. My father is dating a woman half his age.” She made a funny face, as if something tasted bad. He wanted to hold her tight. Why did she make him want to be romantic, nice, and a better man than he was?

“Everyone’s divorced nowadays, hence my reluctance to marry, except, I would like you to marry me, Hermione, on an imaginary bases, naturally.” Her hand had not moved from his face, and neither seemed inclined to move it anytime soon.

She was quiet, and then said, “Yes, Draco, I’ll be happy to enter into an imaginary betrothal with you. It might be fun. I’ve always wanted to see you father have a heart attack.”

“And I’ve always wanted to see Harry Potter keel over dead, so neither of us should be disappointed if we go in there and tell everyone the fake happy news,” he responded. Hermione laughed. Draco laughed back. He also took her hand, which was still on his cheek, and moved it to his mouth. He kissed her hand again. “You won’t regret it.”

“One thing,” she said, “I’ll do this, for tonight, or even a few days, if you need me to keep the ruse up, but we can’t tell Alice. I don’t want to upset her, okay?”

He nodded. He remembered what the little girl said about not wanting another father. He didn’t want to hurt her. He would have to tread lightly with her. He wouldn’t think about that tonight. He was already getting in over his head, with the lies, and with the way in which he was really beginning to feel for Hermione. To her, it would be pretend. To him, it would be real. He still had three months to make it real for her. That was plenty of time. That should be enough time to win over a little girl, too. How hard could it be to make a four year old like him?

He stood up and said, “Shall we go back in there, and announce our engagement?”

“Of course, but Draco,” she said, her hand coming to rest on his chest. He looked down at her hand, and then up into beautiful eyes. “What are you going to do when your thirtieth birthday comes around, and you’re not married yet?”

“Let me worry about that, love.” He wasn’t worried one bit.

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