All characters belong to JK Rowling and I make no money from the writing or publishing of this story. Thank you.
Chapter 2 – The one where everyone pairs off into sets of twos
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when alteration finds?
On the other hand, bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempest and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth is unknown, although his heights be taken.
Surely, Hermione Granger was in some type of altered state – a parallel universe – in which she wasn't participating, but was only observing. Observing closely beside her was one Draco Malfoy. In fact, he had barely left her side since all of the guests had arrived.
The strange motley crew had moved from the main parlor to the outside terrace just beyond the French doors, and they now included Ron's daughter Rose, a beautiful fifteen-year-old redhead, and his ex-wife, a gifted scholar named Susan Bones.
Both of these newcomers looked as uncomfortable and out of place as Hermione felt. Fortunately, the little play they found themselves enacting was now being deftly directed, not by the bride to be, but by Pansy Parkinson.
Pansy was flitting from guest to guest, making certain everyone had drinks in hands, tidbits of juicy morsels on which to snack, and tidbits of juicy conversation in which to gossip. She was standing before everyone as if she were on a stage, regaling the guests with funny anecdotes and stories. When Astoria suggested everyone return to the parlor to await dinner, Pansy smiled widely, threw her arms in the air, made the statement, "Isn't it such a fine evening?" and before everyone knew it, the house elves were preparing the guests to eat 'al fresco'.
Draco sidled up to Hermione's left side. "Isn't she charming, little lion?"
"Who?" Hermione asked in disgust. She knew whom he meant. Every man on the patio, including the prospective groom, was staring at Pansy as if she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Not one of them could hide their admiration for the vibrant witch.
Draco knocked his arm into hers, causing her to slosh some of her gin and tonic on her hand. "Jealousy does not become you, Granger. On you, it merely causes you to look a bit green around the gills."
Turning toward the insult, she glared at Malfoy and said, "Don't you have a fiancée? Shouldn't you be either bothering her, or lavishing praise upon her? You may take your pick, but leave me alone." She turned away from the entire scene and started walking down a cobbled stone path that led to a lower garden.
Draco fell into step behind her. "And who might my fiancée be, little lion?"
Hermione turned quickly and incredulously said, "The woman you arrived with? Ginny Weasley!"
He barked out a loud laugh, spilling a bit of his own drink this time. "Where did you get the idea that I'm engaged to the youngest Weasley?"
She stared at him for a good five seconds and then said, "Roger…"
"Is an idiot, yes, I agree," he finished her sentence. "No, my dear, sweet Granger, I'm not engaged to the ginger-headed she-weasel. Goodness. That's priceless. No wonder you haven't married Davies yet. He's a moron. Where does he get his information?"
"But, but even Harry, well, even he assumed that you were engaged to her," she sputtered. She placed her glass on the ground and shook her head in shock.
He finished the golden-amber liquid in his glass, placed it on the ground next to hers, and replied, "That's what she wanted Scarboy to think, and I didn't see the harm, because goodness knows I could care less what Potter believes, but I don't want you to think it." He shivered. "The thought of me and her actually gives me the willies. It's almost as sick as the thought of you and her brother together."
"I really was engaged to Ron for a while," Hermione offered, eyes mere slits, her gaze on him intent and full of warning. She waited to see what he would say, although she knew he already knew that.
Instead of responding, he shivered again. She pulled back her hand and punched his shoulder as hard as she could. Placing his right hand on his left shoulder, he rubbed his injury and moaned, "Always so violent. You were always so violent and your gaze is equally alarming. Nevertheless, seriously, I am here to FIND a wife myself this week. That's the only reason I'm here. She-weasel and I decided we would come together and we would both get something out of the deal. She would make Potter jealous for some reason… perhaps she wants him back, she seems insane enough to want such a thing, and I will find a wife."
Again, she regarded him through narrow lashes. "What do you mean… find a wife?"
He walked up to her, threw an arm around her shoulder, and forced her to start walking with him. As they walked, he said, "Well, how shall I explain. A wife is a person with whom a man marries so he can procreate, recreate, and fornicate, but not particularly in that order."
She pushed him away from her. "You swine. I know what a wife is! I meant, why do you need to find one? You already had one once, and that didn't last, so why do it again?"
Leaning against a column of a gazebo, he countered, "Just because you don't view marriage as something favourable doesn't mean we all think its rot. I happened to want to be married again. I married very young the first time, and I'd like to have more children. My son is getting older, and soon he'll be on his own. Plus, my old man said he'd disinherit me if I don't produce at least one or two more." He smiled at her and then winked.
"I don't even know what to make of that statement," she answered, shaking her head in disgust and confusion. She leaned against the opposite post. "And for your information, Mr. 'I Want a Wife', I don't view marriage with disdain. I'm engaged to be married, aren't I?"
He leaned forward, grabbed her hand, looked at her engagement ring, dropped her hand and said, "Are you? You've been engaged for a while, and this isn't exactly your first go at it. I say either you're not serious about it, or you've yet to find the right man."
She opened her mouth to give him a scathing retort, but closed it promptly. Pushing off his post, he leaned close again and said, "I say you're in the running, lion."
She frowned and glared at him again. Placing her hands upon his chest to push him away, she complained, "You're too close, and I'm not running. What does that even mean? Do you mean that I'm running away from marriage?"
He wrinkled his nose (which Hermione actually found endearing) and then captured her hands upon his chest with one of his. The smile left his face and he proposed, "Clean out your ears, brave lion. I didn't say you were running away from anything. I said you were IN the running. Yes. You're in the running." Raising his free hand, he brushed the back of his knuckles down her cheek lightly, causing the next breath she exhaled to come out disjointed and ragged.
Only a hairsbreadth away, he leaned just a fraction closer still and said in her ear, "In fact, you're my number one choice right now, before Pansy, so chin up, lion."
Then he did something that almost made her knees buckle, and DID make her blush, although she hated the thought of it. He grasped one of her hands that was underneath his on his chest, brought it up to his mouth, and just when she thought he was going to press a kiss on the top, he used HIS fingers to unroll her fingers, and he pressed a kiss to her palm. HER PALM! How interesting. How intoxicating. How erotic. Her Palm? Yes, her palm.
The kiss was unhurried and calculated. His mouth was warm on the inside of her hand. She felt a slight wetness, a single kiss, a breath, and then bereavement when it was done.
While he kissed her palm, he maintained eye contact with her – silver eyes meeting brown eyes – and it was surprisingly passionate. Warmth spread from Hermione's palm to her entire body. It was as if her entire world tilted to another angle. The altered universe righted itself, and the antithesis of what she THOUGHT she wanted and what she suddenly knew she wanted was staring her straight in the face, and it was silver eyes meeting brown and a single little kiss on the palm, thank you very much.
But this was Draco Malfoy!
But she was engaged to someone else!
He lowered her hand, but kept her gaze, so she couldn't help but notice his long lashes, his strong chin, his thick hair, his fine shoulders, and his straight nose.
And this was Draco Malfoy!
And she was engaged to someone else!
And she was 'in the running'!
He dropped her hand completely and without further ado, he walked away, leaving her leaning against the column of the gazebo. He didn't need to speak. His actions spoke louder than words. When she finally had the wherewithal to push away from the column (her legs no longer like jelly), she walked over to where they left their glasses, picked them up, and walked back toward the others, using a different path than he used.
Neither of them noticed Draco's son sitting on a swing in the shadows of the gazebo, having witnessed the entire exchange.
Susan Bones sat away from the small crowd on another patio, a book of Shakespeare's sonnets on a small table in front of her. She wasn't sure why she was invited to come here this week. Although she was on good terms with her ex-husband, Ron, she didn't really like the woman he was marrying. She supposed she came for her daughter, Rose. Rose disliked Astoria, and she especially disliked Astoria's son, Scorpius Malfoy.
At least she pretended that she did. Susan rather thought, to paraphrase the Bard of Avon, her daughter 'doth protest too much'. She thought Rose had a slight 'crush' on the young Malfoy, and the thought that he might soon be her stepbrother was a blow to the young girl's sensibilities. Speaking of which, Susan looked up from her reading to look for her daughter, but instead spied a handsome man with black, unruly hair and green eyes heading her way.
Taking a fortifying breath, and clutching her book of Shakespeare sonnets in her hands, she waited for Harry Potter to approach.
For some reason Harry Potter always unnerved Susan. It was as if every time he stared at her, he was trying to dissect her, figure her out, discover her secrets, when in truth – she was a simple person. She had no secrets. She was honest and straightforward. She knew she wasn't beautiful or alluring to men, but she was smart and intelligent. That was enough for her. She didn't need a man to tell her 'little lies' or call her beautiful, when she knew she wasn't, and she certainly didn't need Harry Potter to scrutinize everything she said and did.
Yet each time they were together, he found the need to compliment her for some reason. It was maddening!
She didn't know why he constantly badgered her and bothered her every time they were together! He probably felt sorry for her – felt as if she couldn't find a man or something – as if she was the type of woman to be defined by a man! She didn't need a man! That was why she divorced Ron! Anyway, Harry Potter could get any woman he wanted, so why was he constantly bothering her? He even brought Pansy Parkinson here this weekend. She was beautiful, entertaining, and outgoing… everything that Susan was not.
In fact, she didn't even like the man.
Harry watched Susan Bones as she sat by herself around a small wrought-iron table on a smaller patio near the front of the house. She had a book in front of her and she was writing something on a piece of parchment. He wondered why she was here this week. Why had Ron invited her? He started toward her, all the while realizing what an alarmingly beautiful woman she really was, yet she didn't realize it, or rather, she didn't care.
She always wore her hair either back in a plait or on top of her head. Today she wore it down around her shoulders. It looked nice that way. She wore glasses (which Harry didn't mind, since so did he), but according to Ron, she only needed them for reading, yet she wore them all the time, usually on top of her head, instead of on her nose where they belonged. She didn't dress to impress. Today she was wearing a plain white sundress and Harry imagined removing it slowly so he could peek at the woman underneath.
She was the quintessential Ravenclaw: smart, bookish, intellectual, unmoving in her beliefs. She was similar to Hermione in many ways, but unlike Hermione (whom Harry loved like a sister), Susan Bones seemed delicate and refined and too feminine for someone like Harry. In other words, she was too GOOD for someone like Harry Potter.
She looked up at him, a blush staining her cheek, and he almost ached for her deep in his heart…deep in his soul. Her disinterest and dislike of him was always evident, and it always made him feel like a fool, yet when Ron mentioned that she was coming here this week, Harry had to come as well, even though he wanted to avoid Ginny.
"Hello, Susan. I've not seen you for so long. You look wonderful," Harry said with a sincerity that always made Susan's heart skip a beat, as much as it made her guarded and confused. "Your dress is pretty."
Susan frowned. She wasn't sure why. She looked down at her plain, white dress and she knew it wasn't as fancy or ornate as the dresses the other women were wearing, so why did he feel the need to mention it?
She looked back up at him, nodded, and merely said, "Harry." Swallowing, she placed her book on the chair beside her chair when she realized Harry was about to sit next to her, forcing him to move slightly further away on to the next chair. "I hear congratulations are in order. As soon as I arrived, Ron informed me that you were engaged to Pansy Parkinson. I have to admit that I was a bit shocked." She looked down at her hands in her lap. Good. They weren't shaking.
"Were you now?" Harry looked around the small patio. It was far enough away from the others that they couldn't hear the intimate conversation he shared with her, but HE could hear the mirth and laughter of the others as they sat around eating, drinking, and acting merry at the large table down below.
Susan didn't respond. Did he think she would? How stupid of him if he did. Instead, she picked up her book and started to read.
He took the book right out of her hands and moved deftly from his seat to the seat beside her. He would let her believe he was engaged to Pansy for a while, and then tell her the truth later. "Always so serious," he said quietly, as if he were making a comment – an observation – that was only for his own ears. "Sometimes I think you read more than Hermione does. Why are you up here reading when everyone else is down there enjoying themselves?"
"Ron asked me to find some suitable Shakespeare quotes for his vows. The theme of the wedding is 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' you know."
Harry laughed, handed the book back to her, and took the time to scoot the chair even closer. Crossing his feet at the ankles, he said, "Oh yes, I know. How stupid."
She gasped. "You think Shakespeare is stupid?" She turned in her chair and stared at him intently, her eyes round and her mouth open in shock.
He turned to her, realizing his blunder. She was a professor of Shakespeare at the premier Wizarding College in England. "That's not what I meant. I meant it was stupid for them to have a theme at this farce of a wedding. Then again, perhaps not. Perhaps picking one of Shakespeare's farces, his comedies, would be more appropriate, don't you think?"
Sticking her nose back in the book she said, "I have no opinion on the matter. Ron and Astoria can do whatever they'd like. It's their wedding. Now, if you'll excuse me." Picking up a quill, she leaned over somewhat and started to transcribe a passage on a small piece of parchment that lay on the table to her left.
Harry looked at her and smiled. Since she was looking away from him, he could study her at his leisure. He always thought Susan was pretty. Her hair was a chestnut brown with reddish-brown highlights. It wasn't as dark as Hermione's hair, and the streaks of red were nowhere as ginger as Ginny's locks – in fact, Susan's auburn highlights only came out in the sunlight. It was very sunny today.
She had green eyes, just like him. They were a sort of amber colour in the middle, and they appeared green on the outside rims. She wore glasses most of the time, like him, but right now, her glasses were sitting on the top of her head. He remembered one time she couldn't find her glasses and he pointed out that they were right there… on top of her shoulder-length, chestnut coloured hair.
And for the life of him, he didn't know why she never liked him. They went to school together, and although she was in Ravenclaw and he was in Gryffindor, for some reason, she never liked him. She fought with them in the DA during the fall of Voldemort, and when Hermione broke it off with Ron, Susan seemed to be a natural replacement. For some reason, Harry resented that in the beginning, so he was naturally a bit cold toward her at first, but he had tried over the last fifteen years to make it up to her, but to no avail.
Harry was even her daughter's godfather. He loved Rose like his own. Goodness, he wanted a houseful of children just like Rose… pretty, smart, sweet. He wouldn't even mind a wife like Susan. Suddenly, he frowned. Where did that thought come from, he wondered? He cleared his throat. "So tell me, Susan, have you had much luck finding an appropriate sonnet for Ron to recite at his wedding?" He leaned closer to look over her shoulder at the book, which she now had opened, his arm next to her arm as it lay on the table.
She stopped writing, dropped the quill on the parchment and sat upright, never imagining that he was THAT close until she felt the breath of each word he spoke against her cheek. Then, she felt the warmth of his body, his shoulder and arm touching hers, his shadow falling over the book on the table. It was as if he was guarding her, and it made her feel lightheaded and protected. She leaned away faintly, feeling off kilter by his closeness. "There are so many," she finally replied.
"You have one marked, I see," he observed, touching the book with his finger, letting it drift over the passage on the page, then drift just the same over the top of her hand as it rested on the opposite page. Did he even know what such an innocent touch did to her? "Is that the one you were transcribing?"
He tipped his head closer still, his larger hand resting on top of her smaller hand on the right side of the book, his shoulder and chest pressing against her body, his other arm going around the back of her chair, even as his cheek practically pressed into her hair. He read the passage she had marked.
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when alteration finds?
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempest and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth is unknown, although his heights be taken."
Harry moved away, only a bit, his hand still on top of hers, and he said, "I'm not sure I know what it means, but it does mention marriage." He realized that he was practically holding her hand, this sweet, clean, wholesome woman whom he could never have, never possess. Her lips were so close to his he wanted to kiss her.
She stood suddenly, her chair scooting backwards awkwardly, the book falling to the ground. Turning, she said, "I'm sure you don't," and then she ran toward the house and out of sight.
Sighing, he bent down, picked up the book, and placed it back on the table beside the bench and then went back to join the others on the larger patio.
Rose Weasley didn't know why she had to come here this week. The fact that her father was marrying an awful woman shouldn't be a cause for celebration, but a cause for mourning! And whoever heard of a weeklong wedding celebration? However, Rose loved her father, and her mother, Susan, came along for support, so Rose agreed to come, even though she was mortally opposed to the idea of her father marrying that woman.
Who was the mother of THAT boy!
Rose Weasley HATED Scorpius Malfoy. He was rude, obnoxious, haughty, and sometimes even mean. To hear Uncle Harry talk, he acted just as his father did in school. Mostly, it irked Rose to think that Scorpius was smart as her. His grades rivaled her own. He was in Slytherin, she was in Ravenclaw, and they were constantly battling each other for top spot in their classes. They were only in their fifth year, but everyone knew that by the time they were in their seventh, they would be named head boy and girl. Just thinking of being named head girl to his head boy caused her blood to boil.
He was good looking, and he knew it, too. Every girl in the school liked him, wanted him, and dreamed about him. It made Rose ill just thinking of it!
IN ADDITION, what was worst of all was that he was soon going to be her stepbrother! Thank goodness, Rose lived mostly with her mother and Scorpius lived mostly with his father. She could only hope that outside of school, during breaks and holidays, they wouldn't have to see other at all.
Rose walked away from the adults, who were acting asinine, juvenile and boring in her opinion, toward the lower gardens that supposedly, according to her father, contained a large gazebo. She would hide there until dinner was ready. Perhaps she would hide there all week.
Hiding from his mother's guests while sitting on a swing in a gazebo, Scorpius Malfoy smiled when he thought of his father and Hermione Granger together. They would make a nice couple. His father had better not mess things up. He should have kissed her lips instead of kissing her palm. Scorpius might have to help things along. He wanted his father to be happy. He only wished he could find someone better for his mother than that buffoon Ron Weasley! They weren't suited! Everyone knew that. Even though he was a pureblood, he came from nothing! His family had no money, no social standing! Sure, he helped save their world… but that wasn't enough to recommend him to marry his mother.
In addition, the biggest impediment of all, at least in Scorpius' opinion, was that he had a daughter named Rose Weasley.
Rose Weasley was the biggest swot Scorpius knew. She was like a thorn in his side that he could never remove. And he tried… seriously; he tried to remove that thorn constantly. He would tease her, bully her, occasionally he even made her cry. Yet, she came back for more. She refused to back down to him.
What peeved Scorpius the most was that the little bint was so effing pretty! She was perhaps the prettiest little swot in the whole freaking school! Her hair was ravishing! It wasn't a bright red, but a deep auburn. Her eyes were bright blue, the colour of the sky on a summer day. She always smelled so good, sweet and clean. She rarely wore makeup, so her beauty was true and real. She was smart – smarter than he was – and he hated that as well.
He hated her. He was going to have to break up his mother's engagement to Rose Weasley's father because he could NOT fathom being Rose Weasley's stepbrother. NO! Not in a million years.
Scorpius stood from his hiding place in the corner of the gazebo to go confront his mother, to set his plan in action, when he came face to face with the very girl he'd been thinking of – Rose Weasley.
Rose blinked. She seemed surprised to find him here. He thought she had a cloak of sadness around her, and he wanted to remove it. Why? Why should he care if Rose Weasley looked sad? Sad and beautiful. She was so beautiful.
Frowning, she started to turn away, but he reached out impulsively and grabbed her hand. Her breath caught in her throat when he grabbed her hand. Pulling back, she tried to remove it, but he held on tight. Long finger holding on to hers, a tingling feeling heated her body more than the warmth of the sun squinting down through the slates of the roof of the gazebo.
Neither said a word nor moved a muscle. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Scorpius realized why his father held Hermione Granger's hand, and with that realization, he shuddered and dropped her hand quickly, then walked away with a steady gait and one goal in mind. Now he knew the real reason he didn't want her for a stepsister! He liked her!
Now what was he going to do?A/N The new site is very new and the moderators inform me they are still building the site, so be patient with it. I don't know much about it, but I did promise them I would post this first there, and a day later on fanfiction. Supposedly, you still need to put the entire address in, because it's a new site (or so they tell me). so it's http : slash slash the maplebookshelf dot com slash (All run together, of course). They need writers, readers, and anyone interested in adm and moderator jobs (as I'm not.)
Thanks to Rachel for doing an awesome job of beta work on this! Thanks for pointing out the inconsistencies and for keeping this from becoming too confusing! Truly, thanks!