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A Dowry of a Single Galleon

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Lucius Malfoy rubbed the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger and, for the fifth time in as many minutes, regretted spoiling his son to the point of absurdity. The boy in question was pacing in front of the elder Malfoy's desk, desperation warring with rage on his pale, handsome face.

"Azkaban rotted your brain, Father," Draco finally sneered. "I can't believe that you would even entertain the idea of...of...following this edict! A Marriage Law! It's ludicrous!"

"If you would sit down long enough to read this," Lucius indicated the parchment spread on the desk before him, the official seal of the Ministry of Magic stamped in shimmering blue-green ink at the bottom. "You would see that we have no choice."

Draco threw himself into a chair and glared at his father. "I don't want to marry a half-blood or...or a Mudblood!" he snapped, his grey eyes stormy with anger. "Furthermore, I don't want to be married at all!"

"Draco..." Lucius started, warningly.

"Couldn't we move or something? Russia would be nice. Or even...America! Yes, America!" He smiled brightly, convinced that emigrating to the States would solve all their problems.

"Draco, it doesn't matter if you live in Utah or Uganda, this is a joint venture with all confederations of magic around the globe, to help rebuild the wizarding community! That folly of a war decimated our ranks." Lucius stood up, quite fed up with his recalcitrant son's attitude. "If you want to continue to be allowed to practice magic and not spend the rest of your life in Azkaban for defying this new Marriage Law, and trust me...a pretty boy like you would be enormously popular with inmates and guards alike...you'd better set forth to find yourself a half-blood or Muggle-born witch to marry!"

Draco's mouth had popped open in shock at his father's blunt tone. He colored fiercely as the elder wizard's words penetrated his fury. He looked so dejected that Lucius softened in compassion. He walked around the corner of his desk and lay a hand on Draco's slender shoulder.

"I know that it rankles and goes against everything I've ever imparted to you, but Draco, in these times, we must make concessions and sacrifices." He sighed, as Draco's expression hardened mutinously.

"But, Father..."

"No buts, Draco. You're twenty-one. You have to marry or we risk losing not only everything our family has worked centuries to accumulate, but your freedom as well. Surely, it won't be so terrible to find a pretty, empty-headed young woman to marry?"

Draco looked up at him, daring to hope. "You mean, I can choose my own bride?"

Lucius nodded. "You may, but only if you do so before your next birthday. If you haven't found one by then, the Ministry will choose one for you."

Draco had sudden visions of being betrothed to someone completely unsuitable, like one of those Patil sisters or, worse yet, Hermione Granger. He cringed at the very thought of it. At least, if he had a choice, he could pick a witch who would be easily controlled and as beautiful as possible for a Muggleborn.

He slumped back in the chair and looked up at his father's relieved face. "Fine. I don't like this and don't think for a minute that, once I'm shackled to the bitch, I'm not going to go out and shag every witch in the Northern Hemisphere!"

"Draco, I don't care if you shag them a half-dozen at a time, just find one to marry!"

*****

Three months later...

Flourish and Blotts was teeming with students buying their textbooks for the upcoming term at Hogwarts. Draco escaped to his favorite spot in the crowded bookstore, the second balcony overlooking the main floor. It was off-limits to all Hogwarts students; this was the floor where the more esoteric and prurient volumes were shelved.

With a quick look around, he selected a large book, bound in dark green dragon-hide. Innocent-looking enough. Inside however, every page depicted erotic illustrations of sexual acts that shocked even him, and he was no virgin. He was staring at a particularly lewd one, imagining his future, faceless wife in just this sort of position, when a familiar voice, a hated voice full of dour contempt, interrupted his pleasant fantasy.

"Malfoy."

Draco gritted his teeth, digging deep for non-existent patience. He turned slowly, leaving the book open and plainly visible. His lips curled up, sneering in pure reflex to her presence. Only that expression slipped, just a little, when he found himself facing Hermione Granger for the first time since they'd left Hogwarts, almost four years ago.

She'd grown up and out and Draco couldn't stop staring at her and he knew, subconsciously, that he must look quite the fool, with his mouth hanging open like he'd never seen a woman before. Four years had done wonders for Granger. Not much taller than she was at seventeen - she looked as if she'd just reach his shoulders - she had most definitely blossomed into an exceptionally pretty young woman. She was dressed simply in jeans and a snug, red jumper that showed off the plump, creamy tops of her breasts.

Time hadn't dulled her loathing for him though and he could see her brown eyes flashing with it. He managed to hitch his mouth up into a smirk and he narrowed his eyes, trying to focus on her pursed lips instead of the best set of tits he'd seen in years.

"Granger. I thought I smelled a Mudblood." He grinned as the dislike in her eyes intensified. He dipped the book in her direction and she looked down. Her face instantly flamed as she saw the erotic picture displayed on the page. Draco laughed.

"Still the timid little virgin, are we? What, Granger, can't find a pureblood wizard who'll have you?" he crowed, slamming the book shut and tossing it aside. It landed on the floor with a muted thump. The young witch managed to look affronted on the book's behalf.

Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and his eyes dropped immediately back to the delectable expanse of cleavage she unwittingly put on display. He licked his lips and leered at her. She shook her head in exasperation. "I actually came up here to say hello. I saw you walk past and I...well, it's been long enough that I thought perhaps you'd grown up and could carry on a decent conversation. I see now that I was gravely mistaken. Good day, Malfoy."

With a prim shake of her curly head, she spun on her heel and started back down the stairs. Draco took a single step forward and snagged her wrist in his hand. "Wait a minute, Granger. I'm not done with you."

The stairs were narrow and steep and Hermione wouldn't be able to pull away without risking a tumble. She settled for giving him her most scathing glare. "Let. Me. Go."

"Settle down, Granger. I'm not going to hurt you." Draco's slow smile promised that he'd do just precisely that, if left to his own devices. He tugged on her arm and she grudgingly took the two steps back up to the balcony. Once on level ground, she yanked her hand free and in a smooth motion he completely missed, since his eyes were still locked on her breasts, she had her wand out and tucked under his left ear.

Draco froze and slowly lifted his grey eyes to her brown ones. She smiled coldly. "It'll be a frigid day in hell before you get the jump on me again, Malfoy."

He was shaking in rage. "You'd know a little something about frigidity, wouldn't you, Granger?" The tip of her wand pressed into the soft hollow under his earlobe and he grimaced.

"I'm the one with the wand, Malfoy, and if I were you, I'd back away nice and slow and maybe I'll leave your bollocks attached."

He laughed, humorlessly. "If you're gonna hex my bollocks off, you're pointing in the wrong direction."

Again, she gave him that cold, bitter smile. "I've been told I'm the cleverest witch of my generation, Malfoy. I don't need to point my wand at something to make it vanish."

His stomach plummeted to the approximate location of his ankles and he narrowed his eyes in fury. Taking a step back, he raised his hands in surrender, wondering idly if he could reach his own wand in the time it would take her to utter a curse. He decided it wasn't worth the ample risk. He saw the hand holding her wand tremble, slightly, and he smiled cruelly.

"You're twenty-one, aren't you? And no ring to be seen." Another step back and he began to regain his equilibrium. "Weasley wouldn't have you? Oh, wait! He's betrothed to Lavender Brown, isn't he? Surely one of the other Weasley simpletons would take pity on you and ask for your muddy hand in marriage."

She was paling with every word and he forged on, the stinging words spilling forth now. "Let's review: Ron is betrothed, the twin birdbrains scored with Spinnet and Johnson, the long-haired one married that Delacour bint, Percy the Perfect Prat married Penny Clearwater..."

Hermione was shaking now, her eyes blazing in a face that was white with rage. Her reaction was more satisfying than anything he'd ever inspired from her before. "Isn't there another one? Plays with dragons?"

"Charlie." Her voice was tight and near tears, even though her eyes were still dry.

"Ah, yes! Charlie Weasley. Arguably the smartest of the bunch, since he fled half-way 'cross Europe to escape his family. I'm surprised he didn't claim you." Draco's smile was smug, since he knew full well that Charlie Weasley was unavailable.

Hermione blinked once and tears shimmered in her eyes. "Charlie just asked for Nymphadora Tonks. You know that; it was all over the Prophet," she snarled. "Plus, she's your family."

"So it was. Must've slipped my mind. And, sorry, we don't claim blood traitors as family," he said with distaste.

"You're a bastard, Malfoy."

Draco's eyes glittered dangerously. "No, Granger, my parents are most assuredly wed. I wonder who the Ministry will find for you? I hear MacNair's son Prentice is still looking for a mudblood to marry. Maybe I'll mention it to the Minister the next time Father has him over for dinner."

At the mention of the despised former Death Eater's name, Hermione felt the blood rush to her face and she couldn't hear over the roaring in her ears. With a cry of rage that was drowned out by the noise of the crowded bookstore, she drew her hand back to slap Draco.

In mid-swing, he grabbed her wrist and spun her around, knocking over a high stack of books and sending Hermione to the floor atop them. He half-crouched over her, pushing his face right up to hers, nose to nose, his fingers digging into the bones of her wrist. She recoiled from him and he blinked in surprise at the fear in her face.

"I let you get away with that in third year, Mudblood! No more! You try to assault me one more time and I'll see you in Azkaban!" he warned, twisting her wrist hard enough to make her cry out. "Say you're sorry or I'll break your wrist."

"I'm sorry!" she spat, kicking out at him. He dodged her foot and let her go, pulling out of range of her fists. A mocking smile graced his handsome face and he stared down at her, as she angrily swiped at the tears streaming down her face. For the briefest of moments, Draco felt...something. Something other than the hatred and resentment that had followed them through seven years at Hogwarts.

Shaking his head, he pushed those thoughts right out of his mind. He'd not let this insignificant little tart rattle him. He was a Malfoy, for the love of Merlin! If anyone should be rattled, it should be her!

"I'd say it was good seeing you, Granger, but we both know that'd be a lie." Draco stooped down and picked up the book of erotic pictures he'd tossed aside earlier. She watched him with dull fury. "This may come in handy some day."

He whistled to himself as he bounced down the steps, leaving behind an enraged Hermione Granger.

*****

In the short span of time that it took Draco to stop in Quality Quidditch Supplies and Florean Fortescue's for an ice cream, then Apparate home, he'd come to a decision that, for him, was bordering on deranged. But, the delicious irony of it appealed greatly to him.

And, really, she had turned out quite fetching. He could swallow his pride just long enough to keep her pregnant; once or twice a month should get the job done. With those magnificent tits, it wouldn't exactly be a hardship. He dropped his purchases at the foot of the stairs for the house-elves to carry to his room, then went in search of his parents.

Lucius and Narcissa were sitting in the conservatory, drinking tea and sharing the Evening Prophet. Draco stopped in the doorway and smiled brightly at them.

"I've made my choice, Father," he said, even as that niggling voice in the back of his head was telling him to slow the hell down. He squashed that niggling voice with his metaphorical bootheel as Lucius looked up in surprise. He exchanged a brief glance with his wife.

"Who have you selected, Draco darling? Do we know her?" Narcissa asked, setting aside the society pages. Draco's smile was full of arrogant self-confidence.

"I want Hermione Granger."