Draco Malfoy sat at the table in the large dining room in Malfoy Manor. He was enjoying his morning coffee before he headed off to work at the Ministry of Magic. It was his usual morning routine. He would wake earlier than his darling, pristine wife, dress for a day at the office, and head down to the dining room, where the house-elves would have his morning coffee ready and waiting. He glanced down at his wristwatch, waiting for the usual Daily Prophet delivery owl to appear with his morning copy. It seemed to be running a bit later than usual, but Draco gave it no mind. He still had approximately an hour or so before he had to leave for work. He heard the sounds of his wife of one year shuffling her way into the dining room. He glanced up and gave her the briefest polite smile of greeting before glancing towards the window. A great tawny owl swooped in through the open window and perched on the back of the dining chair just to Draco's side. He took the newspaper attached to its ankle and put eight knuts into a small pouch attached to the post owl's leg. He sighed a bit as he watched another post owl swoop into the room and fly over to his wife. She retrieved the letter attached to the owl's leg and it flew off without waiting for any sort of reply or owl treat. Just as Draco was about to turn his attention to the newest edition of the Daily Prophet, his wife squealed with glee. He looked up at her with slight interest.
"Oh, darling. We've been invited to attend Potter's wedding!" She started rattling on about the possible outfits she could wear as Draco reflected on her words. Potter was getting married? He hadn't even known that Harry was seeing anyone. He couldn't help wondering who this mystery bride was. Harry had kept this secret well since it had yet to appear in the Daily Prophet that Potter was spoken for. As he continued to wonder who the bride was, he flipped open the Daily Prophet, and that was when he received his answer.
'Boy Who Lived to Wed Childhood Sweetheart
by Rita Skeeter
Harry Potter, the boy who lived, and now the man who vanquished the Dark Lord, announced yesterday that he and his childhood sweetheart, Ginevra Weasley, daughter of the Minister for Magic Arthur Weasley, are to be married. Mr. Potter has brilliantly been able to conceal this secret engagement for just over five months, as he later divulged to this reporter.'
Draco could feel the colour drain from his face as he read those words. Potter was marrying Ginny... His Ginny... He glanced up at his wife who was berating a house elf for appearing in her presence without being called for, and he realized for the first time in a long time, that Ginny had never belonged to him, ever. He had held her heart for a time, but it was his own fault that he was stuck with the obnoxious brunette sitting at the other end of the table. He had shattered Ginny's heart and she had moved on and with Potter no less. He supposed he shouldn't have been surprised. He turned back to the article to read more.
' "I always knew that I would marry Ginny, ever since I met her wonderful family. It was just a matter of time. I asked her five months ago and she accepted without pause. Understandably, we've kept our engagement quiet, as her sister-in-law, Hermione Granger-Weasley, has just given birth to the youngest Weasley. We didn't want to steal the limelight away from her of course. Ginny and I are soul mates and there was no question that we wouldn't ever get married." '
Draco snorted and stopped reading, doubting very much that those were Potter's exact words. Rita Skeeter's notorious acid-green Quick Quotes Quill always exaggerated every account it came into contact with and the woman did have the obnoxious habit of making things up as well. Frustrated with everything, Draco tossed the paper onto the table, determined not to look at the photograph of Potter and his future bride. It was hard enough when he let her go the first time. He had always thought that maybe one day, he would go back to her, but he never had. He wasn't as thick as Potter or Ron Weasley. He saw what it had done to her when he refused to even acknowledge her when he turned on the Death Eaters. He had seen the pain in her eyes as she watched him marry another woman, even though she had tried her best to look happy for him. He had been a horrible, selfish prat and there was nothing he could do about it now.
"I'll pick up some nice dress robes for you while I'm in Diagon Alley today. It really was quite rude of them to give such short notice." Draco rolled his eyes as he listened to her go on about Potter's special treatment and how he seemed to expect everyone to bend to his will. He couldn't exactly disagree with what she was saying but he simply didn't have any interest in it at the moment.
"Today, of all days... They could have at least sent the invitations out a week ahead of time. That would have been a bit more considerate than sending it the day of. Every intelligent woman should know that invitations should be sent out months ahead of time. It doesn't say much for this Weasley girl that she would send them today."
"Today? Did you say it was today?"
"Yes. They apparently wanted to keep it as quiet as possible. You know how the press is, darling. I don't really blame them in the least but the least they could have - Where are you going?"
Draco had stood up from the table and almost managed to slip away while his wife was distracted by her own constant babble. He cursed himself inwardly as he turned and looked at the expectant brunette. He could see that she was waiting for an explanation.
"I was just... Well, I figured I should head out early and pick up a wedding gift for them. I know their tastes and you do not. Don't worry about the dress robes. I'm sure I have something I have yet to wear in my closet." Draco sighed with relief as his bride seemed to accept the poor excuse. The truth was that he just needed to get away from her. He left the dining room and headed immediately to his office to write an owl to his boss. He was sure that since he was such a good friend of the Minister's family that Shacklebolt would have no problem letting him off for the day.
"Oy, mate!" Draco turned around and stared at the fireplace as the head of Harry Potter appeared. "I hope you don't mind the last minute request, but I was hoping that you would be able to stand up with me at the wedding. Ginny's insisting that she have Hermione and Luna, so I need a second man, and I thought maybe you would be interested in helping me out. Just mention it to Kingsley and he'll let you have the day off."
"Actually, I was just about to owl him about that... So, you and Ginny? I suppose I should have expected that." Draco spoke with more venom than he had meant to.
"You're the one who let her go. She moved on. Don't get mad at me because you left her behind. That was your choice."
"You don't think I know that?" Draco turned away from the floo and leaned slightly over his desk.
"I know, under the circumstances, it's a lot to ask, but I was hoping you would stand up with me."
Draco looked up from his desk and stared out the window. Potter was right when he had said that it was a lot to ask. He wasn't so sure that given the chance, he wouldn't grab Ginny and run away with her. He wasn't sure he could stand there and watch her marry another man, but he was foolish if he thought the day would never come. He had only hoped that he would never hear about it. "I don't know, Potter. You're asking too much of me..."
"You've only yourself to blame. Forget I asked." It was the last thing Potter had said before his head disappeared from the floo and the fire died. Draco threaded his fingers through his hair as he tried to forget the past hour. He knew that this was it and there was no turning back. He was married to a woman he could barely stand while the woman he loved was about to marry someone else. Potter was right. He truly had brought it on himself. His head started to fill with "if onlys" and "what ifs". He knew he needed to get some air.
Draco stepped out onto the balcony leading from his office and stared out into the bright blue sky that seemed to be mocking him with its cheerfulness. He glared out into nothingness, finding anything to blame but himself for his current situation. This was it. She was gone for good and there was nothing he could say or do to get her back. He was married and she was about to marry someone who was truly worthy of her. As much as he hated to admit it, if she was going to marry someone else, he knew Potter was the best man for her. Sighing slightly as he looked out onto the grounds of Malfoy Manor, he decided that there was nothing left that he could do. He had made his bed and he had to lie in it. Ginny deserved to be happy, and if Potter could be the one, then he had to accept it. This was truly the end to whatever chance he may have ever had with Ginny.
Draco glanced sadly around the property as he accepted the fate he had chosen for himself.