Draco sat on the couch reading the Daily Prophet when he heard her. The stomping, the heavy breathing, the audible scowling, all the sounds of a bride on the edge of heaven. "I can see you're excited about trying on dresses today," he said, not looking up from the paper.
"Is there any rule that says I can't wear a pantsuit down the aisle?"
"Oh, look at this. Florean Fortescue's opening up another branch in Hogsmeade," he said absently.
"I thought I was supposed to be blushing? Isn't that what brides do? Because I'm not blushing. I'm sweating. I'm sweating and I'm leaking. I'm a leaking bride," she said, examining an imaginary wet dot forming on her blouse. "Maybe I should cancel. Mirum's going to need her diaper changed in another couple of hours, and I just started Game of Thrones. I have a feeling Ned Stark's going to be the new king of Westeros, and I don't want to miss that. Sean Bean is a national treasure."
Licking his finger, he turned the page. "You're not canceling. You're not leaking. And you're not wearing a pantsuit to our wedding."
The Floo erupted and out strolled Blaise Zabini, dressed to the nines in a pale blue suit with a hot pink pocket square peeking out of the fabric. It shouldn't have worked, but with the cut, fabric, and Blaise's general je ne sais quoi, it was a masterfully constructed outfit. "Sorry I'm late."
"Hey, Blaise. Sorry, I didn't know you were coming. I'm just heading out," Hermione said.
"No, my dear. We are just heading out." Blaise grinned, tugging on the lapels of his jacket. His grin slipped as he examined her. "That's what you're wearing?"
Hermione turned to her fiancé, who had yet to look up from his paper. "Draco? Explanation, please?"
"Blaise is coming with you," he said in an even, almost bored drawl.
"Uh…no thank you. Next, please."
"Look," Draco put the paper down and looked up at her with a serious explanation. "You know I love you, but you do have a tendency to choose clothes that are…" He appeared to be selecting his words carefully. "They're…somewhat less than…well…"
Blaise saved him. "You dress like a constipated Auror, which oddly kind of works for you, but this is the most important day of your life. You have to look like a girl for once."
"I…" Hermione opened her mouth, but nothing came out. "Draco?"
"I love you."
Blaise snickered, prompting a gravelly 'harrumph' from Hermione. "I don't need your help, Blaise."
"Hey, don't take it personally. I help all my female friends find wedding dresses. It's kind of a genius of mine."
"He's not lying. He is weirdly brilliant at it," Draco said.
"So, here's what I'm thinking," Blaise, said, rubbing his chin while he looked her up and down. "This is your first wedding—"
"—And last—" Draco said.
"—so, you're probably going to want to try on a princess dress. Resist that urge. You're a fully-grown, sophisticated...ish adult woman and this isn't a quinceañera."
"Oh, you know what, that reminds me," Draco said, chiming in. "She should stay away from any kind of beading. With her anxiety, she'll start to pick at it halfway through the ceremony, and we've both got elderly aunts. We can't have that sort of slipping hazard."
Blaise nodded. "Agreed. That said, she's definitely going to want to go with an A-line cut. We need to bring focus to her waist and distract from the hips."
"Excuse me?" Hermione's hands flew to said hips.
Blaise continued. "We want the guests wondering 'How did she lose the baby weight so quickly?' So, we'll also want to stay away from satin. After ten hours on her feet, that won't wrinkle pretty."
"She's right here," Hermione said, glowering.
"Oh, oh, oh," Draco said, just remembering something. "Will you find her something that shows off her décolletage? No one will notice the fabric, trust me."
"You're not wrong. That's one part of the post-baby body that no one can complain about."
"Hey." Hermione was done listening to the men discuss her dress options without her input. She inhaled deeply before speaking. "Thank you, Blaise, but I won't be needing your help. Ginny's coming with me, so…thanks anyway."
"Ah, yes. The Weaselette," Blaise said, brushing a speck of imaginary dust off his sleeve. "It's been taken care of."
Hermione blinked several times. "What?"
"I took care of it."
"What does that mean?"
"The Weaselette is, amazingly, even more of a bloke than you are, so she's out of the question."
"Ginny is my best female friend and my maid of honor, so—"
"Forget about Ginny Potter," Blaise said. "I'm your new maid of honor."
"Weird," Draco intoned from the couch, returning to his paper.
"What did you do to Ginny?" Hermione asked.
"Don't worry about it."
"Fine." He sighed. "I might have anonymously sent her a deluxe all-inclusive package to the Niagara Falls wine country for this weekend. Everyone knows She-Weasel can't resist free wine."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Niagara Falls? Really?"
Blaise shrugged. "Have you seen the way she puts it away? There's no way she knows what it tastes like. Frankly, anything better would have been a waste of my money."
"Good one, Blaise. My mum is total lush," said Albus Potter.
All three adults turned to look at the teen who had somehow entered Malfoy Manor undetected.
He appeared not to notice three sets of raised eyebrows, all pointed at him while he unearthed an apple from his jacket, polished it on his sleeve, and took a bite. "So, where are we going first? I hear Madame Claudine has the best champagne, but Brida's Bridal has a sale."
Draco waved his hand away. "My fiancée will not be wearing something off the bloody clearance rack. Also, why do you know all this, how did you get past my wards and/or house elves, and most importantly, why are you here?"
Albus chewed thoughtfully as he answered each separate question. "Unimportant. Unimportant. And obviously, because I'm coming with her, silly."
"No, you're not," Hermione and Blaise said simultaneously.
"No offense, kid, but Hermione needs a real professional," Blaise said, gesturing to himself. "Not a snot-nosed little half-person who shares Harry Potter's DNA."
Through a mouthful of apple, Albus spoke. "Consider me a proxy for my mother. Because of your antics, Blaise, I may never see her again, so thanks for that. You kind of owe me. And pardon my French, but I would rather set myself on fire than see my best mate Scorpius's big day ruined just because Professor Granger can't pick out a nice dress."
"Um," Draco said, "technically it's not Scorpius's day—"
"Please, Mr Malfoy. The Dress Squad is talking. You're really not needed here," Albus said. He turned back to Hermione and Blaise. "By the way, I've decided that would be a good name for us. I'm sorry neither of you were consulted. Now, Hermione, are you wearing a strapless bra, by chance, or will you be needing some assistance holding them up?"
The room went silent. Draco's coffee went cold as he stared wide-eyed at the impetuous Potter-spawn his son had chosen as best friend. Blaise narrowed his eyes at the teen, disturbed at how many similarities he saw between himself as a youngster and Albus Potter.
As for Hermione, too many unexpected, unwelcome, unnecessary things had happened since she had descended the stairs minutes ago. She growled once more, feeling her hair expand as she did so. She pointed her finger at Blaise. She held it there several moments before she spoke. "I do not wear plunging necklines."
Albus snorted. "I should say not. No matter how great Kiera Knightly makes them look, you're far too busty to pull off a plunging neckline. And how would that look with an A-line dress, anyway? With your figure, there's really no other viable option."
Blaise grinned. "Albus Potter! Welcome."
Hermione glared at her fiancé, currently cowering behind his Daily Prophet he had long since finished reading. "You see what you did?"
"I love you." The paper muffled his words.
She narrowed her eyes at both Blaise and Albus. "I'm going to need a lot of champagne."
Blaise snapped his fingers and smiled widely. "That's the spirit!"
Merlin help her.