A/N: I know this plot has been used countless times, but I couldn't help myself. I did change the basic idea, so I hope you like it… If you do, I'll continue it. Please review!
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, the places and you may even argue that I don't own the plot!
First comes marriage, then love?
Chapter I: The Mission
Three weeks had passed since Hermione had graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and she was already walking downs its grounds again. She had received an urgent note from Dumbledore that morning, summoning her to meet him at his office.
These were difficult times, Voldemort was still at large, and more powerful by the day. The Order was doing all it could to capture him and his Death Eaters, but their task seamed impossible to accomplish. The war had been in the open for two yeas now, there was terror everywhere. Wizards and witches were afraid to leave their houses in the morning, and even more so to return in the evenings. The threat of finding the dark mark above it was greater as time went by. Even the muggles noticed weird things occurring and the Ministry had to deal with them on top of everything.
The moment Harry, Ron and Hermione finished school, they joined the order. Molly Weasley had done her best to prevent these, but in the end she accepted her sons (because although they were not related Harry and Hermione were also her children.) need to do something useful for the magical community.
Gimmauld Place was still headquarters, and some of the members lived there, Harry was of course one of them. Few people knew the contents of the prophecy; Dumbledore had decided to protect the secret until the moment came when Harry and Voldemort had to face each other. Yet, he was still in grave danger and the Black's house was one of the safest places around. The Weasleys had preferred to stay at the Burrow, but Dumbledore had performed the Fidelius Charm and he was his secret keeper.
Hermione hadn't yet decided what she wanted to do. She didn't like the idea of leaving her parents unprotected. But perhaps she was endangering them even more by staying at their house. She knew she was welcomed both at the Burrow and at Grimmauld place. But it was a difficult choice to make. She did spent much of her time working for the order, so it would make sense for her to move from her parent's and go to live with Harry…
The truth was that she hadn't had much time to think about it, because in addition to her order missions she had been looking for a job. Dumbledore kept telling all of them that they had to try and continue with their lives as if nothing happened, as if there were no war or threat. For Hermione this meant putting into practice everything she had learnt during her years at Hogwarts.
She had intended to go on a couple of interviews that day, but then Dumbledore's note arrived and she departed for Hogwarts. When she arrived at his office, she was surprised to see that one of the Weasley twins was there two.
"Hello 'Mione, what are you doing here?" Asked the redhead man, turning to see who had entered.
"Hi there, hmm Fred?" She asked hesitantly.
"Take ten points for Gryffindor Mrs. Granger." He replied grinning.
"Where's Dumbledore? He asked me to meet him." Asked Hermione as she took a seat next to Fred.
"Dunno. He sent me an owl today telling me he needed to see me, but he hasn't arrived yet."
At that precise moment the door opened behind them and the headmaster of Hogwarts entered his office.
"Ah, Mrs. Granger, Mr. Weasley. I'm glad to see you are already here. I have serious issues to discuss with the two of you. Would you like some tea?" Both Hermione and Fred nodded, but when the old man turned to prepare the drink they exchanged a quizzical look. What could Dumbledore want with the two of them?
"As you both know, although the ministry is working against Voldemort, it is still reluctant to act against the most prominent members of our community, in spite of the numerous testimonies we gave proving that some of them were and still are Death Eaters. So it is essential that a member of the Order starts working in the Department of Magical Families. This could be our only chance to get in direct contact with some known Death Eaters and then be able to keep a closer an eye on them.
This is why I sent for you Mrs. Granger. As a fresh graduated from Hogwarts nobody would question you applying for a job at the Ministry, and with you excellent academic performance you shall have no problems getting in. I know this might not be the profession you had in mind Mrs. Granger, but once this was is over, if you are still working for the Ministry, you can be transferred into any department you like. I have no doubt you will succeed in any career you chose to pursue." Hermione blushed at these last statements, but didn't say anything. She knew Dumbledore hadn't finished, and suspected that the real crux of the matter was yet to be disclosed.
"The thing is Mrs. Granger, and this is where you come in Mr. Weasley, that to be a member of the Department of Magical Families you need to belong to a magical family. Not necessarily be pure blood yourself, but at least you should me married to a pure blood wizard." Fred and Hermione exchanged and awkward glance. Was Dumbledore about to say what they thought he would?
"I can see you now know why the two of you are here. It is of course your choice and if you decide not to accept this mission I'll completely understand. But I must impress upon both of you the importance of this matter. If we are to stop Voldemort from creating a world of terror similar to that of the last time he was in power it is crucial that we have some sort of oversight over his followers, otherwise we may never triumph. And there might be other candidates, but you Mrs. Granger are our best option."
"Excuse me professor, I see why the Order needs Hermione. But, why me?"
"In case Mrs. Granger accepts this mission, it is important that we make it look as a mere application for a job. There has to be no overt connection between her getting a job at the Ministry and the Order, so we have to make it look real. Hence, her marriage should be one that would not surprise or cause wonder in the rest of the magical community." Explained the headmaster.
"I comprehend that, but I still don't understand why you called me. It is not that I have something against you 'Mione, but I think my brother Ron would be more than happy to marry you. And it would make much more sense." Hermione shifted uncomfortable in her seat "It would even be more logical if she was to marry Harry, or even Percy."
"Mr. Weasley, you should know that according to the Wizards Marriage Act at least one of the contracting parties must be over the age of nineteen. That renders Mr. Potter and your brother Ronald unsuitable. And as for the rest of your brothers, you very well know that they are either already married or engaged. I have already told you that this should be a believable marriage." Explained Dumbledore, he didn't sound annoyed at Fred's question. On the contrary, it was clear that he understood the seriousness of what he was asking them to do and was eager to give them all the reasons he had to do it.
Up to that moment, Hermione hadn't said anything. She didn't know what say. Dumbledore was proposing something she had never thought would have to face. To marry Fred Weasley? If anyone had told her that she would, at some point of her life, even consider the possibility, she would have laughed an entire week. And yet, the prospect was right in front of her. Hermione knew that if Dumbledore had told her all this was both because it was truly a mission of vital importance and because she was the only one who could carry it out.
Hermione considered the panorama. The job at the ministry sounded like a great opportunity, and although the Department of Magical Families would never have been her first choice, it was true that once she was a member she could apply to be transferred into a more interesting one. Up to that, she had no problem accepting the plan. The thorny part was the one about the marriage. She liked Fred very much, and they had always been friends. But they were complete opposites. There was no way they could work as a couple, not even a fake one.
It was indeed a huge sacrifice to marry someone she wasn't in love with. But then Hermione thought that people had made even greater sacrifices in this war against Voldemort. Harry had risked his life in countless occasions to save them all. And it wasn't as though Dumbledore was asking her to marry Malfoy. "Every little helps" Thought Hermione, and if this was what she had to do in order to help the Order, she would grit her teeth and do it.
"Perhaps I should leave you two alone, so you can discuss it." Said the old wizard looking from one to the other. Apparently Fred had also been lost in his own thoughts. Without waiting for an answer, Dumbledore left the office, shutting the door behind him.
"Wow! That was certainly…" Began Fred.
"Unforeseeable" Finished Hermione. Both of them grinned, but neither really found the situation amusing.
"What do you reckon?" Asked Fred.
"Honestly, I don't know!" Hermione's answer sounded frustrated. She wasn't used to not knowing what to do or how to react.
"Me neither. I mean, as I said before, it's not that I don't like you or anything like that. It's just…" He finished lamely.
"You never thought you would have to marry me." Completed Hermione.
"Well, no." He answered honestly. "I never really considered the possibility actually. We always pictured you married to Ron. I never saw you as a possible option." There was something in his voice that told her that he was somewhat sorry to say that.
"I know what you mean." Hermione reassured him. "In fact I had never before considered seriously the possibility of getting married. Not for the next six or seven years, anyway."
"Well for that matter, I was planning to be a bachelor for at least ten more years. But I suppose getting married is not the worst thing that could happen to me."
"Yes, I was thinking along the same lines. Other members of the Order had gone through much greater sacrifices than marriage."
"And besides, you are beautiful, smart and funny. I'd be hard put to find a better wife than you, 'Mione." Was he trying to convince himself?
"So, should we do this?" She asked uncertainly. It was clear that she was not about to decide, but one of them had to.
Fred looked up at her and grinned. Suddenly, he bent down on one knee in front of her. "Hermione Jane Granger, would you do me the honor of marrying me?"
Hermione giggled. In some other situation she might have been annoyed by his lack of seriousness in such a critical situation, but she found that she was glad to see that he could conserve his sense of humor.
"Yes Frederick Weasley, I will marry you." She answered giggling.
At that precise moment the door opened and Dumbledore came back into his office. When he saw the scene Fred and Hermione were representing, his eyes twinkled.
"I assume you two have decided to accept the mission." He said and there was a touch of amassment on his voice. Fred stood up immediately. Hermione was blushing scarlet, and even the infamous prankster was a bit embarrassed. "However, I must insist on the criticalness of what you are about to do."
"Yes professor, we know." Answered Hermione. "And wee are willing to help the Order."
"I knew I could count on you. Now, there is something else that I need to discuss with you. As I told you before, this has to be a believable marriage, so it would be best if few people knew about the true nature of your relation. I understand that your family will have to know, but it would be ideal if you could keep it from everyone else."
At the mention of the Weasleys, Fred and Hermione looked at each other. It was clear that they were thinking the same: Ron. Before they could say anything, the headmaster spoke again. "That's all for today. You may leave. I will contact you in the course of this week to arrange the details of the ceremony and of your job application Mrs. Granger." The other two nodded, stood up and left without another word.
"'Mione, do you want to go to the Three Broomsticks to have a drink and talk about… this." Asked Fred as they walked together towards Hogsmeade.
A/N: What should I do? Go on with it or not?