Disclaimer: JKR owns everything, and I don't make any money with this story. The idea of the Marriage Law originated at wiktt, I believe. I'm just borrowing...
a/n: This story is AU since DH.
Death Eaters strike Diagon Alley
Hermione let the pages of the Prophet sink to the table. While reading the article, she had kept a tight grip on the pages, but now she tried to loosen her sweaty hands around them.
Terror attack of You-Know-Who's Followers destroys historic wizarding street in London.
Everything was cold, and she was having trouble breathing. She didn't see the other pupils in the Great Hall and wasn't aware of the intense noise that irrupted as more and more people were reading the article. Diagon Alley completely destroyed. Staring at the article in front of her, a single thought kept repeating itself in Hermione's head over and over again.
Please, let Fred be okay. Please, let Fred be okay. Please, let Fred be okay.
Hermione didn't know for how long she sat like this. Only when Harry put both of his hands on her shoulders and shook her slightly, did she jerk out of her trance. The noise in the Great Hall came rushing back to her, like someone had suddenly switched the sound back on.
She looked at Harry with big eyes. Harry looked back at her, sympathy evident on his features.
"I'm sure he's okay. The article doesn't say he got hurt," Harry said soothingly.
"The article doesn't say who got hurt. They only talk about high casualty numbers, but they don't mention one bloody name," Hermione screeched. Her voice rose to a crescendo until she was almost shouting.
"Hermione, try to calm down," Harry said. He still had a firm grip on her shoulders, afraid to let go of the shaking girl.
"I can't lose him Harry," Hermione whispered, her voice now so soft Harry could barely make out what she had said.
Before Harry could reply, a haggard looking Barn owl landed with a flourish of its wings on the table in front of them. Tied to its leg was a scrap of parchment.
Hermione didn't move. If it was bad news, she didn't want to know.
Realizing Hermione was immobilized by her fear, Harry let go of her and stretched his hands towards the owl. The bird proffered its leg, and Harry unfastened the letter as quickly as he could. He ripped it open and read the short note it contained.
George and I are okay. We got out. We're at Aunt Muriel's now.
I gotta hurry, there's loads to do. Please tell Ron and Ginny that we didn't get hurt.
I'll pick you up from the train tomorrow.
"Look," Harry shouted. "Fred's fine!"
Hermione ripped the letter out of his hands and read it for herself. She had one hand clasped tightly to the tiny pearl Fred had given to her for their wedding, the letter was shaking in her other hand, and tears were spilling down her cheeks.
"I thought he was…" Hermione didn't finish her sentence, but Harry knew what she meant anyways.
"He isn't," he assured her.
Hermione looked suddenly up from the letter. "Where's Ron?" Her eyes were searching the table, but he was nowhere in sight. Hermione did spot Ginny, however. She was sitting at the far end of the Gryffindor table, as had become her custom since the Christmas holidays. The youngest Weasley was holding a Daily Prophet in front of her, and even though Hermione was quite a distance away, she could see the deathly white pallor of Ginny's face.
Clutching Fred's letter tightly to her chest, Hermione hurriedly got up from her spot on the table and sprinted down its length to the other end.
"Ginny, they are fine," she shouted breathlessly, as soon as she had reached the other girl. Hermione squeezed in besides her and showed her the letter.
Ginny made no move to take the letter, only stared at Hermione with a desperate look in her eyes.
"They really are okay," Hermione assured the younger girl and gripped Ginny's shoulders just like Harry had gripped hers only moments ago.
"Fred wrote me. He and George got out in time. They are at your Aunt Muriel's house right now. They are fine," Hermione explained. She was worried about Ginny, who was still looking at Hermione with huge eyes. Her whole body was trembling.
"Are you sure?" Ginny finally whispered with a shaky voice.
"Yes!" Hermione immediately assured. She was still holding onto Ginny tightly because it was apparent that this was the only thing holding the younger girl up.
Ginny started to sob uncontrollably. Carefully, Hermione pulled her into a hug. Holding on for dear life, Ginny cried into Hermione's shoulder.
"Shhhhh," Hermione whispered into Ginny's ear. "Everything is going to be alright." Ginny cried and cried, and Hermione kept whispering comforting words to her.
Hermione looked up from the crying Ginny and saw Harry standing close by. He obviously had followed Hermione. Hermione motioned for him to come closer.
"Do you know where Ron is?" she asked Harry in a low voice.
"No," Harry shook his head. "Last time I saw him he was leaving for breakfast with Parvati, but I think they made a little de-tour."
Hermione held up the letter to Harry. "Go find him and give him this. He probably hasn't read the article yet." Harry took the letter from her.
"What about Ginny?" he asked, looking down at his former girlfriend, who was visibly shaking and still sobbing into Hermione's robes.
"I'll take care of her. You just find Ron," Hermione answered, and Harry took off.
Slowly, Hermione got up from the bench, pulling Ginny with her.
"Let's go to Gryffindor Tower." Hermione walked Ginny slowly out of the Hall.
The Great Hall was still loud, and several people were crying. Diagon Alley was a populated area, and there were a lot of flats above the shops. Many pupils knew people who lived in that street or even had family there of their own.
Hermione carefully lead Ginny upstairs towards Gryffindor tower. Ginny didn't even seem to realise where they were going, but continued crying into Hermione's shoulder. Once they reached the tower and went through the Portrait hole, Hermione stirred Ginny towards the couches close to the fire in the common-room. Sitting down with her arms still around Ginny, Hermione let the younger girl cry, all the while whispering words of comfort into her ear.
The common-room was deserted as mostly everyone was down at breakfast at that time, so they were not disturbed. It took some time for Ginny to calm down. Eventually, her tears subsided, and Ginny got out of the embrace.
"Are you alright?" Hermione asked. Her features only portrayed sympathy and worry for the girl in front of her, and no one seeing them would believe that they had just been fighting for the better part of the ongoing year.
"Yes," Ginny whispered, unable to look into Hermione's eyes.
"Are you sure?" The concern was evident in Hermione's voice.
"I thought…" Ginny was still not looking at Hermione, but examining her own hands. "I thought they were dead. The article was so awful."
"But they are not," Hermione interjected. "Fred's letter said they are fine."
"I know! But all I could think was that if Fred had been killed in that raid, he would have died thinking I hate him." Ginny sniffled, but otherwise stayed composed.
"He knows you don't," Hermione tried to assure Ginny.
"How can he not think that?" Ginny raised her voice. "I was horrible to him. And to you, Hermione. I am so sorry."
"Ginny, it's okay."
"No, it's not. I should have never… I had no right to treat you that way. I know that now. It's just… it was so hard hearing you were with Fred. Ron was heartbroken. You have broken up with him for the same reasons Harry broke up with me and… and…"
"And you were afraid Harry would find someone else, too."
"Yeah, something like that," Ginny admitted. "Plus, it was so much easier to stay mad at you than deal with my feelings towards Harry."
"Ginny, I know Harry hurt you badly. And I know I hurt Ron. But that I fell in love with Fred has nothing to do with Harry and you. Harry loves you very much. I'm sure he does."
"But than why is he pushing me away? I'd go all the way with him. I don't care about the danger."
"Don't you see, Ginny? He doesn't want you to get hurt."
"He doesn't push Ron or you away, and I'm sure he doesn't want you guys to get hurt either."
"There's a difference."
They didn't have the opportunity to discuss the subject any further because at that point Ron, closely followed by Harry, came running through the Portrait hole.
"Are you girls alright?" Ron asked before he even reached them.
Hermione and Ginny nodded, but Ron noticed his sister's tearstained face and immediately took a seat at her other side, engulfing her in a tight bear hug.
For most students the last day before the Easter holidays passed in a blur. Everyone was busy writing home, asking whether the family and friends were okay. Those students who didn't have an owl of their own stood in long lines to use the school owls. Headmistress McGonagall had to order additional owls from Hogsmeade to ensure that everybody who wanted to could write home.
Lessons that day were frequently interrupted by letters arriving via owl post for the students. Some received assurance that the family was doing fine, others got bad news. Hogwarts was in an uproar, and everybody was anxious to get home.
Hermione, Harry, Ginny and Ron felt no different from anybody else. They kept close together, trying to support each other. In addition to Fred's letter, Errol had arrived just after lunch, confirming that the rest of the Weasley family was fine as well. Apparently, they had all relocated to Aunt Muriel's because her residence was deemed to have the safest wards.
In a failed attempt to lighten the mood a bit, Ron remarked that it should be interesting to see how everyone would react around Fred and Hermione once they arrived. Hermione didn't seem to find this funny though, Ginny started apologizing again and Harry just rolled his eyes.
The train ride home was very subdued. Hermione, Harry, Ginny and Ron shared a compartment with Neville and Luna. Neville had received word from his grandmother that his Great Uncle Algie was still missing, while Luna was relieved to report that her father had been on the hunt for a pink-dotted Snorkelbee in the south of Wales during the attack on Diagon Alley. He was out of harms way, though the Snorkelbee has been reported to be very ferocious, and Luna was hopeful her father might even be stung by one. It was supposed to bring luck.
When the train finally began to slow down, Hermione jumped out of her seat. Glad that she had at least left Crookshanks back at Hogwarts, Hermione impatiently yanked her trunk out of the rack and scrambled through the compartment door before the others even had the opportunity to gather their luggage.
However, the corridor was already filled with students, and Hermione didn't get far. Two steps away from the compartment, she came to a halt in the long line while outside the train's windows London was sweeping by. Ron came out of the compartment as well, dragging his own trunk behind him. Seeing the long queue in front of the exits and Hermione's anxious face, he grabbed the handle of her trunk. "Go on," he said. "I'll take your luggage.
Freed from the weight of her heavy trunk, Hermione climbed past the waiting students, ignoring their angry protests. She reached the nearest door just as the Hogwarts Express stopped at King's Cross. The doors opened, and Hermione jumped onto the platform. Platform 9 ¾ was filled with witches and wizards, waiting to pick up their offspring. Just like inside the train, the mood was tense.
Fred and George's red heads were easily spotted in the crowd, and Hermione ran towards them at once. She flew into Fred's arms, hugging him tightly. Neither thought about it that moment, but back in December Hermione hadn't been able to tell the twins apart, but now she had instinctively known which one was her husband.
"I'm so glad you're okay," she whispered into his chest. "I was so scared."
Fred only tightened his hold on Hermione. By the time the two were ready to let go of each other, Harry, Ron and Ginny were exiting the train. Ron had a few difficulties, trying to carry Hermione's trunk as well as his own. George stepped forward to help his brother.
Just before the others reached them, Hermione whispered to Fred, "Be nice to Ginny." Fred looked at his wife questioningly, but didn't have the time to ask what she meant. He knew that Ron had apologized to Hermione, and as far as Fred was concerned, things with his brother could go back to normal. He didn't hold a grudge. Ironically, Fred was sure should Hermione ever leave him and start a relationship with one of his brothers, he would do far more than just try to beat the crap out of whichever brother stole his wife.
The last he knew though, Ginny was still mad at him, and Fred rather thought that Ginny was the one who should be told to be nice. But when his little sister got closer, walking half a step behind Harry and Ron, Fred noticed her pale face and bloodshot eyes. He didn't wait until she reached him, but hastened towards her, engulfing her in a bone-crushing hug. Ginny let go of her trunk, startled, but hugged her brother back nonetheless. Fred felt his robes get wet on the spot where Ginny had buried her face in his shoulder.
"Nobody ever hugs me!" George complained. Fred snorted, but Harry and Ron took a step back, just in case. Laughing lightly, Hermione stepped up to her brother-in-law and gave him a quick hug.
"There, feel better?" she asked with a chuckle when she let go.
"Yes, thank you," George replied haughtily, and everybody laughed at his big grin. Even Ginny managed a smile, wiping away her tears.
"We should probably get going," Fred said, letting go of his sister and stepping next to Hermione again. All around them parents were quickly Disapparating with their respective children. Nobody wanted to stay and chat like they usually did out of fear of being too exposed.
"Right," George agreed. "Ron you know how to Apparate to Aunt Muriel's, don't you?"
Ron nodded in affirmation. He passed along Hermione's trunk to Fred and gripped Harry's arm with his free hand instead. Together, they Disapparated. George took a hold of his sister and her trunk and followed Ron's example. Fred and Hermione were the last ones to remain on Platform 9 ¾ .
"Are you ready?" Fred asked Hermione. Hermione nodded, although her face clearly showed her trepidation. This would be the first time she met Mrs. Weasley and the rest of the family since becoming a Mrs. Weasley herself.
"It's going to be alright," Fred assured. "They've got far more serious things to worry about now than us getting married."
Hermione gave him a wry smile and held on tight as Fred Apparated them to his Aunt Muriel's residence. George and Ginny were waiting for them outside the door of a rather large, but old brick house, but Harry and Ron were nowhere to be seen.
"Where are Ron and Harry?" George just started asking his twin worriedly when the two boys in question came hurrying down the long driveway. Apparently, Ron had missed the Apparition point by two houses and scared the neighbours quite badly when he and the-boy-who-lived appeared, standing in their flowerbed.
Ron seemed rather embarrassed by his difficulties to navigate and blushed when his brothers laughed about Harry's description of the elderly woman, who had chased them off her prised daffodils.
Still laughing, the group stepped inside the house. Leaving the trunks at the entrance and following the voices, Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione and the twins walked inside a large kitchen where the rest of the Weasley's, minus Percy, seemed to be gathered. The chatter died down immediately when the Weasleys became aware of the arrival of their youngest family members.
Their welcome, however, was not as warm as one might have hoped. An awkward silence stretched through the kitchen as everyone looked around from the newlyweds to the rest. Fleur, of all people, was the one to break the silence.
"There you are. We've been wondering what's taking you so long." She rose from her spot on the kitchen table next to Bill and gracefully walked towards the door where the newly arrived group had remained standing. She gave a rather startled Ginny a hug, kissed both Harry and Ron on the cheek, making both boys blush, and came to a stop in front of Hermione.
"I already had Fred show me your wedding pictures. You looked absolutely beautiful, Hermione. I was surprised at the style of your dress. You didn't purchase it in Paris, no?" She gave Hermione a hug as well while the slightly overwhelmed girl muttered a thank you.
Then Fleur turned around to the rest of the room, gave them all a look that clearly said 'There, us French know how to act classy' and returned to her place beside Bill.
"Yeah, just what I was thinking. A shame you couldn't go dress-shopping in Paris," Charlie commented from his place at the table. He gave Hermione and Fred a good-natured grin while Fleur scowled at him. Bill hid his own grin in his hand so his wife wouldn't see.
The mood in the room decidedly lightened thereafter. Ron and Ginny went over to their parents to say hello while Fred introduced both Harry and Hermione to his Great-aunt Muriel.
Aunt Muriel appraised both Harry and Hermione with a critical eye, before proclaiming loud enough for the whole room to hear that Harry was looking rather meek for a supposed saviour of the wizarding world and Hermione had skinny ankles, which she hopefully wouldn't pass on to any of her and Fred's future children.
Unsure how to answer this kind of greeting, Harry and Hermione looked to Fred for assistance, who unfortunately wasn't much of a help because he was busy laughing at their bewildered faces. Bill, however, came to their rescue. He brought his great-aunt a glass of sherry. Somewhat pacified, Aunt Muriel re-evaluated Harry and Hermione and reached the conclusion that Harry, while looking meek, seemed to have been born under a lucky star and might just defeat You-Know-Who based on sheer dumb luck, and that Hermione, skinny ankles aside, had a nice frame for breeding, unlike that French gal Bill had picked.
"Er, thank you," Harry mumbled, though his words were mostly drowned by the roaring laughter that filled the kitchen.
The only ones to remain motionless were Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Staying close to Fred's side, Hermione was sad to notice that her husband's parents still seemed to hold a grudge. The elder Weasley's had greeted their two youngest children enthusiastically enough, but Hermione and Harry only received a stiff hug and greetings that sounded hollow to Hermione's ears. Her marriage to Fred wasn't mentioned at all.
Ron seemed to have noticed as well because Hermione saw him taking his parents aside, talking to them seriously while occasionally pointing at Fred and Hermione. Hermione hoped that Ron's blessing would change Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's opinion of her and Fred's unexpected relationship—for Fred's sake. She had noticed that while her husband seemed to be as happy about seeing her as she was to see him, he still appeared miserable whenever looking in the direction of his parents. Hermione sighed inaudibly, pressing herself closer to Fred's side.
Once they were done greeting everyone, Fred led Hermione out of the kitchen. They fetched Hermione's trunk from the entrance and started up the staircase.
"We're on the third floor," Fred explained on the way. "There was a bit of an argument though when Mum divided up the rooms."
"How come?" Hermione asked.
"Well, she put me in a room with George, and you were supposed to bunk with Ginny."
"Yeah, I had to throw quite a fit to get that changed. Mum is just so stubborn." Fred had reached the end of the third floor hallway and opened a door to his left. "But George shares a room with Charlie now, and you are in here with me."
Hermione walked into the tiny bedroom, which was sparsely furnished with a wardrobe, a table and a chair, two nightstands and two single beds, pushed as far away from each other as the tiny room permitted.
"Mum claims Aunt Muriel doesn't have any more rooms with king-sized beds," Fred explained, and Hermione was sorry to see the pained look in his eyes. He might not say it out loud, but she knew that Fred was hurt by his mother's ongoing rejection of their marriage.
"Well, good thing we can do magic then," Hermione tried to make light of the situation. She pulled out her wand from her pocket and made an elaborated movement in the air. Instantly, the two beds joined in the middle of the room. Fred smiled.
"You always were the smartest witch of our age."
All necessary redecorations done, Hermione turned to Fred again, encircling his waist with her arms. "I'm sure your mother will come around eventually. Just give her some time to get used to everything," she whispered, before rising on her toes and kissing Fred's jaw.
Fred returned her hug, burying his face in her shoulder.
"I don't know, she's stubborn," he mumbled into her hair. Hermione ran her hands soothingly over his back.
"At least we know from whom you've inherited that thick head of yours then," she teased.
Fred gave an involuntary laugh. "Yeah, pig-headedness runs in the family, in case you hadn't noticed." He pulled back a little and smiled down at Hermione.
Hermione in turn looked up to him, glad to see some of the sadness gone from his eyes. She reached up and pulled his head down for a kiss. Fred pulled her close again, banishing all thoughts about his family for a while and focusing on his wife instead.
How they ended up on the bed, Hermione didn't even know. But all of a sudden, she found herself lying on the soft cushions, with Fred above her and his hands roaming freely over her body.
"Fred, we need to stop," she choked out breathlessly in between two kisses.
"Why? I missed you," Fred asked, showing no signs of wanting to stop anytime soon. Instead he moved to nibble at her collarbone.
"Fred." Hermione's protests turned into a moan as his warm hand slipped under her shirt. Abandoning all rational thoughts, she pulled his face up again and crashed her lips to his.
A knock on the door made them both freeze.
"Guys, dinner is ready in ten minutes," George shouted through the door. "And do me a favour and remember to use silencing charms tonight because Charlie's and my room is right next door."
Before either Fred or Hermione could think of an answer, they heard George's steps and laughter fade away into the direction of the staircase. Reluctantly, Fred rolled off of Hermione, trying to get his breathing back under control.
"I swear, the boy has the worst timing ever," he grumbled.
Laughing, Hermione got up from the bed, trying to smooth down her hopelessly wrinkled clothing before hastily digging through her trunk in search of her hairbrush.
"Are you going to get up?" she asked Fred while she dragged her brush through the tussled mob on her head.
"Gimme a minute," Fred sighed, running a hand over his face.
When she was satisfied that her appearance did not resemble that of a hurricane victim anymore, Hermione walked back to the bed, grabbed both of Fred's hands and pulled him upright.
"I'm coming, I'm coming," Fred laughed, letting his wife drag him to the door. Before they exited the room, he stopped her, pulling her in for a brief, but sweet kiss.
"I love you," he whispered and Hermione smiled.
Holding hands, they went to join the rest of their family for dinner.
a/n: That's it people, the end of Magnetic Moment. Well, almost. I'm still going to write an epilogue, and knowing me, it's probably going to be a long one. ;) So, if there's still a scene you'd like to see, or something you think I should definitely mention in the epilogue, let me know, and I'll see if I can incorporate your idea.
Many thanks to all those people who have reviewed my story so far and to my awesome betas for this chapter, Joey and rules-of-jinx. I really appreciate all the support.