Breakfast was always a loud one at the burrow, even right before school started. The air turned cold and crisp as September rolled into the year, bringing Hermione, Harry and Ron their first year as graduates from Hogwarts, even though Hermione turned seventeen fully next week
The twins would be yelling for some toast and jam down the table, Ron would be yawning constantly, Harry and Ginny would be laughing at some inside joke, and combine that with all the chatter from the guests and the Weasleys, and it's an almost obnoxious noise.
Tonks and Lupin sat together across from Hermione, next to Harry and Ginny. Hermione was in between the twins today, luckily, so that they wouldn't fight as much. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley each sat at one end of the table, smiling at each other and gesturing at everyone to eat if they weren't chewing. Bill would be between his father and Fleur, all three discussing Quidditch and politics. Surprisingly enough, Fleur knew a lot about the game, claiming she played when she was very little, but still followed the tournaments and matches. Her favorite team was Puddlemere United, Oliver Wood's team, besides her native French International Team.
Charlie was by Mrs. Weasley, talking to her about the kind of dragons he was working with, since no one else really cared too much to hear about it. Mrs. Weasley would nod and smile encouragingly, earning even brighter beams from Charlie as he rambled on like a little boy.
"Pass the syrup?"
"Hand me a napkin."
"Could you refill my orange juice?
"Will someone give me my coffee?"
"I need ze whipped cream! Eet is vital for my crepes!"
The noise was never-ending, even as Earl, Hedwig, Pig, and Charlie's owl, Feathernose came flying through the window; Earl flew to Mr. Weasley, dropped the Prophet in his lap, than followed suit, landing on his back in Mr. Weasley's pudding. Hedwig flew to Harry with a joint-letter from Dean and Seamus, wishing him a happy holiday. Pig flew into Ron's awaiting palm with a small package from Luna Lovegood, containing his usual 'random-Ron-gift'; a small Quidditch hoop with an enchanted Quaffle that was constantly trying to get through it if it weren't for a magical little red-headed keeper that kept blocking it. Hermione noticed the blush in Ron's cheeks as he beamed at his present, thanking the stars that he and Luna were so happy together. Feathernose brought Charlie a few letters from his co-workers from Romania wishing him a merry Christmas and a happy new year as well.
"Ahh, they finally caught Rodolphus!" Mr. Weasley exclaimed, smiling at Hermione from down the table. Fred and George craned their necks to see, squashing Hermione deeper in between them. Mrs. Weasley took a quick glance at her husband, a spark in her eyes at the mention of Bellatrix Lestrange's husband, before returning to Charlie.
"Yes! The Harpies won over the Tornadoes! You owe me ten galleons Fred!" Bill called to Fred, smiling devilishly from behind the sports section of the Prophet. Hermione laughed as Fred groaned and pounded his fist on the table before throwing Bill a small bag, jingling with change.
"Oh my…" Said a voice softly. Even though the combined voices of everyone around them were loud enough to be heard for a good distance, Hermione heard that voice. She turned to Remus, who was examining the back of the front page of the newspaper, reading it than re-reading it. His eyes were clouded and his face nervous as his wife leaned over to read it too.
"In the name of Merlin…" She breathed, panic seeping into her voice. Slowly, conversation began to cease.
"Molly? You may want to look at this." Remus said nervously, for a moment glancing at Hermione. Mrs. Weasley looked up, confused at Tonk's and Lupin's lack of smile. She excused herself from Charlie, who looked slightly disappointed at being left alone before walking slowly to Remus, listening as he whispered in her ear, and taking the paper from him, frowning.
She too gasped, her hand lifting to her chest as she read the news. Her eyes were widened and Hermione could tell something was wrong when her hand began to shake.
"Everyone, I think you may want to hear this." She said shakily, looking at her husband for support. He shushed Bill and Percy. Hermione elbowed the twins to make them quiet. Soon, the room was completely silent, waiting for Mrs. Weasley to speak.
"It seems, that Lucius Malfoy…" She began, her breath stopping her. Hermione cringed at the name. "It seems he's…become Minister." Mrs. Weasley breathed out, placing her fingers to her mouth as if she had spoken a very ill-termed word. There was an uproar of commotion at the table, people attempting to snatch the paper from her hands.
"This is ridiculous!" Mr. Weasley shouted above the others, quieting them once more. "How'd he do it?" He asked, standing from his chair and walking over to his wife.
"It seems Fudge had stepped down due to old age, and without allowing another election, he inaugurated Malfoy in private, making the announcement just this morning. How…horrid." She said, re-reading the words to make sure they were real.
"Molly, what's this part about his first act as Minister?" Mr. Weasley asked, pointing his finger to a paragraph near the end. Tonks and Remus stiffened, as did Mrs. Weasley as she began to read aloud;
"Recently interviewed at eight a.m. this morning at a press conference, Mr. Malfoy promised to keep order and safety as top priorities in his new mandate. When asked what his first act as Minister would be, Mr. Malfoy replied; 'My first official act as Minister of Magic is to resolve a complication in birth. As of now, it is a requirement that all Muggle-born wizards and witches must marry a Pureblood witch or wizard by the age of seventeen to keep magical learning within the magical world. We do not want stragglers who may disregard the unofficial decree of our world's secrecy, which has become grave importance to us all."
Every single pair of eyes fell on Hermione as she dropped her spoon into her cereal, repeating the words in her head; all Muggle-born wizards and witches must marry a Pureblood witch or wizard by the age of seventeen… all Muggle-born wizards and witches must marry a Pureblood witch or wizard by the age of seventeen. She turned seventeen in a week. One week. Next Sunday to be exact.
Mrs. Weasley had paled, leaning against her husband, muttering awful words about the Malfoys and cursing them for all eternity. Mr. Weasley's eyes had bulged and he had snatched the paper from his wife's shaking hands, scanning the words for any detection for falsehood. Than, looking at her and gulping, he handed it to Hermione.
She could feel everyone's eyes stare at her as she read the Prophet with trembling hands. No one spoke, no one coughed, and no one would have breathed had they not needed to. Hermione wanted to laugh at the law as if it were some sick-minded joke that she'd normally disprove of. But no, there it was, in little black letters underneath a moving headline, as if laughing at her unfortunate situation.
"I turn seventeen next week." She muttered, looking into Mrs. Weasley's sympathetic eyes. What was she going to do? She couldn't marry at sixteen!
"Far too young! Her Aunt Hannah would exclaim. She needs a proper marriage in order to be accepted into society!
"Don't fret, dear!" Mrs. Weasley said softly, trying much too hard to seem reassuring; Hermione could see the doubt in her eyes. "It's not like you will have to marry a stranger! We have plenty bachelors to call on! Your friends, from the Order, we'll be fine…we'll be fine." She continued to chant that under her breath, looking all around the table for a nod of encouragement. Turning to her husband's unsure face, she gestured with an incline of her head for him to back her up.
"Oh, of course! You could marry…uh…Harry!" He said, pointing to the messy-haired wizard, who looked up in shock. Ginny stood up.
"No offence Hermione, but I kind of don't want you marrying my boyfriend." She stated, smiling at her friend. However, Hermione noticed the edge to her voice and held up her hands, shaking her head. Harry exhaled loudly, smiling as Ginny sat back down and took his hand, a clear notion that he was hers. Mr. Weasley looked apologetically at his daughter before moving on.
"Um, what about Ron?" He asked, gesturing with both arms as if presenting an award. Ron glared at him, his mouth full of pancakes.
"No way. What about Luna?" He asked his dad shrilly. Than, looking at Hermione, he shrugged. "Sorry." He said. Hermione smiled sadly and nodded.
And thus, they went around the table, asking each man present.
"I'm with Katie, remember? I can't just leave her!
"Right, sorry. Bill?"
"I'm married Dad."
"Yes he iz. I cannot believe you'd think he'd marry zomeone elz."
"Sorry Fleur. How about you Charlie?"
"I've got my eye on someone back in Romania. Sorry Herms."
"Remus? Oh wait, no, nevermind. Fred?"
"Huh?" Fred said, looking at his dad with wide eyes. Hermione cringed. Marry Fred? Mr. Weasley suddenly looked uncomfortable, along with everyone else in the room.
"Um well, do you have a girlfriend, fiancée, or love interst of any kind?" He asked his son, never making eye contact. Fred slowly shook his head, obviously confused. Mrs. Weasley stepped forward, placing her hand on her husband's shoulder.
"Good, because you're about to marry Hermione."