Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Wizards and witches across the country were throwing parties and celebrating in the streets. She wasn't old enough to remember but it was probably very similar to the day that baby Harry had survived You-Know-Who's attack.
Parvati Finnigan was not celebrating. She didn't need to.
The marriage law had ended but for her it was irrelevant. The law had matched her and Seamus admittedly. But they had been dating before then. Their love was not because of the law. It had been hurried along a little by the law but it was already there.
Her little Priya came running in. Priya had just turned fifteen and as a general rule did not run anymore, running was most definitely not cool like Merlin Mum don't you know anything? Like at all, god. Clearly something big had happened. Speaking of big – when had her little baby gotten so large? She was a teenager now, on the verge of womanhood. Parvati pulled herself out of her reminisces and smiled at her youngest daughter.
"Mum!" Priya said, sliding into the kitchen chair opposite her mother.
Priya was so much like Seamus it was unbelievable. Physically, of course, they weren't much alike at all (although Priya had Seamus' blue eyes) but when she spoke, the way she moved, her whole attitude. It was all Seamus. Her daughter bit her lip worriedly. "You and Daddy...well, you aren't...you know, separating are you?"
A third voice interrupted quite firmly. "Never."
Parvati smiled expectantly as her husband walked in, kissing the top of her head and repeating the gesture to his youngest daughter before sitting down with them.
"Your mother and I will never separate." He told Priya in an assured tone. "Will we?"
"Nope." Parvati agreed. "Your dad and I were matched by the law but we were in love well before the Ministry told us to get married. We would have been together anyway."
Priya leaned back, her fears obviously soothed. "Good because everyone keeps saying that their parents aren't gonna be together anymore and I was so worried it would happen to you two even though Darce and Caity said you two would never break up."
"And we were right."
Her oldest daughters – Darcey and Caitlyn – walked in wearing identically smug grins. They were true twins. They even finished each other's sentences. They had the sort of twin relationship Parvati wished she had had with her own twin. She was a lot closer to Padma now though. They spoke every single day. They shared more of a sister bond that a twin type bond but it was right for both of them.
"Yeah well, I just wanted to check." Priya said defensively.
"There's no harm in checking." Seamus said quietly. He would never say it and it wasn't especially obvious but he always stuck up for his littlest daughter. She understood why. The twins were a unit, a real unit, and sometime Priya was very left out of that.
"Mum, Auntie Lavender Flooed earlier. She's coming over later." Caity informed her casually.
"Why didn't you call me when she was in the fireplace?"
"Because when you and Auntie Lavender start talking you end up there for hours and she's coming over soon anyway so really we were just saving you aching knees." Darcey said in a tone which implied it should be obvious.
They had a point. Her and Lavender were best friends. They saw each other every single day and never ran out of things to talk about. She was so glad they had made up all those years ago. The two families were so close. They spent so much time together and they were so similar.
She pulled herself back to the conversation which had continued on without her. She loved them all so much. She watched them silently, smiling to herself. She was so proud of them all. Of Caitlyn, who was the oldest by five minutes but took her oldest sister role very seriously and had just gotten a job working at Gringotts. Of Darcey, who had always struggled to establish herself as an individual but had finally succeeded and had excelled in her NEWT exams and was desperate to go off and travel the world. Of Priya who never complained about being excluded by the twins and who loved more intensely and more devoutly than anyone she had ever known and who would do anything at all for her family. Of Seamus who worked so very hard to provide a good life for them all and who still looked at her the same way as he first had all those years ago. Of them all. She loved them all so much. They were her family, loud and imperfect and rowdy, and she loved them all so very much.
They were in Italy when the news came through. They'd travelled extensively but Italy was definitely their favourite place to be. The Italian wizards and witches were fiery and impulsive and incredibly generous. They loved everything about the country – the people, the food, the scenery, the lifestyle. They were even considering staying here full time.
They had been sitting at a little cafe bar, the whole family – George, Luna, Coraline, Jem, Daniel, Evie and Jacob – chatting very loudly and drawing curious glances from passersby.
Coraline was arguing with Daniel about something or other. Luna and Jem were deeply engrossed in a conversation about magial ethics, something Jem felt very strongly about as of recently. Evie was eating ice cream like her life depended on it and four year old Jacob was busily colouring in his new colouring book, scribbling all over the lines and concentrating so hard his tongue was sticking out.
George himself was reading the newspaper. He had given up a lot of things to travel but the one thing he insisted on was the Daily Prophet and uninterrupted time to read it. (He usually got the paper but rarely got the silence he needed to fully enjoy it.)
The news was splashed across the front page and continued throughout about eighty percent of the paper. He read it in a daze and then read all the other articles on it, and there were a lot – famous people giving opinions (he noticed a little picture of a clearly dazed looking Harry giving a very brief statement before stumbling back into his home and chuckled to himself, Harry had never gotten used to being famous), whole columns on what had happened, loads of information on what would happen next.
"Luna." He said quietly.
She looked up curiously – obviously alerted by the tone in his voice – and the conversation around them died down. This was pretty unusual for such a large family but he didn't have time to enjoy the moment.
"Look." He passed the paper to her. They passed it around them, reading it curiously. His family had a love of reading – many an evening went past with every one of them completely silent and engrossed in their individual reading material.
"Wow." She said. "This is big." There was a short pause. "But it doesn't affect us really."
"No." He agreed. "Wonder who will take up the offer though."
"Hermione." They both said in exact unison, they exchanged small smiles.
"Maybe we should go home...you know, back to England...just for a bit." He suggested. They didn't really have a home anymore. They just drifted from place to place entirely on a whim. When Jem had asked what a pyramid was once, they had Apparated off to Egypt and spent a whole summer there to show him exactly what such a thing was. Coraline loved Paris and had already decided that she was marrying a French man when she grew up and so they visited regularly. Luna had a fondness for the Amazon jungle so they had spent a whole, sweaty, sticky year there before deciding that the humidity was definitely too much for the red headed, pale skinned members of the family, let alone the remaining blonde members.
"Probably." Luna agreed dreamily. "Because we also need to tell your mum we're having a sixth baby."
There was another silence.
"What?" George blinked stupidly.
"I'm pregnant." Luna said, completely unaware of the bombshell she had just dropped.
And just like that the bombshell exploded. They were all laughing and joking and congratulating each other and teasing him for not knowing and hugging. He pulled Luna in to him for a kiss.
"I love you." He whispered in her ear.
She smiled up at him. "I love you too."
"You know what this means though." He said seriously.
He grinned mischievously. "We're gonna have to think of another name."
"Oh." She seemed unconcerned. "We'll just let them decide." She gestured to their five children who were already speculating about their new brother or sister excitedly, all sitting on top of each other apart from Jacob who was standing on the table so as to be part of it all.
"Jemima!" This suggestion was from Coraline who had just discovered the Muggle Beatrix Potter's books and loved them dearly despite being eighteen years of age.
Jem chimed in with, "Sampson!"
"No," Evie cried. "Let's call the baby Hazel."
Daniel shared a smirk with his father before saying quite seriously. "Martin." It was worth it for Luna's look of absolute horror.
Jacob stood up on the table. "Baby Jacob!"
"But you're Jacob." Evie reminded him. "You can't have two Jacobs."
"Can." The four year old insisted stubbornly. "I am Big Jacob and the baby will be Little Jacob." He sat down again on the table, convinced of his own unshakeable logic.
"I still prefer Jemima." Coraline said mulishly.
Luna turned to her husband, the children still arguing over names. "This is going to be a nightmare, isn't it?"
"Oh yes." He assured her. "Most definitely." And he wouldn't want it any other way.
Harry had found out about the end of the marriage law before nearly everyone else. All the papers wanted him to make a statement. Even after all these years he found it hard to accept that he was a public figure and that people wanted his opinion on everything that happened across the country.
They had been settling down to dinner – just him and Ginny. She had just retired from her job as Chaser with the HolyHead Harpies after fifteen years with the club. She was thirty six now and in her own words 'far too old to be knocked off my broom every day'. She'd played solidly for most of those years, only having time off to have kids.
They'd had three kids – James, Albus and Lily. The names were pretty much a given really. He had wanted another to add to their brood - he wanted to use Remus as a middle name – but Ginny had put her foot down. She had told him in no uncertain terms that she was absolutely not 'lugging a baby around for nine months' before 'squeezing it out of a place that is absolutely not big enough for a baby to get out of'.
Although Ginny was giving up her position as a player, this was still a celebration. She had been asked to join the management as a coach and she had accepted instantly. She couldn't give up her devotion to the club and had always been interested in coaching.
They had been tucking into dessert – treacle tart, his favourite - when a huge commotion started. Half a dozen journalists appeared outside, banging on the doors and chattering excitedly amongst themselves. What was going on?
He was told of the news and asked for a statement. He gave one very quickly – he was becoming accustomed to giving statements (although he always wondered why on earth people would care what he had to say about anything), he usually just said exactly what he thought before getting out of there.
He went back in to his wife. She was waiting for him with an amused smile. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that his dessert was suspiciously absent.
"The law. It's...it's ended." He told her quietly. He was shocked. Although Percy had won Minister, he had been concerned that there would be difficulties in ending the law. It seemed that Percy Weasley had wasted no time – he had only been elected two weeks ago – in ending that awful law.
"Thank Merlin for that." She said quite loudly. "It's about time." Her smile turned wicked. "At last I can get rid of you."
He smirked and drew her close to him, tucking his arm around her waist. "Oh yeah? You really want to do that."
"When you say things like that it just reminds me exactly whose sister you are." Harry smirked.
She winced, "Oh go away."
"Never." He said in a tone which was a fraction too serious for the conversation.
She smiled serenely. "Good."
He kissed her. "Now that's all settled... let's move onto exactly what happened to my treacle tart."
She threw her head back and laughed happily, pulling away from him. "It disappeared!"
"Oh yeah." He said moving towards her.
She realised she was backing herself into a corner and made a move to run; he caught her by the waist, dipped her and kissed her soundly.
Percy Ignatius Weasley had never thought he would be the Minister of Magic. He had always been fairly content to be Secretary to the Ministry when he was younger but a position had come up in the Law Enforcement Offices (the administerial side – he wasn't up to being out in the field) and he had applied just on a whim. He'd gotten it and been climbing up the corporate ladder ever since. He'd worked in pretty much every Ministry department in some form or the other over the last eighteen years. Finally, he'd gotten to be Deputy Minister and when the old Minister retired, he had decided to apply for the post. He had won with an overwhelming majority, largely because of his biggest campaign promise.
He would end the marriage law.
He had won his election and became Minister of Magic.
Just three weeks later, he made good on his promise. It hadn't taken much persuasion, so many of his senior colleagues believed it was good and time. He had made the announcement just three hours ago.
He sat back in his chair, in the office that had once been home to so many ex Ministers, and allowed himself a brief satisfied smile.
There was a quiet knock on the door.
"Come in!" He called. He already had a fair idea of who it was.
Cho entered. "I just heard the news!" Her face was glowing. "I didn't think you were doing it so quickly."
He got up to embrace her and kiss her cheek. "I didn't want to waste time delaying the inevitable. Better sooner rather than later."
She sighed and opened her bag. "This came through." She took the seat opposite his desk without being asked and he took his own chair.
She placed a thick wad of paper on his desk.
"Divorce papers." She told him. "My office drafted them this morning so obviously we've got the very first ones here. They're going out to the general public tomorrow morning. I did them personally so I can assure you they are completely correct."
"I'm sure they are." Cho had studied Magical Law as a mature student before getting a job at a high flying law practice. She was incredibly good at what she did and juggled a fantastic career with supporting his own career and being a wonderful mother to their three children.
"Well, I've signed my bits." She said matter of factly. "You need to sign here, here and here." She pointed at the relevant dotted lines which were spread across five different pages. "They're a bit more complicated than Muggle divorce papers because it needs to end the contracts as well as just the physical marriage. They were a nightmare to get right, particularly with those attraction charms...I'm not one hundred percent sure some of the charms won't linger very faintly for some couples..."
She trailed off as he signed his name on each of the lines.
"I guess we aren't married anymore." She said quietly.
They both grinned at each other.
"It'll be so much easier now." Cho said in a relieved tone. "We won't have to sleep together."
Percy pulled a face. "Exactly. We can be best friends without having to see each other naked all the time."
Cho laughed. "Oh come on, you enjoyed it."
He smirked. "It's been a good run, Chang."
"That it has, Minister." She paused and bit the corner of her lip. "You did mean what you said...about living together still, didn't you?"
He nodded. "Of course. You are my best friend, Cho, and we have a lot of history together. You're still going to be a huge part of my life, even if you are now no longer my wife. You're the main reason I decided to end the law."
"What?" She said curiously. "Me? How?"
"I love you, Cho, not in a romantic way but I do love you an awful lot. I want you to have the chance to meet someone new, to fall in love, real love, and to have enough time left to you to enjoy being in love. You couldn't do that with me. I wanted you to have a chance at love."
She flew across the desk to hug him. "I do love you, Percy Weasley. You're a good man."
"Well yes." He said mockingly. "I am the Minister now, you know."
"Don't you think it will be awkward...you know, living in the same house and...seeing other people." She ventured timidly.
He thought for a moment before replying. "Considering my new role...I don't think dating will be at the top of my priorities list but as for you, well I don't care who you date...as long as he's good enough for you, I do now have access to private hitmen. For those suitors that are not good enough." The corners of his mouth twitched up into a wicked grin.
She swatted at his arm. "C'mon you idiot, there's a party in the Ministry foyer and I think we're the guests of honour."
He mockingly offered her his arm and she took it and off they went to celebrate along with everyone else the eighteen years they had together.
He would never regret marrying Cho Chang. She had become his best friend, his rock, the one person he could always rely on. He loved her just not romantically. He'd ended this law to give her a chance at love. He wanted her to be happy and he wanted a chance at love himself, the right people for the both of them were out there and they would find them. Together.
Her reaction to finding out about the news was rather understated. She merely shrugged; half smiled and continued preparing breakfast for her family. She didn't care. It didn't matter to her. There was absolutely no way her and Dean were breaking up. They were meant to be. This law had been good for them. Dean came downstairs, kissed her cheek and sat down at the table, still a little bleary eyed. She passed him the paper and a bowl of fruit. He took the paper and made a face at the fruit.
"It's good for you." She told him severely.
A loud banging noise and a dull thud sounded the arrival of their children. It was swiftly followed by a crashing sound and then worried, high pitched voices.
Their children. Their miracles.
You see, her first baby – the one she had been a little worried about having – had turned out to be two babies. She had had twins. Just like Parvati and Seamus. She had been so shocked she had been utterly speechless.
And, to add to the coincidence, her and Parvati had fallen pregnant with their third children at the same time and their babies had been born...on the exact same day, within hours of each other.
"What's going on?" She called out. There was a suspicious silence.
Their three children entered all wearing identically angelic expressions.
"What's broken?" Dean asked, not looking up from the paper.
"Nothing." Niamh – their youngest – said innocently. Lavender just nodded. She knew that when she went upstairs later, something would be broken or conspicuously absent.
A loud spluttering sound interrupted her thoughts. Dean appeared to have choked on his coffee.
"What is it?" Lavender said worriedly, moving towards him.
"The law is ended."
"Oh. Well yes." She was far more concerned about the spillage of coffee currently lying on the table and probably seeping into the woodwork as they spoke. If that stained, she was making Dean buy her a new table. She was rather house proud and her family didn't seem to appreciate the need to keep things clean and tidy.
"Great." Grace said unenthusiastically. "Is there any toast?"
"Yeah, I'm starving!" Grace's twin – Harry – chimed in.
"No toast." Lavender said firmly. "There's fruit salad."
Harry groaned theatrically. "Not another health kick again Mum."
"There is nothing wrong with eating healthily." She replied primly, setting a bowl of fruit down in front of him.
The family exchanged glances behind her back. Unfortunately, Lavender as a mother was blessed with eyes in the back of her head and saw the exchange.
"I can see you."
She could sense their bewilderment.
Grace went to speak, she was cut off by Dean. "Don't bother Gracie, your mum knows all. She's pretty amazing like that."
She flashed a quick smile at her husband. He was still the exact same man she had fallen in love with and she loved him just as much as she always had.
She loved them all – Dean, Grace, Harry, Niamh – and she always would. They were her world.
"Morning darling." Her husband drawled as he entered the dining room, sliding into a chair opposite her and reaching for the papers.
"The law has been ended." She told him in an impassive tone. She avoided his gaze deliberately.
Draco was terrible in the mornings. He never got up until about nine and then spent a good forty minutes getting ready and shunning human contact until he came downstairs. She suspected that dumping this on him first thing in the morning had not been the wisest idea.
Whilst he had been sleeping and having a twenty minute shower (he had a thing about cleanliness), she had read the news and gotten the papers offering her a divorce. As of yet, she was undecided as to whether to take it.
She had been with Draco for eighteen years now. Eighteen long years.
Did she regret them? No. Did she love Draco? Yes. Did he love her? Yes.
Had he ever told her he loved her?
No. Not even once. He never even mentioned the 'l' word. Of course he did love her, it was obvious in his words and in his actions but...well, he'd never said it. She often wondered if she were reading too much into him – perhaps he really didn't love her; maybe she was interpreting the way he behaved towards her as love when really he was rather apathetic towards her.
Really she just wanted some reassurance.
She loved Draco with all her heart. She had been happily married to him for eighteen years and they'd had four children together. Her life with him had been fantastic but sometimes she just wanted him to tell her that he wanted her, that he needed her in his life, that he loved her.
Once, Clio had commented on it. She was thirteen years old and had just spent two weeks staying with a school friend. Upon her arrival home, she had watched her parents the whole time, an expression of pondering curiosity upon her face. Katie had noticed, Draco hadn't. Eventually, Clio had confronted her.
"How come you and Dad don't tell each other you love each other? Everyone else's parents do." Clio demanded.
Katie had slowly placed her book on the side table. What could she tell her oldest child? "Your Dad and I love each other very much."
"But how do you know? Why don't you say it?" Clio's blonde eyebrows met in the middle.
"We share the kind of love that doesn't need to be constantly said." Katie said finally. "I know your Dad loves me and he knows I love him." Was it really enough?
"But how come you don't say it?" She persisted.
"I have." Katie said, turning away. It was the end of the conversation and Clio seemed to realise this.
They'd never spoken of it again and Katie had never voiced her concerns to anyone, let alone to Draco. Katie had told him she loved him several times, at first it had been awkward, she'd been embarrassed about saying it. Sometimes, she used to tell him when he was asleep so he didn't really know. Even now, on those rare occasions she did tell him she loved him, she felt like she was losing, like she'd given in first.
Draco had never had the sort of parents who told him they loved him and she could not imagine Lucius and Narcissa ever telling each other they loved one another. It simply wasn't in his nature. The issue weighed heavy on her mind but she doubted it ever even crossed his mind.
Draco had been scanning the article whilst she was lost in her thoughts and both seemed to finish at about the same time.
"Well, have you got those papers?" Draco asked. "I don't think we'll be needing them."
He reached for them and instinctively, she pulled them away.
He frowned. "What is it?"
She drew in a deep breath. "I'm not sure."
"Not sure about what?"
"About us. About everything."
"You...you want a divorce?" His voice was cold and impassive. His face was frozen. To anyone else it would seem as if he did not care. To her, knowing him as well as she did, she knew that it meant in fact the opposite. Draco was a burning mess of emotion right now and he was hiding it the only way he knew how, by faking otherwise.
"I'm not saying that." She said carefully.
"You're not denying it." His demeanour melted for a split second and she saw the panic in his eyes.
She reached out to him in sympathy and grasped his hand. "I'm not saying that I don't want to be with you Draco because we both know I do. I'm just saying that I might want to consider the option of divorce seeing as it's there."
"I don't understand."
Was this it? She thought it probably was. It was time to tell him what was going on with her, why she was considering divorce, why she was feeling this way.
"That's just the thing, Draco, you don't understand and you probably never will." She laughed once humourlessly. "I love you, Draco Malfoy. I love you more than probably anything else in this world. We've been together eighteen years and I wouldn't change those for the world, you've given me four beautiful children and so many amazing opportunities and my life with you has been like a dream. But there's just one thing which makes it so much less perfect. I have absolutely no idea what's going on with you. You don't tell me how you feel about anything, well not about the things that matter, you never tell me what you think of me or how you see me, you never tell the children you love them. It's like you're incapable of love. But you aren't. Of course you love us, it's so obvious. Well, that's what I've been telling myself and the children for years – that you love me and that you love them – but am I just kidding myself? How would I ever know? It's not like you've ever told me. I thought I could put up with it, who needs big declarations right? Well it seems that I do. I want you, Draco. I don't want anything to change, I love you and I love us and I love this family. But what about you?"
She'd barely glanced at him throughout her impassioned monologue so she had no idea of his reaction to it all. It had probably been very out of the blue for him.
She cut him off fiercely. "If you value my sanity at all do not tell me you don't understand. I've made it about as clear as I possibly can." Much to her horror and acute embarrassment, tears welled up in her eyes. She brushed them away angrily.
He caught her arm. She glanced at him – he looked horrified, that was probably because he had made her cry though, he was a proper gentleman after all. Carefully, he brushed the tears away for her. "I never realised that you felt like this, Kate. I honestly didn't have a clue." He broke off for a moment, seemingly undergoing some kind of internal turmoil. "It's not in my nature...to be all lovey dovey. You know I'm not like that, sweetheart. I can't be like that."
"We all have to do things we don't want to do." She told him, her eyes closed. "Is it really so terrible to just tell me how you feel about me?"
"No. No, of course it isn't."
"So tell me." Her eyes flew open and bored into his. Her hands reached up to grip his, which were cupping her face gently. "Just say it."
"I...I can't." He dropped his gaze and his hands.
She blinked back further tears. "Then I want a divorce."
"Please...please, Kate. Darling, please...don't do this." His cool, calm facade had melted, replaced with a panicked, worried Draco. He was finally facing the very real possibility that he could lose her.
"Why should I stay?"
"Well...well, there are thousands of reasons." He tried.
"Just one would have done." She said coolly. She placed her cutlery neatly in the centre of her plate, dabbed at her mouth with a napkin before placing it carefully on the table and rose gracefully. She went to leave.
She heard his chair scrape back desperately. "Kate!"
She stopped at the doorframe, waiting for his next words.
"You want reasons you should stay? Well I'll give you them. My life without you isn't my life at all. You're the most beautiful woman in this world. You're stubborn and argue with my mother and love wearing awful Muggle clothes but I don't care because nothing you do could ever make me not want you. You're nothing like the girls I knew. Nothing like them at all. And that's a good thing, a really good thing. You're better than all of them. In fact, you're the best person I know and the kindest and the fairest. You make me less of an arrogant idiot and you even make me want to be nice. I work so hard just because I want everything to be good for you. You've given me four children and for that I will be eternally grateful. And well...I love you, Katie. I do."
She didn't quite know how it happened but all of a sudden she was in his arms and they were kissing and laughing and she was crying, or perhaps he was.
She had never been happier in that moment. He loved her. She loved him. Things were perfect.
"Thank Merlin! Thank Merlin. Oh sweet Merlin – I'm free!" Hermione Granger was usually a fairly refined, fairly quiet, unassuming sort of person. However, the news that she would finally be able to divorce Blaise Zabini had tipped her over the edge.
Her five children clustered around the doorway – all in various stages of wakefulness and dress – to watch at their mother, who always seemed so straightlaced, screaming and laughing and dancing around her bedroom.
"Mummy's gone mad." Laurence, her youngest son, said fearfully.
Beatrice, his oldest sister, patted his head soothingly.
"She actually has." Theodore affirmed. "Dad has finally tipped her over the edge."
"I always thought Mum would get to Dad first actually." Elspeth, the middle child, inserted a touch snidely. She had her father's dark hair and eyes and was the only one of her siblings to get into Slytherin. (Her Grandma Zabini had been very pleased at the news and had written her a much larger share in the will as a result.)
"You're kidding right?" Beatrice said disbelievingly. "Dad's a Zabini. And he's got Grandma on his side; you know Mum hates her guts."
"She's never said that." Felix finally spoke up. He was the quietest of all his siblings, the second boy and fourth child and was definitely the most like Hermione. When he spoke, it was such a rare occurrence that everyone just listened.
"That's true." Theodore agreed. "She's always very fair."
"Not like Grandma Weasley." Elspeth smirked. "She hates Grandma Zabini."
"And she doesn't even care who knows it." They all chanted in unison. This was one of Grandma Weasley's well known sayings on the subject of their father and his mother.
"Are Mummy and Daddy getting a div-thingy?" Laurence asked.
Beatrice nodded. "Of course. They've been waiting for this news for years."
"Does this mean I'll have to live in an orphanage?" Laurence asked very seriously.
"Yeah." Theodore said with a wicked grin which Laurence missed.
Laurence's bottom lip trembled and Beatrice smacked Theodore on the arm. "Don't frighten him, you idiot." She scolded in a very Hermione-ish tone. "Of course you don't, Laurence. Things will be just the same. Only Mum will be Hermione Granger now, not Hermione Zabini."
"Will we still live here though?" Felix chimed in gravely. "This is Dad's house, technically."
A silence fell.
Hermione seemed to finally notice her children all looming in the doorway. She settled herself back in her king size bed and opened her arms. "C'mon, everyone in."
They all piled in together, something they had done so very many times before.
"Your father and I will be getting divorced. Everything will stay the same for you, I promise." Hermione told them all, pulling five year old Laurence onto her lap.
"Good." Laurence said, sticking his thumb in his mouth.
"I'm glad." Theodore announced.
"Glad about what?" Beatrice said.
"You and Dad getting a divorce." He said directly to Hermione. "You're not happy married to him. Even though you're not really married well, you don't act like you are. He makes you unhappy."
"And it's pretty obvious he doesn't care for you much either." Elspeth said with a smirk.
Hermione shrugged. "Well...it's hardly a secret that Blaise and I were matched through the law. We both hated each other."
"D'you hate Dad now?" Beatrice asked curiously.
"No." Hermione said honestly. She'd surprised herself with her answer but it was the truth. "For a long while I did really hate your Dad, you know what changed my mind?"
"What?" Theodore asked.
"You five. All of you. I could never hate the man who gave me you five and who loves you as much as he does. From the second he saw you, Theodore, he loved you. And it's been the same for when every one of you was born. And that's what changed my mind. In my book anyone who loves you as much as he does cannot be a bad person."
There was a short silence.
Elspeth broke it with a snide grin. "That's kind of soppy and pathetic, Mum."
Hermione threw her head back and laughed, her children joined in. "True sweetheart. I reckon it was being married to your dad for eighteen years. It guess it just finally sent me mad."
The children exchanged glances and said nothing.
He had never thought that they would be physically capable of maintaining this level of fiery passion for so many years.
They had managed it.
They'd been married for eighteen years and had probably argued at least once for every single day of those eighteen years. It was exhausting. It was exciting. It made them seem weak. It proved they still loved each other. It was wrong. It was so very right.
They argued. It was their thing.
But was it really right? They had discussed it a lot of times before, in between arguments when they were being sweet and loving towards each other. They'd cuddle up and he'd run his fingers through her hair and one of them would bring it up and they'd end up reassuring each other that they did love each other and that it didn't matter.
But did it?
Normal couples did not argue every single day. It couldn't be right. Could it? They did argue a lot but they did love each other a lot. They were both fiery, tempestuous, incredibly passionate people. He was always right and she was never wrong. They were so alike they were just bound to argue.
"What do we do?" He whispered. He didn't know why he was speaking in hushed tones; it felt almost blasphemous to speak at a normal volume though, not when they were talking about this subject. When they were talking about separating.
"I don't know." She whispered back. They were curled up on the sofa. She was practically seated in his lap and his fingers were tangled in her hair and her hands were clutching his shoulders.
"I love you."
"I know. I love you too." He closes his eyes and leans forward to press his forehead against her shoulder.
"I know that as well." He can sense the smile in her voice.
"I don't want to." She grips his shoulders even tighter, one hand slipping round to lock around the back of his neck.
"We're not conventional. Maybe we weren't meant to be. I mean we're gonna end up hurting each other, Lissy."
"We're not meant to be together?" She's angry, he can tell. In the eighteen years, she's just gotten better at not yelling. She expresses her anger in vicious, controlled whispers instead. "I don't know two people who are more meant to be together than we are. I love you so much it scares me, okay? We love arguing, thrive off of it. It's a bit twisted but who cares. We're happy and I love you and you love me so don't you dare even think of leaving me."
He draws her closer to him, cupping her face in his hands. "I won't."
"Promise me." She whispers harshly.
"I promise." He closes his eyes and she closes the distance between them to kiss him.
Padma woke at five o'clock in the morning to the beeping of her alarm. Quickly, before it woke anyone else, she turned it off and got up. She flipped the covers back on her bed and made her way silently to the bathroom. She showered and applied moisturiser and a new anti-aging cream she allowed an annoying saleswoman to badger her into buying. She crept back into the bedroom to pick up the clothes she had neatly laid out the night before. She went back to the bathroom to put them on. Underwear, tights, skirt, blouse, jacket, shoes, watch, necklace, ring. She carefully put her make up on, using copious amounts of concealer in an effort to hide the dark circles beneath her eyes. She magically dried her hair, it was too early still to put the hairdryer on, and used a quick straightening charm to ensure it lay neatly. Padma crept along the corridor to the kitchen. She poured herself a glass of a smoothie which promised it counted for three of her five a day and had a list of potential health benefits about as long as her arm. She drunk it quickly, took a vitamin supplement and then removed her already prepared lunch for the fridge, placing it neatly in her bag.
She crept back upstairs and silently checked on each of her children. Jack, the eldest, was sprawled across his bed, the covers practically falling off as usual. He didn't even notice her intrusion. Her daughter and middle child, Rose, was fast asleep as well. She was burrowed deep in the covers and Padma could just see the top of her head under the duvet. Erin, the youngest, was half asleep and mumbled a sleepy hello as Padma checked on her. Satisfied that her children were safe and well, Padma scribbled a quick good morning onto a piece of paper, added a reminder to Jack to not go out unless someone was here to look after Erin, a reminder to Erin to pick her toys up from the living room floor and a reminder to Rose to put the dinner on at 6, ready for when she came home to finish up and left it in a prominent place in the vague hope they would see it and actually follow her instructions. Then, picking up her coat and bag, Padma left the house.
She Apparated just outside the garden gate and arrived at work. She trudged in with all the other half asleep Ministry workers and got into the lift. Her stop was the fifth floor. She moved quickly to her office and sat down at her desk. Her personal assistant made eye contact from the next room but Padma shook her head minutely. She didn't need anything right now. She put her coat away and her bag under the desk and turned her attention to her growing in-tray and the new case notes she'd been given.
It was not until eleven in the morning, in the midst of her midmorning coffee break, that she found out the news.
The marriage law had ended and all couples would be given the opportunity to divorce.
Her friend and colleague, Cho Weasley, slid into the seat opposite her, already talking. "It's going to be a nightmare to organise, logistically. I know Percy set up that new department to take care of it all but we're definitely going to need to help out. Half that department have no law background at all, they won't have a clue. I drew up the contract so that should sort out most of the problems but we're still going to have to hold their hands throughout it all...Padma?"
Padma blinked. "Yes, yes. I know. You and Percy are splitting, of course?"
Cho nodded. "Well yes. We're still living together though. He's my best friend. What about you and Ron?" Cho added tentatively.
Padma bit her lip. "I don't know. We're living separate lives right now but I don't know what that means. I mean I think I still love him but...well, sometimes I just don't know. And there's the kids to think about, they love their dad and they wouldn't want us to split. And I mean...well, it's just easier to stay together, isn't it? I don't know if I want to start all over again."
"You sound like you're in your fifties." Cho teased gently.
"It feels that way sometimes." Padma said tiredly. She was thirty seven years old and thoroughly tired. She was the youngest senior barrister in the country and had worked very hard to get there. It permanently seemed like there weren't enough hours in the day.
"Hey, don't be like that." Cho said lightly. "If you and Ron want to stay together then you do that. You were definitely in love once, you can always get back there. If you think it's time to walk away then no one will judge you for that. There will be hundreds of people out there all in the same boat as you."
"Thanks." Padma said honestly, meeting Cho's eyes. "Really."
"Anytime." Cho said.
Padma finished worked promptly at six o'clock and Apparated straight home. It was as chaotic as ever. Jack was in the hallway looking for his coat and putting his shoes on and fixing his hair in the hallway mirror, evidently preparing to go out (he was currently dating Grace Thomas – much to Dean's horror). Rose was clattering about in the kitchen. Evidently, she had just remembered she needed to put the dinner on meaning that dinner wouldn't be served until much later. Erin ran at her and hugged her, already chattering excitedly about her day.
"Hello darling." She said to Erin. "Mummy's just going to go and change and then we can talk about your day, okay? Rose!" She called. "Hello dear! Could you just set the table as well for me? And Jack, love – your hair is fine, be back by midnight and no funny business." Erin nodded obediently, Jack pulled a face, kissed his mother on the cheek and left just as Rose yelled out a begrudging agreement.
Ron was waiting upstairs for her, clearly in the process of changing out of his work clothes.
"D'you know?" He asked brusquely.
She nodded. "Yeah."
"Well, what d'you think?"
"I think we need to consider it." She said carefully.
"I know." He sighed heavily and sat down on the edge of their bed. "You didn't even say goodbye this morning."
She sighed. "I never say goodbye in the morning, Ronald. You only noticed today because today everyone was evaluating their relationships."
There was a short pause. "How did we get like this?" His voice was despairing.
"I have no idea." She replied honestly. It had been a long time since her and Ron had been her and Ron. Truthfully, real life had gotten in the way. She was busy climbing the career ladder and he was always off on Auror missions that he couldn't tell her about until afterwards and they were trying to take care of three busy kids. They barely had time to think straight let alone to have alone time for the two of them. "I guess we just have to decide what we want to do."
"Well what are the options?" Ron said doubtfully.
"We could separate." She said in a matter of fact tone. "We'll get a divorce, sort out custody agreements, sell the house and split it fifty-fifty. We'll remain amicable for the kids and move on and get our own lives."
"We stay together. We acknowledge that we need to work on our marriage and we do just that. Try and make time for each other, try and remember why we fell in love in the first place, try to get back to how we were."
There was a long silence.
He nodded once. "I think...well I think...I think we should go for...option two. I still think there's something between us. We've been together eighteen years, we can't just throw that away."
"I don't want to start over." She confessed quietly and honestly, releasing a plea from the heart without even really realising it.
"We have to try, don't we?"
"I think so. We owe it to ourselves." Sometimes Ron was incredibly insightful, this was one of those times, and it never failed to shock her.
"We owe it to what we used to have." She agreed quietly.
It would be difficult to fall in love all over again and perhaps it wouldn't work. Maybe after months they would realise that they really weren't in love again or that they needed something that the other couldn't give or that there was reason they had fallen apart in the first place. But there was a very small chance that they would be able to be in love again and they were both holding on and hoping for that small chance.
Angelina Weasley felt that her life so far had been pretty good.
It hadn't been perfect, not by any means, but it had been pretty good. She had married a good man, a man she loved very much who loved her back and who worked very hard to provide her with a good life. She had three children whom she loved more than anything in the world. She had a good lifestyle.
Of course, there had been little things along the way. She had lost her very first baby and suffered months of agony whilst they tried for another. They had been unable to conceive for a second time, even after Roxanne had been born and they had thought their fertility problems were over, and so had adopted. Carin was Italian, her mother was too young to take care of a baby and no one knew who her father was and so she had been placed in an orphanage. They had been holidaying there when they saw her and Angelina had been smitten. Carin was her child. She had been the very first time she'd seen her. And finally, finally when they thought they would have to adopt again, she had found out she was pregnant with Max. Little Max was a bundle of joy. He was their very own little miracle baby.
She'd read all about the ending of the law, of course. She could hardly miss it anyway. Everyone was talking about it and they were having a giant street party in Diagon Alley right outside her flat. She had gone down to join in with Fred because her husband was incapable of ignoring a party (growing older had not changed him at all, he was still like an overgrown four year old with the same infectious smile and very cunning puppy eyes) but she hadn't really bothered with the sentiment of the celebrations.
She had burned the divorce papers. They had no need of them. They were in love. They had been through so much together and yet, throughout it all they had remained together.
There was nothing in the world that could split them up. Nothing.
"Forever, babe." He said gripping her hips tightly.
"Always." She muttered against his lips.
Lee Jordan was not the type of man to express his emotions openly. He was the leader of the anti-marriage law rebellion group and, as such, was far too busy planning campaigns and avoiding capture and running operations to bother with emotions and feelings.
He certainly hadn't risen through the ranks so quickly to become leader through sitting down and talking about how he felt every five minutes.
He was the fifth leader of the organisation and widely known as being the very best. The media knew all about him – he was a kind of hero figure, the former war hero now turned rebel group leader. They knew who he was. They knew everything about them. He even sent in recorded interviews for them to print. And yet, they had no idea where he was. It was genius. He was infamous. The Ministry hated him – he'd escaped them four times now and had evaded capture now for five years.
Like he said – he didn't do emotion. He didn't have time for it.
And yet, when Lee found out that the law was finally over, he sank to his knees and cried like a baby. All those years of living on the run, constantly moving and always looking over his shoulder. All those years of protest and demonstrations and generally creating havoc. All of it. It was all over. It had all been worth it.
They were free.
Thank Merlin, they were free at last.
He could come out of hiding. He could see his family and friends again. He could live in a real house, one which actually belonged to him, and have actual possessions. He would never ever ever have to marry Pansy Parkinson.
He became vaguely aware, through his tears, that someone was holding him and muttering soothing nothings.
Penelope Clearwater. His second in command. Ruthless, persistent and utterly beautiful. She challenged him on a regular basis, she wasn't afraid to argue with him or say when she thought he was being stupid. She had his back throughout and had single handedly saved him from near capture more times that he could even count. She was incredible.
He reached out for her, pulling her to him and wrapping his arms around her waist. He'd wanted to do this for so long, it had never seemed appropriate though. Their relationship would cross so many boundaries. Firstly, he would be possibly jeopardising his position. He had more important things to do than to fall in love. He couldn't afford to lose focus for a moment. Secondly, she was his second in command. That was a big no. And, of course, they could never get married. He was technically engaged to Pansy sodding Parkinson.
They'd came pretty close to crossing those lines a few times before in the past. A stolen kiss once, when she'd saved him from Ministry capture at the very last minute. He'd later put it down to the thrill of the moment. A shared bed moment once, when there was only one bedroom in the house they were staying in. He'd tried to take the sofa but she'd insisted they just share. He'd woken to find them cuddled up together. He'd quickly moved away before she woke and tried very hard not to think about it ever again (unsuccessfully, might he add). An awful lot of hand holding in dangerous situations or desperate times when they thought that all their efforts were for nothing and that the law would never be ended.
Unspoken promises and things they'd never said and things they wanted to do but hadn't.
He pulled her close to him, even closer, and whispered five words in her ear. Five words he'd wanted to say for a long time and five words he'd dreamed of saying every day for the last four years and five words she'd been waiting for for about seventeen years. "I love you. Marry me?"
She whispered one word back. The one word he'd waited years for, the one word he'd imagined her saying over and over and the one word she'd been waiting to say for seventeen long years.
Pansy received the news a day later than everyone else. British citizens living abroad had been informed by owl but, of course, she had ended up with an owl with no sense of direction.
When she finally got the letter she had been waiting for for about seventeen and a half years, she had no idea what to do or say. She froze and read it again. She pinched herself to see if she was hallucinating and then she screamed.
Gabriel came running in, panic evident on his face. "What is it?"
She grinned at him hugely. "Let's get married!"
"What?" He snatched the letter from her hands and a beaming smile crept across his face. He pulled her up and into his arms and spun in a circle.
He set her down on her feet and held her until the room stopped spinning. Then, copying a movement she had dreamed about for years, he slid down onto one knee.
"Pansy Parkinson, we've been together for seventeen years now and living wickedly in sin for fifteen. I do believe it's time to make an honest woman of you." He smirked. She couldn't hold back a tiny giggle. "Would you do me the immense honour of being my wife?"
"Yes. Yes. Yes!"
This had been a really big day for Neville Longbottom.
Firstly, he had been offered the position of Head of Gryffindor House as well as his job teaching Herbology. He had, obviously, accepted and then seriously considered doing a happy dance before deciding against it. He was a teacher, for Merlin's sake. He was a grown adult, this was not the time nor the place.
Instead, he'd Apparated home just to tell Hannah. She was having time off from her work. Her Uncle Tom had passed away ten years ago and had left her the bar in his will. It was doing really well. Well enough that she had been able to hire staff to take over for her whilst she was away.
The second big thing that had happened was that the Ministry had finally ended the marriage law. It didn't really affect Neville – him and Hannah would not be divorcing - but it was still a pretty big event. Him and Hannah had spoken about it but their conversation had been about friends of theirs who would be divorcing and the effect it would have on their children, many of whom he taught at school, rather than the possibility of them splitting.
Neville had already nearly lost Hannah once, he knew what it was like and he knew that he would never let her go again. They had stumbled on their path but they'd gotten back on the straight and they'd been very happy since. These past eighteen years had been the happiest of his life.
They'd had three children, all boys – Evan, Robert and Connor – all of whom were good kids. Evan was currently travelling the world on a gap year. He checked in sometimes via the Floo network, usually unannounced (it was always a big shock for whomever was sitting innocently in the lounge to suddenly look up and find his face in the fireplace) to tell them where he was and what a fantastic time he was having. Despite being constantly worried about him, Neville was pleased Evan was happy. Evan had the sort of chances he, Neville, had never gotten to have.
Robert was in his Sixth Year. He was a Hufflepuff, like Hannah had been, and the resemblance between him and his mother was uncanny. He had her gentle nature and sweet spirit, her kind-heartedness and her smile, her blue eyes and pale skin.
Connor was in his Third Year at Hogwarts and spent much of his time creating mischief with Lily Potter (the youngest child of Harry and Ginny) whom he was almost fated to end up with one day. He was very much the baby of the family.
Well, he had been.
That was the third event of the day and probably the biggest. Hannah had gone into labour. They had never considered having a fourth child, not really. They'd always just wanted the three but when Connor had gone off to Hogwarts, Hannah had suddenly decided she needed another baby. She wanted someone to look after and...well, she loved her boys but it was no secret that she had always wanted a little girl. Neville had been more than happy to comply. It had taken a little longer than expected – something they both put down to their age rather than anything more sinister – but she had fallen pregnant.
It had been a relatively easy labour which Hannah had been very thankful for. And now, looking down at his sleeping wife and the newest member of his family, Neville was glad they had decided to have another baby. Their little Alice Augusta Longbottom.
Their family was now officially complete. In fact, his life was pretty much complete.
Beautiful, loving wife? Happy, healthy children? Dream job?
Check, check and check.
The marriage law had ended leaving a pretty impressive wake in its' path.
Behind it lay many happy couples, both those who had already been in love and those for whom it had helped to find love. Behind it lay hundreds of children, hundreds of bright young things to repopulate the wizarding world and ensure its continued survival. Behind it lay many unhappy people, people who had been married for eighteen long years to people they hated, people who had been forced to make the best of bad situations and for whom, today was the beginning of the rest of their lives.
Today the law had ended. Today, they were free to choose.
A/N: And that, my darlings, is the end. Marriage, Babies and Hatred has been a huge undertaking and I have loved every second of it. It's taken me an awfully long time to write it and when I first started it, all those months ago (in fact, it was actually years ago!), I never thought it would get this out of hand! I was expecting perhaps fifty chapters, when I got to about chapter ten I realised that this was going to be a hugely long story. I've loved writing this and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
As a separate point, I would just like to say that this is 23 pages long and I have never ever written so much in my life. My wrist is killing me but I think it's all been worth it!
I would like to thank everyone who has read this, reviewed this and requested their favourite couple. I have had a phenomenal response to this story and I am just so glad you all enjoyed it so much.
At the present moment, this is really the only thing I'm writing and now that this is finished, I think I will be taking a break from writing. I will, of course, be reading an awful lot of fan fiction but when I do return to writing, it will probably be in the Twilight fandom. If you're interested, please do check every so often for new work because I promise that eventually it will be there.
If you have any questions at all about M,B&H or about anything at all, then please don't hesitate to ask. Just review or put them in a PM and I will do my best to answer. Whether you want to know why I chose to have a certain couple act a certain way or what my favourite colour is –please just feel free to get in touch.
There are a few special mentions I would like to make. To LovelyRoses – who actually thanked me for being born in her last review, unfortunately I can claim no credit, all thanks must go to my parents there. To Lucy Whitters whose rambling reviews never failed to make me laugh. To those people who reviewed regularly – you know who you are and I would love to thank you all individually but I haven't the time or energy, so I'll have to settle for this mass thankyou! For FlutePower and crazywriter101 who guessed about Lee and Penelope. For all those who really did want Hermione and Blaise to be together, I once again say I am so very sorry but it never was going to happen! For all those Ron and Padma fans – I am sorry but they did kind of get a happy ending. For everyone who read those author's notes and urged me on and wished me happy birthday and told me good luck in my exams and expressed their sympathies when I lost my grandfather – you are amazing. For everyone who thought that the last chapter was the very end – I am sorry I tricked you all there, I just couldn't resist. And for everyone who has reviewed – my sincerest thanks. You were my motivation throughout and without you lot, this would never have been finished.