Hermione was pulled from her thoughts by the call of Molly Weasley. It was one week until they could return to Hogwarts to finish their educations now that Voldemort had been defeated and they were all starting to cope with the new world around them. Hermione had retrieved her parents and given them back their memories, but after explaining the circumstances and the ensuing fight their relationship was quite strained so she had come to stay at the Burrow. The war had been rough on all of them, but life was getting back to normal. Even George had gone back to work, with the help of Charlie who had decided it best to stay near his family for the time being.
"I wonder what that could be. We already got our Hogwarts letters," mused Ginny, looking up from polishing her new Head Girl badge. At first Hermione had been jealous, but it was Ginny's 7th year and she shouldn't be punished because of the war.
Once they got downstairs they each received an envelope and kiss from their respective boyfriends, Harry and Ron. All four envelopes were identical and they each gave each other a look before opening them.
Attention all unmarried witches and wizards between the ages of 17-35:
With the fall of Lord Voldemort our numbers have been greatly diminished and the future of the British wizarding world is at risk. It is the responsibility of the Ministry to take every action to remedy this problem, therefore we are enacting a marriage law.
Upon receipt of this letter you have one week to find an acceptable match and marry within 9 months. If no engagement is filed with the Ministry in that time you must be subjected to a soul mate test. All those with viable soul mates* must wed within 9 months**. There will then be another week for those without viable soul mates to choose their own match and marry within 9 months. If one is not found you will fill out a questionnaire and be matched up by Ministry matchmakers and marry within 9 months.
Those who do not comply with this new law will lose their jobs and may be subjected to time in Azkaban.
*Viable soul mate meaning opposite gender, living, unwed, unrelated, and magical (so that all future children of this match have a higher chance of being magical). If you have a soul mate match in which one party is wed the married party has the option of divorcing the current spouse an meeting his or her soul mate, but will not be privy to the name of the soul mate until such decision is final.
**If one's soul mate is underage you will be given the choice of waiting until your soul mate is of age or moving on as if you haven't a viable soul mate.
"Mum, you may want to read this," piped up Ron, handing the letter to his mother. They were all stunned, but no one seemed particularly upset except Ron.
Hermione was almost excited. After her falling out with her parents it would be nice to have permanent ties in the wizarding world, especially since it would be her last year at Hogwarts. She noticed that Harry and Ginny hadn't taken their eyes off each other since they'd finished reading. She looked up and noticed that Ron was leaving the room.
"Where are you going?"
"Pack." One word. It couldn't be a good sign considering he usually left his packing until the last minute. As she started after him she felt Molly's hand on her arm.
"Best let him work it out on his own for a little while. Ron has never been one to be told what to do," said the older woman, sagely.
"I guess I'll go start packing too, then," sighed Hermione, leaving the room and fighting tears when she noticed that Harry and Ginny still hadn't taken their eyes off one another.
The next few days were very quiet. Hermione saw Ron for a few hours here and there, exchanged a few chaste kisses, but she could tell that he was still upset.
He's probably just trying to decide when to propose to me, she thought. He's always been very nervous about things like that. She laughed and thought about him not getting up the courage to ask her to the Yule ball almost 4 years ago. And that was 4 years ago. He's loved me since then. There is nothing to be worried about.
Friday night at dinner Harry and Ginny came inside from a walk. Ginny's eyes were red and puffy and neither could seem to stop smiling.
"Mum, Dad, I'm getting married!" She beamed, holding up her left hand adorned with a rather large stone.
"Oh about time! I was starting to have heart palpitations! Harry dear, what took you so long?! If you'd done this earlier I could have planned an engagement party or a family dinner! Now there's no time to celebrate before winter break!" Molly squawked, eyes shining with tears at the happy news of her youngest child marrying the Boy Who Lived… Twice. "Quick, write the news for your brothers and we'll owl them right now, maybe they can come by for dessert or something." She said, shoving parchment and a quill into Ginny's hand, not even looking at the giant rock on her left ring finger.
Hermione excused herself to sit in the garden. She needed a minute before she could be happy for her best girlfriend. As she was leaving an owl swooped over her head, but she paid it no mind.
I really am happy for Harry and Ginny. I am. I am. I am. She's loved him longer than I've loved Ron, so they should be engaged first. But tomorrow is the last day before it moves into soul mate testing, then there's a tiny chance he won't be mine. Who knows, Ginny could be my soul mate. Not everyone's soul mate is their ideal romantic partner. I'm sure if George took the test it would come up Fred. He's probably just waiting until the last minute to surprise me. That's it.
No sooner was it that she'd thought of George and his late twin than George and Angelina strolled through the garden gate.
"Alright 'Mione?" called Angelina.
"Yeah, just getting some fresh air. You know how Molly can be, and she's just gotten the news of her youngest child's engagement."
"Damn! She's already riled up? I figured with you lot going off to school in the morning she'd have better things to think about than weddings and our announcement would be fairly overlooked." Said George.
"You two?? Really? I'm so happy for you!" cried Hermione, hugging them as they passed into the house. And she was. They had both been there for each other after Fred's death it really wasn't surprising that their feelings would grow. They would be good for each other. And Ron would propose to her tomorrow. Maybe on the train. Or in front of the lake. Maybe.
That night she lay in the extra bed in Ginny's room talking wedding plans.
"I can't wait! We'll probably have it here. I want it in the spring. You'll be in lilac so my maid of honor won't clash with my hair," gushed Ginny.
"Of course, Gin, I can't wait." It was a rather lackluster response and the redhead seemed to notice.
"Oh, cheer up 'Mione. Ron always waits until the last minute to do something. He probably didn't want to rain on Harry's parade and Harry waited until our last night here so we wouldn't have to have an engagement party so soon. The last thing my fiancé needs after the war and all of the papers and interviews this summer is a party in his honor. Even if it is for our engagement."
"You're right. I know. I'm being silly. You'll be my maid of honor when I marry your brother, won't you?"
"Of course! And we'll finally be sisters and married to the men of our dreams that we've loved forever and we'll finally be happy after all of the crap we've had to endure in our very short lives."
"Here, here!" they giggled, and turned over to go to sleep.
It was the usual chaos of getting ready to go back to school. There were fewer people on the platform than usual, but it wasn't really a surprise. Some had died, some had decided to stay with their families, some had to support their families, and some couldn't face Hogwarts mere months after they fought for their lives there. But Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione boarded the train like always.
"'Mione, can we find our own compartment real quick? There's something I think we need to talk about." It was the longest sentence any of them had heard from Ron all week.
"Oh, yeah, I have to go up to the Head's compartment for most of the ride and patrol. I'll see you guys later," excused Ginny giving Harry a look that plainly said make something up fast.
"I think I see Neville and Luna," tried Harry, lamely, and went off in the opposite direction.
Hermione and Ron found an empty compartment and he opened the door for her. She was practically buzzing with anticipation.
"Hermione, as you know I have loved you since 4th year. We fought in the war together. You've always kept me out of trouble. We will always be the best of friends and I can't imagine my life without you." She was beaming, her eyes glistened with unshed tears and he thought she'd never looked more beautiful. "But I can't marry you just because the Ministry says I have to. I want to break up and find my soul mate."