Hermione Granger and Ministerial Decree 7391
Disclaimer: I don't own the HP world. In my mind Fred is not dead and the epilogue did not happen. All other deviations from Rowling's world in my story are merely oversight. This is my very first story; be kind, please.
Summary: Hermione Granger always assumed she'd one day officially become a Weasley. However, when the Ministry implements a Marriage Law she finds herself compelled to join the Weasley family sooner than she anticipated and in a way she never would have imagined – as the bride of George Weasley.
Ministerial Decree 7391
"Hermione! Ginny! Breakfast!"
Hermione reluctantly put down the article she was reading, her concentration interrupted by Mrs. Weasley's yelling from the ground floor. She glanced at her younger companion.
"Well, Gin. Ready for another meal at the Burrow?"
"Ugh, I'm still full from last night." Ginny groaned. Mrs. Weasley was notorious for ensuring her children – both biological and assumed – were well fed. The end of the Second Wizarding War only served to exacerbate this compulsion. Even though over a year had passed since the night of Voldemort's defeat, she would still frequently insist that all her children, their significant others, and several of their friends attended large family dinners at the Burrow. The previous night had been no exception as Mrs. Weasley had prepared a bonafide feast for her family and most of the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix.
"At least you have an excuse not to do that boring reading anymore." The red-head laughed, tossing aside her copy of the Holyhead Harpies' playbook.
"Hey! The ethical implications of animal to object transfiguration is an important conversation in magic. In fact…" Hermione cut off her lecture suddenly, noticing the glazed over look in Ginny's eyes. Only several weeks had elapsed since she had left Hogwarts upon completion of her Seventh year NEWT exams; nevertheless Hermione deeply missed the intellectual interactions and often resorted to reading published articles in magical quarterlies to fulfill her academic needs. She knew, however, that her housemates didn't share these interests. It was easy for her to forget that, though, and often found herself in the middle of long-winded rants or one-sided discussions before she would realize that no one was listening.
The two witches made their way from the bedroom they shared on the second floor of the Burrow. While there were several unused rooms at the Burrow, Mrs. Weasley liked to keep the other rooms available for when the twins, Percy, Charlie, or Bill and his family would come to visit. Hermione didn't mind sharing a room with Ginny. Hermione counted Ginny amongst her dearest friends. Their friendship had only become stronger during their seventh year at Hogwarts. After the fall of Voldemort, Hermione and Ginny had returned to school the following autumn. Without Harry and Ron – both had taken Minister of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt up in his offer to enter Auror training – Hermione and Ginny were inseparable. If she was to be completely honest, Hermione would have to admit that sometimes she even felt closer to Ginny than she did with the other two prongs of the Golden Trio, her best friend, Harry, and her boyfriend, Ron.
The long table the Weasleys ate around was already crowded when Hermione and Ginny entered the dining room. Mr. Weasley sat at one end reading the Daily Prophet. Fred and George were sitting along one side, dressed identically in their Magenta Weasley Wizard Wheezes robes. Obviously the two were stopping in for breakfast before going into the shop for the day.
Bill and Fleur were along the other side. Their newborn daughter, Victoire, sat in Fleur's lap. When Victoire had been born nine months to the day after the Order's triumph, Bill had endured endless teasing from his siblings, particularly from the twins. Fred had been especially merciless. In the midst of the battle, debris from a collapsing wall landed on him, rendering him in comatose. There had been many tense days following the battle during which doctors at St. Mungo's were unsure whether he would survive or succumb to his injuries. While Fleur's insistence that Delacours were often born premature fell on deaf ears, the circumstances surrounding how Victoire's was conceived didn't lessen the family's love for her. The twins particularly fawned all over her. Upon the first time he held her, George had declared that she already had the making of a supreme troublemaker. Something about the twinkle in her eyes apparently.
Harry and Ron completed the group. The two were sitting at the foot of the table lost in conversation with each other. Hermione and Ginny took their spots beside their respective boyfriends. Hermione glanced appreciatively at the impressive spread on the kitchen table, settling on a couple of pancakes.
"Where are the others?" Hermione addressed her question to no one in particular while pouring syrup over her cakes.
"Charlie and Erin already left for work" George answered. Erin was Charlie's fiancée. Charlie had moved back to London after the battle at Hogwarts to be closer to family and had taken a job at the Ministry of Magic. The feisty, Muggle-born Witch also had a position with the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Hermione didn't think that she had that much in common with the tomboyish Erin, but it was pleasant to be around another who was familiar with Muggle customs and who had read Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and some of Hermione's other favourite Muggle authors.
"Percy is at Penny's flat," George continued. Mrs. Weasley, making her way from the kitchen with a fresh batch of hash browns, let out a loud harrumph. It was no secret that Molly did not approve of her sons spending nights with their girlfriends.
"Hopefully he made her breakfast. Otherwise, I don't know what a keeper like Penny is doing with a dingus like Perce," Fred laughed, while reaching across the table to grab a scone. He added it to the substantial amount of food already on his plate.
"I don't know Fred. A lot of girls will do crazy things in order to become a Weasley." George flashed a sly grin across the table at Hermione. He returned his attention to his twin and the pair continued exchanging jokes about their order brother.
Hermione was surprised that she had to stifle a giggle at this comment. She didn't appreciate the way the twins teased Ron. They were especially ruthless towards Ron over dating Hermione, constantly chiding their younger brother that he had no business being with the smartest Witch they knew. Hermione didn't know whether to feel complemented by the high esteem the troublemakers held her in or offended by the low heed they gave her relationship. She shyly glanced at Ron who was happily tucking away French toast. He had hardly bothered to look up from his breakfast to acknowledge her arrival at the breakfast table.
Comparing her relationship to others was an exercise Hermione knew was unhealthy. Still, she couldn't help but cast a slightly jealous look at Ginny and Harry. The two were sitting so close on the table's bench that Ginny may as well have been sitting in Harry's lap. From Harry's animated hand motions, she easily deduced that they could only be talking Quidditch. Ever since Ginny had been selected as the Harpies' newest Chaser, it had been difficult to engage Harry in a conversation not related to his girlfriend's Quidditch career.
"Mione, what are you up to today?" Ginny turned from Harry to address her friend.
"Oh typical, you know." Hermione quickly responded. "Probably do some reading before I have to work at three." After completing her NEWT exams Hermione had taken a job at a Muggle café several blocks from the Leaky Caldron. Ron had cautioned that she was wasting her education and throwing away her potential at the café. He was probably right, but following the adventure of her early teen years and the war with which it culminated, Hermione had craved the degree of simplicity and normality the café offered. The different routine was also welcomed: making lattes and serving muffins to rushed Muggles couldn't be further from searching for horcruxes and trying to defeat Lord Voldemort.
"Ok, well I don't have practice until this evening. So instead of reading, let's go shopping!" Ever since Charlie had announced his engagement, Ginny had been pressuring her into going dress hunting. "Charlie's wedding is at the end of summer and if you don't look super gorgeous, I'm going to consider that a personal failure," the red-head threatened with a good-naturedly chuckle.
Hermione was about to respond, but before she could settle on a sufficient comeback, the entire table was shocked into silence by a large, unfamiliar owl swooping into the dining room. Dropping an official looking envelope on the table, the owl was left to house as swiftly as it had entered. The envelope didn't even touch the table before it was caught by Gryffindor's youngest seeker ever.
"It's from the Ministry," Harry said. "It's addressed to the Weasley household.
"That includes you, dear. Feel free to open it." Mrs. Weasley offered.
Harry quickly broke the ministerial seal. He pulled out a stack of papers. After scanning them briefly, his emerald eyes doubled in size behind his steal-rimmed glasses.
"I-I-I d-don't …" he sputtered. Harry's reaction took Hermione by surprise; she had never experienced a scenario which had rendered the Boy Who Lived (Twice) speechless.
"What is it Harry?"
"What is happening?"
"Read it out loud,"
"Harry? Is it serious?"
"What are those?"
The table erupted in confusion and questioning; no one was really certain how to gage Harry's reaction.
"Tell us what the papers say, sweetie," Mrs. Weasley encouraged.
"It's from the Ministry," Harry stated the obvious. "It says that Ministerial Decree 7391 was passed this morning." This comment was met with blank stares. Harry continued, reciting verbatim what was written on the page in his hand.
"Ministerial Decree 7391, An Act Pertaining to Unmarried Witches and Wizards under the Purview of the United Kingdom Chapter of the Ministry of Magic, enacted 19 June 1998 at 07:00, will here to take effect. By order of the Act all unmarried witches and wizards coming of age by or before this date will be required to marry a wizard or witch of the Ministry of Magisc's choosing. The selection process has already been completed by qualified representatives of the Department of Interpersonal Witch and Wizard Relations from the Ministry of Magic. Assigned couples are expected to enter into matrimony before the established deadline of 31 August 1999. Failure to comply with these stipulations is considered an offence and offenders will be punished appropriately."
"Oh bloody fucking hell" Mr. Weasley's mumbled, shattering the stunned silence engulfing the dining table. Later Hermione would note that Mrs. Weasley hadn't even reacted to her husband's profanity. Likely because he had merely echoed what each and every one of them was thinking.