Legitimement Maries: Vivre Libre

Sequel to "Legitimement Maries". Hermione and Fred not only have a marriage to sustain, but they also have a family to raise. How will they manage after being brought together by a marriage law?

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7. Chapter 7: Starfish

If you visit my twitter (@choc_cupcakes32) you can see the awesome Harry Potter themed cake my friend made for my 21st birthday the other day. Hint: Don't forget to stroke it's spine.

 “Mummmm!”

“Daddyyyyy!”

There was a stampede of small feet pattering across the grass as each of the children of the Weasley family ran towards their respective parents, arms flung out and eyes wide open.

Hermione turned around as she felt a pair of thin arms wrap around her waist. Looking down, she came face to face with Henry’s slightly toothless grin. He had recently lost a couple of baby teeth, including both of his very front teeth. It made for an adorable photo at his muggle primary school (elementary school if you are American), but it gave him an annoyingly good excuse to not eat some of his vegetables at dinner.

“Mummy, Uncle Charlie is taking some of the others down to the Quidditch pitch to teach us how to play. Can I go with them?”

Hermione had to consider this. Never having had children, Charlie had not quite grasped the concept that children needed to be watched at all times. His tendency to get over-involved in his activities had caused some strife in the past.

“I suppose that’s okay,” she finally conceded. “As long as Uncle Charlie stays near you at all times, then yes, you may go down to play.”

“Woohoo!” shouted Henry, letting go of his mother and turning to the others. “Let’s go, guys!”

They all took off, running down the hill as fast as their legs would take them. Hermione kept an eye out, looking to see exactly which children were heading down. She was able to count Henry and Archie; Teddy, James and Albus; and Toby.

Going back inside to help her mother-in-law prepare lunch, Hermione resolved to check on them all a little later, just to make sure that no one had fallen off their broom or been hit in the head by a stray bludger.

All too soon, lunch was ready, and Hermione volunteered to take a short walk down to the orchard and Quidditch pitch to collect Charlie and all the children. She mentally created a tally to ensure that everyone was found.

The babies were inside the house with their mothers and fathers. Lily, Sandy, Myrthe, Heloise, Molly and Lucy had built a fort in the garden, close to the house. Victoire had decided to be very grown up that morning and help her grandmother in the kitchen.

As Hermione approached the orchard she could hear the shouts of Teddy, Henry, James, Albus and Toby. It seemed that Archie had abandoned the game to play with some worms from the ground. Moving towards him, Hermione picked him out of the dirt pile, doing her best to dust him off. However, she could not help but think that she had forgotten someone.

It was then that her stomach contents seemed to travel up her oesophagus as panic set in.

Stella was not with them.

Hermione had already been to all the areas the children were allowed to play in, and she had not been there.

“Archie?” she said as calmly as her body would allow. “Do you know where your sister is?”

“Nope,” he grinned as he let go of a particularly juicy bug, leaning over his mother’s arms to watch it fall to its death.

“Let’s head back up to the house for lunch, and we’ll see if we can find her along the way,” Hermione replied, walking as fast as she could with Archie still in her arms.

Pulling her phone out from her pocket, she quickly scrolled down the contacts to Fred’s number. It attempted to ring a few times, but soon cut out to a scratchy, static sound. There was too much magic in the air for the device to work properly.

Resorting to magic, she grabbed her wan from her pocket before depositing Archie on the ground. Holding onto his hand with one of hers, she used her dominant hand to cast a patronus, imbuing it with a message for Fred. Perhaps he had seen her, and Hermione was worrying for nothing.

Reaching the house in record time, Hermione approached Fred.

“Do you have Stella with you?”

Fred looked completely perplexed before a very worried expression crossed his face. The patronus dissolved as Hermione walked through it, not allowing it to give its message.

“I thought that you had her,” he replied, instantly whipping his head around to search for her.

“No,” replied Hermione, her eyes widening with realisation. “I thought that you might have had her.”

“Stella?” Hermione called out, hoping with all her heart to hear her daughter’s high-pitched voice call out back to her.

Fleur offered to look upstairs in the bedrooms. Perhaps she had grown tired, and fell asleep in one of the beds. Charlie and George went to look out in the chicken coop, whilst Angelina searched the lower half of the house. Every person went to look in a different place, attempting to cover as much ground as possible.

If she was anywhere nearby she would be found within minutes, however, each adult trooped back to meet up in the kitchen with no response. No one seemed to have seen her.

The noise in the house escalated quickly.

Adults were nervously discussing all the possibilities as to where the little girl could be, whilst some of the younger children had started crying because they were hungry. Their mothers attempted to soothe them, but nothing seemed to be working.

Hermione felt sick. It was like all the walls of the house were closing in on her, and she needed to get out. There was not enough air in this room.

Standing at the back door of the Burrow, she opened it gazing out into the empty garden. The beads of sweat that had accumulated on her forehead and palms had nothing to do with the warm summer air that was surrounding her.

“Mummy?”

Hermione looked down to see Henry by her side.

“Darling, Mummy is busy at the moment,” she said to him, reverting her gaze back to the garden, hoping to see her daughter materialise somewhere.

“But Mummy, it’s about Stella,” he said, speaking louder so that he could get his mother’s full attention.

Hermione’s head snapped back down to her eldest son.

“What about Stella?” she asked him, her voice far more urgent than before.

“When we went to play Quidditch with Uncle Charlie, she followed us for awhile. She still might be down at the orchard.”

Anybody who was in close proximity had heard what Henry had told his mother.

“Did you see where she went after that?” Fred immediately asked attempting to sound as calm as possible so that he would not scare his son.

“No,” replied Henry, shaking his head. “But we can start looking for her down there, can’t we?”

This seemed to spur Hermione into action.

“Henry, you stay here with Archie and the other children. You can start having some of your lunch. Daddy and I will be back soon, with the other adults.”

After checking that Archie was indeed safely with the others, Hermione and Fred immediately began to jog through the garden of The Burrow in the direction of the orchard, hoping that Stella had not travelled too far.

Having spent a great deal of his childhood here, Fred was at the advantage. He knew all the nooks and crannies a person would be able to hide in, however it was Hermione who spotted the little girl’s dress in the water first.

A touch of hot pink was visibly floating in the pond.

Hermione’s scream never left her, and it felt as though her heart had stopped beating in her chest.

Stella was face down in the water, arms and legs splayed out to either side of her body. There was no movement.

Bolting towards the water, it was only then that Hermione’s voice screeched through the air, shouting for her daughter. She could feel Fred beside her, silent but running towards the pond all the same.

Just as they approached the water’s edge, the little girl’s head popped up, and she grinned.

“Look Mummy!” she cried out, promptly putting her face back in the water whilst the remainder of her body stayed floating on the top.

“Stella! Stop that!” she heard Fred’s voice reverberate through the trees, carrying across the water with impressive sonority.

Stella’s head popped up once more, confused at her father’s command.

Fred reached the water first, and yanked her out by the arm.

“Don’t you ever do that again!” he said to her, face almost as red as his hair in his anger.

Stella’s smile vanished, and her blue eyes looked at her father in fear.

“That is not safe,” Fred continued, but in a slightly quieter tone. “You cannot go near the water without an adult.”

He pulled her close to him, wrapping his arms around her small frame protectively.

Hermione could not help but release tears of relief. Stella was safe.

Charlie, George, Harry and Ron had come running as soon as they had heard the shouting and screaming. Panting, colour re-entered their faces once they saw that their niece was alright.

“Don’t you ever do that again,” Hermione sobbed, wrapping her arms around her husband and daughter.

“Swimming, Mumma,” voiced Stella, not quite able to articulate herself in a full sentence. “Like fishies. Like star fishies.”

Despite the fact that he needed to be disciplining his daughter for her unsafe actions, Fred could not help but chuckle.

“Were you trying to be a starfish, darling?” he asked Stella.

“Yes!” Stella giggled enthusiastically, throwing her arms out. “Stella Starfish!”

Even though her heart was still racing at a million miles per hour, Hermione could see a little of the humour in the situation.

“My goodness, by the sounds of things, I think that’s going to turn out to be your new nickname, Stella. What do you think?”

“Yes!” crowed Stella. “Stella Starfish! Stella Starfish! Stella Starfish!”

“That’s settled then. How about a bath and some lunch for the little starfish?” asked Hermione, pulling her thin cardigan off her shoulders to wrap Stella in.

With each her father holding her left hand, and her mother holding her right hand, Stella skipped all the way back to the Burrow, eagerly awaiting her lunch as though nothing had happened.

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