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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8. Chapter 8: Reunion

Chapter 8: Reunion

"I was speaking with Hannah Longbottom the other day. She sounded stressed."

Hermione had nestled herself into the couch, cuddling into Fred's side. It was eight in the evening, the children were in bed and there was a glass of red wine poised in Hermione's hand. She felt immensely relaxed as she felt Fred's fingers gently running up and down her back. The television was on, the soft volume permeating the air around them; but neither of them was paying it any attention.

"Why would she be stressed?" Fred asked, using the hand that was not around Hermione to pick his own wine glass up from the coffee table.

"Well, she's been trying to get the refurbishment of the pub completed for Maisie's birthday party."

"Who?" asked Fred.

"Maisie," replied Hermione patiently. "Hannah and Neville's daughter. We are invited to her sixth birthday party."

Fred shook his head. "Sorry, too many kids to keep track of."

"Anyway, Hannah wants to have the pub ready so that she can host the birthday in it. From the sounds of things, there are going to be a lot of people invited, and she'll really need the space."

"Who's going?" Fred inquired, eyebrows rising slightly in curiosity.

Hermione thought for a moment, trying to recall the names that Hannah mentioned in their recent conversation.

"It'll be your brother's and Ginny, with their spouses and children. Seamus and Lavender are bringing their children, as well as Dean and his wife. Hannah told me what her name is, but I forgot," confessed Hermione.

"Did Dean's wife go to Hogwarts?"

"No, I don't think she did. She may have been homeschooled, like Dee," Hermione replied, taking another sip of her wine. "There will be others, but I don't know who they are either."

"It'll be like a school reunion," chuckled Fred, also sipping at his glass.

The couple fell silent for a little while, enjoying the soft voices from the television. It was a stark contrast to the sounds of their children fighting and screaming with one another. Not that they didn't love their children, it was just they never really had the chance to get quiet time with one another. They hardly got the time to think and process what was going on in their lives.

Although each day had the chance to be mundane, the seven-year-old Henry and six-year-old Archie prevented this from eventuating. Stella, at three-years-old was also there to lend a helping hand.

After months of deliberation, Hermione decided to give up any chance of a career until all her children were in Hogwarts. It seemed like far too selfish an option to think of a career at this point in time. Besides, Fred made more than enough money for them to live comfortably.

"Fred?" Hermione looked up at her husband's face. Their marriage was edging closer and closer to a decade, and Hermione was still in awe of that fact. Especially considering that they barely acknowledged each others' presence before the wedding.

Closing her eyes, she savoured the kiss he placed on her forehead.

"Yes, love?"

"I love you."

"I love you too," Fred replied, bringing his thumb up to Hermione's lower lip, wiping away the tiniest trace of wine. "I couldn't be happier that the law forced us together, and gave me the excuse to do what I hadn't had the courage to do myself."

Hermione smiled, but her eyebrows creased slightly in the middle.

"Do you mean to say that you wanted to ask me out before the law came into effect?"

"Of course I did! I was just too gutless to actually do it. I took quite a fancy to you," he added with a wink.

"Oh really," said Hermione, her eyebrows rising as she positioned herself on the couch so that she could look directly into Fred's face. "For how long? It couldn't be that long, you were still in school in 1995 - "

"Well, actually..."

Hermione gasped when she saw the expression on Fred's face.

"What? What do you mean 'well, actually'?"

Fred let out a long string of words in a long mumble, the tops of his ears turning a distinct fiery red.

"I'm sorry," Hermione smirked. "I didn't quite catch that. How long has it been?"

"1994."

Hermione's eyes rounded as she took in what Fred was saying to her.

"But that means I would have been fifteen, and you would have been sixteen."

Fred let out a very quiet and mumbled agreement.

"You kept it a secret that whole time?"

Fred nodded. "Well, I never told George, but I think he had a bit of clue. He wouldn't stop smirking at me when he first suggested that we pair up. I think I kicked him under the table a few times."

Hermione laughed out loud, instantly silencing herself. She did not want to wake the children.

"Why would you kick him? Wouldn't you have been jumping for joy?"

Fred thought about this for a few moments, wondering why he hadn't been indeed 'jumping for joy'. Yet, when thinking of that day, he could only conjure ambivalent feelings.

"I think it's because I had lived with the infatuation for so long. I had created a complete fantasy world in my head based around the idea that you and I would never be together in real life. The image in my head had become so extensive and real that I was content with that. Having you in real life introduced real problems. It gave you the chance the reject me. If it was my little world inside my little head, then it would be perfection forever, completely untouched."

Hermione did not know whether to feel happy or sad. She was elated that she could depend on Fred's love for her. It was genuine, even through the circumstances under which they had been brought together; however there was the poignancy of the fact that Fred pined for her for years, and she had been too wrapped up in Harry and Ron and Voldemort to notice.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you," she finally said to him, leaning forward to touch her own lips to his. When he responded, Hermione felt all the tension in her body dissipate. Any misgivings she had felt about not being good enough for Fred evaporated under his touch. After all, he had loved her when she hadn't even been trying to love him back.

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"Wow, Hannah really went all out for this, didn't she?" chuckled Fred as he looked around the Leaky Cauldron.

Usually a child's party consisted of a few close friends with balloons and streamers. Hannah and Neville Longbottom clearly had a lot of close friends.

"Daddy!" Stella's voice screeched in his ear. "Me down!"

Fred loosened his grip on his daughter as he put her wriggling body down so that she could run further into the room. He watched with amusement as she ran straight towards her friends, Juliet and Annie. Annie was Neville's youngest daughter, whilst Juliet belonged to Seamus and Lavender Finnegan. They were quite close in age, and because of this they had grown up together.

Before Fred even had the chance to turn around, Henry and Archie had already bolted off towards their cousins and friends. He barely had a moment to check that they were safe before he felt Hermione lacing her fingers in his, gently tugging him over to where Harry and Ginny were standing with drinks in their hands.

Ginny chuckled at Hermione's bewildered expression before handing her a goblet of golden liquid.

"It's champagne," she said to Hermione. "I've filled it brimful. It looks like we might need it."

Hermione gratefully took a sip, relaxing as soon as the cool bubbles touched her tongue.

"No wonder Hannah seemed so stressed the last time I saw her," Hermione said to Ginny. "This place looks immaculate. Much nicer than when Tom was in charge, no offence to him. Nice guy, but he could have done a bit more with the place."

Ginny murmured her agreement before pulling over another lady whom Hermione only vaguely recognised.

"Mharielle! How are you?" Ginny hugged the woman before turning to Hermione. "Hermione, have you met? She married Dean. Mhariellie, this is my sister-in-law, Hermione."

Hermione greeted the young woman warmly, exchanging pleasantries. Dean had done well to snag such a lovely lady. She was not only kind and warm, but exceptionally pretty. Her blonde hair was pin-straight all the way to her backside, and her brilliant green eyes stood out like jewels on her face.

"Children?" inquired Hermione after awhile.

"Oh, yes," replied Mharielle in her soft voice. "Those three girls over there are mine: Tessa, Tahlulah and Tabitha. They turned four a few weeks ago."

Hermione looked down at the woman. Her forest green wrap dress neatly outlined her slim figure. It did not look like she had ever given birth to triplets.

"Well, I have to say that you are one of the lucky ones. Triplets! That's all three done in one go," Ginny chuckled, taking another sip of her drink.

Giggling, Mharielle agreed with Ginny, but she did mention that it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. The trio talked motherhood for awhile, but Hermione found herself becoming distracted.

Over the rim of her glass she chanced a look over at Fred.

He was standing a short distance away, talking to Harry, Dean and Seamus. She caught the odd word or two about business plans and careers before deciding that it wasn't interesting enough to listen in to.

Surrounded by good friends, food and drink, Hermione couldn't help but feel content with her life.

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