The Plight of Fred Weasley
Fred Weasley stood on the balcony of his two-bedroom flat, letting the smoke from his cigarette swirl around him. He rarely smoked - only if he needed to let off steam or if he was completely stressed. George and Angelina had moved out two months ago, but George had hated the smell of cigarettes, so he had kept his habit to a minimum. Now that he was alone, he smoked more frequently.
Just another habit to thank Sirius for.
Fred blew out another ring of smoke and flicked the cigarette. He sighed and hung his head. Tomorrow was Sunday, which meant family dinner. It would be the first time that he would have to see her since the announcement. His heart fluttered just thinking about her. He put his cigarette in his mouth and sucked on it, letting it calm him. He stabbed the tiny nub into the semi-full ashtray as he walked back into his apartment. His coffee table was littered with papers, mostly paperwork for the shop below. The letters on top were the only thing not work related on the table. He picked it up again as he read the first letter he received again.
Dear Mister Frederick G. Weasley,
We at the Department of Magical Births and Marriages hope this letter finds you well. As you may be aware, one year ago, Harry Potter defeated He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named at the Battle of Hogwarts. While this was a joyous time, it was also a sad one. The Second Wizarding War, as well as the First one, severely decreased the Magical population of the United Kingdom. In the months that followed, birth rates dropped at an alarming rate - only 2% of Magical couples were conceiving or trying to.
This issue was brought to the Wizengamot, who voted, amended, and reinstated a marriage law that helped the Magical community in the 1300’s. While the olde Marriage Law was sufficient, the Wizengamot wanted to amend it to make it more inclusive. So, without further ado, here is the Marriage Law of 1999:
- Any wizard between the ages of 18 and 40 and any witch between the ages of 17 and 35 will be matched with another witch or wizard in the wizarding community. The two will be matched on blood status (Purebloods will be matched with Half-bloods and Muggle-borns), personality compatibility, fertility, and sexual compatibility.
- Once matched, the two have one year to prepare for marriage. If the two fail to marry within the one-year time frame, then the two will be rematched. If one or both refuse to comply with the marriage portion, the two will be forced out of the Magical community.
- After the marriage, the couple will have two years to produce their first child. If by the two years, the couple has not supplied a child, the couple will go in for fertility testing. If the couple refuses for any reason to comply, both will be cast out of the Magical community.
- After the first child, the couple will have three years to produce another child. Should the couple fail for fertility or health issues, specialized Healers will be provided for each couple. If a couple refuses to comply, the couple will be expelled from the Magical community and their first born will be put into Foster care.
These stipulations seem harsh, but it is for the betterment of the Magical community.
If a couple is already engaged to be married or married, the Law will not affect them.
Please come into St. Mungo's for compatibility testing on MONDAY, MAY 3RD at 10:30 AM. Please check in with HEALER GREENGRASS. She will be your personal Healer for you and your future spouse.
Head of Department of Births and Marriages
Fred glanced at the second letter - his results. He picked it up and gleaned at Astoria Greengrass’s neat scrawl. His Healer had been nice, which had surprised him. She had been a Slytherin, but not the typical kind. She was kind, funny, attentive, and patient. The two had bantered about the ethics of the Law, debated the pros and cons of different Quidditch teams, and she even told him about her match, Draco. Fred placed both letters back on the pile of papers on his table and ran a hand over his face. His… fiancée … was probably furious about this whole situation. Hell, he was, too. Yes, he just happened to be matched with the girl of his dreams - literally - but he hated this. She was forced on him. And the two had barely said a word to each other in Hogwarts. Except when she was yelling at him. He smiled at those memories. He had known that he loved her from the first time he saw her, but his brother was there, and he was fairly certain he had no chance against Ron. And now any chance of her happiness was ripped away from her. He had not told anyone who he had been matched with.
Fred stalked towards the liquor cabinet, wrenching the door open. He grabbed a bottle of Bourbon, a Muggle drink that he had come to love. He pulled a tumbler out of the cupboard and poured himself two fingers worth. He downed it easily, lavishing in the sting.
Several pours later, he had come to a decision. While she would never truly be happy with him, he was going to try his damnedest to make her happy. They were both successful people, and he would lavish her with gifts and poetry. George always claimed him to be the more romantic of the two.
Fred woke up with a start on his kitchen floor and suddenly felt sick. Realizing that he had passed out from drinking too much, he groaned and rolled over, trying to make his way into his emergency cabinet. He quickly found the Pepper-Up Potion and the Hangover Potion, downing both. Immediately feeling better, he stripped his clothes and turned on his shower. The steam caressed his skin as he stepped under the scalding water. He quickly washed, mentally preparing for the day.
Molly Weasley had told her children to invite their matches to join them. Fred had not responded to that owl, not knowing what to say at the time. Bill, Fleur, and Charlie would all be fine. Harry and Ginny, too. Harry proposed to Ginny the second she threw herself at him after Voldemort fell. The two were set to marry in about three months. Bill and Fleur were trying for a child. And Charlie and Oliver had been secretly married for two years by the time the war ended, so when Molly found out, she burst into tears. Oliver, of course, was welcomed with open arms.
Fred sighed, thinking about his family and their predicament. George had immediately called to tell him that he and Angelina had been matched. Fred had offered his congratulations with a smile that never reached his eyes. At least someone had a good match.
Fred checked his watch and swore. He had to leave in ten minutes to get to the Burrow. He decided to change into Muggle clothing - dark blue jeans, black loafers, light blue button-down, and a grey cardigan. He rolled up the sleeves of the shirts to his elbows and sighed. George had been pestering him about, “his bird,” as George had affectionately dubbed her. But Fred was adamant about keeping it a secret. Besides, she probably told everyone, anyways.
Fred locked up his apartment, walked out of Diagon Alley, through the Leaky Cauldron, and onto the dank, Muggle London street. He Apparated to the Burrow, the feeling of being squished overtaking his senses for a few moments. He reappeared in front of his childhood home and he sighed, sticking his wand in his back pocket. As he walked toward the Burrow, he stuck his hands in his front pockets, anxious for the night. There was a tent set up in the backyard with several tables connected together. He heard laughter as he opened the front door and saw Charlie, George, Harry, and Oliver all holding glasses of Ogden’s Finest Firewhiskey. George immediately brightened up at Fred’s entrance.
“Fred!” George shouted. The group turned at his entrance, and he gave an awkward wave. George laughed and waved his brother over. “You have no reason to be shy, mate. We’re all here to have a great time! Oi, where’s your bird?” Fred rolled his eyes at his brother.
“She’s around,” Fred answered. George quirked an eyebrow. Harry smirked at Fred. So, Boy Wonder knew. “I actually haven’t the faintest idea where she is, George.”
“She’s in the kitchen,” Harry whispered into Fred’s ear. Harry leaned back and said louder, “The Firewhiskey is on the counter, too.” George eyed Harry suspiciously as Fred nodded and walked to the kitchen. His heart was pounding in his chest. For the first time in almost a year, he was going to see her in person.
Fred stopped as soon as he saw her. Her hair was nowhere near as bushy as it used to be. In fact, it was neatly curled now. The long sleeved, light blue, plaid dress she wore hugged her chest but flared out at her waist with a white collar. She was helping Molly chop vegetables in the kitchen. The sight of her took his breath away.
“Oh, come now, Hermione,” Molly was saying. “Surely your match will show up soon.” Hermione smiled shyly and looked over her shoulder at the older witch. She had not told anyone other than Harry.
“I sure hope so, Mrs. Weasley,” she said. Her voice was like music to Fred’s ears. He cleared his throat, catching both of their attention. Hermione blushed, but Molly paid no mind.
“Yes, George?” Molly asked. Fred sighed and rolled her eyes. Hermione giggled.
“That’s Fred,” she corrected softly. Molly’s eyes brightened and rushed to her son.
“Oh, Fred! I’m so sorry,” she gushed. “Where is your match? Is she coming?” Fred had to refrain from looking at Hermione.
“She’ll show up,” he said. Molly smiled and nodded, accepting his vague answer. Once she had turned around, he winked at Hermione, who blushed harder. “Can I actually borrow Hermione for a moment?” Molly waved her hand, dismissing the two.
“Yes, yes,” she said. “Go have fun. I’ve got it from here.” With that, the two walked out to the backyard and stared at the table. There were placards on the plates, indicating who sat where. Fred walked over to his seat and groaned at the plate labeled “Fred’s Match” next to his. George’s seat was on his left.
“What’s wrong?” Hermione asked, placing her hand on Fred’s arm. This confused Fred, but he did not say anything about it.
“They don’t suspect us being together,” Fred said softly, looking into her eyes. She nodded. “I mean, I didn’t tell them because I was still trying to process everything-”
“That’s why I didn’t say anything,” Hermione said. “I processed it fairly well, but I wasn’t sure how you were going to process being stuck with me.” Fred put his hand over Hermione’s and squeezed gently.
“I can tell you right now that I will never consider this being stuck with you,” he said softly, turning to face her fully. “If anything, being with you is a blessing.” He mentally kicked himself for being such a sap, but her small smile made it worth it. She slowly removed her hand from his grip and walked to the other side of the table. She sighed and picked up a placard that read “Hermione’s Match.” Fred smiled softly at her. “I’ll sit there if you prefer.” Hermione’s eyes snapped up to Fred’s.
“What?” She asked. He chuckled.
“I’ll be your match,” he said. “Instead of you being mine. I mean, it’s kind of a bigger deal to be your match than mine.” She scoffed at him.
“Not according to Witch Weekly ,” she grumbled. Fred quirked an eyebrow. “Apparently, you’re the Most Eligible Bachelor, and everyone is ‘quivering in anticipation for the reveal of your match.’” Fred laughed at that.
“ I’m the most eligible bachelor?” He asked, incredulous.
“You beat out Ron,” Hermione said with a sly smirk. Fred did a double take.
“What do you mean?” Fred asked. “I thought you and Ron were a thing.” Hermione scoffed and crossed her arms over her chest.
“I wouldn’t call adrenaline and high emotions a relationship,” she growled. “Ron forced himself on me during the Battle of Hogwarts, and tried to again afterward, but I was having none of it. He and I have not spoken in almost a year.” Fred’s jaw could have hit the floor. He had thought that she was in love with Ron. Was that not what the papers were saying? “You know better than anyone to ignore tabloids, Fred.” She had a point there. He came over to her side of the table and pulled her in for a hug. She squeaked in surprise but returned the hug immediately.
“So, if Ron was not the one-” Fred started as he pulled away.
“Dinner time!” Molly shouted. The young couple flinched, freezing in place. Fred recovered first.
“Showtime,” he murmured. Hermione seemed to recover at his words and the two watched as everyone exited the house. Harry and Ginny looked at Fred and Hermione excitedly, Harry sitting next to Hermione’s seat. Fred pulled out her seat and Hermione sat down next to her best friend, smiling gently. George and Angelina sat down across from them.
“Come sit down, Fred,” George said. Fred ignored him as the rest of the parties came in. Ron and his match came in and sat at the seats next to where Fred was supposed to sit. Fred recognized the small girl from the Triwizard Tournament. Percy brought a girl with straight brown hair and legs for days. Fred sighed and pulled out the chair next to Hermione’s. George looked across at him in confusion while Angelina smiled widely.
“George,” Molly chastised. “That seat is for Hermione’s match.”
“I know, Mum,” he said. It clicked in George’s head and he was beaming. Molly glared at her son.
“Go sit in your assigned seat,” she demanded. Everyone who understood was holding back laughter.
“I think I’ll wait until she figures it out,” he said. At this point, the only people at the table who did not understand were Molly and Ron.
“Frederick Gideon Weasley,” Molly said. “What in Merlin’s name are you on about? Is this some prank?”
“Molly,” Arthur spoke up from the other end of the table. “Why would Fred be sitting there?” Molly looked at her husband in confusion.
“Because he’s pestering the poor girl,” she said. Hermione shook her head.
“No, it’s because -” Hermione was silenced by one of Fred’s fingers on her lips.
“Let her figure it out,” Fred whispered, winking at her. George made a gagging sound while Hermione’s eyes became saucers and she flushed. Fred turned back to his mother, who was staring at the two. He could practically see the cogs turning in her mind. A few moments later, Molly gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. “There it is.”
“Oh, Merlin!” She exclaimed, tears springing to her eyes. “I’ve always known this would happen! Oh, Circe be praised!” She rushed over to Fred and Hermione and hugged them both. Fred smiled at his mother’s antics.
“Does someone want to clue me in on what’s going on?” Ron exclaimed.
“They’ve been matched!” Molly exclaimed. It took a few moments for Ron to blow up.
“Oh, well, that’s rich,” he said. Gabrielle glared at him, as well as everyone around him. “She’s finally snagged the one she’s wanted. Who did you have to Confund for that?” There were several screams from around the table. Fred did not know how or when his wand got into his hand, or when he stood up, but he was now pointing his wand at Ron’s face.
“Ronald Billius Weasley!” Gabrielle shouted. “You cannot act like zis! Go inside for a meenute. Calm down.” Ron huffed and entered the house. Fred felt a hand on his arm and looked down to see Hermione smiling gently up at him. He sat back down as the door slammed.
“Pudding, anyone?” Arthur offered.