So. Here it is. The End.
Thank you to everyone who made it this far with me. It means more to me than you know.
May 3, 1998
Hazel's mind awoke before the rest of her body could catch up. It started with her hearing, but everything sounded muffled as if she had cotton stuffed in her ears. She could feel the sheets on top of her, the bed beneath her, and the pillow under her cheek; she was laying on her stomach. She felt a pain emanating from the left side of her back and face, but couldn't immediately tell why. Her eyes shot open but almost immediately closed against the bright white light of the room around her.
"She's waking up!" a voice said in the distance. Or perhaps it was right next to her, she couldn't tell. All she could feel was the metallic taste of panic rise in her mouth as she attempted to thrash about. The room she'd caught a brief glimpse of was too white and had partially blinded her.
"Hazel, Hazel, dear, can you hear me?" an all-too familiar voice said. This one was clear as a bell. She felt a hand stroke her hair and dared to open her eyes again, this time squinting them to allow her pupils time to adjust to the light.
Hazel's lips broke into a smile as she saw Molly Weasley's worried face looking down at her, the woman's kind hearted smile welcoming her back to the world of the waking. Dirt and soot filled lines of her face and she looked weary, as if she hadn't slept in a while but her warm expression didn't betray a thing. Her daughter Ginny stood on the other side of the bed, looking much the same as her mother.
"M-Molly, Ginny...wh-what happened?" She croaked. Her throat was dry and scratchy, as if she'd inhaled smoke from a bonfire.
No…not a bonfire…not smoke…ash from a crumbling wall. Fred standing underneath it. An angry white light flashing in her peripheral vision…
"Well, dear, you're in St. Mungo's. The battle is over, you-kno…Voldemort is gone. You lost a lot of blood, love, so they're giving you some blood replenishing potion and you got a bit torn up. They say your face shouldn't scar, but your back…" Molly tried to explain, but found herself at a loss for words. Hazel had become a regular face at The Burrow in the last two years, and Molly hated seeing her like this as much as she would've hated seeing any of her children in such a state.
"You were hit with a slashing curse. It wasn't healed well enough in time to prevent scarring." Ginny offered, taking the pressure off her mother.
"Well that explains the twinge," Hazel tried to joke, but her words came out bitter. "Molly, where is everyone? Are they okay?" she croaked again as she tried to push herself up.
"Lie flat, dear. They had to resort to that Muggle solution to close your wounds, the same one they tried on Arthur a while back…scritches?" Molly put a hand on her shoulder to stop her from rising.
"Stitches, mum." Ginny supplied. Upon mothering instinct, Molly reached for the cup of water on the table next to her bed and held it so Hazel could drink. It wasn't until then that Hazel realized her mouth tasted like brick dust and felt just as dry. The water was a welcome relief.
"Harry killed Voldemort and then we started evacuating people to Saint Mungo's by priority. Luckily, Percy got you mostly fixed up before-" she paused, staring blankly into space as if just remembering something. Her eyes glazed over and she looked away, taking a step toward the door and turning her back on Hazel.
Ginny took up the explanation then, "You'd lost a lot of blood but Madame Pomfrey had just enough replenishing potion to spare to give you a few hours before seeking medical attention. She put some dittany on your back, but it was too late to prevent scarring. He - Percy, that is, didn't have time to heal it fully, you see."
"Why not?" Hazel asked gently, reaching for the cup herself now. Molly's sudden reaction and something in the way Ginny said her brother's name gave Hazel a bad feeling in her gut. She knew something was wrong.
"The boys are getting checked up, bumps and bruises all around mostly, a few broken bones here and there, but they should be here any second!" the older woman had turned back around, her voice holding a false cheer that Hazel could tell was a cover up for something much worse.
"Molly, what happened to Percy?" Hazel demanded as she pushed herself on her right arm, the stitches in her back pulling in a most uncomfortable way. Luckily, the skin was still mostly numb, but the muscles underneath it were sore and that's what made Hazel have to lower herself back down to the bed with a painful groan. Molly's lower lip quivered and her eyes became moist with tears.
She cleared her throat and averted her eyes to the floor. "He died…while he was healing you, someone caught him unawares and hit him with the killing curse." She said just above a whisper.
Hazel let her head fall back against the pillow, feeling as if a lead brick had been dropped onto her stomach from a high height. Percy; stalwart, rule-abiding, no-nonsense Percy, whom they had just gotten back into the fold, was dead because of her.
Hazel felt the bile rise in her throat and leaned over the side of the bed just in time as she emptied the contents of her stomach on the floor, the retching making her back cry out in pain. She hadn't eaten anything since she didn't know when, how long had she been out? A few hours, a day at most, if Molly and Ginny were still dirty and battle-weary.
Ginny reached across the bed, pulling Hazel's hair out of her face. Molly poked her head out into the hall and called for a healer. When she received no response, Molly stormed out into the hallway, dragging a young, flustered healer into the room a moment later.
With a twitch of his wand, he pulled up Hazel's vital signs. "Hmm…your blood pressure is a little high, but your pulse is fine. No fever, that's a good sign. We'd like to keep you for observation, make sure those stitches don't get infected, and I'll get you a stomach settling potion for your nausea and a sedative. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got other patients."
Hazel didn't wait until the healer was gone to ask the question that had been pressing on her mind like a foot on the gas pedal of a car, "What about the others? Fred, George?"
Molly smiled, "Fred and George are fine, they're downstairs with Arthur. George dislocated his shoulder and Fred's got some scrapes and a broken wrist, but other than that they're fine. Percy was the only one who…well, you know."
Hazel let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding, "I'm so sorry, Molly."
She stared up at the ceiling, stubbornly willing the tears away. "It wasn't your fault, dear. It was war." She patted Hazel's hand comfortingly, but something in Hazel's mind snapped and, with those three words, all of the stresses and anxieties of the last few years came pouring out.
It was war.
She buried her face in the pillow and didn't attempt to stop the tears. Two separate hands landed gently on her back, and she could hear Molly and Ginny sniffling along with her.
Soon enough, a nurse came in with the anti-nausea potion and dreamless sleep tonic for her, and Hazel drank greedily. Not long after that, she was asleep.
December 24, 2001
Hazel Herrod couldn't sleep. She was at The Burrow, in Charlie's old room, awaiting the Christmas party the next day. After the third cup of peppermint tea, she'd stopped trying to fall asleep and sat in the window alcove, watching the moon traverse the inky black sky above her.
Her knees were tucked up into her chest. The ring on her left hand caught the moonlight and she looked down at it wistfully. A London blue topaz surrounded by a circle of tiny diamonds, a silver band with engraved vines. Yes, her fiancée had exceptional taste in jewelry. He was asleep two floors below her and she let out a long sigh.
Despite the fact that she and Fred had been living together for over a year, Molly and Arthur insisted that they sleep in separate bedrooms at The Burrow. It was more than a little silly, since Headmistress McGonagall let them cohabitate at Hogwarts even though they weren't married. Hazel had taken over as the Charms professor when Professor Flitwick retired the year before, and Fred ran the Hogsmeade Weasley's Wizard Wheezes shop. They had taken over the room they had once used for their trysts, expanding it when it got too cramped. Molly kept dropping heavy-handed hints that Hazel and Fred should just set a date and get married already so they could sleep in the same room.
It was that thought that had Hazel unable to sleep. While on one hand she was annoyed with the thought of marriage and all of the stupid traditions that came with it, she was fully committed to Fred and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. But with marriage came expectations. Having a baby, buying a house, having another baby, hosting dinner parties, on and on until they died. Hazel wasn't sure she wanted all of that on her shoulders. She had never pictured herself as a mother, more of the fun aunt (and, by marrying into the Weasley family, she was sure to have many nieces and nephews to spoil; Bill and Fleur were already expecting their second child).
She and Fred had talked extensively about the topic of children. Fred, who had always been on the fence about kids of his own, agreed with many of her points. And really, who would be a better "Fun Uncle" than Fred Weasley? They decided that, if the day came that they changed their minds, they would cross that bridge when they came upon it. Until that time, they would enjoy each other and their rapidly-expanding extended family.
The question that had her up in the wee hours of the morning; how could she marry Fred without all of the hoopla? A Weasley wedding was not a small affair (Ron and Hermione's wedding in the spring was set to have no fewer than five courses, a six tier cake, and nearly 150 guests), which made Hazel uncomfortable. Perhaps it was her father's own spoiled wedding that made her uneasy, she couldn't be sure.
She thought of her parents' wedding. According to her father, her mother had snuck into his room at his parent's house when they were eighteen and swept him off to Cardiff. They said their vows on the beach as the sun set. True, Laurel had been five months pregnant with Hazel, hence the rush job on the wedding. But it was no less romantic.
Then it clicked. Hazel knew exactly what she had to do. The clock on the wall read 4:37 am. Just a few hours until sunrise. Perfect.
Hazel unwound from her seat on the window ledge, her back protesting her sudden movement. She paused and stood still, pressing her fingers into fists and waiting for the pain to pass with deep breaths. While her wounds had healed, the scars remained, jagged and mottled across her back. The muscles underneath would sometimes seize up, another reminder of the war's lasting effects. If it got bad enough it would radiate through her front side and cause severe nausea, or make every movement so painful she wouldn't be able to get out of bed. Those days, Fred would take over her teaching duties and when she got back, she was met with sullen faces and tones that suggested her students would much prefer her fiance.
Once the deep ache subsided, she crept into George and Angelina's room across the hall. She nudged her friend awake, and the ebony goddess waved away her hand.
"Ang, c'mon, wake up." Hazel shook her harder. Angelina turned over and blinked blearily at Hazel.
"Hazel, everything alright?" she asked through a yawn.
"Everything's great. Wake up George and meet me downstairs." Hazel whispered urgently, handing Angelina her dressing gown.
"Why? What's going on?"
"Fred and I are getting married." Hazel clamped a hand over Angelina's mouth before she could yelp in surprise and wake half the house, "He doesn't know it yet. But we've put it off long enough, yeah?"
"You sure as bloody hell have! We'll be there in two shakes." Angelina smiled brightly and started shaking her slumbering husband awake.
Hazel smiled as she closed the door to their room and made her way down the two flights of stairs as quietly as she could.
Fred's room was much the same as when she'd first seen it. Two beds pushed together in the middle of the room, two desks covered with papers against either wall, a box of fireworks in the corner (although this time they were there for Molly-approved purposes).
Fred's long limbs were splayed out across the two beds, one foot lazily hanging off the side. Clearly, he was making the most of the absence of another body in his bed. Hazel approached and tickled the bottom of the exposed foot, which earned her a grunt and the foot moving a few inches away. She tried again with the same result before moving up to his shoulder and giving it a good shake.
He awoke with a horrendous harrumph, as he always did. "Whazzit? Hazel? 'Zat you?" he asked, raising his head from the pillow.
"Hi love. Get up and put your shoes on." She said gently, brushing his ginger hair off his forehead.
"Why?" he whined. "Bed's warm. Why don't you join me?" She could hear the wink in his voice.
Hazel smirked, "I'd love to, but it's time you made good on your promise."
He groaned, rubbing his face in his pillow, "Which promise?"
"The one before the Battle."
That got his attention and he sat bolt upright in the bed, like a dog that had been offered a bone. "Really?"
"Right now? It's the middle of the night."
"Kinda the best time, don't you think?" she smirked at him and he put a hand on the back of her neck, drawing her closer until their foreheads touched. His brown eyes met her blue ones.
"You are devious and I love it," he declared to the empty room. He pecked her forehead and dashed out of the bed. As he moved toward the closet she grabbed his wrist.
"And just where do you think you're going?"
"To get clothes."
"Um, no. If I'm getting married in my pajamas, you are too."
Fred's smile widened. "I love you, you're aware of that right?"
"I love you too. Now grab your shoes, let's get this show on the road!"
The two twosomes apparated to a lake in Scotland that Angelina's parents had taken her to when she was young, Loch Duich. After Hazel and Fred approved the gorgeous lakeside setting, complete with a medieval castle reflecting in the black waters, George set about writing a ceremony while the rest of them got as many trappings for the wedding as they could. Before Bill and Fleur's wedding, George had become a wedding officiant via the Ministry of Magic. He'd filled out the paperwork mostly as a joke, but Hazel could tell he was disappointed when the couple chose to use another officiant.
They were married as the sun was rising. Hazel held a bouquet of wildflowers Angelina conjured up. The winter wind off the lake whipped at their coats and hair and carried their vows over the rolling hills. It was cold. It was damp. It was perfect.
Afterwards, they sat in the small pub waiting for an extremely early breakfast. Hazel had never been happier as she sat next to Fred, not letting go of his left hand for anything. She looked over at him, a goofy grin on her face as she looked at her husband. Fred Weasley was her husband. After all this time, all the heartache and all the games, they were well and truly together.
She kissed his cheek as the champagne arrived. The server set out four flutes, but Angelina was quick to push hers away.
"None for me thanks. I'll stick with juice." She said as breezily as possible.
"Why not, Ang, you pregnant or something?" Fred joked as he took his first sip.
Angelina's cheeks reddened and she slid her hand into her husband's. George beamed at her, but said nothing. Hazel looked between the two of them and immediately knew what she was about to confess.
"Well, yeah," she admitted, "We were going to wait until the party tonight to tell everyone but…we're pregnant!"
"Oh Merlin, guys! That's great!" Hazel exclaimed. "How far along?"
"Nearly three months."
Fred stood up, dropping Hazel's hand and moving next to his brother, pulling him into a hug that was full of brotherly affection and Hazel's heart swelled for them.
"Who's the one having gorgeous half-black ginger babies now, mate?" Fred teased as he pulled out of the hug and clapped his brother on the back. From the corner of her eye, she saw Fred swipe tears out of each of his eyes. He dropped his hand and recaptured hers, bringing it up to gently kiss her knuckles.
"Wow…Molly is going to have a conniption when she finds all of this out." Hazel commented. Fred and George looked at each other, their faces going pale as the server placed their breakfasts in front of them.
"Oh calm down, you two. I'm sure she'll be too thrilled to pummel you both into the ground." Angelina dismissed, picking up her fork and diving into her waffle.
Each of the boys let out a sigh. Hazel could tell that Fred was still nervous about telling his mother they'd eloped. She was just as nervous about telling her father the same thing. After she'd healed, she and Fred traveled to Chicago and lifted the memory charm she'd placed on her father. Once the fog in her father's mind cleared, Fred had asked him for his blessing. Daniel returned to Herrod's Rare Books and Manuscripts, and was doing better than ever. Recently, he'd met Janine, a bookseller from Hull, and had asked her out. After getting left at the altar, he was taking things slow. Like turtle-racing-a-glacier slow, but Hazel was happy for him. She knew he wouldn't be pleased that she'd eloped, but he would be happy that she was happy.
And she was. For the first time in her life she felt that she knew exactly who she was. She was Fred's wife. She was the Charms professor at Hogwarts. She was the daughter of Daniel and Laurel Herrod. She was a brilliant, talented witch who had survived the Second Wizarding War when so many others hadn't.
She was Hazel Motherfucking Herrod-Weasley.
And in that perfect moment, all was well.
Leave me a review! If you want, I have other stories on my profile and I'll be posting a Sirius Black/OC story within the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
Again, thank you all so much for all of the support and patience and feedback for Hazel! I hope you enjoyed the ending!