Okay, this goes into a little more background detail than I'd intended but what's a series of marriage stories without at least one marriage law ficlet?
"Please Merlin or whoever, let something stop this," whispered a young man with hair a shade of red that was infamous in his community. Everywhere he went, that shade of red proclaimed him as a Weasley. And everyone, at least anyone he ever associated with, knew what a Weasley was. A Weasley was brave, the epitome of a Gryffindor, pillars of the community, and above all a pureblood family that had always striven to support the forces of the Light.
"Stop what Ron?" a voice broke into the young man's musings. He turned to look at the man who was a mirror of what he would likely become in another thirty years.
"Nothing dad," Ron grinned weakly and his father smiled back.
"Nervous son?" Arthur, the Weasley patriarch, asked his youngest boy, "I know that you and Hermione had a bit of a rough spot before all of these marriage mandates from the ministry were created, but you still love her, right?"
Ah, the marriage mandate, the Ministry of Magic's response to the Department of Mystery's announcement that within the next generation, squib births would be at an all-time high due to inbreeding practices and that Something Needed To Be Done. The Ministry had then decided that the Something had to be one of the stupidest actions they could take since electing Fudge. Ron repressed a scowl at the mention of that bloody set of laws and restrictions that essentially boiled down to the fact that within the wizarding enclaves of the United Kingdom it was illegal for half-bloods and muggle borns to marry unless their intended spouse was a pureblood and that all immigrants would be immediately subject to the law. If a muggle born or a half-blood wanted to marry someone who wasn't of pure blood then they could, it just wouldn't be recognized by the Ministry of Magic. A marriage that didn't follow the Ministry's new "guidelines" would be treated as if it was a union between a magical person and a muggle. And it was a long established law that the Ministry had the legal right to oblivate whoever they judged to be the lesser spouse at any given time if they were deemed a danger to the magical world. For example, in a half-blood and muggle born union, the muggle born could be oblivated the instant they were deemed a danger. And with the marriage mandates approved, "danger" had taken up a very different definition.
There were rumors that some of the oblivators were jumping the gun and not even waiting for a wedding before they went to work on couple that didn't follow the Ministry's preferences. There were even more rumors of couples, muggle born tourists from America or France or from somewhere else, who arrived in England for one reason or another and then found themselves without any recollection of a significant other, a newly minted declaration of British citizenship in their pockets, a pureblood waiting in the wings with a ring, and a Ministry Overseer prepared to bind the pair with the strongest marriage magics the Ministry had been able to dig up. Furthermore, certain matches had been "encouraged", all to promote the Ministry agenda, namely, to save the pureblood culture and the families. All of it was, of course, for the "Greater Good".
"Of course I still love her," Ron replied when he realized that the silence between him and his father had perhaps gone on a bit too long. The older wizard smiled again.
"I'm glad son," Arthur said genially, "it took your mother and I a lot of time to get this together. Anyway, it's all for the best, couldn't let someone like Malfoy get their hands on our Hermione and it's not as though you two wouldn't have tied the knot at some point."
Ron clenched his fists as he looked away from his father, not wanting to talk about the situation anymore lest he said something that he would regret. It wasn't as though he had lied. He did love Hermione. He had known her since they were eleven and had been through a lot with her after all. She was his friend. Not his best friend, but they'd been friends for more than a decade so she was certainly one of his oldest friends.
But he wasn't in love with her and quite frankly he would rather go back in time and force his younger self to be sorted into Slytherin if it meant he wouldn't have to marry Hermione.
The fiery start of their relationship during the war had become an inferno that had made them both utterly miserable and nearly burned them both alive. He had let his jealousy of Hermione's fame because of her exploits and loyalty get to him. He was famous too but generally people just considered him a Weasley. A Weasley fighting on the side of Light wasn't all that unique after all.
While he was just a member of his family, Hermione was hailed as the cleverest witch of the generation, the gold standard among muggle borns and witches in general, "The Witch Who Was With Him". Him, of course, being Harry Potter, savior of the wizarding world several times over. Then there were the bitter feelings and frustration on both sides that had started when she hadn't conformed to his ideas of a relationship and he hadn't conformed to her ideas. What had probably been the worst had been the anger when they both entered auror training together and she proved to be able to beat him during every single bout they had against each other and outshined him, and everyone except Harry, in every area of training.
He was used to her doing better than him in theoretical matters and paperwork. After seven years of being her friend he thought it was pretty much a given that if it had anything to do with paper, Hermione was better than him. But he had always been able to reassure himself that he could beat her or at least equal in the practical matters. When he found out that she'd been going to Harry to practice against, he'd felt betrayed. Why hadn't she come to him for help? Why did she always go to Harry? This, added to the fact that he wasn't her equal in the field had angered him and then came the insecurity, that damned insecurity. It was because of his insecurity that he left the auror program. Why would he continue to be an auror when he'd be held up against people like Harry and Hermione and be found wanting? Why do that when he could shine on his own somewhere else? And shine he did when he managed to land a place with the Chudley Cannons. But being "just" a quidditch player, well, that had disappointed Hermione. She'd gone on and on about long term opportunities and then just a bunch of things he didn't listen to. Hermione hardly knew what she was on about. She hated quidditch. She didn't like anything to do with sports unless it was watching Harry play and making sure he didn't break his neck.
Ron ground his teeth and glared at the wall in front of him and its cheery Gryffindor red wall paper before he forced himself to relax and ignore the anger from the old argument. So what if he had never finished his auror training? Who cared that he never finished that last year of Hogwarts? He was a quidditch player. He never needed to remember any of the detective stuff aurors had to know and what real use was the seventh year anyway? He took NEWTs for her and got three, wasn't that enough? Being the Chudley Cannons keeper was a good career. When he couldn't play anymore he had a real shot at being the next coach. She was really a bit of a hypocrite about the whole thing. She hadn't stuck in the program either. Hermione had only lasted a year as an auror before she jumped into the world of curse breaking and Academia. While she was stuck with books, he got to travel all over the world and he was doing what he loved. Even better, nowadays when people heard the name Ron Weasley they no longer thought of him as part of a greater whole. He wasn't just one third of the Golden Trio or one of the many Weasleys. He was known far and wide as the one and only Chudley Cannons keeper and captain. Hermione and her little projects were only important to other egg heads like herself. Who was she to tell him that he wasn't living up to his full potential when she was the one who was burying herself in boring old books and just following the same patterns she'd set in school?
Besides, even if they hadn't argued about their respective career and education choices, now that he had more than a few years between him and the end of the relationship he could see that she had felt constrained and miserable by his idea of what a relationship should be and he rather suspected that he bored her.
If he was being honest, more often than not, he thought she could be unbelievably boring too, when she wasn't being brilliant or scary. Unfortunately for both of them, the scary and boring parts of her usually overshadowed her moments of brilliance and fun, at least in his eyes. She never wanted to go out and do anything the way he did and the few times she did join him for a night on the town he was kept busy chasing away wizards who kept trying to chat her up. A few times she'd tried to drag him to the muggle side but every time he always ended doing something he could later admit, to himself, was stupid and then get embarrassed and they'd both go home angry. It was worse when he had to chase away muggle men the few times she'd persuaded him to go somewhere muggle. After a few tries more, she gave up dragging him into the muggle world, which he was grateful for. He truly didn't like the stupid muggle world.
When he wasn't chasing away other men, they had nothing they could really talk about unless Harry was there to bridge the gap. She had no interest in quidditch and he couldn't, and didn't want to, understand even half of the things she talked about. When she had managed to get a position as an apprenticeship with some America professor, Dr. Henry Jones Jr., who was some authority in some boring field of study, they had the fight that had led to the permanent destruction of their romantic liaison. He had not wanted to deal with the stress of a relationship that was long distance on both sides. To him, it was one thing when Hermione was based in one place while he was running around all over the world. They would never have to worry about coordinating times to meet between matches and training sessions. But if Hermione was going to be tramping all around the world chasing after some scrap of paper or bargaining for some silly muggle trinket for a museum then he knew that it would be almost impossible for them to spend real time together and he'd never been one for writing letters. When they were together, he was hard pressed to describe her as anything other than a complete prude, never wanting to go beyond kissing and some light petting. He'd gotten further with Lavender in a month and, since his breakup, even further than that with a string of girlfriends.
She had called him out for his so called hypocrisy. He had only tried to defend himself. To this day, three years later, he couldn't recall who had thrown the first spell but, in the short run, it had resulted in her having to stay in St. Mungo's for a few hours while he had to stay in the ward for spell damage for the better part of a week. In the long run it had not only cost them their romantic liaison but it had nearly destroyed their friendship. The end of their romance end had also seriously damaged all of their other friendships as well, especially their friendship with Harry. He felt a pang of guilt over the way he acted in the aftermath of the break up, assuming that Harry would be on his side as he always was, trying to gather all of his friends around him, to be on his side, and forgetting that his friends were also Hermione's.
For once Harry had not taken his side and Ginny had walloped him a few times. Because of that, and an incident with Harry that Ron refused to think about, the youngest Weasley male eventually made peace with the situation and peace with Hermione. They were even on their way to being friends again, or at least they had been.
Then the Ministry's STUPID law had come into play and of course the names of the Golden Trio were at the very top of the Ministry Matchmakers' lists to ensure that proper spouses were chosen for the Savior and his friends.
Ron growled slightly as he recalled how Harry had still managed to evade the Ministry's matchmaking schemes. Harry was the Savior after all as well as being Lord Black, Lord Potter, the top auror of the DMLE and on the fast track to join the International Magic Protectorate. It made him the absolute first on the list of eligible bachelors.
But Harry Potter also didn't have meddling parents trying to match him for his own good. He had resources, like money, a Reputation, and the power and skill to back that reputation. He was also bloody terrifying if you mentioned anything to do with the Ministry and their ridiculous marriage decrees. When the mandates had been in the works he had threatened to quit if the Ministry actually went through with their stupid idea. Two reporters and a Ministry Matchmaker had peed themselves in public when they'd tried to question Harry about the Ministry's decision and question him as to which lucky pureblood princess would be the new Lady Potter. Popular opinion was that Ginny would be that "lucky" pureblood princess but, to Ron's annoyance, the brat had eloped with a muggle born journalist while on tour with the Holyhead Harpies and had not stepped foot in England since her elopement. When she was interviewed his sister had announced that she also didn't have any intention of returning to England until the ridiculous laws were repealed.
Two more Ministry Matchmakers had attempted to force the issue match Harry to some other "appropriate" woman. They had been left gibbering messes and were still sharing a ward with Lockhart. After that Harry had made good on his threat and had quit the DMLE. No one had seen him since, though the Ministry was looking and the Quibbler ran regular articles named "The Potter Patrol".
But while Harry didn't really have to worry about meddling parents or anyone else attempting to manipulate him and force him to get married, Ron had to contend with a grandchild demanding Molly Weasley and the Ministry. While Harry ad managed a clean get away, Hermione had not been able to do the same. Ron wasn't sure what the deal was, but something kept Hermione from disappearing as thoroughly as Harry. His mum was all for he and Hermione to get back together even if it meant agreeing with the farce of a law and the Ministry had decided that if they couldn't match Harry then his friends would be close enough.
Ron had very nearly broken into the Department of Mysteries in order to steal a time turner so he could go back and change things, or at least wallop someone and make himself feel better but had restrained himself while he looked into other solutions. He'd gotten all of the purebloods from the old DA aside and went through each of them. None of them could take Hermione off of his hands. Some had disappeared, most had already married and one had voluntarily had himself magically castrated just so the Ministry couldn't force him into anything.
When the DA had failed he tried his brothers but all of them, except for Charlie, were already married and Charlie had not returned to the Burrow, or England, since hearing of the laws. He had also refused to marry Hermione. Hermione herself had refused to marry Charlie and had not stopped sifting through the laws and regulations that the Ministry had passed, becoming more and more wraithlike with every passing day, as she sought some sort of exploitable loophole.
But no matter what sort of measures Hermione had come up with and despite the fact that he had ensured that he wouldn't be in England any more than absolutely necessary in order to delay things, the date was set, the match was made. The entire wedding was at the Ministry's expense and for once there seemed to be no end to the amount the Ministry was willing to spend. Ron supposed that this was likely going to be one of the more important matches that the Ministry had arranged, especially if they couldn't pin Harry down, so the Ministry wanted to make a big show of the farce.
A knock at the door startled Ron out of his thoughts. He turned and saw Percy popping his head into the room.
"Come on Ron," his still rather prim brother exclaimed, "time to get to the altar! Don't want to keep the bride waiting!"
Ron felt a wave of nausea was over him.
"Right," he muttered, "don't want to keep her waiting."
If ever questioned, Ron Weasley could honestly say that he had no idea as to what happened between the time that Percy fetched him from the dressing room and the time that the bride came down the aisle. He made no note of the people around him, didn't care about anything that was going on. All of his attention was given to praying to any and every benevolent deity and historical figure that he could think of, hoping that someone or something Up There would give him a break and something would happen to prevent the marriage. Even if it meant being struck by lightning or You-Know-Who returned from the dead, he'd take it.
The wedding march began and Ron looked up with dread to see Hermione walking down the aisle. Unlike with Fleur's marriage to Bill, Molly had been eager to allow Hermione to wear the Weasley dress, the bridal gown that Weasley brides had worn for centuries, the gown that Molly herself had worn. As Hermione walked down the aisle even he could tell that the heavy fabric and ancient design wasn't really the best for Hermione's figure. In fact, it made her look dumpy. The long, thick veil that she wore with the gown obscured her head to the point that if she wasn't wearing Aunt Muriel's goblin made tiara she would look headless. Ron shivered. He thought she looked rather like a faceless statue from a cemetery. He wondered if it was better or worse that he wouldn't see her face until the ceremony was finished and they were bound.
The Ministry Overseer cleared his throat as Hermione took her place parallel to Ron and he whimpered.
The Ministry Overseer began his speech but it fell on deaf ears. Ron couldn't even pretend to listen. All he could do was stare at the shade of death that was Hermione. His mind was a complete blank.
"I now pronounce you wed," the Ministry Overseer finished pompously, "by the laws of our people, you are bound for the rest of your days."
They were rushed away to the reception before Ron knew what had happened. He felt his stomach actually rebel at the idea of food. This was it. They would be seated and, as was traditional, he would present Hermione with her first meal as a married woman and remove her veil, revealing the latest Mrs. Weasley to the world, cementing the ancient magics in place.
"Go on Ronald," his mother hissed beside him, alerting him to the fact that he was at the table and Hermione was already sitting beside his place.
"Wha," he broke out of his thoughts for a moment before another crossed his mind. He seemed to be doing a lot more thinking than he usually indulged in. He wondered if Hermione had finally rubbed off on him.
"Fill the plate, remove the veil," Molly Weasley demanded of her son. Ron winced and looked over the crowd. Some of his training still remained with him. He spotted one of the Ministry oblivators, ready and waiting and several of the darker pureblood families had sent representatives, uninvited representatives. He scowled at them and began to fill the plate with the dishes his mother had prepared. He shoved the dish towards Hermione and his friend lifted the veil just enough so she could eat a sample of everything he'd given her. She then pushed the plate back to him. He choked down something without looking at it.
"Remove the veil!" his mother hissed at him again and Ron took a deep breath and reached for the veil that his Hermione from him and the rest of the crowd. Now was the moment of truth, now he would have to present Hermione Weasley to everyone.
He pulled the veil away and gaped. He didn't see deep brown eyes alive with intelligence and anger. He didn't see wild curls still pinned beneath the rest of the headdress of the wedding costume. He didn't see Hermione.
The girl he had just married was blonde and honey skinned. Her eyes were brown but had more mischief in them than he'd ever seen in Hermione's eyes. Best of all, he knew this girl, he knew her and right now, she was the most beautiful person he'd ever seen. In the back of his mind he acknowledged the fact that his mother was screaming at someone and the crowd was panicking or something. But, if he was at all honest, at the moment he really couldn't care less. He hadn't married Hermione! Even better, he hadn't married Hermione and he had married someone he could actually live with!
"Lavender," Ron breathed with relief. She smiled at him.
"Hermione actually," Lavender giggled, "changed my name for the ceremony. Legally and in the eyes of magic, I'm Hermione Weasley."
Ron considered this.
"I'm still going to call you Lavender," he said at last.
"Good," Lavender Hermione replied, a wry smile on her lips.
"But you aren't a muggle born!" Ron said and without another thought he pushed Lavender slightly behind him, away from the twittering crowd and out of immediate wand sight of the oblivator.
"Half blood," Lavender assured him, "never made it very public since I was raised by my father's family, but my mother was a muggle. The law can't touch us."
"How?" Ron asked, still gently pushing his new wife away from the increasing chaos as several people made noise about creating a party to hunt down the "real" bride.
"I swore an oath not to tell," Lavender answered the unasked question, "now, I believe we have a honeymoon to get to Mr. Weasley?"
Lavender took her new husband's arm and tucked it against her side. His smile grew a little shyer and he tried to fight the blush that was coloring his face.
"Indeed we do Mrs. Weasley," Ron replied as gallantly as he could manage. Lavender giggled again and together they left to start their new lives together.
And there you have it, Lavender and Ron Weasley, hope you enjoyed it and Happy Halloween!