I took my new place beside Fred as we entered the dining room. Everyone seem excited and full of abundant energy, something that I hoped wouldn’t die down with my announcement. I looked up at who sat in front of me; of course it would be Ron; he sat directly across from me with Harry on his left and Percy on his right. I sighed and tried to ignore the awkwardness that I felt, how could I not feel a bit strange with Ron sending a constant ray of glares at me. I attempted to focus on other things going on at the table but I couldn’t overlook Ron’s defiant stare.
I folded my hands in my lap and surveyed the room; it was nice seeing everyone together in one area; a rare occasion indeed. It was also a bit unnerving, for me at the very least. I turned my head so I could glance at Fred. He seemed so calm and strong, two qualities that I had always admired about him. I saw the realization that I was staring at him flicker in his eyes so he turned his head and smiled at me. That was all I needed to get through the moment, just knowing that there was someone there who wouldn’t look down upon me. I felt his hand gently slide into mine; he gave it a squeeze and winked at me. I managed to retain my giggle since Ron was still glaring.
“All right everyone,” Mrs.Weasley said as she brought over her final dish, “Time to eat.” As always the table was filled to the brim with any and every kind of food you could ever dream of. My stomach rumbled loudly in hunger, I swore it nearly sounded like a lion. Beside me I saw Fred choke on his pumpkin juice out of the corner of my eye.
“Now I know why you were in Gryffindor Hermione,” I eyed him curiously, “You have the stomach of a lion.” I poked him in the ribs and glanced down at my plate before glancing back up at him; he laughed at his joke until an air of seriousness grew between us. It was time.
“Now,” he mouthed to me. I nodded yes and for a brief moment I saw fear cloud his eyes. But it was just as quickly replaced with courage, and it gave me the strength that I needed. His eyes moved from one end of the table to the other then they settled back on me.
“Best do it now,” he glanced past me for a brief moment, “Dad was always happier with a full stomach.” I nodded with as much conviction as I could stifle up. On the inside I had an intense battle raging. I felt regret that I was about to lie to practically my entire family. I had no clue how they would react, especially since we had only been married for a short time. I know Mrs.Weasley wouldn’t be very happy about it, she had specifically told me on my wedding day that I needed to wait to start a family. Not that I ever had the chance to follow her advice. Fred pushed his chair out from the table and stood up, waiting until he had everyone’s full attention. He smiled cheerfully and fiddled with his thumbs, I knew that he had to be as nervous as I was.
“First of all, thank you for such a wonderful meal Mum.” Mrs.Weasley nodded respectfully but kept one brow raised in suspicion, I suppose growing up with the twins would do that to a woman. A chorus of agreements rose up, something that I was thankful for. It gave me the time to stand up next to Fred; I wasn’t going to let him face this alone. I grabbed his hand and laced my fingers through his. He stiffened slightly before looking back at me. The fear in his eyes was prominent; I couldn’t help but feel the same.
“Now, I know we all met here for a little family gathering but…me and Hermione over here had our own reasons of coming,” for the first time I could see the confident visage that Fred always had melt down. I wasn’t about to let him go through with this.
“I’m pregnant,” I said in a voice so low that I could scarcely hear it myself. I let my eyes wander up just enough to see Mrs.Weasley’s face, no one else had seemed to hear me but I knew she had. Her eyes were wide in shock and she breathing very slowly, as if she were controlling herself. I peeled my eyes away from her, if I looked at her any longer I felt as though my knees would give out. I surveyed the rest of the table. A few people had smiles playing upon their lips, obviously overjoyed with the news. Harry was trying hard not to stare at Ron, but I could sense that Harry knew how Ron was taking the news.
A wave of nausea rocked me and I gripped Fred’s arm to steady myself, I felt like running but I knew that wherever I went I could just as easily be followed. Fred protectively placed his arm around my shoulders and turned to grin at me.
“Just imagine Mum, it’ll be like having me in the house all over again,” Fred jeered at his mother. Her lips formed a tight smile and nodded her head, clearly she did not believe now was the time for joking. George glanced once around the table and nodded to himself, clearly sensing the discomfort of the moment. He stood up where he stood and faced me and Fred, winking discretely at us as he did.
“Clearly you have all made this announcement more awkward than it was intended to be, so let’s have a toast,” George raised his glass of pumpkin juice, “To the little guy, God help his soul with these two for parents.”
I couldn’t help but note to myself that once again they were presuming that my baby would be boy; I rolled my eyes as I joined the others in the toast. As the moment passed everyone began saying their congratulations and asking me a million questions that I hadn’t even begun to think about. What will its name be? What will the nursery look like? I had just settled with the fact that I was pregnant and married. I felt a little dizzy as everyone crowded around me, Fred must have been able to sense that I was overwhelmed because he found his way to me and grabbed hold of my hand. For the first time an odd sensation traveled through my body, it started at the base of my spine and sent shivers throughout me. It was a new and foreign feeling that I couldn’t pin point, I shook it out of my mind. I was bound to be feeling a lot of odd things in the months to come.
I started to sense someone staring at me, but before I even had the chance to see who it was I felt a hand grasp my shoulder. I turned around to see Mrs. Weasley standing behind me, she appeared apprehensive and even unsure of herself, two traits that I had never seen her possess before.
“Hermione, may I speak with you and Fred?”
I grabbed Fred’s hand and nodded in the direction of his mother, he seemed to catch the hint and we followed her outside into the crisp afternoon air. She made her way over to the small pond; it was far enough away from the house that no one would hear their conversation. Two wooden benches were placed by the edge of the water, one facing the other, Mrs. Weasley sat down on one and Fred and I on the other. She folded her hands delicately in her lap and breathed deeply, again, very obviously controlling her emotions.
“First off, please do not believe for one second that I am not happy for you two,” she said as a small smile tugged at the corners of her mouth, “I’m just worried. That’s part of a mother’s job. You two have only been married a short time, I just not sure either of you are ready for the commitment it takes to raising a child.” Fred seemed to let out a sigh and he scooted to the edge of his seat.
“Really Mother, you aren’t passing judgments on me correct? I know in the past I haven’t always been responsible but you have taught me right from wrong,” Fred paused momentarily to gather his thoughts I’m sure, we had both agreed not to tell his mother that the pregnancy was unplanned, “We wouldn’t have done this if we weren’t ready.”
I hated the feeling that I was lying to her, the only motherly figure I had left, but what other choice did we have? We couldn’t tell her the truth, it would break her heart, and not to mention she would probably never forgive me what I have done. I felt the weight of my actions bear down hard on my shoulders and I struggled to sit up straight in my seat. I decided it was best to let the conversation happen between the two of them, I have never been good at lying.
“Fred you are so young,” she began. She touched a hand to his knee, clearly she was deeply troubled. Fred glanced over to me and all I could do was try and reassure him, tell him that it would all be alright. I willed that to be true.
“Yes, we both are. But you have to let us do this. The baby is coming regardless, you can be with us or against us, and frankly I would assume that you’d rather be on your first grandchild’s side.” Mrs. Weasley nodded and her entire demeanor seemed to relax slightly, she was still anxious about the circumstances but Fred had stuck some sort of a chord in her. Reluctantly, she smiled and pulled both us into an all too familiar hug.
“I’m proud of you Fred,” I heard her whisper in his ear. The hug ended and we all returned back to the Burrow, I walked a little taller knowing that we had the support of those who mattered most to us, that there were people who were willing to help me through this next period of my life. I glanced beside me to Fred, who was being unnaturally quiet. I playfully shoved him in the side.
“Fred we are out of the clear, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he said unquestionably, “My Mom is proud of me. It’s a rare occasion when she says that.” He let a sly smile overtake his profile and I laughed to myself. He had changed so much from the immature prankster that I had known my years at Hogwarts, this boy, correction, this man that now stood before me was someone that, for the first time, I could admit, I could spend my life with.
“She’s not the only one who’s proud of you.”