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The Smile that Struggled Through Tears

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Hermione had never felt so peaceful. She remembered the years she'd had prior to this moment and smiled at the memories; good and bad. Her journey to Minerva had been arduous and it had taken longer than she'd have liked, but it had been worth every moment. And now, as she stood at the front of the church, she knew she'd found her Happily Ever After.

She smiled as she thought about the day ahead. It had taken a while, but the love and the relationship that they were celebrating had only blossomed with time. She looked over to Minerva and beamed. She looked utterly beautiful and Hermione made plans in her head about peeling the beautiful green dress off her later. At that moment, Minerva locked eyes with her and quirked her eyebrow. The look Hermione gave was returned with fire.

Hermione smirked into her bouquet as the Pipers took up the song and she winked at Minerva before they turned to look at the big doors at the back of the church. 

They'd made themselves into a little family. Harry and Ginny and James, Mac and George, Minerva and Hermione. They'd added a few as they'd settled into it. Hannah, Sophie and Michael, when they visited - Mac's siblings and the apples of Minerva's eyes. All of them were sitting with their mother, Anabel, in the front row. It was her first time across the pond and it has been a beautiful one. Anabel's visit, in part to meet her husband's sister, had been freeing for Anabel and Minerva. So much so, that after spending the week with her sister-in-law, Minerva seemed much more relaxed than Hermione had ever seen her.

She laughed more, teased them all more. And their love just grew deeper with every passing day. Little James, who'd turned three only a few days earlier, toddled up to her wearing McGonagall colours and holding a pillow with two chunky white-gold rings on it. He bee-lined right for her and hung onto her thigh. Ginny smiled at her in thanks and Hermione asked him quietly if he wanted to go to his Mummy. Evidently, he was happy hanging onto her so she put his hand on his head and they watched the men of the hour enter the church together. 

They looked marvellous.

Mac looked utterly magnificent in his Highland Dress. George had opted for a suit, but his pocket square and tie matched Mac's. She beamed as they walked up together to the front of the church and faced the Minister, neither of them willing to let go of the other's hand, even to wipe away their tears. 

It was more magical than anything any of them could produce. 

As the Minister pronounced them married, a massive explosion of fireworks erupted from the back of the church and even though she had to quickly take James into her arms, she felt her tears falling as she thought of Fred. He would have loved Mac, something she'd told George only a day or two ago. And as Charley and Bill laughed from the back of the church, their wands twirling in their fingers, George grinned at them, through his tears, in thanks. 

They had the reception at the Burrow, as they often did for most things. Even Minerva's birthday had been held there and all of the Professors had attended.

Life, as they say, was good. George and Mac could drink most people under the table and were doing their best to bankrupt Rosmerta as the party reached full-swing. Hermione, however, was tucked into a corner, wrapped in Minerva's arms.

"How long until they announce number two," Minerva whispered in her ear as they watched Harry dote on his wife.

"I have money on next weekend," she chuckled. 

"I said two weeks."

She laughed at the thought that they'd both bet on their friends, but that was the way of things when George Weasley was involved. She was fairly sure that he made more money running books than they did at the shop. 

"Ronald is going to get liver poisoning at this rate," Minerva mused.

"Molly will sort it."

Ron hadn't got any better. He still attempted to better everyone around him and had never really found his niche. Hermione thought at one stage he might take a job at the shop, but as far as she knew, he remained part of the Auror program. Not that he moved up the ranks as Harry did. Harry had been only too glad to take a desk job after James was born and she knew Ginny was thankful he was been home at six every night.

"So," Minerva said gently, disturbing Hermione's perusal. "I happened to get a firecall from Henrich yesterday."

Henrich was Hermione's Mastery supervisor. She was already on her Level 3.

"Why did he call you?"

"He wanted to know what he could do to persuade you to move there," Minerva smirked.

"What?" Hermione laughed. "He's hilarious. I hope you told him to move here."

"I did not," Minerva smiled. "In fact, I happen to know that George and Mac are going to be spending at least six months of the year in New York." A hole opened in Hermione's stomach. "Calm down," Minerva soothed, her hand massaging Hermione's neck. "Between you and our little rag-tag bunch, I wouldn't mind stepping away from teaching for a while. I think, in fact, I might like a year off. I wondered if maybe you might want to move there for a while. Not forever, but we could explore Europe together? Travel east or get lost in the Black Forest?"

"I -"

"Don't answer me now, love," Minerva soothed, pulling her tighter against her. "Think about it for a while. Talk to Harry and Mac. You can do your next level with Henrich and he has contacts if you are still aiming to beat my record," she teased gently.

Hermione didn't take the bait. Her mind was already whirring with the potential break-up of their family. The one she'd only just got back in the last few years. The rest of the night passed in a blur and it really wasn't until Minerva undressed her and slid into bed beside her that she calmed down. She rolled into Minerva's arms and sighed against her chest.

"Does life ever get less terrifying," she chuckled.

"Not really," Minerva muttered. "But it helps to share those scary things with people who love you."

"Like you," Hermione smiled.

"Like you ," Minerva soothed, brushing back her hair. "It will not upset me if you don't want to. But it might be exactly what we've always talked about. You can sell this place, or rent it out. You can try moving in with me somewhere? We can feed each other pretzels and beer at Oktoberfest?"

"You can," Hermione snorted. "No thank you." She paused as she traced Minerva's face. "You practically live here anyway. Why would it be different?"

"Perhaps it wouldn't. But it would not be my place and it would not be yours. It would be," she shrugged. "Ours."

"And when we come back, we'd be in your -"

"We are not required to stay at the Castle, or here. We can move somewhere else. Or have new rooms assigned to us. After a year of exploring, I may not want to go back."

Hermione stared at her for a long moment.

"Yeah, right."

Minerva laughed and rolled on top of her with a smile. 

"We could visit the libraries in Austria?"

Hermione's ears perked up.

"Like the -"

"Like the Library at Admont Abbey?"

Hermione hummed and Minerva took the time to slide her knee between her thighs.

"This is -"

"The Biblioteca Marciana also wouldn't be far away?"

Hermione bit her lip as Minerva smirked. Hermione knew exactly what Minerva was doing but she couldn't bring herself to care.

"We could," Minerva continued thoughtfully, walking her fingers up Hermione's sternum. "Go searching for the Library of Alexandria?"

"Fuck it," Hermione growled and pulled Minerva into a kiss.

Their laughter accompanied their passion and as Hermione lost herself in it, she realised that family was family. Wherever they all were, they would always be there for each other whenever they were needed. Because that is what family is all about. She laughed through her tears and she realised that all she really needed was right here, in her arms and in her heart.

She'd work out the rest of the details later.