My gaze flickers to Fleur who released Bill's hand and stands, her eyes tentative as she approaches. "'ow much did you 'ear?"
"Enough," I reply simply. It was easy to remain calm on the outwardly, but inside I was seething. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears and could feel my palms sweating. "Is it true? About mere. She has Fred?"
Fleur frowns. but nods slowly. I'm still stunned by it, unsure of whether I should believe them or not. It seemed so implausible that my own mother could be capable of kidnapping the man she knew I loved. "But she approved of him," I try to reason, desperately clinging to a thread of hope that they misunderstood everything. "She had us over for dinner, she accepetd us..."
Aveline walks toward me, her voice low as she rests a hand on my shoulder. "Your mother isn't herself, Gabrielle. She's been unwell for a very long time."
"And now she has Fred," I repeat, tearing my gaze away from Fleur to Aveline. "At Faerie Ridge. She took him there and pretended that she didn't have a clue as to where he was. She pretended to want to help me..." I trail off, inhaling sharply as despair hitches in my chest.
Aveline strokes my hair, but I don't want to be treated like a child. I couldn't dwell on what my mother did, the betrayal and pain she's caused me. Instead I lift my chin and straighten. "I'm going with you."
"You can't," Bill begins. "It's going to be too dangerous. We'll bring Fred home, Gabrielle."
"If my mother has Fred, then I'm going with you to get him. I don't care that I'm not an Auror. I know magic, and I'm good at it." I point to Tonks. "She's pregnant and you're letting her go. Aveline is going. You say it's dangerous, but you'll put their babies in danger and leave me here to do nothing."
"Tonks is a trained Auror--"
"I don't care! I'm going with you and nothing, not even a sleeping potion," I snap, shooting a heated glare at Fleur, "is going to keep me from helping."
I hear murmurs of protest begin when George stands and says loudly, "I think she should go."
"The more we take, the more dangerous it's going to get," Charlie counters, his hands in his hips. "And the more complicated it's going to be getting Fred home."
"Then leave the pregnant women at home." I fold my arms across my chest and keep my stance defensive. "But I'm going to be there to save my husband, whether you all like it or not."
"Gabrielle, you don't under--" Bill pauses abruptly as shocked silence falls in the room. "Hold on, did you say husband?"
Fleur drops her forehead in the palm of her hand and mutters in French while George tries to conceal his grin. Unashamed and unconcerned, I stare at Bill darkly. "Yes, I did. Is that a problem?"
"You got married?" Aveline breathes, her eyes widening in shock. "When?"
"Does it matter?" I ask in exasperation. "All that matters now is getting Fred home."
No one says a word for several minutes before Cho crosses to me and hugs me tightly, taking me by surprise. "In spite of the situation, it may seem inappropriate, but congratulations."
"T-Thanks," I reply, unsure of whether to hug her back. Suddenly Aveline's arms are around me, her growing stomach bumping into my side.
"You should have told me!"
"I know, I should have told everyone. But we weren't sure it was the right time," I explain wearily, engulfed then by Fleur. I can barely breathe now but I accept the gestures, knowing they were for far more than my marriage.
"There will be plenty of time for questions," Charlie finally says, his own voice strained as the women pull away from me. "Right now we need to finalize everything we're going to have to do." His gaze finds mine before I see his lips curve ever so slightly. "So we can bring your husband home as soon as possible."