The Other Right Prediction
HUGE thanks to my betas: Firelocks and PackMan!
Without Firelocks, this story would have been thrown in the trash, so
high was my frustration level. She is a
true friend for talking me through it all.
Thank you also to the readers who bugged me to finish this. I never
would have, if not for you.
It’s been years, literally, so go back and reread (or read) the prequel
to this story, Famous Last Words.
It’s short and I guarantee that if you don’t, the only comment you’ll
have for me is “huh?” Trust me.
For Kevin and Mieke, on their wedding.
Harry knew, even if it was something that he would
never admit out loud, that he had done a lot of incredible things in his
life. It was funny though; right now
none of them seemed to matter as much as what was going to happen today.
In a matter of minutes, Ron and Hermione’s wedding
was going to start, and Harry, although he thought hard for a few moments,
couldn’t remember the last time he had been so happy. The wedding, Harry had come to realize, was doing for him what
time should have done - giving him the means to be simply happy, without
painful memories affecting everything he did.
Even though nearly five years had passed, Harry had
never been able to shake the visions of that last, horrible confrontation and
the awful years that preceded it – Ron killing Draco Malfoy…Hagrid’s death…how
close they had come to losing…Voldemort’s final destruction. Not to mention the aftermath - trying to put
their world back together…tracking down and dealing with the humiliated
remnants of Voldemort’s followers, many of whom, including Lucius Malfoy, had
been declared dead though their bodies had vanished…everyone trying with
varying levels of success to move on with their lives. Finally, Harry felt like they were truly
succeeding with that last point, and it felt incredible, to be able to focus on
the present, and not -
A disgusting noise jolted Harry out
of his thoughts. Slowly, his eyes
focused as he tried to concentrate on his surroundings, sensations returning in
a rush, bringing him back to the reason he was perched on the edge of the
counter in the upstairs loo at the Burrow:
Ron was leaning over the toilet, making some truly horrid noises as he
lost his lunch. And, Harry grimaced,
probably his breakfast.
Harry sighed and pushed up his
glasses. Ron had been puking for at
least six minutes, and Harry inwardly chided himself for not guessing that
something like this would happen today.
He could have at least taken a look at one of Hermione’s books on
medicine for a calming charm or potion.
“Ron? You all right yet?” Harry
asked as he uncomfortably pulled at the collar of his black formal robes and
kicked his heels against the bathroom cabinets. “Come on, it’s only Hermione, after all.”
This did seem to jolt Ron out of his
nervous throwing up, not that it seemed to have a comforting effect, Harry
realized. It only seemed to distract
him from losing the rest of his breakfast.
Ron reached unsteadily for the wand at his waist,
muttered the spell to banish the contents of the toilet, and turned around on
his knees to face Harry, his voice shaky and his freckles standing out clearly
against his pale face.
“Only Hermione?” He squeaked. “Are you serious? What if
I…forget my vows? Or…slip and fall flat
on my face when I lean over to kiss her?”
Harry shook his head and hopped down
off the counter. ‘Eleven years,’ he
thought to himself, but didn’t think Ron would take that joke too well right
now. Instead, he leaned down and seized
Ron’s arm, raising him not unkindly to his feet, and pulled him over to the
small window that overlooked the Weasley’s large garden. Looking down, they had a clear view of
entire backyard, which was bursting with their family and friends, everyone
talking happily as they waited for the ceremony to begin.
Mrs. Weasley had spent the previous afternoon
directing the Weasley boys and Harry in placing everything in just the right
position, and Harry had to admit that from up here, it did look impressive,
especially the small arch covered in spelled ribbons and flowers surrounded by
over a hundred white chairs throughout the garden.
There were still too many weeds, and the gnarled
trees and flowerbeds still grew out of control, but he had always thought the
garden perfect, and now it looked even better, full as it was with everyone in
their brightly colored robes. Harry
tried again to imagine the ceremony as Hermione had described it to him, but he
still couldn’t form a picture of it in his mind. After all his years spent in the wizarding world, he still came
upon things that surprised him.
Harry spotted Dumbledore in his shimmering opal
robes standing ready near the flowering arch; he had been acting oddly, or at
least more oddly than usual, since he had arrived. He seemed to think that there was something quite hilarious about
Ron and Hermione getting married, and kept bursting into chuckles and shaking
his head every few minutes. Or, Harry
realized, maybe Dumbledore had finally cracked for good. At least he seemed calm now, and Harry
chuckled and looked around, easily spotting the bright red heads of the many
Weasleys throughout the garden.
He could see Bill, Charlie, Fred, and George, and
searched for Ginny until he remembered that she was probably helping Hermione
get ready downstairs. Harry could just
make out Mrs. Weasley, standing by the supper tables at the far side of the
garden, giving last minute instructions to the many elves that ran here and
there. Mr. Weasley was standing nearby, his bald head standing out just as
clearly, speaking patiently to what appeared to be a group of reporters. Harry frowned – when had that lot shown
up? They must have just arrived. He squinted and adjusted his glasses…yes,
they were reporters; he could see their cameras and quills. Why was Mr. Weasley talking to them so
patiently and with what looked like such good humor? Harry felt himself tensing up; something was odd about this. The Weasleys usually kept as far away as
possible from the press. Harry was about to turn to Ron and tell him they
should find out what was going on, but he stopped himself resolutely. This was exactly the kind of behavior he
needed to put an end to, the kind of behavior that had kept him from moving on
with his life for so long. Nothing bad
was happening downstairs. Mr. Weasley had probably decided that it was best to
be amiable on Ron’s wedding day; he was such a good person, and it would be nice to have a positive news
story about Ron and Hermione in the papers.
Yes, that was it. Harry could
almost laugh at himself - he was going to turn out like Moody had always been
if he didn’t stop it.
Harry deliberately looked elsewhere, and let his
mind wander back to happier thoughts.
So many people had come, and it obviously wasn’t only due to the fact
that all of Ron’s overlarge family was here, from second cousins to
great-uncles, more than making up for Hermione’s tiny family. So many friends had come as well from
Hogwarts and the Order, along with others they had met in the years since
school had ended. Everyone looked as
happy as Harry felt.
The gnomes were scurrying around the garden
carrying flowers and chairs, barely visible as they darted between long robes,
and Harry hoped that they were still on their best behavior. They had all been shocked when the gnomes
had offered to help yesterday; even more so when they had actually done it
without biting anyone. Ron had
absolutely forbidden his brothers and Harry from telling Hermione, predicting
that she would immediately start on an anti-gnome-tossing campaign. “I don’t need her to drive me crazy for the
rest of my life,” he had groaned, and Harry had smirked to himself knowing that
it wasn’t like she hadn’t been doing that for the past eleven years anyway.
Harry turned to look at Ron, and
found him staring down into the garden as well looking lost in thought with his
hands gripping the windowsill hard.
“Ron,” Harry said, sure he had finally found the right words to calm his
friend, even if he knew he'd stammer his way through them, “this is…it’s right.
You and Hermione, you've been in love since...well, since we were all eleven,
and you damn well know it!” Harry
stopped, watching Ron’s ears and neck begin to turn pink. Knowing that his own face was also burning,
he tried to say something a little less embarrassing. “I mean…no one ever thought you would make it this far, but since
you haven’t done it yet, it must be pretty near impossible to mess the two of
you up –”
“Oy, all right, you,” Ron
interrupted. His face was now totally
red, but he was finally smiling, and at least his face wasn’t still as pale as
Nearly Headless Nick’s. “I was just
thinking…all that,” he nodded his chin toward the window, “is pretty
incredible. Today is going to be
great. It’s taken us all a long time to
get here, and I wouldn’t be here if…well, if, if it wasn’t for you. Thanks mate. I - well…just…thanks.”
Harry shrugged uncomfortably and
ducked his head – after all, he and Ron were never so outwardly emotional with
each other, and he thought, suddenly, of Hermione, who had never been afraid to
show her emotions for either him or Ron.
She was probably still downstairs in Mr. and Mrs. Weasley’s
bedroom. While Harry was acting as the
“best person” (“because you’re both of our best friend,” Hermione had explained
practically, when they had asked him), Ginny and Mrs. Granger were helping her
get ready. Harry was sure that she
wasn’t working herself up over getting married to Ron. Or actually, he suddenly thought, he was
pretty darn glad he was up here with Ron and not down there. Hermione might usually have more sense, but
not when it came to Ron.
Grinning at Ron a bit shyly, he
replied, “I…well, anything, Ron. You
Ron nodded slowly; then turned to
look out the window again, looking glad for the interruption, as they heard Mr.
Weasley shout “Ron! Harry!”
He stood below the window now, and
began to gesture madly when he saw them looking at him.
“Oh, um…” said Ron, glancing at his
wristwatch, which read time to get
hitched, “I think it’s time.”
“Yeah, well, I think you’ll need these,” Harry replied, picking up Ron’s formal
robes from the counter and tossing them to him. Best person duties like that, he could handle.
Ron pulled them on, tugging them
over his head so that his face was hidden for a moment, and when he emerged,
his hair was left looking like Harry’s often did.
“What?” he demanded, when Harry
“Your hair,” said Harry,
smiling. “But don’t panic!” He pulled out his wand and quickly said the
spell that Ginny had been using lately to straighten out Harry’s messy black
hair. “Oh, and here,” he continued,
fishing a peppermint humbug out of his pocket.
“You need this too.”
Ron made a face at him, but took the offered
mint. “Anything else Mum, I mean
Harry?” Ron asked, only half-joking;
Harry could still see worry in his eyes.
“You’re fine, and…I’m right here,” said Harry;
grasping Ron’s arm in what he hoped was a reassuring grip. “Let’s go.”
Ron stole one last glance out the
window at the chaos that was slowly organizing itself as everyone sat down
expectantly. They turned and walked out
of the loo, Ron leading the way.
Ginny was completely exhausted. Leaning her head back against the window in
her parents’ bedroom, she let her body to sink down onto the windowsill and her
eyes to close slowly.
She had never helped to plan a wedding before
Hermione and Ron’s, and was sure she wouldn’t have offered to help as much as
she had if she had known how much work was going to be ahead of her.
Since Voldemort’s defeat, more and more wizards
were having traditional ceremonies instead of a simple crossing of wands. Hermione and Ron and everyone, really,
especially Ginny’s mum, had thought that was a wonderful idea, which had meant
that there were thousands of details to take care of concerning things Ginny
had never even known existed, such as needing to find an ordained Mugwump to
perform the ceremony and making sure that every one of the guests was ready to
do their part. Compared to the typical
Muggle ceremony Hermione had described to Ginny, life-bonding was incredibly
complicated, with friends and family each adding a bit of their love for the
couple to the bonding spell.
Harry had been a huge help in all the planning at
least, and Ginny wondered if, with the topic of weddings on his mind, he would
feel that they were also ready to take the big step. After all, they had been together…for some time now…and he
could feel herself falling asleep, her thoughts scattering and her head beginning
to nod idiotically as it had when she was fighting sleep in Professor Binns’
lectures all those years ago. She
fought to keep her head up, but couldn’t keep her eyes from drooping down
again. Knowing this was no time to fall
asleep, she massaged her face with her fingers, not really caring if it would
make her freckles show through her makeup, and forced herself to think of the
wedding. Yes, it had been a lot of
work, but it would be worth it, for Ron, Hermione, Harry, everyone. Better that she be exhausted than Hermione,
after all, and finally having the luxury to concentrate on something as happy
and peaceful as a wedding felt absolutely wonderful. It just wasn’t fair, how fully Voldemort had affected all of
their lives for so long and in so many ways.
At that thought Ginny sighed a little, thinking of
another wedding that should have taken place and would have, if not for
Voldemort. Percy’s death was one of
those things that she had learned to live with, but today especially she was
feeling the lack of his presence. He
would have been horribly pretentious today, shaking Ron’s hand and proclaiming
that he had known today was coming years ago. At least he would have been here,
and Fred and George would tease him and she could dance with him before he
would go home with his huge family.
Instead, Penny was here by herself.
On the verge of crying, Ginny looked over to
Hermione, who was sitting quietly across the room at the dressing table while
Mrs. Granger applied her make-up.
Desperate to calm her turbulent emotions, Ginny willed herself to think
about Hermione and Ron. They deserved
their happiness, and seeing Hermione’s beautiful reflection in the mirror made
Ginny smile. Her formal robes were
simple and her hair, usually so bushy, was pulled up in soft curls into which
Ginny had twisted several roses. Try as
she might, however, Ginny couldn’t remember how long it had taken to do
Hermione’s hair that morning. Her only
recollections were seemingly unending wand movements…muttered spells…and two
extra-large bottles of Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion…
Ginny?” It was Mrs. Granger’s
voice, and it sounded as if it was coming from very far away. With a start, Ginny jerked straight up,
realizing with a shock that she had fallen asleep. Blushing a little sheepishly, she got off the windowsill, rubbing
her eyes and stretching. Mrs. Granger
was chuckling at her, but Hermione was looking worried.
“I’m sorry I’ve tired you out so much these past
few days. I guess…I…I just wanted
everything to be perfect, and, well…” Hermione trailed off a little
uncertainly, looking at Ginny in the mirror.
Ginny hurried to cross the room to stand next to
“I wanted to help, really!” she tried to assure
her, smiling at how she had just been thinking very nearly the same thing. She was lucky that Hermione was becoming her
sister at last.
Glancing at the clock on the mantelpiece, Ginny
was surprised by the positions of the planets, which showed that it was nearly
time for the wedding to start. She felt
a thrill of excitement wash over her, her tiredness suddenly forgotten, and she
teased Hermione in a happy rush of emotions.
“Wait, why did I want to do all this work? Something to do with you not being able to
keep your hands off one of my loser brothers?”
“Very funny,” Hermione said faintly.
Mrs. Granger giggled at Ginny, catching her eye
from where she was leaning over Hermione.
Ginny grinned back, and remembered why she had
woken up. “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Granger,
what were you saying?”
“Just that I really love these witch
cosmetics!” Mrs. Granger told her, as
she finished Hermione’s face with a light touch of lip-gloss.
“It’s their charms that make them so wonderful,”
replied Ginny, smiling as she bent down to see Hermione’s face in the mirror
more closely. Their reflections could
have been a study in contrasts – Ginny, rumpled and pink, red hair scattered
across her shoulders, Hermione, polished and quiet with warm brown eyes and
hair. “You look perfect, Hermione!”
“Do I?” Hermione asked quietly, barely glancing at
herself in the mirror.
“You both look beautiful,” the mirror wheezed to
Ginny, startling Mrs. Granger into dropping the lip-gloss on the dressing room
table, leaving a smear that quickly vanished.
“But if I didn’t know any better,” the mirror continued, “I’d say Ginny
was the one getting married! This one’s
barely said a word since she sat down!
Not exactly the right one to marry a Weasley, now is she?”
“What?” asked Hermione, her voice shaking. “No!
I am! Aren’t I, Ginny? Oh…I keep running over everything in my head
again and again…but I just cannot believe the wedding is today. It seems unreal…we’ve been waiting and
planning for so long, and now that it’s here…I feel so unprepared…and scared.”
“Hermione! Of course you’re
perfect for Ron. Don’t worry, getting
nervous before a wedding is totally normal.
It happens to everyone.” Ginny tried to remember the article she had
read in Hermione’s copy of Weddings for
Witches “Is it Cold Feet or a Cold Heart?” and hoped she sounded
reassuring. “Now, you’re...um…you’re
happy with Ron, aren’t you?”
“Of course Ron makes me happy!” Hermione rushed to assure her. “Don’t be ridiculous!”
“So, then, you’re just nervous!” Ginny announced, leaning down and taking
Hermione’s hands in her own, staring at her until Hermione raised her eyes to
“Yeah,” she replied softly. “I know I shouldn’t be…Ron knows me better
than anyone else in the world. He’s
everything to me…”
“Humph…” interrupted the mirror, obviously not
convinced, but Ginny gave it an icy glare and it sealed its wooden mouth.
“Oh, you stop that. This is just our Hermione,” Mrs. Granger said crossly to the
mirror as she leaned down to smooth the shoulder of her daughter’s robes
softly. “Don’t you worry, you’re perfect
for Ron. Ginny’s right; being nervous is completely normal before a
wedding. I remember when I married your
father…I was a bundle of nerves for a week before! I nearly drilled a hole in a patient’s tongue instead of his
tooth,” she laughed. “And when Ron is involved, getting anxious and upset is
perfectly normal for you. I’m not
surprised you’re nervous today, dear.”
“But she has absolutely no reason to be.” Ginny said firmly, silently willing Mrs.
Granger to keep talking so they could work Hermione out of her case of nerves.
“That’s right. We’re here, even
though you’re trying to be independent and handle everything yourself, like
usual.” She sighed. “You know, all these years you’ve tried to
be so self-reliant, so strong. We had
to read between the lines of every letter you owled home while you were all at
Hogwarts. Of course, you were trying to
protect us; as if we weren’t worried enough about you going away to be a witch,
we had to deal with letters that obviously weren’t telling us everything. But,” and here she looked across Hermione’s
head at Ginny slyly, “in every letter she always mentioned some boy named
Ron. I never would have guessed that
you and he would end up here.”
Hermione blushed and giggled, looking and sounding
like herself at last. “You never guessed? I thought Ron was the only clueless
one. You know, I did guess…but then
again, I didn’t. Being with Ron was
more of a dream than anything else.”
“A dream that’s come true.” Mrs. Granger told her softly. “Magic, like so much else in your life. Like you.
Look in the mirror…you’re so beautiful.”
Hermione looked, finally, and gasped a little at
“Oh Mum,” she said softly. “How could I have been so silly
before?” A wide, genuine smile appeared
on her face. “I’ve been looking forward
to this day for such a long time.”
“Exactly,” replied Ginny, smiling back at her
friend. “Now, come on, let’s make sure
you’re all set so you can go kiss my git of a brother.”
Hermione stood up and stepped away from the dressing
table, and Ginny and Mrs. Granger stepped close to her, making sure nothing was
out of place, Ginny securing curls and flowers with a few concentrated flicks
of her wand.
“Now, you’re ready to do your part in the
ceremony, right Mum?” Hermione asked, a
hint of nervousness creeping back into her voice, and Ginny remembered the
practice Mrs. Granger had been doing earlier with Ginny’s own mum.
You know, in the beginning, I wanted you two to have a traditional
Muggle ceremony. I know you’re a witch
now,” she rushed to assure Hermione, who had opened her mouth to protest, “but
I just dreamed of that for you for so many years, probably because I knew that
if you had a wizard ceremony, it would just be one more part of your life I was
left out of. But now, after all the
work you did with Professors Lupin and McGonagall to find a way for your father
and I and your grandparents to participate, I’ll be ready no matter what. Don’t you worry about that,” she smiled at
Hermione, her own brown eyes shining with pride.
Ginny replied jokingly, “Wait a second, are you sure that was the right decision? You want to be more involved in the
wizarding world? I’m not sure if that’s
such a good idea, considering my dad.
You know, if you hurry, you can still leave before he corners you and
drags you off to show off his plug collection.
He’d call it the ‘new in-laws’ tour.”
Hermione and Mrs. Granger laughed, but Mrs.
Granger’s giggles quickly turned into tears.
Hermione cried, spinning around to face her mother. “Why are you crying?”
“Oh, dear, my little girl is getting married! I’m going to be an in-law!” Mrs. Granger cried. “I didn’t…for so long I was afraid that we
would never see your wedding day. I was
so scared, so frightened...” She sniffled, gazing hard at her daughter, and
Ginny had the feeling that Mrs. Granger had been trying to keep these words
bottled up all day. Ginny almost wished
she hadn’t said anything, because they were words that she herself had been
trying not to think.
Mrs. Granger seemed to have the same thought. “I’m so sorry, Hermione, I didn’t mean to
say that…I just couldn’t help it.”
Ginny saw tears in Hermione’s eyes as she leaned
in to wrap her arms around her mother.
“Oh, Mum…” she said quietly.
“Now, that’s enough,” Mrs. Granger said firmly
through her tears. “No more of those
thoughts today. Today is going to be
the happiest day of your life.”
Hermione buried her face in Mrs. Granger’s
shoulder, and they hugged tightly until there was a knock at the door.
“That better not be Ron!” Ginny called, as Mrs. Granger and Hermione
broke apart, both wiping their eyes, but looking stronger for what had passed
“No, Miss, it is
Winky!” Ginny heard, as Hermione and
Mrs. Granger gave each other strong smiles and grasped each other’s hands
tightly. The door swung open to reveal
the tiny elf standing on the landing, wearing small light green robes.
“Miss Hermione, your Ronald is downstairs
already! Don’t worry, you is not late;
those reporter-wizards are asking questions of him. Professor Dumbledore just is asking me to tell you that it is
nearly time to be getting started!”
“Reporters? That’s strange…but I bet Ron is loving
that! Oh! This is actually happening!”
Hermione gasped, jumping up and down a little. “Ginny, you’re going to
be my sister!” she suddenly squealed, turning and hugging her tightly.
“Come on, Mi -” Winky said from
behind Hermione, but her last word cut off abruptly, as if her voice was a
charmed recording that had been suddenly silenced.
Ginny made to pull back from
Hermione’s embrace, about to ask Winky if everything was okay, but suddenly
found that she couldn’t move her hands from where they were resting on
Hermione’s shoulders, Hermione’s hands pressed tight against her upper arms, holding
her close. Ginny’s whole body appeared
to be completely stiff, and she tugged, hard, trying to will her legs to move,
but she was stuck.
She could feel Hermione struggling almost
imperceptibly against their invisible bonds, but also failing to break
free. Over Hermione’s shoulder Mrs.
Granger stood, also frozen in place, and behind her Ginny could see Winky, her
mouth half-open and her wand dangling in one immobile hand.
Ginny’s eyes, the only part of her body that
seemed to be able to move freely, darted helplessly to Hermione’s face, just
inches away from her own. Hermione’s
brown eyes locked with Ginny’s, and she could tell the other girl felt just as
confused as to what was happening. They
stood there, locked in place, for what felt like hours, not knowing what to do.
Ginny could tell Hermione was thinking furiously –
her eyes were darting back and forth as if trying spot a way out, and Ginny
tried to puzzle her way through what was happening as well.
‘What’s going on?’ Ginny thought furiously.
If this was Fred and George’s doing with some kind of new Wheezes
invention, they were going to pay…even they should know that nerves would be
stretched too tight for a practical joke on a day like today. It would be just like them to think it would
be funny to make Hermione late for the wedding, too.
As Ginny finished that thought, she cursed herself
for being so naïve. What had Harry told
her just this morning? That this
wedding had moved them all permanently past the darkness? He was wrong it seemed, for from outside she
suddenly heard the word “Nooooo!” screamed in anguish in a voice she would know
She saw Hermione’s eyes spring open,
terror-stricken, and Ginny felt her own heart leap in her chest.
‘Ron!’ cried Ginny silently.
“Not a word, Harry.”
“About what?” Harry asked in his
most innocent voice, trying hard not to ruin it by laughing. Ron was ahead of him as they made their way
down the stairs, but Harry could see his ears turning pink again even from above.
“You know exactly what I’m talking
about,” Ron shot back. “I’ve got some
dirt on you too, you know…and Ginny is never more than an Apparition away…”
Knowing Ron too well to take him
seriously, Harry finally gave in to his laughter as they walked into the
kitchen. “Ron, you’re mental. I bet Hermione would think you throwing up
is cute or something equally disgusting.”
Even the murderous look Ron gave him couldn’t stop Harry’s laughter. “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.”
The kitchen was empty. Harry had expected it to be as crowded as it
had been when he had followed Ron up the stairs at a dead run, and he stopped
for a moment to take it in. This room
was the first place where Harry had felt like he was at home, and it had always
been the center of the Weasley house for him, constantly filled with food and
laughter, and too many people with red hair.
Now, all the noise in the room was coming into it through the back door,
which was open to the summer breeze.
Mixed with the sunlight that poured in and lit up the room were the
sounds of music and many voices murmuring excitedly.
Ron had stopped as well, but unlike Harry, he
stood staring out the door at the backyard.
He took a deep breath, let it out, and then turned to look at
Harry. Giving him a smile that only
wavered slightly, he announced, “Well, here goes!” and stepped outside, Harry
following. Almost at once, everyone in
the backyard turned to look at them.
But that wasn’t exactly right, Harry realized with relief; for once
everyone was staring at Ron and not him.
He glanced over at Ron, glad to see that he was still smiling, although
he was turning a bit pale again.
“Come on,” Harry said, “this way.” He began to steer Ron over to Dumbledore,
but they had barely made it ten steps away from the kitchen door when a flurry
of running feet and flashing light bulbs came their way, along with shouts of
“Mr. Weasley! Sarah Poloutey from Witch’s Weekly…” “Oh, Mr. Weasley, a few questions?” Harry sighed.
Mr. Weasley strode up from behind the mob of reporters,
looking slightly harried. “Oh, boys,
here you are. These witches and wizards
were hoping to ask you a few questions…I didn’t think it would hurt; what do
“Oh, um, sure, Dad.
We have time for one or two questions, right? Okay, who’s first?” Ron asked the four witches, as another witch
and a wizard snapped pictures, suddenly sounding like himself again.
Harry covered his smirk with one hand and turned
away, pretending to be very interested in the calisthenics Dumbledore appeared
to be engaging in across the garden, which must have been some strange Mugwump
pre-ceremony meditation of sorts. He
knew he should tell Ron that they needed to get up there, but he didn’t have
the heart. Ron still loved being in the
newspaper, and what harm could it do to let him answer a few questions? They still had a few minutes to toss the
reporters out before the ceremony started.
Plus, the more excited the reporters got him, the less time he had to
focus on being nervous. Of course, a
nervous Ron was more entertaining any day, but having him calm and happy was
probably for the best. At least if
anything happened – Harry stopped himself before he could finish the thought.
He was supposed to stop thinking like that. And anyway, there was nothing to
“Well, I always knew Hermione was the one for me,” Ron was telling
the reporter from Weddings for Witches. “Even when we were all back at
Hogwarts. But, of course, we had much
more important things to do back then.”
Harry snorted at how pompous Ron sounded, and then
his smile faded. He missed Percy. He should have been here today. And Snape, even, although if anyone had told
Harry ten years ago that he would be missing Snape’s presence at Ron and
Hermione’s wedding, he would have tried to have them committed to St.
Mungos. But Snape had proved himself a
true ally, and too many allies had died.
Like…Hagrid. Harry missed Hagrid
everyday, and it hurt knowing how thrilled he would have been to see Hermione
and Ron getting married. Harry hoped
that he was watching right now. While
riding on the back of a dragon.
Smiling at that thought, Harry
adjusted his glasses and glanced around the garden, resigned to a long
wait. Most of the guests were sitting
down, watching Ron as he answered the reporters’ questions, and laughing too;
everyone knew Ron’s fancy for attention.
“But weren’t Miss Granger and Mr.
Potter romantically involved while at Hogwarts?” one of the witches asked, her
quill scribbling on the parchment suspended in front of her.
Harry sighed. Couldn’t they think of any new questions
after all these years? Thankful Ron had
never believed those ridiculous rumors, Harry chose to ignore the temptation to
turn around and give the woman a rude answer.
Still looking deliberately away, he spotted Mr. Granger standing at the
edge of the nearest flowerbeds, waiting, Harry supposed, for Hermione to come
downstairs. He looked just as nervous as Ron had just been, and also distinctly
out of place in his black suit among the bright wizards’ robes.
“No,” Ron replied in a short voice. “Okay, last question, and then it’s time for
me to get married.”
“Ah, yes, Mister Weasley. Final
question,” the fourth of the witches spoke up.
Harry thought he recognized her voice; it was distinctively low-pitched.
She must have interviewed him after a match or something. “How exactly does it feel to betray your
pure Wizard blood by marrying a Mudblood?
Are you enjoying polluting the
‘Wha -?’ Ron
Harry whipped around, suddenly certain of where he
had heard the voice before. It was a
voice he had not heard in five years, and they had all assumed its owner dead.
Desperately, he lunged for his wand, but too
late. Suddenly, the reporters and
photographers threw their cameras and quills on the ground, pointed their wands
around the garden and whispered a spell he didn’t recognize. The incantation cut straight through Harry
and his words died in his throat. As
they stopped speaking, the air became deathly still and Harry found himself
unable to move, his mouth gaping open and his hand halfway to his wand.
Even worse, he began to recognize the face of the
witch who had just spoken. She turned her wand on herself, muttered Finite Incantatem, and her face and body
began to change. Her eyes became thin
and pale, her body lightened as she grew at least a foot, and long brown hair
shrunk and turned what must once have been pale blond, but was now a light and
sickly gray. Even her robes changed from
purple to severe black and Harry found himself looking straight at the owner of
that unmistakable voice, Lucius Malfoy.
As Harry watched, Malfoy’s mouth began to move,
but Harry couldn’t hear what he was saying over the blood pounding in his
ears. Harry realized with a desperate
feeling in the pit of his stomach that he had forgotten Moody’s first rule
after constant vigilance – always trust your instincts. ‘You idiot,’ Harry yelled frantically at
himself, struggling hard. ‘What were
you thinking? Why weren’t you ready for
this?’ He closed his eyes, trying to
escape not only the sight of Malfoy’s smug smirk as he gave orders to the Death
Eaters the other reporters had revealed themselves to be, but also the evil
glint in his eyes.
Harry took a deep breath, trying to force himself
to calm down. ‘Use your anger. Use your fear,’ Harry told himself; trying
to remember Moody’s training, training he hadn’t had to use in nearly five
years. ‘Don’t let them overwhelm you so
that you are unable to act. Now, break
free. Do it.’ Forcefully, Harry tried to move his arms, then his legs, but he
was stuck. He would have to find
another way out of this, and quickly.
Harry forced his eyes open, only to see Malfoy swaggering around the
garden, taunting Ron, Mr. Weasley, Sirius, McGonagall…all frozen in place, eyes
flashing furiously. He wrenched his
eyes away from the sight and frantically sought out Dumbledore. His heart sank as he saw that the old
headmaster’s eyes were not even open.
Heart sinking, Harry realized that he must have been meditating when the
spell hit. Would he be able to stop
Malfoy anyway? Harry didn’t have time
to wait and see. No one was moving at
all except the Death Eaters, and Harry couldn’t bear to see the looks of glee
on their faces. Malfoy was walking back towards Ron, sneering and arrogantly
pushing his hair back as he spoke.
Harry forced himself to listen.
He needed to find a way out of this.
“…the perfect moment!” Lucius was snarling. “Every last one of the Lord’s enemies
together in one place. Foolishly
without any protection at all, as I knew you would be! So secure, so smug, in your peace.
Not worrying about what happens to those who get foolish and
complacent. Not paying attention to us,
the loyal followers of the most powerful wizard of all time! Believing yourselves totally
victorious. You were wrong. We are still here, and there will always be
those who understand and embrace the truth of Lord Voldemort’s vision! We will cleanse the wizarding world of all
its impurities. Beginning here,” he
looked around the garden disdainfully, “where there is so much filth.”
Harry felt bile rise up in
his throat, and his hands ached to turn into fists. The sick bastard - this was all a sport for him, like it always
had been. It made him even sicker to
realize that Malfoy was right – they had been
foolish and complacent today. And now,
Malfoy would torture and murder all those who Harry cared about, all to fulfill
a sick philosophy. At least Hermione
and Ginny were inside, upstairs. They
wouldn’t have to see this; Harry could be thankful for that.
“This time, we will not fail. There will be a Dark Mark flying here
tonight…and the entire world will know that even though Lord Voldemort is gone,
his ideals will never die.”
“I will begin,” he paused, seeming to relish his
truly captive audience, “with you, boy.” Malfoy turned his cold eyes on Ron,
and smiled thinly.
Harry narrowed his eyes. Ron? Why not him?
As if he could hear his thoughts, Malfoy turned to
look at him. “Harry Potter. I know exactly what you’re thinking - why not
me? The great Harry Potter?” He began to mimic Harry in a high-pitched
voice, pacing in front of him and Ron.
“It was I who killed Voldemort!
Me, the famous Harry Potter!” He
stopped in front of Harry, a disgusted look on his face. “Yes, it was you,” he spat. “And for that, you will watch every single
person and filthy creature here be tortured and killed, before you die a more
painful death than you could ever imagine.
There will be no duel here today, no time for your pitiful heroics.” He
walked back to stand in front of Ron, twirling his wand in his fingers, and
Harry felt another surge of disgust as he realized how fully Malfoy was enjoying this. He brought his wand close to Ron’s face. “You will die first, and you will finally
pay for murdering my son.”
“My Lord,” The other Death Eaters had returned,
and one had stepped forward to speak to Malfoy. “The area is secure.
Everyone is frozen, and the wards are in place.”
Malfoy replied shortly. “Watch,
and you will be able to have your own fun when I am done.”
Suddenly, ropes shot out of the end of his wand,
which bound themselves around Ron’s body and over his mouth. “I will unfreeze you, of course,” Malfoy
said with a feral smile, “the better to see you suffer.”
Harry wanted to look away, to scream, to jump on Malfoy and attack
him. Not being able to do anything but
feebly struggle against his invisible bonds was tearing him apart inside, the
happiness and release he had felt not even an hour earlier rapidly overwhelmed
by despair that he fought hard to keep at bay.
Not Ron. Not everyone. Not
again, and all because of him. Again. Harry would have screamed; as it was, all he
could do was squeeze his eyes shut tight.
But he opened them quickly, to be ready should an opportunity arise, and
to bear witness to Ron’s torture.
Almost lazily, clearly enjoying every second,
Malfoy murmured the unfreezing spell.
Harry tensed at once, hoping it would work on everyone and not just Ron,
but it was only Ron who suddenly sagged, held up by only the ropes bound around
his body. Everyone else remained where
they were, a gross parody of the individuality, strength, and intelligence that
each of them possessed.
The lone woman stepped forward to take Ron’s wand
out of his belt, and Ron struggled hard as she took it away. “Hmm…something you’d like to say, boy?” she
purred at him, and Ron looked at her with revulsion written all over his face.
He twisted his head around furiously, and Harry realized he was looking for Hermione
– Ron hadn’t been able to see the house from the direction he had been facing
and didn’t know if she was outside or not.
“Ah, yes,” Malfoy cut in. “Worried about the brats upstairs? Your pathetic sister and your Mudblood
bride? We know they’re there. Along with her Muggle mother…I have long
waited to meet her in particular. I am anxious
to find the mud in the Mudblood.
There’s nothing you can do to save them.” He removed the bond around Ron’s mouth with a flick of his
wand. “Just know that they’ll be taken
care of next. Oh yes, will they be
taken care of.”
“No!” the scream was torn from Ron’s lips as he
began to struggle against his bonds again.
Harry’s chest constricted, and he fought down the helplessness that
threatened to overwhelm him.
But Malfoy just smiled. “Ah, yes, Mr. Weasley, please do scream. It makes it all so much more pleasant.”