The Sugar Quill
Author: Mrs Weasley (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Best Man  Chapter: Chapter One: Harry
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Summary: Eight years after leaving Hogwarts, Harry's friends assemble for his wedding, but, with old quarrels and new dangers surfacing, will the wedding take place as planned?

Disclaimer: These characters belong to JK Rowling, except for a couple I've added.

Author's Notes: I'm a bit out of practice at writing HP fanfic, Real Life has been too busy lately. If you have read my other stories "Sixth Year Showdowns", "The Gift", "The Siren and the Spy" or "My Friend Ron", (What? You haven't? Please do!) you will know that I lean towards R/H shippiness but I don't write slush. This story is an experiment - as you will see, different chapters are written from different characters' viewpoints. Harry first!

Part 1: Harry

Harry Potter couldn't help wondering if the Muggle inhabitants of Ottery St Catchpole had noticed any unusual activity in the last few days. He knew that men weren't supposed to understand these things, but he still couldn't believe the amount of preparation that seemed to be needed for a wedding. Or, at least, the sort of wedding Mrs. Weasley was organizing for them. So many people milling around - so many things to buy or conjure up - planning the food, the entertainment, the decorations, the clothes - there was just so much to do. Finding places in the village for the guests to stay overnight had been one headache, but luckily there were several friendly wizarding families who had known the Weasleys for years and were only too happy to help out.

But, with only two days to go, most of the planning was done and everyone was taking a breather and welcoming the arrival of the first guests. Harry thought, as he opened the garden gate of The Burrow and waited politely for Mrs. Weasley to go out first, that the best part of the whole business was going to be - well, OK, naturally the best part was the actually getting married part - but a close second was going to be the pleasure of seeing all his old friends together in one place for the first time in a very long time.

He didn't think they'd all been gathered like this since Hogwarts. Eight years. And it was six years, unbelievably, since he, Ron and Hermione had *all* been in the same place - not since The Big Break-Up, as Ginny still called it.

Not for the first time, Harry shook his head over that, as he followed Mrs. Weasley down the hill towards the village. She had suddenly decided that she needed some odds and ends from the shops before dinner, and Harry had politely offered to accompany her. Everyone else was busy with their own activities, and Harry had nothing in particular to do until Hermione arrived. She had sent an owl that morning to say she would set off from London at lunchtime, and expected to reach Ottery St Catchpole in the evening some time. He was looking forward to seeing her and catching up on all the news.

"I think if we get these things that will be everything we need for now," Mrs. Weasley mused as she re-read her shopping list. Harry was carrying her shopping basket, and had to slow down to keep pace with her. He was much taller and his stride was longer. Mrs. Weasley was chatting away to him as they got closer to the village, but Harry didn't hear much of what she said, as he became absorbed in his thoughts.

Harry's thoughts were preoccupied with his two best schoolfriends. He had been determined that both Ron and Hermione should come to the wedding, and Ginny had tried to reassure him that everything would be all right. "It's been six years," she had pointed out firmly. "They're not going to start throwing things at each other - anyway, Ron wouldn't dare - Mum would kill him if he ruined the wedding by causing a scene."

Harry supposed she was right. Anyway, both Ron and Hermione had cheerfully accepted their wedding invitations, so there hadn't been any difficulty so far. Hermione had even said that she was looking forward to seeing everyone, and Harry hoped that included Ron.

As he followed Mrs. Weasley from shop to shop, and waited patiently as she met friends and had long conversations with them, Harry thought back to the time when they had left Hogwarts, after the terrifying events of their seventh year had left them looking forward to a brighter future. Despite the loss of those who had died in that struggle against Voldemort's forces, those who survived had been determined to carry on. Ron had suggested that Harry should join him in training for Magical Law Enforcement. "You'd make a brilliant Enforcer," he had told Harry, but Harry had had enough of fighting and outwitting the forces of darkness for a while. The events of their final term had left him sickened and depressed, even though they had "won". He missed all those who were dead, especially Dumbledore, Hagrid, and most of all Sirius. He wanted to do something more peaceful, where he didn't have to make life and death choices. So he had accepted two offers - first, to play Quidditch for the Hogsmeade Hurricanes, and second, to write a Quidditch column for the "Daily Prophet". He thought he had been pretty successful with both his jobs, and he still enjoyed them.

Harry was roused from his thoughts by Mrs. Weasley's exclamation.

"My goodness! I didn't realise how late it was - I'm sorry Harry dear, I've been rattling on and if we don't hurry dinner will be late and we'll miss Hermione arriving. Come along!"

Harry grinned as he followed her.

As they climbed the hill and neared the gate of The Burrow, Mrs. Weasley said, "I'm looking forward so much to seeing Hermione. It seems like such a long time since she's been here - not since, well, since Bill -" Her voice tailed away for a moment, then she continued, forcing brightness back into her voice, "And she's done so well for herself!"

"Yes, she has," Harry agreed.

"It's a pity she and Ron never made up that quarrel - but I hope they'll be friendly this weekend, with the wedding and everything -"

"Don't worry, I'm sure everything will be all right."

Harry thought of the time he had spent six years ago trying to bring about a reconcilliation between his two friends, before giving up. Remus Lupin had said to him then, "People change, Harry. You're not kids any more. You can't bring people together if it's not what they want." And Harry had reluctantly agreed. Anyway, he still saw plenty of Ron, and Hermione fairly often too, until recently, when she had been so busy with her work. It was just that the three of them were never all together - but this weekend would be different, he hoped.

As Harry went into the house behind Mrs. Weasley, he was wondering if Ginny and Susan had returned yet, and whether he would just have time to finish his latest column and send it off by owl before dinner. It was the last one he was going to write before the start of the leave he had taken for the wedding and honeymoon. He was so busy thinking about these things that he did not notice he was being watched. Behind a nearby hedge, two figures were concealed, and as the door of The Burrow closed, a voice was saying -

"I told you. They're all so busy with the wedding, they'll never expect anything to happen. This is the perfect opportunity."

"Are you sure you know the timings?"

"Positive. Granger will be here tonight. And Weasley will be here tomorrow. I checked with my contact who's working for the caterers. There's a party tomorrow night, before the wedding. That will be our chance."

"I hope the plan will work - after all, it *is* Harry Potter we're dealing with -"

"Relax! I told you - he knows nothing about what's happening in Dark Arts circles these days. He's turned his back on saving the world since Black and the rest of them died. All he's interested in these days is Quidditch and his girlfriend. It's Weasley we've got to be careful about - he's an Enforcer, and could be suspicious of us."

"Yes, sir."

"By the time we've finished with them, Potter and his friends are going to wish they'd never come here."

//
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