"Well, I think I'll go with the 'antique parchment'
They're very nice." Hermione said, flipping closed a sample book at
a wizard's stationary shop in Mugwarp Alley. Despite its rather
name, the small cobbled street was just the place to look for
to do with anniversaries and weddings, and celebrations of all
"That's a wonderful choice, madam." The clerk behind
desk told her, putting the book back under the counter, "They'll
lovely invitations. May I ask how many you'll be
"Goodness!" Hermione thought for a moment, "We'll
at least two hundred. All of Ron's family, all of my family, Harry,
our friends and old teachers
it'll be packed."
The clerk smiled and with a wave of his wand said
invitations 20784, one case." A box came zooming out of the back
and Hermione jumped back as it landed on the counter in front of
"You take these," He said pushing them at her, "And
them out and address them. Then, bring them back and we'll send them
for you- no charge." He gestured to a wall covered with owls of all
and sizes on perches. It reminded Hermione of the Hogsmeade post
"Thanks, we'll do that. How much do I owe you?"
"Nineteen galleons and three sickles." He said and
pulled out her purse.
"Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for lunch with my
of honor. Good bye!" She called as she backed up against the door
pushed it open while holding the case of invitations. She hurried
doors down from Habadasheere's to the Rainbow Owl, the sidewalk
where she was meeting Ginny for lunch. Hermione found her already
at an outdoor table, perusing a menu and sipping a goblet of iced
juice, which was turning her lips, the same color as her hair.
"Hey Gin. Sorry I'm late." Hermione said, plopping
in the chair across from her.
"No problem. I was a little late myself- What?"
had stifled a giggle at the sight of Ginny's lips- they were really
"Um, Ginny? What have you been drinking?"
"Well, your lips
" she trailed off with another
Ginny whipped out a compact mirror from her purse,
damn! It's this stupid muggle lipstick. It makes my lips really
to color changes, but it's cute, don't you think?"
"Well, if I could see it under the orange hue, I'm
I would, but as it is
you might want to stick to wizard
Ginny sighed, "You're probably right. I just saw it
a store in Paris the other day and thought, Why not?" She picked up
napkin and wiped off the lipstick, taking the orange along with it
in time, the waiter came to take their orders at that
"There. Now, how are the wedding plans
"Oh, there's a story." Hermione groaned, "It's two
away and today the first thing went right: the
"That's good." Said Ginny optimistically.
"Not when everything else has gone wrong, it
"Yes, 'oh'. We have to find somewhere big enough to
all the guests- and there will be a lot of guests, believe me. The
location would be Penny and Percy's yard, but that's such an
on them, what with the new baby and all."
"You know, Hermione, I really don't think it would
I was a little late because I was visiting Penny. You know Percy
back to work two weeks ago, and I think she misses adult company.
going a little stir-crazy. It would be great for her to have
to organize- to occupy her time."
"You really think so?" Ginny nodded, "Okay, I'll
it to her. How was little Noah?"
"Adorable as ever. He's such a good baby; barely
at all. Of course Mum's still miffed about the name. Molly was named
her you know, and Claire after Penelope's mum. Devon was just a name
liked, but fortunately for them, mum liked it, too. This time they
less lucky. I don't see what's wrong with it. It's pretty cute- I
Hermione nodded, "Well, she'll get used to it. The
aren't my only problem, either. I have you designing my dress- God
you- but we've got to get you and the bridesmaids dresses. I'm not
to make you design all of them."
"You know I wouldn't mind-" Ginny began, as the
returned and set their food before them, but Hermione cut her
"I know you wouldn't mind because you're a sweet
but you're also an internationally famous designer, who is very
whether you'll admit it or not."
"Okay, okay!" Ginny laughed, "Well that's what we're
"Yes. This afternoon I also have to ask Celestina
if she'll sing with a back-up group for the reception. She's a
to the Prophet, you know. I'm sure she'll agree- she's such a
person. Then, tonight I have to go to about five different
with you and Harry and Ron, when they get off work to decide who
cater it. Then I might actually get to go home and get some sleep.
course, then I'll wake up and
"Stop! Stop!" Ginny cried, throwing up her hands and
"I get the point: if I ever decide to get married, I'll
Hermione grinned, "Exactly. Speaking of your love
"Honestly? Confusing. We seem to click really well
get on perfectly. Most of the time he's wonderful, but then, every
in awhile, he shuts down, emotionally I mean." Hermione
"Yeah, I think Harry has almost two different
I've seen him with girlfriends, and then I've seen him with Ron and
With them, he's 'The Harry Potter'- the boy who lived- famous
and Quidditch player for England- hero extrodinaire; with us,
just Harry. He keeps his emotions involved in the just Harry
it's easier for him not to get too emotionally involved with who he
He's been through a lot, and then there's less at stake when
goes wrong. You're different, though, because you were Ron's sister
Harry's friend before you were his girlfriend, so you've seen the
Harry, but now you're dating 'The Harry Potter'."
"Exactly. That pretty much sums it up, but what do I
"Give him time. Be patient. Harry already knows
different from the others; he just hasn't figured out how to deal
that yet. He will, though, eventually." Ginny nodded, scraping up
last bit of salad.
"Yeah." Hermione answered, scooping up one last
of soup and leaving the waiter money for the bill and the tip. "I'll
since you're about to buy a dress for my wedding."
"Deal." Ginny said, smiling and picking up her
"Let's go." And they headed over to Regina's Regal Robes for Special
Once she had stepped inside, Hermione had trouble
The air was heavily perfumed with potpourri that reminded her of
Trelawney's classroom at Hogwarts. Everywhere she looked was pink,
"I definitely prefer Madam Malkin's." Ginny
"Yes, but you don't get this lovely aroma there."
replied, wrinkling her nose, "What is that 'eau de Divination'?"
laughed as a tall, thin woman, with purpleish-red hair swanned over
"Hello, dahlings!" she said in an over exaggerated
"I am Regina Ratcliffe. Welcome to my emporium."
Emporium? Hermione thought. What planet does this
live on? "Er, Hello. I called and made an appointment. I'm Hermione
it's under Granger/Weasley wedding I believe."
"Yes, of course! Weasley? The groom isn't related to
Virginia Weasley of 'Robes by Virginia' is he? I simply adore her
"Actually, he's my brother." Ginny said, sticking
her hand, "Virginia Weasley. Pleased to meet you Ms.
The woman looked like she was about to faint from
"Oh my! Could you sign my guestbook, please? And we've got to take a
She shoved a Polaroid camera into Hermione's hands and rushed around
counter, wrapping her arm around a horrified looking Ginny's
After Hermione had dutifully taken the picture and was examining her
the tiny Ginny seemed to be putting up a great deal of resistance to
hugged by Regina Ratcliffe- Ginny found herself with a gaudy peacock
quill in her hand, signing the woman's guestbook. After that ordeal,
finally got to go back and look at dresses. Hermione's bridesmaids
going to be Ginny as maid of honor, her muggle cousin Lila, and
Smith, a member of Ron's M.L.E.S. squad who Hermione had gotten
to in the months following their capture of the would-be-deatheater
Nott. Unfortunately they all had very different coloring. Ginny,
her long red hair, brown eyes, and creamy skin dusted with freckles
be the hardest to match with the other two. Lila had short blond
cut into a pixy style, sky blue eyes, and clear, milky skin; and
the most exotic of the three, came from the West Indies, with
length, thick black hair, dark eyes, and honey colored skin.
knew that finding a color dress that would suit them all might be
but that's what she'd brought Ginny along for. What good were
designer/maid of honors if they weren't consultants as well?
Ginny seemed to be in more of a joking than consulting mood. She
up from behind a rack holding quite possibly the ugliest dress
had ever seen. It was knee length, and orange with a fitted bodice
skirt, the waist accented by a double ruffle around the midriff. The
were short and puffy, made of a synthetic gauzy material and the
was topped off by a huge, gaudy bow.
"How about this?" Ginny suggested, a mischievous
on her face very reminiscent of her twin brothers. Hermione was
to make a comment about Ginny's taste in bridesmaids dresses being
to ruffley janitor's uniforms, but Regina Ratcliffe flounced up,
Ginny holding the dress and said, "Oh, yes! That's one of my
The bemused look on Hermione's face was quickly replaced by one of
mirroring Ginny's own.
"Ummmm. I really don't think that's Lila's color."
said, by way of a quick save, "Sorry Gin."
"Oh, it's no problem. I forget that I don't know all
bridesmaids, sometimes." Ginny said, hastily putting the dress back
the rack. Regina's face fell for a moment and then she perked up
"Well, of course we have to make sure all of your bridesmaids look
not just a few."
Hermione nodded vigorously, trying to lead the shop
away from the rack with the orange dress on it. "Of course. I really
She flailed her hand behind her and felt it connect with a plastic
and soft, silky material. 'Oh God, Ginny, if this is hideous I'll
forgive you!' She thought as she slowly brought the dress out
herself and Regina Ratcliffe. To her surprise and delight, Ginny
through. The garment that hung in front of her was of the palest
The high empire waistline was accompanied without a neckline. It was
straight under the arms and across the chest, held up by thin
straps. "This one!" she finished with real enthusiasm this time.
was nodding with approvement, and Ginny suddenly appeared behind her
a wink at Hermione that seemed to say 'Now maybe we'll make it out
here alive!'. Hermione grinned back at her and said, "We'll take
A size two, a six, and an eight. Right Ginny?" Ginny bobbed her head
"Yes, and now we really must be going." She said in
most haughty, professional voice, which she usually reserved for
clients and difficult retailers. "You know, important people see,
" She trailed off with a pointed, almost conspiratorial
at Regina, that, though Ginny and Hermione both knew meant nothing,
also both realized that Regina would interpret it as camaraderie,
"Well, of course dear. A famous designer like
must have numerous important appointments to see to
" She was
fishing for information, as Hermione shoved the appropriate amount
galleons into her outstretched hand. Ginny tried to look pained and
at the same time.
"Yes," she nodded solemnly, "as soon as I leave
I have to take my owl to have her talons trimmed. They're getting
long." And trying not to burst out laughing at the shocked
on Regina's face, she grabbed Hermione's hand and pulled her out the
where they both doubled over in hysterics.
"Ginny! That was awful! What will she think of us
"Well, certainly no less than we think of her- I
think that's possible. Besides, since when do you care so much what
think of you? You never used to."
I really don't know." Hermione said,
"I suppose it was after Ron and I broke up the last time. During
last fight we both said some pretty awful things, one of which
'I don't know what I ever saw in you- can't imagine why I ever liked
"Oh, 'Mione." Ginny said sympathetically.
So, maybe I'm just way too sensitive, but it kind of
with me the whole time we were apart. I figured that if everyone
liked me, it'd cancel out what Ron, said; what he felt, what I
"Oh, no. My idiot brother!" Ginny said
"Well, I guess I just got used to sucking up to
and caring what they thought. The habit stuck."
"Ooooh! I'm gonna scream at Ron the next time I see
Have you talked to him about this?" Hermione shook her head. "That
one habit we're going to break you of before the wedding. But you
should talk to Ron- I think he needs to know this." Hermione just
"He didn't mean it. It was in the heat of the
and I said some stuff to him that was just as stupid."
"Yeah, but Ron's not nearly as sensitive as you
"Really? Most people see him as the sensitive
"Most people aren't me, and most people don't know
two as well as I do. In fact, the only person I can think of that
is Harry. Ron is more outwardly sensitive to the rest of the world-
like Malfoy are able to anger him really easily, but it never lasts
You only let the people you really care about hurt you, but when
do, you carry the pain around like baggage. The only way you can fix
is to talk to him about it."
"You're probably right, but it's so hard." Hermione
"I think you missed your calling as a wizard-therapist."
Ginny laughed, "Oh, but if I'd gone into therapy you
be stuck with that horrible orange dress!" And they both dissolved
* * *
"So, the big day's coming up, huh?" Delia Smith
into her boss, Ron Weasley's, office.
"Yeah, in just about two months, and Hermione's
out, but that's nothing compared to my mum. She's already asking us
names we're considering for kids! Like she doesn't have enough
already; she just got a new one! But that's another story, What's up
"Well I was just wondering if I should go buy a
for your wedding present
" She grinned at him.
"Ha ha. Very funny. Now, seriously, what is
"I want to know what to get Hermione for her shower.
in two weeks you know."
"Umm-hmm." Ron murmured, "You know, Dee. I'm no good
stuff like this. You might want to ask Ginny- she'd
"Yeah, but that's my other problem: I feel kind of
out. I mean, I'm really just a casual acquaintance of Hermione's,
I've only met Ginny once, and Lila not at all."
"You're not just a casual acquaintance of mine, or
You may not have known her long, but she'd never ask you to be in
wedding if she didn't want you there. As for Ginny- well, she's
ever in town long enough to be met, let alone to get to know
but you'll love her; I do. Lila I've only met a few times myself:
at the train station when she came to pick up Hermione with her
Harry and I both met her then; once at our graduation, but only
because she left soon after the ceremony, and once at her older
wedding, where I was Hermione's date. She seems quite nice, though,
my father's absolutely thrilled that there's going to be a muggle in
wedding. Neither Percy or Bill had any muggle friends, and their
are both purebloods, too, so Hermione will be the first muggle born
the family. Of, course, Dad would be even happier if I just married
muggle outright, but since I don't know any, he's quite pleased with
Why am I going on like this? I suggest you owl Ginny and ask her
about the gift: she'll have some great idea, I'm sure."
"Who'll have a great idea about what?" A tall man
black hair and bright green eyes leaned casually in the door jam,
Ron and Delia. "Hi. I don't believe we've met. Harry Potter." He
sticking out his hand to Delia.
"I know, and no, we haven't. Delia Smith." She shook
hand and smiled slightly, because it didn't seem to have occurred to
Potter that he'd need no introduction. Ron, however, used to the
of reactions Harry got, ignored this and said, "Harry might be able
help you, Dee." He turned to Harry, "Dee was just asking me what to
'Mione for her shower. I referred her to Gin, but if you have any
"Well, Harry stroked his chin in mock concentration,
about a nice book? Her copy of Hogwarts, A History must be
pretty worn out by now
" Ron began to laugh, and Delia looked
"Inside joke." Harry explained between snickers.
Delia just raised her eyebrows and said, "I think
ask Ginny. Not that you two haven't been very helpful." She
sarcastically and headed out as the two men in the office began to
"Don't think she liked me much." Harry observed,
"Nah. I think you just surprised her. You know, not
"Well, I'll try harder next time. Maybe I could wear
cape with 'HP' on it. That'd be a nice touch."
As they both chuckled again Ron asked, "So, why are
here, Harry? Surely not just to make bad jokes." Harry's face turned
at the question.
"No, I was actually wondering if you guys at M.L.E.S
gotten anything like this recently." He tossed a piece of parchment
on Ron's desk. "This is the second that's come to the Academy." He
to the Auror's Academy- it housed all the offices of Aurors and all
in training. Ron's eyes widened as he unfolded the parchment and
the message that had been clipped and pasted on it:
Ron looked up at Harry, his eyes wide with shock and
Who could be threatening their old mentor and Professor?