There was no getting around it, Ginny decided as she watched her future sister-in-law bellowing directions to everyone around her; Fleur had totally flown off the handle with this whole wedding thing. Ginny swore to herself that if she ever got married she wouldn’t run around screeching at everybody not to touch the flowers and biting the head off of anyone who dared make a complaint. Ginny had learned the last bit the hard way; she had been trying on the (hideous) set of gold dress robes Fleur had chosen for her and her fellow bridesmaid, Fleur’s little sister Gabrielle, to wear for the wedding. Ginny had said one little thing – one tiny thing – that was something to the effect of “I look like a trophy,” and the next thing she knew Fleur had practically pinned her to the wall.
“You look gorgeous,” she had said, her voice low and deadly. “You look gorgeous and eet ees MY wedding so I will ‘ave you looking like a trophy eef I wish!”
Since then Ginny had reverted back to her old practice of calling the bride-to-be Phlegm, something that her mother took a great amount of offense to whenever she heard.
“Ginny, your brother couldn’t find a more perfect girl if he scoured the whole planet!” Mrs. Weasley would screech. “And the least you can do is pretend to be happy for him!”
Ginny gritted her teeth just thinking about it. Ever since the two women had shared that touching moment in the hospital wing after Bill had been attacked, Mrs. Weasley wouldn’t hear a word against her future daughter-in-law. Ginny had been impressed with Fleur’s loyalty as well, but still – she was quite possibly the most annoying person Ginny had ever met. Or at least in the top ten.
Ginny watched as Fleur, her silvery hair spinning out around her as she changed directions, turned her screeching onto poor Ron, who was distracted by her enough already.
“No, no, zat chair does not go zere, you must put eet on ze front row where we are three chairs short!” the quarter-veela yelled at him. She turned back to her two bridesmaids with an eye-roll. “’Onestly! Do I ‘ave to do everything myself?” she muttered under her breath as she studied their places on the steps of the gazebo that had been specially erected in the garden of the Burrow for the wedding. “Yes…I think zat zis is ze best place for you both. Gabrielle, you look much better on ze top step, eet is much more even zat way, so zat means zat you will come down ze aisle first – Ginny, are you paying attention?”
“What – er, yeah, Phle – Fleur,” Ginny said, jerking her eyes away from the spot where they automatically seemed to gravitate. Or, rather, from the person that they automatically seemed to gravitate.
She tuned Fleur out after a moment and returned to her favorite thing to do since school had ended: brooding. Brooding over the terrifying events that had marked the end of school, over the prospect of not going back for her sixth year at Hogwarts, over her short-lived relationship with Harry, and over the fact that he had broken up with her but still liked her. Or, at least, she thought he did.
Damn his nobility complex.
An impatient sigh escaped her lips, one that unfortunately did not escape the notice of the madwoman.
“Ginny? Iz zere somewhere else you would rather be just now?” she demanded, putting her hands on her slim hips.
“Er – no, Fleur. Sorry. No.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Ginny tried to look as though she were paying rapt attention and somehow made it through the rest of Fleur’s monologue. Then the bride-to-be called for attention.
“Eet iz time for ze practice run through!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands. Ginny and Gabrielle walked together down the aisle that had been made in between the rows of chairs to join the rest of the wedding party at the back. Ginny watched with a smirk as Gabrielle’s eyes fastened on the very same person she had just been thinking about; Gabrielle‘s pretty little face turned into one of intense longing. She had taken to following Harry around whenever she could but she never said very much to him, only blushed scarlet whenever he spoke to her. She reminded Ginny of herself around Harry only a few years before.
Bill took his place at the altar, smiling as though he really was about to be married. He looked blissfully at his bride as she commanded the family members not involved in the wedding to sit down. Ginny watched as Harry, Ron, and Hermione, along with Fred, George, and Mrs. Weasley, sat down in the chairs that they had just finished arranging. Mrs. Delacour and Fleur’s grandmother, who was a full-blooded Veela, took seats nearby as well. Ginny was amazed that, even though Mrs. Beauchamp was well over the age of seventy, she still managed to be blindingly beautiful.
Gabrielle turned her attention away from Harry reluctantly and took her place in front of Ginny on Charlie’s arm. Mr. Weasley arrived next to his only daughter and managed to smile wearily down at her.
“Hi, Dad,” she said as she took his arm. She really was very worried about him; she thought his job at the Ministry was taking up way too much time. She felt like she never saw him anymore.
“No talking!” Fleur bellowed from directly behind Ginny, who winced.
The rehearsal went as well as could be expected, with the ancient minister, who had been marrying Weasleys for generations, feebly guiding everyone through the wedding. At the end, when the minister said, “And then I shall say, ‘You may now kiss the bride’”, Bill and Fleur performed a passionate example of what they would do tomorrow when they were married. Ginny thought the old minister was going to have a heart attack and wished she was in Gabrielle’s spot so she could catch him if need be.
Mrs. Weasley then wiped her eyes and took charge. She directed everyone to the long table that had been set up a little ways beyond the gazebo and enlisted the help of the Harry, Ron, and Hermione to bring the food outside.
Ginny watched with a moody sigh as the trio headed inside the house. Harry had been at the Burrow for nearly a week and they hadn’t once spoken about their state of affairs. If Ginny didn’t know better, she would say he was avoiding her. He was perfectly friendly and they joked and carried on as they used to, but there was definitely distance between them. Of course, Ginny had expected that, even with a breakup as relatively painless as theirs had been. But they were in a war, and there shouldn’t have been as much distance as he was currently setting between them. It wasn’t as though she hadn’t been prepared – she had expected this breakup ever since they had started going out, after all – but she hadn’t thought he would erect a bloody wall between them. Hermione said he was probably trying to make himself not like her, which in Ginny’s opinion was a ridiculous and futile exercise; you couldn’t just stop yourself from liking someone. Ginny should know; she’d tried it for five years and had been quite unsuccessful.
She wouldn’t lie to herself; sometimes in her weaker moments Ginny wanted to scream and rage at him and try to get it through his thick skull that he was being ridiculous to think that by stopping their relationship she wouldn’t be a target for Voldemort. She was a Weasley, for heaven’s sake! They were all targets!
But then, she knew that he needed her compassion, not her yelling. No matter how much of a dunghead she thought he was, she needed to stand by him and encourage him through it all. Show him that she was there for him if he needed her, in an entirely unromantic sense. She needed to be supportive. Platonically supportive.
The problem was, she just didn’t know how to express to him that she still liked him and would wait for him to finish this whole nasty business with Voldemort. And she couldn’t even try to tell him if he insisted on keeping the wall that had sprung up between them.
She was waylaid by Fred and George, who were trying to convince her to take one potion or another (as if she hadn’t lived with them for the past sixteen years), before she saw Harry, Ron, and Hermione coming out from the house. Hermione and Ron were floating dishes in front of themselves; Harry, who wouldn’t be of age for another four days, was carrying a tureen of something delicious-looking. After waving off the twins, Ginny strode across the lawn and stopped directly in front of Harry.
“Want me to help you?”
He glanced up at her. “Thanks, Ginny, but I think I can manage.”
Ginny clenched her jaw as she turned around and watched him place the tureen on the table. Hermione stopped beside Ginny and directed her own pot onto the table with her wand. She wore a sunny smile on her face.
Ginny turned to her friend with a frown. “Why are you so happy?”
Her smile only got wider. Ginny followed her gaze and realized her eyes were pinned on Ron. “Because the mist has evaporated, at least for today, and it’s beautiful, and we’re all here,” she said with a sigh.
Ginny gaped at her. “You kissed my brother,” she accused.
Hermione turned pink and looked at her. “Well, almost. Not yet.”
“Well, good for you, Hermione. At least someone’s getting some action around here.”
“I’m only joking,” Ginny said hastily. Not.
Unfortunately, the mist that signaled the breeding of the dementors returned in full force the next day, much to Fleur’s annoyance. She pouted for most of the morning before Mrs. Weasley told her that when she had been married it had been misty outside, and it had been rather romantic. Fleur brightened immediately.
“You agree, Ginny, ‘Ermione? Eet adds an extra – ‘ow you say – somezing, don’t you think?”
Hermione and Ginny promptly agreed. “Whatever you say, Phlegm,” Ginny muttered to herself after leaving the kitchen, a slice of bacon in hand. She trooped up the stairs to her bedroom just as Harry and Ron were coming down from Ron’s room. Ginny narrowly missed colliding with Harry.
“Sorry, Ginny, I wasn’t watching where I was going,” he said, blushing faintly. His voice was scratchy from sleep. He dropped his eyes and made to step around her.
Ginny clenched her jaw. This was just ridiculous. “Can I