The next day was filled with activity as final preparations were
made to the area beside the Burrow where the wedding and reception
would take place. Harry had no time to think about the events of the
previous night as he helped set up the last of the chairs and put final
touches on the decorations.
After lunch came the rehearsal. It
wasn't until the wedding party started lining up that Harry realized he
would be paired with Ginny for the ceremony. He considered backing out
but knew this would be very rude, and the last person he wanted to be
rude to at his own wedding was Bill. He sighed heavily before joining
Charlie behind the guests' chairs and waiting for instructions.
Bill had said, Harry's part was very easy. He would walk up the aisle
first behind the flower girl and ring bearer (children of the Weasleys'
relatives) with Ginny, then part and stand in his place on Bill's side
of the platform. There he would stand until the end of the ceremony,
where he and Ginny would join hands again and be the last down the
aisle. Ginny was her usual strong self, instructing Harry on which step
to take first, showing him where to stand and giving him a thumbs up
when they all finally got in place correctly on the third try. As they
practiced the exit off the stage, they realized the path to the
reception area was laid out a bit clumsily, and they all rushed to move
the tables into a brilliant arrangement suggested by Hermione, after
which they could walk around gracefully to the head table. It only took
one try to get this right, and Ron gave Hermione an extra long kiss as
a thank you.
At the rehearsal dinner, the families of the
bride and groom gave them presents. Harry felt ashamed he hadn't got
anything, but Ginny informed him she had bought them a present and put
his name on it. Harry thanked her but felt guilty that Ginny had spent
money for him. He would have to pay her back later.
night, Hermione and Ginny spirited Fleur away to some unknown location,
and Harry joined Ron, Bill and Charlie out by the reception tables.
They were enjoying the clear, warm summer air. Hermione had left behind
one of her famous fires in a jar which provided them ample light.
"That Hermione is really something," Charlie commented. "How did you ever end up landing a girl like that, Ron?"
Bill and Harry laughed, and Ron smiled, taking the cheek in stride. "I guess I was just in the right place at the right time."
"How did you two become friends?" Bill asked.
Harry and Ron looked at each other knowingly. "Well, you see, when we first met, we didn't get along at all."
"Yeah," Harry interrupted. "Ron and I were of the opinion she was a bit of a swot."
"Still is, come to that," Ron mused.
"True," Harry admitted, "but back then she was much less… tactful about it."
"Really?" Charlie asked.
Ron nodded. "Well, this one day, as we were walking back from Charms, and I made a comment about her. Loudly."
"Oh no, she heard you, didn't she?" Charlie asked.
"Did she ever," Harry said.
found out a little later that she was so upset she went up to the
girls' lavatory and cried," Ron explained. "She was still there when
Quirrell rushed in yelling about a troll in the dungeon, so Harry and I
broke out of line. We cornered the troll in a room only to find out
that it was the very lavatory Hermione was in."
"No way!" Bill said in shock.
we rushed in, and sure enough the troll was on her. Harry tried to stop
him, but the troll grabbed him and he managed to get his wand stuck up
Bill and Charlie both burst out laughing at this, and Harry couldn't help but chuckle.
then, near panic, I whip out my wand and cast the very same Levitation
Charm I had been having trouble with in class that day. I got the
troll's club in the air with it, and it came crashing down on its head,
knocking it out."
Bill and Charlie cheered at Ron, and Harry clapped.
"After that, Hermione started hanging out with us," Harry revealed.
"And it's a good thing, too," Ron added. "I don't know how we would have survived at school with out her."
"Isn't that the truth," Harry said.
"Ah, so Hermione is the smart one," Bill said.
Ron and Harry looked at each other before looking back and nodding.
Charlie took a deep breath and asked, "So what do you think, Ron? Is she a keeper?"
Ron's ears turned red. "Oh yes, definitely."
gave Ron a knowing smile, then turned to Harry. "How about you, Harry?
Found anyone you'd like to spend some quality time with?"
Harry struggled for a way to answer. "It's complicated."
realized Bill was looking at him strangely but he didn't comment.
Charlie glanced at Bill quickly before adding, "I hear that Gabrielle
girl has her eyes on you."
Harry fought his smile. "Well, I don't know anything about her."
"She's awfully attractive," Charlie said with a wicked grin.
Harry didn't know exactly Charlie was going, but he decided he didn't want to go there. "Like I said, it's complicated."
Charlie picked up the glass of Firewhiskey he had been sipping. "So there is someone," he said before he took a sip.
Now Bill was smiling too. Ron looked just as surprised as Harry was.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Rubbish," Charlie said immediately.
Harry was seriously shocked. The mood had changed so dramatically, yet Charlie had barely moved. Bill was watching him closely.
"We know about you and Ginny, Harry." Bill revealed finally.
Harry stood up and tried to turn to leave. "I really don't want to talk about it."
caught Harry and turned him around. "Look at me. I'm as disfigured as
any man can be in the face, and yet the most beautiful woman I have
ever set eyes on is marrying me tomorrow. Some people can see the good
in others regardless of what they've been through or what their future
may hold. Fleur is one of them. Ginny is another."
to break free but found Bill's grip to be to strong. "She doesn't
deserve to be abandoned when she needs you most, Harry."
"I'm not abandoning her," Harry said angrily.
"Harry, trust me, I know what you're going through, please sit down," Bill pleaded.
Harry wasn't about to deny Bill's request, though deep down he wished he could. He sat back down and crossed his arms.
"We've known for a long time that Ginny has been quite fond of you," Charlie said, "but lately we've realized just how fond."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked.
Bill and Charlie exchanged looks. "She forbade us from having this
conversation. We had to wait until she left before we could risk it,"
Harry blinked. "She forbade you?"
"Yes." Charlie said simply.
"Why?" Harry asked.
"Because she said you had made your decision, and she had accepted it, and that she didn't want anyone bothering you about it."
Harry thought about this. "So why didn't you honor her request?"
"Because it's stupid," Bill said.
Harry shrugged. "Then she must just feel the same way I do. She knows it's too dangerous to be around me and has accepted that."
Ron didn't move much, but Bill and Charlie looked very frustrated. "Sweet Merlin, Harry, that isn't it at all!" Charlie said.
"Ginny is trying to get everyone to abide by your wishes because she loves you, Harry!" Bill explained forcefully.
Harry looked between Bill and Charlie, not daring to say anything.
you imagine what this is doing to her?" Bill asked desperately. "She's
watching out for you, helping you out, being a supportive friend,
working in the background to make sure you are comfortable and taken
care of, yet she can't expect anything more than a thank you in return!
Do you realize how this is affecting her?"
Harry couldn't help but put himself in Ginny shoes. He found it very easy to do.
put his hand back on Harry's shoulder gently. "She's not going to break
her vow, Harry. She will not press you to resume the relationship.
You've got to do it. If you're willing."
"And trust me, Harry,
you'll have the full support and backing of the Weasley family, and
it's not just because she's our only sister," Charlie added. "You have
done more for this family than anyone else. You deserve to be happy,
and we can think of nobody we would rather see make our sister happy
Harry looked up. All three Weasley brothers were nodding their heads.
"I… I don't know what to say," Harry said humbly.
"Just say you'll think about it," Bill said.
Harry nodded. "I'll think about it."
* * *
day of the wedding dawned bright and clear. Harry ate breakfast with
the guys and returned to Ron's room to make sure his dress robes were
ready. After that he went outside and watched as the guests arrived,
but realized this was a mistake as soon as the first guest pointed at
him. He ducked back into the house and watched the guests arrive from
the safety of Ron's room hidden underneath his Invisibility Cloak. It
wasn't until Ginny called for him that he was informed that, as part of
the wedding party, he was expected to be out greeting the guests. He
sighed for more than one reason as Ginny dragged him outside to mingle.
Harry worked through the crowd, he discovered that Ginny was moving
with him. Wherever he headed, she followed, and whoever he greeted, she
greeted as well. Harry discovered that Gabrielle was doing the same
with Charlie, so he concluded this was just part of the way a wedding
As the time drew near, Harry realized the twins had arrived and they were showing the guests to their seats.
to go, Harry," Ginny said as she tugged on his arm. Harry nodded and
made his way with Ginny to the house, where they formed up inside.
wedding went by like a daydream for Harry. He went through the motions
of the wedding like he'd practiced, but as he stood on the platform
listening passively at the ceremony, he was looking at Ginny and
thinking about what Hermione and Bill and Charlie had said. He wondered
as he stood there how hard it must be for Ginny to be putting up such a
brave face while he was slowly going mad with grief.
realized then that he had admitted to himself, against all his thoughts
to the contrary, that he truly needed Ginny. The beast inside awoke
again, but he pushed it back down as he stood by his decision. He
wasn't going to see her get hurt on account of him.
moment, it seemed like Harry had been hit by another Bludger: If he was
so concerned about Ginny getting hurt, why was it that nobody else
seemed to be as concerned? He knew Ron, Charlie and Bill all loved her,
and Hermione was certainly good friends with her, but why we he the
only one so concerned about protecting her?
He knew the answer immediately: They don't love her like I love her. Sweet Merlin! I love her!
was pulled from his thoughts by cheers. Bill and Fleur were kissing,
and he knew this marked the end of the ceremony. As rehearsed, Harry
joined Ginny at the center of the platform and walked her back down the
aisle. He couldn't help stealing glances at her, and as they reached
the end of the aisle, Ginny caught him. He turned away quickly, trying
hard to keep the blush from surfacing.
Harry followed the rest
of the wedding party around and sat at the front table, Ginny at his
side. As soon as everyone was seated, the wedding party got up and
served themselves lunch, after which the guests did the same. All
through lunch Harry carefully stole glances at Ginny as he worked
through his thoughts, trying to sort out what he really wanted to do.
cake cutting ceremony was next. Bill cut a piece for Fleur and managed,
with no difficulty, to place it into her mouth without a single bit of
frosting touching her lips. Fleur, however, was not as agile, and ended
up deciding the best way to clean up the mess was to kiss it off of
Bill's face. As Harry watched this disgustingly cute scene, he glanced
at Ginny. There was no doubt that Ginny was watching him, only turning
away when he caught her. He watched her for a moment and, as he did,
noticed her graceful exterior persona crack. It was just for a moment,
but he saw it. He turned back to watch Bill and Fleur before the beast
made him do something rash.
As before, Harry and Ginny joined
Charlie and Gabrielle in the front of the line for cake. They sat back
down as everyone was served and, once everyone had a piece, began to
eat. Half way through his piece, Ginny nudged him.
"Did they tell you we're supposed to dance?"
Harry nearly dropped his fork. "No, they didn't."
and Fleur will dance first. About half-way through, they'll signal us
to join them. After that, the rest of the songs will be open dance. We
only have to dance the one time."
Harry thought he detected
another break in Ginny's guarded façade as she spoke this last bit. The
beast kicked him in the stomach. Harry ignored it and nodded.
soon as everyone was done with their cake, Fleur and Bill led Charlie,
Gabrielle, Harry and Ginny down to the area where the chairs had been
for the ceremony. The area was clear, and the platform had been
converted into a stage for sound system. The guests circled the area,
and Bill and Fleur walked out to the center. A romantic slow song
stated playing, and Bill led Fleur around the open area. They gazed
romantically into each other's eyes, and as they kissed for the first
time in the dance, Ginny's grip on Harry's arm tightened just slightly.
It was enough for Harry to get the message.
All too soon Bill
motioned for them to join in, and Harry led Ginny out a little ways
before turning to face her. He took one hand into his and put his arm
around her waist while she put her free hand on his shoulder in a
traditional dance fashion, and together they danced for all to see.
Harry forced himself to look into her eyes, wondering if she could
detect the conflict that was raging in his heart. After a minute Ginny
did something completely unexpected. Right in front of everybody, she
freed her hand from Harry's and placed both hands around his neck.
Harry knew what this was: he had witnessed this at the Yule Ball during
his fourth year. Not wanting to cause a scene, he put his free hand
around her waist. This, of course, allowed them to dance even closer,
and indeed Ginny did progressively allow herself to get closer to Harry
as the dance wound down and gazed ever so much deeper into his eyes.
When the song ended, Gabrielle gave Charlie an appreciative hug, Bill
gave Fleur a loving kiss, and Ginny pulled herself in and snuggled her
head into Harry's shoulder, gripping his neck tightly with her arms.
The beast roared at Harry to make his move.
his relief, the next song started, and a good number of the guests
moved onto the dance floor. Harry slowly led Ginny away towards the
house and, once out of the circle area, broke gently away from her.
"Ginny, I need to go into the house."
Ginny pulled back slowly. "Why?"
"I just need to… go…"
that he pulled himself free, made his way into the house, took the
stairs in threes and ducked into Ron's room, closing the door behind