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19 Years by marauder5
Chapter 22: Year 3: George and Angelina's wedding
Harry appeared out of thin air on the gravel road that led from Ottery St. Catchpole to the Burrow – the muffled pop that followed his apparition still rang in the warm summer air when he stumbled forwards and struggled to regain his balance. The last month had been hot, and so the grass on the fields that flanked the road was not entirely green, as it had been the last time he had been there. Instead, a shade somewhere between yellow and brown took up each corner of Harry’s visual field as he turned in the right direction and began walking.
He heard it before he saw it – further down the road, a group of trees had been strategically planted to keep wandering villagers from seeing too much of the Burrow, and so he could not yet see the crooked house that filled his heart with such a mixture of feeling nowadays – it was such a strong reminder of happiness, it awoke such yearning inside of him while simultaneously adding to the bitterness that had grown in him ever since the day he had sat in the living room of that house, trying to convince Ginny that his love for her was in fact real.
The sounds of voices and laughter, like an intensified version of the sounds in his happy memories of the place, floated together into a blur that stretched past the formation of trees. Music was playing, glasses tinkling and hands clapping – Harry cast a glance on his watch, but no, he wasn’t late. The wedding hadn’t started yet, but perhaps the early guests hadn’t been patient enough hold off the celebration.
The road curved, and the Burrow appeared before his eyes, like a shabbier, much more slanting version of castle. In the same moment that he set foot on the courtyard, the door was flung open and an old friend stuck her head out, smiling widely at the sight of him.
“Harry!” she said. “I thought you’d never come!”
It was Alicia Spinnet, his old teammate from the days when he had played for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. She was wearing a pink dress in some soft, light material (knowing Angelina, Harry was sure that it was Mrs Weasley who had picked it out), and she looked absolutely stunning.
“Alicia!” Harry said. “Wow, I don’t think that I’ve seen you since…”
“… since the first anniversary,” Alicia completed his sentence. “And now we’re going to walk down the aisle together – we’ve been paired up in the bridal train.”
She grinned and Harry laughed. Then he said:
“Well, it’s nice to know that there will be at least one friendly face up there.”
They stepped inside, into a living room that was busier than ever. There were people everywhere, running up and down the stairs, in and out of the kitchen, carrying things, waving their wands at things, cleaning things – Mr Weasley was nervously casting glances over his shoulder while swabbing the window, as if he was scared that his wife would realize that he had missed a spot while cleaning it the day before. His wife, however, was too busy crawling on the floor, trying to find a lost earring, to pay him any attention. A dark-skinned woman with long, black hair divided into a hundred little braids on her head, who could only be Angelina’s mother, was pointing her wand at a veil to make it soar, a few inches above the ground, up the stairs without getting soiled. Harry smiled at Percy, who was talking to someone on the other side of the room, and turned to Alicia again.
“Things are a bit chaotic, aren’t they?”
Alicia laughed. “Yes. I went upstairs to check on Angie a few minutes ago – she’s about to break down, because she’s so stressed. Look – at least Ginny is finally here.”
She nodded at the window, and while his heart took a small leap inside his chest, Harry turned his head to look through it. There she was – walking across the courtyard, wearing a dress identical to the one that Alicia had on. The wind was playing in her long, red hair, and Harry simply couldn’t tear his eyes away from her.
Someone said: “Ginny’s here!” and in the next moment, Mrs Weasley had abandoned her search and rushed over to the door to open it. “Finally!” she said as her daughter stepped inside, “we thought you had forgotten.”
Ginny smiled and shook her head. While she turned to the side to say hello to Katie Bell and Lee Jordan, Mrs Weasley spotted her husband, who was still working on the stain on the window, his ears red and drops of sweat rimming his hairline like a string of tiny little pearls. Her eyes narrowed, but after casting a glance on her watch, she seemed to decide that she had no time to yell at him, and so she rushed into the other room instead.
Meanwhile, Ginny laughed at something Lee had just said, and then her eyes swept across the room and accidentally paused on Harry’s face. Her smiled died out; for a few seconds, they were just staring at each other. Then, she nodded shortly and turned her back on him.
“So, you don’t talk at all anymore?” asked Alicia, who had apparently seen their barely perceptible greeting. “I mean, Angelina has told me about your breakup, but…”
“I think she hates me,” Harry answered, clenching his jaws together. Suddenly, he couldn’t remember why he had agreed to come at all. If he had thought that not seeing Ginny was bad, it was nothing compared to this: to seeing her, but not being able to talk to her. Nothing could be as bad as standing so close to her and yet not being in the same world.
“You’d think she would have let it go by now,” Alicia muttered under her breath, and a wrinkle took form on Harry’s forehead. Hadn’t she always liked Ginny?
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“You know, now that she’s moved on,” Alicia said. “Now that she’s with Oliver.”
Harry could have sworn that his heart stopped, that the blood froze in his veins and that every organ in his body shut down; if only for a short moment, he died right there on the spot. “Oliver? Oliver Wood?” he cawed.
As the realization sank in, his body began to spring back to life – his hands started shaking, and he had to lean against the bureau behind him to make sure he wouldn’t fall. He closed his eyes. Don’t even think it, because it can’t be true.
Alicia’s hands were all the confirmation he needed, though, as he watched them fly up to her mouth; neither her gasp nor the words that followed were really necessary, because he had understood already.
“Oh, Harry! I thought you knew!”
She placed a hand on his shoulder, but he barely felt it. He was too busy falling apart.
Now that she’s moved on.
Ginny had moved on. She was with someone else now. Suddenly, Harry was gripped by a strong urge to push the bureau over, to throw the vase that stood on it to the floor and watch it break into tiny pieces; he wanted to run out, find Oliver and rip him apart, and at the same time, he wanted to just go home.
The image of Ginny and Oliver at St. Mungo’s appeared before Harry’s eyes – they were sitting an appropriate amount of inches apart and Oliver was tapping his fingers against his knee. Ginny’s eyes were fixed on them, as if the inconsistent pattern of soft thuds was the most fascinating thing she had ever seen. Another image replaced the first one: this one wasn’t real, but simply a product of Harry’s imagination. And yet, it was the worst one he could have seen: Oliver’s hands around Ginny’s waist, her head against his chest, their lips…
“I can’t stay,” Harry whispered. “I can’t do it.”
"Harry!" Suddenly, Alicia had gone from sympathizing to annoyed. "Get yourself together, and don't even think about ruining this day for George and Angelina. You knew that Ginny would be here, and if it's too much, you shouldn't have agreed to come in the first place. But it's too late to back out now!"
Harry knew that she was right. He hadn't been invited for Ginny's sake, and he shouldn't have come for her sake either; he was there for his friends, for George and Angelina, and they counted on him. Excusing himself, he scurried over to the bathroom, passing Ginny and the others with his gaze determinedly fixed on the floor. Once inside, he straightened up and took in his own reflection in the small, cracked mirror that hung above the washbasin. Get yourself together, he inwardly told the black-haired boy, whose face was, just like the mirror, full of little cracks; it was as if this reflection showed his true self - his broken self. It's too late to back out now.
It was about to begin. However, beginning was made difficult by a group of gnomes, who had seized the opportunity to form a choir. They were now standing on the middle of the lawn, bawling their hearts out, much to the dismay of the band, who constantly had to start over in their attempts to begin playing. The singing – if that was the right word, Ginny thought, since the high-pitched voices were painful, more than anything else, to listen to – could be heard all the way into the house, where the bridal train was waiting to join George at the altar.
Peeking out the window, Ginny could see her mother yelling at her father for not clearing the garden of gnomes before the wedding (of course, the yelling would probably have been a lot more intense if she had known that he often sneaked food into his pockets at dinner and fed it to them when he got the chance, which was one of the main reasons why the gnomes refused to leave the Burrow). George, however, was only laughing and clapping his hands each time the little creatures began a new song.
Finally, after getting half of the guests involved in chasing the gnomes away, Mr and Mrs Weasley sat down, and the music could begin. Ron reached out his arm towards Ginny with a smile on his face and said:
She grabbed his arm, and then they walked out the door. The sun was perfect, Ginny thought as they made their way to the aisle and the awaiting guests - not too warm, but just enough to keep her bare legs from freezing. She smiled at George as they reached the end of the aisle, and he smiled nervously back at her before saying something to the little wizard who had been the officiant for Bill's wedding and Dumbledore’s funeral, and who had offered his services for today as well. The little man blushed and chuckled, and Ginny rolled her eyes before letting them wander towards the crowd of people. Neville Longbottom winked at her, and Professor McGonnagall bent her head down with a faint smile on her lips. Charlie gave them the thumbs up as they reached the front row, and Mrs Weasley let out a sob. Once again, Ginny rolled her eyes - the wedding had barely started, but of course her mother was already crying! As they reached the altar, Ron and Ginny let go of each other. Ron went to stand on George's right side, while Ginny stopped on the little wizard's left. She caught Oliver's eyes just as Lee Jordan and Katie Bell began walking down the aisle. His smile was warm, and he looked absolutely impeccable in his newly bought dress robes.
Ginny's heart did not take a leap, however, until Harry and Alicia appeared at the other end of the aisle. Harry's clumsy way of grabbing Alicia's arm stirred up a fluttering in her abdominal area, and as they began walking, Ginny explored his face, each familiar feature, with hunger - she took in the shape of the scar on his forehead, his nose, his lips, the greenness of his eyes... Eyes that refused to meet hers. Eyes that carefully avoided as much as glancing at the spot where she stood, that were directed to the left instead, to a certain broad-shouldered, brown-haired young man named Oliver.
It was as if an electric shock ran through Ginny's body from the moment she knew that Harry knew. Someone had told him, and now, he couldn't help but stare at his old Quidditch Captain, as if just the sight of him would be some sort of explanation. Ginny wanted to leave her place at the altar, take Harry's arm in Alicia's place, and whisper to him that it wasn't true. "He's not my boyfriend," she wanted to tell him. "They're lying."
Because truth was, Ginny hadn't wanted him to know. She realized how stupid it was, since it had been her choice to bring Oliver as her date, but now that the moment was there, she regretted it. If Harry knew, then it was real. That was the line, the mark that said that there would be a new name next to hers in all sentences now: When will Ginny and Oliver get here? Did you invite Ginny and Oliver? Guess who I ran into this morning - Ginny and Oliver!
The soft melody of the harp faded into the traditional wedding march, and Ginny tore her eyes away from Harry, who had taken his place next to Lee, and turned her head to look at the bride. Angelina was stunning, wearing a white dress that appeared to be shimmer in the sunlight. Her hair was pulled into a fantastic hairdo that brought out all of her best features, and she was clinging to her father's arm as they walked together towards the altar, where George and the others were waiting. Ginny glanced to her left to look at George, and she was filled with warmth when she saw the look on his face. It was radiating love and happiness; he appeared to find it impossible to take his eyes off of his bride. Ginny couldn't remember seeing him so genuinely happy since Fred's death, and it was such a comfort to see that it hadn't gone away for good.
Never in her life would Ginny have guessed that George would be the next Weasley sibling to get married after Bill; in fact, up until recently she would have been prepared to bet a fair amount of Galleons that he would be the last. But in that moment, it was clear to her why he was the first - Angelina brought out that happiness in him again. Making a mental note to thank her new sister-in-law for pulling George back to his feet, Ginny smiled as Mr Johnson placed his daughter's hand in George's and the guests took their seats.
"Friends and family," said the little wizard as the bridal couple turned towards him. "We have gathered to witness the uniting of this young couple, the confirmation of a lifelong bond of love between George Gideon Weasley and Angelina Ruth Johnson..."
After the ceremony, the guests had gathered in the giant party tent behind the house (a recycling of sorts from Bill and Fleur's wedding three years earlier). The music was loud and the dance floor was full of a bunch of already tipsy guests, most of which were red-haired, of course. Hermione, who was sitting at a table next to Charlie and Hagrid, kept herself entertained by watching them dance, since her companions' conversation about dragons failed to do it. She laughed at the sight of Mr Weasley, who was swinging around with little Victoire in his arms. His granddaughter giggled delightedly as he jumped around, completely out of sync with the music, of course. A few yards away from them were the newlyweds, doing some sort of ridiculous dance routine, much to the joy of those around. They were such a great couple, Hermione thought just as someone grabbed her hand and nearly gave her a heart attack.
"May I have this dance?" Harry asked, and then he pulled her to her feet without waiting for a response. They made their way to the dance floor and joined the others.
"So," Harry said after a couple of minutes in silence. "You could have given me a heads up. About Ginny and Wood."
"I didn't hear about it until this morning!" Hermione said. "She has been very secretive and… Oh, Harry, I'm so sorry! You must feel terrible!"
"Yes," Harry said, glancing at his former girlfriend, who was in the middle of wrapping her arms around Oliver's neck as the music slowed down. "But it's not like she would take me back anyway, right? Is she... is she happy with him?"
"I really don't know," said Hermione truthfully as she tried to interpret her friend's facial expression. "Like I said, she hasn't been talking about him at all. I might be wrong, but I think that's a sign that things aren't too serious. At least she's not crazy about him to the point where she can't talk about anything else, right?"
"I don't know," Harry mumbled. His green eyes glistened in the light of the floating lanterns that were scattered all across the dance floor. "I hope that he makes her happy."
The song ended, and since he spotted Ron heading in their direction, Harry decided to give up on dancing and walked over to Neville, who sat at one of the table, entertaining Teddy by pointing his wand at the centrepieces and making them dance around on the tablecloth.
"Harry!" exclaimed the little boy happily at the sight of his godfather. "Look! They dancing!"
He clapped his hands when two little twigs jumped out of the bouquets and began doing pirouettes and Harry smiled as he sat down next to him.
"I heard about Ginny and Oliver Wood," Neville said while continuing to wave his wand. "If it makes you feel any better, you're not alone in your misery. I wrote to Luna, you know, to see if she was coming to the wedding. Her father is here, as you may have noticed." He nodded towards Xenophilius Lovegood, who was spinning around on the dance floor with one of Angelina's tall, dark-skinned aunts. "But apparently, she decided to extend her trip. She met a whole group of people like... like her, and they're convinced that they're going to find the Crumple-Horned Snorkack...."
"I'm sorry, Neville," Harry said. "But she'll be back eventually, won't she?"
Out on the dance floor, the guests had stopped dancing and were now clapping their hands and wolf whistling as George and Angelina kissed each other. Teddy began giggling and pulling at Harry's sleeve.
"Kissing!" he said. "Kiss, kiss, kiss!"
Then, the child turned his attention towards something behind Harry, smiled and said: "Ginny!"
Harry spun around. Indeed, Ginny was standing a few yards away from them, smiling and waving at Teddy. Then, as he reached his arms towards her, she hesitated for a moment before walking over to them to pick him up.
"Hi, Teddy," she said softly. "I've missed you."
Harry watched as she tickled the little boy and ruffled his currently brown hair. They still hadn't said a word to each other, and he wished that he could think of a way to break the silence.
"Kiss!" said Teddy suddenly. Ginny laughed, bent down her head and kissed his cheek. "No, no!" Teddy giggled and turned his face away. "Harry kiss!"
Ginny cast a quick glance at Harry. "Do you want Harry to kiss you?"
"No! Ginny Harry kissing!"
"I don't think so, Teddy," Ginny answered, and her cheeks instantly turned dark red.
"Why-y?" Teddy whimpered, thumping his fists against Ginny's shoulder.
“Teddy, we don't punch each other," Harry admonished, making Ginny meet his eyes again. He forced the corners of his mouth up into some kind of strained smile before continuing: "Punching is mean. And Ginny and I don't kiss anymore, Teddy."
Harry wished he had known the answer to that question. Sure, he knew why they had broken up, but he couldn't explain it to Teddy, because if it had been up to him, they would have still been together.
Ron, having quickly decided that dancing wasn't worth the trouble (even if it was with Hermione) had left the dance floor to get a second round of food. His mother, Percy, Audrey and George kept him company at the table. Mrs Weasley's cheeks were redder than usual, and Ron suspected that she had had a few too many glasses of cherry wine.
"And soon," she said, her voice slightly higher than it normally was, "I think that the two of you should settle the matter and get married!" She winked at Percy and Audrey and then she continued: "You know, Audrey, if Percy is anything like his father he might need a few... hints... to be pushed in the right direction, so to speak, if you ever want to see him get down on one knee!"
George and Ron laughed at their brother's vermilion face, but George quickly became serious again when their mother turned to him instead.
"And you," she said, placing her hands over his. "Now you're married! And even if we do have little Vicky now, I miss the sound of little feet against the floor..."
"By Merlin's pants, mother!" George said in shock. "Slow down! We've only been married for a couple of hours!"
Ron burst into laughter, and before it came back to bite him - unless he fled, he was convinced that Mrs Weasley would begin attacking his and Hermione's relationship - he rose to his feet and hurried on his way. He spotted Hermione standing across the room, talking to one of Mrs Weasley's ancient aunts, and he decided to take one for the team and ask her to dance, after all, in order to save her from the terrifying old woman.
"Thanks," Hermione whispered to him a few moments later, when they were standing on the dance floor, their cheeks pressed against each other and his arms around her waist.
"Anything for you," Ron mumbled into her hair and grinned. She snorted, and Ron became serious as he continued: "Did I mention how lovely you look tonight?"
"Yes," Hermione smiled. "Only about seven times before we had even left the flat. You don't look too bad either, you know."
"And did I mention that I love you seven times as well?" Ron asked
Hermione reached up and kissed him softly. "I love you too, Ron Weasley. Even if you drive me mad sometimes, I really do love you."
"Italy, here we come!"
George smiled triumphantly as he grabbed his suitcase with one hand and Angelina's hand with the other. Then, he pulled her towards the Portkey - an old book that looked like it was one read away from falling to pieces - that would take them on their honeymoon. All of their friends and family stood a few yards away, waving one last time before the bridal couple bent down, put a finger each on the book and disappeared.
All around Ginny, the guests began saying goodbye to each other. She smiled as Hagrid patted her shoulder, and Katie Bell and Lee Jordan stopped in front of her and Oliver.
"It was so nice to see you again," Katie said. "Now, I should go and put this one to bed. We're having dinner at my parents' house in the morning, and they already think he's a slob. We don't need to confirm it by showing up looking like two wrecks!"
"They only think I'm a slob because she went out with Mr Perfect Healer before me!" Lee protested. "You know, Ginny, George and I have been discussing opening Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes in Hogsmeade, and he wants me to run it. But Mr Bell,” he said while rolling his eyes, “would rather see his daughter with someone a bit more… serious.” He grinned as he shook his head, as if to emphasize the absurdity of it, and Ginny laughed.
“So you won’t be able to save her life if she’s ever in danger,” said Oliver with a shrug. “At least she’ll die smiling, right?”
He didn’t know. Ginny’s smile left her face so quickly that it might have never been there at all, and she wanted to back away from him, away from that arm that rested on her shoulder and felt so heavy, all of a sudden. But it’s not his fault, she tried to tell herself. He didn’t know, because he hadn’t been there to hear Percy’s description of how it had happened; he hadn’t seen the tears streaming down Percy's face so vigorously that he had had trouble forming any words at all, and he hadn’t heard their mother’s wailing or seen the pain in their father’s eyes in the moment that they had all learned how Fred had been taken from them. With a smile on his face, just like how we always knew him, Percy had said.
Ginny’s eyes sought after Harry and found him, standing next to Angelina’s brother Jonathan and discussing something with him. As Ginny watched, the two young men were approached by Mr and Mrs Johnson, who shook Harry’s hand before hugging their son goodbye. Harry knew. Harry would never have said it.
Oliver touched her arm and recaptured her attention. “Are you ready to go?” he asked her.
It was as if the words spoke themselves when she opened her mouth: “I’m sorry. I know that we were supposed to go back to my place, but… I just really want to spend a little more time with my family, and I think they’re all staying here tonight…”
“That’s fine,” Oliver said. “You don’t have to explain yourself. We’ll just meet up at the match on Sunday, okay? Or you can stop by my place tomorrow, if you feel like it. I’ll be home.”
Ginny nodded, allowed him to kiss her on the cheek, and then she watched as he raised his wand and disapparated.
A/N: So, there was a lot of Harry moping around in this chapter, I know, but finding out that your ex has moved on is just terrible. Although, as I think you can tell, Ginny might not has moved on as much as he thinks...
Thank you again for reading, for reviewing and for adding this story to your favourites. It means so much to me, and I'll be thrilled to hear what you thought of this chapter as well. Also, if anyone is interested in reading more about the gnome choir, check out my submission story for the House Cup 2013 on my Author's Page. It's the weirdest thing I have ever written... ;)