Chapter 14 : Reunions and Weddings
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Neville had spent a largely restless night. He had seen Hannah at the funeral and felt guilty for what the article had implied about her. He had also seen Luna, though there was no question about being able to miss her, not when she was wearing bright yellow robes. He felt guilty about what had been said about her, too. When he wasn’t thinking about Hannah and Luna, he thought about what his grandmother had said. How was he to know that that reporter had been there? Or that she would write trash about them?
He sat at the breakfast table and waited for his grandmother to finish her breakfast. He ate silently.
“Good morning, Neville. I take it you thought about our discussion from last night?” Gran asked.
“Yes, Gran,” he replied. “I shouldn’t have made that face.”
Gran gave a small smile. “Neville, you can make faces all you want, but at the correct time.”
He gave a small smile back. “I don’t understand why she wrote about us like that. Or Hannah. Or Luna.”
Gran sat back with a sigh. “The Ministry needs to explain the events from the funeral. They choose the ones who stand out. After the Department of Mysteries battle, it was easy to pick you and Miss Lovegood. I will admit I don’t understand why Miss Abbott was included, except to possibly round out the piece.”
He frowned as he thought. He suspected that reporter had seen him watching Hannah. “May I be excused?”
He went back upstairs. He still had a lot of thinking to do. And yet, all the thinking he had already done had given him a headache. He sat at his desk, thinking, not looking at anything in particular until he sat up tall. He pulled out a piece of parchment and sharpened his quill. He bent over the letter, choosing his words very carefully.
Hannah looked up at the tapping on the window. An owl waited fairly impatiently at the window. She crossed the room quickly to open the window. The owl flew in and landed on a side table, holding its leg out. She removed the letter and was surprised to see it was for her. She pointed the owl to where a bowl of water and food stood. The owl hooted gratefully.
She opened the letter and smiled to see that it was from Neville. They had talked a fair bit at school, but this was the first time he had written to her. Reading through the note, her smile grew bigger.
She would have to answer him right away. It really wasn’t his fault that that reporter had noticed her looking at him and had decided to make up stories about the three of them. She hurried to her room and quickly pulled out a piece of parchment. She nearly began writing on it when she realized it was pink. She blushed as she stuck the parchment back. She considered the other colors. She decided to go with the pale blue parchment. She put away the regular ink and pulled out her special ink that wrote in any color. With another smile, she began writing back to Neville.
Hermione looked around at everyone. So far they were all sitting about. Ron was staring out the window. She remained where she was for several more minutes as she figured out how they would be able to leave the room without the others trying to find out what they were up to. It had to be simple. She didn’t want his mother keeping them as busy as the summers before to keep them from making plans. They needed to talk about the Horcruxes and how they were going to find them.
An idea came to her. She considered how the others were sitting about the place. She slowly got up and walked to the door as if she was curious about the weather. As she passed Ron, she caught his eye, giving him the slightest nod of her head. She waited at the edge of the porch.
“What?” Ron asked from behind her.
“Not here,” she replied. She started walking slowly out to the middle of the field. Still perfectly in view of the house, just in case his mother decided to check up on them.
Ron followed her. He sat when she sat. “Alright, what?”
“We need to leave soon to take care of those Horcruxes,” she said simply.
“How can we leave now?” Ron demanded sharply.
Hermione turned to him and glared. “How can we not? Harry told us everything he knew of the Horcruxes. He told us what they likely are and where they likely would be. How can we possibly leave that undone?”
“How do we know that anyone else can find them?” Ron demanded. “It’s Harry who has to defeat You-Know-Who.”
Hermione shook her head. “Dumbledore found and destroyed one. He was also able to find another one, even though someone else found it first.”
Ron frowned as he turned away.
“Ron? You know that I wouldn’t just suggest we do this if we couldn’t handle it,” Hermione tried.
Hermione sighed angrily. “You’re just being obstinate!” When he turned to glare at her again, she continued. “We owe this to Harry. Have you considered that there might be others that could fill the conditions?”
“How?” Ron wanted to know. “Only Harry filled them...”
“That anyone knew,” Hermione pointed out. “And only because he survived the Killing Curse the first time. But what if he isn’t, wasn’t, the Chosen One? What then? Dumbledore taught Harry about the Horcruxes and Harry taught us. What if the person meant to kill Voldemort is out there? What if he kills Voldemort only to have him come back?”
Ron was taken aback at her ferocity. He pulled away. “So because we know about why You-Know-Who is staying alive, we should take care of that so when this other person shows up and kills You-Know-Who, that You-Know-Who will be dead?”
Hermione nodded. “But none of this will work if we don’t have a good plan,” she pointed out evenly. “A good plan. We have to find somewhere that no one would consider looking for us for one. And not only would we have to find the Horcruxes, but have to figure out how to destroy them. I doubt a Basilisk fang would work on these other ones.”
Ron grimaced at the mention of the diary that had nearly killed Ginny and brought You-Know-Who back as his teen-aged self. “Alright.”
Hermione didn’t say another word. Instead, she just sat quietly looking at the stars. She lay back on the grass to see the stars better. Ron stretched out beside her, watching the stars also.
They didn’t realize that at that moment, Tamsin was watching them from the window. She turned back to the others. “They’re fine. They are watching the stars.”
“Leave them, then,” Mr. Weasley said tiredly. “I hope that stargazing will help bring them peace.”
Arthur glanced over to Bill and nodded towards the back door. Without a word, Bill got up and went outside to Ron and Hermione. After the back door shut, there was a knock on the front door. Arthur walked over to the door with his wand ready and began speaking to the person on the other side. The others in the room quickly pulled out their wands. Just in case. He looked back and motioned for everyone to lower their wands before opening the door.
The last person anyone expected to see walked inside, looking glum and sheepish at the same time. “Hello, Mother,” Percy said hollowly, glancing in her direction.
“Is that really you, Percy?” Ron demanded, catching sight of him as he entered the house.
“What are you doing here?” Bill demanded.
“That’s enough Ron, Bill,” Arthur motioned for Percy to sit down with the family.
Percy glanced around and chose a seat away from everyone else. No one in his family was giving him a friendly look except for his mother. He took another quick glance about before looking to the floor.
“What are you doing here?” Fred demanded harshly.
“You want to hurt Mum again?” George asked scathingly.
Percy flinched at their anger. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean...”
“Didn’t mean what?” Charlie asked. “Walk out on the family?”
“Hurt Mum?” Ron asked.
“I didn’t...” Percy started.
“You didn’t care about her feelings when you left,” Bill pointed out.
“And you sent your Christmas presents back – unopened,” Ron spat.
“What about when you visited with Minister Scrimgeour?” Hermione asked, her voice soft but like steel.
Everyone fell silent as they waited for Percy to explain himself concerning that episode. Molly had been dealing with his selfishness fine up to that point. To have him leave angrily after spitting out spiteful words wounded her completely anew.
Percy could tell everyone was more than a little upset. He briefly shut his eyes. “I’m sorry, I was taken in by the power...” He trailed off as everyone stared at him with disbelief. “I shouldn’t have turned my back on my family. No matter what the Ministry said...” Again he trailed off as the apology fell more than a little flat.
“Hermione, boys, leave off,” Molly spoke up, giving them a warning look. “Whatever he’s done in the past, he’s here now. We’re a family again. That’s all I care about.”
Ron opened his mouth to make a reply until he looked at Hermione. “What?” He hissed under his breath. Her reply was lost as she leaned over and whispered into his ear, but Ron’s ears started turning pink.
Percy gave Ron and Hermione a considering look. Perhaps he should offer to check up on Hermione, just to make sure that she was good enough for the family. He noticed his older brothers watching him with matching curious looks and he turned his attention elsewhere.
Bill was surprised to see the day dawn with clear skies and bright sunshine. He wondered once again if getting married so soon after Harry and Ginny’s funeral was wise. But there was no stopping his mother once she had made her decision. The wedding had been scaled back to close family and friends.
Bill waited nervously. Those who came kept staring at him as if they’d never seen him before. He was well aware that they were wondering how he managed to end up with the loveliest woman on earth. More than a few were likely feeling jealous right now. He eyed a few of them carefully. Their expressions were dark. He wondered what was taking Fleur so long.
He relaxed when he saw Gabrielle walking down the aisle. He didn’t notice her annoyed expression. Hermione followed soon. Everyone turned to look towards the back where Fleur and her father waited. She seemed to drift along the aisle as she held her father’s arm. As she passed by, each row of people turned to follow her progress up to Bill. They sat once she took Bill’s hand in hers.
Bill looked down at Fleur. He didn’t want to admit how much he worried that Fleur didn’t want to marry him after his encounter with Fenrir. He smiled as she smiled up at him. She was looking breathtaking in her white robes. He even noticed the small goblin-made tiara that Auntie Muriel had lent Fleur just for the occasion. “You look more beautiful than I could have imagined, Fleur,” he whispered to her, gaining another brilliant smile. “I take thee, Fleur Isabelle Delacour, as my wedded wife. To have and to hold from this day forward.” A small tendril of red light began circling slowly around them. “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, so long as we both shall live.”
Fleur kept her eyes only on Bill. She was afraid that she’d run away if she didn’t. He was still recuperating from the battle that had taken place at Hogwarts. She wanted to weep over the scars that were still not healed, knowing they would likely not heal correctly. But he had fought bravely and she loved him, no matter what anyone else thought. “I take thee, William Arthur Weasley, as my wedded husband. To have and to hold from this day forward.” A small tendril of blue light began twining about the red circling about them. “In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, so long as we both shall live.”
Everyone watched as the red light and blue light spun rapidly about the new couple mixing into a vibrant purple that swelled in intensity as Bill kissed Fleur.
Most of the people stayed for the reception. Hermione lost count of how many times Bill and Fleur were told of the person’s surprise that their light was so even. Hermione had read of the effect, of course, once she had found out about it from Ginny. The groom would be represented by one color and the bride another. The light would mix at the end of the vows to indicate how much they were made for each other. The more splotchy, the worse the match. The more even, the better the match. She couldn’t even see any sign of red or blue in the purple. She hadn’t even seen different shades of purple for that matter. Her eyes fell on Ron and she briefly wondered what colors they would be until she caught herself.
“What’s the matter, Hermione?” Ron asked as she blushed furiously.
“Nothing,” Hermione replied quickly.
Ron looked at her carefully. Something had embarrassed her. She was blushing quite furiously. “Are you certain you’re fine?” he asked.
Hermione nodded, waving her hand in front of her face to cool it down. “I’m fine. Really,” she walked away. She didn’t want to explain exactly why she was blushing. She drifted over near where a few elderly witches were talking.
“I don’t think I can remember if anyone has ever matched that well before,” one of the witches said.
“I’m certain I don’t,” another witch stated. “I’m nearly positive about that.”
“I didn’t think that they’d be so right for each other,” the third witch stated in a near hush. “Given that she’s a veela.” She looked around to make sure no one overheard her and saw Hermione watching them. “Why don’t you be a dear and bring us some punch?”
Hermione forced a smile on her face as she took her time getting punch for the three witches. They were talking about something else when she came back. “Excuse me?”
The first witch turned around and chuckled. “Mable, the youngling brought our punch.”
“What a nice thing for her to do,” the second witch smiled.
Mable turned around and shook her head. “Don’t know when a person’s trying to get rid of you, do you? Well, you might as well hear everything properly.” She waved her wand and Hermione realized that the witches held their cups of punch and she couldn’t move from the chair. Mable smiled innocently as the others chuckled.
Hermione tried to leave a few more times before the first witch stopped her. “You wanted to listen in on our conversation, so you’ll stay here until we decide you may leave.” Hermione slumped more than a little as they were all laughing at the idea. She let her mind wander as the three witches kept talking amongst themselves.
Ron noticed when Hermione got stuck by the witches. He tried valiantly to keep a straight face in case Hermione caught sight of him. He really didn’t want an irate Hermione having a go at him. When it felt like he was failing, he turned around so she couldn’t see his smile. As soon as he got control of himself, he would go rescue her from Aunt Mable, Aunt Aranid and Aunt Arachia.
Hermione was startled when Ron showed up. “Aunt Mable!” he said, catching the witches’ attention. “Aunt Aranid, Aunt Arachia, Hermione. How are you?”
Mable considered. “We’re doing fine. Hermione decided to join us for a bit.”
“Since she was interested in what we were saying,” Arachia added.
“And because she didn’t ask us our opinion,” Aranid nodded her head once.
Ron had to fight down another urge to laugh. “Aunt Mable? Might I ask Hermione for a dance or so?”
Mable looked between Ron and Hermione and began cackling. She turned to Aranid and Arachia who nodded. “Very well. I suppose we can let her go now.”
Hermione took Ron’s hand as they both hurried away. “Why were you listening into their conversation?” Ron asked as he took Hermione onto the dance floor.
Hermione shook her head. “I wasn’t watching where I was going,” she frowned. “You weren’t kidding about the dance?”
Ron shook his head. “If we don’t dance, you’ll have to go back to them and listen to more of their chatter.”
Hermione shuddered. “Please! No! It was all prattle anyways. Nothing good about anyone it seemed.”
Ron chuckled. “They don’t come all that often. I expect that they wanted to see for themselves how well Bill and Fleur matched up. Wouldn’t believe it without seeing it for themselves.”
After their dance, Hermione stayed near Ron. It was easier to put up with the nagging questions than to listen to the sometimes malicious prattle of others.
It was late. Bill watched as Fleur talked to one person and then to another. He sighed. “Congratulations, son,” Bill looked over to see his dad taking a seat near him. “Pain?”
Bill shrugged. It sounded like something he might have to live with the rest of his life. At least it hadn’t been a full moon. Otherwise it would have been a very different outcome.
“I see Gabrielle is looking somewhat upset,” his dad nodded towards the younger sister of Fleur.
“Come to think of it, she hasn’t looked very happy in the last few weeks...” Bill shook his head, frowning as he thought back.
“C’est la vie. She must learn,” Fleur joined them. “She is, how you say, not happy?”
“But why?” Bill asked. “Our wedding?”
Fleur considered her younger sister before shrugging. “I think it is more her age.”
Bill gave a worried look at Gabrielle when he noticed that she had slumped in her seat. She had gone too still, then looked around much too quickly. Whatever she saw or didn’t see apparently didn’t agree with her because her face began to cloud up.
Bill looked around for Charlie and saw him talking with their parents, along with Tamsin. How had he managed to keep his marriage a secret? Granted, he’d been in another country, but still...
Hermione, for one, was glad when Bill and Fleur left. Once they threw handfuls of flower blossoms over the couple before they Apparated, it was time for everyone else to leave. Once it was only the Weasleys and Tamsin, Hermione sagged into the couch. “Do I have to see Aunt Mable, Aunt Aranid or Aunt Arachia again?” she asked the room at large.
Nearly everyone laughed. Arthur shook his head as Molly patted Hermione’s hand. “You ran across them, poor dear.”
“Ron rescued her,” Fred added. “Though I think that they believe you’re both sweet on each other.”
Hermione rolled her eyes before she declared that she was going to bed.
Hermione waited a long while before she decided it was safe enough to creep from Ginny’s room. She was more than a little nervous. If Mrs. Weasley caught her, then how was she going to explain the fact she was heading to Ron’s room in the middle of the night? She half-expected that if she was confronted as she carefully crept along the hall, remembering where the squeaks in the floorboards were, that she wouldn’t even be able to come up with a good excuse, much less a poor one.
She made it to Ron’s room without discovery. She tapped lightly on the door, not wanting to wake anyone else. It seemed like forever before the door opened with a puzzled Ron standing in the way. “Move,” she hissed under her breath as she pushed her way into the room.
“You can’t be here,” Ron stared at her.
“Why not?” Hermione asked innocently.
Ron blinked. “I’m about to go to sl... er...”
Hermione waved her hand impatiently. “Ron, now’s not the time.”
Ron’s embarrassment turned back to puzzlement. “Then when is it?”
Hermione raised an eyebrow, but chose to continue with her thoughts. “You know we need to figure out what we’re going to do. We have to have a plan.”
Ron shook his head. “Not tonight, Hermione. Feel free to think about it all you want. I’m going to sleep.” He got into his bed and pulled the covers over his head, waiting for any sign she left his room.
A/N: As always, I hope you have enjoyed this next chapter. Please let me know what you thought about this chapter, especially if you have constructive criticism! I am always looking for ways to improve my writing! Thank you very much!
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