ILY. Thanks Gwen!
Beta'd by the incredible Michelle! Thank you!!
J.K Rowling is an absolute goddess. After Prometheus,
why would we want to steal their stuff?
I watched the rain patter on the train windows, my head leaning on James’ shoulder and a book lying unnoticed on my lap. Returning from Hogwarts for the Easter holidays was meant to be something that I enjoyed – the prospect of no homework, the newly emerged sun and ice cream sundaes at Fortescue’s was fresh on my mind. I was also looking forward to spending a week with the Potters at Godric’s Hollow and the first official holiday with James as my boyfriend. Everything changed, though, when the letter came.
I never knew what it was about weddings about weddings that annoyed me. At first, I thought it might have been the thousands of little children running around, or the constant existence of the very drunk uncle whom no one seems to talk to. By the time I had reached my eleventh wedding, I had decided that it was the dresses: the stiff, uncomfortable, salmon pink
dresses that annoyed me. Then it was the canapés, the dancing, the intolerable speeches, the endless bouquets of hideous flowers and the amount of giggling that seemed to take place.
I always hated giggling.
I can see now that I was stupid. It wasn’t all the silly materialistic things that bothered me about weddings. It wasn’t the fact that I had to sit alone at the heavily decorated table, watching people I didn’t know swerve dangerously around the dance floor.
I had decided, long ago, that it was my mother.
Out of all the thirty-one weddings I had been to, only two had been for someone else. One of them was my aunt Shirley when I was four, a woman I vaguely remember from when my father was around. The other, a far more enjoyable affair, was Victoire’s marriage to Teddy.
The other twenty-nine, however, were my mother’s. At home, stuffed in a enormous box under my bed, were twenty-nine bridesmaid’s dresses, each a different colour and style: a long, silver gown for my mother’s marriage to some potion inventor, a ghastly maroon frock with ruffles for when she decided to spend the rest of her life with the Bulgarian Quidditch captain.
That marriage lasted six months. I had twelve stepbrothers and sisters. I wouldn’t be able to tell you all their names.
Ironically, my father was the only one she didn’t get married to. I used to keep a picture of them on my wall at home until he left. I remember it clearly, even though it was about eleven years ago. It was raining then as well.
The windowsill was too tall for me to look over, so I had to stand on my tiptoes. Mum stood in the front garden and her brown, natural, healthy hair was damp from the rain. I was not sure whether she was crying. My father was carrying a suitcase. I could see it, lying in the damp grass while he argued with my mother. I wish I could tell you what he looked like, but ever since I got rid of that photo, and ever since he got rid of us, he became faceless. Sometimes Mum said I looked just like him, but I never wanted to.
My father disapparated but, as a six-year old girl, I was far more interested in the raindrops that trickled down the window.
I admired them again, this time on the window of the Hogwarts Express and the painful memory caused me to snuggle further into James’ warmth. My book slipped from my lap, the letter peeking out from between the pages. I stared at it for a while, the yellowing parchment almost acting as a warning sign.
You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of
Florence Olivia Harris
Thomas Cade Hudson-Radcliff III
On Wednesday 25th March, at four o’clock
At Huntingdon House, Suffolk
Mum had even decided to add in two pictures of bridesmaid dresses. One was green and delicate and the other was blue and skin-tight. When I showed James, he had helpfully chosen the blue dress, with a cheeky glint in his eye. Picking the green one just to spite him, I replied the letter saying that James would be there and I also gave her my congratulations.
I wouldn’t be able to tell you what Thomas Cade Hudson-Radcliff III looked like.
“You alright, love?” James asked me.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Are you sure? It’s just that you’ve been looking out of that window for almost two hours. I mean the food trolley had already been and gone!”
I laughed at him, but his face was entirely serious.
“Is something wrong?” He asked.
“It’s the wedding, isn’t it?"
“No,” I replied sharply, but James smirked.
“You know your nose does a little twitchy thing when you lie. It’s quite endearing really,” he said.
“I hate you,” I said mockingly.
“No, you don’t,” he placed his arm around me again, planting a soft kiss on my cheek, “otherwise you wouldn’t let me accompany you to this wonderful event that you definitely aren’t worried about.”
He pressed his lips to the corner of my mouth, and my eyes fluttered closed. Sometimes it annoyed me how much he affected me. Damn Potter smirk.
“Amelie...” he whispered, kissing my lips gently. All too soon, he pulled away and I pouted childishly.
“I hate you,” I repeated.
“You’ve really got to stop saying that,” he answered, smiling broadly. I loved his smile.
“I really do hate you though,” I said sarcastically, ruffling his hair.
“Almost as much as you hate weddings?”
I groaned and collapsed back onto the green leather of the compartment seat.
“Please don’t remind me. You do realise what you are getting into by coming to one of these things, don’t you James?” I asked him.
“Hit me,” he said.
“Toothless grandmas wanting to dance with you?” I began, ticking my points off on my fingers.
“Auntie Muriel,” he retorted quickly, with a shudder.
“Have you ever heard Uncle Percy speak?”
“Lots of drunk people?”
“Drunken giants? Hagrid sure does like his mead.”
“Axe murderers?” I added as a desperate last resort.
“Again, Amelie, the nose-twitching gives it away.”
“I supposed you have had your full of awkward family get-togethers.”
“Is that a slander against my family?” James replied cheekily.
“No,” I said, smiling, “I’m a big fan of your family.”
“I’m a big fan of you,” he said, smirking again and I felt my insides twist pleasantly.
“A little cheesy, but I’ll let it pass.” I leant towards him and brushed my lips against his. I could happily spend my whole life in this compartment with him. The invitation lay forgotten at my feet as I eagerly let James steal all of my oxygen.
“Oh! Amy! My darling!”
I shuddered. I could recognise that voice anywhere. I looked longingly back at James, who gave me a small smile and pushed me forward gently.
Florence Harris kissed me on each cheek, her skinny hands clutching at my arms. Her bright blonde hair was rolled in curlers, and she was dressed in a silk robe. She gripped my cheek and shook it, smiling. I was seventeen for crying out loud.
“It’s good to have you back,” she said, her voice verging on the edge of (fake) tears and she pulled me into her arms once again.
“Yeah. It’s great,” I said forcefully, tapping her half-heartedly on the back. James coughed from behind me.
“Oh yeah, introductions” I said, eagerly escaping the arms of my hair-dye-ridden mother, “James, this is my mum. Mum, this is my boyfriend James.”
“Oh yes, James Potter. I’ve heard a lot about you,” she said, smiling coyly, “I must say you are a lot more handsome then I imagined.”
James laughed nervously and his hand flew to his hair. Shit. He always did that when he was nervous.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Miss Harris.”
“Oh please call me Flo,” she pleaded, and James shot me a frightened glance. I stifled a laugh. Mum gripped his arm and began pulling him into the house.
"Although by tomorrow I’m going to be Florence Hudson-Radcliff. Isn’t that wonderful, James?” She looked back at me over her shoulder. “Isn’t Tommy a wonderful man, Amy?”
“Couldn’t say, Mum,” I said exasperatedly, trying not to laugh at James’ panic-stricken face. I suppose Mum could be quite a handful sometimes.
“I’ve never met him,” I continued.
“Oh, well, you’ll meet him tomorrow, darling,” she said matter-of-factly, finally letting go of James. He scurried over to me, placing an arm securely round my shoulder. I scoffed at my mother.
“So I’m going to meet my new step-father tomorrow. At your wedding?”
“I hope that is okay, pumpkin,” she said as she began painting her nails, “I would have arranged a meeting but I know how busy you are with schoolwork and Quidditch and...new friends.” She winked at James who looked he was going to throw up. I felt his hand clamp tighter around my shoulder.
I gaped at her. I could not believe this! I was going to meet my new stepfather at the altar. I would have been angrier but, judging my mother’s track record, I knew that Thomas Hudson-Radcliff III would be out of her life in six months at the most.
“Do you want something to eat? I think Twinkie or Twitchy or Blinky or something said that dinner is ready.”
Classic Mum. Always forgets which house-elf goes with which house. Always a struggle when you are filthy rich. I suppose James has that problem all the time.
“That sounds nice,” I replied through gritted teeth. Mum pranced off ahead, looking entirely stupid in her stupid, pink, stupid, fluffy, stupid high-heeled slipper things. Stupid.
I was about to follow her when James held me back, his hands on my shoulders.
“Listen, Amelie,” he began, “I know you’re annoyed at the fact that you haven’t met Thomas Delaney Orpington Featherby or whatever he’s called.”
I laughed. It was short and sharp and mocking. I glared at the doorway my mother had just gone through.
“Hopefully tomorrow will be the only time. The newlyweds always seem to go on a wonderfully long honeymoon. Do you remember the last one? At Christmas? I was late getting back to Hogwarts. And by the time they get back we’ll be back at Hogwarts. They’ll argue when I’m gone. There’ll be one tear-stained letter and then Mum gets a huge settlement in the divorce. Everyone’s a winner!” I added sarcastically.
“They say sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.”
“And Mum always says that she’ll be married ‘till death do us part’.”
“OK, so your mum is a bit of a serial divorcee. And a bit mental. But doesn’t she seem happy to you?” James said.
I looked back down the corridor to see Mum dancing happily as she shook a cocktail. She was singing as well. Alright, it was terrible, but I had never seen her do that before.
“Yes,” I replied grumpily.
“Then be nice to her. You never know, this could be the one that works out.”
“Damn you, noble Potter boy,” I grumbled, hugging him around the waist. He kissed the top of my head.
“You love me for it.”
I lifted my head and kissed him longingly, his hands resting on my hips and his tongue entwining with mine. I heard my mother’s heels come tottering down the corridor.
“Kids! Oh sorry,” she grinned stupidly after seeing my arms wrapped around James, “Twonky says that dinner is in the kitchen. Amy, you’re obviously hungry.”
“How can you tell?”
“By the way you were eating James’ face.”
I swear all of the colour from James’ face disappeared. Now he just looked like one of the un-dead. I felt like throwing up all over her slipper shoe things. Mum nudged me in the side with her elbow, winking again.
“Don’t worry Amy, we’re only young once,” she whispered, “and if I was a bit younger, darling, I wouldn’t let him go.”
Maybe I could trade with Thomas Hudson Delaney the Fourth. My mind was suddenly filled with images of James and my mum going at it on the kitchen table. Shit. Shit. Shit. I felt bile in my throat. James looked like he wanted to cry, and clutched my hand tightly.
“Thanks for the advice, Mum.”
I bet James was regretting the ‘let’s all be nice to Flo’ plan.
The green dress was itchy and uncomfortable, and the thorns from the roses that were clasped in my hands were piercing my skin. My green satin heels were painful, the tiny gold buckles far too tight. My hair was stretched back so far that I could feel my skin pulling. I spotted James in the audience, and he looked supremely handsome in a simple black suit with a white shirt. His hair looked far too neat for my liking, and so I made a mental note to rectify that later.
He smiled at me, and waved back. The other bridesmaid, Griselda (I laughed when we met) grabbed my wrist and pulled back onto the bouquet.
“You are not allowed to wave at people in the congregation,” she whispered angrily, before smiling brilliantly at a man with a camera.
“Oh, sorry,” I replied sarcastically.
She took her job far too seriously. Griselda had managed to squeeze into the blue, skin-tight number that James liked. I looked back at him over my shoulder, making sure that he wasn’t goggling or drooling or wolf-whistling or whatever boys did when they found a woman attractive. But he wasn’t looking at Griselda. I felt a blush rise in my cheeks as he smiled at me, mouthing ‘you look beautiful’.
If I wasn’t so ‘scared’ of Griselda hexing me if I dared to break the sacred rules of Bridesmaidom, I would have run up to him and kissed him. Quite keenly.
I stood next to Griselda at the altar. She was Thomas Ponsonby Hudson-Willoughby’s niece, or something, and was obviously a tad miffed that she didn’t get to be Maid of Honour. Honestly, I don’t see what she was missing out on. You do get to wear a prettier dress than everyone else, but the rest is the same. I have gotten used to it after the many times I’ve done it.
Mum looked nice in her white gown. ‘Tommy’ turned out to be quite handsome, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was tall. He was boring. I stifled a yawn when the vows came. Mum and Thomas kissed and it was all over. I walked down the aisle again, searching for my boyfriend through the crowd. Rice was being thrown everywhere, getting stuck in my intricate hairdo. I had just found James when the entire hall went silent.
The door had opened, and the rain outside was still pouring down. A flash of lightning and a roll of thunder added to the already dramatic scene. Mum and Thomas Delaney ‘I-Don’t-Care-What-Your-Name-Is’ stopped dead still. Mum’s bouquet dropped from her hand. James’ found mine in the awkward silence.
Nice little cliff hanger for you there! Hope you liked it.