Chapter 17 : XVII. The Wedding
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He found himself under a tree meticulously decorated with vibrantly colored pixies whose bodies illuminate the leaves of every branch.
He could not take his eyes off a certain spot. At first, he assumed he was just dazed or probably thoughtful due to the numerous events that had occurred in the past days. But then, he admitted to himself that he was just making up an excuse for the real reason behind his stare.
The merrymaking around him seemed almost like a blur as he stood there under the tree. His eyes were only set on one…and that one was a person.
The dancing and the laughter did not mean anything to him as of that moment.
And it was her.
Don’t be scared to go after what you truly want, Harry…
As he stood there watching her, he saw her eyes meet his…
And form a connection with him.
His head throbbed as he recalled the events that brought him to that moment.
September 27th, 6:00 AM
The day had finally come.
Harry was gazing at his cup of coffee as he rubbed his forehead.
It was the day anticipated by a number.
It was the day that Ron Weasley would be marrying Hermione Granger.
A small smile spread on Harry’s face as the image of Ron and Hermione appeared inside his mind. He still found it hard to believe that they were actually going to marry each other but as all else, Harry was nonetheless happy for his best friends.
He could already envision the day.
The thought of Ron wearing dress robes brought early morning laughter to Harry. He knew his best mate was no fan of dressing up and he knew Ron would be pulling his collar endlessly. His face would be redder than his hair once his mother dives into her endless fuss and rants. Mean as it may sound, Harry was actually looking forward to it.
But thinking of Ron also reminded him of September 24th.
How he left that early morning, leaving Ron a note that said he received an urgent owl from the Ministry and he had to leave immediately…
Which was a lie.
What really happened was Harry could no longer stay within the confinements of the Burrow after hearing a revelation from Ginny that utterly crumbled him into pieces…
He knew he had to leave. He couldn’t face Ginny the next morning when he had overheard her confession to Hermione. Harry knew he wouldn’t be able to communicate with her properly and would result into awkwardness.
So he left, without another word.
Harry sighed as he sipped his cup of coffee. He was hoping that his eyes would not look as red and as tired as they were that morning he left the Burrow. He recalled looking at himself in the mirror once he got home and only one word described him properly:
His hair was messier than usual. Dark circles were found under his bloodshot eyes. His skin was pale and he looked truly beaten up. He didn’t care…he simply threw himself on his bed, fervently hoping that sleep would wash away his hurt.
Now, he sat on his table, preparing himself for his best mate’s wedding.
A wedding was supposed to be a happy occasion. Harry knew he had to fix himself because he didn’t want to ruin Ron and Hermione’s special day. He’d rather stick himself up a pole.
“Smile,” he told himself as he drained his cup.
Harry was somehow still tensed with the fact that he would be seeing Ginny in a few hours. He knew he had to keep his act together because he did not dare fall apart in front of her. He was hoping that Cho’s presence would distract him.
If that was possible…
Standing up, Harry took a deep breath.
Today was the day he was going to turn over a new leaf.
He wouldn’t be heartbroken Harry in Ron and Hermione’s wedding.
He would be the honorable best man who would stand by Ron’s side as he watches his best mate marry the woman he loves.
And he wouldn’t take notice of the maid-of-honor…
He would try his best not to.
As Harry walked towards the front door of the Burrow, he could smell the fresh dew on the leaves of the freshly mown grass. Looking around, he saw a gigantic cream-colored marquee standing on the Weasley backyard. Birds twittered above him and butterflies flew their way.
Arriving at the front step, Harry took a deep breath as he knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” came a motherly voice.
“It’s me, Molly,” said Harry.
A second later, the door flew open and Harry found himself facing a joyful Molly Weasley. She was already dressed in her emerald green dress robes and a glimmering witch’s hat on her head.
“Harry!” she exclaimed, engulfing him in a hug. Behind her, Harry saw Andromeda Tonks dressed in a cream-colored dress splashed with stars and butterflies.
“Hello there, Harry,” she greeted politely.
“Hello Andromeda,” said Harry as Mrs. Weasley released him from her hug, “Great to see both of you looking beautiful.”
“Oh, Harry!” said Mrs. Weasley, tapping him on the shoulder, “Save the compliments for the bride.”
Shouldering his rucksack, Harry looked around. He saw Mr. Weasley outside with an older man Harry presumed was Hermione’s father. George and Bill were also outside, wands out and raising chairs. There were already a number of people outside the Burrow and it made Harry nervous.
“Where are Ron and Hermione?” he asked.
“Ron’s in George’s old room with Teddy. He said he needed the company while you weren’t here,” said Andromeda, “Hermione is in Ronald’s room with her mother. Speaking of Hermione, I do need to return upstairs to help. Ginny had just left, you see.”
At the mention of Ginny’s name, Harry gulped.
“Wh…where did she go?” he asked.
“She left an hour ago with Caleb Andrews,” said Mrs. Weasley, “They’re out to pick some of the supplies I needed. Apparently, Ginny will be getting ready at Caleb’s apartment.”
Getting ready at Caleb’s apartment?
“Oh, I see,” said Harry, “I’ll go and help out Ron, then, I suppose.”
“Do so, dear,” said Mrs. Weasley, patting his cheek, “Ronald’s in need of his best man. He refused to allow me to help him in dressing up. Well, let’s just see if he doesn’t manage to look like a bumbling idiot down the aisle.”
Harry managed a laugh as he proceeded towards the stairs. He climbed them up and spotted the door to George’s room. He heard tiny giggles and a stumble within. Harry smiled as he opened the door.
Ron was standing in front of a mirror and aboard his shoulders was Teddy.
“Unca Hawee!” squealed the 4-year old as he reached out for his godfather.
“You look sharp Teddy,” said Harry as he reached for his godson and carried him in his arms. Teddy was already wearing his set of tiny dress robes completed with a tiny bow tie. The child laughed as he wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck.
“Sharper than me, I look like a mess,” said Ron as he looked at himself in front of the mirror. His dark dress robes were quite ruffled on some parts but nonetheless, he looked very dashing and decent.
Harry found himself staring at Ron.
“So…this is it then,” he said.
“This is what?” asked Ron. Harry took a few steps closer towards his best mate and eyed the mirror.
“Looking good Ron,” remarked Harry, staring at Ron’s reflection, “Better than the Yule Ball.”
“Oh shut up,” said Ron, mildly punching Harry’s arm, “I looked like hell back then. But now…well, I can say that I am probably the handsomest bloke on the planet.”
Harry smirked and at the same time let out a laugh.
It was hard to believe that Ron was finally getting married. He was the very same freckled and red haired Ron Harry first met at the train on the way to Hogwarts…the very same Ron he had flown a magical Ford Anglia with…the very same one who saved his life and killed the horcrux…
It was just hard to believe they had all grown up.
“Hey Harry, mind helping with this damn tie?” asked Ron, whose fingers were fidgeting his tie. Harry had to smile.
“Sure, still no luck?” he asked as he approached his best mate.
“Nope, that’s why you’re here, mate,” said Ron, “You’re the best man.”
“Best man…not best servant,” said Harry as he fixed Ron’s tie.
“What’s the bloody difference?”
Harry smirked as he straightened the tie and brushed off. He looked at Ron in the eye. He knew Ron knew what he was thinking about.
“It’s bloody weird, ain’t it?” asked Ron, “Am all dressed up in dress robes and about to get married?”
“Yep,” said Harry as he stepped back and grabbed his set of dress robes from his rucksack. “I cannot believe that this day has come. I’m going to wear dress robes again just for you.” Ron laughed as he watched Harry strip himself of his clothes. Teddy was giggling as his godfather took the white inner shirt and began buttoning.
“Hey Harry,” called Ron again as he stared at himself in the mirror.
“Hmm?” asked Harry as he buttoned the last one.
“I need a favor, mate,” said Ron, “You see…Mum and the other women in this house sort of…banned me from seeing Hermione since last night. They said if I kept on seeing her, I might spoil the bloody thrill. So I was wondering…”
Harry saw Ron’s face become red with embarrassment.
“Well, I’m dying to see Hermione in her dress but they won’t ever allow me,” he said, “So…I was hoping you could see her for me. After all, they’d allow you to see her. You can make some excuse like telling them you want to have a word with the bride.”
Harry laughed at the simplicity and the humor of Ron’s request.
“So what you’re saying is, you want me to go upstairs and take a peek at Hermione then come back down and tell you what she looks like?” asked Harry, “Will that satisfy you? I mean, you’ll be receiving it second hand.”
“S’alright mate, at least you’d be giving me the heads up,” said Ron, “C’mon, Harry. Please? I’ll watch Teddy for you while you go upstairs.”
Harry fought the urge to laugh once again at the sight of Ron pouting his lips like a child.
“Alright, I’ll go and peek at Hermione for you if it makes you happy,” he said. Ron leaped in delight.
“Thanks a lot mate!”
Harry shook his head as he wore his dress robes.
“Oh and by the way, Harry?”
There was a warm smile on Ron’s face.
“I just want you to know that…being married…it doesn’t change anything, mate,” he said.
It was obvious that Ron was quite embarrassed with his own words. They were never too emotional: Harry and Ron. They rarely showed their emotions to one another but the occasion seem to call for it.
It was then that Harry realized that once he was married, Ron would be Hermione’s. Much of his time would be required by his wife and in the future, by his kids. No longer can they stag and simply hang out for hours like before.
To hear Ron tell him that his being married won’t ever change anything, it meant a lot to Harry.
Harry smiled and approached Ron. Without another word, he hugged his best friend.
“It won’t mate,” he whispered, “It really won’t.”
He heard Teddy laughing behind them. When they broke apart, Harry could spot another sheepish smile on Ron’s face.
“I’ll hurry up so I can take a look at Hermione for you,” said Harry.
Harry dusted his dress robes and attempted to tame his hair as he stood in front of Ron’s room. Inside, he could hear voices of women, eagerly talking and chatting the noon away. He felt quite nervous, feeling as if he was trespassing.
But he wasn’t Ron…so he had nothing to worry about.
Clearing his throat, Harry knocked.
“Who is it?”
“It’s Harry Potter,” answered Harry, “I was hoping I could speak with the bride.”
There was an outbreak of giggling inside the room, making Harry quite buggered.
“Come in, Harry!”
Opening the door, Harry was greeted by a group of women, most of them with familiar faces. But his jaw dropped at the sight of the beautiful woman standing in the middle with her hair in a bun and wearing a splendid white dress.
Hermione Granger stood there, surrounded by women who were also gushing at her beauty. She blushed as Harry approached her. Joy was emanating in her aura.
“How do I look?” she asked shyly.
“Absolutely gorgeous, Hermione,” he answered. It was then he realized that they were not alone.
“Harry has confirmed that we have done a splendid job, ladies,” announced Mrs. Weasley who was holding out her wand and adding finishing touches to Hermione’s dress. With her were Hermione’s mother and Andromeda.
“Truly,” said Harry, smiling at them, “She looks beautiful. Ron’s socks would be knocked off.”
“Which is why we have banned him from seeing her till he meets her at the altar,” said Andromeda, “Surprise will be good for him.”
Laughter rang inside the room. As he was laughing, Harry saw Hermione throw him a meaningful look. It was the look she gave him when she knew something that he should know.
“Um…if you don’t mind,” said Hermione, handling her dress, “Harry came here to speak with the bride. Mind giving us the time to spare?” she asked the women who surrounded her. Mrs. Weasley and the others obliged as they began to vacate Ron’s room. Mrs. Granger pecked her daughter on the cheek before leaving her with Harry.
A speck of silence surrounded the two for a moment.
“Excited?” asked Harry. Hermione beamed at him, making her look ever so radiant.
“More than you’ll ever know,” she said, “I’m quite glad this day has finally come.”
She looked so blissful and joyful it hurt Harry to look at her. Her cheeks were as pink as petals and her eyes shone like stars. This was Hermione at her most glamorous state.
“I’m happy for you, Hermione,” said Harry, “Ron’s lucky. I’ve told him that over and over again. Just be happy, the two of you. It’ll make my day.” He spotted a tear develop in her eyes.
She opened her arms, “Come and give me a hug, Harry,” she said. Harry obliged as he wrapped his arms around his female best friend. He could smell the wonderful scent of daisies as he enveloped Hermione in his arms. He felt like he was about to give his sister away to the man of her dreams.
“Harry, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” she whispered in his ear. Removing herself from Harry, Hermione looked up at him with a meaningful expression on her face.
She was uncertain at first, biting her lip. Harry was wondering if she was to tell him that she wasn’t sure if marrying Ron was the right thing to do.
“I know that you were outside of Ginny’s room that night of the bachelor party,” she said.
Harry was momentarily stumped. Hermione knew.
She knew he was outside of their room that night. He felt his hands become cold once again at the memory of that night.
“I…I don’t know what you mean-“
“Oh c’mon, Harry, there’s no use lying now,” said Hermione, “I saw you.”
He tried to maintain his composure. He wouldn’t allow his emotions to reveal themselves in front of Hermione.
“I was just passing by,” he lied.
Hermione rolled her eyes, “No, you weren’t. I know for a fact that you were sitting outside the room,” she said, “Then the next day, Ron told me you left already, leaving him a note telling us that you left due to Ministry work.”
Harry could not look at her. He was racking his brain for excuses he can tell her. But this was Hermione…he knew it would be pointless.
She was eyeing him, piercing his surface.
“I thought otherwise,” she continued, then her hand touched Harry’s shoulder, “How much did you hear?”
Harry’s eyes finally met hers once more. She was not reprimanding him nor rebuking him for what he did. It was as if she was merely expressing her concern and was attempting to soothe him.
“All of it,” he answered shortly.
Hermione heaved a sigh and shook her head while Harry looked outside of the window. The memory of that night began haunting him once again and he could feel his insides churn unpleasantly.
“She was drunk, Hermione,” said Harry, “Ginny was probably off her rocker-“
“I don’t think so,” countered Hermione, “I for one believe that she was blatantly telling the truth she had hidden from us all these months. Goblets of wine enabled her to finally release what she had inside.”
“How would you know?” asked Harry, “Hermione, all those things she said…they don’t make sense. They can’t be possibly true. She can’t be in love with me. She loves Caleb. It’s enough to believe that all the words she said were drunken illusions.”
“Yes, they are, Harry,” she said, “If you yourself believe that everything she said was a hoax then why are you deeply affected?”
Harry looked at her. “I’m not affected,” he said.
“Yes, you are. I can see it in your eyes,” said Hermione, “Harry, you and I know full well that you believed every word that she said and you’re trying to deny it.”
He was about to argue but Harry chose to close his mouth. Hermione was telling the truth and she was flinging it to his face. It was true that Harry did believe every word Ginny said that night. It was why he was experiencing pain…
“I’m not denying-“
“Harry, please. You don’t have to lie to me,” said Hermione.
Silence filled the room once again. Harry found himself unable to look at Hermione’s eyes, fearing he might expose more than he wished.
‘Harry Potter, just answer this,” said Hermione.
Harry held his breath. He was preparing for the worst.
“Do you still love Ginny?”
The question was direct and blunt. He had been asked the same question for a number of times and he had never answered any of them directly. Most of the time, he would sway or practically avoid answering it. He considered it taboo to answer it. But this time-
Breathing deeply, he answered.
“Yes,” said Harry, “I still do. And I’m stuck.”
Hearing himself say those words created a wave of emotions within him. The fact that he had just admitted by word the unbearable truth had caused him of his momentary happiness.
Harry’s lip quivered, “Yes,” he said, “I’m stuck because I’m in love with her but I can’t do anything. I can’t tell her, I can’t get her back.”
The reality came crashing down as he uttered these words.
All this time, Harry realized that he had been trying to erase his affections for Ginny by distracting himself: Teddy, work…Cho. All it took was this confession of his to make him realize that he was not successful.
It was clear to him now that he will forever be in love with Ginny. Even if he dated Cho or any other girl for that matter, his heart will always be attached to hers, even if her heart was already attached to someone else.
She was the only woman he ever truly loved.
Her hand on his shoulder tightened its grip.
“I know that Ginny wasn’t lying when she told me she still loves you,” said Hermione, “I could see it in her eyes, Harry. She was telling the truth.”
“What do you want me to do, then?” he asked her.
Hermione frowned. “I’m not telling you to do anything. I’m just saying there’s hope-“
“Hope?” Harry asked incredulously, “Hermione, there is no hope.”
“How can you tell?”
Harry took a deep breath, “She’s happy with Caleb. You heard her. She loves him,” he said.
“But she loves you too-“
“And she’s not happy about it, right?” asked Harry, “Remember? She said she was terrified that she was in love with me. Hermione, she doesn’t want to be with me anymore. She doesn’t want to go back to those dark times…”
His voice faltered as he recalled Ginny’s voice…
There’s just too much that time cannot erase. The pain…the hurt…everything.
“I’ve caused her too much pain, Hermione,” he continued, “I can’t bear the bloody fact that I’m the reason behind her tears. She knows that I’ll mess up again. I don’t want her to wallow in disappointment over and over again.”
“But Harry, you don’t know you’ll mess up again,”
“No, Hermione. She knows,” said Harry, “Look…I don’t want her to suffer because of me. I may be still in love with her but I know that I can never cross the boundaries. I’ll just have to accept that fact.”
Hermione’s hand found its way to his face.
“Can you move on with that?” she asked.
For a moment, Harry did not speak.
Was it even possible?
“Maybe…maybe I don’t have to move on, Hermione,” he finally said, “I don’t have to move on, after all.”
“If it makes everything easy, then be done with it. I’ll have to live with it,” said Harry, “I don’t want to be a bother to Ginny or to any one for that matter. Hermione, I just want her to be happy…”
“I want her to be free…”
Tears threatened to fall from his eyes. Harry did not dare to let this show to Hermione.
He wanted Ginny to be free. He wanted her to be happy…
Even if it caused him his own happiness.
He took another deep breath then he forced himself to smile at Hermione. This was her wedding day; she shouldn’t be bombarded with depressing tales. Harry did not dare to ruin her day with his problems.
He touched the hand on his face. He looked at her.
“Hermione, please, this is your day,” he told her, “You’re getting married to Ron. You and I…we’re supposed to be talking about happy things. Don’t bother yourself with my troubles, please. The last thing I want is for you to be disturbed while you’re at the altar with Ron.”
“Harry, you’re my best friend,” she explained, “I love you like I’d love a brother. These past three years, I was always hoping you’d find your peace. Telling me you’d rather stay downcast for Ginny’s sake makes me worry more for you. I can’t live knowing you’re not okay.”
“I will be, eventually, Hermione. All I need is time,” said Harry, “I may not be alright now but I will be. Okay?”
He looked at her with assurance.
“C’mon Hermione,” he continued, “You don’t want Ron to see you frowning, do you?”
Hermione looked at him once more and managed a smile.
“Alright then, Harry,” she said, “Just promise me you’ll try to get better.”
Harry nodded his head and Hermione pulled him in for another hug. He could feel something wet on his chest. Apparently, they were tears from Hermione’s eyes. When they broke apart, he could see her crying and smiling at the same time. He wiped away the tears.
“Be happy,” he told her in the same manner she told him the same words months ago. Hermione nodded her head and pecked him on the cheek.
Harry stared at himself in the mirror.
He wasn’t able to go back to Ron’s room and report what he had seen for Mrs. Weasley was already busy fussing and fixing her son. Passing by the twins’ old room, Harry only managed to smile encouragingly at a distressed and somehow annoyed Ron.
He was already downstairs by the kitchen. Looking at himself, Harry deemed himself as quite presentable for the wedding. He brushed off the dust on his robes and attempted to tame his hair with no success.
The wedding was about to start in an hour and Harry was tasked to help in ushering the guests in.
He made his way towards the door and finally outside. The huge marquee caught his eye and he saw that a number of guests had already arrived. Harry saw many familiar faces as he headed towards the garden.
He saw Fleur Dealcour Weasley busy carrying her 3-year old daughter who was already a striking image of her. Next to her was her husband, Bill, who was also occupied with the minister who was to head Ron and Hermione’s wedding. Not far from them was Luna Lovegood who was wearing her vibrant yellow dress and beside her was a man Harry thought of as Rolf Scamander. Harry also spotted a number of classmates from Hogwarts and he was about to approach them when-
Harry stopped in his tracks at the mention of his name. He turned around…
In front of him was Cho Chang who looked incredibly beautiful in her blue dress. Her hair was plaited behind her and the sun’s rays bounced of them. She was smiling radiantly at him.
“You look dashing,” she remarked, looking at him from top to bottom.
“Thanks,” he replied, “You look stunning, Cho.”
A blush crept unto her cheeks.
“Well, how are the preparations?” she asked, looking around, “Everything looks gorgeous.”
“You should see Hermione,” said Harry, “She’ll probably outdo everything else.”
Cho smiled as she stepped forward. Harry felt that the moment called him to hold out his hand and escort her inside. He did.
He took her hand and they began walking inside of the marquee. He felt her hand enveloping his totally.
“Are you feeling alright?” he asked her.
“Quite woozy at times but I am taking those potions,” said Cho, “Any luck with my case?”
Harry shook his head. “We’re suspecting that whoever did that to you was quite skilled with the dark arts. Traces of dark magic were evident. However, the motive is still unclear and we…well, we have no clue that will lead us to the suspect,” he told her.
“I’m really sorry I’m not of much help,” she said, “I’ve been trying to recall what really happened but I often pass out when I do so.”
Harry patted Cho’s back, “S’alright, Cho. Don’t force yourself. You’re mum would get worked up,” he said. He ushered her to a seat nearby the opening of the marquee, hoping she would get some fresh air.
Harry saw her looking around at the guests.
“It’s quite an important occasion, isn’t it?” she asked, “I see that most of the Ministry members are here.”
“Well, both Ron and Hermione are well-appreciated in the Ministry,” said Harry, “And most of the members are quite fond of the two. Ron’s quite the comedian of the Auror Department and Hermione’s an important asset to the Law Enforcement.”
“I can see that,” remarked Cho as she watched the guests chatting away, “Weddings are beautiful, aren’t they, Harry?”
She turned her head to look at him. Harry saw that Cho was quite enchanted with the occasion. Her eyes were sparkling.
“Yes, they are,” he said.
Cho sighed wistfully. “I’ve always enjoyed weddings. They’ve made me hope that I would have mine someday,” she said, “I’ve always imagined myself donning a white gown and walking down the aisle and marrying the man I’ve always loved.”
She smiled at him.
“Can you imagine it? Saying yes to that person and spending forever with them,” she continued, “It doesn’t have to be easy, yes. But just being with that one person till the both of you grow old…it’s just a wonderful thought. Don’t you think so, Harry?”
For a moment, Harry’s smile threatened to fade at the thought. Cho was right when she said that marrying the person you love was the most beautiful experience a person could have. It saddened him to realize that he might never achieve this dream.
He suddenly imagined Ginny in Hermione’s dress. The image perceived in his mind was priceless.
She would look beautiful as he would expect. He imagined her smiling sweetly as she would walk towards him, clutching her father’s arm down the aisle. As she would walk, Harry could see himself envisioning his forever after with the only woman he had truly loved…
There was a pang in his heart.
“Yeah, it would be wonderful,” he said quietly.
His eyes wandered around the marquee. Everywhere he looked, he saw people chatting merrily or sharing laughter. Luna was standing on one side, a dream expression on her face as she talked with Rolf. Harry reminded himself to go talk to her once he had time. On another corner, he spotted his old professor, Minerva McGonagall looking disdainfully at gamekeeper and a dear friend of the trio, Rubeus Hagrid, as he spilled mead on his robes. Nearby was minister of magic Kingsley Shacklebot, who was in a deep conversation with Ministry officials. And by the opening of the marquee…
Harry momentarily froze.
By the opening of the marquee was Ginny Weasley and the sight of her made Harry’s stomach churn.
She was radiantly beautiful as she stood there. The golden dress Harry saw her fit herself at the dressmakers brought out the natural fairness of her porcelain skin. A small crown of white flowers was placed on top of her flaming red hair, which tumbled gently on her delicate shoulders. The small bouquet of flowers in her hand completed the image that simply swept Harry.
For a short while, Harry saw no one but her. Everything became a blur to him. He only saw Ginny…her delicate figure, her brown eyes, her fiery red hair…
She looked so beautiful it hurt Harry to look at her. It was as if he was a blind man who saw the sun for the very first time in his life.
Harry’s gaze was broken by Cho’s hand, which was waving in front of his face. He looked at her
“I’m sorry, were you saying something?” he asked. He was silently reprimanding himself for the lack of tact.
There was a look of suspicion on Cho’s face.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
“I’m fine,” he told her, “I’m just…was just thinking actually.”
He was sorely tempted to glance behind him once more. The image of Ginny was stuck in his mind and he couldn’t get rid of it. The way the locks of her fiery red hair fell on her shoulder…
“You’re thinking rather deeply,” commented Cho, still not taking her eyes off him.
Harry managed a smile but deep inside, he knew she was right. Inside his head, Ginny was dancing around its surfaces, blatantly making him remember every single detail he had witnessed for a short second.
“I guess I am,” he replied.
There was a short silence between him and Cho. She was looking around the marquee but Harry felt her eyes on him every now and then.
“Harry, I think they need you now,” she said.
She smiled at him. “I can see Ron’s brother trying to catch your attention over there,” she said and pointed behind him. Harry looked and he was thankful to see that Ginny was no longer standing by the entrance but George was beckoning him to come.
“That’s my cue, I reckon,” he said, standing up, “Will you be alright here, Cho?”
Smiling sweetly, Cho nodded her head.
“I’ll be fine, Harry,” she said, “Go on.” Harry noticed a sudden look of hidden uncertainty appear on her face. He felt as if Cho was hiding something from him.
He touched her shoulder. “Cho? Is there something you’d like to tell me?” he asked.
There was a look of hesitation on her face but she resolved to smile at him instead.
“I’m okay,” she said, “They’re waiting for you. I’ll meet up with you later after the wedding.” She touched his arm and urged him to go.
Harry hesitated to leave but when he saw George waving to him, he slowly made his way towards the opening of the marquee. Witches and wizards greeted him as he passed and Harry returned their greetings politely as he approached George Weasley.
“Everything alright, Harry?” asked George, clasping Harry on the back. He was dressed in jet black robes complimented with a polka-dotted bow tie. It was truly a George Weasley ensemble.
“Looking smart there, George,” replied Harry, also patting George on the shoulder.
“Ah well, with and without dress robes, I still look amazing,” said George, making Harry chuckle, “Sorry to cut our jokes short, mate, but Mum says you should take your position now. You wouldn’t want Mum to hex you, would you?”
Harry grinned as he shook his head.
“I’d like to fulfill my role as the best man if you please,” he replied.
“Then you’d better take your place now,” intervened a small, playful voice.
Harry turned around and saw Ginny standing right behind him, wearing a radiant smile on her face and twinkle in each eye.
He was gobsmacked at the sight of her.
She looked even better now that she was right in front of him.
“H…hello, Ginny,” he greeted, attempting to maintain posture, “You look…wonderful.”
Wonderful was an understatement.
Ginny blushed as she looked down at her dress. “Thanks,” she said, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear, “You look dashing yourself, Harry.”
“Thanks,” he replied.
There was silence between them.
Awkwardness settled within Harry as he avoided staring at Ginny. Her voice during that fateful night replayed endlessly inside his head. He couldn’t help but feel conscious and uneasy in Ginny’s presence.
Yet Ginny had no clue that he had heard her during her drunken state. He knew that she didn’t deserve his unease.
She flashed a small smile, “Reckon I won’t trip in this dress?” she asked as she twirled for him to see. As she did, Harry caught a whiff of her trademark flowery scent.
He laughed, “I don’t think so,” he said, “In fact, I’m more worried for Ron. I know your feet are steadier than his.” A laugh escaped her lips and Harry found himself magically drawn to the sound of it. Though he couldn’t help but feel the awkwardness within him, he also experienced happiness unlike any other at the sound of Ginny’s laughter…at the sight of her smile…
“Harry, there’s the good chap!”
A hand had clasped his shoulder. Turning around, Harry found himself face to face with a blond and blue-eyed Caleb Andrews.
Another cold feeling had erupted within Harry at the sight of Caleb.
“Hello there, Caleb,” he greeted, forcing himself not to express any unnecessary emotion, “How are you?”
Caleb flashed a smile, “Been pretty well actually. Stressed out with work but I know I can’t complain about it,” he said, “I must say you look dashing in your attire, Harry. Spiffing, actually.”
“Thanks,” said Harry, “You look well yourself too.”
“Me?” asked Caleb as he looked down at himself. He was donning navy blue robes which also brought out the color of his eyes and brighten his teeth, “Ah well, I look like every bloke in this room. You my friend, are an exception.” He gave a short laugh which stopped as he proceeded next to Ginny and wrap an arm around her.
“Now this…is true beauty,” he remarked, “Don’t you think so too, Harry?”
Yes…I think so too…more than you know…
“Yeah,” said Harry.
Caleb smiled as he planted a kiss on Ginny’s cheek. “I’ll be by the front, love. Looks like you’re about to begin,” he told her, “We can meet up later at the reception.”
“Alright then,” said Ginny.
“Harry?” asked Caleb, stepping forward, “Keep my Ginny company here, will you?”
Harry forced another smile on his face. “Will do,” he said shortly.
Caleb clasped his shoulder once again, “That’s a good mate,” he said, “Well, I’ll be seeing you both later. Ginny, love, would you be needing your hanky later on? I’ve got it in my pocket.”
Ginny nodded her head, “I’ll get it from you later. Why don’t you take a seat now? There’s a vacant one in the front,” she told him with a fond smile on her face.
“On my way, love,” he said, “See you later, Harry.”
Caleb made his way inside the marquee. Harry found himself staring at his retreating back, mind crowded with thoughts.
“He’s rather thoughtful, isn’t he?” he asked Ginny.
Spots of pink appeared on both of her cheeks. “Quite more than I deserve, actually,” she said.
Harry watched Caleb as he took a seat in the very front row.
“He must really love you,” he said unknowingly.
Ginny nodded her head, “Well, yes, he does,” she said.
Another wave of silence floated between them.
The sound of Mrs. Weasley’s voice broke the silence. Clad in her emerald robes, Molly Weasley hurried to their spot, a frantic and alert expression on her face.
“Take your positions,” she told them, “Harry, you are up front before Ronald. He’s on his way. Ginny, to the living room! Hermione’s waiting for you there.”
Before she left, Ginny touched his shoulder.
“I’ll see you later, Harry,” she said, “And I’d like to say…you look dashing.”
She smiled at him and without another word, proceeded to the Burrow. Harry watched her retreating back, her dress flowing behind her and her flowing hair swaying.
You look dashing…
There was something in the way she said those words. Harry could not help but replay her voice inside his head over and over again. He felt his ears tingle at the memory.
Harry’s reverie was broken by Ron’s voice. He saw Ron heading towards him, looking completely happy. He was practically skipping in delight. Behind him was his father, Arthur, who was donning dark mauve robes for the occasion.
“This is it,” said Ron as he stood beside Harry, “No turning back, eh?”
Harry grinned and momentarily forgot about Ginny. He clasped Ron on the back.
“It’s your day, Ron,” he said, “Probably one of the best days in your life.”
“Yep, and I’m glad you’re here to spend it with me, mate,” said Ron, “Makes me feel less nervous.”
Before Harry could even reply, Mrs. Weasley’s cry stopped him.
“Oh Ronnie!” she cried, “We must take a picture of you and Harry! Photographer, photographer! Over here! Before the wedding starts!”
The wedding photographer came bustling towards them.
“Say cheese ‘en,” he told them gruffly, awaiting Harry and Ron to resume positions.
Ron merely shrugged as he placed an arm around his best mate’s shoulder.
“C’mon, before Mum loses her sanity,” he whispered, nodding to his mother who was already crying. Harry laughed as he flashed a smile for the camera.
A string of music began to play in the air. Harry heard the guests inside the marquee settling in their seats and the chattering within had also stopped. They knew and Harry knew…
The wedding was about to begin.
The wedding procession had taken their proper places. Harry was the first one to walk down the aisle.
“Off you go, mate,” Ron whispered in his ear.
Harry grinned at him once more then faced the opening of the marquee.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
He made a small step. He took another…then another…and another one…
Harry was finally walking down the magically decorated aisle. As he walked slowly, he could see white butterflies flying above him and the wedding guests beaming at him. He saw Cho smiling at him as he walked. Flashes from cameras blinded him slightly but Harry did not stop walking. He kept his smile.
He proceeded towards the right side of the altar and his grin widened as Ron, accompanied by both his parents, began to walk down the aisle. Harry heard George, seated by the back, wolf-whistle as Ron made his way towards the altar. Ron’s smile was from ear to ear. It was truly evident that this day was one of the most joyous days in his life. Mrs. Weasley was clutching her youngest arm’s son tightly and tears were streaming down her cheeks as she waved and smiled at relatives. Mr. Weasley on the other hand held his head high as he beamed proudly at the guests.
Once Ron had reached the end of the aisle, he kissed his mother on the cheek and clasped his father’s shoulder. Mr. Weasley escorted his already sobbing wife to a nearby chair placed in the very front. Ron proceeded to Harry’s immediate left side.
“Overkill, huh?” he whispered. Harry only managed a small laugh as he watched the opening of the marquee and Fleur accompany her 3-year old daughter and flower girl, Victorie, down the aisle. Little Victorie threw white flowers in the air which stayed magically afloat. Her blue eyes, like her mother’s, shone as she and Fleur made their way towards the end of the altar.
The crowd’s attention was again drawn to the back of the marquee where a loud laughter of a child’s was heard. Harry grinned as he watched his godson Teddy begin to walk down the red-carpeted aisle.
Smiling widely, the 4-year old walked by taking one big step forward and pausing for a second. In his small hands, he held the pillow which held the wedding bands. Harry heard ‘oohs’ and ‘awws’ as the wedding guests watched the ring bearer flash his charm and beaming proudly as he made his way down the aisle.
Near the end, Harry held out his hand for Teddy to reach. The child squealed in delight at the sight of his godfather once again and hurriedly reached for Harry, barely letting the pillow fall on the floor. This earned a number of laughs from the wedding guests.
Harry held his godson’s hand as he heard the music swell. It indicated that the bride was about to arrive.
His eyes diverted once more at the back, to the opening of the marquee. He knew the person who was about to walk down the aisle. The music had taken a dramatic turn and butterflies became more abundant within the marquee. The flap of the tent opened and beautiful figure emerged.
Ginny Weasley stood at the very end of the marquee, a beautiful and radiant smile on her face. She was holding a bouquet of flowers in one hand and a white balloon on another.
Harry found himself breathless once again as he watched her slowly walk down the aisle. It was as if he was finally facing a dream that had materialized from his mind.
The crown of flowers on her hair gave Harry the image of a glamorous nymph or an enchantress living on her fortress of gold. Ginny was smiling sweetly as she took one step after the other, pausing in the middle. The music continued to swell to the extreme and Harry could feel his heartbeat pulsing and rushing.
This was the dream.
This was his dream.
Ginny made eye contact with him as she smiled directly at him. Once again, everything became a blur to Harry as he gazed at Ginny. The moment was only between him and her…only the two of them.
She released the white balloon in the air, which exploded and released a number of white doves and more butterflies and flower petals.
She was signaling the arrival of the bride.
Behind Ginny, the flap of the marquee opened once again to reveal the blushing bride.
Harry heard Ron release a small gasp.
Hermione, dazzling and blissful, began to walk down the aisle. She was accompanied by a teary-eyed Mrs. Granger and Hermione was clutching her father’s arm. Harry had never seen Hermione that beautiful in his entire lifetime. She was emanating a joyful aura which lit up her face and emphasized every delicate detail.
Once Hermione was near her, Ginny began to walk once again.
Harry could not take his eyes off her.
She was smiling around at everyone and Harry was quite sure that she was charming the mickey out of them. He watched her wink at Caleb who was smiling buoyantly at her. Harry felt his skin tingle at that sight but he did not dare to remove his eyes from her. He slightly glanced at Ron and saw that his best mate could not also take his eyes off the woman of his dreams.
Ginny made her way towards the left side of the altar, opposite Harry. Her eyes lit up towards him and flashed him a smile that made his heart melt. Harry was so enamored by Ginny that he failed to notice that Hermione had finally arrived beside Ron. She gave her father and mother a huge hug before they released her to Ron’s waiting arms.
Ron held out his hand for her to reach. Hermione, already teary-eyed and concealed behind her veil, grabbed hold of his hand and together they stood in front of the altar where the minister stood. She handed her bouquet of flowers to her maid-of-honor.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to celebrate the magical union of two faithful souls, Ronald Bilius Weasley and Hermione Jean Granger…”
As Harry watched Ron and Hermione, he couldn’t help but glance every now and then at Ginny. She wasn’t looking at him; rather she was quite focused on her brother. His eyes would always wander towards her direction and it gave Harry a hard time to focus on the ceremony.
“…as Ron and Hermione declare their vows to one another in the presence of their loved ones and slip on their rings…”
Harry stood erect as he began to listen to his friends’ vows to one another but everything surrounding him were blurring once more. He was sorely tempted to just stare at Ginny and never take his eyes off her.
“…and as your husband, I swear that I will make it one of my goals to annoy you less as possibly as I can. Although I’m going to need your help with it,” Ron was saying. Laughter erupted from the crowd and Hermione was also giggling behind her veil. Harry saw Ginny merely roll her eyes at her brother. Once the laughter had subsided, Ron continued his vows.
“I promise to protect you at all times, to accompany you whenever you are alone. I will always be there for you, Hermione, always. My entire bloody life will be spent only with you and our future children. I will always be with you. I will always be your best friend and I will love you forever, Hermione Jean Granger. Always…”
Harry spotted a tear roll down Hermione’s cheek as she beamed at Ron as he slipped the ring on her finger. Mrs. Weasley and Mrs. Granger were quietly sobbing down the front row and their husbands were constantly comforting them.
It was a very emotional moment and Harry found it somehow odd to see Ron very serious and very in love. Yet he knew it was one of Ron’s finest hours…
It was Hermione’s turn. As she began, Harry had once again allowed himself to look at Ginny. She was also teary-eyed like a number of the guests. She was smiling serenely as she watched Hermione declare her wedding vows to Ron. She finally caught Harry looking at her and at first; Harry thought his heart would jump out his mouth.
She merely shrugged at him and continued watching the ceremony.
“…and I promise to keep you in line whenever you lose your head. I promise to also try to control my temper and be more patient with you,” said Hermione, laughing and sobbing as she did, “I promise to stay by your side and always accompany you whenever you need me. I will always look after you, take care of your physical and emotional needs. I promise, not only to be your loving wife, but to remain your loyal and caring best friend. I love you, Ron, and I will love you and only you forever and ever…”
Harry glanced at Ron, who was already sniffing as he gazed lovingly at Hermione, who was slipped his wedding band on his finger.
“Now, it is time for the both of you to declare your joint vows to one another,” said the minister. Harry chuckled quietly as he watched Ron gulp. The joint vows were the promises Ron and Hermione made and memorized together. They were about to recite that vow in front of the congregation and Harry knew Ron was not comfortable with it.
He saw Ron puff his chest and nod at Hermione.
Together, they recited their joint vows.
“From this day on, I am forever yours…”
Harry found himself gazing once again at Ginny. He allowed Ron and Hermione’s voices echo behind him.
“You and I will stand together, no matter what and no matter where…”
Apparently, Ginny had felt his gaze. Slowly, her eyes lit up and gazed back right at him. The smile on her face slowly faded as she looked at him. It was not a sign of anger or coldness.
“I promise to be by your side at all times, your best friend. I promise to be your confidant and to be the comforter you deserve…”
Harry and Ginny’s eyes locked at that moment. Ron and Hermione’s vows floated behind them yet it was as if the vows were striking them…or they were at least striking Harry at least.
His breath fell short as he gazed at Ginny. He was completely aware that she was returning his gaze. For a brief second, Harry wondered if there were hidden words behind her look.
“…to never take you for granted and to remember your worth in my life…”
Harry saw Ginny’s eyes lit up at that particular sentence. Her gaze at him was boring thru his soul. He saw her bite her lip and a sad expression dawn on her face as she looked at him.
He knew she was trying to tell him something.
“I will be with you wherever you go. Decisions in life will be made by the both of us and I promise to respect your point-of-view. I promise to cherish you and to let this be known to everyone who will pass our lives…”
Harry could hear the audience sighing and he could spot their smiles from his peripheral vision yet he did not dare take his eyes off Ginny. He felt his godson tugging his sleeve and moving below him but he didn’t pay any attention.
“I promise to love you and only you for the rest of my life…”
It struck Harry.
I promise to love you and only you…
For the rest of my life…
Realization had once again settled within him.
That exact phrase described what Harry felt about Ginny.
Their eyes were still locked and he best hoped that she could see his feelings thru his eyes. A teardrop fell from her eyes.
He loved her…always had and always will. Even if she was contented settling into someone else’s arms, Harry knew that he will always love Ginny, no matter what the circumstance was.
And he fervently hoped that she knew about it.
“Do you, Ronald Bilius Weasley, take Hermione Jean Granger as your lawfully wedded wife? In richness and in poverty…in sickness and in health, till death do you part?”
Ron grinned as he answered, “I bloody do.”
Laughter and crying was heard amongst the guests as they waited for Hermione’s turn.
“Do you, Hermione Jean Granger, take Ronald Bilius Weasley as your lawfully wedded husband? In richness and in poverty, in sickness and in health, till death do you part?”
Hermione sniffed. She smiled as she cried and Harry saw her grip Ron’s hand tighter.
“I do,” she answered.
The minister pointed his wand at the couple’s entwined hands. A golden thread issued from the tip and slipped around their hands.
“By the magical power vested in me by the Ministry of Magic and by the witnesses, I now pronounce you man and wife,” he said. The golden thread continued to link Ron and Hermione’s hands and their eyes remained on one another.
The minister smiled warmly at the two as he withdrew his wand. “You may now kiss the bride,” he said.
Ron slowly removed the veil and revealed a teary-eyed yet ever so beautiful Hermione. She was smiling up at him as tears rolled down her cheeks. Ron leaned toward her and kissed her, his wife.
The audience burst into applause and wolf-whistles as the newlyweds continued to kiss. Ron lifted Hermione off her feet without breaking their kiss, further amusing the guests.
Harry was clapping along with everyone as he watched his best friends enjoy their piece of bliss and happiness. Teddy was jumping and dancing at his feet and kept on tugging on his dress robes.
Opposite him, Harry saw Ginny smiling and also gazing at her brother and her new sister-in-law. Her gaze then slowly returned to Harry.
They shared a quiet moment as they stared at one another. For a second, Harry forgot that he was in a wedding. As he stood there, he felt as if he was in a room and opposite him was Ginny…only Ginny.
The sound of rejoicing brought them back to reality as Ginny flashed a small smile at him. She nodded her head towards the two lovebirds and began to move towards Hermione’s right side, leaving Harry in his dazed and frozen state.
He felt something during that silent moment with Ginny. He knew…he felt something. It was no lie.
Ron’s voice broke his reverie as he saw his best mate indicating him to move closer. Hermione was also looking back at him, flashing the most radiant smile he had ever seen. There was a twinkle in her eyes…
Ginny’s back now faced him. He still felt a tingle as he gazed at her.
“C’mon mate!” said Ron, “Time for the pictures!”
A photographer had positioned himself in front of them. Setting aside his thoughts, he joined Ron and Hermione. He clasped an arm around Ron’s shoulder as he smiled at his best mate then smiled for the camera.
But deep inside…Harry remained lost in his thoughts.
He could still feel that warmth…
Amidst all the cheer and laughter…he was still lost.
Lost in Ginny’s eyes…
A festive mood had spread throughout the marquee as the tables were pushed aside and the guests flocked thru the middle. There was dancing, eating and merrymaking all around as the reception had begun. Left and right, witches and wizards were seen chatting and merely remembering the enchanting union they had just witnessed moments ago.
Ron and Hermione were seated in a table elevated at the end of the marquee. Everyone could see the newlyweds simply not minding their surroundings for a while and just gazing at each other’s eyes.
Waiters were bustling around, offering canapés, butterbeer, firewhiskey and the like to guests.
Outside the marquee, Harry Potter stood and was gazing at the sky, which was beginning to darken by the night. He was holding a wine glass in one hand and was absentmindedly shaking it. He was breathing evenly as he stared at the clouds, attempting to sort his thoughts.
His mind was still occupied with the same content.
The way they locked with each other during Ron and Hermione’s vows…
He heaved a deep sigh as he placed one hand inside of his pockets.
Harry turned around to see Cho heading towards him. At the sight of her, he felt instant guilt. His thoughts of Ginny had made him forgot that Cho was with him.
“Cho,” he said, “Are you alright?”
She smiled at him as she stood beside him. “Feeling fine,” she answered, then she glanced at him, “It was a beautiful wedding.”
Harry nodded his head, “Yeah, it was,” he said shortly.
“Everything seemed so romantic…”
He could feel Cho looking up at him.
“I must say that you played your part as the best man quite well,” she remarked.
Harry gave a short laugh, “Think I could open a best man service?” he asked. Cho laughed beside him.
“You’d do well…”
Cho sighed once again, “It was truly beautiful…I saw the love I’ve never seen before…”
Momentary silence followed. He could hear her breathing silently by his side. The warmth radiated from her skin.
“Harry, there’s something I’d like to tell you…”
He looked at her. Cho was gazing up at the clouds, a serene smile on her face.
“What’s that?” he asked.
Cho rubbed her hands together as she continued staring at the sky.
“I’ve truly appreciated the concern you’ve expressed for me these past few weeks. To be honest, I’m completely touched. I have never met anyone who cares just like you, Harry,” she began to say, “You truly are a selfless type of person.”
Harry sucked his breath. Although he too was touched at her words, he couldn’t help but feel alarmed at the same time. What was she about to say?
She didn’t take her eyes off the sky. “For the past weeks, ever since I first saw you again after many years, I have to say that you’ve grown on me, Harry,” she said, “In fact, I can honestly say that a day without seeing you feels rather…incomplete.”
He didn’t take her eyes off her. He refused to show her that he was beginning to feel quite uneasy. He didn’t want to hurt Cho’s feelings…
Cho shrugged, “I guess you could say that I’ve actually developed some feelings for you, Harry,” she said, “The very same feelings I had for you when I was sixteen.”
Harry was frozen. His insides churned unpleasantly and his hands became cold.
She held her hand up.
“Let me finish,” she said. Harry closed his mouth although he was sorely tempted to speak.
She continued to gaze, her smile remaining on her face.
“I’m beginning to care for you, Harry. I’ve grown quite attached to you,” she said, “I want you to be happy.” Saying this, she finally removed her eyes from the sky and turned to him. She placed both of her hands on his shoulders.
“Harry, for everything you’ve done for me, I want you to be happy,” said Cho, “Like I said, I care for you. I’ve grown to care for you. You matter to me and now that you do, there’s something I need to tell you.” She pulled him close, so close that her lips touched his ear. Her breath tingled his senses.
“Don’t be scared to go after what you truly want, Harry…” she whispered, “Even if it means defying boundaries.”
She slowly pulled away from him and saw the confused expression on Harry’s face.
He was puzzled with Cho’s words…although, he was beginning to somehow see what she was talking about.
“I know you love her,” she continued, indicating towards the opening of the marquee, “I’ve always known. And when I saw the way you looked at her today, I knew you would always be hers.”
Emotions stirred within Harry. He was deeply touched with Cho’s act.
She pulled him again for a hug.
“Thank you for everything, Harry,” she said, “You’ve been a delight to me these past weeks. The least I can do is encourage you to go after what you really want. Because if you’re happy then so am I.”
They pulled away from one another. Harry stared at Cho’s eyes and he could spot a tear beading in them. He wiped them away.
She smiled at him, “I’ll be going now,” she said.
“So soon?” he asked. Cho began to walk away.
“It’ll make it easier for you,” she told him. She flashed him another smile as she made her way out, “Goodbye Harry, see you around.”
Cho stopped in her tracks and looked back at him.
“Thank you also,” he told her, “I’ll be visiting you sometime soon, alright?”
She nodded her head, “I’ll be waiting,” she said and began to walk. Then she stopped once again, “Oh, and Harry?”
There was a twinkle in her eye. “Seeing Ron and Hermione’s vows wasn’t the only evidence of true love that I saw at the altar today,” she said. Without another word, she turned her back and disapparated before his very eyes, leaving Harry astounded and lost in emotions.
He was pondering over Cho’s words.
Don’t be scared to go after what you truly want, Harry…
Don’t be scared…
He gazed at the spot where she disapparated.
“Don’t be scared,” he murmured.
He looked back at the opening of the marquee and caught a flash of flaming red. That sight caused him to remember a pair of brown eyes…
At that very moment, Harry knew what he had to do. He would follow what Cho told him.
He took one step and then another towards the marquee.
His heart was beating wildly against his chest but he knew he had to overcome his fear. He would have to swallow his pride…
Because the truth shall set him free…
A/N: So sorry this chapter took so long :) I didn’t want to rush the writing because I feared I would ruin the moment I was hoping for. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter and I hope you’d look forward to the next. Chapter 18 will cover the reception and may I just say that Magic Works? Yes, that’s the title of the next chapter dear readers so please wait for it!
Also, this story will take a dramatic turn. One that you wouldn’t expect :)
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