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Chapter 24 : Chapter 24
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Harry landed in the brightly sunlit garden of the Burrow, the others landing close by except for Neville, who appeared in the middle of a small duck pond in the next field, he walked out of the pond and squelched into the garden.
“Done it again haven’t I?” He said morosely.
“Only you Neville mate.” Harry said smiling and patting him on the back, “Only you.” Bill produced his wand and waved it at Neville’s muddied dress robes,
“Scourgify” he said and Neville’s robes and shoes returned to their former pristine condition and his shoes and socks dried out instantly. Harry looked around and saw the same large marquee in which Bill and Fleur had been married. As he took it in, his legs shook and his stomach flipped. ‘Not now, please’ he thought trying to wish away the nerves that were suddenly turning him to jelly. Harry and Ron made their way to the house, and were met at the door by Molly.
“Just where do you two think you are going?” she had her stern face on. That meant no arguments.
“Morning Mum. We were going to get a cup of coffee.”
“Stay here. There are two brides in here that you are not supposed to see. I’ll bring some coffee out to you.”
“What if we need to use the toilet Mum, what do we do then?”
“There’s a pond in the next field. Use that.” said Molly with a grin.
Up in her bedroom Ginny was wearing her dressing gown after showering. Katie finished doing her makeup and hair. “Time to dress, Ginny, and remember that it’s best that you don’t sit down much afterwards or you’ll get too many creases.” Ginny stood and opened her wardrobe and reached to the back of the top shelf. She took out the package that she had placed there a long time ago and unwrapped it. Katie’s eyes popped out of her head. “Wow Ginny, you could give him a chance to resist at least.” Ginny smiled,
“I don’t see why I should” she replied with a grin, she removed her gown and started to dress in the articles she had unpacked. That done, Katie took the dress off it’s hanger and held it for Ginny to step into. Moving behind her, she raised the zip fastener at the back, then opened the flat case containing Ginny’s insignia of the Order of Merlin and carefully placed it on the dress below Ginny’s right collarbone. Ginny checked herself in the mirror and satisfied with her appearance said to Katie, “I’ll leave the veil for now and put it on downstairs. Now let’s get you dressed.”
“No, you go on down, I can see to myself. I’m sure you could use a cup of coffee or something stronger. Go on, I’ll be fine.”
Ginny went gingerly down the stairs and into the living room where her mother was fussing around Arthur. Jean Granger was doing the same to Hermione’s dad, Frank. Fleur was feeding Victoire from a bowl, spooning the food in at regular intervals. Molly saw her daughter and gasped aloud; Arthur turned and could only say, “Oh heavens Ginny, you look stunning.”
“Oui, Ginny, oh oui, c’est magnifique.” said Fleur, she turned the little chair that Victoire was sitting in. “Regarde Victoire, regardez Tante Ginny. Elle est très belle, oui?” 'Yes, Ginny, oh yes, it's magnificent. Look Victoire, look at Aunty Ginny, she is very beautiful, yes?' Victoire looked particularly disinterested as she waited for the next spoonful of lunch. It wasn’t many minutes later when Hermione joined them also in her wedding gown. the parental reaction was identical. The photographer fussed around posing the two girls for the official pictures. Non-moving photos would be taken for Hermione’s parents.
A large number of guests had arrived. The first person Harry really noticed was Rita Skeeter. Knowing that she had not been invited Harry approached her. “Why are you here?” he asked, just keeping to the nice side of polite.
“I’m covering the occasion for the Daily Prophet.” she replied confidently.
“Your paper was not asked to cover this wedding, nor did they ask permission to cover it. So why are you here?”
“Surely you realise the great amount of public interest there is Mr. Potter?”
“I realise no such thing,” said Harry, “so I think you should leave.”
“My readers have the right…” Harry was getting fed up with being polite.
“Your reader,” he interrupted, emphasising the singular, “has the right to nothing. If we had wanted publicity, we would have asked for it. So I ask you again, please leave.”
“Just give me a quote then.”
“OK here’s a quote. I have asked you twice to leave. Hagrid will be here shortly, if you do not leave immediately I am sure he will be only too pleased to assist you. End of quote!”
“Are you threatening me Mr. Potter?”
“Me? No not at all, but I’m sure Hagrid will, and remember, I know your secret so don’t bother coming back as a bug or a beetle. You might just get stepped on. Should you decide to write anything at all, just be sure it bears a reasonable resemblance to the truth.” Skeeter mouthed an obscenity and disapparated.
Ginny’s team mates from the Holyhead Harpies and England were gathered near the bar. Harry and Ron joined them and spent a few minutes chatting with them and congratulating them on their successes of the previous season. Gwenog Jones confided in Harry that she would be retiring in a couple of years and that by that time Ginny could be her recommendation to take over as captain. Harry was pleased to hear that, even when Gwenog implied that it would be better if Ginny did not have to take any time away from the game during that period for trivial things like babies.
“That will be entirely up to her,” He told Gwenog, “not me. I’ll go along with whatever she decides.”
“Doesn’t mean you can’t practice though does it.” said Gwenog with an innocent smile. The rest of the Harpies smiled, giggled and laughed in varying degrees. Harry grinned and excused himself. As they walked away from Ginny’s team another of them called out, “Remember Harry, practice makes perfect.” She made a rude gesture that made Harry squirm inside. Ron pointed at small group of teachers from Hogwarts, and the two of them moved over to join them.
Professors McGonagall, Sprout, Flitwick, Slughorn, Madam Hooch and Madam Pomfrey, the school nurse, smiled a welcome. Professor McGonagall spoke first, “Well, it’s nice to see you two turn up on time for a change, and looking quite presentable too. How are you Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley?
“Fine thank you Professor, but I haven’t been a student for close to three years now, please call me Harry.”
“Me too please.” added Ron.
“Why on earth would I call you Harry Mr. Weasley; your name is Ronald isn’t it, or would you prefer Bilius? Those are nice robes, I have to say. They’re not the same ones you wore to the Yule Ball that time are they?” Ron blushed furiously,
“Blimey Professor, do you remember everything?”
“Not usually, but you were a sight to remember that night.” Horace Slughorn gave Ron a pat on the back,
“So today you are to marry,” he winked at them, “no love potions involved this time I trust?”
“No potions Professor,” said Ron, “just my natural charm and good looks, she couldn’t help herself, poor girl.” Slughorn looked at Harry, eyebrows raised.
“He is kidding… isn’t he?”
“He believes it Professor, I’m not sure anyone else does.” Harry replied with a chuckle. Neville came to join them,
“Harry, your relatives have arrived. Charlie is taking them to the bar.”
Thanks Neville, be right there. Excuse me please professors, see you later.” He made his way to the bar and saw Charlie talking to his Aunty. “Hello Aunt Petunia,” he said looking around, “where’s Dudley?” Charlie grinned,
“He’s gone off with some girl. Alicia I think she said.”
“She’s OK. He’ll be alright with her. So Aunt Petunia, how are you?”
“Very nervous Harry. All these people, are they all…”
“Yes they are. Apart from the robes and funny hats they look quite normal don’t they? No need to be nervous. Come on let’s go find Dudley.” They soon spotted him with Alicia and Harry’s friends, Dean, and Seamus. “Alright there big D. Have these reprobates introduced themselves yet?”
“Yes they have Harry. They were just telling me about some of the things you got up to at school. Seems like you and trouble were old friends.”
“I had my moments I suppose. Aunt Petunia these are friends of mine, this is Dean, this spotty article is Seamus and this is Alicia.” Handshakes all round followed. Dudley took Harry by the elbow, they moved a short way away from the others,
“What do you think you’ll be doing about a year from now Harry?”
“Don’t know Dud, why do you ask?”
“I’d like you and Ginny to come to my wedding, if you would. Susie and I got engaged a few weeks ago.”
“What happened Dudley, did she forget to take her medication?” Harry could not resist the sarcasm. Dudley took it in good part and grinned,
“No smart mouth she didn’t. She’s a super girl Harry, you’ll like her. I thought about bringing her today but how could I explain… well you know.”
“Yeah, I can see that might be a problem. We’ll be happy to come Dud, I’ll look forward to it, but what about your dad?”
“He won’t be at the wedding Harry, he’s gone, he walked out about three months ago. He couldn’t handle the fact that he wasn’t the boss anymore. Mum was gutted at first but it’s much better without him. She knows that now.”
“Sorry to hear that, that must have been hard. I hope it works out for you.” They rejoined the group just as Neville found them again, this time he had Ron in tow.
“Percy wants us inside in a couple of minutes, Harry. It’s nearly time.” Harry turned to Petunia and lowered his voice,
“Dudley has told me about Uncle Vernon, I’m very sorry, I wish there was something I could do to help. Anyway I’ve got to go now Aunt Petunia. After the ceremony I’ll introduce you to Hermione’s parents, they are non magic folk too. In the meantime these guys will look after you. OK.” He kissed Petunia’s cheek. “I’ll see you later.” said Harry and turned to follow Neville, dragging a seemingly reluctant Ron with him.
They entered the marquee where Percy was busily instructing just about everybody in sight. The tent had been arranged with a central block of chairs separated by two aisles from smaller blocks on the outside. The whole place was festooned with bunting, flowers and streamers bearing the names of the two couples. A low platform at the front was brightly decorated in gold and white. On each side was a table with a large leather-bound book.
“Ah Harry, Ron, there you are. Listen carefully, the girls will come up each aisle. Ginny will be on the right and Hermione on the left. The ceremony will be conducted simultaneously by registrars from the Ministry, overseen by the top registrar. That’s really all you need to know. So how are you both feeling? Nervous I bet. Don’t worry about it. It will be over soon, you won’t feel a thing. Right, I’ve got to go and sort out the catering. Good luck you two, see you later.” They wandered back outside and came across Kingsley Shacklebolt talking to Aunty Muriel.
“Hello you two, it won’t be long now, you’ll be married men” said Muriel.
“Thanks for the reminder Aunty Muriel, I wondered what I was doing here.” said Ron. Kingsley smiled at the pair,
“If you will permit me I would like to say something.”
“Go ahead please Minister.” said Harry. Kingsley raised his right hand with the palm out. He spoke in a language that sounded almost musical in his deep bass voice. He lowered his hand as he finished speaking. Harry, Ron and Muriel were looking a little confused. He explained. “That is a blessing that my African ancestors used to give to young men on the day of their marriage. It calls on the gods to be bountiful to the men and that their wives will be er…fruitful, if you get my drift.”
“Oh I think they get your drift Kingsley, the bountiful part may be up to the gods but I doubt that these two will have any problem with the fruitful part.” said Muriel looking with a leer from Ron to Harry. Kingsley laughed loudly. Harry and Ron just blushed. Harry looked at his watch, then at Ron whose eyes seemed to say ‘get us out of here’.
“Excuse us Aunty Muriel, Kingsley, we have to go now. There’s something we have to do.” As they walked away Ron grinned and said,
“There really is something I have to do Harry.”
“What’s that?” Harry asked.
“You don’t think Mum was serious about using the pond was she?” Harry laughed,
“Well I don’t think we’re going to get in the house, so you had better find somewhere fast, because we are in a hurry.”
“We’re getting married and we daren’t keep the brides waiting you idiot. Come on.”
A.N. Thanks to Google Translate for Fleur’s French words.
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