“Wow, you look…” Dean was a little lost for words as Hermione stepped out of the bathroom and into their bedroom dressed and ready to go.
Her hair had been done that afternoon with Ginny in London and she had put so many spells on it to keep it in place she could almost feel the magic floating around her ears.
“You look amazing,” Dean finished drawing Hermione towards him and kissing her dark red lips.
“Ginny’s work,” Hermione said giving her boyfriend a twirl and letting him admire her all the more.
“Well if she can make you look this stunning let her make your wedding dress…please…”
“This coming from the guy who said we could elope and get married in jeans and t-shirts if I wanted,” Hermione laughed.
“Well I was just saying, let Ginny design it, her dress was stunning.”
Indeed it had been. A pure white dress with a sweetheart neckline (she seemed to favour those) tied at the waist with a sash of green that matched the bridesmaids dresses and Harry’s eyes, (Hermione was a little unnerved to be maid of honour in a dress that matched her best friends eyes). The dress puffed out and rested just below Ginny’s knee in a sort of 50’s style. She tied it all off with green shoes. Not what you would imagine from a wedding dress but completely Ginny.
Hermione remembered that Mrs Weasley had wanted the girl to wear a long traditional dress but Ginny had refused and even her mother had to admit in the end that she looked beautiful and full of life.
“If I look half as good as Ginny…”
“Hermione, don’t tell her I said this but…you always look twice as good as Ginny,” Dean winked.
“And you scrub up pretty well I must say,” Hermione said motioning to the black suit and bowtie he was wearing.
“Yes, at least if I die the last time you saw me I would have been looking decidingly dapper!”
Hermione hit him on the arm.
“Stop talking like that,” she cried, “you are not going to die, you will come home safe and come with me to the cringe worthy event that is going to be our engagement party!”
“When to the invites go out for that?” Dean asked.
“Next week, your mother called me up this morning to tell me.”
“I’m not going to lie,” Dean said as sat down on the bed and laced his shoes, “I am so glad that you women feel that I am too much of a man to get into things like this.”
“When truth be told you’re enough of a girl to know exactly what to do,” Hermione giggled.
“Hey I grew up with three sisters okay, it’s not my fault we used to play weddings instead of normal things that boys do.”
“That’s it isn’t it Mr Thomas,” Hermione said in mock shock, “you are going on this mission and leaving all the hard work to me!”
Dean smiled, stood up and drew Hermione into his arm, “well Mrs Thomas-to-be. That might just be the reason.”
And though Hermione was giggling he bent down and kissed her.
“I wish you didn’t have to go,” Hermione said when she pulled away, “what am I going to eat?”
“Why don’t you go and stay at the Weasley’s that is where Ginny is going,” Dean said.
It was true and a tempting idea. It would be like summer again and Hermione would be able to see Lexi without having to look after her all of the time.
Ginny was staying there until Harry returned so she would have someone to look after her when her training resumed. Apparently that first month of training after the break is the hardest and Mrs Weasley insisted that her only daughter was fed properly.
Lexi was staying there because her mother had not returned… still. Ron could not get hold of her and they were so worried that they had sent people to the ministry in France to look but in the meantime, while Ron was away Mrs Weasley would be taking care of the girl.
“I’ll see what I feel like after a few days,” she said glancing up at the clock on the wall, “we should go or we will miss our time.”
“Wait,” Dean said as he pulled a box from his jacket pocket and gave it to Hermione.
“Oh Dean you shouldn’t have…”
“I wanted to,” he smiled, “it’s nothing amazing…”
Hermione opened the box and inside found the most beautiful watch she had ever seen. It looked like a lacing of white gold and silver platted together to make the strap with stones of red and dark blue around the clock face.
“Read the back,” Dean said as Hermione turned the watch over.
Never forgotten, forever loved.
The words of the war, for those who died in the war. Hermione looked up at Dean.
“The words of the war so you will remember how strong you were and words that mean exactly what I will feel when I am gone,” Dean said.
Hermione couldn’t say anything, tears were threatening in the corner of her eyes and she really really didn’t want to cry and then turn up in front of everyone a complete wreck. So Dean simply placed the watch on her wrist and she kissed him hard and passionately knowing it was the last time she would be able to for a month and they stepped downstairs and onto their front steps.
Hermione checked the time on her watch and when it hit 7:08 exactly her and Dean span on the spot and apparated to the Avalon Gardens.
She felt a little off balance as Dean helped her down from the platform and through the large iron gates into the gardens.
They were truly beautiful. Hermione had only been there once before, the year previously when they held the same sort of dinner but this year they had truly surpassed themselves. Right in the centre of the gardens there was a huge round stone patio that held a tall obelisk that was engraved with each of the names of the people lost in the war. The first and second war and those lost fighting in between. Harry’s parents, Sirius, Lupin, Dumbledore, Fred were all on there. Even Dobby the house-elf though Hermione had had to fight hard for it.
From above the garden looked like a sun, one central patio of stone with walkways in-between beds of flowers and plants that made up the rays. Yet at the end of each path there was a different garden representing different things. Five paths not including the path away from the garden. Each garden was surrounded by a stone wall and each gate to each garden had the gardens name written on it in gold lettering.
There was the garden of remembrance, the first on the left, where families and friends of those lost where able to plant flowers or even trees in their name. Fred had a honking daffodil plot because George thought it would be funny and Tonks and Lupin had a rose bush each, one white, one red, and Harry and Teddy had planted them so that as they grew they intertwined.
There was the garden of dreams, the second on the left, which when the walker entered they would fall into a daydream and the whole world would disappear. It could be a little dangerous to enter that garden. The year before Hermione had fallen into a daydream so powerful she had been missing for over an hour when Dean had found her an placed a forget-me-not in her hand.
If you held the flower while walking in the garden the dream would not take you over and you could walk to the pool of dreams and drop your dream or wish into the pool and it might come true. Hermione’s did, she had wished that they would let her put Dobby’s name on the obelisk. Apparently Dean’s had. She had said yes when he asked her to marry him but he had only told her that yesterday.
The first garden to the right was the garden of forgiveness. In this garden there was always a layer of snow and snow clung to every tree and plant and bench in the place. In the centre there was cauldron of fire and in this fire, when people were ready to forgive they would bring a piece of parchment with that person’s name on it and burn it in the fire.
Hermione had done just that almost as soon as the garden had been built. Draco Malfoy had gone into the fire and his name was never mentioned on her lips again unless necessary. Harry had burnt Voldemort and Ginny had burnt Rookwood. Molly was yet to burn anyone, she could not forgive.
“I burnt Snape,” Neville told Hermione in a conversation about the cauldron the previous year, “he was a good man really and I needed to forgive him for the fear I felt around him. It wasn’t his fault, he was just lost and I was a boy that didn’t understand. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be an auror.”
The forth garden which was the second garden to the right was the garden of love. Hermione had thought it was cheesy but then again they needed it. It was full of roses and the wild scents of summer. There were fountains and statues and an avenue of apple trees and even a swing made of strong twisted ivy and white wood. Hermione liked the garden because it felt like the sort of garden you could spend hours reading in but it was not her favourite.
Hermione’s favourite garden was the fifth garden. The one directly opposite the entrance (though of course it had the central garden in the way). It was called the garden of Mysteries and Hermione couldn’t help but wish she had one of those for herself.
The garden of mysteries was more like a forest yet anyone who stepped on the path was led somewhere different. Ginny and Harry told Hermione that when they had walked through the trees they had come to a clearing and in it there was a Quidditch pitch.
“I had been talking about wanting to play and Ginny had said I would never save one of her balls. When we went it came to us and we played,” Harry had said.
Hermione had found that her path had been long and that first time she went it had opened out into a beautiful garden full of flowers with a shelter at the heart of it and butterflies fluttering around. It had been beautiful and Hermione had never forgotten it, yet when she tried to take Dean there it had been different and instead they had come out in a small clearing with swing for them both to sit on strung up between two trees.
Hermione desperately wanted to find the garden again. It made her feel at peace with herself. It had made her relax but there were other things that needed to be done first and the dinner was in the main garden not any of the little ones.
The main garden had been covered in a large white tent with the obelisk as its centre pole. There were no sides and Hermione was grateful. The flowers smelled so beautiful they even masked the smell of the food that was being cooked at a food station not far from the tent itself.
Underneath the huge tent there was a stage set up underneath the obelisk and behind that was where the tables were all set up but they were cordoned off until later. There was a band on stage and they had started playing by the time Hermione and Dean entered and everyone was milling around with drinking in their hand.
Hermione took one from a passing waiter and whilst being snapped from many photographers she had her way over to where the Weasley’s and Potters stood. She took them all in before announcing her presence. Ginny was right, she did look beautiful even in a simple gown. Fleur was dressed in a black dress that ended at her knees and cut across her collar bones. Very conservative for the woman whose wedding dress was made of feathers but the floating sleeves of Fleurs dress was pretty and Bill couldn’t stop looking at her. Percy’s wife was heavily pregnant and a little red in the face but she seemed happy enough while he had his arms around her supporting her.
Ron was there dressed up almost as smart as he had been as Harry’s best man but both boys had undone their ties already annoyed at the dress code.
“Harry Potter if your mother was alive she would tell you to do that tie up,” Hermione smiled as she walked over to him and gave him a hug.
“I have told him,” Ginny said chiding her husband but curling her hand around his at the same time.
“She made me wear a bow tie,” Dean said to Harry and the latter guy laughed.
“You look stunning Hermione,” Harry said taking her in, “I can only wonder who we can thank for that.”
“Beautiful izn’t she Bill,” Fleur said but Hermione didn’t take offence when Bill answered with a yes but only glanced at her before returning his eyes to his wife.
“Where is your mother and…” Hermione started.
“Gone to tend Fred’s plants with Dad and George,” Ron cut in quickly, “Angelina’s there too.”
Hermione smiled. Good he had brought Angelina. Hermione was grateful to her; she was the one who had managed to get George talking to her after he had found out about Draco. At least they were on speaking terms now.
She took a sip of her drink as Percy led his wife off to sit down somewhere and Bill went to dance with Fleur.
“I hope you boys are all ready,” Hermione said at the three of them.
“Afraid we can’t tell you that,” Ron laughed and Dean squeezed her waist in reassurance.
“We will be fine,” he said and kissed the top of her head.
“Yes they will,” Ginny said, “or I will search them out and kill them even if they are already dead.”
“Thanks Gin,” Harry said.
“No problem,” the girl smiled back.
They watched people drift in and out, they talked to ministers and friends and even Professor McGonagall who had continued to help Hermione after her school life. Hermione could see Neville with Professor Sprout and Ron had gotten to drinking with some of the interns which she didn’t think was a good idea considering that they would be flying out early the next day.
“Hermione,” Mrs Weasley called from across the tent where she stood with her husband.
They motioned her over and when Hermione reached them Mrs Weasley drew her into a big hug.
“Congratulations Hermione,” she said, “I haven’t seen you since Ginny told me but I hoped you liked the flowers I sent.”
“They were beautiful,” Hermione said, “thank you.”
“There was a time when I thought you were going to be my daughter-in-law,” Mr Weasley said.
“Well it is true Molly and though we would have been delighted to have you in the family…well we are glad you are happy.”
“And you are a part of the family to me anyway,” Mrs Weasley added on.
“Thank you,” Hermione said gratefully, “I’m glad you can think of me that way.”
And she was. She might not be with Ron like everyone had expected but being a Weasley was important to her. The fact that they still cared enough about her to treat her like family was better than marrying into them.
“The minister told us to tell you they were about to make the speeches and that you needed to be one stage,” Mr Weasley said quickly as if he had just remembered and pointed her over to the stage where the minister was gathering everyone around.
Hermione said a quick goodbye to the Weasley’s and waved at Dean who was chatting to Seamus as she walked over to the stage and stood there with Harry and Professor McGonagall, all who were waiting for the minister to introduce them so they could say their piece.
While the minister talked Hermione scanned the crowd. Dean was smiling up at her as Seamus whispered something to him which made his eyes flash dark. Hermione rolled her eyes to herself. They were like second Weasley twins when they got together.
Her eyes moved over to the Weasley clan who were smiling up at them and Ginny put two thumbs up to her which made Hermione want to tell her that she would be fine even though she felt completely nervous.
Her eyes floated over the people as she tried to distract herself. She would be fine, she would make her speech, walk away and no one would think that she was nervous. But as Kinsley’s voice sounded over the guests Hermione’s eyes caught a flash of blonde hair. She had to look twice but as Kinsley said her name and her eyes focused in on the back row of people bile rose in her throat and her head span because standing at the back of the room with his trademark smirk on his face was Draco Malfoy.
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