Chapter 1 : Expectations
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Chapter 1: Expectations
“I’m engaged!” squealed my best friend Dominique Weasley from across my small, circular kitchen table. “Vince proposed to me in front of the Eiffel Tower last night! He actually proposed! I’m getting married, Gwynneth!”
It was seven o’clock in the morning but that hadn’t stopped her from barging into my flat. (Actually, she floo’ed, but still.) You see, Dom was supposed to be in France for the whole summer. Which would explain why I had been so shocked to see her tall, slim figure standing in my brick fireplace on this rainy July morning.
As I sat across from her, I took in her perfectly coordinated outfit, make-up, and hair. She was wearing a white summer dress that showed off her tan nicely, and her curled blonde hair bounced with every movement, making me feel extremely inadequate. I hadn’t had time to even consider changing out of my fuzzy pink kitty pajamas before her colossal diamond ring was being shoved into my face. Regardless, I couldn't hide the joy I felt at the news of her engagement.
“Dom, that’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you, congrats!” I gushed. I still somehow could not wrap my mind around it though. Dominique was getting married to the honey blond, blue-eyed, tall-and-extremely-fit Vince Wood, son of the famous Quidditch player, Oliver Wood.
Then again, I guess I really shouldn’t be so surprised. I mean, they have been dating since the beginning of our sixth year at Hogwarts.
We are now twenty, which means Dom and Vince have been together for five whole years. I never imagined that Dom and Vince would be the first ones out of all of us to settle down. Hell, no one did. Honestly, both of them are just too outgoing and energetic to be tied down so soon, and they’ve always said so themselves. Obviously, they had changed their minds.
“Gwynn, it was so romantic! He took me to this beautiful muggle restaurant that my Tante Gabrielle recommended and the food was just to die for and then we went for a walk in the moonlight along the Seine River and when we got to the Eiffel Tower, he stopped out of no where and dropped down on one knee!” She began to tear as she told me all this, but continued anyway. “Then he read me this beautiful speech he had prepared and then he presented me with roses that smelt like the perfume I wore on our first date back at Hogwarts – our first date! Like, how does anyone even remember something like that? Gosh, I swear it was by far the cutest thing I have ever witnessed and there was even a muggle band playing in the background!”
She stopped and sighed blissfully. Suddenly, she straightened up and looked me in the eyes. “Gwynn,” she said earnestly before taking a breath and continuing, “Will you be my maid of honour?” She looked almost nervous, as if I would say no.
“Is that even a question?” I asked her incredulously, breaking into a smile as I reached over the table to hug her.
It was a given, even an expectation. Dominique and I have been best friends since we were eleven, along with her cousin Molly and our other friend Viviana (who just so happens to be Vince’s twin sister). The four of us had been Hogwarts’ most prominent clique. To be honest and frank, we had been popular. We were the four girls every boy wanted to be with and the four girls every other girl wanted to be. ...Which I personally still think is ridiculous and bizarre, even to this day. I mean, other than the fact that Dom and Molly are Wotters (Weasley-Potters, a.k.a. the children of the folks who saved the Wizarding World), we’re honestly just like any other group of friends who had all been put in the same house (Gryffindor) in the same year.
To begin, there’s Dominique, the loud girly-girl who never fails to be dramatic.
Next is Molly Weasley: responsible, super strict, and – not surprisingly – Head Girl in our seventh year.
Then there’s Viviana Wood, the Quidditch all-star and ultimate party girl (and a rowdy one at that).
Last but not least, there’s me: Gwynneth Hastings. I’m “should-be-in-Ravenclaw” smart and mostly known as the ex-girlfriend of James Sirius Potter. James and I were Hogwarts sweethearts who started dating during our fourth year. Everyone thought that we would be the first ones married out of our group.
Our group consists of Dom, Molly, Viviana, and I (“the girls”), as well as James Potter, Vince Wood, and Fred Weasley (“the boys”). Fred is cousins with Molly, Dom and James. (I’m telling you, those Wotters breed like rabbits.) Unfortunately however, our group split after Hogwarts. Nowadays, I only talk to the girls. And Vince.
James and I had been inseparable. So inseparable that everyone expected us to get married straight out of Hogwarts. And we would have, because he did actually propose to me after graduation... But I had declined. Obviously. Otherwise we would still be dating by now, or we’d even be married. Which we are not. In fact, we’ve hardly spoken since. That was about four years ago. (And two months and three days, but I’m not keeping track or anything.)
Ever since our proposal mishap however, it has been incredibly hard to avoid him. These past “single” years have been one huge bundle of awkwardness. I even tried to move to Mexico at one point, but Mum and Dad wouldn’t have it. So I settled into a muggle London neighbourhood instead, in a flat far away from wizards and witches alike.
Of course, between the Witch Weekly articles and James being a Potter, there is no way for me to completely escape him and the gossip.
In the beginning, I hardly left my flat unless it was to go to work. I work as an Unspeakable in the Department of Mysteries, so it is completely acceptable for me to be out-of-sight by others. Eventually though, I kind of just gave up trying to lay low because everywhere I went, I saw or heard about him anyway. He is a famous Falmouth Falcons Quidditch player after all. And he’s a freaking Potter.
I am continuously being reminded of my mistake though. Hell, the story of our proposal and break-up is famous itself. I am the girl who turned down the "perfectly smart, athletic, funny, caring and handsome" (Witch Weekly's words, not mine) James Potter. I "broke the heart of the Chosen One’s oldest son" and if I’m being honest, I kind of regret it.
In spite of it all, I still tell everyone that I’m over him and that it is perfectly okay for him to go out with whomever he likes. Most recently, according to Witch Weekly, he and his female teammate Leah Rosetta have been having an on-again off-again thing. (Not that I keep tabs on him or anything... Seriously. This shit is everywhere in the media. Don’t look at me like that.)
I know it's too late to go back anyway. I'm pretty sure he's moved on. He avoids me like the plague, and I do the same to him. At this point, I’m too embarrassed to be in the same room as him. I messed up and I'm positive that he doesn't want anything more to do with me. Frankly, I don’t blame him.
Yeah, you can say that my life is a sad, sad, sad song on replay.
“Gwynn, this is going to be perfect! You as my maid of honour, Molly and Viviana as bridesmaids – we’ll all be together just like our Hogwarts days!”
Too bad Hogwarts days remind me of James and all the other pointless drama we had in our lives. But I nodded enthusiastically anyway as I added more milk into my tea.
“Oh! Vince chose his entourage as well! Zander Windsor – you remember him right? He's Vince's teammate? No? Ah well, you'll meet him, he's great. Him and Freddie are the groomsmen,” she said cheerfully, then faltered before saying the rest of the sentence in one rushed breath, “and, er... Jamesisthebestman.”
I stopped mid-stir.
Ah, so that was why she sounded nervous asking me to be maid of honour... Because James is going to be the best man.
Fabulous. This is going to be great. Excellent. Wonderful. Spectacular. Absolutely perfect! I am just ecstatic and bursting at the seams with PURE JOY!
I don't know why it didn't dawn on me sooner. Naturally Vince would choose James as his best man. Like Dom and me, Vince and James are best friends as well.
Bloody hell. The embarrassment and awkwardness will be suffocating me each time I take a breath.
Dom immediately started rambling, trying to make the situation sound somewhat reasonable.
Let’s just say she is failing miserably.
“I mean, you two will hardly have to associate with each other, except at like, the wedding and all, but like, it’ll be fine Gwynn! Honestly, there will probably be no awkwardness between the two of you at all. James will be too busy focusing on the wedding – I know my cousin! He’ll be so busy making sure his best mate and his favourite cousin have the absolute best wedding ever, so really, you don’t have to worry! James loves both Vince and I so much he won’t even have time to focus on you!”
“I thought Freddie was his favourite cousin?” I asked, recovering from the news. Somewhat. Maybe. Not really.
“That is besides the point, Gwynn!” she sighed, exasperated. Then she reached over to grab my hand, knocking her cup of tea off the table in the process. “Just – ugh. Will you pretty please still be my maid of honour? I need you! Don’t back out on me now! Please, Gwynnie!” She was giving me her classic pouty face.
As much as I want to avoid seeing the person behind my biggest regret and mistake a.k.a. the Chosen One’s son, I have to do this for Dominique. It's my duty as her best friend, and besides, Molly and Viviana would never do it. Not if they were paid a trillion Galleons. Knowing them, Molly would try to sabotage the wedding and Viviana would be too smashed to even care.
I guess I should explain that bit. Molly had the biggest crush on Vince during the good old Hogwarts days and she’s never really forgiven Dominique for “stealing” him (her choice of words, not mine). In my opinion, Molly still fancies the pants out of that fit Quidditch bloke. So this wedding will probably be the death of her.
Then we have Viviana who will most likely spend this joyous wedding drinking, smoking, flirting shamelessly with every man she sees, or all of the above. You see, Viviana got into hardcore partying back in our fifth year, courtesy of Fred Weasley. And, well, let’s just say that old habits die hard.
So, for Dominique‘s sake – and quite frankly, Molly’s and Viviana’s – I had to do this.
“Alright,” I sighed. "I'll be your maid of honour. And I promise I won't back out."
“EEEEK, this is going to be perfect! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” Dom squealed, clapping her hands like a retarded seal. She straightened up and got back to business. “Now, Vince and I are planning on having our engagement party this autumn, once we’re back from France. Then we’re thinking of a summer wedding, on the beach? With a white-coloured theme? Or gold, we're not sure yet. I can't decide. Or, oooohhh," she gasped, "maybe both? What do you think? Better than Vic's horrendous lilac and silver theme that she had for her wedding? It'll probably be at Shell Cottage though, if Maman and Père are okay with it!”
“Have you two told anyone yet?” I smiled amusedly. She was so bubbly and happy that I almost forgot I was going to be associating with James throughout this whole thing. Almost.
“Well, no, just you and James, and our parents of course. But don’t worry, I’m planning on telling Moll and Viv before I floo back to Paris this afternoon. I’m sure they’ll both be thrilled! I mean, we get to have a freaking bachelorette party and we’ll all have so much fun! I swear it’ll be like Hogwarts all over again!”
I nodded and pointed my wand at the spilled tea pooled around our feet. It vanished, and I redirected my wand at the surrounding broken mug pieces and they came back together to become a whole mug again. With the new mug, I poured Dom a fresh cup of tea and plunked it down in front of her.
“I just cannot believe that this time next year I’ll be married,” she sighed, stirring her tea with a dreamy look on her face. “My wedding will be perfect. So perfect that it will kick Victoire's wedding’s arse!”
“It’s definitely going to be something else,” I agreed. What with the sibling rivalry, Molly’s torn feelings, Viviana’s party animal tendencies, and the situation with James and I, there was no doubt in my mind that this wedding was going to be something.
Five Weeks Later
“Gwynn, can you pass the pepper please?” Molly asked as we ate our lunches in The Sage lounge.
The Sage was a restaurant run by the Thomas family. Dean Thomas is the owner and he apparently played a large part in the War which defeated Voldemort, so this place was rather well known. Candle lights floated throughout the dimmed place, so although it was one in the afternoon, the lounge was sparsely lit. It was, however, packed with witches and wizards as per usual. Molly, Viviana and I had decided to come here so we could discuss next Saturday.
See, a few days ago, we all received invitations for Dominique and Vince’s engagement party which takes place next Saturday. Let me be clear though: I am not talking about your typical, traditional invitation. No. We all received extravagant invites that were heavily floral scented, scrawled in elegant pink handwriting, and packed with gold sparkles that exploded out of the envelope as soon as you opened it.
My flat is still covered with the over-the-top sparkles.
If this was what the engagement party invitations looked like, I didn’t even want to know what surprises the actual wedding invitations would hold.
I had been looking forward to this lunch with the girls all week. I haven’t really been able to talk to Dom since she’s still away in France, and I really needed to vent my worries and concerns about this damn engagement party. Thankfully, so did Molly and Viviana. Thus, we decided to have this lunch date.
Molly and I were both half way through our salads as we waited for Viviana, who was late and most likely outside smoking. I swear that girl will be late for her own funeral.
“Fuck, sorry I’m late girlies.” Speak of the devil.
Viviana walked up to our table, her blonde hair in a messy bun. The make-up surrounding her baby blue eyes was smudged. She was wearing black leggings and an over sized jumper, essentially looking as if she had just rolled out of bed.
“What, may I ask, were you doing?” Molly asked pointedly. Just as Viviana opened her mouth to retort, Molly held up her fork to stop her. Commence the judging. ”Wait! Let me guess! You had a one night stand, you have an extremely bad hangover, and then you decided to take your time having a smoke, even though you knew you were already late.”
Viv didn’t say anything. Instead, she sat down and daintily placed the cloth napkin on her lap.
“I’m right aren’t I?” Molly asked, spearing a piece of lettuce. You could hear the disapproval in her voice.
“Ha, ha, Molly,” Viviana sneered. Insert her middle finger here. “You're bloody hilarious. If you already knew, then why did you ask?"
“You’re not going to even try and deny it?” I asked, bemused, as I took another bite of my salad.
“Nope,” she replied cheerfully as she flipped through the menu. We waited for her to continue, which she did, as always. “It was some muggle bloke from the pub down on Kingsbury, I don’t even really remember. I think his name was Angus.”
I snorted into my salad as Molly muttered, “Of course you don’t."
Viviana is the biggest party animal I know. She’s a wild child who lives off of her parents, and even she admits it. Her job is writing a Quidditch article once a week for the Daily Prophet, which isn’t really taxing work. I think she just needs to grow up, because in all seriousness, the act was getting a tad old.
After more food and drinks were ordered and brought out on floating trays, it was time we got down to business. Molly was the one to start the conversation.
“So, look. This wedding puts us all in different situations, and I know you are both just as displeased with that fact as I am,” she said, tucking a lock of her curly red hair behind her ear before continuing, “and I think that we can all agree that Saturday is going to be just the beginning of this shitshow... But we should try anyways for Dom.”
“You mean for Vince, right?” Viviana winked knowingly before taking a bite of her pumpkin pie.
“No! Well, yes – I mean,” Molly sputtered. She sighed before trying again. “What I mean is, we’re the bridal party, so we have to behave. This is for both Dom and Vince.”
I rolled my eyes at this. She still loves Vince, no matter what she says.
“Which means, no hiding from our exes,” she looked at my directly and I rolled my eyes, “and no inappropriate behaviour.”
We both looked at Viviana, who slammed her glass down onto the table. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
Molly rolled her eyes. “Viv, honey, it means: no drinking, no drugs, and no swearing.” She ticked off each of these on her fingers for emphasis.
“FUCK, this is going to be a gongshow. And my whole overbearing family are going to be there, too,” Viviana huffed.
“My family are all going to be there too, and let me tell you, I am not looking forward to seeing my new cousin-in-law either,” Molly quipped. “I’m going to have to pretend to be so happy.”
Okay, so maybe my whole family wasn’t going to be there, and maybe I wouldn’t have to make myself seem like a perfect representation of a respectable young lady, but still, I had my own problems to worry about as well.
“WellIdon’twanttoseeJames,” I said quickly.
Cue awkward staring from Viviana and Molly.
“I thought you were over him?” Molly rolled her green eyes. “Seriously, it’s been four years, Gwynn.”
“Yeah, and I thought you were over Vince.” I looked at her pointedly.
Viviana coughed. Then she took a sip of her wine.
“Touché,” Molly said in surrender, dropping her napkin onto the table.
Just then, our waiter walked up to our table. “Ladies, is there anything else I can get for you? More water perhaps?”
Viviana perked up and smiled sweetly, holding out her now-empty wine glass. “Actually, may I have some more –”
“NO,” Molly and I both said loudly as we shooed the waiter away. Viv’s face dropped but we ignored it.
“Seriously though, what are we going to do about Saturday?” I asked the girls.
Viviana sighed. “Dress super cute and be respectful. Give the impression that we are mature."
“Why dress super cute? I thought you were ignoring Fred?” Molly questioned.
“I am ignoring Fred,” Viv hissed.
“Why are we ignoring Fred? Shouldn’t we be ignoring James?” I asked, confused.
“Never mind,” Molly said with a wave of her hand. “Let’s just try to all be civil with everyone.”
“Which means no bitching out Dominique, but rather pretending to be happy for her and Vince, right Moll?” Viv nudged Molly with her elbow.
Molly shoved her arm away but nodded in agreement. “Then you shouldn’t be late, Viviana.”
“Oi, fuck off.”
“Guys, seriously, we can’t mess this up,” I interrupted before Molly could retaliate.
“You’re right,” Molly sighed. “Dom is expecting us to be the perfect bridal party.”
“Everyone’s expecting it,” Viviana mumbled, fidgeting with her napkin. “My whole family’s going to be there...”
“Vince is going to be there,” Molly said gloomily, “and the rest of my family are going to be there...”
“And James is going to be there,” I finished.
We all paused.
“Greaaat,” we all said in unison.
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