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Chapter 45 : Year 5: Ron and Hermione's wedding
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Close to the centre of London, not far from the hidden entrance to the Ministry of Magic, there was a small, old Muggle hotel, built in victorian style and crammed in between two larger buildings, giving it quite the pitiful look as its rooftop stretched but failed to reach as high as the neighbouring ones. The reception was dark and the rooms of the hotel quite small, but what the frowning people passing on the street outside didn’t know was that there was a dining room in the back, with giant windows as tall as a man overlooking a small backyard, which was covered in golden leaves and silvery frost, glittering in the autumn sun. Twenty-nine years ago, Emily and Michael Granger had got married there, and today, so would Ron and Hermione.
It was low season and most rooms at the hotel were empty. As for the owners, they had happily welcomed a wedding with only two weeks notice, so happily in fact that they had given the bridal couple a decent discount for the largest suite they had. Hermione had checked in the day before to sleep and get ready in it, separated from Ron on the last night before they would be husband and wife. Ron’s spontaneous proposal and the equally spontaneous wedding meant that a honeymoon straight after wouldn’t be possible, so the two had gladly settled for a weekend in the big suite, where they planned on ordering room service for every meal and just enjoying being newlyweds until they would have to get back to work the following Monday.
Only minutes after Hermione had woken up alone in the king-size bed, there was a knock on the door to her room, and she pulled on the white, soft dressing gown that lay waiting at the foot of the bed, and walked over to open it. Two people stood on the threshold; her mother, and a waitor pushing a little cart with the most amazing breakfast she could have dreamed of. Fresh scones, piles of fruit and berries, a teapot and all sorts of jam were soon laid out on the little table inside the suite, and Hermione and Mrs Granger sat down side by side to eat.
“You know,” said Mrs Granger in between sipping on her tea, “I remember having breakfast together like this the day before you started school. Primary school, that is – not Hogwarts. You got up before both Dad and me and got everything out of the fridge, and came to wake us only when you realized you’d have to cut the bread up, and that you weren’t allowed to use knives.”
Hermione grabbed a grape and popped it into her mouth before breaking out into a wide smile. “I remember that,” she said. “I wanted to make it special the last morning before I’d be a big school girl, didn’t I?”
“Yes,” Mrs Granger nodded, smiling as widely as her daughter as she remembered. “You were so excited to start school, sweetheart, I swore to your Dad your eyes were glowing that morning. And you skipped down the stairs after getting changed into your uniform… And here we are now. Having breakfast together on your wedding day. And your eyes are glowing with excitement just the same way they did that morning.”
When they had finished their breakfast, Mrs Granger insisted that Hermione go have a long shower while she cleared everything up, and only moments later, the bride-to-be found herself standing under a stream of hot water, allowing it to wake up whatever parts of her body might still have been a little sleepy. She took her time, shaving her legs and armpits, and scrubbing her body until her skin was soft as a baby’s. Once she stepped out onto the heated tiles, she pulled on the dressing gown again and walked out of the bathroom, finding her mother waiting on the little couch by the table.
Mrs Granger had got changed, and now wore a simple, blue tunic that disguised how gaunt her shoulders were, and a pearl necklace that stole the attention away from her protruding collarbones. Instead of sinking into her disease, she seemed to be bursting with life. She stood up as the bathroom door opened, smiling as Hermione sat down in front of the large, golden mirror, and walked up to stand behind her.
Mrs Granger started brushing her daughter’s wet hair, and Hermione met her eyes in the mirror, smiling as she felt the gentle, familiar hands work across her head. “Mum,” she said suddenly, making her mother pause in the middle of a movement. “I know that Fleur is meant to be doing my makeup today, but maybe… would you like to do my hair? Just something simple… if you’re feeling up for it.”
Mrs Granger opened her mouth to respond, but settled on just nodding as she started to work the bushy, unruly hair into an updo. The two women sat in comfortable silence, although sometimes they exchanged a look in the mirror and smiled at each other. Hermione loved seeing the concentrated look on her mum’s face, the little line that formed on her forehead as she brushed and plaited and twirled her hair. In the end, the result was a weave of thin plaits holding a high bun in place; it was beautiful and humble, and Hermione skipped to her feet to thank her mother with a long hug, thinking about how even now that her mother had lost all that weight and become that much weaker, her hugs were still warm and soft the way only a mother’s hugs are.
Around that time, the maid of honour, Ginny, arrived with the bridesmaids’ dresses, Fleur came with a large bag of beauty products, which she lined up on the little table by the mirror, and Audrey, the other of the two bridesmaids, knocked on the door with a camera around her neck, ready to capture the last hours before the wedding in photographs.
“Your dad is down there going a bit crazy,” she told Ginny as she unpacked the camera from its little leather bag. “The hotel staff said for everyone to help themselves to hot drinks, and when Mr Weasley saw the coffee machine… Let’s just say he’s up to his fifth cup of coffee – he’s so fascinated by how the machine works that he keeps going for refills to get to see it again.”
“And ‘ow are Bill and ze kids?” asked Fleur as she unscrewed the lid to the first of her little cans. “’E will ‘ave ‘is ‘ands full with ze two of zem. Especially Victoire – she’s ‘ard work nowadays, you know….”
“He’ll be all right,” said Audrey as she pulled a pair of black shoes out of a paper bag. “He’s got both Mr and Mrs Weasley there to help him – God knows that Mr Weasley should have the energy to keep up with Vicky – er, I mean, Victoire – now.”
An hour later, Hermione posed for a final photo next to her Mum, and one in between her bridesmaids, who wore identical, lilac dresses and who, even after Ginny’s outburst a few minutes earlier because her hair wouldn’t cooperate, smiled brilliantly at the camera alongside the bride. Hermione thanked Fleur for the hundredth time for the makeup, which was beautiful and so Hermione with its earthy colours and soft lines. She had truly never felt more beautiful. Her skin was almost glowing and her cheeks had a perfect hint of pink, and her brown eyes looked even bigger than usual with the subtle help of eyeshadow and brown eyeliner.
While the time had come upstairs to put on the white dress, Ron had just entered the dining room where the ceremony would be held, feeling very lightheaded and wishing that he had brought a hip-flask of Firewhiskey to calm his stomach down. He had stupidly not thought about such precautions when he had left the Burrow that morning, however, and was forced to walk into the room completely sober (which was, deep down, the only way he would have wanted it anyway) and very aware of the fact that he was right in the middle of one of the most important days of his life.
He wasn’t getting cold feet or anything – it wasn’t that kind of nervousness. He knew that this was the right thing; he had been sure of it when he had proposed that night after leaving the Leaky Cauldron, and he was still sure of it now that the day had come. In fact, he had probably known it long before, only he had, as George would have said, been “too thick” to wrap his head around it.
So Ron wasn’t scared that he was making a mistake by marrying Hermione, but he worried about the vows, about tripping on his words and about falling over on his way down the aisle (Geroge would never let him forget it). And what about Hermione – what if she would change her mind? What if she would decide that it was too soon, that she really wanted a big, princess wedding or perhaps a different groom? What if she, in that very moment, was running down the street in her wedding dress, away from him and the life they were supposed to have together? And she’d probably go to Bulgaria and marry that twat Viktor Krum instead, and–
“Oi, Ron! Wake up, mate. You seemed to be in your own little world there.”
Ron looked up and into his best man’s green eyes, suddenly feeling his cheek burns as he imagined what Harry would say had he been able to read his mind. To be honest, his next words made Ron think that maybe he could:
“She’s not going to run off with the waiter, or anything. It’s going to be fine.”
George, who was just walking into the room dressed in the same, purple dressing robes he had worn to his own wedding, slapped his little brother’s back, grinned at Harry and said:
“Well, at least someone in the family has the nervous bone. Don’t compare yourself to Harry, little brother. We all know there was something wrong with him on his wedding day.”
Behind them, Mr Weasley was bouncing up and down as the priest went to shake hand with all of the family members, and Ron cast a glance over his shoulder, glad to get something else to think about for a moment.
“What’s up with Dad, anyway?” he asked, and both George and Harry burst into laughter.
“Too much coffee,” George said. “Don’t ask.”
“If everyone may take their seats,” said the priest now, making a gesture towards the two rows of white chairs in the front of the room, and Ron’s stomach instantly started to fludder again.
The doors to the room opened, and Mr Granger stuck his head in. “We’re ready to go out here,” he announced, just as Fleur slipped in to join Percy, Angelina, Bill and the girls in the front row next to Mr and Mrs Weasley.
There was one last moment of panic when the music began just as Mr Weasley announced he needed the loo, but after a short yelling session from his wife, he agreed he could wait until after the ceremony, the music could continue, and Ron walked up along with Harry and George to stand next to the priest and wait.
The wedding march began, and Ginny and Audrey walked into the room. Both looked beautiful, and Ron smiled nervously at them as they joined the four men at the altar. The image of Hermione packing her bag up in the hotel room to go seek out Viktor Krum had time to flash before Ron’s eyes once more… And then the doors opened again, and there she was, more beautiful than ever in her simple, elegant wedding dress, standing between her mum and dad – they were both walking her down the aisle. Ron was happy that he wouldn’t have to talk for another few minutes or so, because he was quite sure he wouldn’t have been able to form a coherent sentence in that moment. Next to him, Harry smiled brilliantly as he watched his best friend take a first, shaky step towards Ron and the priest. Even Mr Weasley had managed to take his eyes off the cords hanging from the chandeleir above his head to watch his son’s bride, and next to him, Mrs Weasley was pressing a handkerchief over her mouth to subdue her sobs. Bill and Fleur both struggled to keep a little girl each still on their seats, but had time to exchange a look and smile over their daughters blonde heads, both of them reminiscing that moment from their own wedding, when Monsieur Delacour and Fleur had appeared at the end of the aisle, and the bride and groom had seen each other for the first time that day.
As for Emily Granger, she looked through tearfilled eyes at the profile of the smiling girl whose existence she had so wished and prayed for all those years ago, when she and her husband had tried and tried again for a baby. Images flashed through her mind as she walked alongside her daughter down the aisle; her sister, pregnant again, while her own womb echoed empty for yet another month. The arguments with Michael; “Of course I’m not going to leave you for someone who can give me a baby!” he had yelled at her at one point, offended that she’d even accuse him of thinking such things. “You’re bloody stuck with me, Emily, pregnant or not!” And then, that day and that pregnancy test, the undeniable, strong line telling her that in nine months, she would have her little baby on her chest, breathing and perhaps crying and most definitely existing.
There was no one in the world who loved Hermione more than her mother had from the very first day she knew she existed; from when she had been but a couple of cells growing inside of her. It was the thought of leaving her behind in the world that made Emily afraid of death.
But as Hermione walked down the aisle to be married, each of her hands clutching her parents’ arms, and her brown eyes – Michael’s eyes – fixed on that boy at the end of it, with hair that looked like it was on fire and a grin that seemed wider than his actual face, if only for a little while, Emily wasn’t scared anymore.
Ron didn’t take his eyes off her from the moment the Grangers placed Hermione’s hands in his. Mr Granger put a hand on Ron’s shoulder, and Mrs Granger kissed his cheek before the two of them went to sit down with all of the Weasleys. Not once did Ron break eye contact with Hermione, and all he could think about was how lucky he was that he’d get to look at her his whole life. He barely heard what the Muggle priest was saying (but if the way he hung on the priest’s every word was anything to go on, Mr Weasley would probably be able to recite it all to him again afterwards).
Eleven years earlier, Hermione had cried in the girls’ bathroom over something Ron had blurted out in a moment of unkindness, and hours later, they had said good night up in the common room after fighting a troll together, and Harry had Ron had hurried up the stairs to the boys’ dormatories. None of them would have believed where they would end up one day.
In the summer before their fourth year, Ron had walked beside his father to the village of Ottery St. Catchpole, where they had found Hermione and her parents outside the Muggle supermarket, unloading her trunk from the boot of their silver Audi. His father had chatted enthusiastically to Mr and Mrs Granger, and Hermione, who had had her whole head stuck into the boot of the car, had straightened up and turned around, and Ron had felt as though someone had punched him, because she most certainly hadn’t looked like that when they had said goodbye for the summer at Kings’ Cross Station only weeks before. His cheeks and neck turned bright red when she smiled and asked how he had been, and he spent the whole week and the days at the Quidditch World Cup rolling his eyes at her lack of understanding of the sport, or at her constant new theories on what might be going on at Hogwarts that Percy wouldn’t tell them about (“Who cares?” Ron had sighed. “It’s school, and it’s Percy. If it’s something even remotely exciting, I’m going to eat Dad’s old slippers.”) Annoyed with his neverending criticism as she had been, Hermione would have never guessed that only eight years later, she would thread a ring onto his finger and say, “I do.” Ron, who had laughed loudly and mockingly when Hermione had suggested that Vincent Krum, or whatever his name was, might not be good enough to beat the Irish team after all (what did she, of all people, know about that?) would never have imagined that he’d roll his eyes again eight years later, not at her know-it-all comments or oblivion to things as important as Quidditch, but at the way she’d clear her throat and correct the priest who had just announced them the new Mr and Mrs Weasley: “Actually, it’s Mrs Weasley-Granger…”
After the ceremony, Audrey took on the challenging task of lining everyone up for a photo. Perhaps it should have been easy, as it was such a small wedding with so few guests, but it turned out to be the opposite. Mr Weasley disappeared to find a bathroom and didn’t turn up again. George was sent to find him, and when they finally came back, the younger of the two sniggered as he told the rest of the group how he had found his father sitting under the electric handdryer in the bathroom, moving his fingers under it in fascination as it hummed on and on.
Once Mr Weasley was back, Fleur was missing instead, as she had chased Victoire out of the room and struggled to get her to come back – as the rest of them could hear, Victoire was protesting in a very jarring manner, since she found playing out in the reception much more entertaining than posing for a photograph.
By the time everyone was finally lined up against the white wall in the dining room, Mrs Weasley was still sobbing, mumbling things like: “My Ronnie, my baby boy… married…” The bellboy who had agreed to take the photo finally grew tired of waiting and clicked the camera, and thereby became the reason why the large, framed photograph which would hang over Ron and Hermione’s fireplace over the next seventy years would have a Mrs Weasley with red, swollen eyes, a Victoire pouting her lips and a George still grinning as he ogled at his dad with one eyebrow raised.
The bridal couple on the photo were impeccable, however. Ron’s hand rested on the side of Hermione’s waist, and both of them smiled brightly and widely. Her head rested lightly on his shoulder, her eyes glittering as she looked into the camera lens. Standing next to them, her hand on her daughter's bare, pale shoulder, Mrs Granger had the widest smile of them all.
A/N: As always, thank you. If I could, I'd travel around the world and give you all hugs. Or bake you cookies. (Whichever you'd prefer.) I still remember posting the first chapter to this story and the shock and excitement when it got its first review. I never imagined this many people would be reading it almost two years later. I really cannot thank you enough.
I'm always nervous about the big moments, because I know that people always have high expectations and probably their own versions in their minds. Please, let me know what you thought of mine, if you have time.
Thank you again!!! xxx
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