The rest of the week slowed to a dull crawl, the weary air of November infecting even the professors. Tonks let them off the hook for training on Saturday again, not saying why precisely, so Harry and Ginny slept in until nearly nine. They had breakfast in the Great Hall with Ron and Hermione, then met up with Neville and Luna to walk to Professor McGonagall’s office for their next session of Animagus training. Sirius was absent this time, while McGonagall stood in the center of her office.
“Gather round,” McGonagall said, wasting no time in starting. “Sit.”
There were no chairs in the room. Harry looked around, but McGonagall raised her eyebrows; he sat on the floor. As did the others, and McGonagall began to talk once again.
“We shall begin with your transformation attempts,” she told them. “To start, I ask that each of you sit cross-legged, setting your palms on your knees face up. Close your eyes and slow your breathing.”
Harry blinked. “Are we meditating?” he asked.
“Yes,” McGonagall told him. “Go on.”
Harry shifted, setting his hands palm-up on his knees, and shut his eyes.
If she starts telling us to clear our minds and focus on our transformations, I’m calling hokey.
“Clear your minds,” McGonagall said. “Focus on the image of your form.”
You gonna call her on her hokey?
Shut up, Harry.
Harry envisioned the empty, white room once again and tried to focus on his Animagus form. Then he frowned.
Which form should we think about?
I think the ones that talked directly to us.
So, you’re definitely the fluffy pink cat?
Oh, shut up.
Harry smirked and called to mind the image of the long black snake that had talked to him during their mushroom induced vision.
“Focus on your form. Look it in the eye and study it. Concentrate on its shape, its markings, the differences between yourself and it.”
Harry tried to think of something other than the obvious difference between himself and the snake.
“In your mind, picture yourself and your form merging, then speak the incantation Ego Reformabit.”
Harry imagined his body elongating and shrinking into that of the snake’s. In a murmur that was echoed by his friends, Harry whispered: “Ego Reformabit.”
“Continue to focus on your Animagus form, and stretch your legs out before you.”
“They are now the legs of your form. Speak the incantation and concentrate on turning your legs into that of your animal.”
Harry tried to imagine that he felt his feet going numb, melting together into one limb, he spoke the incantation and concentrated on the tail of his form.
“Continue to do so until you can feel some change.”
Harry repeated over and over, “Ego Reformabit, Ego Reformabit,” for what felt like ages. McGonagall told them to keep their eyes shut until she bade them look around, occasionally offering a word of encouragement as her voice circled the room. Harry lost track of the times he had whispered the incantation and even of what exactly transforming his legs was meant to feel like as he repeated it over and over.
“Open your eyes.”
Harry blinked, then squeezed his eye closed at the sudden light. He glanced around, his gaze being immediately caught by the sight of two bright pink paws at the end of Ginny’s legs; he looked around more, Ron had shaggy brown paws as well, his of a dog rather than a cat, Hermione had talons poking out of her robes that she looked completely shocked about, Neville’s feet had turned into dark brown fur covered paws, Luna’s were white and dog-like. Harry turned his eyes on his own feet and his jaw dropped. His feet had vanished, replaced by a fat, scale-covered tail.
“Good job, all of you,” McGonagall said, standing in front of Harry. “Now, close your eyes again and imagine the reverse; your feet becoming human once more. The same incantation.”
Harry tried to wiggle his toes, or rather the end of the tail. The tail tip flicked. He swallowed, disconcerted by it, and shut his eyes again. He concentrated, speaking the incantation as he imagined his feet turning into human feet once again.
Sometime later, McGonagall instructed them to open their eyes. Harry immediately looked to his legs, and sighed in relief when he saw that his feet were normal once more.
“This concludes today’s lesson,” McGonagall said. “Go on to lunch, you should expect to be exceptionally hungry this afternoon.”
Harry pushed himself up; his feet tingled slightly. “Have a good afternoon, professor,” he said as he backed away to the door. The others echoed his words and the group left the Transfiguration teacher’s office, walking together towards the Great Hall. Harry checked his watch, and, seeing that it was nearly one o’clock, figured that the dining hall wouldn’t be too full; when they arrived, he was proved right. The Gryffindor table was about half full, the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables nearly deserted, and the Hufflepuff table carrying pockets of its students here and there. The group took seats near the end of the table, Ron already serving himself chicken and potatoes before everyone else had even settled themselves. Harry found that McGonagall had been right, the minute he smelled the food, he felt his stomach clench with hunger and his mouth begin to water. Harry, for once, didn’t blame Ron for starting quickly.
“Hey,” Luna said suddenly. “Look.”
Harry glanced up, to see her pointing towards the Slytherin table. He turned around, following her finger, but didn’t see anything of interest.
“What?” he said, looking back to Luna.
“Malfoy,” she said. “He’s alone.”
Harry turned around again, and saw that she was, in fact, right; Malfoy sat with his back to the Gryffindor table at the other end of the hall, completely alone. Harry looked up and down the Slytherin table and saw Blaise Zabini and Theodore Nott sitting farther down with Pansy Parkinson and a few other students who had their back to them. Harry glanced back to Malfoy, frowning.
“I wonder why he’s by himself,” Luna murmured.
“You don’t think…” Hermione said.
“Wha’?” Ron asked, then swallowed. “Think what?”
“Last Saturday,” Harry began, “when we went to the dungeons for extra Potions, Malfoy was talking to Snape. We used one of Fred and George’s new Extendable Ears to eavesdrop…”
“And Malfoy was really upset about something,” Hermione said as Harry left his sentence incomplete. “He talked about his father and how he wanted him to do something Malfoy didn’t want to do.”
“We figured that old Lucius wants Junior to join the Death Eaters,” Harry said, turning away. “But why Malfoy would be upset about it, I don’t know.”
Ron frowned, looking at the Slytherin table. “Strange,” he murmured.
“What?” Ginny asked.
Ron shrugged. “I dunno, I just heard that he was acting weird, too. I mean, Fred and George weren’t kidding about him when they said he was snapping at everyone, I saw him yelling at Crabbe and Goyle over nothing on my way to the kitchens the other day.”
“I wonder why,” Hermione murmured.
“Maybe he’s just showing his true colors,” Neville said. “Let’s not muse about the meaning behind the actions of a bully, shall we?”
“Right, yeah,” Harry said, though it still bothered him. What was so wrong that even Malfoy was anxious?
Sunday was spent half sleeping half doing homework, then on Monday Harry fell asleep five minutes into History of Magic, only to be woken up by Hermione not long before the end of class with a judgmental look. On Tuesday, Dumbledore had them practicing Occlumency again, apparently having no new information on Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Angelina held Quidditch practice on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and on Friday they went to bed early. Saturday was a Hogsmeade weekend, and they went to get Christmas shopping done. On Sunday morning, Harry woke up around seven to see snow fluttering past their bedroom window.
December began with increasing flurries of snow; by the first weekend of the month, there was at least two feet of snow on the grounds. That Monday, the fifth year Gryffindors and Slytherins trudged outside bundled in several layers of robes for Care of Magical Creatures just to trudge back inside as Hagrid informed them that the salamanders he had gotten for them to study had died because of the cold. It didn’t stop on Tuesday either, and Herbology was canceled for the week as Professor Sprout wanted to focus exclusively on keeping the plants alive in the blizzard with the help of several of her best students, which included Neville. By Wednesday morning, Harry was casting warming charms on his socks before he put his feet in them, and they kept a fire going in the grate at all times. Ginny’s mother sent a letter on Friday saying that she agreed to Harry’s request to eliminate outsiders from the wedding. She found the idea of the twins DJ’ing for the wedding comical, however, and said she would contact a cousin of hers for the job, though having Colin Creevey be the photographer seemed reasonable to her. The weekend brought more Charms training in healing charms and Tonks told them they would be halting training for December while she dealt with some issues after leaving America.
The semester ended on the twenty-second, the Friday before Christmas. Harry’s nerves were a jumble as the week came closer and closer to an end; on Tuesday morning, he and Ginny sat down with Colin to discuss what he would do for the wedding and how much they would pay him. Harry had said the going rate, and according to Mrs. Weasley, that was between 200 and 300 galleons, and though he had offered Colin 300, the younger boy said 250 would be fine.
“I don’t know what I would even do with 300 galleons,” Colin said with a nervous laugh.
On Wednesday, he and Ginny ate dinner with Remus and Sirius again, which Harry sensed was because Sirius could tell that his nerves were becoming fried. Remus made another frozen lasagna, which Harry thought was delicious even though it wasn’t from scratch. They returned to the common room around 8, walking hand in hand and feeling rather full.
“Juniper leaves,” Ginny said to the Fat Lady’s portrait.
“Good luck in there,” the Fat Lady said with raised eyebrows.
“Why?” Ginny asked, frowning, but the Fat Lady just shook her head and swung forward. Harry and Ginny exchanged looks.
What do you want to bet that it’s Seamus and his silly hen/stag night mess? Ginny asked as she stepped forward.
Ten galleons, Harry thought.
They moved through the hole into the common room, which was devoid of life. Harry and Ginny stared around suspiciously.
“SURPRISE!” screamed what seemed like the entirety of Gryffindor house as they jumped out from behind couches and tables and random furniture. Harry and Ginny managed to start enough at the sound that Harry guessed that they looked surprised enough.
“HAPPY HEN SLASH STAG NIGHT!” shouted Seamus, throwing his arms around their shoulders. Ginny mentally handed Harry ten galleons.
“You shouldn’t have,” Harry laughed in reply to Seamus, who squeezed their shoulders.
“Course I should’ve,” Seamus said. “What did you expect? Come on, party games and drinks and food this way!”
Their stag/hen night turned out to be another typical Gryffindor party: Butterbeer and even some stronger alcohols were passed around in plentiful, the kitchens had been raided for pastries and snack foods, someone had set up a radio that was playing rock music; the only exception were the bachelor/bachelorette themed games. Seamus managed to juggle them quite well, Harry thought, keeping the stag part to one half of the common room and the hen part to the other. Harry, however, was simply grateful for the lack of a false cake with a stripper inside. He wasn’t sure how Seamus would have even gotten one, but he was sure that if he could have, Seamus would have.
Harry and Ginny managed to sneak out around one in the morning, as Seamus had vanished after drinking quite the helping of firewhiskey and wasn’t around to show them to the next event. The silence of their room after the noise of the common room was heavenly.
“I love Seamus dearly,” Ginny sighed, “but I’m glad that you only get one hen night.”
“Same,” Harry murmured. Then he spotted the stack of wrapped gifts on the coffee table. “What’s this?” he said, moving to the couch and dropping onto it.
“Presents,” Ginny said, following him and picking one up.
“There’s a note,” Harry said, spotting a piece of paper on the table. He unfolded it, then snorted. “Listen to this. Dear Harry and Ginny, I expect that you will have snuck out of the party without saying goodnight; Seamus means well, but this whole thing is not your cup of tea (Harry).”
Ginny snorted. “True,” she said.
Harry continued. “So, I figured that it would be best to leave your gifts up here rather than have you open them in front of everyone. There’s a few for Harry, but traditionally, just the bride receives gifts. Enjoy! Love, Hermione.”
Ginny looked over the box in her hands. “This one’s for you,” she said, handing it to Harry.
He took it and checked the tag. “To Harry, with love from Angelina, Katie, and Alicia. I didn’t expect them to get me anything,” he said, pulling off the paper. He immediately went bright red at the box’s label while Ginny fell over laughing. “Gee, I’ve always wanted a jumbo box of condoms,” he muttered, tossing it onto the armchair. Ginny, still laughing, almost fell off the sofa until Harry grabbed her arm. “Shut up,” he said to her, still bright red in the face.
“Remind me to kiss all three of them tomorrow,” Ginny said, wiping tears from her cheeks. “The look on your face!”
Harry grabbed a gift bag and shoved it at her. “Just open your gifts,” Harry muttered, looking for another one. Ginny, still chuckling, pulled out the tissue paper in her gift bag and burst out laughing again. “What?” Harry asked, looking over at Ginny. She handed him the bag and Harry looked down into it. “It’s from Angelina, Katie, and Alicia, too, isn’t it?” Harry asked, checking for a label. “Yep, to Ginny with love. What on earth do we need edible massage oil for?”
Ginny shook her head, red in the face from laughing. “It’s — it’s not for massages, Harry.”
Harry felt his blush double and he quickly put the bag in the chair. “Never mind,” he said hastily. “Are there any more gifts from them?” He checked the pile quickly, and finding none, grabbed the next addressed to him, this one from Fred and George. Ginny was too busy laughing to get her next gift, so he opened this one by himself. Harry pulled a pair of fuzzy, pink handcuffs from the bag and looked at them in horror.
Ginny took one look at them and nearly died laughing. Harry wished he knew a jinx to calm someone instead of making them laugh, but he didn’t, so he threw the handcuffs to the other side of the room and grabbed his next gift.
“Stop laughing and unwrap things,” Harry said to Ginny.
“Your face!” she guffawed.
“Those were from the twins!”
Harry grabbed a gift bag and shoved it at her. “Here, this one’s from Hermione.”
Ginny only half paid attention, because she was still chuckling, and pulled the paper from the bag. She looked down into it, then her laughter stifled. “Oh. Oh, my,” she murmured. Harry frowned.
“What?” he asked, leaning in.
“No, no, nope!” Ginny pushed him back, then shoved the tissue paper back in the bag. “Not now!”
“What is it?” Harry asked again, trying to look into her mind, but Ginny hid the thought from him. “What?” he demanded.
“I expect you’ll find out in two weeks,” Ginny muttered, hiccupping. Harry caught a few words from her thoughts and blushed, then tried to appear serious.
“You know that about half of the stuff for you is bound to be lingerie,” Harry said to Ginny.
“Probably,” Ginny sighed, then hiccupped again. “Oh, damn, now I’m hiccupping.”
Harry rolled his eyes and grabbed another package. “Yours,” he said, giving it to her. He dug around until he found the rest of the gifts for him, which came out to only three, one from Ron, one from Neville, Seamus, and Dean, and one from Sirius and Remus. The one from Ron was a book titled Twelve Ways to Charm Witches, from the other guys, unoriginally, a second box of condoms, and from Sirius and Remus, two little booklets with two passports. Harry opened the booklets and raised his eyebrows.
“Plane tickets?” he said.
Ginny looked up. “What are those?” she asked.
Harry found a note in the bottom of the bag and read it. “Oh,” he said. “Okay, here, listen: Harry, as your godfather, I figured it was my responsibility to ensure that you and your wife had the best honeymoon experience with the fewest reporters around as possible. These plane tickets are to Sydney, Australia, which happens to be one of the most Muggle cities in the world. You leave on the 26th of December from London Airport, I rented out a beach house and the beach attached — in your name with your money, Harry —, you have first class seating, and you return on the 6th of January.”
“We’re going to Australia?” Ginny gasped.
Harry laughed, looking down at the plane tickets. “I’ve always wanted to see Australia,” Harry said. He looked up at Ginny. “This should be excellent.”
Ginny smiled. “Yes, it should. Now, move over so I can finish opening my lingerie.”
Harry rolled his eyes, leaning back on the couch while Ginny opened the remaining gifts; the majority of them were lingerie, which she wouldn’t let him see, unfortunately in his opinion. Harry also tried not to let her realize how badly he wanted to see her in them.
Ginny glanced back at him with a smirk. She knew. Harry flushed and looked away.
“That’s the last of it,” Ginny said finally. “Who knew so many people wanted to make sure I had fancy underwear.”
Harry shrugged. “I’d like to make sure you have fancy underwear for the rest of your life.”
Ginny looked at him with a raised eyebrow. Harry snorted, then leaned in and kissed her. “It is ten past two, and technically Thursday. Let’s go to bed.”
“Fine,” Ginny sighed. “Let me put all this away.”
Harry got up from the couch and walked towards their bedroom, but stepped on something halfway there. He paused, looking down, then he heaved a heavy sigh and picked up the fuzzy handcuffs.
“Remind me to hex Fred and George later,” Harry said to Ginny. Ginny looked up and snorted.
“Don’t knock it until you try it,” she said, turning away. Harry went red and quickly walked away; he threw the handcuffs into his trunk and tried to forget they existed. He brushed his teeth, then changed while Ginny went into the bathroom to use the toilet and brush her own teeth. Harry got into bed and lay back, staring up at the ceiling. He had no clue what sort of things Ginny had gotten, but he could imagine.
“Easy there, darling,” Ginny said as she exited the bathroom. “You’ll have to get a cold shower.”
Harry turned red again and pushed those thoughts away. “Sorry,” he mumbled. Ginny only smiled and kissed his cheek.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “It’s yourself you’ll be making miserable.”
With that, she turned the lights out and settled down to bed. Harry grumbled to himself as he shifted to get more comfortable. He wouldn’t make himself miserable.
The next morning, Harry had to take a cold shower. Ginny thought the whole thing was very amusing. Harry thought Christmas had to hurry up and come. All day on Thursday, Harry couldn’t keep his focus on anything but the next Monday; he was reprimanded twice by McGonagall, three times by Flitwick, and eight times by Sirius who kept sniggering at him. Harry subtly gave Sirius the finger by pushing up his glasses nearer the end of class, which caused his godfather to have to stifle his laughter in a cough. On Friday, Harry woke up long before the alarm with his nerves buzzing like he’d just stuck his finger in a live socket. It was a half day, with the train leaving after lunch for King’s Cross. Ginny kept telling Harry to stop bouncing his leg, or he’d vibrate right out of his robes. They met Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and Harry’s grandmother at the station, then drove back to Ottery St. Catchpole, stopping for dinner at the very same diner that Harry and Ginny had first met five years ago.
Saturday was spent cleaning house, Sunday was spent setting up the backyard. Harry and Ginny went to bed Sunday night knowing that their lives would entirely different by the next day.
“Oi!” Ron’s voice jerked Harry from sleep. “Presents!”
Harry opened his eyes, looking around. His heart lurched as he remembered that it was Christmas, then a grin broke out on his face and he shook Ginny’s shoulder. “Gin, wake up.”
Ginny waved a hand. “Go back to sleep, Harry,” she muttered.
“Ginny, today’s our wedding day.”
“It can be our wedding day in ten minutes,” Ginny mumbled, rolling over. Harry rolled his eyes.
“There’s also Christmas presents, apparently.”
Ginny sighed, turning to face him. “What time is it?”
Harry glanced at the clock. “Quarter past seven.”
Ginny snorted. “Of course, we’re getting up at quarter past seven,” she muttered, throwing the blankets off her legs and getting up. Harry scowled.
“Oh, so you’ll get up for gifts but not for our wedding?”
Ginny waved a dismissive hand. “Oh, hush, Harry, the wedding isn’t until, like, seven o’clock.”
Ginny just shrugged on her dressing gown and left the room. Harry rolled his eyes and grabbed his slippers.
Downstairs, the family was already gathered. Hermione was laying on one of the couches with her feet in Ron’s lap, looking like she was still asleep, while Ron looked like he was about to bounce out of his skin. Fred and George were sitting on the floor by the tree with wide eyes, Percy, Bill, and Charlie sat on another couch with their eyelids drooping, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were the only ones who seemed fully awake other than Ron.
“We’ve got to wait for Tonks, Sirius, and Remus,” Mrs. Weasley said before Harry could even open his mouth.
Ginny looked at Harry. “We didn’t even have to get up!”
Then the fire flared green and Sirius stepped out with Tonks on his arm, the both of them still wearing pajamas, plaid trousers and a loose gray shirt for Tonks, lurid green Grinch-themed pants and an old looking jumper for Sirius. “Morning, all!” Sirius called.
“Don’t shout in my ear!” Tonks protested, yanking her arm out of Sirius’s. “Molly, do you have coffee?”
“Yes, dear, in the kitchen,” Mrs. Weasley answered. “How are you?”
“Exhausted,” Tonks mumbled. “Oh, and do you have any Christmas cookies?”
“Enough with the Christmas cookies!” Sirius groaned. Mrs. Weasley shushed him, putting her arm around Tonks and leading her into the kitchen. Sirius huffed and flopped onto an armchair.
“Where’s Remus?” Harry asked his godfather, taking a seat on the floor.
“He’s getting dressed,” Sirius said. “Apparently, he disapproves of going places in his pajamas.”
The fire flared again and Remus exited the Floo. Sirius looked up. “See!” he pointed to Remus’s slacks and horrific Santa-themed sweater.
“I’m festive, Sirius, hush,” Remus told him. Remus then pulled from his pocket a small red pouch, which he tapped with his wand and enlarged magically. “It goes with my bag,” Remus added with a grin as he held out the large sack of gifts. They laughed as Remus set it by the tree and took a seat with Sirius. Mrs. Weasley and Tonks reappeared from the kitchen, Tonks holding a plate of cookies and a cup of coffee.
“Alright, Fred, George, you can start handing out presents,” Mrs. Weasley called.
Fred and George immediately started tossing presents out from beneath the tall Christmas tree out to the waiting recipients at a practiced break-neck speed.
“Don’t throw them!” Mrs. Weasley scolded as she caught a gift bag that had almost sailed past her face.
“Sorry, Mum!” George called back, tossing a gift to Ron. Ginny dropped down next to Fred and started digging under the tree and handing out presents as well, then Fred paused to start unwrapping his pile. As Harry began collecting his gifts, he listened to the others coos and laughs and cries of happiness as they unwrapped theirs. Harry kept an eye out for the gifts he had given people, smiling when they were pleased. Mr. Weasley thanked him profusely for the model train Harry had given him, Ron cried aloud: “Wicked!” as he unwrapped his brand-new set of Keeper’s gear, Mrs. Weasley hugged him when she found her set of Celestina Warbeck records. Ginny had addressed gifts to Bill, Charlie, and Percy for him, as he didn’t know them as well, but the three of them all thanked him gratuitously. Sirius gave a loud bark of laughter as he unwrapped his gift of The Husband’s Guide to Domestic Magic, to which Remus actually hugged Harry, grinning with delight until he opened his, which was the matching copy to Sirius’s, The Wife’s Guide to Domestic Magic, and Tonks told Harry that he was “a doll” after she opened her gift, which was a new wand holster, seeing as hers had been damaged while she’d been in America.
On the flip side, Harry received equally amazing gifts. From Hermione, a rather excellent broom maintenance kit, from Ron a working model Quidditch pitch, from Ginny’s oldest brothers a set of spell-books, from Sirius and Remus a Christmas jumper that was just as hideous as Remus’s — Harry put it on immediately —, from Tonks a spell-repellent jacket that looked quite snazzy, Harry thought. Ginny gave him pajamas, she explained, because he was always complaining about being cold. Harry waited for her to open her gift to act smug, as he’d given her socks.
“Thank you, dear, I love them,” Ginny chuckled, kissing his cheek.
As the presents beneath the tree thinned and Ginny’s brothers began to complain about being hungry, Ginny pulled out the last gift, which had hidden itself near the base of the tree.
“It’s yours, Harry,” she said, handing it to him. Harry took it and examined it, seeing that it was from Ginny’s parents, then ripped off the paper. It was a book, and as he turned it over to look at the front cover, he laughed. It was The Husband’s Guide to Domestic Magic.
“Thanks, mum and dad,” Harry said to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.
“You’re welcome,” Mrs. Weasley answered, looking at Ginny.
Sirius clapped Harry on the shoulder, as Remus had booted him out of the armchair and he was now seated on the floor. “We husbands are given far too little credit, Harry.”
“Yeah, definitely,” Harry replied, laughing, “I do more house-work than Ginny.”
“Then give the book to her, we all know who wears the pants in your relationship, anyway,” Ron said.
“Hey!” Harry protested while Ginny and the others laughed.
“Ron, don’t be mean to your brother-in-law,” Mrs. Weasley said as she wagged a scolding finger in his direction. “Now, breakfast!”
The Weasley boys and Ginny all gave cries of “About time!” and “Finally!” or things similar as the group got up and moved to the dining room. Mrs. Weasley immediately began passing out food, using her wand to direct the meal like a conductor at an orchestra. Harry sat between Ginny and Tonks, across from Remus and Sirius, and as such was barely given a moment to eat with all the laughter they caused.
After breakfast, at about eleven o’clock, Mrs. Weasley and Hermione ushered Ginny back up to her room, followed by a less enthusiastic Tonks and her plate of Christmas cookies — “You keep eating those, you’re going to end up looking like you’re pregnant!” Sirius called after her, to which she replied: “Shut up, you fat, old fart!” Sirius laughed very hard at that. Harry followed them as well as he had nothing else to do. According to Mrs. Weasley, Ginny would need from that moment until the start of the ceremony to get ready, Ginny disagreed privately, but she wouldn’t let her mother know that. Harry dropped onto their bed while the girls started fussing about and getting Ginny ready and opened Two Towers.
Oh, good, at least I’ll have something to listen to.
My thoughts precisely.
“Erm, is Harry s’posed to be in here?” Tonks asked Mrs. Weasley.
“Ignore him,” Mrs. Weasley told her. “He’ll hang around until Arthur comes to fetch him.”
Tonks shrugged and popped the last bite of her cookie into her mouth.
Harry nearly finished Two Towers before Mr. Weasley came to get him and was feeling quite nervous. Ginny felt it too, but she was handling it much differently, by making quips and comments about everything from the characters to what the women around her were doing. Around four, Mr. Weasley knocked on Ginny’s door.
“Come in!” Mrs. Weasley called, not turning her attention away from Ginny’s hair.
Mr. Weasley opened the door. “Harry, time to go down,” he said to him.
Harry jumped off the bed, dropping the book. “Right,” he said, nervously fidgeting with the hem of his jumper. Mr. Weasley led him out and back to the first floor, into his study where Remus, Sirius, and Ron were waiting.
“It takes two hours to put on dress robes?” Harry asked as Sirius pushed him into a chair.
“No,” Sirius said, drawing his wand with a determined expression filling his eyes. “It takes two hours to comb your hair.”
Harry frowned. “My hair? What’s wrong with it?”
Sirius laughed. “What’s wrong with it, Harry, Harry, you poor, innocent, and naïve child,” he chuckled. “Everything is wrong with it. Your hair is just as bad as your dad’s was, and he was almost late to his wedding because it took me so long to tame it. It’s that Indian blood from his mum, I expect.”
Harry scowled. “But I like my hair.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “You really think I’m going to let you walk out there without even attempting to tame your hair?”
Harry sighed. “No,” he mumbled.
“Good,” Sirius said. “Now, hold still. This won’t hurt. Much.”
An hour later, Harry had decided that Sirius had been pulling his finger about it hurting, though his neck was getting stiff from sitting with his head back for so long. He wasn’t sure what his godfather was doing to his hair, but it was taking a long time. Mr. Weasley came in with a time update at 5:30, telling Sirius to hurry up with Harry’s hair. Harry suggested Sirius just leave it as it was, just to receive glares from even Remus.
“That would defeat the purpose of the last hour’s work,” Sirius grumbled.
“It’s worse than James’s was,” Remus commented.
“Yeah, James’s was just curly, this is plain a rat’s nest. How often do you comb your hair, Harry?”
“Erm,” Harry answered.
“Not often enough,” Sirius said with a huff. “Just because your hair looks decent when it’s a mess doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to keep it maintained.”
“It never really bothered me,” Harry said.
“I think I’ve almost got it neat,” Sirius sighed, “just hold still.”
Harry’s nose twitched. Sirius muttered another incantation, then gave a cry of: “There!” and Harry sneezed.
“No!” Sirius cried as Harry’s hair flew out of place.
“I propose drastic measures,” Remus said to Sirius.
“No, we are not using hair gel!” Sirius insisted. “Harry, get back here!”
“I didn’t move!” Harry grumbled, leaning back again. Sirius started combing through his hair again, muttering under his breath in irritation. He started casting spells again, doing God knows what to Harry’s hair, then Remus reminded him that it was almost six.
“I know, I know!”
“He has to get into his robes, Sirius.”
“One more minute, there’s just this one patch in the back that won’t lie flat.”
“I think —”
“No, I refuse to put hair gel in his hair, Remus, you know what happened when we tried that with James!”
“What happened?” Harry asked, quite curious.
“Never mind that,” Sirius said, “sit still!”
Harry huffed. Remus checked his watch again. Sirius hissed a curse word under his breath, then said another incantation. “Got it!” He said. “Now, hold still while I charm it in place.”
“Like hairspray?” Harry asked, taking great care to not move a muscle.
“Something like that, yeah,” Sirius muttered more incantations, waving his wand over Harry’s hair. “Alright, it’s done.”
Harry stood up from the chair and moved towards the large mirror that had been set up across the room and examined his freshly tamed hair.
Damn, you look good, Ginny thought.
Harry smiled. He agreed; Sirius had gotten each strand to lay flat and combed it up and to the side, giving him a bit of a quiff and making it look very stylish. It definitely didn’t look anything like his normal bedhead.
“Right, into robes,” Remus called, clapping his hands together. “Ron, get your nose out of that comic!”
Ron nearly dropped his Marvin the Mad Muggle #43. “What?” he said, looking around.
“Get into your dress robes!” Remus told him. “The two of you ought to know how to dress yourselves.”
“Are you leaving?” Harry asked.
“Yes, we’ve got to get dressed too,” Sirius said. “We’ll be back in a bit, we’re just going to pop over to our flat.”
“Alright,” Harry said, waving as they left the room. His and Ron’s dress robes were hanging on a conjured hat-stand by the mirror, freshly pressed and crisp. The two of them dressed quickly, Harry feeling the nerves that had faded with Sirius and Remus’s banter over straightening his hair return tenfold. A few minutes later, Mr. Weasley re-entered the study with a tray of glasses and a bottle.
“Boys,” he said, setting the tray on a desk, “don’t tell your mother I’m letting you have this,” he added as he began pouring amber liquid from the bottle into the glasses.
“Is that firewhiskey?” Ron gasped.
Mr. Weasley handed him a glass. “Yes, it is, Ogden’s Finest.” He handed a glass to Harry, then took one for himself. “Cheers,” he said, and they all clinked glasses. Mr. Weasley tossed his back while Ron and Harry sipped theirs at first, which proved to Harry to be a mistake; the alcohol was sweet but it burned the back of his throat and mouth as it passed slowly over his tongue.
“It’s whiskey, boys, don’t sip it,” Mr. Weasley said to them, too late.
“Gathered that,” Harry croaked.
Mr. Weasley poured himself another two fingers. Harry looked down into his glass, as a sudden memory from years before surfaced, one that he hadn’t considered in years. A fat, purple-faced man, bent over a glass and a half empty bottle on the table before him. He wasn’t quite sure he wanted to drink any more of the whiskey, but Mr. Weasley was raising his glass again.
“The two of you have grown in ways I could have only hoped for,” Ron’s father said. “Harry, when Ginny told me five years ago that her imaginary friend was coming to visit, I couldn’t have dreamed that this would have been the outcome. You’re the perfect man for her, son, and I wouldn’t want to see her with anyone else.”
“Thanks, Mr. Weasley,” Harry said, blushing slightly.
“I’m proud of you, both of you,” Mr. Weasley said, clapping Ron on the shoulder. He clinked his glass with Ron’s once again, “To becoming men!” he said, beaming at them both.
“To Harry and Ginny,” Ron said.
“To love,” Harry added, smiling.
Harry threw back the whiskey, not wanting to think any longer of the angry old man who used to swing his fists at him when he got drunk, rather of his future with Ginny.
The door opened once again and Mr. Weasley looked up guiltily, but it was just Remus and Sirius. They had changed into dress robes, Sirius’s a deep red with black and silver accents, Remus’s shades of purple with blue.
“Ooh, firewhiskey!” Sirius said as he entered.
“Help yourself,” Mr. Weasley told them. “Just don’t tell Molly.”
“Oh, never,” Sirius laughed, taking a glass for himself.
“Not too much, now,” Remus reminded him as Sirius poured them both glasses.
“Of course, not,” Sirius said. “There’ll be champagne later!”
“True,” Remus conceded.
Harry downed the last mouthful of whiskey in his glass and checked his watch. Six twenty-one.
“We’re due outside in a minute,” Remus told them. “Tonks is waiting anxiously to walk you down the aisle,” he added to Harry.
“Right,” Harry muttered, twisting the glass between his fingers.
“Ron, you’ll be walking your mother to her seat,” Mr. Weasley said, pulling a tin from his pocket. “Take a mint,” he added, handing it to his son. “Don’t want her smelling the firewhiskey on your breath.”
“It was only the one glass,” Ron said as he shook a mint from the tin.
“She’ll notice,” Mr. Weasley said.
“Harry, you ought to take one too,” Sirius said. “I expect Ginny will want your breath to taste minty fresh when she goes in for the kiss.”
Harry made a face at Sirius but took a mint. He checked his watch again, but it was only six twenty-two.
“When do we go out?” Harry asked.
“Six thirty,” Remus said. “Though, Sirius and I have to get to our seats before then.”
“Right,” Harry muttered. “And I walk Tonks to her seat, then go up to stand by the priest?”
“Yep,” Sirius answered. He patted Harry on the arm. “Don’t be so nervous, it’s all exciting once you get up there.”
“Says you,” Harry muttered. “You’ve never been married.”
“Well, no, not legally,” Sirius said.
Harry’s eyebrows knit together. “What does that mean?” he asked.
Sirius reached up and pulled a chain out from beneath his robes, on which dangled a gold ring. “We had a wedding, it just wasn’t legal,” he explained, looking up at Remus, who was staring at his feet. Sirius nudged him.
“What?” Remus said, looking up. Sirius shook the chain with his ring. “Oh, are we showing off our rings?”
“Yes, show Harry proof that you’re my unlawfully wedded husband.”
Remus chuckled and pulled a matching chain from his neck, showing Harry the golden ring.
“I didn’t know you were married,” Harry said, completely astonished.
“Yes, well, you weren’t there,” Sirius said with a laugh. “Well, technically you were present in utero, your mum went into Braxton-Hicks contractions in the middle of our vows.”
“Why didn’t you ever tell me you were married?” Harry asked them, still flabbergasted and a little hurt that they had never told him. He was their godson, after all.
“Technically we’re not married,” Remus said. “As it’s not legal, Muggle or Wizard, we had a ceremony of commitment.”
“James went mad when he found out Lily had contractions and didn’t tell him,” Sirius said with a grin. It didn’t escape Harry that they hadn’t actually answered his question, but he let it go for the moment. “Nearly had an aneurysm in the middle of his speech.”
“Somehow, James was both my best man and Sirius’s,” Remus told Harry with a chuckle.
“And the officiator,” Sirius laughed.
“It was a lovely ceremony,” Mr. Weasley commented. “One of the most beautiful weddings I’d ever been too, for a wedding that wasn’t technically a wedding.”
“All the gays were having commitment ceremonies in those days,” Sirius chuckled, then he paused, adding with a smile that saddened as he spoke: “A lot of people did get married in that time. People thought they would likely be killed by Death Eaters at any time, so why wait, y’know?
“Was that why you two got married?” Ron asked.
“No, no,” said Remus with a soft smile, “we did because Sirius got drunk and told me if I didn’t succumb to his seductions, he’d marry me.”
“I was already planning on proposing!” Sirius protested. “At the time, I just wanted a bit of nooky!”
Remus rolled his eyes dramatically. “Yes, it was very romantic.”
“Can’t be less romantic than Ginny and me,” Harry laughed. “I walked up to her and called her a figment of my imagination, poof, married.”
Sirius snorted. “You didn’t know,” he said.
“Exactly,” Harry laughed.
I thought it was very romantic, Harry.
Sarcasm is not appreciated.
Oh, no, you found me out.
Remus checked his watch again. “We should get out there, Sirius,” he said. Sirius gave a nod, already tucking the chain with his ring back under his robes.
“See you out there,” Sirius said, reaching out and giving Harry a brief but tight hug. Remus hugged him as well, then the two of them left the office. Tonks stuck her head in.
“Ready?” she asked Harry.
“Yes,” he answered. She nodded, entering the room. She had changed into dress robes since he’d last seen her, a deep mauve gown with a loosely fitting robe over top, though Harry noticed that the gown clung to her figure oddly. She had turned her hair black and wavy to match Harry’s, and she looked rather like his older sister, albeit paler. She walked over to them and linked her arm through Harry’s.
“Firewhiskey?” Mr. Weasley offered, but she shook her head.
“Molly said you ought to go upstairs,” she said. “Ginny’s waiting for you.”
Mr. Weasley nodded and set down his glass. “See you in a bit then,” he said, leaving the room. Harry checked his watch again. Six twenty-eight.
A moment later, Tonks spoke. “Ron, you should go find your mother so you can walk her to her seat.”
Ron nodded. “Good luck, mate,” he said to Harry, clapping him on the shoulder. Harry nodded stiffly, not wanting to speak. He checked his watch again, but it was still six twenty-eight.
Tonks patted his hand. “Ready?” she asked once again.
Harry nodded again. She tugged on his arm slightly, then led him from the room, out through the sitting-room door to the yard and the tent that had been set up to house the wedding.