Chapter 3: Moments
15 March, 2002
The hearth flames in the Burrow's kitchen flared green and Charlie stepped out, brushing ashes off and shaking his head, wondering why bother with so many burn holes from the dragon kits. “Anyone here?” he called out.
“Charlie!” Mrs. Weasley came into the kitchen and hugged her son. “George said you'd be by. How long are you staying?”
“Just the weekend, Mum. Where should I put my ruck?”
“I'll take it, dear. Your dad's out in that work shed of his. He's looking forward to seeing you, go on now.” Charlie hugged her and kissed her cheek, and smiling walked back out the door. It felt good to be home, even if it would be a short visit. Something was going to happen this weekend, something other than the usual family dinner gathering, and now he knew his mother didn't know about it. Not that he knew much, but this was going to be interesting.
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17 March, 2002
Harry woke and stretched, arm reaching across the bed after... the empty bed. Ginny spent Saturday night at Ron and Hermione's flat, something about being able to tell Mrs. Weasley that she hadn't been with him. If Mrs. Weasley asked. Their bed felt very empty last night. The whole house had, actually.
He rolled out of bed and started the morning stretch routine he'd done since becoming an Auror three and a half years ago. Not calisthenics, not quite yoga, bits of both. Then he walked to the window and pulled the curtain aside. Rain washed down the pane. Well, he thought, if it's raining here it could well be raining in Devon. It was early still, he wasn't expected at the Burrow for several hours at least, maybe it would stop by then. Best to prepare otherwise. Dressing, he went down for breakfast.
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Ron, Hermione, and Ginny stood in the sitting room of Ron and Hermione's flat. Hermione held a list in her hand.
“Muggle suits for you and Harry?” she asked.
“On hangers, shrunk in a garment bag, in my rucksack,” replied Ron.
“Harry 's bringing them,” said Ginny.
“Change of —“
“Hermione, for Merlin’s sake, we went over this list yesterday during dinner and last night before bed, at which point we put all the various and sundry items into the places they needed to be for today. Do you have your bloody beaded clutch, because that's where everything else is. Let's just go, already.” Ginny stopped, took a slow breath and let it out. “Sorry. But I need to get moving.”
Ron smirked. “Feeling a bit anxious?”
“No.” Two sets of eyes peering at her face. “Maybe.” Unwavering eyes. “Yes. Some. But I'm fine. We just need to get moving. Please.” Hermione smiled, rolling the list tightly into a small scroll which she then pushed into her beaded clutch.
“Right then.” She tossed a pinch of floo powder into the hearth and called out, “The Burrow.” Then she stepped through to her parents home.
It was indeed raining in Devon, when Ginny, Ron, and Hermione stepped out of the fireplace into the kitchen at the Burrow. Molly Weasley turned and gathered them all into hugs. “So glad you're here. Isn't the weather beastly?”
“Mum,” Ginny said, hugging her back, “Did you get my owl? We've invited a few extra people this week.”
“Yes, yes, and Charlie's here too, isn't that grand? Your friends from the Harpies, Gaia, Ginger, and Doozer are here already. Also Gwenog, you didn't tell me she was coming, but it's all good. We've plenty. Neville, Hannah, and Luna arrived about a half hour ago.”
“Is Harry here yet?” asked Ginny.
“Yes, he's here. Now go on, go visit.”
Just then the flue flared again, and Minerva McGonagall stepped into the room.
“Professor, welcome,” said Hermione as she took McGonagall's cloak. Minerva McGonagall tightened her Gryffindor shawl on her shoulders.
“Thank you, Hermione, and I've told you, you've all certainly earned the right to use my given name. Hagrid sends his apologies, but he's come down with a terrible head cold. Poppy absolutely forbid him to go out in this weather at his age.”
“Oh! Ginny and Harry will be so disappointed, Harry particularly hoped Hagrid could be here today. Minerva, why don't you take Mrs. Weasley and go visit some?” Hermione nodded significantly to Minerva, and turned to hang the traveling cloak on a hook by the door, where it magically was sorted into a closet since today, so many extra cloaks and coats were there.
“Certainly. Come, Molly, shall we catch up on things while these youngsters take care of the kitchen for just a bit?” She hooked her hand into Molly's arm, and they stepped into the next room where the greetings sounded as the Headmistress joined the crowd.
Hermione heaved a sigh of relief as the flue flared green and Kingsley Shacklebolt and his wife stepped into the kitchen. He nodded to Hermione, who held a single finger to her lips.
“Harry told me he didn't mention you will be here, Minister, and to please wait. They're going to make the announcement as soon as I let them know you're here. You'll know when to come in.”
Kingsley broke into a huge smile and nodded. Hermione turned and walked into the sitting room. Harry and Ginny, both watching for her, grinned when she nodded slightly at them and went to join Ron. The couple turned back to the crowd.
“Hey, everyone, I'd like to say something,” Harry called over the voices. A few people stilled but the hubbub continued. “Everyone...” A piercing whistle broke over everyone, all turning towards them. Ginny removed the two fingers from her mouth.
“Harry and I want to say something now we're all here,” she said, and nudged him. All eyes turned to Harry.
“Well, first, we want to thank you all for coming. Most of you know at least enough about my early life, and it means a lot for me to let you know you've finally gotten it through my thick skull that you're my family...” His throat clenched in a fist-sized knot and his eyes threatened to suddenly spill so he turned his head and rested his chin on Ginny's head. She picked up her cue immediately, squeezing his hand.
“Right after I told Harry 'Yes', we spent a whole day talking — ”
“Talking. Right.” called Charlie, to many laughs.
“Talking, Charlie, yes. And some serious talking, too,” responded Ginny. Harry, voice recovered, added “Actually, a good bit of non-verbal communication happened.” More laughs and Ron hollering “Oi! Too Much Information!”
“We realized right off that the media would turn this whole thing into a circus,” continued Ginny, “We wanted to control how it got out, being I am one of the star players for the Harpies. (“The Star Chaser!” and “Go Canons” George and Ron yelled) You may also have noticed that Harry seems to have done a couple things that earned him some notoriety as well.” More laughs bounced around the room. “Which is what led to our public announcement in the Quibbler. and, well, it worked.” She beamed at Luna.
“We also both agreed,” Harry went on, “that we wanted only our closest friends and family on our day. But then someone in one of the Ministry departments started pushing in and trying to control things, which didn't set at all well with Ginny, and...”
“You eloped!” cried Percy.
“No,you prat” George yelled back, “I told them they couldn't or Mum would have Harry's bol... well, Mum would do something that would make grandchildren a bit difficult.” Laughter erupted again, all except Molly Weasley who yelled “George!” while simultaneously blushing furiously.
“No, we didn't,” said Harry, his own laughter dying down. “I'd never do that to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Then I remembered something Gin said to me, back at Hogwarts one time when I felt a bit desperate to talk with Sirius, and what with one thing leading to another here we are...” He looked at Ginny, Ginny grinned back at him, they both turned to face the crowd and simultaneously — “We're getting married, today, now, with all of you here with us to share.”
Whirling snitch wings would echo louder than the thunder outside in the silence following. Molly Weasley's hands flew to cover her open mouth (quite a few gaping jaws faced the happy couple, actually) and she sat rather abruptly in Arthur’s lap. The silence stretched a bit, slowly being overcome by the ticking of the Weasley grandfather clock.
“But Harry, who is going to officiate?” Arthur asked, softly patting his wife’s back.
“I believe that's why Harry asked me here today, Arthur,” came a basso voice from the kitchen, and the Shacklebolt's came into the room. “Good afternoon everyone.”
In the sudden silence that followed the Minister of Magic's announcement, Molly looked from the couple, to Kingsley, back to the couple, then to her husband. She looked into his eyes, and with the softest of voices uttered, “Arthur, our baby is getting married today! To Harry!”
Again, a piercing whistle demanded quiet, this time from Bill. Mrs. Weasley looked over the gathered family and friends.
“Well, since there's going to be a wedding, we need to get this place ready! Bill, you and Charlie start sorting this room so we can all enjoy this. Ginny, who are your attendants?”
“Luna and Hermione”
“ Ron and George.”
“Right, then whoever isn't helping Bill and Charlie get this room ready, help with the cooking and getting the dining table fit for after. Now, Ginny, let's get you and your attendants ready.”
“Mum, I'm already wearing what I want to.” Molly looked her daughter over.
“Ginevra Molly Weasley, while you look very nice in that dress, it is not the one you're wearing to marry Harry. Ladies, let's get up to Arthur and my bedroom. Let's go.” Ginny's face set at first, but the look Molly gave her changed her mind, and the four ladies started up the stairs.
“Harry,” said Mr. Weasley, “I presume you've brought something a tad more formal than those jeans?”
Harry replied, “Yeah, Ron's got them with Hermione.”
“Well, then, Ron, we'll let you be about your appointed duties. Harry,” said Mr. Weasley, “when no matter how involved in the planning they are, there is time for two individuals to simply stand aside, wait as patiently as they can and then go and do what they are there to do. One of them is the Groom, and the other is the Father of the Bride. Since that is us today, let’s just step into what we shall for now call the Study and do our parts.” Together they climbed the stairs and went into Ginny's first floor bedroom.
With the door closed behind them, Harry paced back and forth and around the small room while Arthur sat in the rocking chair. “Harry, calm down, please.”
“Arthur, I’m shite at waiting. I've gotten better at it, I was fine when I left home this morning. Why do I now feel more scared than I did when I went to face Tom bloody Riddle in the Forest.”
Arthur Weasley sighed softly, smiled calmly, stood up and walked to Harry. He placed his hands on fidgeting shoulders and turned the young man to face him. “Look at me,” he said, but Harry continued to stare at the raindrops coursing down the window. “Look at me.”
Harry turned. His eyes met Arthur Weasley's and it felt like diving into the calm pond on the Burrow. “When you went into the Forest, you accepted that you went to die, to protect all those you love and more. And as frightening as it seemed at the time, it is never hard to die, Harry. Now, here, you are choosing Life. To merge your life with Ginny’s, and in that merger you two will become greater than the sum of you. It is a change there is no way to truly describe, because the only people who will understand are those who already did this. This isn’t an end, Harry. It’s a Beginning. There’s no way to know what’s to come except to Live.”
Their eyes locked, Harry’s breathing slowed, his feet stilled. ‘Were you this scared when… on your…”
“Oh, yes. Oh my yes.” Harry took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, and turned to sit on the edge of the bed. Arthur sat back in the chair.
“Harry, when Ginny was six she was already quite taken with Quidditch. She'd figured out how to break into our broom shed and would sneak out of the house at night to go fly. Shortly before her eighth birthday, with Ron nine and all their brothers either off to Hogwarts or out on their own, one of my co-workers gave me a set of tickets to a match; he'd had a family emergency of some sort and, well, told me to take a couple of our children.” Harry seemed to settle a bit, his attention caught learning something about Ginny from long before he met her.
“The match was on her birthday. It was the Holyhead Harpies versus the Chudley Cannons. While it proved a rather lopsided match, I suspect this is the point that Ron became such a devout Cannons fan, as did Ginny for the Harpies. But... well, what I want to tell you is this. We had quite good seats, overall, and at one point in this game, right there in front of us, one of the Harpies Chasers fumbled a pass and one of the Cannons Chasers recovered it. Ginny climbed up onto her seat and in a very loud, carrying voice proceeded to tell that Harpie, er, 'You (Your Parents Weren't Married) bumbling incompetent, you should have had that!'
“It became rather quiet in the seats surrounding us, I can tell you. I felt quite mortified as everyone turned to us. I had no idea she even knew that word. I am not sure if she knew the meaning of it. It's entirely possible she did. And it seemed everyone looked at us. Ginny simply returned their regard and said, 'What? That was a simple pass.'
“Then people began to chuckle and laugh, some even winking at me. Ginny sat back down with a 'grumph', and we enjoyed the rest of the game immensely.”
Harry sat, somewhat goggle-eyed looking at Arthur, his mouth slightly agape. “Ginny did that?”
“Yes, she did. When Molly heard the tale from Ron, she sent Ginny off to bed without dinner.”
“On her birthday? No birthday dinner?” Arthur smiled.
“Yes. On her birthday. She was still awake, sitting at her desk and looking out her window when I checked on her just before bed time. It seemed obvious watching her that she replayed portions of that match until she realized I stood there. She apologized to me for her outburst. I told her she needed to apologize to her mother in the morning, But not to worry, because I would be apologizing to Molly that evening for not disciplining Ginny earlier.” Harry shook his head slowly, face still incredulous.
“There are a couple reasons I'm telling you this, Harry, one of which is to help you calm down a bit. Also, though I believe you've already discovered this, your soon to be wife is a deeply passionate woman. In that, she is very much her mother's daughter. Both of us are very happy and proud of you both. But Molly will be speaking to you about the suddenness of today's events. Possibly not today, but soon, definitely. Just quietly take your lumps, Harry, because once she's got it off her chest, all will be forgiven and forgotten. And that advice goes for Ginny as well.”
Harry nodded. Just then a soft knock sounded on the door, and Ron stepped in carrying two hangers.
“Dad, Harry, Mum says it's time for us to get dressed. Fleur will bring up the boutonnieres for all of us. You OK, mate?” Harry smiled at his best friend and Best Man.
“Yeah. Let's do this.”