Hello lovely readers! Thank you so much for putting up with my horrendous updating, I swear I think of nothing but y'all in the hours I spend stuck, staring at my computer, begging one of these characters to tell me what happens next. I truly appreciate it!
DISCLAIMER!: Not JKR.
"I swear to Merlin if you make me late for this wedding-"
"Oh, sod off," Hope replied as she fluffed her dark red curls. She puckered her lips as she scanned over her face in the mirror, then adjusted the knee length, scribble print dress on her body.
"Literally, people have been born, lived full lives, and died of old age during the time it's gotten you to get ready," Fiona lamented. She was sprawled out on Hope's bed, having been finished for almost twenty minutes now.
"I will hex you," Hope threatened as she slipped on ruffled leather sandals.
"I was supposed to be there early to save Lou from the wrath of his mum."
"I'm sure he'll forgive you, just sit so he can see up your skirt," Hope shot back with a roll of her eyes and a mischievous smirk as she secured a rose gold key pendant around her neck.
"You slag!" Fiona cried, her surprise only half faked. "What if the minister saw?"
Hope shrugged. "Probably make his year."
Fiona released a string of giggles. "You're wretched."
There was silence between the two for moment, a distinct pause which was ended by, "You heard from Dora at all?"
Fiona peered up to see Hope's nervous reflection in the mirror. "No," she replied, frowning as she caught the minuscule flash of fear across her best mate's face. "It'll be fine, Hopie, honestly. Weddings are happy, focus on that."
Hope sighed. "You know as well as I do that's a load of optimistic hippogriff shit."
"You deserve to have fun."
"So does she."
Fiona stood with a sigh. "Those things don't have to be mutually exclusive."
There was a soft rap on James's bedroom door as he was securing the thinly striped aqua and silver tie around his neck. "Come in," he called, not turning from the mirror as he struggled with the fancy knot Victoire had forced her future husband and all of his groomsmen into wearing.
"Hey." The door shut softly, and James turned his head to see his father staring at him in a matching tuxedo, his own tie draped over his shoulders, untied.
"You can't get this blasted knot right either?" James asked with a chuckle.
Harry shook his head. "Ted'll probably be able to do it."
James checked the watch on his wrist. "Is it time to head to Shell Cottage?"
"In a few minutes," he replied, sitting on his son's bed. "I wanted to talk to you before we left."
James stopped fidgeting with the tie and looked at his dad. "What's up?"
"Hope's a nice girl."
James was confused, but nodded. "She is."
"What did she say her plan was after graduation, Quidditch?"
"Yeah," James said as he ran a hand through his dark hair, messy in almost the same way Harry's was. "Just another reason for Mum to buy Harpies gear."
Harry nodded. "And you?"
James furrowed his brow. "What about me?"
"What's your plan after graduation?"
James felt his heart pick up speed in his chest. "Well, uh...I...you know-"
"I really don't know," Harry replied. He didn't look mad, just disappointed. James wished he would be mad instead. "Academy acceptances are going out at the end of the week, and there's not a single application with your name on it."
"Yeah," he said, unable to look at his father. "I, uh...I never applied to the Academy."
"James, what are you thinking? You're going to have to wait a whole year before you can apply now-"
"I'm not going to apply," James said. "Not next year, not ever. I don't want to be an Auror."
Harry blinked, unsure he'd heard his son correctly. "You...you don't want to be an Auror?"
James looked at him now, knowing that the words were going to start flowing and he couldn't stop them. "I know it's what we talked about and all, but I just sat there, staring at this application that I couldn't put anything on. I couldn't do it. Hope helped me realize-"
"You can't decide your future around a girl, James, no matter how much-"
"Dad," James cut him off. "I don't want to be an Auror because I don't want to be an Auror. Not because of Hope. Hope has been nothing but supportive of me." Harry said nothing, waiting for James to continue. "I have an apprenticeship."
He took a deep breath. "Hogwarts."
"Professor Drexel selected me as his replacement. I'll be apprenticing and working with the younger years until Lily graduates, and then," his voice fell off. "I love teaching, Dad. And I'm good at it."
"I know you're good at it, I've seen how Lily's marks have improved," Harry said. "Why didn't you tell me?"
James shrugged, looking down again. "I didn't want you to be disappointed."
"Disappointed?" Harry asked. James looked up.
"We'd talked about the Auror thing for so long…"
"James, it's your life. I don't care what you do, as long as it's something, and it makes you happy."
James let out a chuckle and nodded. "It makes me happy."
Harry stood, then pulled his son into a tight hug. "Professor Potter," he said. "I like the sound of that."
James hugged him back tightly. "Me, too."
Dorothy stared at herself in the full length mirror on the back of her bedroom door as she secured a thin, gold chain around her wrist. Her hair was pulled up and out of her stoic face, which stared back at her without emotion. Since she'd signed the next two years of her life away, that seemed to accurately describe how she was feeling: nothing.
It wasn't an empty nothing, but more of a content nothing. It was a feeling that reassured her that there was more to life than the silly things that she'd been so upset about. All the energy she'd been putting towards being frustrated and uncomfortable with Fred and the Hope and James situation was redirected to something much more positive: her future. After she'd begun to believe that things just weren't meant to work out for her, this finally had. She just had to get through graduation, and then she could start fresh.
Sure, her parents had been upset that she had made such a huge decision in a manner they deemed to be "rash," but Dorothy knew deep down, nothing had ever been so right for her. So even though her mother had cried when she told them and they'd been up the whole night discussing the matter at hand, she hadn't felt even a sliver of doubt.
Dorothy smoothed the light pink dress down over her thighs again, and the back of the high-lo cut tickled the back of her knees. She slipped her feet into sandals and took a heavy breath, then left her room to head downstairs.
"You ready, Thee?" Neville asked his daughter. When Dorothy looked at him, she could read a mix of emotions on his aged face: fatigue, sadness, fear, pride, anger.
Dorothy nodded, then asked, "Where's mum?"
"Finishing her makeup."
"Remember that you can't tell anyone about the Hallows," Dorothy reminded him. "I only told you and mum because you're, y'know, you and mum. Uncle Harry said they're not sending out acceptances until the end of the week, I was an exception."
Neville nodded, and his brooding look intensified. There was silence for a moment. "Please don't be mad anymore about this."
Neville looked up at his daughter. "Mad? I'm not mad, I'm…" He paused. "I just wish you'd have discussed this with us first."
"Dad," Dorothy said, sending him a reassuring smile. "I have never been more sure of a decision in my life. I finally feel...I finally feel like myself again. There's nothing here for me anymore, and the Hallows," she let out a gust of air, the smile on her face becoming dreamier, "they're going to give me everything I ever wanted."
"Your family is here," he pointed out. "Your mother and I."
"You both are always with me," she said. He rolled his eyes at the cliche. "I remember the stories you used to tell me as a kid, they inspired me to follow this path. To give what you gave for our world."
Neville frowned. "I have war stories so you never had to have them."
She walked over to him and hugged him tightly. "This is my duty."
She pulled back, and Neville grabbed her face in his hands to fully look at her. "Why couldn't you be more like your mother?"
Dorothy grinned. "I'm going to be fine."
He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "You'd better be."
Teddy stared into a face that wasn't one he recognized, and it wasn't just that he didn't recognize himself because in times of high emotion, his control often slipped on his Metamorphmagic and his features forgot how they were supposed to look. It was more so the terrifying reality of his impending wedding. He scrunched his nose and Transfigured his face back to it's normal configuration and the brilliant white blonde locks of his hair back to his usual short, mussed, turquoise style. It helped the bubbling pot of anxiety and excitement in his stomach settle only slightly, but it was more than he'd anticipated.
James clapped his hands down hard onto Teddy's shoulders. "All right, mate?"
Teddy let out a choked breath, followed by a slight cough. "Yeah, just uh...just setting in. Bloody hell, I'm getting married today."
"About time if you ask me," Louis joked from the other side of the room as James made his way across to join him. "How long have you been together, six years? Can't imagine waiting that long-"
"Trust me, it's different once you're out of Hogwarts," Harry piped up.
"I am out of Hogwarts, Uncle Harry."
"Fi's not." Harry patted Teddy's shoulder, shocking the purple that had begun creeping into his hair back into turquoise. "Waiting is good. There's lots of steps."
"Am I ready for this?" Teddy asked his godfather quickly beneath his breath.
Harry shot him a warm smile in the mirror. "You'll know the answer to that as soon as you see Vic coming towards you."
Teddy nodded and cleared his throat, but didn't say anything. In his reflection, he could see that behind him and Harry, his four other groomsmen sat in a circle around a small table, cracking open Butterbeers. He met Harry's gaze in the mirror. "Did you feel like this?"
He grinned, then gave a quick nod. "Worse. Was certain Ginny just wasn't going to show up."
"Oi, Ted!" Jin called, holding the necks of Butterbeer in each hand. A long section of his wavy black hair fell onto a flat, tan forehead between dark, hooded eyes that sparkled with excitement. "Come loosen up a bit, yeah?"
"I've got a nice, aged Firewhiskey in my bag if we really want to start the celebration," Keith said with a wide, cheeky grin splitting the dark expanse of his face. Back in their Hogwarts days, Teddy, Keith, and Jin had been thick as thieves. Honestly, not much had changed.
"Unlike you," Teddy said as he joined the group of men and took a bottle from Jin, "I'd like to remember my wedding, thanks."
"That's what you think now—"
Teddy laughed. "I'm not above telling Tamara on you."
Keith looked aghast. "Have you no decency? No loyalty?"
"Nah, Tam is terrifying."
The boys roared, clinking bottles together and rambunctiously shouting the way only boys with booze and excitement could. Above the noise, Albus declared: "To Ted and Vic!" which the rest of them chorused back.
"Wow, there are so many people here," Fiona muttered to Hope.
"I know," she replied. "I mean, if you think about it, the Christmas party was just the Weasley side. We've got Delacours here too."
"No wonder they're all so pretty."
"Hey!" a voice called. The two Hufflepuffs turned to see Dorothy making her way towards them, a smile on her face. She threw her arms around them and hugged them tightly. "I'm so glad you both are here!"
"Uh, Dora?" Hope said, utterly confused, once they'd all separated. "Are you, I mean...are we-"
"I think what Hope is failing to say is," Fiona took over. "Are you back to normal now?"
"I'm sorry," Dorothy began, pulling a face. "I've been crazy, I know."
"But you're done with that?" Hope asked brightly.
Dorothy smiled again. "Yes, I'm done with that. I want to enjoy the time we have left without all this," she gestured wildly between them for a moment, before finishing on the word, "stuff."
Fiona let out a whoop of joy. "She's back!"
Hope, however, hung onto Dorothy's choice of wording. "What do you mean, time we have left?" she questioned, but before she could push the matter, James came out of nowhere and planted a firm kiss on her mouth. All thoughts of Dorothy and hidden meanings flew out of her brain as she embraced him. He pulled back with a silly grin. "Sorry, couldn't help that. You look gorgeous."
"Wow, they're really cute together," Dorothy said to Fiona as the two girls looked on at the lovesick couple. Trying to get their attention, she said louder, "You're really cute together!"
James turned and saw Dorothy, which immediately wiped the easy going grin off his face. "Bollocks, Dor, I'm sorry, I didn't-"
"Oh, hush up, I'm marvelling over how fabulous you both are together," she said with a grin. She grabbed his hand and pulled him into a warm hug. "I'm so happy you're so happy!"
She released a very, very confused James, and let out a chuckle at his expression. "I'm done being crazy," she informed him.
"She's back," Fiona added, wrapping an arm over Dorothy's shoulder's. "Longbottom's back, Longbottom's back..." she began singing as she jumped up and down, pulling Dorothy along with her. Both girls were laughing.
"Did something happen?" James asked, trying to decide whether this was all a drawn out prank or not.
Dorothy shrugged. "Nah, just had a realization I guess. You hear from the Academy?"
"Nope," James said. "I'm actually going to be apprenticing at Hogwarts to take over the Defense post once Drexel retires."
Dorothy's eyes widened. "No way! You'll be brilliant at that, you've always been a great tutor."
He smiled at her. "Thanks."
"What'd your dad say?"
"He was very supportive," he replied.
Hope snapped her attention to James. "You finally told him?"
James smiled sheepishly at her. "He sort of confronted me this morning. It went better than I expected."
She pulled his face to hers and gave him a quick kiss. "I knew it would."
"I've actually got to run, just came down to find you, but I've got groomsmen duties. Any of you know how to tie an Eldredge knot?" he asked, referring to the two ends of his tie laying loose over his shoulders.
While Hope and Dorothy shared a look, Fiona furrowed her brow and grabbed the pieces of his tie, then quickly began to fold the silk into the intricate layers of the knot. "Is that an Eldredge? I can't remember."
James looked down and nodded excitedly. "Oh, sweet!" He grabbed a hold of her wrist. "None of us can do it, come on!"
James pulled Fiona away, who was shouting something about being manhandled to James. Hope and Dorothy giggled at Fiona's obvious displeasure. There was a moment of silence between the two girls.
"You're really okay again?" Hope asked, nerves evident in her voice.
Dorothy grabbed Hope's hand. "I am so sorry for everything I've put you through with this whole thing. I've been horribly unfair to you. I know you never asked for any of this, and I haven't made it any easier on you, being snippy and mean and whatnot."
"Dora, you've been understandable! You loved him for so long-"
"I've been a right bitch, and you know it."
Hope sighed and released a small laugh. "I can only imagine how I'd've been had the roles been reversed."
Dorothy grabbed onto Hope's hand tightly. "I promise, no more drama or craziness from me. You'd best marry that bloke, you understand?"
Hope let out a loud, shocked laugh. "Dora!"
Dorothy giggled. "I told you before, he's a keeper!" There was a beat of silence before she added, "He's so in love with you, too."
Hope blushed violently. "Shut up."
"I'm serious, I've known him my whole life and I've never seen him like this before," she said. Hope couldn't restrain her smile. "And I expect to be a bridesmaid, obviously."
"James!" Fiona yelled, finally ripping her arm out of his grasp. "I do not enjoy being yanked!"
"You think she's really back?" James asked, completely ignoring Fiona's nagging.
She blinked. "What?!"
"Dorothy," he said. "You said she's back. You think she means it?"
Fiona sighed. "I hope so."
James nodded. "Me too." He pushed open a door to reveal five grown men failing to secure their ties around their necks. Mingled shouts and curses flew across the room, and in the far corner, Fiona was almost certain that a horn had sprouted from the top of Teddy Lupin's head.
"Oh, bugger," Fiona said, looking over at James. "You're all hopeless." He nodded fervently at her. "Alright, blokes, form a line!"
The five men in the room turned to Fiona and James, looking haggard. James pointed excitedly at his own neck. "She can do the knot!"
They scurried into a single file line so fast, Fiona was actually a little scared. First before her was the groom himself. "Hi, Teddy," she said, grabbing the ends of his tie. "How're you feeling?"
"Like I'm going to vomit."
"Well, that's encouraging. You're growing a horn."
He cursed loudly before fixing it. "High emotions kind of-"
"Take over?" she finished. He nodded, and she tightened the knot at his neck. "Don't worry. You now have one less thing to worry about."
He gave her a huge smile of relief. "Thank you so much. You're a goddess."
"I'm well aware. Go have a drink."
"Yes please." James took his cousin's arm and led him back over to the makeshift bar, then cracked open a Butterbeer.
"Hello, gorgeous." Fiona looked up into the face of a man who was decidedly not Louis. Jin's face was cracked with a blinding white smile.
She grinned. "Hello there."
"OI!" came a shout from Louis, who was standing towards the end of the line.
Jin raised an eyebrow at her as she picked up the ends of his tie. "You're his Fiona?"
Fiona snorted. "Meaning am I stupid enough to date him?" Jin sniggered as she finished the knot and tightened it at his neck. "Yes, yes I am."
"Pity," he said with a small frown. Laughing, she pushed Jin towards the area where James and Teddy were waiting.
Harry approached her next. "How're you doing Fiona?" he asked. She smiled at him, butterflies in her stomach. Even though she had met him before and was dating his nephew, Harry Potter still made her nervous.
"Swell," she responded. "And you?"
"Better now that we can get these blasted knots tied. I'm pretty sure Ted was about to Metamorph himself into a troll and a best man can only do so much."
Fiona let out a snort. "Happy to help, Mr. Potter."
Behind him was Keith, who immediately began to teasingly flirt with Fiona. "Aren't you married?" Louis snapped hotly.
"I'm just being nice, Lou," Keith replied with a lopsided grin. He looked directly at Fiona. "Wasn't I just being nice?"
Fiona nodded, trying to bite back the grin on her face. "So nice. The nicest."
"Bloody hell, woman," Louis growled.
Fiona released an unattractive burst of giggles as she tightened the tie around Keith's neck. "Go away," she managed, before becoming face to face with Albus. "Ah, Baby Potter."
He looked affronted. "I'm not Baby Potter, I'm Middle Potter."
She grasped his tie in her hand and repeated the motions once again. "Sure thing, infant."
"I'm not sure you understand the concept of a middle child, Fiona."
Fiona looked at him. "I'm holding essentially a noose around your neck right now-"
"Yeah, I should really stop talking."
Fiona smirked. "It'd be for the best."
Once the tie was finished, she patted his cheek kindly. "You're not half bad, Baby Potter."
Albus snorted and rolled his eyes. "You're not so bad yourself, Fiona."
Once Albus was gone, Fiona was face to face with a slightly agitated Louis. She smirked. "Should've known your tie wouldn't be done."
Louis rolled his eyes as she picked up the ends. "No one's ties were done, but I'm the one getting shamed for it?"
She peered up at him through thick, dark lashes. "Your tie is never done. I've seen you with a tied tie once in my life, and it was when you met my folks."
"Clip on," he said with a toothy grin.
Fiona laughed and shook her head. "Of course it was. How'd you get through Hogwarts without ever learning how to tie a tie?"
"If I recall correctly, it was one of the things you loved most about me."
Fiona snorted. "Yeah, okay." She tightened his tie and straightened it just below the Adam's apple bobbing in his neck. "This feels very domestic of us."
Her eyes were focused on his lips as they spread into a smirk. "I like it," he replied. He bent his head and took her mouth with his own hungrily. The passion in his kiss made Fiona's knees go weak as she clutched him, desperately searching for grounding.
When he pulled away from her, he muttered darkly, "No more flirting with other blokes in front of me."
She chuckled. "If you promise to snog me like that after I do, I'll be flirting with every bloke I see."
"I love weddings!" Hope exclaimed happily as she casually sipped on her fourth glass of wine. Beside her at the table sat James on her right, bemusedly allowing her hand to toy with his hair subconsciously. On the other side of James was Fiona, who was happily ignoring Louis even though he was attempting to get her attention by rubbing his hands over her shoulders and back. "I especially love weddings when Dora isn't being sad anymore." Dorothy, who sat on the other side of Hope, and had snorted into her own glass of wine.
"Anything I can do for you," she replied in a sing song voice. She was doing her best to catch up to Hope in glasses of wine consumed, specifically to shut her brain up about the boy casually slumped in the chair on her other side: Fred. Seating charts and meddling cousins are awful.
Remember the Hallows, a small voice instructed in the back of her mind as Dorothy waved over a waiter to fill her glass again. Beside her, Hope had continued to gush, "I especially love when I'm in weddings."
James's face blanched slightly, and he turned his head to Fiona. "Is that a hint?"
She snorted loudly. "Breathe in and out, Potter, she's drunk."
His whole body visibly relaxed. "Right, of course." He paused for a moment before adding, "The last time she was drunk, she told me I smelled like chocolate and sex under the stars." Hope's hand yanked slightly on James's hair and he yelped.
Fiona's eyes widened. "Oh, did she now? How curious…" Fiona leaned around James to look at a slightly perturbed Hope. "Should I get you another glass of wine before I ask what you think of me?"
Hope smirked at her. "Oh, honey, you know I'd shag you any day of the week, drunk or not."
Fiona grinned at James. "Suck it, Potter, she loves me sober!"
"I love you sober," Louis said, obviously getting frustrated with the lack of attention he was receiving.
"Yeah, you're alright," Fiona said, brushing him off.
"That's it," Louis said, his frustration only half feigned. He stood and pulled Fiona unceremoniously from her chair. "Back to the dance floor with you."
"What?" Fiona said, stumbling as Louis began leading her to the group of people dancing. "Hope was about to tell me about how she wants to shag me more than she wants to shag James!"
"Not true," Hope called. Louis laughed, while James perked up next to her. "Don't get your hopes up, Potter." Dorothy laughed loudly and poured the remainder of her wine down her throat.
"Hope, dance with me."
"Whoa, Dorothy, you can't just steal my girlfriend," James said.
"Well, considering she's my date, I can." Dorothy rose to her feet and offered Hope her hand. "Hope?"
She pressed a kiss to James's forehead. "I'll see you in a bit, love. You should probably go fix your hair, it looks awful."
"And whose fault is that?" he teased. She merely grinned at him, then flounced off to the dance floor with Dorothy.
After a few minutes, the song playing in the white tent changed to something slower, and James appeared behind Hope. "My turn," he said, whisking Hope away from Dorothy. Both girls laughed.
"Hmm, Potter, have you been practicing?" Hope teased.
"Maybe," he said as color blossomed on his cheeks. Hope grinned and planted a firm kiss on his mouth.
Dorothy felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned to see Freddie looking at her expectantly. "You want to dance?" he asked, the first thing he'd said to her since their strange conversation the day before.
Dorothy blinked rapidly. "Uh, sure. Yeah."
He held a hand out, and she took it hesitantly. She could feel Hope's eyes on her, but tried to ignore it, hoping James's newfound dancing skills would distract Hope from her meddling. Freddie placed the hand that wasn't already holding hers at her waist, and Dorothy laid her free hand on his shoulder. There was an awkward amount of space between them, so she inched closer and was immediately overcome with a scent that was so unbelievably Fred.
"Nice ceremony," he said offhandedly.
"Huh?" she replied. "Yeah, it was great. Vic looks amazing."
"Lou said she's been a nightmare."
Dorothy couldn't help but chuckle. "Sounds like Vic."
"Happy now though, yeah?"
Dorothy peered over Fred's shoulder, quickly finding the beaming face of Victoire Weasley, now Lupin, spinning in circles with an equally giddy Teddy. "Looks like it."
Silence fell between the pair of them. It was almost not strained, almost felt like old times. Dorothy let her head fall forward and rest against him. She knew she wasn't supposed to, but in this moment, all she wanted to do was tell him. She want to tell him how much she missed him, how much she needed him. She wanted to tell him about the Hallow's Program, a decision she never would've made without a serious discussion with him first, and how much excitement it was giving her. She wanted to tell him everything.
Just as she opened her mouth to speak, she heard him say, "Of course he's watching."
She picked her head up to look around. "Who's watching?"
Her brow furrowed in confusion. "Why's he watching?"
"Guess he wants to make sure I'm holding up my end of the deal."
Her eyes moved to Fred's face, and she frowned at the detached expression he wore. "Deal?"
"He threatened to hold back on giving me some reigns in the stores if I didn't shape up."
Dorothy had a bad feeling about the answer to the question she was about to ask, but couldn't stop the words from pouring out of her mouth. "Is that what this is? You shaping up to keep the store?"
Fred's eyes flashed to hers, and Dorothy prayed that her face was just as emotionless as it had been earlier in the day. "He thinks I've changed, and he doesn't like it. Especially because of what happened between us."
Dorothy forced herself to swallow the lump in her throat, forced herself to breathe, before she replied, "So you want him to think things are improving between us."
"Yeah, pretty much."
There was a moment as Dorothy tried to steady herself. "And once we're back at school? Will it be back to painful silences and pretending the other doesn't exist?"
"I doubt that." Dorothy felt a swell of hope in her chest, and she looked up at him. He wasn't looking at her as he continued, "Now that you've come to terms with Hope and James dating, I assume we'll be seeing quite a bit more of each other. And with Fi, Hope, and James, there won't really be room for silence, right?"
Dorothy nodded numbly. She'd never felt more unwanted than in this moment. "Course," she said, unable to restrain the cold edge to her voice.
His gaze snapped to her. "What?"
"Don't," she said, focusing her gaze at a paper lantern over his shoulder. "Wouldn't want Georgie to think we weren't getting along, no? Can't risk the future of Wheezes."
"Dor," he said, sounding impatient.
"You've made it very clear that you have no interest in fixing things, Fred. I'm happy to keep up the charade for your dad, you've certainly done enough for me over the years to have earned that courtesy. Once we're back at school, our friends will fill in the gaps for us, and we won't ever have to worry about forcing conversation. I get it."
"Just finish the dance, Fred."
He said nothing in reply. Hallows, the voice reminded her. One more term, and then you're gone.
I would love to hear all your thoughts and feelings! Next chapter, we'll be back to Hogwarts and then it's SEQUEL TIME!