Author's Note: This is our final chapter. Writing, editing, and posting this story has been a long, often frustrating, but mostly joyous journey for me. Thank you all for coming along for the ride.
Special thanks, again, to me beta BurgundyHope.
Twenty-Three Years Later
"Witches and wizards, if I could have your attention please!"
Strings swelled behind George Weasley, dressed in his best robes, but the chatter under the marquee continued unabated. Blue, silver, and white balloons gathered over the linen draped tables, champagne shimmering gold in delicate flutes. Blue ribbons adorned every surface, white flowers sprouted from every cornice. Witches and wizards in the finest robes chatted and ate and made merry. But events like this had schedules, and the timeline called for dancing.
George, the designated emcee for all Weasley events, pressed his wand to his throat and roared, "OI!"
The violins screeched, the voices died away. In a far corner, arms crossed over his chest, Bill laughed. The weather hadn't cooperated. Rain fell all day long, forcing the ceremony inside Shell Cottage. The bride and groom stood before the hearth in the sitting room, bridesmaids and groomsmen squashed in beside them, and only family present. Granted, in a family this size, that meant standing room only, and their numbers still spread from the sitting room to the kitchen and up the stairs. It hadn't mattered. The bride cried, her mother cried, her sister rolled her eyes, and the deed was done.
"Witches and wizards," George said again. "I give you the new Mr. and Mrs. Edward Remus Lupin!"
There was applause as all eyes turned to the beautiful young couple. Teddy, his hair blue for the day, led Victoire onto the dance floor as the first strains of a love song played. They spun around in one another's arms, eyes only for each other. She was beautiful, of course, she looked like her mother.
"I admire how well you're taking this," Percy said. He handed Bill a new champagne flute. "I only saw one tear as you gave her away."
"That was Fleur," Bill replied, sipping from his glass.
"Sure it was," Percy agreed, ever discreet.
He was as bald as Dad now, and the father of two daughters of his own. The eldest, Molly, sat with Dominique and Roxy at one table, probably hatching schemes for a quick escape from all the grownups. Little Lucy, who wasn't so little anymore, sat next to Audrey with a book opened in her lap.
"It'll be your turn one day," Bill said, nudging his brother in the ribs. "I'd like to see you do as well."
Percy pushed his glasses up. "I'm afraid I'll be a complete mess when the time comes, but with any luck I won't have to worry about that anytime soon."
"Daughters grow up fast, Perce."
Audrey turned in her chair, looking around until her eyes landed on Percy. Crooking her finger, a devilish grin on her face, before turning back to the dance floor. Beside Bill, Percy turned red from his collar to the top of his head. Bill thanked the gods that he hadn't lost his hair.
"That's me," Percy muttered. He flashed a dopey grin, then loped off.
The groom twirled his bride around the parquet as a shower of gold stars fell over them. Romance was in the air. At the head table, Ginny was whispering in Harry's ear. Mum and Dad were holding hands at the side of the dance floor chatting with Andromeda Tonks, resplendent in silvery blue. In the back of the room, Angelina sat in George's lap, laughing.
It was a beautiful day, but not as beautiful as the woman walking towards Bill. She wore silver, her hair pulled back in elf-made combs, a slight glow emanating from her very heart. Just as beautiful as the day they married.
"Your son is snogging his girlfriend behind zee bandstand," Fleur reported.
Bill smirked. "He's a chip off the old block."
"Hmph." She leaned against him, and he put his arm around her shoulders, feeling the same thrill he did the first time he held her. "Zey are beautiful, non?"
"She is," Bill murmured, taking a moment to look at their eldest daughter. She was smiling hugely, radiant in her happiness, just as Fleur had been on their wedding day all those years ago. Fleur hadn't aged a day as far as Bill could tell, but maybe he was biased. He, on the other hand, had rather liberally streaked gray hair and the old scars were as livid as ever.
Taking Fleur's hand, Bill pulled her outside of the tent. He cast a quick Impervious charm to keep the rain from soaking them, then pulled Fleur against him. Beyond, their home glowed on the darkened cliffside, below the waves crashed against the beach. Somewhere, behind the clouds, stars twinkled in eternity. And in his arms, Fleur gazed up at him, tiny lines by her eyes from laughing so much over the last few decades.
Bill leaned down and kissed his wife. "I realize," he said after a moment, "that I'm old as dirt, but how are you possibly the mother of the bride?"
"Well, I was a very young bride, n'est-ce pas. Alas, too young. Zis old lecher, he stole me from zee cradle."
"Villain!" One corner of Bill's mouth quirked up. "Did we ever finish our first dance?"
Fleur brushed a hand through his hair, her eyes soft as she gazed up at him. "Oh, mon Bill, we shall never finish our first dance."
Inside the tent, the music swelled to a finish, and there was a smattering of applause before a new song began. Outside, Bill and Fleur's dance continued. There were moments when it still felt like they were the only two people in the world, but that had never been true. There were friends and family and even enemies along the way. Beyond the long war, the grief and illness, there was so much more. Anniversaries, weddings, children, birthdays, and above all, happiness.
"Papa," Dominique called, lifting the flap of the tent and peering out. "There you are! I swear, you two! It's time for the father-daughter dance."
"You're doing a splendid job as maid of honor," Bill told his second daughter.
"And you're falling down on yours. Chop, chop!"
"I'm afraid this dance is saved for another beautiful woman," Bill said to Fleur.
"Disgusting!" Dom said.
Fleur laughed. "Save the next one for me."