As the music swelled and the crowd looked on, Hermione walked down the aisle bedecked in the most beautiful Muslin white robes with layers. It was a rather fitting combination for her: pieces of her Muggle past and wizarding future. She watched the heads turn, and this time, instead of whispering words of pity, of sympathy, they were talking about beautiful, how ravishing, how lucky this girl was. This was the same girl who had experienced the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows within a short period a decade earlier.
She passed by Dr. Boonyfetter who sat in towards the back of the chapel; he nodded slightly, and she was proud to have him there. He was almost a grandfather to her children, and she loved him for being there when she or her husband weren't there. Mrs. Hopkins sat next to Dr. Boonyfetter, dabbing her eyes. Next to her old employer were Anna and Joseph Granger, her parents, her rocks during the firestorm that had occurred years earlier. They had stood by her and supported her, and for that, she would be ever grateful. Next to her parents were Remus and Sirius, whispering about how joyful the occasion was. Remus had finally made his peace with Severus, and would be a happier man for it.
Some ways up was the Weasley family: Mr. and Mrs. Weasley with some random grandchild on their knees - probably one of the absent Bill's twins. Beside them was Ron, coyly smiling at Hermione, but touching the long hair of Susan Bones possessively, the girl whom he had recently started seeing. The twins were next to Susan, and they were solemn - for a moment that is, until both Fred and George, almost on cue, started sticking out their tongues and picking their noses in an exaggerated manner. She almost laughed right then and there. Next to the twins sat Draco and Ginny Malfoy who had married just a year earlier, and to everyone's complete surprise, had survived the first year of marriage with enough energy to conceive a child. And next to them sat Percy and Parvati Patil Weasley with their youngster in the middle of them.
In a row right in front of that odd couple was another, even stranger pairing, that had withstood the test of time. A couple of the most unlikely sort: Neville and Pansy Longbottom, squeezing each others' hands, no doubt glorying in Hermione's day, but also remembering their own wedding day years before. On either side of them were Hermione's godchildren, Frankie, looking as bored as humanly possible, yawning, and Trevor, with his father's stoutness and his mother's angelic features, looking almost excited as the three little people in front of him.
Hermione looked forward and made eye contact with him, her husband, her soul. Tall, incredibly handsome with his dark hair and deep eyes. Her unexpected discovery in a sea of emotion. It had been an excruciatingly long path for each of them, but in time, they committed to each other. There had been so many things keeping them separate, so many different obstacles that needed to overcome, and they had done it. Together. She loved him. The thought of him alighted her soul, gave her vision when she thought herself blinded by doubt. He was the father of her three children, her soulmate, her everything.
She approached the altar, almost as nervous as she was at their first wedding. The music stopped and she stood there for a moment next to her beloved. She could barely believe that they were a decade into their marriage. It seemed like just yesterday they had come together in marriage. He stared at her for a moment, disbelieving that she would be willing to renew their vows. Disbelieving that this angel would want to commit to him again.
The clergyman cleared his throat as the congregation settled into their seats. "We are gathered her today to renew the vows made long ago by this man and this woman..." He went on a bit about the sanctity of marriage, sniffles from the congregation entered her ears, but all Hermione could focus on was this man in front of her who had completed her life long before she even knew it was possible. "And now for the part that you have all been waiting for... the vows. Do you, Hermione Granger, reaffirm the commitment you made to your husband, Oliver Wood, some ten years ago?" he asked.
Hermione looked up at her husband, lean and masculine, tears creeping into each of their eyes, and took him in for a moment. Something was missing as they stood up there, making another vow to be together forever. She eyed her babies in the front row next to her parents and Dr. Boonyfetter, and then looked questioningly at the clergyman. "If I could bring my three children up for the vows, I would love it." At that, five-year-old Olivia Berit, three-year-old Antonia Elizabeth and teenaged, all-around great kid wrangler Julian Anthony rushed up. Ollie and Annie stood in front at the side of Mummy, while Julian hugged his mum and took a spot near Dad, who ruffled his hair.
The minister stopped for a moment. "Let's try this again," he laughed. "Do you, Hermione Granger, reaffirm the commitment you made to your husband, Oliver Wood, ten years ago, to stand by him in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, 'til death do you part?"
"Of course I do," she whispered, full of emotion.
"Go, Mummy!" shouted Ollie from the side of her as Hermione's eyes misted up so badly she couldn't see her husband standing not a foot in front of her.
"And do you, Oliver Wood, reaffirm your commitment to your wife, Hermione Granger, to stand by her in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, 'till death do you part?"
Oliver released Hermione's hand for a moment as he wiped a tear from his eye. "I reaffirm my commitment to her - but only for another thousand years. After that, we'll see," he joked, and the congregation laughed as Ollie mouthed to Julian standing across from her, hands on hips, "But what happens after a thousand years?!"
Nobody saw Harry enter the back of the church, and it didn't matter really. He saw Hermione smiling, surrounded by her children with Oliver - the children that might have been his had he been selfish, had he been normal, had he been strong enough to keep her. Even though he wasn't invited, he knew she wouldn't mind him being there. She laughed as she kissed Oliver's boy; Oliver's hand was tied possessively around her waist as he hugged his older daughter and called out, "Annie! Come here, princess!" to the girl who danced in front of the rest of the family. The toddler looked remarkably like what Harry thought his child with Hermione may have looked like - light brown curls that cascaded over her dark blue robes, reminding him very much of her mother.
It was in that moment that he knew he had made the right decision in releasing her; all the doubt he had held for years living in seclusion left him. Oliver was emotionally available - he was more a partner than Harry ever could have been. Harry hadn't given Hermione to Oliver - he was surprised as the rest of the world when Hermione started seeing the widower some three years after their divorce - but it was better this way:
Oliver had given her a life that the demons in his past would never allow him to give her.
When Harry walked out the large wooden doors of the chapel, no one was the wiser, except for Hermione, who knew he would show, who knew him better than he knew himself. It was hard to miss the unruly hair in the glistening sunlight - one of the staple memories of her first husband. As Anna Granger snapped photo after photo, she hugged her family in front of the altar and she silently thanked Harry.
After being drained of everything humanly possible, freedom was the one thing he had left to give her.
And the one thing for which she would be forever grateful.
SnapeJuice ducks the tomatoes being thrown at her by the Pumpkin Pie eaters from her place on deck the Good Ship R/H
THANK YOU GUYS SO MUCH FOR STICKING BY ME AND ENCOURAGING ME TO FINISH THIS STORY!
So that's it.
I hope you liked it.
It took me way too long, but I finished it!
As a devout, devout, devout Hermione/Ron shipper, Harry and Hermione were never going to end up together. Yay! And so I have finally revealed my secret: happy endings don't exist for Harry and Hermione.
Not in my story, thank you - and considering that I'd already made Ron "the mayor of the Friend Zone" (in the esteemed Joey Tribbiani's words from Friends) I couldn't logically allow him to marry Hermione - and I liked the idea of a widower like Oliver finally getting a piece of happiness after the death of his wife, Toni.
I know Isa will love the ending because she would rather have Hermione end up with the Giant Squid before she'll be Mrs. Harry Potter forever and ever amen. I hope I did you proud, darling.
If you were intrigued by the Neville/Pansy pairing in this story, I have a work-in-progress (5 chapters) featuring everyone's favorite bumbling Gryffindor and hot-headed Slytherin. It is a spin-off of the Neville/Pansy featured in this story, as Pansy attempts to deal with teenage motherhood, a klutz for a husband, Frankie, Trevor and toads. If you like humor mixed in with a little drama, then you may like "Of the Unlikely Sort." Just click on my profile above.
I am debating a sequel at this point. If you might be interested in seeing one, tell me so in your review.
Scream at me, yell at me, tell me this story was crap. Go on!