Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Katie Bell has been alone for the last four years. After the wedding of her best friend, she heads to the Leakey Cauldron. After she gets drunk, will she make some mistakes that she'll regret later? Oliver Wood/Katie Bell

Chapter One: Old Friends

"Come here Katie! Pictures!" My supposed best friend Alicia yelled at me loudly.

I put on the best grin I could muster and posed for several dozen pictures. This dress is KILLING me! I thought as I plastered the fake smile on my face for the millionth time as we all surrounded the happy couple. My dress was a pale cream color, some would call it ivory, I guess...but Alicia thought it would look wonderfully fantastic with corsets, so basically, I was about to keel over from lack of oxygen in a minute or two.

It was Alicia's wedding day. She was getting married to George Weasley, the prankster we had played Quidditch with in our Hogwarts days. They looked lovingly into each other's eyes as the photographer took another shot, sending a plume of purple smoke over everyone. I coughed, my eyes starting to water.

"Don't they just look adorable?" A woman I didn't even know, I think she was Alicia's friend, said to me, looking absolutely smitten with the picture perfect scene of Alicia and George holding hands and talking in low voices.

"Yeah, adorable." I said, feeling my heart drop several notches.

This was the eighth wedding in the past four years that I have been a bridesmaid. It had been Angelina and Fred first, nearly six months after we graduated Hogwarts. Then it had been a succession of childhood friends; Linda, Tara, Jason, Fiona, Chris and Morgan, my friends from Muggle Schools, had all found the person they would be spending the rest of their life with. Now it was Alicia's turn. Alicia, my best friend in the entire world. We had met in first year of Hogwarts and had become inseparable. We both had an incurable sweet tooth, and delighted in Honeydukes Sugar Quills and Peppermint Toads. We had both liked Quidditch and tried out for the team, and chewed our nails down to nubs before the team list was posted. Now she had George.

But after eight weddings, I was really getting sick of everything. I was sick of wedding cake, the smell of flowers, getting fitted for a dress, too many people saying the corniest things that they didn't mean, and hell, I was getting really sick of that damn song, "Here Comes the Bride"!!

I mostly picked at my food, feeling sick to my stomach. Alicia had made sure I had gotten a salad, since I'm a strict vegetarian, but she had made me promise not to lecture my neighbors about the consequences of meat consumption. Last time I did that, I ended up in a food fight with half the kids at Hogwarts and detention for a month. There was a very fat man to the right of me that kept belching and laughing loudly, sounding like a braying donkey, and the woman on the other side of me, I could probably tell you how many nose hairs she had, since she was sticking her nose up when she talked to me.

Nearly two hours later, I managed to navigate myself to the dressing room. I slipped into my blue shirt that flattered my blue-gray eyes, some tight jeans and some low-heeled boots. I caught sight of myself in the mirror that had been propped up in the corner of the room. A 22-year-old woman stared back at me. My thick curly light brown hair had been styled for the wedding, so I was going to go through the hassle of washing it out just yet. I've always been tall for my age, and athletic looking. I loved my eyes though. They were a wonderful combination of blue-gray and they changed with different moods. I threw on my jean jacket and snuck out so that Alicia didn't see me ditch the rest of her wedding. I did something I hadn't done in a long time.

I headed for the nearest pub.

I thanked the hair on Merlin's chin when I reached the Leakey Cauldron. I sat down at the bar. Seamus Finnigan had taken over for Tom after he retired. He and his wife, Hannah Abbott now ran it together. "Hey there, Katie." Seamus said, cleaning a mug with a towel. He gave me a his traditional bright Irish smile. "How are you?" After seeing my disgusted face he adopted a different tone. "Pick your poison." He said seriously.

"Give me a Butterbear." I said automatically. "Hard."

Seamus raised a single eyebrow at me. He fixed me my drink without saying another word. I drowned the Butterbear in less than a minute. I nodded to Seamus for another and then another and before long, I lost count of how many I had drunk. I didn't realize how late it was getting. I was getting angry and exaggerated. I do not take to alcohol well. Alicia can tell you some pretty embarrassing stories about our Hogwarts days, which involve me, detention with Snape for five months and cleaning Snape's robes. Did you know that vomit doesn't come out of cotton very well? I know that now.

"Katie?" A voice sounded behind me. "Is that you?"

I swiveled around in my seat to see the figure behind me. It was hard to make him out at first. My vision was dying on me.

When my eyes finally did come to rest on the tall man, I realized who it was.

Oliver Wood.