A/N This is the sequel to "A Year In Switzerland", following the on-going lives of Sirius, Remus, all their family and friends. How does life in peace develop? Read and see for yourselves, as we start the
Chapter 1 – Wedding Bells
Saturday, 25.7.1998 / Harry
Well, that's it, folks! We've done it. NEWTS are over, our school years belong to the past! The results have already come in and all of us have done well. Draco has owled Hermione already a few days before to congratulate her on her 'Best in the year' achievement. She growled, everyone else thought it hilarious. The results confirmed it. 'Mione and I are already registered at Avalon Academy. We'll start our university courses on September 1st and until then we will do really nothing.
Did I say we'd do nothing? We have a wedding planned and we have a load of work on preparing for it, how could I think we'd do nothing? That preparation work starts to get on the nerves of both of us and we get a bit snappish at times. And this is really worrying the both of us. Not only my parents, also hers as well as Sirius and Remus console us though and say that this is perfectly normal. Sirius tells us that we're almost a beacon of calmness and jokes about mum and dad. Dad's hexed him quite badly for this!
The most important things have been decided early on. We have the location, Hogwarts. We have the person to perform the wedding, which was very hard to decide, so in the end we wanted them both: Remus and Sirius. We have our best man and maid of honour, Ron and Ginny. We have the replies from those who have been invited, therefore we have the guest list complete. We don't want anything public, so there will be a Fidelius charm over the area during the whole wedding; the Secret Keeper will be Professor McGonagall. All of the people we have invited will be there; no one said they couldn't make it. We're most pleased about that indeed.
We apparate to Hogsmeade to talk with Professor McGonagall about the organisation of the reception. It will be held in the courtyard behind the Great Hall, which is large enough to hold the party. Hermione and Professor McGonagall discuss the seating arrangements and the decorations. It's a subject where I gladly trust the ladies' taste and better knowledge. I leave it to them completely.
Speaking of the ladies: they all seem to have gone into a wedding frenzy. Mum, Hermione, Ginny, Molly, even Professor McGonagall! They seem to have a thousand little things to discuss about. I just begged them to decide and I'd be happy to play along with it. All the men around me who were there at that time sniggered rather loudly. Especially those men who are already married, like dad and Mr. Weasley. Must be a woman thing that. I'm just wondering why McGonagall seems to be so knowledgeable about it, was she ever married?
Then we have a very serious talk about the wedding traditions in wizarding weddings. We gather ideas and traditions from all the adult wizards we know and make a list from which we choose what we'd like to have for our ceremony. Another hard decision. It seems that wizarding weddings aren't religious. They're a very touching ceremony, but it's all about the relationship that the bride and groom have and about binding them together in a magical bond. There are about twenty bonding spells and we have to choose from them. We sit together with mum and dad and ask them for advice. Remus and Sirius are there, too, of course.
„Which one or which ones should we choose?" Hermione asks.
„Basically don't choose anyone that could hurt one of you if you ever want to separate," says Remus.
That eliminates six of them. The remaining spells are quite different. Some put more weight on the fidelity, others more on the fertility and some others more on the health. Sirius tells us that usually the couple chooses a combination of three to four of them.
„You probably haven't heard of many divorces in the wizarding world. That's partly because of those spells not counting those you just eliminated. If one of your bonding spells contains the fidelity part then you are much more aware of the needs of your partner and you will be enabled to react to that need. Both of you. Women will take more heed of what men actually say and that they mean it literally, men will learn to listen between the lines and take more action towards what their wives need. The performer of the wedding will cast those spells on both of you with a team of four casters, we're two performers that could result in the spells becoming a bit stronger. Or you decide you want only one of us to be in the team that casts them, of course. It's usual that the maid of honour and best man are part of the team and one part of the parents of both partners. In your case only James and Lily are around, but they could take part for both of you. Or Hermione could choose someone of her own preference."
"Do what you think you'll be comfortable with," mum advises, "and don't touch these spells here, they have been thrown on almost every pureblood bride in the past thousand years. They wouldn't even be able to look at another man with those spells."
"Lily is right – these loyalty spells are dangerous. If the men were at least somewhat nice they would usually release their wives from them once they had given birth to the desired amount of children. Since my mother delivered two possible heirs to the name she was allowed her bedfellows as she pleased. As long as she was discreet. Don't know if she was ever able to charm one though, she was dead ugly," says Sirius.
Decisions, decisions. It seems to never end. Every night in bed we still discuss subjects that have to do with that blasted wedding. The catering is the smallest problem. We've talked with the house-elves at Hogwarts who really would be miffed if they weren't allowed to cook the dinner and bake the cake, so all we have to do is give them a list of the dishes we'd like to eat. Hermione of course is worried that we take some of their time to recuperate from the school year, but luckily one of them tells her to stop that and just enjoy the food she'd be getting and that they were so honoured to procure the wedding dinner for Mr. and Mrs Potter, something of which every house-elf in the whole country would only dream. Hermione promises each of them ten Galleons as an extra gift and thank you for their work and insists on it. They only accept when she threatens them to have a caterer from somewhere else altogether.
But in spite of the preparations for the wedding we have a wonderful time. Draco invites Parvati, Blaise and Padma to an extended holiday in France. They will be back in time for the wedding. We're staying at the Sunnegg, but we do apparate to some beach now and then to get a little dip in the Mediterranean.
When 1st August finally draws near we get a bit skittish and only the final fitting of Hermione's dress robes, which I'm of course not allowed to see calms my soon to be wife down.
In between all of the preparations are mum, dad, Remus and Sirius who have to take care of their little ones. I love my little brother, just like I love Lizzie! Andy is cool, usually rather quiet and smiles after only a few weeks. Seraina and Dennis are really cute, too. Dennis is a bit livelier, but I suppose that would be Siri's son! We have decided that Ginny and I would be godparents to Seraina and Hermione and dad would be godparents to Dennis. I really love all three of those little buttons, as they are sweet and cuddly and I don't think that apart from sleeping with my lover there could be anything nicer than having a baby on my arm. Seraina is so tiny, but she's growing as fast as her brothers. I'll spoil these children rotten! Let Siri and Remus fix it through their parenting, I'll take the liberty of spoiling them. When I tell Remus and Sirius about those plans though they grin and Sirius says:
„That's why children have grandparents and godparents, you know. We know we're the unpleasant guys who will have to say 'no' all the time. You go ahead and be the nice guy! But let me warn you. Once you have some of your own turnabout is fair game!"
He's really grown up! But we do baby-sit for them sometimes, so that the four parents get time for an extra nap or a shopping trip or simply to send them to go out sometimes. They haven't had anything of that sort in the past three years apart from that weekend in Montreux for Sirius and Remus, and their vacation in France last year. They are most thankful for that, too. We don't need lessons in changing nappies and feeding the children anymore, we've had them all with Lizzie.
Lizzie is getting in between everything. She's a very happy-go-lucky little girl who comes out to dad with mum's eyes and it's sometimes like looking into a mirror for me – without the scar. She's just turned two and mum keeps sighing about the "terrible twos" approaching – I don't think she means Remus' and Sirius' twins. Once Lizzie has graced us with a couple of temper tantrums I understand what mum's been talking about. Apparently two year olds have a mind very much of their own.
To make the distinction we're not usually talking about the triplets as triplets. It's Andy and the twins more than anything else. The children need to learn the difference between the different adults from the beginning. As I've said, I adore my little brother. If Lizzie has been placid as a baby, he's a real sloth. Loves to sleep whenever he can and when he yawns I'm almost afraid he's going to swallow me. Mum lets me have him whenever I'm in the mood to take him on my arms.
The twins are cute, too. Both love baths. Seraina loves singing. By the end of July she smiles at me when I hum a melody, regardless how off-key it may sound. She looks straight in my eyes and smiles. What a wonderful feeling to be recognised now! Laying down she can turn from the back to the side and her tummy easily now and she looks up and grabs things. Siri says it's because her eyes are developing now, they get stronger and each day she can see a bit farther. Seraina's eyes are a velvety brown, very much like Hermione's. She has a shock of very light brown hair. I can't stop looking at her tiny hands and feet. When I've heard about that spell they've used to influence the twins' looks I didn't want to believe it to be possible. But now I can see that both of them really come out after their fathers. It's amazing. And cute in a way, especially how much Seraina is like her papa.
One afternoon I'm outside giving her the bottle and when Hermione sits down next to me I look over to her for a moment and say:
„That's what expects us soon, my love."
„I'm glad for all these little ones here, though. It helps us be a bit patient until we've finished our studies."
„Wouldn't it be fun if ours would be able to go to Hogwarts with them? Think of McGonagall's horror of having a Black, a Potter and a Lupin and then another Potter there at the same time again!"
„That's true! But who knows, I wouldn't put it past them that they produce another batch in a few years. It will still be fun then!"
I have to laugh, too. Oh, Hermione, if you knew how much this little one makes me long for one of my own. If the feeling of holding this one who's my godchild, is so good, how much better will it be to hold my own on my arms? Every time I see Sirius, Remus or my parents lift one of them up I can see so much love in their eyes that I almost want to cry. I know it's maudlin, but it's how it makes me feel.
Back to the wedding. The plans are finished, the preparations almost done, Ron and Ginny are VERY secretive about some schemes of their own, I bet they are going to put us to shame badly, but what the heck, it should be fun. There are moments I curse this wedding, but then there are those moments when I can't wait! It's not even so much the thought of the knot that will be tied. Even with those bonding spells I think they cannot "make" a bond that isn't there already. I will believe that they enhance a bond though. I'm looking forward to the whole thing and I'll just take it as it comes.
Friday, 31.7.1998 / Harry
Finally a quiet birthday, no party, just quietly sitting together and having fun. The twins, Draco and Blaise tell us about their holidays. We share a few bottles of wine and a large plate with a large selection of cheese and things. Hermione has been to the bakery in Lützelflüh to get many really nice flûtes. The crunchy bread, a bit of olive oil with loads of pressed garlic inside, the cheese, the wine and the good company make for one of the nicest birthdays so far. I have decided that I'm too grown for silly gifts now, the gift of the friendship and the time my friends spend with me is much more important. Next to the Sunnegg gang the Weasley twins, Angelina, Alicia, Katie, Oliver Wood, Seamus, Dean and Lavender are with us, too.
Mandy is back after having left her parents for good. She's moved back into her room and will apparate to her job at the Ministry, which will start on August 3rd. She got in contact with Amos Diggory who was glad to get someone who wanted to work at his department and so she got the Werewolf Registry and Support Unit. Blaise and Padma have come back from Padma's parents. Padma is also moving on to Avalon Academy with Hermione and I; she'll have her major in Transfiguration though. Parvati is going to St. Mungo's as a healer apprentice and Draco has already started to do something with the Weasley twins. Funny, that Draco has found the Weasley twins, but ever since we've been to the Aquamare together they are tossing around ideas after ideas for some crazy scheme. They seem to enjoy themselves a lot with those plans. If it makes any sense, Draco will back the twins up financially and will join them to work on the project. Of course he doesn't really need to work, but this to me is the clearest sign of his change of attitude, he isn't blasé anymore, he can laugh freely and knows how to have fun. Morag is back as well. Her parents don't mind it at all that she prefers to stay with the bunch of us and they know she's well cared for. They can come and see her anytime they please anyway. She wants to work herself through Muggle schooling, so she can teach at the Hogsmeade primary school. She's started a course through correspondence. She says it's fun. Blaise is going to come to Avalon Academy, too, he's in for Charms and so are Ernie and Ginny. Justin and Ron have successfully applied for the Auror training. Lastly Neville has found a job as a herbologist at a wizarding gardening company in Hogsmeade. He'll apparate to work, too.
So tonight is really a conversation about our prospects, about how we think we're going to build up our lives. We all have plans and Remus keeps encouraging us to make plans. He says the world will not stop turning if we change plans on the way as opportunities or situations may demand, but that we need to have ideas and goals to reach. For the next three years Hermione and I will learn a lot. Probably a whole lot of very old and rather cryptic stuff, but I'm actually looking forward to it. Who knows, maybe Hermione and I will be able to change some of the really strange ways in this magical world based on our knowledge.
We will all apparate to Hogsmeade tomorrow and fly over to Hogwarts on our brooms early tomorrow morning or walk. Siri and Remus have their apartment prepared; I will get dressed in their bedroom, while Hermione gets dressed in the guest room. Winky will look after the children for the time Sirius and Remus will be occupied with the ceremony. We are terribly nervous. But we've talked it all through. I didn't want a rehearsal, because I think this is something we want to experience firsthand, not scheduled to the last second. Who cares if the party isn't ready at exactly one o'clock? Who cares if the cake is rolled in two minutes early? No one. Hermione and I want a day that's important to both of us, not a perfectly choreographed stiff affair. We want our families and friends to accompany us to our life as a married couple and give us the start we all need: built on love, fun, friendship and happiness.
During the evening I drift in and out of the discussions. I turn to Hermione and ask her:
„Do you want us to walk up to the castle together tomorrow morning or do you think we should take the brooms?"
„We could take the brooms. But the weather is supposed to be nice, so why not walk?" she says.
„Walk it is then. Afterwards we'll be off right away anyway… and then we might be glad for the brooms."
We plan to come and pick up our prepared luggage from here and immediately apparate to a wizarding resort in Fiji. We'll have two weeks for ourselves down there and should have a nice trip around as well as loads of time of lounging about on the beach.
But we're not there yet I have to remind myself. Just before midnight I suggest we both go to bed.
„Yes, that's probably a good idea," she says.
We get up, take each other's hand and wish everyone a good night. We have discussed whether we want to spend the night apart, but have decided against it. I'm in no mood for drugging myself before my wedding, which is why I also forewent a real stag night in favour of this birthday party, and we see it no different from any other night. We are both quite tired though, so falling asleep is no problem. Both our wedding dress robes are already at Hogwarts, Remus and Sirius have already taken the twins there and will be waiting for us when we arrive. The others will apparate shortly before the ceremony is to start at one o'clock.
It's going to be a wizarding wedding from beginning to end. George and Helen, Barb and Housi will be the only Muggles and they have all four spontaneously asked if they would be allowed to wear robes as well. So Barb and Housi have travelled to Britain a couple of days ago and Sirius must have gone shopping with them at Gladrags Wizardwear. With thoughts like these I fall asleep.
What a feeling! My oldest son turns eighteen today and gets married tomorrow. Tonight we celebrate what should be the stag night, but Harry just wanted a quiet birthday party with all of his friends. It's great weather today, so we've set up table on the terrace, where this large group of people finds space.
I watch him in the circle of his friends, the Sunnegg gang, enlarged by a bunch of other friends from Hogwarts, who I learned to know in the course of the last year, when they were allowed to come here once the Sunnegg was released from the state of a safe house. There are Ron's older twin brothers, Fred and George, who are so pleased to finally know the Marauders in person. I'm so pleased to see these two highly spirited boys making a very good life of their own. Their mother had been so worried that they'd find themselves in the gutter if they didn't get a post at the Ministry. I knew that this was nonsense when I heard it for the first time. Fred and George are really good at inventing. They are pretty good at doing business and they're great at being wonderful persons. After two years standing on their own feet Molly should have recognised.
Ron's oldest brother Bill. What a fine young man he's become. He used to hang around us Marauders a lot when he came to Hogwarts first. When we left he was a very nice, moderately mischievous boy of thirteen already on the way of becoming Headboy later on. These days he's easily the coolest young man in the group sitting around the large table in front of the house.
Charlie Weasley has come together with Tonks. Methinks they sit a bit closer than necessary. I nudge Lily and whisper:
"Lily, do you think there's something going on with these two?"
She looks over discreetly and turns back to me.
"If there is – she shouldn't get too close to these dragons of his… would be neat for Tonks, don't you think?"
"Not only that, she needs it. She's what? 27? And hardly ever had an affair… poor thing."
"Not easy being a Metamorphmagus, I suppose. Her husband would never know her real face…"
"Yeah, I suppose, that takes a bit of trust."
Angelina Johnson, Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnet, Oliver Wood and Lee Jordan are friends of Harry's from the Gryffindor Quidditch team. While Lee hasn't played, they tell me that he's almost put McGonagall into St. Mungo's with his comments at the matches. They reminisce about several of those matches and laughter fills the evening air. Draco looks a bit sour, as he seems to have seen at the short end of some of those matches. They hold no grudge against him anymore though.
I get to speak to Oliver for a bit and he tells me about his Quidditch career. He's been hired as a reserve Keeper for Puddlemere several years ago and has moved up to play about half of their matches. We get to talk for a while and he wants to know all about my own career. He knows I've captained the Gryffindor team for two years, too.
"Not much of a career at all. I suppose, I could try out for the odd team, but I'd have to train to be fit again," I say.
"Then why don't you? You're like what? 23? I could give you several dates of try-outs for some of the teams. Puddlemere's are next Friday. Pride of Portree is in the fourth week of August, the same as the Montrose Magpies. Owl them that you want to take part, if you want to that is. Usually the teams send scouts to Hogwarts, but if you send them an owl they take everyone who wants to try out."
Why not? I've missed Quidditch a lot. Just playing a bit with the kids wasn't enough. I look at Lily. She wouldn't mind, I suppose. And it's by far not said that I'd get a place on any of the teams, let alone a starting place. On the other hand, technically and physically I'm only 24, so I could have a good fifteen to twenty years' time left to spend with my hobby on a professional basis. Even being paid for it. Chasers usually hold up quite a while.
"I'll think about it."
Angelina and Alicia are already professional Quidditch players as well. Both have been taken on as Chasers at the Holyhead Harpies, which is Sirius' favourite team.
At this moment, Harry gets up and asks:
"How about a little pick-up game, people? We'd be enough to form two full teams."
There's delight coming up in most of the faces. The teams are formed. I take Alicia and Ginny as co-Chasers, Justin and Fred as Beaters, Ron as Keeper and Harry as the Seeker. The other team has Oliver as Keeper, Bill, Angelina and Padma as Chasers, Charlie as Seeker and George and Ernie as Beaters. We go up to the field, where we set up the goal posts. The field is staked out and charmed already since Sirius and I have done that for the kids a while ago.
Hermione referees. The others watch us, using magic to fix some seats in the trees. Once the Quaffle is out Ginny flies forward to grab it and passes it on to Alicia immediately. We get the feel of each other first, so that we can start to use some of the standard plays. Soon we're all very much immersed in the game and I'm very happy, because it's been too long since the last time I got to play Quidditch. More than two hours into the game Harry snatches the Snitch and we win the game by 120 points. Returning to our places along the table we discuss the match and talk about plays gone well and moves that have been barred successfully.
It's really just a lot of fun.
Saturday, 1.8.1998 / Hermione
Mum and dad have a Portkey to get to Hogwarts. Remus and Sirius have taken care of Housi and Barb already. Harry and I get up and take our shower together quickly. We are both very excited and a bit nervous, too, now. But this must be healthy according to my Mum. Mum said on the Commumirror yesterday that she's very curious as to how that wedding will be enacted and I said so am I. Neither Harry nor I have ever taken part in a wizarding wedding. From all the traditions everyone talked about we picked the ones we thought would fit to us and would be the most fun for us. Harry wants a fun wedding not a 'choreographed stiff affair' he says and I have to say I want that, too. Rehearsing a wedding means taking every surprise out of it. And I know I've been thinking about wonderful weddings in white gowns and veils and everything, but now I can do well without the white gown. I'm looking forward to start dressing. Ginny and Ron will apparate up with us and then Ginny will coach me, while Ron has to sooth Harry's twitching nerves.
James and Lily told us about their wedding. How much fun it was in spite of the dark times and that they took something like a time-out from the war. How they couldn't do something really big, just them and their best friends and closest family, a circle that was amazingly small. How Remus had to sober up a very smashed James and Sirius after the stag night. And what their own degree of nervousness was. That did wonders to cure mine!
We eat breakfast together and then apparate to Hogsmeade. It's a beautiful day, crisp and cool, but sunny. I've been here yesterday to oversee the preparation of the site in the courtyard, where the ceremony will take place. Since the weather forecast had been a bit unsure we planned to possibly cover the large courtyard next to the Great Hall with a rain repellent spell. Our party is fairly moderate, there are of course many of our schoolmates from Gryffindor, Harry's team mates, the whole Weasley clan, some of the Hogwarts staff and lots of Aurors we have learned to know over the past years. I take Harry's hand. He looks down on me, and smiles.
„We're really doing this, love," he says.
„Yes, love, we're really doing this. We'll enjoy a fun day, Harry. Together with so many friends! Would you have imagined anything like that when you rode the Hogwarts Express for the first time?"
„Never! I was still so caught up in the Dursleys' hatred and all. All I could think about was that where I went to would have to be better than where I came from. Is it really only seven years since then?"
„Would you have thought of anything like this?"
„No. But we're so happy now…"
„I can't wait!" I say.
James and I accompany Harry and Hermione to Hogwarts. We stay a bit behind them, while we all walk up from the gates across the sun-flooded grounds. It really is a strange feeling to think that I have a son who's old enough to get married. But there he is – as sure of this as he is that his name is Harry. He knows it's right, and Hermione knows it's the right thing. We can only wish them well.
I shift Andy on my arm. James has Lizzie who is quite the nuisance again, she wants down, but then she doesn't want to walk, crying for daddy to pick her up, and then daddy says no and Lizzie goes straight into the temper tantrum. Luckily she is still wearing her jeans and t-shirt. To avoid that she repeats something like this during the ceremony I'll make her napping with a sleeping charm this afternoon. She'll need the nap anyway.
It's so difficult to decide when to be strict and when to be lenient sometimes. She's testing our resilience at the moment and we have to watch out not to overdo being strict or lenient. Both could do so much damage. I tend to be a bit stricter than necessary while James sometimes is caught up in her cute pouting. But he learns.
We reach the castle and go inside after waiting for Lily and James to catch up with us. Sirius is waiting for us in the Great Hall, as he promised. Also there at the teachers' table are Professors McGonagall and Flitwick. They give us a cheerful hello and we greet them back. Sirius hugs both of us and says:
„Come, sit down, you have at least another hour of time before you need to start to get dressed!"
„You have no idea. It will take two hours to tame my hair!" I tell him.
He just laughs.
„You're a witch, for Merlin's sake, you can use magic for that, can't you?"
„I don't know, but for some reason magic and my hair combined always cause some kinds of accidents," I tell him.
"Just like James," he laughs, "he can do whatever with his hair, nothing works with magic. Same with your poor soon-to-be husband. And Lizzie! Poor girl, she has quite the nest on her head. I feel sorry with your future children already! It's a Potter thing, you know, and they seem to be faithfully passing it down, too."
James boxes him in the arm. But they both grin. We've learned that it's an everlasting internal joke with them to make jabs at James' hairstyle. But we do take a seat for a while and chat with everyone there and then Sirius shows us the way to their suite.
„We have a lovely flight of rooms, three bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and a kitchen. It's on the ground floor. Through here!"
We follow through a tapestry and another solid looking wall and then through a long corridor. Then Sirius gives a portrait of an old witch a password and lets us all inside. We are entering the large living room with a lovely big window, which is actually a door to the courtyard beyond, two bay windows and two window seats. Sirius and Remus have already furnished it nicely. Sirius points to some bookcases and explains with a small grin:
„Remus has used Dumbledore's duplication spell for his books, so he'll have them ready here as well as at the Sunnegg. Some of them are in here, most are in our office."
„This really looks very nice, Sirius!"
„Yes, all the teachers have very lovely quarters. Now, here's our bedroom, Harry – in there! And this one's the nursery for the moment and this one's the guestroom for the moment. Hermione, that's your corner and yours, Ginny. I'm getting dressed myself and make sure that Harry will be out of the apartment before you come out. Your Mum and dad have a Portkey right in here, they should arrive shortly before one," Remus explains after greeting us all.
„Oh, that's good. I was a bit worried."
„They're doing fine, I've spoken with your Mum this morning. I'm really beginning to get used to your Commumirrors, you know…"
„That's great. I think that's kind of what I wanted."
"James, Lily, you two will have to do with the bathroom to change. But it's a spacey bathroom…" Sirius says regretfully.
"That will do," Lily declares.
Ginny and I go into the guestroom. Sirius has put a vanity in there, which I suppose he only added for my sake. I grin and since it's just shortly before noon Ginny gets to work. It will take some time to get my hair tamed. But then it's falling in a lovely braid on my back. Ginny has added morning glories to it, enchanted so they can't wilt before I take them off. The vines are artfully braided inside and she has managed to have leaves and flowers all on the top. The dress robe is hanging behind the door, perfectly ironed and all I'll have to do is pulling it over my lacy underwear. Ginny helps me to help watching out for my hairdo. I step into my shoes, which are ballerinas made from the same silk as my dress robes. The dress robes are made from finest silk, the under-dress is the same blue as the morning glories and the tunic I wear over it has a very lovely bluish purplish hue, like the centre of the morning glory flowers, a bit changing from one to the other colour. My flowers are white roses mixed with morning glories and baby's breath.
Harry and I have picked the colours and the fabrics together, so that the dress robes fit with each other. His will be the purple that's flickering in mine, only a shade darker. The cut of mine is fairly simple. It's like I imagine those dresses the ladies wore in the middle ages, long, flowing, held together in the middle over the tunic by an belt embroidered in gold. The sleeves are fitting closely up to the elbows where they start getting wider until they end in a long triangular bit down from my elbows. The neckline is round, a bit lower on the front than the back. Harry has surprised me a fairly heavy gold chain. It has no precious stones, but is made so intricately that jewels would have been a distraction. Now the chain falls prominently over the dress. When I remarked that the chain looked old, he explained that it was actually James who had gone to fetch it from the Gringotts vault. It's an old Potter family heirloom. With the lovely braid and the flowers in it I think I'm decorated just fine. I turn to Ginny.
„I like it," I say.
„That's the spirit, Hermione, meaning you like yourself right now. What better attitude to go into a partnership like marriage than that? If you'd hate yourself how could anyone else like you?"
„Actually I hated myself a lot for a good long time. You know, the buckteeth and the bushy hair… now that the teeth are just fine I find that the hair really isn't such a great problem. I could cut it after all, if I hated it so badly. But Harry likes it. But then Harry was never blinded by looks alone."
"That is definitely true. He prefers the natural look."
Ginny smiles. She's getting dressed rather quickly, I think, but she looks so lovely. She's wearing a dark marine blue set of silk dress robes, which Harry and I have given her and it's lined with gold everywhere and has gold embroideries on her chest, the collar and the sleeves. The belt outlining her tiny waist is a gold wire chain as well. It's cut in a similar fashion like mine, but still entirely different. She's wearing her coppery hair open except for a few strands outlining her face, which she gathers on the top on the back of her head with a small gold clip. Ernie has given her the clip and it looks like a very lovely bit of jewellery. I only heard about it yet, but now I can see it for the first time.
„Oh, Ginny, that clip is just lovely. And are these tiny sapphires on it?"
„Yes, which is why it fits these dress robes so perfectly. You know, you'll be the dashing bride, but I'll be the quite dashing maid of honour," she says and giggles a little.
I have to giggle, too. Then I reply:
„Well, I'm firmly in Harry's hands now, so I don't need to be the really dashing one, after all I'm off the 'marriage market' now. You can be as dashing as you want to be, love!"
Now we're both in fits of laughter. It's not entirely true anyway, because Ginny seems to still be so happy with Ernie I don't think they're going to break up anytime soon. I'm amazed at how well the couples held that were formed all the way back in fifth year. I suppose it's because we really had a lot of support and understanding from my in-laws and Sirius and Remus. They watched over us so well that we hardly would have been able to find reasons to fight. I look at the clock and notice it's almost time. Just then I can hear a crack and then new voices. Ginny looks up, too, and says:
„Let me go and check. It's probably your parents. I'll send your dad in as soon as it's time for you to come out, okay?"
„Yep, that's fine. See you then!"
She leaves and the minutes tick by endlessly slow. Then there's a knock on the door and my dad pokes his head around to say:
„Hey, darling, are you ready? – Wow!"
„Hi, dad! Did you get here well? – Oh, you look great in those robes!"
„You think so? They feel strange, but I think it will be nicer among all those robe-clad people. And you don't look great; you look splendid! As does Ginny, by the way. That coppery hair with those dark blue robes, dashing," he says in what I quickly recognise as my own way of talking very fast.
„Yes, she looks that. She's a beauty, don't you think?"
„And has the brains and heart to go with it, like you do."
I'm not protesting about not being a beauty for once. This is my wedding, so I'm going to suck up all the compliments I get with big "thank-yous" and leave it at that. I can go back to being modest again tomorrow.
„Ready?" he whispers.
„Ready," I reply firmly.
„I've seen Harry, he's out there already. Wherever it takes place…"
„Inner courtyard. Similar to this one only a lot larger…"
I point to the window, which goes out on another courtyard with a lawn and a stone tiled path around it. Actually the path is really an arcade, which makes it look like a cloister. I think I already like that place and I'll have to visit some.
We check the watch. Then the door opens and Ginny comes in.
„Okay. Off we go! Ron is waiting at the door to the courtyard for us and will join us there. Harry is already biting his nails at your place in front of the audience."
„You're being evil, love! Don't let me start biting mine!"
„Nah, you'll do no such thing, Hermione, I've only spent about an hour this morning to make them look nice. Let's go."
Dad offers his arm and I take it. He smiles down at me and remarks:
„I think it's nice that wizards also have the bride come to the groom with her father. It's nice to actually give you away to your future husband. I wouldn't let you go so easily, but first of all I know that you are well capable to look after yourself and I know that the lad waiting out there for you and biting his nails is a wonderful young man. You two will be a great couple, you know."
„Thank you, dad! You know that I'll always love you and Mum, don't you?"
„Yes, Hermione, that's another reason why I have no problems seeing you getting married this early. Normally I would have recommended for you to wait, but I can see that the two of you fit together perfectly. Add to that the fact that you are both equals. Intelligent, powerful and financially independent. You'll be very good."
While he talks we have started to move out of the room and out of the deserted apartment. I lead the way out of the corridor and dad trembles when he sees the wall and that I'm walking straight ahead at it. I grin and give the wall the password. It quietly disappears and then we move on to the tapestry. I think he expects another password, but I'm guiding him straight through it. He turns back and mumbles:
„Something like that barrier at King's Cross Station?"
„Yep. Though this one here is more complex, so that even the magical students are fooled. Anyone can get through, but then there's the wall."
„I see, so that's to guard the teachers' privacy, I take it?"
„Exactly. This was Remus' and Sirius' new flat. And Seraina's future room."
Silently we walk through the halls and it's a bit creepy, because it seems that this is a dead place. We reach the Great Hall and while we enter I remind dad to look at the enchanted ceiling. Today it's just blue with a brilliant sun and only a few tiny clouds.
„Impressive," he says.
„It is, isn't it? It's an amazing view. I really loved this place. It was like home."
„You say this is where you ate?"
„Yes. Normally there are four long tables along it and up there's the teachers' table. In place, because many teachers stay here full time and they eat their meals here together. Over there is the Gryffindor table. Then the Hufflepuff, the Ravenclaw and on the other end the Slytherin table."
„No wonder you loved this boarding school. Not that we would have sent you in any of those if it wouldn't have been for the fact that you're a witch, Hermione."
„I know. I'll be thankful for your understanding until my dying day, dad."
„Shush! That's too long from now, hopefully."
I laugh. He has such a practical sense in most things. Then we reach the double door to the courtyard, where Ron, dressed in marine blue dress robes holds us up.
„Hi there! You look smashing, Hermione! They're not all seated yet, but they're all outside, so it's just a moment yet."
We wait. Ron travels in and out. I peek through the window and see Harry standing in front of the seats for the guests. Mum, James and Lily will be sitting there. Our seats are set a bit further away and I can see Sirius and Remus in their newest dress robes, silver for Siri and gold for Remy, standing next to Harry. They seem to be speaking with the people in the first row. Harry looks spectacular in that dark purple fabric. He looks so serious even when he laughs at something Sirius seems to have said. Ron steps up to them and I see them breaking up and taking their positions. Harry straightens up and stands in front of his chair.
The area has been decorated with a few poles, decorated with lots of morning glories, baby's breath and white roses, a gauzy white canopy connecting the poles and what seems like a constant stream of tiny glittery bits. My bridal bouquet consists of the same flowers. Ron joins us again and says:
„Okay. You two ahead, Ginny and I right behind you."
Dad lends me his arm again, I can see Ron doing the same for Ginny and then we hear the music starting with a jazzy march theme Harry and I have selected. Ron opens the door magically and dad and I fall into step and slowly walk out. I think I have a permanent smile plastered on my face and my heart beats so fast I'm sure dad can hear it.
I know that at this moment Professor McGonagall places the Fidelius charm over the whole courtyard so that no one else will be able to break into the party.
Behind us Ron and Ginny move on as well. We reach the last row of chairs and some of our guests and then the next and the next… and it seems like I'm in front in no time. Harry looks at me and he has that same grin on his face that seems to mirror mine. He reaches for my hand as I let go of daddy's arm. Dad winks and steps back to sit next to Mum in the front row. I take a deep breath.
We watch Hermione being led away to get dressed by Ginny. James and I are done fairly soon and wait for the Grangers who arrive on time. I welcome them and Helen asks me if they have dressed correctly into their robes.
They look very fine. Both have the same colour of robes, a dark blue silk that flows wonderfully to their feet.
"I didn't know what you wear underneath, so I'm just wearing thin black trousers and a white shirt…" George remarks.
"That's perfect. You'd be allowed to wear even much less than that, namely nothing at all," James informs him with a wide grin.
"Oh, that's nice. I might, if it gets warmer!"
When the time comes to go over to the courtyard, James, Sirius, Remus and I pick up our children. Winky and Dobby have come with us and will be looking after them during the ceremony and whenever we would like to dance tonight.
The babies look cute in their lovely summer clothes. All three wear the same rompers and jackets. Lizzie proudly shows herself in tiny dress robes in gold. Her black hair sticks out on all sides, but fits with the gold so well. She doesn't want to be carried.
"Mummy, Lizzie walk!"
"That's fine, dear, but let me hold your hand, please."
She lets me take it and together we walk through the long corridors and the Great Hall. We enter the courtyard through the double glass doors. I've seen it decorated yesterday; I've even cast the spells to keep the morning glories, baby's breath and white roses from withering. It's therefore no surprise for me, but James, who has neither an idea what we did with the location nor what Harry and Hermione will be wearing, looks out and exclaims:
"Oh, but this looks superb!"
We mingle with the guests. Shortly before it starts I speak a silent sleeping charm over all four of the children. I'll wake them again in two hours. Winky takes the children over to one corner, where we've set up a little nursery.
"Thank you, Winky! You may come forth and follow the ceremony, if you like, the children will be fine!" I tell the little elf.
"Thank you, mistress Lily!"
Helen, James and I follow Harry, Remus and Sirius to the front, where Albus and Minerva have already taken their seat. We find space next to them and keep one free for George.
Harry looks smashing. They've chosen so well. The dark purple fits Harry's dark complexion and his green eyes seem to shine out of his face. And the colour will look just as nice with Hermione's light brown hair.
"Lily, James, Hermione has asked me to be part of the casting team in the place of her parents; is that all right with the two of you?" Albus asks.
"Perfectly all right, Albus. Lily will represent us two then. She's definitely the better caster than I am."
"Then it's fine with me. It's been a long time since I was invited to do that the last time. I am most proud of your son, James, he's of very good material. And I do believe that this happens to be a very fine match."
"You would, wouldn't you, Albus? We're just happy that they're happy," I say.
"I still can't but think what lies in their genes, Lily. I suppose Hogwarts can look forward to a fine bunch of children coming from your families."
"Oh, say nothing more, Albus, you won't be there anymore, it will be me who will have to deal with them…" Minerva throws in.
We all laugh, knowing that she's thinking of all the mischief our children are expected to generate.
"Are they expected to be so terrible?" Helen asks.
Harry, who stands in front of us laughs even more, Remus, Sirius and James grin and I groan a bit.
"That's the first name. The four back there alone give Minerva the creeps. They are Marauders' children, you know."
"Oh, but I would think that you and Hermione will dampen that a bit, don't you?" Helen asks.
"We were both Gryffindors, Helen, that means we had at least some Gryffindor traits. Among them are a big heart and loyalty, but also a certain rashness and quick wit. And certainly a bit of readiness to try to get beyond the set borderlines. Even though Hermione and I've been studious we couldn't deny those traits. Especially your daughter. You know what she did in her years here at Hogwarts."
"Yes, I do, but to be quite honest, the first owl I got telling about one of her deeds put my mind rather to rest than anger or worry me, because it meant that she had found good friends she could do these things with," Helen tells us. " We were actually rather worried that she might have problems to forge friendships in Hogwarts, too."
Ron walks up to us and asks:
"Well, we're all ready, if you could start taking your places…"
We start at the front row and since Sirius, Remus and Harry are also moving to their places all the other guests start sitting down, too. Everyone shuts up, some music starts up and Ron walks back to join the bride's party.
The music starts to wear down and Sirius, who's standing right in front of us, asks in a low voice:
We both nod.
„Good. Just a moment."
The music ends, and Sirius and Remus move to the middle of the canopy-covered area. Sirius starts to speak:
„In the name of the bride and groom I would like to welcome you all to this gathering. You all know the drivel so I just want to say a few words: I've been incredibly honoured by the wish of my godson and his bride to lead today's ceremonies together with my bond-mate. Since we haven't ever done this before we both decided to go our own way. Remus will be Hermione's and I shall be Harry's guide. We both will lead them through the rites that will bind them together. As nothing is written in stone I say hopefully for the rest of their lives."
Then Remus takes the next step in asking:
„According to old written law I will ask the question that must be asked at every wedding in the wizarding world: If anyone objects to these two people bonding, then they may step up and state their concerns or remain silent forever."
He gives this question a full minute and since of course all remain silent he smiles and says:
„Then let us proceed with the rites. Though it may sound boring for many of you I have to explain that we have some Muggle guests among us who do not know about the way a wizarding wedding takes place. Bear with us explaining some of the rites, especially the spells."
Sirius speaks again:
„Sermons are not strong points of my bond-mate and I, so we thought of just saying a few short words about living together as you are going to do from now on, Hermione and Harry. You have already been able to collect a bit of experience in that for a while, but you will soon learn that there is a slight difference from the way you've lived together until now and how you will be together from on today. So far you have been two independent people in love. Now you will become bond-mates. At first you will sail on the clouds of your love bound together for good, and then you will notice that everyday life will take over. It's then you will have to work for your bond to remain intact. It's then you will feel most used, tired, and irate. It's then you will find your bond to be the very thing that can save you. But even though we will bind you magically, everyday life is so profane that no magic can help you keep up, only the love you feel in your souls for one another. In short, you will have to work on it, every day and every night of your life. Love is something so very precious you cannot but cherish and nurture it as if it was the most fragile thing you will ever encounter in your lives.
Do not be afraid of that. Because love is fragile, but it is at the same time one of the strongest things. It is said that with love you can shatter mountains. While that might not be called for you will nevertheless need all your love to shatter the mountains of any normal day. Remus and I know – at the latest since the day our twins were born."
There is a slight laugh of all the people in the crowd who are parents.
„I can see that there are some people who can commiserate. But I let Remus continue."
Remus looks at us.
„While Sirius has talked about the perils of everyday life I'd like to speak of the heavens of those precious days when you will be able to celebrate your love undisturbed. Yes, sometimes it can be a bit hard to get away from all of that and actually find time for each other. But if you manage don't restrain yourselves. Live and celebrate that love with every fibre in your body and every wisp of your souls and every cell of your brains. These moments will become milestones, whether you get them every night or only once in a while. There will be times you get not the slightest bit of a chance to take that time. I know from experience how frustrating that is and I also know from experience how difficult it can be to just let go of that frustration and give and take when the time finally comes. So let me remind you of some ways you can get there.
A hot scented bath. A glass of wine. Soft music. Candlelight. Five minutes of cooling down and meditating before you even get together. A bit of something to pick off a plate together.
And of course never underestimate the healing properties of chocolate!"
This time there's a whole crowd of people who laugh. Must be all those who know about the only weakness of our beloved werewolf, which is chocolate. Remus has a smile on his face that I just love! He can be witty and he's still sometimes that mischievous boy Sirius describes to us. Their speech has taken away some of our tension. I can feel that they really want to tell us something useful and at the same time put us at ease. Sirius takes over again.
„Now we shall proceed to the binding spells cast over Hermione and Harry. There will be three of them and they are the standards I think. For our Muggle friends I will quickly explain what happens now. There is a first spell that will enhance their health. The second spell they have chosen is one that will make them share fun and enhance their sense of humour. And the third spell they have chosen is a spell to raise their awareness for possible dangers around them and in their relationship. None of these spells can create something that isn't already inside of them. All they can do is enhance their natural talents in the respective discipline.
These spells require to be cast by six people. Lily Potter, who will represent Harry's family, Ron and Ginny Weasley as the chosen witnesses, and Albus Dumbledore who will stand in for Hermione's parents, who are, as you all know, Muggles, have volunteered to cast them with Remus and I.
Hermione, Harry, would you please rise and join us here in the middle?"
Harry and I get up and we notice that Remus, Sirius, Lily, Ron, Ginny and Dumbledore are standing around us in a hexagon. They cast the spells synchronically one by one. We are covered in red and gold sparks and until these sparks have vanished completely we have to remain on the spot. Then Ron and Ginny step back a bit, while Lily and Dumbledore return to their places in the first row. Remus and Sirius shift, so that Remus now stands behind me, and Sirius is behind Harry. Both lay their hands on our shoulders. It's time for our vows. We have chosen a few simple lines for those.
„Turn to each other," Remus says softly, "Then take your hands."
We look into each other's eyes as we speak the words slowly and together. We can see that Sirius and Remus both hold their wands over us and more sparks are flowing over us. I shiver. The bonding seems to take place right now and while Harry and I exchange our vows Remus and Sirius whisper more spells. Once we're through the vows, Remus calls Ron:
„Ron, please pass them the rings."
They are lying on a small dark blue cushion. Ron stands to my side and levitates it out to Harry. Harry puts the ring on my finger, still staring straight into my eyes. Ron offers me the other ring. I pick it up and put it on Harry's finger. We don't wait for anyone to tell us, we step up, embrace and kiss. Then Remus and Sirius turn us back to our guests.
„Let us introduce Mr. and Mrs Granger-Potter. They have now been bonded in front of their friends and families as well as their chosen witnesses to their marriage. May you both be blessed with a long and happy life together. This marriage is now entered into the Ministry's Book of Marriage. We ask the newly wed couple and their witnesses to step into the house with us to sign the respective papers now," Remus and Sirius say together.
I find the ability to breathe returning to me. There is music again and we are asked quietly from behind to walk through the aisle back inside the Great Hall. Ron and Ginny follow, then Remus and Sirius and slowly we reach the end of the rows of chairs. We enter the Great Hall and Sirius guides us to the small chamber behind the teachers' table. A short man in black robes has followed us from the crowd and we await him inside of the chamber. He brings a scroll of parchment forth, which he unrolls and puts on one of the tables in the room. Remus produces a quill and hands it to me.
„You need to sign here, Mrs Potter," the man says cheerfully.
Oh, how unusual it is to be called this for the first time. I pick up the quill and sign my full name, Hermione Jane Granger-Potter, then pass the quill to Harry. He signs and hands the quill to Ginny who signs her name next, and then Ron and finally Remus and Sirius add their names as masters of the ceremony.
I'm touched to tears! It's over and we can move on to the cheerful part of celebrating, but it has certainly been the most moving thing I've ever gone through in my life. I kiss Harry again and he pulls me into his arms.
„Let's go meet our guests, Mrs Potter," he says with a grin.
„I'd be happy to, Mr. Potter," I reply.
He kisses me and admits:
„I needed to say that to you, love. I need to know it's real and has actually happened!"
I nod and understand perfectly well. We're married. We've certainly bonded long ago, but now I know what Sirius meant by talking about this feeling that would be a bit different from until now. We are adults, fully responsible for our own life and what we will make out of it. We turn to Remus and Sirius who are watching us and I think I detect a few tears in their eyes. It's the cutest thing! Both pull us into hugs and Remus whispers:
„All the best to you, my girl. You know that you've been a daughter for me for a long time now, don't you?"
„Yes, Remus, I've had that feeling. Now you're one of my fathers-in-law, so to speak and you have no idea how happy that makes this wolf here!"
He laughs. Then twinkles and says:
„Fancy a run through the forbidden forest now?"
„Would love to!"
„Some other time. But one of the next moons would be great!"
„One of the next moons it is!"
He gives me another tight hug and kisses my cheeks. I hold him tightly. I know I have loved him since the days he's been my teacher in our third year. Now I can freely admit it.
„Love you, Remus! Be there for us for a long time still, please!" I whisper.
„I will," he promises.
Then I move on to Sirius. He holds me and says:
„It's good to have a new Mrs Potter, Miss Granger! I'm so happy for you I could burst. It's unbelievable that you've done it so early, but let me tell you that I thought it was even more right than when James and Lily got married. You two have been the best of friends for so long and you know each other inside out already. Everyday life is not going to intimidate you much anymore."
„Thank you, Siri. I love you, just as much as I love Remus, you're both wonderful and as I've just told Remus: be there for us for a long time still. Just like we'll be there for you. You're as important for us as James and Lily are, we've known the two of you quite a bit longer."
„You saved my soul, Hermione. Not to speak of my arse, but without you and your time-turner I'd be worse than dead since then. Meeting you was probably the greatest bit of luck I've met with in my life apart from meeting and loving Remus."
„Think nothing of it, Padfoot. You're too great to be lost to the world."
Then there are Ron and Ginny who wait for their hugs and they receive it, hugging us both. I hear a sigh from Harry and it sounds so vulnerable, but so sweet! I take his hand again as we return to the courtyard. The Ministry official takes his scroll and bids goodbye.
I take a deep breath and look at that woman who is now my wife. I have never been this hilariously happy in my life. It seems as if the years at the Dursleys' and their cruel ways have completely vanished. Even the threat that was Voldemort is gone. I've spent almost three years with this wonderful being next to me and they have been three years of bliss. I will never be able to name all the things Hermione is for me. I know of a few that I am for her. It's wonderful to discover new things. Like studying together at the Academy. Avalon Academy has accepted us with more than just pleasure. We've met some of our future professors and they are all honoured to have such a gifted student joining the Academy as Hermione. She's already made an impression on them, not the least through the invention of her Commumirrors.
We return to the courtyard, where mum, dad and my in-laws are already waiting to hug the two of us. Mum's there and reaches me first.
"Mum, I didn't know I could ever be this happy! I want to thank you and dad for your understanding, trust, support and the love you've given to both of us."
Mum has a few tears in her eyes, too.
"You're more than welcome, Harry. I couldn't get a better daughter-in-law than Hermione! Stay as happy as you are right now, that's what I wish for you two!"
The next hour passes with greeting all of our guests. We meet them and share a few words with all of them. Then we find that the house-elves have set up a lovely table with refreshments of all sorts. I remember to eat a few bites, before I finally dive into the champagne. I know there will be a flood of alcohol in the next few hours and we have prolonged the time to take all of that stuff in as we've set the start of the festivities that early. But I've wanted to have as much as possible of the day. The early afternoon is meant to mingle and be able to talk with everyone and share fun and laughter or also more serious conversations, just as opportunities come up.
The moment we are through with the greeting of our guests, all the little ones are allowed to join the party. They have taken a nap in a quiet corner. It's time to feed them their mid-afternoon bottles. Sirius and Remus summon the bottles.
Mum has already taken a seat and is breastfeeding Andy. Lizzie runs around and shows her new dress robes to everyone who's ready to admire her. Then she dances around dad until he lifts her up and takes her to the buffet.
Helen is standing next to Sirius and Remus and wants to see the children.
„They're so cute! Well done, both of you!" she says.
„Thanks, Helen! They're great for us, even though we're already dog-tired. But they're so much fun!" Sirius says with a grin as he shifts Seraina on his arm, so she can look over his shoulder. He summons her bottle and heats it with a quickly muttered spell.
„Now that is practical! If you can't do it the natural way this must be the most practical way to give them a bottle. No waiting needed!" Helen exclaims.
„No, and we're pretty glad for that, because their nightly concerts are fairly unpleasant. So if we can actually feed them at once we're quite happy."
He sits down on one of the chairs and offers the bottle to Seraina. She starts to suckle and he smiles down at her.
„My sweet little one. How lovely you are and how well you do this already. Hold the bottle yourself? Just grab it tightly. I'll help you. Mm, nice stuff?"
I look over his shoulder and see his interaction with the baby. Seraina is a very lively little girl on Siri's arms and she's the placid doll on Remus'. I've found out that the difference in their styles doesn't seem to faze either child. They just learn that Remus does things like this and Sirius does them like that and that there are a few aunties and uncles who do them yet differently. But the behaviour they show when they're with Remus or Sirius is different, too, and I find that completely fascinating. When Remus holds them on his arm they look inquisitive, contemplating and interested. If they are with Sirius they look curious, active and even a bit mischievous. I walk back to Hermione and nudge her.
„Have you ever noticed that the twins mirror Remus' or Sirius' temperaments when they are with either of them? And Andy acts yet differently."
„Yes, I have. It's cute, isn't it? They seem perfectly fine with that."
„Mhm. It's really sweet."
We are not getting much time for ourselves on that afternoon, but we're standing together all the time. It's the first time I don't feel exposed or unwell being the centre of attention. Whenever I need to I can feel Hermione's hand in mine or the ring. We get background music from the band and the Weasley twins have a few funny surprises. Of course I know that they have prepared a firework for the night, but that's not quite everything. To see Draco with them makes them more dangerous than ever and I know that several people throw wary glances in their direction, especially Mrs Weasley and Professor McGonagall. If they'd only know that the twins have started to use Draco, who does the tricks for them, while they draw all attention to themselves.
During the afternoon we see people turning into the most surprising things. It's certainly the twin's doings, but neither Hermione nor I can work out quite how they manage it. At first. All of a sudden there's a tiny ball flying in my direction and my Quidditch reflexes intact I grab it. Only to change into a feather duster for the duration of roughly a minute. After she's done being shocked – can't have been longer than three seconds - Hermione just stands in front of me and laughs her head off. I look a bit put out when I come around, I think, but she just grins and kisses me. Then she puts my robes back in order and cleans them. I turn to look for Fred, George or Draco, but I think they're already on the lookout for their next victim. And I'd bet a lot of money that they have found supporters in dad and Sirius.
At five the house-elves start to set up the tables for the dinner. The chairs make space for the tables, which are pushed together to form a large oval big enough to seat everyone. One end of the oval is left open, so guests can also sit on the inside of the oval. Hermione and I get to sit under the canopy, with my parents, in-laws, Remus and Sirius opposite of us, Ron and Justin next to Hermione, Ginny and Ernie next to me. All the others find their places along the oval.
The table is decorated beautifully. A blue cloth covers it, the same colour as the blue in Hermione's robes. It's again decorated with baby's breath, white roses and morning glories. The golden Hogwarts dishes gleam on it and even the cutlery is gold tonight. We don't have goblets for once, but crystal glasses with gold rims.
The menu has been kept a secret and apart from Hermione and I no one knows what we will get to eat. There are no menus on the table either. Probably most of our guests apart from the Sunnegg bunch and my in-laws will not really know much about the taste of our chosen foods. Our group has gone through a slight change in our eating habits in the past three years, towards more southern, light and tasty foods. The menu reflects those changes. We have asked for a Mediterranean dinner and the house-elves have invited us for a trial dinner to the Hogwarts kitchen a week ago. They served us a lot of Mediterranean delicacies; it was exactly what we have envisioned and so now we can hardly wait for the good stuff to turn up on the table. I notice that I'm really hungry, because even though there have been bits and pieces to eat all afternoon I've kept my stomach empty for the dinner except for a bite or two before I started filling myself up with alcoholic beverages.
My parents, Remus and Sirius have allowed us to cautiously drink small amounts of wine and other alcoholic beverages in the past years, increasing the allowed amount with care, so we would get the taste but not exaggerate. They claimed it would be better for us to know how to treat the stuff with reason than to just plunge into alcoholic excesses once no one out there could forbid us to drink it. Those of us who liked the taste did drink wine in small amounts, but not all of us, because some of us didn't like it at all. Besides, they also knew what kind of alcohol we got to taste, and because of that we never delved into cheap fusel, but started off with classy stuff. Following the motto, rather have less, but only the best stuff. There are many jugs with chilled water or pumpkin juice on the tables, from which most of the guests fill extra glasses frequently. Not even Barb and Housi are wondering how they are filled again automatically as soon as they are empty and that the water in the jugs stays chilled.
I notice that Hermione fills every second glass with water. I soon do the same, because I agree with her credo that wine is there to enjoy, not to still thirst.
The dinner starts with Italian pasta: spaghetti with a sauce containing cockles – vongole as they're called in Italy. We needn't hurry, as between each course there's a pause of about a quarter of an hour to leave us still more space for the next course. There will be several courses and we're undertaking a culinary trip around the Mediterranean. After the first starter we get another one, this time from Greece, which is represented with an excellent Greek salad and a cold puree of potatoes mixed with pressed garlic, lemon juice and a very salty tasting paste made from fish roe. That's spread on slices of very nice white bread. To round these flavours up we have a lovely Greek white wine. For the first main course we're in Turkey, for a very nicely done lamb roast with lots of vegetables. More lamb for the Lebanese second main course, this time with Bulghur and another salad. Then we make a big jump over to the Maghreb, because now a couscous comes to the table, served with chicken. My in-laws are just as pleased as we are, especially Helen, because she receives a vegetarian variant of our menu. She's not the only one as Vaidyanathan and Shannah Patil are among the guests and Vaidyanathan is a vegetarian, too.
"That is really first class food," George praises, "Did you two choose it?"
"Yep! That was a really nice test dinner last week, wasn't it, Hermione? That's when we talked about the decorations for the tables with the house-elves, too. Our lovely little helpers have tended to us perfectly well, all the way through. Must have loved it, too, because they almost wouldn't let us leave the kitchens anymore."
"That's true! I probably ate for three or four days ahead," Hermione admits.
George laughs and remarks:
"I'm absolutely stunned at how much you're clearing away from this table, dear daughter. You used to hardly eat anything at home…"
"Must have been caused by the offer…" Hermione says.
"Was there something wrong with the way I cook?" Helen asks a bit snappishly.
"Hm, let's just say… well… yes," Hermione replies.
I grin. I remember very well that little Hermione started to become a little rounder quite soon after her arrival at Hogwarts, up until the energy intake started to correspond with her energy consumption again. And ever since then she's always been slim enough, but with some flesh on her bones.
Remus and Sirius, as well as everyone else close around us start to laugh.
"So what was wrong with Helen's cooking?" Sirius wants to know. He looks rather amused.
"Oh, round about everything. Let's just say that the calories I got hardly ever suited the calories I burned," Hermione replies with the same amused expression on her face.
"We have malnourished our child, Helen!" George says unhappily.
"Nonsense, we've nourished her healthy, George. Hogwarts corrupted her is all," Helen defends herself.
Hermione laughs, too.
"Luckily, mum! I have to point out that I'm eating very well balanced these days! And things like this here… just yum!"
"I don't mind as long as you stay healthy. Everyone has to get fa… I mean happy with their own food…" Helen grins, but then admits: "Though you are of course right, this stuff here is really good."
I'm eating something from each course! There is still a Spanish dish and France makes a very lovely finish with a wonderful French dessert, a crêpe Suzette. Three hours of eating leave us all completely stuffed. There will be a wedding cake of course, and it's going to be served with the coffee a lot later on. Professor Dumbledore calls the elves from the kitchen and we really complement them all for their wonderful dinner. They all look terribly embarrassed. I can only remember one occasion when they actually sent up menus of a more international colouring. It was at the feasts during the Triwizard Tournament. I had too much to worry about to enjoy them then, but today they proved that this seems to be no problem at all for them. I'm sure had we demanded something Thai we would have received it.
Right after dinner Colin Creevey, who's been invited together with his brother Dennis, can get to work with the official photos of the wedding party. Colin's been on my nerves a lot in the time I knew him at Hogwarts, but he's really great with a camera and has a good eye, so I offered him a paid little job to take our photos. I know he's already spent a lot of time taking pictures of everyone during the course of the afternoon. It will be great fun to look at them. Now we'll take the official photos, group pictures, some with Hermione and I alone, some with our parents, with Sirius, Remus and the little ones. There will be a few photos with us and some of our guests alone, anyone who wants a picture will have one. So we're busy for more than an hour until everyone has been put on some photo somewhere.
The band starts to play dance music now, because I pull Hermione to the dance floor. They switch to a waltz immediately. While the house-elves clear the table of the last course and dessert is served, the dancing starts. We start to circle around the floor and after a while we beckon others to join us. I can see Molly and Arthur Weasley pick up Seraina and Dennis and sending Remus and Sirius on to the dance floor, quickly followed by Ron and Justin, Ernie and Ginny and all of the others who feel inclined to dance. It's wonderful and sweet and I hope this evening never ends. Looks like mum and dad are switching with Remus and Sirius to get a round on the floor in turns.
After a while the children seem to be getting tired enough to find their quiet corner and Winky again. From then on, my parents and godfathers are free to follow their own fun.
I'm a good boy and once I've had a few rounds with Hermione we let others in. Sirius grabs her for the first round, then Remus, George and dad are there and they claim the privilege of their age over Ron and our friends. But Ron gets his chance with Hermione as well. I'm being nice and ask Helen first, then mum and then Molly Weasley, who asks me to finally call her Molly instead of Mrs Weasley. I smile, because I think it's about time, only I never wanted to say anything. After Molly I find Professor McGonagall, who gives me one of her very rare smiles and dances a very decent slow fox with me.
„I don't know how to thank you and Professor Dumbledore for this wonderful setting for my wedding," I tell her.
„This has been a pleasure for us, Potter! That's beside the fact that Hogwarts is used for this purpose at least once or twice during the summer months. You should know that neither Professor Dumbledore nor I have ever left you out of our eyes completely. And both of us greatly like both you and your lovely wife."
„She's always been extremely fond of you, Professor."
„I see many similarities between her and myself, you know. I was a similarly enthusiastic student, but of course the big difference between us would be that I was an equally enthusiastic Quidditch player. I used to be a Chaser, you know. I also married early. It's not to be expected that the same thing will happen to you that happened to my husband though. He was killed when we had been married for only two years. Grindelwald. Or rather Tom Riddle in Grindelwald's service. I never met anyone I could love again and then Albus called me to Hogwarts. Its children are my children now. – Still I wish that Duncan might have got a chance to come out of that wand like your parents did…"
I'm baffled. Never before has Professor McGonagall talked to me about anything other than school or Quidditch. I wonder how many people actually know about these things. Not too many I would guess. Or better: not too many would know from her own lips. Losing Hermione this way – I don't even want to think about that. I'm sure I could never love anyone else like this after her either.
What McGonagall told me won't go out of my head anymore. I'll have to ask Kingsley what had been done with the wands of the Death Eaters. I hope they haven't destroyed them yet. I would be ready to cast a spell against Voldemort's wand just to help all those souls still captured in there out of it! And who knows – with the help of Mr. Ollivander we might find brother wands to other Death Eater wands as well and then it would be possible to… what a bold thought!
When it gets dark Fred and George gather everyone and lead us to the Hogwarts grounds. They have set up their firework there and with a wave of Fred's wand it starts. It's beautiful again. They have managed to actually reproduce Hermione and I, dancing, and then transforming into the wolf and the dog and frolicking around the night sky in a most playful way. Hermione holds my hand and both of us smile. The last part is a sparkling text, which says:
„To Hermione and Harry: a long and happy life together and congratulations!"
Everyone applauds and we both thank the twins. They look smug, but I think they have every reason to be. That was quite serious for their standards. George winks and says:
"You know, we're going to market these fireworks. Individually done up for weddings and other occasions."
We all return to the courtyard, where two more hours of socialising and dancing start and then the older guests start leaving the scene. Remus and Sirius accompany Barb and Housi back to their flat and also take the children along, who will get to sleep in their own beds. Hermione and I know it's time to return to the Sunnegg. Before we leave we ask mum and dad to gather the whole crowd of unmarried ladies in front and once they're all there Hermione throws her bride's bouquet. I can see Parvati to be the one to catch it. And after that we ask all the unmarried guys to step up. I help my wife onto a chair. She turns her back to everyone, lifts her robe with some sexy wiggling of her behind and rolls the black silk garter she wears down her leg. I explain that the Muggles sometimes do this as a wedding tradition.
„Same as for the girls goes for the guys now!"
Ron and Justin grin and move to the background quickly. Hermione throws the garter over her shoulder. It's Fred who's the winner. He passes it right on to Angelina and both have a big grin on their faces.
Then we just say goodbye to everyone, vanish inside of the Great Hall, pass it and Hermione asks:
„Should we get dressed into our clothes from this morning?"
„We just pick the stuff up and do it at home, okay?"
I can't wait! We pick our things up in Sirius' flat. Mine are still in his bedroom, but Barb and Housi have put Hermione's bag outside in the living room. We grab the stuff, our brooms and then fly to the gates from where we apparate home.
We're both not yet ready to leave this nest completely and I think we might not until we start our own family. Right now we drop our clothes on the bed, undress and get dressed in something entirely different. We reduce our baggage in size and put it in our pockets. The wands go into our pockets as well and we start apparating with several stops to our destination. The place we go in Fiji provides us with a small hut-like house, where we will have every comfort. It will be midday there now and we're not really in a hurry.