Chapter Thirty-seven

Fred woke up with a start the morning of December thirty-first and sat straight up in bed fast enough to make his head swim. He had the vague feeling one gets from waking up quickly from a dream, and being disoriented for a moment as it fades from the mind to be replaced by reality. 'Today is my wedding day,' was the first thought that filtered through the fog of his brain. His head was a little fuzzy from all of the drinks he'd had last night, being toasted by is his brothers and friends, but he'd luckily come back to his flat to find that Carly had kindly left a potion for both him and George to take before going to bed, to lessen the effects of a hangover. On his way to the bathroom, he looked across the hall to find George still sleeping; sprawled over his bed, still in the robes he'd worn the night before.

After a long and steamy shower, Fred made his way to the small kitchen to find another potion and a note from Carly that read simply:

'Fred, Just in case the potion from last night didn't quite do the job. I love you! See you this afternoon! Carly

PS – Your mother is furious that you let Ron and Harry try Fire Whiskey.'

Bless her! He poured himself a tumbler full of the potion, and drank it down before starting the tea. As it steeped, he filled another tumbler and took it into his brother's room and woke him.

"Get up, you lout!" Fred called, kicking the mattress that George was spread out on.

George opened his eyes just enough to look at the clock, and then made a rude hand gesture before burying his head under his pillow and trying to ignore the rest of the world.

"Do you want to be late for your own wedding?" Fred asked. "Carly left some potion for us; I put it on your bed side table."

"That woman is a saint," came George's muffled voice from under his pillow.

"As long as you don't piss her off," Fred agreed. "Which is why I'm getting our clothes and things together so that they're ready to take to Suzette and Nigel's."

George pulled his head out and flipped his blankets aside before stretching. "I guess if I don't get going soon, Mum'll send out the hounds to hunt out down."

"Too late," Ginny said as she walked into the room. "She sent me and the boys over to make sure you were up before I go over to Winterhaven to get ready with the other ladies."

"And where are 'the boys'?" Fred asked.

"Downstairs raiding the shop," she grinned.

"Hey!" George said, sitting up and groaning as his head spun. "How did you get in here past the security charms?"

"Please," Ginny rolled her eyes at him. "What security charms? You two were so pissed last night; you couldn't have found your own heads. The charms weren't put back in place after Charlie made sure he poured you into bed, so he just locked the doors. It was easy enough."

George picked up the tumbler from the table beside him and gulped it down, then got to his feet. "Well you've done your job. We're up and getting ready, so you can just go and get yourself ready now."

"Sorry, but I have orders to make sure you're up, and then Ron and Harry are supposed to stay with you until you get to Nigel and Suzette's; Mum's leaving nothing to chance."

"Doesn't trust us much, does she?" Fred said with a smile. "Have Ron and Harry walk you to back to the Leaky Cauldron, and I'll make sure George hits the shower."

"Deal," she said. She turned to go, and then stopped and said, "I'm proud of you both. Don't screw it up."

George threw his pillow at her, and she left chuckling.

An hour later, the twins saw to it that Harry and Ron made it through the Floo at the Leaky Cauldron, and then Apparated themselves, carrying their wedding wear in hanging bags slung over their shoulders. What they saw when they arrived stunned them both, and they stood staring at the huge white tent erected on the lawn beside the house. Suzette was on hand, directing several witches and wizards on where to place chairs and flowers. They walked over and peeked inside the tent to see that it was decorated beautifully with rows of chairs with velvet padding and festoons of fresh flowers and ribbons. There were even chandeliers dripping with crystal and loaded with dozens of candles hanging overhead, just waiting to be lit. Warming charms had obviously been cast, because, though snow was beginning to fall lazily from the steel gray sky overhead, the inside of the tent was comfortably warm. There was carpeting covering the floor, and a long velvet runner down the center isle that led up to an altar of sorts, covered in flowers.

"Wow!" George whispered.

"They did all of this in under a month?" Fred whispered in reply.

"They most certainly did!" Nigel's voice boomed from behind them, making them jump. The older man laughed heartily, as if he hadn't spent half the night drinking fire whiskey with his brother, and a roomful of men half his age. "And you should see the inside of the house, where the reception his being set up! Best to stay out the way, lads. Come on into the house and let Suzette do what she does best."

He herded Fred and George away from the tent, and into the entryway of the house where Arthur was standing with a camera, ready to snap their picture as they arrived.

"I promised Molly I'd make sure I got lots of photos of the two of you getting ready." He said apologetically as they blinked and rubbed at their eyes after the flash. "I also promised that I'd make sure that you were prepared for the ceremony. Why don't we go and get the two of you ready so that we can run through the particulars? The guests should begin to arrive in just under an hour, and then there's going to be a half an hour after that until the actual ceremony."

Fred and George followed their father down the corridor to one of the bigger guest bedrooms and took all of their wedding finery from the hanging bags. Fred mentally groaned at the sight of the clothes he was going to be wearing, and thanked heaven that he would only have to wear them once. Why couldn't he just wear a nice set of dress robes, instead of all this traditional stuff? 'Because it's what Carly wanted,' the voice in his head answered. 'And you'd walk down the isle naked if she asked you to.' So now he was looking at a white silk shirt with full sleeves and a high collar, with a double-breasted, gray and silver brocade vest to go over that. Glancing over at what Rowan had picked out for George, he saw that the shirt was very similar to his own, but that his brother was to be wearing a royal blue doublet over his shirt instead of a vest.

"Bloody hell," George muttered as he fastened the snug fitting breeches and blinked again as he was blinded by a camera flash.

Fred abandoned the shirt and vest for now, and donned his own similar pants. As he sat to pull on his knee-high boots, there was a knock at the door, and Toolah bustled in carrying a tray of sandwiches and a pitcher of pumpkin juice.

"Ms. Suzette says you boys is to eat something," she said sternly. "You need to keep up your strength today."

She left the tray and bustled out again, in her element with all of the preparations going on around her. Each of the boys paused in their dressing, and took a sandwich; Arthur took one as well and sat down on the edge of the bed.

"Well I suppose now is as good a time as any for a father to sons talk before the main event," he said seriously. "I really didn't think I'd be having this talk with the two of you first out of all of my sons, but I'm not sorry."

"Dad," George said, a hint of desperation in his voice. His nerves had been steadily growing since they'd arrived, and he didn't know if he could take a 'talk' from his father without completely losing his outward calm. "You don't have to..."

"Don't worry George," Arthur chuckled at the look on his son's face. "It's not going to be that kind of talk. I think we covered that subject sufficiently when the two of you were fourteen, and embarrass us all enough to last us for the rest of our lives."

"Thank Merlin!" George said, visibly relieved.

"No, I just want to make sure that the two of you know exactly what you're getting into today," he told them with a very sober tone. "This marriage will be a magically binding contract between you and your wives that would be extremely hard to negate once the ceremony is completed. I have to know that you believe with all of your hearts that you are going into this with your eyes wide open. Marriage isn't always easy. In fact, it's often very, very hard, and it's a lot of work and compromise."

"I'm sure, Dad," Fred said with quiet confidence. "I know exactly what I'm getting into, and I know it's exactly what I want. Carly is the other half of me, and she always will be."

"I feel the same way for Rowan," George said with a calm voice, as he looked his father in the eye. "Maybe it won't be easy, but it'll be worth it. Fred and I had the best examples in the world in you and Mum. We've watched you through all of these years and have seen the sacrifices and hardships that could have broken you apart, but it didn't; it made you stronger. That's what I want to have with Rowan."

Arthur swallowed down the lump that had risen in his throat, and smiled. "That's all I need to hear."

They finished their little meal while going over the sequence of events for the ceremony one more time, even though they had been made to walk through it a dozen times the previous day. As they were finishing dressing, Harry poked his head in, and grinned at the sight of Fred and George dressed, as he had never seen them before. He had never seen a Wizarding wedding (or any wedding for that matter) before, and was very interested in everything that was going on. It seemed to be one big whirlwind to him, but the women from both families seemed to have everything in hand.

"The guests are being seated," he said, delivering Molly's message. "Fred and George need to be in place in ten minutes."

"Are the girls here?" George asked.

"Yes," Harry answered. "They're in the master suite, and I was told to tell you that you can't see them until the ceremony. I'm supposed to go and help usher people to their seats."

They waved as he left, and both boys got suddenly quiet. Arthur left the two of them alone together, and said he would be back when it was time for them to take their places in front of the altar they had seen earlier.

"Are you ready for this?" Fred asked his twin.

George nodded. "You?"

Fred nodded as well. They just stood looking at each other for a moment, and then stepped forward and embraced, thumping each other on the back. As they stepped apart, Fred straightened George's formal outer robes. They were a deep and dark blue silk, with beaded trim, and didn't look nearly as ridiculous on him as he had feared they would when he had first seen them.

"You look good," Fred told him. "Grown up."

"So do you," George said, brushing some dust from Fred's charcoal gray robes.

"Let's go get married." Fred grinned, and they left the room together.

Every seat seemed to be taken. There were so many faces looking up at them, the George was beginning to feel slightly dizzy. This was the biggest, most important thing he had ever done; he had never wanted anything more in his whole life than he wanted to see Rowan standing beside him at that moment, taking her vows with him. Fred was surreptitiously wiping his damp hands on his robes as Amelia Bones tried to calms his nerves with idle talk. She had been thrilled to ask to officiate the wedding, after so many of the unpleasant duties she'd had to perform in her new position as Minister for Magic. Instead of choosing a Best Man and Maid of Honor from all of the many candidates, it had been decided that it would be most diplomatic to keep things simple, and have the parents of the brides and grooms stand as witnesses. All of the Weasley and Winters brothers, and Harry, had been delegated to the role of Ushers; everyone else was a guest.

Looking out around the crowed room, there were a sea of familiar faces looking back at them, some wearing expressions of encouragement, and some of sentimentality. Most of the members of the Order were present, scattered throughout the crowd, as well as many school friends and many guests and relatives from both France and America. Lee sat at the front of the rows with Katie Bell as his escort, and Professor Dumbledore smiled merrily at him from his place of honor beside Harry, with the rest of the Weasley family. Eunice smiled and waved at them from her seat just behind Dumbledore. Fred and George had no idea they even knew half this many people. 'The ratio of guests with red hair seems to outnumber those without by about two to one,' George thought silently as he surveyed them.

At last they saw the signal from the back, and the musicians that were stationed off in a corner began to play a soft and traditional Celtic tune. The room quieted, and those few who had been standing, quickly took their seats. Fred and George each breathed deeply and stood straighter, facing the direction from which their brides would come. Molly and Arthur stood off to one side, to be witnesses for the grooms, and Catherine Winters hurried down the side isle to take her place to the other side to stand as witness for the brides.

The tone of the music changed, everyone stood, and with a graceful movement, Carly and Rowan appeared at the far end of the isle, each on one of their father's arms. Fred's eyes took in the whole picture of the three figures slowly approaching him, then his focus narrowed on Carly. He didn't really take in the white and silver of her robes, or the clutch of white roses she carried, or the way the curls in her hair shone in the candlelight; he would notice all of that later and think that that he had never seen anything so lovely. His eyes fastened onto hers, which were shining with happy tears and his heart filled with emotion; he swallowed hard and smiled widely, his eyes never leaving hers. George stood transfixed by the site of Rowan in her ice blue silks and satins as she approached; carrying white roses and looking like an angel. There was happiness and love and just a hint of mischief in her eyes; any lingering trace of doubt that she would actually go through with it faded from his mind as she stopped before him.

"Who gives these women to be joined with these men in marriage?" Madam Bones asked with a clear and carrying voice.

"Her mother and I do," Aidan Winters answered with a voice thick with emotion. He kissed each of his girls in turn, and then handed them over to their soon-to-be husbands. With a nod to both Fred and George that spoke volumes, he turned to take his place beside his wife.

Fred held Carly's hand in his and faced Madam Bones. George took Rowan's hand and kissed it as they, too, faced the altar.

"What a beautiful and happy day this is!" Madam Bones began. "Family and friends are gathered her together to join in the celebration of the marriage between Fred Weasley to Carly Winters and of George Weasley to Rowan Winters. To these young people, this day signifies the birth of a new spirit, a spirit which is a part of each of us, yet not of any one of us alone...."

Carly listened to the words being spoken by Madam Bones, but found that all she could really concentrate on was Fred's presence beside her and the slight trembling of her own hand in his. At one point his eyes shifted to hers, and he smiled and gave her hand a small squeeze. She worked to concentrate on the fact that in a few moments they would say their vows and perform the spell that would join them together forever. Why was it taking so long?

Rowan stood on one foot, willing herself not to make a fool of herself, but for some odd reason, her other leg was shaking so badly, she was afraid to put any weight at all on it for fear of falling over! Madam Bones was nearing the actual vows now, and she said a silent prayer to the Powers That Be that she wouldn't screw it up. George was standing beside her, apparently as calm and collected as could be, while she was afraid she would begin to hyperventilate if this lasted much longer. He looked at her and smiled when Madam Bones recited their names, and she calmed enough to trust her legs to support her. How did he do that? 'You'll have the next hundred years or so to find out,' she told herself, and mentally prepared for her part in the ceremony.

"Fred Arthur Weasley and Carlotta Marie Winters, do you both intend to take each other in marriage?"

"We do," they answered in unison.

Molly was dabbing at her eyes, and looked across the proceedings to see Catherine doing the same. They caught each other's eyes and smiled.

"Present your joined hands," Madam Bones told Fred and Carly. When they held their hands forward, fingers threaded together, Madam Bones produced her wand, and with a swish of its tip, a band of white silk wrapped itself loosely, intertwining about their wrists as if in a figure eight. "Recite your vows."

Fred and Carly looked into each other's eyes and recited together with an unwavering voice:
"We swear by peace and love to stand,
Heart to heart and hand to hand.
Mark, all gathered, and hear us now,
Confirming this our Sacred Vow."

Madam Bones nodded with a smile, and removed the band of silk. "The rings?"

Fred reached into his pocket and produced two rings, each engraved with a Celtic knot pattern around it. He placed them on the flat pillow that Madam Bones held out, and she said, "Your wands."

They let go of each other's hands and withdrew their wands. Fred was the first to complete his part, and so he touched the ring that he was to give to Carly, and uttered the spell,

"Me ad te evincio." I bind myself to you. A small pearl of light appeared at the tip of his wand, and seemed to be absorbed by the ring as he touched it, making it glow briefly. He put his wand aside for a moment, and took Carly's hand and placed the ring on her finger.

Carly followed the same procedure for Fred's ring and placed it on his finger. Madam Bones then said, "Touch wands."

Fred held his wand toward Carly, and she touched the tip of her wand to the tip of his and together they recited again, "Me ad te evincio." A white light seemed to envelop the couple for a moment, and then faded away. They were married.

Madam Bones smiled widely at the couple and then moved to stand before George and Rowan. "George Edward Weasley and Rowan Janine Winters, do you both intend to take each other in marriage?"

"We Do," they answered in one voice.

It was many hours later when the last guest departed. Tears had been shed, laughter shared and toasts made. It had been a long and tiring day, and at last only the Winters and Weasley families, Harry and Hermione were left. Hermione was still holding the bouquet that she had caught earlier in the evening, and was holding hands with Ron. The brides and grooms were getting ready to depart; they weren't going to take a honeymoon just yet, but they were looking forward to spending their first night in their new homes. Before the newlyweds took their leave of their family, Nigel stopped them and said with humor in his eyes, "As Suzette's and my gift to both couples, you'll find that you actually have some furniture in your houses. You won't have to sleep on the floor after all."

Everyone chuckled, and Fred suggested, "Let's go get started on the rest of our lives."

And that's exactly what they did.

Epilogue (Three years later):

The end of the war with Voldemort had taken its toll on the Wizarding world. Many families had suffered and lives had been lost, but luckily it had ended two years ago, much more quickly than anyone could have predicted at the beginning. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was about to commence its fall term, and all of the professors agreed that it looked to be a quiet, if dull, year. The war was over, and Harry Potter had left the school shortly after his victory over Voldemort; the world would never be the same for any of them. Since Ginny's graduation the previous year, there were no Weasley family members coming to the school for the first time in many, many years.

Minerva McGonagall made her way to the headmaster's office carrying a very important book. Not many even knew of its existence, and so she took her charge in handling it very seriously. She kept it for a few days only each year, and then returned it to the headmaster's office where it resided the rest of the year. It was a highly magical book, which had pages that magically recorded the births of magical children all over Britain. An equally magic quill would come to life when a magical child was born, and record the date, the name of the child, and the child's parent's names. At the end of each month, the page of the book on which the births for that month were recorded, would turn to a clean page, and magically sealed itself for ten and a half years, until it was time for those children to receive letters to invite them to begin their magical education at Hogwarts.

Minerva had just replaced the book on the pedestal on which it normally resided and turned to smile at Dumbledore, who was sitting at his desk, and Severus Snape, who was having a cup of tea in one of the chairs opposite. "I've just finished sending out acceptance letters, Albus," she told him serenely as Snape poured her a cup and handed it to her. "Forty-seven this year! The dormitories will be a bit cramped this year, even if the new students are distributed evenly through all of the houses."

Severus groaned quietly. He didn't particularly enjoy first year students, though he had mellowed out some in the past two years. Minerva suspected it had something to do with the fact that Harry Potter was not gone from the school.

As they sat and enjoyed their tea, the quill beside the book Minerva had just replaced sprang to life. It hovered, poised over the freshest page, and then began to write. Dumbledore's smile widened, and his eyes twinkled as they always did when the quill set to work. A busy quill meant a busy school, just the way he preferred it to be. It took them a moment to realize that the quill was taking longer than it usually did to complete it's entry, and so Severus and Minerva stood, out of curiosity, and looked down at the page that was rapidly filling with names. They read: Date: August 1, 2001 Parents: George and Rowan Weasley Child:

Brian Aidan Weasley
Quinn James Weasley
Marie Catherine Weasley

Parents: Frederick and Carlotta Weasley Child:

Jared Frederick Weasley
Robert Michael Weasley
Connor Patrick Weasley

Severus just barely had time to catch Minerva as she fainted.

THE END (Finally)