Chapter Nine: Wedding Vows

It was hard to tell who was more nervous about the wedding that was soon to be underway; the bride and groom or the two groups of teenagers sequestered in opposite rooms in the same hall. Ginny, Heather, Gabrielle, Hermione, and Fleur where squeezed in one room, dealing with last minute modifications to their dresses; Harry, Fred, George, Ron, and Bill were squashed in the other, all but one nervous about meeting up with the girls in the other room…. Then again, George Weasley didn't have an old girlfriend, love interest, hidden crush or soon-to-be wife waiting for him.

"I promise to hold you up in drowning waters until they are still…. My wand will forever light your way, for all our days..." Bill was muttering his wedding vows under his breath, now and then pulling a stack of note cards out of his pocket and scanning them worriedly. "Damn it all, I know I suggested we write our own vows, but how am I suppose to remember all of this and all the wand movements at the same time?!?"

"By Merlin's staff, relax, Bill," George sighed tiredly, watching his brother's anxious movements as he barely missed Fred pacing across the cramped room in the opposite direction, both brothers nervous for completely different reasons and both starting to fray George's patience with all of their hem-and-ha-ing, "You're getting married, not going into battle. Fred, slow down; Bill's close enough to passing out without watching you spin around the room."

Fred flipped his brother the finger as Bill groaned, running a hand over the side of his face that didn't have the scars, "I just don't want to mess up, George. What if Mr. and Mrs. Delacour think I'm not good enough for Fleur and try to stop the wedding?"

Fred stopped in his pacing long enough to give his brother an incredulous look, before shaking his head at him. "That shouldn't matter, should it? I mean, you're not marrying Mum and Pop Delacour, you're marrying Fleur. She should be the only opinion that matters."

With that, Fred's pacing started up again, making his eldest and youngest brother follow his movements in wide-eyed shock as George grinned knowingly, certain that Fred had been having more than 'talks' with a certain brown-haired individual. Even Harry was driven out of another Ginny-induced day-dream stupor to stare at the insightful twin in stunned surprise, his jaw hanging around the region of his knees.

"Thanks, Fred," Bill muttered after a few moments of silence, not noticing in his shock that he finally got a twin's name right. "Where did that come from, though? I would have expected something like that from Mum, or even Ginny, but not from you."

"Seems like Heather's been a good influence," George quipped, making his twin's nervous action stop as suddenly as if he had run right into a brick wall as the elder twin turned to Harry with a grin. "We should definitely keep her around, don't you think?"

"Who's Heather and why have I never heard of her before?" Bill asked, glad to talk about something that took his mind off of his nervousness as his attention bobbed between the Cheshire cat-styled grin of one twin to the murderous, hate-filled glare of the other.

"She's a girl whose helping Harry with something," Ron cut in, shaking out of his stunned state and piping up for the first time since entering the room with the others as he shared a look with Harry to see if it was alright to talk about, a look both twins caught, before continuing. "She's suppose to be teaching him some kind of Ancient magic or something… I think it's a new Defense training no one's ever heard of."

"Apparently, that's not the only thing she's teaching," Harry decided to add his own two cents worth just to see the normally immovable Weasley twin blush as all the eyes in the room suddenly became focused upon him... and to avoid having anyone ask him what the new training was.

"What is this, Pick-On-Fred Day?" The redhead grumbled irritably, nailing each of his brothers with a glare. Yes, Harry was included in that statement; for, as far as Fred was concerned, Harry had been a part of the family ever since Ron picked him up in their First Year at Hogwarts. "If you're in such desperate need for something to distract you, Bill, why don't you go over your wedding vows for us?"

"W-well," The eldest Weasley sibling stammered uncertainly, his earlier bolster evaporating at those words, as one hand hastily stuffing his vows in one of his tuxedo's pockets, ears turned the trademark Weasley-embarrassed red. "They're really nothing to brag about… You'll get to hear them at the wedding, I'm sure that I'll have them down in," a quick glance at his watch, before a nervous swallow, "twenty minutes."

"All the more reason for us to listen to them, brother dear," Fred pounced on his opening like a mouse upon a cat, "Can't have the firstborn of Arthur and Molly Weasley making a fool of himself and his clan at his own wedding, now can we? Bad for business, you know."

"Yeah," George added, enjoying the lighthearted round of teasing, going from one brother to the next, as he clapped a hand on his stricken eldest brother's shoulder, "especially since your bride-to-be is from a neighboring country. You also have to show her we Brits know how to throw a proper wedding."

Bill turned to his youngest brother and honorary-brother for some much needed support, but they both just shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads. Ron was more interested in what they were going to serve at the buffet and how Hermine would look in her dress then what the bride and groom were going to say, it wasn't his wedding after all. Harry, personally, had no idea what was supposed to happen at a wedding; he had never been to one, magical or Muggle.

Sighing in exaggerated defeat, Bill straighten his tie, closed his eyes and imagined himself at the alter, his lovely, magnificent wife who didn't care that he was horribly transfigured and hotly claimed that she was beautiful enough for the both of them at his side. The radiant woman who always looked at him with love, even though the most looks he got were of revulsion, on his arm. Suddenly, the words that had been so hard to convey in spite of the importance of the day came easily as he practiced his speech for his brothers' benefit.

"Most people in this world believe that wizards and Muggles have almost nothing in common, saved a shared hate. I have found in the previous days, however, they do have something in common when they wed one another. In marriage, they promise to simply love, honor, and obey each other for the rest of their lives. I'm more of a realist, so my vows are more from me than a simple worn out phrase. To me, it's more binding and personal that way."

A smile graced the man's lips at the chuckle that got from George and the snort from Fred that followed it. Of all the Weasley children, he had taken the longest to show any type of magical powers, Mrs. Weasley had stated it was because he was 'a late bloomer' but most believed it was because everything had to be done a certain way for Bill to believe in it, even at eleven. Where most children had shown their magical talent in random bursts of power, he had simply pointed his finger at a bulb and ordered it to light, something none of the Weasley children had yet to try since then, and something that was still uniquely Bill.

"So, instead of the 'love, honor and obey' malarkey that most people expect and sprout out without any thought, I promise to try to keep the fights we may have to a bare minimum and always find a way to make up afterwards; I promise to cherish every single second that you grace me with your beautiful presence, and continue to grace you with mine…."

This got a laugh from Ron and Harry before they were hushed by Fred, who could see that his eldest brother was about to go on a roll by the way Bill's eyes took on a faraway gaze.

"I promise also," Bill went on, seemingly unaware that there had even been an interruption, "to hold you up in drowning waters, until the waves beneath are still once more. My wand will forever light your way in darkness, all the days you stand beside me and I beside you. I cannot promise you peace forever, for the world will set out to make me a liar, but I can say that I will fight to make those calm days last, that our children will live their young lives without the fear of war. In short terms: I, William Henry Weasley, promise to give my whole heart, soul, and magic to you, Fleur Isabelle Delacour, only in the hope that you will gift me with your own.

There was a poignant silence following Bill's vows before it was broken by a set of sighs coming from the doorway.

"That was the most romantic thing I had ever heard," Heather was heard sighing once more as she opened the door to the mens' room, reveling Hermione blushing madly just a few steps behind her. After gracing everyone in the room with a smile, Heather turned to Hermione as her lips took on a mischievous tilt, practically purring, "Do you think one of us could convince him to give up Fleur and marry us instead?"

Hermione's blush deepened considerably as Bill waggled his eyebrows at her, making Heather giggle in delight; but, thankfully in Hermione's mind, she was saved from answering as a pair of growls followed Heather's statement, which were in turn followed by Fred and Ron pushing by Bill to lay possessive arms around Heather and Hermione's waists, respectively. Hermione's blush turned into a look of shock at Ron's actions, this was the most he had ever done that pushed the limits of their relationship beyond 'just friends'.

"Something tells me that certain people might have a problem with that," George grinned, watching as his brothers dragged the girls out of the room almost before they could warn Bill that the ceremony would be starting in five minutes. "Looks like we might be planning another wedding soon..."

Harry wasn't listening; for as soon as Bill finished his speech and the girls were dragged out of the room, he had made his way to find a certain redhead of his own...

-----0-----0-----0-----

Fred continued to pull Heather down the hall, inwardly fuming at the cheek of his eldest brother; the man was going to be married in a few minutes, for Merlin's sake, and he has the gall to flirt with his date! Oh, he was going to get so pranked when he came home from his honeymoon! Fred might be mad at his brother, but he wasn't gong to deny Fleur her wedding night because Bill suddenly sprouted a few boils in a most uncomfortable place...

"I was only joking, Fred; your brother looked like he was about to be lead off to the gallows, so I tried to make him laugh and loosen up a bit," Heather looked at Fred in exasperation after a few seconds of sullen silence before sighing heavily, "So you can stop crushing all the bones in my waist with your death grip and stepping on my shoes 'cause we're walking so close, since I'm pretty sure everybody with half a brain knows I'm here with you."

Fred stopped and stared at Heather in shock for a few seconds once he realized her statement was true; they were so close together, she had one arm wrapped around his waist just to keep from falling over, she was constantly adjusting how she walked to avoid getting stomped on and he could feel the entire length of her side pressed against his own, as well as the heat that sprung up between them as soon as he noticed this.

Releasing Heather hastily, Fred was finally able to get a good look at the dress she was wearing, now that anger at his brother wasn't coloring his vision red. What he saw made his jaw drop to the floor as he muttered an awed, "Whoa..." that made a light blush flare across Heather cheeks.

It was a sea blue gown that darken and lightened in color as Heather moved, flowing all the way down to her toes-clad in sky blue heels, courtesy of the youngest Weasley-with a slit down the side for ease in walking and thin straps around her shoulders, leaving her arms bare and showing off a small tattoo on one shoulder. A quick double take showed Fred that it was not a skull and snake; but rather a pair of roses, one red and one yellow. His attention was quickly drawn back to her dress again, due to the fact that, aside from changing shade as she moved, it also clung to her every curve; giving off the illusion that it was see-through and that was not helping Fred's focus any... or rather, he was focusing a bit too much.

"So... do you like the dress?" Heather asked hesitantly, tugging at the side and making it ripple like a wave across her form. Her question snapped Fred out of his Neanderthal-like state and helped him focus on the girl in front of him, no matter how provocatively she was dressed at the moment.

"I do, very much in fact," Fred smiled, chasing away the doubt lurking in Heather's eyes as she gave the neckline an exaggerated tug of relief. Suddenly reminded of the gift still residing in his back pocket, Fred's grin grew. "I have a present for you."

Heather shook her head, her smile slipping a few inches. "You took me in when you didn't even know who I was, gave me a roof to stay under with free room and board, and now you want to give me more?? If I didn't know you better, I'd think you were some sort of angel..."

Fred laughed as he took out the jewelry box and enlarged it to its proper size. "First off, Harry was the one that took you in and gave you a place to stay; secondly, you're technically paying for your stay with teaching Harry Detection, and this is the first time I really gave you anything."

"Is that your way of saying 'be quiet and be grateful for the gift'?" Heather teased, eying the enlarged box Fred now held in his hand, curious as to what the handsome redhead could've bought her.

"Something like that," Fred replied, his grin growing wider as he opened the jewelry box and Heather gasped at the contents.

-----0-----0-----0-----

"I did it because I didn't want to lose you."

Ginny's hands stilled where she had been busy fixing the hem of Fleur's gown to flow around her, heart giving a sudden leap at the sound of those words, at the familiarity of the tone behind them.

"What iz zee meaning of zis, 'Arry?" Fleur's question brought Ginny out of her stupor to turn around and stare at the boy that had invaded her dreams ever since he told her that they couldn't be together.

What she saw made her heart leap painfully against her chest like a caged bird trying to get free.

Ignoring the fact that there were two beautiful half-Veelas behind him dressed in beautiful gowns and oozing sexy Veela charm, Harry's gaze was trained solely on her, something that thrilled Ginny to no end. As soon as her eyes met his, Harry began to walk into the room, toward her, never once breaking their contact.

"There are so many similarities between us, Ginny," Harry whispered, the low sound nonetheless carrying to every ear in the room, "so many ways we are alike and it scares me; it scares me that every time I fight him, I feel like I'm becoming more like him, becoming Darker with each spell I cast..."

"But you're not him, Harry," Ginny was whispering too; it took all her strength just to stand upright underneath that intense stare, she could barely use a louder voice, "you're so much more than he could ever be."

"When Sirius was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange, I used the Cruiatis Curse on her," Harry's confession drew a pair of gasps from behind her, reminding Ginny that there was a captive audience to their little heart-to-heart before he started to speak again, "and I almost used the Killing Curse on her as well. Just because she killed Sirius, a godfather I barely knew."

But you didn't, Harry! You didn't follow that path! Ginny wanted to scream her thoughts aloud, but they became lodged in her throat as Harry finally stood before her, resting his forehead against hers as his eyes slid blissfully closed.

"If I lost you..." Even the thought seemed to be too much for her ebony haired hero; he had to swallow a few times before he could continue, "If I lost you, it would be me or the world. One of us would cease to be, because my world would end as soon as you left it."

Ginny's heart had swelled so much, it was becoming difficult to breathe as Harry opened those emerald orbs and swallowed her in their bottomless depths. If she was having a hard time breathing before, her heart stopped completely at the overwhelming adoration and passion swimming in Harry Potter's eyes.

"I love you, Ginevra Molly Weasley," Harry's thumbs traced a pattern across Ginny's cheeks as his hands came up to cup her face, "and in another time, another place, I would go down on bended knees and ask you to marry me."

She knew what he was asking what he was telling her; if he survived, if they both survived this war... Tears threatened to overflow her eyes as Ginny brought her own hands up to cover Harry's, bringing their faces together as she whispered her answer.

"And in that other time, other place, I would say yes."