"Mr. Weasley, you may now kiss your bride," the minister said, smiling gently to the two people standing in front of him.
Bill's grin, which he held through the entire ceremony, widened at the old wizard's words. He gathered Fleur up into his arms and kissed her soundly upon the mouth. The guests in the garden cheered as the kiss ended--Bill still smiling and Fleur with a blush across her cheeks, staring adoringly at her new husband.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" the minister shouted above the cheers of the guests. "I present you with Mr. and Mrs. William Weasley!" Cheers once again echoed around the garden as Bill and Fleur blushed with happiness. The old minister raised his hands for quiet and announced, "I will ask you to join the newlyweds in the tent, located on the far field, for good food and fun!"
Harry stood up with the rest of the guests, including Hermione, who sat beside him, and began to shuffle over to the walkway. The ceremony had been nice, with Bill in dress robes of black and Fleur in a beautiful white wedding gown. Harry looked up at the alter to find Ron still standing there, dressed, as the other groomsmen were, in robes of white. He then glanced over at the bridesmaids, who were wearing long black dresses. As Ginny was Bill's only sister, she was reluctantly talked in to being part of the ceremony. She fought with her mother and Fleur, saying that she would look utterly ridiculous in black with her pale skin, but Harry could have told her she had nothing to worry about. She looked absolutely stunning.
Harry remembered, as he gazed at Ginny, the time he had with her at the end of last term. Although it was brief, it was the happiest Harry had ever been. He could still remember the incredible conversations they had about anything and everything, how it felt to have his arms wrapped around her, her hands in his hair, their lips moving together…
Harry closed his eyes, trying to erase the memories from his head. He wouldn't allow himself to think about that. They weren't together anymore, by Harry's doing, and he had to stick with his decision.
He realized that while musing, he lost Hermione in the crowd. He looked around for his other best friend, but he too seemed to have disappeared. He shook his head, thinking nothing of it. Ron and Hermione helped set up for the wedding after they arrived from the Dursley's. They were probably just reporting to Mrs. Weasley to see what needed to be done.
The white reception tent was set up on the field he and the Weasley's played quidditch on during the summer. Inside was a large dance floor, surrounded by many small tables that were quickly filling up with people ready to eat. Harry looked for a table at which to sit, but the pickings were slim. He saw three seats available. One was at a table that sat many of the Weasley's older family. Harry could see a woman he was introduced to earlier as Great-Aunt Muriel waving almost frantically for him to come over. Harry politely waved back, then quickly began to walk in the opposite direction. The next seat available was next to The Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. Harry rolled his eyes when he saw Scrimgeour try to grab his attention. He had groaned when he discovered the Minister was invited. He was informed that Scrimgeour came because Scrimgeour wanted to be present at the wedding of the brother of one of the most promising Ministry employees, but most of the Weasley's and he were sure that the fact Harry was attending helped him develop that excuse. He walked by the table without even acknowledging the Minister and moved to the last seat. Unfortunately, the situation at this table wasn't much better. The last empty chair was next to Ginny, the one person he'd been trying to avoid the most since he came to the Burrow last week. She sat there with Luna Lovegood and her brothers, Fred and George.
"Harry!" Fred exclaimed. He stood up and shook Harry's hand quite jovially. "Have a seat! Luna was just telling us an amusing story about--"
"It isn't a story," Luna interrupted, a bit perturbed. "My father and I did find the Bulgarian Baclaskin this summer. It nearly killed him!" She stared at Fred and George as they snickered. She then turned to Harry, her gaze returning to its dreamy state. "Hello, Harry. Lovely ceremony, wasn't it?"
"Erm…" He was broken from his daze, not realizing he had been sneaking looks at Ginny. "Um, yes. It was quite lovely." He then asked, "Luna, what are you doing here? I didn't know you knew Bill."
Luna nodded vigorously and said, "Oh yes. I've known the Weasley's almost my whole life. I grew up in the same village, you know." She sighed contently and glanced up at Bill, who had just walked in with Fleur. "William is fantastic, isn't he?"
Harry, confused by Luna's obvious admiration of Bill, said, "Well, he is a good guy--"
"I think I'll marry him someday," she blurted, nodding her head at her decision.
Harry stared at Luna. She rarely made any sort of sense to him, but this conversation took the cake. "But…Luna, he just got married."
"Oh, I'm not worried about that," she said dismissively, still staring lovingly at the new groom. Harry mouth hanged agape at that comment, but quickly closed when he heard the three Weasley's snort with laughter. He looked over at Ginny to see her shaking with suppressed giggles, and found himself laughing as well. She looked up at him then, her eyes meeting his. His mirth faded when he found himself sinking into her eyes and staring at her lips as she smiled softly at him. His mind once again retreated to their time together, and their hours by the lake…
Harry shook his head, once again trying to get rid of those happy memories. He ignored Ginny's look of confusion and stood up. "I'm…um, I'm going to go…find Ron and Hermione," he slurred, walking quickly away from the table. He heard the twins holler after him, but didn't dare turn around. He refused to let his resolve break about Ginny, which surely would have happened if he had sat there for another moment.
He had his reasons for wanting to be away from her, but not the reasons everyone thought. Of course, he wanted to protect her, but that wasn't what formed his decision. He did it because he wasn't certain of his future. He didn't know if he was even going to come back from his mission to destroy Voldemort. He wasn't stupid; he knew that if he died, Ginny would be sad, but he didn't want her to grieve over him the same that Cho mourned over Cedric. He would rather her give up on him, much like she had done before, than to cause her even more pain with his death.
After looking at the alter, near the pond, and around the house, he walked into the deserted Burrow, still seeking out Ron and Hermione. He was so lost in his thoughts that, when he opened the door to the sitting room, he at first didn't realize his two best friends were standing in the middle of it, completely consumed in each other. He did a double take, standing in shock for a few seconds, before slowly backing out of the room. He left a crack in the door as he was quietly closed, allowing him to still see them.
Ron's hands were running up and down Hermione's back, as her hands ran through his hair. Their mouths were touching over and over again, each time the kisses becoming deeper. Harry suspected that the whole of the Weasley family, Great-Aunt Muriel and all, could have stampeded into the room and it wouldn't have broken their embrace.
Their kisses stopped after some time and they stepped away from each other, though not completely. Ron's hands rested on Hermione's hips, her hands dangly around his neck. They lay their foreheads against one another and took several deep breaths. Harry, confused and shocked by the whole display, was about to barge in to interrogate, but Hermione spoke first.
"Ron," she said softly. Mistakenly, Ron took this as his sign to start another snog, but Hermione put a hand against his chest. "No, Ron," she sighed heavily, "we can't."
Ron leaned back and stared at her incredulously. "What? But we were just--"
"I know," she interrupted, "but…" She sighed again and hung her head. "Ron, Harry needs us."
"I know that," he said mystified, "that's why we're going to go hunt for the horcruxes with him." He stepped up closer to her and cupped a hand to her cheek. "But that doesn't mean that we can't…" He bent down to kiss her again, and she almost allowed it, but turned her face away, causing him to kiss her cheek.
"Yes, it does mean that we can't," she said tenderly. She looked into his bewildered eyes and explained. "He's going to need us to be there for him. And I don't just mean in the vicinity to cover his back, but this is really going to hurt him, mentally and emotionally." She sniffed back her tears and continued. "If we're…doing this while we're away with him, he's not going to want to come to us. He's going to try to do everything on his own, to keep everything inside, because he'll think he's being a burden." She sighed and rested her head on his chest, not letting Ron see the tears that had just fallen. "We can't do that to him, Ron."
Ron stood there, looking down at the girl he had just been kissing, a hurt expression on his face. It looked to Harry as though he was going to walk away, but instead he wrapped his long arms around her and brought her close, kissing the top of her head. "I understand," he murmured.
Hermione looked up at him, admiration, as well as tears, shining in her eyes. She stood on her tippy toes and gave him a soft kiss. "Thank you," she whispered against his lips. She lowered herself and with a last glance at him, began to walk away. Before she could get very far, though, Ron stepped up to her and gently grabbed her arm.
"When all this is over," he began, his voice cracking with emotion. He cleared his throat and began again, "When all this is over, when that bastard is dead, when Harry kills him…" There was no need for him to continue. Hermione slid her hand down his arm and clutched his hand, nodding at the unfinished statement. She then walked up the stairs and into Ginny's room, closing the door softly behind her.
Ron stood still, staring at the spot where Hermione was. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, slowly letting it out. Harry knew he was trying to calm himself down. Being told he wasn't allowed to be with the girl he'd liked since fourth year (or so Ron tells him, although Harry suspects it might have been longer) because they had to help their best friend would likely make him angry as well.
He left Ron to his stewing and walked back to the garden. He sat down on a bench, placing his head in his hands, thinking about the two people he just left. Harry knew there had been something going on between them—after all, they bickered too much for there not to be. But he didn't know that things had escalated and they were now together. Well, were together. Now they had to stop because Harry needed them. It angered him to think that they would put their personal lives aside for him. Everybody was giving up too much for him already, and now his best friends—
He looked up to see Ginny standing there in her black gown, looking quite concerned…and more beautiful than he'd ever seen her in that moonlight. He cringed at that thought and put his head back in his hands.
"Harry?" she asked again. She sat next to him on the bench and placed a hand on his back. "Harry, what's--"
He jumped from the bench as soon as he felt the contact, ignoring the jolt of lightning that seemed to touch his ever nerve ending by the one simple touch. "Don't," he hissed through his teeth.
Ginny stared up at him, confused shock written on her face, before standing up and stepping in front of him. "Why not?" she challenged. "Hm, Harry? Are you afraid you're going to like me again?"
"Ginny," he said, squirming under her gaze.
"Ever since you came here you've avoided me like I was some deadly disease," she admonished, fire sparking in her eyes. Harry wanted nothing more than to smolder that fire with his lips on hers…No! "Why are you so adamant about not letting yourself be with me?" She asked, poking him in the chest with every word. "Why won't you let me--"
Harry grabbed her hand that had been jabbing him in his and held on. To feel her hand in his again was pure bliss for him, but he couldn't let himself enjoy. Instead, he screwed up his face and told the biggest lie that had ever been told: "Because I don't want to be with you."
Ginny looked from her hand, which was still being held in his, then to his eyes, which seemed to be willing her to believe him. "Bull." She stepped closer to him and tried to worm her unoccupied hand around his neck, but he quickly stepped away.
"It isn't," he whispered cruelly. He glared at her and said, "I don't like you anymore, Ginny. And the way you've been throwing yourself at me all week--"
Ginny gasped in indignation. "Throwing myself--"
"—has got to end! I don't want to be with you, so just leave me alone!" he finished loudly, walking into the Burrow and slamming the door behind him. He marched right up to the very top room, where Ron was sitting on his bed gazing at the floor, and flung himself on his cot, face first.
What have I done?