Author's Notes: This story was written as a birthday gift for a close friend. Her favorite ship is Harry/Hermione. Mine is not, so this is my first try at writing any Harmony. (And now the pun in the title should make sense, if you didn't pick up on it before.) This was originally separated into three chapters, but it reads better as a one-shot, I think.
A Harmonious Wedding Story
All stories must consist of a beginning, a middle, and an end; whether this rule is written somewhere or is merely an instinct does not matter, for indeed all that matters is that it is true. One part cannot exist without the other two, for if there was, for example, a beginning but neither a middle nor an end to accompany it, then the tale would be forever suspended in time with no progression. Similarly, there cannot be a beginning and an end without a middle, for then, how would one transition into the next? And of course, there are no ends that stand alone, because some sort of action, however mundane, has to first occur in order to bring them about.
This logic is both simple and complex, depending upon how you choose to look at it. But that is only because most stories—or rather, the ones that are worth telling—are anything and everything but simple. Even if they commenced because of the most simple of things…
Everything began on the sixteenth of May, when the hills behind the Burrow had long-ago blossomed with the habitual signs of springtime and were now traversing into summer. On this day, (though not this day alone), the sky shone almost blindingly with the clearness of a bright blue, and all clouds were simply wisps that dissipated into the air no sooner than they had been formed. These, among other things, were factors that allowed traditional views to deem this day as the perfect day in which a wedding should be held. And so, rightfully, a wedding was to be held on this day—a day that, only moments before, Molly Weasley had exclaimed was completely flawless.
Yet, there was something else about this day, something that only the bride herself knew of and had thought of each night that past week. Therefore, it was also on this day that Hermione Granger decided that a marriage between herself and Ronald Weasley was impossible.
Of course, it was mandatory that she keep this to herself and brood upon it quietly and unobtrusively, because it was just as mandatory that no one discover her secret. Were she more outspoken and less caring, and if she had thought about it a bit less, she certainly would have marched out in front of the crowd which had begun to arrive downstairs and called off the wedding. Ginny would do it if she were to find herself trapped in the same predicament, and even Harry—always willing to voice what was right—might say something. But Ron would not, Hermione knew, and that was a portion of the trouble. If he did not wish to marry her, he would simply duck his head and continue on. However, he did wish to marry her, and very much so, as he had been enamored with her since they were children too young to comprehend the word 'love.'
Now this word they both understood. To Ron, love was Hermione. However, to Hermione…
She buried her head in her palms and pressed against her eyes until she saw a burst of stars. Her heart felt heavier than the gown which cascaded from her shoulders and draped along her body to trail upon the floor. Her nails were rounded, manicured to perfection, and her skin was soft; these sorts of things were not normal, especially not for her. Even in her fourth year at Hogwarts, at the Yule Ball, there had still been traces of dirt beneath her nails, which she had masked for the majority of the night beneath a pair of gloves. Her skin was always dry and littered with paper cuts because of the vast number of pages she was continually turning. And so, by these alone, it was apparent to her that the entirety of the event was a farce.
At that moment, Hermione felt the desperate desire for normalcy; her throat seemed parched, as if she was thirsting for it. The woman gave a strangled cry, leapt up from the edge of the bed upon which she had just been sitting, and abruptly turned on her heel. She could not even hear the signature crack! which resonated as she Apparated, for her ears were filled only with the sound of her blood pumping through them.
At first, after she had come to a stop, it was dark, and then she remembered that she had shut her eyes; though, when she opened them, she realized that the light had not changed. Blinking, she waited for her vision to adjust so that she could properly see where she had brought herself. At the present, she decided, it was best not to move, for she couldn't be certain how secure a destination her temporarily fractured mind had led her to.
But it did little good to worry, for she soon realized that she had not traveled far from the spare bedroom in the Burrow: she had but Apparated to the outskirts of the Weasley's property in the midst of the trees which clustered together to form a small wood. Upon this discovery, she smiled, and then with the maniacal air that is common in frantic brides, she tore her fingers through the silken locks of her hair. Pins fell from where they had once been held, raining over her shoulders and becoming lost within the folds of her gown.
It hardly mattered: Hermione had plans for that garment as well.
With the aid of her wand, she unlaced the gown's back and banished the ties into the nearby bushes. The fabric, a pale white of purity, gathered around her arms for a pause, baring her flesh, and then she let the entirety of it drop onto the moist earth that was the ground.
She released a laugh that greatly resembled a hiccup as she stared at the ruined bundle. This was hardly normal, but neither was it as farcical as before.
There was a gap in the trees to her right, lined by moss that was persevering in the heat by magic alone, through which she could view the one side of the Burrow askance. In rows that she herself had organized were dozens of identical chairs, meant for the guests that would seat themselves in them—it was only a matter of time before they flocked from the house and onto the grass. Sunlight glinted upon ginger hair every so often as the family of her best friend—her fiancé, she recalled with a start—bustled about in preparation for the ceremony that she was so hesitant about.
From where she stood, it seemed as though this scene was a moving photograph that she could stuff inside of her pocket. A photograph that, if she happened to lose it, would be gone forever, but would also cleanly detach itself from her so that it wasn't missed at all.
Just then, she heard a sound that resembled a voice. Hermione strained her ears to decipher it, for it seemed to come from so far away. And indeed it did, for when the words reached her completely, she blanched; someone was calling her name. Someone had discovered that she was gone.
Fearful of being caught, she darted in amongst a thicker stretch of trees and hid herself behind their trunks.
It was the middle of the afternoon when Harry Potter discovered her in the woods which grew several minutes from the Burrow. In truth, he had not come there with the intent of finding her, for he had expected her to return of her own accord. He knew, after all, that women were supposed to behave peculiarly just before they were wed, and Hermione had, in the past, gone slightly barmy in the midst of stressful situations. He had heard that it was best to put space between oneself and a bride until she was safely and happily married away.
His assumption was correct, though he had not, in any way, expected it to be quite as correct as it truly was. After all, there was no conceivable way for him to have predicted that he would discover his best friend of ten years lying amongst the earthen debris of the forest floor, nearly unclothed.
There were shadows flecked across her skin where gaps in the leaves above permitted muted sunlight to stream through; subtle wisps of wind—Harry did not know whence they came, for the air had been stiflingly still at the Burrow—played at the ends of her hair, which was splayed about her face in a wild mass. The light which touched this did not cause her locks to shine, for in them were tangled clumps of dirt and dried leaves that had fallen to the ground. Her eyes were closed, and her expression was one of serenity. Her arm was stretched languidly toward him, as though she unconsciously meant to trace the outline of his shoe.
Harry was not particularly fond of poetry, as he disliked the fact that the meanings they contained were always hidden. Yet in this moment, as he drank in the sight of her sleeping form, he found himself appreciating the poetic sense which she exuded. This was the calmest he had seen her since February; this was her most raw and natural state, and it suited her in some twisted way.
His stomach stirred, and he looked away. He wasn't supposed to look at her like that, he thought bitterly, because she wasn't his. She was Ron's. What sort of friend would he be to covet something that brought Ron happiness? He was the Boy Who Lived, famous by default for the majority of his life; he was the Boy Who Got Everything, and Ron was the Boy Who Had Nothing (Except For Hermione). The Boy Who Got Everything was, by an unwritten, unspoken rule, supposed to marry the sister of the Boy Who Had Nothing (Except For Hermione) in order to create one big happy Weasley family. And yet Ginny, the aforementioned sister, was the Girl Who Was Pretty and Appealing and Wanted the Boy Who Got Everything Even Though He Did Not Want Her Because She Wasn't Hermione.
And why should he want Ginny? he questioned of himself, still careful to refrain from peeking through his fingers at the woman for whom he had yet to create a stupid name. There was no one else in the world that possessed the ability to make him feel quite like Hermione always had the habit of doing. There was no other smile that made him happier, for Hermione rarely revealed such expressions when she engrossed herself in the tasks she was assigned (as well as those she assigned herself).
Every individual whom he met inspired a different sort of feeling within him, and each feeling he felt with a different portion of his heart. Mrs. Weasley was the only mother he had ever known, thus it was she who occupied the chamber of his heart that recognized maternal care. Petunia Dursley, as embittered as she was, had a minute corner of this chamber to herself.
At one point, when friends were friends and girls and boys were very nearly the same, Ron and Hermione had held their own chamber together. For together, they made him happy in the way that only those closest to you can. And when he was happy, they were happy, (and the other way around), because best mates feel together as one.
Then things had changed, and Hermione received a chamber which she alone could fill. And when she wasn't filling it, Harry felt empty. When he had broken off from Cho—who shared a chamber with Ginny—he had, quite frankly, not felt any different. It had not seemed as it he was missing something; indeed, it was rather like he had gained something instead. Harry had once reflected that this something might have been freedom, or at least a bit of breathing room. In the end, however, he had not been entirely sure of the something's identity.
Hermione, though, had never suffocated him—not any more than the average person had the capability of doing. She had annoyed him from time to time with her incessant talk of responsibility and house elf rights. But no one could be perfect.
Yet therein lay the trouble; Hermione was as near to perfection as he thought that anyone could be. And that was why he had removed himself from those he knew at the Burrow, detaching himself so that he could walk in the woods alone. That was why he had not been expecting to find her laying in his path, as it was from she that he had meant to detach himself the most. It was here in which he had meant to mope and wallow and rage until he could let her go. Because he was in love with her—so much so that she enticed him into thinking metaphorically.
With a sigh, he leaned against the boulder that protruded from the dirt, resting his elbows in an indentation that felt to have been created for that very purpose. He would look at her now; this was his last chance to do so, and after all, she would never know.
But after a moment, a sense of guilt overwhelmed him and he once more looked away.
What Harry did not know, in the middle of his muddle May afternoon, was that Hermione could feel his eyes upon her. And what was more, she had chanced being caught and had peered beneath her lashes—about which she had forgotten, and thus they remained black and curled—to gaze at him. Once. Twice. And now. Now she watched him with steady, unhindered eyes as he stared into the distance. She supposed that it was the Burrow which captivated his attention so.
Harry was pensive, yet appeared more troubled than she had seen him since before Voldemort's demise. Shadows flickered across an expression that she could only glimpse in part. He was despondent, almost defeated, in the way his shoulders sagged and his back arched into an unhealthy slump. Hermione searched for hints that would explain his unhappiness. Why, she wondered, did he share her despair?
No, no, it wasn't despair which she felt at all, she inwardly insisted, for she loved Ron as a friend, and certainly marrying a friend was preferable to marrying an enemy. It was just that, in the grand scheme of life, she had often imagined herself with…
Suddenly, Harry was looking her way before her mind, loquacious and preoccupied as it was, had the time to warn her.
Tendrils of colors swept across her cheeks as she seated herself between the roots of the tree behind her, and she drew her knees to her chest. Now that he could see her and she could see him, both at once, she felt the compulsion to express as much dignity as a disgruntled-looking bride-to-be such as herself could manage.
"Hello, Harry," said she in a tone that seemed almost muted. At the very least, it reflected her troubled thoughts.
"Hullo," he replied gloomily.
Silence fell upon them nearly as if each knew what plagued the other, yet neither could form words of consolation. In truth, however, it was not an understanding silence, for both Harry and Hermione were uncharacteristically consumed within themselves.
At length, she broke this spell.
"Are you alright?" she asked him cautiously. "You don't look well."
"I'm fine," Harry replied, even though his melancholic demeanor suggested otherwise.
Hermione bit back a retort; she wanted him to ask her if she was alright as well. But boys repelled hints like ducks repelled water in the midst of a tempest, and so she knew that she should not have even hoped.
Another stretch of silence came and went.
"You're marrying Ron," he at last stated. As if she needed reminding.
"Yes… I suppose I am."
Was it simply her imagination, or did the green of his eyes suddenly seem to brighten? It was difficult to be certain; there was a considerable distance between them.
"If you're going to spend the rest of your life with someone," he began slowly, "shouldn't you be… y'know… sure?"
"I…" Hermione wanted to tell him that in fact she was quite sure, for she had always been careful about her decisions. But the first half of this statement, if applied to her current circumstance, would be a lie; and if there was one thing for certain that afternoon, it was that Hermione did not delight in lying to her closest friends.
"One should be," she said honestly.
"And you're not." This was not a question, which surprised her. Were her thoughts truly that obvious?
Then her flush deepened. Perhaps it was her actions that had spoken so loudly.
"I'm not," she admitted at length.
All at once, the great weight that had been pressing down upon her shoulders lessened, as if she was being released. And, in a way, she was.
Oh, woe was it that all Gryffindors possessed the desire to question everything they were told. Even she herself was a prime example of this. Hermione tightened the grip she had upon her arms, leaving brief fingerprints of white upon her skin.
"I'm in love with someone else." She heard these words spoken like they had not just stumbled from her own lips.
"That's funny," said Harry. Hermione was almost certain now that he was suppressing a smile, though she did not understand what was so amusing to him. "So am I."
Yet whatever whim or thought it was that Harry had caught must have been catching, she reasoned, for she, too, was beginning to display the premature signs of a smile. Before she could stop herself, she adopted a sympathetic tone and replied, "That's alright, Harry. No one ever really expected you to fancy Ron."
The moment these words had left her, Hermione clapped her hands simultaneously over her mouth, resulting in a small yet resonating pop! as the air escaped suddenly from beneath her palms. Harry stared at her for many successive moments, during which time she could feel her own eyes latching onto his, identical glints locking.
And then, all at once, Harry and Hermione began to laugh. The former released a low chuckle that seemed to originate deep within his chest, and the latter relinquished a quick yet almost restrained burst of giggles. How long had it been since they had laughed this way together, and over something so trivial, so stupid? Their laughter had changed since that time, but Hermione could feel herself warming to the differences they both revealed. Her body shook with it, and her cheeks hurt, but in some way, it was the most comfortable sensation that she had ever experienced.
"Merlin, Hermione," Harry grinned as he fought to catch his breath, "It's no wonder I lo—" His expression froze, and the merriness in his tone dispersed until it was gone.
Sensing this just as quickly as it occurred, Hermione's cheerfulness mimicked the path of his until it was as if their last few minutes together had been erased. They were once more mirrors of each other now; their surfaces were blank but for the redness in their cheeks.
"What's no wonder?" she inquired more sharply than she had meant to.
It was funny, though, how she somehow already knew that answer. Because somehow, with Harry, she could more often than not sense what it was that he meant, no matter what it was that he meant. Somehow, that was why it was difficult for her to marry Ronald Weasley, because somehow they had never shared that bond. Somehow, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter, both famous and troubled in their own right, had nearly always been able to peacefully coexist with each other in a way that she and Ron never could. Somehow, this was a prerequisite when giving away one's heart to someone else.
If Harry sensed this—as she suspected that he might—he did not convey as much. He simply stared at his shoes—black and gleaming with polish—in the bashful manner which he had always adopted when the conversation's topic shifted to girls. Something trilled inside of her chest; this time, it was she who had caused him to behave as such.
"Harry?" she said after a pause, and she left her unspoken question hanging in midair.
"Yeah…" As if he had forgotten.
She knew that he had not. She wished that they were still laughing.
"Harry," she repeated, this time more slowly.
"I'm not supposed to talk you out of marrying Ron," Harry muttered, though whether he was speaking to her or himself, Hermione couldn't quite decide. "Ron's a good man and a good friend."
"So are you."
Harry chuckled darkly and arched his brows. "Yeah? Last time I checked, good friends don't think about stealing their best mate's fiancée."
Hermione sucked in her breath. That which she had wanted to hear had at last been said. This confession was in the open air and she wanted to snatch it up and clutch it beside her ear to hear it echo a thousand times or more. She had never been too fond of poetry, for ridiculous rhymes had never struck her as beautiful—after all, nothing could be said properly within so few words—and so at that moment, she found herself appreciating this opinion. There was nothing poetic about what Harry had said, and yet it seemed to be the most beautiful thing in the world.
"Harry." This time there was excitement behind her serious tone. "Do you want to get married?"
He blinked at her. "I suspect that there are two problems with this. First, I don't reckon you can be engaged twice, especially at the same time. Second, aren't I supposed to be the one proposing to you…?"
His brows had now bent into a befuddled line.
"If I wasn't engaged, would you say yes?" Hermione pressed, almost forcefully.
She heaved a breathy sigh. "If I wasn't engaged, would you ask me yourself?" She looked at him, expectant and hoping, and for the first time in several minutes, he met her gaze.
"Yeah," said he with the shadow of a grin. "I would."
"Right now?" she inquired insistently.
"If I wasn't going to be married."
His lips threatened to twitch. "If that's what you wanted—hang on, where are you going?"
Hermione stopped with her foot poised in mid-step; a moment later and her toes would have crushed the leaves beneath her. Harry was looking at her strangely again, as though he had never seen anything like her yet was glad that it was only her that he could see. She felt the trilling in her chest swell with her heart, and her hands began to quiver.
"I have to talk to Ron," she told him, already breathless despite the fact that she had not yet begun to run. Her limbs tingled with expectation.
Later, Harry would recall that he had mutely nodded, unable and unwilling to stop her. He would remember very clearly that she had sped off through the trees at a speed he had never thought her capable of, leaving a wind in her wake that had lingered long after she had disappeared from sight. And he would grin to himself, at this later time, at the fact that he had entirely forgotten, in a manner of moments, to call after her because she had left her wedding dress behind.
Later, he was glad that he had kept silent.
As the end of the day was nearing and the cool air of night was beginning to settle upon Ottery St. Catchpole, the murmurs of confusion which had persisted for the past several hours grew to mutterings of a much greater volume. The guests at the Burrow, who had expected the duller parts of the wedding ceremony to have been over and done with by now—and as such, the party that was supposed to have followed should have been well underway—were becoming more and more restless with each minute that ticked by.
To the extent of their knowledge, the bride had disappeared that morning, had been located by the best man, and both had gone missing with the groom. This had been an hour ago, the latter of these events, and as such, it had been an hour since Fred Weasley had come jogging up to Angelina Johnson whispering—very loudly—what had last occurred. The guests had not received an update since.
By now, even the charms cast upon the chairs could do little to make them feel comfortable, and the children who had fallen pretty to sleep were clustered upon the grass with a persistently cheerful Dobby to watch over them. And by now, even the most devoted of parents were casting fewer and fewer glances at their children, for they, too, had eyelids that were heavy.
Fleur Weasley lifted her head from her husband's shoulder, her blonde waterfall of hair rippling down his arms in silver waves.
"Bill," she murmured as she obscured a yawn with her dainty hand, "'Ave I meessed ze wedding? I deed not mean to sleep. J'ai sommeil…le bébé…" She glanced downward at the swell of her stomach and Bill encompassed her hand in his.
"Fortunately," he began with a half-hearted grin, "My brother's yet to turn up, so you haven't missed a thing."
Fleur clucked her tongue. "C'est ridicule. When we were married, eet was very lovely, and none of zees 'appened. I deed not go running away…"
Bill frowned. "To be honest, I've got to agree. It strikes me as odd that no one has—"
"Oh! Regarde! Bill!" Fleur interrupted, tapping his shoulder excitedly. The aforementioned Weasley abandoned his musings as his wife pointed at the weather-beaten side of the Burrow which was facing them. In the encroaching darkness, his blue eyes were strained—as he disliked donning glasses both in public and in private—yet he could still discern that something—or someone, perhaps—was moving round the corner.
"Who is it?" he questioned aloud, though to no one in particular.
It was Fleur who answered him, for her eyesight was the sharpest. "I theenk eet eez 'Arry! Oh! And Ronald aussi… But… where eez 'Ermione?" Bill could feel her slender fingers grasp onto his more tightly at the same moment he felt his mind echo her question. Where was his little brother's fiancée?
At the very front of the guests, where the grass had been clipped into near perfection, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley came to a halt, hovering together closely as if they had something still to conspire about. Their shoulders looked to be the opposite of each other; Harry's were rigid, as if he was consumed by anxiety, and Ron's were slumped, relaxed in a way that did not suggest defeat. They were dressed much the same as the guests had last seen them hours before; the only nuance was that their jackets were slightly mussed. Had it still been midday, the fact that they had, in fact, swapped clothing would have been much more apparent.
Ron pointed his wand at his throat, all the while followed by Harry's eyes, and he coughed. The cough, which was by itself an unobtrusive sound, was now magnified so greatly that Minerva McGonagall, who was seated in the front row of chairs, jumped slightly from her seat.
"Sorry, Professor," Ron apologized, and the aged woman merely nodded and clutched her palms to her chest.
"Right. Well. Er, hello everyone," he greeted, raising his hand in an awkward wave. "Thanks for coming and waiting here all this time. Must've been a bore, I expect.
"The reason nothing's happened since this morning is that my best mates and I almost made the worst mistake of our lives." Here he paused, and a rippling murmur rose like the tide among the guests. "And because of that," he pressed on, "Hermione and I have decided that we're not getting married."
The tide became a full-fledged storm.
Feeling worry clench inside of him, Harry leaned closely toward Ron's ear. "You sure you're alright with this?"
Ron raised his brows. "If I wasn't, it'd be too late now. I've already told them that the wedding's off."
Harry maintained a more serious countenance. "I mean it, Ron."
"Well, she wants you and you want her. And really," he added with a hearty chuckle, "I don't reckon I want to get married just yet."
This wasn't a lie, and they had both known as much before it had been spoken.
"She's not right for me, you know," Ron continued. "We're always in some sort of row. I can't remember the last time you had one with her. Besides," he grinned, "if I'm going to give her away, it might as well be to somebody who I know'll take good care of her."
"Thanks, mate," said Harry appreciatively, and he clapped his friend fondly upon the shoulder. What more was there to say when it seemed they understood each other perfectly, even in such a situation as this?
Ron cleared his throat and returned his gaze to the wedding guests before him. "But," he addressed them, "I am perfectly happy to announce that Harry, the best mate that any bloke could ever hope to have, and Hermione, whom I've realized is as much of a sister to me as Ginny, are getting hitched instead!"
Near the very back, perhaps even from one of the children who had managed to remain awake, there came a cheer. It quickly migrated forward, this joyous exclamation, and filled the night in a chorus. It was so loud that Harry could not help but suspect that Malfoy could hear them all the way in Wiltshire.
"I don't reckon they care which of us ties the knot," Harry remarked, though this observation, and the quiet sobs of Ginny Weasley, were whisked away by the noise and the wind. His heart swelled like a bird first taking flight, and he exchanged a grin with Ron.
All stories must consist of a beginning, a middle, and an end; whether this rule is written somewhere or is merely an instinct does not matter, for indeed all that matters is that it is true. One part cannot exist without the other two, for if there was, for example, a beginning with neither a middle nor an end to it, then Hermione Granger would have been suspended in misery and confusion forevermore. Similarly, there cannot be a beginning and an end without a middle, for if that were the case, then in the end, Hermione would have been unhappily wed to Ronald Weasley, instead of calling off the wedding and preparing for another soon after. And of course, there are no ends that stand alone, because some sort of action, very much the opposite of mundane, must occur in order to bring them about.
Together, the three must coexist in perfect harmony, even if it does not seem as if such a thing is possible given the events which unfold within each respective part.
This story, which began over the smallest of things—a stirring feeling of doubt—expertly follows these rules of a tale's progression. It consists of a beginning, a middle, and the ever-important end, which is, depending upon how you choose to look at it, simply another beginning.
And this was, coincidentally, how Hermione chose to look at it as she entwined her arms around Harry's waist and kissed him for the very first time. He looked at her, his green eyes alight, and traced the line of her jaw with his thumb.
"I love you," he told her softly.
"Forever and ever," she grinned.
At least, she reflected, if there was no second beginning to follow, they had already obtained their happily ever after.