Hermione couldn't believe her eyes when she saw him. They had only broken up a few weeks ago, after years together, and he brought her here?
She had been standing next to Molly when the two of them Apparated, so she had no choice but to smile and greet them, pretending nothing was wrong. Her best friend was getting married, and she wouldn't be the one to spoil their day; especially not because of him.
The wedding was at the Burrow, Molly not really giving the couple much choice in the matter. They had decided to keep the ceremony rather private, just family and a few old friends, as the famous Harry Potter was the groom, extra wards had been placed by the former Order members around the house to ensure privacy, and keep away nosy journalists and unwanted guests. They certainly didn't want to be on the cover of every wizarding paper for months.
After days of constant rain, the sky had finally cleared that very morning, giving them the unexpected, but hoped for, sunny day, perfect for the outdoors ceremony they had planned.
She was thankful when, after a few more minutes of uncomfortable conversation, they were to take their seats. It was time for the ceremony to begin.
As she made her way to the garden, along with the other guests, she was surprised at how beautiful everything looked. They had placed a white arch covered in white and light-yellow flowers in the centre, a few rows of white chairs in front of it, and a path in between, covered with petals.
She took her seat, on the front row, with the Weasleys, and did her best to ignore the tall, beautiful blond kissing Ron's neck by her side.
"You look beautiful," someone whispered by her ear, startling her. She quickly turned around to find Bill standing next to her, a sexy smile on his lips.
"Thank you," she muttered, blushing.
"Do you mind?" he asked Charlie, who had just sat down next to her, and the next second he had moved to the next seat, leaving room for Bill. She missed the knowing look he gave to his older brother.
"When did you get back?" she asked, as he sat by her side.
"Last night," he answered. He had moved back to England years before, but still worked for Gringotts and travelled often.
"And how was the trip?"
"Not bad, but I missed home," he said, a strange glint in his eyes she didn't have time to analyse, as the music began to play.
She turned and watched Harry walk to the arch. He was wearing white dress robes, and looked like he had tried to comb his hair, but to no avail, as usual. He looked nervous, looking around and fidgeting with the robes, but smiled warmly as his eyes met hers. She had never seen him so happy before.
Suddenly, he stiffened and turned again, his green eyes shining even more than before, if possible, and as she followed his gaze, she saw the bride, standing next to her father, smiling nervously and slowly walking down the aisle. She was wearing a white dress, more like a Muggle wedding dress than an actual robe, and her aunt's diadem.
Ginny's nervous expression soon turned into a broad smile as her eyes met Harry, waiting for her by the minister. She heard Molly sob loudly as her husband and only daughter walked past her, and Bill chuckle at his mother's reaction.
"Stop that," she scolded, stifling her own laugh.
The ceremony was short, just a few words from the minister, and some from Ginny and Harry, and then the binding, a small silver thread leaving both their wands and swirling around them for a few moments, before turning into sparks raining down on them.
After all those years together, she knew the ceremony didn't mean all that much to them; they had mostly done it for Molly, who had been planning her only daughter's wedding almost since the day she was born, and they all knew once she made up her mind on something, there was nothing they could do but oblige. She and Hermione had that in common.
She got up and slowly walked over to where they were now standing, patiently waiting for the other guests to finish congratulating them so that she could finally reach them.
Every time she saw them together, she had the same feeling. She had never seen two people that looked so perfect for each other, that understood one another so completely. Even after all these years, their faces still lit up when they looked at one another. As much as she hated to admit it, sometimes she felt jealous of what they had. She had never found anything like that, not even with Ron.
For years, she had thought herself in love with him, and when they had finally started going out, after the war, she convinced herself she was happy. After almost two years, they had moved in together, and the relationship had changed. They soon fell on a comfortable routine, staying together because it was the easy thing to do, what everyone expected to happen, but she had to admit they were more like roommates than an actual couple most of the time. Of course, she only realized this after she had left.
She had noticed the first changes a few months back; he would go out almost every night and return home late at night, changing the subject every time she asked him if everything was all right. They rarely talked anymore, and their sexual life had gone from boring to nonexistent, but she still refused to acknowledge the changes and convinced herself it would pass. She truly believed they could still work it out, that they could find the flame they had lost so long ago again.
That was, of course, until the night she had come home early from work, only to find him fucking another woman on their kitchen table, the same woman he had now invited to his sister's wedding.
At least, he'd had the courage to admit the truth. He'd met her at work, and they had been seeing each other for months. When she had asked him why he hadn't just broken up with her, if he wanted to be with the other woman, he had answered he wasn't sure of what he wanted.
She had left the apartment that very night, throwing a few nasty curses his way, and moving in with Harry a few days, until she could find a place of her own.
The next few weeks, her friends tried to take her out, force her to have some fun, but she refused to leave her new apartment, except to go to work. After being betrayed by someone she'd known since she was eleven, the man she'd been living with, the one she'd opened her heart to, how could she ever trust anyone else?
After almost ten minutes, she finally reached the newlyweds.
"I'm so happy for you," she told Harry, smiling and hugging him tightly.
"Thank you," he answered, and then whispered by her ear, so no one else could hear, "Are you alright?"
It took her a few moments to realize what he was talking about. "Yes," she muttered, and her eyes darted to Ron and the blond woman, standing next to Ginny and holding hands.
"I didn't know he would bring her here, I'm sorry," he apologized.
"Don't worry," she muttered, taking a step back and forcing a smile at him. "I'm fine."
They looked at each other for a few more seconds, and it looked like he wanted to say something else, but Charlie interrupted.
"So, you're officially part of the family now," he said, patting Harry's shoulder and winking at her, and she smiled and nodded, silently thanking him for distracting Harry.
Without wasting a second, she turned around and headed back to the house; suddenly, she didn't feel like being surrounded by dozens of happy people.
She slowly made her way through the house, a small smile on her lips as she remembered all the happy days she had spent there. All the visits during Hogwarts vacation, and all those birthdays, Christmas and New Year's parties with Harry and the Weasleys, even the time her parents had joined them there, Arthur chasing them the whole evening, much to Molly's embarrassment, wanting to know every little detail about their jobs. The next year, her father had sent him some of the books he had in his practice, and a few catalogues with the instruments dentists used; she had never seen Arthur so excited.
Her smile broadened at the memory, as she walked into the kitchen, following the irresistible scent of dark chocolate. She knew they would have dinner soon, but once she saw the tray full of those delicious chocolate biscuits Molly had made, she couldn't help herself. Chocolate always made it all better.
After the third one, she forced herself away from the table, and walked to the sink to wash her hands. She had just finished drying them out when she looked out the window and froze. Just a few feet from the house, she could see Ron and his girl, kissing like there was no tomorrow. She had her hands buried in his hair, and his hands were on her lower back, pulling her flush against his body.
He had never kissed her like that, not with such passion and desire. In fact, she couldn't remember ever being kissed that way. Was it her fault? Maybe there was something wrong with her; maybe she couldn't feel that kind of passion. She felt her eyes tear up at the sight, hurt for everything that had happened, for never having made Ron feel that way about her.
"Forget about him," she heard a soft voice by her ear, and she almost jumped in surprise. She hadn't heard anyone walk in.
"I wish it were that easy," she sighed, her eyes still on the couple, and felt Bill step closer, their bodies almost touching.
"He wasn't good enough for you," he whispered by her ear, repeating the words she had said to him over two years before, when his wife had left him.
Fleur and Bill had gotten married as planned, the summer after Dumbledore's death, and at first, they had seemed like a happy couple. Hermione and Bill had become close friends after the war, when she took a job at Gringotts. They had sent her to Egypt, to try to translate some of the hieroglyphics on one of the tombs they hadn't been able to enter yet, and they had sent Bill with her, their most experienced curse breaker.
It had taken a few months for the translation to be complete, so they had spent a lot of time together. Fleur and Ron had visited a few times, but it was usually just the two of them. They had spent their days working hard under the burning sun, and the nights getting to know each other. She knew Bill had been a Prefect and Head Boy at Hogwarts, but she was still surprised they had so much more in common. They both loved reading, and could spend hours discussing just about every subject they could think of, some times even talking the night away.
After the first few weeks, she noticed Fleur didn't visit him very often, and when she did, she looked rather uncomfortable around him. He also rarely talked about his wife, and whenever she was mentioned, he did his best to change the subject. She had asked him a few times if everything was all right with the witch, and every time he had just smiled at her and told her there was no problem at all. It had taken a long time for him finally to admit the truth.
As much as he hated to admit it, he had changed after Greyback's attack. Fleur didn't care about the scars, but his behaviour sometimes scared her, especially after full moon. It had taken him even longer to admit why his wife felt that way.
He had always been soft and careful around her, romantic and caring, but after the attack, he had become "too rough", in Fleur's words. She wanted to be treated like a princess, with someone always looking after her, ready to fulfil her every wish, and as much as he loved her, Bill just wasn't that man. He wasn't even sure he had ever been.
Then, a few months after they had left Egypt and gone back to England, Fleur had left. Not a warning, not even goodbye, he had just gotten home from work to find their house almost empty, all her things gone. He had tried to find her, but her parents wouldn't even talk to him. She had broken his heart, making feel like a monster, someone who didn't deserve to be loved.
He had locked himself up in his house, then, refusing to go out and not letting anyone in. She could remember spending hours outside his house, sitting by the locked door, talking and talking, never getting more than an occasional groan in return.
She had decided to give him some time, but there was no change, so one afternoon she showed up and blew the door open with one of the most powerful spells she knew. She strode inside, only to find him lying on the couch, his eyes puffy and empty bottles all over the floor.
She stood in front of the surprised and barely awake wizard, her hands on her hips as she ordered, in her best bossy tone, "Get up." When he simply groaned in return, she aimed her wand at his chest. "Up," she repeated, menacingly, and after a few moments and another loud groan, he finally got up.
"Go take a shower," she commanded then, and when he didn't move she took a step closer, red sparks flying from her wand as she threatened, "Do not test my patience, William."
She watched him slowly stagger to the bathroom, and right before he closed the door, she yelled, "And shave, too."
That had been a Friday afternoon, and she had spent the entire weekend in his place, talking for hours, and sitting in silence, whenever she felt he needed it.
"She wasn't good enough for you, you deserve a lot better," she had told him that night, after hours of silence, both sitting in front of the fire, his head resting on her lap as she ran her fingers through his long hair. He had just snorted.
Hands on her hips surprised her and brought her back to reality, to Ron kissing that woman just a few feet away, and Bill standing right behind her.
"I should have been there for you," he whispered, leaning closer and sending shivers through her body.
"You were busy," she said, glad she could manage to sound normal with him standing so close to her.
"You were there when I needed you."
"Well, that's what friends are for." She heard him laugh behind her, and then he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her back against him.
"He wasn't good enough for you."
"You said that already."
"Because it's the truth." She felt him rest his chin on her shoulder, looking at the kissing couple. "I've seen you with him; he wasn't right for you. You couldn't even keep a real conversation with him," he said, and her eyes filled with tears at the sad truth in his words. "He couldn't challenge you intellectually. Or physically," he added, the last words whispered so softly she wasn't sure she hadn't just imagined them. His lips touched her ear for a moment, before he continued. "He couldn't make you laugh, couldn't spend hours just sitting next to you, enjoying your company in silence." She felt her heart speed up at his words, at his closeness.
"He couldn't make your heart beat faster just by standing close to you," he said, his lips slowly moving along her neck. She felt her body relax a little in his arms, and leaned back against his hard chest. "Couldn't make you moan with only his voice," he whispered softly by her ear, and she couldn't stop the moan escaping her lips. "You deserve someone who will worship you, someone that can't get you out of his mind, no matter what," he said, his hands leaving her hips and moving up, softly caressing her breasts through the dress. "It's hard to believe you didn't see it earlier."
"I loved him," she said.
"Maybe, but you weren't in love. There wasn't understanding, there wasn't passion, desire," he whispered, nibbling on her neck.
"Bill," she moaned softly, and opened her eyes, to watch the couple again. "Why wasn't it like that with me? In all the years we were together, he never kissed me like he's kissing her, not once."
"Because he is an idiot," he answered. "He never knew what he had, and still hasn't realized what he's lost."
"He doesn't seem to mind it much."
"But he will, and when he does, it will be too late. His loss will be another man's gain."
"It will?" she asked, and moaned as one of his hands moved back down her body and under the dress, softly caressing her thighs.
"Oh, yes. That man will be one lucky bastard."
"And who will it be?" she moaned, and he pushed against her, letting her feel just how aroused he was.
"Well, it could be anyone. Maybe an old friend, who took too long to realize just how amazing you are, and just might take a chance now he's found out you are available."
"Bill, I don't think we should do this," she whispered, as she felt his hand caressing her inner thighs.
"Then don't think," he simply answered.
"We've been friends for years; I don't want to lose you because of a one night…"
"Hush," he said, a finger on her lips preventing more words to leave her mouth.
He pulled her hair to the side and licked her neck, from shoulder to earlobe, making her shiver and moan. "Don't think. Don't speak. Just feel," he murmured, nibbling and biting on her neck after each sentence as he ground his hips into her.
She finally relaxed in his arms, pushing anything other than the man behind her out of her mind. She felt his fingers trail up her thigh, drawing small circles as they moved closer and closer to her core.
"Do you like it?" he asked huskily, and she could only nod and moan even louder as he pushed her knickers to the side and flicked her clit. He moved his other hand inside the dress too, fondling her breasts and pinching her nipples as he slowly pushed a finger inside of her. She threw back her arm then, winding it around his neck and pushing his lips closer to her neck.
Her breathing grew ragged as he pushed another finger inside of her, the palm of his hand rubbing against her clit.
"Oh, Bill," she moaned, his fingers moving faster and faster inside of her, and she had to move her other hand to the counter in front of her, resting her weight on it to prevent herself from falling, as her knees gave way. He pushed his body harder against her, his erection pressed firmly against her back as he gave her pleasure.
She could feel her muscles contracting around his fingers as she rocked her hips against his hand. Suddenly, he curled his fingers inside of her, his thumb flicking over her clit one last time, making her world explode.
She was still panting when she felt him stiffen behind her and step back, just as his mother walked into the kitchen.
"Well, what are you doing in here?" Molly asked distractedly, as she walked in.
She felt his hands on her again, fixing her dress and then reaching for a glass from the cupboard over her head.
"I was just saying hello to Hermione here. I hadn't seen her since I left for India."
She took the chance to fix her hair, and take a deep breath, trying to calm down.
"Well, there will be time for that later. Now go back outside, everyone's waiting at the table," she said, oblivious to what had happened, and left.
"Hermione," Bill whispered, walking back to where she was, but she turned around and held out her arm, stopping him before he could reach her.
"This was a mistake," she said, refusing to meet his eyes.
"No, it wasn't, and you know it."
"I can't do this right now, I'm sorry," she muttered, and walked to the door.
"Wait, please," he said, grabbing her arm as she tried to leave.
"This is wrong, Bill. You. Me. I can't lose you as a friend," she whispered.
"Hermione, hurry up," came Harry's voice from outside the house before Bill could say anything else.
"I'll be right there," she answered, freeing her arm and walking out, refusing to look at him as she did.