Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot! I am making no money from this and am writing it purely for fun. This is primarily RLHG but also SSHG. Throughout the story there will be some scary scenes…non-con, dub-con, graphic language, graphic scenes, psychological issues and possible character death. There will be drama, tension, and angst at times. But there will also be plenty of lemons.
Willows and Witches
Chapter 1: The Wedding
Hermione stood in a beautiful snow white satin gown on a small platform. She was surrounded by mirrors. Molly Weasley was at her feet, pinning back portions of the dress so that she could walk unobstructed down the aisle. Ginny was watching joyfully from one of the corners of the room and Hermione heard all sorts of excited sounds and pre-celebration toasts going on outside. It was her wedding day, a day that she had been looking forward to her entire life. Yet now that it had at long last arrived, she was in the mood to mourn.
Nothing was right. Not the dress that she'd spent days agonizing over, or the cake; it was Ron's favorite flavor. She didn't fancy getting married in the Weasley's garden but Ron had grumbled about it being family tradition. Her hair had been contorted and weighed down with an assortment of formulas meant to make it shiny but it had the unfortunate effect of making it look oily and as if it hadn't been washed in a week. Her face was covered in makeup and she was wearing more than a few glamours. She felt as though the image that everyone was trying to mold her into was not her at all. She was made into the stereotypical wizarding bride and could have stepped off of the front cover of Witch Wedding Weekly.
"Hold still dear. Stop fidgeting. You have absolutely nothing to be nervous about! I've taken care of all the details!" Molly chastised.
Hermione grimaced in response.
"Don't worry Hermione, you look gorgeous. Ron is going to drop dead at the sight of you!" Ginny exclaimed excitedly, mistaking her apprehension for vanity.
If only that were true. Each minute that passed brought her one minute closer to the ceremony and one minute closer to marital doom. She'd explained her fears to several people and everyone had told her that she was getting cold feet and that was perfectly normal.
Harry had assured her that once she was standing at the altar, all those feelings would dissipate and she'd come to the realization that it was exactly what she wanted. He told her he had felt that way when he had married Ginny the spring before. Hermione tried to explain that it was more than that; something was seriously wrong. He'd asked her if she loved Ron and she had applied in the affirmative. He had told her that love was life's most important lesson and mattered more than anything else. As long as love was present, happiness would be also. Though he'd meant well, his words had done nothing to reassure her. How could a relationship survive on love alone? It seemed that the ones able to withstand the test of time had to be based on more.
Ginny had overheard their conversation and had offered her own advice. She took it upon herself to go backwards in time in an attempt to show Hermione how much Ron meant to her and vice versa. The memories were good and somewhat rewarding but perusing them with the intent of finding a reason why she should marry him had proved disastrous. They were not the same people that they had been four or five years ago. So much had changed and in some ways, they had grown apart.
Molly was no help at all, having heard Hermione's doubts from Ginny and had reassured her at every opportunity that their marriage would be a happy one. She gushed on and on about how much Ron loved and adored her and how everyone had always known the two would end up together. Hermione tried to distance herself from Molly's insistent meddling but she began to feel too guilty to manage it completely. However annoying Molly might be, her intentions were good. Somewhat henpecked, Hermione had allowed Molly to plan the wedding, if only to get away from her commentary. This had only led to more unhappiness and doubt.
Molly finally finished with whatever it was that she was doing and took a step back to admire Hermione. She grinned up at her future daughter in law with pride and adoration. Ron was getting a fine one, he was.
"Molly! We need you in the kitchen! The oven is smoking!" Arthur called out frantically.
"Come on Ginny, let's give the bride a few moments to herself." Molly bustled from the room and Ginny followed behind. The door shut with a click and Hermione took in her reflection. She removed the glamours and stared back at someone who was a stranger. This was not her, not by a long shot. She stepped down from the stool onto the ground and kicked off the high heels that she'd been standing in for the last two hours. Her feet ached. She rubbed them and winced as they throbbed painfully. She picked up one of the offending shoes and chucked it at the door. The thud it made was somewhat comforting.
A second later the door opened and Remus stuck his head around the corner. He'd been walking down the hall toward the kitchen; it had smelled like fire, when the thump had intercepted him.
"Everything all right? I heard a noise in here."
"Nothing is right," Hermione whispered.
No one else would have been able to hear her but his hearing was impeccable, having wolfish senses.
His concern was evident. "What do you mean?"
Hermione stood up and tried to smile but her smile was betrayed by the tear tracks that had been drawn through her makeup.
Remus looked behind him and making sure no one saw him, he entered the room and closed the door behind him. It was not proper protocol for an unmarried male to be unescorted in the bridal chamber. Hermione looked like a princess in her dress; she was stunning, even though she was crying openly.
"Oh Remus. Everything is so bloody wrong. I hate this dress, these stupid shoes, this hairstyle. Everything about this day isn't right."
"You aren't the only bride in the world who has felt that way Hermione," he began gently, "and I'm sure you won't be the last. Are all of those things really the problem, or is it something else?"
Somehow, Remus always made her think through her emotions. He was very good when it came to that sort of thing. "I don't know," she whimpered.
"Come now, what kind of an answer is that? Surely you know why you're upset," he prodded gently.
"I don't think this is supposed to happen," she explained weakly.
"What? Getting married? I know you're the independent type. That's nothing to be ashamed of. I was rather under the impression that you and Ron were happy."
"I am happy when I'm with him but there is so much that I can't share with him. We have nothing in common Remus, besides Harry."
Remus considered her thoughtfully. "Have you spoken to him about the way you're feeling? Perhaps you could clear the air now, before the ceremony?"
"Ron isn't even here," she laughed in a tone that wasn't her own, "Molly wanted to ensure that he didn't see me in my dress. Bunch of bollocks that is!"
"It is traditional…" he began.
"Bugger tradition! I am so sick and fucking tired of it! Do I seem the traditional type Remus? Do I?" She was getting hysterical but didn't know how to calm down.
"Yes and no." His response was honest, even if it didn't help her feel better at the moment.
"How am I going to do this?" She asked suddenly after a tense moment of silence.
"You're going to do what is right in your heart Hermione. I know it seems scary to make such a big commitment, but sometimes we have to face our fears to find our inner strength. I'm not saying to not examine what your fear is telling you, but I am saying that you should consider everything carefully; the good and the bad. Just remember, all of your friends are here and we've all come to support you today. We love you and we'll help you through this, ok?"
Hermione began to sob and Remus crossed the room and held her in support. He patted her back and rubbed soothing circles into her soft skin. Hermione pulled back and looked at Remus gratefully.
"Thank you. You always know what to say to make me feel better." She gave him a watery grin.
"That a girl." He looked down at her affectionately. He wondered if he'd ever seen her look so beautiful, so fragile. Ron was a lucky wizard. Remus pulled a well used but clean handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her. She took it gratefully and dabbed at the corners of her eyes.
"Hermione! We're starting in ten minutes dear!" Molly called to her.
"I suppose I should get to my seat. I'll see you out there, right?" He lifted her chin and she gave a slight nod. He gave her a sweet and somewhat sad smile and left her to her thoughts.
Hermione stared at the door with a sudden sense of loss. Forcing herself to take in deep breaths of air, Hermione walked around the room, fidgeting with her dress and she put her shoes back on despite the admirable protest her feet were giving her. She fixed her makeup and re-applied her glamours. She looked every inch the confident bride.
Molly opened the door. "It's time."
Hermione nodded and with one last look at herself in the mirror, followed Molly outside.
The music swelled at her entrance and Arthur stood at the end of the aisle, his arm out. He was escorting her down the aisle since her father had died the year before. Hermione took in the rows and rows of guests who were standing and looking at her in awe. She tentatively placed her arm on Arthur's and they began the stately walk down the aisle. Ron stood at the altar grinning and shifting from foot to foot. Harry stood next to him, smiling proudly.
Hermione felt sick.
After what seemed an eternity, Arthur placed Hermione's hand in Ron's and together they faced the Minister. In honor of Hermione's muggle background, they were to recite traditional wedding vows and then they would perform the binding ceremony.
Hermione watched the Minister's mouth moving but could barely make out what he was saying. He was prompting Ron and Ron was repeating the words clumsily. The Minister looked at Hermione and her mouth responded appropriately, even though she was on auto-pilot. As though she'd been swimming underwater and had suddenly broken through the surface she heard with painful clarity:
"Do you Ronald Weasley, take Hermione Granger as your wedded wife?"
"And do you, Hermione Granger, take Ronald Weasley to be your wedded husband?"
Hermione stared at the Minister and turned to look at Ron. This couldn't be happening. Her head was screaming at her and she was warring within herself. This was the road that she'd set herself upon. This was the way that it was supposed to end. Ron was meant to be her husband.
"Hermione?" Ron prompted, his face red with embarrassment.
Tears formed in her eyes and Ron searched her terror stricken face. The crowd that was watching with bated breath began to whisper.
The Minister coughed and repeated his prompt. "Do you, Hermione Granger, take Ronald Weasley, to be your wedded husband?"
A shocked silence settled over everyone and Hermione took one last look at Ron's horrified expression. "I'm so sorry."
Not knowing what else to do, Hermione turned from the altar and ran down the aisle, away from the ceremony, her intended, and all her friends. She ran past the garden gate and into the hills beyond, her heart feeling as though it would burst. When she had reached past the wards she apparated away to the only place she could think of at the moment.