Epilogue: Four years later
We had chosen the day carefully. We wanted Fred to be there with us, too, at least in spirit, so we deliberately set the date for the anniversary of the Battle at Hogwarts. Harry wanted to do it at Hogwarts itself, wanted to be in that place that he thought of as 'home,' but as it was during term time I talked him out of it. I really didn't want students gawking at us while we did it. Instead, I reminded him that at least if we had it at the Burrow, we wouldn't have as much room so it couldn't be as big a circus as it would be if we had the whole of Hogwarts grounds to fit people in. Still media-shy, this appealed to him immediately, so I got my way and had the wedding in my childhood home.
Mum had banished Harry for the night, saying he wasn't allowed to se me on the day of the wedding since it was bad luck, and so he couldn't possibly wake up there. I rolled my eyes, but gave in. It was less trouble to let her do the whole 'old witch's tale' thing. Besides, even four years later, this day was a hard one for her. The night before, then, I gave Harry a hasty kiss before he apparated out to spend the night at the flat he shared with Ron, rather than staying in this place he thought of as his second home, and I was dragged back into the house for all the last minute preparation.
I was pleasantly surprised when those 'preparations' turned out to be cakes and drinks with Mum, Fleur, Andromeda, Hermione and Luna, no boys allowed.
Luna had been recently married herself, and she had us all in stitches with stories of her wedding.
'… then the Romanian Red-backed Hightailers swooped in, singing their songs of peace and love, and we all followed them outside to dabble our feet in the sand, for purification'
'But, Luna … didn't you get married in winter? Wasn't that cold?' Mum had already had a few firewhiskeys, and was asking the questions she had been dying to know since the ceremony had taken place.
'Oh, no!' Luna seemed shocked. 'The solspers were racing through the sand keeping everyone warm. They're very attuned to magical days, and of course we got married on the coldest day of winter. It's especially lucky.'
I could see Hermione struggling not to respond, but in the end she just smiled at me, raised her eyebrows and her glass, and turned the conversation.
I sat there with these women who had all been so much a part of my life for the past several years, and I inexplicably felt sad. We were at the end of something now. I knew it was a starting over, a building of a new life for me and Harry, but this was the last time I could call this place home. I looked over at Mum and saw the same knowledge in her eyes, and a small sad smile on her face.
I made my way over to where she was sitting, and cuddled onto her knee like I had when I was a little girl. She put her arms around me and I whispered, 'Don't worry, Mum. Just remember, now I won't be sitting here doing this and moaning about how Harry doesn't even know I exist.'
'Good thing too,' she said. 'You're getting a bit heavy.' She chuckled when I tried to pull back and kept her arms around me. We stayed that way, watching the others horsing around, for several minutes. Finally, I pulled back and looked at her and she smiled at me, pushing my hair back off my face the way she always used to.
'It's the right thing, love. I've known for years. You went through so much for each other, I'm surprised it took this long.'
'It didn't really take this long, Mum. This is just a formality; we've been 'us' since forever, and we saw no need to rush.'
The next morning dawned bright and clear. I woke and slid out of my room and padded up to the one that Fred had shared with George. George lived at the shop now, so it was a good place to go to have a yarn with Fred. I missed him with an acute ache that was even more intense because he wouldn't be here on this day. The least I could do was include him in the celebrations. I sat down on his bed and began to talk, feeling like a bit of a fool.
'Fred. Where to start? You remember how you used to tell me that only insane people get married? Well, I guess I must be insane.' I chuckled. I could hear Fred's voice teasing me, saying that if Harry ever did marry me it would be out of pity. 'I guess he's insane, too, huh?' I drew my knees up to my chest and hugged them. 'I wish you could be here Fred. It doesn't seem right, doing this without you. Of all my brothers, you were one of the worst for trying to protect my innocence, so I'd dearly love to see the look on your face as I did this.'
I grinned to myself, imagining what tricks Fred might have thought up for Harry. I'd heard him bemoaning the fact that at Bill's wedding he couldn't do anything to Fleur, because Bill had no sense of humour when it came to her, and was big enough to mash Fred to a pulp.
'I wonder what George has in store for us. He's been awfully secretive lately and I get the feeling he's going to make this a big one in your honour. Anyway, time's a-wasting and I'd better go down before Mum blows a gasket. You know what she's like. Take care, Fred, wherever you are.'
I blew a kiss to the room at large and left to go down to Mum. She was starting to get weepy, so I planted a kiss on her cheek, and said cheerfully, 'What's for brekkie, Mum? I'm starved!'
She stared at me incredulously, and said, 'You're hungry? On my wedding day I couldn't eat a bite until we'd been through the ceremony. I was that set about by nerves.'
'Why would I be nervous, Mum? I told you – this is a formality, an excuse to get dressed up in pretty robes and get the family together. What's to be nervous about in that?'
She came over and hugged me. 'I should have known you'd be like this. You've always been so strong in your opinions, Ginny. It's quite scary how relentlessly you go after what you want. It's a good thing Harry's the same or you'd walk all over him. Now, what do you want for breakfast then?'
Dad came in from his last minute once-over of the marquee outside, and also stared incredulously at me as I tucked into a huge plate of bacon and eggs. Unlike Mum, though, he just kissed the top of my head and wished me a happy day. I squeezed his arm with one hand and smiled at him.
Mum interrupted us right then, by saying, 'goodness, look at the time. Ginny, you have to get upstairs. Everyone will be arriving soon and you're nowhere near ready.'
She snatched me away from one last bite of bacon and I felt a lot like I had all those years ago when she'd pulled me down Diagon Alley almost as fast as flying. In no time at all, it seemed, I was being fussed over upstairs. I whined and complained and kept up my side of the affair, but to tell you the truth it was kind of nice having Mum brush my hair like the old days. After a while I forgot to complain, and we started up a litany of 'do you remember …'
'Do you remember the day you met Harry for the first time?'
'Do you remember the way I fell over and refused to cry because George told me crying was wussy?'
'Do you remember how you refused to wear girly clothes because you wanted to be a boy?'
'Do you remember the way you taught me how to be a girl while surrounded by boys?'
We were just sharing a chuckle over that one, remembering my foot-scuffing, lowered lashed attacks on the boys' patience in the early days of my Harry obsession, when Hermione tapped on the door and came in. She was dressed in soft green robes that fluttered prettily around her knees, and her hair was tamed again into a stylish knot on top of her head.
Hermione rushed over and hugged me, and I succumbed to giggles and hugged her back. Mum looked on happily.
'Giddy giggles! Now you're getting into the spirit, my girl.'
An hour later, and Mum's fussing had caused a few nerves to set in. Seeing me in my robes, she pressed a handkerchief to her eyes and slipped out of the room. Hermione was in the bathroom fixing her own hair, which had started to escape from its sleek style, and I was suddenly alone again. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought back on all it had taken to get me to this point.
There had been joys, of course, but so much of my life with Harry had been tinged with heartbreak, and the echoes of that day 4 years ago still haunted me. I knew that life would never be all flowers and rainbows for us; too much water had passed under the bridge for us to ever have that 'normal' lifestyle. But, standing there I realised I didn't want that life anyway. All I wanted was a life with Harry; whatever it may bring, whatever demons we still had to battle. So long as we were together, we could get past any of those things. I'd known that 4 years ago as we slept on a couch, and I knew it with even greater certainty now.
I remembered my Miss Dramatic days, and snorted. Poor Miss Dramatic would have had a field day with all the angst and worry of the last few years. Thankfully, I had grown up and hadn't had the desire to clasp my hand to my brow for quite some time. That's not to say I didn't get dramatic at times, of course, but I had started living in reality; a reality that finally included Harry. I smiled at myself in the mirror, nerves once again at bay.
Dad knocked on the door and came in. He smiled as he looked at me, and said, 'It's time to go, love. You look beautiful.'
Hermione came bustling in, in a bit of a flap because her hair was refusing to co-operate. Dad calmed her down, and did a quick fixing spell on her hair, saying to me as an aside, 'the amount of times I've had to do this for your mother …'
I took a deep breath, smoothed the skirt of my robes down, and we turned to leave the room. I was still a little nervous as Dad and I followed Hermione down the stairs and out the back door. As soon as I saw Harry waiting at the front of the marquee, however, I forgot it all. He was the only thing I could focus on, and seeing him, with his proud eyes and a smile playing about his lips, I knew again that whatever came we could get through it together.
As I reached Harry, Dad gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, then we were alone, or it felt like we were. There were hundreds of people here – no-one could resist the lure of the wedding of Harry Potter – but it felt like there were just the two of us. The small wizard who was conducting the ceremony cleared his throat and we were recalled back to our surroundings. I forced myself to stop looking at Harry and listen to what the wizard was saying.
It was all pretty standard stuff, and by halfway through I realised that all of these things – the love, the commitment, the sticking together through thick and thin – we had done all those, and more, and come out the other side. As I had told Mum over and over, this really was just formalising something that we had begun long ago. Reassured, I relaxed into the moment, turning once more to look into Harry's eyes.
A thought tickled the back of my mind, and I tried to push it away, but it kept coming back. George had still done nothing to Harry. Here we were, saying our vows, almost married, and nothing had happened. I was suspicious, very suspicious. However, when the old wizard came to the end of his speech and pronounced us married, and I reached up to kiss Harry as thoroughly as Mum's nerves would permit, I forgot for a moment. Of course, that was right when George struck. He always had perfect timing.
Around us we heard gasps, and people began pointing upwards. I looked in the direction they were pointing and my jaw dropped. Fifty feet in the air fireworks were going off, but not any fireworks. These were shaped like Harry and I. Around the two of us were insubstantial figures, just enough to give the impression of a crowd. I took in the Gryffindor quidditch robes the huge me was wearing, and the school uniform the giant Harry had on, and my heart gave a lurch.
'Is that … the day we got together?' Harry whispered urgently to me, a blush staining his cheeks
'Yes, I think so,' I said.
I watched as the huge me raced across the sky towards the huge Harry, and while I wanted to curse George (who wants to see themselves that big?), I admit it was kind of sweet. The huge me almost tackled Harry as she leapt on him and began kissing him passionately. He was almost knocked off his feet and the look on his face was comical as he flung his arms around her for balance. Beside me, the real Harry was squirming in embarrassment.
I leaned back and said, 'Psssst, George! It wasn't like that!'
He just grinned at me, and said, 'Artistic license, little sis. That's how it should have been.'
'I'll get you later!' I warned him.
He put on an innocent expression. 'I wasn't there, so I had to go by hearsay. Anyway, this is how Fred wanted it. We'd been planning this since the day we heard about that,' he waved his hand towards the fireworks above.
I gave him a half-exasperated, half-laughing glare, and turned away. Fred. Once again, I wished he was there, but George was right. He was with us in spirit, and always would be, especially if there was fun to be had.
As the fireworks people began to fade away, I turned to Harry and kissed him again. This time, most of those around us were still watching the sky, so we were in our own little world. No-one and nothing else mattered, and we drew strength from each other. George was wrong, I reflected. That kiss wasn't how it should have been; this one was. Always and forever.