A/N: So this is the last chapter. I hope everyone likes how I have finished up the story. I apologize for the length—it's the longest chapter yet!
Chapter 46: Otherwise Engaged
It was happening again. She was standing at the altar in a beautiful white dress. There were flowers everywhere and candles lit. Everything seemed in place but when Hermione turned around instead of a church filled with family and friends, there was nothing but empty pews. And no Ron.
She sat up in bed with a start, wiping some of the sweat from her brow. She looked out the bedroom window to see a full moon rising above the city landscape. It was a harvest moon, the color being a deep orange. The summer was moving along quickly and autumn was fast approaching. She and Ron had settled into a somewhat normal work routine after the whole incident with Hampton had come to an end. His trial was held quickly—the Ministry wanted to avoid publicizing an incident of such treason and corruption among its higher echelon.
A deep rumble caused Hermione to glance down at the sleeping form next to her. When she went to bed, she had been alone. Ron had sent an owl earlier saying he had the opportunity to work some overtime and was going to be coming home late. Hermione hadn't even heard him slip into the bed. She smiled as he snored again and turned over onto his stomach. He must be exhausted she thought. Trying her best not to disturb him, Hermione got out of the bed and headed to the kitchen. She knew that sleep would elude her and hoped a hot cup of herbal tea would do the trick.
The kitchen was cool and dark and Hermione regretted not slipping her feet into her slippers before she left her bedroom. Using her wand, she heated up water in the kettle and was soon settled in the overstuffed chair, her hands wrapped around the warm mug. The moonlight gave off just enough light to showcase all of the bridal magazines lying on the coffee table. Three months had gone by since Hermione had said yes to Ron and yet not one thing had been planned. Hermione sighed.
Hermione turned to see Ron standing in the doorway of the bedroom, his eyes droopy. "Nothing," she replied. "I just couldn't sleep."
"Liar," he replied as he plopped down onto the couch.
Hermione sighed again. "I had a nightmare."
Ron sat up straighter on the couch. "What do you mean?"
Hermione reached over and grabbed his hand. "Not one of those nightmares," she said. It had been a long time since she had dreamt about the events of Malfoy Manor.
Ron visibly relaxed and sat back against the couch, squeezing her hand. "Oh," he said. His eyes were drawn to the coffee table and Hermione watched as he took in all of the magazines. "Is everything alright Hermione?"
She knew he was talking about the engagement and truth be told, everything was not alright. It wasn't the engagement itself. Hermione knew that she and Ron were taking the right step and it was a step she wanted to take. The problem was simpler but much more complicated.
Hermione sighed again and said, "No, everything is not alright."
Ron sat up again, dropping her hand and clasping his own in front of him. He looked up at her, apprehension in his eyes as he said, "It's the engagement, isn't it? You're having doubts."
"No, no," Hermione said, jumping up and sitting down next to him on the couch. "I mean, yes it is the engagement but no, I'm not having any doubts. I can't wait to be Mrs. Ronald Weasley."
Ron sighed with relief. "Good. I thought that maybe that spell I cast on you had finally worn off."
Hermione laughed. "No, I'd say that spell is still pretty strong."
Ron laughed in return and pulled her back until she was snuggled against his side, her feet curled up underneath her. "Then what is it Hermione? What's going on in that pretty head of yours that's making you have nightmares?"
"It's just that I'm so nervous about planning this wedding. It's not going to be easy. There's so much we have to take into consideration as far as getting your relatives together with mine. It won't be like Ginny and Harry's wedding or any wedding that we've attended for that matter."
"Do you mean because your family are Muggles?" Ron asked.
Hermione rolled her eyes and said, "No, I mean because they root for Puddlemere United." She poked him in the ribs saying, "Of course I mean because they are Muggles!"
Ron gasped for breath replying, "Oi! Listen, I know things have been crazy with work for both of us but they seem to be calming down. You don't have to do this alone. We both have the day off tomorrow. Let's go look at some of the places you're considering for the reception."
Hermione sat up and looked down at him skeptically. "You mean it? You'll really come with me? I have a list of places that your mum made and one that my mum made. It could take all day."
Ron smiled. "No problem but it's going to cost you."
Hermione arched one of her eyebrows up at him. "Oh really? What exactly is it going to cost me?"
"It might cost you some sleep right now," he replied. He sat up so he was even with her, moving her curls off of her neck and kissing her. Hermione sighed with pleasure as he moved his lips up towards her ear, kissing the tender spot behind it. "And possibly some more time tomorrow morning," Ron said.
Before she could reply, Ron's lips had moved to her mouth, effectively cutting off anything she might say. Instead, Hermione shifted so she was straddling Ron. She smiled as she heard him groan. "What were you saying about tomorrow costing me?," Hermione asked as she slipped her hands below the waistband of his boxer shorts.
Ron grabbed her bottom, pulling her firmly against him before standing up and making his way back into their bedroom. He dropped her as gently as possible on the bed before lying on top of her, grabbing her hands in his.
"I'll show you right now what it's going to cost you," was his reply before he made good on his promise.
"So how did it go today?" asked Ginny.
Ron groaned as he slid into the booth next to Harry.
"That good, huh?" Harry said smiling. He held up two fingers to the waitress who rushed over bringing two more pints for the table.
Hermione scowled as she sat down next to Ginny. "Really Ron, I think you're exaggerating. It wasn't that bad and besides, I gave you warning."
Ron took one of the pints and took a long sip out of it, licking his lips in appreciation. "That's good," he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Alright, it wasn't that bad but it sure was boring."
Ginny reached across the table and hit Ron on the head. "Ouch," he exclaimed. "What was that for!"
Hermione sighed. "He's right—it was torture and we are no closer to finding a place to get married then we were when we left our flat this morning."
Ginny looked at both of them incredulously saying, "What do you mean? You had at least eight places to go see today!"
"Well, the Muggle places weren't Wizard friendly and the Wizard places weren't Muggle friendly," replied Ron while Hermione nodded and took a sip from her pint glass.
"He's right," she said. "There were one or two places we really liked but—-"
"There should be no 'buts'," exclaimed Ginny. "This is your wedding day! It's about you and Ron!"
"No Ginny," said Ron firmly, "it's not. It's about our families as well. Hermione and I just wouldn't feel right if either of our families was uncomfortable that day."
Harry, who had remained quiet up to this point, said, "He's right Gin. Our wedding was different; it was mostly just your family and our friends." He held up his hand as she tried to interrupt him. "No, no. I'm fine with that. It's just that Hermione and Ron's day is going to be different—it will be the joining of two families—one Magical and one Muggle. It's not just about them."
Ginny smiled and leaned in to kiss Harry on the lips and then turned to look at Hermione and Ron. "So, what can we do to help?"
Ron shrugged. "I don't think there's anything you can do. We'll just have to keep looking."
"In the meantime," said Hermione, "we have to prepare our selves for the party my parents are planning."
Harry smiled, "Oh yeah. The official 'Grangers meet the Weasley's' get-together." He looked at the serious looks on Ron and Hermione's faces. "But that shouldn't be a problem. Your parents are like best friends."
"It's not our parents I'm concerned about," said Hermione. "It's the rest of my family."
Ginny and Harry looked at one another and felt immediately guilty. It was sometimes easy to forget that Hermione had a 'family' because she was part of the their world, not the Muggle one. During their years at Hogwarts, she had become such a fixture at the Burrow that it never occurred to them that there might be other people she could go visit or stay with but that she had made the decision to be with them instead.
"Anyone you're concerned with in particular?" asked Harry.
"My Granny," replied Hermione, leaning back in the booth and closing her eyes.
"But I thought you got along wonderfully with your grandmother?" asked Ginny.
Hermione sat forward. "This is my granny, my Dad's mum. I'm afraid no one get's along wonderfully with Granny."
Harry laughed and said, "C'mon Hermione. She can't be all that bad?"
"Oh, she can be. Do you remember Ron and Ginny's Aunt Muriel? Imagine her but meaner."
Harry blanched visibly and Ron groaned again. "Where is this party going to be again?"
"At my parents house, in the garden," replied Hermione. "My mum thought it would be nice to have it outside before the weather turns."
"Well that sounds lovely," said Ginny. "And really, how bad can your granny be?"
Famous last words, thought Harry.
"Hermione! It's almost time darling!"
"Be right down mum!" shouted Hermione. She sighed and smoothed down her hair giving herself a once-over in the mirror of her old bedroom. She had spent hours agonizing over her appearance, something she never did.
"You look great. I like pink on you—you should wear it more often."
Hermione spun around to see Ron standing in the doorway. He was wearing khaki trousers and a blue button down. She watched as he walked into the room and sat down on the bed. "When did you sneak in?"
Ron smiled. "A couple of minutes ago. I wanted to see you before things got crazy."
"Too late for that," grimaced Hermione. "I think my mum is just as nervous as I am. Granny has never been her greatest fan."
Ron's eyebrows shot up. "Merlins beard why not? Your mum is fantastic!"
"Because she took away my father," was Hermione's simple reply. "No one is good enough for 'my precious Richard.'
Ron laughed. "I can't imagine my mum acting like that over me or any of us for that matter."
Hermione plopped down on the bed next to him saying, "That's because your mum is normal!"
"Normal? Do you realized you just called a Weasley normal?"
Hermione laughed. "Normal by wizard standards." She stopped laughing suddenly and sat up straighter. "Ron! How are your parents getting here? It will look strange if they don't arrive in a car!"
"Relax Hermione," he replied. "I have one of the Ministry cars parked around the corner. I'm going to meet them near it and drive up to your parents house."
Hermione nodded, looking relieved. "Right. I had almost forgot."
Ron got up and walked to the door and then snapped his fingers, turning around. "I almost forgot to tell you. Bill and Fleur will be here today with the kids. They didn't think they would be able to make it at first but, well, now they can." Before Hermione could reply he finished, "Don't worry, I told your mum already."
Hermione stood as well and walked out of the room with Ron. They headed down the backstairs that led to the kitchen. There was a flurry of activity taking place. The Granger's had decided to cater the party as well as hire waitstaff. The servers were loading up trays, heating food, and beginning to pour drinks. Hermione followed Ron out to the garden where they effectively dodged her mother who was fluttering around the tables that had been set up.
As they neared the gate at the end of the yard, Ron pulled Hermione in close to him and kissed her gently. "It's too late to worry anymore. Just a few hours and then we'll be back in our flat, relaxing on the couch, joking about how smoothly it all went."
Hermione buried her faced in Ron's shirt and then looked up at him. "I hope you're right."
Ron kissed her again and said, "Of course I am. Now let me go and get my parents. Be back in a bit."
Hermione watched as he let himself out the back gate and then, taking a deep breath, turned around and marched back towards the front of the house to join her parents in greeting their guests.
Only a few family members had arrived before Isobel Granger made her way up the front steps with the help of her cane and one of her children, Mr. Granger's sister Mary.
"Really Richard, of all the beautiful houses to buy on this block you have to choose the one with all the stairs," said Isobel. "It's almost as if you don't want me to visit."
Mr. Granger gritted his teeth and smiled, "Oh you know that's not true Mother. Here, give me your other arm so I can help you through the door."
Hermione felt her mother grip her arm beside her. "Hello Mother! How wonderful you look in that hat!"
Isobel scowled at Elizabeth but turned her attention towards Hermione. "What ever were you thinking wearing that dress Hermione? Pink? Really darling are you getting married or attending a children's birthday party?"
Hermione was prevented by saying anything by the sound of screeching tires. She turned to see what could only be a Ministry car pulling up to the curb in front of her house. On first appearance the car seemed normal but as it drew to a stop it became obvious that is was anything but. It was an old model Mercedes but it had been updated with more recent parts that didn't quite match the shade of the original.
"Good God," exclaimed Isobel. "Who in the world is that?"
Hermione could feel the color rise in her cheeks as Ron and his family got out of the car and made their way towards the house. "That's Ron, my fiancé," said Hermione.
"My word, a ginger," said Isobel. "Your children will stand no chance. They'll have your unmanageable hair with his color." She shook her head. "Look at all of them! How big is this family darling?" She lowered her voice so only Hermione and her parents could hear and whispered, "They're not Catholic, are they?"
Ron finally reached Hermione, shaking her father's hand and kissing her mum before turning to her grandmother. "And you must be Granny Granger," he said.
Isobel looked down her nose at Ron and said, "And how would you know that?"
Ron smiled at her and said, "Because Hermione said you would be the loveliest woman here! Would you allow me to escort you inside?"
And then Hermione heard a sound she had never heard before in her life—her Granny giggle. She watched open-mouthed as Ron led the old woman into the house but not before turning around and winking at Hermione. Before she could recover, Hermione felt a hand at her elbow and looked to see Molly Weasley standing before her.
"Everything alright dear?"
Hermione smiled brightly at her future mother-in-law and replied, "Never better."
Hermione took a deep breath and snagged a glass of wine off the tray of a passing server. All of the guests had arrived and the party was in full swing. Everything was going perfectly. The food was delicious, their families were getting along splendidly, her granny was on her best behavior and actually seemed to like Ron and his family. It was perfect. Too perfect.
"I have to tell your mum how delicious these are! Things are going well?" asked Ginny as she munched on a canapé.
Hermione smiled at her. "It seems to be, yes. I'm actually surprised!"
Ginny laughed. "Me too after what you told Harry and I the other night. Part of me was actually looking forward to seeing your granny in action!"
Hermione's brow furrowed. "That's what has me puzzled. She's acting so unlike herself, so—nice." She watched as her granny patted Victoire on the head before turning to continue her chat with Fleur and Bill. Maybe she had mellowed somewhat in her old age, Hermione thought.
"Where did Ron disappear to?" asked Ginny. "I haven't seen Harry too come to think of it."
Hermione scanned the faces around her but didn't see them either. "C'mon, lets take a walk around and see if we can find them."
The two girls circulated in the backyward, stopping occasionally to talk to one of their relatives. They had done one lap around the perimeter of the yard but to no avail—Ron and Harry were nowhere to be found.
"They must be hiding out inside," said Hermione. She was about to turn around to go into the house when something caught her eye. In the far corner of the yard were a few lemon trees her mother had planted some years ago that had unfortunately never yielded any fruit. Upon first glance, nothing looked amiss but as Hermione looked closer she could see two pairs of feet standing behind one of the trees, feet that seemed to be detached from their bodies.
Hermione poked Ginny and pointed towards the trees. "Over there. By the trees. Do you see what I see?"
Ginny looked and then nodded. "That bugger. Last night Ron stopped over on his way home from work and the two of them were in deep conversation when I got home."
"I think I know what they were talking about," replied Hermione. She walked over to the trees, Ginny close behind her. When they were far enough away so that no one from the party could overhear them, she said, "We know that you two are under there and you're up to no good! You have approximately one minute to meet us in the living room. Time starts now!"
By the time Ginny and Hermione made their way back through the party and into the house both Ron and Harry were sitting on the couch in the living room. They stood quickly as the girls entered the room.
"What in Merlin's beard is going on Ron!" Hermione whispered. "My granny is outside kissing babies and shaking hands like an American politician! She actually looks like she is enjoying herself and I know that just can't be the case!"
Ginny stood with her arms crossed over her chest, foot tapping impatiently. "I can't believe you would agree to this Harry!"
"What!" exclaimed Harry. "You don't know that we were doing anything wrong! Maybe we were just trying to get away from everybody!"
"That's pathetic," scowled Hermione. "Let's go. Out with it!"
Ron, who had remained silent up to this point, sighed and sat back down on the couch. "It's just that you've been so stressed over this day, especially about your granny. I was so worried that she wouldn't like me or that my family would act strange and ruin everything."
"And?" asked Hermione expectantly.
Ron looked up at her and said sheepishly, "And Harry and I devised a plan—" Ron stopped and looked at Harry who was clearing his throat rather loudly. "I mean I devised a plan to use the Cheering Charm on her. I was only supposed to use it when we arrived but it started to wear off quickly. It usually should last for a few hours but…"
"But what?" asked Ginny.
Ron turned red and replied, "But Hermione's granny must be a real, a real, a real…."
"I think what Ron is trying to say," interrupted Harry, shooting Ron a pointed look, "is that Hermione's granny required the force of two wands performing the spell otherwise it wouldn't take full effect. Ron had asked me to bring my cloak just in case. When you caught us we were just reviving the charm."
Hermione shook her head several times. She knew it. There was no way her granny would be acting this cooperative on her own. "You know Ron, just when I think you've reached a new level of maturity, just when I think you might finally be growing up, you go and do something like this."
Ginny was shaking her head as well. "I expect something like this from Ron but really Harry, I expect better from you!" Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she headed out of the house and back to the party.
Harry sighed and stood. "I'm sorry Hermione. I really thought I was acting in everyone's best interest here." He touched her gently on the shoulder before taking off in the direction that Ginny had gone in.
"You could get in real trouble for this with work too," said Hermione. "Both you and Harry."
Ron ran his hand through his hair and said, "I know, I know but I thought the risk was worth it! You've been so stressed about this party and the wedding. I thought that if things went smoothly today, well, then everything else would just fall into place!"
Hermione sighed and walked around the room and stood by the window, looking out at the street in front of the house. "It's just that I had such hopes for Granny liking you," said Hermione quietly. "I thought that maybe she would be different with you. Maybe it was silly to think but I did."
Ron stood and started to walk over to Hermione when her mum walked into the room. "There you two are! Don't you even think about trying to make an escape! Everyone is asking for you!"
Hermione pasted a smile on her face and said, "Don't worry Mum; we just need a break for a few minutes. We're coming, right Ron?"
Ron nodded. "Right." He watched as Hermione followed her mum out of the room and sighed. It was going to be a long afternoon.
"Everything all right Ron?"
Ron dropped onto a stool and looked at Neville. "That's a loaded question Neville."
Neville raised his eyebrows but didn't say anything. Instead, he slid a shot of Firewhiskey across the bar. He watched as Ron downed it and then poured him another one. Neville waved him off as Ron started to dig into his pocket to pay him.
"Nah, don't even think about it Weasley," said Neville. "There's got to be some perks to helping your girlfriend out by tending bar a few nights a week!"
Ron laughed. "I guess."
"Want to talk about it?" asked Neville as he wiped down a few glasses. It was Saturday but it was still a little early and the usual crowd hadn't begun to filter in yet.
"Nothing to talk about mate," said Ron. "Just the usual story of me doing something stupid and getting Hermione angry."
Neville looked up from Ron and over at the door. "Well, she can't be too angry if she's come here looking for you." Neville gave Hermione a wave and then moved a discreet distance down the bar as she sat down next to Ron.
"I thought I'd find you here," she said.
Ron ran his finger around the rim of the empty shot glass in front of him. "Was anybody looking for me?"
"Just me," said Hermione. "Most of our family and friends have left."
Ron nodded. "Still mad?"
Hermione sighed. "Not mad, just disappointed. But I think I understand why you did what you did."
Ron didn't say anything. "Don't be mad at Harry; it really was my idea. I had to do a lot of convincing to get him to go along with it."
"I'm not mad at him," she replied. "I'll leave that up to Ginny."
Ron gave her a half-smile. "I probably owe him an apology if he's going to have to face my sister."
Hermione returned his smile and said, "I'm sure he's had to do it before."
Ron felt relief flood him at Hermione's smile. He reached over and grabbed her hand. "There's the smile I fell in love with. I'm sorry, I really am. Not one of my brightest moments."
"No but, I'll be honest with you, I don't think I've ever heard Granny laugh as much as I did this afternoon!" said Hermione, squeezing Ron's hand.
"So, now that the party is behind us I guess we really need to get serious about finding a place to have the wedding," he said.
Hermione suppressed another sigh and replied, "We do but I just don't know what to do. Maybe we should just runaway somewhere and elope!"
"No way," Ron scoffed. "Your mum would kill both us the minute we got back and if she didn't then mine would." He paused for a moment. "And—well, forget it."
"No," said Hermione touching his arm, "what?"
"It's just that I've been looking forward to that day, our day for a long time. I think I'd be angry later on if I'd never had the chance to watch you walk down the aisle toward me wearing a white gown," he said, his eyes searching hers.
Hermione's breath caught in her throat and she blinked away tears. "Oh Ron! How do you do that? How can I be so furious with you one minute and then so madly in love with you the next!"
Ron laughed. "It's part of my charm, that's why!"
"It really shouldn't be this hard," said Hermione. "If only there was a place that was considered neutral ground where both of our families could be comfortable with each other."
"Neutral ground," Ron murmured. Suddenly a light bulb went off in his head causing him to sit up straighter on his stool.
"What?" asked Hermione. "What's wrong?"
Ron turned and looked at her. "I think I have the answer to our problem."
"Really?" asked Hermione.
Ron leaned in and kissed her lightly. "Really. Now let's go home. We've got a lot of planning to do!"
Two Months Later
"What a beautiful spot! How did they ever find it?"
Neville looked down at Hannah and smiled. "They didn't have to search too hard—Ron owns it."
Hannah's eyebrows went up. "Really? I'm surprised. From the way Ron spoke at school, it didn't seem like his family had money."
"They don't," said Neville. "Ron inherited the land from one of his uncles. He's planning on building their home here."
"How romantic," cried Hannah. "Beginning their lives together where they will be spending their lives together!"
Neville didn't reply opting to hold Hannah's hand a little tighter and take in the scenery around them. Chairs had been set up in the wide meadow that was bursting in autumnal colors. A white runner divided the chairs and led to a wooden cupola that was decorated with sunflowers and other fall foliage. Beyond the cupola was a tent that had tables and chairs as well as a dance floor set up for the reception that would follow the ceremony. It was a bright and sunny day but when Neville and Hannah had left their flat it had been chilly. But it was mysteriously, or magically, warm where they were sitting in the clearing. Neville supposed some type of charm had been placed on the meadow in order to keep everyone comfortable.
Hannah looked across the aisle to where Hermione's family was sitting. She leaned in closer to Neville and whispered, "Isn't Hermione's family curious as to why we are sitting in the middle of a field with nary a catering facility in sight?"
Neville smiled. "It was pretty easy to explain from what I heard from Ron. It's not uncommon in the Muggle world for people to have 'destination weddings' so no one said anything. It's actually a smart idea! And to think that Ron came up with it all on his own!"
Anything Hannah would've said in reply was lost in the sound of violins beginning to play and everyone turned to see Victoire walking down the aisle looking precious as she dropped daisies along the ground leading up to where the priest was standing. Following her were Luna and then Ginny, both dressed in plum colored bridesmaids dresses and carrying small bunches of wild flowers. The music changed to the familiar wedding march and everyone rose to watch as the bride made her way down the aisle.
As Hermione stepped into the aisle, any nervousness she felt about having to appear in front of so many people melted away under Ron's gaze. Even from where she was, Hermione could see the tears in his eyes and felt them form in her own as well. She smiled widely at him and then began to put one foot in front of the other, holding on to her father's arm for support.
Ron smiled back and blinked back tears. He was trying to concentrate, trying to do his best to imprint every detail of the moment into his memory. He wasn't aware of anyone else there, just Hermione walking toward him. She was beautiful, stunning, breathtaking and another hundred words that he just couldn't remember. Ron wasn't sure where she got her dress or even when she got it but it seemed like it was made just for her. It was off the shoulder and fitted down her body until it flared out slightly. Her hair was pinned up loosely with some of her curls framing her face. A veil was pinned to the back of her head and trailed behind her. There were audible "oohs" and "aahs" as she walked by their family and friends as everyone admired her.
After what seemed like an eternity, Hermione was finally standing before Ron, beaming as her father placed her hand from his into Ron's. Hermione turned towards him and kissed him on the cheek. Mr. Granger smiled and shook Ron's hand and then turned to shake hands with Mr. Weasley. Molly turned and held her hand out towards Elizabeth who squeezed it in return.
The minister began the ceremony. He was from Hermione's church and she had agreed to have him perform the ceremony mostly as a way to appease her parents. She knew her mum had always imagined a church wedding but there had been a lot of compromise on both the Granger's and Weasley's parts in order to have the day run smoothly. Part of that included Ron wearing a traditional Muggle tuxedo as opposed to dress robes. Hermione thought he actually preferred the tuxedo. It suited him well and she smiled at him, squeezing his hand once.
Although he knew he should remain quiet, Ron couldn't help but lean forward and whisper, "You're beautiful." He wished he could be more eloquent but words were failing him in the glow that was Hermione.
She didn't reply, just beamed up at him. She could scarcely concentrate on what the minister was saying but she tried to. It was already going too quickly and she wanted to savor every moment of the day. But sure enough, the minister was saying those words she had waited so long to hear: "Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Weasley!"
Much later on, when it was the two of them on the dance floor, Hermione felt like she was finally catching her breath. The day had sped by and it had been perfect. The idea to have the wedding at the property had been brilliant. They were able to accommodate the many family members they had between them and were able to use magic without being detected. It also helped subdue Hermione's Granny who was back to her usual charming self. Isobel had been mildly impressed that Ron had inherited such a substantial piece of property and it had helped to reduce her orneriness to an occasional grumble about the "oddities" of the Weasley family that her granddaughter had married into. What kind of groom has a dinner of chicken legs and potatoes, she had wondered aloud.
"Happy?" asked Ron as they moved across the dance floor.
"I don't think 'happy' is a sufficient enough word to describe my current emotional state," replied Hermione. "Ecstatic, exultant, elated—"
"So," Ron interrupted, "basically all big words beginning with the letter 'e'."
Hermione rolled her eyes which brought a smile to Ron's face. "Is this what I have to look forward to for the next fifty years?" she asked.
"No," said Ron bending closer to her and kissing her lightly on the neck, "for the next sixty years at least."
Hermione laughed. "Promise?"
"Promise," replied Ron. He pulled her closer to him, enjoying the feeling of having her in his arms for everyone to see. Their quiet moment was short-lived, however, as Ginny approached them.
"Its time!" she said. "C'mon, we have everything laid out for you next to the catering tent."
Hermione sighed and said, "I wish you would just tell us what this is all about!"
"You'll see in a few minutes," said Ginny, "now get a move on!"
Ron and Hermione followed Ginny towards the woods near the clearing. A smaller tent was setup adjacent to the larger catering one. The Muggles who had seen the catering truck had remarked how incredible it was that so much food had come from such a small truck. What they didn't know was that it was a catering company located off of Diagon Alley. The food had been delicious and in great quantity due to certain magical charms. Next to the truck were two trailers that contained both men's and women's restrooms. There was nothing magical about them, however. The Granger's had both attended a function that had utilized the vehicles and were quick to book them for the wedding after finding out where the ceremony and reception would take place.
Past the trailers a smaller tent was set up. A tent that looked extremely familiar.
"Is that what I think it is?" asked Hermione.
"Bloody hell Ginny! We lost that tent! How did you ever find it?" exclaimed Ron. Not waiting for an answer, Ron pulled Hermione along with him and pulled back the flaps to reveal a memory from the not too distant past.
"Well," said Harry, who was standing int he middle of tent, "what do you think?"
Hermione and Ron looked around dumbfounded. It was an exact replica of "the" tent but with dramatic improvements. For one, it didn't smell. Everything in the tent was new and updated. Lying on two overstuffed chairs were two garment bags. Hermione walked over and picked the one up that had her name.
"It's amazing," said Hermione. "But what is this all about?"
"Its part of my wedding present to you," said Harry. "I think I knew that the two of you would wind up together before you even did. When we were together in that tent it became even more apparent. That time was difficult for all of us but, in a strange way, also special. I wanted you to have it." Harry paused and then smiled. "Who knows? Maybe there'll be future campouts with the Potters and Weasley's in here!"
Ginny walked over to where Harry was standing and grabbed his hand. "Now, the second part of your present awaits. Take those garment bags and go change—Hermione, you first. I'll come help you get out of your dress."
Ron and Harry watched as the girls disappeared into the bathroom. Ron took the opportunity to give the tent a closer examination when something on an end table caught his eye. He walked over and picked up a radio, a Muggle contraption that had been so familiar to him.
Harry came to stand beside him. "It's not the same one but its pretty close. Your dad helped me find it. It works a lot better than the original."
Ron shook his head in amazement. "I don't know what to say. It's amazing."
"No," said Harry. "You and Hermione are amazing. I know that the tent didn't exactly represent happy times but I know the time spent here was meaningful for you and Hermione. I used to shake my head thinking about how two people so perfect for each other could be so clueless but then I would walk into the tent after my watch and I could feel the chemistry between you. It sometimes made it difficult to be around both of you."
Ron was quiet. "Those times were hard but we've come a long way since then, haven't we?"
"We have," said Harry. "All of us. I just want to let you know Ron how happy I am that I met you that day on the train. My life probably wouldn't be the same if I hadn't."
"Me too mate," said Ron and then he embraced Harry.
"Would you look at this?" said Ginny. "We leave them alone for five minutes and they've already found comfort in each others arms!"
Ron scoffed, "Knock it off Ginny!" His scowl, though, disappeared as Hermione emerged from the bathroom. She looked lovely wearing a short black skirt and red sweater, black tights and black boots encasing her legs.
Hermione laughed and said, "You're up!"
Ron grabbed his garment bag and headed into the bathroom only to emerge a few moments later in dark jeans and grey sweater. He handed his wedding clothes over to Ginny and then said, "Now what?"
Harry walked over to the tent flaps and opened them, gesturing for them to step outside. "Please step this way Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. We have one more surprise for you."
Ron and Hermione grinned and grasped hands, following Harry outside with Ginny close behind them. They walked back towards the reception tent and saw that all of the guests had gathered together.
"Alright folks," announced Harry, "just like we said. Now!"
The crowd parted to reveal a light blue Ford Anglia, the bumper decorated with cans and the words "Just Married" spray painted on the back window. Both Hermione and Ron stood speechless. Arthur and Molly moved forward and embraced the young couple,
"It's our gift to you," said Arthur. "When you get inside you'll find two airline tickets to Greece. There's a cruise ship leaving from there with a cabin waiting for you!"
Family and friends burst into applause. Hermione felt tears come to her eyes. "This is too much! Thank you!"
Ron, also overcome by emotion, moved forward to embrace his parents. "Thank you. I don't know what to say. It's more than what we hoped for." Ron and Hermione had decided not to take a honeymoon trip. They wanted to start building on the property right away and had decided the money would best be spent on that venture not on a vacation
Before Ron could move away, Arthur whispered to him. "Things aren't exactly what they appear to be. After you leave the clearing, be sure you press the red button beneath the radio. It will take you where you need to go."
Ron looked curiously at his father but didn't say anything. He went around and opened the passenger side door for Hermione. She was hugging her parents goodbye and pointedly ignoring her granny who couldn't help but remark loudly, "What a horrific old car! Why would anyone in their right mind want to own that?"
The last two people say goodbye to them were Ginny and Harry. Ginny smiled and kissed her brother on the cheek saying, "You've done good Ron. I'm not sure who's looking down on you but you should thank your stars they are!"
"Thanks Ginny," said Ron. He turned and shook Harry's hand. "Thanks mate. I don't know how I'll ever repay you."
Harry shook his head and said, "You already have, more than you know." He leaned in closer and said, "I helped your dad with the car. Just enjoy it."
Looking puzzled again, Ron nodded and got into the Ford. He started the ignition and was rewarded with the light purr of the engine. "Ready?" he asked Hermione.
Hermione nodded. "What's all the secrecy between you and your Dad and Harry?"
"Well, apparently once we're out of sight this wonderful automobile is going to become magical," he replied. "All I have to do is push that red button. But I have a feeling there is one more surprise for us in store."
Hermione raised her eyebrows but didn't say anything. Instead, she rolled down the window and turned to wave goodbye to everyone. Once they had faded from sight, she said, "Well?"
Ron took deep breath and said, "Here we go." He pressed the button and the steering wheel automatically locked. The car began to rise although they did see a shimmer descend upon it, a sure sign that it had been concealed. Soon, they were well above the tree line, heading into the starry night.
"Look!" exclaimed Ron. "I can see the Burrow!"
Hermione's brows furrowed. "I see it too but that doesn't make sense. We should be heading south if we're going to London. We're definitely heading north."
The car began to pick up speed once they were past the Burrow but made no southward turn. Hermione and Ron watched the dark countryside go by, occasionally dotted by the lights of small villages and hamlets. They had been in the car for almost twenty minutes when Hermione gasped, "I know where we're going!"
Ron looked over at her and said, "I'm glad one of us does because I'm totally clueless!"
Hermione gave him a helpless smile. "Really Ron? You have no idea?"
"Geez," he said. "Not married for twenty-four hours yet and you're already frustrated with me!" He looked out the window saying, "It would be easier without all this damn fog!"
No sooner had he spoken the words when the fog did indeed clear and when it did, Ron gasped as well. Laid out before them was Hogwarts, the towers outlined against the night sky, the Black Lake at its bottom, the water shimmering up at them. The only light came from some of the windows in Ravenclaw Tower, a sure sign that students were up studying.
Ron was about to make a joke about the studiousness of the Ravenclaw students but the words died on his lips as he saw the tears streaming down Hermione's face. He took one of her hands in his and held it up to his lips, brushing a kiss across her knuckles.
"We've come full circle, haven't we?" she asked, giving him a watery smile.
"I'm not so sure about that," he said. The car was skirting around Gryffindor Tower and Ron mentally counted the windows in the turret until he was sure that he had found the one that he had spent hours looking out of.
"What do you mean?" said Hermione. "This is where we met and fell in love! And here we are on our wedding night back where it all began!"
"Technically we met on the Hogwarts Express," Ron said. "And we did fall in love here although we both didn't know it. I only meant that I don't think we've come full circle yet."
This time it was Hermione's turn to look confused but before she could voice any question, Ron replied, "Do you know when we've come full circle? The day we stand on Platform 9 3/4 kissing our oldest goodbye."
Hermione blinked back more tears and scooted closer to Ron on the seat. He put his arm around her as she laid her head against his shoulder. "This is where it began," she said, "but its still only the beginning for us."
Ron leaned down and kissed her gently replying, "Yes it is Mrs. Weasley. Yes it is."
A/N: I would like to thank everyone who stuck with me over the course of this story. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I am planning on writing another missing moments story for "The Half-Blood Prince" but not until I finish "The Other Side of Life." Thanks again!