AN: Thank y'all! It's truly been so fun writing my first fan fic! Thank you so much for reading and reviewing.
. . . Chapter 53
. . . The End and The Beginning . . .
Hermione hadn't cared about many parts of the wedding. The dress she picked for Ron's reaction. The cake was white chocolate, for Ron. The light blue garter she wore - she blushed every time it grazed the inside of her other thigh - was definitely for Ron. But the part she'd been the most excited about was the idea to create their own lights for the wedding. She had asked to borrow the Deluminator for the night before and he had handed it over, reluctant to part with the bequest that had linked them together twice in impossible circumstances.
Ginny, Mrs. Weasley, and herself had been the only three people to see the orchard before the guests began arriving for the ceremony. Some of the trees were missing from the rows of trees so Hermione had made the executive decision to inhabit one of those areas. She would walk up one row of trees, making an aisle between them and then where one of the gaps were, guests would sit. Simple. Ginny had threatened Ron with hexes of unmentionable effect so he'd promised to stay inside for the duration of the day. With the Deluminator in hand, the three women had stood at the edge of the orchard and walked up the aisle Hermione would walk down later, releasing balls of light of varying sizes and brightness up at the level of the trees. The light seemed dim during the day, she suddenly worried it wouldn't be enough but shook the thought away as she put in one of Mrs. Weasley's pearl earrings, her something borrowed.
She had stuck to the Muggle tradition of 'Something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new'. Hermione knew her mother had borrowed a handkerchief from her grandfather and had kept it and tucked it into her bouquet. Hermione glanced at the table where her bouquet sat ready, the handkerchief was visible where it peeked from between bluebells. Her 'something blue' was her bouquet and the garter, of course. Something new was her dress, she looked down at her lace long sleeves and the lace dress that flowed gently into a short train.
Going to buy the dress with Mrs. Weasley and Ginny had been the first time in a long time that Hermione had ached for her parents. She'd cried all over the first dress she tried on much to the horror of the sales woman and her future in-laws. Ginny worked behind her now with a knitting hook to button the tiny buttons that marched up the back of the dress in a straight line.
She leaned slightly forward to make sure her blush didn't fall on her dress, swiping on just enough on her cheeks to look bridal.
"Hermione, you sure you don't want us to grab Fleur and get her to do your make up?" Ginny asked, standing in her pale green bridesmaid's dress. "She offered."
"Well, I want to still look like myself," Hermione said, swiping on a bit of blush on the other cheek. "I don't want Ron to see me start walking down the aisle looking like a stranger."
Ginny nodded behind her in the mirror and smiled. "You look gorgeous, perfect. I just thought I'd offer."
Hermione smiled at her, closing the blush with a snap. Ginny must have read her body language because she instantly stepped forward and lifted the short train at the back of the dress.
"Ready?" Ginny asked.
She found herself suddenly breathless. Her heart jumped into her throat. This was it. They were walking downstairs to her wedding. Swallowing thickly, she nodded at Ginny through the mirror. A horrible sniff that didn't come from Ginny made her jump.
"You are a beautiful bride!" the mirror cried and Hermione let out a shaky laugh.
"Yes, I'm ready," she answered, picking up her bouquet and turning slowly to let Ginny carry the train of her dress out the door and down the steps behind her.
As soon as she was down the stairs, Ginny let the dress down to the floor and stepped around her.
"You look perfect, Hermione," she whispered. "I'll see you outside."
That heavy cluster of nerves in her throat was back. She found herself nodding. Harry's head poking around the doorway of the kitchen made her relax significantly. She was instantly reminded of the conversation they had a few weeks ago. She'd said: "I'd be honored if you'd walk me down the aisle. You're the closest thing I have to a brother" and they'd both cried. Him because he was thrilled and her because of the churned up feelings for her family and her sisterly love for Harry.
"You look beautiful, Hermione," Harry declared with an air of sincerity that Hermione didn't question.
"Thanks, Harry," she breathed. Her pulse raced ahead. All these people. Walking in front of everyone she knew, practically.
"Hey, you alright?" Harry yanked her out of her mild panic.
"Yeah, just nervous," she whispered, fixing the silver bracelet from George on her wrist.
"Well, it's Ron and you're both so happy togeth - "
"I'm not nervous about that! I'm nervous about having to walk over grass in high heels in front of all these people," she exclaimed, feeling like an idiot that that was what she was worried about on her wedding day.
Harry grinned at her. "I'm not going to let you fall," he offered her his arm and she took it in full trust, inhaling deeply.
"Ready?" he asked. She nodded and they stepped out together in the late afternoon light of the Burrow.
Two knocks from Bill on his childhood bedroom door were his cue to straighten his tie and open his door. Bill's smirking face and George's grin were the first things he saw when he opened the door.
"Time?" he asked.
"It is," Bill answered, moving aside to let him down the stairs.
"Still time to back out," George joked lightly as the three of them started down the stairs.
"Yeah, yeah," he breathed back, not sure of how steady his voice would be if he said anything longer than two words.
Out in the grass, Bill and George walked in front of him. He and Hermione had decided to only have one attendant stand with each of them due to the sheer number of Weasley men. His steps faltered when he turned around the corner of the house and saw the orchard. Tiny balls of light hovered above the branches of the trees, adding to the blush light of the afternoon. He instantly knew this was why Hermione had borrowed the Deluminator. His eyes instantly burned and he blinked away the feeling quickly. He couldn't walk down the aisle blubbering like an idiot.
Walking forward, Ron tried to keep his eyes forward and not turn to look at anyone. He immediately failed at that. The sounds of Hagrid's loud crying carried across the grass and Ron found his gaze drawn to Hagrid whose crying only increased when he saw Ron. A few people whispered as he walked by and he felt his ears heat up. He took calming breaths and looked forward to find his mum and dad twisted in their seats to watch him walk forward.
He smiled and nodded once at his parents before turning and standing beside the wizard that would be performing the binding. He suddenly wished that Harry was already standing up there beside him instead of walking Hermione up the aisle before coming to stand by him.
"Alright?" the wizard spoke.
Ron nodded and smiled over at him. "Yeah," he breathed through his smile, anxious to see Ginny walk up the aisle as soon as possible. Thankfully he didn't have to wait long. Ginny carried a white bouquet up the aisle and smiled at everyone as she walked to the string quartet music. Ron stood up straighter and tried to ignore how hard his heart was pounding.
After Ginny came up to stand on the other side of where Hermione would be, the music changed and Ron felt his entire chest seize up at the sight before him.
Hermione stood between the rows of trees, lit by the yellow glow of the orbs of light above her. Her smile was huge as she looked right at him. He felt himself return the smile as the wedding guests stood and turned to watch his bride - almost his wife - walk up the aisle. The swish of her hips under the lace dress, the way her curls reflected the light from underneath her veil, that smile, the way her eyes never left his: it was all so perfect, so beautiful.
Finally she was before him and he realized that Harry was stepping to his other side. The wizard that would bind them together had them turn to face him and Ron caught himself looking over at Hermione several times while the wizard greeted the crowd.
"If you will please face each other," the wizard prompted and Hermione turned toward Ron.
They were so close together. He suddenly remembered that he was supposed to take her hands and reached out to take both of her small hands in his. The pink light over the orchard shone softly on one side of her face.
"Will you, Ronald Bilius, take Hermione Jean to be your bonded wife? Will you love her, comfort and keep her, and forsaking all others remain true to her for as long as you both shall live?"
"I will," he answered, pleased and surprised when his voice didn't shake.
"Will you, Hermione Jean, take Ronald Bilius to be your bonded husband? Will you love him, comfort and keep him, and forsaking all others remain true to him for as long as you both shall live?"
"I will," she answered and smiled up at him.
"Good," the wizard whispered. "And who has the rings?" he asked, louder for the audience to hear.
Ron saw Ginny behind Hermione hand the wizard his ring and saw Harry's hand come from behind him with Hermione's ring.
"Alright, please repeat after me: I, Ronald Bilius Weasley - "
"I, Ronald Bilius Weasley," he dutifully repeated and Hermione's grin grew.
" - take you Hermione Jean Granger, to be my bonded wife - " the wizard continued.
" - take you Hermione Jean Granger, to be my bonded wife - " Ron parroted back.
" - and with this ring, I thee wed - " The wizard handed him the ring and Ron took it in his shaking hands.
" - and with this ring, I thee wed - " Ron maneuvered the ring to the tip of her left ring finger and gently pushed the band he'd wanted to put on her since December onto her slim finger.
" - all my worldly goods I thee endow, in sickness and in health - "
" - all my worldly goods I thee endow, in sickness and in health - " Ron repeated and felt the burning of tears behind his eyes when he saw that Hermione had tears building in hers.
" - for richer or for poorer, until death parts us," the wizard finished.
" - for richer or for poorer, until death parts us," Ron heard his own voice shake and a single tear broke loose from Hermione's eyes and slid down her cheek.
"Hermione," the wizard turned toward her and Ron saw her blinking quickly, trying to clear away her tears.
Ron focused on the sweet words that Hermione repeated as the wizard prompted and watched her shaky fingers approach his to slide the white gold wedding band over his finger.
" - for richer or for poorer, until death parts us," Hermione finished, brushing tears away with her left hand. His chest clenched in a way that was at once painful and brilliant.
"Well then, by the power supplied me by the Ministry of Magic, and by the witness of these that are here present, then I declare you bonded for life."
A shower of silver sparks fell over them and their hands and their friends and family let out a series of whoops and clapping. The flutter in his stomach was unbearable and wonderful. Husband and wife.
"Face the crowd," the wizard said, barely audible over the noise. Then with his voice louder, he said, "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce to you Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Weasley."
Hermione looked up at him and he found himself looking down at her amid the chaos of people standing up for their procession down the aisle.
"Ready?" he mouthed. She gave him a watery grin and nodded and he led his wife out of the orchard to the tent where their reception was to take place.
The reception was a blur of dances and demands to kiss, which he and Hermione willingly gave in to again and again. Then they were cutting the cake and feeding it to each other in some Muggle tradition that Hermione had insisted on. Finally, after making their rounds and telling countless people that they were going to Greece on their honeymoon he and his wife were standing in the line for a plate of actual food.
"Hey, will you two come with me?" Harry interrupted them in the line for food. Ron almost growled. Bloody haven't eaten anything but tiny nibbles of cake all day, everyone won't stop coming to speak to them and now Harry. . .
"What's up, Harry?" Hermione managed to sound upbeat in the face of more hungry moments.
"I've got to talk to you two, it's important," Harry whispered, grabbing Hermione's hand and leading them out of the tent. Hermione's wedding ring gleamed through Harry's fingers and Ron smiled at the sight of it, glancing down at the white gold band on his own left hand. Harry let go of Hermione's hand once outside of the tent and led them over to an unruly, tall set of shrubs. Turning on his heel, Harry launched into speaking, "Guys, the prophecy . We've got to talk about it. I've figured something out."
"Harry - " Ron started furiously. Of all the days to bring this up.
"No, Ron - Hermione. Think about it!" Harry said excitedly. "The prophecy Trelawney made about me and Riddle. It spanned almost two decades! If you look at the prophecy about Hermione now over the course of the last few months it makes sense. Remember what it says?"
Hermione glanced up at him, knowing he'd memorized it. Ron sighed heavily and recited:
" The time of great peace approaches. - "
"That's obvious," Harry cut across him quickly.
"It will come to pass when the one of three carries new life.
She will pass through the Veil.
Hermione Granger will cease to exist.
Her one love will repay those who take her in quick succession.
Only after these have come into fruition will our world know peace."
Ron felt his lungs seize up. What if the prophecy hadn't been negated by them in December? What if it was still -
"Don't you get it?" Harry was practically bouncing. "Hermione Granger did cease to exist. You're Hermione Weasley now." Something clicked in Ron's mind about seeing her walk down the aisle just an hour or so before.
"'She will pass through the Veil' . . . you wore a veil for the ceremony, Hermione. . ." Ron muttered and looked down at her. Smooth skin, parted lips, and wide golden-brown eyes looked back up at him. "What if it was veil? Not Veil?" Ron gestured to her curls as he spoke.
"Ron struck down those Death Eaters in December so that's the 'quick succession' part," Harry grinned at Hermione knowingly. "I think you're pregnant."
"What? I can't - " Hermione broke off suddenly and looked up at him. He knew that since the last year she'd had an irregular cycle and since December it was hit or miss every couple months. He scanned his memory for contraceptive charms and couldn't remember any recently. His head spun.
"Do you know the spell, Hermione?" Harry asked quickly, pulling his wand out of his pocket.
She shook her head no, "Fleur will," she said a bit too loud.
"Fleur vill what?" Fleur's voice signaled her prescience near their vegetative hideout.
"Fleur will you see if Hermione is pregnant?" Harry asked quickly, quietly. Fleur walked around the tall bushes to face them. Ron felt his face and ears heat up when Fleur glanced up at him with narrowed eyes.
"Eef this ees a joke - " started Fleur. Her hands flew to her hips in a spot on impersonation of mum.
"No, no, no. The prophecy, Fleur, we think we figured it out," Harry explained in a rush. The look on Fleur's face when from suspicious to businesslike in an instant. Fleur pulled out her wand and aimed it at Hermione.
"Fero tuli latum liber, fero tuli latum liber," Fleur chanted twice. A pale green light glowed over Hermione's stomach. What did that mean, then? "Well, eef this was me, I'd wait to tell Molly until after the honeymoon."
"Wait? I'm - " Hermione started, bringing both hands over her flat abdomen. He couldn't breathe.
"Yes and not very far along. You'll haf to go to St. Mungo's for zee rest," Fleur said, beaming. "Prophecy worries over?"
"Over," Ron said, relief blotting out all worries about their future. Great Peace. Turning and leaning down to his bride, he asked her quickly, "'Mi, baby, are you happy?"
Fleur and Harry walked away from their hideaway behind the bushes. She looked up at him with the biggest grin he'd ever seen on her. Ron laughed down at her and wrapped his arms around her in that bloody perfect white dress.
"So that's a yes, then?" Ron asked her, picking her up so they were face to face. Her feet hung uselessly around his shins.
"Yes," she brought both arms to wrap about his neck. "We're married," she breathed.
"We're having a baby," he whispered with a sense of growing wonder. Ron spun once on the spot holding her full against him. White lace against black dress robes.
"'Only after these have come into fruition will our world know peace'," Hermione muttered, her sweet breath drifted pleasantly over his face. "Funny, now I really want to completely believe in that prophecy."
Ron grinned at her and watched her face fix into a large smile. "I love you, Hermione Granger."
"It's Hermione Weasley, and I love you too," she whispered. He crushed his mouth against hers. After all these years, years of facing insurmountable odds and all of them narrowly escaping death time and again, Ron held his little family up against himself and poured his soul into the most cherished kiss of his life.