Author's*Note-Wow, guys…I can't believe it. I actually finished a story!! Well I hope you enjoy....and don't forget to read my author's note at the end of the story! Without further adieu, the finale…the final chapter of "A Spring Kinda Thing"…..
Chapter 13: I Do
-- Today I met the boy I'm gonna marry --
He's all I've wanted all my life and even more
He smiled at me until the music started playing
Here comes the bride when he walked through the door
Today I met the boy I'm gonna marry
The boy whose life and dreams and love I wanna share
For on my hand a band of gold appeared before me
The band of gold I always dreamed I'd wear.
When we kissed
I felt a sweet sensation
This time it wasn't just my imagination
Today I met the boy I'm gonna marry
He's just what I've been waiting for Oooh yes
With every kiss Oh this is it my heart keeps saying
Today I met the boy I'm going to marry
When we kissed I'd never felt this sweet sensation
This time it wasn't just my imagination
Today I met the boy I'm gonna marry
He's just what I've been waiting for Oooh yeah
With every kiss Oh this is it my heart keeps saying
-- Today I met the boy I'm going to marry --
6 hours til the wedding…
"Heather?" Jenn queried, knocking lightly on her soon to be sister-in-law's door, all the while balancing a tray full of food on her opposite arm.
"Come in." A cheerful voice rang out.
Jenn breathed a sigh of relief. This was the first time in what seemed like forever that she'd been able to knock on Heather's door and get an upbeat, worry-free response. Smiling graciously to herself, Jenn twisted the doorknob, pushing the door open.
She was immediately greeted by a pleasantly surprising sight. Instead of rushing around like a madwoman, stressing over the tiniest little mishaps, Heather was sitting gracefully on her luxurious canopy bed, twisting a lock of her dark hair with one finger, and making marks with a quill on a sheet of paper before her. Yes, indeed, she was looking all together peaceful and blissfully happy. Thank Merlin.
Seemingly unaware of a new presence in her room, Heather did not acknowledge Jenn, but instead kept her focus on the sheet of paper she was perusing. Every now and then, she'd shake her head and sigh softly, then make a small mark on the paper and go back to reading it. Jenn watched her curiously for several moments before speaking up.
"Come in." She chirped once more, still keeping her eyes glued to the sheet of paper.
Jenn smiled and stifled a laugh. "Thank you, I think I will."
Given that she was still standing near the door she'd never closed, Jenn reached out and pushed the door shut. The short thump broke Heather out of her reverie. The young woman looked up, briefly studied her visitor, and then smiled warmly.
"Oh, hi, Jenn."
"Hey, Heath. I just came up here to deliver you your breakfast. I knew that you wouldn't want to risk seeing the groom by going down to the dining hall, so I figured that I should bring it up to you. Sirius had to add in his 2 cents, of course, by advising that it would be better if you didn't have anything in your stomach, but the day I listen to him is the day I drop out of Hogwarts and become a nun."
Heather laughed. "Oh, for Merlin's sake, he acts like I'm some gigantic worry wart."
Jenn raised an eyebrow, but didn't object. She began to lift up the cover that had been placed over the tray. "I hope you like……err……….orange juice and a pumpernickel bagel? Ugh, I swear to God, this is the last time I ask your brother to help me with anything."
"Well, at least you got a valuable lesson out of it." Heather grinned.
Jenn shook her head and sighed, walking over and sitting on the edge of Heather's bed. She handed her the tray, which Heather promptly set down on the bed. She took a quick swig of the orange juice, but then ignored the tray all together.
"Not much of an appetite, anyway, huh?" Jenn asked, surveying the full tray.
"Oh….well, you see….I'm kind of….preoccupied."
Jenn's eyes flew to the piece of paper that was still resting in Heather's lap.
"What are you writing?"
"Oh, not writing! God, no-not writing! Editing." Heather corrected.
Jenn smiled. Now this was the anxious Heather that she was used to.
"I see. What are you editing?"
Heather looked up at Jenn and smiled shakily. "My vows."
Jenn nodded in understanding. "Can I hear them?"
Heather's eyes widened dramatically. "Well, isn't it…..you know, bad…to read them before the wedding? Won't it jinx me?"
Jenn raised her eyebrows at her once more. "Your brother is Sirius. He is an usher. You are already jinxed."
Heather sighed. "Don't joke. I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
"Yeaaaa…good luck with that." Jenn drawled sarcastically.
Heather gave her a look. "Well….I suppose that I can read you a little bit of it. I'm having trouble fixing this one little part."
She held up the paper and read out, "Zachary, my darling, you light up my life--."
As Heather continued to read, Jenn smiled and shook her head, unbeknownst to Heather.
'And so the day of pure mushiness begins…'
* * * * * * * * *
"Ugh….I ruin one wedding dress, which, may I add, was easily replaced, and now I'm stuck on flower duty for hours upon hours. I am wasting so many of my mischief-making brain cells right now. Oh, the horror!" Sirius cried out dramatically.
"We were sympathetic the first 9 times you told us, Padfoot." James quipped, looking to Remus, who nodded in agreement.
Luckily, with the help of the wedding planner and a lot of pleading and yelling, Mrs. Black had been able to order new flower arrangements, which had just come in that very morning. As a punishment of sorts, Sirius had been ordered to walk around the reception tent, go to each and every table, and replace all the vases full of white roses with ones filled with red roses….WITHOUT MAGIC.
"Shut it, Prongs. You have no idea what torture this is."
"Yes, we do. We're the ones that were nice enough to HELP YOU." Remus corrected.
"Please, when we get back to school, you'll turn your backs on me. You'll tell everyone about this. All around me, I'll be hearing-'Hey, Sirius, a squib now, are ya?' and 'Did you hear about Sirius's little job at his sister's wedding?' and 'Hey, Sirius, didn't know you enjoyed arranging flowers in your spare time, you man-woman!' Oh, it'll just be horrible." Sirius made his speech as dramatic as possible, even disguising his voice for each impersonation.
James grinned. "Damn, Sirius. You know us all too well."
"Ugh, everything happens to me!!!!"
"Exactly what else has gone wrong in your life lately, Padfoot?" Remus asked, raising his eyebrows.
Sirius's expression turned…well….serious. "Plenty of stuff."
"Do indulge us, dear friend." James mocked in an overly polite tone.
Sirius sighed as he stopped at a table and replaced the vase on top of it with a new(and improved!) one.
"Two words and they begin with the same letter."
"OK, Moony, that's enough out of you!"
"So I can keep going?" James questioned. "Miniscule muscles!"
"SHUT IT, PRONGS. I'm warning you."
James smirked and opened his mouth once more.
"Do you want to know my problem or not?" Sirius grumbled threateningly.
James and Remus glanced at each other. James closed his mouth and gestured for Sirius to speak.
A short silence ensued. Sirius slumped a little when he finally answered them.
"Ah, M. M."
"I was close with that last one." James mused.
"I don't think she'll ever care about me the way I care about her. I try and try and try…and then try some more to make her like me, but….god, she's so bloody unreasonable! I just wish that I could make my feelings for her go away. They sure as hell don't help me any."
"Padfoot, don't get down on yourself like that. She's just a girl." James commented.
"Yea..well, so is Lily." Sirius shot back.
James smiled slightly. "I hate it when you're right."
"Well, I hate it when I'm sad..and right now I'm sad."
"Sirius, she'll come around eventually." Remus soothed.
"Who could resist the Black charm?" James insisted, smirking.
Sirius sighed, seemingly deep in thought. "You do have a point."
James rolled his eyes, still smirking. "C'mon now, get up. Be happy! Rearrange some flowers!"
"'Be happy!' and 'Rearrange some flowers!' should never be used in the same sentence." Sirius advised, shaking his head.
"Well, neither should 'butt' and 'blisters', but I used them together, too. What can I say? I don't play by the rules..I'm a rebel." James grinned cockily, running his fingers through his hair in an attempt to look smooth.
"Nice, James. Tell me, do you use that whole suave, debonair approach with Lily?" Sirius quipped, wholly enjoying getting back into his old rhythm.
James scowled briefly then turned to
"Did you hear about Sirius's little job at his sister's wedding?!?!" He asked, feigning a look of shock.
"Oh my Goddddd!!!!!" Remus gasped and clutched at his heart.
"You are not a good friend." Sirius said simply.
"Well, neither are you, but you sure as hell can make one mean flower arrangement."
* * * * * * * * * *
Lily stood in front of her mirror, studying her reflection closely.
"I don't know about this dress, Mand…it's not quite…me."
Lily had borrowed the dress from Mandy, through suggestion on her friend's part, not knowing that it was a bright ruby red shade.
"What do you mean?" Mandy questioned. "I think it looks nice."
Lily's eyes bugged out as she glanced at her reflection again. Maybe ruby red worked for blonde Mandy, but it definitely was not meant for her red-headed self.
"I think I'll stick with that black dress that I originally picked for today." Lily confirmed, trying to sound like it was a tough decision to make.
Mandy rolled her eyes at her friend. "You know, I can read you like a book, Evans. Don't lie."
"I look like a fire truck." Lily spat.
Mandy laughed. "All right, I get it-I have a slightly..bolder..taste in clothing than you."
"Take out the 'slightly' and add 'extremely' and your dead on."
Mandy shrugged and sat down on Lily's bed. A short silence ensued as Lily eyed her friend skeptically.
"So….you still haven't told me what happened between you and Sirius. Just the other day you two were getting along perfectly fine and now your at each other's throats again. What? Did he spite you in a past life or something??"
Mandy crossed her arms defiantly. "I don't want to talk about him."
Lily sighed and sat down beside her friend on her bed. "Yes, you do."
She paused for a moment. "He's such a git, Lily! I swear to Merlin, I wish I never laid eyes on him!"
"That's not true." Lily voiced, shaking her head.
Mandy paused again. "OK, it's not like I wish I'd never met him in the first place. I mean, I do like him sometimes. He has a few good qualities. He can be really sweet and fun to be around..and I really start to like him when he's like that. Oh, but then he just turns into a big prat and I hate him again!"
"You don't ever hate him."
"Stop correcting me!" Mandy ordered.
"Someone needs to!" Lily argued.
"Lily Evans, you are supposed to be my best friend! Don't take his side!"
"I am your best friend. That's exactly why I'm making you face your real feelings for Sirius. You've been trying to push him away for way too long, Mand. One day he's going to get sick of being pushed..and just not try anymore."
"To make you fall in love with him."
Mandy scoffed. "Sirius Black doesn't even know what love is! He doesn't like me for any real reasons."
"Mandy, think of what your saying. You can't sit here and tell me that you don't know the way he looks at you."
"I don't know." Mandy admitted, looking straight into Lily's eyes.
"He looks at you like he's never met anyone more incredible than you. He looks at you like you're everything to him!"
"I don't want to be everything to him."
Lily took in a deep breath and then released it. She was exasperated. Was this really worth arguing with Mandy over? Not for the time being.
"All right, Mand. If that's how you feel."
"It is." Mandy confirmed, looking down at her hands.
There was a brief moment of silence.
"I'm going to change back into normal clothes, then we can go and check with Mrs. Black to see if there's anything we can help with."
As Lily got up and went into her private bathroom, Mandy couldn't help but sigh.
How was she ever going to admit her true feelings to Sirius when she couldn't even admit them to Lily? Even more so, when she couldn't even admit them to herself?
* * * * * * * * * *
"Reminder to the twinkling fairies….you are to hover around the altar to give it a 'shining effect'. You are not, and I repeat ARE NOT, permitted to fly around the guests' heads. The bride was very clear about that particular detail…and, may I add, is very good with simple curses..don't make her demonstrate her abilities." Kathryn announced firmly.
A few mischievous fairies glared viciously at her before gathering their whole crowd up and leaving the hall. Kathryn's official duty as maid of honor, besides keeping Heather sane, was to ensure that every little detail pertaining to the wedding was just right, so that the overall ceremony would run smoothly. Right now, she was in between 3 tasks. First and foremost, she was debriefing all magical persons and creatures who had a role in the wedding of their specific responsibilities. Secondly, she was helping two of her fellow bridesmaids dye their hair back to its original color after the family's resident poltergeist, Jeepers, had dropped some sort of magical water balloon type objects on them from his position at the top of the stairs. Lastly, she was trying her very hardest to convince the "elephant handler" that due to some miscommunication (heh-hem-Sirius!) they would not and never had needed his services at the wedding.
"Oh, Kate…look at my hair! Just look at it! It's white! It's not even that pretty veela-type white! It's like…old woman white. THIS IS WHY I'm petitioning at the Ministry for regulations to be put up against poltergeists. They are simply out of control these days!"
Kathryn bit her lip as she fooled with her friend's pure white locks. She had already tried several spells to mend Jeeper's havoc. However, nothing was working. Unfortunately, when you're stressed and you just can't seem to get a break no matter how hard you try, you begin to…break down a little.
"Al, I'm trying my best here…" Kathryn reasoned.
"KATE!!!! I think my hair is actually getting greener…" Lena Davies wailed. Kathryn pivoted sharply so that she was facing her other friend. Lena, in fact, was not being overly dramatic. Her hair was edging closer and closer to being a forest green.
"Oh, Missssssss, you still haven't told me when you want the elephant to come out. Shall we have him follow the wedding procession, or-? Actually, you know I once had a bride in India who rode on top of the elephant down the aisle. It was really quite moving and I-."
"HOGPOTCH." The elephant trainer corrected sternly, acting deeply offended.
Kathryn took a deep breath, trying to compose herself. "I'm sorry, Mr. Hogpotch. You see, as I told you about..let's see…5 minutes, oh yes, yes it was 5 minutes ago, we never needed an elephant."
"Excuse me, young lady, but I had to get out of a lot of previous arrangements to get this elephant here. Now, I don't care what he does, but he will be in this wedding and I WILL get paid." Mr. Hogpotch's face was quickly reddening.
"I'm sorry that you had to clear your oh-so-busy elephant training SCHEDULE to be here, but WE DO NOT need you here and you most certainly are NOT getting paid." Kathryn's hands were now glued firmly to her waist, her whole posture emanating anger.
"Listen here, missy-."
Mr. Hogpotch was cut off by a loud scream.
"Oh, bloody hell! KATE, HE DROPPED ANOTHER ONE!"
Kathryn turned to see Lena glaring and gesturing angrily up at Jeepers.
"OH! KATE, IT GOT ME!" Allison screamed.
Kathryn put her head in her hands and moaned, "Oh, for Merlin's sake…"
"Well, it looks like you just don't have anything under control." Mr. Hogpotch commented maliciously.
Kathryn's face abruptly went from angry to coldly emotionless.
"YOU," she pointed one finger firmly at Hogpotch while she slowly seethed, "GET. OUT. OF. HERE. NOW."
"That is IT. I am reporting you to my manager and-."
"GO AHEAD AND REPORT ME TO EVERY CIRCUS FREAK FRIEND YOU HAVE OUT THERE. I AM BEYOND CARING! I SUGGEST YOU GET OUT OF MY WAY BEFORE I MAKE YOU GET OUT OF MY WAY."
Mr. Hogpotch's eyes bugged out as he held up his hands submissively and stepped to Kathryn's right.
"Now, everyone just stay here and stay calm. Things have gotten just a little too hectic for one person to deal with. Kate needs a break. I will be back."
With those carefully chosen last words, Kathryn turned on her heel and fled the hall.
* * * * * * * * * *
5 hours til the wedding…
"Yes, I think that light lavender shade is just perfect." Heather gushed to her manicurist. Most witches simply performed spells on their nails when they wanted them to be fancy, but Heather wasn't most witches. Her mother was muggle, so she'd been exposed to regular manicures somewhat early in life. Surprisingly, she found them more preferable.
"I knew you would like it, Mrs. Ryan." The manicurist commented delightedly.
Jenn smiled at the slight mistake, but Heather's eyes widened as she took a deep breath.
"Oh, no, you seeee….I'm Miss. Black. The soon-to-be Mrs. Ryan, but not her yet! I mean..Jenn here..she..she's more of a Ryan right now than me." Heather rushed out in a slightly panicked voice.
Jenn's smile faltered as she snuck a glance at Heather. She was taking shaky, determined breaths and nervously fooling with her hair. Not now. Please, not now.
Heather calmed down a bit when she saw Jenn staring at her. "It's all right. I'm just..a little shaken. I don't understand why my friends aren't here yet. What could possibly be keeping them?"
Jenn faked a smile and lied through her teeth. "I'm sure that..they're looking for your traditional good luck charms. You know, something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue."
Heather didn't buy it for a second and without missing a single beat responded, "Kate and I picked those things out 3 days ago. They're in my drawer."
"Well….I…never said that I was r-right. Just guessing." Jenn reasoned, shrugging uncomfortably.
Heather's eyes widened anxiously. "What if something's gone wrong?"
"Seriously, Jenn. I think that something's gone wrong. Something's happened. Kate wouldn't just abandon me like this. I know she wouldn't. She knows how I get and knows that this kind of thing really upsets me." Heather's voice was quickly gaining a certain amount of emotion.
"I wouldn't exactly go as far as saying she abandoned you-."
"Something is wrong, Jenn!"
"Heather, just calm down. Everything is going to be just fine. I'm sure it's just a…minor delay."
Heather abruptly gasped, choking on her words. Her eyes became glassy. She looked down at her hands as she solemnly proclaimed, "I know."
There was a pregnant pause. "You know…….what?"
"Why Kate isn't here." Heather whimpered, utterly distressed.
Jenn tried to brace herself for what was coming next. Knowing Heather, she'd surely come up with something far more dramatic than the truth.
"She doesn't want to be in my wedding anymore because I'm pregnant."
Jenn bit her lip to keep from smirking. "Heather, that's not it."
It was then that the manicurist stopped working to join the conversation.
"Honey, trust me. The same thing happened to me when I was gettin' married."
"You were pregnant?" Heather queried shyly.
"No, my maid of honor had abandoned me."
Jenn's shoulders slumped as she tried her hardest not to shoot a death glare at the woman.
"Go on…" Heather prodded anxiously.
"Okay, so I finally find my supposed 'best friend' and she's in a closet goin' at it with my FUTURE HUSBAND." The woman declared dramatically, filing Heather's nails a little rougher than usual as her anger built up.
A squeak type sound left Heather's throat as she froze completely. Her eyes were bugged out. Her forehead was sweaty. She looked like she was about to faint.
"Okay…enough of that fun little story." Jenn interrupted.
"Jenn..you…you don't think-."
"NO! I don't think that at all. You have to just calm down and stop…being nervous. It's not good for you. You have to just trust that everything will go fine." Jenn soothed.
"-and if it doesn't, you just divorce the bastard!" The manicurist added simply, shrugging and going back to her work.
Heather was 3 shades paler than usual.
"All right…..no more talking." Jenn decided in a clipped voice.
* * * * * * * * * *
"All right. We are here to discuss the precautions we are going to take pertaining to the….pregnancy ordeal." Mrs. Ryan whispered that last part as if she were in a room full of people.
In all honestly, she was in a secluded parlor with Zach and her husband.
"Mother, it is not an ordeal. Heather and I have everything under control." Zach responded formally, irritated that his mother refused to warm up to the idea of being a grandmother.
"Don't you presume to correct me, young man! I'm not the one that makes bad choices."
Zach frowned and crossed his arms, but his attempt to speak was interrupted by his father.
"Marla, dear, wasn't it you just the other day who pleaded with me to be a little more…reasonable?"
"Richard, that is a completely different situation."
"Exactly what kind of situation are we in now?"
"The kind where we realize how irresponsible our oldest son is-."
"Mum, I am not irresponsible! I'm an adult..a grown up. For Merlin's sake, treat me like one!"
Mrs. Ryan ignored him and mused out loud, "You know what they call this? It's called 'children having children'."
"Oh, lord." Zach muttered under his breath.
"Mar, Heather and Zach are not children. They are getting married today. They'll be well into their marriage when the baby is born. No one will think anything of it."
Marla sighed, still distressed. She eyed her son worriedly before joining him on the couch. "Zachary, darling, I just don't want you to rush into anything that you're not ready for yet."
"You see, that's the thing, mum. We are ready for this. We love each other very much and know that we'll do anything for this child."
Marla's eyes teared up as she reached forward to embrace her son. "Oh, I just can't believe it. My baby is having a baby."
"You're going to make great parents, Zachary." Mr. Ryan assured his son, smiling warmly.
"Well, I learned from the best."
Mrs. Ryan sighed. "Oh, this is just so much to take. Both my children are growing up so very fast. You are getting married and have a baby on the way. Jenn's got a serious boyfriend-."
"How serious?" Mr. Ryan questioned, his brow furrowing.
"Serious, dear. You know the meaning of the word. Oh, and then there's little Mindy(A*N-Jenn's sister, Mindy –Mindella for long- has not been mentioned in the story yet because there was just no place for her. She's always existed, though..and she's about 8.) who is all ours for the time being. I'm surprised she doesn't have a boyfriend."
"Actually, mum, I think I saw her with-."
"Don't, Zach. It's not funny." Mr. Ryan threatened.
Zach grinned. "All right. I think our little 'talk' is over. I'm going to go find Michael and Jon. You know, a little pre-ceremony pep talk is in order. I'll see you both soon."
"Bye, dear." Mrs. Ryan leaned forward and kissed her son's cheek. Mr. Ryan shook his hand and clapped him on the back.
As Zach left the room, Mrs. Ryan sighed. "I think that we should go find the Potters and continue our talk with them."
"Yes, recent developments have brought about cause for concern."
* * * * * * * * * *
James had left Remus and Sirius about 15 minutes ago to go look for Lily. He hadn't seen her yet that day and couldn't deny the fact that he'd been wanting to see her more and more lately.
He finally found her in the dining hall, chatting with Mrs. Black and Mandy. He grinned when he saw her and (tried) to casually stride over to them.
"Mrs. Black," he inquired politely, "would you mind if I borrowed Miss. Evans for a little while?"
Mrs. Black grinned knowingly and replied, "Not at all."
Lily smiled warmly, promised Mandy that she'd be back shortly, and held out her hand to him, allowing him to lead her out of the breakfast hall. Once they were out of the hall, they immediately turned to each other and engaged in a little "hello" kiss.
Lily pulled away from him slightly to rest her forehead against his. "Hey, you."
"What are you up to? I'm sure you weren't just aimlessly wondering around…"
James smirked. "Oh, yes, yes, I was. I just happened to come across you."
Lily grinned and gave him another small kiss. "How fortunate."
James squeezed lightly at her hand. "Care to take a walk, lovely Lily?"
"Why, yes, Sir. James."
The two began to slowly walk down the hallway, chatting about various things.
"So……er…how's Mandy?" James asked abruptly, hoping to gather some information for Sirius.
"It depends. How's Sirius?" Lily shot back.
James grinned. Not much got past her. Not that he hadn't been overly obvious in his intentions.
"That depends…is she pining for him?"
"No." Lily answered bluntly.
James paused. "Oh."
Lily bit her lip. That was not the best way to put it.
"James, I didn't quite mean it that way. I mean, she says no. It doesn't, well, feel right, though. I've known Mandy forever and it just doesn't seem like she's completely...decided…when it comes to Sirius."
"That's what he doesn't understand. Sirius is…not the most patient person in the world. He can't figure her out right off the bat..and that scares the hell out of him."
Lily grinned. "Well, you know us girls. We're just tricky like that."
James sneered jokingly. "Please, I had you all figured out."
Lily's mouth dropped open. "You did not! You had no idea what to think of me. I don't think you've ever had to compete with another guy for a girl before. I know that I at least got you there. When it was the other way around, though, man, I was dead-on with you."
"You were not. You had no idea what I was thinking."
Lily grinned. "Oh, I always know what you're thinking."
"Okay, Miss. Mind Reader. Tell me what I'm thinking right now." He challenged.
Lily turned to face him, holding the sides of his face with her palms. She stood on her tip toes and leaned in to give him a very soft, gentle kiss.
"Ooohh, you're good."
"Looking to prove yourself now?" Lily grinned tauntingly.
"All right. Your turn now. What am I thinking?"
James turned and stared at her for what seemed like forever. If those gorgeous blue eyes of his were a deep, deep abyss, then Lily was willingly falling right into it. Just when she thought she was about to melt under his gaze, he leaned forward and kissed her. This time it was longer, though…among other things. He stroked her hair gently and pulled her in close to him as the kiss ended.
He grinned. "Damn. I think that was my mind again."
Lily smirked mischievously and pulled his face closer to hers, so that their lips were just inches away from each other. "Nope. That was all me."
* * * * * * * * * *
"Mike, I can't take it. I am about to kill someone. Help me. Please, please, please help me." Kathryn begged. She'd searched for the 2 groomsmen for over half an hour and now that she finally had found them, she wasn't at all hesitant in requesting their assistance.
Michael Mandelin raised one eyebrow at her and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry to tell you this, Kate, but you volunteered for the job."
"Yea, Kate, he's right. You volunteered for it, not us. Plus, you didn't save me a blueberry muffin at breakfast." Jonathan Banks childishly chimed in.
Kathryn heaved a great sigh and crossed her arms. "Don't be immature."
"Okay, okay. We'll come help you under one condition." Mike reasoned, holding out his hand to her.
"Yes, one condition…err what's the condition?" Jon asked stupidly.
"Patience, my friend." Mike grinned jokingly.
"Get on with it, Michael."
"All right. We come and help you if you…give me some sugar." Mike smirked and tapped his own cheek.
"Oh, yes. The immaturity is surely gone now." Kathryn deadpanned.
Mike flashed her his most endearing smile. "C'mon, Katie..don't be such a stick in the mud. Give me a little kiss."
Kathryn gave him a vengeful smile. "I thought that we agreed against such forms of affection over a year ago."
Mike turned toward Jon and rolled his eyes. "Writers…they're so literal."
Kathryn groaned and pulled him back around. "Mike, are you going to help me or not?"
"I told you the conditions." He insisted stubbornly.
Irritated, Kathryn continued to stare at him in annoyance. Then, a sudden idea struck her. She grinned and strode over to a clueless Jon.
"Jon, dear, please come help me." To add to her plea, she leaned forward and gently pecked him on the cheek.
In response, Jon smirked widely and shot his friend a victorious look.
"Why, yes, my sweet Kate. Of course I well help you." He declared, wrapping an arm around her and leading her to the nearest door.
Slightly flustered (and trying not to show it), Mike strode after them.
"Coming now, are you?" Kathryn questioned innocently.
"Well, I'm not going to just sit here by myself." He argued.
"Yes, you might as well make use of yourself." With a devilish smirk, Kathryn wrapped her arm around John's waist and led the group out of the room.
* * * * * * * * * *
After being ditched by Lily, Mandy had decided to take a little walk of her own. Through mere coincidence, of course, it led her outside to where Remus and Sirius were busily replacing rose arrangements, now joined by Peter, Sarah, Violet, and Joe.
"Look who's decided to charm us with her presence. Hey, Mand." Violet remarked jokingly, her voice warm and congenial.
The rest of the group followed in Violet's footsteps, greeting her warmly. Well, almost the whole group. Sirius sort of mumbled an incoherent greeting and busied himself with another flower arrangement.
"Hey, guys." Mandy responded, trying to hide her uneasiness.
Immediately sensing the ill feelings between his friend and Mandy, Remus decided that desperate measures needed to be taken.
He cleared his throat to get everyone's attention. "Hey, guys. I have a great idea. How about we all split up into pairs and work in sections. It'll get all this done a lot quicker."
Everyone nodded in agreement and started to break off. Violet and Joe, being Violet and Joe, immediately stepped closer to one another. Sarah, being Sarah, brushed past Peter and made a few steps in Mandy's direction. Remus was quick to nip that one in the bud. He quickly blocked Sarah's path, giving her a "don't you dare" look and hoping that it went unnoticed by Mandy and Sirius.
Sarah sighed and turned around. "Be my partner, Peter?"
Peter grinned happily. "Of course."
"Vee, Joe, mind if I join you two?" Remus queried, trying to sound as casual as possible.
The couple smiled knowingly to each other.
"Yeah, Rem, sure." Joe confirmed.
"All right, so it's all set. Violet, Joe, and I will do the far left end. Sarah and Peter will cover the middle. Mandy and Sirius will finish up in this area." Remus announced, eyeing the last couple to observe their reactions.
Sirius took a few awkward steps in Mandy's direction, not quite looking right at her. Mandy fidgeted (almost nervously) and tucked her hair behind her ears, shifting slightly in place from heel to toe.
Seeing that Mandy and Sirius were being…well…civil toward each other, the rest of the group disassembled and headed off to their designated sections.
Sirius took a few steps closer to his partner. Mandy shifted some more.
"So…." Sirius worked up enough nerve to look up at her.
"So…" Mandy mimicked, hesitantly meeting his eyes.
"Let's get to work." Sirius suggested. The two walked around their section of tables, busily replacing flower arrangements, in an agreeable silence.
Finally, unable to keep his mouth shut for any longer, Sirius spoke up. "How…are you?"
Mandy glanced at him uncomfortably and answered him in as few words as possible, while still maintaining a polite disposition. "I'm fine…and you?"
"Good." Sirius answered, nodding slightly.
"The wedding's going to be..amazing…today." He mused aloud, hoping to get a response.
Mandy gave him a slight smile. "It will be."
"I'm sorry for being such a git the other day."
Mandy regarded him thoughtfully this time. "Thank you. You know, for apologizing. That's…unlike you, but a nice surprise."
"Is that a compliment?" He asked, somewhat playfully.
"If you take it as one." She shot back.
He nodded, his smiling growing. You see, this is all you need, Sirius. Just start up some nice conversation and eventually she'll warm up to you and talk a little herself.
Even more silence.
Then finally, "I'm sorry, too."
Sirius's eyes widened in surprise. He took a few steps closer to her, so that they were on opposite sides of a table. "Really?"
Her lips twitched into a small smile. "Yes. If you can admit to being a git, I can admit to being more than just a little impatient with you."
Sirius grinned. "Does this mean that things are….all right..between us?"
"Better than they have been in a while."
Encouraged by her words, Sirius decided to feel her out a little. "So we are…."
"Not dating." She answered quickly. Just quickly, though, not coldly. In fact, she even grinned at him after she responded.
"So we're…close friends?" He ventured.
"That sounds good."
"Sirius, I know there's something else you have to say, so just say it."
Smiling in defeat, Sirius looked up so that he was looking straight into her eyes. Shyly, he reached across the table and laid his hand over hers.
"I know…that you want to be my friend. It's just that…I feel more for you than that. I have for a long time. Is it all right if I feel that way? Is it okay for me to want to be more than just a friend?'
There was a brief pause in the conversation.
She smiled softly at him as she turned her hand over and laced his fingers into her own.
"It doesn't matter…because you already are."
* * * * * * * * * *
4 hours til the wedding…
"House elves! The trays of hors d'oeurves are supposed to be in the kitchens, waiting to be sent out into the dining hall, and then sent out to the tents. They should not already be headed outside!" Kathryn yelled, sounding quite irritated.
Mike and Jon had fulfilled their promise of helping her by "handling" the elephant handler, leaving her to manage everything else. Luckily, Zach had showed up a little while ago, seeking out his groomsmen. Kathryn had deviously wrangled him into helping her out, too. However, even then, she had way too much to control.
"Kate, seriously, my hair!" Lena cried out. She was through with being patient. The wedding was getting closer and she was not going to walk down the aisle with white hair.
"Zach…." Kathryn's eyes searched the room for the groom and found him to be in a heated discussion with some fairies. When he heard his name he turned to face her, but shook his head no and pointed to the fairies when she gave him a pleading look.
"Excuse me, miss, but I was wondering if you could tell me where they're serving tea?" A prim and proper little girl of about 8 years old questioned, tapping Kathryn's back.
Kathryn turned around, making her voice as sweet as possible. "Honey, go find your parents."
"My parents are having tea."
"People are having tea everywhere! Pick any room in the house and you'll probably find people drinking tea inside of it. You're bound to get lucky eventually!"
Kathryn didn't mean to be so short tempered, but she really didn't need to be bothered at the moment.
"Missss…" The little girl prodded, tugging at Kathryn's dress.
Kathryn ignored her and went back to talking to the house elves.
"Okay, so as I was saying, I need you to take all this food back to the kitchens. Please, hurry, too—I don't want it to get cold."
"Miss, I is not wanting to anger you, but we is not able to keep the food in the kitchens." The head house elf informed her. The other elves nodded along with him, as if to confirm his statement.
"Misssss…….I want to find my mother."
Kathryn turned sharply to glare at the little girl. "Good. For. You."
She swung back around, resuming her conversation with the elves.
"You see, miss, we is not expecting to not be able to bring the food out now. We is making more food right now and there is no more room in the kitchens for this old food.
First it was a wince. Then a small squeak. Next thing Kathryn knew, the little girl was fully crying her eyes out.
"Oh, sweetheart, I'm sorry." Kathryn apologized, quickly turning around to survey how much damage she'd caused.
"I want my mother….and daddy, too." She whimpered, wiping anxiously at her eyes.
"Do you have any idea where they are?" Kathryn queried, trying to gain as much information as possible.
"Misss….we is not knowing what to do with the food." The house elf proclaimed shyly, looking as if he didn't want to disrupt Kate's conversation with the little girl.
Kathryn turned her head so that she was looking straight at the elf. She thought for a moment, begging her brain to come up with a plan to solve all the distress. Finally, she ordered simply, "Take the food to the dining hall. My mother can perform a heating spell on it or something."
The elf nodded in response and helped his fellow elves carry the food trays in the direction of the dining hall.
Kathryn sighed in relief and turned her head back toward the little girl.
"What can I do?" She prodded gently.
"Make them come back."
Kathryn's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. She could've sworn that this little girl reminded her of someone she knew. Not only in her appearance, either. Her whole aura screamed out the name of somebody else.
"JAMES!" Lily Evans yelled playfully, running hurriedly into the hall and whipping around to face the entranceway to the room.
James Potter quickly followed suit, dashing into the room and endearingly pulling Lily toward him.
It didn't take long for her to make the connection.
"James, do you know this little girl?" She asked immediately, not bothering to comment on or rib the two teenagers about their immature behavior.
James's giddy expression immediately turned to a more serious one when he spotted the little girl.
"James!" The little girl squealed, running into his arms.
Lily and Kathryn observed their exchange attentively, while the other occupants of the hallway continued to argue or chatter noisily.
"Belle, what are you doing here? You shouldn't be by yourself.."
"James, she was looking for her par-."
Kathryn couldn't even finish her sentence as she made another connection in her head. Belle Potter? No, it was Annabelle Stanley. The only daughter of the late Eve and Morris Stanley. Yes, they had been found killed years ago. Given that she had been doing a summer internship for the Daily Prophet when the deaths had occurred, she knew all about the story. One question lingered in her mind among the many that were slowly forming there. Why had the little girl of a departed couple been asking about the whereabouts of her parents? Her final words to Kathryn echoed in her head. Make them come back.
James gave her an odd look, his eyes all at once pleading with her to tell him the honest truth and not to say what he'd thought she'd been in the process of saying seconds before.
"She was looking for her parents." Kathryn admitted, immediately noticing the smile on Lily's face fall, making an odd transformation to an expressionless daze.
James looked as if he were at a loss for words. "Belle.."
"No, I wasn't." Annabelle defended quickly, crossing her arms.
Kathryn stepped closer to the little girl and James. "Yes, yes, you were."
"I don't know what she's talking about." Annabelle stated with a shrug, her childish demeanor one of complete innocence.
"James-." Kathryn began to protest.
"I think I should take Annabelle back to my parents." James interrupted, picking up the 7-year old and rubbing her back in a consoling gesture.
"All right." Kathryn relented.
"I'll see you both soon. Especially you." James winked at Lily, offered Kathryn a warm smile, then strode calmly out of the hall.
Trying to shake off the feeling that something extremely significant had just occurred, Kathryn turned excitedly toward Lily.
"You're good with charms, right?"
"Not to be modest or anything, but…I'm the best in my class." Lily joked.
"Perfect. Lena, Allison, meet Lily Evans. She is your new hair dresser."
Lily tried not to feel overwhelmed as two desperate young women quickly approached her with wide, pleading eyes.
"No pressure, right?" Lily simpered, eyeing the bridesmaid's hair with a mixture of distaste and worry.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
2 hours til the wedding…
Luckily, for Heather's sake, Kathryn had been able to pass off her job to the bride and groom's parents and Lily had successfully returned Lena and Allison's tresses to their original colors, allowing Heather's complete bridal party to join her. The first order of business? Kathryn had rushed the manicurist to finish her job and had hurried the bitter old woman out of there.
The only left to do after that was get ready. The wedding was fast approaching and, according to Heather's very precise schedule, they were running late.
"Where is the hair dresser?" Heather questioned, trying to keep her voice calm.
"Seriously, according to your schedule he was supposed to be here at 10:33. It is now 11:00." Lena observed, earning herself a swift elbow in the side from Kathryn.
"11:01." Heather corrected.
"Actually, I've got 11:03-."
"Allison!" Kathryn whispered harshly.
"Oooohh, that's right! I set my clock ahead two minutes because of…the…the um….stars." Allison lied.
"Why?" Heather asked simply.
Allison looked like a deer caught in headlights. "Umm…"
"Astronomy!" Jenn whispered under her breath.
"Astrology!" Allison announced.
Heather gave her a look.
"You know those Taurus's, Heath. They're weird with their time management. You know it's a very common thing for Taurus's to set their watches ahead 2 minutes. I actually have several friends-."
"That's enough, Jenn."
"Yes, I thought it might be."
"AnyWAY, no matter what the current time is-the hairdresser is still late. Why?"
No sooner had the words left her mouth that the doors to Heather's bedroom burst open in a puff of shimmering golden dust.
"You're hairdresser is 'ere, madam!" A very handsome man in shocking pink robes announced, striding into the room, an air of importance about him.
"…and he's French." Lena observed, trying hard to hide her amusement.
"…and he's a guy." Jenn murmured.
"Who….who are you?" Heather asked politely.
"'Ere ees my card." He presented Heather with his "card" with a flourish.
Heather read the neatly written words on the card out loud. "Richard Blossom."
The man stamped his foot and gasped as if Heather had just stabbed him in the heart. "Zat ees not my name. My name ees Reeshard Blahsoh!"
"I'm deeply sorry." Heather apologized nicely.
"I guarantee you, madam, zat you will love zis 'airstyle zat I have peeked out for you." Richard gallantly informed her.
"Oh, I'm sure I will." Heather agreed.
"I shall be right back! I must go set up my kingdom…you know, ze products and such." Richard quickly sidestepped Heather and headed off to the left side of her bedroom.
As her hairstylist began to conjure up only Merlin-knows-what in her bedroom, Heather turned to her friends and Jenn with a sigh.
"Honestly, who hired these people!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
"So, do you think Heather has met Reeeessshhharrrdddd yet?" Sirius questioned giddily in an exaggerated voice.
The girls had all gone off to get ready for the approaching ceremony, so the boys had individually gotten changed and met back up in Sirius's room to pass the time.
"I can't believe you pulled that off, Padfoot. I was sure Heather would have all of her plans 'Sirius-proofed'." James mused appreciatively.
"It was simple. I just tweaked the schedule a bit…hired all new people. The manicurist was some odd woman who my mum hired to come and do her nails a few years back for some party…ended up depressin' her so bad that she didn't even go. Then I met Richard Blossom through Rosmerta. She was dating the git a few months back and I met him in The Three Broomsticks on a Hogsmeade weekend. Not to worry, though, my dear friends. I know Heather has Jenny and Kate with her. Nothing serious will result from this. Just some harmless fun." Sirius deviously explained, grinning madly.
"That's our Sirius. Never without a plan." Peter complimented, grinning and clapping his friend on the back.
"So, true, Wormtail, m'dear friend. So very true."
"Honestly, Sirius, you're going to get yourself into trouble one of these days." Remus warned him, nevertheless smiling in amusement.
"Thank God the girls are getting ready. They would've thrown an absolute fit." Joe commented.
"They just don't appreciate the brilliance." James sighed with a shake of his head.
"Women….can't live with 'em…" Remus began.
"…can't snog without 'em." Sirius finished.
"Speaking of women, are things better between you and M.M. yet?" James queried, adjusting his tie. "Well, I'd certainly hope so. She's his date to the wedding!" Joe exclaimed.
"Yes. I'm completely clear on our relationship now." Sirius stated confidently.
James grinned. "So where are you two…relationship-wise?"
Sirius thought for a moment. "I haven't a bloody clue."
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
"So, you and Sirius must have made up. You're back in your regular spirits." Lily observed, smirking at her friend.
For once, the girls had gotten ready just as fast as the boys and reconvened in Lily's room.
"Yes, we're much better now. I really think that we understand each other. When we were talking…it was like he was completely clear on where we stand."
"I'm glad you guys are good now." Violet told her.
"Yeah, me too." Mandy stated with a smile.
"Everyone's so happy in their relationships. I want someone." Sarah mused, sighing slightly.
Violet snorted in a very un-ladylike manner. "Who says Joe and I are happy?"
"..and I'm not even in a relationship." Mandy protested.
Sarah gave her a teasing look. "Then what do you call it?"
"A friendship…with some romantic…inclinations."
"Ah, friends with benefits?"
Mandy gasped and swatted Violet's arm playfully. "It's not like that."
Lily laughed. "Then what is it, oh wise one?"
"It's a friendship/romance…right?" Sarah asked for confirmation.
Mandy sighed. "Well..not exactly. I mean the slash implies that it's kind of like half and half. We're not really there yet."
"So your friends with benefits." Violet summed up.
"Vee.." Mandy threatened.
"What? That's what it's called." Violet answered innocently.
"Not what Sirius and I have. We are involved in something…different."
"Well, we knew it was different." Lily teased.
Mandy swatted at Lily. "Oh, stop it."
"You know you're losing your 'quippiness'…I guess that's what looooove does to you." Lily teased some more.
"It's not love, its friends with benefits!" Violet corrected. The bickering friends ignored her.
"No wonder you've been kind of boring lately." Mandy shot back.
Lily's mouth dropped open. "Oh, you didn't."
"Oh, I think I did. Look who's got it back." Mandy announced with a grin.
"Look who never lost it." Lily gestured to herself.
"Look who's tired of hearing you talk." Sarah gestured to herself as she stood up.
"Look who agrees with Sarah and knows that Sirius is Mandy's beneficial friend." Violet stood up, also.
"Look who's tired of playing this game." Mandy stood up, joining them.
"Seriously, let's go down and mingle now." Lily suggested, standing up.
"Oh, you're just hoping to see Crouch somewhere down there!" Violet teased.
"Lily's a Crouch-o-maniac." Mandy mused, grinning widely.
"All right, now everyone jump on Lily!" Lily exclaimed, crossing her arms in protest.
"I didn't say anything, Lil." Sarah pointed out.
"Well, thanks, Sar." She remarked, genuinely appreciative.
"Now, let's get goin'. If we don't get down there soon, Evans over here might not get a seat near Crouch."
Lily huffed and strode proudly out the door, her laughing friends following closely behind her.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
30 minutes til the wedding…
"Oh, Heather!" Jenn exclaimed, admiring her view of the bride. Heather was now completely dolled up-her hair was done, her nails were painted, and her dress was on. She looked exquisite.
"You look perfect." Kathryn breathed, stepping forward to give her friend a hug.
"After all I've been put through these past 2 weeks, I deserve to!" Heather exclaimed in a pout. She was unable to keep a smile off her face for too long, however, for even she couldn't deny that she looked immaculate.
"Oh, Heath….c'mere." Lena grinned as she gave her friend a big hug. Allison followed suit.
Last was Jenn, who Heather gave an extremely huge hug to. "I don't know where I'd be right now without you around these past couple of days. Thank you. You're like the little sister Sirius never came out as."
Jenn smiled happily as she embraced her sister-in-law to be. "Any time."
Heather turned to look at herself one last time in the mirror before heading out of her room. She turned and gasped.
The bridesmaids all exchanged looks.
"I-I'm showing." Heather cried out desperately, her eyes wide and horrified. Indeed, Heather's reflection in the mirror was that of a pregnant bride in her 8th month. Before Heather could reach down to grasp at her stomach, there was a loud popping sound, and then sparkling white words appeared in mid-air before the bride.
Gotcha. Love ya, Heather.
-Your bridal party-
The girls grinned madly at Heather as her mouth dropped open in shock.
"Oh, I'm going to kill you."
"Now, that beat anything Sirius has ever done." Jenn managed to get out between laughs.
"..and after what you've put us through with your antics, we deserved to have a little fun with you!" Kathryn exclaimed, as the others continued to laugh.
"Oh, laugh it up…but, I am really going to kill you." Heather tried to give them a stern look, but failed miserably. Finally, she just gave in and joined the laughter.
Even though things during the past 2 weeks had been insanely hectic, in the end, everything was going to be just fine.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The wedding reception…
"As the poet Amy Bloom once said, marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner. As a testament to that wise saying, I'd like to announce that I have chosen my partner for the very first dance of the evening, and for that matter, every dance that I'll ever dance for the rest of my life, and I truly believe that I couldn't have found a more amazing person. This woman completes me in every way possible. She was meant for me, I know that, because there is no one on this planet who makes me feel the way she does just by…looking into my eyes. Without her, I don't know where I'd be-she makes my life into a story that I can't wait to find out the ending to. Heather, darling, I love you not only for what you are, but what I am when I am with you. When I look into your eyes I see a reflection of myself staring back at me—a person that I can only be when I am in your heart..when your love is the light that guides me through life. Nothing would make me happier right now than if you would join me in our first dance together as husband and wife. I know I've made the right choice, now I'd like to show you that you did, also."
Everyone watched in awe as Heather and Zach engaged in the first dance of the evening. Spirits were high and everyone was simply beaming.
A few dances later, everyone was on the dance floor. Not a person could be spotted who wasn't having a marvelous time. Zach and Heather were now seated up at the bridal table, feeding each other cake and gazing lovingly into each other's eyes, probably thinking about the secret that they shared with only a select few. Meanwhile, Lily had gathered all of her friends into a picture. As Mrs. Black fiddled with the camera, the group talked.
"You know I can't believe this whole experience is over. I've had the time of my life here." Sirius commented honestly. It was obvious that everyone agreed with him.
"You know when I first proposed the idea of spring break..it was because I wanted..you know like a 'spring fling kinda thing'. I got something much better than that, though. I got the memory of being part of this amazing milestone. Not to be all mushy, but I'm glad I spent this spring break with you guys." Lily gushed, smiling warmly at all her friends.
"Lily, dear, one minute. This camera really is a tricky little object." Mrs. Black remarked.
Taking the advantage of time, Sirius passed out everyone's champagne glasses from their nearby table.
"I'd like to propose a toast." He cleared his throat importantly.
"May the ones we gained or strengthened here last forever." Jenn added in with a grin.
"To friendship." Everyone echoed, raising their glasses.
It was then that the camera clicked, capturing the memory of the 10 friends toasting their incredible bond.
Yes, that is the story of Hogwarts's first spring break. A memory that would forever be cherished by a set of friends who came together during one amazing vacation. It was a memory that would never die in the minds of those 10 friends. Then, capturing it all, there was the single photograph that expressed everything they felt during that incredible experience. Joy. Excitement. Eagerness. Love. A photograph that to this day still exists, lying somewhere in the middle of Harry Potter's beloved photo album.
To be continued in a presently untitled sequel…
Author's*Note- I finished a story, I finished a story, I finished a story. Wow…I really can't even believe it. Oh, and I wanted to tell you guys that I might end up editing this story for a final revision before I start the sequel.
Thank you to all my reviewers. Happy New Year, guys. Thanks for sticking around through this entire story. I know I said that I'd do individual messages, but A LOT of you guys reviewed the last chapter (trust me, though, that's not a bad thing) and it's kind of late at the moment and well……I'm tired out! I really truly do appreciate all of you, though. I'd be honored to see you all join me for the sequel. Once again, thanks so much! I love you guys! Ok, I'll stop ranting now so you can go *review* the final ASFKT chapter…hint, hint!