Please note the world of Harry Potter belongs to JKR. I'm only playing with her creation. Also the story image was a free download I found. Thank you to whomever it belongs. I will remove it immediately if asked.
As with all my older works this is being posted from my old site to help tide people over till my new works are ready. I would say this story represents a clear step forward in my writing. It is better structured and is much better at getting my point across than any of my other old works. It still has a number of things I would do differently if I were to write it now, but again I am past the point of editing these old works. Still I hope you all find it enjoyable to read and I hope it is worth a review or two from you. Because while your thoughts won't help this work, they will help my next works. I thereby challenge anyone who reads, like it or loath it, to leave a review. I will do my best to respond to all signed reviews.
Also, I'm perfectly aware that with the title of the story and a quick google search you can find the whole thing. Certainly I can't stop you from doing so. Just know that I while I have not taken my works down from the old site, I no longer check anything there. If you want an answer to a question you're going to have to contact me here.
Hope you like it.
I suppose I should have expected this as my old work is going up. It was a very different life and more than five years since I said I was done with fan fiction. Now I'm back writing again. I'm on a new site with a new penname. A simple google search of the titles of my old work will direct you to mugglenet and the penname of huskers. So, I might as well say that yes, I use to post on mugglenet under the penname of huskers. Please read the bio there that directs you to find any new work as well as my old work here under the new penname of Sorcerer's Muse. Yes, I am one in the same. If you have any doubts that I am the same person and that all the work posted here is indeed mine, please go to mugglenet. Look up huskers' page and send an email with an appropriate code word of your choosing. I will then post that code word on my profile here to prove that I am the same person. Note, I will not post anything vulgar or inappropriate.
As always, thank you for reading my work.
And one more: When trying to hide from the past, it just seems natural to me for Harry to use the name James Black. Hiding is one thing. Completely dishonoring his parents and Sirius is altogether another.
Chapter 13: March 2021
Stephanie had wanted her wedding to take place at the lodge. In order to facilitate that, Harry and Ginny had rented out every one of the lodge's cabins and rooms. Harry had performed some kind of a charm on the staff at the lodge and they had all decided they needed a week off at the same time. Only Bill and his wife, Maggie, as they both knew about the magic world already, had stayed to run the place.
While Harry and Bill, despite all of Arthur Weasley's help, had managed to keep the rest of the lodge from falling down, Maggie and Molly had effortlessly bonded in the kitchen. Using a combination of magic from Molly and Maggie's Muggle kitchen appliances, they had easily kept up with the demands of feeding the small army of guests that had been arriving throughout the week.
Now, Arthur Weasley tagged happily along behind Bill, asking question after question about all the Muggle items in the kitchen of the lodge.
"Don't touch that!" Bill yelped when Arthur's hand moved inspect the beaters of the giant mixer. A second later the mixer started up and Arthur swallowed hard as he realized what had almost become of his fingers.
"I never realized how dangerous some of this Muggle stuff was," Arthur muttered.
"It's not dangerous," Bill replied patting his new friend on the back. "You're just too curious for your own good."
"Now you sound like my wife," Arthur replied with a laugh.
"To tell you the truth," Bill said under his breath, "if Maggie catches me in here I'll never hear the end of it. She'll blame me for messing up the wedding cake. And not only was it finished yesterday, I haven't been within 20 feet of the thing."
"Molly usually chases me out of out of our kitchen too, says I cause the biscuits to come out bitter if I try to help her."
"Well then, before we both get in trouble, let's get out of here."
Arthur chuckled appreciatively at the similarities between himself and Bill as he followed him out of the kitchen into the dinning hall. The two of them moved across the hall to where Harry and Ron were trying to corral Ron's youngest son, Michael, and feed Harry's daughter, Hermione.
"I thought the idea was to get her to eat it," Bill laughed as Hermione spit out the mouthful that Harry had just given her.
"Grampa!" Michael shouted with glee, darting out of Ron's reach and bolting to Arthur.
"She hates peas," Harry said to Bill. "I don't know what Gin was thinking bringing this, but it's all that's in the bag."
"Why don't you just apparate home and get something else?" Bill asked as Harry attempted to get Hermione to take another spoonful.
"Can't, the wards I set around this place to keep people out, also keep people in."
"Here, give me that," Bill said taking the spoon and jar of baby peas from Harry. "Come on, Hermione, take a bite for Grampa Bill."
"She won't take it, Bill," Harry said.
Hermione made a face at Harry, smiled at Bill and opened her mouth to take the spoon that Bill offered.
"Seems like she'll take it just fine," Bill retorted spooning up another mouthful for the infant.
"Guess she likes Bill more than you, Harry," Ron said giving Harry a shove.
"She's only taking it because she knows Bill will give her a cookie after she's done," Harry grumped.
"Why don't you two go see how Stephanie is, James? Arthur and I seem to be having better luck with these two than either of you anyways."
"That sounds like a good idea. Leave a couple of old men alone with the little ones for a bit, why don't you?" Arthur added.
Harry glanced at Ron who shrugged in reply. "I think we're being dismissed," Ron said. "Though I'm leaving you to check on Stephanie, I have no desire to enter that little corner of the world at this particular time."
"Coward," Harry retorted.
"Yep," Ron said heading off to where Fred and George were putting up more candles.
Harry eyed them warily and said, "Make sure those two aren't up to anything, will you, Ron?"
"That was the general idea," Ron answered.
Harry rapped softly on the door to Bill's office. "Gin?" he called.
"Harry, is that you?" came the exasperated reply.
"Can I come in?"
A moment later the door to the office opened, and a harried looking Ginny along with an equally agitated Hermione exited the room. "I'm glad you're here," Ginny gushed. "Go see if you can get her to calm down. She's driving us batty."
"Batty? More like insane," Hermione quipped.
"I can hear you, you know," Stephanie called from inside the room.
"You didn't leave Ron with both Michael and Hermione did you?" Ginny asked ignoring her oldest daughter.
"Actually, they're with Bill and your father. Ron is minding your brothers."
Stephanie suddenly appeared in the doorway of the office. Wagging her finger at Hermione she said, "You go tell those feather-brained gits that if there is so much as one, I repeat one, Canary Cream or any other product of their creation at my wedding, that a once a month, nasty, itchy rash covering their private regions will be the least of their problems."
Harry, and Ginny eyed Stephanie curiously, while Hermione gaped at her.
"What?" she snapped.
"How do you know about that?" Hermione demanded.
"So they have sought outside help," Stephanie said.
"Their case has made its way through some of the departments at St. Mungoe's," Hermione replied with a slight grin starting to cross her features. "The head of the Reversal of Magical Mistakes Department showed it to me about a month ago. I chalked it up to a culmination of a lifetime of experiments gone wrong, and if they were lucky it would wear off given enough time."
"You hexed my brothers? When?" Ginny asked, her eyes glinting with amusement.
"It was just after I graduated. I was in a bad mood one day, and they wouldn't give up on the once a month comments; and it's not exactly a hex."
"And shortly after that they developed their own once a month issue?" Harry asked laughing out loud.
"Right," Stephanie answered.
"What did you do?" Hermione asked a gleeful smile on her face. She had been the victim of one too many pranks by the twins to feel sorry for them.
"On no, I'm not telling anyone. You just go tell them no pranks, jokes, or any of their products at my wedding and no more itching."
"So the wedding is back on then?" Ginny asked after she stopped laughing.
"What do you mean back on?" Harry asked.
"Of course the wedding is on, when was it ever off?" Stephanie asked.
"Not five minutes ago, you were ranting about canceling the whole thing," Ginny retorted.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Stephanie said.
Hermione and Ginny both rolled their eyes at her. "See," Ginny said to Harry.
"Batty," Hermione said.
"Insane," Ginny replied. "We're going to leave you with her," she added to Harry.
Hermione grabbed Ginny's hand and started to lead her away. "Come on, we need to get the mother-of-the-bride to her seat, and I want to see the look on the twins' faces when we tell them we know how they can get rid of their little problem. "You need to walk her down the isle in less than twenty minutes, Harry. See that you're not late," Hermione called over her shoulder as she and Ginny turned the corner.
Harry turned to Stephanie. "Off?" he asked.
Stephanie's face turned white. "I can't be getting married," she moaned.
Harry blinked. "Erm… You are though… Aren't you?"
"Yes! No!.. Oh, I don't know," Stephanie cried in frustration.
Harry pushed Stephanie into the office and closed the door. "What's going on, Steph?"
Stephanie simply moved into his arms and sagged against him. Harry wrapped his arms around her while her body trembled. "How do you know, Harry?" she asked after a few minutes.
"Know what, Steph?"
"Know if it's the right person?"
Harry pushed her back and looked down into her upturned face. "Shouldn't you have asked yourself that before you said yes?"
"I did, but now I'm not so sure," Stephanie replied in exasperation. "What if he leaves, or cheats, or I meet someone new after we're married that I like more?"
"All those things could happen, Steph."
"You're not helping, Harry," Stephanie replied throwing her hands up in the air.
"I'm telling you the truth."
"I want to hear that everything is going to be ok."
Harry sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "I'm not going to lie to you, Steph. Look at me and your mother."
"Exactly!" Stephanie said.
"Yes, exactly," Harry replied leveling his gaze on her.
"What do you mean?" she asked after a moment.
"Do you love David?"
"Yes, of course I love him."
"He's the man of your dreams?"
"Yes, he is," Stephanie smiled happily.
"Dreams are not always happy, Steph. Your mother is the woman of my dreams, both good and bad. She populates my worst nightmares both real and fabricated. The fact is, despite everything we have been through, she trusts me, I trust her, and… we love each other. To hold her now, I'm willing to deal with anything that she might do in the future that could hurt me.
"The sooner you accept that David, and for that matter no one, is perfect. That it is almost inevitable that he will do something, someday, that hurts you and that you will likely do the same to him, the better off you and your marriage will be. It doesn't have to be an affair, or something major like what happened between your mother and I.
"Someday, he will forget your anniversary and you will forget his birthday, life is difficult, mistakes are made; all you can really do is apologize and hope for forgiveness. That's what a marriage is, Steph. If you're waiting for something to tell you your life with David is going to be perfect, then you may as well call it off, because you will wait until the day you're body is laid into the ground. But, you will have lost everything in the process."
Stephanie didn't reply right away, but sat down in the chair and contemplated his answer before she said, "You wouldn't change anything between you and Mum, would you?" she asked softly.
"I have some regrets; there are some things that I sometimes wish had been different. But no, I wouldn't change things. I love your mother, more today than I ever have in the past. I'm not interested in knowing the Ginny who didn't, at one time, leave me, nor am I interested in being the Harry who somehow managed to wake from the coma he was in after only a few weeks instead of nine years. I'll never know, but perhaps those two people did something to each other later in life that was much worse than what we did do to each other."
Again Stephanie thought about what Harry had said before she asked, "What did you ever do to Mum?"
"I'm not sure I can really explain that, Steph. It's easy to see what your mother did to me; it's much harder to see what I did to her."
"Try, Harry… For me."
Harry sighed and walked over to the window where he stared out it while he thought about his answer. "After your father died, your mother really had no one to turn to for comfort. Her family was there, but not like she needed, and she knew they wouldn't be until she made amends for shutting them out. She also knew, that before they would truly accept her apology, she had to make some kind of peace with me.
"I knew your mother was looking for me long before she found me. I knew how much she was hurting. I knew she didn't expect or even hope that I would forgive her, but I couldn't see past my own anger and pride to even let her say she was sorry. I made her wait years before I allowed her to apologize.
"For a time, I reveled in her pain, because I wanted her to feel what I had felt, to understand the pain she had inflicted on me. But in the end, I understood that she had known all along and that my actions were only hurting her and myself more. I wasted years that we could have been together. I wasted years that I could have known you.
"Some people would say I could hardly be blamed for acting the way I did. And the truth is, we wouldn't be where we are now if I had acted differently, but the fact is that my actions hurt her," Harry paused and turned from the window to face Stephanie before he finished.
"You ask if I could change anything, and the things I would most like to change are my own actions, things I did to hurt your mother, not things she did that hurt me. But even those things, I can't change, wouldn't change; because then, neither of us is, who we are now. And I like who we are now. I have a beautiful wife; together we have a beautiful daughter." Harry crossed the floor and stood in front of Stephanie; reaching out with his hand, he brushed her cheek with the pad of his thumb. "I have you in my life, and I love all three of you more than you will ever know."
Stephanie reached up and placed her hand on Harry's, nuzzling her cheek against his palm. "Thank you, Harry,"
Harry smiled down at her and moved his hand to brush a tear from her face. "So the wedding is on?"
"It's time then."
Stephanie took a deep breath and stood up. "Hold me for just a minute first?" she asked.
Harry pulled her close and wrapped her gently in his arms. "You know you can always come to me, Steph."
"Yes, but this is the last time that you or Mum will be my first choice."
There was a soft knock as the door to the office cracked open "Stephanie?" Ginny's voice said quietly.
"Come in, Mum."
Ginny opened the door and stepped into the room. "I'm not interrupting am I?"
Stephanie pulled away from Harry and moved to embrace her mother. "No, Mum, I'm glad you're here."
Ginny squeezed Stephanie tight for a moment before pushing her away slightly. "It's time, baby."
"I know, you hate that name," Ginny interrupted.
"Please don't ever stop calling me that."
"Never, baby," Ginny replied pulling Stephanie tight again.
Harry walked down the aisle with Stephanie on his arm; coming to a stop a few feet from David and Bill. He glanced at David who could only stare at Stephanie in awe and smiled to himself before turning his attention to Bill.
"Who gives this woman to be wed this day?" Bill called into the hall.
Before Harry could reply, Stephanie put her hand over his mouth and the pulled him down to whisper in his ear. Harry pulled away slightly, his eyes wide and questioning. "Please?" Stephanie asked him.
Harry glanced at Ginny who gave him a questioning look and then back to Stephanie. Taking a deep breath, he answered, "Her mother and her father do."
Well, that's it, the last of my old works. Next up, the story I've been promising you all for months now. Hope you like it as much as you have liked everything else.