Chapter 24- Wedding Bells
18 Months Later…
The church buzzed with excited guests, all eagerly awaiting the ceremony that would unite Charlie Weasley and Hermione Granger in marriage. In attendance were family members of the bride and groom, old school mates, Charlie’s fellow dragon trainers, and Hermione’s co-workers at the Ministry. However, the only people currently in Hermione’s presence were her mother and Molly Weasley. Tucked away in an upstairs corner room of the church, the two women fussed over Hermione’s dress, making sure the lacy skirt contained just the right amount of fluff. Each mother also took turns crying and smiling and crying some more.
When Mrs. Granger noticed the far-off look in her daughter’s eyes, she became worried and asked, “Is something wrong, dear?”
Hermione quickly shook her head and assured the now alert Mrs. Weasley (who had immediately begun imploring whether Hermione wanted to cancel the wedding) that it had nothing to do with Charlie. “I’m ok, Mum,” she answered. “Molly?”
Mrs. Weasley looked up from the jewelry box she was rummaging through and looked at her expectantly.
“Is he here?” Hermione asked.
Mrs. Weasley swallowed hard. “Well, I know he said he would be here, and of course I haven’t been downstairs with the others… I’m positive he’ll make it. Don’t you worry,” she said, trying to keep her soon-to-be daughter-in-law happy.
Hermione looked back to the mirror to examine her make-up and make sure that every shiny curl was in place, either pinned atop her head with a diamond-studded clip or hanging in perfect ringlets around her face. Her strapless white dress was trimmed at the top with tiny diamonds and equally small silver beads, and the intricate embroidery wove itself into patterns of swirls. But still, as breathtakingly beautiful as Hermione looked and felt, something was still missing. As she searched her mind for the answer, a knock tapped lightly on the door.
Mrs. Granger peaked out through a crack in the door and greeted Charlie Weasley. Mrs. Weasley jumped to her feet to reprimand her son for trying to catch a glimpse of his bride before the wedding.
“Shoo! It’s bad luck!”
“Oh, hogwash, Mother. I really need to talk to her.”
Hermione listened to the conversation from her chair and tried to assure Mrs. Weasley that she didn’t mind if Charlie came in to talk. The redhead witch muttered to herself for a bit but then reluctantly left the room alongside Mrs. Granger.
Charlie looked very polished in his tuxedo, and Hermione thought he’d never looked more handsome (except perhaps when he was in his Quidditch robes). His eyes nearly fell out of his head when he saw his bride in all her glory. But as radiant as she looked, he could tell that something bothered her. Crossing the room, Charlie stood behind the sitting woman and laid his hands on her smooth shoulders; both of them stared at each other’s reflections in the mirror, enjoying this moment of peace amongst the hustle and bustle of wedding excitement.
“You’re so gorgeous, Hermione,” Charlie said as he stroked her arms and shoulders. She smiled in response and reached her arm up to place one on his. Charlie’s other hand continued to caress her skin up to her neck. Hermione closed her eyes and relaxed into him. “I think it could use a bit more, though,” he said contemplatively.
Hermione cocked her head to the side, wondering what on earth Charlie was on about.
Then, Charlie reached into his pocket and brought out a silver necklace with a Gryffindor pendant. “You left this on the dresser this morning, love,” he said, while fastening it around her neck and kissing the spot where it rested on her skin.
She’d left it on purpose, actually, because she thought that wearing a gift that Ron gave her on the day of her marriage to Charlie would somehow be inappropriate. But Charlie knew how much the necklace meant to her (she wore the thing every day since they’d started dating over a year and a half ago) and didn’t want her to be without it on what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life.
Hermione had tears in her eyes as she stared at herself in the mirror, wearing one of her most prized possessions. She mouthed, “Thank you” and proceeded to wipe her moist cheek with the back of her hand. Charlie walked around in front of her and knelt down, pushing a curl back from her face and smiling. “So we all set now?” he asked.
“All set. I love you,” Hermione answered and leaned forward to give her groom a passionate kiss. “I love you so much.”
“I love you, too, but we’d better save that for the ceremony,” Charlie laughed.
“Or how about the honeymoon?”
With an enthusiastic nod, Charlie agreed. “You make an excellent point. Well, I’d better be off. I’m sure Mum’s still in a huff about me seeing you right now.”
“Oh, she’ll get over it,” Hermione assured. “Just give me one more kiss and then you can leave.”
After a quick kiss, Charlie floated out of the room and met his mother and Mrs. Granger out in the hallway. “Hello, Mum… Mum,” Charlie grinned. Mrs. Granger gave him and equally sweet smile in return.
“What was the meaning of that, mister?” Mrs. Weasley demanded.
“Nothing you need to worry about. Everything’s fine.”
“So the wedding’s still on, then?”
“Well, of course! What on earth would make you think it wasn’t?”
Mrs. Weasley faltered. “Well… I don’t know. Just, Hermione seemed a bit distracted earlier. I wasn’t sure if you two had had a row or…”
“Oh, Mum, you worry too much. I know what was bothering her, but it’s taken care of now.”
Both women turned to each other and expressed their relief.
“All right, I’m going down. Talk to you at the reception!” Charlie beamed and kissed his mother and Mrs. Granger on the cheek before bounding down the spiral staircase that would lead him to the sanctuary.
The music in the background signaled the congregation to stand; all heads turned to the back of the church to watch Hermione stride down the aisle on the arm of her father. She quickly scanned the congregation and searched the sea of redheads for one in particular. Unfortunately the aisle was much too short to do any good at locating her best friend, so Hermione gave it up to focus on the ceremony.
Mr. Granger kissed his daughter on the cheek before handing her off to Charlie, who took her small hand in his and led her up the stairs to the altar where the jovial preacher awaited them. Ginny, the maid of honor, stood to the left of Hermione and tried with all her might to keep from giggling as she saw her brother and her friend eyeing each other. Her face was red as a tomato from her efforts and her cheeks ached from smiling so widely. Charlie’s best man was one of his closest old school chums, as it would have been too hard to choose one of his five brothers to do the job.
Throughout the ceremony, Hermione could still hardly believe she was there. Everything had seemed like a dream when it first started: the walks in the woods, the Christmas confessions, and her first time with Charlie. Nothing had ever come to her so easily before. There was always some drama with her friends or parents, and even grades in school had come from much effort. But this was different, somehow. Of course, the actual relationship wasn’t all that easy compared to how natural the romantic feelings grew, since she nearly lost her best friend in the process. Still, even in the midst of a rocky friendship with Ron, loving Charlie always felt right.
While reminiscing on everything that had happened in the past two years of her life, Hermione lost track of the progression and was called back to reality by a slight nudge in the side from Ginny. She blushed a bit from embarrassment, but Charlie just smiled at her. They said their “I do’s” and Charlie took her hand to slip on a silver band embedded with three small diamonds. After a soft, sweet kiss, the preacher proclaimed them husband and wife to the delighted congregation.
“I now introduce Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Weasley!” the preacher announced.
The guests rose from their chairs and clapped and hugged (the mothers were crying, naturally, and even the fathers’ eyes looked misty). Hermione and Charlie milled around the church a bit after taking pictures to talk before heading out to the reception.
“So, Mrs. Granger-Weasley, quite perfect, wasn’t it?” Charlie asked, while wrapping his arms around her waist.
Hermione shook her head. “No ‘Granger’. Just ‘Mrs. Weasley’, if you don’t mind,” she said, before kissing him on the cheek.
Charlie gaped at her with a goofy grin on his face. “Are you serious? I thought you’d want…”
“Sweetheart, I’ve waited long enough to become a Weasley, so I’m going to take advantage of it!”
“I love you.”
“Well, I should hope so!” Hermione laughed. “You married me!”
“Yeah, I did. Bloody fantastic move, too.”
“I love you, Charlie.”
Moments later the newlyweds walked into a large reception area where friends and family eagerly awaited their arrival. Mrs. Granger immediately ran to her daughter to hug and fawn over her, and Mrs. Weasley soon after did the same. It was all “Oh, my baby’s married!” and “I know you’ll both be so happy!”
Everyone took their seats around several tables will full place settings for every guest. A posh Muggle restaurant that Hermione was particularly fond of had catered the delectable meal (neither her nor Charlie’s mother objected, as it saved them from having to do any of the cooking). As the dinner came to an end, Charlie’s best man clinked his fork on the side of his wine glass and called for attention.
“Good evening, everyone. I know it’s customary for the best man to give the speech, but I know someone else who’d like to say a few words.” He then motioned to one of the lower tables where the whole of the Weasley family sat, pointing straight at Ron.
Hermione’s heart leapt when she caught sight of him, but she thought Charlie could have looked a little more surprised than he did. Ron must have slipped in without her noticing. The hall was quiet as Ron stood up and cleared his throat.
“Unlike many of you, I’ve had the privilege to know both the bride and groom equally well. Growing up, Charlie and I always got on great—well, as great as two brothers can,” Ron said, eliciting a laugh from the crowd. “He was always a good guy, the type of person I could go to if I needed anything. That’s why, when he started dating my best friend over a year ago, there was no way I could object. Harry—God, rest him—Hermione, and I were thick as thieves back at Hogwarts. We did everything together. Things have changed a bit now, but Hermione and I remain close friends, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her—including roughing up any bloke she tried to date who wasn’t worthy of her.”
Mrs. Weasley scolded her son under her breath and Hermione suppressed a smile while mouthing, “Oh, Ronald!” But Ron continued as if he hadn’t seen or heard either of them.
“Needless to say, I couldn’t think of any man more worthy to marry my best friend than my brother, Charlie. And there’s also no woman more perfect for Charlie, either. I hope you’ll join me in wishing them the best of luck and happiness in their marriage.” Ron raised his glass and said, “To Charlie and Hermione!”
The room erupted with the slightly off responses from every mouth saying in return, “To Charlie and Hermione!”
Hermione’s eyes had teared up as she smiled at Ron, and Charlie led her to the floor where they would have their first dance as husband and wife. She wrapped her hands around the back of Charlie’s neck as they swayed gently to the music and whispered in each other’s ears. Soon others had joined them of the dance floor; Charlie directed Hermione’s line of sight over to where Ron had taken Luna by the hand to dance.
After a while longer of dancing and kissing, Hermione felt a hand on her shoulder. “Can I cut in?” the voice asked. She turned to find Ron, dressed in a stately suit and tie, holding his hand out for Hermione to take.
“You don’t mind, do you, Charlie?” she asked.
“I’d be disappointed if you didn’t dance with my kid brother,” he assured.
“Hey!” Ron retorted. “I’m not a kid, thank you very much.”
Charlie pointed to where he’d be when she wanted to find him again and headed off. Ron and Hermione fell into rhythm with the music.
“I was afraid you wouldn’t make it,” Hermione confessed.
“And miss my best friend’s wedding? Not a chance. I just had to pick up Luna, and that took a little longer than I expected. Didn’t miss anything, though,” he answered.
Hermione raised her eyebrow at him. “So, Luna is like…your date?” she teased.
“Well… Technically, no, since she was already invited. I just ran into her about a month ago in Diagon Alley, we got to talking, and thought it might be fun to come to the wedding together.”
“Oh, I see. Very lucky that you happened to run into her, then?” she said, with a hint of knowing in her voice. Harry would have loved this….
“Yeah. We’ve been having a pretty good time so far. Hey, do you think we could go somewhere for a while? It’s sort of hard to talk in here.”
Standing on her toes, Hermione scanned the room for her husband. When she saw him twirling Ginny round in circles, she knew he’d be ok for a few more minutes. It was terribly sad about Harry, and Ginny even still wore the ring he’d given her at the end of her sixth year, so it did her heartache well to have a little fun with her brother.
Ron took Hermione by the hand and they walked out into the garden behind the church. “You really look incredible, Hermione,” Ron said sincerely. “I’m happy that everything worked out for you and Charlie. Really, I am.”
Hermione hugged him and kissed his cheek.
“Wish Harry could be here to see you. But you know you always have me, right? No matter what happens, we’ll still be friends.”
“Thank you so much, Ron. You have no idea how much that means to me.”
Ron wiped a tear from her cheek before reaching into his inside coat pocket and pulling out a tiny, smooth pebble. He turned it between his fingers a few times before speaking again. “Could you just do one thing for me?”
“Will you hold onto this for me? It might seem a bit weird, but it’s something very special that I want you to have,” Ron said, while placing it in her palm and closing her fingers around it.
Hermione didn’t ask what the purpose or meaning of the rock was. The important thing was that it belonged to Ron and he wanted her to keep it, so she agreed. A comfortable silence now grew between them until Ron spoke again.
“I really miss him,” he said sadly.
“I know.” Hermione placed a hand on his shoulder. “I do, too. How’s Ginny doing?”
“You know as much as I do. She’s holding up all right, I think. It’s not easy to get over losing someone you love. Just takes time, you know.”
“Yeah…” Though Hermione knew Ron was talking about Ginny, she felt an indirect connection to Ron’s own situation of losing her to Charlie.
“Well, I expect the party’s missing its bride. Let’s go back in.”
“And I bet the bride’s best friend is being missed by someone as well…” she teased.
Ron blushed slightly. “Bugger off, ‘Mione,” he grinned.
The party crowd thinned a bit until all that was left were immediate family and a few close friends. Charlie and Hermione made their rounds of goodbyes, making sure to speak to each and every guest and thank them before heading on their way to New Zealand for their honeymoon. The small white purse she carried now held a small brown rock in addition to her lipstick and the day-planner she was never without.
Hermione had indeed waited ages for this day. The future Mrs. Weasley was now the present, and Charlie made sure to dote on her from this day forward. She now had a job, a best friend, and Charlie as her loving husband—finally, everything she had ever wanted.
A/N: Yeah it’s over, and no sequels. I think I’ve pretty much said all I need to say and frankly I don’t really care about their kids (sorry). Just know that they’ll live happily ever after. Questions of how Harry died: the final battle, duh. I’m 100 percent sure he’ll bite it in book 7. Sad, but yeah. Thanks so much to everyone who’s read and reviewed. It means SO SO much to me.
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