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If anyone deserved sunshine on her wedding day, it was her, but it rained all day. It didn’t matter. The enchanted lights under the marquee sparkled over Ollie’s dress and caught in the tiara her new Weasley relatives had leant her for the day. Beside her, Albus’s smile was so bright that it made up for the lack of sunshine.

The rain beat down on the magical, transparent sides of the tent, but the string quartet had been loud enough to drown it out. And now, as Ollie and Albus said their vows, the gathering around them were so quiet that the rain didn’t matter.

I kept rubbing my eyes, trying not to cry as I watched them. I was sitting completely by myself - everyone else I knew was part of the wedding party - and I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

“I, Albus,” Al said, eyes glittering. “Do pledge to you, Olivia, my heart, to hold on to for as long as I live. I’m yours, Liv. All of me. I promise always to listen to you and to learn from you, and to do what you tell me to because you’re almost always right.”

Ollie laughed and reached out to him. He folded his fingers through hers and continued.

“I will do everything in my power to make you happy,” he said. “I really will. Because when you’re happy the whole world feels better. And I will hold you and comfort you and care for you, and protect you the way I know you’ll always protect me. We don’t know what’s going to come next. We’ve already had our fair share of difficulty, and you can’t grow up part of my family and not see how fragile things are. But I’m not worried. I know that whatever happens next, whatever life brings us, I will love you and will always have faith in your love for me. I will adore you for all the days of my life.”

James stood next to his brother. He had tears in his eyes and patted Al’s back when he finished speaking. Everyone was silent. Al had always been good at being open and clear, but I’d never heard him speak so beautifully before.

Ollie beamed and took his other hand as well.

“Well,” she said breathily. “I don’t know that I can put my feelings as eloquently as you just did. I’m better at pictures than words, really. But ever since I met you my pictures have been a little bit brighter. You’ve filled my world with colours I never knew I could see, and you’ve helped me become somebody I didn’t know I could be.”

She turned her head to smile at Jason, who was stood near Albus, beside James. He gave her a supportive smile and bowed his head.

“You’re my family,” Ollie continued. “You’ve been my family since we were sixteen years old. I promise that I will cherish our love and that we’ll paint a beautiful life together.”

She laughed and her cheeks flushed.

“I’m sorry,” she said to the room. “I’m painfully aware that I sound like a cheesy greetings card. But I really do mean every word.”

She looked back at Al and reached up to stroke his cheek.

“I love you, Al. With my whole heart. And I always will.”

The rest of the ceremony moved quickly and before I knew it we were up out of our seats and a golden dancefloor had flowed out from the middle of the marquee. Smaller, round tables with white table cloths were spread around the edges of the dancefloor, already set for dinner.

It took me a while to find my seat. I wasn’t at the main table with Ollie, which I’d been expecting, but I instead ended up next to Lucy Weasley. She beamed when I sat down. Her eyes were red.

“My bloody cousin and his beautiful vows,” she explained, gesturing to her smudged make up. “I never realised he was capable of that kind of adorableness.”

“At least you have other cousins to lower the tone,” I consoled her.

Lucy cackled. “Yep. Louis’s already had a drink poured over him today. If the romance gets too much for me I’ll just wheel myself over to him for some comedy.”

We chatted through dinner and I was surprised by how easy it felt to talk to her. I’d hardly known Lucy until a few days ago, but I found myself enjoying her company. It felt like I’d known her much longer.

We stopped talking as Louis stood up, clinking two champagne glasses together to get our attention. The sun was setting and the sky glowed orange through the transparent marquee, bathing Louis in warm golden light as he started to speak.

“Evening all,” Louis said. “As best man it is my great honour to stand up here and try to embarrass my favourite person in the world: my beloved cousin Albus Potter.”

He waited for the nervous laughter to stop. Al was frowning at him but Ollie looked delighted.

Louis shook his head. “I’ve tried to write this speech so many times. I had this amazing vision of standing up here and telling you hundreds of stories to embarrass Al in front of everyone he knows and make Liv doubt her life choices. I have four different drafts saved in my desk at home. And my cousins can testify to the fact I’ve been traipsing around trying to collect stories for months.”

Lucy laughed. “It’s been completely stressing him out,” she whispered.

“But I just can’t do it,” Louis said. “Every time I’ve tried to write it it’s become more obvious that it wasn’t going to work. So I tried to figure out why that was. I thought that maybe it’s because Al hasn’t done enough embarrassing stuff. He’s a pretty decent bloke all round and I figured he probably didn’t have the regrettable history of the likes of some of our family members like, well, his brother. Or myself.”

He gave a self deprecating smile and I could pretty much hear the dreamy sighs of several female wedding guests.

“But then I realised that couldn’t be the problem,” Louis continued. “Because he’s been best friends with me for his whole life. And I’m what my friends’ parents have always liked to refer to as a bad influence. So, yeah, Al might have always had a pretty good moral compass, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been dragged into his share of mortification.”

“He’s good at this,” I murmured to Lucy.

“Oh, you know Louis,” she said. “Loves his moment in the spotlight.”

“But then I realised what the real issue was,” Louis admitted. “And it’s not that I couldn’t write a speech for the sole purpose of embarrassing Al. It’s that I shouldn’t. And I don’t want to. Because today is so special and trying to use my speech to get some cheap laughs wouldn’t be doing it justice.

“The things is...Al and Liv are amazing. There’s really no other word for them. I used to always joke that I’d sabotage any relationship Al had because I wanted to keep him all to myself, but the minute he met Liv it was obvious that it wouldn’t work even if I tried. They smile literally any time the other one is near, but they somehow manage not to be obnoxious about it. They make each other happier than anyone else ever could, but they’re still the best friends I could ask for. I’ve never really wanted a relationship and I don’t think I’d be very good at it, but I think I’d give it a go if I knew it would be like theirs. I know how happy they’re going to be and how successful this marriage will be, and I could not be more honoured to be best man.

“So let’s raise our glasses to two of the very finest people this world has to offer: the new Mr and Mrs Potter.”

I stood with the rest of the room and lifted my champagne glass. Louis caught my eye and gave me a wink as he took a sip of his own drink. I lifted my fingers to my eyes and found tears there again. He saw me brush them away and laughed.

Al stood up and pulled Louis into a massive hug. Louis kissed his cheek and then leant down to kiss Ollie where she sat, smothering her cheeks and forehead with kisses. She threw her arms around his shoulders and laughed into him.

I watched them, feeling left out again, but not in a way that felt upsetting. This was her story, not mine, and I’d chosen not to be part of it. I was lucky even to be witnessing it.

When everyone had sat back down again, Jason got to his feet. I watched him with interest. I hadn’t known he’d be making a speech.

He cleared his throat and nervously pushed back his hair. The stage didn’t come as naturally to him as it did to Louis.

“Well,” he said, looking anxiously around the room. “At this point in the evening it would usually fall to the father of the bride to make a speech.”

His eyes rested on Ollie. She gave him an encouraging nod and his expression eased. Suddenly he looked like he knew what he was doing.

“I had the privilege of giving Liv away and, as her father isn’t here today, I wanted to say a few words.”

Ollie smiled and leaned forwards to see Jason more clearly. James, sitting next to Jason, was looking up at his best friend listening intently.

“I thought I might feel sad giving Liv away,” Jason said. “She’s my little cousin, much as she doesn’t like it when I say that, and I thought I’d find it hard watching her grow up and get married. But it wasn’t hard at all. How could it be? She’s just married the love of her life.

“I’ve watched Liv and Al over the years and I can’t help but feel a little jealous. And I’m sure I’m not the only one here who’s felt that way. Liv has found someone who sees all the brilliance in her and enhances it. She and Al have grown up together and have grown together and they’re each so much a part of the other. Al recognises all the beautiful things in Liv - her smiles and her art and her laughter and her kindness and so much more - and I know that he’ll treasure them, and her, forever. Liv and Al are the luckiest, happiest people I know, and I hope that one day I might find a love like theirs.”

It might not have been obvious to anyone else, but I couldn’t help but see the way Jason’s gaze flickered down to James, who was still looking up at him listening. Jason’s eyes rested on his friend for a fraction longer than would have seemed natural, and when he looked back at the room his cheeks were a little flushed. I chewed my lip, skating back through my memories of Jason to check whether the conclusion I’d drawn from this action was correct.

“So,” Jason continued. “I know that fathers of the bride often cry. They give their little girls away and have to come to terms with being left behind by their daughters. To be fair the job was always going to be less heart wrenching for me because, well, when Liv was a little girl I was a little boy there with her, usually trying to push her off her toy broomstick. Her growing up doesn’t hold quite the same emotional significance for me as it could.

“But I think, no, I know, even if I was feeling nostalgic about Liv growing up and letting go of our childhood, I could never feel sad today. I love you, Liv. I’m always here for you, you know that, but I know you’re not going to need me. You’ve found the kind of love most of us can only dream of.”

Ollie stood up and embraced her cousin. She had tears in her eyes again and clung to him. I couldn’t hear her but it was easy to read her lips - I’ll always need you.

When Jason sat back down, he didn’t look at James. His cheeks were still red.

After the speeches, a band somehow materialised on a stage at the edge of the marquee. Ollie and Albus stood up together and we all sat back to watch their first dance.

I was distracted and kept finding my gaze drifting over to Jason instead of fixing on the happy couple. As the music faded and other couples started to join Ollie and Al on the dancefloor, Jason stood up and left the marquee.

I got to my feet as well and followed him out of the tent. He was heading towards the Burrow, probably just wanting to use the bathroom, but I hurried after him, intercepting him before he could enter the house.

“What do you want?” He sounded tired. His voice didn’t have its usual bite.

“You love him,” I said plainly. “You love him. How did I never know?”

“I think you’ll find, Cassandra, that there are lots of things you don’t know.”

“But it’s James. Does he know? Have you told him?”

Jason didn’t reply. He just looked heartbroken.

“How long have you been in love with him?” I couldn’t believe I’d only just noticed. Now that I’d realised it seemed so obvious.

Jason shook his head. “I don’t know. Forever? It feels like forever.”

“No wonder you hate me,” I muttered.

He sighed. “I don’t hate you, Cass. I just...you’re no good for him. You know that. Look at Al and Liv. James deserves that.”

“And he’d have that with you?”

Jason shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t know if he’d want it. But he’s never had it with you.”

“Do you think he ever could?”

“Have a relationship like Al and Liv? With you? I think he wants to,” Jason said bitterly. “Hell, he obviously wants you infinitely more than he wants me. But I don’t know. Maybe you could do it. You’re the one that keeps sabotaging your chances.”

“I know,” I whispered. “I’m sorry.”

He shrugged again. “I’m not the one you should be apologising to.”

“But you love him. Surely that changes things?”

“I don’t see why it should. I’ve always loved him. It’s never made any difference so far.”

“But maybe it should.”

Jason laughed and shook his head. All his happiness from a few moments ago had dissipated into the evening air. I felt cruel for bringing up something painful on a day that had been making him so happy.

“You really do love him,” I said again. “Don’t you?”

Jason just sighed and walked away, shoulders hunched over. I watched him enter the house. He didn’t look back at me.

When I returned to the marquee, almost everybody was dancing. Ollie was still wrapped up in Al. I waved at her but didn’t try to go to her. It wouldn’t be fair to interrupt. I weaved around the dancefloor, vaguely thinking of trying to find Louis for a dance, but I was stopped by a tap on my shoulder.

I turned, knowing who it would be, but still drew in a sharp breath when I found James looking down at me. He was handsome in his black dress robes, standing tall and looking more relaxed than I’d seen him recently. If I ignored the empty sleeve where his left arm should be, he could almost be the same man I’d run away from years before.

He held out his remaining hand and gave a little shrug. He looked endearingly self conscious.

“Cass,” he breathed. “Would you like to dance?”

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