The Wills of Marriage

Disclaimer: If I owned Harry Potter…wow…but sadly, this is reality.


Chapter Four – The Wills of Marriage

He was walking along a mountain road in the cool blue light of dawn. Far below, swathed in mist, was the shadow of a small town. Was the man he sought down there, the man he needed so badly he could think of little else, the man who held the answer, the answer to his problem…?

“Oi, wake up.”

Harry opened his eyes. He was lying again on the camp bed in Ron’s dingy attic room. The sun had not yet risen and the room was still shadowy. Pigwidgeon was asleep with his head under his tiny wing. The scar on Harry’s forehead was prickling.

“I was in the middle of a vision,” Harry said as he rubbed at his scar.

“So that’s what that mumbling was,” Ron said. “You said something about Gregorovitch.”

Harry furrowed his brow. “That must be who Voldemort’s going to meet in the vision, then. I guess I should tell Hermione, then. Maybe she might know who that is. He sounds so familiar to me, though…” then a smile came across Harry’s face. “I almost forgot. It’s my birthday!” He reached for his wand and said “Accio wand!” The wand flew into his hand, giving him a feeling that he never felt before pulsing through him. Ron stared at him in disbelief for a moment, but Harry didn’t notice, as he was summoning his glasses.

He continued moving things throughout the room until Ron held out a present for Harry. “Unwrap it up here, it’s not for my mother’s eyes.”

“A book?” said Harry as he took the rectangular parcel. “I never thought I’d see the day.”

“This isn’t your average book,” said Ron. “It’s pure gold: Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches. Explains everything you need to know about girls. If only I’d had this last year I’d have known exactly how to get rid of Lavender and I would’ve known how to get going with…well, Fred and George gave me a copy, and I’ve learned a lot. You’d be surprised; it’s not all about wandwork, either.”

Harry felt a brief pang of guilt, for he had a fair guess on who Ron was about to say. He put himself out of those thoughts. Why should Ron choose? Shouldn’t Hermione? He was determined to let Hermione be the one to choose, not Ron. He followed Ron down stairs.

When they arrived in the kitchen they found a pile of presents waiting on the table. Bill and Monsieur Delacour were finishing their breakfasts, while Mrs. Weasley stood chatting to them over the frying pan.

“Arthur told me to wish you a happy seventeenth, Harry,” said Mrs. Weasley, beaming at him. “He had to leave early for work, but he’ll be back for dinner. That’s our present on top.”

Harry was hugged from behind, and a tender kiss on his cheek proved who it was. Harry noted that her lips were softer than Ginny’s.

“Happy Birthday, Harry!” Hermione said. She pulled out a gift and handed it to Harry.

His cheeks slightly pink, he opened the package to reveal a Sneakoscope. He whispered “Thanks. Merlin knows we’ll need this for a while. How you keep me alive, I don’t know…” He then went to opening the presents, not noticing the blush on Hermione’s cheeks, the narrowed eyes on Ron’s face, and the discomforted look on Molly’s. He contained an enchanted razor from Bill and Fleur (“Ah yes, zis will give you ze smoothest shave you will ever ‘ave,” Monsieur Delacour assured him, “but you must tell it clearly what you want…ozzerwise you might find you ‘ave a leetle less hair zan you would like…”), chocolates from the Delacours, and an enormous box of the latest Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes merchandise from Fred and George.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione did not linger at the table, as the arrival of Madame Delacour, Fleur, and Gabrielle made the kitchen uncomfortably crowded.

“I’ll pack these for you,” Hermione said brightly, taking half Harry’s presents out of his arms as the three of them headed back upstairs. “Thanks for doing the wash for me, Harry, you really are a life-saver—”

Harry’s blushing and response was cut short by the opening of a door on the first-floor landing. “Harry, will you come in here a moment?”

Ron and Hermione came to an abrupt halt, and Hermione looked distinctly uncomfortable. They both slowly walked away as Harry nervously and slowly walked into her room, not making eye contact. He didn’t expect this, not today. He had to do it, now, before she got any ideas. Before he could say anything, Ginny closed the door and spoke first.

“Happy seventeenth.”

Harry looked straight back at her and forcibly smiled. “Thanks. I see you have better taste than Ron,” Harry said as he looked away towards the Holyhead Harpies’ Captain on the poster. He saw that there was a Wizarding picture of him on the quidditch pitch – from his early years, he noted – next to her bedside. He also noted that there was a large crack in the glass. Closer inspection would tell him that the crack was the same shape as a lightning bolt. He put it off as her being mad at him for breaking up with her in the first place.

She smiled a little. Her face then dropped as she said, “I couldn’t think of what to get you.”

“That’s okay, it’s not like I’m used to getting presents from someone every year,” he joked. To tell the truth, he didn’t even notice Ginny was not downstairs.

“I didn’t know what would be useful. Nothing too big, because you wouldn’t be able to take it with you.” He noticed that she took a step closer to him. She was already too close for comfort. “So then I thought, I’d like you to have something to remember me by, you know, if you meet some veela when you’re off doing whatever you’re doing.”

He knew where this was going; and he didn’t particularly like it. “And if I do?” he challenged.

Ginny’s eyes widened. “What do you mean?” She asked bluntly.

“Ginny,” he started in a soft tone, “I hope you noticed that I’m not your boyfriend anymore.”

Her eyes went wider than saucers. “What do you mean?” She asked again.

Harry stepped closer and put his hands on Ginny’s shoulders. “Ginny. We broke up. I’m not your boyfriend anymore. We are through. I know you’re thinking that I’ll come back to you after all this is over. You’re wrong, Ginny. We will most likely—no, definitely never be together again. I want you to move on. You can get any bloke you want, I’m sure. Sorry to say that one of those guys isn’t me. Try Neville; he likes you a lot.”

Ginny started sputtering. “But I…I love you…”

“Are you sure? Or do you love the Boy Who Lived?”

Ginny started angrily, “I—” but she stopped suddenly, wondering what he meant by that. “Harry… you and he are the same person.” She explained this as if she were talking to a small child.

Harry sighed and walked towards the door. Just as he touched the knob, he turned back towards her. “No, they’re not. I’m sorry, Gin.” He opened the door to find Ron about to open it. Harry looked relieved; Ginny wouldn’t continue this pointless argument in front of her brother. Without taking a glance at Ginny or Ron, he walked out of the room, and swore that he saw a thin string of flesh round the corner.

He shrugged and walked outside, Ron following. When they got outside and onto the back lawn, Ron put his hand on Harry’s shoulder rather roughly.

“What happened?”

Harry turned around to face him and smacked his hand away. “I broke up with her.”

“What?” Ron said as he rubbed his hand. ‘Dammit, Harry must have gotten stronger,’ Ron thought. “You already did that!”

“Yeah, well, she didn’t hear me that time.”

By this time Hermione walked up to them with a curious expression, although a smile was tugging the corners of her mouth. “Harry, what hap—?”

But Ron put up a hand to silence her.

“You mean you broke up with her for real? Why?”

Harry frowned. “That wasn’t very nice.”

“What?” Ron asked in pure curiosity.

“You don’t just put your hand in people’s faces, Ron.”

“You’re ignoring the question!” Ron snapped, not seeing the smile of gratitude to Harry from Hermione, replacing the scowl she had earlier towards Ron.

Harry replied, “I broke up with Ginny and I probably won’t ever get with her again, even by the off chance I live through all this.”

“Harry, don’t talk like that,” Hermione said fiercely. “When we leave, I don’t want to hear you talking about not winning anymore. Ron and I will make sure that you survive this journey and this battle!”

Harry smiled at her. “Thanks, but I want you two to survive also. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you guys.”

Ron cooled down and grudgingly said, “Yeah, well, we couldn’t live without you either. Literally. We’re attached to you, Potter.” He finished with a grin as he rubbed the back of his neck.

Harry smiled at his (hopefully) friends-for-life. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Ginny did not try to seek another one-on-one meeting with Harry for the rest of the day, although he saw that her eyes were a little red and puffy. With a smile, Harry also noticed that Hermione had been in a considerably lighter mood after they talked in the backyard. Or was it since he officially broke up with Ginny? Nevertheless, Charlie’s arrival came as a relief to Harry. It provided a distraction, watching Mrs. Weasley force Charlie into a chair, raise her wand threateningly, and announce that he was about to get a proper haircut. Harry was confused by this statement. Couldn’t Charlie grow his hair back as he did when his Aunt Petunia would make him have a haircut? He had to ask Charlie later.

As Harry’s birthday dinner would have stretched the Burrow’s kitchen to breaking point even before the arrival of Charlie, Lupin, Tonks, and Hagrid, several tables were placed end to end in the garden. Fred and George bewitched a number of purple lanterns all emblazoned with a large number 17, to hang in midair over the guests. Thanks to Mrs. Weasley’s ministrations, George’s wound was neat and clean, but Harry was not yet comfortable to the dark hole in the side of his head, despite the twins’ many jokes about it.

Harry and Ron walked outside to see Hermione making purple and gold streamers erupt from the end of her wand and drape themselves artistically over the trees and bushes.

“Nice,” Harry and Ron said at the same time. Hermione turned her head curiously over to them as she finished turning the leaves on a crabapple tree to gold. “What?” Harry grinned. “That was a really cool spell. Aunt Petunia would have killed for it. She probably would’ve accepted magic. Probably.

Hermione blushed. “Thanks, Harry. Thanks, Ron.” She walked away, looking for another tree to charm.

Ron turned to Harry with a curious expression and Harry thought he saw a small bit of anger. “How far did you get in that book?”

Harry shrugged. “I didn’t open it yet.”

Ron slowly nodded and walked in the house; Harry guessed that he was going upstairs to verify.

“Out of the way, out of the way!” sang Mrs. Weasley, coming through the gate with what appeared to be a giant, beach-ball-sized Snitch floating in front of her. Seconds later, Harry realized that it was his birthday cake, which Mrs. Weasley was suspending with her wand, rather than risk carrying it over the uneven ground. When the cake had finally landed in the middle of the table, Harry said, “That looks amazing, Mrs. Weasley.”

“Oh, it’s nothing, dear,” she said fondly. Over her shoulder, Harry saw Ron went downstairs grumbling and his jaw dropped as he saw the cake. He looked at Harry incredulously for a moment before shaking his head before he walked over to the table.

By seven o’clock all the guests had arrived, led into the house by Fred and George, who had waited for them at the end of the lane. Hagrid had honoured the occasion by wearing his best, and horrible, hairy brown suit. Although Lupin smiled as he shook Harry’s hand, Harry thought he looked rather unhappy, while Tonks was beaming. He would ask Remus what the matter was after the party.

Harry received a mokeskin neck pouch from Hagrid that won’t open for anyone except the owner. He found out from Charlie that Norbert is a Noberta.

After a few minutes, a silver weasel patronus came from the sky and onto the table. It got on its hind legs and spoke in Mr. Weasley’s voice.

“Minister of Magic coming with me.”

The Patronus dissolved into thin air, leaving Fleur’s family staring in astonishment at the place where it had vanished.

“We shouldn’t be here,” said Lupin at once. “Harry—I’m sorry—I’ll explain some other time…”

He seized Tonks’s wrist and pulled her away; they reached the fence, climbed over it, and vanished from sight.

Mrs. Weasley looked bewildered. “The Minister—but why—? I don’t understand…”

But there was no time to discuss the matter; a second later, Mr. Weasley had appeared out of thin air at the gate, accompanied by Rufus Scrimgeour, instantly recognizable by his mane of grizzled hair.

The two newcomers marched across the yard toward the garden and the lantern-lit table, where everybody sat in silence, watching them draw closer. As Scrimgeour came within range of the lantern light. Harry saw that he looked much older than the last time that had met, scraggy and grim.

“Sorry to intrude,” said Scrimgeour, as he limped to a halt before the table. “Especially as I can see that I am gatecrashing a party.”

His eyes lingered for a moment on the giant Snitch cake. “Many happy returns.”

“Thanks,” said Harry bitterly.

“I require a private word with you,” Scrimgeour said, unphased. “Also with Mr. Ronald Weasley and Miss Hermione Granger.”

“Us?” said Ron, sounding surprised. “Why us?”

“I shall tell you that when we are somewhere more private,” said Scrimgeour. “Is there such a place?” he demanded of Mr. Weasley.

“Yes, of course,” said Mr. Weasley, who looked nervous. “The, er, sitting-room, why don’t you use that?”

“You can lead the way,” Scrimgeour said to Ron. “There will be no need for you to accompany us, Arthur.”

Harry saw Mr. Weasley exchange a worried look with Mrs. Weasley as he, Ron, and Hermione stood up. As they led the way back to the house in silence, Harry started thinking why he came here. He couldn’t have known that they weren’t returning to Hogwarts. And he would’ve asked him to be his supporter alone, not in front of Ron and Hermione. There had to be another reason.

And then he remembered what he and the picture were talking about back at the Dursleys, of how Dumbledore always takes precautions, even if he didn’t know he was going to die. A small smile appeared cross his face as he, Hermione, and Ron bunched together side-by-side on the sofa.

Before Scrimgeour could speak, Harry started.

“Does this have anything to do with Dumbledore’s will?” he asked bluntly.

Scrimgeour nodded as Hermione and Ron stared at him in appraisal and confusion, respectively. “Yes. He left something for all of you.”

“And you waited this long to tell us? Have you been snooping through everything he left us?” Harry asked, his eyes narrowing.

“Well, I had every right,” the Minister said dismissively. “The Decree for Justifiable Confiscation gives the Ministry the power the confiscate the contents of a will—”

“That law was created to stop Wizards passing on Dark artifacts,” retorted Hermione, “and the Ministry is supposed to have powerful evidence that the deceased’s possessions are illegal before seizing them! Are you telling me that you thought Dumbledore was trying to pass us something cursed?”

“Are you planning to follow a career in Magical Law, Miss Granger?” asked Scrimgeour.

Harry snorted. “That’s like asking her if she wants to work for you!” Hermione and Ron fake-laughed hysterically at this thought.

Scrimgeour glared at them, and Harry suspected that if he started growling, he would be perfect for Gryffindor mascot. He turned on Ron and said, “Would you say you were close to Dumbledore, Ronald?”

“Me? Not—not really…It was always Harry who…” Ron looked around to see Harry and Hermione; Hermione was giving him a venomous look and Ron guessed that he would be called stupid over and over again after the meeting, but the damage was done; Scrimgeour looked as though he had heard exactly what he had expected, and wanted, to hear. He swooped like a bird of prey upon Ron’s answer.

“If you were not very close to Dumbledore, how do you account for the fact that he remembered you in his will? He made exceptionally few personal bequests. The vast majority of his possessions—his private library, his magical instruments, and other personal effects—were left to Hogwarts. Why do you think you were singled out?”

“Because Ron and I’ve gotten in enough trouble to be remembered by,” Harry said. Hermione had to stifle a laugh, and Ron had to duck his head in embarrassment.

Scrimgeour put his hand inside his cloak and drew out a drawstring pouch much larger than the one Hagrid had given Harry. From it, he removed a scroll of parchment which he unrolled and read aloud.

“‘The Last Will and Testament of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore,’” he said in a drone. He looked through the Will for a few seconds before nodding to himself. “Yes, here we are… ‘To Ronald Bilius Weasley, I leave my Deluminator, in the hope that he will remember me when he uses it.’”

Scrimgeour took out what appeared to be a lighter (who Harry for some reason wanted to call a putter-outer). Scrimgeour leaned forward and passed the Deluminator to Ron, who took it and turned it over in the fingers looking stunned.

“That is a valuable object,” said Scrimgeour, watching Ron. “It may even be unique. Certainly it is of Dumbledore’s own design. Why would he have left you and item so rare?”

Ron shook his head, looking bewildered.

“Dumbledore must have taught thousands of students,” Scrimgeour continued, “yet the only ones he remembered in his will are you three. Why is that?”

“Well,” Harry mused, “I suppose it might have something to do with us being Harry Potter, his favorite student/hero, Hermione Granger, the most brilliant student of our age, and Ron Weasley, the best keeper in Hogwarts and the reason we had the Quidditch Cup for two years in a row. And we’ve all been called the Golden Trio of Hogwarts. Is that enough of an explanation?”

Rufus scowled as he looked back at the will. Harry didn’t notice Ron with a small smile and Hermione’s reddening cheeks. “‘To Miss Hermione Jean Granger,” he continued from the Will, “‘I leave my copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, in the hope that she will find it entertaining and instructive.’”

Scrimgeour now pulled out of the bag a small book that looked as ancient as the copy of Secrets of the Darkest Art upstairs. Its binding was stained and peeling in places. Hermione took it from Scrimgeour without a word. She held the book in her lap and gazed at it. Harry saw that the title was in runes; he had never learned to read them. As he looked, a tear splashed onto the embossed symbols.

“Why do you think Dumbledore left you that book, Miss Granger?” asked Scrimgeour.

“He…he knew I liked books,” said Hermione in a thick voice, mopping her eyes with her sleeve. Harry put his arm around her shoulders to both comfort her and to take a closer look, making her blush a little more and Ron slightly scowl, while Scrimgeour asked another question.

“But why that particular book?”

“I don’t know. He must have thought I’d enjoy it.”

“Did you ever—?”

“Just get on to my name,” Harry said irritably. Hermione shot Harry a grateful smile before Scrimgeour made a grunt and continued.

“‘To Harry James Potter, I leave the Snitch he caught in his first Quidditch match at Hogwarts, as a reminder of the rewards of perseverance and skill.’”

As Scrimgeour pulled out the tiny, walnut-sized golden ball, its silver wings fluttered rather feebly, and Harry could not help feeling a definite sense of anticlimax.

“Why did Dumbledore leave you this Snitch?” asked Scrimgeour.

“Technically, it is mine. I mean, I caught it,” Harry said, also wondering why he left the snitch to him.

“You think this a mere symbolic keepsake, then?”

“Well, yeah.”

“I notice that your birthday cake is in the shape of a Snitch,” Scrimgeour said to Harry. “Why is that?”

“Oh, it can’t be a reference to the fact Harry’s a great Seeker, that’s way too obvious,” Hermione answered laughing a little. “There must be a secret message from Dumbledore hidden in the icing!”

“I don’t think there’s anything hidden in the icing,” said Scrimgeour, “but a Snitch would be a very good hiding place for a small object. You know why, I’m sure?”

Harry shrugged, Hermione, however, answered: Harry thought that answering questions correctly was such a deeply ingrained habit she could not suppress the urge. He found that endearingly cute.

“Because Snitches have flesh memories,” she said.

“What?” said Harry and Ron together; both thought that Hermione knew nothing about Quidditch.

“Correct,” said Scrimgeour. “A Snitch is not touched by bare skin before it is released, not even by the maker, who wears gloves. It carries an enchantment by which it can identify the first human to lay hands upon it, in case of a disputed capture. This Snitch—” he held up the tiny golden ball, “—will remember your touch, Potter. It occurs to me that Dumbledore, who had prodigious magical skill, whatever his other faults, might have enchanted this Snitch so that it will open only for you.”

Harry’s heart was beating rather fast. He was sure that Scrimgeour was right. How could he avoid taking the Snitch with his bare hand in front of the Minister? He had to think of something fast.

“You don’t say anything,” said Scrimgeour. “Perhaps you already know what the Snitch contains?”

“No,” Harry said calmly, thinking of what to do. He then remembered that his wand was in his pocket.

“Take it,” Scrimgeour said quietly.

Harry shrugged with a smirk as he pulled out his wand. “Okay,” he said and with a swish and a flick, the Snitch flew out of Scrimgeour’s hands. He tried to make a grab for it, but Harry flicked it again and it soared up the stairs. Scrimgeour looked at Harry, his eyes wide, along with the others. “Where did you put it?”

“You think I would tell you? Is that all?” Harry asked as he stretched out his legs, preparing to get up until he saw Rufus with a small smirk.

“Not quite. Dumbledore left you a second bequest, Potter.”

“What is it?” Harry said uneasily, wondering why Scrimgeour was smirking. He did not bother to read from the will this time.

“The sword of Godric Gryffindor,” he said. Hermione and Ron both stiffened. Harry looked around for a sign of the ruby-encrusted hilt, but Scrimgeour did not pull the sword from the leather pouch, which in any case looked much too small to contain it.

“So, then where is it?”

“Unfortunately, that sword was not Dumbledore’s to give away. The sword of Godric Gryffindor is an important historical artifact, and as such, belongs —”

“It belongs to Harry!” said Hermione hotly. “It chose him, he was the one who found it, it came to him out of the Sorting Hat—!”

“According to reliable historical sources, the sword may present itself to any worthy Gryffindor,” said Scrimgeour. “That does not make it the exclusive property of Mr. Potter, whatever Dumbledore may have decided.” Scrimgeour scratched his badly shaven cheek, scrutinizing Harry. “Why do you think—”

“—he left it to me?” Harry finished, breathing through his nose. “Maybe because I’m a Gryffindor?”

“Was it because Dumbledore believed that only the sword of Godric Gryffindor could defeat the Heir of Slytherin? Did he wish to give you that sword, Potter, because he believed, as do many, that you are the one destined to destroy He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?”

“Say ‘Voldemort’, you’re supposed to be our leader, for Merlin’s sake,” Harry said, rubbing his temple with his free hand. “Let me answer your question with another one—has anyone ever tried sticking a sword in Voldemort? Has anyone ever tried to get that close? Maybe the Ministry should put some people onto that, instead of wasting their time stripping down Deluminators or covering up breakouts from Azkaban. So this is what you’ve been doing, Minister, shut up in your office, trying to break open a Snitch? That’s one mystery solved. People are dying—we were nearly two of them—Voldemort chased me and Hermione across three countries, he killed Mad-Eye Moody, but there’s no word about any of that from the Ministry, has there? And you still expect us to cooperate with you?”

“You go too far!” shouted Scrimgeour, standing up. Scrimgeour limped toward Harry and jabbed him hard in the chest with the point of his wand; It singed a hole in Harry’s t-shirt like a lit cigarette.

Before he could gloat, before Ron could stand with his wand out, and before Hermione could try to jump up and tackle him (not in that order) his wand flicked out of his hand. Harry, using his Seeker skills, carefully moved his arm from Hermione and caught it. He let his Phoenix wand join his other hand so two wands were facing a now shaking Scrimgeour, who was slowly backing up. When he was at a safe distance from the Boy-Who-Lived, who was still seated, he smirked.

“Now, I’ll have an excuse to arrest you. Remember that I am not Dumbledore, who forgave your insolence and insubordination. You may wear that scar like a crown, Potter, but it is not up to a seventeen-year-old boy to tell me how to do my job! It’s time you learned some respect!”

“I’ll do that once you get off your lazy arse and actually do something to earn it.” Harry slowly stood up and grinned. “And you can’t arrest us. I have caused no harm to you. Sure, I may have hurt what little pride you had left, but I don’t think I can go to jail for hurting someone’s feelings. After all—Umbridge and Draco are free, right?” Harry looked down at his shirt for a second. “Thanks for the present, Minister. I’ll make sure to show everyone how generous you are.”

The floor trembled; there was a sound of running footsteps, then the door to the sitting room burst open and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley ran in.

“We—we thought we heard—” began Mr. Weasley, looking thoroughly alarmed at the sight of Harry pointing two wands at the Minister of Magic.

“—raised voices,” panted Mrs. Weasley.

Harry smirked and threw the wand back at the minister, who fumbled the wand and dropped. Hermione and Ron were trying to contain their laughter throughout their whole ordeal, mirth in their eyes. And when Scrimgeour picked up his wand and bustled out of the room, rushing past Mrs. Weasley, who followed, they broke into laughter, Hermione standing up and leaning on Harry’s shoulder, trying not to fall down. Ron, between laughs said, “That—was—bloody brilliant!”

“Couldn’t have done it better myself,” said Hermione, wiping the tears of laughter from her face.

“Thanks,” Harry said, amused at seeing Hermione laughing at the most respected man in the Wizarding world.

A few seconds later, they heard Mrs. Weasley shout, “He’s gone!”

“What did he want?” Mr. Weasley asked, looking around at Harry, Ron, and Hermione as Mrs. Weasley came hurrying back to them.

“Scrimgeour’s just now giving us what Dumbledore’s left us,” Harry said, “and then he started being a pain after that.”

Minutes later, outside in the garden, over the dinner tables, the two objects Scrimgeour had given them were passed from hand to hand (save for Harry’s Snitch, which was safely in his get-away emergency bag. Everyone exclaimed over the Deluminator and The Tales of Beedle the Bard and hated the fact that Scrimgeour had refused to give Harry the sword, but none of them could offer any suggestion as to why Dumbledore would have left Harry an old Snitch. As Mr. Weasley examined the Deluminator for the third or fourth time, Mrs. Weasley said tentatively, “Harry, dear, everyone’s awfully hungry and we didn’t like to start without you…shall I serve dinner now?”

They all ate rather hurriedly and then after a hasty chorus of “Happy Birthday” (which almost brought Harry to tears—he never heard that song sung to him before) and much gulping of cake, the party broke up. Hagrid, who was invited to the wedding the following day, but was far too bulky to sleep in the overstretched Burrow, left to set up a tent for himself in a neighboring field.

“Meet us upstairs after everyone’s gone to bed,” Harry whispered to Hermione, while they helped Mrs. Weasley restore the garden to its normal state.

About a quarter hour later, up in the attic room, Ron examined his Deluminator, and Harry filled Hagrid’s mokeskin purse, not with gold, but with those items he most prized, apparently worthless though some of them were the shard of Sirius’s enchanted mirror, R.A.B.’s locket, and a small pocket-sized photo album with the same color as his eyes. He pulled the string tight and slipped the pouch around his neck, then sat holding the old Snitch from the bag and watched its wings flutter feebly. At last, Hermione tapped on the door and tiptoed inside.

Muffliato,” she whispered, waving her wand in the direction of the stairs.

“Thought you didn’t approve of that spell?” said Ron.

Hermione looked over the room, and when her eyes brushed over Harry, she said, “Times change,” with a smirk. Harry smirked back. Hermione then turned to Ron. “Let’s see the Deluminator.”

Ron obliged at once. Holding it up in front of him, he clicked it. The solitary lamp they had lit went out at once.

“The thing is,” whispered Hermione through the dark, “we could have achieved that with Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder.”

There was a small click, and the ball of light from the lamp flew back to the ceiling and illuminated them all once more. Hermione had moved to sitting next to Harry.

“Still, it’s cool,” said Ron, a little defensively. “And from what they said, Dumbledore invented it himself!”

“I know but, surely he wouldn’t have singled you out in his will just to help us turn out the lights! Although…”

“What if there was something else special about it?” Harry asked before another row started.

“I’m not sure about that,” Hermione said as she flipped through the pages of her new book, “but he did make it himself, so it’s probable. Harry, could you go get the snitch, there’s a chance there’s instructions in it.”

“It didn’t work,” said Harry as he took the snitch back out of his pouch. “I touched it, and I put it in my mouth—remember, I almost swallowed this before I touched it—but the only type of hint I got on it was this.” He kissed it and handed it to Hermione. Hermione, looking extremely perplexed, just looked at the snitch and gasped at the slanted words that appeared on it and immediately disappeared.

I open at the close.

“What does that mean?” Hermione slowly said.

“Is it some kind of code for us to figure it out?” Harry asked. “I mean, when has Dumbledore ever given us a straight answer?”

“Well,” Hermione said, picking back up her book, “we’ll worry about that later. But why did he leave me a book? I’ve never even heard of this?”

“You’ve never heard of The Tales of Beedle the Bard?” said Ron incredulously. “You’re kidding, right?”

“No, I’m not,” said Hermione in surprise. “Do you know them then?”

“Well, of course I do!”

Harry was surprised for a second (for obvious reasons), before he thought of the title of the book. “Is that a book for children, ’cause it would explain why Hermione and I don’t know about that book, since we’re Muggle-raised. And it sounds to me that everybody’s read it.”

Ron nodded. “It’s got all of these really old kid’s stories in it. ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’, ‘The Wizard and the Hopping Pot’, ‘Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump’”… Harry and Hermione chuckled at this one.

“That’s a weird name,” Harry noted, “but why did he give us the book?”

“I don’t know,” Ron said, “another riddle, I guess.”

There was a crack downstairs.

“Probably just Charlie, now Mum’s asleep, sneaking off to re-grow his hair,” Ron said nervously.

Harry was confused for a second. When he grew his hair back, it just grew silently. He wasn’t even aware of it being back to normal until he was swatted on the head for his freakiness costing her money. He shook his head from the past. “We should still sleep, anyways,” He said as he went through the items in his bag one more time. “It’s getting late. I want to be awake and ready tomorrow. It just might be the last day we’re going to see happiness for a while.”

HPDHHPTake—TwoDHHPDH

Three o’clock on the following afternoon found Harry, Ron, Fred and George standing outside the great white marquee in the orchard, awaiting the arrival of the wedding guests. Harry had taken a large dose of Polyjuice Potion and was now the double of a redheaded Muggle boy from the local village, Ottery St. Catchpole, from whom Fred had stolen hairs using a Summoning Charm. The plan was to introduce Harry as “Cousin Barmy” and trust to the great number of Weasley relatives to camouflage him.

All four of them were clutching seating plans, so that they could help show people to the right seats. A host of white-robed waiters had arrived an hour earlier, along with a golden jacketed band, and all of these Wizards were currently sitting a short distance away under a tree. Harry could see a blue haze of pipe smoke issuing from the spot. Behind Harry, the entrance to the marquee revealed rows and rows of fragile golden chairs set on either side of a long purple carpet. The supporting poles were entwined with white and gold flowers. Fred and George had fastened an enormous bunch of golden balloons over the exact point where Bill and Fleur would shortly become husband and wife. Outside, butterflies and bees were hovering lazily over the grass and hedgerow. Harry was rather uncomfortable. The Muggle boy whose appearance he was affecting was slightly fatter than him, but thanks to the wonders of magic, he had increased the size of his fanciest Dress Robes, the one he wore several years prior.

“When I get married,” said Fred, tugging at the collar of his own robes, “I won’t be bothering with any of this nonsense. You can all wear what you like, and I’ll put a full Body Bird Curse on Mum until it’s all over.”

“She wasn’t too bad this morning, considering,” said George. “Cried a bit about Percy not being here, but who wants him. Oh blimey, brace yourselves, here they come, look!”

Brightly colored figures were appearing, one by one out of nowhere at the distant boundary of the yard. Within minutes a procession had formed, which began to snake its way up through the garden toward the marquee. Exotic flowers and bewitched birds fluttered on the witches’ hats, while precious gems glittered from many of the Wizards’ cravats; a hum of excited chatter grew louder and louder, drowning the sound of the bees as the crowd approached the tent.

“Excellent, I think I see a few veela cousins,” said George, craning his neck for a better look. “They’ll need help understanding our English customs; I’ll look after them…”

“Not so fast, Your Holeyness,” said Fred, and darting past the gaggle of middle-aged witches heading for the procession, he said, “Here—permetiez moi to assister vous,” to a pair of pretty French girls, who giggled and allowed him to escort them inside. George was left to deal with the middle-aged witches and Ron took charge of Mr. Weasley’s old Ministry-colleague Perkins, while a rather deaf old couple fell to Harry’s lot.

“Wotcher,” said a familiar voice as he came out of the marquee again and found Tonks and Lupin at the front of the queue. She had turned blonde for the occasion. “Arthur told us you were the one with the curly hair. Sorry about last night,” she added in a whisper as Harry led them up the aisle. “The Ministry’s being very anti-werewolf at the moment and we thought our presence might not do you any favors.”

“It’s fine, I understand,” said Harry, speaking more to Lupin than Tonks. Lupin gave him a swift smile, but as they turned away Harry saw Lupin’s face fall again into lines of misery. He did not understand it; maybe it was marital problems; but there was no time to dwell on the matter. Hagrid was causing a certain amount of disruption. Having misunderstood Fred’s directions as he had sat himself, not upon the magically enlarged and reinforced seat set aside for him in the back row, but on five sets that now resembled a large pile of golden matchsticks.

While Mr. Weasley repaired the damage and Hagrid shouted apologies to anybody who would listen, Harry hurried back to the entrance to find Ron face-to-face with a most eccentric-looking Wizard. Slightly cross-eyed, with shoulder-length white hair the texture of candyfloss, he wore a cap whose tassel dangled in front of his nose and robes of an eye-watering shade of egg-yolk yellow. An odd symbol, rather like a triangular eye, glistened from a golden chain around his neck. Harry had a pretty good idea who this man was, but wondered what the charm was on his necklace.

“Xenophilius Lovegood,” he said, extending a hand to Harry, “my daughter and I live just over the hill, so kind of the good Weasleys to invite us. But I think you know my Luna?” he added to Ron and continued. “She lingered in that charming little garden to say hello to the gnomes, such a glorious infestation! How few Wizards realize just how much we can learn from the wise little gnomes—or, to give them their correct name, the Gernumbli gardensi.”

“Ours do know a lot of excellent swear words,” said Ron, “but I think Fred and George taught them those.”

He led a party of warlocks into the marquee as Luna rushed up.

“Hello, Harry!” she said.

“Er – my name’s Barmy,” said Harry, confused. He knew that Luna was…special, but he didn’t think anyone could see through Polyjuice Potion.

“Oh, have you changed that too?” she asked brightly.

“How did you know—?”

“Oh, just your expression,” she said. “Do you have something for me?”

Harry blinked twice and tried his best not to channel Ron. A ‘Bloody Hell’ seemed necessary at the moment. “Um – yeah,” he said as he pulled out a sheet of parchment and handed to her. “Don’t open it til you get to Hogwarts. Are you a seer?” He couldn’t refrain himself from asking.

Luna only smiled at him mysteriously.

Like her father, Luna was wearing bright yellow robes, which she had accessorized with a large sunflower in her hair. Once you get over the brightness of it all, the general effect was quite pleasant. At least there were no radishes dangling from her ears. Apparently, Ron had noticed, as he kept taking small glances at her, but Harry didn’t know whether Ron thought her dress looked ugly or very pretty. He gave no signs of a frown so Harry relaxed.

Xenophilius, who was deep in conversation with an acquaintance, had missed the exchange between Luna and Harry. Biding the Wizard farewell, he turned to his daughter, who held up her finger and said, “Daddy, look—one of the gnomes actually bit me.”

“How wonderful! Gnome saliva is enormously beneficial.” Said Mr. Lovegood, seizing Luna’s outstretched fingers and examining the bleeding puncture marks. “Luna, my love, if you should feel any burgeoning talent today—perhaps an unexpected urge to sing opera or to declaim in Mermish—do not repress it! You may have been gifted by the Gernumblies!”

Ron shook his head, honestly trying his hardest not to laugh, and slowly walked away.

“My father has done a lot of research on Gernumbli magic.” Luna said to Harry.

“Really?” he asked, who had long since decided not to challenge Luna or her father’s peculiar views. “Are you sure you don’t want to put anything on that bite, though?”

“Oh, it’s fine,” said Luna, sucking her finger in a dreamy fashion and looking Harry up and down. “You look really nice, Harry. I thought that you would wear bright colors for luck, but you really pull it off. I wonder if she’ll appreciate it…” She said, seemingly to herself.

Before he could question her, she drifted off after her father. A second later, Ron reappeared with an elderly witch clutching his arm. Her beaky nose, red-rimmed eyes, and leathery pink hat gave her the look of a bad-tempered flamingo.

“…and your hair’s much too long, Ronald, for a moment I thought you were Ginevra.” She said. “Merlin’s beard, what is Xenophilius Lovegood wearing? He looks like an omelet. And who are you?” she barked at Harry.

“Oh yeah, Auntie Muriel, this is our cousin Barmy.” Ron explained. Apparently only the immediate Weasley Family and the Order (and Luna) knows about the disguise.

“Another Weasley? You breed like gnomes. Isn’t Harry Potter here? I was hoping to meet him. I thought he was a friend of yours, Ronald, or have you merely been boasting?”

“He couldn’t come.”

“Hmm. Made an excuse, did he? Not as gormless as he looks in press photographs, then. I’ve just been instructing the bride on how best to wear my tiara,” she shouted at Harry. “Goblin-made, you know, and been in my family for centuries. She’s a good-looking girl, but still – French. Well, well, find me a good seat, Ronald, I am a hundred and seven and I ought not to be on my feet too long.”

Ron gave Harry a meaningful look as he passed and did not reappear for some time. When next they met at the entrance, Harry had shown a dozen more people to their places, and was beginning to worry where Hermione was. “Nightmare, Muriel is,” said Ron, mopping his forehead on his sleeve. “She used to come for Christmas every year, then, thank God, she took offense because Fred and George set off a Dungbomb under her chair at dinner. Dad always says she’ll have written them out of her will – like they care, they’re going to end up richer than anyone in the family, rate they’re—”

“Wow,” Harry interrupted, his eye’s practically bulging out at Hermione. She was wearing a floaty, lilac-colored dress with matching high heels; her hair was sleek and shiny. Harry had never thought he had seen anyone more beautiful before. “You look… really good.”

Hermione blushed. “Thanks, you look quite dashing yourself” she said. They both didn’t notice the frown on Ron’s face for a few seconds.

Harry looked over Hermione’s shoulder and froze for a second. He’s seen this man before, a few years ago. He was a little jealous over him for some reason, but he didn’t know why. Now he knew.

“Hermione,” Harry said, “Krum’s behind you.”

Hermione quickly looked back at Krum, smiled and waved a little. The man approached Ron, whose ears were red, and looked at Hermione. “You look vunderful.”

Ron’s ears had turned bright red again. After glancing at Krum’s invitation as if he did not believe a word of it, he said, much too loudly, “How come you’re here?”

“Fleur invited me,” said Krum, eyebrows raised.

Harry tried to shake off the feeling for a moment. He shook Viktor’s hand and showed him to his seat.

“Your friend is not pleased to see me, or is he a relative?” asked Krum, as they entered the now packed marquee.

“Cousin.” Harry muttered a little too grumpily, but Krum was not really listening. His appearance was causing a stir, particularly amongst the veela cousins: He was, after all, a famous Quidditch player. Harry wondered how much gawking everyone would do if he was out of his disguise. While people were still craning their necks to get a good look at him, Ron, Hermione, Fred, and George came hurrying down the aisle.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron sat side-by-side in the second row. Ron’s ears were still scarlet. Hermione whispered to Harry, “Why did he grow a beard? It looks so…weird.”

This brought a smile to Harry’s face. “You don’t like beards?” He rubbed his chin to show his stubble of the body he borrowed.

Hermione giggled. ‘It’s good to actually hear the original giggle.’ “I like some beards. I kinda like your stolen beard. Not Viktor’s, though. It looks pretty silly.”

“Maybe I should grow some stubble…” he said, more to himself. Hermione blushed.

A sense of jittery anticipation had filled the warm tent, the general murmuring broken by occasional spurts of excited laughter. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley strolled up the aisle, smiling and waving at relatives; Mrs. Weasley was wearing a brand-new set of amethyst colored robes with a matching hat.

A moment later Bill and Charlie stood up at the front of the marquee, both wearing dress robes, with larger white roses in their buttonholes; Fred wolf-whistled and there was an outbreak of giggling from the veela cousins. Then the crowd fell silent as music swelled from what seemed to be the golden balloons.

“Ooooh!” Hermione whispered, swiveling around in her seat to look at the entrance. Harry raised an eyebrow at her. Something told him that this was the first magical wedding she had been to, also.

A great collective sigh issued from the assembled witches and Wizards as Monsieur Delacour and Fleur came walking up the aisle, Fleur gliding, Monsieur Delacour bouncing and beaming. Fleur was wearing a very simple white dress and seemed to be emitting a strong, silvery glow. While her radiance usually dimmed everyone else by comparison, today it beautified everybody it fell upon. Ginny and Gabrielle, both wearing golden dresses, looked even prettier than usual and once Fleur had reached for him, Bill did not look as though he had ever met Fenrir Greyback.

Hermione took a quick glance at Harry. He was looking at Ginny. Her heart felt as it was breaking for a second, until she realized that he was roaming the aisle and just happened to look at Ginny the same time herself looked at Harry.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” said a slightly singsong voice, and with a slight shock, Harry saw the same small, tufty-haired wizard who had presided at Dumbledore’s funeral, now standing in front of Bill and Fleur. “We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two faithful souls…”

“Yes, my tiara set off the whole thing nicely,” said Auntie Muriel in a rather carrying whisper. “But I must say, Ginevra’s dress is far too low cut.”

Ginny glanced around, grinning, winked at Harry, then quickly faced the front again. Hermione chanced to look at Harry again. He almost groaned exasperatingly. Hermione smiled and looked up at the speaker.

“Do you, William Arthur, take Fleur Isabelle…?”

In the front row, Mrs. Weasley and Madame Delacour were both sobbing quietly into scraps of lace. Trumpet-like sounds from the back of the marquee told everyone that Hagrid had taken out one of his own tablecloth-sized handkerchiefs. Harry noticed that Hermione’s eyes were also full of tears, so he conjured a handkerchief with his wand in his pocket. He pulled out the handkerchief and handed it to Hermione, who gratefully accepted it.

“…then I declare you bonded for life.”

The tufty-haired Wizard waved his wand high over the heads of Bill and Fleur and a shower of silver stars fell upon them, spiraling around their now entwined figures. As Fred and George led a round of applause, the golden balloons overhead burst. Birds of paradise and tiny golden bells flew and floated out of them, adding their songs and chimes to the din.

“Ladies and gentlemen!” called the tufty-haired Wizard. “If you would please stand up!”

They all did so, Auntie Muriel grumbling audibly. He waved his wand again. The chairs on which they had been sitting rose gracefully into the air as the canvas walls of the marquee vanished, so that they stood beneath a canopy supported by golden poles, with a glorious view of the sunlit orchard and surrounding countryside. Next, a pool of molten gold spread from the center of the tent to form a gleaming dance floor; the hovering chairs grouped themselves around small, white-clothed tables, which all floated gracefully back to earth round it, and the golden-jacketed band trooped toward a podium.

“Smooth,” said Ron approvingly as the waiters popped up on all sides, some hearing silver trays of pumpkin juice, butterbeer, and Firewhisky, others tottering piles of tarts and sandwiches.

“We should go and congratulate them!” said Hermione, standing on tiptoe to see the place where Bill and Fleur had vanished amid a crowd of well-wishers.

“We’ll have time later,” shrugged Ron, snatching three butterbeers from a passing tray and handing one to Harry. “Hermione, cop hold, let’s grab a table…Not there! Nowhere near Muriel…”

Ron led the way across the empty dance floor, glancing left and right as he went; Harry felt sure that he was keeping an eye out for Krum. All of his jealousy disappeared when Hermione had complained about his beard, so he didn’t really care if they sat next to Krum. By the time they had reached the other side of the marquee, most of the tables were occupied: The emptiest was the one where Luna sat alone.

“All right if we join you?” asked Ron.

“Oh yes,” she said, a little dreamier for Luna standards. “Daddy’s just gone to give Bill and Fleur our present.”

“What is it, a lifetime’s supply of Gurdyroots?” asked Ron as he sat next to Luna, as Harry and Hermione were seated together across.

Hermione kicked Ron under the table. Wincing and eye-watering, he didn’t hear Luna’s response.

“I like this song,” said Luna, swaying in time to the waltzlike tune, and a few seconds later she stood up and glided onto the dance floor, where she revolved on the spot, quite alone, eyes closed and waving her arms.

“She’s great isn’t she?” said Ron admiringly. “Always good value.”

Harry whispered into Hermione’s ear, “Do you want a dance, Hermione?”

Hermione looked shocked for a second, but then said, “I’d be honoured.”

Harry smiled and took her hand. They walked onto the dance floor, leaving a very flustered Ron and an approaching Viktor.

“Do you know how to dance now?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah, a little.” Harry said as he put his arms around Hermione’s waist while Hermione put her arms around his neck. They both blushed at the contact, but began to sway to the music, nonetheless.

“Harry?”

“Yeah, ‘Mione?”

Hermione blushed a bit more at the nickname, but continued. “Have you talked to the picture lately?”

“Well, I didn’t really have time, since I’m in a room with Ron. The picture ‘Mione told me not to ever let Ron see the picture, but she never told me why.”

“He might be jealous.”

“That’s what I thought. He has a book to try to win you over, you know.”

“He does? What is it?” She asked, a mix of curiosity and anger in her voice.

“Twelve Fail-Safe Ways to Charm Witches. I didn’t tell you about that, though. If you happen to mention it, just say that you saw my book while I wasn’t looking.”

“You have it, too?” Hermione asked, sounding a bit scandalized.

“It was a present from Ron and I hadn’t opened it,” Harry said immediately. “I think it’s cheating. Besides, witches are already charmed by me,” he said while forming a lopsided grin that gave her trouble swaying with him to the music, “I don’t think I have any actual charm, though.”

“You are definitely underestimating yourself with that statement, Harry,” Hermione said with a small blush.

Harry smiled again. “That’s good to hear.”

Hermione blushed a little more and rested her head on his chest. Harry smiled for a second and looked up to see Ginny a distance away, glaring daggers at Hermione’s back, as if she wanted to pull out her wand on the spot. She started to approach them until she saw Harry with a fierce look in his eyes that truly scared her. His glare spoke of power and anger, and he did not know it, but the couples immediately around him were unnerved for a moment before dancing again. His eyes flashed green for a moment. It sent a simple message. ‘Step off, ex.’ Ginny whimpered a little and slowly walked away to find someone to dance with.

She would have a little talk with Hermione after the wedding, Ginny thought with rising anger.

After Harry breathed a silent breath of relief, he looked around to see an unusual sight. Ronald Weasley was dancing with Luna Lovegood. He tapped Hermione’s shoulders, trying not to chuckle. She put her head up with a questioning look before following Harry’s gaze, and smiled at the sight.

“Looks like Ron’s having fun.” She said happily.

“Looks like he is,” Harry agreed. He took another look at her. She looked heavenly, smiling like that. The words seemed to escape from his mouth, “You know, you look really beautiful.” It took all Harry could not to cover his mouth with his hands.

Hermione’s face made a new color. She gulped nervously. “Really?” She asked, mentally scolding herself for the hopefulness pouring out of her. She decided to add, “I mean, Ron’s Aunt Muriel was talking about my ankles being too skinny. I agree with her, but I want to know about my dress, mainly.”

“Hermione, Ron’s aunt talks about everyone. She even said something negative about Fleur. Believe me when I say that you look perfect. You look even more beautiful than you did at the Yule Ball.”

Hermione almost gawked at him. He had called her beautiful…twice. He thought that he was beautiful at the Yule Ball, too. “Th-thank you, Harry. It m-means a lot to me.”

“You’re welcome, anytime.” Harry fumbled for a moment with the back of Hermione’s shawl before he said, “Sorry for ruining the moment, but I’m pretty sure that you want to know that I had another vision yesterday morning.”

Hermione’s eyes widened a little in fear, before she breathed deeply and put her head on his chest again. “Go on.”

“He was looking for a man named Gregorovitch.”

“The wandmaker?”

“Wandmaker?” Harry asked.

“Yes. I read that next to Ollivander, he’s the most famous wandmaker in the Wizarding world.”

“So it has something to do with wands again? I think it has something to do with using a wand that can beat my phoenix core wand.”

“So, what happened next?”

“Dunno, Ron woke me up.”

“He has impeccable timing, doesn’t he?”

“Yeah, he really does.”

“Do you know anything about a wand that’s unbeatable?”

“No…It’s the wizard that controls the wand. The wand just chooses the caster. I don’t remember it having any other special qualities.”

They elapsed into another moment of silence. Harry looked around to see Ron loosening up somewhat, still dancing with Luna. He looked to his left and saw Ginny dancing with Viktor Krum, of all people. They were close to each other, but Harry noted with a smile that he didn’t feel sad.

Hermione was in her own trance at this moment. She had always pictured this moment in her life, but never had she believed it would happen. Well, not this exactly; she had pictured Harry as a mussy-haired green-eyed lean man instead of a slightly pudgy red-head, but she wasn’t complaining, as she knew that it was Harry on the inside. She had wondered what had ever made him ask her to dance with him. Did her picture threaten him? Did she bribe him? Or did she… no, she couldn’t have…

Had she actually shown Harry that she was pretty?

If she had, she would always listen to her mother’s advice, as she was the one who bought the sundress for her. She still felt disappointed by what she had done to her parents, changing their names to Wendell and Monica, sending them to Australia, all memories of her blocked out. Her parents had understood, and had willingly asked for it all to be done, but she would remember he talk she had with her mother.

They were silent, slowly rocking to the song, until Hermione’s feet tired. Since she did not want to finish dancing, she decided to pick up a conversation with him.

“So…why did you break up with Ginny, Harry?” Harry chuckled at the way she seemed to fish for something to talk about.

“Like you don’t already know,” Harry said, still chuckling. “I saw the extendable ear, Hermione. You heard every word of it.”

Hermione blushed, and Harry could almost feel the heat on her cheeks transfer to his chest.

“I-I was curious,” She said simply.

“About what?” Harry asked, trying hard to mask the hopefulness in his voice.

“Er, I thought she was going to go telling you not to go.” Hermione said half-truthfully.

“Oh. Well, I’ll accept that answer for now, Miss Granger,” Harry said in a stern tone.

Hermione gave a small chuckle and suddenly went quiet.

“What’s wrong?” Harry asked her, worried.

Hermione sighed, but not the contented sigh that Harry would like to hear, but a resigned sigh. “We have to leave soon, you know.”

“Yeah, we’ll probably have to leave tonight if my guess is right.”

“Why’s that? We need some rest, right?” Hermione asked curiously, but Harry could tell that she was still willing to leave, and he could also hear suspicion in her voice.

“Death Eaters might attack here,” Harry whispered in her ear. She would’ve shivered at his hot breath if it wasn’t for the urgent message that came with it.

“Yes, I have thought of that as a possibility,” Hermione said after a few seconds of silence.

“Why am I not surprised,” Harry muttered playfully, earning an equally playful swat on the back of his neck.

“As I was saying,” Hermione continued, “I took the liberty of packing some clothes for us and I have the bag here.” She pointed to the purse on her shoulder. Harry hadn’t noticed the bag before and was surprised when he saw that it was made out of leather and the color was green…emerald green.

“I see you have great taste in color,” Harry noted, coloring a bit. Hermione blushed also.

“Thanks,” she said. She leaned back and looked at him, her arms still around his neck, his hands still on her hips, and she wished she could stay like that forever. She gave a sly grin. “You’ve been working on your moves, Mister.”

“Which ones?” Harry asked with waggled eyebrows.

“Both,” Hermione said, looking down. She had an incredible urge to kiss him on the cheek (or the corner of his mouth), but she relented and looked down before the compulsion grew stronger.

Harry smiled at her as his stomach flipped. She looked incredibly beautiful. Who knew that pink cheeks could make her so kissable? He had planned on talking to her, to confront and ask of her real feelings for him. He couldn’t ask her then, or there would be a chance that she wouldn’t dance with him any more. He wanted it to last as long as it could and make it as enjoyable as possible.

‘Then why not try and make it enjoyable?’ He asked himself. He finally decided…to hell with it.

He slowly lifted his hand up to cup her chin. She looked up at him in confusion for a second until she realized how close they were. She didn’t look back down, and Harry took that as a sign. He leaned in closer to her, keeping his eyes opened for any signal of her wanting him to stop.

She leaned in closer.

They closed their eyes at the same time.

They could’ve sworn that they saw fireworks in the corner of their eyes.

Before their lips touched, a deep baritone voice interrupted them. They opened their eyes at the same and turned around to see the source of the interruption and the ‘fireworks’. It was in the middle of the dance floor; a bright and silver lynx – a patronus, no doubt – standing on its hind legs with its mouth open. They knew it was Kingsley Shacklebolt.

“The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming.”


Author’s Note: Please review. Next chapter, the action starts. Of course you guys know this. Blame JK for the cliffhanger.

I know that about half (or more) have the exact wording of the book. But I’m breaking out of that. Slowly…