PART TWO: The Wedding, Chapter 4
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including that of Harry Potter, which was created by JK Rowling. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++PREVIOUSLY: Dean and Hermione had sex. Ginny got pissed off at Hermione for that. And then Ron shows up.+++++PART TWO: THE WEDDING, Chapter 4
The wedding had been lovely; neither ostentatious nor restrained, and the couple had had the decency not to write their own vows. Hermione had joined the crowd -- at least two hundred people had been invited -- on the way back to the hotel for the reception, and found herself drinking far too much at the cocktails before. By the time she found her seat, she was already a little unsteady.
Luna plopped down unceremoniously beside Hermione and cast a spell on her. "That should help."
Hermione felt her eyes flutter closed. "Do you mind? I was enjoying that."
"Enjoying what, exactly?" Luna sounded much more arch than usual. "Fresh paint doesn't hide a bad foundation."
"I'll remember that." Hermione glanced in Luna's direction; the other had her hair down, flowing over bare shoulders and a sky-blue gown, nothing at all like Hermione's complicated formal hairstyle and chic dress. "What about them?" she asked, inclining her head at the cake.
"What about them?"
"Oh, never mind."
Luna cocked her head slightly. "If you wanted Ronald," she said, "you should have stayed. Once you left, there was nothing holding him to you. Or the memory of you."
"I know. And I didn't want him."
Luna's bright-blue eyes fixed on her for a long moment. "Maybe that's true."
Whatever Hermione had been about to say was cut off by the sound of an amplified voice announcing the wedding party. She watched as Dean and Ginny entered, arm in arm, followed by George as the best man and a woman named Celia at his side. "And now, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to the newlyweds, Ronald and Romilda Weasley!"
Hermione stood along with everyone else, clapping politely. Ron's formal robes were far better than the ancient costume he'd worn at the one and only Yule Ball she'd ever attended at Hogwarts, and Romilda's sleek white gown was a lovely contrast against her skin and hair. It was all that Hermione found lovely, though; Romilda looked smug and satisfied, holding tight to Ron as he smiled and waved to the guests. Then they were on the dance floor and the band began playing a song Hermione didn't recognize.
"Oliver was going to play, you know."
Luna made a small, contented sound. "Oliver Boyd." Her expression went faraway for a moment. "Ron likes his band very much. I dated him, you know."
"Oh, no!" She laughed brightly. "Oliver and I were together for two years, but I just didn't want to leave him behind while I was off doing research. So we ended things."
"Is he here?"
"No. Ronald invited him, but he couldn't come." Luna was swaying in her seat to the slow beat of the song. "It's too bad. I would have liked to dance."
"Plenty of fish."
Hermione sighed. "In the sea, Luna. Plenty of fish in the sea."
"If you say so."
The song ended and another began; Castor Vane and Molly Weasley joined their children, and a few minutes later, Dean and Ginny along with George and Celia and the rest of the wedding party. Hermione wanted to say something to Luna about how uncomfortable George looked every time he saw Angelina, but Luna was already gone.
Aside from Luna and herself, Hermione didn't recognize anyone at her table, though the couple on her right -- a colleague of Ron's and her husband -- were quite curious to know what was happening in the Muggle world. For lack of anything better to do, Hermione talked to them.
Until Dean put his hand on her shoulder and said, "let me take you away from all of this."
One dance turned into two, and two into four, and four into Hermione pulling Dean out of the reception room and down the hall to the loo, pushing him against the wall, and planting her hands on her hips. "What are we doing, Dean?"
That was clearly not the reaction he'd been expecting. He cast about for the right thing to say, but she rolled right over him. "Dean," she said, trying not to sound too conciliatory, "I'm not staying in the Wizarding world. We can't keep doing this!"
"B... because I like you, and I don't want to h--"
"No, not that." He reached for her, and she let him pull her into a hug. It felt good to be held by him, and the scent of him reminded her of what they'd done only hours before. "Why do you have to go back?"
She pushed away, aching as she did so. "I have a life, Dean. I have a career!"
"And who says you can't have both things in our world? Or work out there but live here?"
"My commute's already a pain, thank you very much."
He laughed a little at that, but it was clear he was forcing it. "I'm being serious, Hermione: I don't want you to cut yourself off from us anymore."
"Don't you mean," she said, more than a little waspish, "that you don't want to be cut off from me?"
"Well, that's rather conceited of you!"
"All bluster, that man," she said. It hit very close to home; his face, which had been so resolute, went soft. "I'm sorry, Dean."
"No," he said. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I like you -- more than like you, Hermione -- enough to want you back in my life. And your friends' lives, too!" When Hermione looked down, she saw his hands flat against the wall, as if he was trying to avoid making them into fists. "Ginny misses you. I miss you. Hell, Hermione, even Ron misses you! And there you are, a few miles away from my shop and Ron's office and everything else, and you pretend we're not even here!"
"Don't say that!" Hermione flattened herself against the far wall, eyes stinging. "I know you're here, and I've not forgotten any of you." A smile touched her lips. "Especially not you."
"Wh--" Dean swallowed hard. "R... really?"
"Oh, Dean," Hermione said, "I missed you. You know I missed you. You always treated me like a person, not a walking spellbook or someone to be possessed. And, after..." Her cheeks went bright. "Oh, after... Dean, you're a wonderful, wonderful man, and in a different life--"
"--you'd be the same Hermione, and I'd be the same Dean, and after tomorrow you'd be gone anyway."
He stalked off, and then she did allow herself to slide to the floor and cry, hot and silent.
She didn't know how long she sat there. The next thing she noticed was someone in a deep green formal dress standing over her. "Go away."
"Oh, do get up, Miss Granger, and wipe your eyes."
Hermione's head snapped up. "Pr... professor?"
Minerva McGonagall offered a kind smile and her hand; Hermione took it, but did most of the work in getting up -- McGonagall hadn't been young even when Hermione'd first gone to Hogwarts. She did, however, take the handkerchief her former teacher offered. "Thank you." She paused. "I didn't even see you before," Hermione said.
"No, you were quite focused on Mr. Thomas, weren't you?"
She chuckled, then wiped her nose. "I guess I was."
"Come," McGonagall said.
"Just... walk with an old woman."
"You will walk with me, Miss Granger." The force of McGonagall's personality was such that Hermione knew she couldn't possibly say no. She found herself led out onto the grounds, back toward the trees surrounding the gazebo where Ron had been married. "You've done well for yourself," she said.
"How... how did you..?"
"I follow all my promising students with interest. You were perhaps the most promising in decades, you know."
"Thank you, but--"
"Don't interrupt me, Miss Granger."
McGonagall smiled. "It does not do to dwell on the past," she said. "Your relationship with Ronald Weasley is part of the past. What happened in the Second War is part of the past." She took a slow breath. "You are here," she said gently, "and this is now."
"What does that even mean?"
"It means," McGonagall told her, "that you shouldn't decide whether or not to stay based upon the past. Do you want to be part of the Wizarding world?"
"Of course, but--"
"But nothing!" Her voice went sharp, and for an instant Hermione was afraid she'd somehow find a way to take House points. "You'll find a way, Miss Granger. You always did."
"Good." McGonagall favored her with a raised eyebrow. "Let's go back. I believe there'll be dessert soon, and I saw a chocolate fountain with which I'd very much like to acquaint myself."
The reception ended about four, which left the guests a lot of time to either go home, go back to work, or lounge about at the hotel. Hermione found herself in Ginny's room -- Mark had gone back to Hogwarts, but promised to return for coffee and dessert later -- along with Luna and Padma. Ginny had appropriated a bottle of wine and conjured some glasses.
"Here's to Ron and Romilda," Ginny said. "May they have every happiness."
"Every happiness," Hermione said, chorusing with the other women. She felt a bit fuzzy; she and McGonagall had drunk far too much scotch together, and it was still in her system.
"Is the wedding night that much better?" Luna asked. Ginny and Padma stared at her, eyes wide. "What? I've never been married."
Ginny's face was turning quite crimson; she looked to Padma for assistance. "She's your housemate."
Padma blinked slowly, then smiled. "It's not about the sex, Luna," she said. "Though there was plenty of it."
"More than plenty," Ginny added. Hermione saw something flit through Ginny's eyes that she'd not seen since Ginny and Harry had dated, all those years past. It made a warm feeling flush through her chest, to see Ginny so happy.
"Fine, then," Padma said. "Yes, Adrian and I made love on our wedding night, but it felt, physically, just like any other night."
Luna looked confused. "Think of it this way," Hermione said. "You've been in love, yes?"
"Of course," Luna said. She sipped her wine. "I loved Oliver very much."
"Was it different after you were in love?"
Luna, who was sitting on one of the beds, leaned and stretched, propping herself up on her elbow, the sky-blue gown a waterfall of fabric over the edge. "I suppose it was."
"There's a level of comfort," Ginny said, "in knowing you'll be together for the rest of your lives."
"Maybe we didn't have that." Luna giggled. "But he's very passionate."
Ginny held up a hand. "Don't tell us, Luna. Please."
"Very well." Luna drained her glass and held it out for more; Ginny poured. "I do hope Ronald is happy with her. She wasn't always nice to me in school."
"That was school," Hermione said. If what Ginny had said was true, Romilda had catted around a fair bit. But everyone changed; even Draco Malfoy had been polite, if a little stiff, when they'd spoken before the ceremony. And his baby son was absolutely precious. "She does seem rather smug about the whole thing, though."
"Just a bit." Ginny finished her glass and poured another, then topped up Hermione and Padma. "I don't think she likes me."
Padma put her hand to her chest. "Why, Ginny, whoever couldn't like you?"
Ginny gave her a dirty look, but Padma was already giggling. "My brother just got married," she said, "and I'll thank you to cut me a little slack!"
"No," she said, disgusted. "Now that the wedding is over, I'm tired of hiding it. That..." She bit her lip. "That woman has driven me out of my mind since the day she came back into Ron's life, and it took everything I had to sit at the table with her and not pour red wine all over that ridiculous dress!"
"But, Ginny, your dress was--"
She cut Luna off, already on a tear. "She's petty, she's bitchy, and she walks all over Ron. He does everything she wants, and seems to actively enjoy it. How?" She set her glass down and wiped her face with her palm; Hermione saw her eyes glittering with tears. "How can he... how can he l-look at me and Mark and call what he has a m-marriage?"
"Oh, Ginny, love." Hermione went across to where Ginny sat on the sofa and gathered her into a hug. Hot tears dripped on her shoulder. "Gin, everyone's different. They have what they want, and you have what you want, and Padma has what she wants."
"Perhaps he's more assertive in the bedroom," Luna said. Hermione gave her a hard stare over Ginny's red curled-for-the-wedding hair; from her tone, Luna was just trying to help, but that was the last thing she thought Ginny needed to think about. Luna mouthed "what?", and Hermione just shook her head.
"Gin, you had your say," Padma said. "Ron's not stupid. You talked to him, and he made his choice. You don't have to agree with it for it to be what he wants."
"I know." Ginny's voice was muffled; she still had her head tucked into the crook of Hermione's shoulder, her breath hot on the bare skin. She looked up at Hermione, tearful. "Can you stay?" she asked. "At least until Mark gets back. If you're going after this weekend, I want all of you I can get."
Padma shook her head at Luna before Luna could insinuate anything. "Come on, Luna."
"All right." Luna got up from the bed. "Hermione, please come say goodbye tomorrow morning, or I'm going to come find you at the hospital, and to hell with the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy. You're not disappearing on us again, not without a proper farewell."
Once Luna and Padma were gone, Hermione said, "was she really that angry?"
Ginny lay down on the couch, her head in Hermione's lap. She made a contented noise as Hermione petted her hair. "You wouldn't know it from looking, but she was furious."
She made an affirmative noise. "She's fierce, you know."
"I remember." Hermione was certain she couldn't have survived in that basement if it had been her and Ollivander. It'd been bad enough just to be there for a few hours. "Ginny, I'm sorry." She had to force the words out; for all the impassioned pleas, was it really Luna Lovegood who'd affected her the most? "I'm so sorry."
She felt Ginny's hand squeeze her knee. "I know."+++++Your continued support, readership, and reviews are, as always greatly appreciated.
Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I've been... busy. Mostly posting my other stories.
Oliver Boyd is the lead singer of "Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls", a wonderful Wizard Rock band -- check them out.
Next time: Hermione goes back to her life, and Jane comes to the forefront... but then someone comes back into her life.