Prologue – Wedded Bliss
Notes: This begins in the summer of 2002, after season 6 of Buffy and after The Half-Blood Prince
, book 6 of Harry Potter. Spoilers, etc. Updates to this will be infrequent, at best. This will (later on) contain lesbian relationships as well as canon and crossover pairings, though nothing graphic.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy own Buffy (and I'm sure the WB still has its tendrils in it as well). JK Rowling owns Harry Potter. I'm sure that their lawyers, who are undoubtedly merciless demonic fiends, would not get much out of suing a harmless fic-writer like me.
Prologue – Wedded Bliss
The numerous sounds of bustling women could clearly be heard through the Hogwarts walls as Harry, Ron, Fred, George, Charlie, Mr. Weasley and Bill waited restlessly for the wedding to commence.
"How bloody long do they need to get ready, anyway?" Ron grumbled from his seat. "It's not like any of us will notice the difference anyway..."
"Ron," his father cautioned.
"Yeah, shut up, Ron," Fred said. "Our dear brother is in a bit of a state here." They turned to regard said brother, and Fred began to believe that he had downplayed the situation. Bill was pacing back and forth almost violently, his hands jerking up and down as he restrained the urge to scratch at his scars.
"Calm down, Bill," Charlie told him, putting a hand on his shoulder to try to stop his movement. "If you wear a hole in the floor, fall through and break your legs, I won't be able to give my speech."
"The floor's made of stone," Bill muttered as he continued pacing.
Harry considered putting a Leg-Locker Curse on him, but decided that might do more harm than good. He didn't understand Bill's apprehension; he certainly couldn't see himself acting like this if he was getting married to Ginny.
Startled at the way that thought had slipped into his mind, he scolded himself. He had broken up with Ginny to protect her from Voldemort – but that wouldn't do any good if the dark wizard could pick her out of his thoughts at any time.
"You leave me no choice," George declared. "Accio Fleur's Picture!
" A photograph of Bill's soon-to-be wife shot across the room into his hand, and he shoved it in front of his brother's face. Bill stopped immediately, as the enchanting blonde waved up at him from the frame.
"That should last at least ten minutes," Fred agreed. Mr. Weasley sighed and slumped back in his chair.
Mrs. Weasley, Ginny and Hermione weren't having much more luck with Fleur. Her mother, Angelique, had a lot more confidence in Fleur's relationship with Bill than Fleur seemed to have (though that could be because of her mother’s increased Veela charms). She had decided that indulging her daughter's near-hysteria wouldn't help anything, and so she was absently twirling her own hair in front of the mirror. Gabrielle couldn't help but feel that, at the age of twelve, she should not have to be subjected to this sort of thing, and so she was trying to ignore it.
That left the hard work to the future mother-in-law, sister-in-law and... friend-in-law. Hermione, jumping on the chance to leave the room, had gone to the library and researched beauty-revealing charms. She came back, after double-checking all of the cited sources to insure accuracy, and told Fleur that there was, in fact, absolutely nothing else she could do to make herself look better. She then hastily backtracked and added that, since Fleur looked better than anyone she had ever seen before, that was a good thing.
Ginny was trying a different tactic. "We're really glad you decided to have the wedding at Hogwarts. The school is like our second home, and I think that'll make Bill feel more comfortable." She hoped that Fleur was too absorbed in her own nerves to hear the sounds of pacing coming from the room next to them.
"'E is uncomfortable?!" Fleur asked, almost screeching. "Is eet so 'ard to marry me?" Ginny's head slumped forward in a gesture of defeat.
Harry walked across the room and opened the door. It was getting a bit warm from all of Bill's pacing, and he didn't want to run out of good air.
He went back to his chair, and just as he sat down he saw something gray moving, in the corner of his eye. His head whipped around, and three more of the things ran past the doorway, headed in the direction of the bride's room. "Ron, did you..." Harry began.
"Those things were not
human," Ron declared with an audible gulp. That was all the confirmation Harry needed, and he ran out after them.
" he cried, and red bolts of light shot out of his wand, disabling two of them. He heard the spell echoed in a familiar voice, and turned to see the third fall, the victim of Ginny's wand.
The fourth, however, had gotten past her and was advancing towards Fleur and Gabrielle with a wicked-looking knife. For a moment, everyone froze; no one wanted to risk a thrown knife hitting either of the girls and the creature was too close to risk any offensive spells.
" Hermione finally said, and the blade flew out of its hand and embedded itself in the opposite wall. The gray not-man continued to advance, but she stopped it with a call of "Immobulus!
Fleur and Gabrielle both ran out of the way immediately, the older girl going to Hermione and enveloping her in a stifling hug. Hermione attempted to return it but found that she couldn't move her arms.
Six more cries of "Stupefy!
" sounded and the frozen thing was thrown violently against the wall from the force of Harry, Ginny, Fred, George, Charlie and Bill's stunning spells.
Ron walked over to it, peering at it warily. His eyes widened in shock when he noticed what was on its face. "It has the Dark Mark where... where its eyes should be," he said with a shudder.
"But why would Voldemort want to attack Fleur?" Harry wondered aloud. It didn't make any sense to him, and everyone else seemed to agree.
Everyone but Fleur, that is, who had left Hermione and was now clinging to Bill, who eagerly returned the embrace. "I do not care 'ow I look," Fleur declared. "We must be married now!"
"But the ceremony isn't to start for another—" her mother began.
"I don't think that really matters, Angelique," Mrs. Weasley interrupted.
"Professor McGonagall won't mind," Hermione told them. "And the sooner the ceremony is over, the sooner we can–" she realized what she was about to say and amended, "the sooner Bill and Fleur can start a new life of wedded bliss."
Fleur beamed at her, and then pulled back to Bill for a kiss. When she hadn't released his lips after several minutes, Fred and George put their hands on Bill's shoulders and started pushing him down the hall.
The ceremony went beautifully, but it failed to distract Hermione from her thoughts. She was fairly sure she knew what the mystery attackers were – and if she was right, she wouldn't be finding out much about them at Hogwarts. The Ministry of Magic had a strict policy regarding most human-like demons: pretend they don’t exist, and they won't bother you. A similar policy had completely failed with Voldemort, and yet it persisted.
Luckily, though, Hermione had a resource outside of the normal wizarding world. During one of her summer holidays, she had found out about a real, practicing coven in Devon, not far from her home. She was, not surprisingly, instantly fascinated by them; they used spells and charms and made potions, but all without wands. They had books from a variety of countries and eras and were happy to let her browse through them.
She got out her quill and a piece of parchment, and began "Dear Althanea
..." With the letter, she included pictures of one of the things and its dagger (taken with a Muggle camera, which Mr. Weasley had insisted on bringing).
Right as she was about to go find Harry to ask to borrow Hedwig, he came over to her. "How are you?" she asked, noticing the glum look on his face.
"That's probably the last dance I'll ever have with Ginny," he replied. "And even if it's not, I have to think of it that way, for everyone's sake."
Hermione put her arm around him and gave him a supportive squeeze. "If it makes you feel any better, I'm fairly sure that Ron was trying to break all the bones in my feet."
"So what're you doing?" he asked to change the subject, gesturing to the letter and pictures. "Anything to do with the Dark Mark freaks?"
"I need to borrow Hedwig, actually," she said. "I'm sending this to a witch who stays outside what we think of as the wizarding world."
"So what are those creeps anyway?" Harry persisted.
"I think they're demons," she finally admitted. From the way she was acting, Harry figured she wasn't just talking about a grindylow's cousin. "Not like grindylows, either," she added, echoing his thought. "There's another whole class of demons that the Ministry just ignores."
"Well isn't that just bloody swell," Harry swore. His patience with the Ministry was evaporating further and further.
"Maybe Rufus Scrimgeour will think about changing that..." Hermione suggested, attempting to placate Harry.
"Doubt it," he bit off in reply. He fished around in his robe for a moment and retrieved a copy of the Daily Prophet
," he said, and the picture of Scrimgeour standing at a podium began to speak.
"Now is not the time to trifle with bureaucratic nonsense... We, the decent and upstanding members of the wizarding world, must stand united against You-Know-Who..." it began, until Harry cut it off with his wand.
"They printed a special edition of the paper for Scrimgeour's little speech, but they forgot
to give it an off switch." He emphasized the word "forgot" to make it clear that he believed it wasn't actually an oversight.
"Well, Althanea is usually quick to reply, anyway," Hermione said.
"Oh, right, you need Hedwig," he started, but stopped when he saw the snowy owl flying in to land on the table.
Hermione was glad to see that Harry perked up a bit at the sight of his owl. He had been far too depressed lately; although, given the events of the past few months, she couldn't fault him for it. She attached the letter to Hedwig's leg, and told her where to take it. "We'll probably be at the Burrow when you get back," Harry added. Hedwig gave him a quick nod and a nip on the finger, and then took off. "And now we wait," he said.
"And now we wait," Hermione agreed.