Just like the last few days, everyone at the Burrow must help prepare the house and its garden for the wedding of the oldest Weasley son. Bill Weasley is marrying Fleur Delacour, a beautiful French witch who happens to be quarter – Veela. This causes every man in her proximity to be enchanted with her while they don’t even know what they’re doing most of the time. At first, the rest of the family didn’t really like their future sister – in – law, that changed, though. The moment Bill got hurt by a werewolf and she stayed by his side, is the moment she was fully accepted into the family.
However, this day is also dedicated to something else. Harry Potter, The – Boy – Who – Lived and one of my best friends, is turning seventeen. On his seventeenth birthday a wizard becomes an adult according to Wizarding Law. You lose your Trace, so the Ministry won’t know anymore when you perform a spell, and you get a black line somewhere on your body instead.
The line has nothing to do with the Ministry. No one seems to know where it comes from, how it appears or how it started. Is it an ancient curse that somehow effects every human with magic in their blood? A spell with good intentions? Evolution? No matter how it started, it works the same for everyone. You get it on your seventeenth birthday and one day it will turn into the initials of your true love. People started calling it your fate or your fated one.
Right now everyone's waiting for Harry to show up at breakfast. While the rest of the Weasley family and myself are downstairs, he's alone with Ginny. She’s loved him basically from the day they met and her whole family hopes Harry will officially become a member of the family someday. They’re probably hoping to see a smile on his face, telling everyone she’s his fate.
Not that it will go that way. The day anyone, except Harry himself, will know if he'll spend the rest of his life with Ginny Weasley, is the day the witch celebrates her seventeenth birthday a little more than a year from now. Until then, all the Weasleys can do, is hope. Hope he won't show the initials of another person tattooed on his body before that.
The atmosphere is thence around the table. Even Ron isn't stuffing his face with any food he can find. It's not only Harry's birthday, that everyone wishes to go smoothly simply because he deserves it, or the wedding of Bill and Fleur. There's also a war looming around the corner. The first two are of less importance to me. Well, not my best friend's birthday, but the letters of fate that will or will not morph into G.M.W. Harry can literally not tell anyone unless both he and his fated one have each other’s initials forever written on their bodies.
If it's Ginny, we'll have to wait until next year. If it's not, even Harry won't know for probably a long time. The only other girls around are Fleur, her sister and myself. Fleur is already taken. Since my own birthday, Harry and I have touched each other a lot, and all I have, is a black line right underneath my left breast. That only leaves Gabrielle Delacour on the list of possible candidates at this moment and no one believes she's who Harry needs.
Finally we hear footsteps coming down the staircase. Molly and Arthurs eyes are glued to the place where someone will appear any moment. When I see men's shoes, I stand to greet Harry. Only after we hugged and he sighed, I realise I'm the only one who moved.
We let go and Harry coughs before saying: “Good morning, everyone.”
Hearing Harry's voice seems to bring everyone back. The first reaction on everyone's face is pure relief. Probably relieved we're not kissing or announcing our engagement, because that means Ginny still has a chance. I roll my eyes at their stupidity.
Like I said before, he won't be capable of telling us if his whole world changed or not. So I decide to bring everyone's attention to what really matters. “Happy birthday, Harry!” He smiles shyly, looking at the ground with his hand running through his hair.
“You can now officially use magic outside of school”, I add with a wink. It has the desired effect: laughing is heard through the entire ground floor. Harry had some trouble with the Ministry regarding this already. Ron and his mother are the first to come forward and the others follow. In the middle of a hug with Fred, my best friend looks at me, mouthing ‘thank you'. Those two words are all I need after six years to know what he means: thank you for not asking about the line, thank you for preventing the Weasleys from asking.
When Ginny eventually comes down with red eyes, the talking turns to silence for a few seconds. She sits down, purposely avoids looking at Harry and fills her plate. Just like Harry’s words earlier, this sets the rest in motion again. It’ll be a stressful year for the young witch. She won’t know where the love of her live, or so she still believes, will be, or if she’ll ever see him again. And if she does, will he already be taken by someone else, or will she still have a chance? Only Harry knows.
The rest of the day is spend preparing for the wedding, cooking for Harry's birthday dinner and trying to escape Mrs. Weasley. I pack my enchanted bag every second I can. Now that Harry is seventeen and doesn't have the Trace anymore, we can leave any moment. It won't take long anymore before something makes us disappear.
After everything I pack, I go through the list again: books, a tent, healing potions, Polyjuice potion, clothes, shampoo, toothbrush … I don’t have any clothes or washing items for the boys. That’ll be my new task: find a moment to sneak up to their bedroom and take some stuff. I’d be very surprised if they already packed something, literally anything.
A few hours of cleaning the house later, the guests for Harry start to arrive. Hagrid, Kingsley, Remus and Tonks show up, so do Angelina Johnson and Astrid Scott, respectively Fred and George’s fate. They’re engaged, but neither married. If you’d ask, they’d answer: “It’s up to Bill and Percy first. Wouldn’t want to be better than them at something.” The family hasn’t heard from Percy in a while, though, so maybe they won’t really wait for him.
When I look at these couples, I wish to find out who I belong to. At first I absolutely loathed this, didn’t even know it was a thing until the twin’s birthday. They came downstairs in their finest robes showing off to everyone in the Gryffindor common room. It was quite the spectacle.
“Our dear Wizards and Witches”, Fred declared. “It is with grief that we announce that we reach our doom today”, George followed.
“If anyone would like to comfort us …”
“Feel free to give us a very touchy, skin to skin hug.”
I had no idea what they were talking about and that doesn’t happen very often. In typical twin style, they didn’t wait for anyone to hug them. They demanded one from everyone, literally chasing you if you denied, which happened to Lavender Brown. Both of them came to me with open arms saying: “Hermione, you might just be the one for me.” I hugged them back with a confused look on my face. I could see Harry shrug his shoulders and Ron looked mad about something.
Later they made sure to enter the Great Hall last. Everyone’s eyes were on the redheads. Whether are not, you knew it was their birthday, you knew something was about to happen. And with those two, it could be anything.
“Freddie”, his brother started, “I feel like spreading some love today.”
“And I’m feeling lucky”, Fred followed.
They each started on one side of the Great Hall. Most Slytherin girls didn’t want anything to do with it. The look on Parkinson’s face was priceless, she looked like she swallowed a Blast – Ended Skrewt. Even the students of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang couldn’t escape it. I remember Fleur Delacour being very willing to hug both wizards. She seems to have a thing for the Weasleys, first she said yes to Ron’s proposal for the Yule Ball, then she happily touched the twins and now she’s about to marry another Weasley brother.
Anyway, true to his words, Fred got lucky. Both boys came to the Gryffindor table last and went to those they didn’t see in the tower before breakfast. Out of nowhere, at least in my opinion, Fred was snogging Angelina with the whole school and professors watching. A loud sheering erupted and George started crying of happiness. I still had no clue about what was happening. A feeling I didn’t like at all.
My first plan was to turn to Ron and ask what was going on. Fred and Angelina have been in Hogwarts together since their first year, why now suddenly becoming overly romantic? As could be expected, Ron didn’t really tell me what I wanted to hear.
“It’s the letter thing. Angelina’s already seventeen, you know, so she already knew this would happen.”
That only explained why the Gryffindor chaser didn’t seem surprise to Fred’s sudden display of affection. Across from me, Harry didn’t seem all the wiser either. Since Neville sat on my other side and he’s a Pure-blood, I hoped he could tell us. And he did.
Our friend told us about the line you get somewhere on your body on your seventeenth birthday. It isn’t visible for anyone apart from you. There is one other person who has it in exactly the same place, that person will be your fated one. You can’t chose it, you don’t have any say in it, but apparently everyone eventually becomes genuinely happy with their fate.
From the moment you have that line and you touch that specific person, skin to skin, the line turns into their initials and you can’t ever be with anyone else anymore. It would physically hurt to touch someone else in a romantic way as long as your fate still lives. Only when that person dies, can you try to start a relationship with anyone else, whose in the same position as you.
The downside of it is that you can’t tell anyone if you already know. You can speak about the phenomenon in general, but not your line or letters. If you try, your tongue becomes thick and you won’t be able to produce any sound. The moment both parties know, you can tell or show the world and your initials will be visible for everyone as well.
For example, Angelina might have already known, she’d end up with Fred since her birthday a few days before Christmas. She couldn’t tell or show anyone. Now that they both know, they can’t be in a relationship with anyone else anymore. It must have been wonderful and challenging for Angelina to dance with Fred at the Yule Ball.
The only way to make the connection between you and your fate immensely stronger, is to show your commitment by getting engaged. Or married of course. Which is the reason so many young couples have a long engagement.
After I learned about this aspect of being a Witch, I started looking for more information in books. They didn’t tell me anything, Neville didn’t already. For a long time, like a year and a half, I hoped my line would change into R.B.W. When professor McGonagall told us about the letters of fate at the beginning of sixth year, every Head of House has to do this every year, I figured that maybe Ron wasn’t really who I needed by my side.
For some reason, one always ended up with someone they needed, not who they wanted. So when my birthday came a few days later and nothing happened when Ron gave me a kiss on my cheek, I had to let go of the image of a future with him. Then I feared it would be Harry, luckily nothing changed either. Not that I would’ve hated it, I just don’t see myself with him. He really deserves to be happy with Ginny. Or someone who doesn’t see him as her brother.
When I look at all the couples that fate already paired around me now, I wish I already found mine as well. Something fundamental is missing inside me, while at the same time I don’t want any distraction from the mission we’re about to start. Who knows how long we’ll be gone. Separation wouldn’t do us any good, anyway, and I don’t have the luxury of getting distracted while searching for ways to put an end to Voldemort.
What comforts me is knowing that one day I’ll feel as happy as Bill and Fleur, Fred and Angelina, George and Astrid – who found George on her birthday a month after his when he went to wish her a happy birthday at the Hufflepuff table in the Great Hall – Remus and Tonks – who both had to wait a long time to find their fated one – and Molly and Arthur. No matter who it eventually will be, if I remind myself that we were meant for each other, everything will be alright.
Forcing myself to abandon this line of thinking, I focus on celebrating Harry again. He looks genuinely happy, apart from the occasional glance at the ginger girl next to me. It would be romantic if you forget that they might be filled with sadness from his side. But seeing him having animated conversations with everyone, shows he enjoys this day nonetheless. When was the last time he got a proper birthday? The only possibility would be here at the Burrow, but I can’t remember if he was ever here so early in the summer.
To end this joyous birthday, the shop owners brought something special for their sixth brother: fireworks. There’s nothing normal about the fireworks from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. They left Hogwarts while professor Umbridge was being followed by a dragon of firework. Now it’s a snitch zooming towards the guests, circling around Harry’s head to take flight and disappear in the clouds. The snitch becomes visible again, only to finally explode and reveal ‘Happy Birthday’ in bright reds and golds, Gryffindor colours. Obviously the apotheosis is met by deafening applause.
Later that night, when all the guests left, we help Mrs. Weasley clean up. Well, the girls help and the boys sulk. Since Ginny is not allowed to use magic yet, I offer to clean up by hand with her. However, Mrs. Weasley is efficient, so the garden and kitchen are back like before in no time.
Everyone is yawning now that there’s nothing left to do. It was an exhausting day. Preparing for the wedding when the host does everything she can to keep you busy so you can’t plot anything with your friends, is tiresome. Ginny and I wish everyone goodnight, closely followed by Ron and Harry. Normally I’d sneak off to them in an hour or so, but tonight I can see my best girlfriend doesn’t want to be alone with her thoughts.
Like predicted, when I’m in the middle of mentally going over the list of things I still need to pack, Ginny whispers my name, so I turn around to face her. She’s lying in her own bed with only her silhouette visible because of the darkness.
“What’s wrong, Ginny?” I whisper back.
“It’s not you, is it? Because if you are, you don’t have to spare me by keeping it secret.” She doesn’t have to explain what it means, her uncertain tone is enough.
“No, Ginny. Don’t worry, it’s not me”, I reassure her. The ginger is not normally self – conscious, but these letters of fate are really worrying her. A few feet away, a sigh filled with relief is made, followed by the sound of a cracking bed.
“Do you think it could be me? That my letters already appeared on his body? That he knows who he’s meant for?”
“I don’t know”, I sigh myself. It would make everyone we know so happy, if they were meant for each other. On the other side, she might never know. Maybe Harry won’t live to see her seventeenth birthday. I know that’s doom thinking, but it’s realistic. Of course, I won’t tell her that, I’m not insensitive.
“You could be”, I say instead, which is true, “I guess only Harry has an answer to that for now, and we both know he can’t tell us yet. But if it’s not you, chances are high, Harry won’t know himself for a long time.”
“So there won’t be any beautiful girls where you’re going?” She’s fishing for information. Which is logical, Ginny has to see her lover, brother and good friend leave on a mission she knows nothing about. And it should stay that way.
“I’m pretty sure there won’t be, don’t worry.”
“Thanks, Hermione. I don’t know why I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m not an insecure, emotional witch, you know.” This time, determination is clear in her voice, while I’m laughing. Just a little.
“We all know that, Ginny. You made it into the Slug Club for a very specific reason.” I’d wink if she could see me. Luckily, I managed to make her laugh too. Even if it’s just a little and only for a little while. What can I say? The whole school was suddenly afraid of her Bat - Bogey Hex.
“To answer your other worries: you love him, so it’s normal to wonder. But all we can do is wait. So I suggest you let go for now and simply enjoy his company for as long as you can.”
“I will. You’re a great friend, Hermione. I’ll miss you when you’re gone.” With an afterthought, she adds: “A shame you won’t be marrying any of my brothers.”
Without commenting on her last statement, I wish one of my all-time best friends a good night. I’ll miss her too. At least I could still talk about girl stuff with Ginny, she understood me better than Lavender or Parvati. Oh, the things these girls said. Things will be different as the only girl in my surroundings for Merlin knows how long. The fact that I really need to finish packing, is the last thing on my mind before I fall in a dreamless sleep.
The day of the wedding of Bill and Fleur is beautiful. The sun is shining and only a few clouds travel across the blue sky. The weather is one thing we don’t need to worry about, but Mrs. Weasley seems to find enough other things. She won’t sit still for a second, walking around the house and garden, checking everyone’s clothes. We’re all wearing formal wizarding clothes or Muggle suits and dresses, she inspects every inch of them. No one can get her to stop, although we all try.
When the guests finally start arriving and the wedding’s about to start, the mother of the groom calms down a little. I sit next to Harry and Ron on the second row behind the older Weasleys. The tent is filled with friends and family, a lot of Bill’s family. I don’t know where they found all these people, the bride and groom don’t even seem to know all their guests.
The ceremony is simple. Bill and Fleur both say their vows, sweet but short, rings are exchanged while magic robes bind their hands together. The last thing that needs to be done, is placing their hands over the letters of fate on the body of their new spouse when they kiss as husband and wife for the first time. Theirs are hiding beneath their clothes on their left hip, so invisible, but that doesn’t matter.
With one swish of Bill’s wand the chairs disappear and small tables and a dancefloor take their place. He escorts his wife to the dancefloor and they officially start the party. We can take food whenever we want as long as we eat at our assigned table.
Of course Ron wants to eat first and he gets an eyeroll in return from both Harry and I. We eat, talk to friends from Hogwarts and Weasley family members. Harry and I share a dance when Ron gets more food. It’s been a while since I laughed this hard and genuinely enjoined myself. Ron asks me for the next dance and Harry goes to Ginny who happily accepts.
“Why did they even start dating, if she can’t handle the uncertainty now?” Ron asks suddenly.
We weren’t really having a conversation, so his statement confuses me for a moment. It’s not hard to know who he’s talking about, though. When I turn around to see Harry and Ginny dancing together, my heart sinks. They both look so in love and in pain at the same time. But the fact that they’re dancing together now, is probably a good sign.
“They loved each other, Ron”, I answer, looking back at him. “You know how hard it was for Ginny to see him with Cho in fifth year, and how mad Harry was at Dean for dating your sister last year. Why did you date Lavender?”
“To have some fun”, he whispers blushing. “But I knew, I didn’t want to spent the rest of my life with her. That’s different. And as it turned out, Dean was not looking for a girl.”
It’s true that the reason they broke up, was that Dean got someone else’s letters crafted into his skin. Everyone knew who it would be, just because he suddenly avoided that person as much as possible. Well, everyone knew, except Seamus, he didn’t understand why his best friend didn’t want to talk to him anymore. When Dean didn’t even wish him a good birthday, Seamus lost it. He took his friend’s hand out of anger, but instead of screaming at him, his mouth dropped open in understanding. He felt his line changing. It was death quiet in the common room. Then Seamus grabbed Dean’s face, to snog him breathless while everyone in the common room was cheering.
“And you’re sure Lavender thought the same?” I ask Ron, going back to the real subject of this conversation.
“She’s with Justin now”, Ron shrugs. “She’s over it. Maybe during our relationship she hoped we’d be together, but she’s happy with her fate now.”
I wouldn’t say they’re happy with each other. I haven’t seen them since the end of school a month ago, so I don’t know what happened since then, but they didn’t talk to each other for a week when they found out. It was an accident really, bumped into each other while entering the Great Hall and lost balance, causing them to grip the other. They stormed into the corridors screaming that the other just ruined their life for the whole school to witness. It turned into great gossip between Gryffindor and Hufflepuf. Nearing the end of the school year, things got better, but I still wouldn’t have used the word ‘happy’.
“We should support them, the best we can”, I tell my ginger friend again. “Ginny already asked if we were going to run into a lot of girls where we were going.”
“It scares me, ‘Mione. I’ve never seen my sister like this before.”
Before I can say something back, a bright blue light floats through the roof of the tent. Immediately everyone stops dancing and focuses on the Patronus that’s taking form. A lynx, Kingsley. This can’t be good.
“The Ministry has fallen. They are coming”, Kingsley Shacklebolt’s voice informs us.
My first instinct is to grab my wand and Ron’s hand. My eyes scan the room looking for Harry, while most people are disapparating. When I spot him, he’s walking back to back with Ginny towards Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Those who’re still here, are in full fighting mode.
“Come on, Ron, hurry. We got to get to Harry”, I shout back at him.
“The moment we get him, you apparate us away, Hermione. Think of some place Muggle.”
“Harry!”, I yell. He notices us and fires a spell our way, hitting someone behind us. Death Eaters are arriving. As fast as I can, I drag Harry a few feet away from Ginny and apparate us to Muggle London.
For a moment we just stand in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, catching our breath. Hopefully the others will be alright, we can’t contact them now anymore until we know it’s safe for both sides. I can’t believe this happened. I mean, something was bound to happen, but not during Bill’s wedding. This was supposed to be the best day of their life.
Slowly I start to move and take the boys with me. We need to find a place to change out of these fancy clothes and find a place to stay so we can discuss our next move. Luckily I packed everything already and had my bag with me when the Patronus came. They didn’t catch Harry, that’s the most important thing right now. We can start our journey. Let the Horcrux hunt begin.