Ginny Potter stifled a yelp when the floorboard creaked beneath her foot. That was silly. This is my parents' house. It's not foreign to me. It's as close to the house I grew up in as anyone could possibly rebuild. I even lived right here in the new Burrow myself, before Harry and I married. She stifled the little voice that reminded her that everyone else, including her husband, was in bed, and that she was heading for her nearest brother's door on the night before his wedding. That couldn't be normal, even without the golden loving cup in her hands—an heirloom cup, marked with the arms of her mother's family, which she'd found in her suitcase along with a note in her favourite great aunt's handwriting.
It's the ancient custom of the Prewett family that a sister will share a cup of wine with her brother on the night before he weds, and have a little chat about his feelings for his bride. This cup has been passed down for more generations than I care to count. It appears when it's needed, and it always preserves the family's honour.
Whatever happens, know that you've done the right thing, that the cup and the family magic it embodies have judged, not you, and that it's the best result for all your loved ones. In the end, everyone involved will understand.
Eugenia Prewett had died less than a year after Ginny's own wedding. She was certain she'd never seen cup or note before she discovered them, and a half-bottle of wine, tucked between her nightgown and her dressing gown. Well, Auntie Eugenia was the Charms Mistress at Hogwarts for fifty years—she only retired when she was certain Professor Flitwick was ready to take over, and before she left she extracted Unbreakable Vows from both Dumbledore and the governors to hire him—and she had a Mastery in Runes besides. Not to mention her House Elves were very loyal. See, there are at least two perfectly logical explanations. It's only a cup of wine, a charming old family custom that deserves a revival. Everything will be fine.
Hadn't Ron finally shown everyone he was mature enough to marry Hermione? Hadn't he convinced the smartest witch of her generation that, even if he hadn't gone back to finish Hogwarts the way she had done, the way Harry had done, he'd matured, gained wisdom, made himself into a man who was worthy of her? Or is it just that she'd never for an instant consider taking Harry from me, and marrying Ron seemed like the only way she could stay near to her best friend?
Ginny steeled herself, and knocked at the door. "Ron? Are you asleep yet?"
"Gin-gin? What are you doing here?"
"I just came to talk. And I brought you a drink."
"Oh, all right, Gin." She heard Ron's heavy tread on the floor. He opened the door. "Come in. Is that wine? I'd rather have Firewhiskey, if you'd asked me first, but sure, wine's fine. It's got alcohol in, hasn't it?"
"Yeah. It's red wine from the d'Allobroge sisters' vineyard. You remember them, don't you? They came to our wedding. Harry's and mine."
"They're cousins of Fleur's.”
“Yeah, well, Fleur's got nearly as many cousins as we've got, hasn't she? I sometimes have trouble keeping track of our lot, and I've known them all my life.”
“The youngest one, Sandrine, is Gabrielle's best friend, practically another sister to her. Later on during the reception, when most of the boys were worn out, they danced together, and Aunt Muriel started nattering about 'French hussies showing off their unnatural relationship.' Mum overheard, and for a couple of minutes I thought she might challenge the old bat to a duel. I'm pretty sure it was the first time since before we were born that anybody told Aunt Muriel where to get off. It was a pure delight to listen.” Ron was there at the table, as I recall. Was he too busy ignoring Hermione and staring at Gabrielle and Sandrine to attend to anything else?
Her brother grinned. "Oh, right, those Frogs. Nice tits, I'll say that for them. Even on the one who was practically Mum and Dad's age."
Ginny stifled a correction. It's just Ron being Ron, making a little joke because he's getting married tomorrow and that's stressful. You remember how nervous you were on the night before, don't you? If he needs to let off steam, he can say something mildly rude about people who aren't here to be offended right now, and he doesn't need his sister reproving him. "In any case, Ron, they make lovely wine. Here, I'll drink some, just to show you it's not contaminated or something." She took a deep draught. It was lovely stuff, even better than the bottle of the same vintage she and Harry had shared when they celebrated their first anniversary. She offered the cup to Ron.
He sniffed at it. "All right. It smells fruity, but it's alcohol. I'll drink it." He quaffed, then wiped the corner of his mouth with the sleeve of his pyjama shirt. "Hey, not bad, not bad. So, you just came by to bring me a nightcap? Why didn't Harry bring it? Or at least come with?"
"Because this is a family custom. It's for a sister and her brother, silly."
"Sister? But you're the first Weasley girl in nine generations!"
Ginny chuckled. "Other side, Ron. This is the Prewett cup that Auntie Eugenia left me."
"Oh, okay. So, did you do this for Bill? Cos I can't believe Mum would've let you go running round in the middle of the night with a full cup of wine when you weren't even sixteen yet."
"Auntie didn't tell me about it until later. I expect she thought it would've been awkward as well. But now we're all old enough, so it's time to revive the custom."
Ron looked down at the cup. "Oh, right. Well, thanks for the drink, Gin. You can go now."
"Wouldn't you like to chat for a bit?"
"Oh, all right, Gin." They sat down on Ron's bed, him at the head and her at the foot. She tried not to think about how much this reminded her of the days when she was little, back before either of them went to Hogwarts, when they were best friends as well as siblings. "Sure. So, how about those Cannons?"
"Well, they've a better starting side this year than than they've had since Mum and Dad were ickle Firsties, and some promising alternates, but I still think we can beat them."
"What? Who's... oh, right. Sorry, Gin, I kind of forgot you were playing for the Harpies these days. Well, who knows, maybe the Cannons will have an opening sometime and you'll be able to join up with a real team. You're a good flyer, as girls go, and they might take you."
Ginny shook her head. "We'll just have to see. In any case, Ron, I'm so happy that you've finally settled down and gone to work with the Aurors. You've grown up a lot. And I'm glad Hermione sees it as well."
Ron snorted laughter. "Oh, yeah. Herms is pretty good, these days. I think I've finally got her calmed down a bit." He chortled, and took another drink.
"Well, I did have to learn how to push the right buttons, like. A few words about House Elf rights, a little volunteering at her daft charity events, and I've got her eating right out of my hand. I can't say I haven't had to make some real sacrifices, but I'm sure it'll be worth it in the end. She turns out to be a pretty decent lay, after all." He gulped down more wine, and didn't offer the cup to his sister.
Which is fine by me. "Really, Ron?"
"Yeah. I mean, the muff-diving thing is kind of weird and annoying... really, a bloke's got to do all that just to get a simple blowjob? I can't wait till we're married, so I don't have to put up with that particular bloody chore. Although maybe if she'll start keeping herself shaved down there, I might be willing to do it once in a while. Throw her a bone, hey? After all, she'll get my bone after. Haw! That's a good one, isn't it?" He guffawed, sounding more like a braying ass than a man, and Ginny was glad for the improved sound-proofing charms that had been put in when the Burrow was reconstructed.
Not to mention I'm glad I left my wand on the dresser next to Harry's . I don't think I'd actually hex my own brother , but I'd bloody well be tempted. "What? Ronald Bilius Weasley, did you never hear the saying 'What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander?'"
He narrowed his eyes at her, as if he wasn't sure she'd said what he thought she'd said. "What do geese have to do with blowjobs, Gin-Gin? Other than being birds, of course, heh heh."
"I really don't like to talk about Harry's and my sex life, Ronald, but he's always been delighted to do that for me. Not to mention very good at it. Sometimes I think he actually enjoys going down on me even more than when I reciprocate."
Ron snickered. "Ha! Good one there, Gin. You almost had me believing you. I mean, I'm sure Harry doesn't put up with that rubbish any more than I would, now he's a married man. Don't get me wrong, he'd better treat my little sister right, but there are limits, for Merlin's sake." Ron drank again. His movements were a bit off, as if an ancient magic in the heirloom cup had transformed the smooth Rhône Valley syrah into a liquor as potent as the rough spirits some of their own relations distilled away in the fens.
"Ron, is that really how you feel about Hermione? The girl who's been one of your two best friends since your First Year?"
Ron's brow furrowed for a moment. "Yeah, she was kind of fun when we were kids. Sometimes I almost forgot she was a girl, cos she was nearly as good company as Harry. And the help with the homework was a bit of all right, yeah. But her tits were never as good as Lav's, even when they did finally start growing. Might've gone for Lav, really—permanent-like, I mean, not just that bit of the old slap and tickle in Sixth Year—except she turned out kind of mental and stuff, and that's even before the werewolf thing. Not that Herms isn't mental as well, in her own way, but since I figured out how to work with her it's been pretty all right."
Ginny's control slipped, and a little growl started in her throat. She forced herself to giggle, for cover. "You're so clever, big brother. But why didn't you go for somebody else, if that was how you felt about Hermione?"
He looked down at the cup, and drank again. "Well, at first I figured since she was a Muggleborn she'd be an easy lay, just like the lads always said they all were, and then when she wasn't, well, it was kind of a challenge. And once I'd finally got that far I didn't feel like dumping her just yet, and it hit me that an Auror's salary isn't all that much, so it would be nice to have the extra money from her working at the Ministry once we got married. Hell, we could probably even afford to get a House Elf after a few years, or maybe you and Harry could lend us Winky to help out once in a while? Herms would insist on paying the creature, of course, but it wouldn't be that much, and then she could go back to work even if we did have kids. And the best thing is that Herms would think it was all her idea."
"I tell you, this 'independent woman' shite the Muggles invented turns out to be pretty bloody brilliant for a bloke who knows how to use it right. In fact, I'm thinking if I tell Herms it's about 'female empowerment' and 'reclaiming' something or other, there's a good chance she'll finally let me put it up her tight little arse. I've been curious about that ever since I read about it in Penthouse Forum, and I reckon it's the least she can do after making me wait so bloody long just to shag her the regular way." He cackled. "Of course, come tomorrow night I might just order her to get face down, put her bum up, and let me give it a go."
"What the Hell, Ronald?"
"It's in the vows, innit? Honour, obey, and all that, right?" He laughed and guzzled more wine. Was the cup beginning to change, somehow? To shine, as if somebody had cast a focussed Lumos?
There is no point in explaining to Ron that wedding vows bind both ways. There is no point in explaining to Ronald that wedding vows bind both ways. There is no bloody point in explaining to bloody Ronald Bilius—who is unfortunately a Weasley—that wedding vows bind both fucking ways.
"Eh, Gin-gin? You say something there?"
"Nothing, Ron." She looked him in the eye. His gaze was going a bit glassy. "Do you really feel that way about your lovely fiancée, who is also one of my very dearest friends? She was my Maid of Honour, you know. And I'm hers. Well, I reckon actually I'm Matron of Honour, but she wouldn't have it any other way."
"What? Herms? Your friend?"
"She is. And she and Harry saved my life. You know, Ron, there were times when I truly used to wish that Mum and Dad had just disowned me at the end of First Year, so Harry and Hermione could claim me as their very own little ginger love slave. In fact, when I gave myself my first real orgasm, just a fortnight or so before my twelfth birthday, I was imagining how the two of them would pin me down on the bed and take me, after they'd spent hours teasing me whilst I did household chores wearing nothing but the collar they'd put round my neck." She couldn't help smiling. Even if telling him wasn't a bit of revenge for what he said about Hermione, it's such a splendid memory.
Ron made a face. "Ew, Gin, I didn't need to hear that. Not that I really want to hear Herms talking about her daft little fantasies, either, but you're my sister! I mean, okay, fine, I suppose it makes sense that girls would wank, or rub off, or whatever the fuck you call it, but for Merlin's sake you're not meant to tell me about it." He took another long pull at the wine.
"That's pretty bloody rich, coming from the man who—in spite of being my brother—just complained to me about the so-called chore of having to go down on Hermione, one of the brightest and most brilliant and loyal and loving and true Witches in Britain, not even to mention that she's gorgeous. I'd far rather do that for her myself every night than have you ever touch her again."
"What the Hell? You're no fucking cauldron-licking dyke, Gin! You're married! To Harry! Anyhow, Herms is marrying me. T'morrow. I'll get to touch her all I want. More'n that, I'll get to fuck her all I want, heh heh. All I want, any way I want." Ron upended the cup, draining whatever was left. A blood-red dribble ran down his chin. He tried to put the golden vessel down on the bed, but it clung to his hand. The cup glowed cherry-bright, like an iron bar in a blacksmith's forge, and the Prewett crest embossed on the side had gone from yellow gold to pure blinding white. Ordinary gold would long since have melted, were it as hot as it looks, some irrelevant part of Ginny's mind observed. Then again, it doesn't seem to be burning Ron, or the duvet, either.
Her brother stared at her, now, wide-eyed, as if he'd finally noticed that something out of the normal was afoot. His lips moved, but no words came from them.
"No, Ron, I don't think you will. Good night. And whatever happens next, wherever you're bound, may God and Merlin bless you, brother, and may you find the way back to your better nature in the end. Despite it all, I do still love you." Ginny stood up, and kissed Ron's forehead. It was clammy with sweat. She stepped back. Was the outline of his body beginning to waver, like some strange slow-motion Apparition?
She turned, and didn't look again. Gently, firmly, she shut the door behind her. Padding on bare feet, she climbed one flight down the stairs and slipped back into the exact replica of her childhood room.
Harry was slumbering peacefully. She hung her dressing gown from the hook beside the door, and watched him for a moment in the little ray of moonlight streaming through the shutters. Oh my love, my darling, my heart. I hope you'll forgive me for what I just did. Or at least that you'll understand I had to do it. I hope you and Hermione will both forgive me, someday. Just in case, she fixed the image of her sleeping husband in her mind as a memory she could cherish forever, and then she slipped into bed.
He stirred. "Mm, Gin."
"I just needed the toilet, Harry. Sorry to wake you."
"S'fine." He turned and took her in his arms. "Y're warm." Half asleep, he kissed her. It was heavenly. And when they were done, his eyes were fully open. "Ginny? Would you like to..."
"Please, Harry?" She chuckled low in her throat. "Making love to you in my own childhood bed is one of my very oldest fantasies. Even during that summer when I was squeaking and not looking you in the eye, I would lie there every night, thinking about how you'd looked that day, and try my very hardest to imagine all the things we might have done together if only Mum had put you to bed with me. I didn't really come until almost a year later, but it felt awfully nice."
"As you wish, darling." He kissed his way down her throat, opening the buttons of her nightgown. "Mm, you smell good. And I'm glad you had fun that way, even when I was too much of a daft little boy to get to know you as I should have done." He nuzzled her breast. "For what it's worth, I did notice that you were pretty, even if I didn't understand why I noticed."
"Mm, thank you."
He'd finished with the buttons, and now her whole front was bare. He pushed the nightgown back off her shoulders. "Here we are, love, let's just get this out of the way."
She buried her nose in his hair as he helped her out of her garment. "Oh, Harry! Please, take me! As if it were the last time, my love."
He chuckled. "It won't be. But as you wish, my Ginny."
The next morning, Ginny and Luna and Fleur were busy getting Hermione's gown and hair and make-up just right when someone knocked at the door. "Ginny? Have you got a moment?"
She forced a laugh. "Don't come in here, Harry. Unless maybe you want an eyeful of Hermione's knickers, love? They are awfully nice ones..."
He chuckled "Don't worry, love! I'm not a Peeping Tom. And you know, it seems I'm already married to this gorgeous ginger Witch. I don't need to perv on my best friend."
Hermione blushed. "It's not as if you couldn't let my skirts down for a moment. And he is my best friend, dearer than a brother. It's not as if I'm marrying him, so it wouldn't be bad luck—Ginny? Is something wrong?"
"Oh. Sorry. It's nothing. I think breakfast is just sitting a little funny in my stomach."
"I am sorry to disturb the preparations," Harry said through the door, "but something's come up. It's nothing big, but Molly's busy and I know as a man that I'm hopeless with flower arrangements, so I'm afraid I'd better ask my lovely wife to have a look at it. Could you come out for just a minute, Ginny, please?" There was a little strain in his voice, although he hid it very well.
Hermione's eyes narrowed slightly, as if she'd noticed something amiss. Which makes sense, because she's probably the only person on the face of the Earth who knows Harry as well as I do. I have to admit that, even after nearly three years of marriage, there are some ways in which she likely knows him better. "Please go, Ginny. I'll be fine for a minute without my Matron of Honour. As long as you're there to stand with me, I'll be all right."
"Do go, please, Ginevra, and help your handsome husband," Luna said gently. "All will be well, and very well, my dear friend. You've no cause for fear."
Ginny swallowed. "Right. I suppose I'd better go and see whatever my husband's worried about."
Fleur laughed lightly, musically. "Yes, do, please, Ginny. And then come right back to help us make our lovely future sister even more ravishing than she already is, yes?"
"All right." She went to the door, and slipped out into the corridor. Harry had turned his face to the opposite wall. She wanted to laugh. She also wanted to hug him close and slip her tongue down his throat, to thank him for being so darling and kind and faithful and loyal. So unlike Ron... Oh, Harry, my heart, I know I've done the right thing for Hermione's sake. I know I've done it for yours as well. I just hope you'll be able to forgive me, someday. Or at least that you'll understand I was acting purely out of love for you both... She laid her hand on his shoulder. "Here I am. And the door's closed."
He turned about and embraced her. "Thank you, Ginny." He took a deep breath. "The problem is... we can't find your brother. I thought he was just sleeping late, but when I went to roust him the bed was empty. When we saw that, Bill and George and I reckoned he'd got up early and gone off for a fly, but his broom's still in the shed, and so are all the others. We've searched everywhere. I'm sorry."
"It's not as if it's your fault, Harry. That is, if Ron's decided to pull off some silly prank and pretend he ran away, I'm sure you didn't do anything to encourage him."
"Oh, right. I just... I admit I was worried right after they got engaged about whether Ron was serious about marrying Hermione. I even wondered if he'd call it off once the excitement wore off and he got to thinking about what it would mean to actually live the rest of his life with her. But the last few months he seemed to have really settled down. I've been so happy to think that the man who's the nearest thing to a brother I've ever had was going to marry my best friend and I was going to stand with him just the way he stood with me when I married his gorgeous sister." He kissed her lightly on the lips, and it was all she could do not to deepen it.
"I'm sure everything will be fine, Harry."
"You're right, Ginny. Charlie Floo'd over to the Cauldron, and George headed for Hogsmeade to see if he's in the Hog's Head or the Three Broomsticks. Your cousins are checking the Muggle pubs in the village. Somebody will find him, and he'll do his duty, even if Bill and I have to kick his arse first." Harry's laugh only sounded slightly forced. "Ron's always come through in the end, hasn't he?"
"He has," Ginny said. She kissed her husband, just because she could. "You'll see, it's all going to be fine. Just you make sure you're there when the time comes for you to do your duty as best man, my love. I'll go back in and do mine in making our Hermione the most ravishing bride she can possibly be. And don't worry. I'll make certain not to let on to her in the slightest."
He squeezed her. "Thanks, love. I'll sweep round the farmyard one more time, just in case Ron's hiding in the barn under Disillusionment, laughing at us. And then I'll get my dress robes on. As soon as he shows up, we'll be ready to go."
"Thanks, Harry. You've got the rings, yeah?"
He patted his pocket. "Right here."
Four hours later, they were waiting under the same tent in which Bill and Fleur had been married. Ginny stood by Hermione, close enough to lend support without, she hoped, seeming to hover. Harry paced back and forth, checking his watch every other minute. At last, the Wizarding priest from Ottery St. Catchpole—they'd asked him to do the ceremony, as a concession to Hermione's mother's parents, who'd no objections to magic, being the daughter of a Squib and the older brother of a Muggleborn Hufflepuff who'd moved to Australia after finishing Hogwarts in 1952, but thought register office weddings an undignified modern custom—cleared his throat. "I take it the bridegroom is absent?"
"We've checked everywhere, Father," Bill said. "None of us can work out where my brother's gone to."
"If he'd only got cold feet and headed for France to join the Magical Foreign Legion," George said, "the lot of us would have found him by now, kicked his arse—begging your pardon, Father—and brought him back here in fit condition to be married. But it's as if he's vanished to the other side of the world or something."
"There's no sign of foul play," Harry said. "I hate to say it, but it really does look as if he's done a runner."
The priest straightened his glasses. "I see. Well, I'm sorry to say it, Mister Potter, but it looks as if you're going to have to do your duty."
"As an Auror? I'll do everything in my power to track Ron down, both to be sure he's all right and to give him a right earful for what he's done to my other best friend, but unless there's clear evidence that he's in danger, that or a warrant out for his arrest, there's only so much I'm legally permitted to do. And skipping out on a wedding, obnoxious and thoughtless and immature though it is, hasn't been a crime in centuries."
The priest chuckled. Somehow there wasn't any humour in. "Actually, Mister Potter, I'm talking about your duty as best man. Since the bridegroom is absent, you're required, under the oldest magical laws, to marry the bride."
Harry's face went still for a moment, as if he was trying to work out if he'd actually heard what he thought he heard. "What? I'm sorry, si—that is, I'm sorry, Father, but I'm not empowered to celebrate a wedding. And in any case Ron's not here, so I don't see what good it will do. I don't believe we've grounds for a proxy marriage. And isn't that more your line of work, in any case?"
"I'll be the celebrant, of course, Mister Potter. But what I mean is that you'll have to take your friend's place, not as a proxy, but as a substitute. Under the oldest magical laws, you've no choice but to become Miss Granger's husband."
"I'm married." Harry spoke at a normal conversational level, but the words rang out across the tent as if he'd cast an Amplifying Charm. "I'm sorry, Father, but it's true. Hermione's been my best friend since we were only ickle Firsties, and I'd do anything humanly possible to help her, but I can't do that. Ginny and I are married."
The priest looked grim. "That doesn't matter, Mister Potter. You're the best man, you are not related to the bride within the prohibited four degrees of consanguinity, and therefore you will take the responsibility your friend has either abandoned or lost. Under circumstances such as this, your marrying a second wife is both legal and moral. More than that, it's required."
Harry looked as if the entire world had just crashed down about him. "I can't believe this is happening. Hermione, I'm sorry. I can't give up Ginny. I wish I could split myself into two different people, but I can't."
"It's all right, Harry," Ginny said. "You can marry Hermione. I'll stand with you both."
"Although it's true that plural marriage is so uncommon as to be practically unknown in today's magical world," the priest said, "under the circumstances it's perfectly legal, Mr. Potter. You'll not be dissolving your relationship with Mrs. Potter, you'll simply be adding a second Mrs. Potter."
"I was already intending to keep my maiden name, at least for professional purposes," Hermione said. There was a slight smile on her face, much to Ginny's surprise. "This just gives me another reason. If you and Ginny will have me, Harry, I'll marry you. And Ginny, I'm sorry for this. I promise I'll always do my very best never to come between you and Harry."
"I know you will, Hermione," Ginny said. "You're my dearest friend, and I trust you. With my life, with my marriage, with everything. We'll all three of us be fine, Harry. Just hand me the rings, please, and I'll act the part of the best man."
Moving like a man in a dream or a trance, he reached in his pocket and brought them out. "As you wish, Ginny."
The priest smiled, a bit of colour coming back into his face. "Actually, Mrs. Potter, your role is a little more significant even than that. You're not just standing with your husband as he marries your sister wife, you're welcoming her into your marriage. It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that you are marrying her, yourself."
The wedding rite was a bit of a blur for Ginny. She handed the rings to her husband and to her co-wife, if that was the word, and she found herself mouthing the vows along with each of them. Harry's and Hermione's faces began to change as the ceremony went on, from looks of shock and sadness to a pure shining joy that warmed her heart. She would have hated to think she was trapping the two best friends she loved so much into a situation they'd never be able to stand. I know that in the end they'll be happy together, even if they never forgive me for what happened to Ron. Even if I never forgive myself. At least I'll be happy that Hermione's safe, and that Harry's happy with his best friend. And I'll be grateful that I had him for a little while. Really, it's a wonder that they didn't become a couple before they sat their OWLS and marry before they left Hogwarts, that I was ever anything more to either of them than a sort of surrogate little sister.
"Mister Potter, Mrs. Potter," the priest said, startling Ginny out of her wandering thoughts, "you may kiss the bride."
Harry brushed back the veil, and took Hermione in his arms. They kissed. Ginny was surprised at how lovely it was to see her husband kiss her best friend. She was still thinking about that when Hermione put her arms about her and, right there before the altar and everyone, kissed her on the lips.
She hadn't really been expecting that, but as soon as Hermione's lips touched hers she knew it was what the rite, more than that, what magic itself meant them to do, and she did her very best to kiss Hermione right back. It was amazing, almost like kissing Harry. When at last they parted lips, and looked each other in the eyes, Ginny wondered how many minutes had gone by, and if everyone was staring at them. But Hermione's eyes were sparkling, and somehow she couldn't care.
She looked over at Harry. His eyes were sparkling as well. And somehow, without any discussion, or even any conscious thought, at least on Ginny's part, the women reached out and drew their husband into their embrace. Three sets of lips met, and they were kissing, all of them, together. She would have expected a three-way kiss to be messy and awkward, but instead it felt completely natural, as if the three of them had been born to kiss each other. She felt warm inside, and happy, as if her husband had just become a polygamist and married his best friend for no other reason than because all three of them wanted it that way.
Somehow her good mood lasted through the receiving line, which Harry and Hermione pulled her into, despite her best efforts to stand aside and let her beautiful brunette best friend enjoy her wedding day as a bride should.
"Oh, Ginny, you look so very lovely together!" Molly Weasley said, hugging her. "Oh, you're simply glowing, my dear. It's so wonderful." Ginny had thought her parents would be horrified, ready to run off and Floo their solicitor about an annulment, or at least to offer their sympathy at the unfairness of Ginny suddenly having to share her husband, but both they and Hermione's parents seemed utterly delighted. If I didn't know better, I'd think they'd all four expected from the beginning that Harry and I would marry Hermione. Mum and Dad don't even seem worried about Ron and where he might have gone. It must be shock.
Fleur hugged her extravagantly, and kissed her on both cheeks. "Ah, chère Ginny, ma jolie petite soeur, you all look so beautiful together! I am sorry the day was so startling, but I am certain that you three will be very, very happy. This must have been fated. Really, I find myself wondering why you have not been a—threesome, is that the word?—ever since you were still in school."
"Err... thank you, Fleur." She didn't know what else to say, but fortunately Fleur kissed her again, squeezed her, and moved on to kiss Harry. Before Ginny had more than a few seconds to think, Luna was there, also beaming. But instead of kissing Ginny on the cheek, she kissed her on the nose.
"Oh, dear Ginevra, my dear, dear friend, I am so very exceedingly happy for you and for your lovely spouses! Or should I say spice? Yes, I think that's a good plural, much better than the one in the dictionary. Congratulations, in any case."
"Oh. Thank you, Luna."
"You're so very welcome, Ginevra. Thank you for taking care of Hermione. She's almost like the big sister I never had, you know. I'd say you were like the twin I never had as well, except obviously incest is very unhealthy and I'd be rather severely upset if I had both a twin sister and a big sister and they'd just gone and got married to each other, and I'm not at all concerned that you and Hermione have just married each other. More than that, I'm simply overjoyed. I was so very worried for her, afraid that she was making a choice she shouldn't be making and that she'd find herself stuck for years in a situation that she should never have been in for even an instant. But then I saw it all with my Good Eye, and I understood that you would be there to help her, and I knew that everything would be fine. And it will be, for all of you."
"Thank you, Luna." Ginny kissed her oldest friend's cheek, and Luna kissed hers.
And then Hermione's grandmother caught her in a bear hug. “My dear girl, thank you so much for welcoming my granddaughter into your marriage.”
“You... you don't mind?”
“Of course I don't! I suppose perhaps I shouldn't tell the ladies from my bridge club that our Hermione's married to a lovely red-headed girl as well as her handsome black-haired husband—after all, I don't want to give any of them heart attacks, not even that silly cow Mildred Whalley who lives across the street and won't clean up after her wretched poodle—but really, I'm delighted to see how dear the three of you are to each other already. And I was worried sick about her marrying that stupid boy... Oh, sorry, love, he's your brother, isn't he?”
“It's all right. He... well, he led Hermione on and then he left her at the altar, didn't he? I'm fairly well hacked off at him myself, Mrs. Newton.”
“Now now, my dear, you and your fine young man are married to our Hermione. I'd be very pleased if you'd call me Nan. But if that feels uncomfortable for you right now, you're welcome to call me Isobel.”
Suddenly, there was a lump in Ginny's throat. “Th... thank you, Isobel.”
The reception was much the same. Even Muriel, her least favourite and last surviving great aunt, was fairly civil to the three of them, rather more so than she'd been at Ginny and Harry's own wedding.
No one mentioned Ron.
Ginny accepted more champagne when it was offered, but tried to sip slowly so her glass didn't get topped off too often. Despite her best efforts, she was just a little bit tipsy when, a few minutes before midnight, Harry and Hermione led her away from the table and towards the close, where a clear space had been marked off for Portkeys and Apparitions. "You two go off and enjoy your honeymoon," she said. "I'd be grateful if you'd drop me an owl once in a while, please? Just so I'll know you're all right and having fun."
"Don't be silly, dearest Ginny," Hermione said. "You're coming with us."
"But... it's only fair. I want Hermione to have a proper honeymoon, just as I had mine with you. Show her a good time, Harry, please?"
"It seems I've got two wives," Harry said softly. "I never expected to, but now I do, and I'm not about to neglect either of them."
Hermione giggled. "Exactly. You both married me, and I expect to enjoy my honeymoon with both my wonderful spouses... Or should I say 'spice'? Luna told me she thought that was a better plural, and I must admit I'm inclined to agree with her. My Aunt Louise—she's an editor at the Guardian—and Uncle Cyril who's with Oxford University Press might disagree, but that's their problem."
"But... it's bad enough that you ended up not marrying the man you thought you were going to marry. Surely—"
Hermione laid a fingertip on Ginny's lips. "Thank you, darling, but I am, in fact, intensely happy with my marriage. And I want my dearest female friend to be happy as well. I want both my dearest friends to be happy. And I would want that even if I'd not just married both of them."
"Thank you, Hermione. But... I don't want this to be awkward for you. I mean, you deserve to, to enjoy married life as much as you possibly can. I don't want to be in the way. For Merlin's sake, even all those times when you slept in my room, we always changed back to back. You shouldn't be forced to have a, a spectator when you and Harry consummate your marriage."
Hermione went slightly pink, but her voice was steady. "As far as the physical nature of our relationship—meaning yours and mine—well, we'll have to see what happens. I imagine it might take us a little time to work it out, but I'm very much looking forward to exploring the subject. In any case, I know I won't feel any need to be shy before you, not any more, and I'm absolutely certain that I could never be happy if Harry's and my lovely Ginny were left sitting at home alone when we were off in the Caribbean pretending to enjoy ourselves."
"And pretending is all it would be without you, Ginny. Please, my lovely first wife, let's go? Kreacher and Winky will handle our baggage, so it's not as if any of us need to pack."
Hermione smiled. "I'll get them chocolate as a thank you present, of course." She looked Ginny in the eye. "Please... love. Come with us."
Ginny couldn't say no. "All right... love. My loves."
Harry and Hermione wrapped her in an embrace, and the Portkey activated. God and Merlin give me strength. I have to find the courage to tell them before this goes much further.
The warm air of a tropical early evening hit her like an oven, despite the gentle breeze that she knew would make it rather comfortable once she was acclimated. Not that she expected to stay here long enough to get acclimated, this time. They were on an open terrace, with a view of the ocean, screened off from the land by palm trees and rocky cliffs. Harry and Hermione didn't let go, and in spite of herself Ginny delighted in their embrace. I wasn't lying when I told Ron I'd fantasised about belonging to both of them, or at least about both me and Hermione being Harry's. I was never brave enough to even hope that I could make it more than a fantasy, but I know I wouldn't have been upset if somehow we had fallen into a three-way relationship when we were at school. If it hadn't been for the way this happened... well, it feels so right. It's nice to be able to pretend, for a few moments.
Before she could think any further, Kreacher and Winky appeared and, having been in touch with the resort's House Elves, whisked the three of them into a comfortable suite. The bed was massive, rather more than king-sized. Is this the same suite Ron and Hermione were meant to share? Or did they give us a bigger bed because there are three of us now? Well, there's a couch in the sitting room. I'll sleep there tonight. Assuming Harry and Hermione can even stand the sight of me once I've told them what happened to my brother. What I did to my brother, I should say.
Some minutes later, Ginny stared out the window, stared out to sea. The sun was well set, and the stars were out, which seemed wrong for seven thirty on a May evening. That's a silly thought, isn't it? It's not the first time I've been in this part of the world, and I know perfectly well that their sunset in Spring and Summer is sooner than ours at home, just as it's later in the Winter. We're closer to the Equator, that's all. For Heaven's sake, it's not an omen. She was dressed in a light cotton nightgown. Harry's eyebrow had quirked slightly when she came out of the bathroom wearing the plain garment, rather than some lacy bit of silken nothing like Hermione's peignoir, but he'd not said anything. Of course he didn't. He's Harry, and he respects my choices... Oh, my love, but when you find out what I've done with your best friend, Hermione's intended, my own brother, my best hope is that you'll forgive my choice. I can't expect that now, but someday, if I'm luckier than I deserve to be...
Two arms wrapped around her from behind, and she swallowed a little yelp. "Thinking, love?" Hermione whispered, her breath tickling Ginny's ear.
"Well, thinking is nice, of course, but I was just thinking, myself, that whilst our Harry's in the shower you and I could brush each others' hair, and that would be awfully nice as well, wouldn't it?"
"Oh. I suppose... yes, it would be." They'd done that, sometimes, back when they were only kids, on nights when Hermione stayed in Ginny's room at the Burrow or when Ginny crossed the staircase to Hermione's dorm for a chat before bedtime. It would be nice to savour one last moment of sisterly togetherness. I'm not putting off telling her about Ron, not really. I need to tell both of them at once, because they both loved him in their different ways, just as I did, and it would be cruel for Hermione to have to tell Harry why I've gone back to Britain after she's told me off properly for sending my own brother off to a fate unknown. I've done her enough cruelty already.
Hermione planted a little kiss behind Ginny's ear. "So, I've my brush right here. And since you're first wife, I'd like to start with you."
"You don't have to..."
"It's my wedding night, love, and I want to." Giggling, Hermione opened Ginny's barrette and let her hair spill down over her shoulders, combing her fingers through the red tresses. "Would you like to sit on the bed, sweet wife?"
Hermione brushing her hair, and then plaiting it, felt almost obscenely pleasurable. And when it was Ginny's turn, she felt almost as if she was making love to the older woman. Hermione didn't quite moan, but she made contented little noises that seemed very close to moaning.
"Oh, that was so nice, Ginny." Hermione turned about, so quickly that they were sitting nose to nose on the bed. Ginny glanced down, realised just how sheer Hermione's little bit of silk actually was, and had a hard time making herself look back up at her friend and now—at least for the moment—wife's face. I can see how pink her nipples are, and how hard. And that she's not wearing any knickers... Oh, her bush looks so pretty! How could my stupid, stupid brother have even thought for an instant of trying to talk her into shaving down there? Ginny felt uncomfortably aroused.
"Err... thank you. It was lovely, wasn't it?"
Hermione grinned, and kissed her lightly on the lips. "It was. And I think our dear husband's being silly and gallant and trying to give us space to talk things out. Which is darling, and very much in character for him, but right now I think what we really need is not space for girl talk, but our own handsome boy beside us." She took Ginny's hand and led her over to the bathroom door. "Harry, my love? You can come out now. Please?"
“As you wish.”
Ginny's breath caught in her throat. He was... he was Harry. They'd been married for nearly three years, and of course they'd explored each other thoroughly before their first wedding night. She'd seen him in much less than a pair of dark silk pyjama bottoms. But still... even if this is the last time I see him in anything less than full robes, at least I've seen him one more time.
He embraced his wives. "I didn't want to rush you, either of you."
"It's fine," Hermione said. "Come, let's turn down the lights and sit on the bed, my loves."
It was the hardest thing Ginny had ever done: harder than going back to Hogwarts at twelve years of age after spending virtually her entire First Year possessed by the spirit of Voldemort; harder than apologising to her saviour's beautiful best friend for the weeks she'd spent petrified; harder than waiting to find out if Harry would be coming back from his final meeting with the Dark Lord. "Um... Harry, Hermione? I... I've a confession to make. You see... my Great Aunt Eugenia left me the old Prewett wedding cup, and she said I should follow her family's custom and bring my brother a cup of wine on the night before he married..."
"It's all right, Ginny," Hermione said. "One cup of wine wouldn't have made Ron drunk enough to do anything he hadn't already been planning to do. You didn't cast the Imperius on him and tell him to run away, love. I know that."
"No, I didn't. But..." Slowly, haltingly, she told them the whole story, staring at the duvet for the entire time. She couldn't bear to meet their eyes. I don't know if I'm more afraid of their anger or their pity. "So... I'll understand if neither of you wants to ever see me again. I don't know if we can get an annulment or if it will have to be a divorce, but I promise I won't contest it. I'll always love you both, and I want the two of you to be as happy together as you possibly can be."
Harry took a firm grip of both her hands before she could leap up from the bed and run away. And Hermione's fingers seized her chin. The brunette gently and firmly brought Ginny's head up, until she had no choice but to look them both in the eye. Hazel and green, so lovely...
"Thank you," the older woman said. "Thank you, my sweet, wonderful, loving, brave wife. Thank you for protecting me when I was too blind to protect myself. Ronald was the one who condemned himself, not you."
"But... you love him."
"And so do you, and so does Harry. But... I think in the end Ron and I were both fooling ourselves. In so many ways he was always like a brother to me, far more than Harry ever was. And if it's anyone's fault, maybe it was mine for trying to make a husband of him."
"No." Harry and Ginny spoke as one.
Hermione laughed. "So, if it's not my fault, it's certainly not yours, dearest Ginny. I don't think you've done anything that you need to be forgiven for, but I forgive you all the same."
"I hope our brother will somehow find a way back to his better nature, wherever he's gone," Harry said. "I'm sorry it had to happen this way. But I'm very glad you've saved our Hermione from a heartbreaking disaster, and I'm ecstatic to be married to the two most wonderful women in the world. Thank you, Ginny."
"You've made your confession, my sweet little ginger love," Hermione said. "If it's not too sacrilegious of me to say it, I, no, we absolve you of any sin you think you might have committed. And for your penance, my Ginny, you must spend the rest of your life with Harry and me, as our wife and as our beloved and as a dearest darling friend to both of us."
"And what's more, my Ginny, you must let us do everything in our power to make you very, very happy," Harry said.
"Yes." Hermione's fingers lingered on the buttons of Ginny's nightgown. "For a start, I'd like to get you out of this. My wife looks very pretty in cotton, but I must confess I'd like to see her in something more fitting to the occasion."
"I've only got plain cotton knickers underneath, my loves."
“Well, you'll look pretty in those as well,” Harry said, “but I don't think we'll leave you wearing them for long, will we?”
Hermione chuckled. "Yes, nothing at all sounds the perfect costume for our beautiful ginger wife, doesn't it, my Harry?"
"It does, my Hermione." Together, they stripped Ginny bare. She felt even more exposed than she'd felt the very first time she convinced Harry to pull her knickers off and touch her intimately, on the night after the Dark Lord's final defeat, the two of them alone together for the first time in what had felt like an entire lifetime, cuddled close in a Hogwarts bed with the curtains sealed shut.
"Do I... do I please you?" She realised she was squeezing her thighs together, and she forced herself to relax.
"Oh, my darling," Hermione said, "how could you not? Oh, Harry, she's so perfect! Thank you for sharing her with me, my love. And thank you for sharing yourself with us, Ginny. Oh, goodness, you're all over freckles. So beautiful!"
"Really? You... you like them?" She'd always been a little embarrassed at just how many she had. I'm practically spotted. If I were a horse, they'd probably say I was dappled. It's rather ridiculous, isn't it?
"Yes, love. They're gorgeous," Hermione said.
Harry chuckled. "Haven't I been telling you that for all this time? And you've just heard the smartest witch of her generation agreeing with me. Maybe now you'll accept that it's true?"
Her heart swelled with love for both of them. "Oh, my darlings, thank you—oh!" Hermione had reached out and cupped Ginny's breast in her hand.
"This feels awfully nice, love. You know, my loves, since we're married and I shouldn't keep secrets from my darling sweet spice, I'll tell you that I never fooled about with any girls when we were at Hogwarts. Not even when Parvati and Lavender were practically joined at the hip, sleeping in the same bed every single night and sharing their baths more often than not, and Faye Dunbar and Sally-Anne Perks were... less demonstrative, but given to playing with each other, and sometimes making hints that they'd like me to join them, either one at a time or all at once.
“But there was one girl whom I would have loved to play with, in just the way my room-mates did with each other... a cute little redhead whose big brother was one of my two best friends, and who was clearly in love with my other best friend. Which was why I never dared to say anything to her."
Ginny was terribly distracted by the feeling of that gentle hand caressing her breast, but the distraction didn't stop the wave of amazement that ran through her. "Hermione? You... you wanted me?"
"Yes, love. Even when you were just a Second Year and I was a silly Third Year and too shy to admit it even to myself. Just as I was too shy to admit even to myself that I wanted our Harry."
"Oh, love, I wanted you as well! But I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing. Well, nothing other than playing with myself, and feeling guilty once I came down from the afterglow and thought about what I'd been imagining. I was so concerned that all these feelings I had were some weird side effect of the bloody diary... which was silly of me, because Mum had given me the whole talk a week before we went to Diagon Alley and I saw Harry's wonderful Hermione for the first time. She'd told me it was normal as a young witch for me to start feeling attracted to boys and girls, and it was normal for me to get those tingling feelings down there, and I shouldn't let anybody make me do anything I didn't want to do but it was fine for me to have fantasies and to touch myself when I was alone in my room at home or taking my bath or behind my bedcurtains at Hogwarts, because the other girls would be doing the same thing... And that maybe even, if another girl and I found we liked each other, once we were away at Hogwarts, we could play with each other. But somehow I managed to put that all aside, and I got terribly caught up in the idea that I was feeling bad things because Tom had led me astray. That was awfully silly of me, wasn't it?"
Harry wrapped his arm about her shoulders. "No, love. It was natural. I'm sad that nobody back then ever thought to get you proper counselling, but none of it's your fault."
"You're not silly at all, sweet Ginny. You're ours, and therefore you're perfect. And it looks as if it's maybe just as well we didn't fool around when we were younger, because here we are now, all three of us, grown up and married." Hermione rolled Ginny's breast in her palm.
Hermione purred. "Mm, you like that, don't you?"
"Yes... Merlin, yes. Oh!" Harry was cupping her other breast. And now he gave her nipple a gentle little tweak with his thumb and forefinger. "Yes!"
Hermione grinned. "I'm delighted that we married such a wonderful girl, Harry. She's terribly pretty. And she makes such nice noises."
"That she is, and that she does. You're terribly pretty yourself, you know. And I'm sure you'll make nice noises as well." He reached for the hem of her peignoir. "May I?"
"Of course you may. I'm yours." Hermione's lips quirked. "And I'm yours as well, Ginny."
"Mm, yes, you are." Together, Harry and Ginny pulled the little scrap of silk over Hermione's head and cast it aside. "Oh, love, your nipples are even rosier than I thought! And your skin's so creamy."
"Thank you, love," Hermione murmured. Ginny reached out and caressed the older girl's breast, just as Hermione had caressed hers. "Oh, that's wonderful! Don't stop, my love."
"Of course, Harry! I'm yours. Touch me everywhere, please!"
"As you wish, my Hermione." He cupped Hermione's breast, mirroring Ginny. And now Ginny let her fingers drift lower, down to Hermione's belly. The older girl parted her legs slightly, and Ginny could see a hint of pink beneath her neatly groomed pubic triangle.
"Mm, that's nice, love." Hermione's eyes were half closed.
Somehow, without any conscious thought on anyone's part, but moving in concert like a flock of birds, they shifted about, and Hermione was cradled in Harry's arms, lying back, her thighs spread. Ginny leant forward, and kissed her on the lips. Their tongues twined together. And now, slowly, she nuzzled her way down to Hermione's breasts. I've never done this with a girl before, but it feels so right. Then again, I've never been this far with anyone besides Harry before. Oh, my loves, how I adore you both! And how right it feels to finally be making love to you as well, Hermione.
"That feels so nice, love," Hermione murmured, toying with Ginny's plait.
"Well, my love, this is just the start," Ginny said, kissing Hermione between her breasts. "And now let's see how this goes, right?" I don't know what she'll like, exactly, not yet, but I imagine I'll just start by trying to do some of the things I like best when Harry does them to me, and we'll see how it goes from there.
Hermione moaned happily as Ginny caressed her breast with lips and tongue, circling all around the soft white globe, working her way in towards that tempting pink nipple. "Oh, Ginny, that's so good!"
"You're so good, Hermione. Your sweat tastes wonderful. Here, Harry, won't you join me in tasting our wife, please?"
"Mm, I'm looking forward to it, but she does feel awfully comfortable right now, and I do like holding her whilst our Ginny kisses her." He stroked Hermione's belly, his hand trailing down into the fringes of her pubic hair, and their brunette wife gasped.
Ginny nipped at his fingers. “As you wish, my love, but she tastes so nice and she feels so good!”
“Oh, my loves!” Hermione murmured. “I'm yours. And whatever you do, I'm going to love it, my darlings.” She spread her thighs, and Ginny couldn't resist any longer. She kissed her way down Hermione's belly, and for the first time ever she buried her nose in amongst another woman's public hair.
Oh, Merlin, her scent is divine. Why didn't we do this years ago? Hermione gasped and wriggled. Ginny planted a kiss on her wife's mound, and began to trace the brunette's lips with the tip of her tongue. Hermione moaned.
Ginny looked up. With one hand, Harry was caressing their wife's breasts. With the other, he was teasing her clitoris. Ginny smiled and began to time her licks and the little thrusts of her tongue to work in concert with Harry's digital manipulations. Together, the two Potters made love to their Hermione, until at last she threw back her head and screamed. Mm, my face is soaked. And she tastes so good!
The three of them lay still for a long moment, until at last Hermione tugged on Ginny's plait. “That was wonderful, my darling wife. Now come you up here and let's us kiss our Harry, please? And each other as well, of course.”
“My mouth's all wet with you, love. Just let me wipe it off first?”
Hermione grinned and dabbled a finger in her own juices before putting it up to Harry's lips. He suckled at it. “Here, love, try this, please. And see there, Ginny mine, now our Harry's going to taste of me as well. Come you here, and no more delaying. I want my kisses!”
She giggled. “As you wish, love.”
Their three sets of lips met, and Harry hugged both women close as they kissed. When they paused for breath, he murmured “I think we've created a monster, Ginny. A gorgeous, loveable, sexy, darling monster.”
Hermione chuckled, low in her throat. “Oh, I was always a monster, Harry. It just took my husband and my wife to bring it out of me.”
“Mm, speaking of wives, we've got a darling little ginger one here, my dear Hermione.” His fingers drifted over Ginny's sex, and she squealed. “A darling little wet ginger. How about we share a taste of her?”
Laughing, Ginny found herself spread out on the bed as her husband and wife kissed and licked and nibbled their way down her body. This is just like my silly Second Year fantasies, only it's a thousand times better, was her last coherent thought for some while.
Finally, late in the night, Hermione and Ginny dragged themselves off the mattress and went to use the loo. There was no thought of modesty left between them. How could there be, after... five orgasms? Eight? Between her and Harry, I've fairly well lost count.
The necessities taken care of, the two women kissed each other one more time and got back into bed. Ginny had thought Harry was already asleep, but his eyes opened as they snuggled against him and each other. “Well, I forgot one adjective, didn't I? A gorgeous, loveable, sexy, cuddly, darling monster.”
Ginny nuzzled him. “Mm, that's right, love.”
Hermione kissed them both. “Yes, my husband. Your monster, and our Ginny's. Now and forever.”
Nine months later:
The long hours of labour were over. Winky and the Healer had seen to the cleaning up, and now Hermione reclined peacefully in bed, the sheets puddled at her waist, their new daughter nursing at her breast. She's so beautiful, Ginny thought. I'm sure I love the child of my own womb equally, but I truly don't believe I could love her any more.
Harry wrapped his arm about her shoulder, and with his other hand he stroked Ginny's own belly, gently rounded at four months and counting, as if he knew what she was thinking.
Hermione smiled at them. “We're neither of us made of glass, my loves. You can come and sit with us, if you'd like.”
Harry and Ginny surrounded her. “We didn't want to disturb the purity of the moment, love,” Harry whispered.
“And how could her daddy and her other mummy ever disturb her?” Hermione stroked the black curls that were already thick on the baby's head, and then she touched Ginny's belly. “Or her darling sister?”
“She's amazing, love,” Ginny whispered. “Just like her mum.”
Hermione grinned. “Just like her other mum, and her dad, I would have said. You know, I couldn't have done this without you. Without both of you.”
Ginny's eyes were moist. “Oh, love. Thank you.”
“Thank you, dearest wife of mine. And I hope you don't mind, but I was thinking... would it be all right if we named her Eugenia?”
Ginny burst into true tears, and it was a few seconds before she could get the words out. “Oh, darling, that's perfect! Welcome, Eugenia, welcome, my little love.”
“It is, my loves,” Harry said. “Welcome to the family, Eugenia.”