by Brandy Purdy
It all began with the most lavish wedding of the season. Everyone who was anyone was there, friends of the bride and groom, the wizarding world elite, and even a few Muggles too. The Daily Prophet and the Quibbler had even sent reporters and photographers to cover the event.
The month was June, and the radiant bride eighteen-year-old Miss Hermione Granger, stood at the altar wearing a beautiful flowing full-skirted white gown trimmed with delicate pink that came all the way from Paris, France as her mother was fond of telling anyone who would listen. Beside her stood the groom Mr. Ronald Weasley, also aged eighteen, tugging nervously at his pink bowtie while his eyes darted about as frantically as the Golden Snitch during a Quidditch game. Indeed, bets were being placed regarding whether and, if so, when, he would faint or vomit on the bride's Paris gown.
All of a sudden, Ron Weasley burst into tears; loud, wracking, blubbering sobs that liberally watered the pink gardenia on his lapel.
"I...I'm s-sorry, Hermione," he stammered, "but I just can't go through with it!" Then he turned to his best man, who, like all the rest of the audience, was regarding him with wide-eyed incredulous wonder. "I LOVE YOU HARRY!" he cried, seizing hold of his best friend. dipping him back, and kissing him with years of pent-up passion.
This was quickly followed by two loud thuds as both the mother-of-the-bride and the mother-of-the-groom fell senseless to the floor.
Meanwhile, in Ron's arms, Harry Potter recovered from the shock that had momentarily left him speechless and paralyzed, and came vibrantly to life, returning Ron's kiss wholeheartedly.
Gasping for air, the two broke apart.
"Absolutely brilliant timing, Ron!" Harry exclaimed sarcastically as his green eyes surveyed the dumbstruck crowd. "What, you REALLY couldn't find a better time to tell me?"
In response, Ron blushed and grinned sheepishly. "Better late than never," he shrugged as he grabbed Harry's hand and broke into a run, dragging him down the aisle as the befuddled organist, uncertain what to do, reprised the Wedding March.
Through it all, Hermione just stood there, her face flushed a furious shade of red, so angry she couldn't even speak, her mouth gaping open and closed just like a fish out of water.
There was a rustling in the pews as a few people started to rise, to come forward to comfort the abandoned bride.
"Right!" Hermione shouted, holding out a hand to stay them like a hot-tempered Muggle traffic cop, "Don't ANYBODY move! I came here to get married and that's just what I mean to do! NEVILLE!"
Neville Longbottom, seated in the third row beside his ancient grandmother, nearly jumped out of his skin at Hermione's piercing shriek. Stumbling and stammering, and treading on several people's toes, he hurried to her side. And moments later they left the chapel as man and wife. The happy moment was almost spoiled when several tiny white mice were thrown upon the bride. When the bride's parents had explained the Muggle marriage custom of throwing rice Arthur Weasley had apparently misunderstood and thought they said "mice" and had equipped his family accordingly.
Much to the surprise of everyone, Mr. and Mrs. Neville Longbottom defied the odds and enjoyed the happiest of marriages. Had they been given a silver Sickle for every time someone confidently asserted "it won't last" they would have been millionaires many times over. It was like the marriage between an affectionately exasperated drill sergeant and a bumbling but lovably inept private. Neville was even nicknamed "Yes, Dear!" by their friends because that was the way he always responded, snapping to attention, at his wife's commands.
Hermione relentlessly pursued her law degree and after attaining it she resurrected S.P.E.W. (The Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare), swearing that she would dedicate her life to the liberation of house elves. Dressed in stylishly tailored suits with her wild bushy hair braided and coiled into a chignon at the nape of her neck in the style made famous by Evita Peron, she delivered rousing speeches on balconies, platforms, and street corners, and showered the populace with badges and informative literature.
In time she even forgave her two best friends. The truth was she missed them, and it was just too bloody hard to hate two people who were so very much in love. Harry and Ron were obviously meant for each other and she should have seen it from the first. Besides, it was just plain selfish to squander her thoughts and energy on anger, which was such a draining emotion, when the house elves clearly needed her! Harry in particular became her most trusted confidante, and when she launched S.P.P.T.A.M. (Stop the Prejudice of Public Transportation Against Merpeople) and demanded that all buses and trains provide suitable accommodations for mermaids and mermen, he was right there beside her, telling her how utterly absurd it was. After all, why would a mermaid even want to ride on a bus? But Hermione insisted that he was missing the point--by denying them the opportunity society was trampling on their rights and something had to be done about it.
With her rigorous campaign schedule, Hermione decided early on that motherhood was not in her future, but she and Neville adopted a grindylow whom they christened Irving, and a boisterous two-headed, two-tailed ginger-haired pup called Rupert. And everyday when he came home from work after a busy day spent wrapping joke sweets in the packaging division of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Neville would distribute the cookies their housekeeper baked to the garden gnomes and read them interesting items from the newspapers while they clambered over his lap.
On the whole, it was a happy life, but happiness is rarely lasting. After seventeen years of wedded bliss, Neville went out on his sailboat and never came back. Hermione had invited a group of centaurs over to discuss the shackles of societal prejudice that had kept them imprisoned in magical forests for centuries instead of allowing them to take their rightful places as full-fledged citizens, and Neville was severely allergic to horsehair--it made him break out in hives--so he kissed his wife goodbye and went fishing. His boat was found at noon the next day, drifting aimlessly, with Neville lying on the deck in a pool of blood, impaled upon the sword of an immense blue and silver swordfish. Hermione had that fish preserved and mounted above the fireplace where the urn containing Neville's ashes sat upon the mantel; had he lived Neville would have been so proud of that fish.
Hermione was bereft. No balm it seemed could soothe her grief. Dressed entirely in black, she made countless journeys out to sea, to fling flowers, always pink gardenias like they had had on their wedding day, on the spot where Neville had been found. She watched the pink petals bobbing on the blue-green waves and cried until she had no tears left. Thus, in the face of such profound grief, everyone was astounded when , exactly a year and a day later, Hermione Granger Longbottom became a bride again at thirty-six.
Oh yes, it was a shining moment in the history of the House Elf Liberation Movement when Hermione married Dobby! Guards had to be stationed outside the chapel to keep the bride's parents and the white-coated Muggle doctors clutching a straitjacket and net from swooping down the aisle and whisking their daughter away to some facility where they felt she could get the help she so desperately needed.
Given her previous marriage, the bride didn't feel it was appropriate that she wear white, so with Harry's help she selected an elegant satin suit the colour of pumpkin juice with a chic pillbox hat with a short net veil and high-heeled shoes to match. And Dobby was so overcome that he couldn't decide which of his pastel silk neckties and jeweled stickpins to wear so he wore them all, all two dozen. Silver thread glistened on his white silk brocade waistcoat, and diamonds twinkled like stars on his white spats and the buttons of his black velvet coat, the tails of which dragged along the floor, sweeping up rose petals, dust, and other debris. But he was proudest of the tall, gleaming black silk top hat that Harry and Ron had given him, and raved about it all through the ceremony. Privately Harry and Ron were convinced that Hermione had gone bonkers, but they loyally stood by and offered what support they could.
But, alas, the marriage was doomed from the start, if it could rightly be called a marriage since despite Hermione's vigorous campaigning the wizarding world did not recognize inter-species marriages any more than the Muggle world did a marriage between a man and a golden retriever. For how could their union be expected to prosper when the groom's whole existence revolved around making sure Harry Potter and "his Wheezy" were served breakfast in bed each morning? Dobby was utterly devoted to Harry, and after three months Hermione had no choice but to issue an ultimatum--"Harry's morning cup of tea or me!" Dobby was thrown into such deep despair that he landed in St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Hermione kept vigil at his bedside, stroking his hands and pointy ears. The poor little fellow was just pining away and she couldn't bear it, so finally she sent for Harry.
"I'm sorry," Harry said sincerely as he took her place at Dobby's bedside and prepared to speak the magic words: "Oh Dobby, I don't know what I am going to do!" he sighed. "Ron bit the buttons off my charcoal grey trousers and like an idiot I tried to sew them back on and ended up stabbing myself with the needle and now not only do they have no buttons but they are spotted with blood as well!"
And in that instant a miracle occurred, Dobby rose from his bed in the full bloom of health, vowing that Harry Potter's trousers would be restored to pristine condition within the hour. Watching by the door, Hermione smiled weakly, and while Dobby went home with Harry and Ron she went to speak with her attorney. By nightfall this marriage of questionable legality had been dissolved.
After that came the actor. Author J.K. Rowling had turned Harry's life story into a series of seven highly successful novels and, as is often the case in the Muggle world, film versions inevitably followed. Hermione paid little attention to the Harry Potter mania that was taking the world by storm. In fact, she didn't even see the first three films. 'Honestly, Ron," she exclaimed, "how can I go to the cinema when merpeople are being denied proper facilities on trains?" Then during a visit to her parents' dental practice when Hermione, ever the perfectionist, was straightening a stack of magazines in the waiting room her heart received such a jolt she felt as if she had been struck by lightning. That was the moment when she saw "Ravishing Rady" on the cover of Entertainment Weekly magazine. Sweet sixteen, with a mop of unruly dark hair, a zig-zag lightning bolt scar painted on his forehead, and the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen staring out at her from behind the lenses of a pair of round-rimmed glasses. Except for the difference in eye colour, the resemblance to Harry as a teenager was uncanny. Hugging the magazine to her heart, Hermione swooned into the nearest chair. The next thing she knew her father was slapping her hands and her mother was holding a vial of smelling salts under her nose.
Still clutching her treasured copy of Entertainment Weekly, Hermione went straight to Harry and demanded that he arrange a meeting. Naturally, he resisted. Even though Hermione, despite her many misfortunes, was still quite beautiful, there was no escaping the fact that she was forty and young Mr. R. was in the legal sense still a child, though most articulate and mature for his age and impressively polite. But in the end she wore him down, and, against his better judgement, Harry picked up the phone.
A series of highly publicized court appearances followed where guards armed with tape measures rigorously enforced the ever increasing distance Hermione was required to keep from her "Darling Daniel," and all 3,000 of her love letters were submitted into evidence with several choice passages being read out in court. And afterwards a Muggle postman would deliver a large bill from the young man's personal therapist to Hermione's house every month for many years to come. In the end, Hermione decided that the noble thing to do was file for divorce, which turned out to be rather difficult since they had never been married in the first place. But Fred and George Weasley could always be counted on to help out in a crisis and Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes soon supplied her with an official looking certificate of divorce that spat gold stars into the air and played the theme music from the Harry Potter films every fifteen minutes without fail. Hermione hung it on the wall just below Neville's swordfish and beside her wedding portrait with Dobby and decided to move on.
Her next stop was Vegas. Hermione decided that a holiday was just the tonic to cure all her ails. And so to the gambling mecca of the United States of America she went. She was enthralled by the vast array of festive drinks with provocative names and decided to try them all. Then at three o'clock in the morning across the roulette wheel she came face to face with an old enemy--Draco Malfoy. The haughty patrician blonde had also apparently fallen under the spell of Las Vegas bartenders, and gazing deep into each others' eyes they realized that two people couldn't possibly hate each other as much as they did without secretly being in love. Ten minutes later they were joined in holy matrimony in The Little Chapel of Neon Love by a minister who did double duty as an Elvis impersonator.
Thirteen hours later when they woke up together, stark naked in a heart-shaped pink satin bed under a mirrored ceiling surrounded by garish pink flamingos painted on all four walls, they realized that they had made a huge mistake. Two people really could hate each other as much as they did without being secretly in love. So, to the immense disappointment of bartenders and blackjack dealers, Draco and Hermione pooled their remaining funds and purchased a quick annulment. After they had each signed the papers with Draco's fourteen carat gold fountain pen they exchanged vows--both of them swore NEVER to speak of this ever again to anyone, in sickness and in health, as long as they both lived.
At the age of forty-two Hermione Granger Longbottom Dobby Radcliffe Malfoy plunged once again into the matrimonial pool. This time she found the love of her life in Fred Weasley.
Hermione took over management of the legal department of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, though her devotion to the house elves and merfolk never for a second faltered. In fact, her husband's factory became the first major corporation to employ house elves on equal terms with humans, and a special tank with glass walls was even constructed so that a team of merfolk could test the performance and durability of their merchandise underwater.
Fred was the most indulgent of husbands, he humored his wife's political activism, allowed her to hang the swordfish that had killed Neville in the place of honor above the mantel in their sitting room, and didn't even object when she had their bedroom wallpapered with photographs of Daniel Radcliffe. Their marriage lasted twenty years until the sad day when Fred perished of a candy related fatality. A Too Salty Saltwater Taffy totally dehydrated his body and left him as dry and shriveled as an Egyptian mummy in less than five seconds. There was nothing anyone could do.
Hermione's grief for her husband knew no bounds. And George's grief for his twin was equally intense. They continued to take their meals together in the mansion they shared, always setting a place to honor Fred, and every evening they sought solace in each other's company, talking when they needed to talk, reminiscing about Fred and all the good times they had shared, or just sitting together in silence. No one was surprised when a year later they married. Nor was anyone surprised thirteen years later when George was also killed by a piece of candy. The Too Salty Saltwater Taffy that had ended his brother's life had haunted him throughout the years. Grief had put the project on hold, but as time passed George felt that finishing his brother's work was the only way to truly honor him. When George didn't come home for dinner that night, Hermione went to his office. All that was left of George was a pile of dust and a candy wrapper.
Two years later she walked down the aisle again, a lovely silver-haired bride gowned in silver lace, determined to find lasting happiness. After all, she and her husband-to-be were both seventy-eight, so statistically speaking lasting happiness for them probably wouldn't have to last all that long. She smiled tenderly at the sight of him nervously pulling on his gray silk bowtie, his red hair now faded to a pale peach streaked with white.
All their friends and family who remained, feeble, gray, and white-haired in their old age, smiled as Hermione took her place at Ron's side and a hush fell as the minister began to speak.
"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join this man and woman..."
He was interrupted by a loud, pain-wracked, heart-rending sob.
"I...I'm s-sorry, Hermione!" Ron sobbed. "But I just can't go through with it! I've tried, but I just can't live without Harry!" And then, before anyone could stop him, he pulled out his wand and put the tip against his temple. There was a loud crack and Ron fell to the floor. "Harry!" he sighed, a beatific smile on his lips and lighting up his eyes before he closed them forever.
Hermione's shoulders sagged in defeat and tears rolled down her cheeks. But a moment later her chin shot up at the sound of panicked voices and running feet as every eligible bachelor bolted from the chapel. Heaving a deep, doleful sigh, Hermione Granger Longbottom Dobby Radcliffe Malfoy Weasley Weasley slowly walked back up the aisle. Alone.