The young man known to many as the Boy-who-lived leaned back contently in the private booth that he and his two best friends had claimed amongst a sea of his former Hogwarts students and the other residents of the magical village of Hogsmeade. In this moment he allowed himself to smile with a sly air of satisfaction, similar to that of a cat that had just finished devouring an annoying and loud canary and had left no evidence of its crime to the shared owners.
The fireplace at the far end of the room roared triumphantly over the murmuring din of gossip that had been spurred by his sudden return and presence in Hogsmeade. Yet despite the ruckus and various whispers that the 'Boy-who-lived' arrival had prompted among the wizarding and witch community neither one of the three-person-party could challenge the idea to stopping in at their old haunt, the 'Three Broom Sticks' for a bit of a celebration drink.
Their joyous emotions made this locale the most fitting of places to offer the trio a drink of Butter Beers, and maybe a couple of 'under the counter' Fire-Whiskey's if Madam Rosmertta was so in the mood. Yet even though the 'Boy-who-lived' was quietly content and displaying to all a smile that was broad enough to play a game of Quidditch over, it was not the success earlier in the week of claiming their first Horcrux that the famous Harry Potter drew his merriment from.
No, the happiness that swelled deep in his heart stemmed from another cause. And he had to fight hard to suppress a rising laugh as he bore witness, for the hundredth time, since the 'Horcrux-Hunt' began a direct contest of stubborn wills between two of his dearest friends. It was a battle of verbal dominance, a War that would result in no victor and which only revealed what was already plain to everyone who knew the pair.
It was also the source, at present, of a bulk of the various murmurings taking place in the pleasant drinking establishment and amused expressions of some of the Hogwort students presently on leave from the Magical Academy.
From the verbal fire waged between the two everyone could easily guess, except for the participants of course, the true nature of their 'war'. The jibes and words flowed with ease across the tongues and out the mouth of the brown haired female and the red-headed male, each careful in not saying anything particularly insulting to the other which could ruin their friendship. But certainly cutting enough to cause irritation. But still, even through the undercurrent of accusations made, it was clear that there was a solid and deep affection held for the other and that the words were just a concealment of repression towards long-standing feelings.
It was during a momentary lull as both parties tried to think up a fresh supply of verbal ammunition to use that Harry chose to take a moment and give a silent thanks to the very special people who embraced his life. The Weasley's, the Granger's, the staff and selected students of Hogwarts, Hagrid, and of coarse the departed Dumbledore and Sirius. These people were all very important to him. But none did he give thanks, or hold above any other more then the two who were sitting directly opposite from him now. These two were the true treasures of his life and Harry couldn't help but think fondly of the Wedding and its Reception a fortnight earlier. Or of the seeds of self-discovery which were planted that day from a grateful older brother that had led to this unblissful moment of joy.
It was his and Hermione's first ever 'Wizard Wedding'. And as such, he and the muggle-witch, both took great care to memorize the customs and proceedings of the event in question. As they both expected one-day, that if they ever married another magic-wielder it would be understood that they might have to participate in the various traditions involved.
Hermione, that week, had taken a very keen interest in the on-goings, more so then he did, and she followed Mrs. Wealsey around 'The Burrow' asking all manner of questions related too the ceremony. Doing her best to vie whether these customs were exclusive to Full-Blooded Families only or if they could include Half-Blood or Muggle Union's as well.
With a bright and fond recollection, the famous Boy-who-lived, recounted in his mind the evening of Bill's announcement to his gathered family on the eve of the ceremony. What was tabled was the subject of anxiety within the Burrow as it was to reveal a Role of great importance for the Wizarding Wedding. The recently werewolf-scarred Weasley-son had to select a 'Intentus Specialsissimus' and he had nominated Ron to assume this very significant place-of-honor during and after the ceremony.
Ron was to be Bill's 'Intended Individual'. This choice caught all present by complete surprise. But none were more surprised at this tribute then Ron. Charlie, of course, was taken slightly aback by this selection. As it seemed the elder brother had hoped for this great honor for himself. But by the end of the shocked discussion that followed he was not so much offended in permitting his youngest brother this privilege as it meant in doing so afforded him more time to socialize with Fleur's single female veela relatives and friends.
Hermione had whispered to him that the role of 'Intentus Specialsissimus' typically fell to the closest sibling or friend of the key member participating in the ceremony. And in this Duty it was known that this appointed person would take full responsibility in justifying the various virtues of that particular family member to the bride's/groom's family. In short, it fell to Ron to convince and be accountable for the impending Union, and to insure that no deception was employed he would have to consume a watered down portion of Veritaserum.
The weakened Truth Potion would obligate the drinker to speak only the sincerity of his or her heart and mind towards all subjects they was asked upon. It also meant that if any unfortunate incident befell both Bill and Fleur after they had produced a child together then it would fall to Ron, and whoever Fleur's 'Intentus Specialsissimus' was, to raise that child in the fashion that both the parents would have wished them too. It was as the Bookworm shared these words with him that he realized that Sirius was possibly his own mother and father's 'Intended Individual' at their wedding twenty years earlier. And with this realization he now knew the deeper responsibility and the trust being offered to Ron at this time, for he could recall the Bond his late Godfather had for him and the various lengths Sirius subjected himself to in order to try and keep him safe.
During the proceedings, Ron would be taking full responsibility for the character of the 'Intended' as well as for the marriage itself; if any failures were to arise in the future it would fall squarely upon Ronald Bilius Weasley's shoulders to accept the blame. So for him to accept the privileged post of being a 'Intentus Specialsissimus' was a respected and fearful position to assume and he knew why his best friend was awed at the suggestion.
Bill's offered explanation to his family for selecting Ron was due to the various compulsions of the truth potion. Bill, had thought Charlie as being far too 'rough' for the sensibilities of the Delacour's. Percy would have been considered perfect for this role as it so happened the third eldest son loved assuming formal positions of privilege and respect. But presently amongst the brother's and sister of the Weasley's, the name – 'Percy' was pretty much considered a four-letter-word. And given that Percy knew of his disfavor amongst his siblings it was uncertain whether or not any words that exited his mouth under the thrall of the Potion would be pleasant ones. The Twins' were also, due to their unique sense of humor, thought to being a poor choice for such an esteemed position, and there was also a care as to who amongst the two would assume the role. Fred? Or, George?
That just left one lonely male member to shoulder the unenviable burden of convincing Fleur's mother and father that his elder brother, Bill, would be a fine inclusion to their family. And even though Mr. and Mrs. Weasley considered themselves 'modern' by all Wizarding standard's and had already come to accept Fleur as a member of the Weasley Clan, the Delacour's were not as flexible to the changing times as they were. And as the Weasley's did not wish to offend the sensibilities of their future In-Law's they conceded to the humble request of conducting the ancient and traditional wedding.
The French Wizarding contingent was from an old and aristocratic pure-blood family and as such any union between family members's had to follow the entire timeless acceptance of 'the joining'. Ron was expected during the ceremony to stand in front of the marriage alter and drink a portion of truth potion. With this concocted-compulsion to speak only words of honesty to all who asked him questions, he was too convince the bride's family of the positive contributions Bill would make to their Kin.
The effects of the Veritaserum would linger for sometime after the ceremony, and as such, during the proceedings that would follow the exchange of vows Ron would have to stay present and besides the Delacour's answering any query posed by them. At any time, from the beginning of the ceremony to its conclusion when the Bride's immediate family left the venue, the marriage could be annulled if that family felt that there existed no compatibility between the joining brethren or if an element of doubt for their child's well-being was in question. It was Ron's task to keep the mother and father confident that the respected Groom was indeed the finest choice for their daughter.
Fleur's chosen maiden was of course her closest sibling, and as Fleur's only had one it was an easy choice for her too make in comparison to Bill and his five brothers' and single sister. Harry remembered with fondness Fleur's younger sister, Gabrielle, from years earlier when he and Ron had rescued her from the Mere-people in the second challenge of the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
At the time she was a 12-year old girl with a twelve year old girl's physical frame. Very little however, could prepare him or Ron for the wonders of puberty though. Three years had past since they had both last laid eyes on her, and those three years made all the difference in the world. When Gabrielle arrived the next day for the ceremony, gone was the lithe body that he and his best mate had cradled in the cold lake of Hogwarts. Fleur was only half-Veela, but Gabrielle was FULL-Veela, and Harry had to confess that it easily showed. Fleur was stunning and radiant, but Gabrielle placed Bill's beautiful bride to shame.
It was an amusing sight to watch as Ron offered his brother to the Delacour Family and do his best not to become distracted with the Veela-Maiden's standing opposite to him. It drew snickers from the Twin's, giggles from Ginny, and an odd laugh from himself, but Hermione remain solaced and unimpressed by what she was viewing. Yet despite the reactions, Ron, made it through the proceedings, and Fleur's family were accepting of the qualities Bill possessed and offered their acceptance to him joining their family, just as Mr. and Mrs. Weasley did the same for Fleur at Gabrielle's encouragement (though this was always a safe bet).
The rest of that day progressed smoothly, the only cloud over head was that Ron had to sit at the Head Table with Bill, Fleur, Fleur's mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley and of coarse with his composite – Gabrielle, sitting right beside him.
It was also a tradition that as one of the two 'Intentus Specialsissimus' Ron could not socialize during the festivities with anyone other then his direct family, or Fleur's direct family. This was a disappointing institution that helped bound the 'Wizarding Clans' to one another and cemented the understanding that they were now not two-families anymore, but one whole.
This made for a very tedious evening at the Potter/Granger Table as it meant the muggle raised pair missed the unique insight Ron always offered them towards the Magical World in which they chose to now live. What was wondrous to them was common place to Ron and he always offered explanations and histories with a humorous flare. As it stood, both he and Hermione spent much of the party silently witnessing the other's having fun. That was another annoyance that Harry had come to resent within himself – he was not a fun guy. Ron was always the life-and-passion of their little group. Take Ron out of their equation, and well, he had to confess that Hermione and himself could hardly be called the 'life of any party'.
This silent realization plagued him as watched Ron tell stories and engage in jokes with the Delacour's. Making toasts and helping strengthen the connection between the two Pure-Blood Families. It was pretty obvious to Harry that Ron's table was the 'Fun-Table', and that his own seemed to be one that mortician's would be comfortable dwelling at.
The dancing at the festivities was intoxicating, but neither he nor Hermione engaged in this 'frivolity', as Professor McGonagall would call it. Ginny was the only girl, Harry, wished to dance with. But since their separation a month earlier, the Boy-who-lived felt it would have been an inappropriate suggestion to make to the girl whose heart he broke. And even though Hermione did receive the odd offer to 'tread-the-light-fantastic', she declined them all politely. And Harry couldn't help but consider that like himself there was also only one person she wished to have her arms wrapped around, and this person was sitting three-tables away.
Ron, however, did dance. But because of the traditions invoked by being the Intentus Specialsissimus, he was not allowed to dance with anyone that night but his respected opposite. And as far as Hermione was concerned, Gabrielle loved to dance far too much for it to be considered 'normal'. With a glare that was very familiar to Harry, the Boy-who-lived, watched Hermione look uneasily in Ron's and 'Gaby's (as she was now being referred too by the Bookworm) direction whenever they got up to share a dance with the Happy Couple – Bill and Fleur. At any second, Harry, was expecting a swarm of magical yellow canneries to be beset upon the pair. Thankfully, this did not happen.
When the function was over, Ron had to stand up once more and take on another responsible role and escort, via Port Key, Gabrielle and the Delacour's back to their Castle in France. It was during this quiet moment that Bill and Fleur circulated amongst the guests and offered their thanks for their attendance prior to them both leaving to Greece for their Honeymoon.
When Bill made it to the Potter/Granger Table, the 24-year old male was all smiles. And it was in this happiness that the present seeds of hostility between Ron and Hermione were sown.