Remus straightened his dress robes and glanced back over the rows of their wedding guests to the cottage.
Marlene was there, standing beside where most of the British Aurors had congregated and looking rather nice in navy robes, and the Aurors Dora had got to know in France were near them. Across the aisle from her, the Weasleys had settled after the frantic bustle of their arrival, and all looked particularly freckled after their trip to visit Bill. Draco and Narcissa – who'd been invited by Andromeda, but who Remus hadn't actually thought would come – were on Snape's other side, and next to him was McGonagall in sharp green robes. Hagrid, in the furriest suit Remus thought he'd ever seen, and Madam Maxime had been given two large sets together at the very back row, and were deep in conversation, and Remus was amused to see his belligerent, prejudiced Aunt Catherine trying to find a seat as far from them as possible.
She ended up seated beside Ethan of all people – who Remus had debated at length over inviting – but in the end had, and had not invited Sarah – who was seated beside Dumbledore, looking uncertain, but not entirely unhappy with the arrangement. He did, however, keep shooting nervous glances at Matt as if to reassure himself he was there.
But speaking of not there…
"Where do you think they are?" he asked Matt in a low voice; Andromeda was within earshot, and, while she'd probably noticed her cousin's absence, Remus wasn't going to risk it. He wanted Sirius at his shoulder, where he was supposed to be, not dead.
"No clue," Matt said. "Maybe-" But he cut off, and they both looked back at the cottage, ears perking up at the faint, tell-tale pop of apparation. Sure enough, Harry appeared, leading Hermione; she, despite being pale and a bit unsteady on her feet, seemed to be asking questions at her usual rapid rate, and Remus surmised that it must have been her first Side-Along experience.
Her parents had been invited as well, more as a courtesy than anything, because Remus had only met them a handful of times – but only Hermione had accepted the invitation, and so Sirius had offered to collect her.
Harry settled Hermione in a seat beside Ron, and was promptly attacked upon by Andy with a bottle of Sleekeazy's and a comb; Remus could hear him protesting, oven over the noisy babble of their guests.
"Sorry we're a bit late," Sirius said, sidling into place beside Matt. Remus grunted, too relieved he'd showed up to bother to ask where he'd been, or to chastise him for it.
"Why do you smell like ash?" Matt asked, sniffing at Sirius.
"I shouldn't, I showered," Sirius said. Remus arched an eyebrow, but Sirius just gave him a look that Remus took to mean 'later'. "Garden looks good too, Moony."
"You're just saying that because you did most of it," Matt said, and Remus grinned. Sirius looked relieved they'd let the topic drop, and Remus wondered what Sirius could possibly have been up to that morning that he wasn't willing to talk about in front of Matt. It couldn't be Auror business because he had the day off, and a significant portion of the Department had the day off with him (or at least enough of the day that they could make it to the ceremony).
Remus decided to let the matter rest, in favour of a nervous glance at the cottage; Marlene had headed that way, as had Beth, and Remus suspected that meant Dora was almost ready to come out. He took a deep breath.
"Not getting cold feet, are you, Moony?" Sirius asked, nudging him.
"No," Remus muttered, and he wasn't, but- well, to be frank, he still couldn't believe Dora had put up with him long enough that he'd felt ready to propose, or that she'd said yes when he had, managed to actually spit out the right words and ask. "Just a bit- overwhelmed."
"I think that's normal," Matt said, glancing at Sirius for help.
"Dunno," Sirius said, shrugging. "James was stupidly excited for his wedding, but he was always a bit mental-" He and Remus shared a grin, and then Remus automatically glanced over at the two empty chairs in the front row, which would have been theirs. Beside those, were another two empty chairs, which would have been for his parents. "-late to Frank and Alice's, so I wouldn't know, and then I reckon the only other weddings I've been to, were Black family ones."
"Andromeda and Ted?"
"Eloped," Sirius said, shrugging. "Probably why she's been such a terror these last few months." Matt pulled a face, and all three of them looked up to see Andromeda ushering Harry into place, before taking her seat in the front row, beside some of Ted's rather overwhelmed looking muggle relatives.
"Here we go," Matt murmured, as the little old witch they'd arranged to perform the ceremony sidled up to the podium, and music started from somewhere near the cottage. Silence fell over those gathered, and Remus' heart was in his throat, and his chest felt like it was full of particularly restless pixies.
Dora appeared on her father's arm, in the doorway of Remus' cottage, and he was surprised and relieved that he recognised her (if Andromeda had had her way, he might not have); Dora was sporting blue curls, a dragon's tooth necklace which had been an early gift from Charlie Weasley, and a wide grin. Her dress was white and simple, with a longish train at the back, but a short front, likely so that she wouldn't trip over trying to walk. Remus noticed her eye her heels with some trepidation before starting up the aisle after Beth and Marlene, and was surprised she hadn't forgone them in favour of some sturdier footwear; they must have been her mother's touch.
Remus' nerves faded as he watched his almost-wife, and was pleased to see she looked as impatient as he felt with the slow pace up the aisle. She stumbled once, predictably – and those that knew her best chuckled - but Ted seemed to have expected it and steadied her without even breaking stride. In the seat closest to the aisle, Mad-Eye repositioned himself; he too, had been ready to catch her, it seemed.
Marlene and Beth went to stand on the opposite side of the podium to Sirius and Matt, and then, finally, she reached him.
"Wotcher," she said, grinning up at him, as Ted put her hand in Remus'. He grinned back, and the little old witch started the ceremony.
The last of the sun was just starting to vanish behind the forest that backed onto Moony' garden, and the little lights Harry had helped Padfoot string up the day before were starting to glow a gentle gold.
Harry's plate of wedding cake vanished from the table in front of him, and then, in the seat opposite, Padfoot got to his feet, and tapped gently on the side of his glass with his wand. Everyone looked up at the chiming sound.
"First off," Padfoot said, "I'd like to thank you, on behalf of Mr and Mrs Lupin-" Harry had to grin at how odd that sounded. "-for coming this afternoon, and celebrating with them. It's been a long road, and not – as some of you will know – a particularly easy one." Padfoot was as at ease talking to dozens of people as he would have been just talking to one or two. "Dora was the first to work out that she fancied him- sorry, I should clarify; the first of the pair of them to work it out. The rest of us had been waiting for a good long while already." Laughter echoed around the garden, and Padfoot grinned, obviously pleased with himself. "And then Remus took a while longer; bit dense, this one." He ruffled Moony's hair, and Moony swatted at his hand, scowling playfully.
"But it works." Padfoot turned to smile at Moony and Tonks. "And despite a massive move which Remus almost mucked up, and despite Dora misunderstanding his proposal and telling him she wasn't in the mood-" Tonks never failed to blush at this, and now was no exception. "-they've made it here. Moony's happy – happier than I've ever known him to be, even back when we were at school." Padfoot grinned, rather evilly. "That said, you probably spend your time with Dora a little… er… differently than you did with me and James."
Most of the adults laughed at that, and both Moony and Tonks flushed bright red.
"And Remus- he's my best mate… practically my brother, and- well, he's brilliant, and I'm glad you were able to look past his furry little problem and realise that; even he struggles to see past it, sometimes... Not that you'll let him get away with that anymore, Dora." Padfoot smiled, and reached for his glass, then lifted it into the air. "To Remus and Dora," he said, and Harry and everyone else lifted their glasses too, "and to happiness."
An answering murmur of "to happiness" echoed around the garden, and then, music drifted out over those seated. Tonks bounded to her feet, and pulled Moony up; while he was making faces, he really didn't seem to mind, and the pair of them had the first dance on the grass beneath the twinkling lights. Harry heard Andromeda sigh contentedly from Matt's other side, and made a face.
Padfoot and Marlene joined Moony and Tonks, as did the Tonkses, and then Moony danced with Andromeda and Tonks with Ted, and then Harry lost sight of Padfoot, only to see him a few seconds later, leading an amused looking McGonagall. Harry saw Fred and George waltz dramatically out onto the grass, hand-in-hand, and saw Draco and his mother, and saw Mr Weasley dancing with Ginny, and Ron with Mrs Weasley.
Harry was going to head for Hermione – who looked a little uncertain over by Percy and Charlie – in the hopes that they could both hide from the dancing together, but someone intercepted him.
"I'm going to keep Hermione company," Harry told Marlene, and tried to slip past her outstretched hand.
"She's fine," Marlene said, and she was; Hermione had been found by Hagrid, and was laughing as she followed him to the edge of where the dancers were. "Come on." She grabbed his hand, and Harry, seeing no way out, dragged his feet all the way to the dancefloor.
Harry lost track of time for a bit. He knew he'd danced with Marlene, Tonks and Mrs Weasley, and then was swept up for a bit by Padfoot – who Harry was sure had set out with the sole purpose of embarrassing him – and then somehow ended up by Hermione who obviously wanted to dance. Thankfully, she was swept up by a very enthusiastic Fred, while George left Ginny with Harry in favour of hunting down Percy, who was lingering on the edge of the dance floor with a girl Harry thought was a Prefect for Ravenclaw.
"Want to dance?" Ginny asked, at the same time as Harry asked if she was hungry. He was relieved when she trailed after him, to stand by the food table.
"How was Egypt?" he asked her; he figured if he made conversation, she'd stay and talk and hopefully that would put off anyone else who wanted to dance with him. Ginny smiled in a way that made Harry think she knew what he was up to.
But, she grabbed a sandwich, and leaned against the table, apparently not minding.
"It was brilliant. I miss Bill now that we're home, though." She smiled and looked past Harry to the bar. "Charlie's home for a few days, though, which is nice." Harry turned and spied Charlie speaking with a tall, blonde woman over by the bar.
"Girlfriend?" Harry asked, but couldn't recall Ron ever mentioning that Charlie was seeing anyone.
"No, I've never seen her before," Ginny said. "I think Charlie came with Tom. They're at the reserve together." Harry knew the name, though he'd never met Tom himself; Tom, however, had met Moony, and helped him get Hagrid's dragon away from Hogwarts in Harry's first year, as a favour to Tonks. It was Hagrid that the man that Harry assumed was Tom was talking to, and he thought he heard Norbert's name.
"So, how's- everything?" Harry asked, after a moment's hesitation; there'd been something odd in Ginny's tone when she said 'Tom'. But they were at a wedding, and she'd seemed happy enough until now and it was probably the last thing she wanted to talk about. Harry hastily added, "Ready to go back to school, or-"
Ginny arched an eyebrow, and again, Harry thought she'd seen right through him, but she only said. "I suppose. Are you doing Divination and Care of Magical Creatures like Ron?"
"Yeah," Harry said. "And Arithmancy as well."
"Hermione's doing all four," Harry said, shrugging, though he wasn't sure how; his timetable would be full with his three extra subjects, so he didn't know where Hermione was going to find the time, but that was her problem, not his.
"Magical Creatures, Divination, Ancient Runes, and Arithmancy," Draco said, melting out of the throng of dancers to come and stand beside them. "Hello, Potter, She-Weasley. Not dancing?"
"Nope," Harry said.
"Probably for the best," Draco drawled. "Knowing you, you'll find some way to injure or endanger yourself, just when everyone's having a nice time."
"I would not!" Harry protested, pulling a face. "Do I look like I'm in danger?"
"The night's still young," Draco said, smirking. Ginny's eyes flicked between them, but she hadn't taken a side yet.
"I'm not going to get into trouble tonight," Harry said, and he was sure of that much.
"Then you'll have made it a day without being in mortal danger," Draco said. "Isn't that exciting?" Harry suddenly remembered what he'd been doing that morning. He wasn't sure what his face looked like, but it obviously gave him away; Draco's eyes narrowed. "What- actually, never mind, I think I'd rather not know." Harry grinned at him. "Would you like to dance, She-Weasley?"
"Yes, if you'd like to," she said, smiling at him. Harry's grin faded.
"If you don't want to be on your own, come and dance," Ginny said over her shoulder, as Draco led her away.
"Traitor!" Harry called after her, and she and Draco laughed.
Harry looked around, trying to find someone he knew that wasn't dancing. Ron, Hermione, Draco and Ginny were dancing all together, rather than in pairs, and Padfoot and Marlene were doing a complicated waltz-type thing in the middle of the dance floor. Moony and Tonks were rocking gently off to one side, Dumbledore and McGonagall were talking with Mad-Eye Moody, who took a sip from his hip-flask as Harry watched, and Hagrid was deep in conversation with the biggest woman Harry had ever seen. He wondered briefly if Hagrid had a wife he hadn't known about, and then shook his head. He was sure he'd have seen her around if that was the case; a woman her size would not be easy to miss.
Harry spied Andromeda heading his way, and baulked; she was probably coming to drag him onto the dance floor herself.
Someone, he thought urgently, glancing around, anyone… He couldn't go to the Aurors – who were deep in conversation – and all of the Weasleys were dancing. Harry's eyes alighted on a lone figure, and headed over, sure that – unpleasant as this might be – it was surely a better alternative than dealing with Andromeda.
Snape lowered his drink as Harry approached, looking equally surprised and displeased to see him.
"Did you need something?" he asked, lifting his drink again. Harry slid onto the stool opposite, and watched Andromeda change course out of the corner of his eye. Snape seemed to understand. "Ah," he said. "Very well, Potter, take your sanctuary, but there are conditions-"
"Do you dance?" Harry asked.
"Absolutely not." If it was term-time, Harry suspected he'd have just lost a large number of points for Gryffindor, but as it was, he was just relieved that he'd be able to hide here for a while. Snape snagged another drink off of a nearby tray, and Harry wondered how many he'd had. "My main condition for your continued sanctuary, is in regards to speaking; that is to say, there will be none from you. Am I clear?"
Harry didn't particularly want to talk to him either, so he had no issue with that, and he nodded. He could have sworn Snape's mouth twitched.