Charlotte studied her reflection in the full length mirror in Ginny's room. The past two hours were a whirlwind since she had arrived. Her friends swept her straight from the fireplace to a bath with instructions to remain in the tub until the water was lukewarm and she was not quite shriveled. The bath had been calming, with its lavender oil. Ginny plucked her out at just the right time for her not to imitate a prune. Ginny eased open the door to look for Charlie so he would not see Charlotte, when Molly passed with a tray for tea, stating her fiancé had taken up residence in the attic.
Arthur had waited until they were safely entrenched in Ginny's room before retrieving the men to begin getting ready. Ginny, Gillian and Hermione proceeded to force feed Charlotte the fare Molly left for tea. Then they began the task of getting ready for the handfasting. Hair was set in rollers. The girls painted each other's fingers and toes. They scrubbed, buffed and moisturized every surface they could think of and even some Charlotte would have considered ridiculous.
They were interrupted a few times. There were wild screeches from Ginny when Harry had knocked and told Ginny hello, a very passionate hello. Ron arrived a short time later with wet hair and a repeat performance for Hermione. Luna and Gillian had made a trip to the bathroom only to arrive back gushing over the physique of one of Charlie's fellow handlers they encountered in the hall. This lead to several uncomfortable minutes for both Charlotte and Ginny as the rest discussed the finer points of the bodies of dragon handlers.
A quick kip and the girls began again. Make up was applied. Gifts of a new naughty knickers set were opened and forced on. More giggles on all of their parts as the girls again made Ginny gag and Charlotte blush as they discussed Charlie's reaction to said knicker set when he discovered it.
Hair was released from rollers and fixed into long cascades of curls on all but Hermione and Luna. Hermione's self-proclaimed train wreck of hair was pulled, tugged and twisted into a messy bun on the back of her head making her even more elegant and mature than normal. Luna's silver locks were sleeked and shined into a smooth cascade down her back. Finally the dress was removed from the closet. Charlotte stepped into it and Ginny zipped it up. The Ravenclaw bronze ribbon was tied into a simple knot on her back and allowed to rest along the skirt. Ginny just set the veil over her arms when there was a knock at the door. Luna drifted to answer it, expecting Molly.
"Well, hello beautifuls." The Eastern European accent drawled out. "Mind if we come in."
The girls all stopped and turned towards the stranger, or strangers as the case was, in confusion. Before anyone could react they were all bound with loose ropes that would not mark but would not give either.
"What are you doing?" Ginny seethed at the three men in the doorway.
"Oh, nothing much. Just kidnapping the bride."
Charlie looked at the chaos around him and shook his head. He sat down in the squishy armchair and propped his boots up on the stool waiting patiently. He already tried to tell them there was nothing to be concerned about, but was ignored. He surveyed the group looking for the inside man. Defiantly a man, the women were all currently irate. His father was jumping between trying to calm his wife and anger Charlotte was taken eliminated him as well.
A loud bang stopped the clamor. Bill stood with his wand held up looking irritated. "Will you all listen? Charlie had been trying to tell you she is fine. I can assure you she is fine."
Everybody looked at the pair in shock.
Charlie turned to Bill. "Do you know where?"
"No," Bill replied calmly.
"Muggle or magical," Charlie asked relaxing further into his chair.
"Magical. I gave them a couple of suggestions," Bill answered.
"Well, that will speed things up. We can use patronuses to communicate," Charlie nodded.
"What is going on, Charlie," Arthur demanded.
"My bride has been kidnapped," Charlie answered calmly. His face turned thoughtful and he again focused on Bill. "Do you know what they are going to ask for ransom?"
"Charles Weasley, How can you be so cavalier about this," Molly Weasley exploded, "Someone had taken your fiancé, and you don't care. Are you going to do nothing to get her back?"
Charlie smiled, "I am, Mum. I'm waiting for the ransom demands. Don't worry, they will have her back in time for the ceremony. We are on a bit of a tight schedule, so I didn't think they would pull this now."
Bill surveyed the group of faces ranging from scared to irritate to downright murderous by the women that had been with Charlotte as the events unfolded. He was glad he had not left them any longer then he did before he sent his mother to find them and let them loose from their bonds and silencing spell. He knew there would still be hell to pay before it was over. "You best explain things a little better, Charlie, before Mum reconvenes the Order."
Charlie looked back at the room in general and sighed. "My friends have kidnapped my bride. It is a Romanian tradition, usually takes place after the ceremony and during the reception. Currently, they have her at some pub feeding her drinks and trying to convince her to run away with them. It's all in good fun. At some time, they will send for a ransom. We will negotiate a fair price and they will bring her back, safe and sound."
Molly gave her son the look that was reserved for the likes of Bellatrix LeStrange. Charlie cowered slightly. "They think this is funny! After all we have been through, they think it is okay to steal a girl from our home and hold her hostage as a game."
Charlie lowered his eyes, "We were so far removed from the central fighting, I am sure it never occurred to them what you all would think. A tradition exists on the reserve, whenever someone gets married or bonded, the friends pull the stunt without thought. Again, I was trying to explain. I have been on these little raiding parties in the past. It's all in good fun and meant to make the new bride or groom feel welcomed to the reserve."
Molly still did not look pacified. "Charlie, I know these are your friends, but are you sure she is safe. You said yourself, your friends were far removed from the war. What if they are not careful and vigilant? There are still death eaters out there after us, Charlie!"
"Mum," Bill interjected, "Give me some credit. I did not let a group of rowdy, drunken dragon handlers take Charlotte without some protection."
"Who?" Molly looked about the room inventorying her brood. A second look brought her attention to Ginny and Hermione. "Where are Ron and Harry?"
Everybody looked about and then stopped at a smirking Bill. "Do you think I would chance her safety with anybody less than the best two duelers in the family?"
Arthur finally relaxed. Ginny and Hermione looked irritated.
"They knew," Ginny growled.
"Not until the last minute. I asked them to meet me at the back door. When Jake and the rest appeared with a very complacent Charlotte, they were told what was happening and they were to take care of Charlotte and ensure her safety," Bill explained. "I didn't tell them what Nate had done to you lot and did not give them a chance to tell anyone what was happening. If you all would have listened to Charlie, you would have been none the wiser of my involvement until later."
The pair looked slightly mollified with the explanation.
Charlie turned again to his older brother, "What will they want?"
"I think scotch and Ogden's. Nate must have a taste for it," Bill replied.
"Yes. I usually bring him a bottle when I come back. If I need shifts covered, he tends to volunteer hoping for that particular thank you in return," Charlie affirmed.
All further conversation was cut short with the arrival of six silver animals. Four of the lot circled about a central point. The other two stood surveying the area.
A long, sleek wolf spoke up in Jake's smooth American accent, "Damn, Chuck, you've been holding out on us. She is a fine woman."
"Didn't your mamam teach you to share, Red." The Frenchman, Louis spoke from the mouth of a great tusked boar.
"Great booze and beautiful women. If this is what the British Ministry is issuing for wives, I may have to renounce my citizenship and join up with your country." Nate harsh voice barked from a large bear.
"Now boys," A small silver fox spoke next with Katie's voice, "No fighting. I'm sure it was just an oversight on Charlie's part that we were not told, but we will have to punish him a little."
"Oh no, Katie. I think he must suffer. I believe I would like a taste of this lovely before we hand her over. Maybe she will realize I am a real man as opposed to the pounce she is arranged to marry," Nate's bear growled back with uncontained lust.
Louis' boar stopped and nodded his head at the center point. In his mind, Charlie could see the bowed head and blushing cheeks of his intended as his friends circled about the bar stool he was sure she was seated upon. "I think I will continue to try to convince her I can keep her all for myself."
Laughter came from all the patronuses. Charlie rolled his eyes.
Jake's mountain lion focused on Charlie and smirked. "Our demands are simple. Three cases of fine scotch, six of Ogden's, two cases of fine French wine. You will work every Saturday for us for the next five years. It will give us time to woo your lonely wife. I think our children will be beautiful. We await your answer. Don't rush, I am enjoying the pleasures of her company all too well."
The four dragon handler patronuses dissolved. Harry's stage spoke up, "She is absolutely fine, enjoying herself even. Ron and I haven't had a drop. See you soon."
"Well, I never. What scoundrels," Charlie jumped at the voice of his Aunt Muriel.
"I must agree," Molly continued, "Really Charlie. These are your friends."
"All part of the game mum." Charlie pulled his wand. Focusing, he cast the partonus charm. A great highland ram exploded from his wand and rambled around Charlie for instructions. "Go to my team. Tell them all plus Harry and Ronnie the following. Your demands are preposterous. She is a Ministry-issued wife. If they gave me this one and you take her, all the better for me. They will just give me another one and until then, my wayward ways can continue."
"Charles," Molly snapped.
"Mr. Weasley," Ms. Horton was aghast. Charlie had forgotten the woman's presence until she spoke.
He put his hand up to silence them and continued. "Since she is fair of face and does not annoy me too badly, I will still consider taking her off your hands. I propose a case of vodka, and some left over bourbon I have in Romania. You can work the Saturdays and I will bed your women. They prefer my skills anyway."
Charlie was ready to send the ram when he thought to give it one more command. "Don't let Charlotte hear what I have said."
The ram nodded and ran out of the room. North, so Hogsmeade?
The whole room of women crashed their insults at once. Charlie held up his hands to silence them. "It's part of the game. Let us have our fun. If it bothers you, go make tea in the kitchen and don't listen. It is only going to get worse before it is over."
The female side of his family gathered to trade insults on Charlie's behalf. Bill strode across the room to join him. "Is it always this bad?"
Charlie smirked, "No, they are practically on their best behavior. Usually it is a lot more lude. The brides we kidnap usually are not as shy as Charlotte and contribute. In great detail if she has drank enough liquor. I don't think it will take long. Our portkey leaves at 8:00 to give us time to get home and to bed before midnight. I am slightly worried, it may take some work to get her to the point where she will be comfortable."
Bill rolled his eyes, "Really, Charlie, this is you we are talking about."
Charlie smirked in pleasure at the praise, "Most are easy conquest and all want to be in my bed. Charlotte is being forced. I'm sure she will be nervous and maybe even a little scared."
"Mum's taken the time to sit her down and hopefully calm her fears. Ginny and her lot have been explaining a lot without really singling her out. She knows what to expect." Bill countered.
"Knowing and doing are too different things, brother mine." Charlie blushed debating his next question, 'Have you …did you… was Fleur …"
Bill took pity. "No. The veela in her blood almost makes that impossible. Faithfulness is the most a husband can hope for. Luckily, it's not such an issue as I keep her more than satisfied. Thanks to your wayward lessons and suggestions."
Charlie's gaze snapped to the pretty French woman and back not wanting to be drawn in by the veela charms. Almost all of his brothers had been at one time or another. Charlie felt the worst for poor Ronnie. "Again, the difference between willing and needing."
Bill laughed loud enough to draw attention. He waited until people went back to their conversations. "Well, I never thought I would see the day when the great Charlie Weasley would doubt himself as a lover. I think, even from your first time, you were arrogant and cocky."
Charlie's retort was cut off by the return of the patronuses with new demands which Charlie countered again. He kept an eye on the clock, knowing that they would not press their luck too far. They had to give Charlie time to collect their ransom as well. They all knew what time they had to leave. The actual ceremony would only last a few minutes. His mother's dinner party another hour or so. They would have to be at the Ministry by no later than 7:30 to pass through immigration out of the country. Charlie had taken the time to start Charlotte's paperwork both here and in Romania on Thursday, so that would speed things along.
The partonuses clambered back into the house again raucously singing a song.
"Fine, you overconfident bastard, you are correct about the healer last June," The great bear snorted, "But I believe it is due to the fact she did not know whose name was whose. For all your conceit, Charlotte agreed that the name Nathan rolls off the tongue in the throes of passion better than Chuckie."
"Ah, but Louis sounded so beautiful just a minute ago," the big bore simpered.
The wolf howled and the fox barked out laughs.
The big wolf finally turned back to Charlie, "We are becoming bored and your mother is a great cook, so we wish to enjoy her fine meal before we have to leave. Either we finish this now or we take the woman for our own devices and you go without. The choice is yours. We demand the following. Two cases of scotch, two of Ogden's, and since we have had such a great amount and have come to appreciate this nectar of the gods, or goddess Rosmerta as the case may be, two cases of the finest oak matured mead ever created. You will be the one to escort the groping Ministry official from Russia and be her personal lap dog during her next visit. That is our final offer."
Charlie groaned that he did not see that last bit coming. Damn his friends. The partronuses continued their bantering and frolicking. Except for one.
The wolf spoke to Charlie. No one else seemed to notice. "I have one last demand, my friend. One that I will hope lead to your happiness and harmony in your new home. Tell Charlotte what has been running through your thick head. She thinks something is wrong with her and this is causing you distancing yourself from her. Do this tonight, before you take her to bed. It will help to calm a lot of her fears I believe. It is my final request of the ransom."
Charlie nodded to him.
Charlie conjured his partronus, "Done! Bring me my bride."
The ram took off to the Three Broomsticks to deliver the message.
Charlie turned to Bill, "Do you have that withdraw for me? We need to have their liquor here when they arrive."
Bill shrugged. "I have it, or most of it. Wasn't expecting the mead. I'll have to pop to the Three Broomsticks and get it. Percy, in your room there are crates marked 'Don't let Charlie see', bring them down will you. Take George, he can help. There is extra. I really thought they would hold out for more."
Charlie looked at the clock. "They are on a time crunch, and they wanted the humiliation more than the booze. Bring down the extra. I need to 'pay' Ronnie and Harry for their service to the family."
Percy gave Bill a disapproving look. "I thought you were keeping it from him so he wasn't pissed for the ceremony."
"Bully," Bill retorted as he strode towards the door. "I'll hurry them along while I am there, mum."
George and Percy disappeared up the steps and reappeared with five cases of bottles. They were set in the middle of the room to begin with. Bill returned shortly and added the cases of mead to the stack.
"They will be along shortly. They are …finishing the song." Bill rubbed the back of his neck.
Charlie groaned. "Maybe we should meet them in the garden."
"No! Absolutely not, Charlie. I have had enough of this nonsense." Molly fumed. "I want Charlotte back here this instant. Enough is enough."
"Mum, they are far from through with this game and the next part is a good old fashioned name calling on the crudest level. Please mum, take Auntie Muriel and Ms. Horton and the rest of the women to the kitchen for tea. I beg you. This will not end without something being said that will upset the lot of you."
"I am staying right here, mister," Molly pointed at the spot on the floor.
Charlie groaned and shook his head, "Don't say I didn't warn you."
The clock on the wall clicked into motion. Ron's hand jumped to traveling, followed moments later by home. In the distance a ruckus chorus of off key singing could be heard coming towards the Burrow. Charlie walked over to the alcohol cases, put his booted foot up on one. His face took on a bored expression and he began to examine the nails on one hand.
The revelers' song could not be made out until they were just outside the door.
Her hair is a dark as midnight. Her face is a sight to behold
Her beauty cannot come into question. Too bad she must bed a toad.
"Well I never," Molly began.
"Molly, you were warned. Now hold your tongue," Arthur reprimanded. Molly glared at him, but complied.
Next to him, Charlie noticed Muriel rubbing her ears as if to remove a blockage. Across the room, Fleur's wand disappeared up her sleeve. Their eyes met and Fleur gave him a little smile and nod.
"Hold up, we forgot something, love." Louis' voice carried through the door. "Now let me see. Do you mind if I borrow this. Thanks. Hold still, your safe with us. At least as safe as you can be with rowdy drunkards."
A few second passed before Louis spoke again. "All set, now give me your arm and let's go ditch your fiancé and run off to Paris."
The others laughed. The door was thrown open the group loudly entered the room.
"Fancy meeting you here, Red." Jake said with an open bottle of mead in his hand. We were out for a bit of a stroll and ran into someone you might know."
Louis guided Charlotte to the front of the group stopping her just out of reach of Charlie. Her hands were tied loosely in front of her and the bronze sash was now tied around her eyes instead of her waist. Molly tutted but held her tongue.
"Really, this is not how one should treat a young woman," Ms. Horton interjected.
Charlie chose to ignore her. "I see you have brought back my bonnie lass so we can get bonded finally. You're taking up my valuable time. Things like this should not be rushed. Especially the consummation. That could take all night, you know."
Charlotte blushed at his words. A few gasps could be heard behind Charlie. He was trying to ignore their origins. Bill may have heard him talk to his friends like this in the past, but this was the Charlie that stayed safely behind in Romania when he came home to see the family.
"Oh that's so sad," Katie crooned, "All night to get little Charlie to perform."
Charlie rolled his eyes as his fellows laughed at his expense.
It was Jake who stepped forward to Charlotte first, "Last chance to run, love. Let me take you away and make love to you until you forget that you are supposed to be bonding to old what's his name."
The group laughed and jeered again. George joined along. Charlie was glad to hear his voice in the crowd. "The only name she will be crying out tonight will be mine, boys."
Nate took up the mantle on her other side, "Crying is right, just like you have left a trail of crying women all across Romania."
"No," Charlie boasted back, "They are crying after you leave them wanting, something I would never do." Without thinking about his family behind him, Charlie cupped himself through the leathers he was wearing. He definitely heard his mother moan behind him along with the laughter of his friends and brothers.
Katie walked up behind her, leaned over and whispered loud enough for everybody to hear in her ear, "Why don't you let me show you how to love a woman?"
"No, Charlotte, let me show you how a woman should be made love to," Charlie purred.
Louis walked around and ran a finger down Charlotte's cheek. "My sweet beauty, run away with me. We will escape the tyrants who will have you marry this ogre. We will run away and I will marry you instead. We will make sweet love and sweeter, beautiful babies. They can rematch our Charlie here to a hag with a bag. Charlie can wear the bag over his head when he fucks the hag so she doesn't see that ugly face of his."
Charlie snarled at Louis' boldness. "I have a bag right here…"
"Do you kiss you mother with that mouth, Red?" Jake reminded him of the company they were currently keeping. Charlie slyly gave him a two fingered salute. Jake blew him a kiss before he turned his attention back to Charlotte, "So what will it be, beautiful Charlotte, will you run and leave this bastard at the altar, or will you stay and face your fate with his lot."
Charlotte smiled mischievously. Charlie was shocked and little worried. She spoke with fake sincerity, "It's such a difficult choice. Katie's offer is tempting."
The room laughed and groaned in unison. Katie slowly walked up behind her. She wrapped her arms around Charlotte and stroked slowly down along the neckline of the halter dress. She mock whispered for all to hear. "Run away with me, bella Charlotte. We will go to the homeland of my fathers. We will sun ourselves naked in the sand all day and make bella love all night long. Yes? We go now and leave these haughty pigs behind and start life anew."
Charlotte moaned and blushed. Percy and Ms. Horton looked at each other in shock wondering if they had missed crucial clues on the girl's profile. Katie smirked at Charlie who was adjusting his legs to prevent the new larger bulge from being too noticeable in the front of his tight leather pants.
"I'm sorry, my sweet Katie, our love can never be. The Ministry will send those fine Aurors to find us and I will be hauled back to Charlie, then we will both be in trouble. I must bond with Charlie, but I will always be thinking of you, my sweet Katie."
Everyone froze looking at the women. Katie cracked and began to laugh followed closely by Charlotte. "I wish you could see their faces, Charlotte. I think they believed us for a moment."
The room erupted with laughter.
"So," Jake shouted, "You will stay with this bastard over our offers."
"Yes, I cast my lot with Charlie," Charlotte nodded. The room cheered.
Charlie kicked a case of liquor towards his friends. "You ransom, you sons of jackals. You're vice for my bride. Be gone from her side. I have paid your price, now let me claim what is rightfully mine."
The men and Katie each gave Charlotte a quick peck on the cheek and moved away again. Charlie grabbed two bottles of firewhiskey and strolled forward. Jake turned and looked at Ron and nodded.
"Oh, Charlie, by the way," Ron leered at his brother, "your fiancé's virtue is still intact, or it was before I checked it to make sure it was still there."
Charlie chuckled again, "I'm not worried 'little' brother, from what Hermione was screaming as I was satisfying her while awaiting your return, it's not enough to do the job properly anyhow."
All of the Weasley brother's hooted and catcalled. Charlie walked up to Ron and Harry and handed them each a bottle. "Thank you for keeping her safe, boys."
He embraced them both and slapped them on the back before her returned to Charlotte. He walked before her and took her bound hands. "It's me."
Charlotte nodded and held her hand up for him to undo the knots. The rope easily slipped free.
He walked behind her and began to work the ribbon blindfold free. "Thank you for letting them have their fun. This craziness means the world to us at the reserve."
"It was fine…and fun. It took some of the stress of the day away," Charlotte replied.
"Good," Charlie smiled as the blindfold fell.
Ginny appeared at his side instantly grabbing Charlotte's arm before she turned. "Off we get. Don't you dare look at him. At least one of you will not see the other before the wedding. We'll be right back, just got to freshen up a bit and finish getting ready."
Ginny marched Charlotte to the steps where Luna, Gillian and a very pink faced Hermione waited.
Molly grabbed hold of Charlie. "Come along, let's get you smartened up a bit for this."
"Oh, mum, there is no sense in it. Charlie has been thick his entire life. You're not going to change that in the next fifteen minutes," Bill jested looking at the clock.
Charlie glanced at it as wall. For all of his friend's antics, they had succeeded in wrapping things up to allow the ceremony to happen on time. Bless them. Charlie glanced their way as his mother fixed his collar and fastened his dress robes. They stood along the wall, talking quietly and not making a scene. Jake looked at him and nodded. Charlie understood. He had a promise to keep this evening.
"Oh, I almost forgot." Fleur turned towards Auntie Muriel and waved her wand. The woman quit digging in her ears.
"Well that was close. I thought for a moment I was losing my hearing, but it must have been earwax. What did I miss?"
The whole assembly laughed. Charlie shook his head. "Nothing important, Auntie Muriel."
The woman nodded and settled back into her chair. "Ronald, be a good lad and bring me a drink. I'm old and do not want to walk; and seeing as the hooligan is about to get married, I think the world is about to end. I'll have a tall glass of Ogden's if you don't mind."
Molly just shook her head and rolled her eyes.
Bill reminded Charlie in approximately 30 minutes he was going to be tied to his new bride for the foreseeable future and if he didn't want his first moments of married life to be a bathroom exhibition, he might want to head there now.
Hermione appeared a short time later to let everybody know Charlotte and the others were ready to go, right on time. The family and friends assembled in front of the fireplace, which Molly and Charlotte decorated with evergreens and holly for the occasion. Ms. Horton took her place in the middle and Charlie stood to her right, awaiting Charlotte to enter the room.
He did not expect a big change in Charlotte. She was standing before him during the razing and commitment. So, he was slightly taken aback by her when she entered into the room with her escort.
Charlie gasped at the young woman before him. The girls somehow transformed her just a little to give her a more bridal look in those few minutes. The blindfold was again at her waist accentuating curves previously unnoticed under the schoolgirl uniform and bulky school robes. Her dark locks which fell in cascades around her perfect heart shaped face were crowned with a wreath of heather and wheat interwoven with ribbons in the same color they would soon be bound with, cascaded down from the wreath and into her hair. Across her arms, she wore the marama he had bought her for Christmas. In that instant, the schoolgirl was gone and the young woman remained.
Ms. Horton drew his attention forward then. "Charles Weasley, step forward and convey your intent this day."
Charlie stepped forward dragging his attention from his bride, facing the Ministry official. "I stand before you to be bound to this woman, if she will have me."
Ms. Horton continued, "Charlotte Cooper, step forward and convey your intent this day."
Charlotte stepped beside Charlie and replied in turn, "I stand before you to be bound to this man, if he will have me."
"Today, Charles Weasley and Charlotte Cooper have indicated their intent to be bonded by the fasting of hands. Are there any who hold claim to either of these individuals?"
"We hold claim over them as our family," Arthur stated standing between them. Charlie could see a single tear slip down Charlotte's face at his father's pronouncement claiming not only Charlie, but her as well.
Ms. Horton was caught off guard for a moment, but continued, "Will you renounce your claim to them so they may be bound by fasting of hands?"
"We do not renounce them." Arthur spoke with authority.
Charlie was not shocked by his father's responses. Arthur had rehearsed them the previous evening to ensure he did them correctly. The easy route was to accept Charlie and Charlotte would leave the family and start their own, but Weasleys don't give up their own.
"Do you, then, intend to accept their bonding and allow their union as head of their household?" Ms. Horton continued the longer ceremony after locating the correct section.
"Our family will acknowledge and gratefully accept the bonding of these two individuals. They have our blessing to have their hands fasted and their lives bound to one another." Arthur completed his part of the ceremony and stepped back next to Molly.
"Do any other's hold claim to these two individuals?" Ms. Horton asked again. Silence followed.
"Charles Weasley, have you been bound by fasting to another over the past year and a day?"
"Charlotte Cooper, have you been bound by fasting to another over the past year and a day?"
"Does any reason exist that these two cannot join their lives by fasting?"
The assembled crowd answered, "No"
"Turn and face one another," Ms. Horton continued, "And present your hands to one another."
Charlie turned and placed his hands palms up in front of Charlotte as she did the same. Their fingertips brushed against each other's. Charlie studied the differences. His were large, hard, callused, burned and scared from his work. Charlotte's were small, thin and stained with ink from the hours of schoolwork she was doing getting ready for her exams.
"Look at your hands and those of your intended. These are the hands that will hold you when you cannot stand on your own, comfort you when you are grieving, give you strength in you times of weakness, encouragement in your times of doubt. These hand will be productive to support your family, and strong when you need protecting. These hands will guide your children, embrace each other in passion, and hold yours as you walk through this life."
"Are you, Charles Weasley, willing to accept these responsibilities?"
"Are you, Charlotte Cooper, willing to accept these responsibilities?"
"Join your hands"
Charlie joined his right hand to Charlottes left. Ms. Horton waved her wand and a blue cord appeared and wrapped around their wrist. "This blue cord represents the fidelity the two of you share in this union."
She continued to wave of the wand. "This green cord represents the future you will build together as a family both together and with the children you will produce. This bronze cord represents the harmony your household will strive to possess. The gold cord represents a long and happy union. Finally, the red cord will represent the passion you will possess for one another."
The cords wove themselves together into a plate locking their wrist together in an infinity loop.
"Confess now your vows in words and in magic together. Do you fast your lives together just as you have fasted your hands?"
"I do" they both answered.
Do you fast your magic together just as you have fasted your hands?"
And do you fast your bodies together just as you have fasted your hands?"
White lights swirled around their bound hands at each pronouncement and acceptance. Charlie could feel the magic working to bind him for a lifetime to the woman before him, and with every acceptance, he knew there was no turning back.
Ms. Horton turned to the witnesses behind the couple. "Who now stands witness to this union and will speak the truth of its validity to all that have doubts?"
Bill stepped forward. "I stand as witness this bond and fasting are true and valid."
Gillian stepped up behind Charlotte, "I stand as witness this bond and fasting are true and valid."
Jake followed. "I stand as witness this bond and fasting are true and valid."
Luna drifted forward next. "I stand as witness this bond and fasting are true and valid."
George stepped up next. "I stand as witness this bond and fasting are true and valid."
Ginny completed the arch of witnesses behind the couple. "I stand as witness this bond and fasting are true and valid."
Gold light encircled the group for a moment and was gone.
"I pronounce you bound to each other in commitment from this day until the end of your days. You are hand fasted from this day for a year and a day. May your commitment continue as you face this day every year as a chance to recommit your lives to one another from thence forth. Kiss your bride and seal your bond."
Charlie went to lower his lips to Charlotte's for a chaste kiss.
"One moment." Jake interrupted and stepped up next to Charlie. "Listen, buddy. I know that look, and this situation doesn't warrant so little effort on your part. I have seen you put more passion into kissing a bar maid to get an extra shot in a drink out of her and you were never planning on spending the rest of your life with them. Consider that, for both of you."
Jake smiled at the irritated Ministry official and retook his place in the arch. Charlie considered his words for just a second, knowing he was correct. Pulling all of his Gryffindor courage, Charlie threaded his left hand through Charlotte's hair. With their combined hands, he pulled her close. He angled her face to his and for the first time looked into her eyes. They were dark blue to the point they were almost black and they were wide with shock and dazed confusion. He pulled her to him and kissed her passionately. It was long and sweet and full of promises of what was to come. Charlotte moaned into the kiss just as it broke. Gold light swirled around them sealing their fates to each other.
And they were bound.