“She’s really doing it,” Draco breathed, words winded. He stood barely a gust away from toppling. His chest tightened.
“That’s sort of the point of today, mate,” Theo whispered from beside him.
“But she’s actually—“ he couldn’t finish the thought. He had no air left in his lungs, it had all blown out of him in a rush of disbelief.
Before him, Hermione approached, a version of magical divinity: the keystone to his own personal religion. And she was really doing it. Dressed in her bridal robes, bouquet in her hands, and a crown of flowers in her hair; she was really going to marry him.
He couldn’t believe it, after all this time. And he hadn’t quite realized he didn’t believe it until the moment she arrived, actually going through with it.
He struggled to draw breath, overwhelmed by an awe he’d not thought to prepare for. Because somewhere in the back of his mind he never thought they’d get this far.
They’d sorted through the pain, and the guilt, and the forgiveness together, versions of his and hers. But still— to truly believe he’d earned that forgiveness, that it could culminate in a vision of the holy witch before him, he hadn’t allowed himself the luxury of such faith.
A fissure cracked open in his chest, so sharp and gaping he was sure every last soul in the audience could see it through his triplicate layers of formal attire, suddenly suffocating him. He fought not to claw at his throat, regretting the stifle caused by his tie and collar chain. Those stuffy bits of formality barely held him upright.
He reached for Hermione’s hands the moment she stepped into his orbit. He needed to sort fantasy from reality, to know that it was real and that they’d truly made it this far.
It had seemed an impossible destination the first time he’d kissed her, on the heels of bearing his soul and begging for forgiveness. He knew, even then, where he wanted it to lead if she’d let him.
It still seemed unattainable the first time she took him to bed, a cross-contamination of souls cleansing him of his sins. He might have wedded her then if she’d allowed it.
It hadn’t even seemed possible when she’d agreed to marry him, insistent that her forever lasted just as long as his.
“You’re really here,” he whispered. She was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, her big brown eyes wide and glassy as she stared up at him. She smiled, inflating the chasm in his chest with an unfamiliar serenity.
“We did agree on this venue almost two years ago,” she whispered back. She gave his hands a squeeze: confirmation of his reality.
Draco tried to swallow but his throat squeezed painfully tight, a hot sting assaulted his eyes. He released a heavy breath but the motion choked him on the way out, nearly strangling him. Struggling for his composure, he felt the tears fall, running away with all his fears and doubts.
He wiped them away, fist clenched, trying desperately to ignore the audience to his undoing. He couldn’t take it any longer. He leaned forward, hands cradling her face, stealing a kiss for proof.
She smiled against his mouth, a soft laugh floating between lips.
“You’re supposed to wait until they tell us to kiss,” she said, helping to wipe some of his tears.
He’d waited long enough.