My wedding day was the most important day of my life. I've planned it since I was a little girl, every detail from my dress to the invitations. I always imagined it would be to someone I loved, someone who swept me off my feet…but instead, though I'm standing here marrying my best friend, he's not the one I've always dreamt about. I had that man, once, a long time ago.
I met the love of my life when I was eleven years old. He was a strange little boy, but he was beautiful. Beautiful in the sense that his enthusiasm was intoxicating, his smiles contagious and his overall happiness envious. He was a gawky, skinny kid with clothes too big and glasses held together by tape. His hair was uncontrollable and the darkest shade of black that I have ever seen to this day, and eyes so green I had wondered if emerald shined as bright. He was sweet and polite and so shy…I liked him instantly.
I'm a born and raised pureblood, so the fact that this kid was so different was intriguing. Then again, it also helped that he was Harry Potter. The fact that he was this famous person that I had grown up hearing about made me all that more determined to be his friend. I remember my first conversation with him.
I pushed my way through the crowd in the direction of the boy I'd seen on the train. He was talking with Ron, I knew him because I knew most of the other purebloods. "Hey Ron." I'd said with a smile and he grinned when he saw me.
"Hey Shel, have you met Harry yet? Harry, this is my friend Shelby Prince. Shelby this is Harry-"
"Potter." I finished, holding out my hand out to him. "Hi Harry!" I smiled and he took my hand shyly.
"It's nice to meet you Shelby." He said shyly. I giggled.
"You too." I replied sweetly.
"Shelby-" I looked back to see Draco. Draco was a friend of mine, I usually saw him when I visited with my uncle Severus.
"Oh, hey Draco. Have you met-"
"So it's true then, Harry Potter has come to Hogwarts."
I blink and bring myself back to the present. Harry and I became friends, I stuck with the trio through their endeavors and when we were fourteen we began dating, it started with the Yule Ball. We then stayed together throughout the War and after. We were together until I we were twenty two. The week of my twenty second birthday was the worst of my life. On January eighth I got the floo call from the Ministry, from Ron no less. I had been setting up the dinner table for Harry and I, given he was supposed to be home within the hour and I always made sure it was ready when he got home.
"Shelby?" Ron had called from the living room, he sounded unhappy and nervous. I frowned and headed into the living room.
"Yeah? What's wrong?" I asked. He looked up at me with sad eyes and I tensed.
"Shelby…it's about Harry." I felt my blood run cold and nodded my head for him to continue. "He's, uh, well, he's gone missing." I froze.
"What are you talking about?" I asked calmly. Ron eyed me cautiously.
"He's gone." He repeated. "We were on this stake out, have been for a few days, you know? And we were ambushed…so much happened, and Rogers got hit, Harry took off after him, I ran after him, and then there was this battle and this, like a gas bomb or something, and by the time I got to Rogers he was dead, the smoke and Harry were gone." My heart felt like led in my chest.
"Ron…you're telling me that my fiancé is missing." Ron nodded.
"I'm sorry Shelby, I don't know what went wrong, or where he went, or what even really happened." I was quiet for a long moment and I felt Ron's eyes on me, though my eyes were trained on a picture of Harry and I we had on the mantel above the fire. After a bit I shook myself back to the present and looked at Ron.
"It's not your fault Ron. Thank you, you'll keep me posted, won't you?" I asked. My tone remained calm and he looked worried.
"Of course Shelby, you know we'll do everything we can…" I nodded and waved him away.
"Of course Ron, don't worry about me. Go home to your wife."
"You'll be ok?" he asked stubbornly and I sighed, nodding.
"I'll be just fine Ron. Go, go. I think I'll just…go to sleep, you know? I have to work tomorrow…" he stared at me but nodded.
"If you say so, I'll check in tomorrow, yeah?" I smiled slightly at him.
"Yeah, ok, thanks Ron. Good night, give Mione my love, alright?" he nodded then was gone. I instantly closed of my floo to everyone. I waited to break down until I was safely in our bed, curled around Harry's pillow. I had cried myself to sleep.
The following week had been miserable, and the most stressful of my life. Still, the worst day had been my birthday. They had been searching for Harry relentlessly, and had thought they had found him. What they did find however, I'll never forget.
I sat in a private, typically used for interrogation, room. They had called me in from work, telling me it was important. I had come immediately, hence where I currently sat. Kingsly came in alone, and I knew something bad had happened. Ron always talked to me, if the Minister was the one speaking to me I knew something terrible had happened.
"He wasn't there, was he?" I asked miserably and Kingsly sat across from me.
"No, Shelby, he wasn't. But this was." He slid a letter across the table to me. I glanced down and saw my name scrolled on it, in Harry's hand. I gasped quietly.
"He had been there, you were so close-!"
"I think you should read the letter Shelby." He interrupted. He sounded so grave that I gave the letter a wary glance. "Please." He added. I nodded and pulled out the letter.
Hello darling. I'm so sorry that I did this to you, that this happened. I haven't much time, so I can't explain. I just wanted to tell you that I love you, and I always will, no matter what. I want you to know that this had never been my intention, and that I really did look forward to marrying you. Our wedding day would've been the happiest day of my life. Fate, as it were, seems to have different plans for you though, plans that don't involve me. And I suppose I'm alright with that. I know it is me that could never live without you, not the other way around. You have never needed me, I'm just lucky that you wanted and loved me. Sweetheart, I've been told I'm going to die tonight, if that is true or not I can't begin to fathom but I feel that I am fresh out of chances. I already got a second and third chance, which is more than I ever thought I'd have. I need you to know that you made me happier than anything, and that I am prepared to die. You made me a better person, believe it or not, you taught me never to give up, but to at the same time accept when I am beaten. I think this is one of those times. Anyway, as I've said, I don't have much time, I hear them coming now. I'm just glad they've allowed me to write this to you. I just want you to know not to wait for me, if I can I'll come back to you but that seems more then unlikely this time. Don't hold out for me darling, allow someone to make you as happy as you've made me, and vice versa. He'll be a lucky man, the one that actually gets to marry you. Oh, and Happy Birthday. I have to go, good bye honey.
My life had shattered that day, and I was convinced I'd never be happy again. The ministry kept looking for him for six more months but after that they gave up. Harry was assumed dead, and everything he had went to me.
I refused to give up though, it wasn't until three years later, and after much coercing by Hermione, that I began to date again. Two months into the dating scene I reunited with Blaise Zabini, and we hit it off. We bonded over our losses, his wife had passed away two years prior. We began to heal together, and have been together for two years now.
That brings us to the present. Today was our second anniversary and our wedding day. He asked me to marry him six months ago, and I had said yes. Blaise gazes at my now as I approach, a warm and loving smile lighting up his sad blue eyes. He's dressed all in black, with a silver tie to compliment my silver stitching on my ivory dress. The best man, Draco, and the groomsmen, Ron and oddly enough George matched him, my maid of honor, Caitlin, and my bridesmaids, Hermione and Luna, wear silver dresses. The entire wedding was silver, black and white, a wintery theme fitting for December. Our ceremony was taking place at Zabini Manor, courtesy of Blaise's mum, in the gardens. A large pavilion protected the guests and an arch rose over the alter, white roses, lilies and carnations weaved into the wrought iron arch. Blaise stood there, smiling at me, the ministry official smiled at me as well. My veil was longish, going down to the small of my back with crystals woven in. My hair was up in an elegant twist with a few golden strands falling to frame my face. My dress was ground length with a short train. It was formfitting but still classy and was oddly sleeveless. We all were protected from the softly falling snow by heating charms. I walked down the white carpet slowly, smiling softly back at Blaise. My blue gray eyes were framed in silver and I wore a soft pink lip gloss that shimmered.
No, Blaise isn't the man I've dreamt about, but he's a fair substitute. I still don't know if I believe Harry to be dead, but I do know that, five years later, at twenty seven, I'm tired of being alone. I'm ready to move on I suppose, not forget, but move forward. I want a family, and a man who will love me, I have that in Blaise. I know that no matter what I do he'll still love me, and I know, as a Partner in Weasly Wizarding Wheezes, Blaise will always come home. Every night at seven o'clock he'll walk in our front door, give me a kiss and ask about my day. He won't disappear while trying to save the world, and that is what I want, what I need. And my family? That will come sooner than Blaise knows, you see, we're expecting our first child, and I've yet to tell him. It's my wedding gift to him.
I kiss my father's cheek as we reach the alter, and he whispers; "You're mother would be so proud of you." I look at him and smile softly.
"Thank you Daddy. I love you." He smiles at me, teary eyed.
"I love you too." He looks at Blaise as he takes my hands from my father. "You take care of her son." He tells him and Blaise nods.
"I will." He nods and takes his seat next to Blaise's mum, who is already blotting her eyes with her handkerchief. I look up into Blaises eyes and beam at him. "You look beautiful." He says softly. I blush lightly and shrug slightly.
"You don't look so bad yourself." I reply as the Ministry official starts speaking.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of two noble families…"
"Thank you." He replies with a wink. "Draco and I spent hours finding the right tux, I must say I do love this outfit."
"It beats stuffy dress robes, doesn't it?" I murmured back. He nodded ever so slightly.
"Definitely. Impeccable taste my darling." I bit my lip to stifle a giggle.
"Are you going to tell me where we're going for our honeymoon?" I asked hopefully. He raised an eyebrow.
"Are you going to tell me what my present is?" I rolled my eyes, smiling.
"Touché my dear." I replied grudgingly. He winked at me before turning his attention back to the ceremony with a squeeze of my hands.
"Do you, Blaise Achille Zabini, take Shelby Nichole Prince, to be you're lawfully wedded wife, in sickness and in health, through the good times, and the bad, to care for and to hold, to support and to love for the rest of your life?" the man asked. Blaise gazed at me softly.
"Of course I do." Our guests chuckled and the man turned to me.
"And do you, Shelby Nichole Prince, take Blaise Achille Zabini, to be you're lawfully wedded husband…" I focused on Blaises eyes as he read through the same list again. "…for the rest of your life?"
"Yes, I do." I murmured. Blaise grinned at me.
"By the power invested in me I now present Lord and Lady Blaise Achille Zabini." There was clapping as Blaise pulled me close and dropped a tender, yet passionate kiss on my lips. I slid my arms around his neck and kissed him back. I couldn't help the tears that began to spill over, I knew people would think they were the happy tears of a newlywed when in reality I was crying because the name he said wasn't Harry's. I hoped they were the final tears I would cry for my lost chance, my would've been future. I love Blaise, I do, but I'm not in love with him, and I doubt I ever will. We moved on to the Reception which was taking place in the Ballroom of the manor. I went up with Cait, Mione and Luna to change out of my wedding dress and into a reception dress.
"How are you feeling?" Cait asked as we shut the door to the room we were using. I shrugged slightly as Luna went to grab my other dress and Mione began to undo my corset.
"I'm in a bit of shock I guess, I mean…I'm married now." My voice broke slightly and Caitlin squeezed my arms gently as she pulled off my veil.
"I saw you start crying." She said softly. I nodded and glanced at Luna as she reappeared with my dress.
"I'm happy." I said halfheartedly. She chuckled.
"You were thinking of him." She retorted. I grimaced slightly, guiltily and the girls laughed softly.
"How could I not?" I asked defensively.
"Oh, Shelby, we weren't judging you love." Hermione said from behind me.
"She's right." Luna spoke up. "There's nothing wrong with still loving him Shel. If the situation was reversed-"
"He wouldn't have married Luna." I cut her off. "Even if I had written him a letter telling him to." I said, somewhat bitterly, sadly.
"Shelby, Harry only ever wanted you to be happy." Cait told me impatiently. "You know that, we all know that."
"He would have wanted you to have a chance at this, at family." Hermione added. "That's all you two ever would've wanted." She pulled loose the last lace and Cait caught the dress as it began to fall.
"Right. It's what the two of us wanted." Cait gave me a look.
"Shelby, you can't keep holding onto what will never be. He's gone, and you need to accept that. I thought you had when you told me you were to marry Blaise." I gave her an irritated look.
"I realize he's gone Caitlin, if there's one thing I'm one hundred percent aware of it's that he's gone." I said, annoyed. "I'm letting go, just…slowly."
"The baby will be good for that." Luna mused and smiled at me. The other two froze.
"What?" I smiled back wryly.
"I think so too." I agreed.
"Shelby?" Hermione questioned, stunned. "You're pregnant?"
"Shelby!" Cait whined. "Why didn't you tell me first?" I laughed quietly.
"Yes, and because I didn't want it to somehow get back to Blaise, I'm going to tell him tonight." I explained.
"How long?" Cait asked curiously.
"Seven weeks." I replied with a smile. "I'm excited for the baby. I think he, or she, will be good for us. I mean, I love Blaise, I do, you three know that. I just hope that…that maybe this baby will be that little something, you know?" They all looked at me with sad understanding as I stepped out of the dress. Cait carried it over to the bed and laid it on the bed. We'd already done all the pictures before coming up here.
"Shelby." Hermione said wisely as I stepped into the shorter, more flowy dress. "I agree that the baby will be good for you, but he or she won't make up for what you've lost." Cait nodded her agreement.
"I don't think you should look at the baby to make up for Harry. He, or she, won't Shel. I know better than anyone how much you love Harry, and I know that you will love your kid just as much, but differently, you know? You have to recognize that difference." I looked into the mirror as Luna zipped up the new dress.
"I do, really guys. I know no one will make up for, or replace Harry. I know I will never feel what I did for him exactly the same again, and I'm ok with that, really. I wouldn't want that. If there's one thing that will always belong to Harry, it's my complete and utter devotion. Still, I will love my family, my family with Blaise. Just because he's not Harry doesn't mean I will love my children any less." Luna came around and smiled at me.
"I don't think any of us question you're maternal instincts Shel. I'm pretty sure we've all experienced it." They all laughed and I smiled.
"Yeah, yeah." I rolled my eyes, amused. There was a knock on the door.
"What?" Cait called ineloquently and the rest of us snickered. We heard a chuckle on the other side.
"Is my wife ready yet?" Blaise called. I smiled softly at the sound of his voice.
"Yes!" Mione called.
"She's coming." Luna finished helpfully. I rolled my eyes at them and headed for the door. I pulled it open and Blaise beamed at me.
"Hi there dear." I stood on my tip toes and pressed my lips to his lightly.
"Hello darling." I replied. He offered his arm.
"Shall we?" he offered and I nodded. The other men filed in to pick up their women, and we headed down into the reception.