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I want you to stay

The room was impeccably decorated. The floors were polished and shiny, and chairs were arranged in neat, even rows. Each chair had a bouquet of flowers tied to the side with golden ribbons, and everyone stood, looking at me.

I took a deep breath to calm myself and started to walk. I held onto my father's arm, steadying myself. It was like I couldn't remember how to walk as I stepped further and further down the aisle. I stared straight ahead at the boy at the altar, who was standing tall.

He was grinning, and looked as if he were going to burst with anticipation as the distance between us closed. I grinned back.

Once we reached the altar, my father handed me over to the boy, who took my hand gracefully.

"You look beautiful," he whispered.

"Thank you. You're looking pretty great too."

"I know," he teased.

I smiled and held his hand tightly. We both turned to face the officiator, and the ceremony began.

Us being the impatient people we were, we had specifically asked for the shortest ceremony possible, but it felt like time was dragging on and on. Finally, we were reaching the end. He squeezed my hand reassuringly and I returned the gesture.

"Almost there," he whispered.

"Thank Merlin," I answered with a chuckle. "I thought we asked for the shortest ceremony."

The officiator cleared his throat and spoke clearly.

"If anyone objects to the union of this couple, speak now or forever hold your peace."

There was a painful silence as we turned to face the audience. They sat still, waiting for the ceremony to continue.

Nobody moved.

"Moving on," the officiator said. "Now, Pepper—"

He was interrupted by a sudden gasp of the crowd. Confused, we both turned around and as soon as I saw it, I wished I hadn't.

In the middle of the aisle stood Draco Malfoy.

I felt all air leave my lungs. Everyone stared at him in horror and Astoria looked mortified.

"Don't marry him," he said quietly. He looked nervous, and he played with the sleeve of his dress robes.

I couldn't even breathe.

"Don't marry him," he repeated, this time with more confidence. Letting go of his sleeve, he walked closer.

"What?" I sputtered, dropping the bouquet.

"I love you, Pepper. I love you so much. I know I've had all the time in the world to tell you this, and I know I left you, but I need you to know. I love you. I always have, and I always will."

I couldn't reply. Tears welled in my eyes, threatening to spill at any moment.

"Pepper, Peppermint," he pleaded. "I should have told you another time, but I thought I was doing the right thing. But I can't sit here and watch you marry someone else. Pepper, if you still love me, please don't marry him. If what we had was real, don't marry him."

The crowd watched intently, trying to figure out what was going on. My gaze flickered between him and the boy in front of me.

"Pepper?" Draco asked, looking at me.

A million thoughts raced through my head. Tears started pouring down my face, ruining my makeup. I trembled, rocking back and forth on my heels.

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