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Chapter 8: Chapter 7: A Little Too Well
Chapter 7: A Little Too Well
Friday, December 21, 2002
Molly Weasley smiled softly as she stared at a picture of her daughter and Draco Malfoy. The picture had been taken at a Ministry Gala and had been featured on the front cover of the current issue of Witch Weekly. Molly would be the first to admit that she’d had her doubts about her daughter’s arranged marriage, but looking at the two of them – smiling and laughing as they waltzed around the dance floor – she felt her entire body relax. A picture is truly worth a thousand words, she thought, and this one says it all.
She wasn’t sure whether her daughter had admitted her feelings to her husband yet, but the picture spoke volumes of their growing love for each other. It would be rather hard for even the blindest of men to miss.
Sighing as she remembered when she had first fallen in love with Arthur, she slowly turned the page. She could remember what it felt like, the giddy tingling every time she was with him. She could remember how outraged her parents were. A Weasley and a Prewett; it was simply unheard of.
Lost in her memories of years past, she jumped when she heard a loud pop come from the living room. Her eyebrows narrowed in confusion as she wondered who could possibly be Apparating home at this time of day.
Getting up from her chair she walked into the living room, shocked to see three people she hadn’t seen in years.
Ron took a deep breath as he prepared himself to inhale the rich smell of his mother’s cooking. He frowned when his nose was filled with nothing but the scent of cinnamon – a common fragrance for the Burrow during the holiday season.
Ron cringed slightly at his mother’s raised voice as he looked at the woman standing in the doorway between the living room and kitchen. “Hi Mum!” He smiled sheepishly, hoping she would forget that he had left a couple years ago and hadn’t sent more than a few owls, and those simply to say that they were alive.
“Ronald, don’t you dare look at me like that! How dare you run off on some adventure and not bother to come home for any occasion!” Her hands rested on her hips as she stared at her youngest son.
“Harry Potter! Don’t you start with me!” She cut the raven-haired wizard off before he could say anymore. She paused for a minute as she took in the sight before her eyes: the two boys and a girl that had grown up in her home despite only one of them being her actual child.
Her eyes grew misty as tears began to well up at the realization that they weren’t children anymore. They had left as children, but they had returned home as adults.
Hermione was the first to engulf the now teary-eyed woman in a hug. Ron and Harry soon followed her lead.
“You’ve all grown up so much!” Molly smiled at the three of them before pulling them back to her in a tight hug. “Where have you been?”
“We went to America.” Harry said, smiling as the four moved to sit down on the sofa. “Hermione had always wanted to go, and Ron and I just wanted to get out of England for a while.”
“You could have at least discussed this with us before traipsing across an entire ocean. We had no idea whether or not you were alright for those first few weeks you were gone!” Molly looked at the boy she had considered a son since he was 11 years old. She wasn’t sure whether she should be mad that they had left without a moment’s notice not to return for two and a half years, or happy that they were finally home safe and healthy.
“We really are sorry about that! I told them we should have talked to you first, but these two insisted leaving a letter would be easier,” Hermione glared at her two accomplices. “But on to happier topics, we’re home now. America was wonderful. How is everyone here? Where’s Ginny? I’d love to tell her about our trip!” Hermione gushed as she looked around the room for any trace of her ginger-haired friend.
“Everyone’s quite well. Ginny, well, she moved out for starters.” Molly smiled as she tried to figure out the best way to tell them of the most recent of Weasley nuptials.
“Really? Is she working? Where did she move to?” Harry was quick to ask, his sudden interest in Ginevra Weasley not escaping the Weasley matriarch.
She simply raised an eyebrow at Harry, telling him that he wasn’t hiding a thing from her.
Ron and Hermione exchanged looks before Ron finally spoke. “Harry’s finally come to his senses. That’s part of the reason we finally came home, actually.”
Molly stood a moment, her gaze alternating from her son and Hermione to the famous Harry Potter. A mix of both anger and sympathy filled her heart. She took a few breaths trying to decide upon which emotion to convey first, when her words were stopped by someone else’s.
“Molly, dear! I just spoke to Lucius and he asked if you would bring one of your famous desserts tomorrow evening,” Arthur’s voice invaded the silence that had taken over the house just seconds before as he placed his coat and hat on the hook behind the front door. “I told him that I didn’t see how that would be a problem, but that you would owl them if you’d be agreeable.”
Turning her attention from the three in front of her to the door her husband would soon be walking through, she frowned, slightly confused. “I thought the ball was catered?”
“It is. Apparently they wanted to save it for the family meal the next day.”
“Oh!” Molly’s eyes lit up with joy at the revelation of why her cooking was really wanted. “Well of course! That’s fine. I’d be more than happy to whip up a few things. I’ll owl Narcissa at once.” She moved toward the small desk that held both parchment and ink before remembering the three slightly-estranged children that now stood in her living room. “Oh, and come say hello to your children, Arthur.”
Arthur’s confusion at her words lasted until he entered the room. “Well, Holy Merlin!” A smile broke out on his face as he engulfed his youngest son in a hug. “So you’re all alive then?”
“It seems as if your son and his merry friends have returned so that Harry can claim our daughter’s hand,” Molly informed him as she scrawled out a note before sending it off with Hermes, their new owl.
Arthur looked from his wife to Harry, unsure how to comment. “And has anyone’s asked Ginny her thoughts in all of this?”
“I’d assume that one look into the new Witch Weekly would answer you on that.”
Ron looked at his best friend and the woman he had yet to announce as his girlfriend in confusion. Noting the identical looks of confusion on each of their faces he turned to his parents. “Could someone tell us what the bloody hell it is you’re talking about?”
Molly quirked an eyebrow at her son. “Ronald, you may be an adult now but you are still my son. You will not speak to me, or your father in those words or tone.”
“I apologize, Molly, we’ve had a long trip,” Harry smiled apologetically on Ron’s behalf. “What I meant before - when I asked about Gin - was that I once promised to marry her. I’m here to make good on that promise. It wasn’t until a month or two ago that I realized how much I truly missed her.”
Harry sighed as he took a seat on one of the couches. “We were walking through a small Wizarding village in Virginia when I saw a glimpse of ginger hair that reminded me of Ginny’s. It was at that moment I realized how badly I missed her in my life.”
“And so you’re here to ask me for permission to marry my daughter?” Arthur looked at the raven-haired man he had always thought of as a son.
“Well, I can see quite a few problems with that.”
“Dad! Harry Potter wants to marry Gin! Just say ‘yes’ already.” Ron laughed as he threw his arm around Hermione, an action not missed by Molly Weasley.
“Oh!” Molly let out a squeal of joy as she engulfed her son and Hermione Granger in another hug.
“Molly?” Arthur looked at his wife as if she was completely mad.
“Arthur, can’t you see that our son has an announcement of his own to make?” At her words, Arthur transferred his focus to his son who was rapidly running out of oxygen.
Ron gently pulled away from his mother as he let out a laugh. “Well, not so much an announcement but, yes, Hermione and I are seeing each other.”
Arthur smiled happily at the both of them before returning his attention to the problem at hand. “Yes, well, I’m happy for the both of you. However, unfortunately Harry, I cannot permit you to ask Ginevra such a question.”
Harry, taken aback at the refusal, frowned as he thought of what he could have done differently. “Sir, I know you probably don’t think very highly of me after I left her at the end of the war like I did, but I can assure you that I’m back for good. I’ll never make the mistake of leaving her side again.”
“Harry, I love you like a son, and I always will.” Arthur sat beside him as he placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “However, after years of waiting and putting her life on hold for you, Gin finally managed to move on. I haven’t seen her so happy in years. I might be making a bold statement to say that she’s actually found love again, but I think she might have. Either way, she entered into marriage early this past year.”
Ignoring the gasps, the stammering and the questions of ‘who?’ Molly grabbed the magazine which she had been previously looking off the kitchen table before walking back into the living room and placing a hand on her husband’s shoulder.
Arthur looked up at his wife in curiosity as she smiled down at him with a knowing look. She handed him the magazine as she said, “I really don’t think it was that bold of a statement.”
“Would someone please explain to me why my sister would marry someone she’s not certain she loved?” Ron stared incredulously at his parents who seemed to be finding a strange amount of joy from a magazine. “What bloody parallel universe did I Apparate into?”
“Honestly, and I’m only telling you three this because you are considered family, her wedding was arranged. We had our own doubts at the time but we are completely sure now that is was the right choice. However, that information does not leave this house.”
“WHAT?” Harry stood with remarkable speed as he looked at the two people he had considered parents. “What you mean to say, sir, is that you can’t permit me to marry your daughter because you’ve already shoved her off on someone else!”
“I will not permit you to take that tone with me, Harry. If you had all been here over the past three years, then perhaps everything would be a bit different. I’m not sorry, however, for my actions. The result has been seeing my daughter laugh and smile for the first time since the beginning of the war.”
“And who, exactly, did you see fit to take my place in her life?”
“Oh, my gods.” Hermione, who had been standing quietly for the majority of this argument, now gasped at her own conclusions.
“What?” Ron looked worriedly at his girlfriend.
“She – Ginny – you – I can’t – Oh, my gods.”
“Hermione, dear, are you alright?” Molly looked at the brunette with concern.
“I’m perfectly fine! Then again, I’m not the one that’s been married off to a Malfoy!”
Molly bit back a smile, suddenly remembering that it had been brains that had given this brunette her place in the Weasley household. “If you’d like to see her you’re all more than welcome to accompany us to the annual Malfoy Holiday Ball. The invitation was extended to the whole family so, of course, you’re more than welcome to attend.”
* * *
Saturday, December 22, 2002
Ginny had just put the final touches on her ensemble when she felt a pair of familiar arms wind themselves around her waist. Smiling, she turned around in the pair of masculine arms. It was barely a moment later when a pair of lips captured hers. She enjoyed the kiss for a minute before pulling back.
“My family will be here soon and I still have to help your mother finish with the preparations.” She tried to ignore the way his lips melted into the sensitive spot on her neck.
“Leave Mother to it. It’s what she enjoys most about these parties. As for your family, well, with the news of Harry Potter’s return I’m not exactly jumping to greet them.”
Pulling back from him, she gently placed her hand on his cheek. “Harry Potter may have returned to England but he’s already lost his chances with me. I’ve moved on. He is, however, a member of my family, so you’ll have to endure him for the evening. I give you permission to ignore him, however. I do have to ask you to be nice to Ron and Hermione, though.” He narrowed his eyes at the request and she responded with a laugh. “Don’t look at me like that. And no jokes about how the beaver and weasel have finally gotten together. Hermione no longer has buck-teeth and Ron’s no more a weasel than I am.”
“Actually, you’re not a weasel at all. You’re a Malfoy, remember?” He smirked before leaning down to kiss her sensitive spot once again.
She closed her eyes and let out a groan. “Later, Draco. We can continue with this later.”
“Or,” he whispered against her skin, “we can finish this now and recreate it later.”
One look into his stormy eyes and she didn’t even have to verbally agree before she had loosened his tie and begun to unbutton his pants.
Forty-five minutes later, as Ginny was putting the finishing touches on herself a second time, a familiar pop was heard from the Master Bedroom’s living area. Kissing her husband on the cheek, she told him she would see him downstairs before moving to follow Tilly down to the grand ballroom.
Time, after that, seemed to move steadily as she greeted Narcissa and helped her with some of the preparations. They continued to see that everything was in order until Tilly announced the arrival of the Weasley family, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter.
Thanking the house-elf, Ginny excused herself from Narcissa’s company to welcome her family in the foyer.
* * *
If there was ever something that Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter were unprepared to see, it was little Ginny Weasley all grown up and looking every bit the part of a young, aristocratic wife.
“Mum! Dad!” She smiled widely as she hugged and kissed each of her parents before proceeding to hug the twins, who had been told of their sister’s nuptials two months before. It had come as a shock to them, but neither Fred nor George could deny the change in both their sister and Draco Malfoy. When they had met the pair for lunch in Diagon Alley, there was no denying that a love was beginning to form between their previously miserable sister and a man who had once seemed incapable of such an emotion.
Hugging each of the twins, and making them swear to behave this evening, Ginny paused as she looked at the three people hadn’t seen in years. They had changed, grown up. Then again, she supposed she had, as well.
She smiled as she took note of Hermione’s hand resting in Ron’s. Those two were meant to be, and Ginny was relieved that they both managed to see what everyone else had been saying behind their backs for years.
“Ron.” She smiled as she hugged her brother tightly. “Never run away again. Despite your annoying habits, I missed you.”
Ron squeezed his sister tight before letting her go. “I missed you too, Gin. But really, I leave for a few years and you marry the Ferret?” He tried to approach the issue gently, knowing if he said much more his parents would see to it that he spent the next month unable to say anything.
“I know; it’s quite the shock. Funny how life works, isn’t it?” Ginny smiled, not particularly wanting to get into this discussion before the Holiday Ball.
She couldn’t help but smile as she turned and hugged Hermione. “’Mione! I missed you! What’s a girl to do when her best friend runs away for years at a time?”
Hermione laughed before saying, “I know. I’m sorry we didn’t tell you. We should have lunch or something this week and catch up. I have plenty to tell you!”
Ginny looked from her brother to Hermione before smiling mischievously. “I’m sure you do!” The girls giggled, agreeing to find a day this week to spend together; before Ginny turned to the man she had once thought she’d spend the rest of her life with. “Harry.”
“Ginny.” Harry looked at her in a way she recognized. He was dying to say something, but was biting his tongue.
Quickly she gave him a hug. “It’s good to see you.” Pulling away she looked at her mother before questioning, “I thought you were going to bring one of your Christmas desserts?”
Molly smiled. “I brought several. They were already taken to the kitchen. You’re having them tomorrow, correct?”
“Yes. I can’t wait! Oh, and before I forget, Draco and I were trying to figure out whether it would be best to spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at the Burrow.”
Molly’s face lit up with delight with the news of her daughter spending the holidays with them. “You know we’ll always have a spot for you and Draco, no need to figure it out among tonight’s festivities.”
“Speaking of, where is Draco?” Arthur Weasley scanned the area briefly before looking back to his daughter.
Rolling her eyes, Ginny replied, “You’d really think he was a girl with how long he takes to get ready. He should be down any minute.” Her eyes glanced over to the elegant clock that hung on the wall, before furrowing her eyebrows at what could be taking him so long. “Actually, he should be down right now.”
With nearly perfect timing, a small pop was heard next to the Weasley clan as Tilly appeared. “Tilly doesn’t mean to interrupt, but Young Master can’t seem to find his necktie. Tilly has been sent to see if Young Mistress has seen Young Master’s necktie.”
Thinking for a moment, she frowned and shook her head. “It should be where ever he last had it. I haven’t moved it.”
Tilly simply nodded before vanishing with a pop.
Apologizing for the interruption, Ginny turned back to her family before being interrupted a minute later, again by Tilly.
“Tilly apologizes, but Young Master insists that he cannot find the necktie.”
With a sigh, Ginny turned to her family. “I’ll be right back.” Turning, she ascended the stairs with natural grace, all the while mumbling about Draco and his “damn necktie.”
Entering the master suite, Ginny observed her husband as he scrambled around, obviously looking for the misplaced tie. Spotting it immediately, she held back a laugh at his lack of observational skills. Clearing her throat she stared at him from the doorway.
“Have you seen the damn thing?” was her husband’s only greeting.
Walking into the room, her emerald green dress flowing around her legs as she walked, she pulled him by the arm into the bathroom. Positioning him in front of the mirror she pointed to the untied tie that was draped around his neck. “That wouldn’t be the necktie you’re looking for, would it?”
Draco’s cheeks reddened slightly before clearing his throat. “Yes. Thank you.”
As Draco and Ginny descended the stairs together a few minutes later, Ginny couldn’t help but giggle at her husband’s oversight. Draco pouted at the way his wife laughed at him, murmuring that anyone could have made such a mistake.
“Well,” Ginny hissed, “perhaps if you hadn’t been so insistent on going another round before the guests arrived, you wouldn’t have misplaced the necktie.” The smirk on her face was undeniably one of Malfoy quality.
“Oh, shut up,” he sneered, “and don’t mention this to anyone.”
She let out another laugh. “Oh, I have every intention of using this as a way to forever mock you in private.”
Draco only rolled his eyes before stepping into the foyer and moving to greet her family. “Arthur! I haven’t seen you around the Ministry lately.” He smiled as he shook hands with the Weasley patriarch.
“I’ve kept to my office the past several weeks. The work seems to be piling up lately. I really need to look into getting an assistant.” Arthur smiled at his son-in-law. He’d be the first to admit how surprised he had been when, over the course of several run-in’s at the Ministry; he began to form a relationship with the young Malfoy.
“I know a few blokes that would be perfect for that job, if you really are serious in hiring an assistant. You could probably even make it an internship position. Hire someone directly out of Hogwarts. Making it an intern position would cut the cost dramatically, which would make the idea easier to present to the Minister.”
Smiling at the thought, Arthur nodded. “Why, I never would of thought of that. I’ll have to look into it. Though, I might need some assistance in convincing Scrimgeour, if you’re willing.”
“Of course.” Draco smiled before turning to Molly Weasley. “Molly,” he moved to give her a hug. “Ginny tells me that you brought some of your famous desserts over. I can’t wait to try them. Thank you so much.”
“Oh, you’re welcome Dear,” she smiled at the young man that had managed to capture her daughter’s heart. “You know you’re welcome for dinner at the Burrow anytime.”
Draco frowned apologetically. “I really am sorry that we haven’t been over very much the past several months.”
Molly waved her hand in attempt to shush him. “Don’t apologize. You’re newlyweds; I remember what that’s like. However, now that you two seem to be quite settled into the swing of things, I’ll have to insist that you two join us for Sunday dinners at the Burrow.”
Draco laughed at the woman whose mothering had grown on him. His own mother had never been so openly affectionate; it had taken Draco quite some time to adjust to Molly Weasley’s mothering ways. “You’ll be seeing more of us; you have my word, Molly.”
Amidst the conversing, Wizarding England’s Golden Trio stood back, mouths slightly agape. They’d been gone not even three years – how had so much changed? How was it that Arthur and Molly Weasley stood in front of Draco Malfoy and not a single word of loathing was spoken?
“This must be the work of the Imperius Curse,” muttered Harry.
“There’s no bloody way that my parents are allowing this humiliation of a marriage under their own will,” agreed Ron as he managed to prevent from gawking at the way his sister smiled at the blond-haired ferret.
“No one is under the Imperius Curse,” Hermione spoke, her irritation not hidden. “I don’t like it anymore than the two of you, but if Ginny’s happy, then just let her be. I haven’t seen her smile this much since before the war.”
“She’s obviously covering for the way he abuses her. She doesn’t want her parents to worry,” Harry justified.
Hermione rolled her eyes as she watched Ginny excuse herself from Draco, her parents, Fred and George – who had both just entered the group conversation over who would be winning the Quidditch World Cup this next year.
Hermione, with her hand still perched comfortably in the crook of Ron’s arm, watched in a mix of wonder and an emotion she couldn’t quite place as Ginny spoke to the staff, obviously adamant over the placement of a horrid-looking statue.
“What does shock me,” Hermione spoke softly, “is how well she seems to fit with the Malfoy fortune.”
“It’s merely an act, isn’t that obvious?” Ron convinced. Whether he was trying to convince his friends or himself was unsure.
“Then talk to Narcissa about it and have her talk to me,” the trio could hear her say before Ginny turned on her heel to take her place beside her husband.
Ginny smiled as she tucked her hand in Draco’s arm, listening to the pleasant conversation that seemed to taking place. If someone had told her a year ago that she’d be standing here, happily, in the company of her husband, Draco Malfoy, while enjoying an amusing conversation between him, two of her brothers and her parents, she would have surely told this person to lay off the Firewhisky.
“Ginny,” Narcissa spoke as she walked over to where her daughter-in-law stood, “I don’t wish to interrupt, however, I just wanted to thank you for moving that horrid Malfoy heirloom Lucius insists on having displayed.”
“Oh.” Ginny smiled at her mother-in-law. “You’re quite welcome.”
“I’ve been saying for years that he should move it to the vault, but he doesn’t seem to think it’s all that hideous. He only insists that it’s been in the family for generations, and that it will stay that way. I’m still trying to figure out a way I can accidentally knock it over, and let it shatter into pieces.”
“Narcissa, I don’t believe you’ve met my brothers Fred and George,” Ginny smiled as she introduced the three. “They’re in the joke shop and prank industry. I’m sure they could come up with a perfectly explainable ‘accident’ to take care of that dreadful statue.”
Narcissa raised an eyebrow appreciatively as she shook hands with the two lanky redheads. “I’d love to hear any ideas you may have.”
“Who would have thought that the day would come when my mother would plot with Wizarding England’s greatest pranksters?” Draco smirked as he watched Fred and George Weasley escort his mother toward the hideous statue, tossing out possible “accidentally on purpose” scenarios as they walked.
“That’s not a bet I would have made, certainly.” Arthur smiled in amusement.
“So, I can’t help but notice that there seem to be a few Weasleys missing,” Draco remarked casually.
“Oh I’m sorry, I should have mentioned before, Charlie and Bill couldn’t make it this evening. They both wanted to come, but Charlie was called back to Romania for work and Bill is at home with Fleur. The poor dear can hardly get out of bed right now. The doctor is trying to convince her to stay on bed-rest until the baby comes.” The excitement of her soon-arriving grandchild could hardly be hidden on Molly’s face.
“Give them my best wishes. And tell Fleur my family knows of a wonderful Medi-Witch if she does decide to heed the doctor’s orders.”
“I’ll pass that along.” Molly smiled in appreciation.
“I can’t believe I’m going to an aunt.” Ginny grinned in excitement.
Draco took a moment to look at his wife, noticing for the first time that something was missing from Ginny’s ensemble. “Tilly,” he called, summoning the house elf. A small pop was heard next to the Weasley and Malfoy clan as the small house-elf looked up at him. “I need you to fetch a dark velvet box from my desk drawer.”
With a nod of her head Tilly disappeared, leaving Ginny and her parents to stare at him in confusion. He hadn’t even opened his mouth to explain before Tilly returned, a square, dark green, velvet box in hand. Draco took the box and thanked the house elf before excusing himself and his wife for a moment.
Guiding her a few yards away from where her family stood, he said, “When I came into the bathroom earlier I hadn’t intended to play. In fact, I came to give you something.” Holding the box at an angle Ginny would be able to see, he opened the top to reveal a gorgeous diamond necklace.
Gasping in recognition, Ginny took in the sparkling strand of diamonds that held three other strands draping below it. Each single drape was connected with a small diamond rose. It was the necklace she had pointed out when they were in Virginia. Looking from the necklace, to her husband she opened and closed her mouth a few times before actually attempting to form words. “But that’s… We saw that in…” she stuttered, not quite knowing what to say.
Draco beamed at his awe-struck wife. “I bought it in Virginia when I picked up Mother’s bracelet. I had them Floo the necklace to my office. It was meant to be a Christmas gift, but when I showed it to Mother, she mentioned it would go perfectly with the gown you had picked out for this evening.” Carefully, he took the necklace out of its box. “Consider it an early gift.” Walking to stand behind her, he attached it securely to her neck.
Once sure that he had finished, she turned around and threw her arms around him. Not caring that they had an audience, she pulled him to her and kissed him sweetly on the lips. “Thank you,” she whispered against his lips.
“You’re welcome,” he smiled before kissing her once more. Taking a step back, he offered his arm. “Now, I believe our guests are due to arrive any minute. Shall we?”
Smiling widely, she nodded softly before accepting his arm. As they walked toward where the guests would be arriving, Ginny couldn’t help but wonder if she had somehow ended up with her soul mate after all.