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Chapter 5: White Christmas
The house was too quiet.
Molly Weasley wasn't used to quiet. With seven children around, it hadn't been quiet for this long in about thirty years. But no one was here, and she didn't quite know what to do with herself.
The tree was up. Trimming it alone had been strange. No one tugged on her dress, or tried to climb the tree, or told her where to put each ornament as she pulled them out of their tissue paper. No one had demanded cookies, or candy, or pie, or any other kind of food. No one had pulled her away, needing her attention or tattling on a brother, causing it to take all day to get the tree finished. There was no one around at all. They all had their own lives now, their own trees to trim.
She'd put the ornaments on the tree by hand. She had done it that way since the first year she'd been married, the first Christmas she'd spent away from her family. Her mother had always done Christmas décor with her wand, but there was something very satisfying about doing it without magic. She'd almost forgotten it needn't take all day, when no one was distracting her every five minutes.
She missed the distractions.
She could hear the crack of someone Apparating into the front yard, and glanced at the clock to see Arthur's hand spinning toward “home.”
She went to the door to greet her husband. His hair was greyer now, and there was less of it, and his face had more lines around the eyes and mouth from all the smiles and laughs of their years together, but he was still the same boy she'd fallen in love with at Hogwarts.
Arthur kissed her when he came in. “Isn't it lovely to have the house all to ourselves again?” he said, tossing his coat onto the couch. Operating the coat-tree by the door was something that had escaped him all these years, much like the correct function of the laundry hampers. She despaired of ever teaching him to turn his socks right-side out before he put them in the wash.
Molly hung his coat for him as he took in the tree.
“It looks beautiful,” he said, putting an arm around her shoulders when she came to stand next to him.
“It hardly took me any time at all,” she said, and he seemed to notice the dejected tone in her voice.
He looked at her in surprise, and adjusted his glasses on his nose. “I thought you were pleased to have all the children out from underfoot? You said it was very peaceful, and you were going to take up quilting.”
“That was the first week,” she admitted. “Now I'm bored.”
Arthur laughed. “You're bored?”
“I want grandchildren,” she said determinedly. “This house is too quiet. It needs children again.”
“I'm afraid you'll have to speak to Bill and Fleur about that,” Arthur said, his eyes twinkling. “That, my dear, is something over which I have absolutely no control.”
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
The snow was falling softly over the Burrow as Molly bustled around the kitchen, checking on dishes and charming a knife to chopping some vegetables. Arthur was at the stove, presiding over a large turkey that had been cooking since that morning. He'd been very little help otherwise, though the poor man had tried. After she'd fixed the damage he'd done to the potatoes to the best of her ability, she'd set him to watching the turkey.
The children would all be coming home for Christmas Day, she'd made sure each of them promised. Bill had spent the last two Christmases at Shell Cottage with his wife, but this year he'd promised her they would be at the Burrow for Christmas dinner. She was eager to have all the children at home again.
The wireless on the counter opposite the stove was playing a Celestina Warbeck retrospective, with a few new pieces by the ageing singer.
“Here's a Muggle favourite by Celestina, White Christmas...”
Arthur, for once when listening to Celestina, perked up. “Muggles?”
Molly rolled her eyes, waving her wand at the spoon resting in the pot of gravy so that it began slowly stirring. Arthur was leaning back against the counter now, not paying any attention to the turkey, humming along somewhat tunelessly to the song. He didn't know the tune, but that wasn't stopping him.
As she passed by to grab an iron trivet off the wall, he reached out and drew her into his arms, leading her into a slow dance in the middle of the kitchen.
“Arthur, the turkey-”
“Hang the turkey.”
He was holding her very close, and she put her head down against his shoulder and closed her eyes, smiling as they danced. “Oh, Arthur...”
No one interrupted them. Maybe there were positive aspects to having all the children grown and out of the house after all.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Molly smiled benevolently at her children, all gathered around the table and busily eating. There was a blessed din hovering over the kitchen, filling the room with the sound of family. She wished they would all come home to stay, though she was sure she'd want to throw them all right back out a week later. It really was a pleasure to only do laundry for two people again.
Harry was there, of course, staring at Ginny every chance he got while she joked around with George. Molly thought it wouldn't be long before she would be planning a wedding for her little girl. Ron and Hermione were sitting together, Hermione blushing prettily. Molly took a sip of her wine and tried to restrain her matchmaking tendencies. Let them work it out for themselves.
Maybe she'd just drop a tiny little hint to Ron later, though.
She was so happy to have them all back home, even though Charlie had clearly not cut his hair since she'd done so for him at Bill's wedding, and Bill was still wearing that horrible earring, that she decided to hint about something else too.
She turned to Bill, who was sitting next to her with Fleur on his other side. “I'm so glad you came by, dear.”
He smiled at her, his mouth full of turkey. She'd almost grown accustomed to his scarred face, though she couldn't read it as well as she used to.
“The house has been so quiet lately, with just me and your father rattling around in it.”
Fleur was eyeing her as if she suspected where this conversation was going and wasn't sure she should allow it.
“I miss having children underfoot,” Molly said wistfully, swirling her wine in the glass. “Your father and I aren't getting any younger, you know.”
Bill smiled at her blandly. Arthur was watching her from the other end of the table, and rolled his eyes at her.
Hang it, she thought. “If only there were some grandchildren to come visit me in my old age.”
Fleur suddenly flushed bright pink. Molly's eyebrows went up, and she turned questioningly to her eldest son.
“Well, Mum, I think we can help you out with that,” Bill said, taking a sip of his wine. His eyes were sparkling as he turned to his wife, putting an arm around her shoulders. “Fleur is due in May.”
The table was plunged into silence, and everyone turned to look at Fleur.
“Oh wow,” Ginny said softly.
Molly leaned forward to throw her arms around Bill, knocking over the gravy boat. Charlie managed to grab it before it bounced off the table, and suddenly the kitchen was filled with sound again as Bill's siblings rushed to congratulate him and Fleur.
Arthur was still watching her from the other end of the table. She caught his eye and smiled brightly at her husband, and he laughed, then got up to offer his own congratulations to Bill and Fleur. Molly clapped her hands together with joy, then turned to Charlie, who shook his head at her.
“Don't even ask, Mum, there'll be no grandchildren out of me in the near future.”
She laughed and leaned over to kiss his cheek.
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,