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Chapter 5: Telling of Tales
“Hi, Molly! How are you doing?” Hermione said, hugging her mother-in-law.
“Wow, you're getting better at calling her Molly.” Ron commented, shaking his father's hand.
“Yes, well, it's become a bit harder for me to call her Mrs. Weasley, seeing as that's me now, too.”
“It's weird for me, as well. So many other women running around as Mrs. Weasley... I'm simply not used to it.”
“Ah, mum. It's going to be like that for the rest of our lives, so just figure it out.” Ron said, and Molly swatted his shoulder and pulled him into a hug.
“Oh, Ronnie, you have something on your cheek.” she said, reaching up to get it. Hermione glanced over.
“Oh, that's my lipstick. I've got it.” she said, doing it for Molly. The four suddenly paused as everyone stared at each other. It suddenly felt natural that Hermione take over that role for Molly, but Molly was still so very used to being Ron's mother. No one knew what to do, so Hermione turned to Mr. Weasley and said, in her loudest voice,
“Hi, Hermione.” he said. Molly, bright red and looking a little teary, turned around and went to the kitchen. Hermione frowned and bit her lip.
“What do I do?” she asked Arthur and Ron desperately. Ron, to no one's surprise, seemed at a loss for words. Mr. Weasley shook his head.
“Hermione, you just proved to Molly that her youngest son has completely replaced her and doesn't need her a single bit anymore. She probably feels like no one needs her... I mean, Ron, besides Charlie, who she holds no hope for, was the last to get married.”
“She has grandchildren.” Ron pointed out, winking at Hermione over his father's shoulder. She rolled her eyes and mouthed, not the time!
“It's not the same, Ron.”
“I'll go.” Hermione said, and she placed her coat on the little coat hanger and went into the kitchen. Molly had evidentially shooed everyone out, for she was alone. “Molly?”
“Oh!” Molly quickly stowed her handkerchief back in her pocket. “I was just starting the prepare the...”
“He still needs you.” Hermione said, cutting her off abruptly.
“Hmmm?” Molly asked in a light tone.
“You're his mother. He'll always need you. I haven't replaced you in one bit... I... I mean, yeah, it was my instinct to rub my lipstick off of his cheek and everything, but... I'm not his mum. He uses me for entirely different things, I promise.”
“Oh.” Molly said, this time a little more tired. “I know. But he was the last one. Ron was always the most awkward of my boys, the underdog, and therefor he was the one I felt needed the most protection. I prepared myself to Mother-Hen him all his- my- life. But now, there's someone else to do such a similar job for me, and it's taking my all not to tell you what foods he does and doesn't like, and how he likes his meat cooked, and the fact that he always forgets to hang up his towel, and that he has trouble unbuttoning those collard shirts that he wears to work, and-”
“You think I haven't noticed all that?” Hermione asked softly. “I know everything there possibly is to know about your son. I could write a five hundred paged book on him, full of completely accurate information. I could tell you anything, anything at all, about that man.”
Another sniffle. Then Molly gathered Hermione into her arms in a gesture that could only be described as motherly.
“I remember one day in the summer after your fourth year. You'd just come to Grimmuald Place, and Ron walked in on you writing a letter to Viktor Krum. He was up in arms about it, ranting and raving to me, fuming, for hours. And that was when I first realized he had feelings for you. I think my first thought was, 'Merlin help us. Ron has discovered his hormones'. Turns out I wasn't far off base in my prediction of how he'd be. But in the end, everything was worth it. Even all the fights I had to listen to, the names I heard him call you, and the idiotic way he acted over jealousy that I had to hear about from poor Ginny... because I see the way you act around each other, and it's nearly surreal. And, merlin, I don't underestimate you. It's one thing to love Ronald Weasley, but to keep loving Ronald Weasley... well, it's no small feat.”
Hermione shook her head.
“It really isn't. Thankfully, as we got older it became easier. And now, after the game show, it's become effortless.”
“I'm glad. You deserve it. Harry and Ginny, they've lived a fairy tale, I'd say they could use a little drama. But you and Ron just need peace and tranquility for the rest of your lives.”
“We still fight, mind you!” Hermione laughed. “Don't ever say we have peace, we really don't. He honestly refuses to pick his underwear off of the floor, and I need to constantly remind him that I'm not a house elf.”
“Who's a house elf?” Ron asked, coming into the kitchen. He walked up to Hermione, placed his chin on her head, and held her to his chest.
“Not me.” Hermione told him, leaning her head all the way back so that she could see him. Mrs. Weasley turned the sink on, and there was a general clattering of pots and pans.
“Hmmm. Okay, I agree. I wouldn't knock up my house elf.”
“What was that, Ronnie?”
The sink had turned off in the nick of time.
“I said, I wouldn't sock up my House Elf.” Ron said hurriedly.
“To, you know, give socks.” Hermione said supremely, while Ron stuttered.
“Where did that come from, Ron?” Molly asked, looking confused.
“I... er... gave Hermione socks this morning.”
“Why?” Molly inquired.
“Yes, Ron, why?” Hermione repeated, twisting around in his arms so that she could see him.
“Well, er, Hermione moves her legs around while she sleeps, and so her cold feet keep on touching my legs in the morning. I figure, if she's wearing socks, it'll just be much nicer.”
“Mmmmm. You're probably right.” Hermione said. Ron pressed his lips to the top if her head so he could mute his laugh.
“By the way.” he muttered under his breath, “You seem to be having an easier time calling my dad Arthur, too.”
“Yes, well, now I've come to associate the name Mr. Weasley with some wild and wonderful fantasies that I really wouldn't want your dad to have anything to do with.”
Ron froze and swallowed hard, just as Hermione jumped out of his arms to go greet Ginny, apparently oblivious to the effect she'd just had on him.
“Ginny! How are you?” she asked, still smirking a little.
“Pregnant.” Ginny moaned. “Uhg, wait till it happens to you, Hermione. You'll hate it.”
“Er- yeah. I'm sure I will.”
“I'm so close to being released from this hell.” Ginny sighed. “And for what? I'd bet it'll be another boy. I so wanted a girl.”
“Sorry.” Hermione said. “Ron and I are waiting to figure out the se...”
She cut herself off.
“What?” Ginny said sharply.
“Ron and I are waiting to figure out the section of the house we want to renovate.”
“Why are you renovating?” Ginny asked, frowning. “You love that house.”
“We... we're building a new section just for your kids!” Hermione said cheerfully. Ginny looked at her oddly, but went over to kiss her mother without commenting. Once everyone was at the Weasley household, they all sat down for dinner outside. The start of dinner was the time for news, when everyone had just started eating and there was a general, familiar clatter of forks against plates. As Hermione looked around the obscenely long table, she couldn't help feeling her heart fill up with adoration for the wonderful family she'd married into.
“So, news!” Mrs. Weasley said, once all the plates had been passed around. “Percy, Audrey, anything?”
“Uhg, they're all the way on the other side of the table. I'm going to visit the loo, I'll be back in time for our turn. If they get to you before I'm back, just tell them.”
“Alright.” Hermione said, and she turned back to her plate. But suddenly it seemed as if no one had news, and all too soon the attention was tuned to her.
“Do you have anything to tell us, Hermione?”
“Er- yes.” Hermione said. “I have big news and little news. Which do you want first?”
“Big.” Ginny announced.
“Okay!” A beam stretched across Hermione's face. “I've been promoted!”
The smile slid off of Harry's face, and he rolled his eyes and banged his head on the table. Hermione coughed. She knew this wasn't the big news, but at the moment it was on her mind so much, she found it impossible to think of it as small. Luckily, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley both stood up and went to hug her, saying how happy and excited they were for her. Unluckily, this was the moment Ron chose to come back from the bathroom.
“Oh, so she's told you?”
“Yes, the big news.” Harry said pointedly. Ron didn't get the hint.
“That's great! Of course, I wanted her to wait for me, but I told her she didn't have to, so-”
“Why would she wait for you? She's the one who it's happening to.” Ginny said, looking a little annoyed at her brother for being so selfish.
“That's not entirely true! I mean, she's the one throwing up and stuff, but I'm a big part of it.”
“Are you really that nervous?” Fleur asked, frowning.
“Um-” Hermione said. She desperately met Harry's eyes, but he shrugged at her and attempted to stop grinning like a fool.
“Do you think she should keep wearing heels, though?” Ron said, directing his question to the females of the table by meeting each of their eyes questioningly.
“Er- why wouldn't she? If anything, they're more important then ever at this stage.” Audrey said in an 'isn't it obvious?' tone.
“Really?” Ron responded, looking surprised. “Well, she'll be out of them once she goes on maternity leave, in any case.”
The comfortable chatter around the table stopped.
“Maternity leave?” Ginny asked slowly.
“Er- yeah.” Ron said. “What were... Hermione!”
“Yes?” Hermione asked lightly.
“Which. Bit. Of big news. Did you tell them?”
“Er-” cough “Not the part about me being pregnant.”
“I'm sorry, I'm sorry!”
“We told you, Harry and me told you... didn't we tell you? Didn't we tell her?”
“We told her.” Harry confirmed.
“You're pregnant?” Molly asked suddenly.
“Er, yeah.” Hermione said.
“Oh, RONNIE! HERMIONE!” Molly shouted, and then she pulled them into a hug with a thrilled look on her face.
“Mum, I'm glad you're pleased, but you're choking us.”
“Oh, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! But my ickle Ronnie...”
“Ickle?” Ron cried angrily, at the same time Ginny said,
“Hermione, you can't wear heels anymore! No way!”
And then general Weasley chaos erupted once more.
“Well, I think that went considerably well.” Ron said later, flicking on the light to their bedroom.
“Mmmm.” Hermione agreed as she put on her t-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms. She didn't think it had gone well at all, but she'd let Ron think what he wanted.
“Although, if that woman calls me ickle one more time, I swear I'll kill her.” Ron added, loosening the buttons on his collard oxford. Hermione walked over to do it for him. “I mean, I'm about to be a father, for the love of merlin! Isn't it obvious that I'm not an ickle anymore? You'd think that after it became apparent that I wasn't some virginal weirdo anymore she would have stopped, but-”
Hermione kissed him as she slid the shirt off of his arms.
“You need to stop talking about this.” she told him. “Your mum is your mum. She'll probably always call you ickle, but it's not the worst thing that could happen to you. What if your wife called you ickle? Or your sister, or your coworkers?”
“When did you get so wise?” Ron asked, looking down at her admiringly.
“Hmmmm.” Hermione traced a light pattern on his shoulder. “I can't exactly pinpoint it...” she started. Then she met his eyes and smiled mischievously. “But it must have been either before or after it became apparent that I wasn't some virginal weirdo anymore.”