Chapter 34 : Wouldn't It Be Nice
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Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up
In the morning when the day is new
And after having spent the day together
Hold each other close the whole night through
Molly arrived at Arthur's house late Sunday morning to find him sitting on the front step, waiting for her. He shot to his feet when she appeared in the yard, and as Molly drew a deep breath to clear her lungs of the feeling of compression, Arthur rushed over to her.
He put an arm around her waist and drew her in for a kiss. After a few moments, Molly broke away and said, “I missed you.”
“I saw you last night,” he said with a mischievous grin.
“That only made me miss you more after you left.”
They'd been meeting every evening since the holiday started and spending a few highly enjoyable hours together in the orchard behind her house, though she'd left the wine at home since the first night they'd been out. She vaguely remembered refilling the bottle, and had a sneaking suspicion she'd said something slightly inappropriate to him, inspired by reading a Fifi LaFolle novel that evening and an hour of snogging, but Arthur hadn't mentioned anything, so maybe she'd dreamed that part.
Thus far neither set of parents had caught them during their nightly rendezvous, for which Molly was devoutly thankful. She did not even want to contemplate what her mother would say if she saw her only daughter out at three in the morning with a boy.
“Everyone's here,” the boy in question said then. “My mum is dying to meet you.”
“Oh.” Molly took in the house. It seemed very noisy, even from the front yard. “It sounds very... crowded,” she said nervously.
Arthur didn't look at all concerned. “Yes, a few of my uncles came over. Some cousins too. My mum wanted to have the family over for Easter.”
“I see. How many uncles are here?”
“Only five? How many do you have?”
“Oh, my dad has seven brothers.”
“Seven... brothers...” Molly echoed faintly. She'd never really had stage fright before, but thinking about being introduced to so many people, on display as Arthur's girlfriend, was making her heart race.
“Now don't be alarmed, Molly,” Arthur said, sounding alarmed himself. “They're not all here, after all. The Weasleys are a big family, that's all.”
“Does your dad have sisters as well?”
“No, Weasleys don't have girls,” Arthur said.
Molly was a bit taken aback at this, as she'd always wanted a daughter and had even had fleeting thoughts of having one with Arthur someday. To hear him so casually dismiss the possibility was a little disheartening.
He seemed to realise he may not have said that quite as sensitively as he ought to have done, because he hurriedly added, “Oh, but they have done, obviously, in the past, just not recently. I think my grandfather had an aunt on his father's side. Don't worry, we might have a girl.” Again, he seemed to realise what he'd said and kick himself mentally, because he winced and added, “Not that I'm, you know, planning anything, not right away anyway, obviously we're too young, although in a few years, when you're ready, of course, erm, we might, well...”
He trailed off and then heaved a sigh. “Oh, sod it. You know I want to marry you and have children someday.”
Molly stared at him, feeling a bit frozen inside. They'd both slipped and admitted they'd considered their future children, but it was a little startling to hear him say it so blatantly, and somehow standing right in front of his house, where his family were all waiting, made it even more unnerving to hear. She wasn't quite sure how to answer, so she leaned up on tiptoe and planted a kiss on his mouth.
He lifted her off her feet as he kissed her back, arms wrapped tightly around her waist, but they broke apart a moment later at the sound of a wolf whistle. Molly looked up and saw his brother Bilius, whom she'd met rather memorably over the Christmas holiday, leaning out a window on the upper floor, grinning at them.
“Morning, Arthur's girlfriend,” he called down to her.
Molly waved up at him as Arthur set her back down and glared at his brother. “Morning, Arthur's brother.”
Bilius let out a snort of laughter and ducked his head back inside.
“He likes you,” Arthur told her proudly.
“Have you ever brought a girlfriend home before?” Molly asked in a whisper as they started for the house.
Arthur paused with his hand on the doorknob. “No.”
A thrill of fear went through her. They were all going to think he was very serious about her. It was a lot of pressure, and she wondered if he'd felt this way before coming to her house at Christmas.
“I never invited a boyfriend to my house until you,” she said as they went in the house.
Arthur gave her hand a squeeze but didn't answer. He was leading her through the house, and already there seemed to be a lot of people. Everywhere she looked were red-haired men of all ages, from small boys who ran around holding toy wands and broomsticks to grown men who must have been Arthur's uncles and great-uncles. The women in the house all seemed to be Weasley wives: they did not have the distinctive ginger hair of the Weasley clan, though they all seemed to fit in quite comfortably. It brought home to her Arthur's comment that Weasleys didn't have daughters. Certainly no one here had them. It was a little unnerving to be so outnumbered by males. She was obviously the youngest female in the house.
They had just passed an open door when Arthur stopped short and turned around.
“I just spotted my dad,” he explained, leading her inside the room, where a small group of red-haired men were playing wizard chess.
Arthur made his way to the back corner, where a man who greatly resembled him sat, rubbing his chin thoughtfully, an unlit pipe clenched between his teeth.
“Dad, this is Molly Prewett, my girlfriend,” Arthur said proudly. “Molly, this is my dad, Septimus Weasley.”
Mr. Weasley and his opponent both looked up.
“You have a girlfriend, Arthur?” the other man said in a loud voice, grinning widely. Most of the people in the room turned to get a look at her.
“Well done, Arthur,” someone said, and an outbreak of chuckling went through the room.
“Good morning, Miss Prewett,” Mr. Weasley said, his eyes twinkling.
Molly smiled at him, feeling a little flustered. “It's lovely to meet you, Mr. Weasley.”
Arthur's father peered at him over the rims of his glasses. “Your mother's in the kitchen, Arthur. You'd better go there next or I'll never hear the end of it.”
“Yeah, all right.” Arthur gave her hand a tug. “Come on, Molly.”
She followed him out of the room gladly, feeling their eyes on her back as they left.
They arrived at the kitchen, which was bustling with activity as pots and pans stirred themselves and women rustled through cabinets. A slender woman with dark hair streaked with silver had her wand out and seemed to be directing much of the activity in the kitchen. She turned when she heard them come in, and smiled happily at Arthur.
“There's my baby boy,” she called happily, and Arthur winced. Molly tried not to smile as Arthur's mother gave his cheek a little pat.
“This is Molly Prewett, Mum,” he said, giving Molly's hand another little squeeze. “Molly, this is my mother, Cedrella Weasley.”
Molly looked at his mother's kind face and instantly felt at home.
“Hello my dear,” Mrs. Weasley said warmly. “It's lovely to meet you.”
Bilius poked his head into the kitchen. “Arthur! Nestor's here.”
Arthur perked up, and said to Molly, “Will you be all right? I'll be right back, it's my cousin, he's been in Egypt for the past year-”
She smiled at him. “I'm fine, Arthur, go ahead.”
“I'll take care of her, dear,” his mother added.
Arthur took off with his brother and Molly turned back to Mrs. Weasley, who had pointed her wand at the stove, causing a pot that had been stirring itself to leap off the fire.
“Do you need any help?” Molly asked.
She spent the next half hour chatting with Arthur's mother and helping in the kitchen, directing the dishes to wash themselves. The conversation turned quickly to family, and Molly remembered what Arthur had mentioned about his mother's family.
“Arthur said you're from the Black family?”
Mrs. Weasley pulled a tray of rolls out of the oven and dusted her hands off. “Yes, that's right. I was a Black before I married Arthur's father.”
“My aunt Lucretia was a Black before she married my uncle Ignatius,” Molly said.
“Lucretia... She's Arcturus's daughter... So my first cousin once removed. We're a bit related then, I suppose,” Mrs. Weasley said with a laugh.
“Only by marriage.” Molly smiled. “Do you speak to Lucretia, or her father, very often?”
Mrs. Weasley's face seemed to freeze. “I don't speak to anyone in my family,” she said quietly. “They disowned me when I married Septimus.”
Molly clapped a hand to her mouth in horror, then said in a rush, “I'm so sorry, I didn't know – Arthur never said -”
Mrs. Weasley smiled at her kindly. “Of course you weren't to know. Don't think on it at all, dear. Come outside and meet the family. There are rather a lot of them,” she added. “They quite make up for the Blacks in sheer numbers, and they're a much more pleasant lot.”
Molly giggled and allowed herself to be steered into the backyard, where it seemed most of the crowd of ginger-haired people who had been in the house were now milling about. They ranged in age from a rather elderly man that she thought might be Arthur's grandfather to a tiny baby in the arms of a tall and lanky man who resembled Cedrella Black Weasley quite strongly.
“Well, your hair's not quite a Weasley red, but you fit right in,” Mrs. Weasley said, touching a strand of Molly's dark red hair gently. “That's my son Constantine, Arthur's eldest brother,” she said, pointing to the man with the baby. “His wife just had a son. Little Basil, my first grandchild!”
“He's precious,” Molly said fondly. She had always loved babies.
“Several of my husband's brothers are here, I'm sure Arthur mentioned. Over there is Horatio, he's older than Septimus by several years” - she pointed to a portly man doing the Daily Prophet crossword - “and there's Octavian, he's the baby of the Weasley brothers, he's had that green splotch on his face for ages now, no one knows how it happened, and that's Pompey, jinxing the children – Pompey!” she finished in a bark. “Stop that at once!”
A tall and slender red-haired man waved cheerfully to her and shot another tickling jinx at one of his nephews. The boys running circles around him seemed to be greatly enjoying the game.
“I don't see Sidonius anywhere, he must be inside... And that's Quintus, of course, over with Septimus. They've always been very close.” Mrs. Weasley smiled fondly at her husband and brother-in-law, who were just settling themselves into lawn chairs at the back of the yard, each holding a bottle of butterbeer. “Gaius and Vespasian weren't able to come. Gaius hasn't been feeling well lately, his rheumatism is acting up. He's the eldest brother. No one knows where Vespasian is. Septimus says he's probably in prison somewhere, but I'm sure he's too old for any of that nonsense any more.”
Molly's eyes were round as she looked at Mrs. Weasley. She was sure she was never going to remember all the names of Arthur's uncles - not even the one who was probably in prison. Arthur appeared at her side then and took her hand.
“Sorry to leave you alone, Molly. Did my mum introduce you to everyone?”
“I was just pointing a few of your uncles out to her,” Mrs. Weasley said, giving her youngest son a fond smile. “You ought to make some introductions. I'm going to start setting out the food.”
“Oh, let me help you,” Molly said quickly.
“Oh, no, you go ahead and meet everyone, I've got plenty of help already. Thank you, my dear.” Mrs. Weasley headed back into the house, and Molly saw a dark-haired woman give Arthur's brother Constantine a kiss and hurry after her.
Arthur followed her gaze. “That's my sister-in-law, Glynis. She's very nice, you'll like her.”
He led her around the backyard and started introducing her to his uncles and cousins, and after a while she realised she was never going to keep them all straight. As she'd feared, she had already forgotten the names of the uncles that Mrs. Weasley had pointed out, except Pompey, who was still jinxing the children.
A few of Arthur's relatives teased her as he introduced her to them, though Arthur didn't seem to think anything of it, probably because they teased him as well. They all teased each other a lot, apparently. One of his cousins asked her if she'd dyed her hair to blend in with the Weasleys, and another told her that Arthur was secretly a Muggle superhero, whatever that was. Arthur seemed to find it quite amusing. Molly kept a grip on Arthur's arm so he wouldn't leave her again. She felt a little out of place amongst the huge Weasley clan, and was actually quite cheered when a familiar face interrupted their chat with one of Arthur's uncles, who promptly wandered off to another conversation.
“How do you like the family so far?” Bilius asked cheerfully.
“Everyone's quite nice,” she said. “There's just so many of them, I don't know how I'll keep them all straight.”
“You'll get used to us eventually,” Bilius said. “Not everyone can be as fantastically memorable and devastatingly handsome as I am.”
Arthur rolled his eyes at his brother. She found it rather interesting how everyone seemed to take it for granted that she would need to become thoroughly acquainted with their family, and that she'd be around a lot to do so. She wondered what Arthur had told them about her.
She finally managed to get a moment alone with Arthur after Bilius had wandered off again.
“Why didn't you tell me your mother had been disowned by her family?” Molly whispered to him with a frown.
“Oh.” Arthur looked surprised. “I didn't think about it. I'm sorry.”
Molly sighed and shook her head at him, but one of his cousins came over then before she could pursue the subject.
When the food was served, they all sat around a couple of rickety tables that had been magically extended to seat everyone, and Molly sat between Arthur and his cousin Nestor, who was so freckly from his time in the sun in Egypt that he almost appeared tan. Loud chatting buzzed on the air, overlapping and interweaving as people interrupted each other or left one conversation to join another. Molly sat quietly, listening to Arthur discussing the next Quidditch World Cup with his uncle Quintus on one side, and Nestor talking loudly about Egyptian curses to a few of Arthur's seemingly innumerable cousins on her other side.
She offered to help with the clean-up as the men scattered from the table, but Mrs. Weasley, with Glynis and a few of the wives of Arthur's cousins on her heels, assured her that they had everything taken care of. Molly looked around then and realized Arthur had disappeared while she was talking to his mother. She didn't quite know what to do with herself, and looked around at the little clusters of people talking animatedly.
She spotted Arthur's father sitting in a wooden chair in one corner of the lawn, with little baby Basil tucked in the crook of his arm. He was jiggling the baby gently, looking as if he wasn't even aware of what he was doing. Molly made her way over to him and Mr. Weasley smiled up at her, looking pleased.
“Ah, Miss Prewett. Would you mind holding my grandson for a moment? My wife will kill me if I so much as think about lighting my pipe while I'm holding the baby, and I'm dying for a smoke.”
“Oh. Of course.” Molly reached out for the baby and gathered him close. She sat down on the grass nearby, so she had a bit of distance between the baby and the pipe, but could still comfortably chat with Arthur's father.
He was patting his pockets with the pipe clenched in his teeth, and finally found his wand. He lit the pipe and sat back with a happy murmur as the pipe began to puff little clouds of purple smoke.
Molly looked down at the baby, who was wide awake and trying to grab her hair. She put a finger up to tickle his little chin, and he immediately grabbed it with one tiny fist, looking as if he was focusing on it with difficulty.
“So,” said Mr. Weasley, and she looked up at him. “How do you like my little grandson there?”
“He's adorable,” Molly said, glancing back down at the baby, who was now trying to get her finger into his mouth. She helped him out a bit and as little Basil sucked enthusiastically on her fingertip, he made a little gurgle of pleasure that reminded her of Mr. Weasley with his pipe.
“Isn't he?” Mr. Weasley agreed, puffing on his pipe. The smoke was curling into a tiny, perfectly-formed three-masted ship with full sails. A second ship formed and shot a minuscule cannonball at the first. “And what do you think of my son?”
Molly looked over at where Arthur was now standing with some of his cousins, laughing as they drank butterbeer, and he seemed to feel her eyes on him and glanced over at her. She thought there was heat in his gaze as he watched her holding his nephew, and they smiled at each other. One of his cousins said something then, and he looked back at the group with another laugh. Molly turned back to Mr. Weasley, who was giving her a knowing little smile.
“I love him very much,” she said quietly.
Mr. Weasley puffed out another little purple ship, and smiled kindly at her. “You're going to make a good Weasley, Miss Prewett.”
Molly blushed and looked down at the baby, who was drifting off to sleep with her finger in his mouth. Suddenly the Weasley clan felt much more like home.
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