Chapter 10 : Rushing Into Things
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He skidded to a halt at the back door. What with all the new security features in place these days, he couldn’t just walk in and out of his own house anymore. He had to answer a previously arranged security question and then ask one in return. It was perhaps a little extreme, but Dad was insistent upon it, especially given his new position at the Ministry. He could barely wait to tell his brilliant news to his family. Nobody even knew he had been planning to propose to Fleur, he hadn’t wanted to jinx it by letting anyone know, and he couldn’t wait to tell them all now. He knew they’d all be overjoyed for him. Fleur had already sent an owl home to France to let her parents know, and was eagerly awaiting the reply carrying their joyful blessing.
He knocked loudly on the door, and waiting impatiently for what felt like ages as his father’s footsteps echoed from the other side of the door.
“Who is it?” Dad’s disembodied voice called.
“Dad it’s me, it’s Bill, you know it is!”
“I know son, but what if it wasn’t? You know we have to do this; it looks good on my part! Now, come on and get it over with!”
Bill sighed. He knew it was hopeless really; Dad really wouldn’t let them off this new security measure for anything.
“What Quidditch position did you try out for in your third year at Hogwarts?” Dad asked, his tone suddenly business like and official.
“Keeper, but I didn’t make the team.” He wished he didn’t have to be reminded of this fact every time he wanted to go into his own home.
“Correct! Now ask me mine!”
“What did you buy me when I got made a Prefect?” Bill rambled off.
There was barely a pause on the other side of the door. “What the advert in the Daily Prophet promised to be a young owl, but what turned out to be a rather elderly bird which you then named Errol.”
“Of course, now can I come in?”
The door was opened and Bill was met with his father grinning at him. Bill paused uncertainly as he shrugged off the travelling cloak he wasn’t able to leave the house without, even though it was supposed to be July. The Burrow was strangely quiet. Having six younger siblings including Fred and George who were always up to something, parents who were none too quiet themselves, two owls and a garden full of gnomes meant that the Burrow was very rarely quiet. Bill definitely wasn’t used to it. It was almost as if the whole house was waiting with bated breath to hear what he had to say.
“Mum?” he called, draping his cloak over one arm as he padded towards the living room.
“In the sitting room, dear!” came his Mum’s immediate reply.
He poked his head round the sitting room door to find a rather cosy little scene being played out before his eyes. A fire crackled merrily in the grate to banish away the unseasonal chill that had suddenly spread over the country, casting a warm orange glow over the familiar room. Mum was sat on the sofa, that look of rare contentment on her face that only a quiet house could bring about, as she worked on some knitting. From the looks of it, she was already getting a start on her famous Christmas jumpers; he could definitely make out a distinctive yellow ‘F’ that meant the half finished jumper was destined to be Fred’s. With a small smile, he wondered whether this Christmas, Fleur would now be considered Weasley enough to receive a Christmas jumper of her own, perhaps with her own yellow ‘F.’
Mum looked up from adjusting her knitting needles to smile at him. “Hello, dear,” she said. “I’ve got your tea waiting for you in the kitchen. I’ll just go and sort it for you now.”
“Thanks, Mum,” he grinned appreciatively. Proposing to people was hungry work after all. “Where is everybody? It’s awfully quiet!”
“Well, Ron and Ginny are upstairs, Fred and George are in their little flat, though they’ll be home shortly, they need help with their laundry, bless them, and-”
Bill made to cut his Mum off before she got any further in her automatic listing of all her children. Any conversation that included Percy in it tended to end in tears, though it had been a year since that dreadful row, and Bill didn’t want any tears tonight. Unless they were happy tears, of course, tears of joy would be fine.
Dad got there first. Bill had to admire his father’s quick thinking and unusual tactfulness wherever Mum was concerned. “Had a good night, son?” he asked casually, sitting down in his armchair and adjusting the slightly crumpled pages of his newspaper.
Bill couldn’t stop the huge grin from spreading across his face and lifting the corners of his mouth skywards. “Brilliant actually, better than brilliant. I’ve got something really exciting to tell you!”
That certainly got their attention. At once, the newspaper and the knitting were thrown down, with his Mum and Dad’s full attention.
“Is everything alright, dear?” Mum asked, genuine worry and concern etched across her loving face.
“Everything’s wonderful, Mum, it really is because-”
His words were cut short by a rather unnecessarily loud bang on the back door reverberated throughout the house. Dad jumped up at once, adding a slightly apologetic look over his shoulder at Bill as he hurried to answer the door. Bill sighed, rather uncomfortably unaware that Mum was staring at him warily, obviously slightly afraid to hear his ‘brilliant news.’ Unfortunately for them both, they had a bit of a wait in store, as Dad had insisted that Fred and George both answer separate security questions, as well as one together. He shuffled his feet awkwardly for those long uncomfortable minutes before Fred and George burst into the room, each clutching a large laundry basket containing more dirty clothes than Bill was sure anyone could own.
“Hi, Mum,” Fred said breathlessly, unceremoniously dumping his laundry basket down on the floor as he leaned forward to allow her to peck his cheek. “Hope you’re excited for all this laundry!”
She raised her eyebrows, glancing with some apprehension towards the overflowing laundry baskets as George hugged her too.
“Now remember this arrangement is only temporary,” she reminded them, “the two of you promised you’d be doing all your own washing if we let you move into the flat.”
“Of course!” George exclaimed with mock disgust. “Just to help us get set up, Mother dear!”
She laughed, swatting him away good naturedly. “If you say so, dear,” she sighed. “Now, sit down and be quiet, the pair of you, your brother’s got some news.”
At once, the entire attention of the room was focused on Bill again, with Fred and George cocking their heads to the side to get a better look at the eldest brother.
He cleared his throat. “Well, as you all know, I’ve being seen Fleur for a while-”
“Something I still can’t get my head around,” Fred muttered, but he fell silent at both Bill and his mother’s glares.
“Anyway, we’ve been seeing each other for a year now, and everything’s gone so well and I really love her so-”
Bill was interrupted again, this time by Ginny who had just come rushing down the stairs, his face all lit up as she burst into the now rapidly filling living room.
“Hello you three!” she greeted her brothers enthusiastically. “I thought I heard something!”
“Quiet, you!” George told her, sounding remarkably like Professor McGonagall in that moment, though he was joking. “Bill’s got some exciting news. We think he’s pregnant.”
“Sorry, Mum, just saying what we’re all thinking!”
Ginny giggled as she made to leave the room again, but Bill stopped her. “No, Gin, you may as well stay. You might as well call Ron down as well.”
She looked rather confused, but intrigued nonetheless as she bellowed up the stairs in such a loud voice that it carried with ease all the way up to Ron’s attic bedroom. “Oi, Ron, get down here! Bill wants to tell us something!”
It took another uncomfortable moment or two for him to get downstairs, but then Ron was there amongst them. The Weasleys simply didn’t have secrets from each other, and Bill just couldn’t wait for them all to know his latest, and indeed, his greatest secret.
“Well, now that we’re all here, I suppose I might as well get straight to it. I just proposed to Fleur, and she said yes! We’re going to get married, Fleur and I, we’re getting married!”
Silence, complete and utter silence. Bill gazed uncertainly at each of them; all assembled family members so still and silent as though he’d just performed a full body-bind hex on them all.
“Erm...did you hear me?” he didn’t know what else to say, but his simple sentence seemed to break the spell.
Fred and George's jaws had dropped; they looked from each other, to Bill, and back again as though they couldn’t quite believe what he had just told them. Ron looked in a similar state of shock; his eyes were wide and glassy as he stared at Bill with a mixture of what looked like admiration and disbelief. What it his imagination, or did Ginny look slightly...disgusted? Dad just looked vaguely surprised, even a little pleased, but Mum, well, Mum had just gone pale and her eyebrows had been raised so high they were practically hidden in her hairline.
“No way,” Fred and George whispered in unison.
Bill tried to put on a jaunty facade of bravado, though he was slightly unnerved by Mum’s reaction. “Is that really so hard to believe that she would want to marry me?”
“Yes!” they chorused, the hint of smiles tugging at their mouths again.
“Have you seen her?” Fred continued. “She’s a total-”
“Cow!” Ginny interjected. “She’s a snobby, stuck-up, self-obsessed cow, Bill!”
“But she’s not, Ginny,” he told her gently. “She’s not like that at all. I know her, and I love her and I want to spend the rest of my life with her. You just need to get to know her, that’s all.”
“Maybe I don’t want to get to know her!” she retorted, her fiery red hair glinting in the firelight as she shook it off her face. “You should have seen her at Hogwarts, Bill, prancing round like she owned the place, even worse than Draco bloody Malfoy, and looking down on the rest of us like we were slugs or something! You can’t possibly marry her, and there’s no way you’re bringing her here, Bill, no way!”
“Ginny, I’m sorry if you don’t like it, I really am, but you’re just going to have to lump it, I’m afraid. I’m going to marry her, and you can all get to know her a bit better very soon, because I’m going to invite to stay here for a few weeks.”
Ron finally seemed to have regained the power of speech. “F-F-Fleur D-Delacour, c-coming h-here?” he stammered.
Bill laughed, remembering how Ron had once asked Fleur to a ball at Hogwarts, and was still obviously enamoured with her. Ginny threw him a contemptuous glare.
“No she is not!” she snapped. “Tell him, Mum!”
That finally seemed to snap Mum out of her reverie. “I, I don’t suppose we have any choice in the matter, Ginny dear.”
“Mum!” Ginny began, but she faltered off under her father’s unusually stern gaze from the other side of the room.
“Aren’t you happy, Mum?” Bill asked her worriedly.
She seemed unable to answer that question, but spoke regardless. “Are you sure about this, Bill? I can’t help thinking you’re rather rushing into things, you haven’t been seeing this girl for very long-”
“Over a year, Mum!” he reminded her sharply, a little more sharply than he intended; he could see Fred, George and Ginny’s eyes all glaring at him.
“I still don’t think you should be rushing into something as big as this!” she snapped. “You’re young, you’ve still got your whole life ahead of you! All the business with You Know Who has got everyone frightened, thinking they’ll be dead in the morning, and rushing into all sorts of things they wouldn’t normally do!”
Bill fought to keep his voice calm, though he could feel heat rising into his face. “Mum,” he addressed her in what he hoped was a calm and measured tone. “I love Fleur, and she loves me, and we want to spend the rest of our lives together. You said it yourself, Mum, maybe the current situation is making me rethink my life, and I’ve decided I want to spend the rest of my life with Fleur. I know you don’t want to think about it, but the truth is, we might not all make it through this war-”
“Too right we don’t want to think about that,” Fred murmured.
“But what if something does happen to me, Mum? Then, I need to make the most of my life right now, don’t I?”
For a moment, nobody spoke. Ginny continued to glare at him reproachfully, Fred and George had both sat back as though surveying the scene with mild interest, and Ron seemed to be deep in thought about something. Most surprisingly of all however was that Dad had jumped up from the seat he had so recently regained and was making his way towards Bill.
“I couldn’t have put it better myself!” he exclaimed jovially, clapping a hand on Bill’s shoulder. “Molly,” he appealed to his wife, “You remember what it was like, don’t you? We’d been going out for less than a year when I proposed to you after all!”
Mum became rather noticeably flustered. “Yes, well, yes, but that was different, completely different!”
“Not really,” he said gently, “they’re young, they’re obviously in love, who are we to stop them?”
Bill stared at him, admiration and gratitude for his father swelling tenfold inside him. Arthur smiled at him, understanding so evident in his face that Bill couldn’t help but feel immensely relieved that at least one member of his family was happy for him.
“I, I suppose you’re right,” Mum said in a voice so tiny it was barely audible.
Bill’s face broke into a full grin, and it was with just a little resignation that his mother folded his arms around him. He could feel a slight dampness seeping into his shoulder, and perhaps his Mother wasn’t quite shedding tears of joy just yet, but they soon would be. He couldn’t wait for his family to meet Fleur. He was completely, without a doubt, positive that all their misgivings would be entirely erased when they got to know her.
They’d soon come to view her as another member of the Weasley family, and he couldn’t wait for that day.
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