Mr. and Mrs. Weasley simply sat there, flabbergasted.
Bill covered his hand over his mouth, torn between dumbstruck shock and uproarious laughter, while Fleur’s pale blond eyebrows sat high on her forehead, eyes wide as Quaffles. Charlie’s cup overflowed, having not yet put down the pitcher of pumpkin juice. A piece of chicken fell out of Fred’s open mouth and a broccoli head out of George’s.
Ginny and Hermione blinked and then blinked at each other. Ron chocked on a mouthful of stew; Harry pounded on his back while Luna patted his cheek with a pleasant smile. She raised her wand to spray the table with confetti. Percy continued to stand in front of the kitchen, one arm around Audrey’s shoulder and the other proudly on his hip, chest puffed and cheeks pink.
“W-Were you—were you drunk?” spluttered Mrs. Weasley, sending Charlie and the twins into a round of laughter.
“Mum!” cried Ginny, seeing the huge smile on Percy’s face freeze in place. She scrambled out of her chair and threw herself into Percy’s arms. “Congratulations! When did it happen?”
“I-It was really spur-of-the-moment,” answered Percy, his good mood returning as he wrapped an arm around Ginny’s back and kissed the top of her head. “Audrey and I just decided to do it in the middle of dinner at the Three Broomsticks.”
“Because Rosmerta’s cauliflowers remind everyone of marriage,” deadpanned Bill, a smirk threatening the straight line of his mouth.
“I suppose they’re reminiscent of wedding bouquets,” said George.
Fred nodded in agreement. “And hemorrhoids.”
Ron looked like he was dying, and Hermione looked like she was about to throw her cutlery at the twins. Bill was on the verge of tears.
Mr. Weasley snapped out of his stupor, stumbled away from the table, nearly knocked his chair to the floor, and tugged Audrey into a hug. “A brilliant decision if I may say so!”
Mrs. Weasley, somewhat regaining her wits, threw the soup ladle over her shoulder and promptly wrenched both her son and his new wife into a bone-cracking hug. “Welcome to the family!” she blubbered, already well on the way to a good, happy cry. This prompted the rest of the table to rise and greet Percy and Audrey.
“This is great!”
“Happy for you, mate!”
“Let’s break out the cauliflower florets!”
Hermione gave her congratulations and hugged the newlyweds tightly. The advent of the Second Wizarding War had repaired the relationship between Percy and his family. He was still a fairly rigid kind of bloke, but the presence of Audrey in his life had made quite the difference. He’d even done George a favor and filled in at the joke shop once. From Fred’s evaluation, it was now law that Percy would be the very last resort should such a case ever arise again.
However, elopement was more than a bit out of character for him. It was bold and brash for most of the family, what the more Percy? While Hermione didn’t doubt their genuine feelings for each other—since Percy and Audrey truly were in love—she did worry about the sudden rise in such occurrences.
“You must have a reception here for all of us who couldn’t attend the ceremony,” said Mrs. Weasley, wiping her tears on her apron as the others began to take their seats again.
“Of course, Mum,” said Percy, pulling a chair out of for his wife and sitting himself down beside her. “We should have it soon, though. We’ve got a big project coming up—”
“There it is—proof he’s not an imposter!” cried Fred, pointing. Ginny, sitting beside hi, grabbed the arm he held out and snapped it back into his face.
“No, no,” said Percy, waving it off. “It’s understandable. This was out of the blue, but it would’ve happened regardless.” He and Audrey turned to each other, exchanging lovestruck smiles.
The twins pretended to gag, and Mrs. Weasley sighed happily.
“You’ll never guess who else we sat that Marriage Registry counter,” said Audrey, blushing as Mrs. Weasley came around with a new ladle to deliver spoonful after spoonful of stew into her bowl.
“Millicent Bulstrode and Viktor Krum?” asked George.
“Not quite,” said Percy, serving Audrey some of the green beans. He adjusted his glasses and said, “Cho Chang and Marcus Flint.”
Ron choked again.
“Wow, Harry, did you Confund the poor girl?” asked Fred, earning a scowl from Harry as he pounded on Ron’s back again.
“Oh, be nice,” said Hermione, not bothering to hide her small smile. “Marcus Flint got his teeth fixed two years ago. He’s not too bad-looking these days. You can’t hold that against Cho.”
“Granger, has your eye been straying from me?!” cried Fred, hand on his chest. “My heart’s breaking!”
Ginny punched him despite her chuckles. “I heard about that, actually. Apparently it was a new development. They move fast.”
“Stranger things have happened,” muttered Ron, grinning and winking at Luna, who pecked his cheek and settled her hand under the table in highly inappropriate areas that made Ron turned red and move her hand elsewhere.
“I think it’s adorable,” said Luna, unaffectedly studying the potato on the other end of her fork. “They’re actually quite good for each other. She’s so nice it rubs off, and he’s blunt enough to counteract her more indecisive tendencies. She admired some of his Quidditch plays back at school, and he always thought she was cute—albeit a bit confused.”
“Honestly,” muttered Ginny, rolling her eyes. “That girl was Confunded long before Harry even came into the picture—spent a good portion of her life confused about a lot of things, most of all her feelings.”
Hermione tsk-ed. “She was a teenager who lost her boyfriend. She had every right to be confused—not that I’m defending her stringing Harry along. I’m glad she sorted herself out now. I hope she and Flint are happy.”
“I think it is beautiful zat everyone is pairing off,” said Fleur. “Ze war ‘as put so much into perspective.”
“Lee Jordan’s just proposed to Angelina the other day,” said George. “He’s been in love with her since forever.”
“Finally took the initiative after five years,” chortled Fred.
Ginny passed Audrey the gravy boat. “Did you hear about Alicia Spinnet? She’s dumped Roger Davies.”
“For Justin Finch-Fletchely,” said George. “Completely out of the blue.”
Fred turned a way grin on his twin. “And who told you that?”
George blushed. “Katie Bell.”
“Alicia’s been with Davies for years!” cried Ron.
“How could they just break up out of the blue?” asked Hermione. “Did he cheat on her?”
George shook his head, glad he and his love life were out of the spotlight. “Nope.”
“Did…she cheat on him?”
“Of course not,” said Ginny.
“So then why did they break things off?” asked Mrs. Weasley.
Ginny shrugged. “Apparently, they just realized things weren’t going to work out.”
“That’s not the first time I’ve heard about this,” said Charlie. “Couple in my year did the same thing. Been together almost a decade just to break up, saying it wasn’t meant to be.”
Bill hummed. “There’s something to be said about the steady increase of couples these days—regardless if they’ve broken off long-standing relationships to enter into another.” He tapped the lip of his glass. “Everyone’s pairing off—either getting married or seriously committing to each other. Give it a couple more weeks, and I’m sure half the female population will be pregnant.”
Hermione looked up from her food in time to catch Percy’s meaningful glance. After a second, she turned back to her plate, but not before catching the raised eyebrow Fred was sending her.
“I suppose it’s everyone’s biological clocks ticking?” Ginny shrugged, stirring her stew.
The twins froze, dropping their utensils onto their plates dramatically.
“If you’re speaking from experience, Ginevra—”
“—do not continue.”
“Seconded,” added Charlie sternly.
Ron, turning a bit purple at the thought, glared at Harry pointedly. “Thirded.”
“Not a word,” said Harry, unfazed.
“You, not a word!” snapped Ron, glaring at Harry. Hermione could almost hear him mentally crying, You sister-defiler! It wouldn’t be the first time Ron said anything of the sort.
Ginny didn’t even look up from her food. “Get over yourselves. If you’re going to protest every time I even allude to having a uterus, you need to re-evaluate your lives and your romantic relationships. If you can’t handle a girl in your family, you can’t handle a woman in your life.”
The Weasley boys blinked, and Mrs. Weasley looked downright smug.
“Men reference their penises enough in casual conversation, I don’t see why girls shouldn’t do the same for their own reproductive organs,” added Luna pleasantly.
Fleur looked torn between agreeing and wanting to change the subject entirely. Ginny had no such qualms, nodding emphatically. Hermione could only smirk at the boys’ faces.
“After all, in this context, women are far more durable,” continued Luna. “Kicking a girl in the pubic area may hurt, but kicking a boy will effectively down him. Also commendable is the strength of a uterus, expanding and contacting during a pregnancy. Let’s not mention the woman herself for enduring her period every month.”
“Yes, please, let’s not mention that,” choked out Charlie.
Mr. Weasley, Bill, Percy, and Harry wisely kept their mouths shut, Percy and Mr. Weasley even nodding understanding at Luna’s statement. Ron, on the other hand, had buried his bright maroon face in his hands to weather the storm. Fred, George, and Charlie just looked aghast—accepting, but aghast.
With a wry smile, Fleur decided to save the boys before their heads further imploded. “Speaking of men who thing with zeir genitals, I recently saw Cormac McLaggen in Diagon Alley.”
“Oh, Cormac,” sighed George, picking up his fork and knife again.
Fred mirrored his twin with an equally heavy sigh. “How is that smashing fellow these days?”
“Still inciting people to smash his face in?” added George.
“Quite zee opposite actually,” said Fleur. “I saw ‘im with Susan Bones.”
Ron choked. “Has she been diagnosed yet?!”
“You mean ‘with’ as in, she was telling him off for being a raging twat?” asked Charlie, grimacing.
“Charlie!” cried Mrs. Weasley.
Fleur scowled. “No, she was ‘olding ‘is ‘and and wiping ice cream off ‘is face.”
Fred slammed his fist down on the table. “Someone’s Confunded Susan!”
“Well, good thing that witch has one of the meanest left hooks I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing,” said Hermione, glaring at Fred, who only winked at her, grinning.
“It’s got to be another case of whatever seems to be going around,” said Bill.
“Oh, lighten up,” said Charlie, whacking his brother on the shoulder with the back of his spoon. “This is just the typical case of the post-war love bug. Or lust bug, whichever.”
“Just because you’re going around like a hormonal teenager doesn’t mean the rest of the Wizarding World is on the same boat,” said Ginny.
Charlie smirked patronizingly. “Gin, they are certainly on that boat, and you can be sure they’re rocking it.”
Mrs. Weasley took her turn to smack him upside the head. “Don’t be crass.”
“Out of everything else that’s been brought up in this conversation, that’s what you dispute?!” cried Ron, who was ignored.
Charlie grimaced. “Oh, come on, Mum, we’re all adults now.”
Teddy’s squeal punctuated Charlie’s sentence, and the burly redhead couldn’t stop the grin as he craned his neck over people’s heads to look for the boy. Teddy, hair an electric blue, pulled himself up to his feet so he could peer over the railing of the playpen and grin at everyone.
“See, Mum? Teddy’s a big boy. He knows how to conduct himself around an adult conversation,” said Charlie.
“Fwed!” howled Teddy, his big dark eyes turning a warm brown as his hair flashed red. “Fwed!”
Fred shot out of his seat, jogging over to the other side of the room to fetch the two-year-old. “Feeling neglected, mate?”
Teddy’s response was to lift his arms up and say, “Up!”
“Manners, cub!” snapped Fred, hands on his hips. “What’s the magic word?”
Teddy scowled. “Piss!”
“Eh, close enough.” Fred scooped up Teddy and loped back to the table, setting the boy on his lap.
George and Ginny immediately pivoted in their seats to coo and play with the toddler while Molly tsk-ed, her hand on her cheek as she watched adoringly.
“You’re so good with children, dear, why can’t you settle down already?” she asked no one and everyone. Maybe Fred, maybe George, could be Charlie, probably Ginny, more than likely Percy and Audrey, but it hardly mattered. It was more of a general question to anyone at the table who didn’t already have a child. Which was everybody.
“Ugh, Mum, you can’t force that kind of thing,” said George dramatically, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “You can’t…what was it, Teddy? Do you think Aunt Hermione remembers?”
“Oh, no.” Hermione dropped her head into her hand, and Harry stifled his laughter.
George grinned. “You can’t…hurry love?”
“No,” agreed Ginny solemnly, eyes twinkling. “You’ll just have to wait.”
“She said love don’t come easy,” said Fred, nodding sagely. “It’s a game of give and take.”
Teddy shrieked and bounced in excitement.
“You can’t hurry love,” sang George, Fred and Ginny, in practiced harmony. Teddy bounced along with the song. “No, you’ll just have to wait. Just trust in the god time, no matter how long it takes. So how many heartaches must I stand before I find a love to let me live again? Right now, the only thing that keeps me hanging on when I feel my strength, ooh, it’s almost gone. I remember Mama said…”
All these broke off and turned to Hermione expectantly. She was, after all, the woman who first introduced the song to her Muggle radio and danced Teddy to it in the very living room next door. And who was she to deny her favorite little boy?
“You can’t hurry love, no, you’ll just have to wait. She said love don’t come easy. It’s a game of give and take,” sang Hermione, snapping her fingers as Fred clapped Teddy’s hands and joined in. “How long must I wait? How much more must I take before loneliness will cause my heart, heart to break? Now I can’t bear to live my life alone. I’ve grown impatient for a love to call my own. When I feel that I, I can’t go on, well, these precious words keep me hanging on. I remember Mama said…”
Mrs. Weasley smiled, reaching for her husband’s hand as the rest of the table joined in on Teddy’s favorite song, snapping and pantomiming the lyrics.
“No rush, Mum,” said Charlie softly, leaning over to peck his mother’s cheek. “Let us all practice a bit so we can get it right when it matters, eh?”
Mrs. Weasley only sighed happily, placated for the time being, watching her family sing that catchy Muggle song. The grandbabies would come soon; she was sure of it.