For OHGinnyfan. Happy birthday, hon. I'm sorry it's late.
The green-eyed man jumped at the sudden noise as it jolted him out of his perusal of the latest issue of Quidditch Weekly. Harry Potter frowned and put the magazine down on the table next to the bottle of Butterbeer he'd been drinking. "Ginny? Is that you, love?" he called.
"Who else would it be, Harry?" she snapped as she stalked into the bright kitchen where her fiancé was sitting.
Uh-oh, he thought. That's not a good sign. "You don't usually come in through the front door," he said. "What's wrong?"
"That woman makes me so...so...grrrr." Ginny sat down at the table only to hop back up moments later and begin pacing the length of the kitchen, her robes billowing out behind her.
"Er...are we talking about your mother?"
Harry was relatively certain that he already knew the answer to that question. Ever since he had asked Ginny to marry him.... Well, to say that there was some tension between Ginny and her mother was an understatement of epic proportions.
It wasn't that Molly was upset about the engagement. Quite the contrary, actually. She was ecstatic. Her baby girl—her only daughter—was getting married, and to Harry Potter no less. Molly had said on numerous occasions that she could search the world over and not find a better man for Ginny.
Molly loved weddings, especially when they involved one of her children. She had been excited at Bill's wedding—and at Charlie's. She was thrilled when Percy (who had apologised and been welcomed back into the fold) said his vows and rapturous when the twins had tied the knot with Angelina and Alicia in a double ceremony. She'd thrown the party to end all parties when Ron and Hermione had finally married. But none of these reactions came anywhere close to the one she had towards Ginny's upcoming nuptials.
Harry thought back to the day he proposed. He had asked Molly and Arthur for Ginny's hand in marriage, hands shaking and voice quavering. He'd been thinking about proposing for quite a while, but a conversation with Remus about his father's proposal to his mum, coupled with Dumbledore's intervention (where Harry was given the very ring his mother had worn, along with a not-so-subtle hint about what he should do with it) had pushed him to take the plunge right then and there.
He'd left a dumbfounded Remus in his sitting room when he Apparated to the Burrow that day. Unfortunately, his mind had been on the impending proposal and not on the situation he was getting himself into. And so he forgot a few important details, like the fact that it was the second Sunday of the month. And that second Sundays meant that all the Weasleys would be present. Every blasted one of them, spouses (and, in a few cases, children) included.
As the Weasleys' surrogate son, he had a standing invitation for second Sundays. Actually, it was more like a standing order: "Be there or else." He'd never really been brave enough to find out what the "or else" entailed, Gryffindor courage notwithstanding. But just because he knew about the family gathering—and was expected to be there—didn't necessarily mean that he thought about it. Looking back, he could admit that he'd been so wrapped up in trying to figure out what to say and how to say it (apparently much like his father had been) that he'd forgot about the rest of the family.
The Weasley brothers had forced him to run the gauntlet, starting with Bill and working his way down to Ron, before they allowed him to talk to Molly and Arthur. He still didn't know how they had known what he was planning to do. So he'd told Bill and Charlie about his new house and discussed his "prospects" with Percy. Fred and George had been, well, Fred and George. Harry still cringed in embarrassment whenever he heard certain songs, months after the fact. The memory of Fred and George and that wireless.… In the end, Ron's reaction had been the most surprising. He'd pulled Harry into a hug, pounded him on the back and told him it was "about bloody time."
Harry hadn't realized it at the time, but the beginning of the current conflict between his future wife and his future mother-in-law had started that day.
He waited until dinner was over and, much like his father had done, asked to speak to Arthur alone. Molly had already gone into the kitchen; the boys had given him sympathetic glances and pats on the shoulder, and Ron had somehow managed to convince Ginny that she needed to come with him.
"Now, Harry," Arthur began, settling back in his chair. "What can I do for you?"
Harry stood and cleared his throat nervously. "Mr. Weasley—"
"Harry, we've had this discussion before. You know you can call me Arthur. 'Mr. Weasley' sounds like my father."
"I know, Mr. Weas—Arthur. I'm sorry. I'm just a little nervous."
At this, Arthur leaned forward in his chair. "Nervous? Whatever for?"
"I would like to ask you—and Mrs. Weasley, of course—for permission to ask Ginny to marry me. I want you to know that I love her very much. She makes me a much better person than I could ever become without her, and I want to live the rest of my life with her. I want to have children with her, lots—"
"Harry," Arthur interrupted, holding up his hands to stop the path the conversation was taking. "I don't think I need any more information about you and Ginny having children."
"Right. Sorry," Harry answered, embarrassed.
"No need to be sorry. There are just some things a father doesn't want to think about. His daughter making babies is one of them."
Harry could feel Arthur looking at him. He'd never understood how a person could feel a look before, but it was like a weight settling over him, until he heard, "All right."
"All-All right?" Harry asked. "Is that 'All-right-you-can-ask-Ginny-to-marry-you,' or 'All-right-let-me-think-about-it'?"
Arthur stood and extended his hand; he seemed torn between amusement and delight at the situation. "That's 'All right, you have our permission to ask Ginny to marry you,' of course. Welcome to the family, Harry," he said and shook his hand before pulling him into a hug.
Molly came in from the kitchen while Arthur was making this declaration and squealed in excitement.
"Oh, Harry! Did I just hear...do you plan...Are you going marry Ginny?"
Harry gave her a shaky grin and answered, "Well, I will if she says yes."
"Oh, she'll say yes, Harry. Have no doubt about that," Arthur replied.
And then it had started. Molly had started planning the wedding before Harry had even had a chance to propose. She was picking colours and flowers and bridesmaids and...and...and.... Harry's head had been reeling before Arthur had been able to rescue him and send him out to the back garden with Ginny.
The proposal had gone well—Ginny had said yes. But by the time they made it back into the house (after a bit of celebratory snogging, of course) Molly had commandeered the lounge and made it into a wedding planning command centre. At the time, it seemed that she was determined to plan every detail of the wedding. Harry should have known trouble was brewing by the way the Weasley boys had hastily found plausible excuses and scattered, taking their wives and offspring away before the women could get pressed into service.
Ginny interrupted his musings, her voice tight. "Of course, it's my mother, Harry. It's always her lately, isn't it?"
Harry stood and walked over to where she was standing, placing his hands on her shoulders in a comforting gesture. "What was it this time, love?"
She turned in his arms and placed her head on his chest, wrapping her arms around his waist. "Now she wants me to wear the robes she wore when she married Dad," she grumbled.
"Well, that's not such a bad thing, is it?" Harry asked carefully.
"It wouldn't be, if they were decent looking, but..."
"Do you remember Ron's robes for the Yule Ball?"
A vivid mental image sprang into Harry's mind. "They're not that bad, are they?" When she didn't answer, he repeated, "Are they?"
"No, Harry, they're worse. They're hideous. Lace and ruffles everywhere. And the colour… Not something I'd ever be seen in public in, especially on my wedding day, when I'm supposed to be beautiful."
"You are beautiful," Harry interposed quickly.
She continued on as if he hadn't spoken, "And of course, when I told Mum that...."
"She lost her temper," Harry finished for her.
"Harry, it seems like all we do anymore is fight. It's like she forgets that this is my wedding—"
He cleared his throat. "So I'm just turning up to keep the numbers even, am I?" he said cheekily and grinned when she gave him a sheepish look.
"Sorry, our wedding," she corrected. "So she keeps planning what she wants and doesn't even ask what we want. First, it was the wedding date. I really wanted to get married next month, but she insisted on next summer—over a year from now! Then it was the location, who the attendants were going to be, the flowers... Today, it was the robes. She treats me like I'm still a child, picking my clothes out for me like I'm not able to make those kinds of decisions for myself. I'm afraid to see what else she's going to decide without asking us."
"Do you want me to talk to her?"
She looked at him gratefully. "Would you?"
Harry gave her shoulders another squeeze. "Of course I would. It's killing me to see you so upset over this. I'll go tomorrow, all right?"
She leaned up to give him a kiss. "I love you, you know."
"I know. I love you, too."
Harry Apparated over to the Burrow the next morning, almost as nervous as he had been when he proposed. He had no idea what to say to Molly. Well, that wasn't true, exactly. He'd already tried to talk to her about the date and location of the wedding, the flowers, and the attendants. None of the discussions had gone very well.
Molly wanted the wedding to be held at the Burrow, but Ginny wanted something smaller, more intimate, more elegant. That had been an ugly fight, and one that hadn't become any nicer even after Harry had intervened. That might have been because he honestly didn't care—he just wanted to marry Ginny. Where and when was immaterial to him, although he did think that sooner was better. The same was true with the flowers. Flowers were flowers, he thought (although he would never dare to say that to Neville). He'd managed to get Ginny and Molly to compromise on the flowers, but the location was still undecided. He wasn't sure if it would ever be decided at the rate they were going.
When Molly tried to get them to include some distant cousins—ones that Ginny hadn't seen since she was three—in the wedding party instead of Neville and Luna, Harry and Ginny had both adamantly refused. After a lengthy discussion, he'd managed to convince Molly that the attendants should be people closest to them—Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Luna. The six of them had become fast friends after the incident in the Department of Mysteries during Harry's fifth year, and they'd all been instrumental in Voldemort's defeat.
He felt quite like he was stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place during these discussions—by supporting Ginny, he risked angering his future mother-in-law, but if he supported Molly.... Well, suffice it to say that he appreciated having all of his body parts where they were currently located, thank you very much. And there was the additional fact that Ginny was the woman he loved, Ginny was the one he was marrying, and he firmly believed that Ginny should be the one to make the decisions, unless she decided not to, of course.
How do I always get myself stuck in the middle? he asked himself as he walked to the house.
Molly must have seen him coming, because she met him at the door with a kiss on the cheek.
"Harry, dear. It's so good to see you. Come in, I was just sitting down for a cup of tea. Would you like some? Or maybe some pumpkin juice?"
"Hello, Molly," he said, following her into the kitchen. "Some tea would be nice, thank you."
Harry sat at the table and watched Molly bustle around the kitchen. She finished getting the tea ready and placing some biscuits on a side-plate and then floated everything over to the table.
After she had poured the tea and indicated he should help himself to the biscuits, she said, "Harry, would you mind waiting here for a minute? I've got something I need to show you."
"Sure, Molly," Harry agreed, wondering what it was she had for him. With his luck, it would be the robes Arthur—
She bustled into the room, carrying a set of bright green robes, with lace at the collar and ruffles at the cuffs. "Here we go, Harry. Just the thing for you to wear for the wedding. They'll match your eyes perfectly."
"Erm...." Other than 'no way in hell,' Harry had no idea what to say. He simply stared, utterly at a loss.
"These were the robes Arthur wore when we got married," she said fondly. "They'll look perfect with the robes I gave Ginny yesterday. She'll be wearing the ones I wore, you know."
Harry set his cup down in its saucer and looked Molly straight in the eye. "Molly, Ginny came by the house yesterday after talking with you, and she was very upset."
"I just thought that she should wear my robes for the wedding," she said. "She didn't want to have anything to do with them. I insisted, of course."
"Well, I can see how that would be nice for you, but—"
"She had to be difficult about the whole thing, but I think I convinced her in the end. She just doesn't know what's best," Molly said strongly, looking at her teacup.
Harry sighed and leaned across the table to grab her hand. "Molly. Mum," he said, trying to get her to meet his eyes. "Ginny and I appreciate everything you've been doing to help us get this wedding planned. But you have to let us have some say in it. You've already had your day; this one's for Ginny," he finished.
"I let you have Neville and Luna in the wedding party." Molly said matter-of-factly.
"Yes, you did," Harry said patiently. "After we insisted. But it shouldn't have been an issue in the first place."
"I just want it to be perfect."
"And we understand that. But what's perfect for you and Arthur isn't necessarily perfect for Ginny and me. Ginny and I want to pick out our own robes."
"Nonsense, Harry. These robes are perfectly fine, and they'll look lovely on the two of you."
Harry spent another half-hour trying to convince his future mother-in-law that while it was a lovely sentiment, he and Ginny didn't want to wear the robes she had picked out, but there was no hope for it. He was reminded strongly of where Ginny's stubbornness came from, and he finally conceded defeat, at least temporarily. He left with the offending garment in hand and Apparated to the kitchen of Ginny's flat. Taking one last look at the item Molly had sent with him, he shuddered before he set out to find his fiancée. He and Ginny needed to have a talk.
He found her in the lounge, curled up on the sofa and flipping through a Magical Brides magazine. She looked up and smiled at him, patting the space beside her on the sofa. "So, how did it go?" she asked.
"You don't want to know," he answered, before dropping down beside her on the sofa. He leaned his head against the back of his seat and closed his eyes, exhausted.
"Harry, what's that you're holding?"
"Let's just say that I didn't make much progress on the robes," he said.
"Are those...tell me they're not..."
"The robes your father wore when he got married?" He held up the bright green robes Molly had sent with him. "Unfortunately, I can't do that."
He looked at them again and gave another shudder. "Are the ones she had for you this bad?"
"Hmmmm." She nodded.
"Ginny, we have to do something about her. I'm not wearing this...this...thing."
"Well, now you know how I feel. We should have just eloped."
Harry sat up a little straighter and stared at the fireplace. "Now that's an idea. We couldn't just... But if we... And then we...." He threw his arms around her and kissed her exuberantly. "Ginny, you're brilliant. It's perfect!"
"Um, Harry? Am I missing something? You sound like you're planning something, and I've no idea what it is."
"Have you ever heard the saying 'It's easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission'?"
"Yeah," she said cautiously.
"Well, what do you think about getting married at the house, next month?" he asked excitedly. "I think I've got a way for your whole family to be there and for us to have a wedding without your mum's interference. We'll have to...hide things from her for the next few weeks...."
"Lie, you mean."
"This coming from the woman who blamed Dungbombs on Crookshanks." He gave her a cheeky grin. "No, not lie, exactly. Just omit some of the facts."
She sat up and looked at him, hope in her eyes. "And how would we do this?"
"Like I said, we'd get married at the house. In the garden, maybe. We'd do it on the second Sunday. Your whole family always gets together then anyway. We'd just have to convince her to do it there instead of at the Burrow." He started talking faster, warming to the subject. "We've done second Sundays at Charlie's and Ron's before, so it's not like we'd even be introducing something new to your mum. We could tell everyone we want to show off all the work we've done on the house. That's a good enough excuse."
"We'd have to tell Ron and Hermione."
"Of course. And Neville and Luna, too, but that shouldn't be a problem. They can help us get ready."
"Mum will kill us."
He turned to her and took her hands in his. "Ginny, right now I don't care what your mum thinks. This is our wedding. This way we get the wedding we want, not the one your mother thinks we want. She can throw a party after the fact if she feels like she has to do something."
"Do you really think it'll work?"
"I do." He squeezed her hands. "We'll have our work cut out for us, but I think we can do it. And it will be worth it, don't you think?"
She smiled brightly and leaned up to give him a lingering kiss. "I do." For some reason, the plan promptly evaporated from Harry's mind.
With less than four weeks left until the wedding, Harry and Ginny threw themselves into the preparations with abandon. They had confided in Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Luna, and together the six of them worked on the house and garden. Neville planted magically enhanced flowers to ensure that the garden would be in full bloom on the date of the wedding. Ron and Harry finished up the last bit of renovation needed on the house by enlarging the closets and bathrooms. Ginny, Hermione, and Luna finished the decorating, painting and wallpapering before hanging photos and art on the walls.
While getting the house ready was hard work for all of them, by far the most difficult task was keeping the secret from Ginny's mum. She was still insisting that Ginny—and, quite often, Harry—visit the Burrow to hear what the latest plans were. It took bit of mental fortitude on both their parts to keep from blurting out the secret in order to get Molly to leave them alone. Add the fact that they kept running into her in Diagon Alley, and the secret was very hard to keep indeed.
The last week before the wedding got so bad that Harry later jokingly compared it to a "Mission Impossible" episode from Muggle television. They were already under severe stress, attempting to get a wedding planned in less than a month, but it was made worse by Molly, who was particularly trying. Besides the fact that she kept Flooing over to the house to tell Ginny and Harry the latest plans, she kept running into one (or more) of the participants in Diagon Alley. One day she had seen Ron and Hermione buying supplies for the house. At least they had a legitimate excuse for those, since Molly knew they were working on finishing the renovations. The wedding decorations weren't so easy to explain, though. And when she caught them going into Madam Malkin's...well, suffice it to say that Harry and Ginny had to think quickly to come up with a suitable story.
The weather on the second Sunday of April was clear and crisp. The sun shone brightly and lent a warm glow to the roses adorning the arbour out in the back garden. Harry and Ginny had worked hard over the past weeks, and with their friends' help, had managed to get the house and garden ready in record time. The flowers that Neville had planted were in full bloom as expected, and the garden was resplendent with not only the roses on the arbour, but also with tulips and daffodils.
Molly and Arthur were the last to arrive. Their invitation...accidentally... said half-past two instead of two o'clock. The rest of the family was already in place when they walked through the door.
Harry, in perfectly tailored dark green dress robes, pulled Arthur aside to explain the situation while Ron escorted his mother to her seat. When Harry walked to the arbour and took his place, joined by Ron and Neville, Molly let out a gasp. Ginny, dressed in a set of elegant ivory robes and escorted by her father, followed Hermione and Luna from the house to the arbour.
The ceremony went off without a hitch. After the officiating wizard pronounced them husband and wife, they were swarmed by their family and friends. All except for Molly, who could be seen watching from the rear of the garden.
Harry squeezed Ginny's hand and nodded towards her mother. "We should go talk to her."
"I know. I just..."
"It'll be all right, love," he reassured her, kissing her on the cheek. He caught Ron's eye and motioned him over. "Ginny and I are going to talk to your mum. Can you make sure Fred and George don't destroy our house?"
"Sure thing, mate," Ron said with a grin, before turning back to the group.
Harry and Ginny walked slowly over to where Molly was standing, afraid of what her reaction would be. They were surprised to see tears in her eyes—they'd expected her to be angry.
"I'm sorry, Mum," Ginny started. "I know how much you—" She was stopped by Molly pulling her into a fierce hug.
"No, Ginny. I'm the one who's sorry. I should have known better than to try to take over your wedding. Sometimes I forget how alike we are."
"But we kept you from helping."
"Now, Ginny." Molly grabbed Ginny's hand. "Even I can admit that what I was doing could hardly be called helping. I'll admit I was upset when I worked out what you two had done. But it was more at myself than anything. All this trouble you went to, forcing you to keep secrets. I'm honestly surprised that you invited me to the wedding at all."
"We would never have left you out, Mum."
"Be that as it may, I'm proud of you, Ginny." She reached out to Harry with her other hand. "And you, Harry."
"Proud, Mrs. Weas—" Molly gave him a stern look, and he corrected himself, "Mum."
"Yes, Harry, proud. Do you know why I was so set on planning your wedding?"
Harry looked at Ginny in confusion. She shrugged her shoulders at him. "Erm...no?" he said.
She looked wistfully at Ginny. "When your dad and I got married, my mother did to us exactly what I tried to do to you. She planned everything. Well, almost everything." she amended. "The only thing Arthur and I were able to choose was what we wore. But I was never brave enough to tell her no or take things into my own hands like the two of you did. I was planning your wedding the way mine could have been, if it had been up to me. And in the process, I forgot that it wasn't about me this time. I promise I won't ever let anything like this happen again. " She squeezed their hands. "I hope you can forgive a meddling old lady."
This time, Ginny initiated the hug. "Oh, Mum," she cried. "Of course we forgive you! Don't we, Harry?"
Harry smiled at his mother-in-law. "Absolutely, Molly."
Molly smiled broadly and said, "Thank you both," before linking her arms through theirs and leading them over to the rest of the group. "Now, you do understand that we'll have to have a proper reception at the Burrow. We'll invite your cousins, and...."
"Mum, you're doing it again."
"I am? Well, can't I plan a wonderful party for my daughter and my new son-in-law? We could enhance the garden, and…."
A/N: This fic was originally written for the Spring 2005 H/G ficafest at LiveJournal. Thanks to Aibhinnfor suggesting the plot bunny! Bring and Fly and OHGinnyfan also deserve chocolate and flowers and all sorts of nice things for their superb, super-fast betaing skills. They both added so much to this story that I feel like I should make them co-authors.