It has been a very, very long day, Ron thought wearily as he made his way to the Ministry Apparition point. A
very, very long day in a series of very long days. This is probably the
longest week I've experienced since Harry was unconscious after the
battle with Voldemort.
The problem was not that Harry
wasn't talking to him, because he was. The problem was that Harry was
being less than forthcoming about what he and Ginny would be telling
the family tomorrow evening. Despite his comments to Hermione, Ron was
not as blasé about the situation as he seemed. Twenty-two years of life
with Ginny had taught him that not only was she able to take care of
herself, but that she would not welcome his interference in her life,
even for the best of reasons. Twelve years of friendship with Harry had
taught him that his friend was almost incapable of doing things that
were dishonest, or even dishonourable, where Ginny was concerned.
Therefore, as he had told himself frequently, he should not be worried
about his sister and his best mate; if Ginny was, indeed, pregnant, no
doubt they'd be marrying right away and Harry would be making sure that
Ginny had everything she could need or want.
However, the fact
that Ginny was not currently talking to Harry (or appeared not to be,
at any rate) was enough to make the concern warranted, at least as far
as he'd been able to decide in the stretch of white nights he'd
suffered recently. If this pregnancy was being taken care of in the way
that Ron was absolutely positive Harry would—that was to say, no
questions, no hesitation, just simply doing what was right to support
Ginny and the child—there should be no reason for this apparent split
between them. So the question remained: what had happened between the
two of them to cause the rift?
Ron rubbed his eyes with the
heels of his hands. It was enough to send a bloke mad. He knew he'd
never been the type to talk about feelings—even now, with Hermione, it
took nearly all the courage he could muster to really talk to
her—but he was nearly to the point of demanding to know Harry's
intentions with his sister, just to keep himself from running
completely mental. Which was madness in and of itself; he knew Harry's
intentions perfectly well, and they were as honourable as any brother,
or even parent, could wish.
That meant that the current
problem lay, not with Harry, but with Ginny; and confronting his sister
about an unplanned pregnancy took considerably more courage than
talking about feelings with Hermione. At least he had a better than
even chance that Hermione wouldn't rearrange his face, either magically
or physically. He might top Ginny by a good foot and a half, and
out-mass her by half again, but there had never been any doubt in his
mind over who was 'in charge' in their sibling relationship.
couldn't I have been born an only child?" he moaned under his breath.
With a sigh, he Apparated home, anxious for a shower, dinner, and an
evening alone, so he could avoid Hermione's panicking over not knowing
for certain what would happen tomorrow.
It wasn't meant to
be, however; when he arrived in the dining room of the flat, exhausted
and headachy, he was met by a familiar pair of identical redheads.
baby brother," Fred said from his spot lounging on the sofa next to his
twin. "We've come to ask what you can tell us about Gin-Gin and
Ron blinked, feeling as though someone had
suddenly Stunned him but left him miraculously still upright. "G-Ginny
and Harry?" he repeated, trying desperately to get his brain back
on-line. Oh, hell, he thought. If the twins have got wind of something wrong....
"Yes, Ginny and Harry," George said patiently.
has reached our ears," Fred said, "that there may be trouble in
paradise between our darling sister and the Boy Who Lived."
"And if that's the case," George picked up, "we're obligated to offer our services."
"Give them what help we can."
"Render them assistance."
"You can't," Ron blurted, then cursed internally when their eyes lit up with sudden interest.
"Oh, we can't?" George said, raising an eyebrow. "And why would that be, Ron?"
there's—there's nothing wrong," Ron said, praying that they'd believe
him. "They've put the brakes on a bit, yes, but otherwise, everything's
just fine. No worries."
The twins looked at each other as
though communicating silently (they probably were, Ron thought), then
turned back to face him again. "Ron, honestly," Fred said pityingly.
"Either you're trying to fool us, which is rarely possible—" George began.
"—Or you're trying to cover for either Ginny or Harry."
"And we're not entirely sure which one it is."
both glared at him, and he flushed. "I'm not covering for anyone," he
said shortly. "Both Ginny and Harry have said there's nothing wrong
between them, and I've no reason to think they're lying."
Fred raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really? No reason?"
Ron said stoutly, praying he'd got better at lying over the past few
years as an Auror. "Now, if you don't mind, I've just had rather a long
week, and I fancy a nice, quiet evening at home."
"Then I imagine we should leave before Hermione gets here," Fred said wickedly.
shame, Fred!" George said with mock surprise. "If Hermione were going
to be here, it would hardly be a quiet evening, would it?"
flushed violently again, but managed to keep his temper only because
the twins were rising from his sofa, getting ready to leave. "Well,
Ron," George said with a sigh of patently false resignation, "I suppose
we'll see you tomorrow." He clapped Ron fraternally on the shoulder,
then headed toward the flat's front door.
This was the strangest conversation he'd ever had with his brothers.
Frantically trying to shift gears in his mind one more time, he
followed them toward the door, frowning as he watched them unlock it.
"Why don't you Apparate home?" he asked suspiciously.
meeting Katie and Angelina for dinner at a Muggle restaurant," George
explained. "It's just up the road, which is why we decided to stop in
and see you first."
"But if you don't know anything about
tomorrow, you don't know anything about tomorrow," Fred concluded with
a sigh. He opened the door. "Bye, Ron. Don't let Hermione get too loud,
now; you wouldn't want to upset the neighbours."
slipped out the door and had it closed before Ron could come up with a
suitably stinging reply. "Gits," he snarled, stomping forward to
re-engage the Muggle lock before turning back toward the fireplace.
Maybe the twins were just curious about the mysterious
announcement, and maybe it was more than just simple curiosity.
Whatever it was, Hermione should know. Dropping to his knees before the
grate, he started a fire with his wand, threw a pinch of Floo powder
on, and leaned in, calling out, "Hermione Granger!"
turned emerald green and he felt the familiar, uncomfortable sensation
of his head leaving his shoulders. The world spun wildly for a few
moments, then resolved itself into a cinder's-eye view of Hermione and
Ginny's flat. "Hermione!" he called. "You home yet?"
footsteps, then Hermione came into view. She was still in the pale
green robes of a Healer-in-training. "Ron!" she said, startled.
Striding forward to the edge of the hearth, she knelt down so she could
be eye-to-eye with him. "What's wrong? I didn't think I'd hear from you
"I think we may have a problem, 'Mione," Ron said soberly. "Have you talked to Fred and George recently?"
"No," she said, her brow furrowing. "Why?"
he told her about coming home to find the twins there, and the ensuing
conversation. "They gave in too easily," he concluded, shaking his
head. "I know those two, and they're like Kneazles with mice; they'll
chase after their prey until they have it cornered, then play with it
until it gives them what they want, then devour it. The fact that they
were only here for a few minutes is enough to worry me. You don't
suppose they already know, do you?"
"How could they?" she
asked logically. "Unless Ginny or Harry had already told them, and if
that was the case, there would be no reason for them to come over in
the first place. No, either they heard something odd was going on
between them and thought they'd come see if you know anything, or they
were just teasing you."
"They would, the gits," he muttered.
"But seriously, Hermione, we've got to be careful here. If one of them
finds out before tomorrow that Ginny's pregnant, they're liable to do
something horrid to Harry. If you think I'm protective, you just wait
until they get hold of him. Harry might not live to see his child born."
Hermione bit her lip, considering. "But you say they left again, with no argument?" she asked.
"That's right," Ron said, frustrated. "And I've no idea why."
thought for a moment. "I think we're probably safe," she said at last.
"They certainly didn't learn anything from you, after all. I agree, it
was odd, but perhaps they've just given it up as a bad job, and have
decided to wait until tomorrow."
"Perhaps." Ron ran a hand over his face, feeling the relief loosening the taut muscles of his shoulders. "Thanks, Hermione."
who was keeping watch outside Ron's flat while George listened in,
looked back toward his Disillusioned twin. There was a rustle of
clothing as George rose to his feet. "It's clear," Fred said.
reappeared as though a bucket of water had been dumped over him,
washing him clean of some sort of Invisible Ink. He held an Extendable
Ear in his hand, and as Fred watched, began to wind it round his hand
in preparation for tucking it into a pocket. "Well?" Fred said, quietly
enough that Ron wouldn't be able to hear him on the other side of the
door. "Did you get anything?"
"Plenty," George growled. "I
don't know who to pummel first, Harry or Ginny. Come on, let's find
someplace to sit and I'll tell you."
"Still here, Harry?"
looked up to see Padma Patil lounging against the half-wall between his
desk and the corridor, a small, mysterious smile on her face. "Yeah,"
he said, looking back down at the reports on his desk. "I've a few
things to finish, and I didn't want to leave them over the weekend. I'd
rather get them done at work so they're not hanging over my head, you
"Oh, I understand completely," she said, shifting
slightly and leaning forward a bit, causing the low-cut neckline of her
robes to shift. "I'm staying late for the same reason." She sighed. "I
really don't want to have to go home and cook, though. Would you like
to get a bite to eat? There's a lovely little café down the road from
my flat. It's Muggle, but the food is quite nice."
looked down at the pile of paper on his desk and sighed. "No, thanks,
Padma," he said, slouching back in his chair and rubbing his eyes.
"I've still a good deal to get done, and then I'm going home. It's
Ron's turn to cook tonight, so with luck he'll have gone out to get
take-aways or something."
"Oh, surely you can do better than
that," she said, her tone of voice amused. "Take-aways? You're hardly
some penniless Ministry peon, Harry; you can afford to eat out once in
awhile." She moved closer, sat on the edge of his desk, and leaned on
one hand. "Come along. Ron won't mind if you go out for once."
Still slouched back in his chair, Harry looked up at her, frowning slightly. If I didn't know better,> he thought, I'd swear she was flirting with me. But she can't be; she knows I'm with Ginny.
"I really do have too much to do, I'm afraid, Padma," he said, flashing
a fake smile at her. "And there's a big Weasley family get-together
tomorrow at the Burrow. I want to get all this done first."
"A Weasley family get-together?" she repeated, eyebrows raised. "Well, you're not still planning to go to that, are you?"
course I am," he said, beginning to get annoyed. "The Weasleys
practically raised me; they're the closest thing I have to family. It'd
break Mrs Weasley's heart if I weren't there. Besides which, I want to
go." And I'd really like it if you'd go as well. Away. Anywhere.
Harry." Her tone was pitying. "I know you must be upset and hurt, but
don't you think this'll just rub salt into the wound? It'd be better to
get away. Trust me." She reached out and stroked her fingers down his
cheek. "I can help you with that," she breathed. "Forgetting. I'm good
He jerked back from her. "What do you think you're doing?" he snapped.
smiled slightly. "You don't have to pretend with me, Harry," she said
softly. "Everyone knows about you and Ginny. Nobody will think any the
less of you."
"If you think I'm going to—" he began furiously, but was interrupted by a familiar voice.
"Oy! Potter! Where are you?"
Fred and George to the rescue,
he thought with relief, looking up to see them coming down the hall
toward him. He glared at Padma, and stood up, pushing his chair back
away from her. "You'd better go, Padma," he said frostily.
rose from his desk gracefully. "All right. But think about what I said,
Harry. I have a good deal to offer, whenever you want to take me up on
She sauntered away, hips swaying, as Fred and George came
up to Harry's desk, breathing a bit heavily as though they'd been
rushing to find him. Harry felt a surge of affection for them. "Thank
Merlin you arrived when you did," he told them feelingly. "You won't
believe what Padma was trying to do."
"At this point, Harry," George said shortly, "we don't know what to believe."
blinked; George's wand was in his hand. In fact, so was Fred's. Both
twins were looking at him with blue gazes so intense, they almost
burned. "What are you two playing at?" he asked, looking from one to
the other, not really believing what he was seeing.
"Funny," Fred said, "we were about to ask you the same thing."
Harry repeated, bewildered. "What'd I do?" This was rapidly turning
into the strangest day he'd ever experienced—and he had no idea why it
was all happening.
"We had a little chat with our baby brother
an hour or so ago," George told him, his wand still pointed
unwaveringly at Harry. "He told us something very interesting about
this 'announcement' you and Ginny are planning to make tomorrow."
felt a jolt of surprise and concern go through him. "He did?" He'd
never known Ron to betray a confidence before—why would he begin now?
didn't know he was telling us," Fred allowed, "but we know, anyway." He
glared at Harry. "You do realise this is going to break Mum's heart,
"It is?" Harry said, with another jolt, stronger this time.
"Well, of course it is, dolt," George snapped. "What, did you think she'd be happy about it?"
"W-well, yeah, I reckon I did," Harry said, a bit uncertainly. "I mean, she's always said I was like part of the family—"
you think there are already enough kids, Harry?" Fred said sharply. "I
mean, really, you and Ginny are barely out of nappies yourselves."
"I really did think you had better sense than this," George agreed.
Barely out of nappies? "Now you just wait one minute," Harry said heatedly. "You come into my workplace—how did you get in here, anyway?"
entrance," Fred said, indicating the badge that was attached to his
robes. It read "FRED WEASLEY - Delivery - A piece of his mind."
"Right," Harry said, his irritation growing with the description on the badge. "You come into my
workplace, interrupting me to tell me, from the lofty height of two
years' difference in our ages, that I'm not good enough to join the
family despite having been a brother to you in all but blood for twelve years?
Don't you think you've left it a bit late, mates? Because I'm very
sorry if you or your mother or anyone else is going to be upset about
this, but Ginny and I are going to get married, no matter what you lot think about it."
stopped, breathing heavily. He wasn't entirely sure of the truth of
what he'd just said—if her family was really that against it, Ginny
might well choose to wait awhile. Or maybe not, he thought. If they're so against it, it might just fuel the fire for her. He wasn't sure he'd
want to, though; the Weasleys were his family in everything but fact,
and if they were that against his becoming one of them officially—
on," George said slowly, lowering his wand. Fred did the same. Both of
the twins' brows were furrowed in confusion. "You two are getting married?"
Harry blinked in surprise. "Yeah," he said. "Isn't that what Ron said? It's what I told him."
twins looked at each other, then burst out laughing, causing Harry's
confusion to grow. "Are you sure that's what you told him?" Fred
managed through his chortles. "Because somehow, he's got it in his head
that you've made Ginny pregnant."
"He's what?" Harry goggled, his anger running away like water.
"Oh, yes," George chuckled. "He was quite emphatic about it. He and Hermione are both convinced of it."
Slowly, Harry lowered himself back into his chair, still in shock. "But—he—how the hell did he decide that?" he burst out. "I never said a word about Ginny being pregnant. Not a word!"
"Well, you know Ron," Fred said. "He can read the oddest things into the simplest sentences. What did you say to him, Harry?"
"If it was 'Oy, Ron, Ginny and I are getting married,' I have no hope for the boy," George added.
flushed. "Well, Ginny and I have got this—sort of prank war thing going
on at the moment," he began, by way of explanation.
"Have you?" Fred looked impressed. "Well done."
continued as though he hadn't been interrupted. "It started when I
proposed last weekend—I was all for telling everyone right away, but
Ginny wanted to wait until tomorrow, when we could tell the whole
family at the same time, so nobody got left out and nobody got hurt
because they didn't know first."
"Mum," the twins chorused, nodding.
then I made some comment about not being able to keep from telling
people, if she and I were out together, so she said we should spend a
week apart—winding me up, you know—so I decided to get her back by
pretending, outwardly, that I thought of her as just friends, and—oh,
my God!" The penny had dropped—he now realised what exactly had been going on with Padma earlier.
shut his mouth, which had fallen open as soon as the truth had hit him,
and began chuckling quietly. "Padma was over here flirting with me, all
but inviting me to spend the night with her tonight, and I had no idea
what she was on about. She must have seen Ginny and me playing about
this week, and assumed it was a real break-up!"
done indeed!" Fred repeated, a note of pride in his voice. "If you can
fool the rest of the world into thinking your pranking is real, you're
well on the way to earning the Gred and Forge Seal of Approval."
him, he's come so far," George said, wiping away an imaginary tear.
"But come on, Harry, finish the story. What happened with Ron?"
great many things were becoming clear all of a sudden. He'd thought
nobody but Ron and Hermione had noticed anything out of the ordinary,
but apparently he'd been quite mistaken. "Well, Ginny and I told Ron
and Hermione that we were taking a break from each other for a week,
and Ron got really worried—you know how he is, he was the one who set
me up with Ginny in the first place, back at Hogwarts. But I couldn't
tell him the truth, because I'd promised Ginny I wouldn't. So I talked
round it, hoping he'd understand. I told him—" He stopped, suddenly
understanding where the confusion had come from. Only Ron would assume the worst about a phrase like that! he thought, exasperated.
"You told him what?" George prompted.
Harry flushed. "I—well, I know what happened now—I told him there'd soon be a new member of the Weasley family."
twins howled with laughter again. "Oh, this is rich," Fred said, wiping
his eyes. "Oh, Merlin, this is perfect. And Hermione must have bought
into it as well, because he was Firecalling her when George overheard
"Bloody hell." Harry put his head in his hands, not
knowing whether to laugh or to find his best mate and smack some sense
into him. "Ginny's going to kill me."
"No," George said,
turning to sit on the edge of Harry's desk, where Padma had been.
"She's going to kill our prat of a brother. You were trying to abide by
your agreement while keeping Ron from stewing for a week and, not
incidentally, getting on your last nerve in the process. He was the one
who, first of all, got involved in your business—and that will
set Ginny off like nothing else! —and second, took the worst possible
interpretation and assumed that it must be the correct one, completely
ignoring the fact that he's known you for more than half his life, and
Ginny for nearly all his life, and neither of you would be quite that
"You were willing to believe it, too," Harry pointed out.
"Because we thought Ron knew it as fact, not assumption," Fred said.
"But since we know it's not true—"
"I think we should have a bit of fun with this. Don't you?"
eyes widened with fear at the gleeful look on the twins' faces and the
gleam in their eyes. "Oh, no," he said, holding up his hands. "No, no,
no. Count me out of this one. I want to live to see my wedding day.
Hell, I want to live to set a wedding day."
"Aw, Harry," George said. "Live a little!"
intend to," Harry said firmly. "I intend to live quite a long time,
thanks." He glanced at the work on his desk, decided there was no
possible way he'd finish it tonight after this, and rose, reaching for
the cloak that he'd hung on the cloak rack beside his desk. "Listen,
I'm going to go straight to Ginny and tell her about all this, so she
doesn't end up finding out at the worst possible time. What you two do,
well, it's your business. Just leave Ginny and me out of it."
twins looked at each other with the type of measuring look that Harry
knew meant they were communicating in that mysterious silent fashion of
theirs. "All right, Harry," Fred said at last, turning back to him.
"We'll keep you out of it. But you don't mind if we have a bit of fun, do you?"
my guests," Harry said. He slipped his papers into his desk and locked
the desk with his own personal locking charm. As long as he was alive,
nobody but Kingsley Shacklebolt, the head of the MLES, and Ron, his
partner, could break those wards without taking the entire desk apart
and probably destroying the files in the process. Flipping his cloak
round his shoulders, he slid his wand into the wrist holster he used
and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. "If you don't see me at the
dinner tomorrow," he said, opening them again, "it's your sister's
fault. Just give me a decent burial."
George watched as Harry strode off toward the employees' Apparition
point, clearly wanting to find Ginny and get this over with. Once he
was out of sight, they turned to each other.
"Madam Malkin's?" Fred asked.
"Oh, absolutely," George agreed.
they turned and headed back towards the Visitors' Entrance. It would
take them a little longer to get to their destination that way, but
aside from not being authorised to use the employees' Apparition point,
they really didn't want Harry to know what they were up to. Not until
the next day, at any rate.
"This is going to be one of our best pranks ever," Fred mused as they got into the lift.
"Ranking right up there with the Portable Swamp at Hogwarts," George agreed as the doors slid shut.
Early Saturday afternoon
had been gone when Ron woke up, but he'd left a note explaining that
he'd gone to Diagon Alley with Ginny, and would go to the Burrow with
her that evening. Less annoyed than worried at the reception Harry and
Ginny would receive when they announced Ginny's pregnancy, Ron puttered
about the flat, trying to find things to do to keep his mind off the
dinner that night.
He was folding newly-washed clothes when he heard the crack! of Apparition from the dining room. He glanced at the clock; it was about one o'clock. Probably Hermione wanting to have lunch, he thought, and hurried into the front room only to see his twin brothers waiting for him. He stopped in the hallway, glaring.
"Ronniekins!" Fred said jovially.
do you want?" Ron asked suspiciously. Fred and George never came over
unless there was a specific reason, and twice in two days could hardly
"Oh, you wound us, Ron," George
protested, raising his hand to his heart. "Can't we come and visit our
favourite younger brother without being viewed with suspicion?"
"No," Ron said flatly. "I know you far too well."
The twins exchanged looks, sighing dramatically. "We came by to show you what we got for Harry and Ginny," Fred said.
"We don't usually go in for the 'buying presents' thing," George said, "as you know."
this was just far too good to pass up," Fred concluded. He picked up a
parcel from Madam Malkin's and began untying the twine holding the
wrapping closed. The paper fell away, and he was left holding up a set
of infant-sized robes in red and gold, with a Gryffindor lion
embroidered on the front.
Ron felt as though he'd been hit in the chest with a brick. "Y-you know, then," he said—stuttered, really.
"Oh, we know all about it," Fred said.
"We ran into Harry yesterday before he came home, and he told us what he and Ginny are going to announce today," George added.
"And so, of course, when we saw these, we couldn't resist."
"After all, we must encourage the tradition of being Sorted into Gryffindor, mustn't we?"
Ron moved forward on shaky legs and all but collapsed onto the sofa. "H-he told you?" he repeated.
"Well, it took a bit of persuading," George said fairly. "But we've left him mostly unbruised."
Merlin," Ron said, lowering his head to his hands. "Look, I—I would
have told you two, but I promised I wouldn't say anything—"
worries, little brother," Fred assured him. "We just wanted to let you
know that we know the real story, from Harry's own mouth."
took a deep breath, then looked up. In truth, it had bothered him more
than a little to be the only member of the family who knew. With the
twins in on the secret as well, some of the pressure seemed to lift
from his own shoulders. "Thanks," he said sincerely.
"Oh, don't thank us, Ron," George said, grinning broadly.
"Yeah, don't thank us," Fred agreed. "We'll just see you at Mum's this evening."
right," Ron agreed. The twins Disapparated, and he stood, feeling
better than he had for a week. "I wonder if 'Mione and I should pick up
something as a gift," he mused aloud to himself. "I suppose it couldn't
After all, he didn't want to be shown up by the twins, of all people!
set down his knife and fork and sighed with contentment. It had been
another perfect Molly Weasley supper, and he was once again reminded
how lucky he was to have been invited into the bosom of this wonderful
family. And, soon, to be a proper member of it. He looked over at
Ginny, sitting to his right. Their eyes met, and she let hers twinkle
at him. His heart tightened. It had been a long week, but finally, finally he'd won a prank war with her—and tonight, of course, all bets were off.
I wonder how early we can leave without causing her brothers to make clever remarks.
and Mr Weasley had expanded the dinner table before everyone else had
got there; not only were there the nine Weasleys themselves present,
but also himself, Hermione, Angelina, Katie, Fleur, and Penelope. It
was just a good thing that Fleur and Penelope had their mothers
watching their children, he reflected, or the entire bottom floor of
the Burrow would have had to be converted into eating space!
looked like nearly everyone was finished with their meals by this
point. Mr Weasley wiped his mouth with his napkin, surveyed his brood
with a fond eye, then caught Harry's gaze. "So, Harry, Ginny," he said
in a voice that penetrated the din of conversation, "you said you had
something you wanted to announce to us?"
Silence fell as every
eye turned to the two of them. Harry noticed, with some trepidation,
that the twins had expressions of pure eagerness, and Ron and Hermione
completely blank faces, as though they were trying not to give away
their concern. Harry had told Ginny last night what the twins had told
him, about Ron and Hermione believing she was pregnant, and asked
whether she wanted to tell them the truth. "No," she'd said firmly. "If
they wanted to go round behind our backs and get everything wrong,
rather than come to us and actually ask, then they deserve
everything they get. Don't say a word to them, Harry. They need to
learn a lesson—especially my prat of a brother."
agreed—he was still annoyed with Ron for making such an assumption
about them—and so felt no guilt whatsoever when he and Ginny stood,
clasping hands. "This house has always been home to me, ever since the
first moment I set foot in it," he said, looking round at all the
familiar faces. "You've been my family in a way that my blood relatives
never were, and I've been more grateful than I could ever tell. So much
so, that after discussion with Ginny, I've decided to join the family
officially." He felt his face spreading into a broad, ear-to-ear grin,
and glanced down to see that Ginny had an identical smile on her face.
"We're engaged," he said.
There was a second's pause, then an
enormous surge of sound—whoops of joy, chairs scraping back as people
stood, a babble of joyous voices, and above all, Mrs Weasley's voice:
"Oh, Harry! Ginny! I've dreamed for so long that you would—and you are—and, oh, my dears, I'm so happy for you both!"
the shoulders of those who had come forward to congratulate him, Harry
saw Ron and Hermione still in their seats, jaws hanging open in shock.
He smirked. That'll teach you to assume the worst, won't it? he thought, but without rancour—it was enough that he and Ginny had been cleared.
it apparently wasn't enough for Fred and George. "We've got presents!"
George called over the din. "Presents for Harry and Ginny!"
"How'd you know to bring presents?" Charlie demanded, moving backward to let his twin brothers through, but reluctantly.
"We managed to weasel it out of Harry," Fred said, utterly unrepentantly.
George said. "After all, it would hardly be a proper engagement party
without presents to open." He handed a parcel to Ginny, and one to
Harry. "They're both from both of us and the girls," he said.
"They are?" Angelina said, surprised.
"Hush," Fred said, winking at her. "Let us give you credit if we want to."
glanced at Harry, then back at her brother. "Is this safe to open?" she
asked sceptically. "Nothing's going to explode, or pounce out at me, or
turn me into anything?"
"Nothing," George assured her. "We're playing it straight for this once."
"Though if you'd prefer—" Fred began.
thanks," Harry said quickly, already tearing at the paper. After a
moment, Ginny began opening hers as well, though Harry got the paper
off his first. He stared down at it in amazement, then looked up at the
twins. "This is—wow—it's beautiful."
"What is it, dear?" Mrs Weasley asked, craning her neck to see.
held up the gift—a silver frame with a wizard photograph of himself and
Ginny, standing in a corner of the Weasleys' garden and clearly unaware
they were being observed. They were holding each other and gazing into
each other's eyes. As the family watched, the Harry in the picture
raised his hand to caress Ginny's cheek in a gesture of silent love.
voices chorused, "Ohh!" softly in tones of delight as they watched the
photograph. Harry shot a look at the twins; this didn't seem at all
like them, but even they were just smiling. They're still up to something, Harry decided.
real Ginny had finished opening her gift by now, and was staring into
the long, shallow box she held with at least as much shock as Harry had
felt when he saw the photograph. She reached in with shaking hands and
brought out a pair of what looked like ordinary rectangular pieces of
cardboard covered with florid writing in gold. She looked up at the
twins, and to Harry's surprise, he could see tears standing in her
eyes. Without a word, she pressed the cardboard into Harry's hand and
threw her arms around George in a tearful hug. He returned it,
whispering something into her ear, and she nodded before releasing him
and hugging Fred just as tightly.
"Well?" Bill said from his position near the back of the group. "What are they?"
passes," George said, as Harry looked down to see. "There's a lovely
resort in the British Virgin Islands—Katie and I and Fred and Angelina
went there last summer—just perfect for a nice honeymoon trip."
Harry swallowed. This was— "It's too much," he said, looking from George to Fred and back. "We can't accept all this."
"Oh, yes, you can," Fred said.
"If it weren't for you, Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes would never have got off the ground in the first place," George said.
"So it's only fair that, as our first investor, you should share in the profits," Fred concluded.
not taking them back," George added, "so you might as well use them.
Besides, if you don't, I think Ginny might well hurt you. A lot."
opened his mouth to argue, then shut it again, seeing the expression on
the twins' faces and recognising it as one Ginny wore at her most
stubborn. Instead, he shifted the passes into his left hand and held
his right out to George, who took it in a hearty, solid handshake,
slapping his left shoulder affectionately. Fred did the same.
Mrs Weasley said tearfully, "this is just lovely! Fred, George, I
always knew you could be generous and kind when you wanted to." She
glanced down at her youngest son, who was still seated. "Ron," she
said, "didn't I see you and Hermione come in with a gift, too?"
Harry saw Ron's face go pale. "Erm, no, Mum," he said hastily. "No. It was, erm, something else—"
I'm sure I saw it—ah, there it is!" Mrs Weasley said in triumph, coming
up with a wrapped parcel. "Now, Harry, Ginny, here's another for you—"
Ron exclaimed, jumping up from his chair. Everyone turned to look at
him in surprise, and he flushed. "I mean—we brought the wrong thing—"
"What do you mean?" his mother asked. "You knew what Harry and Ginny were planning to announce, didn't you?"
Ron shot a pleading look at Hermione, who didn't seem to be in much better straits than he. "Erm, well, that is, Mum—" he began.
didn't know for certain," Hermione put in, her face bright red. Ron
subsided gratefully, nodding his support. "They didn't tell us. We
guessed, though, and we guessed wrong—so we'll just take the gift back
to the shop, and—"
"Oh, what's the fun of that?" Fred
interjected, snatching the present from his mother's grasp. He tossed
it to his twin, who handed it to Harry. "Go on, Harry, open it. I'm
sure we'd all love to know what they thought you were going to tell us tonight."
Hermione hissed, blushing even brighter, if that was possible. "Come
on, it was just a mistake, everyone makes mistakes—"
"Even the Head Girl?" George said slyly. He grinned at Harry. "Go on, mate. Open it."
feeling sorry for Ron—almost, but not quite—Harry ripped the paper open
and pulled the top off the small box. Ginny, next to him, reached in
and brought out two sets of infants' robes—one in Chudley Cannons
orange, the other in a more demure pale green, much like Hermione's
Healer-in-training robes. "Two guesses who picked which outfit," he
murmured to Ginny, who chortled.
There was a moment of stunned
silence, as everyone took in the baby outfits and the bright-red faces
of both Hermione and Ron, then Molly Weasley's voice rang out:
"Ronald Bilius Weasley, just what did you suspect your sister of doing?"
think that's our cue to bugger off," George said quietly to his twin,
who nodded. "Thanks for the dinner, Mum," George said more loudly. His
mother didn't answer; she was too busy looking daggers at Ron.
"Yeah, we think we'll go on home," Fred said. "Coming, girls?"
two of them Disapparated, leaving Katie and Angelina to roll their eyes
and follow. Ron, meanwhile, was stammering excuses to his mother.
"They—he—I mean—I heard—"
"How dare you accuse your sister of being some sort of scarlet woman?" Mrs Weasley demanded. "Honestly, I thought you would have developed some sort of sense once you left school, but apparently that was too much to ask!"
think we should try to make a quiet exit, too," Harry said in Ginny's
ear. She chuckled and nodded, and they slipped through the door into
the back garden.
"Do you think he'll ever forgive us?" Ginny giggled once they were out of earshot.
"I doubt it," Harry said with a grin.
"Well, he'll survive. There's one person, though, I'd very much like to talk to on Monday."
"Oh?" Harry asked, frowning. "Who?"
Ginny smiled beatifically. "Padma."
A/N: Epilogue to come, hopefully this weekend. Hang in there with me!