|Daddy's Little Girl
Author: Lizzy Lovegood PM
Pre DH. Song fic to the song Butterfly Kisses. Arthur Weasley has six sons but only one daughter. A story of the lives of Arthur and Ginny and how it feels to finally let someone go.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family/Romance - Arthur W. & Ginny W. - Words: 8,244 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 14 - Published: 10-23-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3851916
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: OK, since this is my first update since school started, let's do a little quiz.
Does Lizzy Lovegood own Harry Potter?
A.) Yes, she is JK Rowling and has decided she enjoys making no money whatsoever by putting her stories on here.
B.) No, she is a poor college student who enjoys reading people's reviews of her stories.
C.) She doesn't know if she owns Harry Potter because a Memory Charm was put on her at birth and JK Rowling may have taken the idea from her.
If you answered B, you are correct! Lizzy Lovegood still does not own Harry Potter . . . or Remus Lupin. Nor does she own the song, Butterfly Kisses, which is by Bob Carlisle.
Note: This story has a very strange history. It started out as a humor fic that I came up with late one night called Shoot Me on the Spot in which the Weasley boys interrogate Dean when he comes to pick Ginny up at the Burrow for their first date and thus, humiliate their little sister. Here's a bit of an excerpt from it:
Fred: So, Dean, what type of cheese do you eat?
Dean: Cheese? Erm . . . cubed, I guess.
Ron: Cubed?! Cubed?! You eat cubed cheese?
George: Calm yourself, Ron. Dean, if you want to be allowed to date our sister, you will eat sliced cheese. Do you understand me?! SLICED CHEESE!
I got the idea from Spongebob Squarepants (the seabear episode) - which I also do not own, even though I love the show! J But, besides that one thing, the idea never got off the ground and so I changed the title to Daddy's Little Girl and tried to do Arthur's POV of Ginny's first date, but couldn't really figure out how to start it. Then, I had an epiphany! I was in the car when, all of a sudden, I heard the song, Butterfly Kisses and it was like a tiny lightbulb flared to life. Thus, where this story came from.
Note: I do not believe that any major or secondary character in the Harry Potter series is one-dimensional. So . . . Arthur Weasley has to be more than the Muggle-loving, mild-mannered wizard who collects plugs, right? Here's my take on Arthur's personality and, as stated in the summary, I started writing this before DHwas published, so some miscellaneous things won't follow what DH says. Enjoy the story!
Daddy's Little Girl
"Fred, George, no, don't touch. . . . Oh, I'm sorry, did you say something?" I attempt an ingratiating smile, but the effect is somewhat ruined as a nasty smashing sound comes from the corner of the waiting room, quickly followed by Percy's cry of, "Dad!"
"Would you like to see your daughter?" she says, sounding slightly amused as her eyes travel first over my six sons - all in various states of dishevelment - then to my own shell-shocked face. A daughter? A daughter?!
"Of course," I say, standing and shifting the sleeping Ron in my arms. "No, Bill, don't touch. I'll fix it, really." With a casual flick of my wand and an abashed-sounding, "Reparo!" the vase flies together and back onto its pedestal.
A tired but proud-looking Molly greets us, a tiny, pink-wrapped bundle in her arms. My daughter. . . .
"Boys meet your new sister - Ginny," she says once we have all gathered around the hospital bed, smiling warmly down at the pink-swaddled bundle.
"Ew, she's all wrinkly!" Fred exclaims in his usual tactful fashion, seemingly oblivious to his mother's murderous stare.
"Fred," I warn, watching with a kind of morbid fascination as Molly's anger builds, nearly palpable in the air around us.
"Well, she is!"
"She's beautiful, Molly," I say, coming to stand beside my wife and interrupting George's remark about her gnome-like appearance. Her eyes are closed, sleeping peacefully, totally ignorant to her older brothers antics. Ignorance is bliss.
Bending down, I stroke her slight shock of trademark red hair. This is my daughter.
The words, "I'm a daddy," have never had so much significance.
There's two things I know for sure:
She was sent here from heaven and she's
daddy's little girl.
Glancing up from her pretense of knitting, I see that Molly's eyes are blotchy, her cheeks tearstained. "Well can you blame me?" she asks, her voice slightly more high-pitched than normal, involuntarily tightening her grip on the yellowish parchment in her hand, emerald-green ink still glistening on its surface. "Two children in Hogwarts now, Arthur, two! That means a whole other set of spellbooks, robes, a cauldron. . . . And Bill's going to need some new robes and more books and . . . and. . . ." She trails off, bending over her knitting again, but is powerless to hide the translucent beads sliding down the knitting needles and dripping onto the maroon sweater.
"Molly," I say, rubbing soothing circles across her back. "Molly, it'll be alright. You said the same thing when Bill went into Hogwarts and we managed. It's okay, I'll pick up extra hours at the Ministry or something. We'll manage, Mollywobbles, don't worry."
Smiling at the familiar endearment, she turns to face me again, hazel eyes shining with recently-shed tears. "Yes, y-you're right, Arthur. I'm just being s-silly. . . ."
"Of course you're not," I reassure, patting her hand comfortingly. "No," I say firmly, as she makes to disagree. "You're upset, I'll make you some tea." And, before Molly has time to argue, I have disappeared into the kitchen, surprised to see a small head of bright-red hair barely peeking over the counter, attempting to pour a glass of milk.
"Ginny?" A small gasp and the crash of the milk jug tell me that my assumption is correct. "Ginny, you're supposed to be in bed," I chide gently so as not to alert Molly.
"I couldn't sleep," my daughter replies, her eyes meeting my own unwaveringly. "I wanted something to drink."
Smiling slightly, I wordlessly bend down and pick her up and, taking the glass of milk in my free hand, carry her back up to bed.
"Sleep now," I say gently, resting Ginny on the pink bedspread and tucking her in, placing the milk to her lips for a last drink before bed. Grasping the cup tightly in both hands, she drinks deeply before handing it back to me before snuggling under the covers, Arnold, her stuffed Puffskein, clutched tightly against her chest.
However, despite this tired façade, I see a trouble lurking in my daughter's eyes, her hazel orbs giving way to troubles far beyond those of a four-year-old. Then again, that's what comes of being born into the Weasley clan - one gets used to deprivation of material things and fighting for what one has, knowing that one will never be exactly "normal" even in wizarding society. Only as I bend down to kiss her goodnight, does she make up her mind.
"Yes, Ginny? What is it?"
Staring at me intently for a few moments, Ginny plunges her hand under the threadbare mattress, finally coming out with a dust-coated Sickle, given to her - as she had proudly explained to us a week previously - by the "tooth fairy." Hazel eyes meet my own blue ones before, with a deep, brave-sounding breath, she places the silver coin in my palm, struggling to close my nearly-immobile fingers around it.
"This is for you, Daddy," she insists, with the distinct air of a bossy older sister . . . or Molly, now that I stop and think about it.
"Ginny, honey," I placate, moving my free hand to stroke her long, red hair. "Ginny, this is yours. The tooth fairy gave it to you, remember?"
Nodding, she continues. "I know but -" for the first time, her eyes lower slightly - "but I heard you and Mummy talking and . . . I think the tooth fairy would want me to give it you." With a final, resolute push, she moves my now-limp hand away from her.
I never thought that angels had red hair.
As I drop to my knees by her bed at night
She talks to Jesus and I close my eyes and
I thank god for all the joy in my life
"Daddy! Daddy, get up!"
I hear the words, but in such early, unholy hours of the morning, my brain cannot seem to make sense of them. Daddy? Daddy who? A sharp elbow in the ribs brings me back to reality.
"Daddy!" The voice is much more insistent this time and, as I again ignore it (a man does need his sleep after all), small hands pull the covers from around me. Blinking dazedly in the bright light, my eyes immediately focus on the small, redheaded figure that is currently kneeling on my chest.
"Happy Birthday!" she says in reply to my quizzical expression, looking quite pleased with herself for waking me.
Huh? My mouth hangs slack for a moment as my brain sifts through piles of information. Then it hits me - today's my birthday, my thirty-third birthday! Another year, another million gray hairs. If it hadn't been for Ginny's ecstatic-looking face and tugs on my pajama sleeve, I probably would have buried myself under the covers once more and stayed there all day.
However, with my daughter's coercion and small hands pulling at me more and more persistently, I gradually work my way out of her bed and follow her down to the kitchen where I am greeted by a chorus of "Happy Birthday!" from Ron, Fred, George, and Percy, directed by Molly herself.
"Well, this is a surprise!" I exclaim in typical fatherly fashion. I beam around at my family and take the proffered seat from a smartly dressed Percy. However, I just as quickly start in surprise as an obnoxious farting noise emanates from the seat of my chair, quickly followed by a cloud of noxious gas.
"Fred! George!" Molly yells, looking murderous as she turns to face the twins.
"It was an accident, Mum, honestly!"
"We just forgot where we put it, we didn't do it on purpose!"
"How dare you! On your own father's birthday!"
"Molly, please, it was only an accident." My voice is weary, I've grown far too used to this over seven years.
Fred nods emphatically, supporting my opinion. "Yeah, yeah, that's it. Look, we even got Dad his present, see?" And, out of his pocket, he produces a pack of Muggle playing cards. "Here, Dad," he says, almost pleadingly, placing the cards on the table, as if in imitation of a peace offering.
"Yes, but still. . . ." starts Molly, her nostrils still flaring dangerously; however, her voice is quickly drowned by a chorus of angry voices.
"Hang on, if those two are, I should give Father my present!" demands Percy. "After all, I am the oldest here."
"That doesn't matter," Fred replies, incensed.
"Yeah, stop being stupid, Percy!" George adds.
"Hey, don't call me that!"
"Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
"But . . . but I wanna give Dad my present, too!" interrupts Ron, stomping his foot angrily.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
"Stop it, stop it! Mum!"
"Fine! Fine!" Molly shouts over the squabble and all eyes immediately turn to her. Then, seeming to realize that perhaps she should rein in her notorious temper on such an occasion as her husband's birthday, says, "Percy, dear, why don't you go first?"
Ignoring Ron's jealous glare, Percy moves forward, a neatly-wrapped package in his hands. . . .
The gifts are truly ordinary; Percy has given me a tie, Ron a Muggle picture book - Pat the Postman - and Molly, upon her children's urging, another Weasley sweater (though she promised another, better one later on). Finally, only Ginny remains.
"Ginny?" I ask gently. "Do you have anything you want to give me?"
Nodding slightly, she glances at Molly who goes to the cupboard and takes out a foil-covered platter. Taking it with shaking hands, Ginny places the package into my own, barely daring to meet my eyes.
"I made it myself," she says tremulously, the usual Molly-like spark missing in those hazel eyes.
"Well, I'd best open it then," I say, giving her an encouraging smile as I rip back the foil and reveal a small cake. It has all the markings of being made with a child's hands - the frosting looks like a battlefield, forming pits and valleys across the spongy surface of the cake and the words, "Happy Birthday, Daddy!" are misspelled and spread over the pastry as though unable to discern where exactly they are supposed to go - nevertheless, I could tell it had been made with love.
Looking up, I see that Ginny is watching me nervously, seeming to try to gauge my reaction and see how good her present is in comparison to her elder brothers'. However, before I can open my mouth to speak, Ron, who had been peering over my shoulder to see Ginny's handiwork, burst out, "Whoa, what did you do to it, Gin? It looks all weird!"
"Ron!" I reprimand before Molly can even open her mouth, but I'm not quick enough for Ginny's volatile temper.
"Shut up!" she screams, almost putting Molly to shame and, bottom lip trembling ominously, punches Ron in the face with all the strength that a four-year-old fist can muster before storming out of the house into the cold, snowy morning.
An uncomfortable silence, so uncommon in our house, reigns for a few moments, until, with a nervous clearing of my throat, I stand and put on my cloak.
"I'll go and see how she's doing," I say decisively, grabbing Ginny's own cloak as I leave. Snow crunches under my feet, feet that are now leading me toward a small, shivering figure leaning up against the front gate. "Ginny?" I ask, wrapping the cloak around her small shoulders. "Ginny, honey, why don't you come in, you'll catch your death of cold."
Almost imperceptibly, she shakes her head. Well, that's a start, now I just need to get her talking.
"I ruined everything - I hit Ron . . . and you don't like my present." She mutters the last bit, as if afraid to mention something so trivial.
Faint sobs from the house alert me to my youngest son's fate, so I decide to focus on the latter rather than the former. Sighing deeply, I rub my face tiredly for a moment before turning Ginny around to face me. "Ginny, you didn't ruin anything," I console. "That was the best birthday present I've ever gotten." Yes, it's a lie, but, in my opinion, every parent is entitled to a small white lie now and again.
Thankfully, it has the desired effect; drying her eyes, Ginny looks up, hope shining in her hazel orbs. "Really?" she asks, as if hardly daring to believe it.
"Yes, of course," I say, smiling warmly and sweeping windswept red hair out of her face. "What do you say we go back to the house and have some of it?"
"Daddy, it's for you!" Ginny insists but, knowing that my daughter can't resist sweets whenever they come within ten feet of her, lift her onto my shoulders and begin "trotting" back to the house, giving a badly-imitated horse neigh.
Laughing, Ginny urges me on. "Faster, horsy, faster," she presses, small fingertips digging into the rough fabric of my cloak. I oblige, more to get out of the cold than anything. Ginny is silent for a moment, apparently thinking hard, as a second later she says, "Daddy?"
"I'm not sorry I hit him - Ron, I mean."
"I wouldn't expect you to be, dear," I reply, smiling to myself. Yes, this is definitely Molly's daughter.
Oh, but most of all
For butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer;
sticking little white flowers all up in her
hair; "Walk beside the pony, Daddy, it's my first ride."
"I know the cake looks funny, Daddy, but I sure tried."
"Honestly, Arthur, honestly!" Placing a pile of plates on the table with unnecessary force, Molly turns to glare at me for the twelfth time that night.
"Molly, dear, really, you're overreacting. It was no big deal," I argue, well aware that I sound like a teenager arguing with their mother, a mother who is intent on grounding them for eternity.
If anything, this only adds fuel to Molly's fire. "No big deal, no big deal?!" she screeches, spinning around to face me, cutlery clutched in her hands. For a heart stopping moment, I fear she's going to hurl them at me, that is, until they meet the same fate as the dishes and she starts shouting again, leaving me wishing that she had hurled the knives at my head or some place equally fatal. "Muggle brawling in public, you think that's no big deal?! A fine example to set for your children, Arthur, a very fine one indeed!"
Knowing that it is unwise to argue with Molly when she's in such a mood if you like all your body parts in the right places, I edge into the living room, collapsing, relieved, into my usual armchair.
"Hiding from Mum, are you?" A voice issues from near the fireplace, causing me to start; looking up, I see Ginny, flipping absentmindedly through her tattered copy of A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration, watching me, obviously amused.
"You know perfectly well what your mother can get like in a rage," I reply, cursing the slight blush that is suffusing my cheeks at my daughter's words.
Smirking in a manner that reminds me uncannily of Fred and George, she returns to her book, most likely remembering the many battles she and Molly have had that seemed to shake our precariously-placed house to the core.
"I'm not Mum, you know," she says after a while, almost as if she had read my mind.
"I know you're not." My reply must have seemed somewhat skeptical because her eyebrows furrow as she looks at me appraisingly.
"I mean that what you did was pretty cool." She puts a hand up as I make to interrupt. "I don't know how many people would have had the guts to beat up a great git like that."
"Ginny, language!" I reprimand, but, despite my scolding tone, I cannot help the happy bubble that is swelling inside me.
With an incredible wisdom for one so young, Ginny just shrugs nonchalantly. "I'm just saying it's cool, that's all. Not many kids are lucky enough to have a dad like you."
"Alright, what do you want?"
"What makes you think I want anything?" she asks, eyes wide and innocent and, grinning like a maniac, leaves the room. She gets it all from the twins, I swear.
In all that I've done wrong I know I must
have done something right to deserve a hug
every morning and butterfly kisses at night.
"Arthur? Arthur, dear?" The deceptively calm voice doesn't fool me, I know what's coming. With an almost maddening amount of slowness, I glance up to see . . . Molly, dressed in a cream-colored set of dress robes, smiling warmly at me.
"Y-yes, Molly, dear?" I ask, hoping the stutter in my voice isn't too pronounced.
"Now, I want you to be perfectly honest with me, dear. . . ." Oh, no, here it comes. "Does this dress make me look fat?" No, not the question, not the question!
I feel my ears burn scarlet as I turn back to the scuffed wooden floor, barely chancing a glance up at my slightly . . . rotund wife. "You look lovely, dear." I murmur the usual response and shoot her a warm smile before leaving the room as fast as I dare.
Upon reaching the relative safety of the ground floor, I slow my steps and take a deep, calming breath before entering the living room to join the group of males gathered in the only place that is somewhat protected from the numerous balloons, bouquets of flowers, and lavish food that celebrate both my eldest son's wedding and, more importantly, my daughter's sixteenth birthday.
"Run into Mum?" Bill queries, his gaze traveling - almost pityingly - over my still-flushed ears and overly-cheerful face.
"If you must know, yes," I reply tersely, attempting an air of nonchalance but, indeed, failing miserably as everyone's laughter echoes across the room.
"Oh, Merlin, I wish I could have seen that!" Ron chortles, wiping away tears of laughter. "Er . . . you look w-wonderful, dear!" he says in a voice uncannily like my own.
Failing to mention how close he is to the truth, I glare at the group, though the effect is ruined somewhat by my amused smile. "You just wait until you're all married! You just wait!" I warn, looking around at them all with the air of a wise man imparting a great secret. All this serves to do, however, is make them laugh all the harder, imitations of Molly and myself coming from every direction. However, a knock on the door silences all of us as we sit there, too terrified to move and open the door only to admit someone of the opposite sex - suppose it's Molly? Then again, maybe it's not, for, after a few tense moments, a voice speaks from behind the door.
"Listen, you idiots; it's me, Ginny. Now, can you please let me in?" A stunned silence remains for a few moments, a blush quickly suffusing all our faces instead; Fred, however, is the first to recover.
"Sorry 'bout that, Gin," he says, opening the door to reveal the youngest member of our clan, his cheerful features quickly changing into a gape of shock, making him look quite like the recent victim of a basilisk.
Just as I am about to question this sudden change in expression, the answer becomes apparent, as, slowly, Ginny comes into the room. I remember reading Ginny fairytale books when she was younger, the ones where the dashing prince always marries the beautiful princess. My daughter, my daughter, looked exactly like that princess - complete with crown.
"Mum's letting you wear those . . . those. . . ." Ron trails off, looking incredulous, as he gestures at the low-cut dress robes.
"They're called dress robes, Ron," Ginny responds, smirking slightly at Ron's outraged face, his ears growing steadily pinker. "And, yes, Mum's letting me wear them. She and Phl . . . Fleur picked them out together, actually," she amends with a solicitous glance at Bill. I smile to myself, knowing quite well Ginny's nickname of sorts for her brother's fiancée.
Ron, however, continues to mumble - quite unwisely - until Ginny again turns to him, her eyes sparkling with a knowledgeable, Molly-like gleam in them.
"Now, I want you to be perfectly honest with me, Ronald." Oh, no. I don't even have time to warn my youngest son as the finishes the question dreaded by every male in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds. "Does this dress make me look fat?"
Sweet 16 today
She's looking like her mama a little more everyday
One part woman, the other part girl.
To perfume and make-up from ribbons and curls
Trying her wings out in a great big world.
The final notes of the Weird Sisters song fade into silence as friends and family alike are invited to join my son and his new wife on the "dance floor." Improvisation does wonders. Once a simple clearing where the boys usually played Quidditch, it is now bedecked with streamers and balloons, courtesy of Molly and Fleur, along with several irritated-looking gnomes, the twins' own special gift to the newly-weds.
Wading through the crowd of well-wishers, I spot Molly, busy serving hors d'oeuvres to those souls who were cursed with two left feet, or, in the case of my youngest son, are busy avoiding a certain bushy-haired girl.
"Mr. Weasley!" Speak of the devil.
"Hello, Hermione," I greet, forcing my way through the crowd to reach both her and Ginny. Surprisingly, my daughter doesn't even seem to acknowledge my presence as I approach and sink into a folding chair beside her; instead, she is glaring fixedly at a corner of the clearing where, amid a cluster of Order members, a head of messy raven-black hair is visible. What in Merlin's name. . . .
Confused, I glance at Hermione as if for an explanation, but she, too diverts her eyes . . . toward the snack table. I allow myself a slight smile at the thought of Ron's future before turning back to the young woman beside me - the young woman who doesn't even seem to have noticed me, so focused is she on that head of raven hair. Hitching a smile on my face, I place a hand on her shoulder, hoping to break her from this unprecedented show of melancholy.
A slight flicker of her hazel eyes towards me is all I need. "Would you honor me with a dance, m'lady?" I ask, bowing my head slightly as I stand up and offer her my hand.
"I suppose so," Ginny replies, shrugging in a façade of nonchalance as she takes my proffered hand and allows me to lead her onto the "dance floor" where the Weird Sisters are playing a rather slow song. Thank Merlin, I don't think I could have kept up with all those new moves kids are doing these days.
Ignoring how old that makes me sound, I grasp Ginny around the waist and begin revolving slowly on the spot, thankfully in tune with all of the other couples on the floor.
"So," I begin, breaking the uneasy silence that had settled between us for several moments. "Erm . . . how are things between you and, er . . . Dean?"
Eyes widening, Ginny stares at me, confused until, "Didn't you know? We broke up."
"Oh. I'm sorry." I feel my ears burn scarlet.
She just shrugs. "It's alright, he was getting to be a bit of a prat, anyway. But, hey, at least I. . . ." Her mouth snaps shut and the trademark Weasley blush begins as she mumbles something about "Mum wanting me to save myself." However, despite her casual air, I sense a deep sadness in my daughter - for herself, for what's to come, for what has already come to pass.
"Ginny, honey?" I venture, looking deep into her hazel orbs, wishing more than anything that I could just heal her mind and get rid of all the bad thoughts, just like I would the bogeyman or monsters under the bed - only this threat is real, so much more real. "Ginny, is there anything you'd like to tell me?" Please, Ginny. Please let me help you.
"No, Dad, there isn't anything. Why would there be?" Her eyes are wide in confusion, though, this time, it isn't nearly as convincing.
"No reason. You just haven't been acting like yourself lately, is all."
"Oh. . . ."
"May I cut in?" I see Ginny visibly brighten as a soft yet determined voice breaks through the silence . . . before I turn to see, er . . . well, I can't remember his name at the moment. . . . Wait, he's Alice and Frank's son, isn't he . . . Nigel . . . Newell. . . .
"Hey, Neville," Ginny greets and, although she smiles at the chubby boy, I can't help but notice that her thousand-watt smile from only a few moments ago has faded somewhat.
"Hi, Ginny," the boy - Neville - replies. "Er . . . you look nice." Amused, I watch as he glances nervously at me, identifying me as "the father."
"Well, don't let me keep you," I say, smiling kindly and waving my hands in a shooing motion, hoping to alleviate the boy's fears.
Neville gives me a slight nod before turning to Ginny, waiting for her say-so to his unspoken query. As answer, she favors him with a smile then turns to me, darting forward to give me a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Thanks," she whispers and, before I have even started to formulate a reply, she has linked arms with Neville and walked off, perhaps faster than is strictly necessary.
Funny, that's the saddest thank you I've ever heard.
But I remember
Butterfly kisses after bedtime prayer; sticking
little white flowers all up in her hair.
"You know how much I love you, Daddy, But if you
don't mind I'm only gonna kiss you on the cheek this time."
Standing by the open window, I watch the sun set, fading rays almost seeming to set the tips of the trees aflame, a strange parallel with the slow strains of music drifting from the ongoing wedding. Groaning, I lower myself into my old armchair and toe off my shoes, allowing myself to relax in the sanctity of my own home, now free of the hustle and bustle of pre-wedding planning. . . .
Bang. The sound of the door slamming breaks me from my peaceful reverie. Eyes shooting open, I reach for my wand and, quickly and silently move to the door of the living room, ears straining for an unfamiliar tread, the swish of a cloak, or the utter of a curse. What I least expect to hear is a soft, strangled sob followed by a deep sniff and what I am able to identify as self-assuring murmurs. I know that voice, I'd know it anywhere. How many times had I pressed my ear to her tightly-closed door - when she thought she couldn't be heard, when she thought no one was listening - to hear her quickly-stifled sobs and the woes - oh, woes that seem so trivial now - of an agonizing adolescent?
Slowly, I push open the door, not at all surprised to see . . . Ginny, her face blotchy with tears and mascara, her eyes bloodshot, yet, somehow, inexplicably being able to maintain a kind of ethereal beauty.
"Ginny?" I ask gently, my voice soft and calming, almost afraid that my daughter - my own daughter - may lash out like a wild beast at any sign of a threat - even if it does happen to be her own father - that maybe, just maybe, might reveal whatever secrets she is hiding.
"Dad!" I watch as she swipes hurriedly at her cheeks, unheeding of the smeared makeup as she hoists a bright, fake smile onto her face, creating a wall between myself and her own raw - true - emotions of only a few moments prior. "Is there any butterbeer left in here? There's only firewhiskey outside and, well, I know Mum would go crazy if I had any." I can almost see the wall rebuilding itself brick by brick so that not even the flush of her cheeks can betray her.
"Ginny, honey, is there anything wrong?" Please say yes, please let me help you.
Slight shock and surprise register on her face for a moment before giving an airy laugh - one that comes out sounding quite forced - and waving me off with one of her usual witticisms - Fred and George are to blame, I swear. "Of course not, why would there be anything wrong . . . well, unless you count Phlegm joining the family? Now, how about that butterbeer?"
"Ginny." I place a hand on her shoulder as she turns toward the sanctuary of the kitchen and swivel her around to face me, my own blue eyes boring into her own hazel ones. I take a deep breath again, but words fail me at the last second and the unformed syllables come out instead as a funny choking sound. What am I supposed to say if she won't tell me what's wrong?
"Dad, are you okay?" Ginny's voice is worried and I am quite sure that this is no mere frontage.
I don't answer, but instead tighten my grip on her shoulder. "Ginny," I say again, hoarsely. "Ginny, you have grown into a truly amazing young woman, but I still think of you as the baby girl I held in my arms. I love you, Ginny and . . . and sometimes I still want to think of you as that baby girl." The words are tumbling out of my mouth, unplanned and unedited but oh, so true - much like my proposal to Molly, now that I think of it.
"I . . . I want to shield you from all of life's problems, to keep you from feeling the pain of death or . . . breaking up with a boyfriend," I continue doggedly, hardly noticing the slight flush of her cheeks. "But I know I can't . . . because there are some things that you have to deal with on your own, things your mother or I can't protect you from, that you have to learn on your own . . . because life isn't fair and . . . sometimes, not everything turns out alright. You know I can't promise you that . . . but, whatever does happen, happens because it was meant to be."
I can feel tears slipping down my own cheeks and I swipe at them irritably, no doubt mirroring my daughter's actions. However, as I look at her - truly look at her - I am surprised to see, not tears, but a grin, spreading across her face and I look at her bemusedly for a few moments before, with that odd grin still firmly in place, she lets loose a laugh - a totally free, unforced laugh.
"Er. . . ." My confusion only grows as I watch her wipe tears of mirth from her cheeks.
"Sorry," she says, still giggling. "It's just that . . . I thought you were going to tell me how babies were made or something!"
"That," I reply with a chuckle, "is a job best left for your mother."
With all that I've done wrong I must have
something right to love every morning
and butterfly kisses at night.
"Egbert?" I give a snort of laughter at the ill-disguised disgust in my youngest son's voice, hastily changing it into a cough as he shoots me an extremely dark glare. But I warned him, didn't I?: you just wait until you're all married!. "What type of name is Egbert?"
"Egbert is a very nice name even if you don't like it, Ron," Hermione snaps. Some things never change. "I have an Uncle Egbert," she continues, patting her bulging belly fondly.
"Hang on, wasn't he the one at the wedding who. . . ."
"Yes, Ron." Hermione's words are clipped as if she would rather not think about the incident that Uncle Egbert was involved in.
"We're not naming our son after a nutter like that!"
"He isn't a nutter, Ron!"
"Oh, and I suppose announcing that you're taking a piss during the ceremony is. . . ."
"He's old, that doesn't mean he's. . . ."
Whoosh. My son's and daughter-in-law's discussion is interrupted as a red-headed figure emerges from the fireplace, now blazing with emerald-green flames. A few moments later she is joined by a taller, bespectacled young man.
"Harry!" Ron cries, rushing over to his best friend. "Harry, mate, I need your help."
"His opinion, you mean," Hermione amends rather sharply.
My youngest son waves an airy hand at his wife, oblivious to the subtle change of vocabulary. "Harry, mate, would you say that Egbert - Egbert - is a good name for a boy?"
"Well . . . er. . . we. . . ." The twenty-year-old gestures helplessly between himself and my daughter.
"Remember 'Mione had an Uncle Egbert, you know, the bloke who. . . ."
"Ron, you're prejudicing him against it!"
"Oh, come on, you should at least know who we're naming the kid after before he's pushed into a decision." Ron glares pointedly at his wife.
"Pushed into a decision?" asks Hermione, swelling with indignation. "Exactly who is pushing him into a decision, Ronald? Harry, don't listen to him, I just want to hear what you think of the name." She fixes the raven-haired man with a smile and sits, hands folded, waiting for his verdict.
"Erm . . . well, see. . . ."
"And who's 'pushing him into a decision' now, Miss Hermione Granger?"
"No, I'm not, I just want to hear what he thinks! Now, Harry. . . ."
"Listen you idiots, we're getting married!" One could have heard a pin drop in the silence these words left as, as one we all swivel to see Ginny, her patent Weasley hair seeming to spark with electricity, though her face is alight with happiness.
Hermione, as is her wont, breaks it. With a shriek of girlish joy Hermione flings her arms around my daughter, already chattering nonstop about plans for the imminent wedding:
"Oh, Ginny, this is wonderful! Have you picked out bridesmaids' dresses yet? I saw these great ones in London when I went shopping with Mum the other day. . . . I expect that you may want me to be one, but, well . . . the doctor says that the baby will probably be born in late April, so if you set a date for the early summer. . . . Of course, it's all up to you two, but if it's in summer, you'll want to have a nice, light fabric for your wedding dress; I saw these great new styles in Witch Weekly last week. I'm pretty sure I still have it, let me just go and get it." And, with a purposeful stride that is reminiscent of her years as Hogwarts know-it-all, she leaves the room.
"So. . . ." Ron grins at my daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law, his radiant expression not altogether masking the shock still present in his pale blue eyes - shock that is mirrored in my own. Then, "Harry, mate, what do you think of the name Egbert?" Ron - ever the tactful one.
High-pitched screams from several floors above warn me that I have mere moments before my own congratulations are drowned by plans for the imminent wedding. I turn to the newly-engaged couple - Harry, who looks half-asleep as Ron expounds upon his "anti-Egbert" case and Ginny who, looking quite amused in the midst of her brother's fury, turns to face me.
I open my mouth to speak - "congratulations" sounds about right - but the words won't come, my suddenly dry mouth refusing to form the necessary syllables. And I know why - because "congratulations" isn't what I want to say, because, somehow, I feel as if I've lost something.
The silence stretches on, what I meant to say - that I'm supposed to say - hanging, invisible, in the air between us. The shrieks grow closer and I know that my chance has been lost as Molly flings open the door and utters the words I wish I'd said,
"My baby's getting married!"
All the precious time
Like the wind, the years go by.
Spread your wings and fly.
"Now, Ginny, dear, it's nothing. We can fix it in a jiffy."
Gratefully getting up from where I have been - unsuccessfully - trying to absorb myself in the Daily Prophet for the last half-hour, I go to the door of my daughter's dressing room and push it open.
"Is, er . . . everything alright in here?" I inquire, trying to sound casual as my gaze travels over Ginny, scrutinizing her heavily made-up face in the mirror and Molly, hands scrabbling frantically over the paraphernalia of makeup spread over the dressing table. Neither seem aware of my appearance, so imperative is their search for . . . well, for whatever it is Ginny needs - or rather, what she thinks she needs. Why, when she was younger, chapped lips and a wind beaten face were not causes of embarrassment, but simply there - testament to how much fun you could have before meddlesome parents inevitably called you in for dinner.
But that's the key point, isn't it? When she was younger. When she was simply Daddy's little girl, not anyone else's.
"Ah, ha!" Molly's triumphant voice breaks me from my reverie as she holds up a bottle marked 'Concealer.' With a furor unrivaled except perhaps by Molly herself, Ginny immediately snatches the bottle from her mother and dabs some of the . . . substance onto a spot on her chin, undoubtedly covering up some miniscule zit or blackhead - an imperfection that makes her so uniquely 'Ginny.'
Sighing in relief, she scrutinizes her reflection in the mirror, looking for any escaped mark or blemish upon her skin. . . .
"Arthur!" Turning to my wife, I see that she has finished with her organization of the numerous lotions and powders and, along with Ginny, is staring at me like I'm some sort of alien. "Arthur, why are you in here?" I blush faintly. After all, it was she who, however politely, asked me to stay out of the way while the last-minute pre-wedding arrangements were made - decorating, Floo-ing the florist, fixing up hair in those elegant knots that I can't for the life of me understand - a woman's or rather, a mother's job in all respects but one - giving my little girl away.
"I, erm . . . just wanted to make sure everything was alright," I explain, refusing to meet the eyes of my wife or daughter. Oh brilliant, Arthur. Yet, for some reason, it seems as if I've trespassed on something wrong . . . unseemly. For Merlin's sake, it's your own daughter!
Then, Ginny has stepped forward - some ambassador of sorts from one world to the other, the world between . . . what? Male and female? Childhood and adulthood? Or, perhaps, that intangible place where she stopped being daddy's little girl and became a man's beautiful young wife?
Heedless of her lips, shining with glossy coats of makeup, she reaches up and kisses my cheek. "Yeah, Dad," she says. "Everything's fine."
She'll change her name today.
She'll make a promise and I'll give her away.
Standing in the bride-room just staring at her.
She asked me what I'm thinking and I said "I'm not
sure - I just feel like I'm losing my baby girl."
She leaned over . . . gave me butterfly kisses with her mama there,
I don't know how long I sit there in that bride room, watching my daughter's last few moments as Miss Weasley - the majority of which involve asking me what I think of her hair, her makeup, her dress. . . .
"Ginny, honey, you look beautiful," I answer wearily for the tenth time in as many minutes. How many more until it is time, until I perform my last official fatherly duty?
I should feel liberated, I suppose, giving my youngest away to a man, a man no less that our family has known for nearly a decade now. Molly and I are free of all obligations now, there will be no more arguments about bedtimes and curfews, no more late-night vomiting to be cleaned up. The only thing we will have to worry about is how much we'll be able to spoil our grandchildren before a Fidelius Charm is performed for the sole purpose of keeping us - the doting grandparents - away.
However, oddly enough, I don't. I feel . . . betrayed. It's wrong, I know, but I can't help it. Here I am, having sacrificed over half of my life to my children and how do they repay me - by running off and starting families - lives - of their own! And . . . oh, Merlin, I'm starting to sound like Molly. . . .
"Dad?" Ginny's voice sounds concerned.
"Stunning, gorgeous, magnificent!" I exclaim, gesturing vaguely at my daughter while racking my brains for any synonym I haven't yet used.
A hastily stifled giggle, echoing unnaturally in the near-empty bride room, causes me to look up to see my daughter looking as nervous and somber as ever, as if this were a funeral instead of the greatest moment in her life thus far - her own wedding . . . the death of her childhood . . . and the birth of a new life. Oh, Merlin, this is depressing.
"Dad." Tearing myself away from my gloomy thoughts, I fix my complete attention upon my daughter, determined not to make the same mistake, to drink in my every moment with her before I must, inevitably, give her away.
As answer, she merely nods toward the door where the opening notes of the Bridal March can be heard, seeping under the door and filling the room like some sort of noxious gas.
Sticking little white flowers all up in her
"Walk me down the aisle, Daddy-it's just about time."
"Does my wedding gown look pretty, Daddy? Daddy, don't cry!"
People underestimate what we fathers do, I'm telling you. Yes, it was Molly who fed and nurtured them from infancy, who kissed their "boo-boos" and taught them right from wrong. Merlin, she was the one who brought them into the world in the first place, something I can't help but marvel at (in Charlie's case imagine squeezing a particularly fat and resistant garden gnome through a drinking straw).
Me, I was just their father who collected plugs and worked in an obscure Ministry department, who had to pick up extra hours to pay the bills and couldn't always be home for dinner, who, at times, my children denied their relationship to whenever I stared avidly at parking meters or ticket stiles. They are amazing though, really. . . .
But here I am, leading a beautiful young woman - my daughter - up the aisle to her waiting fiancé while having to fight the urge to grab her and lock her away for all eternity . . . or until every possible suitor has been scared off, take your pick.
I squeeze her hand, more to reassure myself that Ginny is still here with me - still mine - in these last few moments remaining to us and she smiles at me, face shining with happiness. I attempt one in return but find that the muscles in my face don't seem to be working properly. My entire body feels paralyzed, except for my legs, propelling me irreversibly toward my destination.
Vaguely, I wonder if this is what the Muggle death penalty feels like, having to willingly go to your waiting fate and not being able to do anything to change that. Nothing at all.
Oh, with all that I've done wrong I must have
done something right.
To deserve your love every morning and butterfly
kisses - I couldn't ask God for more, man this is what love is.
We near the altar as the organ music rises to an impressive crescendo. Glancing around, I scan over Hermione and Luna Lovegood, Ginny's bridesmaids, both dressed in periwinkle blue (Luna with a sunflower tucked behind one ear); over Ron, the best man, blue eyes suspiciously watery as he gazes at his sister. And then, finally, my eyes reach him, the bridegroom, the man of the hour - Harry.
Dressed in an immaculate black suit, he looks every inch the Prince Charming that Ginny has long made him out to be; even his usually untamable hair seems to have cooperated for the occasion. Narrowing my eyes, I scrutinize his face, almost looking for any telltale sign that he will be anything less than a faithful and devoted husband to my daughter - nervous fidgeting, glances toward another woman, perhaps - but instead see his emerald-green orbs focused solely on this young woman, shining with love for her. For now and for all time, in sickness and in health, till death do they part. . . .
"Dad." Ginny's voice is a whisper and I turn away from Harry to face my daughter. "Dad, let go." She nods toward my hand which is still maintaining a death grip on her own.
know I gotta let her go, but I'll always remember
every hug in the morning and butterfly kisses.
And I do.
Note: Wow, this has to be the longest one-shot I've ever written - eighteen pages and 7700 words! Come on, now, be nice - I give you a long story, you give me a nice, long review!
Note: To the readers of An Ironic Title, I'm working on Chapter 11 right now, so it should (hopefully) be up in the next few days unless I get bogged down by homework . . . again.
Note: And to anyone who liked this song fic, I have an idea for another one - a Remus/Tonks song fic. I'm not sure when it's going to be out because I want to finish An Ironic Title first, but be on the lookout for it. Anyway . . . now that I've finished advertising my stories . . . REVIEW!!!