"I mean, she's just his fiancee..."
"...he's not supposed to care about her..."
Ginny Weasley prodded her brothers. "Stop that. They're embarrassed enough as it is – don't make it worse."
"Don't make it worse, she says," Fred commented to his twin. "As if it could get any worse." He pawed at his face in a mockery of distress. "Public displays of affection from the Weasleys!"
"I didn't see you being all that proper towards Angelina last week in Diagon Alley," Ginny said with as much sweetness as she could manage. The night had been utterly boring, full of stuffy diplomats and people from the Ministry of Magic who weren't Aurors and generally weren't very interesting.
Her brothers were the only bright spot of entertainment. That, and watching people drift carefully around Remus Lupin and his wife. Werewolves might be legal these days, but they weren't necessarily liked.
Fred waved a hand about. "That wasn't at a public function, dearest Virginia. Whereas ickle Ronniekins..."
"...is manhandling poor Hermione in full view of the wizarding world..." George continued, dramatically.
"...and enjoying every minute of it."
"She doesn't seem to object." Indeed, Hermione was making a concerted effort not to laugh at whatever Ron was saying. It looked like she was failing miserably.
"My dear Virginia," George said, taking the lead, "It is not Hermione's place to object!"
"Merely to endure..."
"...as befits the wife-to-be of such a distinguished young gentleman!"
"Although we're not necessarily saying Ron is distinguished," Fred added, thoughtfully.
"And if you ever tell him we told you so, we'll offer Colin Creevy a lifetime's worth of Love Potion Number Five and the cutoffs from your last haircut!"
"...the point is not that Hermione should object but that Ron should know how to behave in the first place!"
Ginny rolled her eyes at them. "I think it's sweet," she said. "Besides, Mum and Dad are 'manhandling' each other – see?" She pointed to their parents who were staring into each others' eyes as they danced slowly, little smiles touching the faces.
"Setting a bad example," George declared, quite undeterred by his sister's observations. "Terrible! Now, note the Malfoys?"
Draco and Pansy Malfoy were behaving like complete strangers to each other. Although they were required to dance, there was no warmth in their expressions, no tenderness in their movements – it looked, to Ginny's biased gaze – as if the couple had met only thirty minutes earlier.
"See, now that's the proper comportment of a gentleman with his wife. None of this whispering of sweet nothings into her ear!"
"Lowering the standards of wizarding-kind."
"Next thing you know, we'll be marrying Muggles!"
"Merlin help us all!"
Ginny blinked as the unfamiliar word registered in her mind. "Uxorious?"
Her brothers stopped, identical expressions of mock astonishment on their faces. "Is it possible, George?"
"Apparently so, Fred. To think that our little sister has not..."
"...oh the shame of it! What are they teaching Hogwarts graduates these days..."
"The quality of Wizarding education has been irreparably damaged..."
They'd reached the end of her patience. She wasn't going to take it one moment longer. "If you don't stop this right now and tell me what that word means, then I'm going to hex both of you."
They got a little more serious at the threat. She'd hexed them before using a couple of curses she and Hermione had developed over the summers as a deterrent against the boys playing pranks on them. They were very effective – and irreversible; the only way to be rid of the pustules was to wait for them to wear off, as Marietta Edgecombe had learned to her cost back in Ginny's fourth year.
And all the Weasleys were tall. There were plenty of places to grow pustules.
"It means..." Fred began.
"...to be excessively or dotingly fond of one's wife," George finished triumphantly.
"I don't see how you could be too fond of your wife," Ginny said.
"Spoken true as any woman unwed."
"Take a look at poor Penny." Fred took her shoulders and turned her so she was facing in the appropriate direction.
Percy's red Weasley hair stuck out quite clearly in the crowd, and the black bob of his wife's hair shone darkly in the candlelight.
"What about Penny?"
"With Perfect Perce waiting on her hand and foot, what's a woman to do?"
And, indeed, Penelope Weasley did look long-suffering under the attentions of her husband, who was talking to her animatedly while filling her plate.
"Yes, but Percy's not...that thing you said...so much as just...boring," Ginny pointed out. She loved her brother – but of all her siblings, she had the most trouble actually spending time with Percy, mostly because she never got a word in edgewise when she talked to him. "Do you really think that Perce is 'uxorias'?"
"Uxorious," George corrected her. "You really should get it correct, you know, dear Virginia."
"But, no, we don't think Perfect Prefect Percy is uxorious, since it's really quite obvious that..."
"...the only person Perce really adores..."
"Although we figure Penelope does come a very close second."
They grinned at each other, then back at her.
Ginny rolled her eyes at her brothers' antics. "You two are terrible."
Fred smirked. "You ever had any doubt about it?"
The dance ended, and Ron and Hermione made their slow way back to the table, talking to the various people they encountered as they moved through the room. Fred and George had turned their interest to other people at the Ministry Ball, so Ginny watched her brother and one of her best friends stroll across the room.
The last stretch of their walk was unimpeded by elderly wizards or witches intent on congratulating the Ministry's young 'wonder-couple' – the Auror-in-training and the Spell-maker – on their forthcoming nuptials.
The youngest Weasley observed as Ron elbowed Hermione in the ribs and made an affectionate comment. She gave him a 'look' and a deliberately superior smile, before replying with a poke to his shoulder. Whatever she said, Ron laughed out loud and wrapped an arm around her, resting his cheek against the top of her head. Hermione grinned, her teeth shining in her broadly curving mouth.
Ginny didn't know if it classified as 'uxorious'.
But it was certainly very sweet.
- fin -