Ask One Weasley…
…ask them all! Harry's intimate proposal to Ginny becomes a family affair.
"I have no doubt that these last seven years will prove to have been the most rewarding of your life," Headmistress McGonagall said, addressing the seventh-years with a nostalgic smile on her otherwise stern face. "You entered Hogwarts as young children with unlimited potential. You graduate as fine wizards and witches – and, most importantly, you enter a free world, one in which the threat of war is gone!"
Impromptu cheers rang out, and heads turned to shoot grins at Harry Potter. He was sitting at the end of the first row in the audience, fidgeting nervously, and at the unexpected attention he flushed and tried to sink into his seat.
As McGonagall resumed her commencement address and the focus was taken off Harry, he forced himself to straighten in his seat. He didn't grow more relaxed, however; his fidgeting increased.
"For heaven's sake, Harry, take your hand out of your pocket and pay attention!" Hermione whispered from the seat next to him.
He looked at her in alarm, and tried to pull out his hand, but the quick jerk disrupted the package he had been nervously gripping. It toppled out of his pocket and onto the lush green grass. Hermione took one look at the small, velvet black box and sucked in a breath. "Harry Potter! Is that what I think it is?" she whispered.
"Er-" he began, leaning down and scooping it up, stuffing it deep into his robe pocket.
"Because it looks an awful lot like the sort of box you would put an engagement ring in! In fact, I can't think of anything else it could be! And I know you and Ginny got back together right away after Voldemort died, and I know you've been together for a while, and I know things have been smooth and wonderful for you, but Harry! You're so young! She's so young! This is her graduation day! She has to start looking for a career and-"
"Hermione, she's got a job-"
"Well yes, but it's just a starter position, that job at the Ministry is quite prestigious, it's practically a ladder to the top-"
"Of course I would never interfere with that-"
"In fact, I wish I'd thought to apply there, although of course I doubt the position was open a year ago-"
"Not that it really matters, of course, because I'm perfectly happy with the Flourish and Botts job-"
"What are we talking about again?-"
"For the time being, of course, until I can begin my higher training-"
"Hermione!" Harry hissed.
She blinked in surprise. "Oh, yes. Well in any case, I know that you and Ginny would be amazing together, and of course that neither of you would let marriage get in the way of your careers, but I still feel that you're too young! Think of what Mrs. Weasley would say!" she finished breathlessly, forcing her voice back down to a whisper.
"Hey, you know Mrs. Weasley will be thrilled," Harry said with a slight grin. "And anyway, I'd figured we could plan on a long engagement period. It's just that Ginny has been so great through everything we've been through… and I know she's the one. I just know it. I had to break up with her once during the war, and I want to make it clear that I'm never running away again. She deserves that." He paused. "Hermione, are you crying?"
"Of course not," she said hastily, lifting her left hand and brushing away a tear. "Oh, Harry. I'm sorry for questioning you. I know you must have thought this through. You've never been anything but careful with Ginny. I think a long engagement period will be a great idea… and Ginny will be so happy."
They smiled at each other, then Harry continued hesitantly. "I… I asked Professor Lupin about my parents. How they got together. He told me it happened like this, on their graduation day."
"Ohh…" Hermione breathed. "That's so romantic, Harry! You're doing it just like your dad!"
"Well, not just like my dad," Harry said, smothering a laugh. "He did it while they were still onstage…"
Hermione's eyes got round.
"…right after his Head Boy speech…"
"…and during her Head Girl speech," Harry finished, grinning broadly at the story. Hermione shook her head, doubtless thinking about the disruption of a sacred school ceremony, and suddenly realizing that she had been neglecting McGonagall's speech. She gave Harry a fierce pinch on the arm, and faced forward again, a supremely innocent look on her face.
Harry shook his head and, continuing to be absorbed in his own thoughts, leaned forward slightly to look down the aisle. He did a double-take as he noticed that Hermione's other hand was gripping Ron's. Hermione, obviously aware of his scrutiny, tried to ignore him, but her face was turning pink. Ron's eyes were drooping shut as McGonagall droned on and Harry grinned; some things never changed.
Next to Ron were the twins, sitting as far away from their mother as they could manage; Harry just knew they had something up their sleeves. After all, they'd never gotten the chance to cause chaos at their own graduation; they would never miss the chance to make a scene at Ginny's, despite the death-threats they had received from their mother. They had donned expressions as artificially innocent as Hermione's and were batting their eyelashes at McGonagall, who was obviously aware of it and ignoring them with admirable determination.
After Fred and George came Charlie, looking excited; apparently he was in on the prank. Percy sat stiffly next to him, still a bit tense around his newly-reunited family. A scarred but healthy and happy Bill sat with Fleur's hand in the crook of his arm. Fleur and Mrs. Weasley were both sniffling and misty-eyed; Harry was still amazed at the sudden turn-about in the Weasleys' attitude toward Fleur. It was part of the family's good nature: Fleur had proved herself by sticking with Bill through the worst times in his life, and now she was virtually (and legally) a member of the clan. She and Mrs. Weasley had especially bonded through her wedding preparations. Harry was a bit nervous at the way they were sure to take over his and Ginny's wedding, even though – or perhaps especially because – it was so far in the future.
Of course, he thought, gulping, I'm assuming they'll be glad I asked Ginny to marry me, and they don't think she's too young! The Weasleys were a formidable, over-protective bunch. Harry winced at the thought of what they'd gladly do to him, their close friend, if they thought their darling baby sister was being violated.
And I'm assuming that she'll say yes! Harry's subconscious screamed at him, but he pushed that thought firmly aside. Of course she would say yes; he was confident that she felt the same way, and she'd certainly told him as much in no uncertain terms.
Mr. Weasley, on the end, was avidly paying attention, and clapping each time McGonagall paused. His eyes rested proudly on his youngest child and only daughter.
Harry turned to face her at last, to meet her eyes squarely. Her pretty lips curved into a smile that he knew was just for him, and he grinned widely back. She'd been staring at him, he suspected for the whole time he was studying the Weasley family. He just hoped that she hadn't noticed his tussle with the box.
Suddenly everyone around him erupted in cheers, whistles, and catcalls. He was jolted back to reality: McGonagall had concluded the ceremony, releasing the students from the halls of Hogwarts. Ginny belatedly stood with the rest of her classmates, tossing her hat high in the air.
With a loud Bang, fireworks erupted from all around the stage. The patented Weasley's Wildfire Whiz-Bangs went spiraling high into the air, incinerating half the graduate's hats and causing multiple explosions. A second later, the flowers tastefully decorating the stage began shedding their petals, which went flying into the air and multiplied. The graduates were buried in a flowery layer within seconds.
Mrs. Weasley shot out of her seat, looking ready to explode, but Fred and George had long since crawled under their seats and back a few rows, anticipating their mother's wrath. She turned on Charlie immediately: "You were sitting next to them with that grin on your face, I know you were in on this-"
Charlie, a full grown man who dealt with dragons on a regular basis and who had been a member of the Order of the Phoenix, cowered in his seat and lied. "I had no idea they were planning this!"
Hermione was shaking her head, trying unsuccessfully to hide the grin on her face. Ron had been shocked awake and was smirking at Charlie's misfortune. Bill reached out and captured a handful of flower petals, strewing them lovingly on his wife's lap.
As the graduates streamed off the stage, Ginny made a beeline for Harry, tackling him clear off his seat.
"Congratulations, Miss Weasley," Headmistress McGonagall said, sweeping by and, like Hermione, trying to pretend that she disapproved of Fred and George's festivities.
"Thanks, Professor!" Ginny said promptly, then turned her attention to Harry. She kissed him full on the mouth for a long minute before breaking away and grinning cheekily at him. "Glad you could make it," she teased, climbing off him and scrambling to her feet. She reached out a hand to help him up, but he remained on the ground, stumbling to his knees and reaching into his pocket.
"Ginny," he said, his mouth suddenly dry. He swallowed. "Ginny," he began again, pulling out the box and opening it, offering her the ring. He hadn't prepared a speech in advance, because he knew he didn't want to sound stiff; he wanted the proposal to come right from his heart. "I love you, Ginny. I already know that there's no one else I'd rather spend my life with; you'll always be the only one for me. Will you-"
He stopped, because that wasn't Ginny. She was standing in front of him with her mouth hanging open. "OH, HARRY!" the voice screamed again.
A second later, someone tackled him, pulling him into a giant embrace. He just managed to hang onto the box, snapping it closed so he wouldn't lose the ring. "Harry, Harry, Harry," the person hugging him sobbed.
"Er- Mrs. Weasley?"
"Harry, Harry, Harry!"
"Molly?" Mr. Weasley asked mildly, coming up behind them. "I was under the impression that Ginny was the one who graduated?"
"Look!" she cried happily, loosening her hold on Harry long enough to snatch the box from him and hold it up for Arthur to see. After a moment of shock, he said heartily, "Well, congratulations, my boy! I always thought-"
"Harry!" Fred cried, appearing out of nowhere.
"Old chap!" George chimed in, hovering over his mother's shoulder.
"Always knew you had it in you!"
"Welcome to the family!"
With that, they pounced on him. Harry had just started to pull away from Molly Weasley when he felt the twins land on him. Gasping for breath, he went down.
"Harry and Ginny are getting MARRIED?" he heard Ron shriek. A second later, the entire lawn broke into cheers, whistles and catcalls. Ron leaned over to shake Harry's hand, but tripped over his brothers and pinned Harry to the earth.
"Honestly, Ronald," Hermione sighed, going over to help him. Harry managed to look up just in time to see Fred and George exchange a mischievous look, and before he knew what happened Hermione was sprawled on top of both he and Ron.
"Oof!" Harry choked. "Hermione – can't breathe-"
"Oh, lighten up, Harry," Ron said cheerfully, who was obviously enjoying the whole thing. "But congratulations, mate! I'm really happy for you. Ginny couldn't have done better – OW! Okay, Hermione, get off."
Her flailing limbs had caught him in the side of the head. He shoved at her, but the three of them just ended up toppling over. "Oh, honestly," Hermione sighed irritably. "Fred and George, I've got a few very special hexes, just for you-"
"Hey, Harry," Charlie said cheerfully, planting a boot on Ron's back and making it impossible for any of them to stand up. "Nice going. It'll be good to have you with us."
In the background, Mrs. Weasley was still wailing with pleasure. "My baby girl, in love and about to get married to the most wonderful boy! Why, I still remember the first time we saw him, lost and alone in that train station, not knowing anything about the wizarding world, and SO POLITE, I think I knew right then that he was the one for Ginny-"
"OOF!" Harry and Ron shouted in unison as two more bodies landed on top of their own.
"Hermione!" Ron shouted.
"Ron, it's not Hermione on us, she's gotten up and is standing over there," Harry tried to explain, looking upside-down at Hermione's feet.
"Yeah, but it was her that set the Tripping Jinx on Fred and George," Ron groaned from underneath his brothers.
"Well, they were supposed to trip the other way," Hermione said defensively.
"Can't just say 'my mistake,' can she?" Ron muttered.
"Aw, you know you love it, little brother," George teased.
"I've got to admit, I'm impressed she pulled that on us," Fred added. "Yup, she'll be a fine addition to the family, that Hermione."
"Excuse me!" Hermione hissed, looking nervously at Mrs. Weasley. "One wedding at a time, please!"
"That summer, I remember how the poor dear arrived at our house in the middle of the night, and Ginny was so shocked to see him there she ran clear out of the room! The sweetest thing you ever did see! And then in Ginny's very first year at Hogwarts, that terrible incident, but Harry saved her! That was the beginning of their life together-"
"'Arry!" Fleur swooped down and grabbed his face, her surprisingly strong grip lifting the upper half of his body out of the mess. She kissed him on both cheeks, then abruptly released him, letting him clunk back to the ground.
"Good one, kid," Bill said cheerfully, bending down and patting his face quickly.
"Harry, chap," Percy said primly. "I appreciate the current and future care that you do and, doubtless, will show for my sister, although I do wonder if you ought to get off the ground now."
Mrs. Weasley made another dive for Harry, but had to pull her youngest three sons off of him first. Taking advantage of the distraction, Harry managed to crawl off to the side and scramble to his feet.
"Mister Potter." McGonagall touched his shoulder. He nearly jumped a foot backwards, but caught himself in time. "Congratulations on your decision. I believe it is a good one, and I wish you and Miss Weasley all the best together."
Harry was so happy that she wasn't insane he nearly hugged her. "Thanks, Professor. Er- Headmistress," he added hastily.
She smiled at him, her stern face relaxing into a look of honest pleasure. He awkwardly shook her hand, then turned around.
All six Weasley brothers were gathered around him, honing in, a circle from which he could not escape. Harry gulped.
"Now, Harry," Charlie said with a straight face. "I believe it's time for the traditional threatening. If you hurt our precious baby sister – if you even think of hurting our precious baby sister – well, remember," he leered, leaning in close, "I work with dragons."
"I know some nasty goblin traps," Bill added, smirking.
Not to be outdone, George butted in. "And we don't have to remind you the contents of our store."
"A thousand practical jokes," Fred said solemnly, "All waiting to be unleashed on you."
"I'll just wring your neck," Ron said half-heartedly, still beaming.
They all looked at Percy, who simply looked back. "What?" he said defensively. "I'm certainly not going to threaten Harry! I would hardly stoop so low as to-"
"And Perce will hit you on the head with a cauldron," Fred interrupted blithely.
"A thick-bottomed cauldron, mate," George added.
"Of course it'll be a thick-bottomed cauldron, George," Fred said, grinning widely. "The new regulations pushed through at the Ministry outlaw thin-bottomed ones. It's impossible to get your hands on one now."
"And of course, Percy would never hit anyone on the head with an illegal cauldron," George concluded.
Harry shoved Weasley heads aside until he caught sight of Ginny. She was still standing where he had proposed to her, still looking slightly shocked. "Ginny?" he asked gently.
"Oh- Harry!" This time, thankfully, it was Ginny who said that, catching her bottom lip between her teeth and beaming at him. Her entire face lit up and Harry's heart soared.
"Ginny, will you-" he groped in his pocket before realizing, of course, he'd dropped it in the general confusion. "Oy!" he bellowed. "Who's got the ring?"
"Oops!" Percy said quickly, thrusting the box at Harry.
"Right then." Harry took a deep breath, gathering what remained of his dignity, and sinking to his knees once again. "Ginny – not you, Fred and George, or Bill or Charlie or Percy-" ("I had nothing to do with this!" Percy said defensively) "-or you, Ron, even though you're my best mate, and I'm sorry Mrs. and Mr. Weasley, but not you either – only you, Ginny Weasley – will you marry me?" he finished hopefully, out of breath.
"You mean you don't want to marry all my brothers?" Ginny asked mockingly, batting her eyelashes and finally regaining her composure. "You have to understand, Harry, that asking one Weasley means asking them all. Unless, of course, it's anything remotely exciting, like joining the Order or fighting Voldemort," she added, eyes flashing at her parents, "in which case I'll just be told to stay home!"
Harry had visualized this day for the last two months, and he was bewildered at the ease with which everything had gone astray. Not wrong, he clarified to himself. Just astray. And I think I could get used to that. He stood back up, reaching out for Ginny's hand and carefully sliding the engagement ring onto her finger. As he reluctantly pulled back, he leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Thanks."
"Thank me after it's all over," Ginny murmured back, looking down at the ring. "Oh, Harry, it's huge." She shot Harry a you-shouldn't-have look. "You expect me to wear something that'll weigh my whole hand down?" she joked.
"Charm it featherweight!" Charlie, Fred, George, Bill and Percy bellowed at once.
"Heh," she grinned, nudging the ring firmly into place. "By the way, Harry…" she looked him straight in the eyes, affection glimmering all over her face. "Yes."