So, I've finally hit the "complete" button on this story! I can't believe how popular it has been, and I'm very grateful for all the kind words about it.
This is the longest chapter yet. I hope you like it!
(AU/SU of course - don't like, don't read!)
VI. Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri
The very last wedding of all was Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri's, and I remember that really well 'cos it was only a couple of months ago. It definitely wasn't what Granny would call a "Proper Wedding", and I think even Maman didn't really approve, but it was great fun, and I think it was my favourite of all the weddings that I remember.
We thought it was just going to be an ordinary Saturday. It was really sunny, even early in the morning, and the twins were being grumpy 'cos they wanted to go to the beach but Dad said we couldn't go until later. And Remus was looking at a picture book about dragons and kept asking Dad questions about them. (And Dad couldn't answer half of them and kept telling him to wait till he saw Uncle Charlie and ask him, and Remus was complaining he wouldn't see him for ages and ages and he wanted to know the answers now, which was a bit funny when you think about what happened next.) And me and Sharlie were playing Helter Skelter Hippogriffs (which is a really old game that we found in the attic at Granny and Grandad's), and Sharlie kept saying I was cheating (although I wasn't much) and moaning to Dad about it. And Dad was getting cross with us, 'cos he was trying to read The Prophet, but we kept interrupting him. And Maman was still in bed, 'cos she wasn't feeling very well (that's because she's going to have more twins, but at least it's going to be girls this time).
And then there was a knock on the window, and when we looked up there was Uncle Charlie, grinning like anything, with Owen in his arms, and Auntie Eleri and Will were behind him, and behind her were two people I didn't know, though the man looked a lot like Auntie Eleri, with a little girl about the same age as Owen and Art and Gabe, and a little tiny baby (really tiny I mean, even littler than Uncle George and Auntie Katie's twins Andrew and Michael, who were our littlest cousins then, only now Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri have David, who is littler).
And Dad jumped up and opened the back door to let them in, and Uncle Charlie introduced the people we didn't know, who were Auntie Eleri's brother Idris (who works with Uncle Charlie at the dragon place) and his wife Yelena and their children Irina and baby Maria. And Dad shook hands with Auntie-Eleri's-brother-Idris, and said, "We've met, I think, when Charlie got attacked by that Horntail." And Remus said, "You got attacked by a Horntail Uncle Charlie?" as if it was a really good thing to do, and Uncle Charlie said "Yeah, but it wasn't a good idea. Don't do it, Remus." And Dad said, "I'm glad you're here, Charlie. Remus has been asking questions about dragons all morning, and I can't answer them." (Granny says Remus is even madder about dragons than Uncle Charlie was when he was five, and you'd think he was Uncle Charlie's son, not Dad's.) So Remus said, "Uncle Charlie, how many eggs does a Welsh Green lay at once, and is a Swedish Shortsnout or a Russian Red bigger, and are Hungarian Horntails really that fierce?" and Uncle Charlie said, "Three to five, a Russian Red, and yes," and laughed and picked Remus up and swung him round and said, "We'll make a dragon handler of you yet." And Sharlie said, "Can I hold the baby, can I hold the baby, can I hold the baby?" over and over again, 'cos she's mad about babies, though you'd think she'd be fed up of them 'cos there's so many of them in our family, until Auntie-Eleri's-brother's-wife-Yelena heard her and said "Off coursse you can, my dear." (And she spoke English in a funny foreign way, though not the same way as Maman and Grandmère and Grandpère and Tante Gabrielle and Oncle Guillaume and our other French relatives do.) And Sharlie sat down and Auntie-Eleri's-brother's-wife put the baby in her arms. And then Maman came down to see what all the noise was about, and Uncle Charlie had to introduce Auntie-Eleri's-brother-Idris-and-his-wife-Yelena-and-their-children-Irina-and-Maria all over again.
And everyone found somewhere to sit, which meant all of us kids were on the floor ('cept Sharlie 'cos she was still holding the baby) 'cos our kitchen really isn't big enough for – let's see – fifteen people. And Dad was making tea for the grown-ups, and Maman was pouring pumpkin juice for us bigger kids and milk for the little ones, and then Uncle Charlie said, "So are you lot doing anything today?"
And Dad looked at Maman, and she shook her head and Dad said, "No. Are you going to change that?" And Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri and Uncle Idris and Auntie Yelena (they said we should call them that) all laughed. And Auntie Eleri said, "We are rather. We're getting married."
And Dad said, "What?" and dropped the teapot on the floor, and Maman said something in French, that I didn't hear properly, but I think it was rude, and everyone laughed, and Auntie Eleri Reparo'd the teapot and cleared up the tea on the floor and went to make more, and Uncle Charlie said, "We're getting married. Have you got a problem with that?" And Dad started laughing and said no, of course he hadn't, and Maman said, "Today?" as if she didn't quite believe it, and Uncle Charlie said, yes, today at twelve o'clock, was that okay?
And Dad said, "Are you telling anyone else?" and Uncle Charlie said no, they'd just turn up at The Burrow tonight and tell everyone then. ('Cos we all go to Granny and Grandad's on most Saturday evenings, those of us who live in England, that is, so Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri and their kids don't usually go, 'cos they don't.)
And Maman sat down, looking like she couldn't stand up any more, and she said, "You realise zat your muzzer is going to keell you, don't you?"
And Uncle Charlie grinned and shook his head, and said, "No, that's the clever bit, you see. She'll say Bill should've stopped us, so if she murders anyone, it'll be him."
And Maman laughed, and said. "So you are expecting me to go along wiz a plan zat will get my 'usband keelled?"
And Uncle Charlie said, "Pretty much, yeah!"
And Dad said that didn't feel very fair to him, and then Gabe started crying and said he didn't want Granny to kill Daddy, and he had to be calmed down by Maman and told that it was just a joke (probably).
So then everyone had to rush round finding things to wear, and I wore my blue dress that Auntie Katie bought me. (Auntie Katie always buys me and Sharlie and Georgina and Rosie and Lily really nice clothes, because she says it's more fun buying clothes for girls than boys, and she only has Freddie and Eddie and her twins who are all boys.) And Sharlie put on her really old jeans and her bright green tee-shirt and her pink lace-up boots (Uncle Charlie bought her those – Sharlie likes that sort of thing much more than the pretty dresses that Auntie Katie buys us), and when Maman saw her she said she couldn't possibly wear that to a wedding. But Auntie Eleri (who was wearing a really gorgeous red and white dress, with plenty of room for David, who was still in her tummy then) said it was her wedding, and she thought Sharlie looked nice, and anyway she didn't care what anyone wore as long as they were happy. So Dad said in that case he was wearing his old dragon skin jacket, and Maman made a face and said something under her breath in French (and I heard her properly that time, and it definitely was rude).
And finally everyone was ready, and Maman said, "Where are we going, anyway?" and Uncle Charlie said, "Good point," and said we were going to a place in Snowdonia (that's in Wales – I expect they wanted somewhere in Wales 'cos of Auntie Eleri being Welsh) called The Black Cat. And then it all got very complicated working out which kids were Flooing with which adults, and Maman said she didn't want to Floo because… and then she stopped, and Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri laughed, and Uncle Charlie said, "Another one? How many do you two intend to have?" (Because he knew that Maman is sick if she Floos when she's pregnant.) And Dad made a face at him, and said, "Another two, actually. We seem to be catching up with Mum and Dad," and Uncle Charlie said, "Good luck, mate!" So then it got really complicated, and Dad had to Floo to the place in Wales with the twins (Remus went with Uncle Idris and me and Sharlie with Uncle Charlie), and then he had to come back again to take Maman by Side-along Apparition ('cos she Splinches herself if she Apparates when she's pregnant).
And finally we all got there, and The Black Cat was a really nice restaurant and it was in the middle of the most gorgeous scenery with mountains all round it and a river running by it and flowers everywhere. And they had a big room at the back where they do weddings with great big French windows opening out into the garden, and the room was full of flowers so it was a bit like the garden didn't know where to stop. And Uncle Charlie got a little box out of his pocket and gave it to Dad and said, "You need that. You're the best man." And Dad said, "Am I? Aren't you supposed to ask me, not tell me?" but he didn't look like he minded at all really, and Uncle Charlie said, "Consider yourself asked."
And then the Regiwizard came in, and he looked a bit surprised that there weren't many people, and he kept looking at the door as if he expected someone else to turn up, till Uncle Idris told him no one else was coming. And he had a funny sing-songy Welsh voice (much more than Auntie Eleri and Uncle Idris) which made me and Sharlie giggle. And he said, "So are you ready to start then?" and Uncle Charlie looked at Auntie Eleri and said, "Are we sure about this, love?" and she kissed him and said, "Of course we are Charlie, you're not chickening out now."
So we all gathered round in a big sort of clump of people with Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri in the middle with Will and Owen in front of them, and the Regiwizard said some stuff, and so did Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri, and Dad gave Uncle Charlie the rings when the Regiwizard told him to, and Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri put them on each other's fingers and the Regiwizard said they were married now, and all the rest of us clapped and cheered (and considering there weren't many of us, we made an awful lot of noise).
And then another wizard came in with a camera and asked if they wanted photos taken, and Uncle Charlie said "no" at first, but then Maman said Granny would be less likely to kill anyone if she at least got to see some pictures, so they let the man take some pictures. First he took some of just Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri, and then some of them with Will and Owen, and then some of all of us together.
And then we went into another room ('cos someone else was waiting to come into the wedding room, and then they had loads and loads of people with them, but they didn't look like they having as nice a time as we were) and we had the best lunch ever. First of all we had fish and chips, and then we had ice cream and then we had chocolate cake (and I had three slices, but Maman wouldn't let me have four because she said I'd be sick). And everyone was talking and laughing, and us kids were playing chase and crawling under the table but none of the grown-ups minded at all.
And then we went outside while the grown-ups drank coffee, and us kids paddled in the little river and we tried to make a dam with stones to stop the river running and make a little lake, but every time me and Sharlie and Will and Remus got it nearly right, one of the little kids would move a stone and muck it up again. And then Art slipped over and he grabbed Owen and Owen grabbed me and I grabbed Will, and we all fell over and got really wet. And Art and Owen were crying, and I was yelling at Art because it was his fault, and Will was yelling at me because he said it was my fault (though it wasn't), and Gabe and Irina started crying too, and Dad and Uncle Charlie and Uncle Idris came and pulled us out of the stream, and they were all laughing, and they got nearly as wet as we were, and Maman and Auntie Eleri and Auntie Yelena got their wands out and dried us all – though it took them a while because they were laughing too much to do the spell properly first time.
But the people from the other wedding (the one with loads of people, and it was much posher – everyone was dressed up like in the pictures of Uncle Percy and Aunt Penelope's wedding) were glaring at us because we were being so noisy, and I heard one really snooty witch (who looked a bit like Auntie Muriel, but not quite as old) say something about "some people can't take anything seriously", which didn't make much sense to me, because I thought weddings were supposed to be happy and we were only having fun.
And then this really ugly wizard glared at us, and I could see him looking at Dad, and he muttered something (only loud enough for us to hear, and I think he meant us to) about, "What so you expect from people like that? Clearly a werewolf. Shouldn't be allowed to associate with decent people," and suddenly everyone stopped being happy, and Dad looked upset, and Maman and Auntie Eleri looked angry, and Uncle Charlie looked so mad I thought he was going to hit the ugly wizard, only Dad grabbed his arm and said, "Don't Charlie, it's not worth it," in a flat sort of voice. But no one though to grab hold of Sharlie, and she went right up to the man and said, "Don't you talk about my Daddy like that. He's not a werewolf, and even if he was he'd still be nicer than you, you horrid man!" And the man looked like he didn't know what to say, and Maman said, "Charlotte, viens ici!" but she wasn't cross like she usually is when she calls Sharlie by her full name, 'cos she hugged her and gave her a kiss. And Dad said, "Perhaps we ought to go," but Auntie Eleri got a look on her face that means there's no point at all in arguing with her, and she said, "Absolutely not. It's our wedding day, and I'm not going to let idiots like that spoil it." And she waved to the waiter-man and asked him for more ice creams, and we all sat back down at the table and ate them, and Maman told Auntie Eleri that if we were all sick it would be her fault, but Auntie Eleri said ice cream was too nice to make anyone sick, and anyway she wouldn't let anyone be sick on her wedding day, which made us all laugh, though Dad still looked upset and I could see he and Maman were holding hands under the table.
And then Uncle Charlie asked me and Sharlie if we minded that they hadn't had a proper wedding so we could be bridesmaids, but we said we didn't 'cos we're going to be bridesmaids for Tante Gabrielle (that's Maman's sister) when she gets married to Oncle Guillaume after Christmas. (And Guillaume is French for William, which is Dad's proper name, and I do think it's funny that Maman and her sister should marry men with the same name). And Uncle Charlie said, "Obviously no one's told your aunt about Uncle Harry and Auntie Ginny's wedding," and Maman and Dad and Auntie Eleri all laughed, and Uncle Charlie told Uncle Idris and Auntie Yelena about how me and Sharlie had a fight when we were supposed to be being bridesmaids (which was a bit mean of him, 'cos it was ages ago, and we were only little). And then Uncle Idris and Auntie Yelena told us how they got married in a real proper castle in Transylvania, and how they had over three hundred people there, 'cos Auntie Yelena has got such a big family. She's got five sisters and eight brothers which makes Dad's family with just six of them (or seven really counting Dead Uncle Fred) seem quite small. And then they wanted to know about Maman and Dad's wedding, and Dad said it was quite ordinary really compared to theirs, and Uncle Charlie rolled his eyes and said, "What about the Death Eaters turning up at the end? D'you call that ordinary?" And Dad said, oh yeah, he'd forgotten about them. And by that time, the nasty people from the other wedding had gone back inside, and everyone was smiling properly again, even Dad.
And then Maman looked at her watch and said that if we were going to Granny and Grandad's we needed to get going. And Uncle Charlie said they'd come in an hour or so when they were sure that everyone would be there (even Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione, who are always late). So Maman and Dad and me and Sharlie and Remus and the twins went to The Burrow. (And we went by Floo, and me and Sharlie are allowed to go on our own when it's somewhere like The Burrow that we've been to before, but Dad had to come back after he'd taken the boys and Side-along Maman again.)
And before we went Uncle Charlie made us promise that we wouldn't say anything to Granny or Grandad or anyone else about him and Auntie Eleri getting married because it would Spoil The Surprise. And we all promised, but when we got to The Burrow, it was really hard not to say anything 'cos it had been such fun and it was so exciting, and all us kids kept giggling, and I could tell that even Maman and Dad were trying hard not to laugh. And Granny kept giving us looks like she knew something was going on. And I heard Maman whispering to Dad that they might have to put silencing charms on us to stop us saying something, and Dad said she might have to put one on him before too long as well.
And then Uncle Ron and Aunt Hermione with Rosie and baby Hugo arrived, and everyone was there, and Granny said it was time to eat, but she kept looking at us suspiciously while she was dishing up the dinner, and I could see she was going to say something sooner or later, and then she put down the serving spoon and looked at Dad really sternly and said, "William Weasley, what is going on?" And Uncle George laughed and said, "She's full-naming you, Bill. Are you scared?" And Dad looked at Granny and said, "Nothing, Mum," (and considering how old he is, it was really weird 'cos he sounded just like Remus or Freddie or James when they've done something wrong but won't admit it), and Granny glared at him, and I could tell she didn't believe him. And then (thank goodness!) there were some cracks in the yard, and Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri walked in with Will and Owen, with Uncle Idris and Auntie Yelena and their kids behind them. And Uncle Charlie said, "Hi, Mum, hi Dad, hi everyone," in this really matter-of-fact tone of voice, like everyone had been expecting them all along, and went to kiss Granny. And Auntie Eleri introduced Uncle Idris and Auntie Yelena and Irina and Maria to everyone, and they looked very confused by all the names, and Uncle Ron said, "I hope you're taking notes. You will be tested on this later," and everyone laughed. And Grandad looked at Dad and said, "So is this the big secret that you were all keeping, Bill?" and Dad said, "Something like that, yeah," (which wasn't quite a lie).
And Granny sent Uncle Percy to expand the dining room a bit more and magic some more chairs, and she finished dishing up the dinner and we all sat down to eat, and Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri still didn't say anything about being married, and me and Sharlie couldn't even look at Uncle Charlie because every time we did he winked at us and made us giggle. And Granny was looking even more like she knew something was going on than she did before, only now she was giving Uncle Charlie sideways looks instead of Dad, but Uncle Charlie just kept on eating and talking like he hadn't noticed, and then I started laughing because I just couldn't help it, and that started Sharlie and Remus and the twins and Will and Owen laughing too, and then Maman and Dad and Uncle Idris and Auntie Yelena started, and then even Auntie Eleri did, but Uncle Charlie didn't laugh at all he just carried on eating. And everyone else stopped eating and looked at us because they didn't know why we were laughing, and the looks on their faces made us laugh even more. And Granny said, "Charles Weasley, what is going on?" to Uncle Charlie, just like she had to Dad earlier, and Uncle Charlie said, "Nothing, Mum," in exactly the same way as Dad had earlier, but of course Granny didn't believe him. And then even Uncle Charlie started laughing, and he said, "Okay, okay," and reached over and took Auntie Eleri's hand and said, "We got married today."
And there was silence for about a minute, and then Granny shrieked, "You did what?" and everyone started talking and laughing and asking questions all at once. And Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri just sat there looking at everyone and smiling but not saying anything, and eventually everyone calmed down a bit, and Grandad said, "Explain, Charlie." And Uncle Charlie told everyone that they'd just decided last week that it was about time that they got married, but they didn't want a lot of fuss, so they decided to surprise everyone and just do it. And he told them about going to the place in Wales and that they'd got married there. And then, of course, Granny realised that we'd known, and that's why we'd been laughing, and she looked at Dad and said, "Bill, why didn't you stop them?" And Dad said, "When could anyone ever stop Charlie doing something he wanted to do? And anyway, I thought you wanted them to get married." And Granny said, "Yes, but…" and then stopped, and looked like she might cry, and Uncle Charlie got up and went and hugged her and said something to her that I didn't hear, and she smiled and kissed him.
And then Aunt Penelope and Auntie Ginny started clearing the table, and Uncle George looked at Uncle Ron and said, "Ron – c'mon," and Uncle Ron said, "Where?" and Uncle George said, "Fireworks," and Uncle Ron said, "But we haven't had pudding yet!" and Uncle George said, "Tough! It won't kill you," and pulled him out of his seat, and they went out and Disapparated in the yard, and the rest of us ate pudding, and everyone looked at the wedding photos, and by the time Uncle George and Uncle Ron came back, even Granny had calmed down a bit.
And then we all went out to the paddock for the fireworks, and there was even a heart with Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri's names in it, which was pretty good when Uncle George hadn't known he'd need it beforehand (but then he is pretty good at fireworks, like I said before). And then we all went back inside and the grown-ups drank wine and us kids drank pumpkin juice and everyone was talking and laughing and someone put some music on and people started dancing. And then Georgina spoilt it by falling asleep and falling off her chair, and the grown-ups realised how late it was, and started saying we all had to go home to bed, and me and Sharlie tried arguing, but it didn't do any good. And Uncle Idris and Auntie Yelena and Irina and baby Maria came back with us and stayed at Shell Cottage, which was fun, and Will and Owen stayed at The Burrow with Granny and Grandad so Uncle Charlie and Auntie Eleri could go off by themselves to a posh hotel for the night. (They hadn't been going to, but everyone told them they had to.)
And the next day, we all met up again and went to the beach and played games and made sandcastles and paddled and had a huge picnic, and it was Great Fun.
And that really was the last Weasley Wedding (I guess the next one will be one of us kids – but not me because I've decided never to get married – and anyway that won't be for years and years, because I'm the oldest and I'm only ten). And I let Maman and Dad read my story, and they laughed a lot, but they said it was really good and I ought to write something else, so perhaps I might.