A/N: This is dedicated to MBP. Because she has insisted that I should do oneshots for a long time, and she gave me this idea. Which came from Molly's chapter, where she was reflecting on her name and wishing she could talk to Fred and James about being named after people and, even more importantly, get them to talk to each other. This also holds a lot of references from other character's chapters in "Things", which you'll see if you've been reading it.
Just for clarification, at this point Teddy is about 25, Victoire 23, Molly, Dominique and Louis 22, Fred 20, Lucy and Roxanne 19, James 18, Albus and Rose 17, Hugo and Lily 15.
"So, Molly, how does it feel to be another year older? You're catching up to grandma pretty quickly, aren't you?" Fred questioned with an evil smirk.
"Hey!" Victoire protested. "If she's old at 22, what does that make me?"
"Even older," James added, grinning, while patting her on the shoulder. "But don't worry, we like you anyway."
"You do realize that by this you are basically alluding that I'm about ready to be sent to a nursing home," Teddy interjected.
"Well, no," James drew back, looking a bit uncomfortable. "You're a guy, it's not the same thing!" he added feebly.
But Teddy just laughed, ruffling the already messy hair of his by now at least in-law related almost-little brother.
"Should we order then, instead of spending our whole evening deciding who's old and who's not?" Dominique interrupted their bickering, then added in an undertone, "I'm 22 as well guys, you know I'm watching you."
As Madame Rosmerta came up to them to take their orders, Molly looked around the table, smiling to herself. This actually was kind of fun. Her cousins hadn't bothered to let her in on their plans to take her out for her birthday, so she had been quite surprised when they, just an hour ago, had showed up at her and Gary's apartment, reprimanding her for not being dressed already. Having been set on a private night in, the idea took a bit of adjusting. But, really, it was quite nice. Despite all of them chattering at the same time, not even giving her the chance to answer the questions they directed to her. It was pretty entertaining to just listen to them anyway, she thought, though squeezing Gary's hand in hers a little, glad of the presence of someone somewhat sane.
"Firewhiskey all around then, right?" Fred stated, not really asking.
"Um, excuse me, pregnant lady over here!" Teddy pointed out, wrapping his arm protectively around his wife's shoulder. "And just Butterbeer for me too."
"What, you're being sympathetically not-drunk too?" Dominique questioned, raising her eyebrows at him.
"Kind of," Teddy smiled, letting his other hand find Victoire's expanding belly and leaning in for a soft kiss.
"Okay, apart from the nauseating snoggers, everyone else up for a real drink?" Fred asked again, this time with a pretty stern look at his sister when she didn't protest, like he was only just now noticing her presence.
"What? Honestly, Fred, I'm 19. Besides, I never get out without Jim and he's overprotective enough for the both of you. Now Lucy and I got a little girls night out here and I advice you to mind your own business, brother," Roxanne finished, with a touch of her mother's determination in her eye that made Fred raise his hands in retreat.
"Fine, Butterbeer for two and Firewhiskey for the rest then. You got that?" he said, turning to Rosmerta, who nodded, looking very amused. "I hope you know you're pretty lucky that I'm in a good mood tonight," he then added seriously, turning to Roxanne, who snorted. "No, really. Dad would not have been pleased to hear about his little Roxy getting poisoned up on alcohol."
"Oh no, don't call her that," Lucy groaned, laying a hand on Roxanne's to keep her from brutally attacking her brother for using the nickname she had detested deeply since the age of six. "Dropping the subject of Roxanne's supposed 'poisoning', why are you in such a good mood? Haven't you been kind of… well, hopelessly in love with your ex-girlfriend and in denial about it?"
A smug grin appeared on Fred's features before he could stop himself. Without giving him time to even begin to reply, Roxanne beat him to it.
"What are you looking so pleased about?" she asked suspiciously. "You've been having fits every time anyone has as much as mentioned your obvious crush on Jenny for years. What did you do? Imperius her into getting back together with you?"
"Now that's not fair," Jerry Wood piped up next to Dominique.
All eyes turned to him. It was extremely rare that the so-called newcomers to this family got the opportunity to even get a word in during these gatherings. They usually spent them just listening in amazement.
"What?" he asked, turning to his fiancée for an explanation of the staring. "I know Jenny a bit. There's no way he would have succeeded in forcing her into anything."
"True," James nodded, smirking at Fred. "But hey, what are you looking so disgustingly happy about then?"
"Well, wouldn't you all like to know," he muttered, still looking mildly offended. "But, since I am in such a spiffingly great mood, I shall forgive you all of your minor insults to my capability and tell you anyway. Even if you don't deserve it," he added with a dark look at Roxanne, who just waved impatiently at him to go on. "Oh, come on, you gotta let me drag it out a little! Have you any idea how long I have been waiting for this?"
But as he drew in breath to continue, he was interrupted by his sister suddenly flinging herself at him, hugging him tightly, while squealing words none of them except Lucy were able to distinguish.
While Roxanne was still busy choking her brother, Lucy translated for the others, grinning broadly herself, "He's back with Jenny! Aren't you, Fred?"
Carefully detaching himself from his sister, he nodded, rubbing at his shoulder, though still looking very pleased with himself.
"Really?" Roxanne asked, almost teary. "It's true then? You've finally seen sense and realized that you're nothing without her?"
"Well, I wouldn't exactly put it as if I'm nothing without her," he replied, frowning, again slightly affronted.
"Don't let her hear you say that," Louis advised with a sly grin at Anne Jordan. "Might be dangerous. Just go with it."
"He's right," Anne chipped in, after smacking her boyfriend lightly in the chest.
Fred turned to Lucy and James instead. James just shrugged, casting a nervous sideways glance at Daisy Longbottom, whose eyebrows were raised, challenging him daringly.
"Well, I sure wouldn't let Tim say something like that," Lucy informed him unhelpfully. "And the other way around, he still gets kind of insulted every time I happen to mention that if I hadn't got him, I would have been okay, as long as I had gotten Professor Longbottom instead. Not sure why he's so sensitive though. It's not like he ever would have gone for me. I mean, he's a teacher, and way too obsessed with principality. If he wasn't so extremely hot, I'd kind of hate him for it."
At this, Daisy, who had just received her glass of Firewhiskey and taken her first sip, spat it all back out, right into James's lap.
"Please, tell me that you did not just say that about my dad?" she spluttered, looking horror-struck.
Lucy's hand immediately flew to her mouth as everyone else broke down in fits of violent laughter at both girls' expressions.
"I'm sorry!" Lucy shrieked from behind her hands that were now covering her face completely. "I didn't remember that you're… well, his daughter… and, oh my God! I'm really, really sorry!"
Now wiping her mouth dazedly with her sleeve and taking deep breaths, Daisy nodded slowly. "Just… next time, take a look around the room before you say stuff like that. And if anyone's there named Longbottom, don't say it."
"You fancy Neville?" James now interjected, just regaining the ability to form words. "My girlfriend's dad? Our ex-teacher?"
"And she's been fancying him forever too," Roxanne grinned. "Since what, like second year?"
"About that time, yes," Lucy admitted, still looking mortified. "Please don't tell him about it though," she begged, turning to Daisy. "Now if this wasn't embarrassing enough…"
"Won't speak of it again if I can help it," Daisy assured her quickly. "Now, another subject than my dad's hotness, please?"
While everyone was still busy chuckling at this, the birthday girl herself spoke up for the first time, taking pity on Daisy, as she was sure that if she didn't, the others wouldn't be quite so respectful of her wishes. "So, James, how's it going being first year out of Hogwarts? I know I missed it horribly."
"Well, yeah, it is kind of weird to know that I'll never go there again," he admitted. "But I've gotta say, it's a real relief never to have to worry about NEWTs again. Last year I barely had time to pee."
"Kind of more information than we needed," Fred pointed out. "True, though."
"I didn't think the last year was all that bad," Roxanne frowned.
"That's because you were too busy skipping around and being sickeningly happy and in love," Lucy laughed. "You wouldn't be saying that if you hadn't had my notes to borrow after you'd been daydreaming or toe-flirting with Jim during the actual classes."
"Al doesn't seem to be thinking it's that tough either," James interjected. "His cheery letters make you think they're no match at all for him. And, well, I know he's smart, but come on. NEWTs should be some kind of challenge! It's not like he's Rose!"
"But didn't I hear something about him too being kind of high on love these days?" Teddy asked, giving James a meaningful look. "My guess is that's probably what's making it all so easy."
"What was her name again? Something K, right?" Lucy asked.
"Yeah. Kim Shepherd, I think," answered James. "She's a year under him. Gryffindor too. Muggleborn. She seems pretty fun from what I've seen. She's sure got attitude, and well, in my opinion that's exactly what he needs, seeing as he seriously lacks it. You've all heard about how she just walked right up and snogged him in front of the whole common room, haven't you?"
They all nodded in agreement. That story had been spread wide, despite Albus's attempts to prevent it.
"I think he might be really into her, actually," James mused on. "His whole face got tomato-red each time I teased him about the two of them this summer. You'd think it'd get old after a while, but he just kept getting all embarrassed. Must mean he really fancies her."
"That's too bad," Dominique said, leaning into her fiancée. "Jerry and I were still kind of keeping our hopes up for him and Felicia."
"Yeah. I think she still has a crush on him, even if she's way too stubborn to admit it," Jerry agreed, absentmindedly stroking her once fractured arm that had a few years ago, in a way, brought them back together. He was still always extra gentle in handling that wrist, despite it having been perfectly healed for years.
"That would have been kind of adorable, wouldn't it?" Roxanne smiled. "Two people from our family marrying into the same other one."
"Well, I think there's still some hope for that," said Daisy, giving a mysterious smile that caught everyone's attention.
"What is this gossip and why don't I already know it?" Lucy demanded eagerly.
"Let's just say, I know my brother… He's not exactly discreet about it either. The way he talks about her, constantly – well, it's pretty obvious," Daisy finished.
"You haven't told me this! Because you are talking about my sister, aren't you?" James burst out, his voice slightly higher than it should be.
Daisy nodded, smiling sympathetically, taking his hand, as he went on, "But… but she's just broken up with that jerk Nick! And… and… she's just…"
"While James is having his heart attack, let's get some real information," Roxanne said impatiently. "Do you mean they're together? Secretly maybe?"
Daisy shrugged. "All I know is that he's having a pretty big crush on her. Can't tell you anymore than that. For some reason, Robert doesn't trust me with this kind of information, because he thinks I'll share it with all of you guys. Very unfair, if I may say so myself."
"I don't know," Fred said thoughtfully, "I'm still sticking with my theory of Lily and Lorcan myself."
"But, come on!" groaned James. "She's had one, she can't go through both of them. That's just not… healthy!"
"Really, Fred," Roxanne sighed. "I thought we'd agreed this wasn't going to happen when she hooked up with Lysander. You really need to learn to consider yourself having been wrong."
Fred just gave a knowing smirk, not bothering to protest. At the moment.
"Speaking of Lily," Dominique said, "has anyone found out what that giant falling out between her and Hugo is about yet?"
They shook their heads.
"She doesn't answer any questions about it in her letters," James told them. "Never mentions him either. I think it's pretty bad, actually."
"Sounds that way," Louis muttered, shuddering slightly at the thought.
"I heard from Rose that he's still seeing that Wilma though," Lucy said.
"What about Rose and that Malfoy kid?" asked Fred, immediately tensing.
"Still going strong," Roxanne assured him, smiling sweetly. "Come on, give it a rest. They've been together two years, you've got to accept him at some point. And didn't you say yourself that he seems different than his dad?"
Despite muttering something inaudible, Fred didn't press the matter.
Shaking Victoire, who was by now almost asleep against his chest, back to consciousness, Teddy spoke up, "I think we'd better call it a night, actually. I'm pretty sure my woman here agrees, despite her slight lack of awareness of this… or anything for that matter," he added as Victoire looked around, seeming utterly perplexed.
Waving goodbye to them, Fred then turned to the rest of them. "So, now that mummy and daddy's gone, let's get started on these drinks for real, shall we? Molly, a refill?"
"I'm not sure…" she began, but Fred interrupted her.
"Course you'll have more than just one drink. It's your birthday for crying out loud!"
"Fine. One more drink then," she agreed, rolling her eyes at his proud stage-whisper to James; "I got Molly to have another drink. Of Firewhiskey!".
She wasn't that difficult to persuade, really. Well, she could be if she was set on something, but with this, she didn't mind. She had actually quite been planning to drink at least a bit more. She just didn't want to give up her image too much. Even if she was 22 by now, her cousins still expected her to be disapproving of things like that, when really, she had loosened up a lot after quitting school. Not that she drank every night or anything, but tonight was after all her birthday.
The night went on, and the remaining people's drinks were emptied and refilled quite a few times before, as complete blackness was reigning outside, they somehow entered the subject of names.
"Because, really, how is that fair? That just because I'm not born first, I don't get an important name?" Lucy was ranting.
"I know what you mean," Roxanne agreed, casting an apologetic look at Fred who looked drastically surprised at this revelation, but didn't speak. "Especially when all of our cousins got good names."
"We're not named after anyone either," Louis pointed out, gesturing to himself and Dominique.
"Well, at least your names are French," Lucy argued, as though that settled the matter, her eyes slightly glazed over by now. "And you're twins. That's kind of something too, that you got from dead people."
Some words about how this wasn't always terribly fun were on the tip of Louis's tongue when Dominique beat him to it, asking Jerry loudly what time it was. Louis swallowed his retort, instead letting the conversation float on as Anne, sensing his agitation, turned to Fred and James.
"Isn't it weird though? To be named after such famous heroes as Fred Weasley and James Potter?"
Not looking at each other, or anyone else for that matter, Fred and James murmured their agreement.
Feeling that without the alcohol, he would have stopped himself long before he got to this, Fred spoke slowly, "It can be pretty… odd, sometimes, that everyone else knew him, and I never even got to meet him, you know? I mean, he was my dad's twin for a pretty long time."
"My dad never knew his dad though," James said quietly. "It's kind of weird too, because almost no one really remembers him. They just know that he was so brave and died to save my dad and my grandmother and all that. I mean, he must've been – well, human, at one point too? He was a bloke, after all."
"Yeah, well, everyone doesn't get all depressed and miserable when they talk about him though. He's just… always been dead. Fred is… he should've been our uncle…" Fred said, his tone rapidly changing from almost harsh to uncharacteristically low and soft.
Everyone fell silent for a moment, contemplating this. Molly could see Louis swallowing hard and Fred staring a bit too intently at the glass in his hand, not seeming aware that he had been about to drink it just moments ago. Jerry's eyes were steadily gazing on the suddenly very stiff Dominique, while James, having had his retort prepared, had stopped himself at Fred's last words and was now frozen, mouth half-agape.
After a few moments and to everyone's surprise (including herself), Molly was the one to break the silence. She hadn't planned it, but she just couldn't stand watching her cousins so miserable, so dejected. They weren't supposed to be that way.
"It's not always so easy to be named after someone alive either," she found herself saying, quietly, but with enough volume for them all to hear and turn to look at her. She felt her cheeks reddening at all the attention, but she had thought about having this conversation with them forever, and this was her chance. She needed to. They needed to. So, grabbing Gary's hand tightly, she continued.
"I just mean – well, obviously it's really difficult for you to try and live up to these dead people who everyone consider almost saint-like. Like Uncle Fred. Especially when you – and all of us – really should have gotten to know him and never did. It's very… unfair."
No one showed any sign of interrupting. That was new. In this crowd, you were usually lucky to get one sentence out with them all paying attention. Now though, their eyes were all fixed on her, almost mesmerized. They never spoke of Uncle Fred. Not when they were all together, like this. She didn't know if the others maybe discussed him in their pairs, but they never did it in her presence anyway. And from the way they were all pointedly not meeting each other's eyes – not even Lucy and Roxanne – she figured that this wasn't exactly a regular topic for any of them.
"I'm just saying that it's kind of weird to know the person you're named after too. Because then you, and everyone else, can see for themselves how admirable they really are, and you know that it's not just because she's a legend and couldn't have been that wonderful in real life – because she really is that perfect, in a way that you, I, could never be," Molly continued, slightly rushed towards the end, her voice growing more high-pitched with each word.
When she squeezed Gary's hand, he squeezed back, but she couldn't turn to him. Not now. At this moment, she needed to bring herself to look at Fred and James.
They weren't looking back at her anymore though. Their eyes were hesitantly, then more and more intently fixed on each other. Even if they weren't speaking, there was something solemn in their gazes, something open, something new. Her job was done, and she allowed herself to lean back against Gary's shoulder, closing her eyes against his arms that were immediately protectively wrapped around her. Her job was done.
A/N: Please let me know what you think. I'm not sure when the next "chapter" of this will be up, but if you have any requests on stuff to explore on from "Things", they are very welcome!