Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own HP nor do I intend on making money with this. It's purely for fun.
a/n: Written for the weasleyfest fic exchange at lj. This is my gift for coonassblondie.
Bill Weasley was sitting at his desk at Gringotts watching his brother pace around his office.
"And you know she's going to want to introduce me to every single woman at Harry and Ginny's wedding, no matter how ugly or brain damaged…"
"Mum means well," Bill said, though Charlie ignored him in favour of his own rant.
"It's not like I don't want to get married… eventually. You know, when I find the right witch and everything, but those women Mum keeps throwing at me—like I'm not fully capable of finding a girlfriend on my own."
Bill smirked and refrained from pointing out that Charlie had been single ever since he had broken up with his last steady girlfriend three years ago. Oh, there had been a few witches here and there, but it had never gotten past one night together or a few casual dates at the most. Charlie certainly hadn't introduced any of them to their mother or the rest of the family—they weren't the kind of girls one brought home.
A knock on the door interrupted Charlie's aggravated pacing. Bill looked up to see Hermione Granger enter his office. Well, he could see her forehead and some of the infamous bushy hair, as most of the petite girl was obscured behind the large stack of files she was carrying and which threatened to topple over at any second.
"Let me get that." Charlie took the files and disposed of them on top of Bill's desk. Bill meanwhile eyed the rather high mountain of paperwork on his desk apprehensively.
"Thanks, Charlie. I didn't know you'd be here," Hermione greeted Charlie before looking over at Bill. Bill was still looking at Mount Paperest.
"Why didn't I go back to Egypt when the War was over?" he asked.
"Because you insisted on marrying a ridiculously beautiful French girl, so now you can't leave the country for prolonged periods of time since she's likely to get lonely, remember that there are far more charming blokes than you out there and leave your sorry arse," Charlie helpfully supplied.
"I've only brought over the most recent communication between Gringotts and Lloyd's. We need to go over it before the next meeting with them," Hermione explained.
"Right," Bill repeated, eying the pictures of Fleur on his desk to remind himself that his wife was worth having a desk job. A desk job working alongside Hermione Granger, who firmly believed that taking shortcuts while doing paperwork was the fourth Unforgivable curse.
It wasn't that Bill didn't appreciate working with Hermione. She was smart, dedicated, and he had been very pleasantly surprised when only a short while after the War the young woman had announced that working at the Ministry was just not an option for her, no matter how prestigious the positions they offered or how high the salary. Instead, she had accepted a job at Gringotts as liaison with the Muggle banks and investment corporations.
"Well, I'll leave you two to your papers then. Have fun," Charlie announced, grinning sympathetically at his brother. "I'll see you both at Ginny's and Harry's wedding," he added pulling a face, meaning to leave the office.
"Hold it!" Bill shouted and Charlie stopped, door handle in hand. Bill let his gaze wander from Charlie's to Hermione's face. Both of them were looking at him expectantly. Bill fought a smile.
"You don't have a date for the wedding," he stated slyly.
"Excellent observation." Charlie rolled his eyes. "I only told you so a mere two minutes ago." Charlie once more turned to leave the office, but Bill's voice stopped him.
"What I mean is you both don't have dates." Hermione, who had begun shuffling through the papers, looked up.
"Oh, thanks, Bill, for reminding me. I'm so proud to go to yet another wedding of your obscenely large family without an escort," she snapped. He had hit a nerve.
Both Charlie and Hermione were now glaring at Bill, who sat behind his desk, his smug smile only partially hidden by the stack of files.
"Don't you get it?" Bill asked. And when the rather impatient faces of his brother and co-worker indicated that there was going to be some hexing directed at his person if he didn't explain himself properly, he added, "You should go together. This way neither one of you would be dateless."
Charlie and Hermione first eyed him, then one another critically. Clearly, that thought had never crossed their minds.
"Of course, if you would rather go alone, I'm sure Mum will find suitable dinner partners for both—"
"I'll pick you up at three," Charlie said to Hermione, interrupting his brother.
"I'm looking forward to it," Hermione agreed instantly.
That settled, Charlie finally left the office with a quick good-bye.
Bill watched him go and then redirected his attention to Hermione, who by now had taken a seat in front of his desk, a stack of papers in her lap.
"So, you're going out with my brother."
"Honestly," Hermione huffed. Taking the top file from the pile on her lap, she ignored Bill's smirk and began discussing their upcoming business meeting.
The following Saturday at exactly three o'clock, Charlie Weasley Apparated in his dress-robes to a secluded spot near Hermione's flat in Chelsea and rang the doorbell. Hermione had just finished getting ready herself and opened the door wearing the form-fitting blue dress Ginny soon-to-be-Potter had chosen for all her bridesmaids. Her hair was pinned into a beautiful knot at the base of her neck, and a touch of make-up completed her outfit. Charlie had to swallow twice before he could compliment Hermione on her looks.
Blushing slightly, Hermione returned the sentiment, and together they Apparated to the Burrow, where the wedding was to be held in the back garden. Hermione went to join the bride and the rest of the bridesmaids while Charlie headed off to look for his brothers.
He found them all inside Ron's room where Bill was just explaining to Harry, in detail, how they planned to torture him, should he ever dare to hurt their sister. Not one to be outdone, Charlie added that they could always feed Harry's body to his dragons in order to get rid of the evidence.
Harry looked rather nervous, though Charlie couldn't be sure if the nervousness was due to the six red heads that were glaring at him dangerously or due to the prospect of getting married to their sister. Probably a mixture of both, he decided.
Arthur finally came to Harry's rescue, announcing that the ceremony was about to start. They all went outside where Harry took his place at the front with Ron at his side. Charlie and the rest of his family took their seats in the front row.
The same wizard that had performed Bill's wedding and Dumbledore's funeral conducted the ceremony that left almost nary a dry eye, at least not of the female guests. Once Harry and Ginny had been proclaimed husband and wife, the chairs disappeared and a dance floor appeared, and Harry led Ginny to their first dance.
After the first dance of the bride and the groom, other guests joined them on the floor. Hermione saw Ron pulling his girlfriend, Lavender, closer for a slow dance. Smiling at the couple, Hermione was just about to search for her own date when she was stopped by Molly Weasley and a very awkward looking wizard, who appeared to be around 30.
"There you are, dear," Molly crooned. "I wanted to introduce Milton Monaghan to you. He is a friend of Percy.
"Nice to meet you," Hermione offered, looking over the wizard's shoulder in search of Charlie.
"Mrs. Weasley has told me a lot about you," Milton said while Molly surreptitiously tried to leave them alone. She failed miserably, seeing as she met her husband, Arthur, a few feet away and told him rather loudly how Milton and Hermione would make such a nice couple.
Hermione sighed inaudibly and, since Charlie seemed to be nowhere in sight, was forced to listen to Milton describing his position in the Ministry, where he apparently was in charge of the distribution of office supplies. Hermione tried hard to suppress a yawn.
Just as Milton was recounting the tale of how he had appealed to the Minister of Magic himself that the toilet paper should be switched from three layers to four, Charlie appeared at Hermione's side and flung a casual arm around her shoulder.
"Sorry to interrupt, mate," he said to Milton, pulling Hermione away with him. "But the lovely lady promised me a dance."
Before Milton had the chance to object, Charlie and Hermione were already in the middle of the dance floor, dancing to a slow and melodious song.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Hermione blurted out, the second they were out of earshot.
"That bad?" Charlie asked while he led her around the dance floor.
"You've got no idea. He apparently is a friend of Percy." Charlie gave a short laugh.
"I would have thought that was your type," he said. When he saw Hermione's questioning look, he added, "Scholarly and serious, I mean."
"You mean boring," Hermione corrected.
"Well," Charlie stumbled slightly.
"Ron once told me that I need a boyfriend who keeps me from working too much and forces me to have fun," Hermione admitted.
"I'd have thought Ron fit that description," Charlie retorted, dipping Hermione low as the last chords of the song played out.
"Maybe so." Hermione straightened up again. "But we discovered soon that we've been friends for far too long to have a romantic relationship. He's better off with Lavender."
The music stopped playing, and Ron got up to the stage that had been erected at the side of the dance floor.
"Oh, no, speeches." Hermione blanched.
"Are you nervous about yours?" Charlie asked, giving her shoulders a squeeze.
"You've got no idea," Hermione mumbled and then turned to listen as Ron told the cajoling crowd about the time where Harry had kissed Ginny for the first time, in front of the whole Gryffindor common room. When he was done, Ron left the stage under thundering applause and Hermione fidgeted fretfully.
"You'll do just fine," Charlie whispered into her ear, then gave her a slight push in the direction of the stage. Reluctantly, Hermione climbed the few steps, painfully aware that everyone was looking at her expectantly.
"Hello, everyone," Hermione began with a shaky voice. "I'm Hermione, Ginny's Maid of Honour, and I just want to congratulate the bride and groom and wish them the best of luck. I know Ginny has waited a long time for this day to come, and I hope it's all she's dreamed of and more."
Polite clapping followed Hermione's words as she paused briefly and then continued in a slightly more confident voice.
"I'm also Harry's best friend, and therefore, know that Ginny is the best thing that has ever happened to him." Harry nodded in agreement from his place at the centre table while Ginny blushed slightly.
"And I'm sorry"—Hermione looked apologetically towards Harry—"to say so, but your track record isn't the best, and you probably will screw this up."
The garden went deadly silent.
"But," Hermione continued unfazed, "I think as your friend it's my duty to help you as much as possible to prevent this from happening, and that's why…" Hermione was filtering through her evening purse "…I did some research." She pulled out a scroll of parchment and unrolled it. Everyone looked at her expectantly.
"I did a survey among all of Ginny's ex-boyfriends," Hermione announced, and everyone laughed.
"Ear, Ear!" George could be heard shouting from among the crowd.
"Here's what they had to say: First of all, Ginny likes lilies, chocolate and Quidditch. She hates seafood, daffodils and pricey jewellery. Always keep that in mind when buying her gifts." Ginny nodded vehemently.
"Secondly, while you might have realised, Harry, that unlike you Ginny isn't a lightweight when it comes to drinking…" Ron gave Harry a hearty clap on the back while Harry and the entire wedding party remembered a rather embarrassing incident where after drinking too much Firewhisky the-Boy-Who-Lived had decided to run along Diagon Alley starkers. Mrs. Weasley almost had a stroke when she opened the Daily Prophet the following Sunday, where the pictures of Harry's escapade had been printed on the first page—in colour.
"Two of Ginny's ex-boyfriends mentioned that you should never let her cross-drink beer and Champagne unless you're alone with her and want her to give you a lap dance." It was Ginny's turn to blush, while the guests cheered, and Harry looked at his bride with interest.
"And last but not least, during the night you might hear sounds you'll accidentally interpret as snoring. All exes were very adamant that you should never ever suggest to Ginny that she might be the one snoring. In fact, don't even mention that you heard something; just learn to live with it."
Hermione rolled up the parchment again while the whole wedding party cheered and clapped.
"Those are the most important points; I can give you the full report later. Thank you." Hermione ended her speech.
When the applause finally subsided, Hermione laughingly exited the stage and returned back to where Charlie was standing. He congratulated her on a job well done before asking, "You don't have, by any chance, the list of guys with you who were in the position to tell you that my sister snores?"
"I was just about to ask you the same question." Bill joined them. Before long, all six Weasley brothers were crowded around Hermione demanding names.
Hermione just laughed and shook her head. "I promised absolute confidentiality."
"Oh, come on, 'Mione," Ron pleaded, which owned him an exasperated look as he perfectly well knew Hermione didn't like that nickname.
"I told you, Ronald, I promised all her ex-boyfriends I would keep their information secret."
"Now, Hermione, help us out here," Fred tried.
"We just want to have a little talk with them," George continued.
The Weasley boys were still trying to get details from Hermione when Ginny got ready to throw her bouquet, and all unmarried woman were called upfront.
Hermione moved forward as well, resigning herself to yet another fight over a bunch of flowers with several desperate witches.
"Hold on, 'Mione." Ron stopped her, completely ignoring the roll of her eyes when he once more used the nickname she hated so much.
"What you wanna do is always keep eye contact with the Quaffle—flowers, I mean."
"Ron, are you trying to tell me how to catch the bouquet?" Hermione asked exasperatedly.
"Of course. Now listen up, always—"
"If you're so desperate to marry Hermione, why don't you just ask her?" George chimed in, elbowing his younger brother. "I'm sure she'd let you down gently," he stage whispered. Hermione and the rest of his brothers laughed. Only Ron looked annoyed.
"I'm not proposing. I'm trying to get her to catch the flowers so my girlfriend won't," Ron explained impatiently. The twins quieted down immediately. Bill and Percy, both happily married to Fleur and Penny respectively, still laughed as Fred and George joined Ron in explaining several tips to catching a ball, or in this case flowers, to Hermione. Charlie remained silent.
Hermione brushed them all off and joined the other women at the front of the stage. Amused she noticed how Lavender, Ron's girlfriend, eagerly eyed the bridal bouquet. Maybe Ron's fear of being dragged in front of an altar in the very near future wasn't completely unfounded.
Ginny turned around and under cheers and whistles threw the bouquet over her shoulder.
Hermione didn't catch it. Neither did Lavender. But Angelina and Katie both had their hands on the flowers and were tugging. Hermione pushed her way out of the crowd, laughing out loud when she heard Lavender demand that both Katie and Angelina should be disqualified because they were professionals. Hermione really hoped Lavender meant professional Quidditch players, but she couldn't be sure.
Once out of the bulk of slightly hysteric, unmarried woman, Hermione started towards the table where Charlie sat with all of his brothers. She had to laugh again when she saw the identical apprehensive faces of Fred and George as the twins watched their girlfriends fight over the flowers.
Eventually, both Fred and George went to break up the fight between their girlfriends (or possibly to get a box ring filled with Jell-O, as Fred had suggested), and Bill and Percy left the table as well in search of their better halves, leaving Charlie and Hermione alone.
To their mutual surprise they had a rather interesting conversation discussing Charlie's work with the dragons and Hermione's work with the bankers (who apparently could breathe fire just as well if given the right incentive).
A little while later, Hermione excused herself to the loo. She came back to find Charlie sitting at their table with a very skinny and tarted up brunette, who was talking to Charlie in a rather shrill voice, when Hermione returned. Hermione couldn't help but smile when she noticed Charlie's pained expression. Skinny girl, however, didn't seem fazed by Charlie's lack of interest and continued to prattle on.
Hermione gave a polite cough when she reached the table, and Charlie looked up in relief.
"Hermione," he exclaimed, "there you are." The look he gave her suggested she had been gone on a trip around the world instead of to the loo.
Skinny girl on the other hand appeared less than pleased to see Hermione and continued to talk to Charlie without acknowledging her presence. Charlie shot Hermione an apologetic glance.
Wondering where on earth Molly Weasley found girls like that, for Hermione was sure that it had been Molly who had forced skinny girl's company upon Charlie, Hermione resolutely sat down—right in Charlie's lap.
"Hello, my name is Hermione. I'm Charlie's girlfriend." She offered her hand to skinny girl, who looked at her, crestfallen.
"This is Annie. Mum just introduced us," Charlie supplied, taking hold of Hermione's waist, and showing no signs of objection to her presence on his lap.
"My name is Amy," skinny girl hissed. She didn't take Hermione's offered hand. A few seconds later, she excused herself, and neither Charlie nor Hermione was sorry to see her go.
"That was easier than I thought," Hermione announced, starting to get up from Charlie's lap. But Charlie just tightened his hold on her waist.
"Stay," he pleaded. "That way Mum won't try to introduce us to any more potential spouses." Hermione relented, settling back into his embrace, and the two of them resumed their easy conversation from earlier.
Across the room, Bill just finished dancing a slow number with his wife. He had watched Hermione and his brother talk all evening. He had also seen his mother drag over an impossibly dolled up brunette the second Hermione had gotten up from the table. Bill could only shake his head. He didn't need to see Charlie's suffering look to know that girl wasn't a girl his brother would ever consider going out with.
To his great amusement, Bill had also witnessed Hermione's return to the table and how she had gotten rid of the other girl. Although Bill had been too far away to hear anything, from the way the girl practically fled the table he could guess the gist of what Hermione had told her. His brother didn't seem to mind at all.
Bill was thrilled to see that Hermione remained seated on Charlie's lap afterwards. The couple seemed very cosy as they resumed talking. Bill smirked.
"You look awfully pleased with yourself," his wife noted in her heavy French accent as he led her off the dance floor.
"Look at them." Bill nodded towards Hermione and Charlie.
"You set them up, didn't you?" Fleur asked suspiciously. Bill denied it, although he had learned very early in their marriage that lying to his wife was pointless. She knew him much too well.
"Tu es désespérément romantique." Fleur smiled at her husband.
"Psst, don't let my brothers hear you say things like that," Bill whispered, looking around worriedly. To his immense relief, Fred and George were still trying to keep their girlfriends from fighting, Percy was dancing with Penelope, and Ron and Lavender were nowhere in sight, and Bill suspected that it was best that he didn't know what those two were doing.
"Don't worry, I won't tell," Fleur assured indulgently. Bill pecked her on the cheek, and they sat down at an empty table. Bill seated himself so he could keep an eye on Charlie and Hermione. Did Hermione just lean her head against his brother's chest?
a/n: Tu es désespérément romantique. You're a hopeless romantic.
Thanks go to luvscharlie who beta'ed this part. Also, thanks to alexiadrake who helped with the French translation.
Reviews are love.