A/N: This is set when Dominique is about four years old, and Bill and George are the only married Weasleys.
The Importance of Cauldron Thickness
"Why are Mummy and Daddy all dressed up?" Dominique asked, jumping onto Victoire's bed.
Victoire smiled knowingly. "They're going out. To a ballet."
"They didn't tell me that," Dominique pouted.
Before she could say anything else, her father's voice sounded at the open door. "Knock knock. Can I come in?"
Bill took a seat on the bed where both Dominique and Victoire were lounging, and Dominique promptly sat on his lap, wrapping her arms around him as she asked, "You're not gonna actually leave us with a babysitter, are you?"
"You're a big girl, Dominique, it'll be fine," Bill replied, patting her on the back. "Your Mummy and I are going to drop you two and Louis off on our way to the ballet."
"Can I stay with Uncle George?" Victoire brightly interrupted.
"Sure, you can stay with Uncle George," Bill said.
Dominique frowned. She had been about to ask if she could stay with Uncle George. "If Victoire has Uncle George, can I stay with Grandma and Grandpa?"
"Louis is going to stay with Grandma and Grandpa. He's only a baby, and none of my siblings know how to change diapers yet," Bill explained. "And Uncle Ron and Aunt Ginny are both out seeing friends tonight."
Dominique frowned again. That only left—"Please, please, please can I also stay with Uncle George? Pretty please with a cherry on top?"
"You know the rules, Dom. We always split up you, Victoire, and Louis, so any one babysitter doesn't get overwhelmed. So that means tonight you'll be with—"
"I don't wanna stay with Uncle Percy," Dominque pouted again, interrupting her father's words. "Besides, Aunt Angelina'll be with Uncle George, and Aunt Angelina's so pretty and nice, she's a great babysitter."
"You'll be staying with Uncle Percy, Dominique," Bill replied, gently but firmly.
"But he's so boring. Booooooooooriiiiiiiiiiiiii—"
"Dominique is very excited to have you as her babysitter, Percy," Bill said as he stepped from Percy's floo. He clapped a hand on his sullen daughter's shoulder and gave her a slight push towards her uncle.
Percy smiled at them. "Always happy to help out."
"She's already had dinner, and this has some of her toys in it," Bill explained, handing off a bulky backpack. "I don't know when Fleur and I will be by to pick her up, but probably not until late."
Percy nodded. "I have a guest room Dominique can sleep in if she gets tired, so take your time." With a whooshing sound, Bill had flooed away, leaving Dominique sullenly staring at Percy.
"So, you have toys?" Percy said cheerfully, kneeling so that he was at her height and opening the backpack.
Dominique reached into the backpack and pulled out a few Quidditch action figures, before hopefully asking. "Do you want to play with me?"
"I—well—I have some work I have to finish tonight. Maybe we can play in a little while?"
Dominique frowned up at him. "That means no."
"No, it doesn't," Percy said uncertainly, scratching the back of his neck. "It means maybe."
"Can you read me a story at least?" she pouted, attempting to produce the most adorable expression possible. It was a shame Victoire was so much better at it.
"Oh, alright," he sighed. She smiled widely and climbed into Percy's lap as he reached for a nearby stack of parchment. "This is the story of, uh, the Big Bad Industrial Complex and Cauldron Thickness. Once upon a time, there were many witches and wizards who enjoyed brewing potions in their cauldrons. However, the Big Bad Industrial Complex liked selling cauldrons with thin bottoms because it increased their profit margin."
Dominique frowned. This did not seem like it was going to be an interesting story.
"These thin-bottomed cauldrons would melt and spill the boiling potion on the brewing witches and wizards. One day, several employees of the Ministry decided to campaign to regulate cauldron thickness, so that the thinnest cauldron bottom could be no thinner than 2.75 centimeters."
"This is a boring story." Dominque lolled her head onto Percy's shoulder to look up at him. "Can we do something fun? Please? Pretty please?"
Percy neatened the stack of parchment with a sigh before setting it back down on a nearby table. "Alright, what do you want to do?"
"Can we bake cookies?" Dominique brightly exclaimed.
Percy hesitated before replying, "I suppose. Let me find a recipe." He set Dominique on his shoulders as he walked to a nearby bookcase, and Dominique excitedly kicked her feet at being up so high. "How about this one? Flour, sugar, eggs, chocolate chips. Total preparation time 1 hour 20 minutes."
1 hour and 21 minutes later, Percy learned that giving a hyperactive four-year old sugar was not a good idea.
"I'm so high up!" Dominique gleefully exclaimed, striding along the uppermost shelves of his closet.
"Dominique, come on, get down from there," Percy pleaded. He wasn't even sure how she had gotten up there; he swore he had only looked away for a second.
"Look, I'm taller than you now! Even when I'm sitting down, see?" She sat down on the closet shelf and swung her feet back and forth, glancing around the shelf she was on. "Ooh, what are these?"
"Dominique," Percy said warningly, a hint of nervousness to his voice as she reached towards the back of the shelf.
She held up a pair of red heels and smiled widely. "They're so pretty!"
Percy noticeably paled. "Put those down, Dominique. It's not nice to go rearranging things that don't belong to you."
"Can we play dress-up?" she said brightly, the heels in her hands.
"No. Those were very expensive. Now come down," he said sternly.
"You're no fun," she pouted. "It's not fair, Victoire gets everything."
"Huh? What do you mean?" Percy said, puzzled.
"Mummy and Daddy always tell Victoire everything before they tell me, like tonight when they were going out. And I have to wear Victoire's hand-me-downs while she gets new clothes, and she gets first pick of baby-sitters, and I bet she's even playing dress-up with Aunt Angelina right now," Dominique said miserably, looking as though she was on the verge of tears. "Why can't I have an aunt from you? Then I could be playing dress-up, too."
Percy chuckled weakly. "You're starting to sound like Grandma, asking why I'm not married yet."
"I'm not Grandma," Dominique said in an offended tone.
"I know you're not," Percy apologized. "Come on, let's get you down from there." Precariously balancing on a lower shelf and steadying himself with a coat hanger, he helped Dominique down.
"Why does Victoire get everything?" she repeated, burying her face into Percy's shoulder.
"Ah, it's the curse of being the middle child," he replied, patting her on the back. "I should know."
She looked up, a few tears still glistening in the corner of her eyes. "You're a middle child, too?"
Percy nodded. "I am. You want to know something else?"
"I can let you in on a secret. Something that Victoire doesn't know. Something that none of your grandparents, or aunts and uncles know. It'll be just between us."
"What?" Dominique said excitedly.
"You might have another aunt soon," Percy smiled mysteriously.
Her eyes opened wide, and she excitedly blurted out, "What's her name? Is she pretty? Does she play dress-up good?"
"Her name's Audrey. I think she's very pretty. And you tell me - those are her heels you're holding."
"Ooh," she turned her attention to the red heels again. "I like Aunt Audrey."
"Well, she's not your aunt yet," he chuckled. "I'm not even planning to introduce her to the family until we're engaged. Maybe in a year or so."
"A year? That's forever!"
"Patience, Dominique," Percy smiled. "Listen, how about we play with some of those toys you brought with you?"
They were on their third game of virtual Quidditch, courtesy of Dominique's figurines of the Holyhead Harpies, when there was a distant chiming sound. One…two…three…four…Percy silently counted each chime as his beater wrestled with one of Dominique's and she giggled. Ten…eleven…twelve. Twelve chimes.
"It's midnight?" Percy exclaimed, sitting up straight. "Merlin, we should be getting you to bed Dominique. Bill will have my head if you stay up any later."
"But I'm not tired, Uncle Percy," she replied earnestly.
"Come on, I'll tell you a bedtime story."
"Is it gonna be about cauldrons?" Dominique said suspiciously.
Percy let out a laugh. "No, it won't be about cauldron thickness this time." After carrying her to the guestroom and tucking her into bed, he thoughtfully began, "Once upon a time there was a girl name Dominique."
"And she was traveling with her favorite uncle!" Dominique piped up.
"Okay. And she was traveling with her favorite uncle. Uncle…" Percy uncertainly trailed off and glanced at Dominique.
"That's you, silly," she giggled in response, and a wide smile spread across Percy's face.
"Okay, so Dominique and Uncle Percy were traveling together. What were they doing?"
"They were…" Dominique scrunched up her face in thought. "They were going to defeat the evil dragon!"
"I don't think Uncle Charlie would like this story very much," Percy laughed, before beginning the story anew. "Once upon a time, a girl named Dominique and her Uncle Percy were traveling to defeat an evil dragon…"
A/N: My first next-gen piece! Written for Aurors of Olympus' Fanfiction's Next Top Writer Competition (Round One). As per the challenge requirements, I used at least three Weasleys (Percy, Dominique, Bill and Victoire) and took inspiration from the phrase prompt "burning the midnight oil".
Reviews and/or constructive criticism always appreciated, especially if you favorite the piece.