May I Have This Dance?
A/N: This story was written for CanonFest 2011 at Live Journal. My prompt was Dance With Me, a picture by FrizzyHermione which can be found here at DeviantArt.
Many thanks to my beta team of KelleyPen and RSS who took the time to help with continuity, spelling and grammar errors.
I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
The Burrow filled with giggles and girlish laughter as Molly and her granddaughters tumbled from the fireplace into the kitchen. They were just returning from a very successful trip to Diagon Alley where all six of the younger girls, from five-year-old Lily to eleven-year-old Dominique, had helped their grandmother and Victoire pick out her first set of dress robes. Molly's grandsons had come on the trip, too, but since the boys weren't interested in trying on clothes, they'd left the boys in George's care outside Quality Quidditch Supplies. The last they'd seen of him, he was guarding a large pile of brand new school books for Fred and Teddy while the boys entered the shop to exclaim over the latest racing broom and Teddy purchased a new pair of Keeper's gloves.
Now, as she brushed soot from her granddaughters' faces and clothes with her ever-represent clothes brush, Molly happily recalled the invitation she'd received for this important trip. Fleur had related the entire story this morning when they'd met at the Leaky Cauldron.
Less than a week ago, fourteen-year-old Victoire had received her Hogwarts letter only to discover the added item in the list of required robes, equipment, pets and books. The incoming fourth year had been quite excited when she had seen the addition.
"Mum! Mum!" she had squealed. "I need dress robes this year!"
"Of course you do, ma chere," agreed her mother, Fleur. "You're a fourth year, after all."
"When can we go? I want to go this weekend!"
Her mother's musical laughter had filled Shell Cottage's kitchen as she consulted the family calendar. "I do believe your sister and all of your cousins have agreed to go school shopping this coming Saturday. Will that be soon enough?"
"Oh, yes! Maman! I can wait that long!" Victoire had said. She paused and then asked, "May I call Grandmere and ask her to come along, please? She told me once she wanted to come with me the first time I needed dress robes."
"I think that's a lovely idea," her mother concurred. "If she wants to come, tell her we're all meeting at the Leaky Cauldron at nine o'clock on Saturday."
Of course, Grandmere Molly had wanted to join her granddaughters and now she helped her oldest two to sort their packages and find the two most important paper-wrapped parcels: Dominique's freshly-chosen wand from Ollivander's and Victoire's dress robes.
As Molly handed Victoire the box, she said, "Go upstairs to your father's old room and try this on. I know we saw your robes in the shop, but they always look different once you get them home. When you come downstairs, I'll take your picture."
Victoire hugged her and scurried up the stairs. As the door to Bill's old room banged shut several floors above her head, Molly called to her other granddaughters, "Who wants to help me with tea?"
A chorus of "I dos!" filled the kitchen and a moment later Molly began delegating tasks. "Lily, you and Rose can set the table for eight, but we'll need a ninth cup for your grandfather if he wants some tea when he comes in. Roxanne and Lucy, you two can help me with the sweets and sandwiches. Molly and Dominique, please put the kettle on and find the big teapot and tea tin. We'll need plenty of tea to go round."
The girls went to work. As she floated a tin of chocolate biscuits down to the kitchen work surface Molly reflected on a day long ago when she had chosen her first dress robes and encountered a very dashing fifth year boy at Madam Malkin's robe shop.
She had gone with her friend Darlene to Madam Malkin's because her brothers Fabian and Gideon didn't know a thing about dress robes for girls. The last time Molly had needed dress robes for a family function, they'd taken her to the second hand shop. The robe they'd made her buy was two sizes too big, eight inches too long and she'd had to roll up the sleeves three times to find her hands. Gideon had used a shrinking charm the day Molly had needed to wear it and half-way through the affair, his charm had worn off—Molly suspected Fabian had reversed it—and she'd fallen down some steps, breaking her arm. The arm had been mended immediately, but her pride was bruised and humiliated for several days after the incident. So when Darlene invited her to come along, Molly had jumped at the chance.
The girls and Darlene's mum entered Madam Malkin's to find it nearly empty, save a lone young man standing on one of the risers. He was being measured for new Hogwarts robes and Molly realized that the new robes already had the Gryffindor insignia sewn to the left breast.
Darlene leaned close and murmured, "He's dishy! Must be one of the sixth or seventh years we've ignored the last three years."
Molly giggled, still keeping her eyes on the boy. "And he's a Gryffindor," she added.
The girls found the rack with dress robes in their sizes and soon found several they liked enough to try on. Molly rejected the first two sets as soon as she put them on; she didn't even bother walking out of her cubicle to get Darlene's approval. The third set was a burnt-orange colour that nearly matched Molly's ginger hair. She looked at her reflection and decided she liked how the shirred bodice accentuated the slimness of the belt at her waist and the flared long skirt.
Neither Darlene and her mother nor Madam Malkin were anywhere in sight when Molly exited her cubicle—she could hear her friend whining about something in the next cubicle over—so she crept onto one of the risers to look at herself in the three-way mirror. She turned this way and that, loving how the skirt swished when tried dancing in it.
She was just wondering whether her family would approve of how much of her bare back the back of the robes showed when a soft wolf-whistle made her jump.
A deep male voice asked, "May I have this dance?" and Molly turned to see the older boy leaning on one of the robe racks. He'd obviously been watching her and now he stepped forward, his hand extended.
Molly tried not to giggle as she stepped down from the platform as she asked, "Do you really want to dance here?"
The boy's ears turned bright red and he dropped his hand. "I... er... NO!" he stammered.
Molly took pity on him. "Neither do I," she said and added shyly, "so you... so you like these robes?"
The boy didn't answer aloud, instead just nodded his head vigorously. Molly smiled back at him, deciding that she would buy these robes since the boy had indicated he did. The boy cleared his throat.
"I... I'," he mumbled, running his words together. "You're Gideon and Fabian's little sister, aren't you?"
Molly scowled. "I am," she said coolly, turning her back on the boy and taking a few steps towards the changing cubicles. She hated it when people called her that. "They won't be at Hogwarts this year. They're working for my uncle now that they've left school," she said stiffly.
"Wait! What'd I say?" the boy asked, sounding bewildered.
Molly turned, hands on hips. "You didn't ask my name and made me feel lower than a toad identifying me as my brothers' little sister," she snapped.
The boy looked at the floor. "I'm sorry," he murmured. His apology was so soft Molly almost didn't hear it. "I... I've never done this before." He paused, then continued in a stronger voice, "Will you tell me your name, please? I'm Arthur, Arthur Weasley... and Ithinkyou'repretty."
The last rushed sentence melted Molly's anger. She dropped her hands and told Arthur her name just as Darlene and her mother emerged from their cubicle. At the same time, another feminine voice called Arthur's name and he mumbled, "Gotta go. Bye, Molly," and scurried from the shop.
Darlene, who was dressed in a midnight blue robe with long sleeves, came over to Molly. "He spoke to you!" she gushed. Then, taking a second look at Molly's face she asked, "What'd he say to make you angry?"
Molly sighed. "Nothing important, Darlene, nothing important," she said and went into her cubicle to try on some more robes. In the end, though, she did buy the orange robes...
"Grandmere! Grandmere! Victoire's come downstairs!" the shrilly excited voice of her second-oldest granddaughter, Dominique, cried, bringing Molly out of her reverie. "She looks so beautiful!"
Molly looked up to see Victoire standing in the doorway, her face tinged a delicate shade of pink that matched the elegant dress robes she wore.
"Oh, Victoire! How lovely you look! You're pretty as a picture. Let me get the camera," Molly twittered, feeling decades younger than she had in a long time. As she left the room, she heard Lily ask, "What's the matter with Grandmum? She had a funny smile on her face." Molly didn't stick around to hear the answer. Instead, she quickly found the camera and brought it back to the kitchen.
"Come to the lounge, Victoire, and stand in front of the fireplace," Molly said over her granddaughters' protests that tea was ready. "This will take but a minute."
Victoire followed her obediently and allowed her grandmother to take several pictures after which she escaped upstairs again to change for tea.
"Grandmum, tell us a story," little Lily requested when all the girls and Molly were seated round the table.
"Do you want a real story or an imaginary one?" Molly asked.
"A real one! A story from when you were young," the little girl said, looking at her cousins for approval. When every girl at the table smiled or nodded, Molly told the story of how she'd met Arthur.
"Why were you so mean to Grandpere?" Dominique asked. "He didn't do anything to you."
Molly sighed. "In those days, I hated being someone's little sister. I wanted people to recognize me for myself and not because I was my brothers' tag-along," she explained.
"I felt the same way," Ginny said as she closed the kitchen door and came to sit next to Lily, who greeted her mother with a tired smile. Molly levitated a cup from the cupboard and poured tea for her daughter. "But your Uncle Ron felt like Grandmum did more so than I. Remember, he's the last of six brothers and for a long time people expected him to be like them. It didn't help that his best mate was the mischievous Harry Potter," she added with a giggle.
Then, looking at Molly, Ginny asked, "What made you stop being mad at Dad?"
Molly smiled. "Many things, the first of which was him helping me and Darlene find a compartment on the Hogwarts Express. He was so nice to do that for us that I actually began to like him. As the year progressed, we kept bumping into each other in the corridors and in the Great Hall."
"I don't think those were coincidences," Ginny chuckled as she reached for a biscuit.
"Absolutely not, I discovered during the Christmas hols that he'd memorized my time table and knew where I was every day," Molly reminisced, "so I memorized his time table and surprised him one day towards the end of January by waiting for him outside the Transfiguration classroom. It didn't take long after that for us to regularly meet in the library where he helped me with my Ancient Runes homework, and I corrected all his essays."
"Did you ever get to wear your dress robes that year?" little Molly piped up.
Molly shook her head at her namesake. "No, I didn't, not even for an hour!" she said.
"Fourth years usually didn't go to dress-up parties like the sixth and seventh years sometimes are invited to and Hogwarts only rarely has a ball like the Yule Ball your Aunt Ginny, Uncle Harry, Uncle Ron and Uncle George attended. Still, I'd get my dress robes out sometimes and hold them up in front of the dormitory mirror just to hear it tell me how pretty I would be if I was to wear them somewhere," Molly answered.
Victoire asked, "Did Grandpere ever ask you to dance."
A smile twitched on Molly's lips as she said, "Yes, sweetheart, he did. There were two incidences that helped me see how wonderful your grandfather was."
"Do tell! Do tell!" chorused her granddaughters, followed by other choruses of "Please, Grandmother! Please tell us!"
"All right," Molly acquiesced. "The first incident took place at the end of my fourth year..."
Molly stepped through the portrait hole and nearly collapsed into the nearest chair, she was so tired from her last exam. She couldn't believe how fussy old Slughorn had been about following the directions for an Invigorating Potion to the letter during her Potions Practical exam. The practical had been her last exam of fourth year and for that, Molly was grateful. No matter what Darlene said, she was NOT revising for her OWL exams until she was back at home and doing her best to ignore her older brothers. She closed her eyes and gave in to her tiredness.
"May I have this dance?"
Caught by surprise, Molly's eyes flew open to see a jubilant Arthur Weasley holding a butterbeer in one hand and extending the other to her. She glanced about the common room for perhaps ten seconds, taking in the gyrating fifth years as they danced to a song on the wireless someone had set on the mantelpiece, and then looked back at Arthur. He repeated his question, causing Molly to blush.
"Erm, I... yes!" Molly agreed breathlessly, once she figured out why the fifth years were celebrating. She took his hand and he pulled her to her feet. He then led her into the centre of the crowd.
"When did you finish your exams, Arthur?" she asked as he twirled her in place.
"Two hours ago, just as you were going into Potions," he answered. "I saw you crossing the Entrance Hall towards the dungeons. I hope old Sluggy wasn't too hard on you."
Molly smiled up at him. "No, Arthur, the exam was a breeze," she said as she forgot everything but the handsome fifth year dancing with her.
"What happened the second time grandfather asked you to dance?" Lucy asked.
Molly smiled. "Actually, it was a repeat of that same party, only the fifth years celebrating were from my year, and the weary young wizard coming through the portrait hole was your grandfather."
"Did he ask you to dance or did you ask him?" Rose asked, making her cousins giggle.
"Arthur asked me again. I had brought over a butterbeer for him, and we'd sat together for a bit before he asked me to dance," Molly answered.
Rose looked disappointed. "Mum says I shouldn't be shy about asking a boy to dance or play or revise with me, so I'm disappointed you didn't ask Grandpa," she pouted.
"Rose, dear, the nineteen-sixties were a very different time," Molly smiled. "Someday you'll understand."
Roxanne stood up from the table. "I'm finished," she announced, looking round the table. "It looks like all of you are, too. Let's clean up and go somewhere where the chairs don't poke my back."
With a laugh, everyone agreed and with Ginny's and her granddaughters' help, Molly soon had the tea things put away. Then, with Roxanne leading the way, they all trooped into the lounge where Molly settled onto the couch and took up her knitting. Victoire perched next to her grandmother while her cousins all found places at their feet.
"Is your next story one from your sixth year?" Victoire asked.
"Yes," Molly confirmed. "I had been asked to Professor Slughorn's annual Christmas party by one of the boys in my year and had gone because Darlene dared me to go."
"But weren't you going out with Dad by then?" Ginny asked as she sat down in Molly's ancient rocking chair and pulled a tired-looking Lily into her lap.
"Not yet, dear. Don't hurry the story too much," Molly giggled as she began her story.
The evening had been a long and tedious one, filled with small talk with teachers and students she didn't like very much, mostly because there were very few at the party who weren't from Slytherin House. From the start, she'd had the feeling that Chester had asked her to the party simply because she was the only unattached Gryffindor sixth year girl.
The party itself hadn't been too awful until Chester started ignoring her for a tiny Hufflepuff seventh year named Clarice. It was then that Molly had been cornered by an outside guest who claimed to be a reporter for TheDaily Prophet. He'd asked her all sorts of uncomfortable questions about her political views. She had answered in monosyllables and then fled when he turned to take another glass of champagne from a passing tray. At half-past nine she returned to the Gryffindor common room in a very dispirited and un-holiday-like mood.
The common room was empty for once; Molly could hear giggles and happy chatter coming from the girls' stairway as she walked slowly towards it, her shoes in her hand. Yawning, she stopped in front of the fireplace, realizing that she still had to pack up her belongings for the train ride home in the morning. That would take another hour when all she wanted to do at the moment was fall into bed and pull the covers over her head.
"How was the party?" a familiar and welcome voice asked in her ear.
Turning around, Molly looked up into Arthur's face, realizing that he really was the handsomest wizard in Gryffindor House, despite some of the infuriatingly catty things her roommatessaid about him.
"It was all right, I suppose," she admitted, "but it would have been better if you'd had an invitation to the party and then asked me instead of Chester. He dumped me for Clarice Weldon fifteen minutes after we arrived!"
Arthur stepped forward and hugged her loosely. "He can have her. I'm glad..." he broke off, making Molly look up at him as she put her arms around his waist.
"What are you glad about?" she asked curiously.
"Well, erm, it's just that I was hoping that youwouldwanttogooutwithme," he said, ending his sentence very quickly.
Molly giggled. "Arthur Weasley, are you asking me to be your girlfriend?"
Arthur's ears turned bright red. "Will you?" he squeaked, as if he was holding his breath.
Molly smiled and said, "Yes, Arthur, I'll be your girlfriend if you'll be my boyfriend."
"I will," Arthur replied. Then, he said, "You look so elegant, Molly Prewett, may I have the pleasure of dancing with you?"
Laughing, Molly looked around the common room. "What would we dance to? Susan's packed up her wireless and taken it upstairs."
Arthur cocked his head, then said, "I don't think we need any music except the beating of our hearts. What say you, Molly Prewett... will you dance with me?"
Molly tightened her grip on Arthur's waist. "Yes. On your count?"
Arthur chuckled deep in his throat. "And a one and a two and a three!" he said, stepping into a slow waltz. Molly followed him, dancing with her favourite waltz in her head and a smile on her face. Not too long after they elected to snog on the couch, Molly sitting in Arthur's lap. It was a long time before Molly reluctantly went up to pack her trunk.
"So what happened when you went home?" Rose asked. "Were you still girlfriend and boyfriend?"
"Yes, we were, but only his family approved of his choice of girlfriend," Molly explained. "You see, I was living with your Great-Aunt Muriel during the summers and Christmas holidays. Besides my brothers, who were travelling sales-wizards at the time, Aunt Muriel was my only living magical relative. Her husband had recently passed, leaving her a wealthy widow. She was very strict and didn't approve of certain families, even if they were pure-blood, and Arthur's was one of them."
"Didn't she even try to like Grandpa?" little Molly asked.
"No, she didn't. She said some rather awful things about him and to him on several occasions when he came to pick me up for an outing that Christmas and later during the Easter hols and during the summer between my sixth and seventh years," Molly reported matter-of-factly.
"Is that one of the reasons Aunt Muriel never had anything nice to say about anyone in the family?" Ginny asked, a sly smile making her eyes twinkle.
Molly looked at her daughter. "I think you know the answer to that question, dear," she chuckled.
"Yes, and she was always happiest dishing out gossip and making other people uncomfortable with her observations," Ginny added.
Molly tugged hard at her ball of yarn, causing it to fly out of its basket and land amongst the group of giggling girls as she agreed, "And if anyone dared to disagree with her views, they didn't hear the end of her vindictive comments for years to come." She put down her knitting to take the yarn from Lucy. "Thank you, dear. There's one very special story I've been saving for last," she said, changing the subject and feeling her special Arthur-smile twitch at the corners of her mouth.
"Please tell us!"
"Did you get to wear your dress robes?"
"Did Grandpa wear his?"
"Was it romantic?"
Molly laughed at her granddaughters' questions. "Yes, all of the above. It takes place in May of my seventh year at Hogwarts," Molly said. "I remember it started like this..."
An unfamiliar owl brought a note at breakfast. Darlene, who was dressed in her Quidditch robes, tried to read it over Molly's shoulder. Molly immediately hid the small role of parchment under the table.
"I know who that's from," Darlene teased. "What's he say today?" She lowered her voice to a rumbling growl that nearly matched Arthur's voice and added, "Oh, Molly, I miss you so!"
Molly swatted her friend on the shoulder. "Go away, Darlene! I'm not showing it to you," she chuckled, slipping the note into her robe pocket. Then leaving her breakfast half-finished, she wandered up the marble staircase and into the privacy of one of the alcoves in the first floor corridor.
When she was satisfied she was alone, she leaned against the concealing statue and took out Arthur's note. It was short and to the point.
Arthur's nickname for her made her blush.
Meet me at the stairs before the match. Wear your dress robes.
All my love... xxx
Molly frowned. It was a warm day and her dress robes would be hot under her school robes. Why did Arthur want her to wear them to the Quidditch match to begin with? They were completely inappropriate for a sporting event and would most likely get dirty and possibly ripped if she wasn't careful. Besides, wasn't Arthur going to leave with the rest of the family members after the match... or... was he?
Think, Molly, she commanded herself. What is Arthur up to and what can you do to keep your dress robes clean and in good repair?
Then, she smiled. Stuffing Arthur's note back into her pocket, she dashed out of the alcove and hastened towards the Fat Lady's portrait and Gryffindor Tower. Thankfully, the Fat Lady was still in her frame and she admitted Molly as soon as she'd given the password. After a quick glance about the common room, Molly sprinted up the girls' stairs and slammed the door to her dormitory where she dug her trunk out from under her bed. She threw back the lid and lifted out a set of pink dress robes splashed with small green dots.
Quick as a flash, Molly transfigured the long-skirted robes into a sleeveless sun dress with a short skirt that just barely covered her knees. The garment was the perfect thing to wear under her school robes and she quickly changed into it. She was about to head out the door when she looked down at her feet.
Oh, no! Her feet were clad in her utilitarian school shoes. How had she forgotten? Again, she dashed back to her trunk and pulled out the green court shoes she normally wore with her dress robes. She put them on and a swish of her wand later, a pair of low-heeled sandals replaced the more formal shoes. Smiling, Molly put away her wand, shut her trunk and hurried out of her dormitory.
Arthur was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs that led to their usual seats in the Quidditch stadium.
"Arthur!" she called happily as she approached him.
"Molly, I've missed you so!" he exclaimed as he scooped her up and twirled her in a circle. Then setting her on her feet again, he leaned down and kissed her long and passionately. They only came up for air when the gathering crowd began cheering and making cat-calls and wolf whistles. "I think we have an audience, so up we go." He took her hand and the two of them joined the crowd flowing upwards into the stands.
Molly enjoyed the match, although she didn't remember much of it as they trooped down the stairs again four hours later. She was happy that Ravenclaw had won the match and the Quidditch Cup, but she'd been too focused on Arthur to be able to hold her own in a rehashing of the plays later in the common room... if that's where she'd be.
As they reached the ground, Arthur turned to her and said, "I... erm... would you..." He stopped and gazed up at the castle before clearing his throat and starting over. "Dumbledore gave me permission to stay after the match. Let's take a walk down to the lake."
He grabbed her hand and tucked it in the crook of his arm. Molly followed, wondering what had made Arthur so nervous all of a sudden and again why he'd asked her to wear her dress robes. They strolled at a leisurely pace and when they finally reached their favourite little cove an hour later, Arthur led her down to the water's edge. They stood there, admiring the view of the castle, knowing no one could see them this far from the front doors.
As they stood there, Arthur's stomach began rumbling.
"It must be six o'clock," Molly joked, turning in his arms and lifting her face to look into his deep brown eyes.
Arthur's eyes danced as he said, "It must be, and I have a surprise for you. Turn your back and don't look until I tell you."
"Should I be wearing my dress robes when I turn around?" she asked.
She did as requested, although it was hard not to look over her shoulder at him because of all the interesting little noises coming from behind her. She therefore concentrated on cancelling the charms on her robes.
At last, Arthur called out, "You can turn around, Molly."
She did and was greeted by the sight of Arthur—in his own dress robes—standing next to a magically levelled table and chairs under their favourite tree. It was spread with an elegant meal of Beef Wellington, jacket potatoes and greens on china plates complete with glasses of red wine. In the centre of the table, real candles and a bouquet of flowers held pride of place. Soft music filled the air from a wireless hanging from a branch above the table.
"Oh, Arthur! It's lovely!" Molly exclaimed as he came around the table to lead her to her seat. "Is there a reason for all this extravagance?"
"Thank you, my darling. There is," he said as he seated her. When he was seated across from her he gleefully told her, "I've been promoted from Clerk to Assistant and I wanted to celebrate with you."
Molly glanced down at her plate, barely breathing. The promotion meant more money; Arthur had told her they shouldn't entertain the idea of getting married until he could afford to support her. Maybe... just maybe... reality was closer than she thought.
When she looked up she smiled her best smile as she said, "I'm so proud of you, Arthur! Tell me about your promotion."
As they ate Arthur talked enthusiastically about joining the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office the day before. "I have my own desk," he crowed, "and if we're called out on location on Monday, Mr Lewis will be taking me along to help him interview the victims."
Molly raised an eyebrow. "Victims?"
"Yes, the Muggles who accidentally come in contact with enchanted objects," Arthur explained.
The conversation eventually drifted away from the reason for their celebration while the sun slid behind the mountains to be replaced by a blanket of stars and a quarter moon which seemed suspended over the lake.
At length, Arthur flicked his wand at the wireless, turning up the volume a bit. Then he came round the table and extended his hand.
"May I have this dance?" he asked as a new song began to play.
Molly rose and stepped into his embrace. "I'd love to dance with you," she whispered, feeling sated and very content.
They danced for some time on the edge of the lake, and Molly found herself lost in the sensation of being held by the wizard she loved. However, as the evening wore on, she realized that she was beginning to get cold and told Arthur so. They broke apart,and Arthur went to get her black robes from the back of her chair. When he returned, he gently laid something warm and furry on her shoulders, and she looked down to find that he had transfigured them into a fox fur stole. This made her laugh until she realized that he was no longer standing next to her. Instead, he was down on one knee, gazing up into her eyes.
"My dearest Mollywobbles," he began, "I have waited so long for this day. You make me so happy when I am with you that I want to be with you forever. Molly Prewett, will you do me the honour of marrying me, of becoming my wife?"
A tear dripped off Molly's nose as she answered breathlessly, "Yes, Arthur. Yes, I'll marry you."
Arthur rose, grinning, and an instant later they were in each other's arms, kissing so passionately that Molly lost all sense of time and space... The only thought that actually registered in her head was,I'm going to be Mrs Arthur Weasley!
Victoire laid her head on Molly's shoulder as she ended the tale. "What time did you get back to the common room, Grandmere?" she asked.
Molly felt herself blushing, even after all these years, at the memory. "Oh, about four o'clock," she answered softly, causing Victoire and her other granddaughters to gasp in shock.
"Did you get caught?" Roxanne asked.
Molly giggled softly. "Of course, we did, because the grumpy Fat Lady wouldn't let me in until the caretaker, Apollyon Pringle, had hauled your poor grandfather all the way to the front gates. In the meantime, I had my first scolding from a very angry portrait," she reported.
"He sounds worse than Mr Filch," Victoire commented, making Molly and Ginny giggle.
"He probably was," Molly told her granddaughter.
"Were you punished?" Lucy asked primly.
"Detention sorting smelly, slimy, rotten potion ingredients for Professor Slughorn for a week!" Molly said.
Her granddaughters exclaimed, "Ewwww!" as Ginny shuddered and remarked, "I did that for Snape once. Never again!" Molly smiled knowingly.
"Isn't there more to this story?" Ginny prompted from the rocking chair where Lily had fallen asleep in her lap.
Molly beamed at her daughter. "Of course there is, dear. You've heard this story often enough. Why don't you tell it?"
Ginny grinned as six eager faces turned towards her. "The way Grandmum told me and my brothers," she began, "the story ends about two months after that special night by the lake. Grandmum took her NEWT exams and left Hogwarts for the last time. A month later she and Grandfather eloped."
"What does 'eloped' mean, Aunt Ginny?" Rose asked.
Ginny smiled and looked up at Molly. "It means they ran away and were married without her brothers' permission," she explained.
"Oh. Did you live happily ever after?" Rose asked, turning to her grandmother. "In the Muggle stories Mummy reads to me the prince and princess always live happily ever after."
Molly reached down and scooped Rose into her lap. "Yes, Princess, we did," she said, looking at every one of her precious granddaughters' faces. "And all of you, my beautiful princesses, are part of it."
"I agree," Arthur said as he strode into the lounge. As he did so, he flicked his wand at the wireless, making soft music emanate from the speaker. When he reached Molly, he held out his hand. "Mollywobbles, may I have this dance?"
As Rose slid off her lap, Molly stood and placed her hand in his. "Yes, Arthur, I'd love to dance with you."