Disclaimer: I own nothing, except my own characters.
A couple walked down the path near the cemetery.
"I can't believe your brother lives in a place that has no traffic lights," snorted the man. "Hell, it only has one actual paved road."
"And what are you supposed to do for entertainment here?" he scoffed next. "Go hunting? Do beading? Crocheting?"
Dwight Moreland was still complaining when the couple arrived at the vicarage. Ignoring the protesting man beside her, the woman knocked on the door. Hearing noises within, Rosie Kennedy took a moment to turn to her boyfriend. "Shut up Dwight."
The door opened and Harry stood in the doorway, a placid baby lying along the length of his arm, back against his chest. Rosie smiled, thrilled to see her brother, as a cry was heard from deeper within the house.
"Hey Rosie," said Harry, speaking louder to be heard over the noise. "Take Auggie for me, will you?"
Rosie was more than obliging, taking her five month old nephew into her arms. Dwight was summarily ignored as Harry waved them in and disappeared into the room past the stairs. "It's okay, Lon," said the tall man in soothing tones. "I'm right here."
Just who "Lon" was became apparent when the new arrivals stepped into the lounge room and Harry was jostling a whimpering toddler in his arms.
Resting the baby against her shoulder, Rosie eyed her brother, then her boyfriend – both who were eyeing each other.
"Harry," she began, removing her hand from Auggie's back to gesture. "This is Dwight, my boyfriend. Dwight, my brother Harry." The introductions carried onto the children. "And these are my gorgeous niece London and nephew August."
Pleasantries dispensed with, and both men still eyeing each other warily, Rosie rested her cheek against the soft hair of the baby in her arms as she spoke of her sister-in-law. "Where's Geraldine?"
Geraldine herself answered that question when she came down the stairs, rubbing her eyes and speaking in a loud voice. "Have we been invaded yet?" She didn't wait for an answer. "I'm leaking like a faucet. I feel like such a cow sometimes..." Her voice trailed off as she reached the bottom step and realised they had company.
"Hello," she drew out in a perky tone, clasping her hands together.
"Dwight, meet my sister-in-law, the Vicar of Dibley," said Rosie proudly, handing over her nephew to his mother when the baby reached out with chubby arms.
"You're the vicar?" queried Dwight dubiously as Geraldine took her son into her arms.
"You got a problem with that?" the big woman replied defiantly, throwing her body back and raising an eyebrow as she surveyed Rosie's current choice of man. "He better be good in bed sweetheart," Geraldine said to her sister-in-law. "Cos he's seriously lacking in the manner department."
Dwight sputtered indignantly as Rosie grinned and hugged her friend. "It's good to see you too."
The two women exchanged a warm glance before the vicar announced to all that she was going to excuse herself for the moment to feed Auggie. "Trust me," she added before leaving. "That is not something you want to see."
London began crying again when her mother left the room and Harry had his hands full with the tired little girl.
Gesturing for his sister and her plus one to take a seat on the couch, he paced the length of carpet between the lounge walls. When London settled a little, Harry took the chair opposite them, resting his daughter on his chest. Placing a dummy in her mouth, he folded his arms firmly across her small form and rocked her slightly backwards and forwards.
Cries soon became whimpers, then sucking sounds, as the toddler finally dozed off. "Sorry about that," apologised Harry to his visitors. "We'd planned on being a little more organised than this."
The conversation got no further as a knock sounded at the door.
Harry shifted forward and rose, shifting London to his shoulder as he apologised once again to his sister and headed for the door.
Opening it, he heard his wife's loud voice. "Who is it?"
"It's me," called back Owen loudly.
There was movement as Harry and Owen eyed each other.
"What do you want Owen?" asked Geraldine, throwing the door open, Auggie blinking owlishly at her shoulder.
"I need your services most urgently vicar."
"What now Owen?" asked Geraldine exasperatedly.
"I need you to bless the lambs."
Geraldine looked at the farmer sceptically. "We're not talking about any old blessing are we?"
Owen removed his cap and held it in his hands. "I need you to do a christening."
"Right," drew out Geraldine dubiously.
"It's important you see," continued Owen. "I've named them all and I want to get them blessed so that when I slaughter them, they'll be extra tasty. Being holy and all, you know."
"You never cease to surprise me," laughed Geraldine incredulously, one hand on her hips, the other holding her son in place. "Just when I think you've said and done it all, out you come with this."
Owen shrugged off her comments as he put his cap back on. He looked set to speak again as he looked at the baby. "My offer still stands to rear one of your children as my own," the farmer said hopefully.
"Goodbye Owen," said the vicar, shutting the door in his face.
Moving toward the kitchen, she spun on her heel when there was another knock at the door. She opened it vigorously to find Frank there, decked out in his finest, complete with pink waistcoat.
"If you have a moment vicar," the elderly man began, shuffling forward with a thick wad of papers in hand. "I'd be most obliged if you could read my speech."
Geraldine just looked at the notes in his hand. "Where on earth are you speaking? 'The League of Verbose Gentlemen'?"
"No," corrected Frank. "At the Centurion's club."
"They'll be living for another century at this rate," she replied.
It was Harry who spoke next. "I'll look it over for you Frank."
"Much obliged Mr Kennedy."
Frank leaving, Geraldine turned to her husband, both still holding their sleeping children. "We should get this lot into bed and entertain our guests."
Promptly, there was another knock at the door.
This time it was Jim.
He held up a DVD. "I want to organise a movie screening."
Harry eyed the cover and promptly made his exit. "This is all yours," he declared, taking his son into his arms. He slipped up the stairs as Geraldine faced Jim. "You do know that this is a dance video, right?"
"No, no, no, no, yes." He grinned. "They're going to dance for me. Preferably in low light and without much clothing."
"The idea is for you to dance with them," replied Geraldine, highlighting her point with gestures.
"No, no, no, no, no," protested Jim.
"Go and watch it at home," she ordered. "On your own," she added loudly down the path. She scrunched up her face as she shut the door, considering what Jim just might get up to on his own.
Shuddering in an attempt to be rid of the mental image, she turned to find her husband stepping off the last of the stairs.
She sighed a moment, rested her head on his chest, tugging on his jumper before she snapped herself upright and plastered a smile on her face. "Righto, let's do this."
Entering the lounge room, she clasped her hands together as she faced their guests. Stopping suddenly, Harry almost ran into her, compensating when he braced his hands on her shoulders.
Geraldine threw them off completely when another knock sounded at the door. "Rargh!" she cried as she turned and left the room.
Throwing open the door, she shouted at the people on her doorstep. "Go away!"
"Now is that the way to greet your dinner guests?" chided Alice, tapping Geraldine on the nose.
Geraldine took her time, placing a hand on her hip as she leaned on against the door jamb. "What day is it Alice?"
The blonde verger thought hard before laughing. "Oh right. I forgot!"
"I've got visitors," said the vicar with a loud whisper, pointing into the house.
"Oh," clapped Alice. "You should bring them out so they can meet the children – we've been practicing."
"Oh Mum," said Geraldine Junior, sparing a glance away from her phone long enough to roll her eyes.
Alice ignored her eldest daughter, bringing forth a harmonica. "Now remember, on my count... Liesl... Friedrich... Louisa... Kurt... Marta... Gretl..." As each child obediently stepped forward at their tune, Geraldine eyed the line up.
"You're going to scar that kid for life," said Geraldine sagely, referring to the decidedly male Gretl. "And you're missing one."
David Horton arrived then, pushing his book reading granddaughter forward. "You left Brigitta behind," he puffed.
Alice grinned as she gestured toward her eight children. "I present to you the Family van Horton – seven singers and the evil Floorline Shaper."
Are those actually curtains? Geraldine wondered to herself. And is Ged wearing a blonde wig?
"Ah Alice." she said instead, making a show of counting before placing her fingers under her chin in a thoughtful pose. "Don't you have ten children?"
Hugo answered that question when he came from the opposite direction his father had, Henrietta and Humphrey under each arm. "I found them!"
"There's my little Nazis!" exclaimed Alice running toward them, kissing the children.
Geraldine spared a glance at the long-suffering David who was covering his face, shaking his head, before extricating herself and backing into the house, leaving the Horton clan to skip off, singing badly down the path and onto the road.
She closed the door, bolted it firmly and returned to the lounge room to find Rosie turning laughingly from the window. "What on earth was that?"
"Christmas carollers from the loony bin," said Geraldine drolly.
She wrapped her arm around her husband. "So where were we?"
As the three of them descended into a stream of non-stop chatter, food suddenly appearing and drinks poured, it was all Dwight could do to look around bemused.
"What is this madhouse?"