Disclaimer: See chapter 1.
Author's Note: And here's the last chapter. So, with revisions, I'm a little happier with Molly's actions—a little less screaming, a little more just general disapproval and disappointment. It's been fun to go back through it, particularly to see my author's notes, because the original postings were during my pregnancy and that slowed me down with posting chapters. Now I have a toddler and I just published my first novel via Kindle and a couple other platforms (there's a link to my blog on my profile, which has a page about that if you're interested).
Chapter 12: But Custom Delight
The morning after the disastrous Order Party, Ginny showed up unexpectedly. "Are you okay?" she asked, once Hermione had made tea and ordered some biscuits from the kitchen.
"I don't know," said Hermione. "I'm sorry we just left—I just couldn't be there anymore."
"Were you hoping Mum would come to her senses about you and Severus the moment Charlie told her about him and Andrei?" Ginny asked.
"Not exactly," said Hermione. "Maybe. You know how she said that I was part of your family, that I was like another daughter to her? After my parents died, remember? Molly said that I still had a family, and it was all of you. But when confronted with something I chose that she didn't like, she went berserk. And with Charlie, with him telling her about something he's kept mostly a secret for years, which is something that you'd expect her to explode about, her reaction was that she wanted him to be happy. I guess it just hit me that I'm not really part of your family. Not in your mum's eyes, at least."
Ginny sighed. She'd wondered if that was what Hermione had taken away from the night before. "You are for the rest of us. You know that. You and Severus were unexpected, but it's pretty obvious that he makes you happy. He's never going to be my favourite person, or Harry's for that matter, but you two are good together. And I believe we reserved judgement."
"You did. You were surprised but you handled it well. Your mum didn't." Hermione stared into her teacup.
"It'll get better," said Ginny. "Mum will calm down about it eventually, even if we can't talk her into apologizing. I think Charlie's actually planning to have a word with her. He's pretty appalled about what she said to you before he managed to get a word in. I'm not sure what it is, but my working theory right now is that she really wanted you for a daughter-in-law, so you'd officially be part of the family, and that didn't happen, so she's in a snit. I don't know why it's worse than usual."
"Maybe she's going through menopause," Hermione said hopefully.
Ginny laughed. "Could be," she replied. "Anyway, now that Charlie's out, we're hoping to get Mum to calm down about you."
"I'll believe it when I see it," Hermione said, picking a biscuit up from the tray the house elf had dropped off and biting into it. "How was the rest of the party?"
"As you might expect," said Ginny. "George spiked the punch and it all went downhill from there."
Several weeks later, Hermione received a letter from Molly Weasley. It was an awkward apology, one that apologized for the screaming and the Howler but not for the sentiments screamed, that attempted to make amends while retaining a position of rightness. Hermione sighed, and accepted it in a short, brief letter. This was the best she was going to get. Molly was convinced that Severus was wrong for her, and nothing she could say or do would change the woman's mind. It was time to let go.
Molly behaved herself at family gatherings, limiting her reactions to a few muttered comments, but things would never be the same. Hermione felt like she was grieving for her parents all over again, even though the rest of the Weasley family, even Harry, welcomed Severus with open arms.
Months and then years went by, and Hermione and Severus started trying for a family. Hermione had just given birth to their first child, a daughter, when the Marriage Law was repealed by the newest Minister for Magic in an effort to boost his popularity. Molly, to her credit, didn't say a word, but a few distant acquaintances hinted that Hermione might want to divorce Severus now that she could. She rolled her eyes at one letter she'd received from a former schoolmate.
"Apparently Lisa thinks I only married you because of the law, and that I'll be leaving you any day," she remarked.
Severus, sitting and holding their daughter in the comfortable rocking chair that had become crucial to peace in their home snorted. "Because the prospect of single motherhood with this one is so attractive?"
Rowan stirred slightly but stayed asleep. The two held their breaths for a moment, and then Hermione answered, "She's not so bad like this, is she?"
"No, but when she's awake..."
"She's your daughter, love," said Hermione. "No wonder she's insufferable."
He smirked. "Well, other than the demands for our constant attention, she is perfect. I'd say she has a right to be insufferable."
"Maybe we should try for another one next year," said Hermione. "Teach her how to share. If we continue like this, she'll be spoiled beyond measure."
"Perhaps," he agreed. "Or perhaps one is enough. I doubt you wish to emulate Molly."
Hermione shook her head. "Heavens, no. I'm not going through pregnancy more than twice." Then she smiled. "Molly sent us something today. You were asleep when I arrived." She got up and found the box Molly had posted and lifted out a brightly coloured knit blanket. "Another blanket. And she sent some sort of biscuits. I think she had James and Albus helping her with those. They're shaped a little weird but they taste fine." She draped the blanket over the edge of the sofa. "I think she's finally okay with us."
"It's about time," Severus murmured, pausing in his rocking for a moment. The baby yawned suddenly and he immediately started rocking the chair again. "You go have a shower while she's still asleep. Once she wakes up, she'll be hungry again."
Hermione leaned over and kissed her husband's cheek. "Thanks. Love you." She paused at the door, looking at her family. Severus looked as exhausted as she was, but happy. Hermione remembered the letter from her friend and wanted to laugh all over again. Perhaps they were an unconventional pair, but that didn't matter. It never had.