Anton Mickawber

Story Summary:
Three in the morning and the fireworks are just coming to a crescendo at the Burrow! The twins sad? Ginny mad? Some new head gear? (The grand finale of The Weasley Family Picnic. H/G, R/Hr, Bill/Fleur, Charlie/Tonks, Percy/Penny, Fred/George/Angelina/Katie/Alicia, and of course, Arthur/Molly.)

Author's Note:
This story concludes the cycle begun in "Tossing Apples," and continued in "Tea," "Time," and "Toi."


The first pair of lips are thin, and the second pair pouty. The third pair are full and warm and those are the ones that cause George's eyes to fly open.

"Seeya, George," Angelina sighs as he flicks a glance, first to his twin, then to the other two girls, who are pulling their clothes on.

"Don't go," he manages to say. "'S late."

"Yeah," Katie says. "Angie and I got practice tomorrow. This morning. Morag'll have our bloody hides if we're not sharp. We gotta get some real sleep."

"And my bosses are bloody slave drivers," Alicia teases. "If I'm not there to open the shop, they'll kill me..."

"Ali.." George pleads.

"Nah, George, I'm helping my mum shop for a dress for my sister's wedding. Gotta be there before I get to work, you slave drivers, you," she says glumly, tucking her top into her jeans.

"Besides," Angelina says with a grin, "if we were still here in the morning, your mum would serve the lot of us up for breakfast to the rest of the crew."

"Tata," Katie says, a sly smile barely visible on her cupid's bow of a mouth from across the starlit room. "Do this again, some time, shall we?"

With soft pops, the three girls Disapparate.

On the other twin bed, Fred lets loose a long sigh.

Feeling unaccustomedly tentative, George whispers, "What is it, my brother?"

"A sad day, my brother," Fred moans.

"A sad day?" goggles George, peering across to where his twin is lying on his back, staring at the ceiling.

"Yeah," Fred mutters, "sad. Have you considered what a tragedy it is, brother mine, for two men such as ourselves to have lived out our every fantasy before our twentieth birthday? What is there left to live for?"

His mind a tangle of Bell, Spinnet and Johnson limbs, George snorts.

"I mean it!" insists Fred. "I mean, why do we do it all?"

"What?" George gasps.

"All of it. I mean, the pissing around with the girls, I guess I can see that... But the pranks. And the joke shop. And the Order.... What the bloody hell is it all leading to?" Fred's voice is flat, dead.

George yanks his wand from beneath his pillow and jumps across to the other bed. "All right," he hisses, pointing the wand at his brother's square face, "who the bloody hell are you and what the hell have you done with my brother Fred?"

Fred swats at the wand, and purple sparks scorch his pillow. "Cut it the fuck out, George. I'm serious."

"That's why I'm worried, you stupid sod," George mutters. "Look," he says, swinging himself off of his brother's stomach to sit on the tangled sheets at the side of the bed, "the stuff we do for the Order is important. We're trying to save lives. And the joke shop.... I think Harry was right, when he gave us that money. People need to laugh, now more than ever...."

"I suppose," sighs Fred. Then he snorts and grins, "Should have seen your face, when I said I was serious!..."

Laughing, George whacks his twin's bare shoulder. "Bloody hell. You were scaring the life out of me." A thought cools his relief. "Fred, did it bother you, when Angie and me?..."

Fred gives a throaty, hollow laugh. "Or when Angie and Katie?... Or Angie and Alicia?... Nah. Why would it bother me? It was amazing...." He shakes his head. "I think I'm... stunned. In shock. That's all."

George hits his brother's shoulder again, just because it seems like the thing to do. "You're hungry, that's what it is," he says. "Too much sex and alcohol on an empty stomach. Shall we raid the larder, brother of mine?"

"A little midnight snack. Just what the Healer ordered!" Fred sits up, and George is suddenly struck by an odd wave of embarrassment. He and Fred have never been at all modest around each other. It has always seemed pointless. But somehow, after the last couple of hours, the small marks and scratches on his brother's body make him more than a bit shy. He tosses his brother's pajamas to him, then goes to retrieve his own.

As they walk down the stairs, they hear voices--not raised, exactly, but definitely angry. "Is that Tonks?" George whispers.

Fred puts a finger up to his lips. "Our Charlie's done something stupid, I reckon."

"Must've been pretty good if they're rowing about it at this time of night..." says George, and they slink up the shadowed side of the hallway, trying to catch whatever blackmail material they can.

"...not going to bloody quit and pack off to Romania to cook bloody goulash and clean your bloody fireproof cloak, you got it?"

Charlie's voice mumbles unintelligibly.

"Tonks, he's not asking you to..." It is Hermione's voice, and George and Fred share a look of surprise.

"I don't want to fucking talk about it with the entire bloody Weasley clan!" hisses Tonks. "This is between Charlie and me!"

Since when did Hermione join the Weasley clan?

"Tonks," Charlie pleads, before his voice dissipates again into a murmur.

"Everybody in everybody else's pocket, remember?" Harry says, voice low but strong. "Tonks. There's something else bothering you. You don't have to tell us, but don't take it out on Charlie."

Tonks laughs, a bark that puts George in mind of Tonks's late cousin. "Bloody hell, Harry, do you have to pull the Dumbledore routine on us?"

"I'm not a Legilemens, Tonks," Ginny's boyfriend says, a hint of humor coloring the seriousness of his tone. "Professor Snape says I lack the requisite subtlety, whatever the hell that means."

Charlie speaks clearly for the first time. "Tonks, luv, even I know something's bothering you, and Weasley men are about as empathic as Blast-Ended Screwts. Even before I asked... C'mon."

There's an odd vibrato sound, and George realizes with a lurch that Tonks must be crying. Pulling a face at Fred, he reaches the decision to intrude, if only to change the mood. Fred nods.

The two walk in, and are stunned to see not only Charlie, Tonks and Ron's best friends, but Ginny (coiled in Harry's arms), Bill, with Fleur in his lap, and Percy, of all people, all of them arrayed around the scrubbed oak table. The group looks up, rather less astonished than they should have been to see the twins. Come on, it's after three in the morning.

"Well, well," George says, putting on a practiced scowl, "what's all this then?"

"George, my brother," says Fred with a frown that George knows mirrors his own, "looks like a bloody picnic, and the two of us not invited! Shocking."

"Well," Percy says tartly, "you seemed to have visitors. We wouldn't have wanted to disturb your... diversions for the evening."

Bloody hell... Is Percy... winding them up?

Bill snorts, and Fleur titters.

Charlie smirks over Tonks's head and says, "We all seemed to have a bit of trouble with silencing charms this evening."

Percy looks haughty. "Speak for yourselves. I was a model of celibacy and decorum tonight."

"Well," Hermione says, her eyes glistening in a frighteningly Weasley-like manner, "just how many people did I hear snoring in your room just now?"

Fred splutters before George can say, "Ginny and Ron have been a bad influence on you, Miss Granger. We're beginning to question your morals. Right, Fred?"

"Too bloody right, George," says Fred. "We'll have to keep an eye on you and our little bro, or you'll start popping out little red-heads in no time..."

Hermione blushes most gratifyingly, but Ginny looks at Fred, then gasps, "Tonks!"

The Auror, who has had her face buried in Charlie's armpit, looks up, shock plain on her face. Her eyes meet Ginny's, and then, in quick succession, Tonks blushes, Ginny blanches, and Tonks's hair begins to go through kaleidoscopic panoply of colors never seen in outside of an aviary.

Charlie stares down at his ladyfriend, probably blinded by the flashing locks, certainly looking confused, and says, "What? Tonks, what?"

"Oh, bloody hell, Tonks, I sorry, I shouldn't have said," Ginny moans.

Still red-faced, her hair settling back from electric blue to silky blue-black, Tonks cries, "What kind of time is this to have a bloody BABY, let alone a bloody BLACK baby!" Her eyes dark and hard, her resemblance to her aunt makes George's stomach go cold.

Charlie tries to whisper something to her, but she wrenches away from him and starts towards the back yard door.

Harry gets there first, Ginny holding his hand. The two of them smile, but block Tonks's escape route. "It isn't Bellatix I see when I look at you, Tonks. It's you." He smiles, a smile that makes George sadder than Tonks's tears had. "You, and my godfather."

From the table, Percy clears his throat. "As to this being not being a good time... Well, have you ever wondered why there's a forty-month space between myself and Charlie, when the rest of this lot were pumped out every eighteen to twenty-four months?"

Tonks's expression is a peculiar mix of exasperation and confusion.

"Well," Percy says, as if she's bloody answered, "our mother was an operative of the first Order, you see. And those were the days when... You-Know-Who was on the ascendant."

"Just say his name," Harry mutters.

"Tom," sighs Ginny.

Percy flinches, and then continues. "Mother told me that she and Father worried about bringing another child into such a world, all the more since she was already anxious about Bill and Charlie. But then Father said that it was important to think about after the war, to think for the future. That that was the way truly to defeat.... Vol... Voldemort." Percy glares at Harry and Ginny; Ginny gives the prat a smile.

Charlie looks around the room and says--clearly more for the family's benefit than Tonks's--"You don't have to have the baby, Tonks. No one here feels that you do. And," he says with a very uncharacteristic glare, "I don't bloody care even if they do. You do what you need to do. You don't need to have the baby, and you don't have to marry me, but I would be more happy than I could tell you..."

Tonks puts a finger to Charlie's lips, silencing him. "We'll talk about the, uh, pregnancy thing later, okay? I do care what you think. I just... It's hard enough getting used to talking about this sort of thing with one person, let alone...." She glances around the room, looking supremely uncomfortable until her eyes lock with Harry's. He nods to her, and she smiles for the first time since George and Fred came in.

"Right," Charlie says, and kisses her finger, "Got it."

"Yeah," Tonks says, and suddenly her hair, which was just to her shoulders, tumbles down to the middle of her back, smooth and lustrous.

"Uh, Tonks?"

"Yeah, Charlie?"

"Uh, what about the other thing?"

"The other thing?" Tonks, a gleam in her eye. "The other thing?"

"That's right," says Charlie, and it looks as if he's swallowed one of Hagrid's cakes, his Adam's apple is working so hard. "You know. The other thing. I asked about."

"Oh!" Tonks says in a tone of supposed surprise that no one in the room is buying. "The other thing!"

"Tonks..." pleads Charlie, and it is a sad thing indeed to see a proud member of the House of Weasley reduced to this.

She looks him up and down for a second, then smirks. "Hmmm," she says. "Yeah. Sure. Why not."

Charlie is silent for a moment. "Why not? You mean... yes?"


After spluttering for a second and goggling at her, Charlie starts to try to say something, but he doesn't get out whatever swotty romantic prattle he was going to spew, because Tonks pulls him into a kiss that gives evidence to her years of hand-to-hand combat training.

There are several sighs and sniffles around the room. George feels... uncertain how to feel. He knows this calls for teasing on a grand scale, but somehow he doesn't have the stomach for it just at the moment. He looks to his twin and sees the same unwonted look of seriousness that surprised George earlier in their old room.

"Well," sighs a breathy Fleur, "Another one! Truly a night for the celebration, n'est pas?"

"Another?" grunts George. "What are you on about, Fleur?"

His eldest brother grins and says, "Let's review the bidding, shall we? The amorous couple over there seem to be, uh, engaged?" Without coming up for air, Tonks and Charlie give Bill matching thumbs-up signals. After laughing, Bill continues, "Earlier this evening, Fleur and I decided to get married, as did Ron--where is Ron, by the way?--and Hermione here."

"Nice work, Hermione," teases Fred.

"Actually, Ron asked me," she answers primly.

"Nice work, Ron!" laughs George. "Didn't know he had it in him!"

"Hey!" calls Harry, but he too is laughing.

"I hope he isn't upset that he didn't get to tell you all," Hermione frets.

"Don't worry, Hermione," Ginny says with a wry smile, "he'll be pleased not to have had to."

Percy clears his throat.

"Oh," Bill says, taking his cue, "And Percy told us he and Miss Clear... Bloody hell. There're going to be a bloody boatload of Mrs. Weasleys around here pretty soon."

"Why do you think I opted for Granger-Weasley?" says Hermione.

"You think per'aps peoples will 'ave a 'ard time telling us apart?" smirks Fleur, and Harry, Ginny and Hermione laugh.

"Anyway," Bill says tickling his intended until she yelps, "Percy and Penny apparently ran off to some Muggle church last year and got married. Beat us all to it. And he's been waiting for an appropriate moment to tell us. And then, of course, our only sister and youngest charge, Miss Ginevra here, has, if I understand the winking and giggling that's been going on, shared intimate relations with young Mr. Potter there for the first time tonight."

"BILL!" screams Ginny. Harry hides his face in her hair, but not before his complexion matches her hair color.

"So," Bill concludes, turning back to the twins, "do you two have anything you'd like to tell us?"

Fred laughs, "Not bloody likely!"

George grins. "But we can tell there's a lot of planning to do! Batchelor parties! Hen parties! Girls, we've got these wands..."

Ginny throws a cloth napkin at George, and the entire room bursts into laughter. Charlie was already crying, but soon, so are Bill and Hermione: tears of laughter.

Chuckling, George looks to his brother and is relieved to see a grin on his face, too. When he looks back at the table again, Harry has moved from behind Ginny and is looking around the room.

No longer red-faced, he's clearing his throat, but no one seems to hear him. He looks back at Ginny, but she merely blinks at him. Then he gets down on one knee.

George gives a shrill whistle, silencing the room. Everyone looks around to George, then follows his gaze to the tableau in front of the door.

Ginny looks down at her inamorato, her eyes round in frank terror. "Harry, don't."

"Ginny..." The boy's voice, which has always been low and earnest, is barely audible, even in the stunned silence of the three-in-the-morning Weasley kitchen. "I realize we're both too young to get married now. But I've been thinking about what Hermione said, and Percy, and... If not now, when? I have no doubts who I'd like to spend the rest of my life with." He looks down to where her hand was held in both of his. "Even if... that's not a terribly long time."

Fleur, Percy and Hermione put their hands in front of their mouths like three Speak No Evil monkeys. Tonks looks as if someone has just punched her in the stomach.

Harry doesn't seem to have noticed. "Ginny..." He clears his throat. "Ginevra Weasley, would you do me the honor of consenting to become my wife if I survive this war, and of making me..." He looks around the room and smiles that innards-wrenching smile again, "Making me one of the luckiest men on the face of the earth."

George is about to make a remark--very tasteful--about Harry already having gotten lucky that night, but Ginny catches his eye again, making it clear to him that hexes of a very unpleasant sort will be his reward if he doesn't shtum. So he bites his cheeks.

She looks down at the Boy Who Kneeled, and to George's surprise the angry look doesn't soften one iota. "Okay, Harry," she says, "you want to play High Ball? You want to Shoot the bloody Moon? Fine. But before you get my answer, before you see my cards, you have to make a couple of agreements, got it?"

Astonished, Harry nods.

"If you say yes, you're living up to these agreements no matter how I answer you, understand me?"

He nods again, looking worried that he is about to be devoured.

Ginny holds up one dagger-like finger. "One, I will not be shunted off, kept safe or left behind, do you bloody hear me? So, no more little adventures off on your own, or even with Ron and Hermione or Luna and bloody Neville. If you're going to treat me like a woman then I expect to be treated like a bloody grown-up as well. If you go to the bloody loo, I want to go with you. Because if you die and I'm not there, Harry Potter, I'm going to fucking kill you, do you understand?"

Eyes wide beneath his glasses, Harry nods again and says, barely audible, "Yes. I agree."

She flicks up a second finger so rigidly that the gesture is hysterically obscene and George is hard pressed to contain the giggles. "Two. If you ask this now, I'm not going to be bloody understanding when you're thirty-five bloody years old and some cute school girl starts batting her eyes at you, paunchy, balding old prat that you will no doubt be. I take this bloody seriously, right? You're the one who asked, yeah? So remember that you are agreeing to forsake all others and all of that bloody crap, and if you fuck around on me, Harry Potter, I'm going to cut your balls off and stuff them down your throat. Okay?"

White as Nearly Headless Nick, Harry nods one more time. "I, uh, agree. I'll hand you the knife. Rusty."

Ginny starts to try to say something, but her outburst seems to have run out of steam. Lower lip trembling, she looks down at Harry, then throws herself on him, knocking him to the ground.

The room bursts into applause. Hermione bursts into tears.

"What's all this racket at this time of night?" comes a voice that makes George and Fred both leap out of the doorway, and sets pure silence on the room. Mother Weasley, her hair a Medusa-like corona of distemper, is standing at the entrance, a groggy husband at her elbow.

"Is that tea I smell?" her calmer half mutters and crosses toward the table, apparently taking no notice of the ten astonished faces that are staring up at him and the lady of the house.

"Ginevra Molly Weasley, what are you and Harry doing on the kitchen floor at ten past three in the morning?" Their mother peers around the room, imperious. "When it comes to that, what are the lot of you doing here at this time of night?"

"Well, Mum..." Fred starts and looks to George.

"See, there's a lot to tell you, so you might want to sit..."


"Wazzat?" blears Dad. A Great Horned Owl is tapping at the door's glass. The Weasleys' father stumbles over to let it in, tripping over a very embarrassed-looking Harry and Ginny before he finally opens the door.

The huge owl lands on the table, presenting not a parchment letter but a Muggle one on fine linen paper. Two more owls glide in bearing a box and lay it on the counter, where the Weasleys' mother shuffles over to untie the package. "What in the name of Merlin?..."

Blinking sleep from his eyes, her husband opens the envelope and peers at the letter inside. "It's from... Ten Downing Street. Poor Amos Diggory has submitted his resignation, and the Prime Minister has apparently accepted...."

Percy can't see his father's face go white, so he mutters, "High time, I say."

Their mother hasn't noticed either, because she squeals in a most undignified manner as the box opens. "ARTHUR!" she shouts. When she turns around, she is holding a lime green bowler.

Slackjawed, the newly appointed Minister for Magic looks up and takes in the stunned faces of his family--a family that has, without his knowing it, added several members this evening. "Well," he says, "what do you know about that?"

Just as he is about to be mobbed by his wife, children and children-in-law-to-be, a voice calls from the hallway.

"Merlin, I'm starving," Ron yawns, then stops, shocked at the evidently excited crowd in the kitchen. Looking around at the faces arrayed before him, then locking eyes with a flushed Hermione, he blinks. "What have I missed?"

Author notes: Well, in for a sigh, in for a Sickle, I always say. Why do anything by half measures....


I would like to thank the Hog's Head Barmaid for her excellent beta skills, and for not allowing me to let this last story become TOO saccharine.... Well, at least, not MORE saccharine.... :-)