Perfect Dress
Rating: PG
McGonagirl, Hermi2

My name is Molly Prewitt Weasley. I'm married to Arthur Weasley and I am the mother of seven (six boys and one girl), and I'm used to a high decibel level in our home, but I'm also attuned to the keening of my children when something actually is very very wrong.

I looked toward the stairs and watched as her two youngest tumbled down. Ginny, my youngest was clutching some red fabric scraps which I recognized as the dress she'd planned to be wearing at Bill's upcoming wedding.

Bill is my and Arthur's first-born, and he's marrying Fleur Delacoeur, the Beauxbatons Academy Tri-wizard Tournament candidate a couple of years ago. She is one-quarter Veela, and thus is irresistible to men, which worried me a lot. Veela are a breed of witch who can cast love spells without so much as trying. Traditionally, they were used to incapacitate whole armies. What good is being smart and strong against such power?

But Fleur showed that she truly loved Bill and wanted to be with him, even after his face was permanently maimed in a battle against an off-season werewolf. Fortunately, he would not become a werewolf, according to Remus Lupin since the evil Grayback was not in full wolf form at the time of the attack. "He will have a predilection for raw meat," was the only symptom he predicted.

I guess I can understand their desire to be married so quickly. After all, Arthur and I had married quickly after graduation, too. They are very young with many dreams, and it makes me happy to know that they see a bright future, rather than one of fear and hatred now that You-Know-Who is back and fighting ...

Alas, neither they nor our family has extra money for anything. But the point here is that a marriage is about love and fun and family, and so the Delacoeurs agreed to fund the wedding of their eldest daughter. In return, we agreed that the Weasley family would do the work and preparations to feed the many guests who are keen to attend this celebration.

Fleur had chosen a simple and elegant silvery-white dress to go with the silver tones in her hair. She asked her sister and Ginny to be her bridesmaids, and chose slim red star-printed sheaths for the two young girls. I guess she reasoned that the color would suit both a blonde and a red-head, and it suited them both perfectly.

The chosen dresses are more expensive than either the Delacoeurs or the Weasleys could afford for our daughters, so I offered to make the bridesmaids' dresses. I reckoned that would free up some money so that Fleur could get the dress she truly wanted, and it would be a good opportunity to teach Ginny how to sew a finer garment.

The home-sewn dresses came out very well. In fact, they came out so well that Ron asked to borrow Ginny's, and thus the wailing I am suffering now.

I should explain that my youngest son, Ron, is a good boy. He's a more normal boy than the others, I think. He's not the smartest, nor the handsomest, nor the most political, nor is he the class clown, but he succeeds just by being good. He's been prefect at Hogwart's, has a lovely girlfriend, and he's good, good friends of Harry Potter, who's in his class at school. He's a good boy, too.

Anyway, he practically worships the trouble Fred and George always seem to get into! Their one position older than Ron in the family. They're twins, and they own a jokeshop now and are proving to be extremely astute businessmen! Yes, they're troublesome sometimes, but they have really good hearts. They have been putting money into the Weasley family vault at Gringott's. They say it saves them the trouble of opening their own vault, but really, I think it's their way of looking after me and Arthur. I really appreciate their concern, and I keep that money along the back wall of the vault, not to be touched except in emergencies.

Fred and George are throwing a "stag party" for Bill before the wedding at their jokeshop! I didn't think it would be a good idea, but they pointed out that they wouldn't have to rent the space, and they're asking old Harold to attend. He used to be the cook from the Leaky Tavern; he retired a while ago due to age, but he offered to cook some mushroom pies for the meal, which Bill had always thought was such a great treat when we took him there before going shopping at Diagon Ally. They also invited Tom, the bartender, who offered to make a pink colored beer! Anyway, all the boys would all chip in for beer since no one should expect it to be free.

I got really worried when I found out from Arthur that the theme was a "drag stag" ... meaning all the men had to dress as women! Arthur rummaged through my things and came up with a flowery print dress and a wig! Can you imagine?? He doesn't look bad in it, but it's very strange to see him in it. I wouldn't want him in my things regularly, you can be sure of that.

I know Fred and George are using wigs and dresses ordered through their store. They promise they make perfectly beautiful girls, and that I'd regret not having more daughters. Cheeky buggers! I did ask how they'd get Percy to wear a dress, and they just told me not to worry. "We ordered a special dress for him, Mum!" A "special" anything from those two is always cause to worry, in my opinion.

I heard that Charlie, my second boy, was looking after Bill's gear, which meant only Ron was left without a dress! (I never thought I'd be saying such a thing ...)

He came home when I was pinning the hem for Ginny's dress. She was standing on the kitchen table and slowly turning on the lazy susan which we normally use to keep food on, so everyone can serve themselves. I had a mouthful of pins, but managed to tell Ron to come over and help spin her at the pace I needed to get an even hem. Ginny was wearing the wedding party shoes, and i didn't want her toppling off the table.

That's when I found out about Fred and George's idea for Bill's bachelor party, and Ron asked if he could borrow Ginny's dress!

She refused. "Don't be daft. This is the dress I'll be wearing as Fleur's bridesmaid!"

"There won't be any girls at the party, it's boys only, so no one will know," reasoned my youngest son. He pointed out that boys will never notice the dress. But my daughter absolutely refused and told him to ask Hermione for help. "She's more your size than me, anyway, and I don't want you in my things."

Hermione is the girl Ron is interested in. She, Ron, and Harry are really close friends, and though I think of her as Ron's girlfriend, he's still uncomfortable with the change in the relationship, I think. I tell him not to rush; he'll know when it's the right time and the right decision. In the meantime, they are very close friends, fighting and hugging in turns.

Actually, Harry had been dating Ginny, but he told her that he didn't want to put her at risk since You-Know-Who is back. It's very considerate of Harry, and Ginny seems to understand, but she hadn't accepted it. I don't blame her; Harry is a special boy, and I have thought the world of him since I first met him. When you consider all the hardships that boy has been through, he's turned out superlatively well. They are far too young, of course, but I have to admit, I'm looking forward to making Ginny's wedding dress someday ...

I think that's why Ron is afraid to "officially" date a friend as close to him as Hermione, because he sees how Ginny suffers. Harry would never date anyone else, I don't think. Though if he did, I think he knows my daughter would kick him to death! Sometimes I think I made a mistake, and Ginny is actually much tougher than any of her brothers.

But, back to the ruckus ... Ginny is holding up the dress — the seams are intact but the fabric is torn right across the center, front to back!

"Mum! I caught him trying to put it on! I told him he can't borrow it but he was trying to sneak out with it!!" Ginny was really distraught. We'd only just finished sewing up everything late last night. I have to admit I wasn't very pleased, either.

"Ronald Weasley," I hollered at him, as gently as I could manage, "Ginerva told you no, in no uncertain terms! What were you thinking??"

"I needed a dress! I told you, for Bill's stag party —" Ron looked quite panicked, but for the wrong reasons.

"You could have borrowed one of mine, you should have asked me. That's what your father did," I scolded him. Another thing I never thought I would have every said to my son!

He hung his head, "I'm sorry ... I was just seeing if it fit ... I reckon if I fit into this that maybe Harry would fit into Gabri—"

"Harry?" Ginny gasped. "Harry's coming? Here??"

"Well, yeah, duh," Ron looked annoyed. "Talk about someone not listening ... I told you, he's coming to the party, too, and he doesn't have a dress either!"

Ginny was already gone, and I could hear her crying and wailing on her way up to her room. Ron looked guilty but confused.

I was already sitting down and writing out a note for our owl Earl to deliver. Ron came over, "Who are you writing to, Mum?"

"You'll see," I told him, as I licked the envelope flap shut.

"Come on, it's about me!"

"Don't whine, Ronald," I scolded him again. "But if you must know, I'm asking Hermione to come by floo. I think Ginny could use some decent company, don't you think?"

His face lit up, "Hermione? Here? Wait, don't give it to Earl, that'll take forever. Give the note to Pig."

As much as I love Earl, Ron's owl Pig (whom he got as a gift from Sirius Black) is much faster with small notes. Hermione showed up in our floo in under an hour; Ron was still taking a bath in preparation for her arrival! And much to my surprise, Harry was with her, too.

"Hello, Mrs. Weasley," they both said, as they brushed the dust off themselves. It was a pleasure to see them both; they were genuinely good kids.

I bustled about getting them a snack and a cup of tea, hoping the noise I was making would let both Ron and Ginny know we had guests. Sure enough, they showed up immediately.

"Hermione! Harry! Great to see you!" Ron hung back, like he always did with his friends. He was not a hugging sort of lad, but Hermione stepped forward and hugged him anyway.

"Ron, take this bag. There's enough in there for both you and Harry. He explained your need," Hermione smirked.

She and Ron were going on with their banter. I think she was teasing him about what he would look good in, given his hair color, etc. But I was watching Ginny when she spotted Harry. I was rather nervous for her, the poor thing.

But Harry seemed nervous, too. "H-h-hi ..." The boy was stammering, which is awfully cute, I think. I could see that he still cared for Ginny.

But my daughter surprised me, "Hello, Harry." She spoke these words with a rather plummy accent that you hear from Muggles who are trying to show off. "It's so kind of you to come and accompany my brother, Ronald. And how sweet of you to bring Hermione, too!"

"Uh ... what?" Harry was noticeably taken aback. "Uh ..."

Fortunately, Hermione had noticed what was going on, and she took Ginny by the arm. They started whispering and I saw Ginny crack a smile. Then they headed upstairs, leaving the two boys with me.

"Well," I said brightly, hefting the bag Hermione had brought, "let's see about your outfits for the party!" She hadn't actually packed any dresses, and instead there was casual clothing you see Muggle girls wear at those places called malls. "Oh look, you won't have to wear gowns after all!"

Ron held up one of those half-shirts that show off your belly, and I burst out laughing. "That would suit you fine, Ron, especially considering you've torn Ginny's dress! You can show skin off your skin!" I couldn't help it, it just seemed funny and so just!

Harry grabbed a shirt our of the bag, "I guess I'll be wearing this one, then!" Seeing the look of absolute shock on Ron's face, Harry also quickly grabbed a wig. "I'll tell you what, I'll wear the longer hair wig, how's that?" And then he had run up the stairs to change his clothes in Ron's attic room.

"Wha ... Mum!" Ron was going to ask me to give him something other than that half-shirt. But I was having none of that!

"Ron, you get into that right this moment. You deserve any humiliation for ruining Ginny's dress! And for your information, I have no clue how we're supposed to fix that. There isn't any more fabric and I don't think there are any spells to undo that sort of damage. Shame on you!"

Ron mumbled and looked at the floor. Then he picked up the bag and went upstairs.

* * * * *

While the Weasley men (and I'm including Harry in that group) were having fun at the stag party (goodness, isn't that an awful term for it!), Ginny, Hermione, and I tried to figure out how to repair the tear in her dress. But no matter what I tried, there was just no way to fix it. My poor girl was distraught.

I wasn't too happy either, as it had cost a lot just for the fabric for the two girls' dresses, and there wasn't so much as an inch left of it. We'd even talked about ripping and repairing both dresses, so that they'd match. I pointed out that people would then think it had been done on purpose.

"I can't do that to Gabriella, Mummy! That'd be awful, to wear torn, patched up clothing ... and it's my first wedding," she wailed. She did have a point, I suppose.

But what could we do? We couldn't afford to replace the fabric, and this was for a wedding ... Fleur would be so upset!

Sigh. I love my boys, I really do. I love Ron, and I feel sorry for him being the youngest of so many boys. All of my sons are accomplished in their own fields and in their own ways, and Ron is trying to find his way now. But his desire to stand out really can cut the wrong way sometimes!

Ginny was sniffling. "At least Hermione brought that crop-top that Ron was forced to wear."

Hermione smiled, "He's not half-bad looking as a girl, don't you think?" That did get a smile and a little giggle out of Ginny. Poor girl.

"And," added Hermione, matter-of-factly, "he gets to know what it's like to have a cold belly and worry about your pa ..."

Both Ginny and I looked at her. Hermione is normally a very chatty young lady, even when she's thinking or studying. So a quiet Hermione is something to worry about (later, Ron and Harry told me the only time they knew Hermione to be quiet when she had been petrified by the basilisk in their second year at school)!

"Hermione, what is it? Are you okay?" Ginny reached over to jostle her, but the other girl responded by jumping out of the chair and knocking it backwards to the floor!

"That's it! It can work! Mrs. Weasley, you can make crop tops!" Hermione looked very happy, for some reason.

"Whatever are you talking about, dear? Here, have a cup of tea," I was putting a cuppa in front of her, hoping she'd calm down.

But Hermione had grabbed the dress from Ginny, and to our surprise (and horror!) she was drawing on the dress with a graphite pencil!

"See, if you make a rounded cut here, to follow the line of the bottom of the ribcage, it should stay put and not ride up. In order to keep the bottom half firmly on the hips, something like a drawstring can be employed. It's very hip, so i don't think it'd be a bad thing to bring into the party. It would be a much younger look than the bride might have anticipated, but you and Gabriella are actually very young, so why not?" She smiled at the two Weasley women. "See?"

When we both stared at her blankly, Hermione ordered Ginny to put on the dress (we are used to Hermione taking charge, it's quite all right). But I had to stop her when she picked up a big, ancient pair of iron scissors and pointed them at my only daughter!

"Wait! Stop! I think I see what you mean!" It's amazing what moments of clarity can be had in a moment of panic. "Stand still, Ginny, dear."

I carefully clipped through the midriff area of the dress, enlarging the opening that Ron had made in the dress by accident, then pinned up a temporary seam. "Hmn, what do you think, Hermione?"

The Muggle girl cast her critical eye over the dress, and I'm sure Ginny felt like a bug under a magnifying glass! At last she straightened up, "Brilliant! That's it exactly!"

"But my belly," protested Ginny, "it's potted —"

"Don't be ridiculous," I scolded, "you're beautiful and young and strong enough to hold your breath. Besides, all eyes will be on Fleur, you're meant to 'enhance' her presence."

Hermione agreed, "But if it will make you feel better Ginny, I've been reading about some exercises in this Muggle magazine for teens. Would you like me to show you some? They seem to have helped me when I needed to fit into that dress in fourth form."

"Ooh, yes, you mean that one you worse when Viktor took you to the Yule Ball? You looked gorgeous in that, everyone thought so."

While they nattered on, I fitted a few more pins to Ginny's new dress before she took it off to go upstairs to try out these exercises of Hermione's. I had to remind her to take the dress off slowly or she'd get pricked by the pins. Of course, she didn't listen and I had to endure her howling, as if she was seriously injured! Really now, these young girls are simply hopeless about a tiny prick!

Well, to be fair, it fit quite snugly, but when it was done, it was a very attractive and rather "hip" in that young way. We hoped Fleur would like it, even though it wasn't the same image as the one she had chosen. And we hoped Gabriella would like it, too!

But in the meantime, crisis averted ... even if it potentially could start a new crisis! I was trying to figure out how much I could borrow from Fred and George if I had to buy the fabric again to remake the original dresses. My worry must have been apparent to Ginny because later that day, she brought down a big jar, full of coins.

"Ginerva, where did you get all this money?" I was gasping at how much there was even though I didn't know exactly the total amount. Hermione were stacking the coins neatly in piles of ten, and I counted at least 5 stacks of galleons!

My only daughter wrinkled her nose at me and squinted; it's a look I give to the children or the Arthur when they are resisting a command from mother! My daughter appears to be a chip off this old block. "Please don't call me that if I'm not being scolded," she said. I wondered how long it would be before she would call me by my full name to scold me. Kids grow up too fast, I tell you!

"But all this money ... you didn't take a loan from your brothers, did you?"

Ginny stuck our her chin. "Give me some credit, Mum! I found or worked for the money myself; I just never had anything to spend it on. I never let anyone know about it because ... well, I was saving up."

Hermione spoke, never stopping her counting, "It's a lot of money for sure, what were you saving up for that might cost so much?"

Ginny suddenly go shy and she sad back in her chair and the defiant chin receded to her chest. "Um ... well, it doesn't matter because it's not enough ... but it might be enough for new fabric for the dresses if Fleur doesn't like the new dresses, don't you think?"

"Not enough for what?" Hermione is known for her persistence.

I decided if Ginny wanted to keep her secret purchase a secret, she should be able to, so I interrupted. "Whatever it is, it must be very close to your heart, Ginny. It's good of you to bring your until-now unsuspected stash for the sake of a couple of dresses. I'm very grateful, I'll be sure to ask you for a loan if we need it." I was proud of my girl for being so selfless.

Ginny smiled, happy for the diversion, I think. "It's not like I won a lottery or anything. It's small things, just done over time. Dad always says, 'if something is worth doing, it's worth doing again'." She grinned at her own joke.

I laughed, "Your father doesn't say that ... he says, 'if something is worth doing, tell me about it!'"

Hermione was still counting the coins, and she was in the middle of the sickles. "But what sort of things did you do? You're very clever, whatever it was."

Ginny shrugged, but I could tell she was proud of her accomplishment. "You'd be surprised where coins end up. I volunteer to clean up after parties for Mum and her friends and at school, because there are always coins lurking in the chairs and on the floor, dropped from pockets. And when I do the laundry, coins always are at the bottom of the washtub, too. I also clean the fireplaces on the floo network at school — it seems coins fall out of wizard's pockets when they travel. Or near apparating and disapparating points, or near portkeys."

"Oh, aren't you clever!" I couldn't help gushing. It does explain why I never find any spare change anywhere, though. "I suppose you keep your birthday and holiday gift money, too?"

"Yes, Mummy. I also have those bank certificates from Nana that you give me and the boys for Christmas. I bought Fred's, George's, and Ron's for a tenth of their face value, so I can cash them in at full value soon, too. And I offer to clean the boys' rooms too, and I find quite a lot of spare change that way, too." Ginny seemed anxious about giving me this information. I guess she thought I'd disapprove.

"Well! It's good to know that someone in this family is good at acquiring money! I never would have thought of that myself." I gave Ginny a hug. "Don't worry, it's not like you could have physically forced the boys to sell you the certificates or were stealing from them, so I don't think you did anything wrong, dear."

"You're so disciplined," commented Hermione, as she started counting the knuts, "I would have spent any money I had on books or a new potion for my hair! Didn't it tempt you? Why didn't you put it into Gringott's when you accumulated a certain amount, like say five galleons worth?"

"Oh, it's not that easy to open an account at Gringott's," I explained. "Vaults are handed down through the family and I suspect the goblins keep the supply of vaults to exactly a number which is not quite enough to meet demand."

Ginny nodded, "Yeah, Fred and George were told they needed to wait two years to get one! So they use a corner of Mum and Dad's vault, which is actually from Mum's family."

Hermione looked a bit confounded. "I had no idea! But ... but my parents were given one straightaway when we first went to Diagon Ally."

I shrugged, much like Ginny had shrugged at me before. "Well, they are goblins. 'Clever as they come, but not the friendliest of creatures.' They might have taken a shine to your parents, but I hear that the Ministry had ordered a portion of vaults be set aside for Muggle-borns, so that they can be welcomed into the wizard world immediately."

"Yeah," agreed Ginny, "so the vault is probably in your name, since you're the witch."

I quickly counted the piles of galleons, sickles, and knuts and found myself growing dizzy. "Ginny! Did you really save over so much money from change left in sofas??"

Ginny looked uncomfortable again. "Actually, I also sell things. At the end of the year in the Hogwart's dorms, kids leave things behind. I collect them and clean them and sell them to new students the following year. I also sold things I didn't need anymore, or that I made but they were the wrong color. You're not mad at me, are you Mum?"

I have to admit that I was stunned at the depth of Ginny's ability to make money out of used things. "No dear," I said quietly, hoping she'd understand that I might be worried, but I'd always be proud of her. "You're very clever." I smiled, even though I was kind of sad that the money-scarce life that Arthur and I had built for our children was causing them to worry about their own finances.

"Oh, yes ... and you make potions like perfume and mustard, too. I bought some for the Yule Ball, it made me smell like a flower," Hermione recalled. "You're good at potions, no wonder Professor Snape doesn't hate you."

Hermione means well, she really does. But sometimes her wording and delivery leaves something to be desired! But Ginny has been friends with Hermione for years, and it made her laugh.

I knew that the disaster Ron created had been averted, but also that I'd raised a good girl with a good heart. It's good to be a mother, most of the time!

* * * * *

When the Weasley men and boys had returned, I could tell they had been into something stronger than butterbeer. My two eldest came home, Bill and Charlie. I hadn't seen them in a while and I scarcely recognized them. I'm happy to see them, as I'd expected them, but not their clothing! Charlie is best man at Bill's wedding, and so it was my second son's responsibility to get the groom dressed in "drag" for the party, which was a meant to be a surprise theme.

Remember I said that Fred and George were responsible for dressing up Percy, whom I have to admit is ... he's a little ... well, not quite ... oh, I'll say it. He's estranged from the Weasley family and is embarassed to know us, sad to say.

Despite Ron reminding me what a "prat" Percy has been and can be, it breaks my heart that my middle son chose to align himself away from us. He's hanging on to that dithering Cornelius Fudge. We were hoping that after the Minister of Magic was forced to resign, Percy would come to his senses and come home. Alas, he's still holding a grudge against us, though I can't understand why.

He's still my boy, and I know he's trying desperately to be better than his brothers. He has airs and pride that the others don't seem to have inherited. I'm tempted to blame Arthur's side of the family for that, but the Prewitts are known for their pride too, as well as for their bravery. Bless their souls, and may they rest in peace.

am i a PRETTY PRETTY PRINCESS?

smack me if you think YES!
Though I prayed every night that he might come home again, I was simply not prepared for Percy's arrival.

Fred and George had apparently snuck into his flat and put him into a magical pink contraption. It's shaped like a pyramid so that Percy's head sticks out of it but the rest of him is trapped in it. From a distance, it looks like some odd sort of cape. While entrapped, the twins dressed him into a black catsuit, dyed his hair pink, fluffed it up and put on makeup. He was the most bizarre looking girl I'd ever seen!

What's worse, he had trouble scuttling along in the cape/cage, as it looked a little short and he was running along with his knees a bit bowed. He also seemed to be wearing a puffy skirt and tiara, but they seemed so heavy that they were likely manacles of some sort. And Fred and George had run a scrolling sign which encouraged the people around Percy to hit him on his exposed head, which they were doing with way too much gusto!

"Stop it! Stop it!" I couldn't contain myself — I had to run out and try to protect my boy!

"I know he's a prat, but you stop it this instant!"

"Aw, Mum, he deserves it!" Ron and George protested. Fred was too busy giggling and taking swings at Percy to respond.

"Deserve it he may, but there's no need to sink down to that level!" I put myself between Fred and Percy, hoping to stop the attacks, but unfortunately, Charlie took a swipe at his younger brother and made contact.

"Did you hear me, young man?" I admit I was sounding a bit shrill. And I was taken aback by Percy's response to my efforts to help him.

"I don't need your help, woman!" Percy was shrieking in rather a hysterical feminine manner. "Get away from me, all of you!"

"Percival Weasley ... how dare you speak to me that way!" I yelled at him, hands on my hips. "You do deserve a beating, but instead off you go on home, dressed that way!"

Arthur finally spoke, "Calm down, Molly. He can't disapparate in that box — new invention of Fred and George's. Brilliant, eh? It's based on a trick done by a muggle named Houdini —"

"And we mean to keep him here for the wedding, Mum," Ron said, "Bill specifically asked for the whole family, and that includes Pratty ... I mean Percy!"

I noticed that Harry was smiling politely, trying not to laugh out loud at Percy's misfortune. "Mrs. Weasley," he said, "I'll be happy to sleep downstairs so that Percy can have his room back."

"How very nice of you, dear," I was impressed with Harry's maturity, compared to my lot of men! "But I think Percy might have some trouble negotiating the stairs in the Burrow. I'll make him comfortable on the ground floor, but thank you, dear!"

"Mum! You've been concentrating so hard on that prat, you haven't seen Bill and Charlie. Don't they look sweet?" Ron had a point, I hadn't been concentrating on the men of honor! I know I saw them, but their looks hadn't registered in my brain.

They hardly looked like men. I'm not sure how Charlie had managed it, but Bill looked more like those Muggle beauty queens, complete with over-the-top tiara! He looked so tall, he must have been wearing incredibly big heeled shoes, too! As for Charlie, I thought to myself that I will need to talk to him about color matching of socks and how that red/pink doesn't suit red hair ...

I think I may have fainted, because the next thing I knew, I was on the sofa and a woman with Arthur's voice was asking me if I was all right. I think I shrieked ...

* * * * *

The Weasley men were back to normal, give or take a smudge of mascara. Ginny and Hermione were making tea that night, since I'd had a stressful turn, much to my own embarrassment.

It was a crowd, but the table Arthur had brought into our marriage was enchanted and would lengthen to accommodate any number of people. The Weasleys are a big family, and there are so many boys. We're not sure if they had been cursed or blessed, but our Ginny was the first girl born to the Weasley clan in many, many generations.

Anyway, the table was created by men, for men, so that they would always have plenty of elbow room. We just had to scrounge around for enough chairs, and I saw Bill and Charlie had brought in some trestle chairs from the barn to make up for the missing seats. It's been a long, long time since the Weasley table had been so big!

Even Percy was there, though he didn't talk to anyone and he looked as haughty as ever. That didn't stop the others from talking at him — not to him, but at him. It was probably just as well that he chose to not speak, even when spoken to.

I noticed that Harry and Ron sat as far from the kitchen as they could, where Hermione and Ginny were sending forth bowls of food, with Arthur's help. Since the girls were still underage, they were not meant to be using magic while away at Hogwart's School, and though we are not very strict with this rule, Hermione is the type who follows a rule to the letter.

What was I saying? Oh yes, Ron and Harry seemed to be cowering in the corner, hoping no one noticed them. Poor dears, they don't really know how to behave; they were the only ones with "past and future girlfriends" in the room, it must have been very uncomfortable.

I wanted to know everything about the party they'd attended, that they dressed so outrageously, then traveled home in their female finery!

"It was awesome, Mum," said Fred, while buttering a roll. Bless them, they were always hungry; why is it that skinny men can consume so much food and not appear to gain an ounce?

"Don't speak with your mouth full, dear. What was 'awesome' about this genderous party?" I can't help but correct them, even though they are quite grown-up now.

"Everything," replied George, also with something in his mouth. "Old Harold made these awesome mushroom pies, and he had a spell that warmed them up as soon as you wanted them."

"Yeah," agreed Charlie, "so they were perfect just when you wanted them. Hagrid was there, he even got permission to use a spell to appear shaved so the pie didn't get into that big beard of his. Angus Filch attended too, and you should have seen how many he fit into his wig — I think there were pockets in that big bush! The pies had like a flaky pastry crust, so when you bit them, they crumbled all over me! I'll have to have the dress I was wearing cleaned before returning it."

"Where'd you get the dress from," asked Arthur. "It seemed too 'glamorous' to be a home-grown effort of your own, despite how clever you usually are."

Charlie chuckled at the observation, prompting me to admonish him for laughing with food in his mouth. "Okay, Mum ... I'm a bachelor, so you'll have to forgive me! Dad, you remember that West Indian with you used to visit? Turns out she's a dressmaker for Muggle pageants, and she let me borrow a few of her creations, but she was adamant they not be damaged."

"Good thing you told me that," Bill, the groom-to-be responded, "or I would have torn it to pieces when you were trying to stuff me into that. How do women fit their body parts into those things??"

That got a laugh out of everyone, especially Ginny. In fact, they all looked at her curiously when she kept laughing.

"You okay, Ginn?" Bill looked very concerned. Like all my boys, they are very protective of their only sister. "It wasn't that funny, I don't think ..."

"What she means," interjected Hermione, "is that sometimes, our body parts don't quite fit and they end up hanging out of the outfit, isn't that right, Ron?"

All heads turned to look toward Ron and Harry, and both appeared to shrink at the attention. "Um ... ah ... yeah ..."

"Ah, I get it," said George, "that's why you wore that sporty, sexy number to the party, Ron!" That got a big laugh out of everyone. Though Ron looked hurt, he also looked relieved to not have to explain Hermione's comment.

Ginny was laughing again, "Right! Sporty and sexy ... that's our Ron ... not clumsy, awkward, stubborn, piggish ..."

"Now, Ginerva," I made sure to use her full name, since she was being scolded this time, "I've told the boys not to talk with their mouths full, and the rule applies to you, too." In truth, she didn't have any food in her mouth, but I was trying to stop this from escalating.

"Those peas are delicious, Hermione, may I have some more? And perhaps more of those rolls, too?" That was Harry, ever the gentleman.

Bowls were passed and conversation started again. The boys talked about how poor Percy couldn't move anywhere because the cage/cape was too large to get through doorways, and he'd tried levitating himself a bit sideways to escape, but would hit his head on the columns and such. I did feel sorry for him, but the descriptions were so funny that I couldn't help myself! And the look on Percy's face at the table was quite priceless, I must say!

I noticed that Ginny was not eating very much, and I wondered if it was because Harry was at the table. Poor dear, still pining for him. I can't blame her; as scruffy and Ron's best friend is, he's a dear boy.

Or maybe it's because she and Ginny have been reading those Muggle publications about reducing your tummy. I'd met Gabriella, who is a wee stick of a girl and very pretty, and perhaps Ginny was having some anxiety about being compared to her, especially with a dress which would show off her belly?

I made a mental note to let Fleur know about the change in outfits for her bridesmaids. I crossed my fingers and toes that she'd approve. I didn't think I'd have enough time to make new dresses, even with enough money to buy the fabric again!

I looked at my boys at the family table, and remembered back to how pretty (pretty weird, anyway) they looked dressed up as women. It's ironic that they had no trouble getting women's clothing to wear to a dress-up, but my daughter has to make do with a compromised and much simpler gown.

Still, it suits her and she'll be very pretty in it. She's a real girl, after all, complete with real apprehensions and real worries. I do hope Harry comes around soon and stops trying to "protect" her so much. Ginny needs to know she's beautiful and worthy, even if she's not perfect, or when her dress is not perfect.

Speaking of the perfect dress, it's too bad the boys had to return all their outfits!


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