Disclaimer: I own nothing; it all belongs to J. . I'm just borrowing the characters to play with for a while. This is for pleasure only, no profit is being made, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Fifteen years after the fall of Voldemort.
Molly Weasley sat in a rocking chair in the garden of the Burrow. The chair creaked slightly, but it was comfortable and reminded her of the chair she'd used to rock her babies in when they'd been small. That chair had been ruined during the war when the Burrow had been attacked. Her red hair had faded to white, and she'd cut it in a shorter, more manageable style. Deep laugh lines surrounded her eyes and mouth, and she sighed in contentment as she looked around the garden.
Today was the annual Weasley Family Picnic, where all of her children and grandchildren returned to the Burrow to reminisce and remember how good it was to be alive. The sounds of children's laughter and rowdy play danced on the wind, bringing Molly back to another era, when her own kids would play Quidditch in the meadow.
Of course, the Burrow itself was much larger and grander than it had been back in the day. After Voldemort's defeat and Arthur's promotion at the Ministry, the Weasleys had rebuilt the Burrow. At least, they'd built a home on the grounds of their former home. Molly had planned her new home around a large and well-used kitchen. The greatest source of life and family unity had always been that first kitchen, and Molly wanted that aspect of her life back. She had made her new kitchen much larger and ensured that everything had its place, but most important of all, she'd kept the family table right in the center of the room.
She'd learned more tidbits about what was happening in the lives of her children as she puttered around that kitchen and they all sat chatting at the table than anywhere else. They'd get so involved in whatever they were discussing that half the time they'd forget she was even there. Who had needed Extendable Ears, anyway?
Molly could see Arthur attempting to cook something on one of those ridiculous outdoor Muggle cooking contraptions. He scratched his head in bemusement, but she could see the delighted set in his step as he tried to figure it out. Every year was the same, and every year he ended up starting a fire that ended up being the Annual Weasley Bonfire.
She smiled fondly. Despite years of supervising the entire Department of Magical Law Enforcement, Arthur had never lost his passion for all things Muggle. It was only one of the reasons she still loved him so. As if sensing her gaze, Arthur turned to her and waved cheerfully.
"All right, dear?" he asked.
Molly's legs had been giving her trouble lately, and she found it difficult to move around too much. She'd promised Arthur that she'd prop herself in her chair for the day and let her family come to her. Of course, she knew that if they got out of hand, she'd have no trouble marching over to put them all in their place. I still haven't lost my touch, she thought proudly.
"I'm fine, Arthur; I'm just pleased we got such a wonderful day," Molly said smiling. Every year, she panicked over the thought that the weather would spoil the picnic and they'd all have to crowd indoors. Even with the house so much bigger, with the number of Weasleys expected here on this day, it would be very crowded if they were forced inside.
Every year she stressed over it, yet year after year the weather had always cooperated gloriously. She couldn't ask for a better day, and she'd begun to suspect some kind of divine intervention.
"I told you not to worry, dear," Arthur said. "Everything would work out just fine, I believe is what I said."
Molly smiled at her husband's gentle face. The years may have taken the hair from the top of his head completely and lined his face with the passage of time, but his spirit was still the same. His soft-spoken nature hid his steely resolve, and he'd earned the respect of all those Ministry workers who served him so faithfully.
"That you did," Molly replied. "Mind your grill, dear; I think it just caught fire."
Arthur turned in time to see a bright orange flame burst through the top of the black cover. "Oh, dear," he said, rushing back and waving his wand to try and lessen the flames.
Molly knew if she looked around closely, she'd probably find one of the twins sporting a wide grin and tucking his wand back in his pocket. She knew neither Fred nor George would ever let the bonfire tradition die.
"Some things never change," Bill said, chuckling and sitting down next to his mother. He planted a kiss on top of her head and asked, "Are you having a good day, Mum?"
Molly smiled at her eldest. He'd long since cut his hair, but the earring that Molly had spent years fighting with him over still hung from his ear. She still couldn't understand how Gringotts let him get away with that. Like his father before him, Bill's hair was thinning on top.
"I'm having a lovely day, Bill. Where's Jacqueline?" Molly asked.
"She's changing Teddy. I think we'll be sending that kid to Hogwarts in nappies," Bill replied, only half-joking. Bill and Jacqueline had married shortly after the war had ended and had four sons of their own. Their eldest, Charlie, was ready to begin his first year at Hogwarts in September.
Molly laughed. "Now, Bill, don't give him a hard time. You weren't all that easy to train, yourself."
"Thanks, Mum," Bill said dryly. "Looks like Dad is ready to start burning some food."
"Don't worry, Dobby and Winky will be bringing out the real dinner shortly," Molly laughed.
Dobby had followed Harry after he moved out of Grimmauld Place, and Winky had joined them when he bought his first home. They always helped Molly out arranging the family reunion. Molly enjoyed having them around for such a big party, but didn't think she would ever like to give up control of her kitchen completely.
As if on cue, Dobby and Winky appeared and began laying plate after plate of delicious-looking creations on the table.
"Oh, did I pick the right seat?" Bill asked, gleefully rubbing his hand together.
Ron and Hermione walked over a moment after the food appeared. Ron had never lost his voracious appetite, and his metabolism still hadn't caught up with him. Molly suspected that Ron didn't eat at home the way he ate when he visited the Burrow. Hermione had never really taken to cooking, no matter how many times Molly had tried to teach her.
"Mmm, what smells so good?" Ron asked, leaning over and kissing Molly on the cheek. "This looks great, Mum." Of all her children, Ron still had the most boyish exuberance about him. He was the first to get down on the floor with all his nieces and nephews, and he always drove his sisters-in-law crazy with the way he wound up all the children. He and Harry were a pair that way.
After Hogwarts, Ron had taken the job as Scout for the Department of Magical Games and Sports at the Ministry and remained there to this day. He obviously loved his work, and from what Molly had heard, he had quite a flare for it.
Hermione sat down next to Ron. "Hi, Mum. Hi, Bill," she said, smiling. "David and Seth are in the meadow with your boys, Bill."
"Has Harry got them playing yet?" Bill asked with an easy grin. Having an uncle who was a professional Quidditch star ensured a passion for the game. Harry still played for England, although he'd been toying with the idea of retiring ever since his last injury. He said his body couldn't take those kinds of blows anymore, but everyone else said they'd believe it when they saw it.
"I couldn't watch," Hermione said, covering her eyes. "They go so high."
She and Ron had married within a year of leaving Hogwarts, although they'd waited a while to start a family. Hermione had taken a research job at the Institute, working on old magic spells and adapting them into modern spellwork. In typical Hermione fashion, she'd exceeded all expectations and was now head of her department at the Institute.
When they'd finally decided it was time for a family, they'd had two sons, David, who was nine, and Seth, five. Each son was remarkably similar to one of his parents. David was bright and intellectual; Molly often had to stifle her laughter at the stunned expression on Ron's face when his son would say something exceptionally deep or beyond Ron's grasp. Seth, on the other hand, was all Ron – athletic and gregarious with a quick temper and constant foot-in-mouth disease. With Seth, it was Hermione who was constantly at the end of her rope. Molly enjoyed watching the two of them trying to parent the boys. Her mother had always told her that grandchildren were the ultimate payback.
"Come on, now, Hermione. David will be starting at Hogwarts in another couple years. What are you going to do when he tries out for the Gryffindor team?" Bill asked with a smirk.
Molly watched as Ron covered a grin. He knew his brother was winding his wife up, but he was enjoying it. Ron and Hermione had never lost their love of bickering, but Molly knew it was done fondly.
Hermione raised her head in the air. "I'll worry about that if it happens. David might not want to play Quidditch."
"He will if he's a Weasley," Ron mumbled, and Hermione shot him a glare. "Ron Weasley, you'll be proud of him no matter what he decides to do. This is not about your choices, its about David's," Hermione huffed. She wore her hair much shorter these days, and it looked much more sophisticated than it had when she was at school. But on days like this, when the humidity was high, the bushiness returned and small ringlets of curls appeared all around her face. Molly thought it looked very pretty, but Hermione just kept pushing them out of her face.
"Ahh, Dobby, could you give that one to Mr. Weasley please?" Molly asked, pointing to a plate of raw hamburgers. "Those are for him to burn."
"Oh, yes, Messess Wheezy. Dobby will tell him to flame them up right," Dobby exclaimed, bouncing on the souls of his feet.
Molly saw Hermione scowling at Winky, who was quietly placing plates on the table and staying well out of Hermione's reach.
"How are you today, Winky?" Hermione asked, bending her head so she was at the tiny elf's level.
"Winky is fine, miss. Winky loves the Wheezy picnic," Winky answered, bobbing her head.
"You know, Winky, if you would only accept pay and some time off, you could have more time in the sun without having to work," Hermione said.
Winky's ears rose to the top of her head, and she quickly placed the last of her items on the table. "Winky is a good elf; Winky is not accepting pay. Winky does not want to go back to a life of shame, no, no, no." The house-elf turned and ran back inside the Burrow.
Hermione sighed in exasperation. "The life she's living now is the life of shame," Hermione huffed in exasperation.
"Hermione, will you give it up, already? Do you have to torment her every year?" Ron asked, sighing and shaking his head. Everyone – Ron included – knew he was fighting a losing battle. Hermione and Winky locked heads every year, and it always ended the same way, with Winky returning to the Potter house in tears, refusing to see Hermione again until the following year.
When Winky had joined Harry and Dobby, Harry had offered to let her keep her freed elf status or to join the household traditionally. He said Dobby had told him that the only way to pull Winky out of her depression was to return her status to her. Winky had jumped at the chance and had been much happier ever since. Hermione had been furious with Harry, and they continued to bicker about it to this day.
"That's enough," Molly said. "Can't we get through one year without having to calm a hysterical house-elf? How are your parents doing these days, Hermione?"
Hermione reluctantly tore her eyes away from where Winky had disappeared. "Oh, they're fine, Mum. They're considering retiring, but I honestly don't think they'll ever really give up their practice. Maybe scale it back a bit, but they love it too much. I think they'd drive each other crazy without the distraction."
"I can understand that," Molly said, laughing. "Oh, look. Percy and Rose are here."
They all turned to see Percy and his family striding towards them. "Sorry we're late, Mother. Young Percy had a piano lesson."
After the war, Percy had had a hard time reconnecting with the wizarding world. He'd left his job at the Ministry a year after the fall of Voldemort. He had been unable to earn the trust of many of his co-workers after his close allegiance with both Crouch and Fudge, and he felt trapped and stifled there. It was Minerva McGonagall who had given Percy a lifeline. She'd offered him the open Transfiguration position at Hogwarts, and Percy had jumped at the chance. He'd been there ever since.
He'd met Rose on a Hogsmeade weekend. She worked as local barrister, and the pair had hit it off instantly. Of all her daughters-in-law, Rose was the one with whom Molly found the most difficulty connecting. She was pleasant, although rather aloof, and Molly had the impression that the full Weasley clan overwhelmed her. Still, Molly thought Rose was a much better match for Percy than Pricilla Fudge had been. Percy and Pricilla had parted ways soon after the end of the war. Rose seemed much better suited to Percy, in Molly's opinion.
They had one son – Percy Ignatius Weasley II. Percy had only wanted one child so that he could give him everything that he didn't have as a child. Molly adored her grandson, but thought he was rather spoiled.
"Don't worry, dear; we got a late start, anyway. Sit down, Rose. Have something to eat," Molly offered.
"David and Seth are in the meadow with Uncle Harry," Ron told his nephew. "Why don't you tell them there's food here?"
Percy nodded and trotted off towards the meadow, while Percy and Rose joined the rest at the table.
"Percy, Rose. It's good to see you," Jacqueline said, emerging from the Burrow with a newly-changed Teddy on her hip.
"Hello, Jacqueline," Rose said. "How are you?"
"We're good. It's nice to be home. We're taking Charlie into Diagon Alley to get his supplies one day next week," Jacqueline replied.
She and Bill had been living in Egypt since the end of the war. Gringott's had offered Bill a position in their London branch, but his heart had always remained back with the Pyramids. She suspected that Jacqueline had wanted to move away and start over, anyway.
Molly had hated to see them go, particularly when the grandchildren had started to arrive. Bill and Jacqueline had visited frequently over the years, and Molly always had one or more of the boys come to stay at the Burrow in the summer.
"Oh, how exciting," Hermione said. "I remember how fascinating it was to get all those new things. Of course, Charlie's been raised in a magical family, so it's not quite as extraordinary as it was to me, but it's still exciting. I can hardly wait for it to be David's turn in a couple years, although I hate the thought of him being so far away," Hermione said with a frown.
Molly remembered how difficult it had been to let each of her children go that first time, but never quite as wrenching as it had been with Bill on that very first drop-off when he had turned eleven. The first one was always the hardest.
"Poor kid has to have an uncle for a teacher, though," Ron said, grinning good-naturedly at Percy. "How embarrassing is that? At least he'll get good marks in Transfiguration."
Percy looked down his nose at his younger brother. "I resent the implication that I'd treat any student differently, relative or not," Percy said with an indignant air. He soon lost the battle to hide his grin, however, and he added, "I'm no Professor Snape."
"I can't believe my own kids are going to be subjected to that git. You'd think he would have mellowed some by now," Ron said, shaking his head.
Percy snorted. "Not a chance. You should see the torment he puts poor Jamie through. I think he's making him pay for both his father's and grandfather's transgressions."
"And I doubt David will fare any better when he goes," Bill said, laughing gleefully. "Charlie won't have it easy, but not as bad as your kids. Snape never hated me as much as he did you, Ginny or the twins."
"Don't forget, David will get Snape's hatred for me and Hermione together," Ron said. "It'll be nearly as bad as it is for Jamie. The bitterness he has for all of us is through our connection to Harry; the twins earned his loathing all on their own," Ron said.
"Whose hatred have I earned so spectacularly?" asked Fred, joining them at the table. He and George had made Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes a household name, and both now lived a very extravagant lifestyle. Fred sat down, wearing a lime-green shirt so bright it caused Hermione to squint. Fred responded by removing a pair of very expensive sunglasses and handing them to her without comment.
Fred had been the last of all her children to marry, but when he did, he'd ended up marrying one of his original girlfriends very quickly after finding her again. Fred had reconnected with Alicia Spinnet when he'd landed himself in St. Mungo's after some disastrous tryouts on a new product. Alicia had been the Healer assigned to tend him, and the two married shortly afterwards.
Fred still ran the shop in Diagon Alley, while George ran a sister shop in Hogsmeade. George had married his long time girlfriend Katie Bell, and Katie handled the extremely large mail order catalog of WWW products.
Despite her initial misgivings over the career path the twins had chosen, Molly had to admit that it had worked out very well. WWW was a thriving success, with locations spread worldwide. Their old friend Lee Jordan was running a shop in Amsterdam, while his sister, Vivian, was managing the Paris shop. Molly liked to tease them that they opened a new shop every time they came across an old friend in need of a job. In truth, she thought their generous nature was one of their most endearing qualities.
When Molly had her children, she had expected them all to be boys – all the Weasleys were. As Ron liked to say – mostly while tormenting someone else – Real men make men. Ginny had been the first and only Weasley girl born into the Weasley family in generations. All of Arthur's brothers had had sons, Arthur had six sons of his own, and all of them had sons. Except the twins.
Never ones to follow any kind of rule, Fred and George, of course, broke Weasley family genetic traditions, as well.
Fred and Alicia were the parents of identical twin daughters, Pandora and Uzume. The girls were four, and every bit as mischievous as their father and uncle had been. Alicia frequently looked on the edge of madness, while Fred seemed to take the girls' shenanigans as evidence of his own knack for mayhem.
George and Katie had five children, four girls and a boy. Their son, Liam, was the youngest and a favorite of his Aunt Ginny. Ginny thought of Liam and herself as kindred spirits, both being the youngest and the sole opposing sex in a large family.
"Snape's," Ron, Bill, and Percy all answered Fred's question in unison.
Fred's expression turned sour. "Urgh. Is he still giving Jamie a hard time? At least Charlie and Tori will be there next year to spread out the targets."
"I can't believe there will be three Weasleys at Hogwarts," Hermione said. "Poor Professor McGonagall won't know what to do with herself. And she's in for it for years to come."
"I hope there is still some food left," George said, joining his siblings at the table. Now that they were adults, it was easier to tell Fred and George apart. George had grown rather rotund around his middle. Molly was happy to see that at least one of her daughters-in-law could apparently cook a decent meal.
"There's still plenty here, George. Where is everyone else? Have they finished with the match?" Molly asked, peering towards the meadow.
"Yeah, they all smelled the food. They're putting their brooms away. What's this I heard about Hogwarts? Tori is already packed. She's just like her mother, that one. I never packed until the night before we left – at the earliest," George said. He and Katie's oldest daughter – Victoria – was also scheduled to start at Hogwarts in September with her cousin, Charlie.
"Which is why I always had to send everything you forgot by post owl," Molly said tartly.
George smiled wistfully. "Those were the days. I've told Tori everything she needs to know about how to get into a bit of mischief while she's there. I can hardly wait to get my first owl telling me what she did," he said, gleefully rubbing his hands together.
"Ooh, tell me when it comes," Fred said, delighted. "I want to send her a Howler in the Great Hall. She'll know it really means congratulations, won't she?"
"Of course she will. She's my flesh and blood, isn't she?" George replied, smacking his brother on the arm.
"Fred, George," Hermione said, scolding them. "You're the parents this time. You're not supposed to be wishing for her to get in trouble. You're supposed to encourage her to stay in line and mind her revision."
Expressions of mixed horror and revulsion crossed the identical faces of the twins. "Where's the fun in that?" they asked simultaneously.
Hermione shook her head in exasperation, muttering something that sounded like incorrigible under her breath.
From the corner of her eye, Molly watched as Ginny, Katie and Alicia got all of the children settled in over by Arthur at the children's table. She looked up in time to see her only son-in-law sitting down next to Ron.
Harry was wind-swept from the Quidditch match and looked perfectly comfortable holding a baby in his arms. As usual, Molly was struck by how much Harry had grown since she'd first met him on the train platform, and the significance tugged at her heartstrings.
He looked peaceful and happy. He'd matured, and the laugh lines were visible around his eyes, but he was healthy and had kept his youthful energy. She suspected that playing a game for a living had something to do with that. Although he'd certainly put on some weight and his shoulders had filled out, he was still on the slender side. Molly had heard Ginny complaining about it bitterly.
"He eats enough for a small army and never gains an ounce – instead, the calories go right to my arse," she had grouched to Hermione, causing the other girl snicker in amusement.
Molly thought back to that first summer after the war, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione had all moved out, declaring their independence yet clinging to each other and their childhood at the same time. They'd wanted to be independent adults, but they'd wanted to do it together.
Harry had just been through hell on earth, and the other two hadn't been ready or willing to leave him on his own, so they'd rented a house in Hogsmeade together. They had originally planned on getting a flat, but after Remus had decorated a room of his own for Harry at Grimmauld Place, Harry hadn't wanted to go back to sharing. Molly really couldn't blame him. He'd waited until he was an adult to have something of his very own; he shouldn't have to give it up.
Ron and Hermione had married a few months later, but Harry stayed with them – at their insistence – until Ginny had finished at Hogwarts. Harry had been playing Quidditch on the English team, and they actually went on to win the World Cup that August. The entire Weasley family had traveled to Norway for the game.
Harry and Ginny married a month later and bought a home on the English border, near Ron and Hermione, who had remained in Hogsmeade. Molly had been extremely worried over Harry's mental state for a while there – he'd done the craziest things, and Ginny had gone right along with him. Once, they'd strapped Muggle contraptions to their backs and actually jumped out of a plane. They went on African safaris, Himalayan mountain climbs, Austrailian deep sea dives – anything to drive her mad.
They'd visited Charlie's old dragon reserve in Romania, and Harry had actually ridden bareback on a dragon. Molly had been beside herself when she'd heard. What had that boy been thinking? When a small group of witches and wizards were called together to try and strengthen the wards around Loch Ness, Harry had volunteered to go with them. Whenever Nessie got too frisky it had to be done again. This time, the committee had tried to reason with the beast about Muggle concealment. Honestly, how they expected to communicate with that creature was beyond her. Harry, of course, volunteered immediately. Molly secretly suspected he'd been cheering Nessie on the whole time, however.
Molly thought her days of worrying would be over after the war – but not with those two. Even now, they still loved their adventures.
They'd found a summer home on the beach near Abe and Cordelia. All of the Weasleys had spent time there throughout the years. That same home had been added to many times since they originally bought it, but it was still theirs. It was a beautiful, quiet place with its own stretch of private beach. Harry had completely lined the driveway up to the house with yellow bricks. When Molly asked about it, he'd simply grinned and said it was a Muggle thing. Molly let it go, but Hermione had found it hysterical.
Harry had immediately raced out and bought himself a speedboat. They'd got one of those Muggle contraptions that they'd jumped from the plane with, strapped it to the back of the boat and pulled people along. Molly thought they were ridiculous, but Arthur had actually tried the ruddy thing. Molly would never forget the day she arrived to see Ginny driving the boat and pulling Harry behind her with a rope and a board strapped to his feet. Molly had thought Ginny was angry with him until she realized Harry was whooping with glee.
Ginny had begun writing a column for Witch Weekly after she finished school. She'd also written a full account of what happened during the war, as well as Harry's memoirs. The public had never lost interest in their hero, despite Harry's fervent wishes that they would. Ginny had also reapplied herself to learning to become an Animagus. Molly would never forget the day she'd Apparated over the Potters' on a whim to see if Ginny wanted to do some shopping and found a full-grown tiger pinning Harry to the floor in the kitchen. After Molly had screamed, the tiger had morphed back into her Ginny, apologizing profusely while laughing hysterically all the while.
After she'd aged a bit and started having children of her own, Ginny had begun writing a series of articles about being a member of a large family that had struck a chord with a lot of people. So much so that young girls often wrote her for advice on how to deal with a particular problem. Ginny loved the letters and often used them as fodder for new articles.
She was now quietly working with Minister Bones on putting together some notes in order to write her story. Amelia had been Minister of Magic since the end of the war, and Ginny had approached her with the idea of writing her biography. Minister Bones had been impressed with the way Ginny had written Harry's story, so she'd readily agreed.
It was Harry and Ginny who had given Molly her first grandchild. Molly would never forget the euphoric feeling the first time her grandson had been placed in her arms. Ginny – so confident about most things – had completely panicked when St. Mungo's had released her and the baby to return home. How can they just let me leave with him without so much as a guidebook? I'm the youngest, remember? How am I supposed to know what to do?
Molly had moved in with the young family for an entire week until Ginny nearly pushed her out the door and back to the Burrow. Molly would have moved in permanently to stay with her new grandson if Ginny had let her. She'd forgotten what it was like to have that baby smell – that intoxicating aroma of powder and warmth and sweetness all mixed together in one adorable package. Molly could have spent hours just counting his fingers and toes and watching each little expression that crossed his innocent face.
James Arthur Potter had been born at St. Mungo's, despite his insistence on arriving early. His parents almost hadn't made it to hospital in time. He looked just like his father, with a mop of messy black hair and stunning green eyes. His grandmother – Lily Potter – must have had strong genes, for every single one of her grandchildren had inherited her eyes.
Harry had been beside himself with wonder and awe. Watching his amazement over his newborn son had been powerfully emotional to watch. The baby – Jamie – gave Harry the one thing he had craved all his life – a family of his own. Harry went right out and bought the boy his own broomstick before he was even out of hospital.
The twins arrived two years after Jamie, Cedric Rubeus and Sirius Remus, both identical redheads. Ginny had wanted to name one after Charlie, but since Bill had already used that name, she decided that she'd just use the letter C. Harry had suggested Cedric, and Ginny thought it was fitting.
Harry and Ginny had just become comfortable in their parenting role by the time the twins arrived to completely throw them again. Molly would never forget how she'd walked into the Potter house to find the savior of the wizarding world completely overwhelmed by his children. He'd stood in the hallway with Jamie hanging on his leg, screaming, "Play wif me!" while he held a screeching infant in one arm and tried to clean spit up off the shoulder of his Quidditch uniform with the other. Molly still chuckled in amusement over that memory.
Both twins inherited their parents' love of adventure and their father's penchant for getting into trouble. Ginny had learned enough healing charms to become a Healer herself by the time they were five. Molly had to admit – she enjoyed watching her daughter and Harry struggle with the same kind of worries they had once put her through. She always thought it was a good thing that Harry and Ginny had remained friendly with Neville and Hannah, who had also married and had children of their own. Hannah ran the local Apothocary and always kept Ginny well-stocked with healing potions.
After the twins, Harry and Ginny's first daughter was born, Lily Ginevra. Like her grandmother and namesake, she was a redhead. Molly enjoyed watching the dynamics of the mother/daughter relationship between Ginny and Lily. Lily was strong-willed and gave her mother a harder time than any of the boys. Molly was vividly reminded of her own relationship with her daughter.
Lily was the apple of Harry's eye and could do no wrong, so it was often left to Ginny to pull her crew in line. In fact, on plenty of occasions Molly had seen the same pleading look in Harry's eyes as the children's when asking for something. He'd never really had the chance to be a child; therefore, he lived through a lot of experiences for the first time with his own kids.
Molly could see Ginny rolling her eyes at him, but she saw also the tender joy in Ginny's eyes that he was able to experience these things at all. It had taken Harry a while after the end of the war to recover emotionally. In fact, Ginny had said that even to this day he was occasionally plagued with nightmares. When Harry had begun playing Quidditch with the English team, he'd thrown himself into the game. No matter what he did – whether it be Quidditch, or travelling with Ginny, or caring for his children – he did it full force.
All his young life had been spent living as if he were dying, so now that he was finally free, he took nothing for granted. Everything he experienced was appreciated and enjoyed, and he left no doubt about how happy he was to be alive. It made the people around him continue to be very protective of him, not that he couldn't handle himself, however.
When Ron had tried to use his "Real men make men" line on Harry, Harry had quickly responded with, "Real men have enough control to give their woman what she wants." Ron hadn't used that line on Harry again, although he continued to torment Fred and George.
Harry and Ginny's next child had been another boy, whom Harry wanted to call Albus. Ginny absolutely put her foot down on that one. She didn't want to use the name Albus, although she did like the idea of naming a child after him, so they settled on Brian Ronald. Harry had even asked Abe to be Brian's godfather, a role Abe delighted in having.
After Brian, Jonathan Charles arrived much earlier than expected. He'd had some breathing difficulties when he first was born and gave all of them quite a fright. Molly would never forget the look on Harry's face as he sat in hospital, waiting for word on his infant son. He'd already suffered so much loss, but the idea of losing a child of their own nearly destroyed both him and Ginny. Molly knew from experience that there was nothing worse than losing a child; it went against the natural order of life, and she prayed it was something none of her own children would ever have to endure.
Jonathan had eventually recovered and was able to go home after an extended stay at St. Mungo's. Both Brian and Jonathan looked like Harry, with dark hair, although Brian's had streaks of red when the sun hit it.
Finally, their last child – the one currently sleeping in Harry's arms – was born. She was another daughter, and it seemed Harry and Ginny had finally run out of people to name her after. They decided simply to choose a name that they both liked, and thus dubbed her Joanna Molly. They weren't certain where the name Joanna came from, but somehow, it just seemed fitting.
Ron liked to tease Harry that only he would keep having kids until he had enough to stock his own Quidditch team. Harry quite liked the comparison and began saying he did it intentionally.
Joanna, who was now just over a year old, slept peacefully in her father's arms, gently sucking on her thumb. Harry expertly maneuvered around the table, filling a plate with chicken and various other fixings. Whenever Harry and Ginny had a child at Joanna's age, Molly had always been forcefully reminded that this was about the age Harry had been when he'd lost his parents. It always gave her a renewed sense of pride and respect for the young man he'd become.
"How'd the game go, Harry?" Ron asked through a mouthful of food.
"Good," Harry said, beaming. "We'll have the Gryffindor team stocked with Weasleys in no time. Keeps me in shape for whenever the coach lets me off the bench."
"You're still not playing?" Bill asked. "How's your hip doing, anyway?" Harry had crashed spectacularly in his game against the Czech Republic, when their young Seeker had plowed into him and knocked his broom from his grasp. Harry had tumbled to the ground from an impossible height, breaking nearly every bone in his body in the process.
"It's fine, just a little stiff. The coach is just being overly cautious. I've been coaching a couple of the young reserves in the meantime. Coaching is okay, but I'd much rather be involved in the game," Harry replied, still carefully loading his plate. He immediately tried to redirect the conversation off of him and his injuries and back towards the game the grandchildren had just played in the meadow. "Some of those midgets are looking pretty good. I think Charlie and Jamie will make the team without a problem in a year or two. The Gryffindor line-up hasn't been very strong in years. Ravenclaw is the team to beat at the moment. Those kids should eat a good supper; I know I'm starving."
Ginny moved beside him and slipped her arm around his waist. "Never mind the fact that they're all exhausted from playing so hard and should sleep well tonight," she said.
"Think they'll go to bed early?" Harry asked in a low voice, waggling his eyebrows. He obviously had forgotten Molly was sitting with them, or he never would have said that out loud. Despite his thirty-three years, Harry was still a fairly modest person compared to the rest of her crew.
"Bugger, Harry. Haven't you got enough kids already?" Ron asked, grumbling.
"Language, Ron," Hermione said, smacking him on the arm and grinning at Harry and Ginny. "How are things at the Ministry, Harry?"
Harry shrugged. "Remus's new anti-defamation legislation is just about to go through. He's been pushing this thing for so long, and I think it's finally acceptable to everyone involved. It's always give and take with that kind of stuff, you know? I met with some representatives of the vampire population through Ivan, and they've finally signed it. It's amazing to see the vampire community finally coming together and working with one another."
Remus and Tonks had originally married in a small Muggle ceremony, and Harry had stood as Remus's best man. After Remus had removed the marriage restrictions for werewolves and other magical creatures under wizarding law, he and Tonks had reaffirmed their vows. They'd never had children, but treated Harry as their surrogate son, therefore spoiling his children. Tonks insisted she wasn't the motherly type and was afraid to spread her gene pool, and Remus had feared passing on his Lycanthropy to a child. It wasn't what Molly would have chosen, but they seemed happy and were very close to Harry and Ginny. In fact, Harry often used his public image to help Remus with his agenda.
"Amelia asked me to address the Wizengamot about the new law, so that's supposed to take place sometime within the next fortnight," Harry said. "I don't know why she keeps asking me to do these things. I mean, I know I was the contact with Ivan, but it's not like I did anything."
Molly watched as Ginny covered a grin. Amelia Bones had been grooming Harry to be the next Minister of Magic for the past several years; Harry was the only one who appeared not to know it. Molly knew he'd be elected without a problem. There were nearly enough votes at the Weasley family picnic alone to ensure his victory.
Harry had spent a great deal of effort shielding his children from everything that had happened in his young life. He'd wanted them to know 'Daddy' before they heard about 'Harry Potter'. He'd been very successful with it, too, until Jamie had begun at Hogwarts the previous year. Now, he was frequently being asked questions and forced to address issues he'd rather not remember. Molly supposed that if he were going to enter the public life again, it would be best for his kids to learn about his past from him, rather than the history books.
"Daddy, will you push me on the swing, pleeeeaaase," Lily asked, batting her big green eyes and wiggling her little hand into his larger one.
Harry looked down at the plate he had just finished filling but had not yet had a bite and sighed. "Okay, Lily, come on," he said, shifting Joanna in his arms and leading Lily toward Ginny's old swing that still hung on the oak tree.
"I wanna swing, too, Daddy," Brian said, following at his heels.
"No, my turn. My turn, Daddy," Jonathan yelled, jumping on the balls of his feet around them.
Harry merely waved his hand, and the branch holding the swing extended. Once it was long enough, several more swings appeared. "Okay, climb on," Harry said. As they did, he again waved his arm, and all the swings began moving higher and higher.
Ginny laughed as she watched her husband and more and more of his nieces and nephews joined him. Harry simply kept adding swings to the branch. "The Pied Piper strikes again," she said.
Hermione grinned. "Uncle Harry's always good for a distraction. Pull up a seat, Ginny, and relax."
"Thanks. Great party, Mum. The kids are having a ball," Ginny said, smiling gently at her mother.
Ron leaned over and grabbed the chicken from Harry's uneaten plate.
"Ron," Hermione said, scowling at him.
"Wha?" Ron asked through a mouthful of chicken.
"Harry's going to want that; he hasn't eaten anything. Leave some for him," his wife said.
"Will you quit worrying over what Harry's eating? You know he hates when you do that. Besides, Dobby can always bring him more," Ron said, taking another bite of Harry's chicken.
Ginny groaned, and the rest of the siblings began moving away from the table, knowing the can of worms Ron had just opened.
"Ron! You most certainly will not give Dobby or Winky anything else to do. I can't believe Winky is still working without pay after all these years. I cannot understand why Harry still refuses to see that it would be better for her self esteem if she were a paid worker," Hermione said, color rising in her cheeks.
"Jeez, Hermione. She doesn't want to be paid. Her self-esteem was at its lowest point when she was getting paid, remember? She was pissed by noon every day," Ron said, swallowing the last of Harry's dinner
Arthur's grill was a raging inferno at this point, and the family began to make their way towards it and away from the bickering Ron and Hermione. The sky was growing dark, and Dobby had brought out plenty of marshmallows for the children to toast.
Fred and George began a fireworks display using the latest Weasley Whiz Bangs, and the family settled themselves around the bonfire on conjured blankets to watch the show. Harry placed the sleeping Joanna in a basket and sat down next to Ginny, wrapping his arms around her. Little Jonathan was on her lap, struggling to keep his eyes open, and it wasn't long before the rest of their children gathered around them on the blanket.
Ginny smiled at Harry over Lily's head, and his eyes sparkled at her when he returned her grin. Molly shut her eyes and rested her head back on her chair. This was the way it was supposed to be, and she said a silent prayer for many more Weasley Family Picnics for years to come.
A/N: Well, that's it, folks. I hope you enjoyed. I had the best time thinking about this epilogue and what should have happened to everyone. I don't know if you've ever heard the song "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw, but that is how I picture Harry living the rest of his life.
I asked my seven year old son for his opinion on several things, including Harry's career (which I'd already chosen but was happy his answer concurred.). He said Harry should play Quidditch for England. Remember, Connor is a Quidditch freak.
I asked him how many kids Harry and Ginny should have, and he came up with the number seven so that Harry could have his own Quidditch team. I thought that was pretty funny so I went with it. I know I'll probably get some grief from those that don't like to see Harry and Ginny with a bunch of kids, but…tough. I like it that way, and no one deserves a family more than Harry.
My middle son has an obsession with the Loch Ness Monster, lol. I make up stories for him about a lake near here, and he thinks that's where Nessie lives (he's not old enough to get the idea of how far Scotland is). Anyway, that's why Nessie had to be included here.
I can't even tell you how much I laughed when you all begged me not to kill Harry. Most of you were worried about Ron, but I had plenty of comments about Harry. As if! I won't even LOOK at a fic that does that, and I'm remarkably good at sniffing them out. If I even suspect it a little, I cheat and peek. So sue me. Harry doesn't deserve that, and quite frankly, after investing all this time and energy into the series – I don't either!
This never would have been possible without the wonderful help, guidance, advice, and assistance from my wonderful beta, Mistral. I've learned so much from you, and really, really appreciate all the time and effort you put into this huge project for me. Thanks, Mistral.
We're just about ready for HBP, and I can hardly wait. Enjoy it, only one more after this one. Sniff.