The two McGonagall brothers flash Elphinstone, a grin, before following after the skipping eight-year-old girl. Her father, Malcolm scoops her up in his arms and whirls her around causing her to shriek with delight, before putting her down. Faking that he is rather winded, Malcolm says, "Morag, you've grown again. I can hardly lift you!"
"Really, Da?" Morag excitedly said almost jumping in delight. "Do you reckon I can go to Hogwarts early?" Robert Jr. let out a snort earning a fierce scowl from both father and daughter.
Malcolm shakes his head causing his daughter's face to plummet. "But-," Malcolm said.
"But what Da?!" Morag eagerly exclaimed.
"There's going to be a new primary school for children to start at the end of August," Malcolm explained. "You and your brother will be both attending Duo."
"Really, da?!" Morag squealed as they stepped into the cottage. "You're not playing a trick on me, are you?!"
"Nope," Malcolm promised as he crossed his finger over his heart. "I swear that you'll make a lot of friends, learn new things, and know a lot more than I or your mum ever learned."
"Yay!" Morag squealed in delight as she raced down the hall and shouted, "I'm going to school!"
"Thank goodness," Malcolm murmured under his breath. "Someone else can deal with all of that ferocious energy."
Robert Jr. chortles with glee and claps a hand onto his brother's shoulder. "You and every other parent with children is praising the Minister."
Malcolm glowers at his brother and shoves his hand's off. "Just wait until your little Jessica starts to get into everything. Trust me, you won't be able to count down the days until she's able to go to school. That little gal is going to be another whirlwind, mark my words."
Robert Jr. pales a bit at his brothers' words, all the while, while Elphinstone stares at them with a mixture of envy and longing. He'd been an only child, and he'd never conversations like this. It was a bit refreshing to be part of such a family scene even if only as a bystander.
Elphinstone steps into the kitchen and freezes at seeing Minerva. Her usually pinned up dark hair is down in silky, loose curls. Her face is bright with just a touch of color on her lips. Her dress is form-fitting showing off her rarely-seen curves. She was utterly breathtaking.
Elphinstone flushes at being caught with his mouth open as Minerva arches her brows at him. Elphinstone shuts his mouth with a loud snap and eagerly hurries forward to help. The a.d.u.l.ts carry out the main entrees: a golden Cornish Hen, a perfectly baked Shepherd's Pie, potato salad, and other platters. And for dessert: Sticky Toffee Pudding, Trifle, Victoria Sponge Cake, and a few lighter desserts like gelatin.
The food is swiftly and rather neatly placed on the table. Elphinstone is teased by the McGonagall brothers, but he was not going to fall flat on his face again with food in his hands and in front of Minerva. He'd never be able to live down the sheer mortification of such a scene.
With the last of the entrees on the table, everyone began to take a seat. The children were sitting between their parents and separated from each other lest they get any funny ideas. Elphinstone awkwardly glanced around until Minerva gently tugged on his hand for him to sit next to her. Feeling an awful lot of warmth creeping up his face again, he quickly sits down trying to ignore his pounding heart.
Thankfully with the entire now assembled, Isobel loudly says, "Let us say, Grace," and bows her head and begins. Elphinstone tries to be reverent but much like the children, he peeks at everyone across the table. It was a bit of a fascinating experience for him as he was not truly religious, to begin with. That did not mean he discounted the idea of a God, it just tended to work out very well with the fact that he was a wizard.
Isobel mutters, "Amen," and everyone mutters the same as their heads go up.
The sound of clinking can be heard as dishes are passed around. The single a.d.u.l.ts serve themselves first, while the four parents at the dinner table serve their children first, before finally serving themselves. The sound of eating can quickly be heard as only the odd comment or two is made such asking for the rolls to be passed or the gravy.
After a bit, the a.d.u.l.ts begin to chatter with the children shouting at each other from across the table. Minerva turns to the side and says, "I hope this isn't a bit too much, Elphinstone."
"No, not at all," Elphinstone quickly replied. "It seems rather nice to be part of a family like this. I'm a bit envious to be truthfully honest."
Minerva's expression softens as she reaches down below under the table to give his hand a squeeze. Elphinstone returns the hand squeeze back as they hold hands for a bit before she removes her hand and begins to eat again. The other McGonagall's flash looks at each other with knowing expressions on each of their faces. And so, they chose to speak to each other and allow the two to softly remain in their own world for the moment in a soft conversation.
Once dessert was served to the children, the a.d.u.l.ts finished their own plates, before serving themselves seconds or dessert. However, the instant the children finish with their dessert and run off like only children can do after eating a heavy meal, the entire focus of the table zeros onto Elphinstone. It was like a group of cats staring at a trapped canary in the corner of the room.
Rather sudden, Elphinstone is struggling to breathe at feeling his shirt collar is suddenly too tight around his neck. Forcing himself not to tug on his collar in order to breath, Elphinstone reaches into his coat pocket with plenty of nerves, before taking out a small jewelry box. Gulping, he slips out of his seat and kneels onto the grassy floor to see Minerva's eyes grow wide.
Cracking the box lid open, a shiny engagement ring with a nice gem glistens in the sunlight. "Minerva McGonagall," Elphinstone hoarsely said. "Will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?"
There is a long pause as everyone glances at Minerva, while Elphinstone's heart plummets into his stomach. Finally, Minerva says, "I will, Elphinstone, but I will not be abandoning my duties and responsibilities at Hogwarts."
"I shan't ever dream of ever asking such thing out of you, Minerva," Elphinstone truthfully said as his eyes sparkled with such hope and devotion.
Minerva's lips twitch into a somewhat bashful smile. "Well, aren't you going to put the ring on my finger?" Minerva teased.
"Yes!" Elphinstone exclaimed as he hurriedly, but carefully slipped the shiny ring onto her slim ring finger.
There is laughing and clapping as Robert Jr. says, "Well, aren't you two going to kiss?"
The two of them flush as Isobel glares at her youngest son. "Mind your manners, Robby," Isobel chided him.
Robert Jr. shrugs despite his mother's words earning a whack on the head from both his wife and older brother. Wincing he fiercely scowls at them as he rubs the back of his head. Why was it always him?
Still, Minerva shyly leans over and gives Elphinstone a quick peck on the lips, before darting back with a lovely red flush on her face. Elphinstone, on the other hand, had a rather awestruck expression on his face. He'd finally been kissed on the lips by the girl of his dreams.
The two sisters-in-law's of Minerva, Evie, and Freya eagerly ask, "So, when will the wedding be?"
Minerva visibly balks as Elphinstone gently reaches down to grab her hand and give it a reassuring squeeze. "At the earliest not until the Christmas Holidays, if not until summer of next year," Elphinstone smoothly replied. "Minerva's still has her students to think of, and I don't want our married life to cause any strife with her duties at Hogwarts.
Minerva flashes her now betrothed, a grateful smile. Not that she didn't want to marry him, but not yet! It was still far too soon and new to her too truly feel comfortable with the idea. She'd rather enjoy and luxuriate in the time that they still had without worry. That not and she needed the time to start planning their wedding. Surely, her mother and sisters-in-law would be eager to help.
Across the table, Isobel's lips twitch with a mixture of envy and fondness. She too remembered how it had been between her and Robert at the start. They had been so in love that they had eloped, and after that, she'd been disowned by her parents. She'd not ever seen her family since. But worst of all, she'd never told Robert that she was a witch until her hand was forced with the birth of her eldest child, Minerva.
Not that it was Minerva's fault for all her children had been born with magic. However, there were times she wished that she would have had the courage to tell Robert from the very start that she was witch, but she had not. And even though they both still loved each other even after Robert had learned the truth, there was a breach in their relationship that could never be repaired. Robert had never entirely forgiven her for her omitting the truth, and she had never understood why Robert, a vicar could never accept the fact that she was a witch.
For most romantic adventurers do not end as simply as children fairytales. The prince and princess may ride happily into the sunset but may not live happily ever after. Life is infinitely far more complicated than that.