A Day in the Life
Disclaimer: Yeah, I'm still not JKR.
Written for the Twin Exchange Monthly Challenge, July 2014.
Also for Wendy because she was sad. But I'm slow and that was weeks ago so she's probably over it by now.
Saturday, 24 June 2023
"Fred!" his wife called as he was on his way out for work. He, as usual, had barely rolled out of bed before he had to rush out the door. She, on the other hand, had been up for a couple hours, already having showered and neatly braided her hair, and now was making scones while the dough for something else was rising. She had tied an apron over her work clothes ‒ wait, work clothes?
"What?" he responded, distracted now. "Hermione, why are you dressed for work? I thought you were taking today off."
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about. We didn't finish everything we need to yesterday before Kingsley had to leave, so I need to go back in this afternoon."
"See, I knew you couldn't take a full day off," Fred teased. "Will you be done in time to get the kids?" The Hogwarts Express was returning that afternoon.
Hermione shook her head. "I don't know. I think we're having lunch catered so I'll go in then and hopefully I'll only need to be there a few hours and can be home in plenty of time to make it to King's Cross at four." Since her promotion to the Minister for Magic's office, Hermione had been working Saturdays, unlike most Wizarding parents. Saturdays were also the busiest day of the week at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, so Fred had always had to put in at least half a day then. Luckily, he normally took mornings while George held down the fort in the afternoons.
"Okay, I'll see you later then." Taking the mixer out of her hands, Fred set it on the counter before giving her a quick peck on the cheek and started to leave.
"If I'm not home by 3:30, just go to Platform 9 3/4 without me," Hermione began, trailing behind Fred to stand in the doorway of the kitchen.
Fred waved a hand back at her carelessly. "Don't worry, I know the drill."
"I know, but ‒"
"I'll see you later, whether it's before we both pick up the kids, or after I successfully get them myself. I've got to run now or I'll be late. Bye, love!" And then he left.
"Georgie, have you seen my brain? I seem to have misplaced it."
George Weasley laughed at his twin. "The morning was that bad, huh?"
"A kid asked me to help him find Acid Pops and I wandered the store with him for more than five minutes before I remembered that we don't sell those!"
"Ha!" exclaimed George. "Go home, Freddie. Eat something. Did you even have breakfast this morning?"
Fred considered this. "Don't think so. See, when I went into the kitchen this morning, Hermione was there and she distracted me..." He paused to wink at his twin.
George clapped his hands over his ears. "Don't want to know!"
"...by reminding me to pick up the kids at King's Cross," Fred finished.
George glowered at him. "Get out of here before I hex you."
Fred, ever the mature one, gave him a one-fingered salute as he Disapparated.
Once home, Fred disarmed their usual wards and let himself in the front door to the house. He went to his and Hermione's room and quickly exchanged his work robes for Muggle clothes before heading into the kitchen, intent on lunch. Midway through making a sandwich, he noticed a slip of paper on the counter.
Sorry I didn't catch you before I left. If the kids beat me home, I left some fresh bread in the breadbox and scones on the counter. Picked up some fruit at the market; that's in the fridge. You know where the tea is. That should tide you all over till dinner. See you later!
Fred smiled at his wife's scrupulously neat and careful handwriting. Even in a casual note the woman was tidy. Merlin, but that drove him mad sometimes. Of course, that didn't make him half so mad as his perpetual un-tidiness made her. Poor Hermione, Fred thought .Their three children were certainly clever like their mother, but they all tended to thrive in the same constant state of chaos as their father. Emma in particular had a wicked streak that had gotten her into trouble more than once. Fred smiled to himself as he polished off his sandwich. He'd worked hard 23 years ago to convince Hermione that they would be good together, but he'd never imagined that they'd be lucky enough to have a life this good.
After cleaning his dishes from lunch, Fred glanced at his watch. 1:27. He still had a couple hours before he had to go get the kids. Whistling, he headed outside to do some work around the yard.
"If that's all we're going to do today, Minister, I'm going to head out. The Hogwarts Express is coming back this afternoon." Hermione smiled at Kingsley Shacklebolt as she packed her papers into a large bag.
"Of course, Hermione! Merlin, why didn't you say something earlier? It'll be nearly here by now."
"Oh, it's fine. Fred will collect our kids at the station and I'll just meet them all at home. At this rate, I may even beat them there."
"Excellent." Kingsley picked up Hermione's bag and began herding her out of the office towards the lift. "I'll take care of cleaning up in here today. You go home and see your kids. Tell them I say hi."
"But I was going to‒" Hermione tried to step past him to her desk.
"It can wait until Monday. If we need you before then, someone will Floo. Bye, Hermione."
Hermione gave up and took her bag back as she boarded the lift. "Bye, Mr. Shacklebolt!"
"You used to call me Kingsley!" His deep voice echoed in the shaft as the lift disappeared sideways. A few harrowing seconds later, and Hermione found herself at the Employee Apparition Point. She waved at the security witch on duty and Disapparated home.
Approaching the house, she discovered with surprise and no small amount of alarm that the wards were down. She held her wand at the ready and tentatively opened the door. Nothing in the hall looked out of place. She checked the living room, which was normal. She checked the dining room, where the expensive china was still in its proper place. Still wary, she entered the kitchen.
The window over the sink was open, curtains billowing slightly in the light breeze. She thought she heard the strains of a Weird Sisters song coming from the wireless outside. Then she heard Fred join in on the chorus.
"Oh! Can you dance like a hippogriff? Na na na..."
Hermione stormed to the door and all but threw it open. "Fred Weasley!" she shouted.
Fred stopped de-gnoming the garden mid swing. The gnome he was holding scrambled up and bit him on the finger. He promptly dropped it. "Uh, yes dear?" he asked.
"Do you have any idea what time it is? The Hogwarts Express is due to arrive any minute! You forgot all about it!"
Nineteen years of marriage to Hermione had blessed Fred with a good sense of when his wife was working up to a good and proper tirade. It had also given him a pretty good instinct of when he should just let her go for it, or try to nip it in the bud. Now was not the time to get into this.
"Well, dear, let's get a move on!" Gnomes forgotten, Fred turned off the wireless with a wave of his wand and pulled Hermione back inside. "I knew you'd get home in time to go with me," he continued, knowing that the trick was to just keep talking so Hermione wouldn't have a chance to get started again. "There was no way you'd be able to resist going to Platform 9 3/4 and seeing the kids as soon as possible." He shut the window and locked the back door, pushing Hermione towards the front hallway. He pulled her out the front door, and the two of them, out of longstanding habit, put up the wards together. "Miss Hermione Granger," he kept talking, "always has to do things herself, lest she worries that they get done wrong or not at all."
"I haven't been Miss Hermione Granger in years," she grumbled at him, and he knew he was in the clear.
"Mrs. Hermione Weasley," he corrected, "always has to be right." He gave her a fast kiss on the mouth, and the pair of them Disapparated with a pop.
Hermione and Fred materialized directly next to the barrier and immediately stepped through, before any muggles who thought they saw something had a chance to blink and look again. They stepped out next to Harry and Ginny just as the end of the train reached the platform and the whole thing screeched to a stop.
"Cutting it a bit close, aren't you?" asked Ginny, eyeing the pair. Hermione had on a rumpled skirt suit, and Fred was in grass-stained jeans and a sweaty t-shirt.
Hermione shot Fred a look. "His fault."
Ginny opened her mouth to say something, but the whistle blew and students began pouring out of the cars. "We'll talk tomorrow," she said loudly, over the sudden increase in sound.
Hermione nodded. "See you then!" She told Ginny, and the two women turned to search for their respective children.
"Mum!" Hermione turned. The girl who had shouted ran past her to a woman Hermione didn't recognize. She smiled at her own folly. Half the people present responded to "mum". Ignoring the voices, she gripped Fred's hand and relied on her eyes. Unfortunately, she was too short to see much beyond the people directly in front of her.
"There they are!" said Fred, pointing with his free hand. They weaved their way through the crowd.
"Mum!" This time it was directed at her.
"Emma!" Hermione embraced her daughter. Fred stepped in to hug Emma too as Hermione reached for their 13-year-old son.
"Mum," he groaned, "I'm too old for this stuff."
"Of course you're not," she replied, ruffling his hair for good measure.
"Dad, a little help here?"
Fred clapped his son on the shoulder. "Sorry, Robbie. Can't stop your mum from anything. Most I can do is not hug you in public too. Then you'd really lose the respect of your friends." He winked.
"And to think I was excited about coming home for the summer." Robbie sighed.
"Cheer up, shorty," Emma told him. "No homework for months!"
Robbie stuck out his tongue at her. "I'm taller than you now," he pointed out.
"That's true!" Hermione exclaimed, and grabbed him again, this time by the shoulders. She looked him up and down. "You must've grown a foot since Easter!"
"Should pass you up any day now, I should think," said Fred. "Where'd Gavin get off to?" he asked the two kids who were with them. "He was here when I spotted you from the entrance."
Emma shrugged. "He disappeared."
"Probably off snogging his girlfriend." Robbie made a disgusted face. "Before she leaves on vacation."
"Well, he'd better turn up soon, or we'll leave without him," said Fred as Gavin walked up behind Hermione. "It'd serve him right, abandoning his poor mother in favor of some girl he sees every day." He winked at Gavin and Hermione turned around.
"Gavin!" She gave him a hug. "Where's your trunk?"
He pulled a miniature trunk out of the pocket of his school robes. "Shrunk it myself," he told her proudly.
Fred squinted at it. "Not too shabby," he told his firstborn. "First time I shrunk anything that big it only got about an inch smaller."
"I had to try a few times," Gavin admitted. "But I think I've got it down now. Can I try on theirs?" He gestured to his siblings' belongings.
"Yeah, I don't want to drag my whole trunk to the car again," Emma complained. "We've done it twice now, five times if you count dragging it from the car to the train too, and I don't have an ounce more character than I did before." She glared accusingly at her father.
"That, my dearest daughter, is because you already had the maximum amount of character that one person can," Fred told her.
"And actually," said Hermione, "we didn't bring our car."
"What?" asked Robbie. "How are we getting home? I don't think we'll all fit in Aunt Audrey's van."
"No," replied Hermione. "Your father and I Apparated here."
"No way! We get to Side-Along?" Emma asked excitedly.
"But how can the two of you take the three of us?" asked Robbie. "Can't you only take one other person?"
"Well, I did hear something about someone passing his test two weeks ago." Hermione glanced at Gavin.
"Yeah, we might've gotten a four-page long letter that mentioned something about it," Fred chimed in.
"It wasn't four pages," protested Gavin at the same time as Emma exclaimed, "FOUR pages? You told us you didn't want to make a big deal of it to Mum and Dad!"
"Emma, don't tease your brother," Hermione reprimanded her. "Don't forget that you sent us a solid six pages when you passed the Quidditch tryouts. Anyway, let's get going." The platform had gotten significantly less crowded as they spoke. "Gavin, you're sure you can make it yourself? It's a long way. I can take two if need be."
Gavin nodded. "Don't worry, Mum, I'll be fine," he said.
"Come right after me and Emma," Fred told him. He turned to Emma, taking her trunk with one hand and offering the other to her. "Hold on tight," he said, "and don't let go for anything." He twisted on the spot, and quite suddenly they were at the house.
Dizzy, Emma fell against Fred. He steadied her. "Are you all right?" he asked as with a mighty CRACK Gavin appeared next to them.
The teen gave himself a quick check. "Dad! I think I lost my House badge! Mum will never let me Apparate again!"
"It's fine," said Fred. "Your Uncle Ron failed his Apparition test the first time he took it. Left behind half an eyebrow. Just take off your sweater and tell her you got hot. You've got more of those in your trunk?" Gavin nodded. "Then she probably won't even notice," Fred finished.
Gavin turned to his sister. Emma had regained her balance and was looking like Christmas had come early. "If you tell her," he warned, "I will jinx you so ‒"
"None of that, now," Fred interrupted as Hermione appeared with Robbie in tow. He too, lost his balance upon landing.
"That's bloody awful!"
"Language," Hermione said as she held him steady and set down his trunk.
"Can we go inside now?" asked Emma. "I'm starving."
Fred disarmed the wards as Hermione unlocked the door. "You lot go upstairs and get changed, but come right down. You can unpack after dinner. Gavin, I want you to go outside and help your father finish de-gnoming the garden. Emma, Robbie, help me get dinner around. I want to hear all about your third year!"
"We wrote you," protested Robbie.
"Not the same," Hermione told him. "No arguments. Off you go."
All three kids rattled their way up the stairs, chattering and clunking things and being generally noisy.
"It's good to have them back," Fred said quietly.
Hermione smiled, wrapping her arms around him. "Yes."
"I take it I'm not in trouble for losing track of time earlier, then?"
She sighed. "No. It's been a long day."
"Gavin lost his House badge Apparating here, you know."
Hermione chuckled. "I know." She stepped back and pulled the badge out of her pocket. "He just left it on the platform. Robbie and I saw it fall when he left."
"And we'll be re-sizing his possessions for a week."
"Oh, well," said Hermione. "C'est la vie."
"Yes," agreed Fred. "Such is our life."
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