This story has been a long time in the works. It lay abandoned for a year after a bout of writers block and then getting a new job and not having time. But...now I have finally finished it and cleaned it up...and I am sharing it with you!
It's been awhile since I have shared any of my writing with people, so please be kind...this is my first Harry Potter fanfic and I'm quite proud of it :) I hope you enjoy!
And, now I give you:
"Molly?" I called, stepping carefully over the grate as I arrived via the floo network at The Burrow. Unclasping my travelling cloak, I draped it over the corner of the sofa, laying my briefcase on top, listening for the sound of voices. But the only sounds came from the soft clicking of knitting needles in the corner, churning out yet another family jumper I suspected. "Molly? Arthur?" I called again as I continued wandering through the house
The moment I stepped inside the kitchen I was engulfed in the delicious scent of vanilla and warm treacle. Molly had been baking again and I inhaled the divine smells hungrily, my mouth already watering. It seemed a very long time since my rather limp sandwich at lunch. On the worktop, knives were busy chopping up vegetables in preparation for dinner. The soapy pan scrub in the sink was busy working on an old and very tarnished frying pan, whilst the kettle merrily whistled away to itself. Yet the house seemed to be empty.
And then I finally spied them all through the window, playing together outside in the garden and making the most of the first decent warm weather we'd had this year. Spring had been rather late to make an appearance. I smiled fondly at my family looking happy and carefree, before rushing outside to join them.
"Mummy!" A small, red curly haired little girl saw me first and charged down the lawn to greet me.
"Hi sweetie," I greeted her as she crashed into my leg and hung on tightly. She grinned up at me, her smile wide and displaying the gap from her first lost tooth. Scooping her up in my arms, I kissed her cheek and hugged her close, breathing in the scent of my four year old daughter – she smelt of sunshine and freshly mown grass. "Have you had a nice day?" I asked her, perching her on my hip and heading further down the garden towards her grandma and little brother.
"Uh huh," she nodded, enthusiastically. "We did baked cookies with Grandma! I maded you one," she whispered against my ear and gave me a slobbery kiss.
"You made me one," I corrected her, brushing back stray strands of wayward hair and tucking them into the bunches I'd tied her hair up in that morning. Poor Rose had inherited my uncontrollable hair, although she had her father's red colouring.
She nodded. "Yes, I maded you one, I put M on it for mummy. And then I maded one with R for Rosie and a H for Hugo. For our names mummy!" she explained proudly, as though I wouldn't understand without her clarification.
"They sound lovely. I can't wait to try them," I smiled at her exuberance and kissed her forehead. "And what did your brother do?" I wondered, hesitantly. Hugo had a knack for getting himself into trouble, despite only being a couple of months over the age of two.
"He maded no cookies and just eated all his dough," she sighed, as though her brother was hard work for her. "And then he chased after the gnomes in the garden and one nearly bited him. But grandma saved him," she exclaimed, her arms waving madly.
"Mummy!" Hugo looked up from his digging in the mud and grinned at me. He was covered in dirt, but he looked so happy. "I look worms!" He added excitedly and returned to his digging as though it was the most important task in the world.
"I hear you've had a busy day, young man?" I set Rose down and knelt to kiss my son hello, brushing back his soft ginger hair. He needed a haircut – again. His hair always grew so quickly, but I suspected it wasn't completely by itself. Already they were both showing spurts of magic unconsciously.
"He's not been too bad today," Molly added, setting another bundle of knitting down as she moved up on the garden bench for me to join her. With such a big brood of children, in-laws and grandchildren now – she started earlier and earlier on Christmas gifts these days. "You've been a good boy today, haven't you Hugo?" she asked her grandson.
He merely looked up briefly, offered us all a cheeky little grin and giggled, before returning to the worm hunt. "What are you hunting the worms for sweetheart?" I asked him.
"Gnomes eat them!" He flicked dirt up in the air.
"Well, I think they can find their own dinner, thank you. And I don't think you want worms for your dinner, do you?" I joked. His eyes looked up at me wide in horror at the very thought of having to eat them. "Come here my little nargle!" I laughed at him, before plucking him from the grass and sat down with him on my lap. Much to my children's amusement, I often referred to my son as a nargle, as my friend Luna, who was one of the only people in the world I knew to believe in them, claimed they were very mischievous. And so was my son. "Look at you, a face full of mud," I grimaced playfully at him and used my wand to siphon the mud off him as he giggled – apparently the action tickled.
"How was work?" Molly asked me as I hugged my children, allowing Rose to climb up between us.
"Busy," I sighed. "I spent the entire day in Kingsley's office again, going through more old law books. You wouldn't believe the amount of silly laws that had been made against Muggles and Muggle-borns in years past. We're trying to find them all and get them eradicated. It's just taking so long having to read through these huge, old books and write everything down. Sometimes I wonder if I made a mistake, changing departments." I confessed.
"But you still enjoy the work, don't you?" she asked.
"Yes. It's very fulfilling. I like that I'm able to make a difference now. I didn't have much leeway in helping the elves or any other beings in the creature department, they were all more concerned in controlling them and keeping them away from Muggles. Hopefully, once I have these Muggle-born laws complete, I can start on magical beings and get them more rights. I could just do with a dozen more pair of eyes to read all this text," I sighed as I let a squirming Hugo down off my lap.
"What if you went back to work full time?" she wondered.
I shook my head. "I couldn't do that. I enjoy my job and I like the work. But, my children are more important and I love them much more. Ron and I agreed on that," I mumbled his name quietly.
"Well, if anyone can get there, I know you can Hermione. I know the way you work," she patted my arm comfortingly. "Now, why don't you come on inside and I'll make you a cup of tea whilst I finish making our supper. You are staying to eat with us, aren't you?" she checked, just as she did every Wednesday.
"Of course," I smiled and began rounding my children up. "Come on, let's go drag your Grandpa out of his shed and get him to play with you." I told them. Arthur loved spending an hour with the children before dinner, reading to them, sometimes bringing a comic home for them or playing a game together.
Arthur was 60 years old now and semi-retired. With the children all grown up and moved out, settled in good jobs and supporting their parents when they allowed, there wasn't any need for him to work such gruelling hours as he had once done. Only, he loved his job too much to give it up completely, so he still worked a few hours a week. And if he wasn't at work, he could usually be found in his shed – still tinkering with Muggle devices!
Once the children were settled in the front room with their grandpa, and an old Muggle jigsaw puzzle he'd dug out from his work shed for them to build together, Molly set a cup of tea in front of me at the large, wooden farmhouse table. It was covered in aged dents and scratches – some deliberate from her wayward sons carving their names or drawings into the dark wood, which they'd no doubt been severely reprimanded for. Some people might have thrown it out or sanded the impairments out – but I always felt it was merely a sign of a well loved and lived in home.
I took a sip of the tea and sighed contently, setting the mug back on the coaster. "Oh, that's good," I smiled at her as she offered me a biscuit. "No thanks," I shook my head, "dinner smells delicious and I'd hate to ruin it."
For a few minutes we shared the homely kitchen in comfortable silence as she continued preparing the meal and I enjoyed my tea. I sat back in my chair and closed my eyes to enjoy the brief quiet moments alone with nothing to do.
"Hermione," Molly started and I heard her pull out a chair opposite me as I opened my eyes. "I was wondering…would you like Arthur and I to have the children this weekend? I mean…I know it would have been your…"
"Why? It's not as though I'd have anything planned, would I?" I snapped and then instantly regretted it when I saw the hurt look on her face. "I'm sorry," I apologised. "I just…I was trying to forget," I shrugged sheepishly, realising how foolish that was. As if I could.
"You don't need to apologise to me, dear," she patted my hand across the table. "I understand better than most. But, maybe you'd like to stay over as well? I mean…perhaps you shouldn't be alone this weekend?" she suggested delicately.
I shook my head slowly. "I don't think so." I whispered, my eyes filling with tears when I caught sight of the initials, RBW carved in childish handwriting into the wood of the table. Unconsciously I traced them with the tips of my fingers. "I mean…I just…I think I'd rather be alone," I looked up, wiping my eyes with the back of my hand. "I appreciate the offer, but I hope that's okay with you? I'm sure Rosie and Hugo would love to stay though. They'd have a lousy time with me this weekend." I added, giving her a watery smile.
"Of course that's okay, anything you want dear. And…you know where we are if you need us. We'll keep the children with us then, I mean after their usual Friday morning here? You could take them home after dinner on Sunday?" she suggested, brightly, eager to change the sombre mood.
"Sounds like a good idea." I agreed and placed my hand over the carved initials so I couldn't see them anymore.
"Good," she nodded and finished preparing dinner, before calling her husband and grandchildren to the table.
I enjoyed these meals with my in-laws after a busy day at work. It was nice to have a meal cooked for you when you felt too tired to even think about what to cook yourself. Wednesday was the only full day I worked now, going part time after Hugo was born. I'd needed to return to work for the money and because my job was important to me in the Law Enforcement department of the Ministry of Magic, where I worked under the Minister. But, I also realised that my children needed me now more then ever, just as desperately as I needed them and that they were far more important than any job ever could be. So, I worked three half days and one full day a week now, with Monday off. Family helped me with the children, between my mum, Ginny and my mother-in-law, we made sure they were both well cared for and I was with them as much as I could be. It was a solution that had so far worked for us the last couple of years anyway.
"I think I'd best get these sleepy heads home," I commented after indulging in a large helping of shepherds pie followed by two naughty slices of treacle tart. Hugo was sat on his grandpa's lap, nodding off and Rosie was lolling against my arm as I finished my second cup of tea.
"I'll go get their things together for you," Molly stood, glancing at her husband cuddling his grandson and not wanting to disturb them. "Oh, and don't forget your cookies Rose," she added, carefully wrapping them in a paper bag for the children to take home.
With Arthur's help, I got the children ready to go and we were stood beside the fireplace when Molly returned with their packed bag.
"Thank you," I hitched it on my shoulder, juggled my briefcase in one hand and then took Hugo from Arthur and grasped Rose's hand.
"Now, we'll see you on Friday morning. And they're staying the weekend, right?" Molly checked.
"They are?" Arthur asked in surprise. "Wonderful," he beamed at his grandchildren as Molly nodded.
"And your mum has them tomorrow?"
"Yes. As usual," I smiled patiently, really wanting to be off. Hugo wasn't such a light weight anymore.
"Let them get off home Molly, love." Arthur grinned at me.
"Oh, right. Yes. Goodnight then," she kissed the grandchildren and then myself. "And we'll see you on Friday. Bye darlings."
"Bye," the children waved sleepily as I clumsily grasped a handful of floo powder with my hands full, tossed it into the flames and stated the name of our home.
Within seconds we were climbing from the fireplace of our own home. The floo over had roused the children somewhat and they both darted towards their boxes of toys under the window in our large lounge.
"Ah ah!" I warned them, finally being able to kick my shoes off and dump all the things I was holding onto the sofa. "Upstairs, both of you. It's bath time."
"Aaw," Rosie sulked and stuck out her bottom lip.
"No, Rosie. It's getting late and Mummy's tired."
"But, I not tired Mummy!" She persisted.
"Come on, up those stairs young lady!" I picked up Hugo who had been ignoring me and already pulled out a toy fire engine my parents had bought him for his last birthday. He wailed in protest as I carted him up to the bathroom and chased his sister up before us.
Once I had them both bathed, dried and snuggled in their pyjamas, I allowed Rosie to play in her room for a few minutes whilst I tucked Hugo in and read him his bedtime story. As usual, he wanted the same one – every night I had to read the one about the dragon who had a tea party and finished up playing Quidditch on a team. He still chuckled and gasped in all the same places, and although the story now bored me rigid, his reactions and pure enjoyment more than made up for that.
"Night night my sweet Huey boy," I kissed him as we finished the story. He giggled at his silly nickname. It hadn't been my idea. "Sleep tight, don't let the nargles bite. I'll see you in the morning sweetheart. I love you," I whispered and kissed him once more, brushing his hair back from his eyes as he snuggled under the sheets, his eyes already closing. With a flick of my wand, the lights turned out and his little night light – a glass jar full or glowing orbs – gave him just enough light not to be frightened by the shadows.
"Night night Mummy," he murmured sleepily through the thumb in his mouth, as I closed his door too, leaving a gap.
"Mummy?" Rose started the second I opened her door. She was sat on the floor, arranging her dolls and stuffed animals around a doll sized table and pouring them all 'tea'. "Can I eat grandma's cookies now?" she asked, hopefully.
"No. Not tonight." I told her firmly.
"Aww, but Mummy!" she pouted and folded her arms. "That's not fair!" she sulked, throwing the last of her toys down harshly, knocking all the china teacups over.
"You may eat them tomorrow, after your lunch." I led her to bed and pulled the covers back. "Now, let's hop into bed and then you'll have something to look forward to tomorrow, won't you?"
She huffed, but climbed into bed, still with a pout on. I had to smile – she did look cute and I knew her dad would have given into her instantly. "Oh, come on sweetheart. I promise we'll all have them for our lunch tomorrow."
"But I didn't make nana one," she looked up at me in a panic, realising that my mum would be with us for lunch. She usually drove over to us for lunch and then stayed with the children whilst I went to work for the afternoon.
"That's okay sweetheart," I sat on the side of the bed with her and smoothed her hair down. "Nana doesn't like sweet things anyway, does she?"
Rose cheered up at that and shook her head. "No, she says it rods your teef or something"
"I think you mean it rots your teeth, sweetheart,"I kissed the top of her head. "But it's okay to have them occasionally, so long as we remember to brush our teeth too." I found myself lecturing.
"Daddy liked sweet things though, didn't he Mummy?" she snuggled against me.
I nodded. "Yes, he did." I whispered and held her a little tighter.
"When we was making cookies today, I asked Gwandma if I could make one for daddy too…and she cried Mummy. So I didn't make him one," she shook her head sadly. "Why did she cry mummy?" she looked up at me innocently.
I bit my bottom lip to stop my tears and took a deep breath before I answered her. "I think, sweetheart, because she misses daddy just as much as we do. He was her little baby, like you and Hugo will always be my little babies. And, it's very sad when we miss someone, isn't it?"
She nodded and looked sad. "I do miss my daddy." She buried her head against me and held on tight.
"Me too darling," I stroked her hair and spoke softly. "I miss him very, very much. But it's okay to miss people and cry, it just means that we love them so very much," I held her and for a few moments we sat quietly and cuddled together as we remembered him. "Now," I sniffed and wiped my eyes, "what story would you like me to read tonight?" I forced a smile for her.
She handed me the book she had got ready – one of my Muggle books from my childhood – the story of Cinderella. "Princesses? Again?" I asked her and tickled her tummy. She had suddenly become obsessed with these books and loved being able to regale her cousins with this world of fairy tales that they had never heard of.
"Yes," she giggled. "Cause daddy said I was his Princess."
"He did," I remembered. "And you're mine too," I smiled, though silently wondered where all this stuff with her dad was coming from. She hadn't mentioned him for awhile.
We settled in her bed together and before the end of the story, she had fallen asleep snuggled up to me. Carefully I tucked her in, kissed her forehead and whispered goodnight to her. "I love you Rosie Posie. See you in the morning."
As I crept from her room, out into the hallway, I breathed a sigh of relief that they were both already asleep – it wasn't always that easy to get them to bed. But a day spent at grandma's usually tired them out. With the children safe and settled for the night, I stepped inside my room and began undressing as I headed for the en-suite bathroom to run a deep bubble bath – it was time for a little mummy time.
Although he was never far from my mind and I missed him every second of every day, Rose talking about her dad tonight and the fact that this weekend was significant to us had affected me more than usual and I allowed myself to break down – something I tried not to do very often for the sake of my children. I lay soaking in the tub longer than usual, allowing the tears to fall and the grief to engulf me once more. So that by the time I climbed into bed, it was already after 10pm and I was too exhausted to do anything but close my eyes and hope sleep took me into sweet oblivion.
These days, it wasn't unusual to find myself in bed before 9pm. I hated being downstairs all alone after the children were in bed – it was far too quiet and cold and lonely. I'd find myself sat staring at the wall, chasing demons in my head and spending too long brooding over things I simply couldn't change and fighting back the tears that threatened to fall numerous times each day – it was a constant battle with myself. After awhile, I finally realised it was no good for me to just sit there, and started taking myself to bed early with a cup of cocoa and some paperwork to distract me. Not that I ever accomplished much, more often than not I fell asleep in the middle of it and would wake in the morning to a bed littered with books and papers.
Of course, things hadn't always been like this. I hadn't always been a single parent. No, just under two years ago I had had the perfect family life, the full package. A loving, kind and loyal husband, the children had had a loving, devoted daddy and between us a happy, though loud, home full of laughter. Sometimes it was hard to remember what it had been like before. And then other times, like tonight, the memories were hard to keep away.
"Ron!" I sighed in frustration, backing through the lounge doorway with my arms full of his clothes. "How many times have I asked you to…what in Merlin's name are you doing?" I shrieked, dropping the clothes in a heap and staring wide eyed at him.
I could hardly believe my eyes for a moment. There he was, lying on his back on the floor in the middle of the lounge, with our son, barely eight months old, levitating above him with magic. Ron was twiddling his wand, making the baby roll over and turn in mid-air. Rose sat on her daddy's knees watching – giggling and clapping in glee – obviously thinking this was the best game ever.
"Don't worry, he loves it! Look!" He grinned at me and flicked his wand as the baby did a somersault in the air. Hugo screamed with laughter, the smile of his face as wide as the Cheshire cat.
"Be careful with him!"I screamed, leaping over to pluck our son out of the air and hold him safely in my arms. "He's just a baby Ronald! How could you?" I glared at him, checking Hugo for signs of damage.
"Oh, come on Hermione, you worry too much. You could see he was having fun," he insisted, nodding his head towards the little boy who was reaching back for his daddy as Ron sat up. Mummy obviously wasn't half as much fun, I realised.
"'Ugo like it Mummy!" Rose stuck up for her daddy. "Don't you 'Uey?" She asked her baby brother.
The whole time I had been pregnant with our son, Ron and I had worried consistently over the probability of sibling rivalry. Rose, after all. had been our little Princess for the past two years and had all of our love and attention lavished on her. But, we needn't have wasted that time being worried. Apart from a few slight hiccups in the first few days as we adjusted to being parents to two children, which included her demanding she'd much rather have a baby kitten than a baby brother, she truly loved him. She was the perfect, protective, loving and kind big sister. Not to say she didn't have her moments, because she did, but they were few and far between.
"Ga Ga!" Hugo shrieked, his little hands opening and closing as he reached for daddy, squirming away from me.
"He's not a toy for your entertainment! He's our son." I pulled him back into my arms and kissed his downy soft head.
"Hermione, love, I'd never do anything to hurt him. You know that. He was quite safe, I promise. He was just a bit cranky and that makes him laugh."
"You mean you've done this before?" I asked, alarmed.
"Lots!" Rose let on, throwing her hands into the air. Ron pulled her onto his lap and tickled her whilst screwing his nose up at her in a playful menacing look for telling tales. Rose screamed with laughter and Hugo desperately wanted to join in with them.
"What if you dropped him or he fell, or…"
"I wouldn't let him. Don't be such a fusspot, love. He was perfectly fine. I'd never let anything bad happen to our kids. You know that." He picked Rose up and got to his feet. "But, I'm sorry I scared you," he pouted as he stood before me and kissed my forehead. "Forgive me?" he asked.
"Well, just…be careful with him," I muttered, giving in and handing the baby boy back to his dad who set Rose on her feet.
"I promise," he sealed it with another kiss to my lips. "Now, what did you come in here moaning about me for?" he raised one pale ginger eyebrow, almost hidden beneath a long fringe.
"Your dirty clothes. On the bathroom floor again. You could at least put them in the laundry basket, I've asked you a thousand times and…" my words were cut off as he leant in and kissed me softly, lovingly.
"You were saying?" he grinned when he backed off, setting Hugo carefully down on the sofa behind us.
"I…I…" I stammered, forgetting what I had been talking about. Damn him – he knew how to get to me every time and I always fell for it. Each kiss felt like the first – it seemed ridiculous to still get butterflies from kissing someone you'd been married to for five years and in a relationship with for an additional five years. But I did and he'd worked out a long time ago that that was the surest way of getting me to finish an argument.
"I'm sorry?" he raised his eyebrow again, making it sound like a question. "Can you forgive me, or do I need to make it up to you later?" he grinned and winked, pulling me closer to him and grasping my backside.
"Ron!" I gasped and glanced at the children – Rose had climbed up onto the sofa with her brother and was too busy showing him a picture book to be interested in what their parents were up to. We were lucky – they were too young to understand what we were talking about and too naïve to be embarrassed about it yet. "I…I think you'll have lots of making up to do," I eventually breathed. "Lots!" I whimpered as one hand slid down my side, grazing my breast.
"I look forward to it," he whispered and swooped in to claim my lips again. The kiss was a little deeper as his hands brought my body flush against his and my arms slipped around his neck, increasing the passion.
At least until we were interrupted by a tugging on our clothes. "Rosie kisses too!" demanded our two year old, somewhat precocious but adored, daughter.
"Okay,." Ron laughed. "Rosie Posie kisses too," and he swooped her up into our arms, smothering her face with silly, playful kisses as she giggled wildly and kissed us back. Picking Hugo up to join the group hug, we kissed him too amidst shrieks of uncontrollable laughter, until we all collapsed on the sofa, worn out from laughing too much. "I love you," Ron looked up at me over Rosie's red curls and leant over her to kiss my lips tenderly once more.
"I love you too," I smiled at him. "And tonight I look forward to your making up."
"I'm counting the minutes!" he laughed. "But, for now," he sat Rose down beside him and stood up, "I'll go start dinner, and put these in the laundry," he scooped the clothes from the floor and headed for the kitchen.
I hugged both our children to me, grinning widely and wondering what I'd ever done to be so lucky with my happy, loving little family.
But, of course, nothing lasts forever, not even good times. I just never imagined fate could be so cruel as to destroy our happiness after five too short years of a wonderful marriage and a happy family life. If only I'd known, I'd have married him years before, had children sooner But fate, it turns out, is a sadistic bitch and ripped my happy world out from under me just a few weeks later in one fell swoop.