written for 'the great school bake off' on the golden snitch (i just joined the forum; thanks to dee for the suggestion!) keep in mind this is colonial america so some mindsets displayed here are not necessarily ones i agree with. also i have no idea about pies or if they even had them back then, so if the pie part is trashy, bear with me.

school: hogwarts

house: slytherin

prompts:

Mint Chocolate Chip Cake:

1. Chocolate cake (AU: Salem Witch Trials!au)

2. Mint frosting: (Action: preparing a meal)

3. Mini chocolate chips (Color: peach)

points: 5

. . .

It is an entirely unreasonable allegation.

"Red hair! She's a witch!" that foul cow Pansy Parkinson had screamed at Hermione's best friend. "I swear, she practices the art, she's bewitching young men! How else do they fall for her so?"

Her charm, Hermione had answered mentally. But she knew better than to provoke Parkinson. She was influential, and so was her family, and they stuck to the rigid church principles of Puritan society — Ginny Weasley was too independent for their tastes, Ginny was too talented for their tastes, and so Pansy had sought the easy way out: witchcraft accusation.

Hermione doesn't believe anyone who'd been hanged already was a witch. Just the day before, a perfectly fine young woman who was a bit too giggly for the tastes of Gregory Goyle — Lavender Brown — had been accused and convicted of witchcraft. Anyone in their right mind knew Lavender had not been a witch or actively seeking out the Devil. Even if she had been a witch, she would definitely have been an incompetent one.

But Ginny is condemned. Either way, if she is acquitted or convicted, Ginny's reputation will be in tatters. Ginny will be in tatters by the time they're done with her. The court will check for birthmarks, marks of the Devil, they're said to be — Hermione thinks the judges (coincidentally all male) use this excuse for some free pleasure. The court will torture. The court will do all sorts of things to her until she gives up and confesses if only to be put to death.

See, everyone knows Ginny is not a witch, but no one wants to risk their own lives for her, either.

See, everyone knows Ginny is not a witch, but the court will brand her one, anyway.

. . .

Ginny's brother Ron comes to visit Hermione's home, a week later. Her parents shoot her mournful glances and leave them to their own devices.

"How's Ginny?" asks Hermione in worry.

"I don't know," he replies, more worried. "I think they've already checked for the birthmarks, 'dunno if they found her innocent."

"But they haven't done a trial yet," Hermione points out. "They must've found her innocent, then, and they're trying to find some test of inevitable failure so she can die!" she exclaims angrily.

Ron sneers. "Inevitable failure. Of course. They'll use the one with the rocks where they throw you into the river. Doesn't matter if you're a witch or not, you're dead anyway. Great way for the powerful ones to get rid of the ones they don't like."

Hermione nods, and says, "If they do use that on her...family members can watch. That one she's sure to pass, obviously — if they're tying a rock to you you're bound to sink — but you have a large family, you can work together to pull her out."

"What does that matter? If they suspect her of witchcraft, who'll marry her?"

"Your mate, Harry. He's absolutely smitten with her, d'you see his face when she walks by?"

"Wait, what?"

"...You didn't realize...?" wonders Hermione. "Of course you didn't..."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Ron says, drawing himself up higher. Hermione would counter him, but that might spawn unsavory accusations from unsavory people. Women have no rights here, and even if she doesn't like it, Hermione must submit to the man. It is the order in which society runs — terrible authority, but authority.

"Nothing," Hermione says, turning away. She pauses for a moment, then asks, "How would you like some peach pie?"

. . .

He doesn't want the peach pie, it turns out — "Some broth, maybe? It doesn't feel right...eating pies while my sister's rotting...don't know if she's even eating..."

Hermione takes the pot off the heat, and stirs the liquid inside. She adds a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper into the mixture. She stirs some more. Hermione grabs a bowl and a spoon; she pours the broth into the bowl and drops the spoon into the broth-filled bowl.

"Eat while it's warm," says Hermione. "It helps."

. . .

Ginny ends up having to take the water-rock test. Obviously, she sinks — which is a mark of humanity.

The Weasley family has brought a long coil of rope. No one knows where they got it from, considering they're not the most rich, but no one questions. The Weasleys would do anything for family.

"Might we tie it on her?" Mrs. Weasley requests, tears streaking her face.

The tester nods tersely.

Ginny is dumped unceremoniously into the river; its banks swish and rush with water, with life; Ginny is sinking, sinking, and the Weasleys are pulling, pulling, and Harry Potter, Ron's best friend, has joined in, too; at some point, Hermione latches onto the rope and pulls, she pulls for her best friend.

By some twist of fate or heaven, Ginny manages to get out. She gasps for air on the river's bank, sopping wet, but alive, oh, so alive.

"Ginny!" shrieks Hermione. She pulls the shorter red-head into a hug. Ginny sucks in a breath, and Hermione's clothes are getting damp and unladylike, but Hermione doesn't care; she's got her best friend with her. Hermione realizes Ginny's crying on her shoulder, and that she's crying too.

"Thank the Lord," Hermione breathes, "thank the Lord you're okay, and thank the Lord you're not a witch, either!"

The Weasley family crowds around their daughter, and the Parkinson family stands to the side looking sour. The others residing in the small town of Salem in the Massachusetts Bay colony have expressions of relief plastered on their faces.

"She's a good girl, that Ginevra," says Dean Thomas.

"Yeah. She is," Hermione agrees.

. . .

"Would you like some pie?" asks Ron one day, knocking at her door. Hermione's mother looks at her slyly, and Hermione's father looks at Ron approvingly. "Courtesy of my mother, for everything you've done for Ginny," Ron adds.

"Thank you, darling," Hermione's mother smiles, and Ron smiles back, returning to the old, long house over the way.

Hermione eats a bit of the pie that day. It's good pie, peach pie — the color as vibrant as its name.

. . .

Harry and Ginny get married. Ron and Hermione do, too, a few years later.

After the Trials, a sadness washes over Salem. Some of the girls who'd started it all apologize.

That doesn't change the graves, but it makes it a little better.

. . .

The thing about the Trials is that they were eternal. They might be over with now, but they remain in the hearts of the townspeople. Those deaths were eternal and they stay in those graves and the hearts of the townspeople.

Those who survived their trials look hardened now. They're less trusting. They abide to all the rules. They go to church.

"Praise the Lord," they say reverently each day. "Praise the Lord."

The thing about Death, see, is that it's eternal. But those who survived didn't want that eternity; some people intend to be limited for as much as they can, and burn bright and long. Everyone will die someday, but the survivors are the ones who stayed the longest and the graves of the survivors were the graves people visited, later, when they wanted to remember.