Ron fought the urge to start pacing by
going over to sit next to Remus, who smiled at him with a rather knowing and
confiding look. Ron gave him an
exasperated grin and small shake of the head in return, knowing that Remus,
more than anyone else, sympathised with what he was feeling right now. Hermione is very like Katie; Remus
explained when I got married that it's an art form learning to balance a life
with such a clever and strong partner.
He was right; I didn't think that anything would change when we got
married, and that I already had a handle on my relationship with Hermione after
nine years. 'Wrong' seems too pathetic
a word even for that revelation. When you're married and living together,
storming off to sulk is not an option.
Ron nodded his head in Malcolm's direction,
the boy now up and moving again as he chatted with Houghton Adams. His energy level seems to have gone up
threefold in the past year…. Is that to be expected?
"Congratulations. Hope your study has recovered."
Remus laughed heartily and glanced over at
Malcolm with an adoring look before winking at Ron.
"All's well. Malcolm is just bursting now,
and wants to try all sorts of things.
We've had to come down rather firmly on him, of course, but now we spend
an hour every day doing very simple things, so he's managing to contain
"Remember when you first started doing
magic, Ron? Didn't you want to see what
you could really do every minute of every day?"
Ron thought about that, and then gave a
small laugh. "Actually, I did. But I needed to for defensive purposes. Mum and dad kept Fred and George off me
while I wasn't able to any magic to 'fight back', but once I could, well, you
Remus laughed again. "Good point. Hadn't thought of that.
Being an only child, I never had that particular issue to contend with. But thanks for pointing it out. Malcolm hasn't got round to teasing his
sisters just yet, but it's only a matter of time. We'll have to make it clear that it's not on to use an unfair
"I'll coach Roarke and Annie when the time
"Thank you. But don't let Katie catch you doing it," chuckled Remus.
Ron shook his head emphatically. "No. And don't rat me out to Hermione."
Remus gave him a softer look now. "Excited?"
"You'll do wonderfully. I see how you are with Malcolm. You're a natural."
"Thank you. Means a lot coming from another 'natural'."
"You think? I never considered myself one; I never expected to have a child,
so I never really thought about it."
"You were such a good teacher, Remus…."
Remus shook his head, but he still
smiled. "That's a different thing
altogether. Teaching is 'temporary'.
Being a parent is all day, everyday.
And it has much different responsibilities. You just wait. You thought your life changed drastically
when you got married? That was
nothing. Hermione is your equal, and
you've entered into a partnership with her.
Your son or daughter is a drastically different relationship, and your
life will change profoundly for it. But
it's worth every second, if I might say so."
"And every destroyed room?"
"And every single destroyed room. But try not to laugh when you should be
furious, as it undermines your position….Malcolm! Do come here!"
Ron looked back over at Malcolm who seemed
to be engaged in doing something with one of the programmes while Adams watched
him with an indulging smile. He stopped
instantly at the sound of Remus' voice, gave a rather guilty small smile, and
handed the programme back to Adams before dutifully coming over to take his
father's outstretched hand.
"He's showing he can flip the pages over
without touching the book," muttered Remus under his breath before Malcolm
reached him. "He knows I don't want him doing anything unsupervised and
certainly not out in public. No real
control just yet and who knows what he might do, however innocently?"
Ron shook his head and again felt a small
tinge of panic at the thought of what it was going to be like once he reached
this point. If keeping a constant
eye on Malcolm is an issue, imagine what it must be like with a more…rambunctious
child. I think I'll have a long talk
with dad…no, better talk with mum about it.
Malcolm climbed up onto Remus' lap and
Remus wrapped his arms around Malcolm rather firmly.
I know you're excited, Malcolm, but please when I ask you not to do
something, don't do it. And the same
rule applies for when mummy says not to do something. We're not trying to be unfair, we're just keeping you safe,
I love you."
"I love you, too."
Ron smiled and his panic receded
somewhat. He leaned back to glance past
Remus at Hermione, who seemed to have caught the exchange between Remus and
Malcolm as well, and when she saw Ron looking at her, gave him her own radiant
smile. Oh, I love that look. Same smile I first saw when I asked her to
marry me. Eventually….
Voldemort was dead. It was almost too much to believe at
first. It took several weeks after that
final terrible night for it to really sink in.
But after the evidence of the battle had been repaired, after the
Ministry had been rebuilt and the government fully functional again, and after
the lost were mourned, the fear had dissipated at last and joyfulness returned
to their lives.
Harry had arrived at the Burrow one day
shortly after breakfast smiling. Ron
looked at him closely and realized he hadn't seen Harry smile like this in a
long time. He was fully recovered
physically from what had happened, they all had, but he had been emotionally
dark and withdrawn still. Of course,
the fact that they had lost Pettigrew that night wasn't helping in the
slightest. Harry hadn't bounced back
like he usually did after that, and Ron was starting to worry about him. Now he looked more like his old self.
What are you doing today?"
"Well, as I start full-time with the
Cannons on Monday," he paused while they grinned at each other, "I thought I'd
use this last day of unemployed freedom to take Hermione on a picnic."
Harry gave him a rather dubious look.
"Ron, it's practically December; you'll
freeze. Not very romantic to be
sneezing and sniffling at each other, is it?"
"Harry, I think I can handle a few heating
spells. Sure it's chilly, but it's
Harry glanced out the window.
"Don't know, Ron, looks a little dodgy…."
"Oh shut up, Harry. I know what I'm doing."
Harry laughed and sat down across from him
at the table. "Hmm. Sounds like you're
concentrating more on just getting away somewhere private with Hermione."
"And if I am?"
"Enjoy yourselves. Any particular reason for the
Ron scowled at him. "Careful…."
"Oh for goodness sake, Ron. You dithered about for ages before finally
admitting you were in love with her, why dither now? You two are a sure thing.
Just ask her…."
"Stop right there. We've had this conversation. Yes, I've given it real thought. Yes, of course…. Of course I want to marry
her. But let me choose the right time
to ask. We've all just been through so
much; we need time."
"For what?" asked Harry, now looking a
little angry. "Why waste anything
you've got? Who knows how much time any of us have?"
Ron said nothing and just looked at
him. Harry sighed and put his head in
his hands for a moment before looking back up with an apologetic smile.
"Sorry, mate. Look, I didn't mean for that to sound harsh. I meant well, it just came out wrong. Marry Hermione. Do it sooner rather than later.
It means so much to me that you have each other… stop; that came out
wrong too. You two are my best friends,
and I am thrilled for you. And I can't
wait to see you get married. Why
wait? There's no point to waiting."
Ron nodded and reached for the picnic
basket he'd packed earlier.
"Harry, I promise. Sooner rather than later. I just want…I want the perfect moment to
Harry smiled, and then looked back out the
"Better get a move on before it rains,
then, or no chance for a perfect moment today."
"It is not going to rain and I have no
intentions of asking today. I'll ask
when I'm ready. When we're ready."
Ron and Hermione had had almost a perfect
day, but it did start to cloud up in the afternoon, so they packed up and
started walking back to the Burrow. They were about half way there, strolling
down a small tree-lined road in contented silence, when the skies opened up.
There was no quiet drizzle to warn
them. One moment it was chilly but
clear, the next they were soaked to the skin as rain pelted them. Startled, they dashed under one of the large
trees and stood close to the trunk, looking out at the rain with slightly
stunned expressions. Finally Hermione
gave a small laugh.
"What's so funny?"
That was a little sudden, that's all."
"Harry said it would rain, and I told him
not to be so pessimistic. I'll hear
about this, I promise you."
Hermione giggled and hugged him.
"It's just a little rain…."
"Little rain? Look at this! The road is already getting flooded!"
Indeed, puddles had already started to form
on the pavement and along the edge of the road. The ground was already wet and waterlogged from showers earlier
that week, and parts of the roadside threatened to turn into small ponds rather
"Come on, we'll just Apparate back the rest
of the way," said Ron, pulling one arm away from Hermione to reach for his
wand. But she stopped him and shook her
"It's not that far. We're already wet, so
let's just finish our walk. I want you
all to myself."
Ron kissed her for a few moments, then
pulled back to look at her. "While I'm
thrilled to the bone at that statement, I'm also getting soaked to the
bone, as are you. We really should…."
Hermione shook her head and pulled back and
walked out onto the road again, opening her arms and turning her face up to the
rain, her eyes closed. Ron watched her,
captivated at seeing the water run over her face, and across her still smiling
lips. After a while she lowered her
arms and turned back to face him with a smile.
This is wonderful!"
"Hermione, it's getting worse!"
"Ron, we so very nearly lost
everything. It's made me appreciate the
really simple things all that much more.
Something as simple as taking a walk in the rain through the
countryside. Right now, I can't think
of anything I'd rather do than that."
At that, Ron came over to join her, having
nothing else to say. He took her hand
and watched her for a few moments, then started to laugh.
"Who would ever have thought; bossy little
Granger, closet romantic, wanting to be one with the rain."
She laughed too. "Bossy little Granger
would have been outranged at the idea.
Grown up, wiser Granger knows a thing or two and can think of nothing
more romantic than strolling though a storm with her rather handsome and quite
wonderful boyfriend." This made them both laugh harder.
They stood there in the downpour, shaking
with laughter. Finally Hermione grabbed
at her soaked hair and pulled it back from her face, fastening it quickly with
a small band as she caught Ron's eye and gave him a radiant, but rather
mischievous smile. Ron felt his breath
catch at the sight, and returned her smile with a questioning look.
"You know what I loved to do when I was
Hermione guffawed at him and gave a little
jump. "I didn't spend all my
time reading, Ron. I also really loved
to do this!"
At that she jumped up and came down as
heavily as she could in the rather large puddle at his feet, soaking him
further and adding mud to the mix.
Giving a shout he jumped back, but she followed him, still jumping
through the water as hard as she could, laughing again. Right, two can play at this game….
Ron launched a counter attack, drawing a
shriek from Hermione who did retreat a bit, but kept up her vigorous
sloshing. They must have been yelling
and leaping about for several minutes before they finally reached the edge of
the road, and Ron's left foot sank heavily into the mud there as he misjudged a
Hold it! I'm stuck!"
Hermione did stop leaping about and came
over to offer him an arm to hold to steady himself as he pulled his foot
free. It came away from the mud with a 'shulck'
noise they could hear even over the sound of the rain pounding on the tress and
the pavement, making them both dissolve into giggles again.
Ron kept hold of Hermione's shoulder for
balance as he held his foot up to inspect the damage and tried to sound
indignant as he said, "look at what you've gone and made me do, woman!"
She would have none of it, but did lean in
closer to give him a very gentle kiss on the lips.
"Sorry," she whispered.
Ron stopped laughing and just gazed at her
face. She had changed so much from the
bossy little girl he'd met all those years ago. Hermione would never be considered a 'classic beauty', but she
was breathtaking in her own simple, no-nonsense fashion. And she looked stunning to him even standing
here, wet to the bone, hair a wild mess from the wet and the leaping
about. Ron looked at her intently,
watching her warm brown eyes and the slight smile on her face. She said nothing else, but seemed content
just to stand here with him in this ridiculous rainstorm.
Harry's right…this is forever. So why wait? Time isn't to be wasted; we won, but who knows when the next
lunatic will rise up? I want this. I want her. I want that life, and I'm not going to waste one more second….
"Hermione," he said softly, lowering his
leg back to the ground so he could turn to face her and grasp her lightly by
"I…well, I was going to do this properly
one day. But, well, I guess I forgot
something in all my scheming. I was
thinking so much about how to do this, I forgot why I wanted to…." He trailed off a bit as she shook her head
You're not making any sense, Ron."
"Well, that's to be expected," he said with
a faint laugh, then smiled at her.
"I'll try again. Marry me."
Hermione's face took on a very unfamiliar
look of shock and total surprise. Ron
panicked for a moment, and rushed on.
"I'd wanted to do this the right way, you
know? Flowers, dinner…maybe when we
were a little older…." He
grinned, now feeling a determined calm come over him. "But what I was trying to
say, rather poorly just now, was that I was wasting time trying to think of
something 'perfect' that others thought up. This is all about you and me.
I love you. And right now, this
just seems…a perfect time for us.
Does that make sense?"
She nodded mutely, but still said nothing.
Ron waited a few moments, watching her and just waiting to see what she'd
say. The rain continued to pour over
them, and the sky had started to get darker, but he felt, probably for the
first time in his life, completely calm.
Eventually she gave him a very shaky smile.
"It is perfect," she whispered.
"This is forever, Hermione. I
know that. I've known it for a long
time, despite my original reticence and rather pig-headed determination to
"Well, I could have…."
Ron put a finger to her lips. "No, I didn't
make it easy for either of us, it wasn't you. I wasted some of our time, but I
don't want to waste another second."
Hermione flung her arms around his
shoulders and buried her face against his neck.
"Forever," he felt her whisper against his
"Is that a yes?"
"I love you, Ron," she said, pulling back
and finally giving him a huge, happy and very solid smile.
Ron just nodded, now feeling tears in his
"BRILLIANT DODGE BY BELL!"
Ron gripped the arms of his seat and leaned
forward, feeling himself rise out of the chair slightly as he watched Katie
Bell execute a very tight and perfect loop and spiral around the Bludger, only
to catch the Quaffle she'd dropped at the bottom of her curve before shooting
almost straight up back to the playing field and throwing the ball at Bryson
with an artistic accuracy.
"Bryson takes the Quaffle picking up speed,
moves past Sacks and Stewart, and makes for the goal!"
After an hour and a half of play, the
Chudley Cannons and the Ballycastle Bats were tied, 40-40. Ron knew it would be a long day, as the Bats
were currently number one and were as determined to hang onto the title as the
Cannons were to take it from them. The
Snitch had been spotted twice, but the first time only the crowd had seen it
and startled it away with their roar, and the second time the Cannon's Seeker,
Cassie McLeod, had been prevented from capturing it at the last second when
both Bats Bludgers had managed to come at her from below.
"O'Keefe stands for the Bats. Arguably one of the best Keepers the Bats
have had in recent years, but no match for Bryson! He makes the pass and … SCORES! And with that, Carthusius Bryson
makes it 50-40, Cannons, and breaks a long-standing League scoring record!"
Ron just sat back and slumped a bit in his
chair at the announcement, running his hands through his hair. It was already a given that Carthusius was
going to break the record today, and despite practically everyone else in the
stadium standing to give him an ovation as he took a quick lap about the pitch,
waving and grinning, Ron stayed seated, trying to figure out what the next
feint was likely to be. He did wave,
however, when Bryson swooped up to the box to shake Adams' hand for a second.
One record down, one to go. What would make the Cannons' victory today even more exciting was
the fact that if they did win, they would become the first team in the history
of the English League to climb from last to first such a short timeframe. And that was what they were all really
focused on, as they figured they were due for something.
Bryson turned to sail back to the centre of
the pitch in line with Katie Bell and Betty Keddle, as the whistle sounded and
the Chasers set off again. Rockailadie
' Ranting Rocky' Gillander, the Cannons' rather enthusiastic announcer, took up
her commentary on the game. And I
thought Lee Jordan was dramatic….
"And they're off again! Isabeau Bellchere of the Bats takes early
possession of the Quaffle from the toss, moving over the other players. Here comes our own brilliant Sarson Caston,
sending a Bludger directly into her line of flight. Bellchere gets the Quaffle off over her left shoulder, blindly,
where it is expertly picked up by her team mate Williams as he comes from below
and moves back to the centre, taking stock of the field, trying to get a line
on those Bludgers! But he's wasting
time and Elk is there to prove it!
Williams takes an incredible shot to the chest, seeming to never see our
Bludgers coming at him! YOU'LL HAVE TO
DO BETTER THAN THAT, OLD MAN, TO BEAT THE CANNONS!"
Blake Williams was practically thrown off
his broom as the Bludger caught him square in the chest. He dropped the Quaffle, but was prevented
from falling to the ground by the Bats' Seeker, Magnus Derickson, racing up and
throwing an arm around him, pushing Williams forward onto his broom as
Derickson came to a dead stop from a full run at his side. The Cannons' Chasers took advantage of the
momentary distraction to take possession of the Quaffle again, but the Bats'
Bludgers were right there, stalking Katie Bell and Betty Keddle closely.
"The Cannon's newest Chaser, Keddle, pulls
the Quaffle close and shots down the field…STRAIGHT AT STEWART! Here's how you see what a Bludger is made
of! Stewart's holding, and Sacks is
protecting his position against our own Bludgers as they get the ball towards
the Bats' end of the field."
Ron watched the team starting to cluster
behind Keddle, wondering what was up, when he caught McLeod give the slightest
glance at the ground near the Bats' goal.
Feint; here they come.
The Cannons' seeker broke out at that instant, Caston right on her tail,
and pulled left and down.
"The Seeker moves out, a Bludger right
there with her. The Bats' don't seem to
be taking the bait, however…."
Indeed, Magnus Derickson yelled something
and the Bats kept their focus on the Cannons' Chasers instead. This finally forced Betty Keddle to roll to
the right to avoid colliding with Blake.
Unfortunately, Elk came 'round her too quickly and ran into Sallie
More. The whistle sounded, and the
referees signalled a deliberate foul.
The announcer seemed to explode.
"ELK CALLED FOR BLATCHING?! RUBBISH! WHERE DO WE GET THESE REFEREES
FROM, MUGGLE SCHOOLS FOR THE BLIND?"
The crowd seemed to agree, and booed with a
particular vehemence as the referee handed the Quaffle to Isabeau Bellchere and
sent her to face Oric Willmersham at the Cannon's goal for the penalty. The booing flowed seamlessly into a roar of
triumph as Willmersham blocked the shot, and the players barely heard the Bats'
captain call a time out.
Hermione seemed to agree with Ranting
"What a ridiculous call! Elk just misjudged; Keddle was the one
trying to knock Blake into next week, for goodness sake! Blatching indeed!"
"What's 'Blatching', Hermione?" asked
Malcolm, turning to her.
"It's very bad sportsmanship,
Malcolm, and I never want to hear you've done it. It's when you fly deliberately into someone trying to knock them
off their broom."
Malcolm raised an eyebrow. "Sounds a bit Slytherin, to me," he said,
calmly. Sirius, Remus and Ron all
guffawed and Sirius leaned across Hermione to shake Malcolm's hand.
"That's my future lion," he smiled. Malcolm shook his hand with a proud smile,
and then looked back to Hermione.
"Draco didn't ever do that, did he?"
Ron caught Hermione's eye. Malcolm was fond of Draco, no
questions. Of course, he's very fond
of a Draco that has nothing to do with the Draco who did more than his fair
share of Blatching.
Hermione smiled. "I can't really remember if he did, Malcolm," she said. As Malcolm turned away from her to look back
at the pitch, Hermione gave Remus a rather nervous look. Obviously we're both thinking the same
thing. That was, basically, a lie.
Remus only nodded at her slightly and gave
a small shrug. Then Ron heard him
whisper "Rule one, day one of being a parent; some things are best not
Hermione nodded, but her face got a faraway
look as she looked at Malcolm for a moment, and then shifted her gaze to a
point somewhere near the top left corner of the front of the box. Ron had become familiar with this look over
the past seven months, and it betrayed a side to Hermione he had been startled
to find. She worried a lot about 'doing
this right'. Not like she used to
obsess about getting a potion or a homework assignment right, but about the
entire idea of parenting as a whole. It
surprised Ron to find this side to his wife.
It wasn't an insecurity, really, but just, well, something she would
spend a lot of time thinking about. And
to Ron's slight annoyance, no amount of assurances on his part, for he felt no
such doubts, didn't do anything to put a stop to it. He had finally complained to his father about it, but Mr. Weasley
just smiled at him.
"Ron, son, think about everything we've
all just lived through. Your mother
always became very sentimental and rather worried herself near the end of each
pregnancy. Because all we ever wanted
for you and your brothers and sister was for you to be safe and happy. And sometimes, no matter what you do, you
just can't assure that. I think that's
what's bothering Hermione. It's not you,
and it's not her. I know neither of you
doubt for a moment that you'll be wonderful parents, and I certainly have no
doubts. But then there's the rest of
the world, and sometimes you just can't stop it from hurting the things you
love the most. Does that make any
I get the point; thanks."
Ron thought of going over to Adams to
discuss something with him and take his mind off of worrying for Hermione, but
saw that in fact he was deep in conversation with Harry, so decided not to
interrupt. Houghton Adams had played
with James Potter, and Harry loved to hear Adams regale him with near
play-by-play accounts of every game they ever played together for Gryffindor. The
man's memory for detail is astounding; but then, since it would seem most of
his energy is involved in Quidditch strategy, I really shouldn't be surprised
he can recall every plan and every response. And Adams was also, in all
likelihood, trying to convince Harry once more to give up the 'wretched Aurour
business' and play Quidditch. Adams had
practically wept the one and only time he saw Harry play when he had agreed to
play a practice round with the team, and considered Harry's firm refusal to go
professional a tragedy of epic proportions.
But since Harry had moved, that left the
seat on the other side of Hermione free, so he did stand up now, giving Malcolm
a pat on the shoulder as he did, which earned him a brilliant smile, and sat
down quickly next to his wife, wrapping one arm around her shoulders and
leaning over to give her a small kiss on the cheek. She giggled a bit, and flushed a little, but did shift to lean
against him slightly. Ron had to laugh
quietly at that, giving her another small kiss. He and Hermione tended to be very affectionate on their own, but
had never been very comfortable 'showing off' in front of others, which earned
them no small amount of teasing. Ron
had actually grumbled to Harry just the previous week that it just seemed wrong
to do that in front of others, as what he and Hermione felt for each other was
nobody else's business. Harry had just
"You should follow Remus and Katie's
example. They are very affectionate,
and don't give a toss about it. I've
actually seem them go entire days without speaking much, but they always clasp
hands or give each other a kiss when they walk past each other as they go about
their own business. Actually, it's oddly comforting to see. Always made me feel, well, safe. Even when everything was anything but."
Ron shrugged. "Yeah, but it seems appropriate for them. And it's not anything, well, silly, is it?"
Harry laughed now. "You haven't lived in that house. They can be very 'silly' indeed. You'll have
to hear the sonnet Remus wrote entitled "Ode to My Beloved's Enormous Rondundity",
which he delivered after dinner one night on bended knee while clasping Katie's
hand to his heart."
"Not at all. It was touching actually; although it took him ages to get
through it as Sirius, Liz, Katie and I all kept screaming with laughter and
forcing him to pause. But I never heard
Katie grumble ever again about 'bloody baby blubber'."
"I'm not even going there. Hermione gets a little…teary…sometimes
looking at herself. I told her she was even more beautiful, which was true as
far as I was concerned, but it only set her off an a crying jag and accusing me
of being condescending."
"Well I could have told you not
to do that. You should vet all
your comments through your dad or George, or Remus, you know. Get the voice of experience in these
Ron gave a hollow laugh. "Too right. Especially when trying to not
answer gets you in more trouble than answering. It's like living with an
augurey some days, I swear, and just waiting for it to transmutate into a jarvey.
How's Liz taking all of this?"
"Completely in stride and with hardly a
raised hair. But that's Liz for you. Sirius is the moaner and keeper of
unnecessary worries in that house."
I don't seem to be able to get an image of Liz standing in front of the
mirror wailing like Myrtle about her hips.
Course, up until a few months ago I wouldn't have pegged Hermione to do
"Oh Ron, it'll pass."
"Hermione says her reactions were all
'hormonal', whatever that means."
"You're not reading anything she gave you,
Hermione gave a small sigh and actually
snuggled a little closer to Ron, now taking hold of his hand draped over her
left shoulder and giving it a small squeeze.
She smiled. "Everything wonderful, heart.
What a game! This could go on
for a while."
Ron nodded and squeezed her hand in
return. "True. But you stick to our deal, promise?"
"I promise. I really do feel fine.
Ron laughed at her. 'Thick' as a description for her feelings
had come up when she first told him she was pregnant. Within two weeks of the announcement none of her clothes felt
right, and she trudged down to Diagon Alley to have them let out by Madame
Malkin. She and Ginny came home two hours after they were expected, loaded down
with bags. Both Harry and Ron had
"What is all that?"
Ginny glared at her brother and motioned
for Hermione to stay silent as she rounded on Ron.
"New robes. And a few t-shirts and other Muggle things that will make
Hermione comfortable. She's pregnant,
"Yes, Ginny, I know that. But you can't even tell yet!"
"I can," said Hermione, dropping onto the
couch next to Harry, who gave her a sympathetic hug and mock-glared at
Ron. Ron wasn't having it, but opted
for the high road, considering last night's tear-fest.
Ginny laughed and pulled a pair of
soft-looking trousers out of a blue bag.
"We've been to 'Marks and Spencers'; dad should have joined us. I think he would have been thrilled."
Harry smiled at Hermione. "Marks & Sparks?"
"Even the Queen gets her undies there,
Harry," she deadpanned before getting up and wandering out of the room moaning
over feeling 'thick'.
Ron came back to the game as he realized
the crowd had taken advantage of the pause in the game to start singing the
Cannon's theme song. The tune was
impossible, but everyone seemed very enthusiastic about making it through. He closed his eyes and listened to the off-key
warbling echoing through the arena.
Hermione seemed to be humming, but as always refused to actually try and
Sirius and Harry sung along with Adams in
grave tones, their faces showing a pinkish tinge from the Butterbeer they had
been consuming and their eyes twinkling with glee. Remus simply tapped his leg in time with the beat, ginning at
Malcolm who laughed as his father jostled him around while still keeping a firm
hold of him. Once they finished, the
Bats' supporters tried to reciprocate with a loud rendition of their own 'Bite
their Toes; Barney, Bite their Toes', but it was lost between the drowning
cries of the Cannons' supporters and the fact that their side was divided
between getting the song right and also offering up the alternate (and frowned
upon) version of the song, 'Bite their Bums, Barney; Bite their Bums'.
Malcolm, thankfully, seemed to miss out on
the intent of the more daring Ballycastle supporters and looked over at
Hermione again, reaching over to tap her arm.
"What were they singing, Hermione?"
"The Cannon's motto, sweetie." Ron grinned
into her hair. Hermione was not one for
pet names, but he did notice that after she had become pregnant she had
suddenly started addressing Malcolm, on rare occasion, by Katie's also rarely
used but heartfelt 'sweetie'. Remus
told Ron that the metamorphosis had begun. 'Mummydom', he said with a grin,
"Let's Just Keep Our Fingers Crossed And
Hope For the Best," Hermione told him, with a smile. Malcolm gave her a rather dubious look.
"What sort of a motto is that?"
Ron didn't feel like explaining to Malcolm
that it was the result of one of Hougton Adams' now infamous
well-meant-but-poorly-executed comments to the press, shortly after he had
purchased the team. The Wizarding
community had dubbed it the 'unofficial' motto for about three years after that
day before Adams, always good-humoured and not one to let anybody think he
wasn't a good sport, made it official and started having it printed on the
team's programmes and other items. Ron
remembered when he was little and that had happened. At the time he thought it was just daft. Now, having worked with Adams for two years
and forming a pretty good idea of how the man worked, he understood that it was,
in fact, a rather brilliant marketing move.
Everyone wanted to be part of the joke, and even though the team
was a disaster, it still made money thanks to very vigorous merchandizing
sales. Adams only appeared to be hapless. He was, at the end of the day, anything but.
At that instant Malcolm let out a shriek of
excitement and clapped his hands, and the glass of Butterbeer Remus had
carefully balanced on the back of the arm rest seemed to explode, soaking
I think play has resumed…."
"The Bats have decided to come back and
face their inevitable defeat," cried Rocky, collecting a huge roar at the
comment. After a moment she resumed her
(reasonably unbiased) play by play.
"Sallie More, formerly all-England,
takes the Quaffle and dives right, swerving around the Bludger aimed by Sarson
Caston. Bob Sacks catches up with it,
and sends it over to Derusius Stewart on the sides. Obviously the Bats are up to something…."
Ron watched as Sacks and Stewart brought
the Bludger over to the left of the pitch and hovered for a few moments,
hitting the ball between them casually as they watched the Quaffle move between
the Bats' Chasers for a while, heading towards the Cannon's goal.
Malcolm managed to leap up and run to the
front of the box to get a closer look at the players as they hovered for a
moment, only a few feet from the edge of the stands. He gaped at them with obvious awe, and Ron could have sworn he
saw Bob Sacks give him a wink before she and Stewart shot off to the centre of
the pitch again. Malcolm ran back to
Remus at full speed and launched himself at his father, landing heavily on his
lap, forcing Remus to give a grunt as he tired to contain Malcolm's excited
squirming as he turned back to the pitch.
"Did you see that daddy? Did you?"
"Yes, my little marauder, I did
indeed. They were trying to give their
team time by keeping the Bludger occupied, you see? The Bludger doesn't like staying in one area for too long, so
they had to move. It's an offensive tactic, even if it looks defensive. The Bludger is ready to get back in the
Malcolm seemed to be glowing, his attention
entirely focused on the pitch, even as he gripped Remus' arms tightly.
"Oh, daddy, may I play Quidditch?"
"When you're a little bigger, son,"
Malcolm just nodded absently, bouncing
excitedly on Remus' legs.
"Don't mention it," said Remus, smiling and
giving Malcolm a small pat on the head, even as he pulled him closer to his
chest so he could see around him.
Malcolm didn't take to this, however, and wriggled free to stand up and
run around Hermione and Ron to Sirius. Sirius gladly let Malcolm stand in front
of him, resting his arms on Sirius' knees, as Sirius tousled his hair and said
something to Harry, who laughed. Ron
saw Malcolm shoot Sirius a quick grin before he turned his attention back to
Remus gave Ron a sideways glance, and
smiled at something.
"What are you thinking?"
Ron laughed. "Well….I was thinking about how, um, energetic, Malcolm
has become. Not that he wasn't…."
Remus gave a small nod and Ron
stopped. "He'll be six this October,
you know. Gods, when did that
happen? Well, anyway, yes. He has definitely started being
more…independent. It happens, and it
will happen with you and your child. At
this age they are starting to really form their own ideas and make their own
"Malcolm was making his own decisions at
two, Remus," Hermione pointed out very matter of factly.
Remus chuckled. "After a fashion, yes. Be