On The Beach
Beta'ed by Sandy
Somewhere there is an azure sky devoid of contrails. Clouds of the fluffiest white cotton wool populate it like sheep all the way down to the deep blue horizon. An ocean, rarely sailed upon, boils silently under the eternally shifting gaze of the sun. An island, invisible to all but a few, a retreat covered in palm trees. The touch of man only visible from the ground, in a smattering of stilt houses and thatch gazebos.
"Grandpa Den, can you show me magic?"
Dennis Granger, relaxing in his deck check, feigned sleep. The child, like her mother, was nothing if not persistent.
"Grandpa Den!" small hands found his knee, trying to shake him.
Dennis opened one eye, and waggled his eyebrow. "Grandpa Den is sleeping right now. If you would care to leave a mes…."
The little girl put her hands on her hips tutting in exasperation. "Grandpa Den, you're not fooling me!"
Dennis chuckled wryly. The ploy had once worked on her brother.
Arial was the splitting image of her mother, down to the soft brown eyes, and the bushiness of her hair. The texture came from him, he knew. The same reason he had worn his in a stiff crewcut for most of his life. The vibrant colour, however, was attributable to genes of the man next to him. None of his grandchildren had been spared the red locks.
"Your mum will scold me."
"It's not for me!" said Arial. "It's for Grandpa Arthur; he's got to learn how to do it."
Grandpa Arthur watched as Dennis wove a subtle distraction with one hand, while the nimble fingers that had built a successful London dentistry practice, fetched a chocolate Galleon from a conveniently located bag.
With a flourish, the Galleon appeared before the little witch's eyes.
"Did you see that Grandpa Arthur? Were you watching?"
"I was watching," he said.
"You do it now."
Arthur clicked his fingers, causing the charmed Galleon to appear in his hand.
"No, no, no," the little witch sighed. "That was still too loud. You've got to watch Grandpa Den." She shook her head. "You'll never do real magic unless you pay attention."
"Extraordinarily sensitive," said Arthur. "None of the others can tell the difference."
Dennis chuckled. "At her age, Hermione had figured out where I was hiding the coins."
"Cultural differences," said Arthur. "I often see it in muggleborns, despite their own magic, they look for
Muggle explanations first or opt for muggle solutions. Arial accepts magic as part of her reality, so she looks for magical solutions. She's disappointed in me because she can sense the magic I use, whereas your sleight of hand would never occur to her."
"I'm sure she'll figure it out, but until then I'll enjoy my moment in the sun."
"What moment's that Dad?"
Arthur's daughter-in-law, Arial's mother, her hair the same colour as Dennis Granger's once was, now cut into a sharp bob (much to her husband's dismay), had arrived with some drinks for them.
"Arial, she thinks I'm a better wizard than Arthur; for the time being anyway. Thank you, darling," said Dennis, accepting the glass.
"Now, you see, an excellent example of what I was talking about. Thank you, Luv. Hermione could have levitated the drinks down to us, Ginny would have, but she chose to bring them down personally. Typical Muggleborn behavior…."
Arthur's voice was lost in the crash of the ocean and the shuffle of the trees, as Hermione made her way back to the holiday house. They were so different she thought, a wizard lawmaker and the muggle dentist, yet they persistently found common ground in their children and grandchildren. Hermione smiled to herself as she thought of Arial building up a substantial stockpile of Galleons at her grandfathers' expense.
Another conversation drifted toward her on the breeze.
"Now you see Sylvia, this recipe unfortunately requires a spell to make it work. You see, I have to leave the mixture beating by itself while I get on with other things."
"Why a spell Molly, couldn't an electric beater do the trick?"
"An electric beater? Is that what they're used for? I always thought it had something to do with Muggle Quidditch?"
Hermione chuckled; merging Muggle and Wizarding households together, if only for a holiday, was always going to be a challenge.
A mini stampede attracted her attention and she grabbed two young boys as they rushed passed, body boards in hand.
"Have you got sunscreen?"
"Mum performed a charm," said James Potter twisting in her grip. "Yeah, Mum, Aunt Ginny 'zapped' us," added her son Arthur Dennis.
The Cousins were closer than brothers and despite being the children of the youngest Weasley siblings; they were ironically the eldest of their generation. They had been conceived on the same night, a night of joyous celebration, one that Hermione remembered fondly.
"Off you go then."
James and Arty raced off; passing their grandfathers, they threw a 'Hey Gramps' into the air. A few meters further along the beach, they stopped. Each boy screwed his eyes shut and concentrated; first Arty and then James brandished a chocolate they had managed to liberate with their juvenile magic.
Then their attention was drawn to the sky. "Looks like Aunt Gina's giving your Dad a hard time."
At the other end of the beach, near the point, their aunt, Angelina Weasley, was trying to get the quaffle past the man the press had dubbed, 'The Weasley Wall.'
It mattered not a wit that this was a family holiday, that this was supposed to be a friendly beach game. Ron Weasley had been a scared insecure boy when she had selected him to play for the Gryffindor house team, and now he was England's keeper. Despite leading the Harpies to their second league title, Angelina had again been overlooked for a place on the national squad, and Ron was going to suffer.
With an unladylike grunt, she released the quaffle. As it sailed passed Ron's outstretched fingers through the hoop, he wheeled on his broomstick to give a grin and salute.
In all fairness, it wasn't Ron's fault. He had loudly advocated for her inclusion in the team until Oliver Wood had advised him he was doing her cause more harm than good.
Ron waved Angelina down and they relinquished the pitch to the amateurs who had been patiently enjoying the international level display. There weren't a lot of people on this magical holiday island, and he and Angelina had signed autographs for just about everyone after their first impromptu practice. Still, the youngsters like to talk to their heroes, and a few moments on the beach would secure them privacy with the family later on.
"Did you let that last quaffle in 'cause she's a girl?" asked a small witch cradling a toy broomstick.
"I didn't let any quaffles in," Ron replied. "Gina got them past me." Ron dropped to his haunches to look the child in the eye. "Do you want to be a chaser?"
"Yes, but my brother says girls can't be chasers."
"Well, you tell your brother that I said girls make great chasers."
The girl's face lit up, and she mounted her toy broom with a purpose. "PERCY! Ron Weasley says I can so be a chaser!"
"I think you have a new fan," said Angelina. She clapped him on shoulder. "I appreciate the vote of confidence."
"Take it easier next time?"
"Merlin, No! I'm getting you fired up for the Hungarians."
"Maybe you'll be on the team by then."
"Mum, Mum, did you kick Uncle Ron's butt?"
Angelina cuddled her young son close to her. "Eduard. Who told you I was going to do that?"
"Daddy. He also said you should never have let Uncle Ron onto the Gryffindor team."
"You go tell Daddy that when he, Uncle George, and Uncle Harry got banned it was Uncle Ron who won Gryffindor the cup."
The boy raced back to where his Father, Uncle and Aunt were sitting. The fact of the matter was that Eduard adored his Uncle Ron, a man who always seemed to have a lot of time for his nieces and nephews. It vaguely worried the young wizard that his father and Uncle George had a habit of mocking their younger brother. There was enough of his father in him to try and even the playing field by devious methods.
"Mum says people who are too podgy to play should keep their comments to themselves."
Fred grinned at his son's audacity, and turned to George's wife, Sandy. "You should never have taught them to play Broken Fellytone, our lot just became saboteurs."
Sandy grinned back at him. She still found it hard to believe that her husband had a twin. She had been introduced to George as a patient, a sad victim of a terrorist bombing, an amnesiac who barely remembered his own name. As a physiotherapist she had helped to repair his body, all the while struggling to release the memories hidden behind his striking blue eyes. As a woman she had fallen in love.
He had, for lack of any other, taken her name when they got married, and soon she had found herself pregnant with their first child.
It was shortly before the birth of her daughter, Charlize, that George had insisted on accompanying her to that fateful dental appointment, and her life had changed forever.
In all honesty, she had laughed when she first heard his name, Weasley. But now, she wore it proudly as did her second daughter, Anna-Lee, and as would the third on her way.
As she watched Ron straddle his broom and kick off again, her sister-in-law, Angelina, sank down onto the blanket next to her.
"You guys make it seem so easy," Sandy said, pointing down to the pitch where an amateur keeper had almost fallen off his broom and still failed to keep out the quaffle.
"It's bloody hard work I can tell you," replied Angelina. "If Ron and I don't keep at it…" she gestured to Fred, who made a great show of pulling in his stomach. "The only natural I ever met was Harry. Right, Fred?"
"Yeah," her husband replied. "If he could only stay out of the infirmary."
"But Harry doesn't fly." Sandy had never once seen Harry on a broomstick. Even Hermione went up once in a while, if Ron cajoled her into going with him, but Harry's feet never left the ground, even to the extent that he went fishing while the others played.
"He was injured in the battle of London, a hex that only affected his broom balance. Hermione's been trying to figure it out for years."
A loud whoop caused them to turn around. Ron had appeared over a sand dune carrying a fishing rod and tackle box. "Look at him go guys, look at him go!"
Their eyes followed his outstretched finger to a flyer that had just started a familiar aerobatics sequence referred to by International Quiddich players as 'The Burn.'
Sandy had seen Ron and Angelina take to the sky together often to practice it. Endless repetition had given them the illusion of grace; a grace that this flyer was so effortlessly emulating.
"That, ladies and gentlemen, is the youngest Gryffindor seeker in a century," shouted Ron.
"Is that Harry?" Sandy asked.
"Oh, yes," said Angelina. "Only Potter was ever that good, that effortlessly."
"Hermione finally figured out the counter-curse, my job to get him on a broom," Ron said proudly.
Harry had pointed the broom into the sky, and Sandy gasped as it stalled and he began to tumble.
Next to her Ron chuckled. "Show Off! 'Mione always hated it when he did that."
Harry howled into the air. He knew no one could hear him, he could barely hear himself above the buffeting sea breeze. Tumbling head over heels, hurtling earthward, Harry had rarely felt so alive. Not since that final battle, not since that day, strengthened and shielded by his family, when he had obliterated the foul evil that had overshadowed his life, and that night conceived his son.
Now Hermione and Ron had given him back the sky.
Howling again, Harry flicked the broom's tail, correcting the tumbling motion and accelerated into a controlled dive.
He could sense the limitations of the broom now, not flaws; he hadn't found any yet, but elements of the design, which had been planned around Ron's lanky form and intuitive flying style. An amateur could easily kill himself on this broom; such was the fine balance that only someone with an intimate knowledge of Ron himself could fly it with any confidence.
As Harry leveled his flight above the palm trees, he grinned to himself as he thought of Ron and Hermione. Hermione and Ron. He remembered that day in Herbology, the day he had noticed their eternal bickering turn to courtship. It was only much later that he had realized that the bickering had been a courtship all along.
Ron and Hermione had taught Harry about love, and now Harry was overcome with a desire to see the one he loved. He waved to his cheering family, paused to gleefully dive-bomb his son and nephew, and then flew onward to the house.
He drifted down onto the balcony and gently opened the French doors.
"Hey, Harry," came his wife's sleepy voice.
"How are you feeling?"
"Like a beached whale."
"I flew here," he said, "on Ron's new broomstick."
Ginny Potter yawned, struggling to keep her eyes open. "That's great babes. You thanked Hermione yet?"
"Not yet," said her husband. "I'll have to do something nice for her; buy her a library or something." Ginny chuckled, feeling his comforting hands on her pregnant tummy.
"How does it fly?" she asked.
"Brilliant!" Ginny could see his grin in the soft light.
"But it's Ron's broom you know, a Keeper's broom."
"No Wronski Feints then?"
Her husband shook his head. "I'll try Gina's broom when it arrives tomorrow."
"Ron hasn't told her yet. McLaggen got suspended for fighting again, so Gina's in the starting line-up for Hungary."
"That's wonderful," she yawned again. "I'm so sleepy Harry, stay with me a while. I just don't know how Sandy stands the heat."
Harry lay down beside her. He muttered a spell to cool the air. Ginny could smell the salt on him, the faint scent of fishing bait that had become familiar since Hagrid had taught him how to fish. Underneath that the musk of Harry himself, her lover, a soothing comforting smell. Then she felt the breeze drift through the open doors carrying voices…Her father's…
"So Dennis, what you're saying is that Weasley's normally only have boys because we're dominating the Gene pool?"
"Basically, yes," said Dennis. "The Wizarding gene pool is very small. The basic Weasley traits seem to breed true within it." Dennis began to tick off on his finger.
"Boys, Blue Eyes, Red Hair."
"All of your children who married within the gene pool, Bill, Charlie, Fred and Ginny, all of their kids are boys with blue eyes and red hair. Ron and George married outside the gene pool, and some of those factors fall away. Arty has brown eyes, Arial, brown eyes and she's a girl. Sandy's girls have dark green eyes."
"James has Harry's eyes."
"That proves my point. Harry got them from his mother Lily, who was a muggleborn…"
It was a subject they loved the most, their family, and they could debate for hours the intricacies of their children and grandchildren's personality quirks, and mostly they did.
As the sun slowly sank away, they moved out from under the gazebo to watch the stars gathering on the edge of the blue. The clouds escorted a crescent moon across the sky, as little ones were put to bed, and older children toasted marshmallows. Bill and Fleur finally arrived, delayed by a board meeting at the bank. Hermione slow danced with her husband to the orchestra of high tide, and Angelina Weasley received the reward she had worked so hard for.
Podgy Uncles Gred and Forge awoke the island at dawn with fireworks.
When the sun rose high again, two grandfathers resumed their conversation of the day before.
On the Beach.
'On The Beach' Is the title of a marvelous Album by Chris Rea
Please tell me you know what Broken Telephone is?
Thanks to Sandy for ALL her hard work