Chapter 3: A Useful Prank
A/N: We would like to thank everyone who has read, reviewed, and supported this little tale. Your support has been very important to developing this story as with the end that we feel every Ron and Hermione´s story deserves: them staying together and happy.
In this chapter we also have to thank exartemarte, for his helpful explanation about British childrens' games.
And of course a special thank you to our wonderful pre-beta pili204 and to our wonderful beta ginchy as well.
6 July 2009- St. Mungo´s Hospital.
The next seven months flew by for Hermione, and she soon found herself at St Mungo's, on the post natal ward.
Just as before, the pregnancy itself had been a wonderful experience. Somehow, this time around, she felt calmer and much more prepared for the pregnancy, and quite ready to welcome another Weasley child into their family. He mother–in-law would try and reassure her that the hardest labor was always the first one, the rest would be a breeze, then she would mutter under her breath how wonderful it would be for her to be blessed with seven grandchildren, which always made Hermione chuckle.
Being an only child herself, Hermione had always wanted to have a big family and was overjoyed when her husband shared the same thoughts. They shared the same opinion on how many children to have and when the right time was to start their family. As soon as she had discovered that she was pregnant again, her thoughts were filled with the image of her husband and two small red-headed children playing and laughing. It was a wonderful image, one that she cherished.
At the same time, Hermione, as always, was a realist. She knew her life would get busier having two young children; her job would almost definitely have to take a back seat for awhile, as well as the household chores. She knew Ron would help her as often he could but there would be so much to do. In these moments, Ron´s voice would echo in her mind, you're a witch, Hermione, you can do magic. Each time she heard him she would chuckle. They were both lucky though, Ron's job as the Chudley Canons Keeper allowed him to have some free time at home to spend with Matthew, and she often brought work home to finish from Hogwarts.
Hermione smiled to herself about how nostalgic she felt as she sat up on her bed, nursing her new daughter as she waited for the rest of her family to arrive.
Catherine Weasley had been born at two o'clock the previous morning. Ron had, of course, been there with his wife and was the first to hold his daughter after Hermione. She became teary eyed remembering the nervous form of Ron bathing their new baby, quietly whispering 'I love you' as he gently dabbed her with water. She loved his tenderness and gentleness toward their baby, and for someone whose hands should be calloused with all the Quaffles he had saved, he still had the softest of hands and the most delicate touch.
Matthew didn't see his sister that first morning as he lay asleep in Harry's arms while he and Ginny waited for news in the corridor outside the ward.
Catherine snuggled into Hermione´s chest and moaned softly. Hermione smiled at her daughter's little face and stroked her auburn hair. It was not quite as red as her father, not quite as brown as her mother - a good mix, she thought happily. The baby girl opened her eyes and grabbed Hermione's finger.
"Oh, you're a strong little one, aren't you?" she smiled "You have a strong grip just like your brother had, you know," she whispered softly. "You'll love Matt. He is charmingly stubborn like your daddy but he is the most adorable boy you could have as a brother. He's so happy you've arrived. He kept a box of toys next to his so you can play together," she said lovingly, listening to her daughter's cooing. "Yes, I know." she said, pretending she was replying. "You'll have to wait a while before-"
Hermione was interrupted by a knock on the door. A grinning Ron came in followed by an excited Matthew. The toddler's blue eyes searched out his mother and on seeing her a huge grin, just like his father's, broke out. He instantly made his way to her bed holding a daisy in his little hand.
Ron kissed Hermione's forehead "Hi," he said quietly, "How are my girls doing?" He smiled, a grin seemingly glued to his face.
Hermione shuffled a little up the bed, making room for Ron to sit. He looked at Hermione who carefully handed him his daughter. "We're fine, love, just fine. Matt, come to Mummy."
Matthew threw his arms around Hermione's neck, and she hugged him tight. "Oh, I have missed you, sweetie."
The little boy beamed and kissed her cheek. "Me too, Mummy. The flower is for you, Daddy gave it to me to give to you. Oh… she's so small!" he said, a little disappointment in his voice as he looked at Catherine.
Ron and Hermione exchanged a wise look. Matthew seemed to be waiting for a sister who could walk and play with him, not a baby sister.
Ron took Matthew in his lap and ruffled his hair "Yes, she's small, son, but it's your job to help us take care of her. You're her big brother, and sooner than you think, she'll be big enough to play with you."
He nodded giving his sister a huge grin; it was a grin so like Ron´s that it always made Hermione´s heart melt.
Hermione put her arms around her firstborn's back and smiled. "You were just as small as Catherine when you're born. Thank you for the flower. It's gorgeous, sweetie. She's the luckiest baby girl because she has an older brother like you to protect her."
Matthew grinned. "Like Daddy, when he saved you from the troll?"
Ron and Hermione laughed. Ginny had been the one to tell to Matthew, and her daughters, that story and many others about the infamous trio's adventures at Hogwarts.
Hermione couldn't resist and planted a big kiss on her son's cheek. "Yes, so you can see how much fun both of you can have together, yeah?"
Matthew nodded and softly grabbed one of Catherine's little hands in his own. Then he got closer and kissed her cheek. "Hi, sister. Can I hug her?"
Ron put Catherine in a position so that Matthew could hug her. The baby girl made a soft sound and smiled at her brother when he caressed her cheek with his thumb.
Matthew had a look of complete awe. "She likes me, Mummy! Do you think she'll like to hear Uncle Charlie´s dragon stories?"
Hermione took Catherine in her arms and felt Ron's arm around her shoulder. "Of course she will, Matt. I'm sure Uncle Charlie is going to tell her some wonderful stories, maybe some that have princesses, castles, magic and all sorts of wonderful things in them."
Ron snorted over the mention of princesses and Charlie in same sentence. His brother was still the only Weasley who was single but who had the largest collection of ex- girlfriends. Hermione liked to tease her brother-in-law, saying he must be a prince who, with his pet dragons, searched the land for his own princess, just like a Muggle fairy tale.
Ron pushed Matthew into his lap. "Now, we'll let Catherine and Mummy get some sleep, and we'll come back later, okay?"
Matthew nodded and kissed Catherine's cheek again. Hermione looked at her husband thinking that the happy look he had on his face was worth every hour she had endured in labor.
The constant visits to the Den by every member of the Weasley family kept the house filled and lively for the two months that followed Catherine's birth.
Everyone who visited the Den brought gifts and cards of congratulations for the happy family. The usual calm and orderly life the couple were used to was temporarily turned into chaos. They soon got used to having somebody from the family around, spending afternoons with Catherine and Matthew, or even the whole weekend. Hermione didn't mind, it was a welcome break for her having so much help at home during those early days. She loved having Ron's family around, and everyone was always so helpful with household chores and babysitting duties. Even Hermione's parents were able to get away from their busy dental practice to make a surprise three day visit to meet the baby, something that made Hermione feel quite happy.
Matthew developed a lovely and fun protectiveness over his new sister. He always wanted to help, bringing nappies, bottles, wipes, bibs or her dummy every time Catherine needed them, or when they went to visit Molly and Arthur at The Burrow. He also liked to play with his LEGO's right next to his sister, but he always accepted well when she was sleeping and he couldn't make noise. Sometimes Matthew had his fits or the sulks as every three years old boy would, but fortunately the fits or tantrums were resolved quickly. Matthew had inherited the Weasley stubbornness, but he was a child that usually calmed down with some words and caresses; nothing that would spoil him too much, but enough to get him get back on the right track again.
Ron was happier than ever about their children, and very excited about his 'pumpkin', as he liked to call to their new daughter. He even persuaded Charlie to make an extra trip to England just to spend a weekend with them so he could meet his new niece. Charlie had made fun of Ron, saying he was possessed by a Fluffy Charm, but he totally melted when he had the baby girl in his arms. Charlie even shamelessly asked if they would consider him to be the godfather, so taken was he with his niece. Ron looked with pleading eyes at Hermione, who smiled and accepted readily. She knew Charlie was one of Ron´s favorite siblings and it was times like these that made Hermione feel lucky that Ron had a big family because she managed to have a special bond of friendship with each of his siblings and looked at them all as if they were her siblings too.
19 September 2009- The Burrow
Charlie picked Hermione's thirtieth birthday party to introduce his girlfriend, a young Canadian woman he met at the dragon reserve they both worked at, to the family.
The Burrow had welcomed the whole Weasley family for the birthday party. Harry jokingly called the day "Weasley Day" because more celebrations than just Hermione´s Birthday were being celebrated, like Charlie's visit and the engagement party for George and Alicia.
As dawn broke on the day of the party, the sun shone down on The Burrow, but as the day went on the wind increased making it unseasonably chilly.
The Burrow was messy and cluttered with the children's toys in each corner and the kitchen table was full of vegetables, utensils and all the trimmings for sweet recipes ready to be made by Molly.
Angelina, Hermione, and Alicia were helping Molly to prepare a rich and delicious feast. Once in a while Alicia showed signs of getting a bit nauseous because of her pregnancy, causing Molly to insist that she go to one of the bedrooms to get some rest but the young woman smiled and said that her sickness would go away soon and she was able to help.
Molly would have preferred Alicia to get pregnant after she had married George, but she quickly forgot the initial shock and supported her son and future daughter-in-law with all her heart.
Hermione admired Alicia's braveness in getting so close to the food. During her two pregnancies, especially in first two months, it was hard for Hermione to keep her food down, something which made Ron very worried. He was adorable in those moments because he insisted on taking care of everything including the meals and only chose recipes that wouldn't make Hermione feel sick. After the first two months her pregnancy improved and it was only the last few weeks, when the weight of her baby made everyday activities almost impossible and caused her feet and ankles to swell, that she became once again uncomfortable. Again, however, Ron made sure everything around her was comfortable. She felt like a queen whose king was granting each of her wishes as they were ordered, including kissing her feet. Well, that happened only a few times, which made Hermione laugh until she couldn't hold back tears or the call of her overburdened bladder.
Noemie, Charlie's girlfriend, wanted to help the Weasley women in kitchen and asked Hermione where the aprons were kept. She was short woman, but everyone looked short to a Weasley man. Of a medium build, Noemie had black, shoulder length, curly hair, green-blue eyes, and a large gleaming smile that would impress Hermione's parents. All in all, Noemie was charming. Everyone liked the dragon-handler from the first moment they met her, and Hermione couldn't help thinking about how Ron must be right about the strength of Charlie's feelings for the nice young woman.
Noemie added a traditional Canadian recipe to the menu, a tourtière, which was a meat pie originating from Quebec, where she was from. The empathy between Molly and Noemie was instant, and it was obvious that the two women would become good friends. Noemie was an intelligent, calm and warm young woman, whose sense of humor fitted in perfectly with the crazy mess around the Weasleys.
As Hermione walked out of the kitchen she saw Lilly, Jane, and Matthew happily playing "Hide and Seek" in the backyard. It was Fred who was watching them while his son Aidan was sleeping peacefully in one of the many cribs Arthur had built for his grandchildren inside the house.
Arthur sat on a garden chair fixing Matthew's tricycle with George´s help and smiled at his daughter-in–law. Hermione smiled back kindly. Arthur Weasley was one of her favorite Weasleys for many reasons. He was a kind of hero to her because he always fought so hard so that his family could live in a fair and safe world. It was those traits that Ron had inherited from him, and they were a few of her favorite traits that her husband possessed.
When Hermione went back into the house to see what the others where up to, she spotted Ron and Harry sitting near each other. Ron took his wand and broke a spell that was hiding what was written on the piece of parchment he was holding.
Those two must be up to something, Hermione mused.
"Is Fred with the children outside?"
"Yeah and my girls will make sure he'll be out there a long time. I taught them how play "Hide and Seek" and I also hinted about buying a new doll for each of them if they managed to play for quite a while…"
"Ginny, are you in with us or not?"
Hermione smiled when she saw her sister-in-law staring at Harry with her hands on her hips. Ginny threw a furious look at her husband, but stayed to hear their plan to play a prank on George and Alicia on their wedding night.
Ginny calmed down and sat on Harry´s lap as he began taking notes on parchment. It was the twins who had always taken the task of planning and executing the pranks every time a Weasley got married. The most difficult part of planning this particular prank was that they needed to keep Fred clueless about what was going on. This meant that there were two pranks being planned because Fred had surely already planned something to trick his twin.
Everyone was getting in on the fun of organizing a funny but warm double-prank for the couple. Even Fleur was in on it, giving many ideas that made Bill laugh. He teased her about the prank the twins had played on them on their wedding night which had not been so bad after all.
Ron approached Charlie and gave him a key to George and Alicia´s flat. Charlie took it, putting it away in his shirt's pocket
"And remember, Ron, Fred can't know about this part of the prank," he said quietly to his brother.
"Yeah. Can't wait to see his reaction. It will be a blast. I'd like to use that charm he and Fred used on mine and Hermione´s bed on our wedding night, but it's not original so it's out of question."
Charlie looked at his younger brother giving him a questionable look. Hermione smiled at
Charlie while she picked Catherine up and put her on her lap.
"Oh, they did find a clever way to use that charm to torture us when it was time for bed. I'm telling you-"
Charlie tried to look shocked. "Oh no, Hermione. Please, spare me the steamy wedding night you had with my brother!"
Ron put his arms around Hermione´s shoulder and kissed her head .She placed a hand over his while Catherine was quiet making soft noises in her mother's lap.
" No worries, bro. We're only telling you what you can hear…"
March 22- Wedding night at Ron and Hermione´s flat.
After a day filled with surprises, gifts, hugs, and some tears of joy, Ron and Hermione left The Burrow, where their wedding ceremony had taken place. They Apparated to their flat where they were to spend their first night as a married couple. The following day they would start their honeymoon trip around many European cities, a generous wedding gift given to them by Harry and Ginny.
When Ron and Hermione stepped in to their flat they were expecting some kind of prank put together by Ron´s family, but everything was neat and in the right places just as Hermione and Molly had left it the day before.
Ron looked at Hermione mischievously and they quickly moved to a very enthusiastic snogging session, forgetting to wonder why their flat would be so unusually neat, especially when the groom's siblings were known as the prank kings.
Hermione and Ron looked at each other in awe without saying a word. They had finally tied their fates by the bond of marriage, but it didn't matter much to them because they had been tied to each other by their souls for many years already. The marriage was the last step for sharing their whole lives together and the first step in starting to build their own world and their own family.
Hermione jumped into Ron´s arms and wrapped her legs around him as he made their way toward their bedroom. When they arrived and moved close to their bed, Ron looked at her with his blue eyes brighter than ever and laid her down on the bed. She pulled him to her, and their kisses became more urgent. Hermione took control of the kiss and settled on top of Ron, but after a few heated moments, Ron took the control back and rolled until Hermione was under him.
When Ron rolled their bodies a strange shock ran through him, shaking him and throwing him out of the bed as if he was in the middle of traveling with a Portkey. He was abruptly thrown against the wall.
Hermione ran to him, worried. "Oh my goodness, are you all right?"
Ron looked funny, upside down on the floor against the bedroom's wall, only wearing his boxers. Hermione had to contain the fit of laughter that was in her throat.
He groaned as if his whole body was in pain
"Yeah, I think. What a weird feeling, but so familiar at the same time. It was like that time when I tried to up to the girls' dormitory during our fifth year, remember? To talk to you."
A sense of understanding lighted Hermione´s face, just like when she got the right answer at school.
"That's it, Ron. Their prank on our wedding night! You can't touch that bed, as any boy can't get up stairs at girls' dormitories at Hogwarts. We can't deny that they might be a pair of geniuses, though!"
Ron turned red. "Geniuses? I'm going to kill them! How are we supposed to use the bed tonight? No wait, I'm not in a mood to research the counter charm in any book!"´
Hermione grabbed Ron´s hands. "Of course we're not doing any reading tonight, and we're not even using that bed."
Ron looked confused at his wife. There was a shadow of disappointment in his voice. "Are we not going use the bed? Are… are you sure, love?"
Hermione got closer Ron´s body, pulling him to her. "I'm sure that we can manage it without the bed, can't we? It hasn't stopped us in other …situations, right?"
Ron grinned and when his mouth touched Hermione´s bare shoulder, her mind went blank but her body caught every ministration made by Ron. She never would have thought that a prank by Fred or George could be so useful in making her and Ron's first night as married couple better than ever, better than she could have ever imagined.
19 September 2009- Back to The Burrow's living room
"So that flat would have so much to tell then, right Ron?"
Ron tapped Charlie's head but couldn't avoid laughing with everyone else about his brother's teasing.
Hours later, when Hermione blew the candles out on her birthday cake, she realized that it was another cherished moment in her life. Matthew helped enthusiastically by blowing some of the candles, and Ron held Catherine in his arms so the four of them could be together in that special moment. And that was better than any gift wrapped in gorgeous paper or ribbons. As the sun began to set, the Weasleys made their way out to enjoy the peaceful night.
Hermione always loved to watch the sky sparkling and glistening with stars from The Burrow's front door, where many years ago Ron had told her he loved her. The stars also reminded her of the night Ron proposed to her on her favorite Muggle beach.
Tonight, once again, Hermione sat on the small step of The Burrow's front door with Ron´s head resting on her lap. She smiled while she caressed his smooth fringe and they both talked about the most recent adventures of their two children.
Ron kissed her fingers and didn't let go of them while they laughed and kept talking. They were lovers and best friends. They were soulmates.
In the years to come Ron and Hermione saw their family grow even more with the arrival of their third child. Over time they shared many more moments which they stored in their hearts as their most cherished memories.
Many chapters were written in their family's story, from the day Catherine took her first step to the day Ron and Hermione took Matthew to King's Cross Station as he was ready to start his first year at Hogwarts
Today the family had come together for another birthday celebration.
"Happy Birthday, Mummy!"
"Thank you, sweeties! Give a big kiss to Mummy, and a big hug too!"
Hermione was still in her bed when she got a collective hug from her three children. They had invaded her bedroom and sat on the bed, waking her up and starting to sing "Happy Birthday" very loudly, but in a way that was so sweet it made her get teary-eyed.
Ron was watching them with his usual grin and a gleam in his eyes. He was holding a breakfast tray, which he put on the night stand before kissing her lips lightly.
"Happy Birthday, love. The kids and I made your favorite breakfast. There's enough for everyone. Enjoy!"
Their youngest son, five year old David, said proudly, "I made the toast, Mummy. Not too burnt, just the way you like it."
Ron and Hermione laughed. She touched David's fringe to feel how smooth his hair was. It was a habit she had acquired first with Ron's hair and then started doing it also with Matthew and David's fringe. Their hair was so like their father's, smooth and Weasley red. Catherine's hair, however, was more like Hermione's, and the two of them had so much fun trying to make it seem less wild through the use of plaits or ponytails.
"Thank you, Dave. I'm sure it's delicious." Hermione saw he was hiding something behind his back. "Oh, what is that you have behind your back? Let Mummy see it, please?"
David blushed and looked at his mother intensely, making his eyes appear a darker shade of blue. He held out his little hand towards Hermione, showing a parchment. She saw an adorable drawing representing each of his siblings, his parents and himself in front of their house. Even Crookshanks and Pig were drawn there, smiling and waving at her.
Hermione smiled at the drawing, because her little boy had made Pig and Crookshanks grin with many white teeth. At least her words about taking care of teeth had had some effect on her youngest son and in the cutest way.
Hermione kissed David's cheek. "Sweetie, this is gorgeous! Thank you. I'll put it in my office at Hogwarts to look at while I'm working."
David seemed very pleased. "And Daddy made a Charm so that they can wave at you."
Moving close to his father, he opened the sugar bowl so he could put sugar in Hermione´s coffee.
Catherine looked at her mother shyly and put in Hermione's lap a colorful package that had drawings of Snitches all over it.
"Sorry the paper is a bit boyish," she said, "but I forgot to get some new rolls and used one we had left from Christmas. Granny Molly helped me to do this for you. Hope you like it."
Hermione gasped when she saw a blue and white scarf with two wool pompoms at either end. She felt a rush of pride about how talented her nine year old daughter was, remembering her own try once with house elves' hats in her youth, even then not so well knitted as Catherine's work. "Oh Cathy, this is beautiful. You know how much I love getting presents made by you. Thanks, sweetie."
Catherine grinned and her brown eyes grew brighter when she put the scarf around Hermione´s neck. "I chose blue to match Daddy's jumpers when you're going out together during winter."
Ron arched an eyebrow playfully at Hermione. "She thinks about everything, just like you. Right, pumpkin?"
Catherine nodded in a matter of fact kind way and joined David, who was eating toast, and filled a glass with pumpkin juice for herself.
Hermione grabbed the pompom scarf softly. "It seems I have the perfect scarf for our annual Hogwarts reunion. We just need to knit a gorgeous blue jumper for you."
Just then Matthew, who had been leaning against the chest of drawers and quietly watching them, approached the bed and handed her a small bag with a smile.
Professor McGonagall let him out of Hogwarts for the special occasion.
His intense blue eyes looked straight into hers. Hermione knew he was excited, for she could see he had a present for her, but he always let his younger siblings give theirs first. His Weasley temper was as intense as his siblings' was, but at twelve years old he had calmed down about some things but developed an intense rebellious attitude towards others, just like a young boy at his age should.
He sat on the edge of the bed and passed a hand though his red hair. "Mum, I made something for you too, but I'm afraid it's not very good. It was my first one and I realize it needs improvement."
Hermione took the brown package from his hands. "Matt, whatever you've done, I will love and use it. No worries, sweetie, I'm sure you did well."
Her eyes beamed when she saw a wood case in which to put her ink pallet and quills. It was a very simple model with a lion engraved on its lid. Hermione held him. "This is perfect, Matt. No need for any changes. I'll use it on my desk in our library. I really love it."
Matt grinned and took the case in his hands. "I'm glad you like it, Mum. See, you can put some bookmarks here in this section."
Hermione kissed his cheek. "Thanks, Matt."
He grinned and gave her a plate with her toast on it that David had passed to him. Everyone started eating breakfast while the children talked about what they planned to do at Hermione's birthday party.
Hermione looked at Ron and he winked at her, putting a small package under her pillow. She nodded and took a sip of her juice, curious about what Ron had gotten for her birthday present.
Later we will see it together, his eyes seemed to say to her.
It was a joy sharing each day of her life with those she loved most: her beloved husband and their wonderful children.