Back Door Man
Hermione's flat...well Hermione and Ron's flat now…was filled with so many people Arthur was beginning to fear that the floor would give way under their weight. He, Bill and Charlie surreptitiously reinforced strengthening charms every time they heard the floorboards groan.
The twins began levitating a banner that their mother was heartily disapproving of.
"'Congratulations on Shacking-Up at Long Last'? Oh really, it's bad enough they're not married without you two having to make it sound so seedy!" Molly said as she flushed in the face.
"Well, you nixed our original idea, Mother." George said with an innocent look on his face.
"What was so wrong with 'Good on You Ronniekins – Feet Under the Table at Last,' eh?" Fred smirked.
Ginny grabbed her mother by the shoulders and suggested she help Fleur with the buffet table, seeing as Fleur was laying out most of the things that needed to be cooked raw. Fleur wasn't, of course, but Molly was eager to believe the news and descended upon a plate of pork pies as if they were time bombs.
"Really, you two," Percy huffed as he helped Harry levitate two barrels up the stairs and into the living room, one of oak matured mead and one of butterbeer. "You know how mother feels about this living in sin business. Do you really have to exacerbate things?"
"Ooooooooh!" Fred and George mocked in unison before falling into each other and chortling.
"Percy," Bill frowned, "I seem to recall a plan involving you keeping watch at the front door to let us know when the guests of honor were coming back?"
"Well, I called several times for somebody to assist Harry, but nobody came!" Percy said, looking flustered.
"Yeah, sorry about that," Harry muttered. "My fault."
"Oh no it isn't," Fred said as he slapped Harry on the back amiably. "Called my arse! You have to shout, Percy."
"Yeah," George nodded. "So get back into position and when they come, don't call in that meek little girly voice of yours…shout!"
"Oh, whoever heard of a surprise housewarming party anyway? Isn't the whole point of it that we are being welcomed into Ron's new home rather than invading it while he and Hermione are out?" Percy huffed as he set off for the stairs.
"Don't pout, Son," Arthur smiled as he passed his annoyed son in the doorway. "You know Ron doesn't throw family parties."
"No, he throws drunken knees-ups!" Ginny muttered under her breath and Harry sniggered with the twins.
"And Hermione is always too busy to organise something like this on top of her work and keeping Ron in line," Arthur finished.
Percy sighed and carried on down the stairs to return to his post as look-out. The Grangers passed him on the stairs and Fred shouted past their startled faces.
"See, you missed them coming!"
"Fred Weasley!" Molly snapped. "Is that any way to greet Hermione's parents when they arrive?"
Fred apologised to the Grangers and Molly began to gasp and redden in the cheeks at the tray of Vol-au-vents Mrs Granger was carrying with her. Ginny and Fleur helped her find a space for them on the table while Molly fussed over her less fancy food and had to be reassured by Mr Granger that pork pies and sandwiches were a buffet standard and he looked forward to tucking in later on.
While Molly blushed and hurried to the kitchen to make the Grangers some tea, Hermione's father set a tube of something called Twiglets on the table, claiming they were Hermione's secret pleasure.
"They're sticks," Charlie muttered out of the corner of his mouth to Bill.
"Technically, they're twigs," Bill muttered back.
"Why would her dad bring a tube full of twigs to a buffet?" asked Charlie.
"He said Hermione likes them." Bill shrugged in response.
"Well, we knew that already. She's with Ron, isn't she?" Charlie snorted.
Bill punched Charlie in the arm but laughed all the same.
"We can't all be built like a brick shithouse, y'know?"
"So what are these then?" Ginny was shaking the tube and frowning.
"Oh, she's subtle," Charlie rolled his eyes.
"Well, maybe she's not being subtle but she is being sensible," Arthur said as he crept up behind his sons and whispered in both their ears. "She wants to know what the point of something is and lo and behold...she thinks to ask!"
Harry stifled a laugh, unsuccessfully, and Arthur clipped Bill and Charlie around the back of the heads before walking over to the Grangers to listen to the explanation being given to Ginny.
"...distinctive flavour, almost like Marmite really, you either love them or hate them." Mr Granger was smiling.
"What's Marmite?" Ginny frowned.
"Ah..." Mr Granger scrunched up his face as if never having had to describe that flavour before.
The stairs pounded and Percy was huffing and puffing and looking startled as he ran into the living room.
"I can hear them in the flat!" he whispered.
"What?" Fred barked in annoyance.
Percy shushed him and the room fell deathly quiet. Molly came in from the kitchen just as Percy began to explain.
"I was waiting at the door for them and I heard a door opening and the two of them talking and giggling and then a door closed and they were inside. They're downstairs right now!"
"Are there two entrances to this place?" Mr Granger frowned to the others.
"Not that I know of," Arthur shrugged before everybody turned to stare at Harry.
"Don't look at me!" Harry held up his hands. "As far as I know, there's one entrance and it's the one we had Percy watching."
There was a sound downstairs and everybody listened.
"Welcome home, Ron," Hermione was saying as the sound of cloaks being removed muffled her voice a little.
"Mmmmm," was all they could make out of Ron's reply.
"Where do you think we should hang the plaque?" Hermione giggled.
"Exactly where a wedding photo would be in a normal house," Ron sniggered.
"Your mother would kill you!" Hermione laughed.
"She wouldn't know what it meant," Ron said with a tut.
"My parents would!" Hermione exclaimed.
Everybody turned to stare at the Grangers now. Mrs Granger looked very worried about what might be revealed about her.
"So your dad's fond of NORWICH, then, eh?" Ron was chortling.
"I don't want to think about that but I know he reads Army books and war memoirs. He'll know what it means, Ron, and we are not having a plaque engraved with the word NORWICH over out fireplace!"
Fred and George's faces crumpled and they turned to stare at each other, mouthing the word 'Norwich' silently.
"Besides, who's to say my mum isn't the NORWICH type, too?" Hermione was teasing Ron by the sound of her tone.
Mr Granger was looking as if he wanted to jump out of a window.
"Maybe we should go," Arthur whispered.
"Not on your life," Charlie said, eyes lighting up at what he thought he was hearing.
"Why are they talking about Norwich?" Molly whispered. "They aren't moving to Norwich, are they? It's so dull!"
"I think maybe we should make ourselves known. Molly, Arthur, don't you think?" Mr Granger said, a slight hint of desperation in his voice.
"I reckon we should nail it to the front door," Ron was saying proudly.
"And that would be explainable to visitors how?" Hermione sighed with amusement.
"Okay then, nail it to the back door," Ron said, his voice dropping into a smoother, richer tone, "my door."
"Now that's an idea," Hermione sighed again but this time she really seemed to be enjoying something.
"I can," Ron paused as if his mouth was temporarily unavailable before continuing, "come home and see it and call out for you to see if you're complying with the rules of NORWICH."
"Or, I could come home and make sure you're prepared for me. NORWICH works both ways, y'know?" Hermione was sounding very seductive.
The Grangers didn't know where to look.
"And at least my way it's spelled correctly!" Hermione giggled.
Ron groaned before there was nothing but breathing sounds for a few seconds and then he huffed deeply.
"Fine, so if I come home and you're already here...?"
"Yup," Hermione nodded, "and if I come home while you're in the flat?"
"NORWICH," Ron said, sounding devilishly pleased with himself.
"NORWICH." Hermione sounded downright dirty.
"What on earth is so wonderful about Norwich?" Ginny hissed to Harry.
"Um..." Harry said before Hermione squealed and Ron grunted and heavy footsteps thumped against the stairs.
"Knickers off ready when I come home!" Ron growled as if he was carrying something heavy.
"Nob out ready when I come home!" Hermione laughed.
Mrs Granger buried her face into her husband's chest and Molly fell against the wall and fanned herself with her hand in shock just as Ron got to the top of the stairs, Hermione over his shoulder with her hands down the back of his trousers, and froze at the sight of them.
"Sweetcheeks?" Hermione called out, wondering why Ron had stopped in the doorway.
Fred and George almost punched the air with joy at hearing this pet name for their brother.
"Hermione?" Ron said, face paling and eyes wide in horror. "Our parents are here."
A/N Lots of thanks and hugs to my beta Deena for her work on this.
Also there is a new author arrived on these shores and she is very VERY good. if you want to read a lovely Harry and Ron friendship fic please check out mapleandmahogany's fic, she posted last night. It's on my list of favourites if you can't find it. If you like my stuff you will definately like hers.
Remember, she's new here so if you do read please review...I sometimes feel I got unrealistically lucky with the fantastic reviewers I have here and I'd love it if she got the same standard of constructive responses I was lucky enough to receive when I first arrived on the scene in September 2005.
Hugs to you all and don't fret, I'm writing the next chapter of Louder Than Words right now.