Across platform nine and three quarters, mothers and fathers rushed forward to greet their children as they exited the train. Ron felt a twinge of envy. He had to stand off to the side as plain-clothed Aurors kept watch on the crowd to ensure the safety of all the Potters and Weasleys gathered at King's Cross.
"Do you see them?" Hermione asked.
Ron was taller than most. He looked over the heads of parents and students and grinned as several redheads disembarked. "Lucy, Molly, Hugo and Lily are headed this way!"
"Lucy's running," Percy said. "I've told her a hundred times—"
"Don't run on the platform!" Ron, Hermione, Harry, and Ginny said in unison.
Hermione said, "You have to tell children what you want them to do. Otherwise, they'll ignore the don't and think, run on the platform? Yes, I will!"
Percy's wife Audrey chuckled when he hurried to meet his daughter. "You also have to set a good example."
Ron shook his head as he watched the family's reunion. "I get what Percy saw in Audrey. Blonde. Fun. What I don't get is what she saw in him."
"Weasley men are irresistible." Hermione squeezed his hand and released it to step forward and throw her arms around Hugo. "You've grown," she said, rising on tiptoes to kiss his cheek. "We need to take you shopping for jeans that don't show your socks."
"On his days off," Ron said. He hugged Hugo. "I want to put you to work at the shop this week."
"Sure, Dad," Hugo said distractedly. His eyes were on the train.
Ron asked, "Are you looking for Rosie and her friend?"
His son was fifteen years old and his guilty expression hadn't changed since he was a baby. Ron elbowed him playfully. "Her friend's pretty, huh?"
"Don't be unkind," Hermione said. "I'm sure your sister's friend has a lovely personality."
Hugo grimaced. "Not to me."
Ron's curiosity was piqued. He scanned the crowd and smiled when he saw his daughter. His gaze slid past the blond boy walking behind Rosie, searching for the friend she was bringing home. When he didn't see any girl, his eyes returned to Rose.
The boy trailing his daughter was the friend she was bringing home. The boy Ron realised was holding his little girl's hand had somehow snaked his way into Rosie's affections and ferreted out an invitation to spend Easter holiday with her family.
The boy was Scorpius Malfoy.
Words from the past came back to haunt. Don't get too friendly with him, though, Rosie. A muscle twitched in Ron's jaw. Why hadn't Hermione told him the don't-say-don't parenting thing back when it would have done some bloody good?
A red mist swam before his eyes along with the horrific mental image of an innocent first-year girl beaming at a spawn of Slytherin. "Get too friendly with him? Yes, I will!"
Ron jerked awake, heart pounding, muscles tensed. He cursed.
"Bad dream?" Hermione used a charm to engage the illumination orb on the bedside table. The clock read midnight.
Ron stared up at the canopy of their four-poster bed. "Every time I close my eyes I'm back at King's Cross. It's official. Malfoy has murdered sleep."
"Poor darling." Hermione lay facing him, close enough for Ron to feel her body shake.
He said darkly, "You won't think it's funny when I'm hauled off to St. Mungo's. A few more nights without sleep and I'll crack up."
"You might have memory lapses, get nauseous at times, or have trouble reading, but a study where a boy went without sleep for eleven days revealed no long-term emotional or physical side-effects." Hermione leaned over to smooth his fringe out of his eyes. The ends of her hair brushed his cheek. "I hope you're not too disappointed."
If he was, he refused to admit it. "How do you always remember stuff like that?"
"I am a magnet for trivia."
Ron pulled his wife into his arms. "You magnetise me." He kissed her, determined to seek out the most natural of sleep aids.
Hermione pulled back. "Why are you so worried?"
Physically pinned down, mentally he tried to squirm away. "There's a Malfoy in our house. What do you think?"
She said gently, "Albus used Verisimilitude Potion on the train. Scorpius gave you a wizard's handshake. You searched his rucksack and found only clothes and schoolbooks, he's told the truth and been nothing but polite. You can't be worried that he'll harm Rose." Hermione's eyes invited Ron to share his burden. "Tell me the real reason you can't sleep."
Ron blinked away whatever dust specks made moisture prickle the corners of his eyes. It was hard to admit the fear that kept him awake, even to the person he loved most. Swallowing to ease the tightness in his throat, he whispered, "What if he breaks her heart?"
Hermione brushed her mouth over his. "We'll help her put the pieces back together." She kissed him gently. "There's no protecting a child from that kind of hurt, but I love you for wanting to try. You're a wonderful father."
His lips didn't require much coaxing to part and allow her to deepen the kiss. When it came to Hermione, Ron had always been easily seduced. "You're a wonderful wife," he said as she kissed her way down his throat. "Beautiful. Amazing. Sexy. Soporific."
She lifted her head. "Soporific?"
"Isn't that the right word? Aren't you going to make me sleepy?" Ron gave her a hopeful look.
Hermione laughed softly and slipped off her nightdress. "Eventually."
A/N: Methought I heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep!" the innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care...
Yes, Ron was misquoting the bard—I can see Hermione luring him to a Shakespearean Festival (lots of wine and swordfights!), and both he and Macbeth were figuratively speaking. :D
For any Ron/Hermione readers who read because of the title and/or summary alone, thank you so much! This story is a "missing moment" that goes along with chapter nine of Our Little Secret, my Rose/Scorpius story. If you're curious about how Rose came to invite Scorpius home for Easter holiday seventh year and what happened between the moment at the train station and that night (and what's going to happen afterwards), I'd love you to read the other story. For the "Scorose" readers who read this, shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate!
The title was adapted from a book found in a Barnes and Noble search. I wanted something with "Dad" in it, almost went with Tales from the Dad Side, and then came across Crouching Father, Hidden Toddler. I immediately remembered the movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and knew for my story it should be Hidden Terror, because Ron's real fear is that his little girl's heart will be broken. Beneath the bluster he's a big softie (not that Scorpius will see that side next chapter, *cackles*).