A/N A Halloween treat for all my lovely friends here on ff dot net. A three parter covering three different kinds of mischief nights. Enjoy!
His hands were everywhere, moving underneath her top and brushing against her skin, and she was loving it.
She was always the driving force in their kisses and this was no exception. She'd made the move, just like she always did, and as soon as she pushed herself against him his hands would start exploring. It was almost as if he was still waiting for absolute confirmation that he was allowed to hold her like that.
He was testing the waters to make sure he was still wanted. It hadn't taken her long, and confirmed by a look from Harry, to understand that Ron really needed to know he was wanted.
His hand slid up her back, his thumb brushed against the clasp of her bra, and then he moved it back down again. He was being adventurous and coy at the same time.
She knew her lips would be a chapped and puffy mess afterwards but she didn't care. School was lonely without her boys there with her. The common room was too quiet without them to talk to. Breakfast was too civilised without Ron eating across from her. She was in the familiarity of the school and back in the same routine she had grown so fond of and Ron and Harry were always wrong footed and in dangerous places with dangerous people.
At least this time they had people with them. They had information and back up and healers.
She broke the kiss and looked down. She pushed his shirt open a little and stroked his collarbone, lightly, with her fingers.
"You all right?" He asked, his voice rumbling beneath her touch.
"Yes," she nodded before looking back up at him and smiling, "I'm just grateful you didn't scar."
"It was only a scratch. When you've been splinched like I have a little cut isn't anything to write home about."
"Do though, keep doing it," she demanded of him, "I want to know everything even if you know I'll worry. Write everything down for me while I'm away."
"My letters are so crap," he muttered.
"I won't mark them, don't worry," she teased, "please promise you'll keep writing to me and telling me everything that happens to you."
"I promise," he said and lowered his head to kiss her again.
They were hidden within her bushy mane of brown hair, conscious that Molly was probably sneakily peeking out through the window at them.
Hermione had been allowed to Floo to the Burrow for the weekend, Ginny had not. It was Valentine's weekend so this hadn't gone down too well for the golden couple.
Harry had gone to bed on Sunday night like a dog who'd been thrown off the leg he was humping and Arthur had practically wrestled Molly into the living room and away from the kitchen window, where she had been anxiously watching her youngest son and his girlfriend sitting on the dry stone wall.
He was still eighteen for a couple of weeks, nearly nineteen years old with his older and more mature girlfriend, and yet they weren't allowed to spend time together alone in his bedroom. Molly had spoken to Hermione about not being pressured into sex, laughable really as Hermione was in the driving seat in their relationship, while Arthur had been forced to have a man to man chat with Ron in the shed.
This consisted of Arthur handing Ron a bottle of Butterbeer and telling him to treat Hermione with respect and not get her pregnant. They drank to his agreement on both things and that was that.
It was Shrove Monday when Hermione had to go back to Hogwarts.
Harry and Arthur were attempting to give Ron and Hermione some privacy as they said goodbye in front of the fireplace but Molly was stacking hot cross buns, Easter eggs and lemons in Hermione's arms.
"They'll have lemons at Hogwarts, mum," Ron said with an embarrassed whine.
"They have their pancakes already rolled up with lemon and sugar on Pancake Day. Ginny likes to make her own, it's tradition."
"Ginny liked making them when she was 10, Molly," Arthur called, casually. "Why don't we leave them be to say their goodbyes an-"
"I know what my own daughter likes, Arthur!" Molly huffed. "Save the eggs for Easter Sunday, no nibbling them early, you hear? I know you girls and your sweet tooth."
Hermione grinned politely.
"I usually eat most of hers anywa-" Ron said as he moved his hand towards one of the eggs and swore as his mother slapped it away.
"They're for the girls!" She scolded before smiling at Hermione again, "do give one to Luna won't you?"
"Of course Mrs Weasley."
"Maybe I should give you a hand with that," Ron said as he offered his arms to take the bundle of buns.
"You can't just Floo into Hogwarts unannounced, Ron. What kind of improved security is that?"
"Sorry mum," he sighed, before grumbling under his breath, "house elves can make hot cross buns too y'know? They won't be stale either."
"Save the buns for Good Friday, there's a preserving charm on them, they're for all your friends in the common room. Now take care dear."
Molly kissed Hermione on the cheek and then helped her into the fireplace.
"Off you go now, you're running late."
Hermione opened her mouth and looked to Ron.
"Oh, well I'll...see you next Hogsmeade weekend I suppose."
Ron had had enough.
"Get out of that bloody grate," he huffed as he pulled her back out, removed the load from her arms and set it on the table, and then put his arms around her and gave her a hug. "I'll write to you with every detail of how much trouble I get from mum for doing this."
She giggled into his chest and his kissed the side of her head through her hair before stepping back towards the table and leaning to scoop up the bundle of unnecessary festive treats.
That was when a massive black soot cloud exploded from the fireplace and filled the kitchen with blackness rivalled only by Wheezes Instant Darkness Powder.
Everybody was coughing and waving the soot away from their faces. Harry and Ron had their wands lit first, then Arthur joined them and Hermione lit hers by the light of Ron's.
"Here," Ron sputtered as he held a tea towel to Hermione's face, covering her nose and mouth.
"What was that?" Harry choked.
"I send a cleaning charm up there every month and it's only just been done," Molly said with a scratchy voice.
"That's George, got to be," Arthur said as he opened the back door and attempted to waft the gradually settling soot cloud outside.
"I'm gonna..." Ron stopped to let out a hacking cough, "Should get up on the roof," he wheezed as he spoke and bumped into the corner of the table as he moved towards the sunlight filtering in through the open door, "take a look."
He fumbled around for Hermione, curled his fingers around her forearm and then slid his hand down to hers and lead her out behind him. Harry made sure Arthur and Molly got out ahead of him and then stumbled out, still coughing like a twenty-a-day smoker.
Ron squinted up at the roof, teetering in it's wonky way, above his bedroom. The chimney looked clear enough from where he stood.
"I'll get a broom," he said, hoarsely.
"Have a drink of water, Ronnie," Molly fussed as she licked her thumb and began to rub at his cheek.
Ron pulled away and looked at her with mortification.
"Mum!" He nodded towards Hermione and flashed her a plea with his wide eyes.
Molly huffed and stepped back. Ron let out a sigh of relief which ended with a thorough throat clearing and then pointed his wand at the broom shed.
A rickety old broom zoomed into his hand and Ron dropped it immediately as he felt a cobweb brushing against his skin.
While Harry removed and cleaned his glasses Hermione picked up the broom and picked off all the fine threads before handing it back to a blushing Ron.
"Thanks," he said, cringing with embarrassment.
"Thank you," she said, holding up the tea towel that had protected her lungs, "be careful."
He gave her half a smile and then mounted the broom. Harry pushed his glasses back onto his nose and blinked the sight of Ron kicking off from the ground into focus. He sent his Patronus around the building and then motioned for it to patrol the perimeter of the grounds while the others watched Ron steadying himself with one foot resting upon the roof.
Ron peered down the crooked chimney and then lit his wand and aimed the light down the flue. He squinted and then pulled himself closer to get a really good look and then jumped back and spun on the broom before steadying it and swearing loudly.
"Ron!" Harry called up to him, wand at the ready to protect or catch him.
"S'okay," Ron said, grumpily, "it was the bloody ghoul!"
"Oh that thing!" Molly exclaimed in exasperation.
Ron drifted back down to the ground, circling the house as he went just to be sure there had been no other reason for the soot explosion, and landed heavily. He dismounted the broom and then held it before him with a look of distain.
"This thing handles like a snooker cue in a bath of porridge."
"I think the damp must have got to it," Arthur said as he took the broom from his son and tapped the handle with his finger, leaning in to listen to the sound the wood made.
"Oh no, I'm going to miss the Hogwarts Floo, the time lock ends in a minute!"
People couldn't usually Floo in and out of Hogwarts. McGonagall had set up a five minute connection so Hermione could get back to school for her Monday morning classes.
"Don't panic, I'll see if I can clear the fireplace, you could still make it." Ron said as he moved to step back inside.
She grabbed his shoulder to hold him back and he felt the tea towel being tied around his head, covering the lower half of his face.
"Don't go making that cough worse, you."
"Cheers," he said, the smile was only visible through his eyes, Hermione loved how expressive they were.
"You can always try Apparating to Hogsmeade and trying to get somebody to open the gates." Harry suggested.
She shook her head as she watched Ron venture inside the blackened kitchen.
"Security procedures were set in place by Kingsley, remember? A pupil can't just show up at the gates with an excuse and be let inside. I'll have to miss a day and make arrangements to come in tomorrow."
Harry smirked at her twitchy disappointment.
"I'm sure missing an appointment won't matter, you could probably teach the class," he said as he nudged her in the side.
"But we were going to master total human transfiguration today and when I practice in the common room I'm never colour co-ordinated!"
Ron stepped out of the kitchen, even filthier than he was before, and pulled the tea towel down so it hung around his neck.
"Your classmates turned themselves into a hairy china cabinet, a mermaid that was a fish on the top and a woman on the bottom and a giant boot full of internal organs." He shook the black dust out of his hair before continuing. "Your colours clashing is nothing to fret about."
She smiled at him.
"You've got dirt on your nose," she pointed out.
Ron grinned and shook his head, while Harry laughed aloud.
Molly cleared her throat and Ron rubbed at his dirty face with the tea towel.
"Um, the fireplace is totally blocked. Looks like the ghoul chucked something down there. It might have found some of Fred and George's experiments and..."
"But its never done anything like that before," Arthur frowned. "All it usually does is bang about a bit, sometimes wail."
"Take a look," Ron offered, "it's like setting tar and hardened lava got chucked down our chimney."
Harry and Arthur tried to siphon some of the remaining soot cloud out through the open door before venturing inside and attempting to clear the fireplace.
Hermione looked up at Ron and forgot Molly was still in the garden with them.
"I'd offer to clean this up for you if you hadn't said you were a big boy now," she teased.
Ron also forgot his mother was standing outside the house with them as he laughed and stepped in towards her body and curled his arms around her.
"It's different when you do it."
"Oh really?" Hermione arched her eyebrows.
"Very different." Ron nodded, emphatically.
Hermione licked the pad of her thumb and rubbed it against a sooty mark on Ron's cheekbone.
"See that's kinda nice whereas with mum...that's just rubbing spit on my face!"
"Maybe you'd like to run him a bath as well dear?" Molly interrupted, arms folding across her chest and face flushed with fury.
Ron and Hermione sprang apart and Ron's head almost burst into flames with the ferocity of his blush.
"Sorry Mrs Weasley, I'll just...maybe I can... Ron, can I borrow Pig to let McGonagall know what happened?"
"Go ahead," Ron said, looking at the grass and crippled by humiliation.
"She's still at school and you're still under my roof," Molly said.
Ron lifted his head enough to glance up at the blue sky overhead.
"Oh don't be funny," Molly huffed. "If you want to be treated like a man then act like one and not some hormone crazed teenager."
"I am a teenager, mum."
She turned and walked into the house. Ron heaved a deep sigh and plunged both hands into his hair with a groan.
"You're telling me that the ghoul did something as complex as that?"
"The ghoul bangs about all the time and where does the ghoul live? What's right next to the ghoul? Big chimney stack maybe?"
"The ghoul does nothing. It's not a complex thing like a ghost and it's not destructive, inquisitive or mischievous like a poltergeist. When you put it in your bed disguised as you it just lay there...for months on end!"
"You don't have to be a genius to pick something up you don't understand and throw it down a chimney."
"But you have to be curious and motivated enough to pick something up. The reason the ghoul makes so much noise is because it bounces off the walls. It just travels into them and then falls down. It takes days to get back up again."
"This could have been anything. It could have been an owl dislodging soot. It could have been an old joke from the twins that never worked and years later it activated. You told me that bombs dropped in the Muggle war were still live fifty years later, under the ground."
"Circumstance rarely explains anything that happens to us, Ron."
"So circumstance is impossible?" Ron said with a patronising look as he cocked his head to one side, "You'd have argued the opposite if Trelawney had been declaring that nothing is chance and everything is as she predicted."
"But this is-"
"You can't find an explanation for everything. Sometimes flukes happen and you can't drive yourself nuts just to prove the improbable possible."
"It's your job to find out whys and hows. You're an Auror!"
"And I've seen more things than you know..." something about Hermione's expression made Ron lean away from her in fear of smoke and fire shooting out of her flared nostrils and burning his face off, "...or rather," he paused to force an attempted carefree grin onto his face, "you know everything, don't worry!"
She advanced on him and prodded him hard in the chest with every word.
"You had better tell me everything because I always find out and I will always make you grovel."
"You always want me at your feet don't you?"
She let out a scream, growl and huff in one second.
"You are an infuriating man!"
"Still love me though, right?"
She threw herself into his chest and his slender frame buckled a little before he steadied himself and held her, loosely.
"I always said you were clever."
"Ron, I do," she looked up at him, cheek still pressed against his chest.
"Ron, listen, I do."
His smile dropped into an expression of humbled shock.
"Sorry about that."
"I'll hit you if you talk like that." She warned.
"Sorry, again, I do to. You know I do."
"Absolutely." He nodded.
"You don't think your good enough for me and I don't think I'm good enough for you."
"You're far too good for me," Ron said as he leaned down and kissed her bottom lip.
His fringe tickled her face and she rose up on tip toes and pushed a firmer kiss against his lips.
"You're gorgeous enough to get the most fanciable girl in our year," she spoke against his lips and then held her breath as she slid her hands down to rest upon his bum, "and you might disagree with me most of the time but I love it because I know what it means."
"Oh yeah?" Ron licked his lips and tentatively settled his hands on her bottom too.
"It means you've been listening to me."
"Of course I listen to you."
"Most people let me think I've made my point and then do what they want as if I've said nothing at all."
"Most people being Harry?"
"Of course, you're the only one he's ever listened to." She chuckled and then squeezed his arse before smiling with pride in her own boldness.
"You argue with me and it makes me feel like," he kissed the side of her neck and moved his hands down a little to cup her buttock cheeks, "you think my opinion matters."
"It does, it really does," she gasped before pulling him down by the front of his t shirt and kissing him hard.
The window beside them slid down and banged hard on the 'sill, causing them both to jump.
"Crap house," Ron mumbled as they laughed, nervously, and he tried to slide the window back up again. "Huh, it's stuck now."
"Never mind that, let's get back to-" Hermione was pulling Ron back against her body when Molly's voice called up the stairs to them.
"Did you just close all the windows, Ron?"
Ron groaned and let out a deep sigh as he let his head fall back and stared up at the ceiling.
"The woman's like a contraceptive!"
"Exactly how far did you think we were going to go with this?" Hermione's eyebrows rose high on her forehead and looked smug.
"I know, I know, frigid until after school...you bloody wench!"
"None of that wench talk with me, young man. I'm a mature nineteen year old woman and you're a mere eighteen year old boy."
"Ron," Molly sounded annoyed now, "was it you?"
"No mum, the window just closed itself."
"All of them?" Molly shouted up the stairs to him.
He stepped away from Hermione and stood atop the stairs to look down at his mother.
"Maybe there was a gust of wind."
Hermione stepped into one of the bedrooms, mainly to straighten herself out, and check the window in there. She pulled at it but it wouldn't budge. After trying with her wand and having no success she stepped out and frowned down at Molly.
"The other window up here is jammed too."
"And just when the place needs airing out too," Molly muttered to herself as she stomped off to try and force some of the downstairs windows.
Ron turned back to Hermione and slid his hands around her waist, corners of his mouth curling upwards, and he lowered his head forward to hide within her curtain of bushy hair.
"Now where were we?"
She stepped back just as his lips were reaching for hers, leaving him looking like one of those brass door knockers of a face with a ring in its mouth - sans ring of course.
"Something's not right here," Hermione said with a furrowed brow.
"You want to try to sneak up to my room?" Ron offered.
"Turn your brain back on, Ron," she huffed, slapping him about the head, lightly.
"What?" Ron said, annoyed that the mood had been ruined by his mother, yet again.
"The fireplace is mysteriously disabled and now every window in the building has closed and locked itself? That's kind of ominous don't you think?"
"It's an old magical house," Ron said, banging on one of the walls and receiving a similar bang of reply on the same spot, "stuff like this happens."
"I spent the last eight years surrounded by the magical world, I know when something's out of the ordinary." Hermione huffed.
"Yeah but Hogwarts and the buildings in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade," Ron began before suddenly squirming a little at what he was about to say. "What I mean is, this place was built by my dad and his brother and sister, Uncle Fabian and Uncle Gideon too. None of them are magical architects. The reason it doesn't fall down is because of magic."
Hermione took a moment to judge how best to deal with Ron confessing that they had to live in a family made building because they couldn't afford a properly built home. Rather than sympathy that might cause him to shut her out she chose confrontation.
"They created collapsing chimneys and self locking windows did they?"
"Magic leaves...like a static or something, you know that." Ron tried to inflate his narrow chest in a confidently imposing way.
"Residual magic is one thing but you and I have both learnt not to take safety for granted. I indulged your superstition over Voldermort's name didn't I?"
"Superstition? It was a taboo. I was right to stop you saying it."
"And maybe I'm right to be suspicious of two unusual acts of residual magic happening in the same day."
Ron let out a deep sigh and accepted her point with his silence.
"Ron!" Molly called up the stairs.
"Yes mum," Ron answered, wearily.
"You're not in your room are you?"
He leaned to look down the stairs at her.
"We're not Bill and Fleur you know? We can keep ourselves under control."
"Well, of course you can. I wouldn't accuse Hermione of acting indecently." Molly saw Hermione appearing at Ron's side on hearing her name and she waved a dish cloth at her in greeting. "Hungry dear?"
Ron flung his arms wide and huffed his indignation at the ceiling while Hermione set off down the stairs to help with dinner. Ron stomped up the stairs to his attic room to corrupt himself with his right hand.
It was getting dark outside and the fireplace still wasn't completely cleared for use. While the windows remained jammed shut the front and back doors kept flapping open and banging in the light wind.
"Oh honestly, this house is falling apart," Molly huffed as she cleared away the dishes.
Ron avoided Hermione's significant look and rose from the table, dragging his chair towards the back door and jamming it closed with it.
"Thank you dear." Molly smiled before setting a scrubbing brush on the dishes and then wandering over to pat him on the cheek. "I'll get the cake out of the oven in case anyone calls."
"You wha...Oh yeah!" Ron exclaimed, brightly. "I totally forgot it's Dappy-Door Night. I haven't been home for one of these for eight years."
"What night?" Hermione frowned.
"Dappy-Door night," Molly said as she opened the door of the oven and reeled at the wave of heat that hit her, "Shrove Monday antics by the local children. Fred and George used to love it. I'm surprised George didn't come over for it."
"Maybe he didn't want to do it alone," Arthur said, with discretion.
"No, he wouldn't." Molly agreed as she fanned herself and then dabbed at her eyes with her oven gloves.
"He's forgotten I bet," Ron said as he wandered over to the family clock and looked at George's hand, "the shop's still open anyway. Maybe he's cashing in on mischief night."
"Ron, would you fetch up a bottle of Scrumpy, this'll be the first one since the war ended. I bet we get some slightly older 'kids' tonight."
Ron grinned and clapped his hands together, rubbing them, and set off down the stairs into the compact little cellar through the three foot high door under the stairs.
"I'm still not following this," Hermione shifted in her seat to look at Arthur and Molly, "Is it like Halloween or April Fool's Day?"
"Some people have their mischief night on October the thirtieth, yes, some have it on November the fourth, before Guy Fawkes night, but here in Devon Dappy-Door night is on Shrove Monday."
Hermione straightened up, always eager to learn something new, and was about to ask a follow-up question when something banged against the front door.
"Ah, first one!" Arthur beamed.
"That sounded like a rock or something," Hermione had jumped up from her seat and was looking worried.
"Stones," Molly corrected, "though they should ask for their cake before stoning the door. Some of these new families who moved here from other counties don't understand the traditions."
"What is the tradition?" Hermione asked.
"Well, sing for your supper in a way. If you want cake or cider you have to earn it." Arthur explained as he sat down and folded away the paper. "The real fun comes when the crotchety old witch inside doesn't give you anything."
"What crotchety old witch is this, Arthur?" Molly loomed over him, brandishing a rolling pin and winking at Hermione.
"People like Muriel, dear, you know the types." Arthur beamed up at his wife and she rolled her eyes and gave a tut before turning her attention back to the cooling cakes.
She had a large fruit cake and three trays of fairy cakes. Hermione would never understand how Ron wasn't as fat as Dudley Dursley after a lifetime of his mother's cooking.
"I see by the latch," a sing-song voice was coming from the letterbox in the front door, "There is something to catch."
Ron waddled back through the tiny doorway with the heavy glass bottle of Scrumpy swinging between his legs.
"Godric this is heavy!" He panted.
"I see by the string," the voice sang again.
Ron looked up and wiped his brow with his forearm.
"They've started then?"
"The good dame's within."
"Come on then, my good dame," Arthur squeezed Molly from behind with both arms and chuckled, "better attend to your visitor."
"Give a cake, for I've none; at the door goes a stone," the singing voice began to giggle.
"No stones! I've got cake!" Molly called out and carried a fairy cake towards the front door and opened it wide.
"Come give, and I'm gone!" The beaming little girl sang.
"Oh please don't stone my door," Molly begged, melodramatically, "have one of my cakes, hot from the oven. Mind you don't burn yourself, dear."
She looked down the path to the robed figure standing at the gate.
"Is that your daddy?"
The little girl nodded.
"That's nice of him to come with you so you're not lonely isn't it?" Molly called into the house, "Ron, pour a jot of Scrumpy for the guardian at the gate, he must be getting cold."
The man at the gate pushed back his hood and grinned.
"Thanks Molly, I know it's safe these days but after the past few years..."
"Oh of course, I'd be the same," Molly waved a hand before smiling down at the little girl eating the cake. "She's getting big now isn't she? Not long 'till Hogwarts."
"Daddy says it'll be finished by then," she said, brightly.
"Oh yes, all fixed up, good as new," Molly nodded.
"So it's a lot like Trick or Treating like they do in America," Hermione said to Arthur as she watched.
"Trick or treat is older than that whole country, Hermione. Did you know they claim to have invented apple pie too?" Arthur chuckled.
"Muggles are mad no matter where they come from." Ron said with a shake of the head.
"They don't mean that they invented apple pie, Mr Weasley," Hermione explained, "they just associate it with being American."
"Barmy," Ron said, still shaking his head. "Who associates themselves with a pie?"
"Well the British claim fish and chips to be their own and the potato isn't indigenous to this country is it?"
"Have some cider, Hermione." Ron poured her a jot but she was already refusing it and muttering that he was getting as bad as Harry.
"What have I done now?" Harry's voice called from the fireplace.
"You got it working!" Arthur said with delight.
"Well it wouldn't let me come all the way through but we've managed to get ahead at least," he said with a smirk.
"Exactly like Ron," Hermione groaned.
"Here," Ron said as he crouched before the green flames and held the little cup to Harry's lips, "have a drop of Scrumpy mate."
"Drinking alcohol via Floo is very dangerous, Ron!" Molly gasped. "The phrase for being drunk is legless for a reason you know?"
"What?" Hermione couldn't believe how much she was learning about the wizarding world that night, she thought she'd seen (and read) it all.
"It's like splinching," Ron explained as he got back to his feet, "only via Floo."
"The half on one side gets drunk and the half back where the legs are stay sober. Either they pull back and the top half gets lost to the Floos or they make it back and all the alcohol leaves their head, goes straight to their legs and they can't walk."
"I see by the latch, there's something to catch."
"What's that?" Harry frowned.
"It's Dappy-Door Night," Ron said before pushing the little cup against Harry's lips, "hold it with your teeth and take it back through with you."
"Ugh," Harry didn't really have an option as the rim of the small cup was forced into his mouth, "uh-gay. Gye!"
Harry's head and the cup of Scrumpy vanished and Molly hurried to the front door with her tray of cooling fairy cakes.
"Coming!" She called out as she went.
"I see by the string, the good dame's within."
Ron and Arthur turned and frowned at the back door, side them in the kitchen.
"They've come 'round to this side now," Ron said before opening the door and looking out.
"Shall I cut the cake?" Hermione said as she approached the large fruit cake with a knife.
"They've gone again." Ron huffed.
"They were gone already," Molly said as she returned, "children these days are so impatient!"
"No, they came 'round the back too," Ron said with a shrug, "I reckon they prefer playing knock down ginger than getting the cakes."
"Doing it all wrong," Arthur chuckled and sat down at the table. "I'll have a slice of that cake seeing as you're cutting, Hermione."
"Give a cake, for I've none," the voice sang out again.
"Right!" Ron said as he ran for the front door. "if they won't wait for the cake we go straight for the chase!"
He flung the front door open and bounded out. Hermione could hear giggling and then Ron shouting.
"Want a roasting do ya?"
Arthur laughed louder now.
"Oh George really should have come, he'd have loved it!"
Hermione looked anxious as she passed the slice of fruit cake to Arthur.
"Don't you find it all a bit..."
"At the door goes a stone!" The child-like voice called out before the front door banged as something struck it.
"...sinister?" Hermione said as she jumped, her voice rising into a squeal.
"The well behaved ones have always unsettled me most of all," Arthur said as he took the slice of cake with a gleeful look on his face. "You know, the boys don't really like fruit cake as much as Molly's sponges? Ron's the worst with his sweet tooth."
"Yes," Hermione found herself agreeing while not really paying attention.
"Come give, and I'm gone!" The child's voice was moving past the door and a laugh sounded through the window on the other side of the house.
"I don't like this," Hermione shuddered.
Ron ran, panting, back into the house. He looked incredulous and slightly impressed, must like he did when the twins had done something extraordinarily daring.
"They took my bloody shoes!"
"Oh you weren't going to roast them were you?" Molly huffed as she struck Ron across the back of the head and then ruffled his hair affectionately. "They sang for goodness sake, give them a cake!"
"They're at neither door," Ron said as he grabbed two fairy cakes and marched, barefoot, to the open front door, "Oi! I'm throwing your cakes so come and get them or pick 'em outta the grass!"
He hurled the cakes out and closed the door. Arthur chuckled around his mouthful of fruit cake and Molly picked up a pair of puce fuzzy slippers to offer Ron.
"You are joking, right?" Ron blinked as he stared at them.
"You always come down with a terrible flu when you wander around barefoot in the cold, Ronnie, either wear these or go upstairs and get some thick socks on your feet."
Ron turned to grin at Hermione.
"I'm gonna go and get some socks."
He set off out of the kitchen and grabbed a fairy cake as he went, stuffing it into his mouth and jogging up the stairs while his father laughed and brushed crumbs off his lap.
"See, sweet tooth."
"He used to be in his element at Honeydukes," Hermione said as she peered through the window into the darkness, an anxious look on her face, "he'll never grow out of loving sweets I don't think."
"He's the baby boy, Molly overcompensated I think," Arthur said as he picked a fat sultana off his plate and popped it into his mouth.
"Oh what am I to blame for now?" Molly sighed, wiping her forehead and blowing her fringe from her eyes.
"Well you made such a show of Ginny when you finally got your baby girl and then you became paranoid that little Ronnie would feel as if he was second best. I remember you all distraught and baking gingerbread men for him after hearing Fred telling him that he was a mistake and that you really wanted Veronica and not Ron."
"Oh Fred," Molly sighed and looked away, "he really did torment poor Ronnie."
"He wouldn't stand for it from anyone else," Hermione said as she turned from the window to smile at Molly. It was always best to wait for her to bring Fred's name into things rather than blindside her and risk a tearful withdrawal from the room.
"Yes, he gave a boy from the village a bloody nose because they made Ronnie cry once. He looked me in the eye and said he wasn't sorry, then he called Ron a baby for snivelling and pushed him into the cabbage patch." Molly shook her head in a way that Hermione took to mean she had no understanding of why her boys were the way they were but she doted on them anyway.
Both the front and back doors banged and everybody jumped. Arthur moved to the back door and Molly scurried to the front. Hermione bit her lip and watched as Arthur stooped and picked up one of Ron's missing shoes.
"Well, that's one way to avoid a roasting I suppose," Arthur said with an amused shrug.
"You know," Hermione began, fretfully, "roasting conjures up images of hitting children with the shoes...that's not what it really is though is it?"
"Oh, of course not!" Arthur said with a laugh. "No wonder you look so worried, Ron wasn't about to beat young children you know?"
Molly returned with Ron's other shoe.
"At least they gave them back," she said with a soft smile.
"So what is roasting?" Hermione asked Arthur.
Arthur explained that if the door wasn't answered and an offering not given the door would be battered with stones as an attack on the lack of hospitality. The assailant would then run away, be followed and caught, and brought into the house a prisoner. They would then have to undergo the 'roasting of the shoe'.
"It still sounds like you beat them with a shoe," Hermione winced.
"Well if you think about it, your Guy Fawkes night is pretty nasty stuff," Arthur said as he sat back in his chair, "a terrorist is tortured and executed and you get your little Muggle children to make an effigy of him and collect pennies for his likeness on the street, then they throw him onto a bonfire and watch him burn!"
"When you put it like that..." Hermione gave a one shouldered shrug and sank into a chair at the head of the table.
"On Dappy-Door night the young ones pelt the door with stones and are caught and taken inside where the roasting involves an old shoe being hung up before the fire. The culprit is obliged to keep it in a constant whirl, roasting himself as well as the shoe, till some damsel took compassion on him and let him go."
"So you make little children put their hands into the fire?" Hermione gasped in horror.
"You really did burn Guido Fawkes you know?" Arthur said with an arched eyebrow.
"No we didn't, we hung drew and quartered him!" Hermione protested.
"So much more humane," Molly chuckled.
"You don't really burn people on Guy Fawkes night and we don't really make children put their hands into the fire for throwing stones." Arthur explained.
"Oh," Hermione felt suddenly very foolish, or at least gullible.
"You remind me of Ron so much sometimes," Molly said, warmly. "So literal, so invested in what you're telling him, it's why he never learned not to believe everything Fred told him."
"I'd never have thought anybody could say we were similar at all," Hermione admitted.
"You must have a scientific mind, Hermione," Arthur said, "think of the seven colours of the spectrum."
"I prefer the electromagnetic spectrum," Hermione mumbled, "and scientifically indigo doesn't count as a real colour."
"All those colours, so different, the red and the indigo," Arthur said as he gave her a pat on the back of her hand, "when they all come together they form white light. Split a white light and it fragments into so much colour. You and Ron are the red and the indigo, you think you are so far apart but you are the same."
"The same lovely light," Molly smiled, "like our seven," she looked upset and Hermione knew it was because one of the beautiful colours was lost from her spectrum forever. She wouldn't see that perfect white light until they were all reunited elsewhere, in another life.
There was a knock on the door and children's voices. Hermione excused herself and set off up the stairs. Molly was distracted by thoughts of Fred and the visitors calling for cake, so her mission to preserve her little boy's virtue was temporarily forgotten.
As she climbed the last of the crooked staircases to Ron's bedroom beneath the attic she heard the battering of stones against the windows. Just as she approached 'Ronald's room' the door opened and Ron hurried out, shaking his head.
"Oh, wow, you made it all the way up without being tackled away from my libido? Good for you!" He grinned.
"How are they getting stones all the way up here?" Hermione frowned.
"Magic? Ever heard of it?" Ron teased.
"I don't like this tradition, I'm sorry, it's like...I don't know...it's like harassment or bullying or something."
"Yeah," Ron looked serious and nodded his agreement, "that little girl that came to the door, she was a right thug."
Hermione shoved him in the chest and he sniggered and fell back against his door. She looked at him for a moment and then seized the opportunity and lifted herself right up onto her toes to kiss his smiling lips.
"We were gifted an extra night together, may as well take advantage of it," she said between deep kisses.
"I agree with whatever you just said," Ron said before he leaned down and kissed her again.
She could taste the sweetness of the fairy cake on his tongue.
She was so very glad that it took Molly so many tries before she got her little girl, because she managed to make the perfect man in the process.