AN: AU! Thank you so much to my first reviewers ever! You're all lovely! I felt warm inside all day from your kind words ^_^ Thank you, also, Wikipedia for providing a few historical facts. Takes place 2 years or so after Moldy Voldy's demise and a few months after Summer Heat. Not mine. Don't sue.
Autumn Air - Part 1
Hermione sat beside Severus on a large, smooth log beside a now dwindling fire. Scorch marks marred the empty picnic tables and grassy field around them, but the stars in the wide expanse of sky above were shining bright and clear. She leaned her head against his sturdy shoulder and as he gathered her closer, Hermione thought that she had never been happier.
It had all started with a vague reference by one, Arthur Weasley, to the Hogwarts Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, one evening at Order Headquarters in hearing of all of Mr. Weasley's children. Being curious, the Weasley offspring, talked a bit about it amongst themselves, but none knew what Mr. Weasley meant by it. "Oi, Hermione," Ron called across the overloaded dining table at the Burrow. "What is Guy Fawkes Night? Dumbledore was saying it that it was in a few days and we might like to observe it. My dad said it's 'a fitting muggle celebration for our family and friends.' What do you reckon he means by that? Is it like Christmas?" Arthur Weasley was, at the moment, late in coming home in time for dinner from the Ministry of Magic and was thus unable to answer the questions that had been bandied about during supper.
"Hm. Well," Hermione set her dessert spoon down beside her empty chocolate ice cream bowl as every red head at the table and one scruffy black head turned toward her, "Guy Fawkes Night is a holiday created to celebrate the survival of a king after a nearly carried out assassination attempt. The conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, sought to replace the Protestant king, James I, with a Catholic monarch by igniting barrels of gunpowder beneath Parliament. The plot was nearly executed when the Guy Fawkes was caught and arrested. Many people celebrated by lighting bonfires around London. The date even became an official public day of thanks for the plot's defeat. Eventually the holiday was connected with other things and effigies of Guy Fawkes and other hated figures were burnt. But essentially, it was a holiday to celebrate the failed attempt of conspirators to overtake the country by way of killing the king and other important men they thought beneath unworthy and replacing them with a government that conformed more to their beliefs."
Many pairs of eyes blinked at her. She rolled her own and sighed, smiling. "If you did a bit of light research you'd see that Guy Fawkes Night is also called Bonfire Night and, nowadays, people celebrate with bonfires, fireworks, and drinking. Plus you can burn a straw effigy of Voldemort if you like."
Loud whoops and laughter filled the room. Phrases like, "That's bloody brilliant!" and "Need to start planning now!" were shouted across the table. Hermione saw Ginny and Molly, shaking their heads and ruefully smiling. She heard Molly mutter, "Better restock on burn potions, then," as she walked past with a platter of cauldron cakes in her hands.
Thus, to Arthur's delight, began the planning of the first annual Weasley-style Bonfire Night. A lovely, flat field two hills away from the Burrow was unanimously designated the site of the much anticipated bonfire. The invitations, written by Arthur, were sent out by Halloween to at least 50 people, including much of the Hogwarts staff, the Weasley's old school friends, and other wizarding family neighbors, including the Lovegoods. All of the Weasleys, Harry and Hermione requested leave from their various careers, apprenticeships, and quidditch contracs to help set up. Hermione and Harry put up the anti-muggle charms the day before while Ginny and Molly cooked up a feast in the kitchen. George and Fred were, naturally, placed in charge of all pyrotechnics, Ron, the wood gathering and straw effigies. Percy volunteered to acquire all liquid refreshments while Charlie was to stir up his own batch of dragon-strength burn potion. Bill and Fleur were to help provide seating and eating surfaces, seeing as how the now very pregnant Fleur would be the most in need of a comfortable chair throughout the night.
Guests began to arrive at sundown, a pathway of single torches, set a fair distance apart from each other, led them from the Burrow to the site. A groaning buffet table, also surrounded by torches, was the first thing partygoers saw as they entered the field. Next to it sat another table loaded with bottles and punch bowls surrounded by neat rows of the best quality refill-charmed glasses ala Percy. Near the two refreshment tables, picnic tables and benches covered in lovely, light blue table cloths were set for relaxing. One large, smooth log was provided to sit near the fire. The bonfire was just being lit 'the muggle way' (which was, for some reason, a flint and rock) by the twins and Ron, and all men in the vicinity flocked toward the teepee like wooden structure like children to candy. Much manly grunting and good natured ribbings were traded when the promised flames did not appear. Hermione tossed them a barbecue lighter she'd brought for just such an instance and the men roared and clapped with accomplishment when the click of the lighter produced a spark that actually caught the wood.
Merrymakers were dressed casually in warm muggle clothing or warm casual robes in deference to the cool autumn air. Hermione had opted for denim jeans, her softest, olive green jumper, her favorite pair of knee high, black leather boots, and one of the many scarves she owned that had been knitted lovingly by Molly. Most of the younger half of the crowd were dressed similarly, while the older generation looked just as comfortable in their well worn robes.
Nearly everyone had arrived by the time the sun was completely down and Ginny turned on their portable Wizarding Wireless and put an amplifying charm on it with a flick of her wand. The Weird Sister's new hit was booming and people began dancing around the fire. Hermione, Luna, Ron, Ginny, Harry, Draco, Gred, Forge, Angelina, Percy, Penny, Blaise, Charlie, Lee, Seamus, Dean, Parvati, Padma, Cho, and handful more Hogwarts mates began dancing beside the fire like it was a live concert. Soon, as the more alcoholic drinks were consumed, they began jumping wildly round the flames like some kind of ancient ritual. Little Teddy sat in Andromeda's lap as a giggling Tonks pulled a half-heartedly protesting Lupin into the circle. Even Bill and Fleur had a go, two pairs of feet, one set large, the other slightly swollen, moving swiftly to the heavy bass. Most of the older generation were drinking heartily as well, but were exchanging raunchy stories or gambling with cards and sickles at the picnic tables instead, their uproarious laughter filling the air. Molly's delicious food was decidedly the hit of the party, as per usual, and she spied with satisfaction very many happy, rounded bellies sitting around her.
The invited Hogwarts staff were the last to arrive. Minerva, Filius, Pomona, Rolanda, Albus, and Severus walked up the torchlit path. Dumbledore and Snape stopped near the last torch while the others made their way toward the inviting picnic tables and drinks. Taking in the sight of the dancing, laughing, merry making people who had suffered so much in the wars past, Albus had to blink away the moisture that had suddenly filled his ancient blue eyes. He sucked in a deep satisfying breath of the chilly air and sighed. "Everything was worth it, wasn't it Severus? All the sacrifices, all the hardship?" he murmured, still watching the many people.
Snape's eyes, however, were riveted to only one person- a slight, curvy figure, silhouetted in the firelight, long curls bouncing around her laughing face as she danced - when he answered softly, "Yes. Yes, it was."
AN: AH! Wrote for 3 1/2 hours and I only get about 1400 words? Ugh. That's all I can write tonight. This part started out as a tiny idea that turned into something of a monster. Autumn will be split into 2 parts. Part 2 should have a bit of introspection and explanation as to how this world ended up so AU. Oh yah, and smut! After that - Winter and Spring! Tell me what you think and please review!