A/N. I know, it's been a while, my lovely Holiday fans. I was very distracted by my Tricksters (fans of Trick of Time). If you have a clever name to call yourselves, the Holiday fans, then put it in a review *smiles*
I had the baby! Yey! He's a beautiful baby boy and if you want to know his name... you must read Trick of Time! MWAHAHAHA! (shameless self-advertising). Or, you know, you can just read the last few author's notes on that story, or just the reviews, but... well, that would kind of being cheating, wouldn't it?
I've posted a new story entitled As Summers Die. It's another time-travel story (my very last one! No more wacky timeline issues for this author!) and its about Hermione (of course... I always write about Hermione...) and Lucius Malfoy, who I may or may not have a bad-boy crush on.
Little recap: Hermione, Fred, Ron, and Pansy have been caught for their fake romances by the family (Ron opened his big gob) and are faced with disqualification in the Couples Cup. During this madness, Gabi decides to give her girlfriend Ginny some sugar in front of everyone.
And yes, I DID think up the game of Stone, Cloak, Wand... so if you want to use it, please just ask first *smiles*
Chapter Sixteen: Three Legs, Four People
"Does this mean we're still in the game?"
"Fred, what does your sister coming out of the closet and your mother's hospitalization have anything to do with our rule-breaking?" Hermione asked, quirking an eyebrow at her boyfriend.
"Well, Mum fainted, so I reckon we've got bigger problems now," he answered. "I was kind of hoping everyone forgot."
Hermione shook her head. "I can't believe, of all times to worry about the Cup, you've chosen right now to worry about it."
The waiting room at St. Mungo's had never been so packed. Those with small children had stayed back at the Burrow, but the rest of them were taking up every inch of space in every waiting room on every level.
"And trust me, we haven't forgot," Percy said grumpily, sitting a few chairs over. Audrey sat next to him, her ankles crossed, and looking quite nervous. It wasn't every day you went to a picnic with your boyfriend ending with a trip to the hospital. "You still cheated."
"Will you shut up about that?" Bill growled from where he stood across the way, leaning against a wall. "You're just arse-sore because it's taken you a decade to get a girlfriend and it only took Fred a few days."
"This is so weird..." Amy mumbled, looking beyond the room to the corridors leading to the emergency wards. "There's no machinery or anything." Her eyes widened when she saw a patient being levitated.
"Shh..." George whispered. "Don't look so curious. If they find out you're a Muggle, they'll kick you out and end up getting Obliviated at the Ministry."
Amy closed her mouth. She had no clue what it meant to be Obliviated, but it didn't sound very nice at all.
Ron was pouting and Pansy was filing her nails. She was obviously unconcerned about everything that was going on - the potential disqualification, Mrs. Weasley's fainting episode - and Ron was just hacked off.
"You can both be kicked out of the game," George said. "It would be dreadfully boring with less people."
"And the board is already bewitched for six teams," Ron pointed out, a bit too quickly.
"Well... Gabi and I could take one of those slots," Ginny said, sounding hopeful. She and Gabi were sitting not far from Ron and Pansy. Gabi looked terribly guilty as she tapped her foot and held her girlfriend's hand.
"Yeah, but that leaves one more... and the way the scoreboard works is that there has to be six active teams," Fred points out. "Dad made it himself."
"And that's supposed to mean it works?"
"Shut up, Pansy," the twins, Bill, and Percy said all at once.
"I have an idea!" Amy said, sitting up straighter. "How about only one couple gets disqualified. They can compete to determine which leaves and which keeps playing."
Everyone stared at her for a while. Slowly, Amy's confident smile fell as the creeping feeling that she said something wrong came over her. She shrunk back in her seat.
"That's... brilliant!" Hermione said.
Everyone was nodding in agreement, Bill looking distinctly impressed. George gave Amy a big wet kiss on her cheek.
"What will the competition be, though?" Pansy asked, one sharp eyebrow raised. The Slytherin ambition in her was shining through.
"Eating contest!" Ron exclaimed.
"No," Hermione said, very firmly. "Ronald, you could put away a Hippogriff without blinking. It has to be fair."
"We could play Stone Cloak Wand," Fred said.
Hermione and Amy both looked equally confused.
"You've never heard of it before?" Fred asked Hermione.
She shook her head.
"Well, it's a hand game with the Deathly Hallows," Fred explained. "Wand destroys Cloak, Cloak covers Stone, Stone breaks Wand."
"Rock Paper Scissors!" Amy and Hermione said in unison, their eyes bright and wide.
"Whassat?" Ron asked, brow furrowed.
Amy and Hermione shared a Muggle moment, shaking their heads.
"Let me guess, you form your hands like this," Amy said. She and Hermione made their hands flat, then clenched them into fists, and finally they altered the "scissors" symbol by just poking out their pointer finger.
Harry, from behind them, shook his head. "I can't believe this is a game. I've had enough of the Deathly Hallows for a lifetime."
"Don't be a sourpuss," George told him teasingly. "We can't all take credit for owning the Cloak, breaking the Wand, and losing the Stone."
"He dropped it in a forest," Fred said mournfully, shaking his head. "One of the most powerful magical objects of all time."
"It's better there, trust me," Harry mumbled. Luna squeezed his hand sympathetically.
"Wait," Ron said, holding up a hand. "Isn't Hermione learning Legilimency for her work at the Ministry? Isn't playing Stone Cloak Wand with a Legilimens counterproductive?"
"I'm shocked you know the word counterproductive," Percy sniffed. "Much less how to apply it correctly in conversation."
"Shut up, Perce," Ron grumbled.
"It's not as if I have my wand out," Hermione pointed out.
"Well, I dunno how you mind-readers work," Ron said defensively. "How can we really know for sure if you need your wand?"
"Snape didn't need his wand for it," Harry said, playing devil's advocate between his friends.
"See!" Ron said triumphantly. "It wouldn't be fair."
Fred and Hermione huffed. This was going to take forever.
Strolling into the waiting room came Arthur Weasley and they all turned, eager to hear the news on Molly.
Arthur straightened his glasses, looking at all of them strangely. "All of you are still here? Mum was sent home an hour ago. Didn't you hear? No wonder the house seemed so empty."
"This isn't fair! Hermione is a... muggle-born," Pansy sneered. "I've never heard of this bloody game in my entire life!"
Everyone rolled their eyes. They were all quickly getting sick of Pansy's whining ever since the announcement of what would be the competition between the two rule-breaking teams.
"It's not just a Muggle game," Hermione said for the thousandth time. "It's mostly magical."
"Still," Pansy said as Arthur approached her and Ron with a length of rope. "What does tying our legs together have to do with anything?"
Hermione tested moving her and Fred's conjoined legs. They were bound together by a charmed piece of rope. It was unbreakable and unable to be untied by anyone other than Mr. Weasley. Hermione yanked her ankle and Fred stumbled.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Hermione said, biting her lip and grabbing his shirt as he rebalanced.
"It's alright, love," Fred said, giving her hand a squeeze. "We've got this thing in the bag. Ron can't walk with two feet let alone adding a third."
"It's a very simple game," Uncle Bilius said, crossing his arms. "Tied to your partner, you race through the maze. First one to emerge from the exit -" he pointed to the arch in the corn a few yards from the entrance arches - "wins their slot on the scoreboard. The other couple gets disqualified from the Couples Cup altogether, replaced by our lovely resident Ladies in Love, Ginny and Gabi - whom I love unconditionally, with no regard for sexual preference at all."
Ginny smirked. "Thanks, Uncle Bilius."
He winked at his niece. "Always, Little Gin. Now, you two sets of cheaters, hand over your wands and hobble your way on over to your gates."
The sun was in the middle of setting, and Hermione wondered how dark it would be in the maze once night fell completely.
"I can't see a bloody thing."
"Can you shorten your stride just a tad, maybe? You have really long legs."
"Admiring my legs, are you?"
Hermione chuckled. "If I could see, perhaps. But I can't."
"How long have we been in here?"
"Well, I'd look at my watch, but I don't have my wand to make a light so I can see the watch. But I'd guess an hour."
"Why don't we try that trick where we put our hand on the left wall and follow that until we find our way out," Fred suggested. "Isn't that a thing?"
"Well... we could try, I suppose, but isn't this a magical maze? The paths change, don't they?"
There was a long pause as they walked. "You know what?" Fred finally said. "I have no fucking clue. This could be as Muggle as Amy and I wouldn't be able to tell you."
"How do you think Ron and Pansy are doing?"
"Well, if I know my brother - and I like to think that I do - then he's probably already neared starvation and has started gnawing on Pansy's hands."
"Or she's started gnawing off her own leg just to get away from him."
"Good point," Fred said.
"So, I have a question."
"Yes, my beautiful, very real-and-not-fake girlfriend?"
"When you and George are together, you're pretty in-sync, right? Well, what happens when you're apart. Like right now. Are you two still in sync, do you know what the other is thinking...?" She knew it was a stupid question, but it'd bugged her since she met them. Hermione had this theory that the connection between a set of Muggle twins and the connection between a set of wizarding twins were different.
"You see, George and I having been fooling everyone this entire time," Fred said.
Hermione's eyes got big and listened eagerly. "Really?"
"Really. The truth is... there's only one of us. I ate George in the womb and duplicated myself, so really it's just two Me's."
Hermione yanked her ankle away hard and listened as Fred fell to the ground with a loud thump.
"Was that necessary?" he groaned from the ground.
The smirk could be heard in her voice. "It was."
"I hate you," Pansy said with pure, unfiltered loathing. "I cannot believe I let you of all people talk me into coming to this stupid, ginger picnic, littered with blood traitors and Muggles."
"Well, I'm not exactly thrilled with you either, Pansy," Ron said, sounding miffed. "If you'd just bloody kissed me when Gabi was messing with us -"
"All you said I had to do this week, Weasley, was win a blasted Cup with a bunch of your idiot cousins," Pansy said, stopping short and causing Ron to trip into the wall to their right. "My going out with you after Brown dumped your sorry arse was a lapse in judgment, and if you remember correctly - you ended it with me. So don't act all indignant that I didn't want your tongue anywhere near mine."
"Don't tell me the infamously cold-hearted Pansy Parkinson actually had hurt feelings," Ron said, rolling his eyes and stuffing his hands in his pockets.
"No!" Pansy said snidely. "You're just a lousy kisser and I didn't want to relive the horrors of it."
"For a Slytherin, you're a pretty shite liar, Pansy."
"I'd rather be a Slytherin who can't like than a cowardly Gryffindor."
Pansy was expecting Ron to get all angry and hard-headed and mumble out some sort of string of swears. She hadn't expected to have her face caught between his two rather large hands and have his mouth crash onto hers. Since it was dark, only half his mouth made onto hers, but with a quick readjustment, their lips were aligned and he was kissing her hard.
Pansy was about to knee him in the bollocks with his own knee when her face and neck got hot. She'd kissed Weasley before, but he was normally all nervousness and hesitance. But now he was kissing her... well, with determination.
As a Slytherin, she respected that.
Respected it so much in fact, she decided she might just let him shag her in the middle of the maze.
And he did.
Ron grinned and gave himself a mental pat on the back. Not so cowardly now, am I?
Challenge: 1. Favorite part and line? 2. Who's going to make it out of the maze first? 3. Oh, jeez, Ron and Pansy. What will happen with those two?
~ So Long And Thanks For All The Fish ~