Chapter 1 : The Grangers
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“Isn’t this exciting?” Arthur exclaimed, beaming down at the welcome mat that lay on the doorstep. “A real Muggle home and we get to look around!”
“Dad, Hermione’s parents have invited the three of us for tea. You’re not here to raid them!” Ron sighed, ringing the doorbell.
“Really, Ronald, you might have combed your hair!” Molly fussed irritably.
“Seriously, Mum, it’s only tea. I’ve met them loads of time, you’ve met them before, you know Hermione, stop fussing! You wouldn’t fuss like this if you were having tea with Fleur or Audrey or Angelina, or even bloody Harry would you?”
“Well really, Ron, you can’t deny this situation is slightly different!” she replied, dropping her voice slightly as the sounds of footsteps drew closer on the other side of the door.
“Because they’re Mug-” he stopped abruptly as the front door swung open.
Hermione stood on the threshold, beaming at the three Weasleys before her, confident and care-free as if she did this sort of thing every day. “Come on in,” she smiled, holding the door open.
Mr and Mrs Weasley proceeded down the bright airy hallway, but Ron hung back as Hermione closed the door behind them. “Will you calm down?” she whispered, slipping her hand into his. “It’s going to be fine.”
Ron raised a sceptical eyebrow but Hermione smiled encouragingly. He shrugged and together they followed Ron’s parents into the living room, where they could hear loud greetings already being exchanged.
“Mrs Granger!” Mrs Weasley exclaimed, “how lovely to see you again, it really has been too long!”
Mrs Granger smiled warmly¸ “Please, call me Jean,” she said, taking Molly’s coat.
“We tried to dress like Muggles, you know,” Arthur added, passing his own jacket to an utterly bemused Dr Granger. “What do you think?” he twirled round to show off his brand-new suit with sharply pressed creases, a bright yellow shirt, and a pair of highly polished trainers. In doing so, he knocked over an ornately patterned vase from a nearby shelf. It wobbled precariously for a fraction of a second, before falling to the ground, where it lay in a pile of shattered fragments.
Dr Granger’s eyes widened, Ron pressed a long-suffering hand over his face and Molly turned a magnificent shade of red. Jean bustled about, looking for a brush to clean up the mess, bating away the mingled apologies of the Weasleys with a wave of her hand. “Really, it’s fine, we never liked it that much anyway, a wedding present from my mother-in-law!”
Hermione stepped forward, crouching down beside her mother. “Mum, let me.” She quietly took her wand out of her pocket, muttered a quick “Reparo” and the shattered pieces grouped together to reform the broken vase. “Good as new!”
Still, despite the newly repaired vase, a feeling of awkwardness hovered in the air. Ron stared pointedly at Hermione, who turned away at once. They could still salvage the situation, they had to.
“Tea anyone?” Hermione said, in an overly bright voice, gesturing to the table behind them.
Relieved at the opportunity to move on, Jean snatched up the teapot at once, pouring the steaming liquid into six china cups. Completely unabashed, Arthur accepted his cup, still beaming round at the living room. Ron could see his father peering interestedly at the television and prayed he wouldn’t get up to examine it.
“So, Mr Granger,” Molly began, nudging Arthur in the ribs to draw him back to the conversation, “do tell us about your work. We’ve always been fascinated to know, haven’t we, Arthur?”
Arthur nodded gravely. “I’ve heard it’s a rather dangerous profession, looking after Muggle teeth.”
Mr Granger looked rather startled. “Well, erm, dentistry isn’t exactly dangerous, though I suppose a few of the instruments might be considered a bit hazardous if you aren’t experienced enough. The drill, for instance, can sometimes-”
“I know exactly what you mean, Mr Granger,” Arthur said, nodding knowledgeably. “I came across a drill once, on a raid you know. Fascinating thing, though I didn’t want to get to close to it. Someone had enchanted it to grow teeth and bite the person using it! Dreadful really, but there you go.”
Mr Granger leaned forwards interestedly. “What exactly is your line of work? Oh, and by the way, please call me Hugh.”
Arthur looked delighted. “Well, Hugh,” he said in the tone one might use when addressing one’s oldest friend. “I’m glad you mentioned that. I work in the Ministry of Magic, you see, and have done since I left Hogwarts. Originally I worked in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes, in the Muggle-Worthy Excuse Committee, but unfortunately they seemed to think I spent too much time talking to the Muggles in question, so that was no good. Then I got transferred to The Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office with a chap called Perkins, lovely man that...”
As Arthur rambled on, glad to have such an attentive audience, and Hugh nodded along as if he was familiar with the workings of the Ministry of Magic, Jean sat back and surveyed the scene over the rim of her teacup. She never imagined she’d find herself in this situation; inviting her daughter’s wizard boyfriend and his equally magical parents over to their house for tea. But then again, she never imagined that her daughter would be magical either.
She still couldn’t believe it sometimes that her daughter, her Hermione, was a witch, that magic was real. It was hard not to feel resentful of the Magical World sometimes. One day they had taken her daughter and their lives were never the same again. Of course, Hermione was happy, far happier than she’d ever been before, and that was all that mattered. Still, it had been a shock when her daughter returned home each summer, full of news about her friends and their adventures. There was Harry, whose parents had died and who was something of a hero in the magical world, and Ron who was really nice most of the time, and then someone called Viktor had come along and asked her to a Christmas ball. But the letters had frightened her too. Creatures and scenarios that only existed in storybooks were suddenly making themselves existent; a troll that nearly killed her in a bathroom, a letter from the headmaster informing them that their daughter had been Petrified, whatever that meant, but not to worry because matters were well under control, a necklace that would allow her to go back in time to take extra lessons.
But she could always tell that Hermione was hiding things from her too. In more recent years, she had returned from school for shorter periods of time, looking anxious, before saying she had to go and stay with her friends. The headmaster had died, she said, and from what she could gather from Hermione, he had been killed by another teacher. Then came that strange day about a year ago, when she had woken, as if out of a trance, to find herself and Hugh in a dental surgery in Austrailia, with Hermione hugging them desperately, tears in her eyes as she told them she hadn’t seen them in a year.
She couldn’t be angry with her. Once the initial shock wore off that they had somehow misplaced a year of their lives, Hermione explained to them exactly what had happened; she had somehow changed their memories and sent them off to Austrailia where they would be safe, while she battled to bring down the notorious dark wizard. Still, they were all together again, and they were safe and happy. She was glad Hermione was so content to be with this Ron, the boy who featured so heavily in her letters over the years. ‘Ron’s one of my best friends, Mum, him and Harry. I didn’t think they liked me very much but on Halloween, a troll got into the castle, don’t worry, everything was fine, and they saved me from it. You should have seen it, Mum, it was brilliant!’ ‘I am never speaking to Ron again, ever! I can’t believe I was ever friends with someone like him, and all because of his stupid, mangy rat!’ ‘The Yule Ball was great, Mum, everyone seemed to like my dress robes. Viktor was lovely the whole evening, a real gentleman, but then Ron had to go and spoil everything! He asked me to the ball a few days before as if he’d only just realised that I was a girl, and then made fun of me the whole time!
“So, after that, they set up a whole new office, you see, what with all the business with You-Know-Who, people decided to take advantage of the situation. I got promoted up to Head of the Office for the Detection and Confiscation of Counterfeit Defensive Spells and Protective Objects. Ten people reporting to me, imagine!” Arthur broke off, smiling for a moment at the memory. Molly rolled her eyes but Jean had to laugh at the earnest expression on Hugh’s face as he nodded along with the story.
“Is that what you’d like to do, Ron, work in the, er, Ministry?” Jean asked, looking kindly at Ron who jumped and managed to slop half his tea down his front.
“Me? I could never do what Dad does!” he spluttered. “I had thought about maybe going into the Auror-”
“Dark wizard catchers,” Hermione explained hurriedly.
“Oh yeah, sorry,” Ron said sheepishly. “I had thought about going into Auror training but at the minute, I’m just helping out my brother, George, at his shop after my other brother, well, you know...”
He trailed off somewhat awkwardly, as Arthur and Molly exchanged small, sad smiles and Hermione covered his hand with hers.
“You’re awfully brave, you know,” Jean said suddenly. “All of you. Hermione told us all about the, uh, war at Hogwarts. I couldn’t imagine going through everything that you have, and we,” she indicated herself and her husband, “we really admire you for it.”
There was a moment of stunned silence as the meaning of these words was contemplated. “Well that’s very kind of you,” Molly said finally.
“And I’d also like to say how grateful we are to you for looking after Hermione whenever we, whenever we couldn’t,” Jean continued, a pink blush now creeping into her cheeks. “I know you had your work cut out already, and you didn’t need to look after her when you had all your own children, but you did anyway, and well, we’re very grateful you did.”
“Not at all,” Molly said softly. “Hermione’s always been very welcome at the Burrow, she knows that. And now, well, there’s never a quiet moment at the Burrow anyway, what with everyone traipsing in and out all the time, so what’s another one?”
Hermione smiled gratefully at Ron’s mum, who returned it at once. Arthur sat back, beaming at them all as he reached for a biscuit from the plate in front of them.
“Isn’t this lovely?” he said happily, dipping his biscuit into his tea with a grin. “Here we all are, getting along splendidly, Ron was so worried I’d embarrass him in front of you, weren’t you son? But I said to him, if I can get along with the Delacours, our eldest, Bill, married a French girl you see, then the Grangers and I will get along like a house on fire! But now, you really must tell me,” his voice took on an uncharacteristically serious tone, and Ron suddenly busied himself with his cup, afraid of what was coming next. “I really have been dying to know, how exactly, if you don’t mind me asking, do aeroplanes stay up?”
As Hugh leaned in to explain as best he could to an eager Arthur, Molly and Jean exchanged bemused smiles. Raising her eyebrows slightly, Hermione once again slipped her hand into Ron’s.
“What did I tell you?” she whispered. “I told you everything would work out fine, didn’t I?”
Unfortunately, her words were drowned out by a loud smash as Arthur’s cup sailed from his now outstretched hand and clattered to the floor. Moaning quietly, Ron buried his face in his hands as Hermione leapt up to help once more.