The Sugar Quill
Author: Genesse (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Friendly Twin Advice  Chapter: To Hermione, Early Summer
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Important Legal Jargon: As much as I want to, I do not own anything you recognise in this story.



Friendly Twin Advice


To Hermione, Early Summer


‘Mrs Weasley, do you know where Ginny is?’

‘She’s out in the garden picking some rosemary for me. I dare say she’ll be in, in a moment.’

Molly Weasley looked up from the article on the amiable effects of rosemary in cooking and potion-making she was reading in Witch Weekly. Hermione’s eyes were swollen, as if she had been crying in Ginny’s room for the last two hours.

Which Hermione had been. That cheeky… boy! she had fumed. He, who had the audacity to call her his friend, was the most thoughtless… boy! And while what he said did upset Hermione, she was just as upset with herself for letting such a remark affect her so. She had spent the better part of the afternoon alternately crying over Ron’s thoughtlessness and rubbing her eyes angrily in hopes that the tears would stop falling.

Molly considered Hermione for a moment before cautiously asking, ‘Dear, what’s wrong?’ although she knew exactly why Hermione had been upset. They are both 16 years old, Molly reminded herself. This will blow over soon and everything will be better than before.

‘Oh, nothing, Mrs Weasley.’

‘Now, now, why don’t you sit down in the living room. I’ll get you a nice cup of tea and when Ginny comes in, I’ll let her know that you would like to speak with her.’

She nodded. ‘Okay.’ She gave a small sniff and stepped lightly into the next room.

A mother knows. Even better, Molly Weasley knows. And Molly was certainly a mother. But just because she did know, it didn’t mean she could interfere at every step. She had learned that the hard way with Bill. And Charlie. And Percy. And Fred and George. But as much as Molly wanted to go after Hermione and tell her how much her son—and her entire family—liked her, she was determined not to interfere with Ron’s personal life.

That is, she was determined not to interfere too much.

Molly, like all the other Weasleys, had spent the last three days tiptoeing around Ron and Hermione. Frankly, she was tired of it. She longed to say something but could not because of the pact she had made with herself. Maybe I’ll use rosemary often in my cooking while Hermione is staying with us. Just in case. That thought vaguely amused Molly.

And that was why she resigned herself, for the time being, to only pointing her wand at a tea kettle as she put the tea service on a tray.

‘Is this enough rosemary, Mum?’ Ginny asked as she came inside from the garden. She held out a very small canvas bag to her mother.

‘Yes, it is, thank you, dear. Rosemary is very pungent. That’ll be enough for tonight.’ Molly handed Ginny the tea service. ‘I believe that Hermione is ready to talk. She’s sitting in the living room.’

Ginny rolled her eyes as she pushed open the kitchen door with her hip. As much as she was loath to get in the middle of Ron and Hermione’s increasingly awkward and tension-filled relationship (Ginny had been the first to start tiptoeing), she knew that—this time—she needed to be Hermione’s ally.

After several minutes, giggling and half-hearted protesting was heard from the living room, Ginny having told Hermione about Ron’s resigned mutterings about chess, strategy and pawns. Molly knew that all was nearly right in the Burrow and briefly considered eavesdropping—with six teenagers and Arthur living at the Burrow, Molly needed all the help she could get—but decided against it when the front door slammed.

Harry and the twins came indoors from setting up enough tables in the garden to seat everyone. Since Harry had arrived very late the night before (Professors Dumbledore and Flitwick had to finish putting up all the enchantments and charms that would allow Harry to move about the property with minimal supervision), the Weasleys decided to celebrate that night.

Harry glanced at Ginny and Hermione, gave them a quick smile and wave, and trod purposefully up the stairs. Fred and George, on the other hand, made themselves comfortable on either side of Hermione, George pushing Ginny off the threadbare sofa in the process. Ginny cast George a dark look as she rubbed her elbow and sat gingerly on a nearby chair. George glanced at Fred and Fred nodded at George.

‘Ah, what are you two lovely ladies—’

‘—doing inside on such a beautiful summer’s evening?’

‘They must be talking about boys, Fred.’

‘Most certainly, George, for what else would Ginny and Hermione talk about?’

‘Well, there are many subjects that could come up. Such as tall boys—’

‘—and short boys—’

‘—and fat boys—’

‘—and skinny boys—’

‘—and bespectacled boys—’

‘—and boys who play Quidditch—’

‘—but I think Hermione most likes to talk about… cute boys.’

‘I’ll beg to differ with you, George, on that. I think Hermione knows her fair share of ugly boys that need discussing.’

‘Personally, I only know cute boys, except for those two presumptuous twins who left Hogwarts last term,’ Hermione interrupted. ‘What about you, Ginny?’

‘Well, there is Smelly Kenneth in Ravenclaw.’

‘I can’t believe that name stuck.’ Fred sniggered.

‘Well, I believe that you and George did more than your fair share in perpetuating that name among all the students at Hogwarts. And a fair few of the teachers.’ Hermione looked distinctly unimpressed.

‘And it didn’t help that he fell into the portable swamp a few times,’ Ginny pointed out.

‘Now, now, that’s in the past and that’s where it should stay. But come now, Hermione, tell us what’s bothering you.’

‘Well… I’d rather not talk about it with you, George—or you, Fred,’ Hermione said before Fred could offer his services.

‘Hermione,’ Fred admonished (since Hermione had been too quick to decline his unoffered offer), ‘you really don’t want us to try our Sincerity Sweets on you, do you?’

‘Sincerity Sweets?’ Hermione asked. ‘You wouldn’t!’

‘Specially commissioned.’

‘Easily concealed.’

‘Hermione, maybe Fred and George can offer a bit of advice. They’ll find out soon enough either way,’ Ginny pointed out.

‘We humbly offer any advice—’

‘Logical and practical advice,’ Hermione interjected.

‘Right in one. We humbly offer any logical and practical advice we may be able to afford to you, Hermione. And any other young lady who may be seeking such advice but is unwilling to admit it.’

Ginny knew that comment was obviously meant for her, but she wouldn’t acknowledge it. It took all of her self-control, but she would not flinch. She was quite relieved when George turned his attention back to Hermione.

‘Well, George, that’s nice of you to offer, but I think I can handle Ron—’

‘What’s our baby brother done now?’

‘Well, Ron told Hermione—’ Ginny started.

‘Ron was being his normal insensitive self,’ Hermione interrupted as she glanced at Ginny. She felt that no more needed to be said.

‘That’s not what we heard,’ the twins chorused in unison.

Which was true. The twins had heard the whole story from Harry a few minutes after they arrived at the Burrow after closing shop, and Harry—in the first burst of good will he’d had since he’d arrived—had heard the story from Ginny while Ron strategized in his room and Hermione cried in Ginny’s.

While Harry and Fred and George arranged the tables, they decided that something—anything, really—needed to be done. No-one wanted to spend the rest of the holidays tiptoeing around Ron and Hermione. They mutually decided that Harry would speak with Ron and that the twins would gang up on Hermione to discuss what had happened.

Hermione and Ginny had decided, after lunch, to do a little reading in the shade. Apparently, Ron was having none of that, and had demanded that they all do something together, even though Harry had asked for some time alone. That had been when the shouting started.

I’m oblivious?’

‘Yes, you are, Ronald Weasley.’

‘I think you have that backwards, Hermione Granger. I’m not the one with my nose stuck in a book all day long when I could be—’

‘Could be what?’

‘When I could be enjoying life! Spending time with me… and Harry!’ he had hurriedly tacked on.

‘With you and Harry?’

‘I don’t see why you can’t be a little friendlier!’

‘Unbelievable!’

‘What’s unbelievable?’ Ron had asked. He had honestly been confused.

‘You are! We’re not still in first year, Ron. I’m not going to run to cry in the toilet because of you again.’

‘At least you were human back then.’

He’s gone too far, Ginny had thought. She won’t stand for that. Sure enough, Hermione had stood up and walked stiffly into the house.

Ginny had shaken her head at Ron. ‘You could be a little more polite, Ron.’

‘Not you, too!’

‘I’m not saying anything about it, Ron, just that you could have been more polite than to call Hermione “inhuman”.’

‘Yeah, do you reckon that was a bit rude?’

Ginny had just stared at Ron. He didn’t notice the incredulous look on Ginny’s face. He had started muttering about strategy and chess and pawns as he stalked back to the house.

But that had happened several hours earlier and, just as they did at Hogwarts, rumours at the Burrow tended to have lives of their own.

‘What did you hear?’ Hermione demanded of the twins, not really wanting to hear the argument repeated.

‘Nothing that wouldn’t violate the oath of brotherhood we Weasley men have all made.’

‘Right you are, George. All we can say about your situation is this: Boys are unreliable.’

‘Take Ron for instance—’

‘—he’s a boy in practically every way—’

‘—impolite—’

‘—uncertain—’

‘—can only think of things in Quidditch terms—’

‘—or chess terms—’

‘—and the git can’t decide upon anything for the life of him—’

‘—except if it has to do with food.’

‘The point being?’ Hermione asked.

‘The point being that sometimes boys need a little encouragement to show them that you are…’ George stopped a moment while he searched for the right turn of phrase, ‘willing to accept his attentions.’

‘What makes you think that he’s—’

‘And there’s a way for you, or any girl, to show that certain “keeper” that you are willing to accept them,’ Fred said over her.

‘Is that so?’ Hermione challenged.

‘Yes, there is. Repeat after us: I will make sacrifices to hang out with a boy.’

‘I will make sacrifices to hang out with a boy,’ Ginny and Hermione both repeated.

‘Excellent harmony. Music to our ears.’

‘Ah, you remind us of someone we know!’

‘Could it be us, Fred?’

‘I think it could very well be, George.’

‘It will build his confidence wonderfully.’

‘I think you’ve been planning on teaching me that lesson for a very long time,’ Hermione conceded.

‘We’re men. We don’t plan these things.’

‘But we do try to entertain whilst we educate.’

Noise came from upstairs. A herd of hippogriffs—or, Ron and Harry—were coming out of hiding.

‘Listen, Ron and Harry are coming downstairs. Just go along with whatever we say.’

‘What—’ Hermione started to ask, but was waved quiet by George.

‘Hermione, my hand is cold!’ Fred said loudly. ‘Will you warm it up for me?’ he said in earnest.

Hermione blanched. ‘Put it in your armpit! That’ll warm it up!’

‘What’s going on here?’ Ron asked. After having a chat with Harry about thinking a bit before he spoke, the last thing he had expected to see was his brother flirting with Hermione.

‘Ron! Didn’t see you standing there. Come join us!’ Fred said in an exaggerated surprised tone. ‘I’m giving Hermione a lesson in romance.’ He turned his attention back to Hermione. ‘Hermione, love, have you ever heard the phrase “Ooh la la”?’ He gave her a big wink.

Ginny sniggered. Harry was able to turn his snigger into a laugh before he drew attention to himself.

Hermione hesitated. ‘Er, yes?’

‘It’s French, you know,’ he continued in all earnestness, as he picked up Hermione’s hand. ‘If some bloke ever says it to you, do you know what you should say back?’ He raised her hand to his lips, but paused, waiting for her answer.

‘Er, no?’

‘No! Not “no”, you say “Dans mes bras! Dans mes bras! Que je t’embrasse!”’ George said, feigning a very good French accent. Fred and George had pestered Fleur Delacour to teach them a bit of French. For marketing purposes, they had claimed. Fleur flatly refused to teach them anything vulgar but hesitatingly taught them that phrase at Bill’s urging.

‘And just what is that supposed to mean?’ Ron demanded angrily before he could stop himself. His whole head turned bright pink in a fit of animosity toward his elder brothers and of embarrassment at not being able to control himself.

‘Oy, Ron, you look pretty in pink,’ Fred said, turning around at the outburst.

‘Yeah, you should get jealous more often,’ George offered.

‘Stick with us, we’ll make sure it happens.’

Ron turned purple. He was tired of everyone tiptoeing around him and Hermione when they were disagreeing and he had had enough of the twins embarrassing him and now they were doing it in front of Harry and Hermione.

But Molly, who had listened to the entire, loud exchange at the kitchen door, knew that she needed to stop Ron from becoming violent in front of Hermione. What would her parents say? she asked herself. Molly took a few steps away from the door. ‘Fred! George! Please come help me take this food outside,’ she called.

‘Right there, Mum. Ginny, give us a hand,’ George said.

‘I’ll help, too,’ Harry said quickly. The three of them dashed into the kitchen, obviously trying not to laugh. Molly swatted them with a dish towel and gestured to the bowls of food on the counter.

‘Oh, and Hermione, don’t dream of me tonight!’ Fred called over his shoulder. But instead of coming directly into the kitchen, he stopped and considered his purple-faced brother. ‘You look lovely, Ron!’

George, Ginny, and Harry howled with laughter in the garden as Fred joined them, carrying a stack of plates. Molly silently took back every oath she had ever uttered about those two, and there were many of them, mostly involving disowning the two of them. She went back to listening at the door.

‘Er,’ Hermione said uncertainly.

‘Ooh la la?’ Ron asked, with very little confidence.

Hermione laughed amiably as she moved over on the sofa and invited Ron to sit next to her.

Rosemary chicken will certainly not be needed tonight. I think her heart is softened enough for now, Molly thought.



_____________________________________________________________


A/N: For information on the symbolism of rosemary, see botanical.com. It’s a symbol of love and friendship, and, really, Molly Weasley isn’t about to give her 16 year old son and his best friend a love potion, is she?

Dans mes bras! Dans mes bras! Que je t’embrasse! is a quote by Hergé, a Belgium cartoonist, which means essentially, “In my arms! In my arms! That I may kiss you!”

Thanks must be given to many people for their imput in writing this story (and I needed a lot of it): the brilliant Chary, my beta reader; members of my writing group: St. Margarets, birgit, Beverly and Carissa Lynn; JK Ashavah, Kelleypen, grover53, and Pineapple Queen, who responded to my plea on Live Journal; Honeybee and Mia for the charting-unknown-waters support; and my friends, neighbors and college roommates, who, once they figured out I was writing down the funny things they said, would not stop making me laugh. Sometimes, I felt like I was sitting between Fred and George all day, every day. I miss it.
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