The Sugar Quill
Author: FictionGoddess  Story: Upholding Tradition  Chapter: Default
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Upholding Tradition


Disclaimer:  It all belongs to JK Rowling. 



Upholding Tradition



Hermione sat in front of the Christmas tree and smiled nervously at her second family.  She had known it would be a subdued holiday, but the extent of everyone’s discontent was only just sinking in.


She looked across to where Percy was helping his father into the armchair by the fire.  Mr Weasley was even more listless than usual this morning.


“Are you warm enough, Father?  Charlie, pass the throw rug from the couch, please.”


Charlie carried over the patchwork throw and helped Percy tuck it in around their father’s lap.  Mr Weasley sat there and endured their fussing without really reacting to any of it.  He accepted a goblet of mulled wine from Bill but didn’t bother to taste it.  He just sat, staring at one of the homemade ornaments hanging from the tree and holding the warmed drink.


Bill moved over to where Fleur was sitting and handed a second goblet to his shivering wife.  Hermione’s memory turned to Mrs Weasley bustling around on Christmas morning, handing out mug after mug of hot chocolate and warmed butterbeer.


It was far from the first time that she’d been struck by just how cruel fate had been.  After all the Order’s careful planning and guarding of secret missions, it had never occurred to them that Mrs Weasley would be unsafe picking up a few groceries.  The attack on muggle London’s shopping district had been small by recent standards, but overly effective.  With Dumbledore’s death they had taken the head of the Order, but with Molly’s they had taken the heart.


The Weasleys had crumpled with the blow and rendered the Order all but idle.  Hermione and Harry had insisted on putting the horcrux hunt on hold to accompany Ron home and allow him all the time he needed to mourn with his family.  Percy had also come home, though his return was too late to be of any comfort to his mother.


Hermione was pulled from her thoughts as the twins trudged into the room, half-asleep and obviously still suffering from colds that ought to have cleared up weeks ago.  Fred, especially, seemed to be reveling in the abuse of his immune system as he sat down on the cold floor just inches from the rug.  George followed his twin and winced as he came into contact with the floorboards.  They rarely ever talked to anyone but each other anymore and had ceased their games and banter altogether. 


A movement in the corner of the room caught Hermione's eye and she noticed that Ginny was sitting in contemplative, quiet conversation with Harry and glancing at the twins every few moments.  Clearly, Hermione wasn't the only one worried about them, but at the same time the scene before her only gave her another thing to worry about. 


Ron sat at the other end of the couch where Hermione was seated, one lanky leg tucked up under his chin.  His body language showed that, even when sitting in a room full of family and friends, he was still completely isolated from them, alone in the crowd.  He was watching his sister and his best friend, but cut off from their interactions.  Hermione felt the urge to wrap him up in her arms and let him know that she was there, but by the same token she knew it wouldn't help.  Instead she reached across and took hold of his hand.  He gave her a small smile for her efforts, but it was obvious that it wasn't any real comfort to him. 


He knew she was there and he knew that she didn't really know what he was feeling or how it truly affected him.  She did what she could to offer comfort, yet she couldn't really fill the hole in his heart.  She had done her best – holding him whenever she felt he would accept the contact, listening to his memories as he relived the years in his mind, letting him know that he wasn’t alone – but she couldn’t help but feel unequal to the task. 


Much as she had loved Ron’s mother and as much as Mrs Weasley had made her feel a part of the family, Hermione knew that she was an outsider in all of this.  She would never fully comprehend the extent of the pain that each of them felt.  She was as far from understanding this as she was from understanding the losses Harry had suffered through the years.  But, as difficult as it was, she was charging herself with the task of helping them move on.  There was a war out there, and they needed to fight.  Mrs Weasley wouldn’t want them to grieve forever; she'd want them to get on with things, to lead happy, productive lives.


Hermione sighed as she looked around the room.  No one seemed to have any enthusiasm for the presents under the tree.  Waking up early to open gifts had been almost a burden this year and what Hermione was about to do would either help lift spirits or make it all a thousand times worse.  She took a deep breath, preparing mentally, and stood up.  Ten sets of eyes locked on her.


“Um, I — I just wanted to say that this is a wonderful family.  And even though I’m not a real Weasley I still feel like I belong here.” She paused and looked over at Mr Weasley, not sure what she was expecting to see.  Perhaps some sign that he wanted her to continue, which was silly really, but it would have been comforting nonetheless.  He stared blankly at her nose, waiting for her get on with things.  “Well, what I’m trying to say is that I would never want to upset any of you but I think I might be about to.” 


Several of them looked worried at that statement and Hermione noticed Harry and Charlie both finger their wands, waiting for her to reveal some form of attack.  Hermione knew not to take it personally.  They didn’t actually expect her to turn on the family.  It was more that they were taking the sensible precautions for possible polyjuice or Imperius infiltration.  In truth it was reassuring to know that they were still aware of the risks.  She did her best to ignore them, swiped the tears from her eyes and continued.


“A few weeks ago I overheard George and Ginny talking about how unnatural it was to have a Christmas tree without their mother’s traditional gifts under it and I started to think how horrible it was that those – well that they had literally stolen the warmth from this family.  And, well, I thought that since Mrs Weasley wouldn’t want any of you to go without, that I would make them on her behalf.  You don’t have to accept them if you don’t want them.  I don’t want to upset anyone.  I just thought you deserved your jumpers.”


She silently summoned the pile of gifts from behind the couch and nervously looked up to survey the reactions of those around her.  Everyone was either wiping away tears or on the verge of needing to do so.  Hermione was mortified.  She had known this was a bad idea.  Why on earth did I think I had the right? This is their mother’s legacy, Hermione silently berated herself.  How am I ever going to be able to apologise properly?


“I should like mine.”


Hermione snapped out of her thoughts and looked over at Mr Weasley.


“Very much,” he added, smiling even as his tears made him choke on the words.

She sorted through the pile and handed him his present.  The room seemed to be holding a collective breath, but Hermione interrupted it.


“They’re not the same,” she warned as he began to unwrap it.  “I couldn’t find the right colour wool and the patterns are a little different.  I didn’t have enough time to find the right ones.”


“Probably for the best,” Mr Weasley answered as he pulled the midnight-purple wool from its packaging.  He held it up to admire the crimson ‘A’ on the right breast before pulling it on over his pyjamas.  He pulled Hermione into a tight hug, his tears soaking into her dressing gown.


“Thank you.”


Well, at least one person doesn’t hate me, she thought.


“Who’s next?” George asked as he craned his neck, trying to read the name tag at the top of the present pile.  Hermione smiled slightly, trying to hold back more tears and act as though this wasn’t the first thing George had said to her in a month as she picked up the next two.


“Um, Percy and Fred,” she read out.  Somehow they had all decided to follow their father’s lead and accept their jumpers.  With every one that she handed out she got a hug in return until she got down to the last three.




He hugged her, but he also kissed her cheek and told her she was the best sister he could ever have wished for, before taking his jumper back to his spot on the floor to unwrap.  After thinking that she might have been done with the crying, Hermione was horrified to have to mop up a fresh wave of tears before picking up the next present.




Ginny gave her a bear hug and repeated Harry’s words.  Hermione was a blubbering mess by the time she picked up the last gift and held it out.




He managed a watery “Thanks” as he took the present from her, but then he dropped it on the coffee table unopened.  She worried that she truly had upset him and she couldn’t see his expression through her tears. 


Ron stood in front of her, used the sleeve of his pyjamas to wipe her cheeks, and waited for her to blink her tears out of the way.  When she could see straight, he looked her in the eye and thanked her again.  Hermione smiled, knowing that the second thank you wasn’t so much for the jumper as it was for what she was trying to do for his family.


“You’re welcome,” she muttered.


He nodded once then, quite surprisingly, kissed the tip of her nose and hugged her gently.  That one gentle hug spoke more to her than any of the other clutching embraces she had received.


“Wo-ho! Did you see that?” Fred cheered.

“Kissed her-” said George.

“In front of everyone.”


“And without a single word about her sisterly-ness.”



“We might have to question his intentions.”

“Good Point! Wouldn’t do –”

“to have our Hermione – ”

“being heartbroken!”


Hermione flushed bright red, but Ron just ignored them and pulled on his new (blue) jumper.  The vaguely amused, content look on his face was what made her realise: the twins were playing.  And if the twins were playing then the jumpers had really worked.  So instead of letting her embarrassment get to her, Hermione decided to be impulsive. George actually chuckled when she poked her tongue out at them.  A moment later they both returned the gesture in perfect unison. 


She wouldn’t kid herself into thinking that everything was better now.  But the twins were playing and that was a step in the right direction. 



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