The Sugar Quill
Author: Thing1 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Let's Just Keep Our Fingers Crossed  Chapter: Chapter 1
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"Let’s Just Keep Our Fingers Crossed and Hope for the Best"

  • Motto of the Chudley Cannons

For my sister, who has just told me I’m to be an auntie, and my Dad, who, despite being a stuffy old investment banker, has become a huge Harry Potter fan. His only complaint? "Not enough Quidditch!" He now carries a copy of "Quidditch Through the Ages" in his briefcase, to read between meetings. I know, I saw it in there.

Chapter One

Ron managed, just, to stop himself from throttling Houghton Adams. He wasn’t concerned so much by the fact that a 22 year old launching himself so ungraciously at a man 20 years his senior would be seen as bad sport, but he was in enough trouble with Hermione at the moment as it was. I can’t believe she insisted on coming today! Spends most of her life not giving a toss about Quidditch, now all of a sudden she’s debating strategy with Harry at the dinner table.

***

There had been a bit of an uproar last night when Hermione announced that they would both be going to the match.

"What? Are you mad? You’re about to have a baby and you want to go sit in a box and watch Quidditch? Certainly not."

"Ron! Don’t be ridiculous! Tomorrow the Cannons might, for the first time in over a century, move into first place in the League, and you think I’m going to sit around here and just wait to give birth? Not a chance. This is very important for you, for us, and I’m not having you miss it. I’ve already spoken to Mr. Adams...."

"What? What for? I’ll take the day off to be with you…."

"Well, I’m going to be at the game, so I guess you are too."

"Hermione!" She shook her head at him before he could say anything else.

"Give me one good reason I shouldn’t go, Ron."

"My wife giving birth in the owner’s box wasn’t exactly the pre-game entertainment I had planned?"

"Don’t be crude. That’s not going to happen. The baby hasn’t even shifted all the way yet, and I’ve not felt a single pang…."

Ron looked at her sharply. "Pang? What pang?"

"Pangs, heart. Babies don’t just suddenly appear, they take a while, and I’ll have lots of advance warning. The doctor says…"

"The doctor’s never had a baby, now has he?!?" Ron interrupted her, and instantly wished he’d managed to stop that outburst as Hermione slowly raised an eyebrow at him, her lips going a little tight.

"Considering he’s been delivering children for over 40 years, Ron, I think he just might know a bit on the subject. And, if you insist on an experienced voice, Katie, who I do believe you are well aware has had three children herself, has explained the early symptoms of real labour in excellent detail. Actually, she was explaining them to Sirius, whom Liz assures me is tied with you in the overwrought department and she’s not even due for another six weeks. Perhaps I should have had Katie do the same for you."

Ron went a little red, but managed to hold his tongue while he considered his next move. I won’t have it…. He didn’t get the chance to try another tactic, however, as Hermione pushed herself up from the table and reached down to gather her dinner dishes, gently swatting his hand away as he leapt up and reached over to do it for her. She did smile at him, however.

"I promise if I feel anything that suggests the baby might be on it’s way, we’ll leave. You haven’t been reading those books I gave you, have you?"

Ron groaned. "No! I mean, yes, I’ve read the books, some of them at least, but no, we are not going to the match! That’s just insane! And that’s all I have to say about it."

Hermione glared at him, and he instantly knew he’d crossed the line, but was damned if he was going to back down now. No. Not a chance. No way.

***

The Weasleys arrived at the Chudley Cannons’ Quidditch arena several hours before the start of the game, as Ron had any number of things to see to before the match started. Hermione had suggested that she could just go over to the Lupins and arrive later with the others, but Ron demanded she stay where he could see her once he’d resolved himself to the fact that she was getting her way on this matter. He had fumed a bit as he saw her struggle to repress a smile and turn quickly from him to get her cloak when he told her that, but did keep his mouth shut.

Houghton Adams, the owner of the team and Ron’s boss, was startled to see her following Ron into the box.

"Ah, Weasley. And…Mrs. Weasley? Good heavens, I …well, I didn’t really expect to see you here! But of course I’m delighted…." Adams came over to where they stood quickly and shook Hermione’s hand, then pulled her forward.

"Sit down, sit down…right here…most comfortable seat in the place, I think! How are you? Good, good," he said, before Hermione had a chance to say anything. Hermione grinned at Ron and rolled here eyes a bit as Adams turned from her to look at her husband with a puzzled expression, then gave Hermione another bright smile before he took Ron’s arm and pulled him back in the direction they had come from towards the door.

Adams leaned in close and whispered, "What on earth were you thinking making Hermione come to this match? Very insensitive, Ron, very insensitive! I thought you were taking…you know… the day off? Well, nothing to be done, now I suspect. But next time, young man, think about these things. She can’t possibly be comfortable…."

Ron fumed, but luckily before he said or did anything, Adams let go of his arm and straightened back up to his rather intimidating six foot three height and turned back towards the front, speaking in his normal, vaguely dreamy tones.

"Ron, get down to the office and fetch my notes, would you? I seem to have forgotten them…and if you see Caston on the way, tell him to get up here. Make sure all of the, um, you know, are here, would you? Good lad."

Ron bolted from the owner’s box before he caught Hermione’s eye, but he could just feel her gaze following him. No way had she missed the expression on his face just then. Sighing, he jogged down the steep steps of the area’s main staircase towards the clubhouse. I think I’ll have an entirely new definition of ‘long day’ after this. Bloody hell.

Houghton Adams was, basically, a wonderful man to work for, and an excellent sports strategist, though he did tend to get a little spacey and just sort of talk into the air, rather than talk directly at anyone. He had been a classmate of Remus and Sirius, and it was Remus who had originally put Ron in contact with him when Remus heard that Adams was looking for a junior club manager. Ron was terrified the first time he had gone to see the former all-England keeper, but he had turned out to be a warm and funny man, despite his attention issues, and had been pleased to hire Ron on. And Ron had scored instantly with him when he had gone to find Katie Bell and convinced her to join the team. Katie was one of the main reasons the team was doing so well. It was a standing club joke now to post yet another cover of ‘Quidditch Weekly’ that featured her in the locker room. She was perturbed at first (Titles like Hero in the Struggle Against the Dark Lord Finds Peace on the Pitch and Champion Chaser Chooses Chudley! annoying her no end), but was finally starting to laugh at it all.

The Wizarding community had became very caught up in the ‘miracle year’ the Chudley Cannons were having. Generally they had sell out crowds, as practically every Quidditch match was well attended across the league, but usually one saw far more of the opposing team’s colours. Not this year; this year they had opened with four straight victories, a team record, and had become the hottest ticket in town. Now Ron stared out at a sea of orange at the home games. Houghton Adams spoke of it all with vague tears in his eyes and a dreamy look on his face, sighing but making no real comments other than ‘keep up the good work, everyone’. Caston, the team captain, was the only one he ever talked to in depth, and Caston’s main job with the team seemed to be ‘interpreter’ for Adams. Somehow it worked, and after years of infamy, it looked like the Chudley Cannons might become real contenders once again.

Ron went off in search of the always-misplaced managers’ notes by way of the locker room. He stayed there a bit, chatting with the team, before finally getting back up to the owners’ box. The spectators had begun to arrive, and when he got back up to the top of the arena, he saw that Remus had arrived with Sirius and Malcolm. Despite his being totally annoyed and rather perturbed in general, he had to smile when he saw Malcolm, standing at the railing between his father and his godfather. Malcolm was smiling broadly and watching raptly as they were showing him the pitch and pointing things out to him. First game. I remember the first time I got to come to a game…and I can’t wait until I get to take my child to his first game. Actually, I might very well have. He looked over at Hermione and had to smile, in spite of his lingering doubts over her being here.

Hermione had been thrilled when he told her he had the job with the Cannons, knowing it was exactly what he wanted. He had been a little surprised at her enthusiasm at first, worried that she might think it wasn’t, well, the most responsible thing in the world. Underestimated her again. She had even started coming to the games with him on and off, when she wasn’t too busy with the Ministry. She’d always come to cheer Gryffindor on at school, of course, but truth was she just wasn’t that much of a sports fan. But she was a fan of her husband, and Ron was constantly amazed when he considered that even if had he chosen to be the driver of the Knight Bus, she’d support him.

But it really wasn’t just any game that day, and Ron, secretly, was actually thrilled to have her there and that she really was keen on what was, with luck, about to happen. Despite the fact that the baby was due, Ron checked his watch, oh, in about 15 hours, if the healer’s due date was to be believed. He looked over again to where she sat, now talking with Remus, and sighed. Adams thinks I dragged her here? Is he that insane? Can’t believe he called me insensitive…deep breath, Ron. Deep breath. First off, he is your boss. Second, you will miss it if you’re being detained for assault. Sirius may be a lawyer, but he can’t speed things up that much.

Ron had become torn between watching the Cannons finally climb back up in the League and waiting for the baby. Everyone had sworn to him that due dates were just estimations. His mother informed him that he and all six of his siblings had been born after the due date set. Mrs. Granger told him Hermione was three weeks late herself. Katie and Remus pointed out that Roarke and Annie had both been born after their due dates. Notice nobody mentioned Malcolm was born about three weeks before he was due.

Ron looked back over at Malcolm, who was now standing on one of the rungs to the gate at the front of the box and leaning out to get a good look at everything while Sirius kept a firm hold of him around his waist. Ron adored Malcolm, and though he hadn’t said anything to Hermione, was really hoping they were going to have a boy. Though a daughter would be nice too…. He was started from his daydreaming when someone appeared next to him and started speaking.

"Good god, Ron, what are you doing here?"

"Harry. Why don’t you ask the Quidditch fanatic over there?"

Harry glanced at Hermione then grinned at Ron.

"She mentioned something about not wanting to miss this."

"You might have warned me, " grumbled Ron.

"Sorry. Didn’t think she meant it. And there was the possibility she’d be far too busy with other things."

"Do not," frowned Ron, "mention any ‘other things’ she might be doing, and just wish on the grave of Godric Gryffindor it doesn’t happen during the game."

"I don’t know, you’re first being born here seems somehow appropriate," teased Harry.

"Shut up. Where’s Ginny?"

Harry started to laugh. "Actually, she stayed home because she thought she’d go by your house later to keep Hermione company!"

"Well at least someone had the sense to stay home!"

Harry started to giggle, but refrained from further comment as Malcolm ran over to speak with them. He was absolutely glowing and grinning from ear to ear, and Ron just had to smile.

"Hallo Malcolm, glad you could come!"

"And congratulations! I guess we all better watch out now," added Harry giving Malcolm a rather conspiratorial look.

Malcolm gave a laugh and looked quickly back at his father, who was still engaged with talking to Hermione, then leaned forward and whispered with a rather dangerous grin, "Thanks!"

Ron knew that Malcolm had, a few weeks ago, started to display his first magical talents. He had gathered from very scattered reports that it was a rather ‘momentous’ event that announced young Mister Lupin had started developing his abilities, but had not had the opportunity to get any details. He hadn’t had the chance to ask Remus for any details when he’d invited them to the game. Katie had been with him, and Ron had already been warned not to bring it up in front of her for a few days. Sirius must have done something, despite her firm requests that no ‘testing’ take place as she didn’t want Malcolm feeling pressured or anxious about this. But he looks as happy as ever.

"Yes, congratulations. Are you looking forward to the match?"

"Oh, yes! Very much!" he glanced over his shoulder for a moment to look at Hermione with a rather puzzled expression. "Why’s Hermione here? Isn’t the baby due?"

Harry managed to choke back most of his laugh as he reached forward and took Malcolm by the shoulders, turning him back in the direction of the others and giving him a small push. Ron stared at the ceiling for a moment and sighed. Just wait Malcolm; one day, you’ll be right where I am now, and we’ll see how well you hold out to the whims of your better half.

"Go take a seat, Malcolm, I’ll be right there in a second. Hermione’s fine, and I thought you didn’t like babies anyway, so there."

"I don’t mind them, they’re just useless," grumbled the boy as he wandered back over to the adults and climbed up next to Sirius again.

Ron looked at Harry. "Exactly what did Malcolm do?"

Harry gave him another very amused glance. "Well, as it’s far to late for you to change you mind about being a parent, I guess I’ll tell you. Seems he got his hands on some fireworks and, well, I suspect Sirius didn’t expect them to go off quite as well as they did, Malcolm being so little. However…."

Ron did look rather upset at this. "What?"

"Remus’ study was…quite a mess."

"Good gods."

"Yes. Good thing Sirius doesn’t live with Katie anymore. Of course, he had to go home to Liz, who had a few choice words herself. Keep that in mind, Ron. Malcolm may be little, but he’s quite strong when he puts his mind to it. Sirius explaining that the fireworks would go off better the harder he concentrated on them probably had a lot to do with it. Where there’s a will, there’s a way."

Ron swallowed nervously. This was something he hadn’t even started to think about; he’d barely gotten used to the idea of a baby, let alone a toddler, then a small boy…loose in the house…testing his abilities….Oh my god.

Harry laughed again. "Don’t look like that. With any luck, the child will have Hermione’s temperament and you should be somewhat safe."

Ron nodded.

"Of course, he could turn out to be just like Fred and George, too."

"Thanks." Is it too late to wish for a little girl?

//
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