PART IV: MUGGLE HOLIDAY
Arthur Weasley did not stay to supper,
and, instead, Apparated home shortly after the dentist demonstration.
Hermione helped Ron carry his trunk upstairs and gave him a brief tour
of the house.
"Thatís my parentís bedroom in there
and this is mine, right here," she said, pointing to a door that
had "Hermioneís Room" painted on it in flowery writing. At that
moment, the door creaked open and a large, ginger cat came slinking out
and rubbed up against Ronís leg. "Howís it going Crookshanks, olí
friend?" asked Ron, bending down to rub the cat between the ears.
Ron did not always approve of Crookshanks, especially since Crookshanks
had been very hostile to Ronís pet rat, Scabbers. However, since Scabbers
had turned out to be not a rat at all, but a cowardly, evil murderer named
Peter Pettigrew, Ron had made an attempt to be nice to Hermioneís cat.
"And this is the guest room here,"
Hermione opened the next door to reveal a simply decorated room. She walked
over to the night table and picked up the lamp, "This is the switch
to turn on the light Ė you see, you just push it here," and as she
did so, the light came on. Hermione pointed to a door at the side of the
room, "The bathroom and toilet are here. To turn the light on, use
this switch." Hermione pointed to a switch in the wall by the door.
She added, "This bathroom also joins my room, so if youíre in here,
you can lock that door, but remember to unlock it before you leave, or
else I wonít be able to get in!"
They went back downstairs, and Hermione
led Ron down a book-lined hallway to a medium-sized room. Inside, the
walls were lined with things that didnít look quite like books. There
was a strange looking box on a table and another cabinet filled with all
sorts of gadgets. "This is my parentsí recreation room," Hermione
explained. "Thatís a computer," she said, pointing to the box
on the desk, "and those are all of the records and CDs." "Ah,
yes," said Ron, hoping he didnít sound too stupid and wishing heíd
taken Muggle Studies, "CDs." "They play music," she
added, seeing the puzzled expression on his face. "Music?" asked
Ron eagerly. "Iíd really love to hear some Muggle music. I heard
some this summer, although I donít know what it was, and it was really
cool. Can we listen now?"
Just then, Mrs. Granger called them to
dinner and the music would have to wait.
After dinner, Ron and Hermione sat at
the kitchen table while Mr. and Mrs. Granger cleared away the dishes.
Ron was not surprised to see that Hermione had planned a schedule for
every day of his visit.
"Öand then on Tuesday I thought we
could cook something in the kitchen so that you could learn about stoves
and refrigerators and things like that. On Wednesday, we can work on the
computer and maybe play some video games, my father has a ton and they
can be really educational if you pick the right onesÖ" (Ďtrust Hermione
to find something educational in a gameí thought Ron), "and
then on Thursday we could maybe go into town and watch a movieÖ"
Mr. Granger could obviously see the glazed
look in Ronís eyes. "Hermione, why donít you go get the pictures
from our holiday? Iím sure Ronís a bit tired and canít concentrate on
all of that right now. Just look at some pictures."
The holiday! Ron remembered that he was
a bit uncomfortable about the holiday. The Grangers had been to Bulgaria,
hadnít they? Hermione had been to visit Viktor Krum. Ron wondered jealously
if Krum had attempted to kiss her. Heíd certainly had opportunity last
year at Hogwarts to carry out a plan of attack as outlined by Fred and
George. Ron assumed that Bulgarian wizards would probably act the same
as English ones. Ron didnít know why, but the thought of Krum kissing
Hermione made him want to throw up. Ugh! Why did that image pop into his
head? He resolved to observe Hermione closely as she showed him the pictures.
Hermione returned to the kitchen with
two large photo albums, a scrapbook, and a small package in her hands.
"I almost forgot," she said, handing him the package, "I
got you a souvenir." Hermione set the package down on the table and
pushed it towards Ron, obviously trying to avoid contact with his hands
like earlier. Ron opened the package, which contained a small replica
of St. Stevenís mummified hand. "Ta, Hermione," said Ron, smiling
She opened the first album to a page labeled
"Prague" and proceeded to show him lots of buildings and monuments,
with running commentary on every picture. Ron found the Muggle pictures
a bit boring at times, because they didnít move like magic ones. Even
Hermione had to admit that she wished sheíd used magic developer. "The
clock tower would have looked so much more interesting in a magic photo,"
she mused sadly, "I wish you could have seen it, Ron, every hour
little dancers come out and to most people they just look like stone figures,
but they were actually little fairies who live there and they were dancing
like crazy. I read about it in our astronomy text book and it was created
by a wizard who wanted to have a way to record astronomical movements.
He needed something large that wouldnít attract the suspicions of Muggles,
so he built the clock to look like a normal European clock tower. He put
it right on the town hall in the center of Prague, can you believe it?"
Towards the middle of the book, a new
section had started, neatly labeled "Budapest and Hungary."
"I was a bit scared in Hungary, everywhere
except Budapest," admitted Hermione. "They have the largest
vampire population in the world! Luckily they are mostly in the countryside
and we spent almost all of our time in Budapest. The Danube is really
beautiful and I discovered something wonderful there." Hermione turned
the page to view a picture of a ruined building. "There is an island
in the middle of the Danube called "Margaret Island" after the
daughter of King Bela IV. Belaís wife was a witch, although he didnít
know it, and she convinced him to build a convent on the island. In reality
it was a meeting place for witches and wizards in the area. When their
daughter turned 11, they sent her there to live, supposedly as a nun and
she stayed there the rest of her life. Now, this picture is a Muggle picture
and it shows ruins, and all my parents could see were ruins, but its not
ruins at all! Itís a wizarding community! There were hundreds of witches
and wizards mulling through it. I found the official entrance and took
my parents inside, because they didnít believe me. There were dozens of
shops, but Hungarian is a difficult language, so we didnít speak to many
people. We found one witch who spoke English and told us the history.
Isnít that marvelous?"
Ron had to admit that it was marvelous,
and he was quite jealous. The only holiday that his family had taken him
on outside of Cornwall was to Egypt two years earlier. Ron had enjoyed
every moment and it had made him yearn for more travel.
Hermione finished the first album and
reached for the second. She looked at Ron a little shyly and asked "Youíre
not bored, are you? Iím sorry Harry couldnít come, itíd probably be more
fun for you to have another boy around. We can call him on the telephone
this week Ė if you call during the day then you can usually catch him
alone. If his aunt picks up, then I just pretend that Iím selling something."
It seemed out of character for Hermione to worry about him having a good
time and she seemed a bit fidgety. Ron smiled at her and answered, "Iím
having a wonderful time. These photos are really interesting Ė I had no
idea that so many magical items were sitting out in plain view of Muggles
without their noticing." ĎThere, Mum,í he thought, ĎI know how to
be a gentleman, and I wasnít lying, this is quite interesting.í
The second album contained a few more
pictures of Hungary and then they came to a page entitled "Bulgaria."
Ron felt himself blushing and his stomach started doing somersaults. He
really wasnít sure if he wanted to see the section about Bulgaria. He
barely heard Hermione as she explained, "We spent a week in Bulgaria.
It was nice because we stayed with Viktor Krum and his family and Mum
and Dad were quite interested to stay in a wizarding household. Sofia
was kind of rough though. It has a wonderful history, dating back 2,000
years, and there were lots of archeological sites but there isnít a large
wizarding community there anymore. If we hadnít known somebody in the
country, I donít think we would have bothered to go there. The weather
was really lovely though, and Sofia, like Budapest, has quite a lot of
thermal springs. We went with Viktorís family one day to an outdoor one,
but it was really just like a large, warm, swimming pool. My dadís got
some back problems and he said that the water seemed to help him."
Ron gazed angrily at the photo in front
of him. Hermione was standing in between her parents, wearing what appeared
to Ron to be an extremely skimpy bathing suit (although in reality it
was quite modest). She looked like one of the girls in the pile of Muggle
magazines that Fred and George kept hidden under their beds (they magicked
them to look like comic books when viewed by female eyes, to avoid the
wrath of Mrs. Weasley). Had Krum seen her in that getup? Maybe it was
okay for Muggles, but it certainly was not all right for witches and wizards.
Ron opened his mouth to say something and then thought better of it. After
all, it wouldnít do to get into an argument with Hermione in her own house.
Instead, Ron stood up so quickly that the chair he was sitting in fell
backwards. He picked it up hastily and said, "Theyíre really great
pictures, Hermione, but Iím a bit tired after all of the stuff thatís
been going on today. I think Iíll go to bed if you donít mind." The
clock on the wall read 8 oíclock. Ron walked upstairs very quickly, slammed
the door to the guest room and flopped down on the guest bed.
A few moments later, he heard Hermione
come into the bathroom from the other side and knock on his door. "Ron?"
she asked tentatively. "Ron? Well, Iíve just laid out some blue towels
for you to use. If you need anything, let me know. Goodnight." Ron
didnít answer. What was wrong with him? He certainly felt like he was
going crazy. As he fell asleep, he heard Fredís voice echoing in his ear
"Stay in CONTROLÖ"