Supposition (Worth the Risk #39)

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“Mum, you’re early!”

“I finished work earlier than normal today,” Hermione says. She feels slightly guilty that Hugo considers 30 minutes overtime ‘early’ when most people leave the office promptly at five. Despite putting the children as her priority, the reality is that her job often requires her to stay in the office late or work from home. It’s a balance to give both areas the proper attention they deserve, but she does her best to not work long hours that keep her away from the children. Molly’s probably right to worry about her possibly living at the office once the house is silent come autumn, she realizes.

“I’m helping Grandpa,” Hugo tells her proudly. He waves his hand towards an old bicycle that is in pieces on the ground by Arthur.

“He’s always a great help,” Arthur chimes in. He smiles as he slowly stands from his kneeling position. “Hello, Hermione. I hope you‘re doing well today.”

“I’m doing very well, thank you.” She considers her conversation with Molly and steps forward to give Arthur a hug. He laughs and returns the hug, looking bemused when she pulls back.

“What was that for?”

“For being you,” she tells him simply, giving him a sheepish smile instead of a specific answer.

“Oh?” He blinks and glances out the door of the workshop before he nods, white hair falling across his forehead. “Oh. Well, you‘re our daughter.”

“I want a hug, too,” Hugo declares, holding out his arms as he kicks his legs up beneath the work table he’s sitting on. She smiles at Arthur and turns towards Hugo.

“Now, how can I refuse a demand like that? Especially from my mature son who doesn’t let me hug him nearly enough these days,” she says, walking towards him and hugging him tight. She pulls away and tickles him. “And what’s this about you going to the cinema?”

“We did,” Hugo says in between bursts of laughter as he swats at her hands. “Muuuum, stop that.”

“Stop what?” she asks innocently as she moves her fingers along his ribs and tickles him. She leans forward and kisses his cheek as she drops her hands. “Okay. Let‘s go get you washed up so we can get dinner.”

“Can we go out to eat tonight?” He hops off the table and hands Arthur the bicycle part he’d been holding. “We can work on it more tomorrow, Grandpa.”

“We will. I need to remember how it all goes together, then we can try flying it,” Arthur promises. He looks at Hermione and adds, “That is, I can try flying it.”

“I’m gonna be his watcher. If he breaks his neck, I have to tell Gran.” Hugo smiles sweetly up at her as they walk back to the house. “Dinner?”

“Where did you want to go?” She certainly wouldn’t mind the excuse to not have to cook tonight.

“Hmmm.” Hugo considers it as they enter the kitchen. “Finnigan’s? They make the best treacle tart ever.”

“Really?” Molly teases. “And here I thought that I made the best one ever.”

“For a restaurant,” Hugo clarifies with a nod. He washes his hands and arms up to his elbows to get rid of the dirt and grease from their bicycle project. “Yours is the bestest made at home.”

“Such a sweetheart.” Molly looks at her and grins. “You’ll have to keep an eye on this charmer, you will.”

“Am not a sweetheart. That sounds girly and dumb.” Hugo makes a face. “But you call Uncle Bill a charmer, so I don’t mind that.”

Hermione laughs. “He’s definitely a handful already. Now finish washing up, and we’ll stop by Finnigan’s for dinner. Seamus mentioned that I needed to bring you by some time soon, anyway.”

“Great!” Hugo grins widely before he focuses on scrubbing his hands. When he finishes, he dries off and runs into the sitting room to gather his things.

“No running in the house,” she calls out after him.

“Gran doesn’t care,” he calls back.

“She might not, but I do.” She looks at Molly and shakes her head.

“Now, don’t you give me that look, young lady. This house has survived seven children running all around, not to mention more grandchildren than I care to count right now. He’s an energetic boy, but he’s always careful.”

“I know. I’d just prefer that he keep the running outside,” she says. “However, it’s your house, so I’ll not presume to impose rules on his behavior here. I’d better go help him find his shoes, since he always seems to lose one.” She gives Molly a hug and smiles. “Thank you for tea, and your support.”

“Of course, dear. And please remember that I’m always here if you need me,” Molly reminds her. “You‘ll come for dinner one evening soon, after Rose is home, and bring along your young man. Oh, and the last time I saw his shoes, he’d kicked one under the sofa and the other was by the table. ”

It isn’t an invitation, so Hermione can’t refuse. Instead, she nods and goes to the sitting room, where she finds Hugo scowling with one trainer in his hand. “You know, if you kept your shoes organized when you insist on taking them off, you wouldn’t constantly be losing one.”

“Not now, Mum. I’m thinkin’,” he tells her solemnly.

“Check under the sofa,” she suggests.

“I didn’t kick it under the---Oh, there it is.” He smiles sheepishly. “Didn’t think I’d kicked it there.”

“But you were about to deny it without even looking.”

“I should have looked first. I know, Mum. Next time, maybe I’ll remember.”

“So long as you eventually do, I’ll be happy,” she mutters, reaching out to ruffle his hair. “We’ll take the Floo to Finnigan’s once you’re ready. Of course, us eating out tonight means you’re stuck with frozen pizza made at home on Friday.”

“That’s okay. I want tart tonight.” Hugo grins. “Wanna hear ‘bout the film Grandpa took me to see? It was weird and Rose would hate it cause it was prejudiced.”

“It was prejudiced?” she asks carefully, not exactly certain that he means that word.

“Yeah. People hated this woman just cause she looked different and was kinda mean. Course, wouldn’t you be mean if people hated you just cause of how you looked?” He shakes his head. “I kept wanting her to hex someone instead of cackling and being mean.”

“Hexing isn’t being mean?”

“Depends on what kind of hexing,” he declares after a moment of thought. “Nothing too nasty, but just a good zap to their bums. Maybe stop them from singing.” He makes a face as he ties the laces of his trainers and then stands up.

“You saw a film with singing and prejudiced people?” She feels a headache coming on as she tries to figure out what the bloody hell Arthur took her son to see at the cinema. She tosses powder into the fireplace. “Finnigan’s.”

“Yeah, it had too much singing,” Hugo confides before he steps through the Floo. She follows him and performs cleaning charms on their clothes to remove the soot once they arrive at Finnigan’s. “Don’t tell Grandpa, though, cause I said I didn’t mind all that singing.”

“I won’t tell him.” She leads him to an empty table. “What was the name of film, Hugo?”

“The Wizard of Oz.” He smiles. “It was really old but the lady who sold us our tickets said it was a classic, whatever that means. The cinema is doing this special family film thing that I didn’t really understand but Grandpa says we might go see more films during the summer cause they’re really cheap.”

She looks at him a moment before she laughs. “Goodness. The Wizard of Oz? Here I was worried that you’d seen something horrid. I saw that when I was younger.”

“Really? You don’t like films that much,” Hugo points out. “Rose told me all about prejudice ages ago and said I should never let other people think for me or tell me how I should feel. She also said anyone who makes fun of someone deserves to be hexed bad, so she’d hate that movie. Just cause the witch was all green and ugly, they didn’t like her.”

“Well, she also wasn’t very nice,” Hermione says delicately. “Rose is right, though I wasn’t aware that she’d been giving such lessons.”

“But I wouldn‘t be very nice if people treated me like that just cause I have freckles. She‘s not pretty like the floating witch, but I bet she was nice when she was younger. ‘sides, none of them were real witches or wizards, like us.” He nods. “Yep, she did. To all of us last summer during the big birthday party,” Hugo says. “She’s not gonna get in trouble, is she?”

“Of course not. I’m the one who told her about prejudice and thinking for yourself, after all.”

Hugo grins as he opens a menu. He looks at her slyly before he asks, “Can I have a flying monkey?”

“Who’s a flying monkey?” Seamus asks as he approaches their table. “Oh, there’s the monkey.” He ruffles Hugo’s hair and grins.

“Am not a monkey. We’re here for the treacle tart!” Hugo smiles widely. “Course, Mum will make me eat something all healthy first, but I’m really here for pudding.”

“Mum’s are bad about that, aren’t they?” Seamus asks in a whisper as he winks at Hermione. “Tart tastes a lot better than anything healthy.”

“Mum’s are also good at hearing whispers,” Hermione points out. “Just for that, I should make you eat a plate full of vegetables.”

Hugo wrinkles his nose. “You won’t do that cause you’re the best mum ever.”

“Hmph.” She arches a brow and then smiles at Seamus. “Looks busy tonight.”

“It’s Wednesday. You’ve actually beat the worst crowds by getting here early. Around half-seven, the bar will be so bad yeh can’t even reach it to order a drink.” Seamus grins. “Not that I’m complaining cause the more they have to drink, the more they spend. Have to support my addiction to fancy clothes somehow.” He primps and fusses with his colorful silk shirt.

Hugo waits until Seamus stops talking before he says, “Can I have the roast and mashed potatoes, Mum? It’s got vegetables, too.”

“That sounds good,” she tells him. “I think I’ll have the same, though the adult portion, of course. And lemonade to drink.”

“And what do yeh want to drink, little man?” Seamus asks.

“Lemonade,” Hugo says with a grin. “Mum and I are copying each other tonight.”

“I’ll put the order in cause your server is pretty busy,” Seamus tells her. “Then I’ll bring your drinks back and take a short break.”

After Seamus leaves, she looks at Hugo. “No flying monkeys.” She smiles. “So is that film why Grandpa decided to make a bicycle fly?” She hasn’t seen the film in decades, but can’t recall a scene with flying that didn’t involve broomsticks.

“Yeah. The mean woman after the yippy dog is flying her bicycle during that storm, and Grandpa was really interested,” Hugo says. “Didn’t want to tell him that I don’t think it was our kind of flying. You know how Grandpa gets. ‘sides, I get to help him, and I love that.”

“Oh, okay.” She doesn’t remember the scene at all but nods anyway. She smiles when Hugo mentions ‘how Grandpa gets’. “I know you love helping him in his workshop.”

Seamus returns with their drinks and sits in the chair next to hers. “So, are you ready to go off to school?”

Hugo makes a face. “No, but I have to cause Mum and Dad won’t let me stay home.”

“Hogwarts is a lot of fun, Hugo. I met your parents there, after all,” Seamus says. “If you’re lucky like me, you’ll make friendships that last forever. Plus, there’s lot of secret passages and hiding spots to explore, so there’s always trouble of some sort to get into.”

“Don’t tell him that,” Hermione says, lightly smacking Seamus on the shoulder as he laughs.

“Coming from you, that’s rich.” Seamus leans forward and confides, “Your mum probably knows most of those secret places with all the sneaking around she used to do there. Broke many rules, our Hermione, yet was the best bloody prefect Gryffindor ever saw. Would have been Head Girl, no doubt.”

“You broke rules?” Hugo gapes at her. “Mum!”

“Of course I didn’t. Don’t listen to Seamus.” She smiles. “Rules are important and should be followed. There might have been a very few times when a situation required that I bend a rule, but I tried to never break any.”

“Bend?” Seamus snorts and takes a drink of his pint. “Twist and turn and distort so they’re utterly unrecognizable, maybe.”

“Still don’t wanna go,” Hugo tells them. “Don‘t see why I can‘t learn at home instead. I know I have to go, but it doesn‘t mean I have to like it.“

“Once you get there, you’ll like it,” she tells him confidently. She hates that he lacks Rose’s excitement for school, even if she can understand it. She decides to change the subject because Hugo’s touchy about Hogwarts unless he’s talking about the trouble he and his cousins can get into once he’s there. “Have you heard anything else on your application?”

Seamus shakes his head. “No, they’re giving us the run around still and doing their best to not give us an answer, one way or the other. Bloody pathetic when we’d have a better chance in the Muggle world than here.”

“This world lags behind the Muggle world in many social issues. It can be accepting, in a lot of ways, yet so narrow-minded in others,” she tells him, giving his shoulder a squeeze. “If they do decline it without a valid reason, let me know. I’ve had to deal with Oakwood before and my new intern has some contacts there, so maybe I can stir up enough trouble that they decide their personal thoughts about some relationships aren’t enough to stand before the Wizengamot to defend their actions.”

“Susan? I heard about her finally deciding to enter the program.” Seamus glances at Hugo, who is using sugar packets to create a pattern on the table. “If they decline, Dean and I will discuss it and figure out if we want to deal with that or not. Could always just go to the Muggle world, I suppose, even if it wouldn’t be that fair to a child to be raised around something they couldn’t ever use.”

“Magic isn’t as important as parents who love you,” Hugo says, glancing up and smiling. “I wouldn’t care if I never got a wand if it meant I had Mum and Dad.”

“Yeah?” Seamus smiles. “I’ll remember that, Hugo. As well as the fact that you’re a right good listener.” He gives Hermione a look and laughs. “Now, Mum, you can’t scold him for eavesdropping since we were talking right here in front of him.”

“I wasn’t going to,” she says. “But, yes, he’s a very good listener, it seems. I need to be more careful and stop thinking he‘s too young to understand.”

“I understand lots,” Hugo tells them before he goes back to working on his sugar packets.

“Yep, he’s definitely your son.” Seamus smiles cheekily. “Ron doesn’t always listen that well.”

“Ron listens better than a lot of people seem to realize. Makes him a good auror.”

“Oi! Speak of the devil,” Seamus says, nodding towards the door.

She looks up and does a double take when she realizes that Ron is with Teddy. While she and Ron had come to an understanding yesterday about his behavior and crossing lines, she’s still surprised to see them together.

“Should I wave them over or would it be too awkward?” Seamus murmurs.

“Why would it be awkward?” she whispers back, arching a brow as she looks at him.

He snorts. “If I have to answer that question, you must find me pretty stupid. I’ve seen you come in here dozens of times for working lunches over the years with a variety of people. Never seen you looking at them the way you’ve been looking at a certain colleague in recent weeks. Might be wrong, has happened before, but I trust my instincts on this one.”

“Oh, well.” She rolls her eyes at his smug look and elbows his side. “Seems I’m even worse at keeping a secret then I ever realized.”

“Nah. Isn’t noticeable to just anyone. I know yeh well is all.” Seamus tugs on her hair before he whispers, “Saw you look at Ron like that enough times back at Hogwarts to recognize it, after all.”

She blushes and studies Hugo, hoping he hasn’t overheard their whispering, too. She glances at the bar, where Ron and Teddy have found a seat and are drinking pints. It might be rather awkward, considering, but she’s dying of curiosity about them being together, and she also wants to know how Teddy’s lunch with Greg went, so she nods. “Feel free to wave them over.”

“Oi! Ron, Lupin, get your bony arses over here,” Seamus calls out in a loud voice which is not quietly waving by any means.

Ron and Teddy turn towards them. Teddy grins and his hair flashes turquoise when he sees her, while Ron just smiles. They leave the bar and walk over to her table. “Dad!” Hugo forgets about sugar packets and grins. “And Teddy.”

“Look at you two, being lazy and eating out in the middle of the week,” Ron scolds playfully as he ruffles Hugo’s hair and sits down. He looks at Hermione and tilts his head slightly.

She looks from him to Teddy and back again before she nods once. He seems to relax and his smile widens. “Well, look at you two, going for a pint in the middle of the week.”

“Wasn’t planned,” Teddy says as he moves an empty chair from the table behind her.

“No need for that, Lupin. You can sit here,” Seamus says with an innocent grin that is anything but as he stands and indicates the chair next to her. “My break’s nearly over anyway.”

“Mum brought me here so we can have treacle tart,” Hugo tells them. Ron gives Seamus a suspicious look as Teddy sits down.

“Treacle tart? That sounds good,” Teddy says. She bites her lip when she feels his hand on her thigh. He squeezes once in greeting before letting go. “I planned to stay in tonight and catch up on work, but Ron showed up at my flat and mumbled something about a drink, so I couldn’t resist.”

“That’s cause I’m irresistible,” Ron declares before he takes a drink of his pint. “And what did you do today to deserve treacle tart, Hugo?”

“Lots. I made sure Grandpa didn’t break his neck and helped Gran make eggs for breakfast and didn’t tease Lily when she got scared at the cinema even though the film wasn’t scary at all.”

“Uh, okay.” Ron looks at Hermione helplessly.

“Arthur took the children to see a Muggle film called The Wizard of Oz. Apparently Lily got scared, but Hugo didn’t tease her. Arthur decided to work on making a bicycle fly, and Hugo kept an eye on him so he wouldn’t get hurt. Oh, and he helped Molly make eggs,” she translates.

“Ah. I understand now.” Ron grins. “I’ll have to tease Harry about his daughter being scared of a film, however, because I’m not nearly as mature as Hugo.”

“Lily’s scared of so many things,” Hugo says, rolling his eyes. “But you can’t tease Uncle Harry cause that’s mean, Dad.”

“Yes, it’s very mean,” Hermione agrees.

“So, a flying bicycle?” Teddy asks. “That’s interesting.”

“Grandpa likes to try to make nearly everything fly. It’s fun, even if it hardly ever works,” Hugo says. “Gran worries more now than she used to ‘bout him getting hurt, so he doesn’t do anything too dangerous now, though I’m not supposed to tell her he’s not. He didn’t say I couldn’t tell anyone else, so I’m not breaking a promise.”

“We won’t tell her,” Teddy promises with a smile before he turns to Hermione. “How was your day? You were in meetings whenever I was actually in the office.”

“Busy but productive. I managed to get everything to a stopping point earlier than usual, which is always nice,” she says. “How was your day?”

“Good.” He ducks his head and bites his lip. “Have a lot to think about after lunch. But, yeah, it was good.”

“I’m glad. If you need an ear, I’ve got two,” she offers before she takes a drink of her lemonade.

“I know. And I’ll take you up on that later,” Teddy murmurs, moving his leg against hers lightly.

“Oi, I’ll be right back,” Ron says. “Need another pint before I can’t reach the bar. Anyone need anything?”

“I’ll take another,” Teddy says. “Thanks.”

Ron goes to the bar, and Hermione looks at Hugo. “I wonder if you’ll be hungry for treacle tart after you eat all your roast.”

Hugo grins. “I’ll save room for tart. It’s so good. You should have some, too, Teddy.”

“You know what? I think I will.” Teddy leans over and moves one of the sugar packets. “That’s brilliant.”

“Yeah? I like patterns. See, I turned them this way cause the lines all go in this direction,” he explains. “Then I moved them like this cause, well, see. Like here.”

She watches him smile as he excitedly tells Teddy how he decided to arrange the packets and describes his design, loving the enthusiasm he shows for creating. Ron comes back and starts to listen, sharing a smile with her before he looks proudly at their son. She feels Teddy’s hand on her thigh, just resting there as she asks Hugo questions and occasionally smiles at her while they wait for their food.