Don't Party When You Ain't Hearty
When the parents are out and they leave their children at home to do the decoration work, be prepared for naughty banters, exploding chaos... and unfiltered snarks under the effects from a glass bottle that kids should not be drinking from.
When James Hates Doing Free Labor
"I give up."
James Potter plopped himself down into the armchair he had been standing on the whole morning, dropping the decorative strips onto the floor next to him. "This is stupid—can't they celebrate this on their own? Like, take a month's leave from their Ministry desk work and just go on some lame honeymoon somewhere?" He gestured at the banner that read 'HAPPY MARRIAGE ANNIVERSARIES!' in brilliant green paint, a look of annoyance on his face.
"Shut up, James," his cousin, Rose Weasley, shot back as she narrowed her eyes disapprovingly at him. "If you have the energy to complain, why don't you spend it more efficiently by doing real work instead?"
The children were all gathered at number twelve, Grimmauld Place to celebrate the marriage anniversaries of their parents as a collective whole. The older generation decided to simply throw a big party altogether, even though their actual marriage dates were different. Their respective jobs for the Ministry of Magic (in some cases, Gringotts) kept them too busy to take time off their work. It had been slightly more than two decades since Voldemort's dramatic death at Hogwarts, but there was still so much to do. Rebuilding the wizarding world, rounding up the remnants of Death Eaters in hiding or on the run… yada, yada. The list could go on.
James rolled his eyes. Since when were the adults never busy?
"I'm with James on this," Fred Weasley piped up, trying to sit on James' lap until the latter shooed him away. "I mean, what does this have to do with us?"
Rose rolled her eyes and huffed at the sniggering boys, "Very well, I shall educate you pathetic dimwits better: do you think we'll be here fooling around with each other like idiots if it wasn't for our parents' efforts to maintain a happy married life? Happy couples keep their family happy, too. And—"
"Whatever, Rosie," James cut her off, chortling. "Nobody gives a damn about your 'educational preaching'. Go get a life. I heard you've been hooking up with Scorbutt Malfoy." Next to him, Fred had doubled up with howling laughter.
"James Sirius Potter," Rose spat his name with enough venom to make Albus Potter, who was standing on his toes on a stool next to the girl, fall off in surprise. "Don't make me—"
"Stop, stop." Teddy Lupin rushed forward to put himself between the squabbling two, his short hair turning from bubblegum pink to a deep crimson, a sign that he was getting irritated at all the younger kids running amok in the house. "I really can't take my eyes off you lot, not even for one second. Can we just get all this over and done with quickly without any more mishaps?" There were paper rings entwined in a tangled mess around his left arm—possibly the courtesy of the youngest Potter, Lily, who was spotted playing with more paper rings down the hallway, now tying them around Victoire Weasley's ankle.
James didn't want to know what Teddy and those two girls had been up to.
"Sure sucks being you," Fred said as he stood up to excuse himself from the rising tension. "Babysitting isn't my thing, so good luck with that." He strolled off towards his sister, Roxanne, who was wrestling with a skittish cabinet that refused to let her touch it.
Teddy let out a tired sigh and removed the paper rings around his arm with a wave of his wand. "Guys, come on," he said, gesturing wildly at the half-finished decorations hanging limply around the house. "We're getting nowhere at this rate."
"It's something they should do themselves, anyway. It's not our job to do their dumb work." James waved off Teddy's resignation. "What's this, free labor?"
Teddy frowned at James, seemingly unimpressed with the younger boy's complaints that oozed with as much exasperation as the unfiltered sarcasm. Before he could open his mouth, Rose beat him to it.
"Hey," the red-haired girl hissed at James with crossed arms. "Look, I don't care about your petty issues with helping out, but we're not doing this for ourselves. We all want our parents and relatives to be happy. If you're going to be a hindrance here, why don't you go up to your room and shut yourself in with those Japanese picture books instead? You can stay upstairs the whole day for all I care."
James gave his cousin a narrow look. "They are called 'manga'."
"Of course I know what they're called," Rose snorted, rolling her eyes. "And I also know that you've borrowed them from Miyu since last year, with no intention of returning them back to him."
A sudden yelp forced James to pull his glare away from Rose's equally fierce look, and he followed the rest to the source of the voice. Everyone was relieved to find that the shout belonged to a surprised Roxanne, who had managed to tame the jumpy cabinet and unlock the door…
Except that she had a glass bottle in her hands.
James was the first to step forward. Curiosity always got the better of him. "What's that?"
"Don't know," Fred replied, leaning over Roxanne's shoulders. The latter shrugged to echo her brother's response, but only ended up hitting Fred's chin.
"Please don't tell me that's what I think it is," Rose said in a hoarse voice. "Where did you get it?"
Roxanne pointed a thumb at the cabinet behind her. "That thing gave me a hard time when I was trying to clean it, but when it finally calmed down, I found this bottle inside."
"Looks like the expensive Firewhisky that Uncle Bill mentioned a week ago," Albus said, giving Rose a sideways glance. "But why would he keep it in a jinxed cupboard?"
More shrugging. "Maybe he didn't want us to find it," Roxanne said, turning the bottle in her hands. "Ogden's Old Firewhisky, brewed in 1919. Sounds really expensive."
Then, a brilliant idea struck James. Snatching the bottle from Roxanne's hands, he glanced around at his siblings and cousins, his eyes shining with excitement. "Say, want to find out what this thing tastes like?"
When Rose Regrets Everything Else
To Rose's chagrin, the majority went with James' mad idea and they opened up the Firewhisky. Soon, everyone was gathered around the dining table, toasting to each other for the dumbest things that the girl could ever imagine. She had also failed to stop Lily and Hugo, her little brother, from joining the insanity. She could only watch in horror as the youngest pair in the house were promptly knocked out by the effects of alcohol, their puffy cheeks turning to a deep shade of red.
"Strong stuff," Fred moaned as he set down his empty shot glass. "But burning perfection." Although his face was still a healthy pink, his eyes seemed rather unfocused.
Rose could only shake her head. It's all that idiot's fault. "We shouldn't be drinking this. Most of us are still not of age yet—"
"Rosie, puh-leeze," Teddy slurred, already on his third glass and showing signs of drunkenness. "James is right. You're really a killjoy sometimes." Meanwhile, Victoire already had her arms entwined around Teddy's torso, and if anyone squinted hard enough, they would notice the kiss marks around the young man's neck.
Rose threw a look of disgust at the supposedly most mature member in the group of misfits, then looked down at the untouched glass of Firewhisky before her.
"You know you want that stuff."
She almost jumped out of her chair, surprised at James' cooing voice next to her ear. Her cousin's cheeks were flushed, but at least he looked like he could still walk steadily. How else could he have reached her seat through a high-spirited Albus and Roxanne duo, who were tap-dancing around the table?
Fred rapped his knuckle on the table to call for everyone's attention. "Alright, boy and girls—and lovebirds," he added, rolling his eyes at Teddy and Victoire. "Let's get on with the main event of the day." He then placed the empty wine bottle sideways in the middle of the table, gesturing at everybody to take a seat.
Rose narrowed her eyes at him. "What is this 'main event' you're talking about?"
"I know this," James piped up, pointing at the wine bottle. "It's a Truth or Dare game."
"Very popular at Muggle social parties, according to James' Ravenclaw bestie," Fred explained, arching an eyebrow at Rose's reproachful look. "Trust me, this is going to be fun."
"Oh, yeah?" Rose shot a glare at Fred. No way she was going to believe another word the boys were saying—not after the drunken state they were all in now. Besides, anything that James' troublemaking friends had introduced never ended on a good note in her books. "What kind of 'fun', exactly?"
"It's simple," James said. "Spin the bottle. When the bottle points at a person, ask the person if they want to answer a question truthfully, or if they want to do a dare."
Rose turned to stare at James, unsure if she had heard that correctly. "Just like that?"
"Yeah." James seemed confused by her question. "What were you expecting?"
"It's easier if we do a mock run and you'll understand," Fred said, leaning forward to reach the whisky bottle. "Ready?"
Everyone around the table (sans the still sleeping Lily and Hugo) held their breath as they watched the spinning bottle slowing down, before coming to a stop…
And pointing at Rose, of all people.
Rose sighed. So much so for a great start. "Oh-kay, so what am I supposed to do?"
Fred smirked at her. "Truth, or Dare?"
Rose didn't like the look on her cousin's face. She wasn't going to give him any satisfaction for getting on her nerves. "Truth."
Fred's grin only widened. "So, what do you hate about Aunt Hermione?"
Every pair of eyes in the room were now on Rose, who went rigid in her chair. The red-haired girl inhaled slowly at the intense attention on her. She didn't know what Fred was thinking or trying to do, and she hated being cornered like this.
"Everything," she began, after a long pause to gather her own thoughts. "She's bossy, she's overprotective, and she can't stop nagging over the most insignificant matters. There are other ways to show care and concern for the family. Better ways. Her method doesn't make me feel loved. She only makes me feel suffocated, treating me like a baby." She raised her glass of Firewhisky and finished it in one swig. "I'm already twelve, for Merlin's sake!"
The shouting, mixed with the burning sensation of alcohol that set her throat on fire, made Rose bend forward into a coughing fit. Gross. She couldn't understand why her parents—or any of the adults, for that matter—would like a drink such as this. Her tongue was going numb from the spicy sting. Still, she felt lighter, freer, as if someone had lifted the weight off her shoulders.
She felt so much better.
James was the first to burst out laughing after Rose slammed down her wine glass. "Aren't you talking about yourself?" He banged his fists on the table. "You're exactly like your mother!"
More coughing. "No I'm not!"
"Well, you are certainly nothing like your father," James went on, pointedly ignoring Rose's outcry. "Other than the outward appearance, you're nowhere as cool as Uncle Ron."
"Are you trying to pick a fight with me?"
It took a while for James to stop laughing. "You should take a good look at yourself in the mirror, Rosie," James said, wincing as he rubbed his sides. "No matter how hard you try to deny it, it's too damn obvious to even lie your way out of it. If you're as mature as you've always claimed, just admit it already."
If there was a time that Rose truly felt a sense of defeat, it was this moment when she had to get a lecture from the last person she ever wanted to hear from, in front of so many people. Worse, she had nothing to retaliate back.
"Can I have another drink, please?"
When Hermione Loses Her Cool
(And Ron Has to Save the Day)
"I have a really bad feeling about this."
It was the umpteenth time that Hermione Weasley muttered the same line throughout the shopping trip. Her eyebrows furrowed deeper with each passing minute, and she was becoming more and more impatient. Her restlessness was bad enough that even Ginny Potter had to turn around to face her sister-in-law.
"Hermione," she finally said, sighing. "Relax. I'm sure they will be fine. Besides, Teddy is around to take care of them—"
"He is exactly what I'm worried about," Hermione huffed, shaking her head so violently that her bushy hair seemed even larger than usual. "Teddy is a good boy, but he's too nice to handle the likes of Fred and James. I'm so glad that James didn't invite his friends over. They'd only make everything worse by tenfold."
"But you gotta admit that they're fun to have around," George spoke up suddenly from behind the ladies, surprising the two. "Especially the Muggle-born Ravenclaw—I think Tobey is his name—who has taught me a lot about the modern Muggle world. You and Harry won't tell me about all the amazing things that Muggles have invented."
Hermione rolled her eyes at him. "Just when you aren't bad enough with all those horrible joke shop ideas, even my husband had to quit his Ministry job to join in with your insanity."
"Well, you know that Ron's talent shines brightest now that he's the manager of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes," George said coolly, not even flinching at the fierce look that Hermione was throwing at him. "He's better at handling money than dealing with dangerous criminals, and I can concentrate on coming up with new products to keep our shop competitive. He's born to be a businessman, not an Auror—and you should know this better than anyone, shouldn't you?"
After a long staring contest, Hermione exhaled slowly and broke the eye contact. She knew a losing battle when she saw one. "You are truly a bad influence on Ron, and the kids, too. I really hate to admit that they are all happier with you around. I can tell from the looks on their faces."
Ginny placed a hand on Hermione's sagging shoulders. "I think you're giving too little credit to yourself," she said. "If George and Ron are there to cheer everyone up with their jokes, then your role is to keep all of them in line, and protect them from harm."
"Yeah, that's something Ron and I can't do as well as you." George patted Hermione's head, but the latter could hear a hint of sadness in his voice.
Hermione swallowed the words that almost tumbled out of her mouth. He is thinking about his twin.
Ginny seemed to have caught that, too. She cleared her throat to break the silence. "Anyway, since we got pretty much everything we need, I think it's time to head back." She glanced around. "Where's Harry and Ron?"
Speaking of the devil, Hermione heard a sudden crack from around the bend where the trio stood. Two figures tumbled out of the alleyway—and it was none other than Harry and Ron, each carrying a huge wrapped box under their arms.
"I thought I heard someone summoning me," Ron spoke first, a little breathless. "Are we on time? Harry took way too long to get his present sorted out."
"We're just talking about you two, actually," Ginny said, eyeing the boxes. "What have you got there?"
"It's a secret," Harry muttered, glancing down at his pocket watch—the one he had received as a birthday present from Arthur and Molly many years ago. "I think we can go first. Bill said the rest will be late." He shrugged. "You know what Fleur and Angelina are like when they're on a shopping spree. No one can stop them."
"I have no intention of waiting much longer, either," Hermione said, giving a sideways glance at Ginny, who nodded in agreement beside her. "I just want to get back to number twelve as soon as possible."
The group headed back into the alleyway. With a series of faint pops, they were gone, squeezing every part of themselves (and their shopping bags!) through the rift of space and time…
And arriving right amongst the bushes just across the group's destination in a tangled heap of limbs and paper bags.
Hermione wasted no time dashing towards the door that magically appeared in between numbers eleven and thirteen, the shopping bags by her side swinging so wildly that they caused raised eyebrows from a Muggle passerby who was walking her dog. She threw the door open with a flick of her wand, storming through the hallway (even shutting the curtain around Mrs. Black's portrait before the latter could begin her usual screams) towards the only source of light in the almost dark house: the dining area.
She could hear the singing voices coming out from the crack of the door of the dining room, albeit out of sync and the lyrics was enough to make her narrow her eyes. Where did they learn those profanities from? Must be James. She pulled the door open with a flourish, and the sight before her made her gasp in shock.
"What in Merlin's name is going on here?"
Everyone in the dining room stopped whatever they were doing and turned their attention to a furious Hermione.
"Oh, hello." Rose hiccuped and waved at her mother. Her cheeks were as red as her hair. "Welcome back."
"Don't 'hello' me, young lady," Hermione hissed through gritted teeth, seething at every crimson face around the table.
She spotted Lily and Hugo soundly asleep at the furthest corner, cuddled together with a blanket over them. All the boys were top-naked with their Hogwarts ties around their foreheads, while the girls had apparently helped themselves to the jar of homemade cookies that Hermione was trying to save for another day.
The biggest regret of all was the empty Firewhisky bottle spinning in the middle of the table, which was coming to a stop and pointing at James.
Hermione could feel her nails cutting into her palm as her grip tightened around her wand, which she raised up and pointed at James. "You. Explain."
James blinked, apparently still too drunk to register the anger in his aunt's icy tone. The boy merely tilted his head in confusion, shrugging.
Fred looked between the two, and jerked a thumb at his cousin. "It's all his idea, by the way."
James threw a look of disgust at Fred, obviously annoyed that the latter would betray him without a second thought. "Hey, everyone in this room did have their fair share of fun, so don't think you can wriggle yourself out of this and walk away like it didn't happen."
"You're right that everybody here is at fault, and that I am not going to let you all off the hook so easily," Hermione said, her wand still pointing at the boys. "I'm very disappointed in you. I thought you could be mature enough to get the decorations done before we came back and then we could all celebrate the occasion together happily, but look at yourselves now!"
"Yeah, yeah, but this occasion is none of our business," James shot back curtly, not caring that he was being disrespectful towards the last person he should be butting heads with. "Why do we need to waste money, time and effort on all these stupid decos? We can celebrate the same without them—just get the food and we're good to go. The decos will end up in the trash at the end of the day anyway, so why bother?"
To Hermione's utter surprise, even Rose was siding with James. "Now that I think about it, James does have a point," she said slowly. "I've never felt so relaxed, so relieved in my life."
"Oh, I almost forgot," Rose went on, winking at her mother. "I hate you."
Hermione could feel something had snapped into pieces somewhere in her mind. She was at her wit's end. "Rose, come here—" she began, her body inching forward to reach her daughter, but someone had grabbed her wrist to stop her.
It was Ron, who glanced around the room with mild amusement before his expression turned to concern when he faced his wife. "Hermione, don't," he said breathlessly. "You need to calm down."
"How can I calm down at this ridiculous nonsense right before me?" Hermione shouted into Ron's face. It took her a couple of seconds to realize what she had done, and the anger dissipated, replaced by guilt. "I'm sorry, Ronald. I… It wasn't my intention to lose my temper at you. I just…"
"S'okay, I know you didn't mean it."
"Well, well," George piped up behind the flustered couple, whistling at the mess in the dining area. "The party has started without us, eh? That's sly of you."
Hermione wasn't about to let the matter rest just yet. "George, we can't just forgive them like this."
"I never said we have to let them be." George shook his head with a sigh. "Yeah, they are at the wrong for finishing Bill's favorite Firewhisky without us—"
"That's not my point!"
"—but try to look at things from their perspective," George continued, ignoring Hermione's outburst.
"George is right," Ron said, letting go of Hermione when she had calmed down. "They were probably restless and bored from doing something they didn't enjoy. Naturally they caved into their curiosity, because it's the most obvious way of escapism for them."
Harry and Ginny were equally amused at the chaotic scene when they finally stepped into the dining room. They didn't seem too surprised at the result.
"Let's bring out the food and continue the party," Ginny said, smirking at the hilarious getup James and the other boys were in. "Today is supposed to be a happy occasion for everyone. We can save the lectures for tomorrow."
James' grin turned upside down. "But, Mum—"
Everyone in the room burst into laughter.
Hermione couldn't help but crack a smile; the happiness around her was pushing her irritation to the back of her mind. Even if this wasn't right, alcohol wasn't so bad after all. Maybe this was what they needed.
"Well, I'll leave it to Bill to do the lectures," Hermione said, giving James a smug look. "I wonder how he will react if he finds out that his precious whisky is gone, thanks to little devils like you?"
Her grin widened further at the guilt written all over the young boy's face. "I'm just pulling your leg," she said with a chuckle, and everybody laughed again.
The party went on with more cheers, clinking glasses, and of course, booze.
Forum: The Houses Competition
Year/Round: Year 2, Round 4
House/Position: Gryffindor, Year 2
Category: Themed - Family
Prompt: [Speech] "Well, you are certainly nothing like your father."
Rating: T for underage drinking and half-nudity