Happy holidays Hillary ( @hillyminne )! I’ve tried my best to incorporate everything you mentioned - older Romione, married, Ron with the aurors, them with kids/how they interact and parent them (may have cheated a little on this one, but hope you like it anyway!)
The mood inside the Granger-Weasley home was much livelier than usual. Poor Crookshanks was not used to the amount of giggling and running around that nearly two year old James Potter brought to the house – wild and mischievous, considering his age, or rather, even for his age.
Hermione was wandering around with him, as he stumbled around the house, pointing and laughing at everything in sight. She kept her arms around him for balance, but he seemed to be doing a very good job independently.
“James, James,” she cooed as they walked. “Don’t you want to read a nice book? Book?”
“Cat!” he cried out, lunging out at Crookshanks. “Cat!”
“There are cats here, James!” Hermione exclaimed, holding out the book in her hand and trying to protect her darling old pet, hiding in the corner underneath the table. “Look at this book!”
There was a sudden and loud rush as the fireplace roared to life. Ron appeared through the flames, dressed in dirty but dashing auror robes. He grinned through the soot on his face.
“Blimey, Hermione, kid’s not even ours and you’re forcing him to read against his own will!”
“Oh, shut up!” Hermione said exasperatedly, though she couldn’t resist a smile as he stepped out into the living room. “Reading’s very good for you, and it’s never too early to start. In fact, the earlier the better, to encourage a lifetime love.”
“Bet you quoted that word for word from one of those bloody pregnancy books,” he said lovingly, pecking her on the lips.
“Don’t swear, Ron, not in front of James,” Hermione chided. “Actually, it’d do you some good to start avoiding swearing at all, given the baby.”
At the mention of ‘baby’, Ron’s entire body relaxed and his eyes softened. He placed a hand on her slightly rounded tummy, rubbing it soothingly. “How are you today? Everything alright?”
It was almost a ritual – unspoken, unofficial, but present nevertheless. Every time Ron returned home, or, on the few days he happened to not be with the aurors, every night before they went to bed together, he would place his large hand on her belly and ask how she was feeling about their baby. It had only been a few weeks since they’d found out – goodness, was it almost a month? - but nearly every time, the amount of care, concern and love brought tears to Hermione’s eyes. She tried to blame it on the hormones.
“Fine,” she said softly, smiling up at him adoringly. He smiled back, almost in awe, and she reached up to kiss him properly.
A loud meow and a booming thump pulled them apart. They turned to see Crookshanks racing away, obviously startled, and baby James with a hand to his head, looking like he was one second away from—
“Oh, James!” Hermione exclaimed, rushing over to scoop him up from under the table and rub his head. “Did you hit your head on the table? Silly James, you need to be careful. You could get a concussion from that—or a serious head injury! Oh, Ron! What are we going to tell Harry and Ginny? What if he has a bump? What if he—“
“Relax, Hermione,” he sighed, and they settled down on the sofa with a still wailing James. “He’s fine. Kids hit their head all the time.”
“But we were responsible for him! Look at us, baby-sitting and we let their baby hit his head!”
“Hermione, do you know what kind of shi—stuff Harry lets happen to him? Hitting his head is the least of his worries.”
Hermione continued to rub James’ head fretfully, kissing it every few seconds. Finally, she looked up at Ron with worried eyes and whispered, “What kind of mother will I be?”
Ron’s eyes widened nervously. He wasn’t very prepared for the serious discussion he could tell his wife needed. They hadn’t really spoken about their baby much – not beyond the pregnancy. They hadn’t thought about names, discipline, parenting… all the nerves that came along with it.
“What do you mean?” he asked back, his voice rising slightly. “You’ll be great!”
Hermione shook her head, looking like she would join James any moment. “No, I—what if something happens to the baby and it’s my fault, what if I force it to read and it’s bored because I can’t have fun, what if—“ her voice cracked and she took a shaky breath. “What if they hate me?”
At that, Ron couldn’t help but snort, though it was very obviously the last thing his wife wanted. She let go of James with one hand for a second to slap Ron’s arm. “Ron!” she exclaimed.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” he cried. “I just—Hermione, you’re being ridiculous.”
“Am I?” she said, continuing to hold onto James’ sore head, who was starting to quieten down. “You said it yourself! I’m forcing him to read when he doesn’t want to, I’ll be one of those awful mothers who force their kids to study and do homework and read and—“
“And you wouldn’t be Hermione if you didn’t,” he said, kissing her forehead quickly to stop her ramblings. She didn’t look very mollified at his words, and he sighed, placing an arm around her and James. “Look, you’re going to do all that, but that’s just you. It wouldn’t be our kid if you didn’t get them to read from the second they were born, or if you didn’t push them to do well in school. But there’s no way they’ll hate you for it. For one thing – they’re half you, so if there’s anything they’ll inherit besides your crazy hair, it’s your brains and love of reading.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, which were shining with tears.
“Hermione, relax,” he said. “I—you know there’s no one else I’d rather do this with, yeah?”
Hermione swallowed, and glanced up at him hopefully. Ron reckoned he’d said something right, so he continued.
“You’re going to be amazing, trust me. You—you’re going to love this baby so much. I see it with the way you look after James, look at him, he’s finally stopped crying and he’s actually sitting half-normally in your lap, looking at that book. I’ve seen it for years with the way you look after me, Harry and Ginny, even when you were forcing us to do our homework every night in the common room. It’s because you care and you know what’s best for us – like a mum should. And,” he leaned in, resting his forehead against his, “you’re kinda fun to be around, sometimes, you know?”
“Sometimes?” she said, raising an eyebrow, but smiling at him nevertheless.
“Sometimes,” he said. “Good thing we’re kind of bound forever, you know?’ He held up his left ring-clad hand to stroke James’ arms softly. “We’ll learn as we go, yeah?”
Hermione nodded, smiling through her tears. “Yeah,” she sighed.
“There’s something else,” he said, and his voice changed from teasing up slightly more sombre. “I have some news.”
“Oh?” she asked, adjusting to allow the restless James to wriggle.
Ron tilted his head nervously, avoiding her gaze for a moment. “How would you feel if I left the aurors?”
Hermione paused for a second to look at him curiously. “Are you?”
“Then I…” she sighed. “I’d honestly be quite relieved.”
“Relieved?” Ron repeated, straightening up. “You… you wouldn’t be, you know, upset or disappointed or—“
“Disappointed that you’re finally out of harm’s way, not off during crazy random hours fighting who knows what? Hardly.”
“George wants me to work at the joke shop,” he blurted out. “What with it being November he’s getting slammed in the lead up to Christmas, and he’s always said I’d be welcome back to help him after I did all that after the war, and he wants me to come help him now with Christmas and maybe as a partner after the New Year’s, so I’d be, you know, part owner almost and get the profits and help with managing and running the place, and apparently I’m really good at coming up with strategies for marketing and promoting, and crunching numbers, and I’ve thought about it and we should come out of it alright money wise, even if I left the aurors, and I hate the thought of anything happening to you or me or the baby because of my job, and since you told me you were pregnant, all I’ve been thinking is it’s shite—“
“—sorry—it’s awful that you’re stuck here on your own worried about me, and when the baby’s born I’ll be so worried about you that I probably won’t be able to keep my head on straight on missions, and I reckon I’ve had enough, I don’t want to be out there fighting when… when there’s something that I need to be here for.”
“Ron,” she said, smiling at him with tears in her eyes. “Ron, that all… it all sounds wonderful.”
“Of course,” she nodded. “I know how much you did for George and the shop, and I know how good you are. All you’ve ever done is make everyone happy, and working at the joke shop is the best way to do that, and if it makes you happy too… it’s perfect, isn’t it?”
The corner of Ron’s mouth twitched up into a small smile, as though he couldn’t quite dare believe that she was receiving it this well.
“But you don’t think it’s like a step down or anything? From being an auror to working at a joke shop?”
She gave him an exasperated look. “The owner of a very profitable franchise, whose hours are much more family-friendly.”
At that, Ron allowed himself to smile fully. “I’m doing it for the family, you know.”
“I know,” she said, beaming at him. “That’s why I love you so much.”
Ron’s ears turned slightly red, and he looked away bashfully. “George said I can take on a few shifts this Christmas, see how things go and how much I like it, but I reckon it’ll be good, and I can resign from the aurors at the end of the year, and get into WWW in January. And plus, that way, I get to control how much I work, so I can, you know, take days off or work from home when you go back to work.”
Hermione frowned at him confusedly. “You mean, you’d want to be a stay at home dad?”
Ron chuckled. “Well, out of the two of us, which one is married to their job?”
“I’m not that bad!”
“When you told your boss you were pregnant, you told him you would take work with you on maternity leave and you still wanted the Hopkin’s case of the century.” He grinned at her. “Nothing should stop you from going back to that, and if the solution is as easy as me staying at home a bit and looking after our kid, then it’s hardly a problem, is it?” Hermione continued to stare at him, and he couldn’t help but ramble a bit more. “I mean, I’ll be with George, so he’ll be fine and pretty flexible with all that. It kind of works, yeah? As long as you trust me to be alone with the baby,” he added, laughing nervously.
Hermione didn’t laugh. She took his hand in her free one and pulled it down to rest between her and James, spreading it on her tummy. “I trust you with my life, and everything that goes with it.”
Ron looked at her with awe. “Glad it’s sorted then,” he said quietly, in an attempt to relieve the tension.
“You’re going to be an amazing dad, you know,” she said suddenly.
“I know,” she said, smiling at him with pride as James began to squirm once more. “Kids love you, you have all the knowledge and experience from your siblings, and you know exactly how to keep me sane.”
“Yeah, that’s not easy, you know.”
“And you even managed to strategise and plan through how we’ll sort out parenting. And I’m so proud of you, Ron.” Her eyes shone with admiration, as she repeated: “I’m so proud, and I love you so much.”
He could feel his ears burning red, and he shrugged his shoulders bashfully. “Back at you, you know.”
“I know,” Hermione whispered back. Suddenly, James wriggled out of her arms with such force that he nearly slipped off her lap.
Ron spun his head over to the table, where Crookshanks was standing, looking afraid for his life once more.
And James was now laughing and screaming and sliding down onto the floor to hurry over to him, and Hermione was getting up and racing after him.
Ron sat back on the sofa, taking in the scene, a big smile growing on his face.
Imagine if Crookshanks had actually succeeded in eating or killing Petigrew in the 3rd book
I wonder if it haunted Crookshanks forever. He could have prevented so much. Sirius would still be alive. Voldemort would still be crawling around Albania as a fetus demon. All he had to do was his duty as a cat and slaughter the little rat. Poor crookshanks.