Until today, I've never regretted marrying Hermione. There've been
arguements and fights, of course, but still, I've always thought I did
the right thing eleven years ago.
But this morning, she left.
On a business trip. She'll return on Friday, that's not the problem.
The problem is that now I'm left alone with the boys. I love them, of
course, but I've never spent three days alone with them without their
Now it's late afternoon, and miraculously, it's
silent. They aren't fighting. I reckon it's partly because I've allowed
Simon to ride my broom outside, have sent Dennis with his toy wand to
the opposite corner of the garden and Chris is too young to do anything
but try to walk, which is taking his whole attention. And poor Nick is
still doing his homework.
Yes, in good old Weasley tradition
we have four boys, all of them with red hair, freckled faces and a very
un-Grangerish attitude towards learning and school. No one would ever
guess they were related to Hermione. It would seem that my genes are
the only ones coming through!
Knackered, I let myself fall into my armchair, taking the Daily Prophet
with me. I haven't read anything but the headlines today (at that
point, Hermione called to remind me how to warm the milk for the fourth
time in two days), and it's the first quiet minute I've had since she's
been gone. Only Merlin knows how long it'll stay this peaceful, so I
have to seize my chance.
It's been an exhausting day, much more exhausting than any Quidditch training. And I've some experience with Quidditch training!
first thing Chris did when Hermione was gone was to try walking through
the door. Unfortunately, he didn't take the doorstep into account, and
so I spent the first half hour of my Hermione-less time with a
screaming child who only stopped crying when I made some sparks shoot
out of my wand. At least I was awake by then – the early morning has
never been my best time. Now he hasn't been crying for at least fifteen
minutes. That's his new record, I reckon.
Then, Dennis broke
his favourite toy. Normally that doesn't mean much, as Dennis'
favourite toys change as often as Chris' nappies, but of course he was
inconsolable. It wasn't even something great or exciting, just one of
those stupid red plastic things Grandma Granger always gives to them.
Hermione hates them too (she reckons they don't have a good influence
on the children's attitude towards learning), but she doesn't dare to
throw them away. Luckily, I managed to present Dennis with a new
After lunch, Simon noticed it was his toy wand
that was Dennis' new favourite toy. He hasn't touched the thing for
ages – far too boring for a seven-year-old – but suddenly it was his
very favourite toy and he needed it immediately. Though, there was
nothing happening "immediately" for Simon. Hermione advised me strongly
(she has threatened to hex me) to make him do his homework before
anything fun. I'm lucky she isn't my mother. Poor Simon only started
smiling again when I praised his scribbles to the skies and let him
take my broom. The play wand, of course, had already been forgotten.
each of the little ones occupied, this leaves only Nick with his
incredible mass of homework. Hermione always says it's a good
preparation for Hogwarts, that Muggle school. I disagree. First of all,
I can't stand seeing poor Nick's face when he has to do his homework
while everyone else is playing outside. Second, I got 5 N.E.W.T.s and
I've never been to a Muggle school. I even scored two and a half points
higher than Harry in Charms, and he did go to one. Hermione, however,
says that she only achieved her seven O-N.E.W.T.s and 9 O.W.L.s and her
position in the Ministry because of the solid knowledge she acquired in
Muggle school. In my opinion, her solid knowledge is completely duff.
Who'll ever ask her what Charles the umpteenth did in 1683? When I came
to Hogwarts, I could read, write and count, and that's really
sufficient. Not even Snape wanted to know the stuff they're doing in
But somehow Hermione always gets what she wants
from me, and so we sent Nick to the local Muggle primary school when he
was five. Simon followed three years later and the same fate awaits
Dennis this autumn. Truth be told, my sons and I don't need said solid
knowledge – we have her. And if she doesn't know it, she knows a book
"Dad! Can you help me?" I hear my eldest son shout
and have only half risen when he enters the living room, his notebook
under his arm and his fingers blotched with ink.
"I don't understand this," he says, shoving a paper under my nose.
"Of course I can help you," I say. "Sit down." Then I take a closer look at the paper. It's maths.
Nick went to school, I though I could do maths. Counting is easy, and
everyone knows that seven and three is ten, nine and five, fourteen and
that three Sickles give 87 Knuts. Wait, isn't it 85? Oh, never mind,
you know what I want to get across. The first year wasn't too bad; even
I know that five's bigger than four and such nonsense. But with the
first text exercise in Nick's second year, I gave up. "John has three
The paper I'm holding in my hands might as well be
blank – I've frankly no idea what these numbers mean. My son is looking
at me expectantly, so I start at least reading the first exercise to
him. Luckily there are only three. Unluckily, each of them has several
"Exercise one. Put in the missing numbers and continue the order of numbers."
There are three different sequences of numbers, none of them making any sense. What the heck does that maths teacher mean with 54 - … - 72 – 81 - … - … - 108? I've
always known that she's a bit weird; she reckons we're massive
environmentalists because we have no car, but that's going too far.
Nick's eyes tell me that he doesn't know what to do either. One thing
is certain, that boy will never take Arithmancy. Normally Hermione
helps Nick with his maths; she's been through the same nonsense at her
school. But Hermione isn't here, she's discussing non-tradable objects
in Stockholm while we need her help.
And there isn't anyone else in the family who has been to a Muggle school.
– there is. Grandma Granger. After her husband's death she moved near
us to have some company (in other words, to get on our nerves). At
least she takes care of the boys in the afternoon and brings them to
their hockey and football and whatever else they're doing.
when I'm about to throw some Floo powder into the fire to call her, I
remember that she isn't there, either. A two week holiday on the Canary
Well, we're men. We're Weasleys. We'll manage this. It's only some stupid maths.
send Nick to get the textbook, but it doesn't provide much help. It
says that we can find out the number by pure logic. Unfortunately, all
the logic concerning maths in our family belongs to Hermione. Maybe we
should try Fortune telling?
"Have you done these exercises in
class?" I ask my son, hoping for some information that doesn't tell us
to use our logic. Maybe he remembers something… But Nick has inherited
my type of brain cells. That's those which remember the exact Quidditch
results of 1993 (and, in his case and due to his Muggle friends,
football and cricket, too), but which are at a loss when it comes to
maths or similar activities. At least he remembers after some minutes
of very hard thinking, that Miss Stebbins told them to find out the
matching number. Well, I wouldn't have guessed that!
"Did she tell you how?" I inquire.
said it's so easy we could find out just by ourselves." Nick shrugs his
shoulders and glances at the paper as if he waits for it to
automatically show the solution. "But it's difficult. These numbers are
He's right – it is difficult. For some minutes, both of us are staring at the paper, calculating silently. I don't find any numbers which match.
"What else have you done recently?" I ask him for a last hint.
I'm no friend of long Latin words. Mum has never done Muplicitation
with us, I'm afraid. Or she had some different word for it. Well, no
matter what, I don't know what it means. I just hope that Nick doesn't
notice the helpless expression on my face. I'm at a loss with this.
"Well… so… if you use them, do you find anything that matches?" I stutter.
Nick stares at me as if I were a genius and starts rattling down numbers in a small voice. My eyes wander towards the Prophet – will I be able to read that article about the Wasps' new system?
I have it!" With his loud voice, Nick destroys my hopes. Excitedly, he
fills out the first row of numbers and continues it. Now I see the
logic, too – the difference between the numbers is always nine. After
my approving nod, I let Nick fight with the other columns and enjoy the
silence along with the Prophet.
second exercise is a text exercise about cows and hay of which I don't
understand a single bit. But luckily Nick seems to get along with it
quite well, now that he knows it's about – er, Plutimication? – and can
solve the entire thing surprisingly fast.
Then we bend our heads over the next – and last – exercise:
1065 ∙ 371 =
a complete enigma, at least to me. But as Nick starts scribbling down
numbers immediately, I'm leaning back in my chair again. Obviously he
has understood Lumiplication now, so he'll have finished soon. He's
doing just fine – I wonder why he never scores well on his maths tests.
Maybe Hermione makes him learn too much? The clock strikes; there's
still a half-hour left until dinner. It is the perfect period to read
the analysis on the Ireland versus Chile game. Chris has been silent
for a suspiciously long time; it must be his new record. I just hope
that he hasn't knocked himself out. Hermione would go barmy.
I'm stuck." Nick's notebook appears under my nose and a blue finger
points at some numbers. It looks very interesting indeed, but I've
never learnt how to plummivy numbers. Of course I know that point, it
means "times," and I can do stuff like two times three equals six and
such, but I've never done 1065 times 371.
Now I'm positive
that Miss Stebbins is off her trolley. Giving such an exercise to
ten-year-olds! I always knew that there was something wrong with her;
she kept on babbling about how wonderful it was that we didn't have a
car and every month invites us to a meeting of environmentalists.
Luckily, Hermione always finds a good excuse as to why we don't have
time on that particular evening.
"Can you tell me the result,
Dad?" My son looks at me with his big brown eyes, the only feature he
has inherited from his mother, and I can't stand to tell him that I
can't help him. "You could use Mum's calculator."
calculator! That's the solution! She keeps it on her desk and sometimes
uses it to check Nick's exercises. Of course, the poor kid isn't
allowed to use it – she says he has to learn how to solve his exercises
by pure logic.
I set off towards Hermione's study and find
the calculator immediately. There are buttons with numbers and strange
signs, arrows and points. These must be some symbols for advanced
maths; I've never been taught any of these by Mum. I press some of the
number buttons, but nothing happens. Strange. The calculator doesn't
seem to work properly. After shaking it a bit (Grandma Granger always
shakes her eckeltrick things when they don't work), I type 1-0-6-5 - no
Nick's eyes grow even larger and sadder, and so I
continue pressing various buttons instead of simply telling him that
this thing doesn't work. And there's no Muggle in the family who could
help me. Wait – but there's a Muggle lover instead! My dad knows
everything about eckeltrick Muggle devises and I'm positive that he
knows how to repair this calculator. So I grab some Floo powder and
call the Burrow. Dad's mad about the calculator and promises to come
over and help me immediately. After some thorough examination, he moves
a slide on the right side of the calculator and a red light starts to
glow. It's on! Expectantly, I press 1-0-6-5. Nothing happens, apart
from the wireless starting to play in Hermione's study. Has one of the
boys sneaked inside? No, one look into the garden tells me that both
Simon and Dennis are playing peacefully. And Chris is too small to get
"Dad? I don't think this is the
calculator. Mum's has some kind of screen." Nick has thrown a look at
the calculator and is snickering. "It's the remote control for Mum's
radio. See?" He presses the "two" and the programme changes. Well, at
least this Muggle education is good for something – he can't do much
more maths than I can and won't know about any of the ingredients Snape
will ask him about on his first day at Hogwarts, but he knows about
remeet controls and stuff. He should go into Muggle relations when he's
I replace the control on Hermione's desk
and continue my search for the calculator. Finally I find another box,
a silver one with a small screen and buttons with numbers. When I find
a button with a "+" on it, I'm positive it's the real calculator this
Grinning, I return to my father and son. Nick's
introducing his grandfather to the cricket rules, drawing moves into
his notebook. Hermione would scream.
"That's the calculator,"
Nick declares and so I press the "on" button. The screen lights up and
when I press the 1-0-6-5, the numbers appear on screen. Fascinated, Dad
gazes at the calculator. Then I press the point for "times," just like
it's written in the exercise, put in the 3-7-1 and finally press the
small sign for "equals." Nothing happens. I press it again. Nothing
"Are you certain that this is the calculator?" I ask my son and he nods.
"Maybe it's the batteries," Dad says, his eyes lighting up.
"But then it wouldn't work at all," Nick retorts. He really should go into Muggle relations.
I shake the calculator but nothing happens. It must be broken somewhere.
obviously it's not working," declares Dad, as if we hadn't noticed
already. His eyes are gleaming with joy. Oh no, please not… "I'm going
to fetch my tool box."
I'm not positive if he'll do the
calculator any good, but before I can say anything, he has stepped into
the fireplace and has gone.
At the same moment, havoc breaks
out. Chris is screaming horribly upstairs, he sounds as if he has
broken at least both his legs, and I hear Simon and Dennis fighting
outside. I just hope that they're not using my broom as a weapon and
decide to go and look after Chris first. He sports a monstrous lump on
his head and no sparks, not even a Wingardium Leviosa on his
teddy can cheer him up. He just keeps crying and gets very red in the
face, looking as if he will explode at any moment. So, I decide to try
my last resort: I cast a Cheering Charm. Chris doesn't look too happy,
but at least he's silent and so I hurry downstairs, holding him in my
In the living room, Dad is taking the calculator
apart. Small Muggle items are lying all over the table, and there isn't
much left from the calculator at all. Looks like we are going to have
to buy a new one before Hermione returns.
Shouts from the hall
signal that Simon and Dennis have taken their fight inside. Something
shatters and, having laid Chris onto the floor and told the
comic-reading Nick to keep an eye on his baby brother, I hurry towards
Just when I arrive in the hall, I see my
cherished broom crash down next to Dennis, luckily not hitting him but
one of the large vases Hermione got in Morocco. I can't stand them
anyway, but she'll be livid. And, most unluckily, Simon hasn't noticed
the pedestal the vase stood on and with which my broom now collides. A
crash. A horrible cracking sound. I lose control and shoot two Petrificus Totaluses at them.
In the meantime, Chris has started crying again.
"Ron? What is going on here?" a resolute voice asks through the chaos.
hour later, Mum has solved Nick's maths exercise and explained to him
how to do it without a calculator, healed Chris' bump, told Dennis and
Simon off, served us a delicious dinner, cleaned up the mess in the
hall, sung Chris to sleep, made Simon and Dennis play peacefully and
sent Dad and Nick to buy a new calculator.
A/N: Thanks to my lovely betas harry_ginnyphile and Dreamer for correcting the same faults over and over again.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. That distinction belongs to the amazing JKR.