A/N: And now for my traditional (it's happened twice, that's a tradition) Halloween trio fic. Treehouse of Trio, if you will. Many thanks to Ninnytreetops and a guest reviewer called Emily for putting this idea in my head. I should probably thank slasher flicks of the '90s as well for hours of entertainment, laughter and inspiration.
Disclaimer: J.K Rowling owns Harry Potter and wants to suck your blood.
31st October, 2000
Harry rubbed his hands together as he made his way down the London high street. The chill in the air hadn't stopped the floods of children going door to door in Grimmauld Place with their tired parents. Watching all the so called vampires, witches and devils collecting sweets from his neighbours made Harry a little sad that they couldn't see his house. Although he supposed if they could he'd be sick of getting up every five minutes and would start ignoring the doorbell.
With Ginny away with the Harpies playing in the European Cup he didn't fancy spending the night alone so had pulled on his coat and snuck out of his house. Thankfully the children had been too distracted by all the E-numbers to notice him appearing from nowhere. Little over half an hour later Harry found himself walking past droves of students staggering from pub to pub, fully enjoying the latest excuse to dress up.
"What you supposed to be then?" a teenager with a thick Geordie accent and a ripped and red-stained t-shirt called to him from across the road. His friend who was in a superhero costume, complete with tights and cape, was trying to push him into a taxi.
Harry smirked. "A wizard."
The two men looked him up and down.
"That's even lazier than his costume," the superhero said, punching his friend in the arm.
"Don't what you're talking, man," the Geordie laughed, his words slurred. "I spent hours on this!"
Shaking his head as the two of them sped off in the taxi, Harry got a key out of his pocket before unlocking the door next to a laundrette. Once he had closed the door behind him, he bounded up the narrow staircase, hoping to bring some feeling back into his legs, and then used the same key to open the door at the top.
"Hello?" he called out nervously. He'd learnt his lesson about not making his presence known upon entering, especially when all the lights were off like they were at the minute. Listening closely, he could just make out the sound of the TV in the living room.
"That you, Harry?"
"Piss off, we're naked."
"Shut up, Ron."
Laughing, Harry removed his coat, hanging it up on one of the hooks by the door, then took off his shoes. Past experience had told him that if they were without clothes neither of their voices would have been audible to anyone who wasn't a dog or a bat.
Horrifying flashbacks suppressed, Harry entered the living room and saw his two best friends cuddled together under a quilt, watching TV in the dark, a huge bowl of popcorn in front of them.
"Why do we bother locking our door?" Ron asked, watching Harry as he slumped into the armchair.
"You gave me a key," he reminded Ron, who just shrugged.
Hermione shifted a little so she could see Harry better. From what he could tell, she had her legs over Ron's under the quilt. "You're welcome anytime. Ignore him."
"I tend to."
"Why are you here?" Ron asked. He shoved a large handful of popcorn into his mouth and frowned at Harry.
Harry cast around for an answer that wasn't anything to do with Ginny being away. "Just – y'know… haven't seen you two in a couple of days."
"Nothing to do with Ginny still being in Hungary, has it?" Hermione asked innocently.
"What are we watching anyway?" coughed Harry with a nod at the TV. He had had enough jokes about being lovesick from everyone at work. Hermione gave Ron a knowing look. Apparently a similar conversation had happened before he arrived.
"I'm Going To Kill You,"Ron answered thickly though his popcorn.
"Okay, but I will warn you that many have tried and so far most have failed."
Hermione laughed as she helped herself to a couple of kernels. "That's the name of the film. It's one of those awful American slasher films where no one can act and the plot is easier to follow than an episode of Scooby-Doo."
"Cool," Harry said. On the screen two high school girls were dancing for no discernible reason. "Have I missed the shower scene?"
"Yep," grinned Ron. "Have you seen this before then?"
"Oh." Ron frowned for a moment before he pushed his confusion aside and his face lit up again. "Anyway, there was this girl and she had massive-"
Hermione cleared her throat.
"-importance to the plot," Ron concluded seriously.
"Ron, what colour was the shower curtain in the very, very important scene?" Hermione ask in a dangerously calm voice.
"W-was there a shower curtain?"
"Yes, the killer strangled the very important actress with it."
"Ooooooh – that shower curtain."
"So what colour was it?"
Ron's face went decidedly blank but Harry could see the panic raging behind his eyes. If it wasn't for Hermione being almost sat on him, Harry would have bet good money that Ron would have jumped out of the window. The whole thing was far more entertaining to watch than the film.
"Hey, Hermione," Ron suddenly chirped up, smiling widely, "remember that time we got married and you promised to love me no matter what?"
Hermione sniffed and snuggled back into her visibly deflating husband. While clearly not fully forgiven, Ron had managed to save himself for the moment.
Smiling to himself, Harry sat back and put his hands in his pockets. It was only marginally warmer in the flat than it was outside.
"Is it cold in here or is it just me?" he asked.
"It's bloody freezing in here," replied Ron though with a thick duvet and a wife to keep him warm it didn't seem to bother him much. "Can't do anything too magical about it in a Muggle flat."
"Yeah, but we wouldn't be able to do anything too magical to cure my frost bite," Harry complained.
With a sigh, Hermione rummaged under the quilt for a moment before extracting her wand and pointing it at Harry. For a split second, Harry panicked. He had always feared that one of them would push Hermione to cursing one of them but he was sure it was going to Ron.
A jet of blue flames whooshed towards Harry and then curled gracefully into a ball on the arm of his chair.
"Some might consider that rude," he told her, his heart still pounding.
Hermione tucked her wand away, eyes still on the film. "Really."
"Only the ones that don't consider it attempted murder."
Carefully, Harry picked up the bluebell flames and balanced them on his knee. The effect was immediate; warmth radiated from the tiny ball and covered Harry like a blanket. It had been nearly a decade and he still didn't know of a spell that worked better than this.
"How do you put up with this?" Harry asked.
Without either of them looking away from the TV, Ron and Hermione pulled the quilt down to reveal they had a jam jar filled with bluebell flames resting on Ron's lap. They re-covered themselves again as though it was normal.
"This is ridiculous."
"When you start paying the heating bill," frowned Ron, "you can complain."
"I'll pay your heating bill!" Harry almost pleaded. Straight away, his friends both glared at him.
"We can pay our own heating bills, thank you," said Hermione coolly.
"Fine," Harry sighed. This was always a point of contention with them. When they had moved out of Grimmauld Place, both Ron and Hermione insisted that they would be able to look after themselves and refused any offers of loans from Harry. While it was all very admirable, Harry hated seeing them have to make do, especially when he still had more money than he could ever know what to do with.
Right now, however, he knew exactly what he'd do with the money – start a bonfire to keep himself warm.
Or throw coins at Ron's head until he turned the bloody heating on.
In the meantime, Harry resigned himself to mild hypothermia. "Pass the popcorn."
"You're all the way over there," whined Ron.
Years of practise had Harry and Ron prepared for this eventuality. Harry leant forward as much as possible, while Ron did the same, the bowl of popcorn outstretched. When this still left over a metre between Harry and the popcorn, they both began straining so much they made small grunting noises.
"Oh for goodness sake," bristled Hermione who was trying to see the TV over the top of Ron's arm as he leant over her. "Just get over here, Harry."
Both Harry and Ron froze, still both straining towards each other. They simultaneously shrugged as Harry got up and plonked himself on the opposite side of the sofa to Hermione. She rearranged the quilt over the three of them as Ron passed Harry the bowl of popcorn.
"Thanks," he said, taking a handful of popcorn. "As long as no one finds out we're snuggle buddies then-"
"You love it and you know it," Hermione interrupted lightly and Harry frowned. It was toasty under the quilt.
To prevent himself from having to admit Hermione was right, Harry ate a piece of popcorn and immediately grimaced. "Urgh, that's salted," he said glaring at the other two accusingly.
Ron had the decency to look guilty. "Hermione likes it."
"What? So you have to eat it as well? Someone's under the thumb."
Hermione looked very pleased with herself and gave Ron a slight squeeze. He still didn't look very happy with Harry's comment. "Hang on." He fumbled under the quilt for a moment before pulling out a red and a purple bag and dropped them onto his lap. "There," he nodded towards the two bags and Harry stared.
"Are those chocolate buttons and – and Maltesers?"
"We're having Muggle Halloween," Hermione explained, helping herself to more popcorn while the boys were distracted.
Harry glanced around the small room and noted a lack of any of the usual magical trimmings that went with a Halloween in the wizarding world. No talking jack-o-lanterns, no temporary bats, not even a novelty dancing skeleton. All they had was a few bags of snacks and the film.
"Why Muggle Halloween?"
"Change it up a bit," Ron answered "All seems a bit scarier when you think all witches and ghosts are evil."
"Okay but how do Maltesers and chocolate buttons make salted popcorn edible?"
Hermione gave Harry an annoyed look before going back to watching a cheerleader hesitantly make her way across an American football field with only a torch to guide her.
"Eat a bit of popcorn with a bit of chocolate," Ron instructed Harry as though he was imparting a great secret upon him.
If it had been anyone but Ron, whom he trusted with his life, Harry would probably have ignored them. Instead Harry retrieved a chocolate button from the bag, popped it into his mouth and then, eyeing Ron suspiciously, added a kernel of popcorn.
"That's…" Harry managed mid-chew. "Wow."
Ron nodded sagely but then ruined the effect by shovelling another handful of popcorn and chocolate into his gob.
"Now I can enjoy popcorn and you two can still rot your teeth," Hermione said happily.
Reaching over for a handful of Maltesers, Harry thought of another solution to his friends' problem. "Why not get some sweet popcorn as well?"
His idea was met with two blank stares.
"Then we wouldn't get chocolate," Ron replied, nonplussed.
"But you could still-"
"I am trying to watch this rubbish."
Turning his attention back to the TV, Harry found himself being drawn into the plight of the blonde cheerleader (now wandering around the darkened halls of her school) as she attempted to track down who had been following her.
"Derek? Is that you?"
"Her best friend's boyfriend."
"Derek, quit it. This isn't funny anymore."
"Three sickles says Derek shows up and then, just when they think they're safe, the masked killer comes at them with a ridiculous weapon."
Hermione appeared to consider Harry's offer for a moment. "Add another two if they split up just before the killer appears in a bid to make us think Derek is the killer."
"I'm sorry I told Jessica about us. I just couldn't take the lying anymore. You should have dumped her anyway. She's been making out with Sean while you're at practise for weeks. Craig saw them. "
"So now the killer knows about Jessica and Sean. Subtle."
"Hermione," hissed Ron as the cheerleader entered a large sports hall, "stop ruining it."
"It's not like I've told you who the killer is."
Ron smirked. "Only because you don't know who the killer is."
"I do know who the killer is."
Just then Derek came up behind the cheerleader, scaring her.
"Derek, you're such a jackass."
"Lighten up, Stacie. It's not like I'm wearing a mask or anything."
"How can you joke about that? Louise and Brad are dead."
"There's a Brad?"
"There's always a Brad."
"Can you two stop?"
"Jesus, Stacie, let it go. You never liked Louise anyway."
"You're a jerk." Stacie gave Derek a withering look and stormed across the hall away from him.
"Stace, c'mon! I'm just- Whatever." The door slammed as Stacie left, leaving Derek alone and disgruntled. "Bitch."
"So is Derek the killer then?" Ron managed with a mouthful of food.
"Of course not," Hermione replied as Stacie, now crying in a corridor, heard a distant noise.
"Derek, I told you this isn't funny anymore, okay?" With a flick of her hair, Stacie rounded a corner and saw a tall figure in a black robe and clown mask, standing at the other end of the hall, a large axe in hand.
"Derek!" shouted Ron jubilantly over Stacie's screams. "It's got to be Derek!"
"Nah, too obvious," commented Harry. Stacie and the killer were now both sprinting down the corridor, her screaming the whole way. She managed to run into an auditorium and barricade the door with a conveniently placed table. "He probably shouldn't be running with that thing," he added as the killer started hacking at the door with the axe.
"If it isn't Derek, then why isn't he helping her?" Ron pointed out.
Hermione let out a long suffering sigh. "Because no one in these films behaves like a normal person."
The killer burst through the wrecked door as Stacie stood on the stage, still screaming.
"For example," Hermione said, "any normal person would run, probably through that fire door on her right, while Stacie is going to stand there and be killed in a gruesome and demeaning way and still have perfect make-up."
Right on cue, the killer threw his axe, slicing a rope above Stacie's head that somehow led to a large wooden back-drop falling on her, slicing her perfectly in half. Bright red blood splattered the stage and back-drop. As the camera panned across the scene, Harry noticed that the blood had somehow missed Stacie's face entirely.
Ron's shoulders sagged. "I liked her," he moaned, apparently not upset enough to stop himself from pouring half the bag of Maltesers into his mouth.
Frowning at Ron's manners, Hermione shrugged. "She was a terrible actress."
"Yeah," agreed Harry, "talk about dying on stage."
Hermione leaned forward so that she could see Harry properly. "Did you write this?"
"You insult me," Harry replied. "I'd have had the killer call "next" or say something about not getting an encore. Poor Stacie deserved a better ending than that."
"What was wrong with her ending?" Ron spluttered. "I thought it was really clever."
Hermione gawped at Ron as though he had just announced that he was giving up chocolate for a year. Well, a week. A year and she would have already been dragging him to St Mungo's for a check-up.
"That was incredibly unrealistic," she laughed. "There was no way she could have been sliced in half by a plank of wood and, even if she could have – which she really couldn't – the blood looked like a fountain of cranberry juice!"
Harry nodded. He would have added that it probably had been cranberry juice but Hermione was incensed and he wasn't stupid enough to step in.
"So?" said Ron, too stupid to not step in. "The people who made this still made it happen! And without magic! That's pretty cool." He sat back with an expression that clearly said he wasn't going to be swayed from thinking B-movie horror was the height of Muggle ingenuity.
Hermione looked at him for a long time, her on features unreadable, until she finally sat back against Ron. "Harry, remember when he didn't understand these things were fictional?"
"Yes, when we had to stop him from calling the police over something he saw on The Bill?"
"That bloke stabbed someone!" Ron protested over Harry and Hermione's laughter. If Harry remembered correctly the only thing that saved the Muggle police a lot of time and paperwork was Ron forgetting how to use a phone, giving Hermione the chance to unplug it.
Ron glared at them. "Yeah, well, remember when you nearly wet yourself because ohh the pictures moved?"
Derek's police interview was ignored by the three of them as they tried to work out who had the most embarrassing story of ignorance. In the end it boiled down to Ron's first experience of a mobile ("I thought the bloke was shouting at me! How was I supposed to know that stupid box thing he had was a phone!") or the time Hermione spent a week researching how the Hogwarts toilets worked ("we're in the middle of an ancient castle and have fully-functioning facilities – it makes no sense!").
Once they agreed that Hermione's knowledge of Hogwarts plumbing probably saved their lives once a basilisk started calling them home they settle back down to watch the climatic ending scenes of the film. Harry had to admit he hadn't really been paying attention but had enjoyed himself anyway. Sitting here, laughing with his best friends beat being on his own and waiting for Ginny to come back.
"I'm sorry, Jessica, but I have to end this. This clown asshole can't kill us all if we split up."
"So Craig's going to die."
"How could you possibly know that, Harry?"
"I'll be right back."
"Shame. I sort of liked Craig," mused Hermione sadly.
Ron looked from her to Harry in confusion. "Have I missed something? Craig is right there! He is still alive."
"I'll be fine-"
"Not for much longer, you won't be."
"Seriously, how can you two be so sure he's going to die?"
"Craig, we need to go back for Derek."
"No. He'll be okay. I need to keep you safe."
"Because… Because I love you."
Hermione sighed heavily. "Why doesn't he just dance in front of the murderer with a target painted on his chest?"
Ron sat up, knocking Hermione from off his shoulder, and frowned down at her. "You can't possibly know that he's going to die. You don't know everything, Hermione!"
A strong sense of foreboding filled Harry as he tried to move as far away from Ron while still being warmed by the bluebell flame. He'd seen them have blow-out fights over smaller things than the outcome of a film before and he wondered if they would notice him sneaking off to the kitchen to make a cuppa.
"Ron, it's obvious. Just let it go."
"No! Derek is the killer, Craig is going to live and then he will get off with Jennifer-"
"Jessica," Harry corrected to the notice of no one.
"-and they will live happily ever after!"
"If you say so," snapped Hermione. "Just don't be too upset when Craig dies, Sean is the killer and Jessica gets off with him because he gets away with it!"
"Hey! Is anyone here? I'm not scared of you."
"Oh look, it's Craig. Alive."
"Not for too much longer," Hermione said as the clown-masked killer entered the warehouse that Craig was in.
"Nah, Craig's got this," Ron dismissed, though he was looking a bit worried. "Don't you reckon, Harry?"
Harry blanched. He agreed with Hermione but had learnt years ago to be as neutral as possible in these situations. "I reckon it's weird that this warehouse has no security to speak of."
"I know that's you, Derek!"
"Even Craig thinks it's Derek!"
"Yes," said Hermione in a bored voice as the killer charged towards Craig, wielding his axe, "and Craig was stupid enough to go into a building he doesn't know with a lunatic after him so he's hardly Poirot, is he?"
The bickering continued, getting steadily pettier with each retort, right up until the moment Craig's face met with the sharp part of axe.
"Oh." Ron slumped down of the sofa, nearly dropping the popcorn as the fight left him. "I liked Craig."
Harry watched bemused as Hermione stroked his cheek, looking genuinely sympathetic. "I'm sorry, Ron," she said kindly. "In these films the moment you say you'll be right back or that you love someone then it's like signing your own death warrant."
"So that's how you knew?"
"Yep," said Harry, securing the popcorn bowl on his own lap. "Having sex, being blonde and not being white doesn't end well either usually."
Ron furrowed his brow. "So… if all these films are the same and you know what's going to happen… then why watch them?"
Harry patted Ron on the shoulder. "Because you can laugh at them. Now that you know the secret you can join in. Only Sean, Derek, Jessica and the killer remain-"
"And Sean is the killer," Hermione cut in.
"So Derek will die next," concluded Harry. "There will be other Craigs in other films, Ron."
With Ron clued in, all arguments ceased and they were all able to mock the ineptitude of the killer and his victims as they ran, fumbled and chased their way through the warehouse. After plenty of near misses and even more shots of Jessica running, Sean managed to shoot the killer in the stomach moments before he stabbed Jessica, causing him to dramatically fall off a balcony.
Out of nowhere, Harry remembered watching Tom Riddle's body fall in the Great Hall. While there were undoubtedly comparisons to be made between the film and what he had just witnessed, Harry found the ending of the Clown Mask Killer was nothing like Voldemort's end. It was clear that the makers had never been in a showdown with a murderous sociopath, but, Harry supposed, not many people had. It was moments like this that made him realise just how weird his life had been.
"Ouch," Hermione winced as the body hit the floor.
On screen Sean leaned over the railing of the balcony, still breathing heavily. "Now who's laughing."
"No one is," said Ron, frowning. "Why did he say that?"
"The clown mask, Ron?" Harry pointed out. "The killer was wearing a clown mask?"
"Yeah, I've been meaning to ask about that – what is a clown?"
Harry's eyes met Hermione's. They looked as nonplussed as he felt.
"It's a type of Muggle entertainer," she explained.
"So why was the killer wearing it?"
"But you said it was an entertainer."
"Forget it," Hermione sighed, shooting Harry resigned look. "Muggle stuff."
"Mental," muttered Ron as they watching Jessica and Sean approach the fallen killer, splayed artfully on the ground, blood gushing from his mid-section.
"Ooooh," Ron said slowly, "so that's what a period looks li- OW!" He rubbed his chest and stared at Hermione with a hurt look.
She seemed totally unfazed by it and snuggled back up into his side. "You deserved that and you know it," she sniffed.
"You nearly ripped my nipple off!" squeaked Ron.
Hermione opened her mouth to retort but Harry beat her to it in a long-suffering voice. "Hermione, don't be mean. You know he needs those to feed his young."
On screen Sean bent down to finally remove the killer's mask. Just as the blood stained rubber lifted Harry was hit in the face with a handful of popcorn. He turned to see who his own attacker had been and saw Hermione looking entirely too innocent.
Harry's counter attack was foiled by Ron's cheer. There on the floor with the axe still in his hand, lay Derek, his eyes staring blankly at the ceiling.
"I knew it," Ron hissed as Jessica began to cry. His fist pump dislodged Hermione from his embrace and she sat up not looking the least bit amused. "Now what have you got to say for yourself, Mrs Know-It-All? Hmm?" he asked her smugly.
"It's not over yet," she replied, crossing her arms.
Ron gawped at her, his jaw almost dislocated. "Not over? The killer has been killed mid-kill and is Derek. What is there left to-" He trailed off as Hermione gestured to the screen.
"I can't believe this. It was Derek. It was Derek all along."
"I know, Jessica. I can't… I can't believe it either. But you saw it. With your own eyes."
Jessica turned out of Sean's embrace, blinking back tears. "It's still so hard to believe. He was our friend. And he betrayed us. He was our friend!"
"Bit dramatic," mumbled Harry.
As the events of night took their toll on Jessica (who still looked very clean considering all she had been through Harry thought) and broke down sobbing, Sean held her and made shushing noises into her hair as he stroked it.
"It's over now. You don't have to be scared anymore."
Ron tilted his head to the side. "Hang on a minute… That watch he's wearing…"
"It does look familiar, doesn't it?" Hermione's lip twitched as she spoke.
"Sean – your watch…"
"What – er – what about it?"
"It looks…" Jessica frowned as she shook her head.
"That's the watch the killer was wearing when he killed Brad," Ron groaned. "How can you not remember it? That Muggle investigator bloke showed you the picture!"
"It's just a watch, Jessica." Sean smiled which was apparently enough for Jessica to forget all about her suspicions. He shook the sleeve of his letterman jacket to cover his watch and led Jessica towards the approaching sirens outside the warehouse.
The credits began to roll and Ron threw himself back on the sofa. "Sean was the killer? But – but – that makes no sense," he howled. "Why was Derek trying to kill them in that last bit then? How did he end up with the mask and – and the axe? And motive? What about motive?"
Harry patted him on the shoulder. "Let it go."
Hermione coughed in a way that sounded very much like "told you" and Ron's attention snapped to her. "How did you guess that? What just happened? What did we just watch?"
"These films never have coherent plots so I simply went for the only person left in the film whom it could be rather than the one who had been used as a red herring throughout," she explained. "The trick is to not think about it too much."
Still looking as though Hermione had written, cast and directed the film in a bid to trick him, Ron could do no more than blink in her direction. Taking pity on him, Hermione hugged him around the middle and kissed him on the cheek. "You solve proper crimes all the time. No wonder you were confused by this nonsense."
Harry shook his head in disbelief as Ron's ears turned pink and he slung his arm back around Hermione's shoulders. Surely they were past the stage where little compliments like that – even back-handed ones – caused blushing and gazing at each other like they were? They had been together for years now. Really, all Hermione had done was point out what Ron's job was.
Sullenly Harry grabbed a fistful of popcorn and chocolate. Ginny gave him better compliments than that. Plus, he would have to earn his compliments by actually guessing the plot twist. She'd smile so widely her nose would scrunch up a little and she'd run her fingers through his hair because she liked it messier and his heart would swell because he lived to put that look on her face.
Still. She'd be back in the morning. Then there would be three days of catching up to do. Although, if Harry had it his way, they wouldn't leave his bed until Bonfire Night.
"What's that face for?"
Harry jumped a little at the sound of Ron's voice and tried to arrange his features into an expression that didn't look like his was missing Ginny so much it hurt. "Nothing," he added for good measure.
Ron continued looking unconvinced but Hermione was smiling at him a little too kindly. "She'll be back tomorrow, Harry."
"I – what- no, I wasn't thinking about her," he spluttered and Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Is there an even more contrived sequel to this?" Harry asked in hopes of a distraction. It was what he'd come here for after all.
"Of course," Hermione laughed.
"What's it called?"
"I'm Going to Kill You Again."
"Did you rent it?"
"Well, how else was I going to live without knowing the conclusion to this gripping tale of suspense and betrayal?" Hermione grinned with a dramatic roll of her eyes.
"Excellent. Stick it on then."
Hermione nudged Ron in the shoulder with the side of her head. "Go on."
"Nah, make Harry do it," he replied, making no effort to move.
"Harry is our guest," Hermione pointed out.
Harry nodded emphatically, causing Ron to narrow his eyes at him. "I didn't invite him," he said. "As far as I'm aware he is a polite burglar."
"Just do it."
"No, you do it."
"I don't want to get up," Hermione mumbled into Ron's shirt.
Ron gently nudged her chin up so he could look at her in the eye. "And why is that, Mrs Weasley?" he asked, smirking.
Harry expected Hermione to roll her eyes and pinch him so he was slightly sickened to see her smile back at Ron in way he didn't feel entirely comfortable seeing. "Because I'm happy here."
"But if I get up," Ron replied solemnly, "then you won't be happy."
"So full of yourself."
"You're not denying it though."
Hermione giggled – actually giggled – and bit her lip. "Change the tape."
"No, you change the tape." Ron rubbed his nose against Hermione's and Harry felt his restraint snap.
"What happened to not being disgusting in front of me?" he grumbled loudly. Neither of them moved away or even stopped smiling.
"Honeymoon period," they replied simultaneously.
Harry groaned. "You got married like 5 months ago!"
From where he was sitting Harry could see Hermione look bemused, as though acting like they did on their wedding nearly half a year after the event was completely normal. Realising he was fighting a losing battle against cutesy loved-up-ness, he pushed himself off the sofa and complained under his breath all the way to the TV.
He tried to make as much noise as possible rewinding the tape and locating the box but he still heard kissing noises. In fact it wasn't until he put the sequel in the VCR player that Ron noticed he had got up.
"Hooray!" he cheered as he settled back into his original position.
"Sorry, Harry," said Hermione, looking as though she hadn't fully been aware of what she had been doing.
Harry snorted. "No, you're not."
"Gotta make him pay his keep somehow," shrugged Ron as he fished the remote out of the cover and hit the play button. It was an unwritten rule that Ron was always in charge of the remote in the flat. Not because he had a tyrannical rein over the TV schedule but because he still felt proud when he pressed the right buttons.
With everyone back in their seats, they settled back and learnt that two years had passed since the first film. The remaining high school kids were now conveniently all attending the same college, the Clown Mask Killer a forgotten ghost of their past.
Until he showed up with his axe at a lake that a couple were skinny dipping in.
"This is too normal for us," Hermione said as the girl on TV screamed.
Hermione shrugged. "Not solving a mystery, we're all happy, no one is in hospital-"
"Give it a minute," cut in Ron, gesturing the man trying to fight off the killer with a large stick.
"-or in an argument."
"Give it a minute," Harry muttered, glancing at Ron and Hermione.
True to Ron's prediction, the man's head was swiftly cleaved in two, his body falling into the lake, staining the water red.
"It's nice," sighed Hermione.
The three of them watched as the girl attempted to hide behind a tree, breathing heavily and trembling in fear.
Ron sniffed. "Bit boring."
"A little," agreed Harry.
Hermione stared at them for a moment before settling back down to watch the film. Rather than do something sensible, the girl called out asking if there was anyone there. "I slept with Percy," she announced conversationally.
The bowl of popcorn was nearly on the floor again as Ron jerked so violently he knocked into Harry.
"What?" he exclaimed, his face somewhere between disbelief and fury.
"See?" said Hermione with a knowing grin, still watching the film. "Not all excitement is fun and games. Nice and boring is good sometimes."
Ron looked disgruntled for a moment before kissing Hermione's temple. "Being with you is never boring."
In response Hermione shifted to kiss him on the cheek and Harry felt the need to step in before they got too carried away again. "How long is this honeymoon period going to last?"
"Life's never boring with you either, Harry," Hermione called over to him, her eyes still locked with Ron's.
With one last peck on Hermione's forehead, Ron turned back to the screen with a snort. "Understatement of the bloody – oh look, he's cut her arm off!" He leant forward slightly, his brow knitted in thought. "Now, that's clever…"
Harry shared an amused look with Hermione before the three of them fell into a comfortable silence as the screams of a second rate actress filled the room.
"Sorry, love, have you got a light?" asked a young woman, swaying on the spot as she spoke.
Ginny Weasley took in her appearance. Pointed hat, broomstick, cauldron earrings and very revealing black dress… It was borderline offensive. Although, she mused, at least there wasn't a boil in sight.
"Yeah, hang on a minute," she smiled, securing her training bag on her shoulder. The so-called witch held out her cigarette as Ginny pulled out her wand, gave it a small flick, lighting it.
"Cheers, hun," the woman said, taking a drag as she eyed Ginny's wand. "Where'd you get that?"
"Novelty lighter," Ginny supplied. "Got it on holiday in Spain."
"Cool. Bit bulky though."
Ginny watched the woman totter back to her friends in the taxi rank, failing to suppress a smile. She may have technically just broken the law, but tonight was the one night she could get away with it and she wouldn't be a Weasley if she didn't take advantage for the sake of a harmless laugh.
Wondering what the Muggles that surrounded her on the pavement would make of the contents of her bag, which included a fully-functional broomstick, Ginny crossed the road towards the laundrette on the other side. As she slotted her key into the door at the side, a group of lads dressed in all white and wearing bowler hats and codpieces ran passed her. Not for the first time she was confused as to why it was the magical community that was considered weird.
Wearily she padded up the stairs. It had been a hard fought game that afternoon and she had been tempted to stay in the hotel with the rest of her team. However, she had been planning on coming home early to surprise Harry since before she had left and knew he would appreciate it – even if she was tired and aching.
To say she had been annoyed when she floo'd ahead only to be told by Kreacher that Master Harry had gone out would be an understatement. It was short lived though. It was obvious where he would have gone and it meant she could give Ron and Hermione the present she had got them while she was there.
"Hermione? Ron?" she called out upon entering the flat. "Is Harry here?" She paused to drop her bag by the shoe rack and listened. All she could hear was the TV so she walked towards the living room. "If not, put your clothes on we're going-"
She broke off when she saw reached the sofa and saw Harry, Ron and Hermione, under a quilt together, their faces looking eerily blue from the light cast out from the TV. They were fast asleep.
"Potter Hunting," she finished, tipping her head to the side as Hermione snored softly. "Aww." Without hesitating, she reached into her pocket and withdrew her wand.
Happy Halloween, folks!
Also my internet woes are ongoing and I'm doing my best to reply to reviews but I know I keep missing some. If that includes you then I really am very sorry. They are all massively appreciated and it's still beyond flattering that anyone reads these things so thank you!