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The sun was hot and rendered the sand impossible to walk on, which meant that Harry and Ron had to do a ridiculous skipping-hopping type walk as they arrived on the beach, walking to the place where the children had already set up camp; a sandcastle was in the making and James and Albus seemed to be digging a huge hole; Harry never understood why digging holes was so fun, it made him think of graves. Hermione and Ginny walked normally beside them, wearing sensible new sandals and looking rather smug.

         “You could put an Imperturble charm on your feet?” Ginny sniggered, readjusting a large beach ball under her arm, watching her husband doing a very un-masculine dance on his toes.

         “You know Harry, you could try out for Ballet,” Ron snorted.

         “Says you,” Harry shot back, indicating that Ron also looked pretty silly too.

         “This is why we wear sandals you see,” Hermione said, casting a superior look at Ron.

         They had had an argument prior to the holiday about whether “Ronald should wear sandals”. Ronald insisted that he shouldn’t, that only old men wore sandals, and if he couldn’t even wear socks with them… well, there’d be no point. Hermione had screamed that she’d rather die than be seen with him wearing socks and sandals. Ron had made Hermione feel guilty by implying that she was embarrassed to be seen with him, and that surely Hermione didn’t care at all about outward appearances did she?? Hermione insisted she didn’t, but some things were simply too awful for her not to care about. Like people wearing socks with sandals.

         In the end Ron forgot his sandals, and Harry simply hadn’t bought any. He felt that was Ginny’s responsibility, which resulted in him being called a “sexist pig.”

         Finally, their feet managed to accustom to the sand, and they were walking normally again. The sun reflected off the soft waves that were lapping onto the beach with a “shushing” sound, which reminded Harry of when Ginny used to “shh” him when James was falling asleep as a baby. Bright white light was pierced into Harry’s eyes from the blue waves, and the sun was huge and yellow in the cobalt sky, not a cloud to be seen.

         “DAAAAAAAAD!” yelled Hugo and James simultaneously, directing the word to their corresponding father, “WEE’VE MADDEE SUCH A BIIIG HOOLLLLEEEE!”

         They were yelling much longer and louder than was necessary, considering that Harry and Ron were now ten feet away from where the hole (and the children) were, but children rarely needed good excuses to make a lot of noise. Sometimes they didn’t need an excuse at all.

         “That’s great Hugo!” Ron said enthusiastically, “Fantastic. Not a waste of energy at all.”

         “Shut up,” said Hugo, detecting the sarcasm, “You could never build a hole this big…”

         Ron drew himself up.

         “I, don’t think that’s true,” he said, “I bet I could build one twice as deep as yours.”

         “Without a wand?” Hugo asked sceptically.

         “Without a wand.”

         “Right…” said Hugo, disbelievingly, “Go for it then. Whoever wins, gets to bury the other in it.”

         “You’re on my son,” said Ron, doing a weird finger snap with Hugo; apparently it was their secret handshake.

         And both began digging, Ron having to start from scratch, but moving three times as fast as Hugo. He seemed to sink deeper into the ground before their very eyes.

         “Daddy,” said Lily, taking Harry’s hand and trying to pull him along; she was clad in the same shorts and t-shirt that she’d been wearing earlier, evidently swimming things had not made it to the beach. None of the children were wearing them. Harry felt a bit underdressed, “Take me for a swim, Mummy says I’m not allowed on my own.”

         “Ok, let me take off my glasses,” said Harry, placing them “safely” on a nearby towel. Everything went blurry and hazy, like an impressionist painting. He could see yellow sand blending into blue, and a dash of red which was his daughter’s hair. There was no hope that he would see stones or sharp shells in the sand; he hoped he wouldn’t come across one, or a least expect his daughter to warn him, though he thought this may be a trifle optimistic.

         Lily still had hold of his hand and was guiding him towards the beach; she went slower than she would’ve liked, but she knew that Harry couldn’t see very well without this glasses, so she decided to be nice. Being nice to Harry wasn’t something she did a lot, but it actually made her feel like a good person, rather than a mean nasty one. To add to her niceness, she gave him a running commentary on things he should avoid in the sand.

         “Careful Dad, there’s a little pebble…. Oops, there’s a crab, don’t step on him! Don’t! Oh too late…” Harry hobbled around for a bit rubbing his foot, “There’s a sharp looking shell… etc.”

         Harry was rather touched by this, and scolded himself for thinking that Lily wouldn’t do this for him. But then, he thought, who could blame him? Lily spent half her time being horrible to Harry, why should now be any different?

         His feet found the edge of the sea, and it felt pleasantly cool, contrasting with the heat from the sun. The water lapped around his ankles and Lily had splashed in further, and being considerably smaller than Harry, it wasn’t a long time before her entire body was immersed in water.

         “DAD IT’S COLD!!” she complained, her teeth chattering above the surface, “OH IT’S LOVELY!”

         Harry went in further, aiming for the red blob floating in the sea which he assumed was his daughter’s head, and not a buoy or something weird like that. It was a bit chilly, and it didn’t help when Lily flicked water onto his bare chest so that he shuddered and made an involuntary squeaking sound. Lily laughed, and did it again.

         “No Lily! Let Dad get in on his own… I need to get used to it…”

         Lily paid no attention, and splashed him again.

         “Please Lily!”

         He tried to shuffle in further, so his thighs were covered. Lily then gave him a look of pure evil and chucked handfuls of water all over his body and face, so that it felt like he was being pierced by shards of ice.

         “ARGGHHH! LILY NO!”

         “You wuss Harry!” came an amused voice behind him. Harry span around, and saw another red haired person, which he gathered must be his wife, and not Rose, who was maybe a little too small to be this person.

         “YOU – YOU GET IN THEN!” Harry spluttered, indignant at being called a wuss, when once before he had jumped into a small pool of water, that was at least zero degrees.

         Lily chuckled behind him. Harry turned around and lobbed a huge amount of water onto his daughter’s head. She screamed and then disappeared.

         “Harry!” Ginny, ran into the sea, “How could you do that?”

         She started wading in frantically, pushing the water apart with her hands, desperately searching for her daughter.

         “She started it…” Harry said sullenly, starting to search too; now he was so wet the water didn’t feel so cold, so he managed to get in entirely, and even swim around, sticking his head under the water, hoping to find a dash of red.

         Suddenly he felt a pain in his knee; he wondered what it was, so he stuck his head under and a cloud of red hair was billowing around underwater, its head firmly attached to his knee.

         “Ginny! I’ve found her!” Harry called out, “Ouch! She’s biting me!”

         Ginny swam over saying “Don’t be silly, why would she do that?” and then Lily had to finally emerge, gasping for breath.

         “Haha!” she said, “That’ll serve you right for splashing me!”

         “Lily!” Ginny scolded, “Biting people isn’t very nice, apologise to Daddy.”

         “No!” Lily answered straight back, “He splashed me! A little girl like me…”

         “You’re not making anyone feel sorry for you Lily,” Harry said, wondering if his knee was bleeding; it hurt rather a lot…

         “Fine,” she said, defeated, “Daddy, I’m so so sorry, I truly am. Please can you find it in your heart to forgive me.”

         She was being stupid, and didn’t really feel sorry at all.

         “You suck at fake apologies Lily,” Harry said, “You should ask your mother for lessons.”

         Ginny squawked and spluttered behind him, making a series of “how dare you!” noises. Lily, sensing the threat of an imminent argument, swam back to the beach, to join James and Albus who were watching the two holes containing Ron and Hugo with great interest; Hermione and Rose were reading together on the beach, looking quite disapproving under large sunhats.

         “I don’t do fake apologies!” Ginny said, “I always mean them, or I don’t say them at all!”

         “You do!” Harry retorted, “Do you remember the time my favourite hat was “accidentally” put in the fireplace?”

         “That wasn’t your favourite hat! It was horrible and old,” Ginny said, bobbing up and down as tiny waves pushed against her, “And I meant that apology, you made such a fuss I did actually feel bad!”

         “You didn’t, you hated that hat ever since I bought it,” Harry replied.

         “Harry, it was green with a brown rim,” Ginny said exasperatedly, “It was vile!”

         “It went with my dress robes!”

         “It didn’t! The shade was completely different.”

         “Ron said it matched.”

         “You went to Ron for fashion advice?? And anyway, the hat wasn’t even pointy, it was all floppy and weird!”

 

         Back at the beach, Ron stopped for a small break and popped his head out his hole; his hole was a lot bigger than Hugo’s owing to the fact that he had stolen Hermione’s wand and was using “Defodio” to scour out the sand. Who cares? Thought Ron, He wasn’t a Hufflepuff, he didn’t value fair play…

         “HUGO DAD’S CHEATING!” Rose suddenly yelled, leaping up from her book and pointing down the hole at Ron.

         “What? Oh thanks Rosie,” Ron said, poking his head out to survey his daughter with distaste, “You’ve just ruined my fun.”

         “You were cheating Dad?” Hugo said, “Well, that means I automatically win!”

         “Well I guess it does…” Ron said grumpily, sneering at Rose as he hoisted himself out the hole.

         “Don’t look at your daughter like that Ron,” Hermione said, not looking up from her book; her face hidden underneath her huge straw hat.

         “How do you know I looked at her like anything?” Ron asked her, aware that Hermione hadn’t even looked up.

         “Because I know you Ron. And I want my wand back.”

         “Fair enough.”

         He settled himself in the sand next to Hermione, gave her back her wand, and stole her hat.

         “Ron – no give it back.”

         She sat up and tried to grab it, but Ron had it held far above his head. His arms were very long, and Hermione’s attempts to reach it were futile.

         “Roooonnnnn…” she moaned at him, “Return it please.”

         “Nope,” Ron said playfully, waving it in the air.

         “My head will burn!” Hermione implored.

         “With all that hair? I don’t think so,” Ron said, quickly standing up so Hermione couldn’t slap him.

         Hermione stood up too and lunged at him, causing Ron to run away down the beach waving the hat above his head. His lanky frame bounded away, and Hermione knew she could never catch him, but she tried anyway; it might be fun, she thought.

         Hugo and Rose watched as their parents run away, feeling slightly bemused by their mother’s behaviour. They thought Hermione would just sit still, ignoring Ron until he got bored and returned it himself. But no, there she was, about a hundred metres away, grabbing at her hat flying around in the hair on Ron’s hand. He was dancing around in a circle, around Hermione; they both looked very silly.

         James, Albus and Lily watched them too, wondering whether any adults in their family were sane. They had originally thought Aunty Hermione was sane… but this episode was seriously making them question their beliefs.

         “Look,” said Lily, pointing into the sea, “Mum and Dad are still arguing.”

         Indeed they were, their arms flying above their heads, looking very immature.

         “They’ll start splashing each other soon,” Albus predicted. Right on cue, Ginny chucked some water right in Harry’s eyes. They could see him chuck some back, and soon their parents were involved in a full-scale water fight.

         The children rolled their eyes. How childish, they all thought.

         Then all their eyes went back to the main source of entertainment: Hermione’s quest to get the hat from Ron.

         They saw him leap in the air as Hermione pushed him, and then laugh. He took hold of a bit of her hair, so she was a bit trapped. She flung her arms around, hoping to hit him; she did. He ran away some more, and Hermione tried to leap on his back, but she missed, and grabbed onto his trunks instead. As she fell over, having misjudged her leap, her hands stayed holding onto said article of clothing…

 “Oh my!” said Rose.

         “That’s gross!” said Albus.

         “ARRGH MY EYES!” said James.

         “You can see his bott - ” Lily started rapturously, before Rose clapped a hand around Lily’s mouth.

         “So that’s what evil must look like…” Hugo groaned.

         Harry and Ginny had noticed nothing; there water fight carried on as normal. The children felt scarred, honestly quite scarred.

         They saw Hermione clap her hands around her mouth and silently laugh, whilst going bright red.

         “I HATE YOU HERMIONE!” Ron yelled, trying to pull up his trunks, whilst he heard his loving wife collapse into the ground behind him. He tripped over, and looked so silly that Hermione couldn’t breathe for laughing. She felt so embarrassed for him, but couldn’t bring herself to help him. This holiday she’d found herself laughing at the most silly things!

         Whilst face down in the sand he managed to struggle with his trunks and pull up into dignity again. He stood and drew himself up, striding past Hermione twitching in the sand, with what he obviously thought was indifference. He wasn’t to be humiliated… No, not him. He would be proud and not care... But then he remembered – his children were only a hundred metres away – along with his nephews and niece. Oh dear… he though, please let them not have seen -

-         he saw five small figures in the distance, staring at him agog.

A seagull did a poo on Ron’s head. Ron couldn’t help but cry.  

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