Trolls and Toilets
"Molly!" Arthur Weasley called to his wife as he came in from a night raid. The owl sitting on the front porch was smart and neat looking, and the envelope it carried in its beak carried the Hogwarts crest. "Owl from Hogwarts!" He took the letter from the owl and watched it fly away into the chilly November air.
Despite it being only five in the morning, Molly was wide awake and stood at the top of the landing once he was in the kitchen. After he placed his briefcase down on the table, he looked up at her, only to find she looked less than impressed. "What have they done this time? For heaven's sake, I'm amazed those two haven't been expelled yet!" she shouted.
There was a clattering from upstairs, and Arthur realised they must have awoke their daughter, Ginny, who was still too young to attend Hogwarts. He placed a finger over his mouth and looked above him. "Don't wake Ginny," he reminded her. He handed his wife the letter, deciding to let her know about it first – whatever it was that Fred and George had done to warrant a letter home as early into the term as the morning of the first of November. They'd only been back two months. Although, that was by no means a record for them. That was two days.
Molly huffed and turned the bacon before opening the letter. She sat down, looking a little bewildered. Whatever it was must have been quite extreme, even by the twins' standards. "It wasn't Fred and George," she sighed, handing the letter to him.
Somewhat surprised, he took it, and read aloud:
"Dear Mr. and Mrs. Weasley,
It is my duty to inform you that your son, Ronald Weasley, was involved in an altercation with a mountain troll last night, the night of 31 October. Though he escaped uninjured, I feel compelled to bring the incident to your attention.
He was found, along with two other first-year students, in the girls' lavatory, having helped to defeat the troll only moments before. In the process of knocking the troll out, there was extensive damage done to the girls' bathroom.
Your son was both very foolish and very brave to follow such a beast into a confined space, in order to help a friend. He has been reminded of the dangers of such actions, despite his good intentions, and was fairly shaken by the incident, and as such, was not formally punished.
"He got into a fight..." Arthur began wearily, placing the letter on the battered wooden table at which he sat. "...with a troll."
"So it would seem," Molly concurred, looking quite tired. "I always thought he would be good at school. I mean, I know he's not perfect and he likes a joke almost as much as the twins, but I didn't think he would take things as far as them."
Arthur sighed, and reached out a hand to Molly. All the years he had been married to her, and somehow he was still not used to seeing her distressed by her sons. "He didn't do it for a joke. Ron was helping a friend. It's there in black and white. I'm sure Minerva just wanted to tell us before Fred or George or Percy beat her to it."
However, Arthur saw from Molly's expression that she remained unconvinced. He, on the other hand, was not as worried by his son having a fight with troll as he was by the idea that a troll had actually managed to get that far into the castle unnoticed. That had escaped his wife's notice, and Arthur was somewhat glad for that. Though, Molly wasn't stupid, and it was only a matter of time before she raised the issue herself.
He watched as Molly stood up and distracted herself by plating up his breakfast, which felt more like dinner to him at this point. The night raids were the pits of his job, one of the only things he really didn't like about it.
But he didn't mind it so much. He had always earned enough money to just about scrape by with his family, for they had things money could not by. He wouldn't have sacrificed his time with his wife and children for the world, and most definitely not for a higher paid job that would deduct from his precious time. Having seen first hand the many ways in which one's time could be cut short, he felt that there were more important things in life than money – something many of his work colleagues just could not grasp.
Arthur knew, though, that sometimes the scrimping and saving got to Molly. Not often, but sometimes. She was, after all, the one who had raised the children for the entire time he was working, and looked after the ones too young for school during term time. He honestly didn't know what she was going to do with herself when Ginny started Hogwarts next year. She had spent two decades raising children as a full time job.
Molly was not work shy, which meant she would keep her nose to the grindstone, as it were, but he did worry that the absence of the children while he was working might make her feel lonely.
It wasn't that he though Molly was fragile or weak; quite the contrary, she was a strong and fierce woman with a heart of gold. But she loved the children dearly, and Arthur was unsure of how she was going to adjust next year. She had only just gotten used to Ron not being around every day. Before Ron, she had struggled with the twins' absence, though he doubted she missed the daily carry on they inflicted upon her.
He sighed quietly to himself, and at that moment, two things happened.
Ginny came downstairs, wondering what was wrong: "What are Fred and George in trouble for now?"
And, another own swooped in through the window, approaching him with another letter that bore the Hogwarts crest.
"Nothing, dear," Molly smiled. "It was Ron. He had a little problem with his friends and a troll. He's fine."
But Arthur was already opening the letter, and was torn between annoyance and amusement.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Weasley,
I must inform you that your sons, Fred and George Weasley, have been disciplined for exploding three lavatories in the fifth-floor boys' bathroom. The incident occurred at approximately ten forty-three on the morning of 31 October, and caused some considerable disruption to school life. As you know, this is not the first time Fred and George have been disciplined for their behaviour.
As a consequence of their actions, fifteen house points each have been deducted from Gryffindor's total, and they will serve detention this evening with Mr. Filch, cleaning all male lavatories in the castle by hand.
PS. You may wish to have a conversation with your three youngest sons about the importance of leaving students' lavatories intact and functional.
Although he knew Fred and George were in trouble again, Arthur could not help but smile at Minerva's footnote; he could hear her saying that as he read it, and it reminded him that, as stern as she came across and as strict as she really was, she had learned to take the twins' behaviour with a pinch of salt.
He handed the letter to Molly, and Ginny, who was predictably reading over her mother's shoulder, and waited for the fireworks. Sure enough, when she got to 'exploding three lavatories,' Molly became furious and Ginny was in a fit of giggles. "Those idiots!" Molly exclaimed. "For goodness' sake! What were they thinking, blowing up the toi-" she fell short. Arthur swallowed his mouthful of bacon and watched Molly's face fall into her hands, her elbows leaning on the table. "This was my fault. I gave them the idea when they were getting on the train!"
At that, even Arthur had to laugh. It was so easy to inadvertently give the twins ideas for their jokes and mischief with what anyone with a less creative mind than theirs would think was an innocent remark. He had done it himself, as had just about every member of the family. Percy fell into that trap quite often.
Fred and George may have gone a bit far this time, but it was reassuring that there was some laughter at Hogwarts while they all worried about how and why a troll got into the school. Not that he was defending their behaviour – he agreed with Molly that it was completely outrageous – but it was quite funny. Not so hilarious for Argus Filch, he was sure, but Arthur was sure there were many students who would have found it most entertaining.
"What are we going to do with them?" fretted Molly, while Ginny helped herself to a rasher of bacon. "Sometimes I wonder if it's their mission in life to destroy that castle floor by floor!"
Arthur shook his head, and he replied, "No, Molly, their mission in life is to make people smile."