The stench of lies and deceit hung over the Burrow like an ominous thundercloud - roiling and brewing until it was ready to unleash it's fury. The tension was palpable and it gave Molly Weasley the jitters.
She was sure that so far she was the only person who'd picked up on it - Arthur being busy with both his work for the Ministry and for the Order, but she knew, a mother always knew.
It had something to do with Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione, of that she was sure. Several times since they'd returned from Hogwarts for the summer she'd caught them arguing amongst themselves, all four clamming up as soon as she got within earshot. Oh, she wasn't naive, she knew they'd split into two couples. Indeed, she'd realised that Harry was falling for Ginny the summer before, and couldn't be happier about it, even though none of them had actually come out and said they were together - it was the worst kept secret in the Burrow at the minute. No, whatever it was that was going on was much bigger and more serious than the usual teenage relationship dramas, of that she was certain.
Molly frowned as she walked downstairs and neared the kitchen. The unmistakable sounds of raised voices could be hear from within.
"You've got to do something about it soon!"
"I know, okay, but it's my decision when and what I do, I just need a bit longer!"
"I don't think I can keep this up for much longer!"
Worry crept into Molly, chilling her bones and sending a shiver up her spine. This was obviously serious and it was time she found out just what was going on. She stepped into the kitchen and was met with stony silence. Hermione was stood with her arms folded and Ron's ears were bright red - never a good sign.
She waved her wand and both the back door and the door she'd just come through sealed themselves shut with a loud squelching sound. "Right," she said, "it's time someone told me what's going on, and no one leaves this room until I find out."
Ron and Hermione looked at each other worriedly, Harry looked decidedly green, while Ginny just looked sick to the stomach.
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
A deep flush crept further up Molly's neck with each passing second; the oppressive silence broken only by ominous tapping of her foot. Impatience finally getting the better of her, the inevitable eruption began just as Harry was opening his mouth.
"I SAID it's time someone told-"
"Mrs. Weasley, this is all a-"
Everyone jumped, spinning around to see a lurid, splotchy red stain spreading down the outside of the kitchen window.
Molly turned, shocked, hand half-embedded in mouth, the deep colour draining fast from her face.
Ron stared in pallid horror. It couldn't be?! He'd never thought it would come to...??
"Is that...?" Hermione pointed a trembling finger toward the splattered window. "Is-is that...?"
"Yes." Ginny's voice sounded surprisingly calm. Almost surreal. "Yes," she repeated, with a half-audible breath. "The gnomes are throwing tomatoes again."
As the northern hemisphere leaves begin to drop, up rise some wonderful challenge stories! Because of the long challenge incubation time, the earliest entries are starting to get buried way back in the Recent Stories archive, so Ginnyweasley777 and GHL decided to make use of the SIYE Featured Stories section on the main page to ensure our early bird authours get as much visibility as those who submit closer to deadline.
And what was that deadline again? The entire rule set is recapitulated below for our writers' convenience.
Someone at the Burrow has a secret and it's causing tensions amongst the occupants.
Your challenge is to write a story about who is keeping the secret, why, and how it is revealed.
The categories for judging are Best Overall, Most Humourous, Most Unexpected, and the People's Choice Award.
1. All general submission rules apply. Stories over 20,000 words are discouraged but not prohibited. R-rated stories are allowed but discouraged. Judges are not required to read stories over 20,000 words or any R-rated stories.
2. All entries must be submitted under the Burrow Secret Challenge (2016-3) sub-category of SIYE Challenges, and be submitted by midnight SIYE time on Tuesday 15th November 2016.
3. Only completed stories will be accepted. Multiple chapters are allowed so long as all the requirements are in the chapters and the story is completed by the deadline. All stories still go through the same approval process as normal submissions so please don't wait until the last minute to submit your story.
4. Authours do not have to pay attention to alleged relationship dramas, gnome malfeasance, and other silly scenarios posted by Challenge Administrators. Just tell us your secrets!
For those of you who have judged Challenges before, please expect a note from Ginnyweasley777 or GHL fairly soon, seeking your continued assistance. For those of you who have not judged in the past but are interested in doing so, please feel free to contact either of us via our profiles!