Disclaimer: You know the drill: I own nothing but the plot.
A/N: Okay guys, I’ve decided that I’m simply not cut out to write those 5,000 word chapters. *sighs dramatically* Ah, that feels much better, getting that off my chest and what-not. Feel free to read on!
Chapter Four: Decisions
Dumbledore sighed deeply as though he was expecting the sudden outburst. Without turning to face the livid redhead, he removed his glasses. “Molly, it’s the only way.”
“It most certainly is not! We could send them to a safe house! What about the Fidelius Charm? We could—”
“I am not particularly fond of that charm, Molly,” Dumbledore replied, rubbing his eyes tiredly. “It has had…destructive results in the past.”
“Destructive? When—” Mrs. Weasley’s mouth shut with a snap. She chanced a look at Harry who was glaring at the floor. “Oh,” she murmured.
“I have had several ideas, each more cataclysmic than its predecessor,” the headmaster confessed.
“But…they’re just babies! My babies! Who shall take care of them?”
Glancing around at his friends and sister, Ron queried, “Do we get any say in this?”
Mrs. Weasley whirled on her youngest son. “Ronald,” she growled.
“No, really, Mum.” Ron, who had never interrupted his mother before, looked shocked at his own actions. “Our whole lives we’ve had to go along with adult plans. We’re almost of age!”
The twinkle sparkled in Dumbledore’s eyes. “Well, I hardly believe you and Mister Potter could claim to ever go along with our plans…” –Ron and Harry looked guiltily at one another—“…but I wholeheartedly agree. It is your decision.”
“I-but—” At a quelling look from the man who was many years her elder, Mrs. Weasley closed her mouth, but did not appear pleased.
An awkward silence followed these words. Mrs. Weasley broke it with her trademark smile. “So…shall we go eat?”
Dinner that night was almost noiseless. An ominous hush filled the room, overlapped by the clink of forks and the occasional “Pass the salt”.
Dumbledore had forgone Mrs. Weasley’s invitation in anticipation of the upcoming discussion that was bound to occur.
Fred and George, who had just arrived just before everyone had sat down, slumped in their seats, pushing their food around on their plates. They were so unused to such a depressing situation. Both seemed reluctant to bring up whatever was causing Mr. Weasley to frown into his brisket, making Mrs. Weasley bite her lip until it bled and driving Ron and Hermione to clutch each other’s hands until their white knuckles were visible over the table.
George cleared his throat. “Good brisket, Mum.”
Mrs. Weasley let out a sort of grunting sound. She nodded and the silence was back.
Fred tried next. “We, um, released a new product today. Tracker Snackers, they help you find who you…need….to.”
Mr. Weasley fork dropped onto the table. “That’s it,” he boomed, standing. “You lot aren’t going.” This was not the Mr. Weasley that had attended his birthday party only hours before. A mixture of pain, fear, anger and love swirled in his eyes.
Ginny stood as well. “We haven’t decided yet, Dad.”
Mr. Weasley turned to face her. “Did you not hear me, then? I’ve already decided for you. You’re not going.” He remained standing and breathing heavily. Mrs. Weasley patted his arm softly.
Now it was Ginny’s turn to be angry. “It’s our decision. Dumbledore—”
“DUMBLEDORE IS NOT YOUR FATHER, GINEVRA!”
“I’m tired of being sheltered! We’re at war, Daddy! And our greatest weapon is sitting at this table with us. We have to keep him safe. If America is the only way to do that, so be it! Harry,” she grabbed his hand in her own. “Ron, Hermione, let’s go discuss this upstairs.”
Chairs scraped and silverware tinkled as the quartet rose from the table. “Just know this, Daddy,” Ginny said quietly. “Whether we decide to go or not, I hope that you and Mum will support us.” She tugged on Harry’s hand and led him up the stairs.
Mr. Weasley was stunned. Never before had his daughter argued with him like that. Where did my sweet little girl go?, he asked himself.
She’s right in front of you. She’s grown up, his conscience answered.
His wife arose jerkily. She deposited her plate in the empty sink. On her way to clear the rest of the dishes, she placed kisses on the sides of her remaining sons’ heads. “I love you,” she whispered.
Mr. Weasley shook his head. Everything in him was telling him to lock them up where they would be safe. But his mind was urging him to let them go. Battling with himself, he exited to the backyard to think.
“Okay,” Hermione said. “The white ones are the ‘pro’s and the black ones are the ‘con’s.” She pointed to chess pieces on the floor of Ron’s room.
“Where did you say you learned this Hermione?” Ron asked. “It seems a bit, I don’t know…childish.”
“Well excuse me, Ronald! How do you propose we solve this then?” Ron closed his mouth, truly stumped. “That’s what I thought,” Hermione said, triumphantly.
“New environment?” she asked picking up a white pawn. Harry and Ginny nodded. Hermione put the piece aside.
“Leaving family,” Ginny said.
“Pro!” Harry stated.
“Con!” said Ron at the exact same moment.
“Anything to get away from the Dursley’s,” Harry muttered. “We’ll miss Mum and Dad,” Ron added.
“Both,” Ginny finalized.
“Not knowing anyone but each other.” Ron grabbed a black rook.
“American school!” Hermione bounced excitedly and snagged a white bishop.
“Away from Voldemort.”
“Pro!” everyone shouted at Harry’s last comment.
Ginny crawled over to where Hermione was kneeling. “Looks like its four pros and two cons. I guess we’re going then.”
When no one complained, she nodded and looked at the door. “We can tell them in the morning.”
In the open door of Ron’s room, where four lumps slept peacefully in violently orange sleeping bags, a man who had aged so much in the past hour looked on.
“When did they grow up, Molly?” Arthur Weasley asked his wife as she joined him at the doorway.
“We haven’t had time to notice, dear,” she replied solemnly. “As much as I hate to admit it, Ginny was right: we’re at war. It’s out of our hands.”
“It’s not fair. Why them? They don’t deserve this. You don’t know how many times I’ve wished I could take their places, so that they could have a normal childhood.” Several tears now ran down his face dropping onto the dark floor below.
“I know, Arthur.” Molly turned his shoulders so he was looking down at her. “They have to go. It’s not safe here. Not anymore. But we’ve raised them right. Ginny and Ron are our two babies and I know that it shall be hard to let them go, but we have to have enough faith that they’ll come back.” The couple embraced and the door shut with a click.
Harry, who had heard the whole conversation, was feeling the same old guilty emotions. If it wasn’t for me--
Stop it, right now!, a voice that sounded suspiciously like Ginny reprimanded sharply. I swear, Harry James Potter, if you blame any of this on yourself, you’ve already lost half the battle. Does it not mean enough that your friends are willing to cross an ocean with you? Must you belittle yourself to the point that you can’t see that?
A little fazed that he was having conversations with himself, Harry settled into the comfortable Chudley Cannons sleeping bag. He was going to America, and the three greatest people on the planet would be accompanying him.
A/N: I totally cried writing this. My keyboard almost short-circuited, seriously. If you didn’t like it, please review and let me know, but I promise the next chapter won’t be so depressing.
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