Chapter 1 : A Squib Princess
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“Butterbeer, Ron. Or perhaps something stronger. I have some Firewhiskey to wet the baby's head.” Harry looked at his friend and gestured back towards the house. They were sitting out in the garden of Harry's cottage in Godric's Hollow. Ron and Hermione had come to stay for a week's holiday with the Potters. Ginny and Hermione were just putting the children to bed and Harry could see the lights in the windows upstairs as they moved from room to room settling and sorting out their families.
“Honestly Harry, I'd love a cup of tea at the moment. Mione and I are not getting a lot of sleep with the new baby, and I don't sleep that well with Firewhiskey. It makes me snore, or so I've been told, which means no-one sleeps. I wake up with sore ribs,” Ron grimaced and rubbed his side. Harry laughed at the pained look on Ron's face, and rubbed his own ribs in sympathy.
“I'm sure it's age catching up, Ron. I have to admit I'm exhausted after keeping up with the family today. Cup of tea it is then.” As Harry made to stand a table appeared by his side with a silver teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl on a tray, and four cups and saucers. “Kreacher, thank you very much but you're off duty now. Would you like to join us for a cup of tea?”
“No, thank you Master.” Harry frowned at being called Master. “I'm just off now if that is alright. I'll be back tomorrow, er sir, er Harry.” Kreacher still had trouble adapting to being a free elf, but it was getting easier for him, Harry was glad to see. Harry poured the tea and they settled back.
In the falling dusk the only lights came from the house and it was very peaceful sitting in the still of the evening as crickets sang quietly in the bushes around the garden. There was a hoot of a hunting owl flying away from the small owlery by the side of the house. Crookshanks stalked past them intent of chasing gnomes
“How long do Kneazles live, Ron? Crookshanks must be almost eighteen years old by now. He doesn't look a day older than when Hermione got him.” Harry settled comfortably back into his chair.
“Great Aunt Muriel had one for about thirty-five years that I know of. They live a long time. It used to go mental every time Fred and George visited. Kneazles act as living sneakoscopes. It didn't like me much either. Crookshanks is probably looking forward to the first of the kids going to Hogwart's.” It was June and Ron and Hermione's eldest, Rose, was waiting for her letter to arrive.
Ron and Hermione had started their family as soon as they were married, and now had six children, all with red Weasley hair and Hermione's brains. Minerva McGonagall was looking forward to having them at Hogwart's.
Harry and Ginny's family was considerably smaller: three so far, but Ginny wanted seven. She was the seventh child of a seventh child and always said her magic was so strong because of the numbers. Harry thought a large family was a marvellous idea. He loved being a husband and a dad.
The lights in the upper rooms of the house dimmed and Ginny and Hermione could be heard coming down the path. Hundreds of tiny lights flickered on in the garden as Ginny waved her wand. “Sitting in the dark, you two? Move over, I'm exhausted. Pour me a cup, please Harry.” She rested her hand protectively on her belly. Their fourth child was still three months away, but Ginny was feeling more uncomfortable this time than with any of the others.
“I don't miss that bit of babies at all,” Hermione laughed, as Ron handed her a cup and saucer, “and my magic is always off towards the end. The baby's magic interferes so much with mine. Now I'm back to normal.” She demonstrated by conjuring a ball of light in the palm of her hand and rolling it around and over her fingers, threading it between them. She closed her hand and it was gone. “Wandless magic is always the last to come back to normal.”
Harry glanced sideways at Ginny, hoping she wouldn't mind what he was about to say. He knew some of the answers already, but Hermione was the perfect person to ask. “Yes, Ginny's magic was strange when she was expecting James, and then again with Lily. But there was no change with Dora.” Ginny started to lean forward in her seat. “When did you see magic appear in your kids,” he blurted out before Ginny could stop him.
Ginny sighed and leaned back. It was said now. She looked at Hermione and waited for an answer.
“Well, for all of them there were little hints before they had their first birthdays, but it was very definite before they were eighteen months old: the number of levitating baby bottles and toys that they summoned. And with Rose it was books.” Hermione smiled proudly, then looked sideways at Ginny, knowing what was coming next.
“With Dora there is nothing. Not a thing. James was ten months old when he started. I would go in to his room and his cot was full of every soft toy he had, and him smiling proudly in the middle. With Lily she would summon her bottle and the food off our plates when she was twelve months old. Dora is over two now and nothing. Not a single thing and no magical interference when I was expecting. This one I'm carrying now is turning lights on and off in the house already.” Ginny sat up straight and braced herself. “We think Dora is a Squib.”
There was silence for a moment then Ginny started to cry and Harry pulled her against him in a crushing hug.
“Hermione, you know more than anyone about everything.” Harry said over the top of Ginny's bowed head. “What can we do? There must be something.”
Hermione looked with pity on her two friends, took a deep breath, and spoke as though quoting from a book. “Squibs, non-magical offspring of magical folk, have always been around. Their incidence is thought to be increasing. They still occur randomly, but it is thought that inbreeding in the pureblood lines may be a cause. But Harry's mum was muggle born.”
“Yes but the Potters, Prewitts and Weasleys were all distant cousins, part of the Black family tree,” put in Harry. It was obvious that he had thought along these lines before.
“There is no spell or potion that can change a Squib. They are like Muggles born into magical families, just like I was a Witch born into a Muggle family.”
“But you never hear much about Squibs. They can't be that common. All I can think of are Mrs Figg and Argus Filch, and Molly's cousin the accountant,” Harry said.
“Distant cousin,” Ron put in.
Hermione looked upset, but after glancing at Ginny again she continued. “That is because of the way the magical world has dealt with Squibs in the past.”
“And the present,” added Ron, and his eyes filled with tears.
“How?” Harry looked horrified at Ron's reaction, more than at Hermione's words.
"Squibs were traditionally murdered, abandoned or left with Muggles. Today many Squib children just disappear and end up being adopted by Muggles.” Harry jumped in horror. He had no idea it was this bad. “The thinking was that to grow up in a magical world without magic was too cruel, so they removed the children from that world. Magically Squibs are the end of the line. Just like Muggles they have no magic to pass on, and their children are almost always non-magical even when they marry witches or wizards. In fact traditionally Squibs do not marry in the magical world.” Hermione's voice caught. “There is still a lot of shame associated with a Squib.”
“But she is just a baby.” Ginny was sobbing into Harry's chest. “How can we tell Mum and Dad, and the rest of the family?”
“Neville's magic appeared late. They thought he was a Squib,” Harry said.
“Yes, but look how good he is. Herbology.” muttered Ron.
"My parents are the only Muggles I know now, and my cousin, but I wouldn't trust her with a puppy, let alone a toddler.” Ginny let out a horrified squawk. “Sorry, just exploring all the options,” Hermione apologised.
“Hermione, are you sure there is no treatment, or cure, or something?” Harry knew he was clutching at straws.
“None, sorry Harry. All you can do is wait. She might just be a late bloomer. At least she has a family that love her. Unconditionally.”
Ginny lifted her head. “She is our little girl and we will do what is best for her and that is living with us. We love her. We will cope. Muggles do it everyday. Harry knows a lot about Muggles and we will make sure she is the best she can be.” Her shoulders straightened with resolve. “Mum and Dad love her, and her uncles and aunts. She can teach Dad things about the Muggle world.”
* * * * *
Up in her room little Dora lay in her cot unaware of what was happening in the garden. She held out her hands and her toys danced from the shelf where they sat and circled above her. Her favourite teddy stood and walked the length of her cot to sit by her head. Her music box opened when she pointed her finger at it and the room filled with tinkling music. The toys danced in time to the waltz that played. Dora chuckled. Before she went to sleep she waved her hand again and the toys flew back to their places, the music box closed and there was silence in the room. She beckoned and a framed photo of her family floated into her cot. She smiled at them and went to sleep. Rose Weasley watched from the half-open door. She had come from her room to investigate the noise of the music box and had been watching Dora play.
Out the window she could see her mum and dad, Uncle Harry and Auntie Ginny still sitting in the garden. She headed down the stairs. She had something to tell them.