Chapter 2: Dobby and Diagon Alley
Ginny heard the questions being fired in the room above as she got dressed in hers. She felt it a little strange for Harry to have been talking to himself at first, but when she heard the second voice, and what it was saying, her temper bristled, then calmed.
Harry was being told to not go back to school, why? The house-elf would not say. Dobby would be punished by his Master for even being there warning Harry of danger. If Harry did not agree to stay away from Hogwarts, then Dobby would just have to find a way to stop him himself.
Ginny pulled on a skirt and t-shirt quickly, grabbed her wand and silently made her way back up to Harry’s room. Through the crack between the door and its frame, she could see the bat-eared creature still bouncing on Harry’s bed, but making a terrible din, waking up the rest of the house. Not really thinking about what the consequences might be, Ginny rushed into the room and covered the wailing house-elf with Harry’s dressing gown, and attempted to hold onto it until her family arrived.
Harry watched as his friend struggled with the crazy elf. He was struggling to come to terms with what the creature had told him, even if it was woefully incomplete. Seeing his friend about to be thrown off of the bed, Harry rushed over and wrapped his own arms around the bundle. As soon as he heard footfalls outside of his room he felt the gown go slack, as though the elf had just vanished.
Mrs Weasley was the first to enter the room after the house-elf had left. Spying the children apparently fighting over the dressing gown, her temper soared.
“What is going on in here?!” Her hands were immediately on her hips, a sure sign they were in trouble.
“Mum, I know what this might look like, but if you would give us two minutes...” Ginny began.
“You have no idea what this looks like!” Her fury was in full flight, even her other children were cringing away from her. “What the hell are you doing with Harry in here?"
"He...” Ginny glanced at Harry, searching for what to say. She decided on the truth. “He had a house-elf pay him a visit. It warned him not to return to school.”
“You expect me to believe that?!”
“MUM! Would I lie about something like this?” She subconsciously reached for Harry’s hands, gripping them tightly.
“Mrs Weasley, does the name ‘Dobby’ mean anything to you?” He spoke up when it looked like a good opportunity.
“Dobby?” The older witch looked thoughtful for a moment. “Sounds like a house-elf name, but why would he come here and do this?” She waved her hands over the ruined bed and dressing gown.
“No idea; sounded half-crazed to me, although it didn’t help him punishing himself every other word.” Harry seemed to brighten as his guardian calmed down; the brothers behind her looked shocked, waiting for the bomb to explode. “And I’m sorry about how you found Ginny and me, we’ll try not to let it happen again.”
“Oh think nothing of it, dear. Though, I should say, Ginny, you don’t have to sneak around the house to enjoy the sunrise.” She smiled at her daughter who looked scandalised, and doing a bad job of it.
“Oh hush, dear. I know what goes on in this house,” she laughed, “even the little experiments that go on in the twins’ room. Anyways, get your things together, and we’ll head off to Diagon Alley.”
Within an hour, all of the occupants of the Burrow were stood in front of the kitchen fireplace. The brother’s were giving Harry looks that would frighten a troll, while Ginny took her customary place on his left side, with her hand in his. Arthur and Molly looked over the scene and suppressed a small laugh each.
Arthur remembered how Molly’s brothers had treated him during their own early days, before the war.
A few minutes later, Ginny was catching Harry as he stumbled out of the floo of the Leaky Cauldron, again earning some disapproving glares from her brothers, as her parents went to open the archway.
“Don’t worry about getting your school things today, just enjoy yourselves.” Arthur led his wife off to clear the entryway. “Try not to get into too much trouble, boys.” He finished looking at the twins.
“Where do you want to go?” Harry looked at Ginny.
“How about Eeylops, or the Menagerie?” She asked.
“How about the Quidditch shop?” Predictable, as ever.
“We shall have to organise with Hermione when we come for our school stuff. I need to ask her about that project I asked her about at Christmas.” Harry stared off into the distance, thinking. “I’ll tell you about it when I find out what she’s got.” He explained to both Ron and Ginny.
“Okay, mate.” Ron walked off towards Quality Quidditch Supplies.
The twins sped off to Zonko’s Joke Shop, muttering about needing to stock up. The elder Weasleys shook their heads and decided to escort Harry and Ginny as they headed for the shops of their choice.
After three hours of looking around the Alley, and buying the odd item in the occasional shop they visited, the family met back at the Leaky Cauldron for lunch before heading home to begin preparations for Harry’s birthday. Ginny was pouting over a kitten she had seen in the Menagerie, but a sly smile on Harry’s face told her not to worry about losing the chance to have it.
* * * * *
After Harry’s, and Ginny’s, birthdays the routine at the Burrow returned to some semblance of normality. She continued heading up to his room to watch the sun rise each morning, with the little kitten left lying on the pillow of her bed.
The twins had tried to pull a couple of pranks on her, to their long-lasting cost. A full hour of the bat-bogey hex saw them giving Ginny a wide-berth whenever they were in the same room as her, for the rest of the summer.
Ron had arranged to meet with Hermione on the last day before catching the Hogwarts Express. He had seemed slightly more excitable about the prospect of seeing the bushy-haired girl than when he had seen her last, and both Ginny and Mrs Weasley wondered what would happen between the two of them.
Harry, for the most part, spent the time in between reading up on work he would have covered with Quirrell after the exams, save for the small part of the professor having died shortly thereafter, and the lessons having to be cancelled. He alternated reading his books with helping Ginny get a step up on her own upcoming lessons, quickly finding that his friend was so quick at picking up new techniques and theory that she was in danger of being ready for the second year before he was.
Fred and George leant the pair books from their previous years to study from. Harry’s suspicions about how good at studying Ginny was were realised when she showed him a few of the spells Hermione had used during the year – with a few refinements, of course.
When the time arrived to leave for the shops again, Ginny was ready to dive into fourth year books, while Harry was still struggling with third year basics. Both second-years had completed their summer work, while the twins had yet to start any. Percy appeared to have completed his, but as he had ventured out of his room very few times over the summer, completion had yet to be confirmed.
On the morning of the thirty-first of August, Ginny had a bad case of sneezing, but insisted on going to collect her books with everyone else.
“Okay, same order as always; your father, then oldest to youngest, then Harry and finally me.” Unnecessary to repeat, but done so regardless; Molly smiled as her brood vanished into the Floo network.
“D... Diagon A... Alley...” Ginny sneezed, breaking up the destination. The fire fared purple as she vanished.
“Ginny!” Too late, Molly and Harry yelled after her.
The young girl span out of control, past a myriad of grates. She caught glimpses of other people’s houses and workplaces. Finally, in a cloud of smoke and soot that threatened to set off her sneezes again, she emerged into the grimy interior of what was obviously a shop; a shop of dubious respectability judging from the shrunken heads and grotty cabinets lining the walls. An old shrivelled hand mounted on a wooden base rested on the mantelpiece over the fire. Ginny avoided it; her father had confiscated enough Dark Artefacts over the years to know what the hand was.
Trying desperately to find the exit, Ginny nearly ran headlong into Lucius and Draco Malfoy. Her saving grace was an ancient-looking witch passing at the same moment that she hid behind just long enough to make it into Diagon Alley as Malfoy senior berated the woman for her carelessness; she gave him a good dose of slug-vomiting for his rudeness.
Shaking herself to clear the last remnants of floo powder from her cloak and hair, Ginny was tackled by a black-haired cannonball who gripped her tightly as he sobbed into her neck.
“I thought we’d lost you... I thought... I don’t know what I’d ever do if...”
“I’m right here... I’m safe with you... sshh.” Ginny rubbed her hands up and down his back, trying to calm Harry, all the while trying to read the look on her mother’s face. “Where’s everyone else?”
“Flourish and Botts. We’re meeting Hermione in there and her parents.” Mrs Weasley took hold of the pair in a collective arm-wrap, and led them down the street, giving them both an unreadable look.
From the shadows of Knockturn Alley, Lucius Malfoy watched the small party move off, a freshly renewed black diary in his grasp.
“Soon, my Lord, you can complete your work, and I can claim my place at your side.”