Chapter 65 : Hijinks at the Burrow
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"Harry, that smells divine!" murmured Ron.
"I don't know how I can be hungry after eating all that food last night, but I am," his friend laughed.
"Me neither. Which way's the kitchen?"
"Follow me." Harry led the way to the kitchen, where he found Draco at the stove, an apron about his waist, frying bacon, sausage, and Hermione was making waffles. Katie was watching the toast, and Nesmay had just finished squeezing fresh merlinna juice into a large cold-charmed pitcher.
"Merlinna juice!" Harry exclaimed upon seeing his sister. "I was going to pick some this morning but I was so tired . . ." He yawned.
Nesmay looked up, her fingers purple from the heart-shaped fruit, and smirked. "You're lucky you have a sister who's an early riser and likes you, Harry." She had a few stains on her lavender nightgown as well, and her spiked hair made her look very much like the hedgehog princess Severus nicknamed her.
"You're the best, Nesmay," Harry grinned. "Pour me some?"
Nesmay waved her kingwood wand and the pitcher promptly poured a full glass of juice. "Enough? Or should I just give you the pitcher?"
Draco sniggered at that. His brother's fondness for merlinnas in any form was a well-known fact at Prince Manor.
Ron gaped at the fact that Draco was actually cooking, and like a Muggle too! "Am I dreaming? Because I have to, since that's the only way I'd see a Malfoy cooking."
Draco glanced behind him, frowning. "What's that supposed to mean? You saying I can't cook?"
"No, I'm saying I can't believe you know how. Thought all you Old Families had house elves for that kind of thing." Ron answered.
"We did. But here my father insists we learn how to fend for ourselves," Draco replied, flipping the sausages. "The Princes never had house elves, because they're part fae themselves. It'd be like keeping your cousin in bondage."
"House elf slavery should be abolished," Hermione declared firmly, sliding a waffle onto a plate.
"We're working on that," Draco said quickly.
"Dad and I taught Draco how to cook," Harry put in, drinking his juice with a happy sigh. "But I can't believe you got your arse out of bed without somebody screaming in your ear to wake up, Dragon. Usually he sleeps till noon."
"Liar. Since when has Dad ever let me sleep that late?" Draco snorted. "Unless I was deathly ill, he has all of us up before nine."
"So why are you up this early, Draco?" asked Katie, buttering several squares of toast.
"Well, since it's Dad and Sarai's wedding morning, I figured maybe they'd like breakfast in bed," the Slytherin murmured, flushing. "I told Smidgen to wake me, and she did."
As if her name had summoned her, the dainty black and turquoise winged shimmerling appeared on the table. Her violet eyes sparkled in the sunlight, and she began to groom herself lazily. Only her damaged wing marred her gracefulness. :Well met, children! I trust you all had a good time at the fairy revel?:
"We did." Harry said. "But . . . weren't you there, Smidgen?"
The shimmerling looked up at him. :For a short time, yes. I was there for the ceremony, of course. But I cannot fly and participate in the games of my kin with my damaged wing, so I left early.:
"Oh. That's too bad!" Hermione said, giving the winged cat a pitying look. "It must be hard, not being able to fly anymore."
Smidgen shrugged. :It is what it is, child. My sacrifice was for a good cause, and I do not regret paying this price. Though sometimes I do miss the sky.:
"I can take you flying later, Smidgen," offered Harry.
:Thank you, Harry,: she sent, purring. :But right now I'd rather have breakfast. Draco, do you have a piece of that delicious bacon for me?:
"Coming right up, Smidgen." The chef called, and he tossed her a half a piece, which she caught neatly in her mouth.
Harry went and filled her small saucer with milk and a drop of honey and set it before her.
The shimmerling sent her thanks and began to eat hungrily. She had met Ron, Hermione, and Katie before they attended the wedding.
Harry then looked over at Draco and said, somewhat bossily, "Draco, if you're making breakfast for Dad and Sarai, you'd better fry a couple of eggs too. You know how he likes them."
Draco sighed. "Harry, you know I can only do scrambled eggs. Every time I try and fry one I end up with it burnt."
"Move over, and let the expert cook," Harry ordered, gently shoving Draco out of the way, placing the cooked sausages and bacon on a platter and levitating it onto the table. Then he tugged out a clean frying pan, greased it with butter, and cracked four eggs into it. He deftly seasoned them with salt and pepper and then waited a few minutes before flipping them over.
"Harry, where'd you learn to cook like that?" Katie queried.
Her boyfriend gave her a lopsided grin. "It's a perk of my underprivileged childhood at Privet Drive. My uncle made me cook and clean for them, so I learned pretty quick how to make breakfast the way he liked it."
"They treated him like dirt," Draco growled.
"True, but at least I learned how to fry eggs," Harry remarked, sliding the now done eggs onto two plates.
Katie added the toast, Hermione the waffles on a separate plate. Draco put some bacon and sausage on each one, and Nesmay supplied the fresh juice and coffee, plus a small pitcher of syrup.
"All right, now who's going to bring it in to them?" asked the half-fae girl.
They all looked at each other uncomfortably. Finally Harry said, "Smidgen, would you mind going and seeing if they're . . . uh . . . awake and . . . err . . . decent? I wouldn't want to embarrass myself. My virgin eyes, you know."
Smidgen licked a dollop of milk off her paw. :Of course, Harry. Wait here.: Then she blinked away.
She returned a few moments later. :They were just waking and said to tell you that it's very thoughtful of you to make breakfast for them and Severus hopes you haven't burnt down the kitchen.:
"Tell them it's a belated wedding present from all of us," Draco smirked. "And I hope they slept well!"
"Draco!" Hermione gasped.
"Wait, Smidgen! Leave out that last part, I don't want to end up doing the laundry by hand for the rest of the summer!" Draco quickly amended.
:Cheeky brat!: the shimmerling sent, amused. :Give them five minutes, Harry, then deliver their breakfast.:
Harry nodded, his mouth twitching into a smile in response to his brother's outrageousness.
The others began to sit and eat, while Harry floated the tray down the hall and tapped on the door. "Err . . . Dad, you awake?"
"Come in, Harry."
Harry opened the door and found Severus, wearing his familiar green dressing robe, sitting up in bed. Sarai was also awake, wearing a silver and blue wrap.
"This was very sweet of you, Harry," she greeted, her eyes sparkling with amusement at the boy's sudden blush.
"Hi, Sarai. Uh . . . we all made something. Draco made the bacon and sausage, I made the eggs, Katie did the toast, Hermione the waffles, and Nesmay squeezed the juice."
"What did Ron do?" asked Severus curiously.
"Uh . . . he arranged everything on the tray. He can't cook and we didn't want him to try."
"I see. Very astute of you," Severus praised, smirking. "Thank you, Harry. We'll send this back to the kitchen when we're finished. Mind you clean up after yourselves."
"Don't worry, we will!" Harry assured him. He turned to leave, adding impudently over his shoulder, "Hope you slept well!"
"Why, you impudent—" his father began indignantly, while Sarai collapsed in laughter.
Harry nearly made it out the door before a wooden spoon popped out of the air and smacked his backside. "Ow! It was a joke, Dad!"
"Get, brat! Before your mouth gets you in more trouble." Severus ordered, his black eyes gleaming.
Harry went, muttering, "Draco said it first," before shutting the door. He headed back down to the kitchen to eat breakfast, rubbing his behind ruefully and regretting his impudent tongue.
Later, after they had all eaten and cleaned the kitchen, Harry showed Ron the orchard and gardens while Draco took Katie and Hermione over by the pond. Nesmay tagged along with Harry, as she much preferred the orchard. She gleefully climbed the trees and tossed down plums, peaches, and cherries for Ron to sample. Then she almost made him choke to death when she backflipped herself out of the cherry tree and landed neatly on the ground.
Harry swatted him helpfully on the back and glared at his sister. "You could have warned him, Nesmay! You want to kill him?"
Ron wiped his eyes with a sleeve. "Can't . . . believe . . . you just did that! Without a charm or . . . anything!"
Nesmay grinned mischievously. "I'm half-fae, silly Weasel. We all have the balance of cats, don't you know? I've climbed higher than this before."
"You're lucky Dad didn't catch you," Harry scolded. "Your arse would have been grounded like that." He snapped his fingers for emphasis.
"Why? For landing on my feet?"
"No, for scaring him to death."
Nesmay rolled her eyes. "Mortals! You worry too much."
"Brat!" Harry mock-cuffed the back of her head.
Ron sniggered, for the byplay reminded him of himself and Ginny. He abruptly changed the subject. "Uh, Harry? Where are your dad and stepmum going on their honeymoon?"
"You know, usually once you get married, you go off somewhere with your new wife and . . . err . . .get to know her better. Like, my mum and dad went to Bordeaux in France. They drank a lot of wine and ate croissants and err . . . had a good time."
Harry's brow wrinkled. "I dunno. They never said. I think they'd as soon as stay home."
"Oh. Well . . . you know, Harry . . . it's been awhile since you've visited the Burrow and I was wondering if you'd like to come for a bit and stay. Malfoy and Nesmay too." He sighed. "I'd love to spend some more time here, but not with two newlyweds." He made a face.
"You know, Ron, that might not be a bad idea." Harry mused. "Why don't you ask Dad when he gets up?"
"Me?" Ron squeaked.
"Of course, you. It was your idea." Harry smirked.
"And if you ask, it'll seem like a nice gesture, but if Harry asks, it could seem like he wants to get out of doing chores or something," Nesmay added.
"She's right," Ron agreed.
"Yeah, she's too smart for her own good," Harry added.
"All right. I'll ask him," Ron said. Then he asked Harry if he wanted to go flying, he had brought his broom just in case. "You can come too, Nesmay."
But the fae girl shook her head. "No, that's all right. I'll keep my feet on the ground." She didn't want to admit it, but that last flip had made her slightly dizzy, enough so she didn't feel like flying then.
She watched, perched in the fork of a peach tree, as the two boys looped and dove in the air, absently nibbling on a peach while the sweet juice dribbled down her chin.
An hour or two later, they all returned to the house, it was around eleven o'clock, and found Severus and Sarai in the lounge area, quietly examining all the bridal gifts and deciding where they should go and what needed to be put into storage.
"Now's your chance," Harry urged his friend. He gave Ron a gentle nudge.
The redhead swallowed a bit sharply, then supposed Snape looked as relaxed as he ever would be, and approached the couple.
"Hello, Ron," Sarai greeted, smiling up at the lanky boy.
Ron blushed and muttered hello, then just stood there.
"Was there something you needed to ask me, Weasley?" Severus queried.
"Uh, yes, sir. I . . . I was wondering if . . ." he opened his mouth to ask about Harry, Draco, and Nesmay coming to visit, but what came out instead was something utterly different, but no less important. " . . . the fae ever take apprentices? To . . . to learn their magics . . . I mean . . ."
"Sometimes, Ron," Sarai answered. "But fae magic differs from mortal magic, and usually the two are not compatible. Why do you ask?"
"I . . . I wanted to learn how to cast that Glamour spell." Ron stammered.
"Glamour is an art the fae have perfected over centuries," Severus put in. "I don't know if it's possible for a human wizard without fae blood in their ancestry to master it. Sarai, what do you think?"
The petite warrior was silent for a few minutes. "It may be possible. But I am not sure. I would have to ask one of the mages. I am only half-fae, and though I can cast glamourie, it is not as effortless for me as for a full fae. As for being an apprentice, most of my people would be reluctant to tutor a mortal, because it would require you to stay within our kingdom for a long time. And some of them are . . . rather prejudiced against humans, believing them to be inferior. I am sorry, but I don't think what you wish is possible, unless I could find a mage willing to teach a mortal."
Ron's face fell. He had been hoping to be able to spend more time in the fae realm. "Well . . . I guess I could wait . . ."
"Perhaps when you finish school, we can ask around at court and see if someone would be willing to teach you," Severus said. He was pleased that one of his students was showing interest in another culture and people.
"Thank you. But there's something else . . ."
"Well, go on." Severus said impatiently.
Ron drew in a deep breath and blurted, "Would it be all right if Harry, Draco, and Nesmay comes to stay at the Burrow for a weekend or so? That way you two can have some . . . err . . . peace and quiet."
The Potion Master's eyebrows went up. "That's very generous of you, Ronald, but how would your parents feel about having three extra people in their home?"
"Oh, they won't mind," Ron said breezily. "I can Floo Mum if you want and you can ask her. But she told me before I left that it'd be grand if we could have Harry over again and if Harry goes, so should Draco and Nesmay. We have the room, sir, since Percy moved out, and the twins are usually staying with Zeke Zonko, they've apprenticed to him to learn about running a joke shop."
"I see." He looked over at his wife. "Sarai, should we let them go?"
"I see no harm in it, Sev. Let them have some fun. They've the rest of the summer here at the manor," she agreed, winking conspiratorially at her husband. As of yet, they had not told their sons or daughter about Severus' plan to use the time clock. "Besides, it'll be good to be alone for a few days."
"You're right. Very well, I shall speak to Molly, and if she agrees, they can all go, Ronald."
"Thanks, Professor! I'll Floo her right now."
Molly was quite happy to agree, saying that Severus needed time with his new wife, and she would be happy to take the kids off his hands for four days. "I don't mind at all, Severus. My home feels empty now, with Percy gone and the twins are more often away than not, so it's just Arthur and me and Ginny and Ron. What's three more?"
"You are most kind, Molly. I have told them they are to be on their best behavior, but I am giving you permission to punish them if they misbehave, like you would you own."
"Oh, I'm sure that won't be necessary, Severus. Harry was never any trouble when he spent the summer here before."
"Nevertheless . . ."
"I understand, Severus. Now, don't worry about a thing. You just have a nice interlude with your wife and tell her I said congratulations. Oh, and did Ron give you the gift . . . I hope you don't think I was too forward, sending you a Cooking Spells For All Occasions and a magical baking set, but when I was a young bride, I couldn't cook to save my life and those really helped me . . ."
"Sarai says to tell you thanks very much, as she has very limited cooking skills herself," Severus informed the witch. "I shall bring the boys and Nesmay over this afternoon, say around two o'clock?"
"That would be fine, Severus. No rush. It'll give me and Ginny time to get the house in order. I'll see you later." Molly beamed.
Severus withdrew from the fire. "Harry, go and call Katie and Hermione, I have to bring them home before you all go to the Burrow. While I'm doing that, you should all be packing."
"Sure, Dad." Harry called, then ran out the back door. The other three were still down at the lake and had no idea what had just gone on.
After bidding his girlfriend goodbye and Hermione as well, unfortunately the girls had other obligations and couldn't come to the Burrow, Harry went to pack a few things in an overnight bag. He could hear Draco in the bathroom just down the hall, gathering his toothbrush and hair tonic. Ron lounged on Harry's bed, his hands behind his head, looking quite bored.
Ten minutes later, he was finished, and he met Draco in the den. The Slytherin had a rather large black and green duffel in his hand. Ron eyed the duffle and remarked, "Thinking about staying for a week, Malfoy?"
"No. But I never know what to pack, so . . ."
"Where's Nesmay?" Harry wondered, for the fae girl was nowhere in sight.
"She's a girl. They take forever to pack anything," Ron told him knowingly.
Five minutes later, Nesmay came down the hall, her bag looked like she had stuffed her whole wardrobe of fae silks into it, it bulged at the seams. She was wearing a two piece outfit, a green and blue ensemble made of spidersilk, a midriff top which had ruffles about the sleeves and a skirt that just barely came down to her knees. Glittery sandals completed the outfit.
All three boys gaped at her.
Nesmay cocked her head, puzzled. "What's with you three? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"You're going to be a ghost if Dad ever catches you in that outfit," Draco predicted.
"Why? What's the matter with it?" Nesmay asked, looking at herself.
Before any of the boys could say anything, Severus walked in the den, having returned from Apparating the two girls home. Sarai was in the kitchen preparing lunch. "Are you all set—Great Merlin! Nesmayallindra what are you wearing?"
"Clothes," she answered.
"Those are not clothes," refuted the Potions Master, frowning down at his ward. "That looks more like a costume that a . . . harem dancer would wear. You aren't wearing that to the Weasleys. Go and put on something more appropriate."
"What for? I like this outfit, Severus. It's comfortable," the girl argued.
"It doesn't cover you decently. Do you want Molly to have a coronary? Go and change."
"It's hot out," she groused.
Severus drew his wand and flicked it. Her skirt lengthened by several inches, till it fell past her knees to her ankles, and her top came down to mid-thigh. "Much better."
Nesmay glanced down and groaned. "Severus! I look like an old maid!" she wailed. Then she waved her wand and the skirt became short again and the top as well. "I like it like this."
Severus locked eyes with her. "I don't. No child of mine is going to leave my house wearing a skirt that shows half her backside."
"It doesn't!" she flared. "See? It's covered!" She turned about.
"You lean over and everyone and his brother will see your undergarments," snapped Severus. "And that top is too old for you. You're twelve, not seventeen."
Nesmay pouted. "Severus, I'm not a nun! Why should I dress like my grandmother? This is the fashion nowadays."
He put his hands on his hips. "Nesmayallindra, I could care less about fashion. Now go and change. I'm certain your grandmother would not approve of that outfit either."
"Only because she's like you, an old killjoy! There's nothing wrong with this top. Or do you think I'm ugly?"
"Neither. But it's too revealing for a child your age."
"I'm not a child! I'm almost thirteen!"
"Mind that tone, young lady. Last I checked, twelve and thirteen year olds were still children. Quit arguing and change. Or else you can stay home in your room for the day, Miss Insolence!"
"You're so unfair!"
"So is life. Well?" he fastened one of his particularly stern Snape glares upon her.
The stubborn child flinched, but stood her ground.
Severus longed to shake her. "Shall I count to ten?"
"What is going on out here?" Sarai asked, from the doorway of the kitchen.
"Ask him! He started it!" Nesmay cried, pointing a finger at Severus.
"I merely told her to put on another outfit as that one is not something I shall permit her to wear to the Weasleys," Severus informed Sarai. "It is far too mature and revealing for a girl her age."
"Sarai, he's being a prison warden!"
"A prison warden?" Severus growled.
Sarai looked Nesmay up and down, then she looked at her husband, who looked as if he were going to snap, and made a swift decision. "Nesmay, come with me. I'll help you choose something that's not so . . .airy."
"I'm not wearing a skirt down to my shoes, that's for dowdy court ladies!" the girl said mutinously. "He wants me to dress like Gran!"
"He's also your guardian, child, and should be spoken to with respect," Sarai scolded. "Where are your clothes?"
"In there." Nesmay indicated her bag.
Sarai's eyebrows rose. "All of them? Sun and Stars, Nesmay! Has no one ever taught you how to pack for a trip?"
"Come, let me see if I can sort this out." Sarai picked up the bag and tossed it over her shoulder. "Blazes, girl, one would think you were staying a month, not a few days!" She turned to call over a shoulder, "Severus, breathe. I'll be back in a few minutes."
"Sarai, make certain that her clothing isn't going to turn every boy's head in a five kilometer radius," interjected her husband.
"You see? He's totally overreacting!" Nesmay protested, as Sarai led her back down the hall.
"He's a man, little one. They all overreact with their daughters," the warrior chuckled. Then she led Nesmay away, murmuring, "Child, one thing you need to learn is how to compromise, he'll usually see reason if you're willing to give him an inch . . .Defiance won't get you anything except trouble . . ." She paused and looked back at her fuming husband. "Relax, Snape! I have it under control."
"That's what you think!" Severus muttered under his breath. "And I have how many more years until she grows up?"
Draco and Harry snickered, unable to help themselves. Severus spun on them.
"Don't say anything, either of you!"
Both his sons tried to look utterly disinterested and innocent. Ron carefully looked into the fireplace, clamping his mouth shut so no giggles would escape. He was amazed at Nesmay's daring to answer his most feared professor back to his face like that. He was also giggling silently because Snape's reaction reminded him of his own father's when Ginny had wanted to wear a mini skirt and tank top on holiday to the beach when she was ten. There had been an awful row and Ginny had stomped out of the room in tears, saying Arthur was an anachronism. Who would have thought Severus Snape would have the same problem with his daughter?
Sarai managed to get Nesmay sorted out and packed again, this time making sure that she wasn't wearing clothes that caused her overprotective father to go into fire-breathing dragon mode. Nesmay now had on a pair of silky green pants and a short-sleeved shirt with a silver dragon on it, plus her sandals. Sarai had explained that customs in the mortal world regarding women's clothing was a bit more sedate than those in the fae court, and that a lot of the wizarding world lived by old-fashioned standards. So Nesmay, like Sarai, would simply have to learn to adapt to it.
Hearing the older woman admit that she, too, often had a problem with mortal fashions made Nesmay bristle a bit less and quit regarding Severus like an ogre. "He's behaving like a normal father of a girl, Nesmay," she told the girl. "Now, you wouldn't know that, seeing as you never had an adult man in your life, but he's not acting any differently than mine did when I was your age. He loves you, child, and he wants to protect you, and sometimes he comes off sounding a bit . . . overbearing. No father wants to see their daughter grow up, and even though Sev's coming into this rather late, he still feels the same as any other father."
"Did yours want you to dress like a reject from an old maid's club too?"
"Oh, yes! And while I was living at home, I forced myself into dresses and skirts, but when I was at court, I wore breeches and tunics like every other Blade. My father didn't precisely approve of my occupation, but he learned to accept it eventually." Sarai chuckled. "Come, we're ready, and Severus is waiting."
Severus had removed the scramble charms over the fireplace so the children could Floo to the Burrow, that being the quickest and easiest method for them all to get to the same destination without creating a Port Key. "Now mind you all behave when you're at the Burrow," he lectured his children one last time. "I've given Molly and Arthur my permission to discipline you if you step out of line. But their punishment won't be anything compared to what you'll face if I hear of any misconduct. Am I clear?"
"Yes, sir." They chorused.
"Have a good time." He said, then hugged all of them before sending them through the fire.
Nesmay lingered a bit in his embrace before following her brothers. "I'm sorry, Severus, for my smart mouth."
"I forgive you. Now go, and for the love of Merlin, Nesmay, try and stay out of trouble." He released her rather reluctantly, watching closely until she vanished through the green flames.
"She'll be fine, Severus. I'm certain the Weasleys will take good care of her, she'll survive."
"Yes, but will the Weasleys survive her?" Severus asked, then stepped away from the fireplace and into his wife's embrace.
Harry found the Burrow just as cozy and crowded with furniture and knickknacks as he remembered it from staying over the summer before his second year. Molly greeted them all cordially and then told Ron to show Harry and Draco where they could put their things. "We've expanded the loft a bit, Harry dear, since the last time you were over. Ginny, you and Nesmay will be sharing your room, of course. I hope you don't mind, dear?"
"No, ma'am. That will be fine." Nesmay answered, thinking that this would be the first time she had ever done so, and it would be interesting.
"Oh, just call me Molly, or Mrs. Weasley." Molly told her. "It is an honor to have you in my home, Princess. Severus told me you are the granddaughter of the Queen of the Faeries, is that so?"
"Yes. I'm the granddaughter of Titania of the Seelie Court," explained Nesmay, though she was careful not to reveal any more than that about her heritage. She had been warned by Severus that her being the daughter of Tom Riddle would not be received well by the wizarding community, as he had been the most hated wizard in Britian. Nesmay was just as happy to forget she was related to the dark wizard.
"My room is this way, Nesmay," Ginny beckoned her up a long spiral staircase. "What's it like to live in an actual palace?"
"It's like any other home, except it's huge and easier to get lost in it," Nesmay answered candidly. "And I didn't live in a palace all the time. I grew up on a small estate . . ."
Draco glanced about the rather cluttered living area before following Ron upstairs. The house was smaller than what he was used to, and Narcissa would not have been caught dead in it, but it was clean and . . . comfortable, in a rather odd sort of way. He supposed it reflected the character of its owners, for the Weasleys were as down-to-earth as you could get. Of course, he preferred Prince Manor over any other residence, including Malfoy Manor, but the Burrow was not the shack he had always imagined it to be. He recalled all the times he had twitted Ron about living in a one room shack in the wilderness and felt like an idiot. Severus would have had his hide for it, he reflected, recalling that Snape's old house at Spinner's End hadn't been much bigger than this.
The loft that Ron showed them was almost the size of the entire house, and had three large windows overlooking the back gardens and wheat field. Ron explained that their neighbor was a Muggle farmer and grew acres of wheat, some of which happened to spill over onto the Weasley land, but they didn't mind, as Molly helped herself to it for cooking. As a consequence, the Weasleys ate a lot of wheat bread.
It was portioned into a combination of a sitting room and two bedrooms, one of which belonged to the twins and the other was Ron's. There was a large comfy plaid couch and small table with lamps. A chess board was set up on the table, the pieces were dozing. Several magazines were stacked on one end, most of these were catalogues of joke products and potions magazines. Those had been used extensively by the twins in their magical experiments.
In the twins' room were two beds, each made up with identical orange and blue blankets, pillows, and had matching canopies on them. There were two dressers a large closet and two desks, plus a long nightstand inbetween the beds. The walls were decorated with Quidditch posters of famous players and also different photos of potions and elixirs. When Harry went to set his Voyage of the Dawn Treader on the nightstand, he usually read at night before bed, he found a piece of parchment sticking out of the drawer. Opening it, he found it was a letter, written by none other than Professor Snape.
Smoothing out the parchment, he began to read. It was a potions recipe.
. . .fresh lizard skin is best, preferably from a young orange newt, you should crumble it fine and then add to your cauldron some powdered agate and a fresh honeycomb . . .
"What's that you're reading, Harry?" Draco asked.
"Huh? Oh, just this old letter from Dad to the twins. It's part of a potions recipe." Harry started, feeling suddenly slightly guilty. "I never knew they wrote to him."
"All the time, Harry," said Ron. "They were always getting letters from him, that's why they were so good in potions. I think Mum got tired of them always exploding things and asked your dad to give them advice so our house didn't end up blown to bits."
That would explain a lot, Harry thought, though he wondered if Severus ever knew what the twins did with his advice. He tucked the parchment away and began to unpack his clothes.
Draco did the same with most of his, using a spell to shrink his duffel and stick it inside the closet.
Ron showed them the small bathroom down the hall, on the way they passed Arthur and Molly's room and at the far end was Ginny's room and Percy's. They could hear faint giggling coming from Ginny's room and Ginny exclaiming, "Dads are all alike, Nesmay. Mine did that to me once. They think if they wrap you in a winding sheet, no boy will notice you. Honestly! But I can't believe the professor lets you call him Severus."
"What else would I call him?" came Nesmay's reply. "That's his name."
"If she went to school, she'd be calling him "professor Snape" like the rest of us," Harry said.
"Isn't she going to?" Ron asked.
"Uh . . . I don't know yet. See, she has both kinds of magic, witch and fae, and that makes her have problems controlling it . . ."
"She blew up Ollivander's wand shop," Draco added.
"What? You mean, that's why it was closed for so long? Bloody hell!" Ron's eyes nearly bugged out.
Harry and Draco told Ron the whole story while sitting on the loft couch until Mrs. Weasley called them all down for lunch.
Lunch that day was thick ham, cheese, and pickle sandwiches on slices of hearty wheat bread with mayonnaise, plus fried chips. For a sweet there were mini treacle tarts, which were Harry's favorite, as Molly knew very well, and also apricot sandwich biscuits. The food was delicious and filling, and everyone praised Molly's cooking, which made the witch beam happily.
"Why don't you go out and de-gnome the garden, Ron?" suggested Molly after they were through eating. "I meant to do it earlier, but I lost track of time."
"All right, Mum. Harry, you'll help, right?"
Harry agreed, he had done that before, when he stayed at the Burrow over the summer.
"Don't you have a ward that keeps the gnomes from tunneling in?" asked Draco. No gnome would have dared set foot in the Malfoy gardens. Lucius had wards that would fry any intruder attempting to sneak onto the grounds.
"No. It's too much of a problem to keep renewing it, and Dad always said that's why he had kids," Ginny answered.
"I don't understand," Nesmay looked confused. "What do you mean, de-gnome the garden?"
"You'll see," Ron said, pushing open the back door and going out into the yard.
"Gnomes are ugly yellow creatures with long arms and hands, they're dirty from tunneling under the ground and they love to steal Mum's vegetables and herbs. They're a right nuisance," Ginny explained. "The boys usually just grab them by the foot or the arm and throw them in the wheat field when they catch them in the garden."
"Throw them?" Nesmay frowned. "Why don't you just ask them to leave?"
"Gnomes don't listen to wizards. They don't even speak English!" Ginny said, chuckling at the younger girl's naivety.
Ron had reached the Weasley vegetable garden and spotted several gnomes burrowing beside the lettuce and rutabaga patch. "Harry, come and help me get them!" he called, running over and seizing a gnome about to take a bite out of a lettuce. He quickly swung it over his head and flung it across the garden and into the wheat field.
"Come on, Draco!" Harry urged his brother, who stood watching.
"Looks like fun," muttered the former Malfoy scion and went to join his brother.
Nesmay stared at them in consternation, until she heard a gnome muttering a curse in the fae tongue. Then she snapped out of her dazed stupor and yelled, "Stop! There's a better way to get them to leave!"
Ron, who was just about to grab another gnome by the foot, looked at her. "What do you mean?"
"Let me talk to them," Nesmay said. She entered the garden and took up a position squarely in the middle of it, her feet planted firmly between some squash and potatoes. Then she drew herself up to her full height and called in the fae tongue, "People of the Earth, halt! I, Nesmayallindra Highstar, daughter of Aislinn, granddaughter of Titania, command it!"
All the gnomes in the garden stopped dead. Then all of them popped out of the ground and came to stand in a semi-circle around the girl. As if on cue, they bowed and knelt before her.
"O gracious lady, how may we serve you?" they asked in their rough gravelly voices.
Nesmay gave them a look worthy of Titania and said in her best haughty court tones, "I command you to leave this garden and . . . steal from it no more! These mortals are under the protection of the crown and you shall incur the wrath of mighty Titania should you continue to steal from them. Go forth and never return here again!" She lifted a finger and pointed dramatically.
"We hear and obey, great and gracious princess!" the gnomes cried, then they bowed once more and dove back into the earth. Within five seconds they had vanished from the garden.
Ron was staring at the half-fae girl as if she were some kind of wondrous being. "Holy Merlin! What did you say to them?"
Nesmay grinned. "I told them who I was and that you were under my protection and to never steal from you again, or else the wrath of Titania would fall upon them."
"And they believed you?" Draco asked incredulously.
"Of course. I am fae royalty," Nesmay said.
"And they'll obey you?" Ginny looked impressed.
"Yes. You won't have any more gnomes coming here raiding ever again." Nesmay told her, smiling shyly. "Sometimes it's good to be the queen's granddaughter."
"You can say that again," Ron grinned. "No more de-gnoming the garden. Hurray!"
They spent the rest of the time until dinner outside, playing hide-and-go-seek in the cornfield and the boys and Ginny played an abbreviated kind of Quidditch until Ron tossed the Quaffle too hard and it smashed into a window, cracking it.
Harry and Draco were horrified, sure they were going to get in terrible trouble; if that had happened at home, Severus would have taken away their brooms and grounded them for a week. But Molly came out, scolded them for not watching where they aimed, and mended the window in a trice. The boys apologized and promised to be careful. She saw Nesmay sitting and watching and asked kindly, "Don't you like to fly, Nesmay?"
"Not on a broom, ma'am," the girl answered.
"Ah, I see. Well then, would you like to help me with dinner?"
"Will you teach me how to cook?" Nesmay jumped up. "The chefs at the palace never would, they said it wasn't meet for royal blood to toil like a mere kitchen sprite."
Molly smiled, she loved having an eager apprentice. "That's not so here. Come along, Nesmay, and I'll show you some kitchen spells. Those are always useful for a witch to know and then you can help your stepmum."
"That'd be grand! Sarai's a great warrior, but she can only heat up food over a campfire and make sandwiches," Nesmay whispered, happy to learn something that would help her contribute to her new family.
Arthur arrived home to find Ron, Ginny, Harry, and Draco playing a less vigorous game of Quidditch over the cornfield, close to the shed where he kept his experiments. "Hello, Harry! Molly told me that you were coming to visit for a bit, but I forgot today was the day. And hello to you too, Draco!" He waved to the boys.
They all turned and landed their brooms. Ginny came running up to him and cried excitedly, "Dad! You'll never guess what happened today."
"Your brother broke the kitchen window again?"
"Uh . . . well, yes, but something else happened too."
"You blew up a cauldron again?"
"Dad! No, we were de-gnoming the garden, and Harry's little sister Nesmay, who's a fae princess, she ordered all the gnomes to leave our garden alone forever and now we'll never have gnomes in the garden again!"
"How marvelous!" Arthur smiled. "I must thank her, where is she?"
The boys glanced about, for they had not realized Nesmay was no longer outside.
"I think she went inside with Mum," Ginny said helpfully.
"Probably. You lot better get inside and wash up, Molly hates when you're late for supper," Arthur advised. He then removed several small items from his pocket and set them on the ground.
When Harry looked at them, he saw five mini bicycles. "What are those, Mr. Weasley?"
Arthur rubbed his hands together and drew his wand, enlarging them with a word. "These, Harry, are my latest project. I'll tell you more over supper. Now go, get on inside. You don't want to miss Molly's dinner."
He pointed his wand and the bicycles began to roll themselves over to his shed, where they leaned against the wall. Most of the bikes were worn, with the paint chipped, but they all had baskets and horns on them. They were different colors, red, green, blue, purple, and pink.
Over the delicious dinner of herbed roasted chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, buttered sprouts, and fresh baked bread, Arthur explained that he was working on a new invention, a flying bicycle. "My department at the Ministry, the Use and Misuse of Muggle Artifacts, got together with the Transportation Department, and are trying to figure out an alternative to broom travel."
Ron almost choked on his chicken. "Dad, y'mean you want to get rid of brooms?"
"No, Ron, but you see, we can't fly everywhere on brooms without running the risk of Muggles seeing us, unless we use Notice-Me-Not charms, and sometimes brooms are expensive, as you know. Not everyone can afford one for each member of the family. So we were trying to come up with something that was more . . .cost effective and practical, something that wouldn't draw as much attention to us. So I came up with the idea of a bicycle. Many Muggles use them, and there are also thousands that are thrown away in junkyards. We can take them, fix them up with magic, and enchant them. That's what I'm going to do with the five I have. Who knows, my flying bicycle might be a big hit?"
"That'd be great, Dad," Ron said, relieved that brooms were not suddenly going to be obsolete. "Can we help?"
"Ah . . . maybe later, when I'm ready to test them," Arthur demurred, helping himself to more potatoes and chicken.
"How soon will that be, sir?" Draco asked.
"Well, that depends. On how much time I have to work on them. They could be ready to be tested in a few days. Perhaps Saturday or Sunday."
"More potatoes, Draco?" Molly asked, floating the bowl over to him.
Draco eagerly helped himself to some more. "Thank you, Mrs. Weasley. These are delicious. You cook as well as Professor Snape."
"Really? I've heard he's an excellent cook, though I haven't yet had the chance to taste anything he's made."
"We ought to have you over to the manor sometime for dinner," Draco said.
"Maybe for Christmas?" Harry suggested.
"That would be lovely," Molly agreed. "I'll look forward to it."
For a sweet there was treacle tart and homemade ice-cream in three flavors, vanilla, brown bread, and apple crumble. The children all had sundaes, except Harry, who had a scoop of vanilla ice cream atop his piece of treacle tart. He sighed in bliss. He had forgotten how much he enjoyed Molly's cooking, especially because she always made the most scrumptious sweets. Treacle tart was a rare treat at his home, for Severus preferred fruit and shortbread biscuits and the occasional apple or peach turnover for dessert, nothing truly unhealthy. Sometimes they had ice cream from Fortescue's, but never more than once or twice a month.
The Snape children helped clean up after dinner, mindful of their manners, and after that Ron challenged Draco to a game of chess, while Ginny, Nesmay, and Harry played a variation on Exploding Snap.
They would have played all night, as Ron had found a worthy opponent in Draco, but Arthur came and told them it was lights out and they all went to bed. As Harry slid beneath his sheets, he thought it was going to be a great vacation, and hoped his father and Sarai were also enjoying themselves. He soon fell asleep to Draco's soft breathing.
The next day, Molly took the girls into the small Muggle village nearby to shop for some clothes. Ginny loved the fae silks Nesmay had, claiming they were ten times more comfortable than anything the wizarding world produced. Nesmay gave her a top, colored aqua and royal blue, saying it matched her eyes. Ginny was delighted, she usually never got any new clothes, Molly made many of them or shopped at the secondhand clothing stores.
"Mum, look what Nesmay gave me! Isn't it smashing?" Ginny twirled about, making the top flare out at the bottom.
"That's a beautiful top, dear! It looks lovely with your denims," Molly said. She glanced over at Nesmay. "That's very generous of you, Nesmay. Are you quite sure you want to give it away?"
"Yes. It looks better on Ginny than me," Nesmay answered, wondering why Molly would make such a fuss over a top. They were her clothes, after all, and she had so many she could have worn a different set every day.
"Now we have to go shopping, Mum! So I can buy Nesmay a pair of denims like mine," Ginny begged.
"Well . . ." Molly dithered.
"Please, Mum! Please! Nesmay's never been to a village before and I have money saved up . . ."
"I thought you were going to use that money to buy new school books?"
"I can always use Fred or George's potions text. A pair of denims won't cost too much and then we can have lunch too. My treat! Please?"
Molly gave in when she was faced with two pairs of pleading puppy-dog eyes. "Oh, all right! You twisted my arm. Why don't you see if the boys want to shop too?"
But the boys decline, because Ron and Draco wanted to finish their chess game and Harry wanted to finish reading Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The women were gone for several hours and after the chess game ended with Draco checkmating Ron, the boys grew bored. Harry was almost done with his book, and decided to save the rest for later; Ron went rummaging through the twins' closet shelf and found a box of joke products they'd left behind.
They tested a few of the products on each other, then Ron said, "Let's prank the girls! In Fred and George's honor!"
"All right, Ron. What shall we do?" asked Harry, who hadn't played a good prank on anyone since last summer and the mud war with Draco.
"How about this . . .?" Ron whispered something in Harry's ear.
"Hey, count me in too," Draco said, feeling left out.
Harry told him Ron's suggestion. The Slytherin smirked. "I have a better idea . . ."
The girls and Molly arrived back at the Burrow half-an-hour later, each with a new outfit, chattering excitedly like two magpies about what they had seen and eaten for lunch at the village. They passed the boys in the loft, and Ginny called, "Having fun with Harry and Draco, Ron? Who won the chess game?"
"Malfoy did. But I'll kick his arse next time," Ron said, hiding a smirk.
"Like hell, Weasley," snorted Draco, pretending to be snooty.
Harry remained with his nose buried in a Quidditch mag, not saying anything for fear he would start laughing.
Oblivious, the girls continued down the hall to Ginny's room.
"Any minute now," Ron hissed.
They heard the door to Ginny's room open.
"I can't wait to try on this new shirt," Ginny was saying to Nesmay. "I think it'll—AHHH!"
A large bucket of glittery purple paint cascaded all over her, as the bucket and the rope the boys had rigged flipped over, soaking both girls with paint.
"Oh my God! My new top!" Ginny was screaming. "Ronald, I'm going to kill you!"
Nesmay wiped paint off her face. "Draco, that was really stupid!"
"Me? It was Harry's idea!" Draco protested.
They all came out to see the paint slathered girls, laughing. "Now you and Nessie are twins!" Ron giggled, indicating Ginny's now purple hair.
Ginny shook her fist at him. "Ooh! Just you wait! I can't believe you did this! My new top . . . it's ruined, you bloody imbecile!" She sniffled, trying to brush the paint off the spider silk blouse. "This is why all brothers belong in an asylum!"
The boys were laughing their heads off.
"Don't worry, Gin," Nesmay said. "We'll get them back. They think they're so clever . . . but they didn't have Robin Goodfellow for a tutor. He knows more pranks than any mortal ever born, and he taught me a lot of them, so I could prank my dumbass cousin Malchiar. We'll get them back good!"
Ginny groaned. "I hope so!" Then she stomped into the bathroom to shower.
Nesmay glowered at the boys. "You're going to be sorry you started this."
"Now I'm really scared," Harry teased, wiping tears from his eyes. "Can't you take a joke, Nesmay?"
She sniffed, her face streaked with paint. "Can you, Mr. Snape?" She waved her wand and intoned a Clean Up Charm, so the paint was scoured off the floor and the walls. Then she waited for Ginny to finish her shower and plotted revenge.
"What do you think they'll do to us?" asked Ron, a bit worriedly.
"Nothing big," Draco waved a hand dismissively. "They're girls, they don't know how to prank anybody."
"I hope you're right, Draco," Harry muttered. He had the uneasy feeling that the blond Slytherin was wrong.
Molly managed to get the paint off of Ginny's blouse, and scolded the boys for doing such a foolish thing. She also took away their dessert for that night, which was chocolate cake, and made Ron drool in envy as he watched Nesmay and Ginny devour it in front of him. Arthur just shook his head at the boys' antics, well used to it from raising the twins.
"Come outside to the shed with me," he said to them. "Maybe I can keep you three out of trouble by helping me organize my experiments."
Harry let out the breath he'd been holding when he heard Arthur say that. For one instant he'd been afraid that Mr. Weasley was going to whip them all for the prank, since Uncle Vernon used to drag Harry out to the garden shed and whip him when Dudley complained that Harry did freaky things to him. That had been years ago, but some memories still lingered, even after the dream therapy with Smidgen.
All of the boys followed Mr. Weasley, leaving Nesmay and Ginny a chance to get some payback. After they had helped Molly put away the dishes, they went upstairs, telling her they were going to try on their new outfits. That was true, but they were also going to invade the boys' rooms.
"I can't wait to see their faces when they wake up tomorrow!" Ginny said gleefully, rubbing her gloved hands together.
"Serves them right," Nesmay said, a devilish gleam in her eyes. "Let's see how well they can take a joke."
Ginny glance down at the container of shredded plant leaves in her hand. "Are you sure this stuff will work, Nesmay?"
"Of course! Robiin is the ultimate prankster. The effects will wear off . . .in about twelve hours."
They crept into the twins' room and set to work.
When the boys returned from helping Arthur, they were too tired to be bothered about inspecting their room for any sign of the girls' revenge prank. Or at least Harry and Ron were. Draco did look about cautiously, his innate Slytherin caution coming into play, but everything looked normal. The two brothers got undressed and into bed, casting Cooling Charms over their sheets, for it was a hot night.
A moment later, Draco growled, "What the hell? There's something wrong with my sheets. My feet keep getting tangled up in them."
Harry was having the same problem. He sat up and climbed out of bed, lighting up the room with his wand. "They shortsheeted our beds, Draco," he said. "That's the oldest trick in the book. Dudley used to do that to me all the time." He pulled out the sheets and fixed them.
"Some prank!" Draco rolled his eyes. "Told you they were no good at them."
Little did he know that wasn't all that had been done to them.
After fixing his sheets, he crawled back into bed, thinking there was an odd smell in the air, but he was too tired to worry about it.
Harry woke at dawn feeling hot and scratchy. He had an itch in the middle of his lower back. Squirming, he sat up and reached back to scratch. Two minutes later he was scratching frantically, his legs, calves, even his bottom itched like seven hells. And the more he scratched, the worse it got. He shook his head, it felt strangely heavy. Unable to bear rubbing against the sheet, he sprang out of bed.
The sudden thud of his feet hitting the floor woke Draco, who sat up and mumbled, "Huh? Whassa matter?"
"Draco, are you . . .itchy anywhere?" Harry asked, still scratching like crazy.
"Am I what?" His brother yawned, then he, too, felt an itch start in his foot. Soon he was whimpering and scratching also. "Bloody hell, Harry! What's wrong with us?"
Harry turned on the lamp and stared at Draco. "Merlin! Draco . . .don't look in the mirror . . ."
"Why?" demanded the Slytherin. "What's wrong . . .ahhh!" he wailed as he caught sight of his face, which was puffy and blotchy and filled with small red pustules. But that was not the worst. Hanging on either side of his head, were long gray asses' ears.
A moment later, Ron stumbled into their room. "H-Harry . . . look at me and tell me I d-don't have the ears of a jackass . . .oh no! Not you too!" He was also scratching his bum and thighs.
Harry grimaced and struggled not to scratch himself, sensing it would only be worse if he did. "Ron, I think we've been had royally."
"W-what do you mean? Ooh, I itch!" He began hopping about on one foot, trying to scratch the bottom of it.
"I mean our sisters did this to us." Harry groaned. They were all sporting jackass ears and a very itchy red rash.
No sooner were the words out of his mouth then they heard snickering coming from the hallway.
"Nesmay, a trio of jackasses are living in this room!" Ginny taunted, before exploding into laughter.
"Not only that, but jackasses with a very bad case of . . . poison oak!" Nesmay cackled. "Don't scratch too much, boys, it'll spread."
"Nesmay!" cried Harry in dismay. "How could you? This . . . isn't funny!"
"What's the matter, big brother? Can't you take a joke?" she purred.
"This isn't a joke!" Ron whined. "It's like torture!"
"Aww! Poor baby!" Ginny smirked.
"When's it wear off?" gasped Draco.
"Umm . . .in about twelve hours . . ." Nesmay informed him.
"Twelve hours!" they wailed.
"Serves you right," Ginny huffed. "She who laughs last, laughs best!"
"I did warn you," Nesmay said, somewhat smugly.
Then the girls turned and marched back to their room, where they collapsed on their beds, smothering their laughter in their pillows.
It wasn't until Saturday night that the boys were recovered, their soft asses' ears vanished and so did the rash, thanks to Molly's smelly Anti-Itch Salve, but the three had to spend all of that day in bed. The only good thing about that was Molly made Ginny and Nesmay bring them lunch and dinner on a tray, but otherwise, they were miserable. However, when they went to complain to Mrs. Weasley, she told them to hush and said that if they didn't want to be pranked back, they shouldn't have started it by pranking the girls in the first place.
Glumly, Harry had to admit she was right, and told Draco to quit sulking.
So they called a truce, and reluctantly allowed that the girls' prank was a fitting revenge.
They were all sitting about in the loft, keeping their voices low, for Molly and Arthur had gone to sleep, when Ginny whispered that her father had finally managed to enchant the five bikes. "Nesmay and I tested them this afternoon, for about ten minutes. Dad put a Don't See Me charm on us and we rode them around and then hovered in place for about five minutes and then flew about the house. It was fun."
Harry gaped at Nesmay. "You went flying? On an experimental bike? Were you scared?"
"No. I felt comfortable on the bike," said his sister.
"It's a lot easier to sit up and steer on the bike than on a broom," Ginny added.
"Merlin! You girls have all the fun!" Ron grumbled, eating a piece of cherry pie.
"Tell me about it," groused Draco. "While we were stuck in bed being driven mad by itching, you get to go joyriding . . ."
"Next time don't play pranks on Robin Goodfellow's student," Nesmay said.
"It's your own fault," Ginny told him.
"Ahh, shut up!" Draco scowled.
"Do you think we could try out the bikes?" Harry wondered.
"I don't know. Dad did say there were a few kinks to be worked out." Ginny informed him.
"But tomorrow's our last day here. We return to the manor after supper," Harry recalled.
"Why don't we go and test them out tonight?" Ron suggested. "Dad won't mind."
"Ron, he said we shouldn't ever test an experimental device unless he's with us, you know that," reminded his sister aggravatingly.
"He always says that, Gin. I'm sure the bikes are fine. All we want to do is fly a bit with 'em."
"C'mon, we'll just take a turn about the yard," Harry encouraged. He was bored to death and wanted to get out and do something fun. It would only be a few minutes. What harm could there be? It wasn't like they were stealing the bikes.
They tiptoed down the stairs and out the back door. The bikes were leaning against the shed, and they saw the faint silvery sheen of an active spell glistening over them.
"Wicked!" Ron exclaimed, going over to the red one and mounting it.
"I call the green one," Draco declared, running over to the green bike.
"That leaves the blue for me," Harry shrugged. "You coming, Nesmay?"
Nesmay hesitated. She had loved flying on the bike, but wasn't sure if she wanted to risk doing so at night.
"I don't know if we should . . ." Ginny murmured.
"Scaredy-cats!" mocked Ron, pedaling above them in lazy circles.
"Who are you calling scared?" snapped Ginny, then she grabbed the pink bike and hopped on.
A moment later, Nesmay followed suit.
The moon had risen by then, a great luminous full sphere, a "werewolf-moon". The sky was pitch black, save for tiny twinkling motes of stars. It was a clear night, a night that was perfect for stargazing . . . or night flying.
"This is great!" Ron shrilled, doing circles about the shed. He didn't really need to pedal, the bike flew by his mental prompting, similar to a broom.
"Weasley, pipe down!" Malfoy snapped. "You want to get us caught?" He flew as gracefully as he ever did on his Nimbus 2005, doing tight turns and spirals about the house.
At first, all the kids did was fly close to the yard, but then they started doing bigger circles, extending their range over the neighboring corn rows. It was way past midnight and everyone should be sleeping. It was Draco who challenged the others to a race, though Ron said it had to be a long one, like to the village and back. Nesmay and Ginny were eager to test themselves against their brothers, but Harry bit his lip.
It was one thing to stay in the yard, where no one would notice them, but leaving the property . . . "Ron, I don't think we should do that. We could race across the cornfield instead. That way no one would see us."
"That's no fun, Harry! It's just to the village, not really that far at all. It'll take maybe five or ten minutes and then we'll be back home. C'mon, Harry, don't be such a worrywart. You're starting to sound like Hermione!"
"People are sleeping, no one will ever know," persuaded Ginny. "I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be brave and daring."
Harry considered for a bit more before finally allowing himself to be swayed. It was a beautiful night and he was probably worrying over nothing. He didn't want to seem like a coward, especially not since Nesmay was going. Besides, he knew how to cast a Notice Me Not Charm. "All right. Everybody line up."
He hovered his bicycle just over the roof peak of the house, and muttered the charm. Then he called out, "Ready, set, GO!"
The bicycles took off, shooting across the sky like comets.
Ron and Draco were ahead of the rest, pushing their bikes as fast as they could go. They were followed by Ginny and Nesmay, who were giggling and trying to out run the boys. Harry flew a bit slower, enjoying the wind in his face and the sheer brilliance of the moon hanging overhead. It was so bright he felt as if he could touch it.
They reached the sleepy village and slingshot about the town, Draco was slightly ahead of Ron at this point, with Nesmay and Ginny tied for third. But it was then that they started having slight acceleration problems.
All of a sudden, Ron's bike coughed . . .and seemed to run out of steam. "Hey!" he cried, wobbling a bit. "What's going on?"
"I told you Dad hadn't worked out all the kinks yet," Ginny moaned. "You'd better slow down, Ron."
Ron reluctantly slowed down to a glide, and the girls, Draco, and Harry did also, until they were strung out in a line, silhouetted across the brilliant moon.
Little did they know that an eight-year-old boy happened to wake in the middle of the night to get a drink of water, and on his way back to his bed in the attic, he passed his opened window. He glanced out it and saw the five bikes and the young wizards riding them silhouetted across the moon. His mouth fell open. He couldn't believe his eyes! Then he shouted, "Mum! Dad! Jimmy! Come and see! It's ET!"
His shrill shouts woke his parents and older brother, who came charging up the stairs just in time to see the last bike fly past, outlined clearly by moonlight, just like the famous scene in Spielberg's classic film.
"Oh my word!"
"It really does look like it! But . . .bikes don't fly!"
"Yeah! ET phone home!" yelled Jimmy, pumping his fist in the air.
"Mummy, it's Elliot!" the little boy pointed to Draco.
They watched until the bikes suddenly dipped down behind some trees and vanished from sight.
Because they didn't want to tax the fading spells any more, it took the children about an hour to get back to the Burrow.
They circled the house and the yard, everything seemed quiet.
"See? Everything's fine," Draco muttered out of the corner of his mouth to Harry.
Ron wiped sweat from his brow, thinking that this midnight ride had sure gone better than the time the twins and he had flown Mr. Weasley's Ford Anglia. He slowly glided down for a landing, followed by Ginny, Malfoy, Harry, and Nesmay.
They had no sooner touched down when there came a blinding flash and all of them were illuminated by the bright lights from three wands.
All of them froze as they saw Mrs. Weasley and Mr. Weasley glowering at them.
"Where have you children been?" Molly demanded furiously.
"Uh . . . hi, Mum," Ron said weakly, giving her a rather lame grin.
Draco gulped, for Molly looked ready to grab a spoon and tan all their backsides.
Harry hung his head, getting off the bike. From the Weasleys' expressions, they had probably been frantic upon finding all of them missing. "Mrs. Weasley, I can explain—" he began, cancelling his charm.
"Harry Albus Snape, start talking," growled a familiar voice.
Only then did Harry see the tall figure standing partially in shadow next to Molly. "Dad?"
Severus stepped into the pool of light thrown by their combined wands, and so did a smaller figure, cupping a glowing globe in one hand and the other resting on the hilt of her sword. Both of them wore expressions of extreme displeasure.
"Sarai?" Nesmay whispered in dismay, her heart plummeting to her shoes.
Aww, Merlin! We are so dead! Harry groaned inwardly.
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