At 7.30am the next morning Dobby apparated into the room. Unfortunately, Dobby had not thought this move through. Ginny normally slept naked and had, because she was Ginny, seen no reason to do differently last night. The noise of Dobby’s arrival had made her sit up abruptly, causing her duvet to drop to her waist. If Dobby had not been facing her, there would not have been a problem, but he was. They made identical sounds of “Eeek”. Ginny’s arms flew across her chest and Dobby disapparated.
Ginny hastily grabbed her T-shirt from the chair next to her bed and was presentable when there was a timid knock at the door. By this time the others were awake. Harry crossed the room, wearing just his boxers, to admit Dobby who seemed to be unwilling to look at anything but the floor. A snap of his fingers and four light breakfasts appeared on the table. “Good morning to you all. Professor Headmaster Dumbledore will visit at 8.45. Please to be ready at that time.”
“Ready for what, Dobby?”
“Dobby does not know Master Harry.”
“Very well Dobby, we will be ready.” Dobby finally looked up and seeing Ginny, bowed low and apologised for his error. Now Ginny blushed,
“It’s okay Dobby, don’t worry about it. It’s my fault too.” Dobby left the room.
“What was all that about?” asked Hermione. Ginny explained, to Harry’s great amusement. They ate, then showered and dressed and were ready by the appointed time. Dumbledore’s visit was short and to the point.
“Follow me.” Was all he said. He led them to the large ‘conference room’ which was crowded with people. Harry knew that the fact that Dumbledore had brought them to Grimmauld Place meant that they were all members of the Order of the Phoenix. He knew many, but not all of them. The only one that surprised him was Stan Shunpike, conductor of the Knight Bus. Dumbledore led them to the front of the gathering. “You all know why this meeting has been called.” He turned to the four. “Please form a line.” They did so, shoulder to shoulder, Harry, Ginny, Luna and Hermione. The room fell silent.
Minerva McGonagall moved and stood in front of Luna. Kneeling down, she looked up at Ginny and took her left hand and held it to her own forehead, “Daughter of Aspartea, I, Minerva Medea McGonagall, pledge my service, unto death, to you in the hour of our need.” Ginny’s mouth had dropped open. Minerva repeated her actions and words to Luna and then reached for Hermione’s hand. Hermione jerked her hand away,
“No! Absolutely not! Nobody is pledging anything like that to me. I won’t have it, I won’t.” From the front row Mad-Eye Moody growled,
“Shut it, Granger. This is vitally important. Get on with it.” Hermione turned a pleading look to Dumbledore,
“I’m sorry, but he is correct. This is paramount Hermione. Please…” Reluctantly she offered her hand. Minerva then went and stood behind Luna.
The next woman forward was Molly. She knelt and reached for the hand of her baby girl. Ginny looked forlorn,
“Mummy…” she whispered, sounding and feeling like a frightened little girl waking from a bad dream. Molly gave a slight shake of her head and with a single tear trickling slowly down her left cheek, she spoke.
“Daughter of Aspartea, I Molly Weasley, pledge my service, unto death, to you in the hour of our need.” Completing the process with Hermione, Molly returned to her place. One by one all the women present carried out the ritual. Tonks, Fleur, Poppy Pomfrey, Victoria Vector, Hestia Jones, Katie Bell, Susan Bones, Arabella Figg and more that Harry did not know. When the women had finished all the men raised their right hands. Dumbledore moved in front of Harry. Kneeling down he took Harry’s hand in the same manner and said slowly but clearly.
“I speak for all men here.” A short pause. “Son of Myrdeo, I, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian of the house of Dumbledore, pledge our service, unto death, to you in the hour of our need.” He got to his feet and faced the four young people. His heart bled as he looked at the puzzled, frightened, faces. “Please return to your room, I will join you shortly.”
Hermione was furious, “That was so… humiliating. I feel so… angry. How could they do such a thing?” Harry tried to calm her,
“Hermione, there are things going on here that none of us understand. I’m finding it as hard as you, but remember what Dumbledore said about trusting what we are told. For now I think we should just go with the flow.” Ginny sniffed, Harry looked to see her tears flowing freely.
“Harry, I can’t do this. I’m so scared. I’m sorry I can’t go on.” He sat beside her on her bed and put an arm around her shoulders. He turned her face and kissed her softly,
“I’m scared too, Ginny. You know I won’t let anything happen to you, any of you, if I can prevent it. Go a little further with us, Gin. At least until we find out what this is all about. What do you say?” Her crying had stopped and she looked at him with a weak smile,
“I’ll… I’ll try Harry. Sorry for being such a wimp.” Luna came across the room, her gentle eyes locked on Ginny’s.
“Don’t be afraid, Ginevra. We are all in this together. So allow me…” she knelt and took Ginny’s hand, while Harry and Hermione watched. “Daughter of Aspartea, I, Luna Selene Lovegood, pledge my service, unto death, to you in the hour of our need.” Ginny returned the compliment and both girls looked at Hermione who with a deep breath, knelt and made her pledge to the girls, and they to her. They stood and linked hands and Harry watched in amazement as a soft white glow enveloped the three girls. After about a minute the glow faded.
“What just happened here?” asked Harry.
Ginny replied, “I don’t know Harry, but I’m not scared anymore.” Her voice was quiet, but firm and determined.
A few minutes later, Dumbledore arrived. His manner still brusque. “I have been instructed to take you to The Library. We will leave in about half-an-hour.” The door opened again to admit the Weasleys, Xenophilius Lovegood, Katie Bell and Neville Longbottom. The four drifted apart and the Weasley’s surrounded Ginny, Katie and Neville stood with Harry and Hermione, While Xeno embraced his daughter.
“Luna, precious child of my heart. I do not know what lies ahead for you and that frightens me. If the fates decree that I never see you again, know that wherever you go my heart and love are with you. I never imagined that you could be one of the Daughters. Even among those who know of the Daughters of Aspartea, nobody ever dares think that about their child. Be strong, my darling girl, and come back to me.
“I love you, Daddy. Of course I will come back to you, where else would I go? My friends will need me to be strong, so I will be. I will watch out for them and they will watch over me. We are pledged to each other and we will be the stronger for that. If there is to be any hope for the world, we must and will prevail.” She looked around the room and lowered her voice to a whisper, “I hope you won’t be upset, Daddy, but there is a remote possibility that I may be required to bear Harry’s child.”
“I won’t be upset Luna. He is a fine boy; he will become a fine man. The legends say that a child of Myrdeo and Aspartea will be powerful indeed. If it is your lot to bear such a child, you should be honoured. I must go now my Luna.” he placed a hand on her head, “May all the gods of creation guard and preserve you. Go with my love.” He kissed her forehead and walked away. He managed to hold his tears back until the door closed behind him.
“Goodbye Daddy, I don’t think I will see you again. Be happy for me.” She whispered. A solitary tear rolled slowly down her face.
Harry and Hermione were talking to Neville and Katie. “I wish I could think of something inspirational to say to the pair of you.” Said Katie. She kissed Harry lightly on the cheek “I’m very fond of you both,” she dropped her voice to a whisper as she kissed Hermione’s cheek, “Especially you.” This kiss lingered a little longer. “Take care of yourselves, and each other. We need you.”
“Don’t worry about anything back here. We’ll handle things.” Neville didn’t feel as confident as he was trying to sound. He shook Harry’s hand and pulled Hermione into his arms and fulfilled his schoolboy’s fantasy, he kissed her gently on her lips. “Come back to us soon. Katie’s right, we need you. Good luck.” Seeing Hermione’s nonplussed look, Katie took Neville’s arm,
“Come on Neville, let’s go. You can cuddle me while I have a little cry.”
Molly pulled Ginny away from her father and brothers. She looked at her only daughter, the pride blazing from her eyes. “You haven’t called me ‘Mummy’ for years. Are you scared of all this?”
“I was Mum, I was terrified.” She pointed across the room, where Harry, Hermione and Luna were chatting. “Look at those three, Mum; while we are together, we’ll be okay.” Arthur joined them while Ron and the twins said goodbye to the others.
“We should be going, Molly, these youngsters have things to do.” He put his arms around his daughter, “We love you, Princess, when you are troubled remember this feeling. It’s called love and you are surrounded by it.” He stopped the sob that was threatening to escape his lips. Molly held Ginny, unable to speak and wishing she could never let go.
Fred Weasley was the last to leave. At the door he looked back at Harry and his three companions. “Three girls Harry, I don’t know whether to envy you or feel sorry for you. Ginny, we love you, take care. Good luck, all of you. See ya.”
Albus Dumbledore gathered the four around him. “An emotional few minutes for you all, I’m sure, but now we have things to do. Just to be on the safe side, you should pack a small bag with a few clothes, at least a change of underwear and anything else you think might be necessary.” He allowed them ten minutes. “We should leave now. I wish I could tell you what to expect but alas, I cannot. Hopefully things will be explained at the Library. So, let us begin.” He stood in the middle of the four, “Join hands please.” The five people disappeared from the room.
They stood once again outside the great double doors. The same voice spoke to them, “Albus of the house of Dumbledore, you are welcome, as are you, Hermione, Daughter of Aspartea. Who are your companions?” Dumbledore indicated them to speak in turn, Harry began,
“I am Harry James Potter, Son of Myrdeo.” A short silence,
“You are welcome, Son of Myrdeo.”
“I am Luna Selene Lovegood, Daughter of Aspartea.” Silence again,
“You are welcome, Daughter of Aspartea.”
“I am Ginevra Molly Weasley, Daughter of Aspartea.” A final silence
“You are welcome, Daughter of Aspartea.” A short pause and the great doors opened. Dumbledore led the way inside. The three first-timers were as astounded as Hermione had been at the view before them. They watched nervously as two figures, a man and a woman, clothed in white, came towards them. The man stood about six feet tall; shoulder length black hair and a thin, sharp featured, face gave him, as Harry thought, a striking resemblance to a clean version of Severus Snape. The woman, short at five and a half feet, her long dark hair piled up around her head and piercing blue eyes, greeted them with a smile,
“You are all most welcome here, I am Aspartea. Albus of Dumbledore thank you for your diligence in bringing my daughters and Myrdeo’s son to us. When you return assure those who love these people that they are safe and will come to no harm.” The man addressed them,
“I am Myrdeo. Albus of Dumbledore I join my thanks to those of Aspartea. You should now take your leave of these fine young people. We will give you a little time for this.” The couple moved apart and talked quietly to each other.
Dumbledore faced his young charges, about to pass from his responsibility. “For one of the few times in my life, I am lost for words. Take care of each other and come back to us. Trust each other, help each other and love each other. Remember this. It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. He looked at Hermione.
“Seneca. Roman philosopher.” Was all she said. Dumbledore smiled.
“Correct. Ten points to Gryffindor. I will go now. You know what is at stake. Do your best, that is all we can ask of you. Goodbye, and good luck.” Hermione stepped forward and kissed the old man on the cheek.
“Goodbye Professor, till we meet again.” Dumbledore disapparated and the four were alone in the strangest place they ever seen. They turned their attention to the two white clad figures coming back to stand in front of them.
“Welcome to the Library. Shortly we will be moving on to our time and home on a large island in the Aegean. Before we leave there is something Aspartea and I have to do. In order to make communication easier we wish to learn to speak as you do. We wish to learn all the little peculiarities and idiosyncrasies of speech in your era. To do this we will enter your minds. You will feel nothing so have no fear.”
Hermione cleared her throat. “Excuse me, but I don’t like the idea of a complete stranger roaming around in my head.” Aspartea smiled at Myrdeo.
“I told you she would object, you said it would be Ginevra.”
“I prefer to be called Ginny, if that’s alright with you. I'm not too happy about it either.”
“Whatever.” Myrdeo drawled. He continued, “As you may guess, Hermione, it’s already done. I’m sorry if you feel violated but you have my word that we only extracted the information we needed. Am I right Aspartea?”
“We can now communicate with you in terms that you will understand, even if we don’t. If we inadvertently curse or offend you will have to forgive us.
“Perhaps I should talk with you alone, Myrdeo. If Aspartea could talk with the girls we could give the two of you some guidance as to what is appropriate and what isn’t.” Said Harry. Myrdeo smiled indulgently,
“I think that’s a good idea Harry, we’ll do that tomorrow.”
“I agree,” said Hermione, “You’ll find that what is acceptable in some situations is not acceptable in different circumstances. Even we get it wrong sometimes.”
Myrdeo turned to Aspartea and sighed heavily, “Let’s go ‘Tea,” he pronounced it ‘Tee-ah’, “we have a lot of work ahead.” Together they waved their hands and the library was empty of people.