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Chapter 4 : The Burrow
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4. The Burrow
Kreacher was still apologizing for his actions in Knockturn Alley the next morning during breakfast. Harry reminded him patiently that no harm had been done. He didn't tell Kreacher, but he was ready to drop the whole thing. He also felt a little silly and angry at himself for being so careless. Had it not been for Dedalus dropping in when he did, he might have been in real trouble when the wizard hiding in the corner caught him off guard. Maybe after taking down Voldemort he had become a little too sure of himself.
Nevertheless, Kreacher was going out of his way to prepare a special breakfast this morning. A large pot of black coffee, orange juice, piles of buttered crumpets, were sitting on the table. Kreacher was teetering on a footstool to reach the stove-top. The stool wobbled as he tended to sausages sizzling in the skillet while breaking eggs into a bowl. Harry was sipping coffee from a large mug while scanning through the Daily Prophet. Not much in the way of news this morning, but there was mention of Hermione finding her family on a column, well back from the front page.
Granger Family Reunited
Hermione Granger, a Hogwarts student, has located her family this week in Perth, Australia. Ms. Granger had the unfortunate duty of modifying the memories of her Muggle parents before participating in a search with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley for items needed to insure the destruction of the dark Wizard Voldemort and his followers. It is the sincere hope of the wizarding community that all is well with the Granger family.
Harry thought on this as he was gnawing on a buttered crumpet. Hopefully it wouldn't take Hermione too long to reassemble all the previous memories that were lost. He knew Ron was desperate to see her. He was also looking forward to seeing Ron and Ginny as they had much to catch up on. Pouring another cup of coffee, he thought about Ginny. How would he be able to sooth things over? She had been really cool toward him and hadn't sent an Owl since the battle had ended. It was still difficult to talk to Ron about these things.
Kreacher had placed Ms. Black's vase on the china dresser sitting behind the table. They had been very tired last night and left the rug and vase at the end of the long table after eating a very short meal. Harry was thinking about the three men and the business in Knockturn Alley while he wolfed down mouthfuls of eggs and sausage. It would be best to leave the rug in the kitchen until he talked to Arthur about this whole affair. The rug could have been nicked from someone's house just like the vase.
Finishing up the coffee and toast, he noticed a loud hooting by the kitchen window. Looking up. he saw Pigwidgeon sitting on the sill. Harry opened the window to let the little Owl deliver his message. It was a note scrawled by Ron.
Dad said he ran into you at the Ministry the other day.
We're looking forward to having you over for dinner Friday night.
Get here around three if you can. Lot's to talk about before dinner.
Hope all is going well! Later.
P.S. Let us know if you can make it. RSVP on this note.
Finally, the Weasley's Owl! Harry scratched a line at the end of the note telling Ron, that Friday was good and to expect him around three. Pigwidgeon was taking an interest in the leftover breakfast. Harry made the Owl a plate of the leftover eggs and sausage while Pigwidgeon gave a little hoot of approval. After Pigwidgeon finished his breakfast, he gently handed the Owl the note. With a little snap Pigwidgeon grabbed the note with his beak and turned toward the window. Following to the window, he watched Pigwidgeon soar over the rooftops and make a graceful turn toward the burrow. Looking down, he couldn't help but notice the packing box for the vase sitting in the dust bin to be taken out. Long strips of paper were streaming over the sides. The packing material was definitely more odd looking in the morning light. Curious for another look, he went out to get the box and brought it back into the kitchen. The box was full of the long strips of paper. The ends were cut at an angle, and little alignment marks or something like that were etched on the ends. Harry untangled one of the strips and stretched it fully out. It was over four meters in length.
"Uhmm... Kreacher, why don't we keep the box a while."
"Of course... If you say so Sir," Kreacher said with a puzzled expression.
Harry considered there might be something magical going on with the ribbons. Pulling out his wand he pointed it at the ribbon while dangling it at arms length.
"Aparecium!" Conjuringthe spell to reveal invisible ink, he dangled the ribbon with no effect of any kind. Well, enough for that idea he thought. Still not ready to throw it away he wadded the long ribbon and put it and the box under the large china dresser. Settling back in his chair to finish off the orange juice, a thought popped in his head about what he could do over the next couple of days. There was wallpaper in the drawing room that needed pulling but that could wait. A nastier job would be cleaning up a few of the rooms on the upper landing. It was almost a certainty that a wardrobe up there was the new hiding place of the Boggart the Weasleys had run out of the drawing room two years earlier.
But no matter how hard he tried to stay busy, it felt like Friday would never arrive. He was never able to chase down the Boggart and elected to pull wallpaper instead. Harry was bored – as bored as he had ever been – even more than when staying at the Dursleys, and that was saying a lot. Itching to get out of the house, he couldn't help from the counting down the time to three o'clock Friday. When the time finally came around he had cleaned up twice and changed clothes three times before walking out to the yard behind Grimmauld Place. It was easy today to concentrate on his destination. He could see in his minds eye the walkway between Arthur's work shed and the Weasley house. In a moment it would take to snap your fingers, he was hurdling through space toward the Burrow. In a flash of tangled light, he was on the ground at the Burrow – only you could hardly recognize the place. Flowers were growing all round the house in the arrangement that Molly and Ginny had been working on. There was a small table and sitting area on the side of the house facing the Orchard. The vegetable garden was fully enclosed in a high metal fence that must have designed to keep out the garden Gnomes.
As he got closer to the front door, Molly could be heard above all others. She was yelling to Ron about something he forgot to do. Just as he was about to make his way to the front door, Molly's head shot up.
"OH Harry... Come in dear."
Harry could never refrain from a huge smile when greeted by Ms. Weasley. As usual she ran up and gave him a big hug.
"It's so good to see you my dear. Seems forever."
"Yes, it's been a while."
It was the funniest thing with the Weasleys – they appeared to know things were okay with Harry, before he had a chance to tell them.
Harry could hear large footsteps coming down the stairs – must be Ron he thought. His suspicions were correct as Ron poked his head around the corner.
"How have things been Harry?" Mrs. Weasley finally asked.
"Just fine... a bit boring actually."
"Well, then you need to stay here and help us with a little gardening mate," Ron added with a grin.
"Ron, you'll take care of Harry dear, while I tend to dinner?"
"Sure Mum... Harry – care for a butterbeer?"
"Now you're talking!" Harry added enthusiastically.
Harry glanced up for any sign of Ginny, but didn't see her. Ron looked back and smiled curtly, "Ginny is getting dressed I suppose... She'll be down in a bit."
Ron led Harry outside to the sitting area facing the orchard. They had a small key of butterbeer tapped and mugs were stacked on the table. Ron poured a mug and handed it to Harry.
"So what's been going on Harry - Much?" Ron said while pouring himself a butterbeer.
"Saw your Dad at the Ministry the other day. Went there to sign up for McGonagall's project to rebuild the school. To make a long story short – ran into Shacklebolt."
"Shacklebolt, no less!" exclaimed Ron.
"Get this – he wants all of us to consider an Auror job. You, me and Hermione," Harry stated.
Ron paused and looked back at Harry with a troubled look.
"Got some news from Hermione. Some long-distance post arrived from the Australian Ministry to ours, the other day. Doesn't sound good mate," Ron said shaking his head.
"Why... what's up?" Harry implored.
"Well, she's found her folks okay, and they're beginning to remember Hermione and all... Trouble is, they're staying in a beautiful place in Perth and don't want to leave," Ron said while finally looking up.
"Uhmm... Yeah, I see what you mean," Harry said reflecting.
Harry paused for a second or two. "Well, you'll just have to go to Australia mate! Throw a few shrimp on the BarBee," he said grinning.
"How long would it take to get there by broom?" Ron asked after taking a hard swig of the butterbeer.
"About three weeks!" Harry said with a laugh.
Wiping foam from his lips Ron paused for a second.
"Hang on! What about the N.E.W.T.s... We never finished school... How can we become Aurors if we didn't pass our N.E.W.T.s?"
"Well, that's whats a little odd about it. He said we can work around it," Harry replied with a puzzled look. There was several moments of silence as each enjoyed the butterbeer.
"I don't know about you, but I'd sure love a game of Quidditch right now," said Ron.
"Know what you mean Ron," said Harry before taking another long belt.
"Ron, Mum needs some help with the stove – door latch is stuck again."
Harry jumped up and quickly panned around to see Ginny standing behind the table.
"That piece of junk – we need to find her a new one," Ron said while getting up to leave.
Ginny walked around the table and Harry could see she was looking better than ever. She'd gotten sun tanned and added a few more freckles while helping her Mum with the garden. She was wearing sandals, a knee length skirt with a belt, and a rather snug fitting jersey cotton top.
"Ginny, fancy a butterbeer?" Harry asked.
"Sure. How have you been getting along Harry?" she asked with a smile.
"Well, okay I guess," said Harry as he poured her a butterbeer, "...bored," he added moments later.
"Oh... I see," she said softly as she took the mug of butterbeer.
She took a chair beside Harry and turned it backwards while sitting with her back to the table and gazing out at the orchard beyond the garden. An earlier breeze was beginning to fade away as the sun was getting low. Ginny stretched out straight in a reclining position with her bum on the edge of the chair so the last sunlight coming around the corner was hitting her legs. She took a long pull of the butterbeer and then cradled the mug in her lap.
"What do you think of our little home improvement project Harry?" Ginny asked.
"It's really nice... I like it."
"Well it keeps Mum's mind off things," she added.
"She seems fine," Harry said.
"She has her good days and bad. We try to keep her busy."
"What about George?" Harry hated to ask.
"Well, now that's a different story. He just doesn't act right."
"Give him a while... I'm sure he'll improve," Harry said with as much sincerity as he could muster.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Ginny looked toward him and glanced a little smile.
Ron could be heard still banging away inside on the stove latch.
"Ginny... uh... I'd been meaning..." Harry struggled for words as he rambled in an apologetic tone.
She smiled, but interrupted and said, "I want to show you something."
She got up and walked around the house to the edge of the vegetable garden and glanced back as Harry followed curiously. As they moved out of the shade he could see now that her hair had been lightened by the sun from all the gardening work. They stopped at the edge of the fence.
"See..." Ginny pointed to the far corner of the fence.
The garden Gnomes were trying to tunnel under the fence but couldn't do it because the fence stakes were driven into the ground. One Gnome was angrily biting at the fence. They both had a good laugh. Ginny turned her attention away from the garden Gnomes and looked straight at Harry. As if to pick up where they left off at the table, she stepped forward a and gave him a peck on the cheek. She smiled and started back toward the table.
"Ginny..." Harry said as he reached for her hand. She paused and looked back. Harry grabbed her gently by the waist and pulled her toward him to kiss her fully. She smelled like perfumed soap on freshly scrubbed skin. His hands began to slide over the cotton and up along her back and he canted his head to the other side and kissed her again. He could feel her tongue easing through his lips. She was an athletic girl and generally pretty firm, but it was amazing how girls had that soft layer under the skin, and it felt wonderful under the smooth jersey cotton.
"That's what I was trying to say," Harry said softly.
"You said it well," she added with a wry grin.
"Where you guys at?" Ron yelled just before walking around the corner.
"Just showing Harry the garden Gnomes," Ginny answered as she blushed slightly.
"Did you fix the stove?" Ginny asked.
They all three turned and headed back toward the table. Harry followed behind Ginny and felt a little light headed. He wasn't sure if it was the butterbeer or Ginny's kiss, but it didn't matter, he felt great and the loneliness and boredom of the last month seemed far behind him.
They returned to the picnic table and regaled one another with stories of the last few weeks Holiday. Harry told them the whole story of Kreacher getting abducted in Knockturn Alley and his tangling with the three unknown wizards. Ron agreed that they should let his Dad in on the incident when he returned home from work. Ron said that the family thought it would be a good idea for him to work with George in the shop until he could get things going again. The problem was George was too proud to accept Ron's help, but he had shown little interest in going back to work on his own. They thought the best tactic was to convince George he was helping Ron. Ginny was eager to get back to school and Quidditch but was not really convinced Hogwarts could be made ready in time for the next school year. Harry mentioned the volunteer work he was planning to do at Hogwarts over the summer and how he would brush up on some of his weaker subjects in his spare time. With this effort, he explained, this should be more than enough to get him out of the N.E.W.T. exams.
"GINNY..." Ms. Weasley called from the kitchen.
"Mum must have dinner almost ready," Ginny said as she eased away from the table to help.
The cool night air was beginning to set in, and crickets could be heard clicking their wings. Harry and Ron had almost run out things to say and thought it best to see if there was anything they could do in the kitchen. They had barely rounded the corner when they both heard a little zap and looked up to see Arthur Weasley take corporeal form in front of their eyes. Arthur paused in the doorway to the kitchen.
"Good evening Weasleys!" he said.
"Good evening," the Weasleys answered rhythmically.
Arthur turned to see Harry at the door.
"Harry, so good to see you."
"Good evening sir," said Harry smiling.
"AH... smells like dinner is almost ready," Arthur added.
"Everyone get ready for dinner!" announced Ms. Weasley.
Ron and Harry were greeted by an amalgamation of food smells as they rushed upstairs to clean up for dinner. Molly and Ginny had set the table when Ron and Harry came downstairs.
"Harry, you sit over here with Ron please," said Ms. Weasley.
Harry and Ron were always seated out of the way of Molly and Ginny – should they need to get to the stove. George was entering the room and took a seat at the far end. He looked pale and a little tired, but otherwise appeared just fine.
"Hello Harry," said George.
"How are things George?" asked Harry.
"Just fine Harry," George answered as Ginny rolled her eyes.
"Working on some new products for this fall – should sell real well. A few I can't mention at the table, but I'm working on cordless extendable ears. Should be a big seller!"
"That sounds great George!" Harry said with as much encouragement as possible.
Arthur took a seat at the head of the table as Ginny started to place bowls out. It looked like Molly would be serving a soup to get things stated. They all sat down and enjoyed the onion soup and began to chitchat about their day.
"Looks like they may be finishing the centerpiece in the Atrium," said Arthur.
"Well, I certainly hope so. That other thing was just hideous," Molly added.
"Oh Harry... looks like McGonagall may be getting started a little early. Don't be surprised to see an Owl on this before long," Arthur added.
"That's good news," Harry said after a large spoonful of soup.
They all continued to chat until the soup was finished. Molly brought out roast beef with gravy and a platter of large boiled potatoes with butter. Ginny brought out a plate of rolls that turned out to be so light they almost floated off the plate. The food was delicious and the conversation slowed as everyone took time to enjoy the meal.
Harry tried not to look too often at Ginny, but couldn't help himself. She was sitting next to her mother and Harry wondered if Molly noticed his furtive glances. Sadly the chair where Fred normally sat was still sitting empty at the end of the table. Gradually everyone finished the rolls and potatoes and eaten their fill of the roast beef. For dessert Molly brought out Harry's favorite – a large treacle tart that was simply delicious. Everyone had a satisfied look on their face as the last of the treacle tart was being finished.
"Ms. Weasley, that's the best meal I've had in ages," said Harry breaking the silence.
"Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it dear," she said as she and Ginny started to put the table things away.
"It was all great Mum," said Ron.
"Oi, we should do this more often," George added.
This remark drew a few looks from the family as if said out of character. Arthur got up and went over to give Molly a hug and said something indistinguishable. Molly smiled and Arthur continued to his easy chair in the sitting room.
Ron glanced back at Harry and made a little motion for him to follow.
"Dad, if you've got a minute, there's a story I think Harry needs to tell you," Ron said.
"What's on your mind Harry?" said Arthur smiling.
Harry and Ron took a seat opposite Arthur's easy chair and Harry began the story of Knockturn Alley. Once again Harry went through the whole story of looking for Kreacher in Knockturn Alley and finishing with Dedalus and his agreement with the men to keep the vase and rug.
Arthur leaned back and paused before speaking.
"We, we don't want to jump to conclusions, especially after Rita Skeeters article," Arthur said with grimacing look, "but things being what they are, you should have come to the Ministry immediately with this story."
"So, you think they may be tied in with this racketeering business?" Harry asked, wide eyed.
"Well, I don't know - but Kingsley has certainly been concerned with this lately," Arthur explained.
"I'll try to get both items to the Ministry tomorrow."
"You're sure the vase belonged to Ms. Black, but you don't know anything about the rug? Nothing to identify the owner? Family name... identifying marks of any kind?"
"Haven't unbound it yet," added Harry.
"Well, take a look at it, but if nothing stands out that might identify the owner - don't know if I would bother just yet. You do need to come in and make a statement though. Now about the shop. I'll report the activity and we'll have it watched. The Ministry is grossly understaffed and terribly busy these days," Arthur said shaking his head.
Harry and Ron nodded understandably.
"Oh, and Harry, you really need to be more careful in Knockturn Alley," Arthur said smiling.
"Wizards that fancy the dark arts – they know you, and may not like you after this Voldemort business."
"Yes sir... and thanks."
"Thanks dad.", said Ron.
"Well, I think we'll take a look at what George has for next year!" said Ron.
"Yes, that sounds good Ron," Arthur said as he reached for a copy of the Daily Prophet.
Ron got up and nodded back at Harry to follow. The two went up to George's room to take a look at the plans for the cordless extendable ear. George also had drawn up a new Skiving Snackbox with different flavors for the Puking Pastilles and Nosebleed Nougats. With all the talk about getting the school going again, George's spirits appeared to lift a bit. This was a good sign and Harry was more determined than ever to get the school going for the start of term. After looking through a few more of George's new gimmicks for the next year the two headed up to Ron's room.
Ron began to describe the long-distance Owl Hermione used to send him a message a few weeks earlier.
"I'll tell you – that was the biggest owl I've ever seen in my life," he said stretching his arms out at full length,
"We tried to feed him, but he turned around in a flash and swooped down to grab one of the garden gnomes instead."
Ron laughed then picked up the letter Hermione had sent. His face turned somber.
"Mum doesn't think Hermione will be able to reverse all the spells," he said finally.
"It may take a while and it won't happen overnight – but I'm sure she'll manage Ron," said Harry.
"I hope so.."
"Well Ron... better be getting ready to go," Harry said.
This drew a slight look of surprise from Ron. It was still early, but Harry was hoping to catch Ginny cleaning up downstairs before he left.
"You don't have to shove off so fast mate," said Ron.
"Big day tomorrow you know," Harry said as he patted Ron's shoulder.
"But hey, let's don't wait so long next time. Let's try and make it to the Leaky Cauldron this time next week!" Harry said as he hurried down the stairs.
He was lucky, as he peeked around the huge fireplace he could see Ginny was still cleaning some things in the kitchen.
"Hoped I would catch you before I left."
"Leaving so soon," said Ginny as she dried her hands quickly and took off an apron.
"I had a good time..."
"Yeah, I could tell," she said smiling.
Harry flushed slightly red.
"I've been cooped up at Grimmauld Place too long," Harry said grinning then pointed to the door.
"Can you go out?"
She nodded as they walked to the door. Harry opened the door for Ginny, and walking out they could see Arthur was tinkering in the shed.
"I hadn't heard from you for a while..." he said shrugging his shoulders.
Ginny stepped a little closer and pointed little circles around his shirt button.
"You need to get an Owl Harry. I know you feel bad about Hedwig still, but I think the guy posts the girl first?" she said with an animated voice.
"Yeah I guess so," Harry said as his head dropped a bit.
"I'll think about a new Owl – I know occasionally a post Owl stops at the Leaky Cauldron – When I get back to the school, they'll have Owls," he added.
Ginny leaned forward and started to kiss him.
"Your Dad," Harry said as he shifted his eyes and canted his head toward the shed.
"It's okay Harry."
She gave him a soft and wet kiss that lingered a moment before pulling back. The cool evening air was fragrant from all the flowers in the garden. Harry took a slow and deep breath.
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