Chapter 6 : A day lost in the woods
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After Breakfast Ron found himself walking through the woods with his dad, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Harry, Hermione, and Ginny, neither girl wanted to remain behind with his mum, Fleur, and Audrey. His dad had given everyone a map, as well as some pictures of plants they were supposed to find. Hermione had the pictures and was muttering about how none of them were indigenous to Great Britain, so how on earth were we supposed to find them. Ron looked at the spot on the map marking their camp site and tried to figure out where they were. His dad was somewhere with Percy. Bill, Charlie, and George decided to go off on their own. Harry and Ginny had hiked with them for a while, but now they were somewhere ahead of them presumably climbing a tree, although he couldn’t figure out why.
Ron looked over at the still muttering Hermione and couldn’t help but laugh. She was looking for one of the plants, even though she knew they didn’t live here, and her hair had gotten tangled in a bush. She was stuck. A still laughing Ron freed Hermione from the shrubbery and then they headed towards where Ron knew there were several caves. He had never been in a cave before and was eager to look around.
Harry looked out over the treetops marveling at how beautiful the forest was. He looked at the red head on the branch next to him and wondered at how beautiful she looked as she took in the treetops. Mrs. Weasley had insisted on keeping Teddy at the campsite with her, so they were unencumbered by the toddler. Harry had to admit, as much as he loved having Teddy around the toddler would have soon gotten bored in the forest, and a bored Teddy was a dangerous thing.
They climbed back down from the tree and Harry looked at the map. Ginny had decided she wanted to just follow the lake around, that way they would go in a large circle and end up right back at the campsite again. They seemed to be going in the right direction. There were some caves up ahead that they wanted to stop in and check out. They hadn’t really bothered to look for the plants; Hermione had said they weren’t native so it seemed silly to look for them.
It was a short hike down to the cave, when they arrived Harry and Ginny saw a string tied to the entrance of the cave and saw a series of marks on the wall. Harry assumed they were there to help whoever left them avoid getting lost. Ginny looked into the mouth of the cave, “should we leave a mark as well?” Harry nodded and took out his wand. He carved an X into the rock and cautiously entered the cave. He and Ginny walked into the darkness, their wands lighting a path.
As they got deeper into the cave they heard the sounds of running water. They headed towards it and found themselves standing at the edge of a small creek. Harry and Ginny decided to stop and rest for a while. They found a rock that wasn’t covered by too much slime and sat down. Harry wrapped his arm around Ginny and she leaned into her shoulder. They sat staring at the stream getting lost in their own thoughts.
Harry felt Ginny shift next to him and looked down. She was white as a sheet, “Gin what’s wrong?” Ginny looked up at Harry and he saw the ghost of something clouding the brown eyes he loved so much. She took a deep breath, “It’s nothing really, I just couldn’t help but notice that this place looks like the Chamber did.” Harry’s eyes widened in realization, “I’m sorry Gin, I didn’t even think about that, let’s get you out of here.” Ginny shook her head, “No, I want to keep exploring the cave, and I’m fine really it just caught me by surprise.” Harry pulled her in closer to his side, “Do you want to talk about it?” Ginny smiled remembering asking him that same question this morning, “I guess we never really did talk about it, which is odd considering you’re really the only person who could understand what went on down there.”
Harry leaned down to kiss the top of Ginny’s head, “I don’t know about that Gin, you spent a year being controlled by him. That is a terrible thing to happen, I only showed up towards the end.” Ginny rested her head on Harry’s shoulder, “yes, but until the end I didn’t really know what was going on. The worst parts were those last few days, and then being in the chamber. I don’t really think about it anymore, but every once in a while something reminds me of it and I can’t help, but feel scared.” “You know that you can always talk to me about it Ginny, I’m here if you need to talk.” Ginny laughed and buried her face into Harry’s shoulder, “You always are love, I don’t know if I ever really thanked you for that night. And for afterwards as well, don’t think I didn’t appreciate you trying to explain everything is a way that made it seem like none of it was my fault.” “Gin none of it was your fault, and you didn’t need to thank me, I couldn’t let anything happen to Ron’s sister. You should have seen his face when we found out you’d been taken into the chamber. As much as he loves to fight with you he really loves you.”
Ginny got to her feet and held out a hand to Harry, “Okay Mr. Potter, things have gotten entirely too serious, I think we should keep exploring.” Harry grabbed Ginny’s hand and let her pull him further into the cave, “Okay Gin, let’s see where this cavern leads.”
Hermione and Ron were deep within the cave. Hermione had insisted that they attach a string to the entrance to the cave and leave a trail of marks as precautions. Ron shook his head, was there nothing Hermione hadn’t read about, she told him they were basic spelunking precautions. Now they were following a stream through a cave. They had left the cavern where the stream was largest and were following it deeper into the cave. The followed it until it opened into a cave with a lake in it.
Ron stopped at the edge of the water and looked over at Hermione who was standing at the entrance to the cavern with a look of complete awe on her face. Ron grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the water. Ron bent over to examine the lake, he wondered if it was safe to swim in. As though she was reading his thoughts Hermione spoke, “I don’t think you should swim in this Ron, there are too many things we don’t know, it’s not safe.” Hermione pulled Ron over to an outcropping on the wall that made a sort of bench; she pulled him down next to her and gave him a look. Ron grinned back and leaned down to kiss Hermione, she nodded her head yes, still smiling when his lips met hers.
Harry and Ginny followed the stream through the cave, they noticed the string was moving in the same direction they were, and wondered who it could belong to. They soon got their answer when they reached the cavern with the lake and found Ron and Hermione snogging. The two were completely oblivious. Ginny got an evil glint in her eye and raised her wand. A jet of water shot out onto the amorous couple. They sprung apart both sputtering and caught sight of Harry and Ginny.
After Ron and Hermione dried themselves with their wands, the two couple headed back through the cave following the string to the entrance. Upon their arrival they noticed the sun setting, it seems they had allowed the whole day to slip away. They apparated to just outside the camp barriers and walked in, they were met by a panicked Mrs. Weasley. “Oh Thank Goodness, where on Earth did you all go?” She stopped long enough to notice that only four of them were present, “Where are the others?” Ginny looked at her mom, “They aren’t back yet? We thought we’d be the last.” Before Mrs. Weasley could reply Bill and Charlie walked through the barriers supporting George between them. Bill set George down and spoke, “Sorry mum, dad convinced us to leave our wands here this morning. George slipped on the trail and twisted his ankle; it took us forever to get back here. Where are Dad and Percy?”
Mrs. Weasley was terrified, where could Arthur and Percy be, and if they didn’t have their wands. Molly noticed Harry and Hermione studying a map and hurried over to join them. “...if we each take a section would could check the area they could cover in a few hours.” Hermione seemed to be marking a map while Harry explained. Hermione finished marking, “okay does everyone want to take one section and search or do we want to work in pairs and take two sections? Mrs. Weasley and Audrey, you should stay here in case they come back, everyone should send up green sparks if you’ve found them and red if they're hurt and need help.” Molly spoke up, “I’d feel much better if you kids went in pairs, it’s getting dark and we don’t know what are in these woods.”
The pairs all set off for their sections of forest some of them would be apparating further out so more ground could be covered. Molly was terrified, why didn’t Arthur keep his wand on him, was this camping trip destined for disaster? Molly did the only thing she could to keep sane, she cooked. Her family would be coming home, all of them, and they would be hungry no one had eaten since breakfast.
Several hours later they came trooping in with Arthur and Percy, who were both unharmed, the two men had simply gotten lost and been unable to find their way back to the campsite. Molly feed her exhausted family and sent everyone off to bed. In no time at all the campsite was full of snores, there would be no nightmares tonight.
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