Chapter 6 : Midnight Rescue
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Relief flooded the boy’s face at the sight of who had been knocking. “It’s just Ron,” Fred called back into the room. He turned back to his younger brother. “Now go away," slamming the door in Ron’s face.
Ordinarily, Ron would have left, but this was important. So he took another deep breath, pulled on his courage and knocked again. This time the door was thrown open widely and immediately.
“I knew you wouldn’t go away,” Fred sighed.
Ron pushed his way passed him, into the room he hadn’t been allowed in since before the twins left for Hogwarts. “It’s important,” he pleaded quietly. “I need your help.”
“Lord knows that’s the truth,” George replied. “Sorry little brother, but I just don’t think there’s anything we can do about the size of those ears.”
“The nose on the other hand...” Fred added.
“It’s not about me,” Ron said loudly, ignoring their jabs, “it’s about Harry.”
Fred and George exchanged glances. Ron knew that would get their attention. Harry might be Ron’s friend, but he was on the Quidditch team with the twins, and Ron knew how seriously they took that.
“What about him?” George asked. “Did he write that something was wrong?”
Ron sank onto the nearest bed. He knew that this would be the difficult part. “Well, no, not exactly.”
“Not exactly?” Fred replied. “What's that supposed to mean?”
Ron took a deep breath, “Well, he didn’t write that something is wrong. In fact, he hasn’t written at all, so something must be wrong.”
“That is some brilliant logic, Ronniekins,” Fred replied, rolling his eyes. George shot him a look and his twin fell silent.
“Ron,” George began in a surprisingly gentle voice, “isn’t it possible that Harry just hasn’t had a chance to write yet?”
“No,” Ron was adamant, “he said that he would write, but he hasn’t, and he hasn’t returned any of Hermione’s post either, she told me. Plus, he hates it at his aunt and uncle’s house. I’m sure he’d want to come stay, and I’ve offered half a dozen times, but he hasn’t responded at all.”
“Look,” Fred interrupted, “I know you think you and Harry are best mates, but—“
Ron didn’t let him finish. “He would have written if he could, I know it.” He glared at the two identical faces in front of him, but they didn’t seem convinced. “I overheard Mum and Dad talking a couple nights ago. They’re worried, too. Harry got sent a warning for using underage magic outside of school. It might not seem like much to you, but I know that there’s something wrong, and I have to do something about it.” He took a deep breath and looked each of his brothers in the eye in turn. “I need your help.”
The twins glanced at one another. “What exactly are you planning?” George finally asked.
A smile spread across the younger boy’s face. “How do you feel about flying?”
Ron couldn’t stop grinning. So far, everything was going exactly as planned. Though they tried not to let it show, Fred and George had obviously been impressed by his rescue plan. They had stared at him incredulously as he explained the basics, but when he finished, Fred begrudgingly admitted that it just might work, and George had a hard time hiding his enthusiasm at the prospect of taking their dad’s flying car halfway across England.
“You’re sure this address is right?” George asked, turning to Ron from his position in the passenger seat.
Ron nodded in response. Harry had given him the address himself, when they were packing to go home at the end of last term. Ron had tossed the bit of parchment into his trunk, and reminded his friend that his family had an owl and owls didn’t need regular addresses to find people. Harry had blushed and admitted that he had forgotten. It sometimes still amazed Ron how little Harry knew about the wizarding world, especially when he was so famous in it.
Still, it turned out that the address came in handy. In addition to its flying capabilities, their father had installed a bit of a magical navigation system. Nothing too extravagant, but if you gave an address to the compass on the dashboard, it would point your way, making it nearly impossible to get lost, even in the dark.
“I think we’re nearly there,” Fred added. “That should be Little Whingling beneath us. We’ll have to fly lower to find Privet Drive.”
The street was surprisingly easy to find. After another few minutes of flight, the compass turned 180 degrees, alerting them to the fact that they had just passed over the Dursley residencee. As Fred spu the wheel to turn them around, Ron began to feel his first stabs of apprehension. What if they showed up and Harry was fine? What if Fred and George were right, that Harry was just too busy to send post? Or worst of all, what if Harry just didn’t care enough to write back to Ron?
But it was too late for second thoughts. They were here.
“I think this is it,” Fred whispered, circling a house with a perfectly manicured lawn. “Which room do you think is--oh...”
They had spotted it at the same time. One of the windows of the seemingly ordinary house had been fitted with bars.
Fred cursed under his breath, but George was the one who spoke. “We’ll have to get closer, make sure that really is his room before we do anything else.”
Ron nodded in shocked disbelief. Harry had told him bits and pieces of his life growing up. He knew that Harry was not very fond of his aunt, uncle, and cousin, but he seemed to paint them as disinterested, clueless, muggles who hated everything out of the ordinary, especially magic. Ron knew that they had never been kind to Harry, but he never imagined that they had been cruel.
Fred pulled the car up next to the house so Ron could see through the bars into the room beyond. It took a few moments for him to be able to make out anything in the dark room. At first he could just see outlines of seemingly ordinary things: a dresser, a bookshelf. His stomach dropped as one more object came into focus; it was a large birdcage, with what appeared to be a white owl nestled inside.
“It’s his,” Ron whispered to his brothers. “I can see Hedwig,” he reached out and rapped lightly on the window, but nothing happened. After a second attempt, he saw Hedwig stirring, but nothing else.
After rapping for a third time, a face finally appeared on the other side of the glass. It was Harry. Seeing his friend’s face pushed all other thoughts out of his head and he couldn’t help asking why Harry hadn’t answered his letters, as if that were the most pressing matter at hand.
Ron felt stupid for even bringing it up, though admittedly, he did feel a surge of relief at hearing that Harry hadn’t received his letters at all. He hadn’t forgotten Ron, and he would have written if he could. Feeling significantly better, and after reassuring Harry that they were there to rescue him, Ron was happy to let his older brothers take the lead. They had far more experience in the area of breaking and entering after all.
Once he had gotten over his initial shock at the flying car, Harry had seemed overjoyed to see them. Now, however, as he passed things through the window to Ron, he seemed more apprehensive. He kept pausing to listen for noises, and cast several worried glances toward the door which the twins had gone through to retrieve his trunk.
“I should probably go check on Fred and George. If my relatives wake up...” he didn’t finish the statement.
As Ron waited for Harry and his brothers to come back, he felt some of Harry’s anxiety settle into his stomach. He tried to imagine what it must have been like for Harry to have grown up in a place like this, where the people who were supposed to take care of you put bars on your windows and forbid you to even say the word magic. Sure, his mum yelled quite a lot, and could be quite scary in her own right, and his dad was a bit dotty and absent-minded, but they had never been cruel, and Ron always knew that they loved him. He doubted Harry could say the same.
He wondered for a moment if Harry’s aunt and uncle had any idea who Harry was. If they had the slightest inkling that their nephew had twice now defeated the darkest of dark wizards. And he wondered if explaining things would make matters better or worse for his friend.
After what seemed like ages, the three boys returned, and together, got the trunk and Harry’s belongings situated in the car. Ron was finally beginning to relax, when a loud squawk from inside Harry’s room alerted them that they had inadvertently left Hedwig behind.
Ron caught one fleeting glimpse of his friend’s horrified face, before he leapt back through the window and into his room. At the same time, Ron heard a bellow from inside the house that could only have come from his friend’s dreaded uncle.
Harry thrust the cage at Ron and began to climb through the window himself as the door burst open, and a massive shape filled the doorway. Ron felt himself fill with terror and dread as the man bellowed again, and then crossed the room faster than a man of his size should have been able to move. Ron seized Harry’s arm, as his uncle grabbed his ankle. For one moment, Ron caught a glimpse of pure, unbridled hatred on the large man’s face. Then, Fred and George both grabbed hold of Harry, and together, the three of them managed to tug him out of his uncle’s grasp.
“Put your foot down, Fred!” Ron yelled as Harry’s aunt and cousin joined his uncle at the window. Ron chanced a look over at Harry, sure he would see some of the fear that he himself was feeling on his friend’s face, but to his surprise, Harry was grinning widely.
“See you next summer!” Harry called out, waving out the window at the family he had left behind. All four of boys burst into laughter, and it was several minutes before they could stop. Ron didn’t understand it. How could Harry be so nonchalant about the whole thing? How could he be laughing about a family that had kept his things locked away from him, had kept him locked away?
It made sense now why Harry had seemed so happy to be going to Hogwarts when they first met, why he hadn’t seemed to mind in the slightest that he wasn’t going home for the holidays. Anything, even facing you-know-who for the second time was probably better than living in a place like Privet Drive forever.
Ron tried to shake off those thoughts. All that was behind them now. Harry was going to spend the rest of the summer at the Burrow, and then he’d be at Hogwarts again where he was a hero and a Quidditch star. And he, Ron Weasley, had made it possible.
He glanced again across the seat to where Harry sat, leaning forward and laughing at something one of the twins had said.
Ron smiled to himself. It felt good to be the hero for once.
Based on events from chapter three: The Burrow from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling.
“Put your foot down, Fred!” and “See you next summer!” are both quotes from page 18 of the Chamber of Secrets, American ebook version.
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