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Chapter 77 : Year 8: The First Magic
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Two and a half years later, Andromeda Tonks had thought the exact same thing as she watched her grandson knock a large plantpot off of the coffee table in the middle of running past it. But instead of falling and covering the white rug in soil and broken pieces of ceramic, the pot made a strange sort of twirl midair and landed perfectly back on its spot on the table. Andromeda didn’t know if it was the fact that Teddy had knocked something over, or the triumphant look on his eyes when he had stopped an accident from happen, but she thought he looked exactly like his mother then.
Victoire was very young the first time it happened for her. She had just turned one, and Fleur had just taken a miniature dragon from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes from her because she was being naughty—and just then, the dragon had spit out a tiny little flame that burned Fleur’s fingertips and made her drop it to the floor, where a grinning Victoire had picked it up again before her mother had even processed what had happened. Dominique’s first time was eerily similar; but it had been Victoire, not Fleur, who had taken her brand new teddy bear from her, and its soft fur had momentarily turned into spikes that made Victoire shriek and drop it. Bill had been concerned that both of their daughter’s first accidental magic had been rather violent, but Fleur had brushed it off, saying it was just their “French blood.”
No one was surprised when Freddie showed his first sign of magic by pranking his mother; it was around the same time that he entered a phase of refusing to wear pants. Angelina was just about to dress him one morning after breakfast when the soft pants she had picked out lifted off of the dresser in the nursery and began skipping around the room, as if an invisible person had put them on and was now moving around. Angelina couldn’t help but giggle as she chased after them, and she sighed as they climbed up the wall and began performing an upside down dance on the ceiling while Freddie chuckled contently as he sat down on the floor, wearing nothing but his nappy.
As for Freddie’s cousin James, the incident in question was going to take place just a week after his second birthday. It had been an eventful morning at the Potters’—that was, until Ginny picked up the sports section of the Daily Prophet some time after breakfast and began reading the latest feature on her old team, the Holyhead Harpies.
“Merlin, could this reporter be more of a misogynist pig?” she groaned only a few paragraphs in. “He’s only interviewing one of the best Quiddtich players of our time, and all he’s talking about is how Gwenog had to choose between family life and Quidditch… if she had been a man, I bet you they would have been talking about the actual sport!”
She shot Harry a look over the edge of the newspaper, as if waiting for him to agree, and he nodded hurriedly. “You’re right, Gin. It’s what they always did with you too, isn’t it? They wanted to talk about us and our marriage and having children instead of the fact that you were winning the league or playing with the national team.”
Ginny nodded, her eyebrows furrowed as she continued to read. It didn’t take long before she was snorting in annoyance again. “I can’t believe he actually wrote this! Listen here, Harry… ‘If the first half of the season is anything to go by, watching the Holyhead Harpies play this spring will be a joy, not just for all the men on the bleachers.’ He’s disgusting! We should stop bying this lousy paper, don’t you reckon?”
Across the table, Harry raised an eyebrow. “I mean, if we didn’t stop reading it during the war…”
Ginny, whose face had now gone bright red, looked like smoke was going to start coming out of her ears any second as she closed the paper and pushed it further away from her on the table, like James did when they served him food he didn’t like.
“I’m just so sick of the way everyone is degrading female athletes,” she said. “And I’m—“ she stopped mid-sentence and listened. “Albus is awake,” she said, quickly standing up. “That was a short nap.”
“Maybe James woke him up,” Harry replied, standing up too and following his wife out in the living room, where Albus had been napping in the little Moses basket they had saved since James was a baby.
And Ginny’s heart leapt into her throat as she entered the living room, because James had left his pile of little building blocks by the fireplace to go help Albus; he was pushing the Moses basket in an attempt to rock it, like he had seen his parents do when they were trying to soothe his little brother. But just as Harry and Ginny walked in, the basket tipped over, and Ginny took a leap forwards and braced herself for the cry—
–but the hard wooden floor had turned into a soft mattress, and Ginny stumbled and fell but it was like falling onto the most comfortable bed, and when she reached out her arms to turn the basket over, Albus was lying on his stomach, babbling happily as James sat himself down beside him and started patting his back.
Ginny turned around to look at Harry, who was just crawling over to join the rest of them in the middle of what had used to be their floor. “Was that you?” she said.
“No. I thought it was… Gin, it must have been James!”
And Ginny thought she was going to burst with pride as Harry lay down next to James and pulled him into his arms. James chuckled as his father placed kiss after kiss on his face, and was soon roaring with laughter as Ginny joined in to tickle him. “Mama, stop!” he sniggered. “Dada, help me!”
When they finally did stop, Harry and Ginny were lying on their backs, and James was sitting atop Harry’s chest, his cheeks flushed and his hair slightly messier than usual as he looked down on his parents.
“You just did magic,” Ginny said. “You are the best big brother in the world, do you know that, Jimmy-Jam? You were helping Albus, weren’t you?”
James nodded, suddenly looking as though he felt very important, and then he said, “Me a good boy, Mama.”
“A very good boy,” Ginny agreed. She pushed herself up on her elbows and then sat up, picking up Albus who was still lying on his stomach next to her. “You are so lucky,” she told him, “to have James. He’s always going to look after you, aren’t you, James?”
“Yeah!” James grinned, bouncing up and down and making Harry grimace under him. Ginny laughed.
“Stay like that, James,” she grinned, her eyes twinkling as she got up on her feet and scurried over to the bookshelf to get the camera. “Say cheese, Harry!”
“Another new photo?”
It was almost a week later, and Harry was leaned against the doorframe to Ron’s office at the Ministry, an amused smile playing on his lips as his gaze swept across the room. Up until a month ago, it had been quite clean and tidy, but Ron had since squeezed in pictureframes on every single surface; there was little room on his desk for him to actually work on, and not one more book would be able to fit in his bookshelf. Every photo on display had the same motive: baby Rose.
This newest photo had been taken just days before. Ron had returned form work that afternoon to find the house a mess and Hermione in a real state. The moment he stepped in through the front door, he had suspected that something was up; dirty dishes on the counter, leftovers from lunch still in the frying pan on the stovetop, and a glass lyig upside down on the floor was not a common sight for someone who had spent the last six years living with Hermione Granger.
Ron had found his wife in the bedroom, where she had been sitting on the edge of the double bed, tears streaming down her face. She had been rocking the cradle, which was standing by the foot of the bed, and didn’t look up when Ron entered the room. Perhaps she didn’t hear him—Rose, who was lying on her back in the cradle, was screaming her lungs out and making it very difficult to make out any other sound.
“Hey,” said Ron softly, walking around the cradle to sit down next to Hermione. “What’s going on?”
She lifted her face to look at him, and he noticed that her eyes were red and swollen, as though she had been crying for a long time. She opened her mouth, as if to speak, but only began sobbing more violently, and Ron hurriedly placed his arms around her.
“You’re scaring me,” he said, rubbing Hermione’s back as she tried to dry her cheeks with the sleeves of her sweater.
“I’m—I am the worst mother in the world,” she managed to get out, and Ron looked a little relieved.
“You know that’s not true.”
“Really? Then why can’t I get her to stop crying? I’ve read every parenting books I could get my hands on, and I still can’t work out how to soothe my own child!”
Ron, who was now smiling, relased his grip around Hermione, scooted forwards on the bed and picked Rose up into his arms. After a few minutes of hushing, she had started to calm down—which was only making Hermione more upset.
“Look at that!” she exclaimed, almost accusingly. “I’ve been trying to calm her down for hours, and you just walk in and grab her and she stops right away!”
“Hermione,” Ron said. “Just because you’re used to finding all the answers in your books, it doesn’t mean you’re not a great mother. It takes practice.”
“Which you’ve apparently had lots of,” replied Hermione sourly.
“This?” Ron said, looking down at Rose, who was now beginning to fall asleep in his arms. “This is dumb luck. She wouldn’t stop crying for me either the other night, remember?”
Hermione nodded, and after drying her cheeks one last time she moved a little closer to Ron, so that she could lean her chin on his shoulder and look down on Rose.
“Hey, Rosie,” she whispered. “I’m sorry I’m such an emotional wreck today.”
“Yeah,” said Ron, “it’s not like you had any life-changing experiences lately that would validate everything you’re feeling right now, like—becoming a mother?”
Hermione smiled, leaning her head against his. “Thank you.”
Ron grinned. “Any time. Look, she’s asleep,” he said quietly. “Can you believe we created something this cute? It’s not fair to all the other babies in the world.”
“You’re going to ask me to get the camera now, aren’t you?”
Having run out of flat surfaces in his office, Ron had hung his newest picture of Rose on the wall, and Harry, who had just noticed it a few days later, was smiling as he stepped closer to examine it. “Another one, huh?”
“She keeps on growing,” said Ron defensively. “I want to remember what she looked like every single week.”
Harry held up his hands in defense. “Hey, I understand. But you should talk to Gawain about getting a bigger office if you’re going to keep this up.” He leaned a little closer to the photo on the wall just as his niece in the photo turned her face towards the camera. “She looks like you, Ron. She’s beautiful.”
Over at the desk, Ron straightened up. “Thanks mate. I always suspected that you think I’m beautiful.”
Having scurried all the way to work on that same, very cold morning in the beginning of March, Percy Weasley was just pausing for breath outside his new office on the other side of the Auror department. A rectangular brass plate with his name and title engraved on it was hanging next to the door, which looked heavy but he knew needed only a surprisingly light push to open. The office itself wasn’t big, but the desk was; very old and big, and made of massive chestnut. There were portraits of the previous Heads on every wall. As was usually the case in the morning, he was met by the sound of their snoring when he finally did step inside.
Stopping again just inside the door, he caught a glimpse of his own reflection in the glass doors to the cupboard that stood across from the desk. His new, smart dressrobes, which he had ironed again that morning before breakfast. Perfect hair, shiny glasses and his polished gold watch. He looked like what he had always longed to feel—important. There was no denying that small rush inside of him every time he saw his name on that brass plate by the door, or sat down at the old desk, or pulled on the new robes he had bought the same afternoon he had been promoted.
There had been a time when that rush inside had been everything to him. When it had outweighed every other feeling, even the one in his gut telling him that something was off. He had figured out a way to ignore it then. But that was years ago, and everything had changed; and it was him who had changed the most.
He had seen the look on Harry’s face when he had walked into the Auror Office and announced his promotion. That same look had been on Ginny’s face when she had shown up at his doorstep the day after to yell at him, and maybe worst of all, Percy had seen it in his father’s eyes when they had bumped into each other in the atrium of the Ministry another few days later. Mr Weasley had smiled faintly and waved before hurrying into one of the lifts, and Percy had frozen in the middle of a step and made an old, grumpy-looking wizard cuss loudly at him, but he had barely registered it.
He didn’t blame his family for being disappointed. Perhaps there was a part of him that ached because they had believed it so easily; but it was better that way. If his own family thought he had gone back to his old ways, he would have no problem convincing everyone else.
Checking his watch for the fifth or sixth time that morning, Percy concluded that his brother-in-law must have arrived at work by now, and so he stood up, smoothened out a barely visible wrinkle on his robes, and walked out of his office again.
Just like when he had spotted his father a few days ago, Percy froze in the middle of a movement when he walked into the Auror Office and found himself standing face to face with a tall, readheaded man with a sombre look on his face.
Ron simply shook his head, and it really was perfect because a few other Aurors were watching them—but Percy found it impossible to leave it at that.
“Did you get my owl? I’d love to see a photo of Rose, if you’ve got one…”
Ron clenched his jaws and shook his head again, still refusing to speak. There was a giant knot in Percy’s stomach, but he only needed a few more days, and so he shrugged and forced himself to keep on walking. When he turned his head to look back over his shoulder, Ron still hadn’t moved one inch.
Harry looked as stern as Ron when he opened the door to his office.
“I need to speak to you,” said Percy quickly, and Harry grimaced.
“I don’t have anything to say.”
“But I do,” Percy insisted. “Preferably in private, though.”
With a sigh, Harry took a step to the side and let him in. Percy strode over to the desk and placed himself in one of the visitors’ chairs, where he crossed his legs and waited for Harry to sit down as well.
“Listen,” Harry said. “You obviously know that we disagree on this whole issue.”
“You’ve made that clear,” Percy said, his smile a little strained. “But you happen to be wrong. Listen—we obviously need to stop this nonsense that Burke has started. But we will have a much better chance at that if they don’t fire all of us and replace us with Burke supporters.”
Harry looked flabbergasted. “What?”
“We need to make it look like we’re with them,” said Percy simply. “That way, we will have full insight to what’s going on. But trust me, I’m not planning on letting them put as much as one needle into anyone that we bring in to be registered.”
Harry, who was now gaping at him, sank into his chair and remained sitting without uttering a sound for a long time. Finally, instead of waiting for a response, Percy continued speaking.
“I had to make people believe that you and I were on completely different sides,” he said. “Which is why I’ve let this go on for so long. By now, I’m sure everyone who knows anyone in our family is talking about my latest betrayal.”
Harry’s facial expression was much softer now. “Percy…”
“It’s fine,” said Percy quickly. “I figured I would be better off confiding in you than Ron. He’s never been the best liar.”
“We need to tell him,” Harry said, and Percy nodded. “And Ginny, your parents…”
“Yes, of course we will tell them. But not until we’ve made Burke believe that you’ve switched sides.”
Harry nodded slowly. “And then what?”
“We tell Burke that you’re going to convince Ron and the rest of the Aurors to join his side. And then… I suppose we need to start working on the members of the Wizengamot. I’d say that our best chance is getting them to vote to impeach the minister… I mean, it’s either that, or we start a revolution. I know which scenario I would prefer.”
A/N: Many of you suspected that Percy wasn't about to let everyone down a second time... and you were right! As always, I love reading your reviews and I am so grateful to those who take the time to write them. I'm also grateful to everyone who is still reading this story. It's now had over a million views in total and that just goes beyond my understanding. Thank you!!! And thank you to everyone who shared their memories of Harry Potter in the reviews for the last chapter. It was so lovely to read and just reminded me once again why I love the books and this world so much. Hope you are all having a lovely weekend, wherever you are in the world. Xxxx
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