By Musings of Apathy
Here is my attempt at participating in the National Novel Writing Month. You can find more information on that here: NaNoWriMo
My goal will be to write 50,000 words in the month of November. What will be posted here wlll be un-beta'd. Upon completion of reformatting and Beta work, it will be reposted under it's correct sub-heading.
Appologies before hand on the quality of the writing of this story, as it will be written at such speed as to be a stream of conciousness, with little contemplation of each little detail. Correction of mistakes will be taken care of after the NaNoWriMo deadline for reposting as an edited work.
Family Inseparable: Chapter 4
By: Musings of Apathy
The cart descended at speeds and angles that Harry thought Dudley would appreciate, assuming the whale didn't just break the cart altogether. Dudley had been taken to roller coasters, while Harry had been left with Mr. Figg and her house that smelled of cabbage soup. Dudley had told stories of the fantastic rides often enough in Harry's presence to make him wonder if the Gringotts carts were comparable. Harry lost track of the turns the cart made; left, right, right, left, left, center. He realized the big difference between the bank carts and Dudley's tracked fun was the changes in direction possible in the tunnels under London. At seemingly random intervals, the cave they were traveling in would branch and they would go straight or quickly turn to another branch. Harry had no idea how far they had traveled beneath the surface, but he knew they weren't at the bottom yet. Harry craned to look over the side when they entered a large cavern, getting a brief glimpse of another speeding cart on lower tracks before Lukasha pulled him back by his collar.
"The goblin said to keep your hands in the cart," he told Harry. "If your hands have to stay inside, so does your head."
Harry settled back next to Ginny, still looking to the left and right down the branching caves. Another difference between the Gringotts carts and Dudley's roller coasters; roller coasters had restraints to keep you in the seat.
A glimpse of flame down one cave could be the promised dragons or just a torch lit cavern. A strange thing to Harry; he hadn't seen an electric light since he joined Ginny, but at least in the Weasley and Lovegood house, candles were used...in Gringotts, naked flame was the order of the day.
They finally came to a halt at a ledge sticking from the rock wall. The goblin bid Harry to exit the cart, which he did while looking around for any sort of door or passage that would explain their stop. The ledge surface was flat and smooth, in contrast to the rough Limestone of the walls and caves.
An explanation was given when the goblin said, "Step up to the wall."
Shrugging to Ginny, who was still in the cart with the Lovegoods, Harry stepped forward. He took another and another step until his nose almost touched the rock wall. He felt silly standing there with his face in a rock wall until it wasn't.
Rapidly, the face of the rock receded, moving away from him. The vertigo caused by the wall moving and him not rocked him on his feet for a moment. He looked to his feet to regain his bearings. When he looked up, the wall was proceeding down a hallway made of the same smooth stone as the floor, lit by open flame torches in wrought iron fixtures. The ceiling was ethereal, made of sparkling white arched stone that reflected the light from the torches to illuminate the entire space. The hallway ended where the receding stone melted into the far wall.
Revealed was a pair of smooth iron doors, emblazoned with a shield, its face colored with deep red and stark white quadrants and a border of rich gold. Standing on the shield were three golden, mythical animals; centered, a dragon with its wings spread facing the same way as the shield; facing it from one side was a winged lion with hints of bronze in its mane opposing a bird with its wings spread high above its head, its feathers wild with hints of copper that gave the bird a fire like quality.
Harry could only exclaim, "Wow!"
"That is your family vault, Mr. Potter," the goblin informed him.
Harry removed his vault keys and looked for a keyhole. "Which key is it?" he asked.
"No key," the goblin said. "Place your hand in the middle of your family crest. If it is your rightful vault, the doors will allow you entrance."
"If not?" Harry asked, worried.
"Your next of kin will be informed," he was told.
Luckily for Harry, he didn't understand what the goblin meant ad so wasn't nearly as worried as he could have been. He walked up to the door and reached his hand up high. He was short, owing to his youth, shorter than the adult frame the door was made for, which forced him to reach for the center of the crest. When his hand rested on the point where the four fields, red and white, came together, he felt a sharp prick, causing his hand to recoil. There was a patch of blood left on the shield, strongly obvious on the stark white, but nearly invisible against the deep red. He looked at his hand but saw no wound.
"In just a moment, sir," the goblin said from his side.
When the door started to make sounds, a deep mechanical grumbling, Harry was comforted when the goblin didn't move from beside him. The doors' seam grew from a faint line to a dark crevasse as the doors slowly swung away from them.
"Congratulations, Mr. Potter," the goblin said, "the vault has accepted your lineage."
"Wasn't that already established?" Harry asked. "What would have happened if it hadn't?"
"The original family vault doors hold magic of their own," the goblin said, "that is beyond the control of Gringotts. Your signature and blood allowed us to access it to fulfill your request before, but without that, we have no control of its access. Money alone can be deposited by Gringotts Goblins without that much."
"Can my friends come with me?" Harry asked.
"Certainly, Mr. Potter," the goblin said. "However, you may only remove familial objects from the vault, not money, unset jewels or unformed metals. The same goes for your party."
Harry thanked the goblin and rushed back to the cart to bring Ginny and the Lovegoods with him back to the vault. They eagerly came with him, when asked, but they found the goblin standing in front of the, once again, closed doors.
"Why did you close it?" Harry asked.
"I didn't," the goblin claimed. "When none with the correct lineage is at or in the vault, the doors seal until opened again."
"Blasted," Harry exclaimed. "I have to do that again?"
At the goblin's nod, Harry stepped forward and reluctantly reached his hand to the shield, wincing at the repeat sampling of his blood. The spot left behind solicited matching exclamations of, "Eewww," from the girls.
"What should we be looking for?" Mr. Lovegood asked.
"I don't know," Harry answered. "Mr. Pickrake mentioned a book about wizards and marriage. That might help."
"What are you thinking, Harry," Luna asked as her father moved off to the shelves crammed with books along the far wall.
"I don't know," Harry said. "I just don't want Ginny and me to be separated."
Beside him, Ginny nodded and clutched his hand.
"Okay," Luna responded. "I'm sure daddy and I can find something that'll help."
"Thanks," Harry said to her retreating back.
"Let's go search the magic things over there," Ginny pointed. With a shrug, Harry agreed. They proceeded to a series of display cabinets extending the long length of one wall, directly opposite the raw valuables that the goblin said were forbidden from the family vault at that time. They looked at jewelry and gadgets, but most were just plain things, unenchanted. Some of the things that had slips of parchment beside them that were hand lettered to give a history for the object, along with an explanation of anything that would make the item special. There was a ruby necklace that was charmed so the person the woman was talking to could not lie. According to the history written on the card, the piece was charmed by a female matriarch three hundred years ago that married a rising politician. According to the notes, it had been used many times since then.
There were many other pieces of jewelry that had specific histories, although most had no special enchantments like the ruby necklace. Harry was intrigued by a pocket watch with many hands and the nine planets but no numbers, but he couldn't think of a use for it for the life of him. Ginny looked at the many engagement rings given to Potter brides over the many years, row upon row of them, some garish, but most were simply elegant.
Ten feet down the displays they found the wands of Harry's ancestors that had been stored over many hundreds of years, if the parchment labels were to be believed. Never bashful, and having handled a wand before, Ginny hinged the display open, pushing the stays in place to prevent the lid from falling closed.
"Oh, Harry," she called. "Look at these. Aren't they beautiful?"
Harry came over to look at the wands. He hadn't seen many before, but they all looked like variations on the same sort of design; a shaft of wood, tapered from a wavy grip at one end to a round tip on the other. Some were dark, some light. Some were unremarkably brown, some were fiery, with a maroon finish that seemed feet deep when the light caught them the right way.
"Well...I," Harry said, "I don't know anything about those. You wan'na see if one is right for you?," he offered.
"Well...I," she stammered. "I'm not supposed to...we're not supposed to...Dad said that we can't buy a wand until we turn eleven."
"So we won't buy one," Harry reasoned with a sly grin. "Go ahead. Let's try."
Swayed by his argument, and the fact that she really did want a wand of her own, despite her age, Ginny reached out to feel a random wand, a wonderful cobalt blue one with a defined grain to the wood. At the same time, Harry's hand hovered hesitantly over a nearly white wand with worm wood workings.
By the time the group left the vault, the Lovegoods had several books that they thought interesting. A few on wizarding customs and traditions, a set on wizarding law, at least as it existed in the early nineteenth century, and two soft leather bound books detailing family rituals, including those to create personal bonds such as marriage. Lukasha held a book that his daughter had found amongst the many books in the vault library that seemed to be an interesting treatment on the subject of lesser known mythical creatures of the magical world. Though it was outdated by more than five centuries, the information might still be interesting, at least to some. Harry readily agreed to loan him the hand written and illustrated book.
"What did you two find?" Mr. Lovegood asked.
Harry and Ginny each held up a leather satchel, both evidently holding several things. "We found some jewelery and some clocks and some wands.," Ginny volunteered.
"There was a watch that didn't have any numbers," Harry said. "It had a bunch of hands and things that looked like the planet pictures that Mrs. Crobople showed us last year in school."
"Interesting things, those type of watches," Lukasha told the children. "They tend to only be owned by people who do a lot of things, and can only be understood by their owners. I tried to read the Headmaster's watch once," he stared off unseeingly to the far side of the vault tunnel that they were standing in. "I couldn't understand it in the least. The hands didn't move and Mars was moving in front of Jupiter at the time, whatever that would have meant to Professor Dumbledore."
His thoughts were interrupted when the goblin joined them, the cave containing the vault doors vanished, leaving them on the original ledge sticking from the stone wall.
"Would you care to go to your trust fund vault, Mr. Potter?" the goblin asked.
Harry removed his ring of keys from his pocket and looked at them, as if one would jump out and declare itself and its use. "Which one is it?" Harry asked.
The goblin took the keys from his client and quickly flipped to one of the keys, which looked remarkably like the rest, and handed the mess back by the shaft of the key in question. Harry accepted it back and agreed that he should go there for some of his available money. When asked, neither Mr. Lovegood nor Luna had any further business with the bank. The stop at his trust fund vault was interesting to Harry and Ginny, but not shocking in the least after seeing the Family vault earlier. Even with Ginny's memories of her parent's vault, Harry's seemed rich, but not obscenely so. The ride was between the two vaults was more interesting than the contents of the second vault.
The ride from the vaults back to the lobby of the bank offered something that the roller coasters Dudley enjoyed had never offered, acceleration back up the hill. The cart rocketed from a stand still and retraced the tracks to the starting point, in a small room that transitioned from the rough stone of the tunnels to the polished stone of the bank proper.
"Is there anything else that anyone needs to do?" Mr. Lovegood asked.
Harry started to shake his head in answer, but was interrupted with Ginny's shy questioning answer, "Can...can we go to Borry's?"
Mr. Lovegood considered the children before him. "Certainly," he answered after contemplation. "What do you need?"
"Harry needs some clothes," Ginny replied. "We've been borrowing clothes from my brothers."
"I'm..." Harry started in a protesting voice, but was stopped when Ginny laid her hand on his. She clasp his hand in hers, threading their fingers together.
"Harry..." she whispered to him alone. "You need this."
Harry nodded and started off slowly, Ginny following in his wake, still holding his hand tightly. The emotions that Harry seemed to have escaped Luna and her father, but they were more than willing to follow along and help however they could. Harry told them that his relatives were 'not nice' but that didn't tell them what he had gone through, and Mr. Lovegood, at least, understood that there was more depth to Harry's experiences than he could know. They followed Harry and Ginny from the bank.
Harry had never been clothes shopping before. He had, occasionally, been allowed to accompany his Aunt when she took his cousin to by the gigantic clothes that would be Harry's after they were either too small for the beached whale or too worn. His trip to the clothing store with Ginny and the Lovegoods was different than his previous experiences. First, Petunia Dursley would never have contemplated buying anything less than new and name brand clothing. No matter what her obese son did after he received the clothes, the neighborhood would know that he got the best. By the time Harry received the clothing, they were little better than stitched together cloth with scuffs, fades and tears. Brand didn't matter when the clothes you wore were many sizes too big. Brand didn't matter when those that were to see to your care, gave you no care. But, Harry had been at the mercy of what his Aunt and Uncle would give. Second, Petunia Dursley would never have bought clothes that were any older than perfectly new. Where Harry was led was where Ginny was used to going for clothes, either for herself, or the occasions when her brothers received clothing that had not been passed from their older siblings. A store where clothes that had already been worn by other witches and wizards were repaired, with magic, restored to the best of the proprietors ability, and resold to those that were looking to save what money they could for other purposes. No, Harry had never been clothes shopping before.
Harry's first experience in clothes shopping was brief, buying the things he would need for a concealed life at the Burrow, and little else. Harry had never worn underclothes before he appeared in Ginny's bedroom. He had always had to make due with clothes from his cousin, a year or so out of date, and his cousin's waistline was more than twice his own, making briefs or boxers useless. Pants he could modify; old belts with many more holes punched or a length of rope would decrease the waist to fit as well as possible. Shirts would simply hang to mid thigh, their neck holes nearly spanning Harry's shoulders and their armpits hanging nearly to his elbows. Harry made do as well as possible; cinching his belt, rolling his pant legs and rolling up his sleeves.
So, when Ginny told him that they needed to go to a different clothier for the unmentionables, Harry told her that he preferred not. He grabbed a couple pairs of pajama pants for night and a good supply of t-shirts that would fit him better than any of her brothers' shirts. Finished at the used clothier's, the group left the magical shopping sector with just one more stop stop.
"Wow!" Harry exclaimed, caramel dribbling from the corner of his mouth. "I never knew there were so many kinds of ice cream! Or that they were so good!"
Harry and Ginny shared a truly monster sized ice cream sundae with the Lovegoods, complete with every topping Harry had ever heard his cousin whine for and many that had never crossed anyone's mind in the first place. Under the rainbow of toppings, however, was the true variety; more than a hundred small scoops of ice cream, each just enough for a single spoon full, and each a different flavor.
"All that," Mr. Fortescue agreed, "with treacle, raspberry, blueberry, snozberry, twenty kinds of chocolate, two dozen kinds of fruit, more berries than you can name, and the most popular flavor is still the same as in the Muggle world," the ice cream man testified, "vanilla."
"I had vanilla once," Harry proclaimed with unbridled excitement. "Mrs. Figg said that it was for my birthday, but it wasn't my birthday. My birthday is on July 31st but I had to tend the lawn on that day. It was really good."
"Well, now," Mr. Fortescue laughed, "you've had six different kinds of vanilla."
"But," Ginny said. "How can there be six kinds of vanilla? I thought vanilla was supposed to be plain."
The ice cream master turned just a bit more serious before he answered, but his eyes still held a twinkle of amusement. "Never mistake subtle for plain. Vanilla is a subtle flavor, but complex, if you take your time to understand what it really is."
"Yes, sir," both Harry and Ginny agreed, but missing the underlying message.
"Thank you for the ice cream, Mr. Fortescue," Harry genuinely smiled. The others at the table echoed his delight and thanks for the treat of gargantuan proportions.
"You are very welcome, Mr. Potter," the man said.
They had entered the dessert establishment as the last stop before catching the public floo home and found the proprietor to be both kind and outgoing. He had treated them like royalty, eagerly producing the table filling treat after Harry had run up and down the display and peering at the frozen variety to be had and commented on how impossible it would be to try each and every single of the man's flavors. Mr. Lovegood knew that this was not unusual for the man, as he treated each of his customers with the same respect, just as his father had before him. In fact, the Fortescues had been supplying the magical world with the frozen desert as early as the 18th century from the same storefront on Diagon Alley.
"I am glad to see you with such wonderful families as the Lovegoods and the Weasleys," Florean declared.
"Thank you," Mr. Lovegood said as he put some sickles on the table to settle the bill as he and the children got up to leave the store. However, Harry, Ginny and Luna all ran up to thank the ice cream man personally, with an added hug from the girls that put a large smile on the middle aged man's face.
Harry and Ginny returned to the Burrow with Harry well concealed once again. They had spent the entire trip to the Alley walking around with the Lovegoods without worrying about concealing Harry's existence. For Harry, being seen really had mixed feelings for Harry, he found. He had gotten used to only being seen by Ginny, and only then when he chose to remove the cloak, usually at Ginny's request, and the invisibility was starting to be like a security blanket for him. It made him feel secure that he was safe, even when he was in the room with other people, because they didn't know he was there and, therefore, couldn't hurt him. However, it was nice to walk around like everything was normal, for the first time in his memory.
Harry's shopping was under the cloak with him, concealed. For all the world to see, Ginny was alone as she approached the Burrow. Without warning to Harry, Ginny suddenly stopped and pulled him by his invisible hand behind a mud shed beside the house.
"Harry," she said. "Where are we going to put your clothes?"
"My clothes?" Harry asked.
"Yeah," Ginny confirmed. "Mum puts my clothes away all the time. What's she going to think when there are boy clothes in my dresser?"
Harry thought for a second, becoming more and more alarmed by the conclusions that he was reaching by the second. "In your dresser!" he exclaimed in a hushed voice. "What'll your mum think when she sees my clothes in the hamper?"
"You bought the same sort as my brothers'. She won't be able to tell the difference," she proclaimed, sure of herself.
"But Gin," Harry argued, "If she puts all of the clothes away, where'll she put mine?"
"Oh, um..." Ginny paused. She thought hard to try to remedy the problem. "Oh! Mum's been wanting to teach me to do the laundry. She can teach me and then we can do them without her knowing. You can sneak them back up to our room under your cloak."
Harry thought about that for a second. His mood steadily brightened as he realized that the plan could actually work and he would continue to be safe at the Burrow, as long as no one knew he was there, besides the Lovegoods of course. "It'll work," Harry declared. But then the beginning of their conversation came back to him. "But you're right," he agreed with her belatedly. "Where will we keep my clothes in your room?"
It only took a moment of thought before Ginny had the answer. "Of course!" Ginny exclaimed, not keeping her voice low enough for their hiding spot. Harry shushed her and looked around the corner. No one was around to hear her enthusiastic response. "We can use the chest that my Gramms sent me last year," Ginny told him in a now hushed voice. "She showed me when we visited her. It's got a second, secret insides that only she knew about. Mum'll never know. You could use that and it'd never be seen. I'll ask mum to bring it from the attic."
"Are you sure that this is okay?" Harry asked.
"Sure," Ginny answered. "Up until a couple of years ago I bathed with Ron every day. Then Mum said that I was old enough to bathe myself so she didn't bathe us together."
"But..." Harry said nervously. "I'm not your brother...and you're a girl."
"Yeah, but I've seen boys before," she said. "I have six brothers...and I did change you out of your bloody clothes that first night."
Harry's arguments fizzled similarly after that. Under his cloak, Ginny led him to the bath room with her night clothes bundled under their arms; Ginny's old standard and Harry's 'new' ones.
By now Harry was used to skipping the squeaky step and the rough edge that would catch his cloak and try to pull it off. The bathroom door would squeak if it was opened too slowly and the latch would not close properly unless the handle was turned just so. Many of the things Harry had learned to conceal himself in this comforting family home didn't so much apply now, what with Ginny pulling him along and the entire family expecting those sounds and quirks while Ginny was bathing. But a whole new group of peculiarities presented themselves. Towels were not a problem, as the whole family kept their own in their room; the bathroom was simply too small to allow seven towels to hang dry every day. One difference in particular was that Harry was used to erasing any sign that the bath had been used, but with Ginny bathing, he would have to only clean up to her normal standards. Harry's baths were normally completed as quickly as he could manage to get himself clean, but Ginny, he noticed, took her sweet time, most likely bathing until the unenchanted tub cooled. Ginny had told him that in some houses the tub was enchanted to keep that water at the same temperature, but theirs was just the standard cast iron. She didn't offer an explanation, but Harry suspected that no one needed to encourage anyone to take a longer bath than the forty-five minutes that the cooling water would allow, especially in a family of nine.
Eventually they did find themselves stripped before the cast iron claw foot tub, exploring each other with their eyes. At their age the differences were few, besides the obvious.
"But, how do you pee?" Harry asked after he had embarrassed himself by pointing out what was missing on his best friend.
"I sit on the loo and pee," Ginny told him. "Why, don't you?"
"No," Harry replied. "Boys stand, usually."
Somehow, either through Ginny's parents' rules of propriety about what was appropriate for young boys and men, or by shear dumb luck, when it came to knowledge of how the opposite sex performs private functions, Ginny was on nearly equal footing with Harry. Their discussion led to demonstrations on both of their parts, although mainly to blame on their actual need, not to satisfy the other's curiosity.
The bath that started awkward, turned to something fun for Harry and Ginny. Once he got over his embarrassment and shyness, he managed to have an experience closer to what close siblings everywhere had experienced while growing up. Ginny taught him to play in the tub. From the family's perspective, she was just a little bit more playful in the bath that evening. By the end of the bath, Harry and Ginny were comfortable with each other, even in such a state of undress. Future baths would see a small repeat of his shyness, but he got over it.
With Harry kitted out in clothing that was newer than anything he had ever gotten from his cousin, and plenty of reading material to occupy the couple's time, the weeks were slipping by and the first of the month was approaching. On the weekend Harry and Ginny arrived at the door to the Lovegood residence and were greeted by a tall, wise looking woman that Ginny introduced Harry to as Labibah Lovegood. She seemed unsettled at first, but after hearing how Harry's aunt and uncle were 'not nice', she stared into Harry's green eyes for a long minute. Harry was worried that she would not allow him to stay concealed at the Burrow and he would have to go back to live with the Dursleys. In his head, he saw the many times that he was treated as less than a human, the times he was treated as just a slave, but when the images shifted to how he was punished over the years, he forced himself to not think about such hard things. He had a good life now with Ginny. He didn't have to worry about going back to the Dursleys again. Mrs. Lovegood embraced Harry with a tear in her eye and promised that she wouldn't break his confidence. She promised to help him in any way she could.
While her husband was a bit eccentric, Labibah Lovegood was a very sensible and logical woman. She knew that the responsible, adult thing to do would be to report Harry's abuse and have him taken in by a foster family. But the problem was the duration of Harry's abuse, in her mind. She knew that he had endured more than seven years of abuse at the hands of his relatives which had either gone unnoticed or ignored, both of which didn't bode well for his future. The position Harry managed to find himself in; the invisible ward of a good family, was a better one than his previous one.
Harry's birthday was celebrated quietly between Harry, Ginny, Luna, Lukasha and Labibah Lovegood. For the first time in his memory, Harry was on the receiving end of a cake, this one three layers of chocolate, and ate all that he was served with appreciation. Harry received a hand made bracelet from Luna and several books from her parents. Ginny's present was one that she had worked with her mum on, without her mum knowing the purpose. Ginny had given Harry a pair of fuzzy slippers that her mum had showed her how to sew together with her mum's wand. Without questioning why, Bill had placed a permanent silencing spell on the slippers to complete the present. Harry was happier than he could ever remember being before.
Financial life for Arthur and Molly Weasley was difficult. The entire year they saved up as much as possible so they could do one thing, provide for their children's educations. Throughout the year, they provided for their family's needs; food on the table, clothes on their backs, a roof over their heads, homemade presents for Christmas and birthdays, and love all around. All so they could send their kids to boarding school. Their life was dictated by their responsibilities.
On the first of August, the Goblins placed a hundred gold galleons into the Weasley vault amongst the saved stacks of coins, as arranged, when the month of August rolled around new. Minutes later, another goblin, this one tasked with distributing payroll to Ministry employees, rolled by in another cart. Into the Weasley vault he deposited coins, but instead of a small stack of gold coins, he distributed Arthur Weasley's monthly salary from the Ministry, for his position as head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office, in silver sickles and bronze knuts.
Arthur's three-hundred and seven galleon, six sickle and eleven knut salary worked out to more than five thousand silver sickles in neat stacks filling the small vault, easily concealing the stack of gold and, in fact, pushing nearly half of the gold off the back of the raised stone dais, into the shallow gutter that was formed around the edge of the vault. The gold would rest there until it was noticed and straightened.
The money sat there in the stagnant air for just a day before another goblin opened the sealed vault once again. This goblin's area of responsibility was transfers. He transferred money from one vault to another each morning; a payment arranged by contract, or by the hand written drafts of some of the more wealthy families. Making a tick on his list, he removed eight-hundred forty-one sickles to be transferred to another vault, one of a family that owned great stretches of land throughout England and Wales, including the portion of Ottery St. Catchpole that the Burrow rested on. The receiving vault had been dormant for quite a while, the only activity was the monthly addition of coins from many sources as contract payments were fulfilled.
The following day, another cart came by. This time to remove the tuition cost for the following school year, which was to start in twenty nine days for Carlie, Percy, Fred and George Weasley. This goblin, with more vaults to visit today than he would have liked, spotted the top of a stack of gold in the vault filled mostly with silver sickles. With a one hundred forty three galleon tuition for each child enrolled in Hogwarts, that made for a lot of silver to be counted. He instead reached around all of the silver to collect as many of the gold coins as was there, even reaching into the gutter for what had fallen. These one hundred galleons reduced the silver sickles he had to count by one thousand seven hundred, and saved him several minutes, for, even though goblins were amongst the fastest at counting coinage in the world, it still took time.
A Tuesday morning would make a good day for a trip into the forest with their new sack of wands, or so thought Ginny. She was dragging Harry by his invisible hand through the still inhabited kitchen to the back door. She had prepared a basket with enough food for the two, which failed to raise any flags for any of the rest of the family, due to the tendency of any meal being more than enough for any unexpected or invisible guests. So, really, Ginny packing enough for two wasn't momentous. However, before she could exit with Harry, her mum had something to say about it.
"Ginny," Molly stopped her daughter. "I received a letter from Grandmum Prewett this morning. When was the last time you owled her?"
"Um..." Ginny temporized. "I don't remember?" she answered quietly. In truth, she hadn't remembered to write her Grandmum since Harry had come to stay, but she was not about to tell her mum anything about that.
"You know that your Grandmum is getting on in age and she likes to hear from her only granddaughter regularly," Mrs. Weasley scolded Ginny mildly. "She may be...eccentric...but all she asks is that you keep in touch with her. And it wouldn't hurt for some of you boys to write to her while she is around, too," she said to her sons that were still in the kitchen.
She received a chorus of apathetic, 'yes, mum's from her sons, but didn't pursue the subject because her mum only really paid much attention to Ginny. In her old age the woman had become...strange. She had her fancies, and not much else got through.
"I'll go get parchment and write her this morning," Ginny told her mum. "I'll be right back," she said to the air, to the curiosity of her family, which lasted all of two seconds. She returned shortly and left the kitchen with a 'goodbye' to her family and an invisible friend in tow. Once outside, they turned to the path between the garden and the house that led to the orchard, amongst other destinations.
They were nearly even with the orchard before Harry asked, "Where're we going?"
"We're going into the forest so that we can see what we can do with all of these wands we brought from your vault," she told him.
"Wow," Harry expressed his approval. "What'll we learn?"
"I'll show you some of the things mum taught me," Ginny answered. "It's mostly cleaning spells, but it's something. OH!" Ginny exclaimed, "I can teach you that spell Bill taught me."
"That bat one?" Harry asked. "I don't know," he said hesitantly. "I don't want to hurt you."
"You won't," she told him with confidence. "Now, let me write Grandmum before we get started, or my mum will have it out for me."
Harry watched as Ginny sat at the base of a trunk well within the stand of trees that they had entered while they were talking. She had a small roll of the strange, rough paper that was so universally used in the new world that Harry found himself in. She placed a box in front of her that was made of some dark wood, from which she removed a bottle of ink and a feather quill. This intrigued Harry because he had not seen her write a letter in the whole time he had stayed in her bedroom, so the mechanisms of the activity were new for him.
Soon, though, the interest of her writing a letter was lost on him and he looked around for something else to do. If he had a book, that would have occupied his time, but he hadn't brought any. With little else to do, and knowing that it was what they were there for in the first place, Harry removed the satchel of wands that they removed from his vault. Carefully wrapped around each wand was the parchment that held the explanation and history of each wand; Elphias Potter this and Darius Wilkins that.
He spread the empty cloth satchel smoothly out on the ground and proceeded to lay the wands on the cloth parallel, their tips pointing away from him. One by one, he lifted them, to see if any were anything more than just wood to him. Surprisingly, he found that a few were. He could feel a warmth and, sometimes, a tingle when he handled the wands in his right hand. When he tried the same with his left, he found that just one gave a clear response and only one other even seemed alive to that hand.
"What'cha doin'?" he heard Ginny ask.
He looked up and met her eyes. She was done with the letter and he could see that she was pulling a metal object, a candle and a bar of wax from the box that she had gotten the ink from and had been using as a writing surface.
"Seeing if any of these feel any different," Harry responded.
"And?" she asked.
"A couple with my left and and about half with my right," he said. "Finished? What're those for?" he indicated the candle and other things she had removed from the box.
"To seal the parchment," she waved her hand at the roll of rough paper by her knee.
He watched as she lit the candle and melted the wax in the flame. Once satisfied with her efforts, she smeared on a dollop of wax to hold the parchment roll shut and then quickly pressed the metal stamper into the hot wax. It left the impression of a looping 'W' in the wax that Harry recognized from the letters that he had received from her.
After she had cleaned up her writing instruments, she declared that it was time to try out the wands, much like Harry had been doing, but also with some of the spells that she had come across that she could remember.
Being a house of nine, there was always someone near whatever another was doing, or so it seemed. Sometimes it was out of curiosity, but mostly it was through coincidence. Even inside the tree line of a corpse of trees near the Burrow, Ginny and her companion were not immune to the intrusion. Luckily, the late summer had dried the various tree fall detritus that littered the ground enough to render the childish sneakiness moot as the ground crunched under the intruder's feet. They had heard his approach from far off, and Harry was silent and beneath his cloak long before the youngest of the Weasley boys was in view.
"Come out from behind there, Ron," Ginny called into the forest.
"What are you doing?" Ron called back as he came around the trunk of a large tree. "Where'd you get that?" indicating the wand in Ginny's hand.
"It's none of your business," Ginny told her brother. "But, since you asked, Bill gave it to me," she lied. She bolstered the lie with the truth, however, "And he taught me a great hex, too!"
"Yeah, right!" Ron teased. "You're too young to be doing magic. You couldn't get thing to work for anything but digging for bogies!"
"Yeah, you'll see!" she said. "Bates Mocus!" she enchanted. A burst of magic shot out from her wand and struck true, right in Ron's face. The effects were rapid; his nose started to run worse than any illness had ever caused before and the thick bogies formed into wings and clawed feet which attacked his face.
"Ahhhh!" Ron ran around screaming and trying to claw the creatures from his face. Ginny let him suffer like that for a bit before she did the other thing Bill had taught her; to cancel it. Without her intervention the hex would wear off on its own, but not for a couple of minutes.
Ron came up from the ground as soon as the hex was canceled and faced off against his sister.
"You're not supposed to be using magic!" Ron screamed.
"Bill taught me," Ginny told him. "What're you going to do?"
In truth she was a bit nervous, despite her newfound confidence. What she didn't want to happen was for her brother to run to her mum. Her mum and dad were not fools. Enough evidence and she'd stand no chance of keeping Harry concealed.
"Nothing," Ron said. "Not going to run to mum," he continued. He knew as well as any other that that wasn't tolerated amongst the siblings. Problems were to be taken care of without using their parents as weapons. "Though I might warn the twins," he said under his breath.
Ginny pretended not to have heard her brother's last comment. She turned away from him and raised the wand again. She started to go through some of the cleaning charms that he mum had taught her with her own wand. Her mum had only intended to let her daughter use her wand, not any others, until Ginny started school and was given her own wand. That way Molly could supervise the training and use until appropriate.
"So..." Ron said, not deterred. "What're you doing?"
"Practicing some spells that mum taught me," she told him without turning back to him.
All through this Harry was doing what he was good at, with all of his practice; standing out of the way, quiet and invisible. Harry's slower movements made him naturally quieter than his unknowing house mate.
"What!?!" Ron exclaimed. "Mum's teaching you spells and not me? Is she teaching the twins, too?"
"No, Ronald," she insisted with annoyance. "But if you wanted to learn housekeeping spells, I'm sure that she would teach you, too."
"What?" Ron asked skeptically. "Like sweeping and laundry?"
"Yeah," Ginny told him. "Like laundry, but sweeping can be done with a broom. Your room could use it, too."
"Like manually...without magic?" Ron asked, displaying horror. "It's bad enough when mum forces me to do that stuff. I'm not going to do it voluntarily."
"Whatever," Ginny dismissed. "Some of us want to keep our room clean."
"Fine," Ron scoffed. "Goody-two-shoes."
This just angered Ginny more, causing her to pack up her things quickly so she could storm off.
"I'm going to owl Grandmum!" she called back to justify her departure. "Wouldn't hurt you to do the same!"
"Whatever!" Ron called back. "At least I don't have to!"
Ginny stormed away without further comment. It did get to her occasionally, how she was treated differently, being the only girl in the family. She was the only one that had to owl their Grandmum every week. She wasn't allowed to climb trees when her brothers were, mostly because she didn't want to run back into the house for a pair of jeans. And, occasionally, she was expected to act the pretty little girl for wizarding gatherings. She liked the pretty princess play imaginings, but she didn't like that her parents played any part in the traditional pureblood wizarding traditions of getting all of the children and their parents together. The children could play, but the girls were always in the lace and ruffles, which made them unable to play any of the games that were fun at home. She knew that some families struck deals at these gatherings, but she didn't know if her parents were involved, or what kind of agreements were struck.
Harry followed her from the forest, putting his cloaked arm around her shoulder to offer her some comfort, and to, hopefully, calm her Weasley ire.
Marilyn Prewett knew that her lone surviving daughter found her to be dotty, at best, in her old age. She didn't mind, though. She had lived a good life and earned whatever quirks she had. She had outlived her husband, her two sons, and much of her friends from when she was younger, and all left the mortal coil before they should have, their lives cut short by men and women who had no moral compass to guide them.
In her old age, she had distinct thoughts on what was best. Her and her husband had their children late in life, even for magical couples, and so she was truly of a different era than her lone surviving offspring. In her day, the magical world regularly arranged marriages for beneficial reasons; the preservation of a line, the joining of two great houses. And some not so worthy reasons, such as to settle a debt or to break an inappropriate relationship before it could develop. Her own marriage was arranged, of sorts. She had grown up with her husband, Charles, and had grown as the closest of friends. The arrangement was enough to change the close friends to lifelong companions and eventually loving parents. However, her efforts to provide the same opportunity for her daughter was for naught, as Molly's only male friends growing up and through schooling was her twin brothers.
And then, as the times started to turn their darkest, turning their country to a war that would take Marilyn's husband and only sons, Molly was just completing her schooling. The countryside was in a terror at the killings and defilement that was taking place throughout England. Just as it seemed that Molly would find no love, thus giving her father direction in his search for a husband for his daughter, Molly turned up with a ring and a magical bond with a man that they would have never considered, a man who would never have attended, much less fit into a gathering that the Prewetts frequented. The man was just from a different crust, one her daughter would have never been around growing up, their families just too different.
Marilyn Prewett had a different feeling about her little granddaughter. She had a feeling the girl would find her future husband early in life. She got those; feelings. Sometimes she just knew. Like how she just knew when someone was telling the whole truth, to her face or in a letter. The letter she received from her daughter, Molly, had told of what was happening in that ramshackle, loving house they called the Burrow, and, despite her and her husband's initial misgivings, they were happy for their daughter to have found a family and home she loves, even if it was not with someone they would have paired her with. Her feelings, deep down she knew that everything Molly told her in the letter was the complete truth.
Then she read the letter from her granddaughter, and the same feeling was not there. From reading the girl's careful scrawl, Marilyn knew that Ginevra was holding something back and something big. What confused her was that Molly Weasley was usually completely informed about everything in that house of hers, but in this case, the veracity of the letters spoke for themselves. Whatever it was that Ginny was holding back, her mother didn't know about it either.
The next day Ginny and Harry were back in the forest, where they could talk face-to-face without worrying about anyone entering Ginny's room. Harry spent nearly all of his time in the Burrow under the cloak and wearing the galaxy around his neck, so that he was used to not really being where ever he was. Still, being seen as well as heard was so much the nicer when a person has gone without for such periods.
"What do you think?" Harry asked. "Should we?"
"Well, dad said that you'd be family if we were married," Ginny said.
"I'm not sure that he specifically meant me," Harry smiled broadly, "but, okay."
"And mum and dad said that a marriage bond was based on love," Ginny continued.
"And the books from my vault agreed," Harry said.
"Harry," Ginny asked nervously, "do you love me?"
Harry didn't answer with a thoughtless yes. He paused to make sure that his answer was the truth. "Yes, I do, um," Harry wrung his hands, looking down into his lap. "Do you love me?"
"Oh, yes I do," Ginny answered. "You're my best friend and everything more. I love you."
"Do you think we should?" Harry asked again.
"Yes," she said. "But Luna says that you have to ask me."
"Ask you?" Harry returned curiously.
"To marry me, silly!"
Harry blinked and then smiled. He rose from his position on his bum to where he had one knee on the ground and the opposing foot flat on the ground in front of him. He had seen this in the Muggle telly shows that he was allowed to watch if he were good and quiet at his Aunt and Uncle's. He fished in his pocket for the Potter rings and removed the smaller of the two. With the ring flat in his right hand, he took Ginny's left with his own and cleared his throat, just as he had seen on the telly.
"Ginevra Molly Weasley," he started, trying to keep a serious demeanor despite Ginny's giggles. "Will you marry me?"
Ginny sat up straight, but didn't remove her hand from his. "Yes, Harry James Potter," she said. "I will."
Harry smiled. Another step down.
Blinking, he frowned. He had just one ring, and it was the Lady Potter ring, not one for engagements. "Bugger," Harry said. "I only have the one ring. What are we going to do for an engagement ring, if this is the one that shows you to be Lady Potter?"
Ginny immediately saw his point, without being disappointed that there was a snag in their plans. She simply pulled the book Lukasha retrieved for them from Harry's Family vault from her shoulder bag and opened to the section of marriage rituals. They had determined when they first opened the book that each culture seemed to have contributed at least one traditional ritual to the magical world, and several were in the book.
"Hmm," she hummed as she read through the available rituals. "This one doesn't require another person."
"Another person?" Harry asked. "I thought we were getting married, not us and another person."
"Some of the rituals have another person involved," Ginny told him from the book, "someone of authority to officiate and cast a bonding spell on the new husband and wife."
"Oh," he responded. "But you say that one doesn't require anyone?"
"No," she said. "But it does need a length of rope."
"A length of rope," he asked with incredulity. "I thought the bonding was magical, not that someone was supposed to just tie us together."
Ginny giggled at Harry immediate assumption. "No, silly," she said. "The rope is to wrap our hands together during the ritual, not to tie us together."
"Okay," Harry said. He looked around almost comically, finding no rope around them. "No rope here. Could it be something else? Maybe some vine or a bit of a willow tree or something?"
Ginny leaned her head over the particular passage in the book and reread it again. Finding nothing to disprove the question, she nodded her acceptance of his plan. On this, Harry jumped up and ran off deeper into the small wood, hoping to find something to fit the bill.
The wood offered little at first to remedy Harry's need, until he came out of the trees to a grassy glen with flowers of all varieties and lush grasses that was only interrupted by thin trails leading in random directions. Harry followed the trails through the grass, although he could have easily forged his own path through the short overgrowth.
In the center of the glen was a venerable, old tree with gnarled, rough bark and a sparse crop, high up, of leaves and few blossoms at the extent of each branch. The tree was twisted and turned from its collection of roots where they reached from the ground to the tip of the highest branch where it proudly displayed a clump of leaves around a single blossom. At the base of the tree was a large rock with roots wrapped tightly round, and from under the rock came a spring of clear water that flowed slowly down a rocky stream bed and into a deep pond that supported all manner of local wildlife.
One of the first things the spring fed, after the tree, was a beautiful plant that dug its roots into the lush, moist soil beside the rock and shot its vines up the tree's trunk to hang like drapery from one of the outstretching branches.
Harry made his way, carefully, to the old tree and around to the branch that supported the flowering vine. He brushed his hand over the healthy plant, having no idea what kind it was, only admiring the silver-blue flowers whose seven petals seemed almost paper-like in texture. The center of the flower was graced with a thick stand of yellow shoots, stamen, clumped together, with just the outside layer flaring wide, creating a dish. He coaxed one of the vines from the supporting branch and severed it with a nod of thanks to the plant and glen, using the only tool at his disposal, his thumb nail.
When he returned to Ginny, vine in hand, she had prepared a spot for them on a patch of green grass with a goblet from the kitchen sitting just in front of her knees. Harry wondered about the goblet, but trusted in Ginny's knowledge of the ceremony.
"Here, Ginny," he offered the length of vine. "Will this work?"
Ginny looked up and took the vine from his hand. To Harry's satisfaction, a huge smile appeared on her face as she held the vine.
"Oh, beautiful," she said, appreciating the flower blossoms the size of her open hand and the deep green leaves that were speckled in yellow. The vine itself was small but sturdy and would wrap around their joined hands easily without being bent and forced. "It'll be perfect."
When Harry was kneeling opposite her and the vine and goblet were prepared and between them, Ginny handed Harry the book so he could see the traditional words that they would have to speak and what they would have to do. Harry handed the book back, which Ginny placed, open, to the side. He reached across the expanse between them and took her right hand in his.
He recited from memory, "I, Harry James Potter, do offer the binding of my love, my heart and my soul to Ginevra Molly Weasley, with no caveat in voice, mind or heart."
After his lines, Harry took the vine from the blanket between them and draped it over their joined hands, an equal amount hanging over each side of their hands.
She responded, "I, Ginevra Molly Weasley, do accept the binding of Harry James Potter with no reservation and do offer the binding of my love, my heart and my soul in return, with no caveat in voice, mind or heart."
When she accepted his binding, Ginny grabbed one end of the vine and wrapped it several times around their joined hands and up her wrist.
He continued, "I, Harry James Potter, do accept the binding of Ginevra Molly Weasley with no reservation."
With his acceptance of Ginny's offer, he took the other free end of the vine and did the same, wrapping it several times around their joined hands and up his own wrist.
Ginny then led by grasping the goblet full of pure water and lifting it to Harry's lips, "So mote it be."
Harry took a sip of the cool, pure water from the goblet and could feel the tingling throughout his body. He accepted the offered goblet from Ginny and lifted it to her lips, tilting it for her to drink, "So mote it be."
Ginny also felt the tingling with her acceptance of the clear water from the goblet. For a second they both glowed ethereally. The glow traveled from their centers and down their extremities. When it traveled down their left arms, it just dissipated. Down their right arms, it reached their joined hands and binding vine. The vine glowed brightly for a moment, and, as it faded, their joined hands took on the glow. The glow of their hands seemed to absorb back into them, sending another tingle back up their arms. The glow that reached their feet shot directly into the ground, causing the grass and foliage to glow momentarily before it, too, faded.
"Wow," Harry said.
"Yeah," Ginny answered. "Wow."
"That was..." he continued. "We got to do that again."
"Yeah," Ginny agreed. "But not today. I'm tired."
The ring that started the whole mess lay forgotten, momentarily, with its partner in Harry's pocket.
Ginny and Harry dragged themselves back to the Burrow, Harry once again quite invisible. Upon entering the kitchen, they were greeted with the sight of lunch and her mum waiting for her daughter.
"Hello, Ginny dear," Molly greeted. "Go wash up and you can have your lunch."
Ginny managed a smile for her mum, but that was about all she could manage. "Can I take lunch in my room, mum?" Ginny asked. "I'm really tired."
"Oh, dear," Molly said as she rushed forward to check her baby's temperature in the fashion of mother's everywhere; with a hand to her forehead. "You don't seem to be running a fever, but you are a bit flushed. Let me see your hands."
Mrs. Weasley took her daughter's hands and checked their color. "Doesn't seem to be any circulation problems. You must have just tuckered yourself out."
She was just about to release Ginny's hands when she saw something on her wrist that was not there before. "Ginny, did you draw this?"
"Hmm?" Ginny responded. She looked at her wrist, as did Harry from under his cloak, and saw a faint, colorful marking that resembled the vine that they had used, which was now in the bag, over her shoulder. Even the leaves and flowers were well represented in a complete circle around her wrist. Harry looked at his own right wrist and saw an identical marking that wasn't there before. Ginny struggled to contain her surprise and lied, "yes, mum, I put it there."
"Well, if this is supposed to be a hand fasting mark, they are usually done with a rope or braid, not a flower, but it's beautiful anyway," Molly praised her. She went on to tease, "And if this is a hand fasting mark, where, pray tell, is your husband?"
"He's invisible," Ginny said truthfully.
"I see," Molly responded with as much belief as she could convey in her voice, even if she knew it was just her daughter's imagination. "Well, dish yourself up a tray and take it to your room and get some rest. Do still wash up before you eat, though. And you received a letter from your grandmum as well."
Mrs. Weasley took a tray from the cupboard and put a large and a small plate on it along with a glass for her pumpkin juice and a small decanter, good for three for four glasses, which she filled with pumpkin juice from the cold cupboard. Onto the edge of the tray she placed the sealed envelope from her mother.
"Here you go," Mrs. Weasley handed the tray to her daughter. "Dish up and you may take it to your room. Be careful with the tray. Don't move too fast."
Ginny accepted the tray and dished up all of their favorite lunch foods. Harry followed her silently from the room as they ascended the stairs to her room slowly.
Once they were cleaned and situated behind her closed door, she opened the envelope and started to read as they ate. The letter almost caused her to spray the juice in her mouth all over Harry in surprise.
While I appreciate your letter to me, I realize that you are not telling your Grandmum the truth when you related what had been happening in your life since your last letter. And since I also received a letter from your mum telling me the same things and what she was telling me was the truth, to her knowledge, I know that she is unaware of whatever you have been up to that you failed to say in your letter. If it is something that you cannot share with your mum, that is one thing, but you will, in the least, share it with me. If it is appropriate, I will agree to keep your confidence on the matter, but if it is dangerous, your mum must know.
I expect an answer as soon as your family owl is able. Given his age, I will expect an answer no later than Friday. I love you Ginevra and I hope that you will trust me.
Thank you to DukeBrymin who corrected me on an incorrect word.