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 6
By: Musings of Apathy
Ginny burst into her room as soon as she could leave the table. Her brother had seen her husband, creating a near disaster. When she saw her husband where he usually was, on the bed under the protections of the cloak and galaxy, she took a breath and calmed herself. She slowed down and turned her face from Harry. She slowly walked over to the closet and retrieved her pajamas.
"Ginny?" Harry asked, startled at her coldness. "What's going on?"
She did her best to ignore him, stripping and changing into her night clothes.
"What's going on Ginny?" Harry asked. When she continued to ignore him, he shucked his invisibility cloak. He had never had to worry about that before. Ever since their marriage, she seemed to be able to know where he was. At least, she always talked to the right spot. Now she wasn't acknowledging that he was in the room. "Ginny, honey, what's going on?"
Ginny heard Harry sounding more and more worried, but she was mad at him for risking their time together so he could make a floo call. And what was he doing making a floo call while they were having breakfast? She wasn't prepared for him to be taking risks like that. It worried her, and that made her mad.
Harry was still feeling ignored completely by his wife. Thinking his galaxy had malfunctioned or reset or something, he looked at it closely. Not seeing any indication that it was doing anything, much less doing it wrong, he removed that as well. Now he sat in only his trousers and t-shirt, with no magical aids. "Ginny?"
Ginny tried her best to ignore her husband, but he was sounding so...and he had taken off his protections. Was he trying to be seen?
"Ginny, dear," Harry started, using the terms that he had heard her father use for her mum. "Is something wrong?"
Was something wrong? Ginny snapped. "Is something wrong?" she asked hotly. "Is something wrong? I'm playing merry-hell at you right now. You stood there in front of Percy when you knew that I wasn't ready for you...us to be revealed. And now look at you! You've taken off all your protections. Get your galaxy and cloak back on. Mum could come in here any second. Bats Hollow! I wasn't going to talk to you, and look how well that lasted!"
"He was out of it," Harry pleaded for a second before her evil eye had him putting on his galaxy and cloak. Even after his head disappeared from view, her eyes never left his, although they softened a bit once he was again protected. "He didn't think I was anything real, some hallucination of an elf or something. Called me Santa before I even took my cloak off. I wasn't discovered, was I? Your family doesn't know, do they?"
"No," she answered. "You'd have been dragged out of this room long before now if you had been discovered."
Suddenly they both seemed to deflate. Their argument, for what it was, was moot. Ginny questioned him on what he was doing, and he avoided telling her, claiming a surprise. It wasn't long before Ginny had to make an appearance downstairs with the rest of the family, after departing so soon after dinner. Harry might have normally been at her side, invisible, but the scare earlier had her forbidding it. Harry didn't think that such a bad thing.
Later that night, after Ginny had returned for bed, Harry thought to ease the tension a bit and make them both feel better. Through the days since their marriage, they had both been thinking about how wonderful the ritual felt that bonded them. It seemed a good distraction for them both, only, Harry felt shy about it and was cautious on his approach.
"Ginny," Harry said, breaking the silence. "You ... you enjoyed the marriage ceremony ... um ritual the other day, right?"
"Hmm? Oh, yes! It was great, Harry. Why?"
"Well ... when it was done, we both said that we should do it again, and I was wondering ... would you? Like to do it again?"
Ginny didn't have to consider it for more than a moment before answering, "Yes, of course. You mean right now?"
"Sure," Harry said with a little more confidence.
"But it's bed time and we don't have another vine. Do you think that one," she pointed to the still flowering vine that had been stuck in the planter box outside her window. It seemed to be taking root and happy, "would work again?"
"No," Harry said. "I think it's better to let it grow. It seems to like it there. Maybe there's another ritual in that book where you found the last one."
Harry walked over to where the book was haphazardly layed between an old issue of Witch Weekly recycled from her mother and a vase of wilting wildflowers that had been picked before Harry's birthday. In it they found a couple of possibilities, however most of the others were out of the question with Harry being still in secret. Having a minister or someone else to the Burrow to officiate a marriage between the youngest and a boy the family had never seen was completely out of the question.
In the end, they selected a simple idea, one that wasn't too dissimilar to the core of modern muggle marriage ceremonies. Using the guidelines in the book, they swore an oath to each other to support and honor the other for the rest of their lives. Unlike in the similar muggle ceremony, there was a flare of magic to seal the deal, adding another layer to their marriage bond, and seeing them off to sleep with smiles on their faces. The feeling they received in the first ritual was repeated in the second, maybe even with a bit more to it.
The next morning was nearly a catastrophe. Harry was, as always, firmly planted below the covers with his arms and legs intertwined with Ginny's on the small bed. Disaster nearly struck when Arthur Weasley, Ginny's dad, decided to be the one to wake his daughter on her eighth birthday. Even days later, Harry would have no idea how he was not discovered. He heard, in his half awake state, someone entering the room. Ginny was still breathing slowly, still asleep completely. He heard Ginny's father whispering, "Happy Birthday," while he gently shook her shoulder. In all that, his hand was less than an inch from Harry's face, through the blanket, and Harry could clearly hear his whispered greeting to his daughter as she awoke, owing to the fact that his ear was not more than a dozen inches away.
Ginny must have managed to keep him covered, but Harry could not recall how, just that it had worked. He stayed laying in the bed still as a stuffed dragon while Ginny got up, pausing only to put on her robe, before following her dad to breakfast. After the door was firmly shut Harry heaved a sigh of relief. Now he just needed to find something to do while he waited for his wife to finish her birthday breakfast. He hadn't even got the chance yet to wish her a happy birthday, or even a good morning.
Ginny's birthday started out as any newly minted eight year old little girl could want; she had all of her brothers, her mum and her dad around the breakfast table, which was overflowing with every thing she loved to eat. Her mum had even made eggy bread with a basket of berries, rashers of bacon and fluffy scrambled eggs piled high, along with many other breakfast delights. The sideboard behind the twins was piled with presents. The array of brown paper wrapped gifts was enough to bring a smile to her face. In a family that traditionally saved its knuts for better uses; presents were not normally wrapped in expensive, colourful paper. Why waste the a sickle or three for a roll of fancy paper, when each of the children were used to plain packing paper?
Bill called out an enthusiastic, "Happy Birthday, Sprite!" which was echoed by the rest of the family. Her mum came over from the stove and gave her a huge hug, which was, as always, returned with just as much enthusiasm. She had no sooner been released from her mum's grasp then she was enveloped in Bill's birthday hug, and from there to the next. Even Ron, the one most likely to dismiss his little sister, was ready to issue his hug on her birthday morning.
"See, sis," Ron said, "I'm still a year older than you."
Her answering tongue was enough to earn her a serious tickle in return from her youngest brother. She laughed as she was released and ushered by Ron to her normal spot at the table. Expected but appreciated, her normal chair was changed for a regal looking gilt throne. Breakfast flowed in a happy cacophony, each and every one of the family happy on this celebratory occasion.
It didn't take that long for Ginny to finish to her stomach's satisfaction, at least compared to her bothers. Bill and Charlie were having a contest, seeming to see who could have the most plates of eggy bread, each with a pile of the red raspberries that filled the woven basket at the center of the table. Ginny watched with rapt attention and laughed along with the rest of the family.
"Go ahead and have another serving of berries, Ginny," her mother said from her side. She looked up into her mum's smiling face. "There's plenty. Whatever doesn't get eaten will just spoil."
"Somehow, mum, I don't think that will be a problem at the rate they are going," Ginny answered. "Besides, I don't think I could eat anything more."
Molly smiled at her daughter, "That's alright dear. Save some room for lunch with your grandmum. She'll be by to pick you up at twelve. She's taking you out to lunch, so dress in your best."
Ginny allowed an excited smile to grace her face as she agreed. Quickly after that, breakfast ended and Bill was levitating presents to the cleared table. The brown wrapped packages, floated over single file, covered a good portion of the table.
"Okay, Ginny," her father said. "You know the drill. Open presents this morning and eat cake tonight."
"Come on, lets see what you got."
However, before she could tear into any of the packages before her, an average size owl alighted into the kitchen and landed between her and her presents. Clutched in the brown owl's talons was another brown package, tied in string. Blinking, Ginny relieved it of its burden. The owl nodded its head slightly before leaping in the air and leaving through the kitchen window, just as it had arrived.
"Go ahead, Ginny, open it."
"What is it?"
"Okay," she agreed.
She pulled at the loose end of the bow, unraveling the tie and causing the paper to fall away, revealing brightly coloured paper, wrapped around a small rectangular object. The paper showed a meadow scene with different size books flapping their covers, flying from tree to tree and bush to bush. Other books masquerading as animals scurried and strolled across the scene, making an unusual package indeed.
"Wow," she exclaimed. "I think it's from the book store."
This was echoed by most of her brothers as she held the wrapped book up for the others to see.
"Flourish and Blotts?" Percy clarified. "Must be. Nice wrapping anyway."
"Who is it from, dear?" her mum asked.
"I don't know. There's no card," she answered before turning it over and slitting her finger in the paper folds to loosen the sticking charm the wrapping was folded with. Inside she found just the kind of book she had mentioned to the twins. The cover was embossed with Sir Gwondol's Quest at the top and John Isaic Pennyworth at the bottom with a windowed scene of a knight on a white stallion in front of a majestic castle. She opened the cover to find no note or inscription to identify the giver, and at the start of the first chapter there was naught but the greeting; Hello. Welcome to a tale of a brave knight and a beautiful princess. What is your name?
Ginny giggled and closed the book. She smiled greatly. "Fred, George, did you get this for me? It's the one I asked you for."
"No," they denied. "Ours is the long one on top of the stack."
Ginny thought for a moment before realization struck. "Oh! I know who sent it!" she blurted out. Luckily not mentioning exactly who it was.
"Who, Gin?" her father asked.
"Hmm," she stalled. After a bit of thought she answered, "a friend of Luna's. They must have found out when my birthday was and had it sent."
"That was nice of them," Molly smiled. "Be sure you send a thank you note. Errol will be available for a delivery tonight."
A good portion of the morning was taken up with the family watching Ginny unwrap and appreciate the gifts they, and family further afield, had gotten her. In the stack were several from long time friends of Arthur's from the Ministry that had known her from birth. She made sure to thank each of her brothers and her parents when she unwrapped a gift from each of them with a sincere hug and a kiss on the cheek, much to Ron's embarrassment. With the gift portion of her birthday morning taken care of, she enlisted help to take her newly gained clothes and sweets to her room. She now had enough fudges, cakes and pasties to enjoy for weeks, even with her hidden husband helping her enjoy them all. Entering her room, all evidence of Harry's existence was well hidden, just as she knew it would be. She quickly ushered her brothers out of the room, claiming the need to bathe and change for lunch with Grandmum, getting them all out of the way and the door firmly closed.
That taken care of, she turned around for her first ever Happy Birthday wish from her husband.
With Grandmum Prewett due at noon, before preparing lunch for her boys, Molly Weasley made sure to venture up the stairs to remind her daughter to ready herself with a fresh bath and nice clothes. She found her daughter well into a long bath, covered in her foamy bubble bath and laughing uproariously. Molly simply reminded her that she had just an hour before her grandmum would show.
By the time Ginny and Harry exited the bath, they had started to wrinkle and prune from the long sit in the water. They dried and robed, saving dressing for their room. Their teeth brushed and ears cleaned, inside and out, they exited the bathroom and made their way to their bedroom.
As they passed Percy and Bill's room, they saw the two of them sitting on one of the two beds with a chess set between the two in concentration. Bill looked up and smiled. What he saw was his little sister, nothing giving away that there was another with her.
"How you doin', Moppet?" Bill asked. "Having a good birthday."
Ginny smiled brightly and skipped into the room, latching onto her eldest brother to give him a neck crushing hug. "Yes, I'm having the best time in the world!" She let Bill go and surprised her middle brother with an identical hug for him, which elicited a smile and a return hug, despite Percy's taciturn nature. She exited the room as she had entered; with a happy skip to her step.
At noon Ginny and Harry were ready and waiting in the kitchen watching Molly finish fixing lunch for the boys. Harry, fascinated with the family clock once again, nudged his wife when the "Grandmum Prewett" hand moved from home to traveling to visiting, accompanied with a light popping noise outside the back door, in the garden. Almost before the pop had ended, Ginny was on her feet and opening the door to greet her Grandmum. To not give himself away, Harry stood at the same time as his wife, but merely placed himself out of the way in the unused corner of the room.
Outside the door, Ginny flew into the arms of an older woman. She was rubenesque with plump, rosy cheeks and an obviously happy demeanor. She hugged the petite girl, enfolding her with her short arms and carrying Ginny into the air with a laughed greeting. Harry had to smile from under his cloak at seeing his wife happy.
"Molly, dear," the woman greeted as she entered with her arm over Ginny's shoulder as the child hugged her grandmum's waist. "How are you and your lovely family?"
"I'm well," she answered with a smile. "As are the boys and Arthur. Bill has been enjoying his time working at the bank and the twins are eagerly waiting for their sorting. With their enthusiasm, I just hope they'll leave the castle standing."
"Oh, they're just after some harmless fun. Reminds me of your brothers, Merlin rest their souls."
"I'll just be happy if they can still their jokes long enough to concentrate on their school work. Had the toughest time getting them through their preparatory learning. The only way they'd learn anything is if it was for fun."
"Nothing wrong with a bit of fun in their lives," Grandmum Prewett stated. "How is Arthur doing with those Muggle Protection laws the Wizengamot had him on?"
"Honestly mother," Molly answered with a sigh. "He finished those ages ago. I owl you every week. You know he's head of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Department now. Finds the most ghastly things that witches and wizards pass off to muggles. Had an antique tea pot last week that was laced with Everlasting Sleeping Drought. He had to visit the poor victim in the hospital to get them out of the coma the muggles thought them to be in. Came back all excited about the beeps and whistles their machines made."
"At least you've both found what you love," Mrs. Prewett said, her voice infused with love and sincerity. She turned to her granddaughter, still hugged at her side, and asked, "Are you ready to go?"
"If it's alright then, Molly, we'll be going. I think the floo is the best way, don't you think?"
"Of course," Mrs. Weasley agreed. She then set her eyes authoritatively on her daughter. "You be good for your grandmum, Ginevra. Don't forget your table manners."
With an explicit agreement to behave, they were off. Discretely Harry managed to get behind Ginny, hugging her tight through the invisibility cloak to get them to the same place with one trip. Luckily no one noticed that Ginny seemed to take an extra large pinch of floo powder, or that the flare of green flame that took them from the Burrow was especially large, or the flutter of the end of the invisibility cloak as it danced in the harmless flames as they disappeared.
With a kiss on both of Molly's cheeks, Mrs. Weasley's mum bid a final farewell before following Ginny and her invisible husband, calling out, "Diagon Alley."
Upon arriving at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry quickly found his feet and ducked behind Ginny to remove his cloak without gaining suspicion. It took a reminder from his wife, however, to get his necklace off. Had he worn the galaxy through lunch, who knows how poorly the day could have gone. Mrs. Prewett might have been able to 'see' him, but fat lot of good it would have done when she couldn't look at him. Harry stuffed the galaxy in the pocket of his robe with the folded invisibility cloak just before Mrs. Prewett's entrance through a flare of green flame. Unlike Ginny and Harry, she maintained her footing elegantly.
The trip through Diagon Alley to the restaurant was quick and easy. Harry might have wanted to visit some of the shops, but it wasn't the day for such dalliances. Before he knew it, they were sitting down at a nicely appointed table with a white table cloth and golden candles.
Suddenly more nervous, Harry began to fill the silent void, "Thank you for inviting me Mrs. Prewett. I'm sure you must have a lot of questions about your granddaughter and I, and I want to answer any that you have to make you feel more comfortable about this. Ginny's been so nice and all bringing me in to be with her, giving me all the food I could eat and such a nice place to sleep and..."
Harry was stopped by a raised hand. He looked at the jolly woman, giving her his full attention as she spoke, "Harry, none of that is necessary at all right now. First we will enjoy our meal and then we can discuss such things. Let's hurry now and make our selections before the waiter comes back with our drinks."
This settled Harry down without fuss. With his limited experience in situations such as these, Harry relied on mimicking Ginny to the best of his ability. Seeing Ginny reading her menu, Harry did the same. By the time the waiter came around with their drinks, Gilly Water for Mrs. Prewett and pumpkin juice for both Harry and Ginny, Harry had read the whole menu, but understood little. What descriptions he did understand, had things that he didn't think of as food. He had seen ducks in a local lake he was able to visit once with the Dursleys, but had no idea that anyone caught them and ate them. No, he didn't think duck would be the best thing to try.
At the other edge of the menu, he was sure the notations were of prices, but couldn't understand the single number that was listed. Wasn't wizarding money in three different coins? What would one number alone mean?
Fortuitously, his dining companions were the first to order, giving Harry that extra time, but, unfortunately, he had not paid attention to what they ordered. At the last, Harry finally saw something that he had at least heard his uncle mention, and that was a godsend.
"Harry..." Ginny said calmly to gain his attention, "It's your turn."
"Oh! I'll have the beef wellington."
"Very good, sir. And how would you like it cooked?"
This reminded Harry of when he had heard of the dish ... at the time, his uncle had not been impressed with the idea. "What kind of a strange idea was that," his uncle had complained when the Dursleys had returned from a company dinner. "Take a good piece of meat and wrap it up in pastry? At least the cook got it right, medium-rare. Probably would have been tough otherwise."
"Medium-rare, please," Harry answered quickly.
The salad course arrived quickly, saving Harry from participating in the conversation, beyond looking interested and engaged. Ginny and Mrs. Prewett carried the conversation, leaving Harry where he preferred in his shyness; inconspicuous and quiet.
Lunch's main course arrived shortly, which surprised Harry. He wasn't sure how long the particular dishes they ordered took to cook, but the things he cooked for the Dursleys had always taken longer. The table lapsed into full silence as they all ate their ordered dishes. Soon enough the plates were finished and gathered by the waiter. Mrs. Prewett asked for an after lunch tea while their meals settled, promising a special desert later. Thus, Harry sat knowing the interrogation was about to start.
"Relax, Harry. I'm not about to break out the Spiny Needles Hex. I just want to get to know you. You are, after all, my granddaughter's husband. That's not going to change because of this conversation, let's hope."
"Spiny Needles Hex?"
Ginny grasped his hand in a show of solidarity, offering him comfort and letting him know he wasn't alone. Mrs. Prewett proceeded on ignoring the questioning repeat.
"Well, now. I know some things about you because of your fame and the legends surrounding you, so first," she paused, "let's throw all that out the window as mindless speculation and inaccurate fairy tales. Tell me about yourself and your life from when you can first remember."
With that broad request to fulfill, Harry launched into a version of his childhood. He sanitized it, only alluding to the treatment he received at the hands of the Dursleys, but told a rather complete tale for not imparting those things. He paused only for the arriving tea and picked his tale back up once each of their cups was properly augmented. His tale finished, all he could do is wait for the response from his Grandmother-in-law.
Mrs. Prewett, in her turn, wanted nothing more than to just bring the two children into her arms and tell them it would be all right, but she had a responsibility to know that he would do what was best for Ginny. Any signs that everything was actually all right would have to wait until her duty as a grandmother was satisfied.
"What are your intentions for my granddaughter's life, safety and happiness?" she asked with a stern face.
Harry didn't respond immediately. In truth, he didn't know how to respond because he didn't know exactly what was being asked. The question, while blunt, used concepts that were above the reach of an nine year old, no matter how mature he seemed.
"I'm...I...what..." Harry stammered and stuttered through trying to understand and answer. Luckily Ginny decided to speak up.
"What do you mean, Grandmum?"
"Sorry, dears," she apologized. "What I mean to ask is; what will you have Ginny's role be when you are both grown up? Will she tend house? Will she have a job? What will your job be? How will you support yourselves? Will you protect her?"
"Of course I will!" Harry exclaimed. "And as to the rest; what will she do? I don't know. I reckon she'll do what she wants to do."
"That is a very good attitude, Mr. Potter. I realize that you have no way of answering or even understanding the questions I asked, which doesn't surprise me. Tell me, which marriage ritual did you use?"
Harry looked at Ginny to see her reaction. "Do you remember the wording?"
"Yeah, the first time..."
"Wait," Mrs. Prewett interrupted her, "You've already done more than one?"
"Um, yeah," Harry answered. "There was a lot of tension last night and after Ginny forgave me, we wanted something to make us feel better, and the first marriage ritual felt so good, we tried another."
"Ah, such a drastic way to feel better after a fight. You'll find better ways when you are older," she assured them. "So, which rituals?"
"The first one," Ginny said again, pausing where she was interrupted the first time. "...went, '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.' His lines were the same, only with our names reversed."
Harry was just amazed at her memory to remember the line so well. If he had to, he might have been able to, but not on the spot like that, without any doubt.
"Hmm, I've always liked that one," Mrs. Prewett said with a far away smile. "It was said that my own grandparents, my father's parents, had such a simple ceremony, using a rope that she braided from her own locks. May I see your wrists?"
They presented their right wrists to her, letting her examine the flowered vine that encircled both. "How wonderful. I wasn't aware that there was any such vine around your parents' house."
"Harry found it in a meadow."
"Enchanted one, I am sure," grandmum Prewett opined. "And the second ritual? Was there flora involved in this one as well?"
"No," Harry answered. "We were in her room at the Burrow and couldn't get any more, and the one we used before was still rooting in the planter outside her window."
"Anyway," Harry said, recalling the second, if for nothing else than to prove that he also remembered his own weddings. "The second was just words. 'I, Harry James Potter, do take Ginevra Molly Weasley to be my wedded wife, to honor, support and cherish, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for as long as we both shall live.' Like the first one, there was a flash of light and a warm feeling after we both said it."
"An old rite," Mrs. Prewett informed them. "Goes back many centuries. There are many older ones, like your first, but that one was before traditions changed in the wizarding world." Seeing a curious and interested look in both of their faces she continued, "These days, another line was added to that ritual, 'forsaking all others,' which is in the muggle one as well, if I remember correctly. Centuries ago, a lord in the wizarding realm could take multiple wives. Of course, that really died out long before Hogwarts and long before that ritual, but it left the door open anyway, until a century or more ago, when it became practice to add the line. It's not always done, but that's why it was added. I'm glad the second rite worked. It could have failed because of the names you use. By any right, Ginny's new name should be Ginevra Molly Potter."
"Really? Could that make the ritual fail?" Ginny asked.
"Not the one you've already performed, but it could complicate any more that you do, if there are more."
"You seem to know so much about these things!" Harry complimented. "You must be some sort of expert. Is that what you do for a living?"
"No, no. I always kept the house and raised the children. I never had a job like my husband did, but ceremonies such as these have always caught my interest."
"Can you recommend more of them for us, just in case we want more?" Harry asked.
"More? Haven't you had enough?" she joked. "I certainly can. Why?"
"The first and second felt good and were fun," Ginny answered. "Plus, maybe they won't send Harry away if..."
"I'm sure they won't," Harry comforted her. "We're married now."
"Well, even so, between just those two rituals you are certainly not going to be split up," she said with a chuckle. After a breath, her demeanor changed. She became more serious, but also more like a wise mentor, leaning forward and connecting with both of them, eye to eye. "Let's be serious, now. You've stepped into a lifelong situation here. At this point in your lives you probably can't even understand that much, but just remember this; this is for the rest of your lives. You will be together for the rest of your lives. Grow up together. Live, love, learn together, but always remember that your spouse comes first. For you, Harry, Ginny should always be your first consideration. What is best for her. And you, Ginny, your first consideration should be what is best for your husband, Harry. Even before your brothers and parents, your duty is to your husband, just as his is to you."
Ginny and Harry sat quietly and absorbed as much of what she was telling them as they could understand. What made it through was what needed to, and they had no doubt, in their young age, that they would do as she commanded. With age and experience, maybe they would have seen bumps and not been so sure of themselves, but then again, love has a way of making any blind to the rocky roads ahead.
"Enough of that flap," Mrs. Prewett clapped her hands. "What say you two to some cake for such an occasion?"
Traveling back was just as difficult as the trip out. Mrs. Prewett went first to cover the way, with Harry and Ginny following together, just as before. They arrived in the middle of a chess game between Ron and his father, the elder at an advantage, but not by considerable margins. Harry and Ginny could both see that this was their sixth game, Mr. Weasley with three figurines and Ron with two, a sixth sitting on the side of the board between the two players awaiting the winner. For as long as the oldest child could remember, Mr. Weasley used the figurines to encourage the children to engage in group activities, redeeming them after the game for biscuits or some other treat. Molly would just shake her head, but it was all in fun. The biscuits would be eaten in the end whether they were given away as prizes or sneaked from the jar.
They had returned from lunch with just a few hours before the party was to start for the 'formal' celebration of Ginny's birthday. Ginny hugged her grandmum with a wide smile, greatly encouraged by the fact that she had accepted Harry with open arms, when she didn't have to.
"Thank you for lunch, Grandmum."
"You're welcome, Ginevra. Happy birthday."
Ginny split off with a final squeeze of her hug. Her mum was up off the couch ready in her place. Quietly, Ginny heard, "Thank you for taking her to lunch, Mum. Did you have a good time?"
"Oh, yes. It was most interesting and entertaining. So mature she's getting."
"Yes, she is. She met a boy at a shop a bit ago and heard about his home life and wanted to take him home. Begged and pleaded for weeks afterward for us to check up on him. We made the inquiries, but, really, one boy named Harry in all of England, there was little chance. But she still cared. I do hope that it turned out all right for that boy."
"I'm sure it will. Now, I must be going. Tuckered me out today."
"You aren't staying for the party?" Molly asked. Hearing that his mother-in-law was leaving, Arthur told his chessmen to stand down for a bit, while he got up for a stretch. Harry was amused to see the knights and rooks calling out to him, questioning his dedication to the battle, while the pawns seemed to be unrolling bedrolls or setting up for a meal. Where two white pawns were next to each other, they seemed content to share duties. The black pieces seemed to be staring Ron down, waiting for their leave.
"Okay, fine, but we're coming back to this, so don't forget where you are!" Ron reminded his pieces. He, too, made his way toward the fireplace. There he joined the queue of his brothers saying 'goodbye' to their grandmum.
After finishing her own goodbye, Ginny proceeded up the stairs, away from the rest of the family, knowing that the right person would be following her. Once inside the room, Harry wrapped his arms around her from behind, giving her an absolute feeling of comfort.
"Happy Birthday, Ginny."
"Thank you, Harry. And I did love your gift. I think we'll enjoy it."
"Good," he said, allowing her to turn to face him. "Now what will we do until you have to go to your party?"
"Well, I think it'll be expected that I spend time with my brothers, so, I don't know..."
"I wanted to spend time with you, but you probably should spend time with your brothers. I'll just be under the cloak, nearby."
"Just be up here for a bath at around five. I need to be ready for the party and I can't have my bath without my husband."
"Of course," Harry said, placing a kiss on her cheek through the cloak.
Downstairs, Ginny went straight to her dad and gave him a hug, which didn't make him suspicious at all. After all, she was a physically affectionate child. However, she had learned how to get what she wanted from her father, just as any little girl was apt to learn. On this occasion, what she wanted was a wand. Among wizarding families, there are many games for children that involved magic, which, naturally, required an adult to part with their wand. Any wands from the school age children could have set off sensors in the Ministry of Magic's Improper Use of Magic Office, and it was an unwritten rule amongst the purebloods not to bring any attention of that office where their offspring was concerned, making it easier for the Ministry to ignore any early or extra training given to the young.
"Daddy," Ginny said in as innocent voice as she could. "Can we use your wand for a game outside?"
Mr. Weasley, who had been in a conversation with Mrs. Weasley, smiled at his little girl and briefly hugged her shoulders to his abdomen. "Now, Pumpkin, you remember what happened last time you used my wand for those games of yours. You turned Percy green and Fred turned Ron's clothes into a dress. We can't have accidents happening."
"But, dad..." she whined in return.
"And you know better than to use Charlie's or Percy's. And no using Bill's wand for the same reason as mine, you could have accidents. Ask you mum to let you use your Great Great Uncle Wyferus's wand."
"But, dad. It hardly works for any of us at all! It's such a pain to use."
"And that is why I'll let you use it. It's good enough to shoot sparks out of, and, unless you've changed the game since I was your age, that is all you need to play wand tag."
What she didn't want to tell him is that they had changed the game. The original had the person who was 'It' using the 'It Wand', which was just a wand with a bright red ribbon tied around it, to chase down the others and try to shoot them with sparks. The common sparks that any wizarding child knows how to shoot would shoot straight for some distance before fading out. If they hit someone, they would explode harmlessly, showering sparks in all directions, rather than just straight from the wand. It made good visual evidence that a person was struck. The person struck would then be 'It' and would be given the 'It Wand' to begin chasing the others once again. The game, as it was played the previous summer by the children had them casting a slightly different spark that Charlie taught them which left coloured marks on the person, be it their clothes or their skin. The marks would eventually fade, but was great fun for children while they lasted. The only problem was that the sparks Charlie taught them would not work from their Great Great Uncle's old wand. The man had used a vinewood wand with a core from the spinal cord of a Cornish Pixie; a wand combination that would do little but sparks for anyone else, leaving one to wonder how he came across such a wand in the first place.
Ginny, knowing that it would probably be the best they could do, turned to her mum and asked for the wand. Molly would never refuse now that her husband had already just about given permission. She may have talked to him later, had she not agreed, especially for her daughter's birthday.
"I'll get it in a second, honey. Why don't you gather the others and see who wants to play."
With a 'thank you' to both her parents, Ginny ran off to gather all of her brothers. Each of them agreed to play up in the orchard where the trees would make the game more interesting. Even the reserved Percy agreed to play after Ginny put the heavy persuasion to him. He, like his brothers, could not resist when there was something Ginny truly wanted.
They all gathered outside the kitchen, next to the garden, where Bill and Charlie reiterated the 'rules' of the game with such things as; 'no tag backs', 'no running to mum if someone manages to shoot something other than sparks' (this one with sharp looks to Ron and Percy), 'no peeking while you count to ten' and 'no fast counting! Say '1 Cauldron Cake, 2 Cauldron Cake, etc.', 'but Charlie that just makes me hungry for cauldron cakes,' Ron would complain and Bill would tell him, 'fine, say 1 clauricorn, 2 clauricorn,' ,'What's a clauricorn?', 'It's a leprechaun,' ,'Why can't I say l 'leprechaun' then?' ,'Say whatever you want, as long as it's a long enough word that you aren't counting too fast.'
As soon as Mrs. Weasley retrieved the wand from where ever it was stashed, the whole group took off as a whole for the orchard at an excited jog. When they got up there and prepared to start, Ginny kept the wand and declared she was 'It' first. This made Ron shudder at the thought of his sister with a wand in her hand chasing after him and his brothers, no matter how ineffective the wand was supposed to be. Harry placed himself outside the action where he could see somewhat, but wouldn't get struck by the sparks shot at one of the others. Even if a tree were struck, the sparks would not explode as they would if it hit a person, and Harry was taking no chances that he would be struck and lit up in his invisibility. He wouldn't trust the others to not notice, even if he did have the galaxy around his neck still.
The antics he saw made him laugh, which was luckily covered by the laughter of the rest of the children. Ginny being the first shooter, Harry counted at least ten shots of red and purple sparks before Percy was lit up like Guy Fawkes Day. The next time Ginny was 'It', after Ron had been 'It' twice and Charlie had yet to have been hit, Harry could have sworn that Ginny hit both of the twins and Bill at the same time, sending out all three shots in quick succession. At five o'clock Harry carefully made his way to his wife and placed his invisible hand on her shoulder to gain her attention without facing the 'It Wand', which was in her hand for the fourth time that afternoon. He whispered the time in her ear, to which she gave a small nod. She quickly shot Charlie, who had come from behind a tree to her right to find shelter further from his sister. She quickly begged off, saying she had to take a bath before the party, hinting also that they could use some cleaning up as well.
The bath was just as it always was, with both Ginny and Harry getting themselves clean and having some fun along the way. They got out in time for the boys to do a quick wash-up before the guests arrived. At the party, Ginny was able to say hello to some cousins, uncles and aunts. She had already opened her gifts from each of them, but enjoyed the cake after blowing out the candles that floated above the icing.
That night, Ginny and Harry snuggled under the light blanket on her bed happily. Neither wanted anything to change at that point.
The next morning was punctuated by owls and letters. While Percy was poring over his book list, including for the first time, a list of books for his electives, Fred and George were dancing arm in arm, spinning around the table, generally making a ruckus.
"We got our letters! We got our letters!" they chanted and sang over and over. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would never be the same. Fred and George Weasley had been accepted as first year students.
Special thanks to Kokopelli, Gardengirl, LizzieB and DukeBrymin for catching mistakes that I missed. What they mentioned is corrected now, but there are probably more oopsies out there still
for others to find.