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 8
By: Musings of Apathy
Before long, the weeks of August had melted away in a burst of heat that sent the Weasley brothers for a stream fed swimming hole in the woods behind the Burrow most hours of the day. To keep up appearances Ginny went with them some of the time, but mostly she contented herself with spending time alone with Harry, her invisible husband, enjoying each other's company in the woods, her room or over at her friend Luna's house. The Lovegoods didn't have a convenient swimming hole, but if it got hot, the spring fed trough beside the road was big enough for all three children to play in and splash each other. It had the added bonus of having quite cool water flowing in constantly from the natural spring.
Harry was tempted to follow the flow from the trough to a grass lined, muddy hole that was pleasantly filled with water, but Ginny forbade it due to the mud. She was right, he reasoned. It would be hard to hide himself if he were covered in mud. Even so, playing in the mud just came naturally to boys, Harry included.
Percy's birthday passed more quietly than Ginny's, but Harry had to be fair that he had been more involved in Ginny's birthday, so he noticed hers more. Harry managed to stay incognito for much of August 22nd while a couple of Percy's friends joined the Weasley family for afternoon swimming and cake with dinner. According to Ginny, Percy received a lot of books, mostly on the qualities prefects and head-boys were expected to have, not anything she considered fun.
The morning of September 1st, Harry stayed hidden in Ginny's room as a matter of self preservation and concealment. The commotion in the rest of the house would have had someone bumping into him no matter how careful he tried to be. It wouldn't be long before the whole Weasley lot departed in a muggle car that Mr. Weasley had been fixing up for some time. Apparently it took quite a bit of magic to fix up such a car, as Harry had seen Mr. Weasley working on it for hours each weekend. Although, with all of the spell work the man had put on the car, Harry doubted if he should think of it as a muggle car any longer. Indeed, the Ford Anglia had no problem fitting eight Weasleys and all of the luggage for the four school age children, and no car he had ever seen could fit five across the back seat, not even his Uncle Vernon's latest company car. His uncle's oft bragged upon car would even had a problem with two people in the back seat, if one of those two people happened to be Harry's whale spawn of a cousin.
So Harry was a spectator to the Weasley confluence by the ear alone. He could hear footfalls go down the stairs thudding like domesticated elephants. He could hear footfalls come back up the stairs quickly. He could hear footfalls come back down the stairs slowly, one thump at a time, obviously burdened with extra weight. He could hear footfalls sprint back up the stairs two at a time. He could hear footfalls rapidly coming down the stairs in a staccato, like someone had run their hand down the keyboard of a piano from the extreme left to the extreme right. Under his cloak, Harry sat in the wooden rolling chair that complemented Ginny's desk and browsed the book on family traditions, more for a distraction than anything.
"Alright, Weasleys, lets get ready to go," Harry heard Ginny's dad speak loud enough to penetrate to Ginny's room. This caused a renewal of activity, this time the sounds were heading out through the back door, Harry estimated. It seemed the luggage had been gathered and was now heading to the car.
Before the family left, Ginny remembered something in her room, according to what she told her family, allowing her to rush up and give Harry a kiss on the cheek.
"I'll be back this afternoon. After we leave, go get yourself something to eat. I know you haven't eaten enough yet today, and there is some leftover bangers in the cold cupboard."
"Thanks, Ginny. I did have an apple from the drawer, but bangers sound good," he agreed. "Have a good time with your brothers before they leave."
Once Harry could see the car had made the road from the overgrown path leading to the Burrow, he pealed off his cloak and set off down the stairs. In the kitchen he found the food, just as promised, inside the spelled cupboard that preserved everything not yet eaten. He had just fixed his plate of bangers, with some bread and fruit, when the sounds from outside gained his attention. It sounded like a car was approaching the Burrow, which seemed impossible, as no car other than the Weasley's Anglia should be visiting, as far as Ginny had told him. A look out the window confirmed that it was the small blue car that the family left in, was coming back and parking just a short shot from the patchwork house.
From the passenger door popped the sixth year Weasley; Charlie. Harry scrambled as he saw the boy sprinting for the kitchen door. He placed his plate, filled with food, on the seat of one of the chairs, which he quickly pushed tight to the table. The knife he had used was dropped into the sink, and Harry himself found room in the cupboard under the sink. Luckily for him, he was small enough to hide for some time, dodged behind the potion bottle that cleaned the dishes and the bottle for cleaning the windows. Harry had seen both used, but never by hand, always with the flannels working seemingly on their own. Harry regretted for every second in the cramped space that he had carelessly left his invisibility cloak behind in Ginny's room, not thinking of someone forgetting something and the whole family turning back.
The kitchen door slammed open as someone, Charlie, ran through, yelling, "I just be a second, dad."
Harry stayed tucked under the sink, with no view of the outside world, listening to the boy's progress until he could hear no more from his position. He strained his ears for any sign, anything that would tell him it was safe to come out. For those minutes, fear clenched his heart, telling him that he would be discovered there, that day, and it would be completely the wrong time, with the rest of the family in a hurry, departing to school and then Arthur off to work. Harry had a sense of the right timing to reveal himself, and having it done involuntarily, when the family didn't have time to deal with him or his presence, was not the time. So, Harry shrunk back and made as little noise as he possibly could. Church mice would be heard before him.
In his mind, Harry could see that the right time was when the whole family was back together again, happy and relaxed. He knew, in the Dursley household, unsettling revelations were best dealt with when the adults had time and started calm, at least before they found out something shocking. In the Dursley household, it meant the difference between being locked in his cupboard for days, and being beaten and locked in his cupboard for days, nursing his bloody and bruised injuries. Despite his urging Ginny to reveal his presence, Harry still held the fear that he would find his treatment the same as he had grown used to, either at the hands of his new parents-in-law, or simply being sent back to the relatives that had treated him bad before. He had escaped once, he didn't think it could happen again. If he was sent back, it would be for good.
With bated breath, Harry heard Charlie's footfalls once again, descending the stairs, hammering through the kitchen, and out the back door, which protested his throwing it open with a bang against the outside wall.
"I got it!" Charlie yelled as he sprinted down the path that led from the kitchen. Harry couldn't hear anything from the direction of the car to ease his worry, but he assumed that they had left promptly to not be further late.
His heart still racing, Harry stayed under the sink long after he heard the last whisper of the car leaving. Only once he was confident, did he back out of the small space, careful not to upset the bottles and boxes stored beneath the sink. As soon as he was free, he looked around and, with a sigh of relief, sprinted up the stairs to Ginny's room to find his invisibility cloak. He kicked himself mentally with each step for forgetting such a simple, and now normal, measure to ensure his anonymity. Sliding the ethereal material over his head once again gave him some peace of mind and made him feel safe, already like a security blanket. Only once he was properly concealed, did he go back downstairs to finish his breakfast. Even then, despite the empty house, Harry decided that the safest thing he could do was sit quietly and read a book, even if it wasn't the most exciting thing in the world to do.
From what Ginny had told him, he could expect that it would be him leaving for school in two years, along with the youngest Weasley brother, Ron. Two years seemed a long time away, and Harry had no idea what the intervening time would do for him. Would it be kind or cruel. He could only hope for the best.
The week following the departure of Charlie, Percy, Fred and George found the Burrow being cleaned within an inch of its life. Harry was easily used to the cleaning, and helped out with whatever Ginny was doing, despite his non-existence in the household. Ginny and Ron, however, were not used to the level of cleaning that Mrs. Weasley insisted on. In years previous, Molly had thought her two youngest too young to give substantial help in the yearly ritual of cleaning the house after summer break was over. But, with Ron nine and Ginny eight, she felt they could do a much greater variety of chores than they had in the past. Besides, they were her only children left at home, and it was high time they learned an honest day's work, even if, in truth, she really could only call it a healthy morning's work each day. Ginny thought to protest that Ron had gotten off easy until he was nine while she was still just eight and had been doing more for the household all along, but Harry stopped her short, reasoning with her that it wouldn't be enough more for it to matter that much to them.
Ron, however, did protest; loudly and in ever more nasal of a whine. It finally came to a head in the house just a few days after their brothers left for Hogwarts. It would seem Ron had given the matter as much patience as he could muster, until there was none left and the situation had to be remedied.
"Come on mum," he argued. "All this sweeping, cleaning, scrubbing and polishing? It's girl's work. I can understand wanting Ginny to do it, she's a girl. She should be doing housework. She's been doing it for years so it's no big deal. I'm a boy and shouldn't have to do housework. I do the boy chores already. Cleaning is for girls."
While she let his steam run out, Mrs. Weasley was building quite an impressive head of her own steam. She silently became more and more incensed at her youngest boy as his argument continued. When he finished, she took a deep breath. If she opened her mouth right away, the first words would have done no good.
She considered what he said before leading off with a heated dressing down of the vane of, "How dare you..." and going decidedly down hill from there, from Ron's perspective. She chewed him up one side and down the other before deciding that he would be doing all of the chores for the month of September that Ginny would have to normally have done. For that month, Ginny only had to tidy her own room, not help with the wash or kitchen chores. Ron was correct, Ginny had been doing it for years and it was high time he saw the other side of the sickle.
This caused a small problem, once again, with Harry's wash, and how it was to get done. The only solution he and Ginny could think of was for Harry to do it himself after everyone else went to bed. The charms didn't really need to be done on the ground floor in the wash room where Molly had taught Ginny, after all. Harry would just wash whatever he had worn that day after he disrobed for bed. In practice, this worked so well that neither could say why they hadn't thought of it before. This way, there was never a pile of dirty boys clothing to be found in the youngest girl's room, with just a little diligence.
Ron's punishment looked like it would indeed last the entire month of September, which gave Ginny more free time than the previous years while the older boys were away at school. Harry didn't notice, however, having been in a far worse place at the time a year ago. To him the free time they both had was very similar to before September. Instead of chores as they performed over the summer, the second week of September brought local schooling for the youngest Weasleys. As was proper, Ginny was schooled separate from Ron; Ron with local boys, Ginny with local girls. This year Molly was taking responsibility for schooling the local wizarding family boys for Ottery St. Catchpole and the surrounding towns and hamlets. Mr. Lovegood would continue to school the local girls at his home. Harry, however, was included in the little witches' schooling as a matter of convenience and secrecy. He would continue to go with Ginny to the Lovegood cottage under his cloak and galaxy's protection, shedding them only when it seemed safe.
There wasn't a large contingent of young witches of magical families in the area, so the addition of another student, especially of the wizard variety, would be quickly noticed in the dining room come classroom. For Luna and Ginny it wouldn't be a problem for the obvious reasons. However, they were not the only little witches in the group. In fact, on the first day of the pre-Hogwarts schooling for the girls, Harry's presence raised a question from the only other pupil, the one Harry didn't know. She was taller than Harry, which was not surprising, given that Harry was just about the same height as Ginny. The girl, a brunette with short hair and a healthy colored face, was looking at Harry with a curious, inquisitive eye. She was trying to figure him out, it seemed to him. What she was trying to figure out, Harry didn't know. He wasn't that interesting to begin with, in his own opinion.
"Mr. Lovegood?" the girl asked from her seat at the Lovegood kitchen table. "I thought this schooling was for girls."
"It is, Sarah."
"But ... he isn't a girl. Who is he?" she asked with the normal tact of a ten year old girl that was decidedly not shy.
"Hmm?" Mr. Lovegood said as he turned from the board where he had been writing numbers for them to add and subtract. "What was that, Sarah?"
"I said that he isn't a girl, but he's here. Why?"
Harry and Ginny both sat up, just waiting without knowing what to do. She hadn't addressed either of them and no one had thought to introduce Harry, so they both just waited for Mr. Lovegood's answer.
"Ah, well," he said with a smile. "He is a special case. He couldn't live with his relatives any longer, and so he is living locally. I agreed that it was best if he took lessons with Ginny and Luna, as they're the only children he knows around the area."
"Sarah Fawcett, let me introduce you to our newest student, Harry Potter. I'm sorry I didn't think of introductions earlier. He was over here quite a bit over the summer, and so I just didn't think of it. Harry, please meet Sarah Fawcett. She and her parents live over the hill on the far side of the village."
At the mention of Harry's name, Sarah snapped around to look at him directly. She immediately shot her eyes to his forehead, where Harry knew his scar rested. He rarely thought of his scar, but when he did, it was one of his favorite things about himself. It made him different from his cousin and relatives, and with relatives like his, he had always hoped to be different, at least from them. He hadn't figured out the significance of that one difference when Ginny had told him about his fame. He hadn't known that his name being mentioned would have people looking for his prominent forehead and its decoration.
"You're Harry Potter?"
"And you don't live with your family anymore?"
"No, I couldn't. I like it better where I am now, though."
"Oh ... good," she said with finality and turned to the problems on the board. Harry wasn't sure the line of questioning was done, but at least it was done for now. Lukasha observed how the young witch dealt with the famous Boy-Who-Lived and was pleased that she took it all in a curious manner, but didn't hound the boy with questions. She let him be and got back to the lessons at hand.
With their new free time, they had to come up with something better to do than stare into each other's eyes adoringly. Deep in the woods they could have time to themselves, but there wasn't much to do in those times that they hadn't already done, at least that they could think of. Oh what the passing of years and years would do for the couple's imagination.
When the subject of another marriage ceremony came up, they were both in favor. The forming of bonds was fun for them and each bond brought them closer in some immeasurable way. The ceremonies available in their book were all interesting, but most required someone else to 'officiate', which apparently meant someone had to be there during the ceremony, sort of taking part in some way, besides just the two of them. It also apparently meant that they had to be something more than a common witch or wizard. It's not like they could just ask their friend Luna to officiate their wedding, could they?
"Mum," Ginny asked after Ron had left the breakfast table one day to see to the collection of the dirty laundry from the bedrooms. He left with a grumble, and only after his mum had nagged him and commanded him three times after he finished his third helping of eggs. "Can I use daddy's tools to make something?"
Molly wiped her wet hands while she observed her daughter. "What is it you want to make, dear?"
"An altar," Ginny answered, not seeing any reason to lie to her mum.
"To marry your invisible husband again?" Mrs. Weasley asked with an inward chuckle. When Ginny nodded, she continued, "But I thought you already married him once, your invisible husband."
"Well, I don't know anything about your father's tools, so you'll have to wait until I can talk to him about it."
"Okay, mum," Ginny said brightly before she grabbed an extra roll and skipped out of the house. Molly just shook her head and recalled when she was a little girl and fascinated by the concept of marriage, just like her little girl was now.
The new cleaning routine was not as pleasant for her youngest brother as it was for Ginny. He had to do more than two hours in chores each day; helping with the washing and the cleaning as well as his standing chores of weeding the yard and flinging garden gnomes. He never realized how much more time his sister must have spent on chores than he. After all, the yard weeds didn't need tending every day and the gnomes wouldn't make themselves a pest for at least three if he got them far enough into the neighboring field. They'd come back by the next day, but they didn't start to be a nuisance for days. The wash and cleaning, however, seemed to be a daily chore, even with just he, Ginny, Bill and his mum and dad to generate a mess. What was even worse, his mum was riding him harder now than she ever had before about keeping his own room tidy. His fantasy of slacking off on his room's cleanliness with his brother and roommate, Charlie, gone till Christmas were in serious jeopardy. Two weeks into his punishment and he couldn't hold it in any longer. He saw Ginny headed for the woods and ran to catch up with her.
"Ginny!" he called.
She stopped and turned, giving Harry's hand a squeeze in reassurance. "Yeah."
"What's with all these chores? You should be doing them. They're girl chores."
"I thought you knew why mum was punishing you. She hears you and she'll give you another fortnight of my chores, not that I would mind, just a warning."
"What'cha goin' to do, tell?"
"No," she smiled. "I'm going to enjoy the time off without chores."
Ron just seemed to growl at her statement and color somewhat in the cheeks. When he clenched his fists, Harry moved himself between Ron and Ginny, so the boy couldn't touch his wife. Harry had made himself a promise that no one would hurt Ginny and he would see it done.
Ginny, for her part, could tell that Harry was standing between the two, silent and invisible. She knew he was protecting her, which made her feel warm and happy in her chest. She just smiled at her brother, through her husband's invisible form, and said, "I thought you'd be happy to be learning spells and using a wand. Isn't that what you wanted over the summer, a wand?"
"And I told you then that I wasn't going to go look for work cleaning just to have a wand in my hand."
"Looks like you didn't have to look for it, it found you."
"At least when the month is over, I get to stop with the constant chores. You get them for years yet."
"They seem pretty easy to me," she goaded him. "Maybe I'm just better with a wand than you are."
It was obvious Ron took her claim as an affront. Harry would have found it amusing if the boy wasn't acting like a threat to his wife. That his brother-in-law had such arrogance in his wand skills when he hadn't had any experience was ridiculous, but Harry had seen the pride, and occasionally, in the extreme, arrogance, that was a part of each redhead brother. Be it major or minor, pride was a common factor in the Weasley family. Not that Harry thought it bad. The Weasleys were a great family and they had a lot to be proud about. Their pride in their values, for one thing, is what made them such a great family. Occasionally, though, one of their prides would take a walk to the wrong side of the line and turn into arrogance, as Ron seemed prone.
"Just watch," Ron jeered in return. "When you are still here cleaning the kitchen floor, I'll be at Hogwarts where I'll be able to use a wand for more than a scourgify. I'm a year ahead of you, so you'll never be as good as me at magic."
"Yeah, right, Ron. You'll just get distracted with chess, or if it's not that, it'll be gobstones, snaps or broom lessons. We'll see. And even a year behind, what makes you think that'll matter. I'll still be better with a wand."
"Whatever," Ron huffed before stalking off.
Harry turned and walked with Ginny into the woods far enough to be concealed from the house before they broke up laughing.
"What was Ron trying to do there?" Harry asked. "Prove himself to be a git? He should know he got in trouble all on his own."
"Yeah, it's not like it's my fault he can't think not to insult mum."
"He probably doesn't even know he insulted her, belittling housework like he did," Harry agreed.
"Yeah, he probably doesn't. You'd think he'd learn something, but he's still on about what's girl's work and what's boy's work. Not that he does much boy's work. He waits until mum tells him to do anything before it gets done."
"I've seen. Drives her up the walls."
"Well, my chores would be harder if you weren't here to help."
"Ginny," Molly addressed her daughter after she had, once again, gotten her youngest son to head off to do his long list of chores. If the boy would learn to do them early and without all of the whining and complaining, he would find they took much less of his time. "I spoke with your father. He said you could use his hand tools, if you are careful. I will be checking in on you, so no playing around irresponsibly. You may use the planks in your father's shed to build what you want."
"Thank you, mum," Ginny graced her mum with a giant smile before she hugged her and left the kitchen at full speed.
In Hogwarts Castle in Scotland, the instruments were still monitoring Harry Potter's feelings. He was still feeling happier and safer than they had ever monitored. Likewise, the wards surrounding his aunt and uncle's house had reported no hostile witches or wizards approaching at any time since they were installed. The composite picture was a rosy one indeed. For all that, the Headmaster was pleased.
However, someone who wasn't pleased was the minder that had been given her assignment when Harry was just a year and a half old. She was returning to her home where she had collected her pension since she was assigned. A widow, she accepted the assignment from her husband's mentor without question eight years previously, not worrying about what she would have to do. It wouldn't be hard work, after all. She had her late husband's pension to pay the bills. She lived near enough to her charge, her home provided by Albus Dumbledore. She had her kneazles crossbreeds and now she had a grandchild that she would visit occasionally and spoil rotten when she had the chance. Dumbledore didn't mind when she visited her daughter; after all, it made her look all the more genuine in the eyes of the neighbors. She wished she could spend more time with the new mother, but it wasn't to be helped.
In her duties of looking in on Harry, she had to be careful. She couldn't make it seem that she was too fond of the boy, else his wretched family would never let her near. She would never hurt him, but she still had no trouble making it seem like an unpleasant place for the boy to spend time. All it required to make a child think they are being tortured was unrelenting boredom. Mrs. Figg was no fool. She knew her stories and pictures of her kneazle crossbreeds were not exciting in the least to the young. Telling Harry the stories and showing him the pictures just served to enhance his boredom and, therefore convince the Dursleys that her place was the perfect place for their nephew. And, anyway, she was quite happy about her many cats.
Upon arriving at her home by floo, she quickly let her cats from their special carrier. The single box looked similar to ones other pensioners had in the neighborhood, only it had no problem keeping all of her finicky crossbreeds happy and healthy in it's magically expanded, well outfitted interior.
Considering how tired she was from her day already, she planned to check on her charge the next day rather than attempting to contact the Dursleys immediately. She had an ice box and a cupboard to fill, and asking Petunia for Harry's help would allow her extended time to gauge his health and well being. She knew Dumbledore was confident in Harry's upbringing and care, but, of course, the man had more faith in his instruments than she. Despite what she told him, he was convinced that whatever was happening to the boy could not be that bad, else his instruments would inform him. She had seen the same thing in her contact with the muggle world. Men trusting machines to tell them what they should be using their eyes to see. She would feel a lot better when she had her own eyes on the child.
Ginny's project, her altar, was coming to its final touches, to the excitement of both her and Harry. Of course, unknown to the rest of the family, Ginny had not been working on her own. Harry had been with her every step of the way, offering assistance and what knowledge he had. After all, he knew how to build a fence, so he knew all of the skills necessary to build such a piece of furniture.
Molly Weasley did look in on Ginny at different times, several times a day, just to make sure her daughter wasn't acting foolish with the tools. While she admired the work as a mother, she could admit that it was a piece of furniture as an eight year old could build it. It wouldn't win any awards, but it did look to be an altar. The lengths her daughter would go to for her pretend marriage ceremony easily outstripped what Molly had ever approached until her own wedding at more than a decade older than the girl was now. Why, who would think to build an altar for such a thing? When Molly was a child, she was content to marry the boy rag doll to the girl rag doll her grandfather and grandmother gifted her on her seventh birthday. They had declared that a girl must have both, a boy doll and a girl doll.
The morning after Mrs. Figg arrived back from visiting her daughter during the younger woman's first child birth and subsequent adaptation time, she gathered her grocery list and set off to ask Petunia for help from the woman's nephew. The trip was slow for a woman of Mrs. Figg's advanced age. Her joints were not as limber, and her muscles not as spry, as when she was herself a first time mother, so everything was at a sedate pace.
She pressed the doorbell button of Number Four Privet Drive. Inside she could hear the Dursley's attempt at high class, with their two tone bell chimes for their ringer, but, somehow, the effect fell flat. She had visited real manors and castles that had the genuine article, save the ones with no ringer or knocker, where a staff would greet a visitor at the door and announce their presence to the master of the house. No tacky bell would disturb the residents of the nicest domiciles in the Empire.
"Hello, Mrs. Figg," the mistress of the house answered when she opened the door. As normal, she had a look on her face as if she considered herself better than whomever inflicted her with their presence. Her nose in the air, she looked down on every other commoner she came across.
"Hello, dear," Arabella Figg offered a smile. "I was hoping your nephew, young Harry, could help me with my shopping this morning."
In the background she could hear electronic the beeps and pows that permeated the house whenever the woman's rotund son was home rather than terrorizing the neighborhood.
"Oh, well, I am afraid that's not possible," was the immediate answer, no room for doubt.
When Petunia Dursley herself answered the door, Mrs. Figg naturally assumed the boy must be out back weeding or tending the roses, so she proceeded on that assumption. "Well, if the boy is busy, I could delay my shopping until later. It is just too much for me to carry these days. Perhaps when he is done in your back garden he would be available?"
"No, I'm afraid you didn't understand me. The ungrateful little freak has done a runner. We do our best to provide for him and he runs away without so much as a thank you or a by your leave. Just disappeared."
"That's strange," Mrs. Figg said, thinking it not strange at all with the treatment he receives at the hands of his relatives.
"Not especially for him, the freak. Don't you remember? He's done it before."
"No, no, I can't say I do remember. Of course, the mind is not what it used to be."
"Well, he has tried to run before when he didn't like one chore or another."
"If you say so, dear. You would know better than I," Mrs. Figg feigned agreement. "I still have to go to the grocers. Perhaps young Dudley could help?"
"No, I am afraid that he is busy and can't possibly help you with your shopping."
From inside the house, Mrs. Figg could clearly hear a large electronic explosion from one of Dudley's games, followed by loud cursing of the sort that Mrs. Figg would have laid hands on her own child, had she used such language when she was a child. Obviously Mrs. Dursley had no interest in having her son help an elderly local neighbor, nor could she bother to offer any more convincing reasoning to cover her decision.
"Oh, well, perhaps another time."
After they exchanged pleasantries, Mrs. Figg left Mrs. Dursley and her lies behind. Mrs. Figg knew for certain her charge, Harry Potter, had never run away from his relatives house before. Although it was surprising he hadn't, it was still true; this was the first time Harry had run from home. It was suspicious to her, and that left only one thing she could do. She rushed home as fast as her old body would carry her.
Harry was finding school to be quite interesting. They learned reading and writing, which he had down pretty well, although his writing lessons did help him improve. They learned basic math and history, which, of the two, Harry was much more interested in the history that Mr. Lovegood was teaching. Their books were standard ones published for all wizarding children of their age, but Mr. Lovegood was very detailed in the storied he augmented the printed material with. Luna told them, during a break, that the stories he told didn't necessarily take place in this happening, but assured them that they all did in some happening, even if it wasn't the one they were experiencing now. This confused the other children, but, confused or not, Harry had learned to accept and trust the different perspective of his friend and her father.
The most useful of the lessons as his time learning passed was with practice wands. The sticks were shaped like the wands he and Ginny had found in his family's vault, only they weren't nearly as warm, and certainly they didn't tingle in the slightest at his touch. There was something there, but just not as much of something as with his family's old wands.
"Go ahead, wave them around," Mr. Lovegood told them.
Harry did just that, causing a small stream of colourless sparks to rain from the wand in his hand. It was less than than the better wands from the Potter vault, but more than the than the lessers. Exchanging a glance with Ginny, they quickly switched wands and tried again. Both of their wands emitted the same small fountain of sparks as before the switch, causing a small chuckle from their teacher.
"All of the practice wands are the same. Fairly neutral and rather low powered, so they will work for any witch, or wizard in this case. Wouldn't be enough to start Hogwarts with, but it'll be enough for now."
"Okay, Mr. Lovegood. What...?" Harry trailed off, not wanting to be rude.
"What are we going to do with them? We're going to learn wand movements, Harry. The others did this last year, so they can help you along."
Harry looked at the older girl, Sarah, and was unsure what help he could get from her. She was nice enough, but Harry was still basically shy and didn't talk to her much. This was her last year of prep before she started Hogwarts, just a year ahead of him, but she already seemed to know her work so much better than Harry. Shifting his gaze to Ginny, he knew he would be alright either with or without Sarah's help, with Ginny to help him..
"Dumbledore! Professor Dumbledore!" the fiery head yelled from the fireplace in the round stone office. "Where is he? Albus Dumbledore!"
Her cries were heard by several dozen portraits that contained the essence of men and women long passed, a quite disreputable looking old pointed hat, and a magnificently feathered, long neck bird on a golden perch. The portraits looked on and mumbled in curiosity, but none offered assistance. The hat was pulled from its musings on the twin redhead Gryffindor first years he had sorted a fortnight ago. He had been contemplating the mischief the two would get into over their academic careers at Hogwarts, especially if he could get the castle to make sure they found certain things. The ancient leather hat, preserved through magics long past the time when any would expect such a leather hat to exist, could do nothing other than what was already being done by the complex charms that must have been triggered to alerted the Headmaster to a visitor requesting him in his office. The bird, a phoenix, knew that such charms would not tell the Headmaster of the urgency it could hear in the visiting woman's voice. It decided to help.
In the great hall, the students enjoyed their lunch while they studied for their next class, finished one parchment or another, or simply talked with their friends. The lunch time meal was the most relaxed of the three, allowing for the houses to mingle to some extent. Few students took advantage of it, but it was allowed. Percy Weasley took some advantage of the relaxed atmosphere to sit next to a friend from Ravenclaw that made him smile in a way that he didn't understand completely. He didn't know if the same was true for her, but he knew he liked it, and at the moment, that was enough.
As was normal, the professors also attended the great hall for lunch, save the Divination Professor, who rarely ventured down from the north tower where she both conducted her classes and made her home. At the slightly raised fifth table, the professors were in their normal seats, Professor Snape at one end and Professor Vector at the other. However, lunch for everyone was interrupted when a flash of phoenix fire flared in front of the head table. The Headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, rose from his seat at the center of the table and held his arm up for his phoenix, Fawkes, to perch. The muted din in the hall dimmed to the whisper of student speculation. The teachers looked to their Head, silently questioning what the disturbance could be about.
Professor Dumbledore looked at the firebird perched on his arm directly in the eye and got the impression of some urgency connected with the notice from the charms that had already notified him of a visitor. He had known of the visitor, but assumed they could wait for some minutes while he finished his lunch duties. The message, or feeling, from his familiar told a different story. He received the feeling that he should not dally, that maybe the visitor could not wait.
"If you will excuse me," he said loud enough to be heard, but quiet enough to give the impression to the students that he was addressing the professors rather than students. "It seems that I have some business to attend to."
After a nod from his deputy, he patted his lips and mustache clean a final time and left the top table. His phoenix quickly took flight and vanished in a ball of pure flame. The hall stayed quiet until such time as the Headmaster departed, releasing the torrent of speculation from the students who had never before seen the Headmaster's fiery familiar and teachers who were curious as to what Fawkes could have communicated to the aged wizard. Were it times not that many years ago, times of deep fear before the You-Know-Who's defeat, Professor McGonagall might have needed to calm the students and teachers, but the muttering was curious in nature rather than something of a panic.
Immediately after the altar was completed and had been colored to Ginny and Harry's satisfaction, they carried it between them into the woods once they thought the coast to be clear and Mrs. Weasley wouldn't be looking. They had their normal spot in the woods set aside to place their new creation, but the thing would be too large for either of them to handle alone. They wanted to get it there right away, because they had a use for it before the day was through.
Even though they thought she would be otherwise busy, they were not completely correct in thinking Ginny's mum would be safely cleaning the living room at this particular time in the morning. Their judgment of timing was hampered by their lack of wrist watches, a circumstance that was normal in the wizarding world, especially among the young children. As such, their judgement was slightly off allowing Molly to see her daughter manhandling the finished piece, seemingly on her own, into the woods the girl had taken to disappearing into. Molly, ever curious and protective of her brood, set her cleaning aside to check on Ginny in her own stomping grounds.
The Headmaster made it to his office in rather better time than most would have guessed a man of his apparent age could. Still, no matter how fast, the woman waiting for his company was not a spry maiden herself, and kneeling with her head in a fire did not sit to make her temperament calm and pleasant.
"Headmaster!" she said as he entered the office.
"Arabella!" he said in his unsurprised, welcoming manner. "What a pleasant surprise! Please, come through."
"I think you should come here, Albus. Something has happened."
With a wave of his wand, Professor Dumbledore lifted his floo restriction and beckoned her through.
"I have a school full of students. Come through to my office and we'll see if I need to inform Minerva of my leaving."
Grudgingly, Arabella Figg pulled her head back and stood stiffly to her feet. If wizards were as smart as they thought they were, they'd install fireplaces at chest height so you could talk through them without nearly crippling yourself, she fumed to herself. She reached for the floo pot above the fireplace once again and tossed a large pinch into the yellow fire. She stepped into the newly green flames and called out, "Hogwarts Headmaster's Office."
In the woods behind the Burrow, Harry and Ginny Potter once again prepared to bond themselves in marriage, this time with the addition of an altar. They had no idea that, back at the house, someone was removing her apron, intending to follow her daughter into the same woods.
Thanks to Ronnie McMains for a quick review and correcting my spelling on the word 'altar'. Thanks also to Rebel Goddess for catching my 'wretched' mistake.