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 9
By: Musings of Apathy
Molly Weasley walked calmly through the wood behind her house, a very small basket hanging from her hand. She knew her daughter was within, somewhere along the trail she traveled; she had, after all, seen Ginny enter this particular path. A simple spell, common for mothers, kept her following the right path, even as it forked. She wasn't worried about reaching her destination with any speed or stealth. Her children knew she checked up on them on occasion, and she trusted and respected them enough to not pounce on them from the bushes. She would, after all, know if they had done anything wrong. A traditional mother's little helper spell let her know each time her little darlings hurt themselves. Really, she didn't worry, but it was still her duty to check on her children. At least she could keep up appearances, with a few small snacks and a letter from Charlie in the basket for her daughter.
"Now, what is it that has you so concerned, Arabella?" Albus said calmly, despite what had brought him to his office. He stood behind his desk, ready to sit in his chair, and motioned an offer for the elderly woman to sit in one of the guest chairs facing. "I would offer you tea, but what you have to say seems urgent."
"It is, Headmaster," Mrs. Figg said in a panicked, rushed tone. She ignored his offer of a chair , pacing back and forth, worrying the handle of her purse. "Harry's gone."
"Harry Potter isn't at the Dursley residence?" the Headmaster asked. He came from behind his desk to lean on the far side. If his guest would not be sitting, he shouldn't either. He looked to the silver spinning and puffing gadgets that dotted his shelves and saw nothing different than he had seen before. "I was sure he was alright. My instruments you see... Perhaps you should tell me everything."
"Well, I returned from Cynthia's yesterday afternoon," she told him. "I'm so sorry, Professor. I thought it would be alright to wait until today to go check on him. I brought my shopping list. Thought I'd ask Petunia to have young Harry assist me at the market. I played up the dottering old woman a bit to make sure, but when I got there she said Harry wasn't available to help. I asked if I could come back later when he wasn't busy, but she said he wasn't gardening in the back, but that he had done a runner. He left in the middle of the night near two months ago. What are we to do? He could be in danger."
"Are you completely certain?" Dumbledore asked. "My instruments don't indicate the approach of any wizards and that he feels safer and happier now than in the past."
"Well, there you go, Professor," Mrs. Figg said conclusively. "That proves he isn't at the Dursleys. He's never been exactly happy with his relatives. If he's happy and he feels safe, he can't be within reach of any of those people; his Uncle, his Aunt or his cousin. None of the three would stand for his happiness."
"That is indeed unfortunate, if what you say is true. But, perhaps the instruments are mistaken in his level of happiness," he reasoned. "Perhaps he was simply unavailable due to a punishment for some boyish misbehaving. After all, he is just nine. Who knows what all he could have done that would warrant him being restricted to his room."
"But why would Petunia tell me he had left?" Mrs. Figg asked.
"Merlin only knows," the Headmaster sighed. "Perhaps she thought he would have had too much of a good time during his punishment if she had allowed him to go along with. Who knows how the woman thinks. Your role may have been discovered."
"I doubt that, Professor," she replied. "I haven't ever seen Harry any more than slightly relieved to be at my house in all of the times I have sat for him. He doesn't seem to have a love for cats, at least not mine. I believe he has really done a runner. I think he's gone."
"That is most distressing," Dumbledore fretted. "Most distressing, indeed."
Disturbed by the news that the young boy was missing, as he was becoming convinced as well, a confused Headmaster allowed the elderly Mrs. Figg to go back through the floo. She asked that he come along as soon as he could. She would be checking with the neighbors, finding out what she could about the boy wizard's disappearance.
Before the green flame died down in the quieted office, Professor Dumbledore was out through the door proper, negotiating the spiraling stairs as quick as his long robes would allow. With the vast responsibility he carried, he couldn't just up and leave, at least not without notifying his deputy.
Molly's walk through the wood was beginning to make her worry. She hadn't come across her daughter yet, even with the use of her mum's tracking spell. The spell still insisted she go further into the woods along the same path she was traveling. With seven children, she learned long ago which spells she could trust to not lead her astray, and this was one of the better. Finally with her wand pointing her to a small clearing, Molly found her daughter.
"Ginny, what are you up to?" Molly called into the clearing.
Professor Dumbledore was through Mrs. Figg's floo in Little Whinging before the end of ten minutes. He had to be proud of his decision those years ago to appoint Minerva McGonagall his deputy. The witch was the best he had ever met, able to understand and adapt to whichever new situation she was faced with in moments. She hardly even had to be told he was going to Little Whinging to check on the Dursleys before she assured him she would keep the school well in control while he investigated Mr. Potter's disappearance. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he waited with dread for the stern woman to remind him of her opinion those nearly eight years ago. He couldn't dwell on that thought, however. She would remind him, he was sure, if for no other reason than to keep him humble. In their friendship, it seemed his deputy had taken on the role of keeping him from completely believing his own press.
His only pause before finally stepping through the floo was to transfigure his clothing to that of a well dressed muggle and do a switching spell to move his beard to a bust amongst the rest of his baubles. He rarely visited muggles, some trips to muggle shops on occasion, but it was enough to understand what would be acceptable attire. No fool, he knew his robes were garish even for the eccentric wizarding society.
Albus Dumbledore stepped from the floo at Mrs. Figg's house, on Magnolia Crescent, with nary a spot of smoot on his dark suit, a skill he had not mastered until his age reached the triple digits. Working with Nicholas Flamel had left him much to aspire to, still. The oldest man on Earth, by all reliable accounts, performed such control of magic as to make it seem natural.
Ginny and Harry had just finished their ceremony and had separated when Ginny's mum calmly walked into the clearing. They both immediately froze in shock. There was no way around it, they were discovered. The only saving grace that prevented her mum from entering the clearing full of rage, was that the ceremony they had just completed, the first with the new altar, had no words or other sounds. This ceremony was all intent as they looked deeply in each other's eyes and connected with their left hands and wand tips. That Ginny was still grasping a smooth, red wand, and Harry still had a natural, crooked wand, just made the entire scene all that more incriminating, they knew.
Petunia Dursley had had a bad feeling about this day from when she woke up. She refused to think that she would have anything so strange as intuition, much less anything like her sister had talked about; seeing the future indeed. No, she had none of that freakishness in her, nor would she ever.
Her feelings had not settled in the least when the old woman from around the corner who was normally willing to watch over the brat, good riddance, showed up at her door, asking about the whelp. Carry her groceries, she wanted. And then, when she was told Harry wasn't there anymore, she had the gall to suggest her precious Duddikins help her out, like the freak had done before. Well, Petunia would have none of that. Her precious had better things to do than help some pensioner to the store. This was his time to rest from school, the weekends. She wouldn't have her son taxed by such menial tasks. Her solid boy was destined for greater things, just like his father.
A knock at the door startled her, just as it had earlier when the old crone had come around. She looked through the peep to see an old man, well dressed, but with indecently long hair. Why a man who would attire himself in a well crafted suit would show such a deficit in character with such obscene hair was beyond her. Reluctantly, she opened the door half way.
"Hello, Petunia," the old man greeted her as soon as her face appeared. "How are you today?"
"Do I know you?" the housewife asked.
"Can't say we have met in a rather long time, but I believe we do know each other."
"Perhaps if you would permit me to come in, we could conduct our business in the privacy of your home?" he asked, looking directly in her eyes.
The woman looked left and right cautiously, as if to see twenty neighbors peeping from every fence and hedge. With a slightly frightened nod, she gestured him into her home.
"Now, who are you and what do you want?" she asked him after the necessities had been completed.
"I am Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. I was a friend of your sister and her husband. I believe you know of me, if not know me altogether."
"You're one of them. You're one of those freaks. You're the one who put that abomination with us, forced us to take him."
"This is most distressing. Where is Harry Potter?" the Headmaster asked, getting angry and upset.
"I don't have to tell you anything. Get out of my house!" she screamed shrilly at the wizard.
"Now, Petunia," the aged man said as he slowly pulled his wand from seemingly nowhere. "I am sure we can be reasonable about this."
The woman visibly shrank back from the angered wizard upon seeing his instrument, his weapon. "He's gone. He just up and disappeared one night a couple of months ago. That's all I can tell you."
"But where did he go? How did he leave? Why did he leave? Did someone take him? There are still so many questions that need answering."
"But I don't know anything else," Petunia assured him. "He just vanished one night without so much as a 'by your leave'. His door was locked and the house was locked. I don't know where he went. Must have been one of those damned freak things. I don't know anything else."
"This is most unfortunate," Dumbledore said with regret. His wand came up to point the woman in between the eyes. "I am very sorry, Petunia. Legilimens."
"Ginny, there you are, darling. What have you been doing?"
Ginny was near panicking inside her mind. She had been caught with her husband performing yet another wedding ceremony. She was still riding the high the bonding produced, the very same reason Ginny and Harry kept exploring new ways to expand their bond, was making it hard to be too sad or frightened about anything at the moment. Her years as the youngest of seven kicked in, allowing her to tell the greatest, and most repeated lie to her mum's question.
"Nothing, mum." A lie, just like every time a child says they are doing nothing.
"Well, you sure went to a lot of effort for nothing. When I was a little girl, I remember playing at marriage several times, although I usually married one of my little dollies."
Confused, Ginny said, "I'm sorry, mummy. I'm sorry I didn't marry one of my dollies."
Molly chuckled at her daughter's misunderstanding. "No, that's not what I meant. I just meant that I usually did it in my own house with a dolly, rather than a tree stump, an attractive one to be sure, but certainly different than a dolly."
"A tree stump?" Ginny asked, looking between Harry, who was frozen, petrified in fright, and her mum.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I've forgotten what it was like to pretend. A mighty fine husband you've found there, dear. I hope he'll take proper care of you."
Ginny was getting more and more confused. She could see Harry standing still on the far side of the altar, just as he had when her mum entered the clearing. Why, her mum's teasing made no sense. "Um, sure he does."
"Okay, dear. I can see you're well taken care of. I'm off to see to the roast. I brought you a little snack basket to tide you over until dinner and a letter from your brother Charlie. If you can pry yourself from your honeymoon, please join us. Don't forget you should answer your brother's letter."
"O-kay," Ginny answered now supremely confused, the basket of goodies hanging from her hand. She knew her mum was teasing her, but she didn't know exactly what just happened. Before she could contemplate it further, her mum was off back to the trail leading to the family home.
The series of events Dumbledore saw through his mind magic just confirmed what the Headmaster had been told from both Mrs. Figg, and strangely the woman before him, Mrs. Dursley. Harry had disappeared over the course of one night more than two months previous. No trace had been shown since the woman's blood nephew disappeared, not that the woman had looked in the slightest. Apparently the only changes in her routine the boy's disappearance necessitated was falsifying evidence of the boy's housing arrangements before calling the authorities, and shifting her schedule to make sure all of the chores were completed.
The Headmaster, of course, found the treatment the Dursleys poured on their nephew to be appalling. There was no doubt the couple found no love for their charge, but not even a man so experienced around children could have expected them to treat family so shoddily. He was equally sure their treatment of their own son was doing the boy no favors. Already Dudley Dursley was showing signs he would not be prepared for life as an adult, even ten years hence. He had enough experience as an educator to see the truth behind Petunia's overwhelming sense of pride in her son, that the boy would not make it through school with any sort of honors, at least as far as educational goals could be counted.
"I see," Dumbledore said after reviewing the woman's memories, which left her a bit cloudy in mind. "Petunia... Mrs. Dursley!"
With his shout, she came out of her mind magic induced stupor. "What is it you want? You can see he isn't here any longer. Your business here is done. You may leave post haste."
"Mrs. Dursley, you were given the simple task of taking in your sister's only son, an orphan, into your home and seeing to his care and growth. You seem to have failed in that. What do you have to say for yourself?"
"We, neither my husband nor myself, was asked if we even wanted the brat in our home. What right do you have to put him here without asking?"
"Madame, in my day, when a family was in need, help was provided no matter the rivalry between sisters, brothers or cousins. Can you not see your responsibility in this?"
"We provided the boy with clothes on his back, food in his belly and a good sense of his place in the world. We were responsible for nothing more."
"The only thing that should limit young Harry's place in the world is his own desire and hard work. With his family's standing, he could be anything from a humble cobbler to the leader of this land, whatever he chose."
"I shudder to picture a freak in such an important position. Leader indeed. I suppose he might lead your group of freaks, but who would care. Long as him and those like him stay away from the good, upstanding people that lead this great nation, the normal ones of us in this nation, I could care less who your kind picks to tell them what to do."
"What in the world just happened?" Ginny asked her husband after her mum was out of earshot. She was very confused about what could have caused her mum to act so strange.
"You don't suppose she really did just see me as a tree stump, do you?" Harry asked.
"I don't see how," Ginny said. "You were right there."
"Maybe, with the necklace messing with how she noticed me," Harry reasoned, "and with this wand looking like a little branch, maybe the magic or something made her think I was a stump."
"That's just..." she said, screwing her face up to wrap her mind around the strange happenings and theories. "I don't think I'll ever understand magic. It doesn't seem it'll ever be simple."
"I don't think it's supposed to be simple or understood. If it was, it wouldn't be magic."
"I'll have you know that there have been several ministers and dignitaries throughout the history of Britain who possessed a great amount of skill in the magical arts," Dumbledore educated her. "As history has it, they were quite accomplished in their roles in government, as well. It has only been in the last couple of centuries that the separation between our worlds has become more pronounced."
"I don't know what you're on about, but if we're separate from you freaks," Petunia spat, "I'll be that much happier. I think it time you left. There is nothing more for you here."
"There is still the question of the disposition of young Harry if he is found," Dumbledore soldiered on.
"Do with him what you will," she instructed him, "he left this house of his own choosing and as far as I am concerned, he can stay gone."
"You are his only living relative," he reminded her. "Neither his father's family, nor you own, was ever a large one, and the recent times have hit both hard, although a long life was never a Potter trait. They have greatly tended to make their impression on the world grand and early in life. Thus, you are the only one left to care for him."
"I told you before," she argued, "he is not wanted here."
"Perhaps if I were to address some of your concerns," the Headmaster bargained, "we could come to an arrangement that would provide for his satisfactory care. Maybe a discussion over a cup of tea?"
"Do you suppose the necklace would work that well on the others?" Harry asked, chomping into a carrot.
Ginny contemplated the thought. "I don't know, but we can't risk it." She liked the cheese and crackers her mother included. The cheese was a good sort, with a bit of a tooth to its flavor.
"I know, you're right," Harry agreed. They lapsed into a comfortable silence. "Did you like that ceremony?"
Ginny smiled at him beautifully. "Very much. It was weird with my mum there while I could still feel the magic, but it was very nice."
"I'm glad. I enjoyed it too. I was just too frozen when your mum came to hug or kiss you like normal. I hope you weren't too disappointed by that."
"It would have been great, but I know neither of us could help it," Ginny said. "Besides, you'll hold me tonight, and that's good too."
Harry let that go without response.
"Shall we read the letter from Charlie?" Ginny asked.
"It's your letter, Ginny. I'd love to hear what he had to say, though."
Ginny unfolded the parchment after breaking the wax seal. Like most children, she didn't know to appreciate her mum for all that she was and all the trust she gave. The fact that the wax was still sealed didn't register as having an alternative, one where her parents might have not trusted her and would open and read her mail before she could. One day, she might learn that not all parents were as good as hers, but hopefully it would be many years before that life's little reality reared its ugly head.
"Dear Ginny," she read.
"We are bound for our first trip to a preserve this coming weekend. Our professor tells us the first will be a trip to Egypt's Nile river delta where there is a colony of Sphinxes. This is a real treat. Sphinxes are very intelligent, more intelligent than I will ever be I am afraid, and were gracious enough to allow our class to visit. For the last two weeks we have been studying their practices and cultures. It appears they work with the wizarding world to protect their colonies, as their magical abilities are not the sort that would protect and hide them from muggles, which has led to the cooperative nature of their agreement. Wizards called Rangers are employed to work with the sphinxes and to maintain wards around their colony that have managed to keep the local muggles in the dark as to the continued existence of the noble magical creatures. Did you know that the sphinx was so revered by the ancient Egyptians that they built a tomb for a respected sphinx advisor to Pharaoh Khafra around 4500 years ago? The monument still is around to this day. According to wizarding history, the muggles have never unearthed the burial chamber, even though the magics protecting it have never been renewed. Can you imagine if the muggles came across that mummy?
"But, the reason I am writing to you is somewhat confusing. I checked my supplies for the upcoming trip, and found the money sack you gave me. I admit, when you said you had been saving your allowance, I pictured a nice collection of knuts and sickles. What I found, though, was a bag full of gold, as I'm sure you know. You didn't do anything silly like dip into some sort of dowry savings mum and dad set aside, did you? I don't want to take any money that will affect your future, Firefly. If the gold was from a dowry sum, you will need that money when you've attracted a great wizard. You know tradition as well as I. If the money wasn't from that, where did you get it? I can't imagine any of our brothers having such an amount, either in Gringotts or in a stash around the house, not that I would dream in a thousand years you would take from one of our brothers. I would never think you had stolen for this money.
"Please, I haven't said anything to mum and dad, but you have to tell me where you got the money. We are Weasleys and we are proud and upstanding. I await your owl. I leave by portkey before sunrise Saturday, so make your answer fast.
Ginny set the letter down on the grass they were both kneeling in. Both her and Harry were shocked and a little scared. They had been concealing him for so long, they were a bit panicked at being found out. They felt a tightness in their chests and their hearts clenched.
"This is not good," Harry said. "What are we going to do? I don't know what we can do."
"I don't know either, Harry," Ginny said. "We have to come up with a way to make Charlie happy. We can't tell him that the money was yours, though. That would just bring too much up."
"It's your money too, Ginny," Harry insisted. "We'll have to think of something."
"I know," Ginny said. She lapsed into silent thought for a moment. Harry could tell that, whatever she was thinking, it wasn't easy for her. "I can't lie to him. I can't lie to my brother."
"I'm sure we won't have to," Harry assured her. "We'll tell him the whole truth if we have to."
Harry pulled Ginny in and held her tight. Neither had the age or wisdom to realize that the deception they were perpetrating, even if not an outright lie, was what was causing their grief. If they were lucky, they would learn their lesson while they were still children, and not perpetrate lies in the future. But, for them, at that moment, they didn't yet know how much simpler and happier life could be without having to hold a deception.
Professor Dumbledore arrived at Gringotts after coming to a satisfactory understanding with Petunia Dursley. The woman wouldn't be convinced to act in the best interest of her nephew for altruistic motivations, but there were other incentives for her to act as a good aunt should. And, perhaps, if her son was provided with a good education at university once he was grown, the world would be a better place. He could think of no greater good.
"May I speak with the head of accounts, please," Professor Dumbledore asked of the teller once he was able to reach the front of the queue. The goblins unsettled the old professor quite too easily. His experiences with them proved they were none to be tangled with. They held little respect for wizards or their accomplishments. The magic wielded by a goblin accomplished all of the things important to a goblin, and little else would registered to them as of consideration.
"If he will see you, you may. Wait over there," the teller said with a sharp pointed finger. The teller made another entry into his leather bound ledger, ignoring any other actions from the Headmaster. He, regally, went to where the teller indicated. Before long, not even a quarter hour, he was ushered through the lobby to more administrative parts of the bank. He had too many interactions with the bank to be surprised, but in all of his years he had never been able to detect a goblin's magic. He hadn't seen the teller indicate to anyone what he needed, but here he was, being ushered into an office labeled 'Head of Accounts'.
"What is it?" he was gruffly asked immediately upon entering the office. The goblin never looked up from his ledger which he was constantly making entries in, the purpose of which, Dumbledore had no idea.
"A young orphan has gone missing from his guardian's care," Dumbledore answered. "I was hoping Gringotts could assist in locating the boy."
"Most unusual," the goblin growled. "This isn't something that would normally involve Gringotts. After all, we are a bank, not a locator service."
"I am merely looking for information," Dumbledore said. "It could all total up to finding the boy safely."
"Ah, but information is a very prized and cherished commodity," the goblin reasoned. "Gringotts has not risen to the trust it has with customers by sharing its clients' information with other members of the public."
"But I am the Supreme Mugwump," Dumbledore argued. "Surely I have the ability and duty to investigate a matter which involves the safety of one of the wizarding world's underage citizenry?"
"Very well," the goblin grumbled unwillingly. "Who is the child who has gone missing?"
"Harry James Potter," the Headmaster answered, "son of Lily and James Potter."
"Let me see," the goblin said as he turned to the latter part of his ledger. A few more thumbed pages and he was apparently where he wanted to be, as he started reading, guiding his way down the page with the feather tips of his quill. "So, that would mean you are inquiring about activity on..."
"Harry Potter's trust vault, number 687," the Headmaster answered the obvious prompt.
With another flip of the page, the goblin reviewed one more thing before snapping the large book shut. "It seems there has been no activity from that vault since its original deposit. It would seem he has not accessed his trust account. Is there something else I can help you with?"
Professor Dumbledore hadn't expected to find the boy had run from his muggle relatives and happened to find his parents' legacy in the wizarding world's bank, but he had hoped. It was just the first of many leads he had to investigate. A quick look at his watch, with the planets circling the center, showed him he was truly out of time this day for business away from school grounds. Perhaps he could find some quiet assistance in the future.
"No," he said as he rose from the chair. "I believe that is all you can help me with. Thank you for your time."
The Headmaster walked down the hall, back to the lobby without a backwards glance. Had he looked to where he had come, rather than doggedly to where he was headed, he might have seen the goblin he was just dealing with moving in the opposite direction with a smile on his face and a bounce to his step that would have been rather startling from a goblin, who are not known to be the most jovial of races.
Harry and Ginny managed to not let the gravity of Charlie's letter weigh them down for the rest of the afternoon. They still managed to have some fun, playing in the forest. They didn't perform any other marriage ceremonies, but there was plenty of running and laughing. A child's mind is wonderfully able to get on with what is important to them, namely play, but Harry and Ginny were not to be completely distracted. They both knew they still needed a solution, something to tell Charlie that would keep their secret but not be a lie.
"Maybe we could just tell him," Harry said. "Do you think he would keep our secret?"
Ginny worried her lower lip. She loved her brother, but she had learned that brothers that much older had different ideas of what needed to be told to their parents. Charlie was no tattle-tale, running off on every little thing, but she knew he would tell her parents about anything he thought they needed to know. She was afraid her being married and her husband living in the house would be one thing he would think they should know.
"No, I think he'd tell," Ginny answered. "He'd want them to know. He wouldn't be like Grandmum. Least she was willing to keep our secret."
Harry's face lit up with an idea. "You don't suppose we could write to your grandmum and ask her for help?"
Ginny thought about it for a moment. "I think you might be right. Maybe she could help."
"Did you bring any parchment and ink?" Harry asked.
"No," Ginny answered. "We'll have to write her tonight after dinner."
"Okay," Harry said. He enveloped her in a hug and told her everything would be alright.
Headmaster Dumbledore arrived back at Hogwarts just before the dinner service was to start. He considered the timing to be quite fortuitous. He could sit and pass word through the other teachers at the table to gather after the students were dismissed for a staff meeting. Harry being missing isn't something he wanted to go shouting to the Prophet at this moment, but he would need more help than just Arabella Figg, and he wasn't prepared to gather the old crowd just yet.
Harry and Ginny left the clearing for home well before the risk of sunset. They knew her mum was joking when she all but gave permission for her to stay out. Ginny knew everyone had to be at the dinner table when the sun set, no later. Harry put his arm around her shoulder as they walked back to the Burrow, his cloak and galaxy firmly in place for protection. They still had thought of no real solution to Charlie's curiosity, but they knew they needed to owl him within a few days or trouble would just be starting.
They lapsed into silence for the remainder of the walk back. Behind the broom shed, they shared a child-like kiss, their lips puckered in a parody of an adult kiss. Perhaps in time they would learn how kisses are meant to be shared between husband and wife. Perhaps when they grew older.
Special thanks to Nyeshet for correcting an annoying homophone and a word substitution. Corrections deserve appreciation.