Harry Potter and the Cracked Reservoir
Chapter 39: Just One Question
By Musings of Apathy
Chapter 39: Just One Question
Thank you to my Betas; Donalddeutsch, Cateagle and Sparky40sw.
Harry and Ginny had barely enjoyed an hour of peace on the train, when an unwelcome visitor interrupted them. They pushed apart from their embrace as the door to the compartment slammed open.
"Ah, Potty and the Weaslette," came the drawling, annoying voice from the open doorway. "I’d say that you’re defiling your station, but I wouldn’t know which of you to address. You really are the dregs of the wizarding world; the son of a Mudblood and the daughter that her Blood Traitor, Muggle Loving parents couldn’t afford. Have they finally decided to sell you off to a betrothal, Blood Traitor? Too bad that Potty’s Godfather’s not around anymore to approve the sale. He’d have given several galleons to your parents for a good roll for his Godson, I’m sure."
Throughout this, Harry’s temper had been burning shorter and shorter. By the end, Ginny was holding him back and having to remind herself why she would want to do such a thing. Only Harry’s respect for her prevented him from breaking her grasp, shortly followed by Malfoy’s jaw.
"Only your parents," Harry seethed, "would have to buy their son a girlfriend. Where’s Parkinson, Malfoy? Wouldn’t she stick around you after you lost your power in that snake pit? Aren’t you going to have your dark wedding with Pansy in her black wedding dress and you with your hood pulled tight over your head?"
Draco rumbled in anger. Beside him, his goons cracked their knuckles in threat.
"Shut up, Blood Traitor," Draco screamed. "You had better watch out for your slut. When we get back to Hogwarts, I’ll have full reign in the school. I can get her anywhere and at any time. She put me in trouble and I’m going to make sure she pays."
Harry’s wand arm flashed up, his wand pointing to the Slytherin’s throat. "I’d think by now, Draco, that your mother would be tired of having to take you to St. Mungo’s after each train ride to counter the consequences that your mouth earns for you."
Draco was still pulling his wand when Harry cast a series of spells, resulting in a loss of consciousness for the now green blob of goo with purple hair sticking out at every angle from what used to be his head. Harry quickly shifted his wand to the advancing Goyle. To his right, he could see Ginny covering Crabbe who was a bit slower, but stopped his advance just the same.
"If you know what’s good for you," Harry stated coldly to the goons, "You’ll just take this wanker out of my sight and make sure that his mother gets him to a good healer. If you advance on us, I’ll give you worse than I gave to the Ferret."
Crabbe and Goyle considered him for a second with evil intent, but soon did the sensible thing, and carted Draco away, using his robes as a sling.
Harry quickly closed and locked the compartment door before he and Ginny took each other into their arms and held on while they both shook in anger. Ron and Hermione found them somewhat calmer after their prefect rounds with just a half hour left to the trip. The remainder of the journey was calm in comparison to anything in Harry’s schooling career.
The gang exited the train onto platform 9 & 3/4 to see Mrs. Weasley being accompanied by the twins. Harry and Hermione hung back, letting the matron greet her children who she hadn’t seen for months. They both knew that they were like family, but it would never be the same.
"Is it the same with you and your parents?" Harry asked quietly of Hermione. "I know you’re an only child, but we haven’t discussed your home life much."
Hermione smiled, they both left their gazes on the mini-Weasley reunion. "Well, it’s naturally different, with just my parents and I, but it’s still good to be back with them each year."
"It must be hard then," Harry commiserated, "leaving for more and more of the summer each year."
Hermione turned serious, but didn’t frown. "It is hard, but it’s not just on my side. Summer is the season for professionals to continue their education and my parents are very respected in their field, you already know that they’re both dentists." She looked at him and continued on his nod affirmative. "Well, they seem to spend more time educating others than staying at home on their own practice. We get our time together and write each other a lot. It’s hard though. Our lives seem to be separating, going on different paths."
"I guess that’s normal for people and their parents," Harry said.
"Yeah," Hermione agreed, "I guess. It just started a lot earlier for us than most. It seems to have started when I got my letter."
"That first letter does seem to change lives," Harry offered.
"For the better, let’s hope," Hermione said.
"I think I can chalk one for the better column," Harry chuckled, "even with the Dark Idiot after me."
"I’m glad that you do see it as better," Hermione said.
"Oh, and you dears," boomed Mrs. Weasley moved to them with force, stopping their conversation, "It’ll be so good to see all of my children together under one roof again. And that includes you two. I may not be your birth mother," she said, "but you’re both my children anyway where it counts."
Harry and Hermione hugged the affectionate mother silently, each enjoying the near smother of a full Weasley hug.
"Come along, everyone," Mrs. Weasley said. "Time to get back to the Burrow. We have a family meeting. Something about settling all of this ridiculous pranking nonsense."
Harry started to the exit of the platform, but was suddenly encased with identical bookends.
"Yes, Harry," said one.
"We really must get back…" said the other.
"As the question really has been floating too long…"
"You need to put everyone out of their misery…"
"Me," they both said together.
"No, Gred, I’m going to be the winner."
"Beg to differ, Forge. â€˜Tis I who shall be the winner."
"I’m afraid you are wrong…"
"Guys," Harry said from between them. "Enough. We’re leaving now."
They arrived at the Burrow to a hail of hugs, handshakes and slaps on the back. They didn’t pause long, as they were ushered in. After a quick trip to their respective rooms, luggage stowed, they made their way back to the Weasley living room.
"Okay, everyone’s here," Arthur Weasley declared as he surveyed the collection of redheads Weasleys and two dark haired guests. The family had gathered in the living room of the Burrow for the long awaited news. "And as this family meeting was called by our male children, Molly, I will turn it over to our oldest," Mr. Weasley said to his wife.
She simply nodded with a broad smile. She was happy to have her whole family, including the two additions not born by her, in a family meeting once again, really for the first time with Harry and Hermione joining them.
Harry sat back and enjoyed the gathering of those he cared for. He knew that he was up in a short time to satisfy both the Weasley curiosity and their competitive nature. Until then he would hold Ginny and relax.
"Bill?" Mr. Weasley invited, handing the floor to his eldest.
Bill stood from his seat and walked to the front of the fireplace; the traditional platform for addressing a Weasley Family Meeting.
"Thanks, dad," Bill said. "To begin this meeting, I have just one question," he stated. "Harry, who is the victorious prankster in the first Weasley Family Prank Championship?"
With that question, Bill walked back to his vacant seat and motioned Harry to the place in front of the fireplace. Harry dutifully released Ginny from his arms and walked to the offered spot.
"Well, um," Harry began, "do you want me to just say who the winner is, or what?"
Molly Weasley answered for the whole family, "Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but as my youngest two don’t write nearly enough," she said with an accusing glare at the redheads in question, "I think that you need to tell us at least what each one of my sons did to you."
At the enthusiastic nods from his audience, Harry pulled his wand. "If I have to go through all of that, I better have a seat." He waved his wand and whispered the incantation, causing a plush forest green chair to materialize just to the right of the fire. He had barely sat when Ginny was standing in front of him, entreating him with her smile. With another wave, the chair became just wide enough for the two skinny teenagers to be very friendly with each other.
"What?" Ginny asked her family incredulously. "Just because Mum and Dad don’t cuddle," Ginny said. Hermione almost broke into laughter when she thought she heard Harry say quietly, "All evidence to the contrary." Ginny, however, didn’t take notice, "doesn’t mean I can’t get me some."
"Ginny!" her mother chastened. Her father responded, however, by pulling his wife into his side, where she leaned in to him, her outrage forgotten. Hermione, not one for missing a chance, sidled into Ron much the same way.
"All comfy?" Harry asked. Bill and Charlie just looked amused while Percy looked his normal prim and proper self.
"Gred?" Forge asked.
"Why didn’t we think of bringing cuddle partners to this gathering?"
"It appears that dear Harry has one-upped us once again."
"How did he one-up you before," Mrs. Weasley asked suspiciously.
"Ask your daughter…"
"About the ever lasting roses…"
"Beside her bed…"
Mrs. Weasley’s eyes flew open in surprise.
"It’s nothing bad, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said rapidly, heading off the eruption. "Besides, we’re getting off track."
Everyone settled with Molly trusting Harry and Ginny for the moment.
"Okay, pranks," Harry started again. "First to get me was Percy," Harry said looking at the prankster in question. "He hexed all of my boxer shorts to freeze whenever I thought of Ginny."
"Yes, I did," Percy said, "how did you remedy the situation. I have it on good authority that the charm couldn’t be broke."
"I didn’t even try to break the charm," Harry said. "I simply went commando."
The older brothers’ eyes went wide in comprehension, but Ron was hopeless. "Commando?"
"I went without, Ron," Harry said deadpan.
After a beat, comprehension adorned his face as well.
"Ewww," Ron exclaimed, "that’s just…ewwww."
"Anyway," Harry tried to ignore his friend, "Continuing on…I guess that it was Charlie next. He changed me into a dragon on the first Wednesday of school. I couldn’t break the curse, so I had to spend all day outside the school. Luckily, it ended before dinner."
"We all agreed, one day per prank," Charlie said. "Else one of us could take advantage and make a prank last so long that they would be the default winner. Just one day a piece."
"Oh," Harry said, "that makes sense."
"A dragon!?!" Molly asked.
"Yeah," Charlie said, "a Common Welsh Green."
"Oh, I didn’t know that," said Harry, "I never could see and didn’t ask, I guess. Fitting; I think that my family comes from Wales."
"Think?" asked Ron.
"Well, no one has ever told me much of my family history," Harry stated. "Seems I’ve got to know which questions to ask to get an answer from people that knew them, because nobody volunteers anything new about either family. This summer I’m going to go through my family vaults and see if there’re any books with a Potter family history in them. Cut to the chase."
The Weasley’s looked horrified. The Weasley family history was told and retold so many times to each generation that it was an ingrained part of their psyche’s, as much a part of their heritage as their red hair. None of them could imagine going through life without both the Weasley family knowledge and the stories of the Prewett family heritage.
"Come on," Harry said, "It’s not that bad. Considering my family vault number, there’s got to be history books in there, along with a lot of other interesting things. Remus hinted that there was a veritable library in there."
Hermione perked up and looked interested in helping him to explore the tomes. Harry smiled at her and gave a slight nod, settling her down with a satisfied grin.
"Harry," said Bill, "What is your vault number, if I might ask?"
"The main family one is number forty-two," Harry said, without concern for his privacy with this group, "but I think that I have some others in the low hundreds for family business."
Bill sat back awed. "That makes sense," he said. "Those are the oldest of vaults. They’re in the original caves dug by the goblins a couple of thousand years ago. Ancient magic and probably dragons guard that whole system. I hadn’t realized the Potter family was that old."
"Couldn’t the goblins have given the Potters the vault after another family vacated it?" Harry asked.
"No," Bill said simply before offering an explanation. "The first vaults, all of the ones in the old system, are owned by the family in question, only to be passed to the next head of the family. Even if they died out, the goblins could never release the vault to another family. It’s in their charter. I think that if the family has been extinct for five hundred years the bank will absorb the assets left and the vault will just melt into the surrounding rock like it was never there."
Harry blinked in surprise, as did many others.
"How many family vaults have gone?" Ginny asked.
"Don’t know," Bill said. "All information about that is restricted as part of the security measures for those vaults. The curses and ancient magic on that system makes the curse breaking that I did in Egypt seem like child’s play. It would take most of my career to map it out and break into there."
"Why don’t they use that kind of protection more often?" asked Percy, his curiosity captured. "It would make things much more secure."
"Things are secure enough," said Bill. "They can’t do that type of ancient magic again because it was done by the head goblins with the head of each of the families in question that received one of the original vaults. Nearly fifty wizards and twenty of the most powerful goblins combined their magic to seal the entire area. It has stretched over the millennia to include the rest of the vaults to a lesser extent, but the full strength and affect of the magic is only around the first caves and vaults. The goblins wouldn’t even contemplate changing anything because the magical pact that created the bank, with the cooperation of the great wizarding families, is also what protects vault number one, their own bank vault."
"Oh," Harry said, flabbergasted. "And I have one of those?"
Bill nodded, causing Harry to utter a stunned, "wow!"
Harry shook his head to clear the distracting thought. "Okay," he finally said, "So next was Ron’s prank just before our first Quidditch match. Since you were all there, I don’t think that I need tell you what happened," Harry said to the group.
"After that…" Harry was cut off.
"Wait," George said with a mischievous glint in his eye. "We only saw you until our little Gin-Gin here escorted a man every girl in the school, including herself, was lusting after out through the doors with no more than his boxers and wand to his name. I notice that you aren’t continuing that story."
"Noticed that did ya?" Harry grinned. "Anyway, the next prank…"
"But Harry," the other twin interrupted, "If you don’t tell us more then we’ll just assume the worst."
"Never assume the worst of your sister," Harry said with steel in his voice but an amused sparkle in his eye. "She happens to be a fine young woman. And I will have you know that she has not seen me in less than Ron himself provided for her viewing pleasure."
"Really," drawled George, "and what exactly has been reciprocated, my dear compatriot?"
"Fred, George," scolded Mrs. Weasley, "stop that this instant. We will leave private matters private." She turned to her daughter, "Young lady, perhaps we should talk later."
Harry and Ginny, both horrorstricken, gulped loudly.
"Anyway, moving along," Harry squeaked. He cleared his throat and tried again. "Moving along," he said in his regular nervous voice, "the next prank was by dear George. I suspect that only a few of you know what he did," Harry said accusingly. "I think that he did it in more out of impromptu inspiration, than careful planning. It seems that he tied together the looks that I was receiving from the female portion of the school," Harry said. Bill laughed lightly when Charlie whispered into his ear, "And some of the males if I saw right." Harry continued, having not heard the commentary, "and a comment from Ginny to her mother about some sort of spells," Harry continued, ignoring the deep blush of his suddenly shy girlfriend. "And decided that one certain portion of my wizarding upbringing had been lacking. However the remedy to this…situation wouldn’t normally been a prank, until you figure that he went to Professor McGonagall and conned her into giving me The Talk," Harry said, clearly pronouncing the words in capitol letters for the room. "And so, at his suggestion, not only did I receive The Talk before I could be discharged from my white linen prison from the previous day’s Quidditch accident, but I received it, not only from Professor McGonagall, who makes it a point to impress on each first year, within moments of entering the castle, that she is not a witch to be trifled with, but also accompanied by Madam Pomfrey and her evil, evil diagrams," Harry finished with a theatrical shudder for everyone to see.
Curiously enough, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley both had a very sympathetic look for Harry. Percy however was confused. "I don’t understand," Percy said. "How can diagrams be evil? I have found them quite useful when giving presentations."
"Percy," Harry sighed, "When you made the diagrams for your cauldron bottom presentation, did you make them muggle or did you act like a wizard about it and make them animated?"
Percy was cautious, as he had been teased mightily about that report. No one in his family seemed to take his work as seriously as it really deserved. He was safeguarding the wizarding consumer, after all. "I made them animated, of course."
"Okay," Harry said, tying it all together, "Now picture two stern witches giving a talk about sex to a young wizard using moving drawings to illustrate the salient points."
Suddenly all of the Weasley boys were glad they had received The Talk from their jovial father. George had realized that the prank would be good, but…wow.
"Ginny," Mrs. Weasley said, "Wasn’t that the same day we…"
"Yeah," Ginny said, "the same day we completed our conversation. Harry and I made it to the portrait at the same time with the same looks on our faces."
This revelation was met by silence. None of the males would make a comment after that.
Harry cleared his throat again. "Okay, where was I?" Harry asked with a false smile. "Oh yeah, Bill turned me into a male Veela."
Charlie was the one to ask the requisite question, "Harry, what, pray tell, are the effects of a male veela. I recall that a female veela causes intense attraction in all surrounding males, but what’s the difference with male veela?"
"Well, the difference," Hermione chimed in, "is not really in the veela themselves," she lectured, "it’s more in the response of the affected persons surrounding. When a male is affected by a female veela, he tends to use braggadocio and feats of daring to impress the veela in order to win her affection. However, when a female is affected by a male veela, she wins his affection in a more direct manner, through physical contact and kissing."
"So…" said one twin.
"Are you telling us…" said the other.
"That, ickle-Harrykins here…"
"Had to endure…"
"Two hundred witches…"
"Rubbing their hands and their…"
"Fred!" exclaimed Mrs. Weasley.
"All over him?"
Harry blinked at the tennis match.
Hermione continued for her friend, "No, most of them only stole a kiss before the veela magic rejected them."
"Some didn’t stop at a kiss," grumbled Harry.
"Hey," said Bill with a smile, "At least it only affected teenage girls."
"Hmmpm," Ron cleared his throat, "I know at least one firsty Gryffindor who took advantage of the situation and got a Boy-Who-Lived kiss while they were available."
The family chuckled at the brave anonymous girl who, apparently, got what she wanted.
"Okay, where were we this time?" Harry asked, growing uncomfortable, "Oh, yeah… the last prank was Fred’s," Harry groaned and shook his head. "I woke up one morning to find his freckles inches from my face. Eventually, I found in my first class; Transfiguration, that he had messed with my wand or my magic or something. Whenever I tried to cast a spell, all I got were bundles of flowers."
"Hmmpm," Fred said clearing his throat, "bouquets of roses."
"Anyway, yeah roses," Harry said, "Well, cut to the chase; Professor McGonagall gave me the day off from classes."
"Did you try giving it more power?" Bill asked.
"Oh, yeah he did!" Ron said with glee, "it was great! He filled the room with the bouquets. It turns out that that git, Malfoy…"
"Ron, language," Mrs. Weasley said.
"Did you say that for him saying git…" Fred said.
"Or for saying Malfoy?" George finished.
"Oh," Mrs. Weasley blustered, "quiet you two."
"Anyway," continued Ron, ignoring his brothers and mum. "Malfoy…"
"Ron, language," Fred imitated.
"…started sneezing," Ron soldiered on. "It seems that he was allergic and Pansy Parkinson had to take him to Madame Pomfrey. It was brilliant!"
"How in the world, did you change Harry’s magic like that?" asked Hermione.
"My dear Hermione…"
"Brand new to Weasley Wizard Wheezes."
"Floral Scented Wand Polish!"
"Guaranteed to produce rose bouquets for exactly twelve hours without waver!"
"Just apply it to your enemy’s wand…"
"And give him a customized potion…"
"And presto, he…"
"Will be smelling roses…"
"For half a day!"
Harry shook his head. "Doesn’t it bother you guys," Harry asked, "That your instructions will have to include the act of â€˜polishing your enemy’s wand’?"
Several snickers were accompanied Ginny hitting Harry’s shoulder and Hermione blushing.
"Fred, George," Mrs. Weasley said, "You can’t sell such a product. What would have happened to Harry if he had had to defend himself and his wand didn’t work? It is much too dangerous!"
"Oh, Harry would have had no problems, Mum," Fred said. "I stood watch all day and he was quite safe. Could have taken care of himself, he could. Isn’t that right Harry?"
"I hadn’t thought about that," Harry admitted, slightly mortified.
"I had you protected there, Harry," Fred said. "No worries."
Harry shook his head with a smile, "So that just leaves the final results. And the winner, with the most creative, the best use of unsuspecting accomplices, and the longest lasting consequences is…" Harry paused for dramatic effect, "George Weasley with The Talk. I will be shuddering after that one for years. I almost disqualified you, George, for the long lasting psychological trauma."
Harry pulled his wand and summoned a piece from his trunk upstairs. Catching the zooming object, Harry then presented it to George, who had misted up in a fit of over-dramatics. The small trophy was in the shape of a traditional trophy cup, but instead of the normal tacky gold color, this was in a lurid red marble that clashed horribly with George’s Weasley hair.
George stood and started to give his acceptance speech to his imaginary auditorium when he was struck down with flying pillows from all angles.
The family had a good night in the Burrow after the meeting concluded. Harry and Ginny made the rounds in discussions, telling her brothers and parents stories of their school-year to date. Ginny had to recount why she had everlasting roses beside her bed, and how that constituted Harry having bested the twins; altogether, a great evening. Harry was hopeful that he could find some time with Ginny, privately, when the others started to go to bed.
"Harry," Ginny said after they managed to get some alone time that evening. "How did you pick George’s prank over the others?"
"The voices in my head, Ginny," Harry said with a straight face. "Some wanted Percy or Charlie, more of them wanted Fred or Ron to win, but in the end, even though many wanted Bill to win, George had the most support by a large margin."
Ginny was looking at Harry wide eyed and stunned. "Voices, Harry?"
"In your head?" she clarified.
"Just this once. I needed their opinion of which prank was best. That’s all," he said. "They’re more of a comfort than anything."
"Oka-a-a-ay," she drawled, settling back.