Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and J.K. Rowling.
Author's Warning: major AU.
When Ginny was six years old, Uncle Gideon and Uncle Fabian stopped by the Burrow on the third day of Christmas break.
The whole family was in the kitchen when they arrived, blowing in through the door in a flurry of wind and snow and familiar laughter. “Molly,”
they shouted, and threw their arms about her, all at once, so that she was nearly smothered in their green tartan cloaks. “Arthur,” they said, and each shook his hand, only to then hug him anyway, eliciting a brief, startled Oof!
“Gideon,” said Dad, adjusting his glasses as he pulled himself free. “Fabian! We—we didn't expect—”
They shook hands with the boys, nodding and addressing each by name. When it came to Ginny's turn, they both exclaimed “Ginevra!” and kissed her on the cheek, leaving her with a vague impression of stubble, white teeth, and an indefinable odor of smoke and grown-up.
They'd brought trunks and trunks of wrapped and ribboned packages. George and Fred immediately set out to ransack them, looking hopefully for the sort of Christmas presents that their mother was always scolding her brothers for owling, but Uncle Gideon shook his head and said that would have to wait until Christmas.
“Not now, mates!” He picked Fred up in one arm, George in the other, and made as if to toss them both into the tree. “We've got something else for you today!”
At the table, from between Charlie and Dad, Bill raised an eyebrow. “Something else?” Less than six months away from graduating, he was becoming more and more adult all the time. Looking at him sitting there at table, Ginny could almost see the tall, lanky figure of the man he was becoming, all calm and thoughtfully narrowing looks.
Uncle Fabian smiled, but—Ginny noticed, would remember noticing for years afterward—his eyes were wary. “Rather, someone
Beside Ginny, her mother's hands stilled on a mug of hot chocolate.
“We're not here to stay,” said Uncle Gideon, righting the two boys and putting them down on their feet. “We actually came to invite you somewhere else.”
“Oh?” said Dad, somewhat cautiously. He'd mixed up another two mugs, was carrying them over.
“To Grimmauld Place,” said Uncle Fabian, taking the mug Dad handed him.
Ginny looked around as everyone went quiet. Mum's and Dad's faces had stiffened.
“What,” Ginny started to whisper, but Ron caught her eye and shook his head.
“Gideon,” said Mum, somewhat indignantly, “you know how we feel about the Blacks—”
“I know, Moll,” said Uncle Gideon, taking the chair beside her. “Personally, I couldn't agree with you more, but Dumbledore insisted. It's the only really secure place we have.”
Then, everyone's faces changed again, from frowns to questioning glances.
“Dumbledore?” said Dad, taken aback. “What is he—?”
“I suppose you both still remember,” said Uncle Fabian, from near the window, exaggeratedly casual, “September of '81?”
“Black September?” Mum was irritated. “How couldn't we? There were all those attacks, you were nearly—I mean, if it hadn't been for—”
Eyes widened. Mouths opened. A spoon went clattering to the floor.
Uncle Gideon's eyes and face were filled with light. Ginny would remember his expression, with awful and heart-clenching clarity, for the rest of her life.
“Yes,” he said. “Dumbledore's found him.”