Chapter Two - Contact
The Eighth Weasley - Chapter Two
Harry stirred drowsily, one hand stretching out across the bed that he and his wife shared. One eye opened when his finger skimmed over the cool sheet and he released a sigh, sitting up.
Once again, Ginny had woken, no doubt troubled by thoughts of the twin she never knew that she had.
Pushing the heavy patchwork blankets off his body, he swung out of the large bed and onto the wooden floor, one hand groping out across the bedside cabinet for his wand and his glasses.
Straightening up, he ran his fingers through his mussed hair, which always looked so much worse when he just got up, although quite a few people found that hard to believe, considering how wild it was on a day to day basis.
He could hear music, quiet music, from somewhere.
No doubt, the living-room.
Illuminating his wand with a mutter, he glanced around the room to make sure that Ginny definitely wasn’t there, his brow furrowing as he saw her thick, warm red dressing gown still draped over the end of the bed.
"For goodness’ sake, Ginny," he muttered to himself, picking up the warm robe. "You’ll catch your death of cold…"
Hauling his own dark green dressing down on, hers slung over his arm, he shuffled out into the cool hallway, spotting a glow from the living room a door down on the opposite side of the hall, the door of which was partially ajar.
He and his wife lived in a small bungalow, which had been a gift to them from the Ministry of Magic.
The official reason behind them having house was it was a ‘thank you’ present, but the real reason was that Ginny had been used as bait to trap several Death Eaters and had almost been killed.
Harry had been furious about it, but Ginny – when offered the nice little house they now shared – had said they might as well take it instead of griping.
One storey, with a fairly large kitchen, medium-sized, comfortable bedroom and study-cross-living room, they had settled in quickly, after their return from the Honeymoon and Harry was sure he had seen Ginny doodling plans for additional rooms, entitled ‘Harry Junior’s’ and Ginny Junior’s’.
Padding down the hall, the carpets soft against his feet, he opened the door to see a fire crackling quietly in the red brick hearth on the other side of the room. The large sofa hid much of the other side of the living room.
Fred and George had been the ones to produce it and it still occasionally swallowed their visitors whole, if Harry didn’t remember to cast the counter-charm on it before they sat down.
Quiet classical music was playing on the small stereo he insisted on having on the dresser that stood beside the fireplace, between photographs of their parents and beneath the picture they had taken at their wedding.
Crossing the room, he looked over the back of the couch, a sad smile coming to his face.
A small figure was sitting in front of the fire, her knees hugged up against her chest.
As always, she was sitting in front of the fire, gazing into the dancing flames.
She didn’t even look around. "I was thinking."
"So I could tell," he replied quietly, walking around the couch, which stretched from one side of the room to the other. Kneeling down, he wrapped her dressing gown around her shoulders. "You’re freezing."
"I’m okay," she muttered, staring at the flames.
"Something tells me that you’re not, love," Harry sighed, drawing her against his chest and kissing the top of her head. "You’ve been working yourself into a state all week. It’s not good for you."
"I just…its just that…" He wasn’t surprised when she uttered a quiet sob and curled against his chest. "Harry…I have a sister…I have a twin…how could I not know about her? How could I not feel her?"
Hugging her, rocking her soothingly, Harry pressed kisses to her temple and the top of her head. "You didn’t know, Ginny…your memory…you couldn’t know…"
"But I should have…there was always something missing…always…how could I not realise what it was?"
Lifting her face to his with one hand, Harry studied her, his thumb moving in circles on her cheek. She looked angry, confused and a little scared as well, blotches of red on her pale face. "Ginny, you can’t blame yourself. Your parents hid it from you, so you wouldn’t get hurt."
"What if she…she thinks we betrayed her? Because we didn’t remember her?"
Gentle fingers quieted her words. "Ginny, believe me. She won’t."
Harry gave her the smile that always drew a smile from her, no matter how sad she was feeling. "Because," he said his forehead resting lightly against hers. "I’m the famous Mister Harry Potter. I know all. I see all."
"You’re an arse is more like it," she sniffed, burrowing against him.
"Well, that too, but even you have to admit I’m a damn good looking arse."
Ginny laughed weakly, her head coming to rest beneath his chin, his arms wrapped around her body. "You think she’ll want to meet us, Harry?" she asked, her voice still shaking a little.
"I’m sure she will, love."
"It’s going to be one of those nights where I have to repeat everything five times at least before you believe me, isn’t it?"
His wife hiccupped quietly and sniffed again. "I always believe you, Harry," she whispered. "But I’ve never had to face the fact that I have a sister, who was stolen and now, she might be coming back…"
"If it helps, I haven’t had to do that either," Harry nuzzled her hair. "Can you imagine the poor girl who would have to deal with having me as a brother? God help her! At least your sister has you…"
"You’re being all mushy again."
Ginny looked up at him. "It’s weird."
"I know and that’s why I do it," he laughed, sliding his muscular arms under her body and, ignoring her squeal, scooping her up. "And now, Mrs Potter," he announced. "We are going back to bed."
"No ‘buts’, my dear Mrs Potter," he chastised, his eyes twinkling. "I have Quidditch practise at ten o’clock in the morning and I need you to be awake and ready to help me warm up before I leave."
Her arms around his neck, Ginny gave him a suspicious look. "Is that Quidditch player talk for we’re going to have wild and kinky sex?"
Green eyes crinkled with amusement. "Well, if you insist…"
Sitting cross-legged on the bed, Willow stared blankly down at the cushion that was lying in her lap. Twisting the gold fringe around her fingertip, she watched the tip of the digit turn an odd shade of purple.
"Will, you okay?" Standing at her mirror, Buffy was brushing dried grass and dirt from her slay-tangled hair. Shaking her blonde mane out behind her, she looked over at the red head . "Will? Anyone in?"
The red head looked up miserably. "You know when a boyfriend doesn't want to...you know...is that bad?"
"Hello?" Crossing the floor, her hands pulling her hair back into a ponytail, Buffy sat down on her friend’s bed. "Will , you're talking to Miss I-sleep-with-my-hunny-and-he-becomes-evil-demon-killer. I don't think I'm the best person to ask."
Willow sighed. "I know...its just...that weird Verruca-I-dance-like-a-ho and Oz...they have so much more in common that Oz and me do..."
"Oz is your faithful puppy, Will," The blonde squeezed the red head’s knee fondly. "Just as long as you never tell me you made him to beg...not that I'm saying you're a domina...er...that's evil double vampire badness! Shutting up...and did you know there's an owl at your window?"
Willow smiled faintly. "You don't have to talk crazy to try and distract me."
"I'm serious, Will!" Buffy pointed beyond her friend’s shoulder and through the glass. "There’s an owl sitting on the window ledge...its got something in its beak."
"Huh?" The witch sat up and looked at the window. Large, round, yellow eyes stared back at her unblinkingly from the tendrils of ivy spread over the ledge. A yellowish envelope was clutched in a vivid orange beak, swirling green writing faintly visible on the front.
Willow opened the window and curtains, letting the tawny owl hopped over the ledge. It dropped the envelope on the vacant mattress. Fluttering over to the sink, its claws clicked on the edge as it landed and looked at the basin expectantly.
"I think it's thirsty," Buffy hurried over the basin, running a little water into it. The owl hooted gratefully and dipped his beak into the water.
Willow, though, had picked up the envelope, turning it over. "Buffy, you know those books everyone has been talking about?"
"Harry Potter?" The Slayer was watching the owl.
"What was the name of the school in the book?"
The blonde looked over, shrugged. Holding out a hand to the bird on the sink, she laughed as the owl hopped onto it. "Hog...Hog-something..."
"Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?" The red head slowly sat down on the bed, staring at the crest emblazoned on the back of the envelope.
Buffy nodded, making for the fridge and raking through the aging student supplies until she found a piece of not-too-old meat. The bird accepted it and hooted again. "I think it likes me," she said cheerfully, "but what’s the deal with the Hog-thingie?"
"Can you...uh...get letters from fictional characters?"
"Is this a trick question?" The blonde looked over, rubbing the owl’s head. "It sounds like something Giles would ask before telling us Hansel and Gretel were really a freaky, lumpy, giant demon who made people paranoid about everything and tried to kill us all by burning us...oh, wait. That did happen..."
"I'm serious." Opening out the sheet of folded parchment, Willow stared at it. "Either I'm going crazy...er, or someone's doing a lot of work for a very good practical joke," She looked up at her friend hopefully. "I'm not going crazy, am I? Cos I don't want to go crazy, cos craziness usually means badness and badness isn't good and I don't not want to be good and I'm babbling again, aren't I which is good cos it means I'm not crazy cos I always babble...or does it mean I am crazy cos I’m babbling more than usual…?"
"Hey, hey...calm down," Buffy couldn't help smiling. Leaving the owl on the desk beside the refrigerator, feasting on a small dish of scraps, she came to Willow’s side, holding out her hand for the letter. "Let me have a look at it."
"But I'm not crazy?"
"Will, I would tell you if you were crazy."
Willow gave her a lop-sided grin. "Thanks."
"What are best friends for?" The blonde smoothed out the letter and started to read, "Dear Miss Rosenberg...sounds normal enough...I, Albus Dumbledore, have been selected to contact you, in regards to your magical...blah-blah-blah....dum-dum-dum...please contact us by return of owl, if you wish to know more. Well?"
"Are you going to write back?"
Willow gaped at her. "Are you serious? Its from a character from a fantasy book and if I write back I'm going to look very stupid...because if I'm even reading and believing it probably means I'm very stupid, doesn't it...?"
"Just write back for fun then," The Slayer grinned mischievously. "Ask 'Albus Dumbledore' to come and see you, about this matter of 'great personal import' and then you'll see if he's fictional or if he's just a really cute geek that I can date," The small owl fluttered across the room and landed on her shoulder. "What?" She gave the owl a shocked look. "I can’t date a geek?"
"Do you think that's a good idea?"
"Why not? What harm can it do?"
"Um...dated a demon computer because he sounded kinda neat..."
The Slayer nodded. "Uh…yeah...well, I bet this guy'll be different. I mean, he’s probably not even from around here, so what are the chances of him being all demony?" She made a hurrying gesture and nodded at the letter. "Write back. It'll take your mind off things, like Skanky-Ho."
"I guess..." Grabbing a pen off the bedside cabinet, she reached down and opened the drawer, withdrawing a sheet of paper. "Uh…what should I write?"
Buffy shrugged, raising her hand to bring the owl down to perch on her knee. It hooted softly, shifting from one clawed foot to the other. "You’re the one who always says all the smart stuff, Will. I just sit around and look cute and confused," She half-grinned. "Just ask Giles."
The red head laughed. "I guess so…" Leaning on the low desk, she started to write. "Okay, how does this sound…" She cleared her throat and read. "Dear Mister Dumbledore. I got your letter and I was wondering if you could tell me how you heard about me and what you want to meet me about." There was a pause, as she scribbled something else. "Please."
"That sounds okay," Bending to root around in the drawer of her own locker beside her bed, Buffy withdrew an unopened packet of white envelopes. "You want to make a good impression, right? Its not like I’m ever going to use these things." She pulled a face at the envelopes. "Ever."
Accepting one of the envelopes, Willow signed the letter, then slipped the piece of paper into the envelope and sealed it. "What address should I use? The School one? Or shall I just put his name on it or Sir or something?"
"His name and Hog-gie place’s address?"
Nodding, Willow scribbled the address on the front and awkwardly held out the letter to the owl on Buffy’s knee. "Uh…can you take this to Dumbledore for me? Please?"
The owl hooted and lifted the top of the envelope in its beak. Ruffling its feathers, it fluttered to the open window and paused on the sill. Spreading its wings, it launched itself out into the night air, Buffy and Willow watching it until it was out of sight.
"And now," The blonde turned to her friend, her eyes dancing. "I officially declare you crazy."
Willow groaned. "I knew I shouldn’t have sent the letter!"
"Too late now, Will," Buffy bounced towards her bed, snatching up her suede jacket and pulling it on. "Now, are you coming out with me to kill some slimy and disgusting creatures of the night? I need someone there to hear my smart one-liners before I kill ’em."
Willow looked down as Buffy hauled a long, gleaming sword out from under the bed and spun it in her hand with an expectant look at the red head. "Do I have any choice?"
Three nights had past since Willow had written back to Dumbledore. Seated in his office, in the top tower of Hogwarts, the old Wizard absently ran his fingers through his long beard as he read and re-read the lines.
His tawny owl was seated on its perch, watching him out of beady eyes. "Oh, don’t worry, old friend," he chuckled. "You can rest now. I don’t intend to send you off on anymore deliveries at this moment."
The owl gave a soft, grateful hoot, then tucked its head under its wing, assuming its favourite sleeping position.
For the present, Dumbledore had other concerns. Taking off his half-moon spectacles, he rubbed his eyes wearily, then re-read the letter from the girl who did not know that she was no more muggle than he was.
No doubt, she would think it a joke.
No doubt, it would sound crazy to announce that Harry Potter was, indeed, real and was her brother-in-law.
Placing the sheet of paper on the desk, he replaced his spectacles and steepled his fingers, deep in thought. He would have to proceed carefully, he knew. He didn’t want to scare the child and he did not want to isolate her from her own people, her friends and family, with the truth.
To write another letter was an option. However, corresponding with her, until she started to understand it was no joke would probably take months.
Another alternative was for the Weasleys to go and pay a visit, but with the increasing popularity of the books, a family of nine red heads travelling in the company of an old man with a long beard and wizard robes, and a young man with black hair and the infamous lightening scar would have screamed that something unusual was going on.
The final choice remained. It was the most favourable, and yet, he found himself longing to avoid it as well.
He could clearly recall the last time he had been forced to visit a site of such powerful mystical convergence, even after so many years. He had been so young, impetuous and daring when he had taken the challenge.
He had almost died because of his arrogance and, in that painful lesson, had learned never to underestimate the other side.
Even Voldemort had feared the places known as Hellmouths, for the reason that the dark powers that they held were ones that no mere Wizard or Witch could even dream of controlling, no matter how powerful they were.
Rising, Dumbledore paced across the richly carpet-lined floor of his study, his hands folded behind his back. His gaze drifted out of the rippled glass of the windows, the colours of a new dawn just creeping into the sky and adding the vividness of day to the castle.
Despite the beauty of the dawn, he couldn’t hold in a sigh, thinking of the place he would be travelling to soon.
It was a place where exiled dark wizards could hide, it was a place where creatures of the night ran wild, it was a place he had really wanted to avoid, ever since that run in with a creature who had arrogantly called himself ‘The Master’ on a trip through the town’s underground.
To deliberately go to El Boco Di Infierno was probably one of the worst things he could imagine himself doing, but if he was to find the missing Weasley and bring her back to her family.
For all he knew, she could be in danger of the deepest and most dark varieties. Darker even that Voldemort, darkness that could not be defeated as easily as the Dark Lord. What kind of Wizard would he be, if he simply left her there to suffer?
The old Wizard released another hearty sigh and returned to his desk, retrieving his old travelling carpet bag from beneath it. "Do you want to come along, Fawkes?" he addressed the drowsy Phoenix. It gave him a stare. "No? I didn’t think you would be as foolish as I am."
Packing several items, including his wands, Dumbledore made his way out of his office and down the spiral staircase, pausing only to leave a letter for Professor McGonogall on her desk. A carriage was waiting to carry him to Hogsmeade and from there...
Ah, the wonder of disapparation.