A/N: JK Rowling is the genius behind the characters. Without the characters, there would be nothing.
PART I: MISUSE OF MUGGLE ARTIFACT DEPARTMENT
Ron Weasley was having an interesting summer. He had managed to satisfy both of his parents by working twice a week at the Ministry of Magic with his father and spending the rest of his time at home, doing chores and practicing Quidditch. Ron hoped to try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team in the fall: Gryffindor did not have a keeper lined up and Ron had his eye on the position. All summer, on the days that he wasn't at the Ministry of Magic learning about Muggle affairs with his father, Ron could usually to be found in the woods behind his house trying to block enchanted balls in the air.
Ron had to admit that he was actually enjoying working at the Ministry with his father. Mostly he performed clerical tasks, but it was interesting to go to the Ministry twice a week and hear all the happenings of the British wizard world. He really felt as though he were in the middle of things. Also, he was allowed to practice magic "as it related to Ministry affairs." Usually Hogwarts students were forbidden to use magic during their holidays. So far he had only used magic to deliver memos and organize files, but still, it was cool that he had permission. Ron also had a new sort of respect for his father. Arthur Weasley was obviously well-respected at the Ministry and he worked hard. Ron felt much more grown-up than he had at the beginning of the summer. He looked more grown-up as well. He had grown several inches and due to the Quidditch practice, in addition to having twice as many freckles as usual, had filled out a bit. He now stood level with his father, and taller than all of his brothers. This was a very monumental event. It meant that he no longer fit into their old clothing and he had acquired some brand new clothes as a result. Everything he chose was blue and he had made a resolution to burn all of the maroon items in his closet as soon as he returned to school.
One Monday afternoon towards the end of the summer, Ron was at the Ministry, watching the Muggle-monitoring screen for misuse of magic alarms. Whenever an alert was sounded, Arthur Weasley would have to Apparate quickly and investigate. This day had been extremely quiet, when all of a sudden, a picture formed on the wall in front of him. It showed a large, cavernous room with a lot of what looked like tools around the sides. Four boys around Ron's age were standing against the walls looking very shocked. A set of drums was in one corner and some poles with bulbous looking devices were near the front of the room. In the center of the room, a guitar was spinning around and emitting a wonderful noise. Ron had never heard anything like it. It was music, but not music like he heard on the wizard radio. Ron sat mesmerized for a moment, until he remembered that perhaps the stunned look on the faces of the boys in the room was not normal.
"Dad! Come here and have a look at this!"
Arthur Weasley emerged from his office. His blue robes were worn in places, but he was rather tall and thin and walked with an air of dignity. He peered at the wall and grunted.
"Well, it looks like another guitar gone crazy. I wish we could find the wizard who keeps doing this. I'm sure that it has to be the same one. This place isn't too far from here – you want to come along and see what can be done? I think we can get there by Muggle-taxi fairly easily."
Ron smiled delightedly. Until now he had not been allowed to accompany his father on any of his forays into Muggle-land.
Mr. Weasley had been correct about the location. A ten-minute taxi ride deposited them at the house in question. The large room that Ron had observed on the alert screen turned out to be a garage, although a rather shabby looking Fiat was parked in the driveway because the garage was filled with gadgets. Ron thought his father might faint from joy. Arthur Weasley collected, among other things, Muggle plugs and adapters and was fascinated by electricity. The boys that Ron had watched earlier were still staring transfixed at the guitar. He could hear their conversation, although he really didn't understand it.
"Wow, I mean, like, that is so cool. Where'd you get that guitar?"
"At Nigel Zart's pawn shop. It was dirt cheap. I bet he'd kick himself if he knew what this could do! There must be a battery somewhere, the thing isn't even plugged in.
The guitar was making a noise that sounded like nothing Ron had ever heard before. It made him want to shake his head up and down in time to the music, or jump up and down. For some strange reason, despite the enjoyment he was receiving from the music, he also had an urge to take the guitar and smash it against a wall. Mr. Weasley was busy writing down something in his notebook and muttering "Nigel Zart…Nigel Zart…hmmm… doesn't sound familiar…."
"Play "Stairway to Heaven!" shouted one of the boys. "Bloody 'ell!" and "Awesome!" could be heard coming from the others as the guitar switched gears and began playing a rather delicate sounding melody.
"Come on then, Ron," said Mr. Weasley, taking out his wand, "pay attention. Watch closely." With that, Mr. Weasley pointed his wand at the guitar and uttered a spell Confuto restituo! at which point the guitar bounced over to the nearest chair, shuddered, and propped itself against the chair leg. "Right, let's go Ron." said Mr. Weasley briskly, turning to walk away.
"Wha…aren't you going to do a memory charm or anything like that?" asked Ron, confused.
"No, we generally don't bother with teenage boys. Often they're too embarrassed to tell anyone, or if they do, no one believes them.
For the rest of the day, Ron could think of little else but the boys in the garage and the guitar. It seemed that Muggle teenagers lived a completely different lifestyle than he did. He understood a bit why his father was so fascinated with Muggle objects. And the music! He had never heard music like that before. He wondered if Harry or Hermione knew much about Muggle music and made up his mind to write and ask them about it that evening.
At dinner that evening, Ron told his mother excitedly about their adventure during the day. Mrs. Weasley was surprised and relieved to see Ron take an active interest in something other than chess or Quidditch. When Ron finished his tale, Mr. Weasley cleared his throat and said,
"Well, Ron, you are lucky in that you have two good friends from Muggle households. If you're really interested in learning more about Muggle affairs, then why don't you see if you can spend the last two weeks of the holidays with Hermione? It would be educational for you, and I am sure that she would be happy to have you."
"Yes Ron," said Fred in a solumn voice, "and we all know that The Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle is your favorite comic book."
Ginny smothered a giggle.
"What about Harry?" asked Ron quickly. "Why can't I stay with him if I am going to stay with a Muggle family? At least Harry will know boy things to do and anyway, he has it much worse than Hermione and could do with some visitors."
Molly and Arthur Weasley exchanged worried glances. They obviously knew of a reason why Ron shouldn't visit Harry, but they weren't going to say it. Mrs. Weasley smiled at Ron and said, "Now, we know Harry is lonely there, but there's not much time left in the holidays. Remember, Harry probably doesn't lead a 'normal' Muggle life during the summer anyway. And you and Hermione are friends. I'm sure she'd love to have you. I'll send an owl to Mrs. Granger tonight."
"She's probably all tired out after her trip to Bulgaria." Muttered Ron crossly, stabbing a potato with his fork and stuffing the whole thing into his mouth.
Ron kept quiet during the rest of the meal, but just as they were clearing the table, a hoot told them that Pigwidgeon had returned from a journey. The tiny owl, a gift to Ron from Sirius Black, landed on Ron's shoulder and rubbed his beak against Ron's cheek. Pigwidgeon's affection for Ron was much more demonstrative than Ron cared for. Still, Ron rubbed Pig's beak and slowly untied the parcel of letters attached to her leg.
Ginny ran up to Ron, "I wrote to Hermione yesterday, so one of those is probably for me." Ron detached the letters and recognized Hermione's neat penmanship. He handed Ginny her letter. She opened it, scanned it quickly, and erupted into a fit of laughter.
In addition, Pigwidgeon carried a letter for Mrs. Weasley from Hermione's mother, and one addressed to him from Hermione.
Hello. Thank you for the letter last week. It sounds like your summer has been very interesting. I would love an opportunity to work at the Ministry! I hope that it is an educational experience and that you are learning lots. We just got back from Eastern Europe last week. It was a wonderful trip. Budapest was my favorite, there is a beautiful cathedral there called St. Steven's, and inside is the mummified hand of St. Steven himself! Okay, I wasn't quite excited about that, but I thought that you might find that interesting. We also visited Viktor Krum in Bulgaria. I don't think much of that country. It was a bit run down, but Viktor seems to like it.
I never thought I would say this, but now that I am back from our holiday, I'm a bit bored! Mum and Dad started working again and I am alone all day. I wish I had five brothers and a sister! I was thinking, do you think that your mum and dad would let you visit me for a week or two before school starts? If you come next week, we can have two full weeks until the start of school. We can meet up with your family and Harry at Diagon Alley a day or two early. Harry wrote me that you wanted to visit him but that the Dursleys weren't letting anyone visit, or letting him go anywhere. I guess you know that he isn't too lonely because Sirius has been to see him three times without his aunt and uncle knowing! It would probably be interesting for you to see how a Muggle family lives, after all of your work this summer.
Let me know if you want to come. I can show you how a telephone, record player and computer work.
"What does your letter say, Ron?" asked Mrs. Weasley with a smile.
"Hermione wants me to come visit for the last two weeks of the holiday. She's asked Harry as well, but he's not allowed. I guess I'll go then." Ron tried to affect an air of indifference.
"Yes, Mrs. Granger also extended an invitation. What an amazing coincidence! Well, great minds do think alike. I think it's a wonderful idea. You can go next Sunday, we'll get your father to put the Granger's on the list for Floo Powder for that day."
"Not a problem," added Mr. Weasley cheerfully. "I can take him, Molly. Mr. Granger promised to show me his Muggle dentist office the last time we met. I think I'll take him up on the offer."