Disclaimer: It's J.K.'s.
Sundays at the Burrow were always very crowded and boisterous. The Weasleys who lived nearby often stopped by in the morning for the enormous Sunday lunch that was Molly Weasley's specialty.
In the tiny kitchen, Ginny was cutting a biscuit into tiny pieces for Aidan. To her left, Ron was shoveling food in his mouth while Hermione mulled over the Sunday Prophet, slowly sipping a cup of tea. Fred and a very pregnant Angelina were eating even more food than Ron, something Fred chalked up to pregnancy cravings. George was talking to his father about the current profit margins of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes.
Molly Weasley was in her element. She was cooking food before it was even asked for, and she seemed to know exactly what everyone wanted. She was even guessing Angelina's requests before she asked, most likely due to the fact that after six pregnancies Molly knew what pregnant women wanted.
A familiar crack resounded in the living room. Every one in the kitchen looked at each other, confused as to who else could be arriving. After a moment, everyone's heads turned to George.
After realizing that everyone was staring at him accusingly, George shouted indignantly, "One time! And it was months ago, let me remind you! I also now have a very regulated screening process, which includes the weeding out of psychotic, stalking witches!"
Everyone's heads swiveled to the doorframe where Albus Dumbledore stood. Fred cackled maniacally.
"New girlfriend, George?" George shot Fred and evil look.
"If only I could be counted among those numbers," Dumbledore said, his characteristic smile adorning his face.
Hermione looked the most concerned out of anyone. "Do you need something? Do you need me at Hogwarts? I can Apparate into Hogsmeade immediately. Is it something to do with the new protections we put up last month? Did they fall already? I had really assumed that this time I had gotten them correct, I highly doubt I could have failed again..."
Ron looked over at Hermione. Drawing his wand quickly he muttered, "Silencio!" While her voice had emptied her room, her anger quickly took it's place.
She turned on Ron quicker than any professional Seeker could turn on a Snitch. She was moving her mouth in large, exaggerated movements, as though she was screaming. She began to advance on Ron menacingly, who continued to back away from her. The two circled the kitchen, Ron grinning madly and Hermione silently screaming.
"What did you do, Ron?" Mrs. Weasley looked concerned while the rest of the Weasleys watched the scenario play out as none had heard Ron mutter the charm.
"Used a silencing charm. I do it when she won't shut up. They usually don't last very long though, because eventually she gets mad enough to use wordless magic to reverse it."
"Ronald Weasley!" Mrs. Weasley gave Ron a look that almost equaled Hermione's current facial expression while Ron merely shrugged, his grin still intact. Hermione and Ron were still circling the kitchen as Mrs. Weasley repealed the charm's effects on Hermione mid-scream.
"--KILL YOU!!!" Realizing that her voice had returned, Hermione took full advantage of it. "YOU KNOW I HATE IT WHEN YOU DO IT! WHY I EVER MARRIED SUCH AN IDIOTIC PRAT IS BEYOND ME!!! YOU ARE SO IMMATURE! IF YOU CANNOT STAND TO HEAR ME SPEAK YOU SHOULD NEVER HAVE DATED ME, YOU BLOODY GIT! I WILL KILL YOU!!!" She began to move in on him faster, her hands ahead of her as though she was about to strangle him.
"Now, Hermione, love. Don't be rash. Remember how we normally laugh it off?" Ron was beginning to get nervous and was finding it harder to avoid her in the small kitchen as his family was refusing to get out of the way of Hermione's murderous rampage.
"YOU laugh about it! I AM GOING TO MURDER YOU!" From the corner of the kitchen table Fred and George began giggling like mad as Fred brandished his wand and whispered something. Suddenly, Ron found that he couldn't move at all. He began to panic.
"Hermione, you don't want to kill me! Dumbledore's got important news for you! If you kill me, you'll be off to Azkaban and you'll never know what the news was all about!" As she came closer he shut his eyes tightly, preparing for the pain his wife was about to inflict on him.
Nothing happened. He opened one eye slightly to ascertain Hermione's location. She had stopped about a foot short of where he stood, stuck to the ground.
"I suppose you're right. But if you EVER use a silencing charm on me again, I swear to Merlin, Ronald Weasley..."
"Don't worry sweetheart, I'll only use a charm to make your voice louder from now on. It sounds like silver bells, honest." Hermione rolled her eyes at him. "Now could someone admit to hexing me here, and get rid of whatever you did to me?
The twins giggled and sprinted out of the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley sighed. She tried a few spells and as none worked she cried out, "Fred! George! You get back here and fix this! You are much too old for this nonsense!" And she went off in search of her mischief-loving twin sons.
Ron looked hopefully at Hermione. "You know how to get rid of this, don't you sweetheart?"
Hermione smiled sweetly from the seat she had taken at the table. "Of course I do. But you don't think you're getting off that easily, do you?"
Ron groaned. "You're just as evil as Fred and George. Remember those things we said four years ago? Vows I believe they're called?"
Hermione laughed. "Oh please, Ron. You lost that card the minute you cast the Silencing Charm. I think I'll leave you to stew for a bit. And just for good measure..." She whipped out her wand and silenced Ron. "Now you know how it feels." She smiled evilly at him and turned back to Dumbledore who had sat calmly at the table, enjoying the festivities.
"Can I get you anything? A cup of tea perhaps?" Ginny stood and advanced on the tea kettle.
"That would be lovely, thank you. Merlin, this boy's gotten big!" Dumbledore picked Aidan up and sat him on his lap. Aidan giggled and ran his fingers through Dumbledore's beard. "Would you like a candy, Aidan?"
"No," Aidan said clearly.
"Don't listen to that, he's just in that horrible two-year-old 'no' stage. He probably would love a candy," Ginny told Dumbledore as she set his tea in front of him.
"Ahhhh." Dumbledore fished a candy out of his pocket and gave it to Aidan, who greedily tore the packaging off of the candy.
"What do you say Aidan?" Ginny ruffled her son's hair.
"Fank oo," Aidan enunciated as he hopped off of Dumbledore's lap and ran into the other room.
"He'll be at Hogwarts before you know it," Dumbledore smiled at Ginny. "How are you doing?"
Ginny smiled brightly. "Good. Really. He loves it here and we're really very happy."
Dumbledore leaned back in his chair. "Good. Now, Ms. Granger don't pop a blood vessel. I'll explain why I am here once your family has reconvened as it concerns you all."
Hermione did not bother to hide her shock at this. However, her curiosity did compel her to free Ron from his magical entrapments. After she had, Ron leaned down to where she sat and tried to give a small kiss of gratitude, but she merely waved him off and told him to tell his mother he was free, so she could stop chasing the twins.
Arthur Weasley leaned over to Dumbledore. "Is this about what was discussed last month at our last meeting?"
Dumbledore smiled contentedly. "Precisely."
Fred, George, Ron and Mrs. Weasley re-entered the kitchen, all looking a little flushed. "What's this all about? Do you need a cup of tea, Dumbledore?" Mrs. Weasley attempted to retain her Sunday afternoon matriarchal glow.
"No thank you, Molly. Ginny made sure I did not go without." Molly smiled indulgently at Ginny. "Well, anyway, I should tell you why I am here since I must be leaving soon. No use beating around the bush, as it were, I feel obliged to tell you all that Harry Potter has returned to Britain."
There was a collective gasp around the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley's face has turned white. Angelina had instinctively rubbed her belly as if trying to transfer this information to her unborn children, while the usually identical goofy grins on the twins' faces were wiped clean. Mr. Weasley had no reaction, and it was clear he had known this would be happening soon. Hermione was fighting back tears and Ron's eyes widened. Ginny's face was an invisible mask.
Mrs. Weasley began to cry. "Is he alright?"
Dumbledore's smile faded a bit at this question. "He is alive," he said quietly.
"But what?" Hermione prodded him into saying more.
"There is not much I can say, I am sorry. As you are the only family he has in the world, I knew I had to mention it to you all. Before you ask Ron, no I cannot tell you where he is. And no, Molly, he has no intentions to see anyone. He will be here for at least a month, and I hope to turn him around a bit before then."
"Wait. So he's here for a month, won't see any of us, and then just going to leave?!" Hermione cried out, letting her tears roll down her face.
Ron grabbed her hand. "Of course that's not it Hermione. There's got to be more. There's got to be more," he directed this last sentence in a threatening tone, and glared at Dumbledore.
Dumbledore shook his slightly. "He's alive. We know where he is. He has agreed to stay for at least one month, at my request."
Ginny sat as still as stone. Everyone else in the kitchen had begun to go back to eating, or at least had stopped looking so shocked. However, Ginny just sat as still as a rock in her seat.
Dumbledore continued answering everyone's questions while Ginny sat still, listening. It did not sound as though Harry was doing very well.
Finally, Dumbledore pushed his seat back and excused himself. The Weasley kitchen was the most silent it had been since all the children had been in Hogwarts. Ginny stood.
"I think it's time for Aidan's nap." Ginny found Aidan on the floor of the living room playing with a Weasley Wizarding Wheezes toy wand. He was yawning and she did not have much of a problem coaxing him into his room for his nap.
Once he fell asleep, Ginny leaned against the railing of his crib watching him sleep. As she watched his chest rise and fall she thought about what Dumbledore had just told them.
Harry's back. Ginny found she could not help but feel a little bit resentful. Why had he come back now, when things were finally good? Where was he through all the aftermath?
Between the sleeping child who lie in front of her and the return of Harry, Ginny could not help but think of her late husband. If Harry had stayed would he be alive? If he had stayed would she have even gotten married in the first place? If he had stayed would her child have green eyes instead of warm brown ones?
Ginny shook her head of its thoughts. They were no good thinking them now, seven years later. All she knew is that she had no desire to see Harry Potter again.
Author's Note: This story is going really fast. I don't think any of the chapters have compared mechanically to the first though. I have found some major issues with my style on Chapters 2 and 3, I'm going to try to revise them and hopefully y'all will take a look back at them once I've done that. I've got some free time at the moment though, so I've been pounding out the chapters. After tomorrow my posting is definitely going to slow down until next week. Next week I have almost nothing to do, so it'll just be three days without.
calmhisteria: Have no fear, this story is well plotted. It's just moving along slow here at the beginning so I can set the stage for some major revelations, two of which will be in the next chapter which I'm hoping to have ready for posting tomorrow evening.