Disclaimer: Not mine.
Lilly Luna sat on the pavement with her thumb planted firmly in her mouth, sniffing her nose and wiping her tears and snot on an already dirty sleeve. Mum would kill her. She knew she would, just as she knew Dad would kill Jay-Jay for loosing her. The only one that would get off scot-free was Al and that wasn't fair. This was his fault. She opened her eyes, remembering Papa Weasley's stern warning to Al about not hurting his sister and felt suddenly better. As long as Gram didn't butt in, he would get his too.
"Honey? Are you lost?" An elderly woman squatted down next to her, concern etched on her face, smiling at the little urchin whose clothing was filthy and had a black feather boa wrapped around her neck. "Why don't we go find a nice policeman?"
Lily shook her head adamantly and scooted further back from the woman, unsure what a policeman was, but not liking the sound of it. The fact that there were nice what-ever-mans, alerted her to the fact that there must also be not-so-nice-what-ever-mans.
"Now, now, come along." The woman tugged her arm, encouraging her to stand up. "Maybe we can find your Mum."
Lily let out a fresh wail. Mum was the last person she wanted right now. Even Dad would be soft enough to hug her tight before he laid into her, but Mum was rough. She was tough in the Gram way, but with none of the softness underneath, and if Mum found her pockets stuffed with sweets she would really be angry.
"I know, honey, I want to find her too," the woman purred, holding her hand as she stood uncertainly, looking around for some franticly concerned woman. "Was she going into one of the shops?"
Lily shook her head and looked up at the large tall women, taking in her quilted jacket and button down shirt, wondering why she dressed that way. Raising her finger, she pointed to the lady's wrist watch, touched it lightly and startled back.
"Like that? Well, here…" she slipped off the cheap watch, pushed it over Lily's hand, up to the wrist and then shortened the band as tight as she could. "Careful…it will slip right off."
"What is it?" Lily asked around her thumb.
"Haven't you ever seen a watch?" The woman laughed. "No, I guess not. Kids today carry cell phones, and those pod things. Now, why don't we start by you telling me your name?"
Lily shook her head, scrunched up her face and let out another wail. Her name? Her name was a secret. Mum said not to tell strangers her name or she would tan her hide. Making this a big secret, one the woman wanted to know, attesting to the fact Lily had already figured out by the stranger's odd dress. She was a bad woman.
"Hush, honey, its okay," the woman cooed, looking around at the crowd, hoping to spot a blue uniform and pass the crying kid to the police. At last, she lifted her arm, and sighed in relief as a young officer jogged across the road to her.
"What have we here?" He went down on one knee, putting himself eye level with the child.
"A witch," Lily responded proudly, feeling a little safer at seeing a uniform, not unlike her Daddy wore.
"Ah, you're no witch, you're a good girl," he chuckled.
"Nope, Daddy says I'm a witch. Mum too."
"Really? Well now," he looked back over his shoulder, quirking his eyebrow at the woman who had flagged him over, "did you see anyone around her?"
"No, just her sitting there in tears. She's calmed down a tad, but still seems really upset and scared."
"Okay, honey, want to tell me your name?"
Lily shook her head, tears running down her face, leaned forward and whispered into his ear, "Mum will use her stick on me if I tell."
"Yeah, can't say wand out here," she sniffed, shoving her thumb back in her mouth, "she says that's our secret."
"Well, little princess, she won't be using that stick on you, I can promise you that," he said through clenched teeth, hoisted her up on his hip and turned back to the woman. "Good thing you found her. I am taking her down to the station. Her parents will have some explaining to do on this one."
Ginny opened the broom cupboard, pushed the brooms aside and sighed in exasperation. Where is that child? she thought, growing angrier by the moment. Stomping to the stairs, she called up to the boys to keep looking and to stop playing games.
"Harry!" she yelled, "she wasn't there. Are you sure you checked the office. You know how she likes to hide under your desk."
"First place I looked," he called up from the cellar. "She's not in the house. I even tried a tracking spell. Ginny, she's gone."
"Great." Ginny chewed her lip and looked at the floo. "Last time she did this Mum accused me of being the worse mother in the world. Do you think she went to the Burrow again? Hermione would have brought her right back, and Fleur would have already sent me a howler. It would be like Mum to let me stew a while."
"Only if she knows how to reopen the…" Harry stopped and looked up the stairs. "James! Albus! Downstairs! Now!"
"It's still closed," Ginny whispered from inside the floo, already have checked its status. "Harry, I'm scared. What if…someone took her?"
"They'd pay you to take her back," James guffawed on his way down the stairs. "Right, Al?"
"Umm, yeah, sure," Al muttered, becoming interested in the day's mail that still sat on the table to the left of the front door.
"Ginny! Did you count the brooms, are you sure? She's rode off before," Harry said in a rush.
"Of course, they're all there."
"The Port keys, did you check them?"
"No, but your desk was still locked."
Harry turned and studied the boys, seeing James deep frown he focused on Albus, who stood toeing the floor with his trainer, inching towards the front door.
"Spill," he spat angrily, pulling Albus to him by the front of his shirt. "So help me, if you have done anything to her I will not be the last Potter to be locked in a cupboard under the stairs."
"Dad? I am wounded," Albus said in mock horror.
"Not as wounded as you're going to be young man!" Ginny grabbed him away from her husband, shaking him soundly. "Tell me now! Now! She's a baby! What did you do?"
"Mum, you're going nuts," James pried her hands off Albus' arms, seeing red marks already forming, as Harry wrapped his arms around her waist, picked her up and took two steps back.
"Nothing, it was a game…just a game. You know… Dad? Mum said you used to play dress up, and stuff like hide and seek all the time… I heard her talking to Aunt Hermione…that's all we were doing, honest."
"I have never played hide…"
"Not now, Harry," Ginny said, blushing. "I'll explain later. We just need to find her."
"So, how does this game…"
"Shite…" James cursed and spun around, running up the stairs two at a time. "Dad, please…I think I know where she is!"
Harry charged up behind him, finding him in his mother's cupboard, throwing clothes and robes over his shoulder.
"Mums, boa…it's gone. You know how she loved playing with that thing. She must have it on." He sat back on his knees and looked into the almost empty cupboard. "I thought maybe she had fallen asleep in here."
"What?" Ginny said in horror, peeking over Harry's shoulder. "She knows better. She knows not to play with that."
"Your Mum only wears it when she's out with the girls," Harry thought aloud. "Hon, when was the last time you needed to use it?"
"I…I don't even remember." She wrinkled her brow, concentrating as her tried to remember the last time she'd had too much to drink and needed a port key to get home. "But…it would have only brought her here. I' am sure I haven't needed it since before Lily was born…oh Merlin, no. The last time…I used it home and then spelled it back to go to Lavender but she made it back before I could send it. Do you think…?"
"Where?" Harry spun around and grabbed her shoulders. "It's okay, I'm not angry…yet…just ….do you remember where?"
Ginny nodded and grabbed her handbag, rifled around in the bottom and pulled out her business card holder, spilling the small cards on the bed. After several moments, she held up the one she was looking for and shoved it into Harry's hand.
"We were going here for dinner and a drink. It's…it's in Lodon."
"That's a pretty boa you have on," Officer Wilkins said, still trying to get the girl to talk.
"Give it up," Mandy looked up from her desk, "she's on to you."
"What's that mean?" he grumbled.
"Oh, I don't know, candy, ice cream, two packs of gum… she's just swallowing it you know, and what ever that is," she grinned, pointing to the take away that sat unopened on his desk. "Keep that up and she is going to vomit. She has more in her pocket you know, she came prepared."
"Will not," Lily said indignantly only to hiccup and ruin the effect.
Mandy winked at Wilkins and turned back to her work. "Yeah, I can hear you Mum now, yelling at you for eating all that candy before dinner. Bet she says, 'Daisy, you put that back.' "
"Nope," Lily giggled, "Says, 'Harry, get that away from her.'"
Wilkins snorted out a bark of laugher. "That worked."
"Yeah?" Mandy said, holding her finger to her lips, signalling Wilkins to shut up. "Bet your dad tells you a thing or two."
"Yeah," Lily hung her head sadly and sniffed. "He says 'Lils, you know how mum is' but he don't take my candy away. Not really. He hides it."
"I see," she smiled and wrote down her name, plus her father's.
"Then he shoves it at my Jay-Jay so I can have it later," she sniffed loudly.
"Your what?" Mandy looked at her and then turned to Wilkins. "Get Children's Services up here."
"Not now." Mandy jerked her head toward Lily, scowling.
"Ohh, you said a bad word," Lily said, her eyes getting round.
"It's okay," he smirked at her. "When your dad gets here you may hear a whole lot worse than that."
Ginny held Harry's arm, looking up at the sign over the police stations door. He patted her hand and told her not to worry, he was sure Lily would be fine, although he felt the pit of his stomach gnawing through to his bowels. If anything had happened, if anything had hurt her, or taken her away, he knew even with Ginny next to him he would fall apart.
"I'm scared, Harry, really scared."
"It's going to work out," he said evenly, pulling her forward and up the steps into the stone building. "Just let me do the talking, we don't need any slip ups. I've lived here."
"Harry?" Ginny whispered. "Take your robes off."
"Oh," he said sheepishly, shrugged them off and let Ginny do a shrinking spell before he tucked them in his pocket.
They waited at the front desk for what seemed an eternity after reporting Lily's disappearance, and the idea that she had wandered down to the street, trying to find a toy shop as they were browsing in a near by clothing shop. Even as Harry told the story, he knew how lame and preposterous it was.
"What if they don't believe us?" Ginny wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. "I want her back, I want her now. My gods, Harry, if you have to tell them the truth just do it. I don't care anymore. We can snatch her and apparate away, just ….please, find my baby. I'll tell them it's only me that's a witch, they can lock me up, just …please, find her!"
Harry pulled her to his chest and stroked her hair, laying his head down on hers and sighing. "I don't know what else to do. The Ministry's notified and your whole family is out looking. Ginny, I don't know what else to do."
"We can scatter pictures around, you know, and offer a reward."
"Do we have any pictures that don't move?"
"Oh…, well… we could say… how the fuck should I know? You lived here, you figure it out!"
"This way," the officer on duty called out to them, and jerked his head to an open door down the hallway.
Ginny slumped against Harry, as he draped his arm protectively around her shoulder. He felt her body shake as sobs ripped though her and tried to steel himself for the worse.
Ginny's head snapped up as she heard Lily's voice. She forcibly pushed Harry away and then raced down the hall to her baby, her husband close behind.
"Lily, oh my gods, my Lily," she cried out and rushed across the room, pulling the girl into her arms as her legs gave out and she fell to her knees, shushing and cooing into her child's hair.
"Lils," Harry grinned as he went down on one knee next to his girls, ruffling her hair and blinking back his own tears. "You had us worried there kid-o."
Lily lifted her head form her mothers shoulder and held out her arms to her father just before a stream of hot sticky vomit spewed from her mouth.
"Thanks," Harry wrinkled his nose, wanting nothing more to pull his wand and clean up the mess, but feeling Ginny's hand still his own, decided that for now he would have to put up with it.
"Sorry, Daddy," Lily said, her lip trembling. "I feel better now."
"Yeah, good." Harry stood up looking around for something to wipe off his shirt with. "Glad I could help you out with that."
"Sir," Mandy said softly, "We need to speak to you."
"Yeah, sure." He stepped away from his family, not wanting to let them out of his sight.
"We can go across the hall."
"No, I want to stay where I can watch them."
"Are you afraid to let Lily be alone with her mother?"
"No…well, just for now… we were really scared when we couldn't find her," he lowered his head and sniffed, smelling something that puzzled him. "What the bloody hell have you been feeding her?"
"Sir, that is no way to talk," Mandy said stiffly. "We have reason to believe your wife has been beating her, and we have some questions for you. If you will, please put your hands behind your back."
"What?"Harry snapped his head up to meet her eyes. "What the bloody hell… Lils?"
"Daddy!" Lily pushed and struggled against her mother, finally getting loose of Ginny's arms, and then flung herself around her father's legs, sitting on his feet and hugging his calves.
"It's okay." He looked to Ginny who hurried over to pry Lily's arms from around her father's legs.
"Gods!" Ginny looked up at harry in disgust. "You smell like a …"
"Lily?" Harry looked down and raised an eyebrow.
"That's enough, Wilkins, come get the kid. Okay Daddy, we have some questions about … her Jay-Jay."
Ginny snapped her eyes up and blanched, seeing Harry's look of confusion, his mouth flapping open like a fish, and Mandy walking over with a pair of cuffs. Without thinking beyond what she had to do, Ginny grabbed the feathered boa, and holding on to the ends, wrapped it around Harry's legs, leaving Lily trapped between them , and squeezing her eyes shut, muttered the incantation that would whisk them away.
Landing in the sitting room, she fell backwards, sitting on the floor and still looking up at Harry. "Don't ask, I'll tell you later."
"Lily, you can get up now." Harry tugged his shirt off over his head before pulling out his wand and cleaning first himself then Lily and the air. "Merlin, Lily, what have you …"
"Rum that's what!"
The boys thundered down the stairs, James picking up his sister and spinning her around.
"I wouldn't do that." Harry turned his head, sniffing his shoulder, still certain that he could still smell the vomit.
"No, don't stop them," Ginny put her hands on the hips and glared at Albus. "Why don't you take a turn?"
"What? She wanted a piece. I only gave her a little."
"Mums fruit cake. The Weasley Holiday Fruit Cake, the one with enough liquor in it to cripple a Hippogriff for a week! The one soaked in it for a bloody month!" She screamed shaking her finger two inches from Albus' face.
"I have to get going." Harry accioed a clean shirt and headed for the floo. "Have Ron meet me, I may need help. I'm not sure how many memory charms I'll be handing out tonight. And better call off the Weasley clan, tell them she's home."
"Be careful." She laid her hand on his arm. "They think you...umm...well…we can talk when you get home."
"When I get home I know two boys that are not going to be sitting for a week," he stormed.
"What did I do?" James asked, still hugging Lily.
"Nothing, that's the problem, you did nothing." He turned to Albus and only had to point to the stairs to send his youngest son crying from the room. "You too, give your sister to your mother."
"No," James said defiantly, looking down at Lily, whom was now laying on his shoulder yawning. "I'll make sure she gets cleaned up and put her to bed. She's as much mine as yours, you know."
Harry stood silently watching him walk up the stairs with Lily, who hung on to his neck and yawned widely.
"Don't be angry with him, Harry. He is his father's son, the way he watches over her."
"I guess," Harry sighed loudly. "Does it ever get easy?"
"With Lily …I don't think so. Now, get going before the Ministry has their hands full."
He paused just before opening the front door. "Ginny? What is a Jay-Jay?"
"I'll show you mine when you get home."
"That's what I thought," he said with a grin, and then hurried to his apparation point.