Chapter Thirty: Flight of the Weasleys
Easter, much like Christmas, is a bleak affair. Fred and George aren't able to get away from the shop, Charlie's still in Romania, and Bill and Fleur are holed up in their cottage, so it's just me and Mum and Dad – and "Ron," still bumping around and moaning something awful. I do some half-hearted work on school assignments and help Mum with the cooking, but mostly I just sit around and wonder how things possibly got this bad. I am, however, starting to look forward to Evenstar. I still don't really understand what it is besides a giant, bi-annual centaur celebration, but the bit of Rhea nestled next to my heart is burning a little brighter than usual, counting down the days until April 13.
Easter Sunday passes in relative quiet. The three of us make a small dinner and toast to our missing friends. I'm helping Mum marshal the dishes into washing themselves when a piercing, chattering ringing shoots through the house. I clap my hands over my ears, dropping a small handful of utensils in the process.
"What the bloody hell is that?" I shout over the noise. "Are we under attack?"
"Language, Ginevra!" Mum snaps, looking positively scandalized. Dad's face, however, clears out of its confused scrunch.
"It's the fellytone!" He shouts, scampering to the linen closet. He throws a pile of clean towels to the ground ("Now, really," Mum sighs) and digs out a bright red, plastic contraption held together more by tape and wires than anything else. I vaguely remember Dad excitedly bringing it home a few years back and Ron trying to use it to get in touch with Harry over one summer – it involved rather a lot of shouting.
The shouting hasn't changed, apparently, as Dad picks up part of the device, holds it at away from his head at arms' length, and shouts, "HELLO? HELLO? YES – THIS IS ARTHUR WEASLEY!"
A tinny mutter comes out of the device, and we all strain to hear it.
"WHAT? WHAT? THIS IS ARTHUR WEASLEY – PLEASE SPEAK UP!"
"Dad, you're going to have to put it close to – oh, for Merlin's sake," I say, walking to him and taking the device. I hold an end of it to my ear and speak calmly. "Hello? This is Ginny Weasley."
"Hey, little sister! What was all that yelling about?"
"I think Dad still doesn't know how to use the telephone," I say, rolling my eyes. "He apparently wasn't listening when Hermione explained."
"I was, too!" Dad exclaims.
"Were not," Charlie, Mum, and I chorus. I giggle into the phone.
"You lot have a Muggle telephone at the habitat?" I ask.
"No, I hiked to the nearest Muggle town and borrowed one from a friendly sloshed chap," he says. "I can't talk long, just wanted to give you all my love on the holiday."
"Couldn't make it back, huh?"
"International travel's a bit dodgy right now, Gin. I'm safer staying here for the time being. Anyway, listen – are you okay?"
"What?" I turn to my parents, both of whom are still watching me expectantly. "Why don't the two of you keep cleaning up, and I'll pass Charlie to you in a minute?"
They obediently turn back to the dishes. Charlie continues speaking in my ear. "I got your letter. I've got to tell you, I haven't had mail by phoenix in, well, ever."
I sigh and talk quietly. "You weren't supposed to see it. I just wanted to get the words out, and I was going to burn it, but Fawkes took it before I could."
"I'm sorry about Meg."
"Yeah." I can feel tears prickling at the back of my eyes. "I'm going to give you over to Mum now, okay? Love you, Happy Easter, try to come home over the summer?"
"Wait, Gin -!" I hand the phone to my expectant mother, cutting him off, and busy myself with a particularly stubborn butter dish. Don't think about Meg. Don't think about Luna. Don't think about any of them, just…clean.
Before Mum's done speaking to Charlie, I have myself back under control.
I spend most of Monday traipsing around the house, gathering my things, getting ready to head back to Hogwarts the next morning. It's amazing how the entire contents of my trunk have managed to explode into every nook and cranny of the Burrow, although I've only been here a few days. I drag my feet, nervous about what I'll find when I get back to the castle, so I'm still packing late into the night, after Mum and Dad have gone to bed.
When the silver lynx appears, I'm the only one awake to receive it. I see it lingering on the threshold of my bedroom, and every awful memory of Bill and Fleur's wedding comes rushing back at once.
"What…what is it?" I ask, my voice trembling.
"Harry, Ron, and Hermione have been captured. Your brother's alliance with Harry Potter is no longer secret. Your family is in danger."
The lynx disappears, and for a moment I am paralyzed, but a rush of adrenaline surges through my veins and I skid down the stairs to my parents' room, screaming for them to wake up.
Dad meets me in the hallway, rumpled from sleep. "What's all the racket?"
"Message from Shacklebolt," I gasp, rubbing an elbow I banged into a wall on the way. "They've been captured – Harry, Ron, Hermione. They know Ron's with Harry – we're not safe."
Dad blinks at me for a second, then jolts into motion. "Finish packing. We are leaving in two minutes. MOLLY! THE BAGS!"
What bags? I wonder as I throw myself back up the stairs. I chuck things into my trunk from all angles, and when it's stuffed, I do a quick whirl in place, checking for anything I've missed. I heave my window open and haul Fawkes' roost and Pig's cage over to the desk.
"You have to go," I say, trying to push them out the window. "It's not safe here – you'll find me when we're somewhere else, but you have to go, and I can't take the two of you, only Arnold – where's Arnold?"
As if in answer, Fawkes swoops by me and gathers Arnold up by some of his stomach fluff. Arnold makes a disgruntled whirring sound, but doesn't appear too distressed. Fawkes hops back over to the windowsill.
"Are you sure?" I ask, wringing my hands. "I don't know when I'll see you again, I don't know how long you'll have to look after him."
Fawkes chirrups and flies out the window, batting me in the head with a wing on the way. Pig gives my finger a nip and follows, flapping three times as rapidly to keep up.
At that moment, there is a resounding crash from the kitchen. I stifle a scream and drop to the floor – could Death Eaters be here already? - but an instant later, a familiar voice is yelling up the stairs.
"Who the bloody hell put this table here?" Bill roars. "Mum, Dad, Ginny, we have to go now – they caught Ron with Harry!"
I literally throw my trunk down the stairs, narrowly avoiding a disastrous collision with Bill on his way up. Mum and Dad clamber out of their bedroom, packed bags thrown over their shoulders and coats buttoned over pajamas.
I eye their bags suspiciously. "You were expecting this?"
Dad pulls Bill into a one-armed hug. "We're the biggest family of blood traitors in history, Ginny. It was bound to happen."
Bill hugs Mum and me in quick succession. "Where will you go?"
"Muriel's is protected," Dad says. "I'm the Secret-Keeper. Put a Fidelius Charm on the cottage as soon as you get back, do you hear me?"
I'm in awe of my dad at moments like this. He is so often scatter-brained, but the second his family is in danger, he's one of the steadiest, most reliable men I've ever met.
"I will," Bill promises. He hugs us each again, fiercely this time, and then a series of small explosions starts up outside.
"ARTHUR WEASLEY. MOLLY WEASLEY. GINEVRA WEASLEY. YOUR FAMILY IS ACCUSED OF HAVING IMPROPER ALLIANCES WITH CATEGORY ONE PUBLIC ENEMIES." A magically enhanced voice booms through the house, chilling me to the bone.
Mum gives Bill one last kiss on the cheek. "Take care of yourself."
"You do the same," Bill says, and Disapparates. Dad wraps an arm around my shoulders, I wind my fingers into the pocket of his coat, and we turn tightly on the spot.
My ears pop and we're looking at Aunt Muriel's country mansion. I've been here only once before, when I was very small, but it looks just as I remember: huge, ever-so-slightly rundown, and half hidden in the woods. Dad sprints to the door and throws it open, revealing a very perturbed Aunt Muriel. Dad pushes Mum and me through the door, then Disapparates again without a word.
"Molly! Ginny! Where's he off to?" Aunt Muriel demands. I look up at Mum, but she's white as the Bloody Baron and seems to be having a hard time breathing.
"Fred and George," I guess, helping Mum sit down on a bench in the entryway. "If Dad's the Secret-Keeper, they won't be able to find this place or get in without him bringing them."
Aunt Muriel's face wrinkles and smooths several times at the mention of Dad being the Secret-Keeper. "So it's happened, then. We've been found out."
"They caught Ron and Hermione with Harry," I explain.
The three of us are still standing in the open doorway, staring out into the darkness, a when Fred, George, and Dad pop out of thin air and hurry towards the house.
"Really, ladies," Fred says, folding me into his lanky arms as George does the same to Mum, "Fidelius only works if you keep the door closed."
Hours later – nearly three in the morning, by my watch – only Fred, George, and I are still awake, sitting around a fireplace in one of Aunt Muriel's living rooms. We fell silent hours ago, but sleep is out of the question. My mind plays a constant loop of horrible images – I've seen (and lived) what our new leadership does to those who break the rules, and we've all been students up until this point. Now that we're outlaws, the consequences are surely immeasurably worse.
The three of us all reach for our pockets at the same time, and we laugh as each produces a D.A. Galleon, little letters shining a dim red in the firelight.
Trio captured. Anyone know if Ws are safe? –NL
"Oh, Neville," I sigh. I quickly send back Ws safe, no news on trio. – GW.
Almost immediately, the coin flips to a new message: Luna and Dean safe. –LL
"WHAT?" I shriek, jolting up out of my armchair. At the same moment, a silvery wolf-like Patronus skids into the room.
"Luke?" I gasp, my brain spinning in several directions at once. As soon as the name is out of my mouth, though, I know it's not him – this wolf is smaller in stature, less wolf-y and more Labrador-y. It speaks with Bill's voice.
"Luna Lovegood, Dean Thomas, Garrick Ollivander, and the goblin Griphook were just delivered to Shell Cottage by Dobby. They're in rough shape, but they're okay. They say Harry and Ron are trying an escape, but they have to save Hermione first. Stay here so I can find you again, hold on - ."
The Patronus dematerializes, but another wolf Patronus darts into the room at once. This one looks more like Luke's, but it's still not him – Lupin.
"Fidelius Charm up at Dora's parents," it says. "All safe here – send word when you can."
Lupin's wolf disappears. I let my legs give out and collapse back into the armchair. "Bloody hell."
"No kidding," Fred echoes weakly.
"I'm going to wake Mum and Dad," George says after a minute. He heads for the door, but has to leap out of the way of Bill's Patronus, back with another message.
"Ron, Harry, and Hermione are here," it pants, like it ran the distance between Bill's and Aunt Muriel's. "They escaped. We lost Dobby, but everyone else is safe."
Our cheers of elation and cries of mourning for Dobby are enough to rouse our parents and Aunt Muriel. Dad sends Patronus messages to Lupin and Bill while Luna and I give the best updates we can to the rest of the D.A. given the limit to how many words you can fit on a Galleon.
"So. What's next?" George asks. The six of us sit around Aunt Muriel's dining room table, blinking owlishly in the just-breaking rays of dawn, sipping cups of strong tea. Another hellish night gives way to a dim, grey morning.
"Well," I say, "I'm due on the Hogwarts Express in two hours."
"Absolutely not," my parents say together.
"You'd be arrested the minute you got to King's Cross Platform," Mum continues.
"We're officially friends of Public Enemy Number One," Fred says, looking overly solemn. "There's a joke in there somewhere."
"Not the time, George!" Mum shrieks.
"I'm a student," I protest. "I can't just not go back to school! I know that it'd be dangerous, I understand that, I do, but -."
"Not dangerous, suicidal," Dad interrupts.
"Not suicidal, idiotic."
"Not idiotic, positively hare-brained."
"Not hare-brained, rabbit-footed."
"Children, please," Aunt Muriel sighs.
"I am not a child!" I shout, slamming a palm flat against the table. "I may be young, but I stopped be a child when they were captured. I stopped being a child when Michael was tortured in front of the entire school for trying to free an eleven-year old from the dungeons. When Meg died, when Luna was kidnapped, when I had to watch a Third Year get whipped until she couldn't even cry anymore, when Bill and Fleur's wedding exploded. When Dumbledore died. When Cedric Diggory died. When a giant snake roamed the halls, Petrifying students." I look each member of my family in the eye in turn. "I know you think we're just students. Just children. That we don't understand what's really going on. But believe me, not one at Hogwarts has been a child in years."
There's a moment of stunned silence. I take deep, steadying breaths, trying to calm the Rhea-flame next to my heart that has flared up dangerously. I'm going to Grow the trees from the woods straight through Aunt Muriel's parlor windows if I'm not careful.
"You're safer here, Ginny," Dad says gently.
"And what about every other student who's going to get on that train in two hours? They need me. I have a job to do."
"Why?" Fred asks.
"What?" I sigh, exasperated.
"Why is it your job?"
"Because…because…because it was Harry's. It was Harry's job, and Hermione's, and Ron's. But they have a different job to do now. So this one falls to me. What happened to Michael and Bailey and Hagrid – it's my fault. I can't sit safely in this house while everyone else is still fighting back at school."
There are confused looks on my family's faces – they don't know what I mean about Michael, Bailey, and Hagrid. They didn't know about Meg, either. I can't bring myself to explain, and I can tell that I'm not winning this particular argument. Not yet, anyway. So I head for the door.
I pause halfway through the doorframe. "You know, all those examples I gave – that's when anyone else could have stopped being a child. Grown up. That's when it could have become real for everyone else. But I know exactly – exactly – when it happened for me."
"Oh?" Mum prompts. There is tension in her shoulders, between her eyes, in her tightly knotted fingers.
"When I was eleven years old, Lucius Malfoy slipped a blank diary into my cauldron at Diagon Alley." My mother's hands still. "That's when I stopped being a child. Carrying the Dark Lord around inside your head for a few months does wonders for maturity."
[A/N] Sorry for the delay, folks! I'm getting into that part of the story where I have to fact-check myself against Deathly Hallows pretty frequently, so it's slow going. On that note, I will soon be diverging from canon. Not in a huge way, but the differences you may notice in the next several chapters are 100% intentional – if they both you a lot, I'm happy to chat about them over PM
-Guest [ch9]: Both are very good guesses! Welcome to the party; I hope you keep reading!
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-Isa [ch3]: I know I changed her named at one point and didn't go back and make updates everywhere, but once I finish the entire story I plan on going back and editing each chapter for stuff like grammar and names and such. Thanks for catching it!
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