A/N: Right. I'm going to actually try and get on some sort of schedule with this story now. If you're still reading, you have the patience of a saint and should be rewarded with ice cream. All saints like ice cream. To all the saints out there - I hope you enjoy, and I hope you know what a rare, special, beautiful breed of reader you are.
There was something about being summoned to the head teacher's office that could still strike fear into the gut of the strongest man. Even when that man - or men - were adults with lives and careers and strange little families of their own.
When the Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was still one Professor Minerva McGonagall, one simply did not argue. The same woman who had taught them both and continued to teach unruly, sullen and uncooperative teenagers – so those two fearful men obeyed orders and were prompt in their arrival at her office.
"Would you care for tea?" she offered.
"I'm sure you're wondering why I asked you here," Professor McGonagall - even after all these years, Harry had trouble thinking of her as Minerva - asked. She sipped her tea and surveyed them over the top of her spectacles.
"Yeah," Harry said. "Kind of."
"It's Order business, if I'm honest, not school business," she admitted. "Unfortunately it's harder and harder for me to escape the school and come down to London. Thank you for making the journey here."
Charlie frowned, perplexed. Professor McGonagall continued.
"One of the duties of the Order is to seek out magical children who may be in danger all around the world, and either work with authorities in that area to bring the child to their attention, or to send one of our own in, if the situation warrants it."
"Okay," Harry said slowly.
McGonagall folded her hands on top of her desk.
"There is a very young child in Romania who we are concerned for. She was abandoned at birth by her Muggle mother, but it seems that her father was a wizard. She is currently being held in an orphanage but the nurses there are wary of her."
"You want us to go back," Charlie said softly.
"Yes," Professor McGonagall said, tilting her head to one side. "I would like very much for you to assess the situation for us."
"Why can't a member of the Order do it?" Harry asked.
"You're both members of the Order of the Phoenix," McGonagall said and raised her eyebrow. "On top of that, Mr Weasley has been living in Romania for the better part of a decade and is familiar with the language and customs of the country."
"We can do it," Charlie said. "Of course we can."
"What about my lessons?" Harry asked.
"I was hoping that you might be agreeable to doing this over a weekend. The lady in charge of the orphanage has agreed to see you on a Saturday."
Harry nodded, wondering if he could think of any other excuses not to do it. None sprang to mind.
"Excellent. I'll owl you the details as soon as I have them. Mr Potter, it might be best if you use Muggle walking aids for now, or a wheelchair."
"I'm not using a wheelchair," he said immediately. "I'll use the splints. And the crutches. What do we need to do, when we get there?"
"The ideal would be for you to take temporary custody and bring the child back to London. My sources suggest that her mother was British, Scottish, actually, and since the Romanian Wizarding Government seems reluctant to act in this instance, they have permitted my representatives to take action."
"Do we use magic?" Harry asked bluntly. "Force? Coercion?"
"You still think like an Auror, Mr Potter," Professor McGonagall said with a small smile. "These are Muggles you will be dealing with, remember. Although a small Confundus charm may not go amiss if you run into any trouble, I doubt very much that will happen. Mr Weasley is ideally placed to be able to take charge of the situation."
Charlie set his teacup down on the edge of the desk. "I'm a dragon keeper, Professor."
"Do not underestimate yourself, Mr Weasley," Professor McGonagall said in a firm tone. "I would not be asking for you to do this if I did not trust you implicitly. There can be no doubt that this child is in danger. The Muggles have already noticed that the child is not like others. It is of upmost importance that she is relocated to a magical family as soon as possible."
It was a warning that hung over their careful preparations to return to Romania. If all went well they were only intending to be there for two days; the first to travel there and make contact with the orphanage, they'd stay at Charlie's house overnight, then on the second day they'd collect the child and return to London.
Even though the request still sounded strange to his ears, Harry accustomed himself to the idea of a long journey. In all his years of being a member of the Order, he'd never been asked to take on a job like this. Still, it seemed like the sort of thing he'd be good at, what with his Auror training and everything.
And Charlie would be with him. Harry forced himself to think of it as a holiday.