Once upon a time - Chapter One: Boredom at the Burrow
Harry Potter books, and all characters therein are belong to J. K. Rowling, © 2001/2002 Warner bros. In short, they aren't mine, so please don't sue.
A/N - I originally wanted the title to be the Latin translation of "Once upon a time", but in asking on Sugar Quill's Forum about the translation (I know nothing about Latin) I was told the phrase could be translated into one Latin word, "Olim" I decided to leave the title in English instead. I'd also like to thank my wonderfully patient Beta-Reader, Seldes Katne, who puts up with my horrible grammar.
Once upon a time
Chapter one: Boredom at the Burrow
At the Burrow
There always seemed to be something going on at the Burrow during summer holiday. Invited by Ginny, Hermione had come to stay for two weeks before the start of school. The fact that she'd come to the Burrow instead of heading off to Bulgaria pleased Ron of course, though he tried not to let it show. The first few days they'd taken advantage of some really gorgeous weather and spent most of the time outdoors. But the last two days weren't so gorgeous. Rain poured down in sheets over the Burrow, leaving them with little to do.
Beware of everything;
Harry had arrived the same day it started raining, and they'd spent the entire day playing this game or that. They kept mostly to Ron's bedroom, but spent a long time playing Gobstones in the living room after dinner. The next day, Hermione felt she should spend a little time with Ginny, as she was technically Ginny's guest. Ron and Harry didn't seem to mind, and decided they would busy themselves by adding to the list of ways to get Malfoy expelled that they'd started the summer after their first year. So Hermione had been in Ginny's room for most of the morning, but all they'd done so far was read. Ginny, unlike Hermione, usually got bored with reading after a few hours.
Ginny snapped her book shut and made a frustrated sigh. "I'll die of boredom, I'm sure of it!" she muttered, turning to look out the rain-speckled window. She sighed again. "What do you usually do when it rains?" she asked, turning to look at Hermione.
"Read mostly," replied Hermione, marking her place and setting aside her history book. "But I've read just about every book at home ten times at least."
Ginny lay back on the bed, her head thumping gently on the wall behind her. She let it rest there for a moment, staring at the ceiling. A smile suddenly popped onto her face, and she propped herself up on her elbows and spoke.
"Dad keeps some old book up in the attic! I bet there are some you haven't read before," she said enthusiastically. She hopped up off her bed and stepped across the room to Hermione's camp bed. D'you want to have a look?" asked Ginny, lightly jerking her head toward the door.
"Okay, but what about the Ghoul?" said Hermione, standing. Ginny smiled and headed toward the door.
"Oh, he'll have to be dealt with," she said as they headed down the stairs to the second landing. "Not by us, mind you." Ginny knocked briskly on a door bearing a small wooden sign that said "Percy's Room".
"What is it, I asked not-" came a voice from behind the door. Ginny interrupted.
"It's me, Percy. Can you come to the door?" she said loudly. A few seconds later the door opened and Percy appeared, looking rather perturbed.
"Ginny, I'm working," he started, then caught sight of Hermione. "Oh, hello, Hermione."
"Percy, Hermione and I want to look at some of those old books Dad keeps in the attic, can you lock up the ghoul?" Ginny asked. Percy's perturbed look was back.
"Can't you get Mum or Dad to do it? I'm far too busy," he said irritably.
"Oh yes, international ban on Gutwrenches Weedkiller," said Ginny sarcastically.
"It may sound-"
"Dad's as busy as you are-"
"-but it's a very real threat-"
"-and Mum will just say we have no business snooping around up there," Ginny shouted over Percy. He sniffed once and looked down at her importantly.
"Well, she'd be right. You don't need to be snooping around up there. Now, I'll ask you not to interrupt me anymore." With that, Percy shut the door stiffly.
"Fine!" Ginny shouted, slamming her fist against his door so hard the wooden "Percy's Room" sign came loose on one side. "We'll just go up there and wrestle the ghoul into the trunk! And when we've got black eyes and bloodied lips, you can have yourself to thank!" Ginny turned and huffed up the stairs.
"It's all right, Ginny. I'd rather not wrestle a ghoul," said Hermione.
"We're not going to," said Ginny passing straight by her bedroom door and continuing up the stairs. "Fred and George aren't underage Wizards anymore," she added, stopping in front of a door with another wooden sign. This one said Fred and George's Room, beneath it, carved in the wooden sign was "(Gred and Forge's Room)" just below that was yet another sign, tacked onto the door. This one was parchment, and it read.
enter at your own risk!
(we aren't kidding this time!)
As Ginny raised her hand to knock, the walls shook with a deep boom from behind the door. Dust and tiny bits of plaster sprinkled down over them. Ginny rapped quickly on the door.
"Fred! George! Are you two all right?" she said through the door. She pressed her ear against the door to listen. Through the door, Hermione could hear one or the other twin talking in a hushed, frantic voice.
"Clean it up, clean it up!" said one twin. A moment later the door opened just wide enough for one twin to fit his blackened face into.
"Morning, Ginny, morning, Hermione!" chortled Fred or George; Hermione never could tell them apart though Ginny always said they didn't look much alike.
"Fred, what happened?" Ginny said, crouching to try and see under Fred's head. He shifted his body so that he completely covered the small crack in the doorway.
"Nothing, just a little too much- well, don't worry about it," he said brightly. Behind the door, George had gone into a coughing fit. Fred pulled his head back away from the door to look in on his twin and Ginny and Hermione caught a glimpse of soot-covered walls inside the twins' bedroom. Ginny and Hermione exchanged a glance and rolled their eyes.
"Well, it wasn't anything, so-"
"Fred," Ginny interrupted, "Hermione and I want to go have a look at some of Dad's old books in the attic. Can you lock up the ghoul for us?" asked Ginny.
"Can't you get Percy- oh yeah," Fred interrupted himself with a glum expression. He ducked his head back inside the room. "You hear?" he said to George, who must've nodded because a moment later, Fred stepped through the door, making sure to pull it closed close behind him.
"Dunno why you'd want to look at Dad's old books. They're all about Muggles. Uncle Frank's books are better. Mind you, me and George kept the best ones," he said as they headed up the stairs toward the top landing. Hermione wondered what kind of books Fred and George would count as "the best." She decided she'd rather not know.
Hermione had only known of one door on the top landing: the door to Ron's bedroom. She'd never noticed an attic door or entrance up there, but then, she hadn't paid much attention to the top floor landing. The attic at her home was only accessible by way of a small two-foot square panel that could be slid out of the way. She knew some attics had hideaway stairs that could be pulled down to gain access. So when she reached the top landing, she immediately started to search the ceiling, but there found no movable panel, no signs of hideaway stairs, or any other signs that there was a way to get into the attic. Maybe it's in Ron's room, she thought. But no sooner had she gotten the thought out than Fred had pulled out his wand and poked a dark knot in the panel beside Ron's bedroom door.
The panel to the immediate right of Ron's door popped open. It was barely big enough for a person to slip through and it was too low for someone like Ron or Percy to fit through. At first, even after so much time in the Wizarding world, Hermione wondered how they were supposed to fit through it. Then it dawned on her, they'd just use an Enlargement Charm.
"You know, I think Ginny kept a few of Mum's best books," said Fred, waggling his eyebrows. Just then, Ron's bedroom door opened.
"I did not, Fred!" said Ginny, going a deep shade of scarlet. She hit Fred lightly on the arm, but her eyes were focused somewhere inside Ron's bedroom.
"What's up? Going up in the attic for something?" asked Ron. Ginny nodded and the color started to fade from her face. Harry appeared behind Ron.
"Yeah, Hermione and I wanted to have a look at some of Dad's old books," said Ginny, her eyes wandered behind Ron once or twice.
Ron turned excitedly toward Harry. "Oh yeah, Uncle Frank kept some old spellbooks up there too, we were never allowed to read them," said Ron. "Want to go?"
Harry shrugged. "Okay," he said, tossing down a deck of exploding snap cards which exploded all over Ron's floor.
"Right," said Fred. "Autus" he said, the open panel wiggled and squirmed until it was the size of Ron's bedroom door. Hermione took a look inside. There was a rickety looking staircase that faded into darkness. With Fred in lead, they ascended the steps into the pitch black attic.
Where it all begins…
After Fred had locked away the ghoul and they'd taken the thick black covers off the windows, Hermione got her first glimpse at the largest room in the Burrow. She had been around the Burrow enough to have a relative idea of how big in area it was. But the attic looked three times as big as the rest of the Burrow. It too, was probably enlarged, though even for an enlargement, this was something. It was easily sixty or sixty-five feet wide and probably just as long. And filled with the greatest assortment of things Hermione had ever seen.
Aside from the trunks that stood in stacks here and there, there were Muggle objects hanging off the rafters; a bike tire, an old hand saw, a pair of trainers. In the center of the room, hovering nearly a foot in the air, was a giant globe. There was some half broken old furniture scattered here and there. Against the far wall was a deluxe wardrobe that looked big enough to fit a Hogwarts four-poster bed inside. In one corner stood a massive cauldron filled with what looked like chicken feathers.
And then there were the books…
A long bookcase took up one entire wall. Though inclined forward at over a forty-five degree angle, most of the books were still sitting on the shelves. Stacks of books also lay here and there. Before heading back downstairs, Fred had kicked open a few trunks filled with dusty old books that had once belonged to the Weasleys' Uncle Frank. Hermione contented herself to looking through a few of the stacks, while Ron and Harry sifted through one of the trunks Fred had opened.
The Hogwarts Library had thousands of books, mostly non-fiction, though they did have a modest fiction section. But Hermione had never heard of any of these titles. "The Potion-maker's Cauldron, Dragonheart: the story of Dregda Drindle," Hermione read a few titles as she sorted them into piles; books she wanted to read, and books that looked less interesting or that she'd already read. "Charmed Summer?" said Hermione, reading the title of a ratty old softcover.
"That's one of Mum's old romance books," said Ginny, pointing at the tattered cover. "I was never allowed to read them," she added, going a little pink. Hermione got the idea that Ginny knew why she wasn't allowed to read them. Ginny reached into the trunk and pulled out another book, possibly to get off the subject of her Mum's old romance books.
"What's this one, Hermione?" asked Ginny, brandishing a dusty hardcover book. "The Tale of Robin Hood: Thief, Knave, Hero," she read aloud. Hermione reached up to give the book a closer look. It was an old Muggle story, and Hermione wondered why it was among all these wizard novels. She took the book and wiped off some of the dust. On the cover was a familiar scene of a man in a green woodland outfit, drawing back a bow to shoot at a target.
"It's a Muggle story, isn't it?" asked Ginny. Hermione nodded distractedly, and opened the book. She caught sight of a single Latin word on the title page, "Olim" but she only saw it for a split second. The next moment, a bright light swelled from the center of the book, which seemed to be making a loud sucking noise. Before Hermione knew it, the entire attic seemed to pitch toward the book. She fought to keep her balance but she felt like the floor she was sitting on had tilted almost perpendicular to the book. With an almighty lurch, Hermione lost her balance and fell head first into the book.
* * *
Ginny shrieked as soon as she saw the blinding light jump out of the book. Hermione's body seemed to be stretching into the book. Ginny took a step toward her just as Hermione's heels zipped into the book. It fell with a thud on the floor, closed once more. With little thought, Ginny picked up the book and opened it. The blinding light jumped out at her and the whole floor lurched. Ginny was thrown off balance and she tumbled forward, into the book.
* * *
Ron was already on his feet by the time Ginny picked up the book.
"Ginny!" he shouted, closing the distance between them in almost a single step. She'd already opened the book and was starting to be pulled in. Ron grabbed her around the waist, but a split second later he felt the floor tilt violently toward the book. With his arms wrapped around Ginny, there was no way he could keep on his feet. He fell forward, trailing Ginny into the book.
* * *
The book landed hard on the floor, snapping shut ominously. Harry stood for a second or two wondering if he should follow. Or would it be a better idea to go get Mrs. Weasley.
No, he thought, If they're in danger, I need to help them as soon as possible. He picked up the book and held it in his hands for a second. Then he got an idea. He went back toward the staircase that led back down to the top landing of the Burrow. The floor was clear there so when the book fell, it would be easy to find. He set the book on the floor in plain view, took a deep breath and opened it. He saw the blinding white light pour out of the book toward him. He felt the floor jerk toward the book and offered no resistance against it. Head first, he tumbled into the book.
To be continued…