Author’s Notes: Please don’t forget that J.K. Rowling the
Magnificent invented everything good in what you are about to read. Also don’t
forget that I have a lovely beta reader named NightZephyr, who is making this
possible. Finally, while I’m at it, don’t forget to add the fabric softener.
Harry swung the door open to a scream and a gasp that left
him with chills and brought his summer holidays to a sickening halt.
Holiday had really only just begun for Harry that afternoon
with his arrival at the Burrow. Privet Drive did not count as holiday, even
when the Dursleys provided the endless amusement of tiptoeing around him as
though on glass eggshells and anxiously inquiring if he’d written recently to
those, err, charming friends of his. Real holiday was shoveling down Mrs.
Weasley’s beef stew while Ron’s black knight kicked Harry’s white queen in the
knees and all the pawns egged him on.
Ron and Harry had the very serious responsibility of
guarding the Burrow’s front door, but weren’t too jumpy to enjoy each other’s
company. They didn’t discuss the wizarding world situation, and Ron hadn’t
tried to make Harry talk about Sirius, either. They were just two boys playing
wizard’s chess and burping occasionally because no one could hear them and look
disgusted or tell them off.
Death Eaters had to eat dinner as well so this was usually a
safe, quiet time of evening. After dessert was when Voldemort’s sadistic
lackeys liked to attack best. That was Mr. Weasley’s shift for now. Soon the
house would be bewitched into a fortress almost as secure as Grimmauld Place,
and with no pesky house-elves to complicate things.
But it wasn’t that safe yet, and when the doorbell rang, Ron
and Harry leapt. Not pausing to peek through the side window (too easy to get
hexed that way, and lose the advantage of surprise), Harry sprang into the
doorway, wand outstretched. Ron slipped behind him out of sight. His heart
thumping, a curse on his lips, Harry had the door open in seconds. He stopped
his spell in time, but that didn’t stop the scream, Hermione’s scream, that
stopped the holiday.
She brought her hands to her mouth and jumped backwards,
whispering, for some reason, “Not you, too.”
Harry didn’t understand what was happening, besides the fact
that he was terrifying one of his best friends. It wasn’t just the surprise of
someone with a wand appearing so quickly that had frightened her. She knew it
was him. She knew it was him and she was still looking at him in horror. It was
a sickening look.
But Ron, behind him, seemed to understand the situation
better than Harry did. He had the advantage of seeing past Hermione to the two
trembling tourists who were her parents. He also wasn’t being fixed with her
“No, Hermione!” Ron shouted, which made her jump again.
“We’re not going to hurt you! You just surprised us. It’s. . . Hermione. . .” he had stopped
yelling now. “What’re you doing here?”
The Grangers were supposed to be traveling Europe on a tour
of hamlets, villages, cloisters, out of the way places no one ever thought to
visit-- places no one would think to look for them. The itinerary had been
drawn up by Dumbledore himself and only he knew at any moment where exactly
they were. No postcards allowed, and, of course, no owls. Not even homing
pigeons. But here was Hermione, standing in the doorway of the Burrow, breaking
all the rules of security. Harry’s brain started working. Something had gone
He rephrased Ron’s question. “What happened?”
Hermione, by this time, had drawn herself up as well as
calmed a bit down, but she could only meet Harry’s eyes fleetingly before she
announced, “We’ve had a visit from the Malfoys.”